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July 28, 2014, 1:30 pm
970 WMAY News

Aldermen and Houston Administration Differ on Timing for Extra Funding of Public Safety Pensions

A Springfield Alderman says the time is right to use an excess of money in city coffers to help pay down public safety pensions, but the Houston Administration says they’re remaining cautious.


Ward 7’s Joe McMenamin says the excess of more than $2 million in Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, from the public utility should be split between the unfunded liability for Police and Firefighters.


But, Budget Director Bill McCarty says there are too many uncertainties in the future.


McCarty says beyond the potential $1.5 million EPA bill, and more than half-a-million unbudgeted for a new fire truck; there is also a loss of money from a telecommunications tax and other revenue lines.


Alderman will debate the ordinance Tuesday during the Committee of the Whole.

Change to Ward Map In Front of Aldermen This Week

A proposed change to Springfield’s approved ward map is about keeping an historic neighborhood together, not about politics, according to supporters of the measure.


Michelle Higginbotham from the Enos Park Neighborhood Association says a proposal from Alderman Sam Cahnman to make minor changes to Ward 3 and Ward 5 keeps Enos Park from being split between the two wards and is intended to give the neighborhood one point of contact at the city.


Opponents of the measure say changing the map now sets a precedent they’re not willing to set.


Aldermen will debate the proposed change during Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole.

Detours Expected Around Several Springfield Streets Because of Utility Work

The installation of fiber optic lines is closing 3rd Street between Capitol Avenue and Jackson Streets in Springfield starting Monday.


The city encourages a detour along 2nd street. The work is expected to last one week, weather permitting. Meanwhile construction on a sewer cave in will close parts of 9th Street at South Grand Avenue.


The southbound lane on 9th street will only be able to turn right onto South Grand and detour the closure while the two left lanes of South Grand will be closed. Work is expected to take about a week.


A press release from the City of Springfield says motorists should plan for an alternative route and disregarding “Road Closed” or “Do Not Enter” signs are subject to a $250.00 fine.

Springfield Aldermen to Consider PILOT Money for Public Safety Pensions

Springfield Aldermen will decide this week how to act on a measure to give more money to the police and fire pension funds.


The ordinance sponsored by Aldermen Joe McMenamin, Steve Dove and Tim Griffin would take Payment in Lieu of Taxes—or PILOT money—that exceeds budgeted amounts and transfer it from the corporate fund to the police and fire pension funds.


Springfield aldermen will debate the measure that would transfer over two million dollars to the two funds Tuesday during the Springfield City Council Committee of the Whole.

BGA: Questions Arise Over Legislative Inspector General's Relationship with Legislative Leaders

A report from the Better Government Association raises questions about a recently appointed legislative inspector general.


The report says William Roberts’ experience as a state’s attorney, chief aide to a governor, and a registered lobbyist may be overshadowed by the financial and political ties his law firm has with leading democrats and republican legislators.


BGA says the Chicago-based law firm Roberts worked for, Hinshaw and Culbertson LLP, had a contract with House Speaker Mike Madigan for six years in the early 2000s, with Roberts representing Madigan during an investigation about misuse of state resources.


That investigation ended in 2005 with no charges filed. Roberts is a past Sangamon County State’s Attorney and also a U.S. attorney who was an aide to former Governor Jim Edgar.

Central Illinois Counties Vying for Cameras in Courtrooms

More cameras could be headed to courtrooms in Illinois as part of the ongoing pilot program with half a dozen counties in Central Illinois requesting participation.


The Associated Press reports participation requests should be submitted to the state’s Supreme Court by this fall. Sangamon, Greene, Jersey, Macoupin, Morgan and Scott counties hope to join 40 other counties that are already taking part in the pilot program.


Critics of the program say cameras in courtrooms can be disruptive and undermine a defendant’s right to a fair trial.

Southern Illinois Prison Guard Suffers Concussion After Altercation with Inmate

A southern Illinois prison guard is recovering from a concussion after an altercation with an inmate.


he St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the prisoner head butted the guard Friday morning at the Shawnee Correctional Center in Vienna.


The inmate has been transferred to a maximum security facility while an investigation is ongoing.

Remains Are Not Those Of Missing Springfield Woman

Dental records confirm that the remains found in Rochester last weekend are not a Springfield woman who disappeared more than six years ago. 


Sangamon County Coroner Cinda Edwards says the remains did not match the records of Michelle Miles Bianco, who was 43 years old when she was last seen in April of 2008.  The confirmation leaves police no closer to determining the actual identity of those remains, believed to be of a woman in her 30s. 


Investigators are now reviewing missing persons cases across Illinois, and hope DNA testing of the remains can shed more light on the mystery.


Two Charged In Downtown Parking Lot Murder

Two men have been charged with murder in the stabbing death of another man in downtown Springfield in May. 


A Sangamon County grand jury indicted 27-year-old Raymond McBride and 18-year-old Christopher Coleman on charges of first-degree murder.  They’re accused of fatally stabbing James Goins in a downtown parking lot and stealing his car, which was recovered the next day outside a Springfield motel. 


Both men were already in custody on unrelated charges when the indictment came down.


Springfield Posts Best Job Numbers In State

Springfield has the lowest jobless rate among all of Illinois’s major metropolitan areas, according to the latest state figures. 


The local rate of 6.1% in June was slightly higher than May… but well below the nearly 8% rate in June of 2013.  Springfield also led the state in overall year-to-year job growth… adding a net 1500 jobs since June of last year.  That puts total employment at its best levels locally since before the recession.

Illinois Credit Outlook Shifted To ''Negative'' Over Worries About Pensions, Budget

There are new warnings that Illinois’s weak credit rating could be lowered even further… unless the state fixes its financial problems. 


Standard and Poor’s says another downgrade is likely if the recent pension reform law is struck down by the courts… and if the state fails to address the “structural imbalances” in its budget.


Illinois’s current A-minus rating is already the worst among the 50 states.


BGA Sues IHSA For Access To Financial Records

A lawsuit is seeking access to the financial records of the Illinois High School Association. 


970 WMAY’s watchdog partner, the Better Government Association, filed that suit, which contends the IHSA should be subject to public records laws because it performs a governmental function and derives much of its revenue from competitions involving taxpayer-funded public schools. 


The IHSA… which oversees high school athletics and a number of other extracurricular events… says it is a private organization, and membership is voluntary.

Business, Labor Demand Faster Action On Fracking

Business and labor groups are pushing Governor Pat Quinn for faster action on rules that would allow fracking to begin in Illinois. 


Quinn approved an agreement more than a year ago to allow the technique to extract oil and natural gas from deep below the Earth’s surface.  But the Department of Natural Resources still hasn’t drafted the rules needed to govern the practice… or even hired all the staff it says it needs to finish the job. 


A pro-fracking coalition says the delays are costing the state jobs… and suggest that Quinn may be dragging his feet in order to appease political supporters who have raised concerns about the safety of fracking.


Rauner Ad Criticized For Use Of Fake Headlines

A campaign ad from Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner is being called into question for tailoring - and even making up - headlines from news stories to make them appear more negative about Governor Pat Quinn. 


The ad displays negative headlines about Quinn’s record on jobs and taxes… but the headlines on screen don’t match the actual headlines used in the stories that were cited. 


Quinn says the ad is part of, quote, “a pattern of dishonesty” by Rauner.


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