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IDOT

A federal judge has ordered a court-appointed monitor to investigate hiring at Gov. Pat Quinn's Department of Transportation.  

Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier told attorneys Wednesday that the monitor would help compliance of a decades-old political hiring ban.  

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by an anti-patronage attorney in April alleging improper hiring practices.  

Attorneys for Quinn's administration had said a separate monitor wasn't necessary and a state inspector general had completed a detailed probe and changes were made.  

IDOT

Attorneys are returning to court in a federal lawsuit over hiring in Gov. Pat Quinn's Department of Transportation.
 
 Anti-patronage attorney Michael Shakman has asked for a court-appointed monitor
of hiring as part of a lawsuit filed in April. He's said it would ensure the
administration complies with bans on political hiring for nonpolitical jobs.
 
 Quinn's attorneys have argued a monitor isn't necessary. They've said Quinn's
response to allegations of political hiring in the Department of Transportation

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Illinois' declining manufacturing sector led to one candidate for congress calling for repeal of a controversial free trade deal.  The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, has been praised by those who see it as key to opening up new export markets.  But others say it has led to more outsourcing of jobs to other countries.  

Democrat Ann Callis of Edwardsville, who is seeking the 13th Congressional District seat, commented in a Tuesday debate in Springfield that she would support repealing NAFTA. 

Afterward, she walked back those comments:

flickr/borman18

  The race for Illinois governor is one of the most expensive match-ups in the nation. A new report shows that most of that comes from relatively few donors.

wnij

Illinois is about a quarter of the way into its fiscal year and building up debt along the way. A new report from the Civic Federation says it's a return to detrimental policies that landed Illinois in an unstable financial position in the first place.

There was one, glaring question for lawmakers last spring: what were they going to do about the temporary income tax?

In this week's Business Report Tim Landis discusses a chain establishment leaving town, the future of a Route 66 landmark and work is set to begin on an historic site.

Illinois had one of the stronger showings in the nation in new jobs last month and it led the way nationally with a a 2.5% drop in unemployment from September of last year to September of this year.

Figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Illinois added more than 19,000 jobs last month, marking the second largest increase in the nation. 

Illinois trailed only Texas in month over month employment.

The biggest gains came in  professional and business services.   That includes more accounting jobs which have increased in the Chicago area.  

Three Cub Scouts and their adult leader have been injured after an experiment caused a chemical explosion in Montgomery County.  

Raymond Mayor Dennis Held tells KSDK-TV the boys were having a meeting outside a church Monday evening when they conducted an annual experiment. The explosion occurred when they mixed boric acid and anti-freeze in a metal fire pit with the intention of making a green flame.  

Notes On The Final Governor Debate

Oct 21, 2014
wttw Chicago Tonight

The debate portion of the Illinois governor’s race is over. Monday night's debate may have given voters a little clarity.

Now - that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any mud-slinging or repetitive campaign refrains. There was a lot of that. But we did get some answers on issues that have popped up in all three debates. Like what Governor Pat Quinn would do when the 5 percent income tax rate ends in 2015.

QUINN: We need to maintain the income tax, at the same time give annual, direct, property tax relief - a 500 dollar refund - to every single homeowner in this state.

Illinois is one of only 10 states where students are not required to take a civics course. A task force of legislators and educators now recommends that students learn not just the history of government, but how to participate in it. 

americanwinterfilm.com

It’s been 50 years since the war on poverty was declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson, but Illinois still has about 15% of residents living in it – the same percentage living in poverty that half century ago. American Winter is a documentary made about families facing poverty, especially after the most recent recession. It’s being presented on the UIS campus Monday night, and a discussion will follow. It’s part of the university’s series on poverty.

Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn headshots
brucerauner.com, quinnforillinois.com

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner are getting ready for their third and likely final televised debate.  

Monday night's debate comes as the two candidates are locked in a neck-and-neck contest for governor.  
 It's being hosted by the League of Women Voters of Illinois and broadcast by WLS-TV in Chicago.  

Quinn and Rauner have gotten personal and at times nasty in other candidate forums as they duel over economic plans and dispute school funding plans.  

The Papers Of Abraham Lincoln

With the rise of computers and electronic communications, educators have all but written off penmanship. And kids who don’t learn to write cursive tend to have trouble reading cursive. 

Last week, I went around torturing teenagers. I handed them a copy of a letter, written on stationery from the Executive Mansion and dated April 5, 1864. The letter is addressed to Mrs. Horace Mann.

It was especially challenging for 18-year-old Edwin Robles. 

“I’m sorry, I’m really bad at cursive. Like horrible at it," Robles said. "Why? Is this like a test?”

Earlier Than Ever

Oct 20, 2014

Pres. Barack Obama visited Chicago Sunday, to encourage Illinois residents to vote, and to do it early. Early voting begins today, and runs until just before election day. That could change campaigns' strategies, or expand the electorate.

It used to be that campaigns geared up for one day: Election Day. Starting in 2006, Illinois residents were given the option of casting an early, in-person ballot. That used to last for a two-week span. Not this election. Voters have from today until Nov. 2 to vote early.

Look for people to take advantage of it.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Education funding was among the disagreements between gubernatorial candidates Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner in a debate this week in Chicago.  Meanwhile, spending on political ads continues to increase.

Davis, Callis Respond To Negative Ads

Oct 17, 2014
Mike Thomas/WILL

The candidates for the 13th Congressional District squared off in a debate at the WILL studios in Urbana.  Republican incumbent Rodney Davis  and Democratic challenger Ann Callis promoted themselves as problem-solvers ready to reach across party lines.

They concurred on some issues, like forming a bipartisan commission for Social Security reform.

On immigration reform, Callis responded to a tweet from an undocumented college student, and noted what she was told during a visit to the University of Illinois.

ronnycox.com

His first big acting gig had him playing in a banjo duel (even though he's really playing guitar.) He went on to star in movies like Total Recall and Robocop, often playing the villain. But Ronny Cox says his greatest love is for music. He's bringing that passion to Springfield on Saturday, when he'll play a solo show at The Hoogland. Cox took some time to talk to us about his acting career, his greatest influences, and more:

 The Illinois Department of Public Health has activated a hotline to answer the public's questions about Ebola.  

Department Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck announced the hotline Thursday. It will be managed by staff from the Illinois Poison Center who will be able to answer questions about the virus and the state's response.  
 The hotline will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Operators will answer questions about how Ebola is spread, who's at risk, when someone should go to a doctor and other topics.  

The hotline number is 800-889-3931.  

WSIU

Landowners in southern Illinois' Wayne County are suing the state, saying its lengthy process before issuing permits for high-volume oil and gas extraction is costing them money.  

The lawsuit filed Wednesday on behalf of seven households names Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller.  

A state legislative panel is trying to sort out rules for how developers would deploy hydraulic fracturing, or ``fracking,'' under an Illinois law approved last year.  

Ferguson demonstrators
Chris McDaniel/St. Louis Public Radio

The idea of requiring police to wear body cameras has been a hot topic after the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. On Friday, a group of Illinois lawmakers will take up the issue.

Advocates of body cameras say they can clear up the muddle of facts that often accompany police shootings, like the one in Ferguson. They also say police will be on better behavior if they know they're being watched.

Decatur Public Schools issued a statement today saying a staff member at MacArthur High, who traveled to Africa, has been cleared by a doctor.   The announcement came after concerns from parents over potential exposure to Ebola.  

The district says the individual was in South Africa, outside of the region where Ebola has been concentrated.  

The statement released says the staff member was deemed not to be at risk and after seeing their personal physician, was cleared to return to work. 

The district's statement follows:

flickr/dcjohn

Bet many of you didn’t know that the state of Illinois has the power to take over your local schools.

As in - fire school board members - even those you and your neighbors voted for. As in put a new superintendent in place. But two years ago - it did just that.

The state took over two school districts. One in East Saint Louis. The other in North Chicago...a low income and racially mixed suburb wedged between more the tony North Shore and Waukegan.

KOCH: You have to take actions when kids aren’t getting the basics. And that’s certainly what’s happening here.

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com 2010 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Worry represents our deep investment in our offspring whose health and happiness mean the world to us.  But there’s a steep cost to worry if it robs us of our enjoyment of our children.  A worried parent may be so consumed with fear that she’s unavailable to be present with her kids. 

A worried mom can’t celebrate her son’s learning to walk for fear that he’ll fall.  A worried dad feels sick at his daughter’s graduation, agonizing about her leaving for college.  Each development calls up a whole new set of troubles to anticipate.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

We have the latest from our series of scary stories by local writers. Millicent Bliesener tells us a bit about her background, and reads her entire story for us:

    

CLICK HERE to read the story.

More than 570,000 Illinois residents have registered to participate in an international earthquake drill on what Gov. Pat Quinn has proclaimed Great Shakeout Day.
 
 The Great Shakeout Earthquake Drill will take place around the world on
Thursday morning.
 
 The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is asking residents in homes, schools
and other places to take a minute to drop, cover and hold on. It is an action
they are advised to take during an actual earthquake.
 

Brad Schaive

Brad Schaive wants to make a few things clear about full contact armored fighting.  It's a sport and it's dangerous.   

Schaive would know.  He's a competitor.  He's traveled overseas to go up against some of the best in the world.  But now, the best are coming here. 

Battle of the Nations International Tournament of Chivalry will bring participants from the U.S. and five other countries to Springfield.  The event at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Livestock Center is from 12-3 Saturday. 

abrahamlincolnonline.org

The man who ran the school during Abraham Lincoln's time in New Salem is getting an honor in Kentucky.

A historical marker commemorating the life of an early 19th century educator who was a longtime friend of Abraham Lincoln will be unveiled next week in Greensburg, KY.  

The Kentucky Historical Society says the marker is in honor of William Mentor Graham, who was born in Green County and taught at Greensburg Academy before moving to Illinois. There he taught Lincoln arithmetic and grammar, and Lincoln lived with Graham for six months in 1833.  

Lisa Madigan
Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

This story first appeared as Illinois Issues' State of the State column in the October 2014 edition of the magazine.

HansenandYoung.com

On this week's WUIS / State Journal-Register Business Report, we discuss a one-time statehouse hangout that is on the auction block.  The former Baur's Restaurant is just south of the capitol complex. 

SJ-R Business Editor Tim Landis tells us the fact the auction has no minimum bid says something about the change in habits during legislative sessions.

We also discuss a judge's order that forces demolition of the Knox Flats building in Springfield and a financial update on Downtown Springfield Inc.

UIS

When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865, it began a period of mourning that was emphasized in many communities as his funeral train made its way from Washington D.C. to Springfield.

The 17-hundred mile journey had an impact on the nation and certainly those who witnessed it.  But through various eyes, the passing of Abraham Lincoln was seen differently.  

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