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Karen Lewis 'Conversations with Karen' tour begins Beverly/Morgan Park community

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Chicago Sun Times columnist Michael Sneed reported yesterday that Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis will be meeting with black business leaders this month. The group, the Business Leadership Council, a nonprofit organization made up of top African-American business leaders and financial gurus, has scheduled such a meeting. The date of the meeting is uncertain.

It is all part of the plan for a possible run by CTU President Lewis to unseat Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Several weeks ago, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle slam shut the door on a run against Mayor Emanuel. This clears the field CTU President Lewis, who is considered a serious and viable candidate. The latest Chicago Tribune poll shows that she can be competitive.

That isn't all.

In a press release to the Chicago City Hall Examiner, CTU President Lewis announced "As more than 400,000 students prepare to head back to under-resourced Chicago Public Schools, CTU President Lewis will meet with teachers, police officers, firefighters and other 19th Ward parents, in a first of a series of conversations on the state of the city."

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 19, at the Beverly Woods Banquet Hall, 11532 S. Western Ave. The discussion will be moderated by famed journalist Walter Jacobson.

The "listening and talking tour" is part of CTU President Lewis' decision process in deciding whether to challenge Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The two leaders have a rocky personal relationship based on their disagreements on the subject of the Chicago Public Schools.

Lewis led a teacher’s strike two years ago, which made their relationship worse. During the teachers strike Lewis branded Emanuel a "liar and a bully". It is not unusual for Lewis to hear the words, "Run, Karen run!" chanted at public events.

There is no word from the Lewis people on other planned events. Appearing first in the 19th Ward first for Lewis makes political sense, since this was the place in which Emanuel performed poorly. 23,898 voted in the 19th Ward in the 2011 municipal election, which was the biggest turnout in any of the 50 Chicago wards. Emanuel lost the 19th Ward to Gery Chico by several thousand votes, and the assumption is CTU President Lewis wants a piece of that.

Approximately 300 audience members will have an opportunity to share their concerns regarding such issues as school reform, pensions, preserving union rights and the 2015 municipal elections. “Conversations with Karen” events will take place in various neighborhoods throughout Chicago over the next few weeks in an effort to lend a voice to those concerned about the state of CPS in the wake of massive budget cuts, teacher lay-offs and attacks from City Hall.

The event is free and open to the general public and media. For more information please visit www.ctunet.com/19.

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