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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Renovations are underway at the Illinois governor's mansion, even though the 158-year-old home hasn't been used much during the past two administrations.

Lee Enterprises newspapers' Springfield bureau reports the state's awarded almost $339,000 for three contracts on work to the 16-room Georgian-styled home.

Contractors are spending the summer replacing climate-control systems and an emergency generator at the Springfield manor.

The home hasn't undergone a major renovation since 1971.

The property's been mostly unoccupied for the past two administrators. Ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his family continued to live in Chicago and Gov. Pat Quinn said he'd live in the property, but the newspaper says he spends most nights in Chicago.

The work is paid for by liquor taxes, license plate fees and video gaming proceeds.

 

Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley is making his Illinois gubernatorial bid official.

He's set to remove his "exploratory committee" label Tuesday by filing paperwork with the Illinois Board of Elections. So far, he's Gov. Pat Quinn's only 2014 Democratic primary challenger.

In a video on his campaign website, Daley says the fact that the state Legislature adjourned in May without finding a solution to the pension crisis or voting on same-sex marriage represents a "dysfunction."

He says he's running because of the positive response he's received and he'll work seven days a week.

The brother and son of two longtime Chicago mayors formed his exploratory committee last month, but has already been acting like a candidate. He's stepped out to criticize Quinn's leadership and made statewide tours.

Published in Local News

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A southwestern Illinois judge who resigned after being accused of federal gun and drug charges has agreed to have his law license suspended.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the Illinois Supreme Court this month approved of the action against former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook. He was involved in a scandal involving another judge's cocaine death.

The suspension order states Cook was charged with a crime involving moral turpitude. It says he signed an affidavit voluntarily giving up his law license on an interim basis.

Cook has pleaded not guilty to charges he possessed heroin and had a gun while illegally using controlled substances.

Investigators say Cook was at a western Illinois hunting lodge in March with prosecutor-turned-judge Joe Christ when Christ died from a cocaine overdose.

 

Published in Local News

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A federal judge is rejecting a legal bid by gun-rights advocates who wanted people to be able to immediately carry firearms in Illinois under the state's new concealed carry law.

East St. Louis U.S. District Judge William Stiehl threw out the lawsuit filed by Mary Shepard and the Illinois State Rifle Association, siding with the state and saying the legal action is moot.

Shepard and the rifle group had argued it was unconstitutional to make people wait for the permit process to be outlined under the new concealed carry law that lawmakers passed July 9.

Illinois was the last state in the nation to ban the practice.

Illinois State Police have 180 days to set up a program before accepting applications, plus another 90 days to process the forms.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn is making a series of stops in central Illinois.

Monday's visits mark the second round of trips the governor's made to the region following criticism that his frequent Chicago focus might draw a downstate challenger in the 2014 Democratic primary.

Quinn started the day welcoming the Stanley Cup to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum before heading to Bradley University in Peoria, where he announced a construction grant. Quinn is also scheduled to spend time talking about the construction grant Augustana College in Rock Island before going to Rockford, where he's expected to talk about a clean water initiative.

Quinn is facing a primary challenge from fellow Chicagoan Bill Daley.

Quinn's spokeswoman has said the governor was previously tied up in Springfield because of pension reform.

 
Published in Local News

   WASHINGTON, DC (AP) - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin wants Illinois police departments to use a federal firearms tracing system that can tell investigators the chain of custody of a gun from the manufacturer to the first legal purchaser.

   Durbin says fewer than half of Illinois' more than 800 police departments use the eTrace program of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He said Monday he will be introducing legislation creating an incentive for police to use eTrace.

   The legislation would require police departments seeking federal COPS grants to tell the federal government how many crime guns they've recovered. They would have to report how many were submitted to ATF for tracing and why any recovered guns were not submitted.

   COPS grants are designed to encourage the development of community policing programs.

 
Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley is calling on Gov. Pat Quinn to bring the state's legislative leaders together for around-the-clock talks to resolve the state's $97 billion pension shortfall.

At a news conference on Monday, Daley urged Quinn to get more aggressive in trying to solve the worst-in-the-nation crisis by bringing legislative leaders to the governor's mansion in Springfield to negotiate until they reach some kind of deal.

Daley has formed an exploratory committee as he considers running against Quinn in next spring's Democratic primary.

Daley says the governor is wasting time and dismissed Quinn's suspension of lawmakers' pay until they come up with a solution to the crisis as a gimmick that may even be unconstitutional.

Published in Local News

   CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law new rules for tethering a dog outside.

   Quinn says the legislation ensures dogs are treated humanely.

   The Illinois Democrat says dogs bring unconditional love and comfort to their owners' lives and become "part of our families." He says the new law makes sure "our pets receive the same love and care they give us."

   The measure requires the leash used to tether a dog to be at least 10 feet long and to not exceed one-eighth of a dog's body weight. It also says people who don't provide sufficient food, water, shelter and veterinary care could be subject to up to six months imprisonment.

   The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Dan Burke, a Chicago Democrat, and Sen. Linda Holmes, a Democrat from Aurora.

Published in Local News

   CHICAGO (AP) - A pair of new Illinois laws will fund diabetes research and track economic costs of the disease.

   Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bills Thursday at a conference organized by the University of Chicago Medicine's Kovler Diabetes Center.

   One measure creates a special license plate. Just over half of the $40 cost of the plate will go to the Diabetes Research Checkoff Fund.

   House minority leader Tom Cross sponsored the bill. He hopes the license plate will serve as a "moving billboard" for diabetes awareness.

   The second bill requires the Illinois State Diabetes Commission to report regularly on the economic and social costs of diabetes and efforts to prevent the disease.

   The laws take effect Jan. 1.

   The Illinois Department of Public Health says about 800,000 state residents have diabetes.

 
Published in Health & Fitness

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - The state of Illinois is amplifying its argument that a federal judge reject a push by gun-rights advocates who want to be allowed to publicly carry firearms immediately, rather than waiting months under Illinois' new concealed carry law.

Under the law passed last week, Illinois State Police have about six months to set up a concealed-carry program before accepting applications. Police then have 90 days to process the forms.

Gun-rights advocate Mary Shepard and the Illinois State Rifle Association say that's unconstitutionally too long and want an East St. Louis U.S. District Judge to allow immediate concealed carry.

But Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office argued in a filing Thursday that Shepard needs to file a new complaint spelling out why the law's time allowances are unreasonable.

 

Published in Local News

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