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Morning Shorts

Friday, Oct 30, 2009

* Illinois improves school test scores but many districts fall short of federal targets

* Easy tests make kids look smarter than they really are

A new federal study out Thursday — the same day Illinois released its 2009 test results — evaluated fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading tests in all states and ranked them according to rigor. The passing bars for Illinois’ tests ranked near the bottom, especially in math. Just three states had eighth-grade math tests that were easier to pass.

This means Illinois students get to look good without actually doing well.

Experts in Illinois have long suspected this, particularly after the state changed its tests in 2006.

* Illinois school test scores: Income-based gap proves hard to close

Schools try to narrow the divide with strategies such as mentoring, double periods for math and reading

* Illinois Tollway expects boost in revenues after reconstruction projects are done

More people are expected to use the Illinois Tollway next year — and boost revenues — as a massive reconstruction project comes to an end.

The Illinois Tollway estimates it will collect $51 million more in tolls and toll evasion recovery in 2010 than it collected this year.

* Helping taxpayers (but not the mayor!) understand the property tax system

Mayor Richard Daley sputtered the other day as he expressed his confusion about the hike in property taxes Chicagoans are seeing in their mailboxes this week.

“I-I-I-I don’t understand it,” he said at a news conference. “I just don’t understand it. Because everyone’s value has gone down, I don’t care where you go. … I-I want to ask (Cook County Assessor James Houlihan) how he does it. That’s the whole issue … I don’t get it.”[…]

Not that I believe Daley is confused in the least. He has operated the levers on this byzantine system for the 20 years he’s been mayor, and it has funded his empire. He understands darn good and well what an assessor does and what causes property tax bills to rise.

Most important, he understands that, in all probability, you, an average person who smacks his forehead twice a year when the bill arrives, actually don’t understand it — don’t “get” whom to blame.

Here’s a short primer in Q & A format, no sputtering:

* Daley Is the man who knows too little

* Chicagoans taxes up 9 percent, Obama’s taxes up 1 percent

Obama does pay more in property taxes than most politicians in Chicago and Cook County do, the Chicago Sun-Times found by examining online copies of the tax bills that Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas mailed out this week. But Obama’s seeing one of the smallest increases among Cook County politicians. […]

• Mayor Daley’s tax bill is up 3.52 percent on his South Loop townhouse. That’s $464.37 above what he paid last year.

• Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s tax bill is up 3 percent on his Avalon Park bungalow, costing him another $41.63 this year.

• Gov. Quinn’s taxes are up more than 13 percent for his two-story Georgian home in the Galewood neighborhood on Chicago’s Northwest Side — $377.11 over last year.

* Will County property tax ruled illegal

A property tax Will County has collected for more than a decade to help pay for its juvenile detention center is “illegal” because the county never got approval from voters, the Illinois Supreme Court found Thursday.

* City Clerk tells aldermen residential permit parking needs ‘total review’

Testifying today at City Council budget hearings, del Valle said there is a “dire need” for a “total review” of residential permit parking that has “mushroomed” out of control.

“It keeps growing. It keeps getting more complicated. And it keeps getting frustrating. . . . I get frustrated when I see people going to a Cubs game. No city sticker on their vehicle, but they’ve got a residential parking pass,” del Valle said.

“Do they have a friend who lives in the ward who gave them a pass? Maybe. But they’re not using the . . . sticker to visit the friend. They’re using it save money to go to a baseball game.”

Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) agreed that Chicago created a monster when it established residential permit parking and it’s time to rein it in — possibly by wiping the slate clean and starting over with a different set of rules.

* Review permit parking, Chicago city clerk urges aldermen

* Will Co. judge eats his words — but gets a good meal out of it

* Sting nets over 100 people on drug, gun, prostitution charges

Hoping to find fewer cops and more customers, Chicago-based drug and gun dealers allegedly began setting up shop at suburban motels along Mannheim Road near O’Hare Airport.[…]

But that business climate changed abruptly with a series of recent police raids that resulted in more than 100 people being arrested on drug, gun and prostitution charges, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Thursday.

* More than 100 arrested in ‘Operation Room Service’

* Police misconduct allegations up almost 19%

* Agency urged reprimand for Supt. Jody Weis

Chicago’s police watchdog agency recommended a reprimand last year for the city’s top cop, Supt. Jody Weis, for endorsing then-Sen. Barack Obama last year during the presidential campaign, according to records released today.

Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority found that Supt. Jody Weis “impeded the police department’s operations and was inattentive to his duty in that, while in uniform and on television, he made comments that favored a particular political candidate.”

* Furloughs jeopardize public safety

* Cook County to take appts. for H1N1 shots

* Air pollution tests at North Side school show no high levels, but more testing is planned, EPA says

St. Josaphat School sits near factories with some of the highest risk scores in the country

* Company holiday parties become casualty of downturn

Sixty-two percent of employers responding to the survey said they’ll host holiday parties this year — down from 77 percent a year ago and 90 percent in 2007.

And nearly 30 percent of those that are holding parties say they’re cutting back, the survey found, trimming their party budgets by 10 to 20 percent on average.

* Bridgeport tops trick-or-treat spots

* Soldier from Evergreen Park killed in Afghanistan

- Posted by Mike Murray        


3 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 30, 09 @ 9:27 am:

    The Mannheim Road strip has been wide open forever. The article makes it sound like drugs, guns and prostitution are a relatively new phenomenon. They’re not.

    There’s a good reason it’s remained unincorporated all these years.


  2. - Wumpus - Friday, Oct 30, 09 @ 9:51 am:

    Musician, Obama Prophet, police, is there anything that Sting can’t do?


  3. - Will County Woman - Friday, Oct 30, 09 @ 10:09 am:

    I really like Tom Dart. He is a fine example of a public servant. He is just driven by the work that he does, or at least that is the way he come across. Would things be different if he were running for re-election opposed? Perhaps. But, he set things up so that he will likely never be [seriously] opposed for any office he seeks. In his current role, he has a history of results and accomplishment behind him, and at the end of the day it is about what you have or have not done and the impact of your action or inaction.


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