WBEZ | Politics http://www.wbez.org/news/politics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Nebraska repeals death penalty, but U.S. isn't quite ready to abandon it http://www.wbez.org/news/nebraska-repeals-death-penalty-us-isnt-quite-ready-abandon-it-112100 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/nebraskadeathpenalty.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Nebraska&#39;s Legislature voted Wednesday to abolish the death penalty, overturning Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts&#39; veto. The state&#39;s unicameral legislature overwhelmingly approved the measure in a series of three previous votes.</p><p>The repeal comes as other states have experienced complications with new lethal-injection cocktails. But Americans overall still support the practice.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="760px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/death-penalty-20150527/child.html?initialWidth=767&amp;childId=responsive-embed-death-penalty-20150527&amp;parentUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2Fsections%2Fitsallpolitics%2F2015%2F05%2F27%2F410081971%2Fnebraska-repeals-death-penalty-but-u-s-isn-t-quite-ready-to-abandon-it" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Support for the death penalty has slowly fallen over the past couple of decades, from a high of 80 percent in favor in the mid-1990s to just over 60 percent currently, according to Gallup.</p><p>That is actually near a 40-year low, but the longer history of public opinion on the death penalty is much more unstable. Views of other social issues, like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/183272/record-high-americans-support-sex-marriage.aspx">same-sex marriage</a>&nbsp;or&nbsp;<a href="http://www.livescience.com/22654-american-public-opinion-abortion.html">abortion</a>, have told somewhat clearer stories. Americans increasingly approve of same-sex marriage and have remained relatively deadlocked on abortion for decades.</p><p>What accounts for this? Any number of complicated factors combine to affect Americans&#39; views on the death penalty. Here are four potential explanations for the huge swings in Americans&#39; opinions:</p><p><strong>1. Fear.</strong>&nbsp;&quot;There are spikes in death-penalty support appearing during particular eras of what can be described as fear mongering,&quot; contended Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization that studies the policy. He explained that during the &quot;red scare&quot; of the 1950s, American support for the death penalty picked up. It fell off in the early 1960s, only to pick up again in the late 1960s and early 1970s after a rash of high-profile assassinations &mdash; Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., for example, and the attempted assassination of George Wallace. All of that contributed to a national conversation about the death penalty as the Supreme Court in 1972 found some death penalty statutes to be unconstitutional (effectively ending the practice for several years), but a 1976 decision opened the doors again. Then, the racially charged political rhetoric on crime in the 1980s (think Willie Horton) likewise fueled that support, according to Dunham&#39;s explanation.</p><p>Conversely, if a culture of fear contributes to support of the death penalty, public distrust of the government turns people against the policy, Dunham explains. During the Vietnam War era, when people started to question the government&#39;s choices, they also questioned the death penalty as a valid form of punishment.</p><p><strong>2. Violence.</strong>&nbsp;This is a case in which it&#39;s easy to read correlation as causation &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/03/28/lower-support-for-death-penalty-tracks-with-falling-crime-rates-more-exonerations/">shifts in American support</a>&nbsp;for the death penalty&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115405/death-penalty-support-and-violent-crime-there-correlation">look remarkably similar</a>&nbsp;to those in the violent-crime rate since 1960. It&#39;s&nbsp;<em>possible</em>&nbsp;that as people perceive less crime happening, they also aren&#39;t as enthusiastic about meting out death as a punishment, but, of course, the direction (or size) of causality here is unclear.</p><p><strong>3. Wrongful convictions and DNA.</strong>&nbsp;As of today, 153 death row inmates have been exonerated. And the resulting stream of news about wrongful convictions &mdash; and potential wrongful deaths &mdash; is one of the main reasons Dunham gives for the recent decline in death penalty support.</p><p>&quot;As more and more executions occurred, more and more injustices came to light,&quot; Dunham said. &quot;There are [also] serious concerns about the poor quality of representation. But a lot of people think that the trigger was really the development of DNA.&quot;</p><p>Indeed, as of 1991 &mdash; only shortly after the introduction of DNA evidence in criminal trials &mdash; only 11 percent of people opposed to the death penalty&nbsp;<a href="link:%20http://www.gallup.com/poll/1606/death-penalty.aspx">told Gallup</a>&nbsp;it was because of possible wrongful convictions. By 2003, 25 percent gave this as their answer, though the share has fallen some to 17 percent since then.</p><p><strong>4. It&#39;s costly.</strong>&nbsp;Republicans remain far more likely to support the death penalty than Democrats, but support has fallen off among both parties, as well as independents, since the mid-1990s. Indeed, both Republicans and Democrats in the Nebraska Legislature voted against the death penalty. One reason those Republicans gave is the cost of executions, as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/05/26/409859650/nebraska-governor-vetoes-bill-that-repealed-death-penalty">NPR reported</a>.</p><p>Over the past couple of decades, there has been mounting evidence that death penalty cases cost more than non-death-penalty cases, and that they&#39;re getting&nbsp;<a href="https://www.themarshallproject.org/2014/12/17/six-reasons-the-death-penalty-is-becoming-more-expensive">even more expensive</a>. Not only that, but there&#39;s evidence that executions&nbsp;<a href="http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-03-07-exepensive-to-execute_N.htm">cost more</a>&nbsp;than life in prison.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/05/27/410081971/nebraska-repeals-death-penalty-but-u-s-isn-t-quite-ready-to-abandon-it"><em>via NPR&#39;s It&#39;s All Politics</em></a></p></p> Thu, 28 May 2015 08:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/nebraska-repeals-death-penalty-us-isnt-quite-ready-abandon-it-112100 South Siders lobby for promises in writing as Obama library takes shape http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/south-siders-lobby-promises-writing-obama-library-takes-shape-112090 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/nm community benefits.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>The Obama Foundation has yet to choose which South Side park will host the president&rsquo;s library.</p><p>But whether it&rsquo;s Washington Park or Jackson Park, nearby residents are already dreaming big about the potential ripple effects. They want jobs and housing &mdash; and they want it in writing.</p><p>&ldquo;Think about it,&rdquo; chuckled Sandra Bivins of the 51st Street Business Association. &ldquo;You learn over the years that you need contractual agreements with folks or else they&rsquo;re not going to keep their word.&rdquo;</p><p>Bivins speaks from experience.</p><p>Chicago was one of a handful of cities that received $100 million in neighborhood empowerment zone funding under the Clinton Administration.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;What we didn&rsquo;t do at that time or what we didn&rsquo;t understand at that time is that once you lay out the groundwork and they say &lsquo;okay cool, this is cool,&rsquo; how do you get them to follow the agreement that they made with you?&rdquo;</p><p>Years after the city doled out those federal funds, researchers found the money didn&rsquo;t help some of the most impoverished neighborhoods. Politically connected groups reaped most of the rewards. Residents learned they can&rsquo;t always trust city hall to make sure the community gets its fair share.</p><p>Bivins is part of a South Side coalition pushing for a formal community benefits agreement, or CBA.</p><p>University of Illinois at Chicago professor Rachel Weber studies CBAs, which started in California.</p><p>&ldquo;These were attempts to have community organizations often in a coalition negotiate a separate and legally binding agreement with the developer over some large-scale redevelopment project,&rdquo; Weber said.</p><p>In exchange for certain provisions, community groups agree to get behind the project.</p><p>The first successful CBAs were negotiated in Los Angeles. In 1998 there was the Hollywood and Highland Center, home to the Oscars. Then a CBA attached to the Staples Center, home of the Lakers, ensured jobs for affected residents and affordable housing.</p><p>Despite talk of one during the failed 2016 Olympics bid, Chicago has never had a successful CBA.</p><p>But more than 10 miles south of downtown, another group is trying to change that.</p><p>A newly paved path on 87th and Lake Shore Drive used to be steel mills. When the industry shut down decades ago, this part of the city experienced major decline.</p><p>Now, the brownfield is slowly turning green with a postcard-worthy view in a new park that&rsquo;s a tribute to the former steel workers. Grassy knolls overlooking Lake Michigan are perfect for a summer picnic.</p><p>&ldquo;This is prime real estate,&rdquo; said resident Arnold Bradford. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re right on the lakefront. This is probably one of the best development sites right now in the city of Chicago. You can look downtown, you can see the skyline you can look to Indiana.&rdquo;</p><p>The colossal development he&rsquo;s referring to is called <a href="http://chicagolakesidedevelopment.com/the-site" target="_blank">Lakeside</a>, stretching between the 7th and 10th wards. The mix of retail, residential and commercial space will be bigger than the Loop and take decades to build.</p><p>Longtime residents like Yvette Moyo want a say in the process.</p><p>&ldquo;My father worked here, my brother worked here. I&rsquo;m sort of representing the families of union workers or U.S. steelworkers who feel that we have our DNA right here in this soil,&rdquo; Moyo said.</p><p>Bradford and Moyo are members of the <a href="https://asechicago.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/draft-cba-language.pdf">Coalition for a Lakeside Community Benefits Agreement</a>.</p><p>Amalia NietoGomez is the group&rsquo;s coordinator and said the coalition doesn&rsquo;t oppose the development as long as they&rsquo;re included.</p><p>&ldquo;All the skyscrapers that are downtown were built by steel mills that were on the Southeast Side and right now this area has 17 percent unemployment; it has 30 percent poverty levels. We want to return the Southeast Side back to its glory days when local people were employed, and families built generations in the houses that were here,&rdquo; NietoGomez said.</p><p>It&rsquo;s unclear whether residents will be able to negotiate CBAs over Lakeside and the Obama library. Representatives for both projects declined to comment.</p><p>UIC&rsquo;s Weber said one reason Chicago hasn&rsquo;t had a successful CBA is because the city thinks tax increment financing, or TIF, plans do the job.</p><p>&ldquo;In these 100-page documents that are signed whenever there&rsquo;s some sort of allocation of TIF funding, you&rsquo;ll see a whole section in a redevelopment agreement that lists these community benefits,&rdquo; Weber said.</p><p>But that&rsquo;s not going far enough for these South Siders.</p><p>They want to be the ones driving negotiations for community benefits.&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>&nbsp;Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Tue, 26 May 2015 18:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/south-siders-lobby-promises-writing-obama-library-takes-shape-112090 Democrats introduce proposed $36.3 billion budget for 2016 http://www.wbez.org/news/democrats-introduce-proposed-363-billion-budget-2016-112086 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/madigan_sots_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &nbsp;&mdash; Democrats in the Illinois Legislature are expected to advance a 2016 budget proposal on Tuesday that Republicans are criticizing as unbalanced.</p><p>House Speaker Michael Madigan says Democrats are looking to Gov. Bruce Rauner to help them pass a tax increase to make up the more than $3 billion difference in the $36.3 billion spending plan he announced Monday Democrats were crafting.</p><p>Madigan calls the proposed budget a &quot;more balanced approach&quot; that protects vulnerable and middle-class residents.</p><p>But GOP Gov. Rauner says he wants some of his legislative agenda approved first before he consents to raising taxes.</p><p>Rauner&#39;s spokesman calls Democrats&#39; plan a &quot;broken&quot; budget.</p><p>Illinois faces an approximately $6 billion deficit in the budget year that begins July 1.</p></p> Tue, 26 May 2015 09:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/democrats-introduce-proposed-363-billion-budget-2016-112086 Illinois prisons director resigns 2 months after taking job http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-prisons-director-resigns-2-months-after-taking-job-112077 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/wbez carlos javier ortiz.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s choice for state prisons director has resigned just two months into the job.</p><div><p>Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said Friday that the Republican governor had accepted the resignation of Donald Stolworthy.</p><p>She did not give a reason for the departure of the 54-year-old former U.S. State Department aide.</p><p>Neither Stolworthy nor his spokeswoman commented immediately.</p><p>Rauner named Stolworthy as acting director of the Department of Corrections on March 9. He previously worked for the State Department&#39;s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs where he assessed foreign prison systems.</p><p>Kelly says Stolworthy has agreed to &quot;help during the transition period&quot; to a new director. She had no other comment.</p><p>Stolworthy had a salary of $150,000 a year.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 22 May 2015 11:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-prisons-director-resigns-2-months-after-taking-job-112077 Illinois moves to downgrade pot possession to a fine http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-moves-downgrade-pot-possession-fine-112076 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/marijuanabug.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; Legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana is headed to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s desk.</p><p>The Illinois Senate voted 37-19 Thursday to make possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana a civil violation punishable by fines between $55 and a $125. Violators would not face jail time.</p><p>&quot;There has been much talk this year about criminal justice reform and being smarter on crime,&quot; said Sen. Michael Noland, the Senate sponsor of the legislation. &quot;With this measure the Senate and House take an important step in the right direction. The benefits we will see from this plan are innumerable.&quot;</p><p>It will be sent the governor after a second bill passes to address some concerns. One such concern addresses ensuring court records of the fines could be expunged without a court order.</p><p>Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly declined to comment on whether the governor would sign the bill, saying he would &quot;carefully consider any legislation that crosses his desk.&quot;</p><p>The vote comes the same day the Senate also approved a measure extending Illinois&#39; medical marijuana program by two or more years. That also heads to the governor&#39;s office, although Rauner is skeptical of extending the program.</p><p>More than a dozen states have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for marijuana law reform.</p><p>Marijuana advocacy and civil liberties groups see the effort as a step toward broader marijuana decriminalization. Some Republican lawmakers object to it for the same reason.</p><p>Rep. Kelly Cassidy is the original sponsor. She has said the measure isn&#39;t about decriminalization, but addressing racial disparities in enforcing marijuana possession.</p><p>&quot;This is not, frankly, decriminalizing. This is not legalizing,&quot; the Chicago Democrat said recent Senate committee. &quot;This is uniform enforcement.&quot;</p></p> Fri, 22 May 2015 09:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-moves-downgrade-pot-possession-fine-112076 Emanuel says no 'three-strike rule' over parks for Riot Fest http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/emanuel-says-no-three-strike-rule-over-parks-riot-fest-112064 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/riot fest flickr.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>It looks like Riot Fest has a new home in Chicago.</p><p>Aldermen involved in the back and forth over the music festival&rsquo;s location said that after three years in Humboldt Park, the punk and rock music festival will move this year a few miles away in Douglas Park.</p><p>Many Chicagoans were unhappy with the condition of the West Side park after last summer&rsquo;s festival. Alderman Roberto Maldonado (26) said residents of Humboldt Park and the surrounding neighborhoods have been complaining to him about the state of the grounds ever since concert-goers and organizers left.</p><p>&ldquo;Four Sundays ago...two of the diamonds were unusable for the opening games of the softball league,&rdquo; Maldonado said. &ldquo;The impact to the local economy, although it was substantial the first and second year, the third year it wasn&rsquo;t there.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>So for now, Riot Fest is taking its party elsewhere. In a statement, Riot Fest founder Michael Petryshyn said he met with Ald. George Cardenas (12) about using Douglas Park and was, &ldquo;ecstatic&rdquo; at the response he got from their new aldermanic partner.</p><p>&ldquo;We are so very excited to get to know our new neighbors and to work with them to hold an event that is beneficial to the community, local businesses and the resident,&rdquo; Petryshyn said. &ldquo;Essentially, everything we have brought to Humboldt Park over the last three years.&rdquo;</p><p>After Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was pleased the festival chose to stay in the city, but issued a warning to organizers: Leave Douglas Park the way you find it.</p><p>&ldquo;They now know the people of Humboldt Park don&rsquo;t want them, I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s in their best interest to have a second park say &lsquo;We don&rsquo;t want you&rsquo; in Chicago,&rdquo; Emanuel told reporters. &ldquo;So they&rsquo;ve been put on notice to be a better citizen in holding this festival because if you go 0-for-2, we don&rsquo;t have a three-strike rule in the city of Chicago for you.&rdquo;</p><p>Ald. Cardenas said the Park District is set to put down a bond as insurance in the event Douglas Park sees some damage.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ political reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em>.</p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 16:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/emanuel-says-no-three-strike-rule-over-parks-riot-fest-112064 Obama library foundation raised $5.4 million in 2014 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-library-foundation-raised-54-million-2014-112051 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/obamalibrarynesbit.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON &nbsp;&mdash; The nonprofit foundation raising money for President Barack Obama&#39;s future library in Chicago took in more than $5.4 million in 2014, according to the organization&#39;s tax returns.</p><p>The money comes from just 11 donors, many of them longtime Obama supporters from Chicago where the library will be located. The Barack Obama Foundation&#39;s largest contribution of $1 million came from Fred Eychaner, a major Democratic donor and founder of Chicago-based Newsweb Corp.</p><p>The foundation also received a $1 million pledge from the Joyce Foundation, a Chicago-based nonprofit on whose board Obama served before he ran for the U.S. Senate. The Joyce Foundation is making its money available in thirds between 2014 and 2016.</p><p>The library foundation announced last week that it would establish the library on the South Side of Chicago on a site proposed by the University of Chicago, after also entertaining bids made by Columbia University in New York where Obama attended college, the University of Hawaii and the University of Illinois at Chicago.</p><p>The foundation, which posted its tax returns on its website Monday, reported nearly $2 million in expenses, with more than half a million dollars in fundraising costs. Foundation officials have said most of the funds to build the library won&#39;t be raised until after the Obamas leave the White House. Obama and the first lady have pledged not to raise money for the foundation until the end of his presidency in January 2017.</p><p>Other donors:</p><p>Cari and Michael Sacks. Michael Sacks is a Chicago business executive with close ties to Obama&#39;s former chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel &mdash; $666,666.</p><p>Ian Simmons, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based investor and philanthropist married to Liesel Anne Pritzker of Chicago&#39;s Pritzker family &mdash; $500,000</p><p>Tom and Sonya Campion, Seattle-based philanthropists who have been Obama political donors. Tom Campion is co-founder of the apparel chain Zumiez &mdash; $500,000.</p><p>Tim Gill and Scott Miller, Denver-based philanthropists who advocate for gay rights &mdash; $432,876.</p><p>James and Marilyn Simons. James Simons is a New York-based hedge fund manager &mdash; $340,000.</p><p>Mark Gallogly, an investor who sits on the board of Columbia University&#39;s business school, and his wife, Lise Strickler &mdash; $340,000.</p><p>Tim Collins, a New York-based private equity investor &mdash; $300,000.</p><p>David Shaw, a New York hedge fund manager, and his wife, Beth Kobliner, a personal finance journalist &mdash; $250,000.</p><p>Robert and Carol Wolf. Robert Wolf is the CEO of 32 Advisors, a financial consulting firm, and is an occasional Obama golf partner &mdash; $100,032.</p></p> Tue, 19 May 2015 09:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-library-foundation-raised-54-million-2014-112051 Emanuel calls on Chicagoans to prevent 'lost generation' http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-calls-chicagoans-prevent-lost-generation-112047 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahm.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Over the last week, Chicago&rsquo;s debt was dinged by three major credit agencies. And while the city&rsquo;s pension and financial crises loom large, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel chose instead to kick off his second term with a speech that encourages Chicagoans to take action to prevent another &ldquo;lost generation&rdquo; of the city&rsquo;s disadvantaged youth.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s time to stop turning our heads and turning the channel,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s time for each of us to start breaking down those walls. We can&rsquo;t abandon the most vulnerable children to the gang and the gun. They have the potential and desire to be so much more.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel spoke at the Chicago Theatre, a change in venue from the previous inaugural festivities at Millennium Park. The city&rsquo;s 50 aldermen, Treasurer Kurt Summers and Clerk Susana Mendoza were also sworn in Monday.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s newest crop of politicians shared the stage with many familiar dignitaries like former Mayor Richard M. Daley and former President Bill Clinton, who received the most enthusiastic welcome from the audience; even more so than the mayor himself. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner was not in attendance, though Mayor Emanuel attended his inauguration earlier this year.</p><p>Emanuel only briefly mentioned the city&rsquo;s fiscal woes during his remarks, calling the pressing pension and financial issues &ldquo;not of our making&rdquo; while his predecessor, Mayor Daley, sat just a few seats down from him on the stage.</p><p>&ldquo;Even in a time of fiscal challenges, we all need to do more for our young people who are economically and spiritually hungry,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;And we must come to realize that this is not just a problem for certain communities. Anything that stunts the hope and the expectations and the opportunities for thousands of young Chicagoans undermines Chicago&rsquo;s future. &rdquo; Emanuel said.&nbsp;</p><p>The mayor went on to say that government programs are a helpful resource toward this end, but they&rsquo;re not set up to provide &ldquo;a moral compass.&rdquo; He called on Chicago residents to become role models for young people, asking all to share the &ldquo;values that made you who you are.&rdquo;</p><p>Many in the audience, including progressive aldermen who are expected to be the mayor&rsquo;s largest critics this term, were pleased with the route the mayor chose for his speech.</p><p>A new member to the council and progressive caucus, David Moore (17), said it&rsquo;s not that the mayor doesn&rsquo;t care about pensions, but that Emanuel realizes &ldquo;our youth is our most important asset.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;If our youth are in trouble, then whether the pension crisis is solved or what, then Chicago is in trouble,&rdquo; Moore said.</p><p>Northside Alderman Joe Moore (49) said while it&rsquo;s true &ldquo;everyone&rdquo; was expecting to hear more about the city&rsquo;s finances, &ldquo;one issue is not necessarily to the exclusion of others.&rdquo;</p><p>Plus, he added: &ldquo;Trust me, we&rsquo;re gonna spend all summer hearing a lot about finances and a lot about how serious our fiscal crisis is.&rdquo;</p><p>The new city council will meet for the first time on Wednesday.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ city politics reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 18 May 2015 15:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-calls-chicagoans-prevent-lost-generation-112047 Inauguration Day: New City Council faces serious financial problems http://www.wbez.org/news/inauguration-day-new-city-council-faces-serious-financial-problems-112042 <p><p>Inauguration day is here: Chicago&rsquo;s mayor, treasurer, city clerk and new class of aldermen will all be sworn in at the Chicago Theatre Monday morning. Of course, many of the people on stage will be familiar faces: Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Clerk Susana Mendoza and Treasurer Kurt Summers have already been serving the city, along with a majority of aldermen.</p><p>But thirteen new faces will be mixed among the returning class of politicians. Together, they&rsquo;ll be faced with a number of difficult issues, not the least of which is the city&rsquo;s dire financial situation.</p><p><em>Click below to hear about the members, the lessons they learned from the last election and more on the issues they&rsquo;ll be tackling this term.&nbsp;</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/205368904%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-PbDUk&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><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Brian-Hopkins.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Brain Hopkins (via Twitter)" /><strong>Brian Hopkins (2)</strong>: Hopkins is currently the senior budget analyst for the Cook County Board&rsquo;s Finance Committee, where he&rsquo;s also served as chief of staff to Chairman John Daley. Hopkins isn&rsquo;t planning to join a caucus; he thinks the city council should, &ldquo;get away from some of the factionalism that exists, and not break down into multiple, different caucuses.&rdquo;</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/greg-mitchell.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Gregory Mitchell (via mitchellforalderman.com)" /><strong>Gregory Mitchell (7)</strong>: Mitchell is a lifelong resident of the 7th Ward and worked as an IT Manager at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He&rsquo;s likely to join the black caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/patric-daley-thompson.jpg" style="width: 150px; height: 150px; float: left;" title="Patrick Daley Thompson (via patrickdthompson.com)" /><strong>Patrick Daley Thompson (11)</strong>: Thompson&rsquo;s middle name is a familiar one for the Chicago political scene. His uncle is former Mayor Richard M Daley, and, of course, his grandfather is former Mayor Richard J Daley. Thompson recently ended his tenure with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District&rsquo;s Board of Commissioners; and he <a href="http://www.burkelaw.com/Staff/Patrick+D+Thompson">practices real estate and corporate law</a>, which he says he&rsquo;ll continue while serving as alderman. Thompson says he currently has no plans to join any of the city council caucuses.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/susan-garza.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Susan Sadlowski Garza" /><strong>Susan Sadlowski-Garza (10)</strong>: Sadlowski-Garza is a Chicago Teacher&rsquo;s Union area vice president and, most recently, worked as a counselor at Jane Addams Elementary, a position she says she&rsquo;ll leave when she becomes alderman. She will join the progressive caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/raymond-lopez.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Raymond Lopez (via electlopez.com)" /><strong>Raymond Lopez (15)</strong>: Lopez is the Democratic Committeeman in the 15th Ward, and recently retired from Southwest Airlines. At present, he isn&rsquo;t planning to join any caucuses, including the newly formed Gay Caucus. Lopez is one of five openly gay members of the current city council. Still, he&rsquo;s often included on rosters of the new caucus, but Lopez says he&rsquo;s &ldquo;often guilty by association before I know about it.&rdquo;</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/david-moore.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="David Moore (via citizensformoore.com)" /><strong>David Moore (17)</strong>: Moore&rsquo;s family has been involved in the 17th Ward Democratic Organization since he was a kid--he went on to be precinct captain. Moore is currently an assistant to the commissioner of the Cook County Board of Review, a position he says he will leave once becoming alderman. Moore is a member of the progressive caucus, and plans to join the black caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/derrick-curtis.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Derrick Curtis (via twitter)" /><strong>Derrick Curtis (18)</strong>: Curtis is 18th Ward Democratic Committeeman and ward superintendent for the Department of Streets and Sanitation. He&rsquo;s likely to join the black caucus. &nbsp;</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/michaelscottjr.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Michael Scott Jr. (via Twitter)" /><strong>Michael Scott, Jr (24):</strong> Scott is an area manager for the Central Region of the Chicago Park District, but he says he&rsquo;ll be leaving his position to become alderman. His father is the late Chicago School Board President Michael W. Scott, Sr. He says he&rsquo;s likely to join the black caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chris-taliaferro.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Chris Taliaferro (via 29thward.com)" /><strong>Chris Taliaferro (29)</strong>: Taliaferro is a former Marine and former sergeant with the Chicago Police Department. He currently works as a litigation attorney and partner at Nexus Legal Group. Taliaferro is a member of the progressive caucus and is likely to join the black caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Milly-Santiago.jpg" style="height: 160px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Milagros “Milly” Santiago" /><strong>Milagros &ldquo;Milly&rdquo; Santiago (31)</strong>: Santiago is mostly known throughout the city for her work as a TV reporter for Telemundo. She most recently worked as communications manager for Illinois state agencies under the Central Management Services. Her name is rumored to be on the list for the progressive caucus, but Santiago says she hasn&rsquo;t yet made a decision.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gilbert.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Gilbert Villegas (via twitter)" /><strong>Gilbert Villegas (36)</strong>: Villegas was a former Marine, and currently owns a consulting company. He says he may continue to do some consulting while he serves as alderman, &ldquo;depending on the time.&rdquo; Villegas is joining the Latino caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/carlos.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (via carlososa.org)" /><strong>Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35)</strong>: At 26 years old, Ramirez-Rosa becomes the youngest aldermen on the current city council. He&rsquo;s a community organizer with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee RIghts, and a former caseworker for Congressman Luis Gutierrez. Ramirez-Rosa is a member of the progressive caucus, Latino caucus and the gay caucus.</p></div><div style="overflow: hidden"><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/anthony-napolitano.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: left;" title="Anthony Napolitano (via napolitano41stward.com)" /><strong>&nbsp;Anthony&nbsp;Napolitano&nbsp;(41)</strong>: Napolitano is a former Chicago police officer and current Chicago firefighter. He hasn&rsquo;t joined the progressive caucus but supports an elected school board, one of their top issues.</p></div><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s City Politics reporter. Follow her</em> <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></p></p> Sun, 17 May 2015 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/inauguration-day-new-city-council-faces-serious-financial-problems-112042 Illinois advancing measure to divest in companies boycotting Israel http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-advancing-measure-divest-companies-boycotting-israel-112037 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/State-Capitol-Front-1_WBEZ_Tim-Akimoff_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>An international movement to boycott Israeli companies is prompting Illinois state lawmakers to react. Legislators are advancing a measure, which has the support of Gov. Bruce Rauner, that would prevent state pension funds from supporting those who are boycotting Israel.</p><p>&ldquo;We, as a state, are making an affirmative statement that if you&rsquo;re going to boycott Israel, an ally of the United States, a democracy in the Middle East, then we are going to divest from you,&rdquo; said State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), who&rsquo;s a sponsor of the bill.</p><p>Feigenholtz advanced the proposal out of the House Executive Committee Wednesday with unanimous support from both Democrats and Republicans. It still needs approval from the full House of Representatives. Last month, the proposal passed the Senate on a vote of 49-0, with three senators voting Present.</p><p>The bill calls for the creation, and monitoring, of a list of companies that boycott Israel so the state pension funds would know not to invest in those companies. Divesting is seen as an economic strategy to put economic pressures on those entities that aren&rsquo;t in line with U.S. -- or Illinois -- policies.</p><p>State pension funds already divest in companies that have ties to Iran and Sudan. Feigenholtz explained to lawmakers this week that adding companies that boycott Israel to Illinois&rsquo; divestment strategy would further align the State of Illinois&rsquo; policies with the United States&rsquo; foreign policies. Two years ago, state lawmakers failed in their attempt to create another divestment strategy in which the Illinois would cut ties with gun manufacturers in hopes those companies would be motivated to get on board with gun control measures.</p><p>&ldquo;We need to do our part to stand up to anti-Semitism, whenever and however it appears,&rdquo; Rauner said in a written statement about the bill.</p><p>With unanimous support from lawmakers so far, criticism of the bill has come mostly from individuals or groups watching the politically-charged debate involving Israel. Reema Ahmad lives in Chicago&rsquo;s Rogers Park neighborhood, and testified against the bill in a House of Representatives committee Wednesday.</p><p>&ldquo;It politicizes our pension systems,&rdquo; Ahmad said after the vote. &ldquo;International politics, regardless of how you feel about issues in the Middle East, have no place in our state politics and much less within our pension system. We need to get our own house in order.&rdquo;</p><p>Ahmad referred to a recent Supreme Court decision that rejected lawmakers&rsquo; attempts to restructure the retirement benefits of state employees. The now-defunct law was legislators years-long effort to save the state estimated billions toward its $100 billion pension debt.</p><p>Dave Urbanek, with the Teachers Retirement System, one of the pension funds potentially affected by this legislation, said they&rsquo;d not yet done an analysis of how much of the fund, if any, is invested in companies that boycott Israel. He said if the bill is passed, and signed by the governor, a monitoring board would have to comb through about $45 billion in investment assets for the teachers fund alone. Another pension fund for state university workers has more than $17 billion in investments. And it&rsquo;s not yet clear what mechanisms would be put in place for the pension funds to identify the companies that are in fact boycotting Israel.</p><p>But another critic of the measure warns that Illinois lawmakers are establishing policy based on recent high-profile efforts to boycott companies that do business in Israel. On its <a href="http://www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro">website</a>, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement defines itself as &ldquo;a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice.&rdquo; It encourages the use of &ldquo;various forms of boycotts against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law,&rdquo; which includes, &ldquo;ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;While it doesn&rsquo;t directly affect the rights of individuals in the U.S. to engage in boycotts themselves, it does create a chilling effect,&rdquo; Dima Khalidi, the director of Palestine Solidarity Legal Support in Chicago, said of the bill in Springfield.</p><p>Khalidi defended the BDS movement as being motivated by human rights, and denies the protests against Israel are anti-Semitic in nature. She also criticized the scope of the proposal that&rsquo;s awaiting a full House vote, saying the bill includes language to not only divest in companies boycotting Israel, but also those that take economic action against companies &ldquo;in territories controlled by the State of Israel,&rdquo; according to language in Senate Bill 1761.</p><p>&ldquo;It applies to companies that not only boycott Israeli companies, but companies that operate within the occupied territory,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It does have important implications for what is considered Israel.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois lawmakers have acknowledged the proposal before them is a response to companies that take part in the BDS movement.</p><p><em>Alexandra Salomon, a producer for WBEZ&rsquo;s Worldview, contributed reporting for this story. </em></p><p><em>Tony Arnold is WBEZ&rsquo;s Illinois state politics reporter. Follow him </em><a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold"><em>@tonyjarnold</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Fri, 15 May 2015 09:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-advancing-measure-divest-companies-boycotting-israel-112037