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Leaders Discuss Current And Future Water Issuesposted July 22nd, 2014
Leaders in Chicago took part in a one-day clean water summit Monday. The Water Environment Federation and World Business Chicago hosted the event as part of its ‘Great Water Cities’ series. Federation President Sandra Ralston says the summit looked at issues of fresh water supply and the importance of infrastructure to support clean water. She says Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made updating water mains and antiquated sewer lines a priority. Ralston hopes the summit will get people and communities to change attitudes about water. She says more and more of the country is realizing that when groups talk about waste water, it's not really waste. Ralston says it's still a valuable resource that must be recovered, treated and re-used. Ralston tells WDCB News people across the country need to be much less cavalier about water supplies. She says serious drought in Texas and California illustrate the challenge of meeting demand in many regions of the country.
Oberman Floats Possibility Of Metra Fare Increaseposted July 21st, 2014
Metra’s new Chairman is ready to have a difficult discussion with the agency’s board of directors and the general public. Martin Oberman says it’s possible commuters could face a fare hike next year, but he says the agency hasn’t proposed an increase. This is part of Oberman’s first budget process since becoming Chairman. Kirk Dillard is the new Regional Transportation Authority Chairman. The RTA provides oversight for all of the region’s transit providers. Dillard tells WDCB News Metra needs to work through some issues before it raises fares. He says clearly Metra has had some service issues over the past year. Dillard says even though many of those issues were weather releated, the agency needs to clear up the problems befor it asks riders like him to pay more. Just three years ago Metra imposed its biggest fare increase on rider. Both Oberman and Dillard say they favor small incremental increases rather than sporadic and large hikes.
Illinois Tollway Invests In Tech Test "Zone"posted July 17th, 2014
The Illinois Tollway is investing in a new testing site that will help the agency study future products and technologies in real-life conditions. The technology test zone will be located on the Tri-State Tollway near the Touhy Toll Plaza. The $2.7 million project is scheduled to be operational by next year. Tollway executive director Kristi Lafleur tells WDCB News the site will be the first of its kind. She says the test site is going to be a living laboratory for the agency. Lefleur says often technology is tested on a specialized test-track, but this will give the agency an opportunity to test new systems in a real world environment. Lafleur says smartphone tolling apps and improved I-Pass transponders are among the technologies that will eventually be tested at the site. She says the testing zone shouldn’t impact the driver experience.
Public Employee Union Gathers in Chicagoposted July 17th, 2014
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case that could undermine the future of organized labor. Justices ruled the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees can’t charge a fee to Illinois workers who don’t want to join the union. This week AFSCME is holding its national convention in Chicago. The union’s Illinois Council 31's Anders Lindall says organized labor will survive. He tells WDCB News the movement’s message is even more applicable today. Lindall says labor's philosophy is that when you work hard you should be able to get ahead and provide for your family. He says it's based on a notion of interdependence, that we all count on one another and help one another. Lindall says that's the work that AFSCME members and public sector workers do every day. Lindall says the Supreme Court case and other attacks on labor represent a coordinated and well financed opposition from corporate America. He says public sector workers must stand up to people and companies that want to break the union.
Preckwinkle Rules Out Chicago Mayoral Run in 2015posted July 16th, 2014
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle ended months of speculation yesterday by ruling out a 2015 run for Chicago mayor. No other major candidates have announced mayoral bids, yet. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and Alderman Robert Fioretti say they're both considering runs. Shawn Healy is a political scholar for the Chicago-based McCormick Foundation. He tells WDCB News he’s not writing Preckwinkle off just yet. Healy points out, Harold Washington ran for re-election to Congress and then turned around three months later and ran for Mayor. He says Preckwinkle's statement at least neutralizes some of the pressure on her for the moment, but it wouldn't be shocking to see the story return somewhere down the road. Healy says as it stands now, Lewis or another high profile candidate could give Emanuel a run for his money in 2015.
Bipartisan Panel Explores At Criminal Justice Reformsposted July 16th, 2014
Historically, Illinois lawmakers respond to increased violent crime with new laws and tougher penalties. A new legislative committee wants to go in a different direction. State Representative Mike Zalewski is chairing the Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee. The Riverside Democrat says the group met for the first time Tuesday to explore new ways to address crime and prison overcrowding. He tells WDCB News more prison cells won’t solve the state’s problems. Zalewski says Illinois has shuttered prisons that it can't afford to operate. He says in the 21st century building more prisons isn't the answer, instead the state needs to find out what it's doing wrong and then try to improve the existing system. Zalewski hopes one outcome of the committee’s work will be a better system of assessing the threat of each criminal case. He says working with non-violent offenders that aren’t likely to be commit future crimes can help ease pressure on the state’s already overcrowded prisons.
Does DuPage Need an Arts Council?posted July 16th, 2014
Does DuPage County need (or want) an arts council? That’s the question being asked by some community stakeholders. The DuPage Community Foundation is leading an effort to study the feasibility of creating a county-wide arts organization. WDCB’s Gary Zidek spoke with the DuPage Community Foundation’s director of programs Barb Szczepaniak and arts consultant Cheryl Yuen.
NASA Satellite Images Reveal Air Quality Improvementsposted July 16th, 2014
New NASA satellite images show there's been a huge reduction of air pollution across the country over the past decade. This week marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of the Aura satellite. Over the past decade, the instrument has measured levels of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere over major cities across the U.S. Argonne National Laboratory environmental scientist David Streets is a member of NASA’s Air Quality Applied Sciences Team. WDCB News Reporter Gary Zidek spoke with Streets about the data collected by Aura over the past ten years.