Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 20, 2011

Champaign City Councilman Revives Discussion for a Police Review Board

The Champaign City Council last considered the idea of a citizens police review board in 2007 ---- ultimately voting to drop the discussion. Since then, the city has been shaken by the police shooting death of Kiwane Carrington. Also, city council membership has shifted, and some top police officials have announced their retirements --- including chief R.T. Finney. Will Kyles, the only African-American currently serving on the Champaign City Council, brought up the police review board idea at the Oct. 18 council meeting. He said he had received enough backing from fellow council members to get the subject on the agenda of an upcoming study session. Kyles tells Illinois Public Media's Jim Meadows that now is the right time to revisit the idea of a citizens police review board.

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WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 20, 2011

Danville Explores Plans to Increase Revenue

The city of Danville is exploring different opportunities to boost revenue.

On Wednesday night, the Public Safety Revenue Committee discussed a five-cent public safety tax that's expected to generate around $170,000. Committee co-chair Nancy O'Kane said that money would be used to strengthen Danville's police and fire departments.

"We're not looking to just go out there and just raise taxes to be raising taxes nor are we looking to give those police officers and those firefighter's raises," O'Kane said. "We're trying to put more officers on the street and more firefighters to protect our city."

O'Kane, who is a former Danville alderwoman, said she hopes the full council votes on the measure by December.

Meanwhile, Alderman Michael Puhr said whatever course the council takes, it will first survey the public to find out if they would support a new tax.

"You know, in these economic times we do have to watch what we do," Puhr said. "A lot of people in our community are on fixed incomes, but we still have to operate in a positive cash-flow in city government, as well."

Earlier this week, the city council narrowly voted down a measure that would have raised Danville's garbage pickup fee. Puhr said the council will likely consider a revised version of that plan. He said the Public Safety Revenue Committee is also exploring the prospect of charging extra for its public safety services in communities outside of Danville, and impounding vehicles of drivers who are caught under the influence of alcohol or in possession of marijuana.

Categories: Business, Economics


AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 20, 2011

Cellini Prosecutors Rest Shakedown Case

Prosecutors have rested their case against the millionaire political insider William Cellini.

Cellini is accused of helping Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly extort a campaign contribution for Rod Blagojevich from Tom Rosenberg, a movie producer who also had a financial company that did business with the state.

In 2004, some business was being held up and Rosenberg asked Cellini to find out what was going on. Cellini got back to Rosenberg and said Rezko and Kelly were holding the state business until Rosenberg made a contribution to the former governor.

Cellini insists he was not an part of a conspiracy to extort the contribution. He was just relaying information about what he was hearing.

On the stand, Rosenberg said he had warned Cellini many times that Rezko and Kelly were crooked and he shouldn't deal with them but he also said that Cellini never asked him to contribute to any politician during the 30 years the two have known each other.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 20, 2011

U of Ill. Sports Gets $900,000 a Year in Waivers

The University of Illinois provides more than $900,000 a year in tuition waivers to cover scholarships for athletes and will continue to provide such support despite a committee's recommendation that the practice stop.

The Chicago Tribune (http://trib.in/pZkqNv ) reports that the university has provided the money from its general fund since the 1970s. A campus committee recommended that the waivers be phased out over five years as the university looks for ways to save money. They will instead be reduced.

Associate Chancellor Bill Adams was a member of the committee. He says the school's sports programs would have trouble making up the money if it was eliminated.

The waivers began in the 1970s as a way to support women's sports. Among Big Ten schools, only Wisconsin has a similar arrangement.

Categories: Economics, Education, Sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 19, 2011

Decatur Taxi Company Owner Plans Suit Over Shutdown

A taxi service owner in Decatur says he plans to sue the city for shutting down his company.

Last week, City Manager Ryan McCrady ruled that AOK Taxi used an unregistered vehicle and failed to inform the city about changes in its fleet. Assistant City Manager Billy Tyus confirms the cab service was shut down last week after violating city codes.

"The decision to revoke the license was based on the operation of unlicensed taxis," he said. "The city is responsible for licensing taxi services. It was decided that taxis were operated without a valid license, among other things."

AOK Taxi owner Anthony Walker said those allegations don't stack up, and he said he is determined to get his company's license back through a federal lawsuit.

"I know for a fact, 150 percent sure, that I can actually go in and prove every allegation was unfounded and there was no merit to it," Walker said. "With that being the case, I need to do that because my creditability and who I am as a business person in this community, I need to do that."

The city had contracted with Walker's company to provide a pick-up service for people who need help getting to a physician or bus stop.

Tyus said the Decatur Public Transit System will now run that program, but he said AOK will still be able to operate its livery service. The city also claims that a number of other vehicles couldn't be on the street because of technical issues.

Losing taxi service in Decatur is nothing new. And a bar owner in the city says it's come to the point where some sort of collaborative effort is needed to give rides to patrons.

Kim Miller co-owns the Bourbon Barrell, which is located near Millikin University. She said patrons have started to complain since learning that AOK taxi has shut down.

"Our cab situation in Decatur has been ongoing for years," Miller said. "We've had companies come in, they do ok for a while, and then they're gone. I don't know if it's just that we don't have enough customers to keep it going. Because obviously, it's just not bar customers. Other customers just need to do their day-to-day activities."

Miller said there needs to be some serious discussions with other owners and the city about offering some sort of shuttle service.

She says AOK network is offering a $10 shuttle service to or from anywhere in the area. But the company only offers a few vehicles, and Miller said its status is uncertain given the problems with the taxi company.

Bourbon Barrell used to provide free rides to some patrons who were in no condition to drive, but Miller said that's no longer feasible.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 19, 2011

Study: 1 in 25 Teens Taking Antidepressants

Health officials say roughly 1 in 25 adolescents in the United States are taking antidepressants.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the first to offer statistics on how many kids ages 12 to 17 take antidepressants.

It's based on surveys and depression screenings of about 12,000 Americans.

The study found about 1 in 10 adults take antidepressants.

And perhaps more should - the researchers said only one third of people with depression symptoms in the study were taking medication.

The CDC report was released Wednesday. It also found that women take the drugs more than men, and whites use them more than blacks or Mexican-Americans.

Categories: Health, Science

AP - Illinois Public Media News - October 19, 2011

Officials Urge Ind. Planned Parenthood to Split Up

Indiana officials who want to cut funding to Planned Parenthood say the organization could solve the issue by simply splitting its abortion business into a separate affiliate.

But officials in states where Planned Parenthood has done that say it isn't an answer and that the organization could quickly find itself under new pressures as social conservatives target abortion providers across the nation.

Indiana and Planned Parenthood have been locked in a legal battle since Gov. Mitch Daniels in May signed a law cutting off funding to the group.

Planned Parenthood won a temporary injunction in June allowing it to continue receiving Medicaid money. On Thursday, the case goes before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Categories: Government, Health, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 19, 2011

Unpaid Ill. Regional School Superintendent Resigns

A central Illinois regional school superintendent has announced his resignation after going without pay for 14 weeks.

Christian and Montgomery County Regional Superintendent of Schools Tom Campbell on Wednesday told the Breeze-Courier (http://bit.ly/keaUC6) in Taylorville he can't continue. Campbell blames "political decisions made by our governor" for taking "a tremendous toll" on his ability to "stay positive and focused on remaining in office."

In July, Gov. Pat Quinn cut off pay to superintendents and their assistants. He says the state can't afford to pay the salaries. Quinn wants local governments to pay the salaries, but made no arrangements before vetoing the money.

Campbell says the decisions by state leaders show "total disrespect" for those who work in regional education offices in Illinois.

Taylorville is about 25 miles southeast of Springfield.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - October 19, 2011

Illinois State Treasurer Shares Concerns About State Debt

Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford says the state needs to come up with a budget that avoids any more debt.

Rutherford was in Champaign on Wednesday to address the local Chamber of Commerce. While Gov. Pat Quinn has supported borrowing to pay off a large backlog of bills, Rutherford said that particular proposal wouldn't improve the state's cash-flow situation. He said borrowing has saddled taxpayers with nearly $45 billion in debt.

"I understand restructuring debt," he said. "I'm open to that, but it has to be something that passes the smell test. It has to be something that a fiscally astute and responsive person will say, 'It's good, it's better, let's go.'"

Rutherford said Illinois' budget should be based on the state's actual revenue. He also said changes to worker compensation and the pension system are essential.

Rutherford added that the mass demonstrations across the country against financial greed and corruption should be a wake-up call for lawmakers.

"I think it is a signal to those that are policy making in Washington, DC and the state capitol of Springfield is they better get their act together because actions have consequences and the biggest consequence will be coming in November 2012, and that's the election," Rutherford said.

With the state having nearly five billion dollars in unpaid bills, lawmakers are expected to review the budget during the veto session that begins next week.


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