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Morning shorts

Thursday, Sep 5, 2013

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* I promise my being here does not signal the start of the Great Ginger Uprising…yet.

Rich is still out, but rest assured he shall return early next week from…

He may be looking for a new “intern emeritus.”

Hey, I’m all for new members to the Capitol Fax Intern Caucus.

* We’re going to get off to a slower start today. I have a class on Wednesday nights that runs into the early morning hours. I have a couple posts lined up that I’ll try to push out by this afternoon. Until then, here’s a rundown on some of today’s headlines…

* Biss: UPDATE: Pension conference committee: This process has been lengthy, partly due to the difficult and contentious nature of the issue — even as we hone in on a recommendation, conference committee members are hashing out every aspect of the topic carefully, and many components require significant compromise from all participants. Perhaps even more importantly, we are taking very seriously the need for a robust, credible actuarial evaluation of our final product. Consequently, we are requesting very thorough — and, yes, time-consuming — studies of our ideas.

* Pension fund buys River North apartment tower: The pension fund acquired a majority stake in Kingsbury Plaza, a 47-story tower just north of the East Bank Club in River North, according to people familiar with the transaction. TRS acquired its interest from GE Asset Management, which built the 420-unit high-rise in 2007 in a joint venture with Chicago-based apartment landlord Habitat Co.

* New Chamber CEO Mintle can’t lobby till 2015

* Study: Poverty increases fast in Chicago suburbs: The number of suburbanites living in poverty had grown to 629,564 by 2011, according to a review of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Heartland Alliance, a nonprofit group that fights poverty. That’s 95 percent higher than the 1990 number, the report said. That increase was faster than the 29 percent overall suburban population growth during the period.

* ‘I’m the guy you’re looking for’: Escaped prisoner with Glen Carbon ties recaptured: Carter was spotted by local police in Palestine, Ill., on Tuesday afternoon walking down the street about seven miles from the prison. When stopped, Carter told police, “I’m the guy you’re looking for” and surrendered without confrontation, then asked for water. Carter was part of a mowing detail at the minimum-security prison, located about 110 miles southeast of Champaign near the Indiana border. While assigned to the work crew cutting grass on the prison grounds, he walked away.

* Nearly $1 million awarded in Illinois inmate death suit

* Topinka: Illinois can regain fiscal footing

* Consumer protection clinic turns to talk about state’s bills

* Jack Higgins’ on State Capitol Rehab

* Brown: Restoring majestic state Capitol is one thing, but $669,608 for doors?

* Journal Star: Roads must be maintained, but let’s face it, there’s a cost

* Push for teacher quality in Illinois takes toll on minority candidates

* Higher Ed Leader Says President’s Plan Reflects Illinois Efforts

* Report: Farmers Could Do More To Lessen Impact Of Drought: The Natural Resources Defense Council says farmers could have greatly reduced losses, if they had been working to improve soil health. The NRDC suggests that planting certain grasses and legumes, and implementing a set of soil conservation practices, could nearly drought-proof fields. That would save farmers a lot of headache and taxpayers a lot of money

* Quinn Declares September “Recovery Month”

* Illiana expressway gets red light from planning group: “The current plan for the Illiana does not demonstrate significant transportation or economic benefits in exchange for high and uncertain costs,” the council said in a statement. “MPC opposes the Illiana.”

* Whole Foods developer gets $10 million city subsidy: (Walter) Robb promised to “learn and listen” to Englewood residents, serve “what the community wants, so long as it meets our quality standards” and offer “affordable” prices. “I don’t yet know exactly how we’re gonna do that . . . But, we’ve had some experience in the last year in Detroit,” he said of the 21,000-square-foot store now exceeding expectations in Midtown, one of that bankrupt city’s more vibrant communities.

* Whole Foods coming to Englewood

* Public hearings begin for CPS master plan

* Loyola gets vacated street to create more of a campus feel in Rogers Park

* Morton College gets $4.5 million classroom addition funding

* Midway to get speedier security screening by year’s end

* Des Plaines River flood plan calls for new levees, wetlands, dam removal

* Bomb threats made against Kane County courthouses

* Rockford’s use of funds questioned by feds

* Stimulus money went for paintball, movie tickets

* Rockford may dissolve department in stimulus audit aftermath

* Houston: I’ll Start Thinking About Re-Election Next Spring: But half-way through a term he had said would be his last, Mike Houston is now hinting at the possibility of re-election.

* Panhandling Suit Filed In Springfield

* (Springfield) To Help Foot Bill For EPA Coal Tar Cleanup

* IDNR demonstrates how to reel in a healthy pond

* EIU enrollment off but freshman on the rise

* Shelbyville City Council says it’s time to tighten finances

- Posted by Barton Lorimor        


43 Comments
  1. - Juvenal - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 8:08 am:

    The fact that nearly half the families living in poverty in Chicagoland live outside the city ought to be an eye opener for suburban lawmakers.

    It further dims Durkin’s hopes of picking up any seats unless his party does an about face on some issues, like their lockstep opposition to raising the minimum wage.

    Its also a caution to suburban Democrats to be more thoughtful in not just their voting record, but their tone. You can’t just mimic Republican talking points on economic policies if you want the working poor to vote for you.


  2. - Juvenal - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 8:11 am:

    BTW, I wouldnt be surprised if a significant factor in the rise in suburban poverty is retirees who took a massive hit on their 401k plans. Something to think about, Senator Biss.


  3. - Judgment Day (Road Trip) - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 8:33 am:

    “Farmers Could Do More To Lessen Impact Of Drought: The Natural Resources Defense Council says farmers could have greatly reduced losses, if they had been working to improve soil health. The NRDC suggests that planting certain grasses and legumes, and implementing a set of soil conservation practices, could nearly drought-proof fields. That would save farmers a lot of headache and taxpayers a lot of money.”

    Yes. And a nice, pretty report from an advocacy group 1,000 miles away is pretty useless. The NRDC comes across as climate change zealots, and everything they push ties directly into that advocacy cause.

    The farming community tends to be skeptical of zealots - particularly folks who haven’t spent much time farming, and who are big federal government ‘farming regulation’ policy advocates.

    You want to convince the farming community? - not the way to accomplish it.


  4. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 8:42 am:

    “A class that runs until the early morning hours”, didn’t know the Globe and Floyds are now offering credits.


  5. - RNUG - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 8:53 am:

    Senator Biss,

    You asked for suggestions and comments. Addressing your items in order, here are mine:

    1) Lowering the employee contribution, which is supposedly the “consideration”, is just going to result in less funding going into the systems. Doesn’t seem like a smart idea since only the employees / retirees were the only people making the full requested contribution. Plus it is not “consideration” for the already retired.

    2) Changing the AAI to 1/2 CPI will gradually impoverish the retirees. In the long run, you’ll just end up with a bunch of retirees on the welfare rolls also. Maybe that’s the goal, to shift IL pensioners to welfare where the Feds pay most of it?

    In case you missed it the other day, I suggested changing the AAI from a fixed 3% to floating with the CPI with NO CAPS. If you truly believe the economists who think this period of low inflation will continue, then the State will have a lower COLA cost. This is one change I would seriously consider if offered a choice.

    3) Staggered delays in AAI - again, I addressed this a bit differently the other day by suggesting that the AAI be set to a fixed level of either 1.5% or 2% for the next 5 budget years and then allow the actual CPI to kick in. It would provide a smooth transition.

    4) Fully funding the pension system is something you have to do anyway. It’s not “consideration”, you’re not giving the employee or retiree anything thye aren’t already entitled to (see various court decisions).

    5) Dedicating the pension monies being used to pay pension bonds today is a good move, AS LONG AS the State also continues their required funding and doesn’t pull a Lottery style “bait and switch”.

    6) I don’t have sufficient background to intelligently comment on changing the actuarial method.

    7) I don’t have sufficient background to intelligently comment on changing the money option interest rate but from what I’ve read, it sounds like it will adversely impact retirees … which is not a good thing.

    One of the items that is not on your list of considerations is shifting the normal cost of pensions for both TRS and community colleges with a taxing district. That should definitely be on the table.

    The other missing item is raising the revenue required to properly fund the pension systems. Raise the income taxes that have been kept artificially low since the mid-70’s or restructure the sales tax or even consider the $1 per trade tax on the CBOT that others have suggested.

    To be blunt, it’s time for the GA to stop talking about penalizing the retirees who did their part and follow the law.


  6. - Roadiepig - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 9:16 am:

    RNUG- did you read the editorial from the Peoria Journal about properly funding road maintenance for state roads? They admit that the chronic underfunding of the road repairs is comparable to the underfunding of the pensions due to an antiquated taxing system used to pay for these repairs. The thing I took away from their op-Ed was that we need to find a new way to properly find the system. I wonder why these same editorial boards don’t clamor for the same funding increases to pay for the pensions?


  7. - Roadiepig - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 9:17 am:

    Fund not find the system. Forgot to proofread


  8. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 9:38 am:

    The mayor of Minneapolis is in Chicago today to launch an ad campaign encouraging Illinoisans to trek to the Twin Cities for gay marriages.

    That’s brilliant. Weddings are a heck of a party and good for business. Lots of folding money changes hands.

    So those smart Vikings figure out a happy way to drum up business.

    What do we have? Window-peeking holy men — always with their hands out for public money — who tell you your soul’s in peril for even supporting gay marriage.


  9. - Pete - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 9:46 am:

    This is interesting?
    What defines poverty?
    The college grad in his 30’s living in his parents basement?
    A family of 6 living on a single underemployed salary?
    The 50 year old professional that has just come off of employment and is tapping into savings just to stay in his home?


  10. - Roadiepig - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 10:07 am:

    Barton- as a proud grandparent of a beautiful 5 year old, fire-red headed granddaughter I look forward to the inevitable ginger uprising ;-)


  11. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 10:11 am:

    I would suspect that most of the suburban poverty is concentrated in the south and near west suburbs of Cook County…there are other pockets of poverty in the collars, especially urbanized Aurora, Joliet, Waukegan, etc. “Poverty” in Dixmoor means something a lot different than being upside down on your $400,000 mortgage in DuPage.


  12. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    Official poverty thresholds and guidelines: http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/13poverty.cfm


  13. - mythoughtis - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 10:19 am:

    Thanks for including the EIU article. When the SIU article came out yesterday, I thought we needed to know what the other state university enrollment decrease/incease was too. That way we can determine if it is unique to 1 or 2 or across the board.


  14. - Earl Shumaker - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 10:22 am:

    RNUG- Thanks for all your comments. You articulated my thoughts very well. I do hope that you share your comments with Biss


  15. - Federalist - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 10:34 am:

    As to the rapid increase of poverty in Chicago suburbs, it would be interesting to see an objective study on the demographics of these areas.

    I would not be surprised to see a tremendous increase I the number of poor immigrants (both legal and illegal) who now live in these suburbs.

    I know that when I am in the Chicago area the number of Hispanic radio stations (some with no English) is prolific.

    Poor Hispanics are not the only group either. They come from everywhere around the world and far too many have any real skills. Indeed, the mayor’s office sets up out reach to new immigrants so that they can contact various welfare offices.

    But the Democrats and the Chamber of Commerce Republicans want ever more poverty to reduce wages creating ever more poverty for all groups of people. No politicians or member of the MSM has the guts to state these realities or at least to have a careful objective look into the matter.

    And as the state becomes ever poorer, pensions can always be used as the reason for all problems.

    It will get worse.


  16. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 10:38 am:

    –Poor Hispanics are not the only group either. They come from everywhere around the world and far too many have any real skills. Indeed, the mayor’s office sets up out reach to new immigrants so that they can contact various welfare offices.–

    What in the world are you talking about? Just how many “various welfare offices” are there?


  17. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 10:39 am:

    RE: Des Plaines River flood plan calls for new levees, wetlands, dam removal

    Save Gene and Jude’s!


  18. - Demoralized - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 10:39 am:

    @Federalist:

    That’s pretty cynical to suggest that people WANT others to be in poverty. I don’t believe that for one second.


  19. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 10:42 am:

    I agree about immigrants and retirees contributing to poverty numbers but also what about adult millenials? Even college educated millenials are struggling to find decent paying full time work in this economy and Id imagine the more impoverished ones stay in or return to the suburbs whereas young adults who can afford to move to the city get out of the burbs.


  20. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 11:08 am:

    I posted something earlier, but it didn’t take. The Posting Gremlin got me. Sorry if I’m double-posting.

    One of the reasons the economy is weak is stagnant wages. I support a minimum wage increase, to help boost the state’s economy. Quinn, to his credit, also supports it. In a Pew poll released earlier this year, Americans overwhelmingly support a minimum wage increase. U.S. House Republicans pretty much unanimously voted against a modest minimum wage increase.


  21. - 3rd Generation Chicago Native - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 11:22 am:

    Barton,
    Can you take a picture and post it of that new very expensive door on the State Capital. There is a lot of buzz on Chicago radio, and TV news but no pictures. It is a $650K+ door.
    Thanks


  22. - RNUG - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 11:29 am:

    Grandson of Man @ 11:08 am:

    You are aware that the $8.25 minimum wage in Illinois is higher than the Federal minimum wage of $7.25? Illinois is one of the higher minimum wage states; only 3 states (OR, VT, WA) have higher, 2 states (CT, NV) and DC have the same, and 44 states have lower minimum wages.

    If a higher minimum wage is good economically, why aren’t we seeing the benefits in Illinois?


  23. - Demoralized - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 11:30 am:

    ==If a higher minimum wage is good economically==

    It is for the people earning it.


  24. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 11:43 am:

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/illinois/critics-say-illinois-capitol-s-doors-too-pricey/article_95bab190-5d95-5258-98e7-e2b6fa767313.html

    Article has photo of doors. Nice looking but wonder about the price. I would have expected doors with more decoration than these. Maybe it’s the price of copper?


  25. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 11:45 am:

    Kingsbury Plaza,isn’t that the building that the President’s assistant, Valerie Jarrett owns 15% of? Wasn’t she granted an ownership stake because of her “assistance” to the developers? No money invested by her?


  26. - RNUG - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 11:47 am:

    Roadiepig @ 9:16 am:

    Just makes more of a case for reforming the entire Illinois tax system. I used to support the flat tax but not any more; it’s become clear that a graduated income tax needs to be part of the revenue mix if the State is to ever solve it’s funding problems.

    Notice I said PART of the revenue mix. The State needs massive new tax revenue to ever catch up and stay ahead of the GA’s tendency to spend money on new programs.

    Going off on a bit of a tangent / history lesson, back when the State changed from Personal Property Taxes (and some other sources) to the new flat Income Tax (1971, FY71/FY72), it only took until FY75 for the State to have expanded programs so much that the State again began shorting the pension funds (see IFT v Lindberg, 1975). That underfunding has continued on a semi-regular basis ever since.

    And let us not forget the Lottery ‘bait and switch’ scheme that let the GA divert GRF monies from school funding to other spending so they could avoid raising the income tax.

    Given the historical fact the GA can go through new revenue sources in just a few years, not only does the income tax need to either be raised or made progressive, the sales tax needs to be expanded to services, and a CBOT fee needs to be imposed with a fixed percentage of every one of those increases DEDICATED to paying down the pension funds shortfalls. Otherwise the GA will just spend it all on new programs instead.


  27. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 12:08 pm:

    mythoughtis–

    ISU enrollment has dropped 2.5% this fall–

    http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/education/isu-enrollment-drops-freshman-diversity-up/article_4d05df66-163a-11e3-8aa1-0019bb2963f4.html

    –20,272 with a slightly smaller freshman class of 2,981 from the 2012 number of 3,088.


  28. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 12:41 pm:

    RNUG,
    You are correct, Illinois has a higher minimum wage. The overall economy is weaker in part because of sluggish wages. Consumer spending needs more stimulation. I support a modest minimum wage increase–perhaps not as high as the fast-food strikers want–but one starting at the minimum of $10-$11 per hour. That’s beyond the state minimum wage, which is only modestly higher than the federal minimum wage.

    We can also ask ourselves why wealth accumulating at the top hasn’t produced a more-robust economy? Why hasn’t the gradual diminishment of labor strength over the last 30 or so years significantly improved the economy and produced a flourishing middle class? With the labor union rate at a historical low, why is the economy not stronger?


  29. - Pete - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 12:46 pm:

    I think poverty is going up because the working middle class families in Illinois are leaving the state to avoid the taxes that support those in poverty.

    The demographics we need to look at is population coming into the state versus the population leaving the state.

    The rich and Single Yuppies could care less what their tax rates are and where those dollars go.
    Illinois does very little for working middle class families.


  30. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 12:50 pm:

    –I think poverty is going up because the working middle class families in Illinois are leaving the state to avoid the taxes that support those in poverty.–

    I’m sure you have a lot of evidence to back that up.


  31. - Demoralized - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 1:29 pm:

    @Pete:

    I think poverty is going up because more and more people are struggling. I know my salary is worth a lot less buying power than it used to be. I’m not sure what is driving your assumption of all of these people leaving Illinois but I think if you looked at facts you would come to a different conclusion.


  32. - 3rd Generation Chicago Native - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 1:30 pm:

    Thanks Nearly Normal!
    Wow these doors are not that impressive considering the cost!


  33. - Old and In The Way - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 2:24 pm:

    Pete
    The facts don’t back your assertion. In fact people are not leaving Illinois and neither are corporations. The data is there if you care to deal in facts and not fantasy. However, we are losing small businesses and there are a host of other regressive issues, such as workman’s comp. Clearly there is work to be done but the biggest reason for the rise in poverty is the widening gap in income between the haves and have nots. It’s a problem in Illinois and across the US.


  34. - Old and In The Way - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 2:28 pm:

    Pete
    By the way….taxes in Illinois are not that high! Even with the income tax hike we are a lower tax state than our neighbors! Remember we are a flat tax state……good for the rich and regressive for the poor and middle class. It would be helpful for the general debate and discussion for you to get your facts from somewhere other than the Trib or the Illinois Policy Institute…..


  35. - Pete - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 3:16 pm:

    My perspective is based first hand speaking with neighbors and co-workers. Many are moving to Indiana and crossing the border to work in the city (taking advantage of PACE van sharing.) Some are moving out of state to Minnesota and Wisconsin.

    My experience doesn’t reflect all of Illinois, nor does the study go beyond the suburbs and city of Chicago.

    Our taxes in the burbs are going up for schools at the max of 7% and then the Districts are using loop holes (issuing bonds) to grab more money out of our property taxes.

    Our public worker pensions are passed on to us and itemized on our County property tax bills.

    Cook County capped commercial and industrial property taxes at 25%.

    Every local municipal board under the sun wants to play developer and create a TIF district.

    It’s getting more difficult to be a taxpayer that has to cover the mismanagement of the state.

    When the federal income tax break expired we still had the Illinois Income Tax so we lost that trade off.

    There are two ways to increase poverty. The existing population loses value, or a percentage of population with value leaves the area.

    When banks were lending people money to buy houses they couldn’t afford before the housing bust the situation encouraged ‘over’paying the middle class to leave. Then when the homes were foreclosed on, the people that were there stayed.

    Now that the housing market is starting to thaw, middle class families are looking to sell their homes and leave the state.

    Again, just my opinion from looking at all the ‘For Sale’ signs down the street.


  36. - huggybunny - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 3:17 pm:

    Lowering the employee contribution, which is supposedly the “consideration”

    So if you’re eligible to retire, get out now before they pass whatever bill they come up with so this “consideration” doesn’t apply to you, or are they working on a different “consideration” for those who are retired. Any and all opinions/advice appreciated!


  37. - RNUG - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 3:49 pm:

    To add a bit to what -Old and in The Way- said, if you really want business to prosper in Illinois, eliminate the Corporate Income Tax. That would really benefit the smaller businesses. It wouldn’t matter to the big businesses because they already have special breaks or cut deals with the State on job incentives so their actual tax rate is already zero or close to it. But it’s the small businesses that drive economic recovery. In order to eliminate the corporate tax, you would have to raise additional revenue, either from the individual income tax or one of the other sources I’ve previously mentioned.

    Oh yeah, eliminating the Corporate Income Tax will also require amending that pesky IL Constitution. Maybe we can make it progressive at the same time we do away with the direct tie between individual and corporate rates …


  38. - Federalist - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 4:34 pm:

    huggybunny,

    Stop trying to use common sense. Just because the state lowers the pension contribution for current workers does not mean they will not use it as an excuse lower everyone’s COLA including those who have been retired for years everybody.

    There a number of legislators as well as the Governor who are real mental lightweights and logic means nothing. The want to cut pensions and use it for other purposes- Period.


  39. - kayaker - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 4:42 pm:

    I don’t have a problem generating new revenue tax wise the problem is the GA would blow the money on new spending rather the taking care of the pension or old bills


  40. - Federalist - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 5:07 pm:

    RNUG,

    I really enjoy your comments and insights. About 90% of the time I agree with you (that is a record for me)

    However, your following post is something with which I must take exception. You have noted very accurately that the state raises taxes and then spends it quite quickly. The same will happen to any new taxes and a so-called progressive tax will be a bonanza for those who want to expand government and pork projects. There never will be enough money for them- same is true for a lot of individuals.

    The original state income tax was pushed as a way to increase education funding and reduce property taxes. The gambling was also to be used for education. It is all a sham. Do not think for one second that any tax increase will be used to pay off pension debt.

    Already Medicaid under ObamaCare is to be expanded estimates range from 400-700,000. And to believe that the FEDS will pick this up forever is not believable.

    I will stop for now. You get my point.

    “Given the historical fact the GA can go through new revenue sources in just a few years, not only does the income tax need to either be raised or made progressive, the sales tax needs to be expanded to services, and a CBOT fee needs to be imposed with a fixed percentage of every one of those increases DEDICATED to paying down the pension funds shortfalls. Otherwise the GA will just spend it all on new programs instead.”


  41. - RNUG - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 6:03 pm:

    Federalist @ 5:07 pm:

    Believe me, I get your point. After 45+ years of observation, I have every confidence that the GA can find a way to spend any amount of money that is available. That’s why whatever is done revenue-wise must be in the form of dedicated monies for the pension systems.

    I would add that it is estimated about half of the Medicaid expansion in Illinois will not be 100% federally funded because those people are already Medicaid eligible but not receiving it because they were not aware they could receive it. That will be an immediate hit to the State budget.


  42. - Fed up - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 6:17 pm:

    Nice that Madigans (who wants draconian cuts to earned pensions) mouthpiece Steve Brown is defending paying $670,000 dollars for doors to Capitol. Nothing’s to nice for Madigans workplace but let’s ripoff the pensioners.


  43. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Sep 5, 13 @ 8:14 pm:

    Good Update by Sen. Biss–great to understand better what they’re up to, but hopefully it means it’ll ALSO all be coming to an end…soon!!!


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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        * Quinn To Call Special Session..
        * Quinn Wants Special Election To Replace Topinka..
        * Quinn Sets Special Session..


        * China pledges to speed entry of US pharmaceuticals
        * Report: Illinois fails to monitor runaway kids
        * Gov. Quinn calls session for comptroller election
        * Chickenpox forces southern Illinois prison lockdown
        * Instructor at Illinois school for visually impaired arrested
        * Chicago announces plans to build 88-story skyscraper
        * GOP says Rauner should appoint next comptroller
        * Quincy mother gets 2 years for unlawful restraint
        * Contract to bring 75 jobs to Scott Air Force Base
        * Illinois jobless rate falls to 6.4 percent

        * Quinn calls legislature back to Springfield to approve special election to replace Topinka
        * Audit: DCFS loses track of runaways
        * Audit: Illinois fails to monitor runaway kids
        * Chicago couple convicted of stealing state grants
        * Topinka remembered as tough, honest leader at memorial service
        * Illinois employers reminded of income-tax rollback
        * Memorial service for Topinka begins in suburban Chicago
        * Police use vacant Jacksonville site to train for worst-case scenarios
        * State-grant fraud case in hands of federal jury
        * Gov.-elect Rauner says some agency directors may stay

        * Great moments in Chicago architecture 2014
        * Restaurant menus shed some weight
        * McDonald's to sponsor 2015 SXSW festival
        * Chicago tourism arm opens fourth bureau in China
        * Dow soars more than 400 points


        * A whole lot of nothing from the City Council
        * Dozens gather at Logan Square eatery for ‘Serial’ podcast finale
        * Sony’s choice on ‘The Interview’ is one lost battle in a long war
        * Playing for dollars, smiles at O’Hare
        * Rewriting the Sony cyberattack script
        * Sony’s choice on ‘The Interview’ is one lost battle in a long war
        * Emanuel denies Willie Wilson petition challenge is racist ploy
        * Ex-FBI agent’s book tells mob tales in ‘A Gun in My Gucci'
        * Off Message: The Year in Review
        * Dem Rep. Bill Foster talking to big donors about U.S. Senate race


        * Metra train fatally hits pedestrian in Oak Forest
        * Chicago man shot to death in Montgomery
        * 3 people injured in separate shootings
        * Santa helps Catholic school complete fundraising mission
        * Rahm Emanuel defends record on ethics in first term
        * Restaurants that repeatedly failed health inspections in 2014: analysis
        * Second bottlenose dolphin born at Brookfield Zoo
        * 2 found dead in South Side home died in murder-suicide
        * Wisconsin girls in Slenderman case ruled competent to stand trial
        * North Chicago 21-year-old dies after hit and run in Waukegan


        * Parties' Power Grabs In Battle For Comptroller; Quinn Calls Legislators Into Special Session
        * Let's Talk Kids - "Your Phone-a-Friend List"
        * Vatican signals new tone on US nuns
        * StoryCorps: Bilingual pre-school teacher describes the state of education in Chicago
        * Chicago mayor's commission unveils plan for a safer Chicago
        * US announces protections for transgender workers
        * Cook County to join cameras-in-court program
        * IIAA Teaches Life Skills Through Sports
        * Illinois Republican: Cuba Agreement "Good First Step"
        * Unions sue to stop Chicago pension overhaul


        * E.J. Dionne: Chuck Schumer: Take two
        * Esther Cepeda: The rainbow that isn’t
        * Raoul, Righter, Nekritz, Sandack: Clarifying privacy, eavesdropping bill
        * Quote of the day: Friday, Dec. 19, 2014
        * Quinn calls legislature back to Springfield to approve special election to replace Topinka
        * Audit: DCFS loses track of runaways
        * Audit: Illinois fails to monitor runaway kids
        * Bernard Schoenburg: Schmidt considers challenging Sgro for park board president
        * Brian Sauder: Faithful decisions for the holidays
        * Eugene Robinson: The price of being hacked


        * Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile
        * Clouds will be regular guest in Q-C through the weekend
        * Clouds will be regular guest in Q-C at least through the weekend
        * Upcoming Services (Dec. 19)
        * Man feels shortchanged over postal regs
        * Police Beat
        * Clinton pastor happy for new approach to Cuba
        * ‘Todos somos Americanos’
        * ISVI instructor facing sex abuse charge
        * Cuba relations seen as opening doors


        * Key Profumo scandal figure Mandy Rice-Davies dies
        * Italy's anti-corruption czar to join Rome bid team
        * Funeral service set for former Decatur mayor
        * American Hockey League
        * Jags' Marks caps 21-13 win over Titans with sack

        * Controversy and change mark 2014 in Highla...
        * Bost Readies to Join Congress
        * Republican David Brat Wins Virginia’s 7th ...
        * Rep. Bob Dold
        * Illinois District 10 Race
        * 8 things new members of Congress definitel...
        * Bost to resign early from state house, hea...
        * Mike Bloomberg takes his money local
        * Illinois Rep. Mike Bost flips his lid over...
        * Midterm elections see Big Red wins in Ill....

        * Durbin on Cuba Relations...

        * GOP senator wants 'The Interview' shown at......

        * City Clerk Debuts Online Residential Permit Parking Map
        * Expert Writing Service for Students’ Deductive Writing
        * Will Jan. 8 mean anything?
        * Remember "Night After Night"
        * Santa's Taking The L Through Uptown
        * Party With The Pups At Driftwood
        * Santa's Taking The L Through Uptown (Updated)
        * Kinzinger bullish on America and Illinois
        * Illinois U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk Promises to Screen 'The Interview' at Fundraisers
        * Quinn calls for special session to push special 2016 comptroller election


        * 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
        * Department of Insurance Announces Two Convictions Resulting from its Workers’ Compensation Fraud Investigations - Former Crystal Lake Police Officer and Former Business Owner Convicted




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