Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why Haisman, past IEA President, Supports Dillard Endorsement by IEA

Why I Support IEA’s Dillard Recommendation by Bob Haisman, past IEA President (a response to the previous post)

23 days till The Illinois Primary Election …
 I agree with the IEA’s recommendation of Kirk Dillard in the Republican Gubernatorial Primary on March 18, 2014.
Of all the activities IEA engages in, recommendations to our members about who to perhaps vote for is often the most controversial and I think often the most misunderstood.
You do not have to be a political expert to realize the Governor Election of 2014 is going to be a very challenging proposition.  IEA has recommended to its members Senator Kirk Dillard in the Republican November 18 primary.  IEA did not make a recommendation in the Democratic Primary for Governor.  You cannot consider IEA’s nod to Kirk Dillard without examining the whole Republican field of candidates for Governor.
Bill Brady – the super right-wing Republican Senator who managed to lose to Quinn four years ago, is “not endorsable”.
Dan Rutherford – in the quick-sand of a very, very problematic scandal and is “not endorsable”. 
Senator Kirk Dillard was a candidate for Governor four years ago. He was IEA’s recommended candidate in the primary. A moderate Republican,  he ran courageously against right-winger Senator Bill Brady in the Republican primary. Dillard lost by 200 votes. He was then a moderate Republican, who had worked with the IEA and whom the IEA had previously recommended for the State Senator to our members.  Dillard –yesterday’s moderate -- has moved to more conservative positions as his party has shifted Right, which has made him more difficult to recommend. However....
Then there is Bruce Rauner.  Bruce Rauner is real, real trouble for Public Education and Teachers. He just loves Charter Schools and Merit Pay and Vouchers and testing, testing, testing. He would like to see nothing less than a dismantling of the Public Schools. He wants to end our defined benefit pensions program, do away with TRS and put all teachers on self-funded 401Ks - as only an Ultra-Right Winger could. He hates all Unions. He does not agree with Collective Bargaining, especially for teachers. He hates ALL UNIONS but especially public employee unions. He hates Teacher Unions the most! He Hates the IEA and our leaders. He hates all taxes, is against any raise in the income tax at anytime and would defund education – further -  before raising the income tax a single dollar. That is only the only the tip of the ICE BERG. He is an Illinois Scott Walker waiting to be sprung on Illinois.  Rauner is a political neophyte: an Ultra Rich Right-Wing member of the 1% and an ideologue who is using portions of his vast personal wealth to finance his own campaign. He has out-raised and out spent all the other Republican Candidates. He leads the field by 20 percentage points. He is attempting to buy the governorship in a self-financed campaign.
Rauner is also the hand-picked candidate of the Chicago Civic Committee. Their plan is working!!
Dillard is a past friend of the IEA. He has worked with four IEA Presidents. Kirk Dillard is somebody we have been able to recommend before.  Dillard does not hate the IEA.  While not a push-over, he is a friend who we have worked with. He means active and retired teachers NO harm. On the other hand, Bruce Rauner means to harm active teachers, retired teachers and are unions.
Kirk Dillard knows Public Education, and understands how it is funded. Dillard does not want to defund it or dismantle it.
Kirk Dillard’s father was a teacher.  His Father Ed taught at Hinsdale High School. Kirk graduated from Hinsdale High School. Kirk’s dad was an IEA member.  He retired under TRS.  Kirk’s dad bargained for my local.  Kirk Dillard remembers his dad being proud in his role as negotiator.  Kirk was there  when Governor Thompson signed IEA’s CB Bill.  Dillard supports collective bargaining for teachers.
Kirk Dillard voted against Pension Bill SB 1. He believes it is an unconstitutional solution to the pension crisis. Before his death in the middle of the 2010 campaign, his dad was a retired teacher under TRS. Dillard understands that public school teachers need a strong TRS and stable pension.
Dillard is a Republican in today’s anti-tax, anti-spend Republican Party. But Dillard is at his heart a “Thompson Republican” -- who at his core wants government to work and to solve problems. IEA feels it could work with Dillard, even conceivably partner with him – while there is no chance to do that with a Bruce Rauner.
Kirk Dillard provides a more moderate choice for our members taking a Republican Ballot on November 18 Primary Election.
He gives us a chance to stop -- in the Primary – Illinois’ ‘Scot Walker,” anti-public school teacher, Ultra Right-Winger: Bruce Rauner.
Is Dillard the perfect candidate? NO. Is any candidate perfect? We will always have differences -- even with our friends. 

You commented, John, that you thought this recommendation of Dillard was a poor strategy. IPACE giving money for his primary bid was a fool's errand.
Others have criticized the Dillard recommendation on it's merits, Dillard's record, various statements.
I first want to make the point that criticism of this recommendation is not coming from the political "professionals.”  The seasoned Political Pro’s recognize the political quagmire IEA is immersed in. They see the Dillard move as a strategic one and a smart one in a non-perfect difficult political time. I started this commentary by saying the most controversial activity IEA (actually IPACE -IEA's Political Action arm) engages in are political recommendations. When I was IEA president -- we rescinded a recommendation (Edgar), backed the "perfect" candidate for pensions and public education (Netsch) and lost monumentally and supported a winner who delivered on all his promises to us but did not end well (Ryan).  All those moves were controversial. All raised the ire of our members. And to this day, in my opinion, they were right for the times. 
These recommendations are not performed in a smoke filled room: at least three levels of IEA Governance voted on the Dillard recommendation.  Probably 100 elected union representatives, all educators voted at all levels.  They sincerely studied the issues and believed they were doing the right thing. These were not 'squeaker votes.'   I believe they were all unanimous or close to unanimous!  (If you want a detailed review of the IEA/IPACE recommendation process,  write me.  It is not easy to win IEA's (IPACE) recommendation! 
The following statement that will anger people, the na├»ve, and folks who do not understand the process one goes through to make a recommendation like this.  It will set some critics of the recommendation "OFF," but this is not a totally transparent process.  In the world of competitive politics it cannot be. Reach outs are made, proposals floated, answers given, and candid assessments made that just cannot be shared, not publicly.  The only people who get to vote on these recommendations are elected IEA governance according to long established by-laws and procedures. The 100 elected educators making the series of votes that brought us the Dillard recommendation were given access to information that must remain private. I know some feel that this "private information" argument is bogus, but if they do, in my opinion they have never participated in a formal political recommendation process before.  If they had, they might know better! 
We reached out to candidates who were flattered but said NO. We saw promising campaigns self-destruct. Nobody but the very  ultra rich have enough money. No organization has enough money to fund a campaign of its own.  Before you get a date to the prom you might reject a number of potential dates for reasons that must remain private...you might be turned down by a number of persons you asked. Once you have a date to the prom you do not talk about the people you would have liked to have taken or the potential dates who turned you down.  You go with the date that you choose and said YES!  And don't talk about the others...it is considered bad taste. It is the same when recommending someone for Governor. To think it should be otherwise is naive, unrealistic and counter-productive. 

IPACE is investing $250,000 dollars in Dillard's cash-strapped campaign. Believe me, his campaign does not think it is an insignificant donation!  But your right, John ...it is not enough.  No where close to enough.  However there again a number of issues around funding that cannot be discussed publicly; there are five other unions that may also contribute. This is a good investment to see if Dillard can begin to climb out of his hole. If he doesn't turn things around, it was an investment in action  instead of dithering. If it works it could be added to later – perhaps by all the unions!  If the "gamble" works it could save us from a Scott Walker and be the best money IPACE ever invested.  It could be.  We don't know. It is a gamble.  A gamble trying to squash a potential disaster.
The IPACE donation is NOT DUES money but donations to IPACE by members. This donation was not generated in a vacuum.  IPACE has been saving money for the gubernatorial election. There was an expectation that IPACE would be active in both primaries. We are not now active in the Democratic Governor's race. IPACE has devised a campaign budget with money being left for the Big Show.  Does IPACE wish it had 8 million dollars to influence the primary and the General election?  Sure!  We have a limited budget and we try to maximize its influence. Believe me, political professionals do not think much of a recommendation without any donation. The IRTA's recommendation to its members without any donation is a case in point. This donation was not "just come up with"; indeed, there is a budget, strategy and thoughtful decision-making.  Just because we don't know the procedure or what goes into it does not mean there was no procedures followed.
The alternative? – an unhampered Rauner run for the nomination. I applaud IEA for trying a number of alternatives to stop Rauner and acting on one that was viable.
I urge YOU to take a Republican Ballot and VOTE IEA’s Recommendation -- it is our only chance of stopping Rauner -- If you have questions, complaints, "issues" with the Dillard recommendation write me?? ask me!  I think I have answers for the critics.....
Bob Haisman – haismanbob@gmail.com708 997 1993




Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Union Endorsements of Dillard and What Comes Next?

“Knock, Knock…Union Who?”  Our New Landscape.

It’s a tough time to be in a public union in Illinois these days. 

The primaries are coming up quickly, and we are sidelined…without anyone in the race.  Without anyone to advocate for the working class, or the middle class.

It wasn’t always this way.  Public unions in Illinois were able to influence and affect political outcomes.  Legislators wanted to represent the voice of the workers, the people, and the middle class.  Now, politicians avoid conversations about their past promises, identify the unions as being the state’s solution to its revenue problem, and justify the further fleecing of public sector workers with convoluted rationales like “then the courts can tell us what to do.” 

It hurts.

And, of course, adding insult to injury is the latest support of Senator Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale by the Illinois Education Association as well the Illinois Retired Teachers Association – two organizations initially quick to jump into the legal argument against SB1. 

What gives?

Senator Dillard was quite clear in his articulation of position at his previous gubernatorial debate.  His perception of a revenue problem was the “67% tax increase” that he “didn’t vote for” and his plan to help defeat it, despite Illinois’ serious income problems.  Dillard also called for a Constitutional Amendment for a balanced budget, not a fair tax system.  He did present the possibility of a blue ribbon panel to look at taxes in general.  Thanks a lot.

And although Senator Dillard did not vote affirmative in “this last” SB1 pension reform, he suggested pension reform was an answer to the problems facing Illinois; furthermore, he believed that real money to save the state would come from Medicaid fraud reform.  “If you really are looking for savings (translates money), it’s gotta come from the Medicaid system of Illinois.” 

Still, public unions in Illinois are moving to endorse Dillard in the Republican primary, the IEA even giving some $250,000 in assistance.  Of course, that’s chump change for Rauner.

According to IEA, Senator Dillard has recently given up his position as state chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Commission, a Koch brothers consortium which provides opportunities for “member” state legislators to journey to lovely climes and meet with legal advisors to help craft legislation for promotion of the Koch brothers liking:  Right to work legislation. Prohibiting union dues deductions. Prohibiting release time for union activities. Repealing minimum wage laws (Dillard’s own personal favorite). Opposing consumer protection laws” (http://preaprez.wordpress.com/ ).  

And what does Kirk Dillard promise?

Does he promise to be different from now on?  Probably not likely, despite assurances.  There are more than 250,000 people affected by his earlier votes on bills undermining workers in Illinois.  Review Glen Brown’s history of Senator Dillard’s previous positions: http://teacherpoetmusicianglenbrown.blogspot.com/2014/02/it-is-sad-state-of-affairs-when.html

Does he promise to be the same as he has been?  An insider, as Rauner besmirches him, Dillard is a glad-hander who works in the old-fashioned way.  After all, one of his chief bailiwicks in the gubernatorial debate is to lessen regulation and promote business.  That doesn’t sound like a forward thinking legislator concerned with tax loopholes or revenue answers.  But IEA and IRTA still support him.

On the other hand, Senator Dillard is an enemy the unions know and understand. 

In likelihood, Dillard is the first wave of Kamikaze thrown at a greater threat called Bruce Rauner, who indeed fits nicely into the fascist/war metaphor.  Recall, Rauner conjured Mitch Daniels as the supreme architect of state leadership in his bringing together big corporate interests to turn around Indiana (to make it a right to work state).  In his debate moment, Rauner promised to gather the thirty greatest corporate people (would that include Ty Fahner and Ken Griffin?) to redirect Illinois from Springfield.  A person without a cheap watch like Bruce’s, and a longer perception of time, might remember Il Duce’s (Mussolini) use of the big corporates to subjugate the political in Italy – which he later coined a beginning of fascism.  And that helped…?  Bruce Rauner, Uberleader.  But I digress.

So where is my union, and what the heck are they doing?

A good friend of mine once admonished some of us (including me) about the dangers of not falling into line with my own union’s positions.  Indeed, he may be correct, although cutting deals with a variety of devils seems at best discomforting. 

“I always stay with the girl I brought to the dance,” he finger-wagged.  But in the case of Illinois (and many states), the girl may have been dying all the way to the social.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the total number of union members fell by 400,000 last year, to 14.3 million, even though the nations overall employment rose by 2.4 million” ( http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/24/business/union-membership-drops-despite-job-growth.html?_r=0). 

The increases in employment have been in retail and restaurant positions, vocations with little if any unionized opportunities.  Even though we witness a televised surge of Wal-Mart employees demanding a living wage, most of the retail workforce is silent and sullenly capitulate.

What was a high of 35% union participation in the 1950’s is now hovering around 11.3%.  Significant drops in manufacturing and government employees have been occurring, and embittered battles in Wisconsin and Indiana have resulted in unfortunate plunges in unions’ memberships.  State laws prohibiting required payment of union fees have produced declines of 13 percent in Wisconsin and nearly 18 percent in Indiana – in just this last year. 

The long-term view is not much better.  “The bureau (Labor Statistics) said union membership in the public sector – long a labor stronghold – fell to 35.9 percent in 2012, from 37 percent the previous year.  The number of government workers in unions fell by 234,000, as many teachers, police officers, and others lost their jobs. There were 7.3 million public employees in unions compared with seven million private sector workers” (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/24/business/union-membership-drops-despite-job-growth.html?_r=0  ). 

So, without a winning hand, we are left to play out what cards we have? 

Shall we throw down a futile gesture to counter Rauner in some way or another…and then what?

Support Quinn, of course.  After all, this is Illinois politics, not a romantic date to the dance where some discretions might be obliquely observed, despite the sorry state of your date. 

And, as one very intelligent and hard-working young active advised me, what makes the unpalatable and inevitable outcome less disgusting is the very ineffectiveness of Quinn, the complete disregard by the General Assembly for whatever he champions, and the very vagueness of his bumbling political intentions. 

We will vote for Quinn when asked to?

It is a sad state of affairs in the State of Illinois.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tax Relief for Illinois and a Revenue Fix!

Tax Relief?  Here’s a “Fair” Explanation…

I just received my latest update from Republican Representative Dwight Kay.  Representative Dwight may look like Wally Cox of days long past, but don’t think for a minute he is the mild Mr. Peepers of film fame or anything quite like it.  Instead, think formidably and forever right, as in terminally right.

Falling into line with the other Republicans in the General Assembly when responding to the move to create a “fair” tax in Illinois, Dwight reported, "Illinois is already a high-tax state. Raising taxes on middle-class families will further damage our state's economy. History has shown that the 67% income tax hike has not balanced Illinois' checkbook nor will it bring in more long-term revenue. A graduated tax certainly won't solve the spending problem in state government. It would do more harm than good for Illinois," (State Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon 2/11/14).

For Dwight Kay, making the simple complicated is purposeful.  Like many opponents of a Fair Tax, his explanation would fuse various issues into a combined soup which muddies possible solutions.   

Indeed, trying to decipher Representative Kay’s concern about the monolithic peril posed by a fair tax requires some parsing of his artfully deceitful language as well as some facts, something Republican legislators seldom employ in their crafty messages about this issue to constituents.

Will a fair tax really result in raising taxes on the middle class in Illinois as Rep. Kay warns adamantly?

That might be answered by finding the true middle class in Illinois, at least as in household earning.  We might look at averages, but that might place an area like Oak Park next to Melrose Park, and the results would be skewed by such significant differences to render an answer indecipherable.  Best to look at Illinois’ median earning per household.  That would be a number that would represent a balance between the 50% above and the 50% below in totality.

That would be the Middle Class – in Illinois (and very closely to the national average). 

Even that number is not pleasant to look at, for that median has been falling.  Nevertheless, the median income per household in Illinois is now $55,137, down 4.56% in the last 3 years.   Per capita income (by person) in Illinois is not much better:  $28,741 per year (down 4.01% over the last 3 years).   As the Bureau of Labor Statistics affirms, things are tough out here for the Middle Class, Representative Kay.  

Looking at the current income tax structure of Illinois, one not likely to be rescinded, a look at the proposed FAIR Tax proposal proposed by Better Illinois would make these differences for a Middle Class earning family in Illinois.  Here are the increased savings for various wage earning levels, measured as a difference with the current flat tax.  I start with the median Illinois earnings span.

Earning between $36,000 and $58,000 = Savings of up to $540 per year.

Earning between $0 and $18000 = Savings of up to $360 per year.

Earning between $18,000 and $36,000 = Savings of up to $600 per year.

Earning between $58,000 and $95,000 = Savings of up to $170 per year.

It would seem that despite Representative Kay’s dire warnings, the “middle class” in Illinois might actually benefit from tax relief with a Fair Tax. 

Perhaps Representative Dwight’s perception of what constitutes the Middle Class is a bit askew?  After all, the actual median family would benefit under the current proposal for a Fair Tax Amendment.  Is there a point at which a Fair Tax would create an increase in income taxes for a household?  Where is that point?

Answer: Somewhere just north of $122,000.

That must be Representative Kay’s understanding of the Middle Class in Illinois. 
Not on my block, Representative.

And what might that fair tax relief possibly bring to the authentic middle class in Illinois?

·     Some relief to a food bill of nearly $900 a month for a family of four in Illinois?

·      Some relief to the cost of nearly $900 to operate an auto to work in Illinois each year?

·      Assistance in the preparation for children for public school at a cost of $800 on average for clothing and supplies?



C’mon, Representative.  What Middle Class do you guys represent?