Ronald Ayers

Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Ill. set to be 15th state to allow gay marriage

In Homosexual marriage, Homosexual rights on November 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — With Illinois set to become the 15th state nationwide to legalize same-sex marriage, Chicago couple Theresa Volpe and Mercedes Santos finally began planning the wedding they’d started thinking about more than two decades ago.

“From the moment we met and fell in love, the language was, ‘If I could marry you I would,'” said Volpe, who is expecting the couple’s third child. “We waited a long time for that to happen, to hear … that we can have that. I think it’s really the final stamp on our relationship.”

After months of arduous lobbying in President Barack Obama’s home state, Illinois lawmakers passed a measure Tuesday that would legalize same-sex marriage. Under the legislation, which Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has vowed to sign, couples could start tying the knot in June.

Fourteen other states and Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage.

The road to the Illinois vote was long and included a stalled attempt earlier this year, frustrating activists in a state where Democrats lead the House, Senate and governor’s office. Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg Harris, who is the main sponsor, decided not to bring the bill for a vote in May, saying he didn’t have the support.

Then the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to strike down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which Harris said resonated with lawmakers. Backers also launched a furious campaign, hiring a union lobbyist, the former head of the Illinois Republican Party and field organizers statewide.

“To treat all our citizens equally in the eyes of the law we must change this,” Harris said on the floor. “Families have been kept apart.”

Debate lasted more than two hours, and the final roll call was met with cheers. Supporters’ speeches echoed themes of equality and civil rights, with mentions of Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.

The measure had backing from both of Illinois’ U.S. senators and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It also got a last-minute boost from longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan, who serves as chair of the state’s Democratic Party. The Chicago Democrat said he used the “art of persuasion” to bring on more than five votes in the last week.

Opponents, including some of the most powerful religious leaders in Illinois, have said marriage should remain between a man and a woman. A group of Chicago-area pastors vowed to line up primary challengers against some lawmakers who voted yes.

The bill first cleared the Senate on Valentine’s Day. Backers expressed confidence that the bill would be approved by the House in mid-March. But it took the supporters months to secure votes.

Although Illinois once appeared poised to become the first Midwestern state to approve gay marriage in the Legislature, Minnesota did it sooner and started holding its first same-sex weddings over the summer. Iowa allows gay marriages too, because of a court ruling, not a legislative vote.

For months, the leaders of several black mega-churches lobbied the districts of black House members with an aggressive robocall campaign against gay marriage, placing the Democratic members of the caucus in an uncomfortable spotlight. Many remained undecided until the vote neared.

But for couples such as Volpe and Santos, Tuesday marked the start of a new chapter.

The couple had a civil union ceremony in 2011, when Illinois approved them. But now they hope their wedding will include their new baby.

“Some people didn’t even know what that meant. Some of them didn’t come because they didn’t know — what does that mean?” Volpe said. “When you say ‘We’re going to have a wedding,’ for sure people will come now.”

Source: Associated Press




JJJ Plea Deal Includes “Significant Jail Time:” Report

In Democrats, General News, Political News on February 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm
English: Sandi Jackson and Jesse Jackson

English: Sandi Jackson and Jesse Jackson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A reported plea deal is in the works for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., and it involves “significant jail time.”

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reports the deal offered up by federal prosecutors is being considered by Jackson, who has been under investigation for months because of alleged misuse of campaign funds. Sneed reported in November that Jackson has been active in the probe against him and has told the feds everything he knows.
A source close to the investigation told Sneed this week that “significant” time in a federal prison is definitely part of the deal.
The deal comes after news broke Monday that federal investigators also are taking an independent look at the finances of Jackson’s wife, former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson.
Sandi Jackson was asked by Illinois‘ State Board of Elections to explain a $69,000 discrepancy between her campaign finance reports and those of her husband. The former alderman told NBCChicago in December she blamed the conflict on clerical errors made by transitioning staff members and said amendments to her reports were being made.
Jackson resigned late last year as Illinois’ 2nd District Congressman amid a federal probe and after months away from his political duties as his staff said he battled bipolar depression.
Less than two months later, Sandi Jackson stepped down effective Jan. 15 as alderman for the 7th Ward.
Source: Chicago Suntimes

Romney pulling Illinois voters from Obama

In General News on October 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm

CHICAGO, Oct. 11 (UPI) — CHICAGO, Oct. 11 (UPI) — President Obama has a strong lead in Chicago but rival Mitt Romney has greater support in other parts of Illinois, a post-debate poll indicated.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obama had a whopping 79 percent to 12 percent lead over Romney in Chicago, a Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll found. His advantage narrowed in suburban Cook County, 57 percent to Romney’s 34 percent, and 54 percent to 41 percent in the surrounding counties. In the remaining 96 counties, the GOP presidential aspirant led, 46 percent to 41 percent.

More white voters have been attracted to Romney since February. Then, whites favored Obama 48 percent to 41 percent.

The latest survey, conducted Oct. 4-8, found Romney with 46 percent and Obama with 45 percent. Obama’s support has also slipped among white suburban women.

Eight months ago, they favored the president 63 percent to 30 percent. That support has now fallen to 50 percent, with Romney at 43 percent. Some 95 percent of Illinois African-Americans continue to support Obama, the poll indicated.

The president’s job approval continues virtually unchanged from February at 53 percent statewide, but has dropped among Democrats. Statewide, 51 percent of voters approved of Obama’s handling of the economy and jobs. The survey of 700 voters has an error rate of 3.7 percent.

Source: United Press International

10-part report raises questions about narrative of Obama’s early life

In General News on September 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm


By Ronald Ayers


A newly published report raises questions about some established narratives in the early life of President Obama, suggesting the president’s upbringing was one of privilege and not hardship. 




The Washington Examiner published a 10-part report detailing Obama’s path to the White House. Some of the information appears to conflict with the narratives the Democratic Party has pushed, most recently at the party’s convention in Charlotte.


At the convention, Michelle Obama said they:


“were both raised by families who didn’t have much in the way of money or material possessions.”


Examiner Executive Editor Mark Tapscott questioned that.


“I’m sure he had a difficult childhood given the circumstances with his parents, but from a financial standpoint and social standpoint and so forth , it was not an underprivileged childhood,” Tapscott said.


The Examiner reports that the Indonesian neighborhood, Menteng, where Obama’s mother and step-father raised the young Barry Soetoro was the most exclusive in Jakarta.


Later sent to live with his grandparents in Hawaii where his grandmother was a bank vice president, Obama attended the exclusive Punahoe school. He later went on to Columbia University and Harvard Law School.


In his first job as a Chicago community organizer, Obama rejected more lucrative offers.


But while he worked in the city’s impoverished Southside, he lived in exclusive Hyde Park.


Of his 12 years as a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, Time Magazine said in 2008: “Within a few years he had become a rock star professor with hordes of devoted students.”  But student evaluations obtained by the Examiner tell a different story. In 2003, only a third of students recommended his courses.


“It went steadily down in the last five or six years that he was there. He was among the lowest-ranked professors,” Tapscott said.


Nor did the future president leave any record of scholarly writings, while similarly credentialed colleagues had a prolific presence in law journals.


“He showed up to class, he gave his lectures and he was gone,” Tapscott said.


The Examiner found sharp contrasts between Obama’s memory of his legal work, and the record of it.


In “Dreams From My Father,” he wrote: “In my legal practice, I work mostly with churches and community groups, men and women who quietly built grocery stores and health clinics in the inner city, and housing for the poor.”


But a document filed with the Illinois Secretary of State shows the young lawyer represented some well-heeled clients. In one case, he represented a politically connected preacher and real estate developer, Bishop Arthur Brazier, who had failed to provide heating and running water to 15 apartments in the dead of winter.  Obama’s client had all the tenants forcibly removed from the building, yet paid only a $50 fine under Obama’s legal counsel.


For all of his critics on the right, community organizer Obama left many colleagues on the left disheartened, by allegedly selling out to the Chicago establishment.


The late radical journalist Robert Fitch, who specialized in urban politics, said:


“What we see is that the Chicago core of the Obama Coalition is made of blacks who’ve moved up by moving poor blacks out.”


D’Anna Carter, a neighborhood activist, singled out the president’s closest aid, Valerie Jarrett, for criticism. Jarrett was CEO of Habitat Co., a low-income real estate firm that made millions of dollars in part by leveraging federal programs like the Low Income Housing Tax Creditwith subprime lending to poor people.


Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President B...

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“They were never interested in poor people. They would sell poor people a bill of goods,” Carter said.


Some argue that President Obama won office on his strength as a reformer – he did vow to “fundamentally transform America.” But the Examiner found as a state senator he rejected overtures to reform the Chicago machine.


“He made it pretty clear he wasn’t interested in risk-taking or challenging the Chicago machine’s lock on a lot of mechanics of government in Cook County in Chicago,” said one frustrated former colleague, former state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger.


Mayor Richard J Daley — the last of the big city bosses — built that machine by rewarding allies with patronage positions. Today, Obama’s choice of aides suggests an unbreakable bond to that machine. Closest aide Valerie Jarrett, campaign adviser David Axelrod, and former chiefs of staff Rahm Emanuel and Bill Daley all cut their political teeth in the Daley machine.


Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The legendary Chicago Tribune writer Mike Royko once penned this advice to mayoral candidate Richard M. Daley, the son of the big city boss:


“Reward your friends and punish your enemies.”


It is a phrase the president once used to describe how Latinos should think about elections.


In a 2010 interview, Obama urged Latinos to say:


“We’re gonna punish our enemies and reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”


To that end, The Examiner says 31 Obama campaign bundlers received clean-energy loans and grants totaling more than $16 billion. The auto bailout favored the United Auto Workers — over secured creditors — and eight of the 10 states getting the most contracts from the stimulus program were heavily Democratic.

Source: The Washington Examiner and Fox News



A look at President Barack Obama’s inner circle

In Barak Obama, Political News on July 19, 2012 at 7:02 pm


Barack Obama has made “change” the hallmark of his presidency. For his team of advisers, “continuity” might be a more operable term.

Obama has surrounded himself with a tight-knit group since he first ran for the White House in 2007. This core team is marked by a “No-Drama Obama” credo and strong loyalty to their man’s message and unconventional path.

Many of the advisers who helped Obama chart his first campaign never left, and they’re now playing important roles in the White House and at Obama’s re-election headquarters in Chicago.

They’re battle-tested from the lengthy primary race against Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008, the following campaign against Republican John McCain and then a White House tenure marked by fights over the economic recession, health care and now the drive for a second term.

This is the first time that a modern re-election campaign has not been run out of Washington, placing a premium on a seamless back and forth between Obama’s political advisers in the White House and his Chicago campaign’s upper echelon. Members of Obama’s inner circle meet regularly at the White House to discuss strategy and have thus far avoided major messaging gaps between the two time zones.

“This is a team or a group that has worked together, even since when he ran for the Senate, for a long time. There are benefits to that,” said Karen Finney, a former spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee.

If there’s a knock on Obama’s campaign structure, it’s the lack of an inflow of outside voices. Most of Obama’s team has remained with him throughout his presidency, though Rahm Emanuel left as White House chief of staffin late 2010 to run for Chicago mayor, and Emanuel’s successor, William Daley, the brother of former Chicago mayor Richard Daley, left in January.

English: Springfield, Illinois, USA. Barack Ob...

English: Springfield, Illinois, USA. Barack Obama, his wife Michelle, and daughters. “The Future First Family Waves. Senator Obama’s family was on hand for the announcement, and he invited them on stage to wave to the crowd before he began his speech.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The continuity and cohesion of Obama’s team suggests the president values loyalty and a small inner circle that can give him unfettered advice. The team has allowed Obama’s campaign to focus on efforts to undermine Republican challenger Mitt Romney while laying out an agenda to appeal to Obama’s key voting constituencies — women, minorities, young people and college-educated whites.

A look at some of the president’s chief advisers:


_David Plouffe. Obama’s 2008 campaign manager is helping shape the president’s re-election strategy from the West Wing. The Delaware native returned to Obama’s side after Democrats lost control of the House in the 2010 elections and is arguably the most important person in melding Obama’s policies with politics. Plouffe is in constant contact with Obama and has been at the center of a number of tactical efforts to position him for re-election.


_Jim Messina. As Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, he oversees the president’s operation from Chicago. Plouffe’s former deputy during the 2008 campaign, Messina has likened the re-election headquarters to a Silicon Valley startup company, demanding metrics and results from his aides. Messina has kept close watch over the electoral map, trying to give the president as many paths to victory as possible and not become reliant on winning either Florida or Ohio, a difficulty that hurt Democratic nominee John Kerry’s campaign in 2004.


_David Axelrod. A former political reporter for The Chicago Tribune, Axelrod has known the president since the early 1990s and was a driving force behind Obama’s message of change during the 2008 campaign. A former top adviser to Obama in the White House, Axelrod is a calming influence on the campaign team and has helped focus on middle-class voters.


_Stephanie Cutter. Obama’s deputy campaign manager has become a forceful voice in the campaign. Cutter, a veteran of Kerry’s presidential campaign, has been a blunt defender of Obama’s policies on cable television while criticizing Romney’s business record and tenure as governor of Massachusetts, Cutter’s home state. She drew protests from Romney’s team when she suggested that he either committed a “felony” when he signed Securities and Exchange Commission documents for Bain Capital or lied when he denied working for the private equity firm after 1999.


_Valerie Jarrett. A top adviser in Washington, Jarrett is a longtime friend of the Obamas and has become a trusted aide to the president. At the White House, she has been Obama’s conduit to the business community and an important sounding board for the first couple. In a nod to their friendship, the Obamas attended the wedding of Jarrett’s daughter in Chicago.


_Robert Gibbs was Obama’s top campaign spokesman in 2008 and then became White House press secretary. After leaving the podium in early 2011, Gibbs emerged as one of Obama’s most ardent defenders during the 2012 Republican primaries and on cable television as the general election took shape. Gibbs was with Obama before Obama gained national prominence during the 2004 Democratic National Convention and understands Obama’s message as well as anyone.

Source: Associated Press

Catholic Charities of Chicago lawsuit shows reach of HHS mandate

In Catholic News on July 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago has joined two Catholic dioceses and their charitable affiliates in a lawsuit over the federal contraception mandate, a move that one observer says demonstrates the potential societal impact of the rule. 

The charitable ministry “will lose its identity as Catholic unless the HHS mandate now in force as the recent law of the land is changed,” Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago said in a July 9 statement supporting the charity’s entry into a lawsuit against the federal government. 

Chicago’s Catholic Charities joins the Dioceses of Joliet and Springfield, and their respective Catholic Charities organizations, in challenging the Obama administration’s mandate.

promulated under the federal health care reform law, the rule requires religious employers to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing drugs in employee health plans.  

Catholic Charities cannot obtain an exemption from the rule because it serves Catholics and non-Catholics equally. The mandate exempts only those organizations that primarily employ and serve members of the same faith for the purpose of instilling “religious values.” 

Chicago’s Catholic Charities employs 2,700 staff. During 2011, their efforts provided approximately 2.5 million meals to the needy, over 450,000 nights of shelter to the homeless and displaced, and nearly 900,000 hours of service to the elderly. 

According to Wall Street Journal columnist Bill McGurn, these figures show the real-life impact of the mandate. “In terms of religious liberty, the new lawsuit breaks no new legal ground. What it does is offer a window into how much the decency of daily American life depends on churches using their free-exercise rights,” McGurn wrote in a July 9 column. 

At stake in the lawsuits, Cardinal George said, is the freedom of the Catholic Church and other religious groups to serve the public without violating their principles. 

English: Chicago 2011 Mayor Inauguration Openi...

English: Chicago 2011 Mayor Inauguration Opening Prayer by Cardinal George, Chicago, IL, May 16, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“This is the issue now before a court. It is also the issue before a nation that portrays itself as the ‘land of the free,’” Chicago’s cardinal archbishop observed. 

“I am sorry that the intransigence of the Department of Health and Human Services has made it necessary to defend in court what every American could take for granted until this year,” he said.  

In a July 9 announcement about the lawsuit, Chicago Catholic Charities President and CEO Monsignor Michael Boland said the loss of religious freedom is “the sole matter at hand” in the challenge to the contraception mandate. 

Click to deleteThe priest took issue with the narrow exemption and its criteria, saying the Department of Health and Human Services “fails to understand that there is no distinction between our Catholic faith and our commitment to serve the needs of all people regardless of their religion.” 

“We support health care reform and efforts to expand access to health care to all Americans. But we oppose any policy that compels us to compromise our Catholic faith,” Msgr. Boland said. 

He noted that the mandate’s intrusion on religious groups “affects all religions and anyone of faith.” 

“We must take a stand, not only on behalf of Catholic Charities, but for all faith-based organizations,” the monsignor declared. “We must protect our right to serve all the poor, not just those HHS defines for us.” 

More than 50 plaintiffs, including several Catholic dioceses and their Catholic Charities affiliates, are now involved in 23 lawsuits against the contraception mandate. 

Source: Catholic News Agency

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