WBEZ | chicago politics http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-politics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois Rep. Derrick Smith convicted of bribery http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-rep-derrick-smith-convicted-bribery-110313 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP362609502394.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A federal jury in Chicago on Tuesday convicted Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith of bribery for taking $7,000 from a purported day care operator seeking a state grant.</p><p>In a weeklong trial, prosecutors played secret recordings of the 50-year-old Chicago Democrat accepting 70 $100 bills in exchange for a letter supporting the $50,000 state grant &mdash; though it was all part of an FBI sting.</p><p>Jurors returned their verdict after deliberating about four hours over two days. Smith showed no emotion as he learned his fate, sitting with his hands folded. A family member patted him on the shoulder minutes later.</p><p>Outside court, a subdued Smith told reporters: &quot;We gave it a good fight. God knows the truth. Jurors didn&#39;t see what God saw.&quot;</p><p>No sentencing date was set, but a status hearing was set for Sept. 23. Smith was released pending a sentencing date.</p><p>The recordings of Smith by a campaign worker-turned-informant included one where Smith uses slang talking about the handover of the bribe, asking, &quot;How she going to get the cheddar to us?&quot; In another he says, &quot;I don&#39;t want no trace of it.&quot;</p><p>Prosecutors also described how a distraught Smith admitted after his March 13, 2012, arrest he took the bribe. He even brought agents to his bedroom, retrieved $2,500 in leftover bribe cash from the foot of his bed and handed it over.</p><p>Shortly after Smith&#39;s arrest, his House colleagues voted 100-6 to expel him. But he was reinstated after winning his late-2012 election. He lost his 2014 primary and was supposed to finish out his current term. However, a felony conviction means he will lose his seat.</p><p>Jurors found Smith guilty on all charges &mdash; one count of bribery and one of attempted extortion. Combined, the convictions carry a maximum 30-year prison sentence.</p><p>At trial, the defense attacked the credibility of the informant, who was only referred to by his first name, Pete, in court. They described him as a deadbeat and convicted felon who &quot;set up&quot; Smith for $1,000-a-week payments from the FBI.</p><p>&quot;He&#39;s a hustler,&quot; defense attorney Victor Henderson told jurors during closing arguments Monday. &quot;He hustled the representative and he hustled the FBI.&quot;</p><p>The attorney argued that Pete hoodwinked a devoted public servant together with an overzealous FBI.</p><p>&quot;He wasn&#39;t going to commit a crime,&quot; Henderson said, pointing to Smith. &quot;That was something they fabricated.&quot;</p><p>But prosecutor Marsha McClellan said in her closing that the recordings and other evidence demonstrated that no one led Smith astray against his will.</p><p>&quot;There sits a defendant whose public face is one of service, but who privately wanted to use that office ... to get cash into his pockets,&quot; she said.</p><p>In a recording from early March 2012, Pete counts aloud as he hands the cash to Smith in seven $1,000 stacks. As the informant counts the fifth stack, he curses as the money sticks together. He pauses, then counts the rest.</p><p>Pete then jokingly chides Smith for not expressing gratitude, saying, &quot;(You) didn&#39;t even say thank you.&quot;</p><p>The prosecutor said that Smith&#39;s easy, confident tone on the recordings illustrated he didn&#39;t think he&#39;d ever get caught.</p><p>&quot;Never in a million years did he expect us to listen to him now,&quot; McClellan told jurors. &quot;He never thought this day would come.&quot;</p></p> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 11:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-rep-derrick-smith-convicted-bribery-110313 Watch Chicago's 2nd Ward fly north over the years http://www.wbez.org/news/watch-chicagos-2nd-ward-fly-north-over-years-110293 <p><div class="image-insert-image ">Last week <a href="http://wbezdata.tumblr.com/post/86343915004/mapping-rahm-emanuels-2011-victory-and-how-that-may" target="_blank">we looked at</a> where Rahm Emanuel had support in his 2011 election and how that might shift, but one of the major pieces of geography that will change in 2015 are the boundaries themselves.</div><p>In 2012 aldermen approved a new ward map, as they do every 10 years with the decennial census. And as is also a Chicago tradition, there were calls of gerrymandering, civil rights abuses and the eventual lawsuit.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s redistricting efforts have been challenged in three of the past four attempts going back to 1980. That&rsquo;s why you&rsquo;ll find two different maps in use in the 1980s and 1990s, and very possibly later this decade as well (A lawsuit from the League of Women Voters is <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140228/downtown/city-ward-map-lawsuit-headed-back-court" target="_blank">working its way through the courts)</a>.</p><p>Inspired by a <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/05/15/americas-most-gerrymandered-congressional-districts/" target="_blank">series of articles from the <em>Washington Post</em>&rsquo;s Christopher Ingraham</a>, we decided to see just how gerrymandered Chicago&rsquo;s wards have become. Ingraham created a 0-100 scale to measure the level of gerrymandering in congressional districts and we reproduced that to see how Chicago&rsquo;s wards stacked up to Congress.</p><p>We used maps from three sources: The <a href="http://hue.uadata.org">Historical Urban Ecological data set</a>, the <a href="http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/collections/maps/chigis.html">University of Chicago</a>, and the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/doit/dataset/boundaries_-_wards.html">city</a> of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/no-sidebar/approved-ward-map-95662">Chicago</a>.</p><p>We loaded those maps in a PostGIS database and followed Ingraham&rsquo;s methodology, specifically applying the <a href="http://www.redistrictingthenation.com/whatis-compactness.aspx">Polsby-Popper method</a> to determine a gerrymandering score (on a 0-1 scale), then converting it to a 0-100 scale.</p><blockquote><p><em>If you&rsquo;re playing along at home, the formula we used was 100*(1-(((4*3.14)*Area)/Perimeter^2))</em></p></blockquote><p>A few caveats before we continue:</p><p>-Polsby-Popper isn&rsquo;t the only way to measure gerrymandering and may not capture aspects some would associate with gerrymandering. We followed along with Ingraham&rsquo;s method to make comparisons.</p><p>-A perfect compactness score of 0 would be a circle, but no area can be split into a bunch of circles. A series of perfect squares would score 21.5.</p><p>-Compactness of a ward doesn&rsquo;t take into account population, demographics or keeping communities together, something required by the Voting Rights Act. That means sometimes a less-compact district can better serve a community.</p><p>-Chicago is a weird looking city (geographically speaking). With Lake Michigan, the O&rsquo;Hare annexation and its extreme North-South orientation, there are a lot of irregular boundaries. The city itself scores 88.8 on our gerrymandering scale (which may say something about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">how the city came together</a>, but that&rsquo;s what we&rsquo;re working with).</p><p>With that said, this is a good starting point to look at how Chicago&rsquo;s wards have changed over the years, and how it compares to other civic divisions.</p><p><strong>1927</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1927_0.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 320px;" title="Chicago City Council Wards, 1927 (Source: Historical Urban Ecological data set)" /></div><p>Chicago first split into 50 wards in the 1920s. Before then there were 35 wards with two aldermen each. Reformers hoped that having one alderman per ward (and 50 instead of 70) <a href="http://www.lib.niu.edu/1979/ii790211.html" target="_blank">would help reduce corruption</a>. The fact that this story exists implies that it did not.</p><p>That first attempt at 50 wards (with annexation thrown in in 1927) is pretty compact, and contains mostly shapes your toddler could name. You can see in the map above that most ward lines are fairly straight, with the Chicago River the main natural divider creating some squiggles.</p><p>At this point the 2nd Ward is a fairly regular shape, more or less a six-sided polygon.</p><p><strong>2nd Ward score: 43.37. Chicago score: 48.74.</strong></p><p><strong>1986</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1986_0.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 320px;" title="Chicago City Council Wards, 1986 (Source: University of Chicago)" /></p><p>Fast forward to 1986 (the next year we could find electronic ward maps). These boundaries were drawn after the election of Harold Washington as mayor and a <a href="http://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2730&amp;context=cklawreview">4-year-long court battle</a>, so would only be in effect until 1992.</p><p>While the map as a whole has undergone some major changes, the 2nd Ward is relatively close to its original shape. The boundaries to the north, west and east are in basically the same spot, but it has grown to the south. Also, notice how the southern boundary is more irregular.</p><p><strong>2nd Ward score: 45.06. Chicago score: 61.58.</strong></p><p><strong>1992/1998</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1998_0.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 320px;" title="Chicago City Council Wards, 1998 (Source: University of Chicago)" /></p><p>Following the 1990 census the Chicago City Council couldn&rsquo;t decide on a new ward map so they sent two proposals to voters in a referendum. Again, the choice was challenged and went to the courts, and a new ward map came in 1998. The process <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-11-09/opinion/ct-edit-wards-1109-jm-20111109_1_new-chicago-ward-map-incumbent-aldermen-census" target="_blank">cost the city $18.7 million</a>.</p><p>This is the first major change for the 2nd Ward. Other than its eastern edge on Lake Michigan, the whole thing is blown up and now resembles something like a transposed &lsquo;L.&rsquo; Not only does most of it move north, but its long, skinny shape extends west halfway across the city.</p><p>In this one change, the 2nd Ward goes from one of Chicago&rsquo;s more regular wards to one of the more gerrymandered.</p><p>While the new 1998 map had some big changes for certain districts, there was little change as far as the gerrymandering score for the city or Ward 2.</p><p><strong>1992: 2nd Ward score: 84.89. Chicago score: 69.91.</strong></p><p><strong>1998: 2nd Ward score: 85.10. Chicago score: 69.71.</strong></p><p><strong>2002</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2002_0.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 320px;" title="Chicago City Council Wards, 2002 (Source: City of Chicago)" /></p><p>After the 2000 census an amazing thing happened: Chicago passed a ward map that didn&rsquo;t get thrown out by the courts. In true Chicago style, though, this came because of more gerrymandering, not less.</p><p>Mayor Richard M. Daley <a href="http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=164131">worked with black and Latino councilors to craft wards that were acceptable to them</a>, creating safer constituencies at the expense of compactness.</p><p>The 2nd Ward is barely touching its original area, a plume of smoke rising from the ashes of its foundation. Its continued its northern path and now swallows up Burnham Harbor, Soldier Field and and the Field Museum.</p><p>This is the first time the 2nd Ward is Chicago&rsquo;s most gerrymandered, narrowly passing the 41st (91.28).</p><p><strong>2nd Ward score: 91.33. Chicago score: 69.71.</strong></p><p><strong>2015</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2015_0.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 320px;" title="Chicago City Council Wards, 2015 (Source: City of Chicago)" /></div><p>These are the wards that will elect our next round of aldermen in February, unless of course they don&rsquo;t.</p><p>The 2nd Ward was moved not only entirely north of where it was in 1927, but north of where it was in 2002. This got a lot of attention after the <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-01-20/news/ct-met-city-council-new-ward-map-20120120_1_new-ward-map-aldermen-vote-whitney-woodward">map was approved in 2012</a>, because it moved current 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti into the 28th Ward, seemingly a punishment for not sticking with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>WBEZ produced <a href="http://www.wbez.org/no-sidebar/approved-ward-map-95662">an interactive map of the new wards</a> along with demographic profiles of each ward back in 2012. Check out that link for more information on the process as well.</p><p>The end result is that the 2nd Ward is now solidly Chicago&rsquo;s most gerrymandered, with the 1st Ward ranking second at 91.48.</p><p><strong>2nd Ward score: 94.16. Chicago score: 74.18.</strong></p><p><strong>How Does Chicago Compare?</strong></p><p>Going back in Ingraham&rsquo;s work with states and congressional districts, Chicago and the 2nd Ward fit in pretty well. Chicago matches up well with states like Missouri as in the upper half, but not near the most gerrymandered. The 2nd Ward, though, would be just outside the top-10 for most-gerrymandered district (Illinois 4th is No. 8).</p><p>Again, these scores may be indicators of gerrymandering but is by no means the final word. That will come later from the legal system.</p></p> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 14:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/watch-chicagos-2nd-ward-fly-north-over-years-110293 Chicago seeks end to federal hiring oversight http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-seeks-end-federal-hiring-oversight-110188 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Shakman_Mik_03_jpg.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A crusading lawyer who fought for decades against Chicago&rsquo;s entrenched political patronage system is finally calling for an end to federal oversight of City Hall&rsquo;s hiring practices.</p><p>Attorney Michael Shakman told a federal judge on Thursday that the city has come into &ldquo;substantial compliance&rdquo; with the so-called Shakman decrees, which are a series of court orders that have sought to end the sort of politically-motivated hiring and firing practices that have been an inextricable part Chicago politics for decades.</p><p>Chicago has been under the watchful eye of a federal hiring monitor since 2005, following high-profile political hiring scandals involving top aides to former Mayor Richard M. Daley.</p><p>&ldquo;Over the past several years, the City has developed and implemented policies and procedures to help ensure that unlawful political reasons and factors are not and will not be considered in the City&rsquo;s employment actions,&rdquo; reads Thursday&rsquo;s joint court filing, which was also signed by Corporation Counsel Steve Patton, the city&rsquo;s top lawyer.</p><p>Speaking by phone on Thursday, Shakman said Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration has helped bring an end to the federal oversight by disciplining Daley-era workers who violated political hiring rules. He also praised Emanuel for implementing new hiring plans, and appointing aides and an inspector general who watchdog political hiring.</p><p>But Shakman added Chicago still has work to do to shed its reputation as a town where political supporters have often been rewarded with government jobs.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not naive,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t think that politics is gonna disappear overnight from the minds of lots of people. But all we can really do in the real world is set up procedures that should prevent it.&rdquo;</p><p>If a federal judge approves the joint request at a hearing on June 16, the city&rsquo;s inspector general would take over hiring duties from the court-appointed monitor.</p><p>That would mark the end of a legal battle that has plagued City Hall for nearly 45 years. The fight began in 1969, when Shakman was an independent candidate running against the mighty Cook County Democratic Party for a seat at Illinois&rsquo; 1970 Constitutional Convention. Since then, several court orders - collectively known as the &ldquo;Shakman decrees&rdquo; - have sought to strip political considerations from most hiring decisions at City Hall.</p><p>The federal monitor was <a href="http://www.shakmanmonitor.com/court_orders/Court%20Order%20Appointing%20Shakman%20Monitor.pdf" target="_blank">appointed</a> in 2005, following the federal indictment of Daley&rsquo;s former patronage chief, Robert Sorich, for steering city jobs toward politically-connected applicants, in violation of the Shakman decrees. Also that summer, another top Daley aide, Donald Tomczak, pleaded guilty to similar criminal charges. Sorich was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/guilty-verdicts-sorich-trial" target="_blank">found guilty</a> in 2006.</p><p>In addition to tempering Chicago&rsquo;s reputation for political cronyism, the hiring scandals have also cost City Hall big money. The city has had to foot the bill for the federal monitor, which has cost the city $6.6 million, according to Emanuel&rsquo;s administration. Another $4.3 million has gone to consultant and legal fees, and the city has paid out nearly $12 million to settle hiring-related legal cases since 2008, according to the an Emanuel aide.</p><p>&ldquo;Since the first day of my administration, we have made it a priority to take politics out of the hiring process, professionalize city government, and end the decades of practices that were a stain on our City,&rdquo; Emanuel was quoted as saying in an emailed statement. &ldquo;We are turning a page on the past to a future where the public knows that the City has a transparent and accountable system in place to ensure that city jobs will go to the candidate who is most qualified, not the most connected.&rdquo;</p><p>The end of federal hiring monitoring for the city may also mean the end of Joe Ferguson&rsquo;s tenure as Chicago Inspector General. Despite several <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/watchdog-emanuel-hamstrings-probes-waste-fraud-106705" target="_blank">public clashes</a> with Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the past, the mayor <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/despite-disagreements-emanuel-reappoint-city-hall-watchdog-108590" target="_blank">reappointed</a> Ferguson to another four-year term last year.</p><p>But Ferguson told WBEZ then that he might &ldquo;move onto other things&rdquo; once the city was out from under the Shakman monitor, which he hoped to achieve by the end of this summer. On Thursday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the inspector general declined to comment on his future.</p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;" target="_blank">Alex Keefe</a>&nbsp;is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;" target="_blank">Google+</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 15 May 2014 15:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-seeks-end-federal-hiring-oversight-110188 Morning Shift: New strategies for higher ed http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-12/morning-shift-new-strategies-higher-ed-109353 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover photo Flickr davidcharlow.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We take a look at what some lawmakers and organizations are doing to try to combat the ever-increasing price of college textbooks. Plus, what trends and changes are happening in college admissions?&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-addressing-the-affordability-or-lack/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-addressing-the-affordability-or-lack.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-addressing-the-affordability-or-lack" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: New strategies for higher ed" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 12 Dec 2013 08:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-12/morning-shift-new-strategies-higher-ed-109353 Daley officially candidate in 2014 governor's race http://www.wbez.org/news/daley-officially-candidate-2014-governors-race-108219 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP81863661396.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>CHICAGO &mdash; Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley filed documents on Tuesday declaring himself an official candidate to challenge Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in next year&#39;s Democratic primary.</p><p>More than a month after he released a videotaped announcement that he&#39;d opened an exploratory committee, Daley filed the paperwork hours after releasing another video late Monday in which he said &quot;there is no exploratory piece of this anymore.&quot;</p><p>Daley has been acting like a candidate in recent weeks, holding press conferences in which he has Quinn for his handling of the state&#39;s pension crisis and other issues. In the latest video, that was his theme again, saying that the fact that the state Legislature adjourned in May without finding a solution on state pensions or vote on same-sex marriage represents a &#39;dysfunction.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I think the biggest problem right now is the lack of leadership,&quot; he said in the 54-second video, during which he never mentioned Quinn by name.</p><p>Quinn hasn&#39;t spoken about his 2014 plans in detail aside from saying the best way to campaign is to continue doing his job as governor.</p><p>&quot;Nobody&#39;s built more as governor of our state than I have,&quot; he told reporters Tuesday after an unrelated event in Chicago.</p><p>Daley&#39;s campaign spokesman Pete Giangreco said Daley filed paperwork on Tuesday with the Illinois Board of Elections to remove the exploratory committee label from his campaign.</p><p>Giangreco said that a number of factors prompted Daley to jump into the race. He said Daley was encouraged by his ability to raise about $800,000 in less than three weeks, as well as his reception by mayors and others in visits he made to 11 downstate counties.</p><p>&quot;He went through all that and (concluded) it all added up to a vibrant, and viable candidacy,&quot; Giangreco said.</p><p>Daley is thus far Quinn&#39;s only 2014 Democratic primary challenger. Earlier this month, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who was widely considered Quinn&#39;s most serious challenger if she ran, announced that she had decided not to. In an emailed statement, she said she never planned on running if her father, longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan, remained in his job.</p><p>A member of Chicago&#39;s first political family, Daley&#39;s brother, Richard M. Daley, and father, Richard J. Daley, were each mayor for more than 20 years and are widely considered among the most powerful mayors in American history.</p><p>While Bill Daley, the youngest son of Richard J. Daley, has flirted with runs for political office, including governor of Illinois, he never has done so. He has appeared more comfortable in supporting roles, spending years as a Democratic operative. He also was tapped by President Bill Clinton in his first term to push through the North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress, and selected after Clinton&#39;s re-election to be secretary of commerce, a post he held from January 1997 to July 2000.</p><p>President Barack Obama chose him as his chief of staff to replace Rahm Emanuel after Emanuel stepped down to run for Chicago mayor when Daley&#39;s brother decided not to seek a seventh term.</p><p>CHICAGO &mdash; Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley is making his Illinois gubernatorial bid official.</p><p>He&#39;s set to remove his &quot;exploratory committee&quot; label Tuesday by filing paperwork with the Illinois Board of Elections. So far, he&#39;s Gov. Pat Quinn&#39;s only 2014 Democratic primary challenger.</p><p>In a video on his campaign website, Daley says the fact that the state Legislature adjourned in May without finding a solution to the pension crisis or voting on same-sex marriage represents a &quot;dysfunction.&quot;<br />He says he&#39;s running because of the positive response he&#39;s received and he&#39;ll work seven days a week.</p><p>The brother and son of two longtime Chicago mayors formed his exploratory committee last month, but has already been acting like a candidate. He&#39;s stepped out to criticize Quinn&#39;s leadership and made statewide tours.</p></p> Tue, 30 Jul 2013 08:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/daley-officially-candidate-2014-governors-race-108219 Judge refuses to toss Democrat's tax convictions http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-refuses-toss-democrats-tax-convictions-107857 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/beavers_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A federal judge in Chicago has refused to toss a former Cook County commissioner&#39;s tax-evasion convictions on grounds his jury had no African-American males.</p><p>The ruling came at a post-trial hearing Wednesday for once-powerful Democrat Williams Beavers.</p><p>Beavers is black and had argued that the jury selection was fundamentally flawed.</p><p>A jury of 10 whites, one Hispanic and one African-American female convicted Beavers early this year of using campaign money to gamble without reporting it as income.</p><p>Judge James Zagel took issue with the defense&#39;s emphasis on an absence of African-American jurors. He said there&#39;s an &quot;African-American&quot; category under rules meant to promote racially balanced juries but no &quot;African-American males&quot; category.</p><p>Zagel set sentencing for Sept. 25. Beavers faces a maximum three-year prison term on each of four tax-evasion counts.</p></p> Wed, 26 Jun 2013 11:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-refuses-toss-democrats-tax-convictions-107857 Jurors convict ex-Chicago alderman in bribery case http://www.wbez.org/news/jurors-convict-ex-chicago-alderman-bribery-case-107735 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP539271569510_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A jury has convicted a former Chicago alderman of a single count of conspiracy to commit bribery.</p><p>Ambrosio Medrano showed no emotion as the verdict was read Monday, sitting at a defense table with his hands folded on his lap.</p><p>He faced federal charges accusing him of paying bribes he was told would be given to a Los Angeles official in order to secure a lucrative contract.</p><p>Jurors deliberated for about four or five hours before returning with their decision. Two businessmen tried with him were also convicted.</p><p>Medrano&#39;s conviction carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.</p><p>The case isn&#39;t Medrano&#39;s first run-in with the law. He spent nearly two years in prison after pleading guilty in 1996 in a federal investigation into payoffs to aldermen and other Chicago-area politicians.</p></p> Mon, 17 Jun 2013 14:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/jurors-convict-ex-chicago-alderman-bribery-case-107735 Closing for ex-alderman at bribery trial http://www.wbez.org/news/closing-ex-alderman-bribery-trial-107709 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP539271569510_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The lawyer for a former Chicago alderman tells jurors his client can&#39;t be guilty of bribery because he never believed a fictitious public official in an FBI sting was real.</p><p>The argument came Friday during closing arguments at Ambrosio Medrano&#39;s federal bribery trial in Chicago.</p><p>Medrano and two businessmen are accused of paying bribes they were told would be given to a Los Angeles official to secure a business contract.</p><p>Defense lawyer John De Leon told jurors intent is key. He added, &quot;If you don&#39;t believe a person existed, you can&#39;t form the intent to bribe.&quot;</p><p>De Leon says he dubbed his client &quot;anxious Ambrosio&quot; because he was anxious to a fault to make money. But he insists Medrano thought the deal was legitimate.</p><p>Deliberations are expected to begin Monday.</p></p> Fri, 14 Jun 2013 13:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/closing-ex-alderman-bribery-trial-107709 Lawyer: Ex-alderman never intended to bribe anyone http://www.wbez.org/news/lawyer-ex-alderman-never-intended-bribe-anyone-107530 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP539271569510_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A former Chicago alderman&#39;s attorney has told jurors at a federal bribery trial in Chicago that his client never intended to bribe anyone.</p><p>Ambrosio Medrano and two businessmen are accused of paying bribe money to an undercover agent posing as a sale representative.</p><p>The agent allegedly told the men he&#39;d pass the money to a Los Angeles official who would supposedly take steps to ensure the men landed a lucrative pharmaceutical contract.</p><p>But it was all part of an FBI sting and the official didn&#39;t actually exist.</p><p>During his opening Tuesday, defense attorney Gal Pissetzky said Medrano never believed the official existed and never thought money paid to the agent was bribe money.</p><p>Medrano spent nearly two years in prison after pleading guilty in 1996 to a payoff scheme.</p></p> Tue, 04 Jun 2013 14:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lawyer-ex-alderman-never-intended-bribe-anyone-107530 Corruption trial begins for ex-Chicago alderman http://www.wbez.org/news/corruption-trial-begins-ex-chicago-alderman-107491 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP539271569510.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Jury selection is set to begin in the corruption trial of a former Chicago alderman.</p><p>Ambrosio Medrano is facing felony bribery charges after authorities say he tried to accept kickbacks in schemes that included selling bandages to public hospitals.</p><p>Medrano spent nearly two years in prison after pleading guilty in 1996 in a government investigation into payoffs to aldermen and other Chicago-area politicians. He tried to run for re-election, but his bid was short-circuited when the Illinois Supreme Court said he was ineligible to serve because of the conviction.</p><p>A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney&#39;s Office said Monday that the trial is expected to last about a week.</p></p> Mon, 03 Jun 2013 10:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/corruption-trial-begins-ex-chicago-alderman-107491