Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 22, 2009

Unemployment Down Slightly—But Still High—in Chamapign-Urbana Area

September provided a bit of a respite in east central Illinois' unemployment picture. With the exception of Douglas and Iroquois counties, the jobless rate went down slightly from August to September in the region - in the Champaign-Urbana area, it went down from 8.6 to 8.3 percent. But unemployment is still well above the situation a year ago at this time. It's especially high in the Danville and Decatur areas, where it's been at 12 percent-plus for a few months. At over ten percent, Illinois' jobless rate as a state exceeds the national average.

Categories: Economics, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 22, 2009

Champaign’s Safe Haven Commmunity Looks to Have New Place to Stay

A homeless community in Champaign appears to have a place to stay through the winter after several moves the last few months.

This weekend, cleanup will begin on 17 vacant rooms at Restoration Urban Ministries, with hopes that the residents the Safe Haven group can move in there in about three weeks. An agreement is being finalized between those two groups and Empty Tomb, which is providing the volunteers, including many contractors. The Safe Haven community was forced to leave the backyard of the Catholic Worker House in June when the city ruled its tents violated a zoning ordinance. The group has moved twice more since then, now staying in the parsonage center of St. Mary Catholic Church.

Empty Tomb's Sylvia Ronsvalle says many hours of work will be needed to bring Restoration's rooms up to code. "Plumbing issues that need to be addressed, there are holes in the drywall, there are water heaters that will have to be replaced," says Ronsvalle. "We have a donation of carpeting as well, since that will have to be replaced, and things need to be painted. So there's definitely work to be done." It's not known if Safe Haven will need all 17 rooms - but Ronsvale says it only makes sense to renovate them, so all of them will be available next spring when that group moves out. Area churches are securing the funds to collect the materials for completing the work in those rooms. Ronsvale estimates it will cost about $1,000 per room, with about $7,000 in donations collected so far.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 22, 2009

UI Professor: Carle Integration Could Create Tax Issues

A proposed combination of Carle Foundation Hospital and Carle Clinic Association may not settle ongoing tax issues surrounding health care facilities in Illinois - in fact, it may complicate them.

Carle Hospital - a not-for-profit company with tax exemptions - plans to purchase Carle Clinic Association, a separate, for-profit firm. The combination would be considered a not-for-profit company.

A University of Illinois law professor says the move makes good business sense. John Colombo says integrating the two organizations will help improve work flow, cost and the way patients get care. But he wonders what may happen if the combined Carle seeks tax exemptions for clinic buildings after paying taxes on them for years. Colombo says local governments will keep a very close eye on that.

"If I were the county assessor or on the county board of review, at this stage I'd demand a lot of evidence that there is serious charity care work going at these sites (Carle Clinic's facilities), and if couldn't get this evidence from Carle I'd recommend a denial of tax exemption and at this point let Carle litigate the issue, Colombo said.

Colombo says doctors who held an ownership stake in Carle Clinic would lose some autonomy under such a deal, but he says they may also get more job stability in return. Those doctors -- and state regulators -- still have to approve the deal. Carle is not granting interviews on the proposal.

Carle Hospital is challenging the loss of its tax-exempt status for property taxes. State and county officials ruled that Carle was not providing enough charity care to qualify.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 22, 2009

Carle Hospital, Clinic Move Closer to Merger

A not-for-profit hospital and its sister organization, a for-profit clinic, propose integrating in to one not-for-profit group.

Carle Foundation Hospital and Carle Clinic Association have operated as separate entities, but now the Carle Foundation wants state approval for a 250 million dollar purchase of the clinic by the hospital organization. The deal would also involve Health Alliance Medical Plans, which would remain a for-profit organization.

Carle says in a press release that the merger would reduce costs and increase cooperation between the hospital and clinic. The physicians who have a piece of ownership in Carle Clinic would become Carle Foundation employees. They have yet to approve the merger, as do members of the state's Health Facilities and Services Review Board. They meet November 4th in Urbana to hear comments.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 21, 2009

UI Faces Legal Action from Student Denied Admission

The University of Illinois is facing its first lawsuit stemming from the role clout played in the school's admissions policy.

The scandal has already forced the University's President and the Urbana-Champaign campus chancellor to step down. Now a Taylorville man, Jonathon Yard, is taking the school to court. Yard's suit could become a federal class action case. He alleges he was unfairly denied access to the U of I.

The court papers go on to say Yard had a solid academic background, which was part of admissions requirements the university cited. But the suit points out the school failed to mention the existence of a clout list, which favored those with political connections.

Yard's attorney Larry Drury says he is are alleging the university has criteria on which they accept applicants other than that which is stated in their catalogs and brochures.

An investigation determined some on that clout list were accepted even though they lacked other qualifications.

A university spokesman says the school anticipated such actions and is prepared to vigorously defend the U of I.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 21, 2009

Carrington Shooting Brings Raw Feelings to Champaign Council Meeting

Comments to the Champaign City Council Tuesday night about the shooting of 15 year old Kiwane Carrington included the charge that police policy may have authorized the shooting.

Kiwane Carrington was unarmed and attempting to flee when he was shot to death in a confrontation with police two weeks ago. Now, the group C-U Citizens for Peace and Justice says a document revising Champaign Police procedures authorizes the deadly use of force when a suspect is trying to avoid arrest -- even if no one is threatened with harm. Spokesperson Danielle Chynoweth told the city council such a policy opened the door for more police shootings of unarmed people.

"If you were a young kid who never read this use of force policy which even our group had the hardest time getting our hands on -- had to go through back channels to get a copy -- resistance can equal death. You must rewrite this policy," Chynoweth said.

Chynoweth was one of 52 speaking to the council last night about the Carrington shooting. In response, Champaign resident Randy Varnellas expressed concern that police policy would be changed in any way that reduced their options to act.

"I think police tonight took a real pounding to say the least, and I for one will continue to give the Champaign Police Department my full support as well as this council in any decision that you make," Varnellas told the council.

Police spokeswoman Rene Dunn declined to comment on deadly force policy at the meeting. But Councilman Mike LaDue garnered enough support from other council members to put the issue on the agenda of an upcoming study session.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 21, 2009

Citizens Demand Answers, Action after Champaign Police Shooting

It wasn't on the agenda, but the October 9th shooting death of Kiwane Carrington in a confrontation with police was the major topic at Tuesday night's Champaign City Council meeting. Council members heard some three hours of comments from a skeptical and sometimes angry public. AM 580's Jim Meadows reports.

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AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 20, 2009

Kennedy: Herman Had Been Contemplating Resignation for Weeks

The chairman of the U of I Board of Trustees says chancellor Richard Herman's decision to step down was not made overnight.

Chris Kennedy says trustees had conversations with Herman about voluntary resignation since the first meeting containing all six new trustees last month. But he says Herman and outgoing president Joseph White determined their own schedules over the past few weeks.

"I would like to say that was a part of a master plan, but in fact it really came out of Chancellor Herman and out of Joe White individually, both of whom I think really saw their life's work as protecting the best interests of the University of Illinois," Kennedy said.

Kennedy believes the transition in leadership will be orderly, even though starting Monday the U of I will not have a permanent president, chancellor or provost. He says there will be no interim chancellor, and interim president Stanley Ikenberry will handle some of the administrative duties along with interim provost Robert Easter.

Categories: Education, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 19, 2009

Community Colleges Experience a Student Boom, Especially in Danville

The community college system in Illinois has recorded its biggest enrollment increase in years, and Danville Area Community College leads the statistics.

DACC's headcount jumped by almost 32 percent this fall compared to the same time last year, to nearly 36-hundred students. More than 21 hundred of them are taking the equivalent of a full-time class load, which is a nearly 28 percent increase.

President Alice Marie Jacobs says the school is handling the student boom, in terms of both space and teachers.

"We do utilize a number of part-time faculty, many who have years of experience teaching at Danville Area Community College, so that's one way we're able to add sections," Jacons said. "We also have faculty who have been very cooperative and were willing to add extra sections to their loads."

Most community college administrators cite the sluggish economy as a factor in their strong enrollments, with many people going back to school for more job training. But Jacobs says DACC is also getting more recent high school graduates, including honor students.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 15, 2009

Hundreds Turn Out in Champaign for Vigil for Kiwane Carrington

Grief, anger, hope and resolve ... those were some of the feelings expressed Wednesday night at a candlelight vigil in memory of Kiawane Carrington, the 15-year-old Champaign youth shot to death last week in an altercation with police.

A crowd of several hundred --- overwhelmingly African-American, with a large percentage of young people --- gathered peacefully outside the house on West Vine Street where Kiwane Carrington was fatally wounded in what authorities have called an officer-involved shooting. With the investigation still ongoing and few details released, friend of the family Keesha Johnson called for unity.

"We as a community need to come together and seek justice for what happened to Kiwane Carrington," said Johnson to a round of applause.

Others who spoke at the vigil included Kiwane Carrington's father. In a quiet voice, Albert Carrington spoke to his son, "Kiwane, you know I told you I loved you, and I will still love you."

Regine Rivers, one of Kiwane Carrington's aunts, said she was at peace because Kiwane had accepted Jesus Christ as his savior before his death. "Kiwane accepted God at an early age", said Rivers. "Even though we didn't understand what he was doing, we understand now."

The gathering then walked through a light rain to New Hope Church of God in Christ a few blocks away. There, Baptist minister and State Senator James Meeks of Chicago cited the verse in Genesis, where God confronts Cain for the murder of his brother Abel with the words, "the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground".

"We're here tonight because we hear some crying", said Meeks. "And the crying is coming from the ground. And the crying is the blood of Kiwane crying from the ground to the community, saying, 'don't y'all just accept what y'all hear on face value.'"

Meeks called on young people in the audience to NOT act out their frustrations, but to stay calm in any encounter with police. He also said Champaign needs more black police officers and an independent police review board.

Meeks also serves on the board of the Reverend Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. During his address at the church, Meeks held out the possibility of Jackson coming to Champaign, saying the civil rights leader was concerned about the Carrington shooting. But whatever the involvement of Jackson and himself, Meeks called on his audience to look to local ministers and pastors for leadership.

Funeral services for Kiwane Carrington will be held Friday at 11 A.M. at Salem Baptist Church, 500 East Park Street in Champaign.


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