This year will go down in the history books as one of the most exciting political years ever, especially for those who live in Chicago. Politics
This was the year Illinois became the center of the political universe-- in more ways than one.
It started with the surprise win by Illinois Senator Barack Obama in the Iowa caucuses. It stunned Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign and sparked the momentum that would carry Obama into Super Tuesday and beyond as president-elect. And who would have guessed she'd become his choice for secretary of state? But a sour note for Illinois. Late in the year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on corruption charges; It's a story that is still being written with impeachment hearings and his vows to fight.
A tornado touched down in January in McHenry and Boone counties, to be followed by more than enough snow in February. In fact, the weather kept us busy throughout the months of this year: Northwest Indiana was especially hard hit - a tornado in Griffith. Flooding in Munster from heavy rains that closed down the Borman Expressway. That flooding extended into Illinois - from Albany Park in the city to suburbs along the rivers.
There were news stories that left us stunned and saddened. A gunman killed five women in a Lane Bryant store In Tinley Park; a crime that is still unsolved. The shootings of students at Northern Illinois University. The lost lives of Chicago children and students - taken by others with guns. The murders of singing star Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew. A medical helicopter crashed in Aurora after it clipped the wires of a radio tower. Four people died, including the patient a 14- month old baby girl. A semi rolled out-of-control down the Chinatown exit ramp from the Dan Ryan, smashing into the CTA station and killing 2.
Chicago Police Department In January, the Chicago Police Department got a new boss when Jody Weis was picked as superintendent. He had his hands full from day-one. In September, Officer John Ardelean was charged again in the crash that killed 2 Cicero men. Videotape of him drinking in a bar before the crash reopened the case after a judge earlier dismissed the charges. In October, former Police Commander Jon Burge was arrested and charged with lying about police torture under his watch. Police Officer Michael Mette was released from prison in Iowa after an appellate court overturned his assault conviction regarding a fight he did not initiate.
Another name cleared in court: R. Kelly. The singer was acquitted of child pornography charges.
Financial Strains Money - or the lack of it - was at the center of many stories. The CTA cried "doomsday." the legislature tried to come up with cash and the governor gave senior citizens a free pass to ride. Fares are going up in the New Year. Cook County hiked sales taxes? Chicago passed a budget with layoffs and fees, but no property tax increase and rented out midway and parking meters to make money. Former employees of Republic Windows and doors got their money in the form of salary and benefits, but only after they staged a sit-in at their closed factory. Sports Both the Cubs and the Sox were in the playoffs, but it quickly became the year that wasn't. At least Chicago's still in the finals for the 2016 Summer Olympics. We'll find out next October.