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More unsolicited advice

Monday, Mar 30, 2009

* Dear Gov. Quinn,

Why hasn’t McPier been fumigated as of yet?

* Dear FCC,

Why not open this option up to newspapers not covered by the federal “grandfather clause” and are still under the ban of cross-ownership of newspapers and TV/radio stations…

Tribune Co., a newspaper publisher and television station owner that operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, said Monday that it has combined a newspaper and two TV operations in Connecticut in a bid to become more efficient and cut costs.

The move puts the operations of The Hartford Courant and WTIC-TV and WTXX-TV in Hartford under one roof, an unusual pairing, and places a TV executive in charge of both.

I know there are fears of too much consolidation, particularly among liberals, but can’t we have some limited mergers so we can maybe save some newspapers in this country?

And this is OK with me as well…

It has gotten to the point where Larry Wert, president and general manager of WMAQ-TV/Channel 5, confirmed the station is considering an arrangement in which it would outsource its sports reports to Comcast SportsNet, effectively eliminating its sports staff.

* Dear Chicago Reader,

A notice in your comment sections says this

We do not prescreen or edit comments, but we do reserve the right to delete any we find inappropriate.

So, I suppose that the multitude of insane, racist, over the top and definitely inappropriate comments all over your site are just fine with you. I don’t think the word “inappropriate” means the same to you as it does to me. But maybe I’m missing something. Perhaps you just can’t “find” them? In that case, I don’t blame you for not looking. It’s pretty disgusting stuff. But, hey, it’s your shop, so your rules. Have fun with that.

* Dear American Journalism Review,

Considering that this blog has the word “Fax” in its name, do you think I might also publish on more than one platform?

Most states also have niche publications geared toward political insiders, such as Arizona’s Capitol Times, which publishes on multiple platforms, or online-only outlets such as Illinois’ Capitol Fax blog.

Thanks for the plug, by the way.

* Dear John Shimkus,

Huh?

* Dear John Howard Association,

Great idea

Award-winning journalist Hanke Gratteau has been named executive director of The John Howard Association of Illinois (JHA) , the leading advocate for prison reform in the Midwest. She joins John Howard on April 6.

Gratteau will oversee projects and research aimed at monitoring and improving conditions in the state’s prisons, jails and juvenile detention facilities. She is the seventh person to head the Association since it was founded in 1901.

“My role with The John Howard Association will be a very natural extension of the public policy advocacy that was at the heart of my journalism career,” said Gratteau, former managing editor/news of the Chicago Tribune. “We will aim to shine a bright light on places and issues that are hidden from public view and provide a strong and clear voice for sound public policy grounded in research.

Seriously. Great idea.

* Your turn…

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Over the line, or no big deal?

Monday, Mar 30, 2009

* Setting aside the debate over the actual bill for a moment, do you think this open letter to Catholics from Cardinal George on Archdiocese of Chicago letterhead is appropriate? Please read the whole thing by clicking here, but I’ll give you a few excerpts…

Before the Illinois General Assembly there is a proposal (HB 2354, the “Reproductive Health and Access Act”) that would remove the right to conscientious objection to abortion and related procedures for all health care workers. […]

The enemies of human life and religious freedom in Illinois are well funded. Pressure on legislators is great and is increasing. I ask you to contact your Representative this week to express your dismay that the Illinois legislature, elected democratically, would debate a bill that removes freedom of conscientious decision-making for health care workers as a condition of their employment. If, as we are told, the State should not come between a doctor and a mother, then surely all can agree that the State should not come between a health care worker and God. […]

This proposed law will rend the already fragile garment of our civic unity and further alienate many from our government. Catholics and all people of good will should work to ensure its defeat. I also ask you to thank those legislators who are courageously opposing HB 2354 and to pray for those who are supporting it. To contact your legislator, please go to www.ilga.gov, or call 312-368-1066. Thank you and God bless you.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

Archbishop of Chicago

Just to be clear, a proposed, but as yet unfiled amendment to the bill will significantly change the conscience clause language that the Cardinal discusses.

As a non-Catholic, I’m usually reticent to post my own thoughts on these sorts of things (generally out of a very legit fear of being labled anti-Catholic), but I thought maybe you’d like to discuss this letter yourself.

As always, decorum rules will be enforced. Try to keep your tempers and preconceived notions in your head, not in your typing fingers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      


Let’s look local

Monday, Mar 30, 2009

* The Sun-Times headline reads: Rosemont rarity: A real race for mayor.

There’s no doubt that Rosemont mayoral candidate Joe Watrach is running a far more visible campaign than has been seen in a long time, if ever, in that town. He’s also pretty feisty, listing $5 million a year in government contracts for people with the name “Stephens” on his website and telling the CS-T…

“Donald E. Stephens made sure that while he took care of his family, all of Rosemont was his family,” Watrach said. “He was making sure the village residents were happy. Before, Rosemont had an endless supply of money. Now we don’t. The difference was his dad never cut the village employees’ health care.”

Watrach argues that before Stephens cuts employees’ health care, he should cut other parts of the budget first, such as contracts to his family members or the $1.3 million for landscaping that goes largely to Krimson Valley Landscaping, which has donated generously to Stephens’ political fund.

“The reason Bradley didn’t want to cut [the] flowers [contract] is they have given him $50,000 over two years,” Watrach said. “In two years, he has raised a million dollars for his campaign fund, all from contractors who hold no-bid contracts at Rosemont.”

But is Watrach viable?

Maybe not so much.

The State Board of Elections website shows that Watrach has raised about $3,200 since he began campaigning.

* Moving on to Niles

Nick Blase left the helm of this suburb after 47 years as mayor when he was convicted of taking $420,000 in kickbacks from an insurance company to which he steered businesses that wanted to set up shop in Niles.

Running with Blase’s endorsement to succeed him is Acting Mayor Robert Callero, a retired accountant. Callero got some static for creating an ethics committee in a closed meeting that Attorney General Lisa Madigan said violated the state’s Open Meetings Act. He was also criticized when Niles employees used village equipment to tape testimonials for Blase to be used at his trial. Callero said he agreed that was inappropriate and said he was unaware it was happening.

Challenging Callero are: Luigi Nitti, Carol Harczak, Trustee Kim Sychowski Biederman — who runs with the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and other local Democrats — and Krzysztof “Chris” Hanusiak, a Polish immigrant who owns a Royal Kitchen and Bath Cabinets store.

That Callero ethics committee thing is hilarious. Biederman is the wife of former House Dem staffer Rob Biederman, which the acting mayor is attempting to use against her

Callero said that Biederman would use the job to “build a political machine.” Her husband, Rob Biederman, who is running her campaign, once was a political operative for Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, and he now is a public relations consultant. “He will really run Niles,” a Callero strategist said.

I’m so sure. What an insult to Biederman to suggest that her husband will be the guy behind the throne.

Ms. Biederman also has some other bigtime support

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-9th, state Sens. Dan Kotowski, D-33rd, and Ira Silverstein, D-8th, and state Rep. Lou Lang, D-16th, have all endorsed Biederman’s candidacy, according to her campaign. […]

State Representative Michael MacAuliffe is the lone Republican on Biederman’s list thus far, supporting Biederman because he believes she will keep taxes low, according to a written statement attributed to him by her campaign.

That’s quite a list.

* On to Peoria

The race for Peoria mayor features the incumbent against a challenger who, even if he wins, cannot serve because of a prior felony conviction.

OK. Nevermind.

* Are there any interesting local races in your neck of the woods?

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


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Monday, Mar 30, 2009

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Question of the day

Monday, Mar 30, 2009

* A post at NCSL’s blog reminded me that March is Women’s History Month.

Yeah, the month is almost over, but there’s still time to squeeze in a question.

* The Question: In your opinion, who is the most influential woman in Illinois political history? Please explain your answer fully. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Politics and the budget mess *** UPDATED x1 Giannoulias refuses some contributions ***

Monday, Mar 30, 2009

* Laura Washington takes a look at what happens if Lisa Madigan and others decide to move up or off the political ladder, or stay right where they are…

Evanston-based State Rep. Julie Hamos, who represents the 18th District along Chicago’s North Side and North Shore, is already raising money and taking names for a run for attorney general. Hamos may have Madigan’s blessing, but until the AG jumps, there’s nowhere for Hamos to land.

Talk about jumping the ladder. Media outlets across the nation have been touting Chicago Urban League CEO Cheryle Jackson’s anticipated run for Burris’ seat, though all they seem to know is how to spell her name. Her backers, particularly in the black community, are waiting to see if multiple investigations by Fitzgerald, the U.S. Senate and the Sangamon County prosecutor will knock Burris off the ladder.

Jackson doesn’t have a prayer if Burris stands for election. The two will split the black vote and not much else. Things will be even more hopeless if U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky decides to take a shot at the seat. Schakowsky is a powerhouse fund-raiser with a bullet-proof base among female, progressive and Jewish voters.

Ald. Joe Moore (49th) is said to be salivating over a Schakowsky bid, as that would give him a shot at her 9th Congressional District seat. The national thrill of his foie gras crusade is long gone, and he wants it back. Still, since the Rogers Park pol barely won reelection in 2007, he may not be in the best shape to muscle another rung up the ladder.

At 32, Giannoulias may be the youngest straddling his way up the ladder, but he’s moving up fast. He’s formed a Senate exploratory committee, is raising funds nationally from Greeks and Obama-ites, and is turning up regularly on the business channel CNBC. His own chief of staff, former state Rep. Robin Kelly, is gearing up to take his spot. The 52-year-old resident of Matteson is looking to become Illinois’ first African-American treasurer.

* Speaking of Giannoulias, he was asked by the Kankakee Daily Journal’s edit board to say what he’d do if he was in charge of Illinois’ budget

I think your first step is to find ways to cut waste, to cut your budget, to find ways to do more with less, to make government more efficient, to streamline services, to technologically advance the way you conduct business.

If there is an income tax increase there needs to be a decrease in property taxes. People are getting decimated by property taxes. And also you can maybe make the school system more equitable. That being said, right now in a recession — and almost any economist can tell you - is not the right time to increase taxes on people. There is never a good, right time.

That’s not a bad political position: Cut more waste, streamline, cut property taxes, improve education, income tax hikes bad. It doesn’t get us very far in this debate, however.

*** Sigh. *** Screwed up something and so I deleted this part of the post. Oops. Gotta slow down. Less coffee.

*** UPDATE *** Giannoulias just announced that he won’t accept contributions from corporate PACs or federal lobbyists

…I am taking a step that no major Illinois candidate from either party has ever taken in a run for the U.S. Senate. It is a decision that advances us one step closer to that change that we all fought for and believed in last November. I will simply say “NO” to contributions from all federal lobbyists and corporate PACs.

These special interests do not represent the interests of most Americans, and they should not be allowed to buy a seat at the table when it comes to deciding critical issues or determining the direction of our nation, especially in the midst of our current financial crisis.

[Hat tip to a Giannoulias supporter who referenced a Daily Kos piece which contained the link to the above press release.]

* Related…

*** ADDED *** What does tax plan mean to jobless ex-governor?: In short, if Pat Quinn gets his way, Rod Blagojevich will soon be paying an extra $13.50 to the state every week.

* Governor Quinn said ‘cut, cut, cut,’ so what’s up with all of this?

* An extravagant holiday

* Clock ticks on one of Quinn’s first big plans

* Transit and taxpayers

* Smokers face a hit as federal tobacco taxes spike

* Planned Merger May be Good News for Illinois’ Historic Sites

* Quinn believes agency merger within his bounds

* Toll reforms tardy, but welcome news

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Reform and Renewal

Monday, Mar 30, 2009

* When reading stories like this one, always try to keep in mind that this is Rod Blagojevich we’re talking about. So placing blame on Blagojevich is absolutely paramount. Only some of his targets were complicit

Four potential candidates for President Obama’s vacant Senate seat were each to be targeted for contributions by ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaign as part of an aggressive, $2.3 million race for cash late last year, an internal campaign document obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times shows.

The four were among about 150 people targeted for contributions by the Friends of Blagojevich campaign organization by the end of 2008, when a new Illinois law took effect that bans taking money from state contractors and appointees, the document shows.

This says it best…

“They may have had him on the list,” [JB Pritzker] spokesman Dave Lundy said. “But they had a lot of quirky ideas that didn’t have a basis in reality.”

Yep. He had lots of “quirky” ideas, like this one

During one conversation, Blagojevich brought up with [White Sox/Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf] the possibility of appointing Attorney General Lisa Madigan to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Obama’s election, sources with the Blagojevich camp say. They say he was seeking a way to advance legislation through the Illinois House — controlled by Madigan’s father, House Speaker Michael Madigan

What a stupid idea that was. The plan was to offer to appoint Lisa Madigan to the US Senate in exchange for Speaker Madigan’s support for the governor’s capital plan, health care expansions, etc.

Complete, utter lunacy.

First of all, Speaker Madigan wasn’t even returning Blagojevich’s phone calls. He was also refusing to meet with the guy.

Most importantly, though, Speaker Madigan had absolutely zero trust in Blagojevich’s word. No way would he have cut that deal. No way. When I told Madigan about the “plan,” he laughed incredulously.

* Since we’re on the topic of corruption and, by extension reform, let’s take a look at two other stories worth mentioning

Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest) said she will consider amending one of the ethics bills in the legislature this year to add new requirements for opening certain legislative meetings. She said the governor’s involvement in a meeting with lawmakers should “trigger” an open meeting requirement because two branches of government are involved. “I think that what’s happened here, and I’m not condoning it, is that it’s a tradition that is followed at the state and federal level,” Garrett said.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) said she would be surprised if caucuses or meetings with the governor were opened up, saying “in our culture we have been so unaccustomed to that degree of openness.”

Understatement of the week goes to Currie.

* The governor’s extra-legislative reform commission meets again today. Scheduled topics are…

- The powerful role played by the “rules committees” in the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate. To a large degree, they decide whether legislation will advance.

- The flawed process used to determine how Illinois redraws its legislative and congressional district boundaries every 10 years after a new U.S. census.

- The rushed, last-minute way that the Illinois General Assembly typically approves a new state budget, generally with little input from rank-and-file lawmakers.

Apparently, former GOP Sen. Steve Rauschenberger is the expert witness today.

And this weird little demonstration will be part of the day’s festivities…

To spotlight the need to get rid of government corruption, members of the [Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service’s] student advisory committee will encourage fellow students to throw water balloons at a 3-by-5-foot sign depicting a mud-stained image of Illinois. The sign will be posted outside the meeting site.

The idea is “to wash the mud off of the state,” said Josh Cox, a Bradley senior who is studying political science. “We’re kind of starting the cleansing process.”

A member of the governor’s reform commission, Brad McMillan, runs that institute sponsoring the water balloon toss. That should give you a good idea of how this commission is running.

* Meanwhile, the Sun-Times has a very good piece about how Blagojevich pal Chris Kelly allegedly made a fortune doing roofing jobs for two major O-hare-based airlines. And the AP takes a look at the alleged “corruption tax” issue, which has been discussed ad infinitum. No real new stuff there.

* Related…

* 3 weeks in office adds $40,000 a year to pension

* Illinois corruption: State officials could look at stricter ethics laws in other states

* Clock Ticking in Blago Case

* Statehouse Insider: An upleasant blast from the past

* Blagojevich is still everywhere – and some can smile about it

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


Trib slams Monken detractors

Monday, Mar 30, 2009

* The Chicago Tribune editorial board is all-in for Gov. Pat Quinn’s choice to run the Illinois State Police. They’ve run an editorial that literally oozes hostility towards the young man’s detractors…

Last weekend, Gov. Pat Quinn chose 29-year-old Army combat veteran Jonathon Monken to head the Illinois State Police. The selection of a young man with no conventional policing experience provoked anonymous online complaints (evidently from veteran troopers) and on-the-record harrumphing from state senators who’ll decide whether to confirm the appointment.

It was more than just anonymous online complaining, as I told you last week, but whatever.

* The paper apparently sat down with Monken and came away impressed…

Quinn isn’t backing down. And, after hearing Monken handle probing questions about his qualifications during a Friday meeting with the Tribune editorial board, we understand why. We urge the Senate to thoroughly vet Monken and—barring some unexpected surprise—to confirm him. If the choice of Monken upsets some troopers or legislators, tough. They aren’t answerable for Monken’s performance of his duties. Quinn is.

Tough? Wow. And is there no awareness of the constitutional principle of “advise and consent”? Senators are, indeed, “answerable” for Monken’s performance because they will have to vote to confirm him.

* More…

This page often has argued that chief executives are entitled to have their own appointees in such sensitive posts, provided the appointees aren’t kooks or crooks.

Ha! Wrong. Remember how the Tribune flatly and loudly opposed Marty Cohen’s nomination to chair the Illinois Commerce Commission? Here’s a little taste

State Sen. Rickey Hendon has a message for Gov. Rod Blagojevich: Yank your controversial nomination of consumer watchdog Martin Cohen to chair the Illinois Commerce Commission or risk an embarrassing defeat in the Senate.

Blunt advice like that is a rare commodity in Springfield, especially when it comes from a key member of the governor’s own party. And in this case, it’s good advice.

Cohen was neither a “kook” nor a “crook,” but that didn’t stop the Trib from blasting the guy.

* More…

But the criticism of Monken’s résumé strikes us as exaggerated: The director’s job is to administer and inspire a big agency—less to make urgent decisions about an unfolding emergency than to have on the ground the best ISP rank officers to make those decisions. Monken wears a business suit rather than the state police uniform that he respects as symbolic of what troopers have struggled and sacrificed to earn.

State Police troopers undergo a rigorous vetting and training program and have to prove that they’re still up to the task on a regular basis. They are some of the best trained cops in the bidness, and rightfully proud of that uniform. That also understandably leads them to distrust outsiders brought in to run the show. But it’s also a cop thing. Just look at how the Chicago coppers have reacted so negatively to Mayor Daley’s pick of a former FBI guy to run that shop.

There are exaggerations on both sides. Unfortunately, the Tribune decided to exaggerate on behalf of the governor’s ISP pick instead of taking a reasonable approach to the subject. This is fast becoming the MO at that paper, and it’s a very disturbing development.

* Related…

* Quinn defends state police director pick

* New State Police chief says he’s up to challenge : “God willing, I will never face as dire a security situation as I did in Kosovo or Iraq,” Monken said. “Frankly, I have leadership experience in security and police operations as challenging as anywhere on the planet.”

* Illinois police lab delays hamper cases, report says

* Quinn may remove Box from Illinois Commerce Commission

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


The middle class, tax hikes and the GOP

Monday, Mar 30, 2009

* It’s no wonder the middle class feels besieged

Even before the recession hit, economic data backed what the majority were feeling: After a steady climb that lasted more than a generation, the real median income in the United States peaked in 1999 and then dropped. It has yet to return to that peak, making it the longest downturn in modern history. […]

Illinois was not immune to the trend between 2001 and 2008. Weekly wages dropped or remained stagnant in most sectors, according to a December report, “The State of Working Illinois.”

Meanwhile, expenses for things like health care, housing and college have gone up at rates far faster than inflation. Home values (before the recent market crash) in 1970 were typically twice family income; now they are five times as much.

Lincolnshire-based Hewitt Associates reported last month that workers’ yearly health care costs nearly tripled, to $3,800, since 2000; 65 percent of employers plan to reduce health benefits further. That’s if your job offers health care at all, as more than 4 in 10 workers in the state are no longer covered by employer insurance. Employees covered by pensions dropped in Illinois, too.

One problem is that the idea of what a middle class family is has so radically changed over the years. People struggled to keep up with the Joneses while their wages stagnated. That led to a credit overextension, which led to some of the current housing-related woes.

In Chicago, the Heartland Alliance estimated recently that it would take a family of four nearly $50,000 annually just to pay for bare essentials like food, housing and health care — an amount higher than some households at the lower end of the middle class earn. That doesn’t include savings for college or retirement, vacation or preschool or private school costs.

The housing bubble contributed to this problem. For instance, I was looking for a house in 2005 and was appalled at Chicago prices. I just couldn’t see spending that much money for that little house. So, I decided to move back to Springfield (I was also getting sick of the commute during the governor’s seemingly endless OT sessions). But I can live just about anywhere. Not many can do that. Still, if Chicago housing prices forced somebody like me out of the market, imagine the pain of all those who make less than I.

And, considering the financial pressures, it’s no wonder people are so upset at Gov. Quinn’s proposed tax hikes, even if they’re being misinformed or misunderstanding that some of them might actually get a tax cut.

* Some Republicans, like possible US Senate candidate Mark Kirk, are proposing ideas

Mr. Kirk has scheduled a press conference with several small-business owners at which he is to call for permanent elimination of the inheritance tax. He’ll also call for suspending the mark-to-market accounting rule, arguing that it’s triggered a run on banks. And he wants to reimpose the uptick rule, which bans the short sale of borrowed stocks or bonds.

While Mr. Kirk surely believes in all three populist stances, none would hurt him any in a primary contest for the U.S. Senate next year, a race he appears to be heavily leaning toward.

Would any of that make any difference in the lives of the middle class? I guess it depends on how you define who is middle class.

* GOP Congressman Aaron Schock is touting a different approach to get money into the hands of some who might be struggling…

“As more and more individuals try to increase their household income(s) and a lot of public sector employees take on additional work, whether part-time on the weekends or in the evenings, they are paying into social security,” Schock told News 25.

But because those people (such as public school teachers) have a full-time job with the government, the social security benefits they would receive from their part-time, private employment are reduced. Schock says that has to change.

I know this post is a bit of a ramble, but do you have thoughts about any of this?

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Monday, Mar 30, 2009

* Fire officials put Empress Casino damages at $340 mil

* Illinois Poverty News Weekly

* Steel plant closing ‘cuts deep’

But now the company that owns the steel plant - ArcelorMittal, the fourth owner - has decided to close it, and Burress; his dad, Don; and about 285 others are out of a job. Layoffs started Feb. 20, and now only 25 workers are still in the plant, left for “asset protection,” says Duane Calbow, vice president of United Steelworkers Local 7367 and chairman of the Putnam County Board.

* Ford’s Chicago plant set to make new vehicle

* Local group finding support in creation of ‘green’ jobs

* Kettles of cash

The Salvation Army has rolled out its red kettles for holiday fundraising since 1891. But it has never had a year as successful as 2008. At a time when need was skyrocketing, so was generosity.

Donations across the country reached $130 million, up 10 percent from 2007. That’s the biggest single-year jump since 1997. The collection in the Chicago area remained steady at $14.7 million.

* Urban League’s nextOne program developing minority business dreams

* Health centers get $15.2 mil in stimulus funds

* Crusaders Central Clinic Association of Rockford to receive $555,180 through federal stimulus plan

.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said in a statement Friday that 36 centers in Illinois will use the money to make a number of changes, including expanding their hours and the services they provide.

Durbin said the support for health centers will create jobs in low-income areas.

* 14th District lands another $10 mil in stimulus funding

Congressman Bill Foster announced the money will come via the federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. That means communities receiving the money must put it toward energy efficiency, conservation or renewable energy efforts. Examples of eligible projects include conducting energy efficiency building audits, installing or retrofitting street lighting or traffic signals with energy efficient bulbs and creating energy efficient transportation programs such as bus rapid transit.

As far as the stimulus package overall, even Foster said the gap between the goals of the stimulus and how states are administering the funds is wider than he’d hoped.

“There’s a difference between how effective the state governments are being about distributing the money,” Foster said. “And I think I’ll leave it at that.”

* Federal Stimulus Money Flowing To O’Hare

Other transportation will also benefit when the stimulus money comes in. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $1.3 billion for Amtrak projects nationwide, of which $80 million will be invested in Illinois.

* Chicago transit: Ideas to reach 1 billion rides a year

While his views may be shared by many, what sets Renn apart is that he gathered his thoughts into a comprehensive proposal that won a Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce contest aimed at growing transit use to 1 billion rides a year in the region. For his effort, Renn won the first-place prize of $5,000.

* Region’s transportation wish list gets review

* DuPage funnels $5.2M to fix distressed homes

County officials recently accepted DuPage’s share of federal funding from the 2008 Housing and Economic Recovery Act in the form of a $5.2 million check.

* Some newspaper negativists fail to reveal conflicts of interest

Randy Siegel is president of Parade Publications and a co-founder of the Newspaper Project.

* Friends gather to help support convicted Daley aide

Thomas Breen, Sanchez’s attorney, said the event was to help Sanchez, not strictly to help pay for legal bills.

“Since the verdict, many, many calls have come in, in support of Al,” Breen said by phone. “It was with my blessing that, if his friends want to assist him in light of the verdict and the loss of his pension, that they should. It’s for Al.”

* Olympic “Memorandum” Falls Short, Activists Plan IOC Protest

The deal was ostensibly struck between Chicago 2016, the organization Mayor Daley put together to oversee the games, and the Outreach Advisory Council, a group put together by Chicago 2016. Think of it as Mayor Daley negotiating with himself.

* Finance committee approves 2016 minority-contract deal

* USOC clears issue haunting Chicago 2016 bid

* Chicago spruces up for key IOC visit

* City to turn on fountains, protests for Olympic visit

In addition to the various sites of planned venues, the IOC delegation will see two Millennium Park fountains in all their glory — unusual for this time of year.

The IOC is also going to see something that’s been part of the landscape here for as long as anyone can remember: protests. Citizens groups like “No Games Chicago” and disgruntled police union officials, angry over pay, plan to make their voices heard.

* Daley: Cop union ‘unfair’ to Olympic bid

* Daley: ‘No affect’ of police picket on Olympic bid

Daley told reporters Saturday that the Olympic bid is a vision for Chicago that’s bigger than him or the union. He says officers can demonstrate, but “it won’t have any affect.”

* Ruling for cops could cost city big

The ruling comes as nose-diving revenues tied to the prolonged recession threaten to poke a $200 million hole in Mayor Daley’s 2009 budget.

Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue says cash damages can and should be substantial.

“Our members have been harmed by not being able to use their comp time because it’s at the discretion of the commander to approve or deny,” Donahue said.

* Firefighter suicides: Chicago officials investigating increase with eye on prevention

* Parent Survey: School Safety Information Scant

Twenty-nine Chicago Public Schools students have been murdered since September. But most district parents reached in a survey said they’ve never received public-safety information about their local schools.

* Are Charter Schools Public? Some Parents Don’t Know

It’s been almost 12 years since Chicago opened its first charter school. But a report out Friday says many parents in the district still don’t know that the city’s charter schools are public and free.

* Honors Students Also Struggle at Robeson High School

* UI will try to avoid large tuition increase

* Community should rally to try to save, reform Irish parade

* St. Patrick’s Day: South Side Irish parade may march into the suburbs

* Southland towns consider salt-buying consortium

- Posted by Mike Murray   4 Comments      


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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* No pension bump for Stermer, MJM still not persuaded on special session
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - More comptroller stuff
* 1:30 comptroller announcement expected - Stermer appointed, says he will resign January 12th
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Comptroller stuff
* Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Bears open thread
* More adventures in misgovernance
* Question of the day - Golden Horseshoe Awards
* Petulance all around
* Yesterday's blog posts

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        * Oppo R5 vs HTC One M8: Thin vs. Powerful
        * Bring Back the Old School with the NES30 Bluetooth Controller [DEALS]
        * OnePlus One mini, BlackBerry Classic, Windows Phone ups & downs | Pocketnow Weekly 127
        * Get off the fence and go get a smartwatch
        * Apple Watch retail, Android Wear Lollipop, Nexus 6 comments & more – Pocketnow Daily Recap
        * Our 5 favourite new Windows Phone apps of the week
        * White elephant: There's a reason they give this advice away

        * 32GB Moto X (2nd Generation) Coming to India on December 22
        * Minecraft Creator Purchased a Mansion in Beverly Hills for $70 Million
        * Samsung Rumored to Launch Apple Pay Competitor
        * Alleged Xiaomi Redmi 2S Spotted on AnTuTu
        * Google+ Introduces One-click Auto Enhance for Videos
        * Moto X (2nd Generation) Gets Android 5.0 Lollipop in India
        * Orkut, we hardly knew ye: 10 tech products we lost in 2014

        * Williams: Make protesting voices heard through vote
        * Williams: Make protesting voices heard through vote
        * White Sox also had a December to remember 100 years ago
        * Terrerobytes: Future of Cuban baseball complicated on both sides
        * White Sox sign George Kottaras to a minor league deal
        * Kottaras to join White Sox with Minor League deal
        * Loss of Draft picks viewed as good trade for White Sox

        ...............


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        * Havenstein to New Hampshire Supporters: 'You In.....
        * Bernard Schoenburg: Rauner talks of dogs, housi.....
        * Mother speaks at slain Chicago teen's funeral..
        * Only thing even Rahm Emanuel can't fix: Da Bears..
        * Who deserves thanks for 2014 — and who doesn't..


        * Mother speaks at slain Chicago teen's funeral
        * Chicago mayor's teenage son mugged near home
        * 2 dozen injured in southern Indiana bus crash
        * Illinois farm groups foresee market growth in Cuba
        * 2nd Illinois prison with possible chickenpox
        * Stolen laptop held Northwestern patient data
        * 2 charged with stealing from Salvation Army bucket
        * US criminal probes nab 13; race questions raised
        * Quinn signs bill increasing juror pay
        * Gov. Quinn names comptroller to replace Topinka

        * State treasurer employees get raises, stipends as Rutherford’s term comes to end
        * Springfield-based U.S. attorney’s investigations nab 13; race questions raised
        * 2nd Illinois prison with possible chickenpox
        * Quinn signs bill increasing juror pay
        * Quinn names longtime aide Jerry Stermer comptroller until Jan. 12
        * Quinn signs law to nix deadline for asbestos lawsuits
        * Quinn to name comptroller replacement this afternoon
        * Madigan says T-Mobile settlement shields consumers
        * Quinn calls legislature back to Springfield to approve special election to replace Topinka
        * Audit: DCFS loses track of runaways

        * Can Garcia's run for mayor fire up independents?
        * Chicago's newest workout (and personal statement) options
        * A photo shop for photographers
        * The Life of Patrick Ryan: Act II, Scene 2
        * Office conversions kick small firms to the curb


        * Lakeview pot dispensary on hold; Tunney opposes Halsted location
        * Despite community pleas, CPS puts Dyett HS out for proposals
        * Quinn to appoint new Illinois Comptroller today
        * Gov. Quinn appoints longtime aide as Illinois comptroller
        * Watch: President Obama's year-end press conference
        * Rewriting the Sony cyberattack script
        * time for new course in Cuba
        * Are Rahm's numbers creeping up? New internals show him near 50
        * Obama guidance, press schedule, Dec. 19, 2014. Press conference
        * A whole lot of nothing from the City Council


        * One killed, as many as 10 more shot at south suburban house party
        * At least 3 shot since Saturday evening
        * FBI: 'Play-Along Bandit' hits 6th bank
        * Emanuel's son robbed near family's North Side home
        * Man dies day after Albany Park shooting
        * Demario Bailey funeral: 'The kids are the world. It starts with them'
        * DNA leads to murder charges in 1994 stabbing
        * 1 dead, 16 injured in separate shootings
        * Officials: Child at U. of C. tests negative for Ebola
        * Officials: Two Bartlett students hacked into Elgin district portal


        * Listen to State Week - December 19, 2014
        * Quinn Picks Budget Chief To Be Temporary Comptroller
        * 'Uber-gentrification' a force in Chicago's West Loop
        * Durbin leaving Congressional roommates behind
        * Worries rise in Russia as ruble falls
        * Improviser finds purpose in Chicago police mental health crisis trainings
        * Chicago 'petcoke' handler says it'll enclose piles
        * Waukegan woman seeks to trademark 'I can't breathe'
        * Obama re-establishing US relations with Cuba
        * Teaching hospitals hit hardest by medicare fines for patient safety


        * Quote of the day: Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014
        * Bernard Schoenburg: Rauner talks of dogs, housing and the work ahead as governor
        * State treasurer employees get raises, stipends as Rutherford’s term comes to end
        * Cathy Becker: Because it’s the right thing to do
        * T. Ray McJunkins: Justice, righteousness descend to fulfill dream
        * Springfield-based U.S. attorney’s investigations nab 13; race questions raised
        * 2nd Illinois prison with possible chickenpox
        * Sen. Dick Durbin: Clean water access bill honors Simon
        * Charles Krauthammer: How to fight the lone wolf
        * Quote of the day: Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014


        * Civil War Timeline: War’s last Christmas
        * Guitars at school? Nothing to fret at Bluffs
        * Pons-Mills
        * In remembrance
        * A better sweater
        * Upcoming Services (Dec. 21)
        * Police Beat
        * Shelf Life
        * 'Communicator' McCrady shifts roles
        * Helping families in need through partnership


        * South Alabama falters in loss to Bowling Green
        * Late TD lifts Bowling Green past South Alabama
        * No. 21 Mississippi State trounces Illinois-Chicago 73-36
        * Air Force beats Western Michigan 38-24 in Potato Bowl
        * Former Houston mayor Bob Lanier dies at 89

        * Republican David Brat Wins Virginia’s 7th ...
        * Bob Dold
        * Rep. Bob Dold
        * Chairman Recommends House Financial Servic...
        * Dold a'going to the freshman dance, again
        * Mike Bloomberg takes his money local
        * Midterm elections see Big Red wins in Ill....
        * Over 95 percent of ANCA-endorsed candidate...
        * Over 95% of ANCA endorsed candidates win s...
        * 14th Congressional District: Randy Hultgre...

        * Hill Democrats taking aim at vapes...

        * GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski Supports Gay Marriage...
        * Second GOP Senator Backs Gay Marriage...

        * Politically Connected Profit From United Center Parking Scam
        * Ready Aim Fire
        * Havana memories.
        * Walter Esler: “My brother walked from an empty room into a room full of people.”
        * Illinois Policy staff threatened with arrest at union-lead trainings
        * Governor-elect Rauner Visit with Latino Pastors
        * Governor-elect Rauner Visits with Latino Pastors
        * Illinois Policy staff threatened with arrest at union-led trainings
        * Organization claims Mark Kirk "Grubered" Illinois and America
        * With Frerichs victory, Dems move to merge Treasurer and Comptroller offices


        * Governor Quinn Appoints Jerry Stermer as Illinois Comptroller
        * Governor Quinn Calls Legislative Special Session - Governor Urges Legislature to Set Up 2016 Special Election for Comptroller
        * Governor Quinn Announces Illinois’ Unemployment Rate Hits New Low - Illinois’ Economic Comeback Continues; Unemployment Rate Falls to Lowest Level in More than Six Years
        * Illinois Ranks #1 in Volunteer Rate Among the Country’s 8 Largest States - 2.57 Million Illinoisans Give $7.2 Billion in Service
        * Law Enforcement, IDOT Make Final Push to Save Lives in 2014, Roadside Safety Checks Planned Over Holidays - New Episode of “The Driving Dead” Premieres Friday as Holiday Travelers are Reminded to Drive Sober and Buckle Up




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