June 20, 2014



Chicago Tribune: 13 questions for the Illinois State Board of Elections

The members of the Illinois State Board of Elections are awfully thin-skinned about seeing their names in boldfaced type on this page. Too bad. These political appointees are paid $37,571 a year ($58,441 for the chairman), plus expenses, to administer the state’s election laws. They answer to the taxpayers who pay their salaries. Or do they?

If several of the board members are trying instead to eliminate a threat to the Democratic power structure, they couldn’t do a much better job. Their clumsy judgments on the ballot eligibility of a constitutional amendment to curb gerrymandering suggest that they’re serving incumbent pols, not the people of Illinois.

If and when the election board’s decisions are appealed to courts of law, we hope judges will ask why the board has behaved as if it wants to disenfranchise the more than half-million Illinoisans who signed petitions.

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Fox Chicago: Term limit, political map lawsuit unfolds in court

The decision of whether two November ballot measures dealing with term limits and redistricting are constitutional is in the hands of a Cook County judge.

Oral arguments were Wednesday in a lawsuit attempting to keep both measures off the ballot.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Mikva says she’ll issue a written decision by noon on June 27.

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Daily Herald: Illinois among states with biggest jumps in unemployment claims

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits decreased 6,000 to 312,000 last week, evidence of a stronger job market because fewer workers are being let go.

Here are the states with the biggest increases in applications, according to the Labor Department. The data is for the week that ended June 7, one week behind the national figures. No state reported a decrease in applications of more than 1,000.

States with the biggest increases:

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Chicago Tribune: Emanuel’s minimum wage task force holds hearing

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s minimum wage task force will hold another hearing tonight to take the public’s pulse on the contentious issue of whether to hike the minimum amount workers can be paid in the city.

The working group of aldermen, labor and business representatives will hold a hearing from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Ave.

It’s the third of five hearings the group is scheduled to hold before reporting back to Emanuel on how it believes the city should proceed.

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Chicago Tribune: Tunney seeks restrictions on shop owners’ tobacco sales

Chicago tobacco sellers with past convictions for selling drug paraphernalia could lose their tobacco retailer licenses under a plan being pushed by a Lakeview alderman who hopes to thin out a dense collection of “head shops” he said are drawing the ire of neighboring businesses.

Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, said there are about 10 stores selling “tobacco accessories” in the vicinity of Belmont Avenue and Clark Street. Tunney defined those items as including rolling papers, rolling machines and pipes, items that are sometimes used for smoking marijuana in addition to tobacco.

Tunney has proposed an ordinance that would prohibit the city from issuing or renewing a license to sell tobacco to anyone who sells tobacco accessories who has a felony conviction in the past 5 years for selling drug paraphernalia. An earlier version of the ordinance would have barred anyone with a similar conviction dating back 10 years from holding a tobacco sales license.

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Crain’s: Working for less, or not working: Illinois job gains weak

llinois unemployment was down to 7.5 percent in May, but Cook County and Illinois in general continue to lag the nation in job growth and wages, according to a comprehensive census report.

Based on preliminary data, the state’s unemployment rate dropped from 7.9 percent in April, the third consecutive monthly decline and the lowest it’s been since November 2008, the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced today.

But a new census report also released today said that Cook County gained only 27,500 jobs, an increase of 1.1 percent, between December 2012 and December 2013, which was the smallest increase among the 10 largest counties.

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Chicago Business Journal: Why the Chicago Community Trust is worried about the Great Recession and population loss

The Chicago Community Trust hosted a big dinner for 11,500 people on May 12. It turns out there was plenty of food for thought — not all of it upbeat by any means — gleaned from “On the Table,” as the event was dubbed.

In an address to the City Club of Chicago yesterday, CCT President and CEO Terry Mazany gave his first report on what the Trust learned from last month’s dinner event.

Mazany led off with one of the most downbeat conclusions: Many Chicago residents still haven’t recovered from the Great Recession. Noted Mazany: “The loss of a middle class wage has been replaced by a minimum wage. Parents are working two or three jobs just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.”

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Daily Dispatch: Amid pension pinch, North Riverside considers privatizing fire department

The Village of North Riverside is considering privatizing its fire department, saying rising pension costs and a state requirement that municipalities fully fund pensions have forced it to make drastic changes. The village is publicizing the privatization proposal in advance of a June 26 hearing with the Illinois Department of Insurance, Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. said Wednesday. The department summoned the village to explain how the village plans to pay a $1.8 million public pension obligation by a 2016 deadline, Hermanek said. “The state’s not helping us; and not only are they not helping us but they’re filing a complaint against us,” he said.

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