WILL - Focus - June 05, 2013

The Legislature Adjourns

Lawmakers were tasked with addressing lots of big issues during this spring's legislative session. This hour on Focus we'll talk about the takeaways - what passed, what didn't and what the means for you.


(Duration: 51:18)

The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill.

With 100 billion dollars of unfunded pension liability and millions in unpaid bills, we'll talk this hour about what the legislature accomplished during this session to try and solve the state's budget woes. We'll also talk about other big issues from this session - gambling, hydraulic fracturing, same sex marriage and concealed carry. Illinois Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky and Tom Kacich of the News-Gazette join us.

Categories: Government

WILL - Focus - May 28, 2013

Uncle Joe Cannon

Many consider Joseph Gurney Cannon one of the most dominant speakers of the House of Representatives in U.S. history. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the life and legacy of Uncle Joe Cannon.


(Duration: 51:42)

A painted mural of "Uncle Joe" Cannon on the side of a building in downtown Danville at the corner of Harrison and Vermilion streets depicts the Time Magazine cover he was featured on.

Uncle Joe Cannon served in the U.S. House of Representatives as speaker from 1903 to 1911 and is considered the second longest serving Republican speaker in history. He was featured on the first cover of Time Magazine and is remembered as one of the more colorful members of Congress.

This hour on Focus, we’ll remember Joe, his Illinois roots, and some of his more notorious moments as speaker in Washington D.C. Host Jim Meadows talks with Matt Wasniewski, a historian for the House of Representatives and Timothy Smith, an amateur historian and long-time Danville resident who is working on a biography about Joe.

Categories: Biography, Government, History

WILL - Focus - May 06, 2013

Tax Policies and Illinois’ Fiscal Crisis

Are you tired of hearing how broke the state is? Do you have a suggestion for solving the problem? This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the state’s deficit and tax policy.


(Duration: 51:15)

According to the Fiscal Futures Project at the Institute for Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, Illinois is currently ranked in last place out of all 50 states for its bond ratings. Legislators at the statehouse have made some progress towards passing reform to try and solve Illinois’ massively underfunded state pension system but even if reform is passed, the state has a long way to go to get back in the black. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Ralph Martire, Executive Director at the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability about Illinois fiscal health and what could help improve it.

Think you can balance the budget? Check out this calculator from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, Crain’s Business Chicago and the Institute for Work and the Economy.

Martire is speaking at the Champaign Public Library in the Robeson Pavilion room on Thursday, May 9 at 7:00 p.m.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Focus - March 20, 2013

Home Foreclosure in Illinois

Even though the economy is slowly starting to improve, Illinois still has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. Today on Focus, we talked about the problem and about new policies that are supposed to help solve it. We also talk with one community member working to help East Central Illinois families keep their homes.


(Duration: 50:17)

a foreclosed home

Foreclosure rates in Illinois are beginning to fall, but many are still struggling to recover from the recession, especially those who were affected when the housing bubble burst. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about new foreclosure policies in Illinois meant to fast track the sale of vacant properties to help our local economies and families recover from the foreclosure crisis. As the state’s foreclosure rate remains stubbornly high, we’ll also examine how big of a problem foreclosures continue to be in East Central Illinois and talk with Reverend Eugene Barnes, the founder of Metanoia, a community group based in Champaign, who has taken it into his own hands to help struggling families keep their homes. Geoff Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Housing Services at DePaul University also joins us.

WILL - Focus - February 12, 2013

His Excellency Ambassador Michael Collins

What's it like to be an ambassador to the United States? During this episode of Focus, Craig Cohen talked with H.E. Ambassador Michael Collins, Irish Ambassador to the United States.


(Duration: 51:19)

Ambassador Michael Collins

Ireland holds the European Union’s rotating presidency until June of this year and officials are making it a priority to address the Eurozone Debt Crisis and grow trade and opportunities for enterprise. This hour on Focus, host Craig Cohen talks with His Excellency Ambassador Michael Collins, Ireland’s ambassador to the United States. We’ll talk with him about the country’s debt problems, Ireland’s presidency, the role the EU is taking in turmoil in Syria, and how he manages Ireland’s relations with the United States. The ambassador will be speaking on campus at the University of Urbana-Champaign on Friday, February 15. Find more information here.

WILL - Focus - February 05, 2013

Outside Influence

Does offering incentives like money or candy motivate kids to perform better in school? Is the new Illinois cigarette tax really helping to deter people from smoking? Today on Focus, we'll talk about what influences behavior....and what doesn't. Join our conversation on Facebook and Twitter.


(Duration: 50:36)


Is the new Illinois cigarette tax really helping to deter people from smoking? Would a ban on sugary drinks and soda really help curb the obesity epidemic? Does offering incentives like money or candy motivate children to perform better in school? This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about what influences our behavior. We'll delve into the idea of a “sin” tax, why we use them and if they have an impact on our decisions with Professor of Economics at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the UIUC Fred Giertz. Edward Deci, a Professor of Psychology and Social Sciences at the University of Rochester, also joins the program to answer questions about peer pressure, money as a motivator, stereotypes and how the world around us affects how we act and the decisions we make.

Should parents offer kids incentives to do well in school? Do you? Does it work? Join our conversation on Facebook and Twitter

WILL - Focus - January 08, 2013

The Pension Situation in Illinois


(Duration: 51:23)

On today's show, we turn our attention to the history of and issues surrounding Illinois’ pension debt. We’ll talk about how our state found its way into such a massive debt obligation, some of the issues lawmakers are working through right now in Springfield, and what might ultimately be the best way forward to meet that debt and sustain the state’s public pension system.

Categories: Economics, Government, Politics

WILL - Focus - December 27, 2012

Interview with Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas


(Duration: 50:33)

Since the beginning of his career in journalism eight years ago, Jose Vargas has written hundreds of stories — including covering the 2008 presidential campaign for The Washington Post; profiling Al Gore for Rolling Stone and Mark Zuckerberg for The New Yorker; writing and producing a documentary on the AIDS epidemic in the nation's capital; and winning a Pulitzer Prize for helping cover the Virginia Tech massacre.  A little over a year ago, Vargas wrote a groundbreaking essay in the New York Times Sunday Magazine revealing his "undocumented immigrant" status.  Since then, he founded Define American and has worked to facilitate dialogue about the DREAM Act and immigration issues.

This is a repeat broadcast from Friday, October 26, 2012, 10 am

WILL - Focus - December 17, 2012

Gun Violence


(Duration: 51:59)

Our show will be dedicated to the subject of gun violence after Friday’s shocking Connecticut school shooting. We’ll look at how the shooting may impact America’s conversations about guns and safety. We'll also discuss the recent court ruling striking down Illinois’ concealed carry ban, and what it means for the future of gun laws in Illinois. And we'll welcome your thoughts - about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, about what it says about our society, and about what, if anything, it tells us about our feelings towards guns. Guests will include Richard Pearson, director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, and Jerry Belair of Stop Handgun Violence, an organization promoting gun safety.

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