Illinois Public Media News
U.S. Census figures show Hispanics are now Illinois' largest minority group, outnumbering African Americans. But not all communities are welcoming the trend, according to a professor a the University of Illinois.
Hispanics now make up nearly 16 percent of the state's population, an increase of nearly 500,000 people from a decade ago. The shift in demographics has put an emphasis on immigration issues such as housing and educational opportunities for Latinos and Latinas.
Jorge Chapa teaches Government and Public Affairs at the U of I, and he also co-authored the book "Apple Pie and Enchiladas: Latino Newcomers in the Rural Midwest."
"They are growing much more quickly than the capacity and the knowledge and how to serve them," Chapa said.
Chapa said very few Hispanics serve on local school boards or in other administrative roles. He said there are also communication barriers in medical care and schools. In addition to growth in Chicago and the collar counties, Illinois' Cass County has seen an influx in Latinos since the last census.
A trade mission by Indiana government and business leaders to Japan is being delayed because of a typhoon expected to hit the island nation.
The group led by Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman was set to fly from Indianapolis on Tuesday and arrive in Tokyo Wednesday evening. The typhoon is forecast to make landfall Wednesday afternoon.
Skillman's office says travel agents are working to find later flights for the trade group.
The group plans to visit Ohta City, Nagoya and Tochigi Prefecture, Indiana's sister state.
Representatives from the Indiana Economic Development Corp., Duke Energy and regional economic development groups are part of the delegation. Japanese companies employ more than 38,000 people in Indiana.
In Chicago on Monday to plug his new book, former Vice President Dick Cheney had some careful criticism about U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald served as special prosecutor investigating a leak during the Bush Administration. He ended up charging Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, with perjury and obstruction of justice.
At the Union League Club of Chicago, Cheney was asked if he had anything to say to Fitzgerald, whose offices were just a block away. The vice president paused for nine seconds.
"I obviously had some fundamental disagreements with him at one point in the past," Cheney said.
Cheney called Scooter Libby a "very good man" who served his country well.
"For his trouble, he ended up the target of a particular prosecution," Cheney said. "He did not deserve what happened to him."
Also during his hour-long appearance in front of more than 400 people, Cheney defended interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects. And he declined to say whether he thought President George H.W. Bush or George W. Bush was the better president.
(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
The city of Urbana has a new three-year contract with its police union.
The contract with the Fraternal Order of Police provides raises of 1, 3, and 3 percent over the term of the deal, which is retroactive to July of 2010.
The council unanimously passed the agreement, but Alderman Brandon Bowersox called his yes vote a begrudging one that he's making because of state law, which requires binding arbitration.
Bowersox said the officers do a great job, but Urbana can't afford any raises right now. He said he fears any further ones would come from property taxes.
"It's disappointing, but our only choice is to move ahead with this, and to give this one unit of the city raises when others don't get raises, despite the fact that we can't afford it," Bowersox said.
The city started a 1 percent tax on packaged liquor, raised the hotel-motel tax from 5-to-6 percent, and it cut funding to Champaign County's Convention and Visitors Bureau in order to pay its police officers.
Urbana Police Chief Patrick Connolly said there was give and take on both sides of the three year contract, and the best outcome the union could have asked for.
"There was give and take on both sides," Connolly said. "The city was certainly in financial dire straits, and the city was very generous in recognizing there were certain needs that had to be met on the part of contractual issues, legal issues."
Mayor Laurel Prussing also touted the police department's recent efforts, citing a report of decreased crime in Southeast Urbana.
There will be a new Circuit Court Clerk in Champaign County in 2013.
Linda Frank has not only announced her retirement from the office after next year, but is endorsing former Republican state legislator Rick Winkel for the job. Since leaving the legislature in 2007, he has been a faculty member with the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs.
Winkel said he likes public service more, and wants to use his experience as an attorney and legislator to operate the clerk's office during tight financial times.
"Along the way, I've learned quite a lot about technology, and how to apply it to government solutions," Winkel said. "This is like every place. County government is having a budget problem, and it's revenues are down, having to cut back on expenditures. We're going to have to figure out new and innovative ways to use technology to become much more efficient and effective."
Winkel served in the Illinois House from 1995 to 2003, and in the Senate from 2003 to 2007. Frank will have been in office 21 years at the end of next year. Frank decided to retire about a week ago. She said one of her main goals has been realized - operating a paperless courthouse:
"Now all the files have been digitally scanned," Frank said. "We have the option of sending those to the courtroom now. It will be up to the judges to decide now whether they want to pursue that or not. But it is available."
Winkel said he expects to have primary competition. Republican Champaign County Board member Stephanie Holderfield announced plans earlier this year to run for circuit clerk. Frank said she isn't sure of her plans after leaving office, but says there are 'endless possibilities' for her at the end of 2012.
The state of Indiana is asking families of those killed or injured in a deadly stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair to complete a new customized claim form by Nov. 1 so the state can expedite settlements.
The attorney general's office said Monday the new form is available online at the agency's website and by calling 1-800-760-4616.
The form allows victims to apply for payments from the Indiana Tort Claim Fund. As of Monday, the agency said 21 claims had been filed against the $5 million fund.
The agency says claims can still be filed after Nov. 1, but the funds will likely be exhausted.
Seven people died and more than 40 were injured as a result of the Aug. 13 accident.
The claim form can be downloaded at http://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2849.htm
The Cook County Clerk's Office is trying to raise revenue by selling commemorative marriage certificates.
If the county board votes to pass the new fees this week, Chicago residents will be able to buy a large-scale, 10"x12" version of their marriage certificate meant for framing or scrap booking.
"It's a new product entirely that really has a lot of potential," Clerk's office spokeswoman Courtney Greve said. "Because our customers are not obligated to buy it, we really think that it'll be very marketable."
Greve said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle had tasked the Clerk's office with finding new, creative methods of raising revenue. The office was inspired by states like Alaska, Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Iowa, and Florida, all of which have similar programs.
Cook County reportedly has almost five million marriage records. In order to break even on costs, the clerk's office would need to sell 75-to-100 licenses at $65 apiece. The office will have to buy a new printer for the specialty archival linen paper. A basic marriage certificate in the county costs $15.
Champaign County to Discuss Publicizing Restaurant Inspections
A Champaign County Board member says he will push for a new rule requiring restaurants in the county to post their health inspection scores.
University of Illinois officials say its College of Law has posted corrected student profile information online.
Urbana-Champaign campus officials say the corrected median entrance exam scores and median undergraduate grade point averages for the class of 2014 were posted Monday. College of Law admissions dean Paul Pless was placed on leave earlier this month and an investigation was started into whether the school previously posted inflated test scores and grades.
School officials say the inquiry into the posting of the original data continues. Urbana-Champaign campus provost Richard Wheeler says the law school "sincerely regrets'' the original inaccuracy. Wheeler says the investigation's findings will be shared when it is completed.
The snapshot data of law school students are often used to attract future students, among other things.
A retired school administrator from Litchfield is latest to consider a run for Congress in Illinois' re-drawn 13th District.
Democrat James Gray, who has over 30 years in education, says he'll appeal to voters since he's not a politician. Gray says he's become frustrated with 'politics as usual' in places like Wisconsin, where collective bargaining rights have been limited.
"It gives the individual some power and some authority at the table," said Gray. "It's the only way you can garner enough energy and power to gain a better standard of living. And when the standard goes up, the standard of the whole country goes up. It floats all the boats up."
But Gray says the hardships experiences by his 85-year old mother convinced him to become involved in the race.
"She's sitting there at the table when that debt refinancing was going on, and wondering if her next check was going to come in, and whether she could buy food or her drugs" he said. "It's just unbelievable. It's almost like they would would throw people out into the street."
Gray says the wealthy and Fortune 500 companies and are paying far too little of federal revenues today. He also pledges to serve no more than four terms if elected, saying the seniority system in Congress is giving undue power to a handful of people.
Gray says he'll know for sure by late this month if he's running, as he collects signatures on his campaign petitions. He admits if former state legislator Jay Hoffman decides to run, he'll be tough to beat for the Democratic nomination. Bloomington physician David Gill has already entered the race, and Greene County State's Attorney Matt Goetten is also considering a run.
The winner would likely face Urbana Republican Tim Johnson, but he's facing Springfield truck driver Sam Spradlin in the March primary.
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