WBEZ | Luis Gutierrez http://www.wbez.org/tags/luis-gutierrez Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Gay rights groups bristle at being excluded from immigration bill http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-rights-groups-bristle-being-excluded-immigration-bill-107316 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/durbin_0_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some Illinois gay rights advocates say they feel betrayed by their Democratic allies because same-sex couples aren&rsquo;t legally recognized in an immigration overhaul bill that&rsquo;s headed to the floor of the U.S. Senate next month.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/legislation/immigration/amendments/Leahy/Leahy7-%28MDM13374%29.pdf" target="_blank">provision</a> to recognize so-called bi-national same-sex couples was dropped from the bill at the last minute on Tuesday, just before it was approved, 13 to 5, by the Senate Judiciary Committee.</p><p>Some Senate Republicans had warned the amendment would sink the larger immigration bill. That apparently prompted some Democrats who traditionally back gay rights issues, including Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, to urge his colleagues to leave the language relating to gay couples out of the bill.</p><p>&quot;I believe in my heart of hearts that what you&#39;re doing is the right and just thing,&quot; Durbin said at Tuesday&rsquo;s hearing. &quot;But I believe this is the wrong moment, that this is the wrong bill.&quot;</p><p>Recognition of a same-sex relationship in federal immigration law would mean that marriage or civil unions could be grounds to grant legal status to an immigrant spouse, or to prevent their deportation. Federal law currently defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, although the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing the issue.</p><p>Its exclusion from the Senate bill, after months of lobbying lawmakers, prompted a backlash from Illinois gay rights advocates.</p><p>&ldquo;My initial reaction is anger. Anger that, again, we get scapegoated,&rdquo; said Julio Rodriguez, chair of the LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Coalition of Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not only a tragedy, but I think it&rsquo;s a sad statement on the part of our allies, and the relationships that I think we believed that we had,&rdquo; Rodriguez said.</p><p>Despite the setback, activists will continue to lobby lawmakers to include recognition for gay couples in a later amendment to the bill in the Democrat-led U.S. Senate, said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state&rsquo;s largest gay rights advocacy group.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the right bill and this is the right time,&rdquo; Cherkasov said Wednesday. &ldquo;You know, this is a comprehensive immigration reform. This could be the only chance we have in a decade, if not in a generation, to fix all the problems of our broken immigration system.&rdquo;</p><p>The pressure from gay rights groups puts Illinois&rsquo; two senators in a difficult political position. Durbin is a liberal Democrat who has traditionally enjoyed support from the gay rights community, and Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk recently bucked his own party to announce his support for same-sex marriage.</p><p>But Durbin didn&rsquo;t immediately respond to WBEZ&rsquo;s interview request Wednesday. And Kirk&rsquo;s office declined to comment on whether he supports recognition of same-sex couples, saying that he&rsquo;s still reviewing the bill.</p><p>The news comes as a blow to the estimated 267,000 gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, according to one <a href="http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/census-lgbt-demographics-studies/us-lgbt-immigrants-mar-2013/" target="_blank">recent study</a>.</p><p>The lack of legal recognition puts that group in limbo, said Phillip Knoll, a 31-year-old Chicagoan who has been dating his boyfriend, who came to the United States from Singapore on a student visa, for the last five years. The legal uncertainty makes it hard to plan for their future together, Knoll said.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s weird to have to consider whether or not you&rsquo;re able to make the sort of decision that&rsquo;s really personal, and that something political has to happen first,&rdquo; Knoll said. &ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s an odd way to think of yourself.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, Knoll said he and his partner remain optimistic that they&rsquo;ll stay together geographically. But down the road, Knoll said his boyfriend&rsquo;s immigration status could affect their decision to marry &ndash; or even to leave the U.S.</p><p>&ldquo;And it would feel like getting pushed out, right?&rdquo; Knoll said.&rdquo; I think it would feel like we were not welcome in the country [where] I was born, and in a country that he&rsquo;s been welcome as a student. Why can&rsquo;t he stay and contribute?&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alex Keefe is a WBEZ political reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/akeefe" target="_blank">@akeefe</a></em></p></p> Wed, 22 May 2013 15:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gay-rights-groups-bristle-being-excluded-immigration-bill-107316 Where was Congressman Gutierrez at 25? http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-congressman-gutierrez-25-107062 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/luis25.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://gutierrez.house.gov/about-me/full-biography">Illinois U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez</a> has made a name for himself across the nation as one of the most vocal &nbsp;proponents of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/gutierrez-ryan-push-immigration-overhaul-chicago-106786">immigration reform</a>.</p><p>Gutierrez is a longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives &ndash; he&#39;s been serving since 1992. And years before that, he served as alderman of the 26th Ward in Chicago.</p><p>So, you&rsquo;d think, this guy must have been working toward a spot on Capitol Hill all his life.</p><p>Wrong.</p><p>25-year-old Luis Gutierrez was a 1st, 2nd and 3rd teacher in Puerto Rico. He had followed his then-girlfriend, Soraida, there and eventually married her.</p><p>The two were making a life for themselves - Soraida was going to school, and Luis was the lone male teacher in a little school out in the mountains. He was paid minimum wage - about $3.25 per hour, he says &ndash; which was hardly enough to feed the two of them and get Soraida to school. So, as Gutierrez recalls, he gave what little money he had to Soraida for school and then got creative.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember - it&rsquo;s probably a violation of the law today, I hope it wasn&rsquo;t one then, although I&rsquo;m sure the statute of limitations have run out,&rdquo; Gutierrez said. &ldquo;I used to eat with all the children in the school lunch program.&rdquo;</p><p>Gutierrez says he soon realized Puerto Rico wasn&rsquo;t the best option for him and his wife, so they moved back to Chicago, where he was from originally. After a month or so of fruitless attempts to find a job, Gutierrez decided to get his his chauffeur&#39;s license and drive a cab.</p><p>Yes, you read that right. Illinois U.S. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZbMdFUFAro">Congressman Luis Gutierrez</a>, drove a cab when he was 25 years old.</p><p>&ldquo;So, for all of those that see the cab driver, remember, it could be a transitional moment in their life, and one day they could be actually adopting and proposing the laws of the nation, that guy in the front seat,&rdquo; Gutierrez said.</p><p>In this interview with WBEZ&rsquo;s Lauren Chooljian, Gutierrez tells the stories of his 25th year, and explains how that person had not a clue in the world that he&rsquo;d wind up in elected politics. He also discusses how his personality has changed over the years, and what parts of his 25-year-old self had to change in order to be the lawmaker he is today.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is the WBEZ Morning Producer and Reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Tue, 07 May 2013 15:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-congressman-gutierrez-25-107062 Gutierrez, Ryan push immigration overhaul in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/gutierrez-ryan-push-immigration-overhaul-chicago-106786 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ryan gutierrez WBEZ Alex Keefe.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Midwestern political odd couple teamed up in Chicago Monday to build momentum for an immigration overhaul in Congress, even as some lawmakers have urged a slowdown following last week&rsquo;s bombings at the Boston Marathon.</p><p>United States Reps. Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat, and Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said they hope to usher an immigration reform bill through the GOP-led House by the end of the summer.</p><p>A sweeping immigration bill that would provide a path to legalization for millions of illegal immigrants was introduced in the U.S. Senate last week. Gutierrez said he and Ryan are in the process of drafting a House bill.</p><p>&ldquo;[N]ow it is time, at the end of the day, after they sweat and they toil, that they can receive the same satisfaction of being a citizen,&rdquo; Gutierrez said.</p><p>Ryan, meanwhile, stressed that changing the &ldquo;broken&rdquo; immigration system goes along with quintessentially Republican ideals. He pointed to his own family&rsquo;s immigration from Ireland during the Great Famine.</p><p>&ldquo;There is no other economic system &ndash; no other immigration system &ndash; that has done more to lift people out of poverty than the American free enterprise system and the American immigration system that we have here,&rdquo; Ryan said.</p><p>The congressmen offered few specifics about the contours of a House immigration bill, but they did highlight several possible components.</p><p>The measure would include an electronic verification system that would allow employers to check the immigration status of would-be workers, Gutierrez said. He also stressed that U.S. officials should crack down on people who overstay their visas, and wants to implement a guest worker program that includes safeguards to protect immigrants against exploitation.</p><p>Ryan, for his part, stressed that an immigration overhaul would strengthen national security by beefing up the country&rsquo;s borders.</p><p>In the wake of the Boston bombings, allegedly perpetrated by two ethnic Chechen brothers who immigrated to the U.S. legally, some Republicans have raised concerns about moving forward with an immigration overhaul too quickly.</p><p>But Ryan said he&rsquo;s not concerned about fellow Republican withdrawing their support, and cautioned against making a &ldquo;knee-jerk assessment&rdquo; about how the Boston bombings might play on Capitol Hill.</p><p>&ldquo;We need a modern immigration that helps us not only protect our border, but protects national security in all of its aspects,&rdquo; Ryan said. &ldquo;So if anything, I would say this is an argument for modernizing our immigration laws.&rdquo;</p><p>A bill in the U.S. Senate would provide a path toward legal status for millions of illegal immigrants, provided they pay a fines and back taxes. Those immigrants could be eligible for citizenship after 13 years. The bill would also provide billions of dollars to beef up border security, and would impose an electronic verification system for employers.</p><p>But some groups have taken issue with the Senate bill, saying it may not provide enough protections for some foreign workers. Others have complained it would abolish visas for immigrants from countries that are underrepresented in the U.S.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 17:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/gutierrez-ryan-push-immigration-overhaul-chicago-106786 Gutiérrez: Cicero officials trying to suppress Latino vote http://www.wbez.org/news/guti%C3%A9rrez-cicero-officials-trying-suppress-latino-vote-105591 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Gutierrez%20and%20Ochoa%209crop.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 234px; width: 250px;" title="U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez and Cicero candidate Juan Ochoa, right, on Monday call for investigations of alleged voter intimidation. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></p><div>A door-to-door canvass by town of Cicero employees over the weekend has U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-4th, and a candidate for the town president&rsquo;s post calling for probes of alleged voter suppression.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Gutiérrez and Juan Ochoa, who is trying to unseat Town President Larry Dominick, say Cicero community-service workers visited homes on Saturday and Sunday to harass and intimidate Latino voters who had requested mail-in ballots ahead of the western suburb&rsquo;s Feb. 26 primary.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The town employees, according to an Ochoa campaign statement, &ldquo;knowingly and falsely portrayed themselves as police officers or private investigators and interrogated and intimidated voters, telling them that voting by mail is illegal and that, if they submitted their mail-in ballots, they would be committing fraud and that their votes would not count.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At a news conference Monday, the Ochoa campaign called on Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez, Clerk David Orr and Sheriff Tom Dart to investigate the canvass.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;You need to come here to Cicero and protect the rights of [Latino voters],&rdquo; said Gutiérrez, who is backing Ochoa in the primary. &ldquo;Alvarez, come here. Protect the voters here against this infamy of corruption here in Cicero.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ochoa, former chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, said the Dominick campaign had &ldquo;used public resources to intimidate and suppress the Latino vote.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>About 87 percent of Cicero&rsquo;s 84,000 residents are Hispanic, according to the 2010 census.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Cicero officials insisted that the town employees were only looking into what they characterized as likely fraud in the absentee-voting process.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;There were people applying for absentee ballots from lots that are empty lots, from boarded-up homes, from churches &mdash; asking for absentee ballots from places that they could not possibly live at,&rdquo; Thomas Bradley, an attorney for the town, said at a Monday afternoon news conference.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Cicero spokesman Ray Hanania said about 2,000 absentee ballots had been requested for the primary. That number, he said, was about five times more than in previous town elections.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A Dart spokesman said the sheriff was aware of the Cicero situation and, as a result, planning to increase the number of sheriff&rsquo;s employees scheduled to help monitor next week&rsquo;s balloting.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But the spokesman, Frank Bilecki, made no promises the sheriff&rsquo;s office would probe anything before Election Day. &ldquo;We would have powers to investigate but it has traditionally fallen under the purview of the state&rsquo;s attorney and Illinois attorney general,&rdquo; Bilecki said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Orr, at a news conference Monday afternoon,&nbsp;said his office had notified the U.S. Justice Department and Alvarez&rsquo;s office about the allegations of both voter intimidation and fraud.&nbsp;Orr said Alvarez&rsquo;s office had begun investigating the allegations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Alvarez&rsquo;s spokespersons on Monday&nbsp;did not respond to WBEZ requests for comment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The skirmish follows months of charges and countercharges by the campaigns. Dominick&rsquo;s team has alleged that Ochoa has used gang members as campaign workers. Ochoa&rsquo;s campaign has pointed to Dominick family members on the town payroll and to Cicero&rsquo;s history of mafia influence.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dominick, a former Cicero police officer, is seeking a third four-year term.</p><p><em>Angelica Robinson contributed reporting. Follow <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 18 Feb 2013 14:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/guti%C3%A9rrez-cicero-officials-trying-suppress-latino-vote-105591 Durbin to undocumented youths: Watch out for unscrupulous lawyers http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-undocumented-youths-watch-out-unscrupulous-lawyers-101546 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Durbin4cropscaled.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 401px; width: 250px; " title="‘Don’t let them exploit you,’ the senator tells immigrants in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood Tuesday afternoon. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Two U.S. congressmen from Illinois are warning undocumented youths not to pay steep fees to get help applying for a deportation reprieve under a new immigration policy.</p><p>Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, both Democrats, say most eligible youths can take advantage of the policy, known as &ldquo;deferred action,&rdquo; without a lawyer or any payment beyond a $465 fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency accepting the applications.</p><p>&ldquo;There are <em>notarios </em>as well as attorneys out there who are trying to take money away from these young people and their families,&rdquo; Durbin said Tuesday afternoon at a meeting with immigrants in Chicago&rsquo;s Pilsen neighborhood. &ldquo;They say, &lsquo;Oh, give me $1,000, give me $2,000, and I will help you.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t let them exploit you,&rdquo; Durbin said.</p><p>Under the policy, announced by President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration in June, undocumented immigrants can request permission to stay and work in the country by submitting a document starting August 15. The administration, which has not released that document yet, is expecting more than 1 million requests, according to an Associated Press report.</p><p>To qualify, immigrants must be 30 or younger, have arrived in the United States before turning 16, have lived in the country at least five years, and be in school or graduated or served in the military. They also must have no criminal record and pose no safety threat. The permission to live and work in the country lasts two years and is renewable.</p><p>The policy does not provide a path to citizenship &mdash; a key difference from stalled legislation, known as the DREAM Act, that Durbin has pushed for more than a decade.</p><p>Durbin and Gutiérrez urged immigrants who may be eligible for relief under the policy to attend an August 15 workshop at Chicago&rsquo;s Navy Pier, where the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is organizing hundreds of volunteers to provide information and help fill out the applications.</p><p>Gutiérrez added that the policy could lead to an overhaul that stretches far beyond the youths. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s incumbent upon us, now that we&rsquo;ve got this, to move on to their moms and their dads,&rdquo; the representative said. &ldquo;Comprehensive immigration reform is what is necessary and that&rsquo;s what we&rsquo;re going to work on next.&rdquo;</p><p>Conservative critics call the Obama policy a backdoor amnesty plan aimed at increasing the president&rsquo;s Latino support before November&rsquo;s election.</p></p> Tue, 07 Aug 2012 16:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-undocumented-youths-watch-out-unscrupulous-lawyers-101546 Emanuel's former opponents grade his first 100 days http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuels-former-opponents-grade-his-first-100-days-91045 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-26/AP110217115127.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today we wrap up our coverage of Rahm Emanuel's first 100 days in office. All week we've brought you stories about the new Chicago mayor: what he's accomplished, where he's fallen short.</p><p>Now we give the microphone to people who tried to stop Emanuel from getting the job in the first place. We asked the mayor's political opponents to grade his first 100 days.</p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483665-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-august/2011-08-26/emanuel-critics-feature110826sh.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>Miguel del Valle thinks this story is stupid. Okay, so he didn't actually say that to me. He's too polite. But last week at a diner on Western Avenue, around bites of oatmeal and raisins, del Valle complained about the whole notion of 100 day assessments.</p><p>"Well, I don't think it's a benchmark that should be used at all," del Valle said. "It takes time."</p><p>Del Valle is a former city clerk, and up until February 22, a candidate for mayor. He finished a very distant third to Emanuel.</p><p>"The 100 days is more about a perception of whether or not there's movement, whether of not that movement is in the right direction," del Valle said.</p><p>One area where del Valle thinks Emanuel is moving in the wrong direction is on property taxes.</p><p>"The mayor said there would not be a property tax increase in the city of Chicago," del Valle said. "Well, we're looking at a property tax increase for CPS. Now, I think it's a bit disingenuine on the part of the administration to say, 'Well,&nbsp; we said that there wouldn't be a property tax increase for city services.' Well, the schools are a part of the city."</p><p>Generally speaking, though, del Valle said Emanuel is doing well, has energy and a no-nonsense approach to governing. But he said it's too early to judge how Emanuel will do when it comes to the city's $600 million budget deficit, or other big-ticket items.</p><p>"Well, I'd give him an A for effort," said another mayoral candidate, Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, delivering a preliminary grade for Emanuel. If the 2015 election were held today, Watkins said she'd vote for her one-time opponent.</p><p>"He has surpassed my expectations," Watkins said. "I did not expect him to get out in the neighborhoods like he has, and talk to the people, because he shied away from all the forums. And he was more like a television - he ran a campaign - a Rose Garden campaign. But I've seen him in the neighborhoods. And I've seen him talk to people, and try to figure out what people are concerned about."</p><p>One thing Watkins is concerned about that she hasn't heard Emanuel address, is the issue of ex-offenders: how to help people leaving prison stay out of prison.</p><p>"Now, I met with Rahm Emanuel right after the election, and I talked to him about the ex-offender issue," Watkins recalled. "And he told me he understood it. He said, 'I understand if we do not provide some type of re-entry support for people coming back...they're going to continue in that cycle and we're going to continue to pay. He said, 'I haven't figured out how to deal with it yet.' But he said, 'It's important to me, and I am thinking about it, and I want you to know that.'"</p><p>Watkins is still waiting.</p><p>During the campaign, she got a lot of exposure after a major candidate, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, ridiculed Watkins for her past - admitted - drug abuse.</p><p>The former senator declined to talk for this story, because - she told me - an interview would be like "one cocktail" for a "recovering politician." But one of her key supporters did agree to weigh in on Emanuel's first 100 days.</p><p>"Right now, it's a mixed review," said Jonathan Jackson, who is the national spokesman for Rainbow PUSH, and - though he'd rather not be known just for this - the son of the Reverend Jesse Jackson. He sharply criticized Emanuel during the campaign as a stranger to the South Side who only came around to get votes.</p><p>Sitting in his father's office last week, Jackson told me he wishes Emanuel were speaking out more on some things - like the increase in shootings by police. But he sees positive signs.</p><p>"I would congratulate him on taking a stand on increasing the school day," Jackson said. "I like to see that the new schools CEO is going to reinstitute recess back into the Chicago Public Schools. It never should have been gone. So those are important steps."</p><p>Jackson said he has not met or talked with Emanuel since the election day, though he acknowledged he has not requested a meeting.</p><p>U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez has met with Emanuel. Perhaps uncomfortably, though, as Gutierrez backed candidate Gery Chico in the mayoral race, and recorded a Spanish-language commercial claiming Emanuel "turned his back to us and our most vulnerable families" when it came to immigration reform.</p><p>Gutierrez's tone has changed dramatically. The congressman's spokesman said in an email that Gutierrez "is extremely impressed and encouraged by the mayor's first few months in office" especially his work "related to immigrants." And he said Gutierrez and Emanuel are "developing a good working relationship."</p><p>Gery Chico, it should be noted, has been appointed chair of the state Board of Education but is still awaiting state Senate confirmation - a limbo that could explain why he didn't answer my repeated interview requests.</p><p>Chico's biggest supporters during the campaign - and therefore, Rahm Emanuel's biggest detractors - were labor leaders. And many of them declined to comment for this story. But not Rocco Terranova.</p><p>In addition to having an awesome name, Rocco Terranova is head of the Sheet Metal Workers' Union Local 73. About a thousand of his members live in Chicago, but only 87 of them work for the city. Still, their union was - and is - concerned about Emanuel. About privatization that could cost jobs. About overtime changes that could mean smaller paychecks.</p><p>"He's probably a little better. He's better than we thought," Terranova said this week. "We haven't had a lot of changes that we thought were going to come down right away against the unions, to be honest. So, we haven't...we feel very fortunate to be working with him."</p><p>Other union leaders have criticized Emanuel's early posturing with labor. But for the sheet metal workers, the mayor is benefiting from exceptionally low expectations.</p><p>And there could be something else at play in all this nice talk. Who could blame Rocco Terranova, Luis Gutierrez and other former Emanuel critics from trying to develop "working relationships" with him? Or all those others who didn't want their comments in this story?</p><p>For at least the next three years and 265-odd days, he is the mayor.</p></p> Fri, 26 Aug 2011 17:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuels-former-opponents-grade-his-first-100-days-91045 GOP members of Congress sue Illinois over remap http://www.wbez.org/story/gop-members-congress-sue-illinois-over-remap-89731 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-28/IL-congressional-maps-3_WBEZ_file.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois are suing the state over new boundaries for congressional districts.</p><p>According to the lawsuit filed in federal court, the new map is an "outrageous partisan gerrymander" designed to eliminate five Republicans in next year's election.</p><p>The lawsuit also makes the case that Latino voting power is being diluted. The map, it claims, packs "an excessive super-majority of Latino voters" into U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez's district.</p><p>The complaint was filed by all of the state's congressional Republicans except for U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson.</p><p>"While Congressman Johnson believes the redistricting process leading to this map was unfair and a distortion of the people's wishes, these challenges have not succeeded in the past," said Johnson's spokesman, Phil Bloomer. "So Congressman Johnson has decided to devote his energy and his resources to his re-election campaign."</p><p>Bloomer added that Johnson is "hopeful that an impartial court will modify the map in a way that's in the voters' best interests."</p><p>If the map remains intact, it's likely to set up some incumbent-versus-incumbent GOP primary fights. One Republican House member who finds himself in a complicated political position is freshman Joe Walsh from the Northwest suburbs. He currently represents the 8th Congressional District.</p><p>"I know I'm running somewhere," Walsh said Tuesday, before the lawsuit was filed. "I don't know where. I live in what would be the new 14th. My district office is in what would be the new 10th. A big chunk of my district is in what would be the new 6th."</p><p>If Walsh does choose to run where he lives - the 14th - it is likely to set up a primary against another freshman congressman, Randy Hultgren.</p><p>On Wednesday, the heavy-weight conservative group Club for Growth announced in a news release that if the redistricting lawsuit fails, it will endorse Walsh for that seat.</p><p>"In less than a year, Congressman Walsh has distinguished himself as a pro-growth leader," said Chris Chocola, the group's president and a former congressman from Indiana.</p><p>Hultgren's staff didn't immediately return requests for comment.</p><p>Last week the GOP's leaders in the Illinois legislature, state Rep. Tom Cross and state Sen. Christine Radogno, sued the state over the boundaries included in the map for state legislative districts.</p><p>Both lawsuits name as defendants the Illinois State Board of Elections, which will be represented in court by the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.</p><p>Regarding both cases, Madigan spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler emailed, "We plan to vigorously defend the state."</p></p> Wed, 27 Jul 2011 20:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/gop-members-congress-sue-illinois-over-remap-89731 Chicago Democrats clash over Illinois House seat http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-democrats-clash-over-illinois-house-seat-87408 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-03/MendozaCityHallcrop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A top Chicago official is criticizing the way her party is filling her former Illinois House seat.<br> <br> Susana Mendoza resigned as District 1 representative last month to become city clerk. To replace her, the district’s Democratic ward committeemen chose Chicago police Sgt. Dena Carli.<br> <br> Party insiders say the plan is for Carli to exit the seat this summer, once a long-term replacement establishes residency in the district, which spans parts of several Southwest Side neighborhoods, including Little Village, Brighton Park and Gage Park.<br> <br> The sources say Carli’s replacement will be Silvana Tabares, a former editor of the bilingual weekly newspaper Extra. Tabares graduated last year from the leadership academy of the United Neighborhood Organization, a clout-heavy Latino group.<br> <br> UNO chief Juan Rangel says he doesn’t know anything about the plan but praises Tabares. “She would be, by far, the best candidate to fill the seat,” Rangel says.<br> <br> Mendoza doesn’t think so. She pushed for her replacement to be Evelyn Rodríguez, an aide to U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Illinois.<br> <br> “Neither Carli nor Tabares is qualified,” Mendoza says. “The citizens and the residents of the First District were completely shortchanged in this process.”<br> <br> The Illinois constitution requires state lawmakers to live in their district for two years before their election or appointment.<br> <br> Tabares, listed at 4335 S. Spaulding Ave., says she’s lived in the district for “about two years” but claims she can’t remember the month she moved in.<br> <br> Tabares says she’s eager to serve in the seat but says she knows nothing about the plan for her to take it. She referred WBEZ questions about the plan to two of the committeemen: Chicago Ald. Ed Burke, Ward 14, and State Sen. Tony Muñoz, District 1.<br> <br> Burke and Muñoz didn’t return the station’s calls about the seat. Neither did Carli.</p></p> Fri, 03 Jun 2011 21:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-democrats-clash-over-illinois-house-seat-87408 What the numbers mean for Emanuel, Braun and Chico http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-02-25/what-numbers-mean-emanuel-braun-and-chico-82949 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Rahm Election Night_Getty_Scott Olson.JPG" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img title="" alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-February/2011-02-25/rahm%26carol.jpg" style="width: 487px; height: 313px;" /></p><p>There&rsquo;s no disputing the numbers: Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel had an overwhelming victory in an election that &ndash; while not quite as big as had been anticipated &ndash; brought a higher percentage of registered voters to the polls than any other municipal campaign since 1995.</p><p><span style="font-family: Arial;">Emanuel won the heavily white, Jewish and gay lakefront by more than 60 percent of the vote, scoring nearly 75 percent in the 42<sup>nd</sup>, 43<sup>rd</sup> and 44<sup>th</sup>.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Rahm also won four of the ten Latino majority wards: the 26<sup>th</sup>, 30<sup>th</sup>, 31<sup>st</sup>, 33<sup>rd</sup> and 35<sup>th</sup> &ndash; all north side wards, each and every one far away from his good buddy Juan Rangel&rsquo;s sphere of influence (in other words, though Rahm may be giving him a shout out, there&rsquo;s no way Juan, based on the southwest side, had squat to do with those victories).</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">But most significantly &ndash; and perhaps most crucial to avoiding a run-off -- Emanuel won every single African-American majority ward in the city: the 3<sup>rd</sup>, 4<sup>th</sup>, 5<sup>th</sup>, 6<sup>th</sup>, 7<sup>th</sup>, 8<sup>th</sup>, 9<sup>th</sup>, 15<sup>th</sup>, 16th, 17<sup>th</sup>, 18<sup>th</sup>, 20<sup>th</sup>, 21<sup>st</sup>, 24<sup>th</sup>, 28<sup>th</sup>, 29<sup>th</sup>, 34<sup>th</sup> and 37<sup>th</sup>.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">And he won big -- often by breathtaking margins of 30 and even 40 points. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">No question the President&rsquo;s coattails were long in this case (again, in spite of Rahm&rsquo;s shout out, I don&rsquo;t buy that Jesse White&rsquo;s late endorsement had much to do with this win). And there seems little doubt that, in spite of a pre-election<a href="http://www.chicagodefender.com/article-10079-we-endorse-carol-moseley-braun-for-mayor-feb-22.html"> editorial</a> in <em>The Chicago Defender</em> that endorsed Carol Moseley Braun and claimed Emanuel &ldquo;has shown no affinity for (Chicago&rsquo;s) 1 million African-Americans,&rdquo; the vast majority of the city&rsquo;s black voters thought otherwise. Emanuel&rsquo;s victory margins in each African-American majority ward evidence support &ndash; frankly, very enthusiastic support.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">But in a contest with a &ldquo;consensus&rdquo; black candidate &ndash; with a campaign supported by some of the African-American community&rsquo;s best known and best loved figures and financed by black millionaires -- this kind of turnout for Rahm Emanuel is also irrefutable testimony of just how out of touch the old black leadership may well be with its own grassroots community. It is also startling proof of the utter lack of an on-the-ground organization to get the vote out, which means the &quot;consensus&quot; group's endorsement was ultimately meaningless.<br /></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">How badly did Braun, the &ldquo;consensus&rdquo; candidate, lose? Catastrophically. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">She came in fourth overall in the city, behind both Gery Chico and Miguel del Valle, and only better than the other two African-American candidates, both mavericks who were never expected to get more a few votes. </span><span style="font-family: Arial;">In her own 5th ward, Emanuel humiliated Braun 62 percent to 16.7 percent.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Carol didn&rsquo;t win a single ward &ndash; <em>not one</em> &ndash; in all of Chicago. And in the black majority wards, that was <em>her </em>Rahm Emanuel was trouncing by 30 to 40 points over and over. <br /></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">In the 18<sup>th</sup> ward, where African Americans make up nearly 68 percent of the population, Braun even came in <em>third</em> to Chico, 20.3 percent to 17.7 percent. Granted, the 18<sup>th</sup> ward has a maverick streak: Until Mayor Daley appointed Lola Lane to finish out Thomas Murphy&rsquo;s term once he got bumped up to judge, Murphy had been the only white alderman from a black majority ward. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">In fact, outside of the black majority wards, Braun was held to <em>single digits</em>. Only in the 27<sup>th</sup>, which is a black plurality ward, did she hit 10.5 percent of the vote.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">And in four wards &ndash; the 14<sup>th</sup>, 38<sup>th</sup>, 41<sup>st</sup>, and 45<sup>th</sup> (all white majority except the 14<sup>th</sup>, which has a Hispanic majority), she actually scored<em> less than one percent</em>.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">In spite of endorsing Braun days before election (in a twisted editorial that emphasized her resume way more than her achievements), <em>The Defender</em>&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.chicagodefender.com/article-10128-black-chicago-leadership-failed-in-this-election.html">editorial</a> late on election night may have bared the staff&rsquo;s real frustrations:</span></p> <blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Arial;">&ldquo;This election was lost over the last 22 years, because what constitutes Black leadership in Chicago seemed to be caught with its pants down when Daley decided he wasn&rsquo;t going to run for re-election. Since Harold Washington died in 1987, a whole generation of able and qualified aspirants to City Hall have been co-opted, bought out, or chased away, and when leaders went looking for mayoral candidates, they found the cupboards largely bare. So we got Cong. Danny Davis, at 69, running for mayor, a year older than Daley, who was retiring. We got Braun, who had not been active in politics for nearly 15 years, stepping into the fray. We had William &lsquo;Dock&rsquo; Walls running for this third different post in the last four years, and we had Patricia Van Pelt Watkins coming out of nowhere to seek the office of mayor in her first foray into politics. She obviously didn&rsquo;t read the book about paying political dues &hellip; This was a watershed election for Chicago, but especially for Black Chicago. Not only could we not come up with a &lsquo;consensus&rsquo; Black candidate (while the white community certainly did by sending Tom Dart and Lisa Madigan home to spend more time with family), we didn&rsquo;t really support any Black candidate.&rdquo;</span></p></blockquote><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Indeed, it might be time to make way, not for those who still have memories of Harold but for those for whom Harold fought for a better future long after he was gone.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">One other election note: Second place winner Gery Chico won ten wards, of which six were Latino majority wards. But the actual picture&rsquo;s a little bit more complicated. <br /></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Who supported Chico? Well, if you look at the wards he won, Chico's Machine ties are glaring. His victories came in:</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; * the 10<sup>th</sup> ward, Ed Vrdolyak&rsquo;s old territory, where alderman and committeeman John Pope adheres to Machine tradition; </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; * the 11<sup>th</sup>, run by John Daley, the most &quot;old school&quot; of the Daleys; </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; * the 12<sup>th</sup>, coordinated by committeeman Tony Muñoz, the Machine ally who ousted progressive Jesus Garcia as state senator years ago;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; * Michael Madigan&rsquo;s 13<sup>th</sup>;<span style="">&nbsp; </span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; * Ed Burke&rsquo;s 14<sup>th</sup>; <span style="">&nbsp;</span></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; * the 19<sup>th</sup>, where Matt O&rsquo;Shea, the new alderman and heir to Machine stalwart Virginia Rugai, is also the committeeman;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; * the 23<sup>rd</sup>, which is run by Daley&rsquo;s president <em>pro tempore</em> of the City Council, Michael Zalewski, also the old school ward committeeman; </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; * and finally, the 25<sup>th</sup>, where Ald. Danny Solis is also the committeeman, and when he&rsquo;s not Daley&rsquo;s best Latino ally in the council, he&rsquo;s allied with Cong. Luis Gutierrez, who put everything he had into getting Chico elected this time.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Chico also won the 41<sup>st</sup>, the city&rsquo;s most Republican ward (and the most bipartisan, if we&rsquo;re talking old style Dems), where he may have found his most natural constituency. It&rsquo;s fair to say that most GOPers would find Rahm Emanuel's politics unthinkable, except for the utterly unfathomable and even more liberal and progressive politics of Carol Moseley Braun and Miguel del Valle. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Chico also won the 22<sup>nd</sup>, the city&rsquo;s most Latino ward, where he challenged alderman and committeeman Rick Munoz, County Commissioner Jesus Garcia and state legislature aspirant Rudy Lozano, Jr., all del Valle supporters, on their home turf. This was a classic 22<sup>nd</sup> ward fight, where ethnicity doesn&rsquo;t matter and the very last remnants of the Machine refuse to die while the progressives continue to flail. It&rsquo;s also the ward which historically casts the fewest votes, as was the case again with 4,847.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">And in spite of the tough words Chico had for Rahm Emanuel during the campaign, be assured that Chico will be back, and probably sooner rather than later. David Mosena, the former Daley chief of staff who made Chico his deputy and launched his career as Daley&rsquo;s go-to guy, has just been named to Mayor-elect Emanuel&rsquo;s transition team. </span><span style="font-family: Arial;"><br /></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;"><br /></span></p></p> Fri, 25 Feb 2011 06:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-02-25/what-numbers-mean-emanuel-braun-and-chico-82949 Why Gery Chico is the white candidate for mayor http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-02-18/why-gery-chico-white-candidate-mayor-82503 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Gery Chico Debate_Getty_Scott Olson_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: center;"><img title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-February/2011-02-18/Gery Chico Debate_Getty_Scott Olson.JPG" style="width: 496px; height: 356px;" /></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Every time I see or hear Gery Chico&rsquo;s commercial targeting Latinos I&rsquo;m always amazed. In it, Congressman Luis Gutierrez looks straight at the camera and talks about what a great guy Chico is and how he will get things done. It&rsquo;s a peculiar bit of theater for a number of reasons. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">First, there&rsquo;s the Gutierrez endorsement itself. Mainstream media bat it around as if Luis could snap his fingers and deliver all 15 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s Hispanic voters. It actually means a lot less than it seems, and it has a lot more to do with Gutierrez than with Chico.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Let&rsquo;s be clear: Gutierrez is backing Chico because he needed a horse in this race and the other three were out of the question. Rahm Emanuel is anathema to Luis because of his role in the Obama administration&rsquo;s regressive immigration policies, Gutierrez has been around long enough to know exactly how unreliable Carol Moseley Braun is, and he and Miguel del Valle &ndash; both Puerto Ricans &ndash; have been nursing schoolyard grudges since the early 80s. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">But the other reason the commercial is so odd is that Chico, selling himself as a Latino for only the second time in his life, doesn&rsquo;t actually appear in the clip until the very end, in a still image. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">I&rsquo;m not doubting Chico&rsquo;s ethnic claims: his father was a Mexican immigrant and his family has long roots in the community. But the only two times Chico has made his ethnicity clear or pretended to have some claim to <em>latinidad</em> has been in his two runs for public office: now and in 2004, when he ran against Barack Obama and a handful of others for the U.S. Senate. No big surprise that in both cases &ndash; now and then &ndash; being Latino has certain advantages.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Which makes the Gutierrez commercial even curiouser: there&rsquo;s the congressman, at ease, chattering away in Spanish, and Chico, static and silent, looking up and away. Perhaps Chico didn&rsquo;t want to speak his broken Spanish on camera, but that seems absurd when even Mark Kirk was willing to <em>hablar español</em>. And, frankly, no one expects second generation immigrant kids &ndash; like Chico &ndash; to speak it perfectly. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">At the end of the commercial, we&rsquo;re left with the feeling that Chico wants just enough identification from the viewer but not too much closeness: to be seen as a Latino leader by Hispanics so they might be predisposed to vote for him, but not to be seen talking to Hispanics as one of them.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">That&rsquo;s actually no surprise when you consider that Gery Chico, Latino though he may be, is really the default white candidate in this mayoral contest. Not because of any doubts about his ethnicity but because he represents &ndash; he&rsquo;s bought and sold &ndash; by the traditional white interests in Chicago.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">In other words, whatever&rsquo;s left of the old Democratic Machine.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Arial;">*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">If you scan the archives of local newspapers, whether it&rsquo;s the <em>Tribune</em> or the <em>Reader</em> or any of myriad community newspapers, Gery Chico&rsquo;s name starts popping up in the early 90s, at almost the same time that Mayor Richard M. Daley Daley named him deputy chief of staff. A few early articles mention his Mexican father but no one points out &ndash; least of all Chico &ndash; that he&rsquo;s a Latino from Back-of-the-Yards. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Chico supporters have told me that&rsquo;s because Chico transcends race, that he doesn&rsquo;t depend on race, that it&rsquo;s his talent that gets him places, etc. And I&rsquo;d say if that was true at the start of his career, then going Latino now seems both regressive and opportunistic. Never mind the fantasy that anyone in Chicago could actually transcend race. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">In any case, Chico&rsquo;s political story is well known: It begins with Daley, but much earlier than the early 1990s, when he wandered into Richard J. Daley&rsquo;s ward office, the very heart of the old Democratic Machine, and volunteered. This was 1977, Chico was 21, and the Machine had long established its credentials as a suffocating racist behemoth. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Chico&rsquo;s good work in the ward got him entry jobs in City Hall and the City Council. In a recent article in the <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/gery-chico-mayor-daley-ties/Content?oid=3096658"><em>Reader</em></a>, Chico told Ben Joravsky, &quot;I didn't like the racial divisiveness of Council Wars &hellip; At that time I needed a job. You ask anybody about me&mdash;I was always fair. Don't forget&mdash;I worked for Frost before I worked for Burke. And I worked for Evans after I worked for Burke. My strength is my ability to relate to all people.&quot; </span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">What Chico doesn&rsquo;t ever mention is that the black alderman he worked for on the finance committee, Wilson Frost, was a Machine die-hard who&rsquo;d found out the hard way how race trumps loyalty when, after Richard J. Daley&rsquo;s death, he assumed that as president <em>pro tempore</em> of the council he'd be the city&rsquo;s acting mayor, then discovered that his good Machine buddies &ndash; the white guys who to this day support Chico &ndash; had literally locked him out of the mayor&rsquo;s fifth floor office. </span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">When Harold Washington was elected in 1983, the bigots took over the City Council, fired Frost as finance chair because he&rsquo;d had the nerve to &ndash; reluctantly! &ndash; support the city&rsquo;s first black mayor, but kept Chico. Later, when Washington finally got control of the council and turned the finance committee over to Tim Evans, Chico was kept on too &ndash; but because, as a conciliatory and practical gesture, Washington kept as much staff as possible to assure continued smooth operations.</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">One of Chico&rsquo;s mentors then was the powerful 14<sup>th</sup> ward Alderman Edward Burke, one of the leaders of the white faction in the divided council. After Washington died, Burke assumed the chairmanship of the finance committee (which he continues to hold), making him in many ways the city&rsquo;s number two man. Chico and Burke don&rsquo;t deny they&rsquo;re buddies, and Burke has endorsed Chico. On Tuesday, have no doubt that Burke&rsquo;s armies &ndash; the still quite mighty remnants of the old Machine &ndash; will be out in force to get votes out for their man, Chico.</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">So it should come as no surprise that, in a recent mayoral debate, when Miguel del Valle called for Burke to allow a more democratic process in the City Council and Rahm Emanuel suggested that Burke might, in a gesture of shared sacrifice with the citizenry, give up his costly six person security detail, all Chico would do was praise his godfather, calling him &ldquo;a wealth of information.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">In 1987, just as Harold Washington consolidated his forces, </span><span style="font-family: Arial;">Gery Chico left City Hall </span><span style="font-family: Arial;"> to work for a law firm that had deep ties to the Democratic machine. He specialized in zoning and made loads of money.</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">When he came back to government, as Richard M. Daley&rsquo;s deputy chief of staff, he began the long career path he now touts as the great preparation for succeeding the man who has made his very comfortable life possible.</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Daley has appointed Chico to four different jobs: first deputy and then chief of staff, president of the school board, president of the park district, and president of City Colleges. </span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">No one doubts that Chico was a hard working, head-down, deferential chief of staff. He was also despised by a press corps that found him inaccessible, obstructionist and arrogant.</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">After four years, Chico left the mayor&rsquo;s staff and almost immediately was named by Daley as president of the Chicago Board of Education. </span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*</span></p><p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Gery Chico&rsquo;s five year tenure as president of the Chicago School Board is at the core of his campaign today. It&rsquo;s his claim to understanding massive government bureaucracies, balancing budgets, making executive decisions and management experience.</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">The first thing to be clear about Chico&rsquo;s education tenure is that it was not, in fact, a full-time job. In fact, it was not a job at all &ndash; it was an unpaid political appointment that meant about three days a month of work. And it was not managerial &ndash; as Curtis Black pointed out in the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/curtis-black/real-leadership-for-chica_b_824069.html"><em>Huffington Post</em></a>, it was an &ldquo;oversight&rdquo; job.&nbsp; The actual budget and managerial work was done by Paul Vallas, the schools chief executive, and anonymous board of education staff.</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">The second thing to be clear about is that Vallas and Chico were appointed in 1995 by Daley after he&rsquo;d wrestled control of the schools from the legislature. And because Daley has never been a populist, a good chunk of his agenda had less to do with reforming schools than with bringing the schools back into the political fold after they'd gone a bit independent during an earlier reform effort.</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">And Chico and Vallas performed: The unions were tamed, the Local School Councils were brought to their knees, and all board committes were eliminated, seriously cutting into public discussions. More than 100 schools &ndash; most in African-American and Latino neighborhoods &ndash; were put on probation and governing power stripped from their LSCs. This was no small thing: The LSCs were producing grassroots leaders in previously quietly submissive wards. Benito Juarez High School, in the heart of Pilsen/Little Village, was a Chico target.<br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial;">It&rsquo;s absolutely true that Chico was at the board's helm when the city&rsquo;s school scores improved. It is also absolutely true that they dropped almost as quickly, and that even Daley was dismayed by the turn of events.</span></p><p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">And, perhaps most significantly, Chico inherited a drop out rate that hovered around 50 percent that barely moved during his tenure &ndash; <em>but which has dropped more than seven points since his departure</em>!</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">There is also no question that Chico and Vallas &ndash; using the largesse bestowed on them by the legislature at Daley&rsquo;s request &ndash; built, renovated and improved schools and other CPS facilities. But where that construction took place often had little to do with need.</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">A widely circulated and much quoted article from <em>Substance</em>, an independent -- and frequently contentious -- teacher run magazine told this story in 2000: &ldquo;On January 3 Daley rang in the New Year with Alderman Patrick Levar of the 45th Ward, on the Northwest side. The occasion was the ribbon cutting ceremony of the $10.6 million addition to the Portage Park Elementary School, 5330 W. Berteau. Daley and his large cast of Chicago public school appointees celebrated the new school building, where a new addition and repairs, landscaping and wrought iron fences had been added to the original school. . . . One week later, in one of the working class (and African American) communities on the city's South Side, sewer water seeped up through the floors in a school lunchroom. Faculty helped the kids avoid the standing water when they moved around the room, carrying their trays of food to their tables. The school was the Anderson Community Academy, located at 6315 S. Claremont, in an area where the homes are almost identical to those in the Portage Park community.&quot; </span></p><p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">The <em>Tribune</em> reported that a little more than three weeks later, 15th Ward alderman Ted Thomas reminded school president Chico that he had complained a year earlier about the conditions at Anderson and had been promised a response within 30 days. &quot;Anderson is on our list,&quot; replied Chico. &quot;Believe me. It's not like we have the money and we don't want to give it to you.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Levar, of course, is a longtime Burke ally; Thomas was not. Focusing goods and services in white allied areas is exactly what the Machine has always done. Denying them to other parts of the city &ndash; areas whose advocates lack access to the inner circle &ndash; is also classic Machine playbook.</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*</span></p> <p class="body"><span style="font-family: Arial;">What Gery Chico did best at the Chicago Board of Education was to follow the example of his Machine patrons and get rich.</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Arial;">According to the <a href="http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2011/01/from-the-archives-chico-walks-the-ethics-line.html"><em>Tribune</em></a>, Chico&rsquo;s then law firm , Altheimer &amp; Gray, had just 18 lobbying clients in 1995. In the five years Chico was president of the school board, it increased its client roll to nearly 200. Those same clients made $505,000 in school board business in 1995; in 1999, the schools gave them $259 million in contracts.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Arial;">Some of the contracts were so obvious as to be laughable. A&nbsp; <em>Tribune</em> story from </span><span style="font-family: Arial;">October 27, 1999 </span><span style="font-family: Arial;">reported this: &ldquo;It wouldn't be the first time that Alvin Gutierrez scored a no- bid PR contract from the Chicago schools. He got one last summer for up to $39,000 -- just weeks after his sister's extraordinarily flattering Channel 7 &lsquo;Tapestry&rsquo; profile of ... Chicago school board President Gery Chico.&rdquo;</span></p> <p><span style="font-family: Arial;">This week, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/17/gery-chico-save-a-life-foundation_n_822678.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter"><em>Huffington Post</em></a> reported on Chico&rsquo;s involvement with the Save-A-Life Foundation, but it didn&rsquo;t get into the fact that there are still outstanding questions as to whether the foundation &ndash; on which Chico served as a board member (in a really ballsy move, his campaign denies his involvement with them, even though there&rsquo;s documented evidence a-go-go) &ndash; actually did the work it was paid $49,000 to do. The work, by the way, was to teach CPS kids the discredited Heimlich maneuver.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">The back and forth between being school board president and partner in a firm that did oodles of government business, and where he led the lobbying division &ndash; without registering as a lobbyist &ndash; provoked constant headlines about Chico&rsquo;s blurry ethical lines. In April 2000, the <em>Tribune</em> reported that Altheimer &amp; Gray clients had received more than $577 million in school contracts during Chico's first four years as board president. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Chico had so many conflicts of interest at the board that he abstained on 359 different votes. He&rsquo;d like us to think those abstentions underscore his ethical conduct. What they actually did was underscore how deeply enmeshed his board and law practice were, in classic Machine style.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">What they also show is a Machine man learning the most nuanced of the tools of the trade: to do one thing and then look any skeptic in the eye and bold face lie by calling it something else.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Arial;">*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">A couple of years after Gery Chico left the board, just before he decided to run for the U.S. Senate against Barack Obama and others, his law firm went belly up, even after Chico took a paycut from $1.3 million to a mere $800,000. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">This, from the <em>Tribune</em>, is Chico&rsquo;s take on what happened: &quot;A lot of people want to cast this in a horribly pejorative light &hellip; A collapse of the firm is nothing more than a majority of the 50 owners of the firm deciding that they don't want to continue as that firm anymore. That's it. People want to cast this as some horrible calamity and that's not true. Everybody is working. Everybody is at other firms, like myself, practicing law again. Life goes on. &hellip; Altheimer &amp; Gray was never a money loser. A couple of creditors got a little innovative and made claims that I don't think are there. They forced us into bankruptcy. We were collecting our debts and paying our bills. Other people wanted more money than they are entitled to.&quot;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">These days, Chico won&rsquo;t talk about any of this. He told the <em>Reader&rsquo;</em>'s Ben Joravsky he learned some lessons and moved on. He won&rsquo;t discuss the firm&rsquo;s $25 million in debt (including money owed to the landlord), the lawsuits from former partners, or the accusations by his former partners of mismanagement. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">It&rsquo;s like it never even happened.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">In 2004, Gery Chico ran a terrible campaign for U.S. Senate in which he garnered less than five percent of the statewide vote in the primary. It did, however, give him an opportunity to distinguish himself by being the only candidate who supported full same sex marriage rights. (By then Barack Obama had backed off marriage and was all for civil unions.)</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">That position prompted an interview with <a href="http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/ARTICLE.php?AID=4008"><em>Windy City Times</em></a> </span><span style="font-family: Arial;">on February 14, 2004</span><span style="font-family: Arial;"> that produced this exchange, which may say less about his support for gay rights, which appears quite genuine, than what a quintessential politician he is:</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><em><span style="font-family: Arial;">WCT: Were there gay curriculum issues for gay and lesbian youth at the schools?</span></em></p><p align="center" style="text-align: center;" class="MsoNormal"><em><span style="font-family: Arial; display: none;"><img height="1" border="0" width="1" src="file:///C:/Users/achy/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtml1/01/clip_image001.gif" alt="" /></span></em><span style="font-family: Arial; display: none;"><a target="_blank" href="http://www.quantcast.com/p-85pvd3d23u7MU"><em><span style="text-decoration: none;"><img height="1" border="0" width="1" alt="Quantcast" src="file:///C:/Users/achy/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtml1/01/clip_image002.gif" /></span></em></a></span></p><p><em><span style="font-family: Arial;">CHICO: From time to time. More of a general nature. Occasionally somebody would complain about a book that went into subject matter that a particular group of parents thought went too far, one way or the other. I would say, hey, wait a minute. This is America. We need intellectual freedom. And also, we need to sensitize our kids.</span></em></p><p><em><span style="font-family: Arial;">WCT: Were you there when April Sinclair's Coffee Will Make You Black was censored? </span></em></p><p><em><span style="font-family: Arial;">CHICO: I'll tell you where I fall on that issue. I am for more openness, not less openness.</span></em></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]--></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">In this year&rsquo;s LGBT issues questionnaire published by Equality Illinois, Chico says:&nbsp;&ldquo;I have a long history of being a friend of the LGBT community. I have been committed to fighting on behalf of the community. As Chief of Staff to the Mayor, I extended the benefits for domestic partners and prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation.&rdquo;</span></p><p>This long history appears to go back to 2003, when he attended his first Pride parade. Chico, of course, did not extend domestic partners benefits to anyone &ndash; that was an executive order signed by Mayor Richard M. Daley.</p> <div>This longtime friend of the community was also the sole mayoral candidate who didn&rsquo;t make it to last week&rsquo;s LGBT Mayoral Forum. Due to the blizzard, a rescheduled forum sponsored by <em>The Defender </em>coincided with the queer concave. Miguel del Valle, Carol Moseley Braun and Rahm Emanuel &ndash; who all have long and distinguished records with both the African-American and LGBT communities &ndash; managed to make it to both forums and speak.</div> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">On his Facebook page, Chico made it seem like he was a victim of a different scheduling conflict, that he&rsquo;d arrived at 5:45 and the LGBT organizers wouldn&rsquo;t let him on stage. When one of the organizers wrote in to say that Chico had a pre-scheduled time of 7:20 and that re-scheduling him meant re-scheduling everyone, Chico quickly deleted the comments.<br /></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">There&rsquo;s not much to say, really about Gery Chico&rsquo;s tenures at the Park District or City Colleges.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">At the former, he played ball for the Olympics and gave the elite and private Latin School a soccer field that ended up costing the district more than $2 million. </span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">At City Colleges, he laid off 225 staffers within four months of his very abbreviated appointment.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">This was all at Daley&rsquo;s bidding, even as Chico protested that he was &quot;not Daley&rsquo;s lackey&quot; -- Chico's words.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">He resigned the City Colleges gig to run for mayor. He has promised the world to the cops and the firefighters, brave men and women indeed, and solid partners in the old time Machine. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">He won&rsquo;t try to renegotiate <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-02-16/candidates-deal-parking-meters-deal-82404">the parking meter lease</a> &ndash; a deal he admits sucks but which benefits too many people he knows.</span>&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">He has had to give back thousands of dollars in contributions from shady characters doing business or wanting to do business with the city, including $25,000 from taxicab impresario Symon Garber, whom Chico&rsquo;s firm represents in a case that could mean $9 million in fines from City Hall.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">His current law firm, Chico &amp; Nunes, is a registered City Hall lobbyist for more than 40 companies. Chico says if he wins he&rsquo;ll sever his ties to the firm but won&rsquo;t stop them from doing city business &ndash; a classic Machine position.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Last week, in spite of his pro-gay and generally progressive social agenda, he got an endorsement from Illinois&rsquo; Tea Party and another from Dick Morris, the controversial political advisor to conservative candidates and to former President Clinton.&nbsp; Initially, his campaign accepted &ndash; it&rsquo;s inconceivable to me that any of the other three campaigns would even consider doing this -- the Tea Party endorsement, then Chico himself rejected them both.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">Why would these bigots endorse Chico? Simple, he&rsquo;s their best shot, the most pliable, most buyable candidate. And like Gutierrez &ndash; who's probably dying at the mere suggestion of those endorsements -- they need a horse in the race.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*<span style="">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>*</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">In the<em> Tribune</em>/WGN debate, Gery Chico said: &quot;Each and every time I've been asked to serve as the mayor's chief of staff, the Chicago school board president, the Chicago Park District president and as chairman of the City Colleges, I stepped up. And never has there been a suggestion that I did anything but pursue the public interest in any one of those jobs.&quot;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">He&rsquo;d really like us to believe that, but it&rsquo;s just not true. There have been plenty of suggestions, questions and headlines, all in the public record.<br /></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">The only interests Gery Chico has ever served are his own, and those of the old white Chicago Democratic Machine.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: Arial;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 18 Feb 2011 10:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/achy-obejas/2011-02-18/why-gery-chico-white-candidate-mayor-82503