Entries in Chicago (53)


Chicago Pension Funds to Divest Gun Makers

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Monday that he would ask the city pension funds to divest any investments in companies that manufacture guns and will “lead a charge” among all mayors to tackle the issue.

“I’ve ordered all the Chicago pension funds to check any of their investments, and if they have it, we’re going to divest of any investments they have in any gun manufacturer,” Emanuel said at the Center for American Progress Monday morning.  “I’m going to lead a charge also among mayors, all mayors to head that effort.”

Chicago Comptroller Amer Ahmad will review the five major pension funds, which contain more than $13.5 billion in assets, to determine if there are any connections to gun manufacturers, the mayor’s office said in a statement.

Emanuel, who was joined by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task force, called for a comprehensive approach to gun control, and suggested that the initiatives should begin in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

“Start in the Senate, that’s where  you’re going to get your best leverage and then clear your decks and have the entire focus for a period of time on the House and I think…put the burner up,” Emanuel said.

While the White House has not announced a timetable to release its detailed plan on potential gun legislation, Emanuel suggested he would embrace the president’s package as early as Tuesday.

“I’m going to be… supporting the president’s entire package tomorrow,” Emanuel said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Chicago Election Watch Planned for President Obama

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- President Obama, his family and his campaign staff will watch the election returns in his hometown of Chicago Nov. 6, and the election watch gathering is expected to be held in the lakefront convention center, McCormick Place, according to people familiar with the campaign’s planning.

The formal arrangements with the convention center have not been inked.

This is the lakefront site where Chicago hosted the NATO summit earlier this year, and it is a quick commute to the president’s home in Hyde Park/Kenwood on Chicago’s South Side.

Campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters earlier this month that the president had no intention of trying to repeat the outdoor spectacle in Grant Park where the Obamas celebrated his election in 2008.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama's Education Policies on Test in Chicago

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The teacher's strike in Chicago has the potential to become a big GOP talking point on the campaign trail if it continues to drag on.

Why?  The obvious reason is the close connection Obama has with Chicago.  The windy city is where his campaign is headquartered, and the mayor at odds with the teachers union is Obama's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

But there's another reason as well; the strike highlights a long simmering riff between the Obama administration's policies with regards to education, and one of the Democrats' biggest support groups -- the unions.

At the heart of the teacher's strike -- the first in Chicago in 25 years -- are several issues that have become hot-button topics in the world of education in recent years.

First and foremost, there is an argument about a new teachers evaluation system, which would make student's standardized test scores a big part of teacher evaluations.  Higher test scores for their class equals a better evaluation for the teacher.  The Chicago Teachers Union argues that this system is not a good way to measure a teacher's performance.

"This is no way to measure the effectiveness of an educator," the Chicago Teachers Union wrote in a press release on Sunday.  "Further there are too many factors beyond our control which impact how well some students perform on standardized tests such as poverty, exposure to violence, homelessness, hunger and other social issues beyond our control."

Emanuel has argued that the evaluation system was designed by teachers, saying, "The evaluation is designed by our teachers, for our teachers, and will be revised by our teachers."

Then, there are the arguments about job security, and benefits. On job security, the teachers union is pushing for a system to re-hire teachers who have previously been laid-off because of school closings when new jobs become available.  

On salary and benefits, the school district has offered a 16 percent raise over four years.  Chicago Teachers' Union president Karen Lewis has said that the CTU and the Chicago Public School's board are "not far apart on compensation" --  but there is still a debate over benefits.

The other lingering issue is an argument over a longer school day.  Emanuel has been pushing for a longer school day since before he was elected mayor, and several weeks before the strike the union and the Chicago Public Schools reached an agreement to hire upwards of 500 new teachers to accommodate the longer day without making teacher's work for longer hours. However, there is still anger between the two sides about the issue, and how it was handled.

Although the nation's largest education unions -- the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association -- have both endorsed Obama, his administration has not always seen eye to eye with the unions in this area.

The most talked-about part of the Obama administration's education policy is the Race to the Top program, a grant program funded by money from the stimulus which rewards states that are reforming their education systems.  Grants are awarded based on a series of criteria, including factoring standardized test scores into teacher evaluations.

Obama has also supported the expansion of charter schools, another policy point where he's differed from the teachers unions, as charter schools tend to hire non-union teachers.

The Obama administration has so far stayed silent on the story, but their silence has a political shelf life, and if the strike does continue, at a certain point, Obama will likely have to address the situation.  Until then, expect his Republican opponents to drop the strike into conversation with some frequency.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Calls on Obama to ‘Stand Up’ for Chicago Kids in Light of Teacher Strike

Saul Loeb/AFP/J.D. Pooley/GettyImages(LAKE FOREST, Ill.) -- Mitt Romney Monday night called on President Obama to take a stand on the Chicago Teacher’s Union strike, which is about to enter its second day in which 400,000 students will be shut out of classes. The candidate took a break from a high-dollar fundraiser to criticize the president.

“Well, I think the president ought to stand up and say we that we ought to put the kids first in this country and the teacher’s union goes behind,” Romney said during a radio interview Monday night. “Look I think we’ve gotta help the kids, help their parents, help the teachers, but the teacher’s union is opposed to many of the reforms in education that we know are critical to the success of our kids.”

Obama did not make a public statement or issue a statement on the strike Monday, but White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters during a briefing that Obama had “not expressed any opinion or made any assessment” about the strike and that the White House believes that the entities involved in the dispute “can and should work it out.”

“I haven’t had that discussion with either [Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan or the president,” Carney said. “I think that we believe that both sides ought to -- and we hope they do -- resolve this in a way that recognizes that it is the interest of Chicago’s children that must be preeminent as they work it out. But I don’t have any predictions for where it’s going to go. We just simply hope that it gets resolved.

“I can tell you that this president has pursued an education policy that has been a notable success, and a notable bipartisan success, under the president’s and Secretary Duncan’s leadership,” Carney said. “And he’ll continue to do that because he believes, as he says frequently, that investing in education now pays enormous economic dividends later. It is integral to our economic future, and that’s why he’s made it such an important part of his domestic policy agenda.”

But Monday night Romney used the opportunity to tout his own talking points on education, saying that the standards for students have to be raised in the United States and called on teachers to face evaluations that would reward them “for doing an excellent job” and would “make sure teachers are also given an opportunity to be evaluated based upon the capabilities of their students.”

“Look, we know what it takes to fix our schools and this strike in Chicago is a setting where I think you need to stand up and say look, I’m with the kids and I’m with their parents and I’m not with the teacher union,” said Romney, who has been a fierce critic of teacher’s unions, in May dubbing the group “the clearest example of a group that has lost its way.”

Romney did not campaign in Illinois, but opened up the arrival of his charter flight to the local press before heading to a suburban fundraiser that local reports estimate will raise $3 million for Romney’s campaign.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan on Chicago Teachers’ Strike: ‘We Stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’

Win McNamee/Getty Images(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Paul Ryan crossed party lines and voiced support for one of President Obama’s biggest backers Monday, saying, “We stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel” in his fight with Chicago’s teachers, which led the union to call the city’s first teachers’ strike in 25 years.

“If you turned on the TV this morning or sometime today, you probably saw something about the Chicago teacher’s union strike,” Ryan said at fundraiser at the Governor Hotel in Portland, Ore. “I’ve known Rahm Emanuel for years. He’s a former colleague of mine. Rahm and I have not agreed on every issue or on a lot of issues, but Mayor Emanuel is right today in saying that this teacher’s union strike is unnecessary and wrong. We know that Rahm is not going to support our campaign, but on this issue and this day we stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.”

Emanuel is not only the Democratic mayor of the third largest city, he’s also President Obama’s former chief of staff and one of his most visible supporters. Ryan went on to ask the group of about 200 donors where the president stands on the strike.

“We stand with the children and we stand with the families and the parents of Chicago because education reform, that’s a bipartisan issue,” Ryan continued. “This does not have to divide the two parties. And so, we were going to ask, where does President Obama stand? Does he stand with his former Chief of Staff Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with the children and the parents, or does he stand with the union? On issues like this, we need to speak out and be really clear.”

Ryan said in a Romney administration they will “not be ambiguous.”

“We will stand with education reform, we will champion bipartisan education reforms,” Ryan said. “This is a critical linchpin to the future of our country, to our economy, to make sure that our children go to the best possible school, and that education reforms revolve around the parents and the child, not the special interest group.  This is something that’s critical for all of us.”

In Ohio Monday, Romney did not voice his support for the Democratic mayor of the city as Ryan did, but did say that students should have the “skills they need,” which means the end to the strike.

“I want our kids to have the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow and that means put our kids first and put the teachers union behind,” he said.

Ryan’s comments were made off-camera in front of donors who paid between $1,000 and $25,000 to be there, but when asked about the strike before he took off on his campaign plane from Portland to attend more fundraisers in Seattle he declined to repeat the comments.

The candidate instead returned to the front of the plane, away from the cameras, after thanking reporters who had brought doughnuts for those taking the flight.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Eleven Chicago Cops Sue City, Accusing Rahm Emanuel of Discrimination

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is named in a federal lawsuit from 11 of the city’s police officers, alleging that the mayor unlawfully removed them from his security detail when he took office in 2011.

The officers, all of white or Hispanic descent, claim Emanuel, who was elected mayor in 2011, replaced senior members of his security detail with volunteers who contributed to the mayor’s campaign. They also allege that African-American officers with less seniority were given preferential treatment by being kept on Emanuel’s team.

Comments regarding the lawsuit were not granted to ABC News from either the city of Chicago or the mayoral office of Rahm Emanuel.

Jonathan R. Ksiazek and Edward M. Fox, the attorneys representing the 11 officers suing the city told ABC News that the demotion was all political. Though they could not confirm, the attorneys insist, "several of the officers who replaced our clients had connections with Emanuel or volunteered on his campaign.”

The lawsuit contends that security detail transfers violated Chicago’s Shakman decree that prohibits firings, demotions, transfers or other punishment of government employees stemming from political motivation.

“Under Shakman decree,” Fox says, “our clients have protected position. They cannot be fired or demoted for political reasons.”

The plaintiffs are suing the City of Chicago and Brian Thompson, the commander of the security detail who is responsible for demoting the tenured officers.

Ksiazek tells ABC News that Thompson worked as one of two commanders under the previous mayor, Richard Daley. “Shortly after Emanuel was sworn in, he made Thompson full commander of the security specialist unit 542 and the other guy was demoted.”

The attorney’s suggest that Thompson mustered up “Emanuel’s favor in some fashion in order to maintain his job.”

Though Ksiazek and Fox would not give details, they suggested, "Cmdr. Thompson made a comment prior to demotion of their clients," and they insinuate that the comment could have been skewed as a racial jab furthering the plaintiff’s claim that the demotions could have been racially motivated.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Mayor Richard Daley, Rahm Emanuel’s predecessor, who served as mayor from 1989 until 2011, interviewed the 11 officers for promotions to security specialist before they were assigned to the security detail. Those suing Emanuel expected that their promotions would stick once Daley left office; however, that was not necessarily the case.

During Emanuel’s transition into the mayoral seat, the 11 promoted officers who were transferred out of their positions were replaced by officers who were reportedly not required to follow the same formal application process that they had to undergo in order to receive their respective ranks.

“Our clients had to go through a series of interviews and a normal application process,” say the attorneys.

“From our understanding, the members that Emanuel replaced for the security detail did not have any formal application process.”

Those involved in the suit claim that the transfers from the mayor’s security detail resulted in a demotion of title as well as a reduction of pay and benefits. In response, the plaintiffs are seeking unspecified monetary damages and reversal of the job transfers.

All, except for one retired officer, want their jobs back, according to Fox. He explains that if city officials aren’t willing to give them their titles back, the officers are at least entitled to the pay that they received before being taken off the mayor’s security detail. “They want the job that they are entitled to.” Fox continues, “They are good jobs and they are the jobs that they wanted, there is no reason why they shouldn’t have them.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama: 'This Is Not Going to Be a Race Like Usain Bolt'

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(CHICAGO) -- As the 2012 Olympic flame was extinguished in London Sunday night, President Obama exhorted a group of loyal supporters huddled in the front yard of his Chicago home to adopt the Olympic spirit and sprint to the finish in this highly competitive presidential race.

“I just want to remind you this is not going to be a race like Usain Bolt where we’re like 40 yards ahead and we can just start jogging 10 feet before the finish line,” Obama said of the Jamaican gold medalist known as the fastest man in the world.  “We’re going to have to run through the tape.”

The president was playing host to 100 donors to his re-election campaign who paid $40,000 apiece to attend.  The event, his third of five fundraisers scheduled for Sunday, was expected to raise more than $4 million for the campaign, according to Democratic officials.

Obama exuded confidence in his chance of winning in November, but seemed eager to encourage his fans not to become complacent.

“Every election, presidents or candidates will say, ‘This is the most important election of my lifetime,’” he said.  “This is the most important election of my lifetime,” he deadpanned to applause from the crowd.

It is “more important than 2008 in a lot of ways” because back then “there was a sense that although we were entering into” an economic crisis and “there did still seem to be some overlap between the parties in terms of the things we needed to get done to ensure opportunity for the next generation,” the president said.

Obama said that with the entry of Rep. Paul Ryan into the race the contrast between visions for the future -- and what’s at stake -- has become even clearer.

“We can only win it because of you, because of the enormous support and effort and sacrifice that all of you have been willing to make,” he said.

Shortly after wrapping up his remarks, the president walked down the the block from his private residence to a fourth fundraiser of the day at a neighboring home.

Obama's five re-election fundraisers in Chicago Sunday were expected to raise at least $6.4 million combined for the 2012 race, according to estimates provided by the Obama campaign.

Obama has spent a record-smashing amount of time fundraising as an incumbent, attending more than 200 events in his first term.  President George W. Bush had attended just 88 fundraisers at this point in his first term.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Family Returns to Chicago for Weekend

(CHICAGO) -- President Barack Obama and his family have returned to their hometown this weekend, reportedly as guests of honor at the wedding of Laura Jarrett, daughter of White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

While the press is not allowed near the event, its guest list is speculated to be very top-heavy. The Chicago Sun-Times reports Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk are invitees, as well as a number of the Obama family’s closest friends from the city.

The interconnections extend to the newlyweds themselves.

Laura Jarrett and her betrothed, Tony Balikissoon are graduates of Harvard Law, the alma mater of both the president and first lady. Balikissoon is an associate at the same law firm that once employed Michelle Obama, Sydney-Austin. Valerie Jarrett would later woo Mrs. Obama away from their payroll to work on the reelection campaign of then-Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

The bride has previously clerked for a U.S. District Court judge, and is currently an associate at another Chicago law firm. Meanwhile she has posed in Vanity Fair magazine and was listed as among Vogue’s best-dressed of 2008.

The president, first lady, and daughters arrived in the city Friday evening and immediately proceeded to the home of Martin Nesbitt, a personal friend and resident of the neighborhood.

In the downtime between get-togethers, they are making the rare move of staying in their actual house in the Kenwood neighborhood. Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, is also along for the trip.

Obama has not spent much time here since taking office, but in recent months there has been an uptick in his travel home. In May, Obama attended a NATO summit in the windy city and earlier this month he spent a night in his home after addressing a fundraiser for his reelection campaign.

Security is extremely tight in Kenwood. Chicago’s ABC affiliate WLS-TV reports a hundred or more police could be deployed in a roughly six-block area, according to the station’s law enforcement sources. This is, of course, not including an unknown number of Secret Service for the detail.

However, in a city with a recent uptick in violent crime the president of the local Fraternal Order of Police chapter says he is concerned the increased police presence in Kenwood will mean less law enforcement elsewhere.

“You’re thinning out the neighborhood beat car in order to bring them somewhere else,” Mike Shields tells WLS, “because there’s nowhere else to take police officers from.”

The Chicago Police Department tells ABC News there were eight shootings and one homicide in town last night. But in a separate written statement, the CPD assures “appropriate resources” have been deployed for the safety of all city residents.

A few residents have left for the weekend, but despite the occasional inconvenience most neighborhood inhabitants take their mostly-absent neighbor as a point of pride. On Friday, traveling press in the area spotted a Chevy Camaro parked in one driveway, adorned with a sign:

“Thank you for saving GM,” it reads, a reference to the president’s decision to bailout troubled American auto manufacturers from bankruptcy in 2009.

This will be the longest stretch that the family has spent in their home since winter 2009. They will remain here through tomorrow – Father’s Day – before the president travels solo to a G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico that evening.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Walks His Chicago Neighborhood

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — President Obama went out for a four-block stroll through his Hyde Park neighborhood Saturday morning after spending his first night at home in over a year.

The president, dressed in tan slacks and a white, open-collared shirt with sleeves rolled up, walked down South Woodlawn Avenue alongside senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, both clearly enjoying the sunny and seasonable weather, according to pool reporters on scene.  A Secret Service agent followed closely behind.

“Nice day, huh?” Obama called out to members of the press who were positioned to observe the stroll.

“Did you guys spend some money in Chicago!? Did you stay up too late?” he asked.

One reporter asked Obama whether he had cooked breakfast for himself at home this morning, something he had hinted he would do during remarks Friday night.  “No, I woke up too late,” the president replied with a smile.

Obama and Jarrett ended at the home of Chicago businessman Martin Nesbitt, a close personal friend of the Obamas.  They spent about an hour inside before departing for O’Hare International Airport to return to Washington.

The president then heads to Camp David where he will spend Saturday night.

Obama last stayed overnight inside his private home in April 2011 during a visit to Chicago for campaign fundraisers.  The visit to Chicago Friday was for a similar purpose: three money events estimated to raise more than $4.9 million combined for Obama and Democrats in 2012.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Returns to Chicago Home, Asks Donors for Four More Years

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(CHICAGO) -- President Obama is back in his adopted hometown Friday night for three campaign fundraisers and an overnight stay (sans family) in his private home on the city’s South Side.

“It’s good to be back home. I’m sleeping in my bed tonight. I’m going to go to my kitchen and might cook something. Putter in my backyard,” Obama joked before a crowd of 350 donors at the Chicago Cultural Center. “The White House is nice, but I’m just leasing.”

Obama said he wants to extend that lease for another four years, and argued that voters in November will need to weigh a stark choice before giving him the opportunity.

“The choice in this election will be between a vision that didn’t work in 2000-2008. Didn’t work before the Great Depression. The Gilded Age. We’ve seen this philosophy before. But usually we’ve come to our senses. We see that’s not how democracy is built.”

“That’s the vision we’re going to have to confront and address in this election,” he said. “The good news is when you cut through the noise and just ask people, most people agree with us.”

Obama acknowledged, as he did earlier in the day, that Friday’s jobs report left much to be desired, attributing the lackluster numbers to the European debt crisis.

“We saw that in today’s job report. A lot of that is attributed to Europe, the cloud coming over the Atlantic. The world economy has been weakened by it, but beyond that we still know too many friends, family out of work. Too many people struggling to pay bills,” he said.

Of his opponent, former Massachusetts Republican governor Mitt Romney, the president said his strategy is to “surf folks’ frustrations all the way to the White House.”

“This is going to be a close race. The reason it’s going to be a close race is because we’ve gone through a tough four years … and folks feel worn out,” he said. “And if you don’t have a job, you don’t care that 4 million jobs have been created. You’re still waiting for yours."

“Frankly, it makes it easier for the other guys,” he added. “All they have to say is, ‘You know what? You’re frustrated that things aren’t where they need to be and it’s Obama’s fault.’”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former Obama White House chief of staff, introduced the president, saying, “Obama comes out here and the sun comes out. Obama has the courage, confidence, character to get this economy moving again."

He noted that Obama “has the economy growing, where it was actually shrinking” when he took office. “The voices of the middle class, that’s what we need in the Oval Office,” Emanuel said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio