Stories by Amanda Vinicky

Inside the World’s Only Button Museum

We visit a Chicago museum that presents history in an unexpected way: as told by buttons.

Early Voting for Illinois Primary Election Less Than a Month Away

The Illinois primary is March 20, but you don’t have to wait until then to cast your ballot.

New Plumbing Promised for Quincy Veterans Home

In the face of mounting criticism over his handling of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a veterans home, Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday promised additional upgrades to the facility.

Official: State’s Response to Legionnaires’ Outbreak ‘Quick,’ ‘Decisive’

Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Jan. 4, 2018 to discuss the state’s opioid epidemic.

Illinois Public Health Director Nirav Shah told lawmakers Tuesday that he’s “proud” of the government’s response to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at a state veterans home in Quincy. But critics say it was a delayed reaction that put veterans at risk.

Obama Presidential Center Parking Garage to Move Underground

The Obama Foundation has given in to criticism, making a change to its plans. The decision comes as the Obama Presidential Center gained new critics: more than 100 University of Chicago faculty members.

The ABCs of Illinois’ New Private School Scholarships, Tax Credit Program

Contributors have pledged $38.5 million so far in 2018 to the state’s new and program, celebrated by advocates of school choice but derided by teachers unions and other critics as a subversion of the public education system.

Food Stamps Restored for 25K in Time for Christmas

The Illinois Department of Human Services announced Thursday that Link cards, which serve as a sort of debit card for food stamps, will be loaded with credit Thursday or Friday. 

How the Federal Tax Overhaul Could Affect You

(Bjoertvedt / Wikimedia Commons)

One change expected to hit individuals in states like Illinois particularly hard: A $10,000 limit on the amount of state and local taxes that can be deducted from your federal taxes. Previously, that deduction was uncapped. 

Why 25K SNAP Recipients Are Suddenly Without Food Stamps

Individuals often drift in and out of the SNAP system intermittently, but the number who suddenly lost benefits spiked last month to 41,000 after recipients apparently missed a Nov. 5 deadline.

Rauner, Berrios Call on Each Other to Resign

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday demanded with heated rhetoric that Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios step down—a call that Berrios, a Democrat, not only refused to heed, but fired back at Rauner.

Holiday Cheer Takes Root at Poinsettia Farm in Woodstock

They appear to be marbled, speckled, dipped and dyed, with names like “Red Glitter” and “Jingle Bell Rock.” We visit a poinsettia farm and learn what it takes to cultivate the crop in time for the holidays.

GOP House Members Call for Action on DACA by End of Year

(Bjoertvedt / Wikimedia Commons)

Thirty-four Republican Congressman, including two from Illinois, sent a letter Tuesday to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan calling for “a permanent legislative solution” for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients before year’s end.

Gov. Rauner Seeking Re-election: ‘I Am Not in Charge’

Gov. Bruce Rauner came into office selling his credentials as a deal-making businessman who could turn Illinois around. But nearly three years into his term, Rauner said he’s “not in charge.”

Fighting the Opioid Epidemic, By Mail

Illinois has a goal of cutting opioid-related deaths by one-third by the year 2020. And at the Chicago International Mailing Facility, the focus is on enhanced cargo screening.

Chris Kennedy, J.B. Pritzker Release Partial Tax Returns

Candidates for Illinois governor Chris Kennedy, left, and J.B. Pritzker appear on “Chicago Tonight” on June 22 and June 15, respectively.

Amid forecasts that Illinois’ race for governor could break national spending records, two Democratic candidates have released information that begins to show just how much money each has to help fund their campaigns.

Cook County Jail Population Down 15 Percent After Bond Reforms

Reforms to Cook County’s bond system have led to a 15-percent decrease in the county’s jail population. “Our judges are in fact not setting bonds higher than people can afford,” said Chief Judge Tim Evans.

Chuy Garcia Sole Cook County Commissioner Iffy on Budget

Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) speaks with “Chicago Tonight” in February 2017.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle can expect easy passage of a revised spending plan, though Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia said he hasn’t made up his mind about how he’ll vote.

CTA Fare Hike Could Be on the Way

The Chicago Transit Authority hasn’t raised fares since 2009. Now, the head of the Regional Transit Authority says “the time has come” to change that. 

Lawmakers Band Together for Bipartisan Women’s Caucus

Illinois’ female state senators announce their informal tribe will operate as an official, bipartisan caucus devoted to advancing legislation to empower women. But hours later, the chamber kills a measure on gender pay equity.

Sexual Harassment Training Begins in Springfield

(Jim Bowen / Flickr)

It’s not mandatory by law yet, but Illinois legislators began formal lessons Wednesday on how to conduct themselves without “unwelcome” behavior and contacts that could be perceived by victims as sexual harassment. 

Lawmakers Pass Measures Cracking Down on Sexual Harassment

(Éovart Caçeir at English Wikipedia)

Sexual harassment has been part of the way of life at the Illinois state capital for decades. Lawmakers on Tuesday spent much of the day decrying that culture and approving measures intended to root it out.

State Lawmakers Scramble to Tackle Charges of Sexual Harassment

Legislators return to Springfield on Tuesday for the second half of the annual veto session. Front and center: What’s being done in the capital about sexual harassment. 

Cook County Democrats Back Kwame Raoul for Attorney General

Illinois’ largest county – and the Democrats who run its politics – will work to get state Sen. Kwame Raoul elected as the state’s next attorney general.

Sexual Harassment Allegations Shine Light on Gaps in State Law

(Jim Bowen / Flickr)

As Springfield grapples with allegations of rampant sexual misconduct and harassment, lapses and flaws in the system for dealing with charges of harassment and other unethical behavior are rising to the surface.

Can Custom-Fit Football Helmets Protect Athletes From Brain Trauma?

Football may be America’s favorite sport, but with the rising fear of brain injury and CTE, it’s taken a bruising. We visit a Chicago-area helmet maker to see how it’s tackling the issue.