News

Little_brown_bat;_close-up_of_nose_with_fungus,_New_York,_Oct._2008._(5765048289).jpg

A disease responsible for the deaths of millions of bats has spread in Illinois.

The white-nose syndrome gets its name from a fungus that grows on affected bats' noses. Scientists say infected bats often show odd behavior - like taking daytime flights - when they're supposed to be hibernating. It's suspected that depletes their fat reserves, and causes the bats to become emaciated, and eventually die. 

Flickr.com/hellie55

In this day and age when people put a lot of effort into making their videos or news stories viral,  there's one sure-fire way to garner some extra attention - put a cat in it. Instagram is full of pictures of cats, and your Facebook news feed likely sees a cat video from time to time. Grumpy Cat is a household name, and face. But what implication does this have with the quality of news we receive? Is it a sign that we as a society are dumbing down? Or is there more to it?

Amtrak

Tim Landis and Bill Wheelhouse chat about work on high speed rail and possible funding cuts for Amtrak in Illinois.

Illinois House Republicans

Republican Tim Butler is being sworn in today as the new state representative in the 87th district.  That includes portions of Sangamon, Logan, Menard and Tazewell counties.  

Butler, who lives in Springfield, says he understands it will be a contentious session regarding the state's budget.  He admits he's still learning the issues.  But he says he'll listen to all sides.

"I have friends on both sides of the aisle.  I have conservative friends and liberal friends. I have friends in the governor's office.  I am going to have an open door and an open mind," he said.

Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock has reimbursed the U.S. government for more than $1,200 to travel to a Chicago Bears football game last November.  

A spokesman said late Monday that Schock wrote a check to cover the costs of the trip. The congressman previously charged the private air travel to his House office account, which is funded by taxpayers.  

Newly released congressional expense reports show Schock charged more than $14,000 in private air travel last fall. Those costs add to a list of several flights he took on planes owned by donors.  

School is canceled today in:

Springfield Schools

Rochester

Ball-Chatham

New Berlin

Pleasant Plains

Tri-City

Auburn

Edinburg

Petersburg-PORTA

Athens

Jacksonville

Greenview

Beardstown

A-C Central

Triopia

Taylorville

Lincoln Land Community College delaying opening until 10 a.m. at all campuses

Benedictine University delaying opening until 10 a.m.

Springfield Mass Transit District has suspended bus service.

Amanda Vinicky

Sweeping legislation intended to combat a heroin epidemic has been introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators.

Before he became a state legislator, Republican Rep. John Anthony was a cop in Champaign, and a sheriff's deputy in Kendall County.

courtesy of Mt. Carmel High School

Rehearsing her students for the big spring musical, Kim Mandrell has crossed two huge worries off her list: She's decided not to have Mary Poppins fly - and this year, for the first time ever, she doesn't have to fret about the safety of the audience.

The Illinois Attorney General released a list of the top ten consumer complaints.   The Federal Trade Commission has also released its list.    The number of complaints to the Feds:

List of consumer complaints to Federal Trade Commission CLICK TO ENLARGE. Edit | Remove

The Illinois Attorney General's office is out with its annual top ten list of consumer complaints to A-G's office.

CATEGORY

# OF COMPLAINTS

1. Consumer Debt (mortgage lending, debt collections, credit cards)

3,655

2. Identity Theft (fraudulent credit cards and utility accounts, bank fraud)

2,617

3. Telecommunications (wireless service, local phone service, cable/satellite)

2,162

Gov. Pat Quinn has called for the closing of Tamms Correctional Center.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Some of the main architects of the Illinois law that seeks to save the state money by reducing workers' pensions have begun collecting pensions of their own.

On March 11, the Illinois Supreme Court will hear arguments for and against the pension overhaul signed into law late in 2013 by then-Gov. Pat Quinn. If it succeeds, Quinn, like other retired state employees, will see his the size of his future retirement benefits shrink, as the law does away with compounded cost-of-living increases.

“Illinois’ business climate outshines its regional rivals.”

A peek into a crystal ball, revealing future newspaper headlines after Illinois lawmakers embrace Gov. Bruce Rauner’s 44-point, State of the State, “Turnaround” manifesto?

Guess again. A leftover claim from former Gov. Pat Quinn’s failed campaign? Nope.

People

Mar 1, 2015

Rauner selects agency, board heads

During his first months in office, Gov. Bruce Rauner named several key members of his administration.

Essay – Cashing In On Cutting Carbon

Mar 1, 2015

U.S. clean carbon plan gives Illinois a chance for significant state revenue

Nobody likes taxes, and certainly not new taxes. So a carbon tax can be a tough sell. Does it really excite anybody to point out that a carbon tax might be a lot less bad than other state taxes? Well, perhaps it should. No matter how large or small you want the Illinois state budget to be, the state still needs some revenue. And collecting part of that revenue by using a state carbon tax could be like “free money” compared to costly state income taxes or sales taxes. 

Women’s Work

Mar 1, 2015

The rise of the female entrepreneur

The Raw Milk Underground

Mar 1, 2015
Abby Wendle

As the moon sets over a fresh layer of snow, Joe Zanger walks outside into the dark. He guides three cows into a damp shed and kneels down to take hold of Andi Pearl’s udder.

Zanger is a peddler of raw milk. In addition to chickens, two pigs, a beef calf and a donkey, he has three brown and white Guernsey cows that can each produce up to 10 gallons a day. He and his wife, Laura, serve it to their four children for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He donates a gallon to the coffee and juice table at church on Sundays.

Isaiah Milton
Alex Wroblewski

When young black males in poor inner-city areas are murdered, their cases are less likely to be resolved, particularly if a gun is involved.

That’s the finding of Alonzo DeCarlo, division chair of social and behavioral sciences at the Springfield campus of Benedictine University. His findings, after a look into 10 years of Uniform Crime Reporting data kept by the FBI, were published in January by the journal Contemporary Social Science.

State of Illinois

When she was a girl, Sydney Roberts wanted to follow her dad’s footsteps into a career in law enforcement. “I was always raised that you can be anything you want to be,” says Roberts, who heads the Illinois Secretary of State Police. “But you need to make yourself the best candidate you can be, so when opportunities come up, you’re the obvious choice.”

flickr/dnak

In 2009, Illinois enacted a law requiring the Department of Corrections and the Prisoner Review Board to use a risk-assessment tool to evaluate inmates. The agencies did not meet a 2013 deadline to get it up and running, and that failure is now the subject of a class-action lawsuit. The idea behind the risk-assessment tool is to make an objective analysis about whether an inmate poses a danger to the public.  

Poverty graphs
Social IMPACT Research Center / Heartland Alliance

The poverty rate in Illinois has held steady in recent years despite the fact that the nation has emerged from the Great Recession.

That’s according to a report issued recently by the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center. The group reported that the 14.7 percent poverty rate in Illinois for 2013, which is the most recent data available for the analysis, has been unchanged since 2012. The 2011 poverty rate was slightly higher at 15 percent.

Women are underrepresented in some academic fields because of stereotypes that make it seem that they are not as brilliant as men, according to a recent study produced by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Princeton University.

Author Thomas Gradel says when he first thought about the project that would become the book Corrupt Illinois: Patronage, Cronyism, and Criminality, he envisioned it as an encyclopedia of corruption. But his collaborator Dick Simpson couldn’t picture that approach.

Lawmakers in Springfield are renewing efforts to pass legislation that would ban the practice of sexual orientation conversion therapy for minors.

Strange as it seems, a volcano that erupted 200 years ago in Indonesia may have been a major factor leading to Illinois’ 1818 statehood.

As Baby Boomer residents age, and they and their parents’ generation live longer, Illinois’ infrastructure plans may have to change to accommodate a much larger retired population.

President Barack Obama
The White House

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address included a proposal to grant free tuition for some community college students. Dubbed America’s College Promise, it’s the kind of idea that had a chorus of Illinois officials lining up to sing its praises.

The start of a new session brings with it the introduction of thousands of new bills. Much of the early legislation sponsored by members of the 99th General Assembly reacts to stories in the news, including measures on police tactics, red-light cameras and athlete concussions.

Brian Mackey
mattpenning.com / WUIS/Illinois Issues

News Analysis — Gov. Bruce Rauner made a stunning declaration last month in his State of the State address.

“The conditions in our prisons are unacceptable,” Rauner said. “Inmates and corrections officers alike find themselves in an unsafe environment. It’s wrong.”

Jamey Dunn headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / Illinois Issues

When I was a teenager, I came home one day to find monarch butterflies covering a tree in my parents’ backyard. Hundreds of them had swarmed the leaves and branches. And there they sat, opening and closing their brightly painted wings in the sun.

Republican County Leaders Saturday selected Tim Butler as a replacement in the Illinois 87th House District.  He'll fill the seat Rich Brauer held until he resigned to take a job with the Rauner Administration.
Butler has served as an aide to Congressman Rodney Davis, as his District Chief of Staff. Previously, he worked for Congressman Ray LaHood.
 GOP Leaders from four counties that make up the district (Sangamon, Logan, Menard and Tazewell) accepted applications over the past week before unanimously selecting Butler.

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