government

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

DeKalb resident Misty Haji-Sheikh is entitled to some reimbursed attorney’s fees and costs in an Open Meetings Act case against Northern Illinois University. That’s according to a ruling from a DeKalb County judge this week.

Judge Bradley Waller ruled in November that NIU violated the Open Meetings Act. That's also when he ruled that former NIU President Doug Baker’s awarded severance package of more than $600,000 was null and void.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

The first phase of the DeKalb Police Department’s Safe Streets Initiative begins this week. That means some residents will need to get parking permits from the city soon to avoid getting ticketed or towed.

DeKalb police officials say overall crime decreased in the city, but the actual number of shootings increased due to a recent string of incidents in areas close to the Northern Illinois University campus. Visitors now aren’t permitted to park along Russell Road and Crane Drive between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

State of Illinois

Illinois State Democrats recently released their list of top ten laws going into effect after the New Year.

More than 200 Illinois laws will go into effect after January first. That includes sale stickers having to be removed from car windshields before going on the road. 

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Community input played a role in keeping the DeKalb Municipal Band operating at normal capacity for now.

The DeKalb City Council held a special meeting recently where they addressed potential budget cuts for the next year. That included the possibility of reduced funding for the DeKalb Municipal Band.

DeKalb Alderman David Jacobson says the band currently gets $60,000 annually when they usually only spend $50,000. He says the city agreed to cut just the $10,000 difference during the special meeting.

"Courtroom One Gavel" by Flickr User Beth Cortez-Neavel / (CC BY 2.0)

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in Gill v. Whitford, a Wisconsin case challenging partisan legislative maps.

Wendy Tam Cho, a University of Illinois political science professor, says this case is particularly important because it could determine the court’s role in future cases on gerrymandering. 

Flickr user Growinnc / "Practice makes perfect! #hairdo#school#perm#cosmetology" (CC V. 2.0)

Saturday is the last day for cosmetology professionals and teachers in Illinois to renew their licenses before the next cycle.

Renewal requirements include certain continuing education, but domestic violence training is not yet on the list. Those requirements start next year, but they still haven’t been explicitly outlined. 

Mary Ellen Schaid directs Safe Passage in DeKalb. She says the group already gave presentations to several local schools and salons on what to do if a client confides in them about domestic violence.

Page Limit Not A Problem For NIU Open Meeting Case

Sep 22, 2017
Katie Finlon / WNIJ

The usual length of a court document will not prevent either side from presenting its full argument in an Open Meetings Act case, according to a DeKalb County court ruling Friday.

Judge Bradley Waller says Misty Haji-Sheikh’s attorney may exceed the page limit for her argument. She says the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees violated the Open Meetings Act and did not notify the public of former president Doug Baker’s severance package, which was more than $600,000.

Public Comment Ends Soon On New DeKalb Transit Plan

Sep 22, 2017
Northern Illinois University

Residents can give input on the new DeKalb transit plan until Tuesday. It includes more frequent service overall, a line going to Cortland and more trips to the Elburn Metra train station throughout the week.

DeKalb Public Works director Tim Holdeman says the new plan suggests merging the Northern Illinois University bus line and the TransVAC lines, which currently serve Kishwaukee College students, DeKalb and Sycamore.

“There’s an inefficiency in having two bus systems serve generally the same population,” Holdeman said.

"AMZNbox_" by Flickr User Elvis Fool / (CC X 2.0)

Seattle-based online retailer Amazon has announced it is building a second headquarters for 50,000 employees. Cities all over the country -- including Chicago -- are bidding for the chance to get the headquarters.

Rauner says he’s involved in the Chicago bid, but also in the Saint Louis effort.

“Chicago is clearly the more important,” Rauner said, “but we've got to make sure that we’re positioned to benefit Illinois if St. Louis ends up being very competitive.”

State of Illinois

Illinois State Secretary of Education Beth Purvis will leave office on Friday. That's according to a news release from Governor Bruce Rauner's office.

Purvis will be joining a national nonprofit organization and overseeing educational philanthropy.

“Beth has been a tireless advocate for Illinois children and families,” Gov. Rauner said in the news release. “We are deeply grateful for her efforts.”

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A lawsuit between the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees and Misty Haji-Sheikh regarding former President Doug Baker’s resignation continues.

A DeKalb County judge extended the temporary restraining order barring NIU from taking further action on Baker’s severance package. The next hearing is scheduled for late November.

Brian Mackey

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is embarking on an eight-day trade mission to Japan and China later this week.

Until now, Rauner has spent more time criticizing the Illinois business climate than promoting it. Rauner says he wasn’t traveling to aggressively promote Illinois because he thought it was inappropriate.

There was no budget for two years, and Democrats were blocking his anti-union agenda. Even though Rauner didn’t get that passed, he’s now going to personally recruit companies abroad anyway.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

About 20 Illinois lawmakers so far have announced they are leaving the state legislature. For some, it's effective immediately. For others, it means they will not run for re-election -- and the list keeps growing.

But is this kind of turnover normal in Springfield?

State Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, recently announced he will not run again this coming term. He served for more than a decade in the Illinois Senate after he retired from a 33-year career in law enforcement. So, Bivins says, he thought 11 years was long enough for him to serve as a state senator.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

The libel case between the DeKalb police chief and a Crystal Lake man will continue Nov. 8.

DeKalb police chief Gene Lowery sued Thomas Salvi for more than $300,000 last year. Salvi sent e-mails to then-mayor John Rey claiming Lowery was an “aggressive thug” and “fraud” and should be fired.

Rey said he didn’t believe Salvi’s claims, according to court records. Salvi's legal team says there isn’t enough evidence that the claims ruined Lowery’s reputation or otherwise harmed him.

Wikipedia

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law Monday that some immigration lawyers say provides the strongest protections for immigrants of any state. 

The Illinois Trust Act says that local and state law enforcement officials will not detain immigrants solely because they may be undocumented.

The Republican governor signed it at a Mexican restaurant in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood.

“This bill takes us in a step continuing to be a welcoming state,” Rauner said. “This was not an easy bill to pass; let’s be clear.”

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Illinoisians eligible to vote will now automatically be registered when they get their driver’s license or another state I.D.

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill into law Monday. The measure received unanimous support from both Democrats and Republicans in Springfield.

Democratic State Senator Andy Manar sponsored the legislation.

“The bipartisan vote that was taken on this legislation was, when you think about it, quite stunning especially given the dynamic of what’s happening in Springfield today,” Manar said.

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.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A libel case involving the DeKalb police chief has been continued, with another hearing scheduled at the end of next month.  

DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery sued a Crystal Lake man in 2016 for saying what Lowery calls untrue things that could have cost him his job. Lowery is asking for $300,000 from Tom Salvi, who called Lowery an “aggressive thug” and a “fraud” in emails to then-mayor John Rey, who said he didn’t believe the allegations.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says if legislators fail to send him a budget by Friday, he'll extend a legislative special session until they “get the job done.''

A statewide property tax freeze demanded by Rauner as part of a deal to end the budget stalemate failed in the House during the eighth day of the special session.

It would have created a four-year freeze on the nation's next-to-highest property taxes. It would have exempted Chicago, the city's school system and 17 other financially distressed school districts.

Victor Yehling / WNIJ

You may have noticed signs about DeKalb’s administrative tow policy when you enter town. But why are they there?

DeKalb city attorney Dean Frieders says the signs are to ensure that the public is notified about DeKalb’s administrative tow policy. He says that’s because the city needs to publicly notify residents and visitors of the city-adopted policy by law.

United States Congress

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday that allows churches to become more active politically. Critics say it could lead to LGBTQ discrimination, but U.S. lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday that would prevent that discrimination – with several from Illinois as co-sponsors.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

An Illinois watchdog group takes a case against the Illinois High School Association to the state's highest court Tuesday. That’s regarding whether IHSA is subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

More than $55 million went back to Illinois municipalities from video gaming in 2016. But how do those communities use those funds?

Springfield Budget Director Bill McCarty says the city received about $1.5 million from video gaming last year. Those funds generally contribute to the city’s capital improvement projects, like sidewalk and street maintenance.

However, McCarty says, they haven’t had to dip into the video gaming money yet, thanks to a sales tax increase also contributing to the capital fund.

A Northern Illinois University professor was one of the hundreds of demonstrators at O’Hare International Airport last weekend. The protests were against President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions against people from majority-Muslim countries.

NIU education professor Joseph Flynn says he saw many walks of life take part in the O’Hare Airport demonstrations – including several different races and creeds and members of the LGBTQ community.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Top leaders in the Illinois Senate continue to negotiate on a "grand bargain" to end the state's budget standoff.

They left the Capitol on an 11-day break Thursday without voting on the proposals.

Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat, is negotiating with his Republican counterpart.

He told his colleagues: When the session resumes next month, come back ready to vote.

"The problems we face are not going to disappear. In fact, they're going to get more difficult every day,” Cullerton said.

U.S. Capitol
"United States Capitol" by Flickr User Cliff / (CC X 2.0)

GOP leaders in the House and Senate say torturing suspected terrorists is illegal, and that stand distances them from President Donald Trump's endorsement of the effectiveness of harsh interrogation techniques.

The U.S. has a legal ban on torture.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky tells reporters that virtually all GOP senators ``are comfortable with the state of the law on that issue.''

And House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin says: ``Torture's not legal. And we agree with it not being legal.''

Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Wisconsin could make billions of dollars if the state started charging tolls for drivers to use its interstate highways. That’s according to a recent study.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has appointed a new transportation secretary as he gears up for a budget battle over how to pay for roads.

Walker announced Tuesday that he has appointed Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dave Ross to serve as secretary of the Department of Transportation. Ross replaces Mark Gottlieb, who plans to resign effective Jan. 6.

Walker's announcement didn't offer any explanation for Gottlieb's resignation. Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said in an email to The Associated Press that Gottlieb plans to retire.

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

Repeat drunken drivers will face tougher penalties in Wisconsin starting with the new year.

Gov. Scott Walker signed a law in April that makes a fourth drunken driving offense a felony regardless of when it's committed. Currently a fourth offense is a felony only if committed within five years of a third offense.

The law also increases the maximum sentence for fifth and sixth offenses from three years to five. Maximum sentences for seventh, eighth and ninth offenses will increase from five years to seven and a half.

Flickr user Beverly & Pack and Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley / "Taps, Bugle, Army, Military Funeral, Arlington National Cemetery" (CC v 2.0)

Illinois students in grades six through twelve will be able to get excused absences from school for playing Taps at military funerals starting next month. 

Republican Rep. Donald Moffitt says it can be hard for military families to find trumpet players to perform Taps.

“The pool of Taps players isn't real big,” Moffitt said. “If they feel that it would be more meaningful to have a live playing of taps, this definitely would increase the potential of [having] someone available.” 

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