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Election 2014
8:07 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Rutherford: 'I'm Looking Forward To Vindicating Myself'

Credit danrutherford.org

  Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford basically conceded his campaign for governor earlier tonight.

His standing in the polls plummeted after a former employee filed a lawsuit accusing the treasurer of sexual harassment and coercing him to do political work.

Rutherford says the past few weeks have been the most challenging in his life.

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Election 2014
4:26 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Voting Check-In: Primary Election Going Smoothly, Slowly

Campaign signs litter the lawn of Springfield's busiest polling place, Knights of Columbus Hall, on Tuesday.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  The polls in Illinois are open until 7 o'clock on Tuesday. Just a fraction of registered voters have bothered showing up at recent primary elections.

Terry Shryrock is directing traffic inside the Knights of Columbus hall on the west side of Springfield. He's spent the past 10 years as an election judge.

"It's fun to watch all the people come in and vote, especially when they bring in their little kids," he said. "It's very interesting."

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Election 2014
12:28 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Rauner Nabs Republican Nomination, But Not The Dominant Win Predicted

Bruce Rauner and wife Diana celebrate at his election night party. Rauner won the GOP gubernatorial nomination by a closer margin than was expected.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  Bruce Rauner narrowly won the Republican primary for governor. He'll face Governor Pat Quinn, who is aiming for a second full-term. Neither of the wins were surprising, but the margins were.

Quinn was basically guaranteed Democrat's nod, after former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley dropped out of the running in September.

Still Quinn's so-called "token" opponent, Tio Hardiman — who had no money to really run a campaign — grabbed 28 percent of the vote. That's largely being viewed more as "anti-Quinn" than "pro-Hardiman."

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Election 2014
6:00 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Early Voting Declines From Previous Elections

Illinois polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 18.
Credit wikimedia

After months of campaigning, Illinois voters go to the polls Tuesday. But turnout for recent primary elections has been quite low.

Jim Tenuto, with the State Board of Elections, says fewer than one in four registered voters has pulled a primary ballot in recent years. And leading up to the primary, things have been calm this year, too.

"This election seems very quiet as far as phone calls and inquiries," he says. Tenuto says there's no way to predict turnout, but he says early voting is down 14 percent from the last election in 2012.

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Election 2014
5:15 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Rochester Voters Will Decide Home Rule Question

Voters in four Illinois communities, including Rochester, go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to give their  town councils  more power. 

The villages want to become home rule communities, which gives them more authority to raise taxes and pass laws.  The Illinois Association of Realtors is against the change.   Association President Phil Chiles says if voters approve home rule, they could regret it later.

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Statehouse
7:21 am
Mon March 17, 2014

A Low Profile For Dan Rutherford

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Treasurer Dan Rutherford is remaining quiet in the final hours of his campaign for Governor.  He also plans on the unusual move of keeping the Election night party for his Illinois gubernatorial bid closed to reporters.  

Spokesman Brian Sterling says Rutherford will issue a statement Tuesday at a Pontiac location separate from his party.  Sterling declined to comment further on Sunday.  

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Statehouse
6:51 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Three of Four GOP Candidates Campaign Today

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Most Republican candidates running for Illinois governor are spending the last day before the primary election day traveling around the state. 

State Sen. Kirk Dillard plans to be in East Alton, Marion, Champaign and suburban Chicago on Monday. State Sen. Bill Brady's schedule includes stops in Springfield, Peoria, Urbana, Marion and Chicago. Businessman Bruce Rauner is wrapping up a three-day statewide tour and has a get out the vote rally Monday evening in Hickory Hills.  

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Election 2014
6:51 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Candidates Hope For Luck O' The Irish

The four candidates vying for the Republican nomination for governor: Sen. Bill Brady, Sen. Kirk Dillard, Bruce Rauner and Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Candidates are making their final pushes for support ahead of Tuesday's elections. It's all about getting out the vote.

As they travel the state on St. Patrick's Day, each of the Republicans seeking the party's nomination for governor are hoping for some luck they can carry over to election day.

While polls show private equity investor Bruce Rauner ahead, Sen. Kirk Dillard has seen his support rise in recent weeks. At an Dillard rally last night in Springfield, his onetime boss, former Gov. Jim Edgar, said primary results are hard to predict by polls.

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State Budget
6:15 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Sin Taxes Won't Solve Illinois' Budget Troubles

Prof. Julian Reif
Credit IGPA

When Illinois lawmakers are in need of more revenue, they often turn to sin.  

Sin taxes, that is. 

Those are taxes placed on items that can be considered undesirable, like cigarettes, alcohol or gambling.  

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District 186
6:00 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Lopez & Eastvold Lay Out Opposing Tax Referendum Ideas To Help Schools

Katharine Eastvold and Adam Lopez
Credit Rachel Otwell

School districts across the state are facing increasingly desperate budget situations, and the future doesn't look much better if things continue down the some path.

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State Week
4:18 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Listen To State Week - March 14, 2014

More discussion of the upcoming primary elections.

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Statehouse
1:28 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Search Warrants Issued For Lawmaker's Home, Office

Keith Farnham
Credit ilga.gov

Authorities say federal search warrants have been executed at the Elgin home and office of state Rep. Keith Farnham.  

Randall Samborn is a spokesman with the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago. He says search warrants were executed Thursday by agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security

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Election 2014
12:35 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Where Do GOP Governor Candidates Stand On Education?

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  All four of the Republican candidates for governor have said they will make education funding a priority if elected, but they face an uphill battle finding the money to send to schools. Each of the contenders has an unique solution for fixing education funding in Illinois.

First, some background: Illinois is ranked last in the nation when it comes to how much the state kicks in to public education.

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Election 2014
5:53 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Gay Rights Group To Help Some Republican Candidates

An advocacy group supporting gay and lesbian causes in Illinois is bolstering the campaign funds of two Republican lawmakers.
 
Equality Illinois' political action committee says it plans to put $150,000 into the campaigns of candidates that support same-sex marriage before Tuesday's primary.
 
That includes state Reps. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove and Ed Sullivan of Mundelein _ two of three GOP members of the House to vote to legalize same-sex marriage last fall. The third, state Rep. Tom Cross, is making a bid for state treasurer.
 

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Regional
5:36 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Kincaid Mayor Arrested Again

The small Christian County town of Kincaid has been in the news for the wrong reasons. 

The village's police chief is accused of having village employees work on his house on government time. 

And the mayor, Doug Thomas, has been arrested for a second time for violating an order of protection.  Thomas was taken into custody at the village hall Thursday morning. Thomas was taken to the Christian County jail.

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Treasurer's race
5:22 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Republican Opponents For Treasurer Differ On Budget Strategy

DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan and Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego) face off in the Republican primary for State Treasurer.

  When state treasurer Dan Rutherford announced a run for governor, the Republican left his seat wide open. Two GOP candidates are vying for that party’s nomination on Tuesday.

Former House minority leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) left his position in the fall to run for treasurer. He's promising to use a new tool to force a balanced budget: The threat of suing the General Assembly and the governor.

Cross says having that card in his back pocket will make sure the state doesn’t spend more than it takes in, like the state's constitution mandates.

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Election 2014
11:08 am
Thu March 13, 2014

13th Dist. Congressional Candidate Ann Callis Interview

Ann Callis
Credit Callis for Illinois

In May of last year, Ann Callis abruptly stepped down as Madison County’s chief circuit judge in May of last year, after serving 18 years on the bench.  The Democrat says it's time to use her experience to help people in new ways - in Illinois' 13th Congressional District.

The Democrat said it was time to 'use her experience to help people in new ways' when stepping down last year.

She entered what became a crowded field for the office, facing two other Democrats, and three Republicans, including incumbent Rodney Davis.

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Statehouse
9:47 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Ballot Measure Calls To Ban Fracking In Southern Illinois

Opponents of fracking rally in the Capitol last spring.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  A ballot measure before voters in far-southern Johnson County seeks to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. But some advocates worry the proposal’s wording has the potential to confuse voters.

As it’s stated on the ballot, voters can vote yes or no in response to the following question:

“Shall the people’s right to local self-government be asserted by Johnson County to ban corporate fracking as a violation of their rights to health, safety, and a clean environment?”

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Reducing The Number Of State Laws Not So Simple

Credit dnr.illinois.gov

The name “lawmaker” implies someone who helps pass laws.  But some who serve in the role are critical of that part of the job description.  Lee Strubinger looks at why they say there are too many laws on the books. 

Every year when the Illinois General Assembly goes in to session, a regular drumbeat of new proposals are debated.  They deal with topics from crime, to regulation and even seemingly innocuous measures to honor someone or something.    

More than 600 new laws were signed in the last year alone.

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Arts
5:23 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Classical Guitar Takes The Stage At Millikin

Credit Mid America Guitar Ensemble Festival

This weekend, Decatur will play host to some pretty serious guitarists.  It's the annual Mid America Classical Guitar Ensemble and it will be held at Millikin University.  It's mainly for those who study classical guitar at a college level.

While those students will have a chance to learn, they can also perform.  And there are opportunities for the public to hear some tremendous musicians.

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Regional
3:24 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

City Aldermen Stall Deal With Napa Auto Parts, Question Contract

Credit springfield.il.us

Several Springfield aldermen are questioning the Mayor's  plan to utilize an auto parts company for the city's vehicle fleet.

Under the proposal, Napa Auto Parts would be the city's primary auto parts supplier. 

The more than three million dollar agreement with Napa would last for three years and would operate in a city maintenance garage.  It's part of an effort that would reduce the number of city garages.       

During Tuesday night's committee of the whole meeting, a few aldermen wanted to know how the city came to choose Napa, rather than local vendors.

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Sports
12:23 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

A Chat With UIS Athletic Director Kim Pate

Kim Pate
Credit UIS Athletics

The University of Illinois Springfield has come a long way with athletics in the past decade.  Now a Division II school, UIS has added 6 programs in that time.   That brings the total of teams to 11. 

Yet, the expansion has also brought criticism from those who question if sports are part of the school's mission.

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Local Artists
11:58 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Artist Adam Perschbacher Has "Disillusions"

Adam Perschbacher at WUIS
Rachel Otwell

Adam Perschbacher's artwork is edgy - quite literally. His geometric, 3D works range from black and white simplicity, to the jagged and colorful. The local artist's work is currently on display at the Madden Arts Center in Decatur and runs through March 29th. The solo-exhibition is called, "DISILLUSION: The Objects of Adam G.

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Statehouse
7:13 am
Wed March 12, 2014

GOP Candidates Face University of Illinois Admissions Question

The Republican contenders for governor are facing questions about their roles in a five-year-old admissions scandal at the University of Illinois.  

The scandal involved some politicians using clout to get students enrolled. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and state Sen. Kirk Dillard have acknowledged their names are on the list the University of Illinois maintained of lawmakers who called to check on applications. They were asked about it at a televised debate last week.  

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Election 2014
6:30 am
Wed March 12, 2014

"The Limit Is Winning The Race"

The Republican candidates for governor: Sen. Bill Brady, Sen. Kirk Dillard, Bruce Rauner, Treasurer Dan Rutherford
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Illinois had long been the holdout: a state without any limits on campaign contributions. Prosecutors say former Governor Rod Blagojevich took full advantage of that freedom, as he solicited donations in exchange for favors and state jobs. His arrest spurred lawmakers into action.

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Harvest Desk
5:25 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Padlock The Milk! The FDA's Push To Safeguard The Food Supply

Milk is an extremely popular item on the University of Missouri campus, says purchasing coordinator Sandy Perley. "Our entire campus in a year drinks about 96,000 gallons of milk. And by our best calculation, that’s about 326 gallons a day."
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Many of the food terrorism scenarios outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration involve liquid.

And there’s good reason for that.

Liquids like orange juice and milk go through many processing steps -- farm, bottling plant, delivery – before reaching the consumers who drink them. And these liquids are moved, manufactured and stored in huge batches that get distributed and consumed quickly. Should a toxin be injected somewhere along the supply chain, experts believe it could have devastating human health and economic consequences.

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Regional
11:47 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

City Close To Downtown Property Purchase

Credit springfield.il.us

The City of Springfield is one step away from acquiring the now vacant YWCA building and surrounding property in the downtown.  Aldermen agreed to the deal during a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday night.   Purchasing the almost 2 acres across from the Governor's Mansion, will cost the city over one and a half million dollars.   The city will use Tax Increment Financing money to buy the land.

It's been a long process to get to this point.   Ward Six Alderman Cory Jobe says this is property that's been targeted since he got elected.

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Statehouse
3:40 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Court: Unplayed Blagojevich Tapes To Stay Sealed

An appellate court in Chicago says transcripts of FBI wiretaps
not played at Rod Blagojevich's corruption trials will remain sealed.
 
The 7th U.S. Court of Appeals is still mulling its decision on the imprisoned
former Illinois governor's request to toss his convictions.
 
Appellate courts typically unseal documents submitted as part of an appeal. But
prosecutors later asked that the transcripts submitted to the appeals court not
entered into evidence at the trials remain under seal. Blagojevich's attorneys
wanted them opened.  
 

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Education
2:36 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

School Officials Call Potential Cuts 'Devastating'

As the state legislature threatens additional cuts to local schools, education officials are firing back. Some say taking more money away from students would be morally reprehensible.

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