3 lawyers hired to defend Rutherford in lawsuit
CHICAGO (AP) - The state will pay three attorneys up to $200 per hour to represent Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford (ROOTH'-ur-furd) in a lawsuit filed by a former employee.
Edmund Michalowski accused Rutherford last month of sexually harassing him and forcing him to do campaign work on state time.
Rutherford, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Illinois governor, has denied the claims. He's said the accusations have made his campaign more difficult.
Documents from the attorney general's office say Robert Shuftan, Daniel Fahner and Bilal Zaheer have been appointed special assistant attorneys general. They'll be paid using taxpayer funds from the treasurer's office.
Rutherford spent almost $27,000 in taxpayers' money on investigations into the allegations. He initially said the findings would be made public, but reversed course after the lawsuit was filed.
Lawmakers say DCFS faces 'horrendous' challenges
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Two Democratic lawmakers involved in overseeing the troubled Illinois Department of Children and Family Services say the agency faces "horrendous" challenges in the year ahead.
They include yet another search for a new child-welfare chief, anticipated budget cuts and election year politics.
Officials fear that efforts to help the agency could suffer if a replacement is not quickly found for recently resigned Arthur Bishop. He was the fourth chief to head the agency in less than a year's time.
A change in governor after November's election could also mean yet another leadership shift.
State Senator Julie Morrison, a Deerfield Democrat, chaired a series of hearings last fall in response to a rash of problems at the agency.
She says the leadership void puts any future reforms on hold.
Chicago plastic bag ban gaining council support
CHICAGO (AP) - The sponsor of a measure to ban Chicago retailers from using plastic bags says he has the votes to get it approved by the city council.
The Sun-Times reports Alderman "Proco" Joe Moreno introduced a new version of the ban at Wednesday's council meeting. He says "It's time to move."
Moreno pushed a measure last year that prohibited Chicago retailers larger than 5,000 square feet from putting merchandise in plastic bags. The proposal faltered amid opposition from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Moreno's latest version extends the ban to smaller retailers. He says the ban is good for the environment.
Emanuel's office hasn't taken a position.
But the Illinois Retail Merchants Association says the ban is essentially a "hidden tax" because paper bags cost three times more than plastic.
Chicago-area teacher aide faces child porn charges
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) - Cook County prosecutors say a suburban Chicago teacher's aide is facing child pornography charges.
State's Attorney Anita Alvarez says 34-year-old Randall Scott Gilbert of Hoffman Estates appeared in bond court Friday on a felony charge of possessing child pornography.
He works as an aide at a school for special needs children.
Investigators say Gilbert allegedly posed online as a 17-year-old trying to talk to and meet underage girls through online chat rooms. They say some exchanges were sexually explicit.
Prosecutors say Gilbert also allegedly used the chat rooms to trade images of child pornography with other users.
He was arrested by Hoffman Estates police on March 6th, and investigators say they found child pornography images on a tablet computer.
Bond was set at $25,000.
Suburban Chicago man gets 35 years in wife's death
WHEATON, Ill. (AP) - A suburban Chicago man has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for the 2011 stabbing death of his wife.
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin says Clifford Bolden of Carol Stream pleaded guilty but mentally ill on Friday to one count of first-degree murder.
Berlin says the 38-year-old and his wife, Hope Taylor, got into an argument in October 2011. He says Bolden left the apartment, but returned later and stabbed his wife with what's believed to be a kitchen knife.
He called 911 afterward and was taken into custody.
Taylor died about a month later.
Berlin says "People have to learn that violence is never the answer." He says if people find themselves in a potentially violent situation, they should walk away and take time to cool off.
CHICAGO COLLEGE-NEW PRESIDENT
New president named at a city college in Chicago
CHICAGO (AP) - A school in the City Colleges of Chicago system has a new president following a nationwide search.
Angelia Millender has been appointed to lead Olive-Harvey College on the city's South Side, a hub of training for transportation, distribution and logistics jobs. A new $45 million TDL facility is currently under construction at the college.
Chancellor Cheryl Hyman announced the appointment Friday. She says Millender brings years of experience to the position. Millender most recently was district vice president for student affairs and enrollment management at Broward College in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
City Colleges of Chicago is the state's largest community college system and one of the largest in the nation. It employs 5,700 faculty and staff and serves 115,000 students annually at seven colleges and six satellite sites.
ILLINOIS PENSIONS-UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT
Pension law means pay cut for college president
CHICAGO (AP) - The president of Chicago State University is taking a big pay cut to comply with a new state law aimed at reducing Illinois' massive pension shortfall.
The Sun Times reports Wayne Watson's new contract reduces his annual salary from $250,008 to $146,363.
The Illinois Legislature in 2012 closed a loophole that allowed college and university employees to retire and draw a pension, then start a new job earning close to the same salary.
The law says anyone receiving pension benefits from the State University Retirement System may not earn more than 40 percent of their highest pre-retirement salary if they go to work at another institution.
Watson retired as chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago in 2009 and receives an annual pension of $140,000 from City Colleges.
Evangelist Gothard resigns after harassment claims
OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) - A prominent Christian evangelist known for promoting a Bible-based home school curriculum has resigned from the Illinois-based organization he led following allegations of sexual harassment.
Bill Gothard founded the Oak Brook-based Institute for Basic Life Principles.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Gothard had been on administrative leave since last month while the group's board investigated allegations he harassed women and girls.
The resignation was announced in a letter from the institute's home schooling program administrative director.
The newspaper said Gothard couldn't be reached for comment.
His organization has conducted Bible-based seminars around the country since the 1960s on subjects ranging from conflict resolution to achieving financial success.
Gothard's so-called "chain of command" teachings promote the belief that bosses, city leaders and husbands are put in elevated positions by God.
Historians unravel mystery of cryptic Lincoln note
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Historians believe they've unraveled the mystery of a cryptic note Abraham Lincoln penned that doesn't identify the recipient by name and has a section clipped out.
Researchers at the Papers of Abraham Lincoln project concluded Lincoln was writing to an ally to ask him to maintain a secret relationship with a political insider during the 1860 election campaign.
Lincoln asked his cohort to "keep up a correspondence" with the person. The use of that phrase gave researchers their best clue.
They ran it through a searchable database they are compiling of Lincoln's papers and found several matches.
One was in a letter to Lincoln from fellow attorney and Republican Leonard Swett of Bloomington, Illinois.
The two, it turns out, were conspiring to keep tabs on a New York political figure.
More goats found dead in Ill. animal cruelty case
HAMPSHIRE TOWNSHIP, Ill. (AP) - Authorities have discovered two more dead animals at a northern Illinois farm at the center of an animal cruelty case.
Kane County Animal Control Administrator Rob Sauceda says two dead baby goats were found Thursday beneath a layer of straw and fecal matter at a Hampshire Township farm.
A total of 11 animals and one fetus have now been found dead there and at another property near Maple Park.
The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald reports 94 petting zoo animals were also found ill and have been impounded.
Thirty-four-year-old Stacy Fiebelkorn was arrested Tuesday and charged with cruelty to animals and failure to provide adequate food, shelter and care. She is free on bond.
A woman who answered the phone Saturday at a listing for Fiebelkorn hung up without commenting.
Annual Ill. eagle count spots record bird numbers
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Audubon Society says volunteers counted a record number of American bald eagles during an annual midwinter survey.
The society said Friday that 5,975 of the birds were counted between January 1st and 15th. Extreme cold in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin is believed to have led to a larger number of the birds to winter in Illinois.
Tom Clay is the society's executive director. He says the highest survey count was 4,292 in 2008. Last year just 2,324 bald eagles were counted.
More than 90 percent of the eagles counted this year were along the Mississippi River.
The society asks volunteers to spot and count American bald eagles to track population and habitat trends and to drum up public interest in eagle conservation.
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