Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Reader goes to the CTU Labor Day rally!

Posted By on 09.04.12 at 04:45 PM

In honor of Labor Day, I put on a red shirt and rode my bike downtown to stand with the teachers in their big rally at Daley Plaza.

Wait, hold it—that didn’t come out right . . .

For the record, I'm officially neutral in the union's standoff with Mayor Emanuel. OK, yes, it's true, I did wear a union-red shirt to the rally. But that's only 'cause that happened to be the first shirt I randomly pulled from my dresser.

And, yes, it's also true I laughed at the following antimayor chant: "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Rahm Emanuel must go!"

But that was only 'cause I got caught up in the moment. You see, there was this guy in a red shirt pounding a drum. I swear I didn't mean it, Mr. Mayor.

To prove my neutrality, I will now say something nice about Mayor Emanuel.

Ugh . . .

Good job in that triathlon, Mr. Mayor.

Back to the rally . . .

Lots of people in Daley Plaza asked what I thought Mayor Emanuel was up to when he knifed his handpicked school chief—Jean-Claude Brizard—in the back.

Actually, the mayoral weapon of choice was not a dagger but a recent front-page Tribune story based on unnamed mayoral sources who said the mayor's itching to sack Brizard—probably "as soon as a contract agreement with teachers is reached."

The story moved on to the obligatory, on-the-record comment from Emanuel's press spokeswoman: "The mayor has complete confidence in J.C."

Which is usually what owners of baseball teams say about their managers just before they fire them.

Time out for explanation . . .

"J.C." is the very special nickname Mayor Emanuel has for Brizard. They also have a secret handshake, share a decoder ring, and occasionally get together to watch Happy Gilmore and other Adam Sandler comedies.

Back to the knifing . . .

Having dispatched with the on-the-record niceties, the article went for Brizard's jugular, quoting his supposed-to-be-private annual evaluation—"a copy of which was obtained by the Tribune"—that showed what the mayor's people at the board really think of Brizard.

"The organizational effectiveness of CPS could be substantially improved with a more coherent and decisive management decision-making process."

By the way, the "obtained by the Tribune" is my favorite part of the article. That would be "obtained" as in delivered to the reporters on a silver platter by someone in the mayor's office, undoubtedly at the mayor's insistence.

All in all, I haven't seen such a nasty display of duplicity since Godfather II, when Michael had a henchman shoot Fredo.

Looks like Emanuel's setting up Brizard to be the fall guy for the strike, should one occur. So that he—the mayor—gets all the credit once it gets settled.

It's a variation on a rule carried over from Mayor Daley: the mayor should never, ever be held accountable for any of the stupid shit he does.

Like in this case, raising teachers' hours, cutting their salaries, closing schools, firing teachers, and being such a monumental f-bomb-dropping, union-busting schmuck that he all but forced a teachers' strike.

Heckuva job, Mr. Mayor.

Back to the rally.

Everyone agreed that it was a wretched way for the mayor to treat Brizard, who's done a pretty good job as his genial front man. In fact, a lot of teachers almost felt sort of sorry for Brizard. At the very least, what's happened to him shows why teachers need tenure as protection against backstabbing, politically motivated bosses.

Now that I think about it—that might have been J.C. wearing the red T-shirt and banging the drum. Well, maybe not.

After the speeches, I joined the march around City Hall. For the record, I was not the guy who had the following exchange with a member of the policeman's union . . .

Not me: Hey, how 'bout our mayor?

Cop: What an asshole!

Not me: Don't blame me—I didn't vote for him.

Okay, maybe I was that guy. Again, got caught up in the moment. Sorry, Mr. Mayor.

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