* What happened to all of Chicago’s conventiongoers?
McCormick Place has seen nearly a third of its business vanish this decade, a period that saw two recessions. Attendance at major events in Chicago’s main convention center declined from 3 million in 2001 to 2.3 million last year. Las Vegas and Orlando held up somewhat better but likewise have seen attendance fall off since the middle of the decade.
More recently, Tradeshow Week, an influential publication in the industry, reported quarterly figures showing that since last year, convention attendance and space usage are down by 8 percent to 17 percent. An analysis it published last spring carried the hopeful headline, “Better days ahead.”
* McPier meltdown
The chief executive officer won his post after raising campaign cash for disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The just-departed human resources director owed her job to a powerful state senator. Other top executives have long ties to Mayor Richard M. Daley’s political machine.
That’s what clout looks like at the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, known as McPier, a little-understood government entity that operates the city’s primary convention venue, the vast McCormick Place complex; the adjacent McCormick Hyatt Regency Hotel, and the lakefront tourist center Navy Pier.
* TIFs gone wild
Some words just don’t seem to go together. Aon Centerand blight, for example.
That’s why Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, didn’t bite on a proposal to create a tax increment financing district in the East Loop. Owners of the Aon and four other downtown stalwarts — One and Two Illinois Center and One and Two Prudential Plaza — would like the city to set up a TIF district to generate property-tax dollars to pay for improvements to their buildings.
But Reilly says the properties in question “don’t even come close” to meeting the legal threshold for such assistance.
* Inspector general ‘will not shrink from conflict’
Joe Ferguson is the eldest son of a working-class single mom and a father he never knew who survived that rejection — and the mean streets of Boston — to become a dogged federal prosecutor in Chicago.[…]
Last week, the City Council handed Ferguson a four-year term as Chicago’s corruption-fighting inspector general, replacing David Hoffman, a thorn in Mayor Daley’s side who resigned to run for the U.S. Senate.
* ‘That’s nothing new’
The quote of the week comes from Ald. Isaac Carothers, 29th, who shrugged off a report about the City Council’s incestuous hiring practices just as Mayor Richard Daley announced that illegal patronage in Chicago is dead.
“All of us have family members on the payroll,” Carothers said. “That’s nothing new.”
Carothers, who is facing federal bribery charges, won’t even say whether the William Carothers on his payroll is his father or his brother. It’s none of your business who he hires with your tax dollars.
* Chicago zoning inspector in kickback case back at work
A politically connected zoning investigator has returned to work at City Hall barely a week after he admitted to accepting bribes of cash and gifts to repeatedly overlook zoning violations.
William Wellhausen — who pleaded guilty Nov. 3 and was brought back to the job the following Monday — said he’s clueless why that happened.
“I have no idea. You’ll have to ask the city,” Wellhausen said before hanging up the telephone at the city’s Landmarks Commission, where he is doing clerical work.
* Cop charged with $600K theft also officer of statewide group
A statewide police association will check its financial books after learning one of its board members — a Chicago Police sergeant — was charged with skimming $600,000 from the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association.
Sgt. John Pallohusky, a detective and president of the Chicago sergeants’ association, also serves as financial secretary for the Springfield-based Police Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois.
On Friday, Cook County prosecutors charged Pallohusky, 53, with stealing from the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association and spending the money on a home, an online stock brokerage, gambling trips, hotels and steak dinners.
* Law spinning its wheels for IDOT worker hit by sheriff’s officer’s car
* A decade after Decatur fracas, racial gap in school discipline widens
• Suspensions of black students have escalated by 75 percent since 1999, while those of white students have dropped more than 5 percent.
• When it comes to the more serious punishment of expulsion, white students are kicked out 16 percent more often than a decade ago, but black students are expelled 56 percent more often.
• Whites make up nearly three-fifths of public school enrollment, yet in the most recent data, they account for one-third or fewer of both suspensions and expulsions.
The proportion of blacks facing discipline has soared in all parts of the state even though the percentage of Illinois’ black enrollment has steadily fallen in the past decade.
* Expert: ‘Mismatch’ to blame for school race gap
* 12,000 students skip mandatory Illinois test
* Rich Township schools have worst test skip rate in state
Nearly 400 of Rich Township’s current seniors never took the exam, the spokeswoman said. The district has failed for several years to make adequate test score progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law, and is currently under “corrective action.'’ Rich Township District 227 Supt. Howard Hunigan could not be reached for comment Friday.[…]
Statewide, current seniors who skipped the exam in what would normally be their junior year were disproportionately poor, black, and students with special needs, a new analysis by the Illinois State Board of Education indicates. Such kids traditionally are among the lowest-scoring in the state and nation.
* 3 Chicago-area students named 2009 Rhodes Scholars
* Schools mapping out map changes
* Winter overnight parking ban and restrictions return Dec. 1
* Half of drivers 18-34 admit texting on the road
* Developer loses control of Block 37; stores opening
* Group urges Chicagoans to seek jobs with Census
* Economic survey: Job losses to bottom out in 1Q
Economists expect the joblessness that has weighed down the nation’s economic recovery will start to slowly abate in 2010, but they predict consumers will continue to keep a tight rein on spending, according to a new survey.
While signs have pointed to the end of the recession, joblessness remains rampant. The national unemployment rate jumped to 10.2 percent in October, the highest in 26 years. About 9 million people currently receive unemployment benefits.
* Legal aid for people fighting city hall
* Gov. Quinn ushers in deer season, encourages outdoor recreation
* Injured Ill. servicemembers can apply for grants
Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation that allows Illinois servicemembers who have been injured abroad to apply for $5,000 grants.
The legislation is effective immediately.
The grants come from the donation-based Illinois Military Family Relief Fund. The fund was created in 2003.
* State gets $500,000 to help connect military veterans with jobs