News

Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, is attempting to swallow up the chemical operations of Syngenta, the world’s largest producer of pesticides and other farm inputs. The proposed deal signals a change in focus for the agricultural giant, and could have ripple effects across farm country.

By its own admission, Monsanto lags behind in chemistry research. To boost its research in chemistry, and possibly find new ways to combine chemicals and biotech crops, Monsanto wants to buy the Swiss chemical company.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

For as much as we talk about him and the several things he has a part in ( ie: Black Sheep, F**k Mountain, Looming, South Town Studio...) it's actually pretty amazing Scott and I haven't had Brandon Carnes in-studio yet. He couldn't have come at a better time. This week, he tells us about Looming's record release show on Friday, his incredibly absurd and offensive project called Diaper Rash (which some would also call quality performance art), and what it's been like taking over Black Sheep in Southtown. Tune in! 

Amanda Vinicky

  An effort to get billions of dollars to social services agencies could be doomed, despite approval Tuesday by an Illinois House committee. The bipartisan standoff may again block money that would provide low-income people with shelter and food, help homeless veterans, and screen women for cervical cancer.

Just last week, in a rare display of cohesion, Republican Senators joined Democrats in voting to spend $5 billion dollars for those needs. It was, in a sense, like spending free cash: it all came from the feds.

Food-a-rama at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Top political leaders say Illinois' lack of a budget won't put a dent in plans for the upcoming Illinois State Fair.

The fair in Springfield is set to kick off with the twilight parade on Thurs., Aug 13. When asked if there's a chance a budget will be in place by then, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan responded by saying it's possible.

"If everybody’s reasonable, and everybody functions in moderation and not in the extreme," he said last week. "And since we’re in continuous session..."

woman at Capitol with "People Not Politics" sign
Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Illinois is in is seventh week without a state budget. How did it get to this point, and why? 

For this segments of The Players -- all about who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to -- Amanda Vinicky rehashes with Rachel Otwell. 

SARAH KELLOGG | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio, Rachel Lippmann, has been following the events in Ferguson after the shooting death of Micheal Brown for the year since it happened. Protests emerged yesterday around the anniversary of that event - where an unarmed black teen was killed by a police officer. A state of emergency has been called and protests are expected to linger on throughout the week.      

Illinois State Geological Survey- Sam Panno

During one of the heavy rains this summer, a motorist in Pike County was killed when he drove into an area of roadway that had collapsed.   A couple of years ago, a golfer in southwestern Illinois escaped serious injury when the ground collapsed underneath him and sent him into a 20 ft. crevice.     They were both the result of sinkholes, which can occur naturally in some parts of Illinois and can occur elsewhere due to man made causes.

University of Illinois Public Affairs

Illinois’ popular truth-in-tuition law was designed to keep college affordable. Since 2003, parents have banked on Illinois’ popular truth-in-tuition law that guarantees their kids’ tuition rate will remain stable for at least four years.

James Applegate, director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, says that allows families to plan their finances, making the state’s public universities an attractive option. 

But think about it: 

Amanda Vinicky

Many Chicago residents recently received a piece of mail criticizing their state legislator. That's a routine part of politics, but these flyers are getting special attention from one of Illinois' top politicians.

As Chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois, House Speaker Michael Madigan's organization frequently sends campaign brochures attacking Republicans. This time -- it's Madigan, and his fellow Democrats, who are the targets.

"So these are mailers that came into my district," Madigan said at a recent conference, as he held them up.

Bruce Rauner
brucerauner.com

  Illinois' legislature and the governor remain at a standoff, as Illinois enters its seventh week without a budget. 

The budget dispute isn't really about the budget, per say. Rather, Gov. Bruce Rauner says that Illinois needs structural changes; only then will he talk about revenue to prevent massive cuts. Democrats refuse to go along with Rauner's demands, as they say it'll hurt the middle class.

On Rauner's wish-list:

-helping businesses by easing up on when a firm has to pay if a worker is injured, and restrictions on civil lawsuits

L. Brian Stauffer / University of Illinois News Bureau

The University of Illinois today released a batch of emails exchanged between Chancellor Phyllis Wise, Provost Ilesamni Adesida, spokesperson Robin Kaler, and others, discussing how to handle the university's job offer to Steven Salaita. The Board of Trustees voted not to approve Salaita, due to his Twitter postings about the Israeli conflict in Gaza. 

Five weeks into the new fiscal year, and Illinois still has no spending plan in place.  While many state functions continue to shuffle along, many services and businesses are folding.   And there seems to be no end in sight.  Chris Mooney, Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, joins the panel.

If you want your kids to get into an Ivy League school, you might want to read this fascinating story from Fast Company. And btw, my kids call me mom. 

http://www.fastcompany.com/3049289/most-creative-people/use-these-two-words-on-your-college-essay-to-get-into-harvard

Tune into The Scene this week and hear pals and founders of the Downhome Music Festival in Springfield talk about how far their efforts have come over the past 5 years, and what you can expect if you attend this weekend. 

Food-a-rama at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois State Fair will go on next week. That’s even though the budget stalemate has left officials without the means to fully pay for it.

If you go by the book, state government executives aren’t supposed to spend money unless the legislature specifically authorizes it. But the standoff between the Republican governor and Democratic legislative leaders has meant there is no budget.

Nevertheless, state fair leaders say they’ll find a way to make sure the show goes on.

Courtesy of Gwen Harrison

Ted Harrison is proud that his son, Malik, plays football for Eastern Illinois University on a full scholarship. But ask Harrison about his son’s history of concussions, and he’s not sure he knows the exact number. He thinks the first one occurred during an afternoon practice early in Malik’s playing career at Springfield High School.

The Harrisons weren't notified by the coaching staff.

“We were alerted by Malik," Harrison says. 

Philip Nelson
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois officials say the threat of bird flu required limits on poultry at this year’s Illinois State Fair.

This strain of avian influenza entered the U.S. last December. So far it’s infected flocks in all the states surrounding Illinois.

State Department of Agriculture Director Philip Nelson says it’s resulted in 48 million birds either dying or being killed. Because of that, he says bird exhibitions at the state fair will be limited to Illinois birds.

“We’re doing it as a precaution, for the most part just to protect our poultry industry in this state," he says.

University of Illinois

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise says she is resigning over concerns that what she called ``external issues'' involving her are a distraction to the university.  

University President Timothy Killeen said in an announcement Thursday he will appoint an interim chancellor to take over Wise's duties. Her resignation is effective Aug. 12.  

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

A hand-held 8 millimeter movie camera captured flickering images of my first day of preschool several decades ago.  Then came family video cameras, a new innovation when my children were young.  I remember the suitcase-sized Betamax we lugged around to school concerts and baseball games.  Our focus and video quality were lousy, but we did manage to lay down a primitive pictorial record of our children’s early lives.

courtesy of Anna Bussing

It's a story as old as time: Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Tragedy ensues. In modern day, a story like West Side Story, which throws in violence and racial tension for good measure, is just as timely as ever. It's being performed at The Muni for the first time in nearly 15 years, and opens this weekend. (Show times and tickets, here.)

WWW.HOMESPUNREPUBLIC.COM

Back in 2012, I was excited to visit the Vinegar Hill Mall in Springfield and talk with the people who were setting up Donnie's Homespun Pizza.  My report highlighted the fact that unlike the previous Pizza Machine - Homespun wanted to focus on drawing in bands and utilizing the huge stage on the lower level. 

wuis

What will happen if Illinois' largest public employees union and Governor Bruce Rauner can't reach new contract terms? That may depend on the outcome of another battle in Springfield -- this one between Rauner and legislators.

In the past, both sides have had some sort of trump card at their disposal if negotiations broke down: unions members could strike, a governor could "lock" them out. A measure approved by the General Assembly would take away those options, leaving it to an arbitrator.

Should criminals bear the cost of their own rehabilitation?

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

State employees have begun receiving pink slips, as a budget impasse looms -- a total of 171 workers will lose their jobs. Workers have gotten notice that they'll be out of work by the end of September.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

A bipartisan legislative commission has rejected Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal to close two state facilities.  

On a pair of 7-2 votes, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability issued non-binding decisions against shuttering the Illinois State Museum and the Department of Corrections' Hardin County Work Camp in southern Illinois.

IHPA

It takes a lot to upstage Abraham Lincoln.  But if anyone could, it might have been Marilyn Monroe.

The actress visited the small east central Illinois town of Bement, in Piatt County, 60 years ago this week.  Bement is known for being the site where Lincoln and Stephen Douglas met to plan their famous debates.  But in 1955, it was Marilyn's town. 

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Local property taxes would be frozen for two years under a measure approved Tuesday by the Illinois Senate. That's on Gov. Bruce Rauner's wish-list, but Republicans are still against the plan.

After a failed attempt last month, Democratic Senate President John Cullerton shepherded his proposal through.

How much money local governments could ask taxpayers for would be stuck for a couple years -- something Rauner, a Republican, insists happen before he'll negotiate with Democrats on the budget.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS / Illinois Issues

  The governor and Democratic legislators yesterday came to a budget agreement, but only a minor one. A broader stalemate continues.

Anything to do with state spending this year has pretty much been split down party lines. Democrats passed a spending plan, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed almost all of it. That's what has Illinois into its second month without a budget. Then, yesterday, a thaw. Senators -- from both parties -- voted to spend $5 billion dollars, of federal money; the state just serves as a pass through.

John J. Kim, Chicago Tribune

Black mold, crumbling plaster, leaking ceilings, broken stairs... A home with these problems probably doesn't sound like the ideal residence for a multimillionaire like Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. But that's exactly the issues that have cropped up after years of neglect at the Executive Mansion, aka the Governor's Mansion, in Springfield, which is 160 years old. 

Al Riddley
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Non-profit groups say the ongoing fight over the state budget could lead to tragic consequences for thousands of Illinoisans.

The agencies have state contracts for everything from taking care of people with disabilities to placing children in foster care. But the partisan fight over state spending means they're not being paid.

Al Riddley, on the board of the Illinois Partners for Human Service, says the groups are being led on a "death march."

"Perhaps it's time to change our state motto from 'Land of Lincoln' to 'We Don't Care,'" Riddley says.

Pages