The Friday Political Roundup: December 13-17th
Rahm’s residency, Meeks on minorities, and a Ryan request
Missed anything this week in Chicago politics? Here’s your weekly digest of the best game in town:
Rahm’s residency rules
On this week’s Best Game in Town broadcast, NPR’s David Schaper said the battle over Rahm Emanuel’s residency “sucks the air out of the room for all of the other candidates.” Even the most assiduous media consumer might have the impression that it was all that was happening this week—we got so far as showing photos of the crawlspace in Emanuel’s rented-out home. The hearing wrapped up Thursday after three days of testimony.
But while he and his lawyers were giving this virtual tour, other candidates were talking up some issues. There were three forums (more on those soon), but perhaps the biggest issue to surface this week was on race. James Meeks appeared on WVON radio with an assertion that “the word minority… should mean African-American” not “women, Asians, and Hispanics.” That was in the context of programs that set aside a certain number of city contracts for those groups. Meeks later clarified his remarks, saying he meant only that white women shouldn’t be included in those affirmative action programs.
Education on the line
The same day, Meeks was out with an education plan, the most distinctive point of which includes offering low-income students vouchers to attend the school of their choice. The Sun-Times has more details. Carol Moseley Braun also came out with an education plan. She’d like to focus on improving neighborhood schools.
Education was a particularly stand-out topic of the week in the mayoral race, with two forums dedicated to schools. On Wednesday, a trio of organizations sponsored a forum at Walter Payton College Prep. Meeks attended, along with Gery Chico, Miguel Del Valle and Carol Moseley Braun. Emanuel and Danny Davis declined their invitations, citing prior engagements.
When we went, we also ran into Frederick K. White, who said he wasn’t allowed to join. I spoke with one of the organizers, who said “we limited our invitations to those candidates that had a minimum of 35,000 petition signatures and about a 5% polling number.” She also told me that within a few days, the Raise Your Hand coalition will have a video of the whole thing up here. In the meantime, NBC Chicago’s Ward Room has more. And the Sun-Times and Progress Illinois have details from the Chicago Teachers Union forum on Thursday, where Tax Increment Financing was apparently a hot topic. Progress Illinois also has a series of video clips from Tuesday’s activist-organized forum, where much was made of Emanuel’s absence—there was an empty chair for him.
A poll and some endorsements
Tuesday also brought us some poll results from the Tribune, showing Emanuel with a hefty lead at 32 percent while the closest challengers were in the single digits. Still, 30 percent say they’re undecided. Meanwhile, declining at this point to select a candidate in the mayor’s race is the Chicago Federation of Labor, which this week revealed their endorsements for aldermen in several wards.
Cook County and beyond
In Cook County political news, a federal hiring monitor charged the Forest Preserve District over half a million dollars for patronage hiring. And the Sun-Times reported that some health system administrators got big pay raises despite a massive county budget hole.
On the state front, former Governor George Ryan is asking for an early release, citing his wife’s dire health. And the Illinois Republican Party appointed co-chair Gabriella Wyatt, a Latina who says she’s looking forward to helping the GOP reach out to fellow Hispanics.
Making Illinoise in national politics
In national news (never minding the national interest in following Rahm Emanuel), Republican Congresswoman Judy Biggert (IL-13) was one of only 15 Republicans to vote for a new bill to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The Senate hasn’t taken up the measure yet, but it has passed the Obama tax cut deal, with both Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk voting “yes,” though Durbin says tax cuts for the wealthy are “just plain wrong.” Finally, the House also passed the bill Thursday (here's the Illinois roll call), and President Obama signed it on Friday.
That’s the Friday political roundup—let me know if you think I missed anything, and have a great weekend.