News

Pages

Pension Overhaul
5:07 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Quinn Responds To Pension Absence, Begins Reach Out

Gov. Pat Quinn speaks to leading Democrats in September as he seeks the state party's endorsement in his campaign for re-election; critics say the governor has been concerned about politics, rather than policy, when it comes to pensions -- for example by stripping legislators of their salaries as punishment for not passing a bill, even as he was absent from negotiations.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Governor Pat Quinn went months without meeting with members of the special legislative committee formed to draft a new pension plan, but this month he has begun to reach out.

It was Quinn's idea to form a conference committee, to bridge differences between the House and Senate over how to reduce Illinois' $100 billion pension debt.

But the ten members of that panel say other than phone calls welcoming them to the committee, he was absent from their talks from June on, leading to criticisms like this, from Rep. Jil Tracy, a Republican from Quincy.

Read more
Statehouse
1:30 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Cullerton Says Pension Issue Could Bypass Committee

Sen. John Cullerton
Credit Illinois Senate

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says the state's pension problem could be addressed in the fall legislative session even if a committee working on it remains split.  
The Chicago Democrat tells The Associated Press in an interview that lawmakers could bypass the committee and call a vote through another legislative route.  
An AP survey found that five of the pension committee's 10 members still had concerns with a proposed $138 billion savings plan. The Legislature cannot consider a committee proposal unless it is signed by six members.  

Read more
Local Artists
10:33 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Mayosky Plans Cross-Country Trip Painting & Filming About Rt. 66

Mural in Springfield by Mayosky, he's calling it the start of his project
Credit Michael Mayosky

A Springfield artist known for his murals is hoping to embark on a journey across the country, Illinois to LA - painting over 10 murals along the way. His rendering of a young Abe Lincoln adorns the side of a restaurant and bar in downtown Springfield, and Mike Mayosky hopes to share his work with cities along the rest of Route 66. Furthermore, he's hoping to try his hand at documentary film-making with a production about the journey. He joined us to talk about that proposal and what inspired it: 

Read more
Pension Overhaul - Updated
7:23 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Gov. Quinn "AWOL" From Pension Committee's Talks

The ten members of the bipartisan, bicameral conference committee formed to come up with a pension package gather in Chicago in July, for one of the panel's few public meetings. Gov. Pat Quinn did not attend.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

As he runs for re-election, Gov. Pat Quinn is staking a lot on getting something done with pensions. He making a show of asking the state Supreme Court let him cancel legislators' salaries until it's done, and he says he won't deal with other major issues before the General Assembly -- like using tax credits to keep ADM headquartered in Illinois -- until there's what he calls a "comprehensive pension solution." But it's hard to tell just what that means. Most of the ten legislators he tasked with crafting that solution don't even seem to know. They say he's been largely absent ...

Read more
Harvest Desk
1:38 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Shipping Containers Can Open Export Market To Farmers

Agribusiness giant ADM recently opened a 275-acre container shipping rail yard near Decatur, Ill., in part to export more grain.
Credit Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

A huge new rail yard has been buzzing on the outskirts of Decatur, Ill. Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) recently opened the 275-acre facility that would be at home at any major port city on the coast. But it’s in the heart of Illinois farm country because farmers have been taking advantage of a new method of shipping out their products.

Read more
Pensions
3:33 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Pension Committee Divided On A Fix

Credit wuis

The Illinois Legislature's fall veto session is just a week away, but a committee tasked with the solving the state's enormous pension problem is divided.  
An Associated Press survey of the 10-member committee found five Democrats support a plan that would save the state $138 billion over 30 years. The other half consists of four Republicans and one Democrat. They say they have major concerns about the proposal.  
The Legislature cannot consider the proposal unless it's signed by six committee members.  

Read more
Statehouse
11:50 am
Mon October 14, 2013

LINK Card Outage Resolved

Credit dhs

Shoppers in Illinois and 16 other states should be able to use their debit-style food stamp cards after vendor Xerox Corp. restored service following a system outage.  
Januari Smith is spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services. She says people in Illinois began reporting problems using their LINK cards Saturday morning.  

Read more
Statehouse
11:44 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Member Of State Panel Resigns After Hosting Political Fundraiser

Sen. Martin Sandoval

A member of a board that helps choose engineers to
design Illinois roads has resigned after he co-hosted a political fundraiser for the chairman of the state Senate's Transportation Committee. 

Read more
Statehouse
5:55 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Mandatory Prison For Gun Crimes? NRA Says No

Credit Steve Lipofsky/Basketballphoto.com via Wikimedia Commons

Next week, Illinois lawmakers could consider mandatory prison sentences for people charged with illegal gun possession. Supporters say it would help reduce violent crime in places like Chicago and East St. Louis. But a prominent gun-rights group is opposed to the change.

In places where shootings are a big problem, some politicians and prosecutors want a three-year minimum sentence for gun crimes.

But the National Rifle Association worries lawful gun owners could be caught up under the proposal.

Read more
Pension Overhaul
5:24 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Pension Committee Considering Adding 401(k) Option

Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Democrat from Riverside, sits on the pension conference committee. "There's some concern over ... frankly whether pension systems should get in the business of the market... and philosophically do we really want to go down this road when there's members of these systems that believe all we need to do is make our payment, rightfully so," he says of defined contribution plans.
Credit Zalewski

With an eye toward reaching an agreement in time for the upcoming veto session, legislators on a special pension committee met Friday in Chicago. The conversations focused on giving state employees and teachers a new style of retirement plan.

Read more
Lincoln Memorial Garden
4:57 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Indian Summer Festival & Updates From Lincoln Memorial Garden

Joel Horwedel - Executive Director of LMG

Lincoln Memorial Garden & Nature Center may well be Springfield's most celebrated destination for nature-enthusiasts. With over 100 acres of wilderness and trails, it provides a serene landscape along Lake Springfield for residents and tourists to soak in some sun and fresh air, free of charge. 

Read more
Business
4:46 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

ADM Eyeing Atlanta For Headquarters?

Archer Daniels Midland is on the lookout for a new home for its world headquarters.  And it's not being limited to the midwest.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports ADM leaders met with Atlanta officials.

ADM has said it won't comment on sites in the running.   Other reports this week has the company looking at Minneapolis.  Chicago and St. Louis have also been mentioned as possibilities.

Read more
Statehouse
2:35 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Quinn Acts On Clemency Requests

Gov. Pat Quinn

Gov. Pat Quinn is granting 65 clemency petitions and
denying 124 while working through a backlog of pardon requests.
 
The Democrat announced Friday he had acted on 189 requests on dockets dating to
2004. His predecessor, the impeached and now-imprisoned Rod Blagojevich,
notoriously let clemency petitions pile up.
 
Among those granted pardons Friday _ typically with a criminal record being
wiped clean _ were an armed robber; several convicted of battery, including
domestic battery; several convicted of unlawful use of weapon; illicit

Read more
Statehouse
1:47 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Listen To State Week - October 11, 2013

This week's topics include gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner's choice for his Lt. Governor running mate, the state deal with Amtrak to keep shorter-run rail lines running, and new license requirements for all-terrain-vehicles.

Read more
Donnie's
12:47 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Allie Kral Brings Her Fiddle To Springfield

Allie Kral

Allie Kral was the most visible member of the group Cornmeal - a popular blue-grass jam band from Chicago, but she recently left the group to pursue other interests. Trained as a classical violinist, Kral has a unique style and she's widely regarded as one of the best fiddle players in the nation. She plays on Saturday in Springfield at Donnie's Homespun with the band Hot Buttered Rum.

Read more
Statehouse
11:12 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Durkin Picks Members of House GOP Leadership Team

Credit ilga.gov

The new Republican leader in the Illinois House of Representatives has named his leadership team.

Western Springs Rep. Jim Durkin is keeping most of the assistants who reported to Oswego Rep. Tom Cross, who left the top position in the chamber to run for Illinois treasurer.

Peoria Rep. David Leitch and Westmont Rep. Patti Bellock will be the chamber's deputy GOP leaders.

Leitch, who is the longest-serving Republican in the chamber, held the same position under Cross.

Read more
Health Desk
7:15 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Shutdown Stalls Inspections Of Some Medical Facilities

Credit http://www.idph.state.il.us

Illinois officials are scaling back on certain hospital and nursing home inspections because of the partial federal government shutdown.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports a state agency gets about $1.3 million a month to pay for inspections of medical facilities.

But the shutdown means the money isn't heading to Illinois. So the Illinois Department of Public Health has put certain inspections on hiatus.

Read more
Transportation
6:54 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Amtrak Deal Keeps Trains Running In Illinois

Illinois has agreed to pay more for in-state Amtrak trains. The deal prevents a shutdown of rail service that could have happened as early as next week.

Illinois is the second-to-last state to reach an agreement with Amtrak.

The deal was necessary because of a federal law that requires states to pay more if they want to keep shorter-distance rail lines.

Some states, like California, will pay millions of extra dollars.

Read more
Downtown Springfield
4:48 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Downtown's Artification Project Put On Hold

From a video presentation of the proposal on downtownspringfield.org
Credit Free Sky Studios

 The "artification" of downtown Springfield has met an obstacle. A mural scheduled to be finished this month will have to wait until next year. 

Read more
History
1:46 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Sangamon Co. Historical Society Offers To Help Fund Local Projects

Credit sancohis.org

Do you have an idea to show off the history of your community or a special location?  The Sangamon County Historical Society is offering to give money to local projects that create interest in the history of the county.  An online application is available for the grants of up to $1,000.   
Roger Whitaker is President of the Society.  Speaking on WUIS' Illinois Edition, he says the group has already helped other projects become a reality:

Read more
Higher Education
9:20 am
Thu October 10, 2013

White Named Permanent President At Millikin

Dr. Patrick White
Credit Millikin University

Millikin University in Decatur has a new president.  
Trustees at the school hired interim president Patrick White to take the post permanently. He began working in the interim position in July.  
The 64-year-old succeeds Rich Dunsworth, who also held the interim job after Harold Jeffcoat retired in January.  
White had worked as president of Wabash College in Indiana and says he's excited to make the Millikin position permanent.  

Read more
Statehouse
8:51 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Interview: State Senator Andy Manar

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill)

State Senator Andy Manar (D - Bunker Hill) is in his first term serving the 48th District.  It stretches from Springfield and Decatur south into Madison County.

Before he was elected, Manar spent time as Chief of Staff to Senate President John Cullerton and served as Chairman of the Macoupin County Board.

Manar sat down with WUIS' Sean Crawford to talk about some of the issues facing state government, including public pensions, tax incentives for ADM, education funding and how he was considered as a possible running mate to former gubernatorial candidate Bill Daley:

Read more
District 186
3:46 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Achievement Gap Hot Topic At Dist. 186 Meeting

  Lanphier High School is in the final year of a three year grant to help students improve. Among the things they've done as part of the program is extending the school day and adding ACT practice exams and tutoring for students. However, board member Judy Johnson made Lanphier faculty bristle when she questioned why math scores dropped, while the scores for white students improved during a recent school board meeting.

Read more
Tax Burden
1:55 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Does It Pay To Move From Illinois?

Is it worth it to leave one state for another due to taxes?  The National Center for Policy Analysis, a non partisan public policy research group, developed a way to help you determine the answer.  It's an online state  tax calculator.   Pam Villareal is a senior fellow for the Center. She spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford:

Want to try out the calculator?  Find it here.

Read more
Federal Shutdown
1:17 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Most Laid Off State Workers Back Despite Shutdown

Credit Wikimedia commons

Gov. Pat Quinn's budget office says most state workers whose salaries are paid by federal money are back on the job, but more layoffs could come if the federal shutdown continues.
 
Roughly 100 workers were issued temporary layoffs last week, including employees with the Department of Military Affairs, the Illinois Department of
Employment Security and Labor Department.
 
Quinn's budget office says temporary layoffs for more than 70 employees expired Wednesday. The U.S. House has approved back pay for some workers.
 

Read more
DEMO Project Gallery
11:57 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Springfield's New DEMO Gallery Hosts 'Shadow Aspect'

Credit: kathleenscottart.com

A new gallery in Springfield, called the "DEMO Project" is run by artists and aims to bring alternative contemporary works to the community. Located on the Springfield Art Association's campus in the Enos park neighborhood - the gallery will welcome artist Kathleen Scott with a reception on Friday night from 6 to 9. Scott's work is an installation utilizing paper cutting, stop-motion animation, and her own original music.

Read more
Regional
7:58 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Springfield Museum Remembers "The Forgotten War"

Credit flickr/TheNationalGuard

Along the plaza across from the Old State Capitol, in a former Osco store, you can find a tribute to the men and women who fought in Korea more than 60 years ago.

But the Korean War National Museum does more than simply honor veterans.  It attempts to educate visitors about the causes of the conflict.  Operating on donations, the museum shows videos and displays items that shows what life was like at that time for those too young to remember the war.

Read more
District 186
4:57 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

District 186 Employee Suspected Of Stealing From HS Fund

An unnamed district 186 employee has admitted to stealing money from the Springfield public school system, according to the interim superintendent Bob Leming. Leming told WUIS a police investigation started last week - and while the Southeast High School employee in question apparently admitted guilt, the investigation is still underway with the Illinois State Police.

Read more
Science
12:52 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

The Piasa: Bird Imagery Is Just A Myth

This later painting is visible on bluffs along the Mississippi River at Alton.
Credit wikipedia

The legend of the Piasa "bird" goes back to the 1600's, when Marquette and Joliet saw a large painting near the Mississippi River where Alton is now located.  But what has been passed down through the years is different than what the original artwork was meant to convey.

Dr. Duane Esarey has researched the Piasa and he'll dispel the myths Wednesday during the state museum science series lecture.   He spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford and straightens us out on the subject.  He says it all goes back to the early explorers' description of what they saw:

Read more
Nation/World
11:53 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Former Speaker Hastert Discusses Government Shutdown

Credit npr

Denny Hastert wasn't the Speaker of the U.S. House during the last government shutdown, but he was an Illinois Congressman in 1995 and '96. He told Amanda Vinicky this time is different.

Hastert says back then, Republicans were trying to get a handle on spending. He says it worked.

Read more

Pages