The Paul Douglas Alliance: Profiles in courage, City Council style | Bleader

The Paul Douglas Alliance: Profiles in courage, City Council style


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From left to right: Aldermen Rey Colon, Pat Dowell, James Cappleman, Joe Moore, Will Burns, Michelle Smith, Brendan Reilly, Joe Moreno and Ameya Pawar
  • Brian Jackson/Sun-Times
  • From left to right: Aldermen Rey Colon, Pat Dowell, James Cappleman, Joe Moore, Will Burns, Michele Smith, Brendan Reilly, Joe Moreno, and Ameya Pawar
As you may have heard, ten "independent" aldermen recently banded together to form the Paul Douglas Alliance.

Their mission is to appear to be independent of Mayor Emanuel.

Which is different than your average alderman, who makes no pretense of being independent.

On Monday, the alliance—named for a former Illinois senator—issued a statement regarding the recent school closings.

As a public service, I will now provide a passage-by-passage translation of its statement to help you, the voter, appreciate what's really going on.

And away we go . . .

"Last week the Chicago Public Schools announced its plans to close or consolidate 54 elementary schools."

Translation: We gotta say something.

"While not all members of the Alliance face the issue of school closings in their individual wards, several members do."

Translation: If only to look like we give a hoot about all those parents, teachers, and students taking to the streets.

"Moreover, we understand the importance of public education in a democratic society, for equality, and Chicago's future economic competitiveness."

Translation: At the same time, we don't want to offend Mayor Emanuel, who's the one behind the closings in the first place.

"We have witnessed parents and community residents describe their fears of the impact of the Chicago Board of Education's planned closings."

Translation: So we're going to write a few paragraphs about the school closings without mentioning the mayor who's ultimately responsible for closing them. Which, trust us, is not that easy to do.

"We want high quality public schools for every child in the City of Chicago. We are also painfully aware that the Chicago Public Schools faces a budget deficit of $1 billion, no reserves, and continued reductions in state and federal funding."

Translation: But we will try, nonetheless, because—you have absolutely no idea what a mean, nasty, vindictive, F-bomb-dropping motherfu**er this guy can be.

"We strongly encourage the Chicago Board of Education to carefully sift through evidence provided by community residents and leaders for removing schools from the proposed closure list."

Translation: Or maybe you do—especially if you're one of the tens of thousands of parents, teachers, principals, and students whose lives he's turning upside down with these closings.

"We strongly encourage the Chicago Board of Education to work with the community to plan either the adaptive reuse or redevelopment of closed school buildings and to execute those plans as soon as possible."

Translation: We realize the mayor rigged this debate from start to finish to make the schools look more underutilized than they really are and thus justify closing more schools than he has to.

"We strongly encourage the Chicago Board of Education to listen to community concerns regarding public safety, and to create school attendance boundaries and safe passage programs to mitigate the specter of gang violence."

Translation: But don't expect us to do anything about it except . . .

"Given that the Chicago Public Schools' fiscal challengers are a driver to close elementary schools, we strongly encourage the Chicago Board of Education and the Chicago Teachers Union to build a statewide campaign to increase state support for public education."

Translation: . . . issue meaningless calls for action.

"Article X of the Illinois Constitution clearly states that the state has the primary responsibility of financing public education, yet state funding of public schools has continued to decline."

Translation: And blame the state!

"We strongly encourage the United States Congress and the President of the United States to fully fund any and all federal education mandates."

Translation: The feds too!

"Finally, we are committed to supporting great neighborhood schools in every community of our city."

Translation: Mission accomplished! We filled up a page and a half without mentioning Mayor Emanuel. Long live City Council independence!

Paul Douglas Alliance
Aldermen Proco Joe Moreno (First), Pat Dowell (Third), Will Burns (Fourth), Rey Colon (35th), Brendan Reilly (42nd), Michele Smith (43rd), James Cappleman (46th), Ameya Pawar (47th), Harry Osterman (48th), and Joe Moore (49th)

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