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Question of the Day

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008

* Oliver Stone is directing a movie about George Bush called “W,” and Josh Brolin will be playing the embattled President.

Our Question of the Day consists of two parts. If a movie was made about Governor Blagojevich….

a) Who would you cast to play our embattled governor?


b) What title would you give the film?

* Let’s have some fun with this one…

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   81 Comments      

Your Daily Dose of Blago Blunder

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008

* The administration was doing so well today. No slip-ups, and some praise for the ‘deadbeat’ parent program. Then I came across this little diddy:

The Illinois auditor general says the state Public Health Department overpaid seven grants for stem-cell research by $863,000.

Auditor William Holland claims that more than half of the grants given by the administration were for more than originally agreed. Additionally, He says Public Health officials have no documentation explaining the overpayment.

The seven grants were supposed to amount to about $6.4 million. Instead, the recipients got $7.3 million. It gets better:

Holland also says there’s nothing to indicate the method used to determine how much Public Health would pay toward the governor’s failed court defense of restrictions on violent video games.

Public Health paid 14 percent of the total bill, plus some attorney fees. Administration spokeswomen haven’t returned calls for comment.

* In 2005 the governor made the controversial move of inserting millions of dollars into the state budget for stem cell research without telling lawmakers in advance.

Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold says that the state doesn’t currently have a budget for stem cell research, but doesn’t know what the next year could bring. Arnold and a spokesman for state Auditor General Bill Holland’s office both agree that the appearance of being over budget is a paperwork error:

“It is simply a difference in documentation,” Arnold said.

For lawmakers’ part, they’ve in past years considered various proposals concerning stem cell research, but Blagojevich moved largely on his own to begin awarding grants for such work.

That doesn’t sit well with some.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for private medical research,” said Dave Smith, director of the Illinois Family Institute.

* It’s a shame too, I had my fingers crossed that we could go 24 hours.

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   16 Comments      

Misdirected woes over Stateville

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008

* The Chicago Tribune published a story today about the possible effects of Stateville Prison’s closing of its maximum security wing on the families of the inmates.

Stateville is home to 3,280 prisoners and is the closest state correctional facility to Chicago and its growing suburbs. Rather than spend an estimated $100 million to renovate Stateville to the level of other maximum-security prisons, Blagojevich wants to close the section that houses the most violent criminals and ship them to more secure rural prisons hours away.

Some of the families have begun writing letters and speaking to lawmakers at budget forums, such as one held Tuesday at Kennedy-King College. They are organizing a bus trip to Springfield, where legislators will vote on the governor’s budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.

* Department of Corrections spokesman Derek Schnapp said, “We understand families are a very important part of an inmate’s success when they go out. That’s part of what makes this so tough. But the No. 1 issue for us is safety and security.”

If Stateville closes, some prisoners will be sent to the maximum-security wing of the next closest facility in Pontiac, 100 miles from Chicago. But others could be transferred to Thomson, which is 150 miles away from Chicago; to Menard, 350 miles away; or Tamms, 363 miles away.

The article cites the difficulties that will be placed on the families who would be affected by a transfer:

“I’m honestly afraid we’ll lose my brother if we can’t see him and talk with him face to face,” said Paula Carballido, 25, of Waukegan, whose 21-year-old brother, Juan, is four years into a 35-year murder sentence. “We don’t want him to disconnect, to break off from the family.”


Similarly, Cicero resident Pearlie White frequently comes to Stateville to visit the father of her 17-year-old son. The man, Steve Robinson, has been serving a life sentence, but White often brings her son so the two can have some kind of a relationship. Despite his incarceration, Robinson is a “father figure” for her son and teenage daughter, she said.

“They would not have a man in their lives if not for [Robinson],” White said. “It might not be the best situation, but it’s all we’ve got.”

* Buried in the article, however, is this caveat:

While the closing could mean the loss of hundreds of jobs at Stateville—and deal a financial hit to the communities around it—state officials acknowledge the blow to families could have the most far-reaching effect.

While I am sympathetic to the families that would be inconvenienced by this proposal, I think the focus of the article is on the wrong subjects. How about those hundreds of people who could lose their jobs?

This could result in the most far-reaching effect. In an economy that is inarguably in a recession this would be devastating to these families, and the surrounding community. Discuss.

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   31 Comments      

Millions for the cloutless

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008

* It’s a good day for ex-employs of City Hall who lost their job to a rigged hiring system. Federal hiring monitor Noelle Brennan plans to send out letters notifying around 1,400 plaintiffs of their awards:

To qualify for cash, claimants had to prove they were bypassed for jobs and promotions since Jan. 1, 2000.

“We ended up with about 1,500 submissions. Somewhere between 1,350 and 1,400 will be eligible for some award,” Brennan said last week.

The monitor refused to say whether anyone would receive the $100,000 maximum. With 1,400 claimants, the average award would be $8,571.

* Michael Shakman filed the landmark lawsuit that was supposed to end political hiring and firing.

Shakman said Tuesday he’s not surprised that Brennan has exhausted the $12 million fund. “The scale was massive,” he said. “There were wholesale violations of the rules on political hiring, promotions and discharge.”

* Over 1,500 people applied to be eligible to part of the $12 million fund created to compensate victims. Thoughts?

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   12 Comments      

State program cracks down on ‘deadbeat’ parents

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008

* A new state program is matching up hunting licenses against lists of parents behind on their payments is the state’s newest way to chip away at the long-standing problem of child-support collection. In the six months the program has been in effect, the state has collected nearly $130,000 from 90 parents.

Gov. Blagojevich vowed to improve on Illinois’ ranking among the nation’s worst at child support collection when he took office in 2003. Last year, the state collected a record $1.2 billion in payments. Despite some improvement in the last few years state officials say custodial parents, mostly women, still are owed $3.2 billion in back child support.

The new program is just one way to help chip away at the problem. A program launched several years ago withholds professional licenses, such as medical or accounting licenses, from parents behind in their child support.

In January, the state began sending warning notices to deadbeat parents threatening to suspend their driver’s licenses if they fail to start paying up within 60 days. More than $127,000 has been collected since.

llinois is trying to duplicate the success of other states, where people have paid large amounts to hunt. In Maine, one hunter paid $30,000 in back child support after being selected in an annual lottery for one of only 3,000 coveted licenses to hunt that state’s majestic moose.

The program seems to be working, and many are singing its praises:

“We think the program is good if the intent is to collect child support due to dependent minors,” said Jered Shofner, president of United Bowhunters of Illinois. “If that’s what they have to do to track them down, it’s a good thing.”

* What other avenues do you think the state could pursue to aid the problem?

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   25 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2008

* Transit backers seeking money

* Cops may face fitness tests

* Harassment suit against state fails

* Rule aims to limit non-medical laser use

* Naperville to dole out millions to cultural events, projects

* Skunks appear to be making a comeback in Illinois

“There aren’t too many things that really care to tangle with a skunk,” Bluett said. “Some of the raptors will, particularly owls. Skunks are nocturnal for the most part. Owls are nocturnal. They’re the ones that are more likely to pick them off and they don’t have a sense of smell so it doesn’t bother them.”

* Bottled water tax brings less revenue than expected

* Facebook Activism Adopted By IL State Rep Greg Harris - Civil Union LegislationPalatine Opportunity Center

* Lakeview Museum V.P. joins race for 18th District

* GOP congressional hopeful has history of giving to Democrats

* Republican Seeks Vacant House Slot in Illinois — Amid Democratic Flak

* Throwing big rocks

For sheer mean ignoramus-osity, we give the nod squarely to 8th District Republican congressional whizbang Steve Greenberg who has stirred up a 1,500 year blood feud by arguing his foe, Melissa Bean, is a secret friend and agent of Serbian Neo-Fascist terrorists.

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   12 Comments      

GOP appears to be cementing around Ozinga

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2008

* In an announcement Monday, GOP officials said they will wait until April 30 to decide who will challenge Sen. Debbie Halvorson to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller.

Martin Ozinga III is the president of Mokena-based Ozinga Bros., one of the largest material supply companies in the Midwest. A story broke in Chicago Business yesterday that Ozinga is likely to get the spot over another wealthy business owner, Harry Bond, president of Monical’s Pizza:

Knowledgeable party sources describe Mr. Ozinga, 58, as “the consensus candidate” and say he is likely to be formally made the party’s nominee when 11th-District committeemen meet on April 30. The party’s previous nominee, New Lennox Mayor Tim Baldermann, withdrew after the February primary, creating a vacancy on the November ballot.

Will County Republican Chairman Richard Kavanagh holds the heaviest weighted vote, and apparently he’s with Ozinga. However Chairmen in Kankakee, LaSalle, Bureau and McLean counties also have a sizeable vote in the replacement, and it seems like there is still some support left for Bond.

* Ozinga has a few issues though:

The Chicago Tribune three years ago described Ozinga Bros. as a classic case of a white-owned company working the system to win minority set-asides in the city of Chicago’s contracting program. According to the story, the Ozingas forged relationships with black church leaders who then took over part of the business.

The church leaders claimed they were not included in day-to-day decisions; Ozinga told the Tribune it was a sincere effort to involve minorities in his enterprise. When it failed, he reached out to other minorities, who were able to turn a profit.

And this:

“…word of his selection already is drawing fire from some party activists, who note that he has been a major donor to Gov. Rod Blagojevich, giving the Chicago Democrat $10,000 late in 2005.”

Federal Election Commission records also show that Mr. Ozinga has given $6,000 to Rep. Weller since 2001, as well as a $1,000 donation to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. The donations to Durbin and Blagojevich will likely not sit well with many loyal republicans.

* Still, both Ozinga and Bond are attractive candidates because of their ability to self-fund, especially after Baldermann’s late implosion. Who do you think should/ will be the nominee, and if Ozinga gets the nod, are these issues enough to severly hurt his chances against a potential showdown with Sen. Halvorson?

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   20 Comments      

Question of the Day

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2008

* The Senate Revenue Committee recently passed a proposal by Sen. James Clayborne to create a sales tax holiday beginning Aug. 1 and running through Aug. 10. Items included are school supplies, clothing or shoes under $200, and computers under $3,000.

Meanwhile, Illinois House Republicans also are seeking a sales tax break over the Memorial Day weekend, May 23-26, which would exempt items priced at $600 or less from the state sales tax.

The impact of lost revenue by Sen. Clayborne’s bill on the state budget is unclear, but the Republican proposal is estimated to cost the state $40 million in lost revenue.

* The question of the day is, are proposals like these worth the lost revenue to the state?

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   29 Comments      

Hate Crime Commission in state of paralysis

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2008

* After Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad invited her boss, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, to speak in front of her fellow commissioners of a panel on Discrimination and Hate Crimes several of its members resigned citing disparaging remarks that were made about Jews and gays.

Lonnie Nasatir, one of the former commissioners recently said “It’s difficult for me to see how you could be eradicating hate when your primary boss is the one that spews it out.”

So after the controversy lawmakers decided to create a new version of the Governor’s Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes, designed to promote tolerance within the state’s diverse population. The problem is seven months later Gov. Blagojevich hasn’t appointed a single person to the overhauled commission, and it will fail to accomplish its first major goal, presenting a report by March 30.

* What’s even more striking is that the old version of the commission hasn’t met in two years, but its executive director, Kimberly M. White, continues to draw her $96,000 annual salary.

The administration wouldn’t explain why the governor hasn’t named anyone to the commission but did say they are reviewing candidates recommended by the state.

Spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff also said the Democratic governor is following through on his promise to hold private discussions meant to help bridge the state’s racial and religious differences, although she would provide no details.

“The issues won’t be resolved overnight, but the governor is focused on maintaining dialogue and doing what he can as the chief executive of the state to foster diversity and support people who have traditionally been left behind,” she said in a statement.

Sen. Ira Silverstein, who sponsored the original legislation to establish the new commission, had the following to say:

“There’s plenty of competent people in the state of Illinois that could serve on this commission. It’s something, unfortunately, in society that we have to deal with.”

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   20 Comments      

Stroger faces criticism after pay raise to cousin

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2008

* Cook County Board President Todd Stroger just can’t get a break these days. The Chicago Sun-Times led with a front page article yesterday on how Stroger’s cousin Donna Dunnings, the county’s new chief financial officer, is receiving a 12% pay increase.

Dunnings’ salary will be the largest increase of any county employee in the budget, with the average increase coming in at around 5%. She will make nearly $160,000 with the pay increase, about $5,000 more than Tom Glaser made at the job previously.

Stroger’s spokesman, Gene Mullins justified the pay increase by saying that “she’s doing twice the work she was before and has more responsibilities.”

The news has brought out many critics:

“It sends the message that taxpayers have to make sacrifices and President Stroger’s friends, family and supporters get special treatment,” said Jay Stewart, of the Better Government Association. “It is a classic example of how Cook County politicians look at the world — one set of rules for the outsiders and a different, more favorable set of rules for the insiders.”

Several Cook County Board commissioners are upset as well:

“This is a little bit over the top to go ahead and afford these kinds of raises,” said Commissioner Tim Schneider, a Bartlett Republican, on Monday.

Commissioner Forrest Claypool had the harshest criticism though:

“This underscores Todd Stroger’s arrogance,” Commissioner Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago) said of the pay raise for Dunnings. “Everybody seems to be doing poorly except for Todd Stroger’s family.”

* Stroger’s decision to spend more and hire more contradicts recent comments by Mayor Daley, who said his city government is tightening its belt and freezing hiring because of poor economic conditions. Discuss.

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   24 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Tuesday, Mar 25, 2008

* Hugs, rolls for piano prodigy at White House

“I said, ‘Hi,’ and I gave him a hug,” Emily, 6, said in a telephone interview Monday afternoon after she’d played piano in front of about 300 people at the White House before the traditional annual Easter Egg Roll.

* City: We’ve got a way to keep cabbies from gouging

* Organic Frangos?

* Closing arguments heard in sex suit against agency

* Illinois hits record low in new TB cases

State Public Health Director Damon Arnold says everyone needs to be aware of the risks of TB, especially since the number of drug-resistant cases have been increasing.

* Residents speak out against housing plan near SIUE

* SIUC Chancellor Trevino placed on administrative leave

* Poshard: ‘I was determined to make it work

* Hookah lounge owners find options limited with new smoking law

* Hookah lounges havens for culture as well as smoking

* Impact of smoking ban: Casino Queen says it’s been devastating

* Illinois power disconnections begin in April

Ameren and ComEd plan to begin disconnecting electricity customers who are behind on their power bills beginning next month.

* Clydesdale sale taken out of state fairgrounds

* Illinois budget woes worry Q-C residents

* Taking a Closer Look At the Illinois GOP

* Terry Link Campaign Finance Disclosures a “Matter of Interest” for State Board of Elections

* Greg Blankenship: State leaders must shake ‘Groundhog Day’ mentality

* In Combine, cash is king, corruption is bipartisan

* Edward officials ‘kickstarted’ health board probe

* Jack Kevorkian formally announces run for Congress

* Something’s fishy about pork debate

You’ve got to hand it to Sen. Dick Durbin. When everyone is blasting the “earmarking” of federal funds for favored local projects, the Illinois Democrat defends the practice.

* Doing the math

The Obama campaign has relentlessly argued — for weeks now — that the delegate math makes Barack Obama the all-but-certain Democratic presidential nominee, even with 10 elections still ahead.

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   4 Comments      

Question of the Day

Monday, Mar 24, 2008

* The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning launches its GO TO 2040 campaign today. The agency aims to create a comprehensive plan that guides growth and development in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties for the next three decades:

It could be the last chance to get a handle on a population boom of more than 2.8 million people expected by 2040, and planners want the public to participate.

“We’re asking people to take a moment and think about what they want for their children and themselves over the next 20 to 30 years,” CMAP Executive Director Randy Blankenhorn said.

Blankenhorn then states:

Look at the metropolitan region now and you’ll see plenty of room for improvement: Housing prices at odds with low- and middle-income workers. A transportation infrastructure in serious need of repair. A water supply threatened by demand and pollution. Long commutes.

“We’re the third-most congested region in the country,” Blankenhorn said. “If you add 2 million more people in the next 20 years, how will you move them around? And how will they get to work?”

The solutions are out there, planners believe, citing the way they’re addressing traffic jams caused by freight trains traveling through northeastern Illinois.

* The question of the day is what do you want for yourself and possibly your children over the next 20 to 30 years?

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   22 Comments      

All-Star cast touted in Rezko trial

Monday, Mar 24, 2008

* A lot has been going on in the Rezko trial since last week. I’ll spare you the play-by-play, but the prosecution’s case was greatly buttressed on Friday:

One of the last things jurors heard before heading into the break was Rezko’s voice on a wiretap recording apparently discussing how to manipulate a state hospital board. Prosecutors allege he corrupted the hospital panel and another board that controlled a $30 billion pension fund to extort kickbacks from firms seeking regulatory approval or state investments.

This is important. Several witnesses have testified that they believed Rezko was pulling the strings on the two panels, but the wiretap was the first time that the jury actually got to hear it from Rezko himself.

*While the tapes themselves aren’t incriminating, they help to illustrate Levine’s ongoing tale about his Godfather. Among Levine’s most damaging testimony against Rezko was that he agreed to split a $1.5 million bribe to approve the Mercy Hospital application for a Crystal Lake site.

In a tape of Rezko and Levine made May 18, 2004, Rezko tells Levine to ignore prior direction by Kelly that Levine should be the one to instruct a new board member, Danalynn Rice, on how to vote on key issues. Rezko said when Rice called, Levine should have her call Beck.

“We’ll do it the way we have been handling it in the last few months,” Rezko says. “Tom should not know you and I are having this conversation. You and I will still do what we need to do,” assures Rezko.

* As the State Capitol Notebook says today though, Tony Rezko may be the defendant in an ongoing federal corruption trial, but an all-star cast of Illinois politicos is getting dragged into the case, too:

Star witness Stuart Levine has dropped the names of powerful Illinois political figures such as Chicago Ald. Dick Mell, the estranged father-in-law of Gov. Rod Blagojevich; William Cellini, a high-powered Republican insider; Robert Kjellander, a Statehouse lobbyist and another GOP insider; former Chicago Ald. Ed “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak, who is charged in a separate corruption case and has pleaded not guilty; and of course, the governor himself.

Levine allegedly arranged for Ald. Mell to receive a cut from a finder’s fee. However, Mell denies the charge, and says that he never received any money.

Cellini and Kjellander joined the fray when Levine testified about how he helped steer clients to the lobbyists’ firm, among other things. Kjellander has denied any wrongdoing, and neither has been charged with a crime.

Levine admitted to two bribes that involved Vrdolyak, who has spent years inside the powerful world of Chicago politics, as a middleman. Vrdolyak quickly denied any wrongdoing.

That’s a whole lot of collateral damage. Finally though, Blagojevich remains as the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. Levine told the jury this week that Blagojevich told him, “You stick with us and you’ll do very well for yourself.” Levine said to him, this meant he stood to get a lot of money if he did what the governor wanted.

The governor’s name was all over the case Wednesday, with Levine uttering it at least 30 times in under three hours and in ways that often did not appear to paint Blagojevich in a flattering light. The administration then issued its standard response:

“Stuart Levine’s assertions about the governor are wrong,” Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said later. “As we’ve said before, that’s not how the governor does business.”

In Rich’s column today, he answers the perennial question of the trial, will the governor be indicted?

It certainly looks that way. It’s more than obvious the prosecution is working its way up the ladder toward him. Rezko is an extremely high rung on that ladder. If U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald convicts Rezko with evidence that shows the governor’s office was corrupted by money and influence, Blagojevich’s goose could be cooked.

* Everything hinges on Levine’s credibility. The defense can argue that Levine was a weasel who made his career by lying and scamming others. Oh, and did I mention that he was in a constant drug induced state that purportedly cost him $25,000 a month and included Special K? No, not the cereal, but a drug that can be enough to sedate a horse.

However, it may be hard to sway a jury against Levine’s testimony when Rezko does such a good job of filling in the gaps himself on those tapes.

More Rezko stuff

* Suit says Rezko, doctor stole man’s mansion
* Rezko trial: Listen to Tony Rezko
* Jurors hear recordings of Tony Rezko talking to Stuart Levine
* Phone tapes give Levine testimony added credibility
* Jury hears Rezko calls
* Sometimes, throwing mud is a dirty game

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   27 Comments      

No Coke. Pepsi.

Monday, Mar 24, 2008

No Coke

* Lawmakers have asked Auditor General William Holland to look into allegations made by Pepsi rival, Coca-Cola, that the contract was tainted because the administration accepted Pepsi before hearing Coke’s best offer.

Earlier this month the Illinois House of Representatives voted 104-0 to probe the $130 million deal between the state and the soft drink company.

Rep. Susanna Mendoza, who sponsored the resolution, said Coke’s arguments seem compelling. “It makes you ask questions,” she said. “If there’s nothing wrong, we will know that at the end of the audit.”

Last July the state awarded Pepsi the contract. It includes four universities and 2,300 vending machines. Eight months later, Coca-Cola officials are still salty over what they consider an unfair deal.

They say they submitted an initial pop (cheesy pun intended) of about $43 million but could not provide a competitive proposal because the state did not answer certain questions about the contract before awarding the deal to Pepsi.

Rep. Jack Franks, who doesn’t exactly have the fondest memory of the administration after they dumped the Mercy Hospital mess on him and who has recently offered a proposal for a recall amendment, said:

“We have an obligation to make sure this state is getting the best deal and to make sure we’re getting the most income for the residents of the state,”

* However, the administration is defending the deal, and even claiming that it was good for taxpayers:

“We believe that we have followed all the guidelines and done everything above ground,” said Katie Ridgeway, a state Revenue Department spokeswoman. “We’ve gone back and looked at it again. There’s no fuzziness here.”

So the question remains, is this more of their recurring theme of “incompetence not corruption,” is there something deeper, or is the administration in the right?

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   28 Comments      

University of Illinois to consider raising tuition

Monday, Mar 24, 2008

* This week Trustees at the University of Illinois will be considering a proposal that would bump tuition at its Champaign and Chicago campuses by 8 percent next school year:

The proposal to be taken up next week would push the costs for new undergraduates in Champaign above $20,000 for the first time. The plan would set tuition, fees, room and board at the flagship campus at $20,034. Students paid $18,550 last year.

New undergraduates at the Chicago campus would also see an 8 percent increase, to $18,670.

* All I can say is that I am thankful for the state’s tuition freeze. Four years ago my tuition was no where even close to that proposal. A recently released study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research found of the 95 percent of Chicago Public School students who planned to go on to post-secondary education in 2005, only 59 percent applied to a four-year college. Only 41 percent of students ultimately enrolled the fall after graduation.

Jenny Nagaoka, a co-author of the study and researcher at the consortium, had the following to say:

“There’s a huge gap between students accepted to school and those who actually enroll. The primary reason why is because they did not fill out their financial aid forms.”

* The study can be applied to almost any district, including those in suburban Chicago, where immigrants and their children made up 33 percent of the population in 2005.

The majority of those individuals are Latinos living in the Northwest and Western suburbs, and the study concluded that they fared the worst with 46 percent applying to four-year colleges, yet only 30 percent actually enrolling in the fall.

The study concluded that Chicago high schools must be more proactive in structuring the application process during junior and senior years, and commit to a fostering a better college bound environment:

“Tracking (financial aid form) completion is a significant improvement, but it won’t dramatically change outcomes unless schools work earlier to help families and students understand what financial aid is and how funding is available,” Nagaoka said.

* This task will undoubtedly become harder for these schools with ever increasing state tuitions. Discuss.

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   17 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Monday, Mar 24, 2008

* Stroger’s cousin gets 12% hike

* CTA to expand bus tracking system

Using the system, anyone with Internet access via a computer or hand-held personal digital assistant can determine the real-time location of buses on a route and also the expected arrival time at a specific bus stop.

* Chicago Children’s Museum ramps up effort to move to Grant Park

* Virginia sisters sell Illinois-shaped corn flake for $1,350 on eBay

* Fawell moved to halfway house

* Aurora crime at 22-year low

* Old State Capitol celebrates anniversary

Taking the building down, then reassembling the exterior around a modern framework while building a new interior wouldn’t be cheap. Kerner challenged Springfield to come up with $250,000. If citizens did that, he promised, he would ask the legislature for $1.6 million to finish the job. The fundraising started on June 4, 1964. The money was in the bank by the end of September.

* State mulls smoothies for 6th-graders

* Cyber bullies could face penalties

* The buzz over alcoholic energy drinks

* Law makes city unions easier

* Ryan, Blagojevich added to book on state governors

“It was more challenging writing about Blagojevich than Ryan,” Pensoneau added. “Ryan had full closure. With Blagojevich, we’ve got a long way to go.”

* Madigan’s office doesn’t back down from student’s FOIA request

* Lisa Madigan: ‘Sunshine laws’ work, but they must be strengthened

* Bernard Schoenburg: Dem county chairmen don’t want governor meddling

But one chairman who has heard the rumor that Blagojevich or his folks are trying to influence the selection of the new leader is JAY BRINEY of Havana, who heads Mason County Democrats.

* Hastert takes consulting post at Naperville firm

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has been hired as a consultant and strategic adviser for a Naperville-based firm that contributed to some of his congressional campaigns.

* For Weller’s seat, it’s sauce or cement

* County Democrats see hope in Foster’s victory

* Speculation about who might fill Obama’s Senate shoes

* Can a senator really fix our financial mess?

As the California real estate market sinks into the Pacific Ocean and the New York financial markets slip into the Hudson River, the American electorate is asking one crucial question: Which presidential candidate — John McCain, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton — is best equipped to float America’s economic boat?

* Former Romney campaign co-chair endorses Obama

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   23 Comments      

* Sunday leaders meeting notes: Madigan counts the minutes, Republicans claim "new level of stalling"
* *** UPDATED x1 *** *** LIVE *** Leaders meeting coverage
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Mendoza transition team responds to the Sun-Times' Madigan conspiracy theory
* *** UPDATED x1 - Durkin responds *** Back to the future: Madigan demands "memorandums of understanding"
* Question of the day
* Shimkus loses out on plum post
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Moody's says Rauner veto is just one of many problems facing CPS
* *** UPDATED x4 - Mendoza responds - Munger calls suit "cowardly" *** Lawsuit filed over legislator pay
* The "green energy" side of the Exelon bill
* Caption contest!
* How is this "breaking our agreement"?
* Positioning, practicalities and politics weigh heavily against a House override
* Report: A decade to reach solvency, if leaders cooperate on tough plan
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Rauner goes into the lion's den
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* Another year of financial uncertainty looms for.....
* Another Year of Financial Uncertainty Looms for.....
* Madigan: Illinois budget discussed for 14 minut.....
* Illinois Seeks ‘Light Touch’ Blockchain Regulat.....
* Another Year Of Financial Uncertainty Looms For.....

* Vets to help protesters, asked not clash with officials
* University of Illinois chancellor reviews emergency plans
* University of Illinois chancellor reviews emergency plans
* Another year of financial uncertainty looms for Illinois
* Another year of financial uncertainty looms for Illinois
* EXCHANGE: Augmented reality in app for visually impaired
* EXCHANGE: Man creates memorial for fellow servicemen
* Lawyer seeks to replace 105-year murder sentence
* Weather advisory issued for Sunday in northern Illinois
* Ukulele is a popular music-class addition

* Another year of financial uncertainty looms for Illinois
* Lawmakers sue comptroller for not paying them
* Electronic road signs are dark near Effingham due to budget
* State lawmakers vote to spare 2 nuclear plants
* Legislature OKs Exelon subsidy plan, goes to Rauner
* Rauner: No more stopgap budgets without property tax freeze, term limits
* Illinois shutters nation's last prison roundhouse
* Clinton nuclear plant has history of cost, job uncertainty
* AFSCME files lawsuit over labor contract
* Rauner to Dems: No budget without term limits, property tax freeze

* Like our roundup? Share it around.
* A right hook to men and women hurt on the job
* Nothing brings pols together like a bailout
* Drink up, Chicago. Jim Beam's in town now
* Think Springfield can borrow its way out of trouble? Think again

* Monday letters: Like after a flood, declare state of emergency
* Could be worse: Bears thump 49ers, 26-6, for third win of season
* Madigan: Illinois budget discussed for 14 minutes
* Mount Prospect man dies after crash on Route 390
* The days of the ‘Bench Mob’ are long gone for the Bulls in ’16
* Trump threatens payback for US companies that move abroad
* Steinberg: How to refute Trump’s lies? With force and alacrity
* City dispatches 210 snow plows as city’s first snow falls
* Ohio St.-Clemson, Bama-Washington set for CFB playoff
* Vehicle on tracks in Skokie suspends Yellow Line service

* Dylann Roof to judge: Let lawyers back on S.C. church death penalty case
* California warehouse fire: 30 dead, 'arduous' search for victims continues
* Week 13 live blog: Bears get third win of season, defeat Niners 26-6
* Petraeus defends candidacy to run State despite past 'mistake'
* Fidel Castro laid to rest in private ceremony in east Cuba
* Syrian army tells rebels in Aleppo to leave or die
* Northwestern will face Pittsburgh in Pinstripe Bowl
* 1 killed in shooting involving northern Indiana officers
* Washington gets final spot in college football playoff rankings; Penn State misses out
* Russian President Vladimir Putin calls Trump 'smart,' but it's not entirely a compliment

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* Another year of financial uncertainty looms for Illinois
* Our View: Fall veto session leaves Illinois in worse state than before
* Bernard Schoenburg: Divine intervention on budget? Still waiting
* Statehouse Insider: No budget deal; see you in January
* Angie Muhs: New sports editor to start at the SJ-R
* Amy Voils: How do I really help the homeless?
* Jason Dockter: LLCC a leader in online education
* A home for the holidays: How do I really help the homeless?
* LLCC a leader in online education
* Guest Column: Where is the bailout for human services?

* Looking Ahead: Bucktown Building on Davenport council agenda
* Slippery roads reported following snowfall
* Hy-Vee seeds Mr. Thanksgiving's 2017 meal with $21,000 donation
* Dec. 4 Asmussen Top 25
* Club members give back, festively
* Follow-up file: 40 years ago, Broadway star Fred Applegate got first job at Circa '21
* Childhood favorite finds new home at museum
* Committee picks Alabama, Washington, Ohio State and Clemson
* Eastview Church welcomes, feeds, clothes thousands
* Coming home: Man freed after 18 years in prison

* Santa takes news copter to Schaumburg
* Bears beat hapless 49ers at snowy Soldier Field
* Florida, Iowa a matchup of 8-4 teams at Outback Bowl
* The Latest: Falcons left tackle Matthews injures knee
* The Latest: Western Michigan going to row to the Cotton Bowl

* House lawmakers overcome hurdle on key tra...
* Rodney Davis talks funding with Bloomingto...
* The agency that fought Illiana gets a new ...
* Rep. Dold takes educational cruise down Ch...
* Lawmakers decry high turnover rate of VA h...
* CBD Oil, and politics
* Simon considering state Senate bid
* Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
* Shutdown? State may not notice
* Rep. Bob Dold

* Sen. Dick Durbin Unveils Protection Effort......

* SEIU leaders say planned Monday strike by ......

* Governor Rauner vetoes CPS budget agreement. “We know Trump,” says CTU President Karen Lewis. “We’ve had Rauner for two years.”
* Qualified.
* Sunday mishmosh.
* Zombies in Washington (an art project).
* A Nickel's Worth of Difference
* #TBT. Los Angeles. 1963. Fighting segregation.
* Peace through fear.
* On the day Trump formally handed the U.S. government over to Wall Street Executives (and not the first time this has happened by any means).
* Get it in writing? It is in writing. It’s called the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution.
* Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts to be Trump's deputy commerce secretary

* Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Brings Lowest Fatality Rate In Six Years
* Governor Announces Appointments to Illinois Bicentennial Commission
* Stateville Correctional Center’s F House Officially Closed
* Governor Takes Bill Action
* IEMA Highlights Safety during the Holidays - Encourages holiday shoppers to give preparedness gifts this year

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