WBEZ | Democrats http://www.wbez.org/tags/democrats Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Live Blog: Clinton testifies before the House Benghazi Committee http://www.wbez.org/news/live-blog-clinton-testifies-house-benghazi-committee-113462 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_834504277719.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res450828233" previewtitle="Hillary Clinton arrives to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Thursday."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Hillary Clinton arrives to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Thursday." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/22/gettyimages-493708382_wide-9dd5089fe29f1f6eafa92bc1c6e962dc90ee938b-s700-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Hillary Clinton arrives to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Thursday. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>Today is one of the most important days of Hillary Clinton&#39;s political career, as the Democratic presidential candidate will face grilling for as much as eight hours potentially over the 2012 terror attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, that claimed the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.</p></div></div></div><p>Questions about the attack and whether Clinton, as secretary of state, should have heeded warnings and provided more security for Americans there abroad have been fodder for GOP attacks for some time.</p><p>But the House Select Committee on Benghazi has come under even more political scrutiny lately. Some Republicans &mdash; including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy &mdash; have said the committee succeeded in bringing down the Democratic presidential hopeful&#39;s poll numbers.</p><p>Now, more than ever, Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., will be under pressure to show the legitimacy of the committee&#39;s investigation and purpose.</p><p>Whatever Clinton says, along with how she acts and responds, will be heavily parsed and be even more material for GOP attack ads.</p><p>The committee consists of 12 members &mdash; seven Republicans and five Democrats. Following opening statements by Gowdy and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Clinton will make her opening statements. Then, each member will get 10 minutes to ask questions, per round. But the testimony and questions could go several rounds, meaning that the proceedings may not wrap up until very late.</p><p>NPR&#39;s Tamara Keith has a full preview&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/10/22/450644975/why-the-stakes-are-so-high-for-hillary-clinton-and-the-benghazi-committee">here</a>. We&#39;ll be liveblogging the day&#39;s proceedings until 6 p.m. ET. You can watch the hearings live&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/22/450825144/watch-hillary-clinton-testify-before-house-select-committee-on-benghazi">here</a>.</p><p><strong>10 a.m.</strong>&nbsp;NPR&#39;s Tamara Keith, in the room for today&#39;s hearing, sends this video capturing the frenzy of this morning as Clinton arrives to testify.</p><div id="res450830171"><iframe allowtransparency="true" class="instagram-media instagram-media-rendered" data-instgrm-payload-id="instagram-media-payload-0" frameborder="0" height="755" id="instagram-embed-0" scrolling="no" src="https://instagram.com/p/9JITHEteK0/embed/captioned/?v=5" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 1px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; max-width: 658px; width: calc(100% - 2px); border-radius: 4px; box-shadow: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.498039) 0px 0px 1px 0px, rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.14902) 0px 1px 10px 0px; display: block; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"></iframe></div><p><strong>10:15 a.m.</strong>&nbsp;Chairman Gowdy&#39;s opening statement is largely trying to legitimize the committee&#39;s efforts, which have been under fire and damaged by the GOP suggestions that the committee&#39;s purpose is political.</p><p>Gowdy argues that even though many previous committees have investigated these attacks as well, theirs goes much deeper in scope and is far more comprehensive &mdash; largely because they have her emails from the State Department to peruse. Remember, this is how the scrutiny over Clinton&#39;s private server at State began.</p><p>Still, Gowdy tells Clinton &quot;let me assure you&quot; this investigation is not about her. &quot;This investigation is about four people who were killed representing our country on foreign soil. It is about what happened before, after and during the attacks that killed them. It is about what this country owes to risk their lives to serve it. And it is about the fundamental obligation for the government to tell the truth always to the people.&quot;</p><p>As for her emails, which Gowdy calls &quot;an unusual email arrangement,&quot; Gowdy again argues that &quot;not a single member of this committee signed up to investigate you or your email.&quot;</p><p>His closing: &quot;We are going to find the truth because there is no statute of limitations on the truth.&quot;</p><p><strong>10:30 a.m.&nbsp;</strong>As much as Gowdy&#39;s opening statement was about legitimizing the committee&#39;s efforts, Cummings&#39;s remarks are about de-legitimizing it. Very forcefully, the Democrat decries the committee&#39;s existence &mdash; &quot;with no rules, no deadline, and an unlimited budget....set loose on Secretary Clinton because she is running for president.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Clearly, it is possible to conduct a serious, bipartisan investigation. What is impossible is for any reasonable person to continue denying that Republicans are squandering millions of taxpayer dollars on this abusive effort to derail Secretary Clinton&#39;s presidential campaign,&quot; said Cummings.</p><p>He concludes that none of her emails or documents &quot;show any nefarious activity.</p><p>In fact, it&#39;s just the opposite. The new information we have obtained confirms and corroborates the core facts we already knew from the eight previous investigations. They provide more detail, but they do not change the basic conclusions.&quot;</p><p><strong>10:45 a.m.</strong>&nbsp;The biggest difference between Clinton&#39;s opening statement and the fiery rhetoric and verbal barbs of Gowdy and Cummings &mdash; tone. Clinton begins her testimony very reserved and soft, striking a very reverent when talking about what happened and those who were killed.</p><p>&quot;I am here to honor the service of those four men...and the work their colleagues do every single day all over the world,&quot; she says.</p><p>She defends the work that Stevens and other did in Libya, and the dangers that foreign service officers encounter every day: &quot;America must lead in a dangerous world, and our diplomats must continue representing us in dangerous places....Retreat from the world is not an option. America cannot shrink from our responsibility to lead.&quot;</p><p>She also pivots to other attacks that took American lives &mdash; most notably, on 9/11. &quot;Part of America&#39;s strength is we learn, we adapt and we get stronger.&quot;</p><p>She also notes that recommendations from the Accountability Review Boards are being implemented after Benghazi &mdash; but that those for more training facilities before going into the field are being held up by Congress.</p><p>And a nod to her own White House hopes, perhaps: &quot;We need leadership at home to match our leadership abroad....We should resist denigrating the patriotism or loyalty with whom we disagree. So I am here.&quot;</p><p><strong>10:55 a.m.</strong>&nbsp;Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., presses Clinton on whether the U.S.&#39;s Libya policy was driven by her. &quot;Our Libya policy couldn&#39;t have happened without you, because you were its chief architect,&quot; he tells her. She turns it back to pointing out it is the White House, not her, that drove foreign policy.</p><p>But the most notable, and most memorable, exchange between the two is when Roskam, twice, lectures her for looking at her notes. &quot;I can pause while you&#39;re reading your notes,&quot; he tries to chastise her. Clinton&#39;s retort: &quot;I can do to things at once.&quot;</p><p><strong>11:05 a.m.</strong>&nbsp;Cummings again largely gives Clinton cover, asking her about the process for security and pointing to other partisan attacks on Clinton over Benghazi, like hearings led by former House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. Cummings: &quot;The problem is that Republicans keep asking the same question over and over again and pretend they don&#39;t know the answer.&quot;</p><p><strong>11:15 a.m.</strong>&nbsp;NPR&#39;s Will Huntsberry, also in the room for the hearings, notes this exchange, about Ambassador Stevens: &quot;Clinton says Chris Stevens volunteered for his mission and was anxious to undertake it. He was using 19th-century diplomatic techniques more than those of current day, she says. Before more sophisticated communication systems were available, Clinton says diplomats would often operate for months at a time without having communication with State Department. During uprising in Libya, internet and communications were spotty, she says. Stevens would meet with local leaders and make decisions on the ground about how much he could accomplish. His length of stay would be uncertain and based on his own assessment of capabilities on the ground. It was &#39;hard-nosed&#39; diplomacy, based on building relationships and gathering information, says Clinton. &#39;We all knew this was risky undertaking.&#39;&quot;</p><p><strong>11:25 a.m.</strong>&nbsp;Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., focuses on Clinton&#39;s email habits at state, and brings a prop &mdash; showing the large number of emails Clinton sent about Libya and Benghazi after the attacks versus the much smaller pile she sent before.</p><p>Clinton underscores again that she didn&#39;t receive classified material &mdash; or things that were then classified, some have been classified retroactively &mdash; on her email server. &quot;Most of my work was not done on emails,&quot; she says, also noting that she &quot;did not email during the day&quot; except on rare occasions, because she was busy and didn&#39;t have a computer in her office.</p><p><strong>11:30 a.m.</strong>&nbsp;The Benghazi hearing are also the hottest ticket in the Capitol it seems &mdash; with very limited space. NPR&#39;s Tamara Keith notes that members of Congress from both parties keep coming in to monitor the hearing. But there&#39;s not enough room for them at the reserved members table, so they are sitting in open seats in the public seating area. Issa, the former Oversight committee chairman, was just here, then bailed out &mdash; the seats in the room are pretty uncomfortable and cramped.</p><p><strong>11:35 a.m.</strong>&nbsp;Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., is the only military veteran to question Clinton so far &mdash; she lost both her legs in Iraq when a helicopter she was piloting was downed. She&#39;s also running for Senate this year in one of the top competitive races. Her questioning mainly focuses on the logistics of security and military forces on the ground.</p><p><strong>11:45 a.m.&nbsp;</strong>Rep. Martha Roby&#39;s, R-Ala., line of questioning seemed primed to try to paint Clinton as disengaged, even seeming to suggest Clinton didn&#39;t know about the extent of the U.S. presence there. &quot;Of course I knew we had a presence in Benghazi,&quot; she tells her. She defends the amount of security on the ground, saying it was Stevens&#39;s decision to go to Benghazi and that he had the requisite five members of security, but that &quot;the kind of attack that took place would have been very hard to repel.&quot;</p><p><strong>11:55 a.m.&nbsp;</strong>Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., again gives Clinton cover from Republican attacks, decrying the partisan nature of the committee, which he says has &quot;an obsession&quot; with her emails, per NPR&#39;s Amita Kelly. &quot;Why have we spent the $4.7 million we&#39;ve spent? This committee is simply not doing its job,&quot; noting &quot;we&#39;ve learned nothing we didn&#39;t know already.&quot; When he yields back his time, Chairman Gowdy takes a swing at him, saying he can refer him back to his opening statement detailing their findings.</p><p><strong>12:10 p.m.&nbsp;</strong>Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., peppers Clinton with questions about Stevens&#39;s requests for more security. While he did not have her personal email, he did correspond with other members of her staff, she says. &quot;Yes, he and the people working for him asked for more security. Some of those were approved, others were not. We&#39;re obviously looking to learn what more we could do, because it was not only about Bengahzi but it was about the embassy in Tripoli,&quot; Clinton says.</p><p><strong>12:20 p.m.</strong>&nbsp;Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., continues a tough line of questioning about why more security wasn&#39;t provided per Stevens&#39;s request. He also focuses on why no one was held accountable for the intelligence failures. She says that in the review, no breach of duty was found in the review.</p><p>He also focuses in on the role of &quot;frequent emailer&quot; Sidney Blumenthal &mdash; a longtime adviser to the Clintons. She says he was just passing along information, but Republicans are trying to make him the bogeyman of hearings and show Clinton was relying on political advisers, not foreign policy advisers.</p><p>Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., picks up the questioning next and gives a lot of cover to Clinton, throwing her softball questions to let her &quot;debunk myths&quot; on the Blumenthal allegations, saying she received intelligence from many people, including Stevens himself. She also plays a clip of this past weekend&#39;s &quot;Meet the Press&quot; on NBC, when Pompeo repeated his allegations that Blumenthal was her primary source on Libya. Andrea Mitchell jumps in, telling him she covers the State Department day in and day out, and that is factually inaccurate. It&#39;s something the Washington Post&#39;s fact-checker (who&#39;s getting a lot of love from Democrats today) also&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/10/20/the-false-claim-that-clinton-relied-on-sid-blumenthal-for-most-of-her-intelligence-on-libya/">debunked</a>, giving it four Pinocchios.</p><p><strong>12:45 p.m.&nbsp;</strong>Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has perhaps the toughest line of questioning of Clinton so far &mdash; pressing her on why she and other administration officials at first insinuated the attack in Benghazi was spurred by an offensive video instead of being a terrorist attack. She answers that her mention of the video at first was trying to quell attacks in other places that were being influenced by the video. Clinton also pushes back that her moves were designed to help the president, with these attacks coming less than two months before the 2012 election.</p><p>Bloomberg&#39;s Josh Rogin notes that this exchange gives us two new bits of information about the timeline over the video in the immediate aftermath &mdash; she had&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/joshrogin/status/657235227111247873">told</a>&nbsp;the Egyptian Prime Minister the day after that the attacks had nothing to do with the video, but was a &quot;planned attack,&quot; per her emails, and also that she had&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/joshrogin/status/657235703412236288">emailed</a>&nbsp;her family that night, telling them that the attackers were from a group similar to al-Quaeda.</p><p><strong>1 p.m.&nbsp;</strong>Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the final questioner in this first round, again attacks Republicans for making the committee a political one, saying the only reason Clinton is even here because a Stop Hillary PAC pressed for her to appear.</p><p>His questioning of her gives her a chance to have perhaps her most memorable moment so far. When asked if the allegations are painful to her, Clinton becomes very quiet and thoughtful. &quot;I would imagine I&#39;ve thought more about what happened than all of you put together,&quot; she tells the committee. &quot;I&#39;ve lost more sleep than all of you put together. I&#39;ve been racking my brain about what more could have been done or should have been done.&quot;</p><p><strong>1:05 p.m.</strong>&nbsp;Rounding out the first round, Chairman Benghazi snips back at Schiff&#39;s allegations that Republicans are prosecuting her. He underscores there are many more witnesses to hear and no one has reached any conclusions again. He also brings back up Blumenthal, trying to show how influential he was to Clinton given his many emails, and also noting that he worked for liberal groups like Media Matters and Correct the Record, a group supporting Clinton. She says many of the emails were unsolicited, and she passed along some of those emails, and others she did not.</p><p><strong>1:15 p.m.&nbsp;</strong>The biggest fireworks of the day so far aren&#39;t between Clinton and any committee member &mdash; Gowdy vs. Cummings that got very heated, very quickly. The two are arguing again over Blumenthal &mdash; Cummings is insisting that his testimony before the committee be released and says, per a parliamentary maneuver, he can move for it to be done right now; Gowdy disagrees. It&#39;s clear that Blumenthal has become the biggest flashpoint &mdash; and before Gowdy abruptly breaks he says there will be much more about him during the next round. They weren&#39;t even questioning Clinton at the end &mdash; and per people in the room on social media, Clinton looked perfectly gleeful that the whole affair had devolved into screaming and mudslinging.</p><p>And with that, we&#39;re on a lunch break. We&#39;ll return with the next round of questioning soon.</p><p><strong>2:15 p.m.</strong>&nbsp;Testimony is about to resume, but during the break NPR&#39;s Will Huntsberry sends over this tidbit: &quot;When the hearing took its first break, Clinton shook hands with some congressmen and well-wishers among the crowd. Speaking to one person she said, &#39;I tried to meditate during the breaks,&#39; presumably referring to long stretches where committee members were talking.&quot;</p><p><strong>2:21 p.m.</strong>&nbsp;Round 2 is off. First act: They vote on whether to release the transcripts of Sidney Blumenthal&#39;s testimony &mdash; what the tiff between Gowdy and Cummings was just before the break. It&#39;s shot down along party lines, 7-5, but not before a near miss. Westmoreland, R-Ga., at first votes yes before Gowdy nudges him that it&#39;s supposed to be a no vote.</p><p><strong>2:35 p.m.&nbsp;</strong>Gowdy opens the second round by, as promised, peppering Clinton with more questions about her emails from Sidney Blumenthal. His, and other GOP, objections, boil down to this &mdash; Blumenthal could reach Clinton on her personal email while Ambassador Stevens could not. Gowdy characterizes his correspondence as &quot;meaningless political advice&quot; and &quot;insults of people you worked with.&quot; Clinton again underscores that he was not an adviser. Stevens&#39; security concerns were channeled through the appropriate people, she says. During questioning later from Democratic Rep. Sanchez, she notes that Stevens never asked her for her personal email &mdash; but if he had, she would have given it to him.</p><p><strong>2:40 p.m.&nbsp;</strong>Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul tweets this, seemingly bolstering Clinton&#39;s claims. Democratic Rep. Smith brings it up later in his testimony.</p><p><strong>3:05 p.m.</strong>&nbsp;Republican Rep. Brooks points out that the committee still doesn&#39;t have a full picture of Stevens via his emails, because they only have copies of hers and ones of his forwarded to her. Democratic Rep. Smith turns back to the Democratic chorus: this is a partisan prosecution, seemingly apologizing to her for it, saying there will be plenty of time to do that in the coming presidential campaign. &quot;Right now this committee is not doing a service to the four people who died or their families.&quot;</p><div id="res450906053"><iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" class="twitter-tweet twitter-tweet-rendered" data-tweet-id="657264938210185216" frameborder="0" id="twitter-widget-0" scrolling="no" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 10px 0px; padding: 0px; border-style: none; border-width: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; width: 500px; position: static; visibility: visible; display: block; height: 203.766px; max-width: 500px; min-width: 220px;" title="Twitter Tweet"></iframe></div><p><strong>3:15 p.m</strong>.&nbsp;Clinton is now describing, in pretty stark detail, about the night of Sept. 11, 2012, and how Stevens and diplomat Sean Smith died. Despite retreating to a safe room in the nearby CIA annex, they still were not safe from the attack because they eventually died from smoke inhalation. &quot;This was the fog of war,&quot; Clinton says.</p><p><strong>3:25 p.m.</strong>&nbsp;GOP Rep. Pompeo back to questioning, trying to establish the close relationship Clinton had with Blumenthal as compared to Stevens. &quot;Did he have your cell number? Your home address? Your fax?&quot; he asks her. The answer to all, no.</p><p><strong>3:35 p.m.&nbsp;</strong>A good point from CNN&#39;s Manu Raju on Democratic Rep. Duckworth&#39;s questions so far &mdash; Democrats are making partisan jabs at every turn, but she has focused on facts and asked specifics. She&#39;s also the only one who is running in a tough Senate race next year.</p><p><strong>3:50 p.m.&nbsp;</strong>Just before a break for votes, much of GOP Rep. Roskam&#39;s questions focused on an&nbsp;<a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/242982-email-calls-clinton-public-face-of-us-effort-in-libya">April 2012 memo</a>&nbsp;that her top aide Jake Sullivan had drafted &mdash; before the Benghazi tragedy &mdash; calling Clinton &quot;the public face of the U.S. effort in Libya&quot; and points to the appointment of Stevens along with her role in removing dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Roskam accuses her of trying to milk the situation for political gain and to get favorable press &mdash; which is pretty much what every politician&#39;s press office does, and memos like this are routine. She says it was drafted to aid an article a reporter was writing. But Roskam says it&#39;s the personification of what he calls the Clinton Doctrine: Seizing an opportunity &quot;to turn progress in Libya into a political win for Hillary, and at the precise moment things look good to take a victory lap.&quot;</p><div id="res450924939"><iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" class="twitter-tweet twitter-tweet-rendered" data-tweet-id="657278464005963776" frameborder="0" id="twitter-widget-1" scrolling="no" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 10px 0px; padding: 0px; border-style: none; border-width: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; width: 500px; position: static; visibility: visible; display: block; height: 203.766px; max-width: 500px; min-width: 220px;" title="Twitter Tweet"></iframe></div><p>The committee has now taken a brief recess for House votes, and is expected to return around 4:30 p.m. We&#39;ll be back then.</p><p><strong>5:15 p.m.&nbsp;</strong>Votes took a bit longer than expected and didn&#39;t resume until just after 5 p.m. From there, GOP Rep. Roby picked back up the questioning, asking Clinton about $20 million designated for Libyan security, and why that wasn&#39;t used to provide more diplomatic security, if Stevens and others had indicated it was needed. Clinton said they asked Congress for additional money but that request was not fulfilled; Congress, she says, has since provided more.</p><p><strong>5:25 p.m.&nbsp;</strong>Ranking member Cummings is next, and he again uses his time to hammer home that the committee is political and unnecessary. He shows a clip to his old nemesis, former Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa.</p><p>Also, Clinton is talking again about a controversial anti-Muslim video that, at first report, seemed to be the cause for the protests in Benghazi. Asked why she didn&#39;t correct it elsewhere, she underscores that the video was still spurring protests in other places and still provided a security threat and needed to be disproved.</p><p><strong>5:35 p.m.</strong>&nbsp;GOP Rep. Westmoreland asks, as to Clinton&#39;s earlier statement that she&#39;s been kept up at night as to what she could have done differently to prevent the Benghazi attacks. Her answer: militia engaged by CIA &amp; State Dept. could have been more reliable.</p><p><strong>5:45 p.m.</strong>&nbsp;Republicans voted down earlier allowing the testimony of the much-discussed Sidney Blumenthal into the public record, but Democratic Rep. Schiff tries to find a way around that by characterizing the types of questions the committee asked him.</p><p>Per his recounting: Republicans asked him 50 questions about the Clinton foundation, but only four about security in Benghazi; there were 270 questions about his business interests in Libya; and 40 questions about Media Matters/Clinton ally David Brock but none about Ambassador Stevens and other U.S. personnel in Libya.</p><p>With the time spent on Blumenthal, Schiff says, &quot;you&#39;d think he was in Benghazi, manning the barricades.&quot;</p></p> Thu, 22 Oct 2015 10:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/live-blog-clinton-testifies-house-benghazi-committee-113462 Cook County Democrats choose not to endorse in two big races http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-democrats-choose-not-endorse-two-big-races-112687 <p><p>Anybody who thinks the old way of Chicago politics is fading, hasn&rsquo;t been by the Erie Cafe this week.</p><p>All day Tuesday, and most of the day Wednesday, 80 Cook County Democratic heavyweights &mdash; including familiar names like Burke, Madigan and Berrios &mdash; came together to eat donuts, drink coffee and battle it out over which candidates deserve the party&rsquo;s endorsement&nbsp;for the upcoming March 2016 primary.</p><p>This time around, the party decided not to endorse in two big races: Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney and the U.S. Senate, currently occupied by Republican Senator Mark Kirk.</p><p>The committeemen set up shop in an actual back room at the Erie Cafe, after many years at Hotel Allegro &mdash; word is, the old spot raised its rates. The leaders of the party sit at a table covered with a white tablecloth, with procedural books on Robert&rsquo;s Rules of Order and the Chicago election code in arm&rsquo;s reach.</p><p>The room was smoke free, though someone passed around wrapped cigars at one point.</p><p>Candidates sit outside the meeting room like students waiting outside the principal&rsquo;s office. They&rsquo;re called to the podium one by one, where they stump for jobs like Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner.</p><p>The names on this years ballot range from the not-very-well known, like Wallace Davis III, to the incredibly familiar, like former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, who is now running for a two-year term as a water district commissioner.</p><p>A few committeemen stood up to praise Stroger &mdash; Alderman Walter Burnett said Stroger had received a &ldquo;bum wrap and deserves another opportunity&rdquo; &mdash; but in the end, the party decided to endorse tech entrepreneur Tom Greenhaw instead.</p><p>It&rsquo;s no secret that a lot of committeemen already know who they&rsquo;ll back before they walk into the slating meeting, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean the candidates don&rsquo;t take the process seriously.</p><p>On Tuesday, one candidate arrived at the podium, red in the face with nerves. Another brought up a bright magenta note card with a huge smiley face on it, to correct what she called her &ldquo;Resting B-face. I have a not-friendly resting face.&rdquo;</p><p>But a lot of the real action happens after the speeches, behind a thick wooden door, where committeemen defend their picks to their colleagues. One aldermen left Tuesday&rsquo;s closed session muttering under his breath that he fought like hell.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/219999051&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><p>This year, much of the back and forth was about the candidates for Cook County&rsquo;s State&rsquo;s Attorney and U.S. Senate. While there are four candidates for State&rsquo;s Attorney, committeemen said the room was split between incumbent Anita Alvarez and Kim Foxx, former Chief of Staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.</p><p>In the Senate race, five candidates were vying for the party&rsquo;s endorsement. U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth tried to convince members that she was their best hope at unseating Republican Senator Mark Kirk.</p><p>&ldquo;I take a lot of his positives off the table and focus it on the issues. He&rsquo;s not going to be able to rest on his military record with me,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s not gonna be able to play the sympathy vote and say &lsquo;you know, because I recovered from my illness, I understand better what it&rsquo;s like for people to recover.&rsquo; Well, I can talk about recovery and I can say then, &lsquo;why do you want to cut back on Medicaid and Medicare?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Another familiar candidate, Andrea Zopp, former head of the Chicago Urban League, told committeemen that she had the best chance of reaching voters all across the state.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m the only candidate with the resources that will be there to bring out minority voters, to get them excited into this race we need them for all of our ticket,&rdquo; Zopp said.</p><p>But in the end, the party decided not to endorse anyone in the Senate race. A party spokesman said that&rsquo;s become more common lately, as more and more candidates figure out the best ways to lobby committeemen before the meetings begin.</p><p>But one Chicago ward committeeman said he&rsquo;s concerned over the trouble this could cause for Democratic fundraising for the upcoming primary, as he said there is a very large &ldquo;elephant in the room&rdquo; through all of these election discussions: The seemingly infinite financial resources of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Full Cook County Democratic Party Slating</span></p><p><strong>For President of the United States</strong>: the party endorsed Hillary Clinton</p><p><strong>For Illinois State Comptroller</strong>: the party endorsed Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza</p><p><strong>U.S. Senate</strong>: No endorsement, party votes in favor of open primary</p><p><strong>Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney</strong>: No endorsement, party votes in favor of open primary</p><p><strong>Clerk of the Circuit Court: </strong>the party endorsed incumbent Dorothy Brown</p><p><strong>Recorder of Deeds:</strong> the party endorsed incumbent Karen Yarborough</p><p><strong>Metropolitan Water Reclamation District</strong>: the party endorsed Barbara McGowan, Mariyana Spyropoulos and Josina Morita for six-year terms, and Tom Greenhaw for a two-year term.</p><p><strong>Appellate Court: </strong>the party endorsed Justice Bertina Lampkin and Judge Eileen O&rsquo;Neill Burke. Those selected as alternates were: Associate Judge William Boyd, Judge Raul Vega and Associate Judge Leonard Murray.</p><p><strong>Cook County Board of Review, 2nd District: </strong>the party endorsed Incumbent Commissioner Michael Cabonargi</p><p><strong>Circuit Court Judge</strong>: the party endorsed Judge Alison Conlon, Judge Daniel Patrick Duffy, Judge Rossana Fernandez, Judge Alexandra Gillespie, Maureen O&rsquo;Donoghue Hannon, Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., Brendan O&rsquo;Brien and Judge Devlin Joseph Schoop. Selected as alternates were: Fredrick Bates, Sean Chaudhuri, Patrick Heneghan, Nichole Patton and Peter Michael Gonzalez.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. Follow her</em> <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian"><em>@laurenchooljian.</em></a></p></p> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 17:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-democrats-choose-not-endorse-two-big-races-112687 Hey Gov: An Illinois politics road trip http://www.wbez.org/news/hey-gov-illinois-politics-road-trip-110657 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Bu1yd1ZCcAEYqlk.jpg" alt="" /><p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/hey-gov-an-illinois-politics-road-trip/embed?header=none&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/hey-gov-an-illinois-politics-road-trip.js?header=none&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/hey-gov-an-illinois-politics-road-trip" target="_blank">View the story "Hey Gov: An Illinois politics road trip " on Storify</a>]<h1>Hey Gov: An Illinois politics road trip </h1><h2>WBEZ political reporters Alex Keefe and Tony Arnold took off from Chicago and drove along the Illinois River until the hit the State Fair. All along the way, they stopped to ask people what they want from the next governor. </h2><p>Storified by <a href="https://storify.com/WBEZ">WBEZ</a>&middot; Thu, Aug 14 2014 16:56:40 </p><div>WBEZ&apos;s @akeefe &amp; @tonyjarnold are following the Illinois River to the State Fair, asking citizens what they want from a governor. #HeyGovWBEZ</div><div>Best Game in Town: Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair by WBEZ's Afternoon ShiftThe Illinois State Fair hosts &quot;Governor's Day&quot; today at the fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois. Governor's Day is the traditional rally and picnic for the Illinois democratic party. Tomorrow is Republican Day. The big story is how Governor Quinn has changed the format of today's festivities.</div><div>Gov. Quinn heads to Illinois State Fair to rally his base by WBEZ's Morning ShiftThe Illinois State Fair brings out politicians, special interest groups and voters looking to get some answers from candidates. Incumbent Governor Quinn is following the same pattern as last year and making Wednesday's Governor's Day at the Fair a family event rather than an opportunity to hash out political agendas.</div><div>What Walt Willey, Ottawa #il native and longtime &quot;All My Children&quot; soap star, wants from the next gov http://t.co/IFmdwcg9u9 #heygov @WBEZAlex Keefe</div><div>A brief history of Ottawa, #IL, in mural form. #heygov @ Illinois River, Ottawa IL http://t.co/LpoCI5xsA8Alex Keefe</div><div>.@akeefe is driving me to Springfield. At least if we take a wrong turn I know we have a map. http://t.co/0ZBKrpc8E7Tony Arnold</div></noscript></div></p> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/hey-gov-illinois-politics-road-trip-110657 Top Illinois Democrat missing from party’s big day at State Fair http://www.wbez.org/news/top-illinois-democrat-missing-party%E2%80%99s-big-day-state-fair-108417 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/madigan_1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Illinois Democrats gathered in Springfield Wednesday to rally behind their candidates ahead of next year&rsquo;s election--but they met amidst party infighting, lawsuits and without the state&rsquo;s party chairman.</p><p dir="ltr">Michael Madigan serves as Speaker of the Statehouse and as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois. Yet Madigan did not appear at the state fair Wednesday, a day designed for political events.</p><p dir="ltr">Many Democratic officials seemed surprised - even unaware - that Madigan would not be attending the day&rsquo;s events.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think the Democratic Party is pretty strong here in Illinois and the Speaker has done a very good job in leading the party, so whether he comes to the State Fair or not is not as important,&rdquo; said Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton.</p><p dir="ltr">Meantime, Gov. Pat Quinn wouldn&rsquo;t say much about Madigan&rsquo;s notable absence.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know why he&rsquo;s not here, but I talked to him this week and I think he&rsquo;s fired up, ready to go for 2014,&rdquo; Quinn said.</p><p dir="ltr">A spokesman for Madigan did not return calls for comment.</p><p dir="ltr">The governor was recently sued by Madigan and Cullerton for withholding lawmakers paychecks. Quinn said the action was a consequence of legislators&rsquo; failure to address the state&rsquo;s unfunded pension liability--Madigan and Cullerton called the maneuver unconstitutional. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Meantime, Quinn&rsquo;s primary opponent, Bill Daley, told a room full of Democrats that Quinn doesn&rsquo;t have what it takes to win another election next year.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We will not win if we do not make change,&rdquo; Daley said in his prepared remarks to the party Wednesday morning.</p><p dir="ltr">For his part, Quinn didn&rsquo;t criticize Daley by name, but hinted at upcoming attacks against Daley for his work in the financial sector at JPMorgan Chase.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We had a recession, the Great Recession,&rdquo; Quinn said. &ldquo;There were a lot of millionaire bankers and big shots that caused great harm to the American economy.&rdquo;</p><p>Republicans are scheduled to have their own day of rallies and attacks on Democrats at the Illinois State Fair on Thursday.</p></p> Wed, 14 Aug 2013 16:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/top-illinois-democrat-missing-party%E2%80%99s-big-day-state-fair-108417 With FAA, Democrats lose the sequester battle http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-04/faa-democrats-lose-sequester-battle-106870 <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/RS7216_AP118705097809-scr.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Sequester cuts caused travel delays at airports across the country before Friday's congressional votes. (AP/File)" /></div><p>Not that Democrats have ever been particularly good negotiators, but it&rsquo;s possible President Barack Obama&rsquo;s namby pamby adjudicating may have rubbed off on them, to bad effect.</p><p>Just last Friday, finally given a chance to show their courage in the sequester battle, the Democrats blinked &mdash; hard. by agreeing to a bill that allows the Federal Aviation Administration to bypass, at least for now, sequester-mandated cuts, the Democrats actually agreed to a strategy that basically hands the budget battle victory to the Republicans.</p><p>Do you remember the sequester? It was supposed to be so damn bad both sides in Washington were going to be forced back to the negotiating table, bipartisanship would have no choice but to emerge from the bitter pill of automatic cuts to the federal budget, without regard to need or politics: Head Start, the military &mdash; every favorite program was going to be guillotined.</p><p>When the Republicans didn&rsquo;t fall for that and allowed the sequester to go into effect, the White House &mdash; which unconvincingly disavows the sequester as its idea &mdash; went on a campaign to warn about the hardships the cuts would cause. Things were going to get so bad, we were all going to be really sorry. And, in fact, things were going to get so terribly bad, the people would rise up and blame the GOP and then the Dems would have the upper hand and things would get fixed, probably.</p><p>There&rsquo;s still a <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/sequester" target="_blank">White House page</a> with many dire warnings such as this: &ldquo;Harmful automatic budget cuts &mdash; known as the sequester &mdash; threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform. These cuts will make it harder to grow our economy and create jobs by affecting our ability to invest in important priorities like education, research and innovation, public safety, and military readiness.&rdquo;</p><p>Except it hasn&rsquo;t happened that way. Not that the sequester isn&rsquo;t slicing and dicing: It is. But the very nature of the cuts means the pain is being administered slowly, over a huge swath of programs, and most people haven&rsquo;t seen a big change in their lives post-sequester.</p><p>Still, the damage is real. In Illinois alone, the <a href="http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/politics/sequester-cuts-illinois/309/" target="_blank">sequester affects</a> funding for teachers, funding for special education for kids with disabilities, work study jobs, Head Start programs, child care, vaccines, nutrition programs for seniors, mental health programs, cuts to the FBI, emergency responders, veteran services, senior meals, housing voucher programs, AIDS and HIV services and many more programs.</p><p>So you&rsquo;d think once the cuts actually started to squeeze people in a noticeable way &mdash; like say, hours long delays at the nation&rsquo;s airports because of furloughed air traffic controllers &mdash; that the Dems would turn around and say, &ldquo;See? This is what we mean. And it&rsquo;s going to get worse.&rdquo;</p><p>And then, you know, maybe the Republicans would at least have to explain their position.</p><p>But no. In fact, not at all. The Democrats completed caved. The <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/national_world&amp;id=9079898" target="_blank">vote wasn&rsquo;t even close</a>: unanimous in the Senate and 361 to 41 in the House.</p><p>The Dems agreed to a Republican bill that allows the FAA to shift funds to keep air traffic controllers working, and to keep travelers from being inconvenienced. And in doing so, the Democrats have given the GOP a blueprint on how to get around any other cuts to favored programs they&rsquo;d like to alleviate.</p><p>In other words, the Democrats have given away whatever leverage they might have had had &mdash; especially because Obama has agreed to sign this bill, as is his wont, without concessions (like, say, Head Start in exchange for the air traffic controllers).</p><p>Let me be even clearer: The Republicans have figured out how to save programs important to their relatively privileged constituencies. The Democrats have completely sold their constituencies &mdash; especially the poor, young people, and women &mdash; down the river.</p><p>Obama and the Democrats are back out there now <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/congress-sends-obama-bill-to-end-delays/2013/04/26/27f94706-ae81-11e2-a986-eec837b1888b_story.html" target="_blank">talking</a> about ending the sequester, how it&rsquo;s unfair to this and that program, and that the Republicans need to come back to the negotiating table. But why would be the GOP ever do that?</p><p>The Republicans are enjoying the sequester. It is, after all, what they wanted: cuts to government programs. Sure, they would have preferred more say in what to cut, what to preserve. But in the long run &mdash; in terms of goals &mdash; the sequester, which both parties signed on to as a strategy, is actually doing what the Republicans &mdash; and only the Republicans &mdash; wanted.</p></p> Sun, 28 Apr 2013 16:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-04/faa-democrats-lose-sequester-battle-106870 Indiana Dems stop right-to-work debate http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-dems-stop-right-work-debate-95302 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-04/Indy GOP speaker Brian Bosma.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>It’s a new year with a new legislative session, but an all-too-familiar story is recurring in the Indiana Statehouse, at least from the Republican viewpoint: House Democrats once again held up any work because they oppose a GOP proposal to make Indiana a right-to-work state.</p><p>Wednesday was to have been the start of the new legislative session, but House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) couldn’t even call the session to order. While Republicans were ready and seated, only a few Democrats arrived to the chambers as the roll call was read about 12:30 p.m. CT.</p><p>A Democratic representative told Bosma that the party was caucusing, but something else was actually going on — Democrats were staying away.</p><p>Democratic House leader Patrick Bauer of South Bend described the action as a filibuster, not a protest or a walkout.</p><p>“We refuse to let the most controversial public policy bill of the decade be railroaded through with the public being denied their fair and adequate input,” Bauer said. “What’s the urgency? Are they ignoring the public input? They have not made the case that Indiana is in dire need of an anti-paycheck bill.”</p><p>Bauer said unless GOP leaders agree to hold hearings throughout the state on the right-to-work bill, Democrats won’t be coming back anytime soon.</p><p>“The public needs to be informed. The process [by the Republicans] is to avoid the public,” Bauer said.</p><p>Bauer said the Democrats plan to remain in the Indiana Statehouse, unlike last year, when they fled to Urbana, Illinois. They returned some five weeks later, when Republican leaders abandoned their right-to-work proposals.</p><p>House Speaker Brian Bosma, a Republican, said Democrats shouldn’t expect the same outcome.</p><p>“That was an accommodation that was made last year,” Bosma said. “This is the number one jobs issue that we can address this session and the number one issue is jobs. These are middle class jobs that we’re talking about. It’s about personal freedom.”</p><p>If adopted, right-to-work legislation would prohibit an employer from forcing an employee to pay union dues as a condition of employment if a union is already in place. About two dozen states, mostly outside the industrial Midwest, now have such laws in place.<br> Democrats say the bill would undermine unions that, by federal law, must represent all employees — even ones who are not union members and pay no dues.</p><p>Wedneseday's action drew thousands of pro-union representatives to the Indiana Statehouse, many of whom chanted down Republicans and hailed Democratic efforts.</p><p>“It’s a shame to think that we’re going to lose our benefits and our health insurance,” said Chris Roark, a Teamster union member from Gary, Indiana. “They think this bill is going to help Indiana. It’s not going to help Indiana.”</p><p>Northwest Indiana’s Democratic contingent opposes the bill. They’re joined by at least one Republican House member from the region: Ed Soliday of Valparaiso.</p><p>“I will vote against it,” Soliday told WBEZ. “I don’t see what we get for it. I’m not convinced of what I’ve seen. I don’t provoke labor. There’s no point. I have an honest disagreement with some of my colleagues.”</p><p>Republican Speaker Bosma tried three times Wednesday afternoon to gavel the House into order, but each time no more than five of the 40 Democratic members were on the floor.</p><p>Bosma said he’ll try to have the House meet again Thursday.</p></p> Thu, 05 Jan 2012 01:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-dems-stop-right-work-debate-95302 Indiana lawmakers to debate ‘right to work’ http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-lawmakers-debate-%E2%80%98right-work%E2%80%99-95257 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-03/RS4852_AP120103128050-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Indiana’s legislative session will be short this year —&nbsp;it’s expected to last until March — but judging by the political tone set before the start of the session Wednesday, the debate will be furious.</p><p>The Republican leadership, as well as Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, have already vowed to make so-called right-to-work legislation the centerpiece of their agenda — a move that’s already stirred an uproar among Hoosier Democrats.&nbsp;If approved, the legislation would prohibit companies from making employees pay dues to a union as a condition of employment.</p><p>The GOP attempted to push the issue through the General Assembly in 2010, but Hoosier Democratic state representatives scuttled debate by fleeing Indiana and holing up in Illinois for more than a month.</p><p>Indiana Legislative Insight Publisher Ed Feigenbaum does not expect such a boycott this time.</p><p>“I think there will be a number of parliamentary maneuvers that Democrats will employ that will be to their strategic advantage that will show their displeasure,” he said.</p><p>Those maneuvers could include delays in showing up for quorum calls or otherwise disrupting business without leaving the Statehouse.</p><p>Supporters of current right-to-work proposals say Indiana needs such a law to attract businesses. Democrats say the move is an attempt to hurt organized labor and that such laws in other states have driven down wages.</p><p>Pro-union supporters say they want to get a jump on the debate and are expected to flood the Statehouse Wednesday afternoon, but they may encounter resistance. State police last week announced a new 3,000-person cap on the number of people allowed inside the Statehouse at any given time.</p><p>Unions quickly shot back, calling the limit a move by Daniels’ administration to stifle debate.</p><p>Republican Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman said Tuesday that the rules don’t discriminate against anyone, and that the limit is based on public safety concerns. He added that the limits will be evaluated daily.</p><p>Aside from union legislation, lawmakers are also expected to again consider a statewide smoking ban, legislation that failed to get past the committee level in 2011. Supporters want such a ban to be implemented in time for the Super Bowl, which will be hosted in Indianapolis next month.</p><p>A statewide smoking ban has been sought by Indiana state Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary) for years without success.</p><p>With no budget to approve, this session is considered the “short session” and must be completed by March 14.</p></p> Wed, 04 Jan 2012 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-lawmakers-debate-%E2%80%98right-work%E2%80%99-95257 Indiana likely to revisit divisive ‘Right-to-Work’ debate http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-likely-revisit-divisive-%E2%80%98right-work%E2%80%99-debate-94266 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-22/Indiana union protests - AP Tom Strattman.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Indiana Republicans and Democrats come together Tuesday in Indianapolis for what’s called Organization Day, a kind of symbolic start to the new legislative session that often sets a tone for what’s to come.</p><p>And what’s to come could be more fighting between the minority Democrats and majority Republicans.</p><p>GOP leaders in the both the Indiana House and Senate on Monday announced plans to try to pursue so-called “right to work” legislation. If adopted, the law would stop requirements that force workers to join unions or pay dues as a condition of employment. Similar legislation has caused political uproars in other states, most recently in Ohio.</p><p>“I don’t expect a free-for-all but I do expect an intense debate,” Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said in Indianapolis on Monday. “There are very strongly-held feelings on this (right to work) issue.”</p><p>Democrats fought right to work provisions during the last legislative session. Because they’ve been in the minority in both legislative houses, their most effective tool was to simply be absent from statehouse work. Democrats walked out of the House last spring and didn’t return for five weeks. They spent most of their time at a hotel near Urbana, Ill.</p><p>“We may be in the minority but we have a duty to protect ourselves against the tyranny of the majority,” said House minority leader Patrick Bauer, a Democrat from South Bend.</p><p>Bauer counters Republican claims that such legislation would make Indiana more competitive in luring businesses and jobs to the Hoosier state.</p><p>“This could be the eventual decline and fall of Indiana being an economic, viable state,” Bauer said.</p><p>Bauer would not say whether Democrats would walk out of the upcoming legislative session if right to work legislation is introduced.</p><p>Senate Pro Tem David Long says the legislation is not about getting rid of unions.</p><p>“This effort will not and does not seek to eliminate unions in our state, nor will unions be eliminated in our state,” said Long, a Republican from Fort Wayne.</p><p>The new session begins in January.</p></p> Tue, 22 Nov 2011 04:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-likely-revisit-divisive-%E2%80%98right-work%E2%80%99-debate-94266 What House Speaker Michael Madigan is up to http://www.wbez.org/story/what-house-speaker-michael-madigan-91448 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-02/RS2798_AP080109029993-madigan.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>House Speaker Michael Madigan is one of Illinois' most mysterious politicians. He's so guarded, even his mere utterances can make a big splash.</p><p>Last month was no exception. Madigan raised eyebrows after attending a fundraiser for U.S. House Speaker John Boehner - as in Republican, John Boehner. Then a week later, he skipped the "Democrat Day" rally at the Illinois State Fair.</p><p>So what's the story behind Madigan's recent behavior and what does it mean for the 2012 election cycle? WBEZ's Kristen McQueary, who's been looking into this, talked with Alex Keefe.</p></p> Fri, 02 Sep 2011 11:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/what-house-speaker-michael-madigan-91448 New redistricting lawsuit seeks to restart the whole process http://www.wbez.org/story/new-redistricting-lawsuit-seeks-restart-whole-process-90673 <p><p>The League of Women Voters of Illinois is asking a federal court to order a big change in the highly political, once-a-decade redistricting process. It's the latest suit tied to Illinois' new boundaries for U.S. House and state legislative districts.</p><p>The League last year tried to change how Illinois draws the boundaries, but its petition drive to get a proposal on the ballot came up short. Now the group is asking the courts to get involved.</p><p>In its lawsuit, the League claims its members' First Amendment rights were violated when Democratic leaders took into account party identification while drawing the maps. The lawsuit says this "unlawfully attempt[s] to control or influence the kinds of views, opinions and speech that residents placed in those districts are likely to express or hear or receive."</p><p>Illinois Republicans, who have a lot to lose if the Democratic-drawn maps stand, have also asked the courts to get involved.</p><p>But the League's lawsuit notes both parties have engaged in partisan gerrymandering in the past and wants the court to order a new process driven by "impartial" decision-makers.</p><p>But the League's president, Jan Dorner, acknowledged on that such a change may not be possible before next year's election.</p></p> Wed, 17 Aug 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/new-redistricting-lawsuit-seeks-restart-whole-process-90673