PI Original Matthew Blake Friday April 6th, 2012, 12:09pm

The PI Week In Review

The week that was in Illinois politics and government (April 2nd - April 6th).

Chicago and Cook County News

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Building a New Chicago” speech outlined $7.2 billion in infrastructure improvements he wants the city to tackle over the next four years. We reported that one project was conspicuous in its absence – extending the Chicago Transit Authority Red Line, from 95th Street to the end of the city at 130th Street.

Advocates for the long anticipated extension were discouraged but hopeful money could come from Emanuel’s “Infrastructure Trust” proposal. But aldermen have voiced concerns that is it not clear what will be in this Trust, and whether private investors might benefit at the expense of taxpayers.

After a drawn out battle staged in both city hearings and the public, a coalition of protesters will get a legal permit from the city to march against the NATO summit on May 20, the city announced Wednesday.

Even with the G8 summit relocated from Chicago to Camp David, there will be another international summit being held simultaneously with NATO's. A child malnutrition summit will be held at the Chicago History Museum May 21, the second day of the two-day NATO summit.

With their contract set to expire on Sunday, a group of about 50 Chicago-based SEIU Local 1 janitors, who were joined by members from community organizations, held a press conference Wednesday morning to publicly call for higher wages and an increase in health benefits.

The Chicago Housing Authority has completed most of its scheduled public input process for the “Plan For Transformation 2.0” – but advocates criticize CHA for not providing a better idea of how they might re-transform public housing.

Emanuel said Thursday that the city will expand its recycling program next year to the 340,000 remaining Chicago households that lack curbside pick-up.

The mayor also outlined 22 community strategies last weekend to better address Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, or LGBT, health issues, many of which go beyond traditional LGBT health care concerns.

We reported Friday that environmentalists are cautiously optimistic about the Millennium Reserve Initiative put forward by Emanuel and the state to protect the ecology of the Calumet region on Chicago's Southeast Side.

A legal challenge to Cook County's ordinance banning assault weapons will come before a judge thanks to an Illinois Supreme Court ruling Thursday.

State News

According to a pair of recent national reports examined by PI, Illinois is – surprise! – not a model of government integrity. However, the Prairie State actually scores average marks when it comes to making public information readily accessible.

We looked at a bill making its way through the Illinois General Assembly that creates new regulations for hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking – and walked through what exactly the controversial oil and drilling technique is – and how it affects the environment and drinking water.

Another bill of interest PI looked at would make it illegal for employers in the state to ask employees for their social media passwords. The bill easily cleared an Illinois House vote last week.

Two pending bills in the state legislature pose a threat to women’s reproductive rights, we reported on Thursday. One requires doctors to offer their patients an ultrasound exam of their unborn child prior to having an abortion. Another bill requires health facilities that perform more than 50 abortions a year to undergo additional licensing.

Protesters spent last weekend marching 31 miles from the South Side of Chicago to the south suburban village of Crete, to protest a civil immigrant detention center the Obama administration envisions for the town.

As PI reported Friday, perhaps the best way to head off the facility is a state law that has passed the Illinois Senate banning for-profit detention centers. The Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America would operate the planned detention center.

Representatives from some of Illinois’ largest hospitals said at an Illinois house hearing Wednesday that they risk shutting down if Springfield cuts $2.7 billion from Medicaid, a figure proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn and approved by the Illinois House. These community hospitals are often the only place for health services in poor Chicago area communities.

Demonstrators marched through downtown Chicago Wednesday in support of Quinn’s proposal to shut down the Tamms correctional center, a Supermax prison in downstate Illinois.

The Illinois State Board of Education has sent the U.S. Department of Education a waiver to opt out of federal No Child Left Behind requirements that all students be rated proficient in reading and math by 2014.

A large, nine-week long Mega Millions lottery netted $31 million for Illinois public elementary and high schools.

National News

We reported Thursday on President Barack Obama's inclusion of $300 million in his 2013 budget proposal for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This is a victory for local conservation groups and helps to offset the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed elimination of the $9.9 million Beach Grants Program.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told a group of Chicago business leaders Wednesday that Obama administration policies prevented a recession and laid the foundation for economic growth.

U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Urbana) will not run for re-election after serving in Congress for 12 years, and, two weeks after the Illinois primary, it is not clear whom Republicans will run in his place.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy added just 120,000 jobs in March after adding 200,000 jobs in each of the previous three months.


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