It’s three mini-shows for the price of one this week. Three smart beat reporters who know their topics thoroughly.
We start with Rob Wildeboer, who’s been covering the Blago soap opera for WBEZ from the beginning. Rob says Judge Zagel made it clear that the heavier sentence sends a message to corrupt politicians, but it also sends a message to ordinary citizens that “this isn’t a joke”. And there could be a grain of good news for Jesse Jackson Jr, in that, despite an ongoing investigation by the House Ethics Committee, the fact that Blago’s prosecutors have allowed the investigation to proceed could mean that criminal charges against Jackson are off the table, at least for now – barring any new charges. So says Mr. Wildeboer.
Sarah Karp joins us again from Catalyst Chicago to reveal that CPS is about to close its 100th school since the “turnaround” or Renaissance” movement began about ten years ago. The research she did in collaboration with WBEZ shows that, of the schools that later reopened in some other form, at least a third of them are performing about as poorly as the schools they replaced. To make matters worse, many schools were replaced with magnets or charters having city-wide enrollment that may limit access to neighborhood schools. We also discuss the latest partnership between CPS and the Gates Foundation, which encourages higher funding and increased commitment to existing charter schools.
Kristen Schorsch covers health and medicine for Crain’s, and she tells us about the new CEO of the Cook County Health system, who’s being forced to run the County’s hospitals and clinic with a lot less money than the county spent last year. But he says he can do it. And she tells us that an alarming number of hospitals in the region might not survive. They’re turning to mergers and acquisitions just to stay in business.
That and more – including top stories on 2011, this week in The Newsroom.