A potential political problem for Governor Pat Quinn has potentially gotten a whole lot bigger.
The results of a scathing audit of an anti-violence program launched by Quinn in 2010 have been forwarded on to law enforcement officials, including the U.S. Attorney for the Central District, James Lewis. The audit found widespread misuse of funding and a lack of accountability.
Republican lawmakers had asked Auditor General Bill Holland to forward his findings to other agencies.
The daughter of President Obama’s controversial former pastor has been convicted in Springfield of fraud charges.
A federal jury here returned the verdict against Jeri Wright for her role in a scheme to bilk the state out of more than a million dollars in grant money.
Wright is the daughter of Jeremiah Wright, who became a lightning rod during Obama’s 2008 run for the White House.
Officials are trying to track down who last had possession of a pit bull that chased a Springfield man into the street Thursday night.
Both the man and the dog were struck by a car. The man suffered minor injuries… the dog was picked up by animal control.
A chip implanted in the pit bull led authorities to its owner… who said the dog had been taken from her by animal control a year ago. But county animal control officials say the dog was returned to that woman, who now lives in Chatham. Neighbors say the pit bull had been roaming free and acting aggressively for weeks before Thursday’s incident along South Grand Avenue East.
Riverton’s fire chief says investigators have not found any sign of a smoke detector in an apartment where a woman died in a fire early Thursday.
Chief Louie Rogers says damage to the apartment was extensive, but that investigators will usually find some remnants of a detector, and so far have found none.
An autopsy indicates that 24-year-old Brittany Sullivan died of smoke and soot inhalation, although some test results are still pending.
It’s the weekend to change your clocks… and change your batteries.
State fire officials say that when you “spring forward” one hour into Daylight Saving Time this weekend, you should also replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.
Officials say 60-percent of fatal fires are in homes without working smoke detectors.
It’s the classic good news-bad news scenario.
Springfield’s Ronald McDonald House is announcing a significant renovation that will allow it to serve more families every night, and will update the interior and exterior of the 28-year-old home. But the $1.2 million project will force the closure of the home for four months or more.
The House provides shelter and other assistance to families who have children in one of the city’s major hospitals… but is often filled to capacity. The project will add two more family rooms. The home is slated to be closed from June to October… a fundraising campaign to support the renovation effort is also now underway.
It’s a project that has gone on for decades… and cost tens of millions of dollars. And Mayor Mike Houston says that’s one reason the city shouldn’t give up on the Hunter Lake project.
Houston says after all that time and money, he is determined to keep pushing for an answer from regulators, once and for all, about whether the second lake can be built. And Houston says he will keep pursuing Hunter Lake because any of the other available options for a backup water supply are likely to be even more expensive than building the lake.
Sangamon County Clerk Joe Aiello still hasn’t decided if he will follow the lead of several of his counterparts around the state and offer marriage licenses to gay couples… even before the state’s new same-sex marriage law takes effect.
State’s Attorney John Milhiser says the decision is up to Aiello… but warns that issuing the licenses now could lead to legal challenges over the validity of the documents.
Aiello says he is considering going ahead with the licenses… but including a disclaimer that he hopes would protect the county from being sued at some point down the road.
The war of words over Springfield’s pension funds is escalating. Mayor Mike Houston says a recent study of the funds that ranks Springfield as worst in the state is based on inaccurate and incomplete data.
But Alderman Joe McMenamin… who brought that study before the City Council… says even after correcting some errors, the study still shows Springfield tied for the bottom.
Houston accuses McMenamin of offering no ideas to reduce the city’s unfunded liability, but McMenamin says he is offering concrete proposals… such as his latest call for a city wage freeze.
McMenamin is also asking voters next year to elect aldermen who will help him tackle the pension crisis.
The Houston administration wants to enter into a three-year deal with NAPA Auto Parts to provide all of the parts that will be needed by the city’s new consolidated vehicle maintenance garage.
Appearing live on 970 WMAY’s “Jim Leach Show,” Houston said the $3.75 million deal would save the city money because NAPA would maintain the inventory and the company’s employees… not city workers… would be in charge of overseeing it.
Houston defends the proposal to go with a major national supplier… saying a local company would not be able to provide the volume and variety of parts the city will need.
Authorities have identified the woman who died in an apartment fire near Riverton early Thursday. 24-year-old Brittany Sullivan was pronounced dead at the scene of the fire on Old Route 36.
An autopsy is planned for today. A boy who lived in the home was injured and was first taken to the burn unit at Memorial Medical Center before being transferred to the pediatric ICU at Saint John’s.
Authorities say Sullivan’s husband escaped the flames but was unable to rescue his wife. The cause of that fire is still under investigation.
More acts are being announced for this year's Illinois State Fair.
Fair officials say the classic rock band Boston will perform in the Grandstand on August 12th. A couple of other '70s bands... Sweet and April Wine... will also appear on the same bill.
Country singer Jake Owen has also been booked for August 16th. The fair previously announced that country band Florida-Georgia Line will perform on August 10th.
Tickets for Grandstand shows go on sale through Ticketmaster on April 12th... and will also be available at the Grandstand ticket office in June.
It will apparently be up to Sangamon County Clerk Joe Aiello alone to determine if the county will issue marriage licenses early to same-sex couples.
State’s Attorney John Milhiser has sent Aiello a letter raising concerns that such marriage licenses issued before June could later be declared invalid, since the state’s new same-sex marriage law hasn’t taken effect yet. But Milhiser says the final decision rests with Aiello as a matter of policy, not of law.
Aiello says he hasn’t decided what to do… but is considering issuing the licenses with a disclaimer warning of the potential legal difficulties.
Even as more Illinois counties start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Springfield’s Catholic bishop isn’t giving up hope that the controversial new law can someday be overturned.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki has been one of the most outspoken critics in the state against same-sex marriage… even conducting prayers of exorcism on the day the bill was signed into law last November.
In an interview for the 970 WMAY News Feed, Paprocki acknowledged that it’s unlikely the new law can be stopped in the short term. But he contends society is becoming more opposed to abortion, 40 years after Roe vs. Wade, and says he hopes someday the same shift occurs about same-sex marriage, too.
Springfield Mayor Mike Houston thinks there’s an ulterior motive behind a disputed study of the city’s pension liabilities.
That study from the Illinois Policy Institute has drawn pointed criticism from Houston and others, who suggest the conservative think tank intentionally cherry-picked data to cast the city in the worst possible light. Appearing live on 970 WMAY, Houston suggested the reason could be that backers of the IPI have a vested interest in steering workers from their current defined benefits plans to a 401-k style system. But the mayor also acknowledged that his theory is just “speculation.”
Amid growing criticism over a pension study he brought before the City Council, Springfield Aldermen Joe McMenamin is fighting back.
McMenamin arranged for the Illinois Policy Institute presentation that argued that Springfield had the worst pension crisis of any city in the state. The Houston administration has attacked the numbers, saying the IPI improperly added in factors that shouldn’t have been considered.
McMenamin concedes the point… but says the group fixed that error and crunched the numbers again, and says Springfield still tied for worst. McMenamin says he’s trying to fix a serious problem but can’t do it alone… and says he will need the help of voters next year to elect more reform-minded aldermen.
A woman is dead and a child is badly burned after an apartment fire near Riverton early Thursday.
That blaze broke out in a 3-unit apartment building on Old Route 36 near Camp Butler around 4:30am. The adult female victim died of her injuries, while the child was taken to the burn unit at Memorial Medical Center and later transferred to the pediatric ICU at Saint John's. An adult male in the home was not injured.
The names of the victims have not been released. The cause of that fire is still under investigation.
Sangamon County Clerk Joe Aiello says, quote, "we might as well do it now and get moving on it."
But Aiello isn't moving ahead yet with issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Despite a directive from Attorney General Lisa Madigan this week telling county clerks that it's OK to issue the licenses even before the state's new same-sex marriage law takes effect, Aiello says he wants input from State's Attorney John Milhiser, the county's top legal officer.
Milhiser says there are big questions about whether a marriage license issued before the new law's effective date could be challenged later in the event of a divorce or death.
Aiello says he could begin issuing licenses within days... if all of the legal questions get ironed out.
Gun rights advocates say the state's new concealed carry law isn't the end of their fight... it's only the beginning.
Thousands of gun owners took part in an annual lobbying day in Springfield Wednesday... where they called for changes to the concealed carry law that was passed just last year.
Those changes could include a reduction in the number of places where firearms are still banned under the law... such as parks, libraries, and mass transit buses and trains.
The head of the State Rifle Association says such designated "gun-free zones" are an invitation to criminals to rob or harm people.
Springfield's interim school superintendent says the district did its due diligence... and didn't give anyone special treatment... when it hired Lanphier High School basketball coach Blake Turner years ago, despite an extensive arrest record.
The Illinois Times revealed last week that Turner had multiple arrests on charges ranging from drugs to violent assault in the years before he was hired as an assistant coach in 2008.
Some of the charges were felonies... but were either dismissed or were pleaded down to misdemeanors.
Interim superintendent Bob Hill tells the State Journal-Register that the incidents were thoroughly researched before Turner was hired, and the decision was made to give him another chance.
Republican candidate for governor Kirk Dillard is taking heat from his opponents for his close ties to the biggest public sector unions in the state.
Dillard has received endorsements... and promises of financial support and manpower... from the state's two biggest teachers unions and the top state workers' group.
Dillard says that's because he will treat those workers with respect and fairness.
But GOP opponents Bruce Rauner and Bill Brady accuse Dillard of selling out taxpayers for political gain.
A lot of people are touting the advantages of early voting... but one candidate for governor isn't necessarily among them.
Republican Kirk Dillard says it's not always a good idea to cast an early ballot.
Dillard says many issues could still bubble up that'll change voters mind in the competitive race.
Early voting runs through March 15. The primary is March 18th.
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