by Ben Joravsky
I'm talking about the state legislators having voted this week to give the mayor a four-month extension, until March 31, to make up his mind as to which schools he'll be closing next year.
As if he hadn't made up his mind months ago.
For the record, the mayor swears up and down that he's undecided about which schools to close. And he promises he'll really listen hard to what’s said by the little people who either go to the schools or send their kids to the schools he might close.
But you know how it goes with mayoral promises . . .
Our mayor is often a little—oh, how to delicately put this?—nimble when it comes to making good on promises or telling the truth.
For instance, he recently asked us to fall to our knees in gratitude to United Airlines for having willingly given back the $5.6 million TIF handout we gave them in 2007. Then it turns out that they had to give the money back anyway.
His administration also told several aldermen not to worry—he wouldn't fire the 34 water call center employees, whose jobs he's outsourcing to a company based in Japan. Alas, the employees got their layoff notices a few days before Thanksgiving. Enjoy your turkey, people.
Now, it's another round of school closings. Apparently, the mayor loves closing schools almost as much as he loves firing city workers cause it makes him look all bossy and shit—like he's the man in charge who’s not afraid to make the tough decisions.
He promises to invoke a five-year moratorium on closings after he closes an undisclosed number of underutilized schools this year.
Technically, it was Barbara Byrd Bennett—CEO of the Chicago Public Schools—who announced the moratorium in a speech she delivered on Monday at a City Club gathering.
But within a heartbeat, Mayor Rahm had sent out a press release basically making it clear that he told her what to do, not the other way around. "After this year, I have directed CPS to implement a moratorium on CPS facility closures," the mayor said.
Just in case anyone had any doubt.
You watch, when this school-closing thing blows up—and you know that it will—the mayor's people will blame it all on Byrd-Bennett. Or B-3, as Mayor Rahm calls her.
Just like they blamed everything wrong on the last CEO, Jean-Claude Brizard. Or J.C., as the mayor called him.
You got to figure that somewhere J.C.'s watching this and laughing.
Actually, Mayor Rahm broke his moratorium promise about a day after he made it, which has to be some kind of record. Under the category of clarification, his publicists said while he would not close schools for being underutilized, he reserves the right to close them for underperforming.
So he's got a five-year moratorium on closing schools, except for the schools he closes. Got it?
Here's another mayoral promise. He says he has no list of schools he intends to close.
OK, everybody, let’s have a show of hands. How many of you actually believe him?
Look, he's been mayor since May of 2011. They've been studying school closings for months. We already went through one round of this months ago. Remember the paid protesters? They're the people the mayor bused in to cheer on the school closings.
And he wonders why no one trusts him.
This time around I figure he'll hold a few dog-and-pony hearings. Let everybody yell. Then he'll make a really big deal about the few schools he keeps open, while closing most of the schools he intended to close all along.
And all the while, he'll be farming out the goodies to the charters.
Like I said, the mayor loves closing schools. It's all a part of his mission to position himself on the national scene as the tough-guy Democrat who waged war with the teachers' union, closed schools in black neighborhoods, and fired a bunch of city hall workers. Apparently, he's concluded that's how to win the swing vote in Virginia.
Meanwhile, he doles out TIF money to rich guys, endorses tax breaks for millionaires and backs off from a fight with the parking meter barons.
Well, as any schoolyard bully can tell you, it's easy to look tough when you’re picking on the weakest kids on the playground.