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Amanda Vinicky

An Illinois judge has ruled that a law intended to fix the nation's worst-funded state employee pensions violates the state Constitution. Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Belz ruled Friday in favor of state employees and retirees who sued to block the state's landmark pension overhaul.

At issue was whether lawmakers defied the Illinois Constitution by passing a law that reduces state workers', public school teachers' and university employees' retirement benefits.

The University of Illinois system has hired State University of New York Vice Chancellor for Research Timothy L. Killeen as its next president.  

The university announced Wednesday that the 62-year-old Killeen will become president when current President Robert Easter retires in June.  

The 67-year-old Easter became president in 2012 during a period of turmoil.  
 Both of his predecessors, Michael Hogan and B. Joseph White, resigned under pressure. Easter is credited by many with overseeing a relatively calm period.  

Alan Light/Flickr

CHICAGO (AP) -  Jane Byrne, Chicago's first and only female mayor, has died at the age of 80. Byrne's daughter, Kathy, says her mother died Thursday at a hospice in Chicago. With Byrne's election in 1979, she became part of Chicago history. And she was part of the city's lore because of a big reason why she was elected: Voters blamed the sitting mayor, Michael Bilandic, for what they saw as the city's slow reaction to a blizzard.   

A bipartisan effort to name a veterans facility in Galesburg, Illinois, after the late Lane Evans is underway.  
 U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos introduced legislation Thursday in Congress to name the Galesburg Veterans Affairs clinic after Evans.  

The former congressman from Illinois died last week at age 63 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Evans had fought for veterans' rights during his 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

University of Illinois trustees have voted to give President
Robert Easter a raise and a $180,000 bonus as he works his last year before
The bonus and 3.5 percent pay raise were approved by trustees on Thursday at
their regular quarterly meeting in Chicago. The university says the bonus was
based on performance targets set by trustees in education, research and other
The raise will increase Easter's base pay from $462,375 a year to $478,558. His

Teachers in a central Illinois school district are picketing in an effort to gain parents' support as contract negotiations stall.  
 The State Journal-Register reports  teachers in Pleasant Plains held signs Wednesday that read ``Let's work together for kids'' and ``Make it better.'' The teachers have been working under an expired contract for nearly three months and negotiations over a new contract began in April. The district had 1,300 students and 88 teachers last year.  

flickr/Robert Kuykendall

Illinois State Police are fixing a leaky roof over an evidence room in a building near their downtown Springfield headquarters.  

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports ( ) that if the roof isn't fixed, evidence collected in criminal investigations may be damaged. The state police have signed off on a contract worth about $250,000 to fix the roof. Bidding documents state that it's ``an emergency purchase.''  


Governor-elect Bruce Rauner is naming a transition team of advisers that includes former White House chief of staff Bill Daley, a Democrat.  
It also includes former Gov. Jim Edgar, Republican Congressman Aaron Schock and former Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard, another Democrat.  

The Republican venture capitalist ousted Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in a close contest this week.  


The race for state treasurer remains too close to call days after Illinois voters went to the polls.
Both Republican Tom Cross and Democrat Mike Frerichs remain hopeful that uncounted absentee and provisional votes break their way.
Cross led Frerichs by 21,000 votes out of 3.4 million cast when The Associated Press stopped tabulating the vote count on Wednesday evening.
Cross spokesman Kevin Artl contends that Frerichs is not getting enough votes
still being tallied to make up the difference.

Former U.S. Rep. Lane Evans of Illinois, a former Marine who fought for veterans' rights during his 24 years in office, has died after a long fight with Parkinson's disease.  

His legal guardian and former congressional staffer Michael Malmstrom says Evans died Wednesday at a nursing home in East Moline, Illinois.  
The Democrat was 63.  

Illinois Supreme court

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier appears to have survived an attempt to unseat him by a group of attorneys and law firms. 

Karmeier finished less than 1 percentage point above the 60 percent he needed for retention with more than 99 percent of Tuesday's votes counted. Several counties still were counting absentee and provisional ballots.  

Karmeier campaign chief Ron Deedrick says in a statement that Karmeier believes he has won. He says the campaign is ``cautiously optimistic that the numbers may continue to edge up'' in Karmeier's favor.  

Gov. Pat Quinn is keeping a low profile after refusing to concede his re-election bid to Republican Bruce Rauner. 
Rauner has a nearly 5 percentage point lead over Quinn with 99 percent of precincts reporting. The Winnetka venture capitalist declared victory on election night.  
But Quinn says he wants to wait for every vote to be counted.  

The Chicago Democrat had no public appearances Wednesday. Quinn aides say they're watching election results.  
Quinn has waited to concede before.  


A man released from a west central Illinois prison after recanting a confession to a 1982 double murder says he's angry with those he alleges coerced his admission of guilt.  

A judge ordered Alstory Simon's release Thursday after Cook County prosecutors re-examined the case.  
Simon's initial confession led to the release in 1999 of another man who was on death row for the killings.  

Authorities say a Springfield woman had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit when involved in a crash that killed two.  

Andrea E. Little is charged with aggravated driving under the influence in connection with a crash that killed 16-year-old Pleasant Plains High School student Danielle Allen. Authorities say Little was eastbound on Illinois 125 late Saturday when her car veered and crashed into a car driven by Allen.  

Oberweis for US Senate

The Illinois candidates for U.S. Senate are set for their final televised debate ahead of next week's election. 

Chicago's WTTW-TV will host the Wednesday forum for Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican challenger state Sen. Jim Oberweis. WTTW officials say they'll also take questions from Twitter users during the 60-minute event.

Durbin is the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate and is seeking a fourth term. Oberweis is a dairy magnate from Sugar Grove who was elected to the state Senate in 2012. 


The University of Illinois says it is evaluating the condition of the new basketball court inside the State Farm Center after several inches of storm water backed up inside the arena.  

The university said on its athletics website that the water covered the floor about 3 a.m. Tuesday due to a blocked storm-drain line after a heavy rain.  

The school said that if the court can't be fixed the university will ``secure an alternate playing surface'' in time for the season that begins next week. It wasn't clear if that would mean buying a new surface.  

Amazon Inc. says it plans to open its first facility in Illinois next year in a move that would create 1,000 jobs.  

The announcement comes a week from election day as Governor Pat Quinn touts economic growth and his Republican opponent, Bruce Rauner, has criticized the slow growth of employment in Illinois.

The company made the announcement about the $75 million project on Tuesday. The jobs figure would be reached by 2017.  

A prosecutor-turned-private attorney has returned to the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago to take its No. 2 job.  

Joel Levin served for 28 years as a federal prosecutor in California, Wisconsin and Illinois. In Chicago, he helped prosecute former Illinois Gov. George Ryan for corruption. He entered private practice in 2008.  

Another Ryan prosecutor is Chicago's current U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon. Fardon announced the 60-year-old Levin's appointment as first assistant U.S. attorney Monday.  


Chicago's infectious disease network has mobilized for the first time, transferring two O'Hare International Airport travelers from Liberia to hospitals for monitoring.  

One, a child, is in isolation in stable condition Wednesday at University of Chicago Medical Center after getting sick en route to O'Hare Tuesday.  
Officials say there have been no confirmed Ebola cases in Chicago and there's no threat to the public.  


A federal judge has ordered a court-appointed monitor to investigate hiring at Gov. Pat Quinn's Department of Transportation.  

Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier told attorneys Wednesday that the monitor would help compliance of a decades-old political hiring ban.  

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by an anti-patronage attorney in April alleging improper hiring practices.  

Attorneys for Quinn's administration had said a separate monitor wasn't necessary and a state inspector general had completed a detailed probe and changes were made.  


Attorneys are returning to court in a federal lawsuit over hiring in Gov. Pat Quinn's Department of Transportation.
 Anti-patronage attorney Michael Shakman has asked for a court-appointed monitor
of hiring as part of a lawsuit filed in April. He's said it would ensure the
administration complies with bans on political hiring for nonpolitical jobs.
 Quinn's attorneys have argued a monitor isn't necessary. They've said Quinn's
response to allegations of political hiring in the Department of Transportation

Three Cub Scouts and their adult leader have been injured after an experiment caused a chemical explosion in Montgomery County.  

Raymond Mayor Dennis Held tells KSDK-TV the boys were having a meeting outside a church Monday evening when they conducted an annual experiment. The explosion occurred when they mixed boric acid and anti-freeze in a metal fire pit with the intention of making a green flame.  

Notes On The Final Governor Debate

Oct 21, 2014
wttw Chicago Tonight

The debate portion of the Illinois governor’s race is over. Monday night's debate may have given voters a little clarity.

Now - that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any mud-slinging or repetitive campaign refrains. There was a lot of that. But we did get some answers on issues that have popped up in all three debates. Like what Governor Pat Quinn would do when the 5 percent income tax rate ends in 2015.

QUINN: We need to maintain the income tax, at the same time give annual, direct, property tax relief - a 500 dollar refund - to every single homeowner in this state.

Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn headshots,

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner are getting ready for their third and likely final televised debate.  

Monday night's debate comes as the two candidates are locked in a neck-and-neck contest for governor.  
 It's being hosted by the League of Women Voters of Illinois and broadcast by WLS-TV in Chicago.  

Quinn and Rauner have gotten personal and at times nasty in other candidate forums as they duel over economic plans and dispute school funding plans.  

 The Illinois Department of Public Health has activated a hotline to answer the public's questions about Ebola.  

Department Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck announced the hotline Thursday. It will be managed by staff from the Illinois Poison Center who will be able to answer questions about the virus and the state's response.  
 The hotline will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Operators will answer questions about how Ebola is spread, who's at risk, when someone should go to a doctor and other topics.  

The hotline number is 800-889-3931.  


Landowners in southern Illinois' Wayne County are suing the state, saying its lengthy process before issuing permits for high-volume oil and gas extraction is costing them money.  

The lawsuit filed Wednesday on behalf of seven households names Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller.  

A state legislative panel is trying to sort out rules for how developers would deploy hydraulic fracturing, or ``fracking,'' under an Illinois law approved last year.  

More than 570,000 Illinois residents have registered to participate in an international earthquake drill on what Gov. Pat Quinn has proclaimed Great Shakeout Day.
 The Great Shakeout Earthquake Drill will take place around the world on
Thursday morning.
 The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is asking residents in homes, schools
and other places to take a minute to drop, cover and hold on. It is an action
they are advised to take during an actual earthquake.

The man who ran the school during Abraham Lincoln's time in New Salem is getting an honor in Kentucky.

A historical marker commemorating the life of an early 19th century educator who was a longtime friend of Abraham Lincoln will be unveiled next week in Greensburg, KY.  

The Kentucky Historical Society says the marker is in honor of William Mentor Graham, who was born in Green County and taught at Greensburg Academy before moving to Illinois. There he taught Lincoln arithmetic and grammar, and Lincoln lived with Graham for six months in 1833.  


Republican Bruce Rauner and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn will debate for a second time as they battle to become Illinois' next governor.

Quincy Public Library

Union members at a public library in western Illinois have voted to go on strike amid tough contract talks.
A business representative for the Machinist union, Ross Miller, says the 32 members at the Quincy Public Library voted Sunday night to reject contract terms
and to strike. There's a five-day waiting period before they can begin any strike.  
The Quincy Herald-Whig ( cites Library Board President Jeff VanCamp as saying he's ``disappointed'' by the union move. He says he
thought the contract offer was ``generous.''