WILL - Focus - September 26, 2013

Illinois Politics Roundtable

Are Illinois lawmakers making progress on pension reform? Why do all the lively races for statewide office next year only involve republicans?


(Duration: 51:30)

The Champaign County Republican Party’s annual Fall Festival included a straw poll for each of the candidates seeking the GOP nomination for governor of Illinois.

Candidates for state office in next year’s elections have announced their candidacy and are starting to campaign. But looking ahead to the primary elections, all the lively races are between Republicans. What does that say about the state of Illinois and what does that mean looking forward to the election season? This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks politics with Amanda Vinicky of Illinois Public Radio, Bernard Schoenburg of the Springfield State Journal Register and David Yepsen, Director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Categories: Politics

WILL - Focus - September 06, 2013

Should the US Intervene in Syria?

Do you agree with President Obama that the US should intervene in the conflict in Syria? How do you want your lawmakers to vote? This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the debate and what US action would mean for people in Syria.


(Duration: 51:37)

Congress continues to debate whether or not the US should get involved in Syria, even though President Obama can order a missile strike without Congress’ approval. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the debate and who really has the power to order military action. Juana Summers, a defense reporter with Politico joins us for the first few minutes of the program with the latest update about the debate in Washington D.C. Then, Ryan Hendrickson, a Professor of Political Science at Eastern Illinois University joins us. We’ll also talk with him about how our local US Representatives and Senators and how their voices play a role in the discussion.

We’ll also talk with Fred Lawson who he teaches international relations and government at Mills College in California about who is actually fighting in Syria and what the consequences of a missile strike would be. Lawson also spent time on a Fullbright Fellowship in Syria and will talk with us about who the people are who are being affected by all the fighting.

How do you want your legislators to vote? Do you think we should be involved in Syria? Do you have questions about the balance of power between Congress and President Obama? Let us know!

Categories: Politics
Tags: syria, politics

WILL - Focus - July 04, 2013

Capitol Steps: Politics Takes A Holiday

Today on Focus, we’ll listen to a 4th of July special from the Capitol Steps.

The Gang of 8 has announced that in order to be a citizen of the United States, you have to listen to The Capitol Steps 4th of July special, “Politics Takes a Holiday!” Also, statistics show that many people who have not listened to past specials have been audited by the IRS. Coincidence? Probably! This episode is not for the faint of heart….or those considering running for office.

Capitol Steps: Politics Takes a Holiday is a holiday special. We apologize that we are not able to provide a podcast for this hour.

Categories: Politics

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 15, 2013

Coming up on Next Week on Focus: Fracking, Quantifying Happiness and Prescription Side Effects

What makes you happy? Can you quantify it?  If you could have a voice in writing regulations for something you strongly oppose, would you? Or would you walk away on principle? Find out more about what’s coming up on Focus. 


Next week on Focus, we'll talk with one of the pioneers in the reserach of happiness about how he got the pscyhological science community to take him seriously, how computers could soon change the way we talk about prescription side effects and how environmental groups came together to work with energy companies to write state regualtions for hyrdraulic fracturing. 

WILL - Focus - March 12, 2013

Changing Politics in Latin American

This hour on Focus, we talked with Venezuelan native and Political Science Associate Professor Damarys Canache about Hugo Chavez’s death. Then for the second half of the hour, Theodore Piccone, Deputy Director of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution joins the show to talk about what changes in Venezuela mean for Cuba.


(Duration: 50:25)

Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez, who was the President of Venezuela until he died March 5, started his controversial political career as an outsider.  During the first half of this hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Damarys Canache, an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Urbana-Champaign who is a Venezuelan native, about Hugo Chavez, his rise to power and what his death means for the country moving forward. Then during the second part of the show, we’ll talk with Theodore Piccone, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, about what Chavez’s death means for Cuba. We’ll also talk with him about Raul Castro’s recent announcement to step down after his current presidential term comes to an end in 2018 and what’s next for the Cuban Communist Party.

WILL - Focus - January 31, 2013

Immigration Reform

The move to overhaul the nation’s immigration system is gaining momentum in Washington, and President Obama has called that “good news.” Today on Focus: the current path to citizenship and the challenges and barriers it presents to immigrants.


(Duration: 50:49)

Jeffrey Hays in the WILL studio

The move to overhaul the nation’s immigration system is gaining momentum in Washington, and President Obama has called that “good news.” This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the current path to citizenship and the challenges and barriers it presents to immigrants. Guests include Jeffrey Hays, an immigration attorney at Erwin, Martinkus and Cole in Champaign and Ricardo Diaz of the Champaign-Urbana Immigration Forum. We’ll also check in with Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post to get an update about what’s happening in Washington, and we’ll talk with Illinois Public Radio’s Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky about changes to Illinois’ immigrant driver’s license policy.

Do you think undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay? What changes should be made to the US’s immigration policies? Join the conversation on Facebook at or on Twitter @Focus580.

Categories: Immigration, Politics

WILL - Focus - January 22, 2013

International Adoption in Illinois


(Duration: 50:45)

Ben and Timmy McClelland

The Russian government recently instituted a controversial ban on adoptions to the United States. Outcry from both families in the middle of the adoption process with Russia and families who have previously adopted from the country has been harsh.

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 - January 07, 2013

Political Discourse in America


(Duration: 51:44)

January 7 is the 14th anniversary of the beginning of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in the U-S Senate. He was the first president to be impeached by the House since Andrew Johnson in 1868. It was a major political development dissected, moment by moment, by 24 hour news channels and talk radio. Politicians and pundits alike spoke in ever coarser tones about the issues surrounding the trial. And our political discourse hasn’t exactly improved since then. In fact, we saw moments when the major players in the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations, just over the last week or two, struggled to communicate effectively with one another. We’ll consider what it might take to raise the level of discourse in our politics – and whether major issues and ideas can be debated thoughtfully and respectfully by people with wildly divergent views. We’ll also explore what led to the coarsening of our political discourse particularly in the last 20 years, and whether our perception that it was more respectful in the past is really true.

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