A butterfly haven for downtown Chicago
Built by the Chicago Academy of Sciences and located in Lincoln Park, the $30 million environmental museum is the first museum to be built in Chicago's parks in more than six decades. The 4, 000-square-foot
Butterfly Haven will have interactive programs to help visitors learn about the lifecycles, migration and behavior of these insects.
A photographic exhibit, "Nature Revisited," showcasing the new museum
opens August 5 at the Chicago Architecture Foundation Atrium Gallery.
Junonia coenia, the Buckeye butterfly, is one of the species breeding at the new Chicago Academy of Sciences museum.
DUPAGE 7-5-0 Lawmen acquitted of conspiracy charges
Another chapter in the wrenching story of the 1983 murder of Jeanine Nicarico has come to a close. On June 5, after a 13-trial week trial, five law enforcement officials were acquitted on charges they had conspired to frame Rolando Cruz for the murder.
Exonerated were former DuPage County prosecutor Thomas Knight and DuPage County sheriff's deputies Dennis Kurzawa, Thomas Vosburgh and James Montesano, who had been accused of falsifying evidence (see Illinois Issues, May, page 24). A fifth defendant in the case, sheriff's Lt. Robert Winkler, was acquitted of charges that he changed his testimony over the years to help the case against Cruz. Winkler opted to have his case heard by Judge William Kelly rather than jurors.
Originally, seven indictments were handed down in the case. But after the prosecution rested. Judge Kelly acquitted former prosecutors Patrick King and Robert - Kilander, making the DuPage 7 the DuPage 5.
Cruz was convicted and sentenced to death in 1985 and again in 1990 before being acquitted in 1995. On the stand in the case against the law enforcement officials, he admitted that he had sought psychiatric treatment for a problem with lying.
Following the acquittal of the law enforcement officials, jurors told reporters that the greatest roadblock to conviction was Cruz's unreliability as a witness. Jurors handed down the verdicts for Knight, Kurzawa, Vosburgh and Montesano after 11 hours of deliberations. Kelly gave his verdict in the Winkler case just prior to the jury announcement.
The verdicts gave a measure of relief to the parents of Jeanine Nicarico, who was 10 years old when she was taken from her Naperville area home, sexually assaulted and murdered. Her parents say they believe Cruz was involved in the murder even though DNA evidence points to another man as the killer. Thomas Nicarico told reporters after the decision, "This is the way it should have been. We shouldn't have been in this courtroom." Maureen foerfsch McKinney
Illinois Issues July/August 1999 / 9
WHO GOT WHAT
Member initiatives spread the wealth to every district
Illinois lawmakers are set to bring home the bacon for their districts.
That certainly won't hurt come election time. And, good news for them, this spring's "something for everybody" state budget allows for an estimated minimum of $280 million in so-called "member initiatives," the vehicles members of the General Assembly use to finance their favorite projects.
Lawmakers will have to go through the four legislative leaders — the Senate president, the House speaker and the two corresponding minority party chiefs — for these discretionary funds. And because next year is an election year, those legislators at risk of losing will get a little extra help from their party chiefs.
Still, the four leaders have been careful to reward their own constituents as well in the $42.8 billion budget year that began July 1.
With so much money on the table, the question is: Who got what? Finding the answer isn't easy. That's because, for the first time in recent memory, most of the legislative projects were not detailed in the budget.
In general. Democrats were more forthcoming about listing their projects, while Republicans chose to designate their initiative dollars in lump sums. Most of those were tucked into the budget of the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, according to Murphysboro GOP Rep. Mike Bost. Republicans say they'll release details over the summer.
A nonscientific comparison of a cross section of projects to be funded through these initiatives shows that most are pretty similar — road and school repair, urban rehab, senior centers — but a few districts will get the benefit of unusual projects.
Senate President James "Pate" Philip of Wood Dale raked in $15.8 million for projects in his district. Major plans for the DuPage County Republican include $11.5 million for five projects in the county forest preserve district.
Sen. Patrick Welch will devote most of his $1.5 million to roads. But the assistant Democratic leader from Peru also has slated $150, 000 to buy land along the Illinois River in Marseilles for parks.
Sen. Terry Link, a Democrat from Vernon Hills, will take $1.6 million back to his traditionally Republican district. His plans include $450, 000 for a park in upper crust Highland Park and $100, 000 for the Lake County Urban League.
Rep. Mary Flowers, a Chicago Democrat, received $1.37 million, and will use about half of those dollars to expand a park in the West Chatham neighborhood on the city's South Side. Along with other education-related projects, she plans to budget $100, 000 for an Arab-American organization for after- school programs.
Bost got about $1.25 million for projects in his downstate district. The Republican allotted about $700, 000 for road projects and the rest for buildings. But he says there's another $800, 000 for his district in the budget, though those projects aren't specified in line-item listings.
"The good thing about using the lump sum process is that you don't have to have the exact wording of where the money will go to," he says. "This allows things to go smoother. We can calmly sit down and not rush around in the last few weeks" [of the session].
Bost says he has already worked with local communities to pinpoint where the money will be spent.
10 / July/August 1999 Illinois Issues
Board of Elections fines tardy campaign committees
Most of the violators were running in municipal elections this past spring. And the most serious fines were levied against Chicago aldermanic candidates. The top penalty of $69, 200 was charged against the New 24th Ward Democratic Organization in Chicago, the political committee of Aid. Michael Chandler. The alderman is appealing the fine, saying there was a misunderstanding about some of the filing requirements.
In the 30 days prior to an election, campaign committees are required to file a report within 48 hours of each contribution of $500 or more to the State Board of Elections. The law imposes a sliding scale of fines on candidates or political committees that miss the deadline. But first-time offenders don't have to pay the fines unless they repeat the offense.
Chandler says his treasurer mistakenly recorded the date the contributor wrote the check, not the date his campaign received it. "As far as the date goes, we were correct and we filed within the 48 hours. My situation is not unique. Obviously, this will make folks do better bookkeeping."
Next January, political committees with more than $25, 000 on hand will be required to file their reports electronically. And many campaigns might have that much in the coffers. The Sunshine Project, a campaign finance watchdog group, reported this summer that the cost of campaigns continues to rise. Candidates for statewide and legislative offices spent a record $93.1 million on the 1998 elections, surpassing their old record of $64.6 million set in 1994.
of ethics law draws
confusion and criticism
The slow compliance may stem from confusion among many small towns about whether the new law applies to them. Called the gift ban act, the law seems to require local governments and school boards, as well as the legislature and the constitutional officers, to establish separate ethics commissions.
Earlier this spring, Alderson and others were hoping lawmakers would approve a measure to exempt or clarify the responsibilities of local governments (see Illinois Issues, May, page 9). The Senate did pass an amendment to the act that would allow local governments to send ethics complaints to a county- wide panel. But the amendment didn't pass the House. The issue could be revived in the legislature's fall veto session.
Alderson says the law, as it stands now, fails to spell out what form cities should follow in organizing an ethics panel: "Should a municipality emulate the state and create panels for its executive and legislative branches? Should there be a panel for a local treasurer or finance officer? Pretty soon you have everybody in the state in government."
But Steve Brown, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, says towns and cities organize commissions for many reasons, and this shouldn't be a burden. "The law includes cities," Brown says. "They should be able to find people for a panel."
The state's constitutional officers and the legislature have already made moves to comply with ethics panel requirements under the new law.
Illinois Issues July/August 1999 / 11