Special session expected to form pension committee
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois lawmakers have convened a special session in Springfield, where they're expected to move ahead with plans to form a committee to deal with pensions.
Moving to committee requires a vote by both the House and Senate.
Gov. Pat Quinn met separately with Democratic and Republican legislative leaders Wednesday morning.
Republican House Leader Tom Cross says the governor wants to move ahead quickly so pension reform can be voted on by early July in another special session.
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton each would get three appointees to the 10-member committee. Cross and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (rah-DOH'-nyoh) each would get two.
Illinois' $97 billion unfunded pension liability is the worst in the nation.
PENSION FROM PRISON
Ex-Chicago firefighter gets pension from prison
CHICAGO (AP) - A former Chicago firefighter who was convicted in the 1994 slaying of his wife has been getting more than $55,000 a year in pension payments from behind bars.
That's according to WFLD-TV, which reports there's nothing illegal about the money that Eugene Ornstead has collected.
Now 76 and in a medium-security Wisconsin prison, Ornstead gets a monthly check from the Chicago firefighter's pension fund for about $4,600. All told, the report says he's collected more than $840,000 since he applied for the money in a handwritten note days after his wife's death.
A pension expert interviewed by the station says the payments may raise eyebrows, but they're entirely legal under Illinois law.
Ornstead's daughter from a previous marriage cashes the checks and says her father deserves his pension.
OfficeMax wants tax breaks to stay in Illinois
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - OfficeMax Inc. is asking the state of Illinois for tax breaks to keep the company's headquarters in-state after the office supply chain's merger with Office Depot Inc. is complete.
OfficeMax CEO Ravi Saligram and state Sen. Tom Cullerton made their pitch Tuesday during a hearing on the state's pension crisis. Cullerton is a Villa Park Democrat sponsoring legislation to provide incentives if the company keeps at least 2,000 full-time jobs at its headquarters and other non-retail locations.
Naperville-based OfficeMax and Boca Raton, Fla.-based Office Depot announced plans to merge in February. The companies are trying to decide where to locate their combined headquarters.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed similar legislation in 2011 that gave Sears and other companies more than $100 million in subsidies when they threatened to leave the state.
CHICAGO SCHOOL CLOSINGS
Last day for some Chicago schools slated to close
CHICAGO (AP) - It is the last day of class for more than two dozen Chicago public schools that are scheduled to close their doors for the last time.
The city's Board of Education voted last month to close 50 schools and programs. Students at several of those schools said goodbye Wednesday to their teachers and schools.
Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Becky Carroll says it was the last day of classes for about a third of the city's schools. She says 28 of those schools are slated to be shuttered.
Classes at the rest of the city's schools will end next week.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said Wednesday that there's a need to help students have a "safe and smooth transition to their new school in the fall."
McGlynn named to St. Clair County bench
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - A 1-time appellate court judge is being appointed to fill a vacant St. Clair County court position after the judge who once held the job resigned over drug charges.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports Republican Steven McGlynn was named to the post Wednesday, replacing Mike Cook.
Cook resigned in May after being charged with heroin and gun possession as part of a widening courthouse drug scandal.
He was charged in the case after the March death of colleague who died from a cocaine overdose at Cook's western Illinois hunting cabin.
McGlynn was appointed to the appellate court in 2005, but lost an election bid the next year. He was later appointed to the county circuit court following a retirement. He lost another judgeship election last year.
St. Clair County clerk resigns amid accusations
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - The St. Clair County clerk has resigned after an employee accused him of discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports that a tearful Bob Delaney resigned on Wednesday. Delaney denied he mistreated any employees, calling the action "bogus." He said he doesn't "want to put my family through this."
Delaney said he is leaving the clerk's office in southern Illinois after 34 years of public service. He turned in his resignation to St. Clair County board chairman Mark Kern.
Metropolis church destroyed for 2nd time in a year
METROPOLIS, Ill. (AP) - A southern Illinois congregation says they plan to rebuild - again - after their church was destroyed for a second time in 13 months.
The 159-year-old Upper Salem Baptist Church in Metropolis burned down in May 2012. After that, the congregation merged with another church and became Weaver Creek Baptist. Together, congregants were working to build a new church, but that building was destroyed by strong winds on Monday.
Former Upper Salem Pastor Paul McCormick tells WSIL-TV that the church will rebuild again. He says they'll "keep going as long as the Lord wants us here."
The new church about 65% finished and McCormick says builders had just put up rafters.
The building wasn't insured. The church is accepting donations to pay for another round of construction.
EAST AURORA SCHOOLS-BULLYING
East Aurora schools enter into federal agreement
AURORA, Ill. (AP) - The East Aurora School Board will enter into an agreement with the federal government after two students filed complaints alleging they were bullied.
The Beacon-News in Aurora reports the board unanimously voted to enter into the agreement on Monday. The agreement will require the district to develop more detailed anti-discrimination and harassment policies. It also must examine the district's student conduct code and issue reports to the federal government.
Two female students filed complaints earlier this year with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. They said they were bullied because of their race at two East Aurora middle schools. The students said staff did not do enough to stop the bullying.
A district lawyer says there already are policies and procedures to prevent discrimination and harassment.
WAL-MART LOT-CHILDREN BOUND
Illinois father gets prison in child-binding case
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A suburban Chicago man has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for binding and blindfolding 2 of his children in a Wal-Mart parking lot in eastern Kansas.
A spokeswoman for the Douglas County district attorney's office says 53-year-old Adolfo Gomez also was ordered during Wednesday's sentencing hearing to serve 24 months of post-release supervision after his prison term ends.
Gomez and his wife, Deborah Gomez, of Northlake, Ill., were arrested Jun 13, 2012, in Lawrence. Police reported finding 2 of their children, ages 5 and 7, bound by their hands and feet in the store parking lot.
Adolfo Gomez pleaded no contest to felony child abuse and child endangerment.
Deborah Gomez was sentenced earlier to one year of probation after pleading no contest to child endangerment.
IDOT proposes tolls for Illiana Expressway
PEOTONE, Ill. (AP) - Transportation officials in Illinois have proposed that the planned Illiana Expressway be a tollway.
The SouthtownStar reports that the Illinois Department of Transportation unveiled a revised plan for the expressway on Tuesday during a public hearing in Peotone. The 47-mile route will go from Interstate 55 in Wilmington to Interstate 65 in Indiana.
The new proposal also includes two more interchanges, bringing the total to eight in Illinois and three in Indiana.
Another hearing is planned for October. Then IDOT will create a draft environmental impact statement before getting more feedback and writing a final plan for the tollway. Land acquisition and construction could start in 2015. Construction is expected to take three years, with the tollway opening by 2018.
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