DCFS Director George Sheldon Abruptly Resigns

George Sheldon, the now former head of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, submitted his resignation to Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday, saying he was stepping down immediately to take a position in his native Florida.

Sheldon’s departure comes as he faces an ongoing ethics probe involving contracts and DCFS is under fire for its handling of the Semaj Crosby case. The toddler was found dead in her Joliet home last month. Her family had been under investigation but no action was taken due to what was determined to be insufficient evidence.

Over the last five years, DCFS has had eight directors, including Sheldon.

Rauner’s office says he will appoint DCFS general counsel Lisa Spacapan as interim director while a national search for a permanent director gets underway.

In other news in Chicago tonight:

The Chicago Tribune is reporting Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker was recorded on FBI wiretaps talking with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

In recordings made by federal agents in 2008, the Tribune reports Blagojevich raised the idea of appointing Pritzker to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by newly elected President Barack Obama. Instead, Pritzker asked Blagojevich if he could be named Illinois treasurer should then-Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias leave for a position in the Obama White House. Pritzker never received any post.

He also was not called as a witness at Blagojevich’s trials nor accused of any wrongdoing.

This afternoon a spokeswoman for Pritzker issued a statement saying in part:

“There was nothing untoward about JB’s conversations with the Governor. Throughout JB’s life he’s had an interest in serving the people of Illinois. … This is just a continuation of attacks made by Bruce Rauner and Republicans …”

And a renowned University of Chicago astrophysicist receives a stellar honor.

In the 1950s, Eugene Parker developed the concept of solar wind and predicted other solar phenomena later proven to be fact. Wednesday morning, at an event at the University of Chicago, NASA officials informed the esteemed scientist that a spacecraft to be launched to the sun will bear his name. The Parker Solar Probe will be the first spacecraft to enter the sun’s atmosphere--known as the corona-- getting to within 3.5 million miles of the solar surface-- or in, technical terms, 4 solar radii.

“They designed a fabulous spacecraft. The sunlight – this is what grabs me – the sunlight is 3,000 times more intense at 4 solar radii as it is out here on Earth. It really is something amazing.”

The Parker Solar Probe will launch next summer and reach its closest point to the sun in 2024.