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October 21, 2014, 11:46 am
970 WMAY News Archives for 2012-09

New Pro-Residency Group Has Ties To McMenamin

The push to reinstate a residency requirement for Springfield city employees is getting more organized. 


A new committee called “Springfield Citizens for Residency” has been established with the State Board of Elections.  That committee is based at the same address as the law firm of Alderman Joe McMenamin, a leading backer of the residency rule.  McMenamin’s wife Lynn is listed as the organization’s treasurer.


The committee has begun distributing literature promoting the reinstatement of a residency requirement for future city workers. A piece from the group says such a rule would strengthen neighborhoods, create demand for city real estate, and… quote… “generate vested city employees.”

Illinoisans Have Low Opinion Of Ethics In State Government

Illinoisans view their state government with suspicion… and an expectation of corruption. 


That’s according to a new statewide survey, which finds 58-percent of Illinois voters believe the state is more corrupt than other states.  Another 37-percent think that Illinois is only AS bad as other states… while just two-percent think Illinois is less crooked than other states.


The survey was conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Group Berates Quinn For JDC Closure Plan

A committee organized to prevent the closure of the Jacksonville Developmental Center is stepping up its criticism of Governor Pat Quinn. 


A newspaper ad from the group accuses Quinn of rushing to close JDC and move residents out by October 31st, without a clear plan for doing so. 


The group says that not everyone can be moved out that quickly… but says many staffers have left, creating a dangerous situation for the residents that remain.

Alderman's Residency Quest Turns Into Push For Annexation

A Springfield aldermen’s quest to impose a residency requirement on new city hires is now raising the issue of annexing neighboring communities into Springfield. 


Joe McMenamin says communities like Jerome and Leland Grove are “relics of the past” that are getting benefits from Springfield city services, but are not paying in for employee pensions. 


McMenamin says the city and those communities should work “cooperatively” toward annexation agreements.

Republicans Challenge Gill's ''Susan'' Ad

Republicans are raising questions about an ad from Democratic congressional candidate Dr. David Gill. 


In that ad, Gill talks about “Susan,” a woman who died in his ER after her heart disease went untreated because she lacked insurance.  But in a campaign ad six years ago, Gill told a similar story about a male patient.


The GOP accuses Gill of manipulating or making up the story.  But Gill’s campaign says both patients are real… and says their plight is all too common.

Libri Takes Heat For Comments About Cleaning Up Corruption

Sangamon County Circuit Clerk Tony Libri is taking some heat for his claims that he rooted out widespread corruption in his office when he took over in 1996. 


Libri said he was able to get rid of workers who were suspected of stealing evidence or taking bribes, but official records only show one case along those lines. 


Libri’s Democratic challenger, Kristin DiCenso, suggests Libri is exaggerating the claims to bolster his re-election campaign.

Meat Spill Closes Logan County Highway

A Logan County highway had to be shut down Friday night… after a semi carrying meat scraps and trimmings spilled its load all over the roadway. 


State police say the truck was approaching a railroad crossing on US 136 near Emden when the crossing lights began flashing.  The driver slammed on the brakes, causing the load to shift and spill.  Crews worked for several hours to clean up the mess.

Cellini Lawyers Use Fan Mail in Calling for Probation

Lawyers for convicted Illinois powerbroker William Cellini contend their client deserves probation for his role in a scheme to get a campaign donation from a Hollywood producer.


In a court filing Thursday, the lawyers point to hundreds of letters by Cellini supporters, including former Gov. Jim Edgar.


The filing by Cellini's lawyers also points to his advanced age and frail health.


The 77-year-old Cellini suffered a heart attack in June during a medical procedure and has other health issues.


Prosecutors previously have conceded health problems could warrant a lesser term as long as Cellini receives a "meaningful sentence."


Sentencing is scheduled for October 4th.

Local Jobs Numbers Shows Slight Improvement

The unemployment picture in Springfield improved slightly last month.


The August jobless rate dipped to 7.9%.


That’s down from 8.2% in July, and also lower than the 8% rate in August of 2011.


Overall, state officials say unemployment is down in 11 of 12 major metro areas around the state, compared to the same time a year ago.

Q5 Initiative Urges Local Business-to-Business Efforts

The Q5 jobs initiative is working on several new strategies to improve the local job market.


One major project is an effort to encourage buying local in business-to-business transactions.


The goal is to switch at least five-percent of such business from out-of-county businesses back to local vendors.


Another effort focuses on beautification, with one project aiming to put local artwork into vacant storefronts.


Local businesses and organizations have donated millions to fund the job creation effort.

All Clear at Waverly High School After Incident With Student

Morgan County authorities say no one was in any danger from an incident that led to a brief lockdown at Waverly High School Thursday.


Sheriff Randy Duvendack says emergency crews were called to the school for the report of a “medical emergency” involving a student.


Duvendack says the student was having medical and mental issues, but declined to elaborate.


Students were kept in their classrooms for a time while police and EMTs tended to the student, who was eventually transported to a hospital for evaluation.

Q5 Initiative Lays Out Plans For Coming Year

The Q5 jobs initiative is working on new plans to create a stronger job climate in and around Springfield. 


Investors… including some 80 area businesses and organizations… got an update Thursday on the progress of the effort.  Plans in the works include the development of “Source Sangamon,” an effort to promote use of local vendors for business-to-business purchasing.  That program could be launched early next year. 


A Logistics Council has been created to provide strategy for transportation and logistics issues in the community.  And another committee is working on beautification programs, such as putting local art in vacant storefronts.

Things Back To Normal At Waverly High School Following Brief Lockdown

Things are back to normal at Waverly High School after an incident Thursday morning led to a brief lockdown at the school. 


Morgan County Sheriff Randy Duvendack says police and paramedics responded when a student had what he described as medical and mental issues. 


Other students were kept in their classrooms while first responders tended to the student.  Duvendack says no other students were in danger, but did not elaborate on the nature of the incident.  The student in question was taken by ambulance to a hospital for evaluation.

Waste Hauling Proposal Gets Hostile Reception At Public Hearing

A proposal to have Springfield residents pay for trash pickup through their utility bill is getting a chilly reception from many people. 


At the first in a series of public hearings on the proposal Wednesday, most speakers objected to the plan… calling it unnecessary or fearing that it’s the first step toward limiting consumers’ choices for waste hauling. 


Many people who attended the meeting at Southside Christian Church on South MacArthur wanted to know what accommodations would be made for people who share the cost of trash pickup, dispose of their garbage through their own businesses, or spend the winter months out of state.  City officials say they are still working on ways to deal with those situations.


Bishop Paprocki: Democratic Platform Contains ''Intrinsic Evils''; Voters Who Support Them Place Eternal Salvation In Jeopardy

Springfield’s Catholic bishop says there are… quote… “intrinsic evils” in the Democratic Party platform, and warns that Catholics who vote for candidates that back those positions may be putting their own eternal salvation at risk. 


The comments come in a column written by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki for the Catholic Times newspaper… and in an accompanying video on the diocesan website


Paprocki says the official Democratic support for abortion rights and same-sex marriage promote “serious sins,” and says he would be abdicating his responsibility if he did not speak out about the morality of the issue.  Paprocki says he is not telling Catholics how to vote, but says a vote in support of those positions makes the voter “morally complicit.”

Accused Beason Killer Claims Self Defense

The attorney for one of the brothers accused in the massacre of a Logan County family says Chris Harris actually walked in on the murders, and had to kill the killer in order to save his own life.


The Bloomington Pantagraph reports the defense theory came to light through a court filing that seeks records into the mental health and behavior of 14-year-old Dillen Constant, one of the five people found dead inside the home of Rick and Ruth Gee in Beason.


Attorney Dan Fultz says Harris found Dillen Constant killing his parents and siblings, and Harris then killed Dillen in self-defense.


The defense believes the records will show that Dillen Constant had a history of violence and had been prescribed medication to control his impulses.


Harris and his brother Jason are awaiting trial on murder charges.

Governor Pushing for Pay and Benefit Cuts in Contract Negotiations

An e-mail from AFSCME leadership to union members is warning that contract talks with the state are at a near-standstill, and blame the Quinn administration for pushing pay and benefit cuts that could leave many workers with as much as $10,000 less in take home pay next year.


That e-mail, obtained by Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax blog, says the state’s demands are an insult to workers.


Both sides are trying to line up a mediator to assist in the contract talks, but so far have been unable to find one.

Drug Ring Bust Nabs 6 in Springfield, 18 Across Central Illinois

Federal, state and local officials say a series of arrests in recent weeks has put a dent in the local drug trade.


A total of 18 people, including six from Springfield, are facing charges in connection with cocaine trafficking across Central Illinois, particularly in Springfield and Decatur.


Authorities say 30-year-old Eddy Ramirez of Paxton is the ringleader.


In the course of the investigation, authorities have seized 10 kilos of cocaine, three kilos of heroin, and nearly $900,000 in cash.

Preliminary Approval of TIF Funds for Blood Center

Springfield aldermen appear ready to use some of the money from the almost-expired Park South TIF district to help the Central Illinois Community Blood Center move and expand.


Aldermen have moved to put that $1.9 million request on next week’s consent agenda.


But Alderman Joe McMenamin could seek to put it on the debate agenda instead.


McMenamin opposes the idea, saying there are better potential uses for the remaining TIF money. That TIF district expires in November.

CWLP Worker Layoff Notices Rescinded

Seven City Water Light and Power workers who had been facing layoffs are now off the hook.


The State Journal-Register reports the city has reached a deal with their union to avoid the layoffs.


A total of eleven workers received layoff notices this month as part of a cost-cutting plan that was scheduled to take effect unless unions agreed to furlough days instead.


The newspaper did not indicate what kind of deal was struck to avoid the seven layoffs.


Talks are continuing with a second union about the other four employees.

CWLP Could Sell Fly Ash For First Time in Years

It may be a sign of an improving economy.


CWLP officials say people are now inquiring about purchasing some of the city’s “fly ash,” a by-product of power generation.


The city used to routinely sell thousands of tons of the waste, which can be used in the production of concrete, but the market for it evaporated during the economic downturn.


Now the city says there is a demand for it again, at a price of five-dollars per ton.


The sale could be approved next week, but some aldermen warn that EPA rules could complicate the matter.

First in a Series of Trash Talk Hearings Tonight

The first in a series of public hearings on the proposed trash pickup overhaul for Springfield will be held tonight.


Aldermen Cory Jobe and Doris Turner are pushing for the change, which would result in garbage collection being added to customers’ City Water Light and Power bills.


Tonight’s meeting is set for seven o’clock at Southside Christian Church on South MacArthur.


Another one is planned for tomorrow night at six at Wanless School.

Drug Ring Busted Up; 18 Arrested; Authorities Seize Cocaine, Heroin, Cash

At least six Springfield residents have been arrested in connection with a major cocaine and heroin trafficking ring that authorities say has been dealing drugs in Springfield, Decatur and across Central Illinois. 


Federal, state and local prosecutors say 30-year-old Eddi Ramirez of Paxton was the leader of the drug ring.  So far, 18 people, including the six from Springfield, have been arrested in connection with the nine-month investigation.


Authorities have also seized ten kilos of cocaine, three kilos of heroin, and nearly $900,000 in cash.

Circuit Clerk Candidate Wants Expanded Hours At County Building

The challenger for Sangamon County Circuit Clerk says she’d like to see expanded hours… including some on Saturdays… to make it easier for citizens to make use of the office’s services. 


Democrat Kristin DiCenso says she would also try to coordinate with other county officeholders to arrange for expanded hours throughout the County Building.  DiCenso says the circuit clerk’s office needs to be more user-friendly and transparent, and vows to put more office information online. 


She is challenging Republican incumbent Tony Libri in November.

Efficiency Commission Recommends Eliminating Township Tax Collector Post

Sangamon County’s Citizens Efficiency Commission is recommending that the office of township tax collector be eliminated… and that its primary function of collecting property tax payments be turned over to the County Treasurer’s office. 


Sangamon is one of only two Illinois counties that use township tax collectors to accept a portion of residents’ annual property tax payments.  But the commission finds township collections cost substantially more than simply sending the money to the Treasurer’s office. 


The commission says if its recommendation is implemented and the office of township tax collector is eliminated, tax collection costs could drop by $150,000 a year.

Revised Teacher Pension Estimate Could Cost State $300 Million

A change in the estimated rate of return for the Teachers’ Retirement System could leave Illinois taxpayers on the hook for an additional $300 million, according to one estimate. 


Last week, TRS revised its estimate, predicting now that its investments will yield a return of eight percent, instead of the previous prediction of eight-and-a-half percent.  Under state law, a lower rate of return forces the state to make up the difference. 


State School News Service says that could mean an additional $300 million obligation… and will likely increase pressure on lawmakers to approve pension reform during the lame duck session in January.

Cameras In Courts Expands In Illinois, But Still Not In Sangamon County

The state experiment with cameras in the courts is continuing to grow… but there’s still no indication that Sangamon County will sign on any time soon. 


Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride says the pilot project he started last spring will soon move into the Chicago area for the first time, with DuPage County starting to allow cameras and microphones in to cover court proceedings. 


Several other jurisdictions around the state are also taking part, and Kilbride says it seems to be going well.  But he says that’s no guarantee that the effort will go statewide anytime soon.

Ryan Loses Yet Another Appeal

Former Governor George Ryan loses yet another round in court. 


The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has turned down Ryan’s request to have the whole court hear his appeal asking for an early release from prison. That request had already been turned down by a three-judge panel from that appeals court last month. 


Ryan has been seeking early release even though his six-and-a-half year prison term on corruption charges is nearing an end.  He is scheduled to remain in custody until July of next year, but is expected to be moved out of prison and into a Chicago halfway house to take part in a work release program starting in February.

Appeals Court: Pharmacists Can Refuse To Provide ''Plan B'' On Religious Grounds

An Illinois appeals court has ruled in favor of two pharmacists who objected to having to provide emergency contraception on religious grounds, setting a precedent their lawyer hopes will protect others from judicial or state sanctions.


Friday’s ruling affirmed an injunction granted by a lower court that found that state law “protects the pharmacists’ decisions not to dispense emergency contraceptives due to their conscience.”


The ruling by the 4th District Appellate Court applies only to the two pharmacists. But their lawyer says it sets an important precedent that should protect other pharmacists who seek to invoke their own religious beliefs in declining to provide the so-called “Plan B” drug.

Route 66 Festival Drives To A Successful Finish

Organizers of the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival say this year’s edition outpaced last year’s. 


The event, which wrapped up Sunday, featured around 1100 cars on display… up from fewer than a thousand a year ago.  And the estimated crowds were also larger, with police putting the crowd for the weekend at close to 80,000.

Edwards Won't Reintroduce Ordinance Extending Preference For City Contracts

After becoming the target of Mayor Mike Houston’s first veto, Alderman Frank Edwards says he has no plans to reintroduce an ordinance that would give Sangamon County businesses the same preference that city businesses get on City Hall contracts. 


Edwards says the issue isn’t that big a deal to him… but he is still critical of the veto.  Edwards says that five-percent preference for city businesses could potentially cost taxpayers thousands of dollars on large contracts. 


He says expanding the pool of businesses that can compete on a level playing field will help ensure that taxpayers are getting the best deal.

GOP Leaders Critical Of Teachers Pension System

Top Illinois Republicans are criticizing a move by the Teachers Retirement System to lower its expected rate of return on investment, because it will mean higher costs to the state. 


House Republican Leader Tom Cross and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno say the change will force the state to pay more into the pension system for teachers. 


At the same time, the GOP leaders also say the newly-revised estimate might not be low enough, and may still reflect an unrealistic view of future income for the TRS. 


Cross and Radogno say it’s more evidence that Illinois needs comprehensive public pension reform, and criticize Democrats for their ongoing failure to pass a reform package.

Chicago Alderman Wants Answers From Chick-Fil-A Over Gay Marriage Issue

A Chicago alderman now says he needs a clarification of the clarification. 


Alderman Joe Moreno says he’s disturbed by new statements from the owner of the Chick-Fil-A restaurant chain that says he has not made any concessions regarding his support of organizations that oppose same-sex marriage. 


Moreno announced last week that the chain indicated it would no longer contribute to such groups… clearing the way for Moreno to lift his opposition to a new Chick-Fil-A in his Chicago ward. 


Now Moreno says he wants company CEO Dan Cathy to say definitively whether or not the earlier assurances from Chick-Fil-A executives were valid or not.

Celebrating 50 Years, Springfield Commission on International Visitors Welcomes NATO Sec. Gen.

The Springfield Commission on International Visitors celebrates 50 years of hosting dignitaries from around the world here in the capital city.  The organization welcomed the half-century of serving the global community by inviting NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen to Springfield.


NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen
NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen

Mayor Mike Houston said that Springfield's efforts to bring people from around the world to capital city is part of the larger effort to get above isolationism.  He says it's about the free exchange of ideas.


Rasmussen addressed the group Friday at Erin's Pavilion on Southwind Park where he talked about his early years as part of a similar State Department program in 1982.  There he toured the United States to study our culture--local governments, elections, education, journalism, histories, etc.  


The former Danish Prime Minister also paid tribute to Andrew Tobin, a fallen soldier from Jacksonville who served alongside NATO in Afghanistan and was killed last year.  He also paid tribute to a Danish soldier who also was killed around the same time.  


In the aftermath of a rash of international forces being killed by Afghan security forces being trained by NATO, Rasmussen says that NATO has a timeline to hand over operations to Afghanistan's security forces by the end of 2014, but that their International Security Assistance Forces will stay behind.  This must be at the will of the Afghan government and the United Nations Security Council.  Rasmussen says he knows the Afghan government will invite NATO to conduct training operations after 2014.


As for critics of the rapid withdrawal, Rasmussen says that he believes drawing down the NATO presence in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 it is a realistic timetable.      


The United States, coalition countries, and NATO have been conducting military operations in Afghanistan for eleven years.


As for other heated international relationships, Rasmussen says he strongly condemns the crackdowns on civilian population in Syria.  He says that the Syrian government must accommodate the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.  


As for the opposition forces in Syria, Rasmussen denies any NATO involvement and there are no intentions to be involved.  He believes there must be a political resolution in Syria and that NATO is not involved militarily but they will be there to protect Turkey, a NATO ally, if need be.  


When asked about the potential for conflicts to boil over between the western world and Iran, Rasmussen thinks Iran should stop their enrichment program and he hopes that sanctions and political pressures leads to a peaceful and political solution. 


The Springfield Commission on International Visitors has played host to thousands of visitors thru the years and works to help break down what organizers say are barriers to common understanding.  


This wasn't Rasmussen's first visit to the capital city.  Springfield is the city where his son, daughter-in-law, and two grand children live.  He says that he has jogged through many of Springfield beautiful communities and will always enjoy the view of Lake Springfield.  He also holds Abraham Lincoln in high regard.


Listen to NATO Secretary General Rasmussen's address to the Springfield Commission on International Visitors here.


Watch the the Secretary General answer questions from local radio media below or follow this link.  


Aldermen: Trash Ordinance Details Still To Be Worked Out

The sponsors of Springfield’s proposed new waste hauling ordinance admit there are a lot of details to work out… which is why it wouldn’t take effect until 2014. 


Aldermen Cory Jobe and Doris Turner say their plan… which calls for trash pickup to be paid for through your City Water Light and Power bill… is a sensible way to make sure everyone is disposing of their garbage legally, without creating major changes for most customers. 


But they acknowledge that waste haulers and some customers have questions about the plan… and say the extended effective date will leave plenty of time to iron out any problems.

Route 66 Festival Gets Underway; Official City Ornament Pays Tribute To Legendary Highway

The 20th City of Springfield Ornament from St. Joseph's Home
The 20th City of Springfield Ornament from St. Joseph's Home

Two Springfield traditions are coming together this weekend. 


The 20th Annual Official City Ornament has been unveiled… and this year it pays tribute to Route 66.  The introduction of the ornament coincides with the annual International Route 66 Mother Road Festival, and the collectible will be sold at the downtown event all weekend. 


The ornament… which depicts a Springfield landmark each year… benefits Saint Joseph’s Home, a retirement center which sits within eyesight of historic Route 66 through Springfield. 


The festival, meanwhile, is expected to draw a thousand classic cars and thousands of visitors into downtown through Sunday.

No Gun, No Arrest at Illini Central High School

Officials in Mason County now say that no gun was found, and no one was arrested, following Tuesday’s lockdown at Illini Central High School.


The security clampdown was prompted by rumors that a student had brought a gun to school.


Students were kept in their classrooms for hours, and were searched as they finally left the building, but no weapon turned up.


Police had earlier said that a “person of interest” had been questioned, but now say no arrests were made.

Unemployment Up in Illinois, Third Strait Monthly Increase

Joblessness is on the rise again in Illinois.


The August unemployment rate climbed to 9.1%, representing the third straight increase after nine consecutive months of declines.


State officials hope this year is on the same track as last year, when unemployment rose during the summer and then began to steadily drop in the fall.

State Testing Video Gambling Terminals

State officials are running some tests on the newly-authorized video gambling terminals that are going up around the state.


Only a handful of locations have both the required state license and the equipment needed to allow customers to play, and so far they are only allowed to use them for limited periods of time as the state checks the system.


There’s still no firm date for when video gaming will be up and running for real at locations around the state, including Springfield.

ACLU Raises Privacy Concerns Over Fusion Centers

They are intended to give state officials timely information on potential security threats.


But the American Civil Liberties Union thinks “fusion centers,” including one in Springfield, may be overstepping the limits of privacy laws.


An attorney for the ACLU of Illinois says fusion centers are sometimes compiling information on people on the basis of their political views, not because of any actual wrongdoing.


Fusion centers, like the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center in Springfield, are public-private partnerships that gather threat-related information and share it with other agencies.

School Objects to Planned Zoning Change for Concrete Plant

A Springfield school is concerned that a proposed ready-mix concrete plant will pose problems for students, because of noise and concrete dust in the air.


The State Journal-Register reports the Montessori Children’s House objects to the zoning variance that would allow the plant to operate in an area that is currently zoned residential.


An attorney for the plant says it will put systems in place to control dust and address other concerns.


If the plant is allowed to go forward, it is expected to employ eight to eleven people.

NATO Secretary General to Visit Springfield

Springfield’s Commission on International Visitors will mark its 50th anniversary tonight, with an appearance from the Secretary General of NATO. Anders Fogh Rasmussen will address the group tonight.


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is the primary military alliance of Western nations.


Mayor Mike Houston says the city is honored to welcome Rasmussen.

Route 66 Festival Hits Downtown Springfield This Weekend

Route 66 Mother Road Festival

Much of downtown Springfield will be blocked off later today, to make room for hundreds of classic cars coming into town for the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival.


Thousands of people, including a number of visitors from overseas, are expected into downtown for the event, which gets underway at 6:15 tonight with a car cruise from Capital City Shopping Center into downtown.


Watch video frmo last year's festival below or follow this link.


Unemployment Up in Illinois

The jobless rate in Illinois has climbed again… the third monthly increase in a row. Unemployment is now at 9.1%... a full percentage point higher than the national rate.


The three consecutive upticks come on the heels of nine straight months of declines in joblessness. State officials hope the trend mirrors last year… when summertime saw joblessness increase, and then the numbers improved in the fall.

Illinois Fusion Centers the Subject of ACLU FOIA

A little known domestic intelligence gathering operation known as Fusion Centers are under the magnifying glass of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.


A Fusion Centers is a state or local law enforcement agency that works with private companies to gather and store information about people suspected of criminal activity and they share that information with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies.


There are two fusion centers in Illinois, one in Chicago and one in Springfield.


A poster and saying from the George Orwell novel "1984"
A poster and saying from the George Orwell novel "1984"

Adam Schwartz, senior staff counsel at the ACLU of Illinois, says we’re not quite in the fictitious novel “1984” yet, but we’re getting close.


In a report found on the ACLU of Illinois website, Schwartz provides examples of how people can be targeted by fusion centers for their political leanings. He says in recent years some of the nation’s military organization have spied on lawful anti-war protesters.


Another example Schwartz uses is a recent protest of Caterpillar where people gathered in opposition of where the manufacture was selling their products.


Schwartz says that the Illinois Fusion center provided threat assessments of the protesters.


Schwartz says in other parts of the country this has happened. One example in Missouri, a fusion center targeted supporters of Congressman Ron Paul.


The ACLU of Illinois says that by having the fusion centers and private companies working together to compile information on large groups of people, it can provide a chilling effect which could lead to people not willing to speak out.


Often times, the threat assessment is based not on criminality but on political leanings.


The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois says citizens have a right to know if they are a subject in a fusion center database.


The ACLU has filed Freedom of Information Act Requests with the two fusion centers to obtain their privacy policies and are suggesting more transparency for the domestic intelligence gathering operations in Illinois.

Draft Ordinance Puts Waste Hauling Fee on CWLP Bill

The City of Springfield would take over billing for waste hauling services, requiring all city residents to pay for them through their City Water Light and Power bill, under a draft ordinance that could be formally introduced next week.


Private waste haulers would still collect trash, as they do now, but putting the charge on the CWLP bill is intended to prevent people from refusing to pay for waste hauling and then illegally dumping their garbage.


The price of trash pickup would remain the same, but recycling fees would increase by a dollar-a-month, and the program would be expanded to apartment buildings.


Read the ordinance below or right click this link to download.


Class Expected to Resume at Illini Central High School Following Gun Scare

Classes are expected to resume on schedule today at Illini Central High School in Mason City, after a lockdown yesterday following a report of a student with a gun.


Students were kept in classrooms for several hours as the building was searched by SWAT teams.


Authorities still have not said whether a weapon was found, but someone was taken into custody for questioning.


Some parents are angry that they were not getting official statements about what was happening inside the school, and were only getting information from text messages and Facebook posts by students inside the school.

Lawmen Look for Solutions to Problem of Mental Illness and Criminal Justice

Police and prosecutors say it’s an increasingly common problem, and one without any easy solutions.


They are concerned about the rising number of incidents involving law enforcement and mentally ill individuals.


At a meeting in Springfield Wednesday, Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Milhiser and other top lawmen say as other services for mentally ill individuals are scaled back, it becomes more likely that they will become a problem for the criminal justice system.


Officials say more training and planning is needed to address the issue.

AFSCME and Gov. Quinn Blame Each Other for Planned Layoffs at DCFS

AFSCME workers are urging Governor Pat Quinn to hold off on laying off hundreds of workers in the Department of Children and Family Services, saying the job cuts will jeopardize the children served by the agency.


But Quinn says the layoffs, scheduled to take effect on October 1st, are really the union’s fault.


Quinn says AFSCME is to blame because it has gone to court to block Quinn’s attempt to close two prisons and several other corrections facilities.


Quinn says he planned to use that money to make up a shortfall in the DCFS budget and keep those 400 employees on the job.

Proposed Ordinance Would Shift Trash Pickup Charges To CWLP Bill

READ THE DRAFT ORDINANCE HERE (right click and save to your desktop)


All Springfield residents would have to pay for waste hauling services through their City Water Light and Power bill… under a draft ordinance now circulating among aldermen. 


The draft obtained by 970 WMAY News calls for the city to collect the monthly trash pickup fee and then reimburse the city’s waste haulers.  A separate recycling fee would also be assessed on the utility bill and would increase from 50 cents a month to a dollar-50. 


The changes are intended to make sure that everyone pays for waste hauling… and to reduce incidents of people simply dumping their trash into someone else’s dumpster or onto streets and alleys. 


The proposal is expected to be placed on file next week.

Local Pedophile Sentenced

A Springfield man will spend the next few decades behind bars after his sentencing on charges that he engaged in sex acts with an 11-year-old girl who was in his care.


Prosecutors say 37-year-old John Throop was a friend of the girl’s family and sometimes watched her. They say that from the time the girl was 11 until she was 13, he periodically had sexual contact with her, and sometimes photographed the activity.


Throop was sentenced to 35 years on one felony count, and 10 years each on two other charges. Those sentences must be served consecutively, which will put him behind bars for more than 40 years.

Authorities Explore Ways To Deal With Mentally Ill

Police and prosecutors are working together to find ways to better deal with potentially dangerous situations that arise when cops encounter mentally ill people.


A panel of experts… including Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Milhiser and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart… say it’s an issue that was put on the back burner in favor of a focus on national security after 9-11. But they say the problem is on the rise and needs a focused, coordinated effort to deal with it.


A group of law enforcement officials met in Springfield Wednesday to discuss the subject and trade ideas.

Mayor Issues First Veto, Doesn't' Want Level Playing Field for County Businesses

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston has used his veto pen for the first time, knocking down an ordinance that would have given Sangamon County businesses the same preference in city contracts that businesses located within the city receive.


Currently, city businesses get five-percent leeway on their bids for city government contracts, meaning they can be awarded the contract if their offer is within five-percent of the lowest bid.


Houston vetoed the ordinance to apply that same preference to county businesses, saying that while they should receive some advantage, it should not be as much as city businesses get.

Eleven CWLP Workers Receive Layoff Notices, Unions In Discussion

Eleven City Water Light and Power workers have received notices that they could be laid off in the weeks ahead.


The move is precautionary, while the city works to negotiate furlough days with CWLP unions as part of a cost-cutting plan for the utility that was implemented earlier this year.


City officials say they hope both sides can agree to a furlough plan that would avoid the need for layoffs, but if they can’t, they say the eleven temporary layoffs could be just the beginning.

Mayor Breaks Tie, Approves Propane Conversion Proposal

Springfield is moving ahead with converting some of its vehicles to propane, barely.


Mayor Mike Houston had to cast the tiebreaking vote to move ahead with the project, which city officials say will reduce fuel costs and be more environmentally friendly.


Aldermen split five-to-five on the project, with opponents raising questions about whether sufficient grant money would be available to cover the cost of converting two-dozen police and public works vehicles.

Springfield's Carillon Has New Bell Ringer

Springfield’s world-famous carillon has someone new ringing the bells, for only the third time in its 51-year history.


Robin Austin has been hired as the carillonneur for the Rees Memorial Carillon at Washington Park.


Austin says he will increase the free weekly concerts at the 130-foot high bell tower, and will also increase educational opportunities, teaching local people how to play the carillon.


Only two other people have been full-time carillonneurs there, Raymond Keldermans, who started when it opened in 1961, and his son Karl, who served from 1976 until his retirement late last year.

Mayor Houston's First Veto on County Contract Preference

Mayor Mike Houston vetoed an ordinance approved by aldermen two weeks ago that would give businesses outside the city limits, but within the county’s boundaries, the same advantage when bidding on contracts that businesses within the Springfield corporate limits receive.


The measure, which passed a split city council, would have allowed the county businesses to be considered the low bidder if they are up to 5 percent over what an out of area business bid.


Houston says that he would support an ordinance giving county businesses a 2 percent advantage, but he did not approve of the level playing field the original ordinance provided to county businesses.  


This marks the mayor's first veto.

Aldermen Approve Bi-Fuel Conversion Proposal

Springfield aldermen approved a measure to spend $240,000 on bi-fuel conversion kits for 24 different city vehicles.


The plan will convert the city owned vehicles, giving them the ability to burn both propane and gasoline.


Propane is cheaper per gallon, burns cleaner and doesn’t diminish vehicle performance, however miles per gallon is taken down 5 to 10 percent, according to Budget Director BIll McCarty.


Several aldermen, including Frank Edwards, Doris Turner, Gail Simpson and Cory Jobe opposed the idea, not because it’s not a good idea, but because they says the proposal should be put together more uniformly.


Edwards says he wants to see the grant application submitted, request for proposals and more documentation on the conversion kits and installation.


McCarty says that two different grants, one for the city and one for the installer to go towards the city as a rebate, will cover the cost of the conversion.


Mayor Mike Houston was the deciding yes vote passing the ordinance 6 to 5.

Positive Utility Report Reveals Notices Sent to Eleven Employees

In an effort to save money at City Water Light and Power, the utility is working with several unions to find furlough days or face layoffs.


Chief Engineer Eric Hobbie said that no one has been laid off but eleven workers within the utility have received notices.  


Hobbie says that a few more unions representing utility employees are working out with one going to arbitration.


Aldermen Kris Theilen and Tim Griffin said they are receiving a flood of phone calls with employees expressing uncertainty about their jobs.


Mayor Mike Houston says that rumors get started up and spread to departments that have nothing to do with the utility.


Meanwhile, Hobbie says that despite the long hot summer, the utility not only made money on retail sales for both the water and electric division but the electric side didn’t even come close to peak usage.

Motor Inn Developer Updates Aldermen

After a long debate last week during the committee of the whole, Springfield aldermen say they want to be kept in the loop of any land use changes for projects using Tax Increment Finance funds.


Aldermen and Mayor Mike Houston decided to allow the current agreement with Barker Real Estate to move forward on renovating the Motor Inn.


The original plan was to raze the building and turn the area into four different residential units, but after several circumstances arose, including encouragement from the Historic Preservation Society to renovate the current structure into retail space to keep with the historic nature of the building.


The new plan, as presented Tuesday by Barker Realty, would make several different storefronts on Monroe and 4th with parking space in the rear of the building.

Aldermen Pass Settlement on Debate and 5 New Vehicles on Consent

Springfield aldermen approved a $150,000 settlement where three white Springfield Police Officers claim racial discrimination.


The ordinance was placed back in committee last week but Mayor Mike Houston pulled it out of committee and put it on the debate agenda.


Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen says the case has been around since 2004 and it was in the best interest of the city to settle.


Ward 7 Alderman Joe McMenamin was the lone no vote on.


Meanwhile the City Council approved five different vehicles worth nearly $720,000 on the consent agenda.

Dist. 186 School Superintendent Says He's Staying In Springfield

Springfield’s school superintendent is sounding defiant in the face of what he considers a coordinated effort by some members of the school board to undermine him.


Superintendent Walter Milton says sharp criticism directed at him by three board members Monday night was “scripted,” and says he thinks those three have it in for him. But Milton… whose name has been mentioned in superintendent searches for several large districts around the country… indicates he’s not going anywhere voluntarily.


Milton says he will keep working for the children of this school district… but says if the board feels otherwise, they can have that conversation, too.

Senator Kirk Calls for Bipartisan Support to Correct Illinois Debt Management

Senator Mark Kirk is calling for bipartisan support to correct Illinois' poor debt management. 


In a YouTube video posted Tuesday morning, Kirk says that everyone in Illinois is at a disadvantave and that taxpayers within the state will have to pay $1.5 million extra for every $100 million borrowed. 


Watch the video below or follow this link


School Board Passes Red Ink Budget, $11 Million Deficit

Nearly a month into the school year, District 186 finally has a budget in place for this year.


But the vote to approve the budget came with some harsh criticism for Superintendent Walter Milton from three members of the board.


They accuse Milton of providing information that was incomplete and not timely.


Milton denies that, but says there is a faction of the board that has him in their cross-hairs.


The budget includes a deficit of $11 million, and a threat of even deeper cuts next year.

Dist. 186 Votes to Keep Lawrence Running, For Score Board and New Athletic Handbook

As part of its new budget, the Springfield School Board has approved changes that will allow high school diploma and GED programs to continue at Lawrence Education Center.


Those programs were threatened by a loss of grant dollars, but the district says it can find the resources by merging staff and funds at Lawrence and the Springfield Learning Academy, which shares space in the same building.


The board also approved a proposal to install new scoreboards at Memorial Stadium and other athletic fields, to be paid for largely with advertising dollars.


And it signed off on a new athletic handbook, despite controversy over its inclusion of tutors, paid positions that are similar to some that were eliminated in budget cuts earlier this year.

Prison Closure Plan Blocked By Courts For Now

Governor Pat Quinn is still being blocked from proceeding with his plans to close two state prisons and other Corrections facilities.


An appeals court panel has rejected a request from the governor to overturn a lower court ruling that puts the closures on hold.


That means a 30-day temporary restraining order that was issued earlier this month will remain in effect.


The order prevents any further moves on the closure until early next month, while talks continue with AFSCME on how to implement the moves without jeopardizing the safety of prison inmates and staff.

Ousted Representative Smith Has Strong Poll Numbers

Despite being thrown out of the Illinois House by his colleagues just weeks ago, former Representative Derrick Smith appears to have a huge lead in his November race to reclaim his old seat.


A survey, reported by Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax blog, finds Smith with 48-percent of the vote, compared to just nine-percent for third party candidate Lance Tyson.


Tyson was chosen by Democrats as an alternative to Smith, who is facing federal bribery charges.


43-percent of voters in that Chicago area district are still undecided.

Prescription Take-Back Day Saturday

The Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office is participating this Saturday in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back initiative. The program is sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration.


Unwanted medication can be disposed of in its original container or by removing the medicine from its container and disposing of it directly into the collection boxes. If disposing of the container as well, officials say to remove any identification from the prescription label.


The Take-Back will take place at the Sangamon County Public Health Building at 2833 South Grand Avenue East from 10am to 2pm on Saturday.

Poll: Ousted Lawmaker Has Big Lead In Race To Reclaim Seat

A new survey finds that a former lawmaker who was tossed out of office weeks ago has a big lead in the general election race that could return him to the General Assembly.


The survey... reported by Rich Miller's Capitol Fax blog... finds Democrat Derrick Smith with a lead of 48% to just 9% for third-party challenger Lance Tyson.  Tyson was put up by leading Democrats to give voters an alternative to Smith, who is facing federal bribery charges.  Those charges led the Illinois House to vote to expel him from his seat, but do not prevent him from running in the November election.


The pollsters think that voters in Smith's Chicago district are not focused on the race and are unaware of the scandal linked to Smith.

Appeals Court Rejects Quinn Attempt To Proceed With Prison Closures

An Illinois appeals court has rejected Governor Pat Quinn's effort to overturn an earlier court ruling that prevents him from proceeding with the shutdown of two Illinois prisons.


Quinn wanted the justices to throw out a temporary restraining order that is preventing him from moving forward with closing the Tamms supermax prison and the Dwight women's facility, along with transitional and youth centers around the state. AFSCME is trying to block the closures, saying they will increase overcrowding and add to dangers to inmates and staff. 


A lower court had issued a 30-day restraining order on September 4th.  The appeals court ruling means the restraining order will stay in place until early next month while talks continue.

Judge Refuses To Order Striking Chicago Teachers Back To Work

A Cook County judge has rejected Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's request for an order that would end the Chicago teachers strike and force those teachers back into the classroom.


Emanuel had sought a temporary restraining order against what he calls an "illegal" strike.  State law prohibits striking over non-economic issues such as teacher evaluation standards and recall rights for laid-off teachers.  Those are among the issues involved in the strike, but the union and Chicago Public Schools are also at odds over economic issues like pay raises.


The judge declined the request for an immediate hearing but said he could hold one on Wednesday.  However, he suggested the case would be moot by then if teachers vote to accept a pending contract offer.

Durbin Says Diplomacy Is Crucial in Iran Nuclear Conflict

Despite concerns from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran is just months away from being able to deploy a nuclear weapon, U.S.


Senator Dick Durbin says it’s too soon to be thinking about military intervention.


Durbin says there is still time to try to pressure Iran through harsh sanctions and other means to give up their nuclear ambitions.


Speaking to reporters in Springfield, Durbin also rejected Republican claims that unrest across the Middle East is a sign of “weakness” in President Obama’s foreign policy.


Durbin says they weren’t saying that when Americans were attacked and killed during the Reagan or George W. Bush years.

Chicago Mayor Going To Court To End Teachers' Strike

The Chicago teachers strike continues, and the bad blood between the union and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel seems to be getting worse.


Emanuel is now going to court to force an end to what he calls an “illegal” strike.


He says the strike is endangering the health and safety of students, and says state law prohibits strikes over some of the key contested issues, like teacher evaluations and recall rights for laid-off teachers.


The union and school district reached a tentative deal over the weekend, but rank-and-file teachers want more time to review the terms.

After Standoff, Driver in Fatal Suspected DUI Case Commits Suicide

A shocking twist to a fatal weekend accident in Lincoln, the motorist who was suspected of driving under the influence and causing that deadly wreck apparently took his own life just hours after being released from the hospital.


Police say 65-year-old Michael Foster of Lincoln turned left in front an oncoming motorcycle Friday night.


The bike collided with Foster’s truck, killing the motorcyclist and critically injuring his passenger, a 40-year-old woman from Palmyra.


Foster was taken to Memorial Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries but was released early Saturday morning.


However, by 8 a.m., police were called to Foster’s home by a friend, who said Foster was suicidal.


Officers tried for several hours to communicate with him, eventually entering the home and finding him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Legislative Candidate Says She's In It For The Insurance

A candidate for the Illinois legislature says one of the reasons she’s running for office is to gain access to the state’s health insurance plan.


Republican Julie Eggers told the Belleville News-Democrat, quote, “I’m in it for the insurance,” and notes the state has, in her words, “pretty good health care.”


Eggers says she has two daughters with medical conditions who could benefit from the coverage.


But after that interview, Eggers’ campaign issued a statement saying she would not take the state’s insurance coverage if elected.

McRib Sandwich Comeback Delayed Until December

The McRib Sandwich
The McRib Sandwich

Illinois-based McDonald’s may make you wait a while longer to enjoy a McRib sandwich.


The popular barbecue pork sandwich is brought back each year for a limited time, usually in October and November.


But Crain’s Chicago Business says this year, it won’t return until December.


The move is an attempt to help the fast-food chain keep pace with last December, which saw a big increase in sales because of the unusually mild winter weather.

Report: Driver In Fatal Suspected DUI Crash In Lincoln Takes Own Life

Authorities in Lincoln who were called to the home of a reportedly suicidal suspect have found the man dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. 


And published reports say the man is the driver suspected in a DUI crash Friday night that killed a motorcyclist from Hartsburg and seriously injured a Palmyra woman. 


The driver, 65-year-old Michael Foster, had been taken to the hospital for minor injuries after the accident but was released Saturday morning, just hours before the standoff at his home.

Authorities ID Sherman Man Struck And Killed By Train

A Sherman man is dead after being struck by a train early Saturday morning. 


The Sangamon County coroner’s office says 27-year-old Peter Seitz died of multiple traumatic injuries after being hit by the train while on foot at the crossing near 9th and Laurel. 


An autopsy was held Saturday… that incident remains under investigation.

Local Group Wants Higher Paying Jobs, More City Hall Jobs For Women And Minorities

A Springfield group will hold a meeting this month to push for more good-paying local jobs and better access to City Hall jobs for women and minorities. 


The Faith Coalition for the Common Good says it will enlist elected officials and candidates to support its effort to improve the availability of jobs. 


A public meeting is planned for September 25th at Union Baptist Church on East Monroe.

Legislative Candidate: ''I'm In It For The Insurance''

A Metro East legislative candidate says she’s running for the Statehouse because her family needs the health insurance coverage that goes along with the job.


Republican Julie Eggers told the Belleville News-Democrat that that was her “honest answer”.  But her campaign later said Eggers would not accept the state insurance coverage if she’s elected.

Springfield Man Found Guilty of Attempted Murder

Despite high-powered legal help, a Springfield man has been found guilty of attempted murder and other charges after allegedly trying to shoot at police following a chase.


A Sangamon County jury needed less than two hours to return the guilty verdict against Jesus Ramirez for that January 2011 incident.


Prosecutors say Ramirez attempted to fire at two different officers, and to turn the gun on himself, but couldn’t fire the weapon because the safety was on.


Ramirez, who was represented by former Rod Blagojevich defense lawyers Sam Adam Sr. and Jr., faces up to 250 years in prison when he’s sentenced in November.

Local Reaction To Overseas Embassy Attacks

Local members of Congress are commenting on the embassy attacks overseas that killed an American ambassador and several other State Department workers. Republican Congressman John Shimkus condemns the attacks… but says they also reflect, quote, “the lack of leadership and strength we now show in the Middle East, and the lack of cooperation from the governments of Egypt and Libya.” Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin also condemns the attacks, and says the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others demonstrate the dangers faced by those in the Foreign Service.

Springfield Police Recover One Stolen Picnic Table

Springfield Police say an anonymous tip led to the recovery of one of two stolen picnic tables from the Family Service Center.


Deputy Police Chief Cliff Buscher says that they recovered the picnic table behind an abandoned and boarded up building at 1224 South 13th Street.


No one is in custody and police are still searching for the second picnic table.

Motorcyclist Killed in Tuesday Evening Accident Identified

The motorcyclist killed in a Tuesday evening accident has been identified as 23-year-old Dustin Dishon of Springfield.


Dishon was hit by a vehicle that turned into the cyclist at the intersection of Spaulding and Curran Roads.


The Coroner’s office says that the cause of the death is under investigation and an autopsy is scheduled for today.

Local Business Man Declares Bankruptcy

Months ago he was riding high, establishing two local retail stores and trying to take his Springfield-based business national.


Now Jeffrey Parsons is in bankruptcy, claiming liabilities of more than $100-million dollars against assets of fewer than $50 million.


Parsons’ court filing lists 17 business names that he has operated under, including Treasure Hunters Roadshow, J. Parsons, and Buy Sell Trade… all businesses that have closed their doors in recent weeks as Parsons has battled allegations of bounced checks and unpaid taxes.

Motorcyclist Killed in Tuesday Evening Accident

A motorcyclist is dead following a crash with a car Tuesday night at Curran and Spaulding Orchard roads.


Police say the car was making a left turn, and turned directly in front of the oncoming motorcyclist.


The crash threw the cyclist from his bike… authorities say he was not wearing a helmet.


The name of the victim has not yet been released.

Aldermen Question Land Use Change for Development Receiving TIF Funds

Some Springfield aldermen are objecting to a big change in plans to rehab a historic downtown building.


The project to restore the old Motor Inn garage at 4th and Monroe was originally intended to turn it into residential units.


But now the developer wants to use TIF district funds to convert it to commercial and retail space.


Several aldermen are raising questions about that switch.


Alderman Frank Edwards asked what would stop a developer from requesting TIF money for a residential project… and then trying to use the money to build an adult movie theater.

City Debates Propane Conversion for City Vehicles

A proposal to convert some of Springfield’s city-owned vehicles to propane isn’t running smoothly in the city council.


Several aldermen questioned whether the changeover would affect the performance of the vehicles, and want more assurances about whether the city can obtain grant money to pay for the conversion.


The plan, which calls for around two dozen police and public works vehicles to undergo that conversion to cheaper propane, will be debated by the full City Council next week.

Reverse Discrimination Case Held in Committee

A proposed settlement in a reverse discrimination case filed by three white Springfield cops remains in a Springfield City Council committee.


Aldermen were unable to find enough votes to place the settlement on either the debate or consent agendas for next week.


Several aldermen were absent by the time those votes were taken following an executive session discussion last night.


The issue will be revisited next week.

Democratic County Auditor Candidate Goes on Attack

The Democratic challenger for Sangamon County auditor is going on the offensive against the GOP incumbent.


Chris Boyster has harsh words for auditor Paul Palazzolo, accusing him of being “asleep at the wheel” in addressing major issues in county government… from workplace safety to combating fraud.


Boyster is also critical of Palazzolo for accepting pay raises, and is vowing that if he’s elected, he will reject any increase in pay over the next four years.

Gov. Quinn Refuses to Take Sides in CTU Dispute

Governor Pat Quinn says he respects Chicago teachers and wishes them well.


But he's isn't taking a stance on the strike, which is entering its third day.


Quinn wouldn't answer strike questions outside a September 11th memorial event, saying the focus should be on remembering the victims of the terror attacks and fallen soldiers.

Springfield Police Race Discrimination Case Remains in Committee

An ordinance that would settle a racial discrimination case three white Springfield Police officers filed against the city is stalled in committee after aldermen failed to place it on the debate or consent agenda. 


The case, as reported by 970 WMAY, would settle a discrimination case for three police officers claiming they were not treated the same as a black officer under similar circumstances.  


Alderman Joe McMenamin requested an executive session to address some of his concerns.  


That closed door session came at the end of a nearly 2 1/2 hour meeting.  


With Alderman Tim Griffin absent from the meeting and Aldermen Frank Edwards and Kris Theilen both leaving the meeting before the executive session was over, that left only seven aldermanic votes to place the settlement on either the consent or debate agenda.  


Six votes were needed to place the ordinance on either agenda, something aldermen failed to accomplish.  


The ordinance now remains in committee.  


The case has been around since 2004, according to Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen.

Aldermen Want Transparency with Developments Using TIF Funds

Motor Inn in Springfield, image from
Motor Inn in Springfield, image from

With Tax Increment Finance funds getting low, Springfield Aldermen are asking questions about a 120 year old building being rehabilitated with TIF money.


Aldermen want to know how changes in the land use plans for developments utilizing Tax Increment Finance Funds were made without their knowledge.


At issue is a development that originally was going to use TIF funds approved by the city to develop a downtown space into residential units but later, under pressure from the Historic Preservation Society, changed their plan for the property to be commercial.


Director of Economic Development Mike Farmer says that TIF funds are used for beautification and bettering the value of the property and it doesn’t matter what the ultimate use will be.


Farmer says he did talk with Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen and the Mayor about the change and it was approved.


They also want more transparency about amendments to plans for developments using TIF funds.


The development is the old Motor Inn at 4th and 3rd on Monroe Street being rehabilitated by Barker Real Estate Company.

Propane Powered City Vehicles Could Soon Hit Capital City Streets

The City of Springfield could soon be testing propane conversion kits for a couple dozen vehicles.


Aldermen asked Budget Director Bill McCarty a series of questions about the cost of the conversions, the grants from the state and federal governments that will ultimately pay for the conversions, and even the possibilities of other alternate fuels like compressed natural gas and electric vehicles.


McCarty said that propane burns cleaner, runs through the engine with less wear and tear, is cheaper than gasoline, doesn’t diminish performance and will lead to a savings of upwards to $70,000.


He also says that after the grants are in place and conversions complete, the city will not be out of any money.


The ordinance was placed on the debate agenda for possible passage next week.

Several Aldermen Question use of Fluoride in Springfield Drinking Water

Several Springfield Aldermen raised concerns about the fluoridation of public drinking water when an ordinance to buy more fluorocicilic acid came before the city council.


Alderman Kris Theilen said that the public discussion opposing the use of fluoride in public drinking water is getting louder and there is even an Harvard Health study pointing to other studies outlining negative health effects of fluoride in water.


Water Director Tom Skelly says that certain levels of fluoride in drinking water is a state mandate from the Illinois Department of Public Health.


Alderman Sam Cahnman says that the city should pass a resolution supporting a municipality’s choice of whether or not they want to put fluoride in their drinking water.


The ordinance for fluoride, along with an ordinance to get more chlorine for drinking water were both placed on the consent agenda.

Area Businessman Files Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

The founder of the now-defunct Treasure Hunters Roadshow has filed bankruptcy, with court documents indicating he has liabilities of over $100 million dollars. Jeff Parsons filed late Monday under Chapter 7, indicating an intention to liquidate his business holdings, rather than attempt to reorganize.


Parsons filed bankruptcy after being pushed by the judge in his divorce case, in order to obtain a full accounting of Parsons’s holdings. The filing lists 17 business names that Parsons is using or has used, and notes assets of 10- to 50-million dollars and liabilities of 100-million to 500-million.


A number of Parsons companies have closed down in recent weeks amid allegations of bounced checks, fraudulent business practices, and unpaid taxes.

Police Looking For Playground Vandals

A community development in Springfield meant to bring about a positive, family friendly environment for foster, low income and homeless children, has been marred after someone ripped a turtle ride off its spring in a new playground area and stole two picnic tables.


The vandalism and theft comes just a few days after Ward 6 Alderman Cory Jobe announed the demolition of two buildings around 7th and South Grand to make way for the playground and community garden for Family Service Center.


Jobe says the crime overshadows the quickly moving positive changes to the area in the past six weeks.


Alderman Cory Jobe addressing the press about the vandalism and theft
Alderman Cory Jobe addressing the press about the vandalism and theft


Springfield Police are reviewing video footage and canvassing the neighborhood for any evidence that could lead to anyone responsible in theft and criminal damage.


Springfield Deputy Police Chief Cliff Buscher says investigators are already doing the legwork but the public’s help is crucial.


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is donating an additional $2,000 to cover the cost of the damage and stolen property.


Jobe, alongside the Family Service Center, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and Springfield Police are asking anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 788-8427.

Springfield Gearing Up for Mother Road Festival

The International Route 66 Mother Road Festival
September 21-23 in Downtown Springfield. More details here

Springfield is gearing up for the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival set for next weekend.


The three days of festivities will include a cruise, live music and a classic car and truck show featuring 1,000 vehicles competing in over 40 different categories.


Organizers expect 80,000 visitors to the festival from all around the country and around the world.


The festival teamed with Land of Lincoln Honor Flight as the official charity for this year's event.


Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says that the event highlights Springfield as a crucial piece of history for the historic route and he's seen the significance of Route 66 in places as far away as Hong Kong.


He also couldn't quantify the amount of tax dollars the festival will bring to the capital city but says that this event and other attractions help add to the more than $80 million tourism industry for the capital city.


The International Route 66 Mother Road Festival takes place September 21st through the 23rd. For more information, visit


First Year Teacher Hero After Tackling Student Gunman in Normal

A teacher from Lincoln who subdued a teenage gunman and averted tragedy inside Normal Community High School last week says the healing process is getting underway.


Derrick Schonauer says he and students shared a group hug as they returned to classes Monday for the first time since the harrowing incident.


Schonauer isn’t talking much about his actions last Friday, but other witnesses say the first-year health teacher tackled the 14-year-old boy after he fired shots into a classroom ceiling.


The unidentified teenager is facing 16 felony counts for the incident, in which he brought not only three guns, but also a hatchet, two knives and a flammable liquid into the school.

Circuit Clerk Candidate DiCenso Won't Take Certain Campaign Contributions

The Democratic challenger for Sangamon County Circuit Clerk says if she’s elected, she won’t take campaign donations from office staff or from companies that do business with the office.


Kristin DiCenso says the office needs “ethics reforms” to end a culture of “pay-to-play.”


Republican incumbent Tony Libri has accepted donations both from employees and vendors, a practice which DiCenso says erodes public trust in the office.

Sangamon County Could Soon Stop Housing Juveniles from Out of the County

Sangamon County may soon stop housing young offenders from other counties in its own Juvenile Detention Center, and may no longer house young women at the center at all.


The county is trying to find ways to make up for the loss of state funding for the center, and says it loses money when it takes teen offenders from other counties.


And although few young women are housed there, doing so requires a full contingent of staff, which adds to costs.


The State Journal-Register reports that if the changes are adopted in the county budget, there could be staff layoffs at the Juvenile Detention Center, but it’s not known how many.

Springfield Municipal Band to Play 9/11 Tribute Concert Tonight

On this eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, the Springfield Municipal Band will pay tribute with a concert this evening.


The event begins at 6:30 tonight at Douglas Park.


Admission is free, but donations will be accepted to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project and local veterans memorials.

Two Dozen Springfield City Vehicles Could Covert to Propane

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston’s administration is proceeding with plans to convert part of the city’s vehicle fleet to run on propane.


As 970 WMAY News reported last month, city budget director Bill McCarty says grants will defray the cost of the conversion, and propane will cost thousands of dollars less per month than regular unleaded gasoline.


An ordinance before aldermen this week calls for starting the effort on about two dozen vehicles, but McCarty hopes to eventually expand it to more than 200.

Gov. Quinn Rejects as Burdensome a FOIA for Prison Access

First, Gov. Pat Quinn rejected reporters' requests to tour Illinois prisons as he plans a major shakeup in the state's corrections system.


Now his administration is refusing to reveal precisely who has been allowed to see inside state penitentiaries during his three years in office.


In response to a Freedom of Information request by The Associated Press, Quinn's administration says it is too burdensome to reveal who has been allowed to enter.


Despite the governor's declaration that allowing reporters inside is a "security risk," prison officials say only individual wardens have information about tours by outside groups, and claim that top Department of Corrections brass don't keep track of who's coming and going.

Gov. Quinn to Use Electronic Democracy to Push Pension Reform

If you’re not a fan of political messages on Facebook, you may want to defriend Governor Pat Quinn.


Quinn says he will rely on the Internet and social media for his grassroots campaign to pressure lawmakers to adopt a pension reform plan.


So far, the governor is offering few details about what he calls “electronic democracy” and how it might be used to end the logjam over changes to the state’s public pensions.

No Timeline For Rep. Jackson Jr.'s Return To Work

It’s still not clear when Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. will return to work on Capitol Hill.


Jackson was discharged from the Mayo Clinic last week and returned to his Washington, D.C. home to continue his recovery after treatment for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues related to bariatric surgery eight years ago.


A spokesman said late last week that he thought Jackson might be back in his congressional office today.


But Jackson’s father, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and other family members say there is no set timeline for his return to work.

Decades Old Murder Case Goes to Trial This Week

The trial begins this week in a 55-year-old murder case.


Jack McCullough is accused of abducting and killing 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in the town of Sycamore in 1957.


The key witness could be a 63-year-old woman who was the girl’s playmate and the last person to see her alive after the two girls were approached by a man who called himself Johnny.


McCullough was initially a suspect but had an alibi, which later fell apart when an ex-girlfriend came forward and called his story into question.

Discipline Records: Knives A Common Problem In Springfield Schools

Guns are rare in Springfield schools… but knives are a different story.  


A State Journal-Register analysis of student discipline actions finds that one-fourth of expulsions since 2009 resulted from a student bringing a knife into the school. 


Other main reasons for expulsions: fighting, drug possession… and in one case, possession of pepper spray.

Quinn Will Rely On ''Electronic Democracy'' To Push Pension Reform

Governor Pat Quinn says he will rely on what he calls “electronic democracy” to launch his grass-roots campaign on pension reform. 


While not revealing many details, Quinn says he will use the Internet and social media to rally the public and urge them to press lawmakers to fix the state’s pension crisis.


Quinn has pledged to take his case for pension changes directly to the public, after lawmakers failed to approve a reform plan during a special legislative session last month.  Quinn says the $85 billion unfunded pension liability is the biggest fiscal threat facing the state, and warns it will eat up funding that could otherwise go to schools and other essential services.

''Portrait Of A Soldier'' Exhibit On Display In Decatur To Mark 9/11 Anniversary

Tuesday marks the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and in Decatur, it will be observed with a traveling exhibit that pays tribute to all Illinois soldiers who have died in the war on terror. 


The “Portrait of a Soldier” exhibit features hand-drawn sketches of each of the servicemen and women from Illinois who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. 


Governor Pat Quinn was on hand Saturday to open the exhibit at the Decatur Public Library, where it will be on display for a week.

Experts: Drew Peterson Unlikely To Stand Trial For Fourth Wife's Disappearance

With Drew Peterson facing a possible 60-year sentence for murdering his third wife, legal experts are skeptical about whether Peterson will… or should… face trial for the disappearance of fourth wife Stacy Peterson. 


A number of veteran prosecutors say putting Drew Peterson on trial again would be tricky… since Stacy’s whereabouts are unknown.  And they say it would accomplish little, since Peterson is already likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Sangamon County Board and Commission Vacancies

The Sangamon County Board Office is taking applications from individuals interested in being appointed to terms on a few boards and commissions in the County.


There’s one vacancy for the Airport Authority Board. It’s a 5-year term and pays $125.00 per month.


An unexpired term is open on the Springfield Mass Transit District Board which pays $400 per month. That 5 year term will be ending in February of 2014.


And there’s one vacancy on the North Side Fire District.


Individuals interested must submit a letter of interest to the Board by October 1st to be considered.

SIU School of Medicine Looking For Alzheimers Volunteers - Testing New Drug

Southern Illinois School of Medicine is looking for individuals to take part in a national multi-state study of the drug Gammagard. The drug is being evaluated for its safety and effectiveness in the treatment of Alzheimers disease. Limited studies say the drug may help stabilize the debilitating disease for up to three years.


Individuals who have been diagnosed with mile to moderate Alzheimers disease who would like to participate in the trail may contact Barbara Lokaitis at 545-9737 weekdays.

Lottery Rolls Out Another New Game Sunday

The Illinois Lottery is introducing yet another new game this Sunday. It’s called My 3 with two daily drawings. Players choose three numbers – zero through nine.


Although the drawn numbers won’t be televised, they’ll show up on the Lottery website and on Lottery terminal screens inside retailers shortly after the drawing.


Matching all three numbers in order wins $200. All three in any order with a repeated digit - $100. All three in any order randomly $40. And any two numbers in any order wins $4.00.

Mayor Won't Reveal Waste Hauling Ordinance Until He Lines Up Votes

An ordinance that could change trash pickup across Springfield could be introduced within the next couple of weeks, but by the time you find out what’s in it, a deal could already be cut to pass it.


Mayor Mike Houston says he won’t disclose the details on the trash ordinance until the votes are lined up to pass it.


Some ideas that have been floated include requiring city residents to pay for waste hauling through their CWLP bills, and dividing the city into zones, which each zone having a designated day of the week for pickup, or perhaps even a designated waste hauler.


Listen to Jim Leach and Mayor Mike Houston's conversation from Thursday's show below or at this link.



Mayor Mum on Possible Veto of Local Preference Ordinance Giving County Level Playing Field

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston
Springfield Mayor Mike Houston

Mayor Mike Houston is being coy about the fate of an ordinance that would give county businesses the same advantage as city companies when it comes to bidding for City Hall contracts.


Aldermen approved the ordinance this week, but Houston opposes extending the same five-percent preference to county firms.


He says he’d rather see a smaller advantage, perhaps two-percent, for those companies.


But Houston won’t say if he will veto the ordinance.


He promises an announcement before the next City Council meeting on September 18th.


Listen to Jim Leach and Mayor Mike Houston's conversation from Thursday's show below or at this link.


CWLP Employee Arrested, Accused of Stealing Thousands of Dollars in Brass Fittings

A City Water Light and Power employee is accused of stealing materials from city trucks on city time, and then trying to resell the stolen items to recycling centers.


Stephen Ferrier was arrested Wednesday while on the job.


City officials had discovered thousands of dollars worth of brass fittings missing from trucks parked in a city lot.


Ferrier had been working alone on the night shift at the time of the thefts, according to the State Journal-Register.


He’s a 21-year city employee, but is on unpaid leave while the charges are pending.

County Board Approves Plans for Rural On-Demand Mass Transit Services

Sangamon County Complex

Plans are rolling along to establish a rural transportation system to help people in areas not currently served by the Springfield Mass Transit District.


Sangamon County is setting up the on-demand service, which will allow people to call a day or more in advance to schedule a ride that will pick them up at one spot and take them to a location of their choosing within the county.


The service, which is aimed primarily at seniors, will be operated by Senior Service of Central Illinois, using state and federal grants but no county tax dollars.


The county board approved procedures for the service Thursday and hopes to have it operational by the end of the year.

Flu Shots Begin on September 10th

It’s flu shot time again. The Sangamon County Health Department is recommending that everyone six months of age and older get their yearly flu vaccination as soon as they’re available.


Seasonal flu immunizations are free to all Medicare B and Medicaid recipients. Sangamon County residents who do not meet that criteria may also reserve their shot for a $27.00 fee. This year, those 65 and older will have a choice between two vaccines – a regular one and one with a higher dosage.


The Sangamon County Health Department on South Grand has walk-in clinics during their regular hours beginning September 10th.

Drew Peterson Found Guilty of Murdering Kathleen Savio

Former suburban Chicago Police officer Drew Peterson has been found guilty of murdering his third wife, Kathleen Savio in 2004. Savio’s body was found in her dry bathtub with bruises and a blow to her head. Authorities had ruled the death as an accident, but later re-classified the death when Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished in 2007. The 58-year-old Peterson faces a maximum 60 year prison term.

Trash Pickup Ordinance Tweaked For Possible Passage

An ordinance to revamp trash pickup in Springfield could go before the City Council later this month… but Mayor Mike Houston says he wants to make sure the votes are lined up for passage before he reveals the details.


Houston and aldermen have been talking for months about ways to reduce fly dumping and ensure that all city residents are paying for trash pickup. Ideas have included making waste hauling part of the City Water Light and Power bill… and dividing the city into zones with trash pickup restricted to certain days of the week in a particular zone.


Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” Houston did not rule out any of those ideas, but says the final ordinance will depend entirely on what can attract enough votes for passage.

Mayor Houston Not Happy With Recent Level Playing Field Ordinance

He doesn’t like the ordinance… but Springfield Mayor Mike Houston won’t say whether he will veto a measure approved by the city council this week that would put Sangamon County businesses on a level playing field with those in the city.


Currently, businesses within the city limits get a five-percent advantage when it comes to bidding on city contracts. But aldermen this week approved an ordinance to extend that same preference to businesses in the county.


Houston says he doesn’t mind county businesses getting some kind of a break, but says it shouldn’t be as much as those located in the city. But the mayor says he’s still reviewing the measure, and plans to announce sometime in the next two weeks if he will veto it, sign it, or simply do nothing… in which case it would take effect anyway.

School Board Hopes to Preserve Funds for Lawrence Education Center

Even while faced with the prospect of slashing millions from its budget in the next several years, the Springfield School Board is struggling with questions over a few thousand here and a few thousand there.


Board members want some detailed recommendations on where to squeeze $57,000 out of other parts of the budget.


They hope to apply that money to preserve high school diploma and GED programs at the Lawrence Education Center.


Those programs are slated to be scaled back because the district lost some grant money that was paying for them.

School Board Votes Down Raises for Non-Union Employees

School board members voted late Tuesday to reject small raises for several groups of non-union employees.


Superintendent Walter Milton’s administration had recommended the raises, averaging around one-and-a-half percent, for some support staff and workers in the SCOPE after-school program.


The raises would have helped those non-union workers keep pace with teachers, who are getting raises in conjunction with the union contract they negotiated last year.


But the board says money’s too tight to approve the raises.

Local Unions Donating Labor & Equipment for Demolition of Two Springfield Buildings

Two more empty buildings in Springfield are coming down, this time to make room for a new park and community garden.


Two local unions will donate labor and equipment to knock down the buildings at 7th and South Grand owned by Family Service Center.


The non-profit organization will then oversee the development of the property into a park, with a new playground already in place.


Alderman Cory Jobe is also donating $500 from his Ward Six Fund to support the project.

Sangamon County Bidders To Get Same Advantage As Springfield For City Business

It looks like Sangamon County businesses will get the same advantage that companies in the City of Springfield enjoy when it comes to bidding on city contracts.


Without debate, aldermen approved a measure Tuesday night that would apply a five-percent advantage to county businesses, meaning they could win a contract as long as their bid was within five-percent of a low bid from a business outside the county.


That puts those county businesses on the same playing field as city companies, which already enjoyed the five-percent advantage.

District 186 Will Look For Savings To Keep Lawrence Adult Center Open

The Springfield School Board says it will keep looking for savings in other areas, in order to fund high school diploma and GED programs at the Lawrence Education Center. Those programs are facing cutbacks after the district saw a $57,000 reduction in grant funding for those programs.


Several Lawrence students and graduates urged the board to keep the programs intact, saying that Lawrence represents the only way that some students will be able to graduate and have a chance at a brighter future. The board is trying to finalize its budget before the end of the month.

Springfield Aldermen Pass Ban of Commercial Tanning Bed Use for Minors

Tanning salons in Springfield will be off limits to teenagers starting January 1st.


The Springfield City Council reversed course Tuesday night and approved a ban on indoor tanning by minors, regardless of whether they have a parent’s permission.


The measure had been stalled in committee, but Alderman Sam Cahnman picked up the extra votes to pass it after the Sangamon County Medical Society endorsed the measure last week.


Alderman Cory Jobe, who voted in favor of the ban, says he now wants the city to push state lawmakers to adopt a statewide ban on teen tanning.

District 186 Debates Epi-Pens Costs

The Springfield School Board wants more study before deciding whether to equip schools with “epi-pens” that could save a student’s life in the case of severe allergic shock.


A recent state law allows schools to keep a supply of the pens on hand and to administer them when a nurse determines that it’s necessary.


Previously, the pens could only be given to students who had already been diagnosed with allergies and who supplied their own “epi-pens” to the school.


Board members expressed concerns about the cost of stocking the devices and about what rules and procedures would need to be developed for their use.

All Clear at Camp Lincoln, Criminal Investigation Ongoing After Powder & Threatening Letter Found

A white powder that prompted the evacuation of two buildings at Camp Lincoln Tuesday afternoon turns out to be harmless, but federal officials have started a criminal investigation to determine who sent it to the base in envelopes that also contained threatening letters.


At least three letters were sent to Camp Lincoln, apparently from the same individual. When the first one was opened, the powder spilled out, leading to a lockdown of the base that kept more than 200 workers from leaving for several hours.


Crews from the Springfield Fire Department and the National Guard responded to the situation.

Gov. Quinn Blasts GOP During DNC Speech

Governor Pat Quinn is defending President Obama, and accusing Republicans of lying about Obama’s record.


Quinn’s remarks at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday blasted the GOP for misrepresenting Obama’s positions on Medicare and welfare reform.


Quinn also attacked Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s record, saying Romney did not deliver on promises of more jobs and smaller government as Massachusetts governor.

Judge Halts Quinn's Prison Closure Plan

A Southern Illinois judge has put a halt to the Quinn administration’s efforts to close prisons, youth centers and transition centers, at least for now.


The judge issued a temporary restraining order in the aftermath of an arbitrator’s ruling last week that Quinn’s closure plan violates union contracts and must be collectively bargained with AFSCME.


The ruling means that facilities from Decatur to Dwight to the Tamms supermax prison will remain open while the state and union hammer out their differences.

Suspicious Package at Camp Lincoln Cleared as Harmless

Ongoing criminal investigation ...


Three suspicious packages at Camp Lincoln Tuesday afternoon turned out to be harmless, according to a press release issued by the Illinois National Guard.


The "all clear" was given to 240 soldiers at the base in Springfield three hours after several buildings were locked down. 


Local authorities responded including the Sangamon County Sheriff's office and the Springfield Fire Department.  The Illinois Air National Guard's 183rd Fighter Wing Bio-Environmental Engineering team and the Illinois Army National Guard's 5th Civil Support Team also responded.


The scare came after one soldier opened one of three packages and alerted authorities.  The other two packages were not opened.


Maj. Gen. Dennis L. Celletti of Springfield, the acting Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, says "Although this turned out to be a false alarm, the Soldiers, Airmen and civilian employees here on Camp Lincoln responded exactly as they were trained."


An ongoing criminal investigation will be led by the FBI with assistance from the Sangamon County Sheriff's Office and other local law enforcement agencies, according to the release. 

Springfield Aldermen Pass Tan Ban for Minors

After hearing from a myriad of health professionals, Springfield Aldermen voted to pass Alderman Sam Cahnman's proposal to ban anyone under the age of 18 from using tanning beds, 7-3.


Former Springfield Alderman Irv Smith addressed the council in support of the measure along with several plastic surgeons and a mom who gave permission to her teenage daughter for a couple of session later to find out her daughter tanned many more session behind her back.


The ordinance had stalled in committee for weeks but got more support after the Sangamon County Medical Society came out in favor of the measure.  Monday, Fit Club said that even without the ordinance they would ban tanning for minors at all three of their facilities.  


Alderman Doris Turner said she was sure to push for the ordinance to include language that would help educate district 186 students about the dangers of tanning.


Alderman Cory Jobe said he wants the council to pass a resolution urging the state to pass a state wide ban on minors using tanning beds.


Aldermen Frank Edwards, Kris Theilen and Tim Griffin voted no for the ordinance. 


The ordinance will take effect January 1st.

Two Buildings Evacuated At Camp Lincoln - Suspicious Packages & Powder Found

The Illinois National Guard locked down two buildings on Camp Lincoln grounds after an envelope containing a suspicious substance was opened. Three envelopes believed to be from the same, unknown source were delivered to Camp Lincoln.


All three envelopes were turned over to the Springfield Fire Department and Sangamon County Sheriff’s office for their investigation. Personnel with the Illinois Air National Guard’s 183rd Fighter wing Bio-Environmental Engineering Team and 5th Civil Support Team also responded to augment the investigation.

Local Dealership Donates Vehicles To SPARC

With an aging fleet of vehicles and public dollars drying up, SPARC is welcoming the gift of two quality pre-owned vans from Giuffre Volvo, courtesy of the Lincoln Land Down Syndrome Society.


The vans will be used at the group homes to transfer residents to jobs and other activities.


Lincoln Land Down Syndrome Society raised $16,000 with their charity golf outing earlier this year and Scott Sables with Giuffre shopped for the best vehicles.


SPARC says they serve around 500 people and have already 30 vehicles, but the new vans will be used for their residential services transporting up to 80 people from 13 different group homes to their jobs and community events.


Judge Blocks Quinn Administration From Closing Prisons For Another Month

A judge in Southern Illinois has issued a temporary restraining order that blocks the Quinn administration from any moves to close prisons, youth centers or transition centers around the state.


That ruling comes in the ongoing case filed by AFSCME, which claims that Governor Pat Quinn’s facilities closure plans violate the union contract and endanger the safety of workers. The restraining order enforces an arbitrator’s ruling last week that the closures should not proceed until the changes are collectively bargained with the union.


The order halts, for the time being, closure plans for facilities in Decatur, Dwight, and five other cities… including the Tamms supermax prison.

Alderman Cahnman Says He Has The Votes To Pass The Tan Ban

Some Springfield tanning parlors may find some of their best clients off limits soon… if Alderman Sam Cahnman’s predictions are correct. Cahnman says he now has the votes to pass an ordinance that will prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from using a tanning salon, regardless of whether they have a parent’s permission.


The ordinance has been stalled in committee for weeks, but has gotten a boost recently from an endorsement by the Sangamon County Medical Society and a move by FitClub to voluntarily implement the restriction at its three locations. Cahnman plans to bring the ordinance back up for a vote at tonight’s City Council meeting.

AFSMCE Will Follow Quinn To Democratic National Convention

Governor Pat Quinn isn’t going to escape the anger of public sector unions just by leaving the state to attend the Democratic National Convention.


AFSCME is vowing to make its presence felt in Charlotte this week, with a mobile billboard that will travel to various events attended by the Illinois delegation.


The billboard will highlight the union’s feud with Quinn and its accusations that the governor has ignored contracts and engaged in unfair labor practices.

Labor Day Parade Gets Political

Springfield’s Labor Day parade drew a large crowd, of participants.


But turnout by spectators was light, as is often the case with the annual event.


AFSCME’s float was a truck with messages meant for Governor Pat Quinn and lawmakers who are tasked with reforming state employee pensions. One sign worn by AFSME members had a target on the back with pensions and benefits written on the outer rings and jobs written on the bullseye.


Union representatives say organized labor is fighting back against a concerted effort to dilute workers’ rights and benefits, and say they will keep working to send a message that what’s good for unions is ultimately good for all workers.

AFSCME Float at Springfield's Labor Day Parade
AFSCME Float at Springfield's Labor Day Parade


Madigan Indicates Pension Reform Won't Happen Until Next Year

Any deal on reforming the state’s pension systems may not happen until the legislative lame duck session in January.


That’s according to House Speaker Mike Madigan, who told reporters at the Democratic National Convention Monday that the best opportunity to pass the controversial legislation may be after January 1st, when it will only take a simple majority to pass the bill, but before the new legislature is seated.


Madigan also held open the possibility that Democrats could pass something then without Republican votes.


That could mean a bill that includes shifting the state’s share of teacher pensions back to local districts, something the GOP opposes.

Fit Club Supports Tan Ban Plan

Fake Sun: Real Cancer--A promotional poster supporting Springfield's proposed tanning ban
Fake Sun: Real Cancer--A promotional poster supporting Springfield's proposed tanning ban

At least one Springfield business isn’t waiting for a city ordinance to ban use of tanning salons by minors.


FitClub announced Monday that it will no longer allow anyone under the age of 18 to use tanning beds at its three Springfield locations.


Alderman Sam Cahnman, who, alongside Alderman Steve Dove, is sponsoring an ordinance to make that ban mandatory citywide, says he believes he now has the votes to pass it, and plans to bring the ordinance out of committee for a vote at tonight’s city council meeting.


Cahnman says that even if Springfield does pass the tanning ban for minors, other tanning parlors outside the Springfield city limits could still allow minors to tan.


State law says that minors must have their parents permission to use tanning beds at tanning parlors.

Aldermen Consider Settling Racial Discrimination Case

Springfield PD

Springfield aldermen will soon decide whether to settle a case of reverse discrimination worth $150,000.


The ordinance on first reading for Tuesday’s city council meeting would settle the case where police officers claim they were discriminated against because of their race.


The three officers worked for the police department for a stint, voluntarily left, and then came back for a much longer period of time.


Mayor Mike Houston says that the case is one where the complainants, three white police officers, claim they were treated unfairly when they compared their benefits and pay to another minority officer who was in a similar situation. 


Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen says the case goes back to 2004 and that their claim was based on what the policies were at the time and that nobody was singled out for discriminatory action.


Cullen also says that the policy hasn’t been cleared up yet because they were all part of a collective bargaining agreement and the policies are not something the city can unilaterally change.


Two of the three officers are retired from the police department. The third is still employed with Springfield PD.


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