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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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Ecological Reprecussions
2:06 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Bat-Killing White-Nose Syndrome Spreads In Illinois

A bat in New York with White-nose syndrome; 5.6 million bats in the eastern half of North American have died as a result of the disease.
Credit 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. 

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The Scene
11:54 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Are All Those Cat Videos Making Us Stupid?

A cat on a newspaper
Credit 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?

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economy
11:51 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Potential Amtrak Cuts, Cuba & Fracking on WUIS/SJR Business Report

Credit Amtrak

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

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Statehouse
11:12 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Butler Sworn In As 87th District Representative

Tim Butler is sworn in Tuesday in the Illinois House chambers.
Credit 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.

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Politics
7:13 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Congressman Schock Pays For Another Flight That Had Been Billed To Taxpayers

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.  

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Regional
5:48 am
Tue March 3, 2015

CLOSINGS AND DELAYS

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.

Limit On Pain Killer Prescriptions
7:33 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Comprehensive, Controversial Heroin Legislation Introduced

Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, former Elmhurt Republican Rep. Dennis Reboletti, and Rep. John Anthony, R-Plainfield stand behind Democratic Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, as the group introduces what they say is comprehensive, and sure to be controversial, legislation meant to curb heroin abuse.
Credit 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.

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Education Desk
1:50 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Foundations Help Fill School Funding Gaps

In 2014, students at Mt. Carmel High School performed "Grease." This year, they will perform "Mary Poppins."
Credit 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.

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economy
12:39 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

The Top 10 Consumer Complaints To Feds

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

Economy
11:34 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Top Ten Consumer Complaints In Illinois

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

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Other Former Governors Get Six-Figure Pensions Too
4:45 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Ex-Gov. Quinn Begins Collecting Six-Figure Pension

The base of former Gov. Pat Quinn's salary is protected under the pension overhaul he signed into law, but like other state employees, future hikes will be reduced should the court uphold its constitutionality. Quinn began collecting his annual, $137,000 pension a day after he left office in January.
Credit 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.

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Illinois Issues - Ends And Means
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Chronic Mismanagement Drove State Into Its Fiscal Mess

Charles N. Wheeler III

“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.

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Illinois Issues - Leadership
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

People

Felicia Norwood

Rauner selects agency, board heads

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

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Illinois Issues - Essay
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Essay – Cashing In On Cutting Carbon

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. 

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Illinois Issues - Business
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Women’s Work

Gospel singer and restaurateur Kim Stratton recently held the grand opening for her Kim Stratton’s Kitchen in Palatine. Stratton is one of a growing number of women business owners in Cook County.

The rise of the female entrepreneur

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Lincoln Lore

Mary Lincoln, c. 1846

The first couple shared a love of politics.

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Illinois Issues – Noteworthy
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

The Raw Milk Underground

Farmer Joe Zanger has four Guernsey cows producing milk on his dairy farm in Liberty, in western Illinois.
Credit Abby Wendle / Illinois Issues

Regulators of the dairy drink work to change its legal status.

This story comes to Illinois Issues through a partnership with Harvest Public Media, which is a reporting collaboration of public media stations throughout the Midwest that focuses on food and agriculture issues. For more information, visit www.harvestpublicmedia.org.

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Illinois Issues - Noteworthy
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Murders Of Young Black Males Are Less Likely To Be Solved, Report Says

Isaiah Milton holds a candle during a memorial for his 19-year-old cousin who was shot in Chicago last year.
Credit 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.

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Illinois Issues - Noteworthy
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Following Family Path, Police Director Breaks New Ground

Sydney Roberts

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.”

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Illinois Issues - Noteworthy
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Lawsuit Says Prisoner Review Board Ignoring Risk-assessment Statute

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.

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Illinois Issues - Noteworthy
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Poverty Rate Doesn’t Budge Despite Recession’s End

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population universe used to calculate poverty is smaller than the total population of the state because certain groups of people, like unrelated children under age 15, are excluded.
Credit 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.

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Illinois Issues - Noteworthy
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Study Offers A Possible Answer To Why Women Are Underrepresented In Some Corners Of Academia

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.

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Illinois Issues - Noteworthy
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Book Outlines Illinois Corruption In One Volume

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.

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Illinois Issues - Noteworthy
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Lawmakers Aim To Prohibit Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy For Minors

Rep. Kelly Cassidy

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

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Illinois Issues - Noteworthy
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Volcano Eruption May Have Driven Major Migration To Illinois In 19th Century

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

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Past Due
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Aging Population To Change Transportation Demands In Illinois

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.

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Illinois Issues - Noteworthy
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Federal Plan To Offer Free Community College Could Cost States

President Barack Obama called for community college tuition to be free to some in his State of the Union address.
Credit 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.

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Illinois Issues - Noteworthy
12:00 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Legislative Checklist March 2015

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.

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