Additional Madigan indictment; Gas prices moving up again

Additional charges filed against former House Speaker Michael Madigan

Back in March, former Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan was indicted on several federal corruption charges related to a bribery scheme involving the utility giant Commonwealth Edison. A few days ago, more charges were filed against Madigan, this time in connection to a probe involving AT&T.

AT&T entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office. The phone company is cooperating with prosecutors and has pledged to continue to do so as part of the two-year deferred prosecution deal. According to prosecutors, AT&T admitted to arranging for a Madigan ally to receive thousands of dollars in payments from the company through its lobbying firm, even though the ally performed no actual work for AT&T. The prosecutors allege that this was done in exchange for Speaker Madigan’s influence of legislation.

A federal grand jury has now issued another indictment of Madigan, this one a conspiracy charge, relating to the AT&T investigation.

Madigan was first elected to the Illinois House in 1970. He served as state Democratic Party chairman for several years and was Speaker of the House for all but two years between 1983 and his resignation in 2021.

Gas prices resume their climb in Illinois

After declining briefly during the late summer, gas prices are once again on the rise in Illinois. Most of the state is now seeing prices above $4, with diesel prices and Chicago-area regular unleaded costs once again passing $5 per gallon. Hikes in gas prices hurt nearly every consumer because they are tied to so many of the things we do in the course of a normal day, whether it is traveling to-and-from work, dropping kids off at school or running errands.

If one of those errands involves buying groceries, a consumer is getting hit there also. Food and beverage costs in Illinois grocery stores are going up at double-digit rates, continuing to increase though at a slightly slower pace. Nationally, grocery prices have increased 13.3% since this time last year, with another 1% increase in the last month. High gas prices and the nationwide inflation crisis are mostly to blame. The increases were most noticeable on products such as dairy, snacks and frozen meals.

Bringing down these costs is going to be one of the most serious issues we will have to face in the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

Keeping safe while celebrating Halloween

The Office of the State Fire Marshal has issued some safety tips for those celebrating Halloween. Candles are the source of two out of every five fires, so please be careful in areas where candles are burning as part of decorations. Use battery-powered candles when possible, but if you use real candles in your jack o’lanterns, please use long, fireplace-style matches to light them. Keep lit pumpkins away from anything that can burn. And be careful with dried cornstalks, flowers or paper decorations which can easily ignite.

The Fire Marshal has shared some Halloween Safety Tips for keeping kids and other celebrants safe during this spooky season. Make sure costumes are made of flame-resistant fabric and that eye holes in masks are the right size for an unrestricted view. Kids should carry a flashlight or a glow stick while trick-or-treating to ensure that they are visible.

Breakfast in Roanoke

Thank you Bob Huschen for a recent invitation to stop by Caleri’s Cafe & Bakery in Roanoke for a delicious breakfast and good conversation with several folks. I really appreciate hearing what people are focused on. There were many topics of concern including the harvest, the elections and inflation. It was time so well spent!

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $2,514,987,531 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $4.6 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $137 billion.

Did You Know?

Illinois has dozens of different kinds of license plates. Some vehicles require different plates, such as antique vehicles, large trucks, motorcycles or vehicles for persons with disabilities. Other plates are used to raise awareness for issues like Alzheimer’s, education, or organ donation. The state also has specialty plates which help raise money for causes such as veterans or the families of fallen police officers and firefighters. Find the full list of Illinois license plates here.

More news from around the state

Home weatherization assistance available for low-income households

ICC approves safety upgrades for Livingston County highway-rail crossings

Illinois fall trout fishing season now open

Why Social Security checks are about to get a lot bigger