Morning drive podcast, 8-17-11: Garfield Park Conservatory update, President Obama in Illinois, Happy Birthday, Hawaii

August 17, 2011

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Chicago's top headlines, piped straight to your earbuds.

Happy Birthday, Hawaii! On this day in 1959, the Pacific islands became the 50th state in the Union.

ACT scores show that nearly three-quarters of Illinois high school graduates are not prepared for college. Just 23 percent of the graduating class of 2011, both from public and private high schools, met college-readiness standards in English, reading, math and science. Science was the worst. A mere 28 percent of the class scored high enough on the test to predict they would earn a C or high at the college level.

President Obama is in western Illinois today, wrapping up his Midwestern bus tour. He’ll hold town hall meetings in Atkinson and Alpha, Illinois.

Activists lost their fight yesterday to preserve Oak Forest Hospital. A state board approved the plan to close the hospital and replace it with an out-patient center. Patients, unions and community activists managed to stave off the closure twice before. But at Tuesday’s meeting of the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, the county won the day.

The Illinois Department of Revenue informed Northwestern Memorial Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, Edward Hospital in Naperville and Decatur Memorial Hospital in Decatur they could lose their tax-exempt status Tuesday. The board says last year, these hospitals did not provide enough charity care to qualify for the status.

The League of Women Voters of Illinois is asking a federal court to order a big change in the highly political, once-a-decade redistricting process. It's the latest suit tied to Illinois' new boundaries for U.S. House and state legislative districts. The League last year tried to change how Illinois draws the boundaries, but its petition drive to get a proposal on the ballot came up short. Now the group is asking the courts to get involved.

It's been more than six weeks since a hailstorm clobbered Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory on the city's West Side, causing severe damage to the century-old glass house. The staff is still cleaning up and assessing the situation, and it now looks like the damaged parts might not open for another year. WBEZ went to the Conservatory to see how the clean-up process is going.

White Sox are now 3 and a half games back in their division, thanks to a win over the Indians last night. The Cubs lost in Houston last night. They’re further back than Tony Arnold wanted to count.

Weather? It’s going to be nice while you’re in the office today and then rainy when you’re heading home tonight. Have fun with that. 

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