News

Kids Left Behind Bars

Feb 18, 2015
WBEZ

There’s a kid locked up in the Cook County juvenile jail right now who isn’t supposed to be there.

It happens all the time.  Even after a judge has ordered their release…lots of kids wait weeks, even months to be picked up.   Before you get angry about deadbeat parents out there ….

The kids we’re talking about here are wards of the state of Illinois…and their guardian…the one leaving them in jail…is the Department of Children and Family Services or DCFS.

In just the past few years this has happened to hundreds of kids:

Listen to reporter Rhonda Gillespie talk to Jamey Dunn about her story on funding for youth programs. 

Nearly three-dozen non-profit organizations — mostly in the Chicago area — were told Jan. 29 that money they were expected to get as part of an $8 million Youth Development grant had been blocked by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The new Republican governor has made a point of undoing as many of former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s lame-duck actions as possible, withdrawing promised funding, blocking contracts and rescinding executive orders.

Just how Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner plans to deal with Illinois' budget and its deficit largely remains a mystery. Rauner is set to finally unveil his ideas Wednesday, when he gives his budget address. However, the legislature's leaders got a preview the day before.

House Speaker Michael Madigan walked out the large, glass doors of the governor's antechamber, with this to say about his meeting with Rauner:

"The governor simply said that he's got some tough medicine to deliver."

Dusty Rhodes

Governor Bruce Rauner was scheduled to deliver the keynote address at a meeting of public school leaders today in Springfield. Instead, he sent his new education czar.  

Beth Purvis, a member of Gov. Rauner's transition team, had been in office just about two hours. In fact, her exact title hadn't been determined. But for the past 10 years, Purvis has been the CEO of the Chicago International Charter School. 

 

uis.edu

Faculty at the University of Illinois Springfield will be unionized for the first time in two decades. 

The campus last had a faculty union when it was known as Sangamon State University.  But that was disbanded when it became part of the University of Illinois in the mid 90's.  

137 faculty members voted in favor of a new union which will negotiate issues from wages and benefits to shared governance.  A final vote total was unavailable.

Rachel Otwell

WUIS is once again soliciting original writings from the Springfield-area. We are looking for stories that take a maximum of 4 minutes to read out loud (abbreviated versions are fine - we can post your whole story online.) Poets are also encouraged to submit.

We want stories that are at least loosely tied to the theme of spring - be they a rebirth or reinvention, or a story that is set during that time of the year. Use your imagination, get creative, and send your submissions to rotwe2@uis.edu with the subject line: SPRING STORY.

SJ-R

SJ-R Business Editor Tim Landis talks with WUIS' Sean Crawford about potential changes in the local restaurant scene. a delay in state tax return processing, a status update on home sales and a postscript for the Bel Aire Motel.

Size Matters

Feb 17, 2015
Kaytlin Jacoby
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

I have never been thin.  Since my earliest memory, “normal-size” clothing has not fit me.  I remember being seven, distressed that I had to shop the tired floral prints of the “husky” sizes.  I remember the day I was told that I was too big to wear two-piece swimsuits.  I remember that I stopped swimming entirely because no swim suit fit comfortably.  I remember wearing trendy clothes that were too tight in middle school because I wanted to wear the pretty outfits all the other girls wore.  I remember crying after a day of shopping because everything looked bad on me.  I remember averting

With the aim of spurring growth in Illinois' tech sector, Governor Bruce Rauner has created the Innovate Illinois Advisory Council.

A group of business leaders will hopefully bring new ideas to the table to help improve the climate for technology business growth in the state.

Co-chairs for the council are Laura Frerichs, director of the University of Illinois research park and Mark Glennon, a managing director of  the consulting firm Ninth Street Advisors.

The panel is to begin meeting this spring.

Midwest Travel: Hyde Park - Mr. Obama's Neighborhood

Feb 16, 2015
Luiz Gadelha Jr./flickr

Our series on midwest travel continues with a look at Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. 

Mary Galligan is a freelance travel writer whose latest article for the Illinois Times explores Hyde Park.  It's known now for being home to President Obama and his family, but there is a lot more to this area.

Read Mary Galligan's article in the Illinois Times.

Peoria Public Radio

Illinois requires high school students take four years of gym class, but a proposal in the Illinois Senate could allow some students to opt out.

Senate Bill 114 would allow local school boards to excuse students from physical education if they are taking two or more Advanced Placement, or AP, classes.

Senator Pamela Althoff says she's talked with parents who are concerned about getting their children into competitive colleges.

http://www.infouas.com/la-policia-de-california-dispuesta-a-emplear-drones/

A handful of states have already passed measures that would ban the use of drones to hunt or fish, and Illinois could be next.

Senator Julie Morrison sees her bill as a precautionary measure. She says hunting and fishing with drones hasn't yet become a problem in Illinois, but the Democrat from Deerfield wants to make sure it never is.

"Drones are a piece of technology that we are not completely prepared to deal with yet, but this will be one step forward," she said.

WUIS

Chris Abernathy walked out of an Illinois prison last week for the first time in nearly 30 years. 

The 48 year old had been serving time for the rape and murder of a 15 year old, Kristina Hickey. 

Abernathy's freedom came with the help of a group based at the University of Illinois Springfield.   The Illinois Innocence Project provided DNA testing that helped convince authorities to release Abernathy.

The Power Of Trying

Feb 16, 2015
Aron Suszko headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

I have always believed in something that few seem to grasp. Something that you wouldn’t expect. I believe in trying. Not success, not failure but simply trying. The power of trying does not make itself very apparent because there are too many people (myself included) that aren’t brave enough to step up to the challenge. When I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, I felt the world had dealt me a losing hand, and there was nothing that I could do. I slogged through life for the longest time, content that my fate of failure was sealed.

Bruce Rauner
Alex Keefe / WBEZ

Gov. Bruce Rauner's prescription for Illinois’ finances will finally be made known on Wednesday, when he gives his budget address. Legislators, state employees and social service agencies will no doubt pay close attention to what Rauner has to say. But after another big speech earlier this month made many go "gee," observers will also be listening for how he says it.

Host Jamey Dunn and guests Kent Redfield (UIS) and Bruce Rushton (IL Times) discuss Gov. Rauner's new executive order, Aaron Schock, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

CapitolView is a production of WSEC-TV/PBS Springfield, Network Knowledge.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has appointed the wife of a
top aide to a $121,000 post at the Department of Commerce and Economic
Opportunity.
 
Rauner's office Friday said Andria Winters of Chicago would be replacing Dan
Seals as the department's assistant director.
 
Winters' husband, Aaron, is Rauner's deputy chief of staff for policy.
 
Andria Winters previously worked at Motorola Mobility. Like her husband, she is
a former aide to U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and served on Rauner's transition team.
 

Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs

The possibility of budget cuts makes the future of agricultural fairs in Illinois unknown. A study released by the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs focused on the importance of county fairs to the state's economy.

Agricultural fairs rarely make a profit, and most are slowly using up their savings, if they had any. Bill Jennings, president of the Richland County Fair, says they are lucky to have a financial reserve for maintenance of the fairgrounds.

wikipedia

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has selected a Florida Democrat to lead Illinois' troubled Department of Children and Family Services.
 
George Sheldon ran Florida's Department of Children and Families from 2008 to 2011. He's credited with expanding adoption opportunities for gays and lesbians, reducing the number of children in state custody and making state records more
easily accessible.
 
Sheldon also served as an assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama.
 

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, Governor Rauner's efforts toward allowing government workers to stop paying union dues and toward revising the state's criminal justice policies.

Dusty Rhodes

Another effort for overhauling school funding is taking shape in the Illinois legislature. 

Jason Barickman, a Republican senator from Bloomington, says he’s going to introduce three pieces of legislation to tackle the state’s infamous education funding inequity. He describes the first piece as an “evidence-based model," which he believes will be supported by Governor Bruce Rauner.

Illinois Department of Transportation

Gov. Bruce Rauner's nominee to head the Illinois Department of Transportation was arrested for drunken driving in 2004.  

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers  reports Randy Blankenhorn failed a blood alcohol content test during a traffic stop in Sangamon County.  

According to court records, Blankenhorn pleaded guilty to DUI and received a year of supervision and a $795 fine.  

Tune into this week's Art Beat with the Illinois Times' Scott Faingold:

Events discussed include:

Listen to the WUIS broadcast of the 12th Annual Lincoln Legacy Lectures, recorded at UIS Brookens Auditorium in October - a presentation of the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership.  Hosted by Barbara Ferrara.

The UIS Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series calls on scholars and policy experts to talk about issues that engaged Abraham Lincoln and the citizens of his era, and issues that are still timely today.

wnij

Next week, Gov. Bruce Rauner will unveil his spending proposal. The non-partisan Civic Federation has some suggestions.

The Civic Federation’s Director, Laurence Msall, says Illinois’ budget isn’t just in bad shape; its condition is terrible ... and climbing out of it won’t be easy.

“These are not politically attractive answers. There are financial, reality-based suggestions on how the state can stabilize its finances,” he says.

Today, on Lincoln's birthday, we look back at an important moment in Springfield history. 

The date was April 19, 2005.  The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum opened, six months after the Library began operation.  President George W. Bush spoke at the ceremony.  

This coming April will mark the 10th anniversary of museum, which has become one of Illinois' top tourist attractions as well as a place for people to learn more about the man whose name is on the building.  

flickr/RobertKuykendall

Criminal charges won't be filed involving the shredding of internal Springfield police documents.  But the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor called the conduct in the case "embarrassingly incompetent."

The special prosecutor took the case on in 2013. A news release issued Wednesday stated "The reality of this case is that once charges are filed, the prosecutor must be able to prove all elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt."

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner visited a state prison Wednesday. It’s the first time a sitting governor has done that in years.

Rauner says an overhaul of Illinois’ criminal justice system a priority for his administration.

"The Department of Corrections is operating at more than 150 percent of its design capacity," Rauner says. "That is unsafe to both inmates and staff."

Michael Mayosky

A project meant to "art - ify" Springfield's city center may have hit a dead-end. The effort to add more murals kicked off a couple years ago. Now there's only a single incomplete one to show for it. The question remains if Springfield will join other cities in Illinois, and across the country, that can boast their downtowns as places where public art is highlighted. 

    

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Wednesday he would convene a commission to look at criminal justice policy.

State prisons in Illinois are at 150 percent of the capacity they were built to house. They also cost taxpayers $1.3 billion a year. And many inmates, once released, go on to commit more crimes. Rauner says that’s unacceptable.

"It is a vicious and costly cycle," Rauner says. "We need to make sure we are rehabilitating inmates, so they don’t commit crimes over and over again."

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