The week that was in Illinois politics and government (July 16-20).
Chicago and Cook County News
The clock is ticking on a new contract agreement between the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools after both the CTU House of Delegates and Board of Education swiftly and unanimously rejected a third party fact finder's report Wednesday.
It was a foregone conclusion that CPS would reject a report recommending an 18 percent raise for teachers largely due to implementation of a seven-hour school day.
However, CTU President Karen Lewis praised the report Monday. In the end, CTU agreed with the raise suggestion, but balked at other parts of the report such as a lack of recall procedure for laid off teachers.
Eight aldermen indicated Wednesday they want an advisory referenda on the November 6 ballot to see if voters are behind having an elected Board of Education in Chicago.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago City Council are finalizing a new gun control law that will allow someone with a misdemeanor conviction to obtain a gun after a five-year ban.
Chicago’s rapid expansion of the controversial Tax Increment Finance, or TIF, program during the housing bubble has arguably started to back fire. A report released Wednesday by Cook County Clerk David Orr finds that Chicago TIF revenue is down 11 percent between 2011 and 2010 and 19 percent between 2011 and 2007 – the year the bubble burst.
The draft of Chicago’s cultural plan released Monday includes recommendations that could greatly benefit Chicago artists and public school students.
The Chicago Police Department will spend around $14 million this summer paying time-and-a-half overtime to police officers in an initiative to curb violent crime.
Emanuel announced at the start of the week that Chicago branch libraries would return to a 48-hour week, including eight-hour Mondays.
PI reported Friday on the debate over a new power plant to be built on the city’s Southeast Side. The coal gasification plant to be owned by Leucadia, a New York City-based company, will create jobs, but it could also raise energy prices and pollute the air.
AFSCME Local Council 31, which represents state corrections workers, forcefully argued in Springfield Thursday that Gov. Pat Quinn’s planned prison closings put an overcrowded system over the edge – and could lead to more prison violence.
PI looked at a report Wednesday by a state budget crisis task force that found that Illinois, and most other states, are experiencing major threats to their ability to provide basic public services, such as investing in children and teachers and caring for the needy due to continued social service cuts.
We also examined Tuesday a new report from the Urban Institute which cites reductions in state pension systems as a reason for the lack of interest in public sector jobs by younger workers.
Illinois will do a federal-state partnership for its health insurance exchange in 2014, the first year of full Affordable Care Act implementation. The Quinn administration said that there were too many logistical hurdles for Illinois to set up its own exchange.
Illinois retired public employees still do not what know what health care benefits they will get from the state after a law went into effect last month that ends the state entirely subsidizing health care for retirees.
Members of the Action Now community group protested outside a Dunkin' Dounuts in downtown Chicago Thursday, arguing that the $8.25 state minimum wage earned by most Dunkin' Donuts employees, and other fast food workers, is not a livable wage.
On Tuesday, The FBI filed bribery conspiracy charges against the ex-campaign treasurer of former State Sen. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago), three other former Hendon campaign aides, and three additional suspects.
Meanwhile, The Illinois House Select Committee on Discipline voted 11-1 Thursday to expel State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago), who is under federal investigation for accepting a bribe.
Illinois continues to linger in the midst of one of its worst droughts in more than two decades. We reported Monday that the greatest impact might be felt in the price of food, as a substantial portion of the state’s corn crop could be jeopardized if conditions fail to improve.
Jack Darin of the Sierra Club penned an op-ed Friday on a report that shows a promising economic future for wind energy in Illinois. According to Darin, the biggest obstacle for the wind industry might be uncertainty as to whether Congress will extend a federal tax break for energy developers.
Wheaton College has filed suit, alongside the Catholic University of America, in D.C. District Court against the preventative services mandate outlined in the Affordable Care Act. Wheaton objects to a mandate that requires employers to provide health insurance that covers the cost of contraception.
A coalition of organizations unveiled plans Wednesday to boycott some of the nation’s leading hotels over their efforts to delay the enforcement of federal guidelines requiring the installation of permanent wheelchair lifts that allow disabled guests entry to swimming pools. At issue is interpreting guidelines set forth in 2010 as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
If campaign fundraising reports are any indication, then the 11th District Congressional race between U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, a Republican from Hinsdale, and Democratic challenger Bill Foster of Naperville will be a tight one. Biggert has more money on hand, but Foster raised more cash between April and June.