WBEZ | News http://www.wbez.org/tags/news Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Rauner, Quinn battle for African-American votes http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-quinn-battle-african-american-votes-110940 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP911111007939.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-6f97a6f2-1582-0782-483a-897455cafe20">As the clock ticks down to election night, Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner continue to battle over what&rsquo;s best for Illinois&rsquo; future. The top candidates have now faced off in two televised debates.</p><p>The focus of Tuesday&rsquo;s debate, three weeks ahead of the election, was mostly African-American voters, and issues they&rsquo;ll be thinking about in the polling booth. The panel of journalists posing questions to the candidates focused on jobs, the economy, the minimum wage, public safety and the state&rsquo;s finances.</p><p>And it was obvious by their responses that both candidates on stage at the DuSable Museum of African American History realized the importance of getting those votes.</p><p>&ldquo;My investments and my donations to the African-American community have totaled tens of millions of dollars,&rdquo; Rauner said, when asked about his recent <a href="http://abc7chicago.com/politics/rauner-promises-$1m-to-south-side-credit-union-/231631/">million dollar donation</a> to a South Side credit union.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve opened up the doors to many more contracts&mdash;I think it&rsquo;s up to a thousand contracts&mdash;for African-American owned businesses,&rdquo; Quinn said, to a question about government hiring.</p><p>The two also wasted no time trying to cut their opponent down to size&mdash;a recurring theme in both televised debates and on the campaign trail. Quinn accused Rauner of not hiring any African Americans in his company.</p><p>&ldquo;My opponent had 51 executives in his company, no African Americans, not one,&rdquo; Quinn said.</p><p>Rauner shot back that Quinn was &ldquo;taking the African-American vote for granted. He&rsquo;s talking but not delivering results.&rdquo;</p><p>Rauner also accused Quinn of kicking Stephanie Neely, Chicago&rsquo;s city treasurer who is black, off the list of running mates. Neely was rumored to be on the short list of Quinn&rsquo;s choices for lieutenant governor. Quinn later countered that his choice of Paul Vallas was due to Vallas&rsquo; experience with schools and budgeting.</p><p>&ldquo;African-American families are suffering in Illinois: brutally high unemployment, deteriorating schools, lack of proper social services and rampant cronyism and corruption that&rsquo;s taking away job opportunities from African Americans,&rdquo; Rauner said.</p><p>The candidates spent a lot of time in this debate talking about public safety and gun control. Rauner wouldn&rsquo;t say if he supported a ban on assault weapons. He said he believed the conversation about gun control should instead be on getting guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and creating jobs. Rauner said it was the lack of opportunity that has lead to the state&rsquo;s issue with crime.</p><p>Quinn came out in support of banning assault weapons and called for a limit on high capacity ammunition magazines.</p><p>The ongoing conversation about the minimum wage also surfaced in this debate. Rauner was pressed by the panel to explain his position, as there has been much back and forth about whether he wants to <a href="http://politics.suntimes.com/article/springfield/rauner-admits-he-once-favored-eliminating-minimum-wage/thu-09042014-113am" target="_blank">ditch</a> the minimum wage all together, or raise it.</p><p>Rauner reiterated he wanted to see a national hike to the minimum wage, so Illinois could remain competitive, but he would support raising Illinois&rsquo; minimum wage (currently at $8.25) if it came with &ldquo;tort reform, tax reduction [and] workers comp reform.&rdquo;</p><p>Quinn said he&rsquo;d work to raise the minimum wage to $10 by the end of this year, though he faced questions from both Rauner and the debate panel about why he hadn&rsquo;t boosted it in his six years in office. Quinn responded that &ldquo;you have to build a majority for anything in life&rdquo; and brought up President Barack Obama&rsquo;s tactics with passing the Affordable Care Act as an example.</p><p>The end of the debate featured a special opportunity for the candidates: Rauner and Quinn were able to ask one question of their opponent. You can listen to that exchange here:</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/172278238&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_user=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The candidates are scheduled to face off in at least one more debate before the election on November 4.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian.</a></em></p></p> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-quinn-battle-african-american-votes-110940 Lucas chooses Chicago for his art, memorabilia museum http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/lucas-chooses-chicago-his-art-memorabilia-museum-110405 <p><p>Get your lightsabers ready: The George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is coming to Chicago.</p><p>George Lucas and the museum board announced Tuesday they had chosen Chicago as the home for the museum, beating out San Francisco and Los Angeles.</p><p>It all started more than four years ago, in a galaxy far, far away -- also known as George Lucas&rsquo; home of San Francisco. Lucas&rsquo; originally wanted to build his museum for art and movie memorabilia at Crissy Field, land owned by the Presidio Trust. But when his plans were rejected earlier this year, he began looking into other options.</p><p>In a statement, the Lucas Museum board says Chicago&rsquo;s proposed site by Soldier Field was &ldquo;significantly larger&rdquo; and closer to public transportation than the sites San Francisco was offering. The board also lauded Chicago&rsquo;s museum campus - the proposed site for the museum - as &ldquo;vibrant,&rdquo; and &ldquo;centrally located in a city renowned for its love of art and architecture.&rdquo;</p><p>Though he&rsquo;s from California, Lucas has his own personal connections to Chicago. Lucas&rsquo; wife, Mellody Hobson, is a prominent businesswoman from Chicago. The couple celebrated their wedding at Promontory Point along the Lake Michigan shore. The city closed down the entire park for the event.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been lobbying for major cultural institutions to move to or take root in Chicago. A mayoral-appointed task force last month recommended the Lucas museum be built along the lakefront, in the now-parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place</p><p>Emanuel called landing the Lucas Museum a &ldquo;tremendous opportunity&rdquo; for the city. He&rsquo;s said in the past taxpayers wouldn&rsquo;t be footing the bill for the billion-dollar investment.</p><p>The mayor has also attempted to assure Bears fans that the Lucas museum won&rsquo;t keep them from tailgating before home games. Last month, he told reporters at an unrelated event that &ldquo;there&rsquo;s going to be tailgating. Full stop.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t thank George and Mellody enough,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;No other major American city has these type of cultural education institutions, with a great Northerly Island creating a vibrant, green museum campus - unparalleled in the United States.&rdquo;</p><p>In a statement, George Lucas says Chicago is the right decision for the museum, but the Bay area will always be his home.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ Reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian"><em>@laurenchooljian</em></a></p></p> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 07:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/lucas-chooses-chicago-his-art-memorabilia-museum-110405 New rules of the road possible for Chicago pedicab drivers http://www.wbez.org/news/new-rules-road-possible-chicago-pedicab-drivers-110106 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 8.37.11 AM_0.png" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago pedicabs could soon have to follow new rules of the road, much to the dismay of many drivers. The City Council is set to vote Wednesday on a slew of new rules and regulations for bicycle rickshaws popular around Wrigley Field and downtown. It would be the first time the city sets any regulations on the growing industry.</p><p>Many pedicab drivers say they&rsquo;re for some regulation, but argue that the ordinance put forth by Ald. Tom Tunney (44) goes too far. Tunney&rsquo;s measure is years in the making, and requires pedicab drivers to get $250 annual licenses for their cabs, to buy insurance, post fare schedules, apply for &ldquo;chauffeur&#39;s licenses&rdquo; to drive the pedicab and other changes.</p><p>But it&rsquo;s the ban on driving on the downtown portion of Michigan Avenue and State Street, and rush hour restrictions in the Loop that has caused the most protest from drivers. At a joint City Council hearing Tuesday with the committees on License and Consumer Protection and Transportation and Public Way, many drivers testified that the bans would put a big dent in their finances, as downtown is not only where many of their patrons are, but it&rsquo;s where they want to be dropped off.</p><p>&ldquo;What health risk to pedicabs pose? What causes more traffic congestion - a double parked limousine? A 50 foot bus making a turn? Or a pedicab in a bike lane? Pedicabs should be part of the solution and not banned from downtown,&rdquo; Chicago Rickshaw owner Robert Tipton said.</p><p>Nikola Delic, owner of Nick&rsquo;s Pedicabs, is one of many drivers that argued that the ordinance discriminated against pedicab drivers.</p><p>&ldquo;If the horse carriages and cab drivers can pick up their fares in the downtown district, I don&rsquo;t see why the pedicabs wouldn&rsquo;t be able to do the same thing,&rdquo; Delic said. &ldquo;Because horse carriages are blocking the same amount of traffic as one pedicab [and] they&rsquo;re moving slower.&rdquo;</p><p>Drivers submitted a petition Tuesday with over 500 signatures. It requests that aldermen take the entire street restriction section out of the ordinance.</p><p>Tunney has said that he&rsquo;s open to changing portions of the ordinance, but the street ban is off the table.</p><p>&ldquo;The ordinance, I believe, will help legitimize the industry, increase public safety and improve the flow of traffic on our congested streets,&rdquo; Tunney said at the hearing. &ldquo;There are...many good and safe operators but we&rsquo;ve certainly had a few problems that this ordinance is designed to address.&rdquo;</p><p>Commissioner Luann Hamilton from the Chicago Department of Transportation said the department would support reducing the restrictions, and they aren&rsquo;t concerned by pedicabs riding on those streets.</p><p>Another sticking point for drivers is a rule that would cap at 200 the number of registered pedicabs allowed in the city. Drivers contest that this rule will kill off jobs, and that 200 is an arbitrary number, as there&rsquo;s no official measure for the number of pedicabs driving around the city. The ordinance would allow for the number to be changed by the licensing commissioner.</p><p>The ordinance sailed through the joint committee vote, with only two &quot;no&quot; votes from Ald. Ariel Reboyras and Ald. Brendan Reilly. Penalties for violating the act could range anywhere from $100 to $5,000, depending on the violation or number of infractions.</p><p>Other pieces of the ordinance:</p><ul><li>Drivers would have to get a doctor&#39;s note stating they&rsquo;re capable to operate a pedicab and pass a geography exam before receiving their &ldquo;pedicab chauffeur license&rdquo;</li><li>All drivers must be 18 or older</li><li>Pedicab operators must have a valid automobile driver&rsquo;s license - from Illinois or another state</li><li>Pedicabs aren&rsquo;t allowed on sidewalks</li><li>Pedicabs are only allowed to carry four passengers</li></ul><p>Tunney&rsquo;s ordinance does not set fares for pedicabs, regulate where they are able to park or designate certain places they can hang out and wait for fares.</p><p>If the ordinance passes the full City Council Wednesday, the new rules and regulations would take effect by June.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-23d1776b-b381-d33a-af9d-cc36336fa4bd"><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda"> </a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Wed, 30 Apr 2014 11:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-rules-road-possible-chicago-pedicab-drivers-110106 Chicago's e-cigarette crackdown is officially underway http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-e-cigarette-crackdown-officially-underway-110101 <p><p>The city of Chicago&rsquo;s crackdown on electronic cigarettes officially begins Tuesday.&nbsp;</p><p>E-cigarettes, or vape pens, allow users to puff on nicotine vapor rather than real tobacco smoke. The Chicago City Council passed an ordinance in January that regulates the pens just like any other tobacco product. From now on, smokers won&rsquo;t be allowed to use any of these devices in the workplace or any enclosed public places like bars, restaurants, stores or sports venues.</p><p>The city policy also bans the distribution or sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and requires that stores keep them behind the counter, rather than out on the sale floor.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed the measure, and has been pushing restrictions on all forms of cigarette smoking - including boosting the cigarette tax and putting a prohibition on selling flavored tobacco products within a 500 feet of a school.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been a long line of activities to protect our kids from both tobacco products, and more importantly, from the tobacco companies seeing [kids] as part of their bottom line. And they&rsquo;re not,&rdquo; Emanuel told WBEZ.&nbsp;</p><p>Opponents - including some aldermen - say e-cigarettes are safer than regular tobacco-burning cigarettes, and can actually help people quit.</p><p>The Food and Drug Administration issued a proposal last week that would extend the agency&rsquo;s tobacco authority to cover e-cigarette products, which would restrict companies from giving out free samples. It would also impose minimum-age and identification restrictions on e-cigarettes and keep them out of vending machines (unless they&rsquo;re in a facility that never admits kids) but it stopped short of regulating advertising.The proposed rule is now under a public comment period.</p><p>Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Public Health, said the proposal is a good first step--and a step in the right direction--but the city&rsquo;s ordinance goes even farther.</p><p>Choucair said if anyone sees people smoking e-cigarettes in Chicago where they&rsquo;re not supposed to, they can call 311 to file a complaint.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Flaurenchooljian&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHdY9Bg1Uv8cPtNPU3NCg2qmAExsQ">@laurenchooljian</a>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 17:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-e-cigarette-crackdown-officially-underway-110101 WBEZ's week in review -Monday, Sept. 30 - Saturday, Oct. 5 http://www.wbez.org/news/wbezs-week-review-monday-sept-30-saturday-oct-5-108860 <p><p>It was a busy news week with the government shutdown and the roll out of the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplaces.</p><p>WBEZ reporters and producers were busy putting together stories and conversations of national, regional and local significance, and we&#39;ve collected some of those stories all in one place for you to enjoy this weekend.</p><p>WBEZ&#39;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/llutton-0">Linda Lutton</a> looked at the current plight of Chicago&#39;s neighborhood schools in light of heavy competion from charter, magnet and selective schools, which seems to be spreading the current freshman class thin and jeopardizing everything from sports to music.</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/future-uncertain-chicagos-neighborhood-high-schools-108834">Future uncertain for Chicago&#39;s neighborhood high schools</a></strong></p><p>John Lillig, a resident of the West Ridge neighborhood on Chicago&rsquo;s far North Side, asked our Curious City crew about the history of Indian Boundary Park Zoo, which is rumored to be closing. This is what they found out:</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-long-forgotten-zoo-108844">Chicago&#39;s long-forgotten zoo</a></strong></p><p>Writer <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett">Leah Pickett</a> tackled street harrassment this week, soliciting stories from other Chicago women about how they&#39;ve been treated in public by men, groups of men and even mixed groups of men and women.</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/standing-street-harassment-108847">Standing up to street harassment</a></strong></p><p>Half the public and two-thirds of the uninsured say they don&#39;t have enough information about the Affordable Care Act to know how it will impact them. So WBEZ&#39;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/shannon-0">Shannon Heffernan</a> put together a primer on the law with 8 things everyone should understand.</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/understanding-basics-affordable-care-act-108806">Understanding the basics of the Affordable Care Act</a></strong></p><p>And writer Alison Flowers continues the Exoneree Diaries with a look into the conviction of Jacques Rivera, one of three people she is profiling in a year-long series on WBEZ that looks at the Illinois justice system.</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-jacques-riveras-conviction-108801">Exoneree Diaries: Jacques Rivera&#39;s conviction</a></strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/takimoff">Tim Akimoff</a> is the Digital Content Director at WBEZ. You can follow him on <a href="https://twitter.com/timakimoff">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/timakimoff">Facebook</a>. </em></p></p> Sat, 05 Oct 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/wbezs-week-review-monday-sept-30-saturday-oct-5-108860 Herd of goats, llamas, sheep and burros are grazing around the O’Hare grounds http://www.wbez.org/news/herd-goats-llamas-sheep-and-burros-are-grazing-around-o%E2%80%99hare-grounds-108408 <p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-07707cd9-7e20-3f9e-2c35-610b395b0a92">A herd of goats, burros, sheep and llamas are chewing their way through the grounds of O&rsquo;Hare International Airport in Chicago. The Chicago Department of Aviation showed off their latest &ldquo;employees&rdquo; this week, though the animals have been at work, clearing the vegetation around the airport for almost a month.</p><p dir="ltr">The group of 14 goats, five sheep, three burros and two llamas will graze inside fenced areas around the airport at least until the end of 2014. Officials say the animals were brought to the airport as a sustainable way to clean up the dense scrub vegetation that covers much of the grounds.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It gets pretty rocky under here,&rdquo; said Rosemarie Andolino, CDA commissioner. pointing to a five-acre field of grass and brush behind her. &ldquo;And there (are) areas where it kinda goes up and down and lawnmowers in many cases don&rsquo;t provide or aren&rsquo;t adequate to get to some of these areas.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/goats13.JPG" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Three of O’Hare airport’s latest hires explore their new workspace. The burros are part of a herd of 25 animals that will eat vegetation around the airport to help maintain the grounds. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Andolino said the contract for the goats won&rsquo;t exceed $19,500, and it expires by the end of 2014. The commissioner didn&rsquo;t have estimates as to how much it cost to maintain the grounds before the animals, yet a spokeswoman maintained there may be some cost savings down the road.</p><p dir="ltr">The herd won&rsquo;t be eating at the same spot everyday &mdash; Andolino says they&rsquo;ll move around to different places on the airport&rsquo;s grounds, depending on need. As for concerns about the animals during brutal Chicago winters, officials say the herd will only be out as long as weather permits.</p><p dir="ltr">Most of the animals in the O&rsquo;Hare herd come from Settler&rsquo;s Pond &mdash; a shelter for abandoned animals in Beecher, Ill. &mdash; but four of them were originally owned by Joseph Arnold, head of Central Commissary Holdings, LLC. The airport contract isn&rsquo;t technically their first job: Arnold&rsquo;s four goats used to provide milk for the goat cheese served at Chicago restaurant <a href="http://butcherandtheburger.com/">Butcher and the Burger</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/goats17.JPG" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="A day-old lamb stays close by her mother at their new home, the O’Hare International Airport. They’re part of a herd of animals eating its way around the fields at O’Hare. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" />Though they might seem an unlikely sight among the security fences and planes flying overhead, the burros, goats, sheep and llamas Tuesday seemed to make themselves quite at home. One of the sheep even gave birth to a lamb Tuesday, and all the animals gathered around to greet him.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a little boy and his name is O&rsquo;Hare,&rdquo; said Pinky Jenota, one of the caretakers from <a href="http://www.settlerspondshelter.net/about.html">Settler&rsquo;s Pond</a>. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s doing great, he was up suckling on mom, planes flying overhead. He didn&rsquo;t flinch, Mom didn&rsquo;t move - everybody&rsquo;s content.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">For now, the herd will continue munching around a five acre space on the airport grounds. Officials say they should finish that section in the next few weeks, and then it&rsquo;s on to the next spot.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer/Reporter Follow her&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a> .</em></p></p> Wed, 14 Aug 2013 13:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/herd-goats-llamas-sheep-and-burros-are-grazing-around-o%E2%80%99hare-grounds-108408 Rep. Mell appointed to father's city council seat http://www.wbez.org/news/rep-mell-appointed-fathers-city-council-seat-108162 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/debmell.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has chosen State Representative Deb Mell to succeed the 33rd ward seat held for decades by her father, Dick Mell. Mell resigned her state post early Wednesday morning, and was later confirmed by the City Council.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m just trying to take it in,&rdquo; Mell told the council. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t get much sleep last night, and I love my area. I don&rsquo;t think anyone who knows me [questions] that, and how much passion I have for the people of the 33rd ward and how hard I&rsquo;m gonna work on their behalf.&rdquo;</p><p>The announcement was not a surprise - Mell&rsquo;s name had been rumored to be the choice out of the 12 people vying for the spot. Mayor Emanuel had said Mell&rsquo;s last name and familial ties would neither work for her or against her in the selection process. The mayor lauded Mell Wednesday for &ldquo;breaking glass ceilings&rdquo; for being the first openly lesbian member of the City Council.</p><p>Most of the City Council joined the mayor in his praise, some of them even highlighting family ties as a blessing, instead of criticizing the choice as nepotism.</p><p>As Ald. Michael Zalewski (23rd) put it: &ldquo;it&rsquo;s just the way life is.&rdquo; Zalewski&rsquo;s son serves as a state representative in Illinois.&nbsp;</p><p>Ever the historian, Ald. Ed Burke even spouted off all the family connections in the City Council&rsquo;s history, including his own, adding that he couldn&rsquo;t think of anything that would &ldquo;make someone more proud than to succeed their parent in an office that that parent had held.&rdquo;</p><p>The lone &ldquo;no&rdquo; vote in the council came from Ald. Bob Fioretti (2).</p><p>&ldquo;I do know Deb Mell, and I like Deb Mell. And I like what she stands for. But we are not a monarchy, we are a democracy, so let&rsquo;s start acting like it,&rdquo; Fioretti said.</p><p>Fioretti later added that his vote wasn&rsquo;t cast against Deb Mell as an individual, but rather was a vote against the process.</p><p>Mell responded to the criticism as soon as she took the floor.</p><p>&ldquo;That just makes me work even harder, and I have something to prove,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And you will not question my passion and hard work on behalf of the 33rd ward.&rdquo;</p><p>Deb Mell&rsquo;s father and sister, Patti Blagojevich, were both in attendance for the swearing-in. Dick Mell told reporters he didn&rsquo;t give his daughter any advice on her new position, and it was &ldquo;her ballgame now.&rdquo;</p><p>Mell added there were some things he would miss about being an alderman, saying there was no other position like it out there, but said time had passed him by.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t tweet, I don&rsquo;t have Facebook, I don&rsquo;t email very well, I do text a little bit,&ldquo; he said. &nbsp;&ldquo;And when I get stacks of emails from constituents and I try to call them back and I get their voicemails, that&rsquo;s what I miss. I miss that one on one conversation with the person who&rsquo;s got the problem.&rdquo;</p><p>As if a sign of the changing tide, shortly after Deb Mell had been sworn in by the City Council, the <a href="http://33rdward.org/">33rd ward website</a> was swiftly changed to showcase a picture of her face.</p><p>Dick Mell won&rsquo;t be drifting too far away from the political spectrum. He still holds the powerful Democratic Committeeman seat, a position that gives him a weighted vote for his daughter&rsquo;s successor in Springfield. Mell wouldn&rsquo;t say if he had any favorites, telling reporters only that there were &ldquo;many candidates.&rdquo;</p><p>Deb Mell said she officially resigned from her state post Wednesday morning, and would be out in the 33rd ward as soon as Wednesday evening, meeting her new constituents.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ web producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian&nbsp;</a></em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F102454479" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 24 Jul 2013 08:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rep-mell-appointed-fathers-city-council-seat-108162 Blagojevich appeals convictions, stiff sentence http://www.wbez.org/news/blagojevich-appeals-convictions-stiff-sentence-108062 <p><p>Lawyers for Rod&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;filed an appeal just before a midnight deadline Monday that challenges the imprisoned former Illinois governor&#39;s corruption conviction and 14-year prison term, including on grounds the trial judge allegedly committed a litany of errors.</p><div><p>The 100-plus page filing with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago comes more than two years after the Chicago Democrat&#39;s retrial and 16 months after he entered a federal prison in Colorado.</p><p>Jurors convicted&nbsp;Blagojevich, 56, of engaging in wide-ranging corruption, including that the two-term governor sought to profit from his power to appoint someone to the U.S. Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated to become president.</p><p>Blagojevich&#39;s&nbsp;most shocking crime in the eyes of most observers was no crime at all, the appeal contends.&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;was merely engaging in standard politics when he floated the idea of securing a U.S. Cabinet seat or ambassadorship for himself if he appointed Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett to the Senate seat, it says. Neither Obama nor Jarrett have ever been accused of any wrongdoing in the case.</p><p>&quot;The record shows that&nbsp;Blagojevich&#39;s&nbsp;proposed exchange was an arm&#39;s length political deal, described by&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;as a political &#39;horse trade,&#39;&quot; the appeal says. It wasn&#39;t criminal &quot;because the political deal proposed by&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;was a proper and common exchange under our democratic system of government.&quot;</p><p>The appeal also points to what it says was a lack of evenhandedness by U.S. District Judge James Zagel throughout Blagojeivch&#39;s two trials.</p><p>It alleges Zagel gave&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;little choice but to testify at his retrial after repeatedly ruling arguments the defense viewed as crucial could only be broached byBlagojevich&nbsp;himself from the witness stand. Once on the stand, Zagel prohibited many of those statements, including&nbsp;Blagojevich&#39;s&nbsp;attempt to tell jurors he believed at the time that his actions were legal, it contends.</p><p>&quot;Had&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;been permitted to present his good-faith defense, it would have been a powerful defense, likely to produce an acquittal,&quot; his lawyers argue.</p><p>The appeal also blames Zagel for allowing a juror who allegedly expressed bias against&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;to remain on the jury despite defense attorneys&#39; objections. The appeal only referred to the panelist as Juror No. 174, saying he said aboutBlagojevich&nbsp;during jury selection, &quot;I just figured him, possibly, to be guilty.&quot;</p><p>The appeal also raises longstanding claims that Zagel barred FBI wiretap evidence that might have aided the defense, that he sided overwhelming with prosecutors and that he miscalculated the appropriate prison term for&nbsp;Blagojevich.</p><p>The appeal was filed about 30 minutes before midnight.</p><p>Blagojevich&nbsp;was convicted on 18 counts over two trials, jurors in the first deadlocking on all but one count. Taking the stand in the second, decisive trial in 2011,&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;insisted his talking about wanting to sell Obama&#39;s seat was just that &mdash; talk.</p><p>Zagel imposed a lengthy prison term at a sentencing hearing later in 2011, tellingBlagojevich&nbsp;he had abused voters&#39; trust and undermined the democratic process &quot;to do things that were only good for yourself.&quot;</p><p>Many observers at the time said&nbsp;Blagojevich&#39;s&nbsp;best hope on appeal wasn&#39;t that a higher court would overturn his convictions but that appellate judges would agree his sentence was too harsh.</p><p>Appeals can take years to play out, and defendants rarely prevail.</p><p>Another Illinois governor convicted for corruption, George Ryan, filed multiple appeals over years and lost every key ruling. The former Republican leader was recently released after more than five years in prison and seven months of home confinement.</p><p>Secret wiretaps of an often foul-mouthed&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;eager to earn big money were at the core of prosecutors&#39; case.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve got this thing and it&#39;s f------ golden,&quot; jurors heard&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;saying in one wiretapped conversation about Obama&#39;s vacated seat. &quot;And I&#39;m just not giving it up for f------ nothing.&quot;</p><p>As Inmate No. 40892-424 in the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in suburban Denver,&nbsp;Blagojevich&#39;s&nbsp;life is highly regimented, including frequent head counts and having to wake at dawn.</p><p>In a Facebook posting this year,&nbsp;Blagojevich&#39;s&nbsp;wife, Patti, said her husband is spending time in prison teaching Civil War history and learning to play the guitar. She added that he frequently jogs around a quarter-mile prison track.</p><p>&quot;All that we have been left with is a aching hole in our lives,&quot; she added about herself and the couple&#39;s two daughters.</p><p>After the then-governor&#39;s Dec. 9, 2008 arrest,&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;hit the talk show circuit to declare his innocence and to rail against prosecutors. He even appeared on Donald Trump&#39;s reality show, &quot;The Apprentice.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 16 Jul 2013 07:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/blagojevich-appeals-convictions-stiff-sentence-108062 Morning Shift: New book offers lessons on surviving infidelity http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-02/morning-shift-new-book-offers-lessons-surviving <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Noel_Shush -courtesy of ashleymadison.com_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cheating can be a devastating blow to not just your relationship, but your ego as well. How do you pick up the pieces and move on? Also, with the digital age upon us, how do news organizations keep up with the times?&nbsp;</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-surviving-infidelity.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-surviving-infidelity" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: New book offers lessons on surviving infidelity" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 02 Jul 2013 10:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-02/morning-shift-new-book-offers-lessons-surviving Protesters rally against Chicago Sun-Times photo layoffs http://www.wbez.org/sections/media/protesters-rally-against-chicago-sun-times-photo-layoffs-107573 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/c19862c4ceb711e28faf22000a1f99f9_7.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Local reporters, photographers and labor leaders gathered with picket signs outside the Chicago Sun-Times building Thursday, a week after the entire photography department at the newspaper was let go.</p><p>Cars driving by the rally beeped their horns as around 150 supporters chanted &ldquo;quality, not cuts&rdquo; and &ldquo;no more layoffs.&rdquo;&nbsp; Many of the faces in the crowd matched the bylines and names from the newspaper: Longtime Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown carried a sign that said, &ldquo;John H. White - &lsquo;nuf said.&rdquo; White, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, marched just a few steps behind him, along with other former Sun-Times photogs.</p><p>Craig Rosenbaum, executive director of the Chicago Newspaper Guild, says they&rsquo;ve filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board that says the layoffs violate federal law. The Guild represents 20 of the photographers who were laid off.</p><p>&ldquo;This is one of the few cities that has two papers, the Tribune and the Sun-Times,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And how are you going to be able to compete with the competition when you don&rsquo;t have two professional photojournalists?&rdquo;</p><p>Rosenbaum says the Guild is planning another rally for next week.</p><p>A statement from the Sun-Times Media group after the layoffs said the decision was &ldquo;difficult,&rdquo; but noted the media business is changing rapidly, and audiences want more video content with their news.</p><p>Meanwhile, many of the former Sun-Times photographers say they&rsquo;re trying to move on to freelancing and other projects.&nbsp; Rob Hart, who started at the Sun-Times over a decade ago, says he was serving dual roles at the protest Thursday morning: marching alongside his former colleagues, and photographing the protest for a freelance assignment.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/protesters-rally-against-chicago-sun-times-photogr.js" type="text/javascript" language="javascript"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/protesters-rally-against-chicago-sun-times-photogr" target="_blank">View the story "Protesters rally against Chicago Sun-Times photography layoffs" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 06 Jun 2013 14:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/media/protesters-rally-against-chicago-sun-times-photo-layoffs-107573