Illinois Public Media News
(Sun-Times reporter Dan Mihalopoulos filed the local pool reports)
Mitt Romney chose a northwest suburb of Chicago Tuesday to attack President Obama on the economy and new welfare rules. The presumed Republican presidential nominee then got to work raising a couple million in campaign cash.
A lawyer for George Ryan says the ex-Illinois governor is eligible to be released from federal prison on a work release program.
Ryan could be released to a halfway house as soon as Jan. 30. He will be required to get a job - or be appointed to one - and he will be free to work during the day, but he'll have to return to the facility at night.
Former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson is Ryan's attorney.
"This is a program that's widely available for federal prisoners," Thompson said. "It's nothing special for Gov. Ryan."
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said it is time for Ryan to get out of prison.
"I never felt he was a threat to society if he was walking on the streets," Cullerton said. "I think he, obviously, served a lot of time for his offense."
News of Ryan's release comes just days after a federal court struck down another one his legal appeals, but Thompson said his client is grateful.
"Any person would be grateful for any chance at even partial freedom and the chance to integrate back into society," Thompson said.
George Ryan has already served five years of a six-and-a-half year prison sentence for corruption. Thompson said they will continue appealing those convictions.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
Annette Clark, dean of the Saint Louis University School of Law, resigned this morning.
In two letters, Clark details her reasons for leaving. Clark said she "no longer [has] confidence" in the abilities of President Lawrence Biondi or Vice President of Academic Affairs Manoj Patankar to lead the University.
Clark said her decision was not made suddenly.
Saint Louis University spokesman Clayton Berry provided a letter from Biondi sent to faculty and staff, in which Biondi said he was set to fire Clark on Wednesday. Berry said the University will have no further comment beyond the letter.
Over the past several months, repeated attempts to visit the Vandalia and Vienna Correctional Centers in Illinois have been denied by the state. Illinois' prison system is in crisis. It was built to house 34,000 people, but it is now crowded with 48,000 inmates.
The overcrowded prison crisis has been brewing for a long time, invisible behind cement walls and wire fences. Gov. Pat Quinn seems determined to keep it from public view.
Chicago Public Radio has requested visits to the two minimum security facilities in Vandalia and Vienna to see what taxpayers are getting for the billion dollars they spend each year on prisons. Gov. Quinn said no.
When Jerome Suggs was sentenced for driving on a revoked license he was sent to Vienna, located near the southernmost point in Illinois, about 350 miles from Chicago. Suggs was assigned to live on the third floor of a building but there was absolutely no view.
"When I moved up there (in Building 19), there was boards up on the windows and I was just looking like, 'Wow! What is this?" Suggs said.
Suggs said there was not a single window letting in light and that he was put in a large room with several hundred other men. All of the men were crowded onto bunks with nothing to do. There are 600 inmates in the building and only seven showers and seven toilets, and the toilets often broke and overflowed, resulting in a strong sewage smell.
"The smell that came from the showers and it came into the living quarters and yeah, I used to go to sleep with my pillow over my face, the smell was horrible, man," Suggs said.
The Illinois child-welfare agency has agreed in court to hire more people to investigate claims of abuse and neglect.
A spokesman says the Department of Children and Family Services hopes to have 100 additional investigators in place by October. Kendall Marlowe said Wednesday that means each investigator will get only nine new cases each month.
That's well under the court-imposed limit, which is generally 12 news cases a month.
The agency will reach the staffing goal by cutting administrative jobs and moving people to investigations.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois calls the agreement "an important step'' in reversing problems at the agency, which has been hit with deep budget cuts.
Illinois State Police have launched a criminal investigation at the Tamms Correctional Center after leaks to reporters about the process of closing the prison.
Spokeswoman Monique Bond tells the Associated Press that "there is an ongoing investigation into criminal activity.'' She would not say more.
But an employee at Tamms says investigators attempted to interview nine workers there yesterday. Most of them did not agree to answer questions.
Three investigators were from the state police and one from the Corrections Department, said the employee. He would speak only on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
The prison agency has been concerned about confidential information leaking to the news media about Tamms, which is scheduled to close at month's end, along with the women's facility in Dwight.
Illinois has added the University of Washington to its 2013 football schedule and will play the Huskies at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Illinois said in a news release Tuesday that the Illini will face the Huskies on Sept. 14.
Illinois has only played one other game at Soldier Field. That was a 10-9 win over Washington State in 1994.
The Illini last played in Chicago in November 2010. Illinois defeated Northwestern 48-27 at Wrigley Field.
The Illini also announced they've finished out their 2013 schedule by adding a Sept. 28 game against Miami (Ohio) at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
Other non-conference games were also added against Youngstown State in 2014, Western Illinois and Kent State in 2015 and Western Michigan in 2016.
Former Illini Nikkita Holder is one of three Canadians advancing to Tuesday's semifinals of the women's 100-meter hurdles at the London Olympics.
The 25-year-old Holder advanced on Monday with a qualifying time of 12.93 seconds. According to a CBC report, Holder said it wasn't her best time. "I'll get through on time and fine tune something for the semifinal," she said.
Holder will compete alongside her teammates Jessica Zelinka, who finished 2nd in her heat, with a time of 12.75 seconds. Another Canadian advancing to the semifinals is Phylicia George, who also 2nd in her heat, at 12.73 seconds.
Americans qualifying for the women's 100-meter hurdles semifinals are Lolo Jones (12.68 seconds), Kellie Wells (12.69 seconds) and Dawn Harper (12.75 seconds).
Alina Talay of Belarus had the fastest time with 12.71 seconds.
UPDATE: Holder finished 6th in the 100 meter semifinals with a 12.93 seconds, and won't compete in the finals later Tuesday. The USA's Dawn Harper finished 1st in the semis with a mark of 12.46.
A special regulatory committee in Danville meets Monday night to discuss ways animal control can be improved in the city.
The city pays the Danville Humane Society to oversee animal control. But that could change based on the committee's recommendations, which may include shifting animal control duties to city staff or consolidating existing operations with the county.
Alderman and committee member Rickey Williams, Jr. said Danville should stop relying on the local Humane Society to take care of animals.
"When we talk about humane society, we're supposed to be helping and taking care of animals," Williams said. "That's not what's happening now."
Williams said he has heard from people who allege the humane society has abused and neglected animals. Humane Society Board President Pete Lary dismisses those claims.
"We've got a proven track record," Lary said. "We have provided service without an increase in funding for all these years, and we do do a good job with the cards that we're dealt."
Danville pays the Humane Society $78,000 a year for various services, including animal control.
Whatever course the city takes, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said more money needs to be invested in animal care.
"We have done a great disservice to the Danville Humane Society in the amount of money we have funded them in the past," Eisenhauer said. "I have no doubt that given the proper resources; they could certainly be much closer to what we want, but shame on us for the way we have completely underfunded that organization."
The Animal Regulatory Enforcement Committee meets Monday at 7pm at Danville's Municipal Building.
Decatur's city manager says the new restrictions on water use are the most severe officials can find on record.
Among changes taking effect Thursday morning, Ryan McCrady said for the first time, residents won't be allowed to water their lawns or landscaping. People who maintain vegetable gardens must reduce their watering to three days a week, out of buckets that hold five gallons or less.
The drought has dropped the level of Lake Decatur to 611.51 feet, or three feet below normal. That's just above where it was last fall, but McCrady said getting the word out early has meant few residents fail to comply.
"I think our citizens have been aware that this drought, that's been going on since last July, that they were aware these types of restrictions might come back," he said. "And I think that they've prepared themselves for it."
The restrictions also mean that commercial car washes will have to shut down while the restrictions are in effect. Anyone who violates restrictions can face a fine of up to $250 plus court costs.
McCrady said the city monitors the long-term forecasts up to 90 days for not only rainfall, but temperature, as it impacts evaporation from the lake.
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