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October 19, 2014, 11:25 pm
970 WMAY News Archives for 2014-08

Long-Awaited Fracking Rules Released


Long-awaited new rules on fracking have been submitted by state officials. 

 

The updated rules from the Department of Natural Resources are intended to provide greater environmental protection and more transparency for the public when companies use hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and natural gas from far below the Earth’s surface. 

 

The proposed rules must still go through a public comment period of at least 45 days.  Oil and gas companies have been angry about lengthy delays in getting those rules in place.

 

Attorney General Investigating Alleged Abuse Of Buffet Restaurant Workers


That Chinese buffet restaurant you like might be serving up some violations of labor laws. 

 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is investigating widespread complaints that immigrant workers at those buffet places are being subjected to long hours with no breaks, no overtime pay, and substandard living conditions. 

 

Madigan isn’t naming any specific establishments yet, but says some of those under scrutiny are in Central Illinois.

Dana-Thomas House Hit By Flooding; Staff Still Assessing Damage


Thursday’s torrential rains have caused some damage at the historic Dana-Thomas House. 

 

The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home was closed to visitors Friday after flooding that affected the basement of the structure… where the home’s bowling alley and billiards room are located. 

 

State historic preservation officials say fast action by staffers and cleaning crews minimized the damage… but it’s unclear yet if any of the floors or other items will need restoration work.

 

It's unclear when the home will reopen.  Anyone hopnig to visit this weekend should call ahead at (217) 782-6776 for updates.

Heavy Rain Causes Flooding Through Springfield Area


It’s becoming increasingly common in Springfield… an intense downpour followed by widespread flooding.

 

Most of the waters have receded now, but getting around the city Thursday night proved to be enormously challenging after two-and-a-half inches of rain fell in about an hour. Numerous streets and viaducts were flooded… several cars were stranded in water up to their windows on South Sixth Street, just south of the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

 

The Hoogland and other downtown buildings also experienced flooding as storm sewers were overwhelmed. And many people are still trying to get water out of their basements this morning.

State Retirees Won't Pay Health Insurance Premiums Beginning October


State government retirees won’t have health insurance premiums deducted from their pension checks, starting October 1st.

 

A Sangamon County judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state from taking that money… but the ruling came down too late to add the money back into September checks.

 

The state has been collecting those premiums since last year and will apparently have to refund the money with interest… although it’s not clear how or when that will happen.

 

Judge Steven Nardulli’s ruling is based on the recent Illinois Supreme Court decision which found that free or subsidized health care benefits for public sector retirees are protected under the state constitution.

Student Immunization Deadline Today


Today is the day… students in District 186 must have proof that they have all their required vaccinations by the end of the day, or they won’t be allowed to return to class on Tuesday, after the holiday weekend.

 

District officials did not have an updated count Thursday of how many students still haven’t turned in that paperwork, but say the number is dropping every day.

 

Sangamon County public health officials say they were told earlier in the week that as many as 800 students didn’t have the paperwork on file at that time.

 

The health department held a vaccination clinic Thursday… and another one, by appointment only, is planned for today at SIU Healthcare. To schedule an appointment, call 545-8000.

Higgins Expected to Challenge McMenamin in Ward 7 Race


One of the Springfield aldermanic races next spring could have a familiar feel.

 

As 970 WMAY News was the first to report, Maldaner’s Restaurant owner Michael Higgins is seeking a rematch against Ward 7 Alderman Joe McMenamin.

 

McMenamin beat Higgins and another challenger in a three-way race in 2011.

 

Higgins plans a formal campaign announcement in September. McMenamin is also expected to seek re-election next year.

Extensive Flooding Hits Springfield


Another torrential rainstorm has led to widespread flooding across the Springfield area.

 

Several cars were stranded up to their windows in standing water on South Sixth Street, just south of the Hoogland Center for the Arts.  Numerous other main roads and side streets were also left impassable from the floodwaters. Most viaducts were closed, and a flash flood warning was issued into early Friday morning.

 

Motorists are reminded to use extreme caution, especially in low-lying areas and near streams and ditches.  Never drive into standing water, which can be deceptively deep.

Clinics Scheduled As Deadline Looms For Student Vaccinations


Friday is the deadline for District 186 parents to show proof that their children have the required vaccinations… or those kids won’t be allowed back in class after the Labor Day weekend. 

 

As of earlier this week, Sangamon County health officials say they were told as many as 800 students still lacked the shots or documentation. 

 

The Sangamon County Public Health Department scheduled a special immunization clinic for Thursday [running until 6pm] to provide those last-minute shots so that kids won’t miss any classes. Another clinic is planned at SIU Healthcare on Friday.

 

New Public Smoking Crackdowns Underway


More efforts are underway to clamp down on second-hand smoke… even in outdoor or almost-outdoor spaces.  S

 

everal Springfield parks have designated “kid-friendly park zones” where people are asked not to smoke outdoors near where kids are playing.  But there is no specific penalty for ignoring the request. 

 

Meanwhile, state regulators are considering new restrictions on smoking in the beer garden or patio areas of bars.  Sangamon County public health director Jim Stone says any rules should include a precise definition of what constitutes a beer garden.

 

Supporters Of Sherman Cop Cry Foul


Supporters of a Sherman police officer say the veteran cop is being unfairly targeted for speaking out against a police union contract. 

 

Officer Phil Brown is facing termination over several alleged infractions, including speeding in his squad car and putting military decals commemorating his Naval service on his police vehicle.  But Brown’s union rep and others say the village has ignored normal disciplinary procedures and is simply retaliating against him. 

 

A state Labor Relations Board hearing is set for next week.

Higgins Seeks Rematch In Ward 7


It looks like a rematch in one Springfield ward. 

 

Maldaner’s Restaurant owner Michael Higgins is planning to run again for Ward 7 Alderman.  Higgins lost to Joe McMenamin in a three-man race in 2011. 

 

McMenamin is expected to run for re-election next year.  Higgins plans a formal campaign announcement next week.

Title Loan Companies Fined By State


Several Springfield consumer credit companies have been fined by the state for violating rules that cover who can get such loans. 

 

Lenders including Illinois Title Loans and Title Max were cited for giving loans to people who didn’t have enough income to cover them… or who had recently obtained other title-backed loans. 

 

The fines range from $1,000 to $7,000.

Report: Memorial Medical Center Permanent Level 1 Trauma Center


Memorial Medical Center is slated to become the permanent Level 1 trauma center for Central Illinois… ending a longstanding arrangement in which that designation alternated between Memorial and St. John’s Hospital.

 

The State Journal-Register reports the decision was made by the SIU School of Medicine… in part because of the logistics involved in retraining staff on the details of Level 1 trauma status each year when the designation switches from one hospital to the other.

 

St. John’s issued a statement saying it has not received any formal notification of the decision… but does not indicate whether it plans to fight the change.

SPD Chief Winslow: Officers Treat Everyone Equally


Springfield’s police chief concedes that some parts of the community view his department as unfair and biased toward certain groups.

 

But Kenny Winslow insists the department works hard to treat everyone equally. He says data that shows minorities are disproportionately targeted for traffic stops and searches doesn’t tell the whole story.

 

And he urges anyone with a specific complaint about unfair treatment by a Springfield cop to file an internal affairs complaint.

 

Winslow will address an NAACP town hall meeting about police relations with the community next Thursday night at Southeast High School.

Downtown Springfield Inc. Facing $50,000 Shortfall


The organization that tries to help downtown Springfield businesses is now in need of some help of its own.

 

Downtown Springfield, Inc. is facing a $50,000 shortfall after several recent big events fell far short of expectations.

 

The State Journal-Register reports last weekend’s Old Capitol Blues and BBQ had dramatically reduced crowds because of the very hot temperatures.

 

DSI plans a fundraiser in September in hopes of raising enough money to make ends meet until the organization’s annual meeting and banquet in January.

Illinois Supreme Court Building Reopens in Springfield


The Illinois Supreme Court is back home in Springfield.

 

The high court’s historic building across from the State Capitol re-opened Wednesday… after a 14-month, $16 million renovation project.

 

The project included restoration and renovation of the 108-year-old building… including upgrades to the climate control systems and technology to allow high-def transmissions of Supreme Court arguments.

 

The justices met in Chicago during the renovations, but will conduct their new term in Springfield, starting September 8th.

Judge Orders Parsons to Produce Documents or Faces Jail Time


The founder of bankrupt THR and Associates has been ordered to produce more documents about his finances… or face possible jail time.

 

Jeff Parsons appeared in federal court Wednesday… and was given a stern warning by Judge Sue Myerscough to turn over the documents by September 10th.

 

Former THR employees are suing for millions of dollars in overtime pay and penalties… and say Parsons may be holding on to millions in assets.

IDOT Brings Out The Dead In Labor Day Holiday DUI Campaign


If constant reminders from police don’t convince you not to drink and drive, maybe zombies will do the trick.

 

The Illinois Department of Transportation is trying a new approach to its public service announcements against DUI over the upcoming holiday weekend… using digital and social media for ads based on the hit show “The Walking Dead.”

 

Actor Michael Rooker, who played Merle on the hit series, is featured in the ads… called “The Driving Dead.”

 

Heavy police patrols will also be part of the highway safety push over the Labor Day holiday.

Springfield Police Chief Acknowledges Perception Problem In Some Parts Of Community


Springfield’s police chief acknowledges that some parts of the community don’t have faith that his officers treat everyone equally and fairly.  But Chief Kenny Winslow says that’s a perception he’s working hard to correct. 

 

Appearing live on the 970 WMAY News Feed, Winslow said traffic stop data that suggests minorities are disproportionately targeted don’t tell the whole story… and he encourages anyone who thinks they’ve been harassed by a cop to contact a supervisor or internal affairs.

 

Study Says Inspector General Post Ineffective Unless Truly Independent


If Springfield decides to revive its inspector general position, a watchdog group says it needs to have some teeth. 

 

970 WMAY’s watchdog partner, the Better Government Association, has been studying inspectors general in the Chicago area… and finds many of them are hampered by limits to their scope and authority. 

 

BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw says a local inspector general has to have the freedom to investigate every aspect of city government… including the mayor and aldermen… without interference.

Vallas: Rauner Tax Plan Would Cost Local Schools Millions


Governor Pat Quinn’s running mate says Republican Bruce Rauner’s tax plan would slash tens of millions of dollars from Sangamon County schools. 

 

Rauner has proposed rolling back the state’s income tax rate over a period of several years, ultimately returning to the original three-percent rate.  Quinn wants to keep it at its current level of five-percent. 

 

Lieutenant Governor hopeful Paul Vallas says Rauner’s plan would mean $50 million a year less for Sangamon County schools than Quinn’s plan… including a $30 million reduction for Springfield District 186.

 

More Police, Civilian Security On Hand At Lanphier After Gun Incident


A bigger police presence at Lanphier High School is one of several adjustments to security being made after a student was arrested with a loaded gun Tuesday. 

 

District 186 says two additional civilian security guards were also on hand at Lanphier a day after that incident, which remains under investigation.

 

Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow says there’s always a balancing act between security and allowing schools to be accessible to the public they serve.  And he says cost must also be factored into security decisions.

 

State Anti-DUI Campaign To Have ''Walking Dead' Theme


It’s a message you’ve heard for years, but state and local officials hope a new way of delivering it will improve its impact. 

 

IDOT and local law enforcement agencies are again urging people not to drink and drive over the upcoming holiday weekend… and hope a “Walking Dead”-themed PSA campaign on digital and social media will send that message to the demographic groups most likely to be impaired behind the wheel. 

 

Extra patrols are also planned throughout the Labor Day weekend.

Enhanced Security at Lanphier Day After Student Arrested With Gun


Security will be tighter today at Lanphier High School, one day after a 16-year-old student was arrested for bringing a loaded gun to the school.

 

District 186 Superintendent Jennifer Gill says the student showed the weapon to several others… but did not threaten those students with it.

 

A student reported the gun to school officials, who in turn notified police.

 

Springfield police say the student told them he had the gun for “protection.”

 

The student was arrested “without incident” and was taken to the Sangamon County Juvenile Detention Center.

Teamsters Say Fired IDOT Employees Improperly Targeted


The Teamsters say 58 IDOT employees who have been targeted for layoffs because they got their jobs through improper political channels should stay on the job.

 

The State Journal-Register reports the union is challenging the layoffs, saying the workers are being punished for the improper conduct of higher-ups.

 

55 of the 58 workers are members of the union… and, of them, 21 are based in Sangamon County, including the daughter of former local Democratic Party chair Todd Renfrow.

Conflict Amid Springfield City Council On How to Hire New Coordinator


There’s some conflict on the Springfield City Council over the hiring of a new council coordinator. Joe Davis… who has held the post for two decades… is set to retire early next year.

 

Alderman Frank Edwards, who chaired Tuesday’s council committee of the whole meeting, appointed a special committee to oversee the selection of a replacement.

 

But Alderman Joe McMenamin… who was not chosen to serve on that committee… is objecting. He wants to retain Davis on a contractual basis until after a new city council is elected next spring… and then let them choose Davis’s successor.

Mayor Houston's Medical Pot Tax Idea Extinguished


Mayor Mike Houston’s idea to generate revenue through a special tax on medical marijuana sales appears to be fizzling.

 

Earlier this month, Houston suggested the city could raise money by using its home rule power to assess an additional tax on top of the one-percent sales tax imposed on the purchase of medication.

 

But a pro-marijuana activist and the state Department of Revenue both say such a tax would not be permitted under state law.

 

However, the city would get the proceeds from the one-percent sales tax if a medical marijuana business locates within the city limits.

Springfield's Quaker Steak and Lube Closes Abruptly


There’s still no clear indication about why a Springfield restaurant closed its doors without warning this week.

 

Quaker Steak and Lube was open on Monday, but stopped operations Tuesday.

 

The restaurant known for its chicken wings opened next to Scheels in October of 2011.

 

An initial statement from the restaurant chain offered no reason for the closure, but subsequent statements mentioned the harsh winter, the economy, and the failure of a planned outlet mall to open on schedule.

Scheels Donation to Kidzeum will Fund Kidz Fit Klub


Scheels is giving a big boost to the planned Kidzeum in downtown Springfield.

 

A $100,000 donation will fund a “Kidz Fit Klub” inside the proposed children’s museum.

 

Exhibits will include an interactive agility and fitness display to teach kids how and why people exercise.

 

The Kidzeum… with its focus on health and science… has now raised more than $5 million as it works toward a scheduled opening next year.

Lanphier Student Detained For Possession Of Gun


A Lanphier High School student has been detained by police after it was determined that the student was carrying a gun. 

 

The unidentified student reportedly displayed the gun to several students, but did not threaten the students with the weapon, according to Superintendent Jennifer Gill.  A student reported the incident to school officials, who notified police.

 

Word of the incident was relayed to parents through an automated phone call from District 186.  The statement says the matter was resolved "without incident."

 

The district says it is working with Springfield police on additional security measures to ensure student safety.  The incident remains under investigation.

Houston's Medical Marijuana Tax Idea Goes Up In Smoke


Mayor Mike Houston’s idea of generating revenue by taxing medical marijuana sales in Springfield may be going up in smoke. 

 

Earlier this month Houston told 970 WMAY that he envisioned using home rule authority to assess an additional tax on medical pot. That would be on top of the sales tax that is already applied to drug sales.

 

But the state department of revenue says although that one-percent sales tax would go to the city, the medical marijuana law would prohibit any additional city tax on those transactions.

 

Libertarian Candidate For Governor Wants Access To Debates


He’s officially on the ballot… and now he wants into the debates. 

 

Libertarian candidate for governor Chad Grimm says he deserves the same opportunity to take part in gubernatorial debates as major party contenders Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner.  Butappearing live on 970 WMAY's "Bishop On Air," Grimm said his requests have not been answered. 

 

Grimm and his party were allowed on the ballot last week after collecting thousands of valid petition signatures.

 

Adlai Stevenson Exhibit Coming To Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum


Work is underway to create a new exhibit at the Lincoln Presidential Library… spotlighting former Illinois governor and two-time presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson the Second. 

 

The exhibit will also focus on the Stevenson family political legacy… from former U.S. vice-president Adlai Stevenson the First to former U.S. Senator Adlai the Third.

 

The Stevenson family donated a number of items for use in that exhibit, but there’s no word yet on when it might open.

 

Bell Skeptical Of Scherer's Plan To Cut Waste


The challenger in the 96th House District wants more details about what kind of “waste” his opponent plans to cut to balance the state budget. 

 

Democratic Representative Sue Scherer said last week that she could make up billions of dollars in revenue by cutting waste from the budget, but did not say exactly where.  Republican opponent Mike Bell says he would start cutting with Medicaid, but agreed more cuts than that would be needed. 

 

Bell wants three debates with Scherer, but she has so far not responded directly to the request.

 

Shooting Victim Expected To Recover


Springfield police are investigating a shooting that sent a man to the hospital early Tuesday. 

 

The victim was shot in the chest… but is expected to recover.  Police say he walked into the St. John’s ER for treatment shortly after he was shot. 

 

That shooting took place in the 2700 block of South Seventh Street.  There was no immediate information on a suspect or possible motive.

 

County: Avoid Woodside Road During Construction


Sangamon County is recommending that drivers steer clear of Woodside Road for a while. 

 

A big construction project there is tying up traffic, so the sheriff’s department recommends avoiding Woodside between Iron Bridge Road and Route 4.  The project is expected to last for one to two weeks on Woodside, and another one to two weeks on Iron Bridge. 

 

The project is also reportedly causing some delays on Chatham Road, too.

Quaker Steak and Lube Closes Abruptly


It was supposed to be one of the original anchor points for the Legacy Pointe development at the south end of Springfield.  But after less than three years, Quaker Steak and Lube has abruptly closed down. 

 

No immediate explanation was given for the closure… and there’s no indication of any plans to re-open the restaurant, which started up in October of 2011.

Another Hot Day Before Some Relief Later This Week


One more day in the oven… before we finally start to see a little relief.

 

An excessive heat warning remains in effect through seven o’clock tonight… with heat index readings against expected to be up near 110 degrees.

 

A registered nurse at Memorial Medical Center’s Express Care says it’s important to drink plenty of water or Gatorade during the high heat… but avoid booze or caffeine, which can actually worsen the effects of heat on you.

 

Slightly more moderate temperatures are expected for Wednesday and the rest of the week.

Kincaid Mayor Resigns, Village Trustees Appoint Citizen Until Elections


A long saga involving Kincaid’s mayor has come to an end.

 

Village trustees accepted Doug Thomas’s resignation Monday night, months after he was arrested on multiple criminal charges.

 

The board appointed Kincaid resident David Oller to serve until new village elections can be held next spring.

 

Thomas was in his third term as mayor… but is currently facing charges ranging from official misconduct to possession of controlled substances to violating an order of protection.

Report: Former Teacher Sentenced to 7 Years for Fondling Boy


A former District 186 teacher has been sentenced to seven years in prison after admitting that he fondled a young boy in his home more than a decade ago.

 

59-year-old Steven Battles had taught at several Springfield schools over a 17-year career.

 

The Illinois Times reports Battles had been accused of inappropriate behavior with students at times before he was fired in 2009. The victim in this case was a friend of his children.

SH-G Mourns Loss of Veteran Teacher Steven Elliott


Students and staff at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School are mourning the death of a popular veteran teacher.

 

Authorities believe Steve Elliott committed suicide over the weekend.

 

His body was found at the cemetery in Chatham where Elliott’s son was laid to rest after his death in a car crash eight years ago.

 

Elliott had taught math at SH-G for 25 years.

Sangamon County Will Continue to Deploy M-RAP in Dangerous Situations


Sangamon County’s mine-resistant armor-protected police vehicle may get used more quickly in the future in dangerous situations involving gunmen, according to Undersheriff Jack Campbell.

 

The use of such military surplus equipment by civilian police has come under fire in recent days, but Campbell says the M-RAP showed its value when it was used to successfully end an armed standoff earlier this summer.

 

Campbell says he hadn’t planned to use the huge vehicle until another, smaller armored truck broke down… but now says he would absolutely have it on hand any time police or bystanders are threatened by someone with a gun.

NJ Gov. Christie Campaign for Rauner in Chicago


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says Illinois Democrats will pull out all the stops in their effort to defeat Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner.

 

While campaigning for Rauner in Chicago Monday, Christie pointed to the fact that the right-leaning Libertarian candidate for governor was certified to appear on the ballot, but a left-leaning Green Party candidate was not.

 

He also noted that Illinois will experiment with same-day voter registration on Election Day, and expressed doubt that the timing was just coincidental.

 

Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden appeared Monday at a Chicago fundraiser for Gov. Pat Quinn.

Mortar Round Explosion At Recycling Plant Kills Two Workers


The explosion at a metal recycling plant in Granite City was apparently caused by a live mortar round.

 

Two workers at Totall Metal Recycling were killed in that explosion Monday morning.

 

The company handles a variety of different scrap metals… and also has a recycling contract with the U.S. military.

Excessive Heat Warning Remains In Effect


Relief from the heat is in sight… but still in the distance.  An excessive heat warning is in effect until 7pm Tuesday.  

 

The City of Springfield has made several city buildings available as cooling centers…Municipal Center East is open 24 hours a day, while Municipal Center West and Lincoln Library are open during regular hours.  State Department of Human Services offices are also available as a cooling center during normal hours of operation.

 

In weather like this, a cold soda… or beer… probably sounds pretty good.  But one medical expert advises against it.  Registered nurse Dennis Danner of Memorial Medical Center Express Care says caffeine and booze will deplete… not replenish… the fluids and nutrients your body needs. 

 

He says Express Care has been seeing several patients a day with heat-related symptoms, mostly those who work outdoors.

Campbell Defends Use Of Military-Style Equipment By Civilian Police


If you’re worried about too much military hardware in the hands of police, Sangamon County Undersheriff Jack Campbell has a simple message for you… have a little faith and trust in your cops. 

 

Campbell says local agencies are using the equipment sensibly and aren’t going overboard.  Several members of Congress are second-guessing the growing amount of military weapons and vehicles being turned over to civilian law enforcement, but Campbell says their concerns are misplaced.

 

Appearing live on 970 WMAY's "Jim Leach Show," Campbell noted that the county used a massive armored vehicle this summer to bring a quick end to an armed standoff at a mobile home park.  Campbell says he hadn’t planned to bring the “M-RAP” out and only did so when another armored vehicle broke down. But he says now, he would deploy it immediately to resolve tense situations with armed suspects.

Langfelder Target Of Phony Twitter Campaign


Springfield mayoral candidate Jim Langfelder has gotten a crash course in campaigning in the age of social media. 

 

Langfelder had to ask Twitter to take down a fake account that appeared to be impersonating him.  He tells 970 WMAY’s “Bishop On Air” that Twitter agreed the fake account was trying to mislead people and took it down. 

 

So far, Langfelder says he doesn’t know who was behind the phony postings.

Quinn Vetoes Uber Regulations


Governor Pat Quinn has vetoed a bill that would have imposed new regulations on ride-sharing services like Uber.

 

That Chicago-based company had threatened to leave the state if Quinn had allowed the regulations to go forward.  Supporters say the proposed rules would have enhanced safety by requiring Uber drivers to submit to many of the same regulations that are currently applied to taxicab drivers.

 

Quinn issued a statement saying such regulations are usually left to local authorities, rather than being imposed in a "one-size-fits-all" approach at the state level.

Excessive Heat Warning for Listening Area, Heat Index Up To 115


The heat wave gripping Central Illinois isn’t letting go. An excessive heat warning has been issued for the 970 WMAY listening area… running through Tuesday evening.

 

Afternoon heat index readings could climb as high as 115 degrees… raising the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

 

Authorities recommend trying to avoid working out in the sun during the hottest parts of the day, or at least taking frequent breaks in shade or air conditioning.

 

You should also wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, and drink plenty of water.

 

The City of Springfield has made cooling centers available… Municipal Center East is open 24 hours a day, while Municipal Center West and Lincoln Library are available during normal hours of operation.

Schock and Durbin Caution About Increasingly Militarized Domestic Police


If the idea of military equipment in the hands of police makes you uneasy, you’re not alone.

 

Several local members of Congress say they also want a closer look at what kind of equipment is being provided to local police, and how it is being used.

 

Republican Congressman Aaron Schock questions the need for civilian police to have equipment like M-RAPs, the mine-resistant armored vehicle that Sangamon County authorities recently acquired.

 

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin says local police should have all the equipment they need… but shouldn’t be turned into small armies.

Dozens of Layoffs at IDOT Contradicts Earlier Statements About Hires


In trying to fix one problem, Governor Pat Quinn’s administration may have created another one.

 

Quinn’s office announced last week that it was laying off 58 employees in the Illinois Department of Transportation, after determining they had improperly gotten their jobs through political connections, rather than merit.

 

The move contradicted earlier statements that the jobs would merely be reclassified, rather than eliminated. It also raises the possibility that the laid-off workers could file suit against the state.

Despite Failed Ballot Initiative Rauner Continues to Push for Term Limits


The courts have repeatedly ruled against him, but Republican nominee for governor Bruce Rauner says he’s not done fighting for term limits.

 

Rauner says he will aggressively campaign on the issue this fall, as he blames the defeat of a proposed term limits amendment on Governor Pat Quinn and House Speaker Mike Madigan.

 

Rauner had wanted voters to weigh in on whether lawmakers should be limited to no more than eight years in their seat… but two lower courts and the Illinois Supreme Court all ruled that Rauner’s amendment exceeded what is permitted under the state constitution.

 

Rauner says term limits have overwhelming public support, and voters should have gotten the chance to be heard.

IDOT Hiring Practices Criticized; Former Secretary Says Governor's Office Directed Political Hiring


The state inspector general says improper political hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation started under Rod Blagojevich… but accelerated under Pat Quinn. 

 

A review of the practice finds as many as 250 people obtained jobs in violation of rules that prohibit hiring on the basis of political connections, instead of merit. 

 

Former IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider says those improper hires were directed to her by Gov. Quinn’s staff.

No Term Limits Amendment On November Ballot; Rauner Blames Quinn


You won’t be voting on term limits for Illinois lawmakers this fall. 

 

The Illinois Supreme Court has rejected a last-ditch attempt to get the measure on the November ballot, upholding lower court rulings that found the measure violates the state constitution. 

 

Despite the court rulings Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner pins the blame for the amendment’s defeat on Governor Pat Quinn and, quote, “Springfield career politicians.”

Heat Advisory Through Monday Evening; City Cooling Center Open


It’s as hot and sticky as a swamp this weekend… with a heat advisory in effect through at least 7pm Monday.

 

If you need a break from the heat, the City of Springfield says you can duck inside City Hall.  Municipal Center East is open 24 hours a day for people to step inside and get cooled off in the air conditioning.

 

In addition, Lincoln Library's main branch and Municipal Center West are open to the public as cooling centers during their regular hours of operation.

Three People Arrested In January Homicide


Two men and a woman have been arrested in connection with a murder in Springfield back in January. 

 

Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson says the death of Justin Sharp outside his home on Highland Avenue came during a botched, drug-related robbery. 

 

24-year-old Floyd Williams was booked on $2 million bond, while 22-year-old Korodney Jones and 20-year-old Demetriana Ross are held on $1 million bond each.  All three are charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and home invasion.

Riverside Park Deaths Appear to be Suicides


Autopsy results performed on the bodies of two men found shot to death Thursday night at Riverside Park show that both died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds, apparently in a suicide pact. The victims have been identified as 76-year-old Ronald H. Hall of Springfield and his brother, 82-year-old Robert S. Hall of Taylorville. The Springfield Police Department continues to investigate the deaths and further details will be released upon completion of the investigation.

Inspector General Rips Hiring Abuses At IDOT; Former Agency Head Blames Governor's Staff


The state executive inspector general says hiring abuses which began at the state Department of Transportation under former Governor Rod Blagojevich continued under Governor Pat Quinn. 

 

The report says as many as 250 people were improperly hired for political reasons, rather than merit, over the past decade.  Quinn’s office announced Thursday that it would lay off 58 IDOT workers whose hiring had been called into question.

 

Meanwhile, Quinn’s former transportation secretary says most of the people who were improperly hired by her agency were sent from the governor’s office… and says she and her staff had little opportunity to reject them. 

 

Ann Schneider tells the Chicago Sun-Times that resumes of political hires came to her staff from Quinn’s staff.  Schneider resigned this summer as the controversy over IDOT hiring intensified.

 

Libertarian Party Approved For November Ballot


Governor Pat Quinn and Republican opponent Bruce Rauner will have a little company on the November ballot. 

 

The State Board of Elections has certified a slate of Libertarian candidates, including the party’s nominee for governor, Chad Grimm.  But the board rejected the petitions for Green Party candidates, meaning they will not appear on the ballot in November.

Two Elderly Men Found Shot Dead at Riverside Park


Two people have been found shot to death in Springfield’s Riverside Park.

 

The bodies of the two elderly men were discovered Thursday evening. Police did not provide any additional information about the investigation, and there’s no word yet on the identities of the two men.

 

Stay with 970 WMAY for updates on this developing story.

City Continues Hearings of Bel-Aire Violations, Owner Motions for Dismissal


The owner of the Bel-Aire Motel is fighting back against hundreds of building code citations issued against his property by the City of Springfield.

 

Attorneys for Gopal Motwani accuse the city of unfairly targeting their client, and question how the number of alleged violations could grow exponentially in just a couple of years.

 

A city building inspector responds that she also doesn’t know how the violations could grow so quickly… she just knows that they have. Motwani, who lives in Florida, could be facing nearly a million dollars in fines if the city’s allegations stick.

 

The city hopes to eventually have the property condemned and torn down.

Work Begins on Carpenter Street Underpass for Rail Consolidation


Eventually it will allow for easier access to Springfield’s main hospitals. But in the short term, it could make that access more difficult.

 

Ground was broken Thursday on the new Carpenter Street underpass at the 10th Street tracks.

 

The $20 million project is the first major phase of a more-than-$300-million long-range plan to consolidate rail traffic on the 10th Street corridor.

 

Carpenter Street will be closed during much of the two-year project, which is expected to be completed in September of 2016.

McMenamin: Ferguson Unrest Proves Need for Police Residency


A Springfield alderman is reviving discussion on a couple of his pet issues… and tying them to events in the news.

 

Ward 7’s Joe McMenamin says one way to deal with a looming financial crisis at City Water Light and Power is for the city to finally follow his suggestion of a wage freeze for non-union employees.

 

Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Bishop On Air,” McMenamin said the city has to get spending under control, and says freezing non-union wages will give the city more leverage in union contract talks.

 

He also says the unrest in Ferguson shows why a residency rule should be reinstated for future city hires.

 

McMenamin contends the police department works best when officers have direct ties to the community.

Police Arrest Homeless Man Who Implied He Had Gun


Springfield police have apprehended a homeless man who had the city’s west side on edge for the last several days.

 

24-year-old Kyle Maxey created a disturbance on a city bus near Parkway Pointe Tuesday, and implied he had a gun.

 

He then ran into a nearby hotel, prompting a police search… but Maxey eluded authorities that day.

 

He was then spotted again Thursday morning, triggering a manhunt that included canine and aerial units.

 

After several hours, Maxey came out of a cornfield where he had been hiding. No gun was found.

Poe to Travel For Blood Disorder Treatment


A Springfield lawmaker will travel out-of-state in the weeks ahead for a stem cell transplant that could cure a blood disorder.

 

Representative Raymond Poe tells the State Journal-Register that the transplant will take place in Texas over a three-week period, to replace bone marrow that will be destroyed during chemotherapy that he will receive as part of his treatment for a condition called MDS.

 

That syndrome is described as a “low-level” cancer of the stem cells that generate blood cells. Poe’s doctor says the Republican lawmaker’s prognosis is good.

Schock Says ISIS Must Be Destroyed, Not Contained


A local congressman says the U.S. should adopt of policy of destroying the terror group ISIS.

 

And while Congressman Aaron Schock won’t commit to supporting the reintroduction of American ground forces in Iraq to battle those terrorists, he invites President Obama to make a case for doing exactly that.

 

The Peoria Republican says ISIS is more dangerous than al Qaeda, and says the U.S. needs a more aggressive policy to neutralize the threat it poses.

 

But Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin opposes using ground troops in Iraq, and Obama has already said that isn’t an option.

Statewide Unemployment Numbers Fall in July


July unemployment numbers are in and it's good news across Illinois.

 

For the fourth consecutive month, unemployment rates fell in every metro area in the state and most figures are at six-year lows, according to data released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). In the Springfield area, the unemployment rate for July was 6.5%, down from 8.1% in July 2013. Decatur, while still with a high unemployment rate of 9.5%, improved from a 13% rate one year ago.

 

All 102 Illinois counties saw their unemployment rates fall, for the second consecutive month. The statewide unemployment rate for July 2014 was 7%, down from a peak of 12.2% in January 2010. Nationally, the unemployment rate for July 2014 was 6.5%, down from 10.6% in January 2010.

Bel-Aire Attorneys Want Building Code Citations Dismissed


Attorneys for the owner of the Bel-Aire Motel have filed a motion to dismiss building code complaints against their client. 

 

During a hearing on those alleged code violations, the attorneys alleged that city officials are biased against Gopal Motwani and are piling on violations unfairly.  City officials insist they are just enforcing the law and trying to eliminate health hazards in the rundown building. 

 

Motwani could face nearly a million dollars in fines if the city’s complaint is upheld.

Ground Broken On 10th Street Underpass At Carpenter


It’s just the first phase of a long… and expensive… project. 

 

But work is now getting underway to build a new underpass on Carpenter Street at the 10th Street tracks.  Officials say the project will improve safety for drivers, pedestrians, and railroad crews… while allowing direct access to Springfield’s main hospitals without the risk of being stopped by a train.  But during construction, Carpenter will be closed to traffic.

 

The $20 million project is expected to be completed by September of 2016.

Rauner Wants Fast Supreme Court Review Of Term Limits Ruling


Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner has filed an emergency petition asking the Illinois Supreme Court to intervene immediately and allow his term limits proposal to go forward. 

 

Rauner has been trying to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot… but two courts have now ruled the measure violates the constitution. 

 

Rauner says the high court should honor the will of the people and allow them to vote on a measure that gets widespread support in most polls.

Schock Calls For ''Destruction'' Of ISIS


An area congressman is sounding a belligerent tone against the terrorist group that apparently beheaded an American journalist.

 

Republican Aaron Schock says he now considers the Islamic State group to be more dangerous than al Qaeda, and says the U.S. policy should be one of destruction… not containment.

 

But Schock says it’s up to the president to decide if American combat forces would have to return to Iraq to defeat the terrorists.

CWLP Financial Worries Lead McMenamin To Call For Non-Union Wage Freeze Again


If you wind up having to pay more on your City Water Light and Power bill, a Springfield alderman says city employees should have to take a hit, too. 

 

Ward 7’s Joe McMenamin is once again calling for a pay freeze for non-union employees.  McMenamin points to the fiscal issues at CWLP and says the city needs to get a handle on expenses. 

 

He contends that freezing pay for non-union workers will give the city leverage in contract talks.

 

Ferguson Unrest Prompts Springfield Alderman To Raise Residency Rule Issue


The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, is giving more ammunition to Alderman Joe McMenamin’s call to reinstate a residency rule for new city government hires. 

 

Appearing live on 970 WMAY's "Bishop On Air," McMenamin said the police department should reflect its community… and said officers can more effectively police the area when they have roots and ties here. 

 

McMenamin has pushed to require future hires to live within the city limits, but after early setbacks, he’s indicated that he won’t try to pass it again until a new city council is seated.

Authorities Renew Search For Possible Gunman Roaming West Side


For the second time this week, police have been searching on the west side for a man who may be roaming the area with a gun. 

 

The agitated man alarmed bystanders Tuesday when he attempted to board a city bus near Parkway Pointe, and implied he had a weapon.  He then ran into a Westside hotel, but eluded police. 

 

A man believed to be the same individual was spotted in that area again Thursday morning… canine and aerial units were called in, but the man could not be immediately located.

Powder Scare At State Library Proves Harmless


A brief scare at the Illinois State Library has turned out to be harmless. 

 

The building was closed temporarily after staffers found a white powder in a package that had been sent to the facility in downtown Springfield. 

 

The package had a Bolingbrook return address, and after locating the sender, authorities determined that the powder was harmless and had been accidentally placed in the envelope.

Term Limits Initiative Struck Down by Appellate Court Days Before Ballot Certification


The drive to put a term limits amendment on the November ballot has hit another wall… but supporters aren’t giving up yet.

 

An Illinois appeals court has agreed with a lower court that the term limits amendment violates the Illinois Constitution because it goes beyond the “structural and procedural” changes that ballot measures are supposed to address.

 

The amendment championed by Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner also attempts to cram several unrelated items into a single amendment, according to the court.

 

Rauner is urging the Illinois Supreme Court to hear his appeal and allow the amendment to go forward. But Friday is the scheduled deadline to finalize the fall ballot.

Candidates Using Social Media to Stake Claims in Upcoming Elections


More candidates are staking their claims for next year’s local elections.

 

Springfield school board member Adam Lopez announced earlier this week on Facebook that he would seek re-election, rather than running for a different office.

 

Meanwhile, deputy city clerk Rianne Hawkins has a Facebook page touting her candidacy for the city clerk’s job, even though she hasn’t formally announced her campaign yet.

 

Current city clerk Cecilia Tumulty has to step down next year because of term limits.

Sangamon County Board Approves Carlock Death Settlement


The Sangamon County Board has approved a multi-million-dollar settlement with the family of a county jail inmate who died after a struggle with jail guards back in 2007.

 

Paul Carlock… also known as “Klutzo the Clown”… was being held on child porn charges when he had that altercation with jailers.

 

He died later at the hospital. The county does not admit wrongdoing in the settlement, but county officials say settling now is cheaper than continuing to fight the case in court. Carlock’s family will receive more than $2.5 million.

 

The county has also spent in excess of $2.6 million in legal fees.

Possible Medical Marijuana Dispensary for Downtown Given Initial Approval by City


A top city official indicates that a medical marijuana dispensary could wind up in the heart of the city’s downtown Lincoln district.

 

Corporation counsel Todd Greenburg tells 970 WMAY that the proposed site for a dispensary would be “west of City Hall” and near Lincoln’s Home.

 

The Lincoln Home site… which sits on federal land… is actually directly south of City Hall, but a small sliver of downtown where a dispensary could legally be located runs from the Lincoln’s Home area to near the Old State Capitol.

 

Such dispensaries cannot be closer than 1,000 feet to schools, day cares, or areas zoned primarily for residential use.

This Year's Ethnic Village on Fairgrounds Canceled


A longtime Springfield tradition is coming to an end.

 

The State Journal-Register reports the Ethnic Festival has been cancelled.

 

The event used to draw tens of thousands of people to the State Fairgrounds over the Labor Day weekend, but participation by local groups has dropped off and crowds have dwindled dramatically in recent years.

 

Organizers say they may try to relaunch the event on a smaller scale next year, perhaps at a different location.

Appeals Court Rejects Term Limits Amendment


Bruce Rauner's effort to get a term limits amendment on the November ballot has suffered another setback.

 

An Illinois appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling which finds the proposed amendment is unconstitutional, because it is not confined to "structural or procedural" changes in legislative operations, as is required by the Illinois Constitution.

Rauner says the measure has widespread public support, and thinks voters should be allowed to have their say on it.  He has indicated he will appeal to the state Supreme Court, but a deadline to certify the November ballot is just days away.

Rauner Fights Back Against Outsourcing, Cayman Claims


“Not every job should be in America.”  That statement comes from Republican Bruce Rauner… defending his former company’s work helping other companies set up overseas operations. 

 

Rauner says an overseas presence is often essential for companies competing in a global marketplace… and says right now, those companies can’t be competitive in Illinois’s business climate.  But Governor Pat Quinn’s campaign accuses Rauner of “outsourcing” American jobs overseas.

 

Rauner also dismisses Quinn's criticism over press reports that Rauner put part of his fortune in Cayman Islands accounts as a tax shelter.  Rauner calls it a "red herring" and says it is not an important issue in the race for governor.

Scherer: Balance The Budget By Cutting Waste


With a possible multi-billion-dollar state budget gap looming, State Representative Sue Scherer says the answer is to cut waste… and then cut some more waste. 

 

Scherer says she “absolutely” believes that there may be billions of dollars wasted in the state budget… and says she will be diligent in identifying it. 

 

Scherer is opposed to extending the temporary income tax increase that expires at the end of the year.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary Could Wind Up In Abe's Backyard (Almost)


We could soon find out if Abe Lincoln and pot go together. 

 

Springfield’s corporation counsel says the proposed location for a medical marijuana dispensary is somewhere in the vicinity of Lincoln sites, and west of City Hall. 

 

That could put it near sites like the Old State Capitol or Lincoln’s Home.  That area is one of only a handful of locations in Springfield where a dispensary could go without violating state rules against being too close to schools or day care centers.

New Bel-Aire Hearings Convene Thursday


The owner of the Bel-Aire Motel could face nearly a million dollars in fines as a new round of hearings gets underway Thursday over hundreds of alleged building code violations. 

 

Mayor Mike Houston’s administration sees those code hearings… and the threat of massive fines… as the best way for the city to gain control of the rundown facility so that it can be condemned and torn down. 

 

City corporation counsel Todd Greenburg says the city will also continue to put together a chronic nuisance case against the Bel-Aire, as directed this month by the city council.

 

Ride-Sharing Service Intensifies Fight Against New Regulations


A ride-sharing service that is taking off in Chicago… and considering expansion to other parts of Illinois… is turning up the pressure in hopes of stopping a bill that would impose more regulations on the industry.

 

The head of Uber says the proposed regulations on Governor Pat Quinn’s desk would stifle the growth of his business and could force the company to rethink its Illinois presence. 

 

Uber is a smart-phone app that allows people to connect with drivers who can provide rides.  But Uber drivers currently don’t have to have the same licenses that are required for traditional taxis.

Blood Center Cuts Ribbon, Seeks Donors


The Central Illinois Community Blood Center has cut the ribbon on its new administrative headquarters.  But that isn’t fixing its biggest immediate need.

 

Blood supplies are still alarmingly low… because donations have dropped off sharply over the summer.  The center is asking anyone who can, to give blood before the upcoming Labor Day weekend. 

 

Blood donations are still accepted at the blood center’s original location on South Seventh.

Springfield NAACP to Convene Public Meeting Next Month in Aftermath of Ferguson Unrest


Some of the tensions that have been erupting in Ferguson, Missouri, in recent days are also a daily fact of life in Springfield… according to the head of the local NAACP branch.

 

And now the group is convening a community meeting next month to address, and try to defuse, some of those issues.

 

Teresa Haley says young black men often complain that they are unfairly targeted and harassed by Springfield police. She says there needs to be a frank community discussion… and a commitment on both sides to treat each other with respect.

 

That meeting is planned for September 4th from 6 to 8 pm at Southeast High School.

CWLP Electric Fund Faces Another Technical Default


City Water Light and Power is facing another big financial crisis… and chief engineer Eric Hobbie warns another electric rate hike is all but inevitable.

 

The utility is facing a steep drop in revenue because of the relatively cool summer… and that could lead to another technical default on its debt.

 

The fiscal impact of a second default… and the effects of costly new regulations… will almost certainly force the utility to raise rates to bring in more revenue, according to Hobbie.

Springfield's Medical Pot Zoning Won't Come Until October


Springfield is one step closer to approving rules that would allow medical marijuana businesses in the city… but final approval could still be months away.

 

Aldermen voted Tuesday in favor of an ordinance that allows the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission to hold a public hearing on the proposed rules, which will dictate where cannabis growing and dispensing operations will be allowed.

 

After that hearing, the commission will make recommendations and send the issue back to aldermen. That’s a process that could take months… but the window to apply for state licenses for such businesses is only weeks away.

Rauner Calls for State Supreme Court to Take Up Term Limits Case


Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is calling on the state Supreme Court to pick up the pace and make a fast final decision on whether a term limits amendment will be allowed on the November ballot.

 

The deadline to finalize the ballot is rapidly approaching… and Rauner’s term limits proposal is still in limbo, after being ruled unconstitutional by a lower court earlier this summer.

 

Rauner says he’s upset that the high court didn’t hear a direct appeal of that ruling… and says the courts should stop dragging their feet and make a ruling.

 

Rauner says the term limits proposal is very popular among Illinoisans, and they should have a chance to vote on it.

Gun Charges Against Springfield Store Clerk Declared Unconstitutional


A Springfield store clerk’s conviction on weapons charges has been overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court… which says the law under which he was convicted was unconstitutional.

 

Ahmed Altayeb grabbed a gun from behind the counter of the Handy Pantry on West Cook and opened fire on a man who was stealing liquor from the store. The robber fled and was not injured, but Altayeb was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. His attorney argued that the statute violated Altayeb’s 2nd Amendment rights.

 

The State Journal-Register reports Altayeb is a legal immigrant from Yemen… but faced deportation after his conviction. His attorney hopes those proceedings can be stopped, now that the conviction has been thrown out.

NAACP Calls Town Hall Meeting For Sept. 4th To Address Tensions Between Police, Black Community


What’s been happening in Ferguson, Missouri, could just as easily happen here… according to the head of the Springfield NAACP. 

 

But a town hall meeting planned for next month is intended to reduce those tensions and address the underlying issues of relations between police and Springfield’s black community.  Teresa Haley of the Springfield branch says young black men in particular feel that they are the victims of harassment by local police.

 

That meeting is set for September 4th from 6 to 8 pm at Southeast High School.

 

Local Leaders Push For Passage Of School Funding Reform Bill


A renewed push is underway to win approval of a bill to radically revamp school funding in the state. 

 

Community leaders and Springfield school officials are supporting Senator Andy Manar’s Senate Bill 16… which requires that most state school aid be allocated on the basis of need.

 

Representative Sue Scherer is a supporter of the bill in the House.  She says it’s unfair that local students compete with suburban Chicago kids for jobs… after getting educated in schools that are much less well-funded.

 

Sheriff: No Wrongdoing, But Changes Were Made After Jail Death


Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson insists his jailers did nothing wrong in a 2007 incident that led to the death of an inmate… and now a possible $2.5 million settlement with the inmate’s family. 

 

But Williamson also says changes have been made in jail operations since Paul Carlock’s death seven years ago.  The accused child pornographer had struggled with jail guards before he died.

 

Undersheriff Jack Campbell says the settlement makes sense to prevent future expense for county taxpayers.

Police Search For, Can't Find, Man With Gun


Springfield police are scratching their heads about a man who reportedly attempted to board a city bus... and then ran into a west-side hotel... while implying that he had a gun.

 

The incident happened on Freedom Drive near Parkway Pointe Tuesday, when the man attemped to get on the bus. The agitated man reportedly kicked a window and implied that he had a gun, then got off the bus and ran into the Fairfield Inn.

 

Springfield police arrived and searched the hotel, but couldn't find the man.  They suspect he fled before they arrived.  They're asking anyone with information about it to call the police department.

State Police Stress Safety Around School Buses


You may be like a lot of drivers… not quite clear on the rules regarding when you’re required to stop for a school bus. 

 

Illinois State Police are issuing a reminder about safety around school zones, and especially around stopped buses.  The agency notes that you must always stop when you are behind a bus that is stopped with its stop arm extended. 

 

If you are approaching the bus, you’re only required to stop if it is not a divided roadway with multiple lanes in each direction.

 

Rauner Pushes For Fast Supreme Court Action On Term Limits Appeal


The committee that is pushing for a term limits amendment to the Illinois Constitution is now pushing the Illinois Supreme Court to act quickly to hear the case. 

 

That proposed amendment was tossed off the ballot several weeks ago… and now time is running out to get that ruling reversed before ballot deadlines kick in. 

 

Republican nominee for governor Bruce Rauner says the Supreme Court should not ignore thousands of people who want term limits for lawmakers.

 

Ice Bucket Challenge Catches Mayoral Candidates, Radio Personalities


The “ice bucket challenge” continues to pick up steam across the Internet… and around Springfield. 

 

Mayoral candidate Jim Langfelder has issued the challenge to his opponents, Mayor Mike Houston and county auditor Paul Palazzolo, to dump a bucket of ice water on their own heads.  It’s all part of a fundraising effort for the fight against ALS, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. 

 

970 WMAY’s Jim Leach and Greg Bishop have also gotten the challenge… and plan to carry it out live on the air Wednesday.

Sangamon County Board Committee Offers to Settle Carlock Death Case


Sangamon County taxpayers could be on the hook for more than five-million dollars in the death of an inmate in the county jail.

 

The State Journal-Register reports a county board committee has approved a $2.5 million settlement with the family of Paul Carlock.

 

The child pornography suspect… who had worked as a children’s entertainer under the name “Klutzo the Clown”… died in 2007 after a struggle with jail guards.

 

In addition to the settlement, the county has also incurred another $2.6 million in legal fees… but officials say those costs would go even higher if the case went to trial.

 

In the proposed settlement… which must still be approved by the full county board… the county does not admit wrongdoing.

Investigators Release Name of Human Remains Found in Rochester


One mystery solved… but a much bigger one remains. Forensic investigators have identified the skeletal remains found in a Rochester garage last month.

 

Dental records were used to confirm the remains of 43-year-old Tracy Trimby of Decatur.

 

Trimby had a long criminal record, including drug charges, but had not been the subject of an active missing persons investigation.

 

There’s still no information on how or when she died, or how her body ended up in Rochester.

Teachers and School Admin Still Working on Teachers' Contract


School is back in session in District 186… even though a new teachers’ contract has not been finalized.

 

Superintendent Jennifer Gill says talks have moved a bit more slowly in recent days… since members of the union’s bargaining committee are working teachers who have been preparing their classrooms for the start of school.

 

Appearing live on the 970 WMAY News Feed, Gill said both sides agreed to, quote, “work smart, not fast” in order to craft an agreement that makes sense.

 

Teachers are still working under the terms of the one-year contract that was approved last summer.

Southern View Principal Resigns to Take Job in Michigan


There’s already been a shakeup at one Springfield school.

 

Southern View principal Reiko Hurd abruptly resigned last week to take a job in his hometown in Michigan.

 

School board member Donna Moore said she was “reluctantly” voting to accept the resignation, because she thinks administrators should fulfill their contracts, but agreed it could be awkward to force Hurd to stay.

 

Grant Middle School guidance dean Bob Mitchell has been appointed to take over as principal at Southern View, a balanced calendar school whose school year started last month.

Enos Park Neighborhood Association Sues Problem Property Owners


A Springfield neighborhood association is taking action on its own against rundown properties in its part of town.

 

The Enos Park Association has filed suit against the owners of several properties, accusing them of creating a nuisance and a health hazard that is hurting the value of other homes in the area.

 

The group’s suit seeks to force repairs, demolition… or to have the properties turned over to a “receiver” who will be responsible for it.

More Ideas for Smooth and Safe Traffic Through Downtown Springfield


More ideas are surfacing about how to make traffic move more smoothly through downtown Springfield.

 

Two groups have been brainstorming proposals including a slower speed limit downtown… and prohibiting right turns on red at busy pedestrian intersections. Now Springfield Alderman Sam Cahnman has offered another possibility.

 

Cahnman says the city could look at moving to “reverse angled parking,” where a driver would back into an angled on-street space.

 

Cahnman says it wouldn’t be any more difficult to park that way than it currently is to parallel-park… but he says it would be easier and safer to leave the space.

One Dead After Crash Near Lincoln


A 30-year-old West Chicago man is dead after a single vehicle crash in the Lincoln area on Monday morning.

 

The victim was the passenger in a vehicle being driven by an 18-year-old male, also of West Chicago, that left the roadway at a high rate of speed off of the exit ramp to Interstate 55 at the Atlanta exit (#140). The vehicle struck multiple trees, coming to rest with the driver's side wrapped around a tree, according to an Illinois State Police press release. The driver was transported to Bromenn Medical Center in Bloomington with non-life threatening injuries. The passenger was transported to Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, where he died from his injuries.

 

The accident remains under investigation as of Monday afternoon.

First Human Case of West Nile in 2014


The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed the first human case of the West Nile Virus for the state this year.

 

In a press release provided to 970 WMAY News, IDPH confirmed that the Chicago Department of Public Health reported that a woman in her 70s became ill last month.

 

A bird collected in Henry County on May 29th and a mosquito sample collected in Madison County on May 30th were the first positive West Nile results of this year. So far, the virus has been reported in birds, mosquitoes, and - now - a single human case in 32 of the state's 102 counties. At this time last year, West Nile had been reported in 49 counties.

Rochester Skeletal Remains Identified


The skeletal remains discovered in Rochester on July 19th have been identified.

 

The Sangamon County Coroner's Office had previously released information stating that the victim was a 43-year-old female. Coroner Cinda Edwards, on Monday, issued a statement positively idenifying the female as Tracy Trimby, of Decatur.

 

Further investigation continues with the Illinois State Police, Sangamon County Coroner, and other agencies involved.

Teachers Back At Work In District 186 As Contract Talks Continue


School is back in session in Springfield District 186, even though talks continue on a new teachers contract. 

 

Springfield Education Association members are still working under the terms of the one-year deal reached last summer… while those negotiations are ongoing. 

 

Appearing live on the 970 WMAY News Feed, Superintendent Jennifer Gill said both sides agreed to, quote, “work smart, not fast.”

 

''Reverse Angled Parking'' Suggested As Review Of Downtown Traffic Continues


Another idea is being floated to help improve traffic flow and safety in downtown Springfield. 

 

Two study groups have explored ideas including more angled parking in the downtown area.  But calling in live to the 970 WMAY News Feed, Alderman Sam Cahnman said the city could look at what has happened in other communities… which have put in “reverse angled parking.” 

 

Cahnman says that wouldn’t be any more difficult to get into a space than parallel parking… but it would be a lot easier to get out.

Enos Park Goes To Court Against Rundown Properties


If you’re tired of waiting for government to fix a problem, you can take a page from a Springfield neighborhood association. 

 

The Enos Park Association is filing suit on its own to go after nuisance properties in the neighborhood. The lawsuits say the abandoned properties are a safety hazard and are hurting property values. 

 

They seek to have the properties repaired, torn down or transferred to another owner.

 

Lawsuit Stemming From Blagojevich Misdeeds Is Revived


The ghost of Rod Blagojevich’s ethical issues continues to haunt state law… and the courts. 

 

A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit by casino operators… which claims that bribery was at the heart of Blagojevich’s push for legislation that took three-percent of casino revenues and steered them toward racetracks. 

 

The legislation at the time was touted as a way to level the playing field and protect Illinois’s economic interest in maintaining a healthy horse racing industry.

Decatur May Ditch New Police Radios, But Sangamon County Still Loves Them


Although the city of Decatur is having second thoughts about its new Starcom police radios, Sangamon County law enforcement is standing behind the technology. 

 

Decatur may pull the plug on its contract because of two recent widespread outages of the system. 

 

But Undersheriff Jack Campbell says with the exception of one or two sporadic dead spots in Sangamon County, the Starcom radio system has worked very well… far better than the department’s old analog radios.

 

Back to School With Changes for District 186 Schedule


It’s the day parents have been waiting for… and students have been dreading. This is the first day of school for most District 186 students.

 

The new year will bring some changes… including early dismissal every Wednesday to allow more set time for teacher training and collaboration.

 

School board president Mike Zimmers says one of the district’s goals this year is to more clearly communicate what it’s doing to parents and the public… and he encourages both parents and community members to take time to arrange visits to schools, so they can see for themselves what’s happening inside.

Quinn Signs Smoking Ban on Public University Campuses


Next year, students packing to go away to a public college or university in Illinois should probably leave the cigarettes at home.

 

Governor Pat Quinn has signed legislation that prohibits smoking anywhere on public college or university campuses, indoors or out. Smoking in a private vehicle would still be permitted.

 

Supporters of the bill say it will reduce overall rates of tobacco use among college kids… but opponents say it’s a big inconvenience without much benefit.

 

Several major campuses already went smoke-free before passage of the new law, which takes effect next July.

State Fair Attendance May Be Down Ten Percent


It appears almost one in ten of us like staying dry more than we like the Illinois State Fair.

 

The 2014 fair wrapped up Sunday night, and fair officials expect total attendance will be down close to ten-percent this year... mostly because of rain or the threat of it through most of the fair, especially on the weekends.

 

Final attendance numbers won’t be in for a few days, but fair manager Amy Bliefnick said last week that the numbers are not bad, given the weather. And since a prediction of rain Sunday didn’t materialize, that could give the final figures a boost.

Fair Officials Increase Recycling Options


Your trip to the fair this year included lots of options for disposing of your trash… with special receptacles for bottles, cans and other items.

 

Illinois State Fair officials say they ramped up recycling at this year's event as part of an effort to have the most eco-friendly fair in the country.

 

The fair last year recycled more than 25,000 pounds of aluminum, cardboard and plastic.

 

It added paper to the recycling effort this year. Officials say manure from the fairgrounds also is used to fertilize gardens.

Groups Work on Recommendations to Make Travel Safer in Downtown


Getting around downtown Springfield… whether on foot or in a vehicle… can and should be easier and safer, according to groups who are studying ways to improve the movement of motorized and pedestrian traffic through downtown.

 

The State Journal-Register reports the groups are working on several recommendations, including changing the speed limit through downtown from 30 miles an hour to 25.

 

Other suggestions could include more “parklets” directly adjacent to streets and banning right turns on red at busy intersections, all in an effort to get traffic to slow down and be more mindful of those on foot in the downtown area.

Police Get Surplus Military Equipment Through Pentagon Program


Local police may look more like an offshoot of the military these days… as they make more and more use of surplus equipment that’s no longer needed in war zones.

 

A recent analysis by the New York Times finds Sangamon County law enforcement agencies have obtained hundreds of assault rifles, night vision equipment and even armored vehicles through Pentagon programs.

 

Deputy Springfield police chief Dennis Arnold says the equipment is sometimes modified to make it more appropriate for civilian use.

 

But he and others say the equipment is valuable and essential in a variety of emergency situations.

Maps Show Potential Sites For Medical Marijuana Businesses


New maps indicate medical marijuana dispensaries could potentially be located in multiple spots around Springfield… not just downtown, as Mayor Mike Houston had originally indicated. 

 

But cultivation centers… where cannabis will be grown for medical purposes… will have far fewer options, and even downtown appears to be off-limits because sites are too close to schools, day cares or residential areas. 

 

Springfield aldermen will continue debating medical marijuana siting issues this week.

State Severs Ties With Private Lottery Firm


A stormy three-year marriage has come to an end… as Governor Pat Quinn officially breaks it off with the company that’s been running the Illinois Lottery. 

 

Northstar Lottery has never met the performance goals that it promised to achieve when it landed its contract with the state… but the company says the state has blocked some of its efforts to improve its results. 

 

The lottery says its games will continue uninterrupted while it searches for a new private manager.

Teen Busted For Dropping Railroad Spikes Onto I-55, Damaging Vehicles


A 14-year-old Springfield boy is facing multiple charges after State Police say he dropped railroad spikes from an overpass onto I-55… causing damage to five vehicles in the northbound lanes near the Sangamon Avenue exit. 

 

A trooper responding to the reports of damage saw the teen and chased him to his residence, where he was taken into custody.  The boy faces charges including criminal damage to property and vehicular endangerment.

 

Springfield Shop-N-Save Stores Caught Up In Possible Data Breach


If you shopped at any of Springfield’s three Shop-n-Save stores between mid-June and mid-July, check your bank statements carefully. 

 

The stores are among 200 nationwide that may have been hit by a security breach.  Parent company SuperValu says it has detected hackers obtaining access to databases that include cardholder names, account numbers and expiration dates. 

 

The company says there’s no proof that any data was stolen or misused.

 

State Fair Manager Disputes Topinka's Comments On High Prices At Fair


The manager of the Illinois State Fair says the event is getting a bum rap from Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. 

 

Topinka told 970 WMAY this week that five-dollar corn dogs and cups of beer make the fair too expensive for the average family. 

 

But fair manager Amy Bliefnick notes Illinois has the lowest state fair ticket price in the nation.  She also says there are lots of low-cost food items and free entertainment on the grounds.  And she says higher prices aren’t the fair’s fault… since it hasn’t raised vendor fees in years.

 

Sangamon County Agencies Benefit From Surplus Military Equipment


A Pentagon program to provide surplus military gear to local law enforcement agencies has had a big impact in Sangamon County. 

 

The New York Times reports that all local agencies combined have received more than 600 assault rifles, 54 pieces of night vision equipment, more than a dozen firearms and two armored vehicles since 2006. 

 

All surrounding counties have also received military equipment, mostly assault rifles.

Memorial Honors Those Killed In Highway Work Zones


Amid the fun at the fair, it’s a somber reminder of the need to be cautious in highway work zones. 

 

A national memorial wall is on display at the Grandstand through this final weekend of the State Fair.  It pays tribute to highway workers who lost their lives in work zones. 

 

The memorial also contains the names of drivers and passengers who died in work zones accidents… nearly 1400 names in all.

U of I Rescinds Job Offer After Anti-Israel Tweets


The University of Illinois has revoked a job offer to a professor of American Indian studies… after he posted several tweets critical of Israel’s actions in its war against Gaza. 

 

Steven Salaita was supposed to start his new job this weekend, but the University now says it won’t submit his appointment to the board of trustees because he is unlikely to win approval. 

 

Hundreds of scholars say they will boycott U of I conferences and events because of the decision.

Railroad Spikes On Interstate Cause Tire Damage


Illinois State police are investigating an incident Friday morning in which it appears someone threw railroad spikes on northbound I-55, causing several cars to get flat tires.

 

The incident happened in the northbound lanes near the Sangamon Avenue exit.  It wasn't immediately clear how many spikes were on the road or how they got there.  Crews were sent to the scene to clean up the debris.

 

Stay with 970 WMAY News for additional information on this story.

Illinois Republicans Rally Party Faithful During Illinois State Fair


Illinois Republicans smell the meat a-cookin’… and not just corn dogs and pork tenderloins.

 

Top GOP officials who rallied at the Illinois State Fair Thursday all expressed a common theme… that better days are ahead, both for the party’s political fortunes and for state government in general.

 

Republican nominee for governor Bruce Rauner vowed that he would kick Governor Pat Quinn out of office and end the Democratic stranglehold on the Statehouse.

Oberweis Criticizes Durbin's Millionaire Status Coming From Taxpayers Funded Job


It may be a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

 

At Thursday’s GOP rally, Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Jim Oberweis led the party faithful in a chant against “millionaire” Dick Durbin, the Democratic incumbent.

 

Oberweis is himself a millionaire several times over, thanks to his family’s successful dairy business. Oberweis says Durbin became a millionaire in taxpayer-funded jobs, not through the private sector.

 

One recent study put Durbin’s total net worth at approximately $1 million.

Topinka: Illinois State Fair is Too Expensive


You’ve probably thought it a time or two at this year’s Illinois State Fair, but Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is saying it right out loud… the fair is too expensive.

 

Topinka says food and drink prices are too much for an average family… and threaten to make it impossible for many people to enjoy a day at the fair.

 

Topinka says the fair should provide more low-cost options… but also needs to generate enough revenue to be financially self-sustaining.

Topinka Has Concerns About ISP Safety on Chicago Streets


It’s not her usual area of interest, but Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is expressing serious concerns about the safety of Illinois State Police troopers on the streets of Chicago.

 

Governor Pat Quinn recently announced plans to send 40 troopers to assist Chicago police in rounding up violent fugitives.

 

But Topinka says their distinctive uniforms will make those troopers an attractive target for gang members… who may view those troopers as a, quote, “trophy.”

 

Chicago police union officials have also objected to the state police plan.

Candidate Barr: No Bias From Sangamon County Deputies


You shouldn’t have to worry about bias from Sangamon County deputies… that’s according to retired deputy and Republican candidate for sheriff Wes Barr.

 

Appearing live Thursday on 970 WMAY, Barr downplayed concerns that police around the state subject minority drivers to greater scrutiny than white motorists face.

 

He says county deputies get thorough training on how to treat everyone with respect.

Springfield Teachers Attend Back-to-School Rally


It’s a slogan that Springfield school officials hope will set the tone for the new school year… “Live 186 Strong.”

 

Superintendent Jennifer Gill stressed that message at a back-to-school rally for teachers Thursday at the Prairie Capital Convention Center.

 

She says it refers to approaching each day with eagerness… but also to relying on each other and on district staff for support when challenges arise.

 

Classes start for most Springfield students on Monday.

Quinn Touts 6.8 Percent Unemployment Rate in Illinois


It’s some of the best economic numbers Illinois has seen in years… the state’s jobless rate fell in July for the fifth straight month, landing at its lowest level since before the economic crash in 2008.

 

The 6.8 percent jobless rate is a stark difference from one year earlier… when it stood at 9.2 percent. Governor Pat Quinn… whose handling of the state’s economy has become a major issue in his re-election campaign… calls the news, quote, “momentous.”

Quinn Demands Apology from Lt. Gov Candidate Sanguinetti Over Cow Tipping Joke


Governor Pat Quinn is demanding an apology on behalf of Springfield.

 

Quinn says Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Evelyn Sanguinetti needs to say she’s sorry for an offhand joke she made about the Capital City.

 

In an email to a friend last year, Sanguinetti asked whether “cow tipping” was a requirement to work in Springfield.

 

Sanguinetti says it was just a joke, and that she “loves” Springfield.

Republicans Sound Confident At State Fair


Illinois Republicans are putting the “party” back into Grand Old Party. 

 

Governor nominee Bruce Rauner says he will finally reclaim the governor’s mansion for the GOP, kicking off a process of rebuilding the party in Illinois. 

 

Rauner arrived for the party’s rally at the state fairgrounds by riding in on his Harley in front of a cheering crowd.

Topinka: State Fair Is Too Expensive


Not everyone is having a good time at the Illinois State Fair. 

 

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is complaining that a day at the fair is just too expensive.  Topinka says five-dollar corn dogs and cups of beer threaten to make a day at the fair unaffordable for the average family. 

 

She says the fair needs to provide more low-cost options… but must also still generate enough revenue to be self-sustaining. [Topinka appeared live at the fair Thursday on 970 WMAY's "Jim Leach Show."]

 

Troopers On Patrol In Chicago Could Become Gang ''Trophies," Warns Topinka


A top state official is sounding the alarm over plans to send Illinois State Police troopers into the middle of the street violence in Chicago. 

 

Governor Pat Quinn announced plans to send 40 troopers to assist Chicago police in rounding up violent fugitives who may be responsible for some of the gang and gun violence. 

 

But Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka fears those troopers, in their distinctive uniforms, will have a target on their backs as they become a coveted “trophy” for gang members.

Barr Doubts Sangamon County Deputies Are Unfairly Targeting Minorities


A candidate for Sangamon County sheriff says deputies are well-trained… and that should be enough to prevent any allegations of bias in their dealings with the public. 

 

The American Civil Liberties Union says blacks and minorities are more likely to be subjected to unwarranted searches of their vehicles.  But Republican sheriff’s candidate Wes Barr doesn’t think it’s an issue in that department… and says if a situation does develop, citizen complaints and the discipline process should take care of it.

Illinois Jobless Rate Now At Lowest Level Since 2008


Illinois has more jobs… and fewer people out of work. 

 

The unemployment rate fell last month statewide to 6.8 percent… the fifth straight decline and the best showing since the summer of 2008, before the economic collapse hit. 

 

Just one year ago, the rate was 9.2 percent.  The year-to-year improvement in the jobless rate was the biggest since 1984.

 

District 186 Throws Back To School Rally For Teachers


It’s up to you to get your child fired up to head back to school… but District 186 officials are trying to get teachers just as fired up.

 

The district held a “welcome back” rally Thursday at the Prairie Capital Convention Center.  The event was designed to greet teachers and give them some idea of the district’s plans for the year under new superintendent Jennifer Gill. 

 

She encouraged teachers and staff to embrace a new theme for the school year… “Live 186 Strong.”

Governor's Executive Privilege Claim Challenged


Governor Pat Quinn’s own staff may have undercut the governor’s claim of executive privilege concerned some of the documents about a controversial anti-violence program. 

 

Quinn has resisted parts of a subpoena from a legislative committee looking into the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, saying they are privileged communications.

 

But Quinn staffers turned over thousands of those emails to a former employee… and one lawmaker says they can’t do that and still claim the right to keep them secret.

Man Shot in Leg, Two Suspects Sought, After Late Wednesday Shooting in Springfield


A Springfield man is recovering from a gunshot wound to the leg after a shooting incident at the 2100 block of South 14th Street Wednesday night.

 

26-year-old Darnell Hayes tells police he heard an argument outside his residence and when he opened the door he heard two gunshots, one struck his left thigh.

 

Several witnesses say they saw a black male and female outside the residence before the shooting.

 

Hayes’ girlfriend tells police she didn’t see where the suspects went.

 

Police responded to the call just after 11pm Wednesday.

Police Looking for Suspect of McDonald's Robbery and Assault


Springfield police are looking for a black male who robbed a McDonald's on South MacArthur at gunpoint late Wednesday evening.

 

Springfield Police Lt. Carl Crawford says the suspect was wearing a blue hooded sweat shirt, blue jeans and a white mask.

 

After displaying a handgun and getting money, police say the suspect pistol-whipped a McDonald’s employee. That employee is recovering from non-life threatening injuries.

 

Police say they used a K-9 unit to track the suspect without success.

 

ACLU: Blacks, Latinos More Likely to Be Asked for Consent Searches Than Whites


Questions about racial disparities in traffic stops aren’t limited to just Springfield.

 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois says a review of data around the state shows widespread evidence of cultural and racial bias.

 

That data finds that among drivers who are pulled over… blacks and Hispanics are far more likely to be asked to allow police to search their vehicles, even though white drivers are more likely to have illegal contraband.

 

Ed Yohnka of the ACLU thinks white drivers’ vehicles are searched when there is probable cause… but minority drivers are more likely to be the subject of “fishing expeditions.”

 

He wants an end to so-called “consent searches.”

Democrats Attack Rauner's Wealth During Political Events


Illinois Democrats are not letting up in their attempts to use Republican Bruce Rauner’s wealth against him.

 

Rauner’s vast fortune… and the claim that it leaves him out-of-touch with average Illinoisans… was a recurring theme during Democratic Party activities that coincide with Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair.

 

During a speech to party faithful at the Crowne Plaza, Governor Pat Quinn referred to Rauner as King Midas, and joked that Rauner believes a rising tide “lifts all yachts.”

 

Quinn says he believes in government for the many, while Rauner supports government for the money. The GOP gets its chance to fire back today, Republican Day at the fair.

County and City Zoning Still Murky Before Medical Cannabis Applications Set to Begin


There’s still plenty of uncertainty about exactly where medical marijuana businesses might wind up in Springfield, or elsewhere in Sangamon County.

 

Regional Planning Commission director Norm Sims tells 970 WMAY that the new state pilot program is unclear on some of its rules… such as whether a prohibition on marijuana businesses near day care centers applies only to licensed day cares.

 

Prospective marijuana suppliers and vendors must start applying with the state next month… and the unresolved questions could complicate efforts to place the businesses in or near Springfield.

Lt. Gov. Simon to Wed Same-Sex Couple on State Capitol Steps


It’s not something you see every day… and perhaps not ever before today.

 

This afternoon, two men will be married on the steps of the Illinois Capitol, in a ceremony officiated by the lieutenant governor.

 

Sheila Simon was certified online to conduct the wedding services for Eric Homa and James Wyatt. The men are friends and political supporters of Simon.

 

They’ve been a couple of 20 years, but couldn’t wed until same-sex marriage became legal in Illinois this summer.

Study: Minorities More Likely To Be Asked To Consent To Search, But Whites More Likely To Be Caught With Contraband


If you’re a minority who gets pulled over by police, you’re more likely to be asked by police to let them search your vehicle, but less likely to have them actually find anything. 

 

That’s according to a review of traffic stop data by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

 

Disparity in how traffic stops are handled has long been an issue in Springfield… but the ACLU says the trends hold up around the state.

Still Unclear Where Medical Marijuana Businesses Might Be Located In Sangamon County


So where exactly can medical marijuana businesses go in Sangamon County?  Your guess is as good as anyone else’s at the moment. 

 

Regional Planning Commission director Norm Sims says there are some vague areas of state law that could affect placement of cannabis growing and dispensing centers.  For example, they can’t be too close to day cares, but it’s unclear if that includes all day cares, or only those that are licensed by the state. 

 

Several communities could be competing with Springfield for the limited number of licenses for medical marijuana businesses.

State Museum Building Could Be Named In Honor Of Dixon


The Illinois State Museum building in Springfield could soon bear the name of the late U.S. Senator Alan Dixon. 

 

Governor Pat Quinn is asking lawmakers to pass a joint resolution approving the tribute to Dixon, who died last month.  If approved, the building at Spring and Edwards would be called the Alan J. Dixon Building of the Illinois State Museum.

 

Davis Takes ''Ice Bucket Challenge'' In Support Of Springfield Man


It’s becoming a hot… or rather, a cold… new trend on social media. 

 

Congressman Rodney Davis is the latest to take the “ice bucket challenge.”  Davis shot video of himself, dumping a bucket of ice water on his own head. 

 

It’s part of an awareness campaign against Lou Gehrig’s disease… inspired in part by Steve Rockford, a Springfield man battling the illness.  Davis is also challenging several congressional colleagues to take the challenge, too.

Springfield Aldermen Want More Information on Zoning for Medical Pot


Springfield aldermen want some more information before they vote to approve rules that could bring medical marijuana businesses to the city.

 

The proposed rules are based on limits set in the state’s medical marijuana pilot program.

 

Mayor Mike Houston said last week that under those limits, marijuana growing and dispensing centers could only be located downtown.

 

But information at Tuesday’s City Council committee of the whole meeting suggested such businesses could potentially be sited in other parts of town.

Plans for Development of Esquire Theater Scrapped


A proposal to turn the old Esquire Theater on South MacArthur into a retail strip center has been pulled.

 

Developer Chris Stone tells the State Journal-Register that he decided to drop the project when officials… including Alderman Joe McMenamin… pushed an alternative proposal that would have added residential units and a seven-story office tower for the site.

 

Stone says the size and cost of the alternate plan was beyond what he was ready to undertake. McMenamin says a mixed-use proposal is better suited to the long-range plan for MacArthur, and says the Hy-Vee development and the MacArthur TIF improve the chances of that happening.

Steer Sells for $100K at Governor's Sale of Champions


It was a night of records being smashed at the annual Governor’s Sale of Champions during Agriculture Day at the Illinois State Fair.

 

The grand champion crossbred steer sold for $100,000 during Tuesday night’s auction… far beyond the previous record of $62,000 set just a year earlier.

 

In fact, that one sale alone nearly equaled the total for all animals sold during the 2010 Sale of Champions combined.

 

Meanwhile, the grand champion steer was purchased for $56,000… by GOP candidate for governor Bruce Rauner and his wife.

 

The total $260,000 raised Tuesday night will be split among the young exhibitors who raised the animals and their respective 4-H and FFA programs.

Leading GOP Lawmakers Accuse Quinn of Similar NRI Dealings


Leading Illinois Republicans say Governor Pat Quinn is at it again.

 

They accuse Quinn’s administration of diverting $20 million in taxpayer funds toward community groups in Chicago neighborhoods where Quinn may wish to shore up political support.

 

The GOP contends the latest initiative, through the Department of Labor, is just a renamed version of Quinn’s controversial Neighborhood Recovery Initiative… which has been the subject of a scathing audit and is now being reviewed by a legislative committee and federal prosecutors.

Patronage and Fiscal Mismanagement Themes in Illinois Treasurers Race


The race for Illinois treasurer is getting more intense.

 

Republicans supporting Tom Cross took shots at Cross’s Democratic opponent Tuesday… accusing Mike Frerichs of patronage and fiscal mismanagement in his prior job as Champaign County auditor.

 

Meanwhile, Frerichs has now decided to go ahead and pay a disputed property tax bill.

 

Frerichs had been taking heat for not paying the disputed $1800 bill, which Frerichs claims was improperly assessed.

Illinois GOP Demands Answers on Current Grant Spending, Say It's Similar to NRI


Governor Pat Quinn is spending millions of dollars on grants before an election, the same way he did before the 2010 election, according to leading Republican lawmakers.

 

During a press conference the group said eleven-point-five million dollars in loosely defined grants is moving through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Department of Human Services so far this fiscal year.

 

The group featuring members of the Legislative Audit Commission are demanding the governor be transparent about how the money is being spent.

 

A bipartisan Legislative Audit Commission relaxed their investigation into Quinn’s NRI program at the request of the US Attorney in Springfield citing their ongoing investigation of the program.

 

Watch Tuesday's press conference below:

 

Illinois Harness Racing Back on at State Fair But Uncertain Elsewhere


Harness racing is supposed to resume today at the Illinois State Fair after several days of delays because of muddy track conditions… but overall, time for the sport may be running out in Illinois.

 

The head of the Illinois Harness Horseman’s Association says unless lawmakers allow horse tracks to add video gaming… so that they can compete with casinos… racing’s future in Illinois looks bleak.

 

But Tony Somone says harness racing will be back at the State Fair next year.

State Fair Features Governor's Sale of Champions for Ag Day


It’s Agriculture Day at the Illinois State Fair.

 

The Governor’s Sale of Champions is one of the scheduled highlights of the day. In addition, the Illinois Farm Bureau has scheduled a news conference for today during the AG Day events at the fairgrounds to give its endorsement to Congressman Rodney Davis’s re-election bid.

 

The Bureau says Davis has championed renewable fuels, in addition to his work on the federal farm bill.

 

And tonight in the Grandstand, it’s Boston, April Wine and Sweet.

Illinois' Concealed Carry Permitting Running Smoothly After Initial Glitches


69,000 concealed carry permits have been issued in Illinois since the process began in January.

 

Even pro-gun groups say the process is now running more smoothly than it did at first… and many applicants are receiving their permits in just over a month.

 

Technical glitches had slowed the process at first, but most of those problems now seem to be corrected.

Rauner To Announce Debate Details, Leads Quinn in Another Poll


Another poll shows Governor Pat Quinn with a lot of ground to make up, with less than three months to Election Day.

 

And Quinn is running like he’s trailing.

 

The governor’s camp says Quinn has agreed to eight debates… and is pressing Republican opponent Bruce Rauner. But Rauner… who has a double-digit lead in some polls… isn’t committing to that many.

 

His team says the candidate will participate in some debates… and will announce more details soon.

More Lincoln Civil War-Era Documents Added to Collection


Nearly 150 years after his death, more authentic Abraham Lincoln documents continue to be added to the collection of his papers and writings.

 

The latest finds come from the University of Alabama, which received them in a collection of American memorabilia donated to the school by a Birmingham businessman.

 

The two Civil War era documents show Lincoln taking action regarding pending treason trials of Baltimore officials, and taking steps to secure the release of seized rifles so they could be used in the war effort.

 

One historian says it shows just how involved Lincoln was in every aspect of the running of the war.

Donation Box Money Stolen from Fairgrounds


An estimated $100 in donations has been stolen from a box that had been placed on a fence at the state fairgrounds.

 

The State Journal-Register reports the box was set up by the fair museum foundation, which was collecting cash to restore an old float that had once been used in state fair parades.

 

Someone apparently used a device to dismantle locks to make off with the cash.

State: Thousands Of Illinois Workers Misclassified As Independent Contractors


If your employer considers you to be an independent contractor, state officials say there’s a chance you’re being used to take advantage of taxpayers. 

 

As many as 20,000 Illinois workers may be misclassified as independent contractors instead of full-time employees, according to the Department of Employment Security. 

 

As a result, those workers are not paying into unemployment or workers comp funds… but may still be able to get money from those funds if they’re laid off or hurt.

 

Harness Racing Could Be On Last Legs In Illinois


Harness racing has long been a fixture at the Illinois State Fair… but its long-range future in the state is in serious jeopardy. 

 

That’s according to the head of the Illinois Harness Horseman’s Association, who says horse tracks can’t compete with casinos… and says lawmakers need to allow tracks to add video gaming machines. 

 

Appearing on the 970 WMAY News Feed, Tony Somone says half of the harness racing season at Maywood Park near Chicago may have to be cancelled… and he’s not sure harness racing in Illinois will recover if that happens.

 

[Harness racing at the Illinois State Fair was cancelled again Monday because of poor, muddy track conditions.  Racing is now not expected to resume at the fair until Wednesday.]

 

Concealed Carry Process Moving More Smoothly


Even pro-gun groups say the process of getting a concealed carry permit in Illinois has gotten a lot better since the program began back in January. 

 

The head of the Illinois State Rifle Association says many people are getting permits within 35 days of submitting the application. Technology glitches at the outset slowed down that application process at first, but since then, around 69,000 permits have been issued.

Illinois Ranks Well In Study Of Motor Vehicle Costs


For once, Illinois is near the top of someone’s rankings. 

 

The Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois has the third-lowest cost for operating a motor vehicle.  The average state resident pays around $2,000 a year for maintenance, insurance and gas. 

 

Only Iowa and Ohio do better.  And downstate Illinois does better than the state as a whole… since higher Chicago prices drive up the statewide average.

Quinn Signs Law Allowing Traffic Offenders to Keep License After Signing Back of Ticket


You’ll no longer have to leave your drivers license with the cop who pulls you over for speeding or certain other traffic offenses.

 

Governor Pat Quinn has signed legislation that allows the driver to guarantee their appearance in court by signing the back of the ticket, rather than surrendering their license.

 

State Senator Mike Noland, who sponsored the bill, says giving up a drivers license for a ticket posed too much of an inconvenience for drivers.

 

The new law takes effect immediately.

Sen. Durbin Warns Against US Ground Operations in Iraq


U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is sounding the alarm about new American military action in Iraq.

 

Durbin says he understands why President Obama launched air strikes against Islamic extremists… especially because some Americans in the Iraqi city of Irbil are in danger from the jihadist insurgents.

 

But Durbin says Iraqis must stand up on their own against the extremists, and can’t rely on U.S. military force.

 

Durbin is adamantly opposed to any new use of American ground forces to put down the rebellion in Iraq.

Former State Lawmaker Dies of Fatal Heart Attack


A former Illinois lawmaker is dead at the age of 48.

 

Authorities think Mike Smith suffered a fatal heart attack at his home in Canton. Smith served 16 years in the Illinois House before losing his re-election bid in 2010. He was later appointed by Governor Pat Quinn to serve on the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board, a move that drew fire from critics who questioned whether Smith was qualified for the $94,000 a year job.

 

Quinn issued a statement praising Smith as an example of “what service should be.”

Poll: Independents Favor Rauner


Another poll gives Republican Bruce Rauner a big lead over Governor Pat Quinn.

 

That survey from “We Ask America” gives Rauner 51-percent of the vote to 38-percent for Quinn… and shows independents favoring Rauner by a wide margin.

 

The polling firm is an independent subsidiary of the Illinois Manufacturers Association.

 

As a result, the Quinn campaign questions the validity of the poll… and notes the same firm overestimated Rauner’s support in the March GOP primary, which wound up being closer than expected.

Plans for Land Acquisition for Stanford Avenue Extension Could Start Next Year


Another way to get easily from Springfield’s east side to the west side could be just a couple of years away.

 

The State Journal-Register reports land acquisition could start early next year on the next phase of the Stanford Avenue extension… running from Taylor Avenue to Fox Bridge Road.

 

Federal funds will pay for more than half of the $5.2 million project, with the city picking up the tab for the rest.

Senior and Scout Day Today at State Fair, Hog Calling Competition Sunday


Today is Senior Citizen and Scout Day at the Illinois State Fair. Highlights include harness racing… if weather and track conditions permit… and the free Million Dollar Quartet show in the Grandstand.

 

On Sunday, competitors gave their vocal cords a workout in the annual Husband and Hog Calling contests.

 

Chris Karr won the hog calling contest for the ninth time in 23 tries.

 

A Chicago woman, Cheryl O’Reilly, took the husband-calling title on her first attempt.

Quinn's Story Changes On Fixes To IDOT Political Hiring


Governor Pat Quinn says information on the steps IDOT is taking to stop improper political hiring will be released as soon as that process is complete.  But the administration had earlier said that process was complete. 

 

Quinn has not explained why the story has changed… GOP opponent Bruce Rauner calls it another “deception” on the part of the governor.

Rauner Running Mate Pokes Fun At Springfield In Email


Bruce Rauner’s running mate sent an email last year inquiring about job openings in a state agency… in which she also cracked a joke suggesting that Springfield is culturally backwards. 

 

In that 2013 email obtained by the Lee Newspapers, Evelyn Sanguinetti asked a staff attorney about possible jobs in the Department of Human Rights… and asked if “cow tipping” was a job requirement in Springfield.

 

Rauner's camp says the email went to a law school classmate, and denies that Sanguinetti was disparaging downstate Illinois.

Democrats Will Skip State Fair Political Rally; GOP Mocks Decision


For the second straight year, Illinois Democrats are skipping the usual political rally at the State Fair… opting instead for family entertainment at their rally Wednesday. 

 

Governor Pat Quinn says there will be plenty of speeches at a party gathering away from the fairgrounds earlier in the day. 

 

But Republicans say Quinn is scared that he will have to deal with noisy protestors… as he did at the fair a couple of years ago.  The GOP is sticking with its plans for a full political rally on the fairgrounds Thursday.

Treasurer Candidate Frerichs Disputes Unpaid Tax Bill


The Democratic candidate for state treasurer is refusing to pay a tax bill that’s been accumulating for six years. 

 

State senator Michael Frerichs says he was improperly assessed the tax on space he leases for his legislative offices.  But the state Department of Revenue has ruled that Frerichs does owe the money… which now totals more than $1800, including interest.

Medical Marijuana Applications Now Available Online


Illinois has now made applications available online for people who hope to obtain marijuana for treatment of certain medical conditions. 

 

But the state is asking people not to submit those applications until after Labor Day.  Patients and caregivers must submit the application in order to be certified as eligible to get pot for medicinal use.

 

Applications can be found at mcpp.illinois.gov.

2014 Illinois State Fair Officially Opens


Governor Pat Quinn has cut the ribbon to open the 2014 Illinois State Fair.

 

Rain was still falling as the governor officially kicked off the fair.  Weather has created some early disruptions, including the cancellation of Thursday's Twilight Parade and Friday's planned slate of harness racing.  But improved conditions are expected for the first weekend of the fair.

 

Quinn says he's looking forward to the fair, particularly some trips to his favorite food venue on the grounds, the pork tent.  The governor joked that a table there should be dedicated in his honor.

 

The fair runs through Sunday, August 17th.

Harness Racing Cancelled At State Fair Friday Because Of Wet Track Conditions


Wet weather continues to interfere with parts of the Illinois State Fair.

 

Fair officials cancelled Friday's slate of harness racing because the track was too wet for the horses to run.  Officials hope to make up some or all of those races over the weekend.

 

Rain also forced the cancellation of Thursday's State Fair Twilight Parade for the first time in memory.  But other events are going as scheduled at the fair... including tryouts for "American Idol" Friday and Saturday.

 

Stay with 970 WMAY for updates on the fair and the weather.

Soggy Start to Illinois State Fair


Preview night at the Illinois State Fair was kind of a washout… but organizers are hoping for better days ahead as the fair officially opens today.

 

The threat of heavy rain and lightning prompted fair management to cancel Thursday night’s Twilight Parade. And even though the heavy downpours didn’t materialize, far fewer people than normal came out for the fair’s free preview night.

 

But Governor Pat Quinn is scheduled to cut the ribbon officially opening the fair this morning… and after a chance of showers during the day today, the forecast is for dry conditions for opening weekend.

As City Prepares for Medical Marijuana, Houston Contemplates Tax


Medical marijuana may provide relief for local patients with serious conditions… and it may provide revenue for the City of Springfield.

 

Mayor Mike Houston says it is possible the city could seek to assess a special tax on medical marijuana transactions in the city… in addition to the sales taxes the city would normally collect.

 

It’s not known yet how much that tax would add to the cost of a dose of the drug for local patients.

 

The city is working on zoning rules for cannabis cultivation and dispensing centers… rules that would probably require those centers to be located downtown.

Houston Doubts Bel-Aire Chronic Nuisance Way to Address Problems


Mayor Mike Houston promises his administration will take another look at using the city’s chronic nuisance ordinance against the notorious Bel-Aire Motel… but sounds convinced that he knows what the outcome will be.

 

Aldermen this week unanimously directed the city to start building a chronic nuisance case against the residential motel… with an eye toward shutting, and tearing, it down.

 

But Houston says that ordinance has never been used in that way, and doubts that a judge would agree to evict dozens of people who haven’t done anything wrong.

 

Houston continues to pursue fines for building code violations, a path he says will lead to the city’s eventual takeover and condemnation of the Bel-Aire.

Christian Lawyers Motion to Quash Subpoena for Springfield Leaks Identification Info


Attorneys for Calvin Christian are trying to block a subpoena that seeks information about people posting to the Springfield Leaks website.

 

Christian is the local reporter and blogger who is suing Springfield police, alleging a coordinated campaign of harassment against him.

 

The attorney hired by the city for its defense is reportedly seeking information on those who have posted or commented online about Christian… even anonymously.

 

Christian’s lawyer says the subpoena should be rejected… and says even anonymous speech is constitutionally protected.

State Inspectors Check State Fair Ride Safety, Operator Background Checks


State Department of Labor inspectors have been busy checking the rides at the Illinois State Fair… and officials say inspectors will remain on-site throughout the fair to make sure the rides remain in good working condition.

 

The head of the ride safety division says the department does about 4,000 inspections annually… and also conducts background checks on carnival ride operators.

Next Step for Historic Sites Could be Shutting Down


Reduced hours are looming next month for more than a dozen state historic sites… including several in and near Springfield.

 

But the next step could be full shutdowns at some sites. That warning comes from state Historic Preservation Agency spokesman Chris Wills.

 

Wills says the cutbacks that take effect after Labor Day won’t make up for the 19% funding cut the agency sustained in the current state budget.

 

It’s not known yet how many sites might close, or which ones may be targeted, but Wills says the cuts won’t affect the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

State Fair Parade Cancelled Because Of Weather


The annual Illinois State Fair Twilight Parade has been cancelled.

 

The governor's office says concerns about flooding rains and lightning prompted officials to call off the event.

 

Thursday night's free preview night on the Fairgrounds will go on as scheduled.

 

The fair is scheduled to officially open Friday morning.

Springfield Prepares For Medical Marijuana; May Impose Special Tax On Those Operations


Springfield is preparing for the eventual arrival of medical marijuana businesses. 

 

Mayor Mike Houston says the state’s pilot program could allow one cannabis growing operation and two dispensaries for the drug in the city.  Zoning requirements mean those businesses would have to be located downtown. 

 

Houston says there could be some backlash against businesses producing and selling pot, even for medical reasons, but ultimately thinks it fits with the city’s status as a regional medical center.  Houston says the city could also seek to impose sales and other taxes on those marijuana operations.

 

Houston May Not Sign Ordinance Diverting $1 Million To Pensions


Mayor Mike Houston admits it probably wouldn’t do much good to veto an ordinance that diverts $1 million in city revenues to police and fire pensions.  But Houston says he may not sign it either. 

 

Taking no action at all means the ordinance would still go into effect in two weeks, but Houston says it would allow him to express his concern over the measure. 

 

Appearing live on 970 WMAY's "Jim Leach Show," the mayor said diverting the money could force the city to dip into its savings to pay upcoming expenses, including CWLP’s debt load.

 

IHPA: Historic Site Closures Likely If Funding Not Restored


Scaling back hours at some Springfield-area historic sites could be just the beginning of problems for local tourism. 

 

A spokesman for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency says unless lawmakers restore the funding that was cut in this year’s budget, some sites may have to be closed indefinitely.  Appearing live on 970 WMAY, Chris Wills could not say how many sites or which ones might shut down, but he says the cuts would not affect the Lincoln Presidential Library or Museum. 

 

Several local sites, including the Old State Capitol, will go to four-day-a-week schedules after Labor Day.

State Fair Triggers Traffic Change Around Fairgrounds, Twilight Parade This Afternoon


Travel around the north end of Springfield gets a bit more complicated, starting this morning.

 

The one-way counterclockwise traffic pattern around the State Fairgrounds is now in effect, in preparation for tonight’s preview night and tomorrow’s official Opening Day at the fair.

 

In addition, a number of north end streets will be closed this afternoon and tonight for the State Fair Twilight Parade, which is scheduled to step off at 6pm… despite the threat of rain.

 

The City of Springfield is also prohibiting parking on all roads from 5th Street to Peoria Road and Sangamon Avenue to Griffiths… starting Friday and continuing through the end of the fair, which runs until August 17th.

City Council Unanimously Approves Bel-Aire Chronic Nuisance Measure


Springfield aldermen have unanimously directed the city to begin proceedings under its chronic nuisance ordinance in hopes of shutting down the notorious Bel-Aire Motel.

 

There was no debate over Alderman Cory Jobe’s resolution… even though Mayor Mike Houston’s administration has been skeptical about using that ordinance when there are dozens of individuals tenants all still residing at the rundown facility.

 

The city is also continuing to pursue other remedies against the Bel-Aire, including imposition of hefty fines for numerous building code violations.

Aldermen Approve One Million Dollars Infusion for Public Safety Pensions


One alderman calls it merely “symbolic,” but the City Council has approved using an extra $1 million in revenue as a payment toward the unfunded liability in the police and fire pension funds.

 

The money comes from higher than expected “PILOT” payments from City Water Light and Power to the general fund.

 

The million dollars represents just a fraction of the $230 million unfunded liability, but Alderman Joe McMenamin says it sends a message to the mayor’s office that it has to get more aggressive about the problem.

 

City budget director Bill McCarty has warned that the money may be needed for other pressing expenses.

Police Identify Suspect of This Week's Bank Robbery


Springfield police have now identified a suspect in this week’s bank robbery at Marine Bank on North Fourth Street.

 

Detectives have obtained an arrest warrant for 34-year-old Bradford Moss. He’s wanted for the Monday holdup, in which a man who implied he had a gun entered the bank and demanded cash.

 

Moss was released from prison just last April, after serving time on a drug charge.

Rauner and Quinn Go After Each Other Over Off-Shore Investments


Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is accusing Governor Pat Quinn of hypocrisy in the latest skirmish between the candidates.

 

Quinn blasted Rauner this week after reports that Rauner has placed some of his sizable fortune in off-shore accounts in the Cayman Islands.

 

Quinn says Rauner is using the tropical haven to dodge paying taxes on the money.

 

But Rauner says Quinn will be receiving a pension through state funds that are also invested in multiple foreign accounts… including in the Caymans.

 

Quinn’s camp responds that the governor has no say in where those pension funds are invested.

Sangamon County Clerk Aiello May Run For City Clerk


In the latest possible twist to next year’s city elections, Sangamon County Clerk Joe Aiello is considering a run for Springfield City Clerk.

 

Incumbent city clerk Cecilia Tumulty can’t run again because of term limits.

 

Aiello tells the State Journal-Register that he hasn’t made up his mind yet, but if he does run, he will take his name off of the November ballot, where he is running unopposed for re-election.

Durbin Praises Walgreen's Decision; Oberweis Attacks Durbin


U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says Illinois-based Walgreen’s made the right decision in keeping its corporate headquarters in the U.S., instead of moving overseas to lower its corporate tax bill. 

 

Durbin had been a vocal critic of that possible Walgreen’s move.  In an interview for the 970 WMAY News Feed, Durbin said Walgreen’s realized leaving the U.S. would alienate American consumers. 

 

But Durbin’s GOP opponent Jim Oberweis accuses Durbin of attacking “job creators” like Walgreen’s while doing nothing to ease their tax burden.

Blood Donations Down Locally; Call For Donors Goes Out


Blood donors are needed immediately. 

 

That’s the word from the Central Illinois Community Blood Center, which has seen a dropoff in donations during the summer months.  The agency says summer vacations and holidays… and an inability to schedule blood drives at schools during the summer… have led to a 20-percent decline in the normal rate of donations. 

 

All blood types are needed, but especially Types O-negative and AB.

State Fair Traffic Changes Take Effect Starting Thursday


North-enders may find their usual route disrupted starting Thursday morning… when the annual change in traffic patterns around the State Fairgrounds kicks in. 

 

Traffic will be one way counterclockwise around the fairgrounds starting around 5:30am… and continuing until the fair concludes on August 17th

 

In addition, streets from 5th Street to Peoria Road and Sangamon Avenue to Griffiths are off-limits to parking, starting Friday.  And some north-end roads will be closed Thursday afternoon and evening for the State Fair Twilight Parade.

State Police To Help Patrol Chicago Streets


Illinois State Police troopers will assist Chicago police with patrols in some of the Windy City’s most dangerous neighborhoods. 

 

Governor Pat Quinn says the contingent of 40 officers is being dispatched at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s request.  The troopers will assist in the search for violent felons who are currently wanted by law enforcement.

Rauner Says Quinn Also Benefits From Cayman Holdings


Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner says Governor Pat Quinn is a hypocrite. 

 

Quinn has bashed Rauner over revelations that some of Rauner’s fortune is being held in off-shore Cayman Islands accounts.  But Rauner’s camp says Quinn’s pension and those of other public employees come from funds which also have investments in the Caymans and other foreign countries. 

 

Quinn’s camp says the governor has no hand in how those investment decisions are made.

Walgreen's to Stay in Illinois


Illinois-based Walgreen’s will keep its corporate headquarters in the U.S…. abandoning plans to declare itself a foreign company to lower its corporate tax bill.

 

The drug store chain could have made the move as it acquires a major Swiss pharmaceutical company… but it had come under intense political heat for considering the strategy, known as “inversion.”

 

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says he’s glad that Walgreen’s is staying… but still wants President Obama to take steps to make it harder for American companies to use inversion to avoid taxes.

 

Durbin’s GOP opponent Jim Oberweis says it’s troubling that Durbin is using his power to, quote, “attack Illinois job creators.”

Quinn Attacks Rauner For Off-Shore Accounts


Governor Pat Quinn suggests Republican opponent Bruce Rauner is, quote, “unpatriotic” for putting some of his wealth in off-shore Cayman Islands accounts.

 

Quinn says there is no reason for Rauner funds to be in the Cayman Islands except to avoid paying U.S. taxes under a veil of secrecy.

 

Rauner’s campaign says the candidate has followed the law and fully disclosed his finances to the federal government.

 

But the campaign hasn’t released Rauner’s 2013 taxes yet, and continues to withhold some parts of earlier returns.

Jobe to Seek Re-Election to Ward 6, Says More Work to be Done


Even though he says his exploratory committee encouraged him to run for mayor, Springfield Ward 6 Alderman Cory Jobe says he will instead run for re-election next year.

 

Jobe says he made his decision for “personal reasons,” but did not elaborate.

 

He did say that he thinks there is more work to be done in his ward, and vows to keep working for infrastructure improvements and to get rid of rundown buildings… such as the Bel-Aire Motel.

 

A Jobe proposal directing the city to use its chronic nuisance ordinance to address the Bel-Aire mess goes before the City Council tonight.

Two Fatalities in Area Accidents


Two area residents have died in separate traffic accidents.

 

A Springfield man was killed Tuesday morning when he was struck by a vehicle as he walked in the roadway on South Dirksen Parkway.

 

The truck driver told authorities he could not see 51-year-old Harding Johnson, who was reportedly wearing dark clothing when the accident occurred just before daybreak.

 

Meanwhile, a Loami man died when he was ejected from his vehicle after running a stop sign in Morgan County.

 

32-year-old Patrick Grider was killed… a passenger in his vehicle and the driver of the other car were seriously injured.

Man Faces Criminal Charges After Uttering Obscenities During Live TV Broadcast


A Forsyth man is facing criminal charges after he disrupted a live television broadcast by shouting an obscene phrase at Decatur Celebration last weekend.

 

The incident occurred as WAND-TV anchor Sean Streaty was broadcasting live from the event.

 

During the broadcast, authorities say the 18-year-old man grabbed Streaty’s microphone and shouted the phrase. Video of the incident went viral on the Internet, allowing officials to identify the man.

 

The Decatur Herald-and-Review says he will face charges of battery and disorderly conduct.

Report: Walgreen's Abandons Plan To Relocate Overseas


Illinois-based Walgreen’s is reportedly giving up the idea of declaring itself a foreign firm in order to lower its U.S. corporate tax bill. 

 

The drug store chain had considered using a legal tactic called “inversion” to acquire an overseas company and then declare itself foreign-owned.  But after harsh criticism from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and others, the company has now reportedly decided to continue classifying itself as an American corporation, according to a British media report.

Victim Identified In Dirksen Parkway Car-Pedestrian Crash


A pedestrian is dead after being struck by a vehicle early Tuesday on South Dirksen Parkway near Dotmar Road. 

 

Coroner Cinda Edwards identifies the victim as 51-year-old Harding Johnson of Springfield was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

The accident closed Dirksen for several hours while accident reconstructionists worked at the scene.  That crash is still under investigation; no citations have been issued.

Loami Man Dies In Morgan County Crash


A Loami man is dead following a crash in Morgan County early Tuesday. 

 

State police say a truck driven by the 32-year-old victim ran a stop sign on Nortonville Road at Illinois Route 111 and collided with another vehicle.  The victim and a passenger were ejected from the truck.  That passenger, and the driver of the second vehicle, both sustained serious injuries. 

 

That crash remains under investigation. Stay with 970 WMAY for more details.

State Historians Verify Lincoln Handwriting In Library Book


State historians have verified that an inscription in a book from the public library in Clinton was, in fact, written by Abraham Lincoln. 

 

The book claimed to be a scientific study of differences between the races… and was used by slavery supporters to justify the practice.  Experts believe that Lincoln may have borrowed the book to keep track of the arguments being embraced by his opponents… and wrote the name of the book’s owner inside the front cover. 

 

Officials at the library in Clinton hope to raise money to restore and display the tattered copy of “Types of Mankind.”

Jobe Chooses Re-Election Bid Instead Of Race For Mayor


After spending months considering a run for mayor, Springfield Alderman Cory Jobe has announced that he will instead run for re-election next year. 

 

Jobe calls it a “personal decision” that he made against the wishes of the exploratory committee that he set up to explore a possible mayoral campaign. 

 

Jobe says there is more work to be done in Ward 6, and believes his constituents there deserve someone with the passion and commitment that he says he has brought to the job.

Fatal Accident on Dirksen Under Investigation


Traffic is being cleared this hour around the scene of a fatal traffic accident at Dirksen and Dotmar in Springfield.

 

Police confirm a fatal accident but could not provide any other details as the investigation continues.

 

The accident happened just before 5 Tuesday morning. Stay with 970 WMAY for more details on this developing story.

Man Injured in Shots Fired at 1800 South Street Monday Evening


A man is recovering from non-life threatening injuries after numerous shots were fired around the 1800 block of South Street late Monday morning.

 

Springfield Police say they are still investigating the incident that also led to two windows of two different houses being shot out.

 

Deputy Police Chief Denis Arnold says the victim says he was walking in the area when he was shot, but did not provide any other details.

Historic Sites to Scale Back Hours of Operation Because of Lack of Funding


More than a dozen Illinois historic sites… including several in and around Springfield… will scale back their hours right after the Labor Day weekend, to make up for a significant shortfall in state funding.

 

The budget approved by lawmakers this spring did not include enough money for a full year of operations.

 

So the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency is putting those sites on a reduced schedule. Sites including the Old State Capitol, Lincoln’s Tomb, and the Dana-Thomas House will only be open four days a week, starting September 3rd.

 

And Lincoln’s New Salem will move to a five-day-a-week schedule two months earlier than usual.

Clinics Vaccinate Kids, Provide Physicals, Before Start of School


Springfield school officials think a big public awareness push is paying off… and they expect far fewer students will be held out of classes this year for failing to have the required immunizations.

 

More than 90 students received full physicals Monday during special clinics set up at Washington and Jefferson Middle Schools… and more students got vaccinations only. A similar clinic will be held again today from 8am to 2pm at both schools.

 

District 186 has been warning parents for months to act more quickly, because of a tightened deadline for getting those shots.

 

At the two “balanced calendar” schools that opened last month, only one student is currently being held out of class for non-compliance.

School Board President: Leave Drama At Home


With classes starting in most Springfield schools in less than two weeks, the head of the Springfield school board has some advice for teachers, parents and students.

 

Mike Zimmers is urging teachers to come back to school with a positive attitude and to set high expectations for students… and offers similar advice to parents.

 

And for students, Zimmers recommends that they, quote, “leave the drama at the door.”

 

Most District 186 schools open for the year on August 18th.

Police Looking for Suspected Bank Robber


Springfield police are continuing their search for a man who indicated he had a gun and made off with an unknown amount of cash from a bank near downtown.

 

It happened Monday afternoon at Marine Bank on North 4th Street. The suspect is described as a black male in his 20s, around five-foot-five, wearing a black button-down shirt, khakis and a green army-style hat. He also had a tattoo that reportedly reads “Anya” on his neck.

 

The suspect reportedly fled on foot. Anyone with information on the crime is asked to call Springfield police or Crimestoppers.

Former Newspaper Man Gene Callahan Remembered By Both Sides


Politicians on both sides of the aisle are remembering Gene Callahan for his honesty and integrity.

 

Callahan was a former newspaperman who became a right-hand man for Democratic politicians including Paul Simon and Alan Dixon. Callahan’s other love was baseball… and after leaving politics, he became the sport’s first full-time lobbyist.

 

Callahan died early Monday at his Springfield home. Democrats like Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin paid tribute… but so did Republicans from Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to Congressman Rodney Davis.

 

A celebration of Callahan’s life will be held Friday from 2 to 6 at Norb Andy’s, the downtown tavern where Callahan had attended a fundraiser for his daughter… Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos… just hours before he died.

Bank Robbery Near Downtown Under Investigation


Springfield police are investigating a bank robbery near downtown Monday afternoon. 

 

Officers were called to the Marine Bank branch on North 4th Street and were told that a man had entered the bank, implied that he had a weapon, and demanded cash.  The suspect is described as a black male, five-foot-five, wearing a black button-down shirt, khakis and a green hat.  He also reportedly had a distinctive neck tattoo. 

 

The suspect fled the bank on foot and headed south.  Anyone with information on the crime is asked to call Springfield police or Crimestoppers.

Budget Cuts Force Reduced Hours At Many Illinois Historic Sites


13 state historic sites… including several in and around Springfield… will have reduced hours starting next month because of the lack of funding in the new state budget. 

 

The reductions, scheduled to take effect after Labor Day, will reduce operations from five days a week to four at sites including the Old State Capitol, Lincoln’s Tomb, the Dana-Thomas House and the Vachel Lindsay Home. Lincoln’s New Salem will switch to a five-day-a-week schedule two months earlier than usual.

Springfield Public Schools' Immunization Push Appears To Be Working


The push by Springfield public schools to remind parents to get their children immunized early appears to be paying off. 

 

As of last Friday, only eight students at the city’s two balanced calendar schools had not turned in the required paperwork showing that they had all the necessary shots. 

 

The district is holding immunization clinics today (Monday) and Tuesday, and again next Saturday… in hopes of motivating parents to take care of getting the vaccinations before school starts August 18th.

Veteran Springfield Political Figure Gene Callahan Dies At 80


A longtime Springfield political figure has passed away. 

 

Gene Callahan died early Monday morning.  Callahan was a newspaper reporter who then became an aide to former Illinois Governor Sam Shapiro and Lieutenant Governor Paul Simon… and spent years as a top staffer for Alan Dixon in state government and in the U.S. Senate. 

 

After Dixon’s defeat in 1992, Callahan became a top lobbyist for Major League Baseball.  He was the father of Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. Gene Callahan was 80.  

 

A celebration of Callahan’s life is planned for this Friday from 2 to 6pm at Norb Andy’s downtown.  Staab Polk Memorial Home is in charge of arrangements.

All Clear Sounded After State Office Building Was Briefly Evacuated


Everything is OK after a state office building was briefly evacuated this morning. 

 

Springfield Fire Chief Ken Fustin says crews responded to a smoke alarm at the Illinois Department of Public Health building on West Jefferson… and found smoke in the building when they arrived.  Fustin says the smoke apparently was coming from a malfunctioning light fixture. 

 

That problem was quickly corrected and workers were allowed back into the building a short time later.

Rauner's Cayman Holdings Political Issue in Race for Governor


Bruce Rauner’s campaign says the Republican candidate for governor followed all tax laws and fully disclosed his investments in off-shore accounts.

 

But Governor Pat Quinn’s camp is attacking Rauner’s use of those Cayman Islands accounts… suggesting it’s a way for the wealthy businessman to avoid paying taxes.

 

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that several of those foreign investments are tied to Rauner’s former holdings in the equity firm GTCR. Rauner says those investments did not affect his personal tax rate.

 

A Quinn spokesman says even if the strategy is legal… it’s still wrong.

Treasurer Langfelder Latest Candidate for Springfield Mayor


The latest candidate in next year’s race for Springfield mayor says he will run on his own merits… not against anyone else.

 

Even so, Jim Langfelder appeared to take a veiled shot at incumbent Mayor Mike Houston during his weekend announcement of his formal entry into the race. Langfelder said his decisions would be motivated only by what is “best for Springfield,” and not by concerns about getting re-elected.

 

Houston has come under fire for going back on his pledge to serve only one term, and instead deciding to seek re-election next spring.

 

Langfelder, Houston, and county auditor Paul Palazzolo have all announced their candidacies for the 2015 mayor’s race… and Alderman Cory Jobe is still considering it.

Interim Legislature IG May Have Conflicts of Interest


The interim inspector general for the Illinois legislature may have conflicts of interest involving several top lawmakers.

 

970 WMAY’s watchdog partner, the Better Government Association, found that Bill Roberts represented House Speaker Mike Madigan a decade ago during a federal investigation into whether Madigan misspent state funds. That probe was closed in 2005 with no charges filed.

 

Roberts is a managing partner in the law firm Hinshaw and Culbertson, which received $40,000 from committees controlled by Madigan. That firm also made political donations to other top lawmakers, including Senate President John Cullerton and Senate GOP leader Christine Radogno.

 

Lawmakers say Roberts… a former U.S. Attorney and one-time aide to Republican governor Jim Edgar… is fair and impartial.

Springfield Man Lands Homebuilt Airplane on Logan County Highway


Illinois State Police say no one was hurt after a small plane made an emergency landing on a Logan County highway Sunday afternoon.

 

Roger Thompson of Springfield was flying a homebuilt aircraft home from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, when his plane developed a mechancial problem, causing it to lose all power.

 

Thompson was able to set the plane down safely on Route 121, near Logan County road 2150.

 

The FAA and NTSB were notified of the incident. The aircraft was towed from the scene.

Despite Toledo Water Problems, Chicago Water is Safe


Officials say Chicago’s water supply is safe… and is not currently threatened by the type of toxins that have rendered Toledo’s water unsafe to drink.

 

Like Chicago, Toledo gets its water from one of the Great Lakes, but the Ohio community’s water has been tainted by toxins produced by a large algae bloom in Lake Erie.

 

Meanwhile, Governor Pat Quinn has signed legislation intended to further protect Illinois drinking water. One of those bills lets law enforcement collect and transport pharmaceuticals and other controlled substances to approved EPA disposal sites.

 

Often such drugs are just flushed down the toilet… and can potentially threaten water supplies.

Decatur Man Allegedly Strangles Woman Over Cookies


Authorities say a Decatur man tried to kill his female roommate… because she ate three Chips Ahoy cookies that he wanted.

 

Police reports say 23-year-old Allen Hall threatened the 49-year-old woman after discovering she had eaten the cookies.

 

She thought he was joking… and told him that if he was going to kill her, then go ahead. Hall then allegedly knocked the woman down and began to strangle her.

 

Hall’s landlady and the victim’s husband reportedly pulled him off the woman.

 

Hall is being held on $75,000 bond.

Plane Makes Emergency Landing On Logan County Highway


Illinois State Police say no one was hurt after a small plane made an emergency landing on a Logan County highway Sunday afternoon.

 

Roger Thompson of Springfield was flying a homebuilt aircraft home from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, when his plane developed a mechancial problem, causing it to lose all power.  Thompson was able to set the plane down safely on Route 121, near Logan County road 2150.

 

The FAA and NTSB were notified of the incident.  The aircraft was towed from the scene.

Report: Rauner Diverted Portion Of Personal Wealth To Cayman Islands Account


Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner has reportedly diverted some of his fortune into off-shore accounts in the Cayman Islands, a technique often used by wealthy Americans to avoid paying taxes on that money.

 

The Chicago Sun-Times says it has confirmed the existence of the Cayman accounts.  That drew sharp criticism from Governor Pat Quinn's campaign, which accuses Rauner of trying to evade paying his fair share.

 

Rauner's campaign says the candidate has fully complied with all tax laws.

Langfelder Formally Launches Campaign For Springfield Mayor


Springfield City Treasurer Jim Langfelder has formally kicked off his campaign for mayor. 

 

Surrounded by family, friends and supporters, Langfelder vowed that if elected, he would be motivated only by doing what is “best for Springfield.”  Among those in attendance for the announcement was Langfelder’s father, former mayor Ossie Langfelder, who was marking his 88th birthday.

 

Langfelder says his years of public and private sector experience qualify him for the job.  But opponent Paul Palazzolo is already on the attack… accusing Langfelder of sitting silently while Springfield’s city finances and pension funds fell into disarray.

Springfield Prepares For Medical Marijuana Centers


The City of Springfield is taking steps to prepare for medical marijuana cultivation and distribution centers. 

 

The city has prepared draft zoning requirements… including rules that prohibit cultivation centers within 2500 feet of a school, day care or residential neighborhoods… and impose a 1,000 foot limit for distribution centers. 

 

The city is asking the Planning and Zoning Commission to conduct a public hearing on those proposed rules.

Rauner Pledge Triggers Accusations Of Vote-Buying


Charity… or bribery? 

 

Opposite sides of the aisle have opposing views on GOP governor candidate Bruce Rauner’s pledge to donate $1 million of his personal fortune to help African-American businesses in Chicago obtain loans. 

 

Rauner supporters say it’s part of his long history of supporting worthy causes… but opponents accuse Rauner of trying to use his wealth to buy votes.

Quinn Administration Faces New Allegations Of Misspent Tax Dollars


Governor Pat Quinn’s administration is facing new questions about how it doled out tax dollars to Chicago-area groups… and got little or nothing in return. 

 

The Chicago Tribune reports Quinn staffers chose a Chicago agency to issue federally-backed loans to businesses that suffered storm damage in 2010.  That troubled agency never made a single loan… but was allowed to keep $150,000 for “administrative expenses.”

District 186 Immunization Clinics Set For Monday, Tuesday


District 186 parents will get more chances to get their children immunized before the start of school. 

 

Immunization clinics will be held Monday from 11am to 6pm and Tuesday from 9am to 2pm at Washington and Jefferson Middle Schools.  Those clinics coincide with registration for the new school year.  [A final clinic is planned for next Saturday, Aug. 9th, from 9-11am at Springfield High School.]

 

This year, students will only have ten days after the start of classes to show proof of immunization before they are prohibited from attending class until the paperwork is turned in.

SPD: Zero Indication of Another Pipe Bomb Incident Won't Keep Them From Downtown This Weekend


Police say there is zero indication another pipe bomb could surface, but that won’t stop them from looking out for suspicious devices in downtown Springfield this weekend.

 

The Downhome Music Beer and Art Festival is expected to bring large crowds downtown Friday and Saturday.

 

It’s the first downtown event since a pipe bomb was found on E. Washington Monday.

 

Deputy Police Chief Dan Mounce says police will be vigilant this weekend to spot any potentially dangerous devices.

 

The investigation into Monday’s pipe bomb is ongoing.

Palazollo: Campaign Finance Committee for Mayoral Bid to Grow


More names will be added soon to a mayoral candidate’s Campaign Finance Committee.

 

Paul Palazollo says the 25 names on the committee right now are not official endorsements, but people like former Mayor Karan Hasara and former State Senator Larry Bombke will be involved in seeking out donations for the mayoral bid.

 

When it comes to campaign donations that could hint at a conflict of interest, Palazollo says he doesn’t want to speak in hypothetical but says he won’t be beholden to anyone making donations to his campaign.

Native American Man Tries to Settle Discrimination Suit Against State Over Sling Bow


An Illinois man suing the Department of Natural Resources for discrimination says he offered to settle but the state wasn’t interested.

 

John Huffer, also known as Chief AJ, says the state is discriminating against his modified sling shot because he’s Native American.

 

He says that became evident after the state refused to accept engineering reports saying his sling bow was strong enough to kill big game.

 

A federal judge gave the Illinois Attorney General’s office until Monday to respond to the suit.

Kincaid Mayor Trial Gets Postponed Until September


The embattled mayor of Kincaid will get more time to work out a defense after a trial was postponed Thursday.

 

The State Journal-Register reports that Mayor Doug Thomas’ defense attorney argued that the misconduct charge filed June 10th is different than the order of protection and possession charges that kicked off the case in February.

 

A Christian County Judge agreed to postpone the jury trial until September 15th.

 

Thomas will stand trial for misusing public resources as well as two counts of possession of a controlled substance in addition to a violation of an order of protection.

Five Injured in Accident Involving Passenger Vehicle and Two Semis


Five people are recovering from non-life threatening injuries after a passenger vehicle collided with two semi-trucks on I-55 Thursday morning.

 

The passenger vehicle carrying a family of five was headed onto the off-ramp of the highway at the Clear Lake exit when their vehicle was struck from behind by a truck.

 

That collision sent the vehicle into the trailer of another truck.

 

The family of 5, ages 5 to 26, were taken to Memorial Medical Center.

 

Charges are pending a crash investigation.

American Idol Tryouts at the First Friday and Saturday of State Fair


You could be a star on American Idol with a chance to tryout at the Illinois State Fair.

 

During Thursday’s media preview day fair manager Amy Bliefnick says the final pieces for the juried competition came together late Wednesday.

 

Though Bliefnick says the big named judges won’t be present, it still gives fairgoers a chance to compete and move on to the next stage of the nationally televised singing competition show.

 

The tryouts will be the first Friday and Saturday of the fair, August 8th and 9th. Singers from the last season of American Idol will perform at the Grandstand Friday August 8th.

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