Race, poverty and politics: Dubious NATO arrests; low-income parents get reprieve; campaign finance loophole

Nine anti-NATO activists were arrested in the raid of a Bridgeport home on Wednesday night. The National Lawyers Guild condemned the action and said that none of the activists had yet been charged, nor had the Chicago Police Department produced a warrant for the raid. Officers confiscated a cell phone, as well as beer-making equipment which activists say is being misconstrued as materials to make Molotov cocktails. Friday morning, four individuals were released without charge. The week of anti-NATO protests and protesters flocking to the city has so far resulted in 20 arrests, estimated the National Lawyers Guild. The main march against the summit will take place on Sunday at noon in Grant Park.

Low-income parents in Illinois who depend on subsidized child care won't be left without child care just yet. The Illinois Senate voted Wednesday to re-direct $73 million to pay for subsidized daycare for the working poor and students. The money was earmarked for Medicare, but is not needed this year, The State-Journal Register reported yesterday. The move is an about-face from an announcement by Governor Pat Quinn earlier this year that money had run out and 40,000 providers wouldn't get paid until after July 1. These cuts risk a downward spiral for some of the poorest families.

The Chicago Cubs are undertaking some serious damage control after  The New York Times reported Thursday that Joe Ricketts, patriarch of the team's owners, bankrolled a $10 million racially charged attack ad that would have ran against President Barack Obama. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, is "livid" over the ad, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, and is not taking calls from Tom Ricketts, the chairman of the Cubs and Joe Ricketts' son. Ricketts is desperately trying to calm the backlash because he wants city and state assistance to bankroll a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field--something in which Emanuel will play an integral part. While the mayor is giving Ricketts the cold shoulder, a city hall insider told the Sun-Times that the Wrigely deal would still likely go down because Emanuel favors the concept. As for the attack ad, dubbed "The Ricketts plan to end his [Obama] spending for good", it sought to link Obama--once again--to his controversial former South Side spiritual advisor, Jeremiah Wright, who gained national attention in 2008 for his race-related sermons. The ad's architects also reportedly plotted "hiring as a spokesman an 'extremely literate conservative African-American' who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a 'metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln,'” according to the Times. The plan has since been quashed. Tom Ricketts has also released a statement professing his political inactivity. What's more, it should be noted that Laura Ricketts, Tom's sister and Joe's daughter, and a Cubs co-owner, is a top contirbutor to Obama's re-election bid and sits on the campaign's national finance committee.

third party has been formed and a possible candidate has surfaced who could face scandal-plagued 10th District state Rep. Derrick Smith in the general election. After Smith ignored calls from heavy-hitting Democrats to step down, the power brokers decided to form the 10th District Unity Party to challenge him. They have yet to pick a candidate, though. These are the same people who supported Smith weeks before the election despite his arrest for bribery. Lance Tyson, an attorney and chief of staff to former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has thrown his hat in the ring. "Families across the 10th Legislative District, families just like mine, deserve a better choice than what they currently have," Tyson said. Smith is currently facing a federal bribery charge and a separate House investigation could also result in his expulsion. The goal here for Democrats is to make sure the West Side District does not end up in the hands of a Republican.

In two posts this week, The Chicago Reporter highlighted SB3722 as it made its way through a House Committee. Originally touted as a reform bill aimed at disclosing the identities of donors who give to PACs through conduits, such as their employer or unions, the bill totally changed course after a controversial amendment was added by House lawmakers on Wednesday. Basically the amendment srippped contribution caps off of statewide and local races once a PAC, or an individual, contributed $250,000 or more to a candidate in a statewide race and $100,000 in a local race.

Nick Moroni contributed to this post. 



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