August 31 was the last day of production at the three Collins and Aikman auto parts plants in Rantoul. If anyone returns to work at the buildings, it will be for a different company that might move in. AM 580's Jeff Bossert spoke to a few of the 500 employees about their final week of work and their prospects for the future.
Illinois Public Media News
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich says he will veto a portion of the state budget approved by lawmakers, and redirect those funds to universal health care. Former Republican state lawmaker Rick Winkel (left) says he sides with those who question the legality of that move. AM 580's Jeff Bossert spoke with Winkel about what could occur before lawmakers conclude the longest overtime session in state history. Winkel is now a senior fellow with the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs and an adjunct professor in the College of Law.
Candidates for the Champaign Unit 4 School Board answered questions about the federal consent decree, No Child Left Behind and the police presence in middle and high schools during a PTA forum before the March 17 election. But one question that wasn't asked was how the candidates felt about the administration of Superintendent Arthur Culver. AM 580's Jim Meadows posed that question after the forum was over, and seven candidates gave their answers.
The recent decision to ban smoking in Champaign bars and restaurants could play the most publicized role in who wins in next week's city council election. But there are other issues that could influence Tuesday's vote for three at-large council members. AM 580's Jeff Bossert looks at the issue of growth in southwest Champaign (left: Curtis Road interchange, with Barkstall School in the background) and the approach each candidate wants to take.
Illinois' largest teachers' union has lined up behind Governor Rod Blagojevich's proposal to launch a new business tax to boost funding for education and health care. But the Illinois Education Association's president says that does not mean the union is opposed to an alternative plan that the governor opposes - a plan that would raise the state's income tax while lowering local property taxes. As AM 580's Tom Rogers reports, all IEA president Ken Swanson (left) wants to see is the end of what he calls chronic state underfunding.
For the last year and a half, a planning process called "big.small.all" has been bringing Champaign County residents together to talk about their dreams and goals for the county's future. Those dreams and goals have been presented back to the county in the form of a report called "our future.here." Now, organizers say the next step is to turn some of those dreams into reality. AM 580's Jim Meadows reports.
The new Champaign County Nursing Home opens February 28th. But building a new nursing home was just part of the challenge. County officials now need to figure out how to operate the facility without losing money. The Champaign County Board is studying that issue, meeting with a consultant hired to show how the nursing home can save money -- and make money -- while still serving county residents. AM 580's Jim Meadows reports.
Champaign now joins Urbana in banning smoking in restaurants and bars. Bar owners and customers have been the most vocal opponents of the ban. AM 580's Jim Meadows talked to people at a Champaign bar as they enjoyed their last legal evening of smoking while drinking.
A University of Illinois economics professor says the winner of presidential elections in Ecuador fits the trend toward the left in Latin America. Werner Baer was Rafael Correa's advisor when the 43-year old former finance minister (at left) gained his doctorate from the U of I in 2001. Baer spoke with AM 580's Tom Rogers - he stresses that Correa is not necessarily in the mold of the most well-known of those new leaders, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.
Society is still trying to figure out what place the Internet has in our political life. In eastern Illinois, candidates and political watchers are taking to weblogs, either to get their messages out or to hear what like-minded or opposite-minded people have to say. But is the buzz from blogs percolating out into the general public? And do they add to the political discourse or lower it? AM 580's Tom Rogers takes a look.