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Morning Shorts

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* Berrios: Delay in hospital tax status cases costing taxpayers millions

* Two months later, still no action on Illinois hospital tax

* Audit of College Illinois finds violations, potential conflicts of interest

* Audit finds big problems in College Illinois program

* Audit: IL employee used state investments for personal gain: George Egan, former director of portfolio management for College Illinois!, and others also were given combined bonuses of $176,003 after resigning or being fired. Egan was a partner in a company, which was not identified in the report, that invested $500,000 in the Balestra Capital investment firm at the same time the firm was bidding on a contract with College Illinois!, according to the audit by Illinois Auditor General William Holland.

* Conference of Women Legislators spoof Illinois government

* Kirk’s story helps spell out stroke risk

* Power plant project stripped of coal

* Onetime consultant sentenced in kickback scheme

* John Glennon gets probation, no prison time

* Controversial Rod Blagojevich ad cleared to ride CTA buses

* Council passes business license overhaul

* Rahm’s plan to cut business licenses wins OK; now on to inspections

* City Council slashes number of required business licenses

* 3 museums to shut for entire NATO summit weekend

* Rahm Emanuel defends decision to yank nurses’ NATO protest permit

* Group planning NATO protest threatens to sue city

* Protesters to debate NATO officials

* Suit: Metra tickets shouldn’t expire in year

* A downside to Illinois’ open meetings training: The first time she tried it, she could get in. But after 25 minutes or so, the website froze. So Zohfeld tried again. And again, as she demonstrated last week. “And I’ll tab it and put in my secret password,” Zohfeld said in a jokingly hushed voice. “And [the screen] says, ‘Your login attempt was not successful. Please try again.’ So, let’s try it with a capital T.” That didn’t work either.

* Cheng: Tuition, fee increases needed

posted by Owen Irwin
Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 9:34 am


  1. It’s about time that a media member covered the “open meeting” training issue. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen government overstep as bad as the AG and the legislature have overstepped on these new regulations.

    I think we’ll see many good, local volunteers step away from community service, due to the need to get on a computer and try to work their way through the training. I would love to know the number of people - statewide - that have to complete the trainging. Many local community volunteers barely have an email address, much less do they have the computer skills to complete the training.

    But, the question should be asked, meetings should be open, but at what cost? I’m sure that the Homewood Tree Committee is not breaking the spirit of open meetings like some ultra-political games in the state legislature or in Cook County.

    And, when is someone finally going to ask why these regulations can affect the Homewood Tree Committee, when the OMA doesn’t seem to affect the partisan caucus meetings and any communication between legislative leaders - where the REAL decisions get made in state government - or even leaders’ meetings with the Governor. Wouldn’t government be more “open” if the law targeted a meeting between the Senate President, the House Speaker and the Governor?

    Instead, this law “targets” people like the Homewood Tree Committee, and leaves the real work of state government in the shadows. Typical Springfield “fix”, no wonder that real people working to better their community would shake their heads on this.

    Comment by Open Meetings? Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 9:53 am

  2. Hope this isn’t too off-topic, but I find it odd that a link is shown as if I had already clicked on it here, but I read it just on the Trib website itself before coming here this morning. Does my history and/or cookies follow me from the Trib’s website across the internet? I’ve noticed that happening elsewhere, as well.

    Comment by aaron singer Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 9:54 am

  3. === Does my history and/or cookies follow me from the Trib’s website across the internet? ===

    It’s just your own browser history at work.

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 10:03 am

  4. ===when the OMA doesn’t seem to affect the partisan caucus meetings and any communication between legislative leaders===

    The Constitution exempts them.

    Comment by Rich Miller Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 10:05 am

  5. From the OMA article: **Anfield said she finished the training, after 7 or 8 hours - at least. Not all in one sitting, of course. And then, a small tragedy.

    “Finally got to the end, and then you’re supposed to print the certificate, and I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t, it would not print for me,” Anfield said. “Now I don’t know if it’s my computer or just the website itself.”**

    Seems like someone who isn’t comfortable with a computer rather than a problem with the OMA training. I did the training in about 10-15 minutes with absolutely no problems.

    Comment by dave Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 10:06 am

  6. I’d advise Blago’s old ISAC chief, Andrew Davis, not to go mano-a-mano with Bill Holland in the press.

    Dude, you don’t want to get locked down to any story right about now.

    My favorite quote from Davis, regarding his crew’s practice of mixing personal business with vendors bidding on contracts with ISAC.

    “Chicago is a small town.”

    That’s like the manager in “Spinal Tap” explaining why their concert in Boston was cancelled: “Boston’s not really a college town.”

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 10:07 am

  7. === The Constitution exempts them. ===

    Figures. No wonder people have such little faith in state government. I’m glad to know that our laws now protect us from not knowing that the Homewood Tree Committee is running up a bigger deficit than the state legislature.

    Comment by Open Meetings? Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 10:12 am

  8. I did not realize until this morning that the crosstown classic between my beloved Cubs and my also beloved White Sox will take place during NATOgeddon. The red line can be a freakshow already, should be more interesting.

    Comment by Wumpus Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 10:18 am

  9. “Many local community volunteers barely have an email address, much less do they have the computer skills to complete the training.”

    Computers have become so ubiquitous that if somebody doesn’t have one at home, it is likely that they will have one at work. Computers are available at many libraries. It so easy to obtain an email account.

    Claiming that community volunteers don’t have the ability to go through an on-line training program is the height of snobbery.

    Comment by Huh? Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 10:20 am

  10. Rich & Open Meetings -

    I’m not sure its the Constitution the exempts the General Assembly from the open meetings act, I believe its actually a blanket exception in the Statute.

    I’d also presume that meetings between the Five Tops do not fit the definition of “public body” under the Act.

    That said, I think weekly televised meetings of the Five Tops’ Meetings on pay-per-view would go a long way to closing the state’s budget deficit. I’d pay $30 to watch for sure, even more if Rich, Willy and Vanillaman are doing ringside commentary.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 10:47 am

  11. @Open Meetings — I think you have it wrong — it is very often the small governments and committees that violate the letter and spirit of the Open Meetings Act. Very often, small government elected officials and volunteers take any outside overview very personally, and go out of their way to circumvent anyone that might question their decisions. The OMA is needed, yes for bigger governments, but also at all levels of government.

    Comment by Just Observing Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 11:03 am

  12. Thanks for clearing up my confusion, Rich!

    Comment by aaron singer Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 11:25 am

  13. @Open Meetings - If we were to require members show up to meetings in a horsedrawn buggy, would that make you feel better?

    There is literally, and I mean that, no excuse that holds any water whatsoever for someone to claim that technology is an impediment to the proper functioning of government. There are opportunities for technology to open up and connect citizens with their government in ways that could never have been imagined only 50 years earlier.

    I’ve said it before: Local/county governments have the sorriest IT setups I have ever encountered, and it is embarrassing. We can do better than this, but I guess we will have to wait a while longer for Luddites to phase out of public service to get something better than vintage 1985 tech.

    The world has changed, and if you don’t change with it, you’ll be left behind.

    Comment by Colossus Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 11:52 am

  14. One thing with online training is that you can’t guarantee what kind of connection the user has.
    Dialup is a lot slower than DSL/broadband, and many rural areas are still on dialup due to the cost of deploying the necessary infrasture (or so say the major ISPs).

    Speaking of ISPs - they could be doing some throttling of the user’s bandwidth. That would affect performance.

    Home users could have other family members consuming online services like Netflix, Hulu, etc. The configuration of the user’s computer also plays a part. Using an off-brand browser (like Sleipnr - from Norway) - that could be an issue. Using a browser with a crapload of plugins - that could be an issue. Even a bad cookie could affect things.

    Comment by Name Withheld Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 11:57 am

  15. Looks like they’ve made good progress towards making complying with the Open Meetings Act as big a mess as complying with FOIA. Go team!

    Comment by TwoFeetThick Thursday, May 10, 12 @ 1:32 pm

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