News

Doing Right By The Kids

Dec 1, 2014

This story first appeared in the June 2014 issue.

Special monitoring visits to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice recently found youth detainees mowing lawns and building shelves rather than attending educational courses. Monitors discovered youth being given medication with inadequate consent and living in rooms that were improperly maintained. Facilities were found to lack the proper staff to treat juvenile offenders with mental illnesses.

Impoverished in Illinois

Dec 1, 2014
Vacant apartment building.
Robert Loerzel / WUIS/Illinois Issues

This story first appeared in the January 2014 issue. Statistics have been updated where new numbers were available.

In some pockets of Illinois, where one in every three people live in poverty or close to it, the need is visible in the landscape: empty lots where buildings once stood in Cairo; abandoned houses marked with X’s in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood; families living in ramshackle trailers in Kankakee County’s Pembroke Township.

This story first appeared in the April 2014 issue.

Gone are the days a candidate can make a campaign appearance before a friendly crowd of party faithful, nearly a year before an election, and think his remarks will fade from memory as fast as the mass-produced fried chicken or roast beef the audience was likely served during the event.

Jamey Dunn
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Election season cast a long shadow on 2014. We saw the most expensive and one of the ugliest fights for the governor’s office in the state’s history. Now Illinois has a Republican governor for the first time in more than a decade. Meanwhile in the legislature, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton were both able to hang on to veto-proof majorities in their respective chambers, despite some aggressive challenges mounted by Republican candidates.

Charlie Wheeler headshot
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Is Illinois still a “blue” state?

Will Mike Madigan work with a Republican governor?

Those were among the “insightful” questions being posed by national pundits and talking heads after Bruce Rauner’s solid victory last month over Gov. Pat Quinn in one of the country’s most closely-watched, bitterly contested gubernatorial contests.

Folks here at home know the answers, of course: clearly yes, in both cases.

flickr/MikeMozart

Don Fullerton is associate director of IGPA for Urbana-Champaign and a member of the IGPA faculty. He is an expert on tax policy, energy and environmental policy issues. Julian Reif is an expert in health economics and policy.

They wrote the following op-ed.

Last year, the Panzier Lane bridge in Jefferson County collapsed while a truck was driving over it. The driver was unharmed, but as reconstruction began last month, officials estimated it will cost more than half a million dollars to repair.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, further discussion of the circuit court ruling on the unconstitutionality of Illinois' pension legislation, as well as more on the fall veto session.

WUIS

Community Colleges do more than simply of for-credit classes.  They are a place where personal enrichment can be discovered. 

Jamie Stout is the Community Education Director for Lincoln Land Community College. She joined WUIS' Sean Crawford to talk more about some of the offerings, ranging from culinary classes to ghost hunting. 

Courtesy of the Springfield Choral Society

You can hear The Springfield Choral Society perform Handel's Messiah on Saturday, November 29th at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (524 E. Lawrence Ave) at 7:30 pm.

 Choral Director Marion van der Loo joined us for this interview about it: 

ALPLM

Visitors to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum will have a rare opportunity to see some important historical documents and others items pertaining to the 16th president. 

"Undying Words - Lincoln 1858-1865" is a new exhibit that showcases the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th Amendment, the Gettysburg Address and more. 

"We wanted to focus on what was critical in Lincoln's life and in the nation's life.  And that comes down to his last 7 years," said James Cornelius, Curator of the Lincoln Collection.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

 

Dozens of people gathered last night at the Union Baptist Church on the east side of Springfield for a prayer vigil. It was held in response to recent news out of Ferguson, Missouri.  

 

Illinois Trophy Bow Hunters

Illinois hunters have killed nearly 52,000 deer during the first weekend of the state's firearm hunting season.  
 The state Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday the preliminary total is 51,830 deer for the Nov. 21-23 weekend.

That's down from nearly 56,000 during the first weekend of the 2013 firearm season. Jackson County had the largest harvest last weekend with about 1,500 deer.  

The second segment of the 2014 season is Dec. 4-7.  

High Turkey Prices Unlikely To Impact Consumers

Nov 25, 2014
flickr/Calgary Reviews

Wholesale turkey prices are at an all-time high this Thanksgiving, but you may not see that at the grocery store.

Farmers raised fewer turkeys this year than they have in the past three decades - about 235 million gobblers, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Ann Knowles raised seventy on her small farm in western Illinois. She coops up the plump birds at night to guard against predators, but lets them roam freely during the day.

KNOWLES  "They get to strut. And they chase in bugs. So I think they’re little dinky brains are probably pretty happy."

Amanda Vinicky

Credit ratings agencies have taken notice of the court ruling on Friday that tossed out Illinois’ law reducing workers’ pensions. But they’re not worried enough to lower the state’s rating.

Illinois’ credit rating remains unaffected by last week’s court ruling, which found a landmark pension law to be unconstitutional. But agencies are watching.

Credit ratings are important as, the lower the rating, the more it costs the state to borrow.

It’s also an important indicator of a state’s relative fiscal health.

Jeff Turner/flickr

WUIS' Sean Crawford talks with Tim Landis, Business Editor for the State Journal-Register, on our weekly business report. 

This week, we hear about foreclosure sales returning to normal levels in the Springfield area.  We also discuss a study of the Heritage River Trail from Petersburg to Decatur and what improvements could be made to help tourism and recreation. 

Also, a court-ordered deadline is fast approaching to clean up the former CIPS Icehouse at 918 E. Edwards St.

Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio's Rachel Lippmann has been covering the situation in Ferguson, MO since it started back in August. She was at the announcement made by Prosecutor Bob McCulloch on Monday night that a grand jury chose not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

In this interview, Lippmann tells us about the reactions from Brown's family, protests and riots, and more:

Lisa Madigan
Marsy's Law for Illinois

Attorney General Lisa  Madigan says if the state supreme court agrees to an expedited hearing...  a ruling on the state's pension law could come by January,.

WUIS

Republican Bruce Rauner campaigned on his ability to spur job creation in Illinois. He'll get a head start -- of sorts -- choosing hundreds of new state employees.

To the victor go the spoils, and in state government, that means jobs. 

While a governor is boss of all state employees, he doesn't get to choose most of them (the majority of workers stay on no matter who is in charge; politics are supposed to stay out of hiring). 

It's the 28th year for the family-friendly New Year's Eve event. The Springfield Area Arts Council is hosting a 5K run the Sunday before December 31st.  An optional buffet dinner is also back for a second year. And First Night's Laura Vaught highlighted a new participant: 

flickr/Curtis Albert

If you are in the mood to travel, you might think about far away distances.  But there are plenty of things to see right here in Illinois and the midwest.  That's the focus of a new segment on Illinois Edition on WUIS. 

Mary Bohlen and Mary Galligan write travel articles for the Illinois Times.  Their trips are within a day's drive.  They look for affordable, family friendly destinations.  From state parks to small towns to big city amenities.

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Harvey Tillis / Illinois Information Service

Although one court has tossed out Illinois’ mega pension overhaul, state leaders are likely to wait on another legal opinion before deciding what to do next.

There’s no question -- the Sangamon County Circuit Court judge’s ruling is meaningful. But Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office is appealing to the state Supreme Court.

Madigan has said it makes sense for lawmakers to wait to hear from those justices.

Host Jamey Dunn and guests Kent Redfield (UIS) and Mike Lawrence (Statehouse Observer) discuss the issues surrounding the first week of veto session.

CapitolView is a production of WSEC-TV/PBS Springfield, Network Knowledge.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

The Sangamon County Circuit Court rules last year’s pension legislation unconstitutional.  Bruce Rauner is busy making preparations to move into the Governor’s Mansion.  And Frerichs beats Cross in a very close Treasurer’s race.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

The state will refund money to about 75,000 state retirees who've been paying a portion of their pensions for health insurance over the last year and a half after a court hearing in Sangamon County.
 
Judge Steven Nardulli on Friday scheduled a Dec. 18 hearing to establish how to
distribute more than $60 million to the retirees. Attorneys estimate the money
will be returned by spring.                                                     
 
Retirees began paying a percentage of their annuity under a 2012 law.
 

Wikipedia/Public Domain

Bill Cosby's two shows next April at a theater in Champaign have been canceled in the wake of allegations the famed comedian sexually assaulted women.  

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports Friday (http://bit.ly/1uKI0sp ) that Champaign Park District Executive Director Joe DeLuce said canceling the shows at the Virginia Theatre was a difficult decision. DeLuce says the district made the decision because the Cosby scandal ``keeps on growing.'' Ticket holders will receive full refunds.  Other venues also have canceled Cosby shows in recent days.  

http://www.ilsymphony.org/

From the Illinois Symphony Orchestra Site: “Enter the fanciful world of Circus Flora at our Holiday Pops in the Heartland concert. Set among the High Tatras Mountains in the ancient and beautiful Kingdom of Spiish, A Winter Fable is a classic fairy tale with an edge of romance and deceit. Fabulous family fun where symphony and the circus arts is only the beginning of this spectacular evening!”

Dusty Rhodes

The House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education held a lengthy hearing this week on a bill that would drastically change the way Illinois distributes state education funds. Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar of Macoupin County, would send more money to schools where property values are low, while decreasing the amount sent to schools in wealthier Chicago suburbs. 

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner visited the Executive Mansion during his trip to Springfield Thursday.

Illinois Senate

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says lawmakers are heeding Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner's  advice and won't extend the state's temporary income tax increase.
 
Rauner advised lawmakers not to take up any substantive issues before he's
sworn in.
 
Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, says the Republican Rauner has ``a little honeymoon period'' during his first weeks in office and the Legislature is ``giving him his first victory.''
 

Amanda Vinicky

An Illinois judge has ruled that a law intended to fix the nation's worst-funded state employee pensions violates the state Constitution. Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Belz ruled Friday in favor of state employees and retirees who sued to block the state's landmark pension overhaul.

At issue was whether lawmakers defied the Illinois Constitution by passing a law that reduces state workers', public school teachers' and university employees' retirement benefits.

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