Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - August 17, 2009

500 Attend Federal Reserve Roundtable in Decatur

Officials with the Federal Reserve say they're committed to returning to Washington with proposals for modifying mortgage loans, and foreclosure mediation. But they also want to hear more from communities hit the hardest by the mortgage crisis.

In Decatur over the weekend, about 500 people from the region heard from the enterprise that creates monetary policy. They also had a chance to apply pressure for changes in lending practices. AM 580's Jeff Bossert reports:

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Categories: Economics, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 14, 2009

Man Uses Pepper Spray in Urbana Gas Station Holdup

Urbana Police are looking for the man who used pepper spray to hold up the Green Street Circle K gas station on the Urbana side of Campustown Friday morning.

Authorities say the man used the pepper spray on two female employees, and fled with about 190-dollars in coins in a green bank bag. The employees did not require hospitalization.

Police say the suspect is described as a black male aged 25 to 35, of average build, wearing a white and blue ball cap, white t-shirt and blue jeans. He fled the scene in an older-model maroon sedan.

Categories: Criminal Justice
Tags: crime

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - August 14, 2009

Richard Herman Says He Intends to Stay

The man in charge of the University of Illinois' Urbana campus says he intends to stay put as long as he's wanted. Chancellor Richard Herman's name was attached to some of the controversial admissions decisions based on inquiries from university trustees or influential politicians. Now the U of I is disowning the so-called Category I clout list and trustees have either resigned or have been asked to do so. Herman and president Joseph White also find themselves facing calls to step down. Herman told AM 580's Tom Rogers he still has the support of a broad constituency.

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Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 13, 2009

Tent City Moves to Church Grounds—- City Cites Zoning Violation

The pastor of St. Mary's Church in Champaign says he's hosting the homeless members of the Safe Haven Tent Community, in keeping with the gospel call to help the homeless stranger.

Father Tom Royer says the dozen or so members of Safe Haven are camping out in a secluded spot on church grounds, and will be staying at the church for the next 30 days. He calls Safe Haven an attempt to respond to the needs of the homeless by offering some sort of safety and hospitality.

"They've been pushed from one place to another and this, I think, is inappropriate," says Royer. "I think that we, as a community, should take into account the needs of these people."

But as long as Safe Haven members are living in tents on church grounds, Champaign Zoning Administrator Kevin Phillips says St. Mary's is violating city zoning code. Phillips says he's sent notice to the church that they face possible fines of up to 750-dollars a day if the tent community isn't gone in one week. However, he says if St. Mary's moves the Safe Haven members indoors, the church's Multi-Family Three zoning designation may allow them to stay on an emergency basis.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 13, 2009

Champaign Firefighter Charged With Arson

The Champaign Fire Department's only female firefighter was arrested Thursday on arson charges.

Monica Hall of Mahomet is charged in connection with fires set two vehicles owned by Champaign firefighters --- both hers and that of a co-worker. The fires occurred early on the morning of August 6th, in the employee parking lot of the main Champaign Fire Station on Randolph Street.

Hall has been placed on administrative leave, with pay. An arraignment hearing is expected to be held Friday.

In a news release, Champaign Fire Department says it acknowledges Hall's arrest "with profound regret and disappointment". The release says department officials are cooperating with Champaign Police and the State Fire Marshal in investigating the case.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 13, 2009

Donations Help Restoration Urban Ministries Pay Power Bill

Restoration Urban Ministries in Champaign has survived another financial crisis. Financial officer Judy Stoll says Ameren has dropped its threat to cut off the homeless shelter's electricity --- now that they've caught up with their bill.

"Because of the generous outpouring of the community and the churches and private donations", says Stoll, "we have been able to get caught up with Ameren. and I actually paid the last of the Ameren bill off on Monday. We're also trying to get some of the other utility bills caught up".

Stoll says more than 25-thousand dollars has come to Restoration Urban Ministries since last month, when residents of the shelter came to a Champaign City Council meeting to ask for help --- and Ameren warned of a power cutoff if bills weren't paid. First amendment issues prevent the city of Champaign from giving money to the faith-based shelter. But Stoll says contributions are still coming in from the public. She says that helps make up for a 30-to-40 percent dip in donations to Restoration earlier this year.

The organization currently shelters about 91 people in a former motel on Champaign's northwest side, and provides them with life skills classes to help them get back on their feet.

Stoll says supporters of Restoration Urban Ministries are launching their own efforts to keep the donations coming in. Those efforts include a Facebook page, titled "Help Save Restoration Ministries". Pastor Vincent Elam is hosting the page, and asking 25-thousand people to give a dollar each to help out.

Categories: Economics
Tags: economy

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 12, 2009

President White Calls for Swift Changes to UI Admissions

University of Illinois President Joseph White says a series of admissions reforms as recommended by a governor's panel need to be implemented in 8 weeks. White and about 100 leaders from the U of I's three campuses met in a closed-door meeting Wednesday discussing how to move beyond its admissions scandal. He says a firewall must be built around that area to ensure that no one above the level of Dean whose job doesn't include admissions will be involved in the process. The U of I also plans to adopt an admissions code of conduct, and set up a procedure for handling inquiries from lawmakers or anyone else inquiring about student applications.

White says the first action Wednesday was terminating the Category I list of politically-recommended students. He says the U of I needs to lead by example. "I think the University of Illinois, having been through this, has to correct and over-correct,' says White. "I think the practices that are pretty commonplace in other public universities won't be occuring here because we have to win the confidence of applicants and we have to win the confidence of the people of Illinois and I'm confident we will."

White would not comment on personnel matters, saying it remains to be seen whether the admissions scandal will result in anyone on campus losing their job, including himself. But he does say a U of I Board of Trustees with some new members will make the administration a high-priority item.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 12, 2009

Ameren Seeking Out the Right Path for a High-Power Electric Line

Ameren says an expanding portion of Southwest Champaign has necessitated plans for a new transmission line.

The first of two public meetings to help determine the route for the utility proposed 138-thousand volt line is Monday. It would extend from the Bondville Route 10 substation to one on the southwest portion of the University of Illinois campus in Savoy.

Spokesman Leigh Morris says what's key are any concerns about 'sensitivities' someone may want the line to steer clear of:

"It could be something like a cemetery, it could be a flood plain, it could be an archaeological site, a hospital, a school," Morris said. "But we need that kind of input, and we certainly want people to come because we need that input to develop the routes."

At a second open house this fall... Ameren IP will unveil its proposals for routes. Morris says feedback will still play a role then in what's submitted to the Illinois Commerce Commission. The filing with the ICC will take place in January, and its review process is expected to take 12 to 15 months.

Many routes for the line are already under consideration... they can be viewed on line at CI transmission-dot-com. Ameren's first public meeting on the transmission line is Monday from 4 to 7 at the Holiday Inn on Killarney Street in Urbana.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 12, 2009

Brady Says He Can Stand Out Among IL Governor Candidates

A candidate for Illinois governor says Republicans have been unsuccessful getting a governor elected over the last two elections because they've not elevated a quality candidate.

Bloomington homebuilder and state senator Bill Brady ran an unsuccessful primary campaign four years ago and is mounting another effort this year. He says this may be the right time for Republicans to do well in state elections in the wake of the Rod Blagojevich scandal.

"But we've also got to offer more than a corruption-free government," Brady said. "That's first and foremost, but they also have to believe that there's someone with the fiscal discipline to control government spending, to refrain from tax increases and in fact roll back tax and fee increases so business would choose to invest in Illinois again."

Brady is running against five other announced candidates, but he expects the field to narrow closer to next February's GOP primary. He says the last run for the governor's office left him with a fundraising foundation to depend on.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 12, 2009

Champaign Council May Lift Ban on Doorknob Advertising

Champaign residents could start seeing more flyers on their cars and doorknobs soon, if the City Council goes ahead with plans to repeal a prohibition against the advertising practice.

Right now, only political and religious groups can leave a flyer on someone's doorknob in Champaign. And it's illegal to leave flyers of any sort on someone's windshield. But after a company that distributes such flyers argued that the ban violates the First Amendment, the council decided to revisit the issue. Council members unanimously endorsed ending the ban on doorknob flyers at Tuesday night's study session. But the council split 5 to 4 on ending the windshield flyer ban. For Councilwoman Marci Dodds, letting commercial handbills be plastered on windshields was too much.

"I don't have a problem with political and religious handbilling. I'm not fond of it because it just one of my pet peeves. But I don't see that commercial (handbilling) falls in the same category as that in the slightest," Dodds said.

But other council members said that the First Amendment wins out and that the council should repeal any law that they believe to be unconstitutional. Council member Tom Bruno said if Champaign resident gets an unwanted handbill on their car or door, they can exercise their own first amendment rights.

"I think a resident who gets an unwanted handbill should take the time to phone the business or the politician and say I'm really upset by this and I'm not going to do business with you," Bruno said.

The council will take a final vote on the issue at a later meeting.


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