THE WATCHDOGS: It’s been more than two years since Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans asked the Illinois Supreme Court to allow cameras in Cook County courtrooms, but the state’s high court has indefinitely put off a decision, even as it’s approved all of the other requests it’s gotten for video and audio recording in courts across the state, including DuPage County’s courts.
A former Mississippi sharecropper who landed millions of dollars in contracts from the city of Chicago was sentenced Thursday to 17 months in prison for his role in a minority-contracting scandal that involved sewer deals held by a company whose investors secretly included then-Mayor Richard M. Daley’s son and nephew.
Arthur D. Bishop, who was appointed last month to run the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, stepped down Wednesday following a series of Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ reports that revealed a theft conviction and paternity case in his past.
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THE WATCHDOGS: Gov. Pat Quinn’s new director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services pleaded guilty to stealing from clients of a West Side social service agency and later became embroiled in a child-support battle over a daughter he said he never knew he’d fathered, the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ have found.
THE WATCHDOGS: On TV, Bruce Rauner boasts in a campaign commercial that he “helped start charter schools” to fight failing educational programs. Other than giving millions of dollars, though, the Republican candidate for governor doesn’t have much to do with running the Noble Network of Charter Schools, its superintendent says.
THE WATCHDOGS: Since 1978, the city of Chicago has required that at least 1 percent of the construction budget for any new or renovated city building has to be set aside for installing works of art in publicly accessible places on project sites. But spending on City Hall’s pioneering “Percent for Art” program has slowed dramatically since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office in 2011, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.
THE WATCHDOGS: In an unusual move, the Chicago Police Board has rejected a proposed deal under which a police sergeant had agreed to be suspended for 60 days because his gun was used in the shooting death of a Northwest Side woman four years ago. The police board scrapped the deal that police Supt. Garry McCarthy had struck with Sgt. Steven Lesner, instead ordering a full inquiry into the events that led to Catherine Weiland’s death.
Bruce Rauner’s family charity has contributed $800,000 to the scandal-tarred United Neighborhood Organization in recent years. “It sounds like there has been some potentially bad behavior and some money not spent appropriately, which is very troubling to me,” Rauner says.
Sarah Howard thought Bruce Rauner was an angel who would rescue her financially troubled, academically struggling charter school in East Garfield Park. Instead, the would-be Republican candidate for Illinois governor took control of the Academy of Communications and Technology Charter School Howard started, dumping her as executive director, suspending operations for two years, then turning it over to a national charter school operator.
A WATCHDOGS FOLLOW-UP: Judges in Cook County have begun revoking inmates’ sentences to boot camp and resentencing them instead to prison in response to a Chicago Sun-Times investigation that revealed hundreds of violent offenders were improperly sentenced to the program.
Two people with ties to Mayor Rahm Emanuel could be among those to benefit from new, publicly financed charter schools up for approval next week by Chicago Public Schools officials. A real estate broker who is an Emanuel friend and a South Side minister allied with the mayor could end up as landlords for new schools, collecting rent paid for by taxpayers.
Gov hopeful Bruce Rauner gave Payton $250K after pulling strings to get daughter into elite high school
THE WATCHDOGS: After his daughter was admitted to Walter Payton College Prep, Bruce Rauner, who’s now seeking the Republican nomination for governor, became one of the elite Chicago public high school’s biggest benefactors. The Rauner Family Foundation gave $250,000 to the Payton Prep Initiative for Education on Dec. 14, 2009 — about a year and a half after Rauner called then-Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan to overturn his daughter’s rejection for admission, records examined by the Chicago Sun-Times reveal.
WATCHDOGS FOLLOW-UP: State Sen. Kirk Dillard called on Gov. Pat Quinn to fire the director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, citing a Chicago Sun-Times investigation into the prison system’s hiring of a former gang member. Dillard said Quinn should fire IDOC chief Salvador Godinez over the hiring of Xadrian R. McCraven last year.
THE WATCHDOGS: When Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg hosted a campaign fund-raiser at a golf course in September, attorney Lawrence Weiner says he wrote Kellogg a $250 check. But Kellogg’s campaign fund didn’t report the contribution, as Illinois law requires, nor other contributions he got in connection with that event and a second fund-raiser, records and interviews show. The Illinois State Board of Elections fined Kellogg $5,000 last year for not filing campaign-finance reports in 2010 and 2011 but the board hasn’t done anything to collect.
After spending all last week putting out fires because he said he wanted to lower — and then raise — the minimum wage, multi-millionaire gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner began this week facing a brand new firestorm. And it’s the latest storyline that potentially has greater staying power.
THE WATCHDOGS: The investigation that cleared Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s convicted former city comptroller of any wrongdoing in Chicago also offers new details about the relationship between another top comptroller’s official and a lobbyist whose client won a multimillion-dollar city deal.
THE WATCHDOGS: When Concept Schools Inc. wanted to open two charter schools in Chicago last year, it sought permission from Chicago Public Schools officials. The answer was no, based on the performance of the charter operator’s lone Chicago school. Concept appealed to the Illinois State Charter School Commission, created by lawmakers including House Speaker Michael Madigan, a big Concept backer. This time, the answer was yes — and included an order to boost the schools’ funding.
WATCHDOGS FOLLOW-UP: Sheriff Tom Dart wrote a letter to Cook County judges last week asking them to confirm that 52 inmates who were recently sentenced to boot camp are eligible for the program. The letter follows a Sun-Times investigation that found judges have been sending hundreds of violent offenders to the boot camp — even though state law says the program is for nonviolent offenders.
THE WATCHDOGS: For the past dozen years, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., hasn’t reported paying any rent for his campaign office, records show, in what experts say could be a violation of federal election law or House ethics rules. It’s one of a series of questionable practices an investigation by the Better Government Association and Chicago Sun-Times found involving Citizens for Rush.
THE WATCHDOGS: A nonprofit organization founded by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush was given $1 million to create a technology center in Englewood. More than a decade later, the money’s gone, and there’s no technology center, an investigation by the Better Government Association and the Chicago Sun-Times found.