[ {"id":"ba67e35e-bfb8-5f13-b5a2-a2f7bccc1956","type":"article","starttime":"1493079388","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-24T19:16:28-05:00","lastupdated":"1493080403","priority":0,"sections":[{"national":"news/national"},{"illinois":"news/state-and-regional/illinois"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Aviation officer gives his version of United flight removal","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/national/article_ba67e35e-bfb8-5f13-b5a2-a2f7bccc1956.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/national/aviation-officer-gives-his-version-of-united-flight-removal/article_ba67e35e-bfb8-5f13-b5a2-a2f7bccc1956.html","canonical":"http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2017/The-Chicago-aviation-officer-who-pulled-a-man-off-a-United-Airlines-flight-sys-the-man-was-physically-and-verbally-combative-during-the-incident/id-002a3a2d1d4d415db6127532de463d60","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By DON BABWIN\nAssociated Press","prologue":"CHICAGO (AP) \u2014 The physician who was dragged off a United Airlines flight in Chicago this month was verbally and physically abusive, and flailing his arms before he lost his balance and struck his mouth on an armrest, according to the aviation officer who pulled the man out of his seat. The Chicago Department of Aviation on Monday released the officer's report of the incident, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Associated Press. The report reveals for the first time the officer's version of what happened aboard the plane at O'Hare International Airport on April 9.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","illinois state news","business","general news","freedom of information act","open government","political issues","government and politics","passenger airlines","airlines","transportation and shipping","industrial products and services"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"3c80e6da-4bb1-59ad-9e6a-78f9bed5f7aa","description":"FILE - In this Thursday, June 2, 2016 file photo, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz delivers remarks in New York. United Airlines said Friday, April 21, 2017, that its CEO Munoz won't add the title of chairman in 2018 as planned, as fallout continues from the violent removal of a passenger from a plane this month. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)","byline":"Richard Drew","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"512","height":"341","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/c8/3c80e6da-4bb1-59ad-9e6a-78f9bed5f7aa/58fa8291465c1.image.jpg?resize=512%2C341"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"67","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/c8/3c80e6da-4bb1-59ad-9e6a-78f9bed5f7aa/58fa8291465c1.image.jpg?resize=100%2C67"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"200","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/c8/3c80e6da-4bb1-59ad-9e6a-78f9bed5f7aa/58fa8291465c1.image.jpg?resize=300%2C200"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"682","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/c8/3c80e6da-4bb1-59ad-9e6a-78f9bed5f7aa/58fa8291465c1.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":7,"commentID":"ba67e35e-bfb8-5f13-b5a2-a2f7bccc1956","body":"

CHICAGO (AP) \u2014 The physician who was dragged off a United Airlines flight in Chicago this month was verbally and physically abusive, and flailing his arms before he lost his balance and struck his mouth on an armrest, according to the aviation officer who pulled the man out of his seat.

The Chicago Department of Aviation on Monday released the officer's report of the incident, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Associated Press. The report reveals for the first time the officer's version of what happened aboard the plane at O'Hare International Airport on April 9.

The incident \u2014 which was videotaped by other passengers and widely shared online \u2014 became an international embarrassment for both the airlines and the city's aviation department.

The report also includes the name of the officer, James Long, who authorities initially declined to identify.

In the report, Long said he boarded the United Express flight after being called in response to a disturbance involving two people regarding a refusal to leave the aircraft. United has said four passengers had been ordered off the airplane to make room for four employees to fly to Louisville, Kentucky.

Long said he approached Dr. David Dao to ask the 69-year-old physician to get off the plane. Long said Dao refused and \"folded his arms tightly.\" Long said he reached out to \"hold\" Dao and was able to pull him away from his window seat on the aircraft and move toward the aisle.

\"But suddenly the subject started flailing and fighting,\" Long wrote.

Dao then knocked Long's hand off his arm, causing the struggling Dao to fall and strike his mouth on an arm rest on the other side of the aisle, according to the report. Long said he then dragged Dao because Dao refused to stand up.

Long said he wrote the report and gave his version of events only because he faced losing his job.

The video taken by a passenger shows lots of screaming coming from behind the seats, then Dao being dragged by his arms down the aisle of the plane aisle as the other passengers react with horror.

In a separate report released Monday, labeled a \"Hospitalization Case Report,\" the Chicago Police Department said Dao was observed striking his face against an armrest as aviation officers \"attempted to escort\" him from the flight.

Neither report details Dao's injuries, but at a news conference days after the incident, Dao's attorney said the doctor suffered a broken nose and a concussion, and lost two front teeth.

Long said he was able to remove Dao from the airplane. Long said that once off the plane and in the walkway back to the gate, Dao said he was a diabetic, but then got up off the floor and ran back onto the aircraft. Long alleges Dao, while running back to the plane, said they'd have to kill him.

Long and two other aviation officers were subsequently placed on leave by the aviation department.

The report jibes with comments that United CEO Oscar Munoz made in the aftermath of the incident, in which he called Dao belligerent. Munoz later offered a more emphatic mea culpa, saying: \"No one should ever be mistreated this way.\" The aviation department has also profusely apologized and vowed an investigation

Dao's attorney, Thomas Demetrio, told NBC's \"Today\" show on Monday that he intended to file a lawsuit.

The aviation department also released its use of force policy, which was sent to all officers after the incident. It says aviation security personnel should use force only when \"reasonably necessary to defend a human life, effect an arrest or control a person,\" and that the force used \"shall only be that which is necessary to overcome the resistance being offered by an offender and to effect lawful objectives.\"

"}, {"id":"ac22fce3-3eb2-5713-900a-d1621f9b42d7","type":"article","starttime":"1493078770","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-24T19:06:10-05:00","lastupdated":"1493080277","priority":0,"sections":[{"iowa":"news/state-and-regional/iowa"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Athletic Director says complaints led to Iowa coach's firing","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/iowa/article_ac22fce3-3eb2-5713-900a-d1621f9b42d7.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/iowa/athletic-director-says-complaints-led-to-iowa-coach-s-firing/article_ac22fce3-3eb2-5713-900a-d1621f9b42d7.html","canonical":"http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2017/Iowa-athletic-director-Gary-Barta-said-Monday-that-three-separate-rounds-of-complaints-from-parents-and-field-hockey-players-prompted-an-investigation-into-the-program-that-ultimately-le/id-ef9e0c3ec8774e9bb1f4fd714e3bc902","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By LUKE MEREDITH\nAP Sports Writer","prologue":"DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) \u2014 University of Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said Monday that three rounds of complaints from parents and field hockey players prompted an investigation into the program that ultimately led to the firing of coach Tracey Griesbaum in 2014. Griesbaum's termination is a central piece of a lawsuit filed by former top administrator Jane Meyer against the university.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","iowa state news","general news","sports","field hockey","higher education","education","social affairs","coaching","school coaching","school athletics"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":4,"commentID":"ac22fce3-3eb2-5713-900a-d1621f9b42d7","body":"

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) \u2014 University of Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said Monday that three rounds of complaints from parents and field hockey players prompted an investigation into the program that ultimately led to the firing of coach Tracey Griesbaum in 2014.

Griesbaum's termination is a central piece of a lawsuit filed by former top administrator Jane Meyer against the university.

Meyer, who was Barta's top assistant for a decade, filed the suit after being moved to another department soon after the firing of Griesbaum, her partner. Meyer's job was eliminated in 2016.

Meyer alleges she suffered workplace discrimination as a gay woman in a relationship with a coach, that the school retaliated against her and that she was paid far less than a male counterpart for similar work.

Barta said that he had noticed a pattern of serious issues and allegations of abuse from Griesbaum dating back to 2007, just a year after he took over at Iowa.

In 2011, another student made similar claims that were serious enough to be forwarded to former president Sally Mason's office and so distressed Griesbaum that she threatened to resign. Barta said nothing was proven, and Griesbaum stayed on as coach.

But Barta said that before the 2014 season a player came forward with complaints again \u2014 and that a second player made similar charges a month later.

Barta said he had heard that, at one point, Griesbaum told a player that, \"If I were you, I would kill myself.\"

The university subsequently investigated the program and the relationship between Meyer and Griesbaum, who did not report to Meyer beyond athletic facilities issues, and found no policy violations.

But Barta said his fears that such allegations would continue to surface, combined with the fact that Griesbaum had twice told him that she didn't do anything wrong and wouldn't change, led him to fire her just a few weeks before the season.

\"Whether it could be finally proven or not, I had to make a decision,\" Barta said.

Barta said that after Griesbaum's firing, Meyer's behavior became problematic and that faculty members and coaches registered complaints about her in the four months between when Griesbaum was dismissed and Meyer was transferred.

\"It was to the point where I couldn't run the athletic program with the way she was acting in that role,\" Barta said. \"I had to get her out of the athletic department. It was unworkable.\"

Meyer's attorneys closed their examination with Barta earlier Monday by continuing to push him on his knowledge of the relationship between Meyer and Griesbaum. Barta insisted that while he had heard rumors of their relationship beginning in 2011, he didn't look into them further because they were only rumors.

When asked why he didn't confront Meyer directly about what he was hearing, Barta said that \"when they're rumors, I'm not going to go there unless I have something to substantiate it.\"

Meyer's attorneys were attempting to correlate Barta's knowledge of Meyer and Griesbaum's relationship to when Barta first began to note issues with Meyer in her performance reviews, which also began in 2011.

Barta informed Meyer in 2013 that he was re-organizing the department and that she wouldn't be considered to be his deputy director, a post she had held since Barta's hiring. Barta said he made the choice, in part, because she didn't have the \"trust and respect\" of all of Iowa's coaches.

Football coach Kirk Ferentz and wrestling coach Tom Brands had previously logged complaints about working with Meyer.

"}, {"id":"6cb12822-9138-5af8-864b-6dbbc5dd12db","type":"article","starttime":"1493076292","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-24T18:24:52-05:00","lastupdated":"1493077537","priority":0,"sections":[{"illinois":"news/state-and-regional/illinois"},{"business":"business"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Passengers in viral airline videos have same lawyer","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/article_6cb12822-9138-5af8-864b-6dbbc5dd12db.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/passengers-in-viral-airline-videos-have-same-lawyer/article_6cb12822-9138-5af8-864b-6dbbc5dd12db.html","canonical":"http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2017/The-woman-who-sobbed-after-an-American-Airlines-flight-attendant-took-her-stroller-now-has-a-lawyer/id-be426d91485949cb9fe1c61d7ed82541","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By DAVID KOENIG\nAP Airlines Writer","prologue":"DALLAS (AP) \u2014 The woman seen sobbing in a viral video after an American Airlines flight attendant took away her stroller now has a lawyer \u2014 the same attorney representing a man dragged off a United Express flight earlier this month. The Chicago lawyer, Thomas Demetrio, says the American flight attendant was \"out of control\" and nearly hit one of the woman's two young children with the stroller.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","illinois state news","business","general news","travel","lawsuits","legal proceedings","law and order","passenger airlines","airlines","transportation and shipping","industrial products and services","corporate lawsuits","corporate legal affairs","corporate news","air travel disruptions","transportation"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"32df35dc-7cff-59ce-b289-dd4d4b463f72","description":"FILE - In this Thursday, April 13, 2017, file photo, attorney Thomas Demetrio speaks at a news conference in Chicago. The woman who sobbed after an American Airlines flight attendant took her stroller now has a lawyer, Demetrio, who also represents the Kentucky doctor who was dragged from a United Express flight earlier in the month. American says the woman on the flight on April 21, was supposed to leave her doublewide stroller to be stored in the cargo bay, not take it into the cabin. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford, File)","byline":"Teresa Crawford","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"512","height":"389","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/2d/32df35dc-7cff-59ce-b289-dd4d4b463f72/58efc3c7ea7a9.image.jpg?resize=512%2C389"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"76","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/2d/32df35dc-7cff-59ce-b289-dd4d4b463f72/58efc3c7ea7a9.image.jpg?resize=100%2C76"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"228","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/2d/32df35dc-7cff-59ce-b289-dd4d4b463f72/58efc3c7ea7a9.image.jpg?resize=300%2C228"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"778","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/2d/32df35dc-7cff-59ce-b289-dd4d4b463f72/58efc3c7ea7a9.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":8,"commentID":"6cb12822-9138-5af8-864b-6dbbc5dd12db","body":"

DALLAS (AP) \u2014 The woman seen sobbing in a viral video after an American Airlines flight attendant took away her stroller now has a lawyer \u2014 the same attorney representing a man dragged off a United Express flight earlier this month.

The Chicago lawyer, Thomas Demetrio, says the American flight attendant was \"out of control\" and nearly hit one of the woman's two young children with the stroller.

An American Airlines spokesman said Monday that the company has been in contact with the woman and refunded her tickets and upgraded her to first class for the rest of her trip to Argentina.

The airline says the woman's doublewide stroller was tagged to be checked as cargo at the door to the plane, but instead she took it into the cabin, leading to the confrontation with the flight attendant.

The airline spokesman said American is still investigating the incident and has grounded the flight attendant. American said in a statement Friday that the scene captured on video \"does not reflect our values or how we care for our customers.\"

The president of the union representing American's flight attendants said the employee deserves credit for staying on the plane after being challenged by a male passenger who sided with the woman. The man threatened the employee that he could \"knock you flat.\" The flight attendant responded by taunting the passenger to hit him.

\"Was it the most perfect response? No,\" said Bob Ross, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, who added that some details of the incident are still unclear. But \"he flew that flight with that (male) passenger to Dallas. He had every right to get off.\"

Had the employee done so, Ross said, the flight would have been canceled and all the passengers stranded because there were no backup flight attendants in San Francisco.

Ross said he protested the airline's decision to ground the flight attendant, a veteran employee based in Philadelphia. American and the union declined to identify him.

The incident before a flight from San Francisco to Dallas came two weeks after airport police in Chicago dragged a passenger off a plane after he refused to give up his seat to make room for an airline employee.

Demetrio said that passenger, a 69-year-old Kentucky physician, plans to file a lawsuit. He said it was too soon to know whether the woman on the American Airlines plane would sue.

Video of both events has put airlines on the defensive in the court of public opinion.

\"We live in the age of cellphone video, so corporations have to take heed,\" Demetrio told NBC-TV.

___

David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) \u2014 Federal officials in South Dakota said Monday that 15 people have been indicted for illegally trafficking eagles and other migratory birds after a two-year undercover operation potentially involving hundreds of birds.

U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler said that officials expect \"significant\" additional federal charges in the case, which focused on trafficking of eagles and eagle parts such as feathers for profit. Authorities said the case involves more than 100 eagles, a number that could climb as high as 250.

Seiler described one operation as basically a \"chop-shop for eagles\" in which eagle feathers were stuffed into garbage bags. He said it was clear that it was a moneymaking operation and that the feathers and other eagle parts such as talons and beaks were treated as merchandise.

\"There was no cultural sensitivity. There was no spirituality,\" Seiler said. \"There was no tradition in the manner in which these defendants handled these birds.\"

Three Rapid City men charged in the case are involved with Buffalo Dreamers, which performs Native American dance programs. Owner Troy Fairbanks has been charged with conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking and violations of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Lacey Act.

Fairbanks, 54, allegedly sold or traded eagle parts to an informant including a golden eagle head for $250, a trade involving about $5,400 of legal merchandise for eagle parts and selling two sets of eagle wings for $900.

It wasn't immediately clear if Fairbanks has an attorney, and he didn't immediately return an email from The Associated Press. A telephone number for Buffalo Dreamers went directly to voicemail.

Those accused in the case include people from Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. Authorities didn't immediately disclose how much the defendants are thought to have profited in the case, and Seiler said some of the 15 defendants are unconnected to each other.

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) \u2014 Polaris Industries plans to close its plant in the northwest Iowa city of Milford, leaving up to 300 employees out of work.

Polaris spokeswoman Kelly Basgen told the Sioux City Journal (http://bit.ly/2ptMQ3z ) on Monday the company would stop production of all-terrain and utility vehicles at the Milford plant that had operated since 2013. Production would shift to plants in Alabama, Minnesota and California.

Basgen says some employee could move to other Polaris plants, leaving between 275 and 300 workers out of a job.

Ken Pucel, the company's executive vice president of operations, says the plant was being closed in an effort to \"streamline our plant infrastructure.\"

Polaris is based in the Minneapolis suburb of Medina.

___

Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com

"}, {"id":"fc64af9e-9a1f-5dd0-a194-052ddc97c174","type":"article","starttime":"1493072275","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-24T17:17:55-05:00","lastupdated":"1493074048","priority":0,"sections":[{"illinois":"news/state-and-regional/illinois"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"APNewsBreak: Illinois tech chief's memberships cost $208K","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/article_fc64af9e-9a1f-5dd0-a194-052ddc97c174.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/apnewsbreak-illinois-tech-chief-s-memberships-cost-k/article_fc64af9e-9a1f-5dd0-a194-052ddc97c174.html","canonical":"http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2017/Documents-obtained-by-The-Associated-Press-show-that-Illinois-Gov-Bruce-Rauner-s-information-technology-chief-has-contracted-to-spend-208-000-in-tax-dollars-for-two-professional-member/id-49247709dd2842438b4bad4070066864","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By JOHN O'CONNOR\nAP Political Writer","prologue":"SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) \u2014 Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's technology czar has contracted to spend $208,000 in tax dollars for two professional memberships even though the state is without a budget and is billions of dollars in debt, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Hardik Bhatt, the $145,000-a-year secretary of the Department of Innovation and Technology, has had a $50,000 annual membership in the Chief Information Officer Leadership Council of the Virginia-based executive-assistance organization CEB Inc. since 2015. He's also approved a $29,000 subscription and annual renewal for his agency, known as DoIT, with CEB's Risk Leadership Council.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","illinois state news","general news","government and politics","gubernatorial elections","appropriations","legislature","state governments","state taxes","government taxation and revenue","government finance","government business and finance","business","technology"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"53e06ed3-82e0-51f5-b7ae-321f524d5c5e","description":"FILE - In this March 30, 2016 file photo, Illinois secretary of the Department of Innovation and Technology Hardik Bhatt speaks to reporters in Springfield, Ill. Bhatt has spent $208,000 in tax dollars for two professional memberships despite the states budget crisis. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman File)","byline":"Seth Perlman","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"512","height":"349","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/3e/53e06ed3-82e0-51f5-b7ae-321f524d5c5e/58fe795cb7b5e.image.jpg?resize=512%2C349"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"68","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/3e/53e06ed3-82e0-51f5-b7ae-321f524d5c5e/58fe795cb7b5e.image.jpg?resize=100%2C68"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"204","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/3e/53e06ed3-82e0-51f5-b7ae-321f524d5c5e/58fe795cb7b5e.image.jpg?resize=300%2C204"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"698","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/5/3e/53e06ed3-82e0-51f5-b7ae-321f524d5c5e/58fe795cb7b5e.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"fc64af9e-9a1f-5dd0-a194-052ddc97c174","body":"

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) \u2014 Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's technology czar has contracted to spend $208,000 in tax dollars for two professional memberships even though the state is without a budget and is billions of dollars in debt, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Hardik Bhatt, the $145,000-a-year secretary of the Department of Innovation and Technology, has had a $50,000 annual membership in the Chief Information Officer Leadership Council of the Virginia-based executive-assistance organization CEB Inc. since 2015. He's also approved a $29,000 subscription and annual renewal for his agency, known as DoIT, with CEB's Risk Leadership Council.

DoIT, an agency created by executive order shortly after Republican Rauner took office in January 2015, is responsible for upgrading Illinois' digital technology infrastructure, providing statewide computer and telecommunications and oversight, improving cyber security, more precise management of the state's $1 billion investment portfolio, and making services for taxpayers easier to access.

DoIT spokeswoman Jennifer Schultz said the membership and subscription are \"strategic investments\" to help the state improve on an \"outdated, inefficient\" and unsafe system.

\"These groups provide guidance and research to states and Fortune 500 companies,\" Schultz said in a prepared statement. \"The benefit to Illinois is to learn and implement best practices in organization design, cyber-security, IT governance and other areas to help us avoid making the same mistakes the state has made previously in IT.\"

But the expenditures frustrated Rep. Fred Crespo, chairman of the House Appropriations-General Services Committee, which is scheduled to hear testimony about DoIT's budget Tuesday. The Hoffman Estates Democrat blamed it partly on the fact that DoIT was created by Rauner and is not subject to legislative oversight.

Crespo said he's troubled that money is spent on these services when the two-year budget stalemate between Rauner and Democrats controlling the General Assembly has meant millions of dollars in cuts to human-service providers and higher education.

\"We're trying to connect the dots, figure out how much money is being spent\" by DoIT, Crespo said. \"These social service providers, universities that are dying, why are spending money on new computers at the expense of all these families, all these students, all people hurting. Tell me how that makes sense?\"

A spokeswoman for CEB Inc. did not respond to a request for comment. The contract for the risk leadership council says membership provides \"proven best practices, research and insight, peer benchmarks, decision and diagnostic tools, executive networking, advisory support and live and online learning events.\"

Although the state had chief information officers prior to DoIT's birth, there is no evidence of membership or subscription payments to CEB for several years prior to 2015.

Crespo noted that after GOP Comptroller Leslie Munger was defeated in a special election in November, she transferred $71 million from general revenue funds to specially earmarked accounts that in large part benefited DoIT. The membership money is out of one of them, a fund for \"data processing and informational services.\"

Bhatt's $50,000 leadership council memberships were paid for 2016 and 2017, as was one year of the risk-group membership. But Munger's replacement, Democrat Susana Mendoza, who has sparred with Rauner over spending, particularly for DoIT, has not paid one year of each membership, totaling $79,000. Mendoza has held up payment while seeking answers general questions from DoIT on its initiatives. But the state is ultimately obligated to pay it because Bhatt signed contracts.

\"This type of waste of tax dollars is why I will always demand accountability and transparency from every state agency,\" Mendoza said in a statement released to the AP Monday. \"Right now we could use an extra $200,000 for services for children, seniors and people who need help,\"

Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights, the Republican spokesman on the House general services appropriations panel, said the CEB benefits sound like they'd be helpful to technology chiefs for Fortune 500 companies or other large corporations but wondered whether there are many public-sector members.

\"It's a significant amount of money and it begs the question, is there a significant amount of benefit?\" Harris asked. \"Are there benefits being provided that are available in more public forums that don't cost $50,000?\"

___

Contact Political Writer John O'Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/john-oconnor.

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FOLEY and BARBARA RODRIGUEZ\nAssociated Press","prologue":"DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) \u2014 A plan to spend nearly a half-million dollars remodeling the interior of the newest state office building in Des Moines is moving ahead despite budget cuts that are slicing an array of state programs and services, documents obtained by The Associated Press show. The Iowa Utilities Board is planning to demolish and redo much of the customer service area in its award-winning, six-year-old building. Planning documents obtained under the open records law call for extensive renovations, including new glass walls and doors, ceilings, woodwork, paint and even a 75-inch Samsung television. A transaction counter would be demolished and replaced with a customer greeting desk. A conference room and two smaller meeting rooms would be added.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","iowa state news","general news","government and politics","government programs","government budgets","government finance","government business and finance","business"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"33062582-1105-5f3a-9b3f-e2e6b4d5478a","description":"A man enters the Iowa Utilities Board building on the Capitol Complex, Monday, April 24, 2017, in Des Moines, Iowa. A plan to spend nearly a half-million dollars remodeling the interior of the newest state office building in Des Moines is moving forward despite budget cuts that are hitting an array of state programs and services. 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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) \u2014 A plan to spend nearly a half-million dollars remodeling the interior of the newest state office building in Des Moines is moving ahead despite budget cuts that are slicing an array of state programs and services, documents obtained by The Associated Press show.

The Iowa Utilities Board is planning to demolish and redo much of the customer service area in its award-winning, six-year-old building. Planning documents obtained under the open records law call for extensive renovations, including new glass walls and doors, ceilings, woodwork, paint and even a 75-inch Samsung television. A transaction counter would be demolished and replaced with a customer greeting desk. A conference room and two smaller meeting rooms would be added.

The two-story, $10 million building is considered among the nicest in the Capitol Complex, where many date to the 1970s or earlier. It opened in 2011 to much fanfare on the site of a former landfill, winning praise for its energy-efficiency and elegant design.

As lawmakers finished a $7.2 billion budget that cuts everything from crime victims' services to childhood obesity prevention, state officials met Thursday with companies interested in bidding on construction, glazing, mechanical and electrical work. Bids are due May 3.

The board is using $330,000 left over from its 2016 budget and a $250,000 appropriation that lawmakers approved last year to fund the project, a priority of Chairwoman Geri Huser. It has spent $91,000 on design and bid documents, including 130 pages of specifications by BNIM Architects detailing everything from new interior finishes to light fixtures. The budget is currently $464,000.

The project comes as Huser faces questions about her extensive outside work as a private attorney, revealed this month by AP. The Senate recently voted 44-4 to confirm Huser for a second two-year term as chairwoman, despite a law that requires the board's three members to devote their \"whole time\" to state duties. Huser says she's been working full-time even as she's been awarded more than $177,000 in legal fees.

The notice to bidders says the project \"consists primarily of interior remodel work\" but state documents do not make clear why it's necessary.

Board spokesman Don Tormey said the changes will give the public more space to meet with staff to discuss complaints against utilities or comment on cases, sit down to research docket files and review consumer information such as brochures. The building currently features two tables with chairs for customers but \"that space is not private or quiet,\" Tormey said.

The 75-inch television will replace a projector used for presentations in the conference room, Tormey said.

Asked why the project wasn't delayed or scaled back, he said the board \"has the funding and is following the process\" for renovations established by the Department of Administrative Services.

Lawmakers could block the project and reroute the money to fund other programs facing cutbacks but said they have no plans to do so.

Sen. Dennis Guth, R-Klemme, who was on a subcommittee that approved the renovation project money, was surprised to learn from AP last week that the funding hadn't already been spent.

Guth said Huser's request would not have earned support this year, when lawmakers have delayed \"anything that's not super essential\" due to lower-than-expected revenues. But he said the board made a legitimate case at a time when the budget had ample funding and should be able to finish the project.

\"It's not like I'm going to take away money that they've already begun a process with,\" he said, even though lawmakers have cut millions from universities and other agencies mid-year.

Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Cedar Rapids, said the building appeared to have \"a great amount of space\" for customer service when she went on a recent tour that highlighted its state-of-the-art energy features. She questioned the spending given that \"our budget is in trouble\" and other buildings are in far worse shape.

\"There are other buildings where people are having issues with even breathing the air and we're not addressing those,\" she said. \"I find it kind of interesting they'd be wanting to do upgrades already.\"

The building houses 60 board employees and 16 who work for the Office of Consumer Advocate, which will not be affected by the project. That's about 15 fewer than when the building opened, due mostly to unfilled vacancies.

The plan calls for contracts to be awarded next month and work to begin in July, when four employees are expected to be temporarily displaced until a completion date of Oct. 30.

"}, {"id":"3cc33e26-1f7b-5e9e-92dc-0afbb91173ec","type":"article","starttime":"1493068615","starttime_iso8601":"2017-04-24T16:16:55-05:00","lastupdated":"1493069638","priority":0,"sections":[{"illinois":"news/state-and-regional/illinois"}],"flags":{"ap":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Illinois lawmakers return from break facing budget issues","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/article_3cc33e26-1f7b-5e9e-92dc-0afbb91173ec.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/illinois-lawmakers-return-from-break-facing-budget-issues/article_3cc33e26-1f7b-5e9e-92dc-0afbb91173ec.html","canonical":"http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2017/Illinois-lawmakers-are-returning-to-the-Capitol-this-week-to-resume-work-on-trying-to-end-the-budget-stalemate-that-has-eluded-them-for-almost-two-years/id-1befdddb11f24b18ae79dca807ad60af","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) \u2014 Illinois lawmakers are returning to the Capitol this week to resume work on trying to end a budget stalemate that has eluded them for almost two years. The State Journal-Register (http://bit.ly/2pa3xOx ) reports that just before lawmakers' two-week spring break, the House approved another stopgap spending bill that would give more than $800 million to human-services programs and higher education. But an overall Illinois budget remains a work in progress.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","illinois state news","general news","legislature","government and politics","state legislature","state governments","bills","legislation","government budgets","government finance","government business and finance","business"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"revision":3,"commentID":"3cc33e26-1f7b-5e9e-92dc-0afbb91173ec","body":"

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) \u2014 Illinois lawmakers are returning to the Capitol this week to resume work on trying to end a budget stalemate that has eluded them for almost two years.

The State Journal-Register (http://bit.ly/2pa3xOx ) reports that just before lawmakers' two-week spring break, the House approved another stopgap spending bill that would give more than $800 million to human-services programs and higher education. But an overall Illinois budget remains a work in progress.

Issues include school funding reform, pension changes, a higher minimum wage and other matters that were part of the Senate's \"grand bargain.\" Efforts to pass the Senate plan include a dozen interconnected bills that suffered a major setback when Republican support evaporated nearly overnight in early March.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has been at odds with the Democratic-controlled Legislature, has said he believes a deal is close.

\"We're negotiating in the Senate right now. Democrats and Republicans are coming together,\" Rauner said last week. \"We're very close. We could get it done in the next couple of weeks.\"

Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno are working on a bipartisan solution, their spokespeople said.

\"We believe there needs to be a comprehensive solution,\" Radogno spokeswoman Patty Schuh. \"A stopgap does not solve the needs of the state or give job creators any hope that Illinois will have stability in the near future.\"

Rauner and other Republicans have said they believe passage of a stopgap measure will take pressure off lawmakers to come up with a full budget. Democratic Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill said he disagrees.

\"There will not be pressure removed from passing a sustainable budget until that actually happens,\" he said.

___

Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

"} ]