WBEZ | rikeesha phelon http://www.wbez.org/tags/rikeesha-phelon Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Congressional Republicans 'left to the mercy' of Illinois Dems http://www.wbez.org/story/congressional-republicans-left-mercy-illinois-dems-86918 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-22/photo 1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>It's likely to be a few more days before Democrats propose new boundaries for Illinois' U.S. House districts. But Republicans already know they're not going to like it.</p><p>Two things are for sure: (1) Census numbers mean that Illinois is losing a congressional seat; and (2) the new map will favor Democrats, who control redistricting.</p><p>"They could push me East. They could push me West. They could change the district altogether. They could leave it as is," said U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, a freshman Republican from Chicago's Northwest suburbs. "We don't know and because nobody on the Republican side has any seat at this table, we're left to the mercy of the one party in Illinois that's running things."</p><p>Walsh freely acknowledges that if Republicans were in control, they'd draw a map that favors their candidates.</p><p>Meantime, Raja Krishnamoorthi isn't waiting for the new boundaries. The former Democratic candidate for Illinois comptroller is publicly "exploring" a run for Walsh's 8th district.</p><p>In an interview Sunday, Krishnamoorthi said that based on early reports it's "pretty clear that...Democrats are going to be more competitive in this district and other places as well."</p><p>On Tuesday in Springfield, the House and Senate panels tasked with redistricting are scheduled to hold a joint hearing on proposed maps for state legislative districts. This will be the third hearing since those boundaries were released late last week.</p><p>A separate public hearing is planned for following the release of the proposed U.S. House map, according to Rikeesha Phelon, a spokesperson for state Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago.</p><p>"I don't anticipate that it will be early in the week," Phelon wrote in an email.</p><p>Top Democrats want the maps approved before the General Assembly is set to adjourn on May 31st. After that, the proposal would need Republican votes in order to pass.</p></p> Mon, 23 May 2011 19:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/congressional-republicans-left-mercy-illinois-dems-86918 Emanuel lobbying for Chicago casino http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-lobbying-chicago-casino-86734 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-19/Casino Interior_Getty_David McNew.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Rahm Emanuel has lobbied Illinois leaders about bringing a casino to Chicago, the new mayor said Wednesday. As he did during the campaign, Emanuel said he would like the casino to be city-owned.</p><p>"We have a casino in Chicago," Emanuel told reporters Wednesday after chairing his first city council meeting. "It just happens to be in Hammond, Indiana. And we're losing that revenue."</p><p>Facing a budget deficit in the range of $500-700 million, Emanuel said the gaming revenue could certainly be helpful, if it's done right.</p><p>"I have spoken to the leaders of both chambers, both parties, and the governor about the essentialness for a Chicago-owned casino here, as a way of both economic activity and revenue source," Emanuel said.</p><p>The new mayor declined to offer a prediction on whether it can happen during the final weeks of this legislative session, noting that casino legislation in the past has fallen apart.</p><p>"One issue can be alive a minute, something else can happen," Emanuel said of the legislative process. "So if I say something today - even now - by the time I get upstairs, it can be a different note."</p><p>Spokespeople for Democratic leaders said Wednesday that the General Assembly is not focusing on any proposals for a Chicago casino.</p><p>"We'll see if there's a detailed proposal that emerges and then we'll see how people treat it," said Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Mike Madigan.</p><p>Senate President John Cullerton "remains open to discussing a gaming proposal," wrote his spokeswoman, Rikeesha Phelon. "At this time, there is no pending legislation."</p></p> Thu, 19 May 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-lobbying-chicago-casino-86734 Illinois Senate approves civil unions bill http://www.wbez.org/story/civil-unions/civil-unions-bill-heads-illinois-senate <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/AP080506048216.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated At: 2:05pm on 12/01/2010 by City Room and Associated Press<br /></em></p><p>The Illinois Senate has approved civil unions, putting Illinois on the verge of granting official recognition to gay and lesbian couples.</p><p>The measure passed 32-24 Wednesday. It now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, a strong supporter. Civil unions would give gay couples many of the same rights as marriage - for instance, the power to make medical decisions for a seriously ill partner.</p><p>Critics say this would amount to same-sex marriage under a different name. Some senators argued the Legislature shouldn't be discussing civil unions when Illinois faces a massive budget deficit that should get lawmakers' full attention.</p><p>The House approved the measure Tuesday , which would apply to same sex and heterosexual couples.<br /><br />During the debate on the House floor, speakers sounded at times emotional and at times uncomfortable. State Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Greenville, called civil unions a &quot;step down a slippery slope&quot; leading to same-sex marriage.<br /><br />&quot;And I just think that's wrong. I think it, I do,&quot; Stephens said. &quot;You might think I'm wrong in thinking that, but I believe that. Just call me an old-fashioned traditionalist.&quot;<br /><br />Some supporters of same-sex marriage consider civil unions an unacceptable half-measure, an opinion acknowledged by Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, the legislation's sponsor. Harris argued the bill provides a &quot;fair, moderate center.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;It does not change the definition of marriage. It provides basic legal rights to our citizens,&quot; Harris said before the vote. &quot;It's a matter of fairness. It's a matter of respect. It's a matter of equality.&quot;<br /><br />Harris' bill received 61 votes in the House, just one more than was needed for passage.</p><p>A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said in an email that the bill will be called for vote in that chamber on Wednesday.</p><p>&quot;Cullerton hasn't made any roll call predictions,&quot; Rikeesha Phelon wrote. &quot;However, as a vocal supporter of equal rights for same sex couples, he is hopeful and optomistic that the measure will pass the Senate.&quot;</p><p>If it does, the bill will be sent to Gov. Pat Quinn for his signature. The Chicago Democrat has said he supports civil unions.</p></p> Wed, 01 Dec 2010 14:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/civil-unions/civil-unions-bill-heads-illinois-senate