Illinois Public Media News
Governor Pat Quinn's proposed budget cuts to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are so severe, the agency's chief of staff says it's on the brink of closing.
Jay Curtis says in the past decade the department's budget shrunk from $106 million dollars to $45 million. And Curtis says in that ten years the agency has lost over half its employees.
"It's hard to operate an agency when that happens," he said. "We're one of the broadest in scope of all agencies in the state. We affect people's lives everywhere in the state. We own property and we have a presence in every county in the state."
Quinn wants to reduce D-N-R's budget this year by 13.5 percent. The agency will stop producing is monthly magazine, "Outdoor Illinois."
But Director Marc Miller has promised that parks will not be closed.
At least one legislator is suggesting fees to enter state parks as another way to supplement the department's shrinking budget.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have appointed eight members to the board that runs the McCormick Place convention center.
State law gives them each four appointments to the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority.
Quinn's appointees include attorney Carmen Lonstein and union leaders Ronald Powell, Bob Reiter and Becky Strzechowski.
Emanuel is appointing former state Comptroller Dan Hynes, retired ComEd CEO Frank Clark Jr., Bank of America executive Julie Chavez and Roger Kiley Jr., an attorney who was Mayor Richard Daley's chief of staff in the 1990s.
In a news release Monday, Emanuel says it is important to have a good team in place because McCormick Place is essential to Chicago's economic future. Quinn says the appointees have the experience need to attract new tradeshows.
The Illini men's basketball team closed out the regular season with another loss, falling 70 to 56 at Wisconsin Sunday.
Coach Bruce Weber said the game was finished in the first five minutes. He lamented the toll this season has taken on everyone.
"We've been through a really tough stretch in our season, and in our lives to be honest," Weber said after the game. "But you can't do anything except go play basketball - play with a passion if you love the game. And that's the disappointing thing to me. We played very tenative to start the game, and we spotted them 14-2, and that pretty much was the game."
Brandon Paul led all scorers with 22 points. Joseph Bertrand added 10 points, and Meyers Leonard grabbed 12 rebounds.
Wisconsin got 16 points each from Josh Gasser and Jordan Taylor.
Wisconsin finishes 12 and 6 in the Big Ten, Illinois 6 and 12.
The Illini are the 9 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. They play 8th-seeded Iowa Thursday morning in Indianapolis. The winner gets top seed Michigan State on Friday.
A hospital official says an Indiana toddler found in a field after Friday's violent tornadoes has died.
Fourteen-month-old Angel Babcock of New Pekin, Ind., was found after her family's mobile home was destroyed in the storms that ravaged the Midwest and South.
She had been in critical condition at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, Ky. Chief nursing officer Cis Gruebbel says she suffered head and neck injuries and her family decided to take her off life support.
Her father, mother and two siblings were killed in the storm. Her grandfather, Jack Brough, says the family is thankful for the thoughts and prayers they have received and is looking to God.
The girl's death brings the overall toll from the storms to 39 across five states.
The University of Illinois' Board of Trustees has unexpectedly called a closed-door meeting on Monday at the university's Chicago campus to discuss employment and personnel matters. This meeting comes more than a week after 130 faculty members called on U of I President Michael Hogan to resign.
University spokesman Tom Hardy on Sunday night wouldn't specify what the meeting will cover, but he said no action will be taken. He said this meeting could deal with issues that will come up 90 minutes later at the Urbana campus when a trustees committee meets.
"It came up over the weekend that would be an opportunity for some of the trustees to be able to get together and talk about a few things," Hardy said. "But once you get more than three trustees in a room, you have to make sure that you comply with the open meetings act and declare it as a board meeting."
Hardy said some trustees wanted to discuss these matters before the Trustees' Audit, Budget, Finance, and Facilities Committee meets on the Urbana campus at 1 p.m. U of I President Michael Hogan will attend the meeting.
Faculty members have criticized Hogan's management style and ethics after an outside investigation found that his chief of staff, Lisa Troyer, likely wrote anonymous emails intended to encourage faculty to support a Hogan-backed enrollment initiative. She resigned but denied writing the emails.
Board of Trustees Chairman Christopher Kennedy stated last week that he supports Hogan.
Meanwhile, the Board has a regularly scheduled meeting on March 15 on the Urbana campus.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin has toured damage caused by a deadly tornado in the southern Illinois city of Harrisburg.
Durbin toured the damage in Saline County on Saturday. Durbin says he'll work with members of Illinois' congressional delegation to make sure the area receives the help it needs to recover. Durbin says he's seen tornado damage in the past, but he's "never seen anything this bad.''
Six people were killed in the Wednesday storm and about 100 people were injured. Durbin visited with a woman who was buried under the rubble of two homes.
Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathon Monken accompanied Durbin. Monken credited local emergency workers who responded immediately after the storms.
Durbin says federal emergency workers are expected in the area on Monday.
More than a dozen veteran Indiana legislators are entering the final days of their Statehouse careers, and their departures will cost the Indiana House hundreds of years of experience.
Those retiring include 40-year members Republican Jeff Espich and Democrat William Crawford, who've traded chairmanship of the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee over the past decade.
Those retirements mean more than three dozen of the 100 House members who return next year will be in their first or second terms.
Julia Vaughn of government watchdog group Common Cause Indiana worries the departures will mean more influence for paid lobbyists at the Statehouse.
Freshman Republican Rebecca Kubacki of Syracuse says the House has a diverse group of newcomers who won't be unduly influenced by lobbyists.
Officials in Indiana have lowered the state's death toll from Friday's tornado outbreak to 12 people from the previous 14.
State police Sgt. Ray Poole says officials in southern Indiana's Scott County have told the state Department of Homeland Security that the county had one death rather than the three they first reported. Poole says he doesn't know the reasons for the confusion.
All the Indiana deaths happened in the southern part of the state near Louisville, Ky.
Officials are crediting southern Indiana residents' preparations and attentions to weather warnings with preventing a larger loss of life in the tornado-devastated region.
The death toll remained at 14 Saturday, though two Ripley County residents and a toddler from Washington County remained hospitalized in critical condition.
Gov. Mitch Daniels toured hard-hit Henryville the day after a tornado ravaged the town. He says the fact that so many people survived such a terrible storm is "merciful.''
Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin says people prepare the best they can, but he questions how anyone could prepare for devastation like that wreaked by Friday's storm.
Daniels issued disaster declarations for Clark, Gibson, Harrison, Jefferson, Posey, Ripley, Scott, Shelby, Vanderburgh, Warrick and Washington counties.
There were 289 arrests made and citations issued during Friday's Unofficial St. Patrick's Day celebration in Champaign-Urbana's Campustown.
Preliminary figures issued shortly before 3 A.M. Saturday morning could be revised later. But currently, they show the lowest number of citations and arrests for the unsanctioned celebration in three years, compared to 364 last year, 351 in 2010 and 269 in 2009. Authorities think Friday's rain helped put a damper on the outdoor celebrating.
107 of those cited were students at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. But several other college campuses were represented, including Illinois State University, Eastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University campuses at Carbondale and Edwardsville, the U of I's Springfield and Chicago campuses, DePaul University, the University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, the universities of Missouri, Wisconsin and Iowa, Bradley University and several community colleges. The overwhelming majority of those cited were under 21; the oldest was 30.
At least 3 of the citations resulted in arrests on state charges, with the subjects taken to the Champaign County Sheriff's Office.
Most citations were for underage drinking or public possession of alcohol. But in addition to those charges, two people were charged with fighting. And four people at an apartment on Green Street were cited for throwing dangerous objects.
University of Illinois spokesperson Jennifer Payan says preliminary figures show that 12 people required medical attention, with eight of them transported to the hospital.
Payan also said the Illinois State Liquor Commission reported citations against two Campustown bars. The Red Lion (211 East Green, Champaign) was cited for 30 violations of Happy Hour laws, while Kam's (618 E Daniel, Champaign) was cited for 14 Happy Hour violations.
In announcing plans for dealing with Unofficial St. Patrick's Day, local authorities said they would be focusing on nuisance behavior and underage drinking at private parties. Champaign Police Lieutenant Brad Yohnka said the policy of raising the entry age to 21 during Unofficial had made bars less of a concern.
Unofficial St. Patrick's Day was originally launched as a Campustown bar promotion in the 1990s, in response to times when the actual St. Patrick's Day occurred during the University of Illinois' spring break. But the event has taken on a life of its own in recent years, attracting many of out-of-town visitors.
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