Illinois

Chicago Police Department

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is poised to receive a new kidney from his son.

The superintendent who disclosed in January after suffering a public dizzy spell that he's on a waiting list for a kidney transplant told reporters on Wednesday that 25-year-old Daniel Johnson would be the donor of the kidney.

Johnson did not want to say yet exactly when he will have the surgery but department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said it will be done within the next two weeks.

Jessie Schlacks / WNIJ

Hundreds of spectators flocked to the Northern Illinois University courtyard near Davis Hall for the solar eclipse.

Patrons ranged in age and background. Some used eclipse glasses provided by NIU's STEM Department, while others made it a do-it-yourself project. 

Homemade viewing devices included cut-out cereal boxes and paper plates adorned with tinfoil. 

Nicole Henryson is an NIU history professor who brought her kids to work today. She said she's grateful to witness her second solar eclipse as an adult. 

"Groceries" by Flickr User eddie welker / (CC X 2.0)

Some 40,000 low-income students at community colleges around the state could have become eligible for federal food assistance, or SNAP benefits, from a measure approved by members of both parties in the Illinois legislature.

But late Friday, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a portion of the bill, saying that identifying and notifying those students wasn’t the "best use" of limited time and money. Rauner said he supports the underlying effort to help students. 

Woodstock Is Home To The Most Apple Orchards In Illinois

Aug 18, 2017
"Apples" by Flickr User fotografeleen / (CC X 2.0)

Northern Illinois farms are gearing up for the apple and berry-picking season.

Woodstock tops the state with six orchards; city council member Maureen Larson says there are many reasons why the groves are so concentrated there.

“It’s a long term investment [for farmers]," she said. "You don’t plan an apple tree and turn around and start making profit right away. These are people who are invested in our county and our community."

The groves bear more than 20 different apple types. Larson says that's more than what's available at local grocery stores. 

"Pills" by Flickr User Michael Chen / (CC X 2.0)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has approved regulations that require pharmacists to counsel customers who seek to fill prescriptions for new medications or need changes to longtime prescriptions.

The higher counseling standard comes after a Chicago Tribune investigation in December revealed pharmacies frequently failed to warn customers about severe drug interactions. Pharmacies have been required only to offer to counsel customers.

"Flood" by Flickr User Howard Lake / (CC X 2.0)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has asked federal responders to join state officials in assessing the damage in four counties after flooding last month.

Rauner's office said Thursday that workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Illinois Emergency Management Agency and other groups are expected to start damage assessments on homes and businesses Friday morning.

The assessments will be done in Cook, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties. They will continue through the weekend until they're complete.

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has officially completed his 15-month prison sentence and is no longer being monitored by law enforcement.

Bureau of Prisons records indicate that Wednesday was the end of Hastert's period in federal custody. The Lake County Sheriff's Office says it stopped its electronic monitoring of the 75-year-old Wednesday morning. He now begins two years of probation.

Hastert pleaded guilty to banking violations in a hush-money case that revealed he sexually abused at least four high school students. 

Rockford Police Department

The Rockford Police Department has warned people in the past that, just because something -- like a string of alleged shootings -- is called in, the call may not be classified that way.

Now the place where that information will be posted will change, because the Illinois data portal that hosted the information will go offline indefinitely this year to undergo web maintenance. 

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Several Illinois communities, including Geneva, held vigils Monday night in response to protests in Charlottesville, Va., becoming violent.

About 80 people sang and shared poems at the Geneva vigil organized by resident Jeannie Scown. She says she organized the event because she’s had enough of white nationalist-, neo-Nazi- and Ku Klux Klan-affiliated people being part of President Donald Trump’s cabinet and presidency, even though he’s denied any ties himself.

Organizers Gear Up For Annual 'Rockford Day' Events

Aug 15, 2017
Jenna Dooley

The date is "8-15," which also denotes the area code of the Rockford area.

It's the second annual celebration of "Rockford Day." The campaign intends to bolster community spirit and bring in more visitors to the city.

Events begin this morning at 8:15 sharp, when a French artist will unveil her 2018 calendars based on paintings she made of the city. 

"Swings" By Flickr User halfrain / (CC X 2.0)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation that makes it illegal to expel toddlers from preschools.

Backers of the new law point to a study that says toddlers and other Illinois preschoolers are expelled at a rate three times greater than their older, school-age counterparts.

“I just want you to let that sink in.”

State Rep. Juliana Stratton is a Democrat from Chicago.

“When you see expulsion in early years, it leads to higher suspension and expulsion rates in later grades."

Flickr user Inventorchris / "IL - Northern Illinois University Campus Police K-9 Unit," cropped (CC BY-NC 2)

Northern Illinois University police officials and DeKalb fire officials say they recently completed a first as far as emergency training sessions go.

The training instructed first responders on how to care for police K-9 units in the event of an emergency.

DeKalb Deputy Fire Chief Jeff McMaster says first responders complete required Emergency Medical Services training every month touching on various subjects. But this time around was a little different.

“We’ve never had this type of training before, so it was new, it was fresh and very engaging,” McMaster said.

Hemophilia.org

The state of Illinois has cut in half the number of insurers in its Medicaid managed care program.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services announced Friday it has selected six insurers to participate in the overhauled program, down from the 12 currently participating. The insurers administer Medicaid benefits under the managed care program.

The insurers remaining in the program for the next four years are Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Harmony Health Plan, IlliniCare Health, Meridian Health, Molina Healthcare and CountyCare Health Plan.

An Illinois judge has refused a request by Dennis Hastert to bar reporters' cameras and recording devices from court in a May lawsuit accusing the ex-House speaker of sexually abusing a boy in a bathroom when he was a fourth-grader in the 1970s.

The accusation wasn't part of a criminal hush-money case against the 75-year-old Republican that sent him to prison for more than a year. That criminal case revealed Hastert abused at least four boys when he coached at Yorkville High School outside Chicago.

Death Cafe: A Lively Conversation On A Grave Topic

Aug 11, 2017
Credit Lynne Staley

When Laurie Jones was 10 years old, her older sister died suddenly of a heart attack at school.

Jones recalls being called down to the principal's office with her brothers and being told they were going home early that day. She remembers thinking that maybe her parents were taking them on a surprise vacation.

Jones, now 55, is no stranger to talking about her sister’s passing. But talking about it in a room full of strangers is something she never thought she would do.

"School Supplies" by Flickr User Nick Amoscato / (CC X 2.0)

Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed a law that makes state government purchasing less cumbersome.

The Republican signed the measure Wednesday in Urbana at the University of Illinois.

The law eliminates administrative delays for universities. It also allows government agencies to enter joint-purchasing agreements to increase cost-saving buying power.

The measure began in the Senate as part of the “grand bargain'' budget compromise laid out last winter by Democratic Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago and former Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont.

Illinois.gov

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner held a public signing Monday in Chicago for a law that requires annual cyber security training for executive branch employees.

State of Illinois

If you're old enough to drive in Illinois, you're now old enough to be an organ and tissue donor.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a law Tuesday authorizing 16- and 17-year-olds to join the statewide registry.

Republican Rauner says there are more than 4,700 people in Illinois alone awaiting organ transplants. About 300 a year die waiting.

The "Drive for Life Act" allows anyone 16 or older to join the organ and tissue donor registry when he or she gets a driver's license or state ID. Parents and guardians have the right to revoke consent until a teen is 18.

CPS To Lay Off Nearly 1,000 Staffers

Aug 7, 2017
CPS

Nearly 1,000 Chicago Public Schools employees — including 356 teachers — are getting pink slips due to projected decreases in student enrollment and program changes, the district announced on Monday.

CPS said this is the lowest number of teacher layoffs in a decade. High schools, which are seeing the greatest enrollment declines in the district, are the hardest hit. High schools will lose 466 support staff and 116 teachers. Historically, 60 percent of laid off teachers are rehired elsewhere in the district, CPS said.

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner to take a more active role in paying down the state’s unpaid bills.

Illinois's new budget authorizes the state to issue bonds to begin paying down its debts, but that process has to start with Rauner’s budget office.

Mendoza, a Democrat, basically said the Republican administration is dragging its feet.

“Every day that goes by without the capital from the new bonds being issued is costing taxpayers an additional $2 million a day," she said.

Illinois Times

A recent survey shows that Illinois residents carry the 14th highest amount of student debt among all 50 states.

The study, compiled by WalletHub, based its rankings on two general sets of data. The first set relates directly to student debt, such as debt’s share of student income, as well as how many debts have gone into default. The other set of data measured potential ways to alleviate this debt, such as availability of student jobs, grants, and paid internships.

Jessie Schlacks / WNIJ

Statistics show that violent crime in the city of Rockford has dipped over time, but perception doesn’t always match data. On this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Jessie Schlacks looks at frontline efforts to fight crime in the city:

Safety Starts At Home

“...Or you can put it on the window. When you raise the window, it breaks it, so that would give the ‘wooh’ real loud noise, and hopefully scare the intruder away. Those are only like nine bucks.”

“Yeah, but that’s perfect.”

Former Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock's attorneys accuse federal investigators of misconduct in their probe of the Republican and want the charges against him dismissed.

In a motion filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, Schock's lawyers claim prosecutors made false and misleading statements of fact to witnesses concerning Schock's conduct. They say the statements influenced witness testimony and the grand jury's understanding of the charges they were asked to bring.

"The Fireball" by Flickr User PJ Nelson / (CC X 2.0)

The state of Illinois says it's in the process of lifting its suspension of the operation of amusement rides similar to the one involved in a deadly accident at the Ohio State Fair.

The Illinois Department of Labor on Tuesday said the suspension, however, remains on the “Fire Ball'' ride. That ride killed one man and injured seven other people when it broke at the Ohio fair last week.

Flickr user Michael Chen "Pills" (CC BY 2.0) bit.ly/1RgH2Na

Illinois consumers who buy coverage through the Affordable Care Act exchange could see prices increase by as much as 43 percent next year.

The Chicago Tribune reports that several health insurance carriers proposed double-digit increases in rates released Thursday under what's often referred to as the “Obamacare'' exchange. Health Alliance Medical Plans, which offered coverage mostly in central and southern Illinois this year, is proposing rate increases of as much as 43 percent.

Two Area GOP Representatives Not Seeking Re-Election

Jul 31, 2017

Republican State Representatives Bob Pritchard of Hinckley and Barbara Wheeler of Crystal Lake announced on Monday that they will not seek re-election next term.

According to a news release, Pritchard said some state challenges result from representatives serving too long and not being open to compromise on difficult issues. 

State of Illinois

Lawmakers in Springfield quickly adjourned after day two of a special session to resolve how the state funds schools.

The House and Senate met briefly but didn't take up any action.

Gov. Bruce Rauner summoned lawmakers with the task of resolving a fight over a new funding calculation; the Senate is holding off on sending it to Rauner.

He says he'll veto parts of the bill that give additional money for Chicago Public Schools.

Rauner chastised the Senate for not sending the bill already.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are among the Illinois politicians criticizing President Donald Trump's decision to bar transgender people from serving in the military.

Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran who lost both legs after her helicopter was shot down in 2004. The Democratic senator said Wednesday that she "didn't care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender or anything else." She said the policy is "counterproductive to our national security."

"Money" By Flickr User Pictures of Money / (CC BY 2.0)

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner kicked off a series of special sessions by signing a measure that will limit how much lawmakers will be paid.

The measure halts increases in salaries and their mileage reimbursements. Rauner said it was an example of legislators working together, since the idea had received wide support.

“We're announcing a step in the right direction to protect Illinois taxpayers, I want to thank the members of the General Assembly who came together on a bi-partisan basis to pass this legislation,” he said.

illinois.gov

An auction of unclaimed property worth $113,500 at the Illinois State Fair will be previewed in coming weeks in Springfield and Chicago.

State Treasurer Michael Frerichs says items include a signed, 1983 Ryne Sandberg baseball card; souvenir medallions from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago; a Hohner 6-sided "paddle wheel" harmonica; and coins from the 1622 Spanish shipwreck of the Atocha .

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