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Statehouse
4:28 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Rep. Farnham Steps Down; Cites Health Reasons

Rep. Keith Farnham

A day after the primary race, a member of the Illinois House has stepped down.  The legislator is under federal scrutiny.

Representative Keith Farnham, a Democrat from Elgin, gave no reason in his one-sentence resignation letter.

But in a statement, Farnham says he has been battling serious health issues for years, and in coming months those health issues will require his full attention. 

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Election 2014
3:30 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Could Governor Candidates Spend $100 Million?

Credit flickr/BevandSteve

Political experts anticipate the Illinois gubernatorial candidates could spend more than 100 million dollars in the next eight months.

University of Illinois Springfield political science Professor Kent Redfield says Republican nominee Bruce Rauner and incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn should attract big money from donors both in- and out of Illinois.

"It’s both a contest between these two people and the interests of the state of Illinois but it’s also drawing a national conflict involving labor and big business," he said.

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Election 2014
12:57 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Fresh From Win, Candidate Bruce Rauner Backs Off Government Union Rhetoric

Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  Now that he's the Republicans nominee, it seems like Bruce Rauner is backing away from a campaign mantra.

During the primary race, Rauner consistently repeated these three words:

"Government union bosses."

But that wasn't part of his victory speech Tuesday night. Nor did he single out unions at the GOP's unity lunch the next morning. Rather, Rauner seemed to be trying to make nice with labor.

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District 186
8:00 am
Wed March 19, 2014

District 186 Identifies Individuals Who Could Lose Jobs

 The Springfield school board had earlier approved the reduction of over 40 positions for next school year. On Monday the board identified which specific workers may be without a job as a result. Dave Heinzel is one of them. The board voted to give him what's called a reduction in force notice. He oversees media production - and helps keep the district website up and running.

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Election 2014
4:04 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Rauner, Quinn Chart Course For Conflict

Republican Bruce Rauner will take on Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in this fall's election.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The election returns in yesterday’s Illinois primary were not even in before the candidates for governor started attacking each other. Republicans chose wealthy investor Bruce Rauner to take on Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn. Brian Mackey looks at the surprisingly close election results, and what’s ahead for the campaign.

Rauner spent millions more dollars than all his rivals combined, and had huge leads in the polls. But in the end, he only won by three percentage points. Of course, a victory is still a victory.

RAUNER: “Let’s get ‘em! Let’s get ‘em!”

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Regional
12:20 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Wes Barr Wins Primary For Sangamon County Sheriff

Credit facebook.com/wesbarr2014

The Republican primary for Sangamon County sheriff went to former sheriff’s lieutenant Wes Barr.

Barr retired from the department last year and soon after announced he would run to replace the outgoing sheriff Neil Williamson, who has held the job for over 20 years. But Williamson backed his undersheriff Jack Campbell.

The race seemed to split the Republican party establishment in Sangamon County.  Both received key endorsements. The candidates also sparred over issues such as the department’s taser policy, which Barr criticized and Campbell defended.

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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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