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April 17, 2014, 1:43 am

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The Council Roundup

The Council Roundup, Wednesdays at 10 with Bishop On Air


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Alderman Critical Of City Employees' TV Show Appearance

A Springfield alderman is concerned about a recent nationally-televised appearance by the city’s director of human resources and one of her employees. 


The segment on the syndicated “Steve Harvey Show” featured city employee Sara Taylor in a segment about how to ask your boss for a promotion.  Unbeknownst to Taylor, HR director Melina Tomaras-Collins was also on the show to hear Taylor’s pitch.  Tomaras-Collins said she would recommend the promotion. 


But Alderman Gail Simpson found the piece to be “exploitative” and says it sends a wrong message to other city workers.  Mayor Mike Houston says the piece was good publicity for the city… and says the promotion request is under consideration.

Petersburg Woman Killed In Early-Morning Crash

A 22-year-old Petersburg woman is dead following a single-vehicle crash early Wednesday morning. 


Illinois State Police say the woman was eastbound on Route 123 when for some reason the car ran off the road and began to overturn.  The driver was thrown from the vehicle and suffered fatal injuries before the car came to rest in the eastbound traffic lane. 


The victim has not been identified yet.  The accident remains under investigation.

Despite Signup Milestone, Congressman Still Determined To Repeal Obamacare

Despite millions of signups through the national health insurance exchanges, Congressman Rodney Davis says he will not stop trying to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. 


The White House is touting a figure of 7.5 million people who have obtained health insurance under the President’s health care reform law.  But Davis says it remains to be seen how many of those people will actually pay for and maintain their premiums… or how many people have lost existing policies because of the requirements of the law. 


Davis contends the majority of Americans still want to do away with the controversial law and replace it with something less intrusive and restrictive.

Aldermen Pass NAPA Deal, Part of Garage Consolidation

After weeks of debate, Springfield aldermen have finally approved a deal to let NAPA Auto Parts manage the parts inventory for the new consolidated city garage.


The three-year, $3.75 million deal is expected to save the city around $50,000 a year… part of an overall estimated million-dollars in savings each year from combining all of city government’s garage operations.


Aldermen had balked at the contract over questions about how NAPA was chosen and what would happen to three city employees whose jobs are in jeopardy because of the consolidation.


The vote was 7-to-2 in favor of the contract.

Aldermen To Consider Measure Curbing Future Video Gambling

A Springfield alderman says a proposal to restrict future video gaming licenses in the city is intended to be a starting point for a conversation about the future of gambling in the city.


Ward 1’s Frank Edwards says he was approached by several bar and restaurant owners who are concerned about the growth of storefront video gaming parlors.


Edwards says he doesn’t think those parlors were really the intent of the state’s video gaming law.


Edwards and Cory Jobe have proposed a measure that would require future city gaming licensees to make most of their money from food and beverage sales… not from gambling.

Edwards Confirms Bid for City Treasurer

He’s been leaning toward it for a while… and now Springfield Alderman Frank Edwards confirms he will run for city treasurer in 2015.


Edwards is a former mayor of the city, serving for several months in 2011 after Mayor Tim Davlin’s death.


But he says he’s much more interested in the financial side of city government than in the day-to-day administration of City Hall.


The longtime Ward 1 alderman must give up his City Council seat next year because of term limits.

Rutherford Asking Judge to Dismiss Harassment Suit

Attorneys for state Treasurer Dan Rutherford want a judge to throw out the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by a former employee.


A court filing says Edmund Michalowski has not offered evidence that he was harassed by Rutherford or forced to do political work on state time.


The filing also says Rutherford is entitled to limited immunity because of his role as a government official.


Michalowski’s lawsuit and Rutherford’s response to it was widely blamed for the collapse of Rutherford’s campaign for governor. A hearing on the motion to dismiss is set for Thursday.

Oberweis Releases Tax Information, Blasts Durbin as Career Politician

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jim Oberweis has released tax information showing his gross income last year was more than $1.3 million… up from just over a million in income in 2012.


But Oberweis is launching a pre-emptive strike against any suggestion that his wealth makes him out-of-touch.


The Chicago Tribune reports that Oberweis says his opponent Dick Durbin is also a millionaire.


Durbin’s last 2012 tax return showed him with income of $280,000… but studies have put his net worth at just over a million dollars.


Oberweis recently led a crowd at a political rally in a chant: “Millionaire. Career Politician. Dick Durbin. Must go.”

Report: Smith Admitted to FBI He Accepted Bribe Money as State Representative

State representative Derrick Smith reportedly admitted to FBI agents that he had accepted bribe money and even turned some of the cash back over to authorities, hours after his 2012 arrest on corruption charges.


The information is contained in court documents filed in Smith’s upcoming bribery trial. Smith reportedly told agents that he had screwed up in taking the money in exchange for trying to intervene in a state grant award.


Prosecutors want to use Smith’s statements against him at trial… while defense lawyers are trying to keep those statements away from the jury.

Edwards Confirms Run For City Treasurer In 2015

Another candidate is definitely in the race for citywide office in Springfield in 2015. 


Ward 1 Alderman Frank Edwards says he will be a candidate for treasurer next year.  Edwards has talked about that possibility for months, but had made no formal campaign announcement yet. 


Appearing live on the 970 WMAY News Feed, Edwards confirmed he is definitely running.  Edwards… who served as mayor following Tim Davlin’s death in late 2010… says he has always been most interested in the financial end of city operations. 


[Term limits prevent Edwards from seeking another term as alderman.]

Alderman: Gaming Ordinance Intended To Spark Conversation

A Springfield alderman who has proposed restrictions on future video gaming licenses in the city says he just wants to start a conversation on the issue. 


Ward 1 Alderman Frank Edwards is joining Ward 6’s Cory Jobe in the proposal to require that future city licenses only go to businesses that make most of their money from food or beverage sales, not primarily from the gaming machines themselves. 


Edwards appears flexible on the details.  He says the city needs to have a discussion on the future of gaming in Springfield… and the most effective way to do that is to tie that conversation to a specific proposal.

State Worker Pension Fund Wants Delay In Effective Date Of Reform Law

The pension fund for state workers is asking for a delay in implementing the state’s new pension law… until the courts decide whether or not the law is constitutional. 


The State Employees Retirement System says there are implementation issues as the fund tries to meet the new law’s effective date… but warns there will be much bigger problems if it starts to implement the law and then the law is thrown out. 


The fund’s board of trustees is asking Attorney General Lisa Madigan to request a stay in implementation until all the legal issues are resolved.  If Madigan refuses, the board will seek to hire its own attorney to make the request.

Davis Supports Pay Equity, Criticizes Minimum Wage Push

Congressman Rodney Davis says he’s a supporter of equal pay for equal work… and hopes an upcoming House bill on the issue will gain some traction. 


Senate Republicans defeated a pay equity bill on a procedural vote recently, but Davis says the House will offer its own plan to address concerns that women on average are paid far less for comparable jobs.  Davis wasn’t sure what kind of enforcement mechanism would be included in the House bill. 


Meanwhile, appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” Davis criticized the White House focus on raising the minimum wage… saying it should be focused on creating better-paying jobs.

Local Gas Station Owners Oppose Increasing Gas Tax

Local gas station owners say Illinois lawmakers should resist any effort to raise motor fuel taxes to pay for infrastructure improvements.


The Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association and local station owners say such a tax hike would hurt drivers who are already struggling with the high price of gas… and would be damaging to small businesses.


A coalition of business and labor groups recently recommended the tax hike as part of a package of long-range funding for road and bridge repairs.


But the gas station group says the state should simply stop diverting Road Fund money for other purposes and spend it directly on infrastructure.

Several Springfield Aldermen Float Tighter Controls on Video Gambling

Those storefront video gaming parlors that have started popping up around Springfield could be blocked from future expansion… under a proposal being floated by two city aldermen.


The State Journal-Register reports Aldermen Frank Edwards and Cory Jobe want to only give future city video gaming licenses to businesses that make most of their money from food and beverage sales.


The move would protect bars and restaurants who have added the machines to enhance their revenue, at the expense of storefront chains where gaming is the primary attraction.

Springfield Cop Busted for DUI

A Springfield police officer is charged with DUI following a weekend incident. Officer James Stewart is a 15-year veteran of the force.


Police Chief Kenny Winslow says officers responded to a report of a disabled vehicle on Stevenson Drive early Saturday… and allegedly found Stewart behind the wheel.


Winslow wouldn’t say how officers determined that Stewart was intoxicated.


Stewart is on paid leave while the criminal case and an internal affairs investigation run their course.

Steely Dan Scheduled for State Fair

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artist Steely Dan will play the Illinois State Fair this year.


The duo of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker will perform in the Grandstand on August 15th.


It’s the latest addition to a lineup that also includes a classic rock bill headlined by Boston, along with country acts Florida-Georgia Line, Hunter Hayes and Jake Owen.


There are still several Grandstand dates that have not been officially announced.

Springfield Cop Arrested On Suspicion Of DUI

A 15-year veteran of the Springfield police department has been arrested on suspicion of DUI. 


A press release from the police department says officers responded early Saturday to a report of a disabled vehicle on Stevenson Drive.  When they arrived, they found veteran officer James Stewart behind the wheel.  Stewart was arrested and taken to the Sangamon County Jail. 


He is on administrative leave while both criminal and internal investigations are conducted.

IEA President: Endorsement In Governor's Race No Foregone Conclusion

Even though Governor Pat Quinn appeared to get a much warmer reception from the state’s biggest teachers union than his GOP opponent did last week, the head of the Illinois Education Association says an endorsement decision is no foregone conclusion. 


IEA president Cinda Klickna says Friday’s joint appearance between Quinn and Republican Bruce Rauner was not an endorsement session.  And even though Klickna says Quinn gave a more realistic assessment of the state’s finances and the crisis facing public education, she says both candidates will get another chance to make their pitch before the union decides who… if anyone… it will support in the November election.


Klickna appeared live Monday on the 970 WMAY News Feed.

Durbin Wants Tougher Regulation Of E-Cigarette Marketing

Manufacturers of e-cigarettes are deliberately targeting minors in their marketing… according to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, who wants tighter regulation on how and where the nicotine-infused smoking alternative is advertised. 


Durbin says e-cigs still pose a significant health hazard and risk of addiction for young people, made all the worse by manufacturers who use sweet flavorings for the water vapor and advertise in social media and other outlets targeting youth. 


Durbin is calling on the industry to voluntarily halt broadcast advertising and wants federal regulations limiting other marketing techniques.

Steely Dan To Play Illinois State Fair Grandstand

Another big name has been signed to play this year’s Illinois State Fair. 


Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers Steely Dan will perform in the Grandstand on August 15th, according to the band’s website.  The duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen hit their peak in the 1970s and early ‘80s, with hits including “Reelin’ In The Years,” “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” “Peg,” and “Deacon Blues.” 


Other confirmed acts for this year’s fair include Boston and Florida-Georgia Line.

Christian: Politics at Play in Prosecution

The plaintiff who accuses Springfield police of a campaign of harassment against him says he was prepared to drop that case as part of a deal to resolve some of the multiple traffic charges against him… but says State’s Attorney John Milhiser scuttled that deal for political reasons.


In a letter sent to media outlets, Calvin Christian accuses Milhiser of trying to intimidate him because his pending federal lawsuit would show that Milhiser’s office was involved in the police campaign of harassment.


Milhiser has said his office objected to Christian’s sentence on the traffic charges because state law doesn’t allow him to receive supervision on multiple charges… and that’s why he’s now trying to have that sentence overturned.


Christian says his lawsuit will proceed… and will help to expose corruption in, quote, “the good ol’ boys network” in Springfield and Sangamon County.

Over 80 New ISP Squad Cars Sit Idle Since Last Summer

85 brand-new State Police squad cars are sitting in a Springfield parking lot… where they’ve been since they were delivered last summer.


But the cars have never been driven, because they lack the lights, radios and other essential police equipment they need.


The Chicago Tribune says state officials point to budget concerns and a lack of qualified technicians to install the equipment.

Springfield Retina Specialist Receives Most Medicare Reimbursements in State

A Springfield retina specialist received more money in Medicare reimbursements than any other Illinois physician, according to a review by the Chicago Sun-Times.


The paper found Doctor David Dodwell was paid $5.8 million in 2012.


But Dodwell says much of that money covers the cost of drugs that he buys out of his own pocket… meaning he only keeps a fraction of the Medicare money he receives.

Rochester Man Accused of Smuggling Marijuana on Amtrak

A Rochester man is due in court in Galesburg today on charges that he attempted to smuggle more than a pound of marijuana into Illinois on an Amtrak train.


Authorities believe 28-year-old Kriss Barton acquired the pot in Las Vegas and was bringing it back to resell it in the Springfield area.


Barton is facing two felony counts… the most serious of which could carry a sentence of three to seven years in prison.


He was being held over the weekend on $75,000 bond.

Road Work Expected Throughout Springfield Starting This Week

You could see lots of road crews… and potentially some delays… all over Springfield this week.


Road patching and paving projects are slated to begin at multiple locations around the city, as Springfield’s three-year infrastructure program kicks into high gear.


Several neighborhoods will also see sidewalk replacement projects.


City officials are asking drivers to be alert for work crews and to slow down in construction zones.

Sangamon Valley Trail Getting $4 Million

More than $4 million has been allocated for Phase Two of the Sangamon Valley Trail.


The project to extend the trail from near Stuart Park to Irwin Bridge Road along an abandoned rail corridor is part of $52 million in federal funds sent to Illinois for so-called “alternative transportation” projects… like walking and bike trails and streetscapes.


Petersburg will get nearly $850,000 to restore brick pavement on three streets adjacent to the historic city square.

Walgreen Company Could Move Headquarters From Illinois to Europe

Shareholders are reportedly pressuring Illinois-based Walgreen Company to move its corporate operations to Europe… a move that could shave the company’s tax bill almost in half.


But the Wall Street Journal says so far, the drug store giant’s corporate executives have resisted the move to leave the state where the company was founded more than 100 years ago.


Walgreen’s acquired a major stake in a Swiss-based company two years ago, and that could serve as the basis for a new headquarters if the company did decide to leave the Chicago area.


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