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Madigan patronage report leaked

Tuesday, Jul 8, 2014

* The Chicago Tribune obtained a copy of former Legislative Inspector General Tom Homer’s secret report of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s involvement in Metra patronage. The main conclusion

“(Madigan) should have realized, given his influential position, that by making the requests at the conclusion of meetings with Metra officials to discuss funding and other legislative issues, he would be creating reciprocal expectations,” Homer wrote.

“This unhealthy situation was exacerbated by the subsequent communications to Metra by the speaker or persons associated with him inquiring as to the state of the promotion requests when favorable action was not forthcoming,” Homer concluded. […]

In his report, Homer maintained that the “proximity” of Madigan’s discussions about the transit system’s agenda and the speaker’s mentions of favored Metra workers “created the impression among Metra officials that the speaker’s support for Metra’s legislative initiatives may be linked.”

“While this may not have been the speaker’s intention, the natural inferences to be drawn by Metra officials should have been obvious,” Homer wrote. “Moreover, when the requested promotions were not immediately forthcoming, the follow-up inquiries by the speaker or his agents created additional angst at Metra and contributed to the controversy.”

Madigan is known to be very, very persistent and persuasive when he wants something. He doesn’t have to spell out consequences. People just know what he’s capable of.

It may be no coincidence that Homer decided to resign after issuing such a stinging report. He found nothing illegal, but he clearly was not enthused about what he’d uncovered.

* One more excerpt

The report contains an account of Metra’s chairwoman entering Madigan’s Capitol office to talk about state issues and leaving with a yellow Post-it note bearing names of two workers the speaker wanted to see promoted. In another meeting, a Metra lobbyist who was a longtime Madigan aide was spotted leaving the speaker’s office with two resumes. Another time, Madigan simply called the cellphone of one of his “better” precinct captains to tell him about a state job, according to the report.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


48 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 9:37 am:

    As a current BNSF commuter I am glad he recommend people who were able to render the BNSF over the last year as about as effective and efficent as state government in general…


  2. - Frenchie Mendoza - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 9:42 am:

    Meh.

    Metra is a mess and for many Chicago commuters an absolute nightmare. The focus here is on Madigan? Yeah, well, that’s great — but once this blows over — and it will — lets please put the focus back on Metra: its inability to meet schedules, its rapidly aging fleet, its bizarre “manpower” issue, its nonexistent communication with customers.

    Me, I’d prefer to look at this patronage stuff as Madigan helping Metra help itself.


  3. - phocion - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 9:44 am:

    ==Me, I’d prefer to look at this patronage stuff as Madigan helping Metra help itself.==

    Sure, Frenchie. That’s what it is.


  4. - anon - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 9:47 am:

    A politician trying to help people get jobs. I’m shocked. If you read this closely it sounds like no one is actually sure that he made recommendations and the only one they know about is a guy with a masters degree. not exactly a hack. not much of a story.


  5. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    Madigan is an old man who learned politics in Chicago, way back when people still wore hats when they went outside and government was ran the Chicago Way.

    He knows no different, because what he knows has gotten him results. He, and George Ryan, come from a different era when government did things that have been since found unfair and questionable. Today, we have ethics that the good old white boys from the olden days would find cute and novel, but would not respect.

    Bottom line - no surprise. We have an old man running the House and he does old man stuff that dates back to the days when the Chicago Cubs won a World Series.


  6. - Ducky LaMoore - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    Pure conjecture. Auditor found nothing illegal and wrote a “stinging report.” Must be a slow week in the gov campaign if this is news….


  7. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 9:53 am:

    Given the state’s history and practices, I can’t get too worked up about putting in good words for jobs.

    Without a smoking quid pro quo, I’d imagine the current Supreme Court would just say he was exercising free speech.

    If anyone’s ever going to boat Madigan it will be over the law practice and assessment reductions for big shots downtown.


  8. - Jose Abreu's next homer - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 9:53 am:

    Nothing illegal found here, just like how nothing illegal was found in Rauner’s taxes.


  9. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 9:53 am:

    Nothing Illegal…

    Heck of an ethical standard we now have here in Illinois…


  10. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:01 am:

    === Nothing Illegal…

    Heck of an ethical standard we now have here in Illinois…===

    It’s a good start! Isn’t the law supposed to be the basis for which society conforms its conduct? If not, then what is?


  11. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:01 am:

    –Heck of an ethical standard we now have here in Illinois… –

    Now? A little state history might be in order.


  12. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:03 am:

    fair point word…


  13. - Ducky LaMoore - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:05 am:

    @OneMan

    Isn’t the point of an Inspector General to find things that are illegal?

    Or is it to not be happy when he discovers Mike Madigan conducts himself like a politician???


  14. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    I don’t disagree with the conclusions of the report, but, on the other hand, is there any way the Speaker can provide a reference or make an inquiry without it having some force behind it?


  15. - Anon. - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:13 am:

    Amazing how so many of you posted defend Madigan on this!
    What are you afraid of?


  16. - Chicago Publius - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:15 am:

    Metra trains are almost often dirty, smelly, and late. Their conductors are insolent, rude, sloppily dressed, and often smelly. They walk around the trains barking at customers, weilding their antiquated “ticket punches” that most railroads stopped using about 20 years ago, with nary a hello or please or thank you. Are you you kidding me? Ticket punches? How quaint. Especially in the wintertime, Metra trains fill the train stations with carcegnic fumes that poison the customers. And when the train is running late, which it often is, there’s no announcement or effort to apprise the waiting customers. There’s a statute on the books that requires Metra to offer wi-fi, and to coordinate its tickets with CTA and PACE, and Metra officials just laugh at the thought of it. Can you think of any other entity that so blithely ignores the law like this? So now the fact that Madigan helps get someone a job at Metra is a story? Come on. I’m with the rest of the posters on this: Metra has some really really big problems, so how about tackling them?


  17. - Frenchie Mendoza - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:19 am:


    Amazing how so many of you posted defend Madigan on this!
    What are you afraid of?

    Must not be a Metra rider.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:21 am:

    ===Amazing how so many of you posted defend Madigan on this! What are you afraid of?===

    Here is the rub you fail to understand;

    If you ever put in a good word for someone, or recommended anyone, you are doing what MJM has done, just at a very different level, and at much different stakes or leverage.

    The failure here is seeing this as blatantly illegal.

    Rich has explained it best;

    ===It may be no coincidence that Homer decided to resign after issuing such a stinging report. He found nothing illegal, but he clearly was not enthused about what he’d uncovered.===

    Period.

    Great insight of what is being said, and interpreted.

    That is not defending MJM, or even being an apologist for this, but you want to drill into what is being leaked, that paragraph sums it up.


  19. - huh - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    =Amazing how so many of you posted defend Madigan on this! What are you afraid of? =

    Anon, I don’t anyone is afraid. This story is kind of pointless. So Madigan made job recommendations. Guess what, it’s a free country. The US Supreme Court has said politicians can do that. There is nothing illegal here, and it detracts from the bigger issue - Metra’s services suck. Rather than spending time and money on improving service, they’ve spent millions on this Clifford fiasco. The Tribune wants to paint this as Madigan’s fault, but it’s not. It’s Metra’s fault.


  20. - anon - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    Rich, Homer resigned more than a year ago but he had to stay around until they appointed someone new.


  21. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:31 am:

    Chicago Publius, that’s quite a finely tuned nose you have there.

    What line are you on? I often ride the Union Pacific West out of Ogilvie and the Milwaukee District North out of Union, and I can’t say I’ve experienced these terrible problems you have.

    Maybe I’m just lucky. Metra beats rolling on CTA stock any day of the week for comfort.

    Union does have bad air quality problems, though, particularly at the rear of the platform.


  22. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:32 am:

    == Isn’t the point of an Inspector General to find things that are illegal? ==

    Err, um nope, not entirely, if that was the sole purpose of an inspector general then have a cop do it.

    . The OLIG receives and investigates complaints of violations of any law, rule or regulation or abuse of authority or other forms of misconduct by members of the General Assembly and all state employees whose ultimate jurisdictional authority is a legislative leader, the Senate Operations Commission or the Joint Committee on Legislative Support Services.

    But using your logic, an inspector general report should just have the words Illegal activity found with a checkbox for yes or no…

    Am I missing something?


  23. - Frenchie Mendoza - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    I realize that as a matter of public policy any whiff of quote-unquote patronage is a bad thing. I get that. And I get (I think) why this is an important story even though, um, no laws were apparently broken.

    However, many — and I mean many — commuters will rejoice at the idea that Madigan’s alleged requests caused ” additional angst” for Metra. I’m not sure what the *other* angst was — it certainly wasn’t the angst of overseeing a modernized transportation agency — so it must have to do with whether or not to fix those 100+ year old pneumatic (?!) switches that keep delaying trains in and out of Chicago on a … well, yeah — a daily basis. Or maybe it’s the angst of having to repeatedly issue track announcements that cannot be heard by anyone — anywhere. That kind of stuff is angsty, I guess.

    But, yeah: additional angst? Like, sitting around in a closed room with a bunch of managers getting all angst-ed out about all the normal stuff — and then the “added angst” from these requests from politicians?

    Yes! I’ll take that as a partial payback on behalf of the thousands and thousands of commuters who suffer daily angst — and stress — when ancient switches fail, when ticket clerks take 10 minutes to accept a check because they have to check pages and pages of *printed* sheets of “bad check writers”, when trains literally fall apart on the tracks, when engineers come on the loudspeaker and say, “Um, well, we just lost power to the engine. We have no idea why. We’re going to try a couple of things.”


  24. - Ginhouse Tommy - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    Vanilla Great point. Reminds me of Boss by Mike Royko. Mr Madigan is the 800 pound gorilla and will get what he wants. I’m not being critical but it is a plain fact. There is a price to pay for not cooperating with him and it has been a lesson well learned. That is just how business is done in Chicago and in state government.


  25. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    Frankly, I’m surprised he makes the calls himself.


  26. - DuPage - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    Almost all employers ask for references and recommendations from anyone who applies for a job.
    Nothing illegal about that.


  27. - Bogey Golfer - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    =Almost all employers ask for references and recommendations from anyone who applies for a job.=
    The issue is the the employer contacts the reference and seeks input - this is the other way around. And do you think MJM is concerned about technical competence - doubt it.


  28. - notRich - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    YAWN.. I would love to see all the emails back and forth between Trib Execs in Chicago and other cities.. You dont think they went back and forth asking for considerations in hiring in other citiies where the Trib had a presence??


  29. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:11 pm:

    - Bogey Golfer - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    “…And do you think MJM is concerned about technical competence - doubt it.”

    Tom Cross? Is that you?


  30. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:13 pm:

    Why was this report secret?


  31. - Bogey Golfer - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:16 pm:

    If I were him, I certainly wouldn’t refer to myself as a bogey golfer. Par Machine more likely.


  32. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:18 pm:

    YAWN.. I would love to see all the emails back and forth between Trib Execs in Chicago and other cities.. You dont think they went back and forth asking for considerations in hiring in other citiies where the Trib had a presence??

    Well we have hit another point on the ‘things we say about the Trib whenever the Trib reports something’..

    Those would include

    1) I am sure the executives or others at the tribune have done the same thing (ignoring the fact, that the Tribune is not the government)

    2) The Tribune has had financial issues in the past so therefore can’t comment on any financial issues the state or any government agency has had in the past.

    Also for all of you who say this is just fine, how is this any better (or really all that different) than Rauner making a call to try and get his kid into a school?


  33. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:31 pm:

    ===Also for all of you who say this is just fine, how is this any better (or really all that different) than Rauner making a call to try and get his kid into a school?===

    The Denied Winnetka-Living Daughter didn’t qualify, and Clout, and only Clout, allowed a non-Chicago unqualified child to deny another worthy child and that Denied Daughter happens to be the Daughter of a man running for Governor.

    Difference?

    Rauner bold face lied about the qualifications of the Denied , Winnetka-Living Daughter, and threw jus wife under the bus, lied about a “perfect” score, throwing an unqualified Daughter under the bus, and the Principal, who chose this Daughter, unqualified, and already denied entrance, under a decision he wasn’t under discretion to make at the time the Principal made it.

    It’s the blatant lies, personal advantage over others, and keys be very clear about this important last point.

    MJM is not calling 1/3 of the Democrats corrupt in the GA, and every Republican corrupt, or saying he (MJM) is an outsider while being an insider.

    Huge differences.

    Can’t run a campaign of cleaning things up while the hypocrisy oozes from your lying words and actions.


  34. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    ===If I were him, I certainly wouldn’t refer to myself as a bogey golfer. Par Machine more likely.===

    Probably true. On the other hand, if I could call myself a bogey golfer, I would be happy.


  35. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 12:51 pm:

    It’s a bit surprising to see so much focus on the front end and so little focus on the back end in comments. There are some savvy posters here, posters who clearly understand the direct lines Homer draws in specific examples.

    The Metra chairwoman enters Speaker Madigan’s office to discuss state business and exits with the names of two people he wants promoted. Posters here understand the nature of what is occurring, even if it is not explicitly spelled out like in an email from the College of DuPage Chairman.

    Regardless of whether Mr. Madigan is operating within the boundaries of the law, Illinois deserves better. Metra, for example, is a mess and hiring based on patronage instead of qualifications is part of the reason why.


  36. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 1:50 pm:

    Serious question: Are there legislators anywhere, ever, who have not tried to get public jobs for supporters? I just thought that was a given.

    Homer’s report questions the “proximity” of the requests, such as at the end of meetings.

    Okay. If you call the next day, is that kosher?

    I’m much more interested in contracts, sub-contracts, grants, bond underwriting, bond counsel, etc. Uncover those rocks and I think you’ll find a lot more going on.


  37. - phocion - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 2:41 pm:

    Sorry, OW. Your shrill histrionics notwithstanding, what Madigan did is much worse than what you claim Rauner did. Madigan used the threat of withholding public money for a public benefit so that his hacks can get jobs ahead of more qualified individuals. The bloat and inefficiency created by these Madigan creatures result in poor service, higher fares, and less money for capital improvements. Only a dyed in the wool Madigan apologist/co-conspirator could ever defend what he did through the years by treating our tax dollars as his personal piggy bank in rewarding or punishing taxpayer supported agencies. Reading the comments by OW and others here who make excuses for this is what is truly wrong with the political culture in this state. It is sickening and it’s why Rauner has a shot, because people outside of this blog are beyond sick of it.


  38. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 2:56 pm:

    ===Madigan used the threat of withholding public money for a public benefit so that his hacks can get jobs ahead of more qualified individuals.===

    You can prove that, right?

    ===Only a dyed in the wool Madigan apologist/co-conspirator could ever defend what he did through the years by treating our tax dollars as his personal piggy bank in rewarding or punishing taxpayer supported agencies.===

    Read what I commented, exactly as I commented.

    He recommended for jobs.

    Then there is this;

    ===He found nothing illegal, but he clearly was not enthused about what he’d uncovered.===

    Rauner asked for, and got specific treatment, benefitting his family. There is a trail of continued insider dealings of Rauner, as he runs as an outsider.

    If there was an if/then actual happening with MJM, seems as though no one has that proof.


  39. - phocion - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 3:19 pm:

    OW, if you think all MJM did was make a recommendation, then you’re either incredibly simple-minded or naive. I honestly don’t believe you’re either. You’re just fueled by by such intense Rauner-hatred and you’ve dug yourself a hole here. I’m sure you’re a pretty decent person otherwise.

    Madigan’s reputation to destroy individuals or starve agencies of needed funding makes what he did much more than a “recommendation.” He bullied. He threatened. He did it without having to do any overt act. And everyone knows how this works. Tying this wholesale abuse of the public trust to anything else is a dodge. If you and others want to live your lives as stooges and apologists of MJM and everything he stands for, go for it. But don’t obfuscate. Own it.

    For me, I refuse to be a fool dancing on a string held by all of those big shots. I don’t apologize, that’s my life.


  40. - Ghost of John Brown - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 3:42 pm:

    Funny that some MJM defenders have pointed out a) nothing illegal, b) everyone does it, but then in the same breathe say that Metra service sucks.

    So we have politicians that are bending the hiring standards to get the “right” people in jobs that they wouldn’t have gotten on their own and then we the taxpayers have to endure lousy service.

    And……we are supposed to just accept it.

    - I guess we ignore that the people that are being promoted are those that have helped MJM get re-elected
    - I guess we ignore that we the taxpayers get shafted in this deal while the politically connected get paid off.
    - The fact that so many are defending MJM and are OK with this is the reason that this State continues to falter.

    No, no corruption here. Nothing to see. Move along now.


  41. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 3:50 pm:

    ===I’m sure you’re a pretty decent person otherwise.===

    Well, that is kind of you.

    Let’s be clear. Rauner pretends he doesn’t play an insider’s game, while playing an insider’s game, and he plays the game for personal gain, while railing on those he is leveraging.

    I’ll let the report and Rich’s keen observation stand as my response.


  42. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 3:53 pm:

    Still would like to know why a report alleging ethical lapses by the Speaker of the House is a secret? Why did this have to be leaked?


  43. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 4:02 pm:

    1) Missing from this tantalizing tale are interviews with Cross, Durkin and Radogno stating that they have never recommended someone for a job, especially not a public sector job.

    2) let’s note for the record that when the head of Metra objected to a recommendation from Madigan, Madigan quickly withdrew the recommendation.

    Look let’s admit that Madigan is being held to a higher standard, and it isn’t even at all clear what that standard is. That probably isn’t ever gonna change, and so Madigan is just going to have to accept that these hit pieces are gonna keep coming.

    Frankly, I suspect that most folks are gonna be surprised to learn that long term allies of Madigan with master’s degrees are getting government jobs that only pay $70K.

    That is a lot less dough than your typical Tribune subscriber takes home, I suspect.


  44. - walker - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 4:21 pm:

    OneMan Bingo!

    We either admit we are holding our politicians to higher ethical standards than we often hold ourselves, our families, friends, and business associates, or we do not.

    I say we should, and admit it.

    Phocian: The reality is between the extremes you describe.

    Do people listen harder to Madigan because of his power and position? Yes. We could make the argument that he shouldn’t leverage his position on behalf of individuals connected to him as much as he does.

    Does he “bully” and “threaten” to get his way? Not from what I have personally seen. Not his style. Does he “punish or starve agencies of needed funds” simply because they didn’t take a recommendation or referral from him. No. I’d bet on it never having actually happened. No matter what “everyone knows.”

    There are myths about Madigan that make the fearful, lazy, and foolish managers afraid to take even the slightest risk. I have seen people act as if that’s what they are doing. They are choosing to allow themselves to be pushed around, just in case. The many stronger individuals in government don’t take that position.


  45. - DateNight - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 5:13 pm:

    Homer can’t have it both ways. As Legislative State Rep., Judge, Inspector General Homer was a “kept pony” and now that he’s out, Tommy wants to bear his troubled soul. Fact is, nobody used the system better than did old Tom Homer. Exiting the battle field with three cushy government pensions worth an estimated $3.7 million seems justified.


  46. - summertimeblues - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 8:48 pm:

    Chicago Cynic wrote: “Still would like to know why a report alleging ethical lapses by the Speaker of the House is a secret? Why did this have to be leaked?”

    The Act under which the Inspectors General operate allows for a report to become public only if an inspector general finds there is reasonable cause to believe the person violated a law. Here there was no such finding. As I read the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, there isn’t authority for an inspector general to write a report if they do not find a violation.

    From the article, it appears this was a report given to the members of the legislative ethics commission explaining his decision, not a report of a violation. That’s why nothing was, or could have been, made public.

    If you think about it, that does make some sense. Pretend we aren’t talking about Madigan but your average state employee. If the inspector general investigated and found nothing, why should the person have their name tarnished by making a report public?


  47. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jul 8, 14 @ 8:49 pm:

    @Walker -

    Well said. I have no problem with holding elected officials to a higher standard. I do think it is important that those standards be clear and that we know and they know in advance what those standards are.

    As someone else said, Homer’s complaint seems to be proximity.

    Madigan is right, I think: postponing the conversation until the next day or the next week is an admission of quid pro quo, with an attempt to avoid the appearance. By just making the ask and making it himself, Madigan is being transparent.

    If someone requested and got a meeting with JB Pritzker to make a request, and at the end of the meeting JB recommended a friend for a job, would that person feel obligated? No. Would they feel obligated? Maybe. But probably only if the request they made of Pritzker didn’t stand on its own merits.


  48. - Late to the Party - Wednesday, Jul 9, 14 @ 8:31 am:

    Politicians use patronage? I’m shocked!!

    We need *statesmen* not politicians.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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        * Police looking for suspect in Effingham shooting
        * Firefighters battle grain bin fire for 9 hours
        * Raising juror pay, reducing juries gets mixed reviews
        * 1 dead, many injured in shooting at suburban party
        * 1 dead, many injured in shooting at suburban party
        * Mother speaks at slain Chicago teen's funeral
        * Chicago mayor's teenage son mugged near home
        * 2 dozen injured in southern Indiana bus crash
        * Illinois farm groups foresee market growth in Cuba
        * 2nd Illinois prison with possible chickenpox

        * State treasurer employees get raises, stipends as Rutherford’s term comes to end
        * Springfield-based U.S. attorney’s investigations nab 13; race questions raised
        * 2nd Illinois prison with possible chickenpox
        * Quinn signs bill increasing juror pay
        * Quinn names longtime aide Jerry Stermer comptroller until Jan. 12
        * Quinn signs law to nix deadline for asbestos lawsuits
        * Quinn to name comptroller replacement this afternoon
        * Madigan says T-Mobile settlement shields consumers
        * Quinn calls legislature back to Springfield to approve special election to replace Topinka
        * Audit: DCFS loses track of runaways

        * Can Garcia's run for mayor fire up independents?
        * Chicago's newest workout (and personal statement) options
        * A photo shop for photographers
        * The Life of Patrick Ryan: Act II, Scene 2
        * Office conversions kick small firms to the curb


        * Lakeview pot dispensary on hold; Tunney opposes Halsted location
        * Despite community pleas, CPS puts Dyett HS out for proposals
        * Quinn to appoint new Illinois Comptroller today
        * Gov. Quinn appoints longtime aide as Illinois comptroller
        * Watch: President Obama's year-end press conference
        * Rewriting the Sony cyberattack script
        * time for new course in Cuba
        * Are Rahm's numbers creeping up? New internals show him near 50
        * Obama guidance, press schedule, Dec. 19, 2014. Press conference
        * A whole lot of nothing from the City Council


        * South Loop crash leaves two dead, one hospitalized
        * One killed, as many as 10 more shot at south suburban house party
        * At least 5 wounded in shootings since Saturday evening
        * FBI: 'Play-Along Bandit' hits 6th bank
        * Emanuel's son robbed near family's North Side home
        * Man dies day after Albany Park shooting
        * Demario Bailey funeral: 'The kids are the world. It starts with them'
        * DNA leads to murder charges in 1994 stabbing
        * 1 dead, 16 injured in separate shootings


        * Listen to State Week - December 19, 2014
        * Quinn Picks Budget Chief To Be Temporary Comptroller
        * 'Uber-gentrification' a force in Chicago's West Loop
        * Durbin leaving Congressional roommates behind
        * Worries rise in Russia as ruble falls
        * Improviser finds purpose in Chicago police mental health crisis trainings
        * Chicago 'petcoke' handler says it'll enclose piles
        * Waukegan woman seeks to trademark 'I can't breathe'
        * Obama re-establishing US relations with Cuba
        * Teaching hospitals hit hardest by medicare fines for patient safety


        * Quote of the day: Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014
        * Bernard Schoenburg: Rauner talks of dogs, housing and the work ahead as governor
        * State treasurer employees get raises, stipends as Rutherford’s term comes to end
        * Cathy Becker: Because it’s the right thing to do
        * T. Ray McJunkins: Justice, righteousness descend to fulfill dream
        * Springfield-based U.S. attorney’s investigations nab 13; race questions raised
        * 2nd Illinois prison with possible chickenpox
        * Sen. Dick Durbin: Clean water access bill honors Simon
        * Charles Krauthammer: How to fight the lone wolf
        * Quote of the day: Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014


        * I Can Read! of Southern Illinois celebrates student achievement
        * Off the beat: Two dead in head-on collision on I-55
        * Williamson County commissioners frustrated over lack of changes
        * Be smart: Keep your home safe during holidays
        * Neighborhood watch: Crimes of the week
        * Communities show support for family of Lux Brymer
        * Man killed in accident near Heyworth
        * Historic Route 66 goes electric; charging stations to be added between metro-east and Chicago
        * Ready for a road trip? Historic Route 66 goes electric
        * 25 Christmas wishes


        * Memphis, BYU meet in inaugural Miami Beach Bowl
        * Police say DNA links man to 1994 Chicago slaying
        * 1 dead, many injured in shooting at suburban party
        * Alert came minutes too late for ambushed NYC cops
        * Michael Brown's family condemns shootings of NYC officers

        * Lee Zeldin Named Co-Chair of the House Rep...
        * Lawmakers Give Advice to New Members of Co...
        * Chairman Recommends House Financial Servic...
        * Zeldin To Co-Chair House GOP Israel Caucus...
        * Bost in DC, Enyart postpones return
        * Dold a'going to the freshman dance, again
        * Bera and Holding to be co-chairs of Congre...
        * Obama: 'I've got to take responsibility" f...
        * Ami Bera, George Holding are new co-chairs...
        * Mike Bloomberg takes his money local

        * U.S. Senator Calling For Better Prosthetic......
        * Hill Democrats taking aim at vapes...

        * GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski Supports Gay Marriage...
        * Second GOP Senator Backs Gay Marriage...

        * Mayor Emanuel continues getting cash from firms managing Chicago's pension money
        * Islamic State Mocks US With Photoshopped Santa Held Hostage
        * Islamic State Mocks U.S. With Photoshopped Santa Held Hostage
        * Politically Connected Profit From United Center Parking Scam
        * Ready Aim Fire
        * Havana memories.
        * Walter Esler: “My brother walked from an empty room into a room full of people.”
        * Illinois Policy staff threatened with arrest at union-lead trainings
        * Governor-elect Rauner Visit with Latino Pastors
        * Governor-elect Rauner Visits with Latino Pastors


        * Governor Quinn Appoints Jerry Stermer as Illinois Comptroller
        * 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




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