Pension crisis endangers Chicago's future
CHICAGO (AP) - Mayor Rahm Emanuel likes to talk about his city as a thriving center of commerce and a modern transportation hub.
But Chicago's image is threatened by a severe pension crisis.
Ballooning city pension payments could result in layoffs, higher property taxes and cuts in services.
Emmanuel wants the state legislature to raise the retirement age for city workers and cut cost-of-living increases for retirees. Morningstar Inc. says Chicago has the worst funded pension system of the 25 largest U.S. cities. The system is only 35 percent funded, compared to New York's 60 percent and San Francisco's 88 percent.
Lawmakers say they'll take up the issue next year. Labor unions are promising a fight.
Quinn: Ill. to build, renovate affordable housing
CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says Illinois will build or rehabilitate nearly 1,500 affordable housing units statewide.
The Chicago Democrat said in a statement yesterday the apartments will ensure working families, seniors and people with disabilities have quality, affordable housing.
The work will be financed through a federal housing tax credit and the Illinois Housing Development Authority's Preservation Now program.
Residents must earn at or below 60 percent of the area median income to qualify for the units. That's about $35,000 in the Chicago area.
In Aurora, the state plans to acquire and rehabilitate 40 vacant single-family homes. In Chicago, a 106-unit development for seniors will be built on the site of an abandoned building and unused tennis courts.
Units also are planned for the Bloomington-Normal area, Edwardsville, Galesburg, Marion and Springfield.
Madigan sues Chicago man she says misused grants
CHICAGO (AP) - Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a lawsuit against a Chicago businessman she says misused more than $8 million in state grants intended for at-risk children.
In a statement yesterday, Madigan says George E. Smith used the money for personal expenses, tickets to professional sporting events and cash payments to himself and others.
Smith was involved in a 2010 investigation by a state executive inspector general. It found Smith's fraud continued for years because of a lack of oversight by the Department of Children and Family Services.
Then-DCFS Director Erwin McEwen, described as a friend of Smith's, later resigned.
Madigan says Smith committed the fraud through his not-for-profit, Diversified Behavioral Comprehensive Care.
Smith could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court.
Ill. GOP leader Rich Williamson dies of hemorrhage
CHICAGO (AP) - CHICAGO (AP) - A family spokesman says former GOP U.S. Senate candidate Rich Williamson of Illinois died of complications from a cerebral hemorrhage.
Williamson died Sunday at age 64. Family friend and spokesman Alan Holmer was one of Williamson's Princeton classmates and is a former ambassador. Holmer gave Williamson's cause of death Monday.
Williamson was a Chicago attorney and long-time Illinois GOP leader. He lost a campaign against Carol Moseley Braun in 1992. She went on to become the first black woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
Williamson was chairman of the state Republican Party from 1999-2001 and has served as Republican National Committeeman for Illinois since 2010. He served in diplomatic roles with three presidents.
Illinois Republican Party Chair Jack Dorgan says Williamson loved his family, country and party.
Durbin pays tribute to late former Du Quoin mayor
DU QUOIN, Ill. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin has spoken on the Senate floor in Washington about the late former mayor of Du Quoin (DOO'-koyn).
Durbin's office says he paid tribute to John Rednour on yesterday. The 78-year-old died on Dec. 1 at a DuQuoin hospital. He was mayor of the 6,400-resident Perry County city for 24 years. He stepped down earlier this year because of health issues.
Durbin says Rednour "worked all his life to create opportunities and a sense of community for others."
Rednour was a county commissioner, chairman of the state's Democratic Party and a member of the Illinois State Police Merit Board.
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, two daughters and a son.
Spokeswoman: Rush to return to Congress this week
CHICAGO (AP) - U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush is set to return to Washington D.C. this week for the first time since he took leave to spend time with his wife as she recovers from surgery.
Rush spokeswoman Debra Johnson confirmed yesterday that the Chicago Democrat will return to Congress for one day. The day hasn't been confirmed.
Congress only has a handful of scheduled days left this year.
Rush's official leave began Sept. 12. His office hasn't disclosed the nature of his wife's surgery.
Rush represents Illinois' 1st Congressional District, which includes parts of Chicago's South Side.
He has undergone serious medical procedures himself which required him to be away from work. In 2008 he had surgery for a cancerous tumor in his salivary gland and underwent months of chemotherapy treatment.
TOWBOAT SINKS-MISSISSIPPI RIVER
Partially sunken towboat in Mississippi River raised, to be prepared for towing to repair shop
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The U.S. Coast Guard says a partially sunken towboat has been raised from the Mississippi River at LeClaire two weeks after it hit something in the river and took on water.
Coast Guard spokeswoman Jaclyn Young says shortly after noon cranes had the boat lifted so that it looked as if it was sitting normally in the water again.
Workers continued to pump out the remaining water, fuel and oil.
Once it's confirmed the boat has no other damage and it's ready to move, it will be towed to a repair facility in Illinois about 300 miles downriver.
A hole measuring about 12-by-30 inches along a seam on the bottom near the rear has been patched.
Most of the spilled diesel fuel and oil has been cleaned up.
Sentencing set for ex-suburban Chicago official
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Sentencing has been set for a former suburban Chicago police chief who pleaded guilty to fraud involving a $1.25 million state grant.
A federal judge on yesterday scheduled a March 24 sentencing hearing for Regina Evans.
Evans is the former chief of police in Country Club Hills. She pleaded guilty earlier this year to obstruction of justice, conspiracy and witness tampering.
Prosecutors say Evans and another unnamed person conspired to misuse the 2009 grant to pay the mortgage of a 1920s movie palace Evans and her husband owned. They say a not-for-profit Evans and her husband ran was supposed to use the grant for a job training program.
Evans faces up to 10 years in prison. The state also wants the money returned.
Burned human remains found in car in eastern Ill.
PEMBROKE, Ill. (AP) - Badly burned human remains have been found inside a car in eastern Illinois.
The vehicle was on fire when authorities discovered it Saturday night in a ditch near Pembroke, about 70 miles south of Chicago.
Kankakee County Coroner Bob Gessner says his office hasn't been able to identify the body. He says an autopsy conducted yesterday did determine the remains belong to a male.
A burned dog corpse also was found inside the car after Pembroke firefighters put out the fire.
The Illinois State Fire Marshal's office has been asked to investigate.
Illinois gives Ditka special license plates
CHICAGO (AP) - The state of Illinois is honoring Chicago Bears legend Mike Ditka with his own special license plates.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White presented Ditka with two specialty plates. Both are navy blue and orange and have the Bears logo. One says "Ditka" and the other has his number "89."
The Chicago Bears are to retire Ditka's number at last night's game against the Dallas Cowboys.
White says the license plates are a "fitting tribute" to Ditka.
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