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7:00 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Former Police Chief Talks About "Shredgate"

Credit wikimedia commons/Daniel Schwen

 

 

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Statehouse
6:30 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Illinois Lawmaker To Be Treated For Cancer

 An Illinois lawmaker has announced he will receive treatment for recently diagnosed esophageal cancer.  

State Rep. Frank Mautino of Spring Valley says his doctor found a mass in his esophagus during a routine physical in late January. The 52-year-old Democratic lawmaker says he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer after a biopsy was conducted in February.  

Mautino told The (Ottawa) Daily Times  during a phone interview on Monday that doctors have told him the cancer is 97 percent treatable.  

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Madigan Files To Drop Fair Share Suit
8:01 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Legal Battle Between Governor, Attorney General Begins

Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a legal motion to intervene in Gov. Bruce Rauner's federal lawsuit, seeking to rid of fair share dues.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

A legal battle over union fees is brewing, between Illinois Republican governor and Democratic Attorney General.

Illinois' Attorney General says Gov. Bruce Rauner had no authority to bring a fight over union dues to federal court. She's trying to dismiss the case.

Republican Gov. Rauner is trying to get rid of so-called "fair share" dues on two fronts: he's ordered state agencies to stop collecting them, and he's suing in federal court to toss out the underlying state law that requires them.

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Regional
5:35 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Innocence Project Works To Clear Name Of Waukegan Man

Angel Gonzalez
Credit Il Dept. of Corrections

A suburban Chicago man who spent 20 years in prison for abduction and rape has been exonerated after DNA evidence indicated he was wrongfully convicted.  

Despite the decision Monday by Lake County prosecutors to drop the case against 41-year-old Angel Gonzalez of Waukegan, the man was not allowed to walk away from Dixon Correctional Center.  

Gonzalez attended the hearing in Lake County Court. But he was sent back to Dixon, where he still faces a three-year term for a late 1990's conviction of damaging state property at another prison. 

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Health Desk
12:46 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Update On Ebola From A Local Infectious Disease Specialist

Credit cdc.gov

Ebola is still a concern to the health community - even though you're likely hearing less about it in the media. It is still possible the disease could spread to other countries. Dr. Janak Koirala  heads the division of infectious diseases at SIU School of Medicine. He will give a talk about the disease at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at UIS. (Info here.) He recently gave us an update about Ebola:

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Illinois Issues
12:18 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Special Funds Blur Budgeting Process

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

A version of the story first ran in Illinois Issues magazine in April 2012. It has been updated with new information.

The state’s complicated budget mess is a source of headlines for the media and headaches for those who administer state-funded programs and the politicians whose job it is to solve the problem. But most people — politicians, reporters and Statehouse commentators alike — only focus on four out of hundreds of funds when it comes time to craft the state’s budget each year.

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Statehouse
7:30 am
Mon March 9, 2015

Governor Names New Director Of Prison System

Governor Bruce Rauner has named an official with the U.S. State Department to lead the Illinois Department of Corrections.

A statement Monday from the Governor's office says Rauner selected 54 year old Donald Stolworthy to head Corrections.

According to the release from the Governor, Stolworthy has 15 years of corrections experience.  He currently works at the State Department in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs where he assesses foreign prison systems.

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Statehouse
5:09 am
Mon March 9, 2015

Durbin: Solitary Confinement Needs Improvement in U.S. Prisons

Credit flickr/meeshpants

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says a new report shows why the prison system needs to improve its use of solitary confinement.

Durbin, the Assistant Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate, says he's visited prisons that rely heavily on solitary confinement, including the now-closed Tamms Correctional Center in southern Illinois.

He says sometimes segregating prisoners is warranted. But he worries about an over-reliance because he says it can cause psychological damage for prisoners.

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Harvest Desk
4:14 am
Sat March 7, 2015

How Fish Could Change What It Means For Food To Be Organic

Farmed fish, like these rainbow trout, are at the center of a debate within the organic industry. (Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media)

When it comes to organic certification, there are strict guidelines for food producers to follow.

For an organic steak, the cow it came from has to be raised on organic feed and the feed mix can’t be produced with pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetic engineering.

Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in considering a set of rules for organic farmed fish. Several consumer groups, though, say the recommended rules don’t go far enough to meet the strict standards of other organic foods.

The feed for fish to eat is at the center of the debate.

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Statehouse
2:37 pm
Fri March 6, 2015

Durbin Wants To Extend Benefits To All Veterans' Caregivers

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin wants to expand benefits for injured veterans' caregivers. Currently, caregivers of those who served on or after September 11, 2001 can receive a stipend. Durbin wants to allow veterans who served before 9/11 to have the same eligibility.

The Family Caregivers Program costs about $36,000 a year per veteran, but Durbin says it's worth the price.

"It isn't just a matter of dollars and cents, it's a matter of doing the right thing," he said. "Our obligations to our vets don't end after they come home, our obligations continue."

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State Week
1:47 pm
Fri March 6, 2015

Listen to State Week - March 6, 2015

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, continuing debate among lawmakers over how to fix the state's budget woes, a Senate plan to sweep special funds into the general revenue fund for FY2015, and Governor Rauner continues to push for "right to work zones".

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economy
10:11 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Getting and Keeping The Jobs Average To 300K

I am using 300,000 as the measurement to watch for monthly job creation in the United States.    Mainly because a guy who appeared smart and seemed to back it up said last fall that's what the nation needs to average to kick the economy into the next year.

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Business
7:35 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Nissan Recalls More Altimas

Credit nissanusa.com

 Nissan is recalling 625,000 more cars in the U.S. as part of a growing problem with faulty latches that can allow hoods to fly open while cars are moving.
 

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Education Desk
6:28 am
Fri March 6, 2015

House Speaker Creates School Funding Task Force

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

 Illinois' longtime House speaker is forming a bipartisan task force to examine a way to fix the state's  school funding formula.  

Michael J. Madigan's office announced Thursday the panel would include lawmakers from various regions of the state. It's scheduled to meet for the first time next Wednesday in Springfield.  

The last major school funding formula overhaul took place in 1997. While there's wide agreement the current formula doesn't effectively distribute state dollars to students across the state, how it should be changed remains under debate.  

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Battle Over Fair-Share Dues
5:06 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Unions Take Rauner To Court

Illnois unions fought unsuccessfully against a law that reduces workers' pensions -- that law will have its day in court next week. Now, they're trying to fend off an attempt by Gov. Bruce Rauner to eliminate fair-share fee collection, by taking him to court.
Credit wuis

Unions are taking Gov. Bruce Rauner to court over his attempt to get rid of so-called "fair-share" dues.

Illinois law requires workers who are not members of unions to nonetheless pay a fee, for the benefits unions secure on their behalf.

Rauner had issued an executive order eliminating that requirement.

But labor leaders says that's a violation of the separation of powers; in other words, a governor can't unilaterally toss out a state law.

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The Scene
4:28 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Art Beat: Three Art Shows & Rock N' Roll

artwork by Arjan Zazueta
Credit courtesy of the DEMO Project

Listen to this week's Art Beat with Scott Faingold of the Illinois Times:

Events discussed on this edition include:

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The Scene
2:33 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Full Audio: Poetry Out Loud - Central IL Regional Contest 2015

Last month, high school students from around the region gathered in Springfield for the Central Illinois Poetry Out Loud Contest. It's a national contest, and finalists are chosen to represent their region, and are then narrowed down to state picks. 26 students recited poems from memory. Rachel Otwell emceed the event.

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Let's Talk Kids
12:55 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Let's Talk Kids - "A Shot in the Arm"

Credit mattpenning.com 2010 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

It was midnight when our toddler awoke with an astronomical temperature.  We hated to wake him, but our pediatrician responded eagerly, as though he’d been sitting by the phone waiting for our call.  Dr. Chiligiris listened patiently as we frantically described her fever, then assured us he would wait while we put down the phone and went to check on more symptoms.  After a short time, he’d talked us through a frightening episode, helped us plan a course of action, and bid us a peaceful goodnight.

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Lincoln
8:54 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Lincoln Carriage Headed To DC

A South Bend museum is lending a carriage once belonging to President Abraham Lincoln to a museum in Washington, D.C.  

The Lincoln carriage is being moved Thursday from the Studebaker National Museum to the National Museum of American History. The South Bend Tribune (http://bit.ly/1Gn7fJ2 ) reports it will be on display at the Smithsonian museum this spring in an exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the president's assassination.  

The carriage carried Lincoln and his wife to Ford's Theatre, where he was shot on April 14, 1865.  

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Arts and Culture
7:10 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Books Chosen For Statewide Reading Program

One of the books for Illinois Reads
Credit wttw

Illinois' statewide reading program has announced its 2015 book selections.

The Illinois Reading Council on Wednesday named books for everyone from adults to newborn babies. The program is intended to promote reading for people of all ages.

The selections include several by authors with ties to Illinois.

Among the selections for adults is ``Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football'' by Rich Cohen and ``Identical'' by Chicago author Scott Turow.

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Education Desk
5:38 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Cornel West Cancels U of I Speech Over Salaita

Cornel West scrubs U of I speech over Salaita rejection
Credit npr.org

A prominent civil rights activist and academic has canceled a speech at the University of Illinois because of the school's decision to rescind a job offer to a Native American studies professor.  

Cornel West said Wednesday that he will not speak at the Urbana-Champaign campus because of the dispute between the university and Steven Salaita. West was scheduled to deliver a lecture in April.  

He called the university's decision to rescind the job offer ``a moral scandal.''  
 A university spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  

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Budget FY15
9:32 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

"Don't Get Used To This" Breezy Budget Hearing

A House appropriations committee was relatively easy on the governor's top staff; but expect bruising budget battles ahead.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Last month, Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled his budget --- chock full of cuts to state programs. But now it's the legislature's turn to take a swipe at a state spending plan. Amanda Vinicky reports on a hearing, at which the governor's office had to testify before lawmakers about its own budget.

Given the widespread frustration by Democrats at the huge cuts Rauner, a Republican, has proposed, you may expect a hearing like this to get a bit tense. But House members were relatively easy on the governor's top aides, who say the governor's office is cutting its budget by ten percent.

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Statehouse
6:43 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Lawmaker Suggests Eliminating Tuition Waivers For University Employees' Children

Opponents to Rep. Jack Franks' proposal say eliminating tuition wavers would hurt many university workers and their children.
Credit ilga.gov

A lawmaker says children of public university employees should not receive a tuition break.

Currently, students can get half of their tuition paid for by the state if one of their parents works at a public university. Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat from Marengo, says he wants to make college more affordable for everyone, but higher education budget cuts make the tuition waivers impossible to maintain.

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Statehouse
6:24 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Sexting Laws Could Be Added to School Handbooks

Credit Alton, Creative Commons

A lawmaker wants to help make students aware of the consequences of using their cell phones to send nude pictures, which can sometimes result in a felony offense.

Representative La Shawn Ford proposes adding the language of Illinois' law on "sexting" into local schools' guidelines. Ford, a Democrat from Chicago, says parents and students need to be more aware that sending naked pictures has serious consequences.

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Regional
11:40 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Illinois Hires Firm To Evaluate Shuttered Eagle Creek Resort

The Eagle Creek resort in better days.
Credit Illinois Issues

Documents show Illinois has a nearly $130,000 contract with a Chicago engineering firm to evaluate the closed, taxpayer-owned Eagle Creek Resort on Lake Shelbyville.  

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises (http://bit.ly/1F9slHf ) newspapers reports Globetrotters Engineering Corp. will take a look at what it could cost to make repairs and reopen the resort. That includes evaluating the condition of floors and the potential cost of upgrading electrical systems.  

The company's contract with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources lasts through September.  

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Lincoln
9:12 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Combat Vets Recreate Lincoln's Hearse

Eric Hollenbeck, founder of the Blue Ox Mill
Credit https://www.indiegogo.com/individuals/9619643

Combat veterans in California have been working on the hearse that will be used in Abraham Lincoln's funeral re-creation later this spring. It will be at the center of events in Springfield commemorating the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's funeral processional and burial. Work on the hearse provided a number of challenges. And in a way, it served as therapy for those working to make sense out of civilian life back home.

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Politics
8:16 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Circuit Clerk Tony Libri Retiring

Credit ilcourtclerks.org

After 19 years as the Sangamon County Circuit Clerk, Tony Libri is stepping down at the end of the month.

Libri, who also previously served as Sangamon County Auditor before becoming Circuit Clerk and made an unsuccessful run for Springfield mayor, did not give a reason for his retirement.  A statement says he will be able to spend more time with his family.

The Sangamon County Board will appoint a new circuit clerk to fulfill the remainder of Libri's term.  That post will then be up for election in 2016.

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Illinois Issues - State of the State
5:04 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Governor Picks Sentencing Commission

Gov. Bruce Rauner at the February announcement of his sentencing commission.
Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday named the men and women he's asked to assess crime and punishment in Illinois. The Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform comprises 28 men and women, a significant number of whom are well known as advocates for a more rational approach to criminal justice — that is, basing sentencing decisions on what's most likely to rehabilitate an offender while also protecting the public.

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Sports
3:15 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

UIS Saying Goodbye To Cozmo

Cozmo at a UIS sporting event
Credit UIS Athletics

The University of Illinois Springfield will have a different look on the sidelines. 

The school's athletic department has announced it will retire the mascot, known as Cozmo.   UIS plans to find a new mascot for next season. 

A news release says "Now it is time to move forward with a new mascot that reflects the proud legacy of Prairie Stars, brings new energy to our games and builds a loyal student and alumni following."

Cozmo first appeared in 2010 and replaced what was known as "Angry Star."  An earlier mascot was a Prairie Dog. 

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Statehouse
3:06 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

New Administration Promises Change After Repeated Errors Found In Audit

Felicia Norwood spent 19 years working in the private sector, including working for Aetna, a health care company. Before that, she worked for former Gov. Jim Edgar.
Credit LinkedIn

A recently released audit of the Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services showed repeated problems from the previous administration. The newly appointed secretary of the agency spoke before a panel of state lawmakers on Tuesday about the audit.

Felicia Norwood wasn't the secretary of HFS when recording mistakes were made that allowed dead people and duplicate enrollees to receive payments for medical assistance. She made that point clear during a legislative hearing designed to address the inaccuracies.

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