Illinois Public Media News
A Web site detailing Ilinois' financial outlook is now up and running. Governor Pat Quinn's office unveiled the site Wednesday.
The Website, budget.illinois.gov, opens with a video from the Governor's budget director ... David Vaught, who asks viewers, "Would you cut money from education and give more to health care? Or would reduce spending to both and spend more on road construction? Would you raise taxes? And by how much?"
Commenters can answer those questions ... or give other suggestions ... in a public comment section.
Vaught says within the first two hours ... about 250 people had done so. That's despite criticism that the graphs and figures don't make it easy enough for the average person to understand.
The site doesn't get into much detail about what the governor is planning. That will come March 10th, when Quinn gives his annual budget address.
But what it does include is telling. A reading of one table shows that the governor will suggest cutting more than two billion dollars in the next budget. Education ... from kindergarten to universities ... will have funding reduced, as well as public safety, economic development, and human services.
Vaught says it's dire, but realistic ... and says it still leaves Illinois with an 11 and a half billion dollars deficit.
Vaught says cuts will occur with or without a tax increase.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that the head of an Urbana company plans to buy the majority share of the St. Louis Rams.
Shahid Khan is the president of auto parts maker Flex-n-Gate and a University of Illinois engineering graduate. The newspaper quotes several NFL sources saying current Rams majority owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez, the children of former owner Georgia Frontiere, plan to sell their 60 percent interest to Khan. The remainder of the football franchise is owned by Stan Kroenke. The newspaper's sources say Khan intends to keep the Rams in St. Louis.
It's still unclear whether coaches like Bruce Weber, Ron Zook and other athletic staff would have to take mandated furlough days announced by the University of Illinois last week.
Intercollegiate Athletics spokesman Kent Brown says Athletic Director Ron Guenther is working with the department's legal counsel to quickly find an answer. Coaches may be exempt since their contracted salaries aren't paid with state funds, relying instead on ticket sales, corporate sponsors, donations, and media rights. But Brown says Guenther and the coaches under him are ready to honor whatever's decided.
"Ron's understanding is we would follow along with the furlough program as it's stated," says Brown. "The only question so far has been how does that affect some of the guaranteed contracts that are a little differently written than the normal academic professional contract." Brown says time is of the essence for basketball coach Bruce Weber, who's either coaching or recruiting seven days a week right now. But Weber said after a recent game that he would participate in the furloughs. Football Coach Ron Zook has been out of town and hasn't commented on the policy.
If the coaches did have to take furlough days, Brown says the amount of money given back to the U of I would be based on their base salaries of around $400,000, not the promotional appearances and other events that allow them to earn around $1.5 million a year.
A Saturday memorial service has been planned for an Eastern Illinois University football coach killed in a traffic accident, while his wife and one of his children remain hospitalized.
University officials say the service for assistant coach Jeff Hoover will be held in the student union at 2:30 Saturday afternoon.
Hoover died Saturday night while he, another coach and their families drove back from a football game in Carbondale. Officials say the vehicle they were in swerved to avoid a deer and rolled over.
The university says Hoover's wife, Penny, and one of their two children are in fair condition at Urbana's Carle Foundation Hospital. The Hoovers' other child and three other people in the vehicle are all out of the hospital.
A University of Illinois football player has been charged with two counts of aggravated battery after a bar fight that authorities say sent another man to the hospital.
Nineteen-year-old Mike Garrity of Batavia has pleaded not guilty after the fight at 1:55 a.m. Friday at Kam's, near campus.
Police say women at the bar told Garrity the unidentified man harassed them.
Champaign County prosecutor Julia Rietz says Garrity punched him, fracturing the man's skull. Rietz says the man is a university student and remained hospitalized Monday.
Garrity's attorney, Dan Pope, says he hasn't yet talked to his client.
Garrity is a 6-6, 310-pound sophomore lineman who has never played. A team spokeswoman says he's now suspended.
The campus senate at the University of Illinois at Springfield is calling for an outside investigation of the school's athletic program, after incidents which led to the resignation of three coaches last month. But the campus senate is holding off on a vote expressing no confidence in the university's chancellor.
The university is already conducting an internal investigation into the controversy, which prompted the school to call the women's softball team back from a trip to Florida, but officials have declined to discuss details.
Today, the campus senate, which includes faculty, staff and students, passed a resolution to conduct a separate independent investigation. They were also scheduled to consider a vote expressing no confidence in Chancellor Richard Ringeisen.
Before the vote, the senate removed all mention of Athletic Director Rodger Jehlicka from the discussions and is delaying a no confidence vote for Ringeisen until the external investigation is completed. Ringeisen says the school must address concerns about the controversy, but he says he can't elaborate on what happened.
"If you think that a chancellor enjoys not being able to share details with people so that the accusations will stop, you're wrong," Ringeisen said
Ringeisen says if he did reveal details of the incident, he would be risking a lawsuit. The campus senate hopes to have the results of the independent investigation by the fall.
Police in Champaign and Urbana are preparing for more than nine thousand runners, many of whom will take a 26 mile tour around the two cities Saturday morning.
The first-ever Illinois Marathon will require patience from drivers as runners hit the city streets. Champaign police sergeant Scott Friedlein says on many parts of the course runners and vehicles will share the roads, so motorists will have to take extra precautions or find alternate routes.
"When you mix runners and traffic, you run a risk of situations occurring," Friedlein said. "The better we do at marking and making it very clear where people are supposed to be -- and we're working on that diligently on that as we speak -- then the safer the route becomes."
Friedlein says some streets will also be totally closed at times, and no-parking signs are going up along the marathon routes in both Champaign and Urbana. He calls it the largest event he's ever had to prepare for in his 15 years on the force because of the long route and hundreds of volunteers.
Spring break at Champaign Centennial High School is especially sweet for the boys basketball team. The Centennial Chargers and Coach Tim Lavin are enjoying a vacation following their 61 to 59 win over the Oswego Panthers Saturday, to win the Illinois Class 3A Championship. I
Centennial Junior Forward Rayvonte Rice had 21 points, including the two winning free throws in the waning seconds of the game.
The team returned home from Peoria Saturday night to a rally at the Centennial gym.
Saturday's victory earned the Centennial Chargers their first state crown. The Chargers last saw state playoff action in 1984, when they lost the Class AA quarterfinal to Aurora (West), 73-44.
The Champaign Cenntennial Chargers will face the Oswego Panthers Saturday at 12:45 PM at Peoria's Carver Arena, for the Illinois Boys High School Basketball Class 3A Championship.
Rayvonte Rice scored 22 points, including two after an offensive rebound with two seconds left, to lead the chargers to a 66-65 win over defending 2A state champs Chicago North Lawndale in the first of Friday's Boys 3A semifinals.
Senior guard James Kinney also had 22 points for Champaign Centennial.
North Lawndale started the game with a technical foul for a uniform violation. An Illinois High School Athletics Association official said the stripe on the Phoenix's uniform was too long.
North Lawndale was led by senior forward Jonathan Mills' 16 points and 15 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Oswego Panthers defeated Chicago Leo 56 to 55 in their Class 3A semifinal match on Friday. Oswego's win came with senior guard Jordan Mitchell's 3-pointer at the buzzer.
It didn't take long for organizers of the first-ever Illinois Marathon to find the volunteers they needed.
The marathon will be held on the streets of Champaign, Urbana and the U of I campus on the day before Easter. But local police said organizers needed to show by April 1st that they had 350 volunteers ready to help with traffic control, if they wanted to keep their special-events permits.
Marathon volunteer coordinator Mary Anderson says they issued the call for help on Monday, and by Tuesday night, they had enough volunteers signed up to ensure the race will take place. She says they're grateful for the response, but they could still use even more volunteers. Anderson says nearly 8-thousand runners have signed up for the Illinois Marathon and its related races --- and they'll need a total of 2-thousand volunteers. Volunteers will help staff the marathon and related events on Friday and Saturday, April 10th and 11th.
To volunteer to help on the Illinois Marathon, go to their website, www.illinoismarathon.com, and click on the volunteer link.
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