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The Mechanics

Election 2015 Fri Jan 30 2015

Aldermanic Candidate Gets Industrial-Strength Endorsement

Martin Atkins in Maureen Sullivan campaign ad

Industrial music pioneer Martin Atkins has lived in Chicago for 15 years. A drummer for everyone from Public Image Ltd. to Nine Inch Nails to his own Murder Inc. and Pigface, the Bridgeport resident is now drumming up support for Maureen Sullivan, a candidate for 11th Ward alderman to replace retiring Ald. James Balcer.

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Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Stump Connolly Mon Jan 26 2015

Stump Connolly Reporting: Willie Wilson at the House of Hope

Last Monday, Jan. 19, Willie Wilson held a Martin Luther King Day rally at the House of Hope on 114th Street in Pullman. Wilson had predicted that over 12,000 people would turn out; the crowd was more like 500. A procession of ministers took the stage to support Wilson's bid for mayor, and the candidate once again offered up his Sermon on The Stump about Moses warning his people not to return to the land of Egypt. But the highlight, as always, was the gospel choir from Wilson's syndicated TV show "Singsation!"

Stump Connolly, chief political correspondent of The Week Behind, will be covering the Chicago mayoral race with his new pocketcam and offering periodic video reports exclusively on Gapers Block as the campaign unfolds.

Stump Connolly / Comments (0)

Stump Connolly Fri Jan 23 2015

Stump Connolly Reporting In: A Long Day in the Life of Bob Fioretti

His day begins with phone calls at 5am and often doesn't end until midnight. From el stops to "Fridays with Fioretti," we followed mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti last week to see what a typical day on the campaign trail is like for the 2nd Ward alderman.

Stump Connolly, chief political correspondent of The Week Behind, will be covering the Chicago mayoral race with his new pocketcam and offering periodic video reports exclusively on Gapers Block as the campaign unfolds.

Stump Connolly / Comments (0)

Economic Development Thu Jan 22 2015

New Chicago Microlending Initiative to Aid South Side Businesses

CNIMFG.JPG
Obama cabinet members met Monday at Ain't She Sweet Cafe in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood to announce a new microfinance initiative on the the city's South Side. / Photo courtesy of SBA

Small Business Administration (SBA) administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet was in Chicago Monday to announce a $750,000 investment in Chicago Neighborhood Initiative's Micro Finance Group (CNIMFG) -- the latest federally approved microlender serving Chicago's South Side area.

"CNIMFG is committed to bringing affordable microfinance solutions to low-income individuals or small business owners who do not have access to traditional sources of financing," said Erica King, CNIMFG's Vice President of Lending.

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Emily Brosious / Comments (0)

Election 2015 Wed Jan 21 2015

Don't Like Your Choices? Even Write-In Might Not Be an Option

write-in ballotIf having a lot of choices is your thing, you may be jealous of me. The 38th Ward, where I live, will have seven candidates on the ballot for alderman. We have nothing on the 24th Ward, where 10 candidates will appear.

But you might live in one of the wards where there is only one candidate on the ballot -- and you do not like the candidate. So you might be thinking you will just write somebody in.

Guess what? You might not even be able to do that.

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Phil Huckelberry / Comments (1)

Stump Connolly Mon Jan 19 2015

Stump Connolly Reporting In: Door to Door for Chuy

With deep roots in the Harold Washington campaign, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia is relying on a robust field organization to build a new progressive coalition. Volunteers are signing up at a rate of 25 to 50 a day, and the campaign had 250 people on the street going door to door last weekend. We went to the field office at 63rd and Woodlawn to watch the operation in action on Jan. 14.

Stump Connolly, chief political correspondent of The Week Behind, will be covering the Chicago mayoral race with his new pocketcam and offering periodic video reports exclusively on Gapers Block as the campaign unfolds.

Stump Connolly / Comments (0)

Stump Connolly Fri Jan 16 2015

Stump Connolly Reporting In: Coffee with Mary Naset

The Chicago mayor's race is playing out like no other on Facebook, Twitter and the websites of the major candidates. Mary Naset is the digital director for Rahm Emanuel's re-election campaign and presides over a social network that includes 83,000 Facebook fans and more than 103,000 Twitter followers. For comparison, his opponent Bob Fioretti has around 8,100 Facebook fans and Jesus "Chuy" Garcia has around 6,700. We sat down with her to find out what 's all the fuss about.

Stump Connolly, chief political correspondent of The Week Behind, will be covering the Chicago mayoral race with his new pocketcam and offering periodic video reports exclusively on Gapers Block as the campaign unfolds.

Stump Connolly / Comments (1)

Technology and Politics Mon Jan 12 2015

Evidence Strongly Suggests CPD Illegally Uses Stingray Technology on Protestors

On Black Friday of 2014, Kristiana Rae Colón — a local Chicago artist recently turned organizer — planned a day of action to honor Mike Brown and protest Black Friday spending. Police surveillance was not really on Colón's mind when she organized the protest and march; her aim was to call attention to the connection between the criminalization of black people and the American capitalist system. But a police-scanner recording from that day reveals what seems to be evidence that Chicago police are illegally accessing data from protestors' phones. And in the recording, Colón is the target of this likely surveillance.

"Apparently someone had gotten access to a police scanner recording where it sounds like [an officer] alongside me referring to me being on my phone, and then asking the person at a remote location whether or not they could tell where I was going," explained Colón. "So the implication is that [the officer] was there, seeing me on my phone, and then asking someone else if they could tell from my phone where I was going."

@SPOTNEWSonIG, a Twitter account that live-tweets information from police scanners, overheard the exchange between the officers that Colón references. What follows is an excerpt from their conversation:

Officer 1800: "One of the girls who's kind of an organizer here, she's been on her phone a lot. You guys picking up any information where they're going possibly?
CPIC: "Yeah, we're keeping an eye on it, we'll let you know if we hear anything."

Chicago's Crime Prevention and Information Center (CPIC) is a fusion center, where two or more law enforcement agencies work together to combat "criminal and terrorist activity." The recording strongly suggests that the officer in the field, "officer 1800," was asking someone at CPIC to access content on Colón's phone.

If the CPD were accessing phone content of protesters, they would be using "Stingray" technology to do so. A Stingray device — the commonly used term for an International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catcher — functions as a fake cell tower. It intercepts phone activity as cell phones seek the nearest cell tower, giving law enforcement access to information from any active phones in reach of the device (typically around a 1.5 kilometer radius).

The identity of the officer in the above exchange has been unknown. But another segment of the audio may give a clue as to his identity. On the recording he is referred to as "officer 1800," and another officer, "officer 41," uses his first name:

Officer 41: "Bill, I want to give you a call on your cell."
Dispatcher: "1800, did you copy?"
Officer 1800: "Yeah I did."

When I spoke with Colón, she mentioned that the officer trailing her that day was "Commander Dunn." William Dunn is the commander of the 18th District of Chicago. As Bill is a common nickname for William, this exchange suggests that it was Commander Dunn who saw Colón on her cell and asked remote officers if they could lift information from it.

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Rachel Anspach / Comments (1)

Stump Connolly Mon Jan 12 2015

Stump Connolly Reporting In: Willie Wilson's Excellent Sunday

On Sunday, Jan. 4, Willie Wilson went to church - four times. Only a day before giving his mayoral campaign $1 million from his personal bank account, Wilson made the rounds of the black churches that are the backbone of his campaign, giving each a generous donation, as is his custom, and talking about his reasons for running. By his own reckoning, he has given some $18 million to Chicago churches over the last 20 years and, as host of the Gospel Music showcase "Singsation!" featured many of their choirs on his TV show.

Stump Connolly caught up with him at one of his favorites, the Rev. Robert Patterson's Spirit of Truth Missionary Baptist Church, 3443 W. Harrison.

Stump Connolly, chief political correspondent of The Week Behind, will be covering the Chicago mayoral race with his new pocketcam and offering periodic video reports exclusively on Gapers Block as the campaign unfolds.

Stump Connolly / Comments (0)

Stump Connolly Fri Jan 09 2015

Stump Connolly Reporting In: 63,000 Signatures

Clem Balanoff files 63,000 nominating signatures for Jesus "Chuy" Garcia on Nov. 24, 2014, the last day of filing for the 2015 Chicago mayoral elections. Ten candidates are now in the race.

Next week, we catch up to present day!

Stump Connolly, chief political correspondent of The Week Behind, will be covering the Chicago mayoral race with his new pocketcam and offering periodic video reports exclusively on Gapers Block as the campaign unfolds.

Stump Connolly / Comments (0)

Election 2015 Thu Jan 08 2015

Willie Wilson's Game Plan

And then there were five: Rahm Emanuel, Bob Fioretti, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, William "Dock" Walls, and Willie Wilson. Those are the candidates who will be on the ballot for mayor in February.

Emanuel, Fioretti, Garcia, and Walls have all been around politics, some in loftier positions, some for longer than others. Wilson, though, has no political experience. He is a 66-year-old South Side businessman.

He also just given his campaign $1,000,000 -- with more likely on the way.

A month ago, nobody was talking about Willie Wilson. Today, he is being seen as the man who could blow the whole election up.

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Phil Huckelberry / Comments (5)

Stump Connolly Mon Jan 05 2015

Stump Connolly Reporting In: Filing Day

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and various aldermanic candidates vie for the top position on the ballot on Nov. 17, 2014, the first day of filing petitions for the Chicago municipal elections next February.

Stump Connolly, chief political correspondent of The Week Behind, will be covering the Chicago mayoral race with his new pocketcam and offering periodic video reports exclusively on Gapers Block as the campaign unfolds.

Stump Connolly / Comments (0)

Illinois Fri Jan 02 2015

New Year, New Laws in Illinois

While you were out celebrating New Year's Eve, the State of Illinois ushered the new year in with a tradition of its own: new laws. January 1 is the state's default effective date for any new law unless otherwise specified. As such, more than 200 new laws took effect January 1 in Illinois.

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Emily Brosious / Comments (0)

Stump Connolly Fri Dec 26 2014

Stump Connolly Reporting In: A Chewy Launch Party

The kick-off rally for Jesus "Chuy" Garcia took place at the Alhambra Palace in the West Loop on Nov. 23, to the tune of "Everyday People."

Stump Connolly, chief political correspondent of The Week Behind, will be covering the Chicago mayoral race with his new pocketcam and offering periodic video reports exclusively on Gapers Block as the campaign unfolds.

Stump Connolly / Comments (0)

Civics Wed Dec 24 2014

The Illinois Constitution and Pension Impairment

Civics by Ramsin CanonWhy are your FICA taxes -- Social Security and Medicare -- distinct from the rest of your taxes?

When Franklin Roosevelt proposed the social security program -- which he termed an "old-age pension" -- to the Congress, he said that it was necessary that the funding of old-age pensions should not come from "general taxation" -- where they are subject to the vicissitudes of the annual appropriations process. The point of Social Security was to create some measure of predictability and safety for workers reaching the end of their working life. The source of the funds should be stable and dedicated. Without that, it could hardly be called a safety net.

As soon as it was created, Social Security was attacked in the courts by employers who argued the program was unconstitutional, as outside the scope of Congress's powers. The Supreme Court ultimately held that Congress had the power under the Commerce Clause to require private sector employers to contribute to social security. Governments, however, are not typically understood as engaging in "interstate commerce," one of the required elements for exercise of Commerce Clause powers.

So employees of government are not among the workers covered by the Social Security Act. Their retirement security is provided for by state statutes, which can be amended or changed by legislatures. The acts of the legislature one year cannot bind subsequent elected legislatures -- this is known as the reserved power doctrine.

You can see how this could undermine one of the purposes of old-age retirement insurance: predictability.

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Ramsin Canon / Comments (3)

Feature

Fioretti Talks TIF Reform

By Monica Reida / 1 Comments

Alderman and mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti discusses his plan for "true TIF reform." More...

Civics

The Illinois Constitution and Pension Impairment

By Ramsin Canon / 3 Comments

Why are your FICA taxes -- Social Security and Medicare -- distinct from the rest of your taxes? When Franklin Roosevelt proposed the social security program -- which he termed an "old-age pension" -- to the Congress, he said that... More...

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About Mechanics

Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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Editor: Monica Reida, mr@gapersblock.com
Mechanics staff inbox: mechanics@gapersblock.com

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