WBEZ | Alex Keefe http://www.wbez.org/tags/alex-keefe Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Emanuel budget avoids pension woes http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-budget-avoids-pension-woes-110944 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP580286472422.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-f04d8a28-15c2-c46d-badf-148104888658">Just months before facing voters at the polls, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday unveiled a 2015 budget plan that boosts popular city services and closes an estimated $297 million spending gap with a menu of revenue increases.</p><p>But the $8.9 billion spending blueprint does not address what is arguably the city&rsquo;s most pressing financial challenge: a $550 million balloon payment to the city&rsquo;s drastically underfunded police and fire pension funds, due in 2016.</p><p>Instead, Emanuel spent much of his election season budget address to the City Council highlighting his past accomplishments, rather than getting into the details of his spending proposal.</p><p>&ldquo;We are making real progress, but we still have a long way to go,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;For the fourth year in a row, we will balance our budget and hold the line on property, sales and gas taxes.&rdquo;</p><p>But Emanuel&rsquo;s proposal does close the projected deficit, in part, with $54.4 million from what his administration calls &ldquo;closing tax loopholes and revenue enhancements.&rdquo;</p><p>That includes $10 million in new money from an increase of the tax levied on paid parking garages; $4.4 million by cutting a tax exemption for people who who rent skyboxes at Chicago sports venues; $12 million by eliminating a tax break for cable TV companies, effectively raising their tax burden; $15 million by increasing the lease tax on cars and office equipment; and $17 million by cracking down on companies who rent office space in other towns to avoid paying city sales and use taxes.</p><p>The mayor&rsquo;s bean counters are also relying heavily on an improving economy to help balance the books. They&rsquo;re estimating a $75.4 million take from growth in the number of building permits and inspections as the construction industry improves, and from a big boost in revenues tied to consumer behavior, such as the sales tax.</p><p>City Hall is also expecting to find nearly $81 million next year through various cuts and belt-tightening measures, but an Emanuel spokeswoman says there will be no city worker layoffs. Another $60.5 million comes from &ldquo;improved fiscal management,&rdquo; including declaring a surplus in some of the city&rsquo;s tax increment financing districts, and $26.1 million comes from cracking down on people who owe back city fines and fees.</p><p>But ahead of the Feb. 24 city elections, Emanuel&rsquo;s spending proposal does not neglect the city services that have long been the currency of Chicago politics. The mayor wants to double the number of pothole crews that repair pock-marked city streets, and boost spending for graffiti blasting, tree-trimming and rat-baiting. He also wants to increase funding for youth summer jobs, early education and after school programs.</p><p>Emanuel made only passing mention of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/experts-say-chicago-has-public-pension-system-set-fail-109329" target="_blank">city&rsquo;s $20 billion public worker pension crisis</a>, leaving open the possibility that voters won&rsquo;t know the mayor&rsquo;s plan until after the Feb. 24 city elections.</p><p>After decades of shorting its pensions, City Hall will finally have to bring its pension payments up to speed in 2016 with an estimated $550 million spike in its state-mandated contributions for police and firefighters&rsquo; retirement funds. Emanuel has already <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-signs-chicago-pension-bill-emanuel-backs-property-tax-hike-110306" target="_blank">brokered an overhaul</a> of the pensions for city laborers and municipal workers, but he still hasn&rsquo;t revealed how he plans to deal with the public safety pension problem.</p><p>&ldquo;Unfortunately, due to difficult economic times and decades of deferral, we still have a lot of work to do,&rdquo; Emanuel said Wednesday. &ldquo;But by everyone giving a little, no one has to give everything.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel initially proposed a property tax hike to pay for the higher contributions to the laborers&rsquo; and municipal workers&rsquo; pensions. But facing political pushback, he struck a deal with Gov. Pat Quinn to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/chicagoans-could-help-close-city-pension-deficit-through-increased-phone-tax-110407" target="_blank">raise the city&rsquo;s telephone taxes</a>, buying him a year before he&rsquo;d have to turn to even more unpopular tax hikes.</p><p>City Council budget hearings are set to begin Monday, and aldermen must approve a 2015 budget by the end of the year.</p></p> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 16:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-budget-avoids-pension-woes-110944 Polling: How campaigns get the message http://www.wbez.org/news/polling-how-campaigns-get-message-110746 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/darkarts (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If political campaigns are horse races, then consider public opinion polls one way to set the odds.</p><p>But campaigns create and use polls for much more than the neck-and-neck numbers you hear on the news.</p><p>Maybe you&rsquo;ve already gotten one of these calls this election season: asking you to &ldquo;press one&rdquo; if you&rsquo;d like to vote for such-and-such a candidate, or &ldquo;press two&rdquo; for another.</p><p>Public polling is a voter&rsquo;s chance to weigh in. But what happens with this information - and exactly who is behind all this polling?</p><p>Gregg Durham heads up the suburban Oak Brook-based We Ask America polling, which has done work for politicians, news outlets and interest groups in Illinois and around the country.</p><p>It&rsquo;s his job to call up registered voters - some 12 million in 2012, Durham says - and take their temp on the candidates and issues of the day.</p><p>Good audio, believe or not, is important, lest people hang up. And asking questions in a specific order, as not to taint the polling pool, is key.</p><p>Getting people to stay on the phone has become a pretty big part of our democratic process. Public opinion polling isn&rsquo;t just used to predict who will win an election. It oils the modern campaign machine, helping it test different talking points, and form the messages most likely to influence voters on election day.</p><p>But all of that depends on the accuracy of the poll.</p><p>Durham points to Illinois&rsquo; super-tight 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary, where State Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard were neck-and-neck near the end.</p><p>&ldquo;I was Mr. Dillard&rsquo;s pollster, and I had to make that call and say, &lsquo;You&rsquo;ve got a problem here. This guy&rsquo;s catching you,&rsquo;&rdquo; Durham said. Durham predicted then that the election would be within 200 or 250 votes. Brady ended up <a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/ElectionInformation/VoteTotalsList.aspx?ElectionType=GP&amp;ElectionID=28&amp;SearchType=OfficeSearch&amp;OfficeID=5064&amp;QueryType=Office&amp;">winning by 193</a>, only to narrowly lose the general election.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>So how do pollsters get so dead-on?</strong></span></p><p>Tom Bowen, a Democratic campaign strategist, says the absolute most important thing for accuracy is that the sample in the poll mirrors the make-up of the larger electorate - ideally, of the people who will actually vote on election day.</p><p>&ldquo;Think about how a pond would look with a bunch of fish in it,&rdquo; Bowen said. &ldquo;If you grabbed a whole bunch of fish out of the pond, you&rsquo;d have a pretty good idea of what the fish look like.&rdquo;</p><p>But, Bowen explains, that would not be a statistically accurate sample, &ldquo;because some fish are on the bottom. Maybe they&rsquo;ve just eaten and are resting, and some fish are hiding.&rdquo;</p><p>So before they blast out any phone calls, pollsters spend big money on demographic data to learn as much as they can about voters, based on where they live: whether they rent or own, whether they have health insurance or enjoy going to the movies.</p><p>After the poll, they run their results through a complex math equation to account for the inevitable imperfections in the sample. This process, called weighting, accounts for the over- or underrepresentation of certain folks who happened to answer the phone.</p><p>But the trophy for campaigns is not the horse-race number they may release to the public. It&rsquo;s the drilled-down data the rest of us usually don&rsquo;t get to see - the stuff that&rsquo;s used to craft the all-important campaign message.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not about telling a voter something you want them to know. It&rsquo;s about reminding them about something they already know,&rdquo; Bowen said.</p><p>For example: In 2009, Bowen was running the congressional campaign for County Commissioner Mike Quigley, when he saw some surprising poll numbers.</p><p>They showed voters didn&rsquo;t really recognize Quigley by name, but they did recognize County Board President Todd Stroger - and they didn&rsquo;t like him.</p><p>So Bowen <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYDJ_z7TKk8">put together an ad</a> that touts Quigley as someone who had been &ldquo;taking on&rdquo; Stroger and his unpopular penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/tYDJ_z7TKk8?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;One thing you&rsquo;ll notice about that ad, besides the fact that Todd Stroger was right in the front of it, was that Mike Quigley&rsquo;s name was used six times,&rdquo; Bowen said. &ldquo;So in order to stand out, this was sort of what the poll told us to run.&rdquo;</p><p>Quigley won handily. But sometimes, winning means knowing what not to talk about.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>&lsquo;Explaining is losing&rsquo;</strong></span></p><p>Democratic Campaign strategist Terrie Pickerill recalls a race where her candidate (she declined to name them) was late in paying property taxes, but the opponent had some ethical problems of his own. So she polled to see which would hurt more.</p><p>&ldquo;People just didn&rsquo;t care as much about just paying property taxes on time, but they really cared that this guy had ethical issues,&rdquo; Pickerill recalled.</p><p>So when her client was attacked over the property tax thing - and wanted to explain it by holding a press conference - she told them to stay quiet.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like, &lsquo;Look at the poll!&rsquo; This is much worse for him than it is for us,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Explaining is losing, so what we wanna do is say, the real issue is his ethics.&rdquo;</p><p>But there are also ethical issues for the pollsters, says Jason McGrath, a Democratic pollster who&rsquo;s worked for Chicago Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Richard M. Daley, among others.</p><p>&ldquo;Good pollsters don&rsquo;t tell a candidate what to say,&rdquo; McGrath said. &ldquo;The political graveyard is scattered with failed candidates who try to be something they weren&rsquo;t. And it&rsquo;s not in our interest to use a poll to tell somebody to be something they&rsquo;re not.&rdquo;</p><p>McGrath says voters can sense when candidates are faking it. And dishonesty &nbsp;doesn&rsquo;t poll very well.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe"><em>Alex Keefe</em></a><em> is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics"><em>Twitter</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028"><em>Google+</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Thu, 04 Sep 2014 07:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/polling-how-campaigns-get-message-110746 Changing political history, in a closet near you http://www.wbez.org/news/changing-political-history-closet-near-you-110738 <p><p>Think of radio and TV campaign ads as the soundtrack of an election season: Deep and ominous voices sound the attack, while sugary and optimistic tones signal support for a candidate. &nbsp;</p><p>As part of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/digging-political-dirt-thats-their-job-110731">WBEZ&rsquo;s series on the &ldquo;dark arts&rdquo; of the campaign business</a>, we&rsquo;ll meet the people behind the voices trained to influence our democratic process.</p><p>As it turns out, some of the most famous political ads in recent American history may have been voiced in a closet near you.</p><p>&ldquo;When I do voices for CBS Morning News or CBS Evening News or for Subway or for political campaigns or for anybody, I do them out of my closet here in the house,&rdquo; Norm Woodel, a veteran Chicago-based voice-over artist, told me during a recent visit to his Lakeview home.</p><p>The closet is lined with heavy, velvet drapes to soak up any echos - and a high-end super-sensitive microphone. Woodel is 64 and portly, wearing a gray polo, camo shorts and sandals.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>This is where the magic happens</strong></span></p><p>In 2008, Woodel used this closet to voice <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kddX7LqgCvc">the famous &ldquo;3 a.m.&rdquo; ad</a> during Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s Democratic primary run against then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. Clinton&rsquo;s campaign ran it to underscore this idea that she was seasoned, reliable - and to suggest Obama was not.</p><p>Just hours after the ad ran - 1.6 miles away from Woodel&rsquo;s closet - another Chicago voice-over artist got a phone call of his own in his home studio, and the voice on the other end of the line was frantic.</p><p>Bill Price was getting an earful from his client - Barack Obama&rsquo;s presidential campaign - saying they had to respond to the Clinton ad immediately.</p><p>&ldquo;So we literally had 20 minutes for me to do a commercial, right here,&rdquo; Price told me recently as we sat in a small bedroom he&rsquo;s converted to a home studio. &ldquo;And they wanted it on the air for the evening news cycle.&rdquo;</p><p>These dueling ads epitomized the experience versus change narrative in the Democratic primaries. Pundits gobbled this up; &ldquo;Saturday Night Live&rdquo; even <a href="https://screen.yahoo.com/amy-poehler-snl-skits/3am-phone-call-000000995.html">did a parody</a> of the ad.</p><p>Such are the big political discussions ignited, in part, by the power of a human voice. The men and women behind those voices aren&rsquo;t just people who read stuff into a microphone.</p><p>They think of themselves as actors - artists - who use their voices like instruments to manipulate your emotions - which, in turn, can influence your vote.</p><p>And during election years, they don&rsquo;t sleep much.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Norm-Woodel---WBEZ-Alex-Keefe-crop.jpg" style="height: 406px; width: 290px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: right;" title="Voice-over artist Norm Woodel poses inside the closet-turned-home studio in Lakeview where he has read political ads for politicians such as Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. (WBEZ/Alex Keefe)" /><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>&lsquo;You have no life&rsquo;</strong></span></p><p>&ldquo;When you&rsquo;re doing voice-over work, it&rsquo;s almost as though you have no life, when you&rsquo;re doing political campaigns,&rdquo; said Wanda Christine Hudson, who has been doing voice-over work for more than four decades.</p><p>Wanda Christine - as she&rsquo;s known professionally - says working campaigns is a lot different than her usual commercial or video game voice-over gigs: Political season means abruptly cancelled lunch plans, sleeping by your phone and voicing ads in the dead of night.</p><p>But she says she likes the fast pace, the fickle campaign staffers, the challenge of using her full palette.</p><p>&ldquo;Because maybe the candidate didn&rsquo;t like that word, or maybe their campaign manager thought, maybe we want more smile in her voice, or maybe we want it to sound a little bit more serious, or maybe we want her to sound younger, or maybe we just want her to sound natural,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Those vocal acrobatics may sound easy to perform. But imagine having to talk like this on demand, with short notice - on a tight deadline.</p><p>Woodel, the 3.a.m. phone call guy, will say a little phrase to himself to get the right tone - he calls it a &ldquo;ramp.&rdquo;</p><p>To psych himself for tracking NFL commercials, he says to himself: &ldquo;To the men on the field it&rsquo;s a battle,&rdquo; then edits out those words.</p><p>When he had a hard time finding the right tough tone for a Chevy Silverado commercial, he used a ramp at the end: &ldquo;&lsquo;The most dependable, longest-lasting trucks on the road, asswipe.&rsquo; Just thinking that half-cuss word we put on the end, as a &lsquo;guy talk&rsquo; kinda thing, would get you to the toughness you need,&rdquo; he explained.</p><p>But sometimes finding your voice takes more than just a little ramp. When Bill Price was voicing political ads for Obama&rsquo;s 2008 campaign, he invented this whole character.</p><p>&ldquo;[It was] like being the doctor who walks in the room, and there&rsquo;s parents there, and they&rsquo;re distraught &lsquo;cause their kid&rsquo;s really sick and think he&rsquo;s maybe gonna die,&rdquo; Price recalls. &ldquo;And then you&rsquo;re the doctor that gets to say, &lsquo;There&rsquo;s one last hope.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>For Wanda Christine - a black woman in a business where she says there aren&rsquo;t many - there&rsquo;s also personal history in her political voiceovers.</p><p>&ldquo;My great-grandmother was not allowed to vote,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;My grandmother was not allowed to vote. Um, so I think about the things that they had to do to try to make a difference so that I could vote. That means something to me. And because it means something to me...I want it to mean something to whoever is making that decision based upon my voice.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Words as power</strong></span></p><p>The messages in these political ads - individual words, even - have been poll-tested and focus-grouped to find out which will hit you - the voter - in the most personal way possible.</p><p>Wanda Christine says it&rsquo;s also personal for many voice-over artists. She says she&rsquo;ll only do voice-over work for one party, though she wouldn&rsquo;t disclose which one. But the folks behind the other two voices we&rsquo;ve heard in this story made a personal political choice only to read for Democrats.</p><p>Bill Price thinks he just sounds more Democratic.</p><p>&ldquo;I think within my voice is more [about] second chances and hope and...even small miracles...than it is about justice,&rdquo; Price said. &ldquo;Maybe that&rsquo;s more of a Republican thing. I&rsquo;m more sentimental.&rdquo;</p><p>And for Norm Woodel, there is a bit of a gee-whiz factor.</p><p>&ldquo;After the President of the United States of America says, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m Barack Obama and I approve this message,&rsquo; I come on,&rdquo; Woodel said. &ldquo;Isn&rsquo;t that wonderful?&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe"><em>Alex Keefe</em></a><em> is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics"><em>Twitter</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028"><em>Google+</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 07:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/changing-political-history-closet-near-you-110738 Digging up political dirt? That's their job http://www.wbez.org/news/digging-political-dirt-thats-their-job-110731 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/165886306&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Brace yourself, citizens: September is the unofficial start of campaign season.</p><p>You&rsquo;re about to be spun by dueling poll numbers, attack ads and conflicting messages in multiple guises.</p><p>This week, WBEZ is taking you behind the scenes to meet the practitioners of politics&rsquo; dark arts - the folks whose job it is to craft the messages and media that bombard voters during election years.</p><p>Often, this work begins with opposition research - or &ldquo;oppo,&rdquo; as it&rsquo;s known to politicos.</p><p>Oppo researchers are a low-profile group of men and women whose job it is to dig up dirt on the other guy - and on their own clients.</p><p>This year&rsquo;s contentious Illinois&rsquo; governor&rsquo;s race has spawned a rare living, breathing example of opposition research at work: Quinnocchio, a hybrid caricature dreamed up by Republican Bruce Rauner&rsquo;s campaign.</p><p>Quinnocchio is an unnamed Rauner staffer: part Governor Quinn, with his balding gray wig; part cartoon Pinocchio, with royal blue lederhosen and a long, fake nose.</p><p>His job is to hound Gov. Quinn at public events to accuse him of lying about various policies.</p><p>(Rauner&rsquo;s campaign declined to name the staffer, and when confronted at a recent press conference, he only gave his name as Quinnocchio and declined to answer further questions.)</p><p>Quinnocchio is opposition research embodied.</p><p>It&rsquo;s the job of opposition researchers to unearth the facts that back up these kinds of attacks - all those embarrassing quotes or regrettable votes your political opponent won&rsquo;t let you forget. The researchers are often ex-political operatives, lawyers or former journalists.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Quinnochio-WBEZ-Alex-Keefe.jpg" style="height: 321px; width: 250px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: right;" title="'Quinnocchio,' an invention of Republican Bruce Rauner’s campaign to hound Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn at public events, is a living example of opposition research at work. (Alex Keefe/WBEZ)" /><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Sexy and seamy? Not so much</span></strong></p><p>And if this all sounds like seamy, dumpster-diving, meet-me-in-the-parking-garage kinda work - think again.</p><p>&ldquo;What I do is not very sexy,&rdquo; said Brett Di Resta a Democratic opposition researcher based in Washington, D.C. &ldquo;If you want the limelight, I would say that this career is not the one to choose.&rdquo;</p><p>Di Resta considers himself less a &ldquo;ninja character assassin&rdquo; and more of a librarian. Instead of hunting down secret mistresses, he spends his days at a computer, poring over public records: court documents, property tax filings, campaign finance disclosures and thousands upon thousands of news articles.</p><p>&ldquo;When you see an attack ad...and they say someone voted to raise taxes 21 times, someone has to figure out what those 21 times are, and that someone is me,&rdquo; Di Resta explains.</p><p>Di Resta says about half his job is actually researching the candidates he&rsquo;s working for - looking for vulnerabilities to head off future attacks. All of this information is then organized, prioritized, fact-checked, sourced and condensed into an internal campaign document that usually never meets the public eye - a document oppo researchers simply call &ldquo;the book.&rdquo;</p><p>Recently, Republican opposition researcher John Pearman flipped through a hefty red binder, some 170 pages thick. This was the book - actually, one of several - that he and his partner, GOP strategist Dan Curry, put together while working for Republican Jim Ryan&rsquo;s gubernatorial campaign in 2002.</p><p>The target: Democrat Rod Blagojevich, the former governor now in prison for corruption.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve done opposition research for 25 years. Maybe there&rsquo;s one other individual that we&rsquo;ve done research on that was as rich as this one, but this was - everywhere you looked, there was something,&rdquo; Pearman said.</p><p>Pearman said people called him all the time with Blagojevich dirt - even people who worked for Blagojevich. The fish were jumping into the boat.</p><p>One common thread that emerged from Curry&rsquo;s and Pearman&rsquo;s tips and research: Blagojevich&rsquo;s alleged ties to organized crime figures - a connection the men thought would be devastating to Democrats if only they could prove it.</p><p>So in the fall of 2002, with his candidate low on money and behind in the polls, Pearman holed himself up in a warehouse near Midway Airport along with boxes upon boxes of court documents from federal mob cases, looking for some scrap of confirmation to convince news outlets to run the story.</p><p>Pearman said he spent six days reading through legal documents, watched over by a guard.</p><p>&ldquo;And not one mention of Blagojevich by name,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Desperate, Pearman actually tracked down one of the mob figures and went to confront the guy at his kid&rsquo;s football practice, to ask him in person about whether he&rsquo;d worked with Blagojevich.</p><p>It did not go well.</p><p>&ldquo;&lsquo;Get the expletive away from me. I better not see you again,&rsquo;&rdquo; Pearman said, recalling the encounter. &ldquo;Obviously we never got a second source on it and nobody ever did the story.&rdquo;</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Seeking the silver bullet</span></strong></p><p>Pearman acknowledges he was going after a silver bullet in an industry where small, repeated attacks against a candidate are usually more effective. Opposition researchers say those silver bullets are rare, though many pointed to one example that worked all too well.</p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDsE20pZIpg">This attack ad</a> from the 2002 Montana U-S Senate race features the Republican challenger - a guy named Mike Taylor - sporting a leisure suit, shirt unbuttoned, massaging lotion into another man&rsquo;s cheekbones.</p><p>An oppo researcher exhumed the video from these late night TV ads Taylor ran for his cosmetics company in the 1980s. Democrats then found a soundtrack that could have come out from Behind the Green Door and they ran with it. The ad closes with the phrase: &ldquo;Mike Taylor: Not the way we do business in Montana.&rdquo;</p><p>The voiceover in the ad attacks Taylor&rsquo;s company for running into trouble with its student loan process. But focusing on the video, critics nationwide pounced at the ad for suggesting Taylor - a married man - was gay. Whatever the message, it seemed to work: Taylor <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/11/us/montana-candidate-citing-smear-campaign-ends-senate-bid.html">decried the ad</a> but dropped out of the race less than a week later.</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t win races by just telling people what a wonderful person you are,&rdquo; said Dennis Gragert, a veteran Democratic opposition researcher based in Chicago.</p><p>Gragert and several other opposition researchers say they abide by the rules and ethics of what&rsquo;s fair game. Most important, they say attacks against a candidate must be verifiably true, and they can&rsquo;t be too personal or you could face a backlash, like with the hairdresser ad. Every oppo researcher contacted for this story said they had turned down work that required &nbsp;them to dig up information about an opponent they thought was too personal.</p><p>All in all, the opposition researchers who spoke with WBEZ say they sleep just fine at night, because all those negative ads actually work, even if voters say they hate them.</p><p>Still, even Gragert does betray a moment of empathy.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes I think about, if that was me on the other end, would I like that?&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;All right, that&rsquo;s not for me to like, it is - it is reality. It&rsquo;s not something where you say, well that shouldn&rsquo;t be the case. That is the case.&rdquo;</p><p>As it should be, Gragert said, in any peaceful republic where political contests are settled not with revolutions, but with words.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe">Alex Keefe</a>&nbsp;is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028">Google+</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 07:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/digging-political-dirt-thats-their-job-110731 Cycling through World War I http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-07-31/cycling-through-world-war-i-110586 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/WWI-18.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WBEZ reporter Alex Keefe took a cycling trip through prominent sites from World War I.</p></p> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-07-31/cycling-through-world-war-i-110586 Lessons from the battlefields of World War I http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-07-31/lessons-battlefields-world-war-i-110585 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/WWITrenchCambrai.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This week is the centennial of the beginning of World War I. We&#39;ll reflect on the impact of the war with Adam Hochschild, author of &quot;To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918,&quot; and WBEZ&#39;s Alex Keefe, who just back from a tour of WWI battlefield sites.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-remembering-wwi/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-remembering-wwi.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-remembering-wwi" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Lessons from the battlefields of World War I" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-07-31/lessons-battlefields-world-war-i-110585 Mayors blast pension fix for cops, firefighters http://www.wbez.org/news/mayors-blast-pension-fix-cops-firefighters-110227 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_matt Turner_springfield_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A group of mayors and municipal groups from across Illinois is deriding an influential lawmakers&rsquo; blueprint for stabilizing their police and fire pension funds, some of which are teetering on the brink of insolvency.</p><p>The Pension Fairness for Illinois Communities Coalition, which comprises nearly 100 mayors and municipal groups, released a statement Thursday night claiming the package from State Sen. Terry Link risks leaving their pension funds in even worse financial shape.</p><p>&ldquo;This proposal is not an &lsquo;agreement&rsquo; that brings comprehensive and long-term solutions, but merely window dressing that covers up the real impact on taxpayers and allows the unsustainable public safety pension crisis to continue to spiral out of control,&rdquo; the statement reads.</p><p>Link, a Waukegan Democrat, outlined several proposals to municipal leaders and police and fire lobbyists this week that he said would provide stability to more than 600 public safety pension funds outside of Chicago. Altogether, those funds are projected to be underfunded by at least $8.4 billion.</p><p>Link has not yet introduced his proposals in bill form, and it&rsquo;s unclear whether he will before lawmakers head home for the summer at the end of next week. But the blueprint he outlined during a closed-door meeting, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/springfield-nears-pension-deal-downstate-cops-firefighters-110219" target="_blank">first reported by WBEZ</a>, would ease restrictions on how and where pension funds can invest their money, with the goal of allowing them to earn more in the stock market.</p><p>Link also wants to rejigger the makeup of the hundreds of five-member boards that govern public safety pension funds, and he aims to give smaller funds more investment power by allowing them to pool their money.</p><p>But it&rsquo;s Link&rsquo;s call for a five-year moratorium on further pension changes that would spell doom for the grander hopes of suburban and downstate mayors.&nbsp; They&rsquo;ve been calling for a cut to the three percent compounding annual pension benefit increases given to cops and firefighters, higher retirement ages, more contributions from workers and scaled back &ldquo;pension sweeteners&rdquo; - their term for benefit enhancements that state lawmakers have approved over the years.</p><p>To that end, Link&rsquo;s blueprint merely &ldquo;nibbles around the edges,&rdquo; said Mark Fowler, executive director of the Northwest Municipal Conference, which lobbies for dozens of northwest suburbs.</p><p>&ldquo;If you put a moratorium in on addressing any pension sweeteners or pension changes, you&rsquo;re five years down the road...[and] the problem continues to spiral out of control and you&rsquo;ve got pensions in Illinois that will not be able to pay out benefits,&rdquo; Fowler said.</p><p>Mayors around Illinois have been lobbying for years to have police and fire pension benefits reduced, but their efforts seemed to be gaining some traction this year, after state lawmakers <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/legislature-passes-historic-pension-vote-109287" target="_blank">overhauled pensions</a> for state workers and for <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-emanuel%E2%80%99s-pension-plan-headed-governor-109989" target="_blank">some in Chicago</a>. Towns across Illinois complain that ever-rising state-mandated pension contributions are <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-suburbs-grapple-their-own-pension-crisis-110166" target="_blank">crowding core services out of their budgets</a>, while they watch the health of many pension funds continue to decline.</p><p>While the coalition blames benefit enhancements for their skyrocketing pension costs, unions and some actuaries claim the spike comes courtesy of a decades-old funding mechanism that backloads pension contributions.</p><p>Link has suggested he won&rsquo;t go for the type of benefit cuts included in other recent pension laws because he believes they violate a clause in the state&rsquo;s constitution that says pension benefits &ldquo;shall not be diminished.&rdquo; The controversial new state pension law is now on hold, pending the outcome of several court challenges.</p><p>But Fowler said that shouldn&rsquo;t stop pension reform for downstate police and fire funds.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t quite understand why those were constitutional decisions or those were proposals that passed the muster of the General Assembly, yet we&rsquo;re not allowed to even present those proposals,&rdquo; Fowler said.</p><p>Representatives for downstate police and fire pension funds did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Senator Link has not returned several phone calls from WBEZ.</p><p>But earlier this week, Link said he may officially introduce his pension changes &ldquo;fairly soon.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And I think that this is something that everybody agrees on,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-ece037e0-2a71-69d8-b578-db2facad95ff"><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe">Alex Keefe</a> is 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>.</em></p></p> Fri, 23 May 2014 13:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/mayors-blast-pension-fix-cops-firefighters-110227 Emanuel skeptical of teachers union pension plan http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-skeptical-teachers-union-pension-plan-110148 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Rahm-crop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration is swatting down key aspects of the Chicago Teachers Union&rsquo;s proposal to shore up the ailing pension fund for city teachers.</p><p>On Tuesday, Emanuel suggested a proposed tax on financial transactions would hurt the big Chicago-based financial exchanges like the Chicago Board Options exchange and CME Group, which owns the Chicago Board of Trade and other exchanges. The Chicago Teachers union is pushing what it calls a &ldquo;LaSalle Street tax&rdquo; on futures and derivatives trades. CTU estimates it could reap $10 billion to $12 billion a year.</p><p>But Emanuel seemed to dismiss that idea when asked about it Tuesday.</p><p>&ldquo;Years ago, people referred to &lsquo;Lasalle Street&rsquo; because it was a financial center, and Chicago had a lotta banks that were...Chicago-based. There&rsquo;s only one left. They&rsquo;re all gone.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel also suggested a financial transaction tax might hurt the city&rsquo;s thriving futures and options industry.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a place where Chicago&rsquo;s still, economically, a dominant player,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;And there&rsquo;s more competition.&rdquo;</p><p>The transaction tax was just one part of the Chicago Teachers Union&rsquo;s pension plan, first reported last week by WBEZ. The union wants to borrow $5 billion to help shore up the underfunded Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. Right now, the fund only has about half the money it would need to pay out in future benefits, for about $9 billion in projected future pension debt.</p><p>The union&rsquo;s plan would pay for the borrowing with several new streams of revenue. In addition to the transaction tax, the teachers would also impose a &ldquo;commuter tax&rdquo; on people who work in the city but live elsewhere. Union officials also propose extending the life of the city&rsquo;s tax increment financing districts, or TIFs, which divert tax money into economic development projects. The union would use the extra money generated during the life of the TIFs to pay for their proposed borrowing.</p><p>But Emanuel&rsquo;s administration is giving those ideas a chilly reception, raising questions about whether the two sides can reach any sort of compromise on pensions before next year. In 2015, Chicago Public Schools&rsquo; state-mandated payment into its teachers pension fund will jump to $613 million - a roughly $400 million spike - after three years of making reduced payments into the fund.</p><p>Emanuel didn&rsquo;t directly address the question of a tax on commuters, but mayoral spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said City Hall doesn&rsquo;t have the authority to levy such a tax.</p><p>&ldquo;It would be unconstitutional under the Federal constitution for commuters living out of state, such as Indiana and Wisconsin,&rdquo; Quinn said via email. &ldquo;It would also be unconstitutional under the Illinois constitution as to Illinois commuters.&rdquo;</p><p>Additionally, Emanuel said a financial transaction tax would first require approval from both state lawmakers and federal regulators.</p><p>Emanuel has said repeatedly that he wants pension negotiations to focus on &ldquo;reform before revenue,&rdquo; which some critics have interpreted as referring to the<a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fnews%2Fmayor-emanuel%25E2%2580%2599s-pension-plan-headed-governor-109989&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEkaheRa-XzrnvOzy_rLdgFgfy0EA"> type of benefit cuts the mayor</a> has pushed for the city&rsquo;s laborers and municipal workers. But Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, a vociferous adversary of Emanuel&rsquo;s, has said tackling benefit changes first without new revenue streams in place would be like &ldquo;cutting our own throats.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fusers%2Fakeefe&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHCooL3ruU-DUyQdnHprdBP25WItg">Alex Keefe</a> is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2FWBEZpolitics&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNE7HeV8c3K0gV2LF_GODmIGo6nkkg">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028">Google+</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 07 May 2014 15:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-skeptical-teachers-union-pension-plan-110148 Chicago aldermen crack down on plastic bags, pedicabs http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-aldermen-crack-down-plastic-bags-pedicabs-110113 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Plastic bag FILE - AP_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Grocery shoppers and pedicab drivers alike will feel the effects of tougher regulations approved Wednesday by Chicago&rsquo;s City Council.</p><p>Aldermen, by a vote of 36 to 10, gave final approval to a partial ban on plastic carryout bags. Several aldermen abstained.</p><p>The partial ban, championed for years by 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno, had been pitched as an environmentally friendly measure meant to reduce the number of bags stuck in trees and snagged on chain link fences.</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t be a &lsquo;City in the Garden&rsquo; and have a set of policies that actually hurt the environment,&rdquo; said Mayor Rahm Emanuel after Wednesday&rsquo;s vote, echoing Chicago&rsquo;s city motto.</p><p>Under the new law, both franchise retailers and groups of three or more chain stores will no longer be allowed to hand out plastic bags to customers. Retailers must also provide or sell recyclable paper bags, reusable bags or compostable plastic bags as an alternative.</p><p>In response to concerns from some aldermen and business groups, the ordinance exempts owners of independent shops from having to ditch their plastic bags. All restaurants are also exempt.</p><p>Moreno had originally pushed for an outright ban on plastic bags, and he has said he hopes to tighten restrictions further once a partial ban is in place. Some business groups, including the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, bemoaned the ban, saying paper bags cost three times as much as plastic ones.</p><p>The Washington, D.C.-based American Progressive Bag Alliance lobbied against the ordinance, saying it would cost plastic bag manufacturing jobs in Chicago.</p><p>Fifth Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston said she was voting against the bag ban because she worries it will increase costs for grocers, arming them with a new excuse not to open shop in her South Shore neighborhood, which already suffers from a dearth of grocery stores.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m watching my community go to hell in a handbasket while rich communities debate plastic bags,&rdquo; Hairston said during Wednesday&rsquo;s debate.</p><p>&ldquo;Why would I support an ordinance that limits the food choices I get to make based on the type of bag I get to use?&rdquo; Hairston said. &ldquo;Right now, the type of bag I use really doesn&rsquo;t matter because I can&rsquo;t buy groceries to put them in. If I voted for this ordinance, where would I bring my bags to shop in my community?&rdquo;</p><p>Big chain stores - larger than 10,000 square feet - have until August 2015 get rid of their plastic bags. Stores smaller than that have until August 2016.</p><p><strong>Chicago&rsquo;s first pedicab regulations</strong></p><p>Also on Wednesday, aldermen approved the city&rsquo;s first-ever regulations on so-called &ldquo;pedicabs.&rdquo;</p><p>The new restrictions come just in time for warmer spring weather, when the tricycle rickshaw taxis can be seen ferrying passengers to and from baseball games and downtown tourist hotspots.</p><p>After years of operating in a <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fnews%2Fno-rules-road-chicago%25E2%2580%2599s-pedicabs-thrive-106557&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNFsBfWvdKL2fvg5iDZx9d_j4alTbw">legal grey area</a>, the new ordinance imposes restrictions on how, where and when pedicab operators can peddle their trade. It requires operators to get a city-issued $250 license for each pedicab, and drivers to get a $25 &ldquo;chauffeur&rdquo; license. Pedicab owners must also buy insurance and they post fare their schedules.</p><p>Some in Chicago&rsquo;s pedicab industry have lauded the move toward some regulations. But other restrictions have drawn protests from pedicab drivers who worry their industry will take a hit.</p><p>The ordinance caps the number of pedicab licenses at 200 citywide. In an effort to cut down on congestion, it also bans all pedicabs from riding through part of the Loop during rush hour. They also would be banned entirely from riding on Michigan Avenue and State Street, between Congress Parkway and Oak Street.</p><p>&ldquo;Ninety percent of my time is spent down here in the restricted [area],&rdquo; said operator Antonio Bustamante, who said he spends 50 to 60 hours a week operating one of the two pedicabs he owns. Bustamante and a handful of other drivers parked their pedicabs on the sidewalk along LaSalle Street outside City Hall after Wednesday&#39;s vote, protesting what they see as an unfair restriction on their industry.</p><p>&ldquo;I need to look for another job,&rdquo; Bustamante said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll have to sell both of my cabs and move on to something else, which is ridiculous. It&rsquo;s very upsetting that this is where we are.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Pet coke ban in place, but Southeast residents aren&rsquo;t exactly cheering</strong></p><p>The Chicago City Council passed an ordinance today that places stricter restrictions on the storage of a product known as pet coke.</p><p>Pet coke is stored in large quantities on Chicago&rsquo;s Southeast side where it arrives by the train load from the nearby BP Refinery in Whiting, Indiana.</p><p>Since last summer, residents have pushed loudly for an all out ban, believing it makes them ill when it becomes airborne.</p><p>It appeared that the mayor and others agreed but political support for a ban waned in recent months. 10th Ward Alderman John Pope says a ban isn&rsquo;t legal.<br /><br />&ldquo;Obviously, there&rsquo;s concerns and desires from pretty much everyone to have a ban but legally that&rsquo;s almost impossible,&rdquo; Pope said. &ldquo;So, the next best recourse is I think what we&rsquo;re doing: Making any new uses impossible and limiting to the three existing operators. It does a lot.&rdquo;</p><p>The largest handler of pet coke, KCBX Terminals Inc., which is owned by the wealthy Koch Brothers,, says its already invested millions in a dust-suppression system so the pet coke doesn&rsquo;t blow away.</p><p>Residents worry that the new law only regulates the storage of pet coke and may invite companies who want to use the product for other uses, such as converting pet coke, considered an energy source, into diesel fuel. Residents, working with national environmental groups, say will continue to push for an all-out ban.</p><p>&ldquo;It is thoroughly unacceptable for these piles to sit just a few hundred yards from people&rsquo;s houses,&rdquo; said Southeast Environmental Task Force executive director Peggy Salazar said in a statement. &ldquo;People are complaining about finding dust from these sites inside their homes. Black dust is coating their houses and probably their lungs. This has to stop.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, Henry Henderson, Midwest Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, says the City Council is moving in the right direction but more needs to be done.</p><p>&ldquo;The City is to be commended for attacking the petcoke problem, but a lot more has to be done before Chicagoans who live near sites where petroleum coke and coal have been mounded by their homes, schools and parks can feel safe,&rdquo; Henderson said in a statement. &ldquo;The Mayor has been very public in his desire to push this dirty stuff out of Chicago. Given the City&rsquo;s multi-pronged approach today&rsquo;s vote is a step forward, but we need ongoing, concerted effort and enforcement to achieve Emanuel&rsquo;s goal.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Deferral of rideshare vote</strong></p><p>Council members deferred a vote on a set of regulations for controversial ridesharing services until Springfield legislators have a chance to consider state rules for the new industry. Alderman John Arena (45th) asked to &ldquo;defer and publish&rdquo; the <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Fsoundcloud.com%2Fmorningshiftwbez%2Frideshare-ordinance-passes%3Futm_source%3Dsoundcloud%26utm_campaign%3Dshare%26utm_medium%3Dfacebook&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNF3255bBLHeonjfuX7UqqFrXfN5tg">mayor&rsquo;s proposed ordinance</a>, with the backing of Aldermen Anthony Beale (9th), Ricardo Munoz (22nd) and Roderick Sawyer (6th). The parliamentary move requires the support of only two aldermen.</p><p>&ldquo;This was clearly an effort to protect taxi owners from competition and preserve the existing taxi monopoly,&rdquo; said Uber Midwest Regional Director Andrew MacDonald, in a statement released to the media. Uber and Lyft, the two largest ridesharing services in Chicago, favored the proposed regulations. The companies provide smartphone applications to help people use their personal cars for hire.</p><p>Scores of Chicago cab drivers gathered in the lobby outside Council Chambers, and let out a big cheer immediately following the deferral. But they still remained uncertain of what city council might do when they reconsider the issue. The drivers also remain concerned about how ridesharing services have cut into their industry.</p><p>&ldquo;Can they still operate as they have been in the past and make money (and) interfere with our money?&rdquo; asked one driver, who floated the idea of a taxi driver strike. Organizers from the American Federation of State, County &amp; Municipal Employees told them they would do better to focus their efforts on organizing and lobbying aldermen.</p><p>State legislators are expected to consider a <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fnews%2Fillinois-house-moves-rein-ridesharing-110011&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNExxaXHMc-BPpJ5R6hPiTbjx9cmiQ">much stricter set of standards</a> in the Senate for the ridesharing industry in May.</p><p><em>Alex Keefe is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2FWBEZpolitics&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNE7HeV8c3K0gV2LF_GODmIGo6nkkg">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028">Google+</a>.</em></p><p><em>Michael Puente contributed to this report. You can follow him on Twitter @<a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p><p><em>Odette Yousef contributed to this report. You can follow her at <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Foyousef&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHKQ6bayggMubwgs9U53FsOML-b9A">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2FWBEZoutloud&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGciFiqidUKx7xm655BDbaPU9eB3g">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 30 Apr 2014 16:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-aldermen-crack-down-plastic-bags-pedicabs-110113 Feds seek arrest of former Emanuel aide http://www.wbez.org/news/feds-seek-arrest-former-emanuel-aide-110076 <p><p>Federal marshals in Ohio issued an arrest warrant on Friday to a former top financial aide to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>The U.S. Marshal&rsquo;s service issued the warrant for ex-city comptroller Amer Ahmad Friday morning, said Deputy U.S. Marshal Andrew Shadwick. In December, Ahmad pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and bribery charges stemming from his time as Deputy Treasurer for the State of Ohio.</p><p>The feds want to arrest Ahmad for violating the terms of his bail, Shadwick said, but he would not release further details. Ohio Federal Judge Michael H. Watson ruled Friday that he would not unseal the contents of the arrest warrant.</p><p>Ahmad&rsquo;s lawyer, Karl Schneider, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.</p><p>Following his guilty plea in late December, Ahmad and his family had continued living in Chicago.</p><p>Prosecutors say Ahmad abused his position in Ohio state government to steer lucrative state investment contracts to a former high school classmate who had gone on to work as a securities broker. As part of the scheme, the government says the broker, Douglas E. Hampton, funneled more than $500,000 to Ahmad and some co-conspirators via phony loans and a landscaping company that Ahmad partly controlled.</p><p>Ahmad has not been charged with any wrongdoing relating to his tenure as Chicago&rsquo;s comptroller, from May of 2011 to July of 2013.</p><p>Ahmad has not yet been sentenced, but could face up to 15 years in prison. As part of his plea agreement, he&rsquo;s agreed to pay more than $3.2 million in restitution.</p><p>A spokeswoman for Emanuel, Sarah Hamilton, declined to comment on news of warrant. The Chicago Police Department did not have an immediate comment Friday morning.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fusers%2Fakeefe&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHCooL3ruU-DUyQdnHprdBP25WItg">Alex Keefe</a> is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2FWBEZpolitics&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNE7HeV8c3K0gV2LF_GODmIGo6nkkg">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028">Google+</a>.</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 25 Apr 2014 11:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/feds-seek-arrest-former-emanuel-aide-110076