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HIghland Park Native Releases Novel About Chicago During Jazz Ageposted August 3rd, 2015
A new novel is providing readers with a glimpse of what life was like in Chicago during the Jazz Age. New York-based author Mary Morris’ book, THE JAZZ PALACE, explores Chicago’s early jazz scene with a combination of real and fictional characters. The Highland Park native spent years researching jazz and Chicago history. Morris tells WDCB News she spent time with Chicago cultural historian Tim Samuelson touring the areas that used to be jazz hotspots. Morris says the extensive research and a series of publisher rejections almost led her to shelve THE JAZZ PALACE. But the novel was published this past spring, 18 years after she started the book.
State Budget Stalemate Unlike Previous Budget Battlesposted August 3rd, 2015
Even though Illinois is now in the second month of its fiscal year without a budget, it’s hard to see the effects of the stalemate. State Troopers still patrol Illinois highways, State Parks welcome campers, even planning for the State Fair is still underway. Chris Mooney is the Director of the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs. He tells WDCB News the current situation in Illinois isn’t like previous budget battles between the Governor’s office and the General Assembly. Mooney says the situation is best described as a budget stalemate rather than a government shut down. He says Illinois is in a weird limbo where the state doesn't really have a general authorization to spend money, but because of court decrees and federal rules a good portion of what the state normally spends is being spent.
Mooney says Governor Rauner has gone out of his way to downplay the crisis nature of the budget stalemate. He says it’s possible Rauner and legislative Democrats could announce a deal tomorrow, but it’s more likely there won’t be a state budget until this fall.
DuPage County Begins Budget Process With Questionsposted July 31st, 2015
While the state budget process continues to be at an impasse, the DuPage County Board is about to begin putting together a spending plan. The county’s fiscal year begins December first, and as part of the initial planning the county’s posted an online survey to determine taxpayer priorities. Paul Fichtner is chairman of the DuPage County Board Finance committee. He tells WDCB News the stalemate in Springfield could complicate the county’s budget process. Fichtner says a previous budget proposal at the state capital suggested a more than $6.5-million reduction in the county's share of the state income tax. He says not knowing if that idea will become reality will make this budget a little trickier. Fichtner doesn’t know how the county would absorb a multi-million dollar loss from the state, but he says growth in other revenue could soften the blow. He says the county and local governments across the state may just have to figure out how to do more with less. Last year fewer than 400 county residents took part in the online budget survey, Fichtner’s hoping for a better response this year.
Cantigny Celebrats 60 Years As a Public Spaceposted July 30th, 2015
Chicago Tribune publisher Robert R. McCormick lived on a sprawling 500-acre Wheaton property known as Cantigny for just over 35 years. When he died in 1955, the newspaper owner left instructions for the estate to be turned into a public space for the education and recreation of local residents. Cantigny is celebrating its 60th anniversary as a public park today. Cantigny executive director Matt LaFond tells WDCB News the property has changed a great deal over six decades, especially the last ten years. Cantigny is commemorating the park’s anniversary and McCormick’s legacy with a series of free programs Thursday.
Com-Ed Launches Mobile CARE centersposted July 30th, 2015
The region’s electric utility is in the fourth year of a five year program to help customers get through a financial hardship. At this time of year Com-Ed’s CARE program not only helps keep the lights on, it also makes sure people stay cool during periods of high heat. Com-Ed Vice President of External Affairs Fidel Marquez says the company allocates $10-million a year to the program. He tells WDCB News the on going Illinois budget stalemate has put access to the state’s energy assistance program, LI-HEAP on hold. Marquez says demand will increase because the Li-HEAP funds are at least suspended for now. He says those funds were serving an important need across the state and they're currently not available. Marquez says Com-Ed set up a number of satellite service centers in Chicago and the collar counties this week to help people access its CARE program. The program isn’t exclusively for low-income residents…but you do have to prove financial hardship to access the CARE funds.
Chicago High School Offers College Funding Assistanceposted July 29th, 2015
A high school on Chicago’s westside is making connections with universities and colleges to assist students in reaching the next level. North Lawndale College Prep launched the Phoenix Pact earlier this year. The scholarship fund helps financially disadvantaged students pay for college. Courtney Bishop is a coordinator at North Lawndale College Prep. She tells WDCB News the pact helps qualified students pay tuition that might ordinarily be out of their price range. North Lawndale College Prep’s Phoenix Pact currently has agreements with 15 partner colleges. The initiative will help over 40 students attend college this coming fall.
Divide Remains Over Iran Nuclear Dealposted July 29th, 2015
Has Iran earned the right to be trusted? That was the question put to Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday at a hearing in Washington, where he was grilled by lawmakers skeptical of the nuclear agreement with Iran. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have spent the past two weeks criticizing the deal with Iran. North Central College political science professor Dr. Bill Muck specializes in international politics. He tells WDCB News some of the loudest complaints have come from candidates running for President in 2016. Kerry told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, if Congress rejects the deal, Iran will go back to enriching uranium and there is no way the country would return to the negotiating table.
Lockport Mayor Creates 'Peoples Exhibit' To Keep Museum Openposted July 28th, 2015
Lockport’s Mayor isn’t taking the state’s decision to close the Illinois State Museum without a fight. The State closed the Lockport Museum and Gallery as the financial crisis and budget stalemate continues. Workers packed up the items that were on display and closed the doors on July first. Mayor Steve Streit tells WDCB News it all happened without even a phone call from the Governor’s office. He understands the state has a budget crisis, but the least the state could do was call before it closed the museum. Streit says he could've kept it open, at least through the city's summer art series by extending the city's insurance to cover the exhibits. He says the state says lack of insurance is why it closed the museum so quickly. The mayor wants artists in the region to fill the museum with paintings, sculptures, and other pieces. More than 170 people brought work to the museum Sunday, the first day of what Streit’s calling the ‘people’s exhibit.’ He hopes to keep the Lockport Museum and Gallery open indefinitely.