Springfield School Superintendent Walter Milton is laying out a proposal to slash 8 million dollars from next year’s school budget - a plan that includes a reduction of nearly 100 teaching positions.
Milton says not all of those positions are classroom teachers, some are team leaders who provide instruction and support to teachers in the classroom. But in other cases, Milton acknowledges the cuts will affect course offerings and classroom sizes. But he says the district and its staff are determined not to let the reductions affect the quality of education. The proposal is preliminary and must get approval from the school board – a process that could take months.
The reductions would not take effect until the 2013-14 school year.
In the homestretch of the campaign, the challenger for Sangamon County State’s Attorney is accusing incumbent John Milhiser of breaking his pledge to bring criminals to justice.
Democrat Ron Stradt is pointing to several cases where he says Milhiser failed to bring charges, even though there was probable cause to do so. One case involves three men suspected in a street shooting who were arrested and held for five days before Milhiser dropped the charges.
Another case involves a lawyer who was the victim of an extortion plot. Stradt says authorities wanted a search warrant to learn whether the lawyer had in fact had sex with a minor and then paid money to conceal it, but Milhiser refused to authorize the warrant.
Milhiser says both cases were thoroughly reviewed to see if there was enough evidence to pursue them further, but there wasn’t.
Springfield School Superintendent Walter Milton will unveil his proposed budget cuts for the next school year later today. Milton has been under pressure from school board members to provide more information earlier, so that they have more time to evaluate the recommendations and prepare the budget well ahead of the start of the new fiscal year next summer.
Milton has indicated that he may have to cut more than six-million dollars from the budget to stay within the district’s fund balance guidelines.
It appears to be the end of the line for the Jacksonville Developmental Center. A state panel has overruled the recommendations of its professional staff and has given Governor Pat Quinn the green light to close the facility.
Quinn wants to move JDC’s remaining developmentally-disabled residents to smaller, community-based residential programs.
Many objectors attended Tuesday’s hearing in Bolingbrook, arguing that residential group homes are not equipped to handle the profound disabilities of many of the JDC residents.
Jacksonville officials are also concerned about the economic impact of closing the facility and eliminating its 200 jobs.
Springfield Aldermen are looking at ways to help the PNC Bank development in downtown Springfield get the money they need to restore the building.
Developers of the building say the project could cost $2.7 to $3.5 million and the $312,000 the city offered in Tax Increment Finance funds will not help complete the project.
Economic Development Director Mike Farmer said that the Central Area TIF district is getting low on funds and it's to the point now where developers may have to wait until 2016 to get the promised money while the district accumulates more funds.
Lincoln and Route 66 aren't the only things that attract people to the capital city from all around the world. Our elections are another big draw.
Several weeks ago, the Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe visited the Sangamon County Board of Elections with two members of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
Sangamon County Complex
Stacy Kern, the Director of Elections for Sangamon County, says the two observers visited two different days. The first day they asked to see the voter registration process and asked about deputy registrars. The second day they toured the office and watched a sample ballot demonstration.
Kern says it was odd they didn't call ahead. "I was a little bit surprised that they didn't call ahead or make and appointment and just walked in and said 'can we talk to you about elections.' It's just not a typical thing that you have happen everyday."
OSCE Spokesperson Thomas Rymer, speaking from Warsaw, Poland, tells WMAY News that the Organization's election observation stems from an agreement the United States made in the OSCE Copenhagen document of 1991. Participating states committed themselves to invite OSCE observers to observe each others' elections. "US Observers have had a major role in going to the other 55 participating states. They have committed to each other that they will assist each other to improve procedures and processes."
OSCE/ODIHR Logo. Read more about the group's US mission here.
Rymer says OSCE has conducted six election observation mission in the United States since 2002. OSCE will hold a press conference the day after the election in Washington DC where they will address issues like new voting technology, alternative voting methods, candidate and voter registration, and campaign finance, among others things.
These mission included interviews with state, federal, and local election officials, candidates, members of civic society and the media. Rymer says it's a way to see how the organization can help improve the way elections are run. "We try to gain a comprehensive understanding on how the elections are run and how they relate to international OSCE commitments and international standards for democratic elections."
Rymer says the observations are part of an international obligation the United States is a founding member of the 56 member OSCE that houses the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Not all states in the US are hip to the idea of international observers. The Attorney General for Texas has threatened to arrest the observers if they try to interfere with the elections. Rymer says that goes against the obligation the United States has with it's OSCE member states, but they will abide by the law.
"This is a high profile case where the Texas law is out of line with the United States international commitments. It's an issue for the Untied States to deal with internally."
The Sangamon County Board of Elections says that regardless where they're from, if someone wants to be a poll-watcher the day of the election, they would have to get permission from the County Board of Elections, a candidate, political party or civic organization.
More than a dozen City Water Light and Power workers are heading east to assist with efforts to restore power in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
CWLP says 12 linemen and a supervisor will help restore power in and around Cleveland, Ohio, in an area served by First Energy Corporation. When that work is complete, the local crew will move on to New Jersey and help with the company’s efforts in that hard-hit state.
First Energy will pay for material, labor and other costs incurred by the CWLP crew.
The CWLP team took four line trucks and two derrick digger trucks that will be used in the power restoration effort. The assistance is provided under a mutual aid agreement through the Illinois Municipal Utility Association.
The state Health Facilities and Services Review Board meets today to consider whether to grant a permit for the Quinn administration to proceed with moving residents out of the Jacksonville Developmental Center and shutting the facility down.
Opponents of the move say residents were still being moved out over the weekend… including some being transferred to other large state facilities, instead of the smaller group-home settings that Quinn says are a better alternative than institutions like JDC.
The board today will decide whether to accept the recommendations of its professional staff, which says JDC should not be closed because there are not enough adequate facilities to care for its entire population.
One alderman is not satisfied with three union contracts up for consideration by the Springfield City Council Committee of the Whole.
The three contracts for mechanical and aerospace workers, Laborers International Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers all include three year contracts; something Ward 7’s Joe McMenamin says should be limited to a year-to-year contract.
The contracts also include pay raises.
The Laborers International Union contract has a 2.3% increase in year one and a 3% increase in year two.
The mechanical and aerospace workers contract has an initial 3% increase in year one, while the Operating Engineers contract has yearly raises linked with CPI.
McMenamin says he would support a wage freeze for union contracts to make up for generous raises handed out before the recession of 2008.
Both Governor Pat Quinn and AFSCME are asking a judge to rule in their favor, after an arbitrator’s decision in the dispute over prison closings.
The arbitrator ruled in favor of Quinn, who is seeking to close the Tamms and Dwight correctional centers. AFSCME had sued to block the shutdowns, saying they would increase overcrowding, and dangers, in other Illinois prisons.
The arbitrator says that although it would be wiser to keep all facilities open, the closures would NOT pose a clear and present danger to workers and do not violate the union contract.
In light of that ruling, Quinn has asked a judge to lift the injunction that was put in place earlier this fall, preventing him from going forward with the closures. But AFSCME is asking that the arbitrator’s decision be thrown out and the injunction kept in place.
There’s no word yet on when the courts may rule on either side’s request.
An arbitrator has ruled that Governor Pat Quinn should be allowed to proceed with plans to close the Tamms and Dwight Correctional Centers.
The decision is not yet binding… a judge earlier issued an injunction blocking the closures, but that injunction was issued pending the arbitrator’s findings. The state is now expected to ask the judge to lift the injunction so the closures can proceed.
AFSCME had sued to block the shutdowns, saying they would increase overcrowding, and dangers, in other Illinois prisons. The arbitrator says that although it would be wiser to keep all facilities open, the closures would not pose a clear and present danger to workers and do not violate the union contract. AFSCME says it will ask the arbitrator to reconsider.
A group that opposes the closure of the Jacksonville Developmental Center says as many as 50 residents are being moved out today, one day before a state board holds a hearing on whether that closure should proceed.
Most of those residents are being relocated to smaller, community-based homes, which was the goal of Governor Pat Quinn’s decision to close JDC.
But the opposition group says more than a dozen residents are being transferred to other large state facilities.
State officials say that’s because their families have not consented to moving them to a smaller group home setting.
A group opposing the shutdown of the Jacksonville Developmental Center warns that the state plans to move 50 residents out of JDC Monday… one day ahead of a state hearing into whether the facility should be closed.
Governor Pat Quinn wants to close JDC and move its residents to small, community-based facilities. But the opponents’ group says 14 of the residents being moved Monday are being transferred to other big state facilities, not to group homes.
Meanwhile, a state senator wants an investigation into whether some patient records are being altered at the Jacksonville Developmental Center. Senator Sam McCann tells WLDS Radio in Jacksonville that he’s been told of such incidents, and wants the state’s inspector general to look into it.
The Illinois Family Institute is targeting Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt over his ruling last year that allowed the state to sever a contract with Catholic Charities to provide foster care and adoption services.
The State Journal-Register reports the IFI is making robocalls urging people to vote against Schmidt in next month’s election, saying his ruling violates religious freedom.
Schmidt says he was simply following the law with his ruling, which stemmed from Catholic Charities’ opposition to providing such services to couples in civil unions.
Ten students have been suspended at Granite City High School for posting comments on Twitter… or for “retweeting” those comments.
In one case, a student referred to a teacher at the school with a slang term indicating that the teacher is attractive. In another case, a student referenced blowing up the school so she could have a day off from classes.
Both students… and several others who reposted the comments… were suspended for five days each.
Springfield’s water restrictions aren’t going away any time soon. Even though Decatur has now lifted its limits on car washing and lawn-watering, Springfield is keeping its rules in place. Despite recent rains, levels at Lake Springfield are still around three-and-a-half feet below full pool.
City Water Light and Power spokesperson Amber Sabin says there are no plans to either lift or tighten the city’s current water restrictions.
He’s gone after cigarettes and stimulants sold over the counter in convenience stores… now U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is setting his sights on energy drinks.
After media reports linking at least five deaths around the country to consumption of the drinks, Durbin is asking the Food and Drug Administration to investigate loopholes in the law that he says allow energy drink manufacturers to avoid oversight. Durbin also wants the agency to study the caffeine content in such drinks and the possible health risk they may pose to children.
The senator says it’s the third time he has made such a request of the FDA.
A mother and child are recovering from injuries they suffered when their car struck an ambulance at Sangamon and Dirksen Friday afternoon.
Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson says the ambulance was westbound on Sangamon with lights and sirens on, and had stopped for a red light before proceeding into the intersection. The mother and child were in a northbound vehicle that hit the ambulance, pushing it into a third car.
Williamson says the woman and her child were taken to the hospital, but their injuries are not life-threatening. And the patient being transported in the ambulance will also be OK, according to the sheriff.
Springfield police are putting out a warning about a scam that appears to be targeting elderly residents.
Police have been notified of two cases where victims have been called at home and told that someone stole money from their bank account. The victims were instructed to withdraw funds from the account as part of a ruse to catch the thief… they then took the money to a parking lot to meet someone who identified himself as bank official named “Mr. Marshall,” and took the money.
The women did not realize until later that they had been scammed. In the two cases, the con artist got away with a total of more than $6,000. Police are alerting residents to be aware of such scams and to avoid falling victim to them.
The Teachers Retirement System says it’s not panicking, despite a sharp decline in its rate of return on its investments.
The pension fund had a return of less than one-percent on its investments in the past fiscal year.
In the previous fiscal year, its return had been above 23-percent.
TRS officials say such investments cannot be evaluated one year at a time, but must be looked at over the long run, and notes that its 20-year average return on investment is well over 7-percent, close to its projections.
The candidates for a Sangamon County judgeship both say there is no double standard for justice in local courtrooms... even as both acknowledge that there is some subjectivity to the decisions they make, particularly in sentencing.
Incumbent Judge John Schmidt was appointed to the bench two years ago, and is now running for a full term against Democrat Tim Londrigan.
Schmidt says in sentencing decisions, he looks at the life and achievements of a defendant, saying the things you do in life matter.
Londrigan agrees with Schmidt that judges do strive for fairness in their decisions, but believes there is a perception in the community that justice isn’t always dispensed equally.
Governor Pat Quinn’s administration may be reconsidering its refusal to let reporters have a first-hand look behind prison walls.
For months, Quinn has been refusing media requests to observe conditions in the state’s overcrowded correctional facilities. The governor’s office has said media visits could pose a security risk. But this week it was revealed that students from a community college in Normal were allowed to tour parts of the Pontiac Correctional Center.
Now a corrections spokesperson says the department is working on procedures that could allow such visits to take place. But she did not say for sure that media visits will be allowed… or under what conditions.
Sangamon and surrounding counties remain in a drought, even in spite of recent rains.
New info from the U.S. Drought Monitor put Sangamon County in the least severe drought category, “moderate.” More than 60-percent of the state remains in the grips of one of the worst droughts in recent memory… with the worst conditions in North Central and Northwest Illinois.
The numbers are an improvement over three months ago… when the entire state was considered to be under drought conditions.
The candidates for a full term as judge in the 7th Circuit both agree that cameras should be allowed in courtrooms in Sangamon and surrounding counties.
Republican incumbent John Schmidt… who was appointed to the bench two years ago… is competing with Democrat Tim Londrigan for election to a full term as judge. Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” both candidates said cameras in court would improve the public’s awareness and understanding of the judicial system… and would not compromise the cause of justice.
The candidates also talked about their experience, with each saying they have worked with and are knowledgeable about an extensive variety of civil and criminal cases.
All three candidates in the 13th Congressional District met in a televised debate Wednesday night in Springfield, but the fireworks were limited to two of them -- Democrat David Gill and Republican Rodney Davis.
Davis talked about his wife’s struggle with cancer more than a decade ago and how she had options to find specialists who helped cure her.
Davis says he wants to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a market-driven system that will give all consumers those choices.
But Gill called Davis hypocritical for taking advantage of opportunities through his government-funded health insurance plan then… while seeking to deny others the chance for a similar program today.
All three candidates in the 13th Congressional District met in a televised debate Wednesday night in Springfield, but the fireworks were limited to two of them -- Democrat David Gill and Republican Rodney Davis.
Gill called Davis hypocritical for lauding the benefits of his government health care plan in allowing his wife to seek out specialists to cure her colon cancer more than a decade ago, while vowing to repeal Obamacare today. But Davis calls Obamacare a "boondoggle" that the country can't afford.
And Davis went on the attack against Gill, accusing him of breaking his pledge not to take corporate dollars for his campaign. But Gill insists that support he received from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was restricted to grass roots donations, and says Davis is the one in the pocket of major corporations.
The independent candidate running in the 13th Congressional District was a virtual afterthought for his major party opponents, as all three met in a broadcast debate in Springfield Wednesday night.
John Hartman is an Edwardsville businessman who describes himself as "not on the left, not on the right, and not in the center." He got equal time to answer questions in the hourlong debate, but Republican Rodney Davis and Democrat David Gill turned their fire on each other, and did not respond to or challenge anything said by Hartman.
The independent candidate raised eyebrows at one point while discussing his support of same sex marriage. Hartman said that when he hears the voice of someone who's gay, he knows that, quote, "you could no more take the gayness out of that fellow than you could take the tallness out of me."
The candidates in the 96th Illinois House District all agree that they would oppose efforts to require a photo ID in order to vote.
All three were invited to take part in a roundtable discussion in Springfield on possible threats to voters’ rights. Only write-in candidate Andrew Dambrauskas (Dam-BROSH’-kuss) attended, and said he would oppose any attempt to make it more difficult to vote.
But Democrat Sue Scherer and Republican Dennis Shackelford both sent written messages to the meeting… and both said photo ID laws are not necessary and could inhibit the ability of some voters to cast a ballot. All three candidates say they would fight any attempt by the General Assembly to impose such a requirement.
While there are no known instances of Springfield area facilities prescribing a drug linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak, several local medical providers have distributed other drugs that came from the same Massachusetts pharmacy.
Memorial Medical Center is sending letters to about 2,000 patients who have received those other drugs since May 21st of this year.
The hospital says the notices are being sent out of an “abundance of caution,” but says there’s no indication of any health risk from those drugs.
The Food and Drug Administration says injectable drugs from that Masschusetts pharmacy… NECC… were also sent to Springfield Eye Consultants, the Illinois Retina Center, and Prairie Surgery Center in Springfield.
The challenger in the race for Sangamon County State’s Attorney thinks incumbent John Milhiser may be too quick to dismiss some cases.
Democrat Ron Stradt questions some recent decisions where suspects were released without being charged or were allowed to plead down to a lesser charge.
Stradt says there should be more disclosure about the reasons why.
Milhiser says he can’t proceed with cases when there is not enough evidence to go forward, and defends plea bargains as a way to ensure that someone is punished for a crime without taking a chance on acquittal at trial.
The candidates for Sangamon County State’s Attorney continue to clash over what cases they would or would not bring to trial.
Democratic challenger Ron Stradt says Republican incumbent John Milhiser has dropped too many cases that should have been brought to trial, without sufficiently explaining why. But Milhiser says he pursues cases only when there is sufficient evidence to score a victory at trial.
The candidates also disagree on how to handle concealed carry cases. Stradt believes the state’s ban on concealed carry is unconstitutional and says he won’t pursue violations of that law, but Milhiser says it is still the law until the Supreme Court rules otherwise.
[Both candidates appeared live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show.”]
The Illinois Department of Public Health is alerting 49 more Illinois hospitals and clinics which may have received tainted products from a Massachusetts pharmacy that has been linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak.
The new warning expands the list of products that may have health risks, including an injectable drug given to some patients after eye surgery.
Health officials say any patients who received those drugs on or after May 21 of this year should contact their health provider right away if they experience any unusual symptoms.
Sangamon County Coroner Cinda Edwards says inquests are not really necessary in most death investigations… but her challenger disagrees.
Edwards has virtually discontinued the practice of inquests, where a panel of six citizens hears evidence and delivers a verdict on the manner of death. She says in most cases, there is no doubt about the manner of death… and when there is, coroner’s staffers are better equipped to render that verdict.
But Democrat Jerry Curry says oversight from citizens can be a valuable check-and-balance, and says he would reinstate the practice if elected.
[Both candidates appeared live Monday on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show.”]
The Democratic challenger for Sangamon County Circuit Clerk thinks the office’s budget may be inadequate for its needs… and contends she could be more effective in negotiating additional resources for the office with the county’s Republican leadership.
Kristin DiCenso says she has a history of working well with both parties… but contends Republican incumbent Tony Libri wouldn’t be as effective, because of internal disputes in the local GOP.
Libri acknowledges that he had differences with fellow Republicans over his leadership of the party before he stepped down as Sangamon County GOP chair this year… but says top county leaders are firmly behind his management of the circuit clerk’s office.
[Both Libri and DiCenso appeared live Monday on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show.”]
He remains sharply critical of Illinois’s finances, tax structure, and leadership. But the CEO of Caterpillar says his company isn’t leaving the state.
Doug Oberhelman took heat months ago for saying that other states had been trying to lure the company's headquarters to move, statements that were seen as veiled threats from the company that it might pack up and move.
However, despite his pledge to keep Caterpillar headquarters and thousands of jobs in Peoria, Doug Oberhelman says Illinois has an anti-competitive business environment, with a higher cost of doing business than other states.
A group that opposes the closure of the Jacksonville Developmental Center has taken out a full page newspaper ad suggesting Governor Pat Quinn’s policies are to blame for the recent choking death of a JDC resident.
Under the heading “Shame On You Governor Quinn,” the ad says staff turnover and the hiring of contract nurses are the result of uncertainty over the planned closure, and says that upheaval is putting JDC residents in danger.
Now that Illinois has gotten high-speed rail up to speed, the next question is: what will happen when those trains reach Springfield?
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says he believes there will be a final decision within weeks in favor of consolidating train traffic on the 10th Street tracks… and that there will be additional federal money for that effort.
But how much more money… and over what period of time… are still open questions.
Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. has spoken publicly for the first time about the illness that has kept him off Capitol Hill and the campaign trail for months.
In a “robocall” to constituents, Jackson says he’s been undergoing treatment after a series of events came together in his life that have been “difficult to sort through.” Jackson said, quote, “I am human. I’m doing my best. And I’m trying to sort through them all.”
The call asked constituents to be patient but did not indicate when he might return to work.
Several local groups plan to protest outside Springfield’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Sunday morning.
The self-described “secularist” groups object to recent statements by Catholic bishop Thomas John Paprocki about next month’s elections. Paprocki told local Catholics that parts of the national Democratic Party platform represent “intrinsic evils,” such as abortion rights and same-sex marriage. Paprocki says supporting candidates who back that platform could put a Catholic voter’s eternal salvation in jeopardy.
The protestors say the bishop’s comments violate the principle of separation between church and state.
Democratic congressional candidate David Gill is facing more questions about a campaign ad jointly funded by a party committee.
Gill insists the ad does not violate his pledge not to take corporate or Wall Street dollars.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says money for the ad came from “grassroots” donations… but also says it does not keep such donations in a segregated fund, making it impossible to verify that no corporate dollars were used.
Illinois is on track for the future of rail transportation with the successful test of high-speed rail Friday.
State and federal officials, alongside members of the media, rode an AMTRAK train from Joliet to Normal--a 15 mile stretch of that trip, the train went an average of 110 miles per hour.
Before leaving the station in Joliet, Governor Pat Quinn, Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, US Senator Dick Durbin and others spoke about the history and the future of rail.
The moment Illinois railways went high-speed
During the test run, two different cabins were set up with speedometers hooked up to GPS so passengers could see the progression of the train on a map plus the moment where the train reached the historic threshold of 110 miles per hour.
Shortly after the apex of the high-speed rail test Governor Quinn, Secretary LaHood and Senator Durbin visited with the media in the aisle of a rail car. They talk about the historic nature of the test, and also the economics and politics of high-speed rail.
Durbin criticized republicans in congress of trying to stop stimulus money that was used to fund the high-speed rail project. He also was critical of attempts to de-fund AMTRAK.
Governor Quinn and Secretary LaHood talked about how college students can use AMTRAK to get back and forth from school and home. They also highlighted the wireless internet on the trains that will make them more productive during their travels.
LaHood talked about the importance of Illinois in the high speed rail industry and how new high-speed cars will be produced in the Land of Lincoln.
The goal is to increase the 110-mile-per-hour service along nearly 75 percent of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor by 2015. Officials say the high speeds will reduce travel time by more than an hour.
Ridership among AMTRAK’s four Illinois routes has grown nearly three-quarters in the past six years with more than 2.1 million passengers last year.
As for the future of rail traffic through Springfield, Senator Dick Durbin says he believes by the end of the year Springfield will be able to resolve its issues and come to a consensus on the tenth street approach and then the next step is to secure federal funds to make it happen in the next few years.
Democratic congressional candidate David Gill insists he’s not breaking his pledge to refuse corporate and Wall Street donations, even though his campaign is running an ad paid for by a Democratic campaign committee which gets money from both sources.
In the ad, Gill calls such donations “legalized bribery.”
But he says the money from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee came from a segregated fund, with money collected from online individual “grass roots” donations.
Gill’s Republican opponent Rodney Davis accuses Gill of hypocrisy for taking the D-triple-C money.
The quest for high-speed rail takes another step forward today with a test run along part of the route between Joliet and Bloomington.
A train carrying Governor Pat Quinn, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and a contingent of reporters is expected to hit speeds of 110 miles per hour for a short stretch during that trip… about 30 miles an hour faster than the current top speed.
But that faster speed will only be maintained for about 15 miles. Work is continuing to rebuild the tracks and eventually allow the faster speeds all the way from Chicago to Springfield to St. Louis.
Faced with the possibility of enormous costs from an upcoming major murder trial, Logan County authorities are developing two budgets… one that borrows up to a million dollars through a bond sale, and another that makes cuts to the health department, paramedic funding and senior citizens programs.
County board members say the trial of Christopher and Jason Harris for the murder of a Beason family could cost taxpayers up to $600,000… because the brothers are represented by public defenders.
Board members favor the bond sale, which would allow the county to pay off trial costs over 20 years. But if county residents object through a petition drive, the board could decide to go with the budget cuts instead.
At least five cases from Springfield are among nearly 5,000 files where the Boy Scouts blocked someone from volunteering with the organization because of allegations of child molestation, even though critics say the Scouts often did not report the alleged abuse to authorities.
Details on some of those 5,000 cases are now being made public after a court ordered the disclosure of the documents, but it appears most of the newly-released files date back farther than the Springfield cases. The local cases all happened between 1988 and 2002.
There are also cases from Taylorville, Jacksonville, Lincoln and Decatur among those 5,000 files. One Decatur case from 1977 shows that it took months to formally ban an accused sex offender who was serving as a scoutmaster. The man continued to serve as a scoutmaster even after he was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor. He wasn't officially banned until at least nine months after that conviction.
Fourteen people have been taken into custody in Morgan and Cass Counties following a major drug sweep.
Police agencies including Jacksonville Police, the Morgan County Sheriff, and the Central Illinois Enforcement Group took part in that roundup, which follows months of investigation into the drug trade in West Central Illinois.
The 14 are all facing charges of unlawful delivery of cannabis, meth, or other controlled substances.
Democratic congressional candidate David Gill is trying to defend himself against accusations of hypocrisy.
Gill’s latest TV ad touts his refusal to take money from corporations or Wall Street interests. But the ad is paid for in part by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee… which gets funds from both sources.
Gill says the money for the ad comes from a special D-triple-C “grass roots” fund that does not include corporate dollars. And Gill says it’s absurd for opponent Rodney Davis to criticize him, because he says Davis gets extensive corporate support.
Bill McMahon, Executive Director of Local First Springfield
Local First Springfield announces their first-ever staff member, and their first-ever Executive Director.
Bill McMahon’s first task with the organization will be to communicate with local businesses on the importance of networking with Local First Springfield in an effort to continue educating consumers on the importance of buying local first.
He also says he will strive to get people to think about what happens when spend their money--13 percent of their dollar stays local when they buy from a big box store and 45 percent of their dollar stays local when they buy local.
McMahon says the first big push is the Home for the Holidays campaign that will focus on local conusmers and businesses to spend their holiday shopping money in the Springfield area.
Local First works to encourage consumers to buy local through educational campaigns and networking locally owned businesses together to build the local economy.
McMahon moved to Springfield from Chicago where he was the Assistant Commissioner for Workforce Development for the City of Chicago. He has been in Springfield since early 2011.
The staff of a state board has recommended against Governor Pat Quinn’s plan to close the Jacksonville Developmental Center.
That staff report from the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board finds that closing JDC would create hardships for residents and their families.
Quinn wants to close JDC and move its residents to smaller, community-based settings, but the board staff found that the state has not identified an adequate number of suitable facilities to handle the JDC population.
The staff report is a recommendation… but a final decision is up to the board itself, when it meets at the end of the month.
Historic preservationists are making another attempt to stop the Springfield School District from tearing down and replacing Enos School.
Jerry Jacobson of Save Old Springfield contends the demolition violates state law, because school district numbers show it would cost more to build a new school than to renovate the historic current building.
That would not be allowed under rules governing the use of life-safety bonds, which are the funding source for the project.
But District 186 tells the State Journal-Register that revised figures show that it would in fact be less expensive to build a new school.
County and state officials say the district’s plans appear to comply with the law and will be allowed to proceed.
There’s a new app for the Sangamon County court system. Users of the Sangamon County Circuit Clerk’s Office can get a mobile app to navigate the Clerk’s office from your smart phone.
The app allows users to find court schedules by date, case type, attorney, court room, judge and police agency. And allows the user to search name, case number, drivers license number, ticket number and filing date.
The Victory App is available on the Google Play market for Android Users.
Attorneys for two brothers accused in the 2009 murders of a Logan County family will be allowed to subpoena records related to the mental health of a teenager who died in the violence.
Lawyers for Christopher and Jason Harris want to bolster their claim that the brothers went to the home of Rick and Ruth Gee in Beason and found 14-year-old Dillen Constant killing his family, and that they in turn killed Dillen in self-defense.
The records are aimed at showing whether Dillen Constant had a history of violence or mental illness.
The judge in the case will review the records to determine whether they are admissible.
For the first time in years, Oak Ridge Cemetery has dollars to cover it's operations for the rest of the fiscal year without having to dip into two their endowment funds.
The Springfield City Council voted to give the site where Abraham Lincoln is buried money from the city’s corporate fund.
Springfield Budget Director Bill McCarty says that for as far as he can tell the cemetery has been operating by taking up to a million dollars over a handfull of years from funds set up to continue care for the grounds long after it there are no more plots available to sell.
Aldermen passed the measure 9-1 with Ward 1’s Frank Edwards as the only no vote.
Children from Montessori School hold signs inside the council chambers to protest a proposed zoning change
A ready mix concrete plant will have to scrap plans to develop a lot in Springfield after Aldermen voted to deny their petition for a zoning change.
The proposed change has area residents worried about the impact on their community and their children.
The property on Bachmann Drive off of N. Peoria Road is currently a residential area but a developer has proposed changing that to industrial to put in a ready mix concrete plant.
Opponents of the zoning change say that clouds and debris from the operation contain toxic chemicals and substances that could cause health problems and the increased number of trucks will tear up the roadways.
Montessori School is also in the area and they petitioned to oppose the zoning change. The chamber was full of families who stood in opposition to the development.
The zoning change was denied with a 9-0 with one voting present.
Alderman Steve Dove, whose children attend Montessori School, voted present because what he called three conflicts of interests--his three children.
They are considered sister, or twin, cities. But visiting leaders from Killarney, Ireland, say that despite their affection for Springfield, there are some key differences between the two communities.
The town manager and several city councilors have spent a few days visiting Springfield and looking for ways to promote more tourism back-and-forth. But appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” they also discussed their different approach to key issues.
For example, Killarney is one of the few Irish cities with government trash pickup. The city is also about to start charging for water for the first time… up until now, residential customers got water for free. And there is no residency requirement for Killarney city employees… even town manager John Breen lives outside Killarney.
Springfield public schools are showing some modest improvement overall in reading and math test scores, but most schools remain well below the “Adequate Yearly Progress” standards required under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Fewer than two-thirds of students meet the federal reading standards, and only about 75-percent are making sufficient progress in math.
However, Superintendent Walter Milton says those standards will soon be obsolete.
He expects Congress will scrap No Child Left Behind in favor of a system that focuses on “growth” from year to year, rather than meeting an arbitrary number.
District 186 will ask the City of Springfield for a share of the money generated by a planned Tax Increment Financing district along Dirksen Parkway, near the JC Penney store.
Ordinarily, increases in property tax values in a TIF district are rolled back in to improvements within that district, which means taxing bodies like the school district don’t get their usual share of the increased revenue.
But school board member Scott McFarland says District 186 should ask for as much as ten-percent of the increase, in order to help schools keep pace with expected growth related to the TIF district.
The Democratic candidate for Sangamon County State’s Attorney is suggesting he won’t prosecute concealed carry cases if he’s elected… because he expects any such prosecutions would ultimately be overturned as unconstitutional.
Ron Stradt says he’s not encouraging or advocating anyone to carry a concealed firearm. But he also says in light of recent Supreme Court rulings on gun rights, it would be a waste of time and resources to bring charges against, quote, “law-abiding citizens.” Stradt says that decision falls within his discretion as a prosecutor.
He is urging his fellow Democrats in the state legislature to allow a vote on concealed carry… Illinois is the only state in the nation that does not permit it.
An organizer of a union effort in the State Journal-Register newsroom says the goal is to preserve the quality of the newspaper and save the jobs of the local people who report the news.
Veteran medical reporter Dean Olsen says he believes strengthening that workforce will ultimately strengthen the paper and make it better equipped to compete in a changing media world. Olsen says after cutbacks in other areas of the newspaper, newsroom staffers see a need to have a formal contract to protect their rights and interests.
Those staffers voted overwhelmingly last week in favor of establishing the union, but it could take up to a year to negotiate a contract.
Illinoisans are split on the question of gambling expansion.
A new Chicago Tribune survey finds 47-percent of state voters are against the plan to create new casinos and add slot machines at horse racing tracks, while just 43-percent support the idea.
That gap is within the poll’s margin of error. Residents of Chicago... which would get its first casino under the proposal... were against the expansion, but downstate residents supported it, 47-to 42-percent.
While 51-percent of men were in favor of the gambling bill, only 36-percent of women supported it.
Governor Quinn vetoed the gambling expansion bill in August, but lawmakers still have a chance to override.
Despite ongoing concerns about the state economy and budget under Democratic leadership, the odds are stacked against the Illinois GOP when it comes to challenging Democrats for control of the General Assembly.
Republicans need to pick up a dozen seats — six in the state Senate and six in the House — to win a majority in either chamber for the first time in a decade.
But they're trying to do that in new legislative districts drawn by Democrats to help Democrats.
And even though every House and Senate seat is up for grabs, nearly half of those races are uncontested.
Embattled Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. is now the subject of a federal investigation... and a published report says the probe is over whether Jackson improperly used campaign money to redecorate his home.
Sources say this investigation is unrelated to allegations that Jackson was involved in former Governor Rod Blagojevich’s attempts to sell an appointment to the state’s vacant U.S. Senate seat in 2008.
Jackson remains absent from his job and from the campaign trail, now four months after he checked himself into a hospital for treatment of bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal problems.
Neither he nor his staff will comment on the new allegations.
An advocate for residents of the Jacksonville Developmental Center thinks the choking death of a resident last weekend can be tied to the upheaval surrounding the pending closure of the facility.
Lonnie Johns contends staff is being shuffled around to compensate for workers who have left before their jobs are eliminated. Johns says he fears JDC could become like the Lincoln Developmental Center, where 29 patients died after the state decided to close it a decade ago.
Meanwhile, a state lawmaker wants an investigation of the company hired by the state to oversee the shutdown of JDC. Republican Representative John Cavaletto of Salem says Community Resource Associates has been accused of ignoring advice from medical staff and family of JDC residents… and of rushing to move residents out before thorough reviews of their status are completed.
The company is trying to meet an October 31st deadline to close JDC, although it does not appear that everyone will be moved out by that time.
Several media reports say federal authorities are investigating the finances of Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr… who remains off the job after taking a medical leave of absence last summer.
The probe reportedly centers on expenditures by Jackson from a fund overseen by Congress… perhaps the money allocated to each member of Congress for staff and office expenses.
NBC News says Jackson’s lawyers have asked prosecutors not to file any possible charges before the November election… but prosecutors reportedly would not make any commitments.
Jackson has not been at work since entering a hospital in June for treatment of bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues. He has also been absent from the campaign trail, but at this point is still seen as a favorite for re-election against three virtually unknown challengers.
Reporters and other newsroom staffers at the State Journal-Register have voted to form a union. The proposal passed overwhelmingly, 26-4. The United Media Guild will now request formal contract negotiations.
The unionization movement follows months of cutbacks at the newspaper, as owner Gatehouse Media has closed the paper's printing press and transferred copy editing and layout operations to a centralized desk in Rockford.
Governor Pat Quinn’s approval ratings have hit an all-time low in a new Chicago Tribune poll. Only 26-percent of Illinois voters say they approve of the job Quinn is doing.
Quinn’s 26-percent approval rating is two points lower than his previous worst from September of 2010... just two months before the governor won election to a full term.
The rating is even worse among Downstate voters, where only 16-percent of voters back Quinn's overall job performance. And the numbers are even worse when it comes specifically to Quinn’s handling of the state budget… only 9-percent of Downstate voters give Quinn a thumbs up there.
The group formed to push for passage of a new residency requirement for Springfield city employees plans to distribute 40,000 lyers around town ahead of next month’s advisory referendum on the issue.
Springfield Citizens for Residency says it wants to respond to arguments from opponents of the referendum… including Mayor Mike Houston, who says imposing a new residency rule on future hires would force the city to make costly concessions to nearly two dozen unions.
Alderman Joe McMenamin and other members of the group contend that the unions would accept the change without pressing for concessions.
A group formed to push for passage of a referendum on next month’s ballot plans to distribute 40,000 flyers… urging Springfield voters to support the return of a residency rule for city workers.
Springfield Citizens for Residency inside the city council chambers
Springfield Citizens for Residency is also trying to refute some of the claims from those who oppose that non-binding referendum. Alderman Joe McMenamin and other members of the group say that Mayor Mike Houston is wrong when he claims the city would have to make costly concessions to unions in order to get them to accept a new residency requirement.
Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, the final say on residency is up to Springfield aldermen.
Springfield officials are clamping down tighter on security at the Municipal Center East.
New rules require visitors to the building to show a photo ID and to state the nature of their business. The building houses the office of the mayor, the police chief, and City Water Light and Power administration. The changes were recommended in a security audit.
But a spokesman for Mayor Mike Houston says the rule will not apply to the monthly “Meet with the Mayor” evening sessions in Houston’s office. Nathan Mihelich says even city residents who don’t have a photo ID will be able to get a 10-minute face-to-face sitdown with the mayor during those monthly events.
Governor Pat Quinn is still being blocked from implementing his plan to close two Illinois prisons and other facilities.
A Southern Illinois judge is extending the injunction he issued that prevents the plan from going forward.
The judge sided with AFSCME, which claims there are serious safety issues raised by the plan to close the Tamms supermax prison and the Dwight Correctional Center, and to transfer those inmates to other, already-overcrowded facilities.
The governor’s office says the delay in implementing the closure plan is costing the state $7 million dollars a month.
Congressional candidate Rodney Davis has picked up the formal endorsement of his former boss.
Republican Congressman John Shimkus gave his backing to his long-time aide during a Springfield news conference Wednesday.
Shimkus and Davis held a joint appearance to talk about energy policy. Both came out strongly against EPA rules which they say will hurt Illinois coal, and both vowed to push for completion of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Davis is running against Democrat David Gill in the 13th Congressional District.
Free leaf drop-off begins in Springfield on October 15th. The City is working with Evans Recycling at 2100 J. David Jones Parkway this year as their free drop-off site for residents to take their bagged leaves. However, for those using the free curbside pickup, they’ll have to wait until November first.
Leaves, whether they’re dropped off or set at the curb must be in paper yard waste bags, or in a can clearly marked ‘YARD WASTE’. Bags must not be secured with any type of tape. Bags will be picked up once per week through the month of November, beginning November first.
Even the candidate himself admits he’s a long shot for victory. But Andrew Dambrauskas says he’s still accomplishing something by waging a write-in campaign for the state legislature.
The 23-year-old college student says his candidacy allows him to raise issues that the better-funded major party candidates in the 96th House District are not addressing. Dambrauskas says he would do more to bolster education… which in turn would lead to more job opportunities and lower crime in the district.
Dambrauskas is hoping voters write in his name instead of marking their ballot for either Democrat Sue Scherer or Republican Dennis Shackelford.
Two Sangamon County officials are touting their success in bringing in nearly half-a-million dollars in fines that had been written off as “uncollectible.”
Circuit Clerk Tony Libri and State’s Attorney John Milhiser say by hiring a revenue recovery firm out of Chicago, they have been able to collect over $463,000 in fines that were assessed for speeding, seat belt violations and other traffic offenses.
The company is paid out by a share of the money it brings in. The two officials… both of whom are seeking re-election next month… say they hope to expand the effort to include fines for DUI and other misdemeanors and felonies.
A rapidly-growing Springfield appliance store is getting ready to build a new facility. Dick Van Dyke Appliance World will break ground next week on a new store that will go up next to the AMC Showplace 12 on West Wabash.
The retailer’s current west side store in White Oaks Plaza will remain open until the new store is completed in June of 2013. Dick Van Dyke Appliance World was started in Springfield and now has four Central Illinois stores.
It’s been ranked as the fastest-growing home appliance dealer in the U.S. for two of the past four years.
A 64-year-old woman is dead after an early morning fire just south of Toronto Road in Springfield.
Springfield Fire Chief Ken Fustin says that the call came in just after 1 in the morning to the 6200 block of Hayley Ct. in the Cotton Hill neighborhood where firefighters found an active fire in the bedroom of a duplex.
Fustin says that crews found the woman unresponsive and tried to resuscitate her but the victim was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.
Springfield Aldermen may subsidise the struggling, yet nationally historic, Oak Ridge Cemetery with an ordinance placed on the debate agenda for possible passage next week.
The $380,000 allocation from the corporate fund will go towards the rest of the cemetery’s fiscal year.
Budget Director Bill McCarty says the administration will no longer allow the cemetery to dip into its enterprise funds, something the past administrations allowed to happen, to make up for declining revenue.
McCarty also says that this may be the first step of eventually folding the cemetery’s financial position into the city’s corporate fund.
If the funds are not available, that means that payroll may not be met for cemetery employees.
Aldermen will debate the ordinance further next week before possibly passage.
The waste hauling overhaul ordinance is trashed ... for now.
Moments after opening the meeting of the Springfield City Council Committee of the Whole Tuesday, Ward 3 Alderman Doris Turner motioned to place her ordinance to overhaul waste hauling in the Capital City back in committee.
The controversial ordinance would have put a waste hauling fee on the City Water Light and Power bill of city residents in what sponsors Turner and Ward 6's Cory Jobe hope will cut down on fly dumping.
Turner and Jobe held three public meetings to discuss the ordinance and said they would have revisions made available before Tuesday's meeting.
Some proposed revisions included lowering the assessed fee, plus making it easier for so-called snow birds, people who leave the city for weeks or months at a time, to get rebates from waste haulers for the time they don't put garbage out.
Around two dozen members of the public got up and left the council chambers after aldermen approved to leave the ordinance in committee.
Even with new revisions, Springfield’s proposed trash overhaul ordinance appears to be in trouble.
A spot check of aldermen by the State Journal-Register finds six of the ten are opposed to billing for garbage collection through City Water Light and Power.
Only three are firmly in favor, including the two sponsors, Cory Jobe and Doris Turner. At least five votes would be needed to approve the plan.
The revised ordinance, which lowers the base rate for trash pickup and makes it easier for customers to temporarily halt service without being billed, goes before the City Council committee-of-the-whole tonight.
Recent rains have not reversed the trend of falling water levels at Lake Springfield, and city officials say it may be necessary to move to the next stage of water restrictions.
The lake is about three-and-a-half feet below full pool, and roughly two feet below normal for this time of year.
And levels are still dropping, primarily because of evaporation.
CWLP water manager Tom Skelly says within the next several weeks, the city may have to look at moving to "Stage 2" of water restrictions, which could include surcharges for customers who exceed a certain usage level.
And even tighter rules are possible next spring if the drought drags on.
Recent rains have not reversed the trend of falling water levels at Lake Springfield, and city officials say it may be necessary to move to the next stage of water restrictions.
The lake is about three-and-a-half feet below full pool, and roughly two feet below normal for this time of year. And levels are still dropping, primarily because of evaporation.
CWLP water manager Tom Skelly says within the next several weeks, the city may have to look at moving to "Stage 2" of water restrictions, which could include surcharges for customers who exceed a certain usage level. And even tighter rules are possible next spring if the drought drags on.
Conservative groups plan to seek an emergency injunction after a federal judge upheld Illinois laws limiting the amount of money that individuals, corporations, unions and PACs can donate to candidates.
The judge says removing the limits could open the door to more political corruption in the state.
But the Illinois Policy Institute, Liberty PAC, and others say the limits are an infringement on free speech.
They want an injunction that would prevent the state from enforcing the limits in the weeks leading up to Election Day.
The proposed changes to Springfield’s trash collection system can serve as a model of a public-private partnership that benefits the interests of business and government, according to Alderman Cory Jobe.
Jobe is responding to critics who say the pending ordinance opens the door to a City Hall takeover of waste pickup.
He says it’s not a takeover, it’s both sides working together for everyone’s benefit.
An amended version of the waste hauling ordinance is expected to be made public ahead of Tuesday’s city council committee-of-the-whole meeting.
Illinois is seeking bids for developing a statewide bikeway plan, one which could eventually link up bike paths all over the state and theoretically enable cyclists to use those paths to get from one end of Illinois to the other.
State officials say the plan could also focus on road development to ensure that they are constructed in a way that allows bicyclists to also use them safely to get to work or other destinations.
Federal, state and county offices are closed today for Columbus Day.
That includes the county election office, even as the deadline looms to register to vote in next month’s election.
Tuesday is the deadline for voter registration, but there will be a registration grace period that runs from Wednesday until November 3.
County residents will be able to register to vote at the county building during that time, but must cast their ballot right there when they register, they will not be allowed to vote at their regular polling place on November 6th.
Meanwhile, although other government offices are closed, Springfield city government is open, and downtown parking meters will be enforced.
The St. Louis Cardinals have kept their postseason hopes alive, in unusual fashion.
The Cardinals advanced to the National League Divisional Series with a 6-3 win over the Atlanta Braves. But the game prompted a protest from the Braves, after an unusual call in the 8th inning gave a lift to the Redbirds.
The Cardinals failed to field a shallow fly ball, which appeared to leave the Braves with the bases loaded and one out, trailing 6-3. But the umpire had already ruled the batter out, citing the infield fly rule. That left the Braves with two out. They failed to score in the inning and ultimately lost 6-3.
Angry fans littered the field with trash, forcing a nearly 20-minute delay in the game. Atlanta filed a protest, but Major League Baseball quickly rejected it, saying the umpire made an appropriate judgment call.
St. Louis advances to the next round of the playoffs, facing Jayson Werth and the Washington Nationals, starting Sunday.
A longtime fixture along South MacArthur is closing its doors… and cites the beautification efforts along the boulevard as one reason.
Town and Country Shell… which has operated near the former K-Mart building for decades… is shutting down with little advance notice.
Owner Jim Benson says high gas prices and the cost of processing credit card transactions have hurt his bottom line. But he also points to frequent city citations for building code violations connected to the beautification push.
He had been one of the most powerful behind-the-scenes players in Illinois and local politics, but now Bill Cellini is headed to federal prison.
The longtime Springfield businessman and political insider was sentenced to one year and one day behind bars for his role in an extortion scheme related to the corruption under former Governor Rod Blagojevich.
He was also ordered to pay a $75,000 fine.
Before he was sentenced, Cellini told the court that he took responsibility for his actions and apologized for the pain he caused his family.
He is scheduled to report to prison on January 4th… there’s no word yet on where he will be incarcerated.
A revised version of a trash ordinance for Springfield could be out later today.
And its sponsors say it will include a waiver provision that would allow people to opt out of garbage pickup, and not be billed for it, if they will be away for an extended period.
The original version of the ordinance would have continued to assess the trash pickup fee on the customer’s City Water Light and Power bill, requiring the homeowner to seek a rebate from their waste hauler.
The revised ordinance will also change the “base rate” that would be charged for garbage pickup.
The changes are intended to address concerns raised by residents and waste haulers ahead of a City Council vote later this month.
Mayor Mike Houston wants you to vote “no” on next month’s advisory referendum about a new residency rule for Springfield city workers.
Houston says he’s a supporter of a residency requirement, but says the reality is that imposing the rule on future hires would be a material change in working conditions that would have to be negotiated with nearly two-dozen employee unions.
And Houston says that could force the city to make costly concessions.
Alderman Joe McMenamin doesn’t believe the city would have to make major concessions to implement the change, but Houston says he has a bridge to sell anyone who believes that.
Springfield powerbroker Bill Cellini has been sentenced to time behind bars for his role in the corruption that flourished under former Governor Rod Blagojevich.
The veteran political insider was ordered to serve one year and one day in prison for taking part in an attempt to shake down a Hollywood producer for a campaign donation in exchange for his effort to do business with the state.
Cellini was also ordered to pay a $75,000 fine. Judge James Zagel ordered him to report to prison on January 4, 2013.
Prosecutors had sought a harsher prison term, saying it was needed to send a clear signal to others who might think about engaging in political corruption. But defense lawyers had urged leniency, seeking probation for a man who they said was an upstanding and generous citizen who is now in frail health with heart problems and other issues.
Mayor Mike Houston says he’s remains a firm supporter of a residency rule for city workers… but he’s still urging Springfield residents to vote against the idea in next month’s advisory referendum.
Houston says any push by aldermen to reinstate a residency requirement would put the city in a position of having to negotiate the change with nearly two dozen unions… and to make costly concessions to get them to go along with it.
Alderman Joe McMenamin… who is pushing to reinstate the residency rule… says he doesn’t think the city will have to make concessions in order to impose the new requirement. But Houston says anyone who thinks that doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
The city of Springfield will be able to use its City Water Light and Power computers to determine which households are unoccupied, and therefore don’t need to be billed for trash pickup… according to Mayor Mike Houston.
Houston is trying to defuse concerns from residents who fear that the proposed shift of billing waste pickup to CWLP will make it harder for them to temporarily halt trash pickup, and to halt the bills, while they’re away.
Houston says the city can see when electricity and water usage drops below a certain level… and will know that the residents are away and won’t need to be billed for garbage collection.
The proposed trash pickup ordinance is undergoing revisions… an amended version could be released by this weekend.
While local waste haulers gear up to oppose a trash pickup overhaul plan in Springfield, the plan itself may get an overhaul.
Aldermen Cory Jobe and Doris Turner, appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Ray Lytle Show” Wednesday, say they will tweak the ordinance based on concerns raised by the waste haulers and by residents who have attended town meetings on the issue.
They did not offer many details, except to say there will be a change in the base rate that residents would be charged for trash pickup through their CWLP bill.
But it’s not clear if the revisions will address other concerns from the waste haulers, including fears that the plan will create a costly new bureaucracy that will diminish service.
The legacy of Bill Cellini is becoming an issue in the race for Sangamon County auditor.
Democratic challenger Chris Boyster is attacking Republican incumbent Paul Palazzolo for ties to the convicted powerbroker.
Palazzolo says he has donated money to charity in an amount roughly equal to funds he got from Cellini’s Good Government Council, but says he won’t return money he got from two other funds that are partially connected to Cellini.
Boyster is also raising questions about county contracts with the property management firm founded by Cellini and now run by his children.
The state department of corrections has eased security measures that will be used to manage the violent offenders being transferred from the Tamms supermax prison to the facility at Pontiac.
The new rules reduce the number of officers that must accompany the Tamms inmates, change the restraints used on them, and require Pontiac inmates in segregation to double up in order to accommodate the influx of new prisoners.
Prison officials say there are sufficient safeguards in place to handle the Tamms population.
But workers say the moves will add to the dangers at Pontiac.
A proposed constitutional amendment could put the pensions of state workers, teachers and other public sector employees in jeopardy.
That’s according to a retired U of I professor, who says the amendment on next month’s ballot is vaguely worded, but appears to contain a provision that would undo the current provisions in the Illinois Constitution that prevent a reduction in pension benefits for those workers.
The amendment would require a three-fifths vote before any public body could increase pension benefits, but retired professor John Kindt says that’s a smoke screen for an all-out assault on public sector pensions.
Despite steps to change how an historic Springfield cemetery is funded, Budget Director Bill McCarty says that burial services at Oak Ridge will not be diminished.
The nationally historic cemetery where President Abraham Lincoln is buried has, for a while, been operating with expenses surpassing revenue. During that time, Oak Ridge has been drawing down from their pre-need and perpetual care endowment funds.
McCarty says that the city is in the process of appropriating funds from the corporate fund to the cemetery to help stabilize its finances and may soon fold the two cemetery funds into the city’s corporate fund.
Springfield aldermen approved an ordinance that would give the Central Illinois Community Blood Center just over $1.9 million dollars in Tax Increment Finance Funds from the Park South district for a new building.
The developer, a non-profit, will use the money to build a new 24,000 square foot building on two vacant lots just south of Stanford on 10th Street. This will be the site for the blood center's storage and labs.
Aldermen Joe McMenamin had a laundry list of objections for using the TIF funds for the project. Among those reasons, McMenamin says the Blood Center won’t build upon the tax base.
He says another development that could improve the tax base would be more suited for that area and the TIF funds could be used for another project to beautify an area of downtown.
The vote was 9-1 with McMenamin as the lone no vote.
Springfield public school principals are questioning whether their work is valued after the school board voted to deny them pay raises or "longevity increases" based upon years of service.
The blow may have been magnified by a botched vote which at first appeared to grant the pay increases... until board member Judy Johnson indicated she had voted incorrectly and switched her vote, defeating the pay hikes.
Susan Palmer with the Springfield Principals Association says the group understands that times are tough, but says there should at least be some recognition for the years of service that principals put in.
The new committee set up to push for approval of a new residency rule for Springfield city workers is so far funded entirely by an elderly widow.
Alderman Joe McMenamin says the committee was established with a $2,000 donation from Margot Kramer. She is also a major contributor to McMenamin’s separate campaign fund, donating another $3,000 to him over the past two years.
“Springfield Citizens for Residency” has begun distributing literature asking city residents to vote “yes” on a November advisory referendum about the residency issue.
Springfield public school principals are questioning whether their work is valued after the school board voted to deny them pay raises or "longevity increases" based upon years of service. The blow may have been magnified by a botched vote which at first appeared to grant the pay increases... until board member Judy Johnson indicated she had voted incorrectly and switched her vote, defeating the pay hikes. Susan Palmer with the Springfield Principals Association says the group understands that times are tough, but says there should at least be some recognition for the years of service that principals put in.