Quick Hits – December 12, 2018

Before you read the next two pieces, please keep in mind that I am, and always have been a social liberal. But unlike my conservative counterparts, I understand that affiliation gives me specific license to call out my own ilk whenever they misbehave. And let me tell you, a whole lot of liberals are gonna get a stocking full of coal this Christmas.

Please consider that vast Trumpian irony!


Baby it’s dumb outside

Just when I thought the rightwingnuts had the 2018 Snowflake Outrage Award trophy all sewn up, with just 20 days to go, liberals swooped in and took it right back.

If you recall, in late November, I presented conservatives with that not-so-highly-coveted award after they came down with a collective case of the vapors over Democratic Illinois State Rep Stephanie Kifowit’s poor choice of a metaphor.

They somehow seem to miss the fact that the President makes similarly silly statements on a daily basis.

But liberals just couldn’t be happy with their good fortune and let it go, could they? Nope! They had to prove they’re even worse that those tea partiers by going after my favorite classic holiday song, ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside.’

Baby it's cold outside

Referring to it as the ‘Christmas date rape song,’ progressive Ohio women everywhere insisted that Cleveland’s WDOK forever relegate that scurrilous song to history’s dust bin. And the station caved faster than Michael Cohen might melt in front a grand jury.

Of course, that chicken bleep PC move incited a slew of other stations to hop on the banning bandwagon, because none of us can thing for ourselves anymore.

Liberals! What have I told you about trying to apply a 2018 morality to a 1944 song? Just like trying to objectively view Christopher Columbus through today’s eyes, it can’t be done. All that song does is capture 40’s flirting when young women were expected to issue the appropriate protests before giving in to young men.

“But maybe just a half a drink more,” “At least I’m gonna say that I tried,” and “But maybe just a cigarette more?” Clearly, our charming young woman is interested in our dashing young man, if for no other reason than she stopped by his apartment on a rather cold and snowy winter’s eve.

Some leftwingnuts tried to say she’d been attending a party hosted by her impending paramour, but that’s only because they refuse to acknowledge her complicity in the mutual seduction. There is absolutely no mention of a soiree anywhere to be found in those suddenly-infamous lyrics.

“But Jeff! What about that salacious, ‘Say, what’s in this drink?’ line? That’s clearly a Cosby reference!”

While Bill Cosby was certainly alive back then, he was but a scant seven-year-old boy who could only dream of drugging and raping women.

The truth is, “What’s in this drink” was the 40s equivalent of “hold my beer.” It’s something you said when you were about to engage in an act for which you wanted to minimize the social and moral consequences.

And as is always the case when the left or the right self-righteously gets something banned, it incites a more than equal and opposite reaction. Renewed interest in the song has sent sales soaring and requests for radio airplay have skyrocketed! Why, the listener outcry was so fierce that every single silly station that banned it brought it back.

Prohibition always works so well, doesn’t it?

Ain’t it funny, and deliciously ironic, that these same liberal women have no problem with the 1953 classic, ‘Santa Baby,’ in which a sultry young woman purrs about all the magnificent gifts her menagerie of suitors are about to rain down on her.

And c’mon! What do y’all think “Hurry down the chimney tonight” really means?


PETA strikes again!

People for Eating Tasty Animals…I mean People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals could’ve been in the running for this year’s Snowflake Outrage Trophy award, but those cow huggers always seem to make some sort of silly holiday statement just to get their name back in the news.

And if you mean to do it, it doesn’t count. Remember when they tried to get the town of Turkey, Texas, to change their name to Tofurky, Texas?

Image result for peta biker gangs

This time, they’re trying to tell the rest of us sane folks that old saws like “bringing home the bacon,” “taking the bull by the horns,” and “being the Guinea pig” are just as bad as any homophobic or racist rant.

“Just as it became unacceptable to use racist, homophobic, or ableist language, phrases that trivialize cruelty to animals will vanish as more people begin to appreciate animals for who they are and start ‘bringing home the bagels’ instead of the bacon,” PETA somehow Tweeted with a straight face.

Please give me a minute so I can finally stop laughing and pry myself up off my home-office floor.

I know we’re going long here, but I figured I could kill two birds with one stone by covering both stories. Now, while a bird in the hand is certainly better, after running around like a chicken with its head cut off, I finally got my ducks in a row, though getting to the column finish line can be a lot like herding cats.

Since I’m no deer in the headlights, despite being busy as a beaver, I stopped chasing my tail long enough to address the fact that PETA is just another batshit crazy liberal group, which makes going after them somewhat akin to shooting fish in a barrel.

But apparently, these birds of feather flocking together makes them sitting ducks for the kind of satirical response that means I’d never look this gift horse in the mouth. I don’t understand why PETA let this cat out of the bag because it only makes them seem pig-headed and that really gets my goat.

They really oughtta let sleeping dogs lie.

Trust me, I won’t count my chickens, but like lambs to the slaughter, I always appreciate how PETA goes whole hog into this kind of absurdity just like a bat out of hell. In fact, I’ve been trying to tell them to stop putting the cart before the horse, but my wisdom always seems to fall like pearls before swine.

Apparently, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

I realize PETA has long-since jumped the shark and they won’t change their leopard-like spots even if hell gets cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, so why beat a dead horse?

You seriously can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a liberal with too much time on their hands and too many bats in their belfry these days.

Quick Hit’s – Final thoughts on the Geneva teacher’s strike

Let’s get right to it.

1. The strike is almost certainly over

The Geneva Education Association and the School Board came to a tentative agreement at 3:32 a.m. this morning (12/10). Given that very late hour, there wasn’t enough time to get the back-to-school word out, so no classes today and the terms of the deal will be released later today.

The Union rank and file will vote on that contract this afternoon, but for reasons we’re about to discuss, ratification is all but a foregone conclusion.

Strike Over

2. The Union had to settle now!

As most of you already know, I predicted a minimum two-week strike, and I leaned towards it lasting a full month. But the second that unconscionable Remind Me text went out to high school students, the strike was over.

That failed tactic forced the GEA to quickly settle because whatever minimal public support the teachers previously enjoyed was now eroding by the second. And there was no coming back from that horrific error, either. The longer that anti-text sentiment simmered, the worse it would get for the union.

3. Most big lottery winners wind up regretting it

I’m not saying the GEA won the lottery today, though the Board’s most recent offer was beyond generous. But the clearest indication that money never solves the obvious underlying problems is that 70 percent of big lottery winners go broke within just seven years.

Not only that, but a recent Time article exposed how lottery winner after lottery winner came to wish they’d ripped up that fateful ticket.

As that great philosopher Cindy Lauper once intoned, “Money changes everything!” And it really does, not the least of which will be the relationship between the teachers, school parents, and the public.

If that dynamic ever fully recovers, and I doubt it will, it will take at least full decade to do so.

4. The shift will be subtle, but the fallout will be real

It’s not like Genevans will suddenly start pulling up to GHS shouting “teachers suck!” It’ll be something much subtler like the underlying animosity that tends to be a consequence of a local political campaign that went far too negative.

Parents will be less likely to volunteer, less likely to support their schools, less likely to attend school and sporting events, and those typically warm neighborhood encounters between teachers and parents will be far more perfunctory.

I’m hoping it won’t be the case here, but the wounds from those overly negative political battles always seem to fester and rarely heal.

5. Geneva will never be the same

Perhaps that’s a good thing! The fact that so many of my hometown compatriots believe “everything is awesome in Geneva” when it clearly isn’t, has always bothered me. It’s not that I harbor any great need to expose the “truth” – beyond the folks in charge – but I know that the longer a façade exists, just like it is with a dysfunctional family, the bigger the mess when it finally comes crashing down.

We’re no better than anyone else people, and the behavior of some strike impassioned folks demonstrated just that.

6. Leave School Board members’ children out of it!

This bothers me exponentially more than any Remind Me text blast. When I heard board members’ children were being attacked on Instagram and other social media simply for whom their parents are, it infuriated me.

I would encourage our teachers and their more zealous supporters to watch what they say in front of their children and monitor their children’s social media if they aren’t already doing so.

I want to thank the people who reached out with what’s been happening to Mike McCormick’s family, and I would encourage anyone else with that kind of information to contact me via Facebook PM or email.

With the appropriate evidence in hand, I will be happy to publicly expose the perpetrators for who they really are.

7. I couldn’t possibly be more disappointed in GEA head Kevin Gannon

Let’s add it all up, from:

  • A strike was utterly unnecessary
  • Inciting an absurd level of hostilities
  • Beyond ridiculous “Christmas carols”
  • Virtually tying Donald Trump for the number of lies in a week
  • Baseless attempts at intimidation
  • Smirking for the TV cameras
  • Creating a consistently moving negotiation target
  • Consistently negotiating in bad faith
  • Sending that absurd text

It was always all about him and never about the teachers, students, parents, or citizens of Geneva. The amount of havoc one egotistical and self-serving human being can wreak still amazes me.

And by the way, Mr. Gannon’s and Geneva teachers’ children are off-limits, too.


Since I’m sure you’re every bit as tired of this topic as I am, barring any new major developments, let’s all move on to bigger and better things.

Quick Hits – It’s a mistake?

Oh! It was a mistake alright.

As I previously explained in my ongoing coverage of the Geneva Teachers’ strike, were I the school board president, given their propensity to shoot themselves in various body parts, I’d simply sit back and wait for the Geneva Education Association to hang themselves.

And they just did just that!

I’ve tried to tell the union that, not only have they vastly overestimated public support for their cause, but 85 percent of Genevans actually support the School Board. The irony, of course, is that our teachers had to learn this the hard way.

And they just did just that!

For reasons beyond any normal mortal’s comprehension, the union and teachers decided it was a good idea to use the Remind Me cell phone app, to solicit their students to sign a pro-GEA petition to prove just how heinous the Geneva School Board really is.

GEA Text

And the bovine excrement immediately hit the rotating air propulsion device.

For the uninitiated, school counselors generally use the Remind Me app to text blast high school students about upcoming and impending school events. Only app administrators can send those broadcast texts, and there is a separate Remind Me “group” for each high school class – freshman, sophomores, etc.

Some parents told me their middle schoolers also received emails from teachers, too, but I haven’t been able to pin that one down quite yet.

But let me tell you, in my 4,852 days and 15.25 hours at this gig, I’ve never had so many peeved people bombard me with emails, texts, blog comments, and Facebook PMs and comments on any previous story. And every last one of those missives excoriated the union and the teachers for this beyond despicable tactic.

Pride goeth before the fall, right?

I’ll say it again! When it comes to any kind of political pitched battle, from an election to a strike, the vast majority “voters” will simply tell you want you want to hear because they have better things to do than to argue with you. Please don’t mistake trying to stay on your good side for support.

And, as perfectly exemplified by that errant text, the union and teachers keep mistaking fear for support. Aggravate a teacher – and especially this batch of spiteful teachers – and your children might not fare so well in D304 going forward.

You think I’m making this bleep up? Ask board member Mike McCormick what his children have had to endure on Instagram from teachers’ children and those of their utterly overzealous supporters. Apparently even children aren’t off-limits when it comes to the GEA getting the kind of raises most of us will never see in our lifetime.

I’ll be getting into this complete moral failure on Monday or Wednesday. And Mike was not the one who told me about this, but four other sources did.

Oddly enough, the first person to apologize for the sign-the-petition text was GHS Principal Tom Rogers who had absolutely nothing to do with it. Again, the Remind Me app sits on cell phones, not on some high school counselor’s computer behind locked and closed doors.

Finally faced with an onslaught of suddenly fearless parents – don’t mess with their kids – the GEA recoiled from that text debacle faster than Michael Cohen from Agent Orange.

GEA union head Kevin Gannon, a real piece of work who’s made these contract negotiations all about him, quickly issued a statement calling the text a “mistake.” Oh! It was a mistake alright, but it wasn’t an accident.

Leaving the toilet seat up in the middle of the night such that your lovely spouse falls in is a mistake. Leaving the garage door up is a mistake. Voting for Donald Trump was a mistake. But unless a number of counselors and teachers own the kind of talented cat that could figure out how to send that text, it was utterly intentional.

And we know it was intentional because soon after Gannon’s artificial mea culpa, those same counselors and teachers issued yet another Remind Me text apologizing for using that medium to recruit underage petition signers.

GEA Text 2

But the damage has already been done. And those D304 teachers are finally beginning to understand that rejecting our reality and substituting their own is the kind of thing for which they’d regularly call out their young charges.

The truth is, I’ve never been impressed with most Geneva teachers and I wrote a column about it the week after my youngest son matriculated out of the district. And I always appreciate it when people go out of their way to prove my point.

Thank you Geneva teachers!

Meanwhile, I’ve been privately emailing the board with my thoughts on how to deal with these negotiations because I didn’t want to further inflame all of the obvious tensions. But after that Remind Me text, I’m no longer feeling quite so magnanimous.

Geneva School Board! You have bent over backward to resolve this labor issue, but you’re being held hostage by a bunch of overentitled and sometimes overrated educators who have no problem stooping to using and abusing children to get their way. Even my D131 teacher wife thinks your latest offer is beyond generous.

It’s time to look those often contemptible union reps directly in the eye and say, “This is our final offer. Come back to work when you’re ready.”

Quick Hits – So, The Elgin clergy casts the first stone?

Before last Wednesday’s (11/28) city council meeting, I was beyond impressed with my beloved Elginians’ capacity for patience and tolerance in regard to the DeCynthia Clements shooting. The fact that lady justice is blind can, on occasion, hamper her mobility in certain regards.

The original plan was to write something about that gathering, but then I decided the folks who tried to co-opt it were a vast minority who weren’t speaking for the entire city. As my always fascinating mother used to say, “Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor.”

But now I’m regretting that decision. I should’ve known that all it takes is one simple rumor to bring out the pitchfork and torch bearing crowd, and then all bets are off. So, when some Elgin clergymen jumped on that gossip bandwagon, I finally realized it was time to talk about it.

Somehow, those pastors decided that Police Chief Ana Lalley told them she was bringing officer Chris Jensen back before the Cook County State’s Attorney review of the shooting was complete. Of course, Jensen is the officer who fired the shots that killed Clements.

Elgin Clergy

Since they weren’t concerned with the truth, these men and women of the cloth incited some of their very vocal posse – white, black and Hispanic – to show up on the 28th to demand Jensen not be brought back for any reason whatsoever.

As the late, great philosopher Tom Petty said, when it comes to rumors, people generally “believe what they wanna believe.”

To be fair, most of the folks who spoke at that meeting were civil but misguided. But others decided that acting like a spoiled four-year-old brat was the way to go. A piece of advice to those who threatened to bring Ferguson, Missouri, or Baltimore down on Elgin; throwing a temper tantrum in front of a governing body typically won’t get you what you want.

Not to be outdone, Councilman Terry Gavin, who either had too much to drink before the meeting (again), or he simply couldn’t control himself (again), was the biggest four-year-old of the bunch. Mr. Gavin! What was the point of getting into it with a constituent who was clearly beyond reason, other than trying to prove you were even worse than he was? If that was the case, you succeeded magnificently.

And shame on the white folks who used one unfortunate personal experience to damn the entire Elgin Police Department. Despite my infamous battles with law enforcement, I’ve never lost sight of the fact that 90 percent of police officers do their job and simply go home to their families just like the rest of us.

Having reviewed that council meeting tape, I called Mayor Dave Kaptain and Chief Lalley to ask them if the City had, indeed, reversed their decision on Jensen’s disposition. They assured me that nothing had changed. In fact, the Chief reiterated her statement that they will wait until the State’s Attorney review is complete before they make any decision.

It took all of 15 minutes to get the truth.

And I should’ve written about it then, but I didn’t want to fan the flames of an already smoldering fire. But when a group of 19 clergyman presented Elgin with a letter demanding Jensen not be reinstated under any circumstances, I suddenly remembered that fires rarely go out on their own.

The pastors based their premise on “ethical, moral, and wisdom informed reasons.” Really? I think they based it purely on emotion. There’s certainly nothing ethical about their letter, I’m surprised they could even spell the word “moral,” and wisdom had nothing to do with it, either.

The unfathomable irony of their demand is these are the very same clergymen who consistently claim Ms. Clements’ civil rights were violated, but they apparently believe the only way to resolve that issue is by stripping officer Jensen of his.

I have never been more disappointed in a group of pastors in my life. Every last one of them should resign immediately because they have no idea what it means to be a Christian, much less lead a group of them. So much for adhering to the standard when it really matters. Exactly when did pandering to your congregation become more important than the Bible?

There are 30 hours of body and dash cam footage of that I-90 stop. But most of y’all have only watched eight seconds. Am I disturbed by the ending? You bet I am! In my 60 years I’ve never watched someone get shot and killed. And I wish I never had, because I’m still having nightmares about it.

I can’t get that image out of my head and I probably never will.

But I’ve also watched the entire I-90 segment and what I saw were eminently calm and patient police officers providing Ms. Clements with every opportunity to end the standoff. But let’s say the officers were all wound up and completely unreasonable. That wouldn’t change a damn thing. The City of Elgin still has to follow the rules.

Could they throw Jensen to the wolves and prematurely fire him? Sure they could! But how did terminating officer Jason Lentz for his fascinating social media commentary on Ferguson work out for the city? That’s right! He’s back on the job because a judge said Elgin didn’t follow the rules.

First, Chris Jensen is innocent of any wrongdoing until proven otherwise, and the process to determine that is ongoing. Second, the State of Illinois has a series of explicit statutes which apply to public employees. And third, Elgin has a contract with their police officers’ union that stipulates the specific steps that must be taken in cases like this one.

And nothing is going to change any of that, least of all city council screamers or an overzealous group of Elgin clergyman who clearly forgot to read Matthew 7:1-3 and completely missed Matthew 22:39-40 – if they even read their Bibles at all. That’s the King James version by the way.

If I’m not mistaken, that same book contains a caveat against casting the first stone. And make no mistake, this is nothing more than a public stoning of an officer who deserves the very same due process Ms. Clements did.

Shame on every last one of you!

Quick Hits – (Almost) Everything you need to know about the Geneva teachers’ strike

I have to say it’s been more than a wee bit eerie walking the dogs around that Fisher Farms FAA beacon the last two mornings. Nobody’s heading to the high school and the onslaught of Heartland Elementary School students is conspicuously absent.

Teachers Strike 2

Normally, I crave peace and quiet, but not in this case. Nobody wins when teachers go on strike.

Meanwhile, a number of readers have posed some excellent public and private questions about what the strike means for a number of possibilities going forward. So, I spoke with the D304 in this regard and here are those answers:

1. Do teachers get paid during the strike?

No. Not by the district and not by the PTO as one reader stipulated. The Geneva Education Association (the teacher’s union) may have accumulated some sort of strike fund, and nothing prohibits an ordinary citizen from holding a fundraiser, but when you’re talking about 450 Geneva teachers, those efforts won’t come close to matching their salaries.

2. Do support staff get paid during a strike?

Yes! If they show up for work, they will be reassigned to other duties and they will be paid.

Crossing guards, who are hired by the Geneva Police Department, will not be paid, because their salary is contingent on school being in session. And though I haven’t been able to get a specific answer on school bus drivers, I suspect the same goes for them.

3. Do teachers get insurance during the strike?

Yes! But the district is only obligated to maintain it only for the first month of the strike. Those premiums are generally paid on the first of the month, and since the teachers walked out the 4th, they will be insured through December 31.

That’s why most public sector strikes tend to start early in the given month.

But if the strike goes beyond December, as will likely be the case, the School Board can, and will likely, stop paying those premiums on January 1st.

As the Teamsters did on behalf of the striking Kane County probation workers last summer, the union can step in and pay the freight themselves, but that only happens when a union with deep pockets is particularly aggravated with “management.” It’s very unlikely to occur in this strike.

4. What about makeup days?

If the strike is a short one, D304 will simply make up the missed classes just as they would with snow days – at the end of the second semester. They could also cancel spring break as well. But if the strike lingers for more than two weeks, they’ll have to either tack all those days on at the end of the school year, or ask Illinois lawmakers for a waiver, but that’s a very unlikely possibility.

5. Sports and extracurricular activities

They are and will be cancelled for the duration of the strike, and any scheduled games will be forfeited. The various teams can get together and practice on their own, but that’s about it.

I’m sure I’m not nearly the only Genevan saddened at the prospect of not being able to follow the Geneva High School boys and girls basketball teams during the strike. Both were off to a very good start.

6. Can I keep track of the Board’s and Union’s latest offers?

Kind of! You can find the School Boards website and their latest proposal here, but the Union has balked at posting their counteroffers.

7. Is the average Geneva teacher’s salary really $124,000 a year?

No! The artificial online newspaper, “The Kane County Reporter,” that printed that bilge is run by none other than Dan Proft, the former radio show host and rightwingnut that’s done more to damage the Illinois conservative cause than all the local GOP combined. They purposefully skewed the numbers by adding administrator’s salaries into the mix.

The truth is, the average Geneva educator’s salary is $69,684.

8. How long will this strike last?

Despite my strange semi-autistic brain’s capacity to process a large set of variables in background mode, this is a really tough one. Predicting contested election outcomes is hard enough.

According to a March, 2018 Education Weekly article, there are 3 to 13 teachers’ strike in the U.S. every year, and they generally last from one day to six weeks, with Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California leading the pack. But I could find no reliable strike length average.

So, I turned to some of my favorite former newspaper managing editors, but they were completely split on the prospect. The plurality said 10 days, but others vehemently disagreed with that statistic. So, I turned to some savvy non-D304 folks as well, and their theory was at least two weeks.

But I think it’s going to be at least a month and here’s why:

  • If 28 months of salary structure negotiations bore no fruit, two weeks won’t either. Talks are scheduled for this weekend, but it’s going to take more than one round to resolve this dispute.
  • I have reason to believe Monday evening’s final negotiating session ended somewhat acrimoniously, and that’s never a good sign.
  • With Christmas break rapidly approaching, the students would be out of school anyway.
  • It will take at least a month for the teachers to finally realize that public sentiment is not behind them.
  • The Board and GEA are “trying” to get together to talk, but the Board wants a new union proposal on the table first, the Union says the strike is their latest proposal, and they won’t provide a new one until the scheduled Sunday negotiation. And it you can’t come to terms on talks…
  • And I have good reason to believe the Board is united in this regard, so they will likely stand their ground.

But I have to say I’m not nearly as comfortable with this strike duration forecast as I was when I predicted the walkout, and the evidence can rapidly change in these very complicated cases.

Please also understand that I provide this journalistic service at no charge, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be happy to attempt to answer any strike questions you might have going forward. Meanwhile, I certainly hope the strike ends sooner than later, and this column helps Geneva parents plan for the near and summer future.

Quick Hits – Anatomy of a Strike – Part Four

I truly wish it hadn’t come to this, but as we previously forecasted, the longer the rift between the Geneva Teacher’s Union and the Board existed, the better the probability of a strike. And sure enough, the Geneva Education Association just served the Board with a notice of intent to strike starting on Tuesday, December 4.

Teachers Strike

They talked over the weekend and will continue that effort this evening, but if 28 months of deliberations failed to produce any kind of compromise, two scant days of negotiations are the very definition of “a drop in the bucket.” So, now the strike probability sits at 90 to 95 percent, and if it does happen, it won’t be resolved anytime soon.

Of course, a last-minute miracle could still save the teachers from themselves, but those types of happy endings are generally reserved for Hallmark Christmas movies.

Now that we’re at the point of no return, I will place this abject failure to bargain in good faith squarely at the feet of the Union and Geneva teachers. Here’s why:

1. It’s all about messaging

Much like political campaigns – and I’ve successfully managed more than my share – any public sector strike comes down to messaging. And it’s gotta be really good messaging because you’re asking taxpayers to dig a bit deeper to pay higher salaries.

And the GEA has done an horrific job of framing their message, which basically consists of, “We need more money.” Yikes! That will never resonate with the public because we all need more money right now. I’m wondering how many Geneva teachers read the Washington Post column in the Daily Herald this weekend? It noted that a surprising and growing number of U. S. workers are facing perpetually stagnant wages.

So, when a Geneva teacher with a 60 grand base salary writes that she and her fiancé have to take two summer jobs to make ends meet, my immediate reaction was, “Maybe you should spend a little less money.”

And I’m sure I’m not nearly the only Genevan to experience that reflexive response.

2. Propaganda and censorship are really bad ideas

We’ve covered this before. When the GEA, teachers, and their supporters posted semi-truths and outright falsehoods on various Facebook pages, and then they turned off the comments on those posts, that pretty much dissolved any sympathy I might have had for the GEA’s cause.

Then it got worse!

Those very same folks figured out that, if enough people complain about a post, Facebook has an algorithm that automatically deletes it. So, any statement that was the least bit anti-strike got removed faster than Jim Acosta from a Trump press conference.

My stuff stays up because I know how to circumvent that process. But that ridiculous censorship strategy accomplishes only two things. It aggravates the crap out of Genevans who want to be heard – and they immediately tell their friends. And it makes teachers believe they have far more public support than they actually do, which will ultimately backfire.

3. Then there’s the equivalency argument

Equivalency arguments are always a poor choice because they’re so easily refuted.

In the GEA’s latest online missive, they claim D304 must bring teachers’ salaries in line with neighboring districts. But all that does is give me license to say that Geneva should lower property taxes to come in line with neighboring municipalities – especially considering our amazing retail base.

And where do most of our property taxes go?

Despite those absurd bi-annual payments, Genevans wouldn’t notice a bit of difference if they moved to St. Charles, Batavia, South Elgin, North Aurora, Sugar Grove or a number of other Kane County cities.

4. Would we really lose teachers in the long run?

No! Despite the GEA’s contention to the contrary, if what they said were true, St. Peter – and all local parochial schools – wouldn’t be able to hire a single educator for the $10 to $20,000 less a year they pay than public schools do.

But they attract plenty of teachers who understand the tradeoff. They might make less at a Catholic school, but by virtue of parents paying tuition on top of property taxes, they know they’ll have far more support than their public school counterparts.

Correspondingly, since Geneva parents embrace education in general, we’re a sought-after school district despite the small salary differential. The truth is, most Geneva teachers wouldn’t last a week in East Aurora, the district where my wife teaches.

Put more simply, the benefits of teaching in Geneva go well beyond salary.

5. Public sentiment is NOT behind the GEA

This terrifying misconception lies at the at the heart of the impending strike. Through censorship and a core group of rabid supporters, the GEA has convinced the rank and file that Genevans are 100 percent behind them when nothing could be further from the truth.

We’ve already discussed how the censorship factor plays into that false reality, but that’s not nearly the worst of it.

Any campaign manager worth their salt implicitly understands this phenomenon. When a candidate knocks on a voter’s front door, they will tell them want they want to hear just to be polite, or to get rid of them as soon as possible.

Back when I worked for the Courier-News, a friend running for the 22nd State Senate District told me that every front door told him they hated the incumbent and they’d definitely vote for him. I tried to explain that, if he took their word for it and stopped effectively campaigning, he’d end up with just 33 percent of the vote.

The candidate laughed in my face.

But when he got only 34 percent of ballots cast, he called the next day to say I was the only one with the nerve to tell him the truth.

Geneva teachers! What the bleep do you think a Geneva homeowner is gonna do when approached by one of your compatriots asking to put a sign on their front lawn – especially if the house contains school-aged children?

Do you really think they’ll say “no” and risk the repercussions going forward? Please don’t mistake fear for support. And mistaking a very vocal minority of no more than 300 for the full backing of 22,000 Genevans would be an even bigger error in judgement.

I received a number of private messages and emails after parts one through three of this series, and they were virtually unanimous. “We want to see the teachers get something, but if they strike, all bets are off.”

Please consider that.

6. The union has negotiated in bad faith – not the board

We’ve previously covered this second most important factor in the negotiations breakdown.

When the union agreed to be part of a committee tasked with discussing the untenable teacher’s salary structure back in the 2015 contract, that presumed change. Why would anyone need to talk about something that’s going to stay the same?

But after 28 long months of talks, even after the School Board recently brought step and lane back into the equation, the Union immediately filed an intent to strike because they want it all to stay just the way it is!

And the GEA makes that very clear in their most recent online letter. That either belies an utter immaturity, or the union lied! They clearly had no intention of negotiating in good faith. If I were on the school board, you bet I’d dig in on this one.

8. Baseless attacks on the School Board

What really bothers me is how that vocal minority, the Union, and the hard-line teachers have insisted on denigrating the Board in public. On what planet does anyone think that makes a bad situation better?

I’m not saying the Board is perfect. Three of them have served way too long and couple of them have never impressed me. But I will say this iteration of the Geneva School Board has done a phenomenal job of balancing some almost impossibly conflicting interests.

And if you recall, four of them served during the Great Recession, when the Board insisted on honoring the current contract at a time when every other district was renegotiating teachers’ salaries downward.

So much for gratitude!


But as is so often the case these days, the hardliners have taken over the debate. I’ve heard that many D304 teachers believe the Union should’ve taken the Board’s last offer, so it will be interesting to see just how firm their resolve really is.

Meanwhile, if the Geneva School Board asked for my advice, here’s what I’d tell them. There are times when you have to let the other side hang themselves, and this is one of those times. Some lessons can only be learned the hard way.

When I was communications and messaging strategist for Richard Irvin’s Aurora mayoral campaign, it was difficult to convince him our best message was to let opposing candidate Linda Chapa LaVia simply talk.

I explained that her message was so bad, it was our best message. Since Richard is a very smart man, he agreed not to attack her, contradict her, or respond to her in any way. And Chapa LaVia, who thought she was a sure thing, didn’t even make it through the primary.

In that same vein, the only way Geneva teachers and their union are going to learn you have to negotiate in good faith, most teachers are happy with D304, and public sentiment is not on their side, is to hold your eminently reasonable ground and let them strike.

Not only will it force them back to reality, but they won’t recover from that absurdly bad decision for at least a decade, putting the Board at a huge contract negotiation advantage going forward.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 60 years on this planet, it’s that you can’t save people from themselves, so please don’t try!

Quick Hits – Elgin needs to work on conscious bias, too!

If, like me, you had the misfortune of reading the Daily Herald’s recent report on the status of Elgin’s diversity program and subsequent unconscious bias training, then, like me, you’re clearly more confused than ever.

How that reporter can so consistently get it wrong – right down to restaurant names – is beyond baffling. But I suppose we should give her credit for a unique kind of effort and consistency.

To fill in those background blanks, diversity consultant Denise Baretto, a real piece of work, engaged in the kind of inauspicious social media commentary that should’ve had her ass summarily canned. But since race relations is a touchy topic in The City in the Suburbs these days, her company remains employed.


To be more specific, one of Baretto’s utterly unconscionable posts read, “If white women tried as hard to eliminate white supremacy as they try to lose weight, white supremacy would be ended.” Because all white women are fat and oblivious, right? And suddenly we’re all white supremacists, too!

I’m thinking the term “white privilege” would have been a wee bit more appropriate.

Not one to rest on her social media laurels, Baretto added, “We interrupt our amazing #fashionweek to officially tell people mad about Kap, Nike etc. to fuck yourselves.”

Nice! I’m thinking Ms. Baretto is the perfect choice to write an updated edition of “How to Make Friends and Influence People.” “Kap,” of course, was shorthand for former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

In that same piece, Baretto told the Daily Herald that she’s “being more careful with swear words on social media.” Ya think? That certainly makes her a leading candidate for The First Ward’s annual “Keen Perception of the Obvious” award.

As to the white women post, Baretto added, “I understand that people were offended, and I get it, but calling out racism is not racism. They are not equivalent.” No, they’re not! Because what she said – as an Elgin diversity consultant – is exponentially worse. At least unconscious biases are just that, unconscious. But Ms. Baretto left no doubt as to whether she’s a conscious racist.

Since no one could possibly make heads or tails of that DH article, I had an enlightening conversation with Elgin Communications Specialist, Molly Center. She explained that one of Baretto’s associates was finishing up the unconscious bias training wrapping up on 12/10, and her company’s contract with the city expires on 12/31.

I asked Center whether Elgin would rehire Baretto and she said, “One of our goals is supplier diversity, so issuing an RFP is always a possibility when considering new contracts, but that would be a council decision.” That’s code for, no, they won’t be bringing her back.

Upon offering my theory that, since EPD officer Jason Lentz was fired for a much milder social media post, wasn’t Baretto’s continued employment a double standard, I didn’t get much of a response, which was probably the correct response.

Reading between the lines with a number of off-the-record Elgin insiders, it would seem that, in the era of the Cynthia DeClements shooting, high level administrators are particularly nervous about Traci Elli’s reaction to that kind of firing.

Of course, Traci Ellis is the former disgraced U-46 school board member, self-appointed spokesperson for black folks everywhere, fiction author, and the woman who compared the American flag to toilet paper. Ellis does have a small, but very vocal posse who did their damndest to commandeer Wednesday’s city council meeting over an utterly untrue rumor (we’ll discuss that on Monday).

So, while I was about to chide Elgin for their disturbing lack of cojones in this regard, as my crazy-ass mother liked to say, “Discretion is always the better part of valor.” Perhaps letting Baretto simply fade away is the wiser choice, after all.

Meanwhile, I’m going to, once again, call on my favorite Illinois City (please don’t tell Aurora) to drop this unconscious bias training bullshit once and for all. Even if done correctly, it only puts folks directly into a bunker mentality that destroys staff morale, and it only makes them further dig in.

Not to mention that, as this diversity training debacle clearly demonstrates, it only supplants one set of unconscious biases with another.