Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 27, 2009

UI Senate Leaders Call For White, Herman to be Replaced

Leaders of the University of Illinois' faculty want the school's president and the chancellor of its flagship campus replaced in the wake of an admissions scandal.

But the faculty's Senate Executive committee said Thursday that it would be best if President Joseph White and Chancellor Richard Herman don't get fired or quit immediately.

Faculty leaders instead called for an "orderly transition'' to new leadership. They didn't recommend a timeline.

White has said they won't step down. And in a statement this morning, Herman said he'll remain in his job as long as possible.

The two answer to the university's board of trustees. Some members say they plan to start reviewing the two school leaders' performance.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 27, 2009

Wanted: Someone to Run a Closed State Park Resort

The state of Illinois has another lodging facility on its hands, and it's trying to find a buyer.

The state already owns one hotel in which it had invested money, and last year it unloaded a second. The latest possession is a property on state park land. The firm that held the concession for the Eagle Creek Resort and Conference Center near Shelbyville had fallen into receivership, and last month the receiver asked that it be closed. Today the state began asking for bids to revive the sprawling resort.

Tom Flattery is a planner with the state Department of Natural Resources. He says the closure has come at a bad time for the resort industry, so finding an operator may be tough.

Flattery says the Eagle Creek Resort had deteriorated over time, so he estimates that it could take 1.5 million dollars to restore it. In the meantime, the DNR is keeping the resort mothballed, spending about 50 thousand dollars a year to provide security and maintain the 18-hole golf course.

Bids for running the resort are due by mid-November.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 27, 2009

Quinn Appoints Two New U of I Trustees, Lets Two Others Stay

Governor Pat Quinn has started making fresh appointments to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

That's after most members resigned in the wake of an admissions scandal.

Quinn says he wants to replace the seven trustees who've resigned in the next week and a-half.

On Wednesday, he announced two new appointments: those of Merchandise Mart CEO Chris Kennedy, and Lawrence Oliver, an attorney for the Boeing Company.

Quinn says the board's first item of business will be dealing with U of I President B. Joseph White and Urbana Campus Chancellor Richard Herman, who were key players in the scandal.

"I think they have a lot of explainin' to do", says Quinn. "But I don't want to prejudge things until the full board that I appoint has an opportunity to review this report, listen to the various individuals involved, and come to a reasoned decision."

The report issued by a state panel recommended all nine trustees step down.

Two trustees, Frances Carroll and James Montgomery, have refused... But Quinn says he's allowing them to stay on to avoid a protracted legal fight.

"You can be as legalistic as you want," explained the governor. "I do not think that having a legal battle with two trustees who refuse to resign is the central focus of our work."

Quinn says that would be a "sideshow" that could detract from the U of I's fundraising and faculty recruiting.

Trustee Montgomery congratulated Quinn for not firing him. But Quinn was criticized by others for his handling of the situation.

Illinois Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno said the situation was still unresolved because some trustees were staying on.

Quinn's Democratic primary challenger, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, accused the governor of failing to lead.

The governor says, in the next week or so, he plans to finish appointing replacements for trustees who've already offered to step down.

--- Additional reporting from The Associated Press

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 26, 2009

Quinn to Name Christopher Kennedy to UI Trustee Post

Gov. Pat Quinn will appoint a son of the late Robert F. Kennedy to the University of Illinois board of trustees.

Quinn's office confirmed Chicago businessman Christopher Kennedy's appointment in advance of a Wednesday afternoon news conference where Quinn is expected to announce more changes to the board. Christopher Kennedy is the nephew of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who died Wednesday.

It's been nearly three weeks since a state panel Quinn appointed recommended that all the trustees should go after an investigation into how clout influenced admission decisions at the school.

Seven trustees have offered to resign, but trustees James Montgomery and Frances Carroll are refusing to step down. They say they've done nothing wrong.

Watch for updates Wednesday afternoon.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 26, 2009

Government Inspector General to Run for Senate

The top watchdog in Chicago city government is quitting to run for the U.S. Senate.

The Chicago Inspector General's Office said Wednesday that David Hoffman had resigned to run for President Barack Obama's old Senate seat.

Democrat Roland Burris currently holds the seat but isn't running for a full term.

Hoffman will join a Democratic primary field that already includes state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson has said she plans to run too, but she won't formally announce her candidacy until next month. Hoffman has been in the spotlight recently. He criticized Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's deal to lease city parking meters. And he served on a commission Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn appointed to recommend ways to clean up state government in the wake of the scandals surrounding former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 26, 2009

Critics Ask Governor to Investigate Human Rights Complaints at Tamms Prison

Illinois state lawmakers are joining legal experts, clergy and mental health officials in pressing Gov. Pat Quinn to address what they call a human rights crisis at the state's only supermax prison.

The group has sent a letter to the governor, urging him to intervene in the operation of the Tamms Correctional Center in Alexander County.

Critics say that's where some inmates have been held in solitary confinement for more than 10 years.

The letter asks Quinn to sign an executive order that stops the placement of mentally ill prisoners at Tamms, bans long-term solitary confinement unless an inmate is deemed a threat and sets up oversight.

The state's new corrections chief, Michael Randle, is reviewing Tamms' policies at Quinn's request.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - August 26, 2009

WILL Connect: The Economy, Meeting Those Who Asked for Help

Organizations that help the poor in east-central Illinois are giving out more and more assistance. But there may be many people who for some reason or another have not made that call for help. In the latest of our series of stories in connection with the outreach project "WILL Connect: The Economy," AM 580's Tom Rogers introduces us to people who decided to make the leap and reach out for aid, and people who encourage others to do so.

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Categories: Biography, Economics, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 26, 2009

Quinn Says He’ll Take Action Wednesday Against Holdout U of I Trustees

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn say's he'll take action Wednesday regarding two University of Illinois trustees refusing to step down. The school is embroiled in a controversy over admissions practices.

Quinn had said he wanted all U of I trustees to resign by the start of the school year. On Monday, that deadline came and went, but two trustees - Drs. James Montgomery and Frances Carroll still haven't submitted their letters of resignation.

Quinn has hinted that he'd fire the trustees if they don't step down. But both say they'll fight any attempt to remove them from the board. They say they didn't do anything wrong, regarding the admissions scandal that's engulfed the school. And they say that means the governor has no grounds to fire them. Both holdout trustees are prominent members of the African-American community, and they've gotten some high-profile backing.

Despite Quinn's threats, he won't say what his plan of action will be.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 26, 2009

St. Rep. Black Confirms He Will Not Run in 2010

State Representative Bill Black says he will not seek another term in the Illinois House. The Danville Republican says he's making the announcement now, to give potential candidates time to prepare for the Illinois primary in February.

Black is longtime member of the Republican leadership team in the Illinois House. He's a Deputy Republican leader in the chamber, and GOP spokesman for the House Rules Committee. But he says he's gotten the most satisfaction as a legislator out of the bread-and-butter accomplishments that may seem mundane --- but are important to many people in the 104th House District.

"Are the state routes paved, are the bridges in good shape? Have we been able to upgrade water and sewer projects and school construction?" says Black. "And in all of those, I think we've been reasonably successful. I haven't gotten everything done that I've wanted to do. But I can look anybody in the eye, and say, I've tried. I've tried my very best."

Black first announced his retirement two years ago, but changed his mind and won re-election in 2008, after the Republican nominee for his seat, Scott Eisenhauer, withdrew. Black says that was a fluke, and he's confident that a strong Republican candidate will stay in the race for 2010.

Meanwhile, Black says he will resign his House seat early --- if Governor Quinn decides to appoint him to serve on the University Of Illinois Board Of Trustees. Black is a U of I alumnus, and says serving as a trustee would provide "a different set of challenges" for him.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 25, 2009

Report Cites Spike in Atrazine Level in Danville Water, Utility Disagrees

The water utility for the city of Danville takes issue with an advocacy group's report that consumers may be subject to higher-than-allowable traces of a farm chemical.

The report from the Natural Resources Defense Council cited government figures suggesting Danville's water supply had exceeded standards for the herbicide atrazine.

But Kevin Culver, a compliance officer with Aqua Illinois, says the NRDC's numbers are from 2004, and since then, recent EPA tests found no detectable levels of atrazine. However, Culver says atrazine is a concern since Danville's drinking water source, Lake Vermilion, includes lots of farm runoff. He says the utility filters out the chemical with a simple process.

"It's actually the same component in your home water systems that they say to use, and one of the recommendations is activated carbon to remove it at home," Culver said. So it's the same type stuff, although we use a lot more of it during the growing season."

Chemicals like atrazine have been linked to birth defects and hormone disruptions in animals, though the federal Centers for Disease Control has not found the same effects on humans.


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