Illinois’s top education official has a dire warning if lawmakers proceed with a budget that slashes hundreds of millions from public schools.
Christopher Koch calls such cuts, quote, “devastating.” In an interview for the 970 WMAY News Feed, Koch says some Illinois districts won’t be able to keep their doors open for the full school year if they sustain those cuts… and other districts will face deep and damaging cutbacks in teaching staff, course offerings, textbooks and equipment.
Koch has proposed increasing education funding in the state by a billion dollars next year… but some legislative budget proposals call for reducing it by that amount.
The two Republicans running for Sangamon County Sheriff say they are still friends… and will remain so when the campaign is over next week. But Wes Barr and Jack Campbell traded some pointed attacks during a live joint appearance Tuesday morning on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show.”
Barr accused Campbell of violating merit commission rules by hanging on to his job in the department while running for sheriff… and questioned what Sheriff Neil Williamson is doing while Campbell is running most day-to-day operations in the department.
Campbell says Barr has misread the merit rules… and accuses Barr of being uninformed about the department’s budget, training procedures and other policies.
The impact of this harsh winter is being felt in the local housing market, according to the Capital Area Association of Realtors.
The group blames February’s snow and bitter cold for a sharp drop in both home sales and median home prices. 201 homes were sold locally last month… down nearly 15-percent from the 231 sold in February of 2013. Median home prices through the first two months of the year are down 28-percent from a year ago.
But the association is optimistic that those trends will turn around as temperatures warm up.
This wild winter is about to take Central Illinois on another roller-coaster ride.
Temperatures are expected to soar into the 70s this afternoon… and 12 hours later, we could be under a blanket of snow.
A winter weather advisory has been issued for late tonight through midday on Wednesday.
The National Weather Service says some parts of the listening area could get three to five inches of snow from the approaching winter storm, although snow totals in Springfield are expected to be at the low end of that scale.
High winds could also be a part of the storm… which could create tricky driving conditions on Wednesday.
Stay with 970 WMAY for updates on the developing winter weather.
Reporter Calvin Christian’s lawsuit alleging that he was the target of a widespread campaign of harassment by Springfield police will be allowed to proceed.
Federal judge Colin Bruce has rejected the city’s attempt to have Christian’s civil rights complaint dismissed.
The city had argued that Christian’s suit did not offer enough evidence of a conspiracy against him to allow the case to proceed.
But the judge rejected that argument and said the suit can go forward.
Christian alleges he was targeted by police because of his efforts to seek internal affairs files and expose lax disciplinary standards within the department.
Chaos in Kincaid… the small Christian County town is dealing with turmoil following the arrests of its mayor and police chief in separate cases.
But at a village board meeting Monday night, it was the city clerk who was fired by Kincaid’s board of trustees… while the chief kept his job on a tie vote, and the mayor refused to resign.
Chief Richard Adams was arrested last month on charges that he used village personnel on village time to repair his private residence… while Mayor Doug Thomas is accused of drug possession and violating an order of protection.
The State Journal-Register reports Thomas cast the tie vote that blocked the removal of Chief Adams.
But the board voted to fire Clerk Cindy Orrison over her job performance… promping Orrison to yell “Kiss my ass” as she stormed out of the board meeting.
Bruce Rauner says he’s not the “one-percent”… he’s the “point-oh-one percent.”
But Rauner says despite his estimated billion-dollar fortune, he’s a regular guy… who drinks beer, smokes cigars and rides a Harley.
And Rauner says he connects well with everyday people, unlike another recent, very wealthy Republican hopeful… Mitt Romney.
But Rauner’s closest competition in next week’s GOP primary, Kirk Dillard, says Rauner simply doesn’t have a clue about the challenges and concerns facing average Illinoisans.
St. Patrick’s Day is already underway in Springfield… as far as Springfield police are concerned.
The department says it has already begun extra enforcement details to crack down on drunk driving… which seems to spike around St. Patrick’s celebrations.
SPD says it will also target seat belt offenses during its special patrols over the next week.
Don’t let the springlike weather fool you. Winter isn’t done with us yet.
The National Weather Service says a new storm system moving into Central Illinois Tuesday night into Wednesday could drop as much as four new inches of snow on the Springfield area… along with winds gusting to 40 miles per hour.
Stay with 970 WMAY and wmay.com for updates on the developing weather situation.
Springfield police are getting an early start on St. Patrick’s Day. Noting that the celebration is often associated with heavy drinking, SPD is already launching extra patrols aimed at catching drunk drivers.
Special patrols will also target people violating seat belt laws. Police recommend using a designated driver if you plan to indulge at your St. Paddy’s party.
Bruce Rauner says he’s not part of the “one-percent”… he’s part of the “point-oh-one percent.”
But the GOP candidate for governor says he’s far different than another wealthy Republican candidate of recent years, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Rauner tells the Chicago Sun-Times that he’s a pretty regular guy who drinks beer, smokes cigars and rides a Harley.
Opponent Kirk Dillard says Rauner’s billion-dollar fortune was the result of “pay-to-play,” and shows that Rauner can’t relate to the concerns of average Illinoisans.
State taxpayers are picking up the tab for expenses related to the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
Three lawyers have been appointed as special assistant attorneys general… and will be paid up to $200 an hour in taxpayer funds through the Treasurer’s office to help with Rutherford’s defense. A former employee claims he was harassed and coerced into doing political work on state time.
Rutherford has also spent $27,000 for investigations into those claims… but has refused to release the results because of the pending litigation.
It was a late night for Amtrak passengers bound for Springfield Sunday night… after the train was delayed for several hours when it struck and killed a pedestrian near Pontiac.
Amtrak says someone was trespassing on the tracks when they were struck and killed. The train had left Chicago and was headed to Springfield and then on to St. Louis. None of the 233 passengers on that train was hurt.
More than half of all Illinoisans feel “less safe” with a concealed carry law now on the books in the state… according to a new statewide survey.
The poll found 52-percent of those surveyed felt less safe now that it is legal for people with permits to carry concealed weapons in public. Only 32-percent said they feel more safe. At the same time, the poll found less support for gun control and restrictions than in a similar survey a year ago.
The new poll of 1,001 registered voters, conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU Carbondale, has a margin of error of plus-or-minus three-and-a-half percent.
An employee of the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office has been slapped with a 15-day suspension without pay and lost the use of his state car after an investigation found he was conducting personal and political business on state time.
The report from the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission found John Karnes was routinely at home or doing personal errands… when his time cards and other documents indicated he was supposed to be on the job.
The report also concluded that Karnes had used his state car, on state time, for activities related to Secretary of State Jesse White’s re-election campaign.
Governor Pat Quinn says he is standing behind his director of Natural Resources… despite recent controversies involving top staffers in the office.
One DNR official resigned when an investigation revealed he was taking part in fishing tournaments while supposedly on paid medical leave.
Two others involved in the regulation of the mining industry have been disciplined for improperly accepting or funneling political money from mining companies.
A Quinn spokesman says the governor still has confidence in DNR director Marc Miller.
New polls suggest the Republican race for governor is tightening… and that Governor Pat Quinn will have his work cut out for him, no matter which Republican opponent he faces.
The latest Chicago Tribune survey still puts Bruce Rauner in the lead… but suggests state senator Kirk Dillard is closing the gap.
But the poll still gives Rauner more than a 10-point edge over Dillard, with just days to go till the primary. Meanwhile, Quinn’s general election support remains soft, even among his own party.
A separate survey finds that fewer than half of Democrats say they will vote for Quinn in the general election, no matter who’s running against him.
A longtime local prosecutor and judge has died.
Services are still pending for Don Cadagin… who died of an apparent stroke while vacationing in South Carolina.
Cadagin was appointed as Sangamon County State’s Attorney in 1986. He became a circuit judge in 1994 and retired in 2005.
Don Cadagin was 73.
The man convicted of murdering seven people in a Chicago-area Brown’s Chicken restaurant in 1993 has been awarded nearly half-a-million dollars for a beating he sustained while in custody.
A jury ruled that James Degorski was entitled to the $451,000 payout after being battered by a Cook County Jail guard on the first night that Degorski was in custody for the murders.
But Degorski may never see any of the money. The state Department of Corrections will claim most of it as reimbursement for the costs of Degorski’s incarceration.
And family members of his victims say they may pursue wrongful death lawsuits to claim a share of what’s left.
A potential political problem for Governor Pat Quinn has potentially gotten a whole lot bigger.
The results of a scathing audit of an anti-violence program launched by Quinn in 2010 have been forwarded on to law enforcement officials, including the U.S. Attorney for the Central District, James Lewis. The audit found widespread misuse of funding and a lack of accountability.
Republican lawmakers had asked Auditor General Bill Holland to forward his findings to other agencies.
The daughter of President Obama’s controversial former pastor has been convicted in Springfield of fraud charges.
A federal jury here returned the verdict against Jeri Wright for her role in a scheme to bilk the state out of more than a million dollars in grant money.
Wright is the daughter of Jeremiah Wright, who became a lightning rod during Obama’s 2008 run for the White House.
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