PI Original Aricka Flowers Friday October 16th, 2015, 5:14pm

The PI Week In Review

The week that was in Illinois and national news (October 12, 2015 - October 16, 2016).

Chicago and Cook County News:

A law aimed at tackling the Chicago Park District's pension program is facing a court challenge after current and former workers filed a lawsuit against the city last week seeking to undo the changes.

The Chicago Public Schools district approved $150,000 in additional spending last month to cover legal representation costs for three aides of ex-CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

Low-wage workers and their allies staged a Fight for $15 protest Monday in support of immigration reform outside the Trump Tower Chicago. There, they slammed GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump over his anti-immigrant comments and hard-line policy proposals.

The same day former Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty to her role in a multimillion-dollar kickback scheme, education activists and local lawmakers on Tuesday stressed the need for an elected school board in the city.

Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas, co-owners of SUPES Academy who were indicted last week alongside former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, pleaded not guilty in an alleged multimillion-dollar kickback scheme.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Public Schools district is taking a closer look at all contracts issued under former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

Bowling, golf, cable TV and ticket resales would be hit with the three percent amusement tax in Cook County under a plan proposed Wednesday by Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

A few hundred Illinois environmental, labor and faith leaders hit Chicago's downtown streets Wednesday evening to rally for climate justice and demand that state leaders implement aggressive policies to combat climate change.

The federal investigation of Cook Co. Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown's husband appears to have now enveloped the long-time political figure with the seizure of her cell phone.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel officially submitted his 2016 budget proposal to the city council this week, and the public had an opportunity to weigh in on the plan. Homeless activists slept outside City Hall as part of their push for greater oversight of the Chicago Housing Authority.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday said he has the votes needed to pass his budget proposal, including a record property tax increase, in the city council later this month.

Chicago seniors living in three affordable housing buildings sued their landlord Presbyterian Homes on Friday over its plan to sell the properties and force out residents next year.

State News:

Workers at the Mitsubishi Motors plant in Normal discussed a tentative contract agreement during a United Auto Workers Local 2488 meeting Monday evening.

Over 50 percent of registered voters in southern Illinois gave Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner a negative job approval rating in a poll released Monday by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to sell the Thompson Center, located in downtown Chicago, to a private developer via a public auction. At the behest of Gov. Bruce Rauner, Illinois House GOP Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs filed legislation Thursday to hasten the sale of the James R. Thomson Center in Chicago.

Illinois' pension payment schedule is being impacted by the state's budget stalemate, Comptroller Leslie Munger said Wednesday.

Illinois is one of the only states in the Midwest to have lost thousands of manufacturing jobs this year alone.

A Chicago-area transgender student who identifies as female again is being denied access to a school locker room by district officials even though the federal Department of Education ordered the school to give her full access to the girls' locker room.

A Springfield-based provider of seniors services says it will have to close its doors on Fridays beginning in November because of the state budget impasse. 

Illinois' unemployment rate ticked down to 5.4 percent in September, but the state lost 6,900 total jobs last month, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) said Friday.

Federal investigators are taking a closer look at the records in Winnebago County.

Mitshubishi workers in Normal, Illinois have approved a contract with the corporation to continue work for the next several weeks until the plant's sole vehicle sees the end of production on November 30.

National News:

An Oswego businessman plans to take on U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) in the 2016 Republican primary.

Progress Illinois provided highlights from the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2016 campaign.

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has reportedly reached a plea deal in the federal case charging him with engaging in a hush money scheme as a means to hide his alleged sexual misconduct with a former student.

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