Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 22, 2010

New Law Requires More Information from Pet Shops and Shelters

A bill that requires pet stores and animal shelters to disclose the health history a dog or cat has been signed into law.

Under the new law, pet shops, animal shelters and control facilities will also have to disclose other information. That includes the name and address of the breeder, retail price, adoption fees and vaccinations, among other things.

Currently, those details are only disclosed if it's requested and often times that means a consumer won't get the information until after a final sale.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill on Sunday. He says the information will help protect consumers before they buy a pet.

The law goes into effect next year.

Categories: Business, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 22, 2010

School to Resume in Mahomet, but Strike Animosity May Linger

Teachers and students in the Mahomet Seymour district will put the start of their school year back in order.

A two-day strike that ended Friday postponed the first shortened day of the year. Now, students will return to class on Monday, which is the first shortened day of class. The school board and the teachers' union rank-and-file will vote Monday night on the one year tentative contract that put a short but bitter work stoppage to an end.

Mahomet Seymour Superintendent Keith Oates said it will not take much to get back on schedule - in fact, the district is using two allotted emergency days in the school calendar to account for the strike. But Oates said fixing the animosity in the community after the strike will be tougher.

"Obviously human nature is going to demand that it's a little bit different for a little while," Oates said. "And I think we all know that when an organization goes through something such as a strike it's going to take a period of time, depending on different folks, to work its way back to normal, I'm sure."

Oates said he plans to keep a regular schedule of visiting schools in the district and checking in on teachers. Joan Jordan head, of the Mahomet Seymour Education Association, said negotiations were contentious but -- for her - that is over, and she expects the strike to be a distant memory once kids return to school.

Categories: Education, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - August 20, 2010

Raising Awareness About Devastating Flood in Pakistan

The devastation caused by the flooding in Pakistan is clear - 20 million people affected. That is more than the combined populations of Illinois and Indiana. Reports put the dead at 1,600. Asma Faiz is a doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois. Faiz recently returned from Islamabad, and she spoke to Illinois Public Media's Celeste Quinn about the importance of raising awareness and support for the country.

(Photo by Sean Powers/WILL)

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Categories: Environment, Health, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 20, 2010

Feathers Ruffled by Quinn’s Stance Against Building the Lower Manhattan Mosque

Gov. Pat Quinn is sticking by his opposition to building a mosque near ground zero in New York despite criticism from a local immigrant rights group.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights on Friday called on candidates and elected officials to "stop injecting hate in the debate.''

Quinn said Friday he honors the patriotism of Muslim citizens but believes a group should rethink building a Muslim center and mosque near the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Quinn says there should be a "zone of solemnity'' around the site. He says any place of worship that takes away from the solemnity of ground zero should rethink their location.

He called his position "a matter of conscience.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 20, 2010

Mahomet Seymour Strike Ends with a Tentative Contract Agreement

Teachers in the Mahomet Seymour schools will be back in their classrooms on Monday as a two-day strike ends with a tentative contract agreement.

The chief negotiator for the Mahomet Seymour Education Association, Linda Meachum, said school board negotiators offered a compromise Friday afternoon that led to the breakthrough. Meachum said teachers will receive 2.6% pay raise this school year. She said support staff and teacher's aides will get 3.5%.

But the two sides will have to negotiate again next year because the tentative contract is only for one year. Meachum said she believes that's important for both the district and the union.

"At least this way we know what we can live with for one year, and the board can begin to strategically plan for the future," Meachum said shortly after negotiations wrapped up. "We know that some (federal) stimulus money is coming in to the district, and we'll have a better idea of what our fund balance is going to be." Meachum also noted that the state's now-delayed payment schedule to schools might be clearer in a year.

Terry Greene, the president of the Mahomet Seymour school board, says the district had lobbied against a two-year contract but let go of that requirement as union bargainers compromised.

"They agreed to a one-year deal that we thought was responsible and fiscally fair," Greene said. "We want our kids back in school. Usually if you make a deal in which both sides are are a little unhappy it's probably the right deal, and that's just about what happened." But Greene still contends that the deal could have been sealed much earlier in the bargaining process.

Meachum said a ratification vote for the union's 260 members is set for Monday afternoon, after the first day back in class. The school board will cast its vote later that evening.

Categories: Economics, Education, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 20, 2010

U.S. Transportation Official Says U of I Will Be an Integral Part of High-Speed Rail

A US transportation administrator says research being done at the University of Illinois to boost innovations like high-speed rail may be one of the country's best kept secrets.

Peter Appel concluded a visit to campus with a tour of the ATREL facility in Rantoul. The site conducts various tests to prepare areas like Central Illinois for high-speed rail, and looks at different mixes of concrete and soil to see how they'll handle the weight of newer airplanes on runways. The facility testing equipment can even detect sinkholes in the earth's surface. Appel says railway engineering has been disappearing from a lot of institutions, calling the U of I an exception.

"The University of Illinois is advancing railway engineering more than any university in the nation," said Appel, who says the Obama administration's $8-billion investment in high speed rail includes replacing wood railroad ties with concrete. "As you pick the speeds up from 70 miles an hour to 80 miles an hour to 150 miles an hour, you need a lot more precision in the rail operations. Using, for example, concrete ties, helps drive that higher precision and ability for faster speeds. So that's the kind of developments that they're advancing here."

Appel says the U of I recognizes its role in advancing technology in high-speed rail, and that faculty in Urbana have been training professors elsewhere to teach courses in that area.

Categories: Education, Transportation

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 20, 2010

Power Restored at Parkland College

The electricity went back on at Parkland College in Champaign Friday afternoon, after a more than 12 hour outage to part of the campus that included its computer network. But a college spokesperson says they don't expect to have many computer-based services for students ready until Saturday.

Parkland spokesperson Patty Lane says a short in some underground wiring knocked out electricity for the college's computer network shortly after midnight Thursday night. With power restored, Lane says work is still underway to get the computer system up and running.

"Currently though", says Lane, "we have no student services for the main areas of Financial Aid and Student Life, and Admissions and Records and Advising, as well as Assessment."

It was a bad time for a power failure at Parkland, as students are preparing for classes that begin on Monday. Lane says they hope to have Registration and other student services available Saturday, perhaps with expanded hours. She says updates will be available at the Parkland College website, as well as its Facebook and Twitter pages ---- and at Parkland's main phone number, at 217-351-2200.

Categories: Education
Tags: education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 19, 2010

Little Agreement on the Final Cost of the Blagojevich Trial

Estimates about the total cost of the just concluded trial of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich range wildly from several million to $30 million.

There's now at least confirmation of what the jury cost for nearly two months of trial and 14 days of deliberation. The bill? $67,463.32. The U.S. District Court clerk's office provided that figure Thursday.

Jurors returned a sole guilty verdict _ lying to the FBI. They deadlocked on 23 counts.

The jurors' bill includes costs for food and travel. And it includes pay -- jurors got $40 a day the first month, then $50 after that.

Prosecutors don't calculate costs of individual cases, so the trial's full cost may never be known. But prosecutors plan to retry Blagojevich on undecided counts, so that tab may have to be paid again.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 19, 2010

As School Starts, UI Administrators and Employees Grapple with Money Issues

Labor unrest is affecting higher education, including University of Illinois campuses in Urbana and Chicago

Members of one UIUC union rallied Thursday outside a residence hall just as freshmen are moving in for their first semester. Ricky Baldwin is an organizer for the Service Employees International Union, which represents about 1000 employees. He claims that administrative cost increases are taking place while union members have seen their pay stagnate.

"The money that the University is spending on all kinds of things at the top shows us that the university does have money," said Baldwin "It just doesn't want to spend it on the basic operations -- the students, the workers, the instruction at the university."

The SEIU and the U of I are in contract talks... but members say they are not close to striking in Urbana. That cannot be said in Chicago, where about 3000 SEIU employees are threatening a Monday walkout.

At another hall complex Thursday, U of I president Michael Hogan and chancellor Robert Easter met incoming students. During the visit, Hogan said the university faces the prospect of more budget cuts and state payment delays, making salary increases even harder to achieve.

"We've just taken another 46 million dollar reduction in our budget, so that's the subject of ongoing negotiations, and I certainly hope we can reach a settlement," Hogan said. He says it's unlikely the school will see any of its current-year funding from Springfield until next January at the earliest. He says he's been assured that all of the U of I's fiscal-2010 funds will be in their hands in the next few months.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 19, 2010

Former Urbana Track Coach Back in US, Turned Over to Corrections Authorities

A former Urbana high school coach convicted of a sex crime is back in the US, and will start serving a prison sentence.

But the attorney for Yuri Ermakov Thursday filed a post-conviction petition with hopes his client will get a new trial. The 28-year old Ermakov fled to his native Russia while a Champaign County jury deliberated his fate in 2007.

The former University Laboratory High School track coach was found guilty of criminal sexual assault for incidents involving a female student, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He was also convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for providing alcohol to two 16-year old girls. After a brief court hearing Thursday morning, Ermakov was remanded to Illinois' Department of Corrections.

Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz says Ermakov was up against Friday's deadline for filing the post-conviction petition. She says Judge Jeff Ford has a three-month window to act on it.

"The judge could say that all of the allegations in his petitions are frivolous - petition dismissed, and that's the end of the case." said Rietz. "The judge could say that some of the allegations deserve further inquiry, and then we have time to respond. Or judge could say the entire petition deserves further inquiry. We do not believe any of those allegations have any merit, and are absolutely confident that the judge is going to find all of them, if not the vast majority of them, frivilous."

Rietz notes that a federal warrant was out for Erkmaov that preventing him from travelling outside of Russia, which may have been part of his motivation for returning home to serve his sentence.

Judge Ford denied a request from Chicago Attorney Steve Richards that his client remain in Champaign County's custody in order to stay in closer contact with him. Ford says such a move would prove too costly. The FBI had been negotiating for Ermakov's return from Russia the past several months. Rietz says he's also seeking clemency from Governor Pat Quinn as part of a large backlog of cases before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.


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