WBEZ | Politics http://www.wbez.org/news/politics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago SRO owners say proposed city ordinance is 'hostile' http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-sro-owners-say-proposed-city-ordinance-hostile-110775 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/SRO ordinance.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-6a96fd4e-5c8e-a95a-a0fa-12b9a087e263">A new City Hall plan to preserve <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/slow-disappearing-act-chicago-sro-105836">fast-vanishing</a> affordable housing units in single-room occupancy (SRO) and residential hotels has some Chicago SRO owners upset.</p><p>The Single-Room Occupancy and Residential Hotel Preservation Ordinance, to be introduced at Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, includes incentives to induce building owners to maintain a certain threshold of affordable units in their buildings. There are few specifics about those incentives, but much of the measure focuses on financial penalties that owners would face if the number of affordable units in their buildings falls below a mandated percentage.</p><p>&ldquo;Essentially what has happened is the city wants to change the rules in the middle of the game,&rdquo; said Eric Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Single Room Housing Assistance Corporation, which works with building owners, operators and tenants to preserve SRO housing in Chicago. &ldquo;The properties are going to be dropping substantially in value because of the proposed ordinance, as now written,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Under the proposal, owners who wish to demolish or convert their properties to market-rate rentals would be required to maintain at least 20 percent of the building&rsquo;s units as affordable, or else pay a $200,000 &ldquo;preservation fee&rdquo; for every unit that falls short of that threshold. Additionally, if an owner wishes to sell a building, it would allow non-profits first crack at purchasing it and would require the owner to engage in good-faith negotiations with those organizations. If no sale occurs within six months of notifying non-profits, then the owner may attempt to sell the property to private developers.</p><p>&ldquo;The private market often moves too quickly for these non-profits to pull together the financing,&rdquo; explained Michael Negron, Chief of Policy to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, &ldquo;and so we wanted to make sure that there was enough period of time for these organizations to actually&hellip; know a sale is coming, and then work with potential lenders, work with the city, work with the state. There are different parties that could potentially help put together a deal like that, but they just need the time to do it.&rdquo;</p><p>The proposal would allow building owners to bypass this process altogether, and to approach the private market first, if they pay a fee of $200,000 on each unit for 30 percent of the units in the building. But many current owners fear that these fines will drastically undercut the selling price of their buildings.</p><p>&ldquo;The property values will have plunged based on the market being so restricted, that the only option essentially for a current owner when he or she is ready to sell is to turn to a non-profit,&rdquo; worried Rubenstein, &ldquo;and the non-profit could offer nickels or dimes on the dollar.&rdquo;</p><p>All fees collected through the proposed ordinance would go to a preservation fund, which the city would use to assist SRO owners with defraying the cost of maintaining, developing or improving their properties. Negron said, additionally, that the city already may have existing resources to preserve at least 700 SRO units through the end of 2018. He said owners may call the city&rsquo;s Department of Planning and Development to discuss rental subsidies from the Low Income Housing Trust Fund, and financing from TIF districts and low-interest loans, to maintain affordability.</p><p>Rubenstein said he and other building owners had hoped the city would employ more incentives than penalties to encourage affordability. He said SRHAC submitted a list of 15 suggested incentives for the city to consider in its ordinance, including exemptions from sales taxes, water fees, and the proposed minimum wage ordinance. Negron said many of the suggestions were impractical.</p><p>A broad coalition of advocates for the homeless, and low-income tenants around Chicago, praised the proposal.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s a great ordinance,&rdquo; said Adelaide Meyers, a former tenant of the Norman Hotel and affordable housing advocate. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s exactly what Chicago needs to maintain SROs throughout the city, because if we lose all our SROs we&rsquo;re going to have a lot of homeless people.&rdquo;</p><p>Meyers was herself displaced from the Norman Hotel when Cedar Street Co. bought the North Side property and converted it to upscale rentals within its <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/flats-chicago-developer-weighs-housing-affordability-debate-110475">FLATS portfolio</a>. Meyers now shares an apartment in the Rogers Park neighborhood with a friend, and with some rental assistance from her father.</p><p>&ldquo;I never thought that I would end up living in an SRO to start off with, but I lived in a few different ones for several years,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So I could definitely end up back in an SRO.&rdquo;</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> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-sro-owners-say-proposed-city-ordinance-hostile-110775 Polling: How campaigns get the message http://www.wbez.org/news/polling-how-campaigns-get-message-110746 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/darkarts (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If political campaigns are horse races, then consider public opinion polls one way to set the odds.</p><p>But campaigns create and use polls for much more than the neck-and-neck numbers you hear on the news.</p><p>Maybe you&rsquo;ve already gotten one of these calls this election season: asking you to &ldquo;press one&rdquo; if you&rsquo;d like to vote for such-and-such a candidate, or &ldquo;press two&rdquo; for another.</p><p>Public polling is a voter&rsquo;s chance to weigh in. But what happens with this information - and exactly who is behind all this polling?</p><p>Gregg Durham heads up the suburban Oak Brook-based We Ask America polling, which has done work for politicians, news outlets and interest groups in Illinois and around the country.</p><p>It&rsquo;s his job to call up registered voters - some 12 million in 2012, Durham says - and take their temp on the candidates and issues of the day.</p><p>Good audio, believe or not, is important, lest people hang up. And asking questions in a specific order, as not to taint the polling pool, is key.</p><p>Getting people to stay on the phone has become a pretty big part of our democratic process. Public opinion polling isn&rsquo;t just used to predict who will win an election. It oils the modern campaign machine, helping it test different talking points, and form the messages most likely to influence voters on election day.</p><p>But all of that depends on the accuracy of the poll.</p><p>Durham points to Illinois&rsquo; super-tight 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary, where State Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard were neck-and-neck near the end.</p><p>&ldquo;I was Mr. Dillard&rsquo;s pollster, and I had to make that call and say, &lsquo;You&rsquo;ve got a problem here. This guy&rsquo;s catching you,&rsquo;&rdquo; Durham said. Durham predicted then that the election would be within 200 or 250 votes. Brady ended up <a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/ElectionInformation/VoteTotalsList.aspx?ElectionType=GP&amp;ElectionID=28&amp;SearchType=OfficeSearch&amp;OfficeID=5064&amp;QueryType=Office&amp;">winning by 193</a>, only to narrowly lose the general election.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>So how do pollsters get so dead-on?</strong></span></p><p>Tom Bowen, a Democratic campaign strategist, says the absolute most important thing for accuracy is that the sample in the poll mirrors the make-up of the larger electorate - ideally, of the people who will actually vote on election day.</p><p>&ldquo;Think about how a pond would look with a bunch of fish in it,&rdquo; Bowen said. &ldquo;If you grabbed a whole bunch of fish out of the pond, you&rsquo;d have a pretty good idea of what the fish look like.&rdquo;</p><p>But, Bowen explains, that would not be a statistically accurate sample, &ldquo;because some fish are on the bottom. Maybe they&rsquo;ve just eaten and are resting, and some fish are hiding.&rdquo;</p><p>So before they blast out any phone calls, pollsters spend big money on demographic data to learn as much as they can about voters, based on where they live: whether they rent or own, whether they have health insurance or enjoy going to the movies.</p><p>After the poll, they run their results through a complex math equation to account for the inevitable imperfections in the sample. This process, called weighting, accounts for the over- or underrepresentation of certain folks who happened to answer the phone.</p><p>But the trophy for campaigns is not the horse-race number they may release to the public. It&rsquo;s the drilled-down data the rest of us usually don&rsquo;t get to see - the stuff that&rsquo;s used to craft the all-important campaign message.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not about telling a voter something you want them to know. It&rsquo;s about reminding them about something they already know,&rdquo; Bowen said.</p><p>For example: In 2009, Bowen was running the congressional campaign for County Commissioner Mike Quigley, when he saw some surprising poll numbers.</p><p>They showed voters didn&rsquo;t really recognize Quigley by name, but they did recognize County Board President Todd Stroger - and they didn&rsquo;t like him.</p><p>So Bowen <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYDJ_z7TKk8">put together an ad</a> that touts Quigley as someone who had been &ldquo;taking on&rdquo; Stroger and his unpopular penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/tYDJ_z7TKk8?rel=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;One thing you&rsquo;ll notice about that ad, besides the fact that Todd Stroger was right in the front of it, was that Mike Quigley&rsquo;s name was used six times,&rdquo; Bowen said. &ldquo;So in order to stand out, this was sort of what the poll told us to run.&rdquo;</p><p>Quigley won handily. But sometimes, winning means knowing what not to talk about.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>&lsquo;Explaining is losing&rsquo;</strong></span></p><p>Democratic Campaign strategist Terrie Pickerill recalls a race where her candidate (she declined to name them) was late in paying property taxes, but the opponent had some ethical problems of his own. So she polled to see which would hurt more.</p><p>&ldquo;People just didn&rsquo;t care as much about just paying property taxes on time, but they really cared that this guy had ethical issues,&rdquo; Pickerill recalled.</p><p>So when her client was attacked over the property tax thing - and wanted to explain it by holding a press conference - she told them to stay quiet.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like, &lsquo;Look at the poll!&rsquo; This is much worse for him than it is for us,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Explaining is losing, so what we wanna do is say, the real issue is his ethics.&rdquo;</p><p>But there are also ethical issues for the pollsters, says Jason McGrath, a Democratic pollster who&rsquo;s worked for Chicago Mayors Rahm Emanuel and Richard M. Daley, among others.</p><p>&ldquo;Good pollsters don&rsquo;t tell a candidate what to say,&rdquo; McGrath said. &ldquo;The political graveyard is scattered with failed candidates who try to be something they weren&rsquo;t. And it&rsquo;s not in our interest to use a poll to tell somebody to be something they&rsquo;re not.&rdquo;</p><p>McGrath says voters can sense when candidates are faking it. And dishonesty &nbsp;doesn&rsquo;t poll very well.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe"><em>Alex Keefe</em></a><em> is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics"><em>Twitter</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028"><em>Google+</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Thu, 04 Sep 2014 07:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/polling-how-campaigns-get-message-110746 Changing political history, in a closet near you http://www.wbez.org/news/changing-political-history-closet-near-you-110738 <p><p>Think of radio and TV campaign ads as the soundtrack of an election season: Deep and ominous voices sound the attack, while sugary and optimistic tones signal support for a candidate. &nbsp;</p><p>As part of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/digging-political-dirt-thats-their-job-110731">WBEZ&rsquo;s series on the &ldquo;dark arts&rdquo; of the campaign business</a>, we&rsquo;ll meet the people behind the voices trained to influence our democratic process.</p><p>As it turns out, some of the most famous political ads in recent American history may have been voiced in a closet near you.</p><p>&ldquo;When I do voices for CBS Morning News or CBS Evening News or for Subway or for political campaigns or for anybody, I do them out of my closet here in the house,&rdquo; Norm Woodel, a veteran Chicago-based voice-over artist, told me during a recent visit to his Lakeview home.</p><p>The closet is lined with heavy, velvet drapes to soak up any echos - and a high-end super-sensitive microphone. Woodel is 64 and portly, wearing a gray polo, camo shorts and sandals.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>This is where the magic happens</strong></span></p><p>In 2008, Woodel used this closet to voice <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kddX7LqgCvc">the famous &ldquo;3 a.m.&rdquo; ad</a> during Hillary Clinton&rsquo;s Democratic primary run against then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. Clinton&rsquo;s campaign ran it to underscore this idea that she was seasoned, reliable - and to suggest Obama was not.</p><p>Just hours after the ad ran - 1.6 miles away from Woodel&rsquo;s closet - another Chicago voice-over artist got a phone call of his own in his home studio, and the voice on the other end of the line was frantic.</p><p>Bill Price was getting an earful from his client - Barack Obama&rsquo;s presidential campaign - saying they had to respond to the Clinton ad immediately.</p><p>&ldquo;So we literally had 20 minutes for me to do a commercial, right here,&rdquo; Price told me recently as we sat in a small bedroom he&rsquo;s converted to a home studio. &ldquo;And they wanted it on the air for the evening news cycle.&rdquo;</p><p>These dueling ads epitomized the experience versus change narrative in the Democratic primaries. Pundits gobbled this up; &ldquo;Saturday Night Live&rdquo; even <a href="https://screen.yahoo.com/amy-poehler-snl-skits/3am-phone-call-000000995.html">did a parody</a> of the ad.</p><p>Such are the big political discussions ignited, in part, by the power of a human voice. The men and women behind those voices aren&rsquo;t just people who read stuff into a microphone.</p><p>They think of themselves as actors - artists - who use their voices like instruments to manipulate your emotions - which, in turn, can influence your vote.</p><p>And during election years, they don&rsquo;t sleep much.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Norm-Woodel---WBEZ-Alex-Keefe-crop.jpg" style="height: 406px; width: 290px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: right;" title="Voice-over artist Norm Woodel poses inside the closet-turned-home studio in Lakeview where he has read political ads for politicians such as Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. (WBEZ/Alex Keefe)" /><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>&lsquo;You have no life&rsquo;</strong></span></p><p>&ldquo;When you&rsquo;re doing voice-over work, it&rsquo;s almost as though you have no life, when you&rsquo;re doing political campaigns,&rdquo; said Wanda Christine Hudson, who has been doing voice-over work for more than four decades.</p><p>Wanda Christine - as she&rsquo;s known professionally - says working campaigns is a lot different than her usual commercial or video game voice-over gigs: Political season means abruptly cancelled lunch plans, sleeping by your phone and voicing ads in the dead of night.</p><p>But she says she likes the fast pace, the fickle campaign staffers, the challenge of using her full palette.</p><p>&ldquo;Because maybe the candidate didn&rsquo;t like that word, or maybe their campaign manager thought, maybe we want more smile in her voice, or maybe we want it to sound a little bit more serious, or maybe we want her to sound younger, or maybe we just want her to sound natural,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Those vocal acrobatics may sound easy to perform. But imagine having to talk like this on demand, with short notice - on a tight deadline.</p><p>Woodel, the 3.a.m. phone call guy, will say a little phrase to himself to get the right tone - he calls it a &ldquo;ramp.&rdquo;</p><p>To psych himself for tracking NFL commercials, he says to himself: &ldquo;To the men on the field it&rsquo;s a battle,&rdquo; then edits out those words.</p><p>When he had a hard time finding the right tough tone for a Chevy Silverado commercial, he used a ramp at the end: &ldquo;&lsquo;The most dependable, longest-lasting trucks on the road, asswipe.&rsquo; Just thinking that half-cuss word we put on the end, as a &lsquo;guy talk&rsquo; kinda thing, would get you to the toughness you need,&rdquo; he explained.</p><p>But sometimes finding your voice takes more than just a little ramp. When Bill Price was voicing political ads for Obama&rsquo;s 2008 campaign, he invented this whole character.</p><p>&ldquo;[It was] like being the doctor who walks in the room, and there&rsquo;s parents there, and they&rsquo;re distraught &lsquo;cause their kid&rsquo;s really sick and think he&rsquo;s maybe gonna die,&rdquo; Price recalls. &ldquo;And then you&rsquo;re the doctor that gets to say, &lsquo;There&rsquo;s one last hope.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>For Wanda Christine - a black woman in a business where she says there aren&rsquo;t many - there&rsquo;s also personal history in her political voiceovers.</p><p>&ldquo;My great-grandmother was not allowed to vote,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;My grandmother was not allowed to vote. Um, so I think about the things that they had to do to try to make a difference so that I could vote. That means something to me. And because it means something to me...I want it to mean something to whoever is making that decision based upon my voice.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Words as power</strong></span></p><p>The messages in these political ads - individual words, even - have been poll-tested and focus-grouped to find out which will hit you - the voter - in the most personal way possible.</p><p>Wanda Christine says it&rsquo;s also personal for many voice-over artists. She says she&rsquo;ll only do voice-over work for one party, though she wouldn&rsquo;t disclose which one. But the folks behind the other two voices we&rsquo;ve heard in this story made a personal political choice only to read for Democrats.</p><p>Bill Price thinks he just sounds more Democratic.</p><p>&ldquo;I think within my voice is more [about] second chances and hope and...even small miracles...than it is about justice,&rdquo; Price said. &ldquo;Maybe that&rsquo;s more of a Republican thing. I&rsquo;m more sentimental.&rdquo;</p><p>And for Norm Woodel, there is a bit of a gee-whiz factor.</p><p>&ldquo;After the President of the United States of America says, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m Barack Obama and I approve this message,&rsquo; I come on,&rdquo; Woodel said. &ldquo;Isn&rsquo;t that wonderful?&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe"><em>Alex Keefe</em></a><em> is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics"><em>Twitter</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028"><em>Google+</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 07:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/changing-political-history-closet-near-you-110738 Digging up political dirt? That's their job http://www.wbez.org/news/digging-political-dirt-thats-their-job-110731 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/165886306&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Brace yourself, citizens: September is the unofficial start of campaign season.</p><p>You&rsquo;re about to be spun by dueling poll numbers, attack ads and conflicting messages in multiple guises.</p><p>This week, WBEZ is taking you behind the scenes to meet the practitioners of politics&rsquo; dark arts - the folks whose job it is to craft the messages and media that bombard voters during election years.</p><p>Often, this work begins with opposition research - or &ldquo;oppo,&rdquo; as it&rsquo;s known to politicos.</p><p>Oppo researchers are a low-profile group of men and women whose job it is to dig up dirt on the other guy - and on their own clients.</p><p>This year&rsquo;s contentious Illinois&rsquo; governor&rsquo;s race has spawned a rare living, breathing example of opposition research at work: Quinnocchio, a hybrid caricature dreamed up by Republican Bruce Rauner&rsquo;s campaign.</p><p>Quinnocchio is an unnamed Rauner staffer: part Governor Quinn, with his balding gray wig; part cartoon Pinocchio, with royal blue lederhosen and a long, fake nose.</p><p>His job is to hound Gov. Quinn at public events to accuse him of lying about various policies.</p><p>(Rauner&rsquo;s campaign declined to name the staffer, and when confronted at a recent press conference, he only gave his name as Quinnocchio and declined to answer further questions.)</p><p>Quinnocchio is opposition research embodied.</p><p>It&rsquo;s the job of opposition researchers to unearth the facts that back up these kinds of attacks - all those embarrassing quotes or regrettable votes your political opponent won&rsquo;t let you forget. The researchers are often ex-political operatives, lawyers or former journalists.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Quinnochio-WBEZ-Alex-Keefe.jpg" style="height: 321px; width: 250px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: right;" title="'Quinnocchio,' an invention of Republican Bruce Rauner’s campaign to hound Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn at public events, is a living example of opposition research at work. (Alex Keefe/WBEZ)" /><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Sexy and seamy? Not so much</span></strong></p><p>And if this all sounds like seamy, dumpster-diving, meet-me-in-the-parking-garage kinda work - think again.</p><p>&ldquo;What I do is not very sexy,&rdquo; said Brett Di Resta a Democratic opposition researcher based in Washington, D.C. &ldquo;If you want the limelight, I would say that this career is not the one to choose.&rdquo;</p><p>Di Resta considers himself less a &ldquo;ninja character assassin&rdquo; and more of a librarian. Instead of hunting down secret mistresses, he spends his days at a computer, poring over public records: court documents, property tax filings, campaign finance disclosures and thousands upon thousands of news articles.</p><p>&ldquo;When you see an attack ad...and they say someone voted to raise taxes 21 times, someone has to figure out what those 21 times are, and that someone is me,&rdquo; Di Resta explains.</p><p>Di Resta says about half his job is actually researching the candidates he&rsquo;s working for - looking for vulnerabilities to head off future attacks. All of this information is then organized, prioritized, fact-checked, sourced and condensed into an internal campaign document that usually never meets the public eye - a document oppo researchers simply call &ldquo;the book.&rdquo;</p><p>Recently, Republican opposition researcher John Pearman flipped through a hefty red binder, some 170 pages thick. This was the book - actually, one of several - that he and his partner, GOP strategist Dan Curry, put together while working for Republican Jim Ryan&rsquo;s gubernatorial campaign in 2002.</p><p>The target: Democrat Rod Blagojevich, the former governor now in prison for corruption.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve done opposition research for 25 years. Maybe there&rsquo;s one other individual that we&rsquo;ve done research on that was as rich as this one, but this was - everywhere you looked, there was something,&rdquo; Pearman said.</p><p>Pearman said people called him all the time with Blagojevich dirt - even people who worked for Blagojevich. The fish were jumping into the boat.</p><p>One common thread that emerged from Curry&rsquo;s and Pearman&rsquo;s tips and research: Blagojevich&rsquo;s alleged ties to organized crime figures - a connection the men thought would be devastating to Democrats if only they could prove it.</p><p>So in the fall of 2002, with his candidate low on money and behind in the polls, Pearman holed himself up in a warehouse near Midway Airport along with boxes upon boxes of court documents from federal mob cases, looking for some scrap of confirmation to convince news outlets to run the story.</p><p>Pearman said he spent six days reading through legal documents, watched over by a guard.</p><p>&ldquo;And not one mention of Blagojevich by name,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Desperate, Pearman actually tracked down one of the mob figures and went to confront the guy at his kid&rsquo;s football practice, to ask him in person about whether he&rsquo;d worked with Blagojevich.</p><p>It did not go well.</p><p>&ldquo;&lsquo;Get the expletive away from me. I better not see you again,&rsquo;&rdquo; Pearman said, recalling the encounter. &ldquo;Obviously we never got a second source on it and nobody ever did the story.&rdquo;</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Seeking the silver bullet</span></strong></p><p>Pearman acknowledges he was going after a silver bullet in an industry where small, repeated attacks against a candidate are usually more effective. Opposition researchers say those silver bullets are rare, though many pointed to one example that worked all too well.</p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDsE20pZIpg">This attack ad</a> from the 2002 Montana U-S Senate race features the Republican challenger - a guy named Mike Taylor - sporting a leisure suit, shirt unbuttoned, massaging lotion into another man&rsquo;s cheekbones.</p><p>An oppo researcher exhumed the video from these late night TV ads Taylor ran for his cosmetics company in the 1980s. Democrats then found a soundtrack that could have come out from Behind the Green Door and they ran with it. The ad closes with the phrase: &ldquo;Mike Taylor: Not the way we do business in Montana.&rdquo;</p><p>The voiceover in the ad attacks Taylor&rsquo;s company for running into trouble with its student loan process. But focusing on the video, critics nationwide pounced at the ad for suggesting Taylor - a married man - was gay. Whatever the message, it seemed to work: Taylor <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/11/us/montana-candidate-citing-smear-campaign-ends-senate-bid.html">decried the ad</a> but dropped out of the race less than a week later.</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t win races by just telling people what a wonderful person you are,&rdquo; said Dennis Gragert, a veteran Democratic opposition researcher based in Chicago.</p><p>Gragert and several other opposition researchers say they abide by the rules and ethics of what&rsquo;s fair game. Most important, they say attacks against a candidate must be verifiably true, and they can&rsquo;t be too personal or you could face a backlash, like with the hairdresser ad. Every oppo researcher contacted for this story said they had turned down work that required &nbsp;them to dig up information about an opponent they thought was too personal.</p><p>All in all, the opposition researchers who spoke with WBEZ say they sleep just fine at night, because all those negative ads actually work, even if voters say they hate them.</p><p>Still, even Gragert does betray a moment of empathy.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes I think about, if that was me on the other end, would I like that?&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;All right, that&rsquo;s not for me to like, it is - it is reality. It&rsquo;s not something where you say, well that shouldn&rsquo;t be the case. That is the case.&rdquo;</p><p>As it should be, Gragert said, in any peaceful republic where political contests are settled not with revolutions, but with words.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/akeefe">Alex Keefe</a>&nbsp;is political reporter at WBEZ. You can follow him on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZpolitics">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://plus.google.com/102759794640397640028">Google+</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 07:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/digging-political-dirt-thats-their-job-110731 Two neighboring states, one big financial gap http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/two-neighboring-states-one-big-financial-gap-110718 <p><p>George Brown of Valparaiso, Indiana, works for a steel mill these days, but at one time, his main gig was construction &mdash; across the state border in Chicago. The commute and that &ldquo;living in both worlds&rdquo; familiarity didn&rsquo;t prevent him from noting differences between the two states. Among them: The differing fortunes of state government.</p><p>He had picked up details here and there about how Illinois owed money (the state comptroller recently said Illinois has more than $5 billion in unpaid bills), how the Prairie State was hounded by bills coming down the pike (it has approximately $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities), and how it has the worst credit rating among U.S. states.</p><p>On the other hand, just a few years ago, Indiana&rsquo;s coffers were so flush that it returned money to state taxpayers.</p><p>The night-and-day financial picture between the neighboring states got him wondering enough that he sent us this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Why does the state of Illinois have a huge deficit, while next door Indiana has a surplus?</em></p><p>George&rsquo;s question couldn&rsquo;t come at a better time. Voters on the Illinois side of the border are deciding between candidates for governor, either of which is certain to confront some hard fiscal realities. The contest between the incumbent Democrat, Gov. Pat Quinn, and Republican Bruce Rauner is odd, though, in that there&rsquo;s a phantom player in the mix, too: Mitch Daniels, Indiana&rsquo;s former governor of Indiana.</p><p>Rightly or wrongly, Daniels is credited with cutting Indiana&rsquo;s budget and making the state&rsquo;s finances the envy of Illinois as well as the rest of the nation. Quinn pushes back on some of Daniels&rsquo; key tenets, while Rauner says he wants to emulate what Daniels did.</p><p>Regardless of where you fall on whether any state at all should follow &ldquo;the Daniels playbook,&rdquo; it is worth looking at what happened during his watch.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Daniels&rsquo; account of how the Hoosier State did it</span></p><p>After an eight-year term, Daniels left the governor&rsquo;s office in 2013. He&rsquo;s now president of Purdue University in West Lafayette. He rarely talks politics now, but after hearing George&rsquo;s question, he was happy to revisit his tenure as governor, especially as it relates to Illinois&rsquo; financial mess.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard not to notice, I mean it&rsquo;s national news the trouble you folks have had,&rdquo; Daniels said. &ldquo;They asked me what it was like and I said it&rsquo;s sort of like living right next door to&nbsp;<em>The Simpsons</em>, you know. Dysfunctional family on the block and we&rsquo;re looking in the window.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Daniels purdue shot..jpg" title="Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels delivers the State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature at the Statehouse Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)" /></div><p>As Daniels tells it, things were bad for Indiana as he entered office nearly a decade ago.</p><p>&ldquo;The state was absolutely, by a literal definition, bankrupt,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So, it had bills much bigger than whatever cash it had on hand. We said this has to end and I want to do it as fast as possible.&rdquo;</p><p>On his first day as governor in 2005, Daniels did something that is unimaginable in Illinois: He stripped bargaining rights for all state union employees.</p><p>&ldquo;These union agreements wouldn&rsquo;t let you change anything,&rdquo; Daniels said. &ldquo;You couldn&rsquo;t consolidate departments; you couldn&rsquo;t divide departments or reorganize them. You certainly couldn&rsquo;t outsource anything if you thought you could get it better and cheaper by hiring Hoosiers in the private sector. So, I finally decided that we simply had to cut clean.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/indiana icon.png" style="float: right;" title="Indiana." /></p><p>But Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics in Fort Wayne, says it&rsquo;s uncertain how effective Daniel&rsquo;s move was in shoring up the state&rsquo;s bottom line.</p><p>&ldquo;Some would argue that when the unions had less ability to bargain, it made it easier for the governor to get some things done,&rdquo; Downs said. &ldquo;But given (Daniels&rsquo;) personality, I don&rsquo;t know if that would have been the sort of thing that held him back a whole lot. I think it had more to do with his approach to economics: The freer the trade, the better.&rdquo;</p><p>Daniels didn&rsquo;t stop with state union employees.</p><p>A few years later, he signed a bill to make Indiana the Midwest&rsquo;s first right-to-work state. The policy changed workers&rsquo; relationship to private employers; new employees were no longer required to pay union dues at workplaces governed by union contracts. It effectively weakened unions&rsquo; standing in the state. Indiana&rsquo;s GOP argues the move attracted business to the state and that, in turn, boosted state revenue.</p><p>Daniels also pushed through a cap on local property taxes across the state. The cap limits the amount of taxes local communities can collect from a homeowner at one percent of a home&rsquo;s assessed value. Proponents say that&rsquo;s lead to robust home sales and &mdash; again, the argument goes &mdash; puts money back into the state&rsquo;s coffers.</p><p>If you hear Daniels and other supporters tell it, these policies created enough fiscal momentum that a few years ago the state sent $100 checks to each Indiana taxpayer. The state currently has a $2 billion stockpile, which it&rsquo;s likely to hold onto this time around.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/stillinoyed billboard image2.jpg" title="An example of a Stillinoyed campaign billboard designed to highlight Indiana's business opportunities. (Source: Economic Development Corporation, Indiana)" /></div></div><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The fallout</span></p><p>If you&rsquo;ve driven through the Chicago area, perhaps you&rsquo;ve seen billboards along expressways that read <a href="http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?fromdate=3/1/2014&amp;todate=3/31/2014&amp;display=Month&amp;type=public&amp;eventidn=165015&amp;view=EventDetails&amp;information_id=198305&amp;print=print" target="_blank">&ldquo;Illinnoyed by high taxes?&rdquo;</a> That advertising campaign (<a href="http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?fromdate=3/1/2014&amp;todate=3/31/2014&amp;display=Month&amp;type=public&amp;eventidn=165015&amp;view=EventDetails&amp;information_id=198305&amp;print=print" target="_blank">conducted by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation</a>) lures city residents and businesses to cross from Illinois to Indiana.</p><p>Michael Lucci says those ads &mdash; or at least the argument driving them &mdash; works on plenty of Illinois residents. Lucci is the Director of Jobs and Growth at the conservative Illinois Policy Institute. He estimates that Illinois has lost more than 100,000 residents to Indiana over the last decade.</p><p>&ldquo;It does hurt Illinois that we have such a business-friendly neighbor right next door because the people in Chicago can look east 30 miles and say &lsquo;Look, there are jobs there, there are opportunities there and I can move there and still be close to my family,&rsquo;&rdquo; Lucci said.</p><p>But not everyone sees Daniels&rsquo; bumper crop budget as an achievement. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn isn&rsquo;t willing to stomach Daniels&rsquo; sacrifice of collective bargaining rights.</p><p>Earlier this year, the incumbent governor told a union-heavy crowd that he believes in collective bargaining.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s the best way to go and I look forward to working with you on it,&rdquo; Quinn said during an April debate in Chicago. The governor has argued that strong unions improve state residents&rsquo; income and quality of life.</p><p>Some in Indiana see a darker side to the budget surplus too. Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. is among them.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/illinois icon.png" style="float: right;" title="Illinois." /></p><p>&ldquo;We do have $2 billion in the bank and we are in a much better position in Indiana than they are fiscally in Illinois, but at the same time, I think Illinois streets might be in better shape than our streets right now,&rdquo; McDermott said. &ldquo;I think Illinois is providing better services during crisis than we are because they have more tools available. It cuts both ways.&rdquo;</p><p>McDermott, a Democrat, said that last winter the state did a poor job dealing with the snow and ice that shut down several Indiana highways. (Notably, according to the most recent report by the American Society of Civil Engineers, both Indiana and Illinois received a &ldquo;D+&rdquo; in infrastructure spending.)</p><p>McDermott&rsquo;s point is this: What&rsquo;s the use of a surplus if some basic services aren&rsquo;t being met?</p><p>&ldquo;We could expand the affordable healthcare act [ACA] in Indiana right now and insure hundreds of thousands of additional Hoosiers but they just refuse to do so even though there is 2 billion dollars in the bank, those hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers don&rsquo;t deserve health care like people in Illinois do,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Does Illinois have a chance of turning things around?</span></p><p>Of all people, Daniels is among those who say &ldquo;yes.&rdquo; Of course, it&rsquo;s no surprise that he recommends Illinois gubernatorial candidates Quinn or Rauner wrangle with public sector unions, pay more bills on time and slash spending. But the architect of Indiana&rsquo;s brand of fiscal conservatism also says Illinois can draw from its own good ideas. And he ought to know: He stole a few of them.</p><p>After <a href="http://tollroadsnews.com/news/chicago-skyway-handed-over-to-cintra-macquarie-after-wiring-1830m" target="_blank">Chicago leased its public Skyway to a private operation</a>, Daniels did the same thing for the Indiana Toll Road.</p><p>And then there was the program to let delinquent taxpayers pay with no penalty.</p><p>&ldquo;I got the legislature to conduct a tax amnesty,&rdquo; Daniels said. &ldquo;Indiana never had one. Many other states have, including Illinois. I can remember citing Illinois. It&rsquo;s kind of ironic now thinking back. I was saying then, &lsquo;Hey look, they had a successful program.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&#39;s Northwest Indiana Bureau Reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" target="_blank">@MikePuenteNews</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 22:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/two-neighboring-states-one-big-financial-gap-110718 Why does South Shore still not have a grocery store? http://www.wbez.org/news/why-does-south-shore-still-not-have-grocery-store-110699 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/South Shore grocery thumb.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The hallmarks of urban retail saturate East 71st Street: beauty supply, dollar, cell phone and gym shoe stores.</p><p>But most noticeable is the 65,000 sq. ft. vacant space in a strip mall at 71st and Jeffrey Boulevard. On the outside, it looks like someone rubbed the beige building with an eraser &ndash; the faded Dominick&rsquo;s lettering the only hint this used to be a bustling grocery store.</p><p>Last December, the grocery chain Dominick&rsquo;s closed all of its doors, including 13 in Chicago. All of the vacant stores found a new grocer to fill the space &ndash; except the one at 71st and Jeffrey Boulevard in the predominantly black South Shore neighborhood. Now residents there wonder why they&rsquo;re being left out.</p><p>More than eight months after it closed, South Shore residents say all they want is a proper supermarket to take its place. Not another discount or liquor store that sells food on the side.</p><p>&ldquo;Food is the common denominator. How we break bread, how we sustain ourselves so it&rsquo;s a great metaphor. Everyone has to eat,&rdquo; said resident Anton Seals.</p><p>Seals said residents should be able to do that in their own neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Part of the angst that people feel is that we are tired of leaving our community; thus leaking the dollars, not helping where we are.&rdquo;</p><p>Val Free, president of The Planning Coalition, a local community group, agrees.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Dominick&rsquo;s closing brought the community together. And that&rsquo;s a win-win. And we&rsquo;re going to get the grocery we want. The kind of grocery store we want,&rdquo; Free said.</p><p>South Shore organizers are taking steps to make sure that happens. They&rsquo;ve hosted several community meetings, circulated a survey and met with city officials.&nbsp; In some ways their fight for a grocery store is part of a larger struggle playing out across the city. The intersection of race and retail often leaves African-American consumers short on access to goods and services. Even basic ones like where to shop for dinner.</p><p>This is especially true on the South Side where many neighborhoods, regardless of income, are food deserts. Juxtapose this with some areas on the North Side awash in grocery stores. Recently, residents of Wicker Park <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140710/wicker-park/wicker-park-trader-joes-plan-dead-after-grocer-pulls-out" target="_blank">rejected a new Trader Joe&rsquo;s due to traffic concerns</a>.</p><p>Over the past decade, more grocery stores have opened in Chicago overall. But many on the South and West Sides feel left out when their only nearby food options are discount chains.</p><p>&ldquo;On the South Side of Chicago in general, we experience retail redlining. There&rsquo;s a certain kind of marketing. When we talk about institutional racism, it&rsquo;s the dismissal of communities that have income and that expendable income,&rdquo; Seals said.</p><p>South Shore is a dense, truly mixed-income neighborhood. Mansions and multi-unit apartment complexes share alleys. The community has a median income of $28,000 but there are thousands of households earning more than $75,000.</p><p>Seals said the kind of grocery store matters too.</p><p>&ldquo;We definitely didn&rsquo;t want what&rsquo;s considered low-end grocer like a Save A Lot or Food for Less in South Shore because we also wanted the new store to be a kind of catalyst for the economic resurgence we need.&rdquo;</p><p>Mari Gallagher is a researcher and expert on food access issues and said South Shore has really been a misunderstood market for a long time.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of buying power in South Shore. And I know from the research and I know&nbsp; anecdotally people who live in South Shore who go all the way down to Roosevelt Road or Hyde Park to do their shopping. There&rsquo;s a lot of leakage, money leaving these neighborhoods,&rdquo; Gallagher said.</p><p>She said black Chicago has long struggled to nab quality retail. Billions of dollars leave the community each year and are spent in other neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;And it&rsquo;s not necessarily because they can&rsquo;t support it as a consumer base and certainly people do eat as part of the human condition,&rdquo; Gallagher said.</p><p><a href="http://www.targetmarketnews.com/" target="_blank">Target Market News</a> is a consumer research group that tracks black spending and found that black households traditionally outspend whites and Latinos on fruits and vegetables and items that have to be cooked to be eaten. In the Chicago area they spend approximately $240 million on fresh produce annually.</p><p>&ldquo;So why do certain neighborhoods have quality grocery stores and other neighborhoods have none or just very very few, perhaps one?&rdquo; Gallagher said, adding that changes in the grocery industry perpetuate this gap.</p><p>&ldquo;That was the case when Jewel and Save A Lot were corporate siblings and the parent company decided well, we really can&rsquo;t have a Jewel in every neighborhood. So instead we&rsquo;ve put Save A Lots in those neighborhoods. There were those kind of changes and people misunderstand the African-American market.&rdquo;</p><p>Some retailers are beginning to get the message.</p><p>Mariano&rsquo;s is set to open in Bronzeville, a neighborhood long starved for better grocery options. The fast-growing chain also announced plans to open at 87th and South Shore Drive. The site is across from a lucrative development in the works on the former steel mills site. Meanwhile, Whole Foods is experimenting nationally by building in low-income areas. This summer they broke ground for a store in Englewood.</p><p>Meanwhile, back in South Shore they&rsquo;re still waiting.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think you can take race out of the equation. Not just for the grocery business but just for commercial real estate in general,&rdquo; said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th.)</p><p>Hairston said she&rsquo;s in conversation with other stores and is open to a grocer bypassing 71st Street for another South Shore location.</p><p>But she&rsquo;s also not giving up on the former Dominick&rsquo;s space. Although it&rsquo;s empty, the lease runs until 2015. The owner of the property is Shirven Mateen. He lives in Los Angeles and declined to be interviewed.</p><p>Hairston is in communication with him. She said she even flew to L.A. to meet with him &ndash; but it didn&rsquo;t happen.</p><p>&ldquo;From what I&rsquo;m understanding what they are looking for in the price per square foot exceeds, is about 40 percent higher than what the market will bear so that in fact is an impediment,&rdquo; Hairston.</p><p>So the alderman is trying to reach the absentee landlord through moral appeals.</p><p>&ldquo;We can&rsquo;t control the economy. What has happened has happened, but you are located in a community that needs to have a grocery store. You&rsquo;re the vessel for that and we basically need you to do the right thing. We understand the business component of it but I need you to understand the human component of it,&rdquo; Hairston said.</p><p>Just last week, Hairston finally got what she&rsquo;d been asking for. She gave Bob Mariano, CEO of the grocery chain, a tour of her ward to view potential sites. No word yet if anything will be built, but one thing&rsquo;s for sure, the CEO didn&rsquo;t like the 71st Street location.</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> Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em>.</p><iframe width="100%" height="450" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/48706770&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true"></iframe></p> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-does-south-shore-still-not-have-grocery-store-110699 Hey Gov: An Illinois politics road trip http://www.wbez.org/news/hey-gov-illinois-politics-road-trip-110657 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Bu1yd1ZCcAEYqlk.jpg" alt="" /><p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/hey-gov-an-illinois-politics-road-trip/embed?header=none&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/hey-gov-an-illinois-politics-road-trip.js?header=none&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/hey-gov-an-illinois-politics-road-trip" target="_blank">View the story "Hey Gov: An Illinois politics road trip " on Storify</a>]<h1>Hey Gov: An Illinois politics road trip </h1><h2>WBEZ political reporters Alex Keefe and Tony Arnold took off from Chicago and drove along the Illinois River until the hit the State Fair. All along the way, they stopped to ask people what they want from the next governor. </h2><p>Storified by <a href="https://storify.com/WBEZ">WBEZ</a>&middot; Thu, Aug 14 2014 16:56:40 </p><div>WBEZ&apos;s @akeefe &amp; @tonyjarnold are following the Illinois River to the State Fair, asking citizens what they want from a governor. #HeyGovWBEZ</div><div>Best Game in Town: Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair by WBEZ's Afternoon ShiftThe Illinois State Fair hosts &quot;Governor's Day&quot; today at the fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois. Governor's Day is the traditional rally and picnic for the Illinois democratic party. Tomorrow is Republican Day. The big story is how Governor Quinn has changed the format of today's festivities.</div><div>Gov. Quinn heads to Illinois State Fair to rally his base by WBEZ's Morning ShiftThe Illinois State Fair brings out politicians, special interest groups and voters looking to get some answers from candidates. Incumbent Governor Quinn is following the same pattern as last year and making Wednesday's Governor's Day at the Fair a family event rather than an opportunity to hash out political agendas.</div><div>What Walt Willey, Ottawa #il native and longtime &quot;All My Children&quot; soap star, wants from the next gov http://t.co/IFmdwcg9u9 #heygov @WBEZAlex Keefe</div><div>A brief history of Ottawa, #IL, in mural form. #heygov @ Illinois River, Ottawa IL http://t.co/LpoCI5xsA8Alex Keefe</div><div>.@akeefe is driving me to Springfield. At least if we take a wrong turn I know we have a map. http://t.co/0ZBKrpc8E7Tony Arnold</div></noscript></div></p> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/hey-gov-illinois-politics-road-trip-110657 Refugee youth services threatened http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Refugee kids (1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>As families prepare for a new school year, some of the most vulnerable kids and parents may have to go it alone. Refugee assistance programs in Illinois are set to lose a federal grant that helps K-12 students transition to life in the U.S., and that supports critical resources for teachers and refugee parents.</p><p>&ldquo;This program will pretty much shut down as of August 14 of 2014,&rdquo; said Melineh Kano, Executive Director of RefugeeONE, a refugee resettlement agency in Chicago. The organizations youth program provides after-school tutoring and social gatherings for roughly 250 refugee children every weekday during the school year, as well as weekend, in-home tutoring for refugee children who often come to the U.S. with little to no English skill, and often below grade level.</p><p>Additionally, the program&rsquo;s case workers are critical to enrolling children in schools when families first arrive, as many refugee parents are unable to fill out the paperwork themselves, and rarely understand what type of documentation they are required to bring to register their children.</p><p>&ldquo;Many of the parents that we are serving haven&rsquo;t really had the opportunity to deal with any formal school systems,&rdquo; explained Kano. &ldquo;So they depend on us to help them and orient them.&rdquo;</p><p>But this year, Kano and those who work with other refugee assistance programs in Illinois, are fretting over whether they&rsquo;ll have money to continue supporting kids and their families through the school year. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement largely funds refugee services, and has recently warned assistance organizations that money is getting tight &mdash; because it also is responsible for the care and shelter of unaccompanied children who are caught illegally migrating to the U.S. The number of children detained since June of 2013 has surged, prompting the ORR to divert money that was earmarked for refugees to deal with the situation.</p><p>Since <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/feds-set-divert-refugee-funds-deal-unaccompanied-minors-110594">WBEZ last reported on this</a>, ORR has announced that it will restore funding to some core services. However, discretionary grants that pay for K-12 support, senior services and preventative health programs remain in jeopardy. In Illinois, youth services received $711,729 last fiscal year.</p><p>Kano said ORR money makes up about 80 percent of the budget for RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program. If that money is not renewed, she said she&rsquo;ll be left with less than one full-time employee to handle K-12 services. She said that means newly-arrived refugee families wouldn&rsquo;t receive the basic education that her organization promotes.</p><p>&ldquo;Something as simple as you have to dress your kids properly for school and you have to feed them breakfast before they go to school,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because otherwise the teacher is going to notice that your child is not well taken care of, and they might call the Department of Child and Family Services for neglect.&rdquo;</p><p>Kano said extreme examples like that are rare, but they could happen more often without the support and intervention of RefugeeONE&rsquo;s case workers. More common are everyday household issues that refugee parents run into, often because they don&rsquo;t know how to support their kids in a new environment.<br /><br />&ldquo;I had a problem with my son,&rdquo; said Amal Khalid, a refugee who arrived from Sudan with her three children last year. &ldquo;My son (didn&rsquo;t) listen to me, and he (didn&rsquo;t) do his homework, and everything. Just he want to sit and watch TV and playing.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said a staff member at RefugeeONE helped by making a schedule for her 8-year old son.</p><p>&ldquo;She said you give him this routine for everything,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;When he (wakes) up, (goes) to school and he (comes) back, eat, and like one hour for writing, reading. I can&rsquo;t do that by myself.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said her son&rsquo;s back on track now.</p><p>RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program also provides a critical, one-stop shop for many teachers who need help reaching students&rsquo; families.</p><p>&ldquo;If something arises throughout the year, that&rsquo;s my first contact, again mostly because of the language barrier,&rdquo; said Benjamin Meier, a math teacher at Roosevelt High school. The school has kids from more than 40 language backgrounds, including Arabic, Nepali, Amharic, Tigrinya, Karen, Zomi, Swahili, Dzongkha, and more.</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE not only helps him communicate with parents, but also teaches parents how to get involved in their children&rsquo;s education.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of the parents traditionally just defer to whatever the school says,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;We prefer more of a give-and-take.&rdquo;</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program has been effective because it brings in families&rsquo; case workers to craft holistic approaches to children&rsquo;s success.</p><p>Kano said RefugeeONE will dip into its general funds to keep services going through September. But if federal funds aren&rsquo;t released by then, the organization is planning to discontinue its youth support in October.</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, 14 Aug 2014 11:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 Cabbage War: West Ridge vs. Rogers Park http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/nsU07hchILU?rel=0" width="640"></iframe></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/163030116&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>We receive a good number of questions about Chicago neighborhoods: Among other things, we&rsquo;ve learned <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-are-chicago-neighborhoods-formed-103831" target="_blank">how their boundaries are formed</a>, how the city&rsquo;s roster of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">neighborhoods grew through annexation</a>, and how the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538" target="_blank">ethnic composition of neighborhoods can sometimes change </a>surprisingly quickly.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648#laura" target="_blank">Laura Jones Macknin</a> of the Ravenswood neighborhood sent along one of the more puzzling queries along these lines. Laura had been working on a health-related survey project in several Chicago neighborhoods. For reporting purposes, her team needed to distinguish between West Ridge and Rogers Park, which are tucked into the northeast corner of the city.</p><p>As Laura researched the neighborhoods&rsquo; dividing line, she bumped into historical references to an altercation between the two areas &ndash; one with a vegetative flair. The issue took hold of her enough that she sent us this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What was behind the so-called Cabbage War in West Ridge and Rogers Park? I would like to know more because, you know ... Cabbage War.</em></p><p>Well, the Cabbage War had very little to do with cabbages per se. And though it&rsquo;s easy to dismiss such an oddly named conflict, this 19th century showdown involved something that neighborhoods and even entire cities continue to fight over today: parks and the taxes to create and maintain them.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Unfriendly neighbors</span></p><p>As West Ridge and Rogers Park evolved from being independent villages to neighborhoods of Chicago in the late 19th century, residents carried animosity towards one another. Rogers Park was urbane compared to the decidedly rural West Ridge, which grew a considerable amount of &ndash; you guessed it &ndash; cabbage. Rogers Parkers would hurl the &ldquo;Cabbage Heads&rdquo; epithet toward West Ridgers, and they prided themselves on the fact that they lived in a &ldquo;dry&rdquo; part of town where booze was outlawed. West Ridge, on the other hand, was home to several drinking establishments. The West Ridgers considered Rogers Parkers to be effete snobs, or &ldquo;silk stockings&rdquo; in the 19th century parlance.</p><p>This cultural divide persisted as things came to a head on the political front in 1896. The two areas (now Chicago neighborhoods) had proposed competing plans to create and fund parks. Notably, at this time, there was no unified Chicago Park District, and it was common for local communities to create separate parks authorities, which would sometimes compete for tax dollars. During the campaign to decide which parks plans would prevail, West Ridgers and Rogers Parkers exchanged harsh words and &mdash; in at least one case &mdash; deployed brutal tactics.</p><p>But let&rsquo;s stop the tale here. This is no <em>Game of Thrones</em> epic. Unlike that unfinished opus, the chronicle of Chicago&rsquo;s Cabbage War doesn&rsquo;t need umpteen books: You can get the gist (and all the drama) in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsU07hchILU&amp;list=UUkpMCLrDFxb1n74GOOw81-w" target="_blank">our short animated story</a>!</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="laura"></a>Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question asker FOR WEB.png" style="height: 245px; width: 250px; float: left;" title="" /></p><p>Did you hear Laura Jones Macknin&rsquo;s voice at the top of our animated story? There&rsquo;s a chance you&rsquo;re actually familiar with it. Laura sent her question to us while working in a healthcare outreach program, <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2669689/">but she&rsquo;s also an actor</a>.</p><p>She&rsquo;s also performed voice work in local advertisements, including some for Central DuPage and Swedish Hospitals.</p><p>Laura wrote us early about her interest in the Cabbage War story. &ldquo;It&#39;s so odd and whimsical (Cabbages on poles! Cabbagehead slurs! Farmers vs. Northwestern!) that I wanted to know more about it,&rdquo; she wrote.</p><p>She also pressed us for a little <em>Game of Thrones</em> reenactment but, alas, the historical record might be a bit too scant to sustain a book or TV series.</p><p><em>Illustrator and reporter Simran Khosla can be followed&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/simkhosla" target="_blank">@simkhosla</a>. Sincere thanks to the <a href="http://rpwrhs.org/" target="_blank">Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society</a> for expertise, materials and interviews.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648 Congressman calls for removal of police commander accused of assault http://www.wbez.org/news/congressman-calls-removal-police-commander-accused-assault-110642 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Danny Davis AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>U.S. Rep. Danny Davis says Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration should remove a West Side police commander to help avert the sort of violence that has roiled a St. Louis suburb this week.</p><p>Davis (D-Chicago) said Harrison District Cmdr. Glenn Evans, who is under criminal investigation for allegedly assaulting an arrested man, should be reassigned until the case is over.</p><p>&ldquo;Let&rsquo;s just find some other work right now for the commander to do,&rdquo; Davis said late Tuesday in his East Garfield Park office. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s what I think would be in the best interests of promoting the kind of relationships between law enforcement and community&rdquo; that prevents rioting like what hit Ferguson, Missouri, after one of that suburb&rsquo;s police officers fatally shot an unarmed black teenager.</p><p>&ldquo;It has happened many, many times in Chicago,&rdquo; Davis said. &ldquo;So I think an ounce of prevention is worth much more than a pound of cure.&rdquo;</p><p>Evans last year allegedly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cpd-leaves-commander-post-despite-assault-allegation-dna-match-110581">jammed his pistol into an arrested man&rsquo;s mouth and threatened his life</a>. After a lab test found the arrestee&rsquo;s DNA on that gun, the Independent Police Review Authority recommended in April that police Supt. Garry McCarthy relieve Evans of his police powers and &ldquo;evaluate&rdquo; the commander&rsquo;s assignment.</p><p>The agency also referred the case to State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez&rsquo;s office.</p><p>The investigation follows at least 45 excessive-force complaints against Evans between 1988 and 2008, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/report-embattled-commander-no-1-excessive-force-complaints-110605">according to a report detailed last week by WBEZ</a>. Authorities responsible for looking into the complaints found that two warranted disciplinary action.</p><p>McCarthy has credited Evans, a 28-year department veteran, for a drop in shootings in a South Side district he commanded until March.</p><p>Davis, who has campaigned against police brutality in the past, said Evans may be a great police officer but the department should still reassign him &ldquo;until this is cleaned up, so that there are no misunderstandings of what the department believes ought to be the approach to policing.&rdquo;</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/glenn-evans">Read all our coverage about Cmdr. Glenn Evans</a></strong></p><div>&ldquo;If there is a cloud right now, relative to his use of force and how he might be training officers,&rdquo; said Davis, whose district includes nearly all of Evans&rsquo; district, &ldquo;I would think he not be in the command position.&rdquo;</div></p><p>Neither McCarthy nor Emanuel have answered questions about the decision to leave Evans in his post as the investigation continues.</p><p>Reached Tuesday evening about Davis&rsquo;s statements, Emanuel&rsquo;s office did not comment.</p><p>A McCarthy spokesman wrote that the police department takes &ldquo;any allegations seriously but, as is always the case, we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.&rdquo;</p><p>Some rank-and-file officers and community members&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/despite-excessive-force-complaints-police-commander-maintains-support-110618">have spoken up for Evans</a>, calling him an attentive and hard-working crime fighter.</p><p>Evans has declined to comment about the investigation.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1 </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769/posts">Google+</a> and<a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1"> LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 09:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/congressman-calls-removal-police-commander-accused-assault-110642