Illinois Public Media News


AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 29, 2012

Quinn Officials Will Halt Prison Remodeling

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's administration is halting work on a juvenile detention center some lawmakers thought was illegal.

Department of Juvenile Justice spokesman Kendall Marlowe said Thursday afternoon that the agency will halt remodeling the Illinois Youth Center at St. Charles "out of deference'' to lawmakers.

The legislative Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability thought the $4 million project was accelerated to accommodate new detainees currently housed at the Joliet youth center. That would violate the closure law.

Quinn plans to close the Joliet center and other state-run facilities to save money. The legislative commission has an advisory say in the matter and suggested halting the work on St. Charles.

Marlowe says the justice agency maintains the work is not illegal but will not start it until plans are finalized.



AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 27, 2012

Ill. Panel Asks Feds for Info on Arrested Lawmaker

A special committee of the Illinois House began investigating Representative Derrick Smith today. He was arrested two weeks ago on federal bribery charges. The hearing is one of the first steps in a long process that could lead to Smith being expelled from the House.

The committee's first meeting was mostly organizational. Its next step is asking federal prosecutors for more information on the charges against Smith. The Chicago Democrat is accused of accepting $7,000 in cash from a daycare in exchange for writing a letter supporting its grant application.

Specifically, the six representatives on the investigative panel want a copy of the letter and a list of witnesses. But even if federal prosecutors say no, legislators say they have enough to continue. State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, of Elmhurst, is the committee's ranking Republican.

"Rep. Smith has not been in session since the allegations," Reboletti said. "There are constituents who are going to be calling his office (and) may need other support, and so these are things we're going to have to take a look at. I think there's going to be things outside the four corners of that petition that we'll be able to take into evidence and consider but right now I have made no presumption either way."

A lawyer for the committee said he notified Smith of the hearing, but Smith did not show up. Attempts to reach Smith by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful. The committee expects to hear from federal prosecutors in time to meet the week of April 9.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 27, 2012

Imprisoned Former Gov’s Home Taken Off The Market

A spokesman for Rod Blagojevich says the imprisoned former Illinois governor's family is no longer selling their Chicago home.

Glenn Selig tells WLS-TV in Chicago (http://bit.ly/GOLiRs) former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich has decided taking the house off the market is best for daughters Amy and Annie. Selig says Patti Blagojevich wants to avoid the stress of showing a house during a time already filled "with so much upheaval."

Earlier this month Rod Blagojevich started serving a 14-year sentence at a Colorado federal prison.

The house had been for sale since last year with an asking price of $1.07 million. The 13-room brick home is in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood.

The house was where FBI wiretaps captured Blagojevich talking. It's also from where federal agents led him away in handcuffs.



AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 20, 2012

Arrested Lawmaker Wins Dem Nomination

A Chicago Democrat has won his party's nomination for the Illinois House despite his arrest on a federal bribery charge.

Rep. Derrick Smith was appointed to his seat last spring after his predecessor moved up to the Senate.

Federal prosecutors allege Smith accepted a $7,000 bribe ten days ago in exchange for what he thought was his endorsement of a state grant for a daycare operation. Authorities claim it was part of an undercover sting.

Smith won 77 percent of the vote over Tom Swiss. Swiss is a former Republican activist who says he has independent views.

Smith received more than $60,000 for his campaign from Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan.



AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 14, 2012

On Last Day Free, Blagojevich Offers Last Word

(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)

On his last full day of freedom, Rod Blagojevich gave a statement to reporters in front of his home on Chicago's North side.

Blagojevich first thanked people for their support over the last three years. He said the citizens of Illinois elected him twice to be governor of the state. He called that a privilege and an honor.

Blagojevich said he fought hard for the people during his time as governor and listed some key legislation that passed during his term. He faulted himself for possibly fighting too hard and not "having more humility."

The ex-governor paused as supporters chanted, "Free our governor," before turning his statement to address his wife Patti and his two daughters. He called going to prison the hardest thing he'd ever have to do.

"How do you make sense of all of this? What do you tell your children?" he asked.

Blagojevich regretted that he would be away from his daughters for more than a decade.

"It's hard for me to say that I have to go to prison. That's a hard word for me to say," he said.

His wife Patti stood by his side during the entire statement, trying to hold back tears. The ex-governor praised her for standing by his side and being a "great mom."

After his statement, Blagojevich didn't take any questions and the family returned to their home.

The 55-year-old Democrat is due to report to a prison in Colorado on Thursday to begin serving a 14-year sentence. He was convicted of 18 criminal counts during two trials, including charges that he tried to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat.

More than 50 reporters crowded onto the street near the former Illinois governor's home as television helicopters hovered overhead.

Neighbors and supporters hung a banner over the railing of Blagojevich's home that read, "Thanks Mr. Governor. We will pray."

Current Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn told reporters Wednesday the state is a much better place than it was on January 29th, 2009, the day Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office.

"We're going to have two governors, two former governors, in jail at the same time. That's something that we never, ever want to have happen," Quinn said. "And I think that it's important that the people of Illinois, who are good and true, always come out first."

Quinn said he wishes Blagojevich's family well.

Blagojevich had announced he'd make the statement starting precisely at 5:02 p.m., which enabled prime time news to lead with his remarks. Attorneys for the ousted Illinois governor say he wants to depart in a dignified way, without a media frenzy. That fueled speculation he'd try to slip out of Chicago undetected, but his spokesman says Blagojevich never entertained that idea.

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 14, 2012

Woman Under Arrest For Giving Cell Phone to Jail Inmate

A Bloomington woman is under arrest, and accused of bringing contraband to an inmate at the Champaign County Jail.

The Champaign County Sheriff's Department says 24 year old Allyssa C. Solava was arrested by Bloomington Police today (Wednesday) and taken to the McLean County Jail.

Solava has been working at the Champaign County Jail for the past ten months as a mental health counselor, on the payroll of an independent contractor, Correctional Health Care Companies.

Sheriff's investigators allege that Solava brought contraband, including a cell phone, into the jail and gave it to an inmate. The Sheriff's office say it learned of the matter, when a citizen's complaint about late-night telephone calls led to jail guards discovering the phone.

Judge Richard Klaus set bail for Solava at a quarter million dollars. Champaign County Sheriff's investigators say additional charges against other people are possible in the case.


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