Illinois Public Media News
A plan to cut service at the Champaign Fire Department has stalled as city officials and the local fire union try to reach an agreement to save the city nearly $420,000 in overtime costs.
The city had set a Jan. 1 deadline to reduce operations for Engine Co. 154 located on West John Street, but recent budget negotiations pushed that date to Jan. 15.
Champaign Firefighters Local 1260 President Chris Zaremba said union members are willing to make concessions to ensure that the truck is available whenever there is an emergency.
"The union is looking at doing approximately $350,000 of that, and the city would essentially match what we're doing to come up with the rest," Zaremba said. "I believe the (union) supports us making some sort of offer to try to keep that company open."
Champaign Fire Chief Doug Forsman said he is cautiously optimistic that an agreement will be reached. However, if there is not a compromise, then service to staff the fire engine would be cut by 75 percent.
While Forsman said Engine Co. 154 is the least busy out of all of the city's fire companies, he acknowledges that reducing service would have an impact on emergency response. If service is reduced for Engine Co. 154, one of the city's adjacent fire stations would have to respond.
"That causes a little bit of a time delay, and causes an area to be uncovered that would normally remain covered during that incident," Forsman said.
A call seeking comment from the city was not immediately returned.
Meanwhile, plans are still in place to stop overnight operations at the front desk of the Champaign Police Department from 7pm until 7am.
Reducing staffing overnight is expected to save the city approximately $140,000. Deputy Chief Troy Daniels said the change will take affect by the middle of January.
"The lobby is not used a lot during those times anyway." Daniels said. "Certainly, we want to keep someone at the front desk at often as possible. Right now, we're being told the cuts should come and that we should implement the cuts, but certainly the council or the city manager's office could tell us otherwise at any time."
Daniels said the department is preparing for the change by modifying the way the public can get a hold of law enforcement when the front desk is closed. Unlike the negotiations going on between the city and the fire union, he noted nothing like that is taking place to prevent the front desk from closing.
The family of a man who allegedly committed suicide while in police custody is suing the city of Chicago for wrongful death.
On Nov. 17, Develt Bradford was found hanging while detained at Area 2 of the Chicago Police Department. Three days later, another detainee, Melvin Woods, was found hanging in his cell at the same police station.
Bradford's family has a fusillade of questions and, on Tuesday, filed a civil lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
"If the Chicago police did no wrong, let's find that out. But let's have an independent authority," said Sam Adam Jr., the Bradford family attorney. "What we do not need is 15 years from now to be readdressing this like we had to do with Jon Burge."
The backdrop is that Area 2 used to be under the watch of Jon Burge. A federal jury convicted the former police commander of lying about decades of torturing black men. Bradford and Woods are black. At a press conference Wednesday, Bradford family attorneys sought to make the connection.
Annie Bradford, the mother of Develt Bradford, choked back tears.
"I'm very sad. I'm very disappointed in the way that my son had to go. I just want to know what really happened," Bradford said.
Adam's law firm sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asking that his office investigate the two alleged suicides.
"When a family member calls me with a tremor in her voice ... can you help us to find out what happened in this situation?" said U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago), who flanked attorneys at the press conference. "Then of course, I have no choice except to call upon the highest level of legal investigatorial (sic) authority in the country - and that is the U.S. Attorney's Office - to conduct its own independent investigation."
Attorney Victor Henderson said there are too many unanswered questions about Bradford and Woods' deaths. He said an internal police investigation is not good enough, given the Burge history at Area 2.
"Why were the cameras off? How long were they in custody? Let's see the clothes that they allegedly hung themselves (with). Let's have some forensic tests, have some blood tests," Henderson said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment. The Chicago Police Department gave this statement: "The Chicago Police Department takes the treatment of its arrestees very seriously. The incidents that occurred at Area 2 are currently under investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority.
A judge has delayed a hearing sought by Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White in his bid to remain in office.
The judge issued an order last week calling for White's removal from office because he was improperly registered as a candidate when he ran for office in 2010. He later put that order on hold and set a Thursday hearing on White's bid to move the civil case to a higher court.
But Marion Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg moved the hearing to Jan. 3 after White's attorney said the original hearing date was troublesome because it fell between the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
White faces voter fraud and other charges in a separate criminal case over voting from his ex-wife's address in the 2010 primary.
Prosecutors have charged two Indianapolis women with making false claims to try to collect money from funds intended for victims of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry says Stephanie Murry and Sandra Hurn were charged Tuesday with forgery, attempted theft and perjury. Hurn also was charged with theft.
Authorities say the women each submitted claims totaling $22,500 to a private relief fund and the state tort claim fund.
Prosecutors say both women submitted falsified hospital records detailing injuries they claimed to have suffered at the Aug. 13 concert that killed seven people. A prosecutor's office spokeswoman says neither woman is believed to have attended the concert.
Murry's attorney didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment. Hurn had no attorney or listed phone number.
A Danville man faces murder charges in connection with the death of his mother on Christmas Day.
Forty four year old Michael Gibbs made his first appearance in Vermilion County Circuit Court Tuesday afternoon. Eighty four year old Ethel Gibbs was found dead in her apartment on East View Drive Sunday.
Danville Police have not disclosed how Gibbs died. An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday morning.
Michael Gibbs, who lists the same address as his mother, faces four counts of first degree murder, and one of aggravated battery. He remains in custody on $1-million bond, and will be back in court Jan. 12.
For the second time in two months, Tony Rezko was back in front of a judge Thursday to be sentenced to federal prison. Rezko was a fundraiser for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Rezko was recently sentenced to 10-and-a-half years behind bars for his role in corruption in the Blagojevich administration. On Thursday, he was back in front of a judge to be sentenced in a different case. This time for lying to get some loans to keep his failing businesses afloat. The case was brought as prosecutors were applying pressure to individuals involved in illegal fundraising for Blagojevich.
Judge James Zagel handed Rezko a seven and a half year sentence, which he can serve at the same time as his other sentence. Zagel also admonished Rezko for entangling, "an honorable man" into his criminal acts. By that he meant one of Rezko's co-defendants who pleaded guilty, but the judge didn't say to whom he was referring.
Rezko will also have to pay more than $4 million in restitution, something his attorney said Rezko cannot afford to do.
As the frail-looking 56-year-old left the courtroom, he smiled at his family, who waved to him and yelled, "Merry Christmas.
A judge has reversed a decision by the Indiana Recount Commission and ordered it to decertify the 2010 election of Indiana's embattled Republican secretary of state.
Marion Circuit Judge Louis Rosenberg issued a ruling Thursday reversing and setting aside the Recount Commission's unanimous June decision that Charlie White was eligible to run for office last year despite questions over his residency. Rosenberg ordered the commission to certify Democrat Vop Osili as secretary of state.
Recount Commission spokesman AJ Feeney-Ruiz says White remains secretary of state for now. He says the commission won't take up Roserberg's ruling before late next week.
Feeney-Ruiz says the panel will meet with the state attorney general's office about seeking a stay of Rosenberg's ruling pending an appeal.
White faces trial next month for voter fraud.
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
A man thought to be a victim of John Wayne Gacy has been found alive. Ted Szal went missing in the Chicago area in the 1970s. Gacy was a serial killer who killed 33 young men during that time on the northwest side.
Jason Moran, a detective with the Cook County Sheriff's Office, said they tracked Szal down in Oregon after his DNA did not match any of the seven remaining Gacy victims still unidentified.
"Our goal at the Sheriff's Office is that identify the remaining seven but you know when you are able to reunite a family after thirty five years, it's a nice thing to do," Moran said.
Moran also said he is still working through leads to identify the seven remaining victims.
Illinois authorities investigating the deaths of a family in the small farming community of Emington say the mother shot her three children and live-in boyfriend before killing herself.
The murder-suicide Friday afternoon claimed the lives of 30-year-old Sara McMeen, 29-year-old Daniel Warren and McMeen's three children: 8-year-old Skyler Lemke, 7-year-old Ian Lemke and 10-month-old Maggie Warren.
Authorities previously declined to identify the shooter, although a neighbor told The Associated Press she saw McMeen shoot her baby in the family's backyard.
Livingston County Sheriff Martin Meredith said Monday that authorities found McMeen and the three children outside the home and Daniel Warren inside. Autopsy results show all five died of gunshot wounds.
Authorities are looking for anyone who spoke to McMeen or Daniel Warren before the shootings.
The Vermilion County Coroner has identified the man who was fatally shot Sunday night at a Danville public housing complex as 25-year old Latrell Smith.
Doug Miller, deputy director of Danville police, said a resident of an apartment in the Fair Oaks public housing complex arrived at 6 p.m. Sunday, finding the victim with a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at Provena United Samaritans Medical Center.
Miller says the man who found Smith lives at that apartment, but is not a relative of his. It wasn't immediately clear if Smith lived at that apartment. Miller says detectives are talking to relatives and anyone else who knew Smith in hopes of finding out what happened.
An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday morning.
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