Mayor Rahm's great plan for education: Bankrupt the schools! | Bleader

Mayor Rahm's great plan for education: Bankrupt the schools!


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Hedge-fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin
  • Brendan Smialowski/Bloomberg News
  • Hedge-fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin
It's been over two weeks since Mayor Emanuel released his plans to build a basketball arena and hotel near McCormick Place that nobody asked for and nobody needs.

It's an economic development scheme that turns logic upside down: he proposes to spend $55 million in property taxes today in order to lose untold millions in property taxes tomorrow.

Here, read all about it.

It's got to be the dumbest economic development plan in Chicago since Mayor Daley bought Michael Reese Hospital.

You can read about that one, too—if you dare.

Of course, an idea being dumb won't stop Illinois state reps and senators from approving it, as they move heaven and earth to avoid receiving a profanity-laced late-night phone call from our tempestuous mayor.

Looks like we're really going to need that veto, Governor Quinn.

At the moment, I'm having trouble finding one ordinary citizen of Chicago who supports this lunacy, other than a reader who goes by the name of "calihae2."

You know things are rough for the mayor when the only people who support his ideas are going incognito. Though for all I know calihae2 is the mayor, or one of his brothers.

Anyway, calihae2 sent me the following e-mail: "Ben, I am no fan of Rahm's but I will say that the $55 million spent on his grand plan is money better spent there then on a failed government run school system. It amazes me that you could support the kind of system that has a 50% failure rate. And a good portion of the kids that do graduate from CPS are functionally illiterate!!!!"

Hmm, interesting concept. Improving education by bankrupting the schools.

Now that I think about it, this sounds like the central thrust of the mayor's public education initiative. Hey, maybe calihae2 is actually David Vitale, the mayor's board of education president.

Actually, calihae2 is not alone. Not long ago a gazillionaire hedge fund manager named Kenneth Griffin gave a speech where he chided Mayor Rahm for closing only 50 schools.

Just so you know, Griffin is a Republican. Nonetheless, he and his wife and his company donated almost $240,000 to Emanuel's mayoral campaign.

Wait, maybe calihae2 is Griffin! I wonder—have they ever been seen in the same room together?

It just goes to show you that my Green Party friends are right when they tell me that there's really not a whole hell of a lot of difference between Republicans and Democrats. I guess Mayor Rahm represents the Democratic wing of the Republican Party.

While we're on the subject, I'd like to propose a swap. Yo, Republicans, we'll take New Jersey governor Chris Christie if you take Mayor Rahm—please!

To his credit, Griffin also used that speech as an opportunity to rip capitalists—including CME—who greedily feed from the public trough. So how about we trade Emanuel for Griffin—straight up!

Griffin, like calihae2, wants the mayor to close more public schools on the grounds that at least half of Chicago's students drop out every year.

Presumably they'd open more nonunion charters to accommodate the students being moved out of the closed-out, unionized public schools.

Unless, of course, they're proposing that children from low-income neighborhoods do without any schools at all. Even Mayor Rahm hasn't openly endorsed that concept—yet!

Of course, charters operate on public money. So think of it this way, public school bashers. If we allow Mayor Emanuel to throw away huge chunks of cash on idiotic TIF deals, there won't even be any money for your beloved charter schools.

For that reason alone everyone from Vitale to Griffin to the great calihae2 should join me in opposing this atrocious waste of money.