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A case for the cost shift

Monday, Feb 25, 2013

* Freshman state Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur) is opposed to the so-called pension “cost shift” because it could raise local property taxes. But, the SJ-R editorial page points to Scherer’s recent teacher retirement package as proof that at least a limited cost-shift is needed

Scherer made $72,538 in 2008-09, an amount that grew to $89,270 when she retired at the end of the 2011-12 school year. Those raises allowed her to receive a pension starting at $61,018 per year.

If Scherer had instead received 3 percent raises during her final four years of teaching — most private sector workers would have been overjoyed to get that kind of raise during the Great Recession — her pension would have started at $58,608.

When you include the annual, 3 percent compounded COLA, the difference between those two starting pensions to state taxpayers, assuming Scherer lives to age 79, is nearly $83,000.

Keep in mind, those amounts are based on Scherer receiving the maximum pension — 75 percent of her final average salary — at age 56. She would have been short two years of credit and received a reduced pension had the district and state law not allowed her to accumulate and use 340 days of unused sick time to further sweeten her pension.

Right now, state taxpayers have to pick up the tabs run up by local school districts. It’s doubtful that the schools would be devising retirement plans like this if they had to pay some or all of it themselves.

Scherer did not enroll in the General Assembly Retirement System. But, apparently, she didn’t really need to.

* Meanwhile, in a somewhat related story, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency has hired a legislative liaison for the first time ever

The first legislative liaison for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency should have an in with at least one member of the General Assembly.

SARA MEEK, who began the new job on Feb. 18, is the daughter of state Rep. SUE SCHERER, D-Decatur.

Meek, 29, of Springfield, will be paid $81,972 annually in the job. That’s the same amount she was making in a similar post at the Illinois Department of Labor. She’s been with the state since 2006.
CHRIS WILLS, spokesman for the agency, said Meek’s mother, whose 96th House District includes part of Springfield, had nothing to do with her getting the new job.

Meek, however, did have another liaison job before she moved over to IHPA.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


48 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 9:24 am:

    $81,972 not a bad payday for a 29 year old who at best has 7 years experience in the role.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 9:26 am:

    Well, at least Ms. Meek had some experience.

    “CHRIS WILLS, spokesman for the agency, said Meek’s mother, whose 96th House District includes part of Springfield, had nothing to do with her getting the new job.”

    Ok …

    Is that almose like the “leg/wet/raining” saying?

    I’d like to believe him, she has experience, but really, commenting in “absolutes” when discussing patronage/jobs …seems … disingenuous…


  3. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 9:29 am:

    Good work if you can get it.

    For 82K, maybe she can get Scooby and the Gang to solve the mystery of Lincoln’s Hat.


  4. - GA Watcher - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 9:38 am:

    A complicating factor regarding the TRS cost shift is that about 3/5ths of the State’s school districts have agreed to pay a portion or all of the employEE share of pension benefits in the contracts they have negotiated with their local unions. SDs been able to do it knowing the State is picking up the employER share.

    I’m not defending this practice. I’m saying that it needs to be dealt with in any negotiations on the cost shift.


  5. - Skeeter - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 9:39 am:

    We keep hearing from the Dems that if we cut the budget at all, it will mean that orphans starve. There is no pork, they tell us. Every dollar spent is vital.

    And then we read this.

    Too bad we don’t have a GOP in Illinois focused on putting a stop to this sort of stuff.

    Oswego, could you ask your friends nicely if they can stop thinking about how somebody’s marriage destroys the institution of marriage, and civilized society along with it, and instead start thinking about how to save us some cash?


  6. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 9:45 am:

    - Skeeter -,

    I will try…again …but most think I work against them, all the time, so I might not be the best messenger.

    To the Post,

    It is a real good idea to NOT be at the forefront of “pensions” when your daughter becomes the “new” and “First” …”Legislative Liaison” as a family member.

    Self-Awareness is lost on Rep. Scherer.


  7. - cassandra - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 9:45 am:

    I believe Scherer as a teacher doesn’t get Social Security so I assume the $61k and change IS her pension. Doesn’t seem that outrageous to me. Of course, she’ll probably get a legislative pension as well, but retirees becoming legislators is a rare event. $61k makes her a member of the middle class. And she contributed to that pension from her salary.

    That’s the problem I have with all of the “pension reform” proposals. Despite all the Democrats’ posturing about the need to support the middle class, these “reform” measures are largely a whack at the middle class. As is the cost shift. Middle class homeowners will bear the brunt of the latter as property taxes increase.

    As to the lucky daughter, well, if it’s nepotism, it’s legal. I’d be surprised if any new hires or promotions into medium-skilled state jobs didn’t have political connections-Democratic political connections–these days. In a one-party state govt, what else would you expect.


  8. - shore - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 9:50 am:

    I don’t have a problem with her getting the job but it sounds like a $40k a year post, not an $82k a year job.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 9:56 am:

    ===I believe Scherer as a teacher doesn’t get Social Security so I assume the $61k and change IS her pension.===

    Concur, her teacher pension and no SS, you can’t blame her about her work, and her pension. When she was a teacher, that was the deal.

    ===…Of course, she’ll probably get a legislative pension as well, but retirees becoming legislators is a rare event. $61k makes her a member of the middle class.===

    Note: Rep. Scherer has opted-out, as Rich pointed out. That point is Moot.


  10. - Bill White - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 9:59 am:

    From another SJR piece:

    === According to Tim Blair, executive secretary of the state retirement systems, state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, is among 23 lawmakers who had opted out of the General Assembly Retirement System as of last week. ===

    http://www.sj-r.com/top-stories/x930801391/Scherer-got-teacher-pension-boosts-from-pay-hikes?zc_p=2


  11. - East Central Illinois - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 10:03 am:

    Unless PTELL laws are changed, school disticts that operate under the PTELL law will NOT be able to “pass this pension shift on to the taxpayer”. Cuts would need to be made, and the pension portion would take the place in the budget of whatever cut is decided. In any event, a property tax payer in a PTELL school district would not “feel the pain” of the pension shift; only the school district, its employees and unfortunately, most importantly, its students.


  12. - OurMagician - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 10:03 am:

    I’m glad we sent a teacher to the Capitol not a politician.


  13. - cassandra - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 10:13 am:

    Well, if she did, that’s pretty silly. It’s part of the compensation for being an Illinois state legislator. Can she buy back in later? If so, she should.

    While we have many reasons to be disenchanted with our seriously underperforming state legislators, these kinds of voluntary actions are hardly a solution. They should get a fair salary for their time and if we think their collective compensation package is too high, we should change it. And throw them out at the next election.


  14. - M O'Malley - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 10:21 am:

    Maybe we can combine cost-shift and district consolidation? My town with has 2 high schools, each a seperate district so each superintendent makes about $250k. Combine those two and that’s probably about $290k (salary + benefits) that could be used to pay for the shift.


  15. - Fred's Mustache - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 10:22 am:

    === Well, if she did, that’s pretty silly. It’s part of the compensation for being an Illinois state legislator. Can she buy back in later? If so, she should. ===

    She is not alone. As Bill White posted above, 23 other legislators have pledged not to accept the GA pension. I agree with you that it may not be good policy, but it sure is good politics - especially in Decatur (State Sen. Andy Manar also refused the GA pension).


  16. - Tired runner - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 10:26 am:

    Retirees should be very concerned about the public backlash from the generous COLAs that some are receiving. Any retiree that is making over a certain amount should be willing to take a COLA cut or take the COLA every other year. It is much better to give a little to keep what u have, then to be stubborn and lose it all!


  17. - nobody - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 10:30 am:

    The cost shift does not have a specific levy attached to it. As a result, the cost of this shift of responsibility would come out of existing budgets. The state is already prorating General State Aid at 85% and it appears that it will be even less next year (between 75%-80%) This defeats the very purpose of State Aid Formula which is supposed to make up some of the disparity between property rich districts and the poorer ones. The poorer the district, the more revenue that is lost. The difference in the loss between the richest and poorest is over $1500 per student. In other words, the wealthiest districts do not have to cut programs and staff while the poorest districts must cut their already limited programs and staff. It is criminal. It is also sad that most people in Illinois have no clue about any of this. It certainly doesn’t bode well for our state in the near future. The saddest part of this is that there are solutions, expensive solutions, but solutions none the less. Sometimes you just have to “bite the bullet.”


  18. - capncrunch - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 10:32 am:

    -Unless PTELL laws are changed, school districts that operate under the PTELL law will NOT be able to “pass this pension shift on to the taxpayer”.-

    I don’t understand. Can’t a taxing district ask voters to approve a tax increase to fund higher costs?


  19. - cassandra - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 10:48 am:

    TR,I believe the cola is the same for all state retirees. And over the long term, it’s about equal to inflation,meaning these pensions are not going to increase in value. Anyway, it’s almost certainly protected by the state constitution. I seriously doubt that the state employees’ current collective bargaining agents can give it away, even if they wanted to. Which they shouldn’t.


  20. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 10:51 am:

    In fairness to Sara, she was a liaison (and a good one) well before her mother starting running for the GA.


  21. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 10:56 am:

    ===In fairness to Sara, she was a liaison (and a good one) well before her mother starting running for the GA.===

    This ain’t beanbag, and Ms. Meek being the first Legislative Liaison for an agency and your Mom being a freshman legislator is part and parcel of the business.

    They both need to realize that its worth noting, and there may be a perception. It’s part of the deal.


  22. - archimedes - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    The cost shift makes sense. Right now, the State pays the employer pension costs - so the richer school districts get the same % of salary benefit as poorer school districts. In fact, even more - richer school districts are more likley to have higher salaries (an more likley to have the 6% end of career increaes).

    Putting the same money into the General State Aid formula gets the State money for education where it needs to go - to the poorer school districts.


  23. - Jasper - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 11:00 am:

    I haven’t spent all that much time in Springfield, so can one of you regulars let me know why the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency even needs a “Legislative Liaison” at all, much less one making $90,000?

    Seems like that job can be done by a person already on staff.


  24. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 11:01 am:

    A couple thoughts here-
    1) As the full version of the article pointed out, Rep. Shearer was slightly disingenuous as far as her planned and actual retirement dates. Between that and clouting her kid into a well-paid patronage job right out of the gate, perhaps the 96th did “send a politician to the Capitol.”
    2) I’m not opposed to a phased-in cost shift, but it doesn’t address the problem noted in the article. Pensions should be based on time worked, not bogus sick days that often are credited to the books late in the career. It strains credibility to say that a person worked a full career, including having a family, and literally never took a sick day. C’mon man.
    3) Rep. Shearer’s TRS pension is about average based on their current data. As the article noted, she will also draw the GA paycheck of $60k+, making her a “one percenter” in downstate IL.


  25. - unspun - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 11:12 am:

    Sara Meek is one of the best liaisons at the Capitol, and the notion of her transfer having any ties to her mother’s status is ridiculous. She did not receive a pay hike, and she is one of a multitude of liaisons being transferred during a large personnel shift. Move on folks, no scandal here.


  26. - Nickypiii - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 11:15 am:

    CLOUT IS STILL ALIVE? OH MY GOD! I DIDN’T KNOW!!!!!


  27. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 11:24 am:

    ===Move on folks, no scandal here.===

    lol - If so many are moving and shifting, it is quite amazing then that an agancy that never HAD a Liaison before… with all this movement … now HAS one … ===Move on folks, no scandal here.===

    Wait, let me fix my Tin Foil hat, just to be fair to your point.


  28. - Downstate Illinois - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 11:31 am:

    This is a brand new legislative liaison position for an agency that has lost two-thirds of its staff over the last 12-13 years in its historic preservation division.


  29. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 11:34 am:

    ==Sara Meek is one of the best liaisons at the Capitol, and the notion of her transfer having any ties to her mother’s status is ridiculous. She did not receive a pay hike, and she is one of a multitude of liaisons being transferred during a large personnel shift. Move on folks, no scandal here.==

    Well said Unspun. This is really a non-issue. She had a leg liaison job and moved to a different agency. If you run thru the list you’ll find a bunch of liaison’s moved, and yes agencies that previously did not have liaisons (the lottery for example) now have a liaison. Also, the fact that they did not have an in-house liaison does not mean that they didn’t have a contract lobbyist before. Sara has had a leg liaison spot for 8 years, and is paid in par with others at that experience level.


  30. - Palos Park Bob - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 11:53 am:

    SDs COULD raise taxes for this without referendum through working cash bond sales. This despicable “loophole” in PTELL allows SDs to sell bonds and pass the full cost of repayment for those bonds directly onto the real estate tax bills without voter approval.

    This can amount to up to 20% of the real estate tax bill depending on a district’s situation.

    The district can sell their full bondable capacity every year, pay it back and do it annually to maximize tax bills. The “pinstripe patronage” crowd of bond underwriters and attorneys LOVE IT!

    Of course, the greedier and less accountable SDs in Illinois (mostly suburban) have been maxing out these bonds for years. When a union “bought and paid for” school board decides to increase salaries and benefits faster than normal tax revenues, they use this sleazy “backdoor” method to cheat taxpayers. Local papers, such as they are, usually don’t even report when this happens.

    Local SDs, admins, and unions have already figured out every trick in the book to play this game. I seriously doubt the appropriate top end cuts, end of career “spiking”, and too early retirement rpograms will be affected by this cost shift!


  31. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 11:58 am:

    ===This is a brand new legislative liaison position for an agency that has lost two-thirds of its staff over the last 12-13 years in its historic preservation division.===

    Golly, then there MUST be a need for a Freshman State Representative’s Daughter to be the Agency’s Liaison, I mean, never having one before, and all those cuts, it makes sense that Ms. Meek go there.

    Further, if they did, indeed, had a contract lobbyist, and now decided to go in-house with a Liaison, golly, what luck!

    My point? It is what it is, and this ain’t beanbag. I said she had experience, I take nothing away from her, but the timing, and her mother, the state legislator’s pension-speak spotlight sometimes makes the media wander around to see and learn more about that legislator .. and her family.

    Part and parcel of the game.


  32. - lincolnlover - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 12:14 pm:

    There was NO liaison for IHPA until now, staff or contractual. As noted previously, this agency has lost 2/3s of its staff at historic sites over the past 12 years and has not had an increase in budget for 20 years to assist with doing exactly what its designed to do: physically preserve historic sites and provide interpretation for Illinoisans about their own history. If Sara can bring home the bacon for IHPA, she will more than earn her supposedly ginormous salary.


  33. - DisgustedOne - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 12:23 pm:

    THink about this now. A 29 year old is making almost $82,000 per year. Her mother, having worked 30+ years and probably invested at least as much continuous education over the years as her daughter, wound up her decades long career with an inflated $89,000. Seven years vs. 35 years. And people are po’d that $61,000 is her retirement? Do you think she’ll be buying Rolls Royces with that $61K or purchasing her 4th vacation home? Her daughter might be able to at this rate when she’s got 35 years in. What are people thinking? Don’t know what$61K buys downstate, but in suburbia, you’d better have some other income or you are in trouble.


  34. - Backwards - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 12:30 pm:

    “I believe Scherer as a teacher doesn’t get Social Security so I assume the $61k and change IS her pension. Doesn’t seem that outrageous to me”

    Scherer is something like 56 years old. Most people don’t get (tax free) retirement at all till they are 59.5, and in many cases 67 years old. Cashing in 11 years before the vast majority of the rest of the people in the State is at least somewhat “outrageous”.


  35. - Anon - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 12:46 pm:

    Anonymous 11:34,
    Sorry but Sara is hardly paid in par with other liaisons at her experience level. Lookup some others, one with 8 years liaison experience at a much bigger agency and 20 years senate staff prior is making $14,000 less than Sara. I can go on but please don’t say it’s par for what others are making.


  36. - Both Sides Now - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 12:47 pm:

    M O’Malley - many people have the mistaken impression that school consolidation is going to save big bucks. As studies have shown, this is often not the case as some additional costs may be incurred. For example, the costs of the additional length of a bus route (especially at a time with the Legislature is cutting busing reimbursement). Futher, in the example you cite with the Superintendent, even if you consolidated the district so there was only one Superintendent, the additional high school would still have to have a Principal (by law) which would be at least $125,000, making the savings less. And in many cases (especially rural areas) the superintendent and principal are the same person.


  37. - jimmy - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 1:24 pm:

    check her salary when her name was scherer and you will see her salary was the result of going in to


  38. - Paul Lyin - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 1:54 pm:

    Its too bad Sara Meek is making the news on this. Although what do you expect when your mom is a State Rep. I think Sara was solid in her role at IDOL. I know that Catherine Shannon trusts her. Catherine is one of the best in the business, who got a bad deal on getting ousted from IDOL director.

    With that being said, $81K is a little steep for the workload of that position.


  39. - Norseman - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 2:00 pm:

    Competent or not, this type of salary for a liasion in such a small agency with its limited legislative workload is obscene. Especially in these tough economic times in state government.

    All but a few MC employees have been frozen at the same salary level for years. Exceptions being Quinn favorites or the rare promotions.

    This is clearly a prime example of why people are cynical about state government. People with 30 plus years experience working without raises for years on end, while young relatives of the connected get high salaries in obscure positions.


  40. - Sir Reel - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 3:53 pm:

    At my former agency pre-Blago our LL’s stayed in the job a long time and knew the agency well. Blago changed that with constant turnover in our LL’s, some only lasting months. I hate to say it but Quinn seems to be continuing this trend. Ms Meek may or may not be qualified and may or may not be overpaid. Let’s see how long she stays.


  41. - cassandra - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 4:54 pm:

    I don’t wish this to be about Ms. Meek, a millenial who came of working age during the great recession. She took advantage of the opportunities available to her, as well she should. Many of her fellow millenials have been far less fortunate.

    All that aside, I do wonder why we taxpayers have to pay for a “multitude” of these medium-skill jobs. A legislative liaison is not a physician or a licensed clinical social worker or an engineer,jobs which required advanced education and competency testing. It’s a midlevel bureaucratic job and it is very unlikely that we need a multitude of them, state govt not being, as the guv said, a jobs farm. Although in Illinois, it seems like it is, really.


  42. - Illannoyed - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 5:13 pm:

    The news of Meek’s employment at IHPA would have been better placed under the “Unpaid Bills” section because one of the reasons Illinois is in the pickle it’s in is the rank politics of hiring, contracting, and purchasing. Bill Cellini elevated it to an art form. According to the Pantagraph’s salary database for 2010, Sara Scherer was making $69,752.29. The SJR’s database records Sara Meek at $78,058.25. Now she is making almost $82,000. Nice work if you can get it. And you can only get it–and the rising salaries (say, $13,000 in a couple of years)–if you are connected. Meek might be competent, but don’t try to kid me, most of all she’s connected.


  43. - M O'Malley - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 6:09 pm:

    @Both Sides Now

    My post was for district consolidation, not school consolidation. So bus routes are n/a to my post. And to your other point: 1)if some rural districts have 1 principal/super, then all 1 district schools should have the position combined. 2) For rural districts, they should combine the HS and middle/grade school into 1 district, and if that requires changing the law, then do it. Sorry, super’s making more than the governor and some college presidents, while having taxpayers not in those districts pay for their retirement is abuse of the system.


  44. - Judgment Day (Road Trip) - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 7:47 pm:

    “Can’t a taxing district ask voters to approve a tax increase to fund higher costs?”

    Yes, but if the school district is ‘capped’, it’s got to be done by referendum.

    PPBob:

    There’s real hard limits to using the ‘Working Cash’ bonded indebtedness capabilities. First off, there’s a max. tax rate to it. Also, if the school district is ‘capped’, then “Working Cash” is part of the capped limit under PTELL.

    You can adjust rates all you want within the cap (if over the cap), but there’s a limit you cannot go above.

    You want to see the RE tax calculation/computation reports generated for each school district for each property tax year by the County Clerk tax extension folks for more details.


  45. - Observer - Monday, Feb 25, 13 @ 8:42 pm:

    I have dealt with Sara over the last few years. She is quite capable, devoted in her work effort, and diligent. I believe that 15 years ago, before times got bad and there were perhaps fewer instances of gross inequities between career staff versus union employees and political appointees, this item would not have gotten as much attention as it has.
    I think the comments of Paul Lyin above are also very much on point. Ms. Shannon is also first rate, was done wrong by this administration, and knows talent when she sees it,


  46. - mainstream voter - Tuesday, Feb 26, 13 @ 6:50 am:

    Sangamo Girl you forgot to mention the Executive I position in Historic Sites, which is also a brand new position (perhaps occupied by you or one of your friends which makes it okay, right?). Sara did receive significant salary increases over the past 4 years due to her PSA position going into the union (as did many other AFSCME members in PSA and SPSA titles — these positions have very large STEP increases). These raises had everything to do with the union and nothing to do with political favoritism.


  47. - Illannoyed - Tuesday, Feb 26, 13 @ 7:00 am:

    Good one, mainstream, trying to blame the union for those pay increases. Again, political favoritism.


  48. - mainstream voter - Tuesday, Feb 26, 13 @ 9:16 am:

    Just stating the facts Illannoyed, which you could verify yourself if you had any interest in the truth. But my guess is you’d prefer not to let the facts get in the way of your ignorant posts.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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        * 11 New Conditions OKed For Medical Marijuana..
        * RTA chief hints at terms of acceptable deal wit.....
        * SIU chancellor candidate Benoit: Recruit early .....
        * Council to consider rescinding, revising right-.....
        * Academic Senate approves proposal on hiring pol.....


        * Killer who got mandatory life term at 14 resentenced to life
        * Ferguson to pay attorney $1,335 an hour to pursue reforms
        * Gambling hearings bring expansion talks back into spotlight
        * Correction: Closer Look-Privatizing DCEO story
        * Illinois medical marijuana approved for PTSD, osteoarthritis
        * New rules stop solitary confinement for juvenile inmates
        * Illinois native, event planner to run state fairs
        * U of Illinois faculty wary of new background checks

        * Cullerton: Time to start focusing on the budget
        * New Illinois State Fair manager Patrick Buchen also will head Du Quoin fair
        * Illinois medical marijuana OK'd for PTSD, osteoarthritis
        * Lawmakers hear testimony about gambling expansion in Illinois
        * New manager of Illinois State Fair also will head Du Quoin fair
        * Illinois medical marijuana won't be OK for anxiety, diabetes
        * Illinois sues 5 companies for student loan repayment scams
        * Rauner DCEO privatization idea raises oversight concerns
        * Watchdog group: Poor living conditions plague Vienna lockup
        * Langfelder: Handle high-speed rail oversight locally

        * FERC energy saving rule to get Supreme Court hearing
        * RTA chief hints at terms of acceptable deal with Rauner
        * Why investors are disappointed with McDonald's latest fix-it effort
        * Two Illinois battery makers look for spark through merger
        * Absentee guvs get heat for too much time on campaign trail


          * CTA veteran Dorval Carter to return from D.C. to run transit agency
          * Officials: Well-known food writer Josh Ozersky found dead in Chicago
          * Police: 3 shot on Northwest, West sides
          * Cook County court's fee for children's room is unconstitutional, suit says
          * Cop impersonator loved the bond of 'a law enforcement family'
          * Rev. Curran may face long road back to pulpit after breaking chastity vow
          * Annual push for Illinois gambling expansion begins
          * Teen charged with shooting Oak Park police officer


          * Former Illinois Gov. Dan Walker dies at age 92
          * Illinois medical marijuana approved for PTSD, osteoarthritis
          * Englewood neighborhood wary of Spike Lee's 'Chiraq'
          * New Illinois policy: No solitary to punish juvenile inmates
          * NTSB: CTA shares blame for O'Hare Blue line crash
          * Sheriff's office announces new mental health clinic
          * On the streets of Baltimore, trying to understand the anger
          * College of DuPage puts president on administrative leave
          * Culturally-sensitive workouts yield health results for immigrants
          * Chicago May Day protests to include anti-violence as theme


          * Cullerton: Time to start focusing on the budget
          * New Illinois State Fair manager Patrick Buchen also will head Du Quoin fair
          * Kim Clarke Maisch: A plan to change Illinois' business climate
          * Kathleen Parker: Wife of the party
          * Illinois medical marijuana OK'd for PTSD, osteoarthritis
          * Lawmakers hear testimony about gambling expansion in Illinois
          * Illinois sues 5 companies for student loan repayment scams
          * Paul Findley: The choice is justice or mercy
          * Rauner DCEO privatization idea raises oversight concerns
          * Statehouse Insider: Sometimes lucky is good enough


          * SIU chancellor candidate Benoit: Recruit early and often
          * Open Line
          * Patsy Tauscher
          * Ralph Kennedy
          * Donnie Allen
          * Curtis Gream
          * Shirley Brasel Murray Clark
          * Oliver McClellan Jr.
          * Seth Bennett
          * William Atkins


          * Hunter backs Hughes with 3-run HR as Twins beat A's 8-7
          * Images: Met Gala
          * Australia cuts its benchmark interest rate quarter percentage point to record low of 2 percent
          * Imrem: With Bulls' Rose, there's always some drama
          * WW South pulls even with Glenbard North

          * Dold, Bost on “most vulnerable” list
          * Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Lead Effort ...
          * Why isn't this vulnerable New York Republi...
          * Armenian-American judge marks WWI-era kill...
          * Armenian-American judge marks World War I-...
          * Armenians Commemorate Centennial Of Genoci...
          * Armenian-American US judge marks centennia...
          * Armenian-American US judge marks genocide ...
          * Republicans back bill letting illegal immi...
          * Riopell: Aaron Schock's loss is Bob Dold's...

          * Durbin wants debt relief for former Everes......
          * CTA veteran Dorval Carter to return from D......

          * Iran debate gives 2016 hopefuls a chance t......

          * Scenes From Leland & Broadway
          * Lincoln lore lives on; perhaps we could include it in Cinco de Mayo tribute
          * Turning Illinois into Enron. Go Blackhawks.
          * Teacher Appreciation Week. Keep the mug.
          * May Day Protesters In Chicago
          * Broadway Going Retro -- Southbound Lanes Closed This Weekend
          * IL Advisory Board Recommends 11 New Conditions Eligible For Medical Marijuana
          * May Day Protest Outside Mexican Consulate
          * "Disappeared' Posters Pasted At Mexican Consulate By May Day Protesters
          * DOJ Launching $20 Million Effort To Expand Police Body Cameras


          * DIRECTOR PHILIP NELSON ANNOUNCES NEW STATE FAIR MANAGER - Illinois Native Returns Home to Manage Springfield and DuQuoin Fairs
          * Emergency Preparedness Important for People with Disabilities and Functional Needs - Ready Illinois website offers preparedness tips for people, caregivers
          * Four Science Students Receive Environmental Excellence Awards from Illinois EPA
          * Illinois Senate Confirms Tom Tyrrell to Lead the Department of Central Management Services - Tyrrell brings vast private, public, and military sector experience to lead CMS
          * IDOT Listening Tour Continues Next Week in 12 Illinois Communities





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