Stories by Hunter Clauss

Mayor Emanuel Looks to Residents for Budget Solutions

| Sean Keenehan
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on 'Chicago Tonight'

If you have any ideas about how Chicago can come up with more than $750 million to help balance its budget—then the city wants to hear them. Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office today announced three town hall meetings as he prepares to unveil his 2016 budget to the City Council on Sept. 22.

Democrat Day at State Fair Highlights Election Rifts

Thursday is Democrat Day at the Illinois State Fair and, as expected, they used the opportunity to slam Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s anti-union, pro-business Turnaround agenda that they say is preventing lawmakers from approving a statewide budget. We’ll have more news from Springfield with Chicago Tonight’s Amanda Vinicky.

Proposed Privatization Ordinance Aims to Prevent Repeat of Parking Meter Deal

| Kristen Thometz
A new proposal before the City Council aims to prevent another controversial privatization deal like the infamous parking meter lease.

A new proposal before the City Council aims to prevent another controversial privatization deal like the infamous parking meter lease of 2008, but some critics say the plan doesn’t go far enough. Joining Chicago Tonight to discuss the proposed ordinance is Judy Stevens, policy coordinator at the Better Government Association, which consulted the Emanuel administration when crafting the ordinance. 

Theater Group Collaboraction Examines Impact of Chicago Gun Violence

Collaboraction's 'Crime Scene: Breathe Life.' (Photo by Joel Maisonet)

With 259 murders this year so far, Chicago is seeing a 21 percent increase in the number of homicides compared to last year, according to recent figures from the city’s police department. This fact isn’t lost on the theater group Collaboraction, which is currently touring the city with its new production Crime Scene: Breathe Life. We discuss the work with artistic director Anthony Moseley and performer Sir Taylor.

Richard J. Daley's Life, Legacy at Heart of New Website

| Kristen Thometz
UIC Archive

Former Mayor Richard J. Daley redefined almost every aspect of Chicago during his 21 years in office. And his impact on the city is still felt today in politics, the city's skyline, and neighborhoods. A new website from the UIC's Richard J. Daley Library examines the late mayor's life through archival footage and dozens of interviews with his family and colleagues. 

Karen Lewis Grades CPS' Budget Math

| Kristen Thometz
Karen Lewis

CPS on Monday unveiled a $5.7 billion operating budget that calls for more than 400 teacher layoffs and banks on $480 million in state aid. Tonight, we'll discuss the district's budget proposal and ongoing teacher contract negotiations with Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis.

Local Republicans Sound Off on Trump, Crowded GOP Field

Thursday Debate to Include TV Personality Among 10 Candidates

Voters will get a chance to see 10 of the 16 leading declared Republican presidential candidates square off Thursday in the first primary debate, which is hosted by Fox News and Facebook. We discuss the surge behind Donald Trump’s candidacy and what the crowded field of candidates means for the Republican Party with our panel.

Combating the Rising Use of Heroin in City, Suburbs

| Kristen Thometz

Some advocates and law enforcement officials say heroin use is rising in Illinois and that Chicago has one of the largest open drug markets in the country.

Crunch Time for Chicago Public Schools

Forrest Claypool

We discuss the CPS budget and other challenges facing the nation's third-largest school district with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new leadership team: CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and chief education officer Janice Jackson. 

Comedy Writer From Winnetka Files Lawsuit Against Conan O'Brien

Conan O'Brien. (Meghan Sinclair / Team Coco)

A freelance comedy writer from Winnetka accuses Conan O’Brien of using jokes he posted on Twitter and has filed a lawsuit against the late-night comedian. Tonight, we’ll talk about the ethics of comedy and how jokes are shared with comedian Dwayne Kennedy and Curtis Flagg, the director of operations at Chicago’s Laugh Factory.

Rising Rents Put the Squeeze on Many in Chicago

Some bad news for anyone searching for a Chicago apartment: Rents are going up, and in some places, dramatically. We talk about the factors behind the rent hikes with our panel.

John Dillinger Returns to Crown Point with Opening of New Museum

| Sean Keenehan

Armed with a fake wooden gun, the infamous gangster John Dillinger made a daring escape from the Crown Point County Jail in Northwest Indiana in 1934. More than 80 years later, Dillinger has returned to Crown Point. Joining us to discuss the new John Dillinger Museum is Speros Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority.

Real-Life Ant Man Reviews 'Ant-Man' Movie

Ant expert Sean Menke reviews Marvel Studios’ new superhero movie Ant-Man, which follows ex-con Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) as he saves the day by harnessing a super-secret particle that allows him to shrink. Menke joins us to talk about Ant-Man, the science behind the movie, and his extensive studies on the small insects.

'Chi-Raq' Filming Over, But Debate Over Name Carries On

| Kristen Thometz

Filming for Spike Lee’s new film Chi-Raq has wrapped up, but the debate over the film’s working title rages on. Next week, the City Council is expected to hold hearings on the film's controversial moniker.

Task Force Proposes Consolidation, Dissolution of Local Governments

| Kristen Thometz

In a city that has 50 aldermen, it might not come as a surprise that Illinois has the most units of government in the country, nudging out the competition with 6,964 governmental bodies, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This fact isn’t lost on Gov. Bruce Rauner, who created the Local Government and Unfunded Mandates Task Force to come up with recommendations on how to trim down that number. We discuss the task force’s recommendations.

Analyzing the Cook County Sales Tax Hike

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle won a victory Wednesday after the county board narrowly signed off on her controversial sales tax hike, but there might be some legal and political risks. We’ll talk with the Civic Federation president Laurence Msall and Nick Kachiroubas, an assistant professor at DePaul University’s School of Public Service.

Lake Michigan Water Levels On the Rise

Heading to the beach? You might actually see less of it: Water levels in Lake Michigan are rising at a record pace. We’ll talk with an expert about what’s causing the rise, how it affects the lake’s ecosystem, and what it means to nearby property owners.

Illinois Senate Expected to Consider Temporary Budget

Illinois Senate

The Illinois Senate is back in session Tuesday. This week’s showdown is centered on who will keep state workers paid: the Democrat-controlled General Assembly or Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Remembering the Deadly Heat Wave of '95

| Charles Jefferson
Chicago skyline

This summer marks the 20-year anniversary of a brutal heat wave that hit Chicago and left more than 700 people dead. Tonight, WGN chief meteorologist Tom Skilling and Northeastern Illinois University professor emeritus Robert Starks join us to remember the summer of 1995.

Local Organization Helps Transgender People Find Work

| Charles Jefferson

We take a look at a local organization that helps transgender people improve their work skills, find jobs, and overcome social stigmas facing the trans community. 

Who Wins and Who Loses in a Government Shutdown?

State lawmakers are expected to meet this week to consider a temporary, one-month budget in an effort to stave off the devastating effects of a government shutdown. But as the budget stalemate between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled General Assembly continues with no clear resolution in sight, who wins and who loses? 

Fiscal Year Begins Without a Budget

State lawmakers are considered a temporary one-month budget in an effort to keep state government funded. That measure failed in the House. Senate President John Cullerton has proposed a measure that addresses the pension crisis facing Chicago Public Schools, while also incorporating a property tax freeze which Gov. Bruce Rauner sought. We talk with Chicago Tonight correspondents Carol Marin and Amanda Vinicky.

Looming Government Shutdown and CPS’ Pension Pain

We’ll talk about the latest developments in Springfield with veteran reporter Carol Marin and Springfield correspondent Amanda Vinicky. It’ll be a whooper of day as a state government shutdown appears increasingly likely because Tuesday is the final day in the state’s current budget. Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools managed to pay its $634 million pension payment Tuesday afternoon. 

Former CPS CEOs Weigh In on District's Money Woes

Former Chicago Public Schools chiefs Paul Vallas and Terry Mazany will talk with us as part of a series of discussions we are having with education experts and elected officials on the colossal challenges facing Chicago Public Schools and what it means for students and parents.

Analyzing CPS’ Financial Challenges

The Chicago Board of Education is expected to sign off on a $200 million borrowing plan today to help the cash-strapped district manage its financial woes until the end of the month. But the massive cash-crunch facing CPS will remain and some observers fear that teacher layoffs and other school cuts might be inevitable.