Associated Press


Illinois unemployment rate fell in September but the state lost jobs.

The Department of Employment Security said Friday in its monthly report that unemployment fell to 5.4 percent in September. That was down from 5.6 percent in August but still higher than the 5.1 percent national rate.

The department pointed out that Illinois lost a net 6,900 jobs in September. Director Jeff Mays says the state's job growth is "dismal.''

Employment sectors that grew in September included a gain of 2,100 positions in government and a net 1,400 new jobs in education and health care.

Flickr user Abulic Monkey / "that's methadone, not to be confused with the 'killer' drug mephedrone, got that kids?" (CC BY 2.0)

A Wisconsin legislative committee is poised to vote on three anti-heroin bills today.

The bill would require opiate dispensers to enter prescriptions in a statewide database within 24 hours. It would also create methadone and pain clinic registries.

Treatment programs using methadone would also be required to report the number of people receiving the medication, plans for tapering patients off it, and relapse rates.

State representative John Nygren, a Republican, introduced the bills. His daughter is struggling with heroin addiction.

Vijay Kumar Koulampet, CC BY-SA 3.0 / via Wikimedia Commons

The Wisconsin state Senate's health committee is set to vote today on a bill that would outlaw research using tissue obtained from aborted fetuses.

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers and private scientists oppose the measure. They argue it could end ground-breaking medical research that relies on fetal tissue cells.

Republicans amended the bill to outlaw research on fetal tissue cell lines obtained from abortions after Jan. 1 this year, but the researchers say they need new lines.

It's unclear how much support the bill has in the Senate.

Nominating conventions for the 2016 presidential race are nearly a year away, but names of potential Illinois delegates to both the Republican and Democratic meetings are popping up.
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that presidential campaigns have begun putting together their delegate slates.
Republican State Rep. Raymond Poe of Springfield backs former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. So does former GOP Gov. Jim Edgar.

Flickr user Tim (Timothy) Pearce / "Prison cell with bed inside Alcatraz main building san francisco california" (CC BY 2.0)

A federal judge has granted class-action status to a lawsuit brought by deaf inmates alleging the Illinois Department of Corrections violates their civil rights.

The complaint, first filed in 2011, claims deaf and partially deaf prisoners have limited access to sign language interpreters, hearing aids and other accommodations.

Attorneys say the result is exclusion because the prisoners can't communicate. That means effectively missing religious services, court-mandated classes, medical visits and in some cases, emergency evacuations.

Illinois House Democrats

Illinois Democrats started the process of choosing a replacement for the late state Rep. Esther Golar of Chicago.

Alderman Raymond Lopez says Democratic committeemen from the 6th House district will meet Monday to consider candidates to serve the remainder of Golar's term. He says he wants to make sure someone who echos Golar's values is selected.

Golar represented parts of Chicago's southwest side from 2005 until her death last month at age 71. She was known as an advocate for the poor and middle class and for breaking into song on the House floor.

Fox Lake Police Department

A review of personnel records from 50 police agencies working on the unsolved shooting death of Fox Lake Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz has found that more than $300,000 has been spent on the investigation.

The Daily Herald analysis found almost two-thirds, about $196,000, was related to overtime. The review also found that departments with employees assigned to the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force had some of the highest costs.

Gliniewicz's Sept. 1 shooting death prompted a manhunt. Authorities later confirmed he was shot twice with his own weapon.


An advisory board has voted to add eight health conditions, including chronic pain syndrome, autism, and post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of illnesses that can be treated by marijuana in Illinois.

The state's Medical Cannabis Advisory Board made the recommendations Wednesday at a meeting in suburban Chicago.

The suggestions next need approval by Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah, an appointee of Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner has sought to increase pressure on majority Democrats to end Illinois' unprecedented budget stalemate.

In a speech in suburban Chicago Wednesday, the Republican said Democrats should either agree to some of his pro-business agenda or pass a balanced budget, and a tax hike, without his support.  

He says: "Time's up." 

But the day's events seemed to only emphasize how far apart the two sides remain.  

Democrats refuse to take up Rauner's priorities, saying they will hurt working families and Illinois' most vulnerable residents.  

Bright Directions

The state of Illinois is reducing fees on its Bright Directions 529 college savings plan. It’s meant to help families put more of their investment toward rising tuition costs. 

According to the state treasurer's office, the change eliminates a setup fee and quarterly maintenance fee, and cuts management fees by almost half. Officials say more than 100,000 accounts will benefit from the new terms, saving investors nearly $3.6 million annually.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says he plans to stay in his job as long as he can.

The police chief spoke to reporters Tuesday, a day after a group of mostly black aldermen called for him to step down.

McCarthy testified before some of those same aldermen at an afternoon budget hearing.

Most of the aldermen demanding McCarthy's firing are African-American. They contend McCarthy has had plenty of time to reduce street violence plaguing the city and hasn't done so.

Twitter / ECC

A suburban Chicago community college was recognized by state officials for completing a campus safety initiative. 

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency announced Elgin Community College received the “Ready to Respond Campus” designation.

The goal of the program is to help students, administration and faculty prepare for hazards and emergencies. That includes campus shootings.

To get the status, a college or university has to develop a violence prevention plan and start a campus outreach and education campaign.

Vijay Kumar Koulampet, CC BY-SA 3.0 / via Wikimedia Commons

A Wisconsin state Senate committee is holding a public hearing on a Republican bill that overhauls the state's 110-year-old civil service system. It would affect about 30,000 state employees.

The bill would do away with the civil service exam, speed up the hiring process, define “just cause” for disciplining employees and eliminate “bumping” rights that protect more experienced workers from losing their jobs.


The head of a suburban Chicago school district that evacuated because Legionella was found says there is a lack of public health guidance for schools to help deal with the bacteria.

Elgin Area School District U-46 CEO Tony Sanders tells the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald that he didn't receive guidance from state or federal agencies on when it was safe to reopen schools and it "was incredibly frustrating.''

The district evacuated and shut three schools for three days last month after high levels of Legionella were found in water cooling towers.  

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Federal prosecutors say former Congressman Aaron Schock has been deceptive in complying with a subpoena. But Schock’s attorneys are disputing those claims.

Federal prosecutors said in mid-September Schock “deceptively refused” to hand over all the documents they subpoenaed as part of an investigation into his activities.

In a 23-page court filing yesterday, Schock's lawyers asserted attorney-client privilege and other considerations should keep some records out of the hands of prosecutors.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is set to give the opening address to her Midwest counterparts aimed at preventing and addressing gender-based violence.

The two-day conference will cover issues including domestic abuse and sexual assaults on college campuses.

Madigan is the chairwoman of the Midwest region's National Association of Attorneys General. The group is comprised of attorneys general from 11 states.

Madigan helped draft legislation that requires college campuses to have policies about reporting incidents and notifying survivors of their rights.

State of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's approval rating among the state's voters is still falling even after his exit from the presidential race last week. 

A Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday, Sept. 30, shows Walker's job approval rating is 37 percent.  That is down from 39 percent in August, when he was in the midst of his failed presidential run.   62 percent said they would not like to see Walker run for a third term as governor in 2018.

State of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's job approval rating dropped to record lows the month after he formally announced his run for president. A Marquette University Law School poll to be released today will assess how residents feel about Walker since he abruptly dropped out of the race last week.

Walker says he plans to refocus his energy on being governor and traveling around the state.

Walker spent little time in Wisconsin during his presidential run, which officially began on July 13th. But Walker was traveling extensively around the country all year before that.

Illinois State Museum / state of Illinois

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is set to close state museums and a sport-shooting complex to the public because of the budget crisis. But most staff will still report to work. 

The Illinois State Museum in Springfield and four satellite locations -- along with the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta -- will close today.

Rauner's office initially sent layoff notices to more than 100 workers at those sites in an effort to save about $5 million. But unions sued, saying the layoffs violated their contract.


If it felt like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker did not spend much time in the state after announcing his run for president…it's because he didn't.

Walker's official calendar for July was released to The Associated Press under Wisconsin's open records law. It shows Walker spent one day that month in Wisconsin on official business after launching his presidential run July 13.

That one day was to attend a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation board meeting and to sign a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White says his office will suspend mailing reminder notices on renewing motor vehicle registrations because there's still no state budget.

White said Monday that interrupting the mailing service will save about $450,000 a month. 

White sent Gov. Bruce Rauner a letter last week warning of potential major problems at government facilities related to the budget standoff. He says vendors aren't being paid and are threatening to suspend services.

White also worries that utilities could be shut off at the state Capitol in Springfield.

The Chicago Tribune is suing Mayor Rahm Emanuel over claims he violated open records laws by failing to disclose personal emails and texts used to conduct city business.

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin would no longer be eligible for about $3.5 million a year in federal funding under a bill before the state Assembly.

The measure up for a vote Thursday seeks to have the state take control of the federal Title X money that currently all goes to Planned Parenthood.

An effort to identify the remains of young men murdered by serial killer John Wayne Gacy in the 1970s has led to a break in an unrelated case of a previously unidentified teenager found shot to death in San Francisco 36 years ago.

The Cook County Sheriff's Office will announce Wednesday that tests have revealed a "genetic association'' between the teenager and the DNA of a woman whose half brother, Andre Drath, went missing decades ago.


Officials in Elgin say about 2,900 students were evacuated after higher-than-normal levels of Legionella bacteria were found in cooling towers at three schools.

School District U-46 spokeswoman Mary Fergus says the Wednesday morning evacuations affected Eastview Middle School, Larkin High School, Gifford High School and district offices located at Gifford. The levels were found during annual air quality testing of the schools' cooling towers. She says no students were ill.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office is warning lawmakers that the Republican will veto a $3.8 billion spending bill pending in the Illinois House.

Lisa Ryan

Two public-employee unions say the state has agreed to delay layoffs of Illinois State Museum staff, conservation police officers and other state workers.

Jenna Dooley, WNIJ

Illinois agriculture officials say a new disease is affecting corn in the state.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture said Monday that the disease tar spot has been confirmed in Illinois' Bureau, DeKalb and LaSalle counties.

Agriculture director Philip Nelson doesn't anticipate an impact on yields this late in the season but he says farmers should report any suspected findings to prevent spreading.

Flickr user Lindsey G "Beer Trio Horizontal" CC BY 2.0 /

The Illinois Secretary of State's office has released data that show that there are more than 5,000 Illinoisans who were convicted of drunken driving four times and had their licenses revoked.


A former administrator for Bourbonnais stepped down from his post after the village board found out he sold ammunition to police without proper authorization.

Gregg Spathis stepped down from the village post in July. He owns a business called Sword, Weapons, Ammunition & Tactical Support in Manteno.

Mayor Paul Schore says it appears Spathis was trying to save the village money, but it should have been done through the “proper channels.”