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[28 Aug 2015 | No Comment | ]

Testing by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, the taxpayer-funded agency that handles Cook County’s sewage and stormwater, reveals high levels of bacteria from human waste at more than a dozen spots stretching through the North Side and downtown to the Bridgeport neighborhood.

Levels of disease-causing germs routinely exceed state standards for recreational waterways, the testing shows. Muck and debris flushed into the river during rainstorms leave it teeming with pathogens in staggeringly higher numbers, with levels frequently spiking tens of thousands of times above legal limits.
The water quality measurements — buried …

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[27 Aug 2015 | No Comment | ]

Former Chicago comptroller has been extradited from Pakistan to serve a 15-year prison sentence for a kickback scheme at the state treasurer’s office in Ohio, federal prosecutors say.
Forty-year-old Amer Ahmad, Ohio’s former deputy treasurer, was extradited Wednesday and a court hearing was set for Friday in the case, prosecutors said in a news release.

The Harvard-educated Ahmad, who worked for two Democratic treasurers in Ohio, then for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, pleaded guilty in 2013 to bribery and conspiracy charges before fleeing to Pakistan to avoid punishment.
He was arrested in Pakistan …

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[17 Jul 2015 | No Comment | ]

The daily fee to rent a Divvy bike will jump by more than 40 percent next week because of a deficit and escalating costs to run the expanding bicycle-sharing system, officials are set to announce Friday. The annual membership will remain at $75.

Starting Wednesday, the boost from $7 to $9.95 for a 24-hour pass is expected to generate an extra $400,000 during the remainder of 2015, or $800,000 on an annual basis, according to the city and Motivate. That Brooklyn-based company recently took over operation of the 2-year-old program for …

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[8 Jul 2015 | 2 Comments | ]

Political insider Antoin “Tony” Rezko was released from federal prison in downstate Pekin on Tuesday and
transferred to a halfway house in the Chicago area, authorities said.

Rezko was sentenced to 10 1/2 years for extorting millions of dollars from firms seeking state business or regulatory approval while he was a top fundraiser and adviser to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
He was furloughed Tuesday morning, according to Ed Ross, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Read more in the Chicago Tribune

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[3 Jul 2015 | No Comment | ]

(T)he government’s view of marriage as a legally binding contract already contradicts the Orthodox Christian understanding of marriage as a sacrament — blessing a union that already existed because it was created by God. And therein lies the problem, Reardon said.

“Government has no authority whatsoever to alter that,” Reardon said. “Whence a judge, magistrate or a justice of the peace does the ceremony, that’s just a legal act. As a priest I will no longer step in and serve in that function.”
Read more in the Chicago Tribune
image The Final Parting …

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[1 Jul 2015 | No Comment | ]

Remarkably, while workers face layoffs, state legislators won’t feel the pinch, thanks to a bill passed last year. It classifies legislator pay as a continuing appropriation — a budget item that state law mandates be funded even in the event of a government shutdown. The bill puts compensating part-time legislators on par with the state’s big-ticket items such as debt and pension payments and retiree health benefits.

Read more in the Chicago Tribune

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[25 May 2015 | No Comment | ]

A 2005 pension law was intended to rein in school districts’ big salary spikes that boost retiree benefits and pension costs statewide, imposing cash penalties on districts that gave raises higher than 6 percent to outgoing educators. However, the issuing of large raises hasn’t stopped. Since the law was passed, raises for about 7,600 educators triggered penalties for a total cost to taxpayers of more than $38 million.

Search for cash penalties at your school district

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[8 May 2015 | No Comment | ]

The Cook County Land Bank Authority has identified 13 city neighborhoods and 13 west and south suburbs where it will aggressively buy vacant, abandoned single-family homes and small multifamily buildings and hold them, waiting for a buyer.

Separately, the land bank, which has funding of $4.8 million, also is moving forward with two other initiatives. With funding from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, it has worked with community groups to identify abandoned properties that will be razed in Woodlawn, Englewood, Chicago Heights and Riverdale.
Read more in the Chicago Tribune

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[25 Apr 2015 | No Comment | ]

It’s not unusual for public agencies to place administrators on leave during criminal investigations. Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett took a paid leave last week after officials confirmed a federal investigation into a $20.5 million no-bid contract awarded to her former employer.

Federal authorities have subpoenaed the College of DuPage for video surveillance recordings that could show how administrators reacted to the launch of a sweeping criminal investigation at the embattled school, according to documents made public Friday.
The subpoena, served last week, seeks audio and video recordings from the college’s …

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[20 Mar 2015 | No Comment | ]

The president of Chicago State University tried to pressure a high-level administrator to file false claims of sexual harassment against an outspoken professor to help the college try to silence him, according to court documents filed Thursday as part of an ongoing lawsuit.

In a sworn statement, LaShondra Peebles, the college’s former interim vice president of enrollment and student affairs, said before she was fired that President Wayne Watson pushed her to accuse Phillip Beverly of sexual harassment, though Peebles said she was never harassed.
Read more in the Chicago Tribune