Tag Archives: lisa madigan

Concerns raised over massive hog facility

Residents in rural western Illinois are trying to stop a leading U.S. pork producer’s plan for a massive hog facility.

Bernadotte Township residents sent letters to state agriculture officials alleging errors and omissions in Professional Swine Management’s plan for its 20,000-hog confinement, Runway Ridge Farms LLC., the Chicago Tribune reported.

The concerns are similar to those expressed by Wisconsinites concerned with factory farm operations in their state — or across state borders.

The residents said it didn’t account for nearby structures, wells and creeks.

Fulton County commissioners passed a resolution Dec. 13 urging the state to halt action on all new large confinements in the county until the Illinois law governing such operations is reformed.

The resolution is only symbolic because state law doesn’t give local communities much, if any, power over the issue.

However, the resolution did catch the attention of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Her spokesman said the agencies involved in these issues should carefully consider residents’ concern.

“We think it is extremely important that residents are raising concerns about these operations,” said the spokesman to the newspaper.

Professional Swine is considering how or whether to respond to the opposition coming out of Bernadotte Township, and has put on hold construction of Runway Ridge.

Company officials declined to give details on their Fulton County plans or any aspects of their business.

“I think at this point we don’t have any comment on any of these items,” said Julie Totten, chief financial officer.

Professional Swine has installed 27 hog operations with a total of more than 120,000 sows in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri, despite periodic opposition from local residents and environmental and animal welfare groups.

Fulton County has at least five of the facilities.

On the Web

Neighbors Opposing a Polluted Environment.

U.S. Dep’t of Justice to investigate the Chicago Police Department

The U.S. Justice Department is expected to launch a wide-ranging investigation this week into the patterns and practices of the Chicago Police Department. The Washington Post first reported the development earlier today.

The federal probe of the CPD will be similar to recent probes of police departments in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri. And the Chicago probe, like those in the other cities, is being prompted by a case in which a white Chicago police officer shot an unarmed black teenager — 16 times in the latest case.

Bot the CPD and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have faced harsh criticism iover their handling of the October, 2014, death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. White officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder more than a year after the killing and just one day before the release of police dashboard camera video showing the officer firing 16 shots at the black teenager, according to The Associated Press.

Since then, Emanuel forced Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy to resign and formed a task force to examine the department in an effort to calm the city and deal with the most serious crisis of his administration.

But pressure on the mayor has not abated. Calls for him to resign — something he’s said he won’t do — have grown louder. More than 200 protesters shouted that he step down during a march this afternoon in downtown Chicago. Protesters counted to 16 during the march, a number that has taken on a symbolic significance since the demonstrations began.

Emanuel initially said a federal civil rights investigation of Chicago police tactics would be “misguided” because the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago was already investigating. But Emanuel later backed down and said he’d welcome the Justice Department’s help in “restoring” trust in the department.

Hillary Clinton and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also have called for a federal investigation.

AP reported on Friday that Chicago released hundreds of pages that show police officers initially reported a very different version of the encounter with McDonald than the video shows. That further angered activists and protesters, who already believed the city covered up what really happened to McDonald.

The Justice Department in the last six years has opened more than 20 investigations of police departments. In March, the department released a scathing report of the Ferguson police force that found pervasive civil rights abuses, and in May, it reached a settlement with Cleveland police that called for sweeping improvements — including to that department’s use of force policies. It opened an investigation of Baltimore police in May after demonstrations there turned violent in response to the death of a black man in police custody.

Civil right leader Rev. Jesse Jackson said he hoped that the investigation would focus not only on the police department, but on Emanuel’s office and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office that he and others have criticized for taking so long to bring charges against Van Dyke.

Chicago has a sordid history of police brutality and abuse. In a lawsuit filed against the city in October, three men said they were subjected to “unconstitutionally coercive and torturous tactics” at the CPD’s notorious Homan Square facility on the city’s West Side. A series of articles about Homan Square published by The Guardian, a U.K. newspaper, shocked the world.

The Guardian described the facility as a “secretive warehouse” that is “the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.”

The savage culture of sadism at Cook County Jail has been described in numerous lawsuits and investigative reports.

Illinois judge: Same-sex marriage lawsuit can proceed

A lawsuit filed by 25 same-sex couples that seeks to legalize gay marriage in Illinois can move forward in the courts, a Cook County judge has ruled.

Circuit Judge Sophia Hall threw out a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, so the couples will be allowed to argue that state law regarding marriage discriminates based on sexual orientation.

It was a victory for couples such as Patrick Bova and Jim Darby of Chicago, who have been together for decades. Bova said they could get married elsewhere, “but we want to get married in Illinois, our home state.”

Last month, attorneys for both sides presented arguments. The couples – represented by lawyers from Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois – said that Illinois’ same-sex marriage ban, approved in 1996, violates the Illinois Constitution’s due process and equality clauses.

An attorney representing downstate Illinois county clerks defending the same-sex marriage ban said gay couples in Illinois have many of the same rights as heterosexual ones, partly because Illinois allowed civil unions in 2011. The state’s ban defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

“The day when the court addresses the merits of this case is going to be a very bad day for the defendants,” Lambda Legal attorney Camilla Taylor said.

Attorney Paul Linton, who represents the clerks, said he’s confident his clients will prevail when the full case is heard.

A separate fight to legalize same-sex marriage has been ongoing in the state Legislature.

The lawsuit on behalf of the couples was filed last year. But Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez refused to defend the ban, saying she also thought it violated the Illinois Constitution’s equal protection clause. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan also argued against the ban. Though she wasn’t named in the lawsuit, she was able to weigh in because the lawsuit deals with constitutionality of state laws.

That left five clerks to defend the ban.

Illinois legalized civil unions in 2011, but efforts to legalize gay marriage have stalled. Lawmakers adjourned for the summer without taking a vote on a same-sex marriage bill. The sponsor said he didn’t have the votes. Lawmakers expect to bring the issue back next month when lawmakers gather in Springfield.