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Ald. Ameya Pawar Blasts Gov. Bruce Rauner: 'You're A Racist'

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jun 13, 2017 10:38PM

Ald. Ameya Pawar (Ward 47) / Photo by Jack Lydon

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), the progressive candidate for the governor's office, on Friday blasted Gov. Bruce Rauner as a racist—in no uncertain terms.

"I want to speak directly to Bruce Rauner today," Pawar says in the clip, facing the camera. "Governor Rauner, you're a racist, and I'm going to tell you why."

Pawar specifically says that Rauner is a racist due to his handling of three issues: the SB 1 bill, which seeks to reform the education funding system and which Rauner's camp has said he will veto ; his controversial 2015 moratorium on Syrian refugees entering the state, in 2015; and Rauner's past opposition to automatic voter registration.

Pawar called out Rauner's past "code word" references to Chicago Public Schools teachers as "illiterate," CPS schools as "prisons" and the education reform bill carving out a "bailout."

“This is a school system that serves minority children, primarily poor children," Pawar said. "And you are using code words to go downstate and use people’s economic anxieties and fears… to veto a bill and turn people against Chicago.”

“That’s racist and that’s immoral, he adds. He also called Rauner's temporary suspension of Syrian refugees "xenophobic." Pawar acknowledged Rauner's decision to now sign into law an automatic voter registration bill, which the governor previously opposed; but he said the totality of those actions amounted to “one big slur” against Illinois.

"What that says to me is you're scared of people who look like me or have my skin color," Pawar said.

Bruce Rauner's camp did not immediately return a request for comment. But a spokesperson did push back after Pawar—on an appearance on Rick Pearson’s “Sunday Spin” over the weekend—made a similar accusation about the education "code words."

Spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement, via the Tribune:
“The Rauners are proud to have personally supported Chicago schools and contributed substantial resources to improving education in the city for many years. As governor, Bruce continues to work towards funding reform that is fair to the entire state.”

Rauner’s education advisor, Beth Purvis, said the governor supports 90 percent of the education funding reform bill but would still veto it because he contends it unfairly channels $215 million into the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund.