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Sheriff Tom Dart said Sunday that he is proposing a concealed-carry gun ordinance to keep Cook County from becoming the "Wild West."
Dart said he's worried about a stalemate in the General Assembly on a law to license people to carry concealed guns. If legislators don't meet a June 9 court deadline to pass such a law, anyone with a state firearm owner's identification card could legally walk anywhere in public with a concealed weapon, Dart said.
"We would have the Wild West," he said. "There would be no regulation."
Dart said he's proposing a concealed-carry law for Cook County that would take effect only if the General Assembly failed to act by June 9 and the court didn't extend the deadline.
"I was in Springfield for 11 years," Dart said of his time as a legislator. "Deadlines sometimes don't mean anything. We have to be prepared in the event something does not get done."
Dart's ordinance would give him the power to approve and reject licenses to carry concealed guns in Cook County. Applicants would have to pay a $300 fee for a license.
Dart said he thinks the ordinance would apply not only to Cook County suburbs, but also to the city of Chicago in the absence of a state law governing concealed carrying of guns.
Chicago Police spokesman Adam Collins said: "If a statewide law is not passed, the city is preparing to implement a comprehensive concealed-carry ordinance to ensure that guns stay out of the hands of criminals."
Illinois is the only state that does not have a law allowing people to carry concealed firearms.
The National Rifle Association sees the issue as key to its national agenda of protecting Second Amendment gun rights.
The NRA and other gun-rights advocates would like to see legislation that authorizes concealed-carry licenses for anyone who undergoes the necessary training and passes a background check. Those are commonly called "shall issue" licenses.
But Dart and other gun-control activists want to retain more control over who gets the licenses and where gun owners can carry their weapons in public. Those are called "may issue" licenses.
Under Dart's proposed "may issue" ordinance, he would grant licenses only to people who demonstrate a need to carry a firearm for protection.
Dart said he recently spoke to elderly people in the south suburbs. They complained that the police were unresponsive. Some said they were regularly burglarized while they attended church.
"It's a matter of timing," Dart said, noting that those people could have become homicide victims if they came home during a burglary.
Those are the types of people who might show a need for a concealed-carry permit, Dart said. But someone without a specific need for a gun would have difficulty receiving a license, he said.
Business owners who could hire armed security for protection also might have a hard time getting a license, Dart said.
The proposed ordinance would ban concealed weapons in many public places, including mass transit, schools, child-care facilities, sporting venues, hospitals, government buildings and police stations. Businesses could restrict concealed weapons by displaying a sign.
Dart said the $300 application fee would pay for the employees he would have to hire to process license requests.
The June 9 deadline for a concealed-carry law was set after the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December that Illinois' ban on public gun possession was unconstitutional. "The Supreme Court has decided that the [2nd] amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside," the Seventh Circuit wrote.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan has until June 24 to decide whether she will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the appeals court's ruling.
She hasn't said whether she will, but her office argued in a court filing that the Seventh Circuit ruling conflicted with other decisions.
(Sun Times, Page 3) Source: Chicago Sun Times
Gov. Pat Quinn on Sunday vetoed legislation that would raise electricity rates by $70 million a year for the modernization of the electrical grid.
"I think it's very important to make sure that we put the people of Illinois ahead of profits of big utility companies," he told reporters before firmly stamping the document "Vetoed" and signing his name. The governor said regular folks are on fixed incomes and these hikes can hurt them.
But the veto doesn't mean the rate hike won't happen.
The measure, known as Senate Bill 9, passed each house with veto-proof majorities: 86-28 with 3 voting present in the House and 44-9 with 1 voting present in the Senate.
Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), the House sponsor of the bill, said Sunday he expected the governor's denial and said it won't stick.
"I fully expect the governor's veto will be overridden," he said.
Senate President John Cullerton, (D-Chicago) the Senate sponsor, will also ask for an override vote, his spokeswoman said Sunday.
It's what ComEd hopes for, the utility said in a statement.
"This bill would get the Smart Grid back on track and allow ComEd to build a modern grid to reduce power outages, give customers more choice and control over their energy use, and create thousands of much-needed jobs," it said in a statement.
The governor, though, said an override will hurt the state, its people and businesses.
An override, he said, "would be a bad idea. ... Stable energy prices are one of the best ways to attract new businesses and keep businesses and keep jobs."
Quinn, who helped establish the Citizens Utility Board in the 1980s and had one of its first mailings at hand, also rejected lawmakers' role in this issue.
"I think it's important to say 'No' to unfairness and definitely say 'No' to a process, an unfortunate process, that has become a very disturbing trend; where if utilities don't get something from the Illinois Commerce Commission, they run off to the Legislature and they do an end run," the governor said. The ICC acts a watchdog for the public, the governor said. He added "it's important" the companies invest in infrastructure, but he rejected this measure as the way to do it.
Lang said the utilities weren't "sidestepping anyone." Instead, the ICC "misinterpreted the smart-grid law" and that's why the utilities went to lawmakers.
"When they came to the Legislature, we were only too happy to clean it up," Lang said.
Cullerton has said the decision by the ICC to cut rates was a misinterpretation of smart-grid legislation passed in 2011 to bankroll a $2.6 billion ComEd smart-grid upgrade over the next decade.
Cullerton's spokeswoman, Rikeesha Phelon, added the ICC provided "input" for Senate Bill 9.
Under the proposal, ComEd would have 10 years to complete its so-called smart-grid modernization, and customers would not see their rates increase until 2014. The utility estimates the average residential utility bill will jump by about 40 cents a month and increase by 80 cents per month by 2017.
The measure would also restore funding to ComEd and Ameren Illinois that was lost when the Illinois Commerce Commission imposed rate cuts on the utilities last May and again in October. The utility had challenged the commission in court when it was denied about $100 million in rate hikes, of which only $65 million-$70 million is addressed in the legislation, ComEd claims.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan has also indicated she opposes the bill.
(Sun Times, Page 6) Source: Chicago Sun Times
The uncle of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev arrived in Massachusetts on Sunday to arrange for his burial, saying he understands that "no one wants to associate their names with such evil events."
Ruslan Tsarni, of Montgomery Village, Md., and three of his friends met with the Worcester funeral home director and prepared to wash and shroud Tsarnaev's body according to Muslim tradition. The 26-year-old died after a gun battle with police on April 19.
Funeral director Peter Stefan said he hasn't been able to find a cemetery in Massachusetts willing to take the body. He said he plans to ask the city of Cambridge, where Tsarnaev lived, to provide a burial plot, and if Cambridge turns him down, he will seek help from state officials.
Tsarni told reporters that he is arranging for Tsarnaev's burial because religion and tradition call for his nephew to be buried. He would like him to be buried in Massachusetts because he's lived in the state for the last decade, he said.
"I'm dealing with logistics. A dead person must be buried," he said.
(Sun Times, Page 20) Source: Associated Press
Colossal numbers of cicadas, patiently growing undergroudn since 1996, are about to emerge along much of the East Coast to begin passionately singing and mating as their remarkable life cycle restarts.
This year heralds the springtime emergence of billions of so-called 17-year periodical cicadas, with their distinctive black bodies, buggy red eyes and orange-veined wings, along a roughly 900-mile stretch from northern Georgia to upstate New York.
The eerie, cacophonous mating music they produce, along with the unusual synchronous mass emergence and lengthy development cycles, have amazed scientists and lay people alike for centuries.
In central Connecticut, particularly dense concentrations of so-called Brood II cicadas, named Magicicada septendecim, should arrive in late May or June, says Chris Maier, entomologist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven.
This will be Maier's third time studying the bugs' emergence - he tracked them in 1979 and again in 1996.
Although boisterous, cicadas do not sing or bite, and they aren't harmful to crops. A few weeks before emergence, the cicadas build tunnels to the surface. When the soil temperature exceeds 64 degrees, nymphs leave their burrows usually after sunset, settle on a nearby tree or shrub, and start their final molt to adulthood.
(RedEye, Page 3) Source: Reuters
Before Cubs fans start reading anything more into this: Ozzie Guillen will be back in Chicago on May 29 to play host for his charity event.
The Ozzie Guillen Foundation will hold a fundraiser that benefits children who suffer from various illnesses. The former White Sox manager and his wife, Ibis, will co-host the event at The Grid, 351 W. Hubbard St. beginning at 7:30 p.m.
"Chicago will always be home to me and I'm very happy that we're bringing our foundation to the city that supported me so much throughout my career," Guillen said.
For more information about attending the event, go to email@example.com.
(Sun Times, Page 59) Source: Chicago Sun Times