The start of the new fiscal year on Monday means many state government retirees will have to begin paying health insurance premiums for the first time since they retired.
A Sangamon County judge on Friday refused to block the state from collecting those premiums, but ordered the money held in a separate account while court challenges continue over whether the new retiree premiums are constitutional.
Springfield aldermen may seek tighter control over City Hall's use of outside attorneys.
Alderman Joe McMenamin has introduced an ordinance that requires City Council approval for any legal services contract worth more than $5,000. Right now, aldermanic approval is only needed for contracts over $25,000.
A Springfield alderman wants to relax the limits on garage sales. The current city ordinance only allows residents to hold two garage sales in a six-month period.
Alderman Kris Theilen wants to double that, to allow up to four garage sales per resident every six months. Residents will still be limited to no more than three consecutive days per garage sale, and could only conduct them between 7am and 6pm.
Sangamon County should have just one 911 dispatch center to cover all communities… instead of the current system where two towns run their own call centers, in addition to the main county facility.
That’s the recommendation of the Citizens Efficiency Commission. Chairman Karen Hasara says the current system is wasteful, and eliminating the separate centers in Chatham and Auburn could save residents there a half-million dollars a year without diminishing 911 service.
The recommendation is non-binding. It’s up to officials in those communities to decide whether to pursue the idea.
There are not many visible signs of progress after the first meeting of a legislative committee looking for a pension reform compromise.
But there are continued signs of tension between some committee members and Governor Pat Quinn.
State senator Kwame Raoul is the chairman of the bipartisan conference committee… and says he doesn’t necessarily feel bound by Quinn’s demand that the panel produce a compromise for a vote by July 9th.
But Quinn says some committee members are spending more time complaining about his deadline than they are actually working on a solution.
State officials say there’s nothing to worry about… even though 19,000 cars a day drive over a Springfield bridge rated as “structurally deficient.”
An IDOT engineer in charge of bridges says if a bridge is open, it’s safe to drive on.
Carl Puzey, in an interview for the 970 WMAY News Feed, says the bridge in question, on Chatham Road north of Wabash, has been inspected and is sound, although its age does mean regular maintenance is essential.
More than a dozen Springfield bridges have some degree of structural deficiency.
Springfield’s jobless rate is down from a year ago.
Latest numbers from the State Department of Employment Security put local unemployment at 6.5% in May, down from 6.8% one year earlier. Springfield has the third-lowest jobless rate among major metropolitan areas around the state… only Bloomington-Normal and the Quad Cities were lower last month.
The highest metro jobless rate in the state is in Decatur, where layoffs swelled the number last month to 10.3%.
State transportation officials are wondering where the money will come from to pay for ongoing upkeep and maintenance of thousands of Illinois bridges.
Illinois ranks well above the national average in terms of bridges in good condition, but about 1 in 12 bridges around the state are listed as “structurally deficient.” That includes more than a dozen in the immediate Springfield area.
IDOT officials say as long as a bridge is open, it is safe to travel… but they also wonder how to maintain that track record once funding from the “Illinois Jobs Now” public works program runs out.
Governor Pat Quinn is releasing nearly half-a-million dollars for Springfield-area road projects.
The biggest local project in the new round of funding is a $283,000 contract for “microsurfacing” of more than four miles of Old Route 36 at, and east of, New Berlin.
The projects also include resurfacing of nearly 12 miles of Interstate 55 from the Lake Springfield bridge to the Montgomery County line… patching on Old Route 36 east of Farmingdale Road… and lighting at three intersections along Illinois Route 97.
Three people are dead following an early morning fire in Morgan County.
The sheriff’s department there says an adult female and two children under the age of 10 died when their mobile home burned near Marnico Village.
A neighbor spotted the flames and entered the home trying to rescue people. That person was able to pull the woman out of the home, but she later died. A fourth person who lives there was not home at the time.
Authorities do not believe the fire was suspicious, but the State Fire Marshal is still investigating the cause. The names of the victims have not yet been released.
Top legislative Republicans are vowing to block any attempt to move Illinois to a “progressive” income tax.
For decades, Illinois has operated with a flat tax, where all individuals are taxed at the same rate, regardless of income levels. Some Democrats are proposing a switch to a system where higher incomes are taxed at higher rates.
But the GOP says that move is nothing more than a tax increase… under a pretense of “tax fairness.”
The ban on concealed carry remains on the books in Illinois, for the moment… but if you get busted for it in Sangamon County right now, you’re likely to get a pass.
State’s Attorney John Milhiser says he is not currently bringing charges in case involving people carrying concealed weapons… as long as there are not other criminal offenses connected to the incident.
But Milhiser… in a live interview on 970 WMAY… says he will not issue a blanket statement telling county residents it’s OK to carry a concealed weapon, as a number of other county prosecutors have done.
Springfield police are putting out a warning about a possible scam that appears to play off the excitement over the forthcoming Hy-Vee store on South MacArthur.
Authorities say the incident started a couple of days ago, when a local woman received a call from a female claiming to be conducting a survey for the planned supermarket. The next day, the intended target got a follow-up call from a male who called himself "Derek," who said the woman had won some in-store coupons. He then said he needed to deliver the coupons to her in person.
Hy-Vee was notified of the incident and contacted police. The company says it is not conducting any surveys in the Springfield market. Police advise residents never to give out personal info over the phone, and to report suspicious solicitations.
Governor Pat Quinn says the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage provides 11-hundred reasons for Illinois to pass a marriage equality law.
That number is a reference to the estimated 11-hundred federal rights and benefits that are extended to married couples… but which were denied to legally-married gay couples until now. The high court ruled that denying those benefits to same-sex couples who were married in a state that permits such unions is unconstitutional.
Quinn again called on lawmakers to approve a pending bill which cleared the state Senate in February but was never called for a vote in the House.
Sangamon County's state's attorney won't issue a blanket statement telling county residents they can carry concealed weapons before a new state law is approved. But John Milhiser acknowledges that as a practical matter, there is very little chance he will prosecute anyone for doing so at this point unless some other offense is involved.
Milhiser says he has personally reviewed every such case since a federal court struck down Illinois's ban on concealed carry last year, and has not filed charges in any of them.
There are several pending cases that were filed before that court ruling... but Milhiser says they could very well be dismissed once a new concealed carry law is enacted.
Illinois State Police are now involved in the investigation of document shredding within the Springfield Police Department.
That word comes from the State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor’s office… which took over the case because Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Milhiser had a conflict of interest.
The appellate prosecutor’s office says state police investigators are looking into whether SPD brass violated state law by destroying internal affairs records ahead of schedule, and without prior approval from state officials.
There’s no timeline for completion of that investigation or a decision on how to proceed with the case.
House Republican leader Tom Cross does not share the skepticism of some of his fellow lawmakers about meeting Governor Pat Quinn’s deadline for a pension reform deal.
Cross says working out a compromise on the complex issue can be done before July 9th, the date Quinn wants to bring lawmakers back to Springfield for a final vote.
In an interview on the 970 WMAY News Feed Tuesday, Cross noted that the major players all want a deal sooner rather than later… and there are only a limited number of things that can be done to address the crisis, so he thinks an agreement can come together.
City Water Light and Power doesn't know yet how President Obama's climate change initiatives might affect the city's electric operations.
Obama wants new restrictions on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. But a CWLP spokesperson says those standards have not yet been developed, and it's not clear how long the utility will have to comply.
Illinois State Police are now involved in the investigation of the shredding of Springfield police internal affairs documents… a year ahead of schedule.
The State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor’s office says ISP investigators are looking into whether the actions of police department brass violated the law by destroying those documents. There’s no timeline for the completion of that investigation or a determination by the appellate prosecutor on whether to proceed with a case against those involved.
The documents were shredded earlier this year, despite a pending request under state records laws for many of those files.
Yet another candidate formally jumps into the Republican race for governor Wednesday… and this one has been there before.
State Senator Bill Brady will kick off his 3rd try for the Executive Mansion during a statewide fly-around that will include a stop in Springfield. Brady finished third in the 2006 GOP primary, and then narrowly defeated Kirk Dillard in 2010… only to lose the general election to Governor Pat Quinn by less than one-percent.
Brady says in a statement that he’s not giving up on Illinois… and with the right leadership the state can prosper again.
He will make a noon hour stop at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport on Wednesday… Brady will also be a guest Wednesday morning at 8:10 on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show.”
Governor Pat Quinn has drawn a line in the sand when it comes to pension reform… he says any plan sent to him by lawmakers must erase the state’s pension debt and provide 100-percent for public pension systems.
Quinn delivered the ultimatum in an op-ed piece that appeared in several Illinois newspapers Tuesday. The governor’s demand appears to be an attempt to deter a legislative conference committee from adopting the plan put forward by Senate President John Cullerton and public sector unions. Cullerton’s plan does not meet either criteria.
Quinn wants that committee to devise a plan for a final legislative vote by July 9th.
The leader of Illinois House Republicans believes a pension plan can come together by the July 9th deadline set by Governor Pat Quinn.
Minority leader Tom Cross says all the major players want to find a resolution… and want to do so quickly. Cross says there are only a limited number of ways to fix the pension mess and stay within the confines of the Illinois Constitution, so it shouldn’t take that much time to build a consensus around one and bring it back before lawmakers next month.
Cross made his comments in a live interview on the 970 WMAY “News Feed.”
A top Illinois lawmaker wants the U.S. Treasury to mint a special coin in honor of the upcoming sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s death.
House Republican leader Tom Cross has introduced the resolution, which asks for such a coin to be produced and distributed in April and May of 2015… to coincide with the anniversary of Lincoln’s death and the re-enactment of his funeral train procession back to Springfield.
Cross hopes lawmakers can take action on that resolution when they return for another special session the week of July 8th.
Demolition work has already started on some of the vacant buildings that sit on the property that will eventually become the new Hy-Vee supermarket on MacArthur Boulevard.
City officials believe the project will be the anchor for a resurgence of development along a corridor that was once a major retail hub in Springfield.
When it’s completed next spring, the Hy-Vee store will feature a sit-down restaurant, an in-store chef and dietician, a drive-up pharmacy, and an adjacent convenience store with a drive-up window for coffee.
Governor Pat Quinn says he is carefully going through every line and every provision of the concealed carry bill that lawmakers sent to him last month.
A number of legislators have called on Quinn to take quick action on the bill so that they have time to act on any changes he might make before a July 9th court-ordered deadline to get a concealed carry law on the books.
But Quinn says, quote, “politicians will have to wait,” because he wants to make sure that the bill protects public safety.
Illinois will try to sell a new round of bonds this week… despite weak outlooks from credit rating agencies and a volatility in the bond market that could drive the state’s interest costs even higher.
Standard and Poor’s gave Illinois an A-minus ranking for its bonds, with a negative outlook… barely a passing grade in the competitive bond market.
And that low grade could force Illinois to offer higher interest rates to bond buyers… potentially adding millions to the amount it will eventually take to pay off those bonds, which will be used to finance construction projects.
Pana police have issued an “Endangered Missing Person” notification for a 69-year-old woman who was last seen around noon Sunday in the parking lot of the Walgreen’s in Pana.
Witnesses say Viola Howell appeared disoriented before driving off alone. She is described as a white female, five-foot-four inches tall, with brown hair and blue eyes. She was driving a 1992 red Ford four-door, license plate VPV 963.
Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call the Pana police department at 562-2141.
You know people are looking forward to a new grocery store when they start gathering in the parking lot... almost a year before it opens.
A large crowd of neighbors joined Springfield city and business leaders for a groundbreaking to mark the start of construction on the new Hy-Vee supermarket complex on South MacArthur.
By the time work is done late next spring, the old K-Mart store and several adjacent empty buildings will be converted to a 90,000 square foot grocery store with a convenience store on the same property.
The store will employ 400 full- and part-time workers, and is viewed as a major step in the effort to attract more business and revitalize the MacArthur retail corridor.
Menard and Macoupin Counties are among 22 in Illinois with chronic physician shortages.
The situation could become even more severe next year, when thousands more people become eligible for state-backed insurance programs.
State officials have been working on strategies to ease the shortage. But the State Medical Society has opposed efforts to let nurses and physician assistants provide more of the services that only doctors can currently perform.
Fire has heavily damaged a historic building on the downtown square in Lincoln.
The century-old one-time bank building, which currently houses the Oasis Senior Center, went up in flames Friday evening. Several people inside got out safely, although three firefighters suffered minor injuries.
Investigators think a lightning strike may have sparked that blaze in Lincoln.
The dangers of lightning go beyond the risk of fire… and state officials want you to take those dangers seriously.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is issuing a reminder about summer storm safety… warning that if you can hear thunder, you could be within range of a lightning strike, even if the storm isn’t directly overhead.
Officials say there is no safe place outdoors during a lightning storm. Two people have already died in Illinois this year from lightning strikes.
A federal grand jury in Springfield has indicted a one-time aide to a former state lawmaker on charges that he misused part of a million-dollar AIDS awareness grant to benefit himself and that representative.
The indictment against Lloyd Kelly was handed down last year, but was only unsealed this week.
It alleges Kelly and the representative… identified as Public Official A… used the money for personal and political expenses, and to attend athletic events. The investigation is ongoing.
An O’Fallon man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter after his toddler son died when the boy was left in a hot car.
Authorities say Wayne Hubert put the 23-month-old boy in a car seat, then went back into his house and passed out drunk. The boy was dead when he was found by his mother more than two hours later after she came home from work. Temperatures in O’Fallon Thursday were in the 90s.
The chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party has resigned following a firestorm that erupted over a controversial e-mail that he authored.
Jim Allen submitted his resignation to the state GOP after several calls for him to step down, including one from Congressman Rodney Davis. Allen was a supporter of Davis, and in the e-mail, he attacked Davis’s primary opponent, Erika Harold. In that e-mail, Allen referred to Harold as “miss queen,” compared her to a streetwalker, and suggested she would eventually be hired by a law firm seeking to meet a minority quota.
Davis called the remarks “asinine,” but says they are not in his control and not something he would ever condone, so they should not reflect on his campaign. Both state party chair Jack Dorgan and national GOP chairman Reince Priebus urged Allen to step aside.
The head of the Illinois State Medical Society is applauding a decision by the American Medical Association to classify obesity as a disease.
Appearing live on the 970 WMAY News Feed, Dr. Eldon Trame says the decision is important because it clears the way to begin treating obesity as a serious condition on its own… rather than waiting until the condition triggers other serious conditions like diabetes or heart disease.
He says the AMA position could have an impact on what insurance policies and other health initiatives will cover.
It should be a busy night at the Sangamon County Fair, with popular country band Little Big Town as the headline act in the Grandstand. The Sangamon County sheriff’s office still recommends that you take an alternate round to the fairgrounds in New Berlin, to avoid huge traffic backups on Interstate 72.
The Sangamon County Fair is now underway… and the sheriff’s office is asking you to consider using alternate routes to get there.
In a press release, Undersheriff Jack Campbell says on big concert nights… such as Friday’s upcoming appearance by country star Trace Adkins… traffic gets backed up on Interstate 72 at the New Berlin exit, creating a hazardous situation.
Campbell recommends exiting instead at either the Curran exit from the east, or the Alexander exit from the west, and then taking back roads to New Berlin.
The fair runs through Sunday. Tonight’s lineup features country band Little Big Town.
The old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again” may have been taken a bit too literally by a Springfield man.
Sangamon County authorities have arrested 48-year-old Steven Davis for possession and sale of heroin… less than two weeks after they busted him following a controlled purchase of heroin and cocaine. Undersheriff Jack Campbell says Davis was out on bond after the first arrest when DIRT team members nabbed him for the second offense.
In both instances, police recovered sizable amounts of narcotics, drug paraphernalia, and thousands of dollars in cash. Following the latest arrest, Davis was taken back to the Sangamon County Jail… where his bond is now set at $75,000.
The Sangamon County Coroner now confirms that a body discovered Tuesday night near the Stanford Avenue overpass is that of a man who's been missing since June 3rd.
57-year-old Timothy "Mo" Ryan's death appears to be a suicide, according to Coroner Cinda Edwards. A .45 caliber handgun was recovered at the scene.
Authorities had been searching for Ryan for more than two weeks. Authorities had been searching for Ryan for more than two weeks. He had last been seen not far from where his body was discovered Tuesday night by rescue squad team members on a training exercise.
The coroner had withheld the name from official release until Wednesday afternoon, until Ryan's family could be notified.
Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner (ROW’-ner) brings his campaign to Springfield with a daring message in the Capitol City… government workers are getting paid too much.
The wealthy Chicago businessman is vowing to bring a more businesslike approach to government… and he says that means getting spending under control. And in an interview for the 970 WMAY “News Feed,” Rauner points to one specific area where he says Illinois needs to spend much less. He says government workers are overpaid by 23% compared to public sector workers in neighboring states, and contends the disparity is even worse compared to the private sector. Rauner calls that unfair.
And he says that, and other, spending has to be reduced because taxes also must come down. He promises a comprehensive review of the state’s entire tax structure… from income to sales to property… with an eye toward cutting it as much as possible.
Rauner says the big problem is that Illinois politicians are being controlled by public sector unions, in a system that he calls a corrupt conflict of interest. Rauner is vowing to end the union influence if he’s elected.
Here’s a number that could have you white-knuckling the steering wheel.
A transportation safety group claims that 1 in 12 Illinois bridges are “structurally deficient,” putting them at risk of collapse. The group Transportation for America says more than 2300 Illinois bridges are in need of extensive maintenance work… or should be replaced entirely.
Despite those numbers, Illinois actually scores better than most states… 34 others had a higher percentage of potentially dangerous bridges.
The Sangamon County Fair is now underway… and the sheriff’s office is asking you to consider using alternate routes to get there.
In a press release, Undersheriff Jack Campbell says on big concert nights… such as Friday’s upcoming appearance by country star Trace Adkins… traffic gets backed up on Interstate 72 at the New Berlin exit, creating a hazardous situation. Campbell recommends exiting instead at either the Curran exit from the east, or the Alexander exit from the west, and then taking back roads to New Berlin.
The fair runs through Sunday. Tonight (Wednesday), events include the Motocross competition and the Miss Sangamon County Fair pageant.
Search and rescue crews on a training exercise have discovered the body of a man near the Stanford Avenue overpass.
The coroner’s office says it has not positively identified the man or determined a cause of death.
An autopsy will be conducted.
Those rescue squad members were training in that area as part of the ongoing search for a Springfield man who disappeared more than two weeks ago, but officials have not confirmed whether the body is that of the missing man.
Murals are coming to more building exteriors in downtown Springfield.
A week after a contentious argument over the project in a Springfield City Council committee of the whole meeting, aldermen on Tuesday unanimously, and without debate, approved $50,000 in downtown TIF district money to help the project.
Mayor Mike Houston dislikes the use of TIF money for the project, saying it will not generate additional tax dollars for the downtown TIF, but says a veto would be pointless because of the overwhelming support on the City Council.
Illinois lawmakers will make another try at passing pension reform during today’s special session… but it’s likely to be July before a deal is approved.
The game plan now among legislative leaders is to appoint a “conference committee” of lawmakers from both chambers and both parties to work out a compromise from the various competing pension proposals.
The legislature would then come back in July for a final vote.
Governor Pat Quinn wants to bring them back in early July… which would also allow for any follow-up votes on concealed carry legislation if necessary.
But legislative leaders say the pension deal may not be done that soon.
Springfield’s interim school superintendent says there is some initial interest in at least one of the two school buildings that were closed down last month in the latest round of budget cuts.
Bob Leming says there has been some conversation with a community service agency… which he did not identify… but he says it’s too early to go into much detail about where that could lead.
School board member Scott McFarland is pressing for the district to either use or sell the former Pleasant Hill and Wanless school buildings so that they don’t just sit empty in the middle of their North End neighborhoods.
Wednesday’s special legislative session won’t be the last time that lawmakers convene in Springfield this summer.
Governor Pat Quinn’s office says the plan now is to appoint a “conference committee” made up of lawmakers from both chambers who will negotiate agreement on the competing pension reform plans now on the table. The legislature would then come back in early July to give final approval to that deal.
State Senator Andy Manar (muh-NAR’), in an interview for the 970 WMAY “News Feed,” says he’s more optimistic now that a deal can actually come together… after months of disagreement.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan has been granted a little more time to craft a possible appeal of the ruling that ordered the state to pass a concealed carry law.
Madigan hasn’t decided if she will appeal that ruling… but wants to keep the option open until Governor Pat Quinn decides what he plans to do with a concealed carry bill that’s now sitting on his desk.
The U.S. Supreme Court has now given Madigan until July 22nd to take action.
Another state’s attorney has decided to allow people to carry concealed weapons in his county.
The top prosecutor in White County joins at least four others around the state in choosing to no longer prosecute such cases… following the court ruling that ordered Illinois to repeal its ban and pass a concealed carry law.
Other state’s attorneys are also considering similar moves… including Macon County, where prosecutors are still developing what standard they may apply while the state concealed carry law is in limbo.
Both a top Democrat and a local Republican on Capitol Hill are expressing concerns about the size and scope of government snooping.
U.S Senator Dick Durbin and GOP representative Rodney Davis appeared live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show.” In separate interviews, each said the collection of phone records on the vast majority of Americans has the potential for abuse.
Davis says he’s not aware that the privacy of innocent Americans has actually been violated, and notes that privacy and security are a delicate balance.
But Durbin sees little difference between the current program and similar surveillance under President George W. Bush… and says in both cases, the government went too far.
Despite a plea for fast action from a Springfield school board member, District 186 officials acknowledge they have no plans at the moment for two recently-vacated school buildings.
Furniture is being moved out of Wanless and Pleasant Hill schools… most of it going to Feitshans (FIGHT’-shuns), where those students will attend classes in the fall. After that, some space will be used for storage, but beyond that, the district has made no arrangements to either occupy or sell the buildings.
Board member Scott McFarland is asking for a plan as soon as possible, saying those vacant buildings could hurt property values in their north-end neighborhoods.
A popular local TV newscaster is now popping up… on a different channel.
Marianne Manko… who abruptly left WICS Channel 20 earlier this year… has now been hired as an afternoon news anchor at WAND-TV in Decatur. On her Facebook page, Manko says she will be anchoring the 4pm and 5pm newscasts.
She has never explained the circumstances of her departure from WICS, but says on a Facebook post that “things work out for the best.”
A residency requirement is back in the news… but this time, it’s an issue for District 186.
School board vice-president Adam Lopez wants to clamp down harder on the district’s residency rule for administrators, saying the rule is vague about who is affected by it, and is only loosely enforced.
Interim superintendent Bob Leming says at least four administrators in the district appear to be in violation of the rule at the moment.
Lopez and others say if the district is good enough to work for, it should be good enough to live in.
Are uniforms the wave of the future for Springfield public schools?
Two more elementary schools are requesting permission to require students to wear uniforms… solid-colored shirts with dark or khaki pants.
The new Feitshans Elementary School… made up of students from the former Pleasant Hill and Wanless schools… wants to require a school logo on the shirt to establish a sense of identity in the new location.
The school board will vote on both requests next month.
Governor Pat Quinn has signed a bill to allow “fracking” in the state… with strict regulation.
Quinn signed the bill in private, without a signing ceremony, apparently because the measure remains controversial with environmentalists who think hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and natural gas from the ground will damage soil and groundwater.
One dispute related to a downtown TIF project is being patched up… and another one is breaking out.
Three Springfield aldermen are announcing their support for the use of $50,000 in TIF funds to pay for a downtown mural project. That includes Alderman Frank Edwards, who last week used the term “fluff” when discussing the project, but now says it will provide a boost to downtown’s image.
But Edwards and other aldermen are now criticizing Mayor Mike Houston, who claimed last week that the city council was draining the downtown TIF dry. The aldermen say Houston is simply way off the mark.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan is asking for yet another extension of the deadline for a possible appeal of a court order mandating that Illinois put a concealed carry law on the books.
The original order required that law to be in place by June 9th, but the U.S. Supreme Court gave Madigan until June 24th to file an appeal if one is necessary.
But since Governor Pat Quinn has not acted yet on the bill that cleared the legislature last month, Madigan is asking the High Court to stretch that further… to July 24th... to see what Quinn will do and whether an appeal would be needed after that.
Governor Pat Quinn has signed legislation that clears the way for fracking to go forward in the state… under the watchful eye of regulators.
Supporters say the bill will create jobs and revenue in the state… and allow companies to extract more needed oil and natural gas from well below the Earth’s surface.
Quinn signed the bill in private and did not stage a signing ceremony, apparently to avoid antagonizing environmentalists who say the effects of fracking on the Earth and groundwater are still unknown.
The latest pension plan to be floated before the General Assembly is coming from a group of conservative Republican lawmakers.
The GOP plan calls for state workers to be moved to a 401(k)-style plan… with defined contributions, but not necessarily defined or guaranteed benefits.
The plan is also supported by the conservative think tank Illinois Policy Institute. Executive director John Tillman, appearing live on 970 WMAY, says public sector pay and benefits are far more generous than the private sector, and taxpayers can’t afford to pay for benefits that they themselves can’t get.
Governor Pat Quinn’s challenger in next year’s Democratic primary is offering a road map that he says could break the logjam over pension reform.
Bill Daley says a pension plan isn’t getting passed because Quinn is not showing enough leadership on the issue. Daley says Quinn and another potential Democratic candidate for governor, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, should make the case that House Speaker Mike Madigan’s pension bill is constitutional.
Daley says Quinn should then threaten to veto any other plan… and pledge to earmark a portion of the savings from Madigan’s plan for education. The governor has said it’s now up to the legislative leaders to reach a deal on pensions.
Organizers of the Sangamon County Fair say they are thriving where other county fairs are struggling… because of a mix of affordability and top flight entertainment.
The Grandstand lineup is heavy on country… including stars like Trace Adkins and Little Big Town. Fair manager Kris Neuman says the emphasis on country reflects both its popularity and the comparatively low cost of booking those acts.
That lets the fair include the concerts and carnival rides as part of a single admission price. The fair opens Wednesday in New Berlin.
A proposed pension reform plan would have Illinois university employees paying more toward their pensions while receiving annual retirement-pay increases tied to inflation.
The plan would also shift employers' portion of pension payments from the state to universities and community colleges over a dozen years.
Senate President John Cullerton is expected to hold a hearing on it on Tuesday.
But most of the focus on Wednesday’s special session will be on House Speaker Mike Madigan’s pension plan, which is expected to be called again for a vote… even though it was overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate last month.
There’s still no clear path to a consensus on pension reform.
Governor Pat Quinn and legislative leaders say they’ll try again during this week's special legislative session to pass House Speaker Mike Madigan’s more stringent pension plan… even though the Senate overwhelmingly rejected Madigan’s proposal last month. The Senate prefers a plan put forward by President John Cullerton… but Madigan has refused to call Cullerton’s bill for a vote in the House.
Republicans say it’s clear that the Democrats who run the legislative and executive branches are not close to an agreement to address the growing pension crisis.
The new Superman movie “Man of Steel” could give a lift to two Illinois towns.
Metropolis in southern Illinois is considered Superman’s “official hometown.” But the town of Plano in northern Illinois is also getting a super boost. Plano was used in the movie for scenes set in Superman’s fictional boyhood home of Smallville, Kansas.
Springfield police think a professional ring of pickpockets has been working the city… stealing wallets and using the credit cards inside to rack up big purchases at local stores.
A press release from the police department says they first began receiving reports of similar crimes in August of last year. The most recent theft last week led to $8,000 in fraudulent charges. In all, police are investigating 15 such cases, totaling almost $60,000.
In many cases, a wallet was removed from a purse that was hanging on the back of a chair in a local restaurant… although sometimes the suspect used a disturbance to distract the victim and steal their billfold. Police say the credit cards were used to buy gift cards or high-end electronics.
There are multiple suspects, both male and female, of various ages and races, and police have been unable to identify . Police are asking women to keep their purses closed and secure… and ask anyone with information on the crimes to contact SPD or Crimestoppers.
Last-minute upheaval… including a change in location… did not hurt this year’s SOHO music festival, according to organizer Eric Welch.
In fact, appearing live on 970 WMAY's "Jim Leach Show," Welch says the music event last weekend apparently drew a record crowd, and may raise a record amount of money for the Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery.
SOHO had to relocate a few blocks away from its original downtown spot after the City of Springfield said it would conflict with a Civil War re-enactment at the Old State Capitol. But Welch says the success of the event in spite of the move has him thinking about trying to expand the event next year.
A group of local lawmakers are standing behind House GOP leader Tom Cross, who suggests that House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton may have ulterior motives for not wrapping up a pension reform deal.
Madigan and Cullerton have been clashing over their differing approaches to pensions, but Cross thinks they may be working together to keep anything from happening. And he speculates that the reason may have something to do with the political ambitions of Madigan's daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Local House Republicans agree that Madigan and Cullerton could get a deal passed if they wanted to. And Representative Rich Brauer says it's not unreasonable to think that Lisa Madigan's political plans might be a factor in the impasse. Both Lisa Madigan and her father deny that claim.
Illinois House Republicans are offering legislation that they say will help families cope with the high cost of higher education.
One bill would offer a thousand-dollar tax credit for families of college students with a total income under $150,000. Another bill would take the tax deductions in the state college savings program and extend them to similar private programs.
Representative Rich Brauer doesn't know how much the tax breaks would cost, but says improving access to higher ed has to be a bigger priority.
A Springfield woman has died from the serious injuries she suffered in a motorcycle crash last weekend.
48-year-old Sue Fickas died Wednesday afternoon. She had not awakened after suffering severe head injuries when the cycle she was riding on collided with a car at the corner of Stevenson and Woodward Saturday night. Police say Fickas was not wearing a helmet. The driver of the motorcycle suffered less serious injuries.
No autopsy will be conducted. The accident remains under investigation. So far, no citations have been issued.
Both Republican candidates for Sangamon County Sheriff say they wouldn’t change much about the department’s current operations.
The latest contender in the race, Wes Barr, says the department is already top-notch and he would work to maintain that and improve it where possible. Barr’s opponent, Jack Campbell, has also said that he does not see the need for significant changes in how the department is run.
Both candidates say they would like to see the office’s budget and headcount increase… but only if the county economy improves and results in additional tax revenue to fund that growth.
The latest candidate in the race for Illinois Governor says the temporary income tax increase approved two years ago has done nothing to fix the state’s fiscal problems… but he isn’t saying that tax hike should be allowed to expire.
Bill Daley announced this week that he will challenge Governor Pat Quinn in next year’s Democratic primary. Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” Daley said the tax increase shouldn’t automatically be extended… unless there is a plan on how to use the revenue to address the budget crisis.
But Daley acknowledges that “it’s hard to see” how the state would get by without that extra revenue.
Springfield’s downtown TIF district fund may be out of money.
Mayor Mike Houston told the State Journal-Register Wednesday that the city cannot even fund all the projects that it has already promised to support… even as aldermen continue to consider additional requests for TIF funds.
Houston’s comments contradict statements made by his economic development director, Mike Farmer, last month.
In a live interview on 970 WMAY on May 15th, Farmer said, quote, “we won’t commit money we can’t deliver.”
House Speaker Mike Madigan is making another attempt to get his version of pension reform through both houses of the General Assembly.
Madigan has introduced an amendment to Senate President John Cullerton's reform plan... which reportedly removes Cullerton's language and replaces it with the bill Madigan proposed. Madigan's plan easily passed the House this spring but was overwhelmingly defeated in the Senate.
A special legislative session on pensions is set for next week.
The top Republican in the Illinois House isn't convinced that House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton are really fighting over pension reform.
In fact, Tom Cross suggests the two are actually working together to block a deal. Cross says Madigan and Cullerton could strike a deal if they wanted to... and thinks the delay may have something to do with the possible gubernatorial hopes of Madigan's daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
The race for Sangamon County Sheriff is on… and, for now, all the action is on the Republican side.
Former deputy Wes Barr has kicked off his candidacy with a news conference at Madison Park Place… the site of the former John Hay Homes. Barr says that neighborhood is an example of how communities can fight back against crime.
He says if he’s elected, he wants to reinstate the sheriff’s department crime prevention bureau to help other parts of the county reclaim their streets. But Barr isn’t saying yet how he’d pay for that.
Barr will meet Undersheriff Jack Campbell in next spring’s GOP primary. Campbell has the endorsement of Sheriff Neil Williamson, who isn’t seeking re-election.
Despite Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon’s suggestion that local communities move quickly to pass their own assault weapons ban… before they lose the ability to do so… there appear to be no takers for that idea in Springfield.
The concealed carry legislation on Governor Pat Quinn’s desk would eventually prohibit home rule communities like Springfield from passing their own weapons ban, something they can do under current law.
But a check with a number of city aldermen finds there has been no discussion… and no apparent interest… in pursuing the idea here. Aldermen Doris Turner and Tim Griffin both say any such policies should be statewide… not piecemeal around the state.
Efforts to beautify downtown Springfield through public works of art have hit a snag.
Some city officials are questioning whether TIF district funds can legally be used for such projects.
Downtown Springfield, Inc. is seeking $50,000 to help pay for a series of murals on downtown building facades.
The dispute led to some sharp words among aldermen… with Ward 6’s Cory Jobe accusing some at City Hall of trying to throw a wrench into the project, which prompted Ward 1’s Frank Edwards to charge that Jobe was interested in, quote, “fluff” without asking the tough questions.
Things got personal between some Springfield Aldermen while debating how the city should go about supporting public art projects.
During Tuesday's City Council Committee of the Whole, Aldermen heard about a proposed Tax Increment Finance allotment of $50,000 for a public art project that would include large murals on the facade of several buildings around the downtown area.
Aldermen Frank Edwards asked about the legality of using TIF money for art projects, something Ward 6's Cory Jobe says is an attempt to "put a wrench" in the project.
The city's corporation counsel says there may need to be a facade easement program in place to give the city more control over what's put on walls, but Downtown Springfield Inc. said they have a design council to make those decisions.
Director of Economic Development Mike Farmer says there are ways to fund public art projects without purchasing the art. DSI says they don't care where the money comes from ... it could even be a grant ... their only objective is to enrich the downtown area to make it more vibrant and inviting for residents and visitors.
The ordinance was placed on the consent agenda for passage next week.
He’s considering a run in next year’s Democratic primary for governor… but Bill Daley is already taking hits from one of the Republican contenders for the job.
Bruce Rauner… who announced his candidacy last week… says Daley is part of the, quote, “entrenched political power structure” that has failed to fix the state’s problems.
Meanwhile, Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn, who could face Daley in the primary next spring, isn’t taking on the challenger directly. Quinn’s campaign issued a statement saying there will be plenty of time for politics… later.
Ground has been broken for the new administrative headquarters for the Central Illinois Community Blood Center.
The 27,000 square foot facility on the former Allis Chalmers site at 10th and Linton will house administrative offices, a blood typing laboratory and a “product distribution” hub. Blood donation will continue to operate out of the organization’s current building on South Seventh Street.
The $7 million building is partially funded with City of Springfield TIF funds. Construction is scheduled to be completed next year.
A Springfield school board member remains concerned about the impact on two North End neighborhoods after the closure of two elementary schools.
Scott McFarland first raised the issue months ago when the school board began discussing the plan to close Pleasant Hill and Wanless schools… and move those students to the Feitshans building. And McFarland says there are no plans yet to either occupy or sell those empty buildings.
Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” McFarland repeated his concern that those vacant buildings, sitting idle, will hurt property values and… in his words… “kill those neighborhoods.”
A congressional subcommittee hearing on rail traffic in Illinois is giving Mayor Mike Houston cause for optimism.
Houston testified before that hearing at the State Capitol… and says he was pleased that members of Congress traveled here to learn about the need for more federal funding for rail projects.
Houston says he believes members of the subcommittee showed a willingness to make rail improvements… including Springfield’s rail consolidation program… a bigger part of the federal transportation agenda.
There apparently will be a primary on the Democratic side in the race for governor.
Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley issued a press release early this morning announcing that he has formed an exploratory committee with the intent of challenging incumbent Pat Quinn next year.
Daley… the brother and son of former Chicago mayors… says Quinn’s lack of leadership is hurting the state, and says, quote, “the people of Illinois can’t wait.”
The Springfield school board now has a search firm on board to help find the district’s next superintendent… but it may take more than a year until that new hire is on the job.
Officials with School Exec Connect have recommended a thorough search that could stretch through December… and say it is likely that whoever is hired would not be available to start until the summer of 2014.
They say a faster search will dramatically shrink the pool of applicants.
The lengthy search could mean the district will have to hire a second interim superintendent in the coming school year. Current interim Bob Leming is only available through December.
A suspect has been charged with an arson fire on Springfield’s North End… but officials say there is nothing so far to connect him to a string of suspicious blazes last month in the Enos Park neighborhood.
Shane Wombles is accused of setting fire to an ex-girlfriend’s home on North 11th Street on May 31st.
City arson investigators say it appears to be an isolated incident and not related to more than a half-dozen fires that hit homes, garages and cars in that area of town earlier in the month.
SpongeBob SquarePants could still eat all the Krabby Patties he wants… but U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says the commercial breaks in the popular cartoon series should not be trying to sell fast food to kids.
Durbin and several other Democratic senators are asking the Nickelodeon networks to stop accepting advertising in kids’ shows for “unhealthy products” like fast food or sugary snacks or soft drinks.
One study says as much as two-thirds of the advertising on Nickelodeon kids’ shows are for such products.
The search firm that is poised to start a national effort to find Springfield's next school superintendent says it's in the district's best interest to use a longer, slower search process -- one which could mean the new hire won'tbe on the job until July of 2014.
Officials with School Exec Connect presented an expedited plan which could allow a new superintendent to be chosen and on the job as soon as this October, but they say that will limit the pool of potential candidates, reduce community involvement, and make it harder to find the ideal choice.
The school board is just getting started with the process of finding a replacement for Walter Milton, who stepped down as superintendent back in March. Bob Leming is currently serving as interim superintenent, but under the terms of his pension, another interim may have to be appointed to serve part of the coming school year until a permanent hire is in place.
Governor Pat Quinn says it’s now up to the top two Democrats in the legislature to reach agreement and pass some kind of comprehensive pension reform.
Quinn met Monday with both House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton… and says now the fate of pension reform is in their hands. Quinn says he has put forward ideas and suggestions, but he can only act on what the legislature sends him.
The governor is urging the legislative leaders to take their cue from the teamwork and cooperation that has propelled the Chicago Blackhawks into the Stanley Cup Finals.
Authorities have made an arrest in connection with one of a series of fires last month in the Enos Park neighborhood… but say this one does not appear to be connected to more than a half-dozen other blazes in the same area at roughly the same time.
Officials had been looking for possible connections among a number of fires, which struck homes, garages and vehicles over a 16-day span in May.
But authorities say this particular fire on May 31st appears to be an isolated case of revenge… as the suspect is accused of torching his ex-girlfriend’s home on North 11th Street. They say that so far, there’s nothing to link that fire to the others.
SpongeBob SquarePants would need to find some new advertisers… if U.S. Senator Dick Durbin has his way.
Durbin and several other Democratic senators are calling on the Nickelodeon cable networks to stop accepting advertising for “unhealthy” products aimed at children. A study finds that more than two-thirds of the ads on Nickelodeon channels were for fast food, sugary cereals or other sweet snacks.
Durbin says Disney is now refusing such ads for all of its media platforms… including TV and the Internet… and says Nick should follow suit.
A top state official is recommending that local communities move quickly to pass their own assault weapons bans… before they lose the ability to do so.
Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon says the pending concealed-carry legislation on Governor Pat Quinn’s desk could block future attempts to ban certain types of weapons at the local level, so she’s suggesting that cities and counties act now while they still can.
Quinn has not indicated yet whether he will sign the bill, which was passed on the last day of the legislative session.
Governor Pat Quinn and House Speaker Mike Madigan will finally sit down today to discuss the state’s unresolved pension crisis.
Quinn had tried to get Madigan into a meeting on the subject last week, but Madigan was out of town and… according to Quinn… couldn’t call in to the meeting because the Speaker doesn’t have a cell phone.
Today’s meeting is the latest effort to find some negotiating room after lawmakers failed to reach agreement on a pension reform plan last month.
The governor has called a special session for June 19th in another effort to hammer out a deal.
He wants to focus on education, Illinois’ business climate, term limits and pension reform in his run for governor.
Business man Bruce Rauner says he is ready for the job, and being a political outsider won’t hurt his chances. The wealthy business man has already raised a significant amount of money and says he can raise more.
He also says the early endorsement of his candidacy from Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman shows how his run for governor will be focused on the business climate.
Rauner will run in support of term limits for elected office and he also says he supports “Right to Work” legislation to make public sector union membership optional.L
The Illinois Policy institute says that the nearly $100 billion pension obligation must be addressed in a meaningful way if Illinois wants to rebound from a week of two credit downgrades in just a matter of days.
Ted Debrowski with the IPI says that lawmakers should look at setting up a 401(K)-style retirement plan for state works that resembles what the private sector has.
That would give state workers more control over their retirement and would not have state employees relying on politicians to fund their pensions.
Debrowski says there’s a danger in how the general assembly acts.
If they fail to pass meaningful pension reform that could lead to more downgrades in the future.
It’s a question about Verizon phone records being monitored by the Federal Government that will have to be answered behind closed doors.
During a finance committee hearing for the Department of Justice Thursday, Senator Mark Kirk asked Attorney General Eric Holder if the Executive Branch has abused the separation of powers by monitoring phone records of members of congress and those serving in the legislative branch.
Holder didn’t provide any assurance and said he would be more comfortable answering that question in a quote “appropriate setting.”
Kirk told Holder the answer should have been “the executive branch stayed within its lanes” and didn’t challenge the separation of powers.
The committee chair said a classified briefing should be set up to address the concerns.
Senator Dick Durbin says it’s disturbing, but shouldn’t be surprising when it comes to the reports of the National Security Administration getting phone records from Verizon.
The Senior Senator from Illinois says he has been trying for years to reform provisions of the Patriot Act to only allow secret collection of information from those who are connected spies or people plotting to attack the US, but has failed to come through with those reforms.
Durbin says quote “the cloak has been lifted” and it’s time to have the important debate about privacy in the face of keeping American safe.
It was reported and since confirmed that a secret court order extended the NSA’s access to Verizon records.
The Senate Intelligence Committee says the practice has been going on for years.
The City of Springfield is working to shore up more money for rail consolidation, including an application for $14.8 million in US Department of Transportation grant money for a rail underpass.
The city, alongside The Illinois Department of Transportation and Sangamon County, announced the underpass plan for Carpenter Street as something that will allow for safer traffic flow for everything from regular traffic to those needing emergency medical attention from area hospitals.
Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says the city’s plan to get an engineering study prepared for rail consolidation will help with the US DOT grant.
Mayor Mike Houston says the city will have to secure some property in order to move forward with the planned 10th Street rail consolidation efforts, but Springfield is also still in litigation over property to extend 11th street.
The city has taken CONTECH to court to acquire land for the extension.
Houston says there have been disagreements about the value of the property and the city is seeking to use eminent domain to take over the property for the extension.
Houston says the 11th Street extension will open up for more traffic to Lincoln Land Community College and the University of Illinois Springfield.
There's no indication when the a decision on the case will be made.
Illinois AMVETS is holding a town hall meeting tonight for veterans looking for information on filing VA claims and other benefits.
The event at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Hotel and Conference Center is open to all vets who are looking for information on employment services, the post 9-11 GI Bill and new and re-opened claims.
Veteran Service Officer George Sebastian says there won’t be any actual files processed, but there will be plenty of information for vets, so they should bring a notebook.
The event begins at 6 tonight and Sebastian says AMVETS will be there until the last person is served.
Developers in the historic Enos Park Neighborhood have been approved for just over $80,000 in Tax Increment Finance money to purchase an old tavern and turn it into a retail salvage shop that will specialize in vintage housing hardware like doorknobs, colorful windows and other things.
Michelle Higginbotham with the Enos Park Neighborhood Association says the goal is to also have the old tavern set up as a meeting place for community functions.
Aldermen approved the TIF allotment Tuesday on emergency passage.
The city of Springfield is in line to get $8.65 million dollars in state money for engineering the 10th street rail consolidation efforts for high speed rail.
Aldermen passed an ordinance entering into an intergovernmental agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation and Sangamon County for the state funds.
That's only half the money that would be needed for the engineering study. Before emergency passage Tuesday, Aldermen expressed urgency for the federal government to work on providing funds for the other half of the engineering study.
Mayor Mike Houston says the eventual study will provide the necessary frame work for when the Federal Government has money available to fund parts of the more than $300 million project.
The Kidzeum of Health and Science has $675,000 of Tax Increment Finance money coming from the City of Springfield ... that is if the state of Illinois makes good on a build Illinois grant that just passed the Illinois General Assembly and awaits Governor Quinn's desk.
Conceptual design of Kidzeum
A last minute amendment to the ordinance that received support from all but one aldermen would make the TIF money available to the children's museum only if an expected $1 million grant from the state makes it to Kidzeum.
Another amendment from Aldermen Sam Cahnman to increase the TIF by $129,000 failed to get enough support.
The Kidzeum is expected to develop a building on East Adams in Downtown Springfield for a children's museum focusing on health and science.
Like a store that opens for business then holds a grand opening, State Senator Kirk Dillard isn't being coy about his political plans.
He told WMAY's Greg Bishop today he is making a Republican run for Governor, ahead of an official announcement in the next few weeks.
Dillard says in his most recent run for Governor, his status as a suburban Chicago lawmaker won't be a detriment downstate, where he ran strong in Central Illinois and the metro-east in his narrow defeat in the 2010 GOP governor's race.
It could be two weeks but after that there’ll be new pavement on some select streets throughout Springfield.
The city says that the Office of Public Works will begin milling and resurfacing Old Jacksonville Road between Chatham Road and Monroe Street beginning today.
Meanwhile, construction on Liberty Street between Constitution Drive and Robbins Road, Lindbergh Boulevard between Freedom Drive and Robbins Road, and Freedom Drive from Constitution Drive to Lindbergh Boulevard will begin Thursday.
The city asks that motorists drive with caution and to avoid the area during heavy traffic times.
Everyone knows someone buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery, whether it’s Abraham Lincoln or a family member and that’s what makes an unveiling of a new entrance Tuesday even more special.
The Oak Ridge Cemetery Foundation held a ceremony Tuesday morning to showcase the replica gate on Monument Avenue.
The new gate is a near replica of the original gate at the now blocked off 3rd Street entrance. Even the same company that forged the original gate had a hand in the new gate.
The Oak Ridge Cemetery Foundation still has plans to restore the 3rd Street entrance gate before a planned Lincoln Funeral Procession Reenactment in 2015. Restoration of the old gate could cost upwards to $350,000.
Mayor Mike Houston says that will have to be raised privately because Government just doens't have the money to support something that size.
Illinois has been downgraded again, this time by the ratings agency Fitch.
The lowering from "A" to "A-" is because of the "ongoing inability of the state to address its large and growing unfunded pension liability" and in particular the state's inability to pass pension reform during the regular legislative session that ended Friday.
Fitch is the first ratings agency respond to the most recent legislative session.
Other ratings agency have warned that a downgrade could be coming.
A seven member board created by the concealed carry law passed by lawmakers last week is unjustly exempted from the Open Meetings and Freedom of Information Acts, according to the Illinois Press Association.
The law, which Governor Pat Quinn has yet to sign, exempts the group of governor appointed board members from publicizing meetings.
There would be monthly reports to the governor, but identifying information would be exempt.
Gun rights advocates say the secretive board could lead to individuals not knowing why they are being denied a permit.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan has asked for more time from the US Court of Appeals so that Quinn can continue reviewing the law.
The Springfield School Board is discussing residency after a board member raised the issue of District 186 Administrators living outside the district boundaries.
Board Vice President Adam Lopez says that he'd like the incoming human resources director to check the status of some administrator's residency and clarify the policy of people holding certain positions having to live within the district's boundaries.
Board members say that there may be some violations from some holding administrative positions.
The District 186 board also took a step toward finding a new superintendent, tabbing a Suburban Chicago firm to search for a new district chief.
School Exec Connect has been awarded a $17,500 contract as the lowest bidder among five competitors.
The board reconvenes Monday to further discuss the search.
The third employee tied to the leaks of test score from Capital College Preparatory Academy will stay with the district.
Jennifer Gilson will move from a guidance counselor post to a yet to be determined classroom teacher post. Two others tied to the leaks have resigned.
Board members Scott McFarland and Judy Johnson voted against the reassignment.
Interim Superintendent Bob Leming recommended the shift, noting that termination would bring an extended legal process.
The leak of test scores was investigated by police but led to no criminal charges.
Springfield Aldermen will consider an ordinance giving Kidzeum $675,000 in downtown TIF money.
The ordinance is on the debate agenda for this evening but some the planned location on East Adams is not ideal for the children's museum because of Parking.
One Aldermen, Ward 10's Steve Dove, says he has major concerns about the parking situation on that stretch of street during times the Farmers Market is open and when there are other events in the area.
Springfield police are investigating the death of a city woman as a homicide. The coroner's office identifies the victim as 47-year-old Rebecca Cleaton. Her body was found Saturday morning in the 900 block of North Ninth. Officials aren't saying how she died, because of the ongoing investigation. That area of North Ninth has seen other violent crimes in recent months... and police are not ruling out a possible connection.
The National Weather Service confirms that it was an EF-2 tornado that ripped the roof off of Gillespie High School in Macoupin County... and heavily damaged a number of other buildings Friday night. Winds from the storm were estimated at 115 miles per hour. It was the second tornado in two weeks to hit Macoupin County. A twister on May 20th damaged a number of buildings in Mount Olive.
Illinois Republicans have a new leader. Jack Dorgan was chosen on the first ballot to become the new state party chairman. Dorgan is a lobbyist and served for years as a legislative aide and campaign coordinator. He says it's his goal to reunite his party and make it competitive with Democrats in statewide and legislative races.
Springfield police are investigating a death that Deputy Chief Cliff Buscher says may be suspicious.
Few details were immediately available, other than that the body was found at a home on North 9th Street between Carpenter and North Grand. Detectives were trying to determine how the victim died and the underlying circumstances.
Stay with 970 WMAY for updates on this developing story.
Relief is finally in sight after a week of wet and often violent weather.
Central Illinois rode out another round of strong storms Friday night, with high winds and a possible tornado causing more damage south of Springfield. Gillespie High School sustained heavy damage, with the roof being torn off the gymnasium. The high winds once again brought down trees and large limbs in southern Sangamon County, causing some property damage.
And very heavy rains caused flash floods that closed a number of area roads temporarily. A flood warning was issued for southwestern Sangamon County through midday Saturday, and a flash flood watch continued through Saturday evening for most of Central Illinois.
The legislative session that ended Friday night in Springfield will be remembered for history made… and opportunities missed. Lawmakers finally passed a compromise concealed carry bill that could end Illinois’s longtime status as the only state in the nation that does not allow citizens to carry concealed firearms. The bill passed both the House and the Senate Friday. Governor Pat Quinn hasn’t said yet if he will sign it.
But lawmakers adjourned without taking significant action on pension reform… despite statements from Democrats and Republicans alike that it was the top priority of the spring session. And supporters of same-sex marriage are expressing deep disappointment after the measure was not called for a final vote. The sponsor says some lawmakers felt they couldn’t vote for it now… but might be able to during the fall veto session.
The Democratic majority in the legislature did approve a budget… one that Republicans criticized as irresponsible. And lawmakers passed a bill to allow, and regulate, the practice of “fracking.” But a bill to put a new casino in Chicago and four other cities died when talks fell apart at the last minute.
Gun rights supporters are celebrating a couple of big wins at the Capitol. Lawmakers approved a concealed carry bill Friday… one which sets a “shall issue” standard for State Police, but still allows local law enforcement to object to concealed carry permits. The law allows some local regulation of guns, but puts limits on those regulations. That bill now goes to Governor Pat Quinn.
And the Illinois Senate narrowly rejected a bill that would have banned the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Some parents of the Newtown school shooting victims had lobbied in support of the bill… but it lost on a vote of 28 in favor, 31 against. Democratic State Senator Dan Kotowski, who sponsored the bill, expressed frustration that pro-gun groups had successfully opposed the bill, at one point declaring, "Screw the gun industry."