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If you want your kids to get into an Ivy League school, you might want to read this fascinating story from Fast Company. And btw, my kids call me mom. 

http://www.fastcompany.com/3049289/most-creative-people/use-these-two-words-on-your-college-essay-to-get-into-harvard

Tune into The Scene this week and hear pals and founders of the Downhome Music Festival in Springfield talk about how far their efforts have come over the past 5 years, and what you can expect if you attend this weekend. 

Food-a-rama at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois State Fair will go on next week. That’s even though the budget stalemate has left officials without the means to fully pay for it.

If you go by the book, state government executives aren’t supposed to spend money unless the legislature specifically authorizes it. But the standoff between the Republican governor and Democratic legislative leaders has meant there is no budget.

Nevertheless, state fair leaders say they’ll find a way to make sure the show goes on.

Courtesy of Gwen Harrison

Ted Harrison is proud that his son, Malik, plays football for Eastern Illinois University on a full scholarship. But ask Harrison about his son’s history of concussions, and he’s not sure he knows the exact number. He thinks the first one occurred during an afternoon practice early in Malik’s playing career at Springfield High School.

The Harrisons weren't notified by the coaching staff.

“We were alerted by Malik," Harrison says. 

Philip Nelson
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois officials say the threat of bird flu required limits on poultry at this year’s Illinois State Fair.

This strain of avian influenza entered the U.S. last December. So far it’s infected flocks in all the states surrounding Illinois.

State Department of Agriculture Director Philip Nelson says it’s resulted in 48 million birds either dying or being killed. Because of that, he says bird exhibitions at the state fair will be limited to Illinois birds.

“We’re doing it as a precaution, for the most part just to protect our poultry industry in this state," he says.

University of Illinois

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise says she is resigning over concerns that what she called ``external issues'' involving her are a distraction to the university.  

University President Timothy Killeen said in an announcement Thursday he will appoint an interim chancellor to take over Wise's duties. Her resignation is effective Aug. 12.  

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

A hand-held 8 millimeter movie camera captured flickering images of my first day of preschool several decades ago.  Then came family video cameras, a new innovation when my children were young.  I remember the suitcase-sized Betamax we lugged around to school concerts and baseball games.  Our focus and video quality were lousy, but we did manage to lay down a primitive pictorial record of our children’s early lives.

courtesy of Anna Bussing

It's a story as old as time: Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Tragedy ensues. In modern day, a story like West Side Story, which throws in violence and racial tension for good measure, is just as timely as ever. It's being performed at The Muni for the first time in nearly 15 years, and opens this weekend. (Show times and tickets, here.)

WWW.HOMESPUNREPUBLIC.COM

Back in 2012, I was excited to visit the Vinegar Hill Mall in Springfield and talk with the people who were setting up Donnie's Homespun Pizza.  My report highlighted the fact that unlike the previous Pizza Machine - Homespun wanted to focus on drawing in bands and utilizing the huge stage on the lower level. 

wuis

What will happen if Illinois' largest public employees union and Governor Bruce Rauner can't reach new contract terms? That may depend on the outcome of another battle in Springfield -- this one between Rauner and legislators.

In the past, both sides have had some sort of trump card at their disposal if negotiations broke down: unions members could strike, a governor could "lock" them out. A measure approved by the General Assembly would take away those options, leaving it to an arbitrator.

Should criminals bear the cost of their own rehabilitation?

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

State employees have begun receiving pink slips, as a budget impasse looms -- a total of 171 workers will lose their jobs. Workers have gotten notice that they'll be out of work by the end of September.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

A bipartisan legislative commission has rejected Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal to close two state facilities.  

On a pair of 7-2 votes, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability issued non-binding decisions against shuttering the Illinois State Museum and the Department of Corrections' Hardin County Work Camp in southern Illinois.

IHPA

It takes a lot to upstage Abraham Lincoln.  But if anyone could, it might have been Marilyn Monroe.

The actress visited the small east central Illinois town of Bement, in Piatt County, 60 years ago this week.  Bement is known for being the site where Lincoln and Stephen Douglas met to plan their famous debates.  But in 1955, it was Marilyn's town. 

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Local property taxes would be frozen for two years under a measure approved Tuesday by the Illinois Senate. That's on Gov. Bruce Rauner's wish-list, but Republicans are still against the plan.

After a failed attempt last month, Democratic Senate President John Cullerton shepherded his proposal through.

How much money local governments could ask taxpayers for would be stuck for a couple years -- something Rauner, a Republican, insists happen before he'll negotiate with Democrats on the budget.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS / Illinois Issues

  The governor and Democratic legislators yesterday came to a budget agreement, but only a minor one. A broader stalemate continues.

Anything to do with state spending this year has pretty much been split down party lines. Democrats passed a spending plan, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed almost all of it. That's what has Illinois into its second month without a budget. Then, yesterday, a thaw. Senators -- from both parties -- voted to spend $5 billion dollars, of federal money; the state just serves as a pass through.

John J. Kim, Chicago Tribune

Black mold, crumbling plaster, leaking ceilings, broken stairs... A home with these problems probably doesn't sound like the ideal residence for a multimillionaire like Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. But that's exactly the issues that have cropped up after years of neglect at the Executive Mansion, aka the Governor's Mansion, in Springfield, which is 160 years old. 

Al Riddley
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Non-profit groups say the ongoing fight over the state budget could lead to tragic consequences for thousands of Illinoisans.

The agencies have state contracts for everything from taking care of people with disabilities to placing children in foster care. But the partisan fight over state spending means they're not being paid.

Al Riddley, on the board of the Illinois Partners for Human Service, says the groups are being led on a "death march."

"Perhaps it's time to change our state motto from 'Land of Lincoln' to 'We Don't Care,'" Riddley says.

WUIS

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has asked a full appellate court in Chicago to rehear his appeal after three judges recently overturned five of his 18 corruption convictions.  

The imprisoned Democrat's lawyers filed the request Tuesday with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Chicago Tribune reveals info about new science test required for 5th, 8th and 10th graders this year.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-illinois-science-test-met-20150804-story.html#page=1

On this weeks WUIS/SJR Business Report Bill and Tim talk about Obama's energy announcement and Illinois coal,  a Sangamon County wind farm and an update on local hospital construction.

The University of Illinois’ Urbana campus chancellor and athletic director don’t expect any personnel changes in the women’s basketball program – after a law firm hired by the university found no evidence of racial discrimination or player abuse.

A Chicago firm said the claims of a racially hostile environment… in a lawsuit filed by seven former players… are unsupported.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

A panel of lawmakers will weigh in Wednesday on the planned closure of two state facilities.  But the final decision rests with the governor. 

Courtesy of IBHE

Last anybody heard, Gov. Bruce Rauner wanted to cut higher education spending drastically, by more than 30 percent. But with the budget  stalled in the legislature, colleges have no idea how much money they’ll get.  

James Applegate, director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, says this kind of chaos costs money.

“This is an extremely inefficient way to run a shop,” he says.

 

flickr/dcJohn

A Chicago alderman has proposed a penny per ounce tax on sugary drinks in that city.  There is also an effort to make that happen statewide.

tspr.org

The heavily debated package is a point of contention among the candidates.

While the fight over the state’s budget got most of the attention, lawmakers did approve several bills during the regular legislative session. Democratic leaders put a hold on sending much of the legislation lawmakers approved to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk directly after the spring session ended. But as of press time, all of the bills on this list had been sent to the governor.

As white-nose syndrome continues to spread in Illinois, new research offers promise for combatting the fatal bat disease.

White-nose syndrome is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates it has killed at least 5.7 million to 6.7 million bats since it was first found in New York in 2006.

Social Media Users Press For Governor's Recall With Petitions

Aug 1, 2015
Rauner takes oath
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

A number of recall petitions from people dissatisfied with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner are circulating on social media platforms, but these efforts do not meet the legal requirements for recall in the state.

As of press time, the petition with the most support, posted on thepetitionsite.com, has more than 9,000 signatures with a goal set at 600,000.

Merrill Cole, an English and literature professor at Western Illinois University, added his name to the petition. Cole says he is against the governor’s “entire agenda.” Rauner’s office declined to comment on the petitions.

Rita Crundwell showing a horse
American Quarter Horse Association

Illinois’ male public officials and politicians aren’t the only ones behaving badly. A recent study looked at the cases of 29 Illinois women involved in corrupt acts over a 25-year period.

That’s the number rounded up by graduate student Ryan Ceresola. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale published the study this June.

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