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Statewide update—March 3, 2011

SouthtownStarMcQueary: Crestwood ridicules tainted water concerns, “…the newsletter cherry-picks parts of an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency report and claims ‘media frenzy, subsequent exploitive legal and political actions’ fueled a non-issue — that being the reality that Crestwood for nearly a decade blended Lake Michigan water with an old well that tested positive for a cancer-causing agent.”

  • Daily HeraldSunshine a major part of democracy, “Sunshine Week was created six years ago by the American Society of Newspaper Editors to shine a light on the importance of open government and freedom of information. There has never been a more important time for us to discuss this.”
  • Trib Local (Niles)Ex-mayor ends prison term, returns to Niles, “Nicholas Blase, who spent nearly a half-century as the mayor of Niles before resigning and pleading guilty in a insurance kickback scheme, is a free man today after completing his yearlong prison sentence.”

 

 

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Statewide update—Feb. 22, 2011

Daily HeraldIllinois among leaders in total school districts, “Illinois, which has 868 school districts, has far more than the two states closest to it in population. Pennsylvania has 501 school districts and Ohio operates 610, according to numbers from those states.”

  • Daily HeraldConflict concern in Ela township, “One of John Barrington’s duties as Ela Township assessor is to estimate market values for most property for tax purposes. His wife’s job is to challenge those numbers and get them reduced for her clients. When she does, she collects a commission.”
  • Chicago TribunePower company holds off on cleaning up Chicago-area coal plans, “In recently filed documents, Midwest Generation signaled it might delay installing pollution controls at its six coal-fired power plants ‘for the maximum time available,’ making it more likely the aging units will keep churning out high levels of lung- and heart-damaging soot for most of the decade.”
  • Belleville News Democrat—Belleville man’s second appeal to stop Walmart TIF fails, “A Belleville man’s second appeal to stop the taxpayer incentives for a Belleville Walmart Supercenter development failed. The 5th District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon on Feb. 7 affirmed St. Clair County Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto’s September 2009 ruling that the land was blighted, qualifying it for tax increment financing.”
  • Peoria Journal StarDecatur model a TIF option, “The East Village Growth Cell, unlike the city’s other TIF districts, focuses on residential properties and would be designed to generate additional property tax revenues for home repairs such as new roofing, siding, porches, windows, driveways, etc.”

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Statewide update—Feb. 18, 2011

Peoria Journal StarFederal panel says workers were fired by Blagojevich reps for being Republicans, “A federal jury found Thursday that 16 former workers with the Illinois Department of Transportation were fired seven years ago by representatives of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich because they were Republicans.”

  • State Journal RegisterQuinn plan targets more than 500 school districts for merger, “The state offers financial assistance to districts that consolidate, including guarantees of no loss in state aid, help in covering disparities in teacher salaries between the merging districts and an extra $4,000 for each certified staff member for three years.”
  • (AP) Bloomington PantagraphQuinn’s budget calls for 950 new state workers, “The administration said adding some jobs will actually save money because some state agencies, particularly the Corrections Department, are spending huge amounts on overtime as guards work long hours to make up for a staff shortage.”
  • SouthtownStarSheriff ‘appalled’ at cemetery’s treatment of bodies, “Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart called for a review of its contract with the cemetery at a news conference in which he criticized the operation for haphazard practices and restated his belief the state needs legislation requiring DNA collection on all unidentified bodies.”
  • The SouthernPoverty hits children hard, “The child poverty rate in Illinois jumped from 17 percent in 2008 to 19 percent in 2009, which was the highest level since 1993…”

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Statewide update—Feb. 15, 2011

  • (AP) State Journal RegisterQuinn signs bill limiting free mass transit access, “Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Monday that ends a policy of letting all senior citizens ride free on mass transit systems. Now, elderly people above a certain income level will have to pay.”
  • (Gatehouse News Service) Peoria Journal StarExpect Quinn to seek more cuts, new taxes, “Even with higher income taxes, Illinois won’t have enough money to pay all its expenses for the coming year, let alone cover the billions in old bills that have been allowed to pile up.”
  • State Journal RegisterIDOT hiring case in hands of federal jury, “Either 16 Republicans were fired from their former jobs at the Illinois Department of Transportation early in the reign of Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich because of their party affiliation, or IDOT leaders at the time were just trying to follow budget office orders to reduce headcount – and didn’t even know which party label fit some of the 16.”
  • SouthtownStarPreckwinkle donor gets job, big pay, “Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is recommending that the board approve a huge pay raise — more than $43,000 — for one of her newest hires, a high-ranking staffer who’s been a regular contributor to her campaigns.”
  • SouthtownStarJudge orders new hearing in Oak Lawn election case, “A Cook County judge on Monday ruled that a challenge to the nominating petitions of an Oak Lawn trustee candidate should return to the village’s election board for an evidence hearing.”

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Statewide Update—Feb. 10, 2011

  • Chicago TribuneNew report details scope of public pension shortfalls, “Chicago’s Civic Federation will release a report Thursday that shows the unfunded liabilities for 10 city and county pension funds grew sixfold from 2000 to 2009, with shortfalls now totaling nearly $23 billion.”
  • Daily HeraldCook public defender joins Alvarez in balking against budget cuts, “The Cook County public defender has joined State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez in opposing cuts proposed by county board President Toni Preckwinkle, raising the possibility the 2011 budget could unravel within three weeks of the deadline for passage.”
  • Daily HeraldDaley, airlines can’t reach airport deal, “After a high-stakes powwow in Washington between Daley and airline executives, which U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood brokered, the parties said there was no agreement on what airlines should pay for the ongoing expansion at the major air-travel hub.”
  • (Gatehouse News Service) Peoria Journal StarCullerton: Pension cuts unconstitutional, “Illinois Senate President John Cullerton on Wednesday tossed cold water on the idea of reducing future pension benefits for current state workers, but House Speaker Michael Madigan appeared to forge ahead anyway.”

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Statewide Update—Jan. 31, 2011

  • The Southern—Public takes advantage of changes to open government laws, “Instead of filing a lawsuit, members of the public can ask the Public Access Bureau in the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to review withheld documents or meetings complaints, to make sure government bodies are not violating the Freedom of Information Act or the Open Meetings Act.”
  • (AP) Rockford Register Star—Pat Quinn to sign historic civil unions legislation, “Five states already allow civil unions or their equivalent, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Five other states and Washington, D.C., let gay couples marry outright, as do countries including Canada, South Africa and the Netherlands.”
  • State Journal-Register—Lawmakers seeking more money from state retirees for health care, “The legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability will meet Wednesday to talk with two Quinn administration officials about how the state can craft an income-based formula for how much retirees will have to pay.”
  • Daily Herald—Law firm donates to DuPage board members, wins contract, “Nine of the 15 DuPage County Board members who approved a no-bid contract for an Itasca law firm to help redraw the county’s electoral boundaries have accepted campaign contributions from the group or its attorneys, a review by the Daily Herald and the Better Government Association shows.”
  • Chicago Tribune—CTA puts brakes on talk of closing Red Line stations, “The agency is in the early stages of soliciting feedback for an overhaul of the north branch of the Red Line and the Purple Line, from about Belmont north through Evanston and to Linden in Wilmette.”
  • Rockford Register Star—Lawsuit for Harlem Township records nears its end, “The township also has called the Freedom of Information Act requests by Mullins unduly burdensome and argues that some of the records she requested simply are not on file at the township.”

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Statewide Update—Jan. 27, 2011

  • Bloomington Pantagraph—Republicans outline redistricting plans, “Even though their party won’t have much say in this year’s redistricting process, state House Republican staff are looking at preliminary census figures to draw their own version of a proposed legislative map.”
  • The Southern—More charges filed against former deputy, “Former Saline County chief sheriff deputy and Harrisburg school district board president Todd Fort, already jailed on sex and misconduct charges, has been indicted by a Saline County grand jury on two counts of theft of governmental property.”

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