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Vaccinate your kids!

Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

* IDPH…

Potential Measles Exposure at Chicago Midway Airport and Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital

On February 22, 2019, an Illinois resident with a now confirmed diagnosis of measles was on a flight that arrived in Concourse B at Chicago Midway Airport. The passenger was unvaccinated and infectious on that day. IDPH, along with local health departments, is investigating this isolated case.

People may have been exposed to measles if they were at Midway Airport on February 22, 2019 between 9 pm and midnight. This individual also sought treatment in the emergency department at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital on February 24, 2019. People who were in the emergency department between 11:45 am and 2:15 pm also may have been exposed, as well as individuals who were in Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital from 4:00-6:15 pm on February 24, 2019 and from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm on February 25, 2019. These are the only known public locations in Illinois where exposures occurred.

Most people are vaccinated routinely in childhood and are not at high risk. Of most concern are people who have not been vaccinated. Individuals who think they have been exposed should check with their health care provider about protection through prior vaccination or the need for vaccination.

If infected, you could develop symptoms as late as March 20, 2019. Symptoms of measles include rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. If you develop symptoms of measles, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends you call or email a health care provider BEFORE going to a medical office or emergency department. Special arrangements can be made for your evaluation while also protecting other patients and medical staff from possible infection. Local health departments are working to notify Illinois residents who were identified as being potentially exposed on the affected person’s flights.

“Measles is highly contagious. However, two doses of measles vaccine are about 97 percent effective in preventing measles,” reminds IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We urge everyone to make sure they and their family members are up-to-date on measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine and all other age-appropriate immunizations, especially if you are traveling to other countries where measles is regularly found. Getting vaccinated not only protects you, it protects others around you who are too young to get the vaccine or cannot receive it for medical reasons.”

Measles can cause serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Measles is easily spread through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. People can also get sick when they come in contact with mucus or saliva from an infected person.

This most recent case is not related to the four cases reported in Champaign County earlier this month. This unvaccinated individual traveled overseas to countries where measles is regularly found.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Pritzker appoints tollway board on deadline day

Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

* Press release…

Turning the page to a new era of transparency and accountability, Governor JB Pritzker signed SB 1298 and appointed a new board of highly talented and experienced professionals to lead the Illinois Toll Highway Authority into the future.

“It is a new day for the Illinois Tollway,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Our new leadership will uphold the highest ethical standards, deliver the value to taxpayers and serve Illinoisans in every corner of our state. I’m proud to usher in a new wave of transparency and accountability at this critical agency.”

Will Evans will serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority.* Evans has nearly 40 years of experience in strategic planning, operations, engineering, construction, large infrastructure projects and major IT system implementations and has been in senior leadership for over 20 years. He is the former President of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, regulated natural gas utilities now owned by WEC Energy Group. Since retirement from Peoples Gas, Evans has been an energy and engineering consultant, serves as president of the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association and chairs the Chicago Commons board of directors and Skokie Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. He received his Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Northwestern University.

Jim Connolly will serve on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority.* Connolly has been a proud member of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (“LiUNA”) for over 48 years. He currently serves as the business manager of the Chicago & Vicinity Laborers’ District Council and has held that position since he was first elected in March 2000. Connolly proudly serves and fights to improve the lives of the 20,000 men and women who comprise the membership of the District Council’s 15 affiliated LiUNA Locals. He has worked with all levels of government, including serving on an advisory panel charged with overseeing the potential privatization of Midway International Airport. Connolly strives to bring Labor and Management together to promote the industries represented by the members of the Laborers’ District Council and the signatory contractors who employ them.

Stephen L. Davis will serve on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority.* Davis is the Founder and Chairman of The Will Group, a firm overseeing several construction, manufacturing, technology, lighting, and energy industry companies. Since 2010, The Will Group has been recognized by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the country’s Top 100 Black businesses. Davis has a passion for economic development and has been an active member of Chicago’s business community for several decades. He currently serves as the Commissioner of Aviation (Board Chair) of the DuPage Airport Authority and on the boards of the Trust Company of Illinois, PMI Energy Solutions, and Inland Real Estate Trust, specifically on Inland’s Audit and Compensation committees. He is also a member of the Business Leadership Council’s executive committee and the Chicago Regional Growth Corporation’s board of directors. Davis is the founder of the Tuskegee Next Foundation, whose goal is to graduate 100 pilots from at-risk communities. As of August 2018, the program has successfully graduated 33 cadets and 27 licensed pilots. Stephen and his wife Tanya have raised 8 children. Davis received his bachelor’s degree in Transportation and Materials from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Alice Gallagher will serve on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority.* Gallagher has served as president of the Village of Western Springs since May 2017 after serving four years as a village trustee. Since becoming village president, she has served on the West Central Municipal Conference, as director of the executive committee, co-chair of the transportation committee and chair of the central council. Gallagher is an attorney by trade and served on the Western Springs School District 101 Board of Education. She received her Juris Doctor from the Seattle University School of Law and Bachelor of Arts from Miami University.

Karen McConnaughay will serve on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority.* McConnaughay served two terms as state senator of the 33rd District, where she was the Republican Minority Whip and the minority spokesperson for the Senate Transportation Committee. She also served on the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Executive Board and International Relations Task Force. Prior to her election to the state senate, McConnaughay served as the County Board Chairman of Kane County from 2004 to 2012 where she achieved remarkable fiscal success by lowering spending and reducing the size of government while bolstering accountability, efficiency and transparency, resulting in significant bond rating increases. Under her leadership, Kane County invested in major expansion and upgrades of county bridge and road systems, public transportation, 911 public safety and criminal justice facilities.

Scott Paddock will serve on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority.* Paddock has more than 20 years of industry experience in sales, marketing and general management. Since 2011, he has served as the president of the Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway, the largest sports facility in the state of Illinois. In that role, he revamped their organizational structure, authoring strategic plan and cultural transformation to reposition enterprise for long-term success and year round relevance in the Chicago sports and entertainment landscape. Prior to joining Chicagoland Speedway, Paddock spent 12 years in marketing leadership positions at PepsiCo, including serving as the Director of Sports Marketing for Gatorade. He also currently serves on the board of the Illinois Special Olympics, Silver Cross Health Systems, Will County Center for Economic Development and Chicago Sports Commission. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame.

Gary Perinar will serve on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority.* Perinar currently serves as executive secretary-treasurer for the over 30,000 members of the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters. Perinar is a third-generation business representative of the union and a 40-year member of Carpenters Local 174 where he served his apprenticeship. At age 32, he became a full-time business representative and later an assistant to the president/EST. Perinar was twice elected as the second vice president of the Regional Council and has served under four ESTs. He has also served as a delegate for 25 years and held the position of trustee on various committees and boards including health and welfare and pension funds during this period. Perinar was the 2018 recipient of the esteemed George Meany Award which is a National Recognition by the Boy Scouts of America Pathway to Adventure Council. The award is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the youth of the community.

Cesar Santoy will serve on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority.* Santoy is the principal of Studio ARQ, LLC and ARQ Design Build, Inc., architecture and construction firms that serve public and private sector clients as well as individual home and business owners. He has over 20 years of progressively responsible experience in architectural design, construction management and civic engagement. Santoy also serves as 5th Ward Alderman for the City of Berwyn and is active in a variety of professional and community organizations. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology and is a registered Architect in several states.

Jim Sweeney will serve on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority.* Sweeney is the president-business manager of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. He joined the union in 1978 and worked for contractors on sewer, slag, paving and deep tunnel projects. Since Sweeney joined Local 150 in 1987, the union’s membership doubled from less than 10,000 to more than 23,000. He has been president-business manager since 2008 and steered Local 150 through the recession while maintaining wage and benefit levels and implementing temporary healthcare subsidies and the Local 150 Food Bank to offer assistance to members in need. Sweeney served on the tollway board under Gov. Quinn from 2011 to 2015 where he advocated for the efficient modernization of the nation’s most advanced network of toll roads.

All appointments are pending confirmation by the Illinois Senate.

Chairman Evans and Davis are African-Americans. But except for Santoy, the rest are Anglos. Also, two women, seven men.

Normally, I wouldn’t do a count like that, and I don’t have a problem with any of these members, but the governor is the one who made such a big deal about diversity. Also too, Local 150 wins again.

* Daily Herald

The incoming directors include three union officials in construction trades, two civic leaders, business executives and people with expertise in engineering and architecture.

Thursday was the deadline for Pritzker to act on a bill enacted in January ending the terms of board members after reports of cronyism at the agency. […]

Tollway Executive Director Elizabeth Gorman is still at the agency, but usually an incoming governor will nudge the board to hire a successor. […]

Directors are paid about $31,426 a year and the chairman receives $36,077.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Amtrak malfunction causes another Metra meltdown

Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

* This is just ridiculous

Tens of thousands of downtown Chicago workers may need to find a new way home this evening because of an ongoing Amtrak signal problem.

Metra is advising people who leave out of Union Station to consider alternate commutes, since an Amtrak signal problem that disrupted morning travel was still not fixed as of early this afternoon.

Every rail line operating out of Union Station is affected, including Metra’s BNSF, Milwaukee District West and Milwaukee District North, the Heritage Corridor, North Central and SouthWest. Amtrak trains out of Chicago have also been delayed. […]

Some passengers on trains this morning saw delays of more than two hours. […]

Thursday’s delays come on top of multiple other Metra delays in recent months, including weather-related breakdowns during two days of unusually cold weather, equipment problems, overcrowding and air conditioning breakdowns on the BNSF during the summer, and issues with Positive Train Control, a new system designed to prevent crashes.

We need a federal/state/local summit on this problem. Stat.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

* Oof…



* That encounter was a late spark for Lightfoot’s campaign


* And remember that progressive income tax hike Rep. Martwick introduced a couple of years ago?

A progressive income tax proposal introduced by state Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, would constitute a tax hike for a vast majority of Illinois taxpayers, starting with individuals earning as little as $17,300 (for a single filer with no dependents).

* Well, the Illinois Policy Institute is still making hay out of it


Congrats, you're rich!

Gov. Pritzker and Illinois politicians are selling a progressive income tax as a "tax on the rich."

But one proposal would hike income taxes on Illinoisans earning as little as $17,300 a year.

So congrats, you're rich!

Posted by Illinois Policy on Friday, February 22, 2019

As you can see, the video has received over a million views since Friday.

* The Question: Your birthday greeting to Rep. Martwick? Snark is heavily encouraged, of course.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Unmined territory for Lightfoot, Preckwinkle

Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

* Interesting…


The “green” area on Guzzardi’s map - where neither candidate did well - lines up pretty well with areas won by Susana Mendoza, Gary Chico and Jerry Joyce.

* Let’s set aside Joyce’s wins for now and focus on the two Latinx candidates. From the Center for Illinois Politics

(E)ight wards in heavily Hispanic areas all voted overwhelmingly for Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza or former Illinois Board of Education Chairman Gery Chico in Tuesday’s election, putting at least 49,000 of votes up for grabs in the April election. Historical data trends show that more of Chicago’s 1.6 million registered voters tend to turn out in runoff mayoral elections, compared to general elections. […]

A new analysis by the Center for Illinois Politics finds the 10th ward on the city’s Southeast Side, the 12th, 14th, 15th and 22nd wards on its Southwest Side and the 30th, 31st and 36th wards on the Northwest Side gave comparatively little support to Lightfoot and Preckwinkle on Tuesday. That makes them prime areas for both candidates to pick up much needed votes in April if they can find a way to resonate with those residents. […]

By the numbers, those heavily Hispanic wards averaged 30 percent turnout in the February 2015 regular municipal election, dropping to 27 percent this year. Across the city, turnout was 34 percent in both the 2015 and 2019 regular elections. In the 2015 runoff, turnout increased to 40 percent citywide and averaged 39 percent in those eight wards. […]

Former city clerk, state senator and 2011 mayoral contender Miguel del Valle, who lives in the 36th ward on the Northwest side, said he saw very little evidence of either Preckwinkle’s or Lightfoot’s campaign in his neighborhood in recent months.

At the same time, he said, votes for Mendoza and Chico were comparatively high due to high name recognition and regular interviews with Hispanic media outlets, such as Univision.

We can’t be totally sure, but since Mendoza and Lightfoot teamed together to bash Preckwinkle right before the first round, the comptroller may wind up endorsing Lightfoot. I don’t know about Chico, though.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      


Beware the reformers

Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

* Within an otherwise interesting story on whether ranked choice voting would be a good thing for Chicago is this little nugget

Robert Middlekauff, an influential organizer at the nonpartisan FairVote Illinois, recently endorsed ranked choice for the city on Chicago’s NPR affiliate. A Florida native, Mr. Middlekauff said: “I’ve become more frustrated with politics. Moving to Illinois, I realized, I’ve lost a lot of political power.” He went on, “You don’t have a lot of choices. Things are decided by money.”

Um, there were 14 candidates for mayor and a kabillion aldermanic candidates. The mayoral candidate who finished first, Lori Lightfoot, raised less money than everyone else in the top tier (except Willie Wilson, who reported raising just slightly less than her).

And then there’s Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno, who lost by 22 points, even though he out-raised his opponent by well over 10-1.

If you listen to some of these reformers, you’d never want to run for office because they believe you have zero chance of winning. That’s just not true. I mean, for crying out loud, Ald. Pat O’Connor himself was forced into a runoff.

Does the machine always have gigantic built-in advantages? Of course it does. Should some laws that benefit the machine be changed? You bet they should.

But empty cynicism never changed a thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


It’s just a bill

Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

* Environmental Defense Fund’s senior attorney Christie Hicks…

New legislation introduced today in Illinois would bring in billions of dollars in clean energy investments, while providing quality jobs and economic opportunities for communities throughout the state. An alliance of environmental, healthcare, consumer, business and faith leaders, known as the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, gathered today to introduce the bold clean energy legislation. The Clean Energy Jobs Act would move Illinois to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, eliminate carbon pollution from the state’s power sector by 2030 and create steps to electrify the transportation sector. The bill also includes provisions to advance equity, such as preferences for companies that implement actions to ensure equitable representation in Illinois’ clean energy workforce.

“These ambitious clean energy initiatives will help Illinois drastically cut carbon pollution and improve air quality. Moreover, the Clean Energy Jobs Act places an unprecedented focus on equity. It will spur economic development and create solid jobs in the communities that are often left out of the conversation, especially those impacted by coal-plant closures.”

The bill is here.

* Greg Bishop

State lawmakers could continue to require law enforcement agencies to track data on the race of people they pull over and pedestrians they stop.

For the past 15 years, the state has been collecting data about police traffic and pedestrian stops. The ACLU of Illinois has compiled similar statistics in reports that show in some areas of the state, police stop a disproportionate number of minorities, raising questions of police bias and racial profiling.

Springfield resident Ken Page, who once served as president of the Springfield NAACP and now serves as the president of the Springfield ACLU, said he had been targeted because of the color of his skin.

“When I asked why I was being stopped, the officer commented on the fact that I had a nice car and he said that the light over my license plate was out,” Page said. “I didn’t even bother to look at the light. I knew from friends that this is just how it worked in Springfield.”

State Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, sponsored House Bill 1613 to remove a July 1, 2019, sunset of the traffic and pedestrian stop statistical study. He said collecting such data is important for police to fine-tune best practices.

* WBEZ

The Oregon Legislature passed this week the first statewide rent control law in the country.

“It is phenomenal what is happening in Oregon. We’re looking forward to having a similar celebration very, very soon,” said Jawanza Malone, a rent control organizer in Chicago.

Chicago doesn’t have rent control. No municipality in Illinois has it. Since 1997, Illinois law has forbidden rent control.

On Tuesday, voters in several Chicago precincts approved a nonbinding measure to lift a state ban on rent control. Voters gave overwhelming support to the ballot question in precincts from the 1st, 26th, 45th and 50th wards. A similar measure was on the ballot last year and received support.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Calculate your ‘fair share’ under a progressive income tax

Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

In his Feb. 20 budget address, Gov. Pritzker pointed to Iowa and Wisconsin’s progressive income tax rates as models for a progressive income tax hike in Illinois.

But what would the average Illinoisan’s tax bill look like under those rates?

While Pritzker has said his progressive income tax would only hike taxes on the “rich,” the median Illinois family making $79,168 would see a $516 income tax hike if Illinois adopted Wisconsin’s rates and a $610 tax hike if Illinois adopted Iowa’s rates – 15 percent and 17 percent increases, respectively.

Pritzker specifically said in his budget address that Illinois “can accomplish” a progressive income tax with “a more competitive rate structure than Wisconsin and Iowa.” But what he means by competition is entirely unclear. In fact, a recent Tax Foundation study on Wisconsin’s tax code recommended exchanging its progressive income tax for a flat income tax as one way to make the state more competitive. Both North Carolina and Kentucky have swapped their progressive income taxes for a flat income tax in recent years.

The numbers simply don’t add up for Illinois to pay down billions in debt, fund new programs and still cut taxes for the majority of Illinoisans with a progressive tax.

Whether or not Pritzker calls it “fair,” Illinois families cannot afford another tax hike.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


We really need a capital bill

Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

* CBS 2 earlier this month

Last spring, inspectors found the Des Plaines River bridge on I-80 in Joliet in such bad shape, it may need to close.

Several months later, nothing has been done to repair the issues.

More than 42,000 drivers drive across Des Plaines River bridge everyday, and the most recent inspection reports reveal serious safety concerns. […]

An inspection in April confirmed their fears.

The westbound bridge was found structurally “intolerable” and the bridge’s span was listed in “critical condition and may require closure.” The bridge earned a sufficiency rating of 6 out of 100.

Anything below 80 is considered “deficient.”

Sheesh. This state, man.

* Local 150 has erected signage by the bridge to advocate for a capital bill…

* CBS 2

“We’ve let this go too long and now we’re paying the price,” said James Sweeney, president and business manager of the Operating Engineers Local 150. “But the price should not be lives.”

The group took out two billboards that can be spotted by drivers as they approach from either direction.

The billboards read, “Bridge Ahead in Critical Condition” and “Cross Bridge at Your Own Risk.” The intention is to highlight the fact that it has one of the lowest sufficiency ratings in the state.

“The reason we’re making this and screaming as loudly as they are is because it is that dangerous,” Sweeney said.

IDOT told CBS 2 they are working on some short term structural maintenance, and they have plans to rebuild this bridge eventually. But funding for the long term is an issue.

One of the other benefits of this story is that we now have Sweeney on record admitting that his union controls the dark money Fight Back Fund. /s

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


Today’s must-read

Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

* Tina Sfondeles in the Sun-Times

High on a combination of Norco and Fentanyl, prescribed by a pain clinic, my mother began to throw dishes onto the kitchen floor.

It was inexplicable. And the only way to stop the madness was to call 911.

My sister told the operator my mother was suicidal, which wasn’t true. But it led to a stay for our mother in the psychiatric ward of a nearby hospital.

There, I watched as a doctor who had prescribed my mother opioids for more than 20 years looked at her with a combination of shame and disgust. I’ll never forget that look.

The man who had persistently written prescriptions for Vicodin, Oxycodone and Norco somehow couldn’t understand how such powerful drugs could take over my mother’s life. Or he didn’t want to understand.

That was in 2012. Twenty-nine years earlier — in 1983, the year I was born — my mother, Elizabeth, had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The painful disease ate up the cartilage in her body. It forced her to get a replacement shoulder when she was in her 30s. It later led to a second shoulder surgery. To this day, my mother can’t lift her left arm above her shoulder. […]

When we made our fourth effort to detox her off opioids, her doctors refused to go along, saying she would be in too much pain. When she applied for a state medical cannabis card two years ago, she was rejected because her doctor had failed to provide a letter in support.

We called the doctor about that, several times, but he never called back.

Tina’s mom is now clean, so click here and read the rest about their difficult journey. Well worth your time.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Supporting a liberal to… own the libs?

Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

* John Kass

The national media and the national Democratic Party will feel pressure to support Lightfoot. How can feminists and liberal Beltway media not support her?

And how could liberal pundits not punish Chicago Democrats, particularly African-American Christian ministers, if any of them dare make Lightfoot’s sexual orientation an issue?

African-American voters are socially conservative, particularly the churchgoers, a secret that most Democratic Party hierarchs and many in the national media are loath to mention.

Some black clergy will be compelled to speak out. And how local and national media respond will form another story arc.

And we will witness the Democrats, the party of identity politics, hoisted with its own petard.

Anybody care to explain this?

* Related…

* Dahleen Glanton: As an African-American woman, I am particularly proud that our city will finally have a black woman at its helm. Of the 14 candidates in the race, Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, and Toni Preckwinkle, the longtime president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, were the cream of the crop. Both women are smart, politically astute and undeniably competent. I voted for one of them but at this point, it doesn’t matter which. Either would make an excellent mayor.

* Sun-Times editorial: Two good candidates, Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle, will face off on April 2 to be the next mayor of Chicago. Both are qualified. Both are thinkers. Both have the ability, and now the opportunity, to engage in a substantive debate about the best solutions to the biggest problems facing our city.

- Posted by Rich Miller   79 Comments      


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Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

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What are the financial benefits of credit union membership in Illinois?

Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

The credit union movement focuses heavily on community service and charitable giving, but credit unions also give back to their members through generous financial benefits like low loan rates, high savings rates, and fewer fees than most other banking institutions. In 2017, Illinois credit unions gave an estimated $309,145,878 in direct financial benefits to the nearly 3.2 million credit union members in our state. Interested experiencing the credit union difference? Visit ASmarterChoice.org to learn how you can save by becoming a credit union member today.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


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Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

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PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* It's just a bill
* Question of the day
* Energy News: Local Governments To Miss Out On $222 Million in potential tax revenue
* White, rural and suburban enrollment plummets at WIU
* 40,686 K-12 students in Illinois not vaccinated for measles
* Circular firing squad escalates: Rep. McSweeney calls on Leader Durkin to resign
* Audit: Department of Insurance not examining troubled local pension funds
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraiser list
* Raoul turns up the heat on bus company
* New tollway director, ICC chair named
* Courts go back and forth over hospital closure
* *Yoink*
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