Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - July 21, 2011

University of Illinois Votes to End Aviation Program

University of Illinois Votes to End Aviation Program

The University of Illinois will end its Institute of Aviation.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 21, 2011

Express Scripts to Buy Medco

Two of the nation's largest pharmacy benefits management companies could become one in the first six months of next year.

The $29.1 billion merger between St. Louis-based Express Scripts and and Medco Health Solutions, based in New Jersey, still needs approval from both shareholders and regulators. The boards of both companies approved the merger on Thursday.

If approved, the company, which would retain the Express Scripts name and headquarters, would be the largest of its kind in the country. Together, Express Scripts and Medco handled 1.7 billion prescriptions in 2010, and generated more than $110 billion in revenue.

The size, said Express Scripts' chief spokesman Larry Zarin, would give the new company an edge on reducing health care costs, which he says is a priority of the nation as well as the corporation.

"Where we are with health care costs, where we are with health care reform, the size of that challenge and the absolute call for new, innovative solutions, both structurally and tactically, and we're going to take on both," he said.

The companies say they have identified $1 billion in potential savings by streamlining areas like the supply chain and research and development.

But Zarin ducked questions about possible layoffs.

"Today is not the day to talk about that," he said. "Today is the day to look forward. "We're going to take a very thoughtful approach to the integration, a very thoughtful approach in terms of structuring the organization in the best way, and we're not really going to take a look at head count today."

Medco has 20,000 employees - Express Scripts has about 13,000.

Categories: Business, Health

AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 21, 2011

Commission to Oversee Illinois Charter Schools

Illinois is getting a commission to decide when charter schools should be created and then make sure they're running properly.

The commission gives advocates a new path for approval of charter schools instead of having to go through local school boards or the State Board of Education.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the commission into law Wednesday. He will submit a slate of potential members and then the State Board of Education decides who actually serves on the commission.

Charter schools are public schools that are exempt from some state laws so they can try new education methods or pursue particular goals. Advocates say officials have been slow to approve new charter schools.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 21, 2011

Ill. Lacks Money to Help Low-Income Keep Cool

Facing a big drop in federal money to help poor people keep their power on, the state of Illinois decided earlier this year to use the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program only in winter this year.

That's leaving potentially tens of thousands of people without extra money to keep their power on or get it reconnected during a devastating heat wave.

Spokeswoman Marcelyn Love says the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity had little choice. Otherwise it might have run out of money during a brutal Illinois winter.

That doesn't comfort people like Cynthia Littlefield of Paxton. She's unemployed and her family has a $198 electricity bill from Ameren it can't pay.

Ameren spokesman Leigh Morris says the utility won't turn off power for non-payment during heat advisories.

Categories: Economics, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 21, 2011

Ill. Unemployment Rises for Second Straight Month

Unemployment in Illinois increased to 9.2 percent in June, the second straight month the state jobless rate increased.

The state Department of Employment Security today laid part of the blame on weak consumer confidence they said was hindering the national economy.

The national unemployment rate hit also 9.2 percent in June. That was up from 9.1 percent.

The employment security department said the number of people in Illinois out of work and looking increased by 18,900 to 603,700.

The biggest job losses were in the government and educational and health services sectors. Both shed 3,500 jobs for the month.

The leisure and hospitality sector added 3,900 jobs with the start of summer.

Categories: Economics
Tags: economy

AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 21, 2011

Impact of American Airlines’ Purchase on Boeing

AMR Corp.'s American Airlines is claiming to have made the largest purchase on Wednesday of airplanes in aviation history, but it is raising some questions over how the purchase will affect American's relationship with the Chicago-based Boeing company.

American has had an almost exclusive relationship buying planes from Boeing, or companies Boeing bought out, for years. But that all changed when American announced today that it's buying 200 new planes from Boeing and 260 planes from Boeing's rival, Airbus.

"I think it's hurtful to Boeing," said Aaron Gellman, who follows the airline industry at Northwestern University.

He said the higher ups at Boeing should be raising questions about how Airbus struck such a lucrative deal with American Airlines.

But Florida-based aviation consultant Stuart Klaskin said the order does not mean there is a broken relationship between American and Boeing.

"There's no way they can say they're disappointed," Klaskin said. "They just sold 200 airplanes to American Airlines. I mean, God. It's a massive - by any other standard it's a massive order."

Klaskin said if anything, American caught up with other airline companies by diversifying its fleet of planes so as to not have all its eggs in the Boeing basket.

Meanwhile, Joe Schwieterman, who follows the aviation industry at Chicago's DePaul University, said, "This is really making a statement that they're going to have an equal mix of Airbus and Boeing and I think it's a bit of a wake up call for Boeing, as well, that they shouldn't count on the majority of orders from the big guys here in the U.S."

Schwieterman said there is no need for Boeing to panic. Buying 200 planes is still a huge order and it should give Boeing confidence to make further improvements to its aircraft.

Categories: Business, Transportation

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - July 20, 2011

UI Flight Program Could Land at Parkland College

The University of Illinois' Board of Trustees is poised to vote Thursday on ending its long-running flight training program, but there is a chance the Institute of Aviation may have a new home.

The Urbana campus has provided flight training since the mid-1940's. Parkland College President Tom Ramage said he has been in talks with U of I officials about incorporating the aviation program into his school's curriculum. He said he is interested in keeping the institute alive, even if it is on a smaller scale.

"A private pilot licensure as well as commercial pilot licensure can happen without a degree or it can happen with a degree," he said. "We could go as far as the associate's degree, and partner as we do with many other programs with another university to do that degree competition."

Ramage said the prospect of Parkland adopting the flight program is largely dependent on what happens in the days ahead. He noted that discussions with the U of I about the institute have just started.

"I would imagine if the (University of Illinois) decides not to come and have a discussion with Parkland that they have good reason for it," Ramage said. "I don't know that I would beat down the door trying to figure out why."

On his end, Ramage said he would have to review the cost of maintaining the flight program, and the prospect of post-graduate jobs for aviation students.

A panel of U of I administrators and faculty made the recommendation in February to get rid of the Institute of Aviation as part of a series of cost-cutting measures. If that recommendation goes through with the vote by the Board of Trustees, then the flight program would end by 2014.

Staff and alumni from the Institute of Aviation plan to rally Thursday morning before the Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 20, 2011

Republicans Sue Over Legislative Map; Gov. Quinn Defends It

Top Illinois Republicans have sued to invalidate the state's new legislative district map drawn by Democrats.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court, House Republican leader Tom Cross and Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno contend the map shortchanges blacks and Latinos and dilutes the voting strength of Republicans.

Democrats were in charge of the redistricting process because they control both the Legislature and the governor's office. Gov. Pat Quinn has signed the map into law, and his office defended it Wednesday, saying it "represents our diverse state and protects the voting rights of minorities.'' Quinn is out of the country on a trip to Israel.

Democrats have defended the map, but it's gotten mixed reviews from community groups. Some praised it for adequately reflecting the state's growing Latino population, while others say it could go further and also better maximize the black voting population in some districts.

The map could be redrawn if the lawsuit is successful.

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 20, 2011

Attorney Seeks $340,000 from Davlin Estate

An attorney is seeking more than $340,000 from the estate of former Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin, who committed suicide last year.

The lawyer represents the estate of Margaret Ettelbrick. She was Davlin's cousin, and he became executor for her estate after she died in 2003.

The claims filed against Davlin's estate allege that he sold Ettelbrick's house for about $46,000 less than it was worth, spent more than $85,000 for his personal benefit and used more than $200,000 to buy stock in a company.

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that the claims were filed by Kevin McDermott, the Sangamon County public administrator who is administering Ettelbrick's estate.

Davlin shot himself in December on the day he was due in court to answer questions about her estate.

(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)


AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 20, 2011

Governor Quinn on Week-Long Trip to Israel

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has taken his work to Israel this week, going on what his office is calling an educational mission. Before he left, Quinn told reporters his trip would mostly focus on Israel's green technology efforts.

"I think it's pretty inspiring that we work together on these important issues of clean water, reducing emissions, having an alternative to petroleum and also definitely education," Quinn said.

On Wednesday, the governor will visit Better Place, a company that develops battery-charging and swapping locations for electric cars. Quinn said he wanted to explore battery-charged vehicles as a possible alternative to petroleum-fueled cars.

Quinn plans to attend a signing ceremony on Thursday for an exchange program between Ben-Gurion University and University of Illinois at Chicago. The program will promote faculty and student exchanges and joint research efforts.

Also on his schedule are plans to sign a 'Sister Lakes' agreement with Israel -- a plan that would benefit Israel's Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) and Lake Michigan. The agreement would encourage Illinois and Israel to share solutions about water purification, invasive fish species and other concerns.

The governor's office says the trip is paid for by the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago. Among the other state leaders visiting Israel with the governor are Illinois State Sens. Jeffrey Schoenberg and Ira Silverstein.

Categories: Government, Politics

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