Minooka grade-school district to discuss building new classroom space

Plainfield News - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 18:39
Minooka Community Consolidated School District Superintendent Dr. Kris Monn satid Tuesday that the facilities advisory committee will come to the board of education at the regular meeting on Nov. 20 with a recommendation to build new classroom space in a new building due to steady enrollment growth. The board will not take any action on whether or not to create a referendum to go to the 2018 election, but will hear from the facilities advisory committee and its findings.

Monn said, at the meeting on Nov. 20, the board president could make the recommendation to have documents drawn and available for review at the Dec. 18 regular meeting. If the action item is approved at the December meeting, the question about the new building will go on the ballot during the 2018 election. Monn came to the district in 2015 and he said he has witnessed steady growth since his arrival. His first year, he said the district had such a large enrollment bump late in the summer that seven new teachers were hired the week before the first day of school in August. He said, over the summer, the district has received, at times, 10 to 15 housing permits per week, mostly from the Joliet area and subdivisions south of Route 6. As an example, Monn said the district believed the capacity at Minooka Intermediate School should be 1,000 students, but this year, due to a large fifth grade class, the enrollment was 1,059.

That is more than what the district considers functional capacity. He said this fifth grade class this year has always been a large class and, in a couple years, it will move on to the junior high and so on. He said the committee did not decide on any financial impact, just what the board should do to handle the growing enrollment. They did, however, look at some costs and possible outcomes. No more information, however, was available about the financial costs or tax increase possibilities. Monn said the board packet with information will be posted on the district web site on Thursday. The regular board of education meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20 in the Minooka School District Board room at 305 West Church Street in Minooka.

Grave decoration cleanups standard practice at other cemeteries

Plainfield News - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 17:22
Elmhurst Cemetery's cleaning up of grave decorations caught the attention and anger of the loved ones of those buried there after photos were circulated showing the items in piles over the weekend.

The cemetery responded on Sunday by explaining there is a policy of cleaning up the graves due to some of the decorations becoming unsightly after a while and possibly being tripping hazards.

But the policy of cleaning up gravesite decorations seems pretty standard practice for other local cemeteries.

Larry Yonish, the Director of Family Services at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Joliet, said cleanup of their graves starts Oct. 1 of each year. The reason for this is mostly for vases they have as part of the grave markers that loved ones can leave flowers in. During the winter, grounds crew workers invert the vases to protect them from the cold and then put them back in place for the spring when cleanup for the warm months begins April 1.

They usually don't have to worry about cleaning up real flowers because deer tend to eat them, but the cemetery does make sure to keep valuable items for loved ones to retrieve later.

“Anything that's valuable, we go ahead and collect,” Yonish said.

The Diocese of Joliet Catholic Cemeteries uses a similar policy and has it posted on its website.

“Our sacred grounds are maintained on a regular basis during the growing season for the best appearance of your loved one's gravesite and the cemetery,” the policy states. “Items are removed when they become unsightly, withered, or if they fail to comply with size and/or material limitations.”

The policy also states the diocese wishes to be as sensitive as possible of loved ones expressing grief, but it goes on to explain that for both fall and spring cleaning, all items are removed and disposed of. It warns anyone who left items to retrieve them before March 1 in the spring and October 1 in the fall.

The diocese runs Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Joliet and Resurrection Cemetery in Romeoville.

Gunman picking random targets kills 4 in Northern California

Plainfield News - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 17:08
RED BLUFF, Calif. – A gunman choosing targets at random opened fire in a rural Northern California town Tuesday, killing four people at several sites and wounding others at an elementary school before police shot him dead, authorities said.

The gunfire began around 8 a.m. in the community of Rancho Tehama Reserve, about 130 miles north of Sacramento.

Police offered no immediate word on the assailant's motive, but a sheriff's official said the shooter's neighbors had reported a domestic violence incident.

"It was very clear at the onset that we had an individual that was randomly picking targets," Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said.

Witnesses reported hearing gunshots and children screaming at an elementary school about five miles down a road from where the shooting is believed to have started.

Several people were wounded at the school, said Jeanine Quist, an administrative assistant with the Corning Union Elementary School District.

Salvador Tello said the gunman fired at a truck in front of him as he was dropping off his three children. Tello said he was about three blocks from the school when bullets made "big holes" in the truck in front of him.

He said he forced his children to duck down and slammed his truck into reverse and headed to the children's grandmother's house.

"I put my kids down and put my truck in reverse and went out," he said. "I don't believe it because I wake up, take my kids, feed them cereal and put them in the truck and says 'Let's go to school like a normal day.'"

On the way, he said, he saw an apparent gunshot victim and police at another scene.

Details were still sketchy hours after the shootings, and authorities did not have a firm count of the wounded due to the number of places the gunman attacked, Johnston said.

Authorities recovered a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns.

The rural subdivision is described on its website as a "quiet private country community" where "the people are friendly and the pace is relaxed." The homeowner association's website says there are 2,016 lots in the community and 1,346 voting members.

Two hospitals said they were treating a total of seven gunshot victims, including at least three children.

At least one student was wounded at the school. Another child was shot while driving with a woman, who also was wounded, Johnston said.

He declined to release the name of the shooter but said he was "aware" of a domestic violence incident that neighbors reported.

Brian Flint told the Record Searchlight newspaper in the city of Redding that his neighbor, whom he knows only as Kevin, was the gunman and that his roommate was among the victims. He said the shooter also stole his truck.

"The crazy thing is that the neighbor has been shooting a lot of bullets lately, hundreds of rounds, large magazines," Flint said. "We made it aware that this guy is crazy and he's been threatening us."

New Lenox police to use new hiring policy to fill vacancies quickly

Plainfield News - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 16:36
A lateral hiring policy approved by the village board will allow the New Lenox Police Department to cut down on training time, save some money, and get officers on the streets more quickly.

Village Trustees Monday night approved an ordinance that will allow the police department to create a list of qualified candidates who would be eligible to be transferred from other police departments to fill vacancies in its own police force.

This list would be separate from the Police and Fire Commission list of eligible new candidates who have not had police experience and must go to the police academy for training once hired.

To be eligible for lateral transfer, candidates would have to be certified police officers with at least two years of full-time experience as a police officer, and be in good standing with their current department, according to the ordinance.

Police Chief Bob Sterba would be able to recommend any eligible candidate from the list to the Fire and Police Commission to fill vacancies.

“[T]he nice thing about hiring laterally is that you’ve got somebody who already comes with certifications, they’ve already seen if they like the job, they’ve had the opportunity to be out there and see if they are good at the job ... and public safety is too critical to not have this option,” said Mayor Tim Baldermann.

According to Sterba, due to some police officers retiring and others leaving to pursue careers elsewhere, his force is down six officers.

With the new policy in hand and advertising starting immediately, as well as its ongoing process of hiring and training new recruits, Sterba said he hopes to have those vacancies filled by the end of the year.

Lateral hires, like new recruits, will be subject to extensive background checks, an oral exam, and medical and psychological evaluations.

However, new recruits must also take a written exam and are sent to the police academy for 14 weeks of training, and then partnered with a field training officer for another 12 weeks, according to Deputy Chief Louis Alessandrini.

The village could save about $20,000 with each lateral hire, including the $6,500 cost of academy training and the salary paid to the recruit during that time, Alessandrini said.

The field training period for lateral transfers would be about eight weeks, he said.

Fate of the old Metra Station?

Baldermann Monday night wanted to set the record straight about the fate of the current Metra station once a new one is built next year in a new location slightly east of its present location on Route 30.

Recent activity on social media has indicated that some residents want to see the more-than-century-old station left in its current spot as a historical site, according to Baldermann.

However, the Metra Station does not have historical landmark status and it is the property of Metra, not the village, he said.

Metra will consider allowing the New Lenox Area Historical Society to acquire and relocate it, if it chooses to do so, as it did with Schmuhl School, he said.

Furthermore, the station is in a state of disrepair, which is why the village is paying to have a new, larger one built.

“[We] as elected officials and some who are riders over the many years have heard that we have the train station in the worst repair along the entire line ... [Riders] are embarrassed by it,” Baldermann said.

The village approved engineering contracts for the proposed $4 million train station last May. Construction is expected to start next year with the station expected to be open for use by next winter, Baldermann said.

Romeoville students receive college acceptance letters via drone

Plainfield News - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 16:08
ROMEOVILLE - As if receiving a college acceptance letter was not a big enough of a deal, students at Romeoville High School received their acceptance letters from Lewis University in style.

They came via drone technology.

Eight Romeoville seniors were the first students to get their letters delivered in such fashion on Monday. The drone aircraft took off from Lewis University and dropped off the box of letters at the high school's football stadium.

Representatives from the high school including Principal Derek Kinder, Lewis University President David Livingston and the Village of Romeoville Mayor John Noak were in attendance for a ceremony to honor the students.

Lewis's mascot, Bedcheck Charlie, took the box and handed it off to Livingston for him to give to the students.

The eight seniors Livingston delivered the letters to were Yamilette Arias, Abbey Brand, Abigail Diaz, Ryan Dabrowski, Daniel Gal, Jeremy Kinsley, Ashely Pitt and Malik Tifah.

New Romeoville BBQ place to open Saturday

Plainfield News - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 16:07
Romeoville residents will soon be able to get a taste of a true central Texas barbecue.

Doc Watson's Smokehouse is set to open on Saturday.

The restaurant owner Chris Kawa said the place is named after his Uncle Doc, who was from Kentucky.

"My uncle told me that the key to good barbecue is to cook it low and slow," Kawa said.

Kawa learned from his uncle and from traveling to smokehouses in Dallas, Texas. He employs the same technique for his smoke meats.

Doc Watson's Smokehouse will have six menu items available every day including brisket, chicken, baby back ribs, pulled pork, turkey legs and smoked sausage. They'll have specialty items for each day, which will include options like beef ribs, pork chops, wings and burnt ends.

He's in the process of applying for a liquor license, which should come in the next month, so he can serve craft and domestic beer and wine. They will also add a patio next spring for outside seating.

It will be open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. until sold out. It will be closed on Mondays and Tuesday.

Doc Watson's Smokehouse is located at 444 North Weber Road in Romeoville.

Get a Quote, Make a Difference With Liberty Mutual

Real Estate News - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 15:47

NAR PULSE—When you get a quote on home or auto insurance from Liberty Mutual, a REALTOR Benefits® Program Partner, they’ll donate $5 to NAR’s REALTORS® Relief Foundation to support survivors of disasters across America. Find out how you can save hundreds on your insurance coverage and give much-needed help to others. Offer is valid until Nov. 30, 2017. Save and support today!

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In just one year, over 800,000 REALTORS® saved a combined $59 million by taking advantage of at least one offering through NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® Program. Learn how you can save this year with industry-leading companies, including FCA US LLC (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), Placester, FedEx, DocuSign and more. Learn more.

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Report: American Dream Incomplete Without Homeownership, Parties Say

Real Estate News - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 15:44

In the country’s currently divisive environment, Democrats and Republicans agree on at least one American hallmark: homeownership.

Approximately 65 percent of Democrats and roughly 68 percent of Republicans surveyed for the Zillow® Housing Aspirations Report believe the American Dream is not complete without homeownership. According to the report, both parties believe homeownership is ideal for community relationships and raising a family, and promotes quality of life. Both also believe it “increases standing in the local community” and is “key to a higher social status.”

Additionally, both sides believe they can afford their home for as long as they would like to live in it (91 percent of Republicans and 89.6 percent of Democrats), even as prices reach—and, in some areas, shatter—records. According to the latest Zillow Real Estate Market Report, home prices increased 6.9 percent year-over-year.

The ability to afford their current home for the long term, however, means more are staying put. Forty percent of Democrat and Republican respondents on the West Coast—containing double-digit growth in many markets—do not plan to buy a home for at least five years, if at all, the report reveals.

“In a time of political division, these survey results remind us of something most Americans share: the sense that owning a home is a big part of living the American Dream,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “Homeownership—and its ability to create wealth, stability, and community—doesn’t depend on political affiliation. As we debate the national and local politics surrounding affordability and tax reform, it’s worthwhile to pause and remember a value most of us can agree on.”

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2017 REBAC Hall of Famers Share Their Secrets to Continued Success

Real Estate News - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 15:42

Today, the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) boasts nearly 30,000 members and over 25,000 Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designees.

As the industry continues to grow and flourish, REBAC singles out certain members performing exemplary acts who deserve special recognition. These outstanding ABR® designees are selected by an independent panel for inclusion in the REBAC Hall of Fame.

This year’s Hall of Fame inductees include Todd Beckstrom of ERA Wilder Realty, Inc., in Chapin S.C.; William Bodouva of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Port Washington, N.Y.; and Peggy Worcester of Weichert REALTORS® in Clarksville, Tenn.

How exactly did the latest batch of REBAC Hall of Famers elevate themselves to be the best buyer’s reps in their respective markets? Here, learn what the trio does differently to consistently keep their name and brand top of mind.

“Flexibility is crucial,” says Worcester, who works in a military market where buyers don’t have a great deal of time to view homes. “We have to be sensitive to their needs and schedule,” she adds.

Quite often Worcester will receive a phone call bright and early on any given Monday saying that her newest buyers are coming to town for the weekend…and plan to return to duty the following Monday having purchased a home.

On the other hand, Beckstrom says he starts every relationship with a mandatory buyer consultation where he’s asking a lot of questions—his favorite coming from a colleague he worked with many years ago.

“She would answer the phone and establish rapport with the caller, and then I’d hear: ‘Tell me about your situation.’ I think you get so much more honesty and information with this one inquiry,” says Beckstrom, who focuses on determining the client’s ‘why’ during buyer consultations. “Getting to ‘why’ is important because it allows me to truly understand their motivation and keep them focused.”

But Beckstrom doesn’t just educate his buyers. In fact, he wrote a patented algorithm to help his clients analyze any market segment anywhere in the world for supply and demand.

“The program takes 15 minutes to run, and my buyer becomes an instant expert on market conditions. They understand what it will take to buy the type of house they want after using my program at,” says Beckstrom.

Bodouva earned his International President’s Elite Award (given to the top 2 percent of all sales associates/representatives worldwide in the Coldwell Banker System) with a well-practiced system that consistently elevates him to best-in-class status among his market’s buyer’s representatives.

“I try to remain current with all the things that can and do affect real estate markets so I can offer accurate and relevant information, always being careful not to overstep my role as a broker,” says Bodouva. “Then, I read, learn, read more and share. By sharing my professional knowledge without a self-serving agenda, my professional reputation continues to grow year after year.”

The REBAC Hall of Famer also networks in many professional associations, carefully monitoring the ever-changing needs of buyers and sellers alike.

To that end, he’s working on a program where international buyers relocating to the U.S. can reach a qualified Accredited Buyer’s Representative to assist them with both their purchase and move.

While it could take years to implement such a program in his home state of New York, Bodouva confidently pledges that he’s on it.

When it comes to differentiating themselves among peers and colleagues, this year’s REBAC Hall of Famers each recounted specific practices they developed to shine brighter in their markets.

“I stay on top of every step in the transaction,” says Worcester. “You need to have great organizational skills and systems to serve buyers, because nothing should be left to chance.”

Since a large amount of first-time homebuyers are constantly hitting her market, Worcester accounts for the time it takes to help each prospect become better educated about the home-buying process.

“Listening is the most important thing when working with buyers,” she says. “Many agents are good at talking, but not listening. When working with buyers, you have to learn to remain quiet and listen to what they’re really telling you. This leads to a better experience for buyers, less wasted time and a better transaction.”

Beckstrom helps buyers understand that his time is ultimately of greatest value to them from the get-go.

“If buyers want my time, they have to play by my rules. All appointments begin in my office. And to see homes, they must hire me as their agent and be pre-qualified for financing. I not only focus on helping clients reach their goals, but also removing their stress by taking as much off their plates as possible so they can concentrate on the joy of buying.”

After the sale has been completed, Beckstrom touches base by phone every quarter, in addition to sending emails, mailers of value, and more.

Because of his practiced follow-up, more than nine out of 10 new clients come through referrals every year.

Bodouva believes most agencies discourage agents from venturing into the realm of buyer representation due to “vicarious liability.” This just spells more opportunity for credentialed buyer’s agents.

“Buyer representation is the most natural, misunderstood concept in New York real estate,” he observes.

When it comes to leveraging his ABR® designation, Beckstrom’s initial motivation was to show potential clients that he was capable.

“But I soon found that what I learned in the course is what made me the professional—not the designation,” he says. “I still use the lessons I learned over 15 years ago on a daily basis, and love teaching them to other agents as an ABR® instructor.”

Worcester proudly displays her ABR® designation on her business cards, name badge and email signature.

“I also take the time to talk about it during my buyer consultation,” she adds. “I explain how the additional education gives me the knowledge to better aid them in finding their dream home.”

By building an added layer of trust in knowing about Worcester’s ABR® designation, her clients recognize and appreciate that she goes above and beyond to be a better buyer’s agent.

“I really am proud to have my ABR® designation,” says Worcester. “Not every agent has taken the time to earn it, so it sets me apart.”

Bodouva educates his clients about the stringent criteria he had to complete to proudly earn and promote himself as an ABR® designee, and the many ongoing administrative costs and responsibilities he has to maintain to promote himself as such.

“I make it very clear through positive informational comparisons that ABR® is the benchmark of buyer representation,” he says.

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Oesterle: Queen of Hearts about more than just a big payout

Plainfield News - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 15:41
As I walked to the door of the Morris VFW Post 2049 for the Queen of Hearts drawing Monday night, I was not surprised to see the parking lot full of cars and trucks.

After all, that's been the case more often than not for that lot in the last few months. So much so that the VFW changed the times it sells tickets for its drawing, so as to not disrupt the school buses that serve the surrounding neighborhoods.

I was surprised, though, when I entered the room.

What has been in the past a shoulder-to-shoulder event suddenly had the attendance of a WNBA game. Maybe it was due to the fact that the winner doesn't need to be present in order to claim the prize, or maybe the pot of $785,166 wasn't quite exciting enough. Not after all the hubub of the $1.6 million pot.

There wasn't a big winner Monday night, as the ticket drawn uncovered the jack of diamonds. In order to win the big prize, the ticket drawn must uncover the queen of hearts.

But, since this is a new game, there are still other sizeable prizes to be had. If either of the two jokers or the other three queens are uncovered, that lucky person would win five percent of the pot, which this week amounted to $39,258, not a bad return on a $5 investment. Heck, just getting your name drawn wins $50, no matter what card your number uncovers.

It makes more sense to play early in the game than to wait until the pot increases. There are six cards that can net the winner at least a five-figure payday. I don't know about you, but that would make a big difference to me.

But know that next week's pot of $807,461 isn't what you would walk away with. You would get 70 percent of that, before taxes. Fifteen percent goes to start the next game, and the other 15 percent goes to the VFW.

And, the VFW has been putting its money from the last pot to good use. Already, they have purchased a new sign, a new awning for the building, new siding and security cameras, the parking lot and roof have been resealed and the inside is being remodeled. That's plenty of good done for the veterans.

But, the VFW hasn't stopped there.

This Saturday, they will be taking Thanksgiving baskets to 8-10 needy vets and their families. Each basket will contain $200-300 worth of food for a holiday dinner that these families otherwise wouldn't' be able to afford. I can't see much better use of the money.

So, the next time you drive past the VFW, think about heading in to buy a ticket or two in the Queen of Hearts drawing. The odds are against you winning the pot, but the odds are 100 percent that some of your money is going to a good cause.

• Rob Oesterle is the senior sports writer for the Morris Herald-News. He can be reached at

Jeff Sessions says he has 'no reason to doubt' Roy Moore accusers

Plainfield News - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 14:51
WASHINGTON – Attorney General Jeff Sessions voiced no skepticism Tuesday of accounts by women accusing Roy Moore of groping or pursuing romantic relationships with them when they were teens, and hinted the Justice Department might look into allegations against the besieged Republican Alabama Senate candidate.

"I have no reason to doubt these young women," Sessions told a House committee. His words seemed certain to carry heft in Alabama, where he was a long-time GOP senator until becoming President Donald Trump's attorney general this year and remains one of that state's most influential Republican voices.

Answering questions before the House Judiciary Committee, Sessions didn't rule out a federal probe into the charges.

"We will evaluate every case as to whether or not it should be investigated," Sessions said.

His remarks came as House Speaker Paul Ryan joined the growing chorus of Washington Republicans calling on Moore to drop out of the race. Republicans fear damage from two potential outcomes should he remain a candidate: Moore wins and GOP senators are tainted by association with a colleague accused of molesting teen-agers, or he loses the Dec. 12 election to a Democrat.

"These allegations are credible," Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters on Tuesday. "If he cares about the values and people he claims to care about then he should step aside."

Senate Republicans face limited options in trying to force out the former state Supreme Court judge and outspoken Christian conservative, whose name remains on the ballot for the special election against Democrat Doug Jones.

One option they've considered is backing a write-in campaign with another Republican, perhaps Sessions or Sen. Luther Strange, who Moore defeated in a GOP primary in September. Strange told reporters Monday that a write-in candidacy "is highly unlikely."

Moore is showing no sign of quitting, denying allegations by two women that he molested them and sending out fundraising emails emphasizing his stance as a maverick battling establishment politicians.

In one sent Tuesday, he referred to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as "the forces of evil who are attempting to rip and tear apart me and my campaign with their filthy lies and disgusting attacks."

At an abruptly called news conference Monday in Gallant, Alabama, after a woman surfaced with new allegations, Moore said, "I can tell you without hesitation this is absolutely false. I never did what she said I did. I don't even know the woman."

Moore spoke after a tearful Beverly Young Nelson, now 56, detailed new allegations to reporters in an emotional appearance in New York.

One night when she was 16, Moore offered to drive her home from her after-school job at a restaurant in Gadsden, Alabama, she said. Moore, a regular customer, instead parked behind the restaurant and locked the door to keep her inside, squeezing her neck while trying to push her head toward his crotch and trying to pull her shirt off, Nelson said.

"I thought that he was going to rape me," she said.

Moore stopped and as she left the car he warned no one would believe her because he was a county prosecutor, Nelson said. She said her neck was "black and blue and purple" the next morning.

In Alabama, Jones unveiled a new campaign ad in which state voters, including Republicans, say they can't vote for Moore.

Even before Nelson's news conference, McConnell took a remarkably personal swipe at Moore, based on last week's Washington Post reports of other incidents involving Moore and teen-age girls decades ago.

"I believe the women," said McConnell, marking an intensified effort by leaders to ditch Moore.

Moore fired back at McConnell on Twitter.

"The person who should step aside is @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell. He has failed conservatives and must be replaced. #DrainTheSwamp," Moore wrote.

Cory Gardner of Colorado, who heads the Senate GOP's campaign organization, said if Moore is elected, senators should expel him "because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements" of the Senate.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Moore "should not be a United States senator, no matter what it takes." Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who's not seeking re-election after criticizing Trump, said he'd "vote for the Democrat" if he had to choose between Moore and Democrat Jones.

Last week, The Washington Post reported that in 1979 when he was 32, Moore had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl and pursued romantic relationships with three other teenage girls around the same period. The women made their allegations on the record and the Post cited two dozen other sources.

Moore denied last week molesting the 14-year-old but didn't flatly deny he'd dated teenagers, saying in an interview with conservative talk show host Sean Hannity, "It would have been out of my customary behavior."

Nelson said that before the alleged incident that Moore signed her yearbook. A copy of her statement at the news conference included a picture of what she said was his signature and a message saying, "To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say, 'Merry Christmas.'"

The tumult comes with Republicans holding a scant 52-48 Senate majority as the GOP rushes to push a massive tax cut through Congress by Christmas.

Donald Trump Jr.'s WikiLeaks exchange adds intrigue to Russia probe

Plainfield News - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 14:32
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's oldest son released a series of private Twitter exchanges between himself and WikiLeaks during and after the 2016 election, including pleas from the website to publicize its leaks.

Donald Trump Jr.'s release of the messages on Twitter came hours after The Atlantic first reported them Monday. In the exchanges — some of them around the time that the website was releasing the stolen emails from Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman — WikiLeaks praises his father's positive comments about WikiLeaks and asks Trump Jr. to release his father's tax returns to the site.

The revelations are sure to increase calls in Congress to have Trump Jr. testify publicly as part of several committee probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election. And they add a new element to the investigations that have been probing for months whether Trump's campaign colluded in any way with the Russian government.

In an intelligence assessment released last January, the NSA, CIA and FBI concluded that Russian military intelligence provided hacked information from the DNC and "senior Democratic officials" to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has denied that Russia was the source of emails it released, including those from Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The private messages released by Trump Jr. show him responding to the WikiLeaks account three times, at one point agreeing to "ask around" about a political action committee WikiLeaks had mentioned. He also asked the site about a rumor about an upcoming leak. The messages began in September 2016 and ran through July.

Trump Jr. downplayed the exchanges as he released them.

"Here is the entire chain of messages with @wikileaks (with my whopping 3 responses) which one of the congressional committees has chosen to selectively leak," he tweeted. "How ironic!"

Trump Jr.'s lawyers had released the exchanges to three congressional committees that have been investigating Russian intervention in the 2016 election and whether there were any links to Trump's campaign.

In a statement, Trump Jr.'s lawyer said thousands of documents had been turned over to the committees.

"Putting aside the question as to why or by whom such documents, provided to Congress under promises of confidentiality, have been selectively leaked, we can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum," said Alan Futerfas.

Futerfas didn't say which forum he was referring to, but Trump Jr. was interviewed behind closed doors by Senate Judiciary Committee staff in September. A person familiar with that meeting said the private Twitter messages were discussed. The person declined to be identified because the transcript of that interview hasn't been made public.

In one message dated Oct. 3, 2016, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent Trump Jr. an article that included critical comments Clinton had made about WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange and said "it'd be great if you guys could comment on/push this story."

Trump Jr. replied: "Already did that earlier today. It's amazing what she can get away with."

Two minutes later, Trump Jr. sent another message: "What's behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?"

Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone had tweeted the day before that on Wednesday, "Hillary Clinton is done," referencing WikiLeaks.

The WikiLeaks Twitter account never responded, but days later WikiLeaks started rolling out Podesta's stolen emails. After the emails were released, WikiLeaks sent Trump Jr. a searchable link of the emails. Trump Jr. tweeted that link two days later, on Oct. 14, 2016, The Atlantic noted.

The rest of the messages are one-sided, with WikiLeaks sending Trump Jr. messages through July 2017. They include praise for his father for mentioning them on the campaign trail, a plea to release Trump's taxes to the site and advice on Election Day that Trump should not concede if he lost. One message suggested Trump encourage Australia to appoint Assange as U.S. ambassador.

In July, the Twitter account messaged Trump Jr. to ask him to give the site emails surrounding a meeting he and other Trump associates held with Russians during the campaign. Trump Jr. then released them himself.

Vice President Mike Pence responded quickly to the revelations, issuing a statement through his press secretary that he knew nothing about the situation.

"The vice president was never aware of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with WikiLeaks," said spokeswoman Alyssa Farah. "He first learned of this news from a published report earlier tonight."

Assange tweeted after The Atlantic report that he couldn't confirm the messages but then defended them after Trump Jr. released them.

"WikiLeaks appears to beguile some people into transparency by convincing them that it is in their interest," Assange tweeted.

On Tuesday, former WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said he never met anyone in the Trump campaign. Hrafnsson said he could not say whether anyone else on WikiLeaks' team had met with Trump staffers, noting that he stepped away from his full time role with the organization in early 2016, before Trump became the Republican nominee.

Democrats swiftly reacted to the report, saying Trump Jr. should provide more information. California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, says it "demonstrates once again a willingness by the highest levels of the Trump campaign to accept foreign assistance."

Schiff also pointed to Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for Trump's campaign and reached out to WikiLeaks before the election about obtaining emails related to Clinton, according to the company's CEO.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the panel should subpoena the documents and force Trump Jr. to publicly testify.

"There seems to be no reasonable explanation for these messages," Blumenthal said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley had said he would call Trump Jr. to publicly testify after the private interview in September. But negotiations over witnesses broke down last month amid disagreements with Democrats on the panel.

The House and Senate intelligence committees are also expecting to interview Trump Jr., but those interviews are expected to be behind closed doors.

Go ahead, Republicans. Tax college sports.

Chicago Real Estate - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 14:00
Did you know a football booster can deduct the cost of a 50-yard-line seat? Please, Congress, end that abuse.

Dan Webb downplays feds' request for Outcome Health docs

Chicago Real Estate - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 13:54
The former U.S. attorney was hoping to avoid word leaking out. Fat chance of that.

U of C study gives charter high schools a performance edge

Chicago Real Estate - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 13:00

Do charter schools really perform better than regular, non-selective public schools, particularly in the crucial high school years?

Researchers have been battling over that for years, and now

5 reasons not to tax university endowments

Chicago Real Estate - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 13:00
It's unprincipled. It's counterproductive. Republicans, come to your senses!

Senate GOP tax bill would repeal Obamacare's individual mandate

Chicago Real Estate - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 12:43
The news led major health care groups—including Chicago's Blue Cross & Blue Shield Assn. and the American Medical Association—to urge congressional leaders to maintain the mandate.

Wilmette mansion sells for $7.5 million, tying year's highest price

Chicago Real Estate - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 11:50
But the home went for $1.5 million less than the last time it sold, in 2008.

Portillo's expands delivery through DoorDash

Chicago Real Estate - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 11:26
The new service will be available at nearly all the chain's locations nationwide.

Workers make emergency repairs to I-55 bridge near Channahon

Plainfield News - Tue, 11/14/2017 - 11:09
CHANNAHON – The Illinois Department of Transportation announced Monday that workers were making emergency repairs to an Interstate 55 bridge near Channahon.

Traffic was down to at least one lane Monday on southbound I-55 roughly three miles south of Arsenal Road near Channahon, according to a news release from IDOT.

The structure that carries I-55 over the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad and Grant Creek was undergoing emergency bridge deck, or road surface, repairs.

The repairs were expected to be completed Monday night, but lane closures were in place through the evening rush hour.

IDOT predicted delays and urged motorists to allow extra time for trips on the interstate.


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