The week that was in Illinois politics and government (June 11-15).
Chicago and Cook County News
The Chicago Teachers Union announced Monday that, by a wide margin, its members are prepared to strike if the union and Chicago Public Schools management cannot agree on a contract before the 2012-13 school year begins. The strike vote should be understood as a tactical step in a complex negotiation – it does not mean a strike is imminent.
Regardless, the public divide between CPS and CTU is the worst it has been since perhaps 1987 – the last time teachers went on strike. We looked at the fact that teachers were on strike several times in the 1980’s before 25 years of relative labor peace.
We also reported on the group Education Reform Now, which stepped into the collective bargaining fray last week with “robo calls” claiming CTU was premature in its strike vote.
The Chicago Public Schools will significantly cut the amount it provides for Safe Haven, a summer program where churches work with CPS children on conflict resolution and anger management, as well as more scholastic programs like reading.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Gov. Pat Quinn Monday to sign a state bill into law allowing Cook County prosecutors to file racketeering charges against gang members.
Emanuel announced Friday support of a city ordinance to make possession of less than ten grams of marijuana punishable by a ticket instead of arrest. The idea is that more police resources can be redistributed to fight violent cirme.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Police Department partly blames the breakdown of well-organized gangs for the increase in violence this calendar year. Gang leaders were sent to prison, and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says a "fracturing" of gangs has lead to conflicts over issues such as territorial disputes.
State prosecutors indicted three NATO protesters Wednesday (and two more protesters Thursday), invoking a never before used state terrorism statute passed after 9/11. But the prosecutors told Cook County Judge Adam D. Bourgeois Jr. that they were not ready to show the indictments, which the judge said he found "strange."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday his picks for the five-member board of the Infrastructure Trust, a plan to use private money to finance public projects that passed the City Council in April. But the mayor has still not identified Trust projects, except a plan where private investors would use $225 million to make some city buildings more energy efficient.
PI reported that members of the faith-based power network IIRON signed a covenant on Sunday for economic justice. They called on Attorney General Lisa Madigan and other elected officials to sign it in order to create opportunities for all such as publicly-funded and administered health care.
Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez declared Thursday that she will not defend a state ban on same-sex marriage after Lambda Legal and ACLU Illinois sued to overturn the ban. Defending the Illinois law will now likely be left up to the Thomas Moore Society, a Chicago-based law firm that supports conservative social values.
Despite almost two years of planning, the Crete Village Board unanimously voted Monday night not to go forward with a planned federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in their village boundaries. However, ICE will likely approach another small town near Chicago with the promise that a detention center could be an economic boon.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed Thursday a package of bills to achieve his desired $2.7 billion in Medicaid savings, including a bill that cuts $1.6 billion from Medicaid -- the federal-state health care program for the poor, elderly, and disabled -- and a measure to raise the cigarette tax by $1 a pack.
Quinn has not signed any of the other state budget bills. This includes a measure that calls for cuts in aid to local school districts and early childhood education. Quinn indicated his opposition to the bill, but it is unclear if the governor can work out a compromise with the Illinois General Assembly that replenishes some of this money.
The new budget also includes layoffs of child protection workers in the Department of Children and Family Services.
Illinois foreclosure filings shot up 29 percent in May compared to the previous month and are 54 percent higher than May 2011, according to data provided Thursday by Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac.
Caterpillar started to look this week for replacement workers at its Joliet plant, where 780 employees represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers went on strike May 1.
The Obama administration announced Friday that it would put a stop to the deportation of up to 800,000 immigrants, whose parents entered the country without documentation.
The wealth of the median American family tumbled from $126,400 in 2007, when the housing bubble burst, to $77,300 in 2010, when the economy officially got out of recession, according to a Federal Reserve report released Monday.
We looked Wednesday at how a single member of Congress – Virginia House Republican Frank Wolf – has kept the Justice Department from turning the unused Thomson Correctional Center into a federal prison. Wolf fears that the prison will be used to hold detainees currently at Guantanamo Bay, but U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said under oath Wednesday that this would not be the case.
The Human Rights Campaign endorsed 10th congressional district Democratic candidate Brad Schneider Wednesday morning. The endorsement coincides with Schneider launching an online petition that calls on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to give LGBT employees protection from discrimination.
PI reported Tuesday on what impact the Latino vote might have on the November election. The percentage of registered Latino voters is low compared to whites or blacks. But a steady increase in the Latino populationsmeans that the group should have a bigger impact than in the 2008 election.