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City Club of Chicago

What's it like to be in charge of the state budget ... when there is no state budget? That's the topic for this edition of The Players: your look into who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to.

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

It occurs to me that one of the dearest benefits of living in a family is something so simple it’s easy to overlook: our families bear witness to our lives.

Family members are present to observe our lives up close and personal. 

Siblings see each other with greater knowledge than classmates do.  Classmates may suspect we’re sad when we didn’t make the team, but our siblings hear us crying into our pillow. While our coworkers may congratulate us on a promotion, our spouses see our real joy when we find success.

As they grow their reach in the state, ride-sharing companies are bringing transportation and jobs to underserved neighborhoods in some Illinois cities. 

instagram.com/96AcresProject

Mass incarceration, the war on drugs, mental illness, and racism within police departments: all these issues are alive and well in America. In Illinois - the Cook County Jail is the largest single jail site in the US - and houses apx. 9,000 people. Meanwhile, unlike many jails located in small towns and rural areas - this one is directly surrounded by a community of tens of thousands.

Illinois Issues/WUIS

On Tuesday, voters in Ohio considered whether to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana use. It would have created a new provision in the state's constitution that allowed only ten farms to grow the plant legally. That plan had its critics, and the measure failed. Many experts have their eye on Ohio - as it serves as an example of Midwestern residents trying to take on the legalization issue that has swept Colorado and the West Coast.

The Illinois Supreme Court has once again ruled in favor of tobacco giant Philip Morris. The decision, announced Wednesday, saves the company from a $10.1 billion judgment. 

The case has been before the court off and on for more than a decade. A group of smokers say Philip Morris tricked them into thinking “light” cigarettes were safer than regular. 

wired_gr on flickr.com

The Illinois State Board of Education is inviting the public to help set standards for school safety. Below is the board's press release. Note that an email address at the end provides a way to share your comment if you can't attend a hearing.

Illinois Report Card

The Springfield school district received good news late last week when graduation rates were announced through the Illinois Report Card. All three District 186 high schools saw their graduation rate jump by at least 7 percentage points in 2015, and Superintendent Jennifer Gill is pretty happy about that.

Jason Parrott/TSPR

The presidential campaign is coming to Springfield. 

Thomas Fitzgerald
Brian Mackey

Thomas Fitzgerald, a judge who had a leading role in the aftermath of some of Illinois’ most notorious political scandals, died on Sunday at his home in the Chicago suburbs.

Paul Sableman

Housing authorities spent on pricey dinners at training junkets and retirement bonuses for employees while public housing complexes in the state’s poorest county fell into serious disrepair.

The federal Department of Education has sent a letter to a Palatine high school inviting school officials to enter negotiations on arrangements where  a transgender female student can change clothes for PE and athletics. The DOE warned the Palatine school that the current arrangement violates Title IX. 

University of Illinois Chicago

City tries to figure out what's next after Fed's deny money for 10th street work.

Memorial Health System

An addition to the health care skyline in Springfield is Memorial Medical Center's new patient tower.

WILL

Mike Madigan is running for the Illinois General Assembly.

Urbana businessman and city council member Mike Madigan is running for the 52nd state senate district, he announced Monday in Champaign. Madigan is the owner of Hickory River restaurants in Urbana, Peoria, Springfield and Decatur and has served on the city council since May 2013. He's the only Republican in that heavily Democratic body.

While he may have the name in common with longtime Democratic House Speaker Madigan, this Madigan says the similarities pretty much end there.

IHPA

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency board of directors has dismissed the director and appointed its general counsel to hold the post on an interim basis. 

Brian Mackey / WUIS

Senior citizens are among those feeling the pain of Illinois' partial government shutdown. AARP and other groups are calling on the state’s top politicians to set aside their differences and pass a state budget.

The cost of the system, so far, is covered by a $9 million federal grant. The State Board of Education estimates the first-year cost of developing the program at about $1.1 million, followed by $2.5 million each of the next three years.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner has so far focused his attention on business and union issues, and restructuring state government - like workers' compensation, tort reform and legislative term limits. But what about his education agenda?

KenMayer/Flickr

DNA evidence remains a powerful tool to convict, but also to exonerate.

At East Alton-Wood River High School, as well in schools across the state, the measurement of academic improvement is based on a single test given over two days once a year. “It’s silly to measure a school’s performance by that,” says the Superintendent.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The makeup of Illinois schools is changing. If you moved every desk, from every Illinois school, into one giant classroom, more than half of the kids in those seats would be students of color.

That's on par with national figures; last year the U.S. Department of Education signaled that minorities would outnumber whites at the nation's public schools.

Good news on the state budget: It seems the governor will finally meet with all four legislative leaders to discuss their differences. Bad news on the state budget: Gov. Bruce Rauner says he doesn't expect much to come of it. And yet: "I wouldn't give up hope so soon," House Speaker Michael Madigan said of the governor's remarks.

Illinois Supreme Court Building
Illinois Supreme Court

Judicial races are getting increasingly politicized, according to a study published Thursday surveying 2013-2014 state Supreme Court races called "Bankrolling the Bench."

Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media

Erik Terstriep, perched in the captain’s chair of his combine, glides through eight rows of corn at a time.

Voices For Illinois Children, National Women's Law Center

Illinois fares poorly in a recent national report looking at access to child care assistance. In fact, the state ranks dead last after after cuts were made in July to drastically reduce maximum income levels for families to qualify. The report, by the Washington, D.C.-based National Women’s Policy Center, compared policies between the states as well as the District of Columbia.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Schools that serve a large number of low-income children qualify for federal grants, called Title 1. Many schools use that money to provide extra reading and math teachers, to help needy kids catch up with their more privileged peers. But the state of Illinois is increasingly tapping into those funds to pay down the Teachers Retirement System’s pension liability. 

The school system losing the most money in this scheme is Springfield’s District 186. So I asked Larry McVey, coordinator of Springfield’s Title 1 programs, to explain how this happened.

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

We parents love our children with equal commitment, but it may not look the same.

Every parent of siblings has been assailed by the “It’s not fair!” claim at least once. This complaint from an angry child may follow watching a sibling get more attention, more freedom, less punishment, or a pony.  This accusation represents an attempt to cause parents guilt based on the pretext that life should be fair and each child should receive exactly the same responses from parents.

Maybe in a parallel universe, but not in this world.

From The Scene: Happy Halloween, 2015

Oct 29, 2015
youtube.com

Halloween is this Saturday, and as such there is a plethora of events in the area to help you celebrate. The Scene is here to tell you about the stand-outs:

Image Credt: www.planetofsuccess.com/blog

The constitutional requirement for a balanced budget is not as strict as you might think.

Days after an Illinois high school student died from football injuries, a Cook County judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging the sports' governing body didn't do enough to protect athletes.

Bruce Rauner
WUIS

Did the voters know what they were getting?

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