Stories by Nick Blumberg

The Battle Over Workers’ Comp Reform

| Kristen Thometz

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan plans to bring a workers’ compensation reform measure to the floor Thursday when the House returns to session. It’s the latest move in an ongoing fight over workers’ comp reform between Democrats and Gov. Bruce Rauner. We take a look at what Rauner's proposing, whether it has any chance of passage, and how workers’ comp has already been reformed in Illinois.

Durkin on the Battle Over an Illinois Budget

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin joins Chicago Tonight to talk about the general assembly's recently wrapped-up spring legislative session. The session, which saw sometimes tense battles between the Democratic majority in the legislature and rookie Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, ended without a budget deal.

Willie Wilson Takes Aim at the White House

Millionaire businessman and one-time Chicago mayoral candidate Willie Wilson announced Monday he plans to run for president. Wilson says he’s running as an anti-tax Democrat and a candidate of the people

The Debate Over "Right to Try"

The Illinois General Assembly has sent a bill to Gov. Bruce Rauner that will allow terminally ill patients to try experimental medication that hasn't yet been approved by the FDA. We'll hear more on the debate over whether the bill gives families a lifeline or puts already sick people at risk.

Cook County Sheriff on Reducing the Jail Population

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart joins Chicago Tonight to talk about the new county jail director and efforts to get mentally ill people treatment instead of incarcerating them.

"Born Survivors" on the Infants of the Holocaust

In the new book Born Survivors, author Wendy Holden tells the story of three women who gave birth in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. The three babies managed to survive, and they finally meet one another 65 years later.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Pension Ruling

We speak with Mayor Rahm Emanuel about the Illinois Supreme Court ruling that found the 2013 pension reform law unconstitutional. What does that mean for Chicago’s pension reform? We’ll also ask him about the downgrading of the city’s credit rating to junk status and Obama Presidential Library coming to the South Side of Chicago. 

“The Big Jones Cookbook”

Credit Grant Kessler

James Beard semifinalist Paul Fehribach, executive chef of Andersonville's Big Jones restaurant, joins Chicago Tonight to discuss the recipes and history in his new Southern cookbook.

Chicago's Donnie Madia Wins Big At James Beard Awards

Restaurateur Donnie Madia, owner of the One Off Hospitality Group, joins Chicago Tonight after a big night at Monday's James Beard Foundation Awards, which were held for the first time in Chicago.  

PBS Chief Paula Kerger

Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, joins Chicago Tonight to discuss her vision for the future of public media, the challenges PBS and its member stations face with fundraising and editorial control, and how public media can grow and build their audiences.

How Chicago Compares to Indiana's HIV Outbreak

Tuesday, a team of federal health officials arrived in southern Indiana to evaluate a recent surge in HIV cases, which the director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS called one of the worst outbreaks of the last 20 years. We talk with John Peller, president and CEO of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, to see how Chicago’s infection rate compares to Indiana, what the underlying causes are, and how to stem the tide of cases.

What's Next After the Dante Servin Verdict?

| Hunter Clauss

Chicago Police Detective Dante Servin was acquitted earlier this month in the shooting death of an unarmed African-American woman, Rekia Boyd. Critics have blamed Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez for filing the wrong charges against Servin, and have blamed Judge Dennis Porter for acquitting Servin and writing a ruling that appeared to argue different charges would have been warranted. What lessons can be learned from the case, and what needs to change going forward? We're joined by legal experts Len Cavise and Richard Kling.

Bears’ Chairman George McCaskey

In advance of this week’s NFL Draft in Chicago, Bears' Chairman George McCaskey sits down with Phil Ponce to talk football. McCaskey will talk about all the changes at Halas Hall this offseason and what Bears’ fans can expect this year. He also addresses some recent NFL issues and controversies, including questions about concussion care and domestic violence awareness. 

"More Mexican Everyday" With Rick Bayless

Chicago-based chef Rick Bayless' ninth cookbook, More Mexican Everyday: Simple, Seasonal, Celebratory, will be released at the end of the month. Bayless joins us to talk about the cookbook and to share a sweet and spicy salad recipe.

Chicago High School Students Face to Face With Mayor Emanuel

| Kristen Thometz

Mayor Rahm Emanuel won a second term in office in this month's runoff election. He joins Chicago Tonight for a forum with Mikva Challenge high school students who'll ask him about his priorities for his second term and how he plans to address issues facing young people in Chicago.

From Chicago Girl to First Lady

Author Peter Slevin has covered both Barack and Michelle Obama for many years. The former Washington Post reporter, who's now on staff at Northwestern University's journalism school, joins us to talk about his new book tracing Michelle Obama's family background, her upbringing and education, and her life with her husband.

CPS Facing Federal Investigation, Calls For Bankruptcy

| Kristen Thometz

Gov. Bruce Rauner said this week that bankruptcy may be the best option for the Chicago Public Schools system to get its fiscal house in order. One day later, it was revealed that the federal government is investigating CPS. News reports say the investigation involves a no-bid contract for principal training awarded to a company that once employed CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. We'll discuss the challenges facing CPS with a panel of experts.

Minimum Wage Workers Protest for Better Pay

Demonstrators in Chicago and around the United States are protesting Wednesday for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Organizers said workers in other countries would also rally, claiming it’s the largest-ever international demonstration by workers.

Life Since "The Homestretch"

The documentary The Homestretch premieres Monday at 9:00 pm on WTTW11. It follows three homeless young people in Chicago as they struggle to graduate high school and navigate their future. That's followed by a Chicago Tonight special edition at 10:00 pm, where host Phil Ponce sat down with three of the documentary subjects to talk about where their lives have taken them since the events of the film, and he also spoke with the filmmakers who spearheaded the project.

Cook County's New Public Defender

Amy Campanelli, a veteran attorney who's worked in the public defender's office in different capacities for many years, has been confirmed as Cook County's newest public defender. We'll talk with Campanelli about her priorities for the office, which include reforming bonding to reduce the jail population.

Analyzing the Runoff Election

This historic mayoral runoff election is over with Mayor Rahm Emanuel winning a second term. We discuss the results of that race, as well as the results of the 18 aldermanic runoff elections with our panel of political experts. 

‘Unforgettable: A Son, A Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime’

Scott Simon; credit: Bill O'Leary

Author and broadcaster Scott Simon, longtime host of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, joins us to discuss a new book about his mother's life and death, the lessons she taught him, and the bond they shared.

Runoff Season Enters the Homestretch

| Kristen Thometz

Voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide Chicago's first mayoral runoff since the city changed to a nonpartisan election system. They'll also decide who will represent 18 wards in the City Council, and some incumbents could be thrown out. We analyze the mayoral and aldermanic races with a panel of political experts.

McDonald's Boosts Wages, Buffett Buys Kraft

Oak Brook-based McDonald's on Wednesday announced its plans to raise starting pay at 1,500 company-owned stores to $1 above the local minimum wage and offer paid time off after a year of work -- but some labor advocates say the company isn't doing enough. Northfield-based Kraft has been bought out by billionaire investor Warren Buffett and the Brazilian group 3G Capital, who plan to merge the company with Heinz. We'll talk about those stories with Crain's Chicago Business reporter Peter Frost.

Neighborhood Issues May Fuel Uptown Race

46th Ward Aldermanic Runoff Forum

| Evan Garcia

Ald. James Cappleman was elected in 2011 as a candidate for change. The former social worker, who is one of the Chicago City Council's openly gay members, has been heavily supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's PAC in his re-election bid. He's facing an April runoff against lawyer Amy Crawford, who is also openly gay.