IA Dog Shooter Gets Probation, 2-Year Suspended Sentence

 ATLANTIC, Iowa (AP) _ A 57-year-old western Iowa man who fatally shot a dog has
been given a year of probation and a two-year suspended prison sentence.  
 Station KJAN  reports that Charles Cutler, of Marne, was sentenced on Tuesday. He was convicted in April of misdemeanor animal abuse.  
 Authorities say Cutler used a shotgun to blast a 1-year-old chocolate Labrador
retriever named Wrigley. The dog belonged to Stacey Ernat, a teacher from Denver
who had stopped in Marne with her boyfriend to visit her boyfriend’s brother on
Dec. Continue Reading

10 Years After Striking, Chicago Hotel Workers are Back

CHICAGO (AP) _ Workers at a downtown Chicago hotel are making an
“unconditional” offer to return to work after spending nearly a decade walking
a picket line.  
Hotel attorney Peter Andjelkovich says he didn’t know the
offer was coming until union president Henry Tamarin gave him a letter Wednesday
saying that the Congress Hotel’s striking workers had decided to abandon their
walkout.  
 He says if the hotel accepts the deal, the workers would return under the terms
of the contract that expired a year before the June 2003 strike.  
 If the union’s offer is accepted, many questions remain. That includes how many
of the 130 workers on a list of striking employees are still available to return
and how many jobs remain after the hotel hired replacement workers. Continue Reading

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Sex-Change Procedure Covered by Insurance for Illinois Students

University of Illinois trustees changed the student insurance plan at the Chicago campus to cover sex-change surgery. Trustees voted 6-2 to add the benefit and approved a 15% increase in the annual cost to students. Insurance will not cost $922 a year. This kind of coverage is nothing new to institutions. Trustee Patrick Fitzgerald, says other universities have adopted very similar plans. Continue Reading

Democrat Hatch Looking at Run for IA Governor

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Democratic Sen. Jack Hatch says he’s considering a run
for governor in 2014 and will spend the next few months raising money for a
possible bid.  
Hatch is set to hold a news conference Wednesday morning to talk about his
plans. He says he will spend the summer in an exploratory stage, raising money
and meeting voters.  
 Hatch plans to make a decision on whether to launch a formal campaign by
September. 
 
 Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has not announced if he will seek re-election,
though he is widely expected to do so.  
 Hatch has served in the Iowa Senate since 2003, representing Des Moines. Continue Reading

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Key IL House Panel Okays Gambling Expansion

 SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ A plan to expand gambling in Illinois has advanced out
of a key House committee.  
The proposal calls for five new casinos including one in Chicago and scores of
slot machines. But bill sponsor Rep. Robert Rita, a Blue Island Democrat, says
details are still being worked out.  
 The House Executive committee on Wednesday OK’d stripping the bill of its
language so Rita can change it. Continue Reading

Niabi Prepares to Say Farewell to Elephants

 COAL VALLEY, Ill. (AP) _ Western Illinois’ Niabi Zoo may be saying goodbye to
its aging elephants.  
An expert report says it’d cost millions to upgrade the Coal Valley facility’s
enclosure for the pair of pachyderms, who are 37 and 40. Officials say they’re
the only elephants at an Illinois zoo.  
 The (Moline) Dispatch says the report, commissioned by
Rock Island County officials, recommends sending the pair to a warmer climate
and adding rhinos. Continue Reading

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Saturated Ground + More Rain = Flooding in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Much of Iowa is likely to deal with flooding this week as more rain falls on ground that is already saturated.  

National Weather Service forecaster Kurt Kotenberg says 3-to-6 inches of rain is expected across Iowa this week after 6-to-8 inches of rain fell in the past few days. Kotenberg says the ground simply can’t absorb more water right now. So flash flooding will remain a concern across Iowa. The weather service predicts the Iowa River will crest at a record 22 feet at Marshalltown early this week, so flooding is likely there. Continue Reading

Eastern Iowa Official Receives White House Honor

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An elected official in eastern Iowa is the recipient of a White House honor given to openly gay, lesbian and transgendered public officials.  

The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports Johnson County Recorder Kim Painter was one of 10 openly LGBT public officials from across the country to receive the White House’s Champion of Change honor Wednesday. The awards are given on the birthday of Harvey Milk, who became one of the first openly gay people to serve in elected office when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Painter has been openly gay since she first ran for county recorder 15 years ago, winning the 1998 general election by 52 percent. She’s won re-election since by wide margins. Continue Reading

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Illinois Governor Upset About Concealed Carry Approval

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn strongly opposed the plan for concealed carry in the state, but that didn’t stop the Illinois House from approving it today. The bill, which is now being passed on to the Illinois Senate, would allow qualified gun owners to carry their weapons in public. Quinn is upset because he believes the bill would wipe out Chicago’s ban on assault weapons and other local gun ordinances. The governor vows to do all he can to keep the bill from getting approval in the Senate. Illinois is the only state in the nation without a concealed-carry law. Continue Reading