* Steroid tests for students could happen next year
The high school football teams vying for state championships next fall may be the first ever tested for steroids in Illinois.
IHSA officials say they expect a final decision as soon as next month on whether to begin steroid testing, with the first such tests likely administered during state playoffs in the 2008-09 season.
* State hiring goes online, but doubts remain about clout
* Editorial: Governor should stay grounded
* Tribune Editorial: The future of Illinois coal
* Can the FutureGen coal plant work?
* FutureGen developers wonder what they can do next
* Federal lawsuit filed over Chicago’s cell phone ban
* Duncan defends closings as best course for Chicago school district
“While generally I’m a fan of small schools, you have to have some critical mass to run a viable school. When you get down to 150 or 175 students, you don’t have enough students in each grade to run a full menu of activities,” Duncan said. “Educationally [consolidation is] the right move.”
* Editorial: Smoke won’t clear by New Year’s
* McQueary: All I want for Christmas is pension reform; more here
A report released this week by the Pew Charitable Trusts, a respected Pennsylvania-based policy institute, describes Illinois’ pension liability as among the worst in the nation. The report is significant because it compares the pension health of all 50 states, providing context to the political kaleidescope through which Illinois’ pension health often is viewed. Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s office will give a sunny perspective of the state system; his opponents’ view couldn’t be more bleak.
So here is what Pew said:
“Illinois has double the trouble of most states: a severely underfunded pension system and some of the steepest bills in the country for retiree health care benefits. On the pension side, Illinois has one of the poorest-funded systems in the country.”
* Clout Corner: Rezko a tax deadbeat
Rezko — the indicted businessman and political fund-raiser accused of demanding kickbacks from state contractors — owes $76,864.60 in property taxes on his home, which is in foreclosure.
* Ald. Stone’s son says even he can’t get a fair shake because of city hiring
* Tribune Editorial: Patrick Daley’s investment doesn’t pass the smell test
* Few county budget cuts offered
* Tribune Editorial: Moving past the tax myth
Oh, and the day offered one New Year’s present from John Daley. He wants a report on how much money officials have spent over the years to modernize the technology in their offices. Which suggests that, come 2008, Daley will ask those officials two crucial questions:
How many actual jobs have you eliminated because of all the automation money you’ve spent?
And how much new revenue has all that new technology generated for Cook County?
* 10% budget cuts would be a disaster, Cook Co. officials tell board
One by one, Cook County officials on Wednesday described a dim future for the public if the County Board forces them to cut spending by 10 percent.
Patients will die, the head of the health system warned. Criminals could run free, State’s Atty. Richard Devine said.
* Over 100 Olympians coming, may boost city’s bid