The week that was in Illinois politics and government (June 18-22).
Chicago and Cook County News
PI examined Friday the lawsuit filed in Cook County that challenges Illinois’ current ban on gay marriage, interviewing some of the couples that are lead plaintiffs. In an unusual circumstance, the lawsuit has support from the very people tasked with defending Illinois law, including state Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
A Chicago City Council committee passed Thursday an ordinance to change possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana from a criminal offense to a civil violation punishable by fine. The committee hearing raised questions if fines might disproportionately hurt black residents in low-income neighborhoods, who make up about 75 percent of the of Chicago Police Department's pot arrests.
The Kenwood Oakland community organization on Chicago’s South Side joined with education activists across the country at a press conference Thursday in downtown Chicago. Groups from seven different cities, including Chicago, filed a federal complaint contending that so-called education reform policies violate their civil rights by marginalizing the voices of minority parents and students.
We covered a protest that took place last Friday outside the front doors of the Congress Plaza Hotel. Striking hotel workers joined with hundreds of supporters marching in a noisy picket line to mark the 9th anniversary of the nation's longest-running strike.
Foes of Chicago closing six of its 12 mental health clinics in April aired their grievances Monday in a new venue: the Cook County Criminal Court. Five protesters charged with trespassing at the since closed Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic claimed that they broke the law to prevent a greater harm.
PI looked Wednesday at a plan by Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (D-Chicago) to create a county “land bank” to deal with the surging number of county properties vacated because of foreclosure. Under a land bank, a quasi-governmental organization will seize and then manage properties until they can be put into productive use.
Meanwhile, we reported on data released this week by the Illinois Public Interest Research Group that Illinois residents under the age of 35 face an increasingly difficult time qualifying for their first mortgage.
Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia (D-Chicago) introduced at a county board meeting this week an amendment to the county’s human rights ordinance that would give legal recourse to people with federal housing vouchers that landlords discriminate against.
Gov. Pat Quinn will close the Tamms Super Max prison and Dwight women's prison, effective August 31. Quinn also will close juvenile justice centers in Joilet and Murphysboro. News of the closures broke Tuesday afternoon when facility employees got a letter from Quinn informing them of the decision.
Illinois legislative leaders got nowhere fast Thursday in a meeting to work on a bill that would reduce the state's long-term costs for public employee pensions. Legislative leaders will not meet again for another five weeks.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law Thursday that cuts free retiree health insurance for state employees, a move opposed by AFSMCE Local Council 31, the union representing many of the state's public employees.
Illinois' recent legislative session brought about modest environmental successes from Cook County’s landfill-expansion ban to dry cleaning chemical restrictions, said environmental advocates in the General Assembly and members of the Environmental Law and Policy Center Tuesday.
Recent federal testing of waters near Lake Michigan has netted genetic evidence of the presence of Asian carp for a third consecutive year, reigniting the debate of what federal and state government should be doing about the invasive carp species.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision early next week as to whether they will invalidate the Affordable Care Act. The conventional wisdom seems to be that the law will remain intact, but the individual mandate to buy insurance could be thrown out.
We looked at a poll released Tuesday that finds the majority of small businesses in eight states surveyed actually like the ACA, and do not want to see it overturned. The poll is maybe surprising given that the country’s largest small business lobbying group – the National Federation of Independent Businesses – is a plaintiff in the lawsuit against ACA.
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago) was in Chicago Monday to champion President Barack Obama’s announcement that the Department of Homeland Security would enable a large swath of undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 to avoid deportation.
Partly thanks to the announcement, Latino voters are more enthused to vote for Barack Obama in this year's presidential election than they were in 2008, according to a poll completed Thursday by Latino Decisions.
Conservative billionaire Sheldon Adelson could donate up to $100 million to the Republican Party in this election cycle, according to reports Monday.
Moody's credit rating agency downgraded the credit of 15 of the country's biggest banks Thursday, including Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase. Moody's cited the complexity and opacity in investment practices, and also problems with risk management.
The U.S. Senate passed a farm bill Thursday that largely preserves food stamps, the federal program used by 1 in 7 Americans to help pay for their groceries. The bill cuts $4.5 billion for food stamps over the next decade, but outlines $869 billion in expected funding.