WBEZ | chicago politics http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-politics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Fundraising for future Obama library picks up http://www.wbez.org/news/fundraising-future-obama-library-picks-111408 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP401486246971.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON &mdash; The nonprofit raising money for President Barack Obama&#39;s future library has picked up the pace of its fundraising, with up to $4.4 million rolling in during the final months of 2014, records released Thursday show.</p><p>All told, the Barack Obama Foundation has raised at least $3 million and possibly as much as $6.2 million since its formation nearly a year ago. The largest checks have all come from donors in Chicago, which is working aggressively to shore up its bid to host the presidential library and museum.</p><p>Two universities in Chicago have been competing vigorously with schools in Honolulu and New York to build the project, and the president and first lady Michelle Obama are expected to announce their decision within the next few months. Building the library is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, financed mostly by donations raised by Obama&#39;s foundation.</p><p>Contributing most generously to the project have been longtime Obama supporters who gave or helped raise hefty sums to Obama&#39;s presidential campaigns. Many were repeat donations from those who have given to the library project before.</p><p>Fred Eychaner, founder of Chicago-based Newsweb Corp., gave the foundation between $500,000 and $1 million in the last three months of 2014, records show. A major Democratic fundraiser, Eychaner gave almost $8 million in the last election cycle to liberal groups and has hosted fundraisers for Obama at his home.</p><p>The foundation&#39;s only other donors to exceed $500,000 came from Cari and Michael Sacks, also of Chicago. Michael Sacks is a business executive with close ties to Obama&#39;s former chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Obama appointed Cari Sacks to the Kennedy Center&#39;s presidential advisory panel in 2010. The couple previous gave the foundation more than $250,000.</p><p>Two members of the Obama foundation&#39;s board &mdash; Kevin Poorman and board chairman Marty Nesbitt &mdash; have also given sums of less than $100,000 to the nonprofit.</p><p>Obama&#39;s foundation is voluntarily disclosing large contributions in ranges of dollar amounts. While it&#39;s already raising money to cover its own costs, the foundation has said most of the funds to build the library won&#39;t be raised until after the Obamas leaves the White House. Obama and the first lady have pledged not to raise money for the foundation until after they leave office.</p></p> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 14:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/fundraising-future-obama-library-picks-111408 Hey Mayor! http://www.wbez.org/news/hey-mayor-111330 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/heym.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>You may be noticing more political ads as the February municipal elections inch closer. The election determines the future face of City Hall: all 50 aldermanic seats are up, as well as the office of mayor. &nbsp;But what do Chicagoans want the next mayor&#39;s priorities to be? &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The 2014 Mikva Challenge Soapbox contest asked young Chicagoans, <em>&quot;If you were the next Mayor of Chicago, what is the first community issue you would tackle, and why?&quot;</em>&nbsp; Here&#39;s what they had to say.</p><p>(To hear each student, scroll over the play button and click on the player that pops up. A complete playlist is also available below.)</p><p><img class="alwaysThinglink" src="//cdn.thinglink.me/api/image/604082955626741761/1024/10/scaletowidth#tl-604082955626741761;1043138249'" style="max-width:100%" /></p><p>(WBEZ/Andrew Gill, Cate Cahan, Logan Jaffe)</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/66215899%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-EMuvr&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 08:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/hey-mayor-111330 For Obama library, a contest of haves vs have-nots http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-library-contest-haves-vs-have-nots-111319 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Obama-debate_0_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>President Barack Obama has preached economic opportunity and equal access to education as cornerstones of the legacy he wants to leave behind.</p><p>But in the contest to host his presidential library, two public universities that serve needy communities fear the playing field has been tilted against them by a pair of elite, private schools with seemingly endless money.</p><p>As Obama weighs a decision he&#39;ll announce within months, the University of Hawaii and the University of Illinois at Chicago are struggling to offer the upfront resources needed to offset the massive cost of building the library and presidential museum, expected to run close to half a billion dollars.</p><p>The other two schools in the running, Columbia University and the University of Chicago, are both top-10 schools with a combined endowment of more than $15 billion.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-bids-obama-library-risk-111313" target="_blank">Chicago bids for Obama library at risk&nbsp;</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>The Obamas are expected to raise much &mdash; but not all &mdash; of the money themselves, so a university&#39;s ability to contribute will be a major factor. The Barack Obama Foundation, which is screening proposals and will recommend a winner to Obama, has asked each school in the running for explicit details about what financial and other resources they can bring to bear.</p><p>&quot;Look, when it comes to raw fundraising prowess, we&#39;re not in a position to compete with New York and Chicago,&quot; said Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, during a recent interview in his Honolulu office, overlooking the panoramic, oceanfront site that Hawaii has proposed for the library. &quot;We bring different assets to the table. But if the question is who can raise more money, Honolulu&#39;s going to come in third.&quot;</p><p>In an unusual move this week, the Obama foundation let it be known that it was displeased with Chicago&#39;s proposals &mdash; in particular, the fact that the University of Chicago can&#39;t guarantee access to its proposed South Side sites because they sit on city park district property. Still, the blunt warning through the media appeared designed mainly to light a fire under the University of Chicago to fill holes in its proposal, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel&#39;s office quickly stepped in to say the city was working to acquire the land for the library&#39;s use.</p><p>Across town at the University of Illinois at Chicago, student trustee Danielle Leibowitz said her university has suspected that it&#39;s the underdog all along. A key player in her school&#39;s bid for the library, Leibowitz said the university wants to team up with a community foundation to build the library in North Lawndale, a blighted, heavily black neighborhood on the West Side.</p><p>&quot;If he wants to be consistent with the message he&#39;s given throughout his presidency, it really only makes sense to give it to us,&quot; Leibowitz said. &quot;To suddenly hand over your legacy to a private institution seems rather hypocritical.&quot;</p><p>The University of Chicago and Columbia declined to comment for this report.</p><p>The Obama foundation said each school has its own unique strengths and regardless of which school is chosen, the foundation will be able to raise the needed money.</p><p>&quot;The foundation is looking at each response as a complete package and will choose a partner which, on balance, offers the best opportunity to create an outstanding presidential library and museum,&quot; the foundation said in a statement.</p><p>As public, taxpayer-funded institutions, the University of Illinois and the University of Hawaii face legal and practical limitations on how much they can contribute to a project such as Obama&#39;s library. Still, both schools have sought to show they&#39;re eager to do what they can. Hawaii lawmakers have expressed interest in having the state pitch in, while the foundation partnering with the University of Illinois has pledged $5 million. Obama was born in Hawaii and started his family and political career in Illinois.</p><p>Columbia and the University of Chicago have been coy about what they&#39;re offering. But people familiar with those schools&#39; proposals, who weren&#39;t authorized to comment publicly and requested anonymity, said both schools are prepared to absorb a substantial chunk of the cost themselves. They&#39;re also working to secure attractive real estate where the library can be built.</p><p>Although the foundation has tapped Julianna Smoot, a major Democratic fundraiser and former Obama campaign official, to direct fundraising, the foundation&#39;s board has said it won&#39;t start seriously raising money to build the library until much later. The Obamas have pledged not to solicit donations until after they leave office.</p><p>Meantime, the question of what message Obama wants his library to convey has grown more pronounced as the economic recovery continues to leave many behind. Marcus Betts, a spokesman for the North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee, said Obama has a rare opportunity to show that one&#39;s background need not predetermine one&#39;s ability to succeed.</p><p>&quot;If you think about what Martin Luther King Jr. would do, where he would put a project like this, I think the answer becomes very clear,&quot; Betts said. &quot;It really boils down to the have and the have-nots.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 14:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-library-contest-haves-vs-have-nots-111319 Chicago bids for Obama library at risk http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-bids-obama-library-risk-111313 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Obama-debate_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Two Chicago universities competing to host President Barack Obama&#39;s presidential library are scrambling to address major concerns raised by the foundation picking the future site, with Chicago&#39;s mayor stepping in to ensure his city stays competitive.</p><p>The Barack Obama Foundation, formed by longtime Obama associates, is currently screening two proposals from Chicago and one each from Honolulu and New York. But Chicago&#39;s two bids, submitted earlier this month, set off red flags for the foundation&#39;s board over land control and university leadership, according to a person close to the foundation.</p><p>The University of Chicago, a private school near Obama&#39;s South Side home, has long been perceived as a front-runner due to its close ties to the Obamas. But the three sites the university has proposed are on Chicago Park District land, and the university can&#39;t prove it could secure the land if it was selected, the person said.</p><p>Chicago&#39;s other proposal, from the public University of Illinois at Chicago, raised questions about how changes in leadership will affect the school&#39;s future, the person said. The campus and University of Illinois system are expected to have a new president, chancellor and board chairman within the next year. The person wasn&#39;t authorized to comment publicly and demanded anonymity.</p><p>It was unclear whether either school&#39;s bid was in serious jeopardy or whether, by drawing attention to the issues now, the foundation hoped to spur the universities to act quickly to improve their proposals.</p><p>The city of Chicago confirmed that the foundation has raised concerns about the University of Chicago bid. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama&#39;s former chief of staff, has been a vocal proponent for the city&#39;s bids, but putting it on park land would require the park district&#39;s sign-off.</p><p>&quot;The mayor is committed to bringing the library home to Chicago, and we continue to work with the foundation to ensure all Chicago bids remain competitive,&quot; said David Spielfogel, the mayor&#39;s senior adviser.</p><p>Although the park district&#39;s board president, Bryan Traubert, is married to Obama&#39;s longtime friend and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Traubert has recused himself. Other attempts to build on park land have drawn consternation from groups like Friends of the Parks. The group sued to block &quot;Star Wars&quot; creator George Lucas from building a museum on park acreage.</p><p>One potential option could be for city to acquire the land from the park district if Chicago is picked for the library. The city could return the property to the park system if another bid is selected. Spielfogel said all options were being considered but that Emanuel will &quot;only consider potential sites that ensure park land remains under public control and that the surrounding communities have a say in the process.&quot;</p><p>Obama&#39;s foundation, in a statement, said it would consider many criteria before choosing the school that offers the best complete package. The University of Illinois said that Obama&#39;s foundation &quot;should feel confident in the university leadership&#39;s ongoing support,&quot; adding that the incoming Illinois governor will fill vacant trustee slots in January. The University of Chicago had no immediate reaction.</p><p>The University of Hawaii and Columbia University, the other two schools in contention, both have secured attractive real estate that could house the library.</p></p> Tue, 30 Dec 2014 16:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-bids-obama-library-risk-111313 Long-serving Alderman Berny Stone dies at 87 http://www.wbez.org/news/long-serving-alderman-berny-stone-dies-87-111284 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bernystone.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicagoans are remembering former Chicago Ald. Berny Stone.</p><p>Stone died early Monday morning at the age of 87. Stone served as the 50th Ward alderman for almost 40 years until he lost his bid for re-election in 2011.</p><p>After that 2011 loss, Stone summed up his political career to reporters.</p><p>&quot;I&rsquo;m proud of the services that I&rsquo;ve rendered in my ward. I&rsquo;m proud of the things we&rsquo;ve built in my ward. I&rsquo;m proud of everything we&rsquo;ve done. I don&rsquo;t want to apologize for anything I&rsquo;ve done. I&rsquo;ve made mistakes but I&rsquo;m human. Humans makes mistakes,&quot; Stone said in 2011.</p><p>He also described himself as &quot;full of pee and vinegar.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;My dad lived and died, mainly on his terms. He was a great example for his family and friends on how to live with courage, loyalty, honor and principles,&rdquo; his son Jay Stone said in an email.</p><p>Stone was an old-school Chicago lawmaker, known for his hands-on approach with constituents, and for always speaking his mind.</p><p>He was a veteran both of World War II and Chicago&#39;s council wars, and a council ally of Chicago political powerhouse Ald. Ed Burke.</p><p>&quot;[Stone] was an outspoken, forthright advocate for the people of his ward and he embodied a deep sense of sincerity for his mission of public service, Burke said in a statement. &quot;He unapologetically believed in candor and personal loyalty. And, in the best sense of the word, he stood for many of the old-fashioned principles of the Democratic party and Chicago politics.&quot;</p><p>Ald. Joe Moore of the 49th Ward said Stone wore his heart on his sleeve.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the thing I remember about Ald. Stone the most is his unspokenness and his, either unwillingness or inability to couch a lot of the things he said in more diplomatic terms,&rdquo; Moore said.</p><p>Moore and Stone&rsquo;s wards shared a boundary, and the two worked together in city council for 20 years. Moore said his favorite memory of Stone was when he issued a public apology for not speaking out against segregation during his time serving in World War II.</p><p>Berny Stone&#39;s son Jay said his father was &quot;at times brash.&quot;</p><p>&quot;But I would think his political style is loyalty. He was honest and hard working and he cared about people.&quot;</p><p>Jay said he was dedicated to providing city services for his far North Side ward, and seeking input from constituents at frequent ward nights.</p><p>&quot;I remember iun his last term we were eating in a local restaurant and a man came up to my father and said &#39;I dont know if you remember me but 10 years ago you helped my mother get into a senior citizens building and she&#39;s still alive.&#39; And he thanked my father, and my father was so excited he started jumping up and down and said, &#39;That&#39;s why I do this job!&#39;&quot; Jay Stone said.</p><p>Berny Stone was admitted to the hospital on Sunday afternoon after falling in his condo.</p><p>He died at 1:30 Monday morning from pneumonia and complications from the fall.</p><p>&ldquo;It took three hours for him to crawl on his hands and knees to get to a phone to call for help,&rdquo; Jay Stone said. &ldquo;At age 87 and in very poor health my father still had plenty of fight left in him.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite his poor health, his death was a shock to the family.</p><p>It is especially difficult for his family because one of Berny Stone&#39;s daughters died just five weeks ago from advancing Multiple Sclerosis.</p><p>In tears, Jay Stone said his father spent almost half of his salary to provide care for her, keeping a pledge he made to his wife not to ever put their daughter in a nursing home.</p><p>&ldquo;If I learned one lesson from the sudden deaths of my sister and father, it is, don&#39;t wait to tell the people you care about that you love them,&rdquo; Jay Stone said.</p><p><em>WBEZ&#39;s Andrew Gill and Odette Yousef produced this video of Stone&#39;s last campaign in 2011, when he lost to Debra Silverstein.</em></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/t_avAKeS6Lg" width="560"></iframe></p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a></em></p></p> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 11:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/long-serving-alderman-berny-stone-dies-87-111284 Chicago announces plans to build 88-story skyscraper http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-announces-plans-build-88-story-skyscraper-111271 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/14773555050_6126cfb214_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago officials have announced that a Chinese developer is planning to build an 88-story hotel and condominium tower that would be the city&#39;s third tallest building.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced an agreement Thursday between the Beijing&#39;s Wanda Group and the Magellan Development Group for a $900 million project to build a downtown high-rise designed by Chicago architect Jeanne Gang. It will be known as Wanda Vista.</p><p>Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016 and when completed it would be the third tallest structure in Chicago, behind Willis Tower and Trump International Hotel &amp; Tower.</p><p>Emanuel&#39;s office says the project represents the largest real estate investment by a Chinese company in Chicago and will create more than 2,000 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs</p></p> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-announces-plans-build-88-story-skyscraper-111271 Topinka remembered as honest, tough at memorial http://www.wbez.org/news/topinka-remembered-honest-tough-memorial-111250 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/topinka_0.png" alt="" /><p><p>COUNTRYSIDE, Ill. &mdash; Late Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka has been remembered as a tough, honest leader with a signature sense of humor.</p><p>Crowds filled a union hall in suburban Chicago on Wednesday to pay respects. Individuals included the state&#39;s top leaders, lawmakers, local leaders and Illinoisans who knew her for more than 70 years.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-comptroller-judy-baar-topinka-dies-111213">Judy Baar Topinka in her own words</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Gov. Pat Quinn says Topinka took on tough challenges in life. She was also a former state treasurer, GOP head and lawmaker.</p><p>Portraits of Topinka lined an entrance, along with photos of past campaigns, her family and dogs.</p><p>Former Gov. Jim Thompson says Topinka would have appreciated the bipartisan crowd gathered at the memorial.</p><p>Topinka died last week after suffering complications from a stroke. She had won a second full term in November. A replacement hasn&#39;t yet been named.</p></p> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/topinka-remembered-honest-tough-memorial-111250 Chicago mayor's commission unveils plan for a safer Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mayors-commission-unveils-plan-safer-chicago-111241 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP973232440855.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The city of Chicago released <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/supp_info/the-mayor-s-commission-for-a-safer-chicago.html" target="_blank">a report</a> today with 28 recommendations to address the city&#39;s youth violence problem.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Mayor&#39;s Commission for a Safe Chicago released the report. The recommendations include adding eight &quot;peace rooms&quot; in Chicago Public schools for conflict resolution and connecting families with counseling.</p><p>&ldquo;Every child in the city of Chicago deserves a childhood, and that childhood cannot be stolen from them,&rdquo; Emanuel said in unveiling the plan. &ldquo;And every adolescent deserves their adolescence free of violence. So I hope we take this work &hellip; not just as another report [but as] a call to action.&rdquo;</p><p>While it is billed as a strategic plan for 2015, most of the report&rsquo;s 64 pages are dedicated to celebrating past accomplishments by the Emanuel administration. Of the 60 violence prevention programs highlighted in the report&rsquo;s executive summary, 13 of them are new or updated for 2015.</p><p>One of the new ideas presented in the plan calls on the Chicago Police Department to explore alternatives to arresting first-time juvenile offenders.</p><p>&ldquo;We recommend exploring possible alternatives to arrest for first-time juvenile offenders such as tickets or &hellip; community service,&rdquo; said co-chair Eddie Bocanegra with the YMCA.</p><p>And the written report says the police department will do just that in 2015. But spokesmen for the mayor&rsquo;s office and CPD declined to provide any specifics on the plan.</p><p>The commission&rsquo;s plan focuses on youth violence because, according to the city, people 29 and younger have made up more than 60 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s homicide victims over the past five years. It aims to decrease crime by treating youth violence as a public health issue. That means a focus on education, trauma therapy and youth employment.</p><p>Emanuel pointed to <a href="https://soundcloud.com/afternoonshiftwbez/new-study-reveals-local-summer-jobs-program-reduces-youth-violence" target="_blank">a recent study by the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the University of Pennsylvania</a> that showed the One Summer Plus youth jobs program helped reduce arrests by more than 40 percent over a 16-month period.</p><p>This is the first report by the Mayor&rsquo;s Commission for a Safer Chicago. It was written after three forums held over the summer attended by government representatives, faith groups and community organizations.</p><p>The commission also sought out opinions from about 200 young people in more than a dozen Chicago communities.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow him on twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">@pksmid</a>. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mayors-commission-unveils-plan-safer-chicago-111241 Unions sue to stop Chicago pension overhaul http://www.wbez.org/news/unions-sue-stop-chicago-pension-overhaul-111239 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/city hall chicago flickr daniel x o nell.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Current and retired city workers and their labor unions have filed a lawsuit arguing a law overhauling Chicago&#39;s pension systems is unconstitutional.</p><p>The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court also asks a judge to stop the law from taking effect Jan. 1.</p><p>Chicago has the worst-funded pension system of any major U.S. city.</p><p>Legislation approved last year seeks to eliminate a $9.4 billion unfunded liability in two pension systems by increasing contributions and cutting benefits. It would affect about 57,000 laborers and municipal employees.</p><p>The plaintiffs are 12 current and former workers and four unions, including AFSCME Council 31 and the Illinois Nurses Association.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the law is constitutional. He says the changes are needed to ensure pension funds remain solvent and retirees receive benefits.</p></p> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:04:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/unions-sue-stop-chicago-pension-overhaul-111239 Chicago raises its minimum wage as efforts stall at state level http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-raises-its-minimum-wage-efforts-stall-state-level-111179 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/springfield_0_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago aldermen have voted 44 to 5 to raise the minimum wage to $13 an hour over the next five years. But a very similar debate is bubbling up in Springfield, where legislation could be passed that would undo the work of the Chicago City Council.</p><p>The minimum wage, of course, isn&rsquo;t a new topic. Illinoisans have been bombarded with talk about the minimum wage, from the campaign trail for Illinois governor to the streets of Chicago where some fast food workers have been protesting about their low wages.</p><p>But suddenly last week, there was action from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s office.</p><p>&ldquo;Last week, there were rising forces that were talking about not allowing the city to move,&rdquo; he said Tuesday.</p><p>Those forces he referred to are Springfield lawmakers that Emanuel said were going to pull the rug out from under the City Council - locking them out of making any decisions on the city&rsquo;s minimum wage.</p><p>So the day after Thanksgiving, Emanuel announced aldermen would come together for a special meeting Tuesday to vote on his plan to boost the city&rsquo;s minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2019. After that, wages would be linked to inflation. Forty-four alderman supported that plan.</p><p>&ldquo;Dixon, Illinois, and Chicago, Illinois, are different economies,&rdquo; Alderman John Arena (45) said. &ldquo;So it is right that we are able to manage our affairs on this matter. That we are able to pay workers in Chicago who have higher housing costs, higher heating costs, higher costs of transportation, to have a higher wage to go along with that.&rdquo;</p><p>But five other aldermen say they&rsquo;re worried about the cost to local business owners. Tom Tunney is both the 44th ward Alderman and owner of Ann Sather restaurants and catering, and according to him, it&rsquo;s already tough enough for businesses.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s so much pressure on brick and mortar with the internet and how it&rsquo;s driving prices down. You&rsquo;ve seen it in your neighborhoods: the card shop is gone. The handy man shop is gone,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said the low wage workers can&rsquo;t wait. Especially since Illinois governor-elect Bruce Rauner&rsquo;s plan to boost the minimum wage won&rsquo;t happen overnight.</p><p>&ldquo;They want to do tort reform, tax reform, and a number of other reforms before we get to that - workers compensation. As someone who spent 11 years in Springfield - each and every one of those is a huge undertaking that will not be done quickly. Years will go by,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The first boost kicks in next July - when the Chicago minimum wage will increase from $8.25 to $10 an hour.</p><p>Meanwhile, Illinois state lawmakers are in Springfield for perhaps the final week until the new governor is sworn in next month. A lot of attention has been placed on what the state will do about the minimum wage.</p><p>The debate in Springfield has some wondering what it means for their own business, like Dan Costello. He runs Home Run Inn pizza restaurants in multiple locations around Chicago.</p><p>One location is in Chicago&rsquo;s Beverly neighborhood, which is just a few blocks from the city limits. Costello says Chicago City Council&rsquo;s vote for a higher minimum wage puts him at a disadvantage to his pizza joint neighbors and it&rsquo;ll force him to raise prices.</p><p>&ldquo;I think we have a great product, but at the end of the day, can I charge 10, 12, 15 percent more than the guy down the street? I don&rsquo;t know and that&rsquo;s what scares me,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;</p><p>Costello says he favors raising the minimum wage, he just wants the whole state to raise the wage, too.</p><p>&ldquo;Then we&rsquo;re all in the same boat,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>On the other side of the city limits is Park Cleaners, a dry cleaners in Evergreen Park. Cindy Custer is behind the counter, greeting customers on a first-name basis.</p><p>&ldquo;So what are you gonna do? You gonna make everybody get jobs in the city because the minimum wage is higher? What&rsquo;s gonna happen to the people that own businesses in other towns and villages, you know?&rdquo; she asked.</p><p>Both Costello and Custer - and even the mayor of Evergreen Park - feel that they&rsquo;re at the mercy of what&rsquo;s decided in Springfield this week. And what lawmakers are up to is still up in the air.</p><p>It could undo what Chicago&rsquo;s City Council passed yesterday, and make one uniform minimum wage rate for the entire state. There&rsquo;s no guarantee that has enough support, even though a referendum on last month&rsquo;s ballot asking voters about a higher minimum wage passed by a wide margin.</p><p>Lawmakers have until Thursday to pass a bill that would set a new minimum wage, and maybe put Chicago&rsquo;s wages at the same level as its bordering suburbs.</p><p><em>Follow Lauren Chooljian <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>. Follow Tony Arnold <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 18:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-raises-its-minimum-wage-efforts-stall-state-level-111179