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Wisconsin.gov

The race to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin’s Second District, which includes Beloit and much of Rock County,  has turned into a nasty fight between legislative colleagues, one championing experience and pragmatism, the other touting passion and exuberance.

Blagojevich fundraiser dodges prison time

Jul 18, 2012

Ali Ata donated $50,000 to Rod Blagojevich. In return he was appointed the executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority, a job that paid $125,000 a year.

Ata pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his relationship with the corrupt Blagojevich fundraiser and advisor Tony Rezko. But prosecutors say Ata began cooperating during Rezko's trial and ended up being a key witness.

On the stand Ata detailed a meeting where he gave Rezko a $25,000 contribution.

Federal prosecutors in Chicago contend that longtime Springfield powerbroker William Cellini deserves to go to prison for up to eight years.

A federal jury convicted Cellini in November of conspiring to shake down the Oscar-winning producer of "Million Dollar Baby" for a contribution to imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign. Cellini is scheduled to be sentenced July 23.

Jesse Jackson Jr. Getting Treated For 'Mood Disorder'

Jul 12, 2012

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is under intensive medical treatment for a "mood disorder," his office announced in a brief statement Wednesday, more than a month after the Chicago Democrat quietly went on medical leave of absence.

The two candidates are echoing thoughts from their respective parties when it comes to the Bush-era tax cuts.

Thomas Boken Jr. of DeKalb will be on the general election ballot as a Democratic candidate for the 90th House District seat being vacated by state Rep. Jerry Mitchell, R-Sterling, who is retiring after serving for 18 years.

The State Officers Electoral Board on Monday rejected an objection to Boken’s candidacy filed by Lee County Republican Party Chairman Greg Witzleb had objected to 178 signatures on Boken’s petitions.

Illinois State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, doesn’t expect lawmakers to act on pension reform until after the Nov. 6 general election, though Gov. Pat Quinn said they should be ready to return to Springfield this summer to work on the contentious issue.

A member of the governor’s pension reform committee, Nekritz told the Daily Herald editorial board “it’s not ideal” to delay the issue until after the election.

www.ilga.gov

A special legislative panel is scheduled to hold its final disciplinary hearing against indicted State Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago, next Thursday, but Smith's attorneys want that timeline pushed back.

Smith was arrested in March on charges that he accepted a $7,000 bribe in exchange for helping a day care center get a state grant.

Although he's pleaded not guilty in federal court, there's no requirement that the General Assembly wait for a final verdict. The Illinois House is free to mete out punishment -- including taking away his seat.

Jacqui Stephens / WNIJ

The leader of a not-for-profit think tank says now is the time for Illinois citizens to push their legislators toward a more fair tax system.

Republicans in the redrawn 90th Illinois House District are attempting to prevent Thomas Boken Jr. of DeKalb from appearing on the November ballot to oppose Tom Demmer of Dixon for retiring state Rep. Jerry Mitchell’s seat.

Rep. Jackson off on medical leave

Jun 26, 2012

Few details are being provided about the unexpected medical leave of absence that U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Chicago, began on June 10.

The three-sentence statement says Jackson went on medical leave just over two weeks ago. It says Jackson "asks that you respect his family's privacy."

A spokesman says the congressman is being treated for exhaustion. He had no further comment. Jackson's district offices remain open.

A southern Illinois priest is being ousted for improvising part of his services.

Bishop Edward Braxton of the Belleville Diocese has told the Rev. Bill Rowe he's now considered retired and must leave the rectory at St. Mary Parish in Mount Carmel on July 10.

Rowe's long-stated practice of changing portions of the liturgy to make them easier to understand didn't become public until February. That came after church leaders in Rome revamped the liturgy to be based on earlier Latin versions.

Jim Hughes, Winnebago County Director of Development Services, has announced that he plans to run mayor of Rockford.

A former Rockford alderman and Winnebago County Board member, the self-described “Zeke Giorgi Democrat” filed as a candidate for State Senate in the 34th District last fall but withdrew when his petitions were challenged. He also has been a Rockford mayoral candidate before.

Hughes plans to announce his candidacy officially at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Memorial Hall, 211 N. Main St.

Poll says Illinois' small businesses appear to favor health care law

Jun 20, 2012

The Illinois-based Campaign for Better Health Care reports that  63% of small business owners said they want the Affordable Care Act kept intact. The figure grows to 68% when respondents learn more details about what's contained in the law. Only 22% of respondents said they want the law overturned.

Winnebago Village Trustee Kris Kieper has been named to the first class of Edgar Fellows to address issues facing the future of Illinois.

Kieper is CEO of the Rockford YWCA and writes a blog for the Rockford Register Star.

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Both sides of the recall election targeting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are prepared for a razor-thin margin as the Republican tries to become the first U.S. governor to successfully fend off a recall effort.

Also targeted in today’s voting are Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and majority control of the state Senate.

A record turnout -- estimated as high as 65 percent of registered voters – is expected. Polls opened at 7 a.m., and voting continues until 8 p.m.

WNIJ

Illinois smokers could soon see a huge increase in the cost of a pack of cigarettes. The Illinois House today approved a plan to more than double the tax on cigarettes, to $1.98 a pack. Other tobacco products would see a similar increase.

Fitzgerald: I'm not running for office

May 24, 2012

Outgoing U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald says he will not run for elective office.

That comes after the highly respected federal prosecutor announced yesterday that he'll step down at the end of June. In a 35-minute news conference today the media-averse Fitzgerald talked to reporters about why he's stepping down.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

ComEd President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore says there will be two new state-of-the art facilities to train the next generation of utility workers -- and the first one will be in Rockford.

Rockford is one step closer to a casino

May 23, 2012
worldcasinodirectory.com

The Illinois House, in a 69 to 47 vote, has passed a gambling expansion bill that would create new casinos -- including one in Rockford -- and allow slot machines at the state's racetracks.

Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, says it will bring Illinois money it needs as the state faces steep budget cuts. Lang says that, as the budget process progresses, it’s clear the state isn't doing well enough.

“We haven't created enough jobs. We don't have enough revenue," he said. "Is this a panacea for all of our ills? Of course not.  Can it be step to build a better economy? Absolutely it can."

Patrick Fitzgerald has scheduled a news conference Thursday to announce his resignation, according to the Justice Department.  Fitzgerald was selected as northern Illinois' top prosecutor in 2001.

During his tenure he successfully tried two Illinois governors, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, and media mogul Conrad Black.

As a special prosecutor, he investigated Lewis "Scooter" Libby, then chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.  Fitzgerald's investigation led to Libby's conviction on charges that he leaked the covert identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Democratic leaders in the 16th Congressional district have chosen a candidate to run against Republican Adam Kinzinger this fall. A caucus of county party leaders within the district voted to slate Wanda Rohl.

Senator Mark Kirk / www.kirk.senate.gov

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) has released a video showing his progress in recovering from his January stroke. The video is quite candid: it shows Kirk laboring to learn to walk again, with a cane, treadmill, and a harness. 

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Illinois' junior U.S.  Senator Mark Kirk is moving home from a local rehab center after suffering a stroke in January.

Kirk's office says the Republican senator has "progressed to the point where he can move home with his family."

His office sent out a statement today at the request of Kirk's family. The senator has been recovering at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and will continue to do so, but as an out-patient.

Part of Kirk's skull was removed following the surgery to alleviate pressure, but doctors have said he's "mentally sharp."

Attorneys for imprisoned former Illinois Gov. George Ryan say a U.S. Supreme Court decision today could eventually lead to a new trial for their client.

Defense lawyer Albert Alschuler said the high court asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to reconsider Ryan's appeal. The high court found the appellate judges erred by not considering aspects of the appeal on their merits.

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) Center for Stroke Rehabilitation

 

Senator Mark Kirk is “mentally sharp” and keeping up with global issues during daily meetings with his staff. That’s according to the director of the stroke rehabilitation center where the 52-year-old Republican has been since February.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A citizens’ convention has chosen a Democratic candidate to run for Congress in the 16th district. But that doesn’t necessarily mean their pick will face Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger this fall.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The debate over health care is picking up steam as we move closer to the fall election. A report by a health care advocacy group says over the next decade, Illinois could lose 94-billion dollars in federal funding for Medicaid, Medicare, and premium tax credits under the most recent Republican budget proposal.

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