Officials allow Illinois lawmakers to investigate House speaker bribery scandal

Federal prosecutors gave Illinois lawmakers the green light to perform an independent investigation into long-time House Speaker Michael Madigan, committee members said, but Democrats and Republicans disagree on what it means for the investigation.

The Illinois House of Representatives will continue its proceedings after U.S. Attorney John Lausch Jr. told the House Special Investigation Committee that it would be allowed to move forward as long as it doesn’t jeopardize his ongoing probe into ComEd and the company’s patronage and bribery scheme aimed at currying favor with Madigan.

The speaker has not been charged with a crime and has denied wrongdoing. Madigan was implicated in ComEd’s deferred prosecution agreement.

The committee’s chairman, state Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside, said Tuesday that the committee plans to continue but its actions will be limited.

“The U.S. Attorney made it clear we could seek testimony from whoever we choose; however, they requested we refrain from seeking any materials or testimony related to the [deferred prosecution agreement] that is still confidential or anything in the possession of the federal government. In other words, we can call witnesses, but we can’t really ask them any questions,” he said in a statement.

Welch said he was disappointed that information from his and state Rep. Tom Demmer’s, R-Dixon, conversation with Lausch was made public prematurely.

“We wouldn’t be engaged in this he/say she/say conversation if Demmer had not jumped the gun to put out his false narrative,” Welch said. “But once again my Republican colleagues have disrespected the process for political gain.”

Demmer did not respond to a call about Welch’s comments, but told WBEZ that Lausch’s comments to him and Welch cleared a path for Madigan to be called to testify before the committee.

House Republicans made it clear they’d like to interrogate Madigan ally and former ComEd lobbyist Michael McLain, former City Club of Chicago CEO Jay Doherty and others connected to the probe.

The investigative committee is a political function that’s more akin to a fact-finding mission. Should they vote to move forward, the matter is turned over to another committee of lawmakers who will deliberate what Welch’s group found and mete out punishment.

The only other time the procedure has been used in Illinois history was in a 2012 probe about bribery allegations against Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago.

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House Democrats Working on $2.4 Trillion Stimulus Bill That Includes a Second Check: Report

It’s been many months since the CARES Act provided an initial round of relief in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. And it’s not as though lawmakers haven’t been trying to move a second relief bill forward; they’ve just been unable to agree on details. But now, CNBC reports that House Democrats put together a new relief package in order to revive stalled stimulus negotiations.

What’s in the new bill?

The latest Democratic proposal comes at a $2.4 trillion price tag, which may seem hefty, but is a steal compared to the HEROES Act, which cost over $3 trillion. The HEROES Act survived a House vote, but failed to move forward in the Senate earlier this year, and one reason was the Republicans’ claim that the price tag was, in their view, exorbitant. This new proposal aims to appease Republicans while moving negotiations forward, and some of its more notable provisions include:

While Republicans and Democrats largely agree on two of the above three points — stimulus checks and PPP funding — enhanced unemployment has been a sticking point. Democrats have pushed to uphold the $600 weekly boost the CARES Act gave (that benefit expired at the end of July), while Republicans have made it clear they want to incentivize returning to work, so they want to limit the amount unemployment pays out. A big point of contention with the CARES Act boost was that it resulted in many jobless workers getting a raise on unemployment — something Republicans do not want to see happen again.

Does this latest proposal have a shot at passing?

It’s clear Americans need relief, given the relentless nature of the coronavirus pandemic and a jobless rate that remains painfully high. There’s also pressure to pass a relief bill prior to the November presidential election. But whether this latest Democratic proposal gets the job done is yet to be seen. Meanwhile, the House could vote on the Democrats’ new proposal as early as next week. That’s only one hurdle, however — if Republicans disapprove, it will stall out in the Senate, just like the HEROES Act.

Many Americans hope for added relief, specifically in the form of a second stimulus check. While it seems that Democrats and Republicans do want that money to go out sooner rather than later, that can’t happen until an official relief bill gets passed into law. At this point, negotiations would have to move at warp speed to get a round of stimulus cash out prior to early November, but technically, it could happen. And if it does, countless Americans will breathe a little easier — at least in the near term.

As long as you pay them off each month, credit cards are a no-brainer for savvy Americans. They protect against fraud far better than debit cards, help raise your credit score, and can put hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars in rewards back in your pocket each year.

But with so many cards out there, you need to choose …

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Trump’s Paris Agreement pullout could cause 400,000 deaths in New York alone: House Oversight report

President Trump’s controversial bid to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement could have devastating consequences for his former home state, according to a new scientific report out of Congress.



a large body of water with a city in the background: The New York City skyline is seen from the Staten Island Ferry.


© Barry Williams
The New York City skyline is seen from the Staten Island Ferry.

The report, produced by the House Oversight Committee and obtained exclusively by the Daily News ahead of its Saturday release, concluded that more than 400,000 New Yorkers could die prematurely from various illnesses related to climate change over the next five decades if Trump’s successful in rescinding the U.S. commitment to the landmark agreement.

The unsettling finding is based on research by Dr. Drew Shindell, a professor of Earth Sciences at Duke University and a leading expert on the health effects of climate change and air pollution.

The Paris Agreement requires nations to work together toward keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius by limiting greenhouse gas emissions and investing in renewable energy. President Barack Obama and the leaders of most of the world’s other industrialized nations signed the accord in April 2016.

But Trump filed notice last year to pull out of the agreement. The U.S. exit officially takes effect on Nov. 4 — the day after the presidential election.

If the Republican president wins a second term and successfully cuts the U.S. out of the accord, the House Oversight Committee report predicts that the global average temperature would soar above 2 degrees Celsius, especially since the president has already rolled back “numerous key” environmental regulations during his first four years in office.

Such a temperature bump would cause a plethora of health issues across the U.S., including an increase in cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as air qualities worsen, according to the report.

House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) noted that the report’s gloomy predictions can be prevented if the U.S. recommits to the Paris Climate Agreement.

“We could save hundreds of thousands of lives, prevent unnecessary illnesses and hospitalizations, avoid tens of millions of lost workdays, and save trillions of dollars in economic benefits — all right here in our State of New York,” Maloney told The News on Friday.

In New York alone, as many as 423,000 residents would die from climate change-related illnesses between now and 2070, the report assesses.

In addition to the staggering death toll, the report predicts that the temperature spike would result in 400,000 emergency room visits in New York over the same time period, including an estimated 5,700 hospitalizations of children with asthma.

There would also be a ripple effect on New York’s economy, the report says, with an estimated 45 million workdays lost, resulting in a $3.5 trillion blow to the state’s finances — above and beyond the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

White House spokesman Judd Deere disputed the committee’s findings as “completely partisan.”

“Other countries and the radical left remain obsessed with the Paris Climate Accord, which shackles economies and has done nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Deere

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Ben Carson notes reveal he’s ‘not happy’ with White House official: report

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonState AGs condemn HUD rule allowing shelters to serve people on basis of biological sex Biden cannot keep letting Trump set the agenda The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump heads to New Hampshire after renomination speech MORE unintentionally indicated that he is not satisfied with the White House’s Presidential Personnel Office (PPO) after his notes were visible to reporters at a Trump 2020 campaign event on Friday, Bloomberg reported

Ahead of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It ‘isn’t worth the paper it’s signed on’ Trump ‘no longer angry’ at Romney because of Supreme Court stance MORE’s remarks at a Black economic empowerment event in Atlanta Friday afternoon, Carson spoke at a podium while holding a piece of paper with typed out statements that at one point became visible to reporters. 

“I am very loyal to you and after you win I hope to stay in your administration,” the notes said. “I am not happy with the way PPO is handling my agency.”

According to Bloomberg, Carson did not read those remarks publicly at Friday’s event. 

The PPO is responsible for vetting presidential appointments and hiring candidates to work throughout the White House’s various agencies. 

The office is led by John McEnteeJohn (Johnny) David McEnteeOPM chief abruptly resigns Meadows joins White House facing reelection challenges Trump administration hires another college senior for key role MORE, Trump’s former personal assistant who had been fired in 2018 for undisclosed reasons. Trump brought McEntee back on to oversee the PPO in February. 

In some of the images of Carson’s notes tweeted by reporters on Friday, a line appeared to say, “I like John and respect what he is doing, however I am sensing a severe [illegible] of trust,” with Carson’s microphone blocking the illegible words.

 

The White House declined to comment when contacted by The Hill. The Department of Housing and Urban Development did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Carson has continuously vocalized his support for Trump and the president’s reelection, challenging claims that Trump is racist in his address at the Republican National Convention last month. 

“President Trump does not dabble in identity politics. He wants everyone to succeed and

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A Rotary Moment: Lorrie Parker Garden, Morris Garden 2 additions to Montgomery’s Memory Park

September rains bring lots of green grass and lush foliage in Memory Park!

Memory Park in Montgomery, located behind the Charles B Stewart West Branch Library, is a beautiful site at any time, but particularly so after a rain. The birds are everywhere, the fish are jumping and the plants enjoy the drenching. I’m wondering if the family of rabbits who were there at opening still reside on the east side around Rainbow Bridge Garden – mom, we’ll have to check that out.

There have been several additions to the park this year. We’ll highlight two of them today and save the others for next week.

Rotarians Lorrie and Gary Parker, who were among the first to purchase bricks in the Rose Garden prior to opening day in 2005, recently saw work on their family garden completed. They created the “Lorrie Parker Garden” in memory of Lorrie’s dad, Wilbur Rowe and her mom, Geraldine “Jerry” Rowe. “I am from Ohio” said Lorrie, “as were my parents, and when my dad passed, of course, he was buried as was my mom, in Ohio. I wanted to have a special place here in Texas just for my parents. Memory Park is the perfect place because not only does it have a lake but it also adjoins the library. Growing up, our summers were spent at our lake house cottage in Michigan. During my high school years, my parents and I were visiting colleges back when I was trying to decide which school to go to. At each school, my dad insisted on going to each of the school’s libraries. The bench that was placed at my parent’s area faces the library. I hope that the special place at Memory Park brings some peace to those who have lost a loved one or maybe going through a difficult time. I know it does for me. Just walking around Memory Park lifts the weight of any burdens I may have and a sense of calmness wraps around me like a warm blanket in a cold winter.” The view of the park and the library from that location is beautiful indeed, and when the flags are up, their reflection in the water adds an additional breathtaking dimension. The garden includes a “witches cauldron” that belonged to Lorrie’s mom. Gary helped installed drip lines to the pots to water the plants. Also in the garden is a stone for Lorrie’s Dad, which declares “He Sang It Like He Lived – With All His Heart” followed by the words to the beautiful “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”

The second garden is called “The Morris Garden” and is the creation of Christina and Bill Rathbun. Jack Morris, Christina’s ex and the father of her two sons, passed away earlier this year after battling a chronic condition for a long time. Six months later, the family lost Jason, the older of the two sons, from a sudden heart attack. Jack was great friends with Bill and remained a

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Chicago’s Fascinating ‘House on the Roof’ Is a Penthouse Without Parallel

The key feature of this Chicago residence? It’s both a penthouse and a house, a three-bedroom home artfully perched on top of a building from the 1890s.

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When you think of a penthouse in Chicago, your mind wanders to a long elevator ride, at least 30 stories up. We’ve found a unit, however, that breaks that mold.

On the market for $850,000, this two-level penthouse is perched on a building with only eight other units.

The listing details aptly describes it as a “house on the roof”: a three-bedroom, 2.5-bath home artfully perched on top of a building dating to the 1890s.


To access the 2,533-square-foot unit, you take a historic elevator to the eighth floor, followed by a jaunt up a flight of steps.

In something of a “secret” building, it’s listed with Bohdan Gorczynski of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Chicago.

“Many people who have lived in the neighborhood for years don’t even realize it’s there,” he says.



“If you go to the next block,” he adds, “you’ll see glass high-rises. The character of the South Loop is changing.”

This is a unique time capsule in the city’s Printers Row neighborhood, an area within the South Loop developed as residential living in the late 1980s, after the demise of the printing industry.

Although the building dates to 1892, this unit was updated in the later part of the last century.


An open floor plan means that moving through the living room, dining room, and kitchen is a breeze, while the upstairs features a loft.

And its key feature? It’s a penthouse and a house.

None of the comparables, Gorczynski says, offer anything like it. One reason are the views—both inside and out.


“Whenever I come back to this unit,” he says, “the first thing I do is look through the windows. It has great light and views of the city—the urban cityscape and the high-rises.”

Exterior of Chicago penthouse

realtor.com

Open layout

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Living and dining rooms

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Kitchen

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Upper-level loft space

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Upper-level loft

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One of the bedrooms

realtor.com

The seller, whose husband is an architect, bought the property for $875,000 in 2017, when she took a position at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art.

The couple recently returned to California and listed the penthouse. They weren’t able to complete their renovation plans and had never moved in.

The ideal buyer is “a creative spirit” and “someone who will envision this restoration,” Gorczynski says.


Necessary restorations will include installing new windows and gutting all three bathrooms, which were last updated in the late 1980s.

The unit also includes ample storage in the building’s basement and a private terrace.

This is a penthouse with lots of privacy, a bonus during the pandemic. Because there are only nine units in the building, potential buyers have been intrigued by the property.

“This is what appeals

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8 Kitchen Remodel Costs to Consider

You may be planning for a major kitchen renovation, including new appliances, plumbing, countertops or cabinets. Instead, you may be aiming to spruce up the space with a smaller budget. A kitchen renovation is rarely cheap, but there are ways to save. Here’s what you need to know.

How Much Does a Kitchen Remodel Cost?

Based on online estimates, home improvement resource company HomeAdvisor’s reported national averages for renovation costs and expert insights, here’s how the cost of a major kitchen remodel breaks down:

Labor: 15% to 25%

Cabinets: 29%

Appliances and ventilation: 14%

Countertops: 10%

Lighting: 5%

Floors: 7%

Fixtures and plumbing: 4%

Additional finishes and budget cushion: 15% to 20%

According to HomeAdvisor, the national average for a kitchen renovation is $25,291, with a low-end remodel starting around $4,000 and a high-end project reaching $60,000 or more. The disparities between cost estimates are due to the range of options for renovations and the scale of projects. Many kitchen remodels are smaller projects — think countertop replacement rather than taking out the walls and floors.

[Read: How Long Can You Expect Your Roof or Fridge to Last?]

Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that where you live, the condition of your kitchen, the materials you would like to use and the scale of the overall renovation determine your bottom line. Especially if you’re planning to gut your entire kitchen, estimates for the project will likely be higher than nationally reported medians and averages.

When you’re considering a kitchen overhaul, how much should you spend? “A really good rule of thumb for a kitchen project is that it should cost anywhere from 5% to 15% of the home’s value,” says Dan DiClerico, home expert and smart home strategist for HomeAdvisor.

How much you’ll spend on your kitchen renovation also depends on how much cash you’ve set aside or the amount of the home improvement-related loan you’ve obtained.

Full-Scale Remodel

A full-scale kitchen renovation will likely see a high price tag because you’re gutting the entire space, you’re upgrading to more luxurious materials or both.

For a complete remodel of the entire room, you can expect to address all or most of the following features:

— Countertops.

— Cabinets.

— Backsplash.

— Sink and plumbing fixtures.

— Lighting.

— Flooring.

— Appliances.

— Walls and wall color.

— Windows.

— Interior and exterior doors.

— Smart tech.

With a major project like this, you will want to hire a general contractor to oversee the work. If you hire a contractor to manage the entire project, he or she will likely have licensed specialists on staff or on call. Alternately, you can hire a contractor that only oversees the main construction work, then hire additional professionals as needed. Expect the labor costs to be on the higher end of the cost spectrum as a result, but a contractor’s expertise will help reduce the chances that costly errors arise — like

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Garden Grubs: How To Slay the Nasty Worms in Your Yard

Does your lawn have any dead or spongy patches of grass? They could be the work of garden grubs. Here’s how to spot them and banish them from your garden.

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Have you noticed any dead or spongy patches of grass on your lawn lately? They could be the work of garden grubs. While these gross little wormlike creatures are harmless to humans, they may murder the heck out of your garden.

Brown grass or clusters of dead plants are always concerning for homeowners. But if you haven’t been hit with a nasty drought lately, or doused your lawn in toxic chemicals, you may be playing host to these unwelcome pests.


Here’s the low-down on everything you need to know about garden grubs, and how to kick them out of your yard.

What’s a garden grub?

garden grubs
Garden grubs feed on grass roots.

N-sky/Getty Images

Garden grubs are essentially baby beetles, but that doesn’t mean they’re cute. You’d probably prefer to see these writhing white larvae on the opposite end of a fishing pole.



“Lawn and garden grubs are juvenile scarab beetles,” says Dan Bailey, president of WikiLawn. “They get into your lawn when an adult beetle lays eggs, usually a few inches into the soil. When they hatch and progress beyond the larval stage, they begin eating grass roots.”

But before you start googling “scarab beetle,” hear this. Scarab refers to the Scarabaeidae family of beetles, which has 30,000 species.


“There are many different kinds,” says Kristiana Kripena of InsectCop. “Most commonly encountered ones are the larvae of June bugs, European chafers, masked chafers, billbugs, Oriental beetles, and Japanese beetles.”

Whatever the type, without your own personal Timon and Pumbaa, you’ll need to mount a serious plan of attack to get rid of these grubs.


How do I know if I have grubs?

If you haven’t met the little buggers personally (which would be likely to happen as you are digging around in your lawn or garden) it can be hard to know for sure when you have them. Here are a few ways to identify these stealthy pests.

“Grubs always have a C-shaped body, brown head, and three pairs of legs,” says Gina Harper of Harper’s Nurseries. “Grubs feed on roots, so if you see [that] a patch of grass lifts without roots holding it down, or brown spots that never turn green and an increase in activity from birds, raccoons, and skunks—that means you have a grub problem.”

You should also become suspicious if you start seeing an increased beetle population in your yard, especially if your lawn starts mysteriously dying a year after you first spot them.


“Grub problems occur in a regular three-year cycle if not managed,” says Harper. “The most significant damage occurs the year after the appearance of

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Drew Barrymore released gorgeous home decor for fall, and we want everything

Our team is dedicated to finding and telling you more about the products and deals we love. If you love them too and decide to purchase through the links below, we may receive a commission. Pricing and availability are subject to change. 

It’s hard to find home decor collections that truly blow me away when it comes to patterns, colors and style. But Drew Barrymore’s Flower Home line never disappoints.

While the actress has been building up her empire with Flower Beauty and a daytime talk show aptly named “The Drew Barrymore Show,” her Flower Home collection at Walmart might be my favorite project from the star — despite one of her most-loved movies “50 First Dates,” of course.

Barrymore launched the first Flower Home collection back in March 2019, and her latest fall collection is some of her most beautifully designed products yet.

Drew Barrymore Flower Home

“My design process is that I care about every detail, every colorway, every pattern and every shape,” Drew Barrymore said in a press release, which I can attest to.

She once personally told me the same thing when I met her at a press preview — I could hear her passion as she talked about the inspiration behind even the tiniest details of each item.

Drew Barrymore Flower Home

Not only do all of the furniture pieces, dishware and decor accessories all have a dash of eclecticism to them, but each item is available at an affordable price point. It makes the pieces great for first-apartment decor.

And if you’ve been wanting to add wallpaper to a small room or bathroom, the Flower Home line has peel-and-stick wallpaper and murals, so you can (temporarily) amp up your space even if you’re renting.

Drew Barrymore Flower Home

If you want to get your creative juices flowing for a home decor refresh, you might want to browse Flower Home’s newest arrivals that were made for maximalists. Below, we’ve rounded everything from Barrymore’s new fall collection that we can’t stop swooning over.

Shop: Botanical Watercolor 16-Piece Dinnerware Set, $60

Shop: Natural Rattan Basket Set Of 2, $45

Shop: Botanical Floral Peel And Stick Mural, $69

Shop: Pink Velvet Armchair, $299.99

Shop: Floral White Ceramic Table Lamp With Teal Shade, $79

Shop: Carved Wood Storage Cabinet, $299

Shop: Antique Brass Arch Floor Lamp With Tiered Rattan Shade, $120

Shop: Round Wood Mirror With Shelf, $69

If you liked this story, you might like to read about celebrity beauty collections, including Drew Barrymore’s Flower Beauty.

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U.S. Court Lets House Move Forward With Challenge to Trump’s Border Wall | Top News

(Reuters) – A federal appeals court handed a win to the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, saying the Democratic-led chamber could proceed with a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s diversion of funds to pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Reversing a lower court judge, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said in a 3-0 decision that the House had legal standing to sue Trump for using money to build the wall that was appropriated by Congress for other purposes.

The case now returns to a lower court, where House Democrats will argue that diverting the funds violated the separation of powers doctrine laid out in the U.S. Constitution.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, which argued for the administration in the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The wall was Trump’s signature 2016 campaign promise, and at the time he insisted that Mexico would pay for it. Mexico never agreed to that and has not done so.

The three-judge panel cited an Aug. 7 ruling by the same court that a House panel could sue to enforce a subpoena issued to former White House Counsel Don McGahn. That case was later dismissed on other grounds.

In February 2019, after a protracted political battle and a government shutdown, Congress approved $1.38 billion for construction of “primary pedestrian fencing” along the border in southeastern Texas, well short of Trump’s demands.

To obtain additional funds for the wall, Trump declared a national emergency and his administration said it planned to divert $601 million from a Treasury Department forfeiture fund, $2.5 billion earmarked for Department of Defense counterparties programs and $3.6 billion from military construction projects.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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