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A modest reform with enormous potential

Tuesday, Jul 1, 2014

* Jon Markel

After reading the Sun-Times piece on Navy Pier that was the subject of last Monday’s Papers column, I was curious to see who in our esteemed General Assembly voted for this massive change in how the largest tourist attraction in Illinois and our massive convention center is managed. It took a while to find it because I was looking for something with a title referencing Navy Pier, Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, McCormick Place or similar. Turns out the title I should have been looking for is “SB0028 QUICK-TAKE-COUNTRY CLUB HILLS.”

What the what?!

In the end I found out much more than just who voted for the bill. I’m willing to put this forward as Exhibit 1 in how the Illinois General Assembly is subverting democracy and failing the citizens of Illinois.

The original bill when introduced was a run-of-the-mill eminent domain tax district change for Country Club Hills. You can read the entire text in less than two minutes as it was about half a page long when introduced in the Senate in January 2009.

It bounced around there for a while in committee with a few revisions and then, in April 2009, passed overwhelming in the Senate. Once in the House nothing really happened for over a year, and then this lowly one-page bill passed out of committee and went to the full House on May 5, 2010. The very next day Mike Madigan introduced a floor amendment to the bill.

What possibly could need to be changed on the floor by Mike Madigan after being held for over a year in a committee that Mike Madigan sits on?

Before you answer, remember that floor amendments are supposed to be for hashing out minor things like adding a comma or fixing typos. Committees are where the meat of a bill is chewed through and public comment is given.

So what was his “amendment?” Just the wholesale deletion of every single word in the bill and the insertion of 187 pages of dense legalese changing how McCormick Place and Navy Pier are managed, hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds are issued, and oversight implemented. The good folks of Country Club Hills would have to wait for another day.

At this point I’m sure you are thinking that after such a drastic change to a Senate bill by the House speaker there would be more committee hearings, time for public comment, a chance for members to read 187 pages of dense legalese, and journalists to journal on these changes. Right? Seriously, I know you are thinking that.

WRONG! The House voted on and overwhelmingly passed SB87 on May 6, 2010 (the same day as Madigan’s 187-page floor amendment). The Senate reconciled the changes with their vote on May 7, 2010, one day later. My what an efficient legislature we have.

* Um, OK. Floor amendments are not just for “adding a comma or fixing typos.” I don’t know where he got that. And bills are routinely amended to attach unrelated stuff to them. Happens almost every day.

Also, the writer implies otherwise, but there was a House Executive Committee hearing and the large floor amendment (HFA2) passed unanimously.

* The key to understanding what happened is what transpired right after Madigan filed his big amendment…

This thing was completely wired by leadership. Why? Because it was a hugely important bill and had been negotiated behind the scenes for months and it was almost ready to go. What finally made it a true “go” was this language, which is in both the withdrawn Amendment 3 (which had a hearing) and the almost identical Amendment 4 (which didn’t have a committee hearing)

Provides that the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity shall make an annual incentive grant of $5,000,000 to the Village of Rosemont, to be used by the Village for the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center to retain and attract conventions, meetings, or trade shows with registered attendance in excess of 5,000 individuals that otherwise would not have used the facilities.

I covered this McPier bill closely and I was let in on some of the behind the scenes maneuvering. It was not an easy bill to pass until Rosemont came aboard. Once Rosemont was placated, supporters could hold a House vote. And check out the House roll call. All HDem targets voted against the bill.

Aside from the usual “Don’t let targets be seen as helping Chicago” political crud, the powers that be likely knew there were some other issues here.

* The GA can sometimes seem like it’s moving fast, but the reality is different. Big stuff like this only moves forward after long, often contentious negotiations. And once the final draft is approved, they move quickly to prevent the possibility of interests chickening out. You run your bill when you have the votes, not before, not long after. Too soon, it dies. Wait too long, it can die.

In an ideal world, none of this would happen. But we don’t live in an ideal world. The history of every state and every democratized nation shows that far more gets done during private legislative negotiations than public hearings. The US Constitution itself was written behind closed doors.

* What this McPier bill history shows about Illinois is the power of legislative leadership. When all four leaders get behind something (Leader Cross ended up voting for it) after having been involved in long negotiations that convinced enough interests to have been placated to make it palatable to membership, bills appear to zip through without effort.

For the most part, members trust that their leaders have done the best they could. So they climb aboard without much of any thought. And therein lies the real Statehouse problem.

Despite their reputations, leaders are not all-knowing. And private negotiations take place in such an enclosed bubble that some important questions just never get asked. The original US Constitution had no protections for the press or religion or any of that other stuff until lots of people outside the Philadelphia bubble demanded them.

Assigning the McPier bill to House Exec was another problem because the committee is totally wired. If both chamber leaders are on board, that bill is gonna fly without problems, or any contrarian questioning. Running it immediately on the floor prevents any potential opponents from getting their acts together, and so important questions often don’t get asked there, either.

* The Illinois Constitution requires that bills be read three days in each chamber. The same does not apply to amendments. That ought to be changed to match the bill requirement.

Maybe it would make legislation like the McPier reforms more difficult to pass, but it would probably make the bills better.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


36 Comments
  1. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 11:15 am:

    This is why I can’t quit you.


  2. - Mighty M. Mouse - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    Exceptionally insightful, especially excellent analysis by Rich.


  3. - Been There - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    ===The Illinois Constitution requires that bills be read three days in each chamber. The same does not apply to amendments. That ought to be changed to match the bill requirement. ===
    The fact that amendments don’t need three days pretty much makes the original intent of this part of the constitution moot. Except for legislators to use it as an excuse as to why their constituents bill didn’t get called. “Oh sorry, we ran out of time, maybe get it through next year”.
    But anybody who has been in Springfield a session or two finally realizes what bs the three day reading is. And why they can’t change the bill summary title once a bill is amended is beyond me. That part doesn’t appear to be in the constitution. I guess these little things help us lobbyists justify getting paid.


  4. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    We have a big problem between the Illinois government and its citizens. Repeated polling indicates an incredible level of cynicism. What our state government undertakes to do isn’t meeting citizen’s expectations. What our government charges in taxes to do the job isn’t considered a value by Illinoisans. We jail our elected governors - repeatedly.

    In short - we don’t need to pretend the fracture between Illinoisans and the Illinois government is just going to naturally work itself out this time. We got old Michael J. Madigan’s decades of political experience leading him to believe we can just wait this out without reforms or changes, but it is different this time.

    We need to let the people of Illinois feel that they can change Illinois government. The whole Rauner “shake up Springfield” is based on this. Every time Michael J. Madigan touches something the cynicism rises. When is good buddy and law crafting staffers kill a ballot initiative, the cynicism rises. Every indictment, every scam, every tax increase, every political challenge raises the level of disgust Illinoisans have of their government.

    Old timers tell these folks that they are stupid, ignorant, TEA partiers, Raunerbots, morons, rubes, downstaters, and just flat out ignore them if they make any news. When someone writes an editorial like the one above, they get schooled. When the editorial staff of a paper makes a comment, the legalists comb through their arguments and shoot each of them down.

    It is time to be let the people of Illinois do something besides watch their taxes rise and their elected officials perp walk into jail.

    If we don’t get the support of those who are taxed, it won’t matter the amount of taxes. If we don’t clean our own politicians out of office now and then, it won’t matter who is in office. Illinois government is broken and telling everyone who points that obvious and late-night talk show monologue joke we hear so often, that they are full of crap and are stupid - isn’t going to fix it.

    We live in an Internet age. Open up the channels. Let the people speak. Illinois needs reform. If it was doing what it needed to have done after Ryan got locked up, we wouldn’t be watching Bruce Rauner milking the public anger right into the governor’s chair.

    Do government right - you get to keep the incumbents.

    Keep doing what we’ve see Illinois doing - you end up with a Governor Rauner.

    And who wants that?


  5. - walker - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 11:36 am:

    Four years later, and Markel is figuring this out now? I am sure Rich “got” it day one.

    The use of old bills which aren’t going anywhere, as a vehicle for new comprehensive bills, is standard legislative fare, and it eases the process. The amendments are total replacements, and become in effect new bills.

    To assume they are not reviewed, and negotiated, at least as much as other major bills are, is a mistake. To apply the 3-day reading to all amendments would be to bring the legislative process to a halt. Bad idea.

    To establish by House rules, that all amendments, which are in effect entirely new bills, be treated as new bills, is a reform which makes some sense.

    This bill did have real problems, and I can testify that some of the “targets” voted against it for entirely appropriate non-political reasons.

    Side money for Rosemont, when we’re talking about improving McPier, simply because they compete for convention business, stunk then, and stinks now.

    (That wouldn’t have been Grogan’s deal would it?)


  6. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 11:37 am:

    With your proposed reform, at the very least, one would hope it would avoid the technical mistakes that sometimes end up in such bills by giving drafters some double check time.


  7. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    Edgar was wrong to help kill the call for a new Constitutional Convention. We needed a fresh start between the government and its citizens. When we had a shot at making things better, we chose not to.

    We really lost a lot when that went down at the ballot box.


  8. - Norseman - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 11:44 am:

    It would be a very important reform to have amendments “read” or at least held for a few days before a vote, but it’s not going to happen. The powers that be will never let such a change reach the voters.


  9. - Chicago Publius - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    Rich -

    This is a good example of how legislative leaders, with help from some of the patsies who sit at the state supreme court, subverted the constitutional 3-day reading rule.

    As written, the Illinois Constitution says that no bill may become law unless it gets a reading on 3 separate days in each chamber. This was a great idea in terms of ensuring that the likes of the McPier bill wouldn’t slide through under the cover of night.

    But to give the 3-day reading rule some teeth, the Constitutuion also established the “single subject rule,” under which each bill must be concerned with only one subject. With the single-subject rule in place as intended by the constitutional framers, legislators could not simply “read” a one-sentence bill for 3 days, then radically change it via an amendment, then pass it.

    As I say, the constitutional framers intended that the single-subject rule would give force to the 3-day reading rule, and it seemed to be a good way of ensuring real transparency in the legislative process.

    The problem is that Madigan and other legislative leaders didn’t like to have their hands tied like this, so they engaged in the legal fiction of saying that the bill’s “single subject” would be characterized not by the bill’s content, but by the bill’s title. And of course, the patsies on the bench were happy to go along with this travesty.

    Thus, “A bill relating to local government” can be radically revised over and over again, but as long as the “bill” is read 3 days in the House, it meets the “requirements” of the 3-day reading rule.

    So much for the intention of the constitutional framers.


  10. - Mittuns - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    There are few topics more exciting than shell bills.


  11. - Pete - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    * The Illinois Constitution requires that bills be read three days in each chamber. The same does not apply to amendments. That ought to be changed to match the bill requirement.
    ______

    Good luck getting that on the ballot.


  12. - low level - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    The thing that I’ve never been able to figure out is why the 100’s of shell bills by leaders. I understand the use, etc, but do we really need all those shells? Wouldn’t 30 or so by each leader be enough?

    (Changing the title once it is amended I’ve always thought would be good.).


  13. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    How many regular Janes and Joes really can understand this? Voters do have a responsibility to learn about the issues, etc. We get the gov’t we deserve. But these jamokes work in the rarified atmosphere of high politics and most of us (including me) really don’t have a complete picture of events and motives. The banality of weevil.


  14. - Mittuns - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    @low level - Bills have to be amended with the same subject matter to be used as shells. Local govt bills can only be amended with local govt concerns, etc.

    You never know when you might need those 20 ” An act concerning fish”


  15. - CirularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    Several questions
    1. What is a Markel?
    2. who cares how many shell bills there are? And if you do why?
    3. if you think you have nightmares now just wait till the new Con-Con…opps that wasn’t a question


  16. - Angry Chicagoan - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 12:18 pm:

    If legislative procedure is forcing Madigan and other floor leaders to resort to antics like this in order to move essential legislation, perhaps legislative procedure should be changed? Or else they need to do some educating of the public about how the procedure works, which I think would be difficult for anyone in the audience who isn’t a lawyer . . .

    Good coverage, as others in the thread have indicated, and part of why I keep reading almost every day.


  17. - Upon Further Review - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 12:45 pm:

    This legislature recalls when “the Gray Wolves” controlled the Chicago City Council when Mayor John Hopkins presided over the chamber. Every bill passed is like the Ogden Gas Utility.


  18. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    Hard to believe that this cannot be controlled by the RICO statutes…..


  19. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 1:18 pm:

    Geez, VMan, if only there were a process in place in which citizens could choose their governors and legislators.

    Voters can’t play victims when they elected Blago the second time.


  20. - Norseman - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 1:19 pm:

    VanillaMan, nice rhetorical piece. The only thing you missed was Mom and apple pie. You belittle to “old timers,” but the old timers have the experience to educate others on what they have seen worked and doesn’t work. Based upon what we’ve experienced, Raunervich’s rhetoric if he follows through will not solve Illinois’ problems. What we need is leadership. We need leaders willing to work together to start solving our structural problems. Right now our leaders are primarily focused on maintaining or gaining power. Our current Republican leaders, pushed by the radical right, are more about setting up obstacles than working resolving problems. The Democratic leaders are more about placating their constituency groups than in showing restraint.

    Unfortunately, we don’t seem to grow many real leaders in this television age. That’s why I’m pinning my hopes on Oswego Willy. A person willing to speak like it is.


  21. - Bigtwich - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 1:22 pm:

    The requirement that a bill be read on three different days goes back at least to the 1870 Constitution. I expect all of the procedures complained of go back to at least 1871 so someone other then the current Speaker probably came up with them. Really, he has not been there that long.


  22. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    #mittuns — Does that make them shellfish?


  23. - Lt. Guv - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 1:40 pm:

    He just got it wrong. Floor amendments are fair game. . .not just clerical corrections. The author is just flat out wrong.

    There’s a discussion to be had about germaine, but as far as the process is concerned, he’s just fundamentally mistaken.


  24. - Rod - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 1:45 pm:

    I don’t know Jon Markel at all Rich, but he seemed amazed by a reality of the General Assembly. Your description of the amendment process is accurate. I don’t know a lobbyist who wouldn’t agree with your discussion of the amendment process, but having each amendment do the three step well that is another thing altogether. I suppose I would like it if the amendment was something I needed to lobby against and dislike it if the amendment was something I supported.


  25. - Steve - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 2:13 pm:

    Keep your eyes and ears open on this story. It appears some people don’t understand when you become a charity: those tax-free bonds you issued are now taxable! The IRS and SEC are probably going to be giving an education soon to certain well connected individuals.

    http://nalert.blogspot.com/2014/07/is-irs-and-sec-going-to-be-educating.html


  26. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 2:39 pm:

    But, word, “voters” can’t choose Madigan - only his constituents in his district can. Yet he clearly wields much power way beyond his district and is accountable to only a few voters who likely enjoy and benefit from the power that he has gathered to himself. You know all this. I’m not saying MJM is evil incarnate - at least not when I am being serious. Voters do have the responsibility to become educated on the candidates and issues but they don’t. It explains why, for instance, RB was re-elected.

    But even the best informed knowledgeable voter who lives outside of Madigan’s district can’t express himself electorally re MJM, can he?


  27. - Upon Further Review - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 2:51 pm:

    As for the requirement of three readings of each bill, the State Supreme Court has politely steered clear of the “enrolled bill doctrine” (if the legislative journals indicate that the three readings requirement has been followed, the Court will typically not inquire into whether or not the procedures have actually been observed) in recent years. In a obiter dicta comment, it was noted that the Court reserved the right to revisit the issue in future if the General Assembly kept violating the three readings provisions.


  28. - ??? - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 3:17 pm:

    I feel embarrassed for Jon Markel. If you aren’t sure how the process works, how amendments are used, etc. perhaps you should do a little research before spouting off. And the derogatory reference to “dense legalese?” Of course a bill contains “legalese” - it’s a proposed LAW, not the Cliffs Notes. What a goof.


  29. - logic not emotion - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 3:27 pm:

    Those negotiations are exactly the type of thing that should be covered by FOIA and OMA.


  30. - Sir Reel - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 3:35 pm:

    If I’m understanding this right, I can’t get over the fact that Rosemont gets $5 million a year to make this fly.

    I love it when the GA pulls a fast one with our money.


  31. - Charlie Wheeler - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 3:50 pm:

    Point of Historical Information:

    The Illinois Constitution requires that bills “shall be read BY TITLE on three different days in each house.” The 1870 Constitution said “Every bill should be read AT LARGE on three different days in each house.” The change in terminology was an effort to preclude filibusters that might occur should a lawmaker actually demand a bill to be read from start to finish, as on rare occasions occurred under the 1870 charter. Amendments were not subject to the “at large” requirement in the older charter, nor are they subject to three readings currently.

    The use of “shell” or “vehicle” bills is a longstanding practice; one of the more notable instances occurred in 1983, when legislation to increase state income tax rates was embodied in the conference committee report to HB 1470, which started life as a bill to create an income tax check-off for non-game wildlife.

    Charlie Wheeler


  32. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 4:55 pm:

    low level - The “reason” for all the shell bills is, in part, as follows. When Pate Philip took over the Senate in 1993, he immediately imposed a limit on each Senator of 5 introduced bills and a limit of 3 house bills that could be sponsored in the Senate. More than once during “the Pate Decade” a statute was thrown out by the Illinois Supreme Court for violating the “Single Subject Rule” which was caused as there weren’t sufficient vehicle bills around at the end of session.


  33. - Jon Markel - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 2:57 am:

    Hello Capital Faxers,

    I’m Jon Markel, the guy who was wrong about the scope of floor amendments. I admit it. Mea culpa. Notwithstanding that error pretty much every thing else stands, right? Roughly 24 hours of sunshine on an amendment before it becomes law. And that isn’t even true because there is often a delay, sometimes a significant one, until things are posted on the ILGA website.

    I’m not a lawyer or lobbyist. I go to work every day, pay my taxes, love my family, and volunteer in my community. In the little free time that I have left I also believe I have a responsibility to educate myself about who represents me and how they vote in the legislature. As I stated above this all started because I was interested to know how my Rep and Senator voted on this legislation. In the past week I’ve received a crash course on shell bills, subverting the spirit of the IL constitution, and political expediency in place of transparency. This might be a process that works for the GA leadership and political insiders but it is not one that works for me or my neighbors. I am surprised by the tricks and methods used to obscure legislation in our democratic (note the small “d” this is not a partisan statement) government. It has truly left me disheartened about this state’s prospects for the future, at least with respect to our legislatures’ capacity to effect positive change.

    Some additional thoughts and questions:
    — This was not a shell bill in it’s original incarnation. It was “real” legislation that had already been read 3 times and passed in the Senate with only a minor amendment there. 5 of the 6 constitutionally required readings had already occurred before the amendment making the bill about McPier appeared.
    — I’m not a goof, just a guy trying to figure out how this works who has now been educated on the process. A primer on how things actually work on the ILGA website would be helpful.
    — Since every bill enacted into law starts out with “Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly.” we darn well better get a crack at knowing what is in an amendment. Three days at a minimum.
    — On the ILGA website it states: “An amendment must be germane to the bill that it amends.” http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/glossary.asp
    What is the legal basis for this statement, if any?
    — In this discussion and through the hours I’ve spent reading about the ILGA process I’m feeling a bit like, for the lack of a better term, a muggle. And I don’t mean that I’m ignorant to how governance and the passage of law happens. It is more that there is the process as explained in the state constitution and taught in government class and then there is the wink, wink, nudge, nudge process that actually happens.
    — What great travesty is bestowed upon the citizens of Illinois if the hours of negations and back and forth to get a bill like this passed happened in public? You know, like what is suppose to happen during a legislative debate.

    I welcome any feedback, clarification, and discussion. Please help me learn about this state I call home.

    —Jon Markel


  34. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 7:48 am:

    Thank you for your honest and sincere efforts.

    I believe you shouldn’t need to be a political journalist, a legislator, a lobbyist nor a political science professor to understand our legislative processes.

    The Government works for us. They have a responsibility in times like these, after a decade of scandalous government, after over a decade of shocking debt and after a decade of maladministration, to reach out to Illinoisans in ways to ensure us that they are trying to do a better job. They are not doing that.

    Consequently we repeatedly see polling which indicates an utter lack of appreciation of our governments, a mistrust of our elected officials, and a level of cynicism unmatched by any of the other 49 US States.

    It is just plain wrong to attack sincere citizens who are upset over this. It is just plain wrong to find inaccuracies within their arguments and use those errors as shields to defend what is obviously not working in Illinois. Everyone needs to be more respectful if we hope these dark days in Illinois government end.

    It takes a lot of courage to do what you did. It took even more courage to admit the mistakes you made when you took that public leap. Thank you.


  35. - Norseman - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 9:02 am:

    Jon,

    You ask legitimate questions and hopefully the comments on this post didn’t give you the impression that you were a goof. One of the first things you learn when you come to work here in Springfield is to pretty much forget what you learned in political science class. This is the real world of politics and government. It is about maintaining political power, dealing with egos and trying to govern in the process. The folks get elected are almost always looking to get elected so they are weary to make votes that will jeopardize their position.

    Rich did an excellent job describing the reasons for last minute amendments. While not defending it, it is a political expediency that has been used for ages. Believe or not, the process isn’t as bad as it was when I started. At least now, there is a committee hearing on the amendments. Back then, you would get amendments or conference committee reports that surfaced from what seemed like nowhere. Many of person had to explain to his/her boss how this major change in a law that effects the organization came to be without their opportunity to comment.

    You ask about germaneness. It is a legal requirement that is described in an article, “Using Article IV of the Illinois Constitution to Attack Legislation Passed by the General Assembly,” by Michael J. Kasper, as the following:

    “The Illinois Constitution, like those of forty-two other states, constrains the legislature in its deliberation of legislation. The most significant, and therefore most litigated procedural requirement, is the so-called Single Subject Rule, which is found in article IV, section 8(d), of the Illinois Constitution: ‘[b]ills, except bills for appropriations and for the codification, revision or rearrangement of laws, shall be confined to one subject.’”
    This article will give you a good education on the subject. It was an easy Google.

    Yes the process is frustrating and reform seems to move more slowly than a snail, but it is what it is.


  36. - Steve Rhodes - Wednesday, Jul 2, 14 @ 9:13 am:

    Just to add to Jon Markel’s comment: I was the editor on the piece so I take responsibility for the error; it escaped me. Now fixed.


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        * Hot meals provided to homeless across Chicago area..
        * Rauners serve Thanksgiving meals at West Side s.....
        * Will Rauner want the mansion?..


        * Against odds, Chicago school aims for championship
        * Woman's body found near Whiteside county jail
        * Against odds, Chicago school aims for championship
        * Liver transplant recipient marks 25th anniversary
        * Woman's body found near Whiteside county jail
        * VSU chief financial officer to leave for new job
        * Collinsville man guilty of murder in fatal wreck
        * 3 arrested in Chicago during Ferguson protest
        * Clemency for man wrongfully jailed for 1991 murder
        * Illinois doctor fined over medical marijuana slip

        * Illinois attorney general files notice of appeal in pension case
        * Quinn grants clemency to 126 ahead of holiday
        * Illinois gives $4.5M food banks for modernization
        * State begins accepting fracking applications
        * Debt rating agencies weigh in on state pension ruling
        * Lisa Madigan to ask Illinois Supreme Court to consider pensions
        * Rauner tackles transition agenda
        * Attorney general warns of immigration scams
        * State pension changes ruled unconstitutional; appeal to Illinois Supreme Court next
        * State to refund $60 million in retiree health care money

        * Most BP oil spill claims handled correctly, McGladrey says
        * Illinois AG Madigan files notice of appeal in pension case
        * Congressmen sound alarm over anti-Asian Carp move
        * Motorola Mobility loses bid to extend antitrust law reach
        * Chicago business activity is growing—but at a slower pace


        * How Illinois can charge  ahead on education
        * ||| Jack Higgins’ perspective
        * Thanksgiving parade draws thousands to State Street
        * Former alderman, North Lawndale activist Jesse Miller dies at 72
        * Rauners don hairnets, serve Thanksgiving to homeless
        * Norman Schoer, viola player with Grant Park Orchestra and Lyric Opera, dies at 103
        * Cupich: Work needed to ‘repair our broken immigration system’
        * Obama 2014 Thanksgiving menu: Turkey, Ham, six kinds of pies
        * Obama guidance, press schedule Nov 27-30, 2014 Thanksgiving break
        * Charity event looks like turkey tokenism


        * Crash-and-grab burglary in Austin
        * Boat service provider negligent in fatal accident, lawsuit alleges
        * Cupich celebrates Thanksgiving Mass, prays with the poor
        * Archbishop Cupich emphasizes spiritual blessings at Lake Forest Thanksgiving mass
        * 1 shot on South Side
        * Judge reassigned after failing to follow contempt rules, officials say
        * Pre-Thanksgiving revelers in Naperville unfazed by new alcohol rules
        * Woman shot dead in apparent domestic-related shooting in Gary
        * Ferguson protester in Chicago charged with felony
        * Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off at Congress and State


        * LLCC Offers Variety Of Community Education Classes
        * Incoming U of I President Speaks To Springfield Audience
        * Another Year Of "Messiah" For Springfield Choral Society
        * New Exhibit On Lincoln's "Undying Words"
        * Locals Organize For Vigil In Response To Ferguson
        * Illinois Hunters Kill 52,000 Deer Over The Weekend
        * Pension Ruling "Credit Negative," But No Ratings Change
        * Tim Landis: Foreclosure Sales, CIPS Icehouse and Heritage River Trail
        * Part Timers & Manufacturing in Illinois Feeling a Slow Economic Recovery
        * Notes From Ferguson: A QA With St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann


        * Our Opinion: Help combat hunger this holiday season
        * Eugene Robinson: On replacement, caution urged
        * George Will: Thanks, or something
        * Quote of the Day: Nov. 27, 2014
        * Illinois attorney general files notice of appeal in pension case
        * Quinn grants clemency to 126 ahead of holiday
        * Illinois gives $4.5M food banks for modernization
        * Michael Gerson: The big ‘but’ on immigration
        * Quote of the Day: Nov. 26, 2014
        * State begins accepting fracking applications


        * Efficiency Stats - Indiana State
        * Murphysboro teen arrested for shooting at father
        * Turkey Trot a family tradition
        * Thanksgiving Day shopper
        * Kenneth Saul
        * Indiana State Pregame 11-27-14
        * LIVE! Indiana State from Las Vegas
        * Library to host senior citizen program
        * Volunteers, staff put turkey in Thanksgiving
        * Minonk Christmas light parade set Dec. 6


        * Taliban attack rocks upscale Kabul district
        * Mosul residents: IS group cuts phones in Iraq city
        * OPEC keeps oil output on hold despite low prices
        * Fire damages Campton Hills house
        * Imrem: Pride, integrity all that's left for Bears

        * Rehab of Affordable Housing Building in Ol...
        * Rep. Danny Davis Hopes to Keep His Seat fo...
        * Congressman calls for removal of police co...
        * Congressmen Plan House Speech on Chicago's...
        * Sri Lanka's Downward Spiral - Foreign Policy
        * Davis To Obama: 'Do Everything In Your Pow...
        * Rahm Touts New Law to Clear Juvenile Polic...
        * Dem Rep. to Columnist: Stop Comparing Blac...
        * Davis retains US Congress 7th seat with ea...
        * Danny Davis Defeats Robert Bumpers In Illi...

        * Durbin Celebrates Obama’s Announcement at ......
        * We Blew It On Obamacare, Top Democrat Admi......

        * Iran's Supreme Leader supports extending t......
        * Chicago Tribuen: Squeeze a stalling Iran t......

        * "Nigerian Kitchen" Closes On Wilson
        * #HappyThanksgiving from The Sixth Ward blog!
        * In Chicago the race is on. It’s easy as ABC.
        * Lisa Madigan files her appeal.
        * The Better Government Association continues to spread the lie about public employee pensions.
        * Happy Thanksgiving. “My idea,” says Rahm.
        * Chicago parents demand answers from Emanuel after sex ed lessons revealed
        * Happy Thanksgiving
        * We're Grateful To Live In Uptown, And For You
        * Will Thanksgiving meal someday come at shopping mall food court?


        * Governor Quinn Announces Investment to Help Regional Food Banks Better Serve Those in Need - Governor’s Investment Will Ensure Lower Cost and Higher Efficiency for Services Reaching Nearly 2 Million Illinois Residents
        * Governor Pat Quinn Takes Clemency Action
        * Governor Quinn Statement on Abner Mikva Receiving Nation’s Highest Civilian Honor
        * Department of Insurance Announces Multi-State Settlement with Symetra Life Insurance and Symetra National Life Insurance Company - Illinois will share part of a $1.2 million penalty against Symetra Life regarding Life Insurance policies
        * Avoid Foodborne Illness This Holiday Season




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