In the News – Dec. 5

Murphysboro Teachers Discuss Contract Issues  Murphysboro educators are working through an ongoing contract dispute. On Thursday, the school district and teachers’ union sat down to try and reach a new contract. A spokesperson for the Murphysboro Education Association has hinted of a potential strike if no deal is reached.  “We were sitting in government class and there were rumors circulating around school that …


Teachers almost 1 year without contract – Almost a year of negotiations and teachers still don’t have a new contract. It’s unsettling for some. Now, there are talks of a possible strike. WCIA-3’s Anthony Antoine finds out if there’s an end in sight. Talks between the school board and teachers’ union started in February. The contract expired in July. Now it’s December with no new deal. I’ve been through four or five contract…


Illinois education funding needs a change. Is SB 16 the way to do it? (Huffpost Chicago © 12/04/2014)

Nobody is happy with the way Illinois now distributes some $6.8 billion to local school districts throughout the state. The current formula relies heavily on property taxes, leaving school districts in impoverished communities severely underfunded. Schools in affluent areas have strong budgets because residents pay high property taxes. In theory, state funding is supposed to be the great equalize…


Man once convicted of felony removed from school board — twice (Chicago Sun Times © 12/05/2014)

Roughly a year ago, a Cook County judge booted Kenneth Williams off the Thornton Township High School District 205 school board, ruling a felony conviction made him ineligible to hold the office. On Wednesday, a different Cook County judge got to do it all over again. Judge Thomas Allen issued an order removing Williams from office, less than a month after he was appointed to fill a vacancy


CPS Board to Vote on Budget (WTTW Chicago © 12/05/2014)

The Chicago Public School board voted unanimously to pass the coming year’s nearly $6 billion school budget. This despite cries from many observers that it relies on a dangerous gimmick to help close a nearly $1 billion budget gap. The budget passed by a 6-0 vote. Board member Deborah Quazzo was not present. The fiscal year 2015 budget is $5.7 billion, a $164 million increase 


Political News


Income tax cut will cost $2 billion in first six months (Champaign WCIA (CBS) 3 © 12/05/2014)

ILLINOIS Governor-elect Bruce Rauners (R-Illinois) first wish is coming true with the temporary income tax increase expiring on December 31. The state personal income tax will drop from 5 percent to 3.75 percent creating a hole in the current fiscal years budget. State senator Sue Rezin (R-Peru) said its time for the temporary increase to end. Allowing the income tax to roll off simply puts mo…


My View: Pension ruling puts state’s future at risk (Rockford Register Star © 12/04/2014)

A Sangamon County judge just snapped the first buckle on the states straight jacket last week. Despite this, expect Illinois leaders to struggle to deal with the states crushing pension debt. Circuit Judge John Belz ruled that a plan championed by House Speaker Mike Madigan and Gov. Pat Quinn was unconstitutional. The measure will almost certainly be next considered by the state supreme…


Options For Pension Reform Plan B May Be Limited (WUIS 91.9 PBR (Springfield) © 12/04/2014)

This story first appeared on the Illinois Issues Blog in July 2014. After years of trying to find a solution to the tackle the state’s $100 billion unfunded pension liability, lawmakers approved pension changes in December of last year. Illinois was SAVED! Crank up the tunes, call up the bond rating agencies, put Squeezy the Pension Python…


Rauner’s D.C. debut : Not for congressional term limits (Chicago Sun Times © 12/05/2014)

As the governor-elect of Illinois, a day ahead of a meeting with President Barack Obama with whom, he said, he shares some personal friends: Democrats Marty Nesbitt, Arne Duncan and Penny Pritzker. In an unusual coincidence, Mayor Rahm Emanuel also was in town on the second day of a swing where he hit the White …


Lawmakers give utilities rate-boost help (Decatur Herald and Review © 12/05/2014)

The state’s two main electric suppliers won a key victory Thursday in a bid to upgrade the state’s power grid. But, their success may be short lived. On a 40-4 vote, the Illinois Senate approved changes to a law permitting Ameren Illinois and ComEd to raise power rates through a special formula, rather than through the normal, lengthy process before state regulators.


Barickman says Rauner has tough issues ahead (WJBC AM 1230 Bloomington © 12/05/2014)

Democrats are in a hurry to see how Governor elect Bruce Rauner will handle the state’s budget woes. So says Illinois State Senator Jason Barickman. Rauner has said the Illinois budget crisis is worse than he thought and will need to start working on a solution.


Rauner Meets with Illinois Delegation in Washington (WJOL-1340 Joliet © 12/05/2014)

Governor-elect Bruce Rauner met members of the Illinois Congressional delegation on Thursday in the nation’s capital. Rauner also met Senator Dick Durbin yesterday. He plans to attend a meeting at the White House for new governors today. President Obama is expected to be there for part of that event.


Quinn left with few options on minimum wage (Arlington Heights Daily Herald © 12/04/2014)

A final piece of outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn’s legacy is up in the air as lawmakers leave Springfield without sending him legislation increasing Illinois’ minimum wage. Quinn championed the issue during his tough re-election bid. But there are few options to tackle it before Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner takes office.


Ameren’s latest smart grid plan in jeopardy (Bloomington Pantagraph © 12/04/2014)

The state’s two main electric suppliers won a key victory Thursday in a bid to upgrade the state’s power grid. But, their success may be short-lived. On a 40-4 vote, the Illinois Senate approved changes to a law permitting Ameren Illinois and ComEd to raise power rates through a special formula, rather than through the normal, lengthy process before state regulators.


Springfield Veto Session Ends As It Often Does—With Nothing Accomplished (Chicago Chicagoist © 12/04/2014)

The Illinois Legislature’s veto session ended Wednesday with little to show for it and the stage set for some looming showdowns between House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner once Rauner is sworn into office next month. The General Assembly failed to pass legislation boosting the minimum wage to $10 or $11 an hour nor did they extend the 2011 state income tax hike


Attorney general asks Supreme Court to hurry on pension case (Chicago Daily Herald © 12/04/2014)

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office asked the state Supreme Court Thursday to fast-track a decision on whether a new law to cut teacher and state worker pension benefits is constitutional. A lower court ruled the law should be tossed because the Illinois Constitution says pension benefits can’t be “diminished or impaired.” Madigan asked the high court to hurry …


Quinn left with few tough options on minimum wage (Chicago WFLD (Fox) 32 © 12/04/2014)

A final piece of outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn legacy is up in the air as lawmakers leave Springfield without sending him legislation increasing Illinois minimum wage. Quinn championed the issue during his tough re-election bid. But there are few options to tackle it before Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner takes office. Quinn can call a special


Veto session grinds to close; Senate could return in early January (Springfield State Journal Register © 12/04/2014)

The General Assembly’s 2014 veto session ground to a close Thursday with the Illinois Senate approving bills allowing bobcat hunting in the state, giving downstate utilities rate increases and overriding a veto of a bill dealing with voluminous open-records requests. Senators left open the possibility of returning to Springfield on Jan. 13, a day before a new edition of the General Assembly is…


Ill. lawmakers approve eavesdropping legislation (WICS ABC 20 (Springfield) © 12/04/2014)

Illinois lawmakers have approved eavesdropping restrictions to replace those the state Supreme Court declared unconstitutional last spring. The Senate voted 46-4 Thursday to prohibit recording private conversations without the consent of everyone involved. It goes to Gov. Pat Quinn. A spokesman says Quinn has not made a decision on whether to sign it. …


Senate Republican committee members named (WREX (NBC) 13 Rockford © 12/04/2014)

Republican Sen. Alberta Darling, of River Hills, will return as co-chair of the Legislature’s powerful budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald announced that and other committee appointments Thursday. Sen. Luther Olsen will remain as chairman of …



National News


4 things Chicago can learn from Detroit about dealing with unions

Crain’s talks with a Chicago labor attorney who led a team charged with managing Detroit’s labor relations during the city’s bankruptcy. He was responsible for negotiating new, five-year agreements with 48 collective-bargaining units. Here’s what he learned.

Chicago protesters return to streets

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Chicago yesterday to speak out against a grand jury decision not to indict a New York City police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man. The marchers, who shut down Lake Shore Drive briefly last night, have vowed to return this afternoon at Jackson and State streets. Read more from the Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press.

Will these restaurants help breathe life into the Thompson Center?

The real estate firms that control the Thompson Center’s retail space hope to revive the state government building with rebranding, some interior improvements and three new restaurants for the lower-level food court. Chicago Real Estate Daily reports.

Now, at last, the Old Main Post Office might find a real savior

The current owner’s decision to unload the Old Main Post Office building and adjacent property all but confirms his grandiose plans for the mammoth building are dead. As Crain’s Joe Cahill writes, with that epic fantasy out of the way, new possibilities arise for the West Loop eyesore.

Leo Burnett is big winner in Kraft’s agency shrinkdown

Leo Burnett, which previously did not have any Kraft brands, has won the ad business of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Crystal Light, Cracker Barrel, Planters, Jell-O, Cool Whip and Breakstone’s, Kraft confirms to Ad Age.

Uber worth $41 billion?

Ride-sharing service Uber Technologies says a new round of funding values it at $41 billion. That signals some of the world’s top investors are betting the firm can sustain a breakneck global expansion pace despite fierce challenges from regulators and taxi companies. The Wall Street Journal has more.

Hey, Crain’s 40s: Look forward and give back

The Better Government Association’s Andy Shaw reminds Crain’s 40 Under 40 honorees that the philanthropists whose family names adorn many of our cultural centers were 40 once. This year’s fresh faces need to find their own vehicles for giving back, he writes in this Crain’s guest op-ed.

Jewel punished for violating disability case settlement

The settlement stemmed from a lawsuit that accused the Jewel-Osco grocery chain of discriminating against employees who wanted to return to work after disability leave. More from the Tribune.

Karen Lewis steps out for Garcia

In a rare appearance since her October diagnosis of a cancerous brain tumor, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis stepped out this week to introduce mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia at the union’s House of Delegates meeting. But she tells the Sun-Times she isn’t quite ready to campaign.

Make that a venti glass of chardonnay

Starbucks, aiming to give its cooling U.S. traffic a jolt, will add beer, wine and evening snacks to thousands of domestic cafes. Reuters reports.


We Have Liftoff!

The experimental Orion spacecraft successfully launched into space Friday morning from Cape Canaveral, Fla., after NASA called off three successive countdowns on Thursday in the wake of wind gusts and valve problems with the vessel


U.S. Jobs Beat Estimates

The Labor Department on Friday said U.S. employers added 321,000 jobs in November, the biggest burst of hiring in nearly three years


Putin Unnerves Russia’s Elites

The Russian leader felt his nation’s growing economic and security issues on Thursday, when his state of the nation address failed to please crowds


Obama to Nominate Ashton Carter as Defense Secretary

The President is expected to nominate Ashton Carter as Defense Secretary on Friday, after Chuck Hagel announced he would resign from the post last week. Carter served as Deputy Defense Secretary from 2011 to 2013 before he returned to academia and foundation work


Benedict Cumberbatch Confirmed to Play Doctor Strange

Marvel said Thursday that Cumberbatch will play Doctor Strange in the superhero movie. The British star of the The Imitation Game was rumored to be in line for the part: a former surgeon entrusted with the power to protect Earth from mystical and extraplanetary forces


Protests Against Eric Garner Decision Sweep U.S.

Thousands of protesters gathered in major U.S. cities for a second night Thursday to rally against recent grand jury decisions against indicting white police officers in the deaths of black men, blocking major highways in New York City and Chicago


Peter Pan Live! Recap: It’s a Gender Studies Field Day

Allison Williams, Christopher Walken, Minnie Driver, and Taylor Louderman on Thursday starred in NBC’s second live prime time musical. The verdict: J.M. Barrie’s vintage story poses too many awkward questions for a modern audience, despite NBC’s makeover attempt


Bahraini Activist Jailed for Tearing Up Picture of King

A Bahraini human-rights activist has been sentenced to three years in prison for tearing up a photo of the Gulf state’s king, Amnesty International said Friday. The U.S. ally has repeatedly been condemned by human-rights groups for flouting international standards


Brooklyn Is Now the U.S.’s Least Affordable Housing Market

A recent study that analyzed the affordability of 475 counties through October 2014 finds that Kings County (Brooklyn) is the least affordable in the nation. Why? Likely a mixture of stagnant wages, investor interest and an influx of more affluent residents


Bill Cosby’s Lawyer Fights Back

Cosby’s lawyer Martin Singer on Thursday slammed claims alleging the 77-year-old comedian sexually assaulted Judy Huth, who was 15 at the time. Singer calls Huth’s claims false — and says her lawyer attempted to extort Cosby for $250,000 before filing the suit


The Philippines Faces a Terrifying Typhoon Again

Thousands are being evacuated from coastal areas of the Philippines as Typhoon Hagupit approaches. The massive storm, called Typhoon Ruby in the Philippines, threatens the very regions devastated by Supertyphoon Haiyan a year ago


DNA Tests Confirm Lebanon Is Holding ISIS Leader’s Child

DNA tests have confirmed that the child held by Lebanese authorities is the daughter of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. A woman also detained is believed to be the jihadist’s ex-wife


NYPD Arrest More than 200 Overnight in Ongoing Protests

Protesters blocked intersections and shut down traffic in multiple areas of Manhattan.

Second Night of Protests of Decision in Eric Garner Case



James Watson’s Nobel Prize Sells for Over $4.7 Million

One of the scientists who discovered DNA’s double helix structure auctioned off his 1962 prize Thursday.

RELATED: 1976 Apple-1 Computer Sells for Record $905,000 at NYC Auction



Republicans Prepare 2015 Immigration Legislation

The Republicans are planning to push tougher immigration measures next year

RELATED: Texas Leads 17 States in Suing Obama Over Immigration



Electric Eels Remotely Control Victims’ Muscles Before Paralyzing And Eating Them

They’re just like a police Taser — only stronger.



U.S., U.K., Will Continue to Support Afghanistan

Security remains a concern for Afghanistan’s allies, who gathered at a conference in London to discuss the country’s future.

RELATED: What Went Wrong in Afghanistan


China’s President Urges Faster Development of New Weapons Systems

China has developed emerging stealth fighter technology, anti-satellite missiles and now has one aircraft carrier in operation

RELATED: China and Turkey Fall Behind in Global Corruption Index


The Secret Shame of North Korea’s Slave Workers

An American teacher writes of her experience seeing farm laborers in North Korea looking “like Nazi concentration camp victims.”

RELATED: North and South Korea’s Absurdist Armageddon


U.S. Tackling the Mental Health Problem in New York City’s Jails

A $130 million, four-year plan will attempt to better improve processing and treatment of mentally ill individuals in the criminal justice system.

RELATED: Give That Turkey the Chair



The Loneliness of the Global Policeman in a Multi-Centric World

Acting alone in a multi-centric world, the U.S. more and more often wins wars and loses the peace, Slavoj Žižek argues.



Planet Reboot: Fighting Climate Change With Geoengineering

Scientists hope to wield the Earth itself as a weapon against global warming.

RELATED: At Climate Talks, 2-Degree Warming Limit Is Over


Word of the Day Friday, December 05, 2014

Clairaudience \klair-AW-dee-uhns\


  1. the power to hear sounds said to exist beyond the reach of ordinary experience or capacity, as thevoices of the dead.