Elections 2012: The week in review

What’s making headlines on Elections 2012, on Chicago Muckrakers weekly.

  • On Wednesday, Gov. Pat Quinn delivered a state of the state address in which he focused mostly on job creation and the state’s ailing economy. Quinn suggested a higher tax credit for businesses that hire returning veterans and an abolishment of the natural utility tax. He also proposed a child tax credit, which would see the average family of four receive about $100 in tax relief, each year, according to the Chicago Tribune. The governor also trumpeted the need for additional educational investment. He said more money should be spent upgrading technology in classrooms; and he also called for more funding for the state’s Monetary Award Program, a grant initiative for low-income college students. The governor did not, however, elaborate on how the cash-strapped state would fund any of his pitches. That said, his speech received a lukewarm reaction, at best, from legislators. Republicans blasted him for not focusing on ways to address the state’s growing deficit and its underfunded pensions. And several Democrats said they liked his ideas but questioned how practical they are. All of the legislators are up for re-election, though, and that could work to Quinn’s advantage as many will likely embrace tax relief and pro-consumer legislation, the Tribune noted.
  • Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced yesterday that her office is creating a special unit that will examine cases involving questionable or wrongful convictions. Critics of the county’s top prosecutor claim that her office has fought efforts for retrials when new evidence of innocence has surfaced, and that it often takes prosecutors too long to investigate questionable cases. Alvarez’s announcement came the same day the Illinois Supreme Court reaffirmed that confessions obtained through torture must be dismissed. That decision means Stanley Wrice, a convicted rapist who claims he was coerced into a fall confession after being tortured by police officers working under disgraced former police Commander Jon Burge, will get a hearing on the matter. Burge, who was convicted of perjury in 2010, and subordinate officers are accused of repeatedly abusing African-American suspects during the 1970s and 1980s. Since Alvarez was elected in 2008, more than a dozen previous conviction have crumbled following accusations of police torture, forced confessions or DNA evidence implicating other suspects. Alvarez is up for re-election in March but faces no challenger in the Democratic primary.
  • A Southwest Side activist hell-bent on snatching the 22nd District state House seat from longtime Speaker Michael Madigan called the legislator “the root of all evil,” according to a WBEZ story today. Michele Piszczor is running against Madigan and two other Democrats in the March 20 primary. She claims that the Madigan campaign planted the other candidates in the race to dilute the Latino vote. What’s more, Piszczor alleged that vandals associated with the Madigan campaign recently slashed her tires and dented her car in an act of intimidation. “This is what happens. This is Chicago politics,” Piszczor told WBEZ.  Piszczor, who is Polish and Spanish, is reportedly hoping to connect with the area’s burgeoning Spanish-speaking voters.
  • The new ward map passed by the Chicago City Council last month will complicate matters for aldermen running in the upcoming committeeman races, Progress Illinois reported yesterday. That is, some candidates are campaigning within the boundaries of the old map, while trying to court new constituents living in the new wards. The old map will be in place when voters go to the polls on March 20 to vote in the committeeman races, and it will likely stay in place until 2015, when aldermen are up for re-election. Nicholas Sposato, alderman of 36th Ward running for committeeman, noted that “80 percent of the people that are going to elect the committeeman aren’t going to be living in the new ward.” Under the new map, which Sposato vehemently opposed, the 36th Ward stretches farther south into neighborhoods with larger Latino populations.

© Community Renewal Society 2012

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