Imagine a caffeinated concoction that, when ingested, resulted in bouts of vomiting. You might prefer to stick with your gourmet coffee.
But the "Black Drink" as it is known was part of a ritual. The vomiting was done for purity. It turns out, early societies imbibed. Even the Cahokia civilization about 1000 years ago. That's roughly 500 years earlier than records of consumption elsewhere. Research has found residue in ceremonial cups that confirm the Black Drink was used at Cahokia.
While Illinois lawmakers continue to debate whether to extend the income tax increase. But that's not the only source of money being considered. Backers of expanding gambling also project the state would get a windfall.
State Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) is once again taking a stab at gambling expansion.
He's got two options: Either authorizing a casino for Chicago, or a broader plan that would put casinos in Chicago, Danville, Rockford, Lake County and the south suburbs. Horse race tracks would also be permitted to have slot machines.
Dee Dee Duffy has been teaching in District 186 for 25 years. Monday she was honored as the 2014 Horace Mann Educator of the Year. Duffy is an Early Start Pre-Kindergarten teacher at the Early Learning Center.
Also, Nichole Heyen, principal of Lincoln Magnet Middle School, was named Administrator of the Year. She's been in District 186 for 14 years.
Both were honored at a luncheon ceremony.
The program has been in existence since 1998. An independent panel makes the selections.
Dozens of state jobs involved in a dispute over whether they should be free of politics were filled by Gov. Pat Quinn's administration with candidates who were politically connected or gave campaign money to the governor's party. That's according to an Associated Press review of state documents.
A Springfield culinary landmark has re-opened it's doors. The Dew Chilli parlor was established in 1909, but it closed about 20 years ago. Mark Roberts is the new owner and a longtime fan. Lee Strubinger went to the parlor's recent grand opening and he presents this audio postcard:
Earlier this month, the Springfield Police Department promoted two sergeants to the rank of lieutenant. One has already retired, able to earn a higher pension because of the promotion.
Under state law, retiring police officers are allowed to collect pension benefits based on rank for their last day of employment.
Springfield Alderman Joe McMenamin says a lieutenant retiring at a rank he never served is quote 'offensive.' He says the public doesn't appreciate a "revolving door of promotions right before retirement.”
Getting attention is a plan to change school funding that would shift a larger share of the state funding to poorer school districts. And scrutiny of Governor Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative continues.
Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner has been able to self-fund much of his campaign. That's thanks to the fortune he made as a partner in a private equity firm. But some of his investments continue to haunt him politically.
Lawsuits attribute deaths at nursing homes to Rauner's former investment company, GTCR.
They allege that cost-cutting at one of the company's subsidiaries led to patient neglect.
Springfield District 186 is endorsing a change in state funding that would benefit the district. Area Senator Andy Manar, a Democrat, is pushing the idea to re-work how the state doles out money to schools. Manar says it would provide more equity between wealthy and poor districts.
Springfield public schools would receive nearly 6 percent more under the change. A statement from District 186 says an increase in funding would allow teaching positions to be restored and technology upgrades. It also says it could help avoid future budget cuts.
The board of the State Universities Retirement System has voted to accept an interpretation of last year's Illinois pension reform law that says it won't inadvertently cut university retirees' pension.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, (http://bit.ly/RvIgwf) the board's executive committee voted unanimously on Thursday in Chicago to follow other state pension systems and accept the interpretation of the 2013 law.
Macon County's fair will not be held this year. It's the first break in almost 160 years and organizers say finances are the cause.
Fair Board Treasurer Teresa Wilson said Wednesday during an Illinois Department of Agriculture hearing that the fair will not be held this year. Instead the board plans a smaller-scale Macon County Fairgrounds Festival to try to generate revenue. The hearing was held to determine if the fair can be reimbursed by the state for prizes.
Back in 1999, then Governor George Ryan led a delegation to the island nation of Cuba. Since that time, a number of Illinois Agriculture groups have been working to ease trade restrictions to the small nation. The Illinois Cuba Working Group recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama hoping to expand trade opportunities between the nations.
Downstate schools would be the primary winners under a proposed school funding overhaul before the General Assembly. A report from Illinois' board of education could lead to a regional divide when it comes up for a vote.
Illinois' public school system relies heavily on property taxes, often meaning the quality of a student's education will depend on his or her zip code.
But a proposal in the General Assembly would completely change the state's complicated funding formula.
A report says Illinois officials can look forward to more than a billion dollars in tax collections they hadn't been expecting this year. A group of lawmakers already has a plan for the money.
Thousands of state workers are owed an estimated 112 million dollars in back wages. Governor Pat Quinn negotiated raises with members of AFSCME back before the 2010 elections, but lawmakers never came through with the money to pay them.
Now some Republicans say this year's unexpected tax windfall ought to be used to finally make good on the contract.
The two men dueling to be Illinois' next governor tried Thursday to win over business leaders with their plans for the state's finances. They both made appearances before a joint meeting of Illinois' retailers and manufacturers in Springfield.
Quinn got a standing ovation as he took the stage, but the response after that was lukewarm.
Just before Quinn's speech, several business owners had been at the podium, complaining about Illinois' high unemployment rate, regulations and taxes.
The State Universities Retirement System now says a troublesome piece of last year's state pension-reform law may not cut retirees' pensions after all.
William Mabe is the executive director of the retirement system. He tells The (Champaign) News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/QfeCu8 ) that the language in law that would cost retirees' a year of pension should be interpreted as if it didn't _ because it wasn't intended to. That's based on the interpretation the Teachers Retirement System has been using when it looks at the law. Now SURS plans to follow suit.
Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) listens as Adam Frederick testifies on behalf of his daughter, Michaela (pictured in Frederick's hand), who uses cannabis oil to control her seizures. Lang was the original architect of the medical marijuana law passed last spring.
A group of lawmakers granted themselves subpoena power Tuesday, to further an investigation into an anti-violence program favored by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. Brian Mackey looks at whether it's necessary — or just for show.
The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative was rushed out in fall 2010, as Quinn was up for election.
Advocates for nursing homes say if Illinois does not keep income tax rates where they are, thousands of seniors could lose access to care. But it's not yet clear whether the General Assembly will make the tax hike permanent.
Lawmakers have a little less than a month to pass a budget for the next fiscal year -- a budget that nursing homes rely on to subsidize their operations.
Advocates say if the state's income tax is allowed to roll back as scheduled at the end of the year, nursing homes are projected to take a 14 percent funding cut.