WBEZ | Deb Mell http://www.wbez.org/tags/deb-mell Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Rep. Mell appointed to father's city council seat http://www.wbez.org/news/rep-mell-appointed-fathers-city-council-seat-108162 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/debmell.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has chosen State Representative Deb Mell to succeed the 33rd ward seat held for decades by her father, Dick Mell. Mell resigned her state post early Wednesday morning, and was later confirmed by the City Council.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m just trying to take it in,&rdquo; Mell told the council. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t get much sleep last night, and I love my area. I don&rsquo;t think anyone who knows me [questions] that, and how much passion I have for the people of the 33rd ward and how hard I&rsquo;m gonna work on their behalf.&rdquo;</p><p>The announcement was not a surprise - Mell&rsquo;s name had been rumored to be the choice out of the 12 people vying for the spot. Mayor Emanuel had said Mell&rsquo;s last name and familial ties would neither work for her or against her in the selection process. The mayor lauded Mell Wednesday for &ldquo;breaking glass ceilings&rdquo; for being the first openly lesbian member of the City Council.</p><p>Most of the City Council joined the mayor in his praise, some of them even highlighting family ties as a blessing, instead of criticizing the choice as nepotism.</p><p>As Ald. Michael Zalewski (23rd) put it: &ldquo;it&rsquo;s just the way life is.&rdquo; Zalewski&rsquo;s son serves as a state representative in Illinois.&nbsp;</p><p>Ever the historian, Ald. Ed Burke even spouted off all the family connections in the City Council&rsquo;s history, including his own, adding that he couldn&rsquo;t think of anything that would &ldquo;make someone more proud than to succeed their parent in an office that that parent had held.&rdquo;</p><p>The lone &ldquo;no&rdquo; vote in the council came from Ald. Bob Fioretti (2).</p><p>&ldquo;I do know Deb Mell, and I like Deb Mell. And I like what she stands for. But we are not a monarchy, we are a democracy, so let&rsquo;s start acting like it,&rdquo; Fioretti said.</p><p>Fioretti later added that his vote wasn&rsquo;t cast against Deb Mell as an individual, but rather was a vote against the process.</p><p>Mell responded to the criticism as soon as she took the floor.</p><p>&ldquo;That just makes me work even harder, and I have something to prove,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And you will not question my passion and hard work on behalf of the 33rd ward.&rdquo;</p><p>Deb Mell&rsquo;s father and sister, Patti Blagojevich, were both in attendance for the swearing-in. Dick Mell told reporters he didn&rsquo;t give his daughter any advice on her new position, and it was &ldquo;her ballgame now.&rdquo;</p><p>Mell added there were some things he would miss about being an alderman, saying there was no other position like it out there, but said time had passed him by.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t tweet, I don&rsquo;t have Facebook, I don&rsquo;t email very well, I do text a little bit,&ldquo; he said. &nbsp;&ldquo;And when I get stacks of emails from constituents and I try to call them back and I get their voicemails, that&rsquo;s what I miss. I miss that one on one conversation with the person who&rsquo;s got the problem.&rdquo;</p><p>As if a sign of the changing tide, shortly after Deb Mell had been sworn in by the City Council, the <a href="http://33rdward.org/">33rd ward website</a> was swiftly changed to showcase a picture of her face.</p><p>Dick Mell won&rsquo;t be drifting too far away from the political spectrum. He still holds the powerful Democratic Committeeman seat, a position that gives him a weighted vote for his daughter&rsquo;s successor in Springfield. Mell wouldn&rsquo;t say if he had any favorites, telling reporters only that there were &ldquo;many candidates.&rdquo;</p><p>Deb Mell said she officially resigned from her state post Wednesday morning, and would be out in the 33rd ward as soon as Wednesday evening, meeting her new constituents.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ web producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian&nbsp;</a></em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F102454479" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 24 Jul 2013 08:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rep-mell-appointed-fathers-city-council-seat-108162 Long-time Chicago Alderman Dick Mell retires http://www.wbez.org/news/long-time-chicago-alderman-dick-mell-retires-107944 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP304678472813.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Veteran Chicago Ald. Richard Mell, a colorful fixture of City Hall politics, announced Wednesday that he will retire later this month after nearly four decades in office.</p><p>Mell, who has represented the 33rd Ward on Chicago&rsquo;s North side since 1975, said in a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel that his final City Council meeting will be on July 24.</p><p>Mell, 75, tendered his resignation &ldquo;with mixed emotions,&rdquo; according to the letter, though he did not cite a specific reason for retiring except to say it is time to &ldquo;move on to the next chapter&rdquo; in his life.</p><p>&ldquo;My goal has always been to positively impact the community in which I&rsquo;ve lived and work,&rdquo; Mell wrote. &ldquo;I woke up eager every day to support those in my community. It has been a sincere pleasure to see my community grow and thrive; I hope those I have worked with, and for, over the years agree that I have succeeded.&rdquo;</p><p>Mell did not immediately respond to interview requests from WBEZ.</p><p>Rumors of Mell&rsquo;s retirement have echoed through City Hall for months, prompting speculation that his daughter, Illinois Democratic State Rep. Deb Mell, is interested in taking his aldermanic seat.</p><p>In a press release, Emanuel quickly promised to launch an &ldquo;open process&rdquo; to appoint Mell&rsquo;s successor. The mayor will begin accepting applications on Friday from people interested in filling the seat, and will then make his final pick from a short list provided by a &ldquo;community-based commission,&rdquo; according to Emanuel&rsquo;s office.</p><p>&ldquo;In a city known for its colorful characters, Alderman Mell is a larger-than-life Chicago character who, just like the Billy Goat and Second City, is a Chicago institution and, in his own way, he has defined what public service and class look like,&rdquo; Emanuel said in a statement.</p><p>Representative Mell did not respond to WBEZ&rsquo;s interview requests.</p><p>But her father&rsquo;s departure means City Hall will lose something of its old, if controversial, ways. Mell has been an unapologetic defender of political patronage, saying it encourages people to have a civic stake in their communities.</p><p>And while some progressive aldermen shift their focus to the council&rsquo;s legislative role, Mell has maintained a hands-on approach to constituent services, even buying a chainsaw for his Ward office to hurry along tree-trimming requests.</p><p>&ldquo;The alderman is a guy who tries to make life in an urban a little easier for people - to cut through the red tape of city government and bureaucracy,&rdquo; Mell <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/pregnancy-tests-pigeon-poo-what-chicago-aldermen-really-do-107648#Audio">told WBEZ in a recent interview</a>. &ldquo;To help people with problems that they feel are insurmountable. If the alderman is doing that, they can be re-elected, unfortunately like me, for 38 years.&rdquo;</p><p>For those outside Chicago political circles, Mell is perhaps most recognized from the famous 1987 black and white photo of the alderman standing stop his desk in the chaotic City Council chambers, shouting to be recognized. The snapshot has come to represent the racially divisive &ldquo;Council Wars&rdquo; that began with the election of the city&rsquo;s first black mayor, Harold Washington.</p><p>Mell was a vocal opponent of Washington&rsquo;s, and counted himself among the so-called &ldquo;Vrdolyak 29,&rdquo; a majority bloc of mostly-white aldermen who stymied the mayor&rsquo;s legislative agenda during the early 1980s.</p><p>Mell has since become a powerful committee chairman, and has been a staunch ally to both Mayor Emanuel and his predecessor, Richard M. Daley.</p><p><em>Al Keefe covers politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://www.twitter.com/akeefe">@akeefe</a></em></p></p> Wed, 03 Jul 2013 14:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/long-time-chicago-alderman-dick-mell-retires-107944 Madigan, Mell push for two-year ban on fracking http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/madigan-mell-push-two-year-ban-fracking-106109 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS2798_AP080109029993-madigan-scr%20%281%29.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="File: House Speaker Michael Madigan. (AP/File)" />As <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/fracking-bill-introduced-downstate-legislators-105704">legislation to allow and regulate hydraulic fracturing</a>, or &ldquo;fracking,&rdquo; in Illinois&rsquo; New Albany Shale moves through the state legislature, House Speaker Michael Madigan has called for a two-year ban on the controversial fossil fuel extraction process so scientists can study its potential impacts on public health and the environment.</p><p>Rep. Deb Mell&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocTypeID=HB&amp;DocNum=3086&amp;GAID=12&amp;SessionID=85&amp;LegID=74939">HB 3086</a> in the House and <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=1418&amp;GAID=12&amp;DocTypeID=SB&amp;LegId=72003&amp;SessionID=85">SB 1418</a> (sponsored by Sen. Mattie Hunter) each call for a statewide moratorium on fracking until a task force conducts &ldquo;a thorough review.&quot;</p><p>Fracking blasts loose previously inaccessible stores of gas and oil in rocks deep underground using water, sand and a proprietary mix of chemicals. The process has allowed other states to tap new energy resources, but has sparked widespread pollution concerns.</p><p>So far there is no high-volume fracking in Illinois, but Madigan&rsquo;s proposal pre-empts the expected passage of a regulatory bill that would set up a permitting process and potentially allow drilling in a matter of months.</p><p>Downstate Reps. John Bradley (D-117) and David Reis (R-108) introduced that <a href="http://ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=2615&amp;GAID=12&amp;GA=98&amp;DocTypeID=HB&amp;LegID=74421&amp;SessionID=85">bill, HB2615,</a> which was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/07/illinois-fracking-deal-co_n_2831705.html">called the most stringent nationwide</a> for its <a href="http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2013/02/22/in-illinois-environmentalists-and-industry-compromise-on-fracking-bill/">water monitoring provisions and environmental restrictions</a>.</p><p>According to <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/98/HB/09800HB2615ham001.htm">an amendment to that bill</a>, anyone applying for a permit must disclose to the government the chemicals and total volume of water in their fracking mix at least three weeks before they start drilling. They can apply to have that information protected as a trade secret, however, in which case it could be revealed only to a health professional who &ldquo;articulates why the information is needed,&rdquo; or to other government agencies in the event of an emergency. In addition, anyone can challenge a company&rsquo;s invocation of trade secret protection.</p><p>The department will also create a website for public information on hydraulic fracturing, including a searchable database with information on well operators, their chemical disclosure information (that hasn&rsquo;t been protected as a trade secret), and violations or complaints.</p><p>Proponents of the bill <a href="http://www.whbf.com/story/21642068/fracking-supporters-announce-well-fees-tax-rates">announced Thursday</a> that industry would be required to pay $13,000 per well, as well as 3 percent per barrel in severance taxes for the first two years of operation, with that figure set to increase over time. Of that money, about 85 percent will go to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for enforcing hydraulic fracturing regulations. The remainder will go to the state&#39;s Environmental Protection Agency for general pollution complaints.</p><p>But <a href="http://www.environmentillinois.org/news/ile/illinois-groups-praise-speaker-madigan-supporting-fracking-moratorium">environmental groups, who praised Madigan</a> for supporting the moratorium, urge caution. Activists rallied in Springfield this week, <a href="http://signon.org/sign/dont-frack-illinois-we?source=s.em.mt&amp;r_by=2216145">calling</a> for such a ban in light of <a href="http://www.propublica.org/article/natural-gas-drilling-what-we-dont-know-1231">concerns over fracking&#39;s potentially harmful effects</a> on the environment and public health. The federal Environmental Protection Agency&nbsp;is <a href="http://www.epa.gov/hfstudy/">currently studying</a> fracking&rsquo;s impact on drinking water resources. Their report is not due until 2014.</p><p>Industry advocates say even a temporary ban on fracking is an economic loss to the state. A <a href="https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=https%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Fs3.documentcloud.org%2Fdocuments%2F539715%2Fillinois-chamber-foundation-new-albany-shale.pdf">report commissioned by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Foundation</a> projected up to $9.5 billion in economic activity and 47,000 jobs for the state if 90 percent of estimated resources are developed. Besides direct employment in drilling, that report included other industries, including food services, hospitals, real estate and engineering.</p><p>New York&rsquo;s State Assembly <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/07/new-york-state-assembly-fracking_n_2826472.html">voted for a 2-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing last week</a>, but the measure now faces a divided state senate. Governor Andrew Cuomo is awaiting recommendations from the Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation, and has previously supported two similar measures in 2010 and 2011.</p><p>In Illinois, environmental organizations lobbying for the moratorium include The Illinois Coalition For a Moratorium on Fracking (ICMF), S.A.F.E. (Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment, CAPOW! (Citizens Act to Protect Our Water), Stop the Frack Attack on Illinois, Rising Tide, RAN Chicago, IPA (Illinois People&rsquo;s Action), the Gray Panthers, the Illinois Sierra Club and Environment Illinois.</p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13.63636302947998px; line-height: 21.988636016845703px;">Chris Bentley writes about environmental issues. Follow him on Twitter at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 15 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/madigan-mell-push-two-year-ban-fracking-106109 The Political Roundup: January 31st – February 4th http://www.wbez.org/blog/best-game-town/2011-02-04/political-roundup-january-31st-%E2%80%93-february-4th-81796 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Snow removal_Getty_Scott Olson.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-February/2011-02-04/Snow removal_Getty_Scott Olson.JPG" style="width: 488px; height: 325px;" />&nbsp;</p><p>Missed anything this week in Chicago politics? We have you covered with our weekly digest of the best game in town.</p><p><strong>In the beginning, there was crack</strong></p><p>The blizzard may have hit Chicago on Tuesday, but white stuff started swirling early this week: at a candidate&rsquo;s forum on Sunday, mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2011/01/31/133374209/carol-moseley-braun-attacks-rival-as-past-crack-user">accused</a> the lesser-known Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins of being a former crack addict. Watkins, who admits to using drugs in the past, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-chicago-mayor-race0201-20110131,0,4129836.story">responded later</a> that Moseley Braun&rsquo;s comments were unbecoming of a mayoral candidate and, by the way, she&rsquo;s never even seen crack. Watkins called for an apology, Moseley Braun initially declined to do so (though eventually did), and Watkins ultimately <a href="http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/02/moseley-braun-urged-to-leave-chicago-mayor%E2%80%99s-race-after-%E2%80%9Cstrung-out-on-crack%E2%80%9D-comment/?iref=obinsite">called for</a> Moseley Braun to leave the race. <br /><br /><strong>Early voting: in like a lamb</strong></p><p>In the meantime, early voting began Monday, with <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Emanuel_Casts_His_Ballot_Chicago-114963974.html">Rahm Emanuel </a>and <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Del_Valle_Casts_His_Ballot_Chicago-114965939.html ">Miguel del Valle</a> getting their ballots in with plenty of time to spare. They weren&rsquo;t the only ones&mdash;plenty of regular folk <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Early-Voting-An-Early-Success-115007164.html">also voted early</a> on Monday&mdash;good move, perhaps, as voting ended up shut down for a few days due to the storm. It&rsquo;s supposed to be <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/business/chicagos-early-voting-sites-expected-reopen-friday">back in swing</a> as of Friday.<br /><br /><strong>Candidates shovel, too</strong></p><p>Oh, and about that storm: it prompted <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/blogs?blogID=greg-hinz&amp;plckController=Blog&amp;plckScript=blogScript&amp;plckElementId=blogDest&amp;plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&amp;plckPostId=Blog%3a1daca073-2eab-468e-9f19-ec177090a35cPost%3a068de7c3-8b72-4d94-b954-6ab29549016c&amp;sid=sitelife.chicagobusiness.com">varied reactions</a> from the mayoral candidates&mdash;from a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE5sVi8MRBk">video</a> of Gery Chico shoveling snow to statements of <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/dpp/news/politics/carol-moseley-braun-rahm-emanuel-gery-chico-miguel-del-valle-chicago-mayor-blizzard-20110202#">some disapproval</a> from other leading candidates over the city&rsquo;s handling of the blizzard, especially on Lake Shore Drive. But when it comes to dibs, <a href="http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2011/02/02/Chicago-mayor-hopefuls-support-spot-saving/UPI-55961296682555/">no probs</a>, say the candidates, aside from Bill &ldquo;Dock&rdquo; Walls.</p><p><strong>Public service announcements</strong><br /><br />But maybe, just maybe, you want to know how the candidates feel about the issues unrelated to snow (or crack). Good news for you: the Chicago News Cooperative has <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/mayoral-candidates-sound-off-on-citys-budget-woes/">in-depth answers</a> from candidates on a questionnaire regarding city budget woes. Equality Illinois has <a href="http://eqil.org/nextmayor.html">answers</a> to a questionnaire on LGBT issues; Greg Hinz <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/blogs?blogID=greg-hinz&amp;plckController=Blog&amp;plckScript=blogScript&amp;plckElementId=blogDest&amp;plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&amp;plckPostId=Blog%3a1daca073-2eab-468e-9f19-ec177090a35cPost%3adeeac237-b47e-4af3-8766-2250a33ed5df&amp;sid=sitelife.chicagobusiness.com#axzz1D0h9re9Q">summarized</a> the responses. And NBC Chicago&rsquo;s Ward Room has a nice, quick <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/How-To-Make-Chicago-Less-Congested-114926474.html">roundup</a> of how candidates would improve the city&rsquo;s transportation infrastructure.<br />&nbsp;<br />The <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> put out the word early this week that the paper <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/opinions/3568392-474/emanuel-mayor-chicago-candidate-chico.html">endorses Emanuel</a>. Del Valle, natch, disagreed with that editorial board, <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/3641950-418/emanuel-del-valle-hdo-chico.html">linking</a> both Emanuel and Chico to convicted former Streets and Sanitation chief Al Sanchez. Sanchez was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/al-sanchez/former-streets-and-sans-head-sentenced-30-months">sentenced</a> this week to 30 months in prison for political corruption.</p><p><strong>More blizzard woes</strong><br /><br />Mayor Daley has largely avoided fallout from his association with Sanchez; this week, he also <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-snow-politics-20110203,0,7314817.story">deflected criticism</a> for his administration&rsquo;s handling of the blizzard. That hasn&rsquo;t stopped some aldermen from dishing some, with some incumbent candidates <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/aldermen-fret-political-fallout-from-blizzard/">worried</a> that they&rsquo;ll bear the political brunt in elections if neighborhood snow removal isn&rsquo;t deemed adequate.</p><p>On the other hand, some of those same aldermen are among the candidates perhaps <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/well-funded-new-political-group-makes-picks/">getting a boost</a> from the group For A Better Chicago. The business-backed PAC issued endorsements earlier this week, and has some money to throw around.<br /><br />Meanwhile, an American Airlines spokeswoman says the blizzard is to blame for the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chibrknews-airlines-cancel-meeting-with-daley-20110203,0,6570355.story">cancellation</a> of a meeting with Daley and United Airlines. They were scheduled to talk on Thursday about the troubled plan for O&rsquo;Hare expansion; the Daley administration accused the airlines of stalling.</p><p>And talk of privatizing the Taste of Chicago has officially <a href="http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2011/02/city-hall-rejects-taste-of-chicago-private-takeover.html">stalled</a>, as the administration rejected the lone bid to take it over.</p><p><strong>County cuts coming</strong><br /><br />As for Cook County government, it seems to be <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/blogs?blogID=greg-hinz&amp;plckController=Blog&amp;plckScript=blogScript&amp;plckElementId=blogDest&amp;plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&amp;plckPostId=Blog%3a1daca073-2eab-468e-9f19-ec177090a35cPost%3aadffc0e0-0fcb-4dff-98b4-05a053e1cfdc&amp;sid=sitelife.chicagobusiness.com#axzz1D0h9re9Q">full steam ahead</a> for budget cuts&mdash;Board President Toni Preckwinkle put out a proposal on Tuesday calling for some 2,000 layoffs, and County Sherriff Tom Dart seemed to be on board.</p><p>On the Board of Review for Cook County, meanwhile, is Michael Cabonargi. The SEC attorney was <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/blogs?blogID=greg-hinz&amp;plckController=Blog&amp;plckScript=blogScript&amp;plckElementId=blogDest&amp;plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&amp;plckPostId=Blog%3a1daca073-2eab-468e-9f19-ec177090a35cPost%3a859ff0c8-ffa9-4b8c-b05a-67c80288357a&amp;sid=#axzz1D0h9re9Q">appointed</a> to replace Joe Berrios on the board that hears property tax appeals&mdash;47th ward alderman Gene Schulter famously quit his bid for re-election in an effort to snag this position for himself.</p><p><strong>State snow</strong><strong>ed out</strong></p><p>Not too much happened this week in the realm of state politics&mdash;the legislative session and committee meetings were all <a href="http://progressillinois.com/news/content/2011/01/31/general-assembly-cancels-work-week-because-snow?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ProgressIllinois+%28Progress+Illinois%29">cancelled</a> due to the blizzard.</p><p>On Monday, though, Governor Pat Quinn <a href="http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/31/illinois-governor-signs-civil-union-law/?partner=rssnyt&amp;emc=rss ">signed a bill</a> legalizing civil unions in the state. The law goes into effect June 1st. Last Friday, State Rep. Deb Mell said <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/%5Bfield_program_ref-title-raw%5D/civil-unions-law-state-rep-deb-mell-pushes-gay-marria">now&rsquo;s the time</a> to push for gay marriage.<br /><br /><strong>Some D.C. bits</strong></p><p>And in Washington, a repeal of last year&rsquo;s health care legislation was <a href="http://progressillinois.com/news/content/2011/02/03/effort-repeal-health-care-reform-dies-senate?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ProgressIllinois+%28Progress+Illinois%29">killed</a> in the Senate. Sen. Mark Kirk was among those voting for the repeal.</p><p>Also this week, 8th district Congressman Joe Walsh (who unseated Melissa Bean) <a href="http://progressillinois.com/news/content/2011/02/03/effort-repeal-health-care-reform-dies-senate?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ProgressIllinois+%28Progress+Illinois%29">scored</a> a House subcommittee chairmanship&mdash;a significant get for a freshman. <br /><br />That&rsquo;s it for the political week in review&mdash;let me know if we missed anything, and get some rest from shoveling this weekend!</p></p> Fri, 04 Feb 2011 18:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/best-game-town/2011-02-04/political-roundup-january-31st-%E2%80%93-february-4th-81796 The Friday Political Roundup: January 24th-28th http://www.wbez.org/blog/best-game-town/friday-political-roundup-january-24th-28th <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Obama SOTU.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-28/Obama SOTU.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 333px;" alt="" title="" /></p><p><br />Missed anything this week in Chicago politics? We have you covered with our weekly digest of the best game in town. <br /><br /><strong>Rahm&rsquo;s residency reigns</strong><br />Haven&rsquo;t we used that header before? It&rsquo;s true; for another dramatic week, the question (now answered) over Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s residency ruled the headlines.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: left;">First, there was Monday&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/ballot/appellate-court-rules-emanuel-ballot">Illinois Appellate Court ruling</a> that Emanuel was not eligible to be on the ballot. Then the Chicago Board of Elections said they were <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/cboe-will-print-ballots-without-emanuel without his name">printing ballots</a>--and got started doing so. But then the Illinois Supreme Court issued a stay on the appellate court ruling, and Emanuel was back on the ballot, at least temporarily. Soon thereafter, the high court agreed <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-supreme-court/supreme-court-print-emanuels-name-ballots-now ">to take the case</a>.</p><p style="text-align: left;">All of this raised a big question: If Rahm Emanuel were to be knocked off the ballot, what would that do to the rest of the field?&nbsp; <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/blogs?blogID=greg-hinz&amp;plckController=Blog&amp;plckScript=blogScript&amp;plckElementId=blogDest&amp;plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&amp;plckPostId=Blog%3a1daca073-2eab-468e-9f19-ec177090a35cPost%3a2b360bb3-ce66-4d0a-90d6-93ec0f613893&amp;sid=sitelife.chicagobusiness.com">A poll</a> found that the main beneficiary would be Gery Chico,&nbsp; who would be the front-runner without Emanuel in the race.</p><p style="text-align: left;"><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/elections/ct-met-illinois-supreme-court-20110126,0,1272948.story ">Everyone spent much of the week</a> <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/power-brokers%E2%80%99-ties-complicate-the-ballot-process/">scrutinizing</a> the politics of the Illinois Supreme Court. Then there was that weird Chinese-language <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZViUp6cqflM&amp;feature=player_embedded">animated video</a> taking literally the headline &ldquo;Rahm Emanuel kicked off ballot.&rdquo; Baltimore <a href="http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/2011/01/note_to_rahm_emanual_in_maryla.html">invited</a> Emanuel to run for mayor there, and the <em>Tribune</em>&rsquo;s Phil Rosenthal <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/columnists/ct-biz-0126-phil-rahm-20110126,0,7675719.column">suggested</a> he could get a talk show if he can&rsquo;t run for mayor. <br /><br />But finally, late Thursday, the Supreme Court <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel/ilinois-supremes-emanuel-stay-ballot ">unanimously ruled</a> that Emanuel belongs on the ballot, though two justices <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/rahm-emanuel-supreme-court-specially-concurred-114768789.html">took issue</a> with the tone of the majority opinion. And all this time, Emanuel continued to capture the headlines&mdash;<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/28/rahm-emanuel-allowed-stand-chicago-mayor">even overseas</a>. <br /><strong><br />On a less dramatic note&hellip;</strong><br />But there&rsquo;s more to the mayor&rsquo;s race than all this drama. <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-chicago-mayor-race0127-20110126,0,5484233.story">Gery Chico pledged to</a> hire 2000 more cops if elected. He picked up the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/elections/ct-met-chicago-mayor-race-campaign-0120110125,0,5746356.story">endorsement</a> of the local firefighters&rsquo; union, and said he&rsquo;d consider doing away with the <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/chico-firefighters-endorsement-residency-question-114596514.html">residency requirement</a> for city employees. Emanuel nabbed endorsements from the <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/teamsters-endorse-emanuel-despite-ruling/">Teamsters</a> and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley. And Carol Moseley Braun got <a href="http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=30272">endorsements</a> from Planned Parenthood and Personal PAC. The week came to a close with the top four candidates <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/carol-moseley-braun/after-emanuel-court-victory-mayoral-debate-gets-some-spice">debating</a> on live TV.<br /><br />Meanwhile, money continued to <a href="http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2011/01/chico-emanuel-pile-up-campaign-cash-in-mayors-race.html">flow in</a>, and out, of campaigns. Braun <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Braun-Looks-Out-of-Town-For-Campaign-Cash-114716389.html">took a trip</a> out of state to raise some funds. Joseph Stanford <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/joseph-stanford/biggest-donor-mayors-race-explains-gift">explained</a> why he gave a nearly $300,000 donation to Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins. Chico grabbed a nice chunk of change from the aforementioned firefighters, but had to <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/chico-returns-more-donations/">return</a> a handful of other donations after some vetting. Elsewhere in municipal elections, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/chamber-picks-set-up-battles-with-unions/">endorsed</a> aldermanic candidates, several of whom are facing labor-backed candidates.<br /><br /><strong>Miscellany beyond the city</strong><br />In Cook County news, Board President Toni Preckwinkle was after Sheriff Tom Dart, <a href="http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2011/01/preckwinkle-criticizes-sheriff-dart-on-payroll-spending.html">saying</a> it&rsquo;s time to start wielding a budget axe. Speaking of money problems, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn&rsquo;s $30-billion capital plan was <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/blogs?blogID=greg-hinz&amp;plckController=Blog&amp;plckScript=blogScript&amp;plckElementId=blogDest&amp;plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&amp;plckPostId=Blog%3a1daca073-2eab-468e-9f19-ec177090a35cPost%3a863c2c48-1ac3-4260-9e78-190498f8bdb4&amp;sid=sitelife.chicagobusiness.com#axzz1CMyDaLDj">ruled illegal</a> by an Illinois Appellate Court. Quinn says his administration will appeal the ruling, which shot down a plan to tax alcoholic drinks and candy (among other things) and legalize video poker to pay for construction projects. The state&rsquo;s income tax increase, however, is not going away&mdash;that has <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-01-25/christie-to-go-to-illinois-to-lure-jobs-to-new-jersey.html">New Jersey</a> among the states looking to lure business away from Illinois.<br /><br />On Monday, Quinn is expected to sign a bill bringing civil unions to the state. State Rep. Deb Mell <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/%5Bfield_program_ref-title-raw%5D/civil-unions-law-state-rep-deb-mell-pushes-gay-marria">says</a> she&rsquo;s still pushing for gay marriage. We still don&rsquo;t know what Quinn will do with a bill to repeal the death penalty. This week, his Lt. Governor Sheila Simon <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/sheila-simon-pat-quinn-illinois-death-penalty-114525719.html">asked him</a> to sign it. <br /><br />Not to be forgotten is Tuesday&rsquo;s State of the Union address by President Obama. U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (IL-6) <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/congressman-peter-roskam/illinois-republicans-react-state-union-address ">responded</a> that he doesn&rsquo;t have too much faith in Obama&rsquo;s pledge to do away with earmarks. Senator Mark Kirk says there were positives and negatives to the address, but <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Kirk_on_SOTU__Not_Enough_Spending_Restraint_Chicago-114622714.html">questioned</a> whether Obama&rsquo;s budget numbers will add up. <br /><br />Later in the week, Senator Kirk and Senator Dick Durbin got their <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/blogs?blogID=greg-hinz&amp;plckController=Blog&amp;plckScript=blogScript&amp;plckElementId=blogDest&amp;plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&amp;plckPostId=Blog%3a1daca073-2eab-468e-9f19-ec177090a35cPost%3a2c8ab268-1cba-4ed9-b130-08390157e23a&amp;sid=sitelife.chicagobusiness.com#axzz1CMyDaLDj">committee assignments</a> &ndash; both are on the Appropriations Committee, among others. Kirk and Durbin are also <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chibrknews-ohare-expansion-talks-see-no-breakthrough-20110127,0,1263914.story">working together</a> to get United and American Airlines on the road to O&rsquo;Hare expansion&mdash;they held a meeting with top airline executives yesterday, though without significant progress.<br /><br />That&rsquo;s the week of politics in review. Let us know if you think we missed anything, and have a great weekend.</p></p> Fri, 28 Jan 2011 23:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/best-game-town/friday-political-roundup-january-24th-28th With civil unions law, State Rep. Deb Mell pushes for gay marriage http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/%5Bfield_program_ref-title-raw%5D/civil-unions-law-state-rep-deb-mell-pushes-gay-marria <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/marraige equality city hall.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Next Monday is a big day for many gay rights activists; Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign into law the state&rsquo;s new civil union bill. The bill will allow same sex couples to enjoy many of the same benefits and protections that marriage provides, but some say that&rsquo;s not enough.<br /><br />Illinois state <a target="_blank" href="http://www.debmell.org/">Rep. Deb Mell</a> says she still plans to travel to Iowa where gay marriage is legal to marry her fiancée. She joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to explain why. Rep. Mell is a Democrat representing the north side of Chicago's 40th district in the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ilga.gov/house/">Illinois House of Representatives</a>.<br /><br />Gov. Quinn is expected to sign into law the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=1826&amp;GAID=9&amp;DocTypeID=HB&amp;LegId=30661&amp;SessionID=51">Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act</a> at the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.explorechicago.org/city/en/supporting_narrative/attractions/dca_tourism/Chicago_Cultural_Center.html">Chicago Cultural Center</a> in the Loop on Monday.</p><p><em>DJ Chris Widman Music Button: Telefon Tel Aviv, &quot;Your Mouth&quot;, Immolate Yourself (Bpitch Control)</em></p></p> Fri, 28 Jan 2011 15:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/%5Bfield_program_ref-title-raw%5D/civil-unions-law-state-rep-deb-mell-pushes-gay-marria Mell plans to marry in Iowa, despite civil unions bill http://www.wbez.org/story/civil-unions/deb-mell-gay-marriage-vs-civil-unions <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/gay cake toppers_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois State Representative Deb Mell says she plans to marry fiancée Christin Baker in Iowa, despite the likely passage of a civil unions bill next year.</p> <div>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re thrilled and grateful, obviously,&rdquo; Mell said about the law. &ldquo;But we really want that marriage license.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="../../../../../../story/civil-unions/civil-unions-bill-heads-illinois-senate">The Illinois Senate passed a bill</a> last week that would approve civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Governor Quinn has said he will sign the bill, which is expected to land on his desk sometime in January of 2011.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Mell comes from one of Illinois&rsquo; political dynasties; her father is 33rd Ward Alderman Dick Mell and her sister is Patti Mell Blagojevich. She is also a lesbian who has openly discussed her personal stake in the issue of gay marriage. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not even thrilled about civil unions,&rdquo; said Mell during <a href="../../../../../../story/culture/lifestyle/know-gay-marriage-debate">a talk at the Chicago History Museum in September</a>. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll be quite honest - I want access to the institution of marriage.&rdquo; Mell got engaged to her girlfriend Christin this year, and announced the engagement from the House floor.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Some gay rights advocates are celebrating the likely passage of the law, calling the bill a practical compromise in a political climate that may not have produced a gay marriage bill. Others, like WBEZ.org&rsquo;s Vocalo blogger Achy Obejas, <a href="../../../../../../blog/achy-obejas/civil-unions-some-kinda-legal">call the victory bittersweet</a>, arguing that the new law will grant gay couples &ldquo;all the rights of marriage except one: the ability to call their union what it really is.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="../../../../../../blog/justin-kaufmann/roll-call-how-your-lawmaker-voted-civil-unions">Mell voted in favor</a> of the civil unions bill, despite whatever reservations she may have had. Speaking with great emotion in her voice, she urged her colleagues to vote &ldquo;yes&rdquo; for the measure during the debate on the floor of the Illinois House.&nbsp;&ldquo;I assure you we are a family and we deserve the same rights that you enjoy,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Today with your yes vote, Christin and I can become family under the law.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Mell says she and Baker plan to marry in Iowa, where she went to college and where gay marriage became legal in 2009. And in the audio excerpt posted above, Mell explains why marriage is fundamentally different to her, her partner and their families, and shares the story of their engagement. The story is taken from her September talk at the <a href="http://www.chicagohs.org/">Chicago History Museum</a>, which was moderated by Laura Washington. The protagonists may be unorthodox, but it&rsquo;s a classic proposal story, right down to the part where she hides the ring in the crème brulee.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified's vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Rep. Mell's talk at the </em><a href="http://www.chicagohs.org/"><em>Chicago History Museum</em></a><em> took place in September of 2010 and was recorded by </em><a href="../../../../../../amplified"><em>Chicago Amplified</em></a><em>. Click </em><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wbez/id364380278" target="_blank"><em>here</em></a><em> to subscribe to the Dynamic Range podcast, and click </em><a href="../../../../../../story/culture/lifestyle/know-gay-marriage-debate"><em>here</em></a><em> for the full conversation with Rep. Mell. </em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Correction: an earlier version of this story misspelled Ms. Baker's name.</em></div> <p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 10 Dec 2010 22:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/civil-unions/deb-mell-gay-marriage-vs-civil-unions