* Judge blocks layoffs at Pontiac prison
A Livingston County judge issued a temporary injunction tonight in a lawsuit brought by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees over the state’s plan to close the Pontiac Correctional Center.
Union Executive Director Henry Bayer says the judge’s decision lends credence to the union belief that the state and Gov. Rod Blagojevich rushed into their plan to close the prison.
* Higher vendor fees could ‘finish off’ Maxwell Street
Cesar Delgado has been working at his family’s booth at the Maxwell Street Market selling tools and hardware since he was 8. He’s seen one big change after another come to the legendary market. But the latest one caught him by surprise.
The City Council last week sharply raised the fees paid by Maxwell Street Market vendors to cover the cost of “moonwalks,” or “jumping jacks” — those inflatable playgrounds that the city has long provided for free to neighborhood block parties. Daily fees will double, from $40 to $80, with the yearly license fee rising to $75 from $25.
“That’s a drastic change, especially on the daily fees,” Delgado said Sunday. “It sounds like something that could finish the market off. Some vendors will find it very hard to make the money back.”
* Quigley seeks campaign money
Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley said Sunday he plans to file papers today to start collecting campaign funds to run for the congressional seat of Rahm Emanuel, who is leaving to become President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff.
The only other candidate who has started a committee to raise money for the race is state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz.
Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th), Mayor Daley’s unofficial City Council floor leader, has told the Sun-Times he will seek the seat if he gets the mayor’s backing.
Daley’s support could trump any financial advantage that any other candidate might have in the early stages of a campaign.
* Emanuel won’t take back seat in this race
* Editorial: Accountability will improve schools
* State police announce sweeping changes
Illinois State Police say the high-speed crash of a trooper’s cruiser that killed two Collinsville sisters last year has prompted dramatic policy changes.
State Police Director Larry Trent announced Friday troopers must follow a four-tiered response system that limits how fast they can drive.
* Statewide seat belt crackdown in effect
* Automated enforcement a boon for traffic safety
* Cameras are good — at stopping up budget holes
* 3rd lawsuit claims election-night police abuse
* Chicago Police Department will change how it combats gangs
* Graffiti Triggers Crime & Littering, Study Shows
* Cook County Board President Todd Stroger warns of layoffs without bonds
Nine months after a sales-tax increase that was expected to bring in nearly $400 million a year passed, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is warning that thousands of workers will be laid off if commissioners don’t approve borrowing $740 million.
Treasurer Maria Pappas was told that 85 of her 135 employees would have to go. Sheriff Tom Dart was told that 1,500 of his 5,900 would get the ax.
* CTA’s Holiday Homeless Harassment
* As Pace fares go up, so do top execs’ salaries
In 2006, Pace had 13 people making more than $100,000 a year. The number this year: 20. In all, the agency has 1,547 employees.
Salaries for several top staffers have gone up by 10 percent or more since 2006 — including a 35 percent pay hike for Rocco Donahue, who now has the title of deputy executive director for external relations.
* Airport revenue dries up
* O’Hare: Finish the job
The city has asked the Federal Aviation Administration for nearly $200 million in passenger ticket taxes to get going on Phase Two of the O’Hare expansion. The money would pay for design and engineering work for a new southern runway, reconfiguration of existing runways and a terminal at the west end of the airfield.
United and American Airlines, O’Hare’s dominant carriers, asked the FAA in June not to approve those funds. The city and the airlines are negotiating the timing and financing of O’Hare’s future.
* Tri-Cities face tough budget choices
* 344 foreclosed homes auctioned at Rosemont event
* U. of I. Medical Center cutting 200 jobs
* How Ford Lost Focus
* Even Santa can’t find work this year
* Prosecutors investigate missing cemtery funds
Prosecutors from St. Clair and Madison counties and Illinois State Police were scheduled to meet this week in a probe of $300,000 in prepaid burial funds that are missing from two area cemeteries.
St. Clair County State’s Attorney Robert Haida says the group will organize the investigation of Mount Hope Cemetery in Belleville and Valley View Cemetery in Edwardsville.
In October, the office of Illinois Comptroller Daniel W. Hynes discovered that the money was missing from more than 450 prepaid accounts at the two cemeteries.
Alan Henry, a spokesman for Hynes’ office, says the money disappeared from May of 2005 to July of this year from the cemeteries’ trust funds, which are set up to maintain money people have paid for prearranged burials.
* Food Depository needs our help
One group that never forgets, that represents our city at its very best, is the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which gives millions of pounds of food each year to some 500,000 poor and hungry men, women and children in Cook County. This is the time of year — the giving season — when the Food Depository’s needs are greatest and our spirit of generosity is at its greatest, and we cannot forget them.
* Former attorney general recalls struggle with son’s suicide
It’s been another tough year for former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan and his family.