Politics

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pocan.house.gov

This week’s Friday Forum features Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan.  He took the seat in Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District in 2013 after 14 years in the state assembly.

Pocan’s district cover all or parts of seven counties in south central Wisconsin, stretching from Beloit west and north to Madison and beyond.

Congress and the administration are considering a full and varied plate of proposals, but Pocan says there is one thing they should all aspire to do.

RPS Employees Schedule Three-Day Strike

Mar 2, 2017
Rockford Public Schools

Rockford school bus drivers, nutrition service workers and paraprofessionals are prepared to begin a three-day strike on March 15. According to a news release, that’s if the school board continues “its refusal to bargain in good faith with the union.” AFSCME sent a legal notice of intent to strike to the school board late Thursday afternoon and the workers announced it at a Rockford union hall Thursday night.

Some incumbents lost their seats in Tuesday’s primary election, which was marked by very low turnout in every race.

Some of Tuesday’s winners will be guaranteed victory in April because there are no qualified candidates to oppose them.

Rockford

Two Rockford City Council incumbents were pushed out of their seats by primary challengers Tuesday,

whitehouse.gov

The address comes a day after Trump gave an outline of his budget plan for Congress, which would increase defense spending and make cuts to domestic programs.

Following tradition, House Speaker Paul Ryan invited the president to make the speech to lay out his agenda in the early days of his new administration.

NPR will offer this live transcript of the remarks, and NPR journalists with expertise in politics, immigration, business, law and more will offer their analysis and annotations.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

On February 28, voters in Aurora will whittle down the number of candidates running for mayor of Illinois’s second-largest city.

Election cycles always mean a turnover in county officials. Some of these new public servants may see this as a clean slate, but many have to deal with issues from a previous administration. 

The new LaSalle County State's Attorney campaigned against and eventually shut down a program established by the person she defeated for the job. 

President Trump host Isreali Prime Minister Netanyahu
PBS NewsHour via YouTube

President Donald Trump hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Wednesday. The two held a joint news conference, and NPR journalists with expertise in politics, national security, and the Middle East have annotated a transcript of their remarks.

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duckworth.house.gov

Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Tammy Duckworth – Illinois’s junior senator – is speaking out against President Trump’s executive order on immigration.

She says it amounts to a ban on Muslims and that it actually puts American troops overseas in harm’s way – by giving terrorist groups like ISIS a major recruitment tool.

Scott Desavouret / WNIJ

An unusually large crowd showed up at the DeKalb Public Library Thursday to let Congressman Adam Kinzinger know they are not happy with President Trump’s recent actions.  

congress.gov

This week’s WNIJ Friday Forum features two Congressmen who are entering their fourth terms representing parts of northern Illinois.

Jenna Dooley

Leaders in the Illinois Senate are pressuring members to vote this week on a massive compromise. It would include a state budget.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

More than 1,000 people marched through downtown Rockford today as part of the national Women's March movement. Women, men, and children carried signs, shouted slogans, and stuck to the sidewalks in the peaceful gathering. 

Organizers say the purpose of the march was to support women's rights, as well as specific issues such as equal pay, access to health care, and uniting a diverse city like Rockford.

WNIJ continues its Friday Forum with two state senators and their priorities in the 100th General Assembly. 

Democrat Steve Stadelman and Republican Dave Syverson represent Illinois’ 34th and 35th senate districts respectively.  The 34th district comprises Rockford and its surrounding municipalities, while the 35th encompasses the cities of DeKalb, Sycamore, Genoa, Belvidere, and Rockton.

"United States Capitol" by Flickr User Cliff / (CC X 2.0)

For elected officials in Illinois, attending Donald Trump's inauguration Friday is a political event. And their presence or absence is a political statement.

Several congressmen who represent parts of Chicago are skipping the Inauguration, but their reasons vary.

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez gave a whole list of reasons in a speech on the House floor for boycotting -- from Trump’s comments on sexually assaulting women to blaming the outcome of a court case on the Mexican heritage of a federal judge.

John Cabello

A Rockford-area state representative who co-chaired Donald Trump's campaign in Illinois is going to Washington to see his candidate sworn in as president.

John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, says Trump's message of bringing back jobs resonated with him and, apparently, many others.

Cabello is the only Hispanic Republican in the legislature. He says that, when it comes to issues like a wall on the Mexican border and deportation of those who have immigrated here illegally,  he realizes he's at odds with some others in the Hispanic community.

Illinois Senate Passes Leadership Term Limits

Jan 12, 2017

The Illinois Senate voted to limit how long a member can serve as president or minority leader.

 

Effective immediately, anyone in either position is required to step down after 10 years. It’s part of a flurry of proposals from Senate President John Cullerton and Minority Leader Christine Radogno.  She says they're meant to break Illinois’ 18-month budget stalemate.

 

Talk Radio News Service

President Barack Obama is returning to the city that launched his unlikely political career to give one final speech.

He'll deliver in Chicago a parting plea to Americans not to lose faith in their future, no matter what they think about their next president.

Obama's speech before thousands on Tuesday evening is his last chance to try to define what his presidency meant for America, and a fitting bookend.

Chicago is where the nation's first black president declared victory in 2008 and where he cultivated his decidedly optimistic brand of American politics.

More news about state and regional government and politics.

That was one highlight from a recent survey of WNIJ listeners. And it makes sense, because research shows public radio listeners pay close attention to the words and actions of elected and appointed officials.

With this in mind, WNIJ News is launching a new series called Friday Forum.  It will feature in-depth interviews with state officials, community leaders, and others whose decisions influence your life.

WNIJ's Director and General Manager, Staci Hoste, is proud of this weekly segment:

Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) keeps his job as Speaker after just one House Republican voted against him this week.

 

But Ryan’s victory turned sour after he and the Majority Leader defended an attempt to weaken the independent ethics office.

U.S. Congress

 

U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos is one of a handful of Democrats considering a run for Illinois governor. She says although she was just sworn in for her third term in Congress, she'd give it up to run for governor – if she's the person most likely to beat incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner.  

 

Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has appointed a new transportation secretary as he gears up for a budget battle over how to pay for roads.

Walker announced Tuesday that he has appointed Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dave Ross to serve as secretary of the Department of Transportation. Ross replaces Mark Gottlieb, who plans to resign effective Jan. 6.

Walker's announcement didn't offer any explanation for Gottlieb's resignation. Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said in an email to The Associated Press that Gottlieb plans to retire.

Illlinois Issues: The Great American Divide

Dec 12, 2016
FLICKR/ DARRON BIRGENHEIER; HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN

Wikimedia

The recount of Wisconsin's presidential election vote is nearly finished.

State election officials announced Friday that 89 percent of total ballots cast for president have been counted and 60 of the state's 72 counties had finished their work.

So far, Democrat Hillary Clinton has gained 49 votes on Republican Donald Trump, who defeated Clinton by more than 22,000 votes in the state.

The recount began Dec. 1. A federal judge on Friday refused to grant Trump supporters' request to halt the recount, saying it was nearly complete and likely won't change the results.

Tom Vilsack knows the life-altering effects of addiction. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary watched his mother battle drugs and alcohol and nearly die.

"She got introduced into this as a result of a surgery she had when I was a young boy," Vilsack says, "and that turned her on to pain medications."

Vilsack's mom spent the next five years in and out of hospitals, attempting suicide, quitting and using again.

Northern Illinois University

Some important events happened this week.

The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit record highs. And President-elect Donald Trump continued to announce his cabinet picks.

But a federal court ruling could have even more far-reaching effects.

A three-judge panel ruled Wisconsin's 2011 redistricting law unconstitutional -- a move that could affect the redistricting process in every state where lawmakers draw political maps.

In a 2-1 ruling, the panel said Wisconsin's districts, drawn by Republicans, unfairly affected Democratic voters.

Wikimedia

It's already time to start thinking about the next election. There are a few deadlines coming up for the Illinois consolidated primary on Feb. 28.

Candidates who wish to partake in the coming election have until Monday to file. Those who want a public question to appear on the ballot also have until then to file a petition. The last day for a community to adopt a resolution or an ordinance for the public question is Dec. 12.

Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Jim Tenuto offered this piece of advice to voters:

Wikimedia

Fewer than 20 percent of the provisional ballots cast in the election two weeks ago by voters who didn't have the required photo ID were counted.

The preliminary tally comes Tuesday from the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

The commission says there were at least 750 provisional ballots cast in the Nov. 8 election and of those 618 were issued because the voter didn't have an acceptable photo ID.

Only 116 out of the 618 provisional ballots were counted. Most of them, 399, were marked as "deadline expired," which indicates they weren't counted.

host.madison.com

A federal court says voting districts drawn by Wisconsin Republicans are unconstitutional.

The ruling issued Monday is a major victory for Democrats who have been in the minority for six years and lost ground in this year's election.

A three-judge panel tossed maps drawn by Republican lawmakers five years ago, saying they violate the voting rights of Democrats.

The maps divide Wisconsin into 99 Assembly and 33 Senate districts. A dozen voters sued last year, arguing that the boundaries discriminated against Democrats by diluting their voting power.

http://www.ci.freeport.il.us/

Freeport Mayor Jim Gitz says it’s time to make way for new leaders. He announced Thursday he will NOT run for re-election. 

Gitz was elected in 2013: he also served two terms as mayor, from 1997 - 2005. Gitz says he’s ready for a career change and had made up his mind before Tuesday’s election. That’s when Freeport voters decided to change to a city manager style government, making their mayor a part-time position.  

Republican Frank Haney won the race for Winnebago County Chairman over Democrat John Nelson.  With all precincts reporting, Haney beat Nelson by nearly seven thousand votes.  

Nelson led from the start and for much of the evening.  He amassed a big numerical margin in Rockford but Haney built a lead in the rest of the county as the night wore on to first narrow the gap and then surpass Nelson. 

Incumbent Chairman Scott Christiansen did not seek re-election. 

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