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Monday, March 20

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Springfield Fri Jul 03 2009

Truth, Consequences, and the State Budget

One of my favorite weekly rituals happens about midway through the Sunday service at Hyde Park Union Church. The service leader steps to the altar microphone and says some variant of "we have come to the time in our service where we share our joys and concerns with the congregation and before God." I wish that Tom Cross, Pat Burke, Mike Madigan or any number of Springfield politicians were sitting in the pews of the gorgeous red stone church at 56th and Woodlawn the last two weeks. Despite their ridiculous assurances that the cuts were only temporary and (in Burke's words) "no one should be laid off because this will all work out," the congregation at Hyde Park Union knows better. We know that Ann, a social worker working with the indigent mentally ill working for a non-profit dependent on state contracts is now laid off. We know that her patients and clients dependent on state aid for psychotropic medicines are now without services. Given that even 48 hours without psychotropic medicine is dangerous for those with severe mental illness, the "short" week or two delay promised by our state leaders is unconscionable. We heard how Center for New Horizons, one of the last remaining social service non-profits left standing in Bronzeville has put 100 staff on furlough. We heard about how David, a CPS teacher during the year, will no longer be working for the PEP project because it has shuttered its doors due to uncertainty over funding. I'm pretty sure that the situation on the mid-South Side of Chicago is not unique (I would link to the Chi-Town Daily New's coverage, but they're in pledge drive mode).
It is relatively unsurprising, but still disturbing, that state legislators have no real understanding of the consequences of their actions. The idea that non-profits, many of whom already struggle with late payments and uncertain levels of compensation from state contracts can weather a month, or even a couple of weeks without knowing if they'll receive any funds is a serious misunderstanding of the situation of non-profits. Ground level social service agencies rarely have a bunch of money lying around for a rainy day.
But I guess I shouldn't expect state legislators to know that, or even if they do to value the lives of their constituents over winning silly political games. While I imagine few state reps and senators have the gall to not even locate their office in district (like Dan Burke, state rep in the 23rd), but I wonder how many of them really engage with constituents or have any idea of the real world consequences of their political brinksmanship. Maybe it's time for them to get some religion and head off to church, to listen to the prayers of the people.. and then go to confession.

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It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

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It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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