Associated Press

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.

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Statehouse
6:19 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Hearings Over Quinn Anti-Violence Program Begin Today in Chicago

Lawmakers are set to start a two-day hearing probing Gov. Pat Quinn's troubled anti-violence program.  

The Legislative Audit Commission subpoenaed seven former Quinn administration officials connected to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. They're due to start appearing before the bipartisan committee that oversees state audits Wednesday. Organizers say testimony could take all day.  

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Statehouse
6:28 am
Mon October 6, 2014

State Buys Lands Adjacent To State Parks

Credit Starved Rock State Park

The state of Illinois has acquired 51 acres of land adjacent to Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby to provide more space for wildlife.  

In a news release, Gov. Pat Quinn's office announced that wildlife habitat land had also been acquired in Edgar, Woodford and Jackson counties.  

In the release, Quinn's office says the state bought the land next to Starved Rock with Open Land Trust funds from a private estate for the appraised value of $900,000.  

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Statehouse
6:42 am
Fri October 3, 2014

GOP Eyes Voter Rolls Amid Close Illinois Campaign

Credit wttw Chicago Tonight

 Illinois Republicans are mounting what they say is an unprecedented and costly campaign to purge ineligible people from voter lists and recruit their own election judges before November. 

It's a sign of how close the contest is expected to be for control of President Barack Obama's home state.  
Republicans have allocated $1 million in Cook County alone to examine voter rolls and recruit 5,000 GOP election judges to watch over polling places in Democrat-heavy Chicago. Efforts to go through voter rolls are underway in two counties east of St. Louis.  

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Statehouse
6:46 am
Thu October 2, 2014

Donations Drying Up For Lincoln Library Foundation

Credit ill.gov

The chairman of the foundation behind the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum says fundraising is drying up because of tensions between the library's executive director and the director of the state agency that oversees it.  

Wayne Whalen told a legislative panel Wednesday that the foundation has heard from numerous donors who don't plan on contributing money until problems are resolved. The foundation raised $4.7 million last year and has raised about $3.2 million so far this year.  

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Statehouse
5:00 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Court Rules AFSCME Members Are Owed Money

An Illinois appellate court has ruled that back wages owed thousands of state government workers from 2011 to 2013 must be paid.
 
A panel of judges from the First District Appellate Court found that members of
the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees should get the
back pay and the Legislature's failure to appropriate enough money to cover the
raises is not a reason to renege on them.
 
The ruling supports an independent arbitrator's decision that the government's

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Politics
6:26 am
Tue September 30, 2014

Durbin, Oberweis Debate Background Checks for Guns

Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis have staked out opposing positions on whether to require universal background checks for firearms purchases.  

Oberweis is trying to unseat Durbin in November. They met Monday before the Chicago Tribune editorial board.  

Durbin says mandatory background checks would help keep convicted felons and mentally unstable people from getting guns. He says a federal law would reduce violence in places like Chicago, where police say felons get weapons from other states with weaker laws.  

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Election 2014
8:48 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Illinois Among Tops In U.S. For Campaign Ad Spending

Credit espensorvik/flickr

If it seems as though the number of political ads on television has ramped up markedly this election, now there's concrete proof.  

Illinois has seen a roughly 30 percent increase in the number of TV ads and the money spent to air them this election cycle compared to four years ago, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity. That jump has been fueled by a neck-and-neck contest for governor pitting wealthy Republican Bruce Rauner against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.  

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Health Desk
9:00 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

St. John's Children's Hospital Exec Charged With Embezzlement

 A children's hospital official in central Illinois faces a charge of embezzling $500,000 from the institution since 2008, according to a published report.

Springfield police on Monday arrested Margaret "Peggy" Curtin, 55, executive director of St. John's Children's Hospital, according to the report in the State Journal-Register. She is in custody at the Sangamon County Jail on $1 million bond, State's Attorney John Milhiser said in a news release Tuesday.

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Election 2014
9:54 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Group Wants More Information For Voters When Selecting Judges

Credit istockphoto.com

One Illinois group wants voters to be better informed about judges, who will be among the lesser known candidates on the November ballot.  

The Illinois Civil Justice League on Tuesday is unveiling an initiative to provide biographies, ratings and other background on 158 sitting judges in the state seeking retention and another 69 candidates in contested races for seats on the bench.  

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Higher Ed
11:47 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Kennedy Defends University's Job Denial

Chris Kennedy
Credit bot.uillinois.edu

University of Illinois Board of Trustees Chairman Chris Kennedy said in a newspaper interview published Friday that the university was right to deny a faculty job to a professor whose anti-Israel Twitter messages were considered by some to be anti-Semitic.  

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Statehouse
6:17 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Court Ruling Could Impact Governor's Race

Credit Courtesy of lpillinois.org

A Sangamon County judge is expected to rule today (Thursday 9/18)
on an appeal by Republican attorneys to remove a Libertarian candidate for
Illinois governor from the November ballot.
 
Sangamon County Circuit Judge Patrick Kelley heard arguments in which the GOP
attorneys questioned the validity of signatures Libertarian candidates gathered
to get on the ballot.
Political analysts say Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Chad Grimm could
draw votes that otherwise would go to Republican candidate Bruce Rauner

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Education Desk
12:03 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Carbon Monoxide Leak Sends North Mac Students To Hospital

NOTE: This story has been updated.  More than 130 students and a few staff members from North Mac Intermediate School in Girard have been taken to hospitals with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. North Mac superintendent Marica Cullen said a leaky pipe caused significantly high carbon monoxide levels, and the school - with about 640 students, was evacuated around 9 am she said.

Cullen says the number of affected students may continue to rise, as parents are being told to take their children directly to the hospital if they show any signs of being sick.

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Business
8:17 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Safety Agency Investigates Ford Fiesta Latches

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

 U.S. safety regulators are investigating complaints that the doors won't latch properly on some Ford Fiesta subcompact cars.
 
 The probe announced Monday by covers about 205,000 Fiestas from the 2011 through 2013 model years.
 
 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has received 61 complaints about the doors. Some said the latches wouldn't catch. A dozen said a door opened while the cars were being driven. The agency says one person was hurt when a door rebounded after an attempt to close it.
 

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Education Desk
7:25 am
Mon September 15, 2014

100 Groups Join Together To Push For Illinois Education Revamp

Credit flickr/LizMarie_AK

Nearly 100 organizations are joining together to push
Illinois lawmakers to pass a school funding reform proposal in the spring.
 
 Funding Illinois' Future members include community foundations, civil rights organizations, school officials, and business and education reform groups statewide. All support the passage of a school funding proposal sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill.
 
 The legislation would overhaul Illinois' dated school funding formula, first put in place in 1997. While there's wide agreement that the state's funding

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Statehouse
3:21 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Fired IDOT Workers Sue Quinn Administration

Credit WUIS

Fifty-five workers who have been told they're being laid off by the Illinois Department of Transportation claimed in a lawsuit Friday that they're being fired to spare Gov. Pat Quinn election-campaign embarrassment over a hiring scandal.  

The Democratic governor's administration fired the so-called ``staff assistants'' last month in an IDOT shake up over a state investigation that found the agency hired 255 people over 10 years without going through proper channels to give everyone a chance to be hired.  

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Higher Ed
6:58 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Trustees Adopt Slightly Higher Budget For U of I

Credit UIS.EDU

University of Illinois trustees on Thursday approved a $5.64 billion budget for the current fiscal year. That's an increase of $11.1 million, or .2 percent.  

University President Robert Easter said the small increase reflects in part of the university's hope that it can keep students costs from rising too rapidly. A year on campus at the flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign costs a student more than $20,000.  

The vote by the Board of Trustees approving the new spending plan was unanimous and made without comment.  

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Higher Ed
4:40 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

U Of I Trustees Reject Salaita Hire

Steven Salaita spoke earlier this week in Urbana.
Credit Jim Meadows

University of Illinois trustees on Thursday voted not to hire a professor whose anti-Israel Twitter messages were deemed anti-Semitic by some, raising the likelihood of a lawsuit and further campus protests.  

Steven Salaita, who last year accepted a job to begin teaching this fall in the university's Native American Studies Program, has threatened legal action if the university rescinded the offer. His attorneys have said if he isn't hired, they'll go to court to try to get an injunction to force the university to hire him.  

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Business
5:40 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Industry To Seek Changes In Fracking Rules

Fracking site in Europe
Credit UKberrinet/flickr

Supporters of high-volume oil and gas extraction said Wednesday that they'll seek dozens of changes in proposed rules to govern the practice in Illinois that appear to violate a hard-won compromise between industry and environmentalists.  

A coalition of industry groups will outline more than 65 areas of concern to a legislative panel that must decide whether the rules _ written by the Department of Natural Resources to implement a new hydraulic fracturing law _ can take effect as written, said Mark Denzler vice president of the Illinois Manufacturers Association.  

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Health Desk
5:14 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Illinois Medical Pot Information Kept Under Wraps

Credit flickr/ThoamsdeAquino

It's unclear if state officials will release complete information about companies seeking to grow or sell medical marijuana in Illinois.  

Applications from prospective companies aren't subject to state open records laws, according to the law that legalized medical marijuana in Illinois. The application period opened Monday and will close Sept. 22. Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for Illinois' medical marijuana pilot project, said the state won't release any information about the number of applicants until after the deadline.  

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Education Desk
6:27 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Rauner Releases Education Plan

Credit brucerauner.com

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner outlined an education reform plan Monday that touched on teacher merit pay, overhauling
tenure and changing the state's school funding formal, but the proposal didn't contain specifics on what exactly he would change or how he would accomplish
them.
 
 The venture capitalist said his ideas would help create ``world class schools''
and he vowed to increase school funding in the first year if he wins office
without raising the income tax or property taxes. He said he wanted to change

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Statehouse
6:16 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Illinois AG Denies Conflict In Anti-Violence Probe

Lisa Madigan
Credit Illinois Attorney General

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Monday defended her right to give legal advice to state lawmakers conducting a probe into a troubled
Chicago anti-violence program that was overseen by Gov. Pat Quinn's administration.
 
Madigan's role has been questioned by Paul Schimpf, a Republican attorney running against the three-term Democrat in the November election. His campaign
has argued that she faces a conflict of interest because a member of her staff served as co-chair of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority Board, which

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Regional
5:44 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Teen Accused Of Leaving Newborn In Trash Bin Charged With Attempted Murder

Days after a 17-year-old girl accused of leaving her newborn baby alive in a trash bin was arrested for child abandonment, prosecutors in the west-central Illinois community of Jacksonville have decided to charge her with attempted first-degree murder.

According to The Jacksonville Journal-Courier,  http://bit.ly/1qHULly , prosecutors announced Monday the teen will be tried as a juvenile. Her name has not been released because of her age.  

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Transportation
10:34 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Illinois To Re-Open Some Highway Rest Areas

Credit flickr/NicholasEckhart

Eight of Illinois' 30 interstate rest areas that have been closed are set to reopen this fall.
 
Maintenance was required at the closed facilities, but it's not clear why most
of it happened around the same time period, Paris Ervin, a spokeswoman for the
state Department of Transportation, told the Springfield bureau of Lee
Enterprises newspapers (http://bit.ly/1pH3tfX ).
 
The Salt Kettle rest area, on Interstate 74 west of Danville, parts of the
Silver Lake rest area, along Interstate 70, and the Gateway rest area,

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Statehouse
8:15 am
Mon September 8, 2014

If You Want To Grow Or Sell Medical Pot, You Can Apply Now

Credit wbez

Entrepreneurs wanting to cultivate or dispense medical marijuana under a new Illinois law are getting their chance to be considered.  

The state on Monday was to begin accepting applications from aspiring cultivation centers and dispensaries vying for one of a limited number of permits.  

A state law enacted last year authorized a four-year pilot project that will expire in 2017, but so far, not a single marijuana seed has been planted. State officials have said the first products may be sold next year.  

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Regional
4:55 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Teen Charged With Leaving Newborn In Jacksonville Trash Bin

Police in west-central Illinois' Jacksonville says a 17-year-old girl is charged with child abandonment in connection with the discovery of a newborn baby found alive inside a trash bin.  

Police say the girl was arrested Thursday night, five says after the baby boy was found unclothed by an employee who heard a noise coming from the receptacle while taking out garbage.  
Investigators believe the child had been born less than 12 hours earlier.  

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Statehouse
1:45 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Governor Quinn Wants New IDOT Hiring Review

Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll ask the Illinois Department of Transportation's secretary for a new review of hiring connected to a position that's been the subject of an investigative report and federal lawsuit.
 
Last month the Office of the Executive Inspector General reported the agency
sidestepped clout-busting regulations and improperly hired 255 ``staff
assistant'' positions in the past decade. Also last month, IDOT announced it
laid off 58 people still holding that position and abolished the title.
 

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Higher Ed
11:28 am
Thu September 4, 2014

U of I Chancellor: Hiring Process Should Change

Phyllis Wise
Credit news.illinois.edu

University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise says the faculty hiring process should change amid an ongoing controversy over the decision to rescind a job offer to one professor.  

Wise told The News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1pNBeCb ) that new professors shouldn't be working before they've been approved by the Board of Trustees.  

The university recently decided not to hire Virginia Tech University professor Steven Salaita over a series of profane anti-Israel Twitter messages that some students and university donors say were also anti-Semitic.  

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Health Desk
6:02 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Virus Outbreak In Western Illinois Affecting Children

Credit flickr/rosmary

A Quincy hospital and one across the Mississippi River in Missouri are restricting visitors because of an apparent respiratory virus outbreak that largely affects children.  

The Quincy Herald-Whig (http://bit.ly/1lwGCsi) says Quincy's Blessing Hospital is restricting anyone under 12 years of age from visiting there until further notice to help guard against spreading the virus. Such restrictions at Missouri's Hannibal Regional Hospital apply to children 16 years old or younger.  

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Regional
9:18 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Springfield Mayor Calls For Police To Wear Body Cameras

Credit flickr/JasonRojas

The mayor of Springfield says he wants police officers to start wearing body cameras next year.  

The State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/1w5F2P8 ) Mayor Mike Houston said Tuesday he'd like to allocate up to $200,000 in the next budget year for wearable cameras. The small cameras would attach to officers' uniforms and record interactions with the public. Videos could be used to review incidents, especially if an officer were accused of inappropriate behavior or excessive force.  

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Nation/World
5:56 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Sen. Kirk On ISIS: "Bomb The Hell Out Of Them"

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois)
Credit Kirk.Senate.Gov

Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says the United States should take a hard line against the Islamic State group.  

Islamic State extremists released a video Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of a second American journalist. It also warns President Barack Obama that as long as U.S. air strikes against the group continue there'll be continued violence.  

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