Brian Mackey

Illinois Lawmakers Say Stakes Are High To Pass Budget In Special Session; Note Lack Of Activity

The Illinois Legislature wrapped up its third day of a special session. Gov. Bruce Rauner called the meeting to force a budget deal before July 1, when the state crosses into its second year without a full spending plan. A northwest Illinois state senator said the special session so far has been an exercise in frustration. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, likened the session to a classic sitcom. “[It] reminds me a little bit of the original Seinfeld show," he said, “where it was a show about nothing....

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Governor Names New DCFS Director

Jun 23, 2017
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Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed Beverly (BJ) Walker as Director of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

   

Walker has leadership and management experience from more than 30 years in human services and education.

She previously worked for the State of Illinois as Director of Community Operations for the Department of Human Services. Walker also served as Assistant to the Governor for Human Services Reform under Gov. Jim Edgar.

Across Illinois - social service providers are having to make cuts. The head of one shelter says without a state budget, its future is bleak.

Wikipedia

Judges will be encouraged to prescribe longer sentences for repeat gun offenders under a plan signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

  

The idea is to help curb street violence in Chicago. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson attended the bill signing Friday at the Capitol with the Republican governor.  

The law also introduces a diversion program for non-violent first-time offenders and creates a State Police-led violent crime intelligence task force.

"Phone" by Flickr User Jacqui Brown / (CC X 2.0)

Gov. Bruce Rauner has threatened to reject a plan extending the funding mechanism for the state's 911 call centers, saying proposed fee increases are too high and the plan is loaded with other things.

The Republican's administration issued a Thursday memo, saying he seeks a "clean" extension bill by next week's end. That's when the plan sunsets. An extension is needed for 911 services to continue to get funding.

Janesville School Board member Cathy Myers has become the third Democrat running to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan in 2018.

Myers announced her campaign Thursday. The single mother of two teaches English at Hononegah High School in Rockton, Illinois.

She says House Speaker Ryan seems to have forgotten his small-town roots. She says she decided to run after seeing Ryan and President Donald Trump celebrating passage of the House GOP health care overhaul bill.

Updated 12:30 p.m. ET

President Trump kept one of his campaign promises, signing a bill Friday to make it easier for the secretary of veterans affairs to fire and discipline employees. It came in response to the 2014 VA scandal in which employees covered up long wait times while collecting bonuses.

The bill, which passed earlier this month with strong bipartisan support, also gives the secretary authority to revoke bonuses and protects whistleblowers who report wrongdoing.

Mark Bowler, University of California, Irvine

Rabid bats are more active this time of year and have now found their way across the entire northern Illinois area.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says more than a dozen cases of rabid bats were reported in this year alone. With hibernation season over, state veterinarian Connie Austin says the creatures are being found more often in people's homes. 

A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling that the confession of Brendan Dassey, whose case was part of the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, was involuntary. Dassey was found guilty of helping his uncle kill a young woman in 2005, and has been held in a Wisconsin prison.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Thursday was the second of ten scheduled special sessions for the Illinois Legislature called by the governor to address the lack of a budget.

At least one northern Illinois lawmaker believes that the ball is not in his court, for the moment. State Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Rockford, says that -- as far as he and his colleagues are concerned -- they’ve done their job, and people wanting action on the budget should look to the House and the governor.

Illinois Secretary Of State Rethinks Stepping Down

Jun 22, 2017

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White seems to be having second thoughts about stepping down from office.

White announced two years ago that he would not run again.

The 82-year-old White sent a surrogate Thursday to address a room full of Cook County Democratic Party officials.

Chicago Alderman Walter Burnett read a letter from White.

“There have been calls, emails, resolutions urging him to run,” he said. “He asked me to tell you today that he has heard the calls and is taking those requests very seriously, although he has not yet finalized a decision.”

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News From NPR

Balloons, body paint, joy and mourning — across the world Sunday, Muslims gathered to celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan, and the festivities took nearly as many shapes as the places they were held.

An eight-hour cease-fire declared by the Philippine military ended abruptly on Sunday. As soon as the "humanitarian pause" reached its designated end, though, Marawi descended back into the gunfire that has pervaded the southern city for more than a month.

Will arming teachers make schools safer? While that debate continues across the country, this week more than a dozen school employees from around Colorado spent three days learning advanced gun skills at a shooting range outside of Denver.

With 2,500 inmates, the penitentiary institution of Fresnes, about 20 miles south of Paris, is one of the largest prisons in Europe. Like most French prisons, Fresnes is overcrowded. Built in the late 19th century, its tiny cells, each meant for one prisoner, most often house three.

Inmates scream curses and catcalls from their barred windows as I visit a small, empty sports yard ensconced between cell blocks. Plastic bags and punctured soccer balls are caught in the surrounding concertina wire.

Ernest Littlebird put his grill out on the side of Route 39 in Lame Deer, Mont., under the shade of a tree and started grilling hamburgers.

"Come get a dollar burger," he says. "Good meal, you know, something to put in the belly at least."

Littlebird is an entrepreneur. This is his second year selling dollar hamburgers out of his minivan when he couldn't find other work. Jobs are scarce here on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and so is money.

But Littlebird thinks they don't have to be.

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