The week that was in Illinois politics and government (May 14-19).
Chicago and Cook County News
The big news for Chicago this week is the upcoming NATO summit Sunday and Monday – each day this week featured a different demonstration in downtown Chicago.
On Friday the National Nurses United held a peaceful rally of more than 2,000 people at Daley Plaza in the center of Chicago that featured a mock G8 skit and musical interludes. Nurses dressed as Robin Hood to push for a Robin Hood tax on financial transactions.
The event followed a battle between the nurses and city officials over where to hold the protest.
A dozen protesters Thursday affiliated with Occupy Chicago doused themselves with fake oil and performed a symbolic death in front of the Canadian Consulate to protest Canada’s extraction of crude oil from the Alberta Tar Sands.
Occupy Chicago marched to Daley Plaza Wednesday with a focus on foreclosures. Speakers demanded that Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart implement a one-year moratorium on evicting homeowners who face foreclosure.
Police arrested eight protesters Monday for refusing to exit the lobby of President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters in downtown Chicago.
The Chicago Grassroots Collaborative guided visiting NATO journalists on two “Chicago 99 percent Tours” this week. With reporters from Reuters, the BBC, and various local publications, the tours took the press via charter bus through Chicago’s Englewood, Brighton Park, Little Village, and Back of the Yards neighborhoods. We'll have more on those tours later this weekend.
Chicago police officers have often been the immediate target of NATO protests, but the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police has its own act of defiance. The union put up billboards stating, "Keep Chicago Safe: Hire More Police Officers."
Be sure to check back with Progress Illinois often this weekend for ongoing updates and stories on the NATO protests.
PI reported Monday on a bill making its way through the Illinois Senate that would require public-held companies to report how much they pay in state income taxes. Chicago’s Lakeview Action Coalition says the measure is the first step toward creating a more equitable tax structure. But business leaders decry the bill, alleging it could further perpetuate the state’s reputation of being a bad place to do business.
The Illinois House voted 113-3 Wednesday to give an emergency funding injection to state child care providers. The expiration of money for this fiscal year is due to limited federal funds that Illinois must first use to pay Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients.
A bill that would give Illinois the highest minimum wage in the country cleared the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday.
Gov. Pat Quinn may supersede the state legislature and create a state health insurance exchange by executive order in order to meet a federal January 1, 2013 deadline.
Following in the footsteps of President Barack Obama, Quinn announced his support for gay marriage last week. Bill sponsor State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) says it is unlikely the legislation will move this spring legislative session.
But momentum for same-sex marriage legalization is growing. The Equality Federation, a national alliance of GLBT organizations that includes Equality Illinois, started an online movement this week to push for state-based same-sex marriage legislation via petition.
One reason gay marriage legislation may not move is the legislative focus on public employee pension costs. The We Are One coalition – partly made up of unions that represent these employees – called this week for a fair solution to the pension issue. The group called it “a crisis politicians themselves caused by failing for years to pay their share to public retirement systems.”
Democratic ward committeemen on Chicago's West Side, including Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, plan to create a third political party in the state's 10th House District in order to challenge State Rep. Derrick Smith, who faces federal bribery charges.
Illinois is third in the nation when it comes to mortgages in foreclosure: According to Mortgage Bankers Association data, 6.9 percent of all Illinois home loans are in foreclosure.
We looked Friday at recent reports about a conservative Super PAC’s consideration of a plan to run attack commercials based on President Obama’s relationship with his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The ensuing backlash has raised questions as to how much an impact ads intended to divide along racial or cultural lines will have during this election season.
Obama's re-election campaign, the Democratic National Committee and two other related committees raised $43.6 million dollars in April.
NATO is not the only policy summit in Chicago this weekend – the three-day National Latino Congreso started Thursday with local and national Latino leaders focused on voter mobilization, and looking to influence this year’s presidential election.
The first debate in the nationally-watched 8th congressional district race between U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-McHenry) and Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth featured the incumbent saying that he would allow the student loan interest rate to double this summer.