CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday denounced a political cartoon about state education funding as “unambiguously racist.”
The cartoon by Eric Allie for the Illinois Policy Institute depicts an African-American child begging for school money and a rich white man showing one empty pocket, while the other is flush with cash.
“Sorry, kid, I’m broke,’ the cartoon says.
The conservative IPI argues that the financially struggling Chicago Public Schools doesn’t need a state bailout because it already has millions stashed in tax increment financing.
In an article published this month in Crain’s, Chris Lentino manager of Chicago outreach at the Illinois Policy Institute, argued: “While CPS calls for a bailout, the city of Chicago is sitting on a pile of hidden property tax revenue trapped in tax-increment financing, or TIF, districts. That revenue is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Emanuel, in a statement, blasted the cartoon and called out Gov. Rauner.
“At the same time the President of the United States is throwing his arms around neo-Nazis and Klansmen, Governor Rauner’s brain trust at the Illinois Policy Institute weighed in on the SB1 [education funding bill] debate by publishing an unambiguously racist cartoon.
“The critical debate over education funding in this state should be about ensuring a better future for students in every corner of Illinois, regardless of race, income or zip code – and not as an opportunity to divide us further.
“We’d call upon the Governor to use his influence as IPI’s largest funder and alumni-employer to demand this tasteless cartoon be taken down, but what’s the point? Instead, it provides a useful window into his outlook and determination to continue punishing poor and minority children. … What a disgrace.”
The IPI took down the cartoon and said the controversy was detracting from the central debate about education funding.
“We have taken down the cartoon, not because we think it is racist, but because it is a distraction from another truth – the failure of political leaders to address the root cause of our struggling education system. We stand ready to work with all elected officials and advocates who would like to see TIF money properly refocused on students across the state,” the group said in a prepared statement.