WBEZ | Lauren Chooljian http://www.wbez.org/tags/lauren-chooljian Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago police trying to recruit more minorities to join its ranks http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-trying-recruit-more-minorities-join-its-ranks-113604 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_1731.JPG" style="height: 404px; width: 620px;" title="Young Chicago police officers stand with Ald. Roderick Sawyer of the 6th ward at a press conference Monday announcing the police department’s latest recruitment effort. Supt. Garry McCarthy said the department has struggled in the past with hiring minorities. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" /></p><p>Calling all future police officers: The Chicago Police Department is taking applications for the first time since 2013.</p><div><p>The last time the department held the police exam, 19,000 people showed up&mdash;but Supt. Garry McCarthy said there was a problem with the pool of applicants. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;At the end of the day, we didn&rsquo;t get the numbers that we wanted as far as minorities are concerned,&rdquo; McCarthy told reporters Monday. &ldquo;And it&#39;s been a dynamic in this department that we&rsquo;ve struggled with for a long time.&rdquo;</p><div>So this year, the police department is launching a campaign to increase minority participation. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who joined McCarthy and other top police brass for the announcement, said the force should better reflect the makeup of Chicago.&nbsp;<p>To meet that end, McCarthy pointed to the diverse group of &ldquo;young, good-looking&rdquo; officers that stood behind him at the podium. CPD will send younger officers out to churches, schools and community events around Chicago to try and convince their peers to join the ranks.&nbsp;</p><p>The <a href="http://chicagopolice.org/takethetest" target="_blank">application </a>deadline is December 16; applicants must be 18 years old by the time of the exam, which will be held in February. Applicants also have to live in Chicago by the time of their employment, have 60 hours of college credit, or 36 months of continuous active duty service with 30 semester hours college credit and they must have a valid State of Illinois driver&rsquo;s license by the time of employment.</p><p>The superintendent said the department will be hiring to keep up with attrition.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></div><div>&nbsp;</div><p>&nbsp;</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 16:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-trying-recruit-more-minorities-join-its-ranks-113604 Governor Bruce Rauner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and one dead fish http://www.wbez.org/news/governor-bruce-rauner-mayor-rahm-emanuel-and-one-dead-fish-113580 <p><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rauner%20at%20paulina%20meat%20market.JPG" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Governor Bruce Rauner at Paulina Meat Market. (WBEZ/Tony Arnold)" />The public battle between two of Illinois&rsquo; most powerful politicians culminated Friday with the use of a familiar political weapon: A dead fish.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner referenced local political lore Friday, as he held up a plastic-wrapped fillet of tuna for reporters and said he would send it to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in jest. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The fish stunt was Rauner&rsquo;s attempt to add some levity to the tension that&rsquo;s been heating up between he and the mayor, ever since Chicago&rsquo;s City Council approved Emanuel&rsquo;s budget for 2016 and as the State of Illinois is about to enter its fifth month without a budget. The budget includes a property tax increase for city residents and businesses. The historic levy will mostly go toward funding the city&rsquo;s ailing police and firefighters&rsquo; pensions.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In recent weeks, Emanuel and Rauner have been in private talks over some initiatives the mayor needs the Statehouse to approve. That includes an exemption to that recently-approved property tax increase, for residents whose homes are worth less than $250,000. And Emanuel is still waiting for Rauner to say he&rsquo;ll sign off on a new payment schedule for those financially struggling pension funds.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Emanuel criticized Rauner for not supporting what the mayor called &ldquo;the economic engine&rdquo; of Illinois, referring to the City of Chicago. In response, a Rauner spokesman said Emanuel needed to &ldquo;get serious&rdquo; about if he&rsquo;ll endorse the governor&rsquo;s policies, or become, a &ldquo;tax-and-spend&rdquo; politician who is already planning to raise more taxes.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>On Friday, the public back-and-forth escalated even further.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re 120 days behind budget, $6 billion and counting and not paying bills,&rdquo; Emanuel said, referring to the ongoing state budget impasse. &ldquo;Stop name-calling and just do your job.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Soon after, Rauner held his own news conference at a Chicago meat market -- and this is where the fish came in The governor said he would send the cut of tuna to Emanuel, a reference to the<a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2008/11/06/the-five-most-infamous-rahm-emanuel-moments/" target="_blank"> infamous story</a> that, years ago, Emanuel once sent a dead fish to a political operative.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But the humor only lasted so long. While Rauner said he&rsquo;s &ldquo;very fond&rdquo; of Emanuel, he later grew more serious when asked about Chicago&rsquo;s property tax increase.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Chicago, I believe, has made a fundamental mistake,&rdquo; Rauner said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the reason I&rsquo;m opposed to what the mayor has done. He&rsquo;s put a massive tax hike on the people of Chicago without significant structural reform. I think that&rsquo;s a mistake.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Rauner also said Emanuel, on principle, wants some of the policies that he&rsquo;s pushing for, like changes to workers compensation.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s some hiding, dodging,&rdquo; Rauner said of Emanuel. &ldquo;We need structural reform.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Emanuel and Rauner are old friends and often speak privately. But the public dispute is a sign that the political impasse stretching out in the Statehouse is reaching the City of Chicago.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Lauren Chooljian and Tony Arnold cover politics for WBEZ. Follow them <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a> and<a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank"> @tonyjarnold.</a></em></div></p> Fri, 30 Oct 2015 17:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/governor-bruce-rauner-mayor-rahm-emanuel-and-one-dead-fish-113580 Emanuel: Springfield lawmakers “have to” break stalemate, help Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-springfield-lawmakers-%E2%80%9Chave-to%E2%80%9D-break-stalemate-help-chicago-113486 <p><div>Another agency in Chicago is looking to deadlocked Springfield for help balancing its books, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that&rsquo;s OK, because state lawmakers will eventually come through on their obligations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Chicago Transit Authority officials say their 2016 budget will be balanced, but only if they get the normal level of funding from the state.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think I&rsquo;m usually seen as an optimist or keep hope alive is my operating theory,&rdquo; Emanuel told reporters at the Addison CTA Blue Line stop. &ldquo;Look, they have to and will in the end of the day resolve their problem. And their breakdown. They&rsquo;ll have to pass their budget and they&rsquo;ll have to meet their responsibilities.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Emanuel joined CTA president Dorval Carter Jr. Thursday to announce the details of the agency&rsquo;s budget proposal. Carter said the CTA would not increases fares or cut services to balance their $1.475 billion budget, but it will need state funding to fill about 20 percent of the spending plan as it has in years past.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_1583.JPG" style="height: 300px; width: 400px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. announce details of the agency’s 2016 budget. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" /></p><div>Carter said he&rsquo;s been in &ldquo;productive conversations&rdquo; with lawmakers in Springfield. But as Illinoisans know well, the state is in its fourth month without a budget.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t speak for the governor or for anyone else in terms of where they&rsquo;re going to go or what they&rsquo;re going to do,&rdquo; Carter said. &ldquo;What I can say is I&rsquo;m managing my budget efficiently.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The budget calls for eliminating 100 positions in what officials call &ldquo;non-customer facing areas.&rdquo; It also projects continued growth in ridership. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The CTA isn&rsquo;t the only Chicago agency counting on the state. The Chicago Board of Education<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-board-education-passes-budget-banks-imaginary-money-112740" target="_blank"> unanimously approved a multibillion dollar budget </a>that relies on almost $500 million from Springfield, even though the Illinois General Assembly hasn&rsquo;t agreed to send the Chicago Public School district any additional money.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Meanwhile at City Hall, aldermen are hemming and hawing over whether to support a $543 million property tax increase that relies on Governor Bruce Rauner signing a bill that would lessen state-mandated police and fire pension payments. And an Emanuel supported bill that would double the current homeowners&rsquo; exemption and lessen the blow on homeowners who he said can least afford the additional property tax pain has only passed through one committee.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Aldermen have said that their &ldquo;trust issues&rdquo; with Springfield could affect whether or not they support the mayor&rsquo;s budget.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank"> @laurenchooljian</a>.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 23 Oct 2015 13:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-springfield-lawmakers-%E2%80%9Chave-to%E2%80%9D-break-stalemate-help-chicago-113486 Inauguration Day: New City Council faces serious financial problems http://www.wbez.org/news/inauguration-day-new-city-council-faces-serious-financial-problems-112042 <p><p>Inauguration day is here: Chicago&rsquo;s mayor, treasurer, city clerk and new class of aldermen will all be sworn in at the Chicago Theatre Monday morning. Of course, many of the people on stage will be familiar faces: Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Clerk Susana Mendoza and Treasurer Kurt Summers have already been serving the city, along with a majority of aldermen.</p><p>But thirteen new faces will be mixed among the returning class of politicians. Together, they&rsquo;ll be faced with a number of difficult issues, not the least of which is the city&rsquo;s dire financial situation.</p><p><em>Click below to hear about the members, the lessons they learned from the last election and more on the issues they&rsquo;ll be tackling this term.&nbsp;</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/205368904%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-PbDUk&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Brian-Hopkins.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Brain Hopkins (via Twitter)" /><strong>Brian Hopkins (2)</strong>: Hopkins is currently the senior budget analyst for the Cook County Board&rsquo;s Finance Committee, where he&rsquo;s also served as chief of staff to Chairman John Daley. Hopkins isn&rsquo;t planning to join a caucus; he thinks the city council should, &ldquo;get away from some of the factionalism that exists, and not break down into multiple, different caucuses.&rdquo;</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/greg-mitchell.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Gregory Mitchell (via mitchellforalderman.com)" /><strong>Gregory Mitchell (7)</strong>: Mitchell is a lifelong resident of the 7th Ward and worked as an IT Manager at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He&rsquo;s likely to join the black caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/patric-daley-thompson.jpg" style="width: 150px; height: 150px; float: left;" title="Patrick Daley Thompson (via patrickdthompson.com)" /><strong>Patrick Daley Thompson (11)</strong>: Thompson&rsquo;s middle name is a familiar one for the Chicago political scene. His uncle is former Mayor Richard M Daley, and, of course, his grandfather is former Mayor Richard J Daley. Thompson recently ended his tenure with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District&rsquo;s Board of Commissioners; and he <a href="http://www.burkelaw.com/Staff/Patrick+D+Thompson">practices real estate and corporate law</a>, which he says he&rsquo;ll continue while serving as alderman. Thompson says he currently has no plans to join any of the city council caucuses.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/susan-garza.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Susan Sadlowski Garza" /><strong>Susan Sadlowski-Garza (10)</strong>: Sadlowski-Garza is a Chicago Teacher&rsquo;s Union area vice president and, most recently, worked as a counselor at Jane Addams Elementary, a position she says she&rsquo;ll leave when she becomes alderman. She will join the progressive caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/raymond-lopez.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Raymond Lopez (via electlopez.com)" /><strong>Raymond Lopez (15)</strong>: Lopez is the Democratic Committeeman in the 15th Ward, and recently retired from Southwest Airlines. At present, he isn&rsquo;t planning to join any caucuses, including the newly formed Gay Caucus. Lopez is one of five openly gay members of the current city council. Still, he&rsquo;s often included on rosters of the new caucus, but Lopez says he&rsquo;s &ldquo;often guilty by association before I know about it.&rdquo;</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/david-moore.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="David Moore (via citizensformoore.com)" /><strong>David Moore (17)</strong>: Moore&rsquo;s family has been involved in the 17th Ward Democratic Organization since he was a kid--he went on to be precinct captain. Moore is currently an assistant to the commissioner of the Cook County Board of Review, a position he says he will leave once becoming alderman. Moore is a member of the progressive caucus, and plans to join the black caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/derrick-curtis.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Derrick Curtis (via twitter)" /><strong>Derrick Curtis (18)</strong>: Curtis is 18th Ward Democratic Committeeman and ward superintendent for the Department of Streets and Sanitation. He&rsquo;s likely to join the black caucus. &nbsp;</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/michaelscottjr.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Michael Scott Jr. (via Twitter)" /><strong>Michael Scott, Jr (24):</strong> Scott is an area manager for the Central Region of the Chicago Park District, but he says he&rsquo;ll be leaving his position to become alderman. His father is the late Chicago School Board President Michael W. Scott, Sr. He says he&rsquo;s likely to join the black caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chris-taliaferro.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Chris Taliaferro (via 29thward.com)" /><strong>Chris Taliaferro (29)</strong>: Taliaferro is a former Marine and former sergeant with the Chicago Police Department. He currently works as a litigation attorney and partner at Nexus Legal Group. Taliaferro is a member of the progressive caucus and is likely to join the black caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Milly-Santiago.jpg" style="height: 160px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Milagros “Milly” Santiago" /><strong>Milagros &ldquo;Milly&rdquo; Santiago (31)</strong>: Santiago is mostly known throughout the city for her work as a TV reporter for Telemundo. She most recently worked as communications manager for Illinois state agencies under the Central Management Services. Her name is rumored to be on the list for the progressive caucus, but Santiago says she hasn&rsquo;t yet made a decision.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gilbert.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Gilbert Villegas (via twitter)" /><strong>Gilbert Villegas (36)</strong>: Villegas was a former Marine, and currently owns a consulting company. He says he may continue to do some consulting while he serves as alderman, &ldquo;depending on the time.&rdquo; Villegas is joining the Latino caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/carlos.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (via carlososa.org)" /><strong>Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35)</strong>: At 26 years old, Ramirez-Rosa becomes the youngest aldermen on the current city council. He&rsquo;s a community organizer with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee RIghts, and a former caseworker for Congressman Luis Gutierrez. Ramirez-Rosa is a member of the progressive caucus, Latino caucus and the gay caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/anthony-napolitano.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Anthony Napolitano (via napolitano41stward.com)" /><strong>&nbsp;Anthony&nbsp;Napolitano&nbsp;(41)</strong>: Napolitano is a former Chicago police officer and current Chicago firefighter. He hasn&rsquo;t joined the progressive caucus but supports an elected school board, one of their top issues.</p></div><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s City Politics reporter. Follow her</em> <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></p></p> Sun, 17 May 2015 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/inauguration-day-new-city-council-faces-serious-financial-problems-112042 The Road to Election Day http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/road-election-day-111832 <p><p>This is it: The conclusion of the historic mayoral runoff election in Chicago has arrived. WBEZ&rsquo;s political duo Lauren Chooljian and Tony Arnold have been following incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Cook County Commissioner Jesus &ldquo;Chuy&rdquo; Garcia all around the city leading up to the April 7th election.<br /><br />On the last full day of campaigning, the candidates spent their time in the parts of the city where they&rsquo;re expected to do best. Emanuel ate breakfast in Lakeview and Garcia riled up supporters in Pilsen.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/199572170&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%">&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/iframe&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Listen to other snapshots of Emanuel and Garcia&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;rsquo;s days on the campaign path below.&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;</iframe></p><p>Listen to other snapshots of Emanuel and Garcia&rsquo;s days on the campaign path below.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/96308850&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian and Tony Arnold are WBEZ political reporters. Follow them <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 09:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/road-election-day-111832 Garcia, Emanuel battle in heated first debate of runoff http://www.wbez.org/news/garcia-emanuel-battle-heated-first-debate-runoff-111708 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/rahmchuydebate.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>UPDATED: 1:32 PM 3/17/2015</em></p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s two mayoral hopefuls turned up the heat for their first one-on-one debate Monday night.</p><p>In the first of three live, televised events before the April 7 runoff election, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Commissioner Jesus &ldquo;Chuy&rdquo; Garcia hit each other in the same spots as usual during the NBC and Telemundo debate: Emanuel criticized Garcia for not giving specifics, and Garcia called out Emanuel for paying too much attention to downtown, rather than the neighborhoods.</p><p>The two went back and forth on a number of topics that are familiar to the campaign trail, like public safety, schools, city finances and red light cameras. On finances, Emanuel said a property tax hike was not on the table, despite comments to the contrary from a top ally last week, as well as a warning from Emanuel himself last Friday that property tax bills would &ldquo;explode&rdquo; if Springfield didn&rsquo;t help reform pensions. Campaign staff later said that property taxes are the &ldquo;very last resort&rdquo; and any increase would &ldquo;protect middle-class homeowners and seniors.&rdquo; The city of Chicago faces a looming $550 million dollar state-mandated payment toward police and fire retirement funds.</p><p>&ldquo;Every effort going forward on police and fire is to avoid a property tax. I&rsquo;ve laid out a specific plan before the election. You&rsquo;ve laid out a commission,&rdquo; Emanuel said to Garcia.</p><p>The mayor says he&rsquo;d ask employees &ldquo;to help us a little&rdquo; to stabilize pensions, and that he&rsquo;d lobby Springfield for reforms to the sales tax and a Chicago-run casino that would be &ldquo;fully dedicated&rdquo; to pensions.</p><p>Meanwhile, Garcia sought to further define himself as the &ldquo;neighborhood guy,&rdquo; taking many opportunities to try and convince viewers not only that his experience in the community will drive his decisions, but that Emanuel focuses too much on the &ldquo;rich and wealthy&rdquo; or on downtown interests.</p><p>&ldquo;The mayor doesn&rsquo;t mind taxing low-income people and working people,&rdquo; Garcia said, referring to the city&rsquo;s red light camera program. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why on day one I will get rid of all those cameras.&rdquo;</p><p>The two candidates also sought to blame the other for the city&rsquo;s financial crisis. Emanuel took a new swipe at his opponent where he maintained that Garcia, as a state senator, voted in 1997 to create a holiday for Chicago Public Schools teacher pension payments. Garcia continued to accuse Emanuel of not following through on his campaign promise to put the city&rsquo;s financial house in order.</p><p>On public safety, Emanuel contended the city was &ldquo;safer than it was before, but not safe enough where people from all parts of the city can enjoy it.&rdquo; Garcia repeated his push for more police officers, and said he&rsquo;d start hiring them with half of what the city spends now on police overtime.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ political reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 08:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/garcia-emanuel-battle-heated-first-debate-runoff-111708 What’s in a name? Legacy aldermanic candidates defend 'The Chicago Way' http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/what%E2%80%99s-name-legacy-aldermanic-candidates-defend-chicago-way-111601 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/IMG_6865.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A few weeks ago, WGN news anchor Dan Ponce stood in front of a packed crowd in the echoey auditorium of Bateman Elementary School on Chicago&rsquo;s northwest side. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lz1hhBIjy0o">He was there to moderate the 33rd ward aldermanic debate</a>, a ward that he himself lives in.</p><p>&ldquo;Machine politics and the Chicago way, legendary in this city,&rdquo; Ponce says to the three candidates. &ldquo;How will your office work to break from this influence?&rdquo;</p><p>By the end of this question, the audience, and one of the candidates Tim Meegan, burst into laughter, and likely for a few reasons. The first is the great irony of a member of the Ponce family answering this question: Phil Ponce is a longtime journalist on WTTW, and his two sons Dan and Anthony have both gone on to successful television careers themselves. The audience is also laughing because right next to Ponce and Meegan is incumbent alderman Deb Mell.</p><p>Mell was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year to take over for her dad, former Ald. Richard Mell. He&rsquo;s a powerful guy on the Northwest Side (and that could be putting it lightly) -- he was alderman for 38 years before his daughter took over.</p><p>Tim Meegan gave the first answer to Ponce&rsquo;s question:</p><p>&ldquo;It needs to end. It needs to stop. Nepotism and political dynasties in this town are the problem with why we&rsquo;re all so unsatisfied,&rdquo; Meegan said to loud applause from the audience.</p><p>And the fear of &ldquo;nepotism&rdquo; that Meegan mentioned is at the core of why Chicagoans often shudder at the thought of political jobs staying in the family. The idea that power could be based on who you know, rather than what you know.</p><p>Turns out, this election cycle, there are eight candidates who are facing that criticism; Eight people, including incumbents and new candidates, who are running for alderman this year, but who are either related to or were married to a former alderman or mayor.</p><p>For incumbents, the list includes 34th ward and budget chairman alderman Carrie Austin. She took over for her husband when he died in 1994. Alderman Harry Osterman in the 48th ward followed in his mother&rsquo;s footsteps, while 39th ward Ald. Margaret Laurino and 14th ward Ald. Ed Burke followed their fathers. Roderick Sawyer, alderman in the 6th ward, is the son of the late Mayor Eugene Sawyer.</p><p>And this is the year that 38th ward Alderman Tim Cullerton retires -- making it the first time since the Great Chicago Fire that a Cullerton isn&rsquo;t working in City Hall.</p><p>But when you take a look at some of these newer candidates, how they&rsquo;re trying to combat that &ldquo;Chicago Way criticism&rdquo; varies completely.</p><p>When it became Deb Mell&rsquo;s turn to answer Ponce&rsquo;s question, she first expressed her love for her dad. But then, she brings up a recent Walgreens project as an example of how different the two are. She says her father didn&rsquo;t talk to any of the neighborhood groups about the project. Instead, he just went right ahead with it.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think that way,&rdquo; Mell said. &ldquo;I think our ward is too important to just throw stuff in there. And so I stopped the project, and that made for a very interesting Christmas, to be quite honest.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile in the 16th ward, on Chicago&rsquo;s south side, the candidate-family dynamic couldn&rsquo;t be clearer. Shirley Coleman was alderman of that ward for more than half of her daughter Stephanie&rsquo;s life. Now 27, Stephanie is running for the seat herself, and has pictures of her and her mother prominently displayed on everything from campaign mailers to <a href="https://instagram.com/p/yN0dEPvB4N/?modal=true">social media</a>.</p><p>Even her campaign slogan is a blatant reminder of where she comes from.</p><p>&ldquo;Built on proven leadership is a model and theme in this campaign, that look, what I may lack in age I gain in experience, I have someone who has mentored me who has 16 years of experience,&rdquo; Coleman said.</p><p>And almost to belabor the point - her mom happened to show up during our interview.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re just proud that this is the route that she chose, not I,&rdquo; Shirley Coleman said, laughing and smiling toward her daughter.</p><p>But what if you&rsquo;re running to represent a neighborhood that&rsquo;s steeped in family political history? What if the doors you&rsquo;re knocking on are in the ward that many consider the epicenter of nepotism and machine politics?</p><p>Those are the questions Patrick Daley Thompson faces as he drives his Jeep Cherokee through his community, the 11th ward.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m very proud of my family, I&rsquo;m not running from my family, nor am I running on my family name. I&rsquo;m running. The fact is, my name is Patrick Daley Thompson,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>That means his Uncle Rich is Mayor Richard M. Daley. Thompson even lives at 35th and Lowe in the house his grandfather built. His grandfather, of course, is Mayor Richard J Daley. And Thompson knows well - that Daley name is something voters won&rsquo;t ignore - his opponents certainly haven&rsquo;t.</p><p>&ldquo;In this race in particular, yeah I&rsquo;ve heard by the other people about the old machine politics, and first of all I have no idea, that&rsquo;s like the 1920s they&rsquo;re talking about,&rdquo; Daley said. &ldquo;Our campaign is organized with people who have never been involved with political campaigns, ever.&rdquo;</p><p>One of his aldermanic opponents, Maureen Sullivan, a community activist and longtime Bridgeport resident, says another Daley in office means a return to the old &ldquo;machine style&rdquo; of politics.</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s just a different face, it&rsquo;s the same mechanism that&rsquo;s going to be operating this area, and they have an old school way of looking at things and we need someone who can look forward not backwards,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>But as Thompson drives around the neighborhood he&rsquo;s called home his whole life, his last name isn&rsquo;t what he wants to discuss. He&rsquo;d rather go through his almost encyclopedic knowledge of the ward: He knows every alley, every park, every development and he promptly points out every viaduct that needs repairing -- even suggesting potential partners to help him clean them up.</p><p>Thompson will say he wanted to run for office, not be appointed, and he says that he wasn&rsquo;t forced to do any of this. And besides, he adds: lots of families are this way.</p><p>&ldquo;For example at my law firm - there&rsquo;s a lot of people whose parents were lawyers. And their kids are lawyers. Because they&rsquo;ve seen what their parents do,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;In the media, there are a lot of fathers and daughters. You know, [like] Phil Ponce?&rdquo;</p><p>But lawyers or reporters - even the Ponces - aren&rsquo;t the ones responsible for delivering city services - or fixing the city&rsquo;s finances. And so experts say even if these candidates pass the first test of getting elected, the tough scrutiny or jabs about the Chicago way should not disappear overnight.</p><p>Former Alderman and now University of Illinois at Chicago political professor Dick Simpson says if these alderman deliver city services equally, and if they vote in the interests of their ward, rather than the mayor, and if they appoint people outside of their family circle, only then can voters overlook that their last -- or middle -- names have been seen many times before.<br /><br /><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s city politics reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Sat, 21 Feb 2015 12:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/what%E2%80%99s-name-legacy-aldermanic-candidates-defend-chicago-way-111601 Durbin leaving Congressional roommates behind http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-leaving-congressional-roommates-behind-111261 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP602936696661.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For Senator Dick Durbin, the upcoming session of Congress marks the end of an era. And it&rsquo;s not because the Senate is turning from blue to red.</p><p>After more than 20 years, the number two Democrat will be forced to find a new place to live. Durbin has been sharing a Capitol Hill row house with two Democrats: New York Sen.Chuck Schumer, and Rep. George Miller of California, who is also the landlord. Other members of congress have stayed there through the years, including Marty Russo of Illinois, Leon Panetta of California, Sam Gejdenson of Connecticut, and Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts.</p><p>But in 2015, their landlord won&rsquo;t be returning to the Hill. Representative Miller announced at the beginning of this year that he wasn&rsquo;t going to seek a 21st term in the House of Representatives, and so he decided to sell the now somewhat famous frat house.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s the end of an era,&rdquo; Durbin said. &ldquo;And as I said to one of the other <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/17/us/after-decades-lawmakers-are-roommates-no-more.html" target="_blank">interviewers</a>, it&rsquo;s the end of America as I have known it. It is a new nation. I don&rsquo;t know, it&rsquo;ll be fine.&rdquo;</p><p>Durbin says he went out and got himself a little apartment that he&rsquo;ll move into in a couple weeks when the new session starts.</p><p>But the Senator didn&rsquo;t seem too thrilled about the change of pace, as he says he&rsquo;ll miss his roommates.</p><p>&ldquo;Coming home at night, late at night, and just sitting around, on the couch, talking about what happens and how it&rsquo;s seen differently in the House than it is in the Senate. You know, I miss that. And plus, we became friends, family friends.&rdquo;</p><p>Durbin has told stories in the past about the lack of cleanliness in the apartment. He says Miller would chide Schumer for leaving his bed unmade for &ldquo;7,000 nights.&rdquo; Durbin says his new Washington digs will be much cleaner than his last.</p><p>&ldquo;I am just an average clean up guy, and I stood out in this house as way above the rest,&rdquo; Durbin said.</p><p>If the vision of three, not just grown men, but powerful lawmakers, living together in a DC apartment sounds to you like the makings of a sitcom, you&rsquo;re not alone.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t tell you how many times people say, &lsquo;that would make a wonderful TV show.&rsquo; That story, I can just see it now,&rdquo; Durbin said, in a previous interview. &ldquo;And I said, understand there&rsquo;s no sex and violence here, so this is not likely to be very popular.&rdquo;</p><p>A few attempts at that show were made early on, including one by a then young comedian named Al Franken, but none were successful until last year, when Amazon produced a web series called <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Pilot-HD/dp/B00CDBTQCW" target="_blank">Alpha House</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-leaving-congressional-roommates-behind-111261 Mayor Byrne remembered as feisty, trailblazer http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-byrne-remembered-feisty-trailblazer-111114 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/byrne funeral.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago said goodbye Monday to Jane Byrne, its first and only female mayor. Byrne was celebrated for her &ldquo;feisty&rdquo; personality and her &ldquo;trailblazing&rdquo; career in the mayor&rsquo;s office.</p><p>Her funeral was held at the St. Vincent de Paul Church in Lincoln Park - the same parish her parents attended in the late 1890s. Byrne&rsquo;s mother also attended grammar school there. A steady stream of friends, family members, politicos and regular Chicagoans attended her visitation and funeral Monday - including Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>&ldquo;She led our city in a way that captures the true spirit of Chicago: dogged, determined and dignified,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;As the first woman to lead not just our city, but any major American city, Jane Byrne will always have a special place in the history books</p><p>The morning began with a traditional visitation at 9 am sharp. Jane Byrne lay peacefully inside an open casket with the Chicago flag laid delicately on top. The sun snuck in through the ornate stained glass windows of the church and made her blonde hair shine.</p><p>For the most part, the mood was more jovial than somber: Old friends and colleagues greeted each other in more of the manner of a holiday party. Many, like Angel Correa, sported Byrne&rsquo;s old campaign buttons.</p><p>Correa said he campaigned hard for Byrne back in the early 1980s -- even as he clocked hours as a circulation manager at the Chicago Tribune.</p><p>&ldquo;And I&rsquo;ll tell you one thing,&rdquo; he said, while clutching a collage of old pictures of Mayor Byrne. &ldquo;I used to take her literature and actually stuff it in the Tribune papers. If they would have found that out, I probably would [have] got canned!&rdquo;</p><p>Correa later went on to serve as the deputy commissioner of neighborhoods for Mayor Byrne.</p><p>&ldquo;Believe me when I tell you: A very feisty lady, very bossy, but a very, very good, warm person with a good heart.&rdquo;</p><p>That feistiness was a constant theme throughout the funeral mass -- especially in the homily from Monsignor Kenneth Velo.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember walking into her room one day. She was peering out her window to the east, looking toward the lake. She didn&rsquo;t know I was there. I said Jane! She looked back and said &ldquo;you scared the hell out of me! And I said, good!&rdquo;</p><p>Velo spoke both of Byrne&rsquo;s accomplishments and her trials: like her vision for the museum campus, or the death of her first husband soon after the birth of their only child Kathy.</p><p>&ldquo;Was she perfect? Are you? Am I? Did she have faults? Sure. Don&rsquo;t you? Don&rsquo;t I? But she loved the city of Chicago. And she was proud that she was mayor of the city of Chicago,&rdquo; Velo said.</p><p>According to Velo, Byrne also proudly planned this mass.</p><p>Her great-grand nieces read the petitions and prayers, and her only grandson, Willy, read one of her favorite quotes from Senator Robert Kennedy.</p><p>But some of deepest emotion and reflection came from Byrne&rsquo;s daughter, Kathy.</p><p>&ldquo;My mother was dragon slaying, problem solving, 24/7 guardian angel,&rdquo; Byrne said.</p><p>Byrne said she often thinks about how life would have been if her dad had survived - she says her mom would have likely lived as a socialite on the North shore. But instead, Byrne said her mom fought for her independence. Back then, women weren&rsquo;t allowed to have their own credit accounts. When her dad died, Byrne says her mom had to fight tooth and nail at Saks Fifth Avenue to get that credit back -- a hurtful and humiliating experience that came to back to Byrne when she lived in Chicago&rsquo;s housing projects.</p><p>&ldquo;When my mom spoke to the mothers in Cabrini. And she heard how some of the merchants in the area refused their food stamps and called them names, called them worthless [and] did this in front of their children. My mother could share what they felt,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>And Byrne says her mother loved every minute of her time as mayor.</p><p>&ldquo;She was a great lady. And I&rsquo;ll never know anyone like her.&rdquo;</p><p>As Byrne&rsquo;s family carried her casket into the brisk Chicago winds - another fitting - but unplanned - theme appeared: Snow.</p><p>It was a snowfall in 1979 that swept Mayor Byrne into office. So it only seemed fitting that snowflakes fell softly on the Chicago flag that covered her coffin.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 06:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-byrne-remembered-feisty-trailblazer-111114 Rauner, Quinn battle for African-American votes http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-quinn-battle-african-american-votes-110940 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP911111007939.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-6f97a6f2-1582-0782-483a-897455cafe20">As the clock ticks down to election night, Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner continue to battle over what&rsquo;s best for Illinois&rsquo; future. The top candidates have now faced off in two televised debates.</p><p>The focus of Tuesday&rsquo;s debate, three weeks ahead of the election, was mostly African-American voters, and issues they&rsquo;ll be thinking about in the polling booth. The panel of journalists posing questions to the candidates focused on jobs, the economy, the minimum wage, public safety and the state&rsquo;s finances.</p><p>And it was obvious by their responses that both candidates on stage at the DuSable Museum of African American History realized the importance of getting those votes.</p><p>&ldquo;My investments and my donations to the African-American community have totaled tens of millions of dollars,&rdquo; Rauner said, when asked about his recent <a href="http://abc7chicago.com/politics/rauner-promises-$1m-to-south-side-credit-union-/231631/">million dollar donation</a> to a South Side credit union.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve opened up the doors to many more contracts&mdash;I think it&rsquo;s up to a thousand contracts&mdash;for African-American owned businesses,&rdquo; Quinn said, to a question about government hiring.</p><p>The two also wasted no time trying to cut their opponent down to size&mdash;a recurring theme in both televised debates and on the campaign trail. Quinn accused Rauner of not hiring any African Americans in his company.</p><p>&ldquo;My opponent had 51 executives in his company, no African Americans, not one,&rdquo; Quinn said.</p><p>Rauner shot back that Quinn was &ldquo;taking the African-American vote for granted. He&rsquo;s talking but not delivering results.&rdquo;</p><p>Rauner also accused Quinn of kicking Stephanie Neely, Chicago&rsquo;s city treasurer who is black, off the list of running mates. Neely was rumored to be on the short list of Quinn&rsquo;s choices for lieutenant governor. Quinn later countered that his choice of Paul Vallas was due to Vallas&rsquo; experience with schools and budgeting.</p><p>&ldquo;African-American families are suffering in Illinois: brutally high unemployment, deteriorating schools, lack of proper social services and rampant cronyism and corruption that&rsquo;s taking away job opportunities from African Americans,&rdquo; Rauner said.</p><p>The candidates spent a lot of time in this debate talking about public safety and gun control. Rauner wouldn&rsquo;t say if he supported a ban on assault weapons. He said he believed the conversation about gun control should instead be on getting guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and creating jobs. Rauner said it was the lack of opportunity that has lead to the state&rsquo;s issue with crime.</p><p>Quinn came out in support of banning assault weapons and called for a limit on high capacity ammunition magazines.</p><p>The ongoing conversation about the minimum wage also surfaced in this debate. Rauner was pressed by the panel to explain his position, as there has been much back and forth about whether he wants to <a href="http://politics.suntimes.com/article/springfield/rauner-admits-he-once-favored-eliminating-minimum-wage/thu-09042014-113am" target="_blank">ditch</a> the minimum wage all together, or raise it.</p><p>Rauner reiterated he wanted to see a national hike to the minimum wage, so Illinois could remain competitive, but he would support raising Illinois&rsquo; minimum wage (currently at $8.25) if it came with &ldquo;tort reform, tax reduction [and] workers comp reform.&rdquo;</p><p>Quinn said he&rsquo;d work to raise the minimum wage to $10 by the end of this year, though he faced questions from both Rauner and the debate panel about why he hadn&rsquo;t boosted it in his six years in office. Quinn responded that &ldquo;you have to build a majority for anything in life&rdquo; and brought up President Barack Obama&rsquo;s tactics with passing the Affordable Care Act as an example.</p><p>The end of the debate featured a special opportunity for the candidates: Rauner and Quinn were able to ask one question of their opponent. You can listen to that exchange here:</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/172278238&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_user=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The candidates are scheduled to face off in at least one more debate before the election on November 4.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian.</a></em></p></p> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-quinn-battle-african-american-votes-110940