Thursday, January 15, 2015

HOD Endorses Their Own!

Daley Out, Hershey, Smith and Sullivan Endorsed!
By Jim Vail

The CTU delegates endorsed Lindblom High School teacher delegate Ed Hershey for 25th ward alderman. 

In an amazing display of true democracy and healthy debate, the Chicago Teachers Union leadership took a small step back after the delegates bucked their wishes and instead endorsed three candidates they did not recommend, plus eliminate a recommended machine candidate they wanted to cozy up to.

The CTU Political Action Committee had recommended the endorsement of John Daley Thompson, the very nephew of the former mayor Richard Daley. The CTU wanted to cozy up to the machine and believed access to power, a losing strategy for unions, would suffice.

But when passionate and fiery teacher-delegate-activist Erika Wozniak took the podium at Wednesday's House of Delegates meeting to denounce Daley and stated why everything about the endorsement was wrong, the union leadership could only stand back and watch as she lit up a room of delegates too used to following the orders of its leaders (who certainly have done mighty work over their brief reign).

Wozniak stated the obvious - Daley supports charter schools, school vouchers, he is the very essence of the Chicago machine we are supposed to be fighting against. There was really no debate. A resounding NO endorsement rang throughout the room filled with probably more than 500 school and at large delegates.

Then three motions were made to endorse candidates that the political action committee felt were not worthy of endorsements based on the sole fact that they cannot win, in their estimation.

The first was delegate Sarah Chambers of Saucedo who recommended the endorsement of Zerlina Smith, a member of Action Now, a part of SEIU. Chambers said Smith fought hard and stood tall with the opt out teachers at Saucedo when she was a member of the local school council.

One member of the PAC committee then took the podium to speak against the motion to endorse Smith. He said that the PAC committee spent many hours on the endorsements, and that in their estimation Smith did not have a chance to win. He also questioned how their work could be negated by the delegates.

Several voices, mine included, responded that the delegates vote on the endorsements, the committee merely recommends.

Smith endorsed!

Next was your's truly Jim Vail, delegate of Hammond School, to make a motion to endorse Ed Hershey, teacher-delegate-activist at Lindblom School.

I said this was a no-brainer - he is one of us. Ed has fought to save public education for years. He organizes his students to fight school closings and other crazy anti-public education board initiatives, not only in his school, but city wide. He is a tireless fighter for the teachers and students. He is also a true fighter - who will say the truth - our system is controlled by corporate interests, and we don't compromise and sell ourselves short - we fight and be honest with the people.

The CTU's chief of staff or staff coordinator, Core founder and the one who was first put on the ticket to be vice president of our union - Jackson Potter, quickly took the mic and said that this endorsement could have potential fall out because it would basically piss off one of our community partners, namely Pilsen Alliance. 

The 25th ward has several candidates to take on incumbent hack Danny Solis, including Byron Sigcho of Pilsen Alliance, whose flyers were distributed outside the HOD meeting, and Jorge Mujica, a socialist.

Still, the message continued to ring true throughout the night at the HOD - we want our very own fighters, because win or lose, we are in the fight of our lives. We can't rely on the enemy or outsiders and political promises.

Ed Hershey endorsed!

Then not to lose a moment of turning the tables jubilee on the leadership, the duo who sank Daley then made the motion to vote for their very own Maureen Sullivan to be alderman in the 11th ward.

Eichhorn said their candidate is a strong community fighter who wants to toss out the machine candidate. She supports an elected school board, she fought the school closings and she will not be a rubber stamp.

Again, a PAC rep said they did not recommend Sullivan because of her "electibility" going against the Daley dynasty (do we even need an election?), "accessibility" to the machine, and her fundraising doesn't look like she will be able to win.

I took the mic to say how dare we go all out to support our very own teacher activist Tim Meegan, who is going up against the very essence of the machine Deb Mell. She was appointed (how's that for democracy) to replace her loving father, the one who put his son-in-law in the governor's seat, and then took him out.

How's that for going up against power and "accessibility?"

So we pick and choose our machine friends to cozy up? Endorse Madigan, buck Emanuel, endorse Daley, buck Mell. What the heck?

The PAC, in addition to their plea about all the hard hours they worked on this, also stated that the concern was about having enough resources to support extra endorsed candidates. Except, it was clarified that the endorsed candidates do not have to receive any resources. The CTU endorsement can suffice.

To which one delegate remarked after the meeting, sarcastically, that 99% of the funds will go toward CTU endorsed mayor candidate Chuy Garcia.

Kelly delegate Eric Skalinder eloquently stated that in no way do these added endorsements negate the work of the PAC committee. 

"We may not win, but we will fight," Skalinder said. "It's important to support our rank and file."   

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