by Don Washington on 2011/10/25
One of the hallmarks of bad public policy is mounting a perpetual campaign in place of substantive public policy as you actually eliminate or cut the public service in question. It’s bad public policy because good public policy begins by having an honest discussion of what you plan to do in regards to delivering or not delivering a service. In the case the CTA the Emanuel Administration wants to cut its pensions, wages, benefits and corners on safety for both the public and CTA employees. A decent media would begin by pointing out that this is exactly what the Emanuel Administration plans to do because that’s what they’ve done in every other department they’ve had over for dinner… as dinner so why would this be any different? But we have our media is actively participating in the Emanuel Administration’s campaign ploy of turning the public who receives public transit service against the people who provide the public transit service for far less than what the private sector would charge for working under similar conditions.
When I read in every “news source” available that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Forrest Claypool wanted the CTA unions to be “part of the solution and “willing partners” I knew instinctively that something was wrong because I know that Forrest Claypool and Mayor Rahm Emanuel hate unions with the intensity of a thousand burning suns. I know this because Forrest Claypool’s union-bashing is an actual legend at the Park District and Mayor Emanuel’s antipathy to unions was on full display with the passage of the intensely anti-union SB7 and his role in killing Card Check in the Obama Administration. Look, having either of these two men invite a union to “a place at the table is like Hannibal Lecter asking a pretty girl over for dinner alone.
I also know that the Emanuel Administration is predicated on misleading the public. Here are some examples: They were going to put more cops on the streets except in the budget there is not only no money for new officers there’s a call for them to cut $190 million out of the budget. They were going to call for shared sacrifice but they are giving $19.6 million to corporations by eliminating the corporate head tax and eliminating 17.7% of the Community Services budget closing everything from mental health centers to after school programs for kids. So honesty is not a strong suit with the Emanuel Administration. They might even be allergic to it. So when I read that the CTA was up in arms about “archaic work rules” costing the CTA money I knew that I’d never heard of these rules before but I did know a lot about what the CTA and the union are always fighting over… pensions, wages, benefits and safety.
I had a vague memory of the CTA treating its workers like a two dollar whore who asked for a five. In fact I recalled them being so egregious that a Bush Administration era federal arbitrator ruled against them. And sure enough such was the case. Since past practice is the best predictor of future performance I knew that Rahm and Forrest hate unions and have done everything in their power to destroy them. That both of these men have a veracity problem that would embarrass Pinocchio in regards to public policy and that the entire Emanuel Administration is in perpetual campaign mode to cover for their lack of public policy that helps the public made me decide to read up on their “archaic” work rules. Because whenever you are talking about a union contract you are talking about taking food from the mouth of working and middle class children. If that sounds a little more severe than changing archaic work rules it’s because UNLIKE the media I decided to read the damn contract!
What I discovered was fascinating because when you examine the past and look at where the “savings” might be what you discover is that these work rules don’t add to diddly and what Rahm and Forrest want to do is… cut pensions, wages, benefits and corners on safety for both the public and CTA employees. So what’s happening here is that Mayor Emanuel and Forrest Claypool are asking the unions to sacrifice their wages, pensions, benefits and your safety and if to take the blame for them having to live up to their responsibilities as administrators of the system. Yes, that’s right. You see between just the TIF funds and the possible savings in the M/WBE program we’re talking over a billion dollars that could be used to do any number of things to help the city’s finances but that’s not on the table. What’s on the table are middle class and working class families becoming less secure or being blamed for you and I having to pay a little more for public transit. This is the case because Mayor Emanuel and Forrest are more interested in REDUCING taxes on corporations and going to bat for them downstate to further shift the tax load from them on to you. Why our media can’t figure this out would be harder to figure out if we didn’t all know how very bad they appear to be at their jobs… but c’mon media people… it takes ten minutes to find the contract and a few hours to read it. It takes even less time than that know the history between the CTA and its unions to know what the fight is, where the money is at and what the actual fight’s over. If I can figure this out in my damn spare time… what’s wrong with you people?