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Will the Real Progressives Please Stand Up!

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Will the Real Progressives Please Stand Up!

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After finishing third in February’s mayoral election, Miguel del Valle promised to use his following among neighborhood activists to build a progressive movement in Chicago.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., del Valle and political consultant Delmarie Cobb will host the first “Will The Real Progressives Please Stand Up!” forum, at the Center For Inner City Studies, 700 E. Oakwood Blvd., in Bronzeville. The topics will include TIFs, Jobs, Public Schools, Privatization, Public Safety and Deficits.

As a candidate for mayor, del Valle’s platform was that Chicago can’t succeed unless the city’s poorest neighborhoods and its poorest residents succeed. That’s still his platform, whether he’s talking about Tax Increment Financing Districts, or improving the public schools.

“We have to look at the study the University of Chicago just released, that scores have not changed that much, and the achievement gap between whites and African-Americans has widened,” del Valle said. “We haven’t done enough to improve the living conditions of the people in the neighborhoods. If we don’t address that, we’re not going to be able to create the environment for teachers to teach.”

Cobb criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel for “vilifying” teachers and for appointing a school task force made up of “North Shore people, not educators. What do they know about poor people? What do they know about black and brown?” Like Daley before him, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s sending his children to private schools is “admitting the school system you took over is not the best. It says that it’s never going to improve. We can use it as a political football.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s task force on TIF districts may have made the process more transparent, but all that means is the public is getting a better look at a program that’s still being misused, del Valle said. TIFs are still benefiting downtown businesses, at the expense of the blighted neighborhoods they were designed to serve.

“Now, with these groups threatening to leave because of the income tax, we’re going to see even more of these corporations twisting City Hall’s arm for TIF districts,” he predicted.

Both del Valle and Cobb have been encouraged to see the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, and now Chicago. (Next Monday, protesters will meet in Federal Plaza at 4 p.m. for a march to the Financial District.) Del Valle’s son, who recently moved to New York and is looking for a job to pay off his graduate school loans, has visited the protests.

“What’s important to me is that it not be a one-issue event,” Cobb said. “People need to connect the dots and see that their quality of life is declining. The middle class is disappearing. It’s not just the banks, student loans. Their ability to make a living is disappearing. The neighborhoods are worse now than when Daley took over. The best that man could do is fill up the community with Walmarts that pay $8.50 an hour.”

Expect more progressive talk like that at the forum, which will be moderated by ABC7’s Charles Thomas. Also, expect more forums. Del Valle and Cobb say this event will be “the beginning of a conversation.” Other panelists will include:

            Ben Joravsky, Columnist, Chicago Reader
            Angela Caputo, Reporter, Chicago Reporter
            Toussaint Losier, Community Organizer, Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign
            Phil Jackson, Founder, Executive Director, The Black Star Project
            Rebecca Reynolds, Electoral Field Organizer

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