Stories by Amanda Vinicky

Holiday Cheer Takes Root at Poinsettia Farm in Woodstock

They appear to be marbled, speckled, dipped and dyed, with names like “Red Glitter” and “Jingle Bell Rock.” We visit a poinsettia farm and learn what it takes to cultivate the crop in time for the holidays.

GOP House Members Call for Action on DACA by End of Year

(Bjoertvedt / Wikimedia Commons)

Thirty-four Republican Congressman, including two from Illinois, sent a letter Tuesday to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan calling for “a permanent legislative solution” for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients before year’s end.

Gov. Rauner Seeking Re-election: ‘I Am Not in Charge’

Gov. Bruce Rauner came into office selling his credentials as a deal-making businessman who could turn Illinois around. But nearly three years into his term, Rauner said he’s “not in charge.”

Fighting the Opioid Epidemic, By Mail

Illinois has a goal of cutting opioid-related deaths by one-third by the year 2020. And at the Chicago International Mailing Facility, the focus is on enhanced cargo screening.

Chris Kennedy, J.B. Pritzker Release Partial Tax Returns

Candidates for Illinois governor Chris Kennedy, left, and J.B. Pritzker appear on “Chicago Tonight” on June 22 and June 15, respectively.

Amid forecasts that Illinois’ race for governor could break national spending records, two Democratic candidates have released information that begins to show just how much money each has to help fund their campaigns.

Cook County Jail Population Down 15 Percent After Bond Reforms

Reforms to Cook County’s bond system have led to a 15 percent decrease in the county’s jail population. “Our judges are in fact not setting bonds higher than people can afford,” said Chief Judge Tim Evans.

Chuy Garcia Sole Cook County Commissioner Iffy on Budget

Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) speaks with “Chicago Tonight” in February 2017.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle can expect easy passage of a revised spending plan, though Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia said he hasn’t made up his mind about how he’ll vote.

CTA Fare Hike Could Be on the Way

The Chicago Transit Authority hasn’t raised fares since 2009. Now, the head of the Regional Transit Authority says “the time has come” to change that. 

Lawmakers Band Together for Bipartisan Women’s Caucus

Illinois’ female state senators announce their informal tribe will operate as an official, bipartisan caucus devoted to advancing legislation to empower women. But hours later, the chamber kills a measure on gender pay equity.

Sexual Harassment Training Begins in Springfield

(Jim Bowen / Flickr)

It’s not mandatory by law yet, but Illinois legislators began formal lessons Wednesday on how to conduct themselves without “unwelcome” behavior and contacts that could be perceived by victims as sexual harassment. 

Lawmakers Pass Measures Cracking Down on Sexual Harassment

(Éovart Caçeir at English Wikipedia)

Sexual harassment has been part of the way of life at the Illinois state capital for decades. Lawmakers on Tuesday spent much of the day decrying that culture and approving measures intended to root it out.

State Lawmakers Scramble to Tackle Charges of Sexual Harassment

Legislators return to Springfield on Tuesday for the second half of the annual veto session. Front and center: What’s being done in the capital about sexual harassment. 

Cook County Democrats Back Kwame Raoul for Attorney General

Illinois’ largest county – and the Democrats who run its politics – will work to get state Sen. Kwame Raoul elected as the state’s next attorney general.

Sexual Harassment Allegations Shine Light on Gaps in State Law

(Jim Bowen / Flickr)

As Springfield grapples with allegations of rampant sexual misconduct and harassment, lapses and flaws in the system for dealing with charges of harassment and other unethical behavior are rising to the surface.

Can Custom-Fit Football Helmets Protect Athletes From Brain Trauma?

Football may be America’s favorite sport, but with the rising fear of brain injury and CTE, it’s taken a bruising. We visit a Chicago-area helmet maker to see how it’s tackling the issue. 

Ethics Commission Reports ‘No Cases’ Despite Dozens of Complaints

(Meagan Davis / Wikimedia Commons)

Complaints against state lawmakers and legislative staff have been sitting in a binder for as long as three years, according to a legislator who sits on the commission charged with ruling on misconduct.

State Rep. Jeanne Ives Confirms: She’s Running for Governor

| Evan Garcia

Up to this point, it wasn’t certain that a challenger would emerge from the intraparty revolution Gov. Bruce Rauner ignited when he signed an abortion law in late September. There’s no ambiguity now.

‘Bump Stock’ Ban Fails in Illinois House

(Meagan Davis / Wikimedia Commons)

While some gun rights advocates oppose any prohibition on “bump stocks,” others say they’re open to a ban, but that this particular proposal went too far, and was riddled with technical flaws.

After Springfield Sexual Harassment Exposed, Legislation on Fast Track

(Éovart Caçeir at English Wikipedia)

The public exposure of a capitol culture rife with groping, lewd jokes and other forms of sexual harassment has legislation intended to help eliminate the behavior on the fast track.

Rauner Rebuked on Vetoes, But Scores a Major Win

(Jim Bowen / Flickr)

Illinois legislators on Wednesday dealt Governor Bruce Rauner a series of blows, but the House failed by a single vote to override his veto of a measure that would ban municipalities from creating right-to-work zones.

Lawmakers Could Undergo Sexual Harassment Training

(Meagan Davis / Wikimedia Commons)

An open letter details sexual harassment in state political circles as lawmakers return to Springfield for the fall veto session.

Rauner Announces Re-election Bid on Brink of Veto Session

A still image from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s promotional video.

After publicly equivocating of late, Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday officially launched his bid for a second term in a highly produced two-minute video.

Innovation Partnership Launches, But Who’s Paying?

Related Midwest 78 (Credit: Mark Segal)

Vacant land in the South Loop could host a massive new research institute.

Gov. Bruce Rauner Earned $91 Million in 2016, Tax Returns Show

The 1040 tax return forms Gov. Bruce Rauner released Tuesday show his effective tax rate was 26.6 percent, and that he, his wife, and their foundation gave $6.6 million to charity.

2 Aviation Officers Fired for United Airlines Dragging Incident

(Courtesy @Tyler_Bridges)

Video of a United airlines passenger forcibly dragged off a plane stirred a worldwide uproar. Now, a pair of city aviation officers involved in the incident are out of a job following an investigation by Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.