<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:51:15 -0500 Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:51:15 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Body Is Missing U.Va. Student: Cops]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:50:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hannah+graham+triple+photo.jpg

The remains found Oct. 18 on an abandoned property are those of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, the Albemarle County Police Department said Friday.

The suspect in her disappearance, Jesse L. Matthew, Jr., was charged last month with abduction with attempt to defile Graham, 18.

"We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Hannah," Graham's parents, John and Sue Graham, said in a statement Friday afternoon. "Over recent weeks Hannah has been described by those who know her as bright, witty, thoughtful, loyal and fun to be around. She was all those things and more."

Graham's parents' statement continued:

Put simply, Hannah lit up our lives, the lives of our family and the lives of her friends and others who knew her. Although we have lost our precious Hannah, the light she radiated can never be extinguished. We will hold it in our hearts forever and it will help sustain us as we face a painful future without her.

Graham's family originally lived in England but later moved to the United States; Graham graduated from West Potomac High School in Fairfax County, Virginia in 2013.

In her second year at UVa., Graham had intended to pursue a career in global public health and wanted to help others, her parents said. They said it is heartbreaking that she'll never get to pursue that dream.

UVa. President Teresa Sullivan released a statement Friday, noting the 18-year-old "brought immense energy and delight to her learning at the university, [where] she was a source of friendship and joy for so many people."

Graham's family thanked Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo and other law enforcement agents for their dedication.

The Albemarle County Police Department announced the medical examiner's results at about 4:40 p.m. Friday, saying on Twitter, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Graham family & Hannah's friends during this incredibly difficult time."

Volunteer searchers found the remains at about noon Oct. 18 in an "abandoned property" in the Walnut Creek Park area of Albemarle County, authorities said.

A day later, investigators interviewed nearby residents, and forensic teams combed the sides of a road for several miles past the site. 

Authorities are still asking to hear from people who live along Old Lynchburg Road or those who may have any information; the Charlottesville Police Department's tip line remains open at 434-295-3851.

Matthew's attorney, Jim Camblos, issued a statement Friday, saying the "Carrs (Matthew's family) asked me to convey that they will continue to pray for the Grahams and the Harringtons throughout this ordeal."

Graham was reported missing after a night out with with friends Sept. 12. She was last seen on surveillance videos from the early morning hours of Sept. 13.

The videos show her walking unsteadily, and later running, in downtown Charlottesville. She is also shown with a man police have identified as Matthew, who is shown wrapping his arm around Graham. He is also accused of buying her alcohol.

Investigators believe Matthew, a hospital worker and former taxi driver, acted alone and didn't know Graham before her disappearance.

Matthew was arrested in Texas two weeks after Graham's disappearance, and was extradited to Virginia, where he remains in custody in the Charlottesville area.

He is not due for a court appearance in the case until December, but could appear in a Fairfax, Virginia court earlier to face charges in a separate, earlier case.

Matthew was indicted Monday for attempted capital murder and two other felonies in that case, a 2005 attack on a 26-year-old woman in Fairfax, Virginia.

Police said the victim was walking home from a grocery store in September 2005 when a man grabbed her and forced her into a wooded area, where he assaulted her. He fled after being startled by another person.

On Thursday, a Fairfax judge issued a bench warrant to bring Matthew to Northern Virginia to face charges in that case.

Authorities have previously said DNA evidence links the 2005 Fairfax assault to the murder of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington in fall 2009.

Harrington disappeared after attending a concert at the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville. Her body was found in January 2010, a little more than five miles from where Graham's body was found Oct. 18.

No one has been charged in Harrington's murder. But Harrington's parents have been active in searching for Graham, noting the similarities between the two cases.

"I thought [Graham's disappearance] seemed very similar to Morgan's situation with sort of the question of her maybe being somewhat impaired, someone just picking her up and trying to take care of her," Dan Harrington said earlier this fall.

Virginia State Police said late last month that they believe they have found a link between Harrington's death and Graham's disappearance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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<![CDATA[Rose Says Kane Pushes Him to Excel on Court for Bulls]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:48:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/175*120/457315830.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls share a home arena, and with that shared space comes some mutual admiration, as players from both teams are often seen supporting one another in the stands at games.

One such relationship has formed between Bulls guard Derrick Rose and Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane. Pictures of Kane at Bulls games are common place (his relationship with LeBron James has also been noted a time or three), and in the past, he’s spoken highly of the way Rose plays the game.

On Friday, Rose returned the favor in an interview with ESPN’s Scott Powers:

“He’s a talent the way that he skates, how he is on the ice and the way he is able to play an aggressive game and still be productive in games….I’m a fan. He’s pushing me along with him. He’s pushing me.”

Rose will be looking to have a big bounce back season after a torn meniscus ended his 2013-14 season, and even as he makes adjustments to his game, it appears as though he still values what speed can bring to the table for an undersized player. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FBI, IRS Agents Raid Chinatown Restaurants]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:59:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/fbi-chinatown-2.jpg

FBI agents executed search warrants at "a number of locations" in Chicago as part of an ongoing investigation, an agency spokeswoman said.

Lao Beijing Restaurant, on the 2100 block of South Archer Avenue, in the Chinatown neighborhood, was one of several locations visted. The owner, Tony Hu, owns the Tony Gourmet Group, and it appeared several of his locations were being investigated.

"No arrests [are] involved with today's activity," Special Agent Joan Hyde told NBC Chicago.

The IRS was also involved in Friday's action. It remained unclear as of 1 p.m. Friday what the investigation was regarding.



Photo Credit: Chris Coffey
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<![CDATA[A History of School Shootings Since Newtown]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:49:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/school-shooting-AP746502146007_0.jpg

A student opened fire in a high school cafeteria on Friday, killing at least one person and wounding at least three others before killing himself, officials said.

The shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, outside of Seattle, happened during the lunch period. Witnesses described the shooter walking in with a blank stare before opening fire.

"Just all of a sudden I see him stand up, pull something out of his pocket," Austin Taylor, who had just finished lunch, told NBC affiliate KING. 

Taylor said he heard five pops, then saw three kids fall from the table.

The shooting is at least the 11th planned mass shooting at a school since the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, when Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 first-grade students and six adult staff members at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, before killing himself. Here's a look at the ten other major incidents.

Reynolds High School, Oregon

June 10, 2014

Parents of 15-year-old gunman, Jared Michael Padgett, were "confused and shocked" when they found out their son was the suspected killer in the school shootings at an Oregon high school that left one student dead, NBC News reported.The shooter concealed his weapons, an AR-15 type rifle, a semi-automatic handgun, a knife and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, in a backpack and guitar case. Padgett killed a 14-year-old student athlete, Emilio Hoffman. He eventually killed himself in the school bathroom, police said.

Seattle Pacific University, Washington

June 5, 2014

The man responsible for the Seattle Pacific University shootings at the beginning of June was off his psychosis medication because he "wanted to feel the hate", the Associated Press reported. Aaron Rey Ybarra, 26, was armed with a shotgun, a knife and nearly 50 shells of ammunition with intentions to attack a mass number of students and managed to injure two people and kill one 19-year-old student before a student security guard subdued the shooter with pepper spray. After being arrested, police learned Ybarra had done extensive research on other mass shootings, and the shooter told police he didn't target anyone but had a "hatred for the world in general," according to the Associated Press.

Berrendo Middle School, New Mexico

January 14, 2014

 A 12-year-old boy pulled a sawed-off shotgun from his bag and fired shots in a New Mexico Middle School gymnasium. According to officials, the unnamed seventh grade shooter opened fire in the school’s gym with a 20-gauge shotgun, killing one student and seriously injuring two others. John Masterson, an eighth grade social studies teacher, approached the shooter and talked him into putting down the weapon.

Arapahoe High School, Colorado

December 13, 2013

Karl Pierson, 18, entered Arapahoe High School on December 13th, 2013, equipped with a shot gun, a machete, 125 rounds of ammunition and three Molotov cocktails. Pierson entered the school through a door that was normally locked; he fired his first shot randomly in the school’s hallway, then his second, killing 17-year-old Claire Esther Davis. With his final shot, the gunman took his own life, shooting himself in the head. The teen was likely motivated by a dispute with his former debate coach, NBC News reported. 

Sparks Middle School, Nevada

October 21, 2013

A 12-year-old student arrived on the grounds of Sparks Middle School and shot a student in the shoulder, wounding him, then shot and killed Michael Landsberry, a math teacher at the school. The boy’s violent streak ended when he shot himself in the head. The shooter never entered the building and no shots were fired by law enforcement, NBC News reported. A Sparks student, Michelle Hernandez, told the Reno Gazette-Journal that the shooter had complained about being teased.

McNair Discovery Learning Academy, Georgia

August 20, 2013

A young male opened fire at a Georgia elementary school last year. Michael Brandon Hill, 20, was taken into custody after he fired six rounds of gun shots in the main office of the McNair Discovery Learning Academy. Hill was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, terroristic threats, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to officials. No one was injured, NBC News reported. 

Santa Monica College, California

June 7, 2013

John Zawahri, a former student of Santa Monica College, went on a mile-long shooting spree that culminated at Santa Monice College. He first set his father's house on fire, then carjacked a vehicle and threatened to kill the driver if she didn't drive him to the SMC campus, officials said. Zawahri killed five people and injured several others before killing himself, according to NBC News. Zawahri’s father and brother were among the victims.

New River Community College (NRCC), Virginia

April 12, 2013

An 18-year-old college student, Neil Allan MacInnis, faces two counts of malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony after shooting and injuring two women at New River Community College's satellite campus at the New River Valley Mall. The Christiansburg Police Department police chief said a year earlier MacInnis participated in the Christiansburg Police Department Citizens Academy program: a 12-week course where citizens observe the department on a regular day, get the opportunity to ride along in police cars, tour the offices and practice with firearms at the shooting range. 

University of Central Florida, Florida

March 18, 2013

James Oliver Seevakumaran, 30, planned a massacre at the University of Central Florida -- making a checklist that included instructions like "pull fire alarm" and "give them hell", police told NBC News. He pulled the firearm and pointed the gun at his roommate before the roommate slipped away and hid in a bathroom. When officers arrived, they found Seevakumaran dead in his bedroom, from a self-inclicted gunshot wound. They also found a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, a .22-caliber tactical rifle, ammunition and a backpack with four homemade explosive devices.

Taft Union High School, California

January 10, 2013

A 16-year-old student came to Taft Union High School armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, intent on shooting two students who had bullied him, authorities said. He shot one in the chest, and fired at another but missed the other. Both students survived. Many students described the shooter as a loner and a year earlier, the shooter was suspended for compiling a "hit list", police said.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Passengers File Lawsuit After Indiana Megabus Crash]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:49:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/megabus+crash+indiana.jpg

At least eight passengers are suing Megabus after they were injured in a double-decker bus crash on earlier this month on I-65 outside of Indianapolis.

The lawsuit claims the bus had mechanical failures and never should have been on the road. Passengers said they received emails from Megabus mid-trip and the bus driver made public announcements about the bus’ mechanical failures.

“In light of the bus driver’s announcement and the Megabus email acknowledging a mechanical failure with the bus," attorney Thomas A. Zimmerman, Jr. said in a statement, "we obtained an emergency order from the Court to preserve the bus and its components so that we can have it examined by an expert.”

The suit alleges Megabus was negligent in maintaining and operating the bus.

Sean Hughes, associate director of corporate affairs for Megabus.com said the company believes "it is premature for anyone to comment on the cause of the accident while the investigation is ongoing. However, Megabus.com has no reason to believe that faulty wipers caused or contributed to the happening of this accident."

"Megabus.com takes the safety of our passengers as its number one priority, consistently going above and beyond federal requirements," Hughes said.

The bus was traveling from Atlanta to Chicago on Oct. 14 when it crashed and rolled onto its side at about 4:25 a.m. in Greenwood, Indiana. Between 50 and 60 people were on board, and officials said at least 18 people suffered injuries.

State police Sgt. Shawn O'Keefe told reporters the driver apparently tried to avoid an accident when the crash happened.

Passengers who filed a lawsuit a day after the crash said they could hear the bus driver complaining about the windshield wipers not working.

Their lawsuit states that each plaintiff suffered "personal injuries, financial damages and subsequent medical expenses." Injuries included a separated shoulder, knocked-out teeth and numerous facial cuts that required stitches.

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<![CDATA[TODAY'S FORECAST: Cloudy & Cool Start]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:53:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Andy+Avalos+Updated.jpg

Friday: Cloudy and a cool start to the day, but milder than recent mornings with temps in the mid to upper 40s well inland, but most locations in the low to mid 50s. Morning clouds will give gradually way to more sun as we go through the day, pleasant this afternoon. Highs in the low to mid 60s. Light S/SW winds 6 to 12 mph.

Tonight: Partly to mostly cloudy with a few sprinkles or a stray shower possible, but most areas will stay dry; pleasantly cool overnight with temps holding in the low to mid 50s.

Saturday: Partly to mostly sunny, breezy and pleasant. Highs in the mid to upper 60s in the afternoon, a few locations could hit 70º!

Sunday: Mostly sunny, breezy and a little cooler with afternoon highs in the mid 60s.  Clouds increase in the evening with showers possible overnight into the predawn hours of Monday.

Monday: Clouds break for partial sunshine in the morninig, but clouds increase in the afternoon with showers possible in the evening.  Windy and warmer with after temps reaching the lower 70s. Rain showers appear more likely at night.

Tuesday: Cloudy with showers in the morning, some partial clearing in the afternoon; breezy and cooler. Highs in the low to mid 60s, but temps gradually fall.

Wednesday: Partly sunny, breezy and even cooler. Highs in the mid 50s.

Thursday: Parlty cloudy with a chance for showers, seasonably cool. Mid to upper 50s.

]]>
<![CDATA[Top Chicago Halloween Costumes for 2014]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:22:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/186344907.jpg There is still time to find your Halloween costume. Here are the most popular costumes in Chicago and where you can get them.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Colors of Fall 2014]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:20:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/179*120/ee2f003830db48b4833e1fa7a62d55ae.JPG.jpg Midwest weather is always unpredictable but one thing can be counted on, the beautiful fall colors. Look at photos of fall captured from around Illinois.

Photo Credit: Patrick Richardson]]>
<![CDATA[Judge Appoints Monitor for IDOT Hiring]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:06:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_pat_quinn16.jpg

A federal judge has named the same attorney who oversaw hiring in the city of Chicago to monitor hiring problems at Gov. Pat Quinn's Department of Transportation. 

A brief Friday order names Chicago attorney Noelle Brennan. She monitored Chicago hiring from 2005 until this year when the city was found to be largely in compliance of decrees barring patronage hiring.
Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier decided Wednesday to appoint an IDOT monitor. That was a setback for the Democratic governor, whose re-election campaign claims he's navigated Illinois away from ethical problems.
Anti-patronage campaigner Michael Shakman has alleged improper hiring at IDOT.
Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman says Quinn "has directed IDOT to work closely" with Brennan and the court to ensure all "rules are strictly followed."
Quinn's office has denied any wrongdoing.

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<![CDATA[Opinion: Why Oberweis Is Pivoting on Gay Marriage]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:00:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/10P_PKG_OBERWEIS_LUNCHEON_13786509_1200x675_196265539512.jpg

In a stunning turnaround, Jim Oberweis has revealed that he would support a federal law for gay marriage though he'd rather states have the final say on the issue.

Previously the Republican state senator voted against legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois, so this apparent evolution in his mindset comes as a surprise—or does it? Consider where Oberweis made the statement: Onstage during his first official debate against Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, whom he's trying to knock out of office despite insurmountable odds. Durbin, by all accounts, will easily win a fourth term in the Senate on Election Day Nov. 4; he's out-fundraised the Sugar Grove dairy mogul by the millions, and bull-dozed him in a recent pseudo-debate at the Chicago Tribune's editorial board.

Oberweis dropped his gay marriage bombshell while the candidates sparred on the subject Wednesday night, saying recent court decisions paved the path for legalization in several states and he'd now back a federal law.

"Time has passed and I believe courts have said that that is the law and I will uphold the law of the land," declared Oberweis, later refusing to elaborate when reporters noted afterward that, no, there's actually not a federal law authorizing marriage equality across the nation.

Durbin, who has sought to link Oberweis to the tea party, said gay marriage should be legal in each state and on the federal level, too.

Given his dire circumstances—the election is right around the corner and he's got nothing to lose—Oberweis may have thought that a high-profile, media-attracting debate was be a pretty good time to steal some shine from Durbin and announce his pivot on the subject.

It perhaps had less to do with personal philosophy than with politics: After all, Republicans in 2014 are trying to shake off a negative view of the party as backwards and out of touch, especially on wedge social issues like gay marriage that are gaining a gradual cultural acceptance; making such a last-ditch declaration is a way to get Oberweis attention at a crucial moment and re-spin him as closer to a fiscally conservative, socially moderate brand of Republican. But that spin will only go so far, since Oberweis is forever tainted by that tone-deaf, anti-immigration ad from his previous failed Senate bid circa 2004.

His fellow Illinois Republican, 10th-district congressional candidate Bob Dold, is hogging much of the national GOP's resources, in addition to gobs of outside money from super PACS and deep-pocketed donors like billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Dold's district, up in Chicago's tony, Democratic-leaning northern suburbs, is a battleground and the outcome a toss-up. The Kenilworth businessman has moved to present himself as a political independent who is both—here we go again—fiscally conservative and socially moderate. He's been endorsed in a TV ad by like-minded Sen. Mark Kirk, a well regarded Republican centrist and Durbin ally serving the 10th, who's shied away from publicly campaigning for Oberweis.

Kirk was the second GOP senator to back gay marriage, with Dold coming around to change his mind ahead of its 2013 legalization in this state.

As he prepares to lose another senatorial campaign, Oberweis' flip-flopping can be viewed in several lights: A) A desperate attempt to rebrand (and rehab) his image in the vein of Kirk, Dold and other establishment GOP-ers; B) A noble, if not seemingly genuine, effort to propel forward on a popular and important civil rights issue; C) A cynical strategy to get on the good sides of GOP voters for whom the "tea party" is tantamount to  "Voldemort"; or D) All of the above.

Asked whether he intended to run against Kirk in 2016, Oberweis quipped recently: "I'm going to win in 2014, so I don't even have to think about that."

It's precisely that kind of outsized confidence that could beckon the ambitious "Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride" state lawmaker back for round four after three losing bids. Maybe he'll give away more ice cream next time.

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<![CDATA[Top Figure Skaters Performing in Suburbs]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:03:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009394232_1200x675_347545155993.jpg Skate America is bringing the top U.S. figure skaters to the north suburbs this weekend, and a local athelte is among them. LeeAnn Trotter reports.]]> <![CDATA[This Week in Mudslinging: Bruce Rauner Is An Alpha Bully; Oberweis Is Toast.]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:59:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/SKoreanMudFest.jpg

There's T minus 12 days to go 'til Election Day, and no clear winner in the close battle between Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and challenger Bruce Rauner. Both men are in survival mode. The stakes are high. This cash-strapped state's future hangs in the balance. Cockroaches run amok.

Without further ado, This Week in Mudslinging:

Quinn vs. Rauner. The nemeses ripped one another to shreds in their final debate before Election Day, firing off the muddiest round of Quinn-sults and Rauner rips thus far in this knock-down, drag-out fight. Rauner, a finger-pointing "mansplainer" onstage, repeatedly bashed the incumbent Democrat as a "failure" and a "phony," to which Quinn responded: "He's a champion name caller." (If this were a kindergarten playground, Rauner would get a time out. Then he would try to buy his way out of time-out, by donating millions to build a new charter school for over-privileged children in Lincoln Park.) The multi-millionaire GOP investor then dropped his braggiest campaign ad yet, touting all of his mainstream media endorsements. Next came results of a Tribune poll showing the two rivals in "dead heat" with Rauner inching two percentage points ahead of Quinn, 45-43, thanks to growing support from white suburban collar-county women voters who tend toward the fiscally conservative and the socially moderate. Can Quinn out-campaign Mr. Mansplain heading into the home stretch? With the outcome in "toss-up" territory, the governor got some back-up this week from Democratic power brokers like President Barack Obama and ex-President Bill Clinton, slinging mud on his behalf in Chicago (where Quinn has a firm grip), as well as Veep Joe Biden, traveling north to Vernon Hills to stump in the battleground 10th district. Negative ads abounded.

Dave McKinney vs. the Sun-Times and Rauner. Sending shockwaves throughout the incestuous Chicago media-verse, McKinney—a veteran political reporter at the liberal-leaning Sun-Timesresigned in protest after brass allegedly cowed to pressure from Rauner's PR team to kill a controversial story he was working on and "yanked" him off his beat. In a letter addressed to Sun-Times owner Michael Ferro, whom he blamed for a "chilling effect in the newsroom," the journalist lamented that the candidate's aides had forwarded to higher-ups an error-ridden "opposition-research hit piece" falsely suggesting that his wife, a Democratic political consultant, was collaborating on the story. The final straw for McKinney? The paper's decision to break its no-endorsement policy, endorse Rauner over Quinn and support "the very campaign that had unleashed what Sun-Times management had declared as a defamatory attack on me." Now he might sue, but in this case, a legal victory is an uphill battle. For more on this insidery yet significant media scandal, see my colleague Mark Anderson's excellent essay "Sun-Times Squanders Trust Right When City, State Need It The Most."

Dick Durbin vs. Jim Oberweis. The second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate has no competition whatsoever from the Illinois state Republican senator and ice cream tycoon. He's now 14 points ahead of Oberweis. Despite those long odds, Durbin's GOP rival keeps on swinging ... and missing. In the enemies' first and only televised debate Wedneday, he slammed the incumbent as "smooth" and out of touch with "people on the streets." Sniped Oberweis: "He's not the same man that he was 32 years ago when he first ran for Congress." Countering, Durbin linked the Sugar Grove politician to the much-maligned tea party and referenced Oberweis' past remarks encouraging a tea party group to "take over" the state Republican Party. Oberweis, pulling a Biden, made headlines by publicly supporting gay marriage, and Durbin—a strong proponent of marriage equality—had no mud to sling upon that surprising 180 from the guy who voted against making it legal here in the Land of Lincoln.

City Council vs. Cockroach. Having once lived in New York City, the sight of a cockroach gives me stress hives. I instinctively want to reach for a can of Raid and spray the vermin before it disappears underneath my bed never to be seen again until eight hours later, when it re-surfaces and FLIES ACROSS MY STUDIO APARTMENT. Cockroaches are prehistoric, resilient bugs. And they can smell fear. They also appreciate irony. On Thursday one was spotted climbing up the walls of City Council during testimony from Fleet and Facility Management Commissioner David Reynolds, the authority in charge of ridding the city of such pests. Reynold said afterward, "I was mortified. The timing is ironic, that in the middle of my budget hearing a cockroach decides to make itself known." That is exactly why I am dubbing it the very first "Mudslinger of the Week" for hilariously—and courageously—creeping into a notorious chamber of corruption and keeping aldermen on their toes.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Funeral Homes Step Up to Cover Homicide Victims' Funeral Costs]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:22:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Darren-Vann.jpg

The owners of funeral homes in Northwest Indiana and Chicago have stepped up to cover the funeral costs for two women who may have been killed by suspected serial killer Darren Vann.

Smith-Bizzell Funeral Home in Gary will take care of the funeral for Anith Jones, The Gary Post-Tribune reported late Thursday. Additionally, Planet Green Cremations in Glenwood, south of Chicago, are covering the cremation costs for Afrikka Hardy.


Hardy, 19, was found slain inside a room of a Motel 6 in Hammond on Oct. 17. Vann, 43, was arrested a day later and, according to police, provided information which led to the discovery of six more bodies, including Jones' on Saturday. All of the deaths were ruled homicides.

Vann was subsequently charged with murder in both cases.

A third potential victim of Vann's, Kristine Williams, will have a funeral on Nov. 1 in Knox, Tennessee, her father said in a Friday post on Facebook. Funeral arrangements for 28-year-old Teairra Batey and the three women who have yet to be positively identified were not known Friday.

Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey on Tuesday asked for the public's help in identifying two of the women who were recovered over the weekend. Anyone with information is asked to call the Lake County Coroner’s Office at 219-755-3265.

Officials in Northwest Indiana and suburban Chicago, including Cook County, have checked abandoned homes in recent days searching for additional victims. Vann has indicated to police that his crimes could date back 20 years, police said.

A judge ordered Vann held in contempt of court Wednesday when the former Marine refused to even acknowledge his name during an initial court hearing in Hardy's slaying.

Vann was convicted in 2009 of raping a woman in Austin, Texas. He was released from prison last year and moved back to Indiana. Before that conviction, he served a year in prison in Indiana after he grabbed a Gary woman in a chokehold in 2004, doused her with gasoline and threatened to set her on fire.

In both cases, the charges against Vann were reduced in plea bargains, and Texas officials deemed him a low risk for violence. Vann registered as a sex offender in Indiana and police checked in September that he lived at the address he provided.



Photo Credit: Hammond Police Department
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<![CDATA[Stunning Time Lapse of Chicago Before Solar Eclipse]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:18:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009389175_1200x675_347389507503.jpg Before Thursday's solar eclipse, we captured this breathtaking time lapse of Chicago's skyline.]]> <![CDATA[Officer "Alert" After Being Shot on South Side]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:03:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cop-shot-stretcher-1.jpg

An off-duty police officer was in "serious but stable" condition after being shot during a possible attempted robbery early Friday in Chicago's South Side Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood.

"He was in great spirits. He was praising God that it wasn't his time yet," Felicia Warner, a cousin of the 41-year-old officer, said outside Mt. Sinai Medical Center.

The District 3 officer, whose name was not publicly released as of 5 a.m., was sitting in a vehicle in the 7400 block of South Langley Avenue shortly before 1 a.m. when he was approached by three males, Chicago Police Department First Deputy Superintendent Al Wysinger told reporters.

Sensing something was wrong, the officer began to drive away when he was shot once in the chest, Wysinger said.

"He just knew that the guys were on something, and so his instincts just kicked in," said Warner.

The officer took a through-and-through wound to the chest and continued driving until he flagged down a marked squad car, which drove him to University of Chicago Medical Center. Once the officer’s condition had stabilized, he was taken by ambulance to Mount Sinai Hospital, Wysinger said. He was "awake and alert" as of 3:15 a.m.

Marty Maloney, deputy director of police News Affairs, said the officer was listed in “serious but stable” condition.

No one was in custody as of 5 a.m., but officers were investigating.


"Detectives are out there. We're going step-by-step, possibly door-by-door to see if anybody that lives in the community may have witnessed this, may have saw the direction the offenders may have fled in, and we're back-tracking to see if maybe they left any clues or dropped any items as they fled," Wysinger said.

The officer, who has been with the department for eight years and has received 22 departmental awards. He has three children.

Supt. Garry McCarthy, who normally speaks on officers injured, was out of town at a conference at the time of the shooting.


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<![CDATA[NY, NJ Tighten Standards for Travelers at Risk for Ebola]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:59:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_newark_hospital_ebola_st.jpg

Anyone flying into John F. Kennedy or Newark Liberty International Airport after having contact with Ebola-infected patients in one of three West African nations battling an epidemic of the deadly virus will face a mandatory 21-day quarantine, the governors of New York and New Jersey announced Friday.

“We have to do more," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday. "It's too serious of a situation to leave it to the honor system of compliance."

The new measures came one day after a doctor who had recently returned from an Ebola assignment in Guinea was diagnosed with the virus in New York City. In addition to the mandatory quarantine for those who came in direct contact with patients in the Ebola-ravaged nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, health officials at those two airports have been authorized to actively monitor and quarantine if necessary anyone with a travel history in that region.

Craig Spencer, a doctor just back from a month-long stint treating Ebola patients for Doctors Without Borders, was admitted into an isolation unit at Bellevue Hospital on Thursday, less than a week after he arrived home. In the days prior to his Ebola diagnosis, he made several outings in the city, including coffee in one of Manhattan’s tourist-packed parks, a stop by a meatball shop and a subway ride to Brooklyn for an evening of bowling with friends.

While Spencer followed the self-monitoring protocols issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some experts are now suggesting health workers who return from Ebola-ravaged areas do more to avoid public places.

City officials praised the quick response to his illness and said Spencer, the city's first reported Ebola patient, followed all the proper steps to monitor his health and minimize exposure. But Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in retrospect those steps weren't enough.

"New Jersey and New York are going to determine the standards of quarantine since the CDC's guidance is continually changing," Christie said.

The governor tweeted that a health care worker who arrived at Newark International Airport after treating Ebola patients in West Africa is now under quarantine and has no symptoms.

The Obama administration also is considering quarantining healthcare workers returning to the United States from the Ebola hot zone of West Africa, Reuters reported.

Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Reuters on Friday that quarantine was one option being discussed regarding the monitoring of healthcare workers.

"We want to strike the right balance of doing what is best to protect the public’s health while not impeding whatsoever our ability to combat the epidemic in West Africa,” Skinner said. “Our risk here will not be zero until we stop the epidemic there.”

Some public health experts were already urging added extra caution as more doctors and others potentially exposed to the virus return from the front lines of fighting the outbreak in West Africa. Tighter restrictions on such health care workers could prevent mass hysteria and make the job easier on health detectives in the event of a positive Ebola test, they say.

Dr. Joseph McCormick, a professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health who has cared for Ebola patients, said while putting a large number of people in quarantine because of possible casual interaction “is not warranted,” as the virus can only be spread by contact with the bodily fluids of person with symptoms, some situations may merit more prudence.

“I would say that for somebody like a health provider like the physician who clearly was in direct contact with patients, I’m not sure that total quarantine is needed but I think a more cautious approach to traveling around the city probably would be warranted,” McCormick, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official who investigated the first Ebola epidemic, said. “We all have to balance our messages here.”

The safeguards followed by Spencer, recommended by the CDC and Doctors Without Borders, included taking his temperature twice daily, watching for fever and other symptoms during the virus’ 21-day incubation period. Living in New York, he was well within the recommended 4-hour radius of a hospital with isolation facilities. When his temperature hit 100.3 degrees Thursday morning, he called health officials and was quickly moved to Bellevue Hospital.

Still, at least one other relief group operating in West Africa has gone beyond the CDC recommendations in light of the heightened public concern following the infection of two nurses treating an Ebola patient at a Dallas hospital, including one who took flights to and from Ohio while she was self-monitoring for signs of the virus.

Samaritan’s Purse is mandating that employees who return from its efforts in Liberia undergo a “self-imposed, no-touch self sequestration” for 21 days that limits even physical contact with family members, according to Kendell Kauffeldt, the Christian international relief organization’s longtime country director in Liberia. Employees of the organization, which made headlines after its own Dr. Kent Brantly survived an infection, are also required to take their temperature four times a day, with the trigger for alerting officials set one degree lower than the CDC's level. They require returning staff, including three who are currently in the incubation period, stay within 90 minutes of an isolation facility for those three weeks.

Kauffeldt, who lived in Liberia for 10 years before returning to the United States with his family in August, stressed that Spencer took all the required steps and the potential of “anyone else becoming infected is almost zero because he followed the protocol.” He said the added precautions enacted for his own colleagues were simply meant to go even farther to ensure general public health, the safety of their employees and peace of mind.

“It was really just in reaction to the situations in Dallas and just recognizing that there is a level of uninformed fear, but we still as an organization have a responsibility to the general public to ensure we were doing everything possible for their safety and their health,’ he said.

The protocols for monitoring and protecting those workers will likely remain in the spotlight, as more are deployed to fight an outbreak that has sickened more than 10,000 since March. Demand for doctors is still high, and thousands have volunteered through an online portal USAID set up in early September to match qualified applicants with aid organizations.

Doctors, nurses and other medical aides are considered at the highest risk for contracting the virus because they deal with bodily fluids from the sickest of patients and the World Health Organization says an “unprecedented” number have been infected in this outbreak. In all, more than 440 health care workers have contracted Ebola and 244 have died as of Oct. 19, the WHO says. Six other American health workers — four who worked in Africa and two from a Dallas hospital that treated a patient from Liberia — contracted Ebola and recovered after receiving treatment in the U.S.

Both New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett and National Institute of Health’s Anthony Fauci, who cared for one of the Dallas nurses, suggested Friday that the federal guidelines for monitoring are the subject of active discussion.

 

Eden Wells, clinical associate professor of epidemiology and director of the Preventive Medicine Residency at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, said she would personally restrict her movements if she were returning from West Africa or had been caring for someone with Ebola. She stressed she did was not criticizing Spencer, who she noted followed the current protocols.

She’d take the more cautious approach “not only just to reassure the public but it is also to aid public health epidemiologist disease detective, because the more contact that’s out there that has to be investigated because someone did leave the home really taxes the system.”

“Whether they’re sick or not sick what happens is any time a case like this happens there’s an incredible amount of resources undertaken to do the investigation to reassure everyone that there’s not then another case as a result of a contact,” she said.

Doctors Without Borders, which did not return multiple interview requests, said in a statement Friday that it will investigate how Spencer contracted the virus. But it acknowledged that even with its “Extremely strict procedures “ for staff, the “risk cannot be completely eliminated.”

"Tragically, as we struggle to bring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa under control, some members of our staff have not been spared," Executive Director Sophie Delaunay said in a statement."Our thoughts are with our colleague in his own struggle right now, and we sincerely hope for his quick and full recovery."
 


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<![CDATA[2014 Chicago-Area Halloween Decorations]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:13:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/b479bfdd068a47c2a37049d319d54c3d.jpg From spider webs to front-yard mock cemeteries, some Halloween enthusiasts love to show their holiday spirit with spooky decor. Here are haunted decorations from around the Chicago area.

Photo Credit: Brianna Gentile]]>
<![CDATA[Joe Maddon's Tampa Departure Heats Up Cubs Speculation]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:41:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/maddon-martinez.jpg

The Tampa Bay Rays have long been a model of what baseball teams in small markets should do. Led by GM Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon, the Rays made the playoffs four times and reached the 2008 World Series, becoming one of the biggest success stories in the sport.

After a disappointing 2014 season however, things are now changing in Tampa, as Friedman left earlier this month to become the President of Baseball Operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers. On Friday, the next domino fell, as it was revealed that Maddon had opted out of the final year of his deal with the Rays to pursue other options.

Speculation was rampant when Friedman was hired by the Dodgers that Maddon would eventually follow him to southern California, but according to various reports, Maddon isn’t interested in the job. With Don Mattingly getting a vote of confidence from Friedman when he was hired, the thought is that the team is at least a year away from looking for an alternative on the bench, but another team could potentially stand to benefit from Maddon’s resignation: the Cubs.

The Cubs do have manager Rick Renteria under contract for two more seasons, but according to several national baseball reporters, they are viewed as the frontrunner for Maddon’s services:

Members of the Chicago media haven’t reported anything on the topic, but it’s still an intriguing idea. With a roster flush with young talent and a minor league system that’s preparing to churn out even more players (Kris Bryant was named the best offensive player in minor league baseball on Thursday), the Cubs have a lot of similarities to the Rays teams that Maddon piloted to four playoff appearances, and unlike Tampa, the Cubs actually have the financial resources to go out and secure top-tier talent rather than just watching it leave town as soon as it’s able to.

 All of the Cubs’ talk this offseason has been about their goal for 2015, which is to win the NL Central. Going out and getting a player like James Shields, Cole Hamels, or Jon Lester could be a huge boost to those chances, but adding a guy like Maddon to the mix would be an absolute coup. With playoff experience, a unique style, and most importantly of all, an ability to command respect from his players, Maddon would seem to be a tailor-made fit in Chicago, and the Cubs would be wise to look into his interest immediately.

There are some downsides to the plan, to be sure. Renteria was brought in specifically to work with young Latin American players like Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, and Jorge Soler, and he did exactly that. Castro had a bounce back year after a subpar 2013, and Soler came into the big leagues crushing the ball with regularity. Anthony Rizzo also responded well to the first year of the Renteria experiment, and while Maddon does have a reputation for getting a lot out of younger players, it’s unclear whether firing Renteria would send a bad signal to players like Castro and Baez.

That reality leaves the Cubs with an interesting decision to make. Maddon is clearly the best available candidate on the market, but does his availability fit in with the time frame that the team is working with? If this had occurred last season, there’s little doubt that the Cubs would have aggressively pushed for him, but Renteria’s two remaining years and success in working with Castro casts some doubt on a change.

It will be an interesting situation to follow, and the Cubs’ approach to the situation will be a great indicator of where they feel they are in their rebuilding process.

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<![CDATA[Three Stars: Smith, Shaw Shine as Hawks Fall ]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:01:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/174*120/456929204.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks gave it a valiant effort, but despite goals from Ben Smith and Andrew Shaw they fell just short in a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators.
Even in the losing effort, several players’ performances stood out, and we’ll give them some kudos in this edition of Three Stars.
Third Star: Trevor van Riemsdyk
One of the things the Blackhawks have missed with Nick Leddy being traded is his ability to bring the puck into the offensive zone consistently, but they may have found an adequate replacement in van Riemsdyk.
During Thursday’s game, the rookie split the Nashville defense on several occasions, using his speed and strength to muscle his way into the zone. He set up several quality scoring chances, and even though he didn’t pick up any points, he still was one of the most active blue liners on a night that the Hawks needed him to be.
Another thing that van Riemsdyk has brought to the party is some responsible defensive skill. In Thursday’s game he blocked four shots, and none of them were more important than the one he stopped from Taylor Beck in the second period. On the play, Nashville got an unexpected 3-on-2 rush from the blue line in, and Beck looked to be gaining the outside edge when he got the puck. Van Riemsdyk made a quick adjustment on the ice and dove to block the shot. He ended up getting kicked in the head for his trouble, but the important thing was that he was okay and that the Predators didn’t score.
It was a great play by the youngster, and if this is indicative of what the Hawks can expect from him going forward, he’s going to be a really nice addition to the blue line corps.
Second Star: Andrew Shaw
Shaw’s third period goal was a thing of beauty, and all it took was a funky bounce off the boards to make it happen.
Retrieving the puck in the defensive zone, Shaw skated through the neutral zone and tried to dump the puck into the offensive zone for a teammate to retrieve it. The puck ended up hitting the boards and bouncing out toward the middle of the ice instead of skirting along behind the net, and Shaw picked it up. He then drove straight to the front of the net, and even though Pekka Rinne made an initial save, Shaw was able to bat the rebound out of midair and into the goal to make it a 3-2 game.
It was, needless to say, a very odd play because of the bounces, but the big takeaway was how Shaw reacted to it. Seeing the open space allowed him to drive immediately to the front of the net, and the whole play seemed to take Nashville by surprise. It was a good goal set up by good ice-awareness and hand-eye coordination, and it’s a continuation of Shaw’s strong start to the season.
First Star: Ben Smith
Smith is a Swiss Army Knife in Joel Quenneville’s arsenal of weapons, and he showed that ability on Thursday. He was strong on the penalty kill, looked good in even strength minutes with Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw, and played responsible defense whether at even strength or short-handed.
Smith’s biggest contribution to the game came in the first period when he scored the first goal of the contest for Chicago. On the play, Smith worked his way into the corner and wrestled the puck out of a scrum. He then pushed a pass to Marcus Kruger, who ended up putting a wraparound attempt through the goal crease. Fortunately for him, Smith was crashing the net on the other side, and when he punched in the rebound, the Hawks grabbed a 1-0 lead.
The play was a perfect encapsulation of what Smith brings to the table for the Hawks. He is willing to go into dirty area to win puck battles, he crashes the net with abandon when necessary, and most importantly of all, he can score goals. It was a great play all-around, and if the Hawks had won, it would have stood out even more.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bears' Run Game Can Thrive Against Patriots Sunday]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:21:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bears+packers+12-29+13.jpg

The Chicago Bears haven’t gotten many opportunities to run the ball this season, as they’ve faced some of the best rushing defenses in the NFL in the first seven weeks. Sunday’s game should be a big exception to that rule, as they face a New England Patriots team that is currently ranked 24th in the league in that category.
This isn’t just a matter of one team gashing the Patriots either. They’ve had a few good weeks, only allowing 54 rushing yards to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2 for example, but they’ve also had some really bad weeks. In a Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots were gashed for 191 yards, with Knowshon Moreno picking up 134 for the team. In Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs, things were even worse for New England as they coughed up 207 rushing yards and nearly had a pair of 100-yard rushers against them as Knile Davis and Jamaal Charles both ran roughshod over them.
The big game that the Bears need to pay attention to is the Week 7 game the Patriots won over the New York Jets. A blocked field goal at the end of the game preserved the win for New England, but before that they had given up 218 yards on the ground to Chris Ivory and company. In total, the Jets averaged 5.1 yards per carry against the Patriots’ defense.
While the Patriots do have some really good weapons to use against the Bears, such as defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and defensive end Rob Ninkovich, but they will be missing a couple of key pieces too. Linebacker Jerod Mayo will still be out of their lineup, a huge loss up the middle, and defensive end Chandler Jones will also be out for the game, depriving them of one of their best pass rushers and run defenders.
As the Patriots deal with those losses, the Bears have got to be able to get Matt Forte and Ka’Deem Carey going early. Against the Green Bay Packers (who also vary up their defensive fronts in a similar way to the Patriots), both players were able to get some serious yards both up the middle and around the edge, and Sunday should provide similar opportunities. Having healthy linemen in Matt Slauson and Roberto Garza will only help in that regard, and if Jordan Mills can go on Sunday (he’s been limited in practice this week), he is a much better run blocker than he is a pass blocker.
Adding to the urgency for the Bears is that the Patriots’ pass defense is currently the best in the NFL, only allowing 204 yards per game through the air. Cornerbacks Alfonzo Dennard and Darrelle Revis are among the best in the league, and safety Devin McCourty is a dangerous weapon in the middle of the field. Jay Cutler will have to tread carefully against them, and having a solid running performance from Forte and Carey could open things up in the passing game too.
Ultimately, this game is going to come down to time of possession and the Bears’ ability to establish that they aren’t just a one-trick pony. This isn’t the kind of game that’s going to be won with deep passes and Cutler’s arm. This game will be won or lost based on the Bears’ ability to show the Patriots that they can run the ball, and if they can’t, it’s going to be a long afternoon in Foxboro.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Opinion: Was City Duped on Interest Rate Swaps?]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:28:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chicago+skyline+getty1.jpg

One of the most underreported stories to come out of the 2008 global financial crisis is the relationship between big Wall Street firms, local municipalities and budget decisions. 

In cities big and small across the country, city officials entered into complex financial deals known as interest rate swaps that in many cases have backfired on them, costing millions in potentially unnecessary payments and fees. 

Now, activists and others are calling on the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools to come clean about their own dealings with interest rate swaps, charging the city and CPS are dragging their feet in doing all they can to challenge the terms of any bad deals they’ve entered into. 

The question becomes: what does the city have to hide? 

Boiled down to their basics, interest rate swaps offer a debt issuer, such as a city or school district, the opportunity to avoid higher interest rates on bonds they issue. They do so by typically exchange fixed rate interest payments for variable rates, determined in large part by how the economy is doing and how specific market indexes behave. 

Chicago has long used interest rate swaps as a potential hedge against higher interest rates. It even has a publicly listed “Swap Policy”, which details how and when swaps should or shouldn’t be used.

For it’s part, the Daley administration relied heavily on interest rate swaps as part of its overall strategy for issuing bonds and fixing the city’s budget. However, two factors have conspired to make at least some of those deals go bad: a drop in interest rates and downgrades in the city’s credit rating. 

The Chicago Sun-Times has reported the city could be on the hook for $200 million because of the deals if the city’s credit rating drops further. Bloomberg is reporting it could cost the city as much as $400 million to get out of the deals entirely. 

For it’s part, CPS is believed to have spent more than $800 million in payments to banks and financial services firms as part of interest rate swap agreements. 

Organizations such as the Chicago Teacher’s Union, AFSCME Council 31 and SEIU Healthcare have called on the mayor and CPS leadership to file for arbitration with FINRA, the financial industry’s regulatory body, to seek a refund of payments for what they say were “fraudulent” swap deals.

As well, the Chicago City Council's Progressive Reform Caucus has called for an end to the interest-rate swap agreements with banks and private investment firms, including Bank of America and Loop Capital. 

Recently, former North Carolina Congressman and onetime member of the House Financial Services Committee Brad Miller testified before an open CPS meeting, calling on municipal issuers like Chicago and CPS to review the specific documents pertaining to their deals and explore legal options to recover their payments on the grounds that they likely violated state and federal laws. 

Yet, in another example of how politics and public policy are done in Chicago, the Emanuel administration has said the city has looked into the matter and decided there’s simply nothing to be done

According to Corporation Counsel Steve Patton, not only have city lawyers concluded that there's no provable case of fraud or misrepresentation here but city officials hired two outside hot shots to make sure: James Kopecky, a former supervisor in the enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission in Chicago, and Daniel Collins, a former federal prosecutor. 

They just completed their work and found that “there's no claim to be filed,” Mr. Patton said. 

When it comes to municipalities, much of the success of financial firms leading up to the 2008 crisis and beyond depended on the mismatch between the financial expertise of Wall Street professionals and the lack of sophistication of many town and county administrators.  

Yet big cities such as Denver, Kansas City, Philadelphia, New York and others all are in the hole on swaps agreements they made with financial firms. 

In a letter to the editor of the Sun-Times, Saqib Bhatti, director of the ReFund America Project and fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, pointed out that it’s not like the city hasn't been duped before.

Although the mayor would have us believe that Chicago’s finance teams are too sophisticated to be swindled by banks, the parking meter fiasco demonstrates that city officials have the capacity to be duped. Interestingly, Morgan Stanley, one of the key banks involved in the parking meter deal, was also a major underwriter on the bonds underlying the city’s swaps. 

Activists such as Miller and the CTU have repeatedly asked both CPS and the city to disclose documents pertaining to the deals that would shed light on how they were made and what banks and financial services firms promised to the city to make the sale. Yet, repeatedly, they’ve been told their requests were too burdensome or the documents wouldn’t be delivered. 

Which is how things seem to work in Chicago: even as millions of dollars fly out the door, there’s no reason anyone should see how the deals were made.  



Photo Credit: Jeff Gentner/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Map: Where NYC Ebola Patient Went]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:45:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ebola+map.jpg
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<![CDATA[Police To Screen CTA Passengers' Bags for Explosives]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:18:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CTA+screening.jpg

Starting in November, Chicago Transit Authority train passengers' bags will be randomly screened for possible explosive materials as part of a new security procedure. 

The Chicago Police Department introduced the federally funded counterterrorism effort on Friday and said screening will begin Nov. 3.

“While there are no credible threats to Chicago or to the region’s public transportation facilities, Chicago is taking this step, as other major cities in the United States and around the world have already done, to ensure the safety of residents and passengers,” Supt. Garry McCarthy said in a statement.

Each day a mobile explosive screening team will set up at one CTA rail station and randomly select passengers before they pay CTA fare. Their bags will be swabbed with a cloth and tested using a small machine that detects explosives.

If possible explosive materials are detected, officers will ask to inspect the bag. Police said the procedure, which is similar to the one completed during large events in Chicago, will take less than a minute and expect it won't impact customers' commute time.

"The baggage screening process is non-invasive, takes a very short time, and will be done in an open area of the station prior to the customer entering the turnstiles," said Nancy Lipman with the Chicago Police Department's Public Transportation Unit.

If a customer refuses the screening, the rider will be denied access to the train.

The initiative already has been implemented in New Jersey, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Boston and at Amtrak stations.



Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[Rauner Pours Extra $3 Million Into His Governor Campaign]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:41:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bruce_Rauner_marijuana.jpg

With Election Day less than two weeks away, Bruce Rauner is replenishing his campaign war chest with even more money: He's written checks worth $3 million in the span of 48 hours to bring his total self-donations to an eye-popping $23 million.

The multi-millionaire Republican Illinois gubernatorial candidate, formerly a managing partner at Chicago private equity firm GTCR ("R" stands for "Rauner"), deposited separate payments of $1.5 million on Monday and Tuesday of this week, according to Illinois State Board of Elections records.

Rauner has spent generously in October, earlier this month adding $6 million to his expensive bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn while picking up endorsements from the state's biggest newspapers (and most controversially, the Sun-Times).

Quinn, meanwhile, has countered his opponent's cash-fueled offensive with support from heavyweight Democrats President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, who've all flown to the Windy City in recent days to stump for the vulnerable governor.

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<![CDATA[More Than 12 Hospitalized at Navy Pier Skrillex Show]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:13:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/190*120/tlmd_nombres_reales_famosos_03.jpg

Amid reports of rampant drug use and an unusually high number of concertgoers seeking medical treatment from a Skrillex concert at Navy Pier Saturday night, a pier spokesman confirmed Wednesday that more than a dozen people were transported to area hospitals.

An EMS source said the majority of those transports were for drug overdoses. Navy Pier spokesman Nick Shields would not comment on that, but confirmed that 16 people were transported during the event, which ran from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.

More than 10,000 people were in attendance.

Skrillex, the former Sonny John Moore, is an electronic dance music producer, DJ, and singer from Los Angeles.

Andrew Bazos, a physician and President of CrowdRX, which oversees medical safety for SFX, the promoter of the Skrillex show, said his firm always has an emergency medical doctor in the venue. And he noted that every city has different rules about who gets transported versus those who are treated on site.

"The policy in Chicago has been to take anyone who presents to the hospital," Bazos said. "We’re there for people who haven’t been smart, and safety is number one."

He agreed that there are suggestions that the wildly popular electronic music genre may need to consider a higher age limit.

"It has brought a young, crazier demo," he said, "but also immature."

"If their parents were there, they would have gone home with their parents," he said. "It’s not fair to make the promoter take care of kids who don’t know how to behave. ... They’re young, and they’re often irresponsible."

Bazos said those transported from the Skrillex concert were taken to four downtown hospitals: Northwestern, St. Joseph, Lurie Children’s Hospital, and Mercy.

SFX, the promoter of the shows, he said, takes extra precautions to guarantee safety. Not only are private ambulances put on retainer, but he said, "peer" representatives circulate in the crowds to try and spot anyone who might be needing medical assistance.

"We’re very strict at the doors so that people don’t bring bad things in," he said. "I personally think that the more that word gets out there, the better."

Bazos estimated a third of those in attendance at the show were minors, and a considerable percentage of those transported were for alcohol.

The genre has been the focus of criticism in other cities after some high-profile tragedies. A 15-year-old girl died from a suspected Ecstasy overdose at the "Electric Daisy Carnival" in Los Angeles in 2010. A year later, a 19-year-old died at a companion event in Dallas.

In an interview earlier this year with the Toronto Sun, Skrillex admitted "problems within the subculture" of his music resulting from drug use which seems to be endemic to the crowds.

"The tragedies that get reported are within a minority of shows," he said. "And although those are tragic and shouldn’t be overlooked, you can’t blame an idea for how a culture has taken it and run with it."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gas Prices Drop Below $3 in Some Chicago Suburbs]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 18:01:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/gas-prices3.jpg

While Illinois gas prices continue to float above the national average, what drivers are paying at the pump is going down.

Prices in Naperville, Batavia and Elgin are below $3, and gasbuddy.com says the drop is the lowest in almost four years.

It's a trend that has been seen across the nation as signs outside more and more gas stations nationwide are broadcasting gas for under $3 a gallon — but whatever relief the price drop spells for drivers, it could also signal economic troubles ahead.

The nationwide average for a gallon of regular was just under $3.19 last week, down 9 cents from a week earlier, according to AAA. In Illinois, the average was $3.38, down 16 cents from the week prior.

It's much lower than in many places. A full 30 percent of gas stations nationwide are selling gas for less than $3 a gallon, and prices are still falling, the motor club says.

But the plunge reflects ongoing weakness in the global economy, and some of the factors behind the drop could affect the U.S. economy beyond Big Oil's bottom line, experts told The Associated Press.

Prices are dropping just as demand drops, and production booms, worldwide, and as the robust U.S. dollar remains at a four-year high against other currencies, the AP reported.

In the U.S., domestic oil production is higher than it's been in decades. The boom, bolstered by drilling in North Dakota, has been encouraged by high prices thus far. Too steep of a price drop could discourage it if production ceases to be profitable.

Prices haven't fallen that far yet, but they're expected to keep dropping, barring a global economic turnaround or a production cut by OPEC.

It's unclear what OPEC might do next to reverse the trend. Leaders of the group of oil-producing nations are split, the New York Times reported on Monday. Venezuela and Iran are calling for action to reverse the drop, while some Gulf states, notably Saudi Arabia, are choosing to allow prices to fall while they work to shore up their market share in the face of ramped-up U.S. production, according to the Times.

And while the domestic production boom can help insulate the U.S. economy against the vagaries of the global markets, especially given instability in the Middle East, the U.S. could have a hard time exporting its oil products.

That's because the relative strength of the dollar makes U.S. oil costlier than oil from elsewhere. The dollar's strength could in turn threaten export levels, suppress the domestic oil economy and job growth and even tamp down global oil demand.

What that means for gas prices is unclear, at least until OPEC takes action. In the meantime, analysts say the average U.S. price for a gallon of regular could fall below $3 by the end of the year — potentially making for a relatively inexpensive holiday travel season.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Man Charged in 2002 Bedford Park Cold Case]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 18:06:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/187*120/boyd-cold-case.jpg

A former Oak Lawn resident was arrested Wednesday on first-degree murder charges as he walked out of prison to start probation for an unrelated conviction.

Steven Podkulski, 40, was ordered held in lieu of $3 million bail during a very brief court appearance in Bridgeview in connection with the 2002 cold case murder of Jennifer Boyd.

"We were all hoping from Day One that this would happen," Boyd's mother, Susan Boyd, said as she walked into court. "But the longer it got the less likely I thought that it would ever come."

"Hopefully this is a start to the end," she added.

Podkulski and his attorney, Colleen McSweeney-Moore, declined to comment on the new charges.

Jennifer Boyd was working as a manager of the Public Storage, on the 6900 block of West 79th Street, in the Chicago suburb of Bedford Park, when she was stabbed multiple times in an empty unit and left to die. She was 27 years old.

Boyd's sister, Rebecca Hernandez, held a memorial balloon launch on the last Aug. 3 anniversary of her sister's death to call attention to the case and "to celebrate her life."

Officials from the Bedford Park Police Department and the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force said they investigated Boyd's death for more than a year and a half before leads in the case went cold in late 2004. The case was reopened eight years later, and subsequent interviews with those questioned a decade earlier turned up new leads, police said.  Those leads pointed them to Podkulski, who until Tuesday was serving time in Statesville Correctional Center in Crest Hill.

His rap sheet from the Illinois Department of Corrections includes convictions for burglary, theft, and weapons violations.

Boyd's relatives vowed to be in court every day to see Podkulski face justice, even if it meant walking to the courthouse.

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<![CDATA[Michelle Obama Stars In Another Pro-Quinn TV Ad: Video]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:31:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/169*120/Michelle-Obama-Ikram-thumb2.jpg

Gov. Pat Quinn's campaign has released a new TV ad starring First Lady Michelle Obama, this one with footage from her Oct. 7 rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The 30-second spot interweaves Obama's passionate pro-Quinn speech with images of the governor in Good Citizen Mode, visiting schoolchildren and talking to Illinoisians at a diner. She urges the crowd to vote early, saying "let's just get this done."

"I know Pat Quinn. His push for the minimum wage is essential," declares Obama. "If you think women should get equal pay for equal work, if you want our kids to have quality pre-school, have a chance to go to college, if you want a governor who shares our values, then we need Pat Quinn has governor of Illinois!"

Earlier this month, she appeared in Quinn TV and radio ads touting the Chicago Democrat's efforts to boost Illinois' minimum wage and improve the lives of military veterans.

The incumbent, locked in a tight race against Republican rival Bruce Rauner, has recruited a small army of political A-listers to stump on his behalf including the Obamas, the Clintons and Vice President Joe Biden. His political future in this state will be decided Nov. 4, on Election Day.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jackie Robinson West Featured on Frosted Flakes Box]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:56:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jackie+robinson+west+frosted+flakes.jpg

The Little League World Series team that captured Chicago's heart now has a spot in the cereal hall of fame.

Jackie Robinson West's likeness was featured this month on boxes of Frosted Flakes holding a banner that reads "United States World Series Champions."

Though the commemorative boxes aren't for sale to the public, Frosted Flakes presented the boxes to the team last weekend "as a token of appreciation and a recognition of their amazing accomplishments at the 2014 Little League World Series."

This is the latest honor for the U.S. champs, whose homecoming this summer was celebrated with a rally at Jackie Robinson Park, a parade through downtown and a ticker-tape finale at Millennium Park.

Both the Cubs and White Sox honored the team, the players were granted their Disney World Wish, and Dick's Sporting Goods presented the team with a $164,000 check from T-shirt sales.

The icing on the cake? President Barack Obama even invited them to the White House.



Photo Credit: Frosted Flakes]]>
<![CDATA[Partial Solar Eclipse in Chicago]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:35:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/35144d5e6ffc42e9bdd65995c3841fa9.jpg The partial solar eclipse took place last night and people from around Illinois were able to capture it.

Photo Credit: Streff, Stephanie (NBCUniversal, WMAQ)]]>
<![CDATA[Despite Strict Protocol, Risks Remain for Ebola Doctors: Group]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:25:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_newark_hospital_ebola_st.jpg

The medical and humanitarian organization that employed the New York doctor who tested positive for the Ebola virus said that the risk for staff returning from the front lines in West Africa can't be completely eliminated, even with "extremely strict procedures" to protect against the potentially deadly disease. 

Craig Spencer tested positive for the potentially deadly virus at New York's Bellevue Hospital on Thursday, six days after he arrived home from an Ebola assignment in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders.  He is the first Ebola case in New York City and the fourth diagnosed in the United States.

Doctors Without Borders, which is also known internationally as Médecins Sans Frontières, said the doctor who contracted the virus followed its guidelines for self-monitoring, which includes checking temperature twice a day and staying within four hours of a hospital with isolation facilities during a 21-day incubation period. He was admitted to the hospital on Thursday after reporting a fever of 100.3 degrees. 

"Extremely strict procedures are in place for staff dispatched to Ebola affected countries before, during, and after their assignments," Sophie Delaunay, executive director of MSF, said in a statement. "Despite the strict protocols, risk cannot be completely eliminated. However, close post-assignment monitoring allows for early detection of cases and for swift isolation and medical management."

The organization has launched a "thorough investigation" to identify how Spencer contracted Ebola.

More than 10,000 people have fallen ill with Ebola since the outbreak began in March, creating a dire need for international health workers in the West African countries that have been hardest hit. 

Spencer, 33, is one of more than 700 international staff Doctors Without Borders has sent to Ebola-stricken countries since March. Three international staff and 21 locally employed staff have fallen ill with the virus since that time, with 13 dying of the disease.

“Tragically, as we struggle to bring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa under control, some members of our staff have not been spared,” Delaunay said in the statement. “Our thoughts are with our colleague in his own struggle right now, and we sincerely hope for his quick and full recovery.”

Scores of other aid groups and health workers have stepped up as well. More than 3,700 people have signed up using an online portal USAID launched in early September to connect potential volunteers with aid organizations, said Lisa Hibbert-Simpson, press officer with USAID. Demand for more help hasn't slowed, she said.

“The need will exist until we have it under control," she said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says health workers are among those facing the highest risk of contracting the virus, which is spread through contact with bodily fluids from a person who is already showing symptoms.

In late August, the World Health Organization called the "high proportion" of doctors, nurses and heath care workers infected "unprecedented." As of late October, the virus had sickened more than 440 health care workers worldwide, claiming the lives of 224.

Four American health workers and a freelance cameraman for NBC who fell ill after working in West Africa have recovered from Ebola after receiving treatment back in the United States. Two nurses in Dallas who contracted the virus while caring for a patient diagnosed there were also recently declared Ebola free. That patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, has been the only person to die of the virus in the U.S. so far.

Officials in New York have said the risk to the public is minimal given the timing of Spencer's symptoms and admission to the isolation unit.   They believe he had direct contact with fiancee and two friends, before going to the hospital. The three have been quarantined and are in good health, New York City's health commissioner said.

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<![CDATA[Dallas Nurse Pham Ebola-Free]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:46:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP570888027428.jpg

Dallas nurse Nina Pham was declared free of Ebola and discharged from the hospital on Friday, just before she met with and hugged President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

"I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today," Pham said in a brief statement outside the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, just before she headed to the White House. "I am on my way back to recovery, even as I reflect how many others have not been so fortunate."

Tests show that Pham, who contracted the virus while caring for the first patient diagnosed in the United States, has no more virus in her system, Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH told reporters.

Pham thanked everyone who has been praying for her, and the medical workers who have been caring for her. "As a nurse, I have a special appreciation for the care I have received from so many," she said.

Pham, a nurse with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, contracted Ebola while helping to care for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. She helped treat him from his first day in intensive care at until Oct. 7, the day before he died, NBC5 in Dallas reported.

Pham was flown via charter flight Oct. 16 to Frederick, Maryland's municipal airport and taken by ambulance to the Clinical Center, a hospital located on the grounds of the 312-acre NIH campus in Bethesda.

In her statement Friday, Pham thanked Dr. Kent Brantly, the first American to recover from Ebola, for the "selfless act" of donating his blood, and she asked people to pray with her for her colleague Amber Vinson and for just-diagnosed Dr. Craig Spencer.

In advance of Pham's arrival at NIH last week, Fauci, one of the most highly respected immunologists in the world, announced he would be her admitting physician.

On Friday, while wearing the colors of Pham's nursing school, Texas Christian, Fauci called her a "courageous and lovely person," saying that she also represents the nurses and healthcare workers who put themselves on the line caring for sick patients.

He said they did not administer any experimental drugs to Pham during her treatment at NIH.

Fauci said she was doing well in Texas, and continued to do well at NIH. "We both supported her, so I can't pinpoint in one patient, what was the turning point," he said.

Fauci said it was not possible to pinpoint whether Brantley's donation of plasma was critical in her recovery and that more research is needed.

He said Pham's youth and general health were likely other factors that likely helped, as was the fact that she entered a hospital that was able to give her intensive care early.

Fauci said that Pham communicated with her family via FaceTime during her treatment -- and that she taught him how to use the program, too.

"I gave her my cell phone number just in case I get lonely," he quipped.

Pham's dog, Bentley, tested negative for the virus, Dallas officials announced Wednesday. Dallas Animal Services have been caring for him in isolation. Officials said they'll run one more test before the end of a 21-day quarantine period Nov. 1.

Pham said Friday she plans to return home to Texas and looks forward to reuniting with Bentley.

Pham's Texas hospital said the decision to transfer her to NIH was made in consultation with Pham and her family, adding that many of the medical personnel who would have usually worked in the intensive care unit were themselves "sidelined" for monitoring.

In an emotional video recorded shortly before she left Texas, Pham is shown in her hospital room speaking with a doctor and another medical worker, telling them, "Come to Maryland, everybody!" and "I love you guys."

As medical workers prepared to transport Pham to Dallas' Love Field last week, her coworkers at Texas Health Presbyterian held up signs to encourage her.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[1 Dead, 1 Injured After Officer-Involved Shooting]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 06:22:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/shooting-7900-s-justine.jpg

One person was killed and two others were wounded after an armed robbery attempt led to a police-involved shooting in Chicago's Auburn Gresham neighborhood on the South Side late Thursday, police said.

Officers said they were on patrol near the 7900 block of South Justine Street shortly before 12 a.m. when they saw two males in an alley approached by two others who announced a robbery, authorities said in a statement.

"The officers pull up. They see an individual firing a weapon in the alley about three houses down. Two of the officers get out [and yell] 'Police! Drop the gun!' The guy turns and starts running through a gangway," said Fraternal Order of Police Spokesman Pat Camden.

The two robbers shot the two other males, then ran off as officers approached, police said. The officers chased one male who turned and pointed a dark object in their direction. One officer then shot the male, police said.

The male was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in serious condition, Camden said. The other robbery suspect ran off and was not in police custody by 6 a.m.

One of the males who was shot in the robbery was pronounced dead at the scene, and the other suffered a gunshot wound to the leg and was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in good condition, Camden added.

A spokesperson with the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the fatality but did not have additional details as of 6 a.m. Friday.

No officers were injured.

As is standard in officer-involved shootings, the Independent Police Review Authority was notified to investigate.


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