Focus

WILL - Focus - March 04, 2014

103rd Illinois House District Candidates Carol Ammons and Sam Rosenberg

This hour on Focus, Scott Cameron talks with democratic candidates for the 103rd House District seat in the Illinois legislature ahead of the March 18 primary. Do you have questions for Carol Ammons or Sam Rosenberg?

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(Duration: 51:57)

A democrat has long represented the 103rd district for the legislature in Illinois. Both Carol Ammons and Sam Rosenberg want to keep it that way. One of the two candidates will represent the district in the general election in the fall, but whomever that will be has to win the March 18 primary first. So far, Champaign county democrats have been divided.

Last week, Scott Cameron talked with Republican candidate Kristin Williamson, who is running unopposed. This hour on Focus, he talks with Ammons, an Urbana Alderwoman and Sam Rosenberg, a Champaign based attorney.

Do you have questions for Ammons or Rosenberg? Give us a call this hour on Focus or Tweet us @Focus580. 

Categories: Politics

WILL - Focus - February 25, 2014

Republican Candidate for the 103rd District Kristin Williamson and primaries to keep an eye on

Democrats in the area are split about who to vote for in the March 19 primary election for the 103rd District race for State Representative, but on the republican side, Kristin Williamson is running unopposed. She joins Scott Cameron this hour on Focus. 

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(Duration: 51:38)

Naomi Jakobsson announced last fall that she would not be seeking reelection for her seat as state representative for the 103rd District in the Illinois House of Representatives. As the primary election draws closer, we’ve heard a lot from democratic candidates Carol Ammons and Sam Rosenberg. Kristin Williamson, the Republican vying for Jakobsson’s seat, will also be on the ballot and is running unopposed. She joins Scott Cameron for the first half of this hour on Focus.

Then, Tom Kacich, reporter for the News-Gazette, and Brian Mackey, statehouse reporter for Illinois Public Radio, join the show. We’ll talk about the race for the 103rd district and will find out about other primaries around the state that are worth paying attention to this spring.

Do you have questions for Kristin Williamson? Give us a call, tweet us @Focus580 or send us an email! 

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Focus - February 11, 2014

Civil Unrest in Ukraine

Thousands of protestors have occupied Ukraine’s Maidan square in Kiev since November when President Viktor Yankovych refused to sign a trade agreement with the European Union. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the unrest in the country.

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(Duration: 52:01)

Protestors with demands of European values in Ukraine. November 26, 2013.

Anti-government protests in Ukraine have continued to escalate since November with tens of thousands of protestors gathering in Kiev’s Maidan Square throughout the winter. Crowds are now calling for President Viktor Yanukovich’s resignation.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Associate Professor of Political Science Carol Leff about the protests and about what’s ahead for the country. Iryna Sukhnatska, a law student at the University of Illinois who immigrated to the states from Ukraine in 1999, also joins the show. Some of her family has been protesting, and she says it is hard to watch the violence play out from afar.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Focus - January 21, 2014

Study shows pension fix won’t restore fiscal health to Illinois

In December, lawmakers passed legislation to fix the state’s multi-billion dollar pension shortfall. According to the Institute for Government and Public Affairs, it helps restore the pension system but won’t fix the state’s overall budget deficit.

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(Duration: 51:54)

Tally of votes in the Illinois Senate Tuesday on the pension reform bill

In December, lawmakers passed legislation to fix the state’s multi-billion dollar pension shortfall. According to the Institute for Government and Public Affairs, it helps restore the pension system but won’t fix the state’s overall budget deficit.

Was it supposed to? This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Richard Dye, a Professor with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs about what the pension bill does and doesn’t do to help restore the state’s financial health.

Then, host Jim Meadows talks with Frank Shafroth, Director at the Center for State and Local Leadership at George Mason University. Public pension problems in Illinois are a consequence of unmade payments, is that the case around the country where other public pension systems are also failing? We’ll find out and will hear what decision makers around the country are doing to triage public pension systems.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Focus - January 14, 2014

Why haven’t there been more female governors?

Illinois is one of 24 US states that have not yet elected a female governor. Why not? 

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(Duration: 51:42)

Illinois Executive Mansion

There are women running for governor in 19 US states; Illinois isn’t one of them. Of the 19 states where women are competing in primary gubernatorial races this spring, there are only a handful who are expected to make it onto the ballot for the general election. Why does it matter?

According to Kelly Dittmar who researches gender balance in politics for the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University, the lack representation for women at the gubernatorial level is due to a number of factors, including the support political parties do and do not show for women and the complex relationship our culture has with women taking executive leadership roles. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about what barriers still exist for women seeking gubernatorial office in Illinois and across the country. Dittmar, an Assistant Professor at the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University and Tom Kacich, who writes about politics for the News-Gazette, join host Jim Meadows.

Categories: Politics

WILL - Focus - January 08, 2014

Raising the Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25. Should it be higher?

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(Duration: 49:59)

Rachel Warren is 21 and says that she “makes it work” supporting herself by working two jobs for minimum wage, one in Champaign and one in Urbana. If she had to support someone else, however, she says that just wouldn’t be feasible. Gov. Pat Quinn has been pushing for an increase to Illinois minimum wage, which is already a dollar higher than the federal standard. If the state mandated a wage increase for people like Warren, she says even a dollar more an hour would make a substantial difference in her monthly budget.
 
This hour on focus, we’ll hear from Warren and will talk about the pros and cons of raising the minimum wage and the arguments for and against doing so. Bob Bruno, Professor of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Chicago and James Sherk, a Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics at the Heritage Foundation join us.
 
Do you or have you ever worked for minimum wage? Are you a small business owner who would be affected by a potential wage increase? Post in the comments section below!
 

Categories: Community, Economics, Politics

WILL - Focus - December 11, 2013

What’s Ahead for South Africa

Nobody can replace Nelson Mandela in the hearts of his people; his place in history will not soon be forgotten. South Africa as a nation, however, will continue to exist without him. This hour on Focus, we’ll discuss his legacy and what’s ahead for the country now that he’s gone.

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(Duration: 51:40)

Nelson Mandela in 2008

Ken Salo grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and compares living in apartheid era South Africa to what he imagines it would have been like to live in the Jim Crowe era South in the United States. He attended a segregated university there and says what you could do and where you could go was dictated by whether or not you were black, white or colored.

This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Salo about the racial issues that Nelson Mandela spent his life and career confronting and what it was like to be confronted with them as a young man in daily life. Host Jim Meadows also talks with Teresa Barnes, who lived in South Africa for 25 years and studies the country’s political and social history.

Categories: Politics, Race/Ethnicity

WILL - Focus - December 05, 2013

Will the 2013 Farm Bill be approved in 2013?

The 2013 farm bill is at least a 900 billion dollar piece of legislation. It’s been stalled in Congress since the 2008 bill expired a year ago. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about what the hold-up is and why it matters.

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(Duration: 51:50)

Farmers have been operating for more than a year now without a farm bill. Since the 2008 bill expired, there’s been an ideological debate surrounding the funding of certain programs in the farm bill, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. There are currently two versions of the farm bill stalled in Congress, one passed by the Senate and one passed by the House, and if legislators can’t come to a compromise by January 1, farm policy written in the 1940’s will take effect. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about why there’s been such a fight over this year’s farm bill and how that differs from farm bills past.

Jonathan Coppess, a Clinical Professor of Law and Policy in the Department of Agriculture Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and former chief of staff to Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, (D) who worked on the Senate version of the bill and Mary Kay Thatcher, Senior Director of Congressional Affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation join us.

Tags: farm bill, farm

WILL - Focus - December 04, 2013

What does Tuesday’s pension vote mean?

A bill to fix the state’s massively underfunded pension system is headed to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Illinois Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky and former state senator Rick Winkel about what’s in the bill and what happens now.

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(Duration: 51:42)

Tally of votes in the Illinois Senate Tuesday on the pension reform bill

Tuesday, the Illinois Legislature approved a history plan to eliminate the state’s $100 billion pension shortfall, considered the worst in the nation. The House voted 62-53 in favor of the plan, and the Senate approved the measure minutes earlier. The bill, however, passed with little support from East Central Illinois lawmakers.

How will it help the state’s budgetary woes and what will it mean for state employees? Does it violate the state’s pension protections spelled out in the Illinois constitution?  This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Illinois Public Radio’s Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky and former Illinois State Senator Rick Winkel about what’s in the bill and what it means.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Focus - October 16, 2013

Politics Roundtable and Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin on the upcoming veto session

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks politics with Illinois Public Radio’s Amanda Vinicky and the News-Gazette’s Tom Kacich. Then, we’ll hear from Illinois’ new House Minority Leader, Representative Jim Durkin.

Illinois Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Countryside, testifies during a legislative committee hearing on ethics reform at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2009. Jim Durkin told the ethics committee that lawmakers should take a c

It’s starting to show that Governor Pat Quinn is up for reelection next fall. He’s answering more reporter questions and is making it seem like he's serious about sorting out the state's pension issues. Have lawmakers made any progress? In preview of next week's veto session in the Illinois legislature, host Jim Meadows talks with political reporters Amanda Vinicky of Illinois Public Radio and Tom Kacich of the News-Gazette about Governor Quinn’s focus on the pension problem. We'll also talk with Kacich about the status of the farm bill and how current negotiations regarding the government shutdown and the debt ceiling affect political debate and discussion in Illinois.

Then, Meadows talks with Representative Jim Durkin, new Minority Leader for the Illinois House of Representatives about the Republican agenda for the upcoming legislative session. 

Categories: Politics

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