Monday, September 8, 2014

HOD Lewis Flare

House of Delegates Meeting Big on Politics!
By Jim Vail

Last week's Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates meeting certainly had a political flare to it.

It began in the question and answer period when CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey said he has no problem divulging his exact income ($99,000 - what would have been his regular teacher pay extended two months when teachers are not paid for the summer break).

In other words, the Chicago Teachers Union is ready for an onslaught from above against president Karen Lewis who is challenging mayor Rahm Emanuel in the Feb. election (She has already filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections as chairman of Citizens to Elect Karen Lewis as Mayor of Chicago.).

One retired state worker involved in the teachers fight asked me to help him out with a fact check to verify if Karen Lewis's husband John Lewis is paid over $100,000 by her.

Lewis told me after the meeting that of course he is not. Her husband is not on the CTU payroll, and in fact was not even paid for his role in serving briefly on the class size committee, she told me.

So the CTU is ready for whatever Rahm's people - the 1% and their paid minions - are going to throw at a courageous union president ready to fight and make the 1% mayor a one-term city servant.

"Karen is seriously considering running for mayor," Sharkey said to an outburst of applause from a full house of teacher delegates.  

Sharkey said they are still in the exploratory phase which will determine whether or not Lewis should run based on how much money can be raised, and how many petitions can get signed. 

"We said we would do everything to fight closing schools," Sharkey said, "but we also said he would pay a political price. (Mayor Emanuel) is now unpopular among African and Latino voters where he close the schools...Karen and others will take the fight to a higher level."

A high level indeed! All the way to Chicago City Hall. A possible match up between the CTU president and the mayor could be the first time in a long time a big union official has challenged the top political brass. Certainly a far cry from the days when the CTU wrote $5,000 checks to Mayor Richard Daley, despite his pro-charter and anti-union proclivities. 

"The CTU is not all going to La Salle Str.," Sharkey added. "Myself and others will continue to run the CTU. I'm the VP of this union. We'll see what happens with the other fights in the city. But I want you to know I'm dedicated to this union."

The delegates again gave a warm round applause after Sharkey's address.

When CTU president Lewis took the podium at the house meeting, she made a little twirl to show how much weight she has lost since she had surgery. She certainly looked line a lean, mean fighting candidate, ready to challenge Rahm.

"Our contract is up, we need a new one," Lewis told the delegates. "Rahm's contract is up, we need a new one."

When Lewis said she does not "hate" the mayor, one delegate blurted out "I Do!."

But she did clarify her rare moment of sympathy toward her sworn political enemy by stating that she thinks he needs help.

"I am seriously considering running for mayor," said Lewis, to another thunderous round of applause. "I was hoping someone else would. But others running wouldn't necessarily have policies good for us. We want to take back Chicago from the oligarchs."

Lewis reiterated her dialog that teachers can no longer hide in their classrooms and hope for the best. Everyone has to get out and fight for their livelihood. 

"People look up to us," said Lewis, adding with a chuckle how she can't wait til her political opponents start running the "old footage."

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