WBEZ | politics http://www.wbez.org/tags/politics Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Final votes tallied: Sadlowski Garza wins 10th ward race, Pope considering legal challenge http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/final-votes-tallied-sadlowski-garza-wins-10th-ward-race-pope-considering-legal <p><p>It&rsquo;s been two weeks since Chicago&rsquo;s runoff election; and as of Tuesday afternoon, every last vote has been counted.</p><p>One big story from the final tallies comes out of the 10th Ward on the far southeast side of the city, where Chicago Public Schools counselor and community activist Susan Sadlowski Garza beat longtime incumbent, Ald. John Pope. At the final unofficial count, Sadlowski Garza beat Pope by 20 votes. The Chicago Board of Elections doesn&rsquo;t issue their official proclamation of the results until Thursday, but elections officials said they don&rsquo;t anticipate any of these numbers to change before then.</p><p>Both Pope and Sadlowski Garza&rsquo;s campaigns filed complaints with the board, so Pope&rsquo;s team could still file a legal challenge over the results. His campaign manager Jake Breymaier said they haven&rsquo;t yet made a decision, one way or the other.</p><p>&ldquo;The fact that both campaigns filed briefs with Board of Elections--we believe that both campaigns want to see a fair outcome with all the votes counted,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Breymaier added that the Pope team hopes to have a decision by the end of this week.</p><p>Meanwhile, some of the other aldermanic runoffs that were close--just not 10th-Ward close--have also been unofficially called. In the 31st Ward, on the Northwest Side, former reporter Milagros &ldquo;Milly&rdquo; Santiago ousted long-time incumbent Ray Suarez by 79 votes. Suarez chaired the Committee on Housing and Real Estate.</p><p>All of the unofficial results, for every runoff election, can be found at the <a href="http://www.chicagoelections.com/dm/general/SummaryReport.pdf">Chicago Board of Elections website</a>.</p><p>Inauguration of the newly-elected council is set to take place on May 18th.<br /><br />Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></p></p> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 18:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/final-votes-tallied-sadlowski-garza-wins-10th-ward-race-pope-considering-legal Election results mean new power at beleaguered College of DuPage http://www.wbez.org/news/election-results-mean-new-power-beleaguered-college-dupage-111849 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cod.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>College of DuPage Board Vice Chair Katharine Hamilton wants school President Robert Breuder to step down before his planned 2016 departure date.</p><p>And after Tuesday&rsquo;s election, she should have the votes to make that happen.</p><p>Breuder has been at the center of several recent controversies at the school, which is the largest community college in Illinois. In January, the Board of Trustees voted 6-1 to give him a $763,000 buyout, with Hamilton casting the lone no vote.</p><p>And the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> has reported that the DuPage County State&rsquo;s Attorney is <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-college-of-dupage-investigation-subpoenas-20150331-story.html">investigating lavish spending by Breuder and his staff</a>.</p><p>Hamilton said DuPage County voters were responding to those issues when they elected three new trustees.</p><p>Deanne Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein secured the three available seats on the board in the consolidated election on April 7 out of a field of 12. All three of them ran together under the &ldquo;Clean Slate&rdquo; ticket supported by Hamilton. They beat two incumbent board members and a former state representative.</p><p>Together with Hamilton, the three will make up a new majority on the seven member board. The board will elect a new chair in May and Hamilton expects to replace current Chair Erin Birt.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re gonna look at perhaps clawing back the excessive golden handshake that was provided to Dr. Brueder, and in addition to that, some reform policies that will restructure the college in a way that the board will have more power to lead the college,&rdquo; Hamilton said.</p><p>She called the recent controversies &ldquo;a symptom of the crisis in governance&rdquo; at the College of DuPage.</p><p>&ldquo;The failure of the current board to provide oversight is startling. So hopefully this new majority- and I&rsquo;m not just saying hopefully - I know that this new majority will be able to clamp down on those problems,&rdquo; Hamilton added.</p><p>Their plans include putting all of the college&rsquo;s transactions online for scrutiny by the public and creating a new audit committee.</p><p>In a statement, a college spokesman said the school looks &ldquo;forward to beginning a new chapter at the College of DuPage as we welcome the elected trustees to the Board.&rdquo;</p><p>Board Chair Erin Birt declined to be interviewed.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him on twitter @pksmid.</em></p></p> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 13:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/election-results-mean-new-power-beleaguered-college-dupage-111849 Emanuel wins re-election over Garcia in race for Chicago mayor http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-wins-re-election-over-garcia-race-chicago-mayor-111840 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahm for hp.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Rahm Emanuel won re-election Tuesday as voters in Chicago&#39;s first mayoral runoff decided that, despite his brusque management style, the former White House chief of staff was best equipped to deal with the many dire challenges facing the nation&#39;s third-largest city.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Map: <a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/elections/2015/runoff-map/" target="_blank">2015 Runoff Election Results</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Emanuel was forced to campaign furiously across the city to beat Cook County Commissioner Jesus &quot;Chuy&quot; Garcia after failing to capture a majority against four other candidates in a February election. The mayoral runoff was the first since the city changed the way it conducts elections about 20 years ago.</p><p>&quot;To all the voters I want to thank you for putting me through my paces,&quot; Emanuel told supporters Tuesday night. &quot;I will be a better mayor because of that. I will carry your voices, your concerns into ... the mayor&#39;s office.&quot;</p><p>With nearly all voting precincts reporting results, Emanuel had about 56 percent of the vote compared to around 44 percent for Garcia.</p><p>&quot;We didn&#39;t lose today, we tried,&quot; Garcia told supporters gathered at the University of Illinois at Chicago. &quot;We fought hard for what we believed in. You don&#39;t succeed at this or anything else unless you try.&quot;</p><p>The incumbent highlighted tough decisions he&#39;s made since succeeding former Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2011, but admitted that his management approach too often rubbed city residents the wrong way. He portrayed Garcia as too inexperienced to handle the city&#39;s financial crunch.</p><p>Many of those heading to the polls Tuesday said the election should be a signal.</p><p>&quot;Hopefully he (Emanuel) takes heed of the runoff when he should have been a shoo-in,&quot; said Richard Rowe, a 50-year-old, who planned to vote for the incumbent.</p><p>Jesus Fernandez, a 44-year-old window washer who voted for Garcia, had the same view.</p><p>&quot;If he (Garcia) gets close, we might push Rahm to do something,&quot; Fernandez said. &quot;At least we push him a little bit.&quot;</p><p>Emanuel raised far more money than Garcia, plastered the airwaves with ads and had support from his former boss, President Barack Obama, who cast an early ballot for him from Washington.</p><p>The mayor faces huge obstacles in his second term, from fixing the worst-funded pension systems of any big U.S. city to stemming stubborn violence and confronting labor unions that just spent millions trying to defeat him.</p><p>Chicago&#39;s four pension systems are about $20 billion in debt, and the fund for Chicago Public Schools teachers is short about $7 billion of what&#39;s needed to pay benefits as promised.</p><p>If Emanuel can&#39;t work a deal with labor unions or get the Illinois Legislature to approve relief, the city is on the hook for an additional $550 million payment to the retirement accounts, bringing the total payment to about $1 billion. He&#39;s said that would be roughly equal to the annual cost of having 4,300 police officers on the street or raising property taxes by 150 percent.</p><p>Emanuel also must deal with ongoing concerns about crime, one of the areas Garcia hit him on repeatedly during the election. After a spike in homicides early in his first term, the number fell to the lowest level in a half-century though the number of shootings has climbed 12 percent.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m proud of what we&#39;ve accomplished in these past four years, but I understand the challenges we face will require me to approach them differently and to work in a different fashion,&quot; Emanuel said. &quot;The only way to meet these challenges is to bridge the gaps between the things that divide us and start focusing on the things that unite us and bring us together.&quot;</p><p>Garcia, a former community organizer, alderman and state lawmaker, ran a campaign focused on the city&#39;s neighborhoods, with support from teachers and unions upset with Emanuel. He accused the mayor of being out of touch with voters and blamed him for the fiscal problems, while playing up the mayor&#39;s push to close about 50 schools and a gang violence problem that spiked during Emanuel&#39;s first term.</p><p>He also vowed to end Chicago&#39;s troubled red-light camera system, which some residents believe is discriminatory and focuses more on revenue than safety.</p><p>Election officials said more than 142,300 Chicago voters cast early ballots for the runoff, far outpacing early voting turnout in February and four years ago.</p></p> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 19:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-wins-re-election-over-garcia-race-chicago-mayor-111840 The Road to Election Day http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/road-election-day-111832 <p><p>This is it: The conclusion of the historic mayoral runoff election in Chicago has arrived. WBEZ&rsquo;s political duo Lauren Chooljian and Tony Arnold have been following incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Cook County Commissioner Jesus &ldquo;Chuy&rdquo; Garcia all around the city leading up to the April 7th election.<br /><br />On the last full day of campaigning, the candidates spent their time in the parts of the city where they&rsquo;re expected to do best. Emanuel ate breakfast in Lakeview and Garcia riled up supporters in Pilsen.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/199572170&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%">&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/iframe&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Listen to other snapshots of Emanuel and Garcia&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;rsquo;s days on the campaign path below.&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;</iframe></p><p>Listen to other snapshots of Emanuel and Garcia&rsquo;s days on the campaign path below.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/96308850&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian and Tony Arnold are WBEZ political reporters. Follow them <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 09:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/road-election-day-111832 Garcia, Emanuel battle in heated first debate of runoff http://www.wbez.org/news/garcia-emanuel-battle-heated-first-debate-runoff-111708 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahmchuydebate.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>UPDATED: 1:32 PM 3/17/2015</em></p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s two mayoral hopefuls turned up the heat for their first one-on-one debate Monday night.</p><p>In the first of three live, televised events before the April 7 runoff election, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Commissioner Jesus &ldquo;Chuy&rdquo; Garcia hit each other in the same spots as usual during the NBC and Telemundo debate: Emanuel criticized Garcia for not giving specifics, and Garcia called out Emanuel for paying too much attention to downtown, rather than the neighborhoods.</p><p>The two went back and forth on a number of topics that are familiar to the campaign trail, like public safety, schools, city finances and red light cameras. On finances, Emanuel said a property tax hike was not on the table, despite comments to the contrary from a top ally last week, as well as a warning from Emanuel himself last Friday that property tax bills would &ldquo;explode&rdquo; if Springfield didn&rsquo;t help reform pensions. Campaign staff later said that property taxes are the &ldquo;very last resort&rdquo; and any increase would &ldquo;protect middle-class homeowners and seniors.&rdquo; The city of Chicago faces a looming $550 million dollar state-mandated payment toward police and fire retirement funds.</p><p>&ldquo;Every effort going forward on police and fire is to avoid a property tax. I&rsquo;ve laid out a specific plan before the election. You&rsquo;ve laid out a commission,&rdquo; Emanuel said to Garcia.</p><p>The mayor says he&rsquo;d ask employees &ldquo;to help us a little&rdquo; to stabilize pensions, and that he&rsquo;d lobby Springfield for reforms to the sales tax and a Chicago-run casino that would be &ldquo;fully dedicated&rdquo; to pensions.</p><p>Meanwhile, Garcia sought to further define himself as the &ldquo;neighborhood guy,&rdquo; taking many opportunities to try and convince viewers not only that his experience in the community will drive his decisions, but that Emanuel focuses too much on the &ldquo;rich and wealthy&rdquo; or on downtown interests.</p><p>&ldquo;The mayor doesn&rsquo;t mind taxing low-income people and working people,&rdquo; Garcia said, referring to the city&rsquo;s red light camera program. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why on day one I will get rid of all those cameras.&rdquo;</p><p>The two candidates also sought to blame the other for the city&rsquo;s financial crisis. Emanuel took a new swipe at his opponent where he maintained that Garcia, as a state senator, voted in 1997 to create a holiday for Chicago Public Schools teacher pension payments. Garcia continued to accuse Emanuel of not following through on his campaign promise to put the city&rsquo;s financial house in order.</p><p>On public safety, Emanuel contended the city was &ldquo;safer than it was before, but not safe enough where people from all parts of the city can enjoy it.&rdquo; Garcia repeated his push for more police officers, and said he&rsquo;d start hiring them with half of what the city spends now on police overtime.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ political reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 08:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/garcia-emanuel-battle-heated-first-debate-runoff-111708 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