WBEZ | Tony Arnold http://www.wbez.org/tags/tony-arnold Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Labor unions celebrate judge's ruling against Illinois pension law http://www.wbez.org/news/labor-unions-celebrate-judges-ruling-against-illinois-pension-law-111148 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/springfield_0_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>An Illinois judge has ruled unconstitutional a controversial plan to reduce state employees&rsquo; retirement benefits.<br /><br />Labor groups sued the State of Illinois for passing a bill reducing their members&rsquo; pension benefits. The unions representing downstate and suburban teachers, university employees and most other state workers argued the state constitution says, specifically, that retirement benefits can&rsquo;t be diminished. On Friday, Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John Belz agreed.</p><p>Belz quoted directly from the state constitution in his six-page decision, citing the passage that states retirement benefits &ldquo;shall not be diminished or repaired.&rdquo; He singled out components of the bill that narrowly passed the state legislature last year to explain why he was ruling against the state. For instance, the law changed cost-of-living increases certain employees receive in retirement, and put a cap on some employees&rsquo; pensionable salary.</p><p>&ldquo;The State of Illinois made a constitutionally protected promise to its employees concerning their pension benefits,&rdquo; Belz wrote in his decision. &ldquo;Under established and uncontroverted Illinois law, the State of Illinois cannot break this promise.&rdquo;</p><p>Labor unions representing employees who are in those retirement systems celebrated the decision.</p><p>&ldquo;The court granted us everything. The court saw it our way,&rdquo; said Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. &ldquo;This is an unambiguous, unequivocal victory for the constitution and for working people.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Retirees who earned their modest security in retirement, they always paid their share. And they should not be punished for the failures of politicians,&rdquo; said Anders Lindall, a spokesman for the We Are One Coalition, a group of labor unions.</p><p>Attorneys who defended the bill acknowledged that it reduced benefits, but argued it is needed to deal with a $105 billion unfunded pension liability. Studies have shown that massive debt tied to Illinois&rsquo; retirement payments is the worst of any state in the country.</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn, and those who supported the legislation, argue basic functions of state government are in danger if the pension law is found to be unconstitutional.</p><p>&ldquo;This historic pension reform law eliminates the state&rsquo;s unfunded liability and fully stabilizes the systems to ensure retirement security for employees who have faithfully contributed to them,&rdquo; Quinn said in a statement.</p><p>The Democratic governor was defeated in this month&rsquo;s election by Republican Bruce Rauner, who also released a statement asking the state&rsquo;s Supreme Court to take up the case as soon as possible.</p><p>The office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is defending the law in court. Her office said Friday that it will ask the state Supreme Court to expedite an appeal &ldquo;given the significant impact that a final decision in this case will have on the state&rsquo;s fiscal condition.&rdquo;</p><p>Meantime, Democratic Senate President John Cullerton is considering a plan, in case the state Supreme Court agrees with Judge Belz and throws out the law. Cullerton had pushed for a separate pension proposal that would ask employees to choose between earning state-funded health care coverage in retirement or receiving pay increases.</p><p>&ldquo;If they throw it out, we&rsquo;ll be back to square one and then we go back again to the alternative that already passed the Senate and when that passes, save some money that we can then pass on to education funding and whatever else we want to utilize that savings,&rdquo; Cullerton said Friday.</p><p>Legislators would have to re-visit Cullerton&rsquo;s proposal in a new General Assembly, after January&rsquo;s inauguration.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/labor-unions-celebrate-judges-ruling-against-illinois-pension-law-111148 Teachers union president vows to fight cuts to pensions http://www.wbez.org/news/teachers-union-president-vows-fight-cuts-pensions-109618 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/karenlewis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-4f4111df-eab0-88bc-9e92-a95991dd6897">The head of the Chicago Teachers Union on Friday said she will not accept cuts to retired teachers&rsquo; benefits as a way to ease the district&rsquo;s pension crisis; though she did detail some ideas for easing a funding shortfall of at least $8 billion.</p><p>CTU President Karen Lewis said she was &ldquo;horrified&rdquo; by the controversial overhaul of state worker pensions that became law in December. That law, which scales back benefits for retirees and increases retirement ages for younger workers, has been discussed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration as a possible template for the ailing Chicago Teachers&rsquo; Pension Fund.</p><p>&ldquo;All right, you can cut pensions,&rdquo; Lewis said. &ldquo;Then what happens to those people? So this is not just about a spreadsheet piece, it&rsquo;s [about] what actually happens to the people.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago is facing two big challenges with its teachers&rsquo; pension fund: a state-mandated $400-million spike in contributions next year and a system that is critically underfunded. The underfunding is due, in large part, to a decade-long contribution holiday - when Chicago Public Schools paid nothing toward its teachers&rsquo; pensions - that was followed by a few years of reduced payments.</p><p>In an interview with WBEZ on Friday, Lewis said simply delaying the payments is no longer an option. She suggested that CPS needs to reprioritize its budget in order to meet its required $600 million pension contribution next year, pointing to a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-approves-seven-new-charter-schools-109558" target="_blank">recent decision</a> by CPS&rsquo; board to approve several new charter schools.</p><p>&ldquo;You do have the money,&rdquo; Lewis said of the district. &ldquo;You have to choose to use it. It&rsquo;s a difference between not having the money, [and] having it and not wanting to do it.&rdquo;</p><p>Lewis declined to offer a specific plan for righting the Chicago Teachers&rsquo; Pension Fund, which currently has <a href="http://www.ctpf.org/AnnualReports/cafr2012.pdf" target="_blank">less than half</a> the money it needs to fulfill its long-term obligations. But she did hint at some things she wants to see in a final proposal, which would need approval from state lawmakers.</p><p>Lewis called for a restoration of the designated property tax line item that would exclusively fund Chicago teacher pensions. That&rsquo;s how the system was funded before 1995, when former Mayor Richard M. Daley gained authority over the public schools and that property tax stream was diverted into the district&rsquo;s main bank account.</p><p>And while she said she opposed any changes in benefits for current retirees, Lewis did not rule out changing the benefits of teachers who are still on the job.</p><p>&ldquo;We could have conversations about that,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We could have significant conversations about that. But there are ways to not have to do that.&rdquo;</p><p>But currently, there aren&rsquo;t any conversations between the union and the Emanuel administration, according to Lewis.</p><p>&ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t been in negotiations for a while because the person who actually is in charge doesn&rsquo;t wanna be in negotiations,&rdquo; she said, referring to the mayor. &ldquo;He wants a bill.&rdquo;</p><p>The district&rsquo;s most recent offer included eliminating cost-of-living increases for retirees&rsquo; benefits and cutting the amount of money contributed to each teacher&rsquo;s pension by about a third, according to the union.</p><p>A CPS spokesman declined to talk specifics about the district&rsquo;s proposals.</p><p>&quot;For the last two years, the District has been working to reach an agreement with CTU on meaningful pension reform that protects the retirement security of our teachers while avoiding dramatic cuts to the classroom,&rdquo; said CPS spokesman Joel Hood. &ldquo;We have always been willing to sit down for discussions with the CTU.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, Emanuel budget spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said in an email Friday that the mayor meets regularly with state legislative leaders to discuss the city&rsquo;s agenda in Springfield, including pensions.</p><p>Emanuel and his allies in the state legislature have been emphasizing the need to fix Chicago&rsquo;s municipal pension crisis, now that state lawmakers finally passed a law addressing the state&rsquo;s massively underfunded pension systems. On top of the problem with its teachers pensions, City Hall also faces a crisis with its retirement funds for police, firefighters, laborers and municipal workers, which together, face their own nearly $19.5 billion funding shortfall.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe" target="_blank">Alex Keefe</a> is a political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028">Google+</a>. Reporters <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">Becky Vevea</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">Tony Arnold</a> contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Fri, 31 Jan 2014 17:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/teachers-union-president-vows-fight-cuts-pensions-109618 Afternoon Shift: Khaled Hosseini, independent film and Illinois Senate deadlines http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-28/afternoon-shift-khaled-hosseini-independent-film-and-illinois <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/khaled.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Khaled Hosseini talks about the themes of morality and human relationships in his new book. How difficult is it to make an independent film in Chicago? Filmmaker Aemilia Scott and director of the Midwest Film Festival, Mike McNamara answer. WBEZ reporter Tony Arnold gives an update on Springfield.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-khaled-hosseini-independent-films.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-khaled-hosseini-independent-films" target="_blank">View the story "Afternoon Shift: Khaled Hosseini, independent film and Illinois Senate deadlines" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 28 May 2013 10:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-28/afternoon-shift-khaled-hosseini-independent-film-and-illinois 'Morning Shift': #80 The legislative session goes on http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-01-07/morning-shift-80-legislative-session-goes-104739 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/MorningshiftCopy_5_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-80-the-legislative-session-goes-on.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-80-the-legislative-session-goes-on" target="_blank">View the story "'Morning Shift': #80 The legislative session goes on" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Mon, 07 Jan 2013 09:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-01-07/morning-shift-80-legislative-session-goes-104739 Apologies and Attribution: The new breaking news http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-23/apologies-and-attribution-new-breaking-news-95744 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-23/RS4540_AP110728144210.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Generations of reporters have used the phrase, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." Though, it seemed over the weekend that maxim was ignored by some big news organizations when they reported former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno had died on Saturday - well before Paterno's actual death Sunday. So, what went wrong? Who’s to blame?<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jen-sabella" target="_blank"> Jen Sabella</a>, editor of the <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chicago/" target="_blank">Huffington Post Chicago</a></em> and WBEZ news desk editor<a href="http://www.wbez.org/staff/tony-arnold" target="_blank"> Tony Arnold</a> and editorial consultant Carl Lavin joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>to discuss how news outlets attribute and source their news in these days of aggregation. Lavin, who says the best time to be a journalist is now, recently outlined "<a href="http://carllavin.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/10-lessons-for-newsrooms-on-accuracy-and-apologies/" target="_blank">10 Lessons for Newsrooms: On Accuracy and Apologies.</a>"</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 23 Jan 2012 14:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-23/apologies-and-attribution-new-breaking-news-95744 WBEZ's Tony Arnold discusses the Tahawwur Rana verdict http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-10/wbezs-tony-arnold-discusses-tahawwur-rana-verdict-87684 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-10/Rana AP Tom 2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The jury has delivered a split verdict in the terrorism trial of Tahawwur Rana. On Thursday, a jury found Rana guilty on two counts: aiding a Pakistan-based terrorist group and plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper. But they acquitted the Chicago businessman on the third and most serious: helping to plan the 2008 attacks in Mumbai India, which claimed at least 164 lives.</p><p>WBEZ’s Tony Arnold was there for the verdict and spoke to <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>'s about the decision.</p><p><i>Music Button: Kate Simko, "Strumm," from the Strumm </i><i>EP </i><i>(Kupei Musika)</i></p></p> Fri, 10 Jun 2011 13:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-10/wbezs-tony-arnold-discusses-tahawwur-rana-verdict-87684 Carol Mosely Braun holds press conference in front of blood-stain, hours after drive-by http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/carol-mosely-braun-holds-press-conference-front-blood-stain-hours-after-drive <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/moselybraun-bloodstain.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>I'm a little late, but maybe this could be a new segment for the blog - instead of a morning round-up, maybe I can gather interesting tidbits from reporters and ongoing stories and deliver you an afternoon report:</p><p><strong>Top Story</strong>:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/jim-reilly/navy-pier-getting-leased">Navy Pier is being leased to a not-for-profit</a>. According to Al Keefe's story today, the new not-for-profit wants to make the pier more &quot;family-friendly.&quot; No doubt that will include re-approaching the Chicago Childrens Museum, who's latest plan to move to Grant Park has been stymied by political forces. But no one mentioned the makeshift Thomas Train by the fudge shop. No word if renovations and expansion might be in the works for the odd, circular, indoor train.</p><p><strong>B story</strong>:&nbsp;Carol Mosely Braun held a press conference today at the site of a drive-by shooting to emphasize the need for better crime policies. The drive-by actually happened this morning and reporters and cameramen were treated to graphic blood stains on the street to punctuate her point. Now, I'm sure every crime reporter has seen their share of blood stains, but this wasn't a crime story, rather a press conference for a politician running for office. What do you think? Does this smack of exploiting victims or does it bring home the need for us to deal with violence on Chicago streets? Here's the picture of the stain, which was directly behind Mosely-Braun. Was this intended by the campaign? Or did the media, upon arrival, choose this spot because of the gruesome scene?&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="375" width="500" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-05/moselybraun-bloodstain.jpg" /></p><p><strong>C story</strong>:&nbsp;Hey, WBEZ's Tony Arnold made the front-page of the Sun-Times today! He's so close to becoming recognized on the street:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="600" width="450" title="" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-05/rahm-tonyarnold.jpg" /></p><p><strong>D story</strong>: You got to give it up for Sarah Jindra. Our traffic reporter took her flip camera and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/video-sarah-jindra-gives-birds-eye-view-wacker-drive-traffic">recorded a video high-above Wacker Drive</a> to show the hot-spots, congestion and new alternative routes due to construction. For my money, best coverage of the construction to date. Kudos Jindra!</p><p><strong>Weather</strong>: Ooooh, it's cold. And whenever I&nbsp;wear a sports jacket, I&nbsp;can't get my puffy coat over it so I&nbsp;go without. So I've got a long, cold commute tonight.</p><p><strong>Sports</strong>: You know who else is awesome?&nbsp;Stacey King. The colorful color-commentator for the Chicago Bulls gave us a few minutes before a recent home game to help us better understand his awesome, off-the-cuff, wild-tongued phrases. He is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/wikipedia-files-stacey-king">'King' of the Wikipedia Files</a>.</p><p><strong>Kicker</strong>: Are you serious? <a href="http://gapersblock.com/merge/archives/2011/01/05/vanilla-ice/">Butt-dialing</a>? I hope Wilmette outlaws butt-dialing.</p></p> Wed, 05 Jan 2011 19:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/carol-mosely-braun-holds-press-conference-front-blood-stain-hours-after-drive Fans celebrate Blackhawks' Stanley Cup victory...in very different ways http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/fans-celebrate-blackhawks-stanley-cup-victoryin-very-different-ways-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/hawks fans.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On June 9, the Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup since 1961. The victory celebrations went late into the night for thousands of fans. They poured into the streets around Wrigley, they crowded up and down Michigan Avenue and gathered near the United Center. WBEZ's Tony Arnold caught the game on the Near West Side and had a front row seat to the chaos that ensued.</p> <p><strong>The victory celebrations went late into the night for thousands of Blackhawks' fans. They poured into the streets outside Wrigley Field, down Michigan Avenue and near the United Center after the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup-clinching 4-3 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. WBEZ's Tony Arnold caught the game on the Near West Side and had a front row seat to the chaos that ensued.<br />&nbsp;<br />BLOG</strong>:&nbsp;<a href="http://blogs.vocalo.org/jkaufmann/2010/06/video-abc-7s-ben-bradley-deals-with-rowdy-crowd-in-west-loop/25589">You're not a&nbsp;real Chicago&nbsp;TV reporter until you've done a live shot the night of a championship.</a> <br /><br />Before the puck even dropped in Philadelphia,&nbsp;the line outside the West End bar on Madison Street was out the door. But not even a block away,&nbsp;about a dozen Blackhawks fans looking to get away from all the commotion&nbsp;enjoyed plenty of seats at a smaller bar inside a neighborhood ice rink. These were some of the die-hards. TJ Bodden says he's loved the Blackhawks almost his entire life.<br /><br />BODDEN: It's kind of like finding a band that you love growing up and it's your band, but all of the sudden when the captain of the football team likes them, you kind of feel like they left you behind.<br /><br />Melissa and Isaac Porter were sitting at a nearby table.<br /><br />MELISSA PORTER: Good beer. Cheap beer. Great spot to watch it.<br />ISAAC PORTER: And some real hockey fans here. So it's good to be around.<br /><br />They were all tucked away in a small corner of Johnny's Ice House,&nbsp;where Chicago's amateurs come to play hockey. The ice rink is empty, but the bar is the type of place where everyone's fully focused on the game;&nbsp;where old sports newspaper clippings from the past line the wood-paneled walls&nbsp;and hockey players come to grab some drinks before their games.<br /><br />WALZ: I don't think I've missed one period of a 'Hawks game all year. All 103 games now.<br /><br />John Walz says he started playing hockey about three years ago while he was in law school.<br /><br />WALZ: It's the best thing I've ever done in my entire life. I would've went insane between school and work if I didn't have hockey once a week.<br /><br />And he says he's been a Blackhawks fan his whole life.<br />&nbsp;<br />After the game,&nbsp;I stepped outside of the rink,&nbsp;which sits a couple blocks from the United Center. Fans from nearby bars were flooding the streets.&nbsp;<br /><br />SWANSON: It means we've got dedicated fans. We've been waiting for this longer than you can even think about. So this is sweeter, sweeter than anything we could hope for.<br /><br />Katie Swanson was among those who helped shut down Madison Street near the United Center,&nbsp;home to the Blackhawks. The police were out in full force and cars were at a stand-still. Kids were leaning out the windows,&nbsp;waving the Blackhawks' flag. And fans literally walked down the middle of the street&nbsp;to a parade of high fives. But celebratory fist bumps aside&hellip;<br /><br />Back up in the corner of Johnny's Ice House,&nbsp;a different kind of celebrating was going on. After regulation ended and the game was headed for overtime, John Walz stood up; his hockey gear already on. <br /><br />WALZ: Unfortunately I'm going to have to go play right now. I guess I'll determine by people jumping up or swearing really loudly what happens.<br /><br />Walz and his team were scheduled to play at 9:50,&nbsp;just after the 'Hawks game was supposed to end. So Walz,&nbsp;who said he hadn't missed a single period of the Blackhawks all season,&nbsp;missed overtime;&nbsp;missed the game-winning goal...<br /><br />WGN Announcer: And now it's in the net! They score! They score! The 'Hawks win the Stanley Cup!<br /><br />And missed the Blackhawks' championship victory to go play some hockey.</p></p> Tue, 21 Dec 2010 20:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/fans-celebrate-blackhawks-stanley-cup-victoryin-very-different-ways-0