WBEZ | politics http://www.wbez.org/tags/politics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Inaccurate voter data could hurt Asian voter blocs, other ethnic groups http://www.wbez.org/news/inaccurate-voter-data-could-hurt-asian-voter-blocs-other-ethnic-groups-111605 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ward.PNG" style="height: 274px; width: 620px;" title="File: A map on the wall of a Chicago campaign office. Many campaigns use the same source to find likely voters, but the advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice worries inaccurate data diminishes minority voter blocs' appeal. (WBEZ/Derek John)" />The staff at Asian Americans Advancing Justice has been busy registering new voters and planning their exit poll strategy for Tuesday. The organization wants to increase visibility for the Asian community.</p><p>But Kathleen Yang-Clayton with the organization says that&rsquo;s difficult when even the staff is misidentified.</p><p>&ldquo;He identifies as Japanese-American, multi-racial and he was listed as African American,&rdquo; Yang-Clayton said of one of her co-workers.</p><p>Many campaigns and advocacy groups like Advancing Justice use a database to target voters. Yang-Clayton took a little sample in her office, researching all of her co-workers, most of them Asian. Exactly half of the 14 were incorrectly identified.</p><p>&ldquo;Brian Hara who also identifies as Japanese-American was listed as Caucasian, Irish,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Chicago has more than 1.4 million registered voters. The database shows just over 35,000 Asians are among the voting population.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s already what we empirically have experienced as being under counts,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>When you register to vote, you give your name and address. You check a box saying you&rsquo;re a citizen and if you&rsquo;re of legal age. But campaigns know more about you than that -- like your race, age, past voting behavior.</p><p>&ldquo;I can also see household income and the car that you drive and some cases, your magazine subscription. And I can use this information to find out what you might be interested in,&rdquo; said Michael Miller, an assistant professor in political science at Barnard College.</p><p>Miller has worked on a number of campaigns as a strategist. The refined information he&rsquo;s talking about is called micro-targeting. He says any campaign that wants to be successful needs this.</p><p>&ldquo;You can cut turf so that you can have walkers just dropping literature for the people who you know are going to vote for you,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Maybe a reminder to go out to vote. Others are going to be trying to have conversations with folks the campaign thinks are persuadable.&rdquo;</p><p>Miller says the main database website Democratic campaigns use is maintained by a Washington, D.C.-based organization called NGP VAN. It&rsquo;s the same one Yang-Clayton uses.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Testing out the voter database &mdash; one hit, one miss</span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/san%20for%20cms.PNG" style="height: 346px; width: 620px;" title="A view of the voter information stored in a database commonly used by local campaigns. (Courtesy of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago)" /></div><p>Just to test it out, we entered my name into the database. The information showed my race as Asian and ethnicity as Korean. That&rsquo;s correct. But then we entered in the name of my colleague Odette Yousef. The database said her race is Hispanic and her ethnicity is Mexican. Odette is actually of Middle Eastern descent.</p><p>These data errors might seem a little funny, but Yang-Clayton says the difference in numbers could dictate the way campaigns do outreach and the language they do it in.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;ve seen in the data we use from VAN is that when there&rsquo;s a systematic undercounting, the impression that&rsquo;s given is that Asian Americans don&rsquo;t vote. So why make the effort,&rdquo; she asked.</p><p><span style="font-size: 24px;">Voter database only meant as &#39;starting point&#39;</span></p><p>Bryan Whitaker with NGP VAN, the company that maintains the database website, says the voter lists are generally good, but admits there are flaws across the board, not just for Asians.</p><p>Whitaker says he lives in a predominantly African-American community in Washington, D.C.</p><p>Whitaker, a white man, says campaigns try to appeal to him as if he is African-American. He says he&rsquo;s likely misidentified as being black because of his neighborhood.</p><p>He says the data is collected and analyzed by a separate group. They collect information from boards of election, marketing research and the U.S. Census. However, census data is based on the census tract and not at an individual level.</p><p>Whitaker says the lists are meant to be used as a starting point for campaigns.</p><p>&ldquo;A successful campaign will have a volunteer in those neighborhoods who is checking the lists before they actually go out and start knocking on those doors. That&rsquo;s the quality assurance check on those lists,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Yang-Clayton says the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice is able to make corrections to their own list, but that won&rsquo;t show up system-wide. And she questions whether campaigns actually take the extra steps.</p><p>Asians make up about 5.5 percent of the city&rsquo;s population. Yang-Clayton feels data inaccuracies hurt smaller groups like this.</p><p>&ldquo;Every point that&rsquo;s shaved off because they&#39;re misidentified or you don&rsquo;t click the right radio button to add people in has a significant impact,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>She says improvements could be made with finer data or even if the state has voters self-identify themselves.</p><p>Yang-Clayton says better data could show that Asians have a bigger influence on election day.</p><p><em><a href="http://twitter.com/soosieon">Susie An</a> is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/inaccurate-voter-data-could-hurt-asian-voter-blocs-other-ethnic-groups-111605 What’s in a name? Legacy aldermanic candidates defend 'The Chicago Way' http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/what%E2%80%99s-name-legacy-aldermanic-candidates-defend-chicago-way-111601 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_6865.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A few weeks ago, WGN news anchor Dan Ponce stood in front of a packed crowd in the echoey auditorium of Bateman Elementary School on Chicago&rsquo;s northwest side. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lz1hhBIjy0o">He was there to moderate the 33rd ward aldermanic debate</a>, a ward that he himself lives in.</p><p>&ldquo;Machine politics and the Chicago way, legendary in this city,&rdquo; Ponce says to the three candidates. &ldquo;How will your office work to break from this influence?&rdquo;</p><p>By the end of this question, the audience, and one of the candidates Tim Meegan, burst into laughter, and likely for a few reasons. The first is the great irony of a member of the Ponce family answering this question: Phil Ponce is a longtime journalist on WTTW, and his two sons Dan and Anthony have both gone on to successful television careers themselves. The audience is also laughing because right next to Ponce and Meegan is incumbent alderman Deb Mell.</p><p>Mell was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last year to take over for her dad, former Ald. Richard Mell. He&rsquo;s a powerful guy on the Northwest Side (and that could be putting it lightly) -- he was alderman for 38 years before his daughter took over.</p><p>Tim Meegan gave the first answer to Ponce&rsquo;s question:</p><p>&ldquo;It needs to end. It needs to stop. Nepotism and political dynasties in this town are the problem with why we&rsquo;re all so unsatisfied,&rdquo; Meegan said to loud applause from the audience.</p><p>And the fear of &ldquo;nepotism&rdquo; that Meegan mentioned is at the core of why Chicagoans often shudder at the thought of political jobs staying in the family. The idea that power could be based on who you know, rather than what you know.</p><p>Turns out, this election cycle, there are eight candidates who are facing that criticism; Eight people, including incumbents and new candidates, who are running for alderman this year, but who are either related to or were married to a former alderman or mayor.</p><p>For incumbents, the list includes 34th ward and budget chairman alderman Carrie Austin. She took over for her husband when he died in 1994. Alderman Harry Osterman in the 48th ward followed in his mother&rsquo;s footsteps, while 39th ward Ald. Margaret Laurino and 14th ward Ald. Ed Burke followed their fathers. Roderick Sawyer, alderman in the 6th ward, is the son of the late Mayor Eugene Sawyer.</p><p>And this is the year that 38th ward Alderman Tim Cullerton retires -- making it the first time since the Great Chicago Fire that a Cullerton isn&rsquo;t working in City Hall.</p><p>But when you take a look at some of these newer candidates, how they&rsquo;re trying to combat that &ldquo;Chicago Way criticism&rdquo; varies completely.</p><p>When it became Deb Mell&rsquo;s turn to answer Ponce&rsquo;s question, she first expressed her love for her dad. But then, she brings up a recent Walgreens project as an example of how different the two are. She says her father didn&rsquo;t talk to any of the neighborhood groups about the project. Instead, he just went right ahead with it.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think that way,&rdquo; Mell said. &ldquo;I think our ward is too important to just throw stuff in there. And so I stopped the project, and that made for a very interesting Christmas, to be quite honest.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile in the 16th ward, on Chicago&rsquo;s south side, the candidate-family dynamic couldn&rsquo;t be clearer. Shirley Coleman was alderman of that ward for more than half of her daughter Stephanie&rsquo;s life. Now 27, Stephanie is running for the seat herself, and has pictures of her and her mother prominently displayed on everything from campaign mailers to <a href="https://instagram.com/p/yN0dEPvB4N/?modal=true">social media</a>.</p><p>Even her campaign slogan is a blatant reminder of where she comes from.</p><p>&ldquo;Built on proven leadership is a model and theme in this campaign, that look, what I may lack in age I gain in experience, I have someone who has mentored me who has 16 years of experience,&rdquo; Coleman said.</p><p>And almost to belabor the point - her mom happened to show up during our interview.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re just proud that this is the route that she chose, not I,&rdquo; Shirley Coleman said, laughing and smiling toward her daughter.</p><p>But what if you&rsquo;re running to represent a neighborhood that&rsquo;s steeped in family political history? What if the doors you&rsquo;re knocking on are in the ward that many consider the epicenter of nepotism and machine politics?</p><p>Those are the questions Patrick Daley Thompson faces as he drives his Jeep Cherokee through his community, the 11th ward.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m very proud of my family, I&rsquo;m not running from my family, nor am I running on my family name. I&rsquo;m running. The fact is, my name is Patrick Daley Thompson,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>That means his Uncle Rich is Mayor Richard M. Daley. Thompson even lives at 35th and Lowe in the house his grandfather built. His grandfather, of course, is Mayor Richard J Daley. And Thompson knows well - that Daley name is something voters won&rsquo;t ignore - his opponents certainly haven&rsquo;t.</p><p>&ldquo;In this race in particular, yeah I&rsquo;ve heard by the other people about the old machine politics, and first of all I have no idea, that&rsquo;s like the 1920s they&rsquo;re talking about,&rdquo; Daley said. &ldquo;Our campaign is organized with people who have never been involved with political campaigns, ever.&rdquo;</p><p>One of his aldermanic opponents, Maureen Sullivan, a community activist and longtime Bridgeport resident, says another Daley in office means a return to the old &ldquo;machine style&rdquo; of politics.</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s just a different face, it&rsquo;s the same mechanism that&rsquo;s going to be operating this area, and they have an old school way of looking at things and we need someone who can look forward not backwards,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>But as Thompson drives around the neighborhood he&rsquo;s called home his whole life, his last name isn&rsquo;t what he wants to discuss. He&rsquo;d rather go through his almost encyclopedic knowledge of the ward: He knows every alley, every park, every development and he promptly points out every viaduct that needs repairing -- even suggesting potential partners to help him clean them up.</p><p>Thompson will say he wanted to run for office, not be appointed, and he says that he wasn&rsquo;t forced to do any of this. And besides, he adds: lots of families are this way.</p><p>&ldquo;For example at my law firm - there&rsquo;s a lot of people whose parents were lawyers. And their kids are lawyers. Because they&rsquo;ve seen what their parents do,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;In the media, there are a lot of fathers and daughters. You know, [like] Phil Ponce?&rdquo;</p><p>But lawyers or reporters - even the Ponces - aren&rsquo;t the ones responsible for delivering city services - or fixing the city&rsquo;s finances. And so experts say even if these candidates pass the first test of getting elected, the tough scrutiny or jabs about the Chicago way should not disappear overnight.</p><p>Former Alderman and now University of Illinois at Chicago political professor Dick Simpson says if these alderman deliver city services equally, and if they vote in the interests of their ward, rather than the mayor, and if they appoint people outside of their family circle, only then can voters overlook that their last -- or middle -- names have been seen many times before.<br /><br /><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s city politics reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Sat, 21 Feb 2015 12:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/what%E2%80%99s-name-legacy-aldermanic-candidates-defend-chicago-way-111601 No conspiracy required: The true origins of Chicago's February elections http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/no-conspiracy-required-true-origins-chicagos-february-elections-111585 <p><p>With Chicago&rsquo;s municipal election less than a week away, we couldn&rsquo;t help but notice a bevy of questions related to the fact that the races for mayor and city aldermen are settled in late February. In short, a lot of folks suspect that the timing, with the chance of sub-zero temps and snow, amounts to a conspiracy &mdash; one that undercuts the whole democratic thrust of the election itself.</p><p>&ldquo;I mean, nasty cold weather would seem to suppress voter turnout,&rdquo; says Curious Citizen Dave Seglin.</p><p>Another question-asker, Jesse Ackles, adds: &ldquo;My cynical take on it is that it really seems to favor incumbents.&rdquo;</p><p>The most concise formulation of the question comes from Eric Sherman, a local campaign worker who&rsquo;s been canvassing for votes in this nasty cold weather. Here it is:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why are the Chicago Municipal Elections held in February? What&rsquo;s the REAL reason?</em></p><p>For the record, Eric&rsquo;s not entirely sure the timing is a ploy meant to mess with the administration of democracy, but his formulation (&ldquo;the REAL reason&rdquo;) resonated with a lot of commenters on Twitter and Facebook.</p><p>Regardless, we&rsquo;re going to clear things up, for sure. But a warning to conspiracy theorists: You&rsquo;re not gonna like this. It turns out, there&rsquo;s good evidence that the timing of the February elections was intended to broaden voter participation, not narrow it. Don&rsquo;t blame us. Just read ahead and then blame the historical record.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">On the paper trail</span></p><p>Let&rsquo;s clarify what we&rsquo;re talking about when we say &ldquo;Chicago&rsquo;s February elections.&rdquo; Most towns in Illinois hold party primaries on the last Tuesday of February, while the municipal or so-called &ldquo;consolidated elections&rdquo; happen on the first Tuesday in April.</p><p>Chicago, though, is different. The city holds no primaries for alderman or mayor. Since 199, mayoral candidates have been elected on a nonpartisan basis. Run-offs are held between the top two vote getters if there is no clear majority. Those occur in April.</p><p>Ok, on to the origin story.</p><p>The obvious call to make first is to the Chicago Board of Elections. Jim Allen, a spokesman, says Chicago has held its election around this time of year as long ago as 1837.</p><p>&ldquo;The first mayoral election where Ogden beat Kenzie was in May, and ever since then as far as I can tell we&rsquo;ve been swearing in our mayors in May.&rdquo;</p><p>Of course, this was back when mayors only served one-year terms and City Hall was a saloon. But even Allen, who&rsquo;s been doing this for awhile, is a little stumped about the origins of the current date.</p><p>&ldquo;The part that&rsquo;s going to be hard is finding this bridge between May and when it got pushed back to February,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Is it a political reason that it&rsquo;s incumbent protection, by keeping the voters at home and turnout low? Who knows. That&rsquo;s for a political scientist to noodle over.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Primary election reform </span></p><p>Our next stop: Chicago&rsquo;s Municipal Reference Collection, which resides on the 5th floor of the Harold Washington Library. There, librarian Lyle Benedict begins with relevant passages in the<a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=001000050K2A-1.1" target="_blank"> Illinois compiled statutes</a>.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s elections, like every Illinois municipality, are set by state law. Except for a few years after the Civil War, these elections were held in April, as set forth in the Cities and Villages Act of 1872.</p><p>For most of the 19th century these were elections in name only; candidates that appeared on the ballot were chosen ahead of time by party bosses at state conventions.</p><p>All of this changed during the Progressive Era, when reformers pushed to institute open primaries, which would let average party members participate.</p><p>The change was hailed as a huge step forward.</p><p>On March 7, 1898, the<em> Chicago Tribune</em> wrote about a gathering of 800 young African-Americans at Bethel Church. The esteemed lawyer Edward E. Wilson was quoted addressing the crowd:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;The days of corrupt politics in Chicago are numbered. A few more wise laws such as the new primary law will sound the death knell of the corrupt politician, the ballot-box stuffer, and ward heeler, and honest men will control the elections, and when that time comes honest men will cease to be ashamed to play their part in politics.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1898/03/07/page/7/article/honest-primaries-discussed" width="300"></iframe></p><p>According to Benedict and legislative records, there was another change in the works: These primaries were set for February &mdash; more than a month before the April elections. In 1905, Benedict says, Chicago held its first February primary elections.</p><p>&ldquo;Looks like the Republicans were February 14, the Democrats were February 24 and the Socialists were March 4,&rdquo; Benedict notes, pointing to old election rolls.</p><p>These open primaries empowered average voters (at least eligible<em> male</em> voters), but reformers felt it didn&rsquo;t go far enough. Over the next decade they advocated for direct primaries, which would consolidate all of the state&rsquo;s primaries &mdash; regardless of party &mdash; on a single day.</p><p>This was a contentious issue, as entrenched party interests sought to preserve the status quo. A <em>Chicago Tribune</em> article from Oct 15, 1907, was headlined: &ldquo;New Primary Act May Cause Spasm: Measure to be Introduced Today at Springfield Is So Direct That It Staggers Politicians.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1907/10/15/page/1/article/new-primary-act-may-cause-spasm" width="300"></iframe></p><p>Reformers eventually won out, however, and the day lawmakers selected was the last Tuesday in February. That date has stuck ever since.</p><p>At the time this was a radical change, according to Maureen Flanagan, a historian at the Illinois Institute of Technology.</p><p>&ldquo;The parties can&rsquo;t just hunker down and control everything,&rdquo; she says, adding that since the general elections were in April, moving the consolidated primaries back to February gave voters a lot more say.</p><p>&ldquo;So if you&rsquo;ve got, say, 6 weeks, [candidates] have a chance to get out and give speeches, do interviews, and it does in fact make it possible for people to know who the candidates are,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>And, Flanagan says, people felt they now had a voice in deciding who would run the city, which led to an increase in voter turnout.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Timing is everything</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/snow%20gearing%20up.jpg" style="float: right; height: 467px; width: 350px;" title="A trio of campaign volunteers for Alderman Proco Joe Moreno bundle up against the cold as they prepare to hit ward precincts with flyers and door-hangers. (WBEZ/Derek John)" />Okay, at this point, we can just say it: The conspiracy theories are dead wrong about why Chicago elections are in February. The timing wasn&rsquo;t originally created to suppress voter turnout &mdash; quite the opposite.</p><p>The next question is: Why do so few people remember it that way?</p><p>Well, one reason is that &mdash; starting in the 1930s &mdash; the Democrats have dominated municipal elections. Then, there&rsquo;s the Democratic Machine, which has been implicated in notorious election shenanigans: Sitting politicians doled out jobs for votes, ballots sometimes were &ldquo;lost&rdquo; during key contests, and nepotism often prevailed in the selection of candidates. Little wonder that citizens find the very timing of elections suspect.</p><p>Dick Simpson, a professor of political science at UIC, was one of the few independents who was elected to the City Council back in 1971. He says for local ward races, especially, the Machine was hard to beat.</p><p>&ldquo;Aldermanic elections are frequently thrown to the Machine for many reasons: patronage, jobs, favors, corrupt contracts. But the winter weather does not help,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>And yet Simpson provides at least one example of when February&rsquo;s blustery weather worked against the Democratic Machine.</p><p>This was during the 1979 Democratic mayoral primary. The incumbent, Michael Bilandic, faced Jane Byrne. As the two went head to head in January, blizzard after blizzard deposited enough snow to practically shut down the city. By the end of one gigantic snowstorm, Simpson says, Chicagoans could look out their windows and see 5 or 6 feet of snow staring back at them.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;d be skiing to the grocery store because you couldn&rsquo;t get there any other way,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The &lsquo;L&rsquo;s weren&rsquo;t running, so they cut the &lsquo;L&rsquo; stops in the black community, which enraged the black community.&rdquo;</p><p>These political problems piled up &mdash; nearly as high as the snow &mdash; until just a few weeks later, when Bilandic went down to a shocking defeat.</p><p>While Simpson acknowledges other factors, he says the timing of the election was huge.</p><p>&ldquo;If it had been held in April, Jane Byrne probably wouldn&rsquo;t have been elected.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Today&rsquo;s election reforms</span></p><p>While it&rsquo;s still hard to campaign during the winter, in some ways it&rsquo;s never been easier to vote in Chicago.</p><p>Echoing the Progressive reforms from a century ago, new rules have extended the early voting period and allowed more people to use mail-in ballots. Starting in 2016, every polling station in the city will have same-day registration.</p><p>One last thing to note. Chicago&rsquo;s average voter turnout for municipal elections hovers around 40 percent. Compare that to turnout in San Antonio, Texas. According to <a href="http://www.fairvote.org/research-and-analysis/blog/fairvote-report-low-turnout-plagues-u-s-mayoral-elections-but-san-francisco-is-highest/#.UqoBkvRDtrE" target="_blank">figures collected by the voter advocacy group Fair Vote </a>, turnout in that city&rsquo;s last few mayoral elections averaged below 10 percent.</p><p>Translation? Chicago&rsquo;s turnout is higher than nearly every other big city &mdash; even those in warmer climates, where braving the outdoors in February isn&rsquo;t so intimidating.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question%20asker2.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Question-asker Eric Sherman standing in front of a map of Chicago’s 1st ward. (Derek John/WBEZ)" /><span style="font-size:24px;">Who asked our question?</span></p><p>We received several versions of this question about the timing of Chicago elections, but the one we got from Eric Sherman accompanied a great backstory. He&rsquo;s a local political activist and self-proclaimed political science nerd. He&rsquo;s currently working on Alderman (1st) Proco Joe Moreno&rsquo;s reelection campaign, which means he&rsquo;s often going door-to-door in this brutal weather.</p><p>&ldquo;People are nice about it and sometimes they&rsquo;ll let you in,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;If you can get into an apartment complex, that&rsquo;s great. That&rsquo;s a good 15 to 20 minutes where you&rsquo;re inside a building.&rdquo;</p><p>When we tell Eric how the February election date was originally a reform that encouraged greater voter participation, he gets ecstatic.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s another example of the contradictory nature of Chicago politics,&quot; he says. &quot;People get really negative and really pessimistic, and they assume the whole system is rigged. As someone who&rsquo;s involved in local &nbsp;politics, it&rsquo;s not rigged. If it was, we wouldn&rsquo;t be out there knocking on doors and getting supporters.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Derek L. John is WBEZ&#39;s Community Bureaus Editor. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/derekljohn" target="_blank">@derekljohn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 18 Feb 2015 18:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/no-conspiracy-required-true-origins-chicagos-february-elections-111585 Obama will veto Keystone XL legislation http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-will-veto-keystone-xl-legislation-111345 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP434296636482.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="storytext"><p>The White House says President Obama will veto any congressional legislation that approves the Keystone XL pipeline.</p><p>&quot;If this bill passes this Congress, the president wouldn&#39;t sign it,&quot; White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.</p><p>The House, which has a Republican majority, is expected to vote on a Keystone bill this week. The GOP-dominated Senate is considering a similar measure, which has bipartisan support.</p><p>The pipeline, which would move crude from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico, has been at the center of a long and contentious debate involving politicians, energy companies and environmentalists, <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/11/17/364727163/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-keystone-xl-oil-pipeline">as NPR&#39;s Scott Horsley and Jeff Brady reported last November</a>.</p><p>Supporters of the pipeline say it will create 42,000 jobs, but opponents cite environmental concerns and are skeptical about how many jobs the project can actually create &mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2014/11/18/364751183/how-many-louisiana-jobs-are-actually-at-stake-in-keystone-debate">with one estimate</a> noting that it would create just 35 permanent jobs.</p><p>A State Department <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/01/31/269529696/state-dept-delivers-unwelcome-news-for-keystone-opponents">environmental review</a> of the project found Keystone wouldn&#39;t have an significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. As to where Obama stands on the pipeline, here&#39;s more from NPR&#39;s Horsley and Brady:</p><blockquote><div><p>&quot;The president has unusual leverage over this pipeline. Because it crosses the U.S. border with Canada, Keystone XL requires a &#39;presidential permit.&#39; Obama has guarded that power jealously. Three years ago, when Congress tried to force him to make a decision by issuing a 60-day deadline, he simply rejected the permit application.</p><p>&quot;The political challenge for Obama is that Democrats are genuinely divided on the issue, with construction unions favoring the project and some environmental activists opposing it. No matter what he decides, some constituents will be unhappy &mdash; so the president has basically stalled.&quot;</p></div></blockquote><p>The U.S. State Department is conducting a review of the pipeline&#39;s route, but that process has been held up because of a lawsuit in Nebraska over where the pipeline will be located.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/06/375412544/obama-will-veto-keystone-xl-legislation-white-house-says" target="_blank">via NPR</a></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 06 Jan 2015 14:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-will-veto-keystone-xl-legislation-111345 Morning Shift: Talking religion and politics http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2014-12-30/morning-shift-talking-religion-and-politics-111307 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Sneferus Cat.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In the spirit of the holidays we&#39;re tackling the twin dinner table taboos of faith and politics. We discuss top religion stories of 2014 and the Chicago Reader&#39;s Mick Dumke walks us down his political hall of shame.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-talking-religion-and-politics/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-talking-religion-and-politics.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-talking-religion-and-politics" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Talking religion and politics" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 30 Dec 2014 08:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2014-12-30/morning-shift-talking-religion-and-politics-111307 Durbin leaving Congressional roommates behind http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-leaving-congressional-roommates-behind-111261 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP602936696661.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For Senator Dick Durbin, the upcoming session of Congress marks the end of an era. And it&rsquo;s not because the Senate is turning from blue to red.</p><p>After more than 20 years, the number two Democrat will be forced to find a new place to live. Durbin has been sharing a Capitol Hill row house with two Democrats: New York Sen.Chuck Schumer, and Rep. George Miller of California, who is also the landlord. Other members of congress have stayed there through the years, including Marty Russo of Illinois, Leon Panetta of California, Sam Gejdenson of Connecticut, and Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts.</p><p>But in 2015, their landlord won&rsquo;t be returning to the Hill. Representative Miller announced at the beginning of this year that he wasn&rsquo;t going to seek a 21st term in the House of Representatives, and so he decided to sell the now somewhat famous frat house.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s the end of an era,&rdquo; Durbin said. &ldquo;And as I said to one of the other <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/17/us/after-decades-lawmakers-are-roommates-no-more.html" target="_blank">interviewers</a>, it&rsquo;s the end of America as I have known it. It is a new nation. I don&rsquo;t know, it&rsquo;ll be fine.&rdquo;</p><p>Durbin says he went out and got himself a little apartment that he&rsquo;ll move into in a couple weeks when the new session starts.</p><p>But the Senator didn&rsquo;t seem too thrilled about the change of pace, as he says he&rsquo;ll miss his roommates.</p><p>&ldquo;Coming home at night, late at night, and just sitting around, on the couch, talking about what happens and how it&rsquo;s seen differently in the House than it is in the Senate. You know, I miss that. And plus, we became friends, family friends.&rdquo;</p><p>Durbin has told stories in the past about the lack of cleanliness in the apartment. He says Miller would chide Schumer for leaving his bed unmade for &ldquo;7,000 nights.&rdquo; Durbin says his new Washington digs will be much cleaner than his last.</p><p>&ldquo;I am just an average clean up guy, and I stood out in this house as way above the rest,&rdquo; Durbin said.</p><p>If the vision of three, not just grown men, but powerful lawmakers, living together in a DC apartment sounds to you like the makings of a sitcom, you&rsquo;re not alone.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t tell you how many times people say, &lsquo;that would make a wonderful TV show.&rsquo; That story, I can just see it now,&rdquo; Durbin said, in a previous interview. &ldquo;And I said, understand there&rsquo;s no sex and violence here, so this is not likely to be very popular.&rdquo;</p><p>A few attempts at that show were made early on, including one by a then young comedian named Al Franken, but none were successful until last year, when Amazon produced a web series called <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Pilot-HD/dp/B00CDBTQCW" target="_blank">Alpha House</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-leaving-congressional-roommates-behind-111261 Obama re-establishing US relations with Cuba http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-re-establishing-us-relations-cuba-111251 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP561226672451.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON &mdash; President Barack Obama announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and an easing in economic and travel restrictions on Cuba Wednesday, declaring an end to America&#39;s &quot;outdated approach&quot; to the communist island in a historic shift aimed at ending a half-century of Cold War enmity.</p><p>&quot;Isolation has not worked,&quot; Obama said in remarks from the White House. &quot;It&#39;s time for a new approach.&quot;</p><p>As Obama spoke, Cuban President Raul Castro addressed his own nation from Havana. He said that while profound differences remain between the two nations in such areas as human rights and foreign policy, they must learn to live with those differences &quot;in a civilized manner.&quot;</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/us-and-cuba-brief-history-tortured-relationship-111255" target="_blank">A brief history of the US relationship with Cuba</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Obama&#39;s action marked an abrupt use of U.S. executive authority. However, he cannot unilaterally end the longstanding U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, which was passed by Congress and would require action from lawmakers to overturn.</p><p>Wednesday&#39;s announcements followed more than a year of secret talks between the U.S. and Cuba, including clandestine meetings in Canada and the Vatican and personal involvement from Pope Francis. The re-establishment of diplomatic ties was accompanied by Cuba&#39;s release of American Alan Gross and the swap of a U.S. spy held in Cuba for three Cubans jailed in Florida.</p><p>In a statement, the Vatican said Pope Francis &quot;wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history.&quot;</p><p>Obama said Gross&#39; five-year imprisonment had been a major obstacle in normalizing relations. Gross arrived at an American military base just outside Washington Wednesday morning, accompanied by his wife and a handful of U.S. lawmakers. He went immediately into a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry.</p><p>As part of resuming diplomatic relations with Cuba, the U.S. will soon reopen an embassy in the capital of Havana and carry out high-level exchanges and visits between the governments. The U.S. is also easing travel bans to Cuba, including for family visits, official U.S. government business and educational activities. Tourist travel remains banned.</p><p>Licensed American travelers to Cuba will now be able to return to the U.S. with $400 in Cuban goods, including tobacco and alcohol products worth less than $100 combined. This means the long-standing ban on importing Cuban cigars is over, although there are still limits.</p><p>The U.S. is also increasing the amount of money Americans can send to Cubans from $500 to $2,000 every three months. Early in his presidency, Obama allowed unlimited family visits by Cuban-Americans and removed a $1,200 annual cap on remittances. Kerry is also launching a review of Cuba&#39;s designation as a state sponsor of terror.</p><p>Obama said he continued to have serious concerns about Cuba&#39;s human rights record but did not believe the current American policy toward the island was advancing efforts to change the government&#39;s behavior.</p><p>&quot;I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result,&quot; he said.</p><p>There remains a divide on Capitol Hill over U.S. policy toward Cuba. While some lawmakers say the embargo is outdated, others say it&#39;s necessary as long as Cuba refuses to reform its political system and improve its human rights record.</p><p>Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the new U.S. policy would do nothing to address those issues.</p><p>&quot;But it potentially goes a long way in providing the economic lift that the Castro regime needs to become permanent fixtures in Cuba for generations to come,&quot; Rubio said.</p><p>U.S. officials said Cuba was taking some steps as part of the agreement to address its human rights issues, including freeing 53 political prisoners.</p><p>Cuba also released a non-American U.S. intelligence &#39;asset&#39; along with Gross. Officials said the spy had been held for nearly 20 years and was responsible for some of the most important counterintelligence prosecutions that the United States has pursed in recent decades. That includes convicted Cuban spies Ana Belen Montes, Walter Kendall Myers and Gwendolyn Myers and a group known as the Cuban Five.</p><p>The three Cubans released in exchange for the spy are part of the Cuban Five &mdash; a group of men who were part of the &quot;Wasp Network&quot; sent by Cuba&#39;s then-President Fidel Castro to spy in South Florida. The men, who are hailed as heroes in Cuba, were convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the U.S.</p><p>Two of the five were previously released after finishing their sentences.</p><p>Gross was detained in December 2009 while working to set up Internet access as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, which does work promoting democracy in the communist country. It was his fifth trip to Cuba to work with Jewish communities on setting up Internet access that bypassed local censorship.</p><p>Bonnie Rubinstein, Gross&#39; sister, heard the news from a cousin, who saw it on television.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re like screaming and jumping up and down,&quot; she said in a brief telephone interview from her home in Texas.</p><p>Cuba considers USAID&#39;s programs illegal attempts by the U.S. to undermine its government, and Gross was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison.</p><p>Gross&#39; family has said he was in ailing health. His wife, Judy, said in a statement earlier this month that Gross has lost more than 100 pounds, can barely walk due to chronic pain, and has lost five teeth and much of the sight in his right eye.</p></p> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-re-establishing-us-relations-cuba-111251 Latinos worry after losing longtime seat in the Indiana Statehouse http://www.wbez.org/news/latinos-worry-after-losing-longtime-seat-indiana-statehouse-111079 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Reardon loses .jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In the wake of this week&rsquo;s sweeping GOP victories, some Latinos say they&rsquo;ve lost an important voice in the Indiana Statehouse.</p><p>Indiana&rsquo;s longest serving Latino state legislator, Democrat Mara Candelaria Reardon of Munster, was first elected to the Indiana House in 2006.</p><p>For years, she was the state&rsquo;s only Latino lawmaker, but on Tuesday she lost a close election to her Republican opponent Bill Fine.</p><p>Reardon&rsquo;s district, which once included heavily Hispanic areas like Hammond and East Chicago, shrunk over the last 8 years due to GOP-led redistricting.</p><p>Her seat had been held by a Latino for the last 32 years going back to when Jesse Villalpando Jr. was first elected to the seat.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s changed drastically. It&rsquo;s certainly gotten less and less Democratic and less and less Hispanic,&rdquo; Reardon said. &ldquo;It makes me sad that it&rsquo;s not a Latina seat anymore.&rdquo;</p><p>Reardon&rsquo;s defeat leaves State Rep. Christina Hale, a Democrat from Indianapolis who is part-Cuban, as Indiana&rsquo;s only Latino legislator.</p><p>At 5 percent, Indiana&rsquo;s Latino population has steadily grown over the last decade, including areas like Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.</p><p>In Lake County, Indiana, which includes Reardon&rsquo;s district, the Latino population is 12 percent. The history of the Hispanic community in Northwest Indiana dates back to the early 1900s when Mexicans began arriving in large numbers to work in the factories in East Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it does help to have someone of a Latino background,&quot; Hale said. &quot;And, I&rsquo;m a firm believer that our state legislature and our government should reflect our community and right now it doesn&rsquo;t.&rdquo;</p><p>Hale entered the Indiana House in 2012, and on Tuesday won re-election in a Republican-leaning district.</p><p>She views Reardon as a mentor and someone who championed issues important to Latinos, such as education. She also points to Reardon&rsquo;s fight against state laws that some viewed as being anti-immigrant.</p><p>&ldquo;We do need more people of Latino descent, and more women, different age groups, different perspectives being reflected in our legislature,&rdquo; Hale said. &ldquo;Right now, it&rsquo;s fairly homogeneous.&rdquo;</p><p>Representative-elect Fine beat Reardon by 422 votes to win the seat. He lost to Reardon two years ago.</p><p>Fine says he&rsquo;s aware of issues that may be important to Latinos, although the new district boundaries don&rsquo;t include the predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods it once did.</p><p>Fine, who is a lawyer, says his son-in-law is Mexican-American, and he has several friends who are also Latino.</p><p>&ldquo;There are all kinds of issues that are important to Hispanics,&rdquo; Fine said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think of it as a single-minded perspective, or single-minded issues. &hellip; And, not all Hispanics are in line with Democrats.&rdquo;</p><p>Before the 12th House district was redrawn, it encompassed a wide area from the shores of Lake Michigan in Whiting to the town of Dyer about 15 miles south.</p><p>&ldquo;Democrats benefited from the sense that it made it nearly impossible for a Republican to win,&rdquo; Fine said.</p><p>The new boundaries for the 12th District include parts of Munster, Highland and Griffith, wealthier areas with few minorities.</p><p>Fine noted that the areas with large Hispanic populations, Hammond, East Chicago and Whiting, are represented by non-Latino, white or black Democrats, most of whom have been in office for years.</p><p>John Aguilera, who represented the 12th District for eight years and succeeded Villalpando, wasn&rsquo;t surprised by Reardon&rsquo;s loss to Fine.</p><p>&ldquo;The way the district was lined up, I could see that coming,&rdquo; Aguilera, of East Chicago, said.</p><p>But Aguilera does put some of the blame of Reardon&rsquo;s loss on her fellow House Democrats.</p><p>&ldquo;I was a little disturbed that other Democratic legislators didn&rsquo;t accommodate her somewhat,&rdquo; Aguilera said. &ldquo;In Indiana, you can&rsquo;t create a district for one particular nationality or race but you can create a district based on communities of interest. But the Hispanic community is an afterthought. They pay it lip service.&rdquo;</p><p>For a time, Democrats Reardon and Hale found an ally in State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, a Republican of Mexican descent, whose district included the City of Elkhart. But earlier this year Kubacki lost in the primary and won&rsquo;t serve a second two-year term.</p><p>&ldquo;It breaks my heart to think that this coming year that I will be the only one left,&rdquo; Hale said. &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t seem right and doesn&rsquo;t seem appropriate.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 12:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/latinos-worry-after-losing-longtime-seat-indiana-statehouse-111079 The Study Guide: Candidates on the big issues http://www.wbez.org/news/study-guide-candidates-big-issues-111034 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/sparknotes Quinn Rauner.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>With the election just days away, we gave Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner a questionnaire on five big topics: Education, the minimum wage, income taxes, pensions and jobs.</p><p>You can see the full questionnaires (and the candidates&#39; full answers) <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/study-guide-top-issues-candidates-own-words-111034#fullquestionnaire" target="_blank">below</a>, but we&rsquo;ve also worked them into a kind of SparkNotes guide for Illinois voters. We kept the negative barbs out of this guide, but as you&rsquo;ll see in the full questionnaire, both candidates couldn&rsquo;t help but take swipes at each other.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/174639538&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><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Income Tax</span></p><p>If you&rsquo;ve watched any of the <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/sets/il-election-2014-raw-debate-1" target="_blank">three debates</a>, or even turned a television on in Illinois lately, you&rsquo;ve probably heard the candidates talking about income tax on the campaign trail.</p><blockquote><p><strong><a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/sets/il-election-2014-raw-debate-1" target="_blank">Listen to raw audio from the three Illinois gubernatorial debates</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>It&rsquo;s partly because the State of Illinois&rsquo; budget is in a bit of trouble. Take the backlog of bills, for example: State estimates can vary, but right now Illinois is dealing with more than $4.1 billion in unpaid bills.</p><p>Back in 2011, Gov. Quinn signed a bill that boosted the income tax rate up to five percent for four years, though it was scheduled to drop down to 3.75 percent at the end of this year.</p><p>Quinn&rsquo;s since said the state needs to &ldquo;maintain the state&rsquo;s income tax where it is today&rdquo; as part of his balanced budget plan. Quinn says his plan will help pay down Illinois&rsquo; bills, avoid cuts to education, public safety and human services, prevent property tax increases and provide additional property tax relief.</p><p>Meanwhile, Rauner says he wants to bring that income tax rate down.</p><p>&ldquo;We need to roll back the income tax hike if we want to attract high-quality jobs back to Illinois,&rdquo; he wrote. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s the ultimate way to fix the budget&mdash;by having more tax-paying citizens.&rdquo;</p><p>Though both candidates were asked what the &ldquo;right income tax rate&rdquo; would be for Illinois, Rauner didn&rsquo;t specify a number. In his campaign literature, Rauner says he would roll back the income tax rate to three percent over the next four years.</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Minimum Wage</span></p><p>The minimum wage debate has been important not just between Rauner and Quinn but across the state and the country. We asked both candidates if they&rsquo;d raise the minimum wage, and if so, by how much, and when?</p><p>Rauner&rsquo;s gotten flack about moving back and forth on this issue. <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-01-09/news/chi-rauner-on-minimum-wage-flap-i-made-a-mistake-20140108_1_minimum-wage-federal-rate-bruce-rauner" target="_blank">Videos</a>&nbsp;and audio have surfaced that show Rauner calling for cuts to Illinois&rsquo; $8.25 minimum wage. But in our questionnaire, he says he is for raising the state minimum wage, with some caveats:</p><p>&ldquo;The state of Illinois should implement a phased-in minimum wage increase, coupled with workers&rsquo; compensation and lawsuit reforms to bring down employer costs,&rdquo; he wrote. He added that he&rsquo;d support an increase to the federal minimum wage so that Illinois remains &ldquo;competitive with our neighboring states.&rdquo;</p><p>Rauner didn&rsquo;t say how much he wants to raise the minimum wage, or when he would do it, if elected.</p><blockquote><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/2014-election-coverage-citizens-heres-your-homework-110973" target="_blank"><strong>Citizens! Here&rsquo;s your homework: WBEZ&#39;s 2014 election coverage</strong></a></p></blockquote><p>Quinn&rsquo;s also been criticized on this issue: He&rsquo;s been for raising the minimum wage, but some have called him out for not boosting it during his time in office, despite having a Democratic majority in the General Assembly. Quinn wrote in our questionnaire that he&rsquo;s working on it.</p><p>&ldquo;Yes, I am currently fighting to raise the state&rsquo;s minimum wage to at least $10 an hour to help Illinois workers and working families,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Tax Education</span></p><p>We asked the candidates to dig into two issues when it comes to education: Charter schools and funding. Right now, there&rsquo;s a limit on how many charter schools can be opened in Illinois.</p><p>Rauner, a long-time supporter of charter schools and a financial supporter of charters (including one that <a href="http://raunercollegeprep.noblenetwork.org/" target="_blank">carries</a>&nbsp;his name on the Near West Side of Chicago), says he&rsquo;d throw out that limit.</p><p>&ldquo;Public charter schools are not the only solution for parents looking for better educational options,&rdquo; he wrote. &ldquo;But they are an important resource for communities with no other option.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, Quinn says he&rsquo;d keep the 120 cap on charters.</p><p>&ldquo;I believe before moving forward with authorizing more charters, it&rsquo;s important to complete an impact study of how charter school policy has impacted the district as a whole,&rdquo; Quinn wrote.</p><p>An important note: No matter who gets elected, the state is far from reaching that 120 cap. So regardless of whether the limit gets thrown out, there&rsquo;s still room to grow in the charter sector.&nbsp;</p><p>Both candidates have talked a lot about the importance of funding education&mdash;and they&rsquo;ve criticized each other even more over that issue. But ask how much the State of Illinois should pay per child for public education and neither gives a number.</p><p>In Rauner&rsquo;s answer, he listed his experience on education boards, and the schools and programs he and his wife Diana have financially supported.</p><p>Quinn&rsquo;s answer is the closest we got to an actual number. He says his five-year blueprint will &ldquo;allow us to fund the foundations level up to at least 100 percent over the next five years.&rdquo;</p><p>Another quick note: the power to fund public education in Illinois doesn&rsquo;t just rest in the governor&rsquo;s pen. Right now, the foundation level of what&rsquo;s known as &ldquo;general state aid&rdquo; is currently set at $6,119. But no district gets that exact number from the state, as there&rsquo;s a formula for funding that includes local property taxes, grants and other funds. As the sausage gets made, that original per-pupil amount can be molded and changed into something different.</p><p>So no matter who is governor, the general assembly holds the key to what districts get per student. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Pensions</span></p><p>Ah, pensions. We couldn&rsquo;t have an Illinois voter guide without addressing this topic. The State of Illinois currently faces a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-pension-problem-how-big-it-really-109659" target="_blank">$100 billion dollar</a>&nbsp;pension shortfall.</p><p>Quinn says the best way out of the pension mess is the pension reform bill he signed last December.</p><p>&ldquo;The comprehensive pension reform I fought for a [sic] signed into law will eliminate our unfunded pension liability and stabilize our pension system,&rdquo; Quinn wrote.</p><p>The reform package includes reductions to some workers&rsquo; benefits and boosts the retirement age. It&rsquo;s currently facing a constitutional challenge, but Quinn hasn&rsquo;t released any sort of plan B in case it&rsquo;s overturned. When asked, he commonly uses a familiar phrase that Quinn credits his father with: &ldquo;don&rsquo;t take an aspirin until you get a headache.&rdquo;</p><p>Rauner says he would also wait to see what the judge rules before constructing his own pension plan, but wrote, &ldquo;I have always maintained moving to a new, defined contribution system for future work is a critical component of true pension reform that would be constitutional.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Jobs</span></p><p>The State of Illinois&rsquo; job market was the number one issue during the first gubernatorial debate. While the state continues to add jobs, it still <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-states-job-creators-1029-biz-20141028-story.html" target="_blank">struggles</a>&nbsp;in national rankings. We asked the candidates to pick one job sector that they think the state should focus on first to get the economy growing again. Neither candidate chose just one.</p><p>Rauner said the state&rsquo;s economy is in such dire straits that &ldquo;we can&rsquo;t afford to focus on only one sector.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;From tech to manufacturing to energy development, we need policies that unlock the natural advantages of our state,&rdquo; he wrote.</p><p>Quinn&rsquo;s answer was similar.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the great advantages to Illinois is the state&rsquo;s diverse economy, and continuing to growing [sic] the economy requires a focus on multiple sectors,&rdquo; he wrote.</p><p>Quinn said the state could drive innovation by building research and technology hubs in sectors like manufacturing, agriculture, energy and IT.</p><p>Quinn and Rauner have both turned to their backgrounds as proof of their ability to create jobs. Quinn has held a lot of job announcement press conferences ahead of the election, like this week&rsquo;s news that <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20141028/NEWS07/141029791/amazon-plans-illinois-operations-1000-jobs" target="_blank">Amazon</a>&nbsp;will open a distribution center here. But even as <a href="http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.il.htm" target="_blank">job</a>&nbsp;numbers continue to improve for Illinois, Quinn has faced criticism for the state&rsquo;s low overall employment <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20141021/NEWS02/141029953/how-the-latest-jobs-report-helps-and-hurts-quinn-and-rauner" target="_blank">levels</a>.</p><p>Meanwhile, Rauner has spent a lot of time talking up his work with GTCR, a private equity firm he built (the R stands for Rauner), as well as explaining how his career in business could help him fix Illinois&rsquo; financial woes. But he hasn&rsquo;t escaped criticism either: Rauner&rsquo;s faced <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20141022/BLOGS02/141029923/what-one-rauner-business-deal-says-about-the-candidate" target="_blank">hit</a>&nbsp;after <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-01-25/news/ct-illinois-republican-governor-race-met-0126-20140126_1_gtcr-bruce-rauner-court-awards" target="_blank">hit</a>&nbsp;of &nbsp;accusations of mismanagement in some of the companies GTCR invested in.&nbsp;</p><p><font color="#333333" face="Arial, sans-serif" size="5"><span style="line-height: 22px;">Quinn&#39;s full questionnaire answers<a name="fullquestionnaire"></a></span></font></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_76517" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/245046312/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><font color="#333333" face="Arial, sans-serif" size="5"><span style="line-height: 22px;">Rauners&#39;s full questionnaire answers</span></font></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_62842" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/245051905/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-d822f4cd-673d-da73-c09f-937f1d4b2ed0"><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ Reporter. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian.</a>&nbsp;Education reporter Becky Vevea also contributed to this reporting. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZEducation" target="_blank">@WBEZEducation</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/study-guide-candidates-big-issues-111034 Turn out for what? Will young voters make it to the polls, or stay home as usual? http://www.wbez.org/news/turn-out-what-will-young-voters-make-it-polls-or-stay-home-usual-111025 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Young Voters.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-66e03813-6290-1714-88ec-30ef0d92b54b">Cycle after cycle, voter turnout among young people trends especially low. For example, in the <a href="http://www.civicyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/The-CPS-youth-vote-2010-FS-FINAL1.pdf" target="_blank">last midterm election</a>, fewer than a quarter of eligible 18 to 29 year olds cast ballots.</p><p>OK, so we are talking about the generation that invented the selfie. But young people do care about more than just themselves; but, they say, no one ever asks for their input.</p><p>Eve Rips is the Midwest Director of the <a href="http://younginvincibles.org/" target="_blank">Young Invincibles</a>. The national organization works to engage young adults on issues like higher education, healthcare and employment. And it made a point of asking young people for their thoughts.</p><p>&ldquo;We heard a lot about skyrocketing tuition, about violence on the streets, we heard time and again from young adults whose peers had been exposed to violence and significant trauma. We heard constantly about high rates of youth unemployment. We heard from people scared about not living up to their parents standard of living,&rdquo; Rips explained. &nbsp;</p><p>And young people in Illinois, it turns out, are very happy to talk the talk&hellip;they tend not to walk the walk. A <a href="http://documents.mccormickfoundation.org/pdf/2012_Illinois_Civic_Health_Index.pdf" target="_blank">study on civic health</a> from the McCormick Foundation found that while a quarter of Illinois Millennials engage in weekly political discussions, they were at the the bottom of the pack when it came to voting regularly. Like, three from the bottom.</p><p>Democratic political consultant Tom Bowen said sometimes low turnout is a measure of the issues that are out there; certain groups are highly attuned to the issues that a candidate can appeal to.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s not very many not very many messages about Medicare and Social Security that are going to entice young voters into the electorate,&rdquo; Bowen explained.</p><p>It&rsquo;s easy to see how it might be a struggle to make those particular issues sexy. Young people tend not to think about their retirement or long-term health until it&rsquo;s staring them right in the face.</p><p>&ldquo;Most of the time what brings young voters into the electorate is they become parents and they care about schools. Schools are a pretty motivating local issue that tends to get people to pay attention to what their government is doing,&rdquo; said Bowen.</p><p>Campaigns are faced with limited time and resources -- and they have to focus on the folks they know are going to be there.</p><p>And, if we&rsquo;re honest with ourselves, young people -- Millennials like this reporter -- we&rsquo;re lazy. That&rsquo;s right, the most educated generation in history is sitting at home, avoiding joining the workforce because -- we&rsquo;re entitled narcissists. Or, at least that&rsquo;s the stereotype.</p><p>It&rsquo;s the same old song. But maybe if you could get <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rijpU5yD55I" target="_blank">Lil Jon</a> to sing it, while applying some good, old-fashioned peer pressure...junior would get off the couch.</p><p>According to political psychologist Jon Krosnick, social pressure is a very effective tool in elections. He said voter turnout is contagious.</p><p>&ldquo;At one level, participating in an election might seem like an irrational act -- because any one individual is certainly not likely to have any meaningful impact on the outcome of any election. But, in fact, each person&rsquo;s action can be magnified,&rdquo; Krosnick explained.</p><p>By voting -- and letting others know that you voted -- you actually increase the likelihood that other people will vote.</p><p>But pollster <a href="http://weaskamerica.com/" target="_blank">Gregg Durham</a> said the easier, surer thing &hellip; is to make a play for mom. &nbsp;</p><p>Durham said suburban women tipped the dead-even scales for Governor Pat Quinn four years ago when they failed to turn out for Bill Brady. And this year&rsquo;s governor&rsquo;s race is just as tight.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no group that they say don&rsquo;t worry about them, we can&rsquo;t get enough of them. If you have the wherewithal you go after every vote you can. However, you go after the low-hanging fruit first...and the young voter is a tough harvest,&rdquo; Durham explained.</p><p>According to Durham, if just three more people had voted in each precinct in 2010, Illinois would probably be talking about Brady&rsquo;s re-election.</p><p>Every vote really does count. And there are young people out there, trying to get their peers to the polls. People like Connie C. Luo, a field organizer with <a href="http://chicagovotes.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Votes</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s something like an intervention to the cycle of oppression, to the cycle of apathy, that systemically has prevented young people from raising their voice. And so, the best way to do that is to direct one-on-one intervention, by being out in the field, by targeting people who need to register, who need to vote the most...that way we can move forward,&rdquo; Luo said.</p><p>Chicago Votes has registered over 15,000 young people with its get-out-the-vote campaign this year, bringing their coalition&rsquo;s total to over 115,000. Parades to the polls have been planned to make sure that those registered actually make it to the polls on Tuesday.</p><p>If they do, it will definitely matter. It may even shape the future.</p></p> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/turn-out-what-will-young-voters-make-it-polls-or-stay-home-usual-111025