<![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 Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:25:09 -0500 Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:25:09 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Mayor Assembles Task Force for George Lucas Museum]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:41:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/george-lucas-r2d2.jpg

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has created a task force of community leaders to decide on a potential location for George Lucas' arts museum.

The 12-member team is tasked with determining a location that is easy to get to and large enough to host a museum comparable to the city's other major cultural institutions. In addition, the site must not require taxpayer dollars to pay for it.

The task force will accept public input before making recommendations by mid-May. The chosen location will compete against proposed locations in other cities, including San Francisco, where Lucas spent most of his life.

Members of the task force include community and cultural leaders, local development practitioners and urban planners, including:

  • Ted Beattie, president and CEO of the Shedd Aquarium
  • Lee Bey, special projects manager at the University of Chicago
  • Gia Biagi, chief of staff at the Chicago Park District
  • Michelle Boone, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
  • Gillian Darlow, chief executive officer of the Polk Bros. Foundation
  • Nilda Esparza, director of youth and cultural programming at Latinos Progresando
  • Jeanne Gang, founder and principal of Studio Gang Architects
  • Walter Massey, president of the School of the Art Institute
  • Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor
  • Mary Ann Smith, former alderman of the 48th ward
  • Jackie Samuel, director of the New Communities Program at Claretian Associates
  • Kurt Summers, senior vice president of Grosvenor Capital Management

Star Wars creator George Lucas wants to create the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum to display his collection of Norman Rockwell paintings and Star Wars memorabilia. Lucas had his eye on Chicago to host the museum after discussions with leaders in San Francisco fell through.

The museum would feature an exhibit with props, costumes and designs from Lucas' films. Other exhibits would feature digital art and pieces from Lucas's private art collection, which includes modern masterpieces created by the likes of Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and N.C. Wyeth.

Lucas would pay the $300 million price tag for this museum out of his own pocket and would endow another $400 million to keep it running.

Lucas, 69, already has ties to Chicago. He and his wife, Mellody Hobson, in February donated $25 million to the University of Chicago. Hobson is the president of the Chicago firm Ariel Investments. The filmmaker last year donated another $25 million to After School Matters, the charity created by former Chicago first lady Maggie Daley.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Emanuel Urges State to Pitch in $100M for Obama Library]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:15:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rahm+obama.jpg

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is urging Illinois lawmakers to devote $100 million in state funds to help bring President Barack Obama's presidential museum and library to the city.

Emanuel spoke Thursday before the Illinois House's Executive Committee.
He says the money would make Chicago's bid for the library more competitive and that the investment would return dividends "well beyond" $100 million.
Emanuel also says the funding would be a fitting way to welcome Obama back to his hometown after his term is up.
Several sites — most on Chicago's South Side — want to become home to the library and museum. Hawaii and New York also are vying for it.
The $100 million for construction costs would be part of a new capital construction plan, which the Legislature must approve.


Photo Credit: flickr.com//whitehouse]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Casino Plan Draws Support at Hearing]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 05:23:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/%5BNECN%5DCasino.jpg

A proposal for a state-owned Chicago casino won praise Wednesday from business groups and a warmer reception from a state regulatory board than past attempts to expand gambling, but the plan also drew criticism from downstate officials and the horse racing industry who said it would cheat them out of needed revenues and jobs.

The hearing in Chicago, which wasn't heated like public exchanges in other parts of Illinois, was the latest attempt to bolster gambling, but questions were also raised about support for the legislation in an election year where other major fiscal issues are pending. Previous bills approved by legislators were twice rejected by Gov. Pat Quinn largely over ethical concerns about corruption, and last year's bill calling for five casinos fizzled out after the Illinois Gaming Board scrutinized plans that would have allowed Chicago to have authority over a casino.

State Rep. Bob Rita, a Blue Island Democrat sponsoring the plans, said he wanted to gauge interest in a Chicago-only plan and give lawmakers options. Two proposals are on the table: One adds five casinos, including in Chicago, plus slots at racetracks. The other calls for a mega-casino in Chicago. In both plans, the Chicago casino would be state run, which Rita said was in response to past criticism.

Though neither Quinn nor Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have weighed in recently, the board that regulates Illinois' 10 existing casinos highlighted the changes.
"There are certainly improvements," gaming board attorney Caleb Melamed told lawmakers. "This is a significantly different piece of legislation than previous years."
He voiced other concerns about the potential of saturating the market with other Chicago area casinos. He also questioned a state-run casino, a model that's unusual among other states. The Chicago Crime Commission objected to the structure, calling for an operator-owned model like other casinos and more protections against corruption. Chicago area pastors and anti-gambling groups also warned lawmakers of possible social costs on either plan, such as more people hooked on gambling.
"Casino gambling is really nothing more than an increased tax on those who can't afford it," said Matt Fitzgerald, senior pastor at St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago.
Noticeably absent from Wednesday's hearing were Chicago city officials, even while chamber of commerce groups said a downtown Chicago casino — in either plan — would create jobs and benefit the economy with estimated revenues between $450 million to $950 million. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and urban planners envisioned a Chicago casino as a draw for tourists and locals, with shopping and live shows. They said possible locations included the Congress Plaza Hotel, the top floors of a downtown Macy's department store or the James R. Thompson Center, which a state building.
"Chicago is an incredible prize for the gaming industry," said Kim Goluska, president of Chicago Consultants Studio Inc. "The revenues are going to be huge no matter what they are."
Still, Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said the mayor wouldn't address expanded gambling until the city solved its pension problem. State lawmakers have approved a partial fix to Chicago's pension problem, but Quinn hasn't indicated if he'll sign it. Quinn's spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said the Chicago Democrat hadn't seen the two gambling expansion plans.
Rita said he hadn't spoken to either Quinn or Emanuel about the proposals, but wanted to call his legislation for a vote before the end of May. He's said that the political climate in Springfield could be more favorable than last year when lawmakers were considering plans to address the pension system, which is the worst-funded in the nation. Quinn has since signed a pension law. Lawmakers are also looking for additional revenue sources in this election year as the temporary income tax increase rolls back next year and creates the potential for major budget cuts.
One of his current plans calls for a Chicago casino with up to 10,000 terminals that'll share revenues; Half would go to Chicago and the other half statewide for education and capital construction spending. The other plan would call for a 4,000 to 6,000-spot Chicago casino and smaller, 1,200-position ones in a suburb south of Chicago and the counties of Lake, Winnebago and Vermilion. It would also allow for slot machines at most horse racetracks. The second plan would also allow for revenue sharing.
The idea to separate out the Chicago casino has already drawn opposition from the Illinois' horse racing industry and mayors elsewhere, particularly in economically-depressed areas. They've argued for job creation with the five-casino proposal. The Illinois Casino Gaming Association, which represents most of the state's casinos, said it opposed both plans citing revenue drops over the years and market saturation.
<![CDATA[Chicago Congressman Heads to Ukraine]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:20:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/219*120/Mike-Quigley2-30307.jpg

Congressman Mike Quigley is headed to the chaos of Ukraine. The North Side congressman will be part of a delegation that leaves in the next few days.

Quigley's district is home to a large number of Ukrainian-Americans.

“It’s always been the role of the U.S to help,” Quigley said during an interview on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight that will air at 7 p.m.

Quigley said it is in the interest of the United States to become involved because the United Nations is stymied.

He cited economic sanctions employed by the U.S. against Russia in an attempt to make the government of Vladimir Putin cease further aggression into Ukraine. 

“I think the sanctions are starting to work,” Quigley said, “I think we let sanctions work as much as possible.”

Calling Putin an opportunist who will go as far as he can, Quigley said, “I think he’s [Putin] beginning to understand conflict is bad for business.”

However, critics of the Obama administration argue that harsh rhetoric and even sanctions will not alter Russia's course.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Quinn Leads Rauner in Campaign Cash]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:04:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Quinn_Rauner_4_11.jpg

Get ready for a pricey Illinois governor's race.

Gov. Pat Quinn's campaign fund is flush with nearly $8.8 million, Crain's Chicago Business reports. While his Republican opponent, Bruce Rauner, managed to raise about $9 million this year, he spent most of it to win the GOP primary in March.

As of March 31, Crain's reports Rauner's camp has about $1.4 million left, giving Quinn a clear edge in money.

Money drove Rauner's political identity early on, and his primary election challengers took notice, criticizing his cash and connections. This year he managed to break a record for personal funding in a campaign for Illinois governor.

Rauner is gaining in other ways. An early Rasmussen Reports poll released Monday showed him grabbing 43 percent of votes from likely Illinois voters, while Quinn took 40 percent and 10 percent were undecided.

Quinn and Rauner met for the first time in the 2014 campaign for Illinois governor last week at a meeting with the Illinois Education Association in Chicago.

Quinn called Rauner "the biggest threat to public education in the state of Illinois." Rauner has called Quinn the worst governor in America.

<![CDATA[Rutherford Asks for Dismissal of Sex Harassment Lawsuit]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 10:19:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Dan_Rutherford_2-10.jpg

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford wants a federal judge to dismiss a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by a former staffer.

The motion filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Chicago seeks to end the lawsuit by Edmund Michalowski, who worked for the former Republican candidate for governor for three years. He left in January and filed the lawsuit just weeks before Rutherford finished last in a four-way GOP primary.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Thursday. Michalowski's lawyer did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Michalowski, who was deputy director of community affairs in Rutherford's office, claims he was denied promised raises and a promotion and was berated for not performing political work. He contends he was sexually harassed by unwanted touching and comments from Rutherford on several occasions, including a night in April 2011 at Rutherford's home when Michalowski claims the treasurer "grabbed at" his genitals.

The motion to dismiss, filed by private lawyers acting as special assistant attorneys general, says Michalowski's free speech rights were not violated because he doesn't allege he complained about the work, only that he was criticized for not doing it well.

It contends that Michalowski has not shown that Rutherford had a reason to discriminate against him because of his gender, that he was treated differently than other employees, or any pattern of discrimination in the one-term treasurer's office.

And it says that Michalowski was not subject to a hostile work environment because if the alleged harassment occurred, the incidents were fairly isolated and not sufficient to support the claim.

Finally, it claims Rutherford should be covered by limited immunity afforded government officials when "the unlawfulness of an official's conduct is not clearly established."

Rutherford alerted the media to a brewing firestorm in late January without disclosing the substance of the allegations and suggested rival candidate Bruce Rauner was behind it, a claim Rauner denies.

Rauner went on to win the GOP nomination for governor.

<![CDATA[Congressional Report Presses for E-Cigarette Rules]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:05:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/E-Cig-I-Team.jpg

A new congressional report says concerns about electronic cigarettes underscore the need to regulate the fast-growing industry.

The report released Monday highlights several issues including an array of flavors and marketing that could appeal to young people, the lack of age restrictions and no uniform warning labels.

It was written by the staff of Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, California Rep. Henry Waxman and others.

"From candy flavors to rock concert sponsorships, every single company surveyed in this report has employed a marketing strategy that appears to target youth," said Durbin. "For years, federal regulations prohibiting tobacco companies from targeting young people have helped to protect a new generation of smokers from getting hooked on nicotine. Now, we must close this new gateway to addiction to protect our children."

Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a nicotine solution and create vapor that's inhaled.

A 2009 law gave the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products. The agency first said it planned to assert authority over e-cigarettes in 2011 but has yet to do so.

The proposed FDA regulation was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review in October.

The City of Chicago in January passed a measure treating e-cigarettes like many other tobacco products, limiting how the devices can be sold and where they can be used.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Illinois Senate Approves Ban on Ticket Quotas]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 11:37:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/traffic_ticket_court_report.jpg

A bill preventing the use of police ticket quotas passed in the Illinois Senate Thursday in a 57-1 vote.

The legislation would prevent ticket quotas at any state, county and municipal police departments. It also states that departments would not be allowed to evaluate an officer's performance based on the number of citations they issue.

The bill had the support of 19 sponsors in the Senate, including Sen. Kirk Dillard. The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, however, fought the measures.

"While law enforcement executives strongly agree with eliminating the imposition of arbitrary traffic ticket quotas, the bill would also eliminate vital data-driven performance measures used to assist in the performance appraisal of police officers," John H. Kennedy, the executive director of the association, said in an April 4 statement.

"Under the provisions of this bill, Illinois would stand to lose millions of dollars in federal highway traffic safety funding for DUI saturation patrols, restraint enforcement details and speed reduction campaigns."

The one "no" vote for the legislation came from Sen. Tim Bivins of the 45th District.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Amending State's GPS Monitoring Law Advances]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 12:43:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/anklemonitor.jpg

A bill that would let law enforcement officials use GPS tracking on people with a restraining order passed the Illinois House this week to advance to the Senate.

The proposal would let authorities monitor someone as soon as protective order is issued. Current state law only lets a judge order GPS monitoring after a suspect has violated an order of protection.

The bill was introduced by state Rep. Barbara Wheeler, a Crystal Lake Republican. She said she drafted the measure after the slaying of an Antioch woman who was killed by her ex-boyfriend even though she'd taken out an order of protection against the man.

"By strengthening tracking laws for those charged with violent crimes, we may be able to prevent murders like Diane's in the future," Wheeler said, according to the Daily Herald.

The bill is HB3744.

Photo Credit: Associated Press]]>
<![CDATA[Quinn, Rauner Square Off on Friday]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:12:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/quinn-3-26.jpg

Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican Challenger Bruce Rauner will have their first joint public appearance since becoming opponents on Friday when they appear together at an event for the Illinois Education Association. 

It's not a debate, but the two men have agreed to sit down together and answer questions in front of more than 1,200 teachers about their policy proposals. 

The IEA represents 130,000 Illinois teachers. 

It could be a tough day for both politicians. 

The IEA is among a group of unions that are fighting in court Quinn's pension plan in court. 

They're the same organization that endorsed Rauner's primary opponent Kirk Dillard. 

<![CDATA[Illinois Voters Favor Term Limits]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:11:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/illinois-statehouse-night.jpg

Illinoisans would like to see term limits set for lawmakers in Springfield, according to new polling data released this week.

"If organizers are able to get the measure on the ballot -- and it’s not clear the courts will allow that -- it should be easy for them to win approval," said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute of Southern Illinois University, which conducted the poll.

The poll of 1001 registered voters, conducted Feb. 12 through Feb. 25, asked two questions:

  • "Would you favor or oppose a proposal to limit state legislators to a total of eight years of service, whether in the House of Representatives , the State Senate, or a combination of the two?"

Most respondents -- 61.7 percent -- said they would strongly favor such a move. Another 17.8 percent said they would strongly favor. Just 8.5 percent and 8.6 percent said they would somewhat oppose or strongly oppose a move to institute term limits. Another 3.4 percent of respondents said they didn't know.

  • "Would you favor or oppose a proposal to limit how long state legislators could serve in leadership roles – such as Speaker of the House or President of the Senate – before they stepped down to let other legislators lead?"

On that question, a 65.1 percent of those surveyed said they would strongly favor the move. Another 17.6 percent they would somewhat favor term limits. Against the proposal were 8.3 percent who said they were somewhat opposed and 6.3 percent who said they were strongly opposed. Another 2.7 percent said they didn't know.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, the institute said.

The support for term limits revealed in the latest poll aren't surprising. Similar questions asked in previous polls by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute have had similar results. The institute said the wording of the latest poll reflected a proposal pushed by a group known as Term Limits and Reform, which is backed by Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner.

Rauner wants the questions put to voters on the same November ballot where his name will  appear.

"This is about uniting all voters to transform Springfield, stop that culture of corruption," Rauner said in September after he rolled out the proposal. "If eight years was good enough for George Washington, it should be good enough for the politicians in Springfield."

Rauner's organization said in November it had half the signatures necessary.

<![CDATA[Chicago to Add 20 More Miles of Protected Bike Lanes]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 16:20:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chi-bike-lane.jpg

Chicago cyclists will soon have an extra 20 miles of bike lanes to ride.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday that the Chicago Department of Transportation plans to install the extra miles of buffered and protected bike lanes this spring and summer. An additional 30 miles of bike lanes are in the works for late this year and early next year.

By early 2015, the mayor’s goal of installing 100 miles of protected bike lanes will be achieved as long as this year’s installation plans pan out.

Protected bike lanes are technically only those lanes with physical barriers between cyclists and cars. The 100 miles of protected bike lanes in the mayor's plan, however, include buffered lanes as well. The buffered lanes provide additional space between cars and cyclists, but no physical barrier.

Five miles of barrier-protected bike lanes will be installed on the following streets this spring and summer:

•    Broadway, from Montrose to Foster Avenues
•    Harrison Street, from Desplaines Street to Wabash Avenue
•    Lake Street, from Austin Boulevard to Central Park Avenue

The other 15 miles of lanes to be installed this year will have slightly less protection with buffers instead of barriers. These lanes will be installed on the following streets:

•    California Avenue, from Augusta Boulevard to North Avenue
•    Halsted Street, from 31st to 26th Streets
•    Stony Island Avenue, from 63rd to 56th Streets

With more than 207 miles of bikeways, Chicago has made a name for itself as a bike-friendly city, perhaps to the dismay of regular drivers. In 2012, Bicycling Magazine ranked Chicago as the fifth best U.S. city for cycling.

While there is no official number on the cost of previous bike-lane construction, a spokesman for CDOT said the installation of new bike lanes will piggyback off of street resurfacing projects to minimize the cost.

To further the plan to make Chicago a more bike-friendly city, the mayor and the Chicago Department of Transportation unveiled the popular bike-share program Divvy last summer. The city has also made plans for another Chicago Bike Week this year, which will be held June 13-20.

<![CDATA[IG Audit Finds Chicago Police Underreported Assaults]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 23:46:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chicago+police+car+generic+2.jpg

A new report from Chicago's Inspector General claims "significant" reporting errors led to city police undercounting assault-related crimes in 2012.
In an audit of the Chicago Police Department’s compliance with its reporting infrastructure for crime stats, Inspector General Joe Ferguson found police "failed to count each victim in multiple victim crimes as a separate offense."

In the sample examined by the IG, that discrepancy resulted in a 24 percent undercount in victim offenses. The errors were found in the police department’s reports to the Illinois Uniform Crime Reporting program, which feeds into the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting system.

The police department also "erroneously excluded certain crimes committed against protected persons," the report notes, which led to under-reporting aggravated assaults by 5.7 percent and batteries by 3.2 percent.

“Data analysis is central to CPD’s pursuit of its critical public safety mission,” Ferguson said, noting the "integrity and reliability of crime statistics hinges on" accurate incident reporting from the field and accurately classifying and reporting the information once entered into the system.

In a test of the latter, Ferguson said his office observed some flaws in the data system but noted the system largely accounted for documented assault-related crimes.

Ferguson said the police department agreed with the findings and offered a "robust response" to the report. The department plans to review all aggravated assaults and batteries from 2012 and 2013 to ensure the accuracy of its reports to the reporting system and provide clearer guidance on multi-victim crime reporting in its Field Reporting Manual.

Ferguson called the department's response to the audit "an encouraging sign of an organization seeking to improve."

"We caution, however, that what is reported out is only as reliable as what is fed into the system from the field," he said. "Public confidence in crime statistics therefore also depends on the accuracy of field reporting, which we did not test.”

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[Bishop Upholds Decision to Deny Durbin Holy Communion]]> Sat, 05 Apr 2014 15:10:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/dick+durbin+2014.jpg

Springfield Illinois Bishop Thomas Paprocki has reportedly decided to uphold a decision from Blessed Sacrament Parish denying communion to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin because of his “pro-choice position.”

“Senator Durbin was informed several years ago by his pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish here in Springfield that he was not permitted to receive Holy Communion per canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law,” Bishop Paprocki reportedly wrote in response to a pro-life activist's query, the Illinois Review reported. “My predecessor upheld that decision and it remains in effect. It is my understanding that the senator is complying with that decision here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.”

Canon 915 states that those who have been "obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion."

The response comes after a report that the pastor of the parish, Monsignor Kevin Vann, made a “difficult decision” when he said he would not give Durbin holy communion due to his “pro-choice position.”

The Quincy Journal reports that Vann said he would instead give the senator a blessing.

Durbin began his career as a pro-life congressman and ended up as a senator who voted against banning partial birth abortion.

Durbin has not responded to NBC Chicago’s request for comment.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rauner Ad With Wife Pushes New Bipartisan Platform]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 12:22:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bruce+and+diana+rauner.jpg

Bruce Rauner and his wife want you to believe he's above party politics. 

Now that Rauner has clinched the GOP Nomination for Illinois Governor nomination, he's showing voters that he plans to work with -- or against - both parties, equally. His proof? 

His relationship with his wife Diana, who appeared in a light-hearted television advertisement with her husband.

"I'm pragmatic," Bruce Rauner says, sitting on a couch next to Diana.

"He's cheap," Diana says.

"We don't agree on everything."

"Like politics."

Diana Rauner is a lifelong Democrat, but she says she'll vote for her husband because she knows he will work with both parties.

This marks a shift in Rauner's campaign platform prior to the primary election on March 18. Previously, he campaigned on the slogan to "shake up Springfield" with his business acumen and right-wing opposition to Illinois's Democrats, like current Governor Pat Quinn.

Rauner's new ad doesn't feature the words "shake up Springfield" at all. Nor does he really mention his political ideology, except to say he's a Republican followed by Diana's statement that she's a Democrat.

Even before the primary election, Rauner had some left-leaning views on social issues, which were downplayed during his campaign leading up to the primary election. He is not staunchly against gay marriage, saying it should be left up to the voters. He has also said he supports the woman's right to choose an abortion.

In the ad, Rauner does not single out his Democratic opponent -- or any Illinois Democrats -- but he does retain some of his shake-up spirit.

"(I will) drive the career politicians nuts. I will. I'll drive them nuts," Bruce Rauner says.

"I know, honey. I know," Diana Rauner says.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rahm's Pension Fix Clears Committee, Heads to House]]> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 15:29:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rahm+guns+thumb.jpg

An Illinois House committee has given quick approval to a plan by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to bail out two Chicago pension systems.

The Personnel and Pensions Committee OK'd the proposal sponsored by Speaker Michael Madigan 6-4 on Wednesday. The Chicago Democrat says he will call it for a floor vote Wednesday.

Emanuel announced Monday what he said was an agreement with labor unions to raise property taxes by $250 million over five years to help cut in half a nearly $20 billion shortfall. The deficit in municipal and laborers funds would be cut over 40 years.

"We were going to be getting to the point where we were going to have to pick between making a pension payment or paving a road. Making a pension payment or providing for public safety," Emanuel said at a City Hall meeting Wednesday. "I don’t think those are the right choices, not when you can actually do something about it ahead of time to secure both a pension in a responsible way that the city can afford."

The mayor's fast-tracked plan heads to the full House for consideration, then the Senate.

"Everybody in my view gives something so nobody has to give everything," Emanuel said. "And that's the common ground

Republican Rep. David McSweeney of Barrington Hills says the increase is really $750 million because taxes will go up an additional $50 million each year. He says that is unacceptable.

Illinois' Senate Republican leader says she's advised her caucus to oppose the plan.

Christine Radogno of Lemont told a Senate committee Wednesday that the state is in "continual crisis mode" with spending and revenue. She says she wants to see a long-term plan from the city dealing with its other troubled pension funds.


<![CDATA[Obama Addresses Ft. Hood Shootings From Chicago]]> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 22:24:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP851692001814.jpg

President Barack Obama took time to address the shootings at the Fort Hood Army base shootings during his visit to Chicago Wednesday.

Several people were killed and injured following the shootings.

Obama was meeting with donors at River North's Chicago Cut Restaurant when he learned of the crisis.

"About three-quarters of the way through the meeting the President was handed a message which none of us knew what it was, but he was obviously very focused on it, very serious," Mesirow Financial's Richard Price said.

The guests had turned in their phones before the meeting began, so they had no idea what had unfolded.

"The whole restaurant became immobolized. The atmosphere in the place became very serious, very anchored, nobody was going anywhere," attorney Robert Clifford said.

Obama addressed reporters from the restaurant following the meeting.

"We're following it closely. The situation is fluid right now ... I want to just assure all of us we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened," Obama said. "We're heartbroken something like this might have happened again." (Click here to read full transcript)

Obama was in Chicago for two fundraisers.

Air Force One landed at O'Hare International Airport at 4 p.m. before boarding Marine One for the brief flight to Soldier Field.

From there a motorcade took the president to Chicago Cut for the Democratic National Committee fundraising event. A Democratic official says around 25 supporters attended the roundtable discussion, each contributing up to $32,400.

After the Chicago Cut visit, the President headed to a dinner reception at a private residence in Chicago with approximately 55 people contributing $10,000 each.

The evening DNC event was at the Lincoln Park home of Grace Tsao-Wu and Craig Freedman, two main Obama donors.

The president was scheduled to depart Chicago at about 8:20 p.m. from O'Hare, but he ended up leaving an hour later than anticipated because of the Fort Hood situation.

Obama traveled to his hometown from Michigan where he continued his campaign to raise the minimum wage.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Returns to Chicago Wednesday]]> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 10:51:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/obama119.JPG

President Barack Obama returns to Chicago Wednesday for a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.

Air Force One is expected to land at O'Hare International Airport at 4 p.m. in advance of a 4:45 p.m. event at Chicago Cut Steakhouse and a small dinner at the Lincoln Park home of Grace Tsao-Wu and Craig Freedman, two main Obama donors. 

The Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet Sweet said ticket prices weren't listed in the dinner invitation but she noted the invite did mention photos. "It will be a great opportunity to get a photo with the President and hear him speak in an intimate setting," the invite states, according to Sweet.

The president is scheduled to leave Chicago at 8:20 p.m.

Though it's still not clear whether the Obama family plans to move home after his term ends, the Windy City is still on the president's mind.

Obama recently unveiled plans for a high-tech digital manufacturing hub in Chicago and announced an initiative to help minority boys, including those in Chicago.

Several locations are battling for Obama's presidential library. The University of Chicago, Chicago State University and the Bronzeville neighborhood have all expressed interest in hosting it.

Obama's native Hawaii and his college home, New York, also want to house the library.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[City Pension Deal Increases Property Taxes]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 21:58:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rahm-budget-102313-1.jpg

Homeowners will pay more in property taxes and some city employees will see their retirement benefits cut under a pension reform plan reportedly unveiled Monday evening.

The new deal, reported by the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times and Crain's Chicago Business, aims to cut the city's nearly $20 billion pension debit in half within 40 years. It requires Illinois General Assembly approval.

The plan calls for a property tax increase to the tune of about $50 per year for the next five years for a home valued at about $250,000. City workers would pay 2.5 percent more toward their retirement, up from the current 8.5 percent.

Cost of living increases would also change from the annual 3 percent rate that's compounded every year to an annual 3 percent increase on their original benefit or 50 percent the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Additionally, there would be three years -- 2017, 2019 and 2025 -- that would see no increase in retirement benefits, and employees would need to wait two years instead of one before being eligible for the cost-of-living increases.

In a statement, the We Are One Chicago union coalition said the framework is "an unconstitutional approach that makes onerous cuts to the pension benefits of nearly 50,000 active and retired public servants."

Three of the biggest unions in Chicago are not part of this framework: police, fire and teachers. The police and fire unions stand to get a nearly $600 million increase in their pension payments next year. Emanuel, who faces re-election next year, wants the Illinois General Assembly to delay that increase.

<![CDATA[City Close to Deal With Two City Pension Funds: Report]]> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 11:59:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Rahm-Emanuel50.jpg

City Hall is reportedly close to a deal with the Municipal Employees and Laborers unions to shore up their pension funds.

The Chicago Sun-Times' Fran Spielman, citing unnamed sources, said talks ramped up after Moody's Investors Services earlier this month downgraded Chicago's credit rating from A3 to Baa1.

According to the report, the new agreements are modeled after the deal Mayor Rahm Emanuel worked out last fall with the Chicago Park District. That deal, detailed in a report by The Civic Federation, aims to stabilize the district’s underfunded pension fund and bring the funded ratio to 90 percent funded by 2049.

Talk of a deal has the police and fire unions in a "panic," according to the report. Those unions stand to get a nearly $600 million increase in their pension payments next year. Emanuel wants the Illinois General Assembly to delay that increase because the city would need to either slash city services, raise property taxes substantially or both to meet the obligation.

Emanuel faces re-election next year.


<![CDATA[Rauner Sends Quinnocchio to Governor's Events]]> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 12:53:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Quinnocchio-p1.jpg

Does Illinois Governor Pat Quinn sometimes seem like a Disney character?

Bruce Rauner must think so. 

The GOP candidate for Governor has sent a character named Quinnocchio to Quinn's Thursday press conference at Linne Elementary School. 

Quinn is there to talk about his five-year education plan -- a major theme of his budget address earlier this week

Rauner sent Quinnocchio, an actor made up to look like the character Pinocchio, to mock Quinn about taxes -- another major theme of his budget address. Quinn announced a plan to make permanent what was originally proposed as a temporary, 67-percent income tax increase in 2011.

"If action is not taken to stabilize our revenue code, extreme and radical cuts will be imposed on education and critical public services," Quinn said. "Cuts that will starve our schools and result in mass teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and higher property taxes."

He said rolling back the increase would result in 13,000 teacher layoffs, as well as cuts to childcare,  care for residents with mental illness and layoffs of in-home caretakers and nursing home inspectors.

Rauner's camp says the request to maintain the income tax hike equates to a broken promise and a lie by the governor. Pinocchio had a problem with telling lies. His nose would grow each time he fibbed.
Earlier this month, Quinn tried to compare Rauner to a fictional character when he briefly floated a digital advertisement that included a comparison to The Simpson's rich guy Mr. Burns. That ad was removed for copyright reasons.  




<![CDATA[Emanuel Wants "Complete Report" on Lake Michigan Oil Spill]]> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 11:11:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/oil+spill+lake+michigan.jpg

Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week called for a complete report from BP after a malfunction at the Whiting Refinery in Indiana caused oil to spill into Lake Michigan.

"There was a leak the other day, and they're calling it minor," Emanuel told reporters Wednesday. "I expect a full accounting to the public and the city of Chicago of the damage that was done, how much, what the cleanup efforts were, how comprehensive they have been and what actions the company will take to ensure this doesn't happen again."

BP spokesman Scott Dean said the disruption was discovered around 4:30 p.m. Monday. It resulted in the discharge of crude oil from the refinery's cooling water outfall into the cove between the waste water treatment plant and the steel mill.

In a statement released Wednesday, BP said a "vast majority of oil" that had been visible on the surface of the water and on the shoreline has been recovered and crews continue to monitor the area.

"BP and federal agencies are assessing the shoreline to determine what, if any, next steps are required in the response," the company said.

It's still not clear how much oil was spilled into the lake.

Emanuel said the public deserves to know what happened and how BP plans to prevent another spill.

"This is about making sure our residents have safe water," he said.

Shedd Aquarium's wildlife and water quality experts said they do not believe there will be long-term adverse effects on Lake Michigan wildlife from the spill.

"The late-blooming spring was on our side, with many native fishes still off-shore because of the prolonged ice cover."

In a joint statement, Sens. Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin said they are encouraged to hear the spill is contained but are "extremely concerned" about the possibility of a future spill after BP recently announced a plan to nearly double its processing of heavy crude oil at the refinery.

"We plan to hold BP accountable for this spill and will ask for a thorough report about the cause of this spill, the impact of the Whiting Refinery’s production increase on Lake Michigan, and what steps are being taken to prevent any future spill.”

<![CDATA[Former President Carter Visits Chicago Thursday]]> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 07:05:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Carter_nobelpeace.jpg

Former President Jimmy Carter will visit Chicago Thursday evening to take part in a book signing.

The Democrat will be at the Swedish American Museum in Andersonville beginning at 6 p.m signing copies of his book,"A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power." The book deals with the discrimination and violence women face around the world.

To order a book and purchase a ticket, call 773-769-9299 or order online at WomenAndChildrenFirst.com.

On the tour promoting his latest work, Carter has been discussing hot topics including NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Carter said he would consider pardoning Snowden if he was ever convicted.

In an interview that aired last Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, Carter said he only uses "snail mail" when communicating with other world leaders because he believes the government is spying on him. The NSA denied the allegation.

Despite his fears of electronic communication, he reportedly sent his first text message on Wednesday night. It was a message to his grandson, Jason, a Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia.

Carter served as president from 1977 to 1981. He received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

<![CDATA[CA State Senator Arrested]]> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 18:15:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/03-26-2014-leland-yee-leaves-court.jpg

California state Sen. Leland Yee is facing a slew of corruption charges as part of a massive FBI sting operation that surfaced allegations of firearms trafficking, money laundering, murder-for-hire and drug distribution.

A federal complaint unsealed Wednesday accuses the San Francisco Democrat of engaging in a conspiracy to traffic firearms and accepting campaign donations in exchange for official acts. In one instance, Yee, who has been a strong advocate for gun control during his decade in the state Legislature, warning that such business dealings are "not for the faint of heart," according to the complaint.

He was charged with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license, and to illegally import firearms as well as a scheme to defraud citizens of honest services.

Yee and Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, leader of the Chee Kung Tong Free Masons in San Francisco, were among 26 defendants charged in the federal criminal complaint Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California said. 

The federal criminal complaint, filed on March 24, charges the defendants with firearms trafficking, money laundering, murder-for-hire, drug distribution, trafficking in contraband cigarettes and honest services fraud, the FBI announced. According to the affidavit

If convicted on all charges, Yee could face more than 100 years in prison. His bail was set at $500,000, unsecured, with the provision that he not leave the state. He was released from custody late Wednesday afternoon.

Yee is due back in court on Monday.

Chow's charges include money laundering and conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes.

One of the places the FBI searched Wednesday was at the San Francisco Chinatown office of the Chee Kung Tong at 36 Spofford Street, where Chow, a notorious former Chinatown gangster, conducts business. Chow was arrested during the raid.

Firefighters were seen going inside with a circular saw and later said they had cracked a safe.

According to the complaint, a pattern of alleged racketeering activity emerged as FBI undercover agents infiltrated the CKT through introductions made by Chow and others.

Over the course of the undercover agent's relationship with Chow and other defendants, the complaint shows, the undercover agent informed the group that he was interested in generating income from illegal schemes. He was then inducted into CKT as a "consultant," and allegedly introduced to a number of the defendants in order to launder money, traffic narcotics, firearms and purpotedly stolen cigarettes and liquor and engage in murder-for-hire schemes over the course of multiple undercover operations.

The FBI also arrested Keith Jackson, a well-known political consultant who owns San Francisco-based political consulting firm Jackson Consultancy.

Leland Yee leaves the federal building in San Francisco, Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

State Senator Yee leaves the federal building in San Francisco, Wednesday, March 26, 2014.

Chow also introduced Jackson -- a "consultant" to the CKT -- to the undercover agent. Jackson and his son Brandon Jackson allegedly responded to the undercover agent's request for weapons, selling him various types of firearms and two ballistic vests.

Jackson, Brandon Jackson and another defendant allegedly conspired on a murder for hire scheme at the undercover agent's request.

The complaint also says that Jackson is a close associate of Lee and has been involved in raising campaign funds for him from at least through May 2011 to the present.

Yee, who has served in the state Legislature for more than a decade, was elected to the State Senate in November 2006 and represents District 8, which includes San Francisco and San Mateo County. The former San Francisco supervisor and 2011 mayoral candidate is currently running for secretary of state.

The complaint alleges that starting in 2012 and continuing until now, Yee and Keith Jackson allegedly raised money and campaign funds for Yee's secretary of state campaign by soliciting donations from undercover FBI agents in exchange for multiple official acts.

The compaint also alleges that Yee and Jackson were involved in a conspiracy to traffic firearms.

The complaint details how, starting in May 2011 and continuing for several months, Jackson allegedly asked an undercover FBI agent to make contributions to Yee's San Francisco mayoral campaign. The agent declined to make contributions but introduced Jackson and Yee to a business associate, who was another undercover agent. When Jackson and Yee asked the agent for campaign contributions, it resulted in at least one personal $5,000 donation.

The complaint claims that Yee tried to get rid of a $70,000 debt after losing the November 2011 election by making a call to the California Department of Public Health in support of a contract with the second undercover agent's purported client and writing an official letter of support in exchange for a $10,000 campaign donation.

Yee allegedly made the call on Oct. 18, 2012, and provided the letter around Jan. 13, 2013. Jackson accepted the $10,000 on Nov. 19, 2012.

Yee is known for his efforts to strengthen open records, government transparency and whistleblower protection laws.On his website, Yee promises that if elected as secretary of state, he will be "committed to fair elections and expanding access to our democracy."

He was honored last week by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional journalists for his efforts to uphold the California Public Records Act.

Chow, who ran a Chinese criminal organization and was convicted of gun charges, was released in 2003 after spending 11 years in prison. He has since been praised for his involvement in the community and for trying to turn his life around.

On what appears to be Raymond Chow's Facebook page, Chow displayed a picture of a certificate of honor presented to him by Lee that honored him "for his tenacity and willingness to give back to the community and working 'in the trenches' as a change agent."

Chow also appears to have been tweeting from the Twitter handle @RaymondChow10, using hashtags that included "sunoftheunderworld," "mafia." and "chinatown." His last tweet was on Nov. 17, which shows him at his sister's birthday, enjoying a glass of red wine.

Chow has also posted pictures of him with other notable public figures and local business owners, including former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, and a picture of another certificate of recognition from state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.

Yee's arrest shocked the Chinese-American community, many of whom view him as an important figure in San Francisco politics.

Officers from the California Highway Patrol and Sergeant at Arms were stationed outside Yee's state Capitol office in Sacramento Wednesday morning, where the FBI agents conducted a raid, taking computers and other documents, according to KCRA-TV.

The FBI confirmed to KCRA-TV that it had raided homes and businesses in the Bay Area and Sacramento Wednesday morning, issuing multiple search warrants and making arrests.

State Senator Yee was arrested Wednesday morning on public corruption charges. (Photo: Diane Dwyer)

Yee’s press secretary, Dan Lieberman, declined to comment when contacted by NBC Bay Area. An official statement would be released sometime Wednesday afternoon, he said.

Yee's arrest would make him the third Democratic state senator fighting charges this year.

His arrest comes just one month after prosecutors announced federal bribery and corruption charges filed against state Sen. Ron Calderon.

Prosecutors say the Los Angeles-area Democrat accepted about $100,000 in cash bribes and other perks in exchange for his supporting or opposing bills. Calderon has pleaded not guilty.

Earlier in the year, Democratic Sen. Rod Wright was found guilty of multiple charges that stemmed from accusations he did not actually live in the Southern California district he represents. Wright is appealing the conviction.

Both Wright and Calderon have taken a leave of absence from the state Senate.

Democrat Derek Cressman, who is one of several candidates also running for secretary of state, called Yee's arrest a "wake-up call."

"We are clearly beyond the point of looking at one bad apple and instead looking at a corrupt institution in the California senate," Cressman said in a statement. "The constant begging for campaign cash clearly has a corrosive effect on a person's soul and the only solution is to get big money out of our politics once and for all."

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said that he was shocked and disappointed by the news.

"Leland Yee has been a part of public service for a long time, sorry to see that tainted by these allegations," Lee said.

A man was charged last year for threatening Yee over legislation that he proposed to limit rapid reloading of assault weapons.

Yee is the first Chinese American ever elected to the California State Senate. He emigrated to San Francisco from China at age 3. Yee graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and receieved a master's degree from San Francisco State University. Yee and his wife Maxine have four children.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Quinn Proposes Making Income Tax Increase Permanent]]> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 14:29:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP158506660731+copy.jpg

Illinois' temporary income tax increase, scheduled to roll back next year, should remain in place, Gov. Pat Quinn proposed in his Wednesday budget address.

Quinn signed the unpopular 67 percent increase into law in January 2011 to deal with Illinois' staggering budget crisis. More than three years later, the state continues to fight back mounting debt. The increase -- the largest in state history -- was set to expire in 2015 but will remain.

"If action is not taken to stabilize our revenue code, extreme and radical cuts will be imposed on education and critical public services," Quinn said. "Cuts that will starve our schools and result in mass teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and higher property taxes."

He said rolling back the increase would result in 13,000 teacher layoffs, as well as cuts to childcare,  care for residents with mental illness and layoffs of in-home caretakers and nursing home inspectors.

"We cannot stand by and allow savage cuts to schools and these critical services to unravel the progress we’ve made over the past five years," Quinn said.

In exchange Quinn worked into his budget a $500 property tax refund for homeowners, which he called "the most significant tax relief in state history."

The move helps set the tone for the election year ahead. Quinn's gubernatorial opponent, Bruce Rauner, said making the income tax permanent shows Quinn breaks his promises.

“Pat Quinn first promised the working people of Illinois he wouldn’t raise taxes by 67%," Rauner said in a statement response to Quinn's speech. "He broke that promise, taking away nearly a week's worth of pay for Illinois families. Then he promised his tax hike would be temporary. Today he broke that promise too and is doubling down on his failed policies."

Rauner's camp said Illinois has lost more than 85,000 jobs since Quinn took officer, and the state's jobless rate has gone up more in the past five years than any state in the country.

"We can balance the budget without more tax increases," Rauner said, "if we create a growth economy, and restructure and reform our broken government.”

Quinn said in his speech that when he took office he was tasked with mopping up former governor Rod Blagojevich's fiscal mess. After facing what Quinn calls the "worst pension crisis in America" and a backlog of bills on its way to $9.9 billion, state spending was cut by more than $5.7 billion. The state's Medicaid program was overhauled, 50 state facilities were closed and consolidated.

Pension reform was slowly passed, but there's still more work to be done.

A report released in January
noted the projected $160 billion in savings from pension reform legislation won't be enough to fix the state’s growing deficits, and over the next 25 years, the state's deficit will increase to $13 billion.

Just as he did with pension battle Quinn proposed a "bipartisan working group to develop a new capital spending plan for next five years."

At the end of his speech Quinn said he said elected in 2010 "to be straight with the people of Illinois."

Then without naming him, Quinn took a shot at Rauner.

"Those who are telling you that Illinois can tax less and spend less and still expect to fund education are simply not telling you the truth," he said. "The truth is, Illinois is spending less - billions less - even as demands have grown."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Poll Shows Voter Conflict in Solving State Budget Woes]]> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 13:27:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/190*120/quinn+election+getty.jpg

Results of a poll out this week show Illinois voters are conflicted in how to deal with the state's budget mess.

A majority of respondents said they don't want a temporary income tax hike to become permanent. On the flip side, a majority of respondents said they also don't want to see spending cuts to programs which benefit students, the poor and the disabled.

Results of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll, conducted Feb. 12 through Feb. 25, were released Monday, in advance of Gov. Pat Quinn's address this week to outline his ideas for the state's 2015 budget.

Sixty percent of the 1001 registered voting adults polled said they favor letting the 2011 income tax law expire. That law raised the individual income tax on individuals from 3 to 5 percent and and from 4.8 percent to 7 percent for corporations, expire. Without action from lawmakers, the tax rate will incrementally decrease.

Additionally, voters opposed raising sales tax rates or taxing retirement income to fix deficits, the poll found.

"They support gambling," the release said.

In fact, 53 percent of respondents said gambling would be a good source of new venue. Forty-four percent were opposed to the idea and 4 percent said they weren't sure.

But while voters said they don't want their taxes increased, they don't want to see cuts made to vital government programs, either. Just 18 percent favored cuts to K-12 education; 37 percent supported university cuts; 24 percent favored cuts to public safety; 31 percent favored a reduction in spending to natural resources; 26 percent supported cutting benefits to poor people; and just 15 percent supported cuts to the disabled.

"Republicans and conservatives were more likely to favor cuts to university budgets and state pensions than Democrats and Independents were. Independents were more likely to support and less likely to oppose cuts to Public Safety than either Democrats or Republicans," the Southern Illinois University pollsters said.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kirk Won't Campaign For Oberweis]]> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 07:13:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kirk+arlington+parade.jpg

Illinois' Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says he has no plans to campaign with the GOP state lawmaker hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin in November.

On election night, Kirk said he'd support the GOP nominee. Still, he told reporters Monday he's going to be "protecting his relationship" with Durbin and won't launch "into a partisan jihad."

Durbin is the Senate's No. 2 Democrat.

State Sen. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove won the GOP nomination last week. His family owns ice cream shops. Oberweis says his name recognition will help his U.S. Senate campaign. However, Oberweis has been under fire in the past, including for remarks about immigrants.

Kirk and Durbin have worked together and have had a public friendship, particularly after Kirk suffered a stroke in 2012.

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>