Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

IL House Approves End to Legislative Scholarships

Another push to get rid of legislative scholarships is underway in Illinois.

The Illinois House voted 79-25 Wednesday to end the program, which allows each lawmaker to hand out tuition waivers to students from their district. The measure now goes to the Senate, which has backed the waiver program in the past.

Each legislator can award four-year waivers to two students or divide them among up to eight students.

The program has received much criticism after revelations that some legislators award waivers to family members, political allies' children and students outside their districts. It also costs state universities millions of dollars a year.

Gov. Pat Quinn urged the Senate to abolish the program and use the money for deserving students in financial need.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

Coverage of the 2012 Primary Election

On March 20, 2012, Illinois Public Media aired live coverage of the 2012 primary election hosted by News and Public Affairs Director, Craig Cohen.

The three-hour broadcast included the latest results and analysis in the GOP Presidential primary, the Democratic and Republican 13th Congressional district primaries, plus races for state legislative seats, the Champaign County Board, Auditor, and Circuit Clerk, and municipal electric aggregation referenda in Champaign-Urbana.

Throughout the evening, Craig was joined by Robert Rich (Director, Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, Kent Redfield (Political Science Professor, University of Illinois at Springfield), and John Jackson (Visiting Professor, Paul Simon Policy Institute at the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale).

The Election Night special was produced by Sean Powers, with assistance from Kimberlie Kranich, Celeste Quinn, Jeff Bossert, Pam Dempsey, Jill Disis, Azra Halilović, Mary Barrineau, Jack Brighton, Carina Lee, and Dan Davis. There was additional reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Willis Kern, Charlie Schlenker and Brian Mackey. The technical director was Jason Croft.

HOUR 1 +NPR News in Washington, DC +Panel discussion on the various races, campaign contributions, and the redistricting of legislative and congressional district maps +Interview with Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten at the Brookens Administrative Center about voter turnout +Update from Illinois Public Radio in Springfield +Panel discussion about the Presidential candidates

HOUR 2 +NPR News in Washington, DC +Conversation with Tom Kacich, editorial page editor of the Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette. Kacich talked about races for circuit clerk, auditor, and county board in Champaign County +Illinois Public Media's Jeff Bossert reports on the municipal electric aggregation referenda +Update from Illinois Public Radio in Springfield +Panel discussion about the 13th Congressional race, including reports from Illinois Public Media's Sean Powers and Illinois Public Radio's Willis Kern

HOUR 3 +NPR News in Washington, DC +Panel discussion about races during the night +Update from Illinois Public Radio in Springfield +Illinois Public Media's Jeff Bossert reports from the Brookens Administrative Center about results from the county races +Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey reports from Springfield about how Congressional races across the state are shaping out +Illinois Public Radio's Charlie Schlenker reports from the Double Tree Hotel in Bloomington on the 53rd Senate race between Sen. Shane Cultra (R-Onarga) and State Rep. Jason Barickman (R-Champaign)

Categories: Government, Politics


AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

Ebert Festival Lineup Includes Hanks, Welles

The lineup for Roger Ebert's Film Festival will include one of Tom Hanks' earliest movies and a classic from Orson Welles.

This year's Ebertfest in Champaign will be April 25 to 29. Ebert announced the lineup on his blog late Tuesday (http://bit.ly/GBleGT ).

The festival will screen Hanks' "Joe Versus the Volcano'' on April 25. Welles' "Citizen Kane'' will be featured on April 29.

Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt will appear at this year's festival. Oswalt will host a screening of `"Kind Hearts and Coronets'' on April 24. A film he starred in, "Big Fan,'' will be shown on April 26.

Tickets for Ebert's annual festival go on sale April 2 at the Virginia Theater in Champaign. Most festival passes are already sold.

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AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

Quinn: FEMA Denies Illinois Appeal for Assistance

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied the state's appeal for assistance after a deadly tornado and severe storms.

Quinn said in a Wednesday news release that he is disappointed with the decision and doesn't believe "it reflects the reality and devastation on the ground.''

Hundreds of homes in five southern Illinois counties were damaged or destroyed by the Feb. 29 storms that killed seven people in Harrisburg, a town of 9,000 in Saline County.

But FEMA concluded homeowners' insurance, local charities and state funds could cover those costs. Quinn appealed to the Department of Homeland Security days after FEMA turned down the aid request. FEMA later gave the state more time to make a better case for the taxpayer assistance.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

Body Identified as Missing Champaign Man

Champaign County Coroner Duane Nortrup said a body discovered Sunday behind a house on Hedge Road is that of Renard Jackson.

The 49-year old Champaign man was reported missing from that same neighborhood in November. Champaign Police confirmed the fingerprints from an autopsy were a positive match for Jackson. His body was discovered found under a pile of debris, which was hidden from plain view.

"The Champaign Police Department extends our deepest sympathies and condolences to Renard Jackson's family," Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb said. "We would also like to thank the community members, business owners and media outlets who heeded the call to assist the department with this search. My heart goes out to everyone who knew Renard, for it was evident that he belonged to a strong and tightly-knit community that cared for him."

The Champaign Police Department is treating this case as an active homicide investigation.

Northrup said preliminary autopsy results are pending at this time due to the suspicious circumstances of Jackson's death. An investigation by Champaign Police and the Coroner's Office is ongoing.

Categories: Biography, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

VCU Coach Smart Not Coming to Illinois

Shaka Smart says he will stay at Virginia Commonwealth.

Illinois had offered its coaching job to Smart, according to multiple reports.

In a statement released by VCU on Wednesday, the 34-year-old Smart said: "I'm looking forward to building on the successes of our program and university.''

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas declined comment through a spokesman.

Thomas fired Bruce Weber on March 9 after a 17-15 season that ended with a 2-14 slump. Weber's teams missed three of the last five NCAA tournaments and this year didn't make the postseason at all.

Smart's Rams were the darlings of last year's tournament, going from the First Four to the Final Four after barely making it in as a No. 11 seed. They lost to Indiana in this season's third round Saturday.

Categories: Government, Politics, Sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

Gill Declares Victory, Goetten Won’t Concede in Race to Challenge Johnson for Congress

Democrat David Gill declared victory Wednesday in his bid to mount a fourth challenge to Congressman Tim Johnson. But Matt Goetten says he wants to wait until all the ballots are counted.

Gill announced early Wednesday morning that unofficial numbers in the 13th Congressional District Democratic primary show him with 15,507 to Goetten's 15,364 --- a 143 vote margin.

Gill says his narrow victory comes even though Goetten spent more money on campaign media buys than he did.

"This was definitely a victory for a citizen-power campaign over the Wall Street money and the Washington DC power brokers," Gill said .

Gill had previously criticized Goetten for not pledging to refuse any future superPAC contributions. Goetten had also received an endorsement from Illinois U-S Senator Dick Durbin.

Gill's declaration of victory does not rest on official numbers, however. And Gill says the votes may be subject to a recount.

Meanwhile, Goetten's campaign manager says they'll wait until provisional and overseas ballots are counted, to see if Gill's slim majority will stand.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, Goetten said, "Washington might tell us that our voices don't matter, but this campaign is about fixing Congress, and that's why every vote must be counted".

Final results in the 13th District race were delayed by problems in Macoupin County. Once those votes came in early Wednesday morning, they added more 2144 votes for Goetten versus 1262 for Gill. But Goetten's larger count was not enough to complete erase Gill's narrow lead in the other counties.

Meanwhile, Congressman Tim Johnson of Urbana won the Republican nomination in the 13th District.

Final, unofficial results show Johnson the winner with 69% of the votes, while Frank Metzger polled 18 percent, and Michael Firsching was third with 13 percent.

Johnson says he wants to continue to focus on constituent service, jobs, and the economy.

"I've been doing the same thing, sending the same message for a number of years," Johnson said. "Obviously, they've had a favorable reception or I wouldn't have been nominated or elected for 44 years.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

Rose, Brown and Barickman Are Winners In GOP Legislative Primaries

Republican legislative primaries in east-central Illinois yielded victories for Chapin Rose and Jason Barickman in the Illinois Senate, and Adam Brown in the Illinois House.

In all three races, there were no candidates on the Democratic side, although the party could place candidates on the ballot for the November election.

Rose, a five-term House member, won a decisive victory in the GOP Republican primary for the 51st senate district against opponent Tom Pliura.

Rose got about 70% of the vote after all precincts reported numbers. More than 7,500 votes were cast. He ran on a campaign that was paid special attention to the state's budget.

"I think they responded to my message," says Rose about voters in the district. "I said, 'Look, I've got a plan to cut $4.8 billion, to get rid of the deficit, to pay down the bills and to get us back to a surplus position for the state of Illinois."

Rose touted his ability to work "across the aisle" in the house, and said he'd do the same in the senate.

"We get a lot of things done for our area," Rose says. "We're going to be in the minority again obviously in the senate, so I won't change how I do anything."

Rose comes off a very aggressive election cycle. Pliura, a doctor and lawyer, pulled no punches when he released campaign ads claiming Rose refused to debate him. By the time election day came, the two had squared off in two separate debates, one in Danville and one in Bloomington.

"Mr. Pliura called me tonight," Rose says. "He was very gracious; very gentlemanly. I complemented his supporters on a well-run campaign."

The new general assembly session is still an election away. Until then, Rose is still representing the 110th Illinois House District. The House is in session Wednesday.

Meanwhile, State Representative Adam Brown is closer to reaching his second term.

The Republican beat his primary opponent, Robert Roman, with almost five times as many votes, in the 102nd Illinois House District GOP Primary. About 4,000 votes were cast total. And while Brown has secured the Republican nomination, there is no Democrat running against him in the general election, though someone could challenge him.

"I want to build a downstate coalition that stands up for our gun rights, stands up for our family values and stands up for a balanced budget that's going to be sustainable over the next many years," Brown says.

The win will require Brown to move from the old 101st House District to the newly drawn 102nd district, which includes all of Shelby County, the southern half of Champaign County and also hits the Indiana border. The new 102nd covers much of the territory in the old 101st, but not Brown's current home address. Brown says he felt confident his farming background would help him carry the election.

"My district, it is very agricultural," he adds.

At 26, Brown is already one of the youngest members in the Illinois General Assembly. And, there's a lot he wants to get accomplished.

"I want to build a group that holds the same conservative values as I do," Brown says. "I want to get folks elected to office locally, at the statewide level and nationally that are going to stress fiscal restraints."

Brown hopes to bring back some of the items of legislation from his current term. One bill he co-sponsored suggests that Cook County should become its own state.

"You know, you take a look at the problems here in Illinois," he says. "Chicago policies of grabbing our guns downstate, I believe, need to be pushed back against. Take a look at our state: Downstate values are not being properly represented in the legislature."

One issue Brown differed on with his opponent was on gambling expansion in the state. While Brown says the state has pegged gambling as a funding source for rural needs, he just doesn't "trust the state of Illinois to put that money toward agricultural purposes."

But perhaps there's no issue bigger for Brown than the state's budget.

"Specifically I would like to repeal the tax hike. Twelve hours before I was sworn into office, my predecessor voted for the largest tax hike in Illinois history," Brown says.

Jason Barickman's victory in the 53rd Senate District GOP primary comes at the expense of incumbent Senator Shane Cultra.

Barickman won with 62% of the vote, to Cultra's 38%.

Barickman was appointed to Cultra's old seat in the 105th House District, when Cultra was appointed to the Senate in 2010, to fill the seat left vacant by State Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

Barickman says he thinks he can bring a new perspective to the Senate.

"I think there's a lot of frustration in our state about the direction of our government", Barickman said Tuesday night, "and I hope that people see me as someone who can provide some new leadership, new energy, new ideas to a government that really cries out for new leadership.

Barickman says he supports lower tax rates, "meaningful" worker's compensation reform and an overhaul of state regulations on business.

Like Adam Brown, Barickman will have to move into his new district, if he's elected in November.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 20, 2012

Arrested Lawmaker Wins Dem Nomination

A Chicago Democrat has won his party's nomination for the Illinois House despite his arrest on a federal bribery charge.

Rep. Derrick Smith was appointed to his seat last spring after his predecessor moved up to the Senate.

Federal prosecutors allege Smith accepted a $7,000 bribe ten days ago in exchange for what he thought was his endorsement of a state grant for a daycare operation. Authorities claim it was part of an undercover sting.

Smith won 77 percent of the vote over Tom Swiss. Swiss is a former Republican activist who says he has independent views.

Smith received more than $60,000 for his campaign from Illinois Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan.


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