* News-Democrat: STAR bonds legislation: It’s alive, but why
* Report: State’s road are among worst
The Illinois Public Interest Research Group argues that potholes and cracks at highways and bridges across the state are costing motorists at car repair shops. The state ranks 10th in the nation in terms of highest number of roads in poor or mediocre condition, the study states.
* Wal-Mart OKs talks with labor in effort to push expansion: sources
The world’s largest retailer has repeatedly insisted that it would not negotiate wages and that it would only agree to pay a “living wage” if the mandate applied to all Chicago retailers….But the company just might sign a “community benefits agreement” that guarantees that as many as five new Chicago stores would be 100 percent built by organized labor and that neighborhood residents would be hired to work in those stores.
* State cancels security deal
The Illinois State Police will take over the work now being performed by V.I.P. Security & Detective Services of Matteson — a switch that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has said will save money and “provide greater protection for nursing home residents.”
The company’s contract wasn’t scheduled to expire until June 30, but the state health department sent the company a letter on Friday terminating the deal as of May 7.
* Illinois’ chief justice: Judges will assess mental health courts
* Wellcare Health to repay state $1 million
* Chicago Lags Behind National Census Participation Goal
So far 63 percent of Chicago households have mailed back the 2010 census forms. That number falls well below Illinois’ participation rate of 75 percent and the national goal of 72 percent.
* 77% of Springfield households return Census forms
* Census officials pleased with early returns; Decatur area improves over 2000
* Feds could penalize CN for underreported crossing blockages
CN reported 14 cases in November and December but the auditors found 1,457. Railroad executives apologized and explained they thought the board wanted only crossing delays caused by stopped trains not slow trains.
* Feds grill CN on rail crossing blockages
[STB Commissioner Charles] Nottingham suggested that the STB extend its five-year oversight of the sale to six years, saying CN’s failure to report these figures has cost the agency a year of working together.
* Feds chastise CN for undercounting rail crossing delays
* Metra might launch inquiry into exec’s alleged ‘bonus’
Phil Pagano, Metra’s gruff boss of commuter rail operations for the last 20 years, is under scrutiny for possible financial irregularities involving an alleged “bonus” of $56,000, officials said today.
Metra Chairwoman Carole Doris called the agency’s directors into emergency session Friday to hire an outside legal counsel who would conduct an inquiry into extra compensation reportedly being paid to Pagano, apparently without the knowledge of the directors.
Metra officials would not comment on details regarding the inquiry. If approved by the Metra directors, the inquiry will be conducted by Itasca attorney James Sotos.
* Stroger employee gets paid for county contract
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger paid $24,975 to a private company owned by new Deputy Chief of Staff Carla Oglesby just days before she started her county job, a county commissioner said.
The fee falls just $25 under the $25,000 benchmark at which contracts require approval by the Cook County Board, said Bartlett Republican Commissioner Timothy Schneider.
* Top Stroger aide’s firm got payment for Cook County contract while on payroll
Stroger’s office refused to answer questions about when the contract was awarded. The office said in a statement that the county Department of Homeland Security hired CGC to help inform 2.5 million suburban residents that the state could provide disaster relief funds to them following flooding in 2008.
* [Cook] County employee charged with workers’ comp fraud
* Classes of 35 may violate fire code
The municipal code calls for “20 square feet per person” in a classroom, which means CPS would need a 720-square-foot classroom to accommodate 35 kids and a teacher, a Fire Department spokesman said Wednesday. An additional aid or parent volunteer could require even more space.
More than 90 percent of CPS classrooms are at least 700 square feet, CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond said, with new buildings typically holding 900-square foot classrooms.
* Kane officials voice support for red-light cameras
* Kane committee questions circuit clerk hirings
If the current trend continues, the office will be over its salary budget by $350,000 when the fiscal year ends, said Cheryl Pattelli, executive director of the finance department.
* Woodridge cuts $6 million from 2010-11 budget
* Bolingbrook trustees get heat from employees and residents for approving 23 layoffs
Union representatives for village employees noted many of them have been working without a contract since 2008. They also argued village officials never made an attempt to negotiate or offer up alternative solutions — such as furlough days or pay cuts — to avoid layoffs.
* Village staffer promoted to administrator in Matteson
* N. Aurora looks at joining pension group
* Oswego village president lobbies in Washington
This week, for the second time since being elected in 2007, LeClercq went to Washington, D.C., to speak with legislators, namely U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster and staff of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Although he had the same wish for a Metra station when he lobbied back in 2008, it was a different trip this time around.
* Mattoon appoints Gover mayor
City commissioners Randy Ervin, Rick Hall and Chris Rankin approved Gover’s appointment Wednesday afternoon to replace Dave Cline, who resigned Monday.
Gover, a commissioner who abstained during the roll call, will serve as acting mayor until a special election in April 2011 because there were more than two years remaining on Cline’s mayoral term….Cline resigned Monday because he is moving into a new residence built outside city limits, disqualifying him from holding elected office for the city.
* Obama campaign still owes Springfield $55,457
* Charges brought in mayor’s killing; police seek suspect who has long history of arrests
St. Clair County prosecutors issued a first-degree murder charge Wednesday against a suspect in the slaying of Washington Park Mayor John Thornton.
A warrant was issued for the arrest of Aaron B. Jackson, 34. Illinois State Police ask that anyone with information about his whereabouts call 911 or Crimestoppers at 866-371-8477.
Circuit Judge Jan Fiss ordered that Jackson, when arrested, be held on $1 million bail.
* Metro-east’s only underground state park closes to save bats