Mike Houston

Politics
2:27 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Stocks-Smith Says She's Staying Out Of Mayor's Race

Credit Stocks-Smith Campaign for Mayor 2011

The runner up in the 2011 Springfield mayor's contest issued a statement today saying she won't run for the office next year.  

Sheila Stocks-Smith indicated it's not the right time for her to make a bid.  Stocks-Smith finished second to Mayor Mike Houston in the last election. 

Her statement:

"After carefully thought, I have decided that this is not the right time for me to run for Mayor. Instead, I will continue to serve my community and influence positive change in Springfield through my social policy and program work and community activism.” 

Read more
Regional
12:11 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

The Future Of Downtown Springfield Inc. In Jeopardy

A scene from the Old Capitol Art Fair in downtown Springfield
Credit flickr/Katherine Johnson

Without some help, Downtown Springfield Incorporated could cease to exist in just over a month.  The organization that helps put on events like the downtown farmer's market, blue and bar-b-q and serves as an umbrella group for various businesses is on the ropes financially. 

Victoria Ringer, Executive Director, says a 2012 Taste of Downtown event suffered from extreme heat, which kept patrons away.  After making up part of that loss, this year's outdoor blues show also lost money because of heat.

Read more
Springfield Mayor's Race
11:16 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Alderman Is 4th Candidate To Announce For Springfield Mayor

Gail Simpson
Credit Alderman Gail Simpson Facebook page

    A member of Springfield's city council says she is running for mayor.  Alderman Gail Simpson, who is African American, says the community is too segregated, and she is better equipped than the other candidates to fix that problem. 

“I have a concern with a total part of this city – it’s not just the east side, because there are residents on the south, east, and north side that don’t have a voice. You know – they’re two cities,” Simpson said. 

Read more
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.  

Read more
Tenth Street Rail Corridor
6:12 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Ground Broken On Tenth Street Rail Corridor

Officials break ground on the new Tenth Street Rail Corridor project, including Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL), Springfield Mayor Mike Houston, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL). The project will take two years to complete.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Construction of the Tenth Street Rail Corridor in Springfield has officially begun after a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday. Over the projected two years of construction, an underpass will be built at Tenth and Carpenter for vehicles and pedestrians, allowing trains to pass above.

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says diverting rail traffic from street level will provide better access to hospitals, which is vital especially in a life-or-death situation.

"When somebody has a medical emergency, time is of the essence," he said.

Read more
Education Desk
9:09 am
Tue August 19, 2014

WUIS Education Desk: Springfield Mayoral Candidates Talk District 186

The mayor of Springfield has no authority over the public school district.  But with so many campaign promises dependent on growing the city's tax base and population, District 186's image is pertinent in the race.

Those who have announced a bid for mayor include the incumbent Mike Houston, Sangamon County Auditor Paul Palazzolo and City Treasurer Jim Langfelder.

The WUIS Education Desk asked all three candidates about their views of the district, including how to deal with revenue problems.  

Read more
Mayor's Race
4:47 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Langfelder Says Springfield Needs Better Jobs

Jim Langfelder

Economic growth in Springfield is expected to be a top issue in the race for mayor next year.   Jim Langfelder is among those running for the position.  The current city Treasurer says Springfield needs to find ways to bring in more high paying jobs to go along with retail expansion:

"It's great to see Scheels.  I think that was an anchor that helped spur development along MacArthur (Boulevard). I grew up in that area and went to school in that area.  So I have seen the deterioration from what it once was. What I would like to see are professional jobs being created," he said.

Read more
Politics
8:34 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Candidate Interview: Paul Palazzolo Says Springfield Should Target Growth

Paul Palazzolo

It won't happen until 2015.  But the race for Springfield mayor is on.  So far, three candidates have announced they will seek the office.  Among them, the Sangamon County Auditor Paul Palazzolo.  He says if he's elected,  a major focus will be on growing the population. 

He says the city's medical district and other assets could help him reach his goal.  His target is to boost the number of residents from the current 117-thousand up to 124-thousand by the end of the decade.  

Read more
Politics
1:16 pm
Sat August 2, 2014

Jim Langfelder Announces Mayoral Bid

Jim Langfelder
Credit 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. 

Read more
Education Desk
6:47 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Houston Says District 186 Needs To Build Credibility Before Asking For Tax Hike

Credit montanapublicmedia.org

WUIS is asking the candidates for Springfield mayor to talk about education issues facing the community. Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says he's concerned that most new single family homes in the area are in suburban school districts.   He says an increase in funding for District 186 is probably needed, but says the school board needs to build credibility first.

Read more
Local Government
12:42 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Springfield's Mayor Wants Another Term

Mike Houston
Credit City of Springfield

Springfield mayor Mike Houston will seek another term.  Houston made the announcement earlier this morning.  He says he has righted the ship when it comes to city finances.

Houston is expected to face opposition.   
County Auditor Paul Palazzolo and City Treasuer Jim Langfielder have indicated they will run for the office as well.

Houston admits he broke a pledge to only serve one term.  He made that during the last campaign.  But he says some of his projects have taken longer than anticipated to accomplish.
 

Read more
Politics
5:47 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Houston Likely To Seek Re-election

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston will make a campaign announcement Monday morning.  While his release did not say specifically that he will run for another term, the release included this quote, "With so many evolving projects, there's too high of an investment to get off course or to go backwards. Springfield can't afford to make the mistakes again I've worked so hard to correct."  His announcement is at 10:30 a.m.

Read more
Regional
2:01 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Mayor Defends CWLP Insurer Despite Lack Of Contract Bid From Other Companies

Credit City of Springfield

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston is defending the city’s decision to renew a contract for CWLP insurance, despite criticisms over the lack of a bidding process.

The 3 year contract with R.W. Troxell to insure the city owned utility will cost around $1.8 million per year.  Mayor Houston, during an interview on WUIS’ Illinois Edition, said the local firm has been doing business with the city for 30 years with a solid track record.

Read more
Regional
3:09 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

State Can't Find Agreement The City Used As Basis For NAPA Deal

Credit City of Springfield

The state says there's no evidence of the intergovernmental agreement that Springfield officials relied on as the legal basis for the NAPA contract approved last month.

Last week, city attorneys asked the state to find proof of a state agreement with a national purchasing agency.  Earlier this month, some aldermen questioned the contract used to procure the 3 year, $3 million contract with NAPA Auto Parts.

The city got their answer today, a letter that indicates no trace of the agreement.

Read more
Regional
12:56 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

As Hy-Vee Opens, City To Focus On Further MacArthur Development

Credit WUIS/Lee Strubinger

Despite the rain Tuesday morning, customers arrived in droves to the unveiling of the the new Springfield Hy-Vee supermarket along MacArthur boulevard. 

The city offered special tax incentives in hopes of spurring growth along MacArthur.

Springfield Alderman Cory Jobe was president of the MacArthur Boulevard Business Association when the idea to bring Hy-Vee about came around.  He says the building brings life to the core of the city.

Read more
Regional
4:22 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Springfield Takes Harsh Stance Against Recent Spike In Gun Crimes

Mayor Mike Houston, Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow, State's Attorney John Milhiser and Sangamon County Under Sheriff Jack Campbell address the media about Springfield's recent gun crimes.
Credit WUIS/Lee Strubinger

Springfield has seen a recent spike in gun violence.  City and County officials are calling for a cease fire.

The Springfield Police Chief says there have been 20 shooting incidents since the beginning of March.  He says it has even involved local teenagers. 

Since summer break is approaching, the city says it’s developing a strategy for handling the violence.

Though no specifics on the strategy were given, Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says the city will come down hard on those taking part in gun crimes.

Read more
Statehouse
7:12 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Downstate Mayors Want Pension Overhaul

Mayors from around the state addressing media in the Capitol
Credit WUIS/Lee Strubinger

A couple dozen mayors from throughout Illinois came to Springfield Wednesday, calling on legislators to help fix downstate pension systems that they say are unsustainable.

Municipalities are on the hook for paying local police and firefighters’ retirement benefits.

But the pension rates are set by the state.

Mayors say lawmakers have increasingly “sweetened” benefits – without giving their cities any funding to cover the extra cost.

It’s left many pension systems severely underfunded.

Read more
Regional
10:12 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Napa Contract Left In Committee Again, Concerns Over Non-Union Employees

Credit springfield.il.us

Several Springfield Aldermen raised concerns about laying off three non-union employees if an agreement with NAPA Auto Parts goes through.

Read more
Springfield City Council
6:26 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Winslow Hired As Springfield Police Chief

Chief Kenneth Winslow
Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

Springfield aldermen have unanimously approved the hiring of Kenny Winslow as the city's police chief. Winslow has been in the role since last summer, when he took over after the resignation of Robert Williams.
   But his hiring on a permanent basis was delayed last night as council members questioned him in private for more than half an hour.    An internet site had raised issues about how Winslow might restructure the department. Mayor Mike Houston says aldermen wanted to hear from Winslow:

Read more
Springfield
5:58 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Winslow Expected To Get Police Chief Job

Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

After more than 6 months as Acting Springfield Police Chief, Kenny Winslow has been nominated for the job on permanent basis.  

Winslow assumed his role July 29th, after Robert Williams resigned following a file shredding scandal.  
Winslow says there are several things at the department that need to be done. 

Read more
Springfield City Government
5:06 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Mehlick Leaving Post As Springfield's Top Attorney

Credit www.springfield.il.us

Springfield's top city attorney has submitted his resignation after helping the mayor and aldermen through a difficult legal battle.

Mayor Mike Houston appointed Mehlick this summer, following the departure of former Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen.  Cullen and other city officials are named in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Springfield resident Calvin Christian.  Christian accuses them of knowingly and intentionally destroying the documents he was seeking through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Read more
File Shredding Lawsuit
11:51 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Houston: Leak Of Former Chief's Testimony "Unethical"

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston
Credit City of Springfield

Mike Houston says the court system doesn't appreciate when cases are "tried in public", and Springfield's mayor suggests "unethical" leaks of sworn testimony to the media are doing that by "coloring the situation".

The situation is the ongoing lawsuit filed by local newspaper columnist Calvin Christian, which claims the city destroyed dozens of documents he was seeking through the Freedom of Information Act.

Read more
Regional
12:28 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Interview: Tom Gray On Chatham Water Rates, Growth, Trains

Tom Gray
Credit Village of Chatham

Chatham's mayor stands behind the village's choice to stop buying water from Springfield's public utility.

Along with New Berlin, Chatham is a customer of the South Sangamon Water Commission, established so the villages could avoid rate hikes from City, Water, Light and Power.  

Read more
Springfield City Government
10:32 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Houston: I'll Start Thinking About Re-Election Next Spring

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston
Credit City of Springfield

The city of Springfield is still nearly two years away from a mayoral election.  But half-way through a term he had said would be his last, Mike Houston is now hinting at the possibility of re-election.

Mayor Houston says he's not made any decisions about his political future at this time, but he says they may come in sring 2014.

Houston says his decision-making will be likely affected by long-term challenges facing the city, such as road and sewer improvements, consolidation of train traffic and a search for a source of water to supplement Lake Springfield: 

Read more
File Shredding Controversy
5:46 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Springfield Agrees To Pay $5K For Destroying Buscher File, Violating FOIA

Calvin Christian
Credit Calvin Christian

The City of Springfield admits it illegally destroyed Deputy Police Chief Cliff Buscher's internal affairs file. 

In a motion filed in Sangamon County Court Friday, the City agrees to pay Calvin Christian $5,000, the fee set for a single violation of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. 

Christian sued the City in May after it said Buscher's file had been destroyed.

Read more
Concealed Carry Legislation
9:30 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Some Municipalities Race To Pass Gun Bans As Deadline Looms

Credit www.sxc.hu

It could be months before law-abiding gun owners can get a permit to carry a handgun in public.  But a separate provision of Illinois’ new concealed carry law has already taken effect. 

Beginning July 19, communities lose the ability to enact local restrictions on firearms.  Those ordinances that are already in place will remain valid, while any future controls would have to be approved by the legislature.

WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky gives the local gun control issue some historical context in this report:

Read more
Credit Downgrade
5:32 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

After No Pension Deal, Fitch Lowers Illinois' Credit Rating

Illinois' credit rating has suffered another downgrade.

It follows the General Assembly's adjournment Friday without any agreement on what to do about the state's pension systems.

 

A string of previous downgrades already left Illinois with the lowest bond rating in the nation.

None of those spurred legislators to reach a compromise - and there's no telling if this latest one will be any different.

Fitch lowered Illinois from an A to an A- rating, a status that means it may cost more when the state borrows money.

Read more
City Council
10:26 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Aldermen Want More Oversight Following File-Shredding Incident

Calvin Christian says he has been unfairly targeted by Springfield police officers
Credit Calvin Christian

Members of the Springfield City Council are looking for a way to prevent further incidents like the one in April in which police records were apparently shredded or deleted after they were requested by a local reporter through the Freedom of Information Act.

Tuesday night aldermen passed out of committee an ordinance that would require all changes to union contracts be approved by the Council and signed by the Mayor.  Such contractual changes are known as memorandums of understanding, or MOUs. 

Read more
Springfield City Government
11:19 am
Wed May 8, 2013

City Leaders Respond To File Shredding Lawsuit

30 Springfield Police Dept. Internal Affairs records are said to have been expunged or destroyed
Credit springfield.il.us

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says he's gathering more information about events last month that triggered allegations that the city destroyed files sought in a Freedom of Information Act Request.

Attorneys for Springfield resident Calvin Christian say the police department violated a state public records retention law last month by destroying dozens of internal affairs files subject to a FOIA request filed by Christian.

Read more