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Morning Shorts

Monday, Aug 31, 2009

Rich may do more with this later -but if you want to get ahead of the curve- you can check out the details of the IL’s new taxes from the Capital Bill in these articles…

* Expect to pay more for candy, shampoo (Best Breakdown of new taxes)

* Here is a nice visual breakdown of the new taxes and fees

* Bellwood, East Dundee sales-tax rates top Chicago’s 10.25%

The 10.25 percent sales tax applied to general merchandise purchases in Chicago is one of the highest in the state, but it’s not the highest.

That distinction belongs to the sales-tax levies in west suburban Bellwood, where 11.5 percent is added to sales in two specially designated business development districts and 10.5 percent is added in the rest of the town.

* Support lacking in Springfield for video poker ban

* State retirees angry about dental insurance hikes

Retired state workers are angry, but Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration still plans to impose modest monthly premiums for retiree dental insurance beginning Oct. 1

The plan will save the state $12 million a year, officials say.[…]

Alka Nayyar, spokeswoman for Quinn’s Department of Central Management Services, said imposing dental premiums on retirees is “one of the many tough decisions the governor has had to make to help cut costs and get the state’s financial situation back on track.”

Until now, state retirees didn’t have to pay premiums for dental coverage. The new premiums — $11 monthly for members, $17 for a member and one dependent, and $19.50 for members plus two or more dependents — are the same amounts paid by active employees.

* New County Commissioner could be Named Today

After months of dealmaking , Cook County Commissioners are scheduled to meet tomorrow to overturn a veto of sales tax cut. But some political shuffling may leave them without the necessary votes.[…]

That’s because Commissioner Roberto Maldonado, who was one of the 14 votes to cut the sales tax, left the board for a seat on Chicago’s City Council.

Published reports say Democratic committeemen, led by the powerful Alderman Richard Mell, have plans to meet today behind closed doors to appoint Maldonado’s replacement. Just in time for tomorrow’s deadline to take on the veto.

* CPS Hit with Claims of Grade Inflation

* 1 in 5 Chicago Public High School teachers say they felt pressure to change grades last school year

Nearly a third of Chicago public high school teachers say they were pressured to change grades this past school year.

One in five report they actually raised a grade under such prodding.

And dozens of teachers — elementary and high school alike — say they believe someone changed their grades last year without their approval.

Those are the results of an unprecedented survey of more than 1,200 Chicago Teachers Union members conducted by the CTU and the Chicago Sun-Times in June and July.

* Union chief: Changing grades unfair to students, teachers

* CPS buses to be safer, greener

New technology makes it easier to track vehicles, tell where kids let off […]

Along with a $1 million federal program that will retrofit all older buses in CPS’ 1,600-bus fleet with clean-running technology in the next several months, the changes place the nation’s third-largest school system on the cutting edge of safety and green technology.

* Daley’s Mental Health Blunder (Video)

As regular readers may remember, the Chicago Department of Public Health’s new, high-tech billing system failed to submit bills to the state for six months last year. The resulting drop in reimbursements led the state to cut 2009 funding levels by $1.2 million. In turn, the city announced plans to shutter four of their 12 clinics. But when the origin of the funding shortfall came to light — thanks in large part to the reporting of the Chi-Town Daily News’s Alex Parker — the Daley administration suddenly redirected some stimulus cash to keep the clinics running.

Now, the city may once again be considering closing several clinics due to a $3 million drop in state funding. And as Parker reports today, Illinois Department of Human Services officials attribute the shortfall to the same billing problems.

* New inspector general pick a test for Daley

* Insurance protects taxpayers: Olympic organizers

Chicago’s bid team said it negotiated to move a $500 million “catastrophe” insurance policy to the front of the line of guarantees to be tapped. If that policy is exhausted, an additional $500 million in “umbrella” insurance will become available.

After that, planners could tap Game revenues to date or take out a line of credit based on $450 million projected revenues from the Games.

Only after that would organizers have to crack open city and state guarantees totaling $750 million, officials said. In addition, cancellation insurance is part of the complex plan.[…]

Also Friday, Chicago 2016 released data showing that the non-profit group has received $76.9 million, mostly from pledges and cash contributions from 1,500 individuals and organizations.

* Chicago’s Mt. Greenwood neighborhood to get TIF district

* Weis wants city to fight more suits against cops

* Illinois governor to unveil soldier portraits

* U.S., Illinois sue company for failing to install proper pollution controls

Edison International is based in Rosemead, California. Its Midwest Generation unit, based in Chicago, has been working with state officials to resolve pollution control issues for more than two years, Douglas McFarlan, a company spokesman, said.

After discussions with the state’s environmental protection agency, the company had already installed state-of-the-art mercury controls at its Joliet facility, according to a company press release issued last week.

Still, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan yesterday said the company was illegally emitting “massive amounts” of pollutants including sulfur dioxide.

Clean Air Act violations are punishable by fines of as much as $37,500 a day, depending on when they occur, according to the complaint.

* Towns fight back against Illinois American Water

* U of I Global Campus staff notified of layoffs

The University of Illinois has notified the staff of its online Global Campus program that they will be laid off.

Of the program’s 32 staffers, 20 will be laid off in six months and 12 will be laid off in one year. The employees were notified about three weeks ago. University spokesman Tom Hardy says the layoffs will be final after the September meeting of the board of trustees.

* Illinois bell tower rings again

* Insurers may reap $375 mil in ‘Cash for Clunkers’

* Argonne’s new center really computes

* Many local women bank on at-home businesses

* Free hunter safety courses available

* Jackson calls for investigation in Rockford death

* Study: More than half of children will engage in sexual behavior before 13

- Posted by Mike Murray        


10 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 9:09 am:

    The SJRs dental insurance story will be red meat for state employee bashers.

    It quotes two retirees — one 56, one 62 — complaining about having to kick in $11 bucks a month for dental, rather than the current “nada.”

    The sympathy level from working stiffs in the private sector is going to be rather tepid, it’s safe to say.

    I understand the unions fighting for their employee’s benefits. But at some point, to keep their benefit levels from being wacked, they’re going to have to win some battles in the arena of public opinion.

    Fighting tooth and nail, you might win transitory battles on issues like this, but that won’t help you win the war. Just saying…..


  2. - The Doc - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 9:31 am:

    Word, I was thinking the same thing. ACFSCME does itself no favors in the arena of public opinion by reflexively filing a grievance in this instance. I understand the slippery slope argument and the seemingly hasty manner in which retirees were notified, but it’s wildly unrealistic to expect gratis benefits in perpetuity.


  3. - cassandra - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 9:35 am:

    I’m neutral on the charges for retiree dental insurance because I don’t have enough information to form an opinion. In this case of Illinois state retirees, the amount saved is awfully small against what the Democrats claim is a huge budget hole in the billions. The one they want to fill with a regressive income tax increase that will bring in more billions forever. As is typical for our Pat. the new dental insurance charge is being presented haphazardly–almost accidentally, one might say–not as part of a clearly articulated and balanced list of cuts. Hence, we can’t tell if the retirees are being singled out or if there really is “shared sacrifice.” Is this part of a stealth attack on retiree benefits? And if Pat gets his regressive income tax increase, will he drop the dental insurance incrase. If not, why not.

    I have heard from a number of sources that high-level patronage hiring continues apace at many state agencies. Where consolidation and downsizing of management could be done, it isn’t, because political hires would mostly be affected and because, well, it’s too much bother–there’s plenty of money for management salaries. That doesn’t sound like shared sacrifice to me.
    It’s sounds like Chicago Democratic politics as usual. Statewide.


  4. - Leave a Light on George - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 10:04 am:

    “I have heard from a number of sources that high-level patronage hiring continues apace at many state agencies. Where consolidation and downsizing of management could be done, it isn’t, because political hires would mostly be affected and because, well, it’s too much bother–there’s plenty of money for management salaries. That doesn’t sound like shared sacrifice to me.
    It’s sounds like Chicago Democratic politics as usual. Statewide.”

    Cassie, spot on


  5. - Cindy Lou - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 10:06 am:

    Cassandra, are you sick this morning? Not your usual roll.

    Anyway, I think it’s the manner of the ’surprise’ tactic with the dental on retirees. $11 is not going to be that big of deal in and of itself, it’s the presentation and making the union feel as if a sidestep is being attempted. When you remember and think about the long battle over insurance/premiums going into the last contract, it rather just seems as a continuation of it. Healthcare/premiums are being looked at running into July (2010), seems we’re off and running early testing a toe in the waters.
    ——-
    I’m really not that thrilled over the selected taxes for the cap. program. While we have a battle over income taxes calming people can not afford it, we seem to have no problem taxing anew on items like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, ect that actual poorer people will have to pay up (items not covered on their link card purchases).

    I know my mother is always buying boxes of these types of items to hand out, this tax just means less prehaps she can hand out to those that need the items. Yeah, a few cents means something when it then takes away from other items needed to be purchased for handouts. It has never made sense to me that taxpayers can aid in purchasing food for those who need it but not routine basic san. items.


  6. - Brennan - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 10:39 am:

    Has the union kept its members informed about the trends?

    What may look like a surprise out of the blue could also be the union failing to keep its membership informed.


  7. - Cindy Lou - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 10:48 am:

    –”What may look like a surprise out of the blue could also be the union failing to keep its membership informed”.–

    It’s been posted on Council 31 since August 21st.


  8. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 10:53 am:

    Watching the Chicago Administration squirm about potential cost overruns in Olympic expenditures is getting funnier every day. Perhaps it should lead to its own Olympic event in its own right.

    What insurance company would issue a policy to be the payer of first resort for a city that has not finished a project at or under budget in decades? Of course if the premium is 110% of coverage, then I guess anything is possible.

    Looking into the future is always difficult, but looking at upcoming venues of Vancouver, London and Sochi all are reporting huge budget shortfalls in completing their promised venues. How would any business minded individual look at the Chicago proposed budget and reasonably expect the project to come in at or below budgeted costs?


  9. - Ghost - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 12:38 pm:

    Rich, you need to do a parody books of Blago’s :) I bet you sell more copies


  10. - I'm just saying - Monday, Aug 31, 09 @ 2:14 pm:

    I really love when the conservatives take aim at Rich, If you dont’ like it, don’t read it..
    http://www.chicagogop.com/


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