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A longtime aide to top Democratic officials in Illinois has died.   Gene Callahan passed away Monday morning at the age of 80 at his Springfield home.   Callahan worked for Alan Dixon, Paul Simon and Sam Shapiro. 

In an interview with the Lincoln Presidential Library's Oral History Program in 2011, Callahan talked about he was most proud of during his time in government:

  Summer is a time lawmakers can work on legislation that didn't move anywhere during the General Assembly's spring session. One of those proposals would require schoolchildren be read their Miranda Rights.

It happens in schools across Illinois: one student pushes another in a hallway, or there's a full-fledged fight.

Often, police, based on- or off-campus will come break up the altercation. That means an official police report will be filed.

Bruce Rauner
Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says money channeled through the Cayman Islands and connected to his business dealings had no impact on his personal tax rate.  

Rauner spoke to reporters Sunday, the day a published report detailed how three of his five holdings in the Caribbean were tied to GTCR, a Chicago-based private equity firm he helped found.  

The Chicago Sun-Times  cited a comparison of investments Rauner listed on a state economic disclosure form with the online corporate registry maintained by the Cayman Islands government.  

Illinois Dept. of Agriculture

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is criticizing Gov. Pat Quinn's agriculture director.
 
Lee Enterprises Newspapers' Springfield bureau reports that Rauner did not mention Bob Flider by name in outlining his agriculture plans. But he said the agency's director must ``have first-hand farming
experience.''
 
Flider was named director of agriculture after he lost a 2010 re-election race
for the Illinois House. He then voted for Quinn's 67 percent income-tax increase
after earlier opposing it.
 

13th District candidate for Congress Ann Callis has invited the new Veterans Affairs Secretary to visit VA facilities in the district.

Callis, a Democrat,  sent a letter to Robert McDonald this week.  In it, she specifically mentions facilities in Springfield and Decatur along with St. Louis' John Cochran Hospital. 

Langfelder campaign

Springfield City Treasurer Jim Langfelder has announced he will run for Springfield mayor next year.  The son of former mayor Ossie Langfelder says the theme of his campaign is simple:

"You should do what's best for the city.  That's what it's all about.  That's how I ran the treasurer's office, to do what's in the best interest, protecting city funds, putting in safeguards and changing the way we do business in the treasuer's office.  And if you do that, everything else takes care of itself," Langfelder said. 

flickr/jetsandzeppelins

If you thought last month was unseasonably mild in Illinois, you were correct.  In fact, it tied the record for the coolest July. 

State climatologist Jim Angel says this July matched the one in 2009 for cool temperatures.  
The statewide average was 70.3 degrees, a big departure from what is usually a hot and sticky time in the midwest.

UIS

University of Illinois Springfield Athletics unveiled a new logo and brand identity today.   It will be phased in over the next 3 years on athletic uniforms, beginning with the men's basketball and baseball teams. 
The tagline "Rise Here, Rise Now" was also introduced.

You'll begin seeing it more in marketing, including plans to hang a banner in the White Oaks Mall and a billboard along Sixth Street.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, discussion of the so-called "Millionaire's Tax" advisory referendum on the November ballot.  Also, ethics violations at the State Fair.

glorianachamberchoir.org

A new professional vocal ensemble will hold its first concert Sunday in Springfield.  The Gloriana Chamber Choir features several who teach music and voice as well as others. 

The Conductor and Artistic Director Dr. Elizabeth W. Zobel of Blackburn College is the founder and she spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford about the endeavor. 

The choir performs at 4 p.m. Sunday August 3 at the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield.  The performance will feature English music. 

Harvest Public Media

  When ever food prices start to rise – even a little – the national news finally starts doing stories about agriculture. We get frantic calls from editors in New York and Los Angeles – will they ration bacon? Will there be enough beef for backyard barbeques? Will children get their milk?!

To me, all those stories are great big clichés – lots of speculation told with heavy breathing and a remarkable lack of insight. Rarely are Americans ever hit with significant food shortages and sky-high prices.

springfield-il-us.org

A budget cut is leading to a reduction in hours at many state historic sites. Officials say without more money, some sites could close completely.

This spring, lawmakers passed what they called a largely flat budget. One of the few areas of government to experience a significant funding cut was the Historic Preservation Agency, which runs dozens of sites, from the U.S. Grant Home in Galena to the Kincaid Mounds in far southern Illinois.

Peter Gray

The manager of the Illinois State Fair insists she did not personally consume more than 500 dollars worth of beer tickets she accepted last year. The violation resulted in a thousand dollar fine from a state ethics panel.

At a press event a week before the opening of the annual fair, Amy Bliefnick promoted the ongoing remodeling and landscaping taking place on the fairgrounds.

But her smiled faded when reporters asked about a recent state ethics investigation ... which said it was illegal to accept the beer tickets from a fair vendor.

University of Wisconsin

Illinois is placing tight restrictions on a new hepatitis C drug that costs $1,000 per pill. Medicaid patients must meet 25 criteria and get prior approval before the government health care program will pay for Sovaldi.

The drug can stop the liver-damaging virus, but it comes with a budget-straining price tag.  

flickr/LizMarie_AK

  About 1 in every 13 children has a food allergy, but many of them are unaware ... until they have a reaction. Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law Wednesday that makes it legal for a school official who isn't a nurse to administer drugs to quell an allergic episode.

Schools across Illinois increasingly don't have the funds to employ a full-time nurse. But under a 20-11 law that allowed the use of epinephrine in schools for kids with food allergies, the drug, frequently administered via EpiPen, could only be used by a nurse.

  Governor Pat Quinn now has the support of the two statewide teachers unions. The Illinois Federation of Teachers endorsed Quinn Wednesday despite the union's opposition to Quinn's ideas for pension changes.

The IFT is one of the groups suing Quinn for the pension overhaul law passed late last year that would reduce public employee benefits, including those for teachers.

But the union's president, Dan Montgomery, says the election is bigger than the ongoing lawsuit.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Authorities say they're investigating a pipe bomb that was found and destroyed Monday night in downtown Springfield. The Illinois Secretary of State Bomb Squad neutralized the bomb after it was found on the sidewalk outside of Brewhaus pub, on Sixth and Washington Streets.

Once local police were on the scene, the bomb squad responded by identifying the object, then disabling it in a water cannon.

Wikimedia Commons

  This November, Illinois voters will be asked whether millionaires ought to pay more in taxes. The plan is being sold as a way to raise money for education. But opponents see more political motives.

Governor Pat Quinn signed the measure at a suburban elementary school on Tuesday.

The so-called "millionaire's tax" would rake an additional three percent off personal income greater than a million dollars ... with that money going exclusively to schools.

city data .com

Illinois State Police say a man in central Illinois shot and wounded a police officer before being killed by troopers during a later exchange of gunfire.
 
State police did not immediately release the name of the suspect killed Tuesday
morning at a home just west of Pana in Christian County.
 
State police say that law enforcers from various agencies responded to the home
where someone reported the presence of an armed man.
 
Police say the man shot a Pana officer before fleeing to the home's roof, which

Archaeologists excavating near the McLean County Museum of History in Bloomington have unearthed part of the footprint of the 1836 courthouse where experts said Abraham Lincoln worked as an attorney.
 
 The discovery happened Monday on the first day of two to three weeks of archaeological work before construction starts on a new entrance into a planned
tourism center on the lower level of the history museum. Museum executive director Greg Koos says the find represents ``physical remains of an incredibly historical episode in McLean County.''
 

commons.wikimedia.org

  Officials at Chicago area rail transit agency Metra are being reprimanded for allowing workers to switch shifts without properly filling out paperwork. Illinois' inspector general says this practice could have led to fatigued conductors operating trains.

The so-called shift "swapping" created confusion at Metra, according to the office of the executive inspector general. In its three-year investigation, it concluded employees who were swapping shifts — usually to allow some to get a Saturday off — wouldn't fill out paperwork indicating they weren't working.

Flickr/aka_kath

  Two individuals are being fined for violating ethics rules in their capacities of running Illinois' two State Fairs. Both incidents involved free beer tickets.

The state's Executive Inspector General found John Rednour Jr., the former manager of the DuQuoin State Fair, guilty of soliciting free beer tickets from a vendor in 2012. According to a report, Rednour asked for "a roll or two" of beer tickets. The tickets were valued at $4 each, which would total $4,000 to $8,000, but the vendor did not comply.

flickr/medicalmarijuana-information.com

Illinois has set its regulations for medical marijuana in the state.   While, those who may benefit medically are looking forward to the substance becoming available, those who are interested in making money growing it and selling it are getting there ducks in a row.  Kurt Erickson, Springfield Bureau Chief for Lee Enterprises newspapers has been covering the issue he joined a roundtable discussion with Bill Wheelhouse, Amanda Vinicky & Brian Mackey.

Ill. Dept. of Agriculture

The University of Illinois Extension Service is now regularly surveying prices at farmers markets around the state.

According to The News-Gazette in Champaign the surveys of 11 farmers markets around Illinois are being conducted as part of a three-state effort that includes Kentucky and Tennessee.

The weekly price surveys are being published on the University of Kentucky Center for Crop Diversification's website.  

The idea is to give produce farmers an idea of what prices look like across the region.  

UIS Enforcing Campus Housing Requirement

Jul 28, 2014
Kaitie Devlin/WUIS

A closer look from student reporter Kaitie Devlin: 

About two years ago, the University of Illinois Springfield decided on a new mandate for student housing. The rule entailed that students must live on campus for their 1st and 2nd years of schooling. Even though the rule was made two years ago, the regulation was not implemented on campus, until now.

With the cost of housing along with more incoming students and their parents wanting to save money, could this requirement really be worth it in the long run?

Flickr/connor395

  The Illinois State Police graduated 37 state troopers today Friday, the last class the academy will graduate for a while. State police officials say they can't train more due to the state's budget.

The 37 cadets took their oath in the auditorium of the Illinois State Police Academy in Springfield — in the last graduation ceremony it'll see in a while. This class was the fifth to graduate in a year.

A new group had been scheduled to begin the 27-week training on June 15; instead the session never started.

NPR.

Federal officials say 305 unaccompanied children caught at the U.S.-Mexico border were placed with Illinois sponsors this year, but officials say hundreds more could be at shelters.  

The country faces a sharp rise in unaccompanied minors. They're placed at government shelters and then released to sponsors as they go through deportation proceedings. Often, sponsors are family members.  
The Chicago-based Heartland Alliance contracts with the federal government for area shelters and legal services. The group doesn't make shelter locations public for safety reasons.  

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week's topics include the Illinois Inspector General's investigation into possible political hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation.  Also, an overview of the state's rules and regulations regarding medical marijuana.

WUIS

  As Gov. Pat Quinn battles a lawsuit accusing his administration of political hiring, the state watchdog charged with investigating ethics violations is asking to get involved.

Confidentiality restrictions prevent the Inspector General from saying what he is or isn't looking into.

wikimedia commons

Illinois State Police say a driver was robbed on Interstate 55 near Litchfield by men who impersonated police officers.  

According to the Belleville News-Democrat the man told police he was pulled over around 10 p.m. Tuesday by a sports utility vehicle with a flashing red light on its dashboard.  

The man said that when he stopped, three men wearing ski masks held him at gunpoint as they robbed him of more than $5,000 in cash. The robbers then tied him up with duct tape and left him in his car along the highway.  

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