Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 12, 2011

State Panel Approves Provena-Resurrection Merger

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board has signed off on creating Illinois' largest Catholic hospital system.

At its meeting Wednesday in Bolingbrook, the state regulatory panel unanimously agreed to the merger between Mokena-based Provena Health and Chicago-based Resurrection Health Care.

The combined system would provide more than 100 sites, including Provena's two hospitals in Urbana and Danville, 28 long-term care and senior residential centers, and more than 50 clinics.

Sandra Bruce, the president and CEO of the new organization, said it is grateful for the board's unanimous approval.

"We enthusiastically now turn our full attention to creating a strong Catholic health ministry driven by Mission, and focused entirely on collaborating with our physicians, staff, and our communities to deliver patient, resident and family-centered care that is high in quality and value," Bruce said in a press release.

When the merger was announced in July, Resurrection spoksman Brian Crawford said he expected a cost savings to be incurred by closing down information systems and a corporate office for one of the hospital systems. At a state hearing in Urbana in August, there was little opposition to the move.

It's expected to be finalized Nov. 1.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 12, 2011

GOP Presidential Hopeful Perry Makes Indiana Stop

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is telling Indiana Republicans they need to stop President Barack Obama from winning the state again next year.

Perry made his case for the White House to roughly 300 GOP activists Wednesday afternoon at the Columbia Club in downtown Indianapolis.

Perry is the fourth GOP candidate to accept an invitation from state Republican Chairman Eric Holcomb to visit Indiana. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney stopped in Indianapolis last month.

Perry did like other contenders who campaigned here before him and heaped praise on Gov. Mitch Daniels. Daniels has yet to endorse a Republican presidential candidate and has been mentioned as a possible running mate.

Perry was among the Republican candidates who took part in a debate Tuesday night in New Hampshire.

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 12, 2011

Lugar Raises $840K for Senate Re-election Bid

Richard Lugar is reporting he raised $840,000 during the third quarter in his bid to retain the U.S. Senate seat he has held for 35 years.

The Lugar campaign also reports holding $3.8 million in the bank at the end of last month. They released the figures Wednesday a few days ahead of the federal filing deadline.

Republican candidate Richard Mourdock and Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly had not released their fundraising totals for the quarter as of Wednesday evening.

Lugar is facing one of his toughest political battles as he fights the tea party-backed Mourdock to maintain his seat. Lugar easily outraised Mourdock through the start of the summer. But fundraising has never been the key challenge for Lugar, who faces lagging support among conservatives.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 12, 2011

Migrant Housing, Labor Issues Focus of Legislative Hearing

The Illinois state senate's Agriculture and Conservation Committee met this week in Springfield to discuss housing and labor issues facing migrant workers.

An example brought up during the hearing was the case of the Cherry Orchard Village apartments in Champaign County. The property's managers were found guilty this year of failing to legally connect and repair the property's sewage systems, and they were ordered to vacate the apartments.

Champaign-Urbana Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde testified at the hearing. Pryde said part of the problem in cases like this stems from companies that underpay migrant workers.

"Migrant workers are coming here from other countries to make a lot of money, take it back for their families to live on. Not the case," Pryde said. "What's happening is that entire families are moving here. They're exploited the entire time they're here, and they usually don't even have enough money to make it back where they came from."

Democratic State Senator Mike Frerichs of Champaign chaired the committee hearing. Frerichs said legislation will be introduced next year to address housing problems facing migrant workers.

"You don't want to paint with a broad brush and say that everyone is responsible for this," Frerichs said. "But I think something needs to happen in order to insure that people aren't living in such filthy conditions with raw sewage and really unlivable living conditions."

Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee also heard testimony from Executive Director of the Illinois Migrant Council Eloy Salazar, Supervisory Attorney of the Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project Miguel Keberlein Gutierrez, Policy Analyst for the Latino Policy Forum Juliana Gonzalez-Crussi, and Policy Director for Housing Action Illinois Bob Palmer.

Categories: Government, Health, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 12, 2011

Cellini Jurors Getting Inside Look at Stealing from State

(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)

Jurors hearing the case against the final Blagojevich co-defendant William Cellini are getting a first-hand account of how political insiders stole money from the state of Illinois under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

They're getting the inside account from Steven Loren, an attorney who did work for the the Teachers Retirement System in 2003.

On Tuesday he told jurors how he drafted fake contracts to disguise illegal kickbacks as legitimate fees. He did the work for Stuart Levine, a corrupt board member of the teacher's retirement system.

Prosecutors say Cellini later joined Levine in a similar conspiracy to allegedly hold back a $200 million state contract until the contractor gave a campaign contribution to Blagojevich.

Levine has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors and is expected to testify.

Defense attorneys have already told jurors that they shouldn't convict Cellini based on anything Levine says because Levine's a career criminal and he's lied under oath.

Meanwhile, a former campaign finance director for Rod Blagojevich is scheduled to take the stand today.

Kelly Glynn is expected to testify Wednesday that Springfield Republican William Cellini hosted a campaign fundraiser in 2002 for Blagojevich that aimed to raise $300,000 for the Democrat.

On Tuesday, Judge James Zagel rejected defense arguments that much of Glynn's testimony would be hearsay.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 11, 2011

Vermilion, Champaign Counties Near Wind Farm Agreements

It will likely be at least next week before the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals signs off on plans for a wind farm, and forwarding the proposal to the County Board.

The ZBA is scheduled to meet Thursday night, and Planning and Zoning Director John Hall says two of three agreements - a county road agreement and one for reclamation - have been reached.

But he says they haven't been sent to the board, and Hall says a state law requires no more than a 30-day window between the ZBA and county board meetings to discuss wind farm proposals. Hall says having another week to meet would work to the zoning board's advantage.

"Given that there are two large documents that still need to be considered, I think it would be difficult to take final action this Thursday," he said. "So, final action probably would be possible, but we need to continue anyhow, and frankly, we haven't yet got a copy of the township road agreement."

Hall says the zoning board will likely schedule another hearing for next Thursday, October 20th, prior to the 7 p.m. Champaign County Board meeting. He says that would meet the state's demands for the county board to take up the wind farm proposal by its November 17 meeting. The ZBA has been meeting on the plan since late August.

If the Vermilion County Board signs off on a road agreement with Chicago-based Invenergy this week, County Board Chair Jim McMahon says the company could begin the initial work on the county's 104 turbines as soon as Monday, starting just northeast of Kickapoo State Park. Thirty of the turbines are targeted for Champaign County.

McMahon says the lack of zoning in his county has allowed authorities to avoid other agreements that Champaign County is dealing with now.

"154 people have signed up and said 'we want wind turbines. 104 of them did get wind turbines," he said. "And without zoning, the county board has no input and should have no input without zoning on what they do with their land, unless it was an illegal action."

McMahon says the disadvantage of having no zoning is that Vermilion County can't increase setbacks on the property of anyone concerned about the noise or shadows caused by wind turbines. The Vermilion County Board meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Invenergy's wind farm is expected to start operations by early 2013.

UPDATE: Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon says the board unanimously approved the road agreement Tuesday night, and county officials plan to meet with Invenergy later this week with hopes of starting wind farm construction by Monday.

Categories: Energy, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 10, 2011

Champaign City Council Prepares to Consider Redistricting Plans

Champaign City Council members will be given a set of proposals for new city council districts at their study session on Tuesday night.

The proposals come from members of the public, who used special software on the Champaign city website to design their own map proposals.

City Planning Director Bruce Knight said the council will be drawing up a new council district map for a city population that grew 22 percent over the last decade --- to 81,050 people. A special census in 2007 confirmed the growth in new territory on the edges of Champaign. But Knight said the full census in 2010 showed that growth occurred throughout the city.

"Probably the most interesting thing, especially working from the changes we made from the special census just a few years ago --- what we have seen is more population growth in the core of the city than we'd seen previously," Knight said.

Knight says the number of council redistricting proposals from the public has been small --- just four, as of Monday morning. But the city planned to take proposals through its website until midnight Monday night.

Assistance Information Technology Director Mark Toalson says users may find the special redistricting software slow to load. But once it's in place, he says it's pretty easy to design your own map of Champaign city council districts.

"It's pretty straightforward," Toalson said. " You just pick, essentially the pieces of the puzzle that you want in a new district. And the program will recalculate population and demographic statistics for you. So it kind of keeps a running total on the populations of your proposed districts."

There's a link to the mapping software on the city council page of the Champaign website. The Champaign City Council is scheduled to discuss designs for a new council district map at its Oct. 25 study session.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 10, 2011

Kansas Man Held for Allegedly Kiling Cousin near Champaign

A man from the state of Kansas accused of fatally shooting his cousin near Mahomet on Friday is expected to make his first court appearance Tuesday.

News reports indicate 68-year old Gerard James allegedly killed Harlan James of Champaign after a dispute in a field northwest of Mahomet around 3 p.m. Friday. He's lodged in the Champaign County Jail.

Deputy Charles Glass with the County Sheriff's Department confirms Gerard James is scheduled for arraignment at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. The court appearance was postponed from Monday, due to the Columbus Day holiday.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 09, 2011

Anti-Wall Street Rallies in Chicago, Champaign

(With additional reporting from Illinois Public Media)

Chanting protesters from two different groups have filled portions of downtown Chicago. The groups eventually joined forces Saturday afternoon.

Occupy Chicago is a spinoff of anti-wall Street protests in New York. They held signs and chanted slogans including "This is what democracy looks like'' before joining the Midwest Anti-War Mobilization rally.

That group gathered on the 10th anniversary of the start of the Afghanistan War to call for an end to U.S. military action there. Protesters planned to march past President Barack Obama's re-election headquarters and a military recruiting station.

Chicago police reported no arrests. A similar anti-war event was held at the University of Illinois' Urbana campus on Friday.

Meanwhile, downtown Champaign was the site of a noon-hour rally on Saturday, held by Central Illinois Jobs with Justice, along with members of the Illinois Education Association, the Channing-Murray Foundation, and the Service Employees International Union.

SEIU field organizer Ricky Baldwin says the march is meant to send a strong message to lawmakers that large corporate layoffs are not acceptable, especially after the federal bailout.

"We want action to create jobs, not to destroy them," said Baldwin. "The bailout recipients - if they're not going to use the money - to help with the economic problems that regular people are having, then they should pay the money back.

Categories: Economics, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 09, 2011

Catholic Charities Seeks Stay of Judge’s Ruling

Attorneys for Catholic Charities are asking an appellate court to stay a ruling that allows Illinois to stop working with the groups on adoptions and foster-care placements.

An emergency motion filed Friday asks for a stay of an August ruling by a Sangamon County judge.

That ruling sides with the state, which severed work with Catholic Charities after the agency refused to recognize Illinois' civil union law.

Catholic Charities says it developed a "property interest'' in the work after 40 years of state contracts. The agency says it should be able to object to state action. The judge ruled no one has a legal right to a state contract.

The Catholic Charities are affiliated with the Joliet, Springfield and Belleville dioceses.

A response from the state is due Wednesday.

Categories: Government, Politics, Religion

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