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Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
8:25pm
Thu Oct 23

McKinney, Clout & The Freedom Of The Press: Where Would Illinois Be Headed Under Rauner's Reign?

Former Chicago Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney’s resignation from the paper is fueling players in both the political and media worlds to speculate about not only the future of the Windy City’s oldest news publication, but also what it means for journalism in the state in a greater sense — and what a Rauner-ruled Illinois could look like.

After 19 years at the newspaper, McKinney issued his immediate resignation Wednesday, stating in an open letter that, essentially, he had no choice but to make the “difficult decision due to the disturbing developments I’ve experienced in the last two weeks that cannot be reconciled with this newspaper’s storied commitment to journalism.”

The “disturbing developments” stem from the newspaper’s response to the “multiple tactics” GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s campaign deployed in an attempt to stop the publication of a story co-written by McKinney, Carol Marin and Don Moseley. The article detailed allegations that Rauner threatened a former employee, ex-LeapSource CEO Christine Kirk, as well as her family when it became clear that she planned to sue Rauner and his then-investment firm GTCR. Despite threats from the Republican’s campaign stating they would “go over” the heads of those working on the story, according to McKinney, the piece ran.

And that’s when the Rauner camp reportedly pounced even more viciously, penning an “opposition-research hit piece–rife with errors–about” McKinney’s wife Ann Liston, a Democratic consultant. Although Sun-Times Publisher and Editor Jim Kirk responded to the Rauner camp’s allegations of a conflict of interest, saying the “’assault’ on my integrity ’border[ed] on defamation’ and represented ’a low point in the campaign,’” according to the political reporter, actions were allegedly taken days later to silence and demote him.

Enter Sun-Times Chairman Michael Ferro.

Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
10:26pm
Sun Oct 19

Republicans Crow As Questions Swirl Surrounding Sun-Times' Rauner Endorsement

The Illinois Republican Party and Rauner campaign sent out manic messages to the media and supporters this weekend crowing about the Chicago Sun-Times' endorsement of the Republican gubernatorial candidate as questions swirl about the motivation behind the decision. 

After sitting out of the endorsement game for the last three years, the newspaper switched gears and enthusiastically endorsed Bruce Rauner for governor, announcing their sole endorsement in the upcoming election. The endorsement states that the catalyst behind the about face is due to the race being "simply too important to the future of Illinois for us to stay silent."

"It may well be the most important election in our state’s modern history," reads the endorsement, which was posted online Saturday and published in the Sunday paper.

And although that may very well be true, there is much speculation that the endorsement had little to do with the high stakes of the race and much more to do with Rauner's relationship with the media company and Michael Ferro Jr., chairman of Wrapports LLC, the parent company of Sun-Times Media. Rauner previously owned 10 percent of Wrapports, selling his share to Ferro for $5 million shortly before announcing his gubernatorial run. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:22pm
Thu Oct 16

Report: Sexual Harassment Widespread In The Restaurant Industry

Many restaurant employees face frequent sexual harassment on the job from managers, co-workers and customers. 

That's according to a recent survey and report by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Forward Together, which found that 66 percent of female and more than half of male restaurant employees experienced sexual harassment at some point from a work superior.

The survey of 688 current and former restaurant workers in 39 states also showed that 80 percent of women and 70 percent of men faced sexual harassment at the hands of co-workers. Sexual teasing, inappropriate touching and sexually suggestive gestures are some of the harassment examples cited by workers, who were surveyed May through August of this year.

Among other troubling findings, nearly 80 percent of women and 55 percent of men reported being harassed by restaurant customers while at work.

"Our report finds that sexual harassment is absolutely systemic across the restaurant industry and is experienced by a majority of workers, but the heaviest impact is borne by women, trans people, tipped workers and workers in states that allow employers to pay tipped workers as little as $2.13 an hour," said Eveline Shen, executive director of Forward Together, a social advocacy organization.
 
Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:01pm
Tue Oct 14

Schneider, Preckwinkle Tout Affordable Care Act Benefits; Slam Dold For Anti-Obamacare Voting Record

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL,10) and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle discussed the importance of the Affordable Care Act with Illinoisans who have benefited from the health reform law at a Tuesday roundtable discussion in Des Plaines.

At the small gathering, held at the Frisbie Senior Center, Schneider criticized his Republican opponent, former one-term Congressman Bob Dold, for voting several times while in Congress to repeal or weaken the president's signature health reform law. 

"When my opponent was in Congress, every time the Republicans brought an effort to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act — not some of the times, but every time — he voted with Republicans" to repeal it, said Schneider, who unseated Dold in 2012 and is seeking a second term. "In contrast ... I have not voted for repeal and I will not vote for repeal. We need to move forward."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:48pm
Tue Oct 14

Chicagoans Speak Out Against School Actions Cited In Federal Civil Rights Complaint

U.S. Department of Education officials heard first-hand stories about the impact public school closings and consolidations are having in Chicago at a South Side community meeting held Monday night with parents, students and their supporters.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is currently looking into a complaint filed by education activists alleging "racially discriminatory" school actions and closings in Chicago. Organizers with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) and the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School spearheaded the town hall meeting, held at First Unitarian Church of Chicago in Hyde Park. The discussion was designed to allow education department reps to hear directly from the people affected by the school actions cited in the complaint. The two education department officials were at the meeting strictly to listen.

Quick Hit
by Public News Service
4:18pm
Mon Oct 13

Report Cites ICE Aggression, Cost Of Delaying Immigration Reform

CHICAGO - Stories from immigrant communities in Illinois and around the nation are featured in a new report uncovering questionable practices by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. 

Tania Unzueta with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network authored the report. She says ICE agents are using more aggressive tactics, and detaining people at court buildings, probation programs, and places where there are policies to limit collaboration between ICE and police.

"ICE is getting people with criminal histories while they're in rehabilitation programs after they've been out of jail for 10 or 15 years, people with minor crimes," says Unzueta. "They look good on paper because they have these criminal records, but it doesn't mean that's actually going to make the community safer."
 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:32pm
Mon Oct 13

Chicagoans Push For Ward-Level Ballot Referendums On Elected School Board (VIDEO)

Although a citywide advisory referendum asking Chicagoans whether they support switching to an elected school board has been crowded off the ballot for a third time, education activists have a backup plan.

Parents, teachers and community groups are banding together to place a separate, non-binding question about an elected Chicago Board of Education on the February municipal ballot in each of the city's 50 wards. The coalition, which is unhappy with the policies endorsed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's handpicked school board, officially launched their ward-level referendum drive on Monday.

"While the mayor makes his moves by squashing democracy and disrespecting parents, we will make our moves by knocking on doors and by giving the people [the ability] to do the one thing the mayor's afraid of. We are going to give people the chance to vote for an elected school board," Action Now's Executive Director Katelyn Johnson said at the referendum drive's kick off, held in front of Ronald E. McNair Elementary School in the city's Austin neighborhood. (Back in April, the Chicago Board of Education voted to "turnaround" McNair, which involves firing and replacing all school staffers, to improve its academic performance.)

Quick Hit
by
3:37pm
Wed Oct 8

Guest Post: Hundreds Of Chicago Seniors, Working Families Stage Political Theater Highlighting Barriers To Prosperity

The following is from the Jane Addams Senior Caucus.

Over three hundred senior citizens, their allies and aldermen gathered at Daley Plaza Tuesday to dramatically protest the housing and economic policies supported by Mayor Emanuel, which are having disastrous impact on struggling families and seniors.  

The message chanted at the Rally was “What do we want? $15 Now! What do we want? CHA Housing Justice!”  

Shatara Uhunmwangho, leader of Chicago Housing Initiative who is homeless said, “I made the decision to participate in the political theater and rally because I am a mother, I am a worker and I am on the waiting list for the Chicago Housing Authority. Affordable housing is an issue for my family.  My daughter and I need a stable and affordable place to live. This year, the city council has the opportunity to vote on two important issues that would transform the lives of thousands and thousands of families – the Keeping the Promise Ordinance and $15 Minimum Wage for Chicago Ordinance.”   

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:17pm
Tue Oct 7

Workers' Rights Advocates Call For Paid Sick Leave As Chicago Aldermen Move Forward On Ballot Referendum

Chicago voters might have an opportunity during the February municipal election to weigh in on a non-binding ballot referendum about paid sick leave for workers in the city.

The council's Rules Committee passed a resolution at its Tuesday meeting calling for an advisory ballot question on whether employers in Chicago should be required to provide their employees with paid leave in the event of an "illness or public health emergency." The full council could consider the proposal at its meeting this Wednesday. 

Chicago Ald. Joe Moore (49th), one of the sponsors of the referendum resolution, discussed the measure at a forum on paid sick leave and other pro-worker initiatives held this morning at Roosevelt University.

"It's a great organizing tool for those who support paid sick leave," Moore said of the pending citywide referendum, also sponsored by Alds. Joe Moreno (1st) and Will Burns (4th). Moore said he is confident the measure will pass through the full council tomorrow.

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