• Aldermen's pique at Lightfoot's 2023 budget, nominations

    29 November 2022

    In a discussion by journalists Dave Glowacz and Ben Joravsky, Dave and Ben listened to and evaluated meetings of the Chicago City Council that took place in October and November of 2022.

  • New South Side TIF district clears 1st governmental hurdle

    21 March 2022

    The proposed Cicero/Stevenson TIF district cleared its first governmental hurdle on March 3, with approval by a joint review board.

  • Pause for clout-connected charter school in S. Side TIF district

    9 March 2022

    Funding for a South Side charter school connected to former Ill. House Speaker Michael Madigan has reportedly been hit a roadblock.

  • New South Side TIF district intends CHA housing and charter school

    26 January 2022

    The city of Chicago has proposed at new tax-increment financing district south of the Stevenson expressway, west of South Cicero Ave.

  • City: extend Near North TIF district 12 years, spend nearly $1 billion

    9 August 2021

    The city of Chicago proposes to dramatically increase the life and expenditures of the Near North tax-increment financing district.

  • Lincoln Yards and Cortland/Chicago River TIF still in flux

    1 May 2019

    Elements of the proposed Lincoln Yards complex, which shifted repeatedly prior to its City Council approval this year, continue to change.

  • Local government reps green-light Cortland TIF despite public doubt

    13 January 2019

    A board of local officials gave the first governmental green light to the billion-dollar Cortland/Chicago River tax-increment financing district.

  • Liberal and progressive: How do they differ?

    1 May 2018

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on what distinguishes someone who calls themself a liberal from someone who calls themself a progressive.

  • Audiobook: Joravsky on public schools

    22 February 2018

    This audiobook (part of a series) features years of in-depth discussions by Chicago Reader columnist Ben Joravsky and journalist Dave Glowacz about public schools in Chicago.

  • FBI's Blago wiretap shows Claypool in Rahm's bro-zone

    13 December 2017

    After the recent resignation of Forrest Claypool as head of Chicago Public Schools, one might ask: Why was he hired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the first place?

    One insight into the Claypool-Emanuel relationship comes from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    In late 2008, an FBI wiretap recorded then-Congressman Emanuel mentioning Claypool in a telephone call with then-Governor Rod Blagojevich. The FBI had wiretapped Blagojevich's telephones to gather evidence for the subsequent prosecution of Blagojevich.

    Although a detailed transcript of the phone call didn't surface until Blagojevich's 2011 corruption trial, the conversation was first revealed by Blagojevich himself.

    In his 2009 memoir The Governor (Phoenix Books), Blagojevich describes how Emanuel, who in November, 2008 had just been appointed chief of staff by the newly-elected Barack Obama, wanted the governor's help to "appoint a congressman who was going to keep the [5th Congressional district] seat warm" for Emanuel.

    The "purpose of [Emanuel's] call," Blagojevich writes, "was to see whether or not l would be willing to work with him and appoint a successor to his congressional seat who he would have designated to be a placeholder and hold the seat for him when he sought to return to Congress in two years." When Blagojevich questioned the legality of such a move, Emanuel said "that his lawyers thought there was a way where the governor might be able to make an appointment."

    Blagojevich was reluctant to help Emanuel, he says, because "if I helped appoint a congressman who was going to keep the seat warm for him, then I was going to make a lot of people who wanted to be congressman unhappy with me."

    The fact that it was Claypool whom Emanuel wanted as his seat-warmer didn't come to light until two years later, in June, 2011—in a federal-court filing by Blagojevich's lawyers during the legal proceeding against him.

    The filing contained the FBI's transcript of the phone conversation between Emanuel and Blagojevich.

    In the call, Emanuel says that "all of a sudden, all the aldermen and committeemen" wanted to take Emanuel's congressional seat as he left for the White House.

    "Forrest Claypool, bizarrely," Emanuel says, "would like to be considered, and he says he only wants to do it for, like, one term or two max."

    Claypool didn't make it to Congress. But Emanuel, after becoming mayor, appointed him to successive positions as Chicago Transit Authority president, mayoral chief of staff, and finally CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

    The federal government never released an audio version of Emanuel's phone call with Blagojevich. However, Inside Chicago Government has created an exclusive audio reenactment: Find it in the premium version of the interview titled "Rahm fired up about—but wouldn't fire—Forrest Claypool."

  • Rahm fired up about--but wouldn't fire--Forrest Claypool

    8 December 2017

    Just before the resignation of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Forrest Claypool, Dave Glowacz and the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky examined how Claypool got to be the CPS chief—and why Mayor Emanuel protects him.

  • Claypool and Rahm: combatants or colluders?

    11 May 2017

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on CPS chief Forrest Claypool's threat to end the 2017 schoolyear early.

  • Impact of CPS's new HS application

    8 May 2017

    Chicago Newsroom interview with reporters Lauren FitzPatrick, Sarah Karp, and Becky Vevea about CPS's new application process for high schools.

  • School cash crisis tips Rauner's hand, marks Rahm's brand

    7 March 2017

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the annual Chicago Public Schools funding crisis, and the roles of Governor Bruce Rauner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and the General Assembly.

  • Aldermen float, sink schools tax-increment financing

    4 October 2016

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the stalled Cardenas-Garza ordinance that deals with the city's tax-increment financing surplus, and more.

  • Watching the public schools ship sink

    10 February 2016

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on why CTU leadership accepted a contract offer that some felt its members would surely reject, and more.

  • Rahm cops to 'owning' McDonald fiasco—or does he?

    28 December 2015

    Interview in which the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky looks at aldermen's assertion that the Emanuel administration misled them about the McDonald shooting, and more.

  • 2016 city budget raises taxes, fees, and questions

    17 November 2015

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the city budget director's flawed logic about TIF districts robbing schools, and more.

  • U of C gets $1 land deal for charter school

    13 November 2015

    The city of Chicago proposes to sell highly valued real estate in South-Side Woodlawn to the University of Chicago for one dollar—a deal that one resident says will create an "educational ghetto."

  • School start sees familiar class and cash chaos

    21 September 2015

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on classroom chaos created by the 20th-day student count, and more.