They’d like to know what the Springfield Police is doing with the data gathered from automatic license cameras. The American Civil Liberties Union is concerned about the potential misuses of the technology.
ACLU Attorney Karen Sheley, in a live on-air interview with 970 WMAY’s Greg Bishop, thinks that the information which Springfield police have gathered with the cameras could violate the rights of its citizens. The ACLU has requested a response on the issue from the Department and expects to hear back from City Police on Monday.
Cliff Buscher, Assistant Police Chief told WMAY News that the Springfield Squad Cars currently don’t have the cameras, but they’ve ordered some.
It’s time to get the kids registered for school in District 186 for the 2012-13 school year. Registration begins this week, with High School registration taking place on August 2nd and 3rd. Elementary School registration (Kindergarten through 5th grade) will register on August 6th. And Middle School (grades 6 through 8) will register on August 6th and 7th.
All students - with the exception of Iles and Lincoln Magnet Schools which have their own registration dates – are required to register for this coming school year. Graham and Southern View Elementary have already begun their new school year and registered their students earlier in the summer.
For more information about registration or for a school locator, visit SPS 186 (dot) org.
It’s going to be an interrupted Summer break for Illinois legislators. Governor Pat Quinn has declared that he’s convening a Special Session of the 97th General Assembly on August 17th to deal with Pension Reform.
Quinn says through the declaration that the pension liability of 83 billion dollars is unfunded and unsustainable, costing taxpayers millions of dollars daily. The Fiscal Budget for 2013 is 33-point-7 billion dollars.
Quinn says if left unchecked, the pension crisis compromises the State’s credit rating and threatens vital educational, human services, and public safety programs.
Some people from Springfield who flew out to Myrtle Beach on Vision Air from Capital Airport are still waiting to come back home. Vision delayed flights to four cities including Springfield on Sunday.
Passengers finally got on planes to Indianapolis and Louisville, but flights to Cleveland and Springfield have not yet left. Vision Air is not commenting on the situation and Myrtle Beach TV Station WMBF reports that their airport officials are unaware of any problems with Vision Air.
Springfield Alderman Sam Cahnman’s ordinance banning minors from using tanning beds at commercial tanning parlors in Springfield seems more in doubt as Sangamon County officials say they can’t have a county-wide ban.
The State Journal-Register reports that the county is not home-rule and cannot supersede state law.
Current state law says that minors between 14 and 17 must get parental permission before entering a tanning bed.
Cahnman tabled his ordinance several weeks ago because of a lack of support.
Opponents say they understand the links between tanning and cancer, but banning tanning booths in Springfield would put the dozen tanning parlors in the capital city at a disadvantage.
A Springfield native puts an end to a twelve-year medal drought after taking silver in synchronized diving Sunday afternoon at the London Olympics.
Kelci Bryant, and her teammate Abby Johnston, won the silver medal during the 3-meter synchronized diving competition at Aquatics Centre.
The last American to bring home a medal in synchronized diving was Laura Wilkinson during the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Bryant was born in Springfield but, according to her bio, has never trained in the capital city. In 1997 she began training for diving in St. Louis, then trained at Illinois State University and later Perdue. Currently, Bryant trains at the National Training Center in Indianapolis.
Authorities hope autopsy results will give them more to go on as they investigate the death of a one-year-old girl.
The child was found dead at the MERCY Communities apartment complex for homeless women and their children on South 19th Street.
Police who were called to the scene discovered the girl’s mother with stab wounds… and possibly under the influence of drugs. Investigators say the mother may have been responsible for the child’s death, but say the autopsy results are needed to confirm their theory.
It’s a searing reminder of the dangers of any kind of open flame in these hot, dry conditions.
A grass fire near Rochester quickly got out of hand Friday, burning more than 200 acres of open field and destroying a barn and shed. But nearby fire departments stayed on the scene for hours and kept the fire from damaging any homes in the area.
Authorities are still trying to determine how the blaze started.
The City of Springfield wants residents to know that there is an individual who has a legitimate permit to paint house numbers along the curb – but the individual is not acting on behalf of the City, nor is he an employee of the City of Springfield.
The individual states that large numbers are more easily seen by police, fire department personnel, ambulance drivers or other service vehicles which may need to find a home quickly. However, taking advantage of the offer is up to the individual home owner.
The City of Springfield does not require that house numbers be painted on the curb.
In keeping with the rest of the Springfield City water conservation effort, the Springfield Park District says it will do its part. It’s cutting back on watering turf at the Botanical Garden, decreasing the watering of park boulevards, and they say they will focus on only watering newly-plated trees.
The waterfall at the Lincoln Park Lagoon has been shut down, and the fountain around the Carillon has been shut down until leaks can be repaired.
Golfers may notice that the greenest grass will be on the fairway – watered every other day – and the greens. Non-playing and rough areas, including the driving range at Lincoln Greens will not be watered at all.
The Riverton Fire Protection District and the Sherman Fire Protection District has declared a NO BURN BAN within their district boundaries.
They say the ban is caused by insufficient totals of rain, low humidity and sustained winds with gusts over 15 miles per hour, which highly increases the chance of a fire getting started or getting out of control.
The ban takes effect immediately and will be in effect until August 3rd at Midnight.
Two cases of “Swimmers Itch” have cropped up in people that have swum in Lake Jacksonville last week.
The itch is a rash caused by an allergic reaction to certain parasites in the water, which come from infected birds and snails. The parasites can burrow into the skin, causing an allergic reaction. The Illinois Department of Public Health says anyone who wades or swims in infected water may be at risk. Swimmers itch is not contagious and can’t be spread from person-to-person.
Swimmers can get relief from the rash by using a cortisone cream or anti-itch lotion, applying baking soda or cold compress to the rash, or bathe in Epsom salts, baking soda, or soak in an oatmeal bath.
Sangamon County deputies have arrested a 31-year-old woman in connection with a shooting that sent a man to the hospital.
Deputies who responded to a call in the 25-hundred block of North Grand Avenue East found the 30-year-old victim shot twice… police say the wounds are not life-threatening. The sheriff’s department says the shooter had already fled the scene, but police quickly identified her and stopped her vehicle.
They’ve charged Naomi Painter with aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm. Police have not yet recovered the weapon.
Area businesses and Springfield city government are talking trash -- Zero Waste to be more specific.
A Friday morning presentation at the Citizens Club of Springfield welcomed a recycling advocate and commercial recycler to talk about how Springfield government and businesses can achieve a goal of Zero Waste.
Left to right: Todd Shumacker and Wynne Coplea
Wynne Coplea from the Illinois Green Economy Network says that municipalities can put forward policies and ordinances to encourage zero waste and recycling.
Todd Shumacker with Midwest Fiber Recycling says residents and businesses can use single-stream recycling, something his company facilitates, to cut down on landfill use and also help create more jobs in the recycling industry.
Springfield Public Works Director Mark Mahoney says city government is looking at ways to not only help businesses achieve Zero Waste, but also to increase internally the amount of recycling done by city government.
Federal prosecutors are taking a closer look at a Chicago lawmaker who recently retired.
The Chicago Tribune reports the U.S. Attorney’s Office has issued a new round of subpoenas seeking information about a scholarship fund named after retired Representative Connie Howard, and asking for records from an Illinois House committee that she chaired.
Howard oversaw the House computer technology committee, and at the same time sponsored the scholarship program that bore her name, which reportedly used state grant dollars to provide scholarships to undergraduate students.
The subpoenas were issued days after Howard stepped down for what she called “personal reasons.”
City Water, Light and Power is now asking its water customers, including Southern View, Leland Grove, Grandview, Jerome, Williamsville, Rochester and customers of the Sugar Creek Water District to voluntarily restrict outdoor watering.
The Utility says water usage is continuing to break records. The treatment plant produced over 40 million gallons of drinking water on Wednesday.
CWLP is requesting restricting outdoor water use to between 7pm and 8am and stagger watering days to Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday for even numbered addresses…Monday, Wednesday and Friday for odd-numbered addresses. Also, they’re asking to restrict washing machine and dishwasher use to 7pm to 8am. For more information on water conservation, visit www.cwlp.com.
Another Illinois lawmaker is coming under scrutiny over the tuition waivers he handed out under a program that was recently scrapped by the General Assembly and Gov. Pat Quinn.
Federal subpoenas have been issued for records from Chicago Democratic Representative Dan Burke.
Burke is the third lawmaker under federal investigation for the program, amid allegations that some legislators improperly handed out the scholarships to the children of political supporters, even those who lived outside their legislative districts.
A major U.S. memorabilia company improperly jacked up auction prices for some baseball cards and sold hair advertised as belonging to Elvis Presley even though its authenticity was in doubt, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Among the allegations is that the company did not disclose that a rare Honus Wagner baseball card had been altered, a fact which would have lowered its million-dollar auction price.
That company, Mastro Auctions of Chicago, is now shut down.
Owner William Mastro and two former company executives are facing charges of mail fraud.
Some of the actual people who were caught up in a notorious Springfield murder case were on hand –- or on screen – for Wednesday’s national broadcast of an episode of ABC’s summer series “Final Witness.”
The episode, which was shot in Springfield last year, re-creates the Mark Winger case.
Winger was originally hailed as a hero for killing an intruder that had bludgeoned his wife to death, but later police learned that Winger had killed both people and framed the man to take the blame.
Detective Charlie Cox, who helped crack the case, attended a screening at a Springfield bar.
Also on hand were family members of Roger Harrington, the transit van driver who was falsely accused, but was later revealed to be one of Winger’s victims.
The Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office and the Illinois Comptroller’s Office is offering an “Identity Theft, Frauds, and Scams” workshop at the Sangamon County Office of Emergency Management – 2801 North 5th Street on Friday from 10am to 11:30am.
The workshop is free to the public. Topics include proactive and reactive steps to take when dealing with Identity Theft…addressing everything from information about most common types of financial fraud and how to prevent becoming a victim.
A state representative whose involvement in an AIDS awareness organization provoked interest from federal prosecutors has resigned her office.
Democratic State Representative Connie Howard submitted her resignation earlier this month, citing only “personal reasons” for stepping down. Howard is one of several lawmakers who have come under scrutiny for the way grant money is doled out. However, subpoenas for records from her office were issued over three years ago, and she has not been accused of wrongdoing.
Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax says Howard has been in poor health in recent years.
The consolidation of 20 Illinois State Police call centers down to just four has run into some glitches.
The Southern Illinoisan newspaper reports that the Du Quoin center… which now fields calls that had previously been handled by four separate centers… suffered numerous technical problems this week that at times left the center without phone service, caller I-D, or GPS services.
AFSCME says Du Quoin and other centers have also been plagued by understaffing, leading to long overtime shifts for many workers. The union has criticized the consolidation, which was implemented as a cost-cutting move. AFSCME says the centers will be overworked and unable to provide timely response to people seeking State Police assistance.
Gambling and shopping could take their place along Lincoln as key attractions to draw more visitors to Springfield.
That’s according to Mayor Mike Houston, who is hoping to build on an increase in tourism numbers locally last year.
Houston says that although the number of visitors to the city is up, too many are spending just a day here and then leaving.
The mayor hopes a planned outlet mall near Scheels and the addition of video gambling at liquor establishments will give people more reason to plan an overnight stay, or even one that lasts several days.
Lawmakers are objecting to reports that the Quinn administration may seek to move some dangerous inmates to prisons out-of-state if the Tamms supermax prison is shut down as planned.
The governor’s office won’t confirm details of a proposal to move as many as nine inmates to prisons in other states, but acknowledge Illinois does have deals with other states to house inmates when dictated by safety issues or other needs.
Lawmakers who represent the area near Tamms say the move shows that Illinois cannot absorb the loss of the supermax prison, and accuse Quinn of outsourcing Illinois corrections jobs to other states.
As a court fight over marriage equality in Illinois continues, some lawmakers want to take the issue out of the hands of the courts, and put it into the hands of the voters.
Four Republican representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution, which seeks to put a constitutional amendment on the 2014 ballot, one which would state that “only a marriage between a man and a woman would be valid and recognized in Illinois.”
Past attempts to put similar language on the ballot in Illinois have failed.
No action on the new attempt is expected until this fall at the earliest.
Bill Cellini’s lawyers have formally requested probation for the Springfield powerbroker, who is awaiting an October sentencing on corruption convictions.
His defense team says the prosecution recommendation of an eight-year sentence is based in part on allegations for which Cellini was acquitted, and which therefore should not be factored into his sentence.
A court filing says that Cellini was not a major player in the schemes being pushed by others in former governor Rod Blagojevich’s inner circle.
The Springfield School Board will vote next month on several proposed policy changes, including one to formally add “sexual orientation” to the list of categories that are protected from discrimination within the school system.
Board member Scott McFarland says he believes the district already follows a policy of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and says its omission from official district policy was just an oversight.
The board will also consider more specific rules prohibiting political activity on school property.
The Sangamon County coroner has released the name of the woman killed in a suspected DUI crash in downtown Springfield Saturday night.
A statement from the coroner says 22-year-old Quana S. Pool of Springfield was the driver of one of the vehicles involved in the crash. A Waverly man, 26-year-old Alex Robertson, is accused of running a red light at 9th and Monroe while under the influence and colliding with Poole’s vehicle.
The cause of death is under investigation. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.
The Big Ten Conference is imposing its own sanctions on Penn State University, in addition to the fines and other punishments handed down by the NCAA because of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse coverup.
The conference says Penn State is on probation and will have to forfeit its share of the conference’s bowl game earnings… an estimated $13 million over the next four years. The Big Ten says the money will go to programs that benefit child abuse victims in cities where Big Ten schools are located… like Champaign-Urbana.
The conference reportedly considered kicking Penn State out of the Big Ten completely, but ultimately decided against it.
A family of five is receiving help from the local Red Cross chapter after escaping an early-morning fire at their home in Loami.
The blaze was reported shortly after midnight. The family was home at the time, but was able to escape the flames unharmed.
Fire crews were on the scene for five hours trying to contain the blaze, which heavily damaged the home. Loami Fire Chief Jim Weakley says the cause of the fire has not been determined, and no damage estimate is yet available.
Staffers for U.S. Senator Mark Kirk say they will have an update on his condition in the near future.
Kirk is still recovering from a stroke six months ago that has kept him away from Capitol Hill ever since.
He has not cast a vote since then, but is listed as co-sponsor on numerous bills. However, Chicago Public Radio reports that Kirk’s staff declines to say whether the senator personally approved each decision to sign on as co-sponsor.
A statement from Kirk’s office says the senator is eager to get back to work as soon as possible.
Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of Drew Peterson.
The former Bolingbrook police officer is accused of killing his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Her death was originally ruled an accident after her body was found in her bathtub.
But after Peterson’s fourth wife Stacy disappeared and was presumed dead, more attention was focused on him and his possible role in Savio’s death. Peterson remains a suspect but has not been charged in Stacy’s disappearance.
Illinois now has new restrictions on cell-phone use behind the wheel.
Among the measures signed by Governor Pat Quinn are bans on using a phone while driving through any road construction work zone; previously it was only prohibited in work zones where reduced speeds were imposed.
Another new law contains an outright ban on use of hand-held devices by commercial drivers.
The Illinois House will hold a special session next month to decide whether one of its members should be kicked out.
House Speaker Mike Madigan has called the House into session on August 17th for an expulsion vote against Representative Derrick Smith. The Chicago Democrat is under federal indictment for allegedly accepting a $7,000 bribe in exchange for helping a day care center land a state grant.
That special session of the House next month may have more than one item on the agenda. Governor Pat Quinn says as long as lawmakers are here to decide the fate of Derrick Smith, they should also take action on pension reform.
Lawmakers have been told to plan to be in session for just one day, but a spokesman for the Illinois House did not rule out the possibility that pension reform could be acted upon.
The Illinois House will meet in special session on August 17th to vote on whether to kick out Rep. Derrick Smith, who is facing federal bribery charges.
A House committee this week recommended that Smith be expelled because of the charges. Smith denies the federal allegations against him, but refused to testify before the House committees that were investigating the case.
A two-thirds vote of the House would be required to expel Smith from the House... and even then, he would remain on the ballot in November, with a chance to win election to another term in the legislature.
After several weeks of repairs, the Nelson Center pool is reopening.
The pool opens today (as of 1pm Friday) after being shut down to fix a malfunctioning pump.
To make up for the lost pool time during the dog days of summer, park district officials say they will extend the season at Nelson Center, keeping the pool open during most of September. Usually the pool would close Labor Day Weekend, but forecasters are predicting a hotter-than-normal September.
Springfield police plan to increase their presence in and around local movie theaters this weekend, just to keep a watchful eye out for any possible copycat crimes in the aftermath of the deadly shooting at a Colorado theater.
Deputy Chief Cliff Buscher says moviegoers should be alert to any signs of trouble, but indicates there is no specific reason to think that anyone is in particular danger at the movies.
He notes that even with a greater police presence, it’s almost impossible to prevent or plan for a “lone wolf” type of attack.
As District 186 tries to finalize budget numbers for this school year, the district’s top financial officer has abruptly resigned.
No reason was given for Leonora Beck’s departure, but a district spokesman says she was not fired and says her departure was not directly connected to school board complaints about large variations in the estimated savings from proposed budget cuts.
Beck’s predecessor as business services director, Agnes Nunn, will come back to serve as an unpaid consultant to help the district pull the budget together before a scheduled vote in late August.
Springfield could be under mandatory water restrictions in a matter of weeks.
With lake levels dropping as much as an inch a day, Mayor Mike Houston says he will introduce an ordinance putting a series of water conservation measures in place. While the working proposal would not prohibit things like watering lawns, it would limit such activities to certain days of the week.
Houston hasn't decided what penalties to put in the ordinance... and says the goal isn't to write tickets. It's to get people thinking now about water conservation... especially since even tighter restrictions may be needed by late winter or early spring next year if the dry spell continues.
City Water Light and Power is reporting that 115 CWLP customers have been taken advantage in an ongoing identity scam.
In the scam a fraudster calls and says that President Barack Obama will pay rate payers’ utility bills.
A post on the capital city utility's Facebook page says that CWLP Customer Service Representatives are aware of three fraudulent bank routing numbers that are used in the scam and are trying to inform rate payers when they call in with questions.
Springfield Aldermen voted to pass several significant ordinances Tuesday on the consent agenda.
One would give public works the authority to go on nuisance property to trim weeds.
A set of ordinances approves an agreement with the state of Illinois to provide fire protection services for the Illinois State Fair Grounds. There are also several ordinances that allow for the purchase of six heavy-duty vehicles for the Springfield Fire Department for just over a quarter-million dollars.
The city also moved to approve $32.7 million for the new pump stations for the water division.
A re-write of the city's process for subdividing land was also approved, making it easier for developers to propose new developments to city hall.
In addition to these ordinances, aldermen approved a contract for the sale of the former west branch library to Sacred Heart Griffin school for $40,000.
Aldermen place what is considered non-controversial ordinances on the consent agenda to approve several ordinances with one vote.
A proposal to ban indoor tanning for anyone under the age of 18 is on hold.
Alderman Sam Cahnman kept his ordinance in committee because he lacked the votes to pass it.
Aldermen debated the issue for more than 90 minutes Tuesday night, with supporters arguing that tanning poses a public health hazard, while opponents say the ordinance interferes too much with personal choices.
An arbitrator has sent the dispute over promised pay raises for state workers back to a Cook County judge, with a warning.
Arbitrator Edwin Benn says it’s the job of the courts to settle the law on whether Illinois is obligated to fulfill the contract with its employee unions, and says the decision will have a direct impact on all future collective bargaining.
Governor Pat Quinn has refused to pay those raises, saying lawmakers failed to appropriate money for them.
AFSCME sued, and the judge ruled that Illinois did not have to pay money that had not been approved by lawmakers.
He then sent the case back to Benn to determine if there really was insufficient money for the raises. But Benn says that’s a question for a judge, not an arbitrator.
A local woman has filed suit against her former employer, claiming the company unfairly fired her over a medical condition that caused her to occasionally fall asleep on the job. WLDS Radio in Jacksonville reports Rosemary Garman is suing Health Care Services Corporation under provisions of the Illinois Human Rights Act.
According to the suit, Garman suffers from a Vitamin D deficiency and an underactive thyroid, causing her to be drowsy and occasionally fall asleep at her desk. The suit says she sought a “reasonable accommodation” that would allow her to work around those times when her condition caused her to fall asleep, but contends the company fired her without discussing ways to accommodate her condition. Garman had worked there for nine-and-a-half years when she was fired in April of 2011.
Springfield attorney John Baker is handling the case on behalf of Garman.
Two of Springfield’s Elementary Schools will be returning to the classrooms this Thursday. Graham and Southern View Elementary school students will be going back to school on July 19th – a month before the rest of the District.
Although the two schools have the same number of school days as the rest in the district, their days are spread out more evenly over the year. Summers are shorter, and they have a longer fall, winter and spring break.
Parents and guardians of Graham and Southern View students who have not registered their children for school should do so as soon as possible.
The rest of the district starts school on Monday, August 20th.
City Water, Light and Power may be cutting back the flow of electricity voluntarily due to high usage during this heat wave. The Midwest Independent System Operator regulates the flow of electricity over an 11-state region of the electric grid – which includes Springfield. They're coordinating with its members for the possibility of energy reduction.
Should that happen, there are several ways customers can reduce electric demand, including turning the air conditioner thermostat up two degrees, use minimal lighting, and disconnect home appliances not in use.
For more information on reducing electric usage, visit CWLP’s Facebook page, or call 789-2070.
The future of Springfield’s former West Branch Library is still up in the air, even after the eventual sale to Sacred Heart Griffin.
Sister Katherine O’Connor tells WMAY News that the school will perform a space utilization study on the property to determine the best use for the school and for the city.
That means that the initial use Alderman Kris Theilen conveyed to the council is not certain.
Last week Theilen told the council that SHG said they would use it for administration offices and possible classrooms. The Ward 8 Aldermen says he wanted the surplus property to sell for between $50,000 and $60,000.
An ordinance accepting the bid of $40,000 from SHG is up on the consent agenda tonight at city hall.
The property that was built in the early 60s was eventually closed in 2008. Jay Wavering, the city’s purchasing agent, says in 2005 the property was appraised at $250,000 but there is also asbestos and a myriad of other problems in the property that has diminished the value.
There is currently a parking lot on the east side of the library parcel and an empty lot on the west side. SHG owns both parcels adjacent to the former library.
Wavering says that SHG was the only bid placed on the property.
Two other parties showed interest, according to Wavering, but never submitted a bid.
The Springfield Park Board is still considering an option to purchase a portion of Griffin Woods, despite questions about the price tag and the usefulness of the property.
The State Journal-Register reports the board is asking for more information about how that one-point-seven acre parcel would be affected by the Schnuck’s grocery chain’s plans to develop the rest of the 20-acre woods on the city’s west side.
The section under consideration by the Park District has fewer trees than other parts of Griffin Woods, and part of it would be set aside for use as a retention pond to capture runoff from other areas that Schnuck’s plans to turn into a retail development.
The emergency room doctor who’s running for Congress in the 13th District is visiting small critical-care hospitals around his district this week. Democrat David Gill says those hospitals… serving areas like Litchfield, Hillsboro and Pana… would be devastating by Republican plans to shrink Medicare spending.
Dr. David Gill
Gill says Medicare is a successful, efficient program that should be expanded to include even more people… creating a “public option” that he says would be better than President Obama’s health care reform plan.
Gill also wants to ease some regulations on hospitals… he’s calling for an easing of the rule that requires hospitals to treat everyone who comes into the emergency room. Gill says doctors should be able to use their triage skills to decide when a patient can be sent home without receiving costly treatment.
He appeared live Monday on 970 WMAY's Jim Leach Show.
The state is moving forward with plans to consolidate 20 state police dispatching centers down to just four.
That will leave Illinois with fewer state police call centers than any of its neighboring states.
The Bloomington Pantagraph reports that dispatch centers in Pittsfield and Macomb have already been closed and their duties relocated to the center in Springfield, which will remain open.
The move was intended to reduce state police headcount by 60 positions and save more than a million dollars, but a state police spokesperson says only four people will be laid off, and declined to give a revised estimate on savings.
Defense lawyers for Springfield powerbroker Bill Cellini will ask for a delay in his July 23rd sentencing, as Cellini continues to recover from a recent heart attack and blood clot.
The defense is asking for Cellini to be sentenced to probation for his role in a shakedown scheme aimed at trading state business for campaign donations to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
But prosecutors say Cellini needs to do time in prison to deter others from similar crimes. They have recommended an eight-year sentence, but acknowledge that it may be appropriate to lower that because of Cellini's age and health.
A proposal to revamp the structure of the committee that oversees Springfield’s self-insurance fund goes before the city council starting next week.
The Houston administration and the city’s labor unions agreed on the new committee makeup after a court ruling that the current oversight committee was not exempt from the Open Meetings Act, and therefore must conduct its deliberations in public.
The new committee excludes representatives for retirees and employees who are not part of a union. City attorney Mark Cullen says the new group would be able to deliberate and negotiate privately, but any final action would require public approval.
They’re taking a stand against animal smells and messes in Kincaid, just south of Springfield.
The village passed an ordinance this week that will limit all households in the village to no more than three dogs or cats. The measure was in response to complaints from people saying that the presence of too many pets has led to chronic problems with animal droppings in people’s yards.
Any Kincaid residents who already have more than three animals won’t have to get rid of any, but they won’t be able to replace them, either, until they have fewer than three.
Springfield Mayor Mike Houston has declared this “Jerry Lambert Day,” in honor of the longtime Channel 20 anchor who is retiring after Thursday night’s ten o’clock news.
Lambert has been the main anchor at the TV station since 19-95. He is retiring to return to his family home in Florida. Lambert is also well-known for his extensive community involvement, appearing at numerous charity events around the area.
As questions persist about the condition and prognosis of Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., a government watchdog says there should be a provision to appoint a temporary replacement for members of Congress who are incapacitated.
Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association tells Chicago’s WLS Radio that it’s not fair for thousands… or millions… of constituents to be deprived of representation for an indefinite period of time.
Jackson’s staff says he is hospitalized for a mood disorder, but have not elaborated on the nature of the ailment or how long he’ll be away from work. In addition, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk has been away from Capitol Hill for months while he recovers from a stroke.
A Springfield woman is facing federal embezzlement charges for allegedly taking more than $400,000 from her employer.
A federal grand jury indicted 50-year-old Alice Foss, accusing her of using her position as chief financial officer to siphon off funds over a 12-year period from Don Moss and Associates, a consulting firm.
Foss allegedly gave herself unauthorized bonuses and reimbursements for expenses, and used company money to pay a variety of personal expenses.
A long-running legislative perk is coming to an end.
Governor Pat Quinn has signed legislation ending the decades-old practice of lawmakers handing out college tuition waivers to students in their districts.
Many lawmakers had defended the program, saying they used it to reward deserving students… not to hand out political favors. But some lawmakers have been under investigation for misusing the program… including allegedly using false addresses to give the waivers to students outside their districts. And critics also say that cash-strapped colleges and universities had to absorb the cost of the waivers.
Legislators will get to issue one more round of the scholarships this year before the program ends for good.
The debated heated up Tuesday as the Springfield City Council Committee of the Whole talked about restricting minors under the age 18 from using tanning beds at tanning salons, even with a parent’s permission.
Advocates and opponents agree that the science is clear—tanning can lead to cancer. Where they disagree is what the government should do about it.
Several aldermen said they don’t want to take freedoms away from parents. Proponents of the restrictions say parents are not free to harm their children.
Ward 10’s Tim Griffin, a cancer survivor, understands the science that prompted the ordinance but he doesn’t feel it’s the city’s job to interfere with a parents job of telling their children “no.”
Ward 1 Alderman Frank Edwards says that he’s done passing ordinances that take away freedoms and the issue of tanning is something that needs to be left in the hands of the parents.
Ward 4’s Frank Lesko disagrees. He says this ordinance provides parents with a tool to stand up to their kids who may be defiant and go tan regardless of what the parent says.
The debate for the tanning ordinance lasted almost an hour Tuesday with dermatologists, cancer survivors and also people who have lost loved ones to cancer taking part in the conversation.
Aldermen placed the tanning ordinance on the debate agenda for next week’s city council meeting.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan says more than $57,000 worth of illegal synthetic drugs have been confiscated from four Decatur stores.
Her office teamed with Decatur and Macon County authorities to conduct the check of retail establishments, and found more than 2,000 individual packets of K-2, a type of synthetic marijuana, and the drugs known as “bath salts.”
A statement from Madigan’s office says the stores surrendered the products voluntarily, and does not indicate that they are facing charges.
Some local road improvements will get a boost now that Governor Pat Quinn has signed a transportation bill allowing Illinois to move forward with $1.6 billion in transportation projects.
It’s the next phase of a public works program that began in 2009.
Local projects included in the package are the ongoing redesign of Dirksen Parkway at Clear Lake, and the widening of Wabash Avenue west of Koke Mill. Illinois will pay for the projects by selling bonds.
The City of Springfield’s self insurance fund is ready to take a multi-million dollar hit because of a possible settlement before the city council.
An ordinance before the City Council would transfer $900,000 from City Water Light and Power as a deductible in the case… part of a proposed initial payout of $1.2 million for a debilitating injury suffered by a worker at the utility in 2010. The city would then make annual payments for a total of claim of nearly $3 million.
Corporation Council Mark Cullen says the city’s self insurance fund has accumulated around $10 million over the years and is there for these types of cases. Cullen says if the city took the case to trial, instead of settling, there’s no telling what kind of damage award a jury might grant.
It’s nearly six years in the making… city officials say a new development plan will not only streamline development proposals before the Springfield City Council, it will also spur on more growth for the capital city.
The ordinance before the council would change the process for which developers go about submitting proposals for developing plots of land. Dean Graven with the Springfield Area Home Builders Association says that instead of taking the plan to the council two or three times, the city engineer will work out the details with the developers and then present one final proposal to aldermen.
Mayor Mike Houston says that the new system will be faster and more cost-effective for developers.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security has initiated an inmate cross-match program to protect taxpayers, prevent fraud and abuse, and help the economy.
The database will be matched against inmate lists from Illinois county jails and state prisons. Among the requirements to be eligible for unemployment insurance is the ability to be available to work. The new system would identify individuals who are incarcerated, but receiving a benefit payment.
According to the IDES, the temporary dollars are often spent at the local grocery, gas station and clothing store, thereby supporting the local economy. They say every $1.00 in unemployment benefits generates nearly $1.63 in economic activity.
Some SkilSaw Miter saws made in China and distributed by Robert Bosch Tool Corporation of Mount Prospect, Illinois are being recalled. The lower guard can break and contact the blade during use – posing a laceration hazard to the user.
The Saws were sold at Lowe’s Home Centers nationwide and O.C. Tanner from January to April of this year. A little over 22 thousand saws were sold during that time period, but so far, no incidents or injuries have been reported.
District 186 will cut significantly less from the upcoming school year’s budget than originally proposed.
After initially recommending $5 million in cuts, Superintendent Walter Milton’s staff says the actual reductions will be closer to $3.4 million. The administration says a closer review of actual spending shows the proposed cuts would not save as much money as originally thought.
Milton says he will keep looking for additional places to cut the budget.
A retired judge is suing the state in an attempt to block the new law that will require state retirees to begin paying their own health insurance premiums.
According to the State Journal-Register, former Appellate Court judge Gordon Maag (mahg) says the new law is unconstitutional and deprives retirees of benefits to which they are entitled. He is asking to have the case turned into a class-action lawsuit covering all state government retirees.
Republican congressional candidate Rodney Davis says President Obama’s plan to preserve tax cuts for the middle class, while raising rates on wealthier Americans, would damage the economy and lead to more job losses.
Davis, who is running to replace Tim Johnson in the 13th Congressional District, says people making 250-thousand-dollars or more are often business owners who may have to cut back on hiring if their taxes go up.
Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” Davis says the Bush tax cuts have helped the country economically over the past decade.
A local man is facing charges including aggravated arson after allegedly setting a house on fire with his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend inside. The couple were among six people in the home in ClearLakeVillage when it caught fire early Sunday.
Authorities say 31-year-old Robert Dunham had threatened to burn down the house because his former girlfriend was seeing someone else. Witnesses say Dunham poured gasoline on the porch of the home and ignited it. Everyone inside got out safely.
Dunham was arrested Sunday afternoon following a police chase.
There were a lot of ideas and not many solutions as a panel debated teacher pensions Monday at Springfield High School. A panel debated the issue of whether the state continue funding their promised share of pensions for teachers or to shift that burden to the local school districts.
Members of a panel discussion from Springfield High School Monday. Left to right: Collin Hitt, Scott McFarland & Cinda Klickna. Photo by Greg Bishop
School Board member Scott McFarland, the president of the Illinois Education Association, Cinda Klickna, and Collin Hitt, Senior Director of Government Affairs for the Illinois Policy Institute discussed the pros and cons of the cost shift.
The Illinois Policy Institute supports shifting the pension costs to local districts saying that the status quo where the state picks up the majority of the pension cost is an unfair subsidy for more wealthy school districts who can afford to hand out six figure salaries for teachers and not be on the hook for the pension obligation.
The inevitability of the shift seems certain to McFarland. He says that signs coming from the general assembly and the governor’s office show the cost shift of pensions is likely.
"After hearing the arguments for and against, do you support local or oppose local pension accountability? 39% support, 48% oppose, 14% unsure"
McFarland also says that District 186 budget talks for the next fiscal year indicate that the district is already anticipating an $8 million deficit and shifting the pension costs locally could tack on an additional $7 million.
McFarland and Klickna say there are other ways to fund the pensions including changing the tax structure and even raising property taxes.
Monday’s discussion began with a text poll of those in attendance. Before the debate just over a third supported the cost shift to local districts. After the debate nearly half of 29 respondents opposed the cost shift.
The Illinois Policy Institute hosted the discussion.
City Water, Light and Power are warning their customers of a phone scam locally.
CWLP customers say they’ve been contacted by someone claiming that a program from President Barack Obama and the Federal Reserve Bank is offering utility assistance. The scam reportedly aims to steal identity information. The solicitation focuses on in-person, social media, fliers, text messages and phone calls.
Anyone contacted by someone asking for bank routing numbers, and full social security numbers for which to pay their utility bills should be advised that CWLP would never request that information.
All bill assistance programs can be confirmed via Customer Service at 789-2030. And rebates at Energy Services at 789-2070. Programs are also listed on the website at CWLP (dot) com.
A jealous boyfriend may be on the hook for an arson in the 200 block of East Houston Street in Clearlake Village.
The Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office says 31 year old Robert C. Dunham of the 7000 Block of Mechanicsburg Road was arrested for setting fire to a residence Sunday morning, using gasoline and then fled the scene. The home’s occupants say Dunham had threatened to burn down the house because his girlfriend – an occupant of the house – was dating another man.
The Illinois State Police caught up to Dunham on I-72 on the Western edge of Sangamon County as the suspect was allegedly headed to Griggsville in Pike County, but he fled from police and headed back toward Springfield. Eventually Dunham was apprehended at 2700 Prairie Crossing in Springfield.
Dunham is charged with Aggravated Arson and Residential Arson, with bond set at $100,000.
A rash of violent incidents in Illinois prisons in recent weeks is adding to concerns about overcrowding, especially with the impending shutdown of the Tamms supermax prison in southern Illinois.
The Associated Press documented a number of incidents, including an inmate who was stabbed nine times during a fight at the Stateville Correctional Center, and a guard at Pontiac who was stabbed by an inmate.
In another instance, two inmates were found unresponsive in their cells, after apparently overdosing on heroin.
AFSCME, which represents prison guards, says the incidents show that the state’s prisons are too overcrowded and dangerous, a situation that will only get worse if Tamms is closed.
Jennifer Watkins, who is embroiled with her murdered husband’s parents in a dispute over visitation with the couple’s young daughter, has again defied a court order requiring her to bring the girl to see her grandparents.
Watkins missed another scheduled visit with Dale and Penny Watkins last month.
The State Journal-Register reports Dale and Penny Watkins are still considering their legal options, while they simultaneously pursue a wrongful death claim against Jennifer and others.
Steven Watkins was gunned down in Ashland in 2008 as he attempted to pick up his daughter for a scheduled visit.
Jennifer’s grandmother, Shirley Skinner, is serving a 55-year prison sentence in the killing.
Controversial comments by Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh have led to a cash infusion for his Democratic opponent.
Walsh drew criticism last week when he complained that Tammy Duckworth, an Army veteran who lost both legs and the use of one arm in a helicopter crash while serving in Iraq, was talking too much about her military service, something that Walsh says “true heroes” don’t do.
The Duckworth campaign says she’s taken in more than 85-thousand dollars in donations in the past week, a period of time when the campaign would ordinarily expect to get only a couple thousand dollars.
The heat wave is coming to an end… relatively speaking. High temperatures for the next few days are still expected to hit 90 or above… but that will be 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the record-setting temperatures that have gripped Central Illinois for the past week or more. Heat index readings will also stay well below triple digits.
But dry conditions will persist. The long-range forecast has little chance of rain for the coming week.
At least ten deaths in the Chicago area are being linked to the extreme heat of recent days. In most cases, the victim had another significant health condition, and the heat is listed as a contributing factor to the death. Several other deaths are being investigated to see if heat may have been a factor.
Governor Pat Quinn has issued an executive order to increase state oversight of investigations into the deaths of adults with disabilities following a newspaper report that uncovered problems.
The Belleville News-Democrat found that the inspector general for the Department of Human Services did not investigate 53 deaths of disabled adults because he considered such investigations to be state “services,” and deceased clients were ineligible to receive services.
Inspector General William M. Davis has offered his resignation, effective Aug. 1.
Authorities say Pease's Candy Shop on State Street was the victim of an armed robbery around 3pm Friday.
WMAY News has been told by Cliff Buscher, Deputy Chief of the Springfield Police Department that three black males wearing bandanas walked into Peases. One of the suspects was carrying a handgun. A female store employee was struck in the head.
The subjects fled with an undetermined amount of money.
Illinois is set to receive a large amount of money from a new federal transportation bill passed by congress late last month and signed by the president Friday morning. Some of that money could be secured for rail consolidation through Springfield.
From left to right: Senator Dick Durbin, IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider, Mike Zahn & Brad Shaive
Senator Dick Durbin says the bill offers up $500 million dollars in grants for Illinois. Some of that money could be used to fund improvements for the 10th Street corridor for rail consolidation.
Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider says that once the recently presented environmental impact study concerning the 10th Street corridor is put into the record, the state will move forward to secure some of the grant money to fund the project.
In the meantime, Durbin says that money will be made available to increase the safety of the existing 3rd street tracks.
Other highlights of the legislation, the first transpiration bill passed in over one-thousand days according to the senator, is the number of jobs it will produce for Illinois laborers. A release from the Senator’s office says that approximately 68,000 jobs will be created or saved in Illinois.
Durbin noted that with the near record temperatures outside doesn’t make for ideal working conditions, but Mike Zahn, with the International Union of Operating Engineers, disagrees.
Zahn notes that some laborers have been unemployed for nine months and that is worse than working in triple-digit heat. This bill would give thousands across the state jobs which in turn would boost local economies, according to Zahn.
Brad Shaive with the Laborers International Union of North America Local 477 says this bill is an economic engine. Shaive says the bill not only puts people back to work but it will also fuel equipment manufacturers and road construction material suppliers throughout the state of Illinois.
Durbin notes that the bill does not include earmarks, but he worked to keep Illinois’ earmarks in place as part of the overall available $4.1 billion available for the state. That money, coupled with $14 billion from Governor Pat Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! plan will help provide the necessary improvements to highways and mass transit development, according to a release from Durbin’s office.
Durbin says not everything about the bill is good. He says the bill does not include any increase of funds for AMTRAK even though the train operations ridership has increased.
Mayor Mike Houston says his administration may act on its own to divide the city up into waste hauling zones, rather than going through the city council.
Houston did not elaborate on how those zones might work during a live interview on 970 WMAY Thursday, and said the overall revamp of the city’s trash pickup system is still under discussion.
One idea is apparently off the table. Houston says it is unlikely that the city will seek to have residents pay for waste hauling through their CWLP bill, although the utility may take over billing and collection of fees for recycling services.
Sangamon County’s Citizens Efficiency Commission recommends that townships could save money by sharing administrative functions and expenses in their General Assistance programs.
Such an arrangement is already in place between Capital and Chatham townships, according to the commission.
The panel’s latest recommendation says that while each township would still be responsible for the actual assistance benefits it pays out to low-income residents, the system could be implemented with greater consistency and fewer expenses if administrative functions were pooled.
But the recommendation says some changes in state law may be needed to get the maximum benefit.
A move to legalize video gambling in Springfield could provide enough money to help the city tackle urgent street and sidewalk repairs.
That’s according to Mayor Mike Houston, who still won’t release estimates on how much revenue could be generated if the gambling machines are approved for use in the city. But the mayor thinks it would be enough to serve as a primary funding source for a bond issue that could jump-start the city’s infrastructure improvements.
However, a formal plan is not likely until after the first of the year… time enough for the city to approve video gambling and to get some idea of how much money it might bring in.
Even though he doesn’t expect that Springfield will have to impose water restrictions during this hot, dry summer, Mayor Mike Houston still has concerns about the city’s long-range water supply… and still sees a second lake as a potential solution.
Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” Houston says Lake Springfield is down only slightly, in spite of drought conditions and some of the heaviest water usage in years. But Houston says if those conditions persist, he worries about the city’s ability to provide enough water for normal consumption and for usage by City Water Light and Power’s electric plants.
Houston will present a study to the City Council next week on whether water from gravel pits could serve as a backup source. But the mayor says taking water from those pits could have a detrimental impact on other nearby communities.
The forthcoming proposal to overhaul trash pickup in Springfield is now unlikely to include putting waste hauling charges on the City Water Light and Power bill.
That’s according to Mayor Mike Houston, appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show.” Houston says he is working with aldermen to reach a consensus that can win majority support, indicating that putting trash pickup on the CWLP bill is not popular among aldermen. The plan is expected to have residents pay the city directly for recycling services through their utility bill, rather than sending that money to the trash hauler, who in turn pays the city.
Meanwhile, Houston says he is still working with aldermen on a final proposal for limiting amplified sound at outdoor events. The mayor created a stir this spring when he proposed an early noise curfew… but now he’s not saying where the cutoff time might be set.
Panhandling citations in Springfield are being issued at a faster rate than last year, but a local activist wants the city to back off.
Don Norton, an advocate for the homeless, says the city’s ban on panhandling in the downtown area violates their rights.
During Tuesday’s Springfield city council meeting, Norton, representing Homeless United for Change, says he panhandles to make ends meet. And though he’s not homeless now he could soon find himself back on the streets this winter.
Norton says there are many reasons for people to panhandle and the city should be able to address at least one of those needs. He acknowledges that there are organizations that have beds and services but they are severely limited. He also says he’s been harassed by police for panhandling and even cited by the city.
Springfield Aldermen Kris Theilen says that he understands the plight, but there are aggressive panhandlers downtown that must be dealt with.
Norton says the Supreme Court has ruled that peaceful panhandling is protected by the first amendment and that city's can ban panhandling in select areas but not city wide. The city’s ordinance does not ban panhandling outright, but it does make the downtown off limits to panhandlers.
Aldermen Frank Edwards and Doris Turner both said they would like to form a subcommittee to work with Springfield’s homeless population to find some resolve.
The State Journal-Register reports that a new push against downtown panhandling has led to more citations being written in the first half of this year than were written during all of 2011.
Large crowds turned out Wednesday night for the fireworks in downtown Springfield, but some people may have waited to come down because of the triple-digit heat earlier in the day.
But the afternoon high of 100 degrees was well shy of a Fourth of July record, that record of 105 degrees was set in 1936, during a heat wave that produced ten consecutive days of record-setting high temperatures of more than 100 degrees.
The state Department of Human Services apparently did not notify coroner’s offices in Illinois’s largest counties, including Sangamon, when a disabled adult who was living at home died.
That’s according to the Belleville News Democrat, which has been investigating the failure of that agency’s inspector general to investigate deaths that may have been linked to abuse or neglect.
The head of the Illinois Coroner’s Association says a heads-up from the department could have allowed coroners in those counties to order autopsies and preserve evidence for possible criminal investigations.
A DHS spokesperson says the agency did contact officials in those counties in many cases, but didn’t always document that contact.
Springfield Mayor Mike Houston introduced the video gaming ordinance Tuesday and says all the generated revenue from licensing the machines will be devoted to road and sidewalk projects.
The ordinance says that establishments that have a state license must get a city license to operate gaming devices within Springfield. The city license will cost $500 and there will be an additional $250 fee per unit, annually.
Houston says that there are no solid estimates yet on how much money will be brought in to the city's coffers but that after the first year officials will evaluate how much has been brought in and offer up bonds for infrastructure improvements.
The committee of the whole will review the video gambling ordinance next week.
Springfield Mayor Mike Houston was the deciding no vote shooting down an ordinance proposing to change the threshold for which council members must approve contracts with the city.
The proposal would have lowered the threshold from $100,000 to $50,000.
Aldermen debated the pros and cons to having a lowered threshold.
Opponents say the change would mean a flood of more ordinances for aldermen to approve and that the city's purchasing agent is competent to scrutinize contracts. Proponents say that the city dealt with contracts when the threshold was at $15,000 just a few years ago and aldermen are there to be good stewards of the city's resources.
Aldermen Frank Edwards, Doris Turner, Frank Lesko, Cory Jobe, Joe McMenamin and Steve Dove, along with Mayor Mike Houston, voted no.
In a surprise move by Mayor Mike Houston, Springfield aldermen approved two ordinances that establishes a Fleet and Facilities Management division under the Office of Budget and Management and also creates of a Fleet Manager position.
The ordinances were left in committee last week after aldermen debated whether OBM should oversee the division or whether the fleet and facilities management should stand alone.
Aldermen Gail Simpson also objected to not having the fleet manager job description. She received the description just before Tuesday's full city council meeting where Houston pulled the ordinances out of committee and put it up for debate and a vote.
The Fleet Management division and fleet manager position are the next step for the city to begin consolidating the garages for the city's fleet of vehicles.
Currently there are separate garages for police, fire, public works and City Water Light and Power. City officials say consolidating the garages will save up to $5 million in the next five years.
Aldermen Frank Edwards, Gail Simpson and Tim Griffin voted no for both ordinances.
Central Illinois remains locked in the grip of a heat wave that will push holiday temperatures into the triple digits... and the first real relief from the swletering conditions may be a week away.
An Excessive Heat Warning remains in effect through at least Saturday evening. High temperatures for the Fourth of July and several days afterward are expected to be at or above 100 degrees, with heat index reading closer to 110.
The extended forecast calls for high temperatures in the 90s all the way through Monday. The first sign of a break from the extreme heat comes next Tuesday, when the current forecast predicts a high in the mid-80s.
Two downstate county clerks will be allowed to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in a lawsuit filed by more than two dozen couples.
When that lawsuit was originally filed several weeks ago, both Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez refused to defend the ban, indicating they agreed with the plaintiffs that the ban is unconstitutional.
But the county clerks of Tazewell and Effingham Counties asked for, and were granted, permission to intervene and argue that the ban should be upheld.
A Springfield alderman says he’s more concerned about public health than about the possible damage to local businesses from his proposed new regulations on tanning parlors.
Ward Five alderman Sam Cahnman wants to prohibit the use of tanning beds by anyone under the age of 18… even if they have a parent’s permission. Appearing live on 970 WMAY's "Jim Leach Show," Cahnman says indoor tanning has been linked to significantly higher rates of skin cancer.
He acknowledges that he did not talk with local tanning parlors before introducing the ordinance, but says that he will reach out to them. But Cahnman says their business concerns do not override the health dangers that tanning poses for young people.
Back in the 1990s, Dale Robinson of Jacksonville wrote a detailed episode-by-episode guide of the popular sitcom with his friend, the late David Fernandes. Robinson says that although Griffith was never credited as a director or writer, nothing happened on the classic 1960s series without his approval. As a result, Robinson says the show paid tribute to all-American virtues without becoming silly or sarcastic.
A Cook County judge agrees that Governor Pat Quinn cannot spend money that was not appropriated by the legislature, even if there is a binding contract in place.
But the judge has asked an arbitrator to collect more information before deciding whether there was really a funding shortfall last year that would have allowed Quinn to withhold promised pay raises for state workers.
That same arbitrator has already ruled once in favor of AFSCME, and the union says it will work to again make its case that the workers are entitled to the raises that were negotiated in their contract.
Springfield’s Catholic bishop says a prayer rally Monday at the State Capitol was not a political event, and he’s not telling Catholics how to vote.
But Bishop Thomas John Paprocki says Catholics should speak up and speak out about what he sees as threats to religious liberty, including Governor Pat Quinn’s support of civil unions and same-sex marriage, and President Obama’s rule requiring insurance companies to provide contraception as part of their health plans.
Paprocki says those rules are making it impossible for Catholic organizations to serve the community while remaining true to their faith.
Local residents are still fighting to save a wooded area targeted for demolition and retail development.
Some of them are urging the Springfield Park Board to exercise its option to purchase Griffin Woods and keep its old-growth trees intact.
The Park District has the right to buy the land from the Catholic Diocese and develop it into a park, but the Schnuck’s grocery chain also want to purchase it and build a new supermarket and other retail space.
Springfield's Catholic Bishop says he is not telling the faithful how to vote... but he is making it clear that Catholics should stand up and be heard.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki presided over a prayer rally at the State Capitol, before a crowd estimate by the Diocese at 375 people. The rally is part of the "Fortnight for Freedom," a two-week-long push by Catholic bishops to encourage clergy and lay people to speak out against what they say is an assault on religious freedom.
Paprocki says speaking out... and praying... can help fight back against issues such as President Obama's rule requiring insurance companies to cover contraception, or Governor Pat Quinn's support of civil unions and same-sex marriage.
The Illinois Department of Transportation is expecting thousands of motorists to travel on state highways during the 4th of July holiday, so they’re suspending all non-emergency road work, where possible.
The suspension begins at 3pm on Tuesday and will resume at Midnight July 4th. Some construction zones will have lane closures in effect, depending on the projects. IDOT is urging drivers to slow down, obey posted speed limits and drive with caution through work zones.
Work Zone speed limits are still in effect whether construction workers are present or not.
Tanning parlors in Springfield could face fines if they let anyone under the age of 18 use their tanning beds, even if the minor has permission from a parent or guardian.
An ordinance on first reading before the Springfield City Council this week would impose fines of anywhere from 75 to 750 dollars for a first offense, a second offense would carry an automatic minimum 250-dollar fine.
The measure was introduced by Alderman Sam Cahnman.
Springfield’s Catholic Bishop will lead a noon hour prayer rally today in support of religious liberty.
The gathering is part of a nationwide movement organized by Catholic bishops across the U.S. called the “Fortnight for Freedom,” which urges clergy and lay people to work actively to defend religious freedom.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki has been a vocal critic of President Obama and Governor Pat Quinn on issues ranging from insurance mandates to cover birth control to civil unions and same-sex marriage.
Paprocki will lead the rally today at the Abraham Lincoln statue on the east side of the State Capitol, starting at noon.
Aldermen will also consider a proposed ordinance that would allow city workers to go onto private property to remove overgrown weeds… and ensures that the workers would not face a trespassing charge for doing so.
The ordinance requested by Mayor Mike Houston says the ordinance would apply to the removal of, quote, “the rank growth… of noxious weeds that threaten the health, safety and welfare of citizens.”
The measure will be on first reading before the Springfield City Council this week.