WBEZ | Lauren Chooljian http://www.wbez.org/tags/lauren-chooljian Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 Gone Fishing: Harsh winter brings lake temps down, but not for long http://www.wbez.org/news/gone-fishing-harsh-winter-brings-lake-temps-down-not-long-110690 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Phil%20Willink%201.jpg" style="float: right; height: 400px; width: 300px;" title="Philip Willink of Shedd Aquarium (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" /><a href="http://www.sheddaquarium.org/Conservation--Research/Conservation-Research-Experts/Dr-Phillip-Willink/" target="_blank">Dr. Philip Willink</a> stands at the shore of Chicago&rsquo;s 63rd Street Beach, looking out on to Lake Michigan.</p><p>&ldquo;So what do you see when you look at the lake?&rdquo;</p><p>He asks this question of anyone who joins him on his frequent trips to the shore. Willink is a senior research biologist at the Shedd Aquarium, and so he often visits the shoreline to check on the health of the lake.</p><p>&ldquo;Something I like to do is whenever I go out, I try to do as many things at once: monitoring invasive species, looking for endangered species and just sort of assessing the community on the Chicago Lakefront,&rdquo; Willink said.</p><p>And from the surface, it&rsquo;s impossible to see it all. According to Willink, at any given spot, there could be tens of thousands of fish swimming around: A little-known fact for many local swimmers. Another example: Willink said there are likely quadrillions of invasive zebra mussels and quagga mussels in Lake Michigan.</p><p>You can hear their dead shells crunch as you walk along the shore.</p><p>This year, Willink said, he&rsquo;s stumbled on a few species that he isn&rsquo;t as used to seeing, like Coho salmon, perch and bloaters&mdash;all fish that favor cooler, deeper waters.</p><p>&ldquo;When the bloater showed up it was like &lsquo;oh, okay, something&#39;s really going on,&rsquo; because I think in the past 10 years, I&rsquo;ve only caught one other bloater in a net,&rdquo; Willink said. &ldquo;So catching a half-dozen of them really meant that something different was going on.&rdquo;</p><p>On average, temperatures in Lake Michigan this summer have been much cooler than normal. According to data from the <a href="http://coastwatch.glerl.noaa.gov/webdata/cwops/html/statistic/statistic.html%20" target="_blank">National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration</a>, surface temperatures have been about 2.75 degrees Celsius below average. The managers of this data believe that&rsquo;s likely because of all the ice cover that came along last winter. The Great Lakes were at least 90 percent ice covered last winter, and that hasn&rsquo;t happened since 1994.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/avgtemps-m_1992-2013.gif" title="" /></div><p>Willink said all that cooler water encouraged fish that usually stay deep, deep down in the lake to swim up to the surface.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody thought it was a harsh winter, and we&rsquo;d have fewer fish. I&rsquo;ve actually found more this year,&rdquo; Willink said. &ldquo;It may very well be that Great Lakes fish like harsh winters, because after all, that was a much more typical winter.</p><p>But some other fishermen aren&rsquo;t so sure of that connection.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cpt%20rick%204.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Captain Rick Bentley, owner of Windy City Salmon Fishing Charters. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" />Captain Rick Bentley is the owner of <a href="http://www.windycitysalmon.com/" target="_blank">Windy City Salmon Fishing Charters</a>. He takes groups fishing off Waukegan Harbor in Lake Michigan, so thriving fish make for better business. And he said this spring, the Coho salmon fishing was the best he&rsquo;s ever seen.</p><p>&ldquo;It was excellent. A lot of times in April, we&rsquo;re waiting for Coho to get here. They typically mass up in schools on the way extreme south end of the lake,&rdquo; Bentley said. &ldquo;But we had them right at the beginning of April when we started fishing.&rdquo;</p><p>Bentley said he remembers all the ice cover. It covered the harbor until April 10th, which he said is unusual. But he&rsquo;s not convinced the two things are related.</p><p>&ldquo;You need to have several of those winters in a row, and we really haven&rsquo;t had a winter like that in a while,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So whether it was due to the winter, we&rsquo;ll have to see about that.&rdquo;</p><p>According to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lsa.umich.edu/pite/people/facultyassociates/ci.gadenmarc_ci.detail" target="_blank">Marc Gaden</a> of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Captain Rick Bentley may not get the chance to make that assessment. Gaden worked on this year&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.globalchange.gov/what-we-do/assessment" target="_blank">national climate change report</a> and he said all the research points in the opposite direction of the thermometer.</p><p>&ldquo;The downward trend is quite unmistakable since the 1970s. And so we&rsquo;ll see fewer and fewer winters where we&rsquo;ll have that significant amount of ice cover in the Great Lakes basin, that&rsquo;s clear from the trends. And the models of climate change scenarios suggest that&rsquo;s not going to change,&rdquo; Gaden said.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/m2013_2014_ice.gif" title="" /></div><p>And in the decades to come, Gaden said that could, among many other things, make the lakes &ldquo;quite an inviting place to some of the invasive species that we&rsquo;re very concerned about like Asian Carp.&rdquo; According to Gaden, that warmer water could also lead to an expansion of species like sea lamprey, quagga and zebra mussels that are already in the lake.</p><p>Back at 63rd Street Beach, Willink said on the one hand, sometimes people tend to forget that the Great Lakes are always changing and they always have been: Fish, animals and plants have survived both warm and cold years before. And, he adds, it is hard to really know how one pattern will affect the ecosystem long term.</p><p>But since this has been an unprecedented rate of change, how the fish will respond is an open question.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gone-fishing-harsh-winter-brings-lake-temps-down-not-long-110690 Lucas chooses Chicago for his art, memorabilia museum http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/lucas-chooses-chicago-his-art-memorabilia-museum-110405 <p><p>Get your lightsabers ready: The George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is coming to Chicago.</p><p>George Lucas and the museum board announced Tuesday they had chosen Chicago as the home for the museum, beating out San Francisco and Los Angeles.</p><p>It all started more than four years ago, in a galaxy far, far away -- also known as George Lucas&rsquo; home of San Francisco. Lucas&rsquo; originally wanted to build his museum for art and movie memorabilia at Crissy Field, land owned by the Presidio Trust. But when his plans were rejected earlier this year, he began looking into other options.</p><p>In a statement, the Lucas Museum board says Chicago&rsquo;s proposed site by Soldier Field was &ldquo;significantly larger&rdquo; and closer to public transportation than the sites San Francisco was offering. The board also lauded Chicago&rsquo;s museum campus - the proposed site for the museum - as &ldquo;vibrant,&rdquo; and &ldquo;centrally located in a city renowned for its love of art and architecture.&rdquo;</p><p>Though he&rsquo;s from California, Lucas has his own personal connections to Chicago. Lucas&rsquo; wife, Mellody Hobson, is a prominent businesswoman from Chicago. The couple celebrated their wedding at Promontory Point along the Lake Michigan shore. The city closed down the entire park for the event.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been lobbying for major cultural institutions to move to or take root in Chicago. A mayoral-appointed task force last month recommended the Lucas museum be built along the lakefront, in the now-parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place</p><p>Emanuel called landing the Lucas Museum a &ldquo;tremendous opportunity&rdquo; for the city. He&rsquo;s said in the past taxpayers wouldn&rsquo;t be footing the bill for the billion-dollar investment.</p><p>The mayor has also attempted to assure Bears fans that the Lucas museum won&rsquo;t keep them from tailgating before home games. Last month, he told reporters at an unrelated event that &ldquo;there&rsquo;s going to be tailgating. Full stop.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t thank George and Mellody enough,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;No other major American city has these type of cultural education institutions, with a great Northerly Island creating a vibrant, green museum campus - unparalleled in the United States.&rdquo;</p><p>In a statement, George Lucas says Chicago is the right decision for the museum, but the Bay area will always be his home.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ Reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian"><em>@laurenchooljian</em></a></p></p> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 07:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/lucas-chooses-chicago-his-art-memorabilia-museum-110405 New rules of the road possible for Chicago pedicab drivers http://www.wbez.org/news/new-rules-road-possible-chicago-pedicab-drivers-110106 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 8.37.11 AM_0.png" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago pedicabs could soon have to follow new rules of the road, much to the dismay of many drivers. The City Council is set to vote Wednesday on a slew of new rules and regulations for bicycle rickshaws popular around Wrigley Field and downtown. It would be the first time the city sets any regulations on the growing industry.</p><p>Many pedicab drivers say they&rsquo;re for some regulation, but argue that the ordinance put forth by Ald. Tom Tunney (44) goes too far. Tunney&rsquo;s measure is years in the making, and requires pedicab drivers to get $250 annual licenses for their cabs, to buy insurance, post fare schedules, apply for &ldquo;chauffeur&#39;s licenses&rdquo; to drive the pedicab and other changes.</p><p>But it&rsquo;s the ban on driving on the downtown portion of Michigan Avenue and State Street, and rush hour restrictions in the Loop that has caused the most protest from drivers. At a joint City Council hearing Tuesday with the committees on License and Consumer Protection and Transportation and Public Way, many drivers testified that the bans would put a big dent in their finances, as downtown is not only where many of their patrons are, but it&rsquo;s where they want to be dropped off.</p><p>&ldquo;What health risk to pedicabs pose? What causes more traffic congestion - a double parked limousine? A 50 foot bus making a turn? Or a pedicab in a bike lane? Pedicabs should be part of the solution and not banned from downtown,&rdquo; Chicago Rickshaw owner Robert Tipton said.</p><p>Nikola Delic, owner of Nick&rsquo;s Pedicabs, is one of many drivers that argued that the ordinance discriminated against pedicab drivers.</p><p>&ldquo;If the horse carriages and cab drivers can pick up their fares in the downtown district, I don&rsquo;t see why the pedicabs wouldn&rsquo;t be able to do the same thing,&rdquo; Delic said. &ldquo;Because horse carriages are blocking the same amount of traffic as one pedicab [and] they&rsquo;re moving slower.&rdquo;</p><p>Drivers submitted a petition Tuesday with over 500 signatures. It requests that aldermen take the entire street restriction section out of the ordinance.</p><p>Tunney has said that he&rsquo;s open to changing portions of the ordinance, but the street ban is off the table.</p><p>&ldquo;The ordinance, I believe, will help legitimize the industry, increase public safety and improve the flow of traffic on our congested streets,&rdquo; Tunney said at the hearing. &ldquo;There are...many good and safe operators but we&rsquo;ve certainly had a few problems that this ordinance is designed to address.&rdquo;</p><p>Commissioner Luann Hamilton from the Chicago Department of Transportation said the department would support reducing the restrictions, and they aren&rsquo;t concerned by pedicabs riding on those streets.</p><p>Another sticking point for drivers is a rule that would cap at 200 the number of registered pedicabs allowed in the city. Drivers contest that this rule will kill off jobs, and that 200 is an arbitrary number, as there&rsquo;s no official measure for the number of pedicabs driving around the city. The ordinance would allow for the number to be changed by the licensing commissioner.</p><p>The ordinance sailed through the joint committee vote, with only two &quot;no&quot; votes from Ald. Ariel Reboyras and Ald. Brendan Reilly. Penalties for violating the act could range anywhere from $100 to $5,000, depending on the violation or number of infractions.</p><p>Other pieces of the ordinance:</p><ul><li>Drivers would have to get a doctor&#39;s note stating they&rsquo;re capable to operate a pedicab and pass a geography exam before receiving their &ldquo;pedicab chauffeur license&rdquo;</li><li>All drivers must be 18 or older</li><li>Pedicab operators must have a valid automobile driver&rsquo;s license - from Illinois or another state</li><li>Pedicabs aren&rsquo;t allowed on sidewalks</li><li>Pedicabs are only allowed to carry four passengers</li></ul><p>Tunney&rsquo;s ordinance does not set fares for pedicabs, regulate where they are able to park or designate certain places they can hang out and wait for fares.</p><p>If the ordinance passes the full City Council Wednesday, the new rules and regulations would take effect by June.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-23d1776b-b381-d33a-af9d-cc36336fa4bd"><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Wed, 30 Apr 2014 11:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-rules-road-possible-chicago-pedicab-drivers-110106 Chicago's e-cigarette crackdown is officially underway http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-e-cigarette-crackdown-officially-underway-110101 <p><p>The city of Chicago&rsquo;s crackdown on electronic cigarettes officially begins Tuesday.&nbsp;</p><p>E-cigarettes, or vape pens, allow users to puff on nicotine vapor rather than real tobacco smoke. The Chicago City Council passed an ordinance in January that regulates the pens just like any other tobacco product. From now on, smokers won&rsquo;t be allowed to use any of these devices in the workplace or any enclosed public places like bars, restaurants, stores or sports venues.</p><p>The city policy also bans the distribution or sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and requires that stores keep them behind the counter, rather than out on the sale floor.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed the measure, and has been pushing restrictions on all forms of cigarette smoking - including boosting the cigarette tax and putting a prohibition on selling flavored tobacco products within a 500 feet of a school.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been a long line of activities to protect our kids from both tobacco products, and more importantly, from the tobacco companies seeing [kids] as part of their bottom line. And they&rsquo;re not,&rdquo; Emanuel told WBEZ.&nbsp;</p><p>Opponents - including some aldermen - say e-cigarettes are safer than regular tobacco-burning cigarettes, and can actually help people quit.</p><p>The Food and Drug Administration issued a proposal last week that would extend the agency&rsquo;s tobacco authority to cover e-cigarette products, which would restrict companies from giving out free samples. It would also impose minimum-age and identification restrictions on e-cigarettes and keep them out of vending machines (unless they&rsquo;re in a facility that never admits kids) but it stopped short of regulating advertising.The proposed rule is now under a public comment period.</p><p>Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Public Health, said the proposal is a good first step--and a step in the right direction--but the city&rsquo;s ordinance goes even farther.</p><p>Choucair said if anyone sees people smoking e-cigarettes in Chicago where they&rsquo;re not supposed to, they can call 311 to file a complaint.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Flaurenchooljian&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHdY9Bg1Uv8cPtNPU3NCg2qmAExsQ">@laurenchooljian</a>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 17:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-e-cigarette-crackdown-officially-underway-110101