The week that was in news and politics (November 26 - December 2).
City and Cook County News
The week started out with Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett proposing a five-year moratorium on school closings starting next school year. The caveat? That state legislators approve a request to push back the announcement of the schools the district plans to close at the end of this academic year. The district, which should — by law — announce impending school closures by December 1, would like to push back the announcement to March 31, but needs the state legislature to approve the delay.
The impending loss next month of 300 custodial jobs at O’Hare International Airport has raised concerns over the future relationship between city leaders and organized labor. At a meeting held Thanksgiving week at the headquarters of SEIU* Local 1, the Local's President Tom Balanoff sat alongside seven janitors as they spoke about the impact the loss of their jobs would have on themselves and their families.
Meanwhile, labor rights advocates are hopeful the findings of a new report will help shed some light on what they describe as the unfair treatment many domestic workers experience on the job.
Former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is pointing to an accounting error as the reason for the disappearance of $500,000 from his campaign fund. Stroger, who at first noted interest in running for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s vacated U.S. House seat, has since changed his mind and is no longer interested in the job.
Chicago home prices fell in September .6 percent compared to August, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. Home prices were down in Chicago 1.5 percent compared to the same time last year.
Longtime environmentalist and climate change educator Bill McKibben’s sustainable tour bus rolled into Chicago Wednesday night as part of a global movement to take down the fossil fuel industry. Progress Illinois was there for the festivities and offered a rundown on the tour's main talking points and messaging for Illinoisans, particularly the state's college students and young adults.
Just before the holidays, 54 janitors who worked for the Chicago Public Library received pink slips Friday. The workers, who expected to work through mid-December, will not be returning to work, but will be paid through December 14. O'Hare janitors worried about the future of their jobs made a trip to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's house Thursday afternoon to protest a new city contract. The workers rallied outside of the mayor's home on his 53rd birthday to protest the deal that will cause some 300 workers to lose their jobs next month, just days before the holidays.
Illinois has racked up $96 billion in unfunded pension obligations, and that’s left some young people wondering what the state’s biggest political issue of 2012 means for their future. On Monday, we took a look at the distrust — and apathy — surrounding public sector jobs and Illinois' pension problems among the state's young workers.
State Sen. Martin Sandoval's (D-Cicero) company, Puentes, Inc., is receiving monthly payments from two towns he represents in the Illinois General Assembly for media consultation services. Specifically, Sandoval's company is being paid to translate press releases into Spanish and similar services for the towns of Cicero and Melrose Park.
State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) says he will try and push for the passage of medical marijuana legislation in the state House during the Illinois General Assembly's veto session. Lang says he is close to having the 60 votes needed to pass a bill in the House.
The Illinois House and Senate both passed their own bills that would allow the Chicago Public Schools to push back their announcement of schools on their closure list from December 1 to March 31.
Gov. Pat Quinn says he will continue to push for a ban on assault weapons despite the Illinois Senate's failure to pass legislation on the issue on Tuesday.
The same day, the Illinois House Revenue Committee passed a resolution that claims the state is too cash poor to pay for the raises of unionized state employees this budgetary year, which ends in June of 2013. The resolution is headed for a full House vote and must also pass the Illinois Senate to actually have an impact. AFSCME, which represents some 40,000 state employees, says the resolution will hurt labor relations in the state.
On Wednesday, the Illinois Senate voted to restore $56 million in funds for the running of Tamm's Supermax Prison, Dwight women's prison, two youth facilities and three halfway houses.
Democratic State Sen. Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge introduced legislation that would require elected officials to disclose more information on their financial interests as a first step towards ethics reform in the state.
An Illinois Senate panel approved a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to get a drivers' license. Some 250,000 people would be eligible to get a drivers' license under the law, if the legislation passes the General Assembly.
Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) retained her seat as the head of the Illinois Senate's Republican party for another two years. Radogno's Republican cohorts voted for her to keep the job Wednesday night in a closed door meeting.
On Thursday, Chicago West Side State Rep. LaShawn Ford was indicted on bank fraud charges. State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) is appealing to his fellow House members, asking them allow him to keep his seat and stay neutral on the issue surrounding his federal indictment on bank fraud charges. The Chicago West Side legislator, who also represents some of the western suburbs, filed a resolution in the state House Friday asking its members to delay judgement on the charges.
The findings of a new poll offer some not-so-good news for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. Public Policy Polling found that Quinn is the most unpopular governor in the nation, with an approval rating of a mere 25 percent.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined nine other state attorneys general in opposing a gun permit law being considered by the U.S. Senate. The attorneys general sent a joint letter to Senate leaders Friday encouraging them not to move forward with the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, which would allow licensed gun owners to bring concealed guns over state lines.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Illinois prosecutors seeking to enforce a law that banned people from filming police while they are at work. The law, which the justices agreed went against citizens' rights to free speech, carried a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
Gov. Pat Quinn has set a special election date for former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s 2nd congressional district seat. The special primary election date will be February 26, 2013, which coincides with other local elections. On Monday, former congresswoman Debbie Halvorson has threw her hat in the ring to run for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s now empty 2nd congressional district seat. Halvorson ran against Jackson in the March primary, garnering 24 percent of the vote to his 58 percent.
Former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds also says he wants to run for his old 2nd congressional district seat, which has been vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr. Reynolds held the seat from 1993 to 1995 until he was forced out due to sex crimes, including sex with a minor who worked as a campaign volunteer. And after much speculation, State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) announced her plans to run for former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s House seat on Thursday.
Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the fiscal cliff can be avoided if lawmakers make the right choices and outlined a progressive plan for them to do just that. The Senate's number 2 Democrat says taxes are the first issue that needs to be addressed followed by reforming entitlements; the latter of which Republicans are adamant about tying to any deal that addresses the fiscal cliff.
The movement to ensure that people with disabilities are treated fairly throughout the world moved forward a bit this week via a Senate vote. On Tuesday, the chamber voted to move the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to the floor for a debate by a 61-36 vote. But there are some indications that the treaty will not get the two-thirds majority vote it needs for ratification.
As the debate on the fiscal cliff rages on, the Obama administration took to its tech tool box and found yet another way to use social media as a means to make an impact in Washington. On Wednesday, the Obama administration asked American Twitter users to use the hashtag #My2k to post messages about how a tax increase of $2,000 would impact their daily lives.
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that BP will be banned from entering into new contracts with the federal government as a result of 2010's Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Applications for unemployment assistance have fallen for the second consecutive week, according to the Labor Department.
Hostess Brands got the nod from a bankruptcy judge on Thursday to wind down the company's operations and sell off the brand, all while paying 19 top executives some $1.8 million in bonuses. Meanwhile, some 18,000 workers, including 1,400 in Illinois, are set to lose their jobs.