WBEZ | jesse white http://www.wbez.org/tags/jesse-white Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Sheriff slams Secretary of State on driver's license rollout http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-slams-secretary-state-drivers-license-rollout-109216 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MarkCurran.JPG" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 233px; width: 275px;" title="Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran says Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office is dragging its feet on setting up a driver’s license program for immigrants who are in the country illegally. (Photo courtesy of Lake County Sheriff’s office)" />A suburban Chicago sheriff says Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White&rsquo;s office is dragging its feet on setting up a driver&rsquo;s license program for immigrants who are in the country illegally.<br /><br />Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran points out that White&rsquo;s office, which is launching a pilot phase of the program, is scheduling just 120 appointments a day for applicants to present their proof of state residence and take their driving exams.<br /><br />The pilot phase comes almost 10 months after Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a measure making as many as 500,000 immigrants in Illinois eligible for a &ldquo;temporary visitor&rsquo;s&rdquo; license.<br /><br />&ldquo;I would expect this type of a pace if the law passed in Alabama, where we have a hostile immigrant tone,&rdquo; said Curran, a Republican who pushed for the law. &ldquo;But, in Illinois, there was overwhelming support for this legislation.&rdquo;</p><p>White, a Democrat, announced his support for the measure but Curran is questioning the secretary of state&rsquo;s sincerity in light of the law&rsquo;s implementation. &ldquo;Actions sometimes speak louder than words,&rdquo; the sheriff said.<br /><br />Curran says the secretary of state&rsquo;s office should have set up the program faster because many of the immigrants are already behind the wheel. &ldquo;We want people to have taken a driver&rsquo;s test,&rdquo; Curran said. &ldquo;We want people to have insurance. We want people to understand the rules of the road.&rdquo;<br /><br />Henry Haupt, a spokesman for White, bristled at the criticism. &ldquo;It would be irresponsible and reckless for our office to roll out a program of this magnitude statewide without first thoroughly testing it,&rdquo; Haupt said.<br /><br />&ldquo;Keep in mind that the state of California has been given approximately two years to implement [a similar] program,&rdquo; Haupt said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve had to set all of this up without any additional revenue provided by the General Assembly. To just open up facilities throughout the state without testing it and potentially have thousands upon thousands of individuals showing up at facilities wouldn&rsquo;t do anyone any good.&rdquo;<br /><br />Haupt says the appointment scheduling will get faster in mid-December. By February, he said, the secretary of state&rsquo;s office will offer the appointments at 36 facilities statewide.<br /><br />Another suburban sheriff who helped push the measure into law says the pace of its implementation doesn&rsquo;t bother him. &ldquo;If the program is rolling out slower than expected, I would rather see it done slowly and correctly than to push it and have it done fast and mistakes be made,&rdquo; said Kane County Sheriff Patrick Perez, a Democrat.</p><p>But that approach will keep many immigrant drivers unlicensed for months to come. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been in the United States for 23 years,&rdquo; said a stay-at-home mother of Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side who drives her children to school and her father to dialysis appointments. &ldquo;We need that document to live well here,&rdquo; she said, asking that her name not be published.</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> Thu, 21 Nov 2013 13:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-slams-secretary-state-drivers-license-rollout-109216 White: Derrick Smith is 'not welcome on the West Side' http://www.wbez.org/news/white-derrick-smith-not-welcome-west-side-103631 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/white and tyson_121102.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White had some harsh words on Friday for Derrick Smith, a candidate for the state House of Representatives.</p><p>&quot;As far as I&#39;m concerned, he&#39;s not welcome in my organization, he&#39;s not welcome on the West Side and he&#39;s definitely not welcome to represent me in Springfield,&quot; White said.</p><p>White made the comments at a rally for Smith&#39;s opponent in the race, Lance Tyson. Several top elected Democrats from Chicago&#39;s West Side attended the event, including Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Aldermen Walter Burnett (27th) and Jason Ervin (28th).</p><p>White runs a powerful political operation on Chicago&#39;s West Side and he once had gone to bat for Derrick Smith. But earlier this year, Smith was arrested for allegedly taking a $7,000 bribe.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Someone told me that when you take money, make sure you take enough so you can afford a lawyer,&quot; White said to laughter and an &quot;Amen&quot; at the rally.</p><p>Smith has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but that didn&#39;t stop his fellow representatives in the Illinois House from kicking him out in August. But Smith won the primary in this heavily Democratic district, and has been campaigning to regain his former seat.</p><p>Smith said White&#39;s comments don&#39;t bother him.</p><p>&quot;As I&#39;ve been talking to constituents on the West Side, I think they make the decision on who&#39;s allowed on the West Side and who&#39;s not,&quot; Smith said in a phone interview in response to White&#39;s comments. &quot;And they have done so and showed me that I&#39;m welcome in the primary.&quot;</p><p>West Side Democrats, including White, slated Tyson to run against Smith in the general election. But since Smith had already claimed the Democratic primary, Tyson is running as a member of a third party called the Unity Party.</p><p>Despite his arrest, some polls have shown Smith with a sizable lead in the race. The district runs from Garfield Park on Chicago&#39;s West Side to Wicker Park on the northwest side to Lincoln Park on the North Side, a region that heavily supports Democratic candidates.</p><p>Smith has used the Democratic label heavily in his campaigning, saying that he&#39;s the true Democrat in the race since he won the primary. Meantime Tyson has maintained that he&#39;s the real Democrat in the race, since it was Democrats who slated him to run against Smith. There is no Republican on the ballot.</p></p> Fri, 02 Nov 2012 14:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/white-derrick-smith-not-welcome-west-side-103631 Driver licenses for undocumented youths? http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/immigrant%20map.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 369px; width: 600px; " title="WBEZ asked eight states whether they are planning to provide driver’s licenses to immigrants who receive Social Security and employment-authorization cards as a result of President Barack Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” policy. (WBEZ map by Elliott Ramos)" /></p><p>Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are planning to provide driver&rsquo;s licenses to undocumented immigrants who get work papers under a new federal policy.</p><p>The Obama administration policy, called &ldquo;Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,&rdquo; will allow as many as 1.7 million illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children to get Social Security and employment-authorization cards, along with a deportation reprieve. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications Aug. 15.</p><p>&ldquo;As long as the Social Security Administration issues an individual with a Social Security number, and they have the other documents that are required under Illinois law, then they can apply for a driver&rsquo;s license,&rdquo; said Henry Haupt, spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who oversees that state&rsquo;s driver licensing.</p><p>WBEZ surveyed eight Midwestern states about their response to the policy change. Along with the four states planning to provide licenses, Wisconsin and Iowa officials said they had not decided yet, while Minnesota and Missouri officials did not respond to numerous WBEZ inquiries.</p><p>The states planning to issue the driver&rsquo;s licenses differ from Arizona, Nebraska and Texas, where governors have vowed to block illegal immigrants from getting licenses.</p><p>The immigrants must meet several requirements to get the Social Security and work-authorization cards, including having been younger than 31 on June 15; having arrived in the U.S. before turning 16; having lived in the country continuously since June 2007; being a student or graduate, or having served in the military; and having no serious criminal record nor posing any public safety threat. The work authorization will last up to two years and, if the federal policy stays in place, be renewable. The policy does not provide a path to citizenship.</p><p>Assuming some of the immigrants have been driving illegally, states that enable them to get a license could make roads safer. &ldquo;They have to pass the road exam, they have to pass the written exam, and they pass the vision test,&rdquo; Haupt said about Illinois. &ldquo;We require so many different things of our young drivers and &mdash; by doing so &mdash; they, of course, become better drivers.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois also requires proof of liability insurance on the car the driver uses for the road test. So it&rsquo;s possible that allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally could reduce the number of uninsured vehicles.</p><p>The immigrants themselves have more at stake. Karen Siciliano Lucas, an advocacy attorney of the Washington-based Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., points out that driver&rsquo;s licenses are vital for working and attending school in most regions of the country. &ldquo;Not only that, it is a state-issued identification that shows who you are,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The issue is complicated because most states require driver&rsquo;s&nbsp;license applicants to prove &ldquo;lawful status&rdquo; or &ldquo;legal presence&rdquo; in the United States. Officials in some states say the work authorization under the Obama policy will be sufficient proof. But a USCIS statement says the policy &ldquo;does not confer lawful status upon an individual.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s unclear whether courts will enable states to define lawful status differently than the federal government does.</p><p>States expecting Obama administration guidance about the driver&rsquo;s licenses could be waiting awhile. In response to WBEZ questions, the Department of Homeland Security sent a statement saying the department does not comment on state-specific matters.</p><p>Until federal courts weigh in, states are likely to face lawsuits no matter their course. &ldquo;We will see battles on this,&rdquo; Lucas predicted.</p><p>Making matters more complicated is the federal Real ID Act, a 2005 law aimed at fighting identity theft and keeping terrorists out of federal buildings and airplanes. Among other things, the act requires states to verify that driver&rsquo;s license applicants have lawful status in the United States.</p><p>The law is set to take effect in January, but it&rsquo;s not clear how the Obama administration will enforce it. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has fought for the measure&rsquo;s repeal, calling it unworkable.</p><p>That irks advocates for tougher immigration enforcement: &ldquo;If you want to protect against identify theft, you&rsquo;ve got to eliminate the fraud,&rdquo; said Janice Kephart, who focuses on national security policies for the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. &ldquo;That means you have to eliminate the illegal-alien community out of that scheme. It doesn&rsquo;t mean that states cannot give driver&rsquo;s licenses to illegal aliens. It just means that they have to do it outside the Real ID Act.&rdquo;</p><p>Kephart praised Utah, which has created a &ldquo;driving privilege card&rdquo; specifically for undocumented immigrants.</p><p>At the moment the only other states that let undocumented immigrants drive legally are New Mexico and Washington, which provide them the same licenses that U.S. citizens can get.</p></p> Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 Accused lawmaker’s former patron pushes for Illinois House punishment http://www.wbez.org/news/accused-lawmaker%E2%80%99s-former-patron-pushes-illinois-house-punishment-99881 <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/JesseWhite.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 248px; height: 309px;" title="Secretary of State Jesse White says lawmakers aren’t moving fast enough against Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago. (AP file/Seth Perlman)" /></div><p>The former political patron of state Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) says Illinois lawmakers have not moved fast enough to punish him for allegedly taking a bribe.</p><p>Secretary of State Jesse White said Wednesday he was &ldquo;happy&rdquo; a panel of Smith&rsquo;s colleagues had decided to advance a case that could eventually oust him from the House.</p><p>&ldquo;I think there is a price to pay,&rdquo; said White, a longtime 27th Ward committeeman who is backing a third-party candidate in an attempt to unseat Smith in November&rsquo;s election.</p><p>A federal indictment accuses Smith, 48, of accepting $7,000 for supporting a childcare center&rsquo;s application for a $50,000 state grant. The deal turned out to be an FBI sting.</p><p>A seven-page report from a special House committee, a bipartisan panel chaired by Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), says Smith &ldquo;abused the power of his office by participating in a scheme to obtain a personal benefit in exchange for his official acts.&rdquo;</p><p>The disciplinary case now moves to another committee that will decide whether to recommend punishment to the full House. The lawmakers could exonerate, censure, reprimand or expel Smith.</p><p>&ldquo;Personally it saddens me,&rdquo; Nekritz said, &ldquo;to go through this process with one of our members.&rdquo;</p><p>An expulsion would make Smith the first member ousted from the House since 1905, when Frank Comerford (D-Chicago) lost his seat on charges he damaged his colleagues&rsquo; reputations by complaining about corruption among lawmakers.</p><p>Smith&rsquo;s attorney, Victor Henderson, said Wednesday the House should not take evidence from the feds at face value. &ldquo;This is J. Edgar Hoover&rsquo;s FBI,&rdquo; Henderson said. &ldquo;This is the same FBI that wiretapped Martin Luther King.&rdquo;</p><p>Henderson labeled a federal informant at the case&rsquo;s center a &ldquo;con man&rdquo; and said the House disciplinary process was moving forward without enough information. Henderson said the lawmakers should wait for the criminal case to play out.</p><p>Despite the bribery charge, Smith won his March primary in a landslide vote. Ousting him from the House would not remove him from the November ballot or block voters from returning him to the seat.</p><p>In that event, the state constitution would protect Smith from a second expulsion &ldquo;for the same offense&rdquo; but he could apparently face another disciplinary process.</p><p>Nekritz said she and other committee members were pushing for discipline now because they did not know how long the federal prosecution would take. &ldquo;Our duty,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;is to respect and protect the integrity of the House and the members that serve there.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The committee felt unanimously that it was . . . important to proceed on the basis of the information we had,&rdquo; Nekritz said.</p></p> Thu, 07 Jun 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/accused-lawmaker%E2%80%99s-former-patron-pushes-illinois-house-punishment-99881 Veteran Illinois lawmakers try to hang on against ambitious primary challengers http://www.wbez.org/story/veteran-illinois-lawmakers-try-hang-against-ambitious-primary-challengers-97226 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-12/IMG_1293.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Just over a week to go before Illinois' primary election day. Candidates for all sorts of offices are knuckling down and knocking on doors.</p><p>That includes the multitudes running for the 177 seats that're up in the Illinois House and Senate. We looked at a pair of those elections, which couldn't be more different.</p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><strong>DISCUSSION: </strong>More on Monday's <em>Afternoon Shift with Steve Edwards</em></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332752351-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-march/2012-03-12/leg-races.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p></div></div><p>Last year when Democratic leaders drew new boundaries for state legislative districts, they manufactured some match-ups that otherwise would not have been. Take the 24th state Senate District in the Western suburbs: held by Republican Kirk Dillard, a senator since 1993.</p><p>"You know, essentially I went Northward, very much like a glacier would move," said Dillard on Sunday in his campaign office, looking at a map of his new district. "You know I think [Democratic leaders] did it because they needed to take care of some senators on the south suburban area."</p><p>Dillard could be governor right now if he'd managed to swing a couple hundred votes in 2010. In the GOP primary, he fell just short of beating fellow state Senator Bill Brady, who later fell just short of beating Democratic Governor Pat Quinn.</p><p><strong>Dillard v. Nybo</strong></p><p>But instead of ruling the state, Dillard is going door to door to fend off a Senate challenge. His campaign is buying no TV ads, no radio. Just mail - and lots of it.</p><p>"It is amazing how fast when you really focus on it, you can get mail out the door. But literally in the last weeks, you could be talking upwards to 800,000 to a million pieces of mail," Dillard said.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-12/IMG_1299.JPG" style="width: 350px; height: 263px;" title="State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale"></p><p>And that's to a district with about 217,000 residents, by the last Census count.</p><p>Most of Dillard's mailings are positive, he says, but one this week will knock his opponent, state Rep. Chris Nybo.</p><p>"You know, if you put a sign up, you just mark it down 'Yes,' you know, 'YS" for yard sign, and the notation that you placed it. But it should be a good day out there. I mean the weather's nice so people should be in a good mood," Nybo said in a pep talk Sunday to about a dozen volunteers wearing his green campaign T-shirts.</p><p>He's a state representative with little more than a year of House experience. But he's running for Senate against Dillard in part because Democrats drew him into a district with another Republican House member. Nybo chose instead to go for the promotion, against Dillard.</p><p>"You know, I mean, Kirk is a nice guy, but he's been down there a long time," Nybo said. "And I think we need some new energy down there. I don't think anybody should be making careers of this stuff."</p><p>And with all those votes in Dillard's career, Nybo's found quite a few to criticize. Dillard's campaign, meanwhile, put up an attack website featuring "The Chris Nybo Report Card."</p><p>Oddly enough, both these Republicans have ties to the Democratic president. Dillard appeared in a TV commercial for then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama during the Democratic primary for president, praising him for bipartisan work. Nybo volunteered on the congressional campaign of Mr. Obama, who was his law professor at the time.</p><p>As you can imagine, both men are quick to deflect blame for their cracks in party loyalty.</p><p>"I don't think he should say anything about my 15 nice words about President Obama about an ethics bill he sponsored with me when he was walking precincts and a student coordinator at the University of Chicago," Dillard said.</p><p>"Kirk Dillard is criticizing what I did as a 22-year-old college student with what he did as a 50-something-year-old party - acknowledged - party leader," Nybo said.</p><p>This is one of four Illinois Senate primaries statewide that feature two current Republican members of the General Assembly. Not an uncommon occurrence in elections following redistricting.</p><p>Boundaries changed all over the state, though not all that much in one Chicago Senate district that nonetheless is seeing a big Democratic primary fight. The 5th District is entirely within Chicago - a bit of the North Side, but mostly on the West.</p><p><strong>Collins v. Watkins</strong></p><p>"How you doing? God bless you," Patricia Van Pelt Watins greeted potential voters in the entranceway of a charter school in the Lawndale neighborhood.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-12/IMG_1283.JPG" style="width: 350px; height: 263px;" title="Patricia Van Pelt Watkins of Chicago"></p><p>Some parents tell Watkins they voted for her last year when she ran for Chicago mayor. Watkins hears that a lot, but doesn't always believe it.</p><p>"Right. Because there's too many of them," Watkins said. "Wait a minute. I only got [9,704] votes. How in the world did all these people vote for me? I guess they wanted to in their hearts."</p><p>The state Senate, some voters tell Watkins, is where she ought to be.</p><p>"Yeah, because they think this position fits me better," she said.</p><p>The seat used to be held by the outspoken Rickey Hendon, until he resigned - suddenly and without much explanation - early last year. Watkins applied for the vacancy, but Democratic leaders chose Annazette Collins, who'd served a decade in the state House.</p><p>"Well, if I win [a full term], people will have recognized that we've done a good job," Collins said in an interview last week at her office.</p><p>Collins talked of her efforts to overhaul the state's youth prison system. She boasted of bringing lots of state money home to the district, a positive symptom of seniority she said Watkins would be without.</p><p>"If I lose, it means that there are people who want change, and they want something different. And our community is upset. People are mad. They're mad at the president because things aren't changing fast enough. They're mad at everybody, except themselves," Collins said.</p><p>A loss could also mean that voters gave weight to some of the negatives lobbed Collins' way in recent months. Media reports have questioned whether she really lives in the district, as required by law. Last week the<em> Sun-Times</em> reported she gave university scholarships to people who live outside her district.</p><p>"I don't know that [this election is] so much tougher [than in the past], but it's very nasty," Collins said.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-12/IMG_1288.JPG" style="width: 350px; height: 263px;" title="State Sen. Annazette Collins of Chicago"></p><p>Collins had a public showdown recently with Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, a Watkins supporter who compared Collins to former Governor Rod Blagojevich.</p><p>But with turnout expected to be brutally low, Collins is counting on a strong get-out-the-vote game. Helping lead those efforts as a paid member of her campaign team: Rickey Hendon, the onetime politician whose abrupt resignation a year ago put this seat in play.</p></p> Mon, 12 Mar 2012 19:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/veteran-illinois-lawmakers-try-hang-against-ambitious-primary-challengers-97226 Illinois state officials review abuse of disabled placards http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-state-officials-review-abuse-disabled-placards-94297 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-22/3617154784_e29e433dff.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is looking to increase penalties for drivers who illegally park in spots reserved for the disabled.</p><p>Starting in January, White said his office will look into increasing fines for those who illegally park in reserved spots without a placard and for those who use fraudulent placards. This comes after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed fine increases for those who use fake, stolen or altered disability placards to park.&nbsp;</p><p>"I think it's a violation of all laws of human decency for you to be able bodied but yet you want to take advantage of a program that has been set aside for those in need," said White.</p><p>White said he's considering upping the fines for illegally using disability permits to more than $2,000. Current fines for motorists start at $350 for parking without a placard, and a $500 fine and 30-day driver's license suspension for those illegally using one.</p><p>White also said his office will again increase enforcement of disability parking rules at malls during the holiday season. Secretary of State police will be outposted at malls in Schaumburg, Rockford, Springfield and Marion on Black Friday and through the weekend. A spokesperson for White's office says this is the first year Secretary of State police will target several malls on Black Friday since the upped enforcement began in 2005.&nbsp;</p><p>The spokesperson said the office's police force will move mall-by-mall throughout the state through the remainder of the year.</p></p> Tue, 22 Nov 2011 22:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-state-officials-review-abuse-disabled-placards-94297 Illinois Sec'y of State Jesse White to seek fifth term in office http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-secy-state-jesse-white-seek-fifth-term-office-90847 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-21/AP110110024210.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Like a musician called back to the stage by the crowd's applause, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White says he decided to return to the political arena because the voters haven't had enough.&nbsp;</p><p>White, 77, announced at the Illinois State Fair last week that he'll run for a fifth term in 2014, reversing his earlier vow that 2010 would be his last race. True, his widespread popularity could help Democrats retain the coveted seat, but White insists it was the voters who called him back for an encore.</p><p>"After I had made the announcement last year that I was not going to seek re-election, I was inundated with phone calls ... asking me to consider staying on because they were extremely pleased with the delivery of service at the secretary of state's office," White told The Associated Press. "I want to respond favorably to their request that I stay put."</p><p>White, who still travels and performs with the tumbling team that bears his name — and does his signature wide-legged handstand that the youngsters jump through — will be 80 at the next election and would be 84 at the end of a fifth term. But to anyone who might say that's too old, White has a reminder: He can hold that handstand for five minutes.</p><p>"Heck, Jesse's in better shape than most 50-year-olds," said Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. "You won't hear that criticism from me."</p><p>White inherited the office — and its dismal reputation — from Republican former Gov. George Ryan, who's currently serving a 6 ½-year sentence in federal prison for racketeering conspiracy and other charges, stemming in large part from alleged activities while he was secretary of state.</p><p>White has said he's cleaned up an office that was under a "cloud of corruption" by banning the practice of soliciting campaign contributions from employees and hiring an independent inspector general. And he said he's transformed trips to the Department of Motor Vehicles from unpleasant daylong ordeals to quick errands.</p><p>In 1998, White became the first black person elected as secretary of state, after serving as Cook County recorder of deeds from 1992 through 1998. He also was a state representative for 16 years.</p><p>"I've been in office for over 35 years and no scandal," he said.</p><p>But having an incumbent as popular as White also gives Democrats a great shot at holding on to the office, especially after the party lost races for comptroller and treasurer, two of the state's six constitutional offices, to Republicans in 2010. Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, suggested White may have announced his plans now so he won't be seen as a lame duck.</p><p>Even so, Dillard and other Republicans were hesitant to say it's time for White to bow out, perhaps because they don't want to risk alienating valuable older voters.</p><p>"Years ago, my mother told me never to discuss people's ages," Dillard said. "I leave it to the voters to determine at what age people should retire."</p><p>White was born in Alton and moved with his family to the north side of Chicago as a young child. He earned a bachelor's degree in education from Alabama State College (now Alabama State University) in 1957; spent 10 years in the military, including a stint as an Army paratrooper, and worked for 33 years as a teacher and administrator in Chicago public schools. In 1959, he founded the Jesse White Tumbling Team for children living in Chicago's Cabrini-Green and Henry Horner public housing communities.</p><p>White plans to travel to Croatia and Scotland with the tumbling team this fall.</p><p>He shrugs off suggestions that his age is an issue, saying he hasn't missed a step and is still working hard to make the state's roads safer and his office more efficient.</p><p>After a recent visit to the secretary of state's facility in downtown Chicago's James R. Thompson Center, a beaming Christine Murphy, who was celebrating her 21st birthday with a new license, said the whole experience was painless — though she admitted she'd made a special trip after hearing it would be faster than the office near her hometown of Grayslake, where waits can still be long.</p><p>"I'm very happy with this DMV," Murphy said. "I was in there for maybe 10 minutes."</p><p>Pat Dobrowolski, 59, said White has made the office's facilities more organized, and her friend Ray Golenia, 68, was happy to walk away with a new license for only $5.</p><p>"They gave me a good picture," he said with a smile after a recent visit soon after the office opened for the day. "And they were pleasant even this early in the morning."&nbsp;</p><p>No pollster could disagree that the voters seem to be happy with White, who won 100 of 102 counties in the 2010 election and all 102 in 2002.&nbsp;</p><p>"(Voters) sent me a message that they were pleased," White said. He says he wants to apologize for changing his mind after saying he wouldn't run, but after being drafted first into the military and then into public service, "I am draftable."</p><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Associated Press reporter Christopher Wills contributed to this report from Springfield, Ill.</div></p> Sun, 21 Aug 2011 12:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-secy-state-jesse-white-seek-fifth-term-office-90847 Election 2012: Cook County recorder of deeds up for grabs http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-07-05/election-2012-cook-county-recorder-deeds-grabs-88744 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100913_ssmith_77690_Cook_large.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at 2:30 p.m. </em></p><p>We know you’ve heard about all the Republicans salivating at the chance to take on President Obama next year. Will <a href="http://www.sarahpac.com/">Sarah Palin</a> run or won’t she? Will <a href="http://www.rickperry.org/">Rick Perry</a> pull a George W. Bush? Why can’t <a href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/newt-gingrich-s-staff-resigns-20110609">Newt Gingrich</a> make his staff happy?</p><p>If this obscenely early coverage of national politics has you frustrated, never fear. We are here to offer you obscenely early coverage of local politics. Why read about the race for the White House when you can read about the race for Cook County recorder of deeds? (We are only half-joking here.)</p><p>Today we begin to look at some of the 2012 races, and figured, why not start with recorder of deeds? The much ignored (if not forgotten) office deserves some attention, too. After all, it’s responsible for tracking land sales, mortgages and tax liens. (Its <a href="http://ccrd.info/CCRD/controller">website</a> is the go-to place to dig up dirt on your enemies.) And the upcoming race for this post is a complicated web of old alliances.</p><p><strong>Goodbye, Gene?</strong></p><p>Eugene “Gene” Moore has served as recorder of deeds since 1999, when Cook County Democratic officials picked him, then a state lawmaker, to fill out the term of Jesse White, who’d just been elected Illinois secretary of state.</p><p>White had wanted his aide and political ally Darlena Williams-Burnett to replace him, but then-Cook County Board President John Stroger pushed for Moore, who at the time controlled the Proviso Township Democrats. As a compromise, Williams-Burnett won the #2 spot in the office. White, her political benefactor, “didn’t really want to fight with the elder statesmen,” Williams-Burnett told me.</p><p>Now there’s a new fight brewing. Moore has told Democratic bigwigs - including the county party's chair, Assessor Joe Berrios - that he will not seek a fourth term in 2012. Moore’s spokesman has not returned my call. Williams-Burnett, who often acts as spokesperson for the office, confirmed on Tuesday that Moore is not running.</p><p>“That is what he has confided in me,” Williams-Burnett shared on Tuesday morning. “He’d support me if I ran for the seat.”</p><p>And that is not a sure thing, William-Burnett said, noting that she will only seek the office if she is slated (endorsed) by the Cook County Democratic Party. "Like most things" in the county, she said, “the big boys make the determination.”</p><p>The “big boys” are the 80 ward and township committeemen who make up the Cook County Democratic Party. Without their support, Williams-Burnett said, it’s just too tough to run a county-wide race. As her husband, Chicago Ald. Walter Burnett, put it, “That office has never been one to raise a lot of money.”</p><p>Another potential contender is Karen Yarbrough, a state representative since 2001. She has ties (and not friendly ones) to both Moore and Williams-Burnett. In 2006, Yarbrough snagged the Proviso Township committeeman’s post from Moore (that same position that helped Moore win the recorder's office in the first place), and in 2010, she beat out Williams-Burnett in the race for Democratic state central committeewoman of the 7<sup>th</sup> Congressional District. Quite a web, right?</p><p>Yarbough’s political office hasn’t answered my email or phone call, and her government office directed me back to her political office. So I haven’t been able to confirm her interest in running for recorder’s office.</p><p>Another state lawmaker is confirming his interest. Al Riley is a Democrat from south suburban Olympia Fields, and also Rich Township supervisor.</p><p>Riley’s campaign manager, John Moore (no relation to the incumbent recorder), told me the representative is focused on running for re-election to his newly redistricted seat in the General Assembly. But what about the recorder of deeds post? “We’re intrigued,” he said. (During our conversation, he went on to say that Riley is “evaluating,” “looking at it hard” and “giving serious consideration to it.”)</p><p>If he decides to make a go of it, Riley - unlike Williams-Burnett - will not abandon a run if party leaders choose not to slate him. But he’s not a total rebel. John Moore said that if Gene Moore runs again, Riley will not challenge him, noting the respect that Riley has for the incumbent. He added, "It is our understanding that he's not running."</p><p>In 2010, Moore knocked off a potentially difficult primary challenger in Ald. Ed Smith, who had the backing of Mayor Richard Daley. Smith, who left the city council last year, managed to win just 37 percent of the vote. Since that race, Moore has done nothing in terms of fundraising. He reports about $1,600 in his campaign account. His personal finances are also shaky. The <em>Tribune</em> <a href="http://finances.http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-06-22/news/ct-met-recorder-of-deeds-moore-20110622_1_liens-emm-associates-school-board">reported</a> last month that Moore faces some serious difficulties.</p></p> Tue, 05 Jul 2011 17:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-07-05/election-2012-cook-county-recorder-deeds-grabs-88744 Quinn signs new seat belt law http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-signs-new-seat-belt-law-88401 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-27/Quinn Seatbelts podium.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Every car passenger in Illinois will soon have to buckle up. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill today that requires it.&nbsp; Before this seemingly common sense law, backseat passengers 18 years or older weren't required to wear a seatbelt.</p><p>Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White explained why backseat passengers need to be restrained.</p><p>He said, "If by chance they are not buckled up, then of course they could become a human missile for those in the front of the vehicle."&nbsp;</p><p>But the law still exempts riders in buses, emergency vehicles and those in the backseat of taxis. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton sponsored the bill with the late GOP Rep. Mark Beaubien.</p><p>Regarding the taxi exemption, Cullerton said, "A lot of times in taxi cabs, the seatbelts are not maintained properly and it's hard to find them. I know I have trouble myself digging down to try to find them sometimes."&nbsp;Cullerton said he hopes taxis will be added to the bill sometime later on.</p><p>The new law will take effect January 1, 2012.</p><p>Meanwhile just before the seatbelt press conference, a taxi cab crashed into a downtown Chicago building - killing a pedestrian and seriously injuring the driver and backseat passenger.<br> <br> &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 27 Jun 2011 17:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-signs-new-seat-belt-law-88401 Jesse White says he'll run again for Secretary of State http://www.wbez.org/story/jesse-white/jesse-white-says-hell-run-again-secretary-state-85377 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-19/84144996.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Jesse White said Monday he will seek re-election as Illinois' Secretary of State. The 76-year-old Democrat won't appear on the ballot again until 2014. He was just re-elected in November with nearly 70 percent of the vote.</p><p>The position of Secretary of State considered a launching pad for young politicians, but White's popularity may scare off competitors.</p><p>White said he's being urged by many people to run again.</p><p>"People seem to think that," White said. "They're become comfortable with my style of administration, administering the office of the Secretary of State and so they want me to continue."</p><p>If elected to another term, White would become the longest serving Secretary of State in Illinois history. He first was elected in 1998.&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 12:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/jesse-white/jesse-white-says-hell-run-again-secretary-state-85377