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WEATHER ALERT: Severe storms expected late this afternoon and evening

News Around Illinois – July 17, 2020

The latest news around the state, for July 17, 2020.

ComEd To Pay $200M Over Bribery, Illinois Speaker Implicated

CHICAGO (AP) — Electric utility ComEd has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a long-running bribery scheme that implicates Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, federal prosecutors announced Friday. The company has admitted that it arranged jobs, subcontracted work and monetary payments related to those jobs “for various associates of a high-level elected official for the state of Illinois,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a news release. That elected official is identified as “Public Official A” in the release. A deferred prosecution agreement for ComEd filed in federal court states that “Public Official A” is the Illinois House Speaker, but Madigan — the the longest-serving state House speaker in modern American history — is not mentioned by name. Madigan’s spokesman, Steve Brown, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday and didn’t immediately respond to a voice message. – Associated Press

Pritzker Lawsuit Seeks Face Mask Order For Illinois Schools

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker took the unusual step Thursday of preemptively filing a lawsuit to ensure school children wear face coverings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus when schools reopen in a few weeks. The action filed late Thursday in Sangamon County Circuit Court by the state attorney general seeks a judge’s approval of Pritzker’s order that schoolchildren, teachers and staff wear coverings over mouths and noses among other measures to reduce the chance that the highly contagious and potentially deadly virus can spread. It’s typical for the governor to be in court as a defendant seeking validation of a policy or action. In this instance, no lawsuit has been filed, but a public school district and two private academies have informed the Illinois State Board of Education that Pritzker no longer has authority under emergency rule-making to require face masks in schools and that they will be developing their own safety rules. – John O’Connor – Associated Press

Rebuild Of Damaged Illinois Covered Bridge Nears Completion

LONG GROVE, Ill (AP) — Work is nearing completion on a $1 million project to rebuild a covered bridge in northern Illinois that was severely damaged two years ago by a delivery truck. Long Grove village President Bill Jacob said work on the steel-reinforced reconstruction of the community’s iconic covered bridge is in the “homestretch” and crews are installing the roof rafters this week. The bridge, which dates back to 1906, had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places in June 2018. Sixteen days later, a box truck plowed into it, severely damaging the structure, the Lake County News-Sun reported. – Associated Press

Rev. C.T. Vivian, Key Civil Rights Leader, Has Died At 95

ATLANTA (AP) — The Rev. C.T. Vivian, an early and key adviser to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who organized pivotal campaigns in the civil rights movement and spent decades after advocating for justice and equality, died Friday at the age of 95. Vivian began staging sit-ins against segregation in Peoria, Illinois, in the 1940s — a dozen years before lunch-counter protests by college students made national news. He met King soon after the budding civil rights leader’s leadership of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, and helped translate ideas into action by organizing the Freedom Rides that eventually forced federal intervention across the South. President Barack Obama honored Vivian with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013, saying that “time and again, Reverend Vivian was among the first to be in the action: in 1947, joining a sit-in to integrate an Illinois restaurant.” – Desiree Seals and Michael Warren – Associated Press

Former Top Cop Had ‘Several Large Servings Of Rum’ Before He Was Found Asleep At The Wheel, Report Says

Fired Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson consumed “several large servings of rum” before driving drunk and apparently passing out for nearly two hours in a city-issued car last fall, according to a new report from Chicago’s Office of Inspector General. But multiple officers failed to conduct a sobriety test and allowed Johnson to drive himself home, the report found. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired Johnson last December, weeks before his scheduled retirement, saying he lied to her and the public about the drinking-and-driving incident. – Patrick Smith – WBEZ

ISU Faculty Look For More Course Control As Reopening Nears

Illinois State University faculty took the first steps Thursday toward asserting the power to make their own decisions individually about whether they feel safe teaching face-to-face this fall. More than 400 faculty and invited guests attended an online meeting focused on concerns about ISU’s reopening plan. That plan-in-progress, dubbed Redbirds Return, calls for a mix of face-to-face, hybrid, and online-only courses. Residence hall and dining centers will be open with new restrictions. On-campus coronavirus testing will be available for students. Masks will be required, but enforcement is muddy. – Ryan Denham – WGLT

Pritzker Deciding Whether To Halt Evictions Again

Governor J.B. Pritzker says he is considering extending a moratorium on evictions beyond the end of July. During a stop in Rockford, Thursday, Pritzker was asked if he planned to renew the order when it expires at the end of the month. As part of his emergency orders surrounding COVID-19, the governor had halted evictions for unpaid rent and mortgages in Illinois. With that set to expire in two weeks, the governor said he is focused on the issue. – Mary Hansen and Bill Wheelhouse – WUIS

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Severe storms possible Thursday evening and overnight

From the National Weather Service in Central Illinois: A line of t’storms will affect the area late Thursday afternoon into the overnight hours. Some severe storms are in the forecast, with damaging wind gusts and large hail. Stay weather aware and be ready to take shelter when storms approach.