Category Archives: Statewide Update

Statewide update—July 20, 2011

Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson

Chicago Sun-TimesInspector general now at odds with Mayor Emanuel, “Inspector General Joe Ferguson went public on the issue Tuesday in a letter accompanying his latest quarterly report, talking about impediments he says keep him from exercising the independence he needs to root out waste and corruption. Ferguson, who was given responsibility last year for the oversight of city hiring, wrote that ‘robust oversight’ is being hampered by ‘serious understaffing.'”

  • SouthtownStar‘Transparency’ goal of Orland Park plan, “Posting more information online might also reduce the number of Freedom of Information Act requests Orland Park receives, LaMargo said. The village also plans to post monthly compilations of FOIA requests from the public and media, including stats on how quickly the village responded to the information request, he said.”
  • Peoria Journal-StarArbitrator: Quinn must give pay raises to workers, “Arbitrator Edwin Benn said the state violated its contract with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 when it canceled the scheduled raises just before the state’s new fiscal year started on July 1. He ordered that the raises be restored dating back to all paychecks distributed since the beginning of the fiscal year.”
  • Daily HeraldLocal tax group says schools could cut debt levies, “A suburban taxpayer watchdog group has issued a report calling on local school districts to give money back to residents by paying off debt from the extra cash they have, cutting taxes levied.”
  • Chicago Sun-TimesCity worker quits in the face of David Koschman questions, “The names of employees and contractors aren’t included in the report, but sources identified McDonald as the former ‘high-level manager’ in the city Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events who ‘refused to answer questions’ as part of an ‘IGO investigation relating to an inquiry into a serious crime.'”


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Statewide update—July 19, 2011

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Chicago TribunePrivate haulers compete with city workers for Chicago recycling, “City Hall has selected two private garbage companies to compete with city workers for the job of providing curbside recycling in Chicago, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said today he expected the plan to allow for an expansion of the long-troubled program.”

  • Daily HeraldThousands flock to new Des Plaines casino, “Sweltering heat, long lines, traffic jams, and not enough slot machines were complaints of some as hordes of gamblers flooded the new Rivers Casino, which opened Monday morning in Des Plaines. Thousands lined up early on two sides of the building and all the way into the parking garage. When the doors opened shortly before 11 a.m., they streamed in by the hundreds, hoping to get lucky.”
  • Illinois Statehouse NewsFeds halt Illinois Medicaid reform, “The federal government says Illinois cannot ask Medicaid recipients to prove how much they earn or where they live.”
  • Daily HeraldDrivers may foot $1B tollway budget gap, “Suburban drivers could face a toll increase down the road as the Illinois tollway grapples with a $1 billion gap in highway maintenance needs and contemplates billions of dollars in new construction.”
  • Chicago TribuneEditorial: Don’t go away mad …, “Reporters Diane Rado and Duaa Eldeib examined more than 100 superintendent contracts, finance records and severance agreements over a decade. They found that school boards showered money, including tons of cash for hundreds of unused sick days, on departing superintendents. In many cases these were big payouts for folks who were being drummed out the door.

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Statewide update—July 18, 2011

IL Senate President John Cullerton

Peoria Journal-StarIllinois lawmakers playing legislative keep away with Quinn, “It’s the political equivalent of keep away. Lawmakers still haven’t sent Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn two pieces of controversial legislation six weeks after passing them. One is to massively expand gambling and the other to finance an energy ‘smart grid.’ But the Democrat can’t sign them or veto them. He can’t do anything but wait.”

  • Daily HeraldDes Plaines casino not a boon for everyone, “While the new casino is expected to generate millions of dollars for Des Plaines, other towns are expecting to lose out as the Rivers Casino draws patrons and gambling revenues from their attractions.”
  • SouthtownStarIllinois ramping up fight against child porn, “A major effort is under way in Illinois to fight child pornography, even as authorities say more people than ever are being prosecuted for such crimes, including a rash of high-profile cases such as the conviction of a former state police trooper who admitted he viewed kiddie porn on his state-issued laptop computer while on duty.”
  • Peoria Journal-StarCuts to meals for Illinois elderly worry advocates, “Budget cuts to programs that deliver meals to homebound seniors in Illinois may force some frail elderly into nursing homes, a more expensive option for both the individuals and the state, advocates say.”

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Statewide update—July 15, 2011

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Chicago TribuneDefeated Democrats do well under Quinn, “Seals joined a host of other Democratic castaways who’ve landed on the state payroll after losing bids for Congress and the General Assembly. Friends and family of Democrats with clout also have found themselves with paid appointments to state panels. Hiring the connected is not new. But for Quinn, embracing legal political patronage contrasts with his long-running message of populist reform that attacks the way insiders do the people’s business.”

  • Bloomington Pantagraph (AP)Prosecutors: Blagojevich not fulfilling bond terms, “Prosecutors want a judge to order Rod Blagojevich to appear in court to sign what they contend is overdue paperwork allowing the ousted governor to remain free while awaiting sentencing.”
  • Chicago Sun-TimesBloomberg grant to help ‘re-invent’ Chicago city government, “Mayor Rahm Emanuel likes to talk about ‘re-inventing” city government, making it more efficient and reducing the ‘time-in-line’ it takes residents to access basic services. Now, he’ll have $6 million worth of foundation grants to help deliver on that promise over the next three years, courtesy of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.”
  • State Journal-RegisterOpinion: Cameron Miller unlucky in life, no better in death, “This is where budget cuts in Illinois come down to human terms. Department of Human Services spokesman Mike Claffey said the state’s funeral and burial program previously paid for 12,000 funerals and burials a year (more than half of them in Cook County) for people who were on public assistance when they died. It needed $12 million annually. The new budget says it now gets $1.9 million annually.”

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Statewide update—July 14, 2011

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Chicago TribuneReshaping Chicago’s political map: race, ward-by-ward, “The Chicago City Council is preparing to redraw ward boundaries in a once-a-decade exercise that could reshape Chicago’s political landscape. With sharp declines in the black and white population, Latinos look to make gains.”

  • Daily HeraldWhich township trustees are getting pensions? “White makes $4,200 a year as a trustee, according to township records. This year, White will contribute about $200 to his retirement plan, but taxpayers in the Lake County township will add another $500 toward his pension. Combined, pension contributions for all four Libertyville Township trustees will cost taxpayers $1,992 this year.”
  • Belleville News DemocratAttorney disciplinary board files complaint against former arbitrator Teague, “Former workers’ compensation arbitrator Jennifer Teague could face discipline after a four-count complaint was filed, alleging she improperly used her position to speed payment of her own workers’ comp case, made improper statements and attempted to hide a hearing from the media in a high-profile workers’ compensation case.”
  • SouthtownStarQuinn signs coal gasification plant bill, “Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Wednesday that would help establish the state’s first coal gasification plant on land owned by three Southland men.”
  • Chicago TribuneMadigan calls for ban on third-party phone bill charges, “Third-party charges on consumer phone bills — which sometimes lead to fraudulent charges or “cramming” — should be banned, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Wednesday said in testimony before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee in Washington.”
  • Peoria Journal-StarState treasurer berates lawmakers, “‘Illinois has an addiction to debt.’ That’s the blunt message state Treasurer Dan Rutherford brought to the Kiwanis Club of Peoria Downtown on Wednesday, bemoaning a state that, ‘if it was a private company, they’d be hauled in front of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress and probably be thrown into jail’ because of how things are run.”
  • Chicago News CooperativeCity Vague on Costs of Ending O’Hare Deal, “When he announced his support last week for a plan to revamp concessions at O’Hare International Airport, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city would retain the right to get out of the deal after 10 years. What he did not say at the time – and what his aides still have not said – is what exactly it would cost the city if it decided to get out of the contract.”

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Statewide update—July 13, 2011

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Peoria Journal StarUnions picket throughout state, “Two more unions sued the state of Illinois on Tuesday over Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to suspend scheduled pay raises for some state workers. Meanwhile, dozens of employees picketed at two work sites in Springfield, while similar protests occurred at other employment sites throughout the state.”

  • Chicago Sun-TimesCook County highway chief quits, “During his tenure in the $147,436-a-year job, Graham drew criticism for implementing no-drive days for highway staffers — something he said was aimed as saving money on gas, but commissioners said was foolish since the highway department is in the business of maintaining roadways.”
  • State Journal-RegisterOur Opinion: State must crack down on grant use, “The contrast between schools struggling under the weight of state budget cuts and hundreds of thousands of dollars in state grant money carelessly dispersed is frustrating. In the context of recent audits from Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland, which noted lax monitoring of grant funds after their dispersal, it’s infuriating.”

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Statewide update—July 12, 2011

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Chicago Sun-TimesHundreds of city workers earned over $10,000 in OT in four months, “Nearly 460 city employees each racked up more than $10,000 in overtime through the first four months of this year, fueling Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s demand for the work-rule changes he says he needs to avoid 625 layoffs.”

  • Chicago Sun-TimesOpinion: Gov, defend open public records, “Instead of trying to limit FOIA, government agencies and municipalities throughout Illinois should be putting their time and energy into transparency efforts that make them more accessible to and candid with the taxpayers who are funding them.”
  • State Journal-RegisterSupreme Court rules Illinois public works plan is legal, “Billions of dollars’ worth of construction projects, including Statehouse renovations and hundreds of road projects throughout the state, will go on as scheduled over the next half a decade after the Illinois Supreme Court on Monday upheld funding for the work.”
  • Chicago News CooperativeMoney Missing From Education Reform Bill, “Lawmakers stripped more than $500,000 from Quinn’s proposed budget that would have helped implement Senate Bill 7, a sweeping education reform bill lauded as a national model, partly because it eases the process of dumping poorly rated teachers. The money would have paid for a contract with a private firm to handle training to revamp teacher and principal evaluations.”
  • Chicago Sun-TimesRTA revokes staff credit cards amid other agency scrutiny, “Prompted by revelations of excessive spending by Chicago Housing Authority executives, another governmental agency — the Regional Transportation Authority — has revoked credit card privileges for most employees, officials said.”
  • Chicago TribuneState ends Catholic Charities adoption contracts, “Illinois officials won’t renew foster care and adoption contracts with Catholic Charities, a move that could end a decades-long relationship that’s been in the spotlight following the state’s new civil unions law.”

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Statewide update—July 11, 2011

Mayor Emanuel

Chicago Sun-TimesMayor Emanuel cuts government credit cards from 500 to 30, “Mayor Rahm Emanuel is cutting from 500 to just 30 the number of credit cards used by local government agencies — and banning the use of petty cash altogether —after alleged abuses that ousted the chiefs of the CHA and Chicago Park District.”

  • Peoria Journal-Star (AP)Governor careful where to place his bets on Illinois casino expansion, “Pulling out any of the bill’s many pieces, including any of five new casinos, risks the loss of backing from legislators whose support was carefully cultivated, one by one, possibly dooming the proposal if Quinn sends it back to Springfield shrunken or otherwise amended. That could cost the state $1.6 billion in licensing fees and other payments that proponents say the legislation would generate to help pay down the state’s backlog of bills.”
  • State Journal-RegisterGov. Quinn signs 3 education bills, “Gov. Pat Quinn has signed three education bills aimed at preventing violence and encouraging reading and math. Quinn signed the trio of legislation Friday at a Chicago high school.”
  • Chicago TribuneIllinois high court to rule on $31B public works program, “The Illinois Supreme Court is expected to decide today the constitutionality of Gov. Pat Quinn’s showcase $31 billion public works program, with an adverse ruling likely to throw a state in financial turmoil into even deeper disarray.”
  • State Journal-RegisterAttorney general backs city police refusal to release records, “In denying Wilkins one of the reports, the city cited a section of the state Freedom of Information Act that allows public bodies to withhold documents considered preliminary or that contain opinions. And the Illinois attorney general’s office, which under state law acts as referee in FOIA disputes, agrees that the city can use the exemption to keep internal-affairs reports secret.”
  • Peoria Journal-Star (AP)Cost of Illinois workers increases as numbers fall, “The state delivered paychecks to 78,567 people in 2010 — 369 fewer than in the previous year, according to an analysis by the Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus. Despite that slight reduction, total payroll costs climbed $95 million to $4.45 billion, an increase of about 2.3 percent.”
  • Rockford Register Star (AP)Illinois tax hearings aim at fairness, not loss of revenue, “In the lead-up to hearings on taxes that have businesses threatening to leave the state, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton concedes that the state’s tax structure may be unfair, but says any ideas emerging from the hearings should have one thing in common — no decrease in the cash-poor state’s bottom line.”

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Statewide update—July 8, 2011

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Chicago Sun-TimesUnion asks arbitrator to decide if Quinn can cancel raises, “A major state employee union asked an arbitrator Thursday to decide whether Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn can cancel scheduled raises for thousands of workers. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees sought the ruling after Quinn announced last week he was ditching the $75 million in raises for 30,00 workers to help deal with the state’s budget crisis.”

  • Chicago TribuneQuinn revamps board of troubled college tuition program, “Quinn named five new appointees — half of the 10-member board of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission — following the financial developments that shook confidence in the College Illinois program and worried parents who want to make sure their children’s tuition bills will be paid. Investors are pressing for changes in the program, which now is under review by the state auditor general.”
  • Belleville News-DemocratDeal made for IDNR manager to resign, still collect pension, “A state ethics commission has recommended the firing of Scott Flood, a politically connected regional manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, because he slept on the job and violated other policies. But, rather than firing him, IDNR has allowed Flood to resign, effective July 15, so he could become vested in the State Employees Retirement System and can collect a pension when he’s old enough, according to state documents.”
  • News-GazetteEditorial: Pay hike pledge subject of dispute, “The biggest question, however, is why a state so deeply in debt and with such serious ongoing financial problems negotiated the pay raises to begin with. Illinois is effectively bankrupt, maintaining operations by not paying its bills in a timely fashion.”

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Statewide update—July 7, 2011

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Daily HeraldQuinn signs bill giving county boards more oversight authority, “Calling it ‘a good step forward’ toward ethics, honesty and openness in local government, Gov. Pat Quinn Wednesday signed legislation giving suburban county boards more financial supervision over the agencies they appoint. The new law, which Quinn signed during a stop in Wheaton, is in part a response to financial scandals involving two DuPage County agencies.”

  • Chicago Sun-TimesClout-heavy concessionaire could lose contract at O’Hare, “The gravy train is about to end for a clout-heavy O’Hare Airport concessionaire whose partners have included veteran political operative Jeremiah Joyce, one of former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s closest friends in politics.”
  • State Journal-Register (AP)Quinn aide: Pay superintendents from local tax, “Budget director David Vaught said the 44 superintendents should be paid from the personal property replacement tax, which corporations and business partnerships pay instead of local property taxes. State government collects the money as an income tax and sends it to schools, cities, counties and other local governments.”
  • Daily HeraldJudge Evans not on board with Preckwinkle’s plan, “Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans is the lone holdout of county board President Toni Preckwinkle’s planned management overhaul of government operations. Evans argued that his office isn’t under the purview of the county board and he has already launched his own reforms.
  • Lake County News-SunSurplus means tax cut in Avon Township, “Avon Township officials said Wednesday the township has a larger-than-expected surplus which will be applied to planned reductions on next year’s taxes. ‘People don’t realize the extent of overspending and waste at the local level,’ said Supervisor Sam Yingling.”

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