To the Editor:
I’m not surprised that State Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-26) can’t get his facts straight about my support for fair tax initiatives in Illinois. He is, after all, a politician who claims to be progressive — but who’s abandoned progressive positions when it really matters. He must have missed my call for a graduated income tax last April in the Hyde Park Herald. He certainly missed me protesting in Springfield on March 11 against Gov. Bruce Rauner’s inhuman budget cuts — and joining hundreds of residents like Alphonso Jones to demand fair tax reform. He didn’t join me in June with local leaders at the Grassroots Collaborative’s gathering, which focused on progressive revenue strategies — including a graduated income tax. And he missed me in July rallying at the State of Illinois building with over 500 people to demand a fair tax.
But Mitchell has often been missing in action — or voted dead wrong — on issues of critical concern to our residents.
He could have been an environmental hero like his colleagues State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-18) and Ald. Deb Mell (33rd), who voted against fracking in Illinois in 2013 — but he wasn’t. He could have prioritized public school kids over his deep-pocketed pro-privatization donors and supported local school district control over charter-school applications in 2014 — but he didn’t. He could have resigned from a lobbying firm that has represented payday lenders and school privatization heavyweights after he was elected in 2012 — but he didn’t. He could have supported parents who want to opt their kids out of controversial and deeply flawed high-stakes tests in May 2015 — but he didn’t. He could have backed a bill for an elected Chicago school board — but instead opposed it — and only changed his tune during election season.
And he could have voted to protect our seniors’ retirement security — but he didn’t. Instead, he voted the agenda of his big-money donors, including “We Mean Business”, a group that promotes cutting pensions. That group, whose donors include billionaire hedge fund bosses Ken Griffin and Bruce Rauner, has given Mitchell more than $35,000 alone. Mitchell’s vote for SB1, the unconstitutional raid on seniors’ pension benefits, is not his only vote against retirement security. In 2013 alone, he also voted for House Bills 1154 (capping pensions), 1165 (to delay and cut cost-of-living increases) and 1166 (to increase retirement ages).
If that’s Mitchell’s idea of a state legislator who does “real work”, then we need a new kind of work ethic in Springfield. We need a work ethic that isn’t beholden to opportunistic corporate elites and their raids on critically needed programs for our seniors, students and working families. We need a work ethic — and a representative — who tells the truth and puts the needs of ordinary people first.