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Do Teachers' Unions Have Any Friends in the Obama Administration?

Tue, 2014-07-01 17:33
We are living in an era when the very idea of public education is under attack, as are teachers' unions and the teaching profession. Let's be clear: these attacks and the power amassed behind them are unprecedented in American history. Sure, there have always been critics of public schools, of teachers, and of unions. But never before has there been a serious and sustained effort to defund public education, to turn public money over to unaccountable private hands, and to weaken and eliminate collective bargaining wherever it still exists. And this effort is not only well-coordinated but funded by billionaires who have grown wealthy in a free market and can't see any need for regulation or unions or public schools.

In the past, Democratic administrations and Democratic members of Congress could be counted on to support public education and to fight privatization. In the past, Democrats supported unions, which they saw as a dependable and significant part of their base.

This is no longer the case. Congress is about to pass legislation to expand funding of charter schools, despite the fact that they get no better results than public schools and despite the scandalous misuse of public funds by charter operators in many states.

The Obama administration strongly supports privatization via charters; one condition of Race to the Top was that states had to increase the number of charters. The administration is no friend of teachers or of teacher unions. Secretary Duncan applauded the lamentable Vergara decision, as he has applauded privatization and evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students. There are never too many tests for this administration. Although the president recently talked about the importance of unions, he has done nothing to support them when they are under attack. Former members of his administration are leading the war against teachers and their unions.

Think Rahm Emanuel, who apparently wants to be known as the mayor who privatized Chicago and broke the teachers' union. Or think Robert Gibbs, the former White House press secretary who is now leading the public relations campaign against teachers' due process rights.

The National Education Association is meeting now in Denver at its annual conference. The American Federation of Teachers holds its annual convention in Los Angeles in another week or so. Both must take seriously the threat to the survival of public education: not only privatization but austerity and over-testing. These are not different threats. They are connected. Austerity and over-testing set public schools up to fail. They are precursors to privatization. They are intended to make public schools weak and to destroy public confidence in democratically controlled schools. What is needed at this hour is a strong, militant response to these attacks on teachers, public schools, and -- where they exist -- unions.

For sure, unions have their faults. But they are the only collective voice that teachers have. Now is the time to use that voice. The battle for the future of public education is not over.

Supporters of public education must rally and stand together and elect a president in 2016 who supports public schools. This is a time to get informed, to organize, to strategize, and to mobilize. If you are not angry, you have not been paying attention.

28,000 Soccer Fans Skipping Work To Watch The World Cup (PHOTO)

Tue, 2014-07-01 17:02
By now, American soccer fans have probably grown pretty good at making up excuses why they're not at work during the World Cup's prime time games.

In the U.S. Soccer Federation's home of Chicago on Tuesday, fans packed Soldier Field (an NFL stadium) to watch USA take on Belgium in the knockout round. Viewing parties in Chicago and around the nation have been growing larger with each progressive match, though ESPN estimated mid-game that the expected crowd of 20,000 fans had swelled to roughly 28,000.

Soldier Field is rockin' for the #USAvBEL viewing party. #OneNationOneTeam

— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) July 1, 2014

Sorry, Ann Coulter: Time to come correct that soccer is just too awesome.

Trouble Over T-Shirts Just Landed 2 State Universities In Court

Tue, 2014-07-01 15:59
Two Midwest state universities are being hauled into court over what campus groups can and can't say on their T-shirts.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said Tuesday that it has filed lawsuits against Iowa State University, for denying marijuana reform advocates the use of the school mascot on their T-shirts, and against Ohio University, for directing a student government-related group not to wear T-shirts with a double entendre. Students from the two schools joined FIRE, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit, at a press conference in Washington, D.C., announcing the suits.

FIRE also said it was suing Citrus College in California over a "minuscule" free speech zone and Chicago State University for alleged censorship of a faculty blog. The four lawsuits begin FIRE's Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, an effort to challenge college speech codes nationwide.

"The lawsuits will continue until campuses understand that time is finally up for unconstitutional speech codes in academia," said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff.

Members of Students Defending Students, a subsidiary of the Ohio University student Senate that advises students using the school's judiciary process, were told not to wear T-shirts that read, "We get you off for free." The university told the group that the shirts objectified women, according to FIRE's suit, and violated the university's student conduct policy, which forbids any "act that degrades, demeans, or disgraces" another student.

Isaac Smith, an Ohio University senior (seen above), admitted at the press conference that the shirts were silly and a bit inappropriate, "but that's the point."

The Iowa State chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws was barred from using the school mascot, Cy the Cardinal, on T-shirts promoting its campus club.

The shirt on the left (above) is the one that the school's trademark licensing office initially approved in 2012, but rejected the following year after a photo of the shirt appeared in the state's largest newspaper. A January 2013 update to the trademark policy banned use of the mascot in designs that tend to promote "dangerous, illegal or unhealthy products, actions or behaviors" and "drugs and drug paraphernalia that are illegal or unhealthful," according to the Iowa State Daily. The NORML chapter began working with FIRE earlier this year.

"Our university administration has prevented us from even putting the word marijuana on our designs," said Erin Furleigh, a member of the NORML chapter, at the press conference.

Iowa State has continued to reject design submissions from the group featuring the Cy logo and a cannabis leaf.

University spokesman John McCarroll said Iowa State had not yet seen the lawsuit and couldn't comment on specifics.

"After we receive the lawsuit, we will review it with the Iowa Attorney General's Office and file our response with the court," McCarroll said. "Student organizations at Iowa State University have the right to express their views, but they can't attribute those views to the university. Iowa State has the right and obligation to manage the use of our university trademarks."

Ohio University representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

What Happens When A Major Lightning Storm Hits The One Of The Country's Tallest Buildings

Tue, 2014-07-01 15:57
With "polar vortex" memories fading fast, Midwesterners expanded their severe weather vocabulary yet again Monday to include the rare storm system known as a "derecho."

Derechos, which AccuWeather says are often referred to as inland hurricanes, pack a wallop of violent thunderstorms, torrential rain and strong winds.

In Chicago, which was hit hard during rush hour Monday, a small consolation from the violent storms were the dazzling shots of lighting cracking across the skyline:

Three strikes and you're out! A composite of 3 separate bolts I caught hitting @SkydeckChicago tonight >

— Nick Ulivieri (@ChiPhotoGuy) July 1, 2014

Picture: Vivid #lightning: MT @Sam_Henson44: Lightning over Lake Michigan #nofilter #chicago

— Johnny Kelly (@stormchaser4850) July 1, 2014

Double Whammy - Hancock and Trump Tower @HuffPostChicago @NWSChicago @weatherchannel @WBBMNewsradio @Suntimes #storm

— Barry Butler (@barrybutler9) July 1, 2014

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Post by Craig Shimala.

Shootings Up -- But Homicides Down -- In Chicago

Tue, 2014-07-01 14:36
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago police say the city had fewer homicides during the first six months of 2014 but dozens more shooting incidents and victims than during the same period in 2013.

Gun violence in Chicago has received increased national attention since 2012 when Chicago was the only city in the nation to record more than 500 homicides. The release of the crime statistics also comes as the department has flooded the streets with hundreds of officers working overtime to combat the expected summer rise in violent crime. The department says there were 172 homicides through June 30 — nine fewer than during the same period last year. The number of shooting incidents rose from 844 to 890 and the number of shooting victims rose from 1,030 to 1,115 for the same period.

These Folks Are Lucky To Be Alive After Driving Into Giant Sinkhole

Tue, 2014-07-01 13:43
After a massive storm system hit parts of the Midwest on Monday evening, many area residents were without power, flooding was rampant, travel plans were thwarted and a massive suburban Chicago sinkhole swallowed up two cars.

Officers arrived at the scene in rural Kane County, about 50 miles west of Chicago, around 4 a.m. Tuesday after they received a call reporting that a car had driven into a sinkhole about 10 feet in diameter, WGN reports.

PHOTOS: Car drives into sinkhole in unincorporated Burlington Township, 2 injured

— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) July 1, 2014

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So a car plunged into a giant sink hole this morning in Kane county...

— Melissa Silverberg (@m_silverberg) July 1, 2014

A 41-year-old woman was driving the car that went into the sinkhole, which was deep enough so that her entire vehicle -- a Ford Taurus -- was below ground level. It was wide enough that it stretched across the entire road, according to the Daily Herald.

While the woman and her 15-year-old son waited for authorities to arrive, a second vehicle, a Chevrolet pickup truck, also fell into the hole, driving over the top of the Taurus.

The two people inside the Taurus were taken to area hospitals and treated for non-life-threatening injuries before being released, while the driver of the pickup truck was treated and released at the scene.

Police say the sinkhole opened up in a rural area that lacks street lights and that, had the circumstances been slightly different, the scene "could have been real tragic," CBS Chicago reports. Officials did not immediately know what might have caused the sinkhole in addition to the stormy weather.

From Goofy Ridge to Sandwich, Here Are The Weirdest Place Names in Illinois

Tue, 2014-07-01 13:34
Ever notice how strange-sound words tend to start sounding normal after hearing them enough? What words come up frequently in Illinois that seem mundane to those of us who live here but maybe deserve a second look? Let's recognize these weird place names in our state for the unique monikers they are.

If you were Martian just arriving in Illinois (albeit a Martian with a decent grasp of the English language and a surprisingly strong knowledge of Western human history) what kinds of weird comments or questions would you have if you heard these Illinois place names for the first time?

A lot of communities in Illinois have names that ring a bell:

Warsaw, Waterloo, Versailles, Verona, Vienna, Venice, Troy, Toledo, Rome, Paris, New Berlin, Liverpool, Kent, Hamburg, Geneva, Dover, Crete, Brussels, Bristol, Bath, Athens, Andalusia, Alhambra, Thebes, Pekin, Lima, Havana, Cypress, Cairo, Palestine, Panama, Peru, New Holland, Malta, Macedonia, Cuba, Columbia, Antioch, Tennessee, Wyoming, Ohio, Kansas, Dakota, Albany, Annapolis, El Paso, Georgetown, London Mills, Manhattan, Milan, New Memphis, Newark, Omaha, Oregon, Raleigh, Salem, Sparta, Topeka, Virginia

Are these names descriptive or aspirational?

Unity, Triumph, Noble, Justice, Equality, Fidelity, Hopedale, Good Hope, Industry, Joy, Libertyville, Lovejoy, Loves Park, Royal, Union, Harmony

And there are plenty of places that lend themselves to cringe-worthy puns:

Voila, it's Viola.

How much is Worth worth?

Was the founding of Lowpoint really such a bad time?

What kinds of perks can you get living in Perk?

Is an afternoon in Timewell really time well spent?

What would the ransom note look like if the entire population of Ransom were kidnapped?

It's not rare to see a Raritanian in Raritan.

They had to change the name of the town to Muddy after it started raining a lot in Dirty.

Let me preemptively say Preemption is a pretty preemptive place.

Oh man, I'd love to live in Ohlman.

They're not very good at taking their vitamins in Mineral.

Living in Okawville is great, okaw?

Tell me about a normal day in Normal. Well, it's actually pretty unusual.

Nachusa. Bless you!

I'm sure Plainville isn't as boring as it sounds.

I shudder to think of the bureaucracy they must face in Bureau.

And then there are some places that just make you scratch your head:

Goofy Ridge, Dunfermline, Mooseheart, Media, Hometown, Golf, Orangeville, Sandwich, Joppa, Hooppole.


Did we miss any towns or places in Illinois with unusual names? Let us know!

WAIT, THERE'S MORE: Click here for other places with weird names Illinois!

1. Taking Action: What should be done about townships?

2. Buffalo Grove top Illinois town to live in, but nowhere near top 10

3. Are these really the 10 best cities in Illinois?

4. Want a pay raise? Follow these 10 rules

Don't forget to like Reboot Illinois on Facebook!

U.S. vs. Belgium LIVE SCORES, UPDATES On World Cup Round Of 16 Clash

Tue, 2014-07-01 12:55
The message has been clear and consistent: The U.S. team is not content with escaping the Group Of Death at the 2014 World Cup and doesn't plan on leaving Brazil any time soon. The U.S. will have a chance to earn just its third trip to the World Cup quarterfinals when it takes on Belgium in a win-and-advance Round of 16 matchup at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador on Tuesday.

"We are not just satisfied with just getting to the Round of 16; we want to do more," U.S. striker Clint Dempsey said during a press conference on the eve of the match. "It’s a difficult challenge playing against Belgium, they have a lot of quality players, but at the same time, I think that if we play to the best of our ability, we can get the right result."

USA vs. Belgium
WHERE: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
TIME: 4 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN, Univision

The U.S. emerged from the formidable Group G as the runner-up while Belgium advanced into the knockout round as the top team in Group H. Belgium, the second-youngest team at the World Cup, fields a lineup stocked with skillful players starring at clubs across Europe. Undefeated in Group H, Belgium's inexperience and talent were both on full display in wins over Algeria, Russia and South Korea. In all three of its group-stage matches, Belgium initially struggled to break down its opponents but secured wins with late goals. All four of Belgium's group-stage goals came in the 70th minute or later.

In a knockout round game that could stretch into extra time, Belgium's penchant for late heroics could certainly come into play yet again. Despite his opponent's unblemished record in Brazil and daunting lineup that includes Eden Hazard, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann seemed at least as concerned with the referee that FIFA assigned to the match as he was with his squad's ability to compete.

"We worked hard for this moment," Klinsmann said during his media availability on Monday. "We made it through a very difficult group and now we want more. We are very, very hungry and focused and have a lot of respect for the Belgium side, as Clint said, but no fear at all."


Boyfriend Of Missing Teacher Bianca Tanner Extradited

Tue, 2014-07-01 12:05
The boyfriend of a missing North Carolina teacher will face charges surrounding the delinquency of her 3-year-old son.

Angelo Smith Jr., 30, was moved Tuesday morning from the Illinois jail where he has been held to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he will face a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. No additional details on that charge are immediately available.

Bianca Tanner, a 31-year-old second grade teacher from Greensboro, was last seen at Smith's Charlotte home on June 7, police said. What happened to her after that remains a mystery.

Bianca Richardson Tanner

A search warrant obtained by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department on June 10 alleges Tanner's 3-year-old son told police that his mom and Smith were involved in an altercation prior to her disappearance.

"Mommy got a spanking with a belt," the boy said, according to the search warrant.

"Angelo kicked mommy's butt and made her cry," the boy continued, adding, "Angelo is mean to mommy and hurt mommy in the face."

Questioned by police, Smith allegedly said he and Tanner argued over a text message on the night of June 7 and Tanner left his home "intoxicated."

Smith reported her missing the following day.

The search warrant also reveals that Smith has an outstanding warrant for domestic battery in Arkansas. It states the victim in that case told police Smith "threw her onto the bed and covered her face, both mouth and nose, with his hand smothering her."

Smith disappeared in the days following Tanner's disappearance. U.S. Marshals reportedly arrested him on Thursday, at a relative's Glenwood, Illinois home.

Smith was denied bond on Saturday and waived his right to fight extradition after facing a Chicago judge on Monday.

According to, Smith's attorney claims his client went to Illinois because he felt he was being threatened and wanted to be near his family.

Authorities have not yet named Smith a suspect or person of interest in Tanner's disappearance.

Friends and family members have established the "Find Missing Bianca Tanner" Facebook page to share information in the case and an account to assist her family with search-related expenses has been established at Donations can also be mailed to Bianca Tanner/Bianca Richardson & Family, P.O. Box 14361, Greensboro, NC 27415.

Tanner is 5 feet 3 inches tall, weighs 110 pounds and was last seen wearing a red tank top, black shorts and black flat shoes.

Anyone who knows the whereabouts of Tanner is asked to call the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department at 704-336-8970.


Bianca Tanner Search Warrant

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13 Grown Ups Losing Their %#&@ing Sh*t Over Sparklers

Tue, 2014-07-01 10:57
Sparklers are fun when you're a little kid, but until now we didn't know how downright euphoric they are for adults.

Stock photos would have you believe that sparklers aren't the most boring firework there is. Just take a look at how much unadulterated joy these grown ups experience by holding a crackling stick of light.

Confessions of an HRC Canvasser

Tue, 2014-07-01 10:51
You're walking down the street (perhaps shopping, or on your lunch break), and up ahead you see one of those street activists with the binders. They're trying to make eye contact with you, but you've averted your gaze and pulled out your phone.

"Hey! Do you have one minute for gay rights?"

"You look like a nice guy! Why don't you stop and talk for a second?"

The pick-up lines are incessant. Sometimes they follow you down the street. Your stroll is spoiled, especially if you caved and stopped to talk to them only to find they're asking for your credit card information. You don't have the money, the interest or comfort-level to donate today. And I don't blame you.

If you didn't know, they're called "canvassers." I was one for the Human Rights Campaign for an entire summer two years ago when I was saving to go abroad, desperate for a summer job. After talking to hundreds and hundreds of people on the streets, I now understand that the psychophysiological misery of a canvasser is caused by many things. Their bosses, their donors, their long, standing hours and more often than not, rude gay people. I kept a journal during my time with the HRC as an incentive to one day share some things you might not have known about the annoying do-gooders accosting you on the sidewalks. I presume that with Pride season at hand, you've encountred, or will encounter, many of them out at the festivals trying to grab you "for a minute." And so here is my exposé.

Before I start, though, I would like to make clear that the HRC is an incredible organization changing lives, which I still value, still love and fully endorse donating to. Canvassing policies and protocol may have changed since my time two years ago. What I'm sharing here is a personal experience about the work environment of a professional activist that might change the way you look at one.

Commissioned incentive drives every canvasser's motivation to talk to you.

Spending four months with the non-profit, I can say my eurotrip thereafter was fully funded and then some. I've met many people who think it's a volunteer job, but I don't know anyone who could tolerate minute-by-minute psychophysiological turmoil without an above minimum wage, plus commission. Here's the catch.

Every HRC canvasser (at least during my time in Chicago) was expected to reach a quota of $220 during their work day 9-6, 40 hours a week. If you reach your quota, you got over $9 an hour plus 15 percent of your earnings after quota. Mind you, this commission doesn't come from the HRC donations but from an overhead fund. If you don't reach your quota, you are paid about $8 an hour, no commission and you have 2 more strikes before you're fired. This is a fact that is not always disclosed to canvassers when they're hired, and they're shocked when they're canned on their third day thinking this would have been a stable summer job.

The overarching goal of a canvasser is to get your credit card number on a form that sets you up to donate monthly. This is called a sustainer. Whatever they donate monthly, you get added to your quota multiplied by 9 (an average the HRC has estimated a donor will stay with their membership).

On my first day, I raised $112 dollars. My second day it rained. We still canvas in rain. I raised $51 dollars. On my third day I raised $199 and went back to the base expecting to get fired. My boss said she really liked me and invited me to come back for one more try.

It was a street festival in Wicker Park. I had a sustainer and many cash donations, but still hadn't hit the target. Had even met a gay club owner that forked over a $100 bill and said to her wife and kid, "This is how we give the government the middle finger."

I had also guilted another couple into giving me a donation by pulling the Sad Gay Card, a trick I was starting to get used to to grab a cool ten bucks. Finally, I found a girl carrying two beers with the words "Wasted" tattooed on her wrists.

She said to me, "I used to be addicted to cocaine, but now I'm starting to clean up and do things that make me feel good about myself."

She signed up for $33 dollars a month ($297 added to my total). I hit my quota and later recorded a grand total of $782.05. This was how the game was played.

Canvassers have a script and are taught to motivate a donor into giving more than they're comfortable with.

Canvassers are trained to memorize a number of things. First off, a one-minute script about the campaign we are working on that ends with a request for a donation. If they say no, we memorize a script that asks if we can take a little more of their time to explain to them what we do, asking, again, for a smaller donation. On the third no, we would barter down with a third script for a small, one-time donation, or let them go.

If they say yes, we memorize a response that asks them to sign up as a high sustainer, which usually resulted in a no, for which you have an additional script that would ask them to be a lower, monthly sustainer. You're taught several verbal tactics to stretch out the process before you accept the taboo one-time donation.

Though the script works to some extent, I would like to think that the reason I did so well as a canvasser was because I often broke from the script and just talked to people. I was often driven by quota, but would abandon that if it meant I could just hear someone's story.

HRC canvassers are told never to follow, approach or harass potential donors, which is a one-up you should appreciate, as other organizations are know to chase people around. We're trained to stand in the middle of the sidewalk to make it more difficult for people to pass us up. If we are able to stop someone, part of our script includes the ever so graceful handing-over of the binder. The binder now in the donor's hands creates an increased psychological pressure for the the stopper to stay there, more likely to donate.

We are not allowed to sign up donors under 18, but this is not a part of your training, nor do we ever check the birthdate on the form to make sure. We accept checks and cash, but a credit card sustainer is the ultimate goal.

Most upsetting to me, though, was that we were taught these sections of script over and over again, every morning from 9-10 before we headed to the field. But only once or twice was I ever taught to memorize the statistics of the campaign we were working for, which was the Employment Non-discrimination Act. Maybe once was I taught about the ways the HRC spends its money, the programs it upheld or the people's lives it could save. This was research I did on my down time, when I actually looked through the binders we were given which had pages and pages of useful information about the HRC that no one (canvasser or donor) ever reads.

Canvassers can be misled, tricked and lied to by their supervisors.

I got my job off of Craigslist. There was an ad (and there are still ads) saying that I could help change the course of gay rights and get paid $4000-$6000 this summer. I was called in for an interview the next day. After 8 minutes or so, they asked me when I could start, telling me that they were impressed with my experience level and they wanted me to head up a Field Management position. I felt quite encouraged until I found out that every canvasser is offered a Field Management position as an incentive to take a tough job.

I was trained in a room of maybe 15 or so new "employees." These droves of new-hires came in every other day, but slowed as the summer wore on.

Many canvassers are not told that they would be fired on their third day and take on the job thinking that this is a stable source of income. I trained countless newbies and got similar responses when they were fired: "Why didn't anyone tell me?"

The turnover rate is one of the highest out there. Having stayed there for four months (which is essentially tenure in canvassing world), there were only three other people in the office who were there from the beginning to the end of my term, and that includes every single one of my bosses and managers. I easily watched hundreds of new employees go through the organization before they quit, moved, gave up or were fired.

Your supervisors create a somewhat superficial relationship with you, where they're funny, they encourage you, they play favoritism and frequently talk as if you'll be there forever full knowing that you'll likely be gone the next week. My first day of canvassing, I watched my "boss" get fired for not making quota and another person on our team just leave the binder with the Field Manager and walk home, midday. I recorded multiple instances where people would cry in the office or cuss Field Managers out with their frustrations.

Your first hour of the work day is spent in a room with other canvassers getting psyched to go out and raise money. Group activities, role-playing, chants, huddles, awards and Beyoncé dance parties are a few methodologies for this feat. Two hours of the day are essentially a "gay summer camp," as I put it. The next hour is spent commuting, as groups make it out to dozens of intersections across your city which have been archived based on the statistical lucrativeness of that location. You are given two 15-minute breaks, one lunch break and a group breakfast (which is sometimes skipped if you have a distant assignment to get to).

Your worth is essentially evaluated based on how much you raise. Often when you got back to the office after the day was up, your co-workers would ask you how much you raised, and you'd feel pressured to share your number. Mid-summer, I talked to a manager about possibly changing the way we discuss our personal funding numbers, and she was the only one who ever tried to change the environment with me, but we were unsuccessful and she ended up leaving to California.

Everyday, an employee is "debriefed," which means they go into a room with someone in management and talk about their number. It is in this debriefing that the manager tells you whether or not you are fired.

I noticed that all the Field Managers warmed up to me after I started making quota on a regular basis. It was something I found a bit unsettling, but it did create a lot of incentive for me to be a better canvasser in order to keep friends. I was (and we all were) victims to the system.

The success of a canvasser is largely based on their physical appearance.

I learned later on that what I looked like had a big part to play in who would stop to talk to me. Generally speaking, wearing glasses, pants and a button down would get adults or families to stop. Wearing a tank top, short shorts and my hair in a bun could stop hipsters, liberal moms, high schoolers and other gays.

Different canvassers stopped different demographics. I am Latino, and could stop Latinos or generally anyone darker than me. I also had a haircut almost exactly like Rihanna's at the time, and women would stop to ask me what my weave number was. (It was natural.) Being 22, I generally could not stop men in suits. I recorded only two men who ever stopped for me wearing a suit, and both times they were Canadian. White people had an easier time stopping white people. If you were male, you were less likely to stop females who were alone, but a better chance at stopping females in groups. Females (generally) could have an easier time stopping people, as they seem more approachable. A girl in a hijab could stop a lot of people who were curious about why a girl in a hijab was supporting the HRC, but the two that I saw only ever stayed for a week.

Black canvassers have a harder time stopping people who are not black. During my time there, no black canvasser stayed for more than two weeks before they couldn't make quota anymore. Generally, black males could stay four or five days. The only other Latino canvasser from our team quit after a couple stopped, talked to her, but then asked if they could give the money to someone else because they didn't feel comfortable giving it to her. I watched her break down and cry on the sidewalk.

These are all mere observations. A canvasser, regardless of appearance, could raise a lot of money if they were great, fluid negotiators. But stopping people was half the feat.

The highest-grossing canvasser in the office was a straight, white male of average height, average weight, glasses, was a little over 30 and had a seemingly ambiguous sexual orientation. He was with the HRC my entire time there.

Another girl who lasted had her hair dyed black, half shaved, gauge piercings, edgy makeup and many visible tattoos. She was an incredible negotiator, stopping liberals with ease and by some anomaly, reached a very wide demographic. She disclosed with us, though, that she would get hate speech more often than not. She also told us that days she wore a skirt could often get her a higher number.

My point here is that when you see a canvasser on the street, take notice of your immediate response and then question why or why not you decided to acknowledge the canvasser. That's all.

I was heckled and humiliated less often by Christian apologists and more often by rude gay people.

For every 100 people you say hi to, you'll probably get one person who stops (depending on where you are and how good of a greeting you have). Many canvassers are stationed outside of Whole Foods because of the high liberal, high income demographic it appeals to. It was where I would often have the easiest time raising money.

Once or twice a week, I would get called a "faggot," or some Christian would shout hate speech at me, asking for repention. This number varies depending on your greeting and location, but it's much less frequent than you would think.

About every other day, a gay person would be rude to me. This could be a range of responses. Sometimes men would pass by and say, with disgust, "Honey I'm already helpin gay rights." Or a response I've heard several times: "Girl, I'm livin it." I recorded one man saying, "I gave once and those motherfuckers call me every week." I've seen people who were (forgive me) clearly gay, waltz by and say, "fuck no." Perhaps because they either knew I was asking for money, or did not believe in the Human Rights Campaign. A few times, men would stop and talk, then grab my ass or feel my side and donate nothing.

Many times, people would stop to tell me about how transphobic the HRC was, or how the HRC gives too much money to overhead or how the HRC was primarily a marriage-focused organization. My response would be that the HRC has made leaps and bounds to remedy all three of these things and provide information, though this is of course contestable. Other canvassers, however, rarely knew much about the inner workings of the actual organization they were fundraising for, and therefore did not know how to defend themselves. The reality is that it's not the fault of the canvasser, but improper training. Though they should not feel the need to be on constant defense because of their own team.

Canvassers change lives.

Any grassroots organization can't do what they do without canvassers raising money every day. A few minutes spent on the HRC homepage helps you learn about the wide range of programs they create, countries they fight for, campaigns they produce, court cases they fight and publicity they develop for the movement in general.

Every canvasser on the street is a +1 exposure for a stranger who maybe was not thinking about gay rights that day. A canvasser could be a +1 conversation a stranger has never had before about the movement, about ENDA or gay marriage or about their country. It is a +1 point for the movement to get the word out there.

Canvassers are the reason the HRC is able to change lives. I felt often like I was paid in these stories, and would always stop to listen and talk to someone, like a girl who was evicted for being gay. To hug a girl whose cousin had committed suicide. To meet a couple whose daughter had accidentally married a gay man. ("It's okay now. We love him, and he's still family.")

To talk to a trans woman who just got out of penitentiary. To have people show me their equals sign tattoos and their wedding rings. To watch a large group of girls pour out their coin purses into my hands, saying "This one's for Hunter!" looking back at a shy teenage boy with the group who was their budding GBFFL.

I stopped a Christian man who was at first upset, but was shocked to hear of the gay Christian network the HRC fosters. I've stopped a man who was deaf and mute, but still stopped with his translator to tell me he was in support. Once a very old man approached me and lifted up a picture on his phone of a small black boy in the bathtub with bubbles all over his face. "This is my son," he said. "I was able to have him because of the ways the HRC facilitates our adoption process."

If you are L, G, B or T, I'm not asking you to donate or even stop for a canvasser. But you should know that any degree of rudeness you convey is friendly fire during a war. Just because you don't want to donate with a canvasser, doesn't mean you should be rude to a canvasser. Smile. Say, "I support what you do." Say, "No, thank you." I cannot express how much my moral was boosted when a stranger would shout, "I love the HRC," or give me a high five, or a hug or stop to get me a coffee. If you pay in kindness, it will allow a canvasser to feel the motivation to fundraise the money you are not able to donate.

There are many ways America's tide is changing, and canvassers are one reason why. Whether you're looking to donate, or you're looking to support or if you just want us to know that we're O.K., say so. The civil rights shift begins and ends with your kindness.

Cubs Announcer Grabs Foul Ball With Bare Hand (VIDEO)

Tue, 2014-07-01 10:40
The most impressive catch of the game between the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox on Monday night might have come from one of the Cubs broadcasters. When Chicago's Darwin Barney hit a foul ball in the second inning, Cubs announcer Jim Deshaies calmly made a bare-handed grab from his seat.

Granted, Deshaies spent 12 years as a starting pitcher in this league, so he's probably used to defending his position.

What Is a Teacher?

Tue, 2014-07-01 09:49
A teacher is the one who listens to the "strange" boy talk about his fascination with dragons and not judge. A teacher listens intently to the very animated child and might not understand what he is speaking of, but a teacher listens.

A teacher is the one who listens to the 7th grade girl complain about her over-protective mother and how she wishes she could wear what clothes she wants. A teacher calmly tells the child that her mother is just being a good mom and taking care of her. A teacher watches the teenager roll her eyes and inside cries because a teacher worries about what trouble that girl could get into one day.

A teacher sits next to the small boy, even though his clothes and he smells. A teacher wonders of the last time he bathed or his clothes were washed for him, but he can't add two digit numbers so a teacher sits by his side and helps him.

A teacher will call home to message machines over and over again trying to get through to the parent of the child who has been missing from school for days at a time without any reason. A teacher will take a 30-minute duty free lunchtime to call home and speak to the parent of a gifted child who again has done brilliantly on a class project.

A teacher wants to recognize the hard work children have done even though it is expected from some of them.

A teacher believes there are no bad students, just challenging ones.

A teacher will question and teach her students how to question.

A teacher can take criticism from students. A teacher will stay up until midnight to change the next day's lesson plans because the students said they needed to be taught in a different way then previously taught.

A teacher stands in the cafeteria and watches certain children waste food, throwing away what they don't eat while others have been given a free lunch and ask for people's extras because they know there is nothing at home. A teacher thinks of their own lunch in the classroom and knows they could go with less. A teacher looks at the students who do not have that choice.

A teacher pulls apart two girls or two boys bigger than them while they try to rip out each other's hair for no better reason than one supposedly said something about the other. Even though a teacher might get hurt, a teacher doesn't want the students to hurt each other.

A teacher puts extra pencils, crayons, and notebooks in a cart at the back-to-school sales because a teacher knows there will always be someone who needs them.

A teacher gets angry when a child has such potential and wastes it. A teacher sympathizes with the children who want nothing more than to be able to "get it" but they do not have that gift.

A teacher wipes the nose of the little kindergartner who fell on the playground and everyone laughed at him. A teacher cleans him up and lets him sit in the classroom while recess finishes. He's too embarrassed to go back outside.

A teacher will question why those students who cannot sit still must sit still through hours of state testing. A teacher knows a better way of assessing these children's knowledge, but a teacher must do what the state says. And have a positive attitude about it.

A teacher will stay up late grading papers and projects, writing comments and giving suggestions.

A teacher will step in front of the intruder to protect the students, the children, and someone else's baby.

A teacher will accommodate for a child's needs so that child can be successful in the way he or she needs to be successful. This is not always due to a learning disorder.

A teacher will tell any child "good job" for any simple or complex achievement, a perfect spelling test or their 500th strike out.

A teacher will accept change and adapt, as long as the teacher is given the opportunity and the training to change and adapt.

A teacher will be patient and remind he or herself that the student is only 9 or 13 or 17.

A teacher realizes this is public education. It is not perfect. It never will be. It will constantly change and a teacher must change with the flow, the current trend, and the newest idea.

A teacher will be a mom or dad if the need is there.

A teacher will put a student against a wall on timeout and put them in their place if need be.

A teacher will make the students cry, laugh, get really angry, and question why. A teacher will cry, laugh, get angry, and question why with that student.

A teacher educates every student to achieve his or her best and if someone or something impedes that process of learning, a teacher will make it go away.

A teacher often comes to work when it is still dark outside. A teacher will leave when it is dark again.

A teacher works on the weekends, on holidays, during the summer.

A teacher goes to graduation and hugs the student who called them names, wrote bad things on the Internet about them, lied to their face, and disrespected them. A teacher whispers in that student's ear, "I am so proud of you. I knew you could do it."

A teacher thanks the parents for their support, even when they do not get it.

A teacher thanks their colleagues for their support, even when that teacher doesn't get it.

A teacher doesn't get exasperated with a learning support student. A teacher doesn't tell the student to "try harder" but simply says, "Try again." The student is already trying hard.

A teacher can never leave their work at the office.

A teacher's day does not end when the buses pull out.

A teacher builds relationships and teaches the students to build relationships.

A teacher teaches students, not a subject matter.

A teacher never ever gives up.

A teacher is a gift. Cherish them.

Teddy Goalsevelt Is U.S. Soccer's Breakout Star, And His Story Is Amazing

Tue, 2014-07-01 09:32
CHICAGO -- Mike D'Amico believes in fate simply because there's no other way to explain how he went from soccer outsider to overnight World Cup sensation "Teddy Goalsevelt."

The 31-year-old D'Amico has a lucky ESPN crowd shot and his uncanny resemblance to America's 26th president to thank for his newfound fame at the world's biggest sporting event.

"This is serendipity on top of coincidence on top of randomness,” the Chicago advertising director told The Huffington Post by phone from his hotel in Brazil Monday.

D'Amico won't take credit for his character's name, either: "That's the Internet at its best."

When D'Amico headed to Manaus for the U.S.-Portugal match in full Rough Riders regalia (including a mustache, trimmed down from a substantial beard), he had no idea ESPN's cameras would take notice. But they did, and the exposure catapulted him from costumed supporter to viral World Cup superfan.

D'Amico takes every opportunity to underscore how caught off guard he was the response to his costume. In fact, he originally wasn't sure he'd even make it to the World Cup at all.

“I actually got laid off in September, so I was about as far from the World Cup as you can get," D'Amico said.

After a "down in the dumps" period from which D'Amico says he bounced back with the help of Chicago's "amazing" advertising community, he had saved enough to cover a travel package through the American Outlaws fan organization.

When a spot on the waiting list opened up, D'Amico realized the roughly $5,000 price tag was almost the exact amount he had stashed away.

“This is fate, right?" he said. "This is the universe basically telling me I have to go to the World Cup.”

Teddy Goalsevelt has been such a galvanizing force for U.S. supporters that his employer, Cavalry Advertising, raised enough money -- with a significant donation from McDonald's, D'Amico notes -- to keep him in Brazil for as long as the men's team is in the tournament.

“The workplace decided it would be a bad idea if I were to come home," D'Amico said. "They think I was maybe the good luck charm or the mascot.”

Even the U.S. Soccer Federation has taken note. While sitting in his hotel room in Brazil, D'Amico received an email from the federation's president, Sunil Gulati, inviting him to a supporter party.

"At first I thought it was a joke, that my friends were playing a prank on me because I hadn't been aware of all this media attention [back home]."

The invite was the real deal, and D'Amico ended up rousing the crowd with the help of another big American soccer fan, Will Ferrell (above). Later, he even guided U.S. soccer staffers through a flood.

While D'Amico is shocked by his character's overnight success, he's encouraged by what that means for the game's shifting popularity. Back home, for example, as many as 20,000 people are expected to gather in Chicago's Soldier Field to watch the U.S. take on Belgium Tuesday in the round of 16.

“The thing I pieced together quickly is that there’s no way a picture of me dressed as Teddy Roosevelt and losing my mind goes viral, unless there are 20 million people watching a soccer match,” D'Amico said. "That happens because Americans are intently watching and getting excited. It’s impossible if people don’t care."

Now D'Amico's only hope is that whether the American team's run ends Tuesday or at some undetermined point in the future, fresh fans will keep the enthusiasm high in the four years leading up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"The sport has more to offer than just the World Cup," D'Amico notes. "Even as spectacular as it is, hopefully people will find that it’s not just the World Cup, but that it’s soccer. I hope that people will give it a shot like I did.”

Today is the day. We salute you, Teddy Goalsevelt.

— Jacques Pantano (@Jaye_Pea) June 22, 2014

This Test At Your Gyno's Office Is Painful And A Waste Of Time

Tue, 2014-07-01 09:03
It turns out that the most uncomfortable and painful part of your annual gynecological exam is also pretty useless. So useless, in fact, that the American College of Physicians, the largest medical specialty organization in the country, recommends that doctors stop performing it.

It's called the bimanual pelvic exam. To get it done, the patient lays on the medical exam bed, naked from the waist down and feet in stirrups. Then the doctor puts a gloved, lubricated finger inside the vagina while simultaneously pressing down on the patient's belly with his or her other hand.

The point of the exam is to try to push both sets of fingers together to meet somewhere in the middle, which allows doctors to evaluate the size and position of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. (Ow.)

"It's an inherently limited exam, and in asymptomatic people it just doesn't provide any benefit," Dr. Molly Cooke, ACP’s Immediate Past President and a member of ACP’s Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee, told the Huffington Post. "Since the mid-'90s, there have been studies that show the accuracy of the bimanual exam in diagnosing ovarian cancer is extremely poor."

So why are doctors still performing it? People hate change, Cooke explained. Historically, doctors used the bimanual exam to screen for benign lesions and ovarian cancer -- a particularly aggressive form of cancer that is often fatal if it spreads.

But ovarian cancer itself is extremely rare, and the women who are most at risk for developing the disease either have the BRCA gene mutation or have undergone ovary-stimulating fertility treatments in the past, said Cooke. Besides, the most reliable way to diagnose ovarian cancer is through an ultrasound or blood test -- not a pelvic exam.

"The data doesn't support doing this element of the checkup, but a lot of doctors are still doing it," said Cooke. "My own gynecologist still does it!"

The ACP conducted a systematic review of studies that date back to 1946 and summarized the findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine, along with a recommendation against the pelvic exam for healthy, asymptomatic and non-pregnant adult women.

This is a sample of what the study review found:

  • Bimanual exams on their own aren't enough to detect cancer. In a large randomized controlled trial involving 78,000 women over a long period of time, researchers eventually stopped performing bimanual pelvic exams five years into the study for precisely this reason.

  • In eight surveys involving 4,567 women, participants reported feeling pain or discomfort during the pelvic exam (results ranged from 11 percent to 60 percent).

  • In seven studies involving 10,702 women, participants reported feeling fear, embarrassment or anxiety (results ranged from 10 percent to 80 percent).

  • Five studies found that women who felt pain and discomfort during the exam were less likely to return to the doctor for a follow up visit.

  • There's a dearth of studies on the subject of unnecessary surgeries, except one that indirectly showed pelvic exams led to 1.5 percent of women having unnecessary surgery (29 out of 2,000 people).

  • Several studies found that women who had experienced sexual violence in the past also reported feeling fear, anxiety, embarrassment, pain and discomfort during a pelvic exam at higher numbers compared with women who weren't victims of abuse.

In an editorial that accompanied the recommendation, Dr. George F. Sawaya and Dr. Vanessa Jacoby of UC San Francisco wrote that the exam has evolved from evidence-based practice into an unquestioned "ritual" that may in fact harm women more than help them. The harms range from mere discomfort to all the way to unnecessary surgery for otherwise benign growths.

While it's unclear how many undergo an unnecessary surgery, the New York Times reported in 2013 that U.S. rates of ovarian cystectomy and hysterectomy are more than twice as high as some European countries -- perhaps because other countries only perform the bimanual exam on women with other symptoms.

Even if the ACP's recommendation doesn't result in systemic change for gynecologists across the U.S., it should challenge proponents of the exam to come up with clear reasons to continue conducting them, Sawaya and Jacoby wrote.

"The pelvic examination has held a prominent place in women’s health for many decades and has come to be more of a ritual than an evidence-based practice," they wrote. "With the current state of evidence, clinicians who continue to offer the examination should at least be cognizant about the uncertainty of its benefits and its potential to cause harm through false-positive testing and the cascade of events it prompts."

Dr. Ranit Mashori, an associate professor of family medicine at Georgetown School of Medicine and a practicing family physician, was not involved with the ACP's decision, but praised its recommendation and said it was long overdue.

"Many of us, myself included, have already stopped doing these pelvic exams," Mashori told HuffPost. "It's going to make some waves, which is a good thing, but I think it's important as part of a general trend to question rituals that may not have much value."

Other rituals that need to be questioned: the general annual physical itself, according to Mashori. Studies have shown that the appointments may not have much value, especially for people with no symptoms or high risks.

"Years ago, when I went to med school, we were taught the pelvic exam screened for STDS, but we now know we can screen for those things with a urine test," Mashori said. "We once thought a pelvic exam was needed before prescribing birth control, but now we know it's completely unnecessary."

"We need to recognize that a lot of things we do during the annual physical is irrelevant," Mashori added. "Talking reproductive health, there should be a cervical screening every three to give years, and that's it -- nothing else," she concluded.

Instead of taking time for the bimanual exams, gynecologists and primary care physicians would do well to devote two-thirds or even three-quarters of the annual visit to simple conversation, Cooke recommended.

"The visit should spend a significant amount of time making sure our patient isn't smoking or drinking too much," said Cooke. "Does she feel safe in her community, her home and her relationship? Just really connect with that patient as a person." Lifestyle screening, which includes questions about mental health, are much more likely to benefit women more than the bimanual exam, said Cooke.

But of course, just because doctors should do away with bimanual screening for most asymptomatic patients, some women may still have to take their panties off -- even if they fit the bill. Pap smears are still effective parts of the preventive exam for women ages 21 to 65, said Cooke, although the test doesn't need to be done every year.

Cooke anticipates at least some blowback about the ACP's recommendation; for instance, some doctors have expressed fear that patients won't come in for exams at all. She also brought up the possibility that patients might suspect their doctor is short-changing them a bimanual exam on the directive of an insurance company. That's why the ACP wants to get the word out about the recommendation not just to physicians, but to patients, too.

Did May's Unemployment Rate Drop in your County?

Tue, 2014-07-01 07:59

How's the job outlook in your city or county?

For residents in all but three of Illinois' 102 counties, the unemployment rate fell in May.

The preliminary data, which was released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Illinois Department of Employment Security last week, is not seasonally adjusted and compares the current month with the same month of the previous year -- in this case, May 2014 to May 2013.

Here's a breakdown by county, city and metropolitan statistical areas of Illinois. See which cities have the lowest unemployment rate and vice versa. You can also check out a complete map of each county's jobless situation.

After looking at these metro/local numbers, you may be confused considering Illinois' unemployment rate is three percentage points lower than the preliminary, statewide data released a week prior. To understand why and how we get two different stories each month, director of research at Truth in Accounting Bill Bergman has more.

Rare Bill Murray Footage Proves He Was Born To Play Nick The Lounge Singer

Mon, 2014-06-30 16:05
Though Nick the lounge singer was one of actor Bill Murray's signature recurring characters from his stint at "Saturday Night Live," the role did not actually originate on the sketch comedy TV show.

Rather, Murray polished his lounge lizard act on the stage at Second City in Chicago, where the Wilmette, Illinois native got his start in comedy in 1973 before moving to New York City the following year. He didn't debut on "SNL" until 1977.

In a rare vintage clip posted by the Media Burn Archive earlier this year, a young mustachioed Murray can be seen singing "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" at 13:07 in the above video, taken from a local TV news broadcast.

Clearly, the role felt like a natural one for the musically-inclined Murray. One of his most well-known performances as Nick was his take on the "Star Wars" theme. In another incredible sketch, his drawn-out "Stairway To Heaven" became a instant fan favorite.

The real-life Chicago lounge singer who inspired Murray's act, Jimmy Damon, died last year at the age of 75.

(h/t Chicagoist)

Chicago's Manufacturing Institute and Benefit Corporations: Aligning Stakeholder Interests

Mon, 2014-06-30 14:26
Chicago's digital manufacturing institute overseen by the Defense Department aims to build the next gen factory for U.S. manufacturing. The idea behind these national manufacturing institutes is to aggregate money and resources to shorten the time and cost to bring advanced research to market, thereby gaining competitive advantage. Modeled after a German research network, Chicago's public-private endeavor outraised the other three U.S. manufacturing institutes and has access to a super-computer to run prototypes and simulations at speeds and in numbers not previously possible for participants. Four more manufacturing competitions are underway, and legislative support is sought for a nationwide network of at least 15 more.

Chicago's institute is about integrating the supply chain -- having the right data in the right place at the right time, to make the right part in the right place, and doing it all for less. This means asking participants to align stakeholder interests for common economic good. That falls in the wheelhouse of benefit corporations and offers opportunities for collaboration.

Benefit corporations are not commonly thought of as building blocks for the for-profit sector. To the extent they are known, they often are associated with non-profit or low-profit social enterprises providing products or services to impoverished communities. Chicago has its share of such needs, and benefit corporations can elect this type of public benefit purpose.

But benefit corporations' role as building blocks for the new economy has greater significance in this author's opinion. Their public benefit purposes can focus on high-tech innovation for common economic good in the broader community -- the goal of Chicago's manufacturing institute. Delaware, for example, which is the home of American corporate law, authorizes benefit corporations of an economic, educational, environmental, medical, scientific or technological nature (among other categories).

Let's be very clear that benefit corporations -- regardless of the community they serve -- are for-profit entities, with the rigor that involves. They embody accepted business principles and are taxed the same as traditional corporations. They are responsible, sustainable and have a positive impact on society. They aim to build better businesses that generate common good -- something that should garner broad support in the wake of the recession. In fact, benefit corporations have elicited largely bipartisan support in the 23 states, including Delaware and Illinois, and the District of Columbia, which have adopted authorizing statutes.

The primary difference between benefit corporations and traditional corporations goes back to aligning stakeholder interests, the digital institute's core challenge. Benefit corp directors can consider stakeholder interests in addition to those of shareholders. Directors are legally protected from lawsuits by third parties who might otherwise consider themselves beneficiaries of the business's public purposes -- leaving it to owners to insure the business stays true to mission.

Participants do come to the table in Chicago incentivized by defense budget initiatives to both achieve savings and transition from ground wars to cyber threats. But they have countervailing concerns arising from genuine business issues such as liability or intellectual property, or, more simply, inertia. Media reports participants like Boeing struggling with supply chain issues and being criticized when they try to reach agreements with suppliers to lower costs. Yet there also are positive stories about Boeing's partnering with a Seattle nonprofit to manufacture aircraft parts using hard-to-place workers, so obstacles are not insurmountable.

The value of including benefit corporations in the innovation mix is that they have what participants in the digital institute are looking for: they come to the table predisposed by structure and MO to integrate innovation and stakeholder interests for the common good. Benefit corps can brainstorm operational experiences and partner with lab participants to meet supply chain needs.

The Midwest already has benefit corporations operating at this level. Solberg Manufacturing, Inc., for example, was one of Illinois' first statutory benefit corporations and already works with Rolls-Royce. Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Itasca, Solberg has developed a global presence in standard and custom filtration, separation, and silencing products that protect machinery, the environment and the workplace. It prides itself on state-of-the-art facilities, excellent customer service, innovation and sustainable responsibility. No Solberg employees lost jobs during the recession.

Benefit corporations hold lessons for participants in Chicago's initiative, and contributing to such innovation projects can move the conversation about them to a new level.

SCOTUS Ruling Doesn't Gut Public Unions, But Creates New Challenges for Care Workers

Mon, 2014-06-30 13:40

A huge sigh of relief mixed with curses. That's my reaction to the Supreme Court's decision today to block home care workers in Illinois from being required to pay union dues, while continuing to allow public employee unions to collect dues from all the workers they represent. The decision in Harris v. Quinn blocks the right-wing assault against one of the most important pillars of progressive infrastructure, public employee unions, but will add to the challenge of raising wages and benefits in the surging low-wage workforce.

First, some background on the case: As part of the right's ongoing attack on working people, a right-wing legal group recruited a handful of home care workers in Illinois to challenge the state's requirement that the workers pay union dues. The workers are employed by individual patients but are funded by Medicaid.

Having unions, in this case SEIU, represent home care workers is part of an admirable strategy to extend collective bargaining to workers who are publicly funded even if they do not work directly for the government. Since federal law does not provide collective bargaining rights to either public employees or domestic home care workers, using state law to organize these workers, who typically receive low pay with no benefits, is vitally important to their own well-being and to building a middle-class-driven economy.

The National Right to Work Foundation's attorney argued, as Lyle Denniston explains at SCOTUSblog, that "anything a public employee union does is an attempt to shape matters of 'public concern,' and it should not be able to compel support -- even for part of the monthly dues -- from workers who oppose the union's public policy ambitions."

If the Court had followed that logic, it would have reversed its own precedent, set in the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education decision, which held that public employees could be required to pay dues for collective bargaining but not for purely political purposes. Fortunately, the Court didn't go there today, which means that states and localities, which have the power to regulate public employee unions, will continue to be able to require that all employees who work directly for the government pay dues to the union that represents them. While this should have been a no-brainer given the Court's precedent, it is a huge relief and enormously important to preserving the ability of public employees to organize together for decent wages and benefits. And it is clear defeat for the right's campaign to eviscerate one of the most important progressive institutions.

Instead, the Court's decision today focused on whether home care workers are fully public employees. In a 5-4 ruling written by Justice Samuel Alito, it decided that these workers are only partial-public employees and so cannot be required to pay dues to a union that represents them. The ruling will make it much more difficult to organize the growing number of low-wage workers who care for the elderly and disabled through home care and for young children through child care.

Home care and child care workers get paid very little, have few benefits, and make up a big chunk of the surge in low-wage jobs that defines today's economy. But it is a huge challenge to organize workers who are directly employed by individuals. The answer has been to take advantage of the fact that the public is paying for a big chunk of their earnings by treating them as public employees, as Illinois Governor Pat Quinn did in the Harris v. Quinn case. The Court's rejection of this approach creates new roadblocks to home care and child care workers who are attempting to organize unions capable of bargaining for better pay and higher quality jobs.

The solution may to be to have the public take over home care and child care. If public agencies employed these caregivers, financed as they are now by a combination of public funds and sliding-fee payments by the individuals who use their services, these workers would be full-fledged public employees. This strategy will require a major change in the organization of care, but should be tested where there are progressive local and state governments. Its success would be a deliciously ironic turn against the right's campaign to shrink government, and a big step toward creating a good-jobs economy to power an America that works for all of us.

Cross-posted from Next New Deal

Oh My Morty, There's Going To Be A 'First Wives Club' Musical

Mon, 2014-06-30 13:02
NEW YORK (AP) — Revenge will be in the air in a few years when a musical version of "The First Wives Club" comes calling on Broadway.

The comedy about a trio of vengeful ex-spouses has been revamped and rewritten for the stage by Emmy Award-nominee Linda Bloodworth Thomason, the writer and producer of such TV shows as "Designing Women" and "Evening Shade." The musical will make its debut at Chicago's Oriental Theater next spring, with hopes it can come to Broadway in the 2015-2016 season.

The 1996 film "The First Wives Club," starring Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton, was based on Olivia Goldsmith's novel about three women who are dumped by their powerful husbands for slim, young trophy wives. The first wives band together and take back their lives in style.

"One of the reasons I agreed to do it was the feisty feminist, 'Designing Women' side that Olivier created with her book," said Bloodworth Thomason. "It was the same DNA as 'Designing Women.'"

The story was first made into a musical with a story by Rupert Holmes that debuted in 2009 at the Old Globe in San Diego, but never made the expected jump to Broadway. It will now, thanks to Bloodworth Thomason, who produced the film "The Man From Hope," a campaign biography of Bill Clinton, and directed the new documentary "Bridegroom."

Bloodworth Thomason said she was given the freedom to rip up the old script and write her own. "They said, 'Write whatever you want.' So I've just had a ball,' she said. "You're going to hear a lot of different dialogue, and there will be some new characters in it. It's a whole new ballgame."

The director will be Simon Phillips (who helmed "Love Never Dies" and "Priscilla Queen of the Desert") and the songs — both original music and classics — will be supplied by Motown legends Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian Holland and Eddie Holland, who are behind such hits as "Stop in the Name of Love" and "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)."

"It just turned out to be a big, lovely valentine that was laid in my lap," said Bloodworth Thomason, who will be making her Broadway debut as a book writer. But like most of her projects, "The First Wives Club" will be about more than humor. "I so wanted an opportunity to do a show that stands as an antidote to the Kardashian culture. I like to say about this that we're promoting big mouths instead of big asses."

The new musical is only one of two new projects Bloodworth Thomason hopes to bring to Broadway. She and producer Elizabeth Williams, who also is steering "The First Wives Club," are working on another show but won't reveal many details. She said she's not afraid of failure.

"Listen, I'm perfectly aware of the concept of falling on your face. I've done it on many occasions. That doesn't scare me because I'll just get back up and start over," Bloodworth Thomason said. "I'm still a novice, so we'll see what happens. It's a tough place to go but I'm anxious to get there."


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