Illinois Public Media News
The land that was to be the site of a futuristic clean-coal burning power plant has been returned to the community of Mattoon.
The area that was to have hosted FutureGen was given back Thursday by the FutureGen Alliance. Mattoon dropped out of plans for FutureGen once they were reconfigured by the Department of Energy. This announcement allows the community to market the 440 acres to other businesses.
Coles Together President Angela Griffin said four companies that are not being disclosed have already toured the land. She said the goal is lure something similar to FutureGen. It is estimated that tens of millions of dollars was spent to survey, engineer, and analyze the area.
Griffin said that money will not be recouped, but is not a total loss.
"The work that was done is still valid and good," Griffin said. "And so we're able to use that - the completed surveys and the completed engineering. And that all has value. I don't think anybody will be able to recover costs for dollars that were spent to characterize the site in any way."
Griffin also said putting a dollar figure on the amount spent would be difficult, since so many entities paid for the work, including the state, city, the FutureGen Alliance, and the Southern Illinois University Clean Coal Review Board. She said this news should provide some relief for Mattoon residents, and remind them they will be kept apprised of any plans for the land.
"I think (Thursdays) news is going to put a lot of relief in the hearts of people who gave one way or another to the FutureGen effort," Griffin said. "The site did return to the community. We do control it now, and we'll able to determine what goes in there, and the community doesn't have to worry that something will happen there that they're opposed to."
An informational meeting regarding the future of the site is planned for Monday morning at 9 at Pagliacci's Restaurant in Mattoon. Meanwhile, the FutureGen Alliance reported that nine communities met Wednesday's deadline to be part of what's called FutureGen 2.0. The host city to be selected early next year will store carbon emissions, working with a power plant in the western Illinois community of Meredosia.
Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has narrowly defeated his Republican challenger, according to the Associated Press.
An AP analysis of uncounted votes from absentee and other ballots shows state Sen. Bill Brady will not be able to overcome the just more than 19,400-vote lead Quinn holds with 100 percent of precincts reporting Thursday.
Brady has said he will not concede until all votes are counted, including absentee ballots from military members serving outside Illinois. Brady said his campaign's collecting and evaluating data, and will wait until all votes are counted before deciding its next step.
"There could be mistakes, there could be other issues, there could be military ballots, there could be absentee ballots that haven't yet been counted," Brady said.
Brady estimates it will be a month before all that is sorted out, but even some of his fellow Republicans, like Senator Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, say Brady's chances of catching up with Quinn are slim.
"Barring fraud, 19 thousand votes, because of the new technology, is a pretty big hurdle," he said.
Dillard lost the GOP primary to Brady by less than 200 votes. Dillard said if he had been the nominee, he would have won the general election. Quinn's campaign said the governor's lead is "decisive" and that it is time to return focus to state issues.
Quinn inherited the governor's mansion nearly two years ago when lawmakers ousted Rod Blagojevich after his arrest on federal corruption charges. He campaigned on a proposal to raise the state income tax by one-third as Illinois struggles with a deficit that could top $15 billion. The Quinn campaign released a statement saying the voters have spoken and "the outcome is decisive."
State officials have until Dec. 3 to certify all results.
(Photo courtesy of Elmhurst College/flickr)
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican Bill Brady are stuck in limbo instead of launching their transition or tackling a legislative agenda as the Illinois governor's race drags on.
Brady said Wednesday he's willing to wait a month for official results after all the votes are counted to see if he can overcome Quinn's slim lead, which had widened to about 19,000 votes at last count.
The uncertainty means Quinn may face the fall legislative session without any certainty he'll still be governor in January. That's a handicap as he tries to resolve a budget deficit that could hit $15 billion next year.
For Brady, it leaves him focused on the election instead of looking ahead to form a new administration should he win.
Democratic Senate President John Cullerton said the possibility of not having the election settled until early next month will not impact government business.
Republican Senator Dan Rutherford's successor could be Champaign County's GOP chair.
Now that the 53rd district Senator from Pontiac has been elected Illinois' next Treasurer, Republican Party chairs from the 10 counties making up that district must caucus to select someone to fill out the Senate term's final 2 years.
Champaign County GOP leader and Champaign Attorney Jason Barickman grew up in Livingston County, where his family has farmed for more than a century. The Illinois State University graduate touted his years of experience working on political campaigns.
"I worked for Governor Edgar. I've worked with Congressman Ewing and long been involved in the political process," he explained. "This of course is putting myself out there in a public realm, and I think at the end of the day I would connect very well with voters."
Barickman also said his character makes him a good candidate.
"My hope is at the end of the day is that they look at me and say this is a person who's got some energy, is a fresh face," Barickman said. "He seems to have the work ethic and personal ethics of someone who would roll up his sleeves, and work hard for us in Springfield. My hope would be to be victorious through that process."
The GOP caucus to select someone to fill the senate seat will occur in the next few weeks. The Republican chair of McLean County, John Parrott, said they will eventually narrow down the list of candidates from about 10 to four or five.
Other candidates include former Pontiac Mayor Scott McCoy, former Saunemin Mayor Mike Stocklin, and State Representative Keith Sommer of Morton.
Parrott said the caucus will conduct a weighted vote based on population. The four largest counties in the district in order are Tazewell, McLean, Champaign, and Livingston. The Republican chairs will start accepting resumes after their caucus meeting.
Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh said campaigning for re-election was more time-consuming this year, because he had an opponent for the first time. Still, the Republican incumbent easily won re-election to a third term on Tuesday. He received 85.5 percent of the vote against independent write-in candidate Jerommie Smith.
Smith, a former sheriff's deputy, campaigned on a theme of improving the fiscal management of the sheriff's office, but Walsh contended that he has already done a good job adjusting to a tight county budget while continue to provide law enforcement.
"We save the taxpayers a lot of money, in how we do everything from the gasoline to the prisoner medical bills," Walsh said. "The Electronic Detention Program --- if we didn't have that, I would have run out of food money a couple of months ago. So we've saved a lot of money, we've operated well within our budget, despite the cutbacks. It's been tough, but we've been able to do it."
The Electronic Detention Program puts non-violent offenders on home detention --- monitored through an electronic ankle bracelet. Walsh said the program is cheaper than housing those offenders at the county jail.
Meanwhile, Smith said he still worries that tight finances in Champaign County could affect the number of deputies or level of service at the sheriff's department. He said he will review his performance as a write-in candidate, and decide if it might be worth running again in 2014 --- if he can get his name on the ballot next time.
Cook County officials are still counting ballots in the neck-and-neck race for Illinois governor, but whether there are enough that favor Republican Bill Brady to put him over the top is in question.
It will likely be a month before Illinois finds out who won Tuesday's gubernatorial race. Brady currently trails incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn by about 8,300 votes. At a Press Conference in Bloomington, Brady told reporters he is waiting for all the ballots to be counted and certified by the State Election Board.
"Our campaign continues to wait for the results," Brady said, noting that the difference between him and Quinn is less than one vote per precinct. "We believe we will win."
There are a total of 16,500 military ballots that have not been counted, including just over 28,000 that went out late from 36 counties.
As more precincts' returns roll in this week, Burt Odelson, an attorney for Quinn's campaign, said Tuesday night that he will monitor the incoming figures.
"There not enough votes down state to make up the difference between what's left in Cook County and what's left downstate," Odelson said. "So Pat Quinn's going to win the election."
Once all votes are counted, the State Board of Elections must certify the results.
The loser in this gubernatorial race can then ask for a "discovery recount" enabling him to check over a quarter of the ballots in each jurisdiction. If the candidate believes it is warranted, he may contest the election.
Some experts say absentee ballots could tip the scales. As long as they were postmarked on time, officials have extra days to factor in those ballots.
(Photos by Jeff Bossert/WILL and Sean Powers/WILL)
Voters in Illinois' 101st House District will have a new state representative in January. Adam Brown (R-Decatur) narrowly defeated incumbent Bob Flider (D-Mt. Zion) in Tuesday's general election with 51 percent of the votes.
The rancorous and expensive race left both parties pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaigns. Flider, who has held the seat for four terms, said like many candidates across the country, he was swept away by anti-incumbent fever.
"You know, the combination of throw them out mentality, combined with the high Republican turnout," Flider said. "I think that was very difficult to overcome."
Betty Hughes of Decatur said her vote against Flider was a vote for change in Springfield and Washington. She said she hopes voter cynicism towards incumbents will have a ripple effect on the legislative process.
"I think the state of Illinois needs to clean their house," Hughes said. "I hope we're sending a message to the federal government and the state government that we need a change."
Hughes explained that the federal government should do more to stem the nation's unemployment rate, and re-examine the cost of the federal health care law.
The change many voters were calling for this election year translated into a lot of negative advertising in the 101st House District race, which could be seen all over Central Illinois. Decatur trial lawyer William Faber, who supported Flider, said this sort of mudslinging is typical with any campaign. However, Faber said there should have been strict limits on the amount of negative advertisements coming from both campaigns. He feared voters were swayed by the rhetoric, and missed out on important issues.
"The politicians are unwilling to put limits on things in terms of time and money," he said. "The people complain, but don't put any pressure on the politicians to change things."
For Brown, who currently sits on the Decatur City Council, the victory was bittersweet. He has portrayed himself as a new fresh face who will distance himself from the tight grip of Chicago politics. Still, the 25-year-old Republican faces yet another challenge --- getting his voice heard a state legislature that continues to be controlled by a Democratic majority.
"You know, we got to stand up to Mike Madigan," Brown said. "I don't believe Central Illinois values align with the Chicago machine's values, so it's going to be a tough process."
Decatur is a manufacturing town that has been plagued with job losses from the Firestone plant closing to the recent decision by the Tate and Lyle company to move jobs out of Decatur.
Brown said he plans to stand up to Speaker Michael Madigan to push forward his plans to create jobs in Decatur and reform workers' compensation and lawsuit abuse.
Brown is up for re-election is 2012.
(Photos by Sean Powers/WILL)
The race for Illinois governor is still up in the air. Republican State Senator Bill Brady ended election night trailing Democrat Pat Quinn by about 8300 votes. But he did not concede the race.
"Some of you may have realized by now I have a penchant for close elections", said Brady jokingly. That's a reference to his Republican primary win over State Senator Kirk Dillard - which came down to just about 100 votes. Plus, in his first campaign win, Brady defeated longtime incumbent Gordon Ropp in the 1002 GOP Illinois House primary by just eight votes.
Brady campaign spokeswoman Patty Schuh says they want to ensure that every ballot is counted. She says there's still absentee ballots to count - in addition to others that weren't reported late Tuesday night
Burt Odelson is the attorney for Quinn's campaign. He said Tuesday night that he'll monitor the incoming figures. But he said then ... when 11 thousand votes separated the leading candidates .... he considered the race over.
"There not enough votes down state to make up the difference between what's left in Cook County and what's left downstate", says Odelson. "So Pat Quinn's going to win the election."
Once all votes are counted, the Illinois State Board of Elections must certify the results.
At that point ... the loser can ask for a "discovery recount." That enables him to check over a quarter of the ballots in each jurisdiction. If the candidate believes it's warranted, he may contest the election.
Republican Congressman Mark Kirk won the race for Barack Obama's old Senate seat. That seat is currently held by Roland Burris.
The race was close for much of the evening so Kirk didn't hit the stage until midnight. He told his supporters they had voted for fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, and bringing down the deficit, saying the Republican victory changes both national and state politics.
"We saw dark days surrounding this Senate seat," Kirk told supporters. "Blagojevich tried to sell it. Democrats blocked a special election to fill it, but tonight the sun set on a one party corrupt state."
Kirk says he's anxious to take office, something he'll get to do almost immediately. He won't have to wait until January like other newly elected Senators because he also won the court ordered special election on the ballot yesterday.
One of the incumbent state senators says Democrats will be willing to let Republicans make suggestions on ways to straighten out Illinois' budget, but wholesale cuts shouldn't be in the equation.
Senator Mike Frerichs won a third term over Republican Al Reynolds, a former tea party organizer. But legislative Democrats will have to work with a smaller majority after GOP wins elsewhere in the state. Frerichs says for the Republicans, having a larger minority should bring more accountability.
"In the past you've had one party sitting on the sideline saying 'it's your responsibility, you make those cuts, we're not interested in being involved,'" said Frerichs. "Now is the real time for bipartisanship. After the election and the next election a couple of years off, maybe these people will be willing to work together."
Frerichs says no one likes to see tax increase or spending cuts, but he says both will be needed to resolve the state's deep debt.
Rejoining Frerichs in the state Senate will be 55th district Republican Dale Righter, who easily fended off a challenge from Josh Weger.
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