The week that was in Illinois politics and government (October 8-12).
Chicago and Cook County News
Jean-Claude Brizard stepped down Thursday night from his post as head of the Chicago Public Schools. After just 17 months on the job, Brizard is being replaced by Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was serving as the interim chief education officer. Brizard was largely invisible in contract negotiations between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union during the first city teachers' strike since 1987.
The move comes as CPS implements the new contract and also is reportedly looking to replace dozens of neighborhood schools with charter schools.
A federal appellate court ruled Tuesday that the Chicago Board of Education owes $37.5 million in back pay to the cash-strapped Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund.
Walmart workers participated in a simultaneous walkout and strike Wednesday at about 35 stores in the Chicago area. The action is part of a broader national labor movement against the retail giant. It also follows employees at a Walmart supply warehouse in rural Will County returning to work last Saturday after staging a 21-day strike in response to alleged employer retaliation by a Walmart subcontractor.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel presented his fiscal year 2013 budget to the Chicago City Council on Wednesday, touting the absence of new taxes or fees. Some alderman, though, want to see the budget include the hiring of at least 1,000 new police officers. Emanuel's proposal includes hiring 500 new officers.
Meanwhile, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle might include a gun and ammunition tax in her proposed 2013 county budget, which is set to roll out next week.
We took an extended look Monday at the lack of a medicial trauma center on Chicago's South Side and what obligation the University of Chicago Medical Center might have in the trauma care it provides to the surrounding community.
PI looked Friday at the implementation of $1.6 billion in state Medicaid cuts, particularly a new limit of four prescriptions a month for Medicaid patients. There are concerns the state is not moving fast enough to grant exemptions to the limit.
We reported Thursday that Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to close seven state corrections and juvenile justice facilities, including Tamms super max prison, is in serious jeopardy after Circuit Court Judge Charles Cavaness sided with AFSCME this week and issued an injunction to stop the shut downs.
The injunction also puts in jeopardy money that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is supposed to recieve due to the closings. Nonetheless, DCFS Director Richard Calica announced Thursday that the agency will not lay off 300 employees as first planned. Calica expects the Illinois General Assembly to come through with additional funding, even though it is not known where this funding will come from.
The Evergreen Park Federation of Teachers reached a tentative contract deal with the school board Friday morning, ending a strike there that has gone on since October 2.
Meanwhile, teachers in the northwest suburb of Crystal Lake went on strike Friday amid a dispute over health insurance benefits.
PI examined Wednesday the saga of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-Chicago) who is running for re-election, though he has been on a medical leave of absence since June 10. The situation has left Illinois' 2nd congressional district voters in the dark.
We noted Thursday that thousands of low-income families throughout Illinois could lose food aid if Congress passes the deep cuts to federal assistance currently being proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the findings of a report released this week.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment insurance dropped last week to the lowest level since February 2008, which was months prior to the Great Recession, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics numbers released Thursday,.
Two days prior to Joe Biden and Paul Ryan squaring off in the vice presidential debate, U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-McHenry) and Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth had their third debate Tuesday night for the 8th congressional district seat. The debate featured several confrontations and a boisterous Rolling Meadows debate audience. The debate came a day after both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Daily-Herald endorsed Duckworth in the contest.