Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 28, 2009

High Court Hears Arguments in Disputed Terre Haute Mayoral Election

The Indiana Supreme Court has heard arguments over who is the rightful mayor of Terre Haute in a legal fight that has gone on since shortly after the 2007 city election.

Attorneys for Mayor Duke Bennett and former Mayor Kevin Burke appeared before the justices Thursday, arguing over whether Bennett was eligible to run for office.

Bennett won the election by 107 votes out of some 12,000 cast, but the state appeals court last fall ruled that the results should be thrown out.

That court sided with Burke's contention that Bennett was barred from being a political candidate because he worked at a mental health agency that received federal funding.

Bennett's lawyers asked the Supreme Court to decide how broadly the federal Hatch Act should apply to Indiana candidates.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 28, 2009

Quinn, IL Lawmakers Continue Haggling Over a State Budget

Gov. Pat Quinn says he remains optimistic that Illinois lawmakers will raise income taxes to help balance the state budget.

The Democratic governor said Thursday that Illinois won't be able to pay its bills or provide vital services without the nearly $4 billion a tax increase would provide. Quinn says he's confident lawmakers will "live up to their responsibilities'' by passing a balanced budget.

State government faces a budget deficit of at least $11.6 billion. But legislators show little interest in raising taxes. They are talking about passing a budget that would only cover part of the state's annual expenses. That would postpone tough budget decisions until later in the year.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 28, 2009

Peoria to Build a Memorial to Singer Dan Fogelberg

The central Illinois community of Peoria has approved a memorial to singer Dan Fogelberg.

The songwriter _ whose hits "Leader of the Band'' and "Same Old Lang Syne'' helped define the soft-rock era _ was a Peoria native whose music career was nurtured in Champaign-Urbana as a University of Illinois student. He died in 2007 at his home in Maine after battling prostate cancer. He was 56.

The city council this week unanimously approved plans to place the memorial at Peoria's Riverfront Park. The man leading the push for the memorial, Hugh Higgins, says he's thrilled by the decision.

Higgins supports a memorial featuring a boulder etched with the lyrics of one of Fogelberg's songs. The project will be paid for by donations. Higgins estimates the cost at around $10,000.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 27, 2009

Vermilion County State’s Attorney says Police Shooting of Kaiyewu Justified

The Vermilion County state's attorney says officers from the Champaign and Vermilion County sheriffs' departments, and the University of Illinois police acted properly when they shot a 23 year old medical student to death near Oakwood --- ending a police chase that began in Douglas County.

State's Attorney Randy Brinegar says his conclusion comes after reviewing a more than 300-page state police report, and 30 audio and video recordings about the shooting of "Toto" Kaiyewu of Texas on April 6th.

Brinegar says there's "limited" squad car video that shows Kaiyewu brandishing a machete as he approaches police, after police stop-sticks forced him to stop his car on I-74 near the Oakwood exit. And he says "independent witness statements" confirm threatening behavior in his initial encounter with a police officer in the Douglas County town of Villa Grove. Brinegar says the statements confirm "that the suspect did place his car in reverse and back up toward the Villa Grove police officer."

Brinegar had little to say about why Kaiyewu acted as he did. He says an autopsy and toxicology tests found only marijuana and caffeine in his system. He would not comment on Kaiyewu's mental state, and said he would not release his medical and psychological records without permission from his family.

The family of Toto Kaiyewu questioned last month whether he truly threatened officers. Brinegar says his heart goes out of Kaiyewu's family and friends, and calls his death "every parent's nightmare".

Categories: Criminal Justice
Tags: crime

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 27, 2009

Burris Tours Central Illinois Still Adamant That He Did No Wrong

Senator Roland Burris is in the midst of a two-day tour through some central Illinois cities while still denying offering to pay for his appointment to the Senate.

On Wednesday Burris toured the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - he watched a brief presentation on supercomputers, toured a soybean research lab and met with U of I chancellor Richard Herman.

But the visit is being overshadowed by Burris' appearance in a wiretapped phone conversation released by a federal judge this week. In it, Burris is heard telling the brother of former governor Rod Blagojevich that he'd "personally do something" for Blagojevich's campaign fund if he were appointed to the Senate. Burris says he never gave any money and has been open about it.

"We said that we would look at this transcript and might have to supply some additional information. That's all that we did. There was no attempt to do any wheeling and dealing to not disclose," Burris told reporters. "That did not take place."

Burris said the Illinois House impeachment committee didn't ask about the conversation with Robert Blagojevich when Burris testified - and that's why he said he hadn't mentioned it. He says he's been transparent with that committee, US Senate investigators and others.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 26, 2009

Lawmakers Seek to Remove Minimum Age to Be a UI Student

The General Assembly no longer wants to put a restriction on how old someone must be to attend the University of Illinois.

No matter how smart or qualified, anyone under the age of 15 cannot enroll at any of the UI's three campuses -- which meant, of course, that a 14-year old high school graduate who last year had wanted to attend the Urbana-Champaign campus could not.

Representative Naomi Jakobsson says in the end, the student enrolled at nearby Parkland College, but it wasn't ideal. The legislature sent a measure to the governor that removes any restrictions.

Jakobsson admits the college lifestyle may be a bit mature for the younger set, no matter how smart they are. "There is a lot that goes on and one has to consider the maturity level of the student, to make sure that they're really able to be in a situation where there aren't kids around," Jakobsson said.

UI hopefuls still have to meet other requirements. They include four years of high school level English and three years of math, or demonstrating the equivalent level of knowledge and skills.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 25, 2009

Former Wilco Sideman Jay Bennett Dies in Urbana

Wilco lead singer Jeff Tweedy says he's "deeply saddened'' by the death of former band member Jay Bennett.

The 45-year-old Bennett was found dead early Sunday in his Urbana home. Tweedy said in a statement Monday that Bennett made "significant contributions'' to Wilco's songs and the band's evolution. Tweedy said Bennett would be remembered "as a truly unique and gifted human being.''

Bennett worked as a sound engineer and played instruments for Wilco from 1994 to 2001.

An autopsy was planned for Tuesday by the Champaign County Coroner.

Earlier this month, Bennett sued Tweedy, claiming he was owed royalties for songs during his seven years and five albums with the group.

Categories: Biography, Community
Tags: people, culture

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 25, 2009

Former U of I Urbana Chancellor John Cribbet Dies at Age 91

A memorial service is scheduled for this Saturday at the University of Illinois College of Law for John Cribbet. The former Urbana Campus Chancellor died Saturday in Urbana after a long illness.

Cribbet was chancellor from 1979 to 1984, and dean of the College of Law before that. He was on the law school faculty for more than 60 years, both before and after his chancellorship. Current U of I Urbana Chancellor Richard Herman said through a news release that he remembers Cribbet as a "larger than life figure", who brought a sense of wisdom and purpose with him, "even in the simplest encounters".

As Chancellor, Cribbet is credited with hiring football coach Mike White, and planting the seeds for the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. As a law professor, he was considered a pioneer in the field of property law. His textbook, "Cases and Materials on Property" is now in its 8th edition.

Cribbet, a native of Findlay, is survived by his wife, two daughters and their families. A memorial service will be held this Saturday, May 30th, at 2 PM, in the Max L. Rowe Auditorium, at the U of I College of Law Building in Champaign.

Categories: Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 25, 2009

Strategic Capital Bank of Champaign Reopens Under New Owners After Govt Takeover

Champaign's Strategic Capital Bank re-opens Tuesday today under new ownership. State banking regulators closed the ten-year-old bank on Friday, and handed it over to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Today (Tuesday), the bank reopens as a branch of Effingham-based Midland States Bank. All deposits and loans are being transferred to Midland States Banks, and officials say customers should see no disruptions in service.

FDIC spokesman David Barr says Strategic Capital apparently ran into financial trouble due to its buying so-called private label mortage-backed securities and making commercial real estate loans. He says that left the bank vulnerable when the housing market and economy suffered a downturn, with home loans and commercial real estate loans taking the biggest hit."And with this bank having a lot of its assets concentrated in those two areas, it had a really adverse impact on their financial condition", says Barr.

Barr says the FDIC will keep a toll-free phone number open this week for former Strategic Capital customers with questions about the bank takeover. Calls will be taken from 8 AM to 8 PM, at 1-866-954-9527. That's 1-866-954-9527.

Besides Strategic Capital bank, state banking regulators shut down Citizens National Bank of Macomb last Friday. That makes a total of five bank failures in Illinois so far this year.

Categories: Business, Economics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 22, 2009

Global Campus Undergoes Major Changes

Trustees at The University of Illinois are making some big changes to its struggling online degree program.

Trustees first approved Global Campus in 2006. It was designed to be a branch of the University of Illinois solely online, just like the Urbana-Champaign or Springfield campuses. Only 400 or so students are currently enrolled. Administrators were expecting thousands.

The new Global Campus plan will make the three U of I campuses control the online format. But Trustee Larry Eppley says he's concerned the new version will run into the same problems the program encountered when it was first created.

"We got caught up tripping over ourselves when we couldn't even convince everyone to allow their online programs to be listed on Global Campus," Eppley said. He said the new format will put more pressure on the three campuses and faculty.

The three campuses are expected to present their online programs in July.

Categories: Education, Technology

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