WBEZ | politics http://www.wbez.org/tags/politics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: The underbelly of politics isn't always pretty http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-09-02/morning-shift-underbelly-politics-isnt-always-pretty <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/redlineproject.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&#39;s back to school for Chicago students. We hear from a couple of high schoolers as they look forward to a new year. Also, we explore a different side to political campaigning. And, the sounds of Chicago&#39;s Sones de Mexico stop by to celebrate twenty years of music making.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-ugly-side-of-politics/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-ugly-side-of-politics.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-ugly-side-of-politics" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The underbelly of politics isn't always pretty" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 08:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-09-02/morning-shift-underbelly-politics-isnt-always-pretty 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 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 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 How to botch Latino outreach http://www.wbez.org/news/how-botch-latino-outreach-110623 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ap477265004976_wide-3e67378e76f5c917f3d0daed3bb68a0e5691af79-s40-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Even as Republican leaders wrap up <a href="http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/rnc-meeting-chicago-cheney-ryan-walker-speaking/wed-08062014-948am" target="_blank">a summer meeting</a> in Chicago where they&#39;re preparing for 2016, the party&#39;s fate in that election may be getting shaped in other places.</p><p>Places like Okoboji, Iowa, where Rep. Steve King was captured on <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI8rCleTbSo" target="_blank">video</a> getting into an extended argument with self-described &quot;DREAMers,&quot; American-raised children of undocumented immigrants. Or Alabama, where Rep. Mo Brooks has been describing immigration overhaul efforts as part of a Democratic &quot;<a href="http://www.lauraingraham.com/pg/jsp/charts/streamingAudioMaster.jsp?dispid=302&amp;headerDest=L3BnL2pzcC9tZWRpYS9mbGFzaHdlbGNvbWUuanNwP3BpZD0xOTA0Nw==" target="_blank">war on whites</a>.&quot;</p><p>Or even Washington, D.C., where a week ago, in order to win the support of immigration opponents like King and Brooks on a border crisis spending bill, leaders brought to the floor a <a href="http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d113:H.R.5272:" target="_blank">companion bill</a> ending President Obama&#39;s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program that permits children who were brought to this country as minors by undocumented immigrants to remain.</p><p>Neither bill is likely to become law, but, say political strategists in both parties, the damage is done. While there may be little effect in the coming midterm elections &mdash; when Hispanic turnout is typically depressed &mdash; anger over the legislation and the well-publicized comments could cement a perception that becomes difficult to change by 2016.</p><p>&quot;It just reinforces existing beliefs about Republican views on immigration and, more broadly, Hispanics generally,&quot; said Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s further evidence we&#39;re departing further and further into the wilderness,&quot; said John Weaver, a former adviser to Arizona Sen. John McCain. &quot;I don&#39;t really notice the &#39;war on whites&#39; myself, but maybe it&#39;s raging in northern Alabama.&quot;</p><p>McCain is among the 13 sitting GOP senators who last year voted for an immigration overhaul that includes a path to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. It&#39;s that feature that angers many House Republicans, who typically represent districts with tiny Latino populations. They argue that any immigration law changes are inappropriate before the border with Mexico is fully secured.</p><p>In their opposition, they are also bucking leaders of the Republican National Committee, which last year specifically cited immigration legislation as a way to open doors among Hispanics and other minority groups.</p><p>It was this sensibility, in fact, that spurred House leaders to push for the border bill last week, even though it meant postponing the start of the August recess. Speaker John Boehner had already put out a statement suggesting that attempts to pass a $659 million funding bill were being abandoned for want of votes. Boehner and his team were quickly besieged by Republicans worried about heading home without having done anything about the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children who had crossed the border. Republicans would seem uncaring, and Obama would have a political field day.</p><p>But in their desperation to win over immigration opponents, House leaders agreed to take up the proposal to end Obama&#39;s DACA program. It passed, with 212 Republican yes votes, and 11 Republicans voting no. (All but four Democrats voted against it.)</p><p>King was among those crowing about their victory &mdash; which led to Monday&#39;s confrontation at an Iowa fundraiser. Alabama&#39;s Brooks, meanwhile, defended the anti-DACA bill and dismissed criticisms against it as part of the Democratic &quot;war on whites.&quot;</p><p>(On a Huntsville, Ala., <a href="http://www.wvnn.com/" target="_blank">radio show</a> Wednesday with <em>National Journal</em> columnist <a href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/it-s-not-just-obama-brooks-now-says-gop-is-waging-war-on-whites-20140806" target="_blank">Ron Fournier</a>, Brooks accused Fournier of contributing to divisiveness with his &quot;commentary&quot; &mdash; though Fournier was quoting from the Republican Party&#39;s own .)</p><p>Both incidents have gotten widespread play in the media &mdash; more play than the Republican Party&#39;s outreach to Latinos is getting nowadays. In an <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/changing_lanes/2014/08/07/reince_priebus_responds_to_war_on_whites.html" target="_blank">interview with RealClearPolitics</a> from Chicago, GOP chairman Reince Priebus called Brooks&#39; remarks &quot;idiotic.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We have to be a party that grows. That means we have to have more people in our party, not less,&quot; Priebus said.</p><p>Weaver, who in recent years has criticized the party for its failure to embrace an immigration overhaul, said the latest turn proves his point. &quot;If you&#39;re on the wrong side of history on immigration, that&#39;s not a good place to be,&quot; he said.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2014/08/08/338631780/how-to-botch-latino-outreach" target="_blank">via NPR&#39;s It&#39;s All Politics blog</a></em></p></p> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 14:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-botch-latino-outreach-110623 Jane Byrne to be honored http://www.wbez.org/news/jane-byrne-be-honored-110573 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Jane_Byrne thing_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago&rsquo;s first and only female mayor is getting something named for her after all.</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago City Council voted Wednesday to honor Jane Byrne by renaming the plaza surrounding the historic Water Tower building on Michigan Avenue after her.</p><p dir="ltr">The council earlier this week had considered four related resolutions that would rename landmarks for the former mayor: Navy Pier&rsquo;s Grand Ballroom; the O&rsquo;Hare International Terminal; the Buckingham Fountain; and the Water Tower Plaza. The plaza idea won the day.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em><strong>Backgrounder</strong>: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/so-when-it-jane-byrnes-turn-110556">Why it&#39;s taken so long for Jane Byrne to have a Chicago site named after her</a>.</em></p><p dir="ltr">Byrne&rsquo;s only daughter, Kathy, had testified at a Tuesday hearing, telling aldermen that her mother would most appreciate the Water Tower Plaza, as it&rsquo;s across the street from the apartment her mother lived in while mayor.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Whatever the trouble was in the city, whatever crisis was brewing, she could look out and see that Water Tower and say, &lsquo;Well, you survived the [Great Chicago] fire and there was no city left, and you made it,&rsquo;&rdquo; Byrne said. &ldquo;So whatever matter was before her, she knew that everyone would be alright.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Kathy Byrne said she didn&rsquo;t want to be &ldquo;presumptuous&rdquo; by choosing one of the proposals over the others, but generations of her family had lived in the area surrounding the Water Tower, including her great-great grandfather &mdash; the first of Jane Byrne&rsquo;s forebearers to come to Chicago. Kathy Byrne said he lived there during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The Water Tower is a survivor, and my mother is a survivor, and Chicago is a survivor,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And I think that would be a tremendous way to honor her.</p><p dir="ltr">Kathy Byrne suggested Tuesday that the City Council could improve the plaza proposal by moving her mother&rsquo;s beloved Children&rsquo;s Fountain. The fountain was dedicated during Byrne&rsquo;s administration, and is displayed on the cover of her book, <em>My Chicago</em>. It&rsquo;s currently located in Lincoln Park. Kathy Byrne said the Children&rsquo;s Fountain could replace the small fountain that&rsquo;s situated by the Water Tower building.</p><p dir="ltr">Finance Committee officials Tuesday said that wasn&rsquo;t part of their proposal. They said if the current proposal&rsquo;s passed by the full council, the Chicago Park District would be responsible for deciding whether or not to move the Children&rsquo;s Fountain.</p><p dir="ltr">Many aldermen support the naming of a public asset in honor of Jane. Several spent a good portion of this week&#39;s Finance Committee hearing to reflect on their time serving under Jane Byrne, who lost her reelection bid in 1983. Ald. Tom Tunney (44) reflected on her influence and support of the gay community, and her revitalization of Taste of Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">Ald. Carrie Austin (34) called Jane Byrne an icon for women to go further than they are today. &ldquo;Maybe there will be another female mayor,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;but we are grateful for all that she imparted to all of us in so many different ways.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="377" scrolling="no" src="https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1gLzQq7ISqUuKt5ufNFfQOVXPTrjL_BBaImlnDBuSTc0/embed?start=false&amp;loop=false&amp;delayms=3000" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/jane-byrne-be-honored-110573 Lucas chooses Chicago for his art, memorabilia museum http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/lucas-chooses-chicago-his-art-memorabilia-museum-110405 <p><p>Get your lightsabers ready: The George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is coming to Chicago.</p><p>George Lucas and the museum board announced Tuesday they had chosen Chicago as the home for the museum, beating out San Francisco and Los Angeles.</p><p>It all started more than four years ago, in a galaxy far, far away -- also known as George Lucas&rsquo; home of San Francisco. Lucas&rsquo; originally wanted to build his museum for art and movie memorabilia at Crissy Field, land owned by the Presidio Trust. But when his plans were rejected earlier this year, he began looking into other options.</p><p>In a statement, the Lucas Museum board says Chicago&rsquo;s proposed site by Soldier Field was &ldquo;significantly larger&rdquo; and closer to public transportation than the sites San Francisco was offering. The board also lauded Chicago&rsquo;s museum campus - the proposed site for the museum - as &ldquo;vibrant,&rdquo; and &ldquo;centrally located in a city renowned for its love of art and architecture.&rdquo;</p><p>Though he&rsquo;s from California, Lucas has his own personal connections to Chicago. Lucas&rsquo; wife, Mellody Hobson, is a prominent businesswoman from Chicago. The couple celebrated their wedding at Promontory Point along the Lake Michigan shore. The city closed down the entire park for the event.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been lobbying for major cultural institutions to move to or take root in Chicago. A mayoral-appointed task force last month recommended the Lucas museum be built along the lakefront, in the now-parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place</p><p>Emanuel called landing the Lucas Museum a &ldquo;tremendous opportunity&rdquo; for the city. He&rsquo;s said in the past taxpayers wouldn&rsquo;t be footing the bill for the billion-dollar investment.</p><p>The mayor has also attempted to assure Bears fans that the Lucas museum won&rsquo;t keep them from tailgating before home games. Last month, he told reporters at an unrelated event that &ldquo;there&rsquo;s going to be tailgating. Full stop.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t thank George and Mellody enough,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;No other major American city has these type of cultural education institutions, with a great Northerly Island creating a vibrant, green museum campus - unparalleled in the United States.&rdquo;</p><p>In a statement, George Lucas says Chicago is the right decision for the museum, but the Bay area will always be his home.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ Reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian"><em>@laurenchooljian</em></a></p></p> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 07:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/lucas-chooses-chicago-his-art-memorabilia-museum-110405 Illinois Rep. Derrick Smith convicted of bribery http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-rep-derrick-smith-convicted-bribery-110313 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP362609502394.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A federal jury in Chicago on Tuesday convicted Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith of bribery for taking $7,000 from a purported day care operator seeking a state grant.</p><p>In a weeklong trial, prosecutors played secret recordings of the 50-year-old Chicago Democrat accepting 70 $100 bills in exchange for a letter supporting the $50,000 state grant &mdash; though it was all part of an FBI sting.</p><p>Jurors returned their verdict after deliberating about four hours over two days. Smith showed no emotion as he learned his fate, sitting with his hands folded. A family member patted him on the shoulder minutes later.</p><p>Outside court, a subdued Smith told reporters: &quot;We gave it a good fight. God knows the truth. Jurors didn&#39;t see what God saw.&quot;</p><p>No sentencing date was set, but a status hearing was set for Sept. 23. Smith was released pending a sentencing date.</p><p>The recordings of Smith by a campaign worker-turned-informant included one where Smith uses slang talking about the handover of the bribe, asking, &quot;How she going to get the cheddar to us?&quot; In another he says, &quot;I don&#39;t want no trace of it.&quot;</p><p>Prosecutors also described how a distraught Smith admitted after his March 13, 2012, arrest he took the bribe. He even brought agents to his bedroom, retrieved $2,500 in leftover bribe cash from the foot of his bed and handed it over.</p><p>Shortly after Smith&#39;s arrest, his House colleagues voted 100-6 to expel him. But he was reinstated after winning his late-2012 election. He lost his 2014 primary and was supposed to finish out his current term. However, a felony conviction means he will lose his seat.</p><p>Jurors found Smith guilty on all charges &mdash; one count of bribery and one of attempted extortion. Combined, the convictions carry a maximum 30-year prison sentence.</p><p>At trial, the defense attacked the credibility of the informant, who was only referred to by his first name, Pete, in court. They described him as a deadbeat and convicted felon who &quot;set up&quot; Smith for $1,000-a-week payments from the FBI.</p><p>&quot;He&#39;s a hustler,&quot; defense attorney Victor Henderson told jurors during closing arguments Monday. &quot;He hustled the representative and he hustled the FBI.&quot;</p><p>The attorney argued that Pete hoodwinked a devoted public servant together with an overzealous FBI.</p><p>&quot;He wasn&#39;t going to commit a crime,&quot; Henderson said, pointing to Smith. &quot;That was something they fabricated.&quot;</p><p>But prosecutor Marsha McClellan said in her closing that the recordings and other evidence demonstrated that no one led Smith astray against his will.</p><p>&quot;There sits a defendant whose public face is one of service, but who privately wanted to use that office ... to get cash into his pockets,&quot; she said.</p><p>In a recording from early March 2012, Pete counts aloud as he hands the cash to Smith in seven $1,000 stacks. As the informant counts the fifth stack, he curses as the money sticks together. He pauses, then counts the rest.</p><p>Pete then jokingly chides Smith for not expressing gratitude, saying, &quot;(You) didn&#39;t even say thank you.&quot;</p><p>The prosecutor said that Smith&#39;s easy, confident tone on the recordings illustrated he didn&#39;t think he&#39;d ever get caught.</p><p>&quot;Never in a million years did he expect us to listen to him now,&quot; McClellan told jurors. &quot;He never thought this day would come.&quot;</p></p> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 11:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-rep-derrick-smith-convicted-bribery-110313 Watch Chicago's 2nd Ward fly north over the years http://www.wbez.org/news/watch-chicagos-2nd-ward-fly-north-over-years-110293 <p><div class="image-insert-image ">Last week <a href="http://wbezdata.tumblr.com/post/86343915004/mapping-rahm-emanuels-2011-victory-and-how-that-may" target="_blank">we looked at</a> where Rahm Emanuel had support in his 2011 election and how that might shift, but one of the major pieces of geography that will change in 2015 are the boundaries themselves.</div><p>In 2012 aldermen approved a new ward map, as they do every 10 years with the decennial census. And as is also a Chicago tradition, there were calls of gerrymandering, civil rights abuses and the eventual lawsuit.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s redistricting efforts have been challenged in three of the past four attempts going back to 1980. That&rsquo;s why you&rsquo;ll find two different maps in use in the 1980s and 1990s, and very possibly later this decade as well (A lawsuit from the League of Women Voters is <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140228/downtown/city-ward-map-lawsuit-headed-back-court" target="_blank">working its way through the courts)</a>.</p><p>Inspired by a <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/05/15/americas-most-gerrymandered-congressional-districts/" target="_blank">series of articles from the <em>Washington Post</em>&rsquo;s Christopher Ingraham</a>, we decided to see just how gerrymandered Chicago&rsquo;s wards have become. Ingraham created a 0-100 scale to measure the level of gerrymandering in congressional districts and we reproduced that to see how Chicago&rsquo;s wards stacked up to Congress.</p><p>We used maps from three sources: The <a href="http://hue.uadata.org">Historical Urban Ecological data set</a>, the <a href="http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/collections/maps/chigis.html">University of Chicago</a>, and the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/doit/dataset/boundaries_-_wards.html">city</a> of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/no-sidebar/approved-ward-map-95662">Chicago</a>.</p><p>We loaded those maps in a PostGIS database and followed Ingraham&rsquo;s methodology, specifically applying the <a href="http://www.redistrictingthenation.com/whatis-compactness.aspx">Polsby-Popper method</a> to determine a gerrymandering score (on a 0-1 scale), then converting it to a 0-100 scale.</p><blockquote><p><em>If you&rsquo;re playing along at home, the formula we used was 100*(1-(((4*3.14)*Area)/Perimeter^2))</em></p></blockquote><p>A few caveats before we continue:</p><p>-Polsby-Popper isn&rsquo;t the only way to measure gerrymandering and may not capture aspects some would associate with gerrymandering. We followed along with Ingraham&rsquo;s method to make comparisons.</p><p>-A perfect compactness score of 0 would be a circle, but no area can be split into a bunch of circles. A series of perfect squares would score 21.5.</p><p>-Compactness of a ward doesn&rsquo;t take into account population, demographics or keeping communities together, something required by the Voting Rights Act. That means sometimes a less-compact district can better serve a community.</p><p>-Chicago is a weird looking city (geographically speaking). With Lake Michigan, the O&rsquo;Hare annexation and its extreme North-South orientation, there are a lot of irregular boundaries. The city itself scores 88.8 on our gerrymandering scale (which may say something about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">how the city came together</a>, but that&rsquo;s what we&rsquo;re working with).</p><p>With that said, this is a good starting point to look at how Chicago&rsquo;s wards have changed over the years, and how it compares to other civic divisions.</p><p><strong>1927</strong></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/1927_0.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 320px;" title="Chicago City Council Wards, 1927 (Source: Historical Urban Ecological data set)" /></div><p>Chicago first split into 50 wards in the 1920s. Before then there were 35 wards with two aldermen each. Reformers hoped that having one alderman per ward (and 50 instead of 70) <a href="http://www.lib.niu.edu/1979/ii790211.html" target="_blank">would help reduce corruption</a>. The fact that this story exists implies that it did not.</p><p>That first attempt at 50 wards (with annexation thrown in in 1927) is pretty compact, and contains mostly shapes your toddler could name. You can see in the map above that most ward lines are fairly straight, with the Chicago River the main natural divider creating some squiggles.</p><p>At this point the 2nd Ward is a fairly regular shape, more or less a six-sided polygon.</p><p><strong>2nd Ward score: 43.37. Chicago score: 48.74.</strong></p><p><strong>1986</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1986_0.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 320px;" title="Chicago City Council Wards, 1986 (Source: University of Chicago)" /></p><p>Fast forward to 1986 (the next year we could find electronic ward maps). These boundaries were drawn after the election of Harold Washington as mayor and a <a href="http://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2730&amp;context=cklawreview">4-year-long court battle</a>, so would only be in effect until 1992.</p><p>While the map as a whole has undergone some major changes, the 2nd Ward is relatively close to its original shape. The boundaries to the north, west and east are in basically the same spot, but it has grown to the south. Also, notice how the southern boundary is more irregular.</p><p><strong>2nd Ward score: 45.06. Chicago score: 61.58.</strong></p><p><strong>1992/1998</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1998_0.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 320px;" title="Chicago City Council Wards, 1998 (Source: University of Chicago)" /></p><p>Following the 1990 census the Chicago City Council couldn&rsquo;t decide on a new ward map so they sent two proposals to voters in a referendum. Again, the choice was challenged and went to the courts, and a new ward map came in 1998. The process <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-11-09/opinion/ct-edit-wards-1109-jm-20111109_1_new-chicago-ward-map-incumbent-aldermen-census" target="_blank">cost the city $18.7 million</a>.</p><p>This is the first major change for the 2nd Ward. Other than its eastern edge on Lake Michigan, the whole thing is blown up and now resembles something like a transposed &lsquo;L.&rsquo; Not only does most of it move north, but its long, skinny shape extends west halfway across the city.</p><p>In this one change, the 2nd Ward goes from one of Chicago&rsquo;s more regular wards to one of the more gerrymandered.</p><p>While the new 1998 map had some big changes for certain districts, there was little change as far as the gerrymandering score for the city or Ward 2.</p><p><strong>1992: 2nd Ward score: 84.89. Chicago score: 69.91.</strong></p><p><strong>1998: 2nd Ward score: 85.10. Chicago score: 69.71.</strong></p><p><strong>2002</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2002_0.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 320px;" title="Chicago City Council Wards, 2002 (Source: City of Chicago)" /></p><p>After the 2000 census an amazing thing happened: Chicago passed a ward map that didn&rsquo;t get thrown out by the courts. In true Chicago style, though, this came because of more gerrymandering, not less.</p><p>Mayor Richard M. Daley <a href="http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=164131">worked with black and Latino councilors to craft wards that were acceptable to them</a>, creating safer constituencies at the expense of compactness.</p><p>The 2nd Ward is barely touching its original area, a plume of smoke rising from the ashes of its foundation. Its continued its northern path and now swallows up Burnham Harbor, Soldier Field and and the Field Museum.</p><p>This is the first time the 2nd Ward is Chicago&rsquo;s most gerrymandered, narrowly passing the 41st (91.28).</p><p><strong>2nd Ward score: 91.33. Chicago score: 69.71.</strong></p><p><strong>2015</strong></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/2015_0.jpg" style="height: 378px; width: 320px;" title="Chicago City Council Wards, 2015 (Source: City of Chicago)" /></div><p>These are the wards that will elect our next round of aldermen in February, unless of course they don&rsquo;t.</p><p>The 2nd Ward was moved not only entirely north of where it was in 1927, but north of where it was in 2002. This got a lot of attention after the <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-01-20/news/ct-met-city-council-new-ward-map-20120120_1_new-ward-map-aldermen-vote-whitney-woodward">map was approved in 2012</a>, because it moved current 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti into the 28th Ward, seemingly a punishment for not sticking with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>WBEZ produced <a href="http://www.wbez.org/no-sidebar/approved-ward-map-95662">an interactive map of the new wards</a> along with demographic profiles of each ward back in 2012. Check out that link for more information on the process as well.</p><p>The end result is that the 2nd Ward is now solidly Chicago&rsquo;s most gerrymandered, with the 1st Ward ranking second at 91.48.</p><p><strong>2nd Ward score: 94.16. Chicago score: 74.18.</strong></p><p><strong>How Does Chicago Compare?</strong></p><p>Going back in Ingraham&rsquo;s work with states and congressional districts, Chicago and the 2nd Ward fit in pretty well. Chicago matches up well with states like Missouri as in the upper half, but not near the most gerrymandered. The 2nd Ward, though, would be just outside the top-10 for most-gerrymandered district (Illinois 4th is No. 8).</p><p>Again, these scores may be indicators of gerrymandering but is by no means the final word. That will come later from the legal system.</p></p> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 14:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/watch-chicagos-2nd-ward-fly-north-over-years-110293 Alder-MAN-ia: Why Chicago hasn't dumped a gender-exclusive term http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/alder-man-ia-why-chicago-hasnt-dumped-gender-exclusive-term-110215 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/150633976&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>In 1987 <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/alder-man-ia-why-chicago-hasn%E2%80%99t-dumped-gender-exclusive-term-110215#toddmelby">Todd Melby</a> was a student at Northwestern University&rsquo;s Medill School of Journalism, and as part of regular class assignments he&rsquo;d cover Chicago&rsquo;s City Hall. The experience stuck with him for decades. Even from his present-day home of Minneapolis, he was motivated to send along this question concerning the most fundamental term used in City Council:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why hasn&#39;t Chicago dumped the guy-centric &quot;alderman&quot; title yet?</em></p><p>Maybe Todd&#39;s onto something. Cities across the country have been moving away from official use of the term, as language has become more gender-inclusive over time. That&rsquo;s especially true in cases where political and service titles can be regulated by local and state government. Firemen have officially become firefighters, for example. Ditto when it comes to police officers. As to why the term &quot;alderman&quot; in Chicago (as well as other Illinois cities with the aldermanic form of government) is a holdout, we found it has to do with law, for sure, but political inertia has played a part, too.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Women as Chicago aldermen</span></p><p>To back up a bit, the origin of the word alderman is inherently based on a single gender. The &quot;alder&quot; part comes from the Old English &quot;aldor&quot; meaning chief or patriarch, and the &quot;man&quot; part comes from the Old English ancestor of the same word.</p><p>&quot;Our language in government still reflects a bygone era when most elected officials were white males,&quot; said Gerald Gabris, a municipal government expert based at Northern Illinois University.</p><p>The earliest mention we found of a possible Chicago &ldquo;alderwoman&rdquo; candidate came in an 1902 in a <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> article.</p><p>&quot;&#39;The Alderwoman&#39;&quot; would be welcomed as a refining influence in the City Council &mdash; if she could get in,&quot; the article begins. But aldermen and city department heads quoted in the article voiced concern about whether women would want the job, or how they would act in it. &quot;Imagine a woman thinking that she had to answer to her constituents for those streets,&quot; the head of the city&#39;s Street department is quoted as saying. &quot;The whole office force would have to get out with whisk brooms and clean up for her.&rdquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago didn&rsquo;t have women on the council &mdash; regardless of what they were called &mdash; until 1971, when Marilou Hedlund and Anna Langford were elected.</p><p>Fast forward to 2014, when women hold fewer than one out of every three seats in City Council &mdash; a fact that some female aldermen say is a bigger issue than their gendered title. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I think focusing on the word is less important than the fact that there are only 16 women in city council,&rdquo; said Ald. Michele Smith (43rd).</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cowlishaw-yourhighness.png" title="An excerpt from a 1993 transcript from an IL House of Representatives debate on whether to change the term ‘alderman’ to ‘alderperson’. Rep. Clem Balanoff-D introduced the bill. Rep. Mary Lou Cowlishaw-R supported it." /></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">An official title and some pushback</span></p><p>According to the <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=&amp;ActID=802&amp;ChapterID=14&amp;SeqStart=35300000&amp;SeqEnd=36200000&amp;Print=True">Illinois Municipal Code</a>: &quot;In all cities incorporated under this Code there shall be elected a mayor, aldermen, a city clerk, and a city treasurer.&rdquo; Another state statute, <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=79&amp;ChapterID=2">which governs state statutes</a>, says: &quot;Words importing the masculine gender may be applied to females.&quot; Based on those two lines, <em>alderman</em> is the only legislative municipal title, and that&rsquo;s the case for all Illinois cities, not only Chicago.</p><p>And, the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/ethics/general/Ordinances/GEO-DEC2011.pdf">city&rsquo;s own language </a>on the matter, tautological as it may be, mirrors that of the state: &ldquo;&lsquo;Alderman&rsquo; means any person holding the elected office of alderman of the city council.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/carrie austin crop.png" style="float: left;" title="Ald. Carrie Austin, who's advocated to use the term alderwoman. (Source: cityofchicago.org)" />That&rsquo;s not to say there hasn&rsquo;t been some pushback against the term. Some aldermen, like Bob Fioretti, say they&rsquo;ll use the terminology informally.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, I refer to them as alderwomen or aldermen,&rdquo; Fioretti said.</p><p>Still, the fact the official language is exclusionary bothers Alderwoman Carrie Austin of the far South Side.</p><p>&ldquo;I want all of the women that are part of the city council to sign onto legislation such as that. To change our name, our legal title as alderwoman. So that we can circulate in that manner as well,&rdquo; Austin said.</p><p>That&rsquo;s what Austin would like to see, but even she hasn&rsquo;t kick-started a legislative campaign. And doing so could be complicated, considering past attempts to get a gender neutral term on the Illinois books were fraught with trouble.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Harold Washington nominates an alderwoman</span></p><p>There were two fights waged to put &ldquo;alderwoman&rdquo; or &ldquo;alderperson&rdquo; into official use. (There&rsquo;s no spoiler alert warranted here: You already know both failed!)</p><p>In <a href="http://docs.chicityclerk.com/journal/1983/121683optimize.pdf">December 1983</a>, then Chicago Mayor Harold Washington nominated Dorothy Tillman to represent the 3rd Ward located on the South Side. At the time, the City Council was in the midst of the infamous &ldquo;<a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/342.html">Council Wars</a>,&rdquo; in which dozens of aldermen vehemently opposed nearly everything Washington wanted to do.</p><p>Washington&rsquo;s opponents in the council blocked Tillman&rsquo;s nomination based on a single mistake in the appointment papers.</p><p>&ldquo;Harold Washington appointed me &lsquo;alderwoman&rsquo; of the 3rd Ward,&rdquo; Tillman said.</p><p>But the committee that considered nominations wouldn&rsquo;t have it, with the officially stated objection being that the use of the term &ldquo;alderwoman.&rdquo;</p><p>So on <a href="http://docs.chicityclerk.com/journal/1984/021584optimize.pdf">Feb. 15, 1984</a>, the mayor resubmitted the nomination, changing the word &quot;Alderwoman&quot; to &quot;Alderman.&quot; He noted that he was doing so in &quot;an effort to meet objections expressed by the chairman of that committee,&quot; referring to Rules Committee Chairman Frank Stemberk.</p><p>&ldquo;He [Washington] &nbsp;had to reappoint me as the alderman of the 3rd Ward,&rdquo; said Tillman, who took the seat the seat the following year and served until 2007. &ldquo;I wore the title of alderman proudly.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s unclear whether this battle over Tillman&rsquo;s nomination rested on gender politics, or whether it was just collateral damage from the ongoing council wars, in which the friction often came down to race. Harold Washington was the city&rsquo;s first African-American mayor. Dorothy Tillman is African-American.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/balanoff%20png.png" title="An excerpt from a 1993 transcript from an IL House of Representatives debate on whether to change the term ‘alderman’ to ‘alderperson’. Rep. Clem Balanoff-D introduced the bill. " /></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The second coming &hellip; and losing</span></p><p>In 1984 the term &ldquo;alderwoman&rdquo; became political fodder, but later there was a direct challenge to the gender-specific title of alderman.</p><p>In 1993, then-state Rep. Clem Balanoff (D) introduced a bill that &quot;does nothing more than change the term &#39;alderman&#39; to &#39;alderperson&#39;, in making the term gender neutral,&quot; according to a <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/house/transcripts/htrans88/HT031093.pdf">transcript of the floor debate.</a></p><p>Balanoff recently explained that he introduced the bill because a female Chicago alderman had relayed how annoyed she was at the state law.</p><blockquote><p><a name="debate"></a>(Here&#39;s the full floor debate, re-enacted by WBEZ staffers. Clem Balanoff stars as himself!)</p></blockquote><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/150599511&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Balanoff imagined the title change would be a slam dunk, as it had already passed in committee.</p><p>&ldquo;It just seems like something that makes so much sense,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t bother anybody. It&rsquo;s not going to change state statute so big, it doesn&rsquo;t cost any money.&rdquo;</p><p>But the bill never made it out of the Illinois House; Republican leader Bill Black successfully argued against it during the floor debate.</p><p>&ldquo;Let&rsquo;s, for once in a rare moon, use a little common sense,&rdquo; Black told his fellow representatives. &ldquo;Let those people be referred to or called by whatever they want, by whatever body they represent. I implore you not to clutter the state&rsquo;s statutes. I urge a &lsquo;no&rsquo; vote.&rdquo;</p><p>Balanoff said after Republican Bill Black spoke, most of the GOP followed suit.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to say they follow lockstep, but it&rsquo;s pretty close,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Balanoff added that, after the no vote of 1993, he imagined he&rsquo;d bring the issue up again down the line. He never did.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CoggsHead.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Ald. Milele Coggs, the only woman serving on Milwaukee's 15-member council. (Source: city.milwaukee.gov) " /><span style="font-size:22px;">Support for the word &ldquo;alderwoman&rdquo;?</span></p><p>While alderpersons or alderwomen aren&rsquo;t official terms in Illinois, they do exist in Wisconsin. In 1993, their state statutes were amended to refer to &ldquo;<a href="http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/62.pdf">alderpersons</a>.&rdquo; Just a few years before (1988), a rewrite of the <a href="http://city.milwaukee.gov/ImageLibrary/Groups/ccClerk/Ordinances/CH1.pdf">Milwaukee&rsquo;s city charter</a> officially recognized female council members as &ldquo;alderwomen.&rdquo;</p><p>That word has special significance to Milwaukee Alderwoman Milele Coggs, the only woman currently serving on the city&rsquo;s 15-member council.</p><p>&ldquo;For me to be called alderman, is to not give recognition to who or what I am, and although my gender is only part of what I am, it is part of me,&rdquo; Coggs said. &ldquo;Just like men who happen to serve as council members prefer to be called aldermen, I just prefer to be called alderwoman. It&#39;s recognition.&rdquo;</p><p>A handful of Chicago&#39;s suburbs use the term &quot;council member&quot; instead of alderman. Joliet, Wheaton and Naperville are among the suburbs that go as far as referring to members as &quot;councilman&quot; and &quot;councilwoman.&quot; No suburb with aldermen refer to female council members &quot;alderwomen.&quot;</p><p>But such a measure isn&rsquo;t likely to gather momentum anytime soon in Chicago. Few of the other aldermen interviewed for this piece suggested changing the word.<a name="toddmelby"></a></p><p>&quot;It personally doesn&#39;t make a difference to me how I&#39;m referred to,&quot; said Ald. Mary O&#39;Connor (41st). &quot;I worked really hard to become the alderman of the 41st Ward and I truly believe that there are more important issues for me to be advocating for than to change a title, so I&#39;m comfortable with being called alderman.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Todd%20Melby%20photo%20by%20Ben%20Garvin%20%28CREDIT%29.JPG" style="width: 270px; float: left; height: 194px;" title="Todd Melby, who asked us this question. (Photo by Ben Garvin)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Our question comes from: Todd Melby</span></p><p>Todd Melby is an independent media producer based out of Minneapolis, a place where people on the City Council used to be addressed as &ldquo;alderman,&rdquo; but are now referred to as council members.</p><p>Melby said, &ldquo;As I guy, I usually don&rsquo;t encounter this gender-specific stuff. However, as a father, people often use the term &ldquo;mothering&rdquo; when I would parent my children, 20-25 years ago. When they were young there were lots of ads that talked about &lsquo;mothering&rsquo; as a synonym for parenting. So I guess I was kind of sensitive to that as a father who was a very involved parent.&rdquo;</p><p>(Editor&rsquo;s note: Todd Melby also heads up <a href="http://blackgoldboom.com/">Black Gold Boom</a>, a project which &mdash; like Curious City &mdash; was initiated by <a href="http://localore.net/">Localore </a>from the <a href="http://www.airmedia.org/">Association of Independents in Radio</a>.)</p><p><em>Tanveer Ali is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tanveerali">@tanveerali</a>. Jennifer Brandel is Founder and Senior Producer of WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/JnnBrndl">@jnnbrndl</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 21 May 2014 12:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/alder-man-ia-why-chicago-hasnt-dumped-gender-exclusive-term-110215