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There's the world of Mayor Emanuel's propaganda machine—a fantasy created by clever publicists.
And the real world that parents, students, teachers, and principals have to live in.
In the fantasy world created by the publicists, the mayor's a miracle worker who's working day and night on behalf of Chicago's children. Oh, thank you all-powerful Bwana.
In the real world, the mayor's slashing school funding so he can spend the money on really whacked-out shit, like that South Loop property deal involving DePaul.
Sometimes the two worlds collide and the mayor's talking heads—like CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett—get their scripted lines all mixed up.
Such was the case last month after Judge Thomas Allen ruled against the suit the Chicago Teachers Union had filed to keep the mayor from closing 50 schools.
"Today's ruling affirmed our belief that every child in every neighborhood in Chicago deserves access to a high quality education that prepares them to succeed in life," Byrd-Bennett said in a statement. "However, for too long that has not been the case, and children in certain parts of the city have been without the resources and support that they need to succeed in the classroom."
Oops. Someone should tell B-3—as the mayor fondly calls her—that giving more resources and support to low-income children is the old talking point.
The new talking point is that the mayor has no choice but to cut school spending 'cause those greedy teachers want the city to make good on its pension obligations.
That's the line that Mayor Emanuel recently delivered on the front page of the New York Times, to the pleasure, no doubt, of his wealthy east-coast donors.
By the way, that NYT article came a few days after Sarah Karp's investigation in Catalyst revealed that CPS somehow scraped up $20 million for a three-year, no-bid contract to a consulting firm from Wilmette, the mayor's hometown, to run training sessions for principals.
Well, the good news is that so many people are starting to complain about all these boondoggles that the mayor's decided he might have to dip into the TIF surplus and throw a few scraps back to the schools—if only to shut everybody up.
But first he needs to make everyone grovel just a bit.
Hence, he's asking Chicagoans to participate in a mayoral poll in which you call 312-744-3300 and tell the person who answers whether you think the mayor should give some of the $1.71 billion TIF surplus back to the schools.
Slick move, Mr. Mayor. A TIF poll—even I didn't think of that.
This way you make parents think you actually give a shit about their kids, while keeping the lion's share of TIF money in the mayoral vault for stuff like the DePaul deal.
Parents, I know that you know you're only pawns in their game, as Bob Dylan would say. But if this is the hoop the mayor's making you jump through to get a little money to offset some of the cuts, you might as well jump.
Just remember, it doesn't mean you have to vote for him.