GOP candidates for lieutenant governor debate
CHICAGO (AP) - The only televised debate for the four Republican lieutenant governor candidates is delving into candidate backgrounds and controversies surrounding them.
Thursday's debate is hosted by Chicago's WTTW-TV.
Northbrook attorney Steve Kim is running with Treasurer Dan Rutherford (ROOTH'-ur-furd). Kim says a former employee's allegations of political coercion and sexual harassment don't "pass the smell test."
State Rep. Jil Tracy of Quincy is state Sen. Kirk Dillard's choice. Tracy says they'll still be "independent minded" after Dillard has received union endorsements.
Wheaton City Councilwoman Evelyn Sanguinetti is running with businessman Bruce Rauner (ROW'-nur). She's defending a 2007 lawsuit against Wheaton for injuries after slipping on a sidewalk.
Former suburban mayor Maria Rodriguez is state Sen. Bill Brady's pick, however Rauner first asked her. Rodriguez says she chose someone with legislative experience.
Fifth pension lawsuit filed by U of I employees
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - A fifth lawsuit has been filed by state employees challenging Illinois' new pension law.
The lawsuit from current and former employees at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and Parkland Community College was filed in Champaign County Circuit Court Thursday.
It says the legislation passed by the General Assembly in December violates several provisions of the state constitution, which says retirement benefits should not be diminished or impaired and private property should not be "taken or damaged for public use."
The Illinois Supreme Court this week consolidated four other lawsuits challenging the legislation in Sangamon County Circuit Court.
Illinois' five public-retirement systems had a $100 billion unfunded liability when the Legislature passed the measure.
The bill saves an estimated $145 billion, largely by cutting benefits for employees and retirees.
GOP's Dillard getting help from labor-backed group
CHICAGO (AP) - A union-backed group is spending more than $700,000 to promote state Sen. Kirk Dillard in the Republican primary for Illinois governor.
Steve Shearer, a former chief of staff to GOP U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, founded the group known as the Republican Fund for Progress and Jobs.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://bit.ly/1gdj1nq ) the group has launched pro-Dillard television ads.
The group has received most of its money from unions. It also put out a 12-page mailer criticizing businessman Bruce Rauner (ROW'-nur).
Dillard, Rauner, state Sen. Bill Brady and Treasurer Dan Rutherford (ROOTH'-ur-furd) are seeking the GOP nomination on March 18.
Dillard, Brady and Rutherford have been trying to gain ground on Rauner, who's led in polls and fundraising.
Dillard recently launched his own TV ads, with financial help from unions.
Education Department looking into Swansea bullying
SWANSEA, Ill. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Division is investigating allegations of racially motivated bullying at a southern Illinois school.
Wolf Branch School District 113 Superintendent Scott Harres confirmed Premissa Acoff filed a discrimination complaint against the school district in the fall. Harres says the district received the complaint, responded to it and later answered questions asked by the Education Department.
Premissa Acoff and her husband, Dwayne Acoff, say their son, who is black, was the target of racial slurs, two physical altercations and cyber bullying by white classmates at Wolf Branch Middle School.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports Harres says as soon as the bullying was brought to the attention of officials, it was dealt with.
Premissa Acoff says bullies have stopped targeting her son for the most part.
Mayors say big cities are driving US resurgence
CHICAGO (AP) - Mayors of some of America's biggest cities say municipalities are driving the county's economic growth but have been abandoned by leaders in Washington, D.C.
Bill de Blasio of New York, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and Kasim Reed of Atlanta spoke Thursday at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics.
The four Democrats say their cities face challenges such as education, pension debt, outdated infrastructure and income inequality.
They say they know they're largely on their own to solve problems because federal funding has dried up. Emanuel says Washington is "totally AWOL" on issues concerning the cities.
But they say as mayors they're able to implement new ideas and quickly see results.
Reed says "Cities are where the action is."
INSANE CLOWN POSSE-FESTIVAL
Annual Insane Clown Posse festival will be in Ohio
DETROIT (AP) - An annual festival headlined by the rap-metal group Insane Clown Posse will be held in Ohio this year.
The Detroit-based duo was looking for a new venue for its Gathering of the Juggalos event after sites in Missouri and Illinois fell through.
Psychopathic Records is Insane Clown Posse's promoter and confirms the group will host its yearly festival at the Legend Valley Concert Venue in Thornville, Ohio, July 23-26.
Past Gathering of the Juggalos events have been marred by unruliness, drug use, fights and arrests.
On its website, the group calls the festival "four days of uninhibited enjoyment" and "the greatest show and family reunion of earth."
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.