Illinois Public Media News
US Senator Dick Durbin says an overhaul of federal student loans will end years of students having to pay back a costly bank subsidy.
In a visit to Parkland College Thursday, Illinois' senior senator met with recipients of Pell Grants, a program that will add more than 20-thousand recipients in Illinois as the result of the overhaul. Durbin says the loans haven't kept pace with the cost of tuition, but they'll be increasing in value under this measure.
The overhaul also cuts out commercial banks and other lenders from the loan process. Durbin says the 45-year old loan program carried no risk to banks -- and they'd be paid in full -- even if a student defaulted on a loan:
"So banks were being given this opportunity to add to the interest rate on student loans in a risk-free environment. That is known in most circles as corporate welfare," Durbin said. "It cost us as a nation $8 billion a year that we were giving to banks and they were adding to the cost of student loans all around America. Students now struggling to pay back their student loans are now struggling to pay back this bank subsidy."
Federal student loan dollars will now be shifted to the direct loan program. For current 10-year loans, a person making $30,000 annually would have to pay $460 a month.
When the overhaul takes affects in 2014, Durbin says that amount will be reduced to just over $100 a month - and no more than 10% of someone's annual income when the program is fully implemented.
A 61-year-old Clinton man was killed in an apparent truck accident outside the Plastipak Packaging plant on West Clark Street in Champaign Wednesday.
The Champaign County Coroner's office says independent truck driver Jimmy E. Hovis was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital, where he was pronounced dead around 10:30 Wednesday morning. An autopsy will be held Thursday.
Champaign Police say Hovis was found lying injured on the ground. Preliminary reports suggest he may have been hit by his own semi truck, which was found running, with the gears hifted in reverse. Police are still investigating the matter.
An internal City of Champaign investigation into a fatal police shooting last fall is winding down.
City attorney Fred Stavins says the two outside experts the city asked to conduct the study have completed much of their work looking into last October's shooting death of 15 year old Kiwane Carrington. Police say they confronted Carrington and another teenager as the two were trying to get into an acquaintance's home on Vine Street - an officer's firearm went off and hit Carrington during a scuffle.
Stavins says retired Urbana police chief Eddie Adair and retired McLean County Judge John Freese continue to meet, but their fact-finding portion of the review is generally complete - and he says that's only one segment of the overall investigation.
"There's been an internal investigation that involves police personnel", says Stavins. "And subsequent to that, there'll be another review by another group in the police department --- the Firearm Discharge Board."
Stavins says any ultimate changes to police policy or other outcomes of the report will be up to City Manager Steve Carter. He says the goal is to determine whether the Carrington incident should lead to changes in policy. But Stavins says it will not second-guess a state police investigation that cleared Chief RT Finney and Officer Daniel Norbits of criminal wrongdoing. Carrington's aunt has filed a wrongful -death lawsuit against the officers and the city.
GOP lieutenant governor candidate Jason Plummer says state government needs the sort of experience he's gained while working for the family company.
The 27-year-old Plummer is a vice-president at Edwardsville-based R-P Lumber. The company founded by Plummer's father operates more than 40 retail stores in Illinois and Missouri, and is also involved in commercial development and banking.
"So we really understand the private sector side of things", Plummer told a group of supporters during a campaign stop in Champaign on Wednesday. "We understand what it takes to create jobs in Illinois. We understand what it takes to grow business in Illinois. And what I like to say is, you know, we need more people in Springfield that know what it's like to make a payroll every two weeks. We need more people in Springfield that know what it's like to sign the front end of a check and not just endorse the back."
Plummer says that, if elected, he'll work with GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady to balance the state budget and create private sector jobs. He says the lieutenant governor's office was "underutilized" by Pat Quinn.
"I watched Pat Quinn and Rod Blagojevich brag in the newspaper that they had not talked to each other in two years", says Plummer. "Well, how can you manage an enterprise the size of the state of Illinois if the two top people don't communicate? I'm going to work hand in hand with Bill Brady --- strong partnership, use the office, elevate the office, and focus on issues where we're struggling."
Plummer's visit to Champaign-Urbana comes two days after a campaign visit from Governor Quinn and his new running mate, Sheila Simon. Plummer says the nomination of Simon makes it clear that the Democratic ticket is committed to more spending and big government.
In addition to the Quinn/Simon and Brady/Plummer pairings, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney and lieutenant governor candidate Don W. Crawford are also on the ballot in November.
It's been almost a year since the H1N1 flu strain appeared in the U-S --- but health officials are still urging the public to get vaccinated. The Illinois Department of Public Health has launched a new campaign urging people to get vaccinated, if they haven't done so already.
Julie Pryde of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District says less than a third of county residents have been vaccinated for H1N1, or swine flu. She wants more people vaccinated to protect against a possible resurgence of the virus this spring or fall.
"If you do not have a shot for H1N1, you are not protected", says Pryde. "And we are expecting H1N1 to come back. Right now, it really heating up in the southeast and the south. And there are starting to be more and more cases, which indicates to us that it's going to sweep across the country somewhat like it did in the fall."
Pryde says that outside of some flu-like illnesses reported at hospital emergency rooms, there don't seem to be any signs of H1N1 in Champaign County right now. But the Illinois Department of Public Health says 18 new cases were reported around the state last week, including one death.
In contrast, Pryde says the seasonal flu strain seen this past winter seems to have run its course in Champaign County.
The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is offering free H1N1 flu vaccinations, without an appointment. They're available weekdays from 8 to 4 at the agency's headquarters on West Kenyon Road in Champaign. Pryde reminds parents that children will need two shots, spaced a month apart.
Governor Pat Quinn is touting the record of a running mate whose only prior experience in public office was on the Carbondale City Council.
In a room full of supporters at the University of Illinois' Illini Union Monday... the Governor cited Sheila Simon's record as a prosecutor and teacher, and her stance on ethics in government. Urbana was an afternoon stop on a six-city flyaround for Quinn and Simon.
Quinn also says it was important for Democrats to select a Lieutenant Governor candidate who understands environmental issues.
"Sheila's going to be chairperson of the Rural Affairs Council when she's elected lieutenant governor", says Quinn. "And I think we should have somebody from downstate Illinois, who understands rural Illinois and understands agriculture."
Sheila Simon has known Quinn for more than 25 years... and says becoming the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor was an easy decision.
"I measure him the way my folks taught me to measure people in government service" says Simon. "Are they someone who puts the needs of other people ahead of their own? And that fits Pat Quinn to a T. He's someone who I respect greatly. He's someone who is straightforward and tackles problems even when it's the unpopular thing to do."
Simon cites the recent passage of a pension reform measure in Springfield as one example.
Simon says Quinn's priorities are her priorities ... including getting Illinois' budget in order and job creation.
The daughter of the late US Senator Paul Simon is a law professor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
A Cook County judge has lifted a temporary restraining order on a never-enforced Illinois law requiring that a girl's guardians be notified before she has an abortion, but that doesn't mean the law goes into effect right away.
Judge Daniel Riley on Monday also approved a stay, or grace period, to let appeals be worked through in the case.
The law requires doctors to notify the guardians of a girl 17 or younger 48 hours before the girl gets an abortion.
Earlier this month, Riley heard arguments from the Illinois attorney general's office and the American Civil Liberties Union on the 1995 Parental Notice of Abortion Act.
ACLU of Illinois Executive Director Colleen Connell says the group is exploring legal options, including filing an appeal.
Fight in Lincoln's Challenge Dining Hall May Lead to Expulsions
30 to 50 cadets at Rantoul's Lincoln's Challenge program could face expulsion over a fight in the academy's dining hall Sunday night.
The FBI in Illinois says weekend raids in Ohio and Indiana are part of an ongoing investigation led by the FBI in Michigan.
Raids were conducted in all three states and at least three people were arrested, two in Ohio and one in Illinois.
Federal warrants were sealed, but one federal law enforcement official says some of those arrested face gun charges. That official also says they're pursuing other suspects.
A militia leader in Michigan said the target of at least one of the raids was a Christian militia group.
George Ponce, who works at a pizzeria next door to a home raided in Hammond, Ind., said he and a few co-workers stepped outside for a break Saturday night and saw a swarm of law enforcement officers.
Ponce said officers yelled "get back inside'' and told them the house was being swept for bombs. He estimates agents took more than two dozen guns from the house.
A Chicago man accused of terrorism is scheduled to be in court Monday, but some of the public proceeding may be held in private.
Prosecuctors say the case against Tahawwur Rana includes classified information.
Information the government would like to use against him, but information the government would not like to trot out in a public courtroom.
That's why much of Monday's s hearing may be closed.
The judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys will likely discuss how they'll handle evidence that falls under the "Classified Information Procedures Act," or CIPA.
The act allows prosecutors to protect certain information by using only partial evidence, a part of a recording or a document.
Prosecutors would present the evidence to the judge who then decides how much of it can be seen by defense attorneys.
Rana has been charged with supporting another Chicagoan - David Headley - as he helped plan the 2008 Mumbai terror attack that killed more than a hundred and sixty people.
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