THE BLOG
07/19/2013 11:36 am ET Updated Sep 18, 2013

Rep. Franks: Maybe Metra's Clifford broke law?

IT'S ALL IN THE BERRIOS FAMILY CIRCLE Cook County taxpayers got dinged this week by county Assessor Joe Berrios as they will foot the $500,000 bill for his firing of workers so he could hire his relatives and friends. Berrios has a history of keeping it in the family and is unapologetic. Cartoonist Scott Stantis also is unapologetic in his vision of the Berrios nepotism. Click to see the full cartoon and enjoy!
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METRA EX CEO THE LAW BREAKER? Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks serves on the House committee probing the Metra severance/memo scandal. In a Reboot Illinois interview with Madeleine Doubek, Franks suggests ex CEO Alex Clifford had a duty to report to authorities the political pressure he alleges he was under to give out raises and jobs to cronies. Franks also has harsh words for the Metra board, but plays nice with his Democratic House Speaker Michael J. Madigan. You won't want to miss this Q and A!
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THAT METRA CRAZY TRAIN, II. If the Metra $718,000 severance deal sends you off the rails, you'll need to look at part two of our Metra crazy train infographic. What connection do House Speaker Michael Madigan and Metra Chairman Brad O'Halloran share? How much is former Metra/Madigan campaign worker Patrick Ward making in salary now? We've got the facts, numbers and quotes you'll want to read right here.
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IT'S NOT FAIR For decades, the political party that wins the right to draw up the legislative district map has used it as an opportunity to rig the system in favor of their members. They choose their voters.You, the voter, really gets no say. We've got to end the incumbent protection program. We've joined the Yes for Independent Maps movement to act to do something about it. We need your help. Don't you want to be able to say you stepped up to help? Click here to find out more and sign on for what promises to be the most important political fix for the better.

SAY WHAT ABOUT CORRUPTION?! "I want you to hear what God...has done for me." That's just one of the quotes we've collected from some of the names in the corruption news so far this year. You'll want to check out all of our Corruption Top 10 quotables in our collections here and here.

CHICAGO, MEET THE PENSION CRISIS Moody's downgraded Chicago's credit ratings three notches. Within 24 hours, Chicago Public Schools officials revealed they are laying off another 2,000 employees, including 1,036 teachers. This is just the latest of the litany of woes that affects every Illinoisan because of our politicians' failure to enact pension reform. Chicago and Illinois' economic troubles are rooted in the chaos our out-of-control pension costs have brought to state government. Help us keep the pressure on our lawmakers to fix this crisis. Sign on here and check out our infographic timeline on the history of Illinois' pension trouble.

SO MUCH WASTE, SO LITTLE TIME Imagine walking into a government office, asking for $5,000 and being handed a check - without anyone bothering to verify whether you qualify for the money. That's pretty much how it works in the state's health care program for the poor and disabled. And it needs to stop. Scott Reeder of the Illinois Policy Institute takes a look at efforts to stem the waste and how much more needs to be done. Get more Reeder here.

BEST READS THIS WEEK! ​Here are the Top 5 most viewed items on rebootillinois.com in the past week:

5. Reboot blog: Lisa Madigan won't run for governor!
4. Reboot blog: Who needs more political family drama?
3. Reboot blog: Metra, Mell, Madigan: Scandal trifecta!
2. Reboot petition: We deserve good Illinois government. I'm in to end corruption.
1. Reboot blog with Metra memo: Here's the original Metra Memo we're all talking about!

7 TO SAVOR We've got the links to the state's 7 best news and views offered up today. Convenience for you in the Daily Tip-Off section of our website. Here are the top picks:

7. One western Illinois newspaper believes the wrong Madigan backed down this week. (Quad City Times)
6. Illinois' unemployment rate got higher. (Chicago Tribune)
5. Metra's board of directors are supposed to be on summer break, but a special session is planned possibly as early as next week as the CEO severance scandal continues. (Daily Herald)
4. Moody's Investors Service downgraded Chicago's bond rating three notches, the first downgrade of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's term. (Chicago Tribune)
3. Editorial: The need to fix the pension crisis increased Thursday as Chicago's bond rating was downgraded, Illinois' unemployment rate increased and Detroit filed for bankruptcy. (Chicago Tribune)
2. Chicago Public Schools announced more than 2,000 workers, including more than 1,000 teachers, will be laid off. (Chicago Tribune)
1. Opinion: On the eve of massive layoffs, some honesty from CPS would help in not alienating parents. (Chicago Sun-Times)