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State Spending Authority Running Out...Still No Budget

posted December 5th, 2016

The General Assembly adjourned the fall veto session last week, without any movement toward a state budget deal. Spending authority for the current stop-gap spending plan will run out before lawmakers are set to return to Springfield. University of Illinois Institute for Government and Public Affairs Director Chris Mooney says court orders will keep the state running; but they aren’t a solution. Mooney tells WDCB News the situation in Illinois is unprecedented, but only because it has dragged on for 18 months. He says budget stalemates are not uncommon at the state, local, and federal levels. In fact, Mooney says almost every year, in almost every jurisdiction there is disagreement because budgets are contentious by their nature. He says there is always a limited amount of money and an almost unlimited number of problems that people want government to address. Mooney says the Governor and legislative leaders could solve the state’s financial difficulty, but that will require making difficult decisions. He says the problem was created over the course of about 20 years and solving it will require a combination of tax increases and spending cuts.

ACLU-Illinois Calls For Asset Seizure Reform

posted December 2nd, 2016

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois renewed questions about the system that allows law enforcement to seize assets. ACLU-Illinois attorney Ben Ruddell says lobbyists for police and prosecutors shot-down a modest change to the system last year. He says it’s clear reforms are needed, the system seized more than $319-million in assets in the past 10 years. Ruddell tells WDCB News the civil asset seizure system is big business in Illinois. He says civil asset forfeiture is a system is premised on the idea that a crime has taken place, but doesn't require anyone ever be convicted or even charged with a crime. Ruddell says the system is rife with abuse because departments have a financial interest in taking assets. He says the current system stacks the deck against people who have assets seized. The system also can seize assets of people who didn’t commit a crime or know their property was used in a crime; and it’s very hard to get those items back.

Metra Ready For Winter

posted December 1st, 2016

In recent years, Metra has struggled with on-time performance when the Chicago area hit with cold and snowy conditions. Don Orseno is CEO of the commuter rail service. He says the agency’s done everything it can to prepare for the winter weather that will eventually descend on the region. Orseno tells WDCB News Metra’s goal is to keep trains running and on time. He says the service has made huge investments in switch heaters and door modifications to rolling stock to reduce the problem of snow build up that keeps doors from working properly. Orseno says Metra really has done everything it can to be prepared for winter weather. He says even the improved heaters aren’t designed to melt the chunks of snow and ice that fall from the underside of trains and clog switches. He says Metra’s also worked to improve the doors on passenger cars that tend to become snow packed during winter weather.

MSI Celebrates Creativity of Maurice Sendak

posted November 30th, 2016

A children’s book that’s captured the imaginations of readers for over five decades is the focus of a new exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. The traveling exhibit, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE – THE WORKS OF MAURICE SENDAK recently arrived in Chicago.  The exhibit features never-before-seen drawings and early sketches from Sendak’s archives.  Museum of Science and Industry manager of special exhibits Jeff Buonomo tells WDCB News Where The Wild Things Are is a timeless classic that appeals to a wide audience. He says it's a multi-generational exhibit with parents...grand parents and children all being familiar with the book. Buonomo says many people aren't familiar with the man behind the book; but when you say the title, there is an imediate recognition. "Where The Wild Things Are: The Works of Maurice Sendak will be on display through February 20th.


Coalition Changes Opposition to Support For Exelon Bill

posted November 30th, 2016

A coalition of environmental groups, consumer advocates, and others put its support behind legislation to prop up nuclear power in Illinois. The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition endorsed a proposal that would give Exelon a subsidy to keep it Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants open. Dave Kolata is Executive Director of the Citizens Utility Board. The consumer group is frequently at odds with the power company. But Kolata tells WDCB News changes to the ‘Future Energy Jobs Bill’ put CUB and Exelon on the same side of a fight. He says CUB is part of the Clean Jobs Coalition. The group that includes hundreds of groups from the Illinois Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, and other consumer groups voted to support where the legislation is right now. Kolata says the legislation is going to lead to savings for consumers and the coalition thinks critics of the bill are wrong. Illinois AARP continues to oppose the plan. It says the bill subsidizes a profitable industry on the back of consumers. Kolata says the proposal now includes a variety of energy efficiency measures that will ultimately save consumers on their monthly electric bill.