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Campaign Season Begins Again In Chicagoposted November 21st, 2014
Chicago’s mayoral election is just over three months away. And incumbent mayor Rahm Emanuel isn’t wasting any time. Emanuel filed his paperwork to get on the ballot and began airing a new campaign commercial this week. McCormick Foundation political scholar Dr. Shawn Healy says as of right now it looks like Emanuel won’t have much competition in his re-election bid. But Healy tells WDCB News a lot can happen between now and election day. Chicago alderman Bob Fioretti and Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia have both announced plans to challenge Emanuel. Healy says it’s unlikely another major candidate will enter the race.
Citizen Advocacy Center Concerned About Potential FOIA Changesposted November 20th, 2014
Wednesday, members of the Illinois House voted to override Governor Pat Quinn's veto of legislation that would weaken the state’s Freedom of Information Act. According to the bill's sponsor, state Representative Barbara Currie, the legislation would give municipalities a way to address FOIA requests that are considered to be "harassing”. The Citizen Advocacy Center is a longtime supporter of the state’s current FOIA requirements. The Center’s executive director Maryam Judar tells WDCB News she’s surprised lawmakers have taken this approach. The proposal will now head to the state Senate, where a three-fifths majority is required to override Quinn’s veto.
Pierotti Ready To Step Down From Dysfunctional Boardposted November 20th, 2014
The DuPage Forest Preserve Commission is looking for a new Executive Director, again. The commission hired Arnie Biondo this year and then forced him out in August. Commissioners tried to hire John Lapinski, they voted three different times to give him the job; but Lapinski decided against taking it. Soon-to-be retired Forest Preserve President Dewey Pierotti says the commission has become dysfunctional. He tells WDCB News the decision to approve a re-organization plan this week is an example of the problem. Pierotti says the new Executive Director's charge will be to implement the new organizational plan; but he or she had no input into the structure that will determine success or failure in the job. He says the Forest Preserve Commission hasn’t agreed on when it will begin the Executive Director search, or what is wants in the new leader. Pierotti officially steps down from his position as Forest Preserve President next week, he’s held the post for more than 20 years.
Could Executive Action Spur Immigration Reform?posted November 19th, 2014
Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said President Barack Obama should take executive action as quickly as possible to remake the nation's immigration system. Obama could act as early as this week to protect five million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The move would likely upset Republicans fresh off mid-term election victories. Michele Wucker is an immigration expert for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She tells WDCB News any executive action will be met with some opposition, but a prolonged fight doesn't benefit either side. As far as what changes the President can make through executive action, Obama is not able to grant citizenship or permanent resident green cards on his own, but he can offer temporary protection from deportation along with work authorization.
Municipal Leaders Oppose FD Staffing Billposted November 19th, 2014
Municipal leaders across DuPage County are working to make sure lawmakers know they don’t like a proposal being discussed this week. The State Senate Executive committee is holding a hearing Thursday on legislation that would make fire department staffing levels part of contract language. Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully says there is widespread opposition. He tells WDCB News the mandate’s unnecessary and would reduce local control. Tully says discussions of minimum staffing levels already takes place between Fire Departments and local leaders. He says the fear is that if the matter is part of contract language and is part of a disagreement it will be decided by arbitrators and people who don't have a connection to the local community. The proposal stalled during the spring session, and local leaders hope the General Assembly won’t resurrect it during the veto session. Tully says if it wins legislative approval Fire Chiefs and local leaders won’t be able to make decisions for their department.
Election Impact on U.S. Foreign Policyposted November 18th, 2014
It was two weeks ago today a Republican wave swept across a number of key states helping the GOP take control of the Senate. President Barack Obama now must figure out how to work with a Congress entirely controlled by Republicans for the first time in his presidency. The change in party control will surely have an effect on domestic policy, but what will the impact be on U.S. foreign policy? College of DuPage political science professor Dr. David Goldberg and North Central College political science professor Dr. Bill Muck joined WDCB’s Gary Zidek to discuss thepotential ramifications of this year’s election. Muck says when it comes to foreign affairs, the President is still in the driver’s seat.
Ride Sharing Regulations On Tap For Veto Sessionposted November 18th, 2014
When lawmakers gather in Springfield this week for the Veto Session one of the issues they’ll debate is ride-sharing legislation. Governor Pat Quinn rejected a bill that would have imposed work restrictions on drivers for ride sharing services. Chris Taylor is the General Manager of Uber Chicago. He tells WDCB News the company isn’t opposed to reasonable regulation. Taylor says unfortunately the proposed legislation isn't very reasonable and isn't something Uber agreed to or even had a hand in crafting. He says there should be a better plan for the people of Illinois. The legislation Quinn vetoed would have restricted Uber drivers to working just three days a week. Taylor says it wasn’t about regulating the smart phone based ride-sharing services, but rather a protection for Chicago’s taxi-cab industry. He says the service is attracting more and more users every week. It recently expanded to include a number of collar county communities. While ride-sharing services are popular in larger cities, Uber is now available to people in Oak Park, Naperville, and Wheaton. Taylor says it’s perfectly suited for areas where population is more widespread and on-demand service makes more sense.
Survey Examines LGBT Equalityposted November 17th, 2014
For more than 20 years, Equality Illinois has fought for laws to benefit the state’s lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender community. A new report suggests that effort has put Illinois ahead of most states when it comes to equality issues. The Human Rights Campaign's third annual Municipal Equality Index looked at inclusion at the municipal level. Equality Illinois’ Mitchell Locin says the report assessed equality issues in seven Illinois cities. He tells WDCB News the state fared better than most. Locin says Illinois has a strong anti-bullying policy, very strong anti-discrimination laws, and excellent hate-crimes laws. He says the laws in Illinois have set a good baseline, but more can be done to improve equal treatment of the LGBT community. He says changes at the community level are the first step to making state and national fair treatment policy.
Metra Is Ready For Winter Weatherposted November 17th, 2014
When you drive through the snow, slush accumulates in the wheel wells of your car, that’s a problem for commuter trains as well. Metra is working to be as ready as it can for winter weather, especially in light of the fact that last winter was the worst ever for the service. Metra’s Michael Gillis says last year’s snow fall did directly cause delays. He tells WDCB News the snow build up on the underside of trains leads to problems. Gillis says as train rumble through a switch the snow can fall into the switch and cause it to not work properly. He says it's just like when you come home, pull into your garage, slam your door shut, and all that gunk falls onto your garage floor. Gillis says the only way to clear those problems is to station track workers at the switches with brooms and pick-axes to clear the clogged switches. He says the service is looking for better answers, but sometimes low-tech and manpower are the only answer.
County Committee Coordinating Noise Fightposted November 14th, 2014
Voters in several Cook and DuPage County communities sent a loud message to Chicago and the Federal Aviation Administration last week. They overwhelmingly backed advisory referenda that called for additional noise mitigation and stronger “fly-quiet” restrictions at O’Hare. This week the DuPage County Board’s Ad-Hoc Airport Noise committee held its first public meeting with residents and local leaders. Paul Fichtner chairs the committee. He tells WDCB News the county wants to coordinate the various local efforts. Fichtner says noise groups like the Suburban O'Hare Noise Commission along with the Mayors and City Councils of the affected areas are all involved in the campaign. He says the county wants to see what it can do, possibly in terms of introducing legislation in Springfield or facilitating additional noise monitoring to try to minimize the impact of the airport's reconfigured runways. Fichtner has realistic expectations, but says O’Hare noise has become a bi-partisan issue with DuPage and Cook county municipalities joining forces. The reconfiguration of runways at the airport last fall, made jet-noise an issue in communities that weren’t previously affected.
Friends of the Parks Sues Over Lucas Museumposted November 14th, 2014
Chicago’s Friends of the Parks is taking the city to court over plans to develop a George Lucas museum along the lakefront. The advocacy group filed a federal lawsuit Thursday, it claims the project can’t go forward without legislative approval. Dan Tarlock is a professor of public lands law at Chicago Kent College of Law. He says there are legal arguments for and against building the museum just south of Soldier Field. Tarlock tells WDCB News the case shouldn’t have anything to do with the proposed futuristic design of the building. He says the design probably is an element of the matter, but the ulitmate argument is that there was no need to locate the Lucas museum on the lakefront other than to attract the project to Chicago in the first place. Friends of the Parks claims the museum would interfere with use of the property as open space. But Tarlock says there is precedent that would allow for a private development on public land.