How Rahm Won And The Future Of Chicago

Next Week’s Topic in Public Square’s Cafe Society Discussions Focuses on the Chicago Mayoral race

Café Society will be meeting at the Valois (1518 East 53rd St, Chicago) from 7-8 pm and at Panera Bread (1126 E Walnut St, Carbondale) from 7:30-8:30 pm on Thursday, March 3 or have your own discussions using our Cafe Society DIY Toolkit

Rahm and Chicago

From “The role race played in Emanuel’s victory” by Angela Caputo

“For months, speculation has run high over how voters from communities of color would swing with Mayor Richard M. Daley sitting out the first mayoral election in more than two decades. Would a black consensus candidate peel away enough votes to push front runners Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico into a runoff? Would Latinos finally flex their political muscle at the ballot box? In the end, voters from both black and Latino wards threw more support behind the candidate that most resembled Daley — Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel — than any other candidate in the race, a Chicago Reporter analysis of preliminary election returns found.”

Questions for Consideration

How important were race-based voting blocks in this recent mayoral election? What is your vision for Chicago with Emanuel slated to be the next mayor? Why do you think most Chicago voters (more than 800,000 Chicagoans) stayed home rather than going to the polls? What can we do to better engage and mobilize the public for local elections? How will or won’t Emanuel’s mayorship mirror the statewide and national influence of the Daley administration?

Want to learn more?

Rahm Emanuel Wins
Rahm Won, But who has the Vision we Need?
More than 800,000 Chicagoans took a pass on this year’s historic election
Chicago, We’ve Only Just Begun
Chicago Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel Sweeps On Low Turnout

Café Society SCHEDULE

1st Thursdays

  • 7-8 p.m., Valois, 1518 E 53rd St, Chicago
  • 7:30-8:30 p.m., Panera Bread, 1126 E Walnut St, Carbondale

2nd Fridays

  • 5-6 p.m., Ron’s Barber Shop, 6058 W North Ave, Chicago

3rd Wednesdays

  • 1:00-2:00 p.m., Chicago Cultural Center’s Randolph Street Café, 77 E Randolph St,Chicago

4th Week

  • Roving Cafe Society, Location, date, and time to be announced.

If you need a sign interpreter or require other arrangements to fully participate, please call 312.422.5580. For parking locations near the facility, please visit Chicago Parking

Marc Sapir sent this report from Cleveland and the Mad As Hell Docs Care-a-Van

As you are reading this, the docs may well be trying to present their findings to white house politicians.  Whether they get to do this or not, they have shaken the country up a little bit.  And the report below, especially the conversation with Dennis Kucinich, is quite enlightening.

—2 a.m. September 23, Cleveland, OH: As the Mad as Hell Docs tour for single payer nears is destination (in Washington, DC), I again reflect on the journey.  In the past several days we’ve been as far south as Nashville and Louisville.  Then to back Zenia and Dayton, Detroit, Chicago, Toledo and now Cleveland. Tomorrow we’ll be off to Pittsburgh and then on to Frederick, Columbia and Silver Spings, MD on the last leg toward Lafayette Park across from the White House on September 30. This evening’s town hall style meeting organized by the local single payer network was presented at the Laborers’ Union Hall here in Cleveland before another enthusiastic crowd.  We were joined on our panel on stage by, as usual, a local activist doc; and rejoined by Katherine Ottoway the Oregon doc who had returned home last week to spend time with her 11 year old.  Bill Aikin, the Washinton state male nurse who joined us about 4 days ago gets one of the more rousing rounds of applause when he merely opens with “I’m a Mad as Hell nurse.” Tonight’s audience again included several other nurses, organizers, representatives of the National Nurses Organizing Committee (California Nurses Association) in their colorful garb. There was again a number of Congresspeople, aides, and state legislators in the audience (7 if I’ve remembered correctly). Also joining us is Bob Wickline from Oregon (and his wife Lynda) who sings and plays his high energy Single Payer country western electronically integrated single payer song. Staff has grown too as we’re joined by Bill Whitaker’s (our Mad as Hell Social Worker)wife Cheryl. Last night’s dinner was prepared (yes I do mean he alone cooked for about 20 people himself, including brownies for desert)Toledo physician activist John Ross, at his home. Earlier John had been a most compelling spokesperson for Single Payer at the town hall at the Union Hall in Toledo. Toledo has a strong single payer advocate for a Congressperson too. Leaving Toledo on Monday morning we travelled East along the shore of Lake Erie to an outdoor presentation in the park at Clinton Habor to 75 local folks who had prepared a brunch for us (passing within 100 feet or so of a nuclear power plant on the lake shore that is within sight of Clinton Harbor). At this venue the organizer/mc, a woman whose name I can not recall, began by leading the crowd in singing the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance while gale force winds of about 40-50 miles an hour made 58 degrees feel like 45; leading MAHDoc Paul Hochfeld told the audience that he always ads a few words onto the Pledge of Allegiance as follows: “with liberty and justice for all who can afford it,” which was appreciated with laughter. There were about 4 tea bagger types (3 women and a man) in the audience who caused no disruptions but in the comment section one middle aged woman shouted something from the audience but wouldn’t come to the mic although she was told that disagreement is welcomed. A couple of Single Payer advocates talked with these folks and found they simply rejected, or repudiated unasailable facts in our presentations, such as that the U.S. has by far the most expensive health care (non)system in the world at $7,000 per capita per year, so cost of a Medicare for All program is not a problem.

The highlight of Monday, September 28 activities was a tele-conversation between our group and Congressman Dennis Kucinich held at his office with Dennis appearing from D.C. on one of those huge wide screens. Everyone of us put in our two cents worth of a question or comment and he responded with his comments over the 40 minute time span. To my own delight the Congressman highlighted forcefully many of the points that we include in our presentation across the country (Our individual 2-4 minute comments are–or should be– found on the website). Kucinich’s key points, as best I can remember, included: 1) that Congress is currently so much under the sway of and afraid of the lobbyists that no one should expect anything useful to come out of this legislative session. Any bill that passes will benefit the insurance companies more than the public  2) that he values and supports the importance of our Care-a-Van in motivating and energizing a new grassroots civil rights movement around full access to health care as a right. 3) that building a civil rights movements for health care for all involves building infrastructure and organization that will last for the long haul over as long as it takes 4) that that long term effort includes an indefinable future time after a Single Payer bill is passed and signed because there will be never ending efforts to weaken the program even afer it is put into effect, 5) that docs can play very important role in this movement and should redouble their efforts to bring more physicians into the now 17,000 member Physicians for a National Health Program ( 6) that trying to get the President to create a “white ribbon commission” from which the Insurers and the Drug companies are excluded isn’t likely to achieve much, but that docs might consider spearheading local commissions, with public health and medical experts and patient advoctes in some states to travel around gathering testimony at public hearings and presenting reports and recommendations to the public and government on their findings. This approach could help mobilize public opinion and energize people.

The debate among MAHDs over what we will do in DC is narrowing toward a consensus plan. The morning after the rally at Lafayette Park from 4-6 p.m. on September 30 we will join Congressman Kucinich at a press conference at the Capitol. From the press conference we will likely proceed to the White House and attempt to present our findings, video testmonies of hundreds of people who have given witness, and recommendations there, even if we do not get an audience with President Obama. Later we will return to the Capitol for both scheduled meetings and unscheduled meetings with various Congresspersons, including MAHD members own Congressepeople, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. There may also follow a laying of flowers, candles and white ribbons at the Lincoln Memorial or other site in memorialization of the 45,000 people who have died/will die this year in the US due to lack of health care insurance. Readers who want to participate in the care-a-van from Frederick to Silver Springs or join us in walking from McPherson park to Lafayette park at 3:30 p.m. should check the web site regularly for updated plans.


Marc Sapir MD MPH

Wednesday, 5/30: Three Short Films at Mess Hall

Three Short Films and a Conversation with filmmaker Luis Valenzuela 

Wednesday, May 30 at 7 pm
Mess Hall, 6932 N. Glenwood Ave, Chicago
(at the Morse stop of the red line, Rogers Park)

Meeting Face To Face imageMeeting Face to Face: The Iraq-U.S. Labor Solidarity Tour
directed by Jonathan Levin, produced by Michael Zweig

This 27-minute documentary breaks through the media walls that keep Iraqi and labor voices out of the debate about the war in the United States.  Meeting Face to Face brings the voices of Iraqi working people directly into the conversation as we consider the war and continuing occupation and what the next steps should be.

We also see American working people bringing new energy and commitment to the movement for peace, social justice, and a humane foreign policy.  Produced by the Center for the Study of Working Class Life at SUNY.

Two films by Luis Valenzuela: 

Pecado Menor
Follows the conflicted experience of a Latino U.S. soldier in an unnamed Latin American country. Violent and angry, the film does not mince words or images. 
English Subtitles

Bar Talk
Catalogs the conversations between a regular bar patron and the bartenders at the many Chicago bars he frequents.  Talk turns from personal to political, all over the patron’s favorite anesthetic.

Conversation with filmmaker Luis Valenzuela after the films
Luis Valenzuela has directed and produced four short films. Two of his films have been screened in the Chicago Latino Film Festival. Luis has worked on documentary films in Brazil on the struggles of land takeovers, and many projects on education in Chicago. In 1993 he presented a video “The Voice of the Dispossessed” for the Parliament of World Religions. He currently resides in the northwest neighborhood of Hermosa in Chicago with his wife Lourdes.

Tuesday, 5/29: “Learning Curves”

Learning Curves: the Neighborhood Writing Alliance on Formal and Informal Education

Whose education counts?  What does it mean to be educated?  Are schools the only places we learn?  What do we learn from our cultures, families, games, media, etc?  Through poetry and storytelling, writers from the Neighborhood Writing Alliance consider these and other questions about formal and informal education.

Tuesday, May 29th, 6:00-7:30pm
King Branch Library
3436 S King Drive, Chicago

For more information, please call 773 684 2742 or email

The Neighborhood Writing Alliance (NWA), publishers of the award-winning Journal of Ordinary Thought, provokes dialogue and promotes change by creating opportunities for adults to write, publish, and perform works about their lives. NWA provides ongoing opportunities for Chicago residents to engage in the literary arts through writing workshops in low-income neighborhoods, the publication of the Journal of Ordinary Thought (JOT), and readings and events.  Participants in weekly writing workshops are encouraged to write about their personal experiences to create narratives and poems and connect these experiences to larger social issues. Selected writing from the workshops is published quarterly in JOT, which reflects and amplifies the strength, thoughts, and ideas of Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods to a broader audience. JOT is distributed for free to the writers and their neighborhoods and is sent to a subscriber list composed of supporters, the media, and policy makers. NWA strives to amplify voices that often go unheard. Please visit  the JOT website for more information. 

Sunday, 5/27: Memorial Day Massacre 70th Anniversary Commemoration

70th Anniversary of the Memorial Day Massacre
Sunday, May 27,   2:00 p.m
11731 S. Avenue O, Chicago
Featured Speaker: Leo Gerard, President, USWA

For more information call Victor Storino, 773-646-0800

Memorial Day Massacre of 1937

Ten demonstrators were killed by police bullets during the “Little Steel Strike” of 1937. When several smaller steelmakers, including Republic Steel, refused to follow the lead of U.S. Steel (Big Steel) by signing a union contract, a strike was called by the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).

As a show of support, hundreds of SWOC sympathizers from all around Chicago gathered on Memorial Day at Sam’s Place, where the SWOC had its strike headquarters. After a round of speeches, the crowd began a march across the prairie and toward the Republic Steel mill. They were stopped midway by a formation of Chicago police. While demonstrators in front were arguing for their right to proceed, police fired into the crowd and pursued the people as they fled. Mollie West, a Typographical Union Local 16 member and a youthful demonstrator at the time, still recalls the command addressed to her: “Get off the field, or I’ll put a bullet in your back.”

The union hall of USWA Local 1033 now occupies the area where Sam’s Place once stood. A memorial to the ten who died can be found there at 11731 Ave. O, about a 10-minute drive from Pullman. From Pullman take I-94 northbound to the 103rd St exit. Go east to Torrence Ave, then south to 106th. Turn left past the rotting hulk of Wisconsin Steel. When you cross the Calumet River watch for Ave O. Turn south to 117th. Look for the flagpole. The phone is (773)646-0800.

May 22-25: Café Society Discussion on Labor

For more info, contact: The Public Square at the IHC

Workers of the World…Can They Unite?

As major corporations expand beyond national boundaries and locate branches and headquarters oversees, the United States’ economy has become increasingly globalized.  More and more production and service centers are positioned throughout Asia and Latin America where workers are paid less than a fraction of the wages U.S. citizens earn.

At the beginning of this trend segments of U.S. labor rallied behind a nationalistic campaign to “Buy American.”  However, as the world economy has matured and globalization continued, some have argued that the economic importance of the nation-state has declined.  How should changes in the economy affect the efforts of labor organizing?

Many believe that the very forces fueling globalization undercut the labor force.  They explain the emergence of a “corporate state” in which companies have no allegiance or accountability to a particular nation.  While raising standards abroad and exporting 21st-century business practices like product assembly and computer programming overseas, the United States is also exporting 19th-century labor conditions, wages and rights.  Does a global labor force make global organizing inevitable?

What are the barriers to transnational organization of workers?  How does labor organizing in the U.S. need to adjust to meet the needs of workers in other countries?  What criteria should be used to define labor standards?  What are the most realistic incentives for developing nations to organize if corporations can simply relocate? Will the U.S. worker suffer if union resources are diverted to organizing workers in other countries?  Has the shift to a global economy affected the immigration of undocumented workers to the U.S.?

Join us this week at Café Society to share your thoughts on this important issue.

Suggested Readings:

Organized Labor in Retreat

May Day Alert: Only Global Unions Can Stop the Race to the Bottom

Noble ideal of a global workers’ union may be too little, too late

Why a “Grand Deal” on Labor Could End Trade Talks

Labor Summary

Café Society Locations:

–7:30-8:30 p.m., Intelligentsia Coffee, 3123 N. Broadway St., Chicago

–10-11 a.m., Buzz Cafe, 905 S. Lombard Ave., Oak Park
–12:30-1:30 p.m., Randolph Street Café-Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph St., Chicago
–7-8 p.m., Pause, 1107 W. Berwyn Ave., Chicago

–7-8 p.m., Caffe De Luca, 1721 N. Damen Ave., Chicago
–7-8 p.m., Valois, 1518 E. 53rd St., Chicago
–7:30-8:30 p.m., Panera Bread, 1126 E. Walnut St., Carbondale, IL

–5-6 p.m., Ron’s Barber Shop, 6041 W. North Ave., Oak Park

Café Society, a project of the Public Square at the IHC, is a project designed to foster a more robust civil society, more cohesive and interactive communities, greater media literacy, and a more informed and engaged citizenry through weekly coffee shop conversations about contemporary social issues. Current media reports (along with ample doses of caffeine) serve as stimulants for the conversations.

Monday, 5/21 – Discussion of Chicago City Council Elections

Monday, May 21st,  5:30-7:00
Labor and the Chicago City Council Elections

The Rice Building  Suite #110
815 W. VanBuren  Chicago, IL 60607

Are you interested in what the recent Chicago City Council elections mean for labor and Chicago’s working-class communities?  Please join us for a conversation about politics and class in Chicago this month. We hope you can attend.

In solidarity,
Nancy MacLean and Liesl Orenic
Co-chairs, Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies

The Politics of the Working Class:
Labor and the Chicago City Council Elections

A Discussion Featuring:

Jorge Ramirez, Secretary Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor

Jerry Morrison, Executive Director Service Employees International Union, Illinois State Council

The Chicago Labor Education Program
The Rice Building
Suite #110
815 W. VanBuren
Chicago, IL 60607

Sponsored by
The Chicago Labor Education Program, Institute for Labor and Industrial Relations, University of Illinois
Chicago Center for Working Class Studies