The Chicago police union says it has hired as a janitor the officer charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a black teenager.

Dean Angelo, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago, says the union hired Jason Van Dyke about three weeks ago.

Van Dyke is accused of shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014.

The shooting was captured on squad-car video and has prompted investigations, including a federal civil rights probe of the Chicago Police Department.


A federal judge has issued an arrest warrant effective at midnight for a former U.S. congressman from Illinois who says he is staying in South Africa with his ill daughter.

Former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds is free on bond in a federal tax case. 

The Chicago Tribune reports U.S. District Judge John Darrah ordered the warrant issued Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, Reynolds told the judge in an open letter that he's staying abroad to care for his daughter in the African nation because she is suffering from scoliosis and may also have cervical cancer.  

Associated Press

President Barack Obama has commuted prison sentences of five Illinoisans, including three serving life terms for drug crimes.

The Illinois inmates were among 61 drug offenders whose sentences Obama commuted Wednesday. One of the inmates, Jesse Webster of Chicago, is serving a life term for intent to sell cocaine and filing false tax returns. Webster is to be released Sept. 26.

The two others serving life sentences are Larry Nokes of Quincy and Ismael Rosa of Chicago. Nokes is to be released July 28 and Rosa next March.

WUIS / Peoria Public Radio

Gov. Bruce Rauner is expressing frustration at the lack of progress in Illinois budget negotiations with Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and says his efforts to set up a one-on-one meeting have gone nowhere.

The Republican governor on Wednesday accused Madigan and fellow Democrats of "playing games" by purposefully stalling on talks so they can argue for "a huge tax hike."

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says Rauner's responsible for the gridlock for vetoing the budget lawmakers passed last year.

U.S. Government

Prosecutors say they won't retry former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich on five counts tossed by a federal appeals court and have requested a resentencing date.

Prosecutors' Wednesday filing came two days after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Blagojevich's appeal of 13 remaining corruption convictions. Those include his attempt to sell an appointment to the Senate vacated by President Barack Obama.

The high court was one of the 59-year-old Democrat's last hopes to have his remaining convictions tossed or to sharply reduce his 14-year prison sentence.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said Wednesday that it's "an outrage that financially troubled Chicago State University may be forced to close. Employees and students are being asked to turn in their keys to campus facilities -- just one example of how the lack of a state budget is affecting higher education in Illinois.


The financially troubled university on Chicago's South Side has been at risk of running out of money as public colleges and universities in Illinois have waited since last July for state funding held up by the budget standoff in Springfield.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Gov. Bruce Rauner says a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing labor unions to collect fees from non-members is "tragic'' and a lawsuit aimed at banning the practice in Illinois will continue.

Justices on Tuesday divided 4-4 in a California case over whether public workers represented by a union can be required to pay "fair share'' fees.

It's a big win for unions, who say the money covers collective bargaining costs.

Numbers from Winnebago County Coroner's Office / Data visualization done in collaboration with the ddiLab in the Department of Computer Science at Northern Illinois University

The rate of heroin-related overdose deaths in Winnebago County is among the highest in Illinois.

Deaths involving drugs in the county nearly tripled in the last decade. Longtime County Coroner Sue Fiduccia says that means it's time to think outside the box when it comes to breaking down the stigma surrounding addiction and treatment.

Illinois lawmakers are again trying to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana but face strong opposition from law enforcement and anti-pot advocates.

The omnibus bill in the Senate also would set a standard for what's considered too high to drive.

Opponents of the legislation say there should be zero tolerance for using marijuana and driving and that decriminalizing pot sends the wrong message to youth.

The bill would make possessing 10 grams of marijuana a civil offense punishable by fines of up to $200.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Gov. Bruce Rauner says an overhaul of Illinois' outdated school funding formula can be done over time.

Rauner supports a rewrite but says the formula is complex, broken and changing it will take time.

The Republican says he doesn't want to hold up the budget and funding schools if it takes longer than August.

Rauner spoke Thursday in the east central Illinois community of Paxton.

Lawmakers from both parties agree the formula last changed in 1997 should be revised over concerns that it penalizes students in poorer districts.