Race, poverty and politics: Chicago Teachers Union issues strike date; racism at the Republic National Convention; Standard and Poor's downgrades Illinois

The Chicago Teachers Union issued a strike date late Thursday evening – the union will begin its strike on Sept. 10.  The announcement comes after a summer of brewing tensions between the CTU and Chicago Public School officials. CPS has prepared a $25 million fund to keep services open for students if teachers walk out. Groups in support of the union, like the Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign, are also putting together ‘freedom schools’ that are modeled after the free schools created during the Civil Rights Movement.

Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed legislation that would have moved forward a planned gambling expansion, including a new casino in Chicago. The action was criticized by Rahm Emanuel who swore to “work relentlessly” to open the casino which he says would bring jobs to the city.  One expert thinks that the veto may be good for Chicago. John Kindt, a professor at the University of Illinois, said the more money consumers lose from gambling, the less there is for consumer spending that creates jobs.

The Republican National Convention in Florida has come under fire for an incidence of racism that has made international news. An African-American CNN camerawoman, Patricia Carroll, was on the convention floor Tuesday afternoon when two attendees began throwing peanuts at her and saying “this is how we feed the animals.” In an interview with Journal-isms, Carroll said she was “not surprised at all” and that the incident should serve as “a wake-up call to black people.” However, said Carroll, “this situation could happen to me at the Democratic convention or standing on the street corner. Racism is a global issue.

The continuing impasse over the pension reform in Springfield has led the rating agency Standard & Poor’s to reduce Illinois’ credit rating. Moody’s rating agency issued similar warnings soon after. A decreased rating could mean that the state will have to pay a higher interest rate to borrow money. Illinois has the dubious distinction of having “the country’s largest gap between the money available and what they’ll eventually pay out in pension,” according to The Associated Press.

A settlement between five of the major mortgage banks earlier this year mandated that the institutions must help reduce loan balances for struggling consumers, and help borrowers refinance loans. But a recent investigation by the watchdog group tasked with following the agreement found that Bank of America has yet to modify or reduce loan balances on any mortgages. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was one of the key players in pushing for the $25 billion settlement.

Several prison closings planned for Aug. 31 have been “temporarily delayed,” according to a leaked letter from the Corrections Department. The closings have been the center of an ongoing battle between Quinn and union guards and downstate legislators who say that the prison closings will leave too many small towns without their main source of employment.


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