The fight over how to address Illinois' worst-in-the-nation pension shortfall is likely headed to the courts. The Illinois Legislature approved a measure Tuesday to eliminate the state's $100 billion unfunded pension liability by cutting benefits for workers and retirees. Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign it promptly, but public employee unions say they'll file a lawsuit if he does. They say it violates a provision of the state constitution that prohibits cutting pension benefits.
Teachers Protest Reform Bill
Numerous union teachers and retired teachers gathered outside of the Office of State by the La Salle-Peru Township High School Monday evening, to protest the pension reform legislation. Despite the protest, the new pension reform legislation was still passed by the House yesterday. According to the Illinois Federation of Teachers, with this new reform, teachers would have to work longer before retirement, and their cost-of-living adjustments would be reduced.
Blue Cross says its Illinois customers will be allowed to keep their current health plans. The company says premiums may go up and customers could still switch to a policy on the new insurance marketplace. About 185,000 Illinoisans have received cancellation notices because their plans don't meet requirements of the nation's health care law.
Wenona Replacing Siren Batteries
The city of Wenona is set to replace batteries in the tornado siren in town. At Monday night's city council meeting, officials said the siren worked during it's test in October but failed to go off in November, most notably during the November 17th storms. Officials stated that one of the batteries in the power box blew out and covered the case in acid. The city purchased a new battery but also passed a motion to replace the rest of the batteries, as the other batteries are four years old.
Rod Blagojevich Hearing
Lawyers have filed more court papers ahead of next week's appellate hearing for Rod Blagojevich. The imprisoned governor's lawyers claim that the judge at his corruption trial was biased. Each side will get 30 minutes for oral arguments a week from Friday.
Code Red System Up and Running in Mendota
The City of Mendota now has a way to warn its residents of any impending emergency. Police Chief Thomas Smith says the city’s new Code Red system can send out automated calls to residents warning them of any issue including weather emergencies and amber alerts. Smith says alerts are not limited to emergencies, noting that the city used a similar system to send residents the parade route for the Corn Festival. Anyone who wishes to register their cell phones to received the alerts can do so at the city’s website.
New Henry Police Chief
After some delay, the City of Henry has chosen a new Police Chief. The City Clerk’s office says during a special meeting this past weekend, Mayor Randy Constantine appointed 56 year old Steve Mauer as the city’s new police chief. Mauer had severed on the Chillicothe police force for over three decades. Former Henry Police Chief William Calbow resigned in early August after Mayor Randy Constantine announced that he would not reappoint Calbow when his term was up.
Two Arrested in Peru for Heroin
Two area men were arrested early Tuesday after they allegedly delivered heroin to undercover officers. According to Peru Police Chief Doug Bernabei, authorities arrested 50-year old Robert Eklund of Peru and 48-year old Frederick Ralrick of La Salle after they allegedly delivered heroin on multiple occasions. Bernabei says investigators arrested the men around 8:30 Tuesday morning at Eklund's home in Peru. Both men were taken to the La Salle County jail and are being held on $750,000 bonds.
Peru to Participate in Worldwide Candle Lighting Ceremony
Since 1997 all over the world, people have held candle lighting ceremonies on the second Sunday in December to honor the loss of children. According to Rita Studzinski, leader of the River Valley Chapter of The Compassionate Friends, this year marks the first year Peru residents are invited to attend. The ceremony will begin at 6:30pm Sunday at the Illinois Valley Community Hospital, and will be virtually celebrated all over the world. Studzinski says TCF also will have a live forum on Sunday evening at compassionatefriends.org where parents can share their memories of the children they lost with the world.
Some Sun-Times Employees Getting Jobs Back
Some Chicago Sun-Times employees who lost their jobs months ago are getting them back. The newspaper is rehiring four photographers six months after firing all of its full-time photo staffers. The paper also has agreed to pay $2,000 to photographers who aren't rehired.