He was in jail, then he was out… then in, and now he’s out again.
Calvin Christian, who has several pending lawsuits against Springfield police, has been released after an overnight stay in the county jail on a contempt of court charge.
The judge allowed Christian to go free after Christian promised to either pay a delinquent noise ordinance fine… or to turn over financial information to the city. Christian has one week to comply or risk returning to jail.
The largest state employees union has ratified a new contract… for the second time.
AFSCME conducted a second vote on the deal when the state failed to drop its appeal of a court ruling on back pay raises for union members… something that had been promised in the original contract.
The state is still pledging to make good on those overdue raises… but the legislature hasn’t approved the funding yet.
With less than two weeks to go in the scheduled legislative session… and most of the major issues still unresolved… Illinois lawmakers are taking the weekend off.
The legislature did send a medical marijuana bill to the governor’s desk for the first time. But a vote on a concealed carry bill was postponed.
And there’s little sign of progress on pension reform and no clear picture on a new state budget.
Congressman Aaron Schock says not enough is known… and not enough heads are rolling… in response to the IRS scandal.
Schock is part of the House Ways and Means Committee… and he says lawmakers were misled in recent months by IRS officials who denied that there had been any effort to subject conservative groups to greater scrutiny.
The IRS has now admitted that it happened… and Schock says that it is wrong. But he also says neither the agency nor the White House has yet fully disclosed who was involved… or how widespread it was.
Springfield is preparing to lawyer up for a possible court fight with Chatham over water.
The city says Chatham is in breach of its contract to purchase water from City Water Light and Power through this summer. Chatham cut off those water purchases early when it joined the South Sangamon Water Commission.
An ordinance that goes before Springfield aldermen this week would pay the law firm of Sorling Northrup up to $50,000 to handle the case against Chatham.
After a lengthy debate, the Illinois Senate has approved legislation that would for the first time allow doctors in the state to prescribe marijuana to treat the symptoms of certain specific illnesses.
Opponents of the bill claim any relaxation of marijuana laws will mean more illicit drug use, especially among teens. But supporters say marijuana is a safer and more effective way to treat the effects of cancer, multiple sclerosis and other ailments than many of the prescription drugs commonly in use today.
The measure passed on a vote of 35-21. The bill had earlier passed the House, and now goes to Governor Pat Quinn, who has not indicated whether he will sign it.
Even though there are only two weeks left in the scheduled legislation session, Illinois lawmakers are taking the weekend off. Both the House and Senate adjourned for the weekend, leaving a number of major issues still hanging.
The Senate had been expected to take up a controversial concealed carry bill that is opposed by the gun lobby, but did not vote on it before senators headed for home. There’s no word on when that bill might be called.
Major budget and pension questions are also still unresolved with the clock ticking toward the end of the month.
There will be no criminal charges stemming from the incident where City Water Light and Power workers used city equipment on city time to remove a tree from private property.
State’s Attorney John Milhiser reviewed both the alleged misuse of city resources… as well as a complaint from an eyewitness that one of the workers attempted to intimidate him. But Milhiser says he has concluded that the issue is really a CWLP personnel matter, and does not warrant criminal charges.
All three workers were disciplined, and one was fired… but was later reinstated.
A Republican businessman who is considering a run for governor is taking direct aim at public sector unions.
In an interview for 970 WMAY’s Michael Koolidge Show, Bruce Rauner said that groups like AFSCME and the major teachers unions in Illinois are running Springfield… using their leverage to get taxpayer-funded raises and benefits. And Rauner says those groups then use that money to support friendly politicians, a practice he equates with bribery.
Rauner is vowing to shrink union influence in the state’s politics and to reduce the tax burden for Illinois residents and businesses.
A motorcyclist is dead following a collision with a pickup truck driven by a 16-year-old. State police say the accident happened this (Friday) morning on Route 125 in Virginia.
The teen driver told authorities he was stopped on a side street and did not see the motorcycle traveling eastbound on the highway. The driver pulled out in front of the cycle, which struck the passenger side of the truck.
The motorcyclist died at the scene. The teenager was ticketed for failure to yield.
Springfield police say they caught two burglary suspects in the act… and think the pair may be responsible for other break-ins.
Officers were called to an address on West Vine by a neighbor who reported seeing two people breaking into a garage. The witness told police that the men entered the garage just seconds before officers arrived.
Police surrounded the garage and found the suspects inside. They also found a pair of gloves and a flashlight. 30-year-old Walter Cunninghman and 29-year-old Michael Brown face multiple charges for this burglary and perhaps others.
A Springfield preservationist is making one last attempt to save the historic Enos School.
The nearly 100-year-old building is slated for demolition as soon as work is complete on a new replacement building right next to the existing school. But Jerry Jacobson with Save Old Springfield wants the new school board to overrule that demolition decision made by the prior board.
Jacobson says the historic building can be saved and converted to residential use, which would generate property taxes for the school district. Jacobson will formally make his request to the school board Monday night.
The plaintiff in multiple lawsuits against Springfield police is back behind bars.
As 970 WMAY News was the first to report, Calvin Christian was taken into custody Thursday afternoon after being held in contempt of court.
Christian refused to turn over personal financial information that was being sought by the city of Springfield, as it tries to collect more than $800 in fines that Christian owes for noise ordinance violations.
Christian told the court that he did not want to disclose the information while he has pending lawsuits against the city.
Christian has sued over the police department’s destruction of internal affairs records, and has also claimed a sweeping conspiracy among officers to target and harass him.
The attorney representing Calvin Christian in the police department file shredding case says it doesn’t matter why Christian wants to see those internal affairs documents.
Police Chief Robert Williams has said the department sped up its destruction of those records in order to more efficiently deal with a flood of “nuisance” requests for documents.
But attorney Don Craven says Christian’s motivation for seeking a large number of police department documents is irrelevant.
He says any member of the public is entitled to see and obtain those records, and they don’t have to disclose or justify their reasons for wanting them.
The full Illinois Senate could vote today on a more restrictive concealed carry bill that has drawn fierce opposition from the gun lobby.
Democratic Senator Kwame Raoul’s bill gives state police more latitude to reject concealed carry permit applications, and allows local communities like Springfield to set their own rules for where guns can be carried.
Pro-gun groups say Raoul’s bill is intended to make it difficult or impossible for most people to legally carry a firearm for self-defense.
In the House, Democrat Brandon Phelps says they are working on a bill that would have a "shall issue" standard, but says he is willing to concede banning loaded weapons on public transportation to get the "shall issue" provision. Phelps appeared on 970 WMAY's Bishop On Air Thursday (mp3 download).
A Springfield man is facing multiple child pornography counts following a search of his home.
31-year-old Jeremy Best was arrested as part of the Operation Glass House crackdown on child porn traffickers around the state.
Investigators from the Attorney General’s Office, Springfield police and the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s office obtained a search warrant last week for Best’s home on Old Rochester Road, and recovered evidence that led to the charges.
Best is free on $50,000 bond and will be back in court next month.
Jeremy Best booking photo
Springfield police have arrested two men in connection with a series of shootings on South Renfro Street… one of which sent a man to the hospital.
27-year-old VonTa Commer is facing multiple charges including unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon.
31-year-old Demetrious Commer is charged with aggravated battery.
In addition to the shooting that struck a man in the wrist and chest last week, another incident involved shots fired at a house just down the street.
Defense lawyers have gone after the credibility of the star prosecution witness in the Christopher Harris murder trial.
During hours on the stand Thursday, Harris’s brother Jason admitted that he had repeatedly lied and changed his story throughout the investigation of the killings of five members of a Beason family in 2009.
Jason Harris now claims he waited outside while his brother entered the home with the tire iron that was used to kill Rick and Ruth Gee and three of their children.
The man who is suing the City of Springfield over those shredded internal affairs files has been taken into custody for the second time in two days.
Calvin Christian was arrested Thursday on a contempt of court charge after refusing to turn over personal financial information to the city.
City officials sought that information after Christian failed to pay $800 in noise ordinance fines, one of a series of tickets and fines he's received in recent months.
Christian told the court he did not want to reveal the information while he has pending litigation against the city over the internal affairs files, as well as his claim that police are conspiring to harass him.
A Springfield man is facing child pornography charges after being caught up in an ongoing statewide investigation.
Agents from Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office… along with Springfield police and the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s office… conducted a search of a home on Old Rochester Road last week. Based on evidence collected there, 31-year-old Jeremy Best has been charged with five counts of aggravated child pornography. Best is free on $50,000 bond and will appear in court next month.
Madigan says this is the 42nd arrest as part of Operation Glass House, a statewide effort targeting the “most active child porn traders in Illinois.”
Illinois’s jobless rate dropped slightly in April, compared to a month earlier.
The jobless rate for April was 9.3%, down from 9.5 in March. But the rate was higher than it was in April of 2012, even though the state reports 40,000 more payroll jobs now than at the same time last year.
State officials say the up-and-down employment numbers in Illinois reflect an ongoing uncertainty about the national economic recovery.
The Springfield man who is suing to obtain police department internal affairs records has had plenty of his own run-ins with police… a fact that his attorney says is not at all relevant to his fight to obtain those documents.
Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Bishop On Air,” Don Craven says it doesn’t matter why Calvin Christian wants the documents.
Police Chief Robert Williams has complained that the department has been swamped with “nuisance” requests for records… but Craven says they are public records, and any member of the public is entitled to them, regardless of the reason.
Congressman Aaron Schock says resignations are not enough… he wants criminal prosecutions for the IRS scandal.
Schock is reacting to the resignation of acting Internal Revenue Service commissioner Steven Miller, following revelations that IRS agents improperly targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny over their request for tax-exempt status. The Peoria Republican says getting rid of Miller does not restore public trust in the IRS.
Schock will participate in a House hearing Friday, and says he wants to know why the IRS misled lawmakers about the scandal for so long.
Legislation passed by the US Senate will help the state of Illinois if there is another severe drought, according to Senator Dick Durbin.
The bill approved Wednesday would create a pilot program to improve the nation’s water infrastructure through public-private partnerships, and would also authorize a study of the entire Mississippi River Basin.
Durbin says the steps are necessary because “weather events are becoming more severe and more frequent.”
The City of Springfield has agreed to preserve all remaining records… including any electronic files… pertaining to the police department internal affairs files that were shredded under an accelerated timetable.
The agreement came during a court hearing into an emergency request by reporter Calvin Christian to prevent the loss of any computer files that may contain information about those destroyed documents.
Christian is suing because the shredded files included documents he had requested under state public records laws.
Any information retrieved by the city will be turned over to the court under seal while the case continues.
The Pure News reporter who is pursuing several lawsuits against the City of Springfield landed in the Sangamon County Jail Wednesday.
Calvin Christian was arrested on a bench warrant after he failed to appear earlier in the day for a hearing on a charge of obstructing a police officer.
Christian has claimed harassment by Springfield police, accusing more than a dozen officers of a conspiracy to follow him, pull him over, and ticket him for multiple offenses.
Christian is free after posting bail.
Investigators looking into the fire that destroyed three homes on North Fourth Street early Wednesday have not ruled out anything… including the possibility that the fire was foul play.
The blaze began in one structure… which collapsed shortly after firefighters arrived. That spread the fire to two other houses, one on each side.
All three buildings are a total loss… and nine people have been displaced.
A Springfield alderman wants a plan in place in case Illinois lawmakers fail to meet a court-ordered deadline to pass a concealed carry law.
Amid concerns that missing the deadline could allow any legal gun owner to carry that weapon… concealed or in the open… Alderman Tim Griffin is proposing that the city adopt its own rules to put some restrictions on who can carry, and where.
That proposed ordinance is still being drafted.
Springfield’s unemployment picture may not be as bad as recent state numbers suggest.
The most recent monthly numbers, from March, put unemployment in the city at 7.8%... up from the same time a year earlier.
But city economic development director Mike Farmer says the city has objected.
Farmer says the state overestimated job losses in some sectors and failed to account for seasonal employment.
Farmer says the state is reviewing its numbers and could revise the figure.
Illinois lawmakers have introduced legislation to toughen penalties for drivers-for-hire who drive under the influence.
The bill would make it a felony for limo drivers and others to transport passengers while drunk.
Currently it’s just a misdemeanor, unless the professional driver is operating a school bus with passengers under 18.
The proposed tougher rules follow the arrest of a limo driver who was allegedly drunk while taking students to a Chicago-area prom.
The City of Springfield has agreed to search for and preserve whatever electronic remnants still exist of police internal affairs documents that are now the subject of several lawsuits and investigations.
The hard copies of those records were destroyed weeks ago, but could still exist on the city's servers, if they haven't already been overwritten.
The agreement came after a reporter sought an emergency court order to preserve any remaining records in the case.
There's still no word on what caused a fire that destroyed three adjacent homes on North 4th Street early Wednesday morning.
The fire began in a two-and-a-half-story house, which collapsed shortly after firefighters arrived. That sent the flames spreading to the home on either side, causing both of them to also burn.
All three homes are total losses. No injuries were reported.
Springfield economic development officials say they have been very generous in their support of the proposed downtown Kidzeum.
The city is defending its recommendation to provide $675,000 in downtown TIF money for the project, far less than what the Kidzeum wanted.
The city says even that smaller amount makes it one of the biggest contributors to the non-profit museum project.
The brother of murder suspect Christopher Harris says he heard screams and thumps coming from inside the home on the night in 2009 that five members of a Beason family were killed.
Jason Harris is testifying against his brother as part of a plea deal that will get Jason Harris a reduced sentence on lesser charges. He says he waited outside the home while Christopher went inside, carrying the tire iron used to kill the family.
A coalition of labor and business groups says an agreement is now in place to allow hydraulic fracturing... also known as "fracking"... to move forward in Illinois.
The deal would set strict regulations on the practice, which uses high-pressure extraction techniques to release oil and gas from deep below the Earth's surface.
Opponents are still concerned that fracking could cause environmental damage.
The city of Springfield has ten days to prepare a forensic mirror image of their computer backups in an effort to find police internal affairs files that were destroyed after a Freedom of Information Act request was made.
That’s according to attorney Esther Seitz one of the lawyers for Calvin Christian, the Pure News reporter that requested the files.
Seitz says that the city agreed to an order that will not only make a backup of the city’s servers in hopes of finding the destroyed files; they will also preserve and provide any internal communications about the destruction of the documents and Christian’s FOIA for a possible criminal investigation.
The motion was part of an initial suit filed against the city seeking $5,000 for each file destroyed.
Regardless of how the Illinois General Assembly acts on passing some kind of carry legislation, a Springfield alderman wants to get a concealed carry ordinance passed giving gun owners the ability lawfully carry in the capital city.
Ward 10 Alderman Tim Griffin says that if the state legislature fails to pass a law by the court ordered June 9th mandate, or if they pass something that gives local municipalities the ability to craft their own measures, he wants to be ready.
Some initial ideas include having individual business owners decide if they want to allow carrying of concealed firearms in their business.
If not, they will be responsible for posting a sign.
Griffin also wants to have a database of Springfield businesses that won’t allow carrying concealed firearms accessible online so people can chose whether they want go to that establishment.
Griffin hopes to have a measure in front of aldermen in a few weeks.
The Springfield Fire Department is investigating whether a car fire earlier this morning may be linked to an early morning blaze that destroyed three houses on 4th Street in Springfield.
Fire Chief Ken Fustin says that a car fire on 7th street was reported a few hours before the blaze on 4th street broke out, but investigations have yet to find a connection.
The first house on 4th street collapsed shortly after firefighters arrived at the scene just after 3:30 this morning.
Nine people were displaced from surrounding homes.
The other two homes involved in the fire were also a total loss.
Fustin says that there are no reports of injuries at this time and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Picture of fully involved fire taken by Nathan Paul Frey
Springfield aldermen are moving ahead with two ordinances filed in response to the controversy over the early shredding of police department internal affairs records.
The City Council committee of the whole advanced a measure that would require aldermanic approval for any memorandum of understanding that alters a labor contract, like the one that authorized the document destruction.
And aldermen are also pressing ahead with a request for an attorney general investigation of the matter… despite a request from Mayor Mike Houston’s corporation counsel that they hold off.
Mark Cullen says the A.G.’s office requested a delay in any additional action, but Alderman Sam Cahnman says he also talked to the attorney general’s office and got no such request.
Springfield aldermen have rejected a proposal to impose a residency requirement for anyone serving on any of the city’s boards or commissions.
Some of those boards had been exempt from a rule requiring that members live in the city limits.
Alderman Gail Simpson’s ordinance would have changed that, but it failed to get enough votes to get out of committee.
The brother of murder suspect Christopher Harris is expected to take the stand today at Harris’s trial in Peoria.
Jason Harris was also originally charged with murder in the deaths of five members of a Beason family in 2009.
He will testify as part of a plea deal that will land him a 20-year sentence for pleading guilty to lesser charges.
Sheriff Neil Williamson says a proposal to lower the standard for DUI from .08 to .05 would likely save lives.
The idea was put forward by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Although Williamson says such a standard would probably cut deeply into the bottom line of bars, restaurants and other liquor establishments, he thinks it would mean fewer drunk drivers on the road.
But the sheriff says even more lives could be saved if lawmakers would do more to address distracted driving… including the use of cell phone handsets.
A Lanphier High School music teacher has been named the District 186 Educator of the Year, in ceremonies sponsored by Horace Mann.
Maryna Mitchell had been a finalist several times previously before winning the award on Tuesday.
The honor also continues a family tradition… Mitchell’s husband Bob was also recognized as Educator of the Year, back in 2000.
Springfield fire crews are on the scene of a three house fire at the 1100 block of 4th Street working to put out the blaze.
One house has collapsed because of the fire and houses on each side have also been caught up in the flames.
Springfield Fire Chief Ken Fustin says that the call came in at 3:30 this morning.
He also says that one house seemed to be unoccupied while another houses’ occupants were able to escape unharmed.
There no indication yet as to if there are injuries or fatalities in the house that collapsed due to the fire.
2013-05 | 2013-04 | 2013-03 | 2013-02 | 2013-01 | 2012-12 | 2012-11 | 2012-10 | 2012-09 | 2012-08 | 2012-07 | 2012-06 | 2012-05 | 2012-04 | 2012-03 | 1969-12