Around Illinois -- May 14

May 14, 2012
  • O’Hare cargo deal to create thousands of jobs
  • Will legislature adjourn on time?
  • Student loan rate hike hits Illinois hard
  • Police mark one year in search for boy
  • Ponzi schemer must repay and do time

O'Hare cargo deal expected to create many jobs

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that a huge cargo center will be developed on the northeast edge of O'Hare International Airport, creating thousands of jobs, according to Crain's Chicago Business.

The mayor said an agreement has been reached on a deal in which Aeroterm LLC will develop a $200 million cargo facility on 65 acres not far from a recently opened runway. The city will chip in $62 million in airport funds for the project. Aeroterm, which already operates some cargo facilities at the airport, will put up $130 million.

Emanuel said the project would create 1,200 construction jobs and 1,200 permanent, on-site cargo jobs that would spur another 10,000 related positions throughout the Chicago area.

The first phase includes a building with cargo and office space and a new taxiway connecting it with the rest of the project. The City Council must grant formal approval.

Lawmakers aim for budget, adjournment

Illinois' General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn by the end of the month.  But first, they need to pass a budget.

For months, groups of legislators have been meeting to try to find how they can cut two of the state's biggest expenses -- pensions and Medicaid.

Most state agencies will have to cut their budgets by 9 percent. 

"Right now we're currently going through line by line," said Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, who's on the House Public Safety Appropriations committee. "Then there's a lot of variables to take into account."

Variables like whether the governor will go ahead with his plans to close a pair of state prisons, and institutions for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill. And whether legislators will be able to cut a quarter of the state's Medicaid expenses.

The entire spending plan is predicated on making those cuts to the healthcare program for the poor. If it doesn't happen, that means Rita and other legislators will have to resume going through, line by line, to identify even more cuts to public safety and education.

"Well, why would you be concerned, we've got two and a half weeks left,” said Rep. Joe Lyons, a D-Chicago. “We've got all the time in the world to fix our problems here in the state of Illinois.”

Lyons says when push comes to shove, he predicts lawmakers will get it done by the end of the month.

He says they have a head start; in a key vote last week, both chambers approved taking away state government retirees' free health insurance premiums.   But the outstanding pension and Medicaid issues are major.

365,000 student-loan holders face rate jump

The discussion in Congress over whether to block a doubling of student loan interest rates could hit Illinois borrowers hard, according to federal officials.

"In Illinois, you're talking about more than 365-thousand borrowers who would be affected,” said John White, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the federal Education Department, “and an average of $1,000 or more added to the cost of their loan unless Congress acts before July first."

The interest rate on Stafford Loans has been stable at nearly 3.5 percent for five years, because Congress set the rate during the height of the financial crisis to keep college more affordable. But come July, the interest rate could jump to nearly 7 percent.  

The House has already voted to extend the current lower interest rate, but there are disagreements over how to pay for the difference. Republicans want more spending cuts, while Democrats prefer bringing in higher revenue.

White says it's also an economic issue for the country, which needs skilled workers whether they go to college or vocational training. He says the higher cost of loans could force many young people to give up furthering their education. 

"Just about every job you can think of requires some sort of post secondary education at the community college, the trade school or industry certification,” White said. “If the expense doubles or becomes a barrier, fewer and fewer youth and adults are going to be able to get the skills they need to advance in their job or career."

Aurora police mark a year in Pitzen search

Aurora Police released the last five video clips of the late Amy Fry-Pitzen and her son Timmothy one year after the boy, then six years old, was taken from his school and on a two-day vacation by his mother before she took her own life.

The video, from various surveillance cameras, includes four clips taken at the Key Lime Cove Resort in Gurnee on May 12, 2011, and one taken the next day at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells.

Aurora Police are renewing appeals to northwestern Illinois residents to search their properties for anything that may help pinpoint what happened to the boy. Forensics on residue found on the mother’s SUV indicated the vehicle stopped for a time on a gravel shoulder, road or turnout near a grassy meadow or field with birch and oak trees in the general area. There is also a strong likelihood that there is a pond, small stream, or creek in the area.

The meadow is most likely in Northwestern Illinois, with Lee and Whiteside Counties as the most likely locations.  However, other area counties cannot be ruled out.

Missing items that may yield clues include Timmothy’s Spider Man backpack and Amy’s cell phone and I-Pass device. 

Pictures of several of the items are posted on the City of Aurora website at under the “Police Department” tab and on the Aurora Police Facebook page.  Anyone who may have information is asked to contact Aurora Police or dial 911 for local authorities.

Ponzi schemer owes $10.2 million plus prison time

A former Elk Grove Village resident pleaded guilty today to perpetrating a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme and was ordered to pay more than $10 million in restitution.

Kevin Carney, 51, entered the plea in DuPage County Circuit Court various charges of theft, mail fraud, wire fraud and securities fraud. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison and ordered to pay $10.2 million to more than 300 victims who lost money in his criminal scheme.
Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan said Carney promised a 20-percent monthly return on investments to snare victims in 20 different states and the District of Columbia between January 2007 through October 2008.

Carney is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence in a separate case that involved a similar scam perpetrated on victims who invested with him after October 2008.