* NEW: Thomson needs costly work before replacing Pontiac
The prison that will replace the soon-to-close Pontiac Correctional Center isn’t yet ready for inmates, according to a review of state purchasing orders.
Documents show that in the past 10 days, the Illinois Department of Corrections hired at least three companies to upgrade or repair the Thomson Correctional Center, which is set to replace Pontiac when the agency closes the 137-year-old facility Dec. 31.
In addition, the agency has hired a company to make upgrades to Lawrence Correctional Center in Sumner, which is being switched to a maximum-security facility as part of the closing of Pontiac.
In all, the last-minute construction work related to closing Pontiac and opening Thomson will cost taxpayers at least $424,000 — or more than 10 percent of what prison officials initially said would be saved by closing Pontiac.
* NEW: Cabdrivers threaten to strike over fares
Furious that Chicago taxicab fares are going down — not up — cabdrivers on Thursday gave Mayor Daley a two-week ultimatum: Support a 16 percent fare increase that takes effect Jan. 1 or risk a strike that could “paralyze” the city.
* Madigan Faces Pressure Again to Examine Alleged Torture Victim Cases
Attorney Flint Taylor has spent the last 20 years representing some of the alleged victims. Taylor says Attorney General Madigan and other government officials haven’t adequately handled the cases of about two dozen men.
TAYLOR: We call on Lisa Madigan to agree to prompt hearings for all torture victims who remain in prison as a result of confessions allegedly tortured from them by Burge and his men.
In an email statement, Madigan says she is reviewing cases individually to determine the most appropriate next step.
* Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan sues distributor of Simplicity-brand bassinets
* In Chicago, Trump hits headwinds
So far, Mr. Trump has lined up buyers for a bit less than $600 million of condo units and condo-hotel units in a residential market that has virtually seized up. Yet he owes lenders as much as $1 billion when the loans are due, according to public records and several people familiar with the project. He has closed around $200 million in sales so far, with roughly $380 million still in contract. The retail portion of the giant building is for sale, at a time of rising vacancies for retail space in Chicago and one of the worst eras for retailers in years.
* MillerCoors signs 15-year lease for headquarters
* Durbin vs. Sauerberg is drawing little interest
“It’s a heck of a sleeper,” said political scientist Brian Gaines of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois. He said he was involved in a recent Illinois poll in which respondents weren’t even asked about the Senate race because “it wasn’t interesting enough.”
* Governor seeks to ease Pontiac’s pain
Pontiac mayor says governor’s task force nothing more than “political fluff”
* Blagojevich hopes task force can soften the blow of prison closure
* The Hidden costs of Collective bargaining
* Garbage collection cuts could be deep
Mayor Daley wants to shrink the size of 80 more garbage collection crews — to one laborer on a truck instead of two. But he might not stop there.
The Streets and Sanitation Department is conducting a field test this week with a $200,000 truck that requires no laborers. It has a mechanical arm that picks up carts and dumps the trash in the side of the truck.
“If the guy has to get out of his truck, move cans into position, then pick ‘em up, time-wise it could be very ineffective,” O’Connor said.
He added, “It’s not new technology. It’s just whether our geography is amenable to this type of pick-up. Part of the thing in the city is having sanitation workers be able to pull the cart out of its enclave and get it to where it can be put into the truck. I’m not sure this articulated arm gets into all of those places.”
* Cell phone fines can now be settled out of court
Chicago motorists caught yakking on cell phones while driving — and committing no other violation — will soon be able to hang onto their driver’s licenses and avoid the Traffic Court headache.
On Wednesday, a City Council committee traded the sledge hammer for a felt hammer, in hopes of increasing fines and reducing driver aggravation.
* Daley doesn’t want to lose schools chief to Obama
* Daley not keen on Duncan going to D.C.
* O’Hare blames delays on N.Y.
* Help Save the World by donating to World Music Company