<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Political News and Chicago Politics]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Mon, 20 Oct 2014 08:48:12 -0500 Mon, 20 Oct 2014 08:48:12 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Rival Gets Hands on Campaign Book]]> Sat, 18 Oct 2014 00:14:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/carl+demaio+scott+peters.JPG

A new bombshell dropped Friday in the race for California’s 52nd Congressional District when both candidates confirmed a Carl DeMaio campaign strategy book, allegedly stolen during an office break-in, found its way into the hands of incumbent Scott Peters’ staff.

It is the latest revelation in an already ugly race peppered with attack ads and sexual harassment allegations.

The two had a chilly meeting Friday morning at a taping of NBC 7’s Politically Speaking, as DeMaio walked right by Peters’ hand outstretched for a handshake.

During the session, DeMaio discussed the burglary and vandalism at his campaign headquarters on May 28. Cords and cables were cut, water was poured over laptops and printers, computer screens were smashed in and one important item was taken: DeMaio’s campaign playbook.

The candidate confronted Peters about the book on “Politically Speaking.”

“And Mr. Peters, I just want to ask a very simple question. Did your campaign come into possession of our strategy book, all of our direct mail pieces in the last five months?” asked DeMaio.

Peters responded with: “In early June, information was forwarded to our campaign which we immediately turned over to the police.”

DeMaio pressed the issue, asking Peters why he did not let his opponent’s campaign know that he had seen DeMaio’s playbook all along.

“I’ve obviously never seen it,” said Peters. “We turned it directly over to the police within 24 hours of getting it because what was contained in it was potentially part of a criminal investigation.”

He added his campaign manager “looked at it enough to know what it was.”

On Friday evening, Peters' Communciation Director Alex Roth sent out the following statement about the revelation:

"To clarify, we do not know what a campaign playbook is; nor has our campaign ever received anything that could be characterized as 'a campaign playbook' as Mr. DeMaio called it. To reiterate, our campaign staff received information in early June that we immediately transmitted in its entirety to the police.This is nothing more than an attempt by Mr. DeMaio to divert attention away from the Filner-esque sexual harassment allegations that have been made against him.”

During the show's taping, Peters said he felt as if he had been cast as the perpetrator of the break-in, which was portrayed with Watergate-like overtones when it first happened.

DeMaio told his opponent he does not believe Peters had anything to do with the burglary.

Instead, he blames former aide Todd Bosnich.

Bosnich has publicly accused DeMaio of sexually harassing him while he worked for the former San Diego City Councilman, releasing the results of a polygraph test that he says support his claims.

Called the allegations “outrageous lies,” DeMaio said Bosnich is trying to get revenge for being fired as a suspect in the break-in.

However, the candidate said he will not take a polygraph exam to rebut Bosnich’s allegations.

CNN reports Bosnich's lawyers sent the news outlet the results to a second polygraph test Friday in which Bosnich was asked if he broke into the campaign headquarters last May. The test shows Bosnich's "no" answers were "truthful and found "no deception."

Bosnich confirmed the story to NBC 7 via text message.

DeMaio's spokesman David McCulloch defended the candidate, saying in a statement, "Both Carl DeMaio and Tommy Knepper — named in a series of vile smear attacks — have taken lie detector tests that have shown these smears are baseless. Meanwhile, Mr. Peters admitted on NBC7/39 this morning that his campaign received stolen property from our campaign — begging the question: who provided this sensitive campaign material?"  

You can watch the full DeMaio-Peters debate during the full half-hour edition of “Politically Speaking” on NBC 7 Sunday morning at 9 a.m., following “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd.

<![CDATA[Governor's Race Too Close to Call, New Poll Shows]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 17:52:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Quinn-rauner-p1.jpg

A new poll by the Paul Simon Institute at Southern Illinois University showed the race for Illnois governor is too close to call. Republicans have more enthusiasm while Democrats have more voters the poll showed.

“I suspect it will be a close race but I am very confident Bruce will win,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said Friday outside a GOP fundraiser.

Christie was in town for yet another GOP fundraiser, a closed downtown affair with tickets topping at $1,000.

“He’s someone who can win in a blue state,” said Congressman Peter Roskman.

What Christie did in New Jersey is something Rauner is attempting to replicate in Illinois.

“Voters are going to have clear choice this year, really clear choice between Pat Quinn and myself. We have to get more jobs, we have to get taxes,” Rauner said.

But as Rauner---who took no questions---was talking about jobs, the final unemployment numbers prior to the election were announced. They showed a drop from 6.7 percent to 6.6 percent, the seventh month of jobless decline.

“Unemployment is down, down in Illinois, jobs are up,” Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday.

Quinn toured Spring-CM, a cloud software company that will add 500 jobs in the next five years, thanks to a state infusion of $2.25 million. Quinn also defended the use of state money.

“This is a good way to leverage faster job creation,” he said.

The parade of political stars into Illinois continues on Sunday with President Obama returning to rally for the Democrats at an event at Chicago State University.

It will be the President’s 2nd recent trip for Quinn, who just like Christie today, hopes to stir the Illinois electorate to vote.

“I think we motivate people to get out. I think we motivate people to get out, that’s what we do,” Christie noted.

The election is 18 days and counting.

“It will be a very close race. It always is in Illinois,” Christie said.

The latest poll does nothing to challenge that.

<![CDATA[Rahm Touts $23.5 Million Affordable Housing Complex for Homeless Veterans]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:57:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/tlmd_alcalde_rahm_emanuel1.JPG

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday touted the opening of a brand-new, $23.5 million affordable apartment complex for homeless veterans—and those at risk of homelessness—on the city's South Side.

Emanuel cut the red ribbon at Hope Manor II Apartments, a 73-unit "housing and supportive services complex" in the Englewood neighborhood, alongside U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (a fellow high-profile Illinois Democrat running for re-election) and 16th Ward Ald. JoAnn Thompson.

"Hope Manor II is a down payment on our promise that if you fight for the homeland of America, you will always have a home here in the city of Chicago," declared the mayor. "Whether it is housing or health care, educational opportunities or job opportunities, we are making the city of Chicago the gold standard for meeting our obligations to our veterans and their families."

Chiming in, Durbin added: "I applaud the opening of this unique facility that will not only provide assistance to Chicago area veterans in need, but their families as well. The rate of homelessness among veterans with families has been increasing by more than 5 percent every year for the past four years—a troubling trend that makes this project all the more important."

One of Emanuel's lofty goals for 2015—the year Chicagoans decide whether to elect the polarizing boss to a second term in office—is to completely wipe out homelessness among veterans, a pledge previously made by President Barack Obama. His newly minted city budget earmarks $800,000-plus toward subsidized housing for needy vets; meanwhile, the U.S. government will foot over 80 percent of the $5 million in annual costs required to pull off a project like Hope Manor.

Aforementioned "supportive services" include job training and counseling for mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder.

Photo Credit: Archivo Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Activists Refuse to Take ‘No’ on Elected School Board Vote]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:45:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chicago-city-council.jpg

If a coalition of activist groups have their way, it looks like Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his City Council allies won't have the final say over whether Chicago voters will get to weigh in on the contentious issue of an elected school board in Chicago.
As you may remember, earlier this month Council allies of Mayor Emanuel used parliamentary maneuvers to deny a non-binding resolution intended to place the question of an elected school board on the February, 2015 municipal ballot.  
The resolution asked a simple question: Shall each member of the board of School District 299, known as the Chicago Board of Education, be elected by voters of the City of Chicago, State of Illinois?
It’s an issue that’s been important to many education activists, community groups, Chicago Public School parents and opponents of Mayor Emanuel. Chicago is the only city in Illinois without an elected school board, as the current system allows the mayor almost complete control over who is nominated and installed on the CPS board. 
Proponents of an elected board believe the move would allow for greater democracy and community input over issues such as class size, length of school day and opening and closing schools. 
Following the move to kill the question in Council, a coalition of 25 organizations is taking the issue to the streets. Led in part by Grassroots Collaborative, the coalition spans community, parent and labor groups, including the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM), Action Now, Communities Organized for Democracy in Education (CODE), Grassroots Illinois Action (GIA) and United Working Families (UFW) and more. 
Their goal? Get the question of an elected school board in front of voters across the city with a ward-by-ward strategy that places the question on the ballot in each of the city’s 50 wards. 
Illinois election law allows only three referendum questions on a ballot at a time. However, the limit exists independently for city-wide referendums, and for local, ward-based referendum. The goal of a 50-ward strategy is to break the city down into 50 separate ballots, and raise enough signatures to get the question on each one. 
"Actions have consequences, and United Working Families is committed to a fifty ward strategy to ensure voters have their say,” Kristen Crowell, executive director of United Working Families, told Ward Room. “The City Council may not want [the question of an elected representative school board] on the ballot—but we are determined to put this on the ballot so all of Chicago has a voice."
As part of the drive, the coalition is putting hundreds of workers on the streets, knocking on doors, explaining the issue and getting petition signatures. The threshold for getting a referendum question on the ballot at the ward level requires support from eight percent of a ward’s registered voters, or approximately 50,000 signatures city-wide. 
In many ways, the issue of an elected school board in Chicago acts as a kind of a litmus test for whether someone—particularly political figures and aldermanic candidates—stands with Mayor Emanuel or not, both on education issues and his wider agenda. 
That’s why, for example, aldermanic candidates who have aligned themselves with the elected school board issue are in some cases also working directly with members of the coalition to carry petitions as part of their own campaigning.
Some of the groups involved in the coalition have been working on the issue for years, and are confident the latest effort is a winning strategy for getting the question in front of voters. Particularly in light of the mayor’s and City Council’s intransigence on the issue.
“Action Now members are actively collecting petitions to ensure our voice is heard on February 24th election,” Katelyn Johnson, executive director of Action Now, tells Ward Room. “We’re one of many community organizations fighting together to ensure that Rahm Emanuel is held accountable for closing down our schools."  

<![CDATA[This Week in Mudslinging: Sugar and Spice Makes Everything Nasty]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:24:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/224*120/Lolla+mud+8-3.jpg

With less than three weeks 'til Election Day, the mud pies are flying fast and furious. (It's messy out there.) The week's most notable moments in the endlessly entertaining circus sideshow that is Illinois politics:

Quinn vs. Rauner. The spendy political nemeses took the stage Tuesday night for another televised debate, this one more bitter than the last. The showdown, held at the DuSable Museum of African American History, centered on who could best improve conditions for black Chicagoans—especially concerning crime and gun control. (Quinn wants to ban military-grade assault weapons; Rauner won't say whether he supports such a ban but vows to ensure "we keep guns out of the hands of criminals and mentally ill.") Claws out, the GOP nominee dug in, lecturing Quinn: "I cannot keep up with the baloney and lies that you spread. You can't run on the truth. The truth is you're the worst governor in America." BURN. "All my opponent does is grow his bank account and that hurts everyone," the incumbent Democrat shot back, making a dig at the super-rich Winnetka investor's vast fortune (some of which is stashed in the Caymans). Good thing Eileen Quinn is in his corner. Not missing an opportunity to bash Rauner, the governor's spry 97-year-old mother told NBC Chicago in an interview Wednesday, "I don't consider him very polished." The Republican challenger, meanwhile, recruited wife Diana, a self-avowed Democrat, to help woo the mom vote in a TV ad so softly lit, it could be a Barbara Walters special. "If you're ready to turn our state around, and create new opportunities for our kids, and our future, then I hope you'll vote for Bruce," cooed Mrs. Rauner, sporting a tasteful maroon sweater that's cute but not as adorable as Eileen. The best way to sling mud? With sugar. And a heaping dose of salt. See: "Nice guys do not threaten women. Ever."

Schneider vs. Dold. The battleground 10th congressional district in Chicago's northern 'burbs remains up for grabs as Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider struggles to fend off a potent challenge by GOP-er Bob Dold, who's angling to win back the seat Schneider stole from him last election cycle. Team Schneider has gone hard against the Kenilworth candidate's voting record on Obamacare—notably his previous attempts to strike down the health care law. But Dold, aiming to present himself as a fiscially conservative/socially moderate independent, has got on his side a relatively well liked (and like-minded) fellow North Shore Republican, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, who disses the Deerfield congressman in a new ad that dropped Tuesday. "Brad Schneider's part of the problem in Washington. He just votes the way party leaders order him to," declares Kirk, handing Dold the ultimate compliment from one egotistic politician to another: "He's like me."

The day after that spot hit, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched an anti-Dold attack that casts the contender as an aforementioned tea party sympathizer on Schneider's behalf. "With features that include lockstep voting with Republicans, the tea party counts on Bob Dold," proclaims a narrator, in a jaunty morning-show radio voice. "Fully loaded with Republican ideas like raising the retirement age and privatizing social security."

Since the 10th skews more blue than red, the tea party thing might leave an impression on Democrat-leaning voters who disdain the conservative movement.

Michael Madigan vs. the Liberty Principles PAC. Speaking of conservative groups, someone over at the Liberty Principles political action commitee—is that you, Dan Proft?—has A) intense hatred for Illinois' Machiavellian House Speaker and B) a twisted sense of humor as well as C) way too much time on their hands. The result: Jazzercise Mike Madigan. The stoic Democrat power broker, looking like Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu:

Apologies for the nightmares.

<![CDATA[Campaign Ad Featuring James Foley Pulled]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 11:58:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_james_foley_ejecucion_isis_syria.jpg

A conservative ad campaign that featured James Foley, the New Hampshire journalist slain by ISIS, moments before his execution, will be pulled, the group responsible for the ad said.

Secure America Now President Allen Roth said in a statement that his group didn't intend to upset Foley's family with the ad attacking Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and that they "apologize for any pain we inadvertently caused.“

“It has been brought to our attention that a news report image of American hostage James Foley that appeared in a Secure America Now video has upset his parents, so we have decided to take the video down," the statement continued. “The purpose of the video was to draw attention to Washington’s failure to secure our borders from real threats by terrorists. That remains our objective and we will continue to engage in this public debate.”

Foley, a Rochester native, was beheaded by Islamic State militants in August, nearly two years after he was kidnapped in Syria. His parents say the ad was "deplorable" and told NECN in an emotional interview that they were demanding that the ad be pulled from New Hampshire.

Secure America Now used the image in a 15-second Internet ad attacking Shaheen, who is locked in a tight race against Republican Scott Brown, and other Democratic incumbents in critical Senate races nationwide.

"It makes me very sad that people would use the brutality of our son's death for their own political purposes," Mrs. Foley said.

Shaheen issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon condemning the ad.

"This is a disgraceful ad that dishonors the memory of a respected journalist and New Hampshire native," she said. "It hurts all who loved and knew Jim, and the people behind this ad owe the Foley family and apology."

According to Elizabeth Guyton, communications director for Scott Brown, Brown said, "This is completely inappropriate and disrespectful to the Foley family.”

Roth says the group did not contact the Foley family before making the ad public.

Secure America Now emphasized that the Foley execution video and the image have been used in other campaigns across the country several different times.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Putnam County: Illinois' Political Bellwether]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:54:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/258*120/Putnam+screenshot+p1.jpg

Want to know who will win the governor’s race in November between Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner?

Forget the polls. Watch Putnam County.  It’s the smallest county in the state in geography with a population of 5,800 and an unusual knack for picking the winner.

“As the vote goes in Putnam County, so goes the state,” said Democrat and Putnam County Clerk Dan Kuhn.
It’s not just that they pick the winner, the winning percentage in Putnam County mirrors the winning percentage statewide.
In the 1998 governor’s race when George Ryan defeated Glenn Poshard, Ryan won 51% of the state vote.  He won Putnam County with 49.3%.
In 2002 Rod Blagojevich beat Jim Ryan statewide with 52% of the vote.   Putnam County voters gave Blagojevich 51%.
Four years later it was eerily similar with Blagojevich winning 49% statewide over Judy Barr Topinka.  Putnam County voters backed Blagojevich with 46% of the vote.
The only hiccup was four years ago when the losing republican---Bill Brady--- beat Pat Quinn in Putnam County.   Voters, according to reporter Ken Schroeder of the Putnam County Record could not get past Quinn being a part of the Blagojevich administration.  “He was part of that regime” Schroeder said, “that’s more than likely why the first time around against Brady, no, they didn’t take him.”
This time around the governor’s race is---so far--- quite quiet, taking a back seat to local race for judge.
“Nobody’s talking about it. Nobody’s talking about the governor’s race,” said Alma Toedter, the Republican County chair.
Dan Kuhn, the Democrat, agrees.  “I don’t see a lot of enthusiasm about the governor’s race,” he said.
The reason says Schroeder is simple.  “There is very big resentment against Chicago politicians or rich politicians,” he said sitting on the steps of the 175-year old county courthouse. “Neither one plays real well in Putnam County.”
There are a few more Democrats than Republicans in Putnam County, a split of 58-42 says the county clerk.
Neither Governor Pat Quinn nor his Republican challenger Bruce Rauner has visited the county during this election season.
If either came here they would find this part of the state in trouble.
“I would say the biggest issue right now is unemployment,” said Denise Boggio, owner of Boggio’s Orchard a destination for visitors buying pumpkins, visiting a corn maze or stocking up on apple cider donuts.
The latest unemployment rate in the county is 7.8%, a full point higher than the state average.
The county’s largest employer, a steel mill closed, in 2009 and with that 600 jobs disappeared and disappointment has lingered.
Alma Toedter says voters tell her there is bi-partisan discouragement.  “I think they are so fed up with the one we have now and then the other one he’s got so much money he doesn’t know what to do with it all,” she said, adding,  “So I don’t know how this is going to go. I really don’t. “ 
Both Toedter and Kuhn predict their respective guy will win
In part because people here will go to the polls next month the way they always do.
In the March primary 46% of registered voters in Putnam County cast ballots compared to just 16% in Cook County.
“That’s one of the things about Putnam County, people do get out and vote,” Dan Kuhn said.
Or as Alma Toedter put it: “If you don’t vote don’t complain afterwards that your guy didn’t get in or he’s not doing a good job.  You vote, then you got a right to bitch.”

<![CDATA[Emanuel Brings Microsoft Ignite Conference to Chicago]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 17:32:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/microsoft3.JPG

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel continues to rack up tourism successes for the city. 

On Thursday, Emanuel announced that Microsoft would bring its "Ignite" conference would head to Chicago during the week of May 4-8, 2015. 

Ignite plays as something of a meta conference for Microsoft, who will combine a series of smaller conferences  -- TechEd, Microsoft Management Summit, The Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and Project -- into one. 

The conference, which will take place at the McCormick Place Convention Center, is expected to draw upward of 20,000 tech entrepreneurs, engineers and investors. 

It could be worth up to $47 million in revenue for the city. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Illinois General Election Guide 2014]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:05:51 -0500 Governor | Pat Quinn vs. Bruce Rauner
Both Quinn and Rauner have raised and spent millions of dollars for their campaigns for Governor. Read more here ]]>
Governor | Pat Quinn vs. Bruce Rauner
Both Quinn and Rauner have raised and spent millions of dollars for their campaigns for Governor. Read more here ]]>
November 4 is election day for Illinois residents to vote for who they would like to represent them. Take a quick look at who is running for what, where and who they are running against. ]]>
<![CDATA[Rauner Recruits Black Supporters for Video Testimonials]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 14:09:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/tlmd_bruce_rauner_republicano_illinois.JPG

As race becomes a defining theme of 2014's hyper-competitive Illinois governor showdown, Republican Bruce Rauner—angling to dethrone Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn—has recruited African-American allies to film video testimonials endorsing him.

The GOP hopeful has attracted an unexpected wave of support from several leaders within Chicago's large and electorally powerful African-American community on the South and West sides. Urban black voters are among Gov. Quinn's core base of supporters; without them, he's essentially toast. Following Rauner's recent endorsements from pastors Corey Brooks and James Meeks, and his controversial donation of $1 million to a South Side credit union owner, Quinn enlisted longtime congressman Bobby Rush to charge up the base with allegations that the wealthy Winnetka investor is trying to buy the election.

"I don't know him," Rush sniffed of Rauner earlier this month. "But he thinks that just because he is rich and got a lot of money that he can buy these people and people who look like these people. Well, he is mistaken. We're not for sale. We are for Pat Quinn."

Meanwhile, Team Rauner has accused Quinn of basically the same thing: Leveraging an anti-violence program, the now-defunct Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, as a "political slush fund" that funneled money into predominantly African-American wards in exchange for votes amid 2010's gubernatorial race.

In a televised debate this week at the DuSable Museum of African American History, the rivals squared off on the subject of who can best upgrade conditions for black Chicagoans. "Gov. Quinn in my opinion is taking the African American vote for granted," charged Rauner, drawing a group of anti-Quinn protesters who were reportedly paid to stand outside the debate. Quinn countered: "All my opponent does is grow his bank account and that hurts everyone."

Earlier Rauner's campaign released a series of ads featuring Brooks, Meeks and businessman Dr. Willie Wilson explaining why they're breaking rank to vote for a guy from the northern suburbs. All three make a strong case, with Brooks lamenting: "The economy is worse, more people are out of jobs, our educational system is definitely failing and there's a lack of hope in our community."

Taking a dig at Quinn, Meeks opines: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. ... Why would we do the same thing again?"


Here's Wilson, an entrepreneur-philanthropist: "I've been a Democrat all my life. It changed when I got kind of, like, wise enough to understand that we're being taken for granted."

All told, do the trio's pro-Rauner remarks hold much sway over a diehard Democratic voting bloc? Not really. Quinn's connections run deep—and so does party loyalty—but as we've seen from the racially charged backlash brewing against him, the governor is learning that some votes are not his for the taking.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Quinn vs. Rauner: Candidates Rack Up $35 Million Campaign Tab]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 13:39:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Quinn-rauner-p1.jpg

Heading into the final stretch, Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican nemesis Bruce Rauner have each racked up hugely expensive campaign tabs ahead of Nov. 4's election.

In the period from July to September, the super-rich Rauner—who recently replenished his war chest with another $3 million from his own pocket—spent $20.4 million in his bid to dethrone Quinn, while the incumbent shelled out $15.2 million in part on increasingly negative media attacks against his formidable foe, according to the Illinois Board of Elections.

Rauner ended the third quarter with about $3.7 million in cash at hand; Quinn had $4.8 million. The former raised $20.5 million in donations over that three-month span; the latter collected $8.3 million.

"Our campaign is gaining supporters every day and we've picked up even more momentum since Pat Quinn admitted that he wants another massive tax hike in exactly three weeks," the Winnetka venture capitalist says in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Though Rauner touts thousands in small-time individual contributions, the multi-millionaire has raked in big money from deep-pocketed donors including hedge fund mogul Ken Griffin, who's given a collective (and record-breaking) $3.57 million.

Where does all the dough go? Here, here and here.

<![CDATA[Opinion: Kelly Campaign Stunt Matters Little in Mayor’s Race]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:48:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/billkelly.jpg

If you’re not paying extra close attention to the Chicago mayor’s race, you might not know the name William Kelly.
If you pay any attention at all to political gadflies who like to draw attention to themselves, however, then William Kelly is probably right up your alley.
A Republican, Kelly is one of a handful of little-known candidates for Chicago mayor in 2015. He recently made news by donating $100,000 of his own money to his campaign, effectively lifting the cap on the amount of donations any candidate in the race can receive at any one time.  
Kelly says he did it to “level the playing field” in the mayor’s race, meaning his move will somehow allow opponents of Rahm Emanuel a leg up on matching the mayor’s considerable fundraising prowess.
Don’t believe it. By any measure, Kelly’s move is unlikely to alter the race in any substantial way, regardless of how much any given candidate raises in campaign contributions.
That hasn't stopped him from earning a day’s attention in the Chicago media news cycle, however. In fact, Kelly has made something of a name for himself pulling media-oriented stunts designed to get his name in the spotlight.
His history of befriending noted conservative figures in Illinois and Chicago politics only to turn on them later is well-known.
He likes to accuse mainstream media outlets of conspiracies in supporting his political opponents, such as Rahm Emanuel.
A few years ago, he nearly got into a fistfight with political reporter Jay Levine as Kelly tried to sandbag then-candidate Emanuel during a street interview. That one earned him a day in court, where a judge found his claim Levine threatened him unfounded.
Kelly is touting his latest move something of a game-changer in the 2015 mayor’s race. Illinois election law says once a candidate self-funds to the tune of $100,000, other donation limits are no longer valid. Theoretically that means any campaign donor wanting to write some candidate a really, really big check is now free to do so.
Yet Kelly’s logic doesn’t make sense on its face. In an announcement accompanying his donation, he argued by lifting the cap, “any donor or corporation or PAC that wants to defeat Rahm Emanuel [now has] the opportunity to donate to my campaign without limitation.”
Besides the unlikely notion that any major funder was simply waiting in the wings to give Kelly a massive check but was held up by election law, implicit in his argument is the idea that any donor who wanted to offer funds beyond the previous caps couldn’t find some other way to do so.
If that was the case, how did Rahm Emanuel already raise more than $8 million from only a relative handful of wealthy friends?
Actually, donors looking to support any of Emanuel’s other opponents, such as Ald. Bob Fioretti, are already making decisions about how much they’re willing to offer in support. If the amount under consideration was more than previous cap allowed, big-ticket donors such as unions or wealthy individuals had other ways to support their candidate, such as bundling, building a super PAC and more.
As well, it simply doesn't take $8 million to defeat Rahm Emanuel. Candidates such as Fioretti didn't get into the race on the hope that it would only take a few donors writing $1 million checks to their campaign to win. Instead, for a more grassroots campaign such as Fioretti’s or Amara Enyia’s, reality dictated that a strategy would have to be developed relying on smaller, individual donations coupled with a more modest amount of institutional donors, such as unions.
Some progressives and political opponents of the mayor worry this means Emanuel can now really start to ramp up his fundraising, blowing his challengers even farther out of the water. The truth is, there’s only so many checks for $100,000 or more that get written in a mayoral campaign. And, chances are, Rahm Emanuel already had all of those locked up.
Besides, if Emanuel had felt at any time he was being hamstrung by election law, all he had to do was drop $100,000 of his considerable personal wealth into his war chest, and the issue would have already become moot.
So William Kelly can crow all he wants that he’s somehow a power player in the 2015 race. And if reporters want to cover his claims, all the more power to them.
Chances are, however, is that all William Kelly did was spend $100,000 of his own money to buy a day’s worth of the media spotlight.    

Photo Credit: williamjkelly.wordpress.com]]>
<![CDATA[Quinn-Rauner Showdown Drives Voter Registration in Chicago Area]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 09:47:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/I+Voted+Today+sticker.jpg

Forget what you've heard about rising voter apathy—wait, there's an election in November?—because, in the Chicago area at least, more residents are registering to have a say at the ballot box, a pattern that suggests a higher level of engagement perhaps sparked by Illinois' contentious governor race.

Crain's Chicago Business' Greg Hinz reports a 1.9 percent uptick in Chicago voter registration from four years ago, when Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn battled Republican challenger Bill Brady for Springfield's highest office. The 2014 GOP nominee Bruce Rauner, endorsed by Crain's last week, is running a close campaign to unseat Quinn on a vow to reform state government and bust up the Democrats' dominance. Despite his efforts to undermine the incumbent's firm grip on Windy City proper, the largest voting bloc in Illinois and one that bleeds blue, Rauner stands no chance of stealing a winning chunk of urban votes away from Quinn.

According to Hinz, there's been a registration spike in six Latino-dominated city wards as well as in two wards whose constituents are primarily white. Not so much in the African-American wards whose support is crucial for Quinn. "One wild card," notes Hinz, "is same-day voter registration, which goes into effect for the first time in Illinois on Nov. 4."

State Republicans recoiled when Quinn approved the same-day law in July, slamming the move as a political tactic to entice Democratic voters to the polls.

But Rauner, the wealthy Winnetka investor-turned-rookie political candidate, resonates strongly within the Republican-leaning collar counties like DuPage, where registration is up 588,000 from 559,000 circa 2010. Lake County, another GOP-heavy bloc, has seen a minor boost while numbers for the Cook County 'burbs—which skew more Quinn than Rauner—are also on the rise.

Quinn and Rauner, meanwhile, are neck and neck in an increasingly competitive, expensive and outright nasty showdown that pits an unpopular governor against a shiny new upstart whose platform—"I'm a Reformer, And Most Importantly, I'm Not Pat Quinn"—is undermined by a series of PR gaffes including his confession that he once supported wiping out the minimum wage entirely. At the moment, Quinn leads Rauner by several percentage points in the polls, but as we've seen during this ever-evolving toss-up of a race, which previously favored Team Rauner before Team Quinn launched a full-scale media blitz last month, anything can happen in the span of a week or two, let alone a few days.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[Quinn's Mother Talks Governor's Race]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 20:28:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/eileen+quinn.jpg

Eileen Quinn isn’t about to gloss over how she feels about Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner.

“I don’t consider him very polished,” she said.

The mother of Gov. Pat Quinn says this year’s race has been a tough one to watch.

“I’ve never ever in all the years seen anything like Bruce Rauner,” she said.

Much like Eileen Quinn lobbies for her son, Diana Rauner, Bruce Rauner’s wife is pushing voters for her husband.

Diana Rauner has most recently appeared in a new, more positive campaign ad in the closing weeks of the race.

But with just three weeks to election day, Eileen Quinn, who’s almost 97, says she’s ready.

“You never know about elections, but I feel positive,” she said.

<![CDATA[Jazzercise Michael Madigan Goes for Cheap Laughs (And Succeeds)]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 12:59:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/220*120/Michael+Madigan+Jazzercize+p1.jpg

Even Lisa Madigan might laugh at the sight of her stern, jaded father decked out in exuberant '80s jazzercise drag.

The bizarre image of the powerful and reviled Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan that's making the media rounds, courtesy of the Liberty Principles PAC, a conservative group led by Illinois radio host/ex-governor candidate Dan Proft, is funny because it's so low budget. Whoever super-imposed the Democratic kingpin's face on the body of what appears to be Kelly Kopowski from Saved by the Bell did an especially terrible job, which makes it that much more absurd/amusing.

"Chicago Democrats have been in charge of Illinois since leggings and headbands were the exercise fashion rage. Like those fashions, one party rule of Illinois is out of style," says the narrator in Liberty Principles' new ad touting GOP state rep candidate Terri Bryant.

If the Democratic Party wants to be a good sport about it, they could cobble together a response video featuring Madigan in 2014-trendy workout gear a la Lululemon yoga pants, Stella McCartney for Adidas sneakers and a bottle of green juice. The inspiration: A Gold Coast Starbucks at 8:30 a.m.

<![CDATA[Opinion: Is Chicago Forward a Defensive Play, Too?]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:26:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/tlmd_alcalde_rahm_emanuel1.JPG

Imagine this: If Rahm Emanuel were to win re-election in February, what do you think would matter more to him the morning after Election Day: defeating noted mayoral critic Roderick Sawyer in the 6th Ward, or seeing mayoral ally Michelle Harris re-elected in the nearby 8th Ward?

At this point in the election cycle, both Sawyer and Harris are considered reasonable bets for reelection. Both wards are relatively unaffected by the 2015 remap, although the 6th ward picked up a chunk of the old 9th Ward where Sawyer has to win over new voters.
As well, both incumbents have at least two announced challengers, although it’s a bit early to see who might be serious or who will even make the February ballot. And both Sawyer and Harris are incumbents facing relatively unknown candidates. In the end, while no race can be guaranteed before Election Day, both Sawyer and Harris are in a better position than other, more vulnerable incumbent aldermen.
So, with $2.4 million sitting around in a friendly super PAC designed to help influence aldermanic races, where does Mayor Emanuel and his allies decide to spend money in the heart of Chicago’s South Side?
If I were the mayor or one of his political operatives, I’ll tell you what I’d do: I’d pour every available dollar I had into making sure Ald. Harris was still in City Council on February 25th.
Much has been made in recent weeks about the motives and intentions of Chicago Forward, a super PAC aligned with Mayor Emanuel widely seen as intended to help the mayor throw political opponents in City Council out of office and elect a new class of more compliant candidates.
To that end, Chicago Forward has raised more than $2 million in just a few months, most of it from wealthy donors and friends of the mayor.
The prevailing narrative around Chicago Forward is that Mayor Emanuel, already looking forward to reelection, wants to eliminate any and all opposition in City Council to his administration and agenda.
While that may be true, what if it’s only half the story? The reality is, not winning reelection isn't the only worst-case scenario on the table for Team Emanuel. Another, less visible, negative outcome could well include winning reelection but seeing a whole bunch of mayoral allies in Council go down to defeat.
It’s not out of the question. Mayor Emanuel is currently wildly unpopular in black and Hispanic wards across the city, a political dynamic that could easily play itself out in City Council races instead of the mayoral race.
At the same time, there’s a lot of pent-up energy around a number of aldermanic races across the city in advance of February. While turnover in City Council is often low due to the advantages of incumbency, there’s no reason why more candidates running in more contested races against allies of an unpopular mayor can't increase the number of incumbents out of a job come February.
And many of those political upsets, if they happen, could come at the expense of staunch mayoral allies who’ve loyally supported the mayor’s agenda, right down the line. If Rahm Emanuel isn't able to show he can protect alderman who’ve stood by his side for the last four years, what kind of message does that send for his ability to govern Chicago for the next four?
Just take Michelle Harris as one example. While Sawyer has often fought the good fight against what he and others see as mayoral agenda that’s wrong for the city, his effectiveness is limited by the unwillingness of a majority of alderman to sign on to any opposition to the mayor.
However, Harris is chairman of the powerful Rules Committee in City Council, and wields extraordinary influence over whether legislation unfavorable to the mayor gets buried in parliamentary procedure for months and years at a time.
What would it look like if the Mayor’s chairman of the powerful Rules Committee in Council unexpectedly found herself in a run-off? Or, worse, going down to outright defeat?
That’s not to say any of this is going to happen.
But it is to say that if I were Mayor Emanuel, I wouldn't want to take any chances. 

Photo Credit: Archivo Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pregnant Tammy Duckworth Retires From Illinois National Guard]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:24:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Tammy+Duckworth+ill+dept+of+veterans.jpg

Illinois congresswoman and Iraq War vet Tammy Duckworth, pregnant with her first child, is retiring from her post as a lieutenant colonel with the Illinois National Guard.

Duckworth, a Democrat repping western suburban Chicago, has served 23 years in the military, joining the Army Reserves in 1992 and the National Guard in 1996; in 2004, she lost both legs after her helicopter was shot down in Iraq.

The 46-year-old announced her pregnancy—she and husband Brian Bowlsbey are expecting a girl—on NBC's TODAY last month.

"I plan on continuing my civilian job, raising this baby and being as big a cheerleader of the Guard as I can," Duckworth said Tuesday in a statement on the National Guard's website. "I’ll be a Guard spouse, as my husband is still in."

Duckworth, who's due early December, is running for re-election on Nov. 4. She faces Republican Larry Kaifesh of Carpentersville, a fellow veteran.

<![CDATA[Emanuel Presents 2015 Chicago Budget Plan]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:46:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/tlmd_alcalde_rahm_emanuel1.JPG

Mayor Rahm Emanuel presented his 2015 Chicago budget to the City Council on Wednesday, with no planned property, sales or gas tax hikes.

Emanuel has other ways of trying to close an estimated $300 million budget gap, though, and if you park in public Chicago lots, it could affect you.

The proposed budget calls for a 2 percent increase at public parking lots, bringing the city parking tax up to 22 percent on weekdays and 20 percent on weekends. The hike is projected to bring the city an additional $10 million in 2015.

In exchange, the mayor wants to hire an additional 80 employees to help fill more than a million potholes every year.

The budget also includes investments in neighborhood services, such as four additional graffiti removal crews, a 30 percent increase in rodent control crews and more than 7,500 trees planted.

The parking tax marks the third time Emanuel has raised or changed parking rates to bring in more city revenue, and commuters aren't pleased

"We already pay enough to park in the city, whether it be on the street or in a parking garage," commuter Andrew Skowkonski said.

There also won't be breaks for those who own skyboxes at Chicago stadiums. The mayor wants to end the amusement tax exemption on those boxes, which could earn another $4 million for the city.

Photo Credit: Archivo Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rauner, Quinn Square Off in Governor's Debate in Chicago]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 22:27:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009242474_1200x675_342629443993.jpg The candidates debate taxes, assault weapons and a Chicago casino. Mary Ann Ahern reports.]]> <![CDATA[Why Lewis' Exit From Mayor’s Race Changes Nothing]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 13:49:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/karen+lewis+0619.jpg

Here are two thoughts to keep in mind in the next few days as the city reacts to news Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis will not be running for mayor.
First, the pundits, political observers and progressive supporters of Lewis are all correct: her decision not to run for mayor is a grievous blow to the twin notions of democracy and dissent in Chicago politics.
Second, Rahm Emanuel remains a deeply unpopular mayor, and can be beaten.
Let’s start with the loss. Few political figures in recent memory have inspired such fervent support and hope for political change as Lewis. There’s little doubt that even though she had yet to announce her candidacy, a whole heck of a lot of people in Chicago had come to believe she was the city’s best hope to unseat Mayor Emanuel and bring about a more inclusive, grassroots-based city government.
Equally important, Lewis proved time and time again that no matter what you thought about her politics or personality, she wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power as she saw it.
At the same time, she endeared herself personally to a whole chunk of Chicago’s population who had come to view her not just a friend, but as practically a member of the family.
After all, how many times do you see a rally take place for people simply wishing for a public figure to “get well soon” in her battle against an unspecified illness, such as the one that took place last week during the “Rally of Love for Karen Lewis” on the city’s South Side?
Undoubtedly, her completely understandable decision not to run in light of her recent health concerns is a setback to those who want to see change in City Hall.
But look past the news of Lewis’ decision and a deeper truth remains: her potential mayoral run was fueled, in large part, by the simple fact that Rahm Emanuel is vulnerable. And, as disappointing as Lewis’s decision may be to some, that reality is as true today as it was yesterday, last week or last month.
This is a mayor, don't forget, that is less popular than morning traffic on the Eisenhower Expressway and nearly as unpopular as the Green Bay Packers. 
More damaging, a Sun-Times poll earlier this year found that “only one in five Chicago voters credit Mayor Rahm Emanuel with doing a better job of running the city than Richard M. Daley did, and only 29 percent would support him if the mayoral election were held today.” A recent Chicago Tribune poll put his job approval rating at 35 percent, and found only one in four black voters thought he was doing a good job.
There’s good reason for this lack of support. From closing 50 public schools, concerns over crime, shuttering mental health clinics, a ongoing red light camera scandal, higher taxes and fees to close budget gaps, an administration that operates with little dissent or debate and a perception that the mayor is out of touch with ordinary Chicagoans, there’s no shortage of reasons for voters to be suspicious of Emanuel and looking for an alternative.
Karen Lewis, as compelling as she is to many voters, was only one expression of this discontent. A powerful expression, to be sure. But only one.
And since she’s no longer available as a choice, it’s time for Chicagoans to ask themselves a fundamental question.
Is political change in Chicago possible only if certain personalities are in the race?
For those who believe the answer is “no”, there are choices. Alderman Bob Fioretti for one. Political newcomer Amara Enyia for another. A handful of others running smaller, less well-known campaigns.
With or without Karen Lewis, a lot of Chicagoans are still looking for change. And the options are already there.
“The dynamics are shifting but the fundamentals of this race remain the same,” Michael Kolenc, senior strategist with the Fioretti campaign, tells Ward Room. “This campaign is still going to be about the issues facing Chicagoans. Voters are going to have a clear choice in February: more of the same, or a new direction.”
Today, the hearts of voters across Chicago are broken with news Karen Lewis won't be running. And every person of good conscience is keeping her in their thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.
But, in important ways, the political reality in Chicago hasn't changed.
It’s up to Chicago voters of all stripes to remember that in the days and weeks to come.    

<![CDATA[Emanuel Considers Tax Hike on Parking in Chicago Garages]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 18:22:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/178*120/tlmd_rahm_emanuel_ayuno_reforma_migratoria.JPG

If Mayor Rahm Emanuel gets his way, it will be more expensive to park your car in Chicago.

Emanuel's new plan calls for a 2 percent increase to park at public parking lots. That would bring the city parking tax up to 22 percent on weekdays and 20 percent on weekends.

The hike is projected to bring the city an additional $10 million in 2015 and would help fill some of Chicago's $300 million budget gap.

As the February mayoral election approaches, Emanuel has said he doesn't want to raise property, sales or gas taxes, but he's still trying to close the budget gap. 

The mayor plans to present his budget to the City Council on Wednesday for approval.

Daily commuters told NBC 5 parking costs are already challenging, and suburban residents who drive to Chicago to enjoy the city say parking sometimes costs more than any activity.

"I don't park every day," commuter Lisa Kolosowski said. "I don't park because it's so high as it is, so I'm not happy with that."

"We already pay enough to park in the city, whether it be on the street or in a parking garage," commuter Andrew Skowkonski said.

This marks the third time Emanuel has raised or changed parking rates to bring in more city revenue.

Two years ago, he added an across-the-board $2 a day fee. Last year, the flat parking tax was changed to a percentage.

Emanuel also is reportedly looking at a hike for people who own skyboxes at Chicago stadiums.

<![CDATA[NH Lawmaker Calls Congresswoman "Ugly as Sin"]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 18:22:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/Steve+Vaillancourt.jpg

Candidates for New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District are speaking out after a state lawmaker described one of them as "ugly as sin."

The story has gained national attention and has both candidates denouncing the remarks. Republican state Representative Steven Vaillancourt wrote a blog post on Friday after he says he saw a poll that claimed more attractive candidates have the upper hand with voters.

In the blog, he wrote, "Does anyone not believe that Congressman Annie Kuster is as ugly as sin?"

Vaillancourt then compared her to a drag queen.

"Look, it's rude and offensive," Congresswoman Kuster said. "But I have a thick skin."

Kuster's Republican challenger, Marilinda Garcia, said the post was just plain mean.

"She doesn't deserve to be treated that way," Garcia said.

Congresswoman Kuster said Vaillancourt's comments reflect a broader issue with the Republican Party.

"I am more frustrated with the positions they stand for, and frankly, that leads to an environment where people say disrespectful things," Kuster said.

Garcia said she is frustrated that exactly three weeks before the election, the conversation has turned to this.

"Looks and appearance seem to supersede commentary and observation and the other things that are more important," Garcia said.

In Vaillancourt's blog, he called Garcia, "One of the most attractive women on the political scene anywhere."

Garcia, who has worked with Vaillancourt during her four terms as a state representative, said the comments are not surprising and she is not at all flattered.

"He certainly is an equal opportunity offender," Garcia said.

NECN tried to reach Vaillancourt for comment, but no one answered when crews knocked at his Manchester home. He later sent an email referring NECN to his latest blog entry, which was posted Monday evening. Vaillancourt answers reporters' questions about whether or not he stands by his statements, writing, "Stand by the fact that Ms. Garcia is better looking than Ms. Kuster? If the reporters themselves don't see that, then they should question their own abilities to function."

In that same blog, Vaillancourt makes it clear, none of this is about supporting his party affiliation. In fact, he went on to criticize Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

"Anyone who has followed what I've written (more than 500 posts this past year) knows that neither looks nor race nor sexual orientation nor sex matters a whit to me," Vaillancourt wrote.

As for the 2nd Congressional District Race, the most recent poll shows Kuster with a two point lead over Garcia.

Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Columbus Day Campaigning]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 22:28:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009221007_1200x675_341768771688.jpg 10/13/2014: The race for Governor saw both candidates campaigning Monday on Columbus Day. NBC 5's political reporter Mary Ann Ahern reports.]]> <![CDATA[Karen Lewis Not Running for Mayor]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 23:07:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Karen_Lewis_9-2.jpg

Karen Lewis will not be running for mayor of Chicago, officials announced Monday.

Jhatayn “Jay” Travis, coordinator of the Karen Lewis Exploratory Committee said in a statement Monday that Lewis “has decided to not pursue a mayoral bid. Yet she charges us to continue fighting for strong neighborhood schools, safe communities, and good jobs for everyone.”

The news comes after health concerns prompted Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union, to have emergency surgery.

The CTU said previously that Lewis has a “serious illness.”

Lewis was taken by ambulance to Northwestern Hospital earlier this month after attending a campaign event.

A source insists Lewis did not suffer a stroke, and while it's not clear what kind of emergency surgery she had, NBC 5 was told it was not heart surgery or related to her weight loss surgery.

"I have always respected and admired Karen's willingness to step up and be part of the conversation about our city's future, but nothing is more important than a person's health," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "Along with all Chicagoans, I will keep Karen and her family in our thoughts and prayers, and we look forward to seeing her on her feet very soon."

The news leaves Ald. Bob Fioretti as Emanuel's biggest competitor.

"Karen and I found common ground on many issues and her participation in this debate would have elevated it," he said Monday.

<![CDATA[Washington, Ill. Mayor Voices Support for Quinn]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 20:22:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009197207_1200x675_340332099684.jpg

An Illinois town in the midst of a major rebuilding following deadly tornadoes last year would normally lean Republican, but this year the town’s mayor is showing support for Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

After an EF-4 tornado careened through Washington Illinois 11 months ago, families are getting closer to moving back into their homes, thanks in part to help city officials say they received from Quinn following the disaster.

Washington Mayor Gary Manier is directing the city’s recovery response after more than 1,100 homes were damaged or destroyed, but he’s also been tapped as a Republican to stay in a campaign ad for Quinn.

“He stepped up,” said Manier. “It wasn’t something that he found a pile of money and said let’s arbitrarily give $45 million to the nine counties.”

Republican candidate Bruce Rauner and his wife Diana also donated $1 million to the American Red Cross for the relief efforts in Central Illinois.

The mayor agreed to Quinn’s campaign ad but he also noted the area has a lot of priorities once the rebuilding is over.

“No matter who the governor is, there’s a lot of work to be done on both sides of the aisle,” Manier said. “Regardless of who’s in that sear, we need to work together.”

<![CDATA[Rauner Releases 2013 Tax Returns]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 19:23:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bruce_Rauner_marijuana.jpg

Republican candidate for Illinois governor Bruce Rauner released his 2013 income taxes late Friday afternoon.

The release reveals Rauner made more than $60 million and paid more than $17 million in state and federal taxes. He also gave more than $5 million to charity.

“I’m nobody that nobody sent and independent of the special interests,” Rauner said in a statement Friday. “Unlike Pat Quinn, who put self-dealing and cronyism ahead of the people, I’ll put the people first and end decades of corruption in state government.”

For months, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's campaign has called on Rauner to release his 2013 returns and more information about prior years as the two face off in a highly competitive race.

“Mr. Rauner's disclosure is wholly insufficient and raises more questions than answers. What are his sources of income? What loopholes is he jumping through? Does he have any conflicts of interest in his finances? The voters don't know because Mr. Rauner is hiding this information from them," Quinn's campaign said in a statement. “What we do know is this: Bruce Rauner took in $30,000 an hour last year while he sought to lower the minimum wage and he certainly can't be trusted to look out for Illinois' working families.”

Rauner Spokesman Mike Schrimpf said earlier this year that Rauner received a six-month extension of the April 15 filing deadline and that the results would be released before the Nov. 4 election.

Schrimpf called the Quinn campaign's calls "nothing but a political stunt." He says Rauner pro-actively released three years of returns.

Quinn's 2013 returns show he made about $161,000 last year. Rauner's 2012 returns show the Winnetka businessman made $53 million that year.

<![CDATA[Why NBC 5 Objects to Quinn Campaign Ad]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 13:28:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/205*120/Quinn+Ad+p1.jpg

Starting today, the Quinn campaign began airing a television commercial using a portion of an NBC 5 investigative report.  

The story was reported by our political editor Carol Marin.  NBC 5 strongly objects to use of our material in a campaign ad, and we asked the Quinn campaign to not use it.  

NBC 5 is required by law to air campaign commercials bought by bona-fide candidates for public office so you will see it on our air.  

We want to make clear that this commercial is not an endorsement of Governor Quinn by Carol Marin or NBC 5.  We will continue to work hard to make sure we cover both candidates for governor fairly and objectively.    

<![CDATA[Chicago Tribune, Crain's Endorse Rauner for Illinois Governor]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 13:18:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bruce_Rauner_marijuana.jpg

The Chicago Tribune and Crain's Chicago Business have endorsed Republican investor Bruce Rauner for governor over Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn.

Pro-business and anti-term limits, Rauner is a veteran venture capitalist/political rookie campaigning on a vow to "shake up Springfield" and run the capitol like an efficiently run corporation—an agenda that resonates among the papers' editorial boards and certainly many of their readers.

"Gov. Pat Quinn has had six years to lead the people of Illinois out of this morass," says the conservative-leaning Trib, listing off the cash-strapped state's fiscal woes. "He has tried. He stalled legislators' pay until they passed state retirement reforms. He signed several pension fixes into law. He closed several costly state facilities. But despite Quinn's efforts, the nearly 13 million citizens of this state remain mired in a slow-mo economy that grows too few jobs — an intolerable status quo unlike the robust Illinois they remember."

Declares the paper: "Quinn's obsessive attacks on a man who can afford several homes may be a deft way to change the political debate, but the crucial issue on Nov. 4 is that in today's Illinois — with so many jobs going to Texas and other hiring-friendly states — many families here can't afford one house. All of us should focus on that."

Meanwhile, Crain's touts Rauner as "the best candidate to pull the Illinois economy out of its low-growth rut. For that reason, above others, he earns our endorsement for governor."

"Mr. Rauner's experience as a private-equity investor would benefit Springfield," says the biz trade. "Government isn't the same as business, of course. As head of the state's executive branch, the governor wields real power, but it's less than that of a chief executive. Still, Mr. Rauner would bring the much-needed perspective of a private-sector leader. And he has a sharp eye for efficiency, something that bloated state government desperately needs. He is no politician, and that is a good thing."

Rauner, locked in a contentious toss-up battle with Quinn, was previously endorsed by Crain's and the conservative-leaning Chicago Tribune in March's GOP primary.

<![CDATA[This Week in Mudslinging: Rauner and Quinn Cannot Contain Their Mutual Malice]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 11:26:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/SKoreanMudFest.jpg

When this is all over, don't expect Bruce Rauner to extend Pat Quinn an invitation for a post-election glamping retreat at his gazillion-acre Montana ranch, bottles of Napa Valley Reserve-branded vino in stock and roaming buffalo in the distance.

Like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, these two will never ever ever, like, ever be friends.

Without further ado, this week's mudslinging report: 

Quinn vs. Rauner. Convening in Peoria Thursday night for their first official debate-debate—not to be confused with those previous non-debate-debates—the Democratic incumbent and his Republican rival proceeded to rip each other to shreds before a televised audience. As our very own Mary Ann Ahern puts it, "The candidates for governor may have shaken hands, but there was no small talk. These are two men who want the same job—and aren't about to pretend they like each other." The bitter enemies squared off on the minimum wage, an important issue this election cycle and one that has dogged Rauner ever since the September revelation that he once pitched the idea to completely wipe out living wages for low-income workers. "A person taking in $53 million dollars a year, running around Illinois saying, 'Eliminate the minimum wage.' He's adamantly against it," lamented Quinn, to which Rauner responded: "He's had a supermajority of his party in the General Assembly and he has not increased the minimum wage in that period of time." The nastiness continued as a debate moderator asked Rauner about accusations that he sought to influence Chicago's African-American voters by writing a $1 million check to a South Side credit union owner. Defenses up, the coolly professional Rauner argued, "The difference is I'm using my personal money. Pat Quinn has been trying to buy the election using taxpayer money." That was a dig at this week's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative hearings in Springfield, where a lawmaker panel led by crusading GOP state Sen. Jason Barickman called to witness several former Quinn staffers as part of its probe into whether the governor's failed anti-violence program was well intentioned—or a political slush fund to wrangle votes in exchange for state dollars. "I'll never apologize for making sure that we keep families safe," declared Quinn, his presentation more polished than usual (minus the verbal bluster and slovenly body language) . Everything can be boiled down to this: "YOU NO GOOD FOR ILLINOIS. ME GOOD FOR ILLINOIS."

Quinn vs. "GOP Witch Hunt Leaders." And speaking of the NRI trainwreck ... the governor's campaign struck back against Barickman and other GOP members of the Legislative Audit Commission for launching a partisan "witch hunt" to take down Quinn. Blasting the legislators' voting records on hot-button issues like gun control, the Quinns revealed, among other info-nuggets: that Barickman once voted "no" to forming a gang witness protection program and "yes" to concealed carry. Does the senator give a whit about the devastating impact of gun-and-gang violence in crime-ridden urban neighborhoods? Apparently, no. Referencing NRI-related probes by the feds and the state's attorney, he sniped: "Does Governor Quinn really believe that federal and Cook County investigators are also on a witch hunt?"

Durbin vs. Oberweis. It's hard out there for a political candidate with no chance of winning. But Jim Oberweis continues to fight the unwinnable fight. The GOP state senator and dairy mogul has been on Chicago's South Side plying passersby—and possible voters—with ice cream. Shameless! (If anyone spots Oberweis with free containers of the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor, please let me know his coordinates ASAP. Hurry up before it melts!). Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, the second most powerful Democrat in the House, remains in a comfortable, 13-point lead over his opponent, whom he's smeared as a tea party sympathizer. A new We Ask America/Reboot Illinois poll has Durbin besting Oberweis 51-38 percent and owning the Windy City vote with a 72 percent majority to Oberweis' 16 percent. Punching upward during a Tuesday speech at the City Club of Chicago, the moneyed Sugar Grove businessman slammed the established politico as a "millionaire career politician" who "presided over one of the worst periods of economic stagnation and decline in Illinois history." The zinger: "If a manager at one of my ice cream stores or one of my mutual funds had that kind of a sorry record, we would have fired him a long time ago." Somewhere Dick Durbin is A) rolling his eyes and B) counting the days 'til Nov. 5, when he won't have an Oberweis all up in his business.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Quinn, Rauner Square Off in 1st Televised Debate]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 09:57:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009183239_1200x675_339877955981.jpg 10/9/2014: Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican candidate Bruce Rauner square off in first televised debate. Mary Ann Ahern reports.]]> <![CDATA[Quinn, Rauner Prepare for First Debate]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 19:16:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009178520_1200x675_339756099966.jpg 10/9/2014: Illinois gubernatorial candidates face off in Peoria Thursday night. NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern reports.]]> <![CDATA[Illinois' Public Health Honcho Calls Chicago Aldermen's Ebola Screening Pitch 'Overkill']]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 13:14:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ohare-airport-delays-2.jpg

The director of Illinois' public health department describes a pitch by Ebola-fearing Chicago aldermen to screen all global travelers flying into O'Hare and Midway as "overkill."

Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck declared Wednesday that Illinois is ready to treat potential local cases of the deadly virus and responded to a newly introduced city ordinance from Aldermen Edward Burke and Michael Zalewski that would require screening facilities at the two highly trafficked airports.

"It would be a waste of resources in some ways. I think that it is overkill," he said.

O'Hare, meanwhile, is among five international airports that will ramp up a screening process for fliers coming in from West Africa. New measures involve taking passengers' temperatures and asking extra questions to gauge exposure to the illness, which is transmitted not through the air but via direct contact with blood and bodily fluids.

Under Burke and Zalewski's proposal, the process would be broadened to involve commuters arriving from other countries who would also be screened for other infectious diseases, including swine flu, bird flu, measles and tuberculosis. It would also be bankrolled by airliners.

"It is important that the City of Chicago move swiftly to put all reasonable precautions in place to avoid any possible danger because O'Hare Airport is such a busy hub not only for Chicago, but also the Midwest," said Burke in a statement.

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated Wednesday that any City Council response would take a backseat to Ebola-preventing efforts by the feds. All the same, he vowed: "We're gonna work at every level, both at aviation and our public health, to ensure we have the safety and security in place to ensure both our public health and our public safety."

<![CDATA[Madigan, Emanuel Hustle Big Money From Political Donors]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 11:27:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mike-madigan-11-5.jpg

With election season in full swing, two powerful Illinois Democrats—House Speaker Michael Madigan and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel—are hustling up big amounts of cash from deep-pocketed donors.

Madigan, the state's wily and polarizing Democrat power broker, is slated to collect a new round of campaign money from the Illinois Restaurant Association, which will host an "evening with Michael J. Madigan" at the Hubbard Inn downtown Chicago Oct. 14. Tickets range from $500 to $10,000 with proceeds going to the Illinois Restaurateurs PAC (and then to Madigan's war chest)., The guest roster includes a who's who of Windy City dinging moguls from Lettuce Entertain You's Jay Stieber to Harry Caray Restaurant Group's Grant DePorter to Gibson's honcho John Colletti.

"I'd be willing to bet that the bulk of those throwing the event are, at heart, Republicans. But the only question in Springfield this year isn't whether Mr. Madigan will survive as speaker but whether he'll be able to hold on to his veto-proof majority in the House of Representatives," writes Crain's Chicago Business' Greg Hinz. "Among issues Mr. Madigan's House may take up as soon as November is whether to increase the state's minimum wage — something that would go straight to the bottom line of many eateries."

Just curious: Will there be food at the event?

Meanwhile, in an epic 22-page campaign finance report Tuesday, Emanuel's re-election committee listed around $375,000 in fresh contributions from a batch of United Airlines execs and numerous other donors including assorted attorneys, MDs and Beverly Hills stylist Jennifer Levy.

Emanuel's already inflated campaign coffer boasts more than $8.3 million in donations. Though his approval numbers are down considerably since taking office in 2011, the mayor's flair for fundraising continues to keep him afloat in what stands to be a contentious mayoral race leading up to February's election. Emanuel's wealthy supporters have also set up a controversial super-PAC, Chicago Forward, to help grow his power inside City Council—and get him elected to a second term. So far, Chicago Forward has raised $2.4 million-and-counting in outside money from business elites like Stephen Malkin, president of Ranger Capitol Management, Joe Mansueto, CEO of Morningstar, Inc.

Gov. Quinn, another Democrat, collected half a million from the Democratic Governors Association, and his Republican rival Bruce Rauner poured another $1.5 million of his own fortune into his competitive—and increasingly nasty—campaign to kick the incumbent out of Springfield.

<![CDATA[Governor's Debate Preview: Quinn and Rauner Square Off in Peoria]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 11:30:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Quinn-rauner-p1.jpg

After a series of vicious non-debate debates, Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican opponent Bruce Rauner will re-convene in Peoria for their first official debate-debate on Thursday night.

The event is being hosted by the League of Women Voters and a handful of public TV and radio stations.

This is going to get ugly.

Quinn, fighting for his political future amid heavy competition from Rauner, is an attack dog in sheep's clothing. The secretly wily veteran politician exudes a grandfatherly gentleness on the surface but when push comes to shove, he'll not think twice to deploy an arsenal of toxic verbal grenades at the enemy. Quinn's experience on the campaign pulpit—he knows exactly what to say to mobilize the base—should serve him well as he mounts a last-stage comeback ahead of Nov. 4's election.

But Rauner is more than prepared to fight back. The wealthy Winnetka investor gives off airs of reason, substance and competence, a swagger perhaps honed from years of leading boardroom meetings as managing partner at the Chicago private equity firm GTCR. He looks more like a governor than the governor. Rauner's corporate professionalism will help sell his agenda to "Shake Up Springfield" and run the state capitol like a business.

Since Rauner won the GOP primary in March, these two mortal enemies have been embroiled in an increasingly competitive, expensive and nasty battle that gained national attention with Republicans eyeing an opportunity to turn Illinois from blue to red.

Both men, especially Rauner, have poured big bucks into media campaigns to smear one another.

Both men have baggage ... and then some.

The venture capitalist-turned-political candidate had the edge in late spring and throughout the summer up until September, when Quinn seized upon a string of public gaffes by Rauner that included his admission to previously pitching the idea to eliminate the minimum wage entirely. Team Quinn, leveraging the income inequality issue that's gaining traction across the nation as the wealth gap widens, moved to cast Rauner as too out of touch with the average Illinoisan to lead Illinois. Now the incumbent has surged forward in polling.

As the multi-millionaire businessman struggles to regain his footing in the race, he will doubtless use his time in the spotlight tonight to address a state lawmaker panel's unfolding investigation into Quinn's disastrous Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, an anti-violence program launched four years ago and later shuttered amid reports of managerial incompetence and financial wrongdoing. The NRI, also under federal investigation, is ready-made fodder for Team Rauner as well as allegations of patronage hiring inside the Illinois Department of Transportation under Quinn's watch.

The opponents will likely square off on a range of issues ranging from the state budget to the minimum wage to pension reform to inevitable bickering over who's less corrupt.

Working in Quinn's favor: The audience. The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, might be more welcoming toward Quinn than Rauner. The governor tracks better with women, whose votes are eagerly courted with each new election cycle, and recently won the endorsement of feminist icon Gloria Steinem. Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton flew into Chicago this week to rally Democrats on his behalf.

Rauner, who polls better with men, has tried to appeal to women through starring in light-hearted campaign ads with his wife, Diana, a Democrat. He chose Evelyn Sanguinetti, an attorney from Wheaton, as his running mate and recently launched the group Women for Rauner.

<![CDATA[Karen Lewis' Condition is "Worrisome": Source]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 16:09:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Karen_Lewis_8-13.jpg

Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis was able to take phone calls before her emergency surgery Wednesday, and a source who is aware of one of those calls described her condition as "serious" and "worrisome."

Friends are concerned, said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

No further health updates have been released since NBC 5 learned Lewis was being operated on for a "new medical issue" discovered after she became light-headed and experienced "stroke-like symptoms" on Sunday.

Lewis was taken by ambulance to Northwestern Hospital Sunday night after attending a campaign event.

A source insists Lewis did not suffer a stroke, and while it's not clear what kind of emergency surgery she had, NBC 5 was told it was not heart surgery or related to her weight loss surgery.

In March Lewis traveled to Mexico to undergo bariatric surgery, since her health insurance would not pay for the surgery in the United States. Since then, she lost more than 100 pounds.

The 61-year-old union leader has been holding a listening tour across Chicago as she considers a run for mayor. Those close to her campaign said she already has the necessary signatures to get her name on the ballot.

The Chicago Teachers Union plans to hold a news conference Thursday to provide updates on Lewis' health and hospitalization.

<![CDATA[Opinion: Who’s Afraid of an Elected School Board Vote?]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 11:00:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chicago-city-council.jpg

Well, it’s happened again. 

For the second time in two years, the Chicago City Council has refused to allow voters to weigh in on one of the most fundamental issues about how the city is run and where its future lies.
And for the second time in as many years, Council allies of Mayor Emanuel have used trickery and parliamentary maneuvers to cover up their political cowardice in denying the measure. 
At issue is a non-binding resolution sponsored by Ald. John Arena (45) intended to place the question of an elected school board on the February ballot. The resolution asks a simple question: Shall each member of the board of School District 299, known as the Chicago Board of Education, be elected by voters of the City of Chicago, State of Illinois?
Judging by the reaction of political power structure in this town, you would think the question being asked is whether voters should allow Ebola to arrive on the next flight in to O’Hare.
In fact, Mayor Emanuel and his allies have done everything possible to make sure the question of an elected school board never sees the light of day. For starters, the resolution was originally introduced more than a year ago, but has since been bottled up in the Council’s Rules Committee. The committee chairman, Michelle Harris (8), had refused to bring the resolution forward, despite repeated calls to do so.
Even before that, an attempt in 2012 to get the measure heard was thwarted by Ald. Joe Moore (49), who claimed the proper paperwork hadn’t arrived at his committee office in time.
But despite repeated setbacks, supporters of the measure, including Arena and other members of the Progressive Reform Caucus, have refused to give up. That’s why, during Wednesday’s Council meeting, Arena was expected to invoke Rule 41, which would have required a vote of the full Council on the matter.  
Before that could happen, however, Ald. Moore—surprise!—pulled a neat little trick during Tuesday’s Rules Committee hearing by introducing three substitute referendum question designed to crowd out ballot space for the elected school board choice. As it turns out, no notice was given beforehand, and Harris passed the resolutions without any debate.
As Illinois law allows only three referendum questions to appear on any ballot, Moore’s referendums—one on paid sick leave, the others on public financing of elections and city employees convicted of domestic violence—ensured there was no room left for Arena’s issue.
As a result, voters won’t get the chance to have their voice heard this February. Or anytime soon.
Why does all of this matter? Simply this: Chicago is the only city in Illinois without an elected school board. Instead, the board is selected by mayoral appointment and confirmed by City Council. That means, for all intents and purposes, the Chicago Board of Education is a wholly owned subsidiary of the fifth floor of City Hall, and almost complete control of how the school system is run in Chicago resides with the mayor.
That means that if Mayor Emanuel wants to shut down 50 neighborhood schools without much debate, he can. If he wants to funnel millions of dollars into privately run charter schools, he can. If he wants to pour millions into selected schools in well-off neighborhoods while starving schools in poorer neighborhoods, well, that’s his choice.
A school board elected by and directly accountable to voters would change all of that. At a minimum, an elected school board provides for the opportunity to replace board members every election, and therefore provides a voice for parents, teachers and education advocates the opportunity to weigh in on crucial matters such as class size, length of school day and opening and closing schools.
But, judging from the actions of the mayor’s pals in City Council, that’s clearly too much responsibility for the citizens of Chicago to even consider, let alone possess.
That’s why the mayor tapped Moore to once again play political assassin. That’s why City Council doesn't want to rock the boat so close to an election.
That’s why the political power structure in this town thinks democracy is only for fools.
Especially when it comes to questions about how the city should be run.

<![CDATA[Quinn, Rauner to Debate Today]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 08:38:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Quinn-rauner-p1.jpg

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner meet Thursday for their first true debate of the Illinois governor's race.

The candidates are scheduled to face off in Peoria. The meeting comes as the race has grown increasingly personal and nasty. Both candidates have attacked the other's character and how they've conducted themselves.

Quinn is seeking his second full term. Rauner's making his first run for public office.

They have appeared together a few times already; once before a major teacher's union, again at a Metropolitan Planning Council lunch and again before the Chicago Tribune editorial board, but Thursday's event will be the first televised meeting in a full debate format.

It's sponsored by the League of Women Voters and several public television and radio stations.

Rauner and Quinn are scheduled to debate two more times before the Nov. 4 election.

<![CDATA[Karen Lewis 'Not Well' But 'Under Great Medical Care']]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 11:10:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/karen+lewis+0619.jpg

The Chicago Teachers Union is keeping its lips zipped on Karen Lewis' health after the union president—and prospective mayoral candidate—checked into a hospital after "experiencing discomfort" Sunday night.

CTU spokesperson Stephanie Gadlin said she does not have much information on Lewis's health and couldn't share too much if she did know because of health privacy laws. "I can tell you she had a cantaloupe for breakfast,"Gadlin said when reached on Wednesday morning. 

As NBC 5 reported Monday, Lewis took herself to the hospital on Sunday after "experiencing discomfort" and "feeling lightheaded." Her exploratory campaign aide Brandon Johnson told NBC 5 that Lewis "lost a considerable amount of weight -- more than 100 pounds," and she "wants to make sure there are no complications."

"Karen is a freedom fighter, a nationally recognized education advocate and the people's champ. She'll be back on her feet in no time. She is resting well and in good spirits -- and still thinking of creative ways to secure the future and city our students and their families deserve," CTU rep Stephanie Gadlin said Monday in a statement, squashing chatter that Lewis had suffered a stroke.

Back in May, the 61-year-old Lewis confirmed she had bariatric surgery in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, because her health insurance would not cover it here in the States.

"I have no shame around it," she told the Sun-Times. "And I don’t think anybody should have shame about it ... I feel so much better. It has been a highly positive experience for me I would highly recommend it.”

Lewis, a vocal critic of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, recently started to raise campaign money to potentially challenge Emanuel in February's mayoral election.

Her health issue, whatever it may be, could factor into Lewis' decision on whether or not she wants to make a play for Emanuel's Fifth Floor throne. Second Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti, a fellow progressive and Emanuel nemesis, recently announced his candidacy.

In a statement Monday, Fioretti's campaign said: "Our thoughts are with Karen and her family and we wish her a speedy recovery. Karen is a valuable voice in the debate about our city’s future and we look forward to hearing from her soon."