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Odds and ends***UPDATED X1***

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2008

* This was too good to pass up. From an NFIB press release…

Comptroller Dan Hynes will address a gathering of small business owners from the Springfield area tomorrow, February 28. The Springfield meeting is being hosted by Illinois’ leading small business association, the National Federation of Independent Business.

Hynes will discuss his recent report to the Legislature, which delivered a sobering reality check on the state’s fiscal health. Employers will also receive an update from NFIB State Director Kim Maisch on what to expect in the 2008 spring legislative session.

The location? Evans Disaster Restoration

Fitting.

* The Illinois Business Roundtable wants voters to reject a Constitutional Convention when it comes up for a vote this November. I have yet to find any state that was worse off after a ConCon, so I think this is an overreaction. [Hat tip: DJW]

* My former intern, Paul Richardson, is planning a Statehouse visit today. We’ll probably be gathering someplace tonight. Not sure where, yet.

* I was formally accepted as a member of the Union League Club today. I can’t believe I didn’t get blackballed.

*4:50 P.M. - Paul has just arrived, and we will be at the steakhouse formerly know as Remy’s at 7 p.m. tonight. All are welcome.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2008

* All the other topics are so heavy today, so let’s keep this one light

Tribune Co. CEO Sam Zell said Tuesday he won’t hesitate to sell the naming rights to Wrigley Field — even if baseball purists don’t like the idea.

“Wrigley is an obvious world-wide icon and Wrigley Field is world-wide known. But, in the world of economics, when I bought the Tribune, I didn’t get a discount because I wasn’t going to use the naming rights that field represents,” Zell said in an interview on the CNBC program “Squawk Box.” […]

“Excuse me for being sarcastic, but the idea of a debate occurring over what I should do with my asset leaves me somewhat questioning the integrity of the debate. . . . There’s a lot of people who would like to buy the Cubs and would like to buy the Cubs under their terms and conditions and, unfortunately, have to deal with me,” Zell told a CNBC interviewer.

* Question: What would be a fitting corporate name for that ballpark?

- Posted by Rich Miller   78 Comments      


Blagojevich: Tear down Cole Hall

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2008

* This may seem like a fitting tribute on its face

Governor Rod Blagojevich’s office says the building that was the scene of this month’s shooting at Northern Illinois University will be demolished and replaced with a new classroom building.

A gunman fatally shot five students attending a lecture inside Cole Hall before turning a gun on himself on Valentine’s Day.

Blagojevich plans an afternoon news conference to announce funding that will allow NIU to demolish Cole Hall. A new state-of-the-art general classroom building will be built on the site and named Memorial Hall.

But, as IlliniPundit also notes, I can’t help but wonder whether this is just another empty promise made without first identifying a funding source. It may not seem fair to appear so cynical at a time like this, but I’d hate to see expectations raised for no good reason.

This is our first discussion thread on the NIU shootings, so try to keep everything toned down in comments. Thanks.

…Adding… The facts weren’t completely clear when I first posted this, so some commenters need to take a deep breath…

* From what I gather, NIU officials were the ones who developed the idea and presented it to the governor’s office. So, it wasn’t some purely political thing concocted by Blagojevich as some commenters are claiming.

* Local legislators Sen. Burzynski and Rep. Pritchard have been involved in the discussions with the university and the governor’s staff about the proposal. They will reportedly introduce legislation to get additional bond authority and a supplemental appropriation for the project.

- Posted by Rich Miller   81 Comments      


Rezko reaction and impact

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2008

* This week’s tun of events have set the Statehouse ablaze with talk about Tony Rezko’s trial and the impact on Gov. Blagojevich

Reverberating through the Capitol was the question of whether the governor’s political standing had been mortally wounded by the official connection to the corruption case at a time when state finances are sinking.

“It doesn’t help anybody. It doesn’t help him. It doesn’t help us. It doesn’t help the people of the state,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat who’s often quarreled with the governor.

“This is just something that doesn’t help the cause,” Madigan said. “Better that it had not have happened.”

* Others weigh in

“I don’t think the revelation yesterday will do much practical damage to him,” said Chris Mooney, a political studies professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “I think the damage of this investigation has already been done, at least up to this point. The fact that everybody now knows he is Public Official A, rather than just assuming it, isn’t going to make much difference.” […]

“People who thought he was a liar will be satisfied because they now have confirmation,” said David Morrison, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. “And people who stood by him for other issues will perhaps acknowledge that he’s got bigger legal troubles than they thought.” […]

“The George Ryan experience suggests that once the U.S. attorney puts the light on the incumbent governor, the media will chase that public official in every venue to try to get them to expose themselves,” said Doug Whitley, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

* This administration statement didn’t go down too well

A Blagojevich press office statement said, “We don’t know anything. The governor was never involved,” echoing what the governor’s been saying since these allegations first 2 ½ years ago. […]

“I think the governor has a real disconnect with reality,” Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) said in a phone interview. “To continue to deny that he’s Official A is tantamount to lunacy.”

* But the governor’s office modified its response somewhat with other reporters

“Yesterday’s disclosure repeats what’s already been reported, and doesn’t change our position,” Ottenhoff said. “So our hope is that legislators will base their decisions on the stimulus plan and other important issues based on their communities’ needs.”

What do you think will be the legislative impact of the Rezko trial?

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


New revelations about upcoming Rezko trial

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2008

* Let’s take a quick look at new revelations about the upcoming Rezko trial

Gubernatorial fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko had so much influence with the state of Illinois, state hiring officials not only took his advice on who to employ, but they came to his office to get it, a new federal government filing alleges.

In Rezko’s upcoming trial, federal prosecutors plan to call Jennifer Thomas, an assistant to Joseph Cini, “who was the point person for hiring within a number of state agencies,” said the government.

“Thomas will testify that from approximately late March or early April 2003 through November 2003, she and Cini attended regular meetings at Rezko’s office where Rezko provided names and information on candidates not only for state agency jobs but also vacancies on boards and commissions,” the government wrote.

* A bit of history on that office…

Nearly two years ago, Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s inspector general issued a searing confidential rebuke that called the governor’s patronage office “the real machine driving hiring” in one state agency for jobs that were supposed to be free of political influence. […]

“This effort reflects not merely an ignorance of the law, but complete and utter contempt for the law,” wrote Zaldwaynaka “Z.” Scott, who served as Blagojevich’s first executive inspector general under an ethics law he signed. Scott, who left the post to join a private law firm last year, said she could not comment on her report. […]

The inspector general’s findings take on added significance after [the] disclosure that U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald is looking into allegations of “endemic hiring fraud” within Blagojevich’s administration.

* The prosecution’s first witness was also disclosed…

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s former campaign finance director will be the leadoff witness at next week’s fraud trial of political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Kelly Glynn, who was finance director of the Friends of Rod Blagojevich campaign fund, may be on the witness stand before the end of next week as the projected three- to four-month trial gets under way

* The feds laid out the scam

“Rezko parlayed his success in raising significant sums of money for Gov. Blagojevich into power by gaining access to high-ranking Illinois officials, being given deference in filing board and job positions, and by influencing how certain boards conducted business,” prosecutors said. “At base, Rezko’s power and importance flowed from his ability to raise money.”

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Levine’s secret life and a Rezko prediction

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2008

We’re going to break up this Rezko stuff into different posts because there is so much ground to cover today. Try to stick to the topic at hand in your comments. Thanks.

* Much of this sordid information about Stu Levine has already surfaced, but it’s still not very pretty

A source close to the case against Rezko says star government witness Stuart Levine led a secret life of illicit drugs and all-night sex parties, and may have a faulty memory. […]

The source said Levine is alleged to have led a “secret life” in which he allegedly engaged in all-night drug-fueled sex parties, some in hotels in Lincolnwood and Springfield. He also is alleged to have been seen using drugs in his office during business hours.

This allegedly happened while Levine was working for the federal government as its star witness against Rezko and other defendants, the source said.

I can’t help but wonder whether the feds knew about this activity at the time and covered up for Levine.

And, again, please avoid any speculation in comments. Thanks.

* The end of the story contained this prediction…

[CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller] says he would not be surprised if Rezko cuts a deal with the feds in the few days remaining before his trial. Such a deal would have him plead guilty to lesser charges in return for telling prosecutors everything he knows.

What do you think about that?

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Feb 27, 2008

* “My Way”

Two House Democrats are trying to take a different route than the governor to expand state-sponsored health insurance to 147,000 adults. They’re using legislation, something Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to do last year but got nowhere.

* Blagojevich health plan blocked again

For the second time in three months, a state legislative panel has rejected Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s request to allow 147,000 parents and caretakers to buy discounted health insurance through the state’s FamilyCare program.

* Panel rejects expansion of Family Care

* The possibilty of seventeen-year olds voting

* Bill to lower voting age to 17 goes to House floor for debate

An Illinois House committee voted 5-3 to advance the proposal onto the floor for debate.

* Illinois House gets proposal on voting age

* Oberweis, Foster largely bankrolling own campaigns

* Did Jim Oberweis Violate the “Millionaires’ Amendment”?

* Foster, Oberweis talk Iraq, taxes and values

“That’s something people understand.” Foster said an “orderly and promptly” withdrawal should begin, but he didn’t give a specific date, saying military leaders should decide exactly when.

* Foster, Oberweis face off on health care

* Oberweis believes in health care for cows, not people

* Is Stroger ready to make a deal?

On the table and set for a vote today are tax plans that could ultimately end up costing you more to buy a plane ticket, a drink at a bar, a car, hotel room, clothing or other merchandise.

* County budget deal ready if Stroger agrees

* Stroger sales tax increase dies, but Cook commissioners weigh smaller bite

* Do or Die Time for Cook County Budget

* Judge approves sale of Canton plant

* City auditor caught living in suburb

* IHSA photo policy brings audit call

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   2 Comments      


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Wednesday, Feb 27, 2008

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This just in… JCAR votes to block guv’s health plan *** Foster claims lead *** House members will propose bill to codify guv’s JCAR proposal ***

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008

*** 1:20 pm *** The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted 8-2 this morning to block the governor’s health care expansion plan.

JCAR and the administration have been deadlocked over the issue since the governor ordered his agencies to ignore JCAR’s ruling that they couldn’t expand health care with vetoed budget money last year. Some additional background on today’s specific vote is here.

* The AP notes

Administration officials hurriedly left the committee hearing room after the vote without taking questions.

* But the governor’s office just released this statement…

JCAR has provided its input. We will move forward and continue to, within the parameters of the law, assist the uninsured in getting access to affordable coverage as well as helping to protect coverage for working parents within the FamilyCare program.

Your guess is as good as mine on what that means.

* My intern Kevin Fanning was at the meeting and filed this report…

After a few introductory questions were asked, Representative Lou Lang fired the first shot:

“Where do you have the money?”

To which the administration officials replied, “In our budget.”

“But if there wasn’t a surplus, and you added a program that wasn’t already there, where is the money coming from?” Lang asked.

The panel had no answer to the question, and more grilling ensued. Finally, Lang asked “Why did you even come to JCAR in the first place?” to which the increasingly angry panel replied: “Because we wanted to go through the process.”

Representative Fritchey added to the fray when he stated, “All we’re being told is ‘Don’t worry we can pay for it.’ How? ‘Don’t worry we can pay for it.’ Help us help yourselves.”

A member of the administration responded: “It shouldn’t be like Mother may I.”

With that Representative Lang made the motion to block the expansion. The motion was seconded, and subsequently passed 8 to 2. The director of DHFS stormed out of the meeting before it formally adjourned.

I asked Representative Lang if he considered the hearing a proxy war with the administration. “The Governor’s office will consider this a battle over process,” Lang said. “They will say that nothing is more important than healthcare. I will say that nothing is more important than the Constitution of the State of Illinois. If the Governor wants to provide healthcare, then I will sit down and join him in that effort, but he needs to come to the General Assembly.”

“We’re going to see if the administration proceeds to continue a program that we’ve now denied twice. We have something on the third floor of the Capitol called the Illinois General Assembly, and if they’re interested in changing the laws of the state of Illinois they can come there with a bill like everybody else. They can propose a law in bill form, and we will vote for it up or down. I might even vote for it. They consider JCAR to be advisory.”

*** 1:51 pm *** Congressional Democratic candidate Bill Foster just released a new poll which shows him leading Republican Jim Oberweis…

This is a special election, held on a Saturday, so polling may not be all that much help. The ground game is gonna be very important and Foster claims superiority there.

The poll itself had just 402 respondents and was taken over a four-day period (Feb. 21-24). It has a rather high margin of error of 4.9 percent.

* More from Foster’s poll

Foster continues to hold a significant lead (47%-25%) among the critical segment of voters who identify themselves as Independents. Foster has also succeeded in consolidating his party behind him following the primary, as 89% of self-identified Democrats now say they will vote for the businessman and scientist. On the flip side, Oberweis’ biggest problem is his failure to consolidate his party following the negative and divisive Republican primary. Just 76% of self-identified Republicans say they will vote for Oberweis, a number which is less surprising when we see an astonishing 11% of Republicans who are STRONGLY unfavorable to him, a number which has not changed at all since the first survey we conducted (an additional 2% hold somewhat unfavorable views).

The party results have a much larger MoE, of course, so take those numbers with a grain of salt.

* 2:01 pm -
From Taegan Goddard

LegiStorm launched a database of personal financial disclosures for thousands of the most powerful congressional aides.

By law, members of Congress and their highest paid staff are required annually to disclose information about their personal finances, including details about their debts, investments, outside earned income, spousal employment, major gifts received and even their gambling winnings.

*** 2:43 pm *** Reps. David Miller and John Fritchey just held a Statehouse press conference to announce they would sponsor legislation to codify the governor’s health care proposals which were once again rejected by JCAR this morning.

Miller and Fritchey said that their disagreement with the governor wasn’t necessarily over policy, but process. So, the governor’s proposals ought to be subjected to the will of the entire General Assembly, not just JCAR. More in a bit.

UPDATE: From the Miller-Fritchey press release…

“From the beginning, we have maintained that we fully support the principle of providing access to quality, affordable health care,” Fritchey, a co-sponsor of the bill, said. “Our concern has been rooted in the means by which the Governor has sought to do it. An initiative of this scope and importance should go through the Legislature, and that is what we are attempting to do with this bill.”

And here’s the bill: HB 6297

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      


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Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008

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Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008

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Question of the day

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008

* Congressional candidate Jim Oberweis has this on his website about the state of health insurance in America….

The problem is, the health care delivery system we’ve created for ourselves — a “third party payer” system, in which most Americans get their health insurance through their employer — creates perverse incentives, and, because the consumer of the health services is divorced from paying for those services, offers no incentives to manage health care costs better. Moreover, too many workers are left in a “job lock,” where they are afraid to move to a new job because they would lose their current health insurance coverage. That stifles economic growth and increased productivity, and is a further drain on our national economy.

Oberweis proposes abandoning employer health insurance and moving towards things like health savings accounts.

* Question: Do you agree or disagree with Oberweis? Explain fully.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      


Um, well, maybe not

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008

* As I’ve said before, Martin Ozinga’s name is being floated as a possible successor to former 11th Congressional District GOP congressional candidate Tim Baldermann. The Pantagraph tried to reach him, but he’s out of the country

Among those mulling a run include Martin Ozinga III, owner of a Chicago-area concrete and construction company.

‘’He has been contacted. He is considering it,'’ his assistant, Margie Nelson, said Monday.

* But there could be a big problem with Ozinga. Larry found this Tribune story from 2005…

The boldly striped red and white cement trucks have long been a common sight in Chicago, pouring concrete for miles of curbs and sidewalks as well as for skyscrapers, Comiskey Park and Navy Pier.

The trucks have brought their owners, Ozinga Bros. Inc., tens of millions of dollars in city contracts and launched members of the family-owned firm to noted positions in local political and charitable circles.

But behind the scenes, documents and interviews show, the Ozinga firm repeatedly dodged city rules and exploited an affirmative-action program to win lucrative contracts.

As City Hall wrestles with scandals in its programs to lift minority- and women-owned businesses, the Ozingas provide a case study in how a white-owned company can work the system–and win.

The company’s actions include creating a spinoff concrete firm in the 1980s to win city business reserved exclusively for minority-owned companies. Martin, Richard and James Ozinga–all white men–enlisted the help of two African-American churches in Chicago’s depressed South Side, giving nine church members 51 percent ownership to technically meet the city’s rules.

But two of the African-American church members now say the spinoff company was bogus and that minorities had little control of the business. “It was a classic front,” church member Henry Washington says.

Hmm. That wouldn’t be good.

* Meanwhile, OneMan lets loose on those who have criticized Jim Oberweis for having a capital fund that invests in Asia, and whacks Bill Foster for skipping more debates before next month’s special election. Go take a look.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Red herrings, serious holes and the real deal

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008

* The least popular thing to do in Illinois is question the sainted Patrick Fitzgerald. The US Attorney has put “The Fear” into almost every politician in this state, so it’s difficult to find fault.

However, a ruling yesterday by U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve yesterday has made me rethink parts of Tony Rezko’s prosecution. I went through a bunch of this with subscribers already, so let’s just look at this one avenue here

The ruling disclosed another alleged transaction involving Blagojevich’s campaign fund. Rezko promised a businessman an appointment to a state post in exchange for a $50,000 political donation to the governor, according to prosecutors.

Joseph Cacciatore allegedly asked Rezko to help his brother, Phil, land a spot on the Illinois Banking Board. Rezko said it would happen if he kicked in $25,000 to the governor’s campaign fund. Rezko offered to contribute another $25,000 through one of his companies on behalf of Cacciatore, according to the ruling.

Phil Cacciatore did get that Banking Board spot, but there are no corresponding contributions on the State Board of Elections website.

* Why is this important? Because Judge St. Eve said that prosecutors could use the alleged Cacciatore scam to buttress a charge against Rezko. The charge centers on an alleged shakedown of Tom Rosenberg for a $1.5 million campaign contribution to Blagojevich. That story has lots of its own serious holes, not the least of which is star witness Stu Levine’s credibility and his alleged $25,000 a month drug habit

“Two federal fraud indictments did not motivate Levine to plead guilty,” Rezko’s attorneys wrote in a 16-page filing, many parts of it redacted. “Rather, the evidence shows that Levine was fearful that the government would discover his secret life” and that Levine began cooperating only after learning that the government “had discovered and was investigating his secret life.

“As much as the government would like to describe Levine’s [redacted] as merely [redacted], the fact that each such affair involved [redacted] and all-night sessions fueled by huge quantities of illegal drugs gives Levine much more to hide, and much more to fear.”

They really want to get this out, but I’m not gonna help. You shouldn’t, either. Don’t risk being banned.

* And this is a bit weird, too

Monday’s ruling indicated that prosecutors allege that Kjellander served as a straw man for Rezko in the bond deal. Rezko, the ruling suggested, directed the investment bank Bear Stearns to give the fee to Kjellander, who then transferred $600,000 of the $809,000 fee to Joseph Aramanda, a Rezko business associate. Aramanda then allegedly turned over $450,000 to four other people designated by Rezko.

In an interview Monday, Kjellander said he made a “loan” to Aramanda “because I got a very favorable interest rate. That loan was repaid before the due date, and I made a very nice profit on the interest.”

So, if Kj loaned the money to Aramanda, what, exactly is the beef with Kj? Judge St. Eve decided that this particular avenue would be inadmissable evidence against Rezko. I’m not sure why prosecutors even brought it up, except to throw more mud on the defendant, which is not their job.

* This is mostly irrelevant

In Monday’s ruling, Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, Lon Monk, was mentioned as signing off on Levine’s reappointments.

Since Monk was the chief of staff, he probably signed off on all appointments.

* All that being said, there are some obvious problems with the Blagojevich administration and serious charges against Rezko. For instance, because this contribution actually exists, I give this bit of evidence more weight

According to the ruling, Rezko and Levine met at a dinner party on Nov. 2, 2002—just three days before Blagojevich defeated Jim Ryan for governor. At the time, Rezko was one of Blagojevich’s biggest fundraisers and Levine, Jim Ryan’s law school classmate, was the largest single contributor to Ryan’s campaign for governor.

The party was hosted by Fortunee Massuda, a shareholder in Rezko’s pizza business, and her husband, Charles Hannon, according to the ruling. In 2003, Blagojevich appointed Massuda to the state’s Health Facilities Planning Board, just weeks after she gave Blagojevich’s campaign $25,000. Prosecutors contend Hannon was to be the recipient of a bogus consulting fee from an investment firm awarded business by the Teachers Retirement System, on whose board Levine sat, St. Eve said in her ruling. The fee is alleged to have been arranged by Rezko and Levine.

I’m not sure if that fee was ever paid. But there is that campaign contribution, and that’s all bad for the governor. There were others just like it around that time.

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      


Tax gimmick proposed for Wrigley deal

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008

* Relaxing Wrigley Field’s landmark status is no big thing with me. It would be stupid for anybody to drastically change the look of the place, since the park is what really sells tickets, but if that’s what they want to do, then go for it. I care not.

But this new tax instrument idea is very troubling

The Tribune Co.’s plan to have a state agency acquire and renovate Wrigley Field would require the city to relax the ballpark’s landmark status and forfeit for 30 years the sales tax growth generated by the remodeling, a top official said Monday.

More on the new tax thingy…

The Wrigley renovation would be financed by bonds retired by increased stadium revenues — everything from naming rights, sponsorships and concessions to clubs seats and additional skyboxes. The Tribune Co. would get a higher price for the stadium because ISFA can issue tax-exempt, longer-term bonds at a reduced interest rate.

Thompson described the arrangement as a sales tax version of tax-increment-financing (TIF). But, instead of freezing property taxes at existing levels and using the growth for business subsidies and infrastructure improvements within the district, the sales tax increment generated by the stadium renovation would be used to modernize Wrigley.

“The city would have to give up their share of sales tax increment for the next 30 years,” Thompson said.

Too cute by half. And, notice, there’s no estimate given for how much revenue the city would lose.

* Everybody keeps quoting Same Zell and Jim Thompson on this subject, but do you ever wonder how potential team buyers feel? Crain’s had a piece recently that suggested it wasn’t going down all that well…

Would-be owners fear being saddled with decades of rent payments to compensate Tribune for a ballpark they’ll never own. That would crimp cash flow that otherwise could be spent on signing All-Stars in pursuit of a long-elusive World Series championship, they say.

“That is money not going . . . for the benefit of the team or fans,” says a member of another bidding group who also requested anonymity. “It is just rent out of the team’s pocket (that could pay) for salaries that is being capitalized into a lump sum for Tribune’s benefit.”

No way. No freaking way.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Morning shorts

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2008

* States reach bridge deal

* Don’t rush changes in early voting

* Officials still working on power at fairgrounds

“Overall, the fairgrounds needs some major overhaul as far as the electrical systems,” Reitz said Monday. “They don’t have the money to make all of the upgrades they need to do. They fix the problems as they happen. It’s just another need, and it’s not in the budget.”

* Sales tax showdown set for Stroger, board

But those dire warnings have failed to persuade most of the board’s 17 commissioners to back Stroger’s $3.2 billion budget plan, which now calls for increasing the county sales tax to 2 percent from 0.75 percent. That increase would boost the overall

* No deal yet on Cook Co, taxes, budget

* Clean Machines: State deploys decontamination units to speed response to emergencies

* Bradley Worried About Economy

* Governors wrestle with tight budget times

In Illinois, Comptroller Dan Hynes’ report prompted the governor’s office to disclose the $750 million hole in this budget. Not only do lawmakers have to worry about how to come up with enough money to pay next year’s expenses, they need to find more cash this year — or make spending cuts.

* Study: Senators abusing system

Most of the research focuses on officials who paid family members for fundraising and campaign work, and senators whose family members are lobbyists. It also details which senators reimbursed themselves with money from their campaign committees.

* Panel weighs fate of retired racehorses

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   4 Comments      


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        * School Funding Reform Town Hall Meeting May 11 .....
        * Growing pension contributions a concern in new .....
        * Our view: Not the right school funding reform bill..
        * Fed Up with Jet Noise? Call Your State Represen.....
        * New IDOC director says union contracts causing .....
        * Mount Zion board quashes 'Turnaround Agenda' re.....
        * Madigan Forms Budget Oversight Committie..
        * Rauner's dangerous talk of Chicago schools bank.....


        * US couple sentenced to prison in Bali suitcase killing
        * Fiery crash kills Kansas couple in southwestern Illinois
        * GOP's Darin LaHood favored in race to replace Schock
        * Trucker gets three-year sentence in fatal Tollway crash
        * Former Chicago Bears linebacker Doug Buffone dead at 70
        * Chicago police officer cleared in woman's shooting death
        * Madison man pleads guilty in fatal hit-and-run of teen
        * Chicago police officer cleared in woman's shooting death
        * Interim Chicago schools chief calls for independent audit
        * GOP's LaHood remains front-runner in race to replace Schock

        * Davis: Improvement needed in Springfield VA clinic wait times
        * New IDOC director says union contracts causing problems
        * GOP's LaHood remains front-runner in race to replace Schock
        * Illinois House votes to limit specialty license plates
        * Senate Democratic leadership shuffle bruises Schumer-Durbin friendship
        * Hopes dim for school funding formula overhaul's passage
        * State education board member quits over superintendent hire
        * Statehouse Insider: We're getting to the bottom of this
        * Bernard Schoenburg: Bruce Rauner is no Jim Thompson on labor issue
        * Madigan forms committee to review Rauner budget activities

        * Why McDonald's is still a powerhouse
        * U of C braces for budget cuts
        * Chicago sending city households back to ComEd
        * Caterpillar hikes CEO pay to $17.1 million
        * Tribune Media pays up for top execs


          * 3 men shot to death, 2 hurt in separate shootings on South Side
          * Chicago couple sentenced to prison in Bali suitcase killing
          * Alvarez proposes steering minor drug offenders to treatment
          * Protesters gather after officer's acquittal in fatal shooting
          * Judge acquits Chicago cop in fatal off-duty shooting, sparking anger
          * Lawsuit over naked crime scene photos headed for trial
          * Trucker gets three years in prison for fatal I-88 crash
          * Judge says Berrios doesn't have to pay $10,000 ethics fine
          * Retired bishop recounts Cardinal George's final moments
          * 5th Schock staffer says he's been subpoenaed


          * Emergency room visits for mental health skyrocket in Chicago
          * Rauner's first 100 days: The fight between unions and Rauner
          * New Illinois education chief is urban school reform leader
          * Emanuel tells Spike Lee he doesn't like name 'Chiraq' for film
          * Chicago police officer cleared in woman's shooting death
          * Portage Park church mourns 'favorite son' Cardinal George
          * CPS Board president says Chicago schools under investigation
          * Cook County prosecutor to try new approach to drug crimes
          * Cardinal Francis George helped 'make his people holy'
          * Remembering Chicago's Cardinal Francis George


          * Davis: Improvement needed in Springfield VA clinic wait times
          * Our Opinion: Springfield still struggles to be tourist friendly
          * Kathleen Parker: 2016: The woman trap
          * Quote of the Day: Tuesday, April 21, 2015
          * New IDOC director says union contracts causing problems
          * GOP's LaHood remains front-runner in race to replace Schock
          * Illinois House votes to limit specialty license plates
          * Senate Democratic leadership shuffle bruises Schumer-Durbin friendship
          * Matt Dietrich: The dizzying agenda of Bruce Rauner
          * Hopes dim for school funding formula overhaul's passage


          * Area recycling efforts earn 'B,' still work to do
          * Teens’ e-cigs use must be clipped, and aggressively
          * Do you recognize any of these 'most wanted' fugitives?
          * What happened to our spring?
          * Whether college or Congress, life advice applies
          * Congressman still costing taxpayers millions
          * Royal Neighbors reports strong 2014
          * Curtis, Rice being honored for spiritual, community work
          * Middleton to compete for state queen title
          * ‘What Aaron Schock should have said’


          * IN Lottery
          * Prosecutors build case against traffickers as EU mulls plan
          * Eastern Illinois plans to talk ideas with community college
          * DNR opens 1,166 acres along Wabash River for public use
          * LEADING OFF: Carrasco back on mound after being hit

          * Money race begins for Congress next year
          * Northwestern students travel to Washington...
          * Bost Checks Out Traffic Safety Days
          * Transit representatives, state politicians...
          * Congressional Candidates Are Fundraising L...
          * Students stress importance of 4-H to Congress
          * Surprise! Couple's 'secret' twin birth rev...
          * FD: Family dog dies in 'suspicious' fire i...
          * I-90 Corridor STEM Forum focuses on growin...
          * Constituents meet with Congressman

          * Corinthian Colleges' Long And Winding Road......
          * Sharpton: GOP Opposes Loretta Lynch To ‘Se......
          * Durbin Meets With Illinois Fire Chiefs...
          * Durbin Cautions That Fair Competition In A......

          * Ex-military officials: Patchwork of same-s......
          * Citing Pope’s sermon, U.S. Senators introd......
          * Citing Pope’s sermon, Senators introduce A......
          * US Senators Introduce Genocide Centennial ......

          * Illinois Tobacco Quitline Closed Due To Budget Suspensions
          * Activist Group Starts Earth Week With Ad Campaign Highlighting BP Oil Spill
          * Report: Irregular Work Scheduling Affects 17 Percent Of U.S. Workers
          * Case Dismissed Against Chicago Police Detective In Rekia Boyd Shooting Death
          * Cardinal Francis George Has Died
          * Cook County State's Attorney Unveils 'Sweeping' Reforms To Drug Policies
          * Sports fans arguing about anything can result in some serious stupidity
          * Track Demolition To Close Wilson For A Week
          * Pensacola Place Sells For $66 Million
          * The Weekend In Chicago Rock


          * Illinoisans Receive Governor’s Volunteer Service Award - 6thAnnual Awards Ceremony to be Held on April 20thin Springfield
          * Get Smart About College Planning During Money Smart Week® - College Illinois!® 529 Prepaid Tuition Program offers tips to plan for--and afford--the cost of college
          * Motorcycle Season Revs Up, Riders Urged to “Gear Up-Ride Smart” - New Campaign Touts Staying Safe Through Proper Gear, Education
          * IDOT’s Operation Teen Safe Driving Program Announces 2014-15 Winning Schools - Innovative Program Helps Save Lives, Promotes Safe Driving Habits
          * State of Illinois Takes Action on Medical Cannabis Dispensary Applicants





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