WBEZ | Politics http://www.wbez.org/news/politics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Ex-US Speaker Hastert indicted on bank-related charges http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-us-speaker-hastert-indicted-bank-related-charges-112105 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/071018_denny_hastert_hsml_9a.grid-6x2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Federal prosecutors announced bank-related charges against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert on Thursday, accusing the 73-year-old Illinois Republican of withdrawing $952,000 in cash in a way that evaded the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000. He&#39;s also accused of lying to the FBI.</p><p>Each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney&#39;s office in Chicago.</p><p>The Associated Press left a phone message seeking comment with a person at Hastert&#39;s Washington, D.C., office. It was not immediately returned. Hastert did not immediately return a message left on his cellphone seeking comment, or respond to an email.</p><p>From 2010 to 2014, Hastert withdrew a total of approximately $1.7 million in cash from various bank accounts and provided it to a person identified only as Individual A, according to the indictment.</p><p>In December last year, &quot;Hastert falsely stated that he was keeping the cash&quot; when questioned by the FBI, the prosecutor&#39;s statement says.</p><p>Hastert, a former high school wrestling coach, was a little known lawmaker from suburban Chicago when chosen to succeed conservative Newt Gingrich as speaker. Hastert was picked after favored Louisiana Congressman Bob Livingston resigned following his admission of several sexual affairs.</p><p>As speaker, Hastert pushed President George W. Bush&#39;s legislative agenda, helping pass a massive tax cut and expanding Medicare prescription drug benefits.</p><p>He retired from Congress in 2007 after eight years as speaker, making him the longest-serving Republican House speaker.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Timeline: Dennis Hastert</span></p><p><strong>1965</strong>: Hastert begins teaching history at Yorkville High School and coaching wrestling team.</p><p><strong>1976</strong>: Hastert named Illinois Coach of the Year after leading Yorkville to state wrestling championship.</p><p><strong>1980</strong>: Hastert comes in third in Illinois state House of Representatives primary. But GOP chooses him to replace fatally ill primary winner; Hastert later wins general election.</p><p><strong>1981</strong>: Hastert leaves Yorkville teaching post.</p><p><strong>1986</strong>: GOP leaders name Hastert to replace freshman Republican U.S. Rep. John Grotberg, who was battling cancer. Hastert defeats Democratic opponent with 52 percent of vote &mdash; the closest of his many elections.</p><p><strong>1998</strong>: Hastert tells incumbent Speaker Newt Gingrich dissatisfaction in GOP ranks makes it unlikely the Georgia lawmaker will hold onto post. Gingrich resigns next day.</p><p><strong>1999</strong>: Hastert voted speaker of the House of Representatives.</p><p><strong>2007</strong>: Hastert steps down as speaker after becoming longest serving Republican in position.</p><p><strong>2007</strong>: J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government and Public Policy founded at Wheaton College</p><p><strong>2008</strong>: Hastert joins Washington lobbying firm of Dickstein Shapiro as senior adviser.</p><p><strong>2015</strong>: Hastert, 73, charged with evading bank regulations as he withdrew less than $10,000 at a time to make alleged hush money payments, according to the indictment. Hastert also charged with one count of lying to the FBI about reason for bank withdrawals.</p></p> Thu, 28 May 2015 16:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-us-speaker-hastert-indicted-bank-related-charges-112105 City planners and neighborhood residents map out Chinatown's future http://www.wbez.org/news/city-planners-and-neighborhood-residents-map-out-chinatowns-future-112103 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Chinatown-Red-Line-1_130528_LW.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><em>Updated 5:47 p.m.</em></p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-a7532958-9e1b-61c0-e76b-22587abcccbd">If city planners get their way, Chicago&rsquo;s Chinatown will be safer, cleaner, greener, livelier and more educated in decades to come.</p><p dir="ltr">On Thursday neighborhood stakeholders gave a green-light to the <a href="http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/documents/10180/59632/Chinatown%20Community%20Vision%20Plan%20-%20Low%20Resolution/0fe0fb4c-e422-4183-8f3e-ba2a78abadaa">Chinatown Community Vision Plan</a>, a comprehensive strategy with the input of more than 1,300 residents, workers and business owners, to strengthen the mostly-immigrant enclave.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re looking at this plan as a guide for people who have anything to do with the future development of the community,&rdquo; said C.W. Chan, chairperson of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (CBCAC) and co-chair of the planning effort. &ldquo;So it will be used by the government, and it will be used by the private stakeholders.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The two-year effort has been led by Chan, 25th ward alderman Daniel Solis, and planners with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;One thing that was unique about this from the start was that the community came to us and requested it,&rdquo; said Stephen Ostrander, a senior planner with CMAP. &ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t a project through the City of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Unlike Chinatowns in many other cities, Chicago&rsquo;s has been growing &mdash; with population increasing 26 percent between 2000 and 2010 &mdash; thanks in part to the continual arrival of new immigrants from mainland China. Chan said through the plan, Chinatown will not just become a more attractive place for visitors, but a more desirable place for its residents to continue to live.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When we&rsquo;re talking about economic development for the community, a lot of time we were focusing on tourists &mdash; that Chinatown is really a tourist attraction, we have to do everything possible to attract tourism,&rdquo; said Chan. &ldquo;When we started engaging and talking to people in the community, we realized that this is not just a tourist attraction.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The community vision plan talks about improving transportation, supporting businesses, and expanding green space. But it also looks at improving education and workforce development in a place where 65 percent of residents are foreign-born, and a majority struggle with English.</p><p dir="ltr">Among the plan&rsquo;s key recommendations:</p><ul dir="ltr"><li>Improve safety: Make public spaces, such as sidewalks, more attractive and lively to deter crime; improve relations between the community and police.</li><li>Transportation and circulation: Increase and beautify transit infrastructure; increase bike lanes and bike racks; assess parking needs; improve pedestrian safety at major intersections; better connect &ldquo;Old Chinatown&rdquo; (south of Cermak on Wentworth) to &ldquo;New Chinatown&rdquo; (north of Archer).</li><li>Residential community: Make Chinatown more &ldquo;age-friendly&rdquo; by enhancing access for people with wheelchairs and strollers; install more public benches; increase the number of assisted-living homes for the elderly.</li><li>Economic development: Build training and networking opportunities for small business owners; partner with city tourism organizations to market Chinatown; increase the diversity of retail.</li><li>Education and workforce: Identify documents and applications that the City should translate into Chinese; support parents in navigating and engaging with the public school system; assess the need for a high school in Chinatown; increase vocational ESL training opportunities.</li><li>Parks and public spaces: Improve park lighting and landscaping to increase safety; encourage proper waste disposal and community street cleanups; increase green spaces and streetscaping.</li><li>Future development: Consider development uses for vacant lots in and adjacent to Chinatown</li><li>Long-term capacity building: Develop a plan to continually solicit participation from Chinatown residents and stakeholders; cultivate the next generation of community leaders.</li></ul><p dir="ltr">Chan said the seed for the comprehensive plan was planted in 2012, when Chinatown celebrated its 100th anniversary. The milestone provided an opportunity not just to reflect on how the community has sustained itself, but also to consider the possibilities moving forward.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We came to realize that we have to define our rightful place in the city of Chicago, and be part of the planning and part of the development of the City of Chicago so that we can grow together with the City of Chicago and the region,&rdquo; said Chan.</p><p>There is no dollar figure attached to the plan. Community leaders plan to begin implementing it this summer.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 28 May 2015 14:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/city-planners-and-neighborhood-residents-map-out-chinatowns-future-112103 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