Monday, July 10, 2017


Legislators pass devastating austerity budget in Illinois..... 49 more states to go

By Alexander Fangmann
10 July 2017

On Thursday, July 6, the Illinois House of Representatives voted to override Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of its budget bill. The passage of the state budget ends a record two-year period in which Illinois operated with no formal budget or appropriations legislation.

During this time, much of state government had been operating on the basis of a series of stop-gap measures and consent decrees which kept state spending at the level of the last budget, for fiscal year (FY) 2015. State spending on social services and higher education, however, have been sharply reduced. Many social service providers have ceased operation while universities and community colleges have slashed budgets and laid off workers.

As the Illinois Senate had already voted to override the governor’s veto on July 4, the state legislature’s budget will become law, enshrining massive across-the-board cuts of 5 percent to most state government agencies and 10 percent to higher education. This will lead to further layoffs of state workers and cuts in services to vulnerable populations, which have already been hit hard by previous state cuts as well as the lengthy impasse.

The Democratic Party majority in the House was joined by 15 Republicans who voted for the budget bill and 10 who voted for the final override. Many of the Republicans who voted for the budget and override represent districts with community colleges and universities, or large numbers of state workers. Others were worried by the threats issued by the credit rating agencies that Illinois would have its bond rating reduced to junk status.

The new FY 2018 budget sets spending at $36.1 billion, around $3 billion less than the state was previously spending, representing a cut of more than 7 percent. In fact, the budget bill cuts spending by $1 billion more than Rauner’s own budget proposal.

A $500 million portion of the savings anticipated by the budget comes out of worker pensions. Part of this will come through the creation of a new “hybrid” pension option for new hires which would incorporate both a standard pension as well as a 401(k)-style portion.

The biggest difference between this plan and existing state pensions is that “local” employers, such as school or community college districts and universities, would be required to pay most of the employer contribution, rather than the state itself. This downward shift in the burden of state pension costs will no doubt lead to reduced services and further job cuts.

The new budget also incorporates legislation previously vetoed by Rauner which makes changes to the Chicago municipal worker and laborer pension funds. Claiming to require the city to make required pension payments to shore up drastic shortfalls, the main effect will be to sharply increase employee contributions for new hires from 8.5 percent of income to 11.5 percent.

Perhaps the most widely reported aspect of the new budget is the increase in the state income tax, which will rise from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent for individuals and from 5.25 percent to 7 percent for corporations. As the Illinois income tax is a flat tax, this increase will add further strain to workers’ household budgets.

Despite the higher percentage number on the corporate income tax, the vast majority of increased revenue will come from the individual income tax. The latter is expected to bring in $4.3 billion in additional tax revenue, while the corporate income tax increase will bring in only $460 million. Legislators abandoned a plan which would have made the tax increase retroactive to January of this year, meaning that workers’ paychecks would have seen even larger deductions.

Even after the passage of the budget and the addition of the new tax revenue, Illinois still has $15 billion in unpaid bills to state agencies, higher education and social service providers. Much of this shortfall was built up by the expiration in January 2015 of an income tax increase passed in 2011, which had raised the personal income tax rate to 5 percent and the corporate rate to 7 percent.

Then-incoming Governor Rauner had demanded that legislators allow the income tax increase to expire, to which the Democratic majority in the state legislature acquiesced. This set the stage for the budget impasse as Rauner demanded passage of a wish list of right-wing measures and attacks on workers in exchange for agreeing to not veto a reinstatement of the tax increase.

With no budget and no stop-gap measures in place, the state’s financial situation has been rapidly deteriorating, with school districts around the state warning that without appropriations they might not be able to open in the fall. Several state universities were in similar positions, and the United Way predicted that by the end of the year, 36 percent of social service providers would be defunct.

The passage of the budget by the Democratic majority in the General Assembly will not be the end of the attacks on workers. Democratic leaders Michael Madigan and John Cullerton, not to mention Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and their allies are continuing to negotiate behind the scenes with Rauner to enact portions of his “Turnaround Agenda,” as well as continue the attacks on pensions they were carrying out prior to his arrival.

In addition, the budget appropriation for K-12 education is contingent on passage of a bill that would change the formula for apportioning state money to school districts, in order to divert more school funding to Chicago Public Schools. By setting up school districts as hostages in the negotiation, the Democrats are essentially luring Rauner back to the table in the hope of setting up a more stable working relationship

"These absurd claims were completely 
shattered by the chilling dashcam video that 
was eventually released, an overlooked piece 
of evidence whose release CPD, Chicago 
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Democratic 
Party blocked for 13 months."

Chicago police officers indicted for covering up murder of Laquan McDonald

By Alexander Fangmann
29 June 2017
On Tuesday, Cook County special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes announced grand jury indictments for three Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers. The officers are being charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct for their roles in covering up the murder of Laquan McDonald, a coverup carried out in order to protect officer Jason Van Dyke for the unprovoked street execution of the 17-year-old in October of 2014.
The indictment accuses David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney of lying to investigators immediately after and following the shooting of McDonald, withholding or giving misleading information, filing false police reports, failing to interview witnesses and destroying evidence.
The indictment states that in order to prevent investigators from learning about the murder, March, Walsh and Gaffney, working closely with Van Dyke, first invented a narrative out of whole cloth to justify Van Dyke’s brutal killing of the youth, who was shot 16 times even though he was attempting to flee and posed no threat to police.
The indictment states that the three officers filed a series of reports alleging that McDonald threatened them with a knife and lunged at Van Dyke, and that even after being shot twice, McDonald supposedly tried to get up and brandish his knife. These absurd claims were completely 
shattered by the chilling dashcam video that 
was eventually released, an overlooked piece 
of evidence whose release CPD, Chicago 
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Democratic 
Party blocked for 13 months.
The indictment also charges the officers for their subsequent efforts to distort, ignore and falsify evidence that might have challenged their story. In particular, the officers threatened to arrest witnesses who might have provided a different narrative. Their efforts to erase 86 minutes of video footage from a Burger King security camera are also mentioned in the indictment.
With the charges stemming from the officers’ roles in concealing the facts of the shooting, the indictment is being hailed as striking a blow at CPD’s “code of silence,” that is, the systematic manipulation of police shooting investigations that has resulted in precisely one murder charge against a CPD officer for an on-duty killing in nearly 35 years, that of Laquan McDonald shooter Jason Van Dyke.
Holmes took this up directly at a press conference, saying, “[t]he indictment makes clear that it is unacceptable to obey an unofficial code of silence.” She further stated, “[t]he indictment makes clear that these defendants did more than merely obey an unofficial ‘code of silence,’ rather it alleges that they lied about what occurred to prevent independent criminal investigators from learning the truth.”
While it is clear that the cops involved are criminally
 complicit in Van Dyke’s unjustified murder of 
McDonald, the indictment of these three officers, 
not to mention the charges against Van Dyke 
himself, will ultimately do nothing to change the 
entrenched criminality and violence perpetrated by 
the Chicago police.

Even if any of them are convicted, which is unlikely, the top officials and politicians who set policy and who defend the police are dead set on giving cops carte blanche to terrorize the city’s working population in order to defend the wealth and privileges of the financial oligarchy.
More appropriately, the present indictment should itself be understood as a continuation of the conspiracy to cover up the shooting and minimize its consequences, particularly for Emanuel and the Democratic Party. When McDonald was shot, and for months after, Emanuel was in the midst of a tight reelection race, and desperate to prevent the release of the video, which he knew would severely hurt his chances.
Emanuel and the city council even 
approved a $5 million blood money 
payment to McDonald’s family in April 
of 2015, before the family had even 
filed a wrongful death lawsuit, and the 
day after Emanuel won the vote for a 
second term.
It was only later in 2015 that the existence of the dashcam video was made known by a whistleblower, corroborating suspicions of journalists and investigators that reports connected to the McDonald shooting were inconsistent with the official autopsy and with an anonymous eyewitness account.
There was no push to charge any of the cops involved with murder or anything else. Democratic Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez only announced charges against Van Dyke on the same day that the dashcam footage was released to the public.
Since then, all announcements of police “reforms” have been entirely cosmetic. While Alvarez lost reelection as state’s attorney, her replacement, Kim Foxx, has limited herself to pushing for the use of special state prosecutors in cases of police violence. Despite this, she declined to bring charges against CPD officer Robert Rialmo, who killed Quintonio LeGrier and his neighbor, Bettie Jones, after LeGrier’s family called 911 seeking help with their son’s mental health crisis.
Recently, Emanuel backed away from his previously stated intention that CPD enter into court-ordered oversight. A yearlong Justice Department civil rights investigation into CPD depicted in detail a police department rife with misconduct and violence against civilians, and recommended extensive changes.
While the election of Donald Trump likely played a role in Emanuel’s decision, with Trump and attorney general Jeff Sessions opposing these kinds of police consent decrees, it is also a recognition that Chicago’s ruling elite will rely on the police more and more directly as a last line of defense to defend their wealth and privileges. Already, Emanuel had 
faced a backlash from Chicago police, many of 
whom voted for Trump, and who recently elected a 
new Fraternal Order of Police president resolutely 
opposed to even the mildest of reforms.



….. and so goes the nation!


The history of the police in the Democratic

 Party stronghold that is Chicago is filled with

 horrific stories of abject brutality and murder

 followed by massive coverups. 

Latest Chicago police killing shrouded in secrecy

By George Gallanis
11 July 2017
As warm sunlight draped North Leclaire Avenue on Chicago’s northwest side Sunday morning, a hail of police bullets trailed a fleeing man. With at least one bullet eventually striking him, the man would die at a local hospital.
The as yet unidentified man is the eighth person killed by the Chicago police this year, almost one week since the last. He was, according to, the 637th person to die by police violence in the United States. As of this writing, the total count stands at 641.
Very little information on the incident exists. In fact, as is customary for most police shootings in an effort to temporarily quell social anger, the current official account of the story will likely change in the coming weeks.
The history of the police in the Democratic Party stronghold that is Chicago is filled with horrific stories of abject brutality and murder followed by massive coverups. As it was with the cover up of the murder of Laquan McDonald by Chicago police, what has officially been said and what will be said about the latest killing should both be treated with utter contempt.
According to the Chicago police, the incident began when the mother of the unidentified man informed police early Sunday morning that the man was holding his girlfriend and her child against their will in a house on the northwest side of the city.
Police eventually surrounded the home, with highly militarized SWAT units called onsite to wait on standby if needed to forcibly enter the home by way of flash bangs and heavy weaponry. However, the man let the woman and child go.
Afterwards, according to the police and major news outlets such as ABC, the man allegedly stepped out of the house, fired upon the police, with one cop firing back, and made his way down the street on foot. Such a story defies common sense. How was he allowed to get away unscathed when an arsenal of police and SWAT members surrounded him?
There are more questions to be asked. Afterwards, according to the official account of the police, the man climbed to the roof of a house, and jumped into a gangway, causing his weapon to discharge. Yet, police say, he then intentionally fired upon the cops, after which he was fatally wounded.
A witness to the incident tells a different story. “They were using some code words for positioning themselves, after that that’s when one shot came at them and then after that they shot several shots. It was over just like that,” said Gilberto Morales, a local resident. According to Morales, only one shot was fired by the suspect before his death. Was the “one shot” that “came at them” the bullet which was unintentionally fired after the man fell into the gangway?
Quick to justify the killing as act of self-defense, a spokeswoman for Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), Mia Sissac, told the press. “It’s still too early to say anything definitive except that shots were fired at officers, and officers returned fire.”
Sissac’s statement reveals the absolute bankruptcy of IPRA, an oversight and police accountability organization, which will investigate the incident for any wrongdoing by the police. But it will find none. IPRA’s history consists of one coverup after another. It played a leading role, in close collaboration with Chicago’s Democratic mayor, Rahm Emanuel, in the coverup of Laquan McDonald’s murder by Chicago police. IPRA found no wrongdoing then.

Acting on behalf of both the Democrats and Republicans, the two parties of big business, police operate as the most blatant expression of the violence of class rule. Responsibility for the senseless murders of hundreds of people does not stop at the police, but must include above all the political parties which control and rely on them to maintain the status quo and above all to suppress opposition from the working class.

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