The schools are pawns in Rahm and Rauner's game


Bruce Rauner - AP/M. SPENCER GREEN
  • AP/M. Spencer Green
  • Bruce Rauner

As the Chicago's Public School system heads towards teacher layoffs and a possible strike, Governor Rauner flew home from his vacation in the Moroccan desert to continue his fight with Mayor Emanuel.

A fight that no one—as far as I can tell—believes is real.

Rauner told reporters that he spent two wonderful weeks in Spain and Morocco, where he rode a camel, slept in a tent, ate exotic foods, and urinated on his hands to toughen his calluses.

Wait! It was Moises Alou, former Cubs outfielder, who urinated on his hands. Though it sounds like the sort of thing a macho billionaire, like Rauner, might do to fortify himself for another round of snatching money from autism patients.

Fired up from the camels and the tents, Rauner called Rahm "tone deaf" for resisting investigations into the police and law departments.

He also said if Emanuel had only taken his advice on education there would be no need for teacher layoffs.

Not sure what advice Rauner's talking about since his only suggestion for improving public schools seems to be closing more of them. 

Mayor Emanuel returned the volley, issuing a statement that said Rauner "should stop exploiting Chicago for his extreme agenda and start leading to solve the issues challenging the state."

I have to admit, the mayor's got a point with that one—even if it sounds like the kind of statement the press office came up with after voluminous e-mail exchanges.

The mayor also told reporters that Rauner's using the schools as pawns in his political game against House Speaker Michael Madigan.

To which Rauner said Rahm was afraid to take on Madigan.

At which point, Rahm stomped his feet and slapped his baseball mitt against this thigh.

Wait! That was Moises Alou again—after Steve Bartman reached over to bat away that foul ball. Remember that?

Anyway, I'm not sure who Rauner and Rahm think they're fooling with this phony little feud they pretend they're having. 

The only good thing to come out of it is that it gives me another opportunity to point out that each man helped the other make millions in the early 2000s, when Rahm's investment bank company helped Rauner's private equity company acquire SecurityLink from telecom giant SBC Communications.

Back then, the mayor was working as an investment banker for Wasserstein Perella & Co.

I'm pretty sure he got that job because of his influence in Washington, going back to his days as an aide in the Clinton White House.

Well, he certainly didn't start as a teller who worked his way up the ranks.

So, of course, the Rauner/Rahm fight's not for real. As they'll probably need the other somewhere down the road, when they leave office to make even more money.

In the meantime, they have their political interests.

Rauner wants to force Emanuel to join his crusade against collective bargaining rights.

And the mayor wants to make Rauner the fall guy for the contract concessions he's trying to force the Chicago Teachers Union to take. 

Meanwhile, the teachers are gearing up for layoffs that may come any day. That will force principals to scramble to rearrange classes in the middle of the school year. 

Let's face it, folks. Until they go back to the money-making business, we're all just pawns in their game.

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