WBEZ | Politics http://www.wbez.org/news/politics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Race to replace ex-Rep. Schock a classic GOP primary contest http://www.wbez.org/news/race-replace-ex-rep-schock-classic-gop-primary-contest-112316 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/shock_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; The race to replace former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock has shaped up as a classic Republican primary, pitting the son of a longtime Illinois congressman and Cabinet member against a conservative writer who has railed at what he sees as the &quot;establishment&quot; GOP hand-picking the disgraced lawmaker&#39;s successor.</p><p>Three Republicans and two Democrats will appear on Tuesday&#39;s ballots, but most eyes have been on State Sen. Darin LaHood, the son of former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and Michael Flynn, who helped found the late blogger and commentator Andrew Breitbart&#39;s BigGovernment.com.</p><p>Candidates in the deeply Republican territory say Schock&#39;s resignation after mounting scrutiny of his extravagant spending, and the lingering scandal &mdash; including grand jury and FBI investigations &mdash; has left voters disillusioned. The former Republican representative enjoyed strong support and visibility beyond his central Illinois district until questions surfaced about his use of taxpayer funds, like for ornate office decor in the style of &quot;Downton Abbey&quot; or worldwide travels plastered on Instagram.</p><p>The five candidates hail from diverse work backgrounds and political ideologies, but they all argue one point in common: They&#39;re nothing like Schock. Here&#39;s a look at the race:</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Republican Faceoff</span></p><p>LaHood, a former state and federal prosecutor, has the most name recognition and received early support from the Illinois GOP. He&#39;s raised roughly $1 million and picked up key endorsements, including from the National Rifle Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.</p><p>He describes himself as &quot;much more conservative&quot; than his father, who worked in President Barack Obama&#39;s first administration, and notes his 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union. But LaHood was critical of GOP leaders, saying the party needs to be more proactive by laying out alternatives to the Affordable Care Act and a clear plan for the economy, and by reducing the national debt.</p><p>&quot;(Republicans) have to lead with conservative ideas and they&#39;re not doing that,&quot; said LaHood, 46. &quot;They&#39;re not passing any bills and putting them on the president&#39;s desk.&quot;</p><p>Flynn says people are fed up with party politics, and he was motivated to run after it appeared the GOP had cleared the field for LaHood.</p><p>He claims candidate forums hosted by Republican county organizations have been tightly controlled &mdash; when it comes to allowing news media coverage and when candidates speak &mdash; and says there should be fuller debates on health care and tax structures. Flynn has raised about $63,000, but the conservative Person to Person PAC announced support of him this week and praised his writing, saying others &quot;were too timid to stand up to power brokers.&quot;</p><p>Flynn, 47, a central Illinois native who also lived in Washington, has worked on local legislative campaigns.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Shaking Schock</span></p><p>Candidates say the circumstances of Schock&#39;s resignation in March have reverberated throughout the campaign.</p><p>&quot;What happened to Schock is a parable,&quot; Flynn said. &quot;People with a lot of promise and a lot of energy and a lot of opportunity and get so immersed in the system there, they feel they are above the law and are different.&quot;</p><p>LaHood said voters want someone who won&#39;t get &quot;sucked in by Washington, D.C.&quot; He talked about staying &quot;grounded&quot; and said during the legislative session he drives more than an hour back and forth to Springfield each day so he can spend the night with his family.</p><p>Republican Donald Rients, who works for State Farm, and the Democratic candidates &mdash; high school teacher and veteran Robert Mellon and Springfield school board member Adam Lopez &mdash; all say the Schock situation levels the playing field because voters are frustrated with scandal, regardless of party, and want change.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The district and turnout</span></p><p>Illinois&#39; 18th district comprises acres of rolling farmland to global manufacturers like Caterpillar Inc. The region includes at least part of 19 counties, and portions of Peoria, the state capital, Springfield, and the Mississippi River town of Quincy.</p><p>The geography presents problems for candidates, who have to travel wide to reach voters.</p><p>Turnout is expected to be low, considering it&#39;s a special election in peak summer vacation season. That puts pressure on the candidates to reach loyal party voters who are more likely to come vote.</p><p>The general special election is Sept. 10.</p></p> Sun, 05 Jul 2015 06:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/race-replace-ex-rep-schock-classic-gop-primary-contest-112316 Emails show Emanuel, top officials aware of Clinton's private address http://www.wbez.org/news/emails-show-emanuel-top-officials-aware-clintons-private-address-112303 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahmhillary.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON (AP) &mdash; Senior Obama administration officials, including current Chicago Mayor and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, knew as early as 2009 that Hillary Rodham Clinton was using a private email address for her government correspondence, according to some 3,000 pages of correspondence released by the State Department late Tuesday night.</p><p>Emanuel requested Clinton&#39;s email address on Sept. 5, 2009, according to one email. His request came three months after top Obama strategist David Axelrod asked the same question of one of Clinton&#39;s top aides.</p><p>But it&#39;s unclear whether the officials realized Clinton, now the leading Democratic presidential candidate, was running her email from a server located in her home in Chappaqua, New York &mdash; a potential security risk and violation of administration policy.</p><p>The emails, covering March through December 2009, were posted online as part of a court mandate that the agency release batches of Clinton&#39;s private correspondence from her time as secretary of state every 30 days starting June 30.</p><p>Clinton&#39;s correspondence from her first year as the nation&#39;s top diplomat left little doubt that the Obama administration was aware that Clinton was using a personal address.</p><p>&quot;The Secretary and Rahm are speaking, and she just asked him to email her &mdash; can you send me her address please?&quot; Amanda Anderson, Emanuel&#39;s assistant, wrote.</p><p>Abedin passed along the request to Clinton. &quot;Rahm&#39;s assistant is asking for your email address. U want me to give him?&quot;</p><p>Less than a minute later, Clinton replied that Abedin should send along the address.</p><p>Emanuel said at a news conference Wednesday that he was honored to serve as Obama&#39;s chief of staff.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve also got to tell you, the farthest thing from my mind today, given all the challenges that we face as a city and all the opportunities we face, is what server Bill and Hillary Clinton had at their home,&quot; Emanuel said.</p><p>In June 2009, Axelrod requested Clinton&#39;s address, according to a message to Clinton from chief of staff Cheryl Mills.</p><p>&quot;Can you send to him or do you want me to? Does he know I can&#39;t look at it all day so he needs to contact me thru you or Huma or Lauren during work hours,&quot; Clinton replied, referencing some of her top aides.</p><p>Axelrod said Wednesday that while he knew Clinton had a private email address, &quot;I did not know that she used it exclusively or that she had her server in her home.&quot;</p><p>The White House counsel&#39;s office also was not aware at the time Clinton was secretary of state that she relied solely on personal email and only found out as part of the congressional investigation into the attacks, according to a person familiar with the matter.</p><p>The regular releases of Clinton&#39;s correspondence all but guarantee a slow drip of revelations from the emails throughout her primary campaign, complicating her efforts to put the issue to rest. The goal is for the department to publicly unveil 55,000 pages of her emails by Jan. 29, 2016 &mdash; just three days before Iowa caucus-goers will cast the first votes in the Democratic primary contest. Clinton has said she wants the emails released as soon as possible.</p><p>A Republican-led House panel investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, also is examining emails of Clinton and other former department officials, raising the possibility of further revelations into 2016. The State Department provided more than 3,600 pages of documents to the committee on Tuesday, including emails.</p><p>Pushing back, the Clinton campaign released a video on Wednesday that argues that seven previous investigations have debunked the conspiracy theories surrounding the attacks that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, and the panel&#39;s sole purpose is to rough up Clinton politically ahead of the presidential election.</p><p>&quot;How long will Republicans keep spending tax dollars on this political charade?&quot; the video asks.</p><p>The emails ranged from the mundane details of high-level public service &mdash; scheduling secure lines for calls, commenting on memos and dealing with travel logistics &mdash; to an email exchange with former President Jimmy Carter and a phone call with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Carter mildly chided Clinton about how to handle the release of two hostages held in North Korea, while Clinton recounted that Rice, her predecessor, &quot;called to tell me I was on strong ground&quot; regarding Israel.</p><p>One day in November 2009, aide Huma Abedin forwarded Clinton a list of 11, back-to-back calls she was scheduled to make to foreign ministers around the world.</p><p>&quot;Can&#39;t wait. You know how much I love making calls,&quot; Clinton responded.</p><p>In one email, Clinton tells Abedin, &quot;I heard on the radio that there is a Cabinet mtg this am. Can I go? If not, who are we sending?&quot; Clinton was later informed it wasn&#39;t a full Cabinet meeting.</p><p>The newly released emails show Clinton sent or received at least 12 messages in 2009 on her private email server that were later classified &quot;confidential&quot; by the U.S. government because officials said they contained activities relating to the intelligence community.</p><p>The emails also reflect the vast scope of Clinton&#39;s network, after several decades in Washington. She advises her future 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta to wear socks to bed, and passes on advice from former campaign strategist Mark Penn with the note &quot;overlook the source.&quot;</p><p>Clinton&#39;s emails have become an issue in her early 2016 campaign, as Republicans accuse her of using a private account rather than the standard government address to avoid public scrutiny of her correspondence. As the controversy has continued, Clinton has seen ratings of her character and trustworthiness drop in polling.</p><p>Clinton turned her emails over to the State Department last year, nearly two years after leaving the Obama administration. She said she got rid of about 30,000 emails she deemed exclusively personal.</p></p> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 08:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emails-show-emanuel-top-officials-aware-clintons-private-address-112303 CPS, Emanuel warn of deep cuts, layoffs to school district http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-emanuel-warn-deep-cuts-layoffs-school-district-112301 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahmap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing &ldquo;a grand bargain&rdquo; to fix the financial woes of Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>The proposal cuts $200 million from schools, raises property taxes, asks teachers to pay more into their pensions, and pushes Springfield to increase overall school funding.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody would have to give up something, and nobody would have to give up everything,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>The mayor&rsquo;s proposal came as state lawmakers were entertaining a bill from Illinois Senate President John Cullerton that would freeze property taxes and eliminate grants currently promised to CPS in exchange for picking up about $200 million of the cash-strapped school district&rsquo;s &ldquo;normal&rdquo; pension costs over the next two years.</p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union doesn&rsquo;t support Emanuel&rsquo;s plan and also scoffed at his longstanding push to consolidate the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund with the Teachers Retirement System, which includes all suburban and downstate teachers, and is equally underfunded. Currently, Chicago taxpayers pay into both CTPF and TRS, something Emanuel calls &ldquo;inequitable.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Cuts will hit classrooms, special education and start times</span></p><p>Emanuel and CPS officials said schools will start on time this fall, but not without deep cuts.&nbsp;</p><p>District officials are still in the process of developing the budget for next school year, but CPS Interim CEO Jesse Ruiz <a href="https://www.scribd.com/doc/270216697/CPS-reducing-expenses-by-200-Million" target="_blank">outlined</a> the following cuts they&rsquo;ve already determined they&rsquo;ll make:</p><ul><li>Eliminate 5,300 coaching stipends for elementary school sports. ($3.2 million);</li><li>Change magnet school transportation by having students report to local attendance area school to be picked up. ($2.3 million);</li><li>Shift start times for some high schools back 45 minutes. ($9.2 million);</li><li>Eliminate 200 vacant special education positions. ($14 million);</li><li>Cut startup funding for charters and alternative schools. ($15.8 million);</li><li>Reduce professional development in turnaround schools run by AUSL ($11.6 million).</li></ul><p>&ldquo;In my view, they&rsquo;re intolerable, they&rsquo;re unacceptable and they&rsquo;re totally unconscionable,&rdquo; Emanuel said of the cuts. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re a result of a political system that sprung a leak and now it&rsquo;s a geyser.&rdquo;</p><p>The cuts do not solve the district&rsquo;s pension problems. Late Tuesday, just before the deadline, the school district paid its full pension payment, a hefty sum of $634 million, for 2015. But that payment was only to close out last year&rsquo;s budget. The Emanuel administration has already asked the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund to push $500 million of the required 2016 payment to 2017.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Where will the revenue come from?</span></p><p>Chicago Public Schools officials and Emanuel find themselves in the middle of a delicate dance with Springfield: They take every opportunity to blame Springfield for the financial mess the district is in, but at the same time look for lawmakers to bail them out.</p><p>If Springfield doesn&rsquo;t go along with Emanuel&rsquo;s idea to merge all teacher pensions into a single fund, he wants them to contribute the &ldquo;normal&rdquo; pension cost, which amounts to about $200 million annually.</p><p>This portion of his plan coincides with a <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=09900SB0316sam001&amp;GA=99&amp;SessionId=88&amp;DocTypeId=SB&amp;LegID=84277&amp;DocNum=0316&amp;GAID=13&amp;Session=" target="_blank">bill</a> that&rsquo;s currently floating around Springfield. Senate President John Cullerton sponsored an amendment that would kick in that annual &ldquo;normal cost,&rdquo; and also freezes property taxes for two years. Cullerton says it&rsquo;s his attempt to compromise with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who&rsquo;s advocated freezing property taxes. The bill would also require the state to create a task force to overhaul Illinois&rsquo; school funding formula.</p><p>Cullerton&rsquo;s bill made it through its first legislative hurdle with only Democratic support, but Cullerton said he&rsquo;d continue working with Republicans to get bipartisan support.</p><p>And then there&rsquo;s that thing Chicagoans have been waiting to hear details about: A property tax hike. Emanuel said without Springfield&rsquo;s help on teacher pension funding, he will restore the CPS pension levy to the pre-1995 tax rate of .26 percent. Emanuel estimates that would bring in around $175 million.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t easily go to taxpayers, but part of a solution is you&rsquo;re willing to give up things you don&rsquo;t support, in an effort to get other things you think are essential to a solution,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>Emanuel said he will also ask teachers to contribute the full 9 percent to cover their own pension costs. He said he will also put the city&rsquo;s block grants on the table, in exchange for the state to increase education funding by up to 25 percent.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">How we got here</span></p><p>These pension problems stem from 15 years of neglect and mismanagement at CPS and the city.</p><p>From 1995 to 2004, CPS did not make a single payment to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, and instead used revenues to pay for operations. From 2011 to 2013, the school district got a &ldquo;pension holiday&rdquo; that temporarily shrunk payments, but didn&rsquo;t make a dent in the unfunded liabilities.</p><p>Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, said the district should be &ldquo;front and center taking blame&rdquo; for &ldquo;using the pension system very much like a credit card, running up debt and deferring payment of it until now.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The City of Chicago has known that more money was going to have to go into the pension systems in 2015,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They had four and a half years to plan for it and they did nothing.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel disputes that he&rsquo;s been putting the pension problem off, telling reporters Wednesday that over the past few years, &ldquo;we negotiated with the laborers and municipal fund, we negotiated with police and fire and we negotiated with park district employees and reached pension agreements and passed a number of them...so I would slightly beg to differ the characterization that we were passive.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Martire didn&rsquo;t place all of the blame at the mayor&rsquo;s feet. He said state lawmakers are equally at fault for not contributing to Chicago teachers&rsquo; pensions, like they once promised and by generally underfunding public schools.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;When you have such significant underfunding from the state, the mayoral administrations and the administrations of the CPS are going to look to beg, borrow and steal,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And just simply write an IOU into the system saying, &lsquo;We&rsquo;ll pay you back someday at compounded interest.&rsquo; And someday has arrived.&rdquo;</p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Tony Arnold contributed to this story from Springfield.</em></p><p><span style="font-size: 24px;">A timeline of CPS pension problems</span></p><p><strong>1981</strong> &ndash; Chicago Board of Education starts picking up 7 percent of the 9 percent employee pension contribution, in exchange for no salary raises.</p><p><strong>1995</strong> &ndash; Illinois General Assembly gives control of the city&rsquo;s public schools to Chicago&rsquo;s mayor and agrees to let CPS manage the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. The dedicated pension levy is eliminated and for 10 years, CPS doesn&rsquo;t pay anything into the Fund, instead using revenue that should have been earmarked for pensions on other things, like operations, new school expansion and staff raises.</p><p><strong>2005</strong> &ndash; Chicago Teachers Pension Fund &ldquo;funded ratio&rdquo; drops to 79 percent.</p><p><strong>2006</strong> &ndash; Board starts making payments into CTPF again.</p><p><strong>2008</strong>&nbsp;&ndash; Stock market crashes, dropping the Fund&rsquo;s &ldquo;funded ratio&rdquo; even further.</p><p><strong>2010</strong> &ndash; CPS CEO Ron Huberman gets a pension holiday from Springfield. From 2011-2013, CPS is only required to pay $200 million year &ndash; instead of $600 million &ndash; pushing ballooning payments to 2014.</p><p><strong>2012</strong> &ndash; The &ldquo;funded ratio&rdquo; drops to 53.9 percent.</p><p><strong>2014</strong> - $612.7 million payment</p><p><strong>2015</strong> - $634 million payment</p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_76159" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/270216697/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-emanuel-warn-deep-cuts-layoffs-school-district-112301 Preckwinkle may reevaluate sales tax plan if Springfield acts on pensions http://www.wbez.org/news/preckwinkle-may-reevaluate-sales-tax-plan-if-springfield-acts-pensions-112291 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/preckwinkle_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says she may reevaluate her plan to increase the county&rsquo;s sales tax if Springfield passes pension reform by the end of this summer.</p><p dir="ltr">Preckwinkle is pitching a 1 percentage point sales tax increase, a complete 180 from her <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skkFEuCLUTo">campaign pledge in 2010</a> to roll back the so-called Stroger sales tax, named after her predecessor. That would mean a 10.25 percent sales tax in Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I would argue there&rsquo;s no person in Cook County more hesitant to increase the sales tax than me. But here&rsquo;s the truth: I&rsquo;m here to do what&rsquo;s right for Cook County, what might be personally or politically awkward for me is irrelevant,&rdquo; Preckwinkle said in a speech Tuesday morning at the City Club.</p><p dir="ltr">Preckwinkle said state lawmakers put the county in a tough spot financially by not acting on her pension reform plan.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The reason we&rsquo;re raising the tax the entire 1 percent is so that we can meet our obligations and kinda catch up, given the fact that we&rsquo;ve waited a year for Springfield to act and it&rsquo;s cost us to be $360 million dollars further down&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">But Preckwinkle promised that if the state legislature passes her pension reform bill, the county would reevaluate the sales tax hike, so long as it all happens before the department of revenue&rsquo;s October 1st deadline.</p><p dir="ltr">County finance officials estimate the sales tax hike would raise around $308 million in 2016, which Preckwinkle said would be used mostly for pensions, with a little going to the county&rsquo;s legacy debt service and some road and bridge infrastructure projects.</p><p dir="ltr">The proposal needs the support of nine of the 17 commissioners in order to pass, and a few <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/preckwinkle-defends-plan-boost-sales-tax-blames-pension-crisis-112236">members said they&rsquo;re still on the fence.</a></p><p dir="ltr">Commissioner Robert Steele said he was already meeting with businesses in his district to hear any concerns they might have about the increase.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We know this is gonna be a hard sell, it&rsquo;s not gonna be an easy sell for me to go out and say this is something we&rsquo;re gonna bring back to you after we just got rid of it a couple years ago,&rdquo; Steele said.</p><p dir="ltr">Preckwinkle said she would officially introduce the proposal at the full county board meeting Wednesday, with a hearing set for July 8. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s city politics reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 18:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/preckwinkle-may-reevaluate-sales-tax-plan-if-springfield-acts-pensions-112291 At eleventh hour, CPS makes huge pension payment http://www.wbez.org/news/eleventh-hour-cps-makes-huge-pension-payment-112290 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/madigan_1_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-8f7b37b5-46c0-8279-17ad-1b39333078ba"><em>UPDATED July 1, 7:53 a.m.&nbsp;</em></p><p dir="ltr">The head of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund says Chicago Public Schools deposited the full $634 million into the pension fund Tuesday evening.</p><p>&ldquo;The need for long-term solutions is not erased with this payment,&rdquo; CTPF&rsquo;s executive director Charles Burbridge said in a statement.</p><p dir="ltr">But with that payment, according to CPS officials, comes more borrowing and 1,400 layoffs of school district employees.</p><p>Illinois&rsquo; powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan said Tuesday the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools would pay the hundreds of millions of dollars that it owes to teacher pensions by the end of the day.</p><p dir="ltr">The surprise announcement came after CPS had been asking state lawmakers for a short-term reprieve from the massive $634 million payment. Last week, the House of Representatives voted down the district&rsquo;s proposal, even though it had a minority Republican support. At the time, Madigan denied he singularly defeated the proposal, even though he wields influence over many lawmakers.</p><p>On Tuesday, he said that debate was moot, as he&rsquo;d been told by &ldquo;reliable sources&rdquo; that Chicago Public Schools would make the payment, in full.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been advised by reliable sources they have cash on hand and they&rsquo;ll be in a position to make a payment by the end of the business day today,&rdquo; Madigan told reporters.</p><p>As for how the district can make this payment to its pension system and still afford bills in the near-term, Madigan said he doesn&rsquo;t know how that math will work.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There are open questions going forward in terms of paying the bills at the Chicago Board of Education,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>In a statement, interim schools CEO Jesse Ruiz criticized Springfield for failing &ldquo;to address Chicago Public Schools&rsquo; financial crisis.&rdquo; Ruiz said CPS was able to make its 2015 pension payment by borrowing money, but they&rsquo;ll also have to make an additional $200 million in cuts. CPS officials said 1,400 jobs - not just teachers - would be impacted Wednesday.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;As we have said, CPS could not make the payment and keep cuts away from the classroom, so while school will start on time, our classrooms will be impacted,&rdquo; Ruiz said.</p><p>City Hall sources said late Tuesday night that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Jesse Ruiz would be presenting a &ldquo;comprehensive plan that includes long-term solutions to the district&rsquo;s pension and funding inequities&rdquo; on Wednesday.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier in the day, Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave no indications to reporters in Chicago that CPS was in fact planning to pay the bill in full by the end of the day. However, he did address the impact of the pension payment on the school system&rsquo;s budget.</p><p>&ldquo;School will start, but our ability to hold the impact of finances away from the classroom, that&rsquo;s gonna change,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, Springfield lawmakers are set to hear Wednesday about a <a href="http://ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=09900SB0316sam001&amp;GA=99&amp;SessionId=88&amp;DocTypeId=SB&amp;LegID=84277&amp;DocNum=316&amp;GAID=13&amp;Session=">new</a> proposal that could funnel hundreds of millions of state funds toward CPS pensions.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>. Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/eleventh-hour-cps-makes-huge-pension-payment-112290 As budget deadline approaches, Illinois faces a government shutdown http://www.wbez.org/news/budget-deadline-approaches-illinois-faces-government-shutdown-112281 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/springfield_0_2_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A budget standoff that could interrupt some state services beginning Wednesday is worth the pain if it yields fundamental business and political changes in Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner says.</p><p>Turning the Democrats&#39; phrase of his reform proposals against them, the Republican governor said Tuesday the initiatives he continues to insist upon are &quot;extreme common sense.&quot;</p><p>The new governor made the rounds at state agencies Tuesday to speak to employees as he and Democratic leaders in the General Assembly girded for the new fiscal year amid continuing disagreement on how to fund state operations.</p><p>Lawmakers were in session Tuesday. The House planned to take testimony from 15 key state agencies on how they plan to weather a &quot;shutdown&quot; with no budget deal, but had retired to private party caucus meetings early in the afternoon.</p><p>Democrats want to find the revenue necessary to cover what they say are vital operations, while Rauner first demands rule-changes in liability lawsuits and worker-injury compensation, along with term limits for politicians and an impartial method for drawing political district lines.</p><p>The Legislature sent him a $36 billion spending plan that Democrats acknowledged was up to $4 billion out of balance, but argued Rauner could reduce spending in areas he saw fit to keep government moving ahead while talks continue. The governor vetoed the bulk of that plan last week.</p><p>To Rauner, who&#39;s in the midst of his first state budget battle, the changes are essential to producing more tax revenue and keeping spending in check. To Democrats, they&#39;re &quot;extreme.&quot;</p><p>&quot;They&#39;re extreme common sense,&quot; Rauner told reporters after talking to Illinois Emergency Management Agency employees. He repeated his Monday promise to see that workers get paid even without agreement on a spending plan, a scenario the Democratic attorney general later said lacked legal precedent.</p><p>&quot;What is extreme in Illinois is our property tax burden, what is extreme is our deficit and our debt, what is extreme is our low economic growth, our low rate of job creation and our high rate of conflicts of interest inside government,&quot; he said.</p><p>If Wednesday comes without a budget, there is money enough to pay 65,000 state employees through mid-July. But it&#39;s likely some services provided by government contractors will begin shutting down or stop because payments will cease.</p><p>Rauner dismissed the idea that the anticipated confusion and commotion surrounding a shutdown could cause more harm.</p><p>&quot;We need structural reform and see, change is hard,&quot; Rauner said. &quot;But we need to have change. If all we&#39;re going to do is keep the status quo, and if all we do is raise taxes to cover up the status quo, we&#39;ll continue in our long-term slow decline and the people of Illinois deserve better than that.&quot;</p></p> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 08:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/budget-deadline-approaches-illinois-faces-government-shutdown-112281 Local brewery turns off the tap for Trump http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/local-brewery-turns-tap-trump-112272 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/13399992435_df2dc078d0_k.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Local microbrewery <a href="http://www.5rabbitbrewery.com/">5 Rabbit Cerveceria</a> is cutting ties with Chicago&#39;s Trump Tower lounge in ongoing fallout over Donald Trump&#39;s recent <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/24/politics/donald-trump-ivanka-trump-mexicans-immigrants/">comments about Mexican immigrants.</a></p><p dir="ltr">The Latin American-born owners of the Bedford Park brewery had been making a house beer for Trump Tower&acute;s Rebar for the past few months. It was a joint effort with the restaurant&rsquo;s bar manager, and the relationship had been going well according to 5 Rabbit founder and co-owner Andres Araya.</p><p dir="ltr">But after the presidential hopeful characterized Mexican immigrants largely as criminals and &ldquo;rapists&rdquo; in a speech earlier this month, Araya and his partners decided to end the relationship.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We would be doing an injustice to the community we serve (and live in) by engaging in business with someone who does not accept our role in society and expresses a rhetoric of hate and ignorance towards us,&rdquo; Araya wrote in a statement to WBEZ Monday.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;On a personal level, if I did, one of the things that scares me the most is sending the wrong message to my daughters. We are active members of this immigrant community and we need to stand up for ourselves, and more importantly, for those who do not have the voice or means to do so. The very foundation of the United States of America was built on acceptance and inclusion. &nbsp;That is what drew us here, and that&acute;s what why we feel so strongly about this.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;As a company, an integral part of our vision reads that we are &lsquo;not only based in, but also look to promote a strong and positive image of Latin America, its heritage and people.&rsquo;</p><p dir="ltr">It would be hypocritical of us to sustain the relationship.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Araya says that the 50 remaining kegs of the summer golden ale will be sold to bars around town under the name &ldquo;(Expletive) Tu Pelo.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Trump, who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, was in town on Monday to give a speech to the City Club of Chicago. Asked if he had any regrets over the comments on Mexico, Trump stood firm. He said that every time he talks about Mexico he&rsquo;s &ldquo;accused of being a racist.&rdquo; Then he cited a figure from the <em>Huffington Post </em>saying that 80 percent of girls smuggled from Central America are raped.</p><p dir="ltr">Across the street from the City Club speech, Mexican Americans staged an anti-Trump protest calling him a racist and urging NBC to cut ties with the reality TV star.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">NBC said Monday that it is ending its business relationship with mogul and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump because of comments he made about immigrants during the announcement of his campaign.</p><p>NBC said it would no longer air the annual &quot;Miss USA&quot; and &quot;Miss Universe&quot; pageants, which had been a joint venture between the company and Trump. Trump has said he is no longer appearing in the television show &quot;The Apprentice.&quot; NBC said &quot;Celebrity Apprentice&quot; will continue to go on without him.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values. Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump,&quot; NBC said in the statement.</p><p dir="ltr">Last week Spanish language network Univision called Trump&rsquo;s comments &ldquo;insulting&rdquo; and announced it will not air the Miss USA pageant next month. Trump is part owner of the pageant and said Monday he still doesn&rsquo;t know what will happen with that deal.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> @monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org. </em></p><p><em>Yolanda Perdomo and The Associated Press contributed to this report.&nbsp;</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>UPDATE On Tuesday Five Rabbit sent over a list of the restaurants and bars that will serve the beer:</em></p><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="257"><colgroup><col /><col /></colgroup><tbody><tr height="21"><td height="21" style="height:21px;width:88px;">&nbsp;</td><td style="width:169px;">&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">1.</td><td>A Toda Madre&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">2.</td><td>Bad Apple&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">3.</td><td>Bar On Buena</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">4.</td><td>Beer House&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">5.</td><td>Beer Market&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">6.</td><td>Blarney Stone&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">7.</td><td>Burger Antics&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">8.</td><td>Café Salsa&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">9.</td><td>Cellar Door&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">10.</td><td>Dusek&#39;s</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">11.</td><td>Farmhouse Evanston&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">12.</td><td>Fat Cat</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">13.</td><td>Fishman&#39;s&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">14.</td><td>Gino&#39;s East&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">15.</td><td>Green Lady&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">16.</td><td>Jerry&rsquo;s Andersonville&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">17.</td><td>Kuma&#39;s Corner&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">18.</td><td>Kuma&#39;s Too</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">19.</td><td>Lake Street Kitchen&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">20.</td><td>Links</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">21.</td><td>Longman &amp; Eagle&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">22.</td><td>Mama Maria&#39;s&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">23.</td><td>Maria&#39;s Packaged Goods</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">24.</td><td>Monks Pub&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">25.</td><td>Moreno&#39;s Liquors</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">26.</td><td>Pints&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">27.</td><td>Porkchop</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">28.</td><td>Randolph&#39;s Tavern&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">29.</td><td>Riverview Tavern&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">30.</td><td>Roots Handmade Pizza&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">31.</td><td>Sovereign&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">32.</td><td>Standard Market&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">33.</td><td>Stoney Point&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">34.</td><td>Tango Naperville&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">35.</td><td>Tapworks Tavern&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">36.</td><td>The Barrel&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">37.</td><td>The Kinderhook Tap&nbsp;</td></tr><tr height="21"><td align="right" height="21" style="height:21px;">38.</td><td>Village Tap&nbsp;</td></tr></tbody></table><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 11:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/local-brewery-turns-tap-trump-112272 Rauner proposal would advance $450M to help Chicago schools http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-proposal-would-advance-450m-help-chicago-schools-112271 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/raunersots02042015_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A document obtained by The Associated Press shows Gov. Bruce Rauner is offering to accelerate state grant payments to help Chicago Public Schools make a $634 million pension contribution.</p><p>A summary of the proposal prepared by the Rauner administration states the Illinois State Board of Education has identified $450 million in grants that could be provided to CPS this week. The money normally would be distributed over the course of the fiscal year and for other purposes.</p><p>CPS faces a Tuesday deadline to make the pension payment.</p><p>The Illinois House voted down a plan last week to give the cash-strapped district an additional 40 days to make the payment.</p><p>A spokesman for Rauner declined to comment. Mayor Rahm Emanuel&#39;s office didn&#39;t immediately respond to a request for comment.</p></p> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 09:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-proposal-would-advance-450m-help-chicago-schools-112271 For same-sex marriage opponents, the fight is far from over http://www.wbez.org/news/same-sex-marriage-opponents-fight-far-over-112270 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/whitehouseap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Supreme Court decision Friday that upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry was one for the history books.&nbsp;Obergefell v. Hodges&nbsp;was exalted by gay rights groups and their supporters, and condemned by those who believe that marriage should be reserved for one man and one woman.</p><p>Opponents of same-sex marriage say that the fight is far from over.</p><p>In fact, many of them did not wait long before raising the idea of passing a constitutional amendment to ban it. The prospect that the attempt will prove successful seems unlikely, though. Constitutional amendments are easy to talk about but rarely enacted &mdash; and polls show that a clear majority of Americans support the right of LGBT people to marry.</p><p>Still, opponents say that there are other avenues to pursue &mdash; in Congress, state legislatures and the courts.</p><p>Brian Brown, president of the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nationformarriage.org/">National Organization for Marriage</a>, compares this week&#39;s Supreme Court opinion to the landmark&nbsp;Roe v. Wade&nbsp;decision making abortion a legal right. A future court, he says, could revisit the issue.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s why it&#39;s critical that people of faith, others who understand that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, get out and support candidates that are committed to overturning this decision,&quot; Brown says.</p><p>More immediately, advocates on both sides say that the battle will now be fought in the lower courts and will involve religious liberty cases.</p><p><a href="http://ratiochristi.org/people/jeremy-tedesco">Jeremy Tedesco</a>&nbsp;of the Alliance Defending Freedom &mdash; a group representing a Colorado bakery owner who was sued after refusing for religious reasons to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple &mdash; also represents clients in several other, similar cases. Following the&nbsp;Obergefell&nbsp;ruling, he expects that same-sex marriage advocates will step up their legal challenges.</p><p>&quot;I think their efforts, as we&#39;ve seen already, are primarily targeted at businesses that are owned by religious folks who object to creating expression or are being forced to participate in marriage ceremonies that violate their religious beliefs,&quot; he says.</p><p>Opponents of same-sex marriage say that there will be a push now in state legislatures to adopt laws protecting those business owners who argue their religious beliefs prevent them from serving same-sex couples. But that&#39;s likely to be an uphill climb.</p><p>Arizona&#39;s conservative Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a religious freedom law last year, saying that it was too divisive. A few months ago, Indiana quickly rewrote its religious freedom law and added protections for sexual orientation to head off a threatened boycott.</p><p>The battle is likely to be about more than bakeries, printers and flower shops. Marcy Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva University&#39;s Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, says that the Supreme Court decision clearly makes exemptions for churches and ministers who don&#39;t want to preside over marriages of same-sex couples.</p><p>&quot;But I think what we&#39;ll see is a push for religious nonprofits, not just houses of worship,&quot; she says, &quot;to be able to get exemptions from having to provide services to same-sex couples.&quot;</p><p>To that end, same-sex marriage opponents are looking to Congress and a bill called the First Amendment Defense Act, or FADA.</p><p>Brown says that the bill would protect businesses and nonprofits &mdash; so-called 501(c)(3) groups &mdash; that refuse to provide services to same sex couples.</p><p>&quot;That means they cannot be stripped of the right for federal contracts,&quot; he says. &quot;They cannot be stripped of their 501(c)(3) status. They cannot be treated as if they are the functional equivalent of racists.&quot;</p><p>In his majority opinion,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf">Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote&nbsp;</a>that religious groups have a constitutionally protected right to advocate against same-sex marriage:</p><blockquote><div><p>&quot;It must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.</p><p>&quot;The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.&quot;</p></div></blockquote><p>Tedesco says that&#39;s a message from the court that the dispute over same-sex marriage is not like earlier battles over racial discrimination.</p><p>&quot;Culturally, we have to make the case that these things are completely different,&quot; Tedesco says. &quot;And I think the Supreme Court rightly recognized that, by recognizing that people who believe this do so in good faith.&quot;</p><p>For those who oppose this week&#39;s Supreme Court decision, that may be the most important battle.</p><p><em>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/06/27/418038177/for-same-sex-marriage-opponents-the-fight-is-far-from-over">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Sun, 28 Jun 2015 20:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/same-sex-marriage-opponents-fight-far-over-112270 After marriage equality, what's next for the LGBT movement? http://www.wbez.org/news/after-marriage-equality-whats-next-lgbt-movement-112269 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/prideap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Amid celebrations about the Supreme Court&#39;s decision legalizing gay marriage, some within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are also raising concerns about what may lie ahead for them.</p><p>J. Bryan Lowder, an editor at&nbsp;Slate,&nbsp;outlined his own concerns earlier this week in a piece that he published before the Supreme Court decision, titled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2015/06/25/some_unintended_consequences_of_marriage_equality_worth_taking_seriously.html">&quot;The Real Dangers of Same-Sex Marriage</a>.&quot; In the article, he writes the he is &quot;worrying ... about what the solidly established right to marriage might do to queer people and to the unique community we&#39;ve created over the past century or so.&quot;</p><p>Aside from marriage, &quot;there are many other issues in the community that are more important to certain individuals,&quot; Lowder tells NPR&#39;s Arun Rath. Marriage &quot;is a very happy kind of cause,&quot; he says, and &quot;I do worry that once marriage equality is done, we&#39;re going to lose some of the allies that we&#39;ve had in the past because it&#39;s just not as fun to be involved in it.&quot;</p><div><hr /></div><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Interview Highlights</span></p><p><strong>On why marriage may not be right for everyone</strong></p><p>In some cases, couples don&#39;t want to get married, they would prefer to have the domestic partnership. And that can be for ideological reasons, they may not, sort of, like the institution of marriage.</p><p>But also, in certain states where there are no discrimination protections for LGBT people, you know, there&#39;s the line that says, &quot;If you get married on Sunday, you could get fired on Monday.&quot; So forcing people, in a sense, to get married by getting rid of these domestic partnership agreements could make them have to come out to their communities ... [putting them] in danger of being discriminated against.</p><p><strong>On implications for future support for other LGBT causes</strong></p><p>The interesting thing about marriage as a social cause over the past few decades or so has been that it is a very happy kind of cause. It&#39;s easy to brand it as a beautiful thing because we all love to see pictures of people being happy and in love. It&#39;s very easy to share on social media, which ... incidentally [has] arisen alongside the marriage equality movement. And so marriage in some ways has been an easy sell. I don&#39;t want to overstate that, because obviously there&#39;s been a lot of intense activism to get to the point we got to.</p><p>But the things that are coming up for the LGBT community next &mdash; such as discrimination or trans-phobia &mdash; all the things we&#39;re coming to next in our movement are just not as easily shareable and happy. So I do worry that once marriage equality is done, we&#39;re going to lose some of the allies that we&#39;ve had in the past because it&#39;s just not as fun to be involved in it. And I hope that&#39;s not true, but I think it could happen.</p><p><strong>On other LGBT issues that deserve attention</strong></p><p>A lot of, for instance, trans[gender] individuals would much rather have more protections for their particular issues than for marriage equality. Also, LGBT homelessness among youth is a huge problem in this country, in cases where parents kick people out for identifying as queer. So fixing that problem might be a more immediate concern for those individuals than, you know, getting married. ... There are many other issues in the community that are more important to certain individuals.</p><p><strong>What marriage may mean for gay culture</strong></p><p>Because gay people and lesbian people and the entire community did not have the ability to get married, that was not a goal within the community. So you didn&#39;t grow up as a gay kid hoping for your wedding, because it just wasn&#39;t a possibility. Some people may have wanted it, but most of us, you know, just didn&#39;t think about it because it wasn&#39;t on the table.</p><p>And so, I think that that allowed us to imagine different ways of being in romantic relationships and loving. So for some of us, that meant monogamous relationships that looked exactly like a married couple, and just didn&#39;t have the legal imprimatur of the state. But for other people, they had many different kinds of arrangements.</p><p>And so what I do worry about is, with this opportunity being offered to everyone now &mdash; which is clearly a great thing &mdash; maybe we will lose some of that imagination that the gay community has had in the past to think about how to live in different ways and, you know, really offer a critique to straight culture of how we can arrange our romantic lives.</p><p><em>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/06/28/418327652/after-marriage-equality-whats-next-for-the-lgbt-movement">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Sun, 28 Jun 2015 19:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/after-marriage-equality-whats-next-lgbt-movement-112269