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Thursday, Dec 31, 2009

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Morning Shorts

Thursday, Dec 31, 2009

Election 2010

* David Hoffman Senate race: Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas endorses Democrat David Hoffman for U.S. Senate

It’s unclear, however, how much weight Vallas’ backing carries in Illinois these days. Vallas left his city schools job to run in the 2002 Democratic governor primary, which he lost to then-U.S. Rep. Rod Blagojevich.

* Former CPS chief endorses Hoffman for Illinois Senate

* Lowery: Grassroots Senate campaign working

* Gov. Pat Quinn admits mistake on early-release of prisoners, blames corrections chief

Gov. Pat Quinn admitted Wednesday that state corrections officials made a “mistake” in putting hundreds of inmates back on the street after just a few weeks in prison and said he didn’t know about his own administration’s cost-cutting decision beforehand.

Stung by the politically embarrassing revelations, the governor blamed his hand-picked corrections chief, Michael Randle, for exercising “bad judgment” but said he will not fire him.[…]

Democratic challenger Dan Hynes’ campaign said in a statement that Quinn failed to take responsibility, offered a “lame” explanation and that “this whole sorry affair is an outrageous violation of trust.”

The host of Republican candidates in the Feb. 2 primary adopted a similar theme, with state Sen. Kirk Dillard, of Hinsdale, saying Quinn “needs to stand up, tell the truth and take responsibility for his actions instead of creating a scapegoat.”

* Gov. Pat Quinn admits mistake on early-release of prisoners, blames corrections chief

Gov. Pat Quinn admitted Wednesday that state corrections officials made a “mistake” in putting hundreds of inmates back on the street after just a few weeks in prison and said he didn’t know about his own administration’s cost-cutting decision beforehand.[…]

Stung by the politically embarrassing revelations, the governor blamed his hand-picked corrections chief, Michael Randle, for exercising “bad judgment” but said he will not fire him.

* Quinn halts early prison releases

* Quinn on early inmate releases: ‘A very big mistake’

* Quinn to state prison chief: Early release was a ‘big mistake’

* Quinn: Early Release “A Very Big Mistake”

* Quinn: Early Release Program a Big Mistake

* More than 1,700 part of secret early release

* Julie Hamos over Dan Seals and Elliot Richardson for Congress in Illinois’ 10th District Democratic primary

* Time Running Out for Q4 Fundraising

* Jim Dodge creates tomorrow’s ads today

* 56th District GOP rivals spring from split in party

* Garcia campaign merely the latest Latino political bid to intrigue the city

* Why did GOP candidate pull Democrat ballots?

* 8th Dist. candidates back troop surge

* Congressman Tours Afghanistan

State Government

* State-payment delays to linger

* Ill. hunting, fishing fees to increase

* Thomson prison: Panel deadlocked on Thomson prison plan

The chairman, Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, D-Evanston, said Wednesday that it appears the 12-member panel is deadlocked 6-6 along party lines, with Democrats favoring the closing and Republicans opposed.

* ‘Nightline’ isn’t done with Blagojevich

* Former Blagojevich officials fined for ethics violations

* No. 1 Story of the Decade: Corruption in the governor’s office

* Hundreds of new laws take effect Friday

* New law takes effect to help find missing adults

* Trucks Will Travel Faster in the New Year

* State gives final OK on Lincoln Hotel sale

Misc.

* 2010 poll: It can’t get any worse

A whopping 82 percent are optimistic about what the new year will bring for their families, according to the latest AP-GfK poll. That sunny outlook seems at odds with other findings.

Nearly two-thirds think their family finances will worsen or stay about the same next year. And fewer than half think the nation’s economy will improve in 2010, even though Americans rated 2009 as a huge downer.

* Time running out on lower lower-priced meter parking

Starting Monday, rates inside the Loop will rise again, to $4.25. In the rest of downtown, rates will go up 25 percent, to $2.50 an hour.

Rates will also rise 25 percent in the city’s neighborhoods, to $1.25 an hour.

* Parking meter rates jumping again starting Monday

* Parking Meter Rates Going Up

* Parking meter receipts can be reused in some cases

* Parking meter lease: Critics still decry meter lease

* Carl Kasell Hangs ‘Em Up… Sort Of…

Legendary Morning Edition newsman Carl Kasell is leaving his morning job, and sits down with WBEZ’s Gabriel Spitzer to discuss his future - just don’t call it retirement. Listen to the entire interview, only on chicagopublicradio.org.

* Parents, students ask city to reopen their Altgeld library branch

Some kids needed the Internet to work on college applications. Others wanted to prepare for college admission tests. Still others said they have homework that demands Internet access.

* Fenger High School students protest at mayor’s office over lack of library near Altgeld Gardens

* Appeals court backs church group in housing lawsuit against city

City had denied license to turn YMCA into rooms for Katrina victims

* City, cops sued in false-arrest claim

Earlier this week, the Coopers filed suit against the city of Chicago and Chicago Police, claiming they were arrested under false pretenses.

The lawsuit, which is seeking more than $50,000 in damages, claims Jonathan Cooper was the victim of malicious prosecution.

* To hell and back

Simply put, Cook County Jail is a harrowing, unforgettable experience for anyone. It is so awful that for many of its detainees a quick guilty plea and a trip to the penitentiary, even for twice as long, is preferable to staying in the County. It is the proverbial lesser of two evils….. writer and activist Charles Shaw in an online excerpt from ” Exile Nation: Drugs, Prisons, Politics & Spirituality,” a new book that recounts his fraught journey through Illinois’ penal system after a drug-possession bust.

* Pinckneyville prison condition warrants study

* Police will step up DUI patrols on New Year’s Eve

* State police seek responsible drivers

* Participation low in state’s DUI program

Of the 50,000 people arrested in Illinois this year for driving under the influence, about 9,000 opted to keep their driving privileges by installing a device in their cars that monitors blood-alcohol content. The option is part of legislation that went into effect Jan. 1, with the intent of cracking down on drunken driving.

* Aurora crime down again in ‘09

AURORA — Major crime — including murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated battery and arson — is down nearly 5 percent in Aurora compared to this time last year, police announced Wednesday.

* Elgin’s U-46 seeks waiver on ESL classes, drivers ed

* Standing by Oak Lawn - for now

* Rockford Park District budget goal: Spend $1.4M less in 2010

* December snowfall fifth-most in Rockford’s history

* Frustration in the floodplain: Wait for flow of funds

* Arena’s 2010 outlook encouraging

* Fox Valley caught up in national fears in 2009

* Black art museum revival is activist’s dream

* District 150, teachers union meet again

* Energy aid requests at record high

PEORIA — The number of low-income people needing energy assistance reached record highs in 2009, for the second year in a row, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association.

About 6.1 million people required help with heating and cooling bills in 2008, and 8.3 million received help in 2009.

* Lawsuit over land: Water Reclamation District sues businessman in effort to acquire portion of South Holland property

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago has sued a man whose land stands in the way of completing its tunnel and reservoir system, despite issuing him a sewer permit in 2005 to operate a business there.

* City, IDNR to recycle trees

* Asian Carp Fight Continues

* O’Fallon teacher wins Illinois award

* Fragment of Lincoln paper matched to Ill. piece

* Stroger Hospital offers cold weather safety tips

- Posted by Mike Murray   Comments Off      


AP: Early-released inmates already committing violent crimes

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2009

* Word from inside is that the Quinn administration is preparing to BBQ a scapegoat at the Department of Corrections. They may be in for a nasty surprise if they move in that direction. Also, this is just too serious a screw-up to blame on a mere underling, particularly one who isn’t directly responsible for this horrifically stupid move

More than a dozen men released from prison early after a secret policy change by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration are back behind bars - most of them accused of new, violent crimes.

A law enforcement official tells The Associated Press that the prisoners were picked up again for such crimes as domestic battery, unlawful weapons use and aggravated battery. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of restrictions on talking to the press.

Dan Hynes may or may not have enough time to exploit this before the February 2nd primary, but the Republicans have plenty of time until next November’s general eletion. This botched, $5 million governmental cost-saving effort could cost Quinn’s campaign twice that much to defend next year.

A very big head has to roll. And any attempt to pin this on somebody who wasn’t directly responsible will cause even more political problems for Quinn if the “truth” comes out, and it probably will.

For now, though, it’s back to my vacation. A bit too windy for the beach at the moment Think I’ll make myself a smoothie and sit on the balcony.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2009

Election 2010

* Pols predict low turnout. Prove ‘em wrong.

Every candidate says the same thing. It doesn’t matter if they’re Republicans or Democrats.

They all predict our early, potentially frigid Feb. 2 primary will see a record-low turnout.

As few as 850,000 Democratic and 600,000 Republican votes statewide. Record-low numbers spell either great danger and/or surprising opportunity.

* Dillard: Government must live within means

* Berkowitz with Adam Andrzejewski

* 8th GOP candidate loses manager

* Green party candidate keeps spot on ballot

Green Party candidate Bill Scheurer likely has survived an attempt to remove him from the Feb. 2, 2010, primary ballot for the 8th Congressional District.

* Ballot challenge for McQuillan not over yet

* Bassi, Morrison spar over record in House 54 primary

* Kane Co. Dist. 23 candidates eye higher level of government

* Democratic Kane County Board hopefuls say they’ll push for more open government

* Lake Co. sheriff candidate sued four times for civil rights violations

* Incumbent and predecessor square off in District 21

* Our Opinion: Give voters a say on remap amendment

* Troops’ morale boosted by additional support, Schock says

* Schock impressed by soldiers serving in Afghanistan

State Government

* Illinois Leads $9.8 Billion Muni Sales Planned for Early 2010

Illinois will lead states and municipalities bringing to market at least $9.8 billion of fixed-rate bonds in the opening weeks of 2010, after a lull in sales to close out this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Illinois, the second-lowest rated U.S. state after California, will offer $3.47 billion of taxable notes to be repaid over five years to contribute to public employee pension funds for the fiscal year that ends June 30. Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s cut Illinois’ credit ratings this month as it resorts to such borrowing to help bridge a budget gap of almost $12 billion.

* State can’t pay bills, schools left holding bag

We have heard Illinois school districts are facing million-dollar cuts to balance the 2010-11 school year budgets due to the downturn in the economy. Now, those districts that depend on state funding need to refocus their efforts to keep this year’s previously balanced budgets balanced.

The state owes $14.3 million to Oswego Community Unit School District 308, and it is unknown how much, if any, of the promised funding will reach school districts this year.

* Social service agencies at the breaking point

By design, the budget slapped together earlier this year in the General Assembly planned to address the state’s own cash shortfalls by delaying those payments. It’s now at a stage where many agencies are saying that they are at the breaking point - if they’re not already totally broke.

* State payment delays to persist in 2010; agencies frustrated

* Gift Cards Keep Giving in IL

It’s not too late to redeem expired gift cards. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias tells us, in the United States, $5 billion in gift cards went unused in 2009. As a result, a new state gift card law is taking effect to help protect consumers. If you have expired gift cards, you can now redeem them for cash. Giannoulias’ office is holding millions of dollars in un-used gift card balances for Illinois residents.

* Foreign policy beyond scope of panel review

The legislative panel that had a hearing on the possible sale of Thomson prison to the federal government should focus on the economic impact of the sale on Illinois and its impact on other state prison facilities — not on broader foreign policy issues.

* A wise pledge for Thomson

* Unions says safety hurt by budget, space cuts at prisons

* Union: Reductions undercut prison safety

* Program helps keep state youth out of prisons

* Funding keeps Metra in neutral

Two planned Metra stations could transform neighborhoods on the city’s South and North Sides — spurring economic development, curbing carbon emissions and making it just plain easier for residents to choose public transportation, proponents say.[…]

But when that vision will become reality is uncertain.

Metra officials say state money must be in hand before preliminary engineering work can begin on planned stations at 79th Street on the Rock Island District line and Peterson and Ridge avenues on the Union Pacific North line. The state is paying for the new construction, while also rebuilding and repairing more than two dozen other stations, with $136 million from its public works program.

* Southland pupils, activists named Environmental Heroes

Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday named Southland students and volunteers among his “Environmental Heroes” for 2009.

* Illinois gives out Environmental Hero Awards

* Why your access to government should improve in 2010

* New Illinois Law Targets Distressed Condo Buildings

Starting January 1st, a new law in Illinois will help cities turn mostly-empty condo buildings back into apartment buildings.

* Belleville lawyer named to state disciplinary commission

* Illinois to rely on U.S. mortgage database

Misc.

* Home price increases fade

An economist and a broker said that no downfall in home prices is imminent after a report Tuesday showed that Chicago tied for second in month-to-month home-price declines among 20 major metropolitan areas.

Yet, experts agree that more foreclosures are likely in 2010 because the employment market is weak and prime-market homeowners have adjustable-rate mortgages with rates set to skyrocket nest year.

* Chicago Home Prices End a Five-Month Streak of Gains

* Pension reform tops city wish list

* Chicago homicides drop for 2009

But nearing the end of this year, homicides in the city have dropped by 11 percent, apparently reversing the 2008 spike and bringing the city more in line with a decline that started in the early part of the decade.

* ‘They’ll give up their own mother’

For the price of a cigarette, a Pepsi and, they hope, a shorter sentence, gang members awaiting trial give the CIU officers information on unsolved cases and detail the gang connections between the 10,000 Cook County Jail inmates and Chicago’s estimated 100,000 gang members.[…]

A camera crew followed the unit in the jail and on the streets for months as it used informants to make more than 100 arrests and seize more than $100,000 in drugs and guns.

* ‘The Squeeze’ brings viewers inside Cook County Jail, onto Chicago’s streets

Throughout its 80-year history, Cook County Jail has been a place of mystery, its inner workings shielded from the public and the media. Occasional stories, like one in the days before Christmas about an inmate dying after suffering a 106-degree temperature, are almost always negative. Some of that veil will be lifted Friday with the debut of a television series that examines the inner workings of the jail, the largest single-site county facility in the United States, and profiles the people who work and do time there.

* Sheriff’s unit takes spotlight on MSNBC

* System fails, a man is slain

Despite an arrest warrant issued some six weeks earlier, parolee Lee Cration was still on the streets Christmas Eve, when he allegedly shot and killed an elderly Hyde Park man loading food for a holiday party into his car.

* O’Hare to get body scanners

Chicago Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino said Tuesday that the Transportation Security Agency plans to bring full-body scanners to the airport in the first half of the year — possibly by April. She did not give details on how the scanners would be deployed.

* Full-body scans months away

* ACLU Doubts O’Hare Body Scanner Plan

* Body scanners headed to O’Hare Airport

* Aviation deptartment urges travelers to be aware

* L rider sues over faulty ‘panic button’

* Metered parking to climb in Chicago in January

* Signs won’t immediately change with new limits

* Painting, music at Chicago Cultural Center help disabled convey ‘what it’s like’

* Crestwood residents still waiting for results of investigation of town’s cancer rates

Six months after state health officials declared their investigation of cancer rates in south suburban Crestwood was almost complete, they have yet to release the results.[…]

The Illinois Department of Public Health, which earlier had failed to notify Crestwood residents their municipal water supply was contaminated with toxic chemicals, declined to answer questions about the cancer study. The agency also has rejected the Tribune’s requests for cancer data filed under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

* More H1N1 vaccine clinics scheduled

* Lanphier, Southeast ranked among lowest schools in state for student performance

* District 150, teachers union to resume talks Wednesday

* Cicero assessor says goodbye

* Retirement community to decide south suburban fire district fight at polls

* Evanston goes Web route for budget help

Online voting gives city officials road map for 2010 plans

* 3 emergency dispatchers to be laid off

* Rural Rochester residents show interest in new water commission

* Lawsuit challenges Legacy Pointe taxing district

* Cole raises concerns to Carterville TIF district

* East extends Roberts’ contract for 3 years

* Local dealers depleted of Saturns and Pontiacs

* Sesser claims it has been overbilled for water service

* Rockford schools to test notification system Jan. 9

* Federal health center in Ill. named for astronaut

* WTTW discards broadcast treasure Rich Samuels

* No. 2 Story of the Decade: Obama’s road to White House

- Posted by Mike Murray   Comments Off      


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