Lester: Roskam won't say where he stood on ethics vote

Alex Warshawsky of Palatine says he was "insistent" in seeking an answer from U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam's office on where the congressman stood on declawing the House Office of Congressional Ethics, but aides would not tell him how Roskam voted.

"Some pretended they didn't know what I was talking about. Others flat out didn't answer my questions," said Warshawsky, a constituent of Roskam's 6th Congressional District.

I had a similar experience trying to get an answer in several conversations with Roskam staffers after Politico reported Roskam spoke to the Republican caucus in favoring of weakening the office.

The 119 to 74 vote during a closed-door Monday night GOP conference meeting would have placed the committee under the direct oversight of the House Ethics Committee, stripped the office of a spokesman and prevented its ability to investigate anonymous tips or refer criminal wrongdoing to prosecutors on its own.

<h3 class="leadin">Once investigated

The office, which was formed in 2008, had initiated a probe in recent years into whether Roskam had improperly accepted a trip to Taiwan for his wife, Elizabeth, as a gift in 2011. One of the Roskams' daughters was living in Taiwan at the time. The case was later dropped, and Roskam has denied any improper behavior.

The vote on the House Office of Congressional Ethics is moot for now after Republicans - following criticism from some in both parties on the issue, including President-elect Donald Trump - reversed course and decided to scrap the changes.

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Timothy Lee Jones, 18, a Bartlett High School senior, was shot and killed Dec. 27 in the second murder in Elgin in 2016.

Heartbreaking goodbyes

Emotional farewells were held Tuesday at Elgin's Philadelphia Holiness Full Gospel Baptist Church for the Elgin teen who was fatally shot just days after his 18th birthday.

Elgin Area School District U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders described a "very emotional visitation" for Timothy Lee Jones, a Bartlett High School senior who was shot in the abdomen Dec. 27 in what police described as an "ongoing dispute."

The suspect, 17-year-old Anton Cross, was charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree murder. He's being held in Kane County's Juvenile Detention facility. Jones' death was the second murder for the city of Elgin in 2016.

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has appointed John Keller as chief of staff, her fourth in 16 months.

Revolving door

John Keller's been named Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's new chief of staff, the fourth for Preckwinkle in the last 16 months.

Keller previously ran Chicago Democratic state Rep. Christian Mitchell's campaign and also worked for Democratic former Gov. Pat Quinn.

He most recently served as Preckwinkle's director of external affairs. In a statement, Preckwinkle said Keller has "a demonstrated ability to work well across the county's vast landscape of responsibilities" noting his recent work on the 2017 budget, which she called "balanced and fiscally responsible."

Keller replaces Brian Hamer, who was appointed in March and resigned Friday.

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Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg will receive the Order of Lincoln from the state. Associated Press/2007

Order of Lincoln

Former Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg and Wheaton businessman Samuel Knox Skinner are among this year's recipients of the state's highest honor, the Order of Lincoln Awards, GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner announced this week.

Skinner served as the U.S. secretary of transportation and chief of staff under President George H.W. Bush, where he guided the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act into law, creating a new structure for the country's transportation planning and funding. He also was president of ComEd and president and CEO of transportation and logistics company USF Corp.

<h3 class="leadin">Mouths of babes

"For swearing in, what bad words do you have to say?" That was the question new 8th District congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi tells me his 7-year-old son, Vikram, posed to him before the installation of the 115th Congress Tuesday. Months ago, the boy also had offered to give his father some advice on running for office, noting he himself was "pretty fast."

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The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, speaks to thousands during his "I Have a Dream" speech on Aug. 28, 1963, in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Associated Press File Photo

In King's honor

"Bad Feminist" author Roxane Gay will address North Central College in Naperville Jan. 17 as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. week celebration.

"Bad Feminist," a collection of essays about modern feminism, is one of a number of works in which Gay has worked to raise the profiles of writers of color. Tickets for the 7 p.m. talk, free to the North Central community and $5 for the public, can be obtained at the door at the school's Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave.

King Week originated after the civil rights leader spoke to North Central students when he visited campus in 1960. Since then, the college has honored his visit each year with a keynote presentation, musical tributes, a prayer breakfast and various activities.

Elgin teen charged with murder of Bartlett High School student

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