SPRINGFIELD — The chief executive officer of Chicago Public Schools is leaving, and an Illinoisans have a lower opinion of Gov. Pat Quinn than they did two years ago.
So goes the week in the Land of Lincoln.
Head of Chicago Public Schools steps down
Fallout from the seven-day Chicago teachers’ strike in September continued Friday, when Jean-Claude Brizard stepped down. Brizard help the job for less than a year — he signed a two-year contract in April 2011 with a $250,000 annual salary.
Brizard reportedly told Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale that he wanted to step down because of the distraction caused by ongoing questions over how long he would remain in his position.
Quinn, Madigan slide in job-approval poll
Job-approval ratings for Democrats Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan are tumbling, according to a new Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll.
Quinn’s job approval rating was 26 percent, and Madigan’s was at 22 percent statewide.
On the question, “Do you approve of how Pat Quinn is handling state budget issues,” only 19 percent of respondents statewide answered yes.
The poll questioned 700 registered Illinois voters between Oct. 4 and 8. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percent.
Quinn, in particular, has made numerous unpopular decisions since becoming governor in 2010, including closing state prisons, hiking income taxes and making various cuts to the state budget.
In the fall of 2010, just ahead of the election in which Quinn defeated Republican Bill Brady, a Tribune/WGN-TV poll put Quinn’s approval rating at 28 percent.
Southern Illinois counties lagging in online transparency
A new survey of government transparency on county websites in southern Illinois shows only two counties making progress toward openness.
There is plenty of work still to be done, said Brian Costin, director of government reform at the Illinois Policy Institute, a free-market think tank that monitors government transparency in the state.
“With Illinois’ history of corruption, no one in this state should be resisting improving transparency efforts,” he said.
Union and Madison counties earned top scores in the most recent installment of the institute’s “Local Transparency Project,” which grades local government websites on how much public data — such as number of employees, salaries, tax rates, budgets, contracts and meeting calendars, agendas and minutes — is available to users.
Madison County, in the Metro East, received the only passing grade overall. Union County, in far southern Illinois, showed the most improvement since a review three months ago when it did not have a website. Even though it received a failing grade during the most-recent review, Costin said Union County showed clear improvement in the right direction.
State laws, such as the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act, provide some guidance for what local governments must post online, but they can go beyond those requirements. Of the 14 southern Illinois counties surveyed by the institute, only Madison and Union were compliant with posting requirements of the two acts.
Two other counties — St. Clair and Monroe — were compliant with Open Meetings Act posting requirements but not those of FOIA. Ten counties were not compliant with either.
Hey inmates, the state wants that $2M in unemployment benefits back
Illinois unemployment officials are trying to recoup nearly $2 million worth of benefits that wrongfully were paid to people while they were in jail or prison.
More than 1,100 people could be charged criminally for accepting the fraudulent benefits, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, which in July began cross-checking its rolls against inmate logs at prisons and jails throughout the state. People who receive unemployment benefits must be available for work, which they aren’t if they are incarcerated.
“The inmate cross-matching initiative is another important step in rooting out waste, fraud and abuse,” said Jay Rowell, director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
According to figures for July, August and September released by the agency Wednesday, the largest amount collected by someone in jail or prison was $43,000. That person was in the Cook County Jail. Also, 296 Cook County inmates collected $722,689 in wrongful payments.