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April 24, 2014, 11:55 am
970 WMAY News

Police Deal With Shooting, Car Crashes, Overturned Semi and More


Area police had their hands full on Wednesday with multiple accidents sending people to local hospitals.

 

Three people were hurt when someone fired shots from a car on Stevenson Drive. The shots hit a woman on the street, wounding her in the foot… and struck a car which collided with another vehicle.

 

Two people sustained injuries from that crash, although they were not hit by gunfire.

 

Shortly after that, the sheriff’s office reported an accident with injuries at Old Jacksonville and Archer Elevator Roads, but had no immediate additional details.

 

And a truck driver was injured when his rig overturned as he was attempting to exit I-55 at the Route 54/Sangamon Avenue exit.

 

It took crews several hours to clear that wreckage.

Autopsy Results of Lincoln Man Shot By Police Expected Today


Autopsy results could be released today for a Lincoln man who was shot and killed by police inside a Lincoln tavern.

 

62-year-old Donald Letterle reportedly had a gun when he got into a fight with a woman inside the Glass House Tavern.

 

Police responding to a 911 call encountered Letterle and opened fire.

 

He was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

 

Authorities haven’t said yet what led police to shoot Letterle, or how many times he was hit.

Rauner Pushes for Term Limits of Executive Branch Officials


Bruce Rauner doesn’t want to just limit the terms of Illinois lawmakers.

 

Rauner is pushing a constitutional amendment to restrict members of the legislature to no more than eight years… and is now endorsing a separate amendment that would apply the same limit to Executive Branch officials.

 

The GOP nominee for governor is vowing to serve no more than two terms if elected this fall.

 

He’s calling on Governor Pat Quinn to also endorse the new proposal, and to pledge that Quinn’s next term will be his last if he’s elected.

Ebertfest To Pay Tribute to Roger Ebert With Bronze Statue


This year’s “Ebertfest” film festival in Champaign-Urbana will feature a new, lasting tribute to the late film critic Roger Ebert, who founded the festival.

 

A bronze statue of Ebert will be unveiled next to the Virginia Theatre. It will feature a likeness of the critic, who died last year from cancer at the age of 70.

 

The Ebert sculpture will feature him with his iconic “thumbs up” pose. On either side of Ebert will be two empty theater chairs, where attendees can sit and pose for pictures.

 

The sculpture is titled “C-U at the Movies.”

Shots Fired, Crashes Keep Police Busy


It was a busy Wednesday for area police. 

 

Three people were injured when someone fired shots that struck a car on Stevenson Drive Wednesday afternoon, causing that car to collide with another vehicle.  Two people in the car were injured, and so was a bystander. 

 

Police also dealt with an overturned semi that closed I-55 exit ramps at Sangamon Avenue for several hours, and responded to another accident with injuries at Old Jacksonville and Archer Elevator Roads Wednesday evening.

 

Details Still Scarce In Police Shooting Of Man In Lincoln Tavern


State police are still withholding details of an incident in which an armed man was fatally shot by police in Lincoln Tuesday night. 

 

62-year-old Donald Letterle was pronounced dead at the scene of that shooting in the Glass House Tavern on Pulaski Street.  Police say Letterle was in an altercation with a woman inside the establishment when police arrived. 

 

But authorities haven’t said yet what caused an officer to open fire… or how many times Letterle was hit.

 

GOP Senator Says Warnings Of School Funding Cuts Is A ''Charade''


A Republican state senator says Democratic predictions of dramatic cuts in school funding are, quote, a “charade.” 

 

Democrats say schools will lose hundreds of millions of dollars next year unless the temporary income tax increase is made permanent.

 

Senator Dale Righter of Mattoon says that claim assumes no money can be cut elsewhere in the budget… but he says continuing fraud problems in Medicaid prove more cuts can be made.

 

No Charges To Be Filed In Peoria Fake Twitter Case


The mayor of Peoria is defending the response to a fake Twitter account… including a police raid on the home where the spoof account originated. 

 

Mayor Jim Ardis says he was not involved in the police decision to raid the home, but also says he has a right not to have someone pretending to be him.  The fake account, which included off-color jokes and profanity, was not initially labeled as a parody.  It was eventually shut down by Twitter, even before police raided the home.

 

Authorities now say no one will be charged in the case.

 

Rauner Calls Out Quinn On Patronage, Term Limits


Republican Bruce Rauner says a lawsuit accusing Governor Pat Quinn of political hiring violations should come as no surprise. 

 

Rauner says Quinn has a long history of political hires and patronage, dating back to his work in the Dan Walker administration in the 1970s.  A Chicago attorney is suing Quinn, saying he improperly reclassified dozens of IDOT jobs so that political hires could be put in those positions.

 

Rauner is also upping the ante in his call for term limits.  He’s already proposed a constitutional amendment that would impose eight-year limits on state lawmakers… and now the GOP nominee for governor is endorsing a separate proposed amendment to put a similar cap on Executive Branch officers. 

 

Rauner says he will serve no more than two terms if elected… and is calling on Governor Pat Quinn to support that term limit proposal, too.

Man Fatally Shot By Lincoln Police; ISP Investigating


A man is dead after being shot by a Lincoln police officer late Tuesday. 

 

Illinois State Police say the man was armed and was involved in a physical altercation with a female at a location on Pulaski Street.  Lincoln police arrived and "engaged" the male suspect. 

 

He was shot and was pronounced dead at the scene.  The female was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.  State Police are investigating the incident.

Calvin Christian Arrested For Criminal Trespass, Says Doesn't Expect Charges


Springfield police have once again arrested the man who is accusing them in court of a campaign of harassment against him.

 

Calvin Christian was booked into the Sangamon County Jail Tuesday after being accused of criminal trespass.

 

Christian tells 970 WMAY News that he was arrested after his girlfriend called police, because Christian allegedly refused to leave her driveway.

 

Christian was later released, and says he was told that no charges will be filed.

 

Springfield city authorities confirm that Christian was arrested, but offered no further comment.

Lawsuit Claims Hundreds of IDOT Jobs Are Political Hires


A Chicago attorney has filed a federal lawsuit, accusing Governor Pat Quinn of improperly hiring hundreds of IDOT employees on the basis of political considerations.

 

Michael Shakman… whose lawsuit years ago resulted in bans on political patronage for Chicago and Cook County jobs… says the Quinn administration improperly reclassified some IDOT jobs as exempt from patronage rules.

 

Shakman says anyone who was improperly hired should lose their jobs.

 

An IDOT spokesman says the department conducted an internal review and found about 50 positions had been improperly reclassified… and in the future, political hiring for those positions will be prohibited.

Alderman McMenamin Says Council Lacks Leadership and Focus on Pension Crisis


Springfield Alderman Joe McMenamin is still on the offensive against Mayor Mike Houston and his City Council colleagues, accusing them of a lack of leadership and a lack of action in dealing with the city’s pension crisis.

 

Springfield has a $230 million unfunded liability in police and fire pensions.

 

McMenamin says Houston should have taken a get-tough approach with employee unions to help lower that pension liability… and says aldermen should have held the mayor’s feet to the fire.

 

And McMenamin repeated his contention that the pension crisis won’t get any better unless voters install a new mayor and a number of new aldermen in the 2015 elections.

Happy Hollow To Get Makeover, Including Permanent Amphitheater


Illinois State Fair officials say Happy Hollow will never go back to being the home of the fair’s carnival rides.

 

But they hope a makeover of the area just inside the main gate will help a new generation of fairgoers make different memories.

 

Fair officials announced a three-to-five year makeover plan for Happy Hollow Tuesday, including plans for a permanent amphitheater.

 

Tuesday’s fair preview also included more Grandstand announcements, including a show by rapper Pitbull and the return of the free Million Dollar Quartet concert.

 

Two Grandstand dates still haven’t been booked.

State Fair Announces More Grandstand Dates, Happy Hollow Makeover


A Grandstand favorite is returning… and a beloved part of past Illinois State Fairs will get an extensive makeover.  Those are among the announcements made by fair officials in a preview of the 2014 event. 

 

Fair manager Amy Bliefnick filled in some more of the blanks for the Grandstand lineup… announcing the return of the popular, free Million Dollar Quartet concert on the Monday of the fair.  Cuban-American rapper Pitbull will also be a Grandstand headliner. 

 

And Bliefnick announced a three-to-five year plan to redesign Happy Hollow, with new landscaping and plans for a permanent amphitheater in the area that used to be home to the fair’s carnival rides.

McMenamin Rips Mayor, Aldermen Again On Pension Crisis


The rift at Springfield City Hall is getting to be almost as wide as the gap between the city’s police and fire pension obligations and the money available to pay for it. 

 

Alderman Joe McMenamin continues to chastise Mayor Mike Houston and his fellow aldermen for failing to take adequate steps over the past three years to address the funding shortfall. 

 

Houston this week suggested “revenue enhancements” may be necessary to fix the $230 million unfunded pension liability.  But McMenamin says there needs to be a wage freeze and more benefit changes before there’s any talk of higher taxes.  And he’s repeating his contention that nothing is likely to change until there’s a new mayor and City Council in place.

House Committee Will Revote On Obama Library Funding


An Illinois House committee will hold another vote on a proposal to set aside $100 million to bring the Obama Presidential Library to Chicago. 

 

The measure was approved by a House committee last week on a unanimous vote… but only because Democrats on the committee used a procedural move to use an attendance roll call from the previous day as the official vote tally on the library funding.  That resulted in some Republican lawmakers being listed as “yes” votes, even though they weren’t in attendance. 

 

Speaker Mike Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown says the revote coming up on Monday should put the controversy over the vote to rest once and for all.  But critics still object to the high price tag for the project.

WSEC-TV To Experience Broadcast Interruptions


Many viewers of Springfield’s public TV station will see some periodic interruptions in programming over the next couple of weeks. 

 

Crews will be working on the WSEC tower in Franklin, replacing lighting that was damaged by lightning strikes early this year.  The work starts Monday, weather permitting, and will require the transmitter to be shut down at times during the day. 

 

That will cut off the signal to anyone watching over the air, on satellite TV or on Mediacom cable… although viewers with Comcast cable will continue to get a direct feed of the station.  The project is expected to take about two weeks to complete.

School Board Hears Concerns Over Late Start Proposal


A proposal to start classes in District 186 an hour late, one day per week, is up in the air after concerns were voiced by parents and school board members.

 

That one hour per week would be used for teacher professional development.

 

But a meeting with a small group of parents found about half either somewhat or strongly opposed to the idea, because of the complications it would cause for parents trying to balance work demands and their child's school schedule.

 

School board members are also concerned, with some saying they would prefer a one-hour early dismissal once per week.

 

Others say they want more community input before the calendar must be finalized in mid-June.

Dist. 186 School Board Officers Election Postponed


The Springfield School Board has postponed its scheduled election of new officers.

 

The board was expected to choose a new board president to succeed Chuck Flamini, who opted not to seek another one-year term as President.

 

But the vote was delayed because only four of the seven board members were present.

 

While that is enough for a quorum, the members on hand say it's preferable to have the full board present to choose its leadership for the next year.

 

The board will vote at its first meeting in May on a new president and vice-president, as well as the adoption of board policies for the coming year.

Mayor: Comprehensive Package Needed to Address Pension Liability


Springfield Mayor Mike Houston isn’t taking a stand on any specific proposal to address a widening gap in police and fire pension funding.

 

Houston says a comprehensive package has to be developed, so it doesn’t make sense to commit to one piece of the puzzle before those pieces are all put together.

 

But in an interview for the 970 WMAY News Feed, Houston said additional revenues, including possible tax hikes, will almost certainly have to be part of the mix to address the city’s $230 million unfunded liability.

Proposal to Limit Video Gambling in Springfield Gains Support


A Springfield alderman says he’s a supporter of the free market… but also sees a place for government to step in to protect established businesses from unfair competition.

 

And that’s what Alderman Cory Jobe says he’s doing with his proposal to restrict future video gaming licenses.

 

Jobe says video gaming has become an important revenue stream for local bars and restaurants that have made a significant investment in facilities and jobs locally… and he wants to prevent them from being undercut by storefront gaming parlors that operate on a shoestring.

 

Half of the City Council has now publicly expressed support for Jobe’s plan, although some amendments could be introduced when the measure comes up for consideration next week.

Phone Scam Targets Ameren and CWLP Customers


A phone scam appears to be targeting customers of Ameren and City Water Light and Power.

 

ABC Newschannel 20 says the caller poses as a utility representative, demanding immediate payment of a bill and threatening to shut off power unless the person makes payment over the phone with a debit or credit card.

 

Both utilities say they will never demand immediate payment over the phone in that way.

District 186 Proposal For One-Day-Per-Week Late Start Runs Into Opposition


A proposal to start classes in District 186 an hour late, one day per week, is up in the air after concerns were voiced by parents and school board members.

 

That one hour per week would be used for teacher professional development.  But a meeting with a small group of parents found about half either somewhat or strongly opposed to the idea, because of the complications it would cause for parents trying to balance work demands and their child's school schedule.

 

School board members are also concerned, with some saying they would prefer a one-hour early dismissal once per week.  Others aren't sure there's enough time to implement any kind of dramatic change in the school schedule before the calendar must be finalized in mid-June.

School Board Postpones Selection Of New Officers


The Springfield School Board has postponed its scheduled election of new officers.

 

The board was expected to choose a new board president to succeed Chuck Flamini, who opted not to seek another one-year term as President.  But the vote was delayed because only four of the seven board members were present.  While that is enough for a quorum, the members on hand say it's preferable to have the full board present to choose its leadership for the next year.

 

The board will vote at its first meeting in May on a new president and vice-president, as well as the adoption of board policies for the coming year.

Houston: New Revenue May Be Needed To Fix Police, Fire Pensions


Mayor Mike Houston says it may very well take some “revenue enhancements” for Springfield and other Illinois cities to get out of the big hole being caused by police and fire pensions. 

 

A group of Illinois mayors is calling on the General Assembly to approve pension changes to help close the pension funding gap, which is more than $230 million for Springfield alone.  Houston says the way to do that is still under discussion… and he’s not advocating any specific changes to benefits. 

 

But in an interview for the 970 WMAY News Feed, Houston said benefit changes alone probably won’t get the job done… and says the city will have to find more revenue to apply to those pension funds.

''Free Market Supporter'' Jobe Defends Measure To Regulate Gaming Licenses


A Springfield alderman says he’s a believer in the free market… but also thinks there’s a place for government to step in to make sure that long-term local businesses are protected from being hurt by small, start-up storefront gaming parlors. 

 

Alderman Cory Jobe says established bars and restaurants have made a significant investment in the community.  He wants limits on city gaming licenses so that in the future, a business that gets its revenue primarily from gaming terminals could not get a license. 

 

Appearing live on 970 WMAY's "Bishop On Air," Jobe says in addition to Alderman Frank Edwards, two more aldermen… Gail Simpson and Doris Turner… have signed on as co-sponsors.  But in a separate interview for the 970 WMAY News Feed, Mayor Mike Houston says he's asked city lawyers to draft an alternate proposal that Houston says would be less restrictive.  However, the mayor says that draft is still in progress, and he declined to elaborate.

Coroner: First Crash Killed Springfield Woman; Collision Involving Ambulance Not A Factor


The Sangamon County coroner says a Springfield woman died of trauma suffered when the car she was driving was hit by another vehicle… and a second crash involving the ambulance she was in does not appear to be a contributing factor in her death. 

 

Amanda Poole’s car was struck on the driver’s side after police say she pulled out in front of an approaching pickup truck.  Coroner Cinda Edwards says that crash caused injuries that proved to be fatal. 

 

Paramedics were working on Poole in the ambulance when it crashed head-on with another vehicle while en route to the hospital, but Edwards says there’s no direct link between that crash and Poole’s death.  An autopsy was performed Monday, although toxicology tests are still pending.

Speaker Madigan Faces Low Voter Approval Numbers


He’s one of the most powerful politicians in Illinois… but he may also be one of the most unpopular. 

 

A recent Rasmussen poll says House Speaker and state Democratic Party chair Mike Madigan gets a 65% unfavorable rating from voters around the state.  Even Madigan’s fellow Democrats are divided… with 50-percent offering a negative opinion on the Speaker. 

 

Not even Madigan’s home town will rally around him.  Columnist Rich Miller reports that Madigan has a 57-percent disapproval rating among Chicago voters… but that’s still better than he does in any other region of the state.

Poll Showing Rauner With Slight Lead Also Shows Favor for Unions


A recent statewide poll gives Republican Bruce Rauner a slight edge over Governor Pat Quinn in the November general election… but also suggests that one of Rauner’s big issues may not connect with Illinois voters.

 

That Rasmussen poll taken earlier this month finds 54-percent of those surveyed support public sector unions.

 

41-percent of voters say they are opposed to those unions.

 

Rauner campaigned hard in the primary against the corrupting influence of public sector unions, but has softened that rhetoric somewhat in the general election campaign.

Website: Illinois Ranks Among Worst for Retirement


A website for retirees lists Illinois as one of the ten worst states for retirement.

 

The survey from topretirements.com looked at multiple factors, from economy to climate.

 

It ranked Illinois low because of the state’s high property taxes and because it has an estate tax… although Illinois did get high marks for not taxing retirement income, at least for the moment.

Autopsy Expected for Woman Who Died After Two Separate But Related Accidents


An autopsy will be conducted today on a woman who died after being involved in two separate but related traffic crashes Friday night.

 

34-year-old Amanda Poole had been driving a car that was struck by a pickup truck at South Dirksen and Niccolls Road.

 

After she was extricated from her vehicle, she was being taken by ambulance to the hospital… when the ambulance collided head-on with an SUV at Dirksen and Clear Lake.

 

Poole died later that night at the hospital. Several other people were hurt in those two collisions.

Weekend Violence Leaves Nine Dead, 35 Wounded, in Chicago


It’s been another very violent weekend across Chicago.

 

Shootings have left nine people dead and at least 35 people wounded. The dead include a Cook County corrections officer and his wife, a Chicago cop.

 

Authorities believe the corrections officer shot his wife to death and then killed himself. Five children, ages 11 to 15, were wounded in a separate drive-by shooting on the city’s South Side.

 

Witnesses said someone in a passing car asked the children if they belonged to a gang… and then opened fire.

 

An 11-year-old girl is in critical condition.

Lawmakers Considering Ban of Non-biodegradable Micro-beads


Illinois lawmakers are considering a ban on products containing microbeads.

 

Many skin-care products contain the beads, which are supposed to gently scrub and exfoliate the skin.

 

But the tiny beads are made of non-biodegradable plastic and are starting to collect by the millions in Illinois waterways.

 

A pending bill would prohibit the manufacture of such products in the state by the end of 2017, and would ban their sale here a year later.

Interdenominational Easter Services Draws Several Thousand to PCCC


More than two-thousand people took part in an interdenominational Easter service Sunday at the Prairie Capital Convention Center.

 

Two local churches… the iWorship Center and Abundant Faith Christian Center… brought their congregations together for the large Easter service.

 

Both pastors say it could be the beginning of a new annual tradition.

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