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How to tank Chicago as Mayor. If you believe you can acheive!

Is it possible to outperform Lightfoot? To accelerate Chicago's downfall? You bet!

Tax businesses for hiring people. Kill Charter schools where minority demand exceeds supply by 5/1. Support a corrupt and, dare I say, evil Teacher's Union that kept children out of school during the pandemic. Oops...forgot, install a dude who was a "defund the police" guy.

Yep, that's should put Chicago out of its misery.

Mayoral rivals keep their differences mostly issue-focused as they disagree over taxes, vouchers and charter schools at women’s forum

By Gregory Pratt and Alice Yin

Chicago Tribune

Mar 11, 2023 at 5:09 pm

Mayoral candidates Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson differed on taxes, schools and the privatization of public resources during a robust forum Saturday largely dedicated to women’s issues.

Perhaps the most spirited exchanges between the two were over how to raise money to fund programs and the fallout over governments privatizing services.

Johnson, asked to address his own taxation plan that includes a $4-per-employee head tax on Chicago companies, raising the hotel tax and implementing a fuel tax, said he would always tell residents the “truth.”

“We also agree that you can’t keep balancing the budget off the backs of working people,” Johnson, a Cook County commissioner, said. “So since we agree with that, you will agree with my budget. Help me find $250 million annually.”

Vallas, a former Chicago Public Schools CEO, responded, “Let me tell you the truth about that plan,” before arguing those levies, such as the hotel tax increase, would decimate businesses and instead the city should implement his plan to repurpose tax-increment financing dollars.

The two also clashed over privatization, with Vallas preemptively saying that method of governance has been harmful and criticizing cleaning deals CPS entered into under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Johnson followed that up by blaming Vallas for the proliferation of charter schools in New Orleans that began under his tenure leading the schools district following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

“You were there,” Johnson said as the audience gasped. “You actually did that.”

Johnson also dug into Vallas for his record leading the Philadelphia school business and derided privatization as “one of the greatest failures” for female employees. Vallas argued that charter schools, including those in New Orleans, are public schools and touted how test scores rose under his leadership.

The first question that drew a sharp contrast between Vallas and Johnson came early in the forum, when they were asked to opine on private school vouchers.

Vallas framed them as a “scholarship program.” He also said he believes the amount of charter schools operating within CPS is sufficient and that the focus should be on expanding magnet schools and programs within neighborhood schools.

Johnson responded by saying the history of vouchers is rooted in white families who did not want their children to go to school with Black and brown kids.

“I believe that the people in Chicago are sick and tired of experimentation on Black and brown and poor children when it comes to education,” Johnson said. “... We are setting up winners and losers. Public education shouldn’t be doing that.”

Vallas then said he would oversee the transition to an elected CPS Board of Education by engaging with the community as well as empowering Local School Councils. Johnson responded by blaming Vallas for the implementation of probationary schools that employed “terms that are used when it comes to the criminalization of people” and that set those campuses up to be potentially closed down the road.

Mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson, right, speaks about his plans for education funding as fellow candidate Paul Vallas listens during a women's mayoral forum, hosted by the Chicago Women Take Action Alliance, at the Chicago Temple Saturday.

Mayoral candidate Brandon Johnson, right, speaks about his plans for education funding as fellow candidate Paul Vallas listens during a women's mayoral forum, hosted by the Chicago Women Take Action Alliance, at the Chicago Temple Saturday. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)

“I’m surprised that I don’t get blamed for the sinking of the Lusitania,” Vallas retorted before distancing himself from Emanuel’s school closures and touting the peace between the district and the Chicago Teachers Union during his tenure as CEO. CTU is now backing Johnson.

Another tiff between Johnson and Vallas over schools emerged in response to a question about minority hiring. Vallas talked about his contracts for Black and Latino people under his leadership and directed listeners to go to his website: “Type in your address. It’ll show a school that I have built in your community.”

Johnson said back, “Yeah, I don’t know if we’ve ever actually experienced any of the things that Paul Vallas is talking about.”

He added that there’s unemployment in Black neighborhoods that rivals Great Depression-era numbers and that, at that time in the 1930s, the federal government gave white men shovels before there was anything to dig. Vallas looked at the moderators as though seeking a chance to respond but they moved on.

Vallas did, however, say he left schools with a surplus before he pivoted to attack Johnson’s economic plan.

“Last time I looked, working people, middle-income people occasionally also have to take flights too,” Vallas said.

Johnson defended his “tax-the-rich” philosophy, however, and said that a teacher and firefighter should not pay the same tax rate as a millionaire.

“That is the premise of the Democratic Party,” Johnson said. “No wonder why I agree with it and my opponent does not.”

Vallas also grew impassioned when answering a question about the lack of resources for domestic violence victims in Chicago and said the city should “seize” 15,000 vacant residential properties and make them available for survivors.

Lastly, Johnson repeated his claim that his opponent is a Republican and said he’ll be better able to deal with state legislators. “It’s going to be harder for Paul. I mean, not that we don’t work with Republicans, but you get my point, right?”

Vallas turned to the moderators and winked bemusedly.

During the event’s closing, candidates shared some of the most personal details yet of their lives before politics. Asked to talk about a woman who has inspired them, a nervous grin flashed across Johnson as he pondered aloud whether to pick his wife or his late mother, who had a rare heart disease.

“I love you, honey. I’m gonna go with my mother,” Johnson said, chuckling before his voice grew soft. “The last time I saw my mother alive, she was preparing for church and I was prepared to leave back to college. ... And she said: ‘Brandon, I need you to take care of yourself. Because you’re going to help a lot of people one day.’ Now, I don’t know if she thought that I’d be running for mayor because if she did, I wish she would have given her son a heads up.”

Vallas earned a playful swat on the shoulder from Johnson after he declared his intentions to talk about both his mother and his wife.

“I grew up as a stutterer and stammerer,” Vallas said. “I started stuttering in first grade, and I stuttered literally into my 40s. In fact, to this day, I will not watch myself giving a speech or respond to questions because I know when I’m stuttering or I need transition words.”

Vallas said he was made fun of as a child, leading to him to isolate at home and have fits of frustration until his mother, now in her 90s, encouraged him to work harder to overcome his challenges. “My mother never gave up. She absolutely convinced me that my only problem was I didn’t work hard enough. And she actually pulled me into believing.”

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