The top stories of 2011 in Chicago and Illinois were stories of politics and politicians in the state that has been known for its ‘Chicago politics’ and politicians since the day Chicago became a city in 1832. In 2011 in Chicago, it was what it was.
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The Top Ten Stories in Chicago for 2011
- Rahm Emanuel elected as Mayor of Chicago: Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s former Chief of Staff in the White House, won the office of Chicago Mayor on February 22, 2011 with 55.2% of the votes, defeating Gery Chico who had 24% of the votes, and other contenders who ended up with less than 10%: Miguel del Valle, Carol Moseley Braun, Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, and Doc Walls. The victory followed many hurdles for Emanuel including challenges to his Chicago residency status.
- Former Governor Rod Blagojevich was found guilty of federal corruption and sentenced to 14 years in federal prison: Rod Blagojevich’s second trial ended with the jury announcing that the former Governor of Illinois had been found guilty of 17 of the 20 charges against him, including the charge involving the attempted sale or profit from President Barack Obama’s former United States Senate seat. Judge James Zagel sentenced Blagojevich to 14 years in federal prison on December 7, 2011.
- Governor Pat Quinn orchestrated a 67% Illinois state tax hike: In what is still considered a political shocker, Democratic Governor Pat Quinn passed a very unpopular 67% tax increase on Illinois businesses in early January 2011 via his lame duck Illinois Congress. The result has been businesses lining up to leave the state because of the costs it doesn’t have to pay elsewhere in the United States.
- Maggie Daley died at 68: The wife of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley passed away on Thanksgiving night 2011 after a nine year battle with cancer. The extremely popular First Lady of Chicago for 22 years was tribute throughout Chicago and beyond.
- Illinois Tollway raised fees 89.5%: The Illinois Tollway Authority approved a Governor Pat Quinn-endorsed, huge increase in the amount of money travelers will begin paying to utilize the state’s tollway system on January 1, 2012.
- Occupy Chicago occupied Chicago: A series of ongoing protests, marches, rallies, arrests, and reactions to them all occurred throughout the late summer, fall, and early winter of 2011 in Chicago as Occupy Chicago participants engaged in their part of the universal Occupy Wall Street phenomenon.
- Gaming including casino gambling in Chicago and Illinois was debated and unresolved: Gov. Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and the Illinois state legislature debated how far gambling and gaming should be extended in Illinois all year long, and the debate continues into 2012. Quinn doesn’t want the expansion of gaming in the state while many legislatures do, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants his Chicago casino very much so.
- Garry McCarthy became the new Supt. of Chicago Police: After Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first choice for the position of Superintendent of Chicago Police wanted too much money to take the job, Emanuel got Garry McCarthy to take the position. During the campaign, Emanuel made it clear that he wanted former Chicago Top Cop Jody Weiss out.
- Jean Claude Brizard became Chicago’s Superintendent of Chicago Schools: Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave Jean Claude Brizard the job of Chicago’s Superintendent of Schools with a contract – the first ever given for such a position in Chicago – and a record-breaking $250,000 salary even though Emanuel cancelled a 4% raise for the teachers because he said the city can’t afford the raise. Brizard comes from the Rochester, New York School System with only a 5% rate of confidence from the teachers there. The relationship between Brizard, Teacher’s Union President Karen Lewis, and the Teacher’s Union has not been a smooth one with all of Brizard’s plans to be implemented under his command.
- Jesse Jackson Jr. investigated by Ethics Committee: The questions surrounding Chicago’s United States Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.’s involvement in attempting to buy President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat from convicted felon and the impeached, former Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich lingered all year and culminated in a December 2011 U.S. Congress Ethics Committee’s investigation which continues to investigate into the new year.
READ: ILLINOIS NEW LAWS for 2012
READ: CHICAGO TAXES AND FEES INCREASE in 2012
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