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October 22, 2014, 2:59 am
970 WMAY News Archives for 2012-12

Two People Found Dead In Home On North Ninth Street


Springfield police are investigating the death of two people in a home in the 900 block of North Ninth Street.

 

Lt. Stokes of the SPD says police believe it’s a homicide, but have not released the gender of the individuals, nor have they made any arrests in the case. They’re still trying to identify suspects.

 

Stokes says an acquaintance of the deceased found the bodies and called the police department around 3:20 Monday afternoon to report the deaths.

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk Back To Work


U.S. Senator Mark Kirk will return to Capitol Hill this week for the first time since suffering a stroke almost a year ago. The Chicago Sun-Times reports the return will include some symbolism… with Kirk climbing the stairs of the U.S. Capitol, to be greeted at the top by Vice-President Joe Biden, who also functions as President of the Senate.

 

Kirk has not been at work and has rarely been seen in public since the stroke impaired the use of his left side. But aides say he has remain engaged and has consulted regularly with Senator Dick Durbin on issues of importance to the state.

Fireworks Still Planned For First Night Downtown Springfield


Fireworks are still scheduled for downtown Springfield this evening, despite the snowy weather.

 

A fireworks display is planned for six-15 p.m. as part of First Night Springfield, and organizers say the snow won’t be a problem. But if the winds pick up, that could affect the fireworks. Winds of more than 18 miles per hour could force cancellation of the display, but organizers say the forecast looks favorable for the fireworks to go on as planned tonight.

 

All other First Night events, including entertainment at six downtown venues tonight, will go on as scheduled, regardless of the weather. Stay with 970 WMAY for updates.

Illinois Business Leaders Push For Gay Marriage


A group of Illinois business leaders is urging state lawmakers to approve legislation allowing gay couples to marry. The letter is reportedly signed by the CEOs of a number of top Illinois-based companies, including Google and Morningstar.

 

An executive of the Chicago Cubs has also reportedly signed the letter. It says marriage equality is “pro-growth and pro-jobs,” because it creates a fair, respectful and equitable environment for all citizens, making it easier to attract good employees.

 

The state Senate could take up a bill to legalize same-sex marriage as early as this week.

Lovie Smith Fired As Chicago Bears Coach After Nine Seasons


The end of a disappointing season also means the end of Lovie Smith's tenure as coach of the Chicago Bears.

 

Smith was dumped Monday as the team's head coach, one day after the Bears missed the playoffs despite a 10-6 record.  The Bears got off to a fast 7-1 start, but faded in the second half of the season behind a struggling offense.

 

The Bears join a long list of NFL teams who will be looking for new coaches in the offseason.

Boil Orders For Ashland, Part Of Nilwood


Two area communities are affected by boil orders at the start of the New Year.

 

Ashland is under a boil order until further notice because of a water main break Sunday.  The order remains in effect until testing can confirm that the water is safe to drink, but that is unlikely to happen until after the New Year's Day holiday.

 

A similar boil order affects a portion of Nilwood, west of the railroad tracks.

Winter Weather Could Affect New Year's Celebrations


2012 will apparently end with a blanket of white across Central Illinois. 

 

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect from noon today (Monday) through 6am on New Year’s Day.  The National Weather Service is predicting a total of two to three inches of snow by the time it all ends early Tuesday. 

 

That could give area police even more to keep them busy.  Expanded patrols were already planned overnight to watch out for New Year’s partiers who may be driving under the influence.

Springfield's Tan Ban For Minors Takes Effect Tuesday; Statewide Ban Could Follow


Springfield begins the new year with a new law on the books.  The city’s ban on use of tanning salons by anyone under the age of 18 takes effect on New Year’s Day. 

 

Springfield is only the second Illinois city to impose such a ban, but we may soon have company.  Alderman Sam Cahnman… who sponsored the Springfield ordinance… says legislation will be introduced this month to impose a statewide tanning ban for all minors.  Current state law only prohibits the practice for those 14 and younger.

Illegal Immigrants Fearful Of Drivers License Legislation


A measure to allow illegal immigrants to obtain Illinois drivers licenses could be approved this month… but many undocumented immigrants say they fear the measure could be used to identify them for future deportation. 

 

Supporters of the bill deny that. They say it will make roadways safer by acknowledging the reality that illegal immigrants are here and are driving on the state’s roads. It allows them to get licenses if they have insurance and take a driving test.

Topinka: Fiscal Cliff Would Be Disastrous For Illinois


If the federal government goes over the fiscal cliff this week, it could take the state of Illinois with it. 

 

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is warning of dire consequences if the feds don’t reach a deal on spending and taxes. 

 

Topinka says the state budget could take a billion-dollar hit… and says increased payroll taxes could cost Illinoisans $6 billion in take-home pay.

Unemployment Benefits Ending For 90,000 Illinoisans This Weekend


90,000 Illinois residents are facing their own fiscal cliff this weekend. 

 

A federal program that provided extended emergency unemployment benefits for those residents expires this weekend. 

 

The program provided an additional 20 weeks of benefits beyond the 25 weeks covered under the state’s unemployment insurance program.

Cullerton: Votes Are There In Senate To Pass Same-Sex Marriage


A bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois will be introduced in the state Senate next week… and a spokesperson for Senate President John Cullerton says the votes are there to pass it. 

 

The outcome is less certain in the Illinois House, though, as lawmakers will try to pass the bill while also dealing with a host of other contentious issues in a shortened “lame duck” session.

Last Inmates Moved From Tamms Supermax Prison


The era of the notorious Tamms "supermax" is over, as the last five inmates housed there were packed up and moved Friday.

 

The transfer of the five to Pontiac Correctional Center ends a nearly 15-year Illinois experiment with the high-security prison.

 

The facility isolated the "worst of the worst" inmates from the rest of the inmate population and kept them in their cells 23 hours a day.

Springfield-To-Florida Flight Schedule Extended


Florida will stay on Springfield’s flight path through most of next summer. 

 

Allegiant Air has again extended its schedule of flights between Springfield and the Fort Myers area to run through at least August 12. 

 

The airport says heavy demand for the tickets led Allegiant to expand a schedule that had originally only run through the winter and early spring.

Illinois Smoke Free For Five Years


New Year’s Day marks five years since Illinois went smoke-free in public. The state’s smoking ban in restaurants and bars took effect January 1 of 2008.

 

To mark the anniversary, the state Department of Public Health plans a series of public service announcements encouraging people to continue obeying the anti-smoking law and to support businesses that ensure a smoke-free environment.

2012 Good Year For Illinois Businesses


2012 has been a very good year for a lot of Illinois-based companies.

 

Crain’s Chicago Business tracks the performance of publicly-traded Illinois firms through its “Chicago Index,” measuring the performance of more than 140 companies. This year, the Illinois firms saw an increase of more than 11-percent in their stock prices over last year.

 

Some of the best performers were the housing-materials supplier USG, OfficeMax, and the parent company of Fisher Nuts. Illinois companies that saw declines this year include Groupon… a company promoting web-based deals… and McDonald’s, which saw its stock price drop more than 11-percent.

Unemployment Down In Springfield


It may be another sign of a strengthening local economy. 

 

Springfield’s unemployment rate fell in November to six-point-eight percent… down sharply from a year earlier.  It was the lowest jobless rate for November since the start of the economic downturn in 2008. 

 

Similar good news was reported around Illinois, with unemployment down in 11 of the state’s 12 major metro areas last month.  Only Decatur saw an increase in unemployment in November.

McMenamin Vows To Vote ''No'' On Mayor's Budget


At least one Springfield alderman is already coming out in opposition to Mayor Mike Houston’s budget proposal. 

 

Houston this week delivered a budget that he says is balanced… and applies a million more dollars toward the city’s unfunded liability for police and fire pensions.  But Alderman Joe McMenamin says that’s not enough to make a dent in a funding gap that’s approaching $200 million. 

 

McMenamin also says the city is digging an even deeper hole by overestimating the rate of return on pension investments.  But Houston says accepting a lower estimate would force the city to kick in even more money, taking resources away from other vital services.

Dozens Of New Laws Take Effect Tuesday


Drivers will pay more to renew their Illinois license plates next year in order to help fund repairs to state parks, strip clubs will have to contribute to rape crisis programs and employers will no longer be allowed to ask job applicants for their social media passwords. 

 

Those are among 150 new laws approved this year which will take effect on New Year’s Day. 

 

Other new laws include one which prohibits the possession of shark fins, and another intended to improve reporting requirements when someone has a mental illness that may make them unsuited to own a gun.

Natural Christmas Tree Curbside Recycling Starts Next Week


It’s time to take the tree down before the needles start falling off into the carpeting.

 

The Office of Public Works will begin picking up natural fir and evergreen Christmas trees in the City of Springfield. Residents can start placing the trees on the curb by 7am on Wednesday, January 2nd. Crews will pick up the trees for two weeks through Friday, January 18th. After that time, residents can dispose of trees through their normal garbage service.

 

Trees should have no flocking, tinsel, decorations, or ornaments and no board stands nailed to the tree trunk. Garlands and wreaths made with wire will not be accepted. Flocked trees cannot be recycled, but must be given to waste haulers to remove.

 

Also ribbons, bows, plastic coverings, metallic wrapping paper and Styrofoam cannot be accepted for recycling. Those should also be disposed of through their garbage service.

Alderman McMenamin Says Mayor's Budget Is Not Enough


One alderman is already a no vote on the Mayor's proposed budget, even if the plan addresses a chief concern. Alderman Joe McMenamin says the plan needs to be more aggressive in funding police and fire pensions.

 

Mayor Mike Houston's proposed budget for fiscal year 2014 increases payments to the pension funds by one million dollars, but McMenamin says that is not enough. In a statement, McMenamin also says he will continue to vote no on future union contracts that do not include wage freezes. The ward 7 alderman has been calling for the expected rate of return for pension fund investments to be brought down to 5.5 percent. Houston says dropping it that low so rapidly would increase the city's financial obligation and cut into vital city services.

 

Houston says he plans to slowly lower the rate of return over the next few years to allow the city to better fund its obligation. The new budget has to be approved by the end of February.

Dist. 186 School Board Race Set: Three Incumbents Not Seeking Reelection


The Springfield School Board will definitely have a new look next year.

 

Three incumbents on the seven-member board have decided not to run for re-election.

 

Nick Stoutamyer, Candace Mueller, and Bill Looby all opted not to run again.

 

And two other incumbents… Lisa Funderburg and Susan White… will face challenges in the spring election.

 

The other two current members of the board, Scott McFarland and Judith Johnson, are running unopposed.

 

McFarland had expected to face a challenge from former board member Jamie Sisti, but she failed to file a statement of economic interest before Wednesday’s deadline and will not be included on the ballot.

New Illinois National Guard Adjutant General To Focus on Soldier Reintegration


The new adjutant general for the Illinois National Guard says his experience as a chaplain will help him address one of the biggest challenges facing guardsmen… reintegrating back into civilian life after a long deployment.

 

General Daniel Krumrei says the Guard does a much better job now with helping servicemembers and their families adjust than it did at the start of the war on terror… but thinks even more can be done to ease that transition.

 

Krumrei also plans to keep working on Guard readiness, even though he expects fewer overseas deployments in the future.

Springfield's Housing Sales Up 10 Percent in 2012


Springfield home sales are closing out 2012 on a high note.

 

The Capital Area Association of Realtors says November home sales increased 17% compared to a year earlier… and are up more than 10% for the entire year to date compared to the same time frame in 2011.

 

And the realtors’ group thinks even more growth is likely next year… depending on the outcome of federal “fiscal cliff” talks and their impact on taxes.

 

It’s the latest optimistic prediction for growth in the local economy in 2013.

New Handicapped Parking Placards Abuse Law for 2013 Comes With Stiff Penalties


The new year will bring new, tougher penalties for people who misuse handicapped parking placards.

 

The new law was pushed by Secretary of State Jesse White.

 

It says that anyone who keeps using the placard of someone who is now deceased could be charged with a misdemeanor.

 

The new law that takes effect January 1st also increases the fines and license suspension times for other improper uses of the placards.

Springfield School Board Races Set; Three Incumbents Won't Seek Re-Election


Three incumbents have decided not to seek re-election to the Springfield School Board. 

 

Nick Stoutamyer, Candace Mueller and Bill Looby did not file petition papers for the spring election before Wednesday’s deadline.  Two other incumbents, Lisa Funderburg and Susan White, will face challengers in the spring. 

 

And two incumbents, Judy Johnson and Scott McFarland, are unopposed.  McFarland had expected to face former board member Jamie Sisti… but she failed to file a statement of economic interest and will not appear on the ballot.

 

The races for Springfield school board shape up as follows (incumbent designated with the letter I):

 

*Subdistrict 1: Lisa Funderburg (I) and Teresa Jones

*Subdistrict 2: Brian Harmony and Adam Lopez

*Subdistrict 3: Scott McFarland (I)

*Subdistrict 4: Susan White (I) and J. Michael "Mike" Zimmers

*Subdistrict 5: Donna Moore and Katharine Eastvold

*Subdistrict 6: Judith Ann Johnson (I)

*Subdistrict 7: Gary Pierce, Charles "Chuck" Flamini, and Tom Shafer

New Adjutant General Says Experience As Chaplain Will Help Him Lead Illinois National Guard


He’s worked in the infantry and with artillery… but the new head of the Illinois National Guard has spent most of his military career as a chaplain. 

 

And new Adjutant General Dan Krumrei (KRUM’-roy) of Springfield says he thinks that experience is why Governor Pat Quinn chose him to take over the Guard in a time of transition. 

 

Krumrei says one of the big jobs for the Guard will be to help returning servicemen and women readjust to civilian life.  But domestic and overseas deployments will remain commonplace, and Krumrei says he expects to spend a lot of time on the road with the people under his command, getting a first-hand look at their issues and challenges.

Careless Smoking Blamed For Fatal Fire


Springfield fire officials say careless use of smoking materials caused a blaze that killed a city man last week. 

 

50-year-old James Robert Akers died in the fire at his home on East Cornell Thursday night. 

 

Fire chief Ken Fustin says the investigation revealed the connection to smoking materials, and says the case is now closed.

Illinois' Lame Duck Session Shaping Up


The schedule will be tight over the next two weeks for Illinois lawmakers hoping to find a pension fix and deal with other key issues before their term ends.

 

The Senate plans to be in session for just three days… starting January 2nd.

 

And the House also has just a three-day calendar, starting after the Senate session concludes.

 

Governor Pat Quinn says he believes that will still be enough to get a deal done on pension reform before the new General Assembly is seated January 9th.

Springfield City Budget Calls for Spending More on Fire and Police Pensions


The first draft of next year’s Springfield city budget calls for additional spending on police and fire pensions… without tax increases or layoffs.

 

But the State Journal-Register reports the city plans to cover some of those costs by reducing headcount through attrition and “consolidating” some positions, and through what is described as “aggressive collective bargaining.”

 

Aldermen will now start going through the budget section by section over the next month.

 

Deadline for passage is February 28th.

Woman Remains in Intensive Care After Being Struck by Vehicle


A Springfield woman remains in critical condition after being struck by a car on South Sixth Street on Christmas Eve.

 

Authorities have not released the woman’s name, but indicate she suffered multiple internal injuries and is hospitalized in intensive care.

 

There has been no word yet on possible citations.

Sheriff's Detectives Seize Suspect Vehicle in Weekend Shooting


Sangamon County detectives have seized a suspect vehicle and are investigating "persons of interest" in a weekend shooting that sent a woman to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head.

 

The victim, who is expected to survive, was shot in a car that she occupied with her two teenage sons; they were uninjured.

 

The shooting took place Saturday on North Street.

 

The sheriff's department says the windows of the victim's car were shot out.

 

Police gathered evidence from the vehicle and recovered a bullet that was removed from the victim's head.

 

Police later located the suspect vehicle, a 2012 Ford Taurus rental car.

 

No arrests have been made yet, but the investigation continues.

Detectives Seek ''Persons Of Interest'' In Weekend Shooting


Sangamon County detectives have seized a suspect vehicle and are investigating "persons of interest" in a weekend shooting that sent a woman to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head.  She is expected to survive.

 

The victim was shot in a car that she occupied with her two teenage sons; they were uninjured.  The shooting took place Saturday on North Street.

 

The sheriff's department says the windows of the victim's car were shot out.  Police gathered evidence from the vehicle and recovered a bullet that was removed from the victim's head.  Police later located the suspect vehicle, a 2012 Ford Taurus rental car.

 

No arrests have been made yet, but the investigation continues.

Illinois Gun Manufactures Could Be Factor in Possible Assault Weapons Ban


The debate over a possible assault weapons ban in Illinois could hinge in part on its effect on jobs in the state.

 

There are several gun manufacturers located in Illinois, employing several hundred people.

 

They have threatened in the past to leave the state if Illinois reimposes a ban.

 

Some state lawmakers say Illinois should wait to see what Congress does on the issue.

Minimum Wage Group Pushes for $15/hour


Among the items that could surface in next month’s legislative lame duck session is a bill to gradually raise Illinois’s minimum wage to $10.50 an hour.

 

But a labor group marched in Chicago Saturday demanding more.

 

The group calling itself “Fight for 15” says Illinois should have a minimum wage of $15 per hour to allow workers to make ends meet.

Madigan Cancels Scheduled Days in Lame Duck Session


Lawmakers may not have much time to get in everything they need to do in the lame duck session.

 

The Illinois Observer newsletter reports House Speaker Mike Madigan has cancelled several scheduled session days in early January, and won’t call the House back until January 6th… just three days before the new General Assembly is seated.

 

That may not leave much time to resolve issues like pension reform, same-sex marriage and other key pieces of legislation before the January 9th deadline.

Pension, Drought Top AP List for 2012


For the first time in four years, Rod Blagojevich’s crimes and punishment are not the biggest story of the year in Illinois.

 

The Associated Press says the state’s lingering, and worsening, pension crisis and the failed efforts to fix it rank at number one this year, followed by the drought.

 

But the start of Blagojevich’s prison term still came in at number three.

 

Those stories could all factor into our own countdown of the biggest state and local stories of the year… you’ll hear that next weekend on 970 WMAY.

Assault Weapons Ban Debate In Illinois May Hinge On Gunmaking Jobs


The debate over a possible assault weapons ban in Illinois could hinge in part on its effect on jobs in the state. 

 

There are several gun manufacturers located in Illinois, employing several hundred people.  They have threatened in the past to leave the state if Illinois reimposes a ban. 

 

Some state lawmakers say Illinois should wait to see what Congress does on the issue.

Woman Shot In Springfield; No Arrests Yet


Sangamon County deputies continue to investigate a shooting Saturday in Springfield that sent a woman to the hospital.

 

The victim was wounded while in her car along North Street, at the south end of town.  She is expected to recover. 

 

No one is in custody yet.

Off-Duty Conservation Cop Cleared In Fatal Shooting


An off-duty officer for the state Conservation Police will not face charges after fatally shooting a man in his Decatur home last weekend. 

 

Authorities say the officer acted properly in self-defense when he was confronted in his home by a domestic violence suspect. 

 

The incident happened when a battered woman knocked on the officer’s door seeking help.  The officer let her in but the man followed, and was shot when he continued advancing, even after the armed officer ordered him to stop.

Pensions, Not Blagojevich, Are Biggest State Story Of 2012


For the first time in four years, Rod Blagojevich’s crimes and punishment are not the biggest story of the year in Illinois. 

 

The Associated Press says the state’s lingering, and worsening, pension crisis and the failed efforts to fix it rank at number one this year, followed by the drought.  But the start of Blagojevich’s prison term still came in at number three. 

 

[Those stories could all factor into our own countdown of the biggest state and local stories of the year… you’ll hear that next weekend on 970 WMAY.]

Protestors Want $15/Hr. Minimum Wage In Illinois


Among the items that could surface in next month’s legislative lame duck session is a bill to gradually raise Illinois’s minimum wage to $10.50 an hour. 

 

But a labor group marched in Chicago Saturday demanding more.  The group calling itself “Fight for 15” says Illinois should have a minimum wage of $15 per hour to allow workers to make ends meet.

Enforcement Details Planned For The Holidays


It’s another holiday travel weekend… and that means another push by state and local law enforcement to crack down on drunk drivers and seat belt violations. 

 

Sangamon County says much of its effort will focus on the late night hours… when the numbers of violations and fatalities tend to increase.  The enforcement blitz will continue into New Year’s Day.

Six New Springfield Cops Sworn In


Six new Springfield police officers have been sworn in. 

 

For one, it’s a family affair.  New officer Dane Cookson will serve on the force with his father, an SPD sergeant also named Dane Cookson. 

 

Five of the six new officers graduated just this week from the State Police Academy.

Fire Victim Identified


A 50-year-old Springfield man is dead following a fire at his home. 

 

Coroner Cinda Edwards says James Robert Akers died of smoke inhalation.  He was pronounced dead at the scene Thursday night after firefighters responded to the blaze at his residence on East Cornell.

 

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Springfield Chaplain To Run Illinois National Guard


A longtime chaplain in the Illinois National Guard has now been chosen as the state’s new adjutant general. 

 

Daniel Krumrei of Springfield will head up the Department of Military Affairs and oversee all National Guard operations. 

 

Krumrei is a 35-year veteran of the Guard.  He replaces Bill Enyart, who retired earlier this year to launch a successful run for Congress.

Judge's Promotion Could Further Delay Beason Murders Trial


A Logan County judge has been appointed to a state appellate court. 

 

Judge Thomas Harris’s new assignment begins on January 3rd.  The appointment means his current cases will have to be reassigned… including the pending trials of two brothers accused in the 2009 murders of five members of a Beason family.  That could mean additional delays in that long-standing case.

Man Dies In Springfield House Fire


One man is dead following an overnight fire in Springfield.

 

The fire at a single family residence at the 1800 block of East Cornell was called in at 11:35 Thursday evening.

 

Fire Chief Ken Fustin says the identity of the victim is unknown at this time. There were no ohter injuries reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Springfield Fire Safety Division.

Blizzard Conditions Meant a Frustrating Commute Thursday Evening


It wasn’t the end of the world predicted by the Mayans… but it might have felt like it at times for drivers trying to get home in the middle of blizzard conditions Thursday night.

 

The snow and high winds led to numerous accidents, including multiple semis overturned or jackknifed on local interstates.

 

About 100 Ameren customers are still without power in the immediate Springfield area, but most City Water Light and Power customers have been restored.

 

Roads remain slick today, and the wind continues to be strong, so authorities are still urging you to be cautious while traveling.

Rees Memorial Carillon To Ring Bells in Memory of Sandy Hook Elementary


The largest bell at Springfield’s Rees Memorial Carillon will toll 26 times this morning… once for each of the children and teachers shot to death in a Connecticut school exactly one week ago.

 

The tribute will take place this morning at 8:30 at the carillon in Washington Park.

 

Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed today as a ``Day of Mourning'' in Illinois for the victims of last week's Connecticut school shooting.

Background Checks For Gun Purchases Soar in Illinois


Background checks ahead of gun purchases have soared in Illinois in the days since the Connecticut school shooting.

 

The checks… which are required under state law… nearly doubled from last Friday, the day of the shooting, through Tuesday, compared to the same time frame a year ago.

 

Gun store owners and others think the surge in sales is driven primarily by concerns that new stricter gun laws could be enacted in the aftermath of the school shooting, so purchasers want to get the weapons while they can.

Bill Daley Considering Primary Challenge Against Gov. Quinn


Governor Pat Quinn could face a primary challenge in 2014.

 

Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley says he is considering a run for the Democratic nomination.

 

Daley… whose brother and father both served as mayor of Chicago… says the state is lacking in leadership to solve its toughest problems.

 

Quinn is expected to seek another term in 2014.

Numerous Traffic Tieups, Power Outages Around Springfield From Major Winter Storm


A major winter storm that slammed into Central and Northern Illinois has made travel a nightmare in the Springfield area... but even those staying put might find themselves in the dark.

 

The snow and high winds caused numerous semis to jackknife on Interstates 55 and 72, bringing traffic to a virtual standstill at several points along the highway.

 

In addition, the combination of snow and high winds knocked out power to hundreds of people in and around Springfield.  And the winds will remain a problem throughout the night, which could hamper efforts to get the power back on.

 

Stay with 970 WMAY for updates on this significant storm.

Blizzard Warning Until Midnight Thursday Night


The first big taste of winter in Central Illinois is shaping up to be the worst winter storm in nearly two years.

 

The National Weather Service has issued a Blizzard Warning for the 970 WMAY listening area until midnight Thursday night.  Springfield and surrounding areas could see 2-5 inches of snow.  Additionally, dangerous winds gusting to 60 miiles per hour will further complicate travel.  Authorities say travel is not advised during the evening hours, as the blowing and drifting snow could make roads impassable and lead to "black ice" conditions.

 

Stay with 970 WMAY for the latest on the changing weather conditions and information about closings.

Gun Background Checks Soar In School Shooting Aftermath


Last week's deadly shooting at a Connecticut school has already had an impact on gun ownership... it has apparently caused sales to skyrocket.

 

State mandated background checks nearly doubled from last Friday's shooting through Tuesday of this week, compared to the same time period a year ago.

 

Gun dealers and state police think the sales may have been boosted in part by concerns among gun enthusiasts that the school shooting will lead to more restrictive laws that could make it harder to get those weapons in the future.

Carillon Bell To Toll For Connecticut Shooting Victims


The largest bell at Springfield's Rees Memorial Carillon will toll 26 times Friday morning, one week to the minute after the start of a deadly rampage in California that claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 teachers.

 

The tribute coincides with a moment of silence declared by Connecticut's governor in memory of the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown.

 

The carillon bell will be rung Friday morning, starting at 8:30am Springfield time.

Labor Coalition Has Pension Plan of Their Own


A coalition of labor unions says its members are willing to pay more to bring the public sector pension crisis under control… if others are willing to do the same.

 

The “We Are One” coalition says members would agree to pay an additional two-percent of their salaries toward pension costs, in exchange for an “ironclad” guarantee that the state will make its required pension contributions in the future.

 

The group also wants to close some tax loopholes and impose some new taxes, with the money also going toward unfunded pension liabilities.

 

“We Are One” says its proposal would be constitutional, unlike other ideas currently pending in the legislature.

Prison Closure Could Happen Within Weeks


The last obstacle to the closure of two Illinois prisons and several other corrections facilities has been removed.

 

A Southern Illinois judge has lifted his injunction that blocked Quinn from proceeding with the shutdown.

 

The governor’s office says the Tamms supermax prison and the Dwight women’s facility will close within weeks, as will several juvenile detention centers and halfway houses.

 

AFSCME opposes the shutdown, saying it will add to overcrowding in other prisons and jeopardize the safety of guards and inmates.

Robbery Roundup Nabs Three


Springfield police believe they have the men responsible for a string of recent armed robberies.

 

Robert Mims, Jr., Alvin Mims and Kevin Johnson were taken into custody after police spotted suspects matching the description of the robbers who held up the Subway store on North Grand early Tuesday.

 

Authorities now think the three carried out several other recent holdups at restaurants and retail stores.

 

Alvin Mims Robert Mims Kevin Johnson
Alvin Mims Robert Mims Kevin Johnson

 

New Squad Car Cameras Coming to Springfield Police Department


The Springfield Police Department will soon be reimbursed nearly $53,000 after being awarded a grant for new squad car video camera systems.

 

Springfield Police Department

Currently there are a few vehicles that are equipped with cameras, but the new batch will add to the arsenal.

 

Police Chief Robert Williams says new cameras will be installed in 10 different squad cars to reinforce patrol efforts.

 

The camera systems are activated when police turn on their lights and sirens. There will also be high quality audio recording with the new devices.

 

The video compiled by the cameras will be used as evidence in active cases but won’t be kept indefinitely. Williams says his department will work with the Corporation Counsel’s office to ensure the proper procedures are followed when maintaining the video data.

 

The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board awarded the Springfield Police department the grant to purchase the camera units from Watch Guard Video, a leading vendor for police camera technology.

Larry The Cable Guy is Coming to Town


Larry the Cable Guy is trying to “Git-R-Done” here in Springfield.

 

The popular comic has brought his History Channel reality show “Only in America” to Springfield to tape segments for broadcast next year.

 

The State Journal-Register reports the comedian staged segments where he pretended to be a statue of a construction workers on the Old Capitol Plaza, surprising passers-by.

 

He is expected to tape several more segments in Springfield today.

Three Arrested and Charged in String of Robberies


Three people are in custody and charged in a slew of robberies in and around the capital city.

 

Thirty-year-old Robert Mims Jr. of Springfield, 27-year-old Alvin Mims of Champaign, and 23-year-old Kevin Johnson of Springfield and are each are charged with one count of armed robbery and three counts of aggravated robbery for four different recent robberies.

 

Springfield police worked in conjunction with the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department in making the arrests.  

 

Alvin Mims Robert Mims Kevin Johnson
Alvin Mims Robert Mims Kevin Johnson

 

Next Phase of Rail Consolidation Moves Forward


Now that the federal government has officially given the green light to consolidating most Springfield rail traffic onto the 10th Street corridor, the next, more difficult phase begins… finding the money to pay for the project.

 

Mayor Mike Houston says the city will get to work immediately to secure federal and state dollars to assist with design and construction of new underpasses, along with a single overpass at North Grand.

 

Approval of the 10th Street corridor was a key step in finalizing a new high-speed rail route between Chicago and St. Louis.

Aldermen Pass Increase in Recycling Fee


Springfield residents will pay more to fund recycling and other waste services… and will eventually pay that fee through their City Water Light and Power bill.

 

Aldermen narrowly approved Mayor Mike Houston’s scaled-back proposal, which is intended to raise more money for special city programs like yard waste and large item pickup.

 

The vote was six-to-four in favor.

 

Among those voting “no” were Aldermen Doris Turner and Cory Jobe, who had sponsored an unsuccessful ordinance to put all trash pickup charges on the CWLP bill.

 

They say Houston’s plan doesn’t address the problem of people who don’t pay for garbage pickup, and who dump trash illegally.

Springfield Police Are Open to More Security at Schools


Springfield Police

Springfield’s police chief says he is willing to talk about a greater police presence in the city’s public schools.

 

Superintendent Walter Milton said this week that he wants to explore that possibility in the aftermath of last week’s Connecticut school shooting.

 

Police Chief Robert Williams says that police are already a visible presence in many city schools through the day, but declined to talk specifically about security arrangements.

 

It’s unclear if the cost of an increased police presence would be paid by the city, the school district, or some combination of both.

State Rifle Association Says School Staff Should be Armed


The Illinois State Rifle Association wants state lawmakers to give school districts the authority to arm principals, teachers, or even school custodians.

 

Richard Pearson of the pro-gun group tells the Chicago Sun-Times that schools are a target for killers like the gunman in Newtown, Connecticut, because they are known to be “gun-free zones.”

 

Pearson says every school should at least have an armed security guard… and should have the option of having teachers, administrators, or janitors carry a weapon after they’ve had proper training.

Dist. 186 School Board Seats Being Challenged


There will be at lest five contested races for Springfield school board seats next spring… and there is still a week for more candidates to come forward.

 

All seven school board seats are up in the April election, and 11 candidates have already filed in five of those seven subdistricts.

 

Three incumbents… Lisa Funderburg, Scott McFarland, and board president Susan White… already have challengers.

 

The filing deadline is the day after Christmas.

Third Homicide Suspect Arrested


A third suspect in a Mid-October shooting has been arrested.

 

26-year-old Michael Cummings was arrested in the 800 block of West Governor by the U.S. Marshall’s Violent Fugitive Task Force. 22-year-old Typree Jones and 24-year-old Deandre Rogers were taken into custody on December 13th for the attempted homicide on October 16th in the 1700 block of East South Street.

 

The three allegedly entered a home, and once discovered by the two men inside, one man in the home was shot in the chest and the other in the ear.

Feds Pick 10th Street Corridor For Consolidation For High Speed Rail


It looks like the City of Springfield will get its wish when it comes to where the train consolidation will move through Springfield once the High Speed Rail goes through town, linking Chicago with St. Louis.

 

The Federal Railroad Administration announced they’ve made one of two decisions directly affecting Springfield. In its decision the Administration chose the 10th Street corridor. The decision will make the corridor eligible for new trains, improved frequencies, help improve on-time performance and ultimately reduce travel time to less than four hours.

 

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says it’s a major step forward for the State of Illinois and the Midwest as a whole.

State Treasurer Auction Brings In Big Bucks


The Illinois State Treasurer’s Online Unclaimed Property Holiday Auction is a success, according to State Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

 

The auction listed just shy of 19 thousand pieces of unclaimed property and sold 97 percent of them in the November 26th through 30th auction. The appraised value on the pieces was 107 thousand dollars, but the total sales were over 139 thousand. Items ranged from a one carat diamond ring to Beatles memorabilia, to an antique camera and a rare penny.

 

The next online auction will be in March of 2013. Visit Treasurer (dot) Illinois (dot) gov for more information.

Proposed Budget Cuts Met With Public Calls for Tax Increase


As the Springfield school board continues to debate millions of dollars in proposed budget cuts, a growing chorus of parents is urging the district to consider seeking new revenue in the form of a tax increase, rather than relying solely on staff and program reductions.

 

More than a dozen people spoke against proposals ranging from reductions in the number of teachers, librarians and security staff to increases in average class size to 31.

 

A number of the parents who addressed the board said they would support a property tax increase to fund educational basics, and would encourage others to do the same.

 

The district is trying to chip away at an $11 million dollar deficit. The proposals also include the closure of consolidation of two elementary schools and rollbacks in other programs.

Citizens Committee Recommends Pay Cuts, Teacher's Union Calls Foul


A committee made up of District 186 residents that was named to offer its own recommendations on the district's red ink budget has come up with several controversial proposals, including cuts in employee pay and benefits.

 

The Community Budget Review Committee has echoed some of Superintendent Walter Milton's proposed budget cuts, but then goes further -- calling for an end to the Capitol College Preparatory Academy and eliminating middle school programs at Iles and Ball Charter.

 

The committee has also proposed a 1-2% pay cut for teachers and all other district employees, along with higher pension and health insurance costs and reductions in sick days.

 

The Springfield Education Association reacted harshly, saying the cuts suggest the union has been greedy in past contract negotiations, which SEA President Dan Ford denies.

 

Ford says the committee's proposals may interfere with the collective bargaining process, and says legal action could follow if the district adopts the recommendations.

In Wake of CT School Shooting, Dist. 186 Supt. Milton Favors Armed Guards at Schools


Springfield's school superintendent says it's time to talk about an increase in armed security in the city's public schools, in the aftermath of last week's school massacre in Connecticut.

 

Superintendent Walter Milton says security is a hot topic in the wake of the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary.

 

Milton had proposed reducing some security positions as part of his proposed budget cuts.

 

He now says he wants to talk more about additional armed security in schools, and says he will have that conversation with Springfield Mayor Mike Houston and Police Chief Robert Williams.

 

Milton did not immediately say how much additional security he might seek or where it might be deployed.

Springfield Vigil for Sandy Hook Focuses on Healing


Speakers at Monday's candlelight vigil in Springfield say there should be a discussion on policy in the aftermath of last week's deadly school shooting in Connecticut, but they say for now, the focus should be on healing.

 

Springfield, Illinois, vigil attendees remember the slain students and school officials of Sandy Hook
Springfield, Illinois, vigil attendees remember the slain students and school officials of Sandy Hook

About 100 people gathered outside the District 186 administrative offices with lit candles in tribute to the six teachers and 20 students killed by a gunman last Friday.

 

Mayor Mike Houston was among the attendees, and says the murders hit close to home for him, since he has a granddaughter who is nearly the same age as the youngest victims.

 

Several speakers paid tribute to the teachers, who gave their lives while trying to protect their students.

 

And Pastor T. Ray McJunkins says that while it is difficult to understand the reason for such tragedies, people of faith must believe that the sadness will ultimately lead to something positive.

Shooting Death is Fourth Homicide in Ten Days in and Around Springfield


A 27-year-old man is dead in the fourth homicide in or near Springfield in the past ten days.

 

Henry Joiner died of a single gunshot wound to the abdomen after being shot outside a residence on Brandon Court Sunday night.

 

Springfield police have not made any arrests, and have not publicly discussed a possible motive in the killing.

 

Two other men were gunned down in Laketown two weekends ago, and a 25-year-old woman was strangled in her home last week.

Suspected Strangler Held on $2 Million Bond


The suspect in the strangulation death of 25-year-old Kayla Dillon is being held on $2 million bond.

 

Daniel Mueller is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Dillon, inside the home they shared on North 17th Street.

 

Mueller’s prior record includes an earlier misdemeanor domestic battery conviction.

 

Another court hearing in the case is set for January 3.

Community Budget Committee Recommends Pay Cuts For Teachers; Union Objects


A committee made up of District 186 residents that was named to offer its own recommendations on the district's red ink budget has come up with several controversial proposals, including cuts in teacher pay and benefits.

 

The Community Budget Review Committee has echoed some of Superintendent Walter Milton's proposed budget cuts, but then goes further -- calling for an end to the Capitol College Preparatory Academy and eliminating middle school programs at Iles and Ball Charter.

 

The committee has also proposed a 1-2% pay cut for teachers and all other district employees, along with higher pension and health insurance cuts and reductions in sick days.  The Springfield Education Association reacted harshly, saying the cuts suggest the union has been greedy in past contract negotiations, which SEA President Dan Ford denies.  Ford says the committee's proposals may interfere with the collective bargaining process, and says legal action could follow if the district adopts the recommendations.

Parents Urge District 186 To Pursue Tax Hike In Place Of Budget Cuts


As the Springfield school board continues to debate millions of dollars in proposed budget cuts, a growing chorus of parents is urging the district to consider seeking new revenue in the form of a tax increase, rather than relying solely on staff and program reductions.

 

More than a dozen people spoke against proposals ranging from reductions in the number of teachers, librarians and security staff to increases in average class size to 31.  A number of the parents who addressed the board said they would support a property tax increase to fund educational basics, and would encourage others to do the same.

 

The district is trying to chip away at an $11 million dollar deficit.  The proposals also include the closure of consolidation of two elementary schools and rollbacks in other programs.

Milton Wants Discussion On Boosting Armed Security In City Schools


Springfield's school superintendent says it's time to talk about an increase in armed security in the city's public schools, in the aftermath of last week's school massacre in Connecticut.

 

Superintendent Walter Milton says security is a hot topic in the wake of the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary.  Milton had proposed reducing some security positions as part of his proposed budget cuts.  He now says he wants to talk more about additional armed security in schools, and says he will have that conversation with Springfield Mayor Mike Houston and Police Chief Robert Williams.

 

Milton did not immediately say how much additional security he might seek or where it might be deployed.

Mourners Remember Connecticut Shooting Victims At Springfield Candlelight Vigil


Speakers at Monday's candlelight vigil in Springfield say there should be a discussion on policy in the aftermath of last week's deadly school shooting in Connecticut, but they say for now, the focus should be on healing.

 

About 100 people gathered outside the District 186 administrative offices with lit candles in tribute to the six teachers and 20 students killed by a gunman last Friday.  Mayor Mike Houston was among the attendees, and says the murders hit close to home for him, since he has a granddaughter who is nearly the same age as the youngest victims.

 

Several speakers paid tribute to the teachers, who gave their lives while trying to protect their students.  And Pastor T. Ray McJunkins says that while it is difficult to understand the reason for such tragedies, people of faith must believe that the sadness will ultimately lead to something positive.

Mourners of the Sandy Hook Shooting hold a vigil in Springfield, Illinois
Mourners of the Sandy Hook Shooting hold a vigil in Springfield, Illinois

 

Sheriff's Deputy Strikes Pedestrian


The Sangamon County Sheriff’s office says one of their deputies struck a pedestrian early Saturday morning.

 

34-year-old James B. Schmitt was struck as he was lying in the roadway close to the intersection at Highland and Price. The deputy was called to 2600 block of South Price to check on a suspect who had been knocking on a door. While searching for the suspect, the deputy didn’t see Schmitt and ran over him while making a turn South off of Highland onto Price Street.

 

Sheriff’s accident reconstructionists are investigating the incident.

School Board Meeting Moved Because Of Expected Large Crowds


Tonight’s Springfield school board meeting has been moved to a larger location… to accommodate the big crowds who are expected to come out to talk about proposed budget cuts. 

 

The board’s agenda for tonight includes proposals to close the Capitol College Preparatory Academy, consolidate two elementary schools and move their students to the Feitshans (FIGHT-shuns) building, and scale back operations at Iles and Ball Charter schools. 

 

Instead of the normal school board meeting room, the meeting will be held next door, in the cafeteria of Grant Middle School on West Monroe, starting at 7pm.

Shimkus Rejects New Gun Restrictions; Says Right To Keep And Bear Arms Is Essential To Guard Against ''Evil'' In World


More and more people are talking about new limits on guns in the wake of the Connecticut school shootings… but Congressman John Shimkus wants no part of that discussion. 

 

Appearing live on 970 WMAY's "Jim Leach Show" Monday, Shimkus says he stands firmly with the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms… and believes that any attempt to ban certain types of weapons will make law-abiding citizens less safe, rather than more. 

 

Shimkus says the Connecticut murders raise a great many questions that society needs to address… such as the presence of “evil” in the world and how best to defend oneself against it.

UPDATE: Murder Overnight on Brandon Ct.


It’s the fourth homicide in less than a week-and-a-half in and around Springfield.

 

Police are confirming reports of a murder on Brandon Court in Springfield.

 

The victim is described as a 27-year-old black male.

 

Police say the victim was shot outside just before 9:30 Sunday evening.

 

No more details were immediately available.

Increased Security Today at Springfield Schools


An increased security presence is expected at Springfield schools today… following Friday’s deadly shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.

 

District 186 officials say the security measures are precautionary… and should not alter the routine of students or parents as classes resume today.

 

Meanwhile, a candlelight vigil is planned for tonight outside the Springfield school district administrative offices on West Monroe.

 

Speakers will include a past national president of the group Bereaved Parents of the USA.

 

That vigil is planned for 5pm, ahead of tonight’s regular school board meeting.

Durbin Calls for Assault Weapons Ban, Limits on Ammo Clips


The Connecticut school rampage is leading to more calls to clamp down on access to certain types of weapons.

 

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says a national conversation is needed, soon, on guns.

 

He is calling for a number of changes… including reinstatement of a federal assault weapons ban, limits on the size of ammunition clips, and more stringent background checks.

 

Governor Pat Quinn has also endorsed similar measures.

 

Quinn is promising to pursue, quote, “strict laws that will protect our children and the people of Illinois from gun violence.”

Durbin: Congress Will Reach Deal Before Going Off Fiscal Cliff


We’re two weeks away from the “fiscal cliff,” but U.S. Senator Dick Durbin does not think the country will go off the deep end.

 

In a news conference in Springfield, Durbin expressed confidence that a deal on taxes and spending can be worked out… perhaps as early as this week.

 

Durbin says it is encouraging that House Speaker John Boehner has offered to accept higher tax rates on people making more than a million dollars a year… but Durbin says Boehner still isn’t going far enough.

 

He says the speaker’s position is politically unsustainable, and says there is no way to justify higher taxes on all Americans simply to protect those making more than $250,000 a year.

Ethics Review Report on Congressman Schock Due Late January


The U.S. House Ethics Committee is reviewing a complaint involving Congressman Aaron Schock.

 

A statement from the committee does not detail the allegations against the Peoria Republican, but says its review should be complete by late January.

 

Earlier this year, a watchdog group accused Schock of soliciting an improper super PAC donation for another candidate… and of using campaign funds for personal expenditures.

False Police Report Leads to Arrest


A suburban Chicago man has been charged with filing a false police report after authorities say he jokingly told friends he was kidnapped.

 

hirty-two-year-old Matthew Barker of St. Charles was arrested Saturday morning.

 

Police say officers spent hours investigating the case before Barker told them it was a joke.

State Health Officials Release Hospital Infection Rates


For the first time, state health officials are reporting the rates of two common and potentially life-threatening infections related to hospital stays.

 

The data released by the Department of Public Health looks at the frequency of C-diff, an intestinal infection… and MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

 

According to the state data, Memorial Medical Center had slightly higher rates of each than St. John’s Hospital.

Quinn Vows Strict Gun Laws In Aftermath Of Connecticut School Shooting


Governor Pat Quinn is vowing to push for the passage of, quote, “strict laws that will protect our children and the people of Illinois from gun violence.” 

 

Quinn’s comments follow Friday’s school shooting in Connecticut, but also follow a court ruling last week ordering Illinois to pass concealed carry legislation.

 

Quinn has in the past called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Springfield Schools Plan Beefed-Up Security Monday


Springfield schools plan an increased security presence Monday in the aftermath of the deadly Connecticut school shooting. 

 

A District 186 spokesman says the move is merely precautionary… and should not change normal procedures for parents and students heading back to school Monday.

Candlelight Vigil Planned Monday For School Shooting Victims


A candlelight vigil in honor of the victims of Friday’s Connecticut school shooting will be held Monday night, prior to the Springfield school board meeting. 

 

That vigil will take place, starting at 5pm, outside the District 186 administrative offices at 1900 West Monroe. 

 

A past national president of Bereaved Parents of the USA will be among the speakers.

Schock Under Scrutiny By House Ethics Committee


The U.S. House Ethics Committee confirms it has opened a probe of Republican Congressman Aaron Schock. 

 

A statement from the committee did not explain what it was investigating, but says it will make a decision on the case by late January. 

 

Earlier this year, a watchdog group accused Schock of soliciting an improper super PAC donation for another candidate… and of using campaign funds for personal expenditures.

Hospital Infection Data Released


For the first time, state health officials are reporting the rates of two common and potentially life-threatening infections related to hospital stays. 

 

The data released by the Department of Public Health looks at the frequency of C-diff, an intestinal infection… and MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 

 

In both cases, Memorial Medical Center had slightly higher rates than St. John’s Hospital.

Springfield Police Make Arrest In Dillon Murder


An autopsy has been completed on the body of a woman found dead in a north-end home Thursday. Sangamon County Coroner Cinda Edwards says Kayla Dillon appears to have died from strangulation.

 

Assistant Police Chief Cliff Buscher says they’ve arrested 25-year-old Daniel P. Mueller in connection with her death, and have charged him with first degree Homicide.

 

Meanwhile, police are conducting an internal investigation into how a Springfield cop responded to an initial call for assistance at Dillon's residence. A neighbor called and reported hearing a woman calling for help from inside the home. But the officer who arrived at the scene reported nothing unusual, and left.

 

Dillon's body was found the next day when police returned after receiving another call expressing concern for her wellbeing.

AFSCME Says Email Banner Is Unethical


Contrary to what several ethics watchdog agencies say, the attachment of a banner and link to Governor Pat Quinn’s pension reform website found in two state agencies employees' outgoing emails are outrageous and unethical, according to the head of the State Employee’s Union.

 

AFSCME spokesperson Anders Lindall says that state employees being “conscripted by Governor Quinn to promote something that is against their interest is unethical.” Lindall also says AFSME lawyers are investigating possible legal and ethical violations.

 

WMAY is receiving reports that the director of one agency has ordered the banner to be removed.

District 186 Mourns Victims Of Connecticut School Shooting


Springfield school officials say they are mourning the victims of the deadly school shooting in Connecticut. 

 

A statement from District 186 says the safety of its student and staff is its top priority… and notes that learning can only take place in a safe environment. 

 

The district says it relies on an extensive safety manual and regular training on how to respond to emergencies, and vows to ensure that its policies are consistently followed to prevent tragedies like the one unfolding out East.

Watchdogs: Email Signature Touting Pension Reform Website Not an Ethics Violation


The signature at the bottom of emails from IDPH and IEPA
The signature at the bottom of emails from IDPH and IEPA

Some state workers are not too happy to find that their outgoing email now contains a message encouraging people to visit Governor Pat Quinn’s pension reform website… one calling for reductions in those very workers’ retirement benefits. 

 

The message is tacked on to outgoing emails from at least two agencies… Public Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. 

 

But ethics watchdogs say the message does not cross a line. While they say it would be a problem if state government emails had a message promoting Quinn personally, there’s nothing improper about promoting the state pension reform website.

UPDATE: Police Interview Person Of Interest In Homicide; Actions Of Officer Being Reviewed


Springfield police have interviewed a person of interest in the death of a Springfield woman… but no charges have been filed yet in connection with the death of 25-year-old Kayla Dillon. 

 

Dillon was discovered dead inside a home on North 17th Street Thursday.  Police have said the suspect knew Dillon… but they are awaiting autopsy results and looking at other evidence before making a decision on charges. 

 

Meanwhile, an internal review is also underway into the actions of an officer who responded to a call from a neighbor who reported hearing a woman crying for help inside Dillon’s residence. 

 

An officer went to the scene Wednesday night but found nothing unusual and left.  Dillon’s body was discovered the next day when police went back after getting another call expressing concern for the woman’s safety.

Police Investigating Third Area Homicide in a Week


Springfield police are investigating the third apparent homicide in or near the city in the past week.

 

25-year-old Kayla Dillon was found dead inside a home on North 17th Street Thursday, hours after a neighbor had reported a woman calling for help inside the home.

 

Police are searching for a man who knew Dillon and is viewed as a suspect in the case.

 

Authorities have so far not said how Dillon died.

Two Arrested, Another Sought, in Attempted Murder Case


Two people are in custody… and a third is still being sought… in connection with an attempted murder back in October.

 

Typree Jones and Deandre Rogers were arrested Thursday, and police have a warrant for Michael Cummings.

 

All three are accused in an incident on South Street that left a 23-year-old man with multiple gunshot wounds.

 

Police are asking anyone with information on Cummings’s whereabouts, or other details on the case, to call Crimestoppers.

Springfield Man Claims Excessive Force in Suit Against Three Police Officers


A Springfield man is suing two city cops and a former Jerome police officer, accusing them of using excessive force against him as they attempted to take the man’s son into custody last year.

 

The case began with an attempt to pull over 30-year-old Greg Dawson.

 

Dawson proceeded to his father’s home and tried to enter the residence.

 

As police tried to take the younger man into custody, his father George Dawson came out of the home.

 

He says the two Springfield cops… Michael Brown and Chance Warnisher… kicked him and knocked him to the ground, injuring him.

 

The suit also says former Jerome cop Steven Stirmell was on the scene and failed to intervene.

 

The federal lawsuit seeks monetary damages from the three officers.

Illinois Same-Sex Marriage Could Be Realized Next Year


2013 could be the year that Illinois legalizes same-sex marriage.

 

Two state lawmakers say they will call the bill for a vote in early January, during the legislature’s “lame duck” session.

 

That would indicate that they believe they have the votes to pass the bill… less than two years after same-sex civil unions were first legalized in the state.

 

Supporters of the bill say the time is right… as polls show record levels of support for marriage equality.

 

The final language of the bill is still being drafted, but the sponsors vow that it will include an exemption to allow churches to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

Record Breaking: Clock Continues to Tick, Bell Continues to Ring #ringiton


Darrell Tureskis breaking his record Friday morning, picture taken from TSA Springfield's Facebook Page
Darrell Tureskis breaking his record Friday morning, picture taken from TSA Springfield's Facebook Page

The record from last year is now history as Springfield’s very own Darrell Tureskis continues to ring the bell for the Salvation Army at the Schnucks on Montvale.

 

Ringers all across the country began Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to break the record set last year by Tureskis.

 

That record was 60 hours and 10 minutes. Now, Tureskis and two others across the country are at 66 hours and counting (as of 6AM).

 

Tureskis says this morning he feels great after getting a small cat nap in.

 

He says this year’s rules change shows him how last year’s record he set was even more unbelievable.

 

Tureskis raised $6,300 during his marathon ringing last year and hopes to raise more this year.

 

He says he can continue to ring as long as people continue to come out, donate to the Salvation Army and supporting his efforts.

 

As for next year, Turesksis says he’s going to take a long vacation so he and his wife can think about it.

Same-Sex Marriage Vote Could Come Up In January


A historic vote on same-sex marriage in Illinois could be just weeks away. Supporters of marriage equality have been counting up the votes… and now plan to call the bill for a vote in the lame duck legislative session in early January.

 

The bill’s chief sponsors say they believe they can win passage when lawmakers return to Springfield… and hope to capitalize on recent state and national polls showing support for same-sex marriage at an all-time high.

 

The exact language of the bill is still being developed, but sponsors promise it will include an exemption to allow churches to refuse to conduct marriages for gay couples

Governor Uses Video With Children To Push Pension Reform


Governor Pat Quinn’s push for pension reform is now focused on kids.

 

The governor’s office has released a new online video that says pension reform is needed because the soaring cost of unfunded liabilities is draining money from public school funding, early childhood education, and college tuition grants. Quinn’s office says the video features kids taking part in a focus group about breakfast cereal… which then turns into a serious discussion about pensions.

 

The press release says when the kids in the video realize their voices aren’t being heard, they hire a lobbyist. You can see the video at ThisIsMyIllinois.com.

Ethics Champion Mary Lee Leahy Passes Away


She took on the huge political patronage machine in Illinois... and won.

 

Mary Lee Leahy is being remembered today as a tenacious and principled fighter for ethics and justice.

 

Leahy was the lead attorney in the Rutan case, which eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court and led to a landmark ruling that overturned the political hiring system in state government.

 

Leahy died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer.

 

She was 72.

Mobile Surveillance Trailer from DHS to go to SPD


Springfield police will be keeping a closer eye on faces in the crowd.

 

The Springfield Police Department

Aldermen have approved the purchase of a $37,000 surveillance trailer from the Department of Homeland Security.

 

SPD plans to use the trailer at major festivals and events like the city basketball tournament.

 

Police Chief Robert Williams says the trailer will serve as a crime deterrent... and will also aid prosecutors if there are incidents at big events.

 

Williams says the video from the trailer will only be reviewed by Springfield police... not the Department of Homeland Security.

Carrie Underwood Has Been Announced for the Prairie Capital Convention Center


Another of the biggest names in country music is scheduled to make a stop in Springfield.

 

The Prairie Capital Convention Center has announced that Carrie Underwood will perform there on May 1st.

 

Tickets will go on sale in time for Christmas gift-giving… starting Saturday, December 22nd. Prices will range from 48 to 68 dollars.

 

Underwood is a former American Idol winner who is now one of the top country stars in America.

 

The announcement follows word earlier this week that another country giant, Toby Keith, will play the Illinois State Fair in August.

DHS Mobile Surveillance Trailer Coming to SPD


Springfield Police Department
Springfield Police Department

There a new crime fighting tool coming to Springfield’s Police Department and it’s eyes will be on you.

 

Springfield alderman approved a contract report Tuesday that included a $37,000 Department of Homeland Security mobile surveillance trailer that will be used by Springfield Police at various festivals around the city.

 

Springfield Police Chief Robert Williams says that the trailer will act as a crime deterrent and also assist in prosecution efforts.

 

Williams says that the video from the trailer will only be reviewed by Springfield Police, not by the Department of Homeland Security.

Local Man Going for Bell Ringing Record #ringiton


He’s going for another attempt at a world record of ringing a bell for the Salvation Army; the trouble is he’s got to beat his own record from last year.

 

Darrell Tureskis is at it again this year after beating the record last year where he rang the bell for a continuous 60 hours and ten minutes.

 

Ringers all across the country are attempting to break the record.

 

You can follow the progress of the ringer on Twitter with the hash-tag “ring it on.”

 

Tureskis is ringing the bell at the Schnucks in Montvale on Chatham Road.

Federal Appeals Court Says Illinois Must Allow Concealed Carry


Supporters of the right to carry a concealed weapon say the fight is over… and they won.

 

A federal appeals court has thrown out Illinois’s ban on concealed carry, and ordered lawmakers to craft a law that permits the practice within 180 days.

 

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals says the state failed to show any public safety benefits of the concealed carry ban that outweigh the Second Amendment rights of citizens.

 

The justices say the legislature must now design a law that protects those rights, within “reasonable” limitations.

 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan has not decided whether to appeal the ruling.

Illinois Supreme Court Says Gov. Quinn's Facility Closure Plan Can Move Forward


A divided Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that Governor Pat Quinn can proceed with plans to close two Illinois prisons and several other facilities around the state.

 

The high court ordered a lower court to lift an injunction it had issued, preventing Quinn from proceeding with the closures.

 

The governor’s office praised the ruling, saying it will get taxpayers “off the hook” for paying for inefficient and unneeded facilities.

Questions Mount Over Recycling Fee Increase Ordinance


Mayor Mike Houston is already running into opposition over his new proposal to address some of the city’s trash problems.

 

Houston wants to raise the monthly recycling fee charged to all residents… from 50 cents a month to a dollar-50… and to move that charge to the City Water Light and Power bill.

 

But some aldermen say that doesn’t do anything to solve the biggest problem… residents who don’t pay for trash pickup and then illegally dump their garbage.

 

Public works director Mark Mahoney says the city is starting to crack down harder on offenders, 100 homes at a time.

One Person Recovering From Injuries After CMS Fire


One person is recovering from a minor injuries following a fire Tuesday at the state Central Management Services warehouse at 10th and Laurel.

 

Fire Chief Ken Fustin says the blaze apparently started when propane from a leaky heater ignited, sparking a flash fire that sent one worker to the hospital with minor burns.

 

The fire was put out, resulting in minor structural damage, but causing smoke damage through the warehouse.

 

That section of the facility stored computers for the Illinois Lottery.

 

The extent of the damage was not immediately known, but did not affect any day-to-day operations of the lottery.

Springfield Aldermen Debate Proposed Recycling Fee Increase


There are still a lot of questions about a proposed increase in the recycling fee for the city of Springfield.

 

A flow chart of how Springfield Public Works deals with garbage problems
A flow chart of how Springfield Public Works deals with garbage problems 

The proposed ordinance would increase the recycling fee on residents garbage bills from fifty cents to a dollar-fifty and would have the city collect the recycling fee on City Water Light and Power utility bills by January of 2014.  

 

The mayor also says there will be a garbage "watch list" of some 3,000 residents that don't currently have waste hauling as required by ordinance.   

 

Some of the concerns from aldermen are the costs of implementing the new billing plan, a waiver process for people who can't afford the increase, and the plan to write $25 tickets for people leaving their garbage out for more than 24 hours.

 

Something else that was a concern for aldermen is the mayor's plan to have garbage drop off locations, but that is not in the ordinance.

 

Alderman questioned Mayor Mike Houston, Public Works Director Mark Mahoney and CWLP Engineer Chief Engineer Eric Hobbie about the proposal after placing it on the debate agenda.

Fire Crews Battle Blaze At State CMS Warehouse


Springfield firefighters have brought a blaze under control at the state's Central Management Services warehouse on Laurel at 10th Street in Springfield. 

 

Springfield Fire Chief Ken Fustin says damage was limited to a section of the building that housed new or surplus computers for use by the Illinois Lottery; those computers were not being used for active day-to-day lottery operations.  It's not clear how much those computers were damaged.

 

There was minimal structural damage to the building, although there is smoke damage throughout the warehouse.  Fustin says an adjacent building used by the state Environmental Protection Agency was undamaged.

 

The blaze apparently started when a leaky propane heater ignited, sparking a flash fire that left one worker with minor burns..  A damage estimate was not immediately available. 

Appeals Court Throws Out Illinois Concealed Carry Ban


A federal appeals court has ruled that Illinois’s ban on carrying concealed weapons is unconstitutional… and has given the state 180 days to write a new law to allow citizens to carry weapons for self-defense. 

 

The ruling in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals finds that the state failed to show that its outright ban on concealed carry serves a public safety purpose that justifies the limits its places on law-abiding citizens. 

 

The justices say the state must now come up with a law to permit carrying a concealed firearm… one that can contain reasonable limitations, but which must not infringe on the Second Amendment rights of Illinois citizens.

Illinois State Fair Announces Toby Keith for Grandstand Show


The Illinois State Fair is already announcing at least one big name for the 2013 Grandstand lineup.

 

On the fair’s official Facebook page is the announcement of country artists Toby Keith Wednesday August 14th.

 

It’s rare to see an announcement this far in advance as fair organizers typically announce the lineup for grandstand acts the spring before the fair opens.

 

The 2013 Illinois State Fair is scheduled for August 8th through the 18th.

School Board Finance Committee Talk Tax Referendum


The Springfield School Board's finance committee has begun a preliminary discussion of the issues surrounding a possible future tax hike referendum.

 

Committee chair Candace Mueller says the discussion was part of a broader conversation about revenues, prompted by citizens who have been asking why all of the district's budget talks so far have centered exclusively on proposed cuts, and not on sources of new revenue.

 

Mueller says she is non-committal on whether the district should seek a tax increase, but says the fact that community members are talking about it means it's an issue that should be considered.

 

Board members say they want to hear more about when such a referendum could be held... and if it passed, when the new revenue would be available.

CWLP Employee Fired For Using Utility Equipment and Time for Private Job Rehired


A City Water Light and Power worker who was fired for doing personal work on city time is back on the job.

 

An arbitrator has ruled that Matt Winters should be reinstated, but that his return to work is on a… quote… “last-chance basis.”

 

Winters was dismissed earlier this year for cutting down a tree on private property during work hours.

 

He was also accused of attempting to intimidate a neighbor who witnessed and photographed the activity.

 

The State Journal-Register reports that the firing was reduced to a 30-day unpaid suspension.

 

Winters won’t get back pay but will receive 120 hours of comp time.

Police and Firefighter's Pension Funds Underfunded by $11.7 Million


The unfunded liability for Springfield police and fire fighter pensions combined has gone up to nearly $11.7 million, according to actuarial reports provided to aldermen by the Office of Budget and Management.

 

Details come just before the city council is set to discuss levying taxes to pay for police and fire pension funds.

 

The reports indicate the reason for most of the increase in unfunded liability is due to investment return that was lower than assumed, an issue raised many times by Alderman Joe McMenamin.

 

Actuarial Documents:

 

Firefighters' Pension Fund (pdf link)

Police Pension Fund (pdf link)

 

McMenamin says the mayor's plan of lowering the rate a quarter-percent a year is "shockingly inadequate in relation to the seriousness of the situation" and by the time it takes to reach 5.5 percent the unfunded liability would explode even further.

City Council Mulls Over Possible Tow Ordinance Changes


The fee charged to the owners of vehicles towed after being pulled over under suspicion of a crime by Springfield Police is too high and should be brought down, but there are other problems with the current ordinance on the books, according to Alderman Doris Turner.

 

Currently the city charges a $500 fee to the owner of a vehicle that is towed after the vehicle is pulled over in suspicion of a crime or even in the case of subsequent noise ordinance violations.

 

Turner says that the fee should be dropped because it only costs the city between $180 to $350, though there are other costs associated with the legal department, the Treasurer’s and Clerk’s offices.

 

But that’s not the only problems Turner has with the current ordinance.

 

The current ordinance does allow for an administrative hearing to determine if there was the necessary probable cause in the case, but does not address if someone is found innocent of charges in a court of law.

 

The most common reasons a vehicle impounded by Springfield police are driving under the influence, suspended or revoked driver's license and criminal drug offenses, according Corporation Council Mark Cullen's office.

More Details About the Laketown Drive-by Shooting


One of the victims of the deadly weekend shooting in Laketown was hit multiple times… but police so far still have no witnesses to the double murder.

 

The coroner’s office says 22-year-old James Crews was shot in the chest multiple times… while 32-year-old Christopher Nesch died of a single wound to the chest.

 

The shootings happened outside Nesch’s home in Laketown.

 

Police believe the shots were fired from a vehicle, but still have no information about the shooter or a motive for the crime.

School Board Committee Discusses Tax Hike Referendum


The Springfield School Board's finance committee has begun a preliminary discussion of the issues surrounding a possible future tax hike referendum.

 

Committee chair Candace Mueller says the discussion was part of a broader conversation about revenues, prompted by citizens who have been asking why all of the district's budget talks so far have centered exclusively on proposed cuts, and not on sources of new revenue.

 

Mueller says she is non-committal on whether the district should seek a tax increase, but says the fact that community members are talking about it means it's an issue that should be considered.  Board members say they want to hear more about when such a referendum could be held... and if it passed, when the new revenue would be available.

Unfunded Liability for Springfield Police and Fire Pensions Goes Up $11.7 Million


The unfunded liability for Springfield police and fire fighter pensions combined has gone up to nearly $11.7 million, according to actuarial reports provided to aldermen by the Office of Budget and Management.

 

Alderman Joe McMenamin holding up a sign to explain the unfunded liability for Springfield police and fire pensions
Alderman Joe McMenamin holding up a sign to explain the unfunded liability for Springfield police and fire pensions

Details of the actuarial reports come just before the city council is set to discuss levying taxes to pay for police and fire pension funds.

 

Actuarial Documents:

Firefighters' Pension Fund (pdf link)

Police Pension Fund (pdf link)

 

The reports indicate the reason for most of the increase in unfunded liability is due to investment return that was lower than assumed, an issue championed by Alderman Joe McMenamin.

 

The Ward 7 Alderman has been urging the city to change the expected rate of return for fire and police pensions from 7.5 percent to a more realistic rate of 5.5 percent.

 

Mayor Mike Houston says that is a budget time discussion and his administration plans on lowering the rate of return a quarter-percent per year to reach 5.5 percent, something the mayor says will cost $1 million.

 

McMenamin says the mayor's plan is "shockingly inadequate in relation to the seriousness of the situation" and by the time it takes to reach 5.5 percent the unfunded liability would explode even further.

Possible Changes to Springfield's Tow Ordinance Found in Memo


Changes to Springfield's Tow Ordinance could be coming, including a reduction of the penalty, providing an opportunity for an authorized person to claim the vehicle prior to towing, and allowing for tow charges to be reimbursed if a person is found innocent of charges that led to the vehicle being pulled over.

 

A memo from Corporation Counsel Mark Cullen says that it costs the Springfield Police Department between $180 to $350 dollars to have a vehicle towed to and impounded while charging the owner of the vehicle $500.00, plus whatever it costs to get the vehicle out of the impound.

 

The memo says that the ordinance, and in general a fine imposed by government, is supposed to act a system of laws to create incentives for following the law and to punish those that break the law.

 

Other expenses incurred by the city, according to the memo, include time for the legal department, Treasurer and Clerk's offices for tracking, collecting and processing fines and payments and any required administrative processing. 

 

The most common reasons a vehicle impounded by Springfield police are driving under the influence, suspended or revoked driver's license and criminal drug offenses, according Corporation Council Mark Cullen's office.

 

Cullen says that he has not yet been approached by any aldermen to change the current ordinance.

Sentencing Expected Today in Half Century Old Murder Case


It’s taken over a half-century for some closure, but family of a 7-year-old girl murdered in 1954 may get just that with the sentencing of 73-year-old Jack McCullough today.

 

McCullough was found guilty in the 1957 killing of Maria Ridulph of Sycamore.   He was 17 at the time and known under a different name.

 

McCullough was arrested in Seattle last year after his half-sister convinced police to reopen the case.

 

Sentencing was originally scheduled for November 30th, but McCullough’s lawyers asked for the delay to prepare for the hearing.

 

He could get a life sentence.

Tractor Trailer Driver Treated at Local Hospital After I-55 Accident


The driver of a tractor trailer is being treated at a local hospital after his truck flipped over Sunday afternoon on Southbound Interstate 55 around the Stevenson Drive exit.

 

An Illinois State Police report says the 16-year-old driver of a pickup truck entering the highway from the Stevenson Drive on ramp lost control of his vehicle and then was hit by the semi.

 

The tractor trailer truck overturned on its side, blocking traffic for several hours.

 

The driver of the tractor trailer was extracted by the Springfield Fire Department and taken to a local hospital for non life threatening injuries. Police say citations are pending.

Semi Rollover Blocks I-55 For Several Hours Sunday


A collision between a semi and a pickup truck caused the semi to overturn on Interstate 55 at the Stevenson Drive exit Sunday afternoon, closing the southbound lanes there for several hours.

 

State police say the truck... driven by a 16-year-old boy... skidded on the wet pavement while attempting to exit the interstate at Stevenson.  The semi clipped the truck and then overturned, blocking the southbound lanes.

 

The driver of the semi had to be extricated and was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.  The driver of the pickup and a 19-year-old passenger, both from Rochester, were apparently uninjured.

 

State police say the accident resulted in closure of the highway for an extended period in order to clear the scene.  Citations are pending.

UPDATE: Two Men Dead In Early-Morning Shooting In Laketown Identified


Two men are dead in an early-morning shooting Saturday in Laketown. 

 

Authorities have identified the victims as James Crews, a 22-year-old black male, and Christopher Nesch, a 32-year-old white male. 

 

Chief sheriff’s deputy Jack Campbell says the victims were in a car when they were shot multiple times. 

 

One was pronounced dead at the scene… the other died a short time later at the hospital. 

 

Detectives are following up leads, but Campbell asks anyone with information about the crime to contact the sheriff’s department or Crimestoppers.

Quinn Vows To Appeal Judge's Order To Honor Pay Raise Promises


Governor Pat Quinn says he will appeal a judge's ruling that the state must eventually live up to its 2011 promise of pay hikes to state workers.

 

Cook County Circuit Judge Richard Billik (BIL'-ik) ruled Friday that the state is obligated to pay the wage increases to members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

 

The Democratic governor reneged on the raise in July 2011 because the Legislature hadn't sent him money to cover it.

On-the-run Internet Security Expert Slip-up Shows Reason for Caution When Posting Online


A former state senate candidate is urging people to be cautious of what they post online after the arrest of internet security founding father John McAfee.

 

The image that got John McAfee in trouble, taken from VICE.com
The image that got John McAfee in trouble, taken from VICE.com

Champaign based computer security and digital forensic consultant John Bambenek was one of a few bloggers who were the first to point out McAfee posted a picture on the internet that included geo-coordinates in the metadata of the image.

 

People can change that setting to exclude the location information for photos taken with their smart phones, but McAfee neglected to do that. Bambenek says it’s a reminder to everyone that what you post online, even if it’s on a private page or in a private email, things can come back to haunt you.

 

McAfee is being held by Guatemalan authorities for entering the country illegally. He’s wanted for questioning in Belize for the murder of his neighbor.

SMTD To Upgrade Technology


Springfield Mass Transit District is getting an upgrade to an intelligent transportation system.

 

The State Journal-Register reports that the capital city’s public transportation system will soon be developing a mobile app for passengers, a computer-aided dispatch system, a vehicle tracking system that uses GPS, and automated voice announcement system and other technologies.

 

The total cost is $1.8 million, with over $800,000 coming from federal grants.

 

SMTD administrators hope to start phasing the new technologies in sometime next year.

Fire Destroys Vacant North 9th Street Home


A vacant house on North 9th Street is a complete loss after being damaged by fire early Thursday afternoon.

 

Springfield Fire responded to the blaze with multiple vehicles and 25 firefighters.

 

The State Journal-Register reports Springfield Police picked someone up they thought had left the house, but let the individual go after questioning.

 

The fire is still under investigation.

Preliminary Hearing for Denton-McCaster Delayed Until Dec. 20th


The preliminary court hearing for Juatasha Denton-McCaster, the woman accused of murdering and dismembering her husband Norman McCaster and leaving his torso by a rural Mechanicsburg road, has been continued until December 20th.

 

Denton-McCaster is charged with first degree murder, dismembering a human body, concealment of a homicidal death and obstructing justice.

 

Norman McCasters’ torso was found October 29th, but it took nearly a month for investigators to identify to the victim and search his house where they arrested Denton-McCaster.

Family of Dead Jail Inmate Calls for Investigation


The family of Alonzo Travis, who died at the Sangamon County Jail this week, is seeking an autopsy and calling for a thorough investigation.

 

The SJ-R reports the family is also looking into hiring an attorney.

 

Sangamon County Coroner Cinda Edwards says that there were no signs of injury and it appears Travis died of natural causes, but was still waiting on test results and has not made an official ruling.

 

Travis had been at the county jail since early July after being booked on misdemeanor charges of battery and criminal trespass.

 

He was also charged with several different counts of aggravated battery after altercations with jail guards.

Suspected Meth Lab Busted in Litchfield


An alleged meth lab was busted in Litchfield Wednesday.

 

Montgomery county authorities found the lab after an anonymous tip.

 

32-year-old Bryan Weller of Litchfield was arrested and charged with manufacturing methamphetamine. Police say that more arrests are possible.

Houston Says Plastic Shopping Bags Are A Problem; Undecided Yet On Possible Solutions


Saying that plastic shopping bags are a nuisance and a problem for Springfield, Mayor Mike Houston is interested in taking some kind of action to reduce their prevalence on streets and in landfills.  But Houston isn’t ready to commit to any particular plan of action yet. 

 

Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” Houston says he wants to see what other cities have done to reduce littering and other environmental impacts from shopping bags. 

 

Alderman Gail Simpson is working on a plan to impose a “user fee” on the bags, but Houston says he’s concerned that could become… quote… a “nightmare” for the stores and shoppers that use them.

Civil Union Benefits For City Workers Could Be On The Way


The city of Springfield could soon offer benefits to the civil union partners of city workers. 

 

Those benefits are not currently available, even though the state of Illinois began recognizing civil unions more than a year ago.  A city panel’s vote to offer the benefits was overturned because the vote was improperly taken in closed session. 

 

Now Mayor Mike Houston says new ordinances will be introduced in the next few days to reshape that health insurance oversight panel so that it complies with the law. That group of ordinances will also create the policy on benefits for civil union partners. 

 

Houston hopes to have the new rules implemented early next year.  No city workers are currently seeking benefits for civil union partners, according to Houston.

Pension Reform Plan May Be Unconstitutional


The latest proposal for fixing the state’s pension crisis may run into the same roadblock as previous attempts… the state constitution.

 

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says he fears the proposed bill from House Democrats could violate constitutional provisions against decreasing workers’ current pension benefits.

 

The latest plan would require employees to pay more into their retirement funds, receive smaller cost-of-living increases, and calls for younger employees to work longer.

House Adjourns Without Overturning Quinn's Budget Cuts


The Illinois House has adjourned without taking up an override of Governor Pat Quinn's budget cuts that will force the closure of some prisons and other state facilities.

 

Quinn opposed the override and calls the decision by the House a victory for taxpayers.

 

The vote would have been largely symbolic anyway, since Quinn could have continued with the prison closures even if the legislature had restored the money.

Coroner: Jail Inmate Death Appears to be Natural Causes


The death of a Sangamon County Jail inmate this week appears to have been because of a medical condition, not because of injury or trauma.

 

54-year-old Alonzo Travis died Monday after being found unresponsive in his cell.

 

Coroner Cinda Edwards says the death appears to be from natural causes, but is awaiting test results before making a final determination.

 

The State Journal-Register reports Travis had earlier altercations with jail staff last summer, but there’s no indication that was a factor in his death.

Ten Women Arrested In Springfield Police Prostitution Sting


Springfield police have arrested ten women after conducting a prostitution sting… ordering their services off the Internet. 

 

A press release from Deputy Chief Cliff Buscher says undercover officers rented a hotel room and then contacted women who advertised on the website backpage.com.  Buscher says every woman who was contacted showed up… and several, quote, “even brought their friends to play.” 

 

Nine women, ranging in age from 19 to 43, were arrested for prostitution.  A tenth woman… described as a friend and driver for two of the other women… was charged with possession of cannabis. 

 

Information on three of the arrests was not immediately released… police say those women are the subjects of ongoing investigations.

 

Amber Boone

Amber Boone

Amy Dibartolomeo

Amy Dibartolomeo

Hailei Brincken

Hailei Brincken

Kayla Watkins

Kayla Watkins

Maria Stathos

Maria Stathos

Stewart Breawna

Stewart Breawna

Tara Zepp

Tara Zepp

 

Foodbank Launches Million-Dollar Campaign For Move To New Expanded Facility


The Central Illinois Foodbank is already more than 30% of the way toward a million-dollar fundraising goal… as it looks to retro-fit and move into a new home that will allow it to dramatically expand its operations. 

 

The agency plans to renovate the former Springfield Pepsi headquarters on Cook Street.  Pepsi recently moved to a new facility, and owners John and Shawn Faloon donated the old site to the Foodbank. 

 

Corporate donations and a state grant have already generated more than $300,000 toward the million dollar goal.  Once the renovation… including the installation of cold storage units… is complete, the Foodbank plans to move into the facility, most likely sometime next year.

Suspect Turns Himself In


Sam Jefferson
Sam Jefferson

The suspect who is accused of trying to strike two police officers with his truck during a traffic stop has turned himself him.

 

38-year-old Sam Jefferson turned himself in to the Sangamon County Jail this morning, according to Springfield Deputy Police Chief Cliff Buscher.

 

Jefferson is accused of ditching his vehicle after taking police on a chase through the Northgate subdivision Sunday afternoon.

 

He is facing charges of aggravated battery and aggravated fleeing and eluding police. No one was hurt in the incident.

Valid Licenses for Illegals Drives to House After Senate Passage


A bill to allow illegal immigrants to obtain Illinois drivers’ licenses is a step closer to becoming law.

 

The Illinois Senate approved the measure Wednesday on a lopsided, bipartisan vote.

 

Top Democrats and Republicans support the measure… insisting it’s a necessary public safety measure that recognizes the reality of undocumented immigrants on the state’s roads, and tries to ensure that they at least have some driving instruction and insurance.

 

The bill now goes to the House, but a final vote can’t happen until early January.

Proposed State Pension Reform to be Unveiled Today


A new proposal to fix the state’s pension crisis will be unveiled today… and early word is that it will require state workers to kick in more for their pension, and in some cases to wait longer to receive those retirement benefits.

 

One lawmaker who has worked on the legislation says it will ask workers to contribute another two-percent toward their pensions, and will raise the retirement age for younger workers.

 

Current and future retirees would also see less generous cost-of-living adjustments in their pensions.

 

The bill also seeks to shift the state’s share of teacher pensions back to local school districts over time.

 

Final action on any pension plan is not expected until next month’s “lame duck” legislative session.

New Police Contract Forces Conversation on Pension Fund Rate of Return


Springfield police have a new three-year contract.

 

Aldermen ratified the deal last night. While it includes more than $3 million in pay raises, it eliminates the pay “spike” that temporarily raised the salaries of veteran officers twice a year, allowing them to boost their pensions.

 

Alderman Joe McMenamin was the only “no” vote, saying the city cannot afford the raises.

 

McMenamin has long urged the city to change the expected rate of return for the pension fund from 7.5 percent to 5.5 percent.

 

Mayor Mike Houston says that he plans on lowering the expected rate of return by a quarter percent per year, which would increase the amount the city would fund the pensions by $1 million a year.

 

Houston says dropping that rate too rapidly would cost up to $4 million dollars.

Alderman Focuses Attention on Plastic Bags


A Springfield alderman is exploring ways to reduce problems caused by plastic shopping bags.

 

Ward 2’s Gail Simpson says the bags are often carelessly discarded, creating an unsightly mess.

 

She says the city needs to work toward eliminating the bags, but indicates she will start with an effort to impose a user fee on them.

 

There’s no word yet on how much of a fee she will propose or how it would be collected.

Commercial Truck Driver Told to Stop Driving by Feds, Could Face Charges in Montgomery County


The trucker involved in the crash that killed an Illinois State Police trooper last week has been ordered to stop driving commercially… and may soon face criminal charges.

 

Johnny Felton, Jr. of Georgia reportedly told authorities that he lost consciousness behind the wheel of his big rig because of a medical condition.

 

He struck and killed Trooper Kyle Deatherage, who was conducting a traffic stop on Interstate 55 south of Springfield.

 

Federal authorities say because Felton failed to disclose or properly control the unidentified medical condition, he poses an imminent danger to himself and others if he continues driving.

 

Montgomery County authorities say they are still looking at criminal charges against Felton for the accident.

Suspect Sought By Police for Allegedly Striking Police with Truck


 

Sam Jefferson

Sam Jefferson

Springfield police are still searching for the man who reportedly tried to strike two officers with his truck during a traffic stop Sunday, and then led police on a chase into a residential neighborhood.

 

Police have obtained a warrant for 38-year-old Sam Jefferson. He was identified after they seized his vehicle, which Jefferson abandoned in the Northgate subdivision while being pursued by multiple squad cars.

 

He is facing charges of aggravated battery and aggravated fleeing and eluding police. No one was hurt in the incident.

Springfield City Council Passes New Police Contract


Alderman Joe McMenamin holds up a sign
Alderman Joe McMenamin holds up a sign during the city council meeting.

Nearly 240 Springfield Police officers have a new contract after Springfield Aldermen voted 8 to 1 in favor of the deal.

 

The contract provides a 3 percent pay raise retroactive to March of this year, with a 2.5 percent increase in 2013 and a 2.25 percent increase the following year.

 

There is also the elimination of the controversial pay spike, but an increase of 2 percent for longevity payments on year 20 to 14 percent and year 25 to 16 percent on top of their base pay.

 

The contract only pertains to uniformed officers.  Mayor Houston announced Tuesday that the pay spike for police staff like the Police Chief will also be eliminated, but that will be done by internal policy, not by contract.

 

Alderman Joe McMenamin voted no saying until the police and fire pensions are more fully funded, he will continue to vote against pay raises, new equipment and vehicles.

Bill To Grant Drivers Licenses To Illegal Immigrants Clears Senate


The Illinois Senate has approved legislation that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain state drivers licenses if they pass a driving exam and obtain insurance.  The measure passed 41-14.

 

Senate President John Cullerton sponsored the bill, which he says is a public safety measure that acknowledges the reality that undocumented residents are here in Illinois, and they are driving... often without insurance or proper training.  Many top Republicans... including House Republican Leader Tom Cross, Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno, and former Governor Jim Edgar... also support the bill, which now moves on to the Illinois House.

Still Unclear How Many Springfield Teachers Have Certification Issues


Springfield school officials still can’t say how many teachers may have problems with their certification. 

 

Superintendent Walter Milton told the school board Monday night that a credential check of district staff found “some” discrepancies in the paperwork and certification required of teachers for the grade level they’re teaching.  Milton says the district expects most of the problems are just paperwork snafus, and don’t mean that the teachers are unqualified for the jobs they are doing. 

 

But district spokesman Pete Sherman says the district is now doing a second check of all irregularities that were uncovered, to make sure that every teacher in the district has the correct certification for their teaching assignment.  The problem came to light after a Lanphier High teacher who was accused of a sexual relationship with students was found not to have the proper credentials for the classes she was teaching.

Police Obtain Warrant For Driver Suspected Of Trying To Run Down Cops


Sam Jefferson
Sam Jefferson

Springfield police have obtained a warrant for a man suspected of trying to run down two police officers during a traffic stop, and then leading police on a chase through a north-end residential neighborhood Sunday.

 

Authorities still have not apprehended 38-year-old Sam Jefferson.  He is facing charges of aggravated battery and aggravated fleeing and eluding police for the incident, in which police say he brushed two officers with his truck while fleeing a traffic stop at 11th and North Grand.  With officers in pursuit, Jefferson allegedly sped into the Northgate subdivision, where police called off the chase.

 

Police say he ditched his truck in the subdivision and fled on foot.  Police impounded the vehicle, but still have not located Jefferson.  He is described as a black male, six-foot-two and 260 pounds.  He will face a bond of at least $250,000 once he's taken into custody.

Truck Driver Could Face Criminal Charges In Trooper Death


It may take a few more weeks for charges to be filed against the driver of a big rig that struck and killed a state trooper last week south of Springfield. 

 

Montgomery County State’s Attorney Chris Matoush says that there is an ongoing criminal investigation into the actions of driver Johnny Felton, Jr.  He has admitted to authorities that a medical condition caused him to lose consciousness, leading to the collision that killed Trooper Kyle Deatherage.

 

Felton could face charges ranging from reckless driving to reckless homicide or manslaughter.  Matoush says that the fatal accident could also be a violation of Scott’s Law, which requires drivers to slow down and move over when approaching a police vehicle on the shoulder with its emergency lights active. 

 

Felton has already been ordered by federal trucking authorities to stop driving commercially.

Official Numbers Gives Davis Just over 1,000 Votes More Than Gill


It’s official, Rodney Davis beat David Gill by just over one-thousands votes.

 

The final vote count certified this week by the Illinois State Board of Elections confirms that Davis, a Republican, had 136,032 votes, that’s 1,002 votes more than Gill’s 137,034 after tallying all the votes.

 

Independent John Hartman registered only 21,319. Davis will be representing the 13th Congressional District once held by Republican Tim Johnson.

Truck Driver In Crash That Killed Trooper Ordered To Stop Driving Commercially


The truck driver whose rig struck and killed an Illinois State Police trooper last week south of Springfield has been ordered to stop driving commercially. 

 

Federal officials say Johnny Felton, Jr. failed to disclose or properly treat an unidentified medical condition.  That condition caused him to lose consciousness while driving northbound on Interstate 55 last week, leading to the accident that took the life of Trooper Kyle Deatherage. 

 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says Felton would pose an imminent danger to himself and the public if he continued to drive commercially.  Felton could still face additional charges for the deadly accident.

Accusations of Racism Leveled Against Critics of Dist. 186 Supt. Milton


A group of prominent African-American leaders in Springfield... including a city alderman... are raising concerns that the school board's contentious relationship with Superintendent Walter Milton, and the recent resignation of another top black administrator, are tinged with racism.

 

Alderman Gail Simpson was one of several leaders who addressed the school board Monday night to raise the issue and request a meeting with board members... and the district's attorneys.

 

The group claims that Milton has been pressured to resign... a charge that Milton denies.

 

But the group also sees racism in the harsh public criticism directed toward Milton by some school board members.

 

Milton wouldn't say whether he believes the criticism is racially motivated, saying he's focused solely on meeting the educational needs of students.

Some Dist. 186 Teachers Are Not in Compliance


A review of all district staff in the wake of a scandal involving a Lanphier High teacher finds that "some" certified staff in the district are not in compliance with state regulations on their certification.

 

Superintendent Walter Milton did not put an exact number on how many staff are not in compliance.

 

Milton says some of the problems are issues of paperwork that hadn't been completed, not that the teachers themselves are unqualified.

 

He has asked the Regional Office of Education to move up its biannual compliance check from February, when it was originally scheduled, to later this month.

 

Milton says he's confident that the district will pass the review when it takes place.

Dist. 186 Supt. Milton Scales Back Budget Cutting Proposals


Springfield schools superintendent Walter Milton is rethinking some of his ideas for cutting millions of dollars from next year’s Springfield schools budget… and that could add to the flow of red ink next year.

 

Milton is asking the school board to keep the 7-period high school day in place for one more year… even though it would cost a million dollars more than two other options under discussion.

 

He says the district needs more time to implement any changes.

 

Milton is also withdrawing a plan to cut back on the number of students who can attend the Capital Area Career Center… and to charge fees for low-income students to participate in sports.

 

The changes would add $1.2 million to the district’s deficit.

 

Milton is asking the board to relax its policy so that the district can dip more deeply into its cash reserves.

School Board Candidates Revving Up for Spring Elections


Candidates are starting to line up for next spring’s school board races in Springfield.

 

Former board member Jamie Sisti will seek a rematch with incumbent Scott McFarland… who defeated her two years ago.

 

McFarland announced several weeks ago that he will seek re-election in Subdistrict 3.

 

Subdistrict 1 board member Lisa Funderburg is also running again.

 

And the State Journal-Register reports two former district principals… Chuck Flamini and Mike Zimmers… are both thinking of running for the board next year.

Treasurer Rutherford Tests Waters for Gubernatorial Bid


Another Republican is actively testing the waters for a possible challenge to Governor Pat Quinn in 2014.

 

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford is using his campaign website and social media to ask voters their thoughts on whether he should run for governor.

 

Rutherford tells the Chicago Tribune that the online effort is not a formal announcement, and that nothing official about his political plans will come until late January at the earliest.

 

Other Republicans, including state Senator Kirk Dillard and Congressman Aaron Schock, are also thinking about running.

African-American Leaders Accuse School Board Of Racism In Dealings With Superintendent


A group of prominent African-American leaders in Springfield... including a city alderman... are raising concerns that the school board's contentious relationship with Superintendent Walter Milton, and the recent resignation of another top black administrator, are tinged with racism.

 

Alderman Gail Simpson was one of several leaders who addressed the school board Monday night to raise the issue and request a meeting with board members... and the district's attorneys.  The group claims that Milton has been pressured to resign...  a charge that Milton denies.  But the group also sees racism in the harsh public criticism directed toward Milton by some school board members.  Milton wouldn't say whether he believes the criticism is racially motivated, saying he's focused solely on meeting the educational needs of students.

 

The black leaders also objected to the recent resignation of District 186 human resources director Alexander Ikejiaku.  They suggest he took the fall for the failings of a Lanphier teacher who's been accused in a sex scandal involving students.  And they say Ikejiaku tried to rescind his resignation and was turned down.  Milton confirms that Ikejiaku did try to take back his resignation, but said he could not comment further on a personnel matter.

Some District 186 Teachers Found Not In Compliance With Certification Policies


A review of all district staff in the wake of a scandal involving a Lanphier High teacher finds that "some" certified staff in the district are not in compliance with state regulations on their certification. Superintendent Walter Milton did not put an exact number on how many staff are not in compliance.

 

Milton says some of the problems are issues of paperwork that hadn't been completed, not that the teachers themselves are unqualified.  He has asked the Regional Office of Education to move up its biannual compliance check from February, when it was originally scheduled, to later this month.  Milton says he's confident that the district will pass the review when it takes place.

Milton Suggests Keeping 7-Period High School Day For One More Year; Could Add Another $1 Million To School District Deficit


Saying more time would be needed to implement an alternative, Springfield school superintendent Walter Milton now suggests that the school board wait another year to implement a new schedule for the city's public high schools.

 

Milton's original proposed budget cuts called for replacing the 7-period high school day with either a 6-period day or a "trimester" schedule. Either option could save as much as a million dollars a year.  But Milton says the 6-period day compromises educational objectives too much, and he says the district needs more time to implement the trimester schedule.

 

So instead, Milton is now asking the board to keep the 7-period day in place for another year while working on plans to adopt the trimester format.  He says he will ask the board to relax its policy on keeping a minimum amount on hand in cash reserves, since the estimated million-dollar price tag and other reversals on cuts would push the reserves below the required level. The board could decide on the request later this month.

CACC Funding Restored, Some Athletic Fee Hikes Removed From District Budget Cut List


Springfield school superintendent Walter Milton has revised his multi-million dollar list of proposed budget cuts for next school year, restoring $200,000 in funding for students to attend the Capital Area Career Center and eliminating a proposal to charge a fee to low-income students for athletic participation.

 

Milton had originally proposed limiting the number of students who can attend vocational ed classes at CACC.  He also proposed a fee for athletic participation by students in the free or reduced-cost lunch programs.  That proposed fee would have been $25 for low-income high schoolers, and $20 at the middle schools. Both items have now been removed from Milton's proposed list. Proposed athletic fee hikes, raising them to $60-100 for other middle and high school students, remain part of Milton's plan.

 

The changes will mean an additional $225,000 in expenses that either must be covered by cuts elsewhere in the budget, or will be added into the district's sea of red ink.

Police Union Rejects Alderman's Call for Pay Freeze


The head of Springfield’s police union says a Springfield alderman is correct in the concerns he raises about police pensions… but not about his proposed solutions.

 

Union president Don Edwards agrees with Alderman Joe McMenamin that the city has been underestimating the rate of return on pension fund investments, which results in the city paying less than it should to support future pension payments.

 

But Edwards rejects McMenamin’s call for a wage freeze in the police contract.

 

He says the estimate on rate of return is an administration issue, not a contract issue, and has nothing to do with the need to pay cops fairly.

 

Listen to this past weekend's Podium program to hear both McMenamin and Edwards discuss the police contract below or at this link.

 

Police Search for Truck Driver Who Reportedly Tried to Hit Officer, Then Ditched Truck


Springfield police are still searching for a suspect who reportedly tried to strike an officer with his truck… triggering a chase that ended up in a residential neighborhood.

 

The driver raced through the Northgate subdivision late Sunday afternoon, with multiple squad cars in pursuit, before finally ditching the truck and fleeing on foot.

 

K-9 units spent a couple of hours searching the neighborhood for the suspect without success.

 

No one was hurt in the incident.

Pensions and Gambling May Not Be Addressed by General Assembly This Week


A few high profile issues could come up for a vote this week as lawmakers return to Springfield for a shortened two-day wrap-up of the fall veto session.

 

Those include a bill to allow illegal immigrants to obtain Illinois drivers licenses, and a measure that would legalize medical marijuana in the state.

 

But other major issues, including pension reform and gambling expansion, probably won’t surface until January.

 

Lawmakers will have a small window of time between the first of the year and January 9th, when the new legislature is sworn in.

 

During that time, it will only take a simple majority to pass bills, and lame-duck lawmakers may be willing to provide votes on more controversial measures.

Student-Faculty Group: Franchise Restaurant on UIS Will Limit Choice


Don’t get too excited about the prospect of Chick-Fil-A on the University of Illinois Springfield campus.

 

The State Journal-Register reports a student-faculty task force has submitted a report to the Student Government Association recommending against any type of franchise restaurant on the campus.

 

The report says giving a prime campus spot to any particular franchise would mean less variety and fewer options for students.

 

But the authors of the report acknowledge that their recommendation was influenced in part by controversy over Chick-Fil-A and its owners’ support for groups that oppose same-sex marriage.

Veterans Affairs: Send Holiday Cards to Service Members


The director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs is encouraging people to send holiday cards expressing their support to U.S. service members.

 

Director Erica Borggren, herself an Iraq war veteran, says it means a lot to a service member to receive a holiday card.

 

For information on how to participate in the Illinois Heroes holiday card drive, visit OperationHomefront.org.

Police Union Agrees With Alderman On Pension Funding Concerns


The head of Springfield’s police union says a Springfield alderman is correct in the concerns he raises about police pensions… but not about his proposed solutions. 

 

Union president Don Edwards agrees with Alderman Joe McMenamin that the city has been underestimating the rate of return on pension fund investments, which results in the city paying less than it should to support future pension payments. 

 

But Edwards rejects McMenamin’s call for a wage freeze in the police contract.  He says the estimate on rate of return is an administration issue, not a contract issue, and has nothing to do with the need to pay cops fairly.

Drive Underway For Holiday Cards For Servicemembers Overseas


The director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs says it means a lot to service members to receive a holiday card.

 

Erica Borggren is urging people to send the cards expressing their support. Gov. Pat Quinn will personally deliver many of them when he visits Illinois service members at military hospitals in Germany and Illinois.'

 

To learn more about the holiday card effort, go to holidaycards.illinois.gov.

Springfield Man Takes Command Of National Guard Unit


A Springfield man is the new commander of a 1300-member unit based at Camp Lincoln. 

 

Army National Guard Colonel Eric Little took command of the 65th Troop Command Brigade in ceremonies Saturday in Springfield.

State Health Officials: Get Your Flu Shot


State health officials are urging Illinois residents to get flu shots. Doing so, they say, doesn't just benefit the person getting vaccinated; it also protects others by limiting the spread of the flu.

 

The Illinois Department of Public Health is making that announcement at the start of National Influenza Vaccination Week. The department recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated.

Firefighters Extinguish Cops 5-2 In Annual Guns 'N' Hoses Charity Hockey Game


For the second straight year, a team of firefighters has emerged victorious on the ice, defeating their police force counterparts 5-2 at the annual Guns 'N' Hoses charity hockey game at Nelson Center.  The game was heard live on 970 WMAY, the News and Talk of Springfield.

 

The firefighters jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but then the two teams battled evenly, working back to a 2-2 tie.  From there, it was all Hoses, with three straight unanswered goals providing the margin of victory.  The series is now tied at two games apiece; the Guns won the first two annual contests, before the firefighters reeled off their two consecutive wins.

 

The 4th annual match was a fundraiser for the Camp Care-A-Lot summer camp program.  The live broadcast was presented by Medics First and co-sponsored by Sports and Imports, Ironworkers Local 46 and Connor Law Offices.

Houston Revises Trash Ordinance; New Version Stresses Recycling, Raises Monthly Fee


Mayor Mike Houston will make another attempt at revising Springfield’s trash pickup policies… but without the controversial idea of putting garbage pickup charges on the City Water Light and Power bill. 

 

That idea killed an earlier trash overhaul ordinance, but Houston’s revised version focuses instead on recycling, increasing the monthly fee charged to all customers and eventually tacking that dollar-50 charge onto the utility bill. 

 

But critics say the new version doesn’t address the most serious trash issues in Springfield, such as residents who don’t pay for garbage pickup and who illegally dump their trash.

Funds Set Up In Memory Of Fallen State Trooper


Two funds have been set up in memory of the Illinois State Police trooper who was killed in the line of duty during an I-55 traffic stop this week. 

 

One fund is for the future educational expenses of Trooper Kyle Deatherage’s two young children.  The other sets up a scholarship fund for students who plan to pursue a career in law enforcement. Both funds have been established through Scott Credit Union in Highland, Illinois

 

Deatherage is being laid to rest this weekend after being struck by a semi while conducting that traffic stop south of Springfield last Monday.

Springfield Man Gets 90 Years For Trying To Shoot Cops


A Springfield man has been sentenced to a total of 90 years in prison for attempting to kill two police officers. 

 

The cops had stopped Jesus Ramirez for a traffic offense, but Ramirez… who was transporting nearly a kilo of cocaine… fled in his vehicle.  When he lost control, he jumped out and attempted to fire at police, but his weapon jammed.  No one was hurt.

Churches, Conservative Group Blocked From Intervening In Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit


Two churches and a conservative activist group will not be allowed to intervene in the lawsuit brought by numerous same-sex couples seeking the right to marry. 

 

A Cook County judge says the Illinois Family Institute and the churches do not have legal standing to get involved in the case. 

 

Several downstate county clerks are also challenging the lawsuit, saying they should not be forced to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Illinois Lawmakers Among The Highest-Paid In The Nation


The same lawmakers who voted this week for a resolution closing the door on pay raises for state workers this fiscal year are among the best-paid state legislators in the country. 

 

The Galesburg Register-Mail reports that the base salary alone for Illinois lawmakers ranks fifth in the nation… and that’s before factoring in stipends for committee chairmanships, health and retirement benefits, and per diem payments for expenses while the legislature is in session.

Reporters Tour Illinois Prison


The warden at the Vienna (vigh-ENN’-uh) Correctional Center says most of the problems of dirty conditions at the prison have been fixed. 

 

Reporters got a chance to tour the facility Friday… after months of resistance from the Quinn administration, which had claimed media tours posed a security hazard. 

 

The Southern Illinois prison had been singled out by critics for particularly unsanitary and overcrowded conditions.  Although reporters were allowed to tour the prison, no cameras were permitted.

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