Monday, March 28, 2011

The Battle to save Public Worker’s and Their Unions

By Lance Cohn

In the spirit of Wisconsin the “We Are One” class war spread to Illinois. The Republican proposed $100 billion cuts in the Federal budget, which would include cutting $72.9 million in cuts to education in IL, served as the back drop for a Labor/Community coalition rally and march sponsored by the Chicago Teachers Union held on Saturday, March the 18th.

Anticipating growing pressure on the State legislature as well as from the in coming Chicago Mayor elect, Rahm Emanuel to cut Public Education and to weaken the CTU the call was for transferring Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) funds to the Public Schools. David Orr, Cook County Clerk, spoke to the fired up crowd of 200 people. “Chicago has put $2 billion in tax dollars that the public doesn’t know about into these TIF’s. They were supposed to go to blighted areas.” - I would add, the TIF’s that were originally intended to stimulate business in low income communities instead went to Banks and Corporations. -

The march began at the Jenner School in a newly gentrified neighborhood that was originally home to thousands of African American people who resided at the Cabrini Greens high rise homes, owned by the Chicago Housing Authority. They were recently torn down forcing the residents to find other housing. Among the hundreds of students attending this elementary school around 150 are classified as homeless.

The marchers were joined by other Unions including SEIU, Unite Here and the Teamsters as well as community organizations such as KOCO (Kenwood/Oakland community organization) and ADAPT (organization for the physically challenged.) All of us wore buttons that said, “Chicago Teachers Union Stand with Wisconsin.”

We marched to Bank of America, who received millions in TIF money despite the fact that they made profits last year. We stopped in front of the Bank and chanted, “Banks of America we’re no fools, you harm our city and rob our schools.”

The next and final stop was Grossinger Auto-Plex, one of the largest car dealers in the Country who got $8.5 million in TIF funds. Almost all 200 marchers piled into their huge showroom chanting, “Grossinger Auto we’re no fools, give us back the money save our schools.”

The manager of the Auto-Plex called police and the police came and told us to leave. As we were exiting the manager said he wanted us arrested and charged with criminal trespassing. Two people were arrested, Jackson Potter, chief of staff for the CTU and Amber Smock, a leader of ADAPT. According to Jackson Potter they face a court date on April 15th. He is encouraging everyone to join him in court.

Many of the participants had plenty to say about how their schools could use the TIF monies. Meredith Bowden, a High School teacher in a low-income African American community said, ‘Our school needs money for after-school programs now more than ever.” Jessica Marshall, a High School Teacher, said that “her school needs a library.” Other teachers complained about the unsafe, unsanitary condition of their school.

Jackson Potter, speaking for the Chicago Teacher’s Union summed up the purpose of this demonstration: “We’ve seen the growth of a vibrant Labor/Community coalition that’s focused on economic justice in the City of Chicago. The issue of the TIF funds is a vehicle for bringing up this concern.”

“Hello, Communist Party calling” » peoplesworld

“Hello, Communist Party calling” » peoplesworld

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

11% Say Communism Better Than U.S. System of Politics and Economics

New Rassmussen survey:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Communism as an ideological force largely died with the collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago, but even with many of its horrors increasingly forgotten, U.S. voters overwhelmingly reject the ideology that contended for world dominance for much of the 20th Century.

Still, 11% of Likely U.S. Voters think communism is morally superior to the U.S. system of politics and economics, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. But 77% disagree and say the U.S. system is morally superior. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure.

Communism calls for the elimination of all private property with everything owned in common, and voters even more emphatically reject it as an economic theory. Eighty-seven percent (87%) say, in practical terms, free market economies work better than communist economies. Only four percent (4%) say communist economies work better.

Similarly, 80% of voters say the U.S. system of politics and economics is better for middle class workers than communism is. Ten percent (10%) say communism is a better option, and another 10% are undecided.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters nationwide was conducted on March 12-13, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of voters view communism as a failed ideology. Twelve percent (12%) say that’s not true. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure.

Voters ages 18 to 29 are much less critical of communism as an ideology than their elders are. Conservative voters believe more strongly than moderates and liberals that communism is a failed ideology, but majorities of all three groups share that view.

In terms of world history, 85% of all voters nationwide believe that the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe was at least somewhat important, with 71% who describe it as Very Important. Only eight percent (8%) say it was not very or not at all important.

While 87% of Mainstream voters rate the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe as important in terms of history, nearly one-in-three Political Class voters (32%) view it as unimportant historically. Generally speaking, however, there’s little difference of opinion between the two groups when it comes to comparing the U.S. economic and political system with communism.

In November 2009, on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, 93% of Likely U.S. Voters said the fall of the wall and the collapse of communism were at least somewhat important in terms of world history. That included 70% who said they were Very Important.

The majority of voters across all demographic categories are in general agreement on all of these questions, although there clearly are degrees of passion. Republicans and conservatives, as they have historically in this country, hold the strongest negative feelings about communism.

Socialism with its emphasis on a government-regulated economy is considered a transitional economic phase on the path to communism.

In an April 2009 survey, 21% of American adults said that the U.S. economy is partially socialist, and another five percent (5%) said, generally speaking, the United States already has a fully socialist economy. At the same time, indicative of the suspicions many had following the Wall Street meltdown and the government’s bailout response, only 53% of American adults thought capitalism is better than socialism.

Voters overwhelmingly prefer a free market economy to an economy managed by the government and think government economic control helps big businesses at the expense of small ones.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quinn signs bill to abolish death penalty in Illinois; commutes death row sentences

Letter to constituents from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn:

Today I have signed Senate Bill 3539, which abolishes the death penalty in Illinois.

For me, this was a difficult decision, quite literally the choice between life and death. This was not a decision to be made lightly, or a decision that I came to without deep personal reflection.

Since the General Assembly passed this bill, I have met or heard from a wide variety of people on both sides of the issue. I have talked with prosecutors, judges, elected officials, religious leaders from around the world, families of murder victims, people on death row who were exonerated and people like you who have taken the time to share their thoughts with me. Their experiences and your words and opinions have made a tremendous impact on my thinking, and I thank you for reaching out to me on this matter.

After this guidance, as well as much thought and reflection, I have concluded that our system of imposing the death penalty is inherently flawed. The evidence presented to me by former prosecutors and judges with decades of experience in the criminal justice system has convinced me that it is impossible to devise a system that is consistent, that is free of discrimination on the basis of race, geography or economic circumstance, and that always gets it right.

As a state, we cannot tolerate the executions of innocent people because such actions strike at the very legitimacy of a government. Since 1977, Illinois has seen 20 people exonerated from death row. Seven of those were exonerated since the moratorium was imposed in 2000. That is a record that should trouble us all. To say that this is unacceptable does not even begin to express the profound regret and shame we, as a society, must bear for these failures of justice.

Since our experience has shown that there is no way to design a perfect death penalty system, free from the numerous flaws that can lead to wrongful convictions or discriminatory treatment, I have concluded that the proper course of action is to abolish it. With our broken system, we cannot ensure justice is achieved in every case. For the same reason, I have also decided to commute the sentences of those currently on death row to natural life imprisonment, without the possibility of parole or release.

I have found no credible evidence that the death penalty has a deterrent effect on the crime of murder and that the enormous sums expended by the state in maintaining a death penalty system would be better spent on preventing crime and assisting victims’ families in overcoming their pain and grief.

To those who say that we must maintain a death penalty for the sake of the victims’ families, I say that it is impossible not to feel the pain of loss that all these families share or to understand the desire for retribution that many may hold. But, as I heard from family members who lost loved ones to murder, maintaining a flawed death penalty system will not bring back their loved ones, will not help them to heal and will not bring closure to their pain. Nothing can do that. We must instead devote our resources toward the prevention of crime and the needs of victims’ families, rather than spending more money to preserve a flawed system.

The late Cardinal Joseph Bernadin observed, “[i]n a complex, sophisticated democracy like ours, means other than the death penalty are available and can be used to protect society.” In our current criminal justice system, we can impose extremely harsh punishments when warranted. Judges can impose sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Where necessary and appropriate, the state can incarcerate convicted criminals in maximum security prisons. These means should be sufficient to satisfy our need for retribution, justice and protection.

As Governor, I took an oath to uphold our state’s Constitution and faithfully execute our laws. Honoring that oath often requires making difficult decisions, but I have found none to be as difficult as the one I made today. I recognize that some may strongly disagree with this decision, but I firmly believe that we are taking an important step forward in our history as Illinois joins the 15 other states and many nations of the world that have abolished the death penalty.


Gov. Pat Quinn

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Republican budget plan would cost Illinois 30,200 jobs

From Americans United for Change:

New Report Finds U . S . Reps . Dold, Schilling, Walsh’s Plan Would Cost 30,200 Illinois Jobs

Republican Plan to Slash Education, Cancer Research Instead of Cutting Corporate Welfare Would Bring Economic Recovery to Grinding Halt

Washington DC -- The funding plan U . S . Representatives Robert Dold (R-IL-10), Bobby Schilling (R-IL-17), and Joe Walsh (IL-08) want to become law would cost 30,200 jobs in Illinois, according to a new study released by the U.S. Senate’s Democratic Policy Committee . Nationwide, the study found that the plan to fund government through September 2011, which leaves in place billions in corporate welfare and tax loopholes for billionaires, would cost 700,000 American jobs .

Numerous nonpartisan economic experts, including a team from Goldman Sachs, have similarly found that the plan approved by virtually every House Republican and no Democrats in the dead of night on February 19, would bring our fragile economic recovery to a screeching halt .

Moody’s chief economist, Mark Zandi, projected that the House proposal would cut real GDP growth by 0.5 percent in 2011 and 0 . 2 percent in 2012 . That, in turn, would lead to 400,000 fewer jobs being created than expected by the end of this year and a total of 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2012 .

And a Goldman Sachs analysis released last Wednesday also concluded that Republicans’ 2011 cuts would be detrimental to the economic recovery . The House GOP’s plan, the analysis found, could cut the nation’s economic growth by 1 . 5 percent to 2 percent during the second and third quarters of this year .

“Under the House Republican spending plan, you’ve got no long-term deficit reduction, no change in corporate welfare and lopsided tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, massive cuts in disease research, education and transportation, and huge job losses,” said Americans United executive director Tom McMahon .

“Congressmen Dold, Schilling, and Walsh all owe their constituents a very good explanation why they voted to protect Corporate America’s bottom line over 30,200 jobs back home in Illinois . We need a responsible and balanced plan to rein in deficits, not one that leaves in place corporate welfare and lopsided tax breaks in place for the wealthiest Americans but costs jobs, slashes vital education and other services for the middle class and the most vulnerable members of society,” added McMahon .