News

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Governor Bruce Rauner and Illinois’ biggest state-employee union have agreed to a two-month contract extension.

The union, known as AFSCME, represents 38,000 men and women — a significant share of the state workforce.

Its contract expired on June 30, but the latest "tolling agreement" will keep workers on the job through at least the end of September.

Professor Maria Krysan
University Of Illinois At Chicago

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a major opinion on housing discrimination. It determined that violations of the federal 1968 Fair Housing Act could occur even if intent to discriminate is not shown.

Meanwhile, the federal Housing and Urban Development administration announced new regulations that clarify the expectations of the act, which aims to limit racial bias in housing. They demand that cities and towns across the country analyze housing patterns for signs of racial discrimination and report the findings.

Flickr/aka_kath

The state fair in Springfield and the Du Quoin State Fair are scheduled to begin in August. But if there is no state budget in place, it's unclear how entertainment and vendors would be paid.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Last Friday night, I found myself back at a place I had visited several times before.  What was recently a since moved artist co-op on the corner of South Grand Avenue and Pasfield Street known as The Pharmacy is finding life as yet another incarnation. The bottom has become a tattoo parlor - the loft above is a new artist gallery and performance called The Studio. It's a collaborative effort of several creatives in the area. 

Flickr/aka_kath

Gov. Bruce Rauner is moving ahead with plans to hold the Illinois State Fair next month, despite the fact that there is no budget in place to pay for it.  

uis.edu

University of Illinois employees won't see pay raises, at least until a state budget is finalized. 

Nearly a month into the new fiscal year, the university is still waiting to see the impact of budget negotiations.

House Speaker Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Amid Illinois' ongoing budget battle, there was a rare moment of bipartisanship on Tuesday. Members of the Illinois House have voted to block a pay raise for themselves.

Lawmakers are scheduled to get an automatic pay hike this year, and Gov. Bruce Rauner has been relentlessly criticizing Democrats for not voting to block it.

House Speaker Michael Madigan — after recently refusing to talk about it — sponsored the legislation to prevent the pay raise. But he says it's still just another of Rauner's "diversionary" issue.

hilton.com

Spingfield's "skyscraper" will be changing labels at the end of the year.  Tim Landis and Bill Wheelhouse chat about the transition of the Springfield Hilton on the Business report.

Farmers count on chemical herbicides to keep their fields weed-free. But an international panel of scientists who studied two of the most heavily used farm chemicals to determine whether they could cause cancer, said exposure to weed-killing chemicals could come at a cost. In the last few months, scientists brought together by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or IARC, considered glyphosate and 2,4-D.

Il. Supreme Court website - state.il.us/court

Illinois may not be done with the 2013 law reducing state employees’ pensions after all. The Attorney General appears to be readying to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

ilga.gov

A state lawmaker who represents a large number of government workers says he remains against efforts to bring in an outsider to help negotiate a new union contract.  

Republican house member Tim Butler of Springfield says the matter should be decided in talks between the Rauner Administration and the union known as AFSCME.  He voted this spring against allowing an independent arbitrator to get involved:

Chicago Reader

Governor Bruce Rauner campaigned on a message of transparency. But now his lawyers are fighting attempts to disclose who he's meeting with -- sections of his schedule have been blocked.

Chicago Reader senior journalist Mick Dumke  would know -- he's tried to access that information.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

A new report details urban flooding problems in Illinois.  The report from the Department of Natural Resources says damage from urban flooding (flooding on higher ground outside a flood plain) cause more than $2 billion worth of damage between 2007-2014 in Illinois.

Several people commenting on my story last week: “Why Are Women Poor?” wrote that women in the story would not be in poverty if they had been married.

WUIS

More political posturing this week, but there seems to be little or no progress on resolving the state budget impasse as Illinois still has no legal spending plan in place.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Take a listen to The Scene with Scott Faingold of the Illinois Times and me! (And make sure you check out Scott's story about the proposed closure of the Illinois State Museum.)

Events discussed this week include:

Mitsubishi Motors says it plans to stop U.S. production at its facility in central Illinois and sell the plant.
 
Dan Irvin, tthe company's North American spokesman, said Friday that the Japanese automaker reviewed its global supply chain and decided it was necessary to end production at the plant and find a buyer.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

On Tuesday evening, Apple DeWeese was sitting in the front porch swing with her dad, Aaron, trying to explain how she's feeling about starting school.

"I'm not really excited," she said. "Mostly scared."

What's there to be scared of?

Officials with Mitsubishi Motors aren't confirming Japanese media reports saying the automaker will stop making vehicles at its central Illinois factory and try to sell the plant.  

Mitsubishi spokesman Dan Irvin based in Normal wouldn't comment beyond saying the company continually reviews its supply chain to make sure it remains competitive.  

Japan's leading business newspaper, the Nikkei, reported the news. Kyodo News also reported the plant will close. Both cited unnamed sources.  

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' unemployment rate continues to drop. That would seem to be good news, but the governor sees a dark cloud in that silver lining.

For the past 16 months, Illinois' unemployment rate has continually declined. The latest figures show numbers falling in every metro area. Statewide, the rate's 5.9-percent.

Good news for the economy, right? Not necessarily, says Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com / WUIS / Illinois Issues

A funny story involves an elderly Florida couple.  The wife hears a news report that an erratic motorist is driving the wrong way on Interstate 75.  She immediately calls her husband who she knows is traveling on that highway.  She tells him to be careful because there’s a driver going the wrong way on the interstate.  “One driver!” he yells, “Why, there’s HUNDREDS of them!”

Perspective means everything.  Especially in families, the way parents see their children—and interpret what they see—determines the reality of that child’s experience.

A stretch of central Illinois road may be re-named after one of baseball's greats.

The Illinois House has adopted a resolution that would designate a section of Route 24 in and near Peoria as the "Jim Thome Highway."

Thome hails from Peoria, and went on to a successful Major League Baseball career.

The area's State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, a Democrat, says Thome was a prolific hitter. He was on the Chicago White Sox when he reached the sluggers' gold standard of hitting 500 home runs.

William Holland was first appointed as auditor general in 1992.
Lane Christiansen

The search for a new state Auditor General has begun in earnest.

The Auditor General serves as Illinois governments' top internal investigator. It's a job that Bill Holland has held for more than two decades. But last month, he announced he's stepping down.

A bipartisan legislative commission says it's accepting applications for his replacement.

Lydia Loveless started making her first album at the age of 17. She's been acknowledged as one of the best up-and-coming artists by both Spin and Rolling Stone magazines. Her songs are hard to classify. She is able to mix honky-tonk with a grunge/punk and even pop sound. The 24 year old is a huge pop fan, counting Prince and Ke$ha among favorites. She's on Chicago's Bloodshot Records and her newest album is called Somewhere Else.

Cigarette vending machine converted to art dispenser.
Amanda Vinicky / WUIS - Illinois Issues

If you were to draw lines pointing in from Champaign, Springfield, Indianapolis and Effigham, they'd meet in Tuscola. The town's population of less than 5 ,000 may well double on weekends, when shoppers from all over central Illinois flock to its outlet mall.

Chad Kainz

The state may still be far from a budget deal, but the General Assembly was able to pass several criminal justice reforms in the spring legislative session.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

News Analysis — Six months into the new administration, we finally have a sense of what Gov. Bruce Rauner’s top priority really is.

artsalliance.org

Ra Joy  heads Arts Alliance Illinois, an advocacy group that represents hundreds of cultural groups and artists in the state. He was at the capitol this week with about 500 hundred other rally-goers, urging Governor Bruce Rauner and lawmakers to keep the Illinois State Museum open.

alastairwillis.com

The Conductor of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra is getting an early exit from his contract. Alastair Willis will remain on as a conductor through this season.

A note to symphony supporters says the ISO Board has agreed to accept Willis' request because of his desire to balance the demands of his international performance schedule. Willis is in the third year of a five year contract.     

A statement from the ISO Board President Carolyn Yockey says their goal is have candidates for the job conducting next year's symphony performances.

 

Illinois Issues is going digital.  Digital only.  Well, digital and broadcast.  Which means August will be the last printed magazine version of Illinois Issues.

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