Stories by Nick Blumberg

Illinois' Decades-Long Pension Debacle

| Sean Keenehan

A new, in-depth report looks at how Illinois politicians pulled the state into the current pension mess after decades of poor planning, non-existent estimates, and last-minute decision making. Journalist Dave McKinney wrote the story for Crain's Chicago Business and joins Chicago Tonight to discuss the story and how it provides important context for our current crisis.

Police Mostly Mum On Patrick Kane Investigation

| Sean Keenehan
Patrick Kane (Photo by Sarah A. / Flickr)

Police in Hamburg, N.Y. have confirmed they are investigating an alleged incident at the home of Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, but won't provide details. Chicago Sun-Times investigative reporter Dan Mihalopoulos traveled to the Buffalo suburb to cover the story. He joins Chicago Tonight with more.

Mayor Emanuel Responds to Rauner's Challenge

Mayor says he's 'ready to work' with Rauner on workers' comp reform

| Kristen Thometz

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday said his administration would be willing to help Chicago Public Schools and the city’s pensions, provided the city helps Rauner give local municipalities the ability to limit collective bargaining with public employees. On Chicago Tonight Mayor Rahm Emanuel responds to Rauner’s challenge.

Chicago Could Tighten Rules on Drones

| Kristen Thometz

Alds. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) and Ed Burke (14th Ward) have proposed an ordinance that would tighten restrictions on the use of drones in the city, including limits on how close they can fly to O'Hare and Midway airports. Ald. Waguespack joins Chicago Tonight to talk about his proposal, along with Aerial Vision Chicago co-founder Anthony LaRosa.

Countdown to Congress

Congressmen Weigh in on Iran Nuclear Deal, Debt-Ceiling Deadline, More

| Steffie Drucker
Illinois Congressmen Luis Gutiérrez, left, and Randy Hultgren

Illinois Congressmen Randy Hultgren (R) and Luis Gutiérrez (D) join Chicago Tonight to discuss Iran, Planned Parenthood, clean energy, the 2016 election, and more issues they'll face next month.

What You Need to Know About the Plastic Bag Ban

Alderman Looks to Close Loopholes on Ban Starting Aug. 1

| Steffie Drucker

The city of Chicago's partial ban on plastic bags is now in place, but the ordinance as it's currently written will still allow stores to give out plastic bags, provided they meet certain standards. We discuss the new rules and proposed changes to them.

Aldermen Weigh Options for Tackling City's Deficits, Pension Debts

The City Council today tackled a host of issues in its final meeting before a two-month break. But one issue that didn't come up between aldermen and Mayor Emanuel is the big, expensive elephant in the room. Carol Marin talks with a panel of aldermen to analyze the city’s options for making its pension payments. 

BGA: Chicago Ranks No. 1 in Fatal Police Shootings Among Top 10 Cities

Chicago police officers shot and killed 70 people between 2010 and 2014, according to a new report from the Better Government Association. Andrew Schroedter, senior investigator with the BGA, joins Chicago Tonight to talk about these numbers and their implications for Chicago.

Writer Seeks Best Restaurants from Back Seat of Cab

Layne Mosler. (Photo by Rumen Milkow)

When Layne Mosler hails a cab, she doesn't have a destination in mind. What her driver doesn't know is that Mosler's next stop will be his (or her) favorite restaurant. This strategy has led her to discover some of the best eats in cities across the globe, which she details on her blog Taxi Gourmet. Now, Mosler shares her adventures in her new book, Driving Hungry.

Emanuel to Phase Out Seven Downtown TIF Districts

| Kristen Thometz

This month Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he plans to wind down seven Tax Increment Financing Districts located near downtown. Critics of the move say he’s hanging downtown out to dry, but others say this is a first step toward taxing transparency. We’ll hear from Crain’s Chicago Business columnist Greg Hinz and Tom Tresser of the TIF Illumination Project.

Rauner Lays Blame for Budget Impasse at Madigan's Feet

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday held a press conference to lay blame for the weeks-long partial state government shutdown at the feet of House Speaker Mike Madigan, and to decry lawmakers for taking a pay raise when there's no budget in place. We'll get the latest Springfield news from Chicago Tonight's Amanda Vinicky.

Crain's Roundup: Haute Furniture, Healthy Food, and Home Brewing at the Office

Ann Dwyer

We talk with Crain's Chicago Business Deputy Managing Editor Ann Dwyer about some of the biggest business stories this week, from Crate and Barrel's performance in some key categories to Seattle Sutton's battle in the prepared meals market. Also, find out how coworkers are embracing the spirit of home brewing -- at the office.

Cook County Sales Tax Hike Faces Wednesday Vote

| Charles Jefferson
Toni Preckwinkle

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has proposed raising the county sales tax by a penny on the dollar to help cover a pension-fueled budget shortfall. Wednesday, the county board is scheduled to vote on the hike. President Preckwinkle joins Chicago Tonight. We'll also hear from Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, who opposes raising the sales tax.

A Closer Look At Obama's Overtime Plan

| Steffie Drucker
President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama has proposed a change in overtime regulations that could make an additional 5 million Americans eligible for overtime pay. Join Chicago Tonight for a conversation about who this will affect, when the proposed change might go through, and where the rules stand currently.

Military Experts Warn Against Climate Inaction

Experts from the American Security Project are in Chicago to sound the alarm that inaction on climate change weakens the United States' national security position. We'll talk with retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Lee Gunn and Andrew Holland, senior fellow with the American Security Project and a former aide to ex-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel during Hagel's time in the Senate.

Chicago’s Shared Streets, Efforts to Boost Biking

| Kristen Thometz

Construction gets underway this week on the Argyle Streetscape project in Uptown, which will create a first-of-its-kind Chicago street that's shared among bikes, cars, and pedestrians. The city has also announced a discounted Divvy bike share membership rate for lower-income Chicagoans, and it's currently adding protected lanes to encourage more bicycling. We'll take a closer look.

WBEZ: Puerto Rican Drug Addicts Sent To Chicago Likely Victims of Identity Theft

A story by WBEZ and This American Life in April revealed that heroin abusers from Puerto Rico were being sent to unlicensed drug rehab programs in Chicago, many of which appear to be little better than flophouses and use methods that are questionable at best. The facilities often force clients to give them their identity papers for safe keeping, and don't always give them back when the clients leave. A follow-up report from WBEZ has found that some of the Puerto Rican addicts sent to Chicago appear to be victims of identity theft.

'Draft Biden' PAC Pushes for VP to Run in 2016

| Steffie Drucker

Vice President Joe Biden has run for president of the United States twice, most recently as an early Democratic contender in the 2008 primary. A Chicago-based movement called "Draft Biden" is trying to get him to run for a third time. William Pierce, director of "Draft Biden," joins Chicago Tonight for a conversation about the group.

Toni Preckwinkle on Her Sales Tax Plan

| Kristen Thometz

Facing a budget crunch, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is proposing a 1 percent hike to the county sales tax. She'll likely face a tough time finding the nine board member votes she needs to get the tax passed. Preckwinkle joins Chicago Tonight to talk about the budget.

Government Debts Loom Over Local, World Economy

| Kristen Thometz

With a fast-approaching debt payment due to the International Monetary Fund and no deal in sight, the world waits to see whether cash-strapped Greece will remain a part of the Euro currency. And here at home, massive pension debts and political battles are complicating budget deals for the state of Illinois and city of Chicago. We talk with two economists about both local and global economic issues.

Creating Green Space in the Lawndale Triangle

Neighbors in an area of North Lawndale called the "Lawndale Triangle" feel cut off. They have no park or green space, and very few places where they can come together as a community. Now, neighborhood leaders and a local nonprofit have joined together to create a community park and garden on a lot that's sat empty for years.

Summer Reading Selections

If you're headed to a beach somewhere to bake on the sand for a while ... well, first of all, don't forget the sunscreen. But just as importantly, don't forget to bring a bag full of books to keep you company. 

Mayor Emanuel on the CPS Cash Crunch, City Budget

| Kristen Thometz

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joins Chicago Tonight to talk about the pension payment owed by CPS next week, the school system and city's budget deficits, and whether he expects any good news from Springfield.

“The Subversive Copy Editor”

Carol Fisher Saller's principles of copy editing might surprise anyone who's ever tussled with an editor over a piece of writing. She argues communication and collaboration between writer and editor are key; style rules are useful guidelines, not the straps of a straitjacket; and that language's evolution isn't anything to rail against. She joins Chicago Tonight. 

Conservative Voices on Climate Change

Most scientists believe that climate change is real and man-made, but the policy debate over how to address the problem is often lacking in conservative voices. Former U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican, has been an advocate for free-market solutions to climate change. Inglis joins Chicago Tonight for a conversation.