WBEZ | Politics http://www.wbez.org/news/politics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Controversial Netanyahu speech is latest glitch in U.S.-Israel relations http://www.wbez.org/news/controversial-netanyahu-speech-latest-glitch-us-israel-relations-111648 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ap410033752031_wide-5b5c6c6f496eafa21a0e1548a1385ca9d17f36f7-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Israel&#39;s Prime Minister is expected to deliver a stern warning when he speaks to a joint meeting of Congress Tuesday morning. Benjamin Netanyahu says the nuclear deal that the U.S. and other countries are pursuing with Iran could threaten Israel&#39;s survival.</p><p>That&#39;s not a new message from Netanyahu, but it&#39;s drawing extra attention because of the way the speech came about: Republican congressional leaders invited the prime minister with no involvement from the White House.</p><p>&quot;Never has so much been written about a speech that hasn&#39;t been given,&quot; Netanyahu joked on Monday&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/03/02/390144135/u-s-israel-partnership-transcends-politics-ambassador-power-says">during a sneak preview f</a>or the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.</p><p>Some Democratic lawmakers plan to boycott Tuesday&#39;s speech. Vice President Joe Biden, who would ordinarily attend, is conveniently out of the country. President Obama has also declined to meet with Netanyahu, citing Israel&#39;s election in just over two weeks.</p><p>Netanyahu tried to downplay the dispute as a disagreement within the U.S.-Israeli family. And like a lot of family disagreements, this one has a long history. The friction dates to at least 2010 when the Israeli government embarrassed the White House by announcing controversial plans for settlement construction in East Jerusalem during a visit by Vice President Biden.</p><p>The following year, Obama was inadvertently recorded disparaging Netanyahu while meeting with the leader of France.</p><p>During the 2012 re-election campaign, Netanyahu hosted a chummy dinner for Obama&#39;s Republican rival Mitt Romney. And when Israel responded to rocket attacks last summer by moving troops into Gaza, Obama offered only qualified support, warning the U.S. and its allies were &quot;deeply concerned&quot; about &quot;the loss of more innocent life.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I describe it as an ongoing series of soap opera episodes,&quot;says Aaron David Miller, a Middle East scholar at the Wilson Center. He added the repeated clashes between Obama and Netanyahu result not just from different personalities but from two very different strategic visions &mdash; especially when it comes to Iran and its nuclear program.</p><p>Obama has long argued that diplomacy is the best way to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu sees little room to negotiate with a country that has pledged to destroy Israel. He worries the longer talks go on, the closer Iran might come to carrying out its threat.</p><p>&quot;American leaders worry about the security of their country. Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country,&quot; Netanyahu told AIPAC.</p><p>America&#39;s U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power says it&#39;s natural for even close allies to disagree at times about the best way to achieve a common goal. In this case, though, the policy debate has been saddled with additional weight of partisan politics, both in the U.S. and Israel.</p><p>&quot;Debating the most effective policy both within our respective democracies and among partners is more than useful,&quot; she said. &quot;It is a necessary part of arriving at informed decisions. Politicizing that process is not. The stakes are too high for that.&quot;</p><p>Obama argued in an interview with Reuters on Monday that the timing of Netanyahu&#39;s speech makes it appear the U.S. is taking sides in Israel&#39;s upcoming election. What&#39;s more, it injects the Israeli prime minister into an ongoing foreign policy debate between Obama and his Republican critics.</p><p>Netanyahu told AIPAC he did not intend to show Obama any disrespect. &quot;The last thing that anyone who cares about Israel, the last thing that I would want, is for Israel to become a partisan issue,&quot; he said. &quot;I regret that some people have mis-perceived my visit here this week as doing that.&quot;</p><p>Netanyahu insists the friendship between the U.S. and Israel will weather this disagreement and grow stronger in the future.</p><p>Middle East scholar Miller, who served as an adviser to both Democratic and Republican administrations, agreed, calling the partnership too big to fail. But that doesn&#39;t mean it will be easy.</p><p>&quot;I think there will be an effort made over the next several days to tone this down and dial it back,&quot; Miller says. &quot;But we&#39;re talking here five years of dysfunction. That sort of rift is going to take time and a good deal of cooperation in order to mend.&quot;</p><p>Obama told Reuters that the dust-up is &quot;a distraction&quot; that&#39;s not &quot;permanently destructive&quot; to relations with Israel. He added he&#39;ll continue to work with Netanyahu in the future, if the prime minister is re-elected.</p><p><em>-via <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/03/03/390351226/netanyahu-speech-is-latest-glitch-in-u-s-israel-relations">NPR News</a></em></p></p> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 08:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/controversial-netanyahu-speech-latest-glitch-us-israel-relations-111648 The FCC's Net Neutrality vote: Here's what you need to know http://www.wbez.org/news/fccs-net-neutrality-vote-heres-what-you-need-know-111627 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ap409790524380_custom-6eb32bf55f0f5f0d01d82957ef85080a5bb1c2e1-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Later this morning, the Federal Communications Commission will take a vote on adopting new rules that would keep the Internet neutral.</p><p>Here&#39;s a guide to what all of this means.</p><p><strong>&mdash; What does net neutrality mean?</strong></p><p>Here&#39;s the Cliffs Notes version from NPR&#39;s Elise Hu:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Net neutrality is the concept that your Internet provider should be a neutral gateway to everything on the Internet, not a gatekeeper deciding to load some sites slower than others or impose fees for faster service.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>In other words, it&#39;s a concept in which Internet service providers (ISPs) don&#39;t discriminate when it comes to Internet traffic.</p><p>Without net neutrality rules, ISPs could theoretically take money from companies like Netflix or Amazon to speed up traffic to their sites.</p><p>NPR&#39;s Laura Sydell&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/01/15/262641067/court-fcc-cant-enforce-net-neutrality">explained one hypothetical like this</a>:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;More than 30 percent of Internet traffic at peak times comes from Netflix, according to studies. So Verizon might say, &#39;Netflix, you need to pay us more.&#39; Or maybe Verizon strikes a deal with Amazon and says your prime video service can get speedier delivery to the home and we&#39;re going to slow down Netflix.&quot;</p></blockquote><p><strong>&mdash; What is the FCC voting on?</strong></p><p>The Federal Communications Commission is voting on whether to reclassify broadband access as a &quot;telecommunications service under Title II.&quot;</p><p>In layman&#39;s terms, the FCC is looking to reclassify broadband as a utility, which would give the commission more regulatory power over Internet providers.</p><p><strong>&mdash; What prompted this FCC vote?</strong></p><p>Back in 2010, the FCC actually passed rules to keep the Internet neutral. But those rules were challenged by Verizon and in January of 2014,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/01/15/262641067/court-fcc-cant-enforce-net-neutrality">the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the FCC did not have the regulatory power over broadband to issue those rules</a>.</p><p>The court, however, said that the FCC could reclassify broadband and that would give it broad regulatory powers.</p><p>FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler decided&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/02/04/383782683/fcc-proposal-would-classify-internet-as-a-public-utility">to go that direction in February</a>.</p><p>Earlier this week, Republicans in Congress&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/25/technology/path-clears-for-net-neutrality-ahead-of-fcc-vote.html?_r=0">dropped opposition to the proposed rules</a>, saying they were not going to pass a bill without any Democratic support.</p><p><strong>&mdash; What would the proposed rules do?</strong></p><p>The proposed rules are pretty lengthy, but&nbsp;<a href="http://media.npr.org/documents/2015/feb/fcc-wheeler-openinternet.pdf">from an FCC fact sheet</a>, here are the three things that the rules would ban that matter most to consumers:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;<strong>No Blocking:</strong>&nbsp;broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.</p><p>&quot;<strong>No Throttling</strong>: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.</p><p>&quot;<strong>No Paid Prioritization</strong>: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration &mdash; in other words, no &#39;fast lanes.&#39; This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.&quot;</p></blockquote><p><strong>&mdash; What does John Oliver have to do with all this?</strong></p><p>The comedian John Oliver brought this issue to the forefront when he dedicated 14 minutes on his program to explain why net neutrality is so important.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fpbOEoRrHyU" width="560"></iframe></p><p>He called on his viewers to write to the FCC to encourage them to adopt new rules. His call &mdash; and the enormous response &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/03/john-oliver-broke-the-fcc-website_n_5439694.html">broke the commission&#39;s website</a>.</p><p>A bunch of big Internet sites &mdash; Netflix, Etsy and Foursquare among them &mdash; joined the chorus in September when they took part in &quot;Internet Slowdown Day,&quot;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/09/10/347157134/your-favorite-sites-will-slow-down-today-for-a-cause">presenting their users with symbolic loading icons</a>&nbsp;&quot;to remind everyone what an Internet without net neutrality would look like.&quot;</p><p><strong>&mdash; When is the FCC voting?</strong></p><p>The FCC is voting during an open meeting at 10:30 a.m. ET. The commission is<a href="http://www.fcc.gov/live">providing a live stream of its meeting here</a>.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/02/26/389089145/the-fccs-net-neutrality-vote-heres-what-you-need-to-know">http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/02/26/389089145/the-fccs-net-neutrality-vote-heres-what-you-need-to-know</a>-via NPR News</em></p></p> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 08:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/fccs-net-neutrality-vote-heres-what-you-need-know-111627 Photos from Election Night in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/photos-election-night-chicago-111619 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/chuyfan3_ag.jpg" alt="" /><p></p> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/photos-election-night-chicago-111619 Chicago campaign finance tracker http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-campaign-finance-tracker-111618 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/money_flickr_401k 2012.PNG" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://wbez.org/campaigncash">Explore the cash spent on Chicago&#39;s municipal campaigns.</a></p></p> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-campaign-finance-tracker-111618 Election officials report light voter turnout in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/election-officials-report-light-voter-turnout-chicago-111617 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ballot receipt_me_1.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Election officials in Chicago say they expect turnout in the city&#39;s municipal election to fall well below 2011 levels, when the mayor&#39;s race was wide open.</p><p>Four years ago, about 42 percent of eligible Chicago voters cast ballots. Mayor Richard Daley had retired after more than two decades in office. In municipal contests before 2007, the turnout hovered around 33 percent.</p><p>Chicago Board of Election Commissioners spokesman Jim Allen says turnout reports are citywide, including wards where there are uncontested races. He says there could be an evening rush.</p><p>The cold and wind might be keeping some away. The temperature was 8 degrees with a wind chill of 8 below when polls opened.</p><p>Election officials say the anticipated lower turnout follows higher early voting numbers than in previous years.</p></p> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 17:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/election-officials-report-light-voter-turnout-chicago-111617 Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel forced into April runoff election http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mayor-rahm-emanuel-forced-april-runoff-election-111616 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" andrew="" class="image-original_image" garcia.="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rahmface_ag.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks to supporters after finding out he faces a runoff with Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" wbez="" /></div></div><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to capture a majority of the vote Tuesday in his bid for a second term, an embarrassment for the former White House chief of staff who now faces a runoff this spring against Cook County Commissioner Jesus &quot;Chuy&quot; Garcia.</p><p>The result exposed possible vulnerability for an incumbent who has widespread support from business leaders, national name recognition and raised millions of dollars in campaign funds. He participated in half a dozen debates and forums and received a last-minute boost from President Barack Obama.</p><p>Still, he wasn&#39;t able to capture the more than 50 percent necessary to avoid an April 7 runoff against Garcia, a former alderman and state senator, who finished far below Emanuel&#39;s vote total but far above the other three challengers.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" an="" andrew="" april="" class="image-original_image" election="" emanuel="" face="" garcia="" in="" ll="" mayor="" mean="" rahm="" rallies="" response="" results="" runoff.="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chuyspeech_ag.jpg" style="height: 434px; width: 620px;" supporters="" that="" the="" title="Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia rallies supporters in response to the election results that mean he'll face Mayor Rahm Emanuel in an April runoff. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" to="" wbez="" /></div><p>&quot;We have come a long way, and we have a little bit further to go,&quot; Emanuel told supporters. &quot;This is the first step in a real important journey for our city.&quot;</p><p>Nodding to the themes in the weeks ahead, Emanuel noted the city&#39;s immigrant history after a bilingual address by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat who&#39;s been prominent in the national push for immigration reform and once was a critic of Emanuel.</p><p>Garcia, born in Mexico and raised in Chicago, got his start in politics as an immigrant rights activist in the city. He was a water commissioner under the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington.</p><p>&quot;This city needs a mayor who will listen to people,&quot; Garcia told supporters, noting his support from neighborhood residents.</p><p>Garcia and Emanuel&#39;s other challengers &mdash; Alderman Bob Fioretti, businessman Willie Wilson and activist William Walls &mdash; had hoped to capitalize on resident discontentment over Emanuel&#39;s handling of schools and city violence.</p><p>Emanuel pushed for the closure of about 50 neighborhood schools in 2013, a year after the city&#39;s first teachers&#39; strike in 25 years. The Chicago Teachers Union &mdash; whose fiery leader had once considered a bid to challenge Emanuel &mdash; backed Garcia during the race as the alternative to Emanuel.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/luis_ag.JPG" style="height: 434px; width: 620px;" title="Rep. Luis Gutierrez spoke in support of Rahm Emanuel on election night. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>Voters noted both issues at the polls, with early estimates signaling lower turnout than 2011 after former Mayor Richard Daley retired and the mayor&#39;s race was wide open. About 42 percent of eligible voters came to the polls.</p><p>Joyce Rodgers, who is retired, said she believed the school closings cost Emanuel the trust of the African-American community &mdash; and possibly the president&#39;s.</p><p>&quot;There is total disappointment (in Emanuel),&quot; she said. &quot;I believe that Obama&#39;s been let down, too, he&#39;s just not going to say it.&quot;</p><p>Still others in the South Side neighborhood of Englewood said they were supporting Emanuel because he is positive on issues such as job creation, education and safer neighborhoods.</p><p>&quot;Rahm has all (those) contacts and he is getting those corporations here, so he is giving people hope they can get a good job,&quot; said Willie King, a 56-year-old retired janitor.</p><p>On the campaign trail, Emanuel said his first term saw some tough decisions and payoffs, including budgets that didn&#39;t rely on property tax increases, drawing business to the city, getting a longer school day and raising the minimum wage.</p><p>The non-partisan election on Tuesday also featured contests for a new city treasurer, aldermen and advisory-style ballot questions on campaign finance and an elected school board.</p><p>Emanuel won his first mayoral race without a runoff four years ago. He ran an intense re-election bid, raising roughly $16 million, more than four times his challengers combined.</p><p>He vowed to hit the campaign trail on Wednesday morning, shaking hands at El train stops as he&#39;s been doing.</p><p>&quot;We will get back out there, talking to our friends and families and neighbors as they make a critical choice about who has the strength, who has the leadership, who has the ideas to move this great city forward,&quot; Emanuel said.</p></p> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 17:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mayor-rahm-emanuel-forced-april-runoff-election-111616 Results: 2015 Chicago municipal election http://www.wbez.org/news/results-2015-chicago-municipal-election-111614 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ballot receipt_me_0.PNG" alt="" /><p><div id="all"><a name="all"></a></div><script type="text/javascript" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/scripts/pym.js"></script><script> var pymGov = new pym.Parent('all', 'http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/files/elections/2015/by_state/IL_Page_0224.html?SITE=2015ELECTIONS&SECTION=POLITICS', {}); </script></p> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 17:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/results-2015-chicago-municipal-election-111614 AP: Lawmaker Aaron Schock billed private planes, concerts to taxpayers http://www.wbez.org/news/ap-lawmaker-aaron-schock-billed-private-planes-concerts-taxpayers-111608 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/shock.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock, a rising Republican star already facing an ethics inquiry, has spent taxpayer and campaign funds on flights aboard private planes owned by some of his key donors, The Associated Press has found. There also have been other expensive travel and entertainment charges, including for a massage company and music concerts.</p><p>The expenses highlight the relationships that lawmakers sometimes have with donors who fund their political ambitions, an unwelcome message for a congressman billed as a fresh face of the GOP. The AP identified at least one dozen flights worth more than $40,000 on donors&#39; planes since mid-2011.</p><p>The AP tracked Schock&#39;s reliance on the aircraft partly through the congressman&#39;s penchant for uploading pictures and videos of himself to his Instagram account. The AP extracted location data associated with each image then correlated it with flight records showing airport stopovers and expenses later billed for air travel against Schock&#39;s office and campaign records.</p><p>Asked for comment, Schock responded in an email on Monday that he travels frequently throughout his Peoria-area district &quot;to stay connected with my constituents&quot; and also travels to raise money for his campaign committee and congressional colleagues.</p><p>He said he takes compliance with congressional funding rules seriously and has begun a review of his office&#39;s procedures &quot;concerning this issue and others to determine whether they can be improved.&quot; The AP had been seeking comment from Schock&#39;s office since mid-February to explain some of his expenses.</p><p>Donors who owned planes on which travel was paid for by Schock&#39;s House and political accounts did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment Monday.</p><p>Schock&#39;s high-flying lifestyle, combined with questions about expenses decorating his office after the TV show &quot;Downton Abbey,&quot; add to awkward perceptions on top of allegations he illegally solicited donations in 2012.</p><p>The Office of Congressional Ethics said in a 2013 report that there was reason to believe Schock violated House rules by soliciting campaign contributions for a committee that backed Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., in a 2012 primary. The House Ethics Committee has said that query remains open.</p><p>&quot;Haters are gonna hate,&quot; Schock, 33, told ABC News after the &quot;Downton Abbey&quot; story broke in The Washington Post, brushing off the controversy by invoking a line from one of pop singer Taylor Swift&#39;s songs.</p><p>Lawmakers can use office funds for private flights as long as payments cover their share of the costs. But most of the flights Schock covered with office funds occurred before the House changed its rules in January 2013. The earlier rules prohibited lawmakers from using those accounts to pay for flights on private aircraft, allowing payments only for federally licensed charter and commercial flights.</p><p>Schock&#39;s House account paid more than $24,000 directly to a Peoria aviation firm for eight flights provided by one of Schock&#39;s donor&#39;s planes in 2011 and 2012. While the aircraft flies as part of an Illinois charter service, the owner of the service told the AP on Monday that any payments made directly to the donor&#39;s aviation company would not have been for charter flights.</p><p>Beyond air travel, Schock spent thousands more on tickets for concerts, car mileage reimbursements &mdash; among the highest in Congress &mdash; and took his interns to a sold-out Katy Perry concert in Washington last June.</p><p>The donor planes include an Italian-made Piaggio twin-engine turboprop owned by Todd Green of Springfield, Illinois, who runs car dealerships in Schock&#39;s district with his brother, Jeff. Todd Green told a Springfield newspaper that Jeff &mdash; a pilot and campaign contributor &mdash; and Schock have been friends for a long time.</p><p>The AP found that Green&#39;s plane traveled to at least eight cities last October in the Midwest and East Coast, cities where Schock met with political candidates ahead of the midterm elections. His Instagram account&#39;s location data and information from the service FlightAware even pinpointed Schock&#39;s location on a stretch of road near one airport before Green&#39;s plane departed.</p><p>Campaign records show a $12,560 expense later that month to Jeff Green from a political action committee associated with Schock, called the &quot;GOP Generation Y Fund.&quot; That same month, the PAC paid $1,440 to a massage parlor for a fundraising event.</p><p>In November 2013, Schock cast votes in the Capitol just after Green&#39;s plane landed at nearby Reagan National Airport. Shortly after Green&#39;s return to Peoria, Schock posted a photo from his &quot;Schocktoberfest&quot; fundraising event at a brewery in his district. Schock billed his office account $11,433 for commercial transportation during that same, four-day period to a Peoria flight company, Byerly Aviation.</p><p>The AP&#39;s review covered Schock&#39;s travel and entertainment expenses in his taxpayer-funded House account, in his campaign committee and the GOP Generation Y Fund. Records show more than $1.5 million in contributions to the Generation Y Fund since he took office in 2009.</p><p>Schock used House office expenses to pay more than $24,000 for eight flights between May 2011 and December 2012 on a six-passenger Cessna Golden Eagle owned by D&amp;B Jet Inc., run by Peoria agribusiness consultant and major Schock donor Darren Frye. While D&amp;B is a private corporate aviation firm, it also flies with Jet Air Inc., an Illinois-based aviation firm licensed by the FAA for charter service.</p><p>Records show Schock used House funds to directly pay D&amp;B instead of Jet Air for the eight flights. Under the old rules that previously allowed House funds to pay only for charter or commercial aircraft, Schock&#39;s office would likely not have been authorized to pay for private flights unless the House Ethics Committee approved it.</p><p>Harrel W. Timmons, Jet Air&#39;s owner, said in a telephone interview that any charter flights D&amp;B flies through his firm are paid directly to Jet Air. &quot;They&#39;ve got their own corporate jet and pilot,&quot; he said.</p><p>House records also show that, since 2013, Schock has flown four times on a Cessna owned by Peoria auto dealer Michael J. Miller and businessman Matthew Vonachen, who heads a janitorial firm, Vonachen Services Inc. Schock&#39;s House office account paid nearly $6,000 total for the four flights, according to federal data published online by the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation.</p><p>Under current House rules, the payments for the private flights would be authorized if they paid for Schock&#39;s portion of each flight. It is not clear from records how many other passengers flew on the same flights. USA Today on Friday first reported potential issues with House ethics rules in revealing some of the flights.</p><p>Vonachen and his family donated at least $27,000 to Schock&#39;s campaigns, while Miller contributed $10,000 to the Automotive Free International Trade PAC. Schock has supported recent free trade agreements with South Korea and with several other countries, which the Automotive PAC &mdash; a Schock contributor &mdash; lauded.</p><p>Schock&#39;s reliance on donor-owned planes is the most recent example of lawmaker use of donors&#39; planes for transportation. After Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. took two 2010 flights on a private jet owned by a wealthy eye doctor and major donor, a 2013 ethics investigation prompted his $58,500 personal reimbursement to the donor for the flights. His office noted Monday that Menendez did not use taxpayer funds to pay for the flights.</p><p>GOP Generation Y paid more than $24,000 for tickets and festivals, including $13,000 to country music events, $4,700 in expenses to Chicago ticket broker SitClose.com, and $3,000 for a &quot;fundraising event&quot; to an organization that runs the Global Citizen Festival in New York.</p><p>&quot;You can&#39;t say no when your boss invites you. Danced my butt off,&quot; one former intern posted on his Instagram account with a picture of Perry at her June 2014 show. PAC records show a $1,928 expense for the ticket service StubHub.com two months later, listing it only as a &quot;PAC fundraising event.&quot;</p><p>Records show Schock also requested more than $18,000 in mileage reimbursements since 2013, among the highest in Congress. His office has previously said it was reviewing those expenses.</p></p> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 22:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ap-lawmaker-aaron-schock-billed-private-planes-concerts-taxpayers-111608 Inaccurate voter data could hurt Asian voter blocs, other ethnic groups http://www.wbez.org/news/inaccurate-voter-data-could-hurt-asian-voter-blocs-other-ethnic-groups-111605 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ward.PNG" style="height: 274px; width: 620px;" title="File: A map on the wall of a Chicago campaign office. Many campaigns use the same source to find likely voters, but the advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice worries inaccurate data diminishes minority voter blocs' appeal. (WBEZ/Derek John)" />The staff at Asian Americans Advancing Justice has been busy registering new voters and planning their exit poll strategy for Tuesday. The organization wants to increase visibility for the Asian community.</p><p>But Kathleen Yang-Clayton with the organization says that&rsquo;s difficult when even the staff is misidentified.</p><p>&ldquo;He identifies as Japanese-American, multi-racial and he was listed as African American,&rdquo; Yang-Clayton said of one of her co-workers.</p><p>Many campaigns and advocacy groups like Advancing Justice use a database to target voters. Yang-Clayton took a little sample in her office, researching all of her co-workers, most of them Asian. Exactly half of the 14 were incorrectly identified.</p><p>&ldquo;Brian Hara who also identifies as Japanese-American was listed as Caucasian, Irish,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Chicago has more than 1.4 million registered voters. The database shows just over 35,000 Asians are among the voting population.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s already what we empirically have experienced as being under counts,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>When you register to vote, you give your name and address. You check a box saying you&rsquo;re a citizen and if you&rsquo;re of legal age. But campaigns know more about you than that -- like your race, age, past voting behavior.</p><p>&ldquo;I can also see household income and the car that you drive and some cases, your magazine subscription. And I can use this information to find out what you might be interested in,&rdquo; said Michael Miller, an assistant professor in political science at Barnard College.</p><p>Miller has worked on a number of campaigns as a strategist. The refined information he&rsquo;s talking about is called micro-targeting. He says any campaign that wants to be successful needs this.</p><p>&ldquo;You can cut turf so that you can have walkers just dropping literature for the people who you know are going to vote for you,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Maybe a reminder to go out to vote. Others are going to be trying to have conversations with folks the campaign thinks are persuadable.&rdquo;</p><p>Miller says the main database website Democratic campaigns use is maintained by a Washington, D.C.-based organization called NGP VAN. It&rsquo;s the same one Yang-Clayton uses.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Testing out the voter database &mdash; one hit, one miss</span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/san%20for%20cms.PNG" style="height: 346px; width: 620px;" title="A view of the voter information stored in a database commonly used by local campaigns. (Courtesy of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago)" /></div><p>Just to test it out, we entered my name into the database. The information showed my race as Asian and ethnicity as Korean. That&rsquo;s correct. But then we entered in the name of my colleague Odette Yousef. The database said her race is Hispanic and her ethnicity is Mexican. Odette is actually of Middle Eastern descent.</p><p>These data errors might seem a little funny, but Yang-Clayton says the difference in numbers could dictate the way campaigns do outreach and the language they do it in.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;ve seen in the data we use from VAN is that when there&rsquo;s a systematic undercounting, the impression that&rsquo;s given is that Asian Americans don&rsquo;t vote. So why make the effort,&rdquo; she asked.</p><p><span style="font-size: 24px;">Voter database only meant as &#39;starting point&#39;</span></p><p>Bryan Whitaker with NGP VAN, the company that maintains the database website, says the voter lists are generally good, but admits there are flaws across the board, not just for Asians.</p><p>Whitaker says he lives in a predominantly African-American community in Washington, D.C.</p><p>Whitaker, a white man, says campaigns try to appeal to him as if he is African-American. He says he&rsquo;s likely misidentified as being black because of his neighborhood.</p><p>He says the data is collected and analyzed by a separate group. They collect information from boards of election, marketing research and the U.S. Census. However, census data is based on the census tract and not at an individual level.</p><p>Whitaker says the lists are meant to be used as a starting point for campaigns.</p><p>&ldquo;A successful campaign will have a volunteer in those neighborhoods who is checking the lists before they actually go out and start knocking on those doors. That&rsquo;s the quality assurance check on those lists,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Yang-Clayton says the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice is able to make corrections to their own list, but that won&rsquo;t show up system-wide. And she questions whether campaigns actually take the extra steps.</p><p>Asians make up about 5.5 percent of the city&rsquo;s population. Yang-Clayton feels data inaccuracies hurt smaller groups like this.</p><p>&ldquo;Every point that&rsquo;s shaved off because they&#39;re misidentified or you don&rsquo;t click the right radio button to add people in has a significant impact,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>She says improvements could be made with finer data or even if the state has voters self-identify themselves.</p><p>Yang-Clayton says better data could show that Asians have a bigger influence on election day.</p><p><em><a href="http://twitter.com/soosieon">Susie An</a> is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/inaccurate-voter-data-could-hurt-asian-voter-blocs-other-ethnic-groups-111605 Chicago sets early voting record in last weekend before mayoral election http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-sets-early-voting-record-last-weekend-mayoral-election-111604 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahmfistbump.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>About 90,000 Chicago voters cast their ballots during early voting, including more than 21,500 votes on Saturday, which set a single-day record for a municipal election.</p><p>Chicago voters will go to the polls Tuesday to vote for mayor, aldermen and whether the Chicago Board of Education should be elected rather than appointed by the mayor.</p><p>Other issues include paid sick leave for workers and public funding for Illinois elections.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces several challengers, including Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia, Alderman Bob Fioretti and businessman Willie Wilson. Emanuel needs more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.</p><p>Chicago residents who can&#39;t cast ballots in Tuesday&#39;s election have a chance to vote on Monday. The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners says in-person absentee voting will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.</p></p> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 08:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-sets-early-voting-record-last-weekend-mayoral-election-111604