Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 01, 2010

Champaign City Probe into Carrington Shooting Winding Down

An internal City of Champaign investigation into a fatal police shooting last fall is winding down.

City attorney Fred Stavins says the two outside experts the city asked to conduct the study have completed much of their work looking into last October's shooting death of 15 year old Kiwane Carrington. Police say they confronted Carrington and another teenager as the two were trying to get into an acquaintance's home on Vine Street - an officer's firearm went off and hit Carrington during a scuffle.

Stavins says retired Urbana police chief Eddie Adair and retired McLean County Judge John Freese continue to meet, but their fact-finding portion of the review is generally complete - and he says that's only one segment of the overall investigation.

"There's been an internal investigation that involves police personnel", says Stavins. "And subsequent to that, there'll be another review by another group in the police department --- the Firearm Discharge Board."

Stavins says any ultimate changes to police policy or other outcomes of the report will be up to City Manager Steve Carter. He says the goal is to determine whether the Carrington incident should lead to changes in policy. But Stavins says it will not second-guess a state police investigation that cleared Chief RT Finney and Officer Daniel Norbits of criminal wrongdoing. Carrington's aunt has filed a wrongful -death lawsuit against the officers and the city.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 01, 2010

GOP Lt Governor Hopeful Plummer Campaigns in Champaign-Urbana

GOP lieutenant governor candidate Jason Plummer says state government needs the sort of experience he's gained while working for the family company.

The 27-year-old Plummer is a vice-president at Edwardsville-based R-P Lumber. The company founded by Plummer's father operates more than 40 retail stores in Illinois and Missouri, and is also involved in commercial development and banking.

"So we really understand the private sector side of things", Plummer told a group of supporters during a campaign stop in Champaign on Wednesday. "We understand what it takes to create jobs in Illinois. We understand what it takes to grow business in Illinois. And what I like to say is, you know, we need more people in Springfield that know what it's like to make a payroll every two weeks. We need more people in Springfield that know what it's like to sign the front end of a check and not just endorse the back."

Plummer says that, if elected, he'll work with GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady to balance the state budget and create private sector jobs. He says the lieutenant governor's office was "underutilized" by Pat Quinn.

"I watched Pat Quinn and Rod Blagojevich brag in the newspaper that they had not talked to each other in two years", says Plummer. "Well, how can you manage an enterprise the size of the state of Illinois if the two top people don't communicate? I'm going to work hand in hand with Bill Brady --- strong partnership, use the office, elevate the office, and focus on issues where we're struggling."

Plummer's visit to Champaign-Urbana comes two days after a campaign visit from Governor Quinn and his new running mate, Sheila Simon. Plummer says the nomination of Simon makes it clear that the Democratic ticket is committed to more spending and big government.

In addition to the Quinn/Simon and Brady/Plummer pairings, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney and lieutenant governor candidate Don W. Crawford are also on the ballot in November.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 31, 2010

Judge Rules Urbana District Can’t Sue Normal over Jon White Case

A McLean County judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Urbana School District against a Normal-based district over a former teacher now imprisoned for child molestation.

In dismissing the lawsuit Tuesday, Judge Scott Drazewski said Unit 5 was immune from the civil action because it is a public body, and also said Urbana District 116 missed the legal deadline for filing.

The Urbana district was seeking $1 million, saying it wanted the money to help cover the $2 million it paid to settle claims filed by nine girls molested there by teacher Jon White after he left McLean County. Urbana officials say Unit 5 failed to disclose that White had been forced to resign.

White is serving 60 years in prison for molesting two girls in Unit 5 and the nine in Urbana.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 31, 2010

Health Officials Urge Vaccinations for H1N1 Flu, in Case of a Resurgence

It's been almost a year since the H1N1 flu strain appeared in the U-S --- but health officials are still urging the public to get vaccinated. The Illinois Department of Public Health has launched a new campaign urging people to get vaccinated, if they haven't done so already.

Julie Pryde of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District says less than a third of county residents have been vaccinated for H1N1, or swine flu. She wants more people vaccinated to protect against a possible resurgence of the virus this spring or fall.

"If you do not have a shot for H1N1, you are not protected", says Pryde. "And we are expecting H1N1 to come back. Right now, it really heating up in the southeast and the south. And there are starting to be more and more cases, which indicates to us that it's going to sweep across the country somewhat like it did in the fall."

Pryde says that outside of some flu-like illnesses reported at hospital emergency rooms, there don't seem to be any signs of H1N1 in Champaign County right now. But the Illinois Department of Public Health says 18 new cases were reported around the state last week, including one death.

In contrast, Pryde says the seasonal flu strain seen this past winter seems to have run its course in Champaign County.

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is offering free H1N1 flu vaccinations, without an appointment. They're available weekdays from 8 to 4 at the agency's headquarters on West Kenyon Road in Champaign. Pryde reminds parents that children will need two shots, spaced a month apart.

Categories: Government, Health, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 30, 2010

UI Student Groups Hope Administrators Land Remaining Funds for Wind Turbine

University of Illinois administrators are meeting with two 'green energy' student groups next week to decide if a plan for placing a wind turbine on the Urbana campus still has life. A $2 million grant awarded in 2005 will expire in three months, unless the U of I can find a funding source to pick up the remaining cost. With dwindling state funds, members of groups like the Student Sustainability Committee and Students for Environmental Concerns suggest the capital bill approved by Illinois lawmakers, or the U of I Foundation, could pay the remaining $1.7 million for the turbine.

U of I Interim Vice Chancellor for Public Engagement Steven Sonka says the turbine would appear to produce a reasonable rate of return, and would be an attractive option if financing were available. But he suggests there are more effective uses for that kind of money... including retro-commissioning of some campus buildings. "These are very high payoff in terms of energy savings, because it's the energy savings that pays back the initial investment,' says Sonka. "And we want to do those, too. But that's a question of financing as well. We've gotten grants in the past to change lighting in buildings, and those tend to have attractive payoffs." With Urbana campus energy costs exceeding $75-million a year, student groups contend the turbine would quickly show some benefits.

Sonka says the student proposals for paying for the turbine's remaining cost would be considered. He says discussions with other 'outside entities' are being considered, but wouldn't comment on them. The initial grant for funding the wind turbine came from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. On Monday, Governor Pat Quinn indicated his support for the project in a visit to campus, noting wind energy was one goal of the recently-passed capital bill.

Categories: Economics, Education, Energy

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 30, 2010

Quinn and Running Mate Simon Come to the U of I Urbana Campus

Governor Pat Quinn is touting the record of a running mate whose only prior experience in public office was on the Carbondale City Council.

In a room full of supporters at the University of Illinois' Illini Union Monday... the Governor cited Sheila Simon's record as a prosecutor and teacher, and her stance on ethics in government. Urbana was an afternoon stop on a six-city flyaround for Quinn and Simon.

Quinn also says it was important for Democrats to select a Lieutenant Governor candidate who understands environmental issues.

"Sheila's going to be chairperson of the Rural Affairs Council when she's elected lieutenant governor", says Quinn. "And I think we should have somebody from downstate Illinois, who understands rural Illinois and understands agriculture."

Sheila Simon has known Quinn for more than 25 years... and says becoming the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor was an easy decision.

"I measure him the way my folks taught me to measure people in government service" says Simon. "Are they someone who puts the needs of other people ahead of their own? And that fits Pat Quinn to a T. He's someone who I respect greatly. He's someone who is straightforward and tackles problems even when it's the unpopular thing to do."

Simon cites the recent passage of a pension reform measure in Springfield as one example.

Simon says Quinn's priorities are her priorities ... including getting Illinois' budget in order and job creation.

The daughter of the late US Senator Paul Simon is a law professor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Categories: Politics
Tags: politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 30, 2010

Unit Four School Board Approved RIF Notices for 149 Amid State Funding Uncertainties

The Champaign School District is sending out tentative layoff notices to 149 teachers and support staff on Tuesday. That's 46 more than last year, thanks to uncertainties in state finances.

The Unit Four School Board approved the reduction-in- force, or RIF notices Monday night on a 5 to 1 vote. School board member Greg Novak said he voted "no", because too many questions were left unanswered --- although he wouldn't say what the questions were.

RIF notices are a spring tradition for Illinois school districts, with most employees hired back in the fall, when state funding has been finalized.

But due to the state budget crisis, Unit Four spokeswoman Beth Shepperd says they can't predict how much funding will come out of Springfield this year.

"What we're doing is trying to be very reactive to what the state is doing to us", says Shepperd. "Currently, they owe us $1.7 million in payments, that we do not know when or if we will receive. We don't expect it this fiscal year."

Unit Four School Board Vice President Susan Grey says voting on the RIF notices was more difficult than usual, due to the state funding uncertainties.

"Of course we are very concerned", says Grey. "These are people, these are their jobs, their livelihood. And these decisions are not made or taken lightly. I think our administration has done a good job of trying to pull together changes that will have the least amount of effect on the district as a whole, and the students."

The increase in RIF notices is sharpest for support staff --- the 53 RIF notices going out to them is two-and-a-half times greater than last year.

Shepperd says Early Childhood and Reading Enrichment programs are among the hardest hit by the RIF notices. But she says the impact will be felt in other programs, because tenured teachers may take positions elsewhere in the district, forcing the layoff of non-tenured teachers.

Earlier this month, the Urbana School Board approved RIF notices for 139 employees --- also an increase from last year.

Categories: Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 29, 2010

Judge Lifts Order that Kept IL Abortion Notification Law Unenforced

A Cook County judge has lifted a temporary restraining order on a never-enforced Illinois law requiring that a girl's guardians be notified before she has an abortion, but that doesn't mean the law goes into effect right away.

Judge Daniel Riley on Monday also approved a stay, or grace period, to let appeals be worked through in the case.

The law requires doctors to notify the guardians of a girl 17 or younger 48 hours before the girl gets an abortion.

Earlier this month, Riley heard arguments from the Illinois attorney general's office and the American Civil Liberties Union on the 1995 Parental Notice of Abortion Act.

ACLU of Illinois Executive Director Colleen Connell says the group is exploring legal options, including filing an appeal.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 29, 2010

More Than 600 Apply for UI Voluntary Separation Incentive

Just over 600 employees on the University of Illinois' Urbana campus want to take advantage of voluntary separation programs offered early this year.

Friday is the deadline for applicants looking to leave their jobs or retire through the program. The incentive was offered earlier this year as a means for the U of I to cut costs amid Illinois' bleak financial picture. Spokeswoman Robin Kaler says human resources staff had no idea how many applicants they'd get, but she says the mere volume means employees won't hear word on a decision until the first week of May. Kaler says departments will soon have their work cut out for them when reviewing names. "Would allowing 'Person X' to separate save you money?,' says Kaler. "And obviously, if a unit has more than one person who's signed up, they would look at the whole picture. It might be that 'boy, we'd need to replace a piece of this person, but if that person also left, we could replace two people with one, or something like that." Kaler says the 613 applicants included about 350 civil service workers, and 180 academic professionals. Meanwhile, about 90 tenured faculty members, and another 16 adjunct professors and lecturers took advantage of a voluntary retirement incentive. About 30 applicants weren't eligible for the program, with about 20 more names to review. Human Resources on the Urbana campus offered the Campus Separation Incentive programs to anyone who had been on campus for at least four consecutive years. The retirement incentive applies to staff who meet State University Retirement System eligibility requirements. Eligible employees approved for either incentive would receive a lump sum payment of half their annual salary, with a maximum payment of 75-thousand dollars.

Categories: Economics, Education


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