PI Original Matthew Blake Saturday April 28th, 2012, 1:47pm

The PI Week In Review

The week that was in Illinois politics and government (April 23-27).

Chicago and Cook County News

The Chicago City Council passed 41-7 Tuesday Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s controversial “Infrastructure Trust” public-private partnership, arguably Emanuel’s most significant proposal in his one year as mayor. There are major lingering concerns with the Trust, despite the lopsided vote.

For one, it is hard to say what projects the Trust will finance, and what the costs and benefits will be to Chicago taxpayers. Also, there are concerns that the Trust has been legally set up to avoid City Council, city Inspector General, and Freedom of Information Act accountability: amendments by Chicago aldermen to address these worries twice failed Tuesday.

The Grassroots Collaborative coalition of labor and community groups penned an op-ed for PI Monday stating their equity and transparency concerns with the Trust.

Emanuel unveiled Wednesday the members of a city task force empowered to decide what is to happen with the Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plant sites when they go offline, as well as the best way to clean up pollution from the century old facilities.

We reported Wednesday that the U.S. Secret Service will let NATO summit protesters go ahead with their planned parade route – except they will push back where the route ends.

The Chicago Police Department is making its own NATO preparations, including bringing in 500 troopers from the Illinois State Police and also deputizing police from suburban Rosemont.

Chicago Housing Initiative members rallied outside the Chicago Housing Authority Wednesday with a clear point of contention: About 3,400 CHA public housing units are currently unoccupied, even though there's a 60,000 family waiting list for public housing.

Protests against the city’s planned closure of six mental health clinics continued this week.

Ten mental health advocates were arrested Monday night outside the Woodlawn clinic and their tent city was taken down by police as they camped out in protest of the closing of six facilities. The protests were preceded by Rev. Jesse Jackson and other religious leaders who spoke out Monday afternoon against the clinic closings.

A group of about 150 Chicagoans belonging to 15 community and labor organizations drove to Detroit Tuesday evening to join in a protest today of General Electric’s tax breaks at the company’s GM Renaissance Center. The protesters planned to interrupt the company’s annual meeting.

State News

Illinois progressives have started to speak out against Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposed $2.7 billion in cuts to Medicaid, particularly cuts to health care providers.

This includes a report from Families USA, a health care consumer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., released Wednesday contending that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed $2.7 billion in Medicaid cuts would cost Illinois 25,600 jobs.

Progressive economists slammed Gov. Pat Quinn at a Center for Tax and Budget Accountability policy summit Friday for not doing enough to increase the state tax base before issuing landmark proposed cuts to Medicaid, and also pensions.

One part of the governor’s plan that progressives support – a $1 a pack increase on the cigarette tax – is opposed by Illinois Republicans, at least according to Speaker of the House Mike Madigan (D-Chicago). Madigan said Wednesday that Republican opposition to the tax increase could thwart Quinn’s overall Medicaid plan.

Also, we reported Monday that Quinn’s proposal to reform Illinois’ public employee pension system was met with firm resistance by state unions, who represent the workers directly impacted by the governor’s proposal. An open question is whether Quinn’s proposal runs afoul of the state constitution: Unions say it is not constitutional.

PI looked Monday at a report recently released by the Warehouse Workers for Justice that sexual harassment and assault against women warehouse employees is widespread in Will County.

National News

Green jobs and the clean energy sector have gotten a bad rap due to Republican rhetoric in Washington, according to the Washington, D.C. based Center for American Progress.  We looked at a trip CAP took to Massachusetts – where presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney was governor for four years – a state that has produced 65,000 green jobs.

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement arrested 29 people in the Chicago area, during a three-day period that started April 9.

President Barack Obama is set to officially launch his re-election campaign next week in Columbus, Ohio and Richmond, Virginia with First Lady Michelle Obama.

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Friday that ostensibly solves the student loan rate issue, but uses cash from the national health care reform law to offset the cost, which makes it dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. President Barack Obama also firmly opposes the measure.


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