Illinois Public Media News
Gov. Pat Quinn says he's restoring $16 million in funding previously expected to be cut from probation services statewide, averting many layoffs critics said would compromise public safety.
The Democrat says the move came after the state's General Assembly earlier this year funded the Illinois Supreme Court's budget for operational expenses and grants at only 56 percent of the court's request.
That court reimburses the state's 65 probation departments up to 65 percent of the salaries of probation officers.
Quinn's action Tuesday brought the high court's funding level to 82 percent of what it got last fiscal year.
Some counties have insisted that drastic reimbursement cuts will mean layoffs, and that fewer probation officers watching after sex offenders and other criminals could harm public safety.
A $6.74 million judgment against Archer Daniels Midland over a fatal accident would go to the parents and siblings of the man killed. But the Decatur-based company hasn't decided yet whether it will appeal the judgment.
A jury decided Friday that ADM should pay the money over the March 2007 death of 26-year-old Francisco Moreno Garcia.
Attorney Donald Shapiro represented Garcia's family. He says Garcia worked for a St. Louis company and was insulating pipes at one of ADM's Decatur facilities when a machine malfunctioned and sprayed him with steam and hot liquid.
Garcia died the next day, and a coroner says he was burned over almost 90 percent of his body. Shapiro says Garcia family lives in the Mexican state of Jalisco.
ADM says it's weighing the jury's decision as it decides its next steps.
The parent company of Central Illinois Bank has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with hopes of reorganizing with a strategic partner in 45 to 60 days.
But CIB Bancshares Chairman and CEO John Hickey Junior says the filing will have no impact on the bank and its customers. He says Central Illinois Bank has the capital for it to continue doing business with clients, and is separate from the petition that the holding company filed Tuesday night in federal court in Milwaukee.
Hickey says trust-preferred securities holders had to agree to a pre-packaged reorganization plan that was similar to what auto makers GM and Chrysler went through:
"You get the pre-approval from the creditors in advance, and that allows you to go in on a pre-package basis and come out and emerge very quickly," Hickey said. "We've continued to keep the regulators all informed in terms of where we are in the process, and so we've kept them up to date."
Hickey says employees of the parent company are excited about prospects for the company's future. Discussions with potential partners are expected start once the reorganization is complete.
Central Illinois Bank has 12 branches in the region, including locations in Champaign, Urbana, Danville and Decatur. CIB Marine Bancshares also has offices in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Arizona.
A case of bacterial meningitis may have arisen in northern Vermilion County.
The Vermilion County Health Department says a toddler was taken to Hoopeston Community Memorial Hospital yesterday with symptoms of the sometimes-fatal brain infection - he was airlifted several hours late to Urbana's Carle Hospital. Health administrator Steve Laker won't release the toddler's name or condition.
Bacterial meningitis can be very contagious, spread by contact with nose or throat secretions. And Laker says this particular strain of meningitis bacteria is highly difficult to trace back to a source.
People can be colonized with that; just be carriers of it and don't know they are carriers," said Laker. "What happens is that you get a susceptible individual around somebody who's carrying the organism and there's a transmission, and you have individuals who don't even know they're colonized with it."
Laker says several people in the toddler's family and at a day care facility have been given oral medications to help prevent another meningitis case.
A Champaign city councilman is proposing a "family resource center" to provide services to residents of the city --- but especially to its northeast side.
1st District City Councilman Will Kyles says the need for a center to bring community services into the northeast side became clear to him in his work as outreach coordinator for Congressman Tim Johnson. He says the center could provide services and activities for children, teens, parents --- even ex-convicts trying to make a fresh start.
"We believe in structures, we need structures," Kyles said. "But the issue is that it'll take awhile to rebuild those structures, to redevelop the neighborhood. So in the process of redeveloping the neighborhood, why not have services that are building people up?"
Melorene Grantham of the Peer Ambassadors youth group told the city council a family resource center could provide activities for older teens that are currently lacking in the area. She says that's a need her group found out about from its monthly meetings with youth at the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center.
They said they need other things to do to stay out of trouble, like jobs," said Grantham. "We went every month for some years; that was the top thing they say would keep out of trouble."
Kyles says the city of Champaign could work with the community, and leverage state and federal funds to put the family resource center together. But he says it wouldn't happen right away. He hopes the idea can be included among the Champaign City Council's goals for the next 5 to 10 years.
Police in the south Chicago suburb of Country Club Hills say their investigation into the death of a friend and fundraiser for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is essentially over. They believe Chris Kelly committed suicide.
Police say that when Chris Kelly swallowed a bunch of pain killers last Friday, it was his second suicide attempt that week.
They say Kelly has also tried to take his life last Tuesday night, just hours after pleading guilty in federal court to bid rigging. Kelly was due to enter prison this Friday to start a three-year tax fraud sentence.
Country Club Hills Police Chief Regina Evans said Tuesday that "based on all the information and the witnesses we know to be involved, we have no other investigation right now unless the toxicology report comes back to be something unexpected."
After attempting suicide last Friday, police say Kelly contacted his girlfriend who picked him up in the parking lot of a lumber yard in Country Club Hills.
She took him to the hospital but he died Saturday morning.
Kelly had been indicted three times by federal prosecutors who hoped to pressure him into testifying against Blagojevich.
(Additional reporting by the Associated Press).
Tuesday's hearing over the consent decree was notable for how it was covered by the news media. Judge Joe Billy McDade allowed electronic media to record the hearing.
University of Illinois journalism professor Steve Helle says cameras and microphones have not been allowed in lower federal courts since 1994.
"The federal courts conducted an experiment between 1991 and 1994 with regard to cameras in the courts. And the experiment was positive, but the Judicial Conference nonetheless voted to ban cameras in the federal courts," said Helle. "There was reconsideration of that policy and they decided to allow cameras in the circuit courts of appeal but still ban them in the district courts."
Tuesday's consent decree settlement hearing took place in federal district court, were cameras and mics are normally banned. But Helle says judges have occasionally "fudged the rules" in civil cases.
In this case, Judge McDade granted an exception for TV cameras that was later extended to all media after a brief meeting with reporters Tuesday morning. McDade told reporters that he had made a mistake in initially approving TV cameras, which he had thought would be for one station's live coverage.
Helle says allowing cameras under any circumstances in a central Illinois federal district courtroom is unprecedented. And he doubts it will be repeated, unless federal court officials decide to change the rules.
More than 400 cases of suspected H1N1 flu have been reported on the University of Illinois' campus in Urbana-Champaign so far this semester and more are expected.
Dr. Robert Palinkas of the McKinley Health Center says most of the cases have been relatively mild.
University officials have been asking students with suspected cases of the illness to go home until they're no longer contagious or isolate themselves in their residences. Palinkas says most families of undergraduate students have been heeding that advice, as have many students living independently. "We do trust them to comply, and generally we get pretty good cooperation from an individual when they understand the public health aspect of this," Palinkas said.
Palinkas says students and others who suspect they have the flu should come to the university's health center. He also says they're standing by for word on an H1N1 flu vaccine, which he hopes to make available to students and others in October or November.
(help from The Associated Press)
What could be one of the final court hearings on the Champaign school district's consent decree is uncovering some doubt over a proposed settlement.
A federal judge invited written public comment on the proposal that would end seven years of court supervision over racial equity issues in Unit 4. On Tuesday, some of those commenters testified in person.
Before those people spoke, Champaign superintendent Arthur Culver answered a concern from Judge Joe Billy McDade that the public skepticism may stem from what happens in individual school - in other words, some staff may revert back to old habits or not share the same concern for equity.
I think it's clear that we're serous about this work," said Culver. "If our staff members aren't coming to work with the same vision and mission that we have set for this district, then there are consequences."
Part of the settlement includes a new committee to oversee future equity issues, such as alternative education or student assignment. Ardice James, with the National Council of African American Men worries that the Education Equity Excellence committee may not have any teeth.
"Who would this committee report to?" asked James. "I feel that this committee should report to the board and more or less be advisory. I also believe that any recommendation that this committee proposes, that the Board of Education should consider that recommendation very strongly."
But Carol Ashley, an attorney for the plaintiffs whose suit led to the consent decree, says that committee will be guided by a third party. It's not known when Judge McDade will decide to accept or deny the settlement.
The hearing was a rare event for a federal court in central Illinois. After initially ruling that television crews could videotape the courtroom hearing -- a rarity in the federal court system -- Judge Mc Dade responded to complaints from radio newspaper reporters and opened recording to all media. McDade told reporters before the hearing that he had made a mistake in believing he was approving one station's request to broadcast the entire hearing live, and he opened the hearing up to all recording devices out of fairness.
Champaign and Urbana are vying for federal grant money to build a network of broadband computer service in underserved areas. But that could entice the cities to look into broadening the service even further.
Urbana city council members have held holding a study session on the subject. Mayor Laurel Prussing says the grant - if the cities win it - could be an opportunity to offer internet, TV and phone service at a competitive rate to nearly all residents.
"What I'd like to see, instead of having something that's going to be taking money from the cities over the future, I'd like to see it set up as a utility so that the cities can provide service to the public, and get revenue so we wouldn't have to rely so much on taxes," Prussing said.
The so-called big broadband project is already working to extend coverage to key community facilities like libraries, along with parts of the cities that may not be covered by private fiber-optic projects. Prussing says the council still needs to decide whether to pursue the federal grant, how much it would want to spend and how to develop a business plan for broadband service.
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