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ere the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at:
Where the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at:

Officer Down

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PENSION: (Illinois) Quinn supports pension reform bill

--Of course Quinn agrees. 
There is no controversy here, no questions to be asked.--

The State Journal-Register

The Illinois House voted Tuesday to boot two Illinois Federation of Teacher lobbyists from the Teachers’ Retirement System following disclosures that they qualified for state pensions after one-day careers as substitute teachers.

In a statement, Gov. Pat Quinn said he supports House Bill 3813, which already cleared the Senate and is headed to his desk.

“I am pleased with the General Assembly's action to improve our pension system in order to prevent the flagrant abuses that have recently come to light,” Quinn said. “Taxpayer money must be protected, which is why I supported lawmakers' move to address egregious abuses of the pension system. … I look forward to reviewing and taking action quickly when the bill reaches my desk."

The bill removes IFT lobbyists Steven Preckwinkle and David Piccioli from TRS and refunds any money they have contributed.

Preckwinkle and Piccioli each taught for a day in the Springfield School District in 2007, taking advantage of legislation that allowed a window for union officials to get into the teacher pension fund and count previous years as union employees if they obtained teaching certificates and conducted classroom work.

The new legislation retroactively eliminates that window.

The bill, sponsored by House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, and Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, also bans double-dipping by current and future union leaders who leave their public jobs for full-time work with their unions and then take pensions from both.

Union leaders also could no longer base their public pensions on higher salaries earned while leading unions. Instead, any government pensions would be based on their salaries when they left their public jobs, adjusted for inflation.

“This is not something we can wait on,” Cross said. “The very people who were supposed to … make sure we had stable pension systems neglected their duties to take care of themselves.”

Current union leaders would continue to be able to add pension credits while in their union’s employ. Future union leaders would not.

The bill applies to downstate police and firefighter pension systems, the Teachers’ Retirement System, the State Universities Retirement System and various Chicago and Cook County pension systems.

David Ormsby, a spokesman for Preckwinkle and Piccioli, called the bill “blatantly unconstitutional” because it changes pension benefits midstream. Preckwinkle and Piccioli are reviewing their legal options, he said.

PENSION: (Illinois) Illinois passes bill targeting pension flaws

--Great. Just what we need. More knee-jerk piecemeal reforms aimed at fixing the problems caused by a few individuals.
Don't get me wrong, this was a problem, a big one and it needed to be fixed. But, the whole system needs to be fixed.
By the time we are done with all these so called "reforms" the pension statutes will be in a book all by themselves.
Makes no sense what so ever.--

Story at St Louis Today

November 30, 2011

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. • The Illinois Legislature on Tuesday sent Gov. Pat Quinn a measure to close loopholes in the state's pension laws that have allowed public union officials to secure inflated public pensions for themselves. Quinn's office said he would sign it into law.

The legislation addresses several practices exposed in the media in recent months, including ex-teachers who also work as teachers union officials, then are allowed to apply the teacher pension formula to their six-figure union salaries.

In one case first reported in the Post-Dispatch, a former teachers union president spent a few low-paid years teaching in the 1970s, before his union career, then ended up retiring on a $185,000 annual pension based on his much-higher union salary.

The bill that passed Tuesday wouldn't undo that or most other pension arrangements for people who have already retired, but would prevent future retirees from applying the state pension formula to their union salaries.

The bill would retroactively reverse another kind of arrangement in which union officials who weren't teachers to begin with were allowed to get into the teacher pension system with brief teaching stints.

The Chicago Tribune recently revealed that two union lobbyists got in on that system by merely substitute-teaching for one day, then were in line for inflated pensions based on their union salaries.

"This isn't something we can wait on," said the bill sponsor, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego. "It is about as abusive and gross a misuse of the system as I've seen in a long time."

The bill, HB3813, passed 108-4. Detractors had expressed concern that the retroactive portion of the bill would be declared unconstitutional.

Quinn's office said in a statement said he would act quickly on the measure, and he decried what he called "flagrant" and "egregious" abuses to the public pension system.

Read more:

PENSION: (International) Britain Paralyzed: Nationwide Strike Protesting Pension Cuts

--It is not just in this country. It is a world problem--

More than two million workers in Britain are participating in a nationwide strike Wednesday to protest government plans to reduce public sector pensions, in what is expected to be the largest walkout in a generation.

Authorities are warning of long delays at London's Heathrow Airport, where embassy staff have been flown in to replace striking passport control workers. Some airlines also cancelled flights into London in order to ease potential overcrowding.

Most state schools and public transit systems are closed for the day and many hospitals were only providing essential services. Dozens of rallies are also set to take place across the country.

Workers from more than 30 unions are protesting government plans to reduce a $185 billion budget deficit by reducing pension benefits, increasing pension contribution payments and forcing longer work hours.

The government says it will not be swayed by the strike because the current pension system is no longer affordable. Officials have warned unions that their action will cost the economy close to $800 million.

NEWS: (Chicago) Fugitive ex-cop's wife takes the Fifth at pension hearing

--Why the hell have they been paying his pension for the last 8 years in the first place?--

Story at Chicago Tribune

Board reaffirms suspension of payments; more than $300,000 had been paid to former officer since he fled country on eve of corruption trial

By David Jackson and Gary Marx
7:25 AM CST, November 30, 2011

The wife of fugitive Eddie Hicks took the Fifth Amendment at a police pension board hearing Tuesday, refusing to answer trustees' questions about the whereabouts of the former Chicago police officer.

Hicks fled the country — presumably to Brazil — on the eve of his federal corruption trial in 2003, but since then, monthly pension checks totaling more than $300,000 have been paid to his bank account or cashed by his wife, a Chicago Tribune investigation found.

The pension board suspended Hicks' more than $3,000-a-month pension in September after Tribune reporters raised questions about the payments. But Hicks' wife, Carol Hicks-Pierce, contested the suspension, producing a power of attorney document, which she said was signed by Hicks last year, that granted her control over all his finances. Based on that document, she appeared at Tuesday's hearing in an effort to reinstate the pension payments.

Her effort failed. At the start of the hearing, pension board trustee and city Treasurer Stephanie Neely asked Hicks-Pierce point-blank, "Where is Mr. Hicks?"

Hicks-Pierce's attorney, Phillip Oliver, refused to let her answer that question or any others, citing a federal investigation of Hicks and her constitutional right not to incriminate herself.

Pointing out that pension payments are meant for officers who uphold their duty, trustee Lois Scott, Chicago's chief financial officer, told Hicks-Pierce that the board had difficulty making payments to "a gentleman that appears to be a fugitive from the law."

With that, the eight-member board unanimously reaffirmed the suspension of Hicks' pension payments, saying he would have to prove he was alive in person before they would consider reinstating the payments.

In an interview after the hearing, board trustee Michael Shields, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7, said Hicks had disgraced the Chicago police force and shouldn't have received a pension after becoming a fugitive.

"Something like this is definitely a slap in the face to all of the hard-working officers who put their lives on the line on a daily basis to earn a patrolman's benefits," Shields said.

A 29-year veteran of the Chicago police force, Hicks was charged in federal court with running a crew of rogue officers who robbed drug dealers, pocketed the illicit cash and sold the stolen drugs to other pushers.

While on the lam, Hicks repeatedly conducted financial transactions in Chicago to enrich himself and the people closest to him, the Tribune investigation found.

Two years after Hicks vanished, his signature appeared on land records giving his son — a Chicago police officer — the South Side property Hicks had used to secure his $150,000 bond.

Hicks' signature appeared on paperwork directing the police pension fund to deposit benefit checks totaling more than $300,000 into a credit union account, and on at least 23 monthly police pension checks totaling $79,000, most of which were cashed or deposited by his wife, records show.

Hicks married Hicks-Pierce, a former Chicago officer, six days before he disappeared in 2003, government records show. She declined to comment after the hearing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

PENSION: (Illinois) Pension hearing video

House GOP Leader Tom Cross and union lobbyist Bob Molaro go back an forth over pension reform on 11-28-11.


PENSION: (Illinois) In The Spotlight: General Assembly should reform its pension system first

--Excellent commentary Kevin. You forgot one fact. That state legislature job is only a part time job. They are only in session a total of 3 or 4 months a year and they all have other jobs (nice ones, too) and they get the full time benefits.--

Commentary at Peoria Journal-Star

Journal Star
Posted Nov 27, 2011
Kenvin Crawford

Tom Cross and Michael Madigan say we need it. Chicago CEOs demand it. As a state employee, I think we need it. Pension reform. The only differences in ideas are where reform occurs.

Cross, Madigan and the CEOs are saying it's needed with state employees' pensions. I think we should start with the General Assembly. The General Assembly has created and passed laws governing pensions, theirs and mine. Since I began my state service, my pension contribution has grown significantly. The fund that I pay into has not increased because funds have not been appropriated by the Legislature.

Now look at the General Assembly pension. A representative or senator can retire at age 55 with only eight years in the General Assembly with a lifetime pension. Eight years ... really? Keep in mind that this pension is based on their salary of $67,836 (fourth highest in the nation), a per diem of $132 per day, committee posts paying $10,327 and leadership positions paying $24,477. This can turn into a pretty healthy pension considering a state employee's pension is based on an average of the salary, but a legislator's pension is based on his highest salary. That's a pretty healthy pension for a Legislature that has financially ruined this state.

Hey, I don't knock legislators for passing laws that give them a great pension for the least possible time worked. I don't even blame them for giving themselves a great salary. What I do blame them for is giving the people of Illinois the idea that state employees have not earned their pension and that Illinois is in debt because of those pension obligations, when in fact legislators have not funded those pension systems.

A lot of people are now saying that state employees do not deserve the pension we get. All I can say is that those same people had the same opportunity to apply for the same job I did. If those people still want to say that state employees don't deserve our pensions, come work our jobs one day. I know that I would love to work one day in Tom Cross's or Michael Madigan's jobs.

The General Assembly passed laws creating very sweet pensions for themselves but only want to reform the pensions of employees that have not missed one pension contribution. I'm all for pension reform for state employees. Just let me say this to the General Assembly: You first.

Kevin Crawford is a correctional officer and lives in Bushnell.

PENSION: (Illinois) Bill Remedying Pension Abuses Moves Closer to Final Passage

Story at Illinois Municipal League

By Joe McCoy, Legislative Director, IML

On Monday, November 28, the House Personnel and Pensions Committee concurred with Senate Amendments 1 and 2 to HB 3813 (Representative Cross, R-Plainfield). If approved by the full House, the legislation will be sent to Governor Quinn. A House vote is expected on Tuesday, November 29. The General Assembly is moving the legislation along with the intent of closing interpretive loopholes that allowed union leaders to collect both a government and union pension for the the same service time or to base their government pension on their higher salary earned while employed with a labor union. Neither amendment affects IMRF. The content of each amendment is described below:

Senate Amendment 1 to HB 3813 amends the General Provisions, Downstate Police, Downstate Firefighters, Chicago Police, Chicago Firefighters, Chicago Municipal, Cook County, Chicago Laborers, State Universities, and Downstate Teachers Articles of the Illinois Pension Code. The bill as amended provides that any reasonable suspicion by any appointed or elected commissioner, trustee, director, board member, or employee of a retirement system or pension fund created under the Code or the State Board of Investment of a false statement or falsified record being submitted or permitted by a person under the Code shall be immediately referred to the board of trustees of the applicable retirement system or pension fund created under the Code, the State Board of Investment, or the State's Attorney of the jurisdiction where the alleged fraudulent activity occurred. Requires the board of trustees of a retirement system or pension fund or the State Board of Investment to immediately notify the State's Attorney of the jurisdiction where the alleged fraudulent activity occurred. Specifies the terms under which credit may be earned in each of the affected systems during leaves of absence to serve various labor organizations. Repeals and declares void ab initio a provision added to the Code by Public Act 94-1111.

Senate Amendment 2 amends the Chicago Police Article to removes a requirement that the police officer be on special duty assignment. In the Chicago Municipal and Chicago Laborer Articles, provides that "final average salary", for a participant receiving credit for specified types of leave, means the highest average salary for any 4 consecutive years (or any 8 consecutive years if the employee first became a participant on or after January 1, 2011) in the 10 years immediately prior to the leave of absence, and adding to that highest average salary, the product of (i) that highest average salary, (ii) the average percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index during each 12 month calendar year for the calendar years during the participant's leave of absence, and (iii) the length of the leave of absence in years. Prohibits that amount, however, from exceeding the participant's salary at the local labor organization. In the State Universities Article, requires an individual to file an irrevocable election to become a participant before the effective date of the amendatory Act in order to have specified periods of leave applied to his or her service as an employee. In the Downstate Teachers Article, requires an individual to file an irrevocable election to become a participant before the effective date of the amendatory Act in order to have specified periods of leave applied to his or her service as a teacher. Makes the provisions of the Act severable.

R.I.P.: Correctional Officer Buddy Ray Herron


Correctional Officer Buddy Ray Herron
Oregon Department of Corrections, Oregon
End of Watch: Monday, November 28, 2011

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 42
Tour: Not available
Badge # Not available
Cause: Assault
Incident Date: 11/28/2011
Weapon: Person
Suspect: Charged with murder

Correctional Officer Buddy Herron was assaulted and killed along Highway 11, two miles north of Pendleton, shortly after 11:00 pm. It is believed that he was assaulted after stopping to assist what he believed was a disabled motorist while en route to his shift at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution.

A passerby notified authorities that an injured man was laying in the roadway. He was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries a short time later.

A suspect with a long criminal history was arrested the following morning and charged with his murder.

Officer Herron had served with the Oregon Department of Corrections for four years. He is survived by his wife and four children.

Please contact the following agency to send condolences or to obtain funeral arrangements:

Director Max Williams
Oregon Department of Corrections
2575 Center Street NE
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: (503) 945-9090

Monday, November 28, 2011

UNION: (Illinois) State deal reached to keep Tinley mental health center, other facilities open for time being

--Watch for the back-stabbing, lying Governor Bumblin' Stumblin' Quinn to use this to try and squeeze more out of public employees next year.
He and the legislature have already proven they cannot be trusted.
Watch for them to try and spin this for all it is worth to build up to the Spring Session and our pensions.--

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Monique Garcia and Ray Long
Tribune reporters
8:04 PM CST, November 28, 2011

SPRINGFIELD — Tinley Park Mental Health Center and six other state facilities would stay open in the short term and nearly 1,900 layoffs would be avoided under a deal struck Monday night, according to leading Democrats and Republicans.

The outline of an agreement was worked out in the Capitol office of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who huddled with lawmakers from both parties for more than two hours.

Emerging from Quinn’s office, Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno said details are still being crafted, but a measure “will be very clear that the facilities are to stay open pending any kind of orderly transition of those that may need to close in the future.”

“We’ll avoid that chaos that we were afraid would happen with what the governor had proposed,” said Radogno of Lemont.

During the summer, Quinn targeted for quick closure mental health centers in Tinley Park, Rockford and downstate Chester, centers for the developmentally disabled in Jacksonville and Dixon, a prison in Lincoln and a youth center in Murphysboro. He blamed the legislature for failing to provide enough money in the budget.

Quinn’s office confirmed late Monday that a plan is now in place. It’s likely to be voted on Tuesday, which is supposed to be the General Assembly’s last session day of the year.

“We have reached a bipartisan budget agreement that achieves the goal of keeping the seven state facilities slated for closure open throughout this fiscal year using existing state resources,” the administration said in a statement.

The money to keep all of the facilities open through at least June 30 is expected to come from lawmakers shifting money around following Quinn’s budget vetoes this summer. The mental health centers and homes for the developmentally disabled still eventually would close as residents are moved into community-based settings the next few years, aides have said.

Also Monday, legislation to rein in high-profile pension abuses moved within a step of Quinn’s desk.

The measure, which arose in response to Tribune/WGN-TV investigations, would block union leaders representing city workers from double dipping into both union and public pensions and rein in the practice of basing public pensions on heftier union salaries. The proposal also would nix a law that let two teacher union lobbyists get a public pension by serving only one day as substitute teachers.

“I don't know if you're angry, if you're frustrated, if you're dismayed, if you're shocked, if you're appalled. It's all of the above,” said House Republican leader Tom Cross of Oswego.

The bill cleared the House Personnel and Pensions Committee on a 9-0 vote and advanced to the full House, where Cross predicted passage as early as Tuesday. It already has passed the Senate.

UNION: (Illinois) Legislative scholarships flowed to top union lobbyist's kids

Story at Chicago Tribune

Teachers' political director also received perk that allowed him to be a sub for a day and get a pension

By Ray Long, Chicago Tribune reporter
November 27, 2011

— Steven Preckwinkle's one day of subbing became a symbol of Illinois' troubled pension system after that work qualified him for significant state teacher retirement benefits.

The political director of the Illinois Federation of Teachers can base that pension on his years as a union lobbyist and on his six-figure union salary — a lucrative opportunity made possible by state legislators.

It turns out Preckwinkle also is familiar with another state program, legislative scholarships, known for its problems, The Tribune has found.

Two of Preckwinkle's children and a nephew were awarded the tuition waivers to Illinois State University in the late 1980s and 1990s as part of the legislative scholarship program, according to David Ormsby, the privately paid spokesman for Preckwinkle.

The scholarships and Preckwinkle's public pension provide a glimpse into the opportunities that can come with being an insider in the state of Illinois.

"Obviously, the vast majority of the people of the state of Illinois didn't get a special pension deal, and their kids didn't get legislative scholarships," said Kent Redfield, who teaches political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Together, he said, the pension and scholarships in one family underscore the question of whether state government is too often set up so that "private benefit trumps public interest and public good."

Preckwinkle's spokesman defended the pension arrangement and the scholarships, saying political connections played no role.

But questions about the pension deal remain.

A Tribune/WGN-TV investigation disclosed last month how a 2007 law allowed Preckwinkle and fellow lobbyist David Piccioli to sub one day in a public school and line up their teacher pensions for life. In the wake of that report, the Illinois Federation of Teachers has now revealed it tapped an outside counsel to launch an internal review of that deal and the actions of the union and its employees.

Neither Preckwinkle nor Piccioli had prior teaching experience, but both get to count their years with the union and their salaries toward pensions with the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System, putting them in a position for hefty benefits when they retire.

The House and Senate recently approved separate proposals that would dissolve the 2007 law. One measure also seeks to halt pension abuses that have allowed top union officials to line up overly generous public benefits. It would block union leaders representing city workers from double-dipping into union and public pensions and curtail the practice of basing their public pensions on union salaries, which often can reach into six figures.

At the same time, amid continuing concerns that clout taints the awarding of legislative scholarships, Gov. Pat Quinn is pressing to abolish the program against heavy resistance in the Senate. That debate is not new, but it comes against the backdrop of a federal investigation. Authorities have subpoenaed records of scholarships given by former state Rep. Bob Molaro, D-Chicago, who awarded scholarships worth $94,000 to four children of a longtime political supporter.

Preckwinkle acknowledged through his spokesman that a daughter received a tuition waiver in 1989, as did a son and nephew in the mid-1990s. Ormsby said the daughter went through Illinois State in 31/2 years via the scholarships. He also said Preckwinkle did not know how many years of tuition the legislative scholarships covered for his son and nephew.

Preckwinkle's children received the scholarships from then-Rep. Mike Curran, Ormsby said.

The Illinois State Board of Education files on Curran's legislative scholarships show Preckwinkle's daughter but do not list Preckwinkle's son or nephew. Board officials said records dating back that far are often incomplete, and Ormsby confirmed that all three of the students received legislative scholarships.

Curran was a Springfield Democrat who sat on House education committees and championed proposals to raise the income tax to improve funding for schools. Curran also received political donations from the teachers union in his legislative races, and Preckwinkle later contributed when Curran unsuccessfully ran for mayor.

Preckwinkle worked with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, until November 1990 and joined the teacher union the next month. AFSCME endorsed Curran in 1988 and 1990 and donated to his campaigns.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers first endorsed Curran in the early 1980s, years before Preckwinkle worked with the teachers union, said Dave Comerford, the union's spokesman.

Curran left the legislature in early 1995. Three years later, he was hired by the teachers union as "an outside consultant to do media work on some campaigns for IFT-endorsed candidates," a period when Preckwinkle was political director, Comerford said.

According to Ormsby, "at no time did Steve Preckwinkle contact or speak in any form on behalf of his children" to Curran about the scholarships.

"Both of his children had been accepted to ISU on their own merit," Ormsby said. Preckwinkle's daughter "had been an A/B student in high school, and his son had been a solid B student and athlete in high school. Based on their high school performance, there is nothing out of the ordinary for them to receive a General Assembly scholarship."

"Both correctly applied through a letter through Rep. Mike Curran. And through the representative's committee-selection process, they were selected," Ormsby said. "…The only clout that was involved was the grades and the academic performance of these children during their time in high school."

In an interview, Curran said he does not remember any of his scholarship recipients. Asked if Preckwinkle ever came to him regarding scholarships, Curran said: "Oh, no." He said having a lobbyist come to him about a scholarship would have "stood out."

He also said he had "very, very, very little" input into the choices made by his selection committee for the scholarships.

From July 1, 1999, through April 15, 2002, Curran worked for Democratic Secretary of State Jesse White. He served as director of a program that requires drunken drivers to install ignition interlock devices that require a breath test before a car starts.

Curran pleaded guilty to mail fraud after officials accused him of filing false travel vouchers, using state equipment for his private business and devoting a substantial amount of state time from January 2001 to April 2002 on political campaigns — a period after his contract with the teachers union was up. He was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison and ordered to pay $67,435 in restitution.

NEWS: (Franklin Park) Franklin Park seeks bids on new police station

Story at Pioneer Press

By Mark Lawton
Last Modified: Nov 28, 2011 02:02PM

A request for bids went out on Nov. 16 for construction companies to build a new Franklin Park Police station.

MTI Construction Services of Elgin, which is overseeing the project, has set a deadline of 10:30 a.m. Nov. 28 to turn in bid proposals to the village clerk’s office.

The proposed building will be constructed at 9451 Belmont Ave. It will be a single-story structure about 32,815 square feet, according to the bid notice. It will be made of concrete foundations, masonry walls, precast concrete decks, structural steel framing and bar joists. The site work includes complete development of the 14.25-acre site.

NEWS: (Northlake) Northlake requesting 4.9% hike in levy

--There is just so much I can say that I am not going to at this time.--

Story at Pioneer Press

By Mark Lawton
Last Modified: Nov 28, 2011 02:46PM

Property taxes and some fees in Northlake will increase in 2012 to keep the budget balanced.

The city council voted to levy a 4.9 percent increase on property taxes on Nov. 21. Those taxes are for 2011 but are payable in 2012.

“We don’t take that lightly,” Mayor Jeff Sherwin said. “It comes down to what core services do you want to cut if you don’t want to increase real-estate taxes.”

The council also voted to increase fees for pre-sale home inspections from $200 to $250. Northlake law requires such inspections.

At its Nov. 7 meeting, the City Council voted to raise the cost of sewer services from $3.30 to $4.30, garbage pick-up from $7.50 to $9 and to pass along part of an increase in water costs imposed by its supplier, the city of Chicago.

Sherwin doesn’t anticipate any staff cuts, whether by layoffs or attrition, saying that the city has trimmed over the years he’s been in office.

“The building department is one person,” Sherwin said. “It wreaks havoc when the building department goes on vacation.”

Nor, for the most part, is the city cutting services, though it is trying to become a bit more efficient. Clogs in sewers and turning water on or off now has to wait until business hours rather than pay public works personnel for overtime. Rather than raking leaves into the parkway, residents will have to bag them for collection.

For 2012, the city expects to take in $29.29 million Finance Director Bill Kabler said. Its expenses will be slight lower at $29.12 million.

Overall revenue for the 2012 budget is up from 2011 by $3.6 million. Of that, $3.2 million is from a bond issue that will be used for street repairs and repaving (the exact streets won’t be determined until February). Another $200,000 is from grants.

Expenses are expected to increase up by $2.6 million, again including the street repairs and repaving.

The city will be using about $100,000 in savings for 2012, Kabler said.

Sherwin expects sales taxes and its share of state income taxes to be flat in 2012. Businesses, particularly smaller ones, are still struggling.

A second data center opened in Northlake in 2011. As tenants buy space, that will increase electricity taxes for the city. And Al Piemonte switched its Nissan dealership on North Avenue for Suzuki, which Sherwin hopes will bring in around the same amount of sales tax revenue.

“The city is in relatively good shape,” Sherwin said. “It’s a matter of weathering this financial situation.”

NEWS: (Maywood) Cabbie killed, 1 other wounded by stray bullets near Maywood bus stop

--Maywood started the year kind of quiet--

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Rosemary Sobol
Tribune reporter
6:33 PM CST, November 27, 2011

A cab driver was killed and a 68-year-old woman waiting for a bus was wounded when shots rang out in the middle of the afternoon hitting both people who authorities said were “innocent bystanders’’ Saturday in Maywood.

Luis Cordoba, 56, 2018 W. Lake St., Melrose Park, was pronounced dead at 2:15 a.m. today at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

About 12:25 p.m., Cordoba was waiting for a fare and was alone inside the cab at 19th Avenue and St. Charles Road when someone opened fire. At least one bullet pierced the vehicle and struck him in the left side of the head, according to village of Maywood spokesman Larry Shapiro.

“I don’t  know if he was flagged down or if he was waiting for someone coming out of an apartment,’’ Shapiro said.  Cordoba worked for People Cab company and he was not robbed.

Meanwhile, a 68-year-old woman who lives about two blocks from the shooting scene was standing outside waiting for a Pace bus when the bullets hit her also. “She was shot in the back and the bullet that struck her was lodged in her spinal cord,’’ Shapiro said.

She was rushed to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. Sunday night she was still recovering.

 “Her prognosis  is pretty good in terms of survival and of her not being paralyzed,’’ Shapiro said.

No one else was hurt.

The victims were “clearly’’ not the targets because video surveillance showed the shooter or shooters continuing to run after Cordoba and the woman were shot.
“They were still trying to shoot at somebody else,’’ Shapiro said.

Shapiro declined to say how many suspects are being sought.

People Cab dispatcher Tiana Scruggs said she knew him as cab driver #359 and was familiar with his voice. She was not working when the incident occurred and was told he was struck by a stray bullet.

 “It’s a sad thing,’’ Scruggs said. “I worked with him plenty of times and I heard he had a big family and I am very sorry for their loss.’’

Scruggs said the dispatcher who was on duty yesterday afternoon was shaken up after hearing about the shooting. “She’s the last person who was talking to him,’’ Scruggs said.

Shapiro said the slaying happened in a residential neighborhood.

“They were innocent bystanders,’’ Shapiro said of the victims. "They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.''

No arrests have been made.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Slow going in the news department

Not much going on so far this weeend.

Feel free to discuss what you like.

If anything good comes up, as always, it will be here first.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

NEWS: (Chicago) City's 18-year battle with strip club may be over

--Another interesting strip club saga--

Story at Chicago Tribune

VIP's has another month to appeal revocation of licenses

By Steve Schmadeke
Chicago Tribune reporter
6:39 PM CST, November 24, 2011

Chicago's 18-year court battle to shut down its only strip club with both seminude dancing and liquor sales may be nearing an end after an appeals court last week roundly rejected the club's remaining legal arguments.

The Near North Side club, now known as VIP's, A Gentleman's Club, saw its business and liquor licenses revoked in 1993 but has been open for business and serving alcohol while its politically connected owner fought the decision in court.

The city claims VIP's "flouted" for years an ordinance on how much skin dancers can expose, allowing performers to wear thongs and strategically applied latex and makeup. The club argued that the ordinance was unconstitutional, that their dancers caused no harm, and that revoking all its licenses for one type of violation amounted to a "business death penalty."

It also says that, after a 2006 Illinois Supreme Court ruling in the case, its dancers wear bikini bottoms and more substantial latex tops.

"I just don't understand why the city wants to close the place," said David A. Epstein, one of the club's attorneys. "It employs people, provides the city revenue and the majority of the clientele are out-of-towners."

"You've got to shake your head and say, 'What's the point?'" he said. "Covering up (women's bodies) when you can tune into the Super Bowl and see the exact same coverage — or lack of coverage?"

The club during its "heyday" was paying almost $500,000 in taxes each year to the city and Cook County, Epstein said. He estimated that number now might be around $300,000.

A city spokesman released a short statement saying the appeals court had made "the right decision" and declined to comment further.

The business got its start as a nightclub called the 1531 Club — named for its location at 1531 N. Kingsbury St. in a small night-life district near Goose Island — but the business didn't bring in enough money, according to court records.

Then-owner James Levin, a major Democratic fundraiser who later pleaded guilty to defrauding Chicago Public Schools in a minority-owned business scam, decided to turn the place into an upscale strip club called Thee Dollhouse.

"A gentleman, a businessman, can bring his clients in, enjoy the entertainment and his feet don't get stuck to the floor," a floor host at the newly opened club told a Tribune reporter in 1993.

Levin had borrowed $800,000 from Perry Mandera in exchange for a security interest in the club. The politically connected Mandera, who owns a shipping firm called The Custom Cos. and sits on the Illinois Trucking Association's emeritus committee, took full ownership in the summer of 1993 when Levin couldn't repay him, according to a Supreme Court decision.

Mandera, who had no experience running a strip club, signed a management and licensing contract with Frederick "Rick" Rizzolo, who owned a Las Vegas strip club called The Crazy Horse Too, paying him $20,000 a month plus travel expenses, according to court records.

With Rizzolo under contract, the Chicago strip club changed its name to The Crazy Horse Too. Mandera hired former Chicago police detective Thomas Bridges as general manager, according to court records.

Rizzolo is now in federal prison after violating his parole in a tax fraud case tied to his Vegas strip club.

The combination of alcohol sales and erotic dancing was lucrative. Mandera testified that by 2000, VIP's gross annual revenue was $7 million, more than three times what Chicago strip clubs without a bar took in, according to the Supreme Court ruling.

Mandera himself was getting $75,000 a month from the club, the ruling said. In 2001, he won a major court decision when a Cook County judge overturned the liquor commission's ruling.

But rulings since by the Illinois Supreme Court and appellate courts have been in the city's favor. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Mandera also ran into other legal troubles.

In 2002, his company was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of several women who worked at his Northlake transportation firm.

An EEOC attorney said at the time that the company had a "hypersexualized" work environment where sales representatives were pressured to take clients to Mandera's strip club and where strippers performed at company golf outings and did lap dances at company dinners.

One woman was demoted and later fired after complaining about the sexual propositions, groping, sex talk and pornographic materials displayed at the office, according to the federal complaint.

The company paid out more than $1 million in damages and attorney's fees after a jury returned unfavorable verdicts, according to court records.

In 2003, Mandera's club changed its name to VIP's. Two years earlier, the club sued the city over its amusement tax, arguing that an exemption for "small, fine-arts venues" but not strip clubs was unconstitutional, according to court records.

An appeals court agreed, but the decision was overturned by the state Supreme Court in 2009.

VIP's has about a month to appeal the latest court ruling.

Epstein said the club could appeal but also might try to reach a settlement with the city. The appeals court noted in its latest ruling that VIP's has continued "to reap great financial benefit" for 18 years while its case was tied up in court.

"It's been a good ride," Epstein said.

NEWS: (Chicago) Maggie Daley dies

--Maggie was the one bright spot in the former mayor's life.
She was the definition of class and stuck by her husband's side through a lot of turmoil (most of it created by Mayor Daley).
May she rest in peace.--

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Rick Kogan
Tribune reporter
9:42 PM CST, November 24, 2011

Maggie Daley, who dedicated herself to children’s issues and the arts while also zealously guarding her family’s privacy during 22 years as Chicago’s First Lady, died a little after 6 p.m. tonight, more than nine years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 68.

Mrs. Daley was surrounded by her husband and family members at her home, according to Jacquelyn Heard, a family friend and the former mayor's spokeswoman.

"The mayor and his family would like to thank the people of Chicago for the kindness they have shown Mrs. Daley over the years, and they appreciate your prayers at this time," Heard said.

Mrs. Daley had been hospitalized several times since her diagnosis, and in recent years had often used a walker, crutches or wheelchair during public appearances. Yet she remained a study in upbeat and gracious perseverance, downplaying her own struggles and eager to cast a spotlight on the needs of others.

Dr. Steven Rosen, director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, said he had seen Mrs. Daley this morning at her home, where in recent weeks she had been under the care of nurses and people from the center's support care program.

He was called again to the home again between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., and arrived about the time of her death.

"She was comfortable," Rosen said. "She died at home, with the mayor, their children and his siblings there."

Rosen, who had cared for Mrs. Daley since 2002, when the cancer had already spread to her lungs, liver and bones, marveled at her resilience.

"She was heroic," he said. "The way she dealt with it was great. She had great dignitty, and she was an inspiration for all of us. She was a remarkable woman. All of us are blessed that she was in our lives."

As her husband Richard Daley ruled Chicago, she usually sought to avoid the limelight. But in the background she wielded great influence over her husband, and he in turn used his power to benefit causes she championed—from transforming Meigs Field into a nature park to showering public funds on an after school charity she founded. When questions were raised about such activities, the former mayor often grew agitated and defensive.

After what a family spokeswoman described as “a difficult summer” for Mrs. Daley, she attended the Nov. 17 wedding of her daughter Elizabeth “Lally” Daley to Sam Hotchkiss at the upscale Spiaggia restaurant on North Michigan Avenue.

The event had been set for New Year’s Eve, but was suddenly moved up in apparent deference to Mrs. Daley’s failing health. In wedding photos Mrs. Daley was with her family, beaming as always.

The day before Thanksgiving, the former mayor cancelled a trip to speak Harvard and other travel plans. Those close to Mrs. Daley and her husband said the couple had an exceptionally close relationship through their almost 40 years of marriage.

“They thrill at traveling, love movies and often laugh at the same things,” TV and film producer Donna La Pietra told the Tribune in 2010. “These are two people who watch over each other, without being cloying or dysfunctionally protective.”

Margaret Ann Corbett was born on July 21, 1943, the youngest and only girl among seven children of Mr. and Mrs. Patrick L. Corbett of Mount Lebanon, a Pittsburgh suburb where her father owned and operated an auto parts dealership.

She attended St. Francis Academy high school and, after graduating from the University of Dayton in Ohio, entered a management-training program with the Xerox Corp.

It was a position that eventually took her to Chicago and a job as a sales representative for Xerox Learning Systems.

She had promised her father that she would only spend two years in Chicago before returning to the Pittsburgh area. But at a 1970 Christmas party she met and was smitten by Richard M. Daley, then a 27-year-old attorney and the oldest son of then Mayor Richard J. Daley, the political boss of Chicago since 1955.

By the following November, the younger Daley and Maggie Corbett had become engaged. they were married in March 1972, in Pennsylvania. Her brother, the Rev. John Corbett, was the celebrant of the mass. Daley's attendants were his three brothers, Michael, John and William. Daley’s father and mother, Eleanor, sat in the front row of the St. Francis Retreat House.

It was already clear that Richard Daley was being groomed to enter the family business of politics. In 1969, at the age of 27, he was elected as a delegate to a convention that rewrote the Illinois Constitution, and three years later, shortly before the marriage, he declared his candidacy for the state senate, a post he won and held for eight years until his election as Cook County State’s Attorney.

Any trouble the bride might have had grasping the extent of her new family’s clout likely vanished on their honeymoon in Europe.

In Rome, the newlyweds joined 10,000 others for a general papal audience. Pope Paul VI descended from his throne, walked up to the young couple from Chicago and congratulated them on their wedding, wishing them a long and happy life.

Back in Chicago, Mrs. Daley settled quickly into the role of politician's wife, as her husband not only entered the state legislature but was also named by his father to head the powerful 11th Ward Democratic Organization.

The couple moved into a home in Bridgeport, just blocks from the home where Daley was raised and his parents had lived for decades.

Mrs. Daley’s new mother-in-law, Eleanor “Sis” Daley, was an elegant and proud woman who raised seven children in a household where religion, education and respect for others shared equal billing. Eleanor Daley, like her daughter-in-law would later, sought largely to avoid the public eye as Chicago’s First Lady.

“The greatest way a woman can contribute to the success of her husband is to raise his family,” Eleanor Daley once declared.

Maggie and Rich Daley soon started their own family. A daughter, Nora, was born in 1973 and son Patrick arrived two years later. By 1976, the young family was sharing its Bridgeport home with two dogs named Casey and Murphy and dealing with the death in December of that year of Richard J. Daley.

In 1978 the couple's third child, Kevin, was born with spina bifida, a condition in which the spine is not closed. He was hospitalized many times, but the family converted a room in their home into a treatment center so he could spend as much time there as possible.

Many times, the child hovered near death and the family would gather to say its tearful goodbyes. But Kevin proved to be a fighter until 1981 when he succumbed, after being rushed to Children's Memorial Hospital.

“I like to think that the experience with Kevin affected us in a good way,” Mrs. Daley reflected a decade later. “We learned to appreciate what's really important and to ignore the superfluous. Kevin taught us to take each day and enjoy each day and each other.”

The Daley’s youngest child, Elizabeth, was born in 1983.The family would take field trips to the zoo or to movies but, Mrs. Daley once said, “We're as likely to play Monopoly with the kids as anything else.”

Once her children were in school, Mrs. Daley began to play an increasingly active role in the civic and cultural life of the city, serving on the auxiliary board of the Art Institute and the women's board of the Chicago Rehabilitation Institute.

She was occasionally on the campaign trail with her husband. Interviewed by reporters at a local deli during Richard's successful run for mayor in 1989, Mrs. Daley playfully asked reporters, “Do I have corned beef in my teeth?”

With her husband in City Hall, many organizations and individuals began seeking Mrs. Daley's help with civic projects. One of the first she eagerly became involved was the city's Cultural Center, the former main branch of the Chicago Public Library on Michigan Avenue.

Richard J. Daley had planned to tear down the 1897 architectural gem, but his wife saved it from the wrecker's ball with an unusual, for her, public statement about how she favored “restoring and keeping all the beautiful buildings in Chicago.”

As First Lady, Maggie Daley volunteered to raise funds for the continuing renovation of the old library building. It was the beginning of what would become a close friendship between Mrs. Daley and Lois Weisberg, the commissioner of cultural affairs for almost all of Richard M. Daley’s tenure as mayor.

In 1991, Mrs. Daley and Weisberg teamed up to launch Gallery 37, a program to promote arts training and jobs for Chicago youth. That evolved into After School Matters, a private program to provide teens with educational and career-oriented activities in such areas as sports and technology.

Both efforts won widespread praise and were emulated in other cities. At the same time, After School Matters got a quiet boost of city resources courtesy of Mrs. Daley’s husband, who took it personally when questions about the program were raised.

After School Matters, housed in rent-free city offices and benefitting from the grant writing and fundraising help of three city workers, received more than $54 million in city payments since 2004. “It’s a charity of teenagers in Chicago,” Richard Daley once snapped when asked about those payments. “Are you questioning my wife now?”

Some critics of the mayor claimed Mrs. Daley wielded considerable behind-the-scenes influence at City Hall.

They pointed to lucrative O'Hare retailing contracts that were awarded to two of her closest friends as well as taxpayer funded beautification projects that she inspired.

In 1996, when Richard Daley first proposed turning Meigs Field into a park, he said his wife would co-chair the committee to facilitate the conversion.

The idea to close the lakefront commuter airstrip ran into considerable resistance, in particular from former Gov. Jim Edgar, but Daley eventually got around it in 2003 by tearing up the landing strip with heavy machinery under cover of darkness.

While Mrs. Daley’s focus was largely on charitable work -- he sat on the boards of the Golden Apple Foundation as well as Children at the Crossroads Foundation -- she sometimes got paid for her efforts.

Tax filings released by the mayor in 2000 showed that Mrs. Daley was paid $80,000 as president of a not-for-profit that advocated for inclusion of disabled children in mainstream educational and recreation programs.

The same filing showed she also earned $11,500 the previous year as chairwoman of a foundation that ran an art museum.

This fall, city Inspector General Joseph Ferguson revealed that developers who got taxpayer subsidies from Daley’s administration were repeatedly required to make a donation to After School Matters. Ferguson said more than $900,000 flowed into the non-profit in such a manner.

Richard Daley, now the former mayor, attacked the report as “disgraceful” and “a personal insult” to his wife.

Mrs. Daley was far less flappable than her husband in public. Her sense of humor flashed in public one morning when she was presiding over a West Side kindergarten as part of Teach for America Week.

“Are you married to the mayor?” one little girl asked.

“I'm guilty,” Mrs. Daley said, laughing.

Symbolic of her perceived influence with her husband was the couple’s move out of Bridgeport to a new South Loop condo in 1993, which was widely viewed as her call.

Once they began living close to downtown, the Daleys became more visible on the city social scene. They were frequent first-nighters at the opening of plays. Steppenwolf Theatre was a particular favorite.

At a millennium celebration at the Arie Crown Theatre in McCormick Place, Mrs. Daley took the stage and gave an impassioned speech on behalf of the arts:

“Chicago is a city of literature and a city of music. Writers have loved the city's grit and moxie; its rawhide style of urban survival,” she said. “Some younger musical traditions, coming up from alloy cultures in southern states, did not develop fully until they came to know play a role in the life of this city. The people who make this city great are tough customers, even when beat. Our kind of hustling, forward-looking energy have focused the arts-have sharpened their blades. Chicago is a Jazz town, a Gospel town, and the Home of the Blues.”

The intensity of Daley’s affection for his wife was again made obvious when she was first diagnosed with cancer in 2002.

Just days before news of the illness was made public, Daley was unusually withdrawn at an event at McCormick Place.

At one point he walked by himself out on a deck at the exhibition hall and stared for several minutes at the trees south of the building. When he returned, his eyes were red and moist. In ensuing years, he regularly got choked up when discussing his wife’s health.

Mrs Daley made her first public appearance after the announcement of her cancer at the July 3, 2002 opening of Gallery 37's summer program.

It was a sweltering day, but Mrs. Daley appeared cool and very much collected as she faced reporters more interested in hearing about her illness than in the program she helped create and was there to celebrate.

“I feel good and I am so grateful, really beyond words for the good wishes and the kindness and the concern and especially the prayers,” she said. “They mean an awful lot and I am enormously grateful.”

The teens at the gathering gave her a standing ovation.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Daley is survived by a son, Patrick; two daughters, Nora Daley Conroy and Elizabeth (Lally); and three grandchildren.



From my family to all of you and your families,

We wish you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

Please enjoy your families and friends and of course the food.

Please be extra careful if working today or tonight.

Unless anything extraordinary happens we will be enjoying our family time.

Thanks for Reading,



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NEWS: (Oak Park) Man accused of biting cop, charged with transmission of HIV

--Having been bitten by an AIDS carrier myself I know this a frightening situation.
I am sure the officer will be fine just like I was but it is still mind-bending especially if you have a family.--

Story at TribLocal

By Jim Jaworski

A 36-year-old man is being charged with three felonies, including transmission of HIV, after Oak  Park police said he bit a male officer’s thumb and broke the skin, police said Wednesday.

Javier G. Flores, of the 400 block of South Maple Avenue, Oak Park, was arrested by police Friday outside Old Navy, 417 N. Harlem Ave., and has been charged with criminal transmission of HIV, aggravated battery of a police officer and retail theft. The department expects the officer to be safe from contracting the disease.

Police said they were responding to a call of a retail theft about 2 p.m. after Flores allegedly tried to conceal socks, a shirt and a belt under his clothes while in the changing room.

Flores was transported to the police department and became hostile while he was being processed later that evening, said Cmdr. LaDon Reynolds. He said the situation became physical when a male officer was transporting Flores from one room to another.

“The offender became agitated and aggressive,” Reynolds said. “When the officer tried to subdue him, the offender bit the officer on his right thumb.”

Reynolds said Flores notified police that he was HIV positive. The officer, who is not being identified, was transported to the hospital, where he was treated and released. He has since returned to work.

While Reynolds said those in the department expect that the officer will be OK, the bite was enough to justify a transmission of HIV charge.

“The subject was HIV-positive, which sustains the charge because he bit the officer and broke skin,” he said.

Transmission of HIV via a bite is highly unlikely, said Dr. Paul O’Keefe, a infectious disease specialist at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. O’Keefe, who did not treat the officer, said the reason is that, while saliva does carry traces of the virus, it is in such low quantities that it is not considered harmful, which is why doctors say a HIV-positive person can kiss an uninfected person without any danger.

“The risk to the officer is extremely low, and I say that because it was from a person’s saliva, which typically doesn’t contain any blood,” he said.

The only risk would have been if the person doing the biting had blood in his mouth, perhaps from a recent injury. O’Keefe said the routine treatment is anti-HIV drugs for a month and then a test for the virus. But even in that scenario, O’Keefe estimates only a 0.3 percent chance of transmission.

“The chances of the officer being exposed to this person’s blood is quite small,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control website, there have been documented cases of transmission because of a bite, but it is “very rare” and only occurred if there was “severe trauma with extensive tissue damage and the presence of blood.”

The officer’s injuries, meanwhile, were considered minor.

Flores is being held without bond, according to police.

NEWS: (National) Ore. bans death penalty until 2015

--Doing away with the death penalty is not the answer.
Re-evaluating on a regular basis is the more prudent action.--

Story at PoliceOne

November 23, 2011

Gov. John Kitzhaber said he has questioned his decisions to allow convicted murderers Douglas Wright and Harry Moore to be executed

By Jonathan J. Cooper
Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber on Tuesday imposed a moratorium on the death penalty for the remainder of his term, saying he's morally opposed to capital punishment and has long regretted allowing two men to be executed in the 1990s.

Kitzhaber's decision gives a temporary reprieve to a twice-convicted murderer who was scheduled to die by lethal injection in two weeks, along with 36 others on death row. It makes Oregon the fifth state to halt executions since 2007.

His voice shaking, the Democratic governor said he has repeatedly questioned and revisited his decisions to allow convicted murderers Douglas Wright and Harry Moore to be executed in 1996 and 1997.

"I do not believe those executions made us safer. Certainly I don't believe they made us nobler as a society," Kitzhaber said. "And I simply cannot participate once again in something I believe to be morally wrong."

Death penalty proponents criticized the decision, saying the governor is usurping the will of voters who have supported capital punishment.

Kitzhaber is a former emergency room doctor who still retains an active physician license with the Oregon Medical Board, and his opposition to the death penalty has been well-known. In a news conference explaining his decision, he cited his oath as a physician to "do no harm." Kitzhaber was elected last year to an unprecedented third term as governor after eight years away from public office.

Oregon has a complex history with capital punishment. Voters have outlawed it twice and legalized it twice, and the state Supreme Court struck it down once. Voters most-recently legalized the death penalty on a 56-44 vote in 1984. Since then, two men have been executed, both of whom voluntarily gave up their appeals during Kitzhaber's first administration.

"It is arrogant and presumptuous for an elected official, up to and including the governor, to say, `I don't care with the voters say, I don't care what the courts say,'" and impose his own opinion, said Josh Marquis, a death penalty proponent and the Clatsop County district attorney. Marquis has prosecuted several capital cases and written about capital punishment.

Prison officials had been preparing for the Dec. 6 execution of Gary Haugen, who also had waived appeals. Haugen was serving a life sentence for fatally bludgeoning his former girlfriend's mother, Mary Archer, when he was sentenced to death for the 2003 killing of fellow inmate David Polin, who had 84 stab wounds and a crushed skull.

Fighting tears, Kitzhaber said he spoke to relatives of Haugen's victims. He said they were difficult discussions but declined to discuss them further, calling them "private conversations."

"My heart goes out to them unquestionably," he said. "This decision will delay the closure that they deserve."

Kitzhaber said he has no sympathy or compassion for murderers, but Oregon's death penalty scheme is "an expensive and unworkable system that fails to meet basic standards of justice."

Over a three-decade political career, Kitzhaber has built a reputation for charting his own course, sometimes to the frustration of fellow Democrats and others to the chagrin of legislative Republicans.

Kitzhaber's moratorium means Oregon joins, at least temporarily, four other states that have halted executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment. Illinois this year outlawed the death penalty after the discovery of wrongful convictions. New Mexico voters abolished it in 2009, two years after New Jersey's Legislature and governor did the same. A New York appeals court struck down a portion of the death penalty statute.

Politicians are often hesitant to discuss abolishing the death penalty for fear it will anger voters, said Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center. Kitzhaber's decision might give confidence to leaders in other states, he said.

California is considering a ballot measure next year to abolish capital punishment, and death penalty opponents are also hoping legislators in Maryland and Connecticut will repeal it.

Oregon prison officials said last week that they'd spent $42,000 preparing for Haugen's execution, not including legal fees, including $18,000 spent on lethal drugs. Kitzhaber said he wanted to wait until the legal process played out before announcing his decision.

One of Haugen's lawyers, Steve Gorham, said Haugen was still committed to being executed on Tuesday morning. Gorham said he hadn't spoken with the inmate since learning of the governor's decision.

"I'm sure he's not very happy right now. He was committed to exercising what he thought were his rights," Gorham said, noting that he was personally pleased with the governor's decision and calling it "courageous."

Prosecutors have long complained that death penalty cases take decades to make their way through the courts, but efforts to change the law have been stymied in the Legislature. Eight condemned inmates have been on death row since the 1980s.

"I do not believe for a moment that the voters intended to create a system in which those condemned to death could determine whether that sentence would be carried out," Kitzhaber said.

Oregon's constitution gives Kitzhaber authority to commute the sentences of all death row inmates, but he said he will not to do so because the policy on capital punishment is a matter for voters to decide.

Kitzhaber's reprieve will last until he leaves office. His term ends in January 2015, and he has not said whether he'll run for re-election.

Kitzhaber said he hopes his decision will prompt a public re-evaluation of the death penalty in Oregon and said he will advocate for a ballot measure that would make it illegal. The governor said he prefers murderers be given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

NEWS??: (Illinois) 2 GOP legislators propose separating Cook County from Illinois

--we all need a laugh once in awhile and this should do it. It is so stupid it is actually funny.--

By Staff reports
The Associated Press

DECATUR — Two Republican Illinois lawmakers say Chicago-style politics are dominating the state and they have a solution. 

State Reps. Bill Mitchell of Forsyth and Adam Brown of Decatur have proposed separating Cook County from Illinois and creating a 51st state. 

WAND-TV in Decatur reports the representatives held a press conference Tuesday in Decatur to talk about their proposal.  

Brown said Chicago is overshadowing the rest of the state. Mitchell says families in other parts of the state believe Chicago is “dictating its views.”

They’ve proposed Cook County, which is the second most populous county in the U.S., to become one state and the other 101 counties in Illinois to become another.

NEWS: (Will County) Law enforcement breakdowns allowed Will County fugitives to live free in Mexico

--Why is that anything involving screwed up investigations in Will County no longer surprises me?--

Story at Chicago Tribune

By David Jackson and Gary Marx
Chicago Tribune reporters
November 23, 2011

Furious at the county prosecutor's handling of fugitive cases, the FBI agent fired off an angry letter.

It described how a gang leader suspected in violent crimes had been taken into custody in Mexico, how the office of then-Will County State's Attorney Jeffrey Tomczak had been contacted but didn't return phone calls, and how the fugitive had then been released.

Then the agent made an astounding disclosure: The FBI was dropping pursuit of at least 10 other Will County suspects charged with murder, rape, child molestation and large-scale drug-trafficking.

As a result, efforts to capture those 11 fugitives were halted, even though authorities knew exactly where some of them were living in Mexico. Today, all of the suspects remain at large, the Tribune found.

"It makes my blood boil," said former Joliet police Chief Fred Hayes after learning from reporters last week how Will County's apparent lack of response led to the dismissal of warrants.

The newly obtained FBI letter from 2004 provides yet another example of the administrative breakdowns that cripple America's efforts to apprehend fugitives who cross U.S. borders to escape trial for serious felonies. The Tribune, in its investigative series "Fugitives from Justice," documented how failures at every level of the U.S. criminal justice system allowed suspects to escape and then crippled efforts to bring them to justice.

The FBI letter reveals how one botched case and bad relations between two agencies can squelch the search for numerous fugitives.

The Will County suspects whose federal warrants were dismissed include Antonio Sandoval, who fled to Mexico after he was charged in 1993 with fatally shooting a Joliet bar patron in the face, and Jose Cardenas, who was accused of molesting his daughter and then absconding with her across the Rio Grande border.

The anger of FBI officials was sparked by Tomczak's apparent failure to pursue the extradition of Joliet street gang leader Roman Medel Jr., now 39, who was charged in 1994 with attempted murder and kidnapping for allegedly beating two men with barbells and then shooting and wounding one of them.

Medel also was a suspect in a separate 1990 Joliet homicide of a man shot in the back while riding his bike near Medel's house, according to police and court records. He denied involvement.

"He was an extremely dangerous person that should have been hunted down and taken off the street for the safety of everyone," Hayes said. "It is troubling that law enforcement would allow this career criminal to continue being a thug out there — there's absolutely no excuse for that."

Mexican authorities arrested and held Medel in February 2004 after FBI agents located him in the central Mexican city of Leon after a decade-long manhunt.

All the FBI needed to begin the extradition process was paperwork and the green light from Tomczak. But FBI agent Ronald Reddy got no response when he telephoned Tomczak's staff repeatedly over the next three months, according to the FBI letter. That summer, Mexican authorities decided to release Medel.

"He was released because extradition proceedings did not occur in a timely fashion," the FBI letter to Tomczak said. "It is still not clear to the FBI as to why your office would not return telephone calls."

The letter stated that 11 federal warrants for Will County suspects were being dismissed, but a Tribune review of federal records found that there may have been more; at least five additional warrants were dismissed during that same time period.

Tomczak, who lost an election later that year and is now a private attorney, asserted that he never received the FBI letter and his staff was never contacted by the FBI about Medel or the other fugitive cases cited in the 2004 letter.

"I honestly believe that they never made the phone calls," Tomczak said. "I dispute the fact that no one took his calls. ... Why would somebody not drive down here? The special agents all have government cars, last I heard."

Tomczak added: "Can anyone really believe that the FBI would release 11 serious criminals because someone didn't return a phone call? I don't believe that's true. ... I honestly think this is a pass-the-buck kind of situation."

Now-retired FBI agent Reddy, who heads the recently formed Detroit Crime Commission, said he made the phone calls and never learned why Tomczak and his staff didn't respond.

"I worked my ass off on those guys," Reddy said. "You could tell from that memo that I was upset. I wanted to bring these people to justice."

Reddy added that the wholesale dismissal of the other federal warrants "was not done in protest," but because the FBI couldn't possibly pursue the extraditions without the cooperation of Will County prosecutors.

Chicago FBI spokesman Ross Rice said Reddy's supervisors felt they had no option but to dismiss the warrants and redeploy their limited manpower away from the fugitives' hunt to other public safety concerns.

"We have people flying airplanes into buildings. We have governors using their office for personal gain," Rice said. "If you never even get a call back, you have to assume that they're not interested in any of these cases, so why are we going to expend our limited resources on cases that won't be prosecuted?"

Even though the FBI dismissed federal warrants for the Will County fugitives believed to be in Mexico, those suspects are still charged with crimes in Will County and have active warrants in the U.S., so they can be returned to Will County if they ever re-enter the U.S. and run afoul of the law.

Still, as long as they remain across the border, the warrant dismissals mean America is not requesting their extradition from Mexico, and no authorities are looking for them there.

Charles Pelkie, a spokesman for Will County's current state's attorney, James Glasgow, said Glasgow's office is undertaking a "top-to-bottom" review of its international fugitive cases in response to disclosures in the Tribune series.

Prosecutors, he said, are reviewing whether they can still prosecute any of the fugitives whose warrants were dismissed by the FBI — and if so, will ask federal authorities to issue new warrants. Will County prosecutors also are examining how to reform their case management system to better track international fugitive cases, Pelkie said.

"Something like this just can't happen again," Pelkie said. "What happened under the previous administration clearly was unacceptable. There was a complete breakdown."

NEWS: (Elmwood Park) Hock named deputy chief among promotions

Story at Pioneer Press

Last Modified: Nov 18, 2011 06:39PM

The ranks of the police and fire department in Elmwood Park were recently filled with new promotions.

Andrew J. Hock is now the police department’s new deputy chief. He was sworn in at the Nov. 7 Elmwood Park Village Board meeting along with two other police officers who were promoted and one new hire to the Elmwood Park Fire Department.

Hock started out as a patrolman for the department in 1995 and worked his way up the ranks, being promoted to commander in 2004. He was born and raised in Elmwood Park and the job he’s had for the past 17 was not a hard choice to make.

“When I grew up here I just wanted to be a policeman,” he said.

“I tested (to become a patrolman) at other places, but I got called by Elmwood Park first,” he said. “Elmwood Park was where my heart was. It was my inspiration.”

His son, Brian, also has been an Elmwood Park police officer for the past three years. He said his son never told him of his intentions until he had taken the test at several police departments including Elmwood Park’s.

Hock said his son chose to do it that way because he didn’t want any preferential treatment.

“He’s made his own mark here,” Hock said. “He works hard and makes a lot of arrests.”

Hock, 46, said he’s getting accustomed to the responsibilities that go along with it.

“I’m trying to be very observant and not make too many drastic changes,” he said.

He’s been married 26 years and also has a daughter, Ashley, who is in college. Hock received an associate’s degree in criminology from Triton College.

Sgt. Michal Kmiecik also was sworn in as the new commander, filling Hock’s old position, and Patrolman Robert Kilsz was promoted to sergeant.

A lifelong resident of Elmwood Park as well, Kilsz is happy to take on the added responsibility.

“I look forward to serving my community,” he said. “It’s a new police department, a new chief and to me everything is growing. I believe I can be a positive influence with the changes taking place.”

Elmwood Park firefighter Kevin Will, who is on probation, was presented his badge at the meeting and sworn in as well.

Police Chief Frank Fagiano said he believes the promotions are warranted and will add to the productivity of the police department.

“I think they’ll do an outstanding job for the village,” he said. “They’ve worked very hard and they’ve earned it.”

Fagiano said he is looking for administrators who can think outside of the box and believes he’s found them in the recent promotions.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

PENSION: (Illinois) Lawmaker pensions - Full time benefits for a part time job

This FOX News St. Louis story was provided by the Illinois Police Institute.

It was it is as the politician in the story says.

Yet, they want to take away from the rest of us while they get a minimum $50,000.00 a year pension for life and free health care for life for a part time job. DISGUSTING!!

View the story **HERE**


NEWS: (Chicago) Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Sues City, Sun-Times Newspaper Over Daley Nephew Police Lineup

Updated: Monday, 21 Nov 2011, 7:38 PM CST
Published : Monday, 21 Nov 2011, 7:37 PM CST

Sun-Times Media Wire

Chicago - The Fraternal Order of Police is suing both the city and the Sun-Times over the publishing of photo lineups that included the names and faces of police officers with former Mayor Richard Daley’s nephew and his friends.

The Sun-Times published the photos in Monday’s newspaper with an article about how the lineups were conducted. The lineups included several police officers, then-Mayor Daley’s nephew, Richard J. Vanecko, and two of Vanecko’s friends.

Vanecko has been accused of punching David Koschman in a 2004 brawl. Koschman died 11 days later from brain injuries he suffered from the blow.

The paper also published the names of the officers in the lineup, along with their height, weight, hair color, eye color and dates of birth.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, alleges the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) had reason to expect the city would not release the photos and the Sun-Times would not publish them. It also claims the city was in breach of contract because of a shared collective-bargaining agreement, and that the city should have prevented the Sun-Times from publishing the photos.

The suit alleges the actions violated the officers’ privacy and endangered the safety of the officers. It seeks more than $50,000 for each officer, court costs and an injunction against the city and the Sun-Times to stop future publication of the photos.

Jim McDonough, attorney for Sun-Times Media, declined comment, and no one at the city could immediately be reached.

NEWS: (Illinois) Jesse White launches top-to-bottom review of disabled placard abuse

--1st offense;  6 month suspension of driver's license for misuse of a legal placard.
1st offense; Class 4 felony and automatic revocation of driver's license for using a fake placard.
Class 4 Felony DWLS if caught driving on a suspension for Placard Violations.

That should open some eyes.--

By Chris Fusco
Staff Reporter /
Last Modified: Nov 22, 2011 12:55PM

A top-to-bottom review of the state’s parking program for people with disabilities will begin in January, in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times investigation that found that more able-bodied people than ever are illegally using disabled-parking placards to park for free in metered spots in Chicago.

Secretary of State Jesse White on Tuesday announced the initiative, which follows Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and state Rep. Karen May (D-Highland Park) each proposing different ideas to stop the problem, which has been on the rise because of escalating parking-meter fees citywide. Emanuel has proposed increased fines for placard scofflaws within Chicago, while May is proposing that the Legislature end free parking in metered spots statewide for all but a select handful of disabled people.

White said the state’s newly created Safe Driver Advisory Council will begin tackling the issue in January. The secretary himself heads the 10-member panel, which also includes state legislators and representatives from traffic-safety groups.

White plans to ask disabled-rights groups, Emanuel’s office, May, judges and prosecutors to testify before the council about ways to improve the program. He personally wants the panel to consider stiffer penalties for people caught using a deceased person’s placard, proposing a $2,500 fine and longer driver’s license suspension.

A host of other issues will be on the table, too, White said, citing an example from the Sun-Times’ “Meter Cheaters” investigation.

“We also find placards that have been manufactured, purchased or bought . . . that are illegal,” White said. “You saw that case in the paper where the lady had Illinois license plates on the car, but she had a New York disability placard. Things like that, we just cannot tolerate.”

Statewide, there are more than 577,000 permanent-disability placards in circulation and tens of thousands more temporary-disability placards, which expire after no more than six months. Another 82,000-plus vehicles statewide have disability license plates.

The Sun-Times found that in Cook County, there is a placard in circulation for one in every 13 passenger vehicles. Because placards are issued to individuals, they easily can be transferred from car to car — a system that is rife for potential abuse given that Illinois law for decades has allowed disabled people to park for free all day at metered spots.

Besides announcing the Safe Driver Advisory Council’s plans, White also announced that the Secretary of State Police will launch their annual crackdown on people who abuse disabled-only parking spots at malls starting on “Black Friday,” traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.

PENSION: (Illinois) Illinois Public Pension Reform

For once a halfway decent discussion on public pension reform in Illinois on Chicago Tonight with Carol Marin.

Watch Chicago Tonight segment ***HERE***


Monday, November 21, 2011

UNION: (Indiana) Indiana Legislature set for new 'right-to-work' fight

Bosma, R-Indianapolis, maintained again Monday that GOP support for the proposal isn't about targeting unions.
--These proposals are all about targeting unions and nothing more.
Doing away with unions and union benefits allow employers to have access to more funds for CEO's to make bigger bonuses and also allows them to donate bigger sums to politicians.--

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS | The Republican leader of the Indiana House said Monday that passing a "right-to-work" proposal will be his top priority in the coming legislative session, setting up a possible repeat of a confrontation that sparked a five-week walkout by House Democrats.

House Speaker Brian Bosma and Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long stood with leaders of business groups during a Monday morning news conference at the statehouse ahead of the Legislature's Organization Day on Tuesday.

Bosma called the issue a "freedom campaign for Hoosier workers," saying he wanted to remove a barrier to job creation in Indiana by having it join 22 other states with such a law.

A legislative study committee voted along party lines last month to support a proposal that would prohibit workers from being required under labor contracts to pay union representation fees.

Opponents say the push is aimed at weakening unions and that such a law would depress wages and do nothing to attract good jobs.

Thousands of union members attended Statehouse rallies against Republican-backed labor bills during the Democratic boycott that brought legislative action to a halt and the state AFL-CIO is planning a protest during Tuesday's Organization Day events.

House Minority Leader Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said Monday that Republicans are "crushing job opportunities" with their focus on the "right-to-work" proposal.

Bosma, R-Indianapolis, maintained again Monday that GOP support for the proposal isn't about targeting unions.

"It is about giving all Hoosiers the freedom to choose a job, decide how their hard-earned money is spent and bring more employment opportunities to Indiana," Bosma said in a statement.

Bosma said the House — where Republicans hold a 60-40 majority — will try to act quickly on the issue after the legislative session starts Jan. 3, possibly even trying to push the bill through ahead of the Feb. 5 Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

Long, R-Fort Wayne, said "we have to do everything we can to push the envelope on economic development."

Long and Bosma said they briefed Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels on their plans, but would not say whether he was supporting them on the issue.

Daniels has said the state could see an economic boost from a "right-to-work" law, but has stopped short of endorsing it.

PENSION: (National) Lawmakers target NJ disability pensions

 --The answer here is not cutting the benefit. the answer is controlling the benefit better at the local level.
Adding a better, impartial evaluation process for the initial claim and yearly exams is a good start.
Punishing those employees that have legitimate claims because the lawmakers have allowed a system to stay in place that is easy to misuse in just wrong.--

Jason Method
Gannett Statehouse Bureau
9:54 PM, Nov. 20, 2011

TRENTON — Republicans and Democratic state legislators want to tighten rules for police disability pensions, which have risen sharply since two state Supreme Court rulings loosened qualifications.

A Republican proposal, expected to be introduced today, would reduce accidental disability payments to as low as 40 percent of salary, from the two-thirds of salary it is now.

It also would require police and firefighters to undergo further medical review in order to obtain disability benefits. If disabled workers are able to earn extra income in a new job, they would capped from making more than they did previously.

“No one wants to kick anyone out at all that truly deserves it, but we’ve always heard that it’s been abused,” said state Sen. Joseph Pennachio, R-Morris, who plans to sponsor the GOP bill.

Democrats, meanwhile, say they want to create a union-management board that would examine ways to tighten criteria for disability pensions and report back to the Legislature within six months.

Another Democratic bill would require recipients of accidental disability payments to undergo annual medical exams.

“The current system is not fair to those who justifiably rely on the disability pensions, those who receive pensions in general and, most of all, the taxpayers,” state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-1, said.

A story published in September in The Daily Journal and other Gannett newspapers in New Jersey showed how accidental disability awards have climbed. Some of those awards appear to be given for specious reasons: a slip and fall on a computer screw, unspecified anxiety, and a back injury from moving a park bench.

In 2007 and 2008 decisions, the state Supreme Court moved away from requiring a “great rush of force” was needed to qualify for accidental disability, and said a person could be disabled simply from an unexpected, identifiable event that occurred on duty.

The accidental disability pensions are lucrative for police and firefighters: They provide two-thirds of salary regardless of service time, and the payments are tax-free for life.

Gov. Chris Christie promised to have policy staffers consider ways to close loopholes in the system and propose a fix.

Rob Nixon, who represents the New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association, is concerned the Legislature won’t address the real issue: giving the pension board greater authority to deny questionable claims.

“Not a single one of those proposals solves the problem: that the Supreme Court changed the standard,” Nixon said. He said changing the rules now “means that a cop who got shot will get reduced benefits because someone else is a liar.”

PENSION: (National) Gov. signs law overhauling Mass. pensions

--No details on this "reform' yet but I bet there is no realized money savings for at least 10 to 15 years.--

Story at

November 18, 2011
Associated Press

Gov. Deval Patrick has signed into law an overhaul of the pension system for public employees.

The bill approved by the Legislature earlier this week is aimed at saving the state $5 billion over the next 30 years and reducing the state’s $17 billion unfunded pension liability.

Patrick said after a signing ceremony in his office that the new law will help to end pension abuses that “set everyone’s teeth on edge, including my own.’’

State Treasurer Steven Grossman said the state’s willingness to tackle the pension system helped to improve the state’s bond rating and lower borrowing costs.

Among other changes, the law raises the minimum state retirement age from 55 to 60 for state workers hired after April 2, 2012.

PENSION (National) R.I. Gov. Signs Pension Overhaul

“Tonight’s vote marks a turning point,” Chafee said after the vote.
--Turning point is right. Using 401(k) type retirement plans is going to result in more people needing help from the government in the long run.
401(k) plans are not safe, this was proven in 2008 when millions of retirees lost their their "retirement plans" when the market crashed.--

Story at The Bond Buyer

Friday, November 18, 2011
By Paul Burton

NEW YORK – Gov. Lincoln Chafee late Friday signed a sweeping public pension overhaul bill that Rhode Island’s legislature passed the night before.

After more than five hours of debate, the House of Representatives approved the bill, which Chafee and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo supported, by a 57-15 vote. The Senate approved the House version 32 to 2.

The bill creates a hybrid plan that merges conventional public defined-benefit pension plans with 401(k)-style plans. While some other states have implemented hybrid plans, Rhode Island’s would be the first to affect current employees, according to the Pew Center on the States.

It also includes a suspension of cost-of-living adjustment increases for retirees and raises the retirement age for employees not yet eligible for retirement.

“Tonight’s vote marks a turning point,” Chafee said after the vote. “We are committed to getting our fiscal house in order.”

The state’s pension plan in only 58.7% funded, according to Bloomberg data. On Aug. 1, 19,000-population Central Falls filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, citing an $80 million unfunded pension liability. Other municipalities and conduit issuers in the Ocean State have sustained bond rating downgrades in the aftermath of the filing.

“No one really wants to be dealing with it, but we had to,” Raimondo said.

Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s rate the state’s general obligation bonds at double-A, while Moody’s Investors Service rates them Aa2.

While providing financial relief for the state, the changes “may set a precedent for other U.S. states,” Fitch Ratings senior director Marcy Block said Friday.