WBEZ | Scott Waguespack http://www.wbez.org/tags/scott-waguespack Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sheriff Dart to investigate unlicensed rehab centers http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-dart-investigate-unlicensed-rehab-centers-111938 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/pr follow.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is vowing to investigate whether unlicensed rehab centers in Chicago are breaking any criminal laws.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-rico-exports-its-drug-addicts-chicago-111852">As WBEZ recently reported</a>, some of the people who end up at these unlicensed residences are heroin addicts who are sent to Chicago from Puerto Rico. &nbsp;They are told to expect well-appointed treatment centers with nurses and pools. Instead they often wind up in rundown residences, and when they don&rsquo;t get the care they need, some of them end up homeless or in jail.</p><p>Dart said he was disgusted to learn of the practice.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/puerto-rico-exports-its-drug-addicts-chicago-111852">Puerto Rico exports its drug addicts to Chicago</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no one in good conscience on the other end, in Puerto Rico, who could say they&rsquo;re doing anything other than dumping hapless people in a foreign country,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;These folks are being misled at best &hellip; and the places they&rsquo;re being steered to, you wouldn&rsquo;t send anybody to in good conscience.&rdquo;</p><p>At least two people mentioned in WBEZ&rsquo;s recent story wound up in Cook County Jail.</p><p>Dart said one of the men, who used the alias Manuel, spent 50 days in the jail, for a cost to taxpayers of more than $7,000.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s expensive because once they find there&rsquo;s no services here, it&rsquo;s not as if they just hop back on the plane, no they&rsquo;re-one way tickets. And it&rsquo;s not as if they can go to plan B, there was no plan B. For many of them there&rsquo;s no family around either, so what&rsquo;s going to happen, they&rsquo;re going to end up in our hospitals, they&rsquo;re going to end up in our jails,&rdquo; Dart said.</p><p>While Dart saved his strongest words for those responsible in Puerto Rico, he also said local agencies need to step in.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t imagine there are not some criminal violations that are involved if you purport to be something that you&rsquo;re not and you end up harming people as a result of that,&rdquo; Dart said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re pushing our lawyers that we have in our office to see what it is that we can do.&rdquo;</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/554/not-it">This American Life: Not It!</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>He also thinks other local agencies could do more.</p><p>&ldquo;I understand we are under all sorts of cuts throughout the state and the city and so on, but I thought at a minimum we would be having some cursory analysis of the different types of entities that put themselves out as treatment facilities,&rdquo; Dart said.</p><p>But the state and the city both say they aren&rsquo;t responsible.</p><p>Chicago mayoral spokesman Adam Collins said the city&rsquo;s health department looked into the story and determined that it was a state issue, because the state&rsquo;s Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse is responsible for licensing treatment centers.</p><p>But the director of that department, Theodora Binion, said her department doesn&rsquo;t get involved until someone applies for a license.</p><p>&ldquo;The city has jurisdiction over the actual buildings, what can happen in a building,&rdquo; Binion told WBEZ&rsquo;s <a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/sets/morning-shift-april-23-2015">Morning Shift</a>. &ldquo;Zoning is not our area, nor is the building itself&hellip;. That would come from the city.&rdquo;</p><br /><p>But she said they are &ldquo;hoping to identify&rdquo; the people coming from Puerto Rico so as to help them get proper treatment.</p><p>&ldquo;Even though our jurisdiction &hellip; is fairly limited, we can talk to the people that are there and give them information about how they can get legitimate help,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Some of these residences are in Ald. Scott Waguespack&rsquo;s 32nd Ward.</p><p>Waguespack said such unlicensed, unofficial residences exist in a sort of legal gray area between the city and state. Still, he said the city should be doing more to make sure these places are up to snuff.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s pretty amazing that [the city] would try and push it off on the state,&rdquo; Waguespack said.</p><p>Waguespack said he will look at what is already in the zoning code for ways to &ldquo;rein in these businesses so they can&rsquo;t operate above the law.&rdquo; He also said he would explore ways the city could help the people being sent from Puerto Rico.</p><p>Waguespack also called on state officials to draft a law or policy that allowed Illinois government to regulate the centers.</p><p>While most officials said there is more the city or state could be doing to help, they were especially critical of the government of Puerto Rico for allowing - or even sanctioning - the practice.</p><p>Dart said they were an example &ldquo;of people at their absolute worst.&rdquo;</p><p>In a recent <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/554/not-it?act=1">interview on This American Life</a>, Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla acknowledged his state was giving heroin addicts one-way tickets to Chicago. But he insisted the addicts were getting good treatment here.</p><p>Since it has been revealed that often isn&rsquo;t the case, Padilla thus far has refused to do another &nbsp;interview explaining what he plans to do now.</p><p><em>Adriana Cardona-Maguigad contributed to this story. Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-dart-investigate-unlicensed-rehab-centers-111938 Super PAC brings 'DC-style politics' to local ward races, but to what effect? http://www.wbez.org/news/super-pac-brings-dc-style-politics-local-ward-races-what-effect-111551 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Super PAC thumb.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A well-funded political action committee has sent a fresh round of negative mailers against two of Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s more vocal critics on City Council, but it remains unclear how much of an impact it&rsquo;s having on their local ward races.<br /><br />With city elections less than two weeks away, much has been made of the so-called &ldquo;super PAC&rdquo; created by a longtime aide and supporter of Mayor Rahm Emanuel to bolster his policy agenda.</p><p><a href="http://chicagoforward.org" target="_blank">Chicago Forward</a> is the first political action committee created expressly to funnel unlimited contributions into Chicago municipal races. So far, it has raised roughly $2.6 million from fewer than 50 donors, as it seeks to influence the mayoral election and roughly 20 aldermanic races.</p><p>But to some observers, the super PAC&rsquo;s involvement in often sleepy ward races is a little like bringing a gun to a knife fight.</p><p>&ldquo;Of course Rahm is using this to attack the Progressive Caucus of alderman,&rdquo; said Steve Jensen, an IT consultant and president of the Bucktown Community Organization.</p><p>Jensen&rsquo;s own alderman, Scott Waguespack (32nd), is among the most vocal of the eight Progressive Caucus members in City Council. As a bloc, they often dissent from Emanuel.</p><p>Jensen said he doesn&rsquo;t think it makes sense for a multimillion dollar, outside organization to try its hand in local ward races.</p><p>&ldquo;We can reach constituents more effectively with town hall meetings at the neighborhood level, social media, and a few mailers,&rdquo; Jensen said. &ldquo;And that right there is less than $100 thousand.&rdquo;</p><p>With a highly-coordinated field campaign of volunteers door knocking, phone banking and spreading the word about a candidate, Jensen said a relatively low-budget grassroots campaign could certainly prevail, even when a better-funded super PAC deploys glossy attack mailers.</p><p>That&rsquo;s the main reason Waguespack said he wasn&rsquo;t too concerned with Chicago Forward&rsquo;s negative pieces against him. In fact, at a recent campaign fundraiser at WhirlyBall, he tried to turn the point to his advantage.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know how many of you got the mailer the other day,&rdquo; he said to a seated crowd of supporters. &ldquo;I was the recipient of the first mail piece from the superPAC.&rdquo;</p><p>The mailer blamed Waguespack for keeping potholes in his ward unfilled, because he voted against Emanuel&rsquo;s budget last year (which still passed). Waguespack said the message backfired, because voters know that Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Transportation is responsible for potholes &mdash; not aldermen. CDOT falls under the purview of the mayor.</p><p>&ldquo;I need your support over the next few weeks, phone banking, calling your friends, telling them (to) get out there and vote. This is not going to be an easy election,&rdquo; Waguespack continued. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re throwing millions of dollars at my fellow members.&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, Chicago Forward has spent much more money trying to get Emanuel&rsquo;s city council allies re-elected. John Arena (45th) is the only incumbent who&rsquo;s found himself, like Waguespack, at the receiving end of an attack.</p><p>This week, Chicago Forward blanketed his ward with a negative mailer that claimed Arena would raise taxes. Arena, also a member of the city council&rsquo;s Progressive Caucus, has a record of voting the least with the mayor.</p><p>The injection of an outside player with access to limitless funds worries Waguespack. He accuses Emanuel of using Chicago Forward to bring &ldquo;DC-style politics&rdquo; to Chicago. &ldquo;[He&rsquo;s] using money to stifle any kind of discussion,&rdquo; Waguespack said. &ldquo;Divisive, mean-spirited, bullying-type attitude that he brought with him.&rdquo;</p><p>Rebecca Carroll, the CEO and Chairman of Chicago Forward, says the super PAC&rsquo;s objective is the opposite of that: she claims the group is trying to create consensus around how to deal with city challenges.</p><p>In an email to WBEZ, Carroll wrote, &ldquo;We need strong leaders at city hall who will roll up their sleeves and work as partners with this administration to address these challenges, even if they have differences in opinion or don&rsquo;t always agree with it.&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, in Chicago, very few aldermen ever disagree with the mayor &mdash; city council votes with him <a href="http://pols.uic.edu/docs/default-source/chicago_politics/city_council_voting_records/city-council-report-7-january-2015.pdf?sfvrsn=2" target="_blank">90 percent</a> of the time. So what&rsquo;s the point?</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s aldermen that are being rubber stamps that don&rsquo;t want to be rubber stamps,&rdquo; said Cook County Clerk David Orr. &ldquo;It has a very chilling effect, which is what it is designed to do.&rdquo;</p><p>Orr, a former Chicago alderman, said the purpose of Chicago Forward may not just be to weaken Emanuel&rsquo;s critics in the Progressive Caucus. Instead, it may be a tool to keep Emanuel&rsquo;s allies in check.</p><p>&ldquo;I already have got a lot of alderman that I know darn well tell me one thing in terms of who they&rsquo;re publicly supporting [versus] who they want to support,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So yes, it doesn&rsquo;t always have to be to defeat someone. It can make you worry about being free to speak your mind.&rdquo;</p><p>But if Chicago Forward serves to muzzle some voices, it may also amplify others.</p><p>&ldquo;It distorts things by making the views and opinions basically of the wealthy donors &mdash; gives them an unfairly loud voice in the candidates&rsquo; ears about what policies and positions the candidates should pursue,&rdquo; said David Melton, Executive Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.</p><p>Indeed, Chicago Forward&rsquo;s money is overwhelmingly from super-wealthy power players in the finance industry, with each contributing an average of $53,000.</p><p>&ldquo;And that is not a good thing for our democracy,&rdquo; Melton said.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 12 Feb 2015 12:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/super-pac-brings-dc-style-politics-local-ward-races-what-effect-111551 Aldermen consider campaigns to unseat Emanuel http://www.wbez.org/news/aldermen-consider-campaigns-unseat-emanuel-108932 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FiorettiCROP.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 247px; width: 300px;" title="Ald. Bob Fioretti attends an activist meeting Tuesday night with 10 other aldermen. Afterwards, he and Ald. Scott Waguespack both told WBEZ they are considering runs against the mayor in 2015. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />An activist meeting Tuesday night in Chicago has at least two aldermen talking about trying to unseat Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>Alds. Scott Waguespack (32nd) and Bob Fioretti (2nd) both told WBEZ they are considering running in the 2015 contest.</p><p>&ldquo;When you have times like this, where the policies are so hurtful, people step up sometimes and say, &lsquo;It doesn&rsquo;t matter how much money a candidate has. We&rsquo;ll vote against him,&rsquo;&nbsp;&rdquo; Waguespack said.</p><p>Emanuel thinks it does matter. By September 30, according to his State Board of Elections disclosures, his campaign fund had more than $5.1 million on hand. The election is 16 months away.</p><p>Fioretti said he and Waguespack have no major differences on issues and would not both end up running. Both aldermen publically considered taking on Emanuel in the 2011 election too.</p><p>Tuesday night&rsquo;s meeting, a gathering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, brought out about 1,400 union members and community activists to promote an &ldquo;<a href="http://www.thegrassrootscollaborative.org/takebackchicago">economic-justice platform</a>.&rdquo;</p><p>An umbrella group called the Grassroots Collaborative developed the platform, which includes overhauling state and local tax systems and setting up a Chicago minimum wage of $15 an hour. Other points include opposition to privatizations and school closings.</p><p>Many of the activists who got a chance at the microphone blasted Emanuel. Behind the podium, Waguespack and Fioretti sat in a row of 11 aldermen, mostly members of the council&rsquo;s progressive caucus. Gov. Pat Quinn and several Democratic state lawmakers also attended.</p><p>Noticeably absent was Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Some of her supporters are itching for her to take on Emanuel. But she says she is running for reelection.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 16 Oct 2013 00:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/aldermen-consider-campaigns-unseat-emanuel-108932 Report on alleged misconduct rankles aldermen http://www.wbez.org/news/report-alleged-misconduct-rankles-aldermen-108148 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IG.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The office that investigates claims of misconduct by Chicago aldermen has released a new report, prompting a round of criticism from some members of City Council. The <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/olig/Documents/LIGrpt-Jul2013.pdf">18-page report</a> is the second released by Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan since the city council established that office by ordinance in 2010.</p><p>The report looks at 132 complaints filed between July 2012 and July 2013, of which 25 were investigated. The report elaborates on a handful of complaints in more detail, though no aldermen are named.</p><p>In one case, an alderman allegedly took more campaign donations from a contributor than permitted. Another investigation claims an alderman instructed a police officer to write two traffic summonses to a person who had gotten into a parking dispute with the alderman&rsquo;s sister-in-law.</p><p>Members of the City Council&rsquo;s Progressive Caucus demurred from commenting on specific examples cited in the study, saying they hadn&rsquo;t yet seen the report. Still, several accused Khan of releasing the study to the media before it was available to the public &ndash; a claim that Khan denies.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s got to be coming out of his office,&rdquo; said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), &ldquo;he needs to be more tight-lipped on the approach that he&rsquo;s taking.&rdquo; Several aldermen said they believe Khan&rsquo;s office should be dissolved, and that aldermanic oversight could be given to City Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, who already has jurisdiction over city employees.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s interesting that they&rsquo;re focused more on the confidentiality and the city inspector general office rather than the substantive facts of these reports,&rdquo; Khan told WBEZ Monday.</p><p>Council members specifically declined to comment on one <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/22901456/ald-joe-moore-accused-of-ethics-violations-by-ig-inspector-general#ixzz2ZoIAqPln">alleged abuse of power</a> that <a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2013/07/21/reform-ald-joe-moore-caught-ethics-probes">WTTW&rsquo;s &ldquo;Chicago Tonight&quot;</a> first reported on Sunday. In the story &lsquo;multiple sources&rsquo; named Joe Moore (49th) as the alderman who allegedly allowed campaign work to be done from his ward office, then paid off a former aide to stay silent about it.</p><p>First elected to the City Council in 1991, the reform-minded North Side alderman fired off a written statement on Monday denying any such misconduct. It said &ldquo;the issues involved were personnel matters--not political ones&rdquo; and came from a &ldquo;disgruntled former employee.&rdquo; Khan&rsquo;s office was &ldquo;run amok with a lack of professionalism...&rdquo; the statement continued, and according to Moore never interviewed him about the allegations.</p><p>Khan declined to confirm or deny the identity of any of the aldermen in the report.</p><p>The Office of the Legislative Inspector General has been criticized in the media for its expenditures, but in the newly-released report, Khan says his office has hired five part-time employees to help carry the workload. Their investigations now go to the city&rsquo;s Board of Ethics.</p><div><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></div></p> Mon, 22 Jul 2013 17:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/report-alleged-misconduct-rankles-aldermen-108148 Emanuel's budget receives unanimous support http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-17/emanuels-budget-receives-unanimous-support-94134 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-17/Rahm Inauguration - wbez Bill Healey.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s budget received unanimous support from the City Council Wednesday. After more than a month of vetting and tweaking, he got all 50 aldermen on board. With a $636 million deficit on the horizon, the council had to make some difficult decisions to right its course. <a href="http://ward32.org/" target="_blank">Ald. Scott Waguespack</a> hoped to avoid cuts to libraries and mental health services. However, the approved budget has about 180 fewer library employees and a dozen mental health clinics will be consolidated to six. To unpack the approved budget, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> spoke to Ald. Waguespack and city budget director Alexandra Holt.</p><p><em>Music Button: The Budos Band, "His Girl", from the album II (Daptone)</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 17 Nov 2011 15:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-17/emanuels-budget-receives-unanimous-support-94134 Majority of aldermen call for budget changes http://www.wbez.org/story/majority-aldermen-call-budget-changes-93680 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-21/CPL books.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A majority of Chicago's aldermen are calling for changes to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2012 city budget. They say his proposed budget cuts would hurt public safety and quality of life.</p><p>Twenty-eight of the city's 50 aldermen signed the letter to Mayor Emanuel.&nbsp; They say his plan to cut library hours would cause too many layoffs and negatively effect patrons who rely on the library.</p><p>"We're hearing it loud and clear, all across the city, from the West Side to the East Side to the North Side to the South Side," said Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd). "Everybody's complaining about the cuts."</p><p>Fioretti said cutting library hours, as mayor Emanuel has proposed, would hurt kids and people who use the internet to search for jobs.</p><p>In addition to the library cuts, the 28 aldermen voiced other concerns.</p><p>The current budget proposal also consolidates 12 mental health clinics into six, and privatizes some health services. Aldermen say public clinics are vital for Chicago's neediest and must be protected.</p><p>Other concerns include the $10 million cut from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. That would eliminate fire and police dispatcher positions - and, aldermen say, endanger public safety.</p><p>The bloc says they also "have reservations" about the proposed near doubling of the fee for city stickers on SUVs. But aldermen recognize that the 2012 budget won't avoid cuts entirely, said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th).</p><p>"'Cause somethin' have [sic] to give. And we're rational enough to understand that. But we just wanna see if we can balance the burden out a little bit more," Burnett said.</p><p>Meanwhile, Mayor Emanuel said he remains open to changing his proposed budget, as long as alderment identify other cuts or revenue sources to offset the ones they don't like.</p><p>"I hear them. It doesn't mean I agree. But it doesn't mean I disagree," Emanuel said. "And as I always said, not all signatures on a letter are created equal."</p><p><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 02 Nov 2011 11:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/majority-aldermen-call-budget-changes-93680 Who will pay up? Chicago's G8 'challenge' http://www.wbez.org/story/who-will-pay-chicagos-g8-challenge-93418 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-25/RS4481_G8_Reuters_Pasc.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>There's still no word on who will pay for security during the G8 and NATO summits Chicago is hosting next year. The head of Chicago's 911 center said the international meetings will be a "challenge" for all city departments.</p><p>Gary Schenkel told the city council Monday he's been in contact with congressional offices and federal agencies about reimbursement.</p><p>"That question is still to be answered as to the costs, because they will be somewhat substantial," said Schenkel, who is the director of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications. "But there is also an effort underway through the mayor's office to raise funds to help offset those costs."</p><p>Schenkel said it's the city's "desire" to have the costs paid for by the federal government and by private donors.</p><p>Ald. Scott Waguespack said Monday he's concerned the costs will end up falling on taxpayers.</p><p>The G8 and NATO summits will take place in Chicago next May.</p></p> Mon, 24 Oct 2011 21:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/who-will-pay-chicagos-g8-challenge-93418 Chicago aldermen: Who's going to get all those water infrastructure jobs? http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-aldermen-whos-going-get-all-those-water-infrastructure-jobs-93384 <p><p>Chicago aldermen aren't raising much of a stink over Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to boost water fees to pay for new water and sewer lines. But they are concerned over who'll get those construction jobs.</p><p>Ald. Ariel Reboyras said at a city council budget hearing Friday that initially he was skeptical, but now understands the need for a water fee hike. The he asked water commissioner Tom Powers who would be doing the $4.3 billion in work - city crews or outside contractors?</p><p>"It won't be outsourced, is what I'm saying," Reboyras asked. "Some of it I can understand."</p><p>"Yeah, some of it will be [outsourced] and some of it won't be," Powers replied. "It'll be a blend, just like we have now."</p><p>Ald. Scott Waguespack told Powers he hopes that blend includes more city workers than outsiders, especially in a time of high unemployment.</p><p>"It sounds like it's such a massive project that there are really people in the city that could get those jobs," Waguespack said.</p><p>Most city council resistance to Mayor Emanuel's big water proposal has to do with non-profits and churches. Right now most don't have to pay for their water, but if the mayor gets his way, they soon will.</p><p>Several influential aldermen, including Finance Committee Chair Ed Burke, have spoken out against that proposal.</p><p>The Archdiocese of Chicago estimated the fee change could cost its schools and parishes $1.5 million extra per year. Chancellor Jim Lago said the archdiocese is "seriously concerned," given that many city parishes already operate on budgets that are "running on the margin."</p></p> Sat, 22 Oct 2011 00:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-aldermen-whos-going-get-all-those-water-infrastructure-jobs-93384 How transparent is Emanuel's city hall? http://www.wbez.org/story/how-transparent-emanuels-city-hall-90772 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-22/RS235_Rham.looking_getty.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>This week, Rahm Emanuel marks his 100th day as Chicago's mayor. This is an artificial milestone - we know - but one Emanuel himself set before taking office, when he laid out some early goals.</p><p>Among the promises: making city hall more transparent than in the past. And there have been changes, but they haven't all been as dramatic as advertised.</p><p><strong>An agenda with a touch of hyperbole</strong></p><p>Emanuel made the promise during the campaign, in December, when he unveiled what he called his "ethics and good government agenda."</p><p>It aimed, Emanuel said, to "bring a level of transparency and accountability to the city government, reestablishing what I think is very important for the public, i.e. the taxpayers, with city government and those who serve in city government, a level of confidence in the way decisions are being made."</p><p>Emanuel was not the only candidate with a transparency agenda. You don't go far in politics by telling voters to "pay no attention" to what's going on behind "the curtain."</p><p>But he reinforced the open government agenda after he was elected, when he released his <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/Chicago%202011%20Transition%20Plan.pdf">transition report</a>, a first-term to-do list. The document said "transparency" seven times, and "transparent" eight times.</p><p>A whole lot of Emanuel's promises relate to making information available online. Information like, as of last week, the city had 3,337 rodent control requests not yet taken care of, or that - on average - residents are waiting 26 days to get new garbage cans.</p><p>These numbers are available on a <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/progs/transparency.html">transparency web page</a> and a "<a href="http://data.cityofchicago.org/">data portal</a>" that Emanuel's been touting, like in this statement, last week:</p><p>"For the first time, we made everybody's salary public. Today we're going to put online everybody's financial disclosure," Emanuel said.</p><p>A bold announcement, to be sure, but not as bold as you might think.</p><p>Salaries - while now on the city's website for the first time - have not been made "public" for the first time. In the past, they could be requested through the Freedom of Information Act. And financial disclosure forms for city employees were already available online; Mayor Daley did that last year.</p><p>Emanuel made his less-than-accurate pronouncement during a discussion hosted by the <a href="http://www.bettergov.org/newsblogsvideo/bga_live.aspx">Better Government Association</a>. It's one of several internet forums he's taken part in. Earlier this summer he participated in a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxSWhtiQzKU">Facebook town hall</a>, which his administration said allowed him to "engage directly with people across Chicago."</p><p><strong>An at-times tense media relationship</strong></p><p>At least at this point, these new media events don't appear to be replacing the traditional press conferences mayors before him have held. In July, according to his public schedules, Emanuel took questions from reporters at more than a dozen events. And that doesn't include one-on-one interviews he did - though not all went well.</p><p>Emanuel - as I'm sure you know - does not shy from confrontation. Sometimes his responses to reporters’ questions carry more than a hint of condescension, and he will let reporters know when he feels they've crossed the line.</p><p>Last month, Mary Ann Ahern from NBC-5 Chicago pressed Emanuel about where he would send his children to school. With the camera off, <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/When-Rahms-Temper-Made-a-Comeback-125919838.html">things got tense</a>, Ahern recalled on WBEZ's <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-25/where-political-and-personal-spheres-public-figures-overlap-89582"><em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></a>.</p><p>"The mayor stood up and I stood up, and he stood about a half an inch from my face, and began pointing at me and yelling at me, and telling me to leave his children alone and how dare I," Ahern said.</p><p>Coincidence or not, a reporter from a rival TV station later that day reported a scoop: that Emanuel's kids would be attending the University of Chicago Lab School.</p><p>Emanuel's press operation is savvy, and at times, a bit too Washington, D.C. for Chicago reporters. Both his communications director and press secretary came from jobs in the Obama Administration.</p><p>Earlier this summer, the Emanuel team planned a "background" briefing - something common in Washington, but not so at City Hall - about last winter's blizzard response, in which no officials could be quoted directly. Reporters complained, and ended up getting their questions answered at an on-the-record press conference immediately following the briefing.</p><p><strong>Aldermanic expectations</strong></p><p>Transparency issues do not only arise from the media. Aldermen during the Daley Administration often complained they weren't getting their questions answered on big issues.&nbsp;</p><p>So when Emanuel provided them information about why he picked a certain company to get a concessions contract at O'Hare, "a lot of aldermen had never seen so many documents before that were dumped out there," Ald. Scott Waguespack said on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-04/first-100-searching-transparency-city-hall-90112"><em>Eight Forty-Eight</em></a>.</p><p>Waguespack said the Emanuel Administration has, in general, been more open than the Daley one.</p><p>"I think a lot of aldermen kind of looked at that, and said, 'Well, they've spoken to us, they've given us a lot of documents we've never seen before, more transparency than the last 20 years,'" Waguespack said. "But if you're missing the one page that you need, that's not transparency."</p><p>Waguespack claimed he didn't get all the answers he wanted about the O'Hare deal from that pile of documents, so he voted against it. Most of Waguespack's colleagues didn't agree with him. He was one of just three "no" votes.</p><p><strong>A 'junk drawer' of information</strong></p><p>Piles of government documents cover nearly every inch of Tim Novak's office. An investigative reporter for the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em>, Novak broke open the Hired Truck scandal in 2004 that led to the convictions of nearly 30 city employees.</p><p>This past year, he's <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/koschman/index.html">written about</a> how the police investigated a fight - involving a nephew of former Mayor Daley - that led to a death. Novak said that after a while, the Daley administration stopped answering his calls and his emails.</p><p>"The only thing they would respond to were [Freedom of Information Act requests]," Novak said.</p><p>He has had better luck with the Emanuel administration. Novak said he's been able to get interviews with police officials he never would've gotten when Daley was in charge.</p><p>"That being said, the police department seems to only respond to us when the mayor's office tells them to," Novak said.</p><p>Novak relies heavily on public documents for his investigations. So I asked him about all the data the Emanuel administration has put in its online "data portal" - lists of city contracts, lobbyist and budget details.</p><p>Novak said he does find the employee information helpful. But, as a whole, he equated the "portal" with "the junk drawer everyone has in their kitchen, where you can open that drawer and Lord knows what you might find in it, but it's not organized in any particular fashion."</p><p>That is not a universal opinion. The Emanuel administration describes the portal as "easy to use." And it is constantly being updated.</p><p>But Novak is a reporter not easily impressed. And here's the underlying issue: Transparency, he said, is a buzz word these days.</p><p>"And governments don't really want to be transparent, in my opinion," Novak said. "If they were transparent, they would put glass on the back room door, so you could see into the back room. They don't really want you to do that."</p><p>And that's one transparency promise Emanuel has not made.</p></p> Mon, 22 Aug 2011 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/how-transparent-emanuels-city-hall-90772 Oops! County Board incumbent's endorser list shrinks http://www.wbez.org/blog/oops-county-board-incumbents-endorser-list-shrinks <p><img class="size-full wp-image-12173" title="edwin_reyes_8" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//edwin_reyes_8.jpg" alt="Cook County Board Commissioner Edwin Reyes" width="240" height="318" /> A Cook County Board commissioner facing a tough primary challenge has gathered endorsements from some 18 Chicago politicians. Edwin Reyes (8th District), installed by Northwest Side political bosses to an open seat last summer, hopes the endorsements will help him beat back self-styled independent Xavier Nogueras in the February 2 primary. Reyes is running the list on the home page of his <a href="http://reyesforcommissioner.com/">campaign Web site.</a> There's just one problem. Until I called the Reyes campaign late yesterday, the list included a Chicago alderman who had not endorsed the commissioner. The alderman, Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward), says he's "disappointed" and "angry" to hear Reyes has been using his name. He says he didn't know until I told him. The Reyes campaign is apologizing for the "error." A spokesman blames it on the office of the 32nd Ward Democratic committeeman, state Rep. John Fritchey. But Fritchey insists neither he nor his staff had any role.</p> Thu, 21 Jan 2010 06:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/oops-county-board-incumbents-endorser-list-shrinks