The week that was in Illinois politics and government (February 6-10).
Chicago and Cook County News
Members of nine local school councils Thursday filed a lawsuit with the Circuit Court of Cook County seeking to stop the Chicago Public School's Board of Education from closing or turning around their neighborhood schools. Progress Illinois reported on an intense press conference announcing the suit, where plaintiffs accused CPS of racism.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of CTU filing a charge Wednesday with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that the Chicago Board of Education's 2011 layoff policy had a disparate impact on black teachers.
PI reported Thursday on a Cook County hearing on whether to amend an ordinance so the Cook County sheriff honors some detainer requests from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The hearing did not resolve this serious civil rights and public safety issue. But it did reveal that both Cook County Commissioners and Sheriff Tom Dart loathe ICE policies.
On Saturday, the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights held their second annual immigrant integration summit. The summit addressed hot-button political issues like ICE detainers and the implementation of the Illinois Dream Act as well as community outreach efforts.
Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown said Thursday she plans to keep accepting campaign contributions from her employees, which her challenger, Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd), has judged ethically dubious.
We looked Thursday at the use of Facebook in Rahm Emanuel’s successful 2011 mayoral campaign. Emanuel’s use of Facebook could offer progressive causes — and candidates — important lessons in utilizing the social network and other forms of social media.
The city of Chicago reached a $6.2 million settlement Thursday with some 800 plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit over arrests during a 2003 Iraq War protest.
The PepsiCo company announced Thursday that they will cut 150 jobs in the Chicagoland area in an attempt to focus more on marketing efforts. The company currently has 2,000 positions in the area.
PI attended a Chicago Tea Party meeting Wednesday at which video maker Andrew Marcus sung the praises of Rahm Emanuel’s education policy. Marcus directed a video that featured Emanuel, where the mayor talked about his support for charter schools and his early confrontations with the Chicago Teachers Union.
PI looked Wednesday at a new report that called for reversing the flow of the Chicago River to curb the invasion of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes. The report has already gained attention from top Illinois politicians. But environmental experts raise concerns about the proposal, including its price tag.
In a show of victory, about 50 activists returned to the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) Wednesday with a giant check for $33 million — and the now infamous golden toilet to symbolize the millions of dollars in TIF money initially allocated to the CME Group. Last week, the CME Group announced that they would not accept $15 million in TIF money the city approved for the financial exchange to renovate CBOT's bathrooms, among other plans.
Meanwhile, Standard & Poor's downgraded CME Group’s credit rating to AA-. Part of the reason for the downgrade, as explained by the credit ratings agency, is the MF Global scandal.
Chicago's homeownership rate is the lowest it's been in a decade despite historically-low mortgage prices and declining home values, according to Census Bureau data released this week.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Tuesday that they have saved $20.5 million by consolidating parts of Chicago and Cook County government.
The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics' monthly employment report showed that in January the nation’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 8.3 percent. However, many of Illinois’ unemployed are hardly encouraged – PI looked at a Jobs With Justice rally in downtown Chicago, where protesters pushed for a government jobs programs to assist Illinois’ 647,300 unemployed workers.
Peoria-based Caterpillar Inc. will relocate 1,400 jobs from Japan, but the jobs won't come to any of the multiple Illinois locales that tried to secure the plant, the manufacturing company announced Thursday.
PI reported Wednesday on the debate on Springfield over Medicaid cuts, noting that the health program is already a lean one. Our report also added that the state focused on reforming Medicaid just a year ago.
We looked Tuesday at state government’s latest effort to deal with vacant, foreclosed properties: the Illinois Building Blocks pilot program that will rehab foreclosed properties in five Cook County cities. The program will also add money to Illinois’ Foreclosure Prevention Network.
Meanwhile, a long-anticipated $25 billion national settlement was finally reached this week between five mortgage servicers, accused of robo-signing documents, and federal and state government officials. Local housing advocates are split on the settlement: Some say the banks should have forked over much more money, others applaud that some homeowners will get a reduction on their mortgage’s principal.
Illinois State Reps. Greg Harris (D-13), Deborah Mell (D-40), and Kelly Cassidy (D-14) introduced a marriage equality bill in the General Assembly Wednesday, calling it the Religious Freedom-Marriage Act. PI looked Tuesday at how the U.S. appeals court decision to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage might spur such legislation in Illinois.
Seven Illinois business groups, including the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, have written a letter in protest of Gov. Pat Quinn's anticipated nomination of Chicago Ald. Joe Moore (49th) to run the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
Quinn signed a bill Monday that lets Chicago use automatic speed enforcement cameras around schools and parks, a move championed by Emanuel.
Quinn proposed eliminating the natural gas utility tax in his state of the state speech: the watchdog Citizens Utility Board says that large agricultural companies will be the plan’s chief beneficiary.
There is positive news regarding U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s health. The Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday that a portion of U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's scalp has been reattached, thanks to a reduction in brain swelling.
A gun-rights group called The Second Amendment Foundation said Monday they plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Illinois' concealed carry law.
PI looked Monday at a new “Super PAC” formed by CREDO Mobile, a San Francisco-based phone company that is aimed at defeating Tea Party congress members in the 2012 election cycle. These include Illinois’ leading light in the Tea Party: the state's 8th district U.S. Rep. representative Joe Walsh.