WBEZ | Valerie Jarrett http://www.wbez.org/tags/valerie-jarrett Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: A day of remembrance and a story of survival http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-28/morning-shift-day-remembrance-and-story-survival <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Holocaust remembrance Flickr Templar1307.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We mark Holocaust Remembrance Day with a story of two Catholics who helped rescue Jews in the Netherlands. We also look at how Chicago Catholics are celebrating the canonization of two popes. Plus, country music from Suzy Bogguss.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-a-day-of-remembrance-and-a-story-of/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-a-day-of-remembrance-and-a-story-of.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-a-day-of-remembrance-and-a-story-of" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: A day of remembrance and a story of survival" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 28 Apr 2014 08:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-28/morning-shift-day-remembrance-and-story-survival Pritzker would join growing list of Chicagoans in White House http://www.wbez.org/news/pritzker-would-join-growing-list-chicagoans-white-house-106970 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP766081941098.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Even before Penny Pritzker was nominated to be Commerce Secretary, her detractors had been accusing President Obama of cronyism for even considering her for the job.</p><p>Pritzker, a billionaire Chicago businesswoman, has long been a political ally and big fundraiser for Obama. And if her nomination is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Pritzker would be far from the first Chicagoan to leave the Windy City for the Obama White House.</p><p>The city&rsquo;s reputation for political nepotism has made Obama&rsquo;s hometown appointments an easy target for his critics. But one expert on Obama presidential patronage suggested presidents are wise to promote from within their inner circle.</p><p>After all, Obama helped win election in 2008 with the help of two top advisors, Chicagoans David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett. Once in office, he tapped former Chicago Public Schools chief Arne Duncan to be Education Secretary, University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee to be a top economic advisor, and two successive chiefs of staff to muscle through his agenda &ndash; current Mayor Rahm Emanuel and William Daley, brother to the former mayor, and all are Chicagoans.</p><p>Then there&rsquo;s Rabbi Sam Gordon, of Congregation Sukkat Shalom, in north suburban Wilmette.</p><p>Gordon was appointed last month to the board that oversees the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, one of hundreds of presidential appointments that don&rsquo;t get much press coverage.</p><p>So how&rsquo;d he get it?</p><p>Not likely from the $1,000 he&rsquo;s donated to Obama&rsquo;s presidential campaigns.</p><p>&ldquo;Last time I checked, I&rsquo;m not a major donor, that&rsquo;s right,&rdquo; Gordon joked.</p><p>But Gordon says he did know the president at the genesis of his political career, adding that his daughter even volunteered on one of Obama&rsquo;s early State Senate campaigns.</p><p>So the president already knew Gordon was plugged into the Jewish community &ndash; and, yes, the Chicago connection helped him get the unpaid appointment, he said.</p><p>&ldquo;I wouldn&rsquo;t know the president if it weren&rsquo;t for Chicago,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I mean, that&rsquo;s one of the great things about being in Chicago, uh, and the great things about a community that is so open and where people can know each other so well.&rdquo;</p><p>Not everyone buys the power of Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think it really has too much to do with a geographic location,&rdquo; said Louis B. Susman, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Susman was a top political fundraiser for Obama before getting his ambassadorship &ndash; the kind of cushy posting that&rsquo;s often seen as a reward for top political allies.</p><p>But Susman says that&rsquo;s not the whole picture.</p><p>&ldquo;Look, obviously you appoint people that have worked hard for you, but he&rsquo;s not going to appoint people that he doesn&rsquo;t think can do the job,&rdquo; Susman said of the president.</p><p>Both Susman and Gordon represent two typical types of presidential appointees: The long-time supporter and the political loyalist, said Vanderbilt University&rsquo;s Dave Lewis, who has studied patronage in the Obama White House.</p><p>There is always the risk of bad political optics and the impression of insider dealing when presidents appoint from their own political circles, Lewis said. It&rsquo;s not uncommon: Lewis said President Clinton had his appointees from Arkansas, and President George W. Bush tapped Texans.</p><p>Lewis called Pritzker a &ldquo;triple threat,&rdquo; because she was not only an early Obama supporter and a prolific fundraiser, but her business acumen makes her a good fit as Commerce Secretary.</p><p>&ldquo;And you wanna reward people who have publicly supported you for a long time because that sends the right signal to other people who are considering whether or not to support you, and she fills all of those criteria,&rdquo; Lewis said.</p><p>And, Lewis says, the Chicago connection doesn&rsquo;t hurt, either.</p><p><em>Alex Keefe is a political reporter for WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="http://twitter.com/akeefe" target="_blank">@akeefe</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 03 May 2013 09:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/pritzker-would-join-growing-list-chicagoans-white-house-106970 Unwanted publicity: Emanuel's Blagojevich trial headache http://www.wbez.org/story/news/criminal-justice/unwanted-publicity-emanuels-blagojevich-trial-headache-85357 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-18/51183398.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's second corruption trial begins Wednesday. And it's likely to once again put a lot of attention on Rahm Emanuel, now Chicago's mayor-elect.</p><p>Emanuel was never called to testify last summer and has not been accused of wrongdoing. But his name came up repeatedly at trial, including in some secretly-recorded phone calls.</p><p>Jurors heard Emanuel's name an awful lot during the first trial. They heard about a scheme in which Blagojevich allegedly tried to shake down then-Congressman Emanuel for fundraising help.</p><p>And Emanuel popped up again in testimony about the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama. Emanuel, who was then the soon-to-be White House chief of staff, got in the debate about who Blagojevich should appoint. In a taped phone call from November 2008, Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris told the governor he got a call from lobbyist John Wyma, on behalf of Emanuel.</p><p>HARRIS: Rahm asked him to deliver the message that [the] president-elect would be very pleased if you appointed Valerie...</p><p>Valerie is Valerie Jarrett, an Obama confidante.</p><p>HARRIS: ...and he would be thankful and appreciate. Those are the operative words.<br> BLAGOJEVICH: Uh huh.<br> HARRIS: And I said, 'Okay. I will deliver the message.'</p><p>Harris and Blagojevich then chat about what the governor can redeem for that "appreciation."</p><p>BLAGOJEVICH: Okay, so we know he wants her. They're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [BLEEP] them. You know what I mean?</p><p>In a phone call one day later, Harris tells Blagojevich he got another call, from Emanuel himself this time.</p><p>HARRIS: Yeah, I just got a call from Rahm.</p><p>Things had changed. Valerie Jarrett no longer wanted to be considered for the Senate, and Emanuel was talking about new candidates.</p><p>HARRIS: He gave us four names that the president would find acceptable.<br> BLAGOJEVICH: Who are they?<br> HARRIS: Not in any rank order.<br> BLAGOJEVICH: Who are they?<br> HARRIS: Jesse Jackson, Jr.<br> BLAGOJEVICH: Go ahead.<br> HARRIS:Jan Schakowsky.<br> BLAGOJEVICH: Yeah.<br> HARRIS: Tammy Duckworth.<br> BLAGOJEVICH:Yeah.<br> HARRIS: Dan Hynes.</p><p>The discussions between Emanuel and Blagojevich and his staff were briefly outlined in <a href="http://change.gov/page/-/hem5zet3nalm2/2008%2012%2023%20PTT%20Contacts%20Memo.pdf">a report</a> prepared for the Obama transition office in December 2008. The report says Emanuel talked by phone personally to Blagojevich "one or two" times about the Senate seat, and to John Harris "about four" times.</p><p>The report says no one in the transition was aware Blagojevich was trying to get anything "personal" in exchange for the appointment. Speaking to reporters in late 2008, Greg Craig, the attorney who wrote the report, said Emanuel was not aware of Blagojevich's alleged efforts until after the ex-governor was arrested.</p><p>CRAIG: There was no reason for Rahm to suspect there was any effort going on - at least with him, and he knew of no other effort with anybody else - to negotiate some <em>quid pro quo</em> in exchange for the Senate appointment.</p><p>But Emanuel himself has said he was aware Blagojevich was looking for something in return for appointing a candidate preferred by the president-elect. At a press conference during the mayoral campaign, in February, he recounted a conversation with a Blagojevich "representative."</p><p>EMANUEL: The governor's representative said, 'What's in it for us?' And I responded that 'You'll get thanks and appreciation.' And I think you also know how the governor responded to the word 'appreciation.' That's been detailed over two years ago, in the report. (<em>audio courtesy of <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Blagojevich-Wants-Phone-Calls--115552979.html">NBC-5 Chicago</a>)</em></p><p>But that is not in the Obama transition report. There's not a word in the report about a Blagojevich representative asking "What's in it for us," and not a word about Emanuel answering "you'll get thanks and appreciation." A similar conversation, though, was described at the trial.</p><p>An Emanuel spokesperson declined to comment on the apparent misstatement.</p><p>But specifics like that may matter in court. Sheldon Sorosky is an attorney for Rod Blagojevich.</p><p>SOROSKY: Let me say this clearly: There has never been any allegation that Mayor Emanuel - or Mayor-elect Emanuel - has ever done anything wrong.</p><p>Blagojevich has said that Emanuel offered to negotiate a deal between the governor and House Speaker Mike Madigan. Madigan's daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, would get the Senate seat. And Blagojevich would get legislative concessions from the speaker.</p><p>Sorosky could call Emanuel to testify about that in the upcoming trial. And the mayoral election results, he says, will have no impact on his decision.</p><p>SOROSKY: Absolutely not. Abso...<br> REPORTER: Do you plan to?<br> SOROSKY: Oh, we don't know yet.<br> REPORTER: Well, surely...<br> SOROSKY: But I want you to know our legal team was evenly divided on voting for and against the new mayor.</p><p>Unlike during the first trial when he was working in the White House, away from the Chicago press corps, these proceedings come at a time when Emanuel will likely hold regular press conferences. So whether or not he's asked questions about Blagojevich in court, he will face them from reporters.</p></p> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/criminal-justice/unwanted-publicity-emanuels-blagojevich-trial-headache-85357 Blagojevich attorneys ask for interviews of Barack Obama http://www.wbez.org/story/news/criminal-justice/blagojevich-attorneys-ask-interviews-barack-obama-84687 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-21/Blago from floor - WBEZ Sam Hudzik.png" alt="" /><p><p>Attorneys for Rod Blagojevich are asking for access to any interviews between President Barack Obama and the FBI.</p><p>In a Monday morning filing, Blagojevich's attorneys say they want any notes or summaries of interviews with Mr. Obama related to the ex-governor's corruption case. They say they need to the interviews to properly cross-examine potential witness Tom Balanoff, a top labor official.</p><p>He testified for prosecutors in Blagojevich's first trial, saying he acted as a liason between Blagojevich and Mr. Obama's inner circle, talking about who could fill Illinois' vacant U.S. Senate seat.</p><p>Blagojevich's attorneys tried to subpoena the president before the first trial, but the judge denied that request.</p><p>Blagojevich is accused of trying to personally profit by using the governor's power to appoint a senator after Mr. Obama won the presidency. Blagojevich's re-trial is scheduled to begin April 20th.</p><p>During the first trial, prosecutors played a secretly taped phone conversation between Blagojevich and Balanoff about Senate candidates, including Mr. Obama's friend and advisor Valerie Jarrett.</p><p>Then the governor wonders aloud if Mr. Obama donors would give millions to start a health care advocacy group Blagojevich could work for.</p><p>"Yeah and then we can help our new senator, Valerie Jarrett, go out and push that," Blagojevich said.</p><p>"So let me...[let's] move this idea and...let me put that flag up and see where it goes," Balanoff responded.</p><p>Balanoff testified that he never had any intention of looking into Blagojevich's idea. On cross examination, Balanoff acknowledged Blagojevich never explicitly said he'd appoint Jarrett in exchange for personal benefits or favors.</p></p> Mon, 04 Apr 2011 12:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/criminal-justice/blagojevich-attorneys-ask-interviews-barack-obama-84687