News

The popular comedic play, Greater Tuna, takes two actors and thrusts them into the world of a fictional Texan town. The actors play a host of characters, who come together and create a world ripe with low-brow and politically incorrect humor. The play opens in Springfield at the Hoogland Center for the Arts Friday night. WUIS was recently joined by the cast members Rich McCoy and Darin Harms to talk about it: 

UIC.edu

A University of Illinois at Chicago official has lost his
position following a lawsuit alleging the official violated federal law by publicly discussing a dissertation and accusations of plagiarism.
 
 The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://bit.ly/1ovfpkj) Lon Kaufman was demoted
from his provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs positions to tenured professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.
 
 Chicago State University interim provost and senior vice president Angela

John Knowles

Bruce Rauner says there's "nothing sinister" about venture capital firms using the Cayman Islands as a tax shelter, but says he has never used the investment vehicle for his personal benefit. 

A recent report by the Chicago Sun-Times details that a portion of his earnings have connections to the Cayman Islands -- considered a tax haven for the wealthy.

Until he stepped down to run for governor, Rauner was head of a capital investment firm, GTCR, which has several investment pools there.

 A committee of university professors says the University of Illinois is violating academic freedom and standards of free speech, if it has withdrawn its pending appointment of Steven Salaita. 

Amanda Vinicky

  Amtrak ridership in Illinois has risen in recent years; it's up almost 85 percent from 2006 through last year. That trend developed after the rail service added routes. The train service could grow more in the future.

In 2006, lines branching out from Chicago that went to Carbondale, Quincy and St. Louis added trips.

Then there's the ongoing construction on tracks, that's supposed to make way for so-called "high speed rail" on line that runs through Bloomington and Springfield, and into Missouri. There's a potential for more expansion going forward.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  With the Illinois State Fair set to begin later this week, officials say they have safety in the forefront of their minds. The event, which attracts nearly 1 million visitors yearly, is set to open Friday morning ... though anyone can get an early preview Thursday evening after the annual opening parade.

ILGA.gov

Illinois' General Assembly will get a new member Wednesday afternoon. Chris Nybo will take the oath of office, even though the election is still several months away.

Nybo, an Elmhurst attorney, will have to beat out Democrat Suzanne Glowiak of Western Springs to win a full term in the State Senate.

But the Republican will represent the western suburbs for now.

Nybo's replacing Kirk Dillard, who stepped down as a Senator to chair the Chicago area's mass transportation agency, known as the RTA.

ALPLM

Historical experts say they've found Abraham Lincoln's handwriting inside a tattered book justifying racism that he may have read to better understand his opponents' thinking on slavery.  

``Types of Mankind'' was published in 1854 and circulated for decades by the Vespasian Warner Public Library in Clinton. Director Joan Rhoades brought the 700-page book to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in May to determine whether an inscription inside was made by the former president who worked to free the country's slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation.  

Siu.edu

An administrative law judge says Southern Illinois University officials in Carbondale bargained in bad faith with unions and owes 1,500 current and former employees $1.9 million in back pay.

WSIU Radio (http://bit.ly/1no1Bba ) reports the university says it respectfully disagrees with Colleen Harvey's ruling and is weighing its legal options.  

VisitSpringfieldIllinois.com

Historic sites. Abraham Lincoln. Food. Location. 

Whatever drives people to Springfield, the capital city is rebounding when it comes to tourism. 

dillard.senategop.org

 

After nearly two decades as an Illinois Senator, Kirk Dillard has stepped down. The Hinsdale attorney has taken over as chairman of northeastern Illinois' public transit system, known as the RTA.

Even before he became a Senator in 1995, Dillard was a known name in Illinois government; he was Chief of Staff to former Gov. Jim Edgar. Dillard twice tried to win the state's top job for himself, but narrowly missed winning the GOP nomination this year; in 2010 he came within 193 votes.

The Old State Capitol in Springfield is a popular tourist destination - it's where Abraham Lincoln gave his "House Divided" speech, but it will only be open to the public four days a week starting next month.

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Monday announced that it's scaling back hours at more than a dozen of its sites.

Lincoln's New Salem in Petersburg, the former statehouse in Vandalia, and Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville are also affected.

Spokesman Chris Wills blames a 20 percent cut in state funding.

abrahamlincolnonline.org

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency says it will have to cut hours at 13 of its historic sites starting after Labor Day.  

The agency said Monday that a 19 percent cut in its budget for the sites forced it to cut back at sites such as the Old State Capitol in Springfield, the Lincoln Log Cabin in Lerna and Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville. Most will reduce the days they are open from five to four.  
The agency's budget was cut for the current fiscal year to $4.6 million.  

ALPLM

A longtime aide to top Democratic officials in Illinois has died.   Gene Callahan passed away Monday morning at the age of 80 at his Springfield home.   Callahan worked for Alan Dixon, Paul Simon and Sam Shapiro. 

In an interview with the Lincoln Presidential Library's Oral History Program in 2011, Callahan talked about he was most proud of during his time in government:

  Summer is a time lawmakers can work on legislation that didn't move anywhere during the General Assembly's spring session. One of those proposals would require schoolchildren be read their Miranda Rights.

It happens in schools across Illinois: one student pushes another in a hallway, or there's a full-fledged fight.

Often, police, based on- or off-campus will come break up the altercation. That means an official police report will be filed.

Bruce Rauner
Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner says money channeled through the Cayman Islands and connected to his business dealings had no impact on his personal tax rate.  

Rauner spoke to reporters Sunday, the day a published report detailed how three of his five holdings in the Caribbean were tied to GTCR, a Chicago-based private equity firm he helped found.  

The Chicago Sun-Times  cited a comparison of investments Rauner listed on a state economic disclosure form with the online corporate registry maintained by the Cayman Islands government.  

Illinois Dept. of Agriculture

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is criticizing Gov. Pat Quinn's agriculture director.
 
Lee Enterprises Newspapers' Springfield bureau reports that Rauner did not mention Bob Flider by name in outlining his agriculture plans. But he said the agency's director must ``have first-hand farming
experience.''
 
Flider was named director of agriculture after he lost a 2010 re-election race
for the Illinois House. He then voted for Quinn's 67 percent income-tax increase
after earlier opposing it.
 

13th District candidate for Congress Ann Callis has invited the new Veterans Affairs Secretary to visit VA facilities in the district.

Callis, a Democrat,  sent a letter to Robert McDonald this week.  In it, she specifically mentions facilities in Springfield and Decatur along with St. Louis' John Cochran Hospital. 

Langfelder campaign

Springfield City Treasurer Jim Langfelder has announced he will run for Springfield mayor next year.  The son of former mayor Ossie Langfelder says the theme of his campaign is simple:

"You should do what's best for the city.  That's what it's all about.  That's how I ran the treasurer's office, to do what's in the best interest, protecting city funds, putting in safeguards and changing the way we do business in the treasuer's office.  And if you do that, everything else takes care of itself," Langfelder said. 

flickr/jetsandzeppelins

If you thought last month was unseasonably mild in Illinois, you were correct.  In fact, it tied the record for the coolest July. 

State climatologist Jim Angel says this July matched the one in 2009 for cool temperatures.  
The statewide average was 70.3 degrees, a big departure from what is usually a hot and sticky time in the midwest.

UIS

University of Illinois Springfield Athletics unveiled a new logo and brand identity today.   It will be phased in over the next 3 years on athletic uniforms, beginning with the men's basketball and baseball teams. 
The tagline "Rise Here, Rise Now" was also introduced.

You'll begin seeing it more in marketing, including plans to hang a banner in the White Oaks Mall and a billboard along Sixth Street.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, discussion of the so-called "Millionaire's Tax" advisory referendum on the November ballot.  Also, ethics violations at the State Fair.

glorianachamberchoir.org

A new professional vocal ensemble will hold its first concert Sunday in Springfield.  The Gloriana Chamber Choir features several who teach music and voice as well as others. 

The Conductor and Artistic Director Dr. Elizabeth W. Zobel of Blackburn College is the founder and she spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford about the endeavor. 

The choir performs at 4 p.m. Sunday August 3 at the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield.  The performance will feature English music. 

Harvest Public Media

  When ever food prices start to rise – even a little – the national news finally starts doing stories about agriculture. We get frantic calls from editors in New York and Los Angeles – will they ration bacon? Will there be enough beef for backyard barbeques? Will children get their milk?!

To me, all those stories are great big clichés – lots of speculation told with heavy breathing and a remarkable lack of insight. Rarely are Americans ever hit with significant food shortages and sky-high prices.

springfield-il-us.org

A budget cut is leading to a reduction in hours at many state historic sites. Officials say without more money, some sites could close completely.

This spring, lawmakers passed what they called a largely flat budget. One of the few areas of government to experience a significant funding cut was the Historic Preservation Agency, which runs dozens of sites, from the U.S. Grant Home in Galena to the Kincaid Mounds in far southern Illinois.

Peter Gray

The manager of the Illinois State Fair insists she did not personally consume more than 500 dollars worth of beer tickets she accepted last year. The violation resulted in a thousand dollar fine from a state ethics panel.

At a press event a week before the opening of the annual fair, Amy Bliefnick promoted the ongoing remodeling and landscaping taking place on the fairgrounds.

But her smiled faded when reporters asked about a recent state ethics investigation ... which said it was illegal to accept the beer tickets from a fair vendor.

University of Wisconsin

Illinois is placing tight restrictions on a new hepatitis C drug that costs $1,000 per pill. Medicaid patients must meet 25 criteria and get prior approval before the government health care program will pay for Sovaldi.

The drug can stop the liver-damaging virus, but it comes with a budget-straining price tag.  

flickr/LizMarie_AK

  About 1 in every 13 children has a food allergy, but many of them are unaware ... until they have a reaction. Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law Wednesday that makes it legal for a school official who isn't a nurse to administer drugs to quell an allergic episode.

Schools across Illinois increasingly don't have the funds to employ a full-time nurse. But under a 20-11 law that allowed the use of epinephrine in schools for kids with food allergies, the drug, frequently administered via EpiPen, could only be used by a nurse.

  Governor Pat Quinn now has the support of the two statewide teachers unions. The Illinois Federation of Teachers endorsed Quinn Wednesday despite the union's opposition to Quinn's ideas for pension changes.

The IFT is one of the groups suing Quinn for the pension overhaul law passed late last year that would reduce public employee benefits, including those for teachers.

But the union's president, Dan Montgomery, says the election is bigger than the ongoing lawsuit.

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