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Political Patronage Allegations
8:23 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Ousted Metra CEO: Madigan's Actions Show "Moral And Ethical Flaw"

Former Metra CEO Alex Clifford
Credit Metra

A former California transit executive tapped to clean up Chicago's scandal-tarnished Metra commuter rail agency says he was pushed out for doing exactly that and resisting pressure from Illinois politicians.
 
Alex Clifford was allowed to speak publicly for the first time Wednesday about his lucrative buyout agreement, which critics have called hush money and a waste of taxpayer funds.
 

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Caterpillar: Policy's Anticompetitive
5:21 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Illinois Business Coalition Calls For Immigration Overhaul

A somewhat unlikely coalition is calling on Illinois' Congressional delegation to support an overhaul of the nation's immigration policy.       

                                                                           

At a Springfield roundtable discussing immigration, Mark Peters, an attorney with Peoria-based Caterpillar, started off his remarks by saying: "This would be a ... a really bad preface to a poor joke about a sheriff, a lawyer and a priest going into a bar..."

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District 186
9:30 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Schools Feed Kids Over Summer Months — For Free

Credit Rachel Otwell/WUIS

District 186 students might be on break, but many are still showing up at schools. Six different schools offer free meals to students during the summer months. In this story we take you to Butler Elementary, where lunch is being served:

Outside of the elementary school, right off of MacArthur Boulevard, kids are swinging, climbing equipment, and bouncing balls — but this isn't recess. They are waiting to be fed.

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Health Desk
8:58 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Diagnosing Disorder: The DSM-5 And A Changing Mental Health Field

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - 5th Edition
Credit http://mghmcleanpsychiatry.partners.org

Over the past decade, scientific research has influenced the way psychiatrists and other clinicians diagnose mental health disorders.

That's according to Dr. Vikki Vandiver  of Portland, Oregon.  The professor and co-editor of the academic journal Best Practices in Mental Health will be in Springfield Thursday, July 18.

Vandiver will speak at a conference for doctors, social workers and other professionals about changes to the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

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Same-Sex Marriage Legislation
7:17 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Gay Rights Advocacy Coalition Picks New Campaign Director

John Kohlhepp
Credit Crain's Chicago Business

WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky speaks with John Kohlhepp, the newly selected Campaign Director for Illinois Unites for Marriage.  The coalition is pouring about $2M into a new push to get same-sex marriage legislation approved in the Illinois House. 

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Election 2014
6:15 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Quinn Suddenly Ready To Talk Politics, Disses Daley

Bill Daley, on the left, is a likely primary challenger for Gov. Pat Quinn, on the right in this stitch of separate photos.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  With Attorney General Lisa Madigan out of the race for Governor,  incumbent Pat Quinn turned his focus to another potential opponent,  Bill Daley.  It's an early indication of the campaign to come.

                                           

Republicans have a somewhat crowded field of four candidates hoping to be Illinois' next Governor.

For now, though, Democrats have only two: former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley and Governor Pat Quinn.

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PCCC
4:45 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Interview: Brian Oaks On Changes For The PCCC

The Prairie Capitol Convention Center in Springfield has hosted some big names when it comes to musicians, like country singer and American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, and the decades-old prog-rock band Kansas. But the center is taking a bit of a hiatus as plans are finalized to make it more appealing to convention-goers and concert-goers alike. Brian Oaks is the general manager of the center, he joins us for this interview about the on-going renovations: 

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Regulation And Retail
11:38 am
Tue July 16, 2013

WUIS / SJ-R Business Report: July 16, 2013

Tim Landis
Credit SJ-R.com

 The State Journal Register's Tim Landis speaks with Peter Gray about the growing market for e-cigarettes and the hazy regulatory environment those products remain in.  Also, the grocery chain Kroger returns to the Springfield area:

Read the latest business stories in the SJ-R

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Corruption
7:47 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Blagojevich's Appeal Not Likely To Succeed, Given Ryan's Failed Attempts

US Marshals photo of Fmr. Gov. Blagojevich on the day of his arrest
Credit wikipedia.org

Rod Blagojevich faces long odds with the appeal of his federal corruption conviction, just as did his predecessor as Illinois governor, George Ryan.
 
Blagojevich's attorney filed an appeal late Monday with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the higher court toss to Blagojevich's convictions or,
at least, to reduce his 14-year prison sentence.
 
Prosecutors have 30 days to file a response to the appeal. Oral arguments before a three-judge panel could be scheduled soon thereafter.
 
Blagojevich is now 56 and in a prison outside Denver.

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Election 2014
8:15 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Lisa Madigan Not Running For Governor

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan testified before a Congressional committee in this 2011 file photo.
Credit flickr.com/jrockefelleriv

After months of speculation that Gov. Pat Quinn would face a primary challenge from Lisa Madigan, the Attorney General announced Monday she would not run for governor.

Madigan says she will seek a fourth term instead of challenging Quinn for the Democratic nomination.

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Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
1:52 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Summer Reading Program Welcomes Lincoln Authors

Three authors will visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield this summer to shed new light on issues ranging from the Civil War, to morality and music. The authors will sign copies of their books and present lectures.

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Drugs & Crime
11:30 am
Mon July 15, 2013

IT's Bruce Rushton Explores 'Epidemic' Of Heroin Abuse

Credit Wikimedia/user: Hendrike

The number of heroin users and associated overdose deaths seems to have gone up in recent years. In Illinois the trend of increased heroin abuse is getting reactions from social service agencies and law enforcement. It's an issue that Bruce Rushton of the Illinois Times recently reported on - he brings us a closer look at his investigation in this interview:

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Health Desk
10:06 am
Mon July 15, 2013

10 Month Old's Fight Calls Attention To Bone Marrow Registry

Credit Photo: WUIS

Lauren and Aaron Smith of Springfield, pictured with their 10 month old son Gabriel, who has a rare form of anemia.  He's required to undergo regular blood transfusions.  Their is hope after a bone marrow donor match was discovered earlier this year.  A transplant is scheduled for this fall .   The couple is wanting to raise awareness of the Bone Marrow Registry and the need to donate blood.  

The next Third Thursday Art Show at Donnie's Homespun will benefit Gabriel.  See more details:

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2014 Election
6:52 am
Mon July 15, 2013

State Sen. Dillard Enters 2014 Race For Governor

State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Westont)
Credit dillard.senategop.org

State Sen. Kirk Dillard is officially announcing his gubernatorial bid for the 2014 election Monday, joining an already crowded field but contending he is the one Republican who can win the general election.

Dillard is the fourth GOP member to announce a challenge to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn since June, joining state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, state Sen. Bill Brady and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner.

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Harvest Desk
6:04 am
Mon July 15, 2013

My Farm Roots: A Lifelong Work Ethic

Amy Konishi has lived in Fort Collins, Colo., her entire life. In the 1980s, a local newspaper profiled her and her husband’s long connection to the area.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

My Farm Roots is a series from Harvest Public Media in which we hear Americans’ stories and memories of rural life. Because when you hail from farm country, roots run deep.
 

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Political Patronage Allegations
5:57 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Metra CEO Memo Reveals More Madigan Involvement

House Speaker Mike Madigan

A memo by the former CEO of the Metra commuter rail service contends that Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan lobbied not only for a pay raise for an associate at the agency, but also sought employment for another person.

The memo by Alex Clifford was cited Thursday at a contentious legislative committee hearing on Clifford's resignation and a $718,000 separation agreement.

Clifford says in the memo that he was told before his ouster that he had damaged Metra and its future funding "by my refusal to accede to Speaker Madigan's requests."

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Arts
1:27 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

'Dreamgirls' At The Muni

Marisa Cook, Fania Bourn, & Kate VonDeBur

Springfield's Muni starts its run of Dreamgirls this weekend - the Broadway production was made especially famous by the movie starring Beyonce back in 2006. The local version features over twenty actors who are brand new to the Muni's stage. We recently spoke with cast members Fania Bourn, Kate VonDeBur, and Marisa Cook for this interview:

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Guns
8:28 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Ill. AG Objects To Call For Immediate Concealed Carry

The state of Illinois is asking a federal court to reject a push by gun-rights advocates to let the residents start publicly carrying handguns as soon as next week, rather than waiting months for implementation of a new concealed carry law.
 
Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office asked a judge Thursday to throw out the request filed in East St. Louis by Mary Shepard. Shepard filed the injunction a day after lawmakers lifted the last-in-the-nation ban.  The state argues Shepard needs to file a new complaint instead of a motion seeking an emergency hearing from a judge.

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Farm Bill
4:12 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

U.S. House Passes Version Of Farm Bill

Credit Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. House passed its version of farm bill legislation today. The revamped bill strips out funding for food aid and deals only with farm policy, exposing a hefty rift in decades-old alliances between urban and rural legislators and between food aid and farm policy interests.

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Education
2:41 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

School Safety An Ongoing Concern

A new Illinois law requires schools hold drills on what to do in the case of shooting.  More security measures could be on the way. 
The new law comes after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary last year put renewed focus on school security.  Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathon Monken says it will continue to be an issue and more legislation is expected:

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The Pharmacy
2:30 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Joshua Cox Featured In 6th Group Exhibition At 'The Pharmacy'

A shot from a previous work by Cox called "And the world formed itself around me."
Credit Johsua Cox

Joshua Cox is an artist and professor at Bradley University in Peoria. His works involve memories, especially related to his childhood growing up in central Illinois. He uses unique mediums to create alternate universes that transport his viewers utilizing life size, and temporary, artworks. Cox is the guest artist for The Pharmacy's Sixth Group Art Exhibition, where other area artists will also have their latest creations on display.

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Illinois Supreme Court
10:46 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Abortion Notice Law Finally Going Into Effect

The bench of the Illinois Supreme Court in Springfield.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a law that requires young women to notify their parents before getting an abortion. The decision ends a legal fight that goes all the way back to the 1990s.

For the first time since the law passed nearly two decades ago, women 17 and younger who want to have an abortion will have to get their parents' permission.

Illinois' parental-notification law was passed in 1995, during a brief period when Republicans won control of the Illinois House.

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Regional
8:08 am
Thu July 11, 2013

A Look Back At Disco Demolition Night

This week back in 1979, a baseball promotion got out of hand.  Known as Disco Demolition, it prompted

fans to bring disco records to the ball park to watch them blown up.  It wound up in what some called a riot. 

White Sox owner Bill Veeck was known for his wild promotions.  But this idea belonged to his son, Mike, a White Sox executive.  Since then,  Mike Veeck has built a long resume in baseball.  He has ownership in six minor league teams, including the one in Bloomington-Normal.  But his legacy will always include the disco fiasco…

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Lincoln Film Credited For Local Tourism Boost
7:00 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Economic Impact Of Springfield Area Tourism Up In 2012

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston talks up the benefits of tourism at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

According to the state's tourism office, 2012 was a "banner year" for those in the business of bringing visitors - and their billfolds - to Illinois.

On Wednesday the agency used the rotunda of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum as its stage to announce the latest numbers on the industry's economic impact. 

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Changing Lands, Changing Hands
6:36 am
Thu July 11, 2013

A Civics Lesson For Rural Towns

Pittsfield, Ill., is dealing with an aging population and what that means for the social fabric of the rural community.
Creative Commons

This week,  the WUIS Harvest Desk has been bringing you the series “Changing Lands, Changing Hands,” a series of stories examining the implications of an unrelenting trend: The American farmer is getting older. Our reporting team has been considering the nuances of this demographic shift that affects not just rural America but the power and potential of an entire industry.  The latest segment takes us to west central Illinois:

It’s hard not to use the phrase “quintessential small town” when you describe Pittsfield, Ill. 

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City Government
6:00 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Springfield City Clerk Rolls Out New Council Voting Tech

Updated voting screens in City Council chamber (image edited to reflect test vote)
Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

The electronic system Springfield aldermen use to record their votes is getting an upgrade the city clerk says will soon allow the public to follow along with City Council action in real-time on the web.

City Clerk Cecilia  Tumulty introduced aldermen to the new eVote system during their committee meeting Tuesday.  Tumulty says work will now begin to link the technology to her website.  She says the goal is to give the public a more "comprehensive snapshot" of Council action:

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Back In Court
2:25 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Gun Group Demands Concealed Carry By Next Week

Credit ammoland.com

Illinois lawmakers thought they were in the clear after meeting a federal court's deadline to pass a concealed carry law by Tuesday.  But the Illinois State Rifle Association says that's not good enough.

The Rifle Association believes lawmakers did not meet their deadline because the state's ban on carrying guns outside the home remains in effect.

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Illinois
1:38 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Same Sex Couples Ask Judge To Lift Marriage Ban

Attorneys representing 25 same-sex couples suing over the Illinois' gay marriage ban are asking a judge to rule quickly in their favor.
Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed a motion for summary judgment Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court.
 
They say the judge could rule as soon as Aug. 6, when oral arguments are scheduled on a defense motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The suit was filed last
year by couples denied marriage licenses in Cook County.
 

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Guns
12:03 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

No Plans For Local Weapons Ban In Springfield

M4 semiautomatic carbine
Credit wikipedia

The new law regulating the concealed carry of handguns in Illinois will also revoke larger cities' power to enact new or updated bans on bigger weapons.

Cities with "home rule" authority have just 10 days to get an assault weapons ban on the books.  The mayor of Chicago is pushing to make the gun laws it has in place even tougher.

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Community
11:50 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Meeting To Discuss Potential Cooperative Grocery Store

Amy Bishop
Credit Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Amy Bishop is an artist and teacher from Springfield with a vision of a cooperative grocery store in her community. She's hosting a meeting tomorrow night at 6 at Donnie's Homespun in the Vinegar Hill Mall in Springfield to talk about that possibility, it's open to the public.

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