* State owes Peoria hospitals millions
* Illinois transportation projects sought as part of federal stimulus package
Gov. Rod Blagojevich has provided the Obama transition team with about 300 transportation projects estimated to cost $2.4 billion and put about 94,000 people to work in the state.
Concern exists that elected officials not be permitted to use any federal windfall as a substitute for coming up with a state capital-improvement spending plan for long-term projects. Illinois lawmakers have not passed a state capital program in almost a decade, leading to a backlog of deferred maintenance and delays in roadway and mass-transit capacity-expansion projects.
Projects that can have a large impact should make up the core of any stimulus package, the experts said. Examples include improving the region’s mass-transit systems by building new Metra commuter rail stations, eliminating all Chicago Transit Authority slow zones, purchasing new trains and buses and modernizing the congested rail freight network.
“The projects selected must have meaningful and lasting value” to increase economic growth, Blankenhorn said. “We only get one shot at this thing.”
* Time for tough staffing decisions
As the new year approaches, municipalities throughout the region are faced with 2009 budgets that need to be slashed in the face of declining revenue.
Ranging from the big - such as Naperville or Elgin - to the smaller communities like Antioch or Wauconda, layoffs have been ordered or at least considered as city councils and village boards decide what to do to balance the budget. Suburban governments, like so many local companies, are not immune.
* Michigan Ave. bridge to get $3.5 million facelift
* 2009 brings higher fees
CTA, parking rates to go up, but a state capital bill may help.
The state hasn’t passed a capital bill in nearly 10 years, and the CTA alone claims it needs $6.3 billion to buy new trains and buses, fix tracks and bridges and update communications. The lack of a capital bill this year has been blamed on fighting between Gov. Blagojevich and other state leaders.
* Winners, losers and the CN merger
* EJ&E sale shifts from ugly to mixed
* Report: Chicago most segregated big city
* Suburbs less segregated due to small black populations, experts say
In most areas, black populations are very small, which experts say makes it much easier to integrate. In places where the percentage of black residents is higher, there is far more segregation.
Take suburban Cook County, where about 75 percent of blacks or whites would have to switch neighborhoods to integrate perfectly, a Tribune analysis shows. Reasons for segregation mirror those in Chicago: Historical separation continued with black migration from the city and white flight to other suburbs. Personal preferences and economics influence moves by both whites and blacks.
* Tougher driving comes with DUI conviction
If new mandated sensors detect alcohol, car won’t start
* ‘Gang-related’ killings much more than that
* Study: Murders among black youths on the rise
* Festivus pole latest addition to state Capitol display
Festivus was created by character George Costanza’s father, Frank, as a sort of protest against the commercialism of Christmas. The holiday’s slogan is “A Festivus for the Rest of Us.” Its symbol is an aluminum pole with no decoration because Frank Costanza found tinsel distracting.
Michael Tennenhouse, 18, of Springfield, got permission from Secretary of State Jesse White’s office to install the pole, something he said is “kind of silly and in the name of fun, really.” But Tennenhouse also said he wouldn’t have bothered if not for the fuss generated by a Nativity scene being placed in the rotunda followed by the atheist sign protesting organized religion.