Midwest Correspondent
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May 27, 2015

Nebraska legislature repeals death penalty, overriding governor’s veto

By David Bailey and Fiona Ortiz

(Reuters) – Nebraska on Wednesday became the 19th U.S. state to abolish capital punishment as legislators narrowly voted to override the Republican governor’s veto of a bill repealing the death penalty.

The state’s unicameral legislature voted 30-19, the exact number of votes needed to override Governor Pete Ricketts’ veto, to replace capital punishment with a term of life without parole.

May 24, 2015

Quirky Chicago judge helps put accused felons back on track

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The judge is singing again. Now she’s growling. Now she’s shaking her black hair and laughing a sinister laugh. Now she encourages the public in the courtroom to chant with her: “I’m gonna lock you up, I’m gonna lock you up.”

The prosecutor and the bailiff look at the floor and try not to smirk. They are used to theatrics from Judge Jackie Portman.

May 24, 2015

Quirky Chicago judge helps put accused felons back on track

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The judge is singing again. Now she’s growling. Now she’s shaking her black hair and laughing a sinister laugh. Now she encourages the public in the courtroom to chant with her: “I’m gonna lock you up, I’m gonna lock you up.”

The prosecutor and the bailiff look at the floor and try not to smirk. They are used to theatrics from Judge Jackie Portman.

May 14, 2015

Illinois lawmakers reject right-to-work, send message to governor

By Fiona Ortiz and Mary Wisniewski

(Reuters) – Illinois Democratic lawmakers rejected their own
right-to-work bill on Thursday in a symbolic vote meant to send
a message to Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who says he wants
union membership to be voluntary.

Powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan sponsored the
designed-to-fail bill, which House Republican Leader Jim Durkin
decried as a “sham” aimed at undermining Rauner’s call for
bipartisan solutions to Illinois’ deep financial crisis.

May 6, 2015

Illinois governor says no bailout for Chicago

CHICAGO, May 6 (Reuters) – Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner
told the Chicago City Council on Wednesday that the state’s
“terrible financial crisis” means there is no money to bail out
the city from its own fiscal mess.

The governor, in an unprecedented address to the Democratic
council, said the city and state need to work together to
address problems that include big unfunded pension liabilities
facing both governments.

May 6, 2015

Chicago council approves reparations for police torture victims

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Chicago will pay a total of up to $5.5 million to dozens of people tortured by the city’s police in the 1970s and 1980s and make other reparations such as a memorial to torture victims under an ordinance approved by the city council on Wednesday.

“We are strong enough to say we were wrong,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said after the vote. “Chicago will finally confront its past and come to terms with it.”

May 5, 2015

Food critic and meat ‘evangelist’ Josh Ozersky dies in Chicago

CHICAGO, May 5 (Reuters) – Josh Ozersky, an award-winning
food critic who preached the wonders of eating meat and founded
the Meatopia outdoor food festival, has died in Chicago at age
47.

Ozersky was found dead on Monday in a room in Chicago’s
Conrad Hotel, the Cook County Medical Examiner said on Tuesday.
He was in town for the James Beard Foundation Awards for
restaurants and chefs, the foundation said.

Apr 30, 2015

Illinois governor reverses $26 mln in cuts to social programs

CHICAGO, April 30 (Reuters) – Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner
on Thursday reversed $26 million in surprise spending cuts that
had forced the shutdown of a stop-smoking hotline and ended
funding for some autism programs and indigent funerals.

Officials at the governor’s office said higher-than-expected
personal income tax revenue allowed the Republican governor to
restore the grants for social services, in the budget that ends
on June 30.

Apr 22, 2015

In Illinois, the pain of budget cuts stings daily life

CHICAGO (Reuters) – No one answers the Illinois Tobacco Quitline’s telephone anymore.

Its 27 staff members were laid off suddenly last week when the stop-smoking program’s $3 million grant was suspended as part of $26 million in immediate spending cuts by the state.

Apr 13, 2015

Masters win could boost golf, Jordan Spieth’s endorsement portfolio

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Golf wunderkind Jordan Spieth’s resounding win at the Masters golf tournament on Sunday not only will boost his personal sponsorship deals but could give the sport a much-needed jolt.

Spieth had already amassed an impressive list of endorsements before the Masters, including AT&T Inc, Rolex and Under Armour Inc, which signed a multi-year deal with Spieth in January.

    • About Fiona

      "Fiona Ortiz is a general news correspondent for Reuters Americas based in Chicago and covering the Midwest. Previously, she was Reuters' chief correspondent in Madrid, where she covered political and economic news and ran a bureau of some 25 correspondents who wrote about everything from the debt crisis to sports. Fiona has been with Reuters since 1996 and has had assignments in Guatemala, Mexico, Chile and Argentina."
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