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Chicago-area transit boards will have to stream their meetings live online by at least next summer under legislation signed by Gov. Pat Quinn Tuesday.

The proposal, which takes effect in June, also requires that recordings of the meeting be posted online.

Lawmakers approved the plan this year as Metra in particular moves on from an ethics scandal that included a large severance package given to outgoing CEO Alex Clifford.

The law applies to the Regional Transportation Authority, Metra, Pace and the Chicago Transit Authority.

The plan was sponsored by state Rep. Al Riley, an Olympia Fields Democrat, and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, a Chicago Heights Democrat.

New ATU 241 By-Laws click here
ATU names new training center in honor of Rosa Parks and Tommy Douglas – ATU Dispatch December 18, 2014

Iesah James | photo from Chicago Police
The ATU General Executive Board has approved International President Larry Hanley’s recommendation to name the former labor college and new ATU training center after Rosa Parks and Tommy Douglas, heroes ATU members honor as two of North America’s most courageous leaders.

A woman who risked her personal safety and perhaps her life for the freedom of all Americans, Rosa Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) took bold action by refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, AL, bus in 1955.

Her action came to be regarded as a watershed moment in the history of the civil rights movement.

“Rosa Parks was the most effective transit passenger organizer in the history of our nation,” Hanley said. “America is a better place today because of the singular stand she took on a bus against segregation. But the struggle is far from over, and we call upon all Americans to demonstrate the same determination Rosa Parks did in fighting injustice today.

Dedicating the building to her memory where we train new leaders will be constant reminders of the faith, courage, and commitment she exemplified – essential qualities of any activist leader,” Hanley said.

The man who led the fight in Canada to provide health insurance for all, Thomas Clement “Tommy” Douglas, (October 20, 1904 – February 24 1986) was often called “the greatest Canadian.”

A Baptist minister and champion boxer, he left the pulpit for a political platform. A powerful orator and tireless activist, he was elected to serve as a Member of Saskatchewan’s parliament, and later, premier of the province – an office he held for 17 years. He introduced the continent’s first single-payer, universal health care program; a program that would eventually be adopted across Canada.

After setting up the Saskatchewan Medicare program, Douglas was elected as the first leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), formed in 1935, to advance the cause of Labour. He was a strong advocate of the Canada Pension Plan and was considered the “conscience” of Parliament on matters of civil liberties.

“A staunch supporter of public transit, Douglas believed in the crucial role of civil rights and the great potential of cooperation for the common good,” said Hanley. “He is a role model for the next generation of progressive leaders.

“The Parks/Douglas Center will open its doors to train many generations in the tradition of these two leaders,” Hanley continued. “Future generations of organizers will draw from the brilliance, strength and courage of these two models of community action and leadership and we will forever celebrate the generosity of their spirits and legacies. They will live in us.” Read more

A woman has been charged with aggravated battery and ordered held on a $25,000 bond after she allegedly used a stun gun on a CTA bus driver Friday night in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side.

Iesah James | photo from Chicago Police
Iesah James | photo from Chicago Police

Iesah James, 30, of the 3100 block of West Arthington, faces two felony counts of aggravated battery to a transit employee, according to a statement from Chicago Police.

Shortly after 11 p.m., James threw a rock at the 49-year-old man driving the bus in the 700 block of North Austin, police said. The rock hit the man in the shoulder and she then used a Taser on the bus driver, striking him under the arm causing “redness and soreness.”

The bus driver refused medical attention, a police source said.

James “became enraged” when the bus passed her stop, according to a police report.

On Sunday, James was ordered held on a $25,000 bond, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s office. She is next scheduled to appear in court Friday.

July 3, 2014 Supreme Court Ruling on Health Insurance Benefits

On July 3, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court decided appeals in a group of cases with the heading Kanerva et al. v. Weems et al. This decision was not a decision on the pending case involving the CTA Retirement Plan and Retiree Health Care Trust, which is entitled Matthews et al. v. Retirement Plan for Chicago Transit Employees et al.

In the Matthews case, all of the parties have asked the Supreme Court of Illinois to change some aspect of the opinion of the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court has not yet decided whether to hear these appeals.

There is currently no ruling that requires the CTA Retirement Plan or Retiree Health Care Trust to make any changes to the current health care benefits of CTA retirees.

Click this text for link to Court Order