Category Archives: Local TV

Matt Haller, 45, Is First Litigant To Pass Away After Filing A Lawsuit Against Sterigenics: ‘To Think This Company Could Have Literally Been Behind My Death Is Shocking’

CHICAGO (CBS) — He battled cancer and fought to get the word out about a dangerous chemical coming from a plant near his home. Matt Haller lost his fight against cancer, but before he died, he wanted to share a message with CBS 2’s Dave Savini.

Matt and Savini first met in January.

When Savini learned Matt entered Hospice Care last week, he stopped by to say goodbye.

But Matt wanted to go on camera, to do one final interview about his fight and the community he loved.

He spent time with his cousin, reminiscing about what was — years of ski trips that had them flying high, especially Matt, who dominated the slopes, and just a year ago when Matt managed to make one more guys’ trip to Utah even after starting chemo treatment for stomach cancer.

“The barrel is empty, and there’s not much left,” Matt said. “But I’m going to fight, and I’m going to fight, and I’m going to fight.”

In pictures of Matt before cancer ravaged him, he is full of life and thinking about his future.

In pictures of Matt before cancer ravaged him, he is full of life and thinking about his future.

“I’m down to a hundred pounds,” he told Savini. “I’ve lost almost a hundred pounds.”

When Savini first met Matt in January, he was undergoing chemotherapy. He wanted to speak out because he was concerned his cancer may have been caused by ethylene oxide from the medical supply sterilization company, Sterigenics.

“To think this company could have literally been behind my death is shocking,” he said. “It’s utterly shocking.”

Matt fought for more government oversight into ethylene oxide emissions while he struggled to live longer and create a few more memories with his wife, Colleen, and son, Cullen.

“My son is four years old, and you really wonder, is he going to remember me?” Matt said. “I’m not going to be able to teach him to play hockey. So much loss, you know, when you look forward, you just see loss.”

Two months after that interview, he wanted to do one more final interview even though he knew it was hard to see him this way. Though his body was failing, his spirit was full, and his mind was clear.

He said nurses were just trying to keep him comfortable.

“Now it’s all about easing into, you know, the unknown,” he said.

Questions about Matt’s illness and links to to ethylene oxide, in part, date back 35 years.

The CBS 2 Investigators obtained a 1984 letter written by the Illinois EPA. It warns the company’s predecessor, Griffith Laboratories, of cancer dangers associated with ethylene oxide, listing cancers of the pancreas, bladder, brain, central nervous system and stomach.

“Everything needs to be uncovered here. Everything needs to be uncovered,” Matt said.

He shared his story hoping someone would listen and investigate the cancer cases in his community, Willowbrook, where he lived for nine years.

“Well, my fight has become all about whistleblowers,” he said.

He wants more whistleblowers to come forward like two former Sterigenics employees, who spoke exclusively to CBS 2, claiming the EPA did not know the actual amount of ethylene oxide released by the company.

One of the former employees told CBS 2 he believes the company was sending way more out the stacks and vents and out the doors than was ever reported to the EPA. “Definitely,” he said.

“It’s hard because I worked there. It’s hard to sleep at night,” the other former employee said.

Matt said seeing the whistleblowers come forward “was like a dream come true.”

“I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “It’s what it’s all about for me now. Whistleblowers, whistleblowers, come forward. Tell your story. Tell us what you know, and let’s fight. Let’s fight this for the community. Please.”

Matt speaking out earlier this year prompted a third former Sterigenics worker to come forward.

“I feel bad like when I found out about the one who’s dying of cancer, and he’s leaving his four-year-old son. That hurt me the most,” Mike Morales said.

Morales spoke about gas leaks at the facility.

“The chambers would run different cycles,” he said. “They would leak gas a lot of times, I swear to God.”

Morales speaking deeply touch Matt.

“Thank you for that whistleblower that came forward because you made a real difference,” Matt said.

He hopes more will come forward, too.

“God forbid if they’re doing what they say, what we understand they’re doing, and they’re poisoning this community, then they need to pay. And I don’t mean monetarily. People should be going to jail,” Matt said.

Last month, the state EPA put a seal order on the company, preventing it from using ethylene oxide.

“I was exuberant,” Matt said. “I couldn’t have been happier.”

As Savini and Matt said goodbye to each other, Matt wanted to remind Savini of others who are sick.

And as lawsuits have been filed by community members, he wanted to express his concern about ethylene oxide possibly causing cancers in the community.

He wanted to remember people like Katherine Howard, who has stomach cancer; Jana Conev and Jeanne Hochhalter, who have breast cancer; Petko Conev, who has bladder cancer; and Julian Glick, who has leukemia.

Matt wanted to push for answers to continue.

“They’re going to fight to open again, so we have to continue to fight,” Matt said of Sterigenics.

Sterigenics has denied claims made by the former workers and has said they operate well within regulatory limits.

Last Saturday, a day and a half after Matt and Savini said down together, Matt Haller lost his cancer battle.

This makes him the first litigant to pass away after filing a lawsuit against Sterigenics.

He was 45 years old.

A GoFundMe page has been created to support the Haller family.

 

5-Year-Old Girl Kaitlynn Jeffries Killed In Englewood House Fire

CHICAGO (CBS) — A 5-year-old girl was killed Friday morning, in a house fire in the Englewood neighborhood.

Chicago Fire Department Battalion Chief Thomas Carbonneau said crews received the first call about the fire at 7 a.m. at a two-flat at 58th and May, and firefighters arrived within four minutes, and immediately began a search of the building.

A 5-year-old girl was found dead on a bunk bed in a first-floor bedroom. Relatives identified her as Kaitlynn Jeffries.

“She was deceased, and she was beyond medical help,” Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.

Relatives said Kaitlynn was a kindergartener at Nicholson STEM Academy.

Carbonneau said finding out a child died in the fire was “Very difficult for all our men.”

“It never gets easier. The more you see, the harder it is sometimes,” he said. “We’ll go back, and talk, and go over what went on here, and make sure everyone’s okay to go back to work, and I’m sure they are. The fire department’s a tough team.”

No working smoke detectors were found on the first floor, although one working smoke detector was found on the second floor.

A man who lives in the building said he tried to go back in to get the girl out, but firefighters would not let him go inside.

“With the volume of fire we had, for us to let somebody else in there is endangering them. So the person told us where they thought the child was, and we went there right away,” Carbonneau said. “We can’t let people in the buildings.”

No one else was injured in the fire. Flames spread to a neighboring home before the fire was extinguished.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

R. Kelly’s Attorneys Delay Request For Singer To Go To Dubai For Concerts

CHICAGO (CBS) — R. Kelly’s attorneys on Friday asked a judge to wait to rule on their request to allow the embattled R&B singer to travel to Dubai in April to perform in concerts while he’s free on bond in his sexual abuse case.

Attorney Doug Anton said Kelly’s defense team wants time to provide more information on the concert plans before making their case to Judge Lawrence Flood.

“Although the pickup shows that we usually do in Dubai is something where an out of country talent will come into country, and then do personal appearances, and then book shows, the court requires a little more formality with regard to how we’re going to do that,” Anton said after the hearing. “So we’re going to make sure that we do everything the judge and the state need for us to do to comply with those formalities.”

Flood scheduled the next hearing in the case for May 7, after the planned concerts in Dubai, but lead defense attorney Steve Greenberg said he could ask the judge to schedule another hearing before then once they’ve gathered all the information they need to get a ruling in their favor.

“I want the court to be comfortable in making a decision,” Greenberg said.

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Kelly’s lawyers have said it’s been hard for the singer to find work in the United States since his arrest on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and the earlier broadcast of the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” detailing multiple allegations of sexual and physical abuse.

“Robert needs to be working again,” Anton said.

In addition to the concerts in Dubai, Kelly is hoping to book other concerts in the U.S. and overseas. Anton said the singer has received approximately 150 emails in the past six weeks, with “offers to perform in just every place possible you can think on the planet.”

Greenberg said, although the United Arab Emirates does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., Greenberg said Kelly has no intention of staying in Dubai, and would return to the United States after his concerts. He noted Kelly traveled all over the world while facing child pornography charges more than a decade ago, and never missed a court date in six years while that case was pending. Kelly was acquitted of those charges in 2008.

Kelly’s publicist, Darrell Johnson, said the singer is eager to “prove his innocence.”

“Right now he needs to get back to things he loves; basketball, music. Once he gets past that, he’s ready for trial,” Johnson said.

Greenberg has said Kelly is struggling to pay his legal bills and child support payments. He spent three nights in jail earlier this month after failing to pay more than $161,000 in overdue child support. His friends and family pooled together money to make those payments and get him out of jail.

Kelly has pleaded not guilty to the sexual abuse charges. As a condition of his bond, he was ordered to surrender his passport, and cannot leave Illinois without the judge’s permission.

Greenberg said, because of cancelled concerts in Illinois, being booted by his record label, and the removal of Kelly’s music from several streaming services, the R&B singer has been forced to look at other ways to make money, including traveling to Dubai to perform.

“I’ve never seen anyone who’s got this kind of a storm … whirling around him, and he gets up every day, and he still tries to do music. He shows up for court. He holds his head high,” Greenberg said.

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The alleged abuse goes back 20 years, spanning from 1998 to 2010. Prosecutors have said Kelly sexually abused four females, including three underage girls. Kelly allegedly had a witness make sex tapes of him having sex with one of the victims, a 14-year-old girl.

Allegations of Kelly’s sexual abuse go back decades and have prompted a recent nationwide protest called #MuteRKelly to boycott his music, in the wake of a Lifetime documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,” featuring interviews with the music artist’s alleged accusers.

In 2008, Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges connected to a videotape of him allegedly having sex with an underage girl. It took six years from the time Kelly was charged with the offense to the end of the trial. It took the jury less than a day to deliberate.

Indonesian Airline Cancels $4.9 Billion 737 Order, As Feds Ramp Up Boeing Probe

CHICAGO (CBS) — Indonesia’s national airline is canceling a $4.9 billion order for Boeing 737 Max aircraft, after two deadly crashes involving the planes in five months; and Boeing is promising changes as investigations into the company ramp up.

Sources tell CBS News the Justice Department’s fraud unit subpoenaed documents, records, and data concerning the approval process for the 737 Max aircraft.

“If there is any kind of documentation that indicates that they knew there was a problem, and either didn’t resolve to the satisfaction of the FAA or didn’t reveal that, that could put them in jeopardy in terms of a possible criminal violation,” said former FBI executive David Gomez.

PT Garuda Indoesia had ordered 50 Max 8 jets in 2014, and received the first plane from the order last year, but is requesting to cancel the order, citing a loss of confidence.

“Passengers always ask what type of plane they will fly as they have lost trust and confidence in the Max 8 jet,” Garuda spokesman Ikhsan Rosan told The Associated Press, “This would harm our business.”

Garuda is the first airline to announce a cancellation of 737 Max planes since the new model jets were grounded over fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Garuda joined other airlines worldwide in grounding its one Max 8 jet after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight this month which killed all 157 people aboard. It came less than five months after 189 people died in the Oct. 29 crash of another Max 8, operated by Indonesian private carrier Lion Air.

Rosan said that Garuda plans to meet with Boeing representatives next week in Jakarta to discuss details of cancelling the order.

“We don’t want to use Max jets … but maybe will consider switching it with another Boeing model of plane,” Rosan said. He said Indonesian passengers are afraid to take flights using any Max model, whether it’s the 8, 9 or 10 series.

The Ethiopian Airlines crash earlier this month and the Lion Air disaster off Indonesia in October killed 346 people combined. Both planes crashed minutes after takeoff.

Preliminary flight data indicates the jets struggled to gain altitude, and published reports reveal a safety assessment Boeing gave the FAA appeared to downplay the operation of the planes’ anti-stall systems. In the Lion Air flight, it’s believed the anti-stall system repeatedly pushed the plane’s nose down before the crash.

Boeing said it will add a warning system that alerts pilots to a sensor failure on the 737 Max. It had been offered as an $80,000 option, but it appears neither plane that crashed was equipped with the warning system.

“Most likely it was a connection between technology that may be new, and training that might not have been ready yet either, and crew procedures and airline procedures that also might have been a mistake” said aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia.

Ethiopian Airlines is defending its pilots after the New York Times reported they weren’t properly trained on the 737 Max aircraft. The airline said its pilots went through all the training required by Boeing and the FAA to fly the Max 8.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

CPS Demands Answers About Questionable Spending By Chicago Virtual Charter School,

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools officials are asking serious questions of Chicago Virtual Charter School, following a CBS 2 investigation of mass turnover, dysfunction, and questionable finances.

The district sent a list of demands to Chicago Virtual Charter School (CVCS), including details of travel costs paid for an administrator who lives in Atlanta and a pay raise for CEO Dr. Cheryl Pruitt.

Pruitt saw her salary bum up $26,000 to $176,000 while the school was on financial probation for not meeting CPS accountability requirements.

“I didn’t get a large raise, and that’s something to be discussed with the board,” Pruitt said last week.

Now, CPS wants to know why she received that raise while the school was on financial probation, sending a letter to the CVCS board president, citing “allegations made by CBS Chicago of questionable spending.”

School district leaders also are curious about calculations that CVCS reimbursed director of strategy Angela Richardson-Bryant $3,752 to fly between Chicago and her home in Atlanta.

Those flights were first paid for when Richardson-Bryant was the school’s board president, a volunteer position. CVCS then promoted her to director of strategy, knowing she lived out of state. Her travel costs were accompanied by a $135,000 salary.

Richardson-Bryant was not happy CBS 2 tracked her down outside last week’s board meeting. She claimed the report on her travel expenses “lacks integrity.”

“Journalistic integrity is lacking,” she said.

CPS apparently didn’t think so, ordering a written response about her reimbursements by next Tuesday.

The district also inquired about pending charges against Pruitt, and wants to know why she was hired at CVCS.

Pruitt made headlines last October, when she was arrested for allegedly double-billing the Gary Community Schools Corp for a three-day trip to a conference in Los Angeles in 2016.

MillerCoors Sues Anheuser-Busch Over Super Bowl Corn Syrup Ad Campaign

CHICAGO (CBS) — Beer giant MillerCoors is suing rival brewer Anheuser-Busch over what the makers of Miller Lite claim is a “false and misleading advertising campaign” that began during this year’s Super Bowl.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Wisconsin, claims Bud Light’s latest “Dilly Dilly” ad campaign featuring a mythical king deceives beer drinkers into believing Miller Lite contains high-fructose corn syrup, by stating Bud Light is made without corn syrup, unlike Miller Lite and Coors Light.

However, the lawsuit states corn syrup is used only as a fermentation aid, and is no longer present in the finished product.

“The yeast breaks down and consumes the corn syrup during the fermentation process, and thus, no corn syrup appears in the finished Miller Lite and Coors Light
beer products,” the lawsuit stated.

Chicago-based MillerCoors also claims its rival conducted extensive focus group testing before creating its ad campaign, and knew consumers don’t understand the difference between ordinary corn syrup used in fermenting many beers, and high-fructose corn syrup used as a sweetener, which many consumers prefer not to ingest.

“Thus, AB plotted an extensive and pervasive advertising scheme designed to frighten consumers into switching away from Miller Lite and Coors Light to Bud Light. And, likely because its focus group studies demonstrated it would work, AB invested an enormous amount of money—over $13 million in media time to
convey the message to nearly 100 million consumers during Super Bowl LIII alone—to perpetuate the consumer confusion,” the lawsuit alleged.

MillerCoors wants a judge to order Anheuser-Busch to stop the ads, and award MillerCoors unspecified damages.

Anheuser-Busch said it stands by its campaign and won’t change it.

Couple Offers $53,000 For Nanny To Dress Up Like Disney Princesses

HERTFORDSHIRE, UK (CBS Local) — Calling all “Disney-mad nannies out there.” We’ve found a job posting for you.

A family in Brooksman Park, a village in Hertfordshire, southeast England, has posted an ad on Childcare.co.uk for a part-time nanny to watch their twin girls during the week with a “slightly unusual request” — you will be dressed as a Disney princess.

“Like most 5-year-olds, our girls are obsessed with Disney and we feel this would be the best way to communicate some important values,” the ad reads. “We know this isn’t a normal request for nannies, however we think it would be a great way to teach our girls about things like determination, compassion, fearlessness and ambition from strong yet relatable female role models like Princess Tiana, Princess Anna, Belle and Cinderella.”

The family is looking for someone who can play a different princess every month and commit to the character. However, they also said the ideal candidate “won’t be afraid to be a disciplinarian if the twins are naughty or act out – they can be little terrors at times!”

In this handout photo provided by Disney Parks, Princess Elena of Avalor, the first Latin-inspired Disney princess, receives a royal welcome during her arrival at Magic Kingdom Park on August 11, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Credit: Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)

The parents are offering to pay $52,500 a year and cover the cost of all Disney princess costumes. The nanny will also receive 25 vacation/holiday days.

“The role involves picking the girls up after school, four days a week, arranging a variety of Disney-related activities (arts and crafts, baking, singing, etc.), cooking dinner and potentially putting them to bed if we’re late home from work,” the ad says.

Candidates must be looking for a long-term job as the couple wants to keep the nanny in their daughters’ lives “for the foreseeable future.”

“The right person will have a real creative flare as well as a passion for all things Disney and will be able to share that love of those characters with our girls.”

Candidates must also have a clean driving record, first aid training and a minimum of two years “in nannying or a similar role.”

Couple Offers $53,000 For Nanny To Dress Up Like Disney Princesses

HERTFORDSHIRE, UK (CBS Local) — Calling all “Disney-mad nannies out there.” We’ve found a job posting for you.

A family in Brooksman Park, a village in Hertfordshire, southeast England, has posted an ad on Childcare.co.uk for a part-time nanny to watch their twin girls during the week with a “slightly unusual request” — you will be dressed as a Disney princess.

“Like most 5-year-olds, our girls are obsessed with Disney and we feel this would be the best way to communicate some important values,” the ad reads. “We know this isn’t a normal request for nannies, however we think it would be a great way to teach our girls about things like determination, compassion, fearlessness and ambition from strong yet relatable female role models like Princess Tiana, Princess Anna, Belle and Cinderella.”

The family is looking for someone who can play a different princess every month and commit to the character. However, they also said the ideal candidate “won’t be afraid to be a disciplinarian if the twins are naughty or act out – they can be little terrors at times!”

In this handout photo provided by Disney Parks, Princess Elena of Avalor, the first Latin-inspired Disney princess, receives a royal welcome during her arrival at Magic Kingdom Park on August 11, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Credit: Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)

The parents are offering to pay $52,500 a year and cover the cost of all Disney princess costumes. The nanny will also receive 25 vacation/holiday days.

“The role involves picking the girls up after school, four days a week, arranging a variety of Disney-related activities (arts and crafts, baking, singing, etc.), cooking dinner and potentially putting them to bed if we’re late home from work,” the ad says.

Candidates must be looking for a long-term job as the couple wants to keep the nanny in their daughters’ lives “for the foreseeable future.”

“The right person will have a real creative flare as well as a passion for all things Disney and will be able to share that love of those characters with our girls.”

Candidates must also have a clean driving record, first aid training and a minimum of two years “in nannying or a similar role.”

Couple Offers $53,000 For Nanny To Dress Up Like Disney Princesses

HERTFORDSHIRE, UK (CBS Local) — Calling all “Disney-mad nannies out there.” We’ve found a job posting for you.

A family in Brooksman Park, a village in Hertfordshire, southeast England, has posted an ad on Childcare.co.uk for a part-time nanny to watch their twin girls during the week with a “slightly unusual request” — you will be dressed as a Disney princess.

“Like most 5-year-olds, our girls are obsessed with Disney and we feel this would be the best way to communicate some important values,” the ad reads. “We know this isn’t a normal request for nannies, however we think it would be a great way to teach our girls about things like determination, compassion, fearlessness and ambition from strong yet relatable female role models like Princess Tiana, Princess Anna, Belle and Cinderella.”

The family is looking for someone who can play a different princess every month and commit to the character. However, they also said the ideal candidate “won’t be afraid to be a disciplinarian if the twins are naughty or act out – they can be little terrors at times!”

In this handout photo provided by Disney Parks, Princess Elena of Avalor, the first Latin-inspired Disney princess, receives a royal welcome during her arrival at Magic Kingdom Park on August 11, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Credit: Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)

The parents are offering to pay $52,500 a year and cover the cost of all Disney princess costumes. The nanny will also receive 25 vacation/holiday days.

“The role involves picking the girls up after school, four days a week, arranging a variety of Disney-related activities (arts and crafts, baking, singing, etc.), cooking dinner and potentially putting them to bed if we’re late home from work,” the ad says.

Candidates must be looking for a long-term job as the couple wants to keep the nanny in their daughters’ lives “for the foreseeable future.”

“The right person will have a real creative flare as well as a passion for all things Disney and will be able to share that love of those characters with our girls.”

Candidates must also have a clean driving record, first aid training and a minimum of two years “in nannying or a similar role.”