WBEZ | 2012 http://www.wbez.org/tags/2012 Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Rockford records 14 homicides in 2012 http://www.wbez.org/news/rockford-records-14-homicides-2012-104646 <p><p>ROCKFORD, Ill. &mdash; The city of Rockford ended 2012 with 14 homicides &mdash; the lowest total in eight years.</p><p>The Rockford Register Star <a href="http://bit.ly/WXmmiK" target="_blank">reports</a> the total is a drop from the 20 homicides the city has averaged in recent years.</p><p>Police say arrests have been made in eight of 2012&#39;s 14 homicides. They also say eight of the year&#39;s homicide victims were shot to death, three were beaten, one was stabbed, one died in a car crash and a premature-born infant was found to have cocaine in its system.</p><p>Police say they don&#39;t know why the number of homicides fell in 2012.</p></p> Wed, 02 Jan 2013 09:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rockford-records-14-homicides-2012-104646 Violence, gangs scar Chicago community in 2012 http://www.wbez.org/news/violence-gangs-scar-chicago-community-2012-104620 <p><p>It was February, the middle of lunch hour on a busy South Side street. The gunman approached his victim in a White Castle parking lot, shot him in the head, then fled down an alley.</p><p>The next month, one block away, also on West 79th Street: Two men in hooded sweatshirts opened fire at the Bishop Golden convenience store. They killed one young man and wounded five others, including a nephew of basketball superstar Dwyane Wade. The shooters got away in a silver SUV.</p><p>In July, a Saturday night, two men were walking on 79th when they were approached by a man who killed one and injured the other. This shooting resulted in a quick arrest; police had a witness, and a security camera caught the shooting.</p><p>These three violent snapshots of a single Chicago street are not exceptional. It&#39;s been a bloody year in the nation&#39;s third-largest city.</p><p>A spike in murders and shootings &mdash; much of it gang-related &mdash; shocked Chicagoans, spurred new crime-fighting strategies and left indelible images: Mayor Rahm Emanuel voicing outrage about gang crossfire that killed a 7-year-old named Heaven selling candy in her front yard. Panicked mourners scrambling as shots ring out on the church steps at a funeral for a reputed gang leader. Girls wearing red high school basketball uniforms, filing by the casket of a 16-year-old teammate shot on her porch.</p><p>A handful of neighborhoods were especially hard hit, among them Auburn-Gresham; the police district&#39;s 43 homicides (as of Dec. 21) ranked highest in the city, and represent an increase of about 20 percent over 2011. The outbreak, fueled partly by feuds among rival factions of Chicago&#39;s largest gang, the Gangster Disciples, rippled along 79th street, the main commercial drag. That single corridor offers a window into the wider mayhem that claimed lives, shattered families and left authorities scrambling for answers.</p><p>The scars aren&#39;t obvious, at first. Drive down West 79th and there&#39;s Salaam, a pristine white building of Islamic design, and The Final Call, the restaurant and newspaper operated by the Nation of Islam. Leo Catholic High School for young men. A health clinic. A beauty supply store. Around the corners, neat brick bungalows and block club signs warning: &quot;No Littering. No Loitering. No Loud Music.&quot;</p><p>Look closer, though, and there are signs of distress and fear: Boarded-up storefronts. Heavy security gates on barber shops and food marts. Thick partitions separating cash registers from customers at the Jamaican jerk and fish joints. Police cars watching kids board city buses at the end of the school day.</p><p>Go a few blocks south of 79th to a food market where a sign bears a hand-scrawled message: &quot;R.I.P. We Love You Eli,&quot; honoring a clerk killed in November in an apparent robbery. Or a block north to the front lawn of St. Sabina church where photos were added this year to a glass-enclosed memorial for young victims of deadly violence over the years.</p><p>Then go back to a corner of 79th, across the street and down the block from where two killings occurred, both gang-related.</p><p>There, in an empty lot, a wooden cross stands tall in the winter night. Painted in red is a plea:</p><p>&quot;STOP SHOOTING.&quot;</p><p>Gang violence isn&#39;t new, but it became a major theme in the Chicago narrative this year.</p><p>Maybe it was because of the audacity of gang members posting YouTube videos in which they flashed wads of cash and guns. The sight of police brandishing automatic weapons, standing watch outside gang funerals. The sting of one more smiling young face on a funeral program. Or dramatic headlines in spring and summer, such as: &quot;13 people shot in Chicago in 30-minute period.&quot;</p><p>It was alarming enough for President Barack Obama to mention it during the campaign, noting murders near his South Side home. Then, addressing gun violence in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, he cited Chicago again.</p><p>As grim as it is, Chicago&#39;s murder rate was almost double in the early 1990s &mdash; averaging around 900 &mdash; before violent crime began dropping in cities across America. This year&#39;s increase, though, is a sharp contrast to New York, where homicides fell 21 percent from 2011, as of early December.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP804403038679_0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 247px; width: 350px;" title="In this Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 photo, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Chicago. (AP File)" />Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says while murders and shootings are up, overall crime citywide is down about 9 percent. He says crime-fighting strategies against gangs &mdash; some just put into place this year &mdash; are working, but they take time.</p><p>&quot;The city didn&#39;t get in this shape overnight,&quot; he says. &quot;I think that we&#39;re doing ourselves a disservice by advertising a Vietnam-type body count. I&#39;ve got to tell you when I speak to people ... they generally say, &#39;You know what? We don&#39;t even hear that anymore. It&#39;s white noise.&#39;... The fascination unfortunately seems to be in the media and it&#39;s become a national obsession.&quot;</p><p>After the 500th homicide was reported, McCarthy released a statement saying the pace of violent crime had slowed since early 2012. Murders skyrocketed 66 percent in the first quarter of the year over the same period in 2011; by the fourth quarter, the increase had dropped to 15 percent, he said. For shootings, it was a 40 percent hike in the first quarter and 11 percent in the last quarter compared with 2011. The superintendent called the numbers &quot;great progress.&quot;</p><p>Up to 80 percent of Chicago&#39;s murders and shootings are gang-related, according to police. By one estimate, the city has almost 70,000 gang members. A police audit last spring identified 59 gangs and 625 factions; most are on the South and West sides.</p><p>Gangs in Chicago have a long, dangerous history, some operating with the sophistication and hierarchy of corporations. In the 1980s, the leaders of the El Rukns were convicted of conspiring in a terrorism-for-hire scheme designed to collect millions from the Libyan government. Before the feds took down the leadership of the Gangster Disciples in the 1990s, the group had its own clothing line and political arm.</p><p>Nowadays, gangs are less structured and disputes more personal, says Eric Carter, commander of the Gresham district, home to 11 factions of the Gangster Disciples. &quot;It&#39;s strictly who can help me make money,&quot; he says. &quot;Lines have become blurred and alliances have become very fragile.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP12061213939_0.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="In Chicago , homicides are up over 50 percent over last year. In some of the West and South side streets its guns, gangs and drugs. On a recent Saturday night the Chicago Police gang enforcement unit stopped a car with four suspected gang members and arrested one of them on a warrant. (AP File)" />Carter says a gang narcotics dispute that started about six years ago is at the root of a lot of violence in his district.</p><p>Another change among gangs is the widespread use of YouTube, Facebook and other social media to taunt one another and spread incendiary messages. &quot;One insult thrown on Facebook and Twitter becomes the next potential for a shooting incident on the street,&quot; Carter says.</p><p>McCarthy, who has consulted with criminologists, has implemented several plans, including an audit that identifies every gang member and establishing a long-term police presence in heavy drug-dealing areas, aimed at drying up business.</p><p>In two districts, police also have partnered controversially with CeaseFire Illinois, an anti-violence group that has hired convicted felons, including former gang members, to mediate street conflicts. McCarthy, who has expressed reservations about the organization, is taking a wait-and-see attitude.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s a work in progress,&quot; he says. &quot;It hasn&#39;t shown a lot of success yet.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>AMONG THE DEAD:</strong> An 18-year-old walking on a sidewalk. A 36-year-old at a backyard party. A 28-year-old in a car two blocks from the police station. A 40-year-old convenience store clerk, on the job just two months.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p>In a storefront on 79th, Curtis Toler has a map of the street and surrounding area with 10 stick pins. Each represents a homicide in 2012.</p><p>Toler, a former gang member, spent much of his life causing chaos. Now, he&#39;s preaching calm. As a supervisor at CeaseFire, his job is to ease tensions and defuse disputes before they explode.</p><p>Violence, he says, has become so commonplace, people are desensitized to death.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t think we take it as hard as we should,&quot; he says. &quot;When someone gets killed, there should be an uproar. But the ambulance comes, scoops them up, nobody says anything and it&#39;s back to business.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP12061213868.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="In Chicago, homicides are up over 50 percent over last year. On a recent Saturday night people residents strolled by as a young man was being arrested. (AP File)" />Toler&#39;s own life was shaped by guns and drugs. &quot;In the early &#39;90s, I was going to funerals back to back to back,&quot; he says. &quot;When you&#39;re out there, you think you pretty much got it coming. It&#39;s a kill-or-be-killed mentality.&quot;</p><p>As he tells it, he was in a gang (in another neighborhood) from ages 9 to 30, including a six-year prison stint for involuntary manslaughter. He was shot six times, he says; he lifts a gray stocking cap pulled low over his head and presses a thumb over his right eyebrow to show the spot where a bullet struck. &quot;I was blessed&quot; to survive, he says, with a gap-toothed smile.</p><p>He was once so notorious, Toler says, that one day about a decade ago his grandmother returned from a community policing gathering and began crying. &quot;She said, &#39;The whole meeting was about you. ... You and your friends are destroying the whole community. ... You&#39;re my grandson, but they&#39;re talking about you like you&#39;re an animal.&#39;&quot;</p><p>Now a 35-year-old father of four, Toler says he decided to go straight about five years ago. He knows some police don&#39;t believe his transformation. He regrets things he&#39;s done, he says, and for a time had trouble sleeping. &quot;Life has its way of getting back at you one way or another,&quot; he says. &quot;I believe in the law of reciprocity.&quot;</p><p>Toler&#39;s message to a new generation on the streets: I keep asking them,&#39; What&#39;s the net worth on your life? There is no price.... You only get one. It&#39;s not a video game.&#39;&quot;</p><p>&quot;You get some guys who listen,&quot; Toler says, &quot;and some who really don&#39;t care. ... They say, &#39;I&#39;m going to die anyway.&#39;&quot;</p><p>Two blocks east in another storefront on 79th, Carlos Nelson works to bring a different kind of stability to Gresham.</p><p>As head of the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corp., he lures businesses to a community that despite its problems, has well-established merchants and middle-class residents who&#39;ve lived here for decades.</p><p>But Nelson, a 49-year-old engineering graduate raised in Gresham, sees changes since he was a kid, most notably the easy access to guns. &quot;These aren&#39;t six-shooters,&quot; he says. &quot;These are automatic weapons.&quot;</p><p>Police say they&#39;ve seized more than 7,000 guns in arrests this year. Strict gun control measures in Chicago and Illinois have been tossed out by federal courts, most recently the state ban on carrying concealed weapons.</p><p>Nelson says he sees limited progress despite new crime-fighting approaches. &quot;The Chicago police department is a lot like a rat on a wheel,&quot; he says. &quot;They&#39;re getting nowhere. They put metal detectors in the schools but they don&#39;t put that same amount of money in to educate our kids.&quot;</p><p>But Nelson also believes the problem goes beyond policing. A cultural shift is needed, he says, to break the cycle of generations of young men seeing no options.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s almost like the walking dead,&quot; he says. &quot;They&#39;re emotionless about shootings or death or drugs. They think that&#39;s all that&#39;s expected of them ... that they will die or end up in jail. That&#39;s a hell of an existence. That&#39;s truly sad.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>AMONG THE LIVING:</strong> A 17-year-old hit in the leg, wrist and foot while in a park. A 13-year-old struck in the back while riding his bicycle, A 38-year-old shot in the face while driving.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p>Cerria McComb tried to run when the bullet exploded in her leg, but she didn&#39;t get far.</p><p>Someone heard her screams, her mother says, and rushed outside to help her make a call.</p><p>&quot;Mommy, mommy, I&#39;ve been shot!&quot; Cerria cried into the phone.</p><p>Bobbie McComb ran six blocks, her husband outpacing her. &quot;I&#39;m panicking,&quot; she recalls. &quot;I can&#39;t catch my breath. All I could think of was I didn&#39;t want it to be the last time I heard her voice, the last time I saw her.&quot;</p><p>Cerria and a 14-year-old male friend were wounded. The bullet lodged just an inch from an artery in the back of Cerria&#39;s right knee, according to her mother, who says her daughter is afraid to go out since the early December shooting.</p><p>Police questioned a reputed gang member they believe was the intended target; Cerria, they say, just happened to be in the wrong place.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m angry,&quot; McComb says. &quot;I&#39;m frustrated. I&#39;m tired of them shooting our kids, killing our kids, thinking they can get away with it. ... If it was my son or my daughter standing out there with a gun, I would call the police on them.&quot;</p><p>A few blocks west, on 78th Place, another mother, Pam Bosley, sits at the youth center of St. Sabina Church, trying to keep teens on track. The parish is run by the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a firebrand white priest in an overwhelmingly black congregation whose crusades against violence, drugs and liquor and cigarette billboards are a staple of local news.</p><p>Bosley&#39;s 18-year-old son, Terrell, a college freshman and gospel bass player, was killed in 2006 when he and friends were shot while unloading musical equipment outside a church on the far South Side. A man charged was acquitted.</p><p>&quot;I think about him all day and all night,&quot; Bosley says of her son. &quot;If I stop, I&#39;ll lose my mind.&quot;</p><p>Bosley works with kids 14 to 21, teaching them life and leadership skills and ways to reduce violence. Sometimes, she says, neglectful parents are the problem; often it&#39;s gangs who just don&#39;t value life.</p><p>&quot;You know how you have duck (hunting) season in the woods?&quot; she asks. &quot;In urban communities, it&#39;s duck season for us every day. You never know when you&#39;re going to get shot.&quot;</p><p>In December, Bosley phoned to console the grieving mother of Porshe Foster, 15, who was shot a few miles away while standing outside with other kids. A young man in the group has said he believed the gunman was aiming at him.</p><p>&quot;I know how it feels to wake up in your house without your child, and you don&#39;t want to get out of bed, you don&#39;t feel like living,&quot; Bosley says.</p><p>St. Sabina is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Bosley sent balloons to the girl&#39;s funeral.</p><p>On Dec. 6, hundreds celebrated the A-student who liked architecture and played on her school&#39;s volleyball and basketball teams.</p><p>Her brother, Robert, 22, says his sister &quot;knew what was going on in the streets as well as we did,&quot; but he didn&#39;t worry because she was either at school, home or church.</p><p>&quot;She was always a good girl,&quot; he says. &quot;She didn&#39;t have to look over her shoulder. She was a 15-year-old girl. She didn&#39;t ever do any wrong to anybody.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: center;">___</p><p>In March, St. Sabina parishioners, led by the Rev. Pfleger, marched through the streets in protest, calling out gang factions by name. They planted the &quot;Stop Killing&quot; cross on 79th.</p><p>In April, the priest and other pastors returned to 79th to successfully stop the reopening of a store where there was a mass shooting; they condemned it as a haven for gangs.</p><p>In December, Pfleger stood in his church gym, watching gang members hustle down the basketball court.</p><p>On this Monday night, in this gym, it was hard to tell who was who.</p><p>The basketball teams wore different colored T-shirts with the same word: Peacemaker. They&#39;re all part of Pfleger&#39;s 12-week basketball league, aimed at cooling gang hostilities by having rivals face each other on the court. Many players, from 16 to 27, have criminal records.</p><p>The league grew out of a single successful game this fall and has high-profile supporters, including Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls.</p><p>Pfleger says the games have helped players build relationships, see beyond gang affiliation and stop shooting each other, at least for now.</p><p>&quot;I have people tell me I&#39;m naive, I&#39;m stupid, I should be ashamed of myself working with these gangs,&quot; he says. &quot;I could care less. We&#39;ve demonized them so much we forget they&#39;re human beings.&quot;</p><p>But Pfleger also says games alone won&#39;t change anything. These young men need jobs and an education, and he&#39;s working on that.</p><p>&quot;When there&#39;s no alternative,&quot; he says, &quot;you&#39;ll continue to do what you do.&quot;</p></p> Sun, 30 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/violence-gangs-scar-chicago-community-2012-104620 No apocalypse? Chicago residents can tell you why http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/no-apocalypse-chicago-residents-can-tell-you-why-104520 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/halseike_mayan.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>You&rsquo;ve heard it all: 2012, apocalypse, end of the world, blah blah blah. But for some Guatemalans and Mexicans in Chicago, December 21 is a time of celebration that has nothing to do with doomsday prophecies.</p><p>In the Mayan tradition December 21 is a major turning of the calendar, the end of an approximately 394-year-long cycle called a Bak&rsquo;tun. It&rsquo;s the 13th Bak&rsquo;tun of the Mayan calendar era, and some say this era will be only 13 Bak&rsquo;tuns long. Translation: time for a new world.</p><p>But in reality, December 21 more closely resembles Y2K than the John Cusack movie &ldquo;2012.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s a big, huge renewal with numeric and astrological significance. Only one Mayan text suggests that it&rsquo;s the end of the world, and people of Mayan descent are more likely to be celebrating than stocking up on bottled water and firearms.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F72090955&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;This is a time of reflection and to see what we have done with our lives, with mother nature, and how are we going to move forward in this new era,&rdquo; said Hugo Hun, the Guatemalan consul general of Chicago. He said many Guatemalans will travel to large ceremonies in 13 different cities throughout Guatemala.</p><p>The Bak&rsquo;tun events are also a tourist attraction, but some are concerned that the doomsday hullaballoo is commercializing the Mayan culture.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The living Mayans are systematically losing the way they used to live and their beliefs as well,&rdquo; Akaze Yotzin said.</p><p>He&rsquo;s the leader of a Chicago group called Nahualli that practices and studies indigenous Mexican traditions. He said poverty and racial stereotypes already endanger Mayan identity in Mexico, and stressed that Mayans are not an ancient people, but a people who are alive today. Nahualli held a ceremony Friday morning at the American Indian Center to celebrate the winter solstice and the turning of the calendar.</p><p><strong>Music and mathematics</strong></p><p>Ancient Mayan culture gave great significance to math and numbers, and the number 13 is considered particularly powerful. The complex numerology of the Mayan calendar system inspired Chicago musician Juan Dies, who produced a song called &quot;13 Bak&#39;tun&quot; with his band Sones de Mexico.<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F72124780&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&quot;13 Bak&#39;tun&quot; features 13 parts, each carefully planned to highlight numerology.&nbsp;For example, the second part is in 2/4 time and uses two instruments. The thirteenth has 13 instruments playing in 13/8 time. And guess what - the song is 13 minutes long.</p><p>Dies said the date is important and also misrepresented. His song is part of an effort to correct that. Sones de Mexico has been together for nearly twenty years studying and reinterpreting traditional Mexican music. The tenth part of &quot;13 Bak&#39;tun&quot; features Chicago poet Carlos Mejia performing a poem in&nbsp;Quiche Mayan. According to Dies, Mejia traveled to Guatemala for Dec. 21, 2012 to join the Bak&#39;tun celebrations.</p><p>&quot;I think the Mayans are seeing it today as a closure of a long cycle, very much as we saw the end of our millenium,&quot; Dies said. &quot;Along with that comes an opportunity to renew yourself, to look back at the achievements of the last four hundreds years, and how you may make changes or improvements or a rebirth in the new Bak&rsquo;tun.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 21 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/no-apocalypse-chicago-residents-can-tell-you-why-104520 Voters may face slower lines in 2012 elections http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-25/voters-may-face-slower-lines-2012-elections-92435 <p><p>Elections are expensive. And with money tight, election offices across the country are facing cutbacks.</p><p>This means voters could be in for some surprises — such as longer lines and fewer voting options — when they turn out for next year's primary and general elections.</p><p>A lot of decisions about the 2012 elections are being made today. How many voting machines are needed? Where should polling places be located? How many poll workers have to be hired?</p><p><strong>'We're down to a critical level'</strong></p><p>Gail Pellerin, the county clerk in Santa Cruz, Calif., says she's considering trimming the number of voting sites in her county by about 20 percent next year because her budget keeps shrinking.</p><p>"Each year, they come back and say, 'Do more with less, you know, we're going to end up having to give you less again,'" she says, adding that her budget for extra workers at election time has also been reduced.</p><p>She says this means voters might have to travel farther to cast their ballots, and wait longer for help. Workers in her office also face mandatory furloughs.</p><p>And Pellerin, who heads the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, says the state is no longer paying counties to send out absentee ballots or to process mail-in voter registration forms.</p><p>"So counties are having to decide whether they're going to continue those programs independently of getting any state funding," she says.</p><p>And if they do, they'll have to figure out where they'll get the money.</p><p>In South Carolina, the State Election Commission is also feeling the squeeze. In 2000, the office had a budget of over $2 million. Today, it's making do with about $850,000 — a 60 percent cut, says spokesman Chris Whitmire.</p><p>"Basically, we're down to a critical level — sort of a bare-bones level — where if we saw any more cuts I think it would have a significant impact on our ability to provide services to counties," he says.</p><p>Those services include maintaining South Carolina's statewide voter registration database.</p><p>Many election offices across the country face similar challenges next year, when a near-record voter turnout is expected.</p><p>Washington state has canceled its state-run presidential primaries to save $10 million. Other states have shortened the number of days for early voting. And many election offices are consolidating precincts, cutting out paper voting guides and encouraging people to cast their ballots by mail — all in an effort to save funds.</p><p>Doug Lewis runs The Election Center, a national association of election officials. He says voters should be prepared for slower lines in 2012, at the very least.</p><p>"It's all the little cuts that finally add up to saying, 'Holy moly, how do we do this?'" he says.</p><p>Lewis is telling his members to put things in the starkest terms when they talk to local budget officials.</p><p>"If they cut your budget 20 percent, which 20 percent of the voters do they not want to vote? I mean, this is where we are," he says.</p><p><strong>Worry over voting machines</strong></p><p>One of the big concerns is the impact budget cuts will have on voting machines. Most places bought new electronic equipment after the 2000 elections. But Charles Stewart, an election expert at MIT, says this new equipment is much more costly to maintain than the old punch-card and lever machines.</p><p>"I don't think many people, myself included, really recognized back a decade ago that this computerized equipment has a relatively short lifespan," he says.</p><p>In fact, many machines will only last about 10 to 12 years before they need to be replaced, and that time is just around the corner for many jurisdictions. Stewart says some election offices are even deferring or canceling maintenance contracts to save money.</p><p>"The worry, of course, is that either machines will fail, causing localities to have to kind of double up or to borrow machines, or not have enough on election day," he says.</p><p>But it's not all bad news. Beth Dlug, who oversees elections in Allen County, Ind., got a reprieve last week. The county council reversed its decision to make her run the 2012 elections with less money than she has to run this year's much smaller municipal elections.</p><p>"We are just so relieved. We were very, very concerned about how it was going to affect the election," Dlug says.</p><p>Now, she won't have to cut hundreds of poll workers and voting machines next year as she had feared. But it's too late to revive her plan to set up satellite voting sites to encourage early voting — a move intended to save money in the long run.</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Mon, 26 Sep 2011 03:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-25/voters-may-face-slower-lines-2012-elections-92435 New report: CPS faces "enormous budget gaps" http://www.wbez.org/story/new-report-cps-faces-enormous-budget-gaps-90827 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-19/Civic Federation Report.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools 2012 budget is acceptable, but only for the short term. That's according to a report released by the Civic Federation on Monday.</p><p>The checkbook that Chicago Public Schools has to balance is like any of ours, but far bigger and far scarier.&nbsp; Laurence Msall, President of the Civic Federation said, "It is in a very dire situation."</p><p>The Federation's 82-page analysis of next year's CPS budget endorses some painful decisions - like denying teachers a four percent cost of living increase and raising property taxes. It says such decisions are in part necessary to maintain class size.</p><p>Despite these hand-wringing choices, Msall said, "This is a good budget and a good short-term plan for Chicago Public Schools. It is not the long-term plan that they need in order to get through the next three to five years."</p><p>Looking ahead, the Federation report uses phrases like "fiscal calamity in the very near future." Some of the highlighted causes include a broken pension system that may be beyond repair, and the financial instability of the state of Illinois as a whole.</p><p>The Federation is urging CPS leadership to start planning for the widening future budget shortfall now. In a press release, Msall stated, "If nothing is done, the pain and controversy of the FY2012 budget will seem mild in comparison to the massive cuts in personnel and services that will be necessary to balance the budget in FY2014."</p></p> Mon, 22 Aug 2011 11:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/new-report-cps-faces-enormous-budget-gaps-90827 Mike Huckabee: 'All The Factors Say Go, But My Heart Says No' http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-14/mike-huckabee-all-factors-say-go-my-heart-says-no-86555 <p><p>Scratch Mike Huckabee's name from the list of potential Republican presidential nominees seeking to challenge President Obama.</p><p>The former Arkansas governor and present-day Fox News Channel host <a href="http://video.foxnews.com/v/4694936/huckabee-i-will-not-seek-the-republican-nomination/">said on his show</a> on that cable outlet that he won't compete for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.</p><p>Huckabee said he ruled out a run despite many indications he could do well in the race for the nomination — widespread grassroots support and polls that showed that he had broader appeal to just social conservatives and also a good chance of winning primaries and caucuses.</p><p>"All the factors say go; but my heart says no," Huckabee said. "And that's the decision that I've made. And in it I've finally found some resolution."</p><p></p><p>Huckabee, who did unexpectedly well in his 2008 presidential bid, winning the Iowa caucuses, said his wife and children expressed support for a him to make the race, in fact urged him too.</p><p>And he indicated many others had expressed not just support but the desire to work on his behalf.</p><p>But, speaking in terms that would readily connect with many of the evangelical Christians who had hoped he would be their standard bearer in the 2012 White House race, the former Baptist preacher said in was only in the quiet moments of reflection did his decision become plain.</p><p>"... I do know this. That under the best of circumstances, being president is a job that takes one to the limit of his or her human capacity. For me, to do it without the confidence that I was undertaking it without God's full blessing is simply unthinkable."</p><p>The decision allows Huckabee to continue making money at a brisk pace from his contract with Fox as well as the radio segment he produces for ABC Radio. Huckabee also travels the nation giving paid speeches.</p><p>He did say he will continue to travel to speak up for candidates and causes he believes in.</p><p>Staying clear of the race also spares Huckabee from attacks from both Republicans and Democrats alike on his record as Arksansas governor. For instance, as governor he commuted the sentence of Maurice Clemmons, a convict who later killed four Seattle police officers. Clemmons likely would have been Huckabee's Willie Horton, only worse. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305433932?&gn=Mike+Huckabee%3A+%27All+The+Factors+Say+Go%2C+But+My+Heart+Says+No%27&ev=event2&ch=129828651&h1=2012,White+House,It%27s+All+Politics,Mike+Huckabee,Media,Politics,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136318484&c7=1014&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1014&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110514&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=131551086,130357600,129828651,126944287&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Sat, 14 May 2011 21:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-14/mike-huckabee-all-factors-say-go-my-heart-says-no-86555 Obama Makes Economic Argument To Americans For Immigration Overhaul http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-10/obama-makes-economic-argument-americans-immigration-overhaul-86350 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-10/HPobama.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>President Obama realizes he has a problem on the immigration front.</p><p>Actually, he has a few problems. But one of the gnarliest is that the notion of providing millions of illegal immigrants with a path to legalization raises the economic anxiety of millions of Americans.</p><p>Even before the housing bubble burst in 2007, overhauling immigration was a heavy lift. That's even more true now with Americans much more worried about jobs than they were the last time Congress and a president, then George W. Bush, tried to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.</p><p>So <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/05/10/remarks-president-comprehensive-immigration-reform-el-paso-texas">in his speech</a> in El Paso, Tex. Tuesday along the U.S.-Mexico border, the president had to find a way to explain why legalizing millions of illegal immigrants wouldn't hurt Americans economically.</p><p>His argument was that it's the illegal nature of these immigrants that forces down U.S. wages since workers lacking legal status can be more readily exploited by unethical employers.</p><p></p><p>Obama said:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>Think about it. Over the past decade, even before the recession hit, middle-class families were struggling to get by as the costs went up for everything, from health care, to college tuition, to groceries, to gas. Their incomes didn't go up with those prices. We're seeing it again right now with gas prices.</p><p>So one way to strengthen the middle class in America is to reform the immigration system so that there is no longer a massive underground economy that exploits a cheap source of labor while depressing wages for everybody else. I want incomes for middle-class families to rise again. (Applause.) I want prosperity in this country to be widely shared. (Applause.) I want everybody to be able to reach that American dream. And that's why immigration reform is an economic imperative. It's an economic imperative. (Applause.)</p><p></blockquote></p><p>Adding another wrinkle to his economic argument, the president said fixing the U.S.' immigration system, which is widely seen as broken, would help the U.S. win the future, to use a phrase he's found of, by making it more competitive:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>OBAMA: And reform will also help to make America more competitive in the global economy. Today, we provide students from around the world with visas to get engineering and computer science degrees at our top universities. (Applause.)</p><p>But then our laws discourage them from using those skills to start a business or a new industry here in the United States. Instead of training entrepreneurs to stay here, we train them to create jobs for our competition. That makes no sense. In a global marketplace, we need all the talent we can attract, all the talent we can get to stay here to start businesses — not just to benefit those individuals, but because their contribution will benefit all Americans.</p><p>Look at Intel, look at Google, look at Yahoo, look at eBay. All those great American companies, all the jobs they've created, everything that has helped us take leadership in the high-tech industry, every one of those was founded by, guess who, an immigrant. (Applause.)</p><p>So we don't want the next Intel or the next Google to be created in China or India. We want those companies and jobs to take root here. (Applause.) Bill Gates gets this. He knows a little something about the high-tech industry. He said, "The United States will find it far more difficult to maintain its competitive edge if it excludes those who are able and willing to help us compete."</p><p>So immigration is not just the right thing to do. It's smart for our economy.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>Not that the president didn't make the moral argument, for instance, that it doesn't square with American values to break up families through deportation. Or to punish young people who were brought into the U.S. as children illegally by their parents.</p><p>But he clearly was aware that if he was to make any progress with the American people on an immigration overhaul, to get more voters to see it his way, he needed to make a strong appeal that it's in their economic interest to fix the current system.</p><p>As <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2011/05/10/136169440/for-obama-and-democrats-immigration-overhaul-a-political-no-brainer">I wrote earlier</a>, immigration reform is a political no-brainer for the president and congressional Democrats since it energizes the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. That demographic just so happens to be an important part of the Democratic base.</p><p>It also puts congressional Republicans and GOP presidential hopefuls in a tricky spot since their party's base has proportionally more immigration hardliners than the Democratic Party.</p><p>That made the speech, an official presidential event, arguably something of a campaign event too.</p><p>And the president gave the event a campaign feel by telling his audience if they agreed with his approach on immigration reform, they should contact <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov" target="_self">WhiteHouse.gov</a>. Campaigns often use such techniques to collect email addresses.</p><p>While it's good politics for Democrats to make the strongest appeal possible to Latinos, the president suggested that some Republicans saw it as good politics to focus strictly on border enforcement to the exclusion of everything else, including figuring out how to normalize the 11 million illegal immigrants.</p><p>And he tried to have some fun at their expense though an edgy response he got from at least one audience member violated an Obama commandment, a rule of a president who has worked hard to not push deep-seated racial hot buttons — Thou shalt not play the race card:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>OBAMA: ... The Border Patrol has 20,000 agents — more than twice as many as there were in 2004. It's a build-up that began under President Bush and that we've continued, and I had a chance to meet some of these outstanding agents, and actually saw some of them on horseback who looked pretty tough. (Laughter.) So we put the agents here.</p><p>Then they wanted a fence. Well, the fence is --</p><p>AUDIENCE: Booo!</p><p>THE PRESIDENT: The fence is now basically complete.</p><p>AUDIENCE MEMBER: Tear it down!</p><p>THE PRESIDENT: Then we've gone further. We tripled the number of intelligence analysts working at the border. I've deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the skies from Texas to California. We have forged a partnership with Mexico to fight the transnational criminal organizations that have affected both of our countries. (Applause.) And for the first time — for the first time we're screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments to seize guns and money going south even as we go after drugs that are coming north. (Applause.)</p><p>So, here's the point. I want everybody to listen carefully to this. We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we've done. But even though we've answered these concerns, I've got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.</p><p>AUDIENCE MEMBER: They're racist!</p><p>THE PRESIDENT: You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they're going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they'll want a higher fence. Maybe they'll need a moat. (Laughter.) Maybe they want alligators in the moat. (Laughter.) They'll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That's politics.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>As for Obama's outline for reform, it's essentially what Senate Democrats and Republicans came up with when Obama was in the Senate.</p><p>Illegal immigrants would have to pay their taxes and a fine for breaking the law, learn English and undergo a background check before they would be allowed to remain in the U.S. legally. Hardliners will immediately dismiss this as amnesty.</p><p>Meanwhile, the system would be overhauled to make it easier for immigrants, especially highly skilled ones sought by Silicon Valley high-tech firms and other employers, to enter and remain in the U.S.</p><p>We may be four years or so on from the last time all these kinds of ideas were proposed but the results are likely to be the same as then, that is, not much is likely to change, at least not before 2012. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1305067626?&gn=Obama+Makes+Economic+Argument+To+Americans+For+Immigration+Overhaul&ev=event2&ch=129828651&h1=Domestic+issues,2012,White+House,Congress,It%27s+All+Politics,Illegal+immigration,President+Obama,Around+the+Nation,Politics,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=136183061&c7=1014&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1014&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110510&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=133630641,131551086,130357600,130215202,129828651,128520320,126026613&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Tue, 10 May 2011 16:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-05-10/obama-makes-economic-argument-americans-immigration-overhaul-86350 Sen. McCaskill Hits Political Turbulence; Didn't Pay Taxes For Private Plane http://www.wbez.org/story/2012/2011-03-21/sen-mccaskill-hits-political-turbulence-didnt-pay-taxes-private-plane-84047 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sen-clair-mccaskill.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, was expected to have a difficult 2012 re-election campaign according to the political experts who handicap such things.</p><p>University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato <a href="http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/articles/category/2012-senate/">has her listed</a> as "very vulnerable."</p><p>So the last thing she could afford was to have a story erupt that will give her Republican opponent ready made negative campaign ads, assuming she doesn't have a primary challenge or survives same.</p><p></p><p>Unfortunately for her, that has happened. Politico <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/50957.html">broke the story</a> earlier this month about McCaskill billing the government for the use of a plane she co-owns with her husband.</p><p>White there were no indications of illegality or ethics violations in terms of the flights and McCaskill has said she'd repay more than $88,000 to the U.S. Treasury, a realization of how toxic the story is in the current political climate.</p><p>But on Monday <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51675.html">the story</a> got even more poisonous for her political future. Politico reported that she and her husband failed to pay $287,273 in personal property taxes on the airplane.</p><p>McCaskill is known for being a frequent Twitter user but it <a href="http://twitter.com/clairecmc">doesn't appear she's tweeted</a> on this yet.</p><p>And that's despite obviously having some passionate feelings about the aircraft. A <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51675.html#ixzz1HGladgAT">Politico excerpt</a>:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>"I have convinced my husband to sell the damn plane," McCaskill said on a conference call with reporters. "I will never set foot on the plane again."</p><p></blockquote> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1300744045?&gn=Sen.+McCaskill+Hits+Political+Turbulence%3B+Didn%27t+Pay+Taxes+For+Private+Plane&ev=event2&ch=129828651&h1=Claire+McCaskill,2012,Congress,Democrats,It%27s+All+Politics,Missouri,Around+the+Nation,Politics,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=134742716&c7=1014&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1014&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110321&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=134743939,131551086,130215202,129919600,129828651,125942042&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2012/2011-03-21/sen-mccaskill-hits-political-turbulence-didnt-pay-taxes-private-plane-84047 Tim Pawlenty Making Presidential Exploratory Committee Move http://www.wbez.org/story/2012/2011-03-21/tim-pawlenty-making-presidential-exploratory-committee-move-84025 <p><p>Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is to make it official Monday afternoon that he's forming a presidential exploratory committee which means he's getting closer to launching an all-out run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.</p><p>Pawlenty's <a href="http://www.facebook.com/timpawlenty?sk=app_186229864751823">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/timpawlenty">Twitter</a> pages are alerting his followers to a "special message" scheduled for 3 pm ET.</p><p></p><p>For months now, Pawlenty has sounded like he's been seriously exploring a presidential run. Announcing that he will officially have an exploratory committee is another way for the former governor to get some headlines.</p><p>Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/DC-Decoder/2011/0311/An-exploration-of-the-presidential-exploratory-committee">explains why</a> presidential wannabees start exploratory committees.</p><p>Meanwhile, Jeff Zeleny at the New York Times <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/us/politics/14pawlenty.html?_r=1&ref=jeffzeleny">recently took a look</a> at the 50-year old former governor out on the hustings, looking and sounding for all the world like a presidential candidate. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1300725436?&gn=Tim+Pawlenty+Making+Presidential+Exploratory+Committee+Move&ev=event2&ch=129828651&h1=2012,White+House,It%27s+All+Politics,Tim+Pawlenty,Around+the+Nation,Politics,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=134735611&c7=1014&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1014&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110321&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=131551086,130357600,129828651,128520955&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Mon, 21 Mar 2011 11:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2012/2011-03-21/tim-pawlenty-making-presidential-exploratory-committee-move-84025 Haley Barbour's Challenge: Dropping Deep South's Baggage http://www.wbez.org/story/2012/2011-03-16/haley-barbours-challenge-dropping-deep-souths-baggage-83805 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/haley-barbour-talks-to-gop-women-in-iowa.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi clearly appears to have some built-in advantages in the race for the Republican Party's presidential nomination.</p><p>He knows better than most his party's inner workings, having served in key roles from his days in the Reagan White House's political operation forward.</p><p>Of course, strong and long ties to the party's establishment aren't necessarily positive for a candidate in a GOP with a strong anti-establishment movement like the Tea Party.</p><p>Indeed, his resume could prove a disadvantage to Barbour that other Republican candidates try to exploit in the current climate.</p><p>Reporting for <em>Morning Edition</em>, <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/03/16/134585503/Miss-Gov-Barbour-Weighs-A-Run-For-The-White-House">NPR's Debbie Elliott examined</a> what could be another problem for Barbour — the race issue.</p><p></p><p>An excerpt:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>DEBBIE: But GOP political consultant David Woodard says perhaps the biggest challenge the two-term Governor faces is where he comes from – Mississippi, and its history of racial strife.</p><p>WOODARD: "It just haunts the South. It's just the spector that haunts every politician I believe and it's haunting him."</p><p>DEBBIE: Woodard, a political scientist at Clemson University in South Carolina, says, fair or not, just like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, Barbour must be able to withstand scrutiny on the issue of race. And it's proving difficult.</p><p>Late last year, Barbour had to clarify comments he made to the Weekly Standard about desegregation not "being that bad" in his hometown of Yazoo City.</p><p>Later, he refused to denounce a move by a Mississippi Confederate group to get a car tag in honor of Confederate general and KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest, only to eventually say he would veto any such legislation.</p><p>Woodard says he would have expected the politically savvy Barbour to have been better prepared.</p><p>WOODWARD: "To stumble out of the gate with a racial problem is almost fatal when you come from a Deep South state."</p><p>DEBBIE: Adding to his troubles, <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0311/Barbour_aide_out_after_Japan_joke.html">Barbour's press secretary resigned </a>Monday after circulating an email with an off-color joke about the tsunami in Japan.</p><p></blockquote> Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1300290738?&gn=Haley+Barbour%27s+Challenge%3A+Dropping+Deep+South%27s+Baggage&ev=event2&ch=129828651&h1=Gov.+Haley+Barbour,2012,White+House,Republicans,It%27s+All+Politics,Politics,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=134591848&c7=1014&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1014&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110316&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=132477397,131551086,130357600,129865776,129828651&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Wed, 16 Mar 2011 09:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2012/2011-03-16/haley-barbours-challenge-dropping-deep-souths-baggage-83805