WBEZ | Pat O'Connor http://www.wbez.org/tags/pat-oconnor Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Amid parliamentary maneuvering, Chicago aldermen approve new ward map http://www.wbez.org/story/amid-parliamentary-maneuvering-chicago-aldermen-approve-new-ward-map-95658 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-19/WardRemap_from_PDF.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at 6:15 p.m. </em></p><p>Chicago aldermen Thursday voted to set new boundaries for the city's wards. A compromise map won support from 41 out of 50 aldermen, a lopsided enough vote to ensure there will not be a referendum where voters would pick between competing maps.</p><p><strong>Click Below for an interactive version of approved ward map:</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/no-sidebar/approved-ward-map-95662"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-19/ward%20map.jpg.crop_display.jpg" style="margin-right: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; float: left; width: 350px; height: 291px;"></a></p><p>After months of negotiations, the final plan won at least begrudging support from leaders of both the Latino and Black caucuses.</p><p>"I don't even like to change a map in my house, let alone change a major step like we had to do," Ald. Dick Mell (33rd), chairman of the Rules Committee and chief sponsor of the map, told his colleagues before the vote.</p><p>Among the most glaring changes from the current map: Ald. Bob Fioretti's 2nd ward on the South and West Sides was relocated to the North Side.</p><p>"This map divides up communities. It divides up parishes. It divides up areas of interest," Fioretti complained Thursday.</p><p>Fioretti tried to use a parliamentary maneuver to delay the vote, but was thwarted when Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his allies used a different parliamentary maneuver.</p><p>The map "hasn't been rushed in any way shape or form," Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), Emanuel's floor leader, said in defense of the move. "This has been hundreds and hundreds of hours worth of meetings, and hundreds and hundreds of times staring at a computer and drawing boundaries. This isn't a rush. This has taken longer than the Sistine Chapel."</p><p>But 36th Ward Ald. Nick Sposato, who estimates 80 percent of his ward changes under the new boundaries, was outraged by the parliamentary tactic, calling it "borderline criminal."</p><p>The ordinance was still being printed more than an hour after a committee meeting was scheduled to start Thursday morning. Many aldermen got their first look at the final map shortly before the vote.</p><p>The threat of lawsuits remains, as some groups claim the map was really more about incumbent protection than anything else.</p><p>In addition the Fioretti and Sposato, the aldermen to vote against the map were Roderick Sawyer (6th), Michael Zalewski (23rd), Michael Chandler (24th), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Rey Colon (35th) and John Arena (45th). Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th) did not show up for the vote.</p><p><strong>AUDIO: </strong><em>WBEZ's Melba Lara talks with reporter Sam Hudzik about the council's approval of the ward map.</em></p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483855-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-january/2012-01-19/ward-remap-2way120119sh.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p></p> Thu, 19 Jan 2012 20:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/amid-parliamentary-maneuvering-chicago-aldermen-approve-new-ward-map-95658 Breakthrough on Chicago remap deal? http://www.wbez.org/story/breakthrough-chicago-remap-deal-95465 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-06/2Solis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The head of the Chicago City Council's Latino Caucus said on Wednesday that a deal is closer than ever before on the contentious re-drawing of ward boundaries. The possible breakthrough comes after a compromise offer was extended to break the stalemate.</p><p>Ald. Danny Solis (22nd), the Latino Caucus chair, said he got a call on Tuesday from Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), a Mayor Rahm Emanuel ally who's been closely involved in the mapping. Solis said the proposal includes much of a map drawn by the council's Black Caucus, but said it appears to roughly meet his demand that Hispanics get comfortable majorities in 13 wards.</p><p>Solis said he thinks his caucus would accept the compromise, if they're confident it would survive a lawsuit.</p><p>"We want...an expert to come in who has analyzed maps like this across the country - to come analyze and evaluate the map, and then tell us we would be avoiding that," Solis said.</p><p>The Latino Caucus next meets on Friday.</p><p>The new offer focused on the Southwest Side's 23rd ward. Now represented by a white alderman, Mike Zalewski, Hispanics would represent more than 60 percent of the voting age population under the new boundaries.</p><p>The Black Caucus chair, 21st Ward Ald. Howard Brookins, said he "absolutely" supports the compromise, and doesn't have a problem with Solis' demand for a legal review. Neither does O'Connor.</p><p>"It's always been anticipated that we would have some indication from a competent authority that [the final] map...is defensible," O'Connor said.</p><p>The council could vote on a map as early as its meeting on January 18th.</p><p>"I think [a vote then] is a real potential, but I'm not going to hurry the process through some sort of an artificial deadline," O'Connor said. "If it's not ready, it's not ready."</p><p>Public hearings on previously introduced map proposals begin Wednesday night, with a meeting in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Another is scheduled for Thursday in Bridgeport.</p></p> Wed, 11 Jan 2012 20:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/breakthrough-chicago-remap-deal-95465 City budget hearings begin today http://www.wbez.org/story/city-budget-hearings-begin-today-93237 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-18/RS2977_Pat O&#039;Connor-scr.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The City Council debate over Chicago's next budget begins Wednesday when aldermen start their questioning of Emanuel Administration officials.</p><p>It's the first of about a dozenCity Council hearings on Rahm Emanuel's first Chicago budget. To fill an estimated $636 million hole, the budget relies in part on new and increased fines, fees and taxes - but mostly on cuts, including some 500 layoffs.</p><p>Pat O'Connor, perhaps Emanuel's strongest ally on the council, said aldermen looking to make changes will have to come up with ways to pay for them.</p><p>"If you say, 'We don't want to do this,' and it's an item that gives us a $10 million savings, than replace it with a $10 million savings that you think makes more sense," O'Connor told WBEZ's <a href="http://www.wbez.org/eight-forty-eight/2011-10-13"><em>Eight Forty-Eight </em></a>last week.</p><p>Some aldermen have pushed back against a handful of Emanuel's cuts. The mayor's budget would give aldermen less control over garbage collection in their wards, and he wants to close three neighborhood police stations he says are outdated.</p><p>The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday in City Council chambers.</p></p> Wed, 19 Oct 2011 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/city-budget-hearings-begin-today-93237 Without debate, Emanuel's aldermanic leaders get the nod http://www.wbez.org/story/without-debate-emanuels-aldermanic-leaders-get-nod-86733 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/AP11020317600.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>There was some pomp but little substance as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel presided over his first city council meeting Wednesday.</p><p>Around 10 a.m., Rahm Emanuel took his place at the podium and called the meeting to order. Unlike Mayor Richard M. Daley, Emanuel stood through the entire meeting, listening as aldermen give speeches.</p><p>The council, which includes 13 new aldermen, gave him a gavel as a gift, and - without debate - approved Emanuel's picks to lead committees. Most key panels will be chaired by aldermen who were also leaders during the Daley years.</p><p>"It's not who sits on what committee [that matters]," Emanuel said in defense of his proposal. "It's what we do."</p><p>Emanuel's council reorganization plan reduced the number of committees from 19 down to 16. He recommended one of his early supporters, 40th Ward Ald. Pat O'Connor, to chair a new committee with oversight of some hot button issues: including pensions and labor contracts.</p><p>"I think everybody kind of got over the nervousness," O'Connor said of the new mayor's first council meeting. "And as we get deeper into the issues, they'll be a little bit more tense days, but this was a good day."</p><p>Those tense days will include debate on the new mayor's attempts to close a 2012 budget deficit estimated at more than a half-billion dollars. Emanuel said Wednesday he is looking to union leaders for help balancing the books.</p><p>"Now, I would like to deal with it and my starting point will be one of cooperation to bring the changes necessary," Emanuel told reporters after the meeting. "But we will get it done."</p><p>Emanuel also must address dozens of promises that he made on the campaign and during his transition - many of which will not be free. He wants to hire new police officers, extend Chicago's school day and add miles of bike lanes around the city.</p><p>Also Wednesday, the council passed a rule barring any former alderman convicted of a felony - and there are quite a few of them - from hanging out on the council floor.</p><p>"I think we all recognize that there's something unseemly about having a former member who was convicted of a crime being permitted within the bar of the chamber, as is the tradition in our rules," explained 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke.</p></p> Wed, 18 May 2011 21:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/without-debate-emanuels-aldermanic-leaders-get-nod-86733 Emanuel's City Council plans go before aldermen http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuels-city-council-plans-go-aldermen-86675 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-17/Pat O&#039;Connor.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago aldermen Wednesday are expected to pick the new City Council leaders. Their choices will go a long way in determining Mayor Rahm Emanuel's influence.</p><p>The mayor has no official say in how the council divides itself into committees, or who chairs those committees, but Emanuel helped negotiate a reorganization plan nonetheless. It cuts the total number of committees, while putting an Emanuel supporter, 40th Ward Ald. Pat O'Connor, in charge of a powerful new panel.</p><p>"It really was kind of a collaborative of his work and our work with our colleagues," O'Connor said of the plan on Monday, following inauguration ceremonies at Millennium Park. "And hopefully it will go smooth on Wednesday and we'll have the framework with which to work for the next four years."</p><p>The council is expected to vote on Emanuel's proposal on Wednesday, during the first meeting to be chaired by Emanuel. Alderman Ricardo Munoz, 22nd, said Tuesday that he is not sure if he will support it.</p><p>"What's not clear, because they haven't actually defined the jurisdictions, is precisely that," Munoz said. "What committees are going to be doing what?"</p><p>Munoz also noted that Emanuel's plan keeps Daley administration loyalists in charge of key committees. Munoz himself would not get a chairmanship under the proposal, though he denies that's why he's skeptical.</p></p> Wed, 18 May 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuels-city-council-plans-go-aldermen-86675 Analysis: Rahm Emanuel's inauguration day http://www.wbez.org/story/analysis-rahm-emanuels-inauguration-day-86616 <p><p>Rahm Emanuel is now Chicago's mayor. Emanuel was sworn-in late Monday morning in Millennium Park downtown. WBEZ's political reporter Sam Hudzik was there, and he joined host Melba Lara to break down inauguration day and what's ahead for Mayor Emanuel.</p></p> Mon, 16 May 2011 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/analysis-rahm-emanuels-inauguration-day-86616 Opponent-free aldermen expect big changes in Daley-free council http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-city-council/opponent-free-aldermen-expect-big-changes-daley-free-council <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/suarez.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago City Council chamber is going to be a different place after May 16th. A new mayor will be joined by 11 or more new aldermen. But familiar faces will remain, their victories a given. We talked with a couple of these opponent-free aldermen about their low-key campaigns, and about the future of the council.<br /> <br /> Six aldermen face no challengers. They're on the ballot all by themselves - guaranteed another four years in office. That means Ray Suarez can focus on the big issue this week in his 31st Ward office on the Northwest Side.<br /> <br /> SUAREZ: Alma! You can call the lady on George...He went by there again...Now there's a lot of slush there, but I can't help slush.<br /> HUDZIK: Your cell phone's been buzzing. The phones are ringing. I guess this is a busy time for you.<br /> SUAREZ: It's a very busy time. It's a double whammy, as you can say. Because you got this snow storm that came in, this blizzard, and you have elections coming up. I thank God that I'm very fortunate I'll be able to run unopposed this term again.<br /> <br /> Suarez has been on the council for almost 20 years, making this his sixth election. It's the third time no other candidates made the ballot against him.<br /> <br /> But luck has nothing to do with it, this year at least. A Suarez ally filed petition challenges against four candidates who tried to run against the alderman.<br /> <br /> HUDZIK: Your opponents didn't just magically get removed from the ballot?<br /> SUAREZ: Well, my opponents have to meet a criteria that's set my municipal law, and state law. [...] If you're going to be an elected official and have that privilege of represent people, how can you set the example, and how can you create laws, and then you break them yourself?<br /> <br /> Suarez says with or without an opponent, he provides great service to his constituents, who approach him to talk about their problems all over the ward - even at church.<br /> <br /> SUAREZ: And that's fine. Sometimes you say, 'Well, can't you just give me the chance to go worship the lord?' But - listen - people are people, and you have to sometimes understand that sometimes they don't get a chance to see you as much as they'd like to, so when they see you they take the opportunity to do this.<br /> <br /> Opposition or not, Suarez is not uninvolved in this election. He's endorsed Gery Chico for mayor. And as of December 31st, Suarez had more than a million dollars in cash and investments in his campaign account. He's recycling signs used in past elections, and will be sending a mailer to voters ahead of February 22nd. He'll win, of course, and then be a part of a city government with more potential for upheaval than any in more than two decades.<br /> <br /> SUAREZ: It's going to be a tremendous change. [...] I think that the city council will probably try to make sure that more authority goes on back there way, like it should be.<br /> <br /> That may sound like a plea for aldermanic independence, but Suarez is no Daley rebel. Take, for example, the controversial parking meter lease the council okayed a couple years ago. Suarez voted against it in committee, but when it came before the full council, he changed his mind, with a little prodding.<br /> <br /> SUAREZ: They asked me to consider voting for it, because it was, you know...<br /> HUDZIK: Who's they? The administration?<br /> SUAREZ: The administration lobbied me, and some of my colleagues lobbied me.<br /> HUDZIK: Do you regret that vote?<br /> SUAREZ: Yes.<br /> <br /> O'CONNOR: People need to appreciate that as Daley's time in office is written...<br /> <br /> Pat O'Connor is alderman from the 40th Ward. <br /> <br /> O'CONNOR: ...they worked a tremendous amount of time to make sure they had consensus on the things they wanted. [...] They worked towards making sure that things passed overwhelmingly, so that they worked from a position of strength. <br /> <br /> O'Connor has helped the Daley administration get things through the council. Efforts that've earned him an unofficial title from city hall reporters: &quot;Daley's unofficial floor leader.&quot;<br /> <br /> O'CONNOR: I'm not telling people they have to vote something. I'm there as a resource to tell them, 'Here's what the current position is, here's what we think the benefits are, and if you'd like to come along with us, we'd appreciate it.'<br /> <br /> I sat down with O'Connor this week in his North Side office, a small room with walls covered in photographs, drawings and etchings of John Wayne. There is, of course, a story behind this, and it begins when O'Connor was a newly-wed, his wife was out of town, and some friends came over to his apartment.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="263" width="350" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/IMG_0004.jpg" /></p><p style="text-align: left;">O'CONNOR: We had a card game and we had John Wayne in the Betamax. And everybody brought liquor, but by the end of the night it was just bourbon, ginger ale, cards, John Wayne. And we all decided that that's the best that life had to offer at that point.<br /> <br /> He was young back them, and was also young - just 28 years old - when he joined the city council after the 1983 election. That's also when Harold Washington won, and the 'Council Wars' began. O'Connor aligned with the white opposition block.</p><p>He sees some parallels to today.<br /> <br /> O'CONNOR: In 1983, you had a new mayor get elected and you had a large number of the city council that turned over. And you had issues that confronted the city that people thought, 'Oh, how are we ever going to get out of these?'<br /> <br /> O'Connor this year is supporting Rahm Emanuel for mayor - and expects him to win - but is making no promise he would serve as Emanuel's unofficial floor leader.</p><p>That could be a tough job, regardless of who's mayor.&nbsp; A handful of other aldermen have promised a more outspoken, combative and independent city council under a new mayor. To them, O'Connor warns of the fine line between independence and obstructionism. The newspaper editorial boards, he points out, have endorsed Emanuel, but also called for more independence from aldermen.<br /> <br /> O'CONNOR: Does that mean that if they go against these solutions that these guys have embraced, and endorsed Rahm Emanuel for, are we then obstructionist or are we independent? When Harold was the mayor, we were obstructionist. And so when Rahm is mayor, will we be independent or obstructionist?<br /> <br /> For the election this year, O'Connor is not doing much in the way of campaigning for himself. His regular ward fundraisers have continued, he's printing yard signs. Though, like Suarez, O'Connor is unopposed this year. Actually, he hasn't faced an opponent in an aldermanic race in nearly 20 years.<br /> <br /> O'CONNOR: I think if I wasn't doing the job, you know I'd be in the situation where there was 10 or 11 people running for the job. Part of it is people's satisfaction with the job you're doing.<br /> <br /> And part of it, O'Connor says, is an assessment of whether you can be beat.</p><p><em>Music Button: Nomo, &quot;Hand and Mouth&quot;, from the CD New Tones, (Ubiquity)</em></p></p> Wed, 09 Feb 2011 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-city-council/opponent-free-aldermen-expect-big-changes-daley-free-council