• State Comptroller Susana Mendoza

    CHICAGO (AP) - A judge has ruled that Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza must pay lawmakers even though the state doesn't have a budget.

    Cook County Circuit Judge Rodolfo Garcia ruled in favor of Illinois legislators on Thursday, citing a 2014 law passed after then-Gov. Pat Quinn withheld paychecks over pension reform.

    State Comptroller Susana Mendoza said she planned to comply with the order. She also said she would ask her lawyers to appeal the judge's ruling.

    A group of Democratic lawmakers last year filed a lawsuit against then-state Comptroller Leslie Munger. They argued she and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner were holding up legislators' paychecks for political leverage.

    Legislators haven't been paid since June. Several have been vocal about their disdain over not getting paid amid the state's budget impasse.

  • Tyler Caswell

    The attorney for 18-year-old Tyler Caswell of rural Salem has agreed to join his trials related to a shooting at a Salem party in January with a new unlawful possession of a stolen weapon charge filed last week.

    While Defense Attorney Matt Wilzbach didn't contest the motion to join the cases, he did ask for the trial scheduled to start next Monday to be delayed until April 17th. Judge Marc Kelly approved the continuance over the objection of the Special Prosecutor in the case.

    Caswell has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, aggravated battery, aggravated discharge of a firearm and reckless discharge of a firearm as well as a single count of obstruction justice in connection with the shooting of 21-year-old Jacob Joyner of East Bennett and 20-year-old Jacob Hayes of East Lester in Salem during the party. The new charge was filed after police allegedly recovered a gun they believe Caswell had at the same time as the party.

    A final pretrial in the case is set for April 6tgh ahead of the April 17th Jury Trial. Caswell remains in jail in lieu of a half-million dollars bond.

  • A 32-year-old Mt. Vernon man has been convicted by a Jefferson County Jury on charges of a Class X offense of armed habitual criminal as well as unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon and unlawful possession of a defaced firearm.

    The jury deliberated about 90 minutes before handing down the decision against Joevon Taylor of Castleton Avenue. A pre-sentence investigation will now be completed with a status hearing set for May 2nd. Taylor faces a six to 30 year prison term on the Class X offense.

    Taylor was arrested following a foot chase last November 26th after abandoning his car during a chase by Mt. Vernon Police. Police say Taylor abandoned numerous items as he ran. He had a loaded 9MM handgun, currency and cannabis in his possession when eventually taken into custody.

  • BLUE ISLAND, Ill. (AP) - A suburban Chicago teacher has been fired for allegedly bullying a student into standing for the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Eisenhower High School driver's education teacher Vince Ziebarth says he was terminated March 16 after being told he made "inappropriate comments" to a sophomore student.

    Ziebarth told the Daily Southtown that he told the student if he chooses to sit during the Pledge he will not sit in a driver's education vehicle. Ziebarth said he wasn't given a specific reason for his firing, adding he was not under contract, and was not a tenured teacher.

    The student's mother contends Ziebarth violated her son's First Amendment rights.

    School officials have declined to comment on personnel issues involving Ziebarth.

  • SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois nonprofit organization is refurbishing surplus state and federal computers and providing them to at-risk families, people with special needs, seniors and schools.

    State Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez of Leland Grove connected the organization, Computer Banc, with the state's department of Central Management Services. The department manages state and federal surplus property. That includes electronic equipment from Scott Air Force base in Southern Illinois, in addition to the state's surplus inventory.

    Jimenez said Wednesday the partnership means cash-strapped schools and families are receiving computer equipment at a low cost.

    She says "Our children need to be technologically savvy to be able to compete today."