News

Obituaries

Apr 1, 2015

Janet Otwell

  A former director of the Illinois Department on Aging and former president of the Illinois League of Women Voters died February 23. She was 83. Otwell, who was a Democrat, was appointed to head the Department on Aging in 1984 by then-Gov. Jim Thompson, a Republican. She served in the job for seven years. Otwell went on to serve as Midwest director of AARP. During her time with the League of Women Voters, she coordinated political debates and lobbied unsuccessfully for approval of the Equal Rights Amendment by the Illinois legislature.
 

Schock Resigns Amid Controversies

Apr 1, 2015

After weeks of bad press and a looming ethics investigation, Republican Congressman Aaron Schock resigned from office at the end of last month. 

News Analysis - “In the Spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,” wrote Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1835.

Today, though, chances are a lot of young men and women and folks of all ages are caught up in more than romance, as April brings with it municipal elections across Illinois and a cornucopia of sports highlights, including NBA and NHL playoffs and the start of the 2015 baseball season.

University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch says if a proposed 31% state budget cut to higher education occurs, it would hamper the school's ability to carry out its mission. 

"It would be severely damaging," Koch said.  She added she is hopeful the eventual budget won't hit UIS so hard.  But she also expects less state support in the coming year.

"The reality is at this point we don't know where things will end up."

Lisa Ryan

Republicans are making an issue of Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth's ties to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, now that she's running for U.S. Senate.

In 2006, then-Gov. Blagojevich appointed Duckworth to head the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. Duckworth says she is proud of her time at the VA and says she is separate from the currently imprisoned Blagojevich.

Every year, students at UIS get together to give presentations and performances related to technology, the arts, and research. It's called the Stars Symposium. This year, the event is on Thursday and Friday on the Springfield campus. We were joined by students Irina Mason, Kylie Gilmore & Michael Lotspeich to talk about it: 

Tim Landis talks with Bill Wheelhouse about 10 national conventions coming to Springfield this year:

Today, we have the story of a man who spent 20 years in prison for a rape that DNA evidence later would prove he didn’t commit.

We also hear from a woman in a different case – she was raped and accidentally helped put the wrong man behind bars.

Those born at the tail end of the baby boom (1957-1964) have held an average of 11.7 jobs between the ages 18 to 48.    The Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that almost half of the jobs come before the person was 24.     I fall into the category and between the ages of 18 to 48  I held 10 jobs.   At least six of them came between the ages of 18-24.

Take a look at some of the stats.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Editor's note appended.

Last week’s short-term budget fix underscores tensions between some Democratic lawmakers and the new Republican governor. House and Senate Democratic leaders urged their members to support the appropriations, but many didn’t. Some Hispanic legislators and members of the Legislative Black Caucus voted against the budget legislation, which funded programs several of them said were important to their respective constituents.

A former State Representative and Lieutenant Governor candidate from Quincy says she won't seek an open congressional seat. 

Jil Tracy issued a statement today that says she won't try for the Republican nomination in the 18th congressional district.   

Tracy left her position in the Illinois House to team up with Kirk Dillard as he ran unsuccessfully for Governor last year.    

Tracy indicated she talked with her family about a political bid to replace Aaron Schock and decided against it.  

(Information in the following story is from: Chicago Sun-Times, http://chicago.suntimes.com/)  

A new TV show is set to focus on the grandchildren of a couple who lost six kids in a 1994 van crash linked to the investigation and conviction of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the show about the Tennessee-based Willis family will premiere May 5 on TLC.  

Tammy Duckworth

U.S Sen. Mark Kirk will face a challenge from Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who announced Monday she'll run for the seat. It's unknown who else will vie for the spot, but it's already expected to be a tight race.

Duckworth, who was elected to the U.S. House in 2012, took to YouTube to declare her candidacy.

"I'm running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 because it's time for Washington to be held accountable, and to put Illinois' families and communities first," she said in the video.

APL

Spring is here... and love is in the air.

But that's not necessarily a good thing when it comes to stray and feral cats.  This is the time of the year when unwanted litters wind up at the Animal Protective League in Springfield.  Last year, about 1,000 animals were brought to APL.  Only about half are adopted.  The no-kill shelter has launched an effort to help the situation.

Amanda Vinicky

He was 23. 

I was 23. 

He was in the early stages of a quick run up the political ladder, and after a hard-fought election becoming a full-fledged member of the Illinois House.

I was an intern for WUIS and Illinois Public Radio, days (literally) into my first attempt at covering state government and politics. 

Doing a profile of the youngest-ever legislator elected to the General Assembly on his inauguration day, on Jan. 12, 2005 seemed a fitting assignment.  

The Blen / Creative Commons, flickr

 Legislators are trying to protect kids from measles, without offending anti-vaccine parents.

The outbreak of measles at a Palatine learning center in February has lawmakers wanting to protect children, but it's a politically sensitive topic.

When Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno presented her proposal to a legislative committee, she was upfront about her desire to not step on the toes of with parents who choose to not vaccinate their kids, while at the same time wanting to protect children.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Illinois General Assembly this week approved a fix for Illinois short-term budget problems, but deeper issues remain. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock took his final vote in Congress and gave a farewell address. Daily Herald Political Editor Mike Riopell joins the panel to discuss that and other topics on this week's edition of State Week.

Will Rogers Institute

That headline is a quote from Will Rogers. It was on a poster I had hanging in my bedroom as a kid, and I took it with me when I went to college. It's been my favorite quote forever. And today, here's a column by  Fareed Zakaria that provides some stats for that. It's an interesting perspective. Check it out.

Rodger Heaton
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Two Chicago-area cousins accused of trying to help the so-called Islamic State made their first appearance in court Thursday. A top Illinois law enforcement official says the state's National Guard worked with federal authorities to prevent an attack.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

A task force meant to overhaul Illinois’ criminal justice system is meeting for the first time Thursday in Springfield.

Gov. Bruce Rauner briefly addressed the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, which he created last month by executive order, setting out an ambitious goal for emptying Illinois prisons.

Amanda Vinicky

Republican Bruce Rauner has signed a temporary budget fix -- his first law since becoming governor earlier this year. 

Illinois' budget has a $1.6 billion dollar gap --- the result of a spending plan Democrats passed in the spring; some had hoped then for a post-election tax increase that never came to fruition.

Democratic Senator Heather Steans of Chicago says this will fill that gap.

Lee Strubinger/WUIS

Illinois' Congressional delegation is trying to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency to revise how it distributes aid after natural disasters. As WUIS has previously reported, the lawmakers tried before to no avail.

When a tornado touched down in southern Illinois several years ago, devastating the small town of Harrisburg, FEMA turned down Illinois' request for disaster assistance.

supersuckers.com/photos

Tune in to this edition of The Scene, where I'm joined by fellow arts & culture reporter - Scott Faingold of the Illinois Times:

  Events discussed this week include:

WUIS

Often times, art serves the purpose of being something nice to look at - a painting or picture to add some beauty in the world. Other times, it's designed to make you think about issues facing society. A show currently on display at the UIS Visual Arts Gallery in Springfield has plenty of pretty artworks - including images of plants and flowers. But it's meant to get the audience thinking about genetic engineering.

Savethemill.org

For decades, the Mill restaurant was a mainstay along Route 66 in Lincoln.  Known for its fried schnitzel, as well as its architecture resembling a small Dutch windmill, the Mill remained open until 1996. 

It sat vacant for a decade, but was saved from demolition. Fundraising led to repairs.  But more work is needed.

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

A temporary budget fix is in the hands of Illinois Senators, who are expected to vote on the plan tomorrow. County courts, daycare providers who care for low-income kids, and the department of corrections' payroll for guards -- are nearing the end of their budget ropes.

After weeks of deliberations, the House on Tuesday hurriedly passed a stopgap for the $1.6 billion hole in the current year's budget, which ends June 30.

The Senate appears poised to do the same; though leaders, like Senate Pres. John Cullerton, say they're still working to get the votes.

Lisa Ryan

Advocates for people with disabilities gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday to show support for community-based living.

Bridget Brown is a public speaker who has down syndrome. She helped lead a rally calling on lawmakers to get rid of state institutions that house people with disabilities.

"A champion is a person who fights for a defenseless person, a protector, advocate and a warrior," she said to the crowd. "You are a champion!"

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS

 A measure pending in the Illinois legislature would give parents the right to have their children skip the standardized test associated with the Common Core curriculum. The plan proposed by Democratic Representative Will Guzzardi, of Chicago would require schools to honor written requests from parents for their kids to skip the PARCC test. Currently, students themselves can refuse testing, if they're able and willing to ask, but Guzzardi says there’s no policy telling schools what to do with those kids.

day laborer protest
Carlos Fernandez / flickr.com/chicagojwj

An Illinois lawmakers wants to find out whether day labor and temp agencies are discriminating against certain workers. Legislation would require the companies to take daily attendance — including collecting racial information. The data would be used to track which workers get placed and which are turned away.

WUIS

People with autism can sometimes find it difficult to interact with others. That can make getting a job even harder. But there is a place where on the job training can open the horizons of both workers and customers.

If you find yourself off South Sixth Street you may have missed The Noll Café located at the Noll Medical Pavilion in Springfield. The café ran by The Hope Institute offers healthy alternatives for morning and lunchtime patrons.

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