Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 06, 2009

ADM Begins Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Experiment

Officials at Archer Daniels Midland's massive Decatur ethanol plant are showing off an 84 million dollar project to study a way to keep more carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere.

ADM is the first of seven sites around the nation to begin the process of storing more than a million tons of CO2 deep underground rather than letting it escape into the air. Researchers point to CO2 as a key factor in global warming.

Illinois State Geological Survey director Robert Finley says the experiment is beginning with a test well dug more than a mile into the rock formations under the plant to see how well it can handle the injected gas.

"With a relatively pure source of CO2 coming from ADM's ethanol fermentation facility here in Decatur combined with excellent geology suitable for testing carbon sequestration immediately below the Decatur area and in fact throughout central Illinois, that gives us an opportunity to carry out this test here at Decatur," Finley said.

It'll be another year before ADM will actually inject large amounts of CO2. Finley believes the Illinois Basin can hold many times more carbon dioxide than ADM, the proposed FutureGen coal plant and other industries in central Illinois can produce.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 03, 2009

UI Law Professor Weighs in on Former Governor’s 19-Count Indictment

The 75-page indictment handed down Thursday against former Governor Rod Blagojevich and five co-defendants made fascinating reading for a University of Illinois law professor. Andrew Leipold is an expert on criminal law and the federal judicial process. He told AM 580's Jim Meadows that the indictment alleges a conspiracy to defraud people and extort money --- dating back to the very start of the Blagojevich administration.

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AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 02, 2009

IL Lawmakers Vote to Clean Out Pension Board Leadership

The Illinois House voted today to overhaul management of state pension boards after the scandals of the Blagojevich administration. The measure was sent to the Senate on a 116-1 vote.

The bill calls for dumping the directors of four pension funds. And it calls for stricter ethics laws for all pension boards in the state. Investment advisers would be chosen through competitive bidding.

The purge applies to the Teachers' Retirement System, the State Universities Retirement System, the State Employees Retirement System and the Illinois State Board of Investment.

The teachers pension board was involved in one of the scandals under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. A Blagojevich friend conspired with one of his board appointees to demand kickbacks from companies wanting to do business with the pension fund.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 02, 2009

What Should Be Included in a Downtown Champaign Arts District?

People in Champaign-Urbana get their chance over the next week to offer opinions about downtown Champaign's cultural offerings and how they can improve.

The cultural group known as 40 North 88 West is wants to form a cultural arts district. Its director of operations, Steven Bentz, says downtown Champaign already has lots of cultural offerings - the goal is to make downtown a destination for families, day or night. He says the public has a big say in how that arts district would look.

"Is it arts facilities? Is it more classes? Is it happenings on the street? Are people wanting to see a greater involvement from multiple groups from around Champaign County -- educational groups, cultural groups, churches? What kinds of buy-in would people like to see happen through a cultural arts district in downtown Champaign?" asked Bentz. "We're encouraging people to really dream big."

After the public comment sessions, 40 North would hire a consultant to help come up with a definitive plan for an arts district.

The public sessions began Thursday night -- others will be held next Wednesday night at at 7:00 at City Hall and Thursday at noon at the Springer Cultural Center.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 02, 2009

The Uncertain Fate of Champaign’s Art Theatre and Art Movies

The operator of Boardman's Art Theatre in Champaign is apparently looking to relocate as the building's owner looks for either a new tenant, or to sell the facility for another use.

Owner David Kraft says the rent of 4 dollars a square foot he's charging isn't near the market rate... and he can't afford to charge that little when factoring in expenses like real estate tax, water, trash, and sewer rates. Kraft says he's made operator Greg Boardman an offer of just under 9-dollars a square foot.

"If he won't pay that and no one will pay that, then I think everybody needs to look and determine if there's demand for this, if there's sufficient interest," Kraft said. "If no one is willing to pay near market rent, then maybe we do have to look at different ideas."

Kraft suggests there may not be room for a movie theater anymore when considering what other downtown businesses are paying for first floor retail space. He's looking to sell the Church Street building for just over $1 million.

Kraft says he's drawn interest for other theater operators, but nothing concrete.

Boardman's lease on the Church Street location expires in December. He couldn't be reached for comment, but the co-owner of a building across the street... Bill Capel... confirms Boardman toured his facility last month. That building houses the old Rialto Theater. Capel says any talk of moving Boardman's there would include extensive talk about renovations.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 02, 2009

Former Gov. Blagojevich Faces 19 Count Federal Indictment

A sweeping federal indictment charges former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich with scheming to auction off President Barack Obama's U.S. Senate set, pressuring a congressman for campaign money and lying to FBI agents.

The 19-count indictment against Blagojevich and others also alleges billions of dollars in state pension bonds were refinanced in exchange for the promise of a massive kickback, among other crimes.

Others indicted included the former governor's brother Robert Blagojevich, Springfield millionaire William Cellini and the governor's onetime chief fundraiser Christopher G. Kelly.

Blagojevich's former chief of staff John Harris also faces a charge in the indictment. Prosecutors say he's cooperating.

US Senator Dick Durbin's reaction to Blagojevich's indictment was short - he says he hopes the governor doesn't see the indictment as a green light for another publicity tour. He says Blagojevich deserves his day in court but the people of Illinois deserve a break. 15th District Congressman Tim Johnson of Urbana says those under indictment brought shame to the state and nation, and their prosecution is overdue.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 02, 2009

Ballot Lotteries Alter the Placement of Local Candidates

Last-minute ballot lotteries will alter the order of candidates on ballots in Urbana and Champaign.

County clerk Mark Shelden says Republican candidates will appear first on the municipal election ballots in Urbana, followed by Democrats and Green party candidates. A lottery for Champaign ballot positions went to Democrats followed by Republicans. The lotteries follow protests from two candidates for Urbana mayor that the city clerk didn't hold a ballot lottery as required by state law. A City of Champaign township supervisor candidate later found that the clerk there didn't hold a lottery either. Shelden suspended absentee and early voting while new ballots are printed - he says absentee and early voting were expected to resume today

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 02, 2009

Sagging Numbers in Illinois Economic Index

A University of Illinois economist doesn't see a bottom yet in the latest economic slowdown.

The monthly U of I Flash Index authored by Fred Giertz fell for a seventh straight month in March. It now stands at 95.6 - with any number below 100 showing economic contraction. It's been five months since the index showed growth in the Illinois economy. The Flash Index takes the state's economic pulse by examining state tax receipts for the previous month. Giertz expects further declines ahead for the index. It still hasn't reached the level seem in the last two slowdowns, in 1990 and 2001 - and Giertz believes this latest recession is deeper.

Categories: Business, Economics, Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 02, 2009

Blagojevich Indictment Imminent?

Federal prosecutors have worked for weeks to produce an indictment accusing ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich of committing an extraordinary "white-collar crime spree'' in the heart of Illinois government. Their handiwork could be seen as early as today.

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald has until Tuesday to get an indictment that would replace a complaint charging the former governor.

Blagojevich is accused of plotting to trade or sell President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat and a host of other crimes.

Today is believed to be the last day the grand jury meets before the deadline, although the government never announces the time and place of grand jury meetings.

Fitzgerald could ask Chief Judge James F. Holderman of U.S. District Court for another deadline extension.

Categories: Criminal Justice, Politics
Tags: crime, politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 02, 2009

Voters Mull Over a 1% Sales Tax for Schools

Voters in Champaign County will have the future of education funding in their hands when they hit the polls next Tuesday. At issue is a referendum to raise the county sales tax by a penny per dollar. The money would fund school building projects, pare down debt and potentially lower property taxes. As AM 580's Tom Rogers reports, after one failed attempt, the referendum's supporters are taking nothing for granted.

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