Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 18, 2012

Champaign Council Grants Final Passage to Stormwater Fee

After about two years of discussion, the Champaign City Council has signed off on a stormwater utility fee.

Starting next spring, residents will pay roughly $5 to $15 a month for storm sewer operation and maintenance. But larger properties with more impervious area, or buildings and pavement, will pay more.

Tuesday night's 7-2 vote came after two hours of discussion, including concerns from about 50 members of the city's religious community.

Rev. Claude Shelby of Salem Baptist Church asked council members to exempt churches. He said their financial support is far too shaky to be burdened with the fee.

"We have nothing to do with the act of God as far as the weather goes," Shelby said. "However, on the Sundays when God sends the rain, it runs in the sewers, or the snow, or what have you, many of or members are not there. If they're not there, their offerings are not there."

But council member Tom Bruno said the fee should be one of shared sacrifice.

"The problem, of course, with exempting segments of the society is someone else has to pick up and carry that weight," Bruno said. "And if we closed it at churches, and we defined it by people who believed in a God above, we would probably have constitutional problems."

The two 'no' votes came from Paul Faraci, who's concerned about the fee's effect on businesses, and Kyle Harrison, who says the cost won't be distributed evenly enough, and feels credits and tax breaks tied to the fee could go further. Both also opposed the fee in February's study session.

Members of the John and Washington Street watersheds also praised the plan, calling it the fair thing to do. Mayor Don Gerard says he knows the stormwater fee will help the city in the long run.

The Urbana City Council considers its own version of the stormwater fee at a Monday study session.

Meanwhile, with no discussion, the Champaign City Council unanimously passed a program for municipal electric aggregation. The city will negotiate with a Chicago-area consultant to seek out lower power rates for customers. The Urbana City Council approved the hiring a consultant for its aggregation program Monday night.

The council has also unanimously backed an intergovernmental agreement with Urbana and Normal to seek a 'Sole Source Aquifer' designation from the EPA for the Mahomet Aquifer.

Champaign City Manager Steve Carter said the University of Illinois and other nearby cities may also join the agreement and help share the cost.

The 'Sole Source' designation would make it harder for the EPA to approve a plan to store PCB's in the Clinton Landfill. The Urbana and Normal city councils both signed onto the plan Monday.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 17, 2012

Wisconsin Gov. Uses Illinois as Argument Against Recall

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he's using Illinois and its many problems as an argument for keeping him in office.

The first-term Republican faces a recall election in June primarily because he restricted union bargaining rights for state employees.

Walker spoke to Illinois business groups in Springfield on Tuesday to defend his record. He said that unlike Illinois leaders, he has put Wisconsin on sound financial footing without raising taxes or worsening unemployment.

Walker told reporters the event was a campaign stop meant to show voters that his ouster could mean Illinois-style problems will hit Wisconsin.

Union members with a 20-foot inflatable rat protested outside. Inside, the crowd inside greeted Walker with extended standing ovations.

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Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 17, 2012

Indy Police Chief Resigns Over Mishandling of Blood Vial

Indianapolis Police Chief Paul Ciesielski has resigned from his post over his department's handling of a blood sample taken from a police officer who was involved in a fatal 2010 crash.

Officials say Ciesielski submitted his resignation Tuesday, a day after the chief informed Public Safety Director Frank Straub that a vial of blood taken from Officer David Bisard following the August 2010 crash had been moved and not stored properly.

Mayor Greg Ballard says the mishandling of evidence erodes public confidence in the police department. He says he has asked the FBI to join the professional standards division in the investigation.

Officials say Ciesielski will remain with the department.

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AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 17, 2012

Wisconsin Gov. Uses Illinois as Argument Against Recall

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says he's using Illinois and its many problems as an argument for keeping him in office.

The first-term Republican faces a recall election in June primarily because he restricted union bargaining rights for state employees.

Walker spoke to Illinois business groups in Springfield on Tuesday to defend his record. He said that unlike Illinois leaders, he has put Wisconsin on sound financial footing without raising taxes or worsening unemployment.

Walker told reporters the event was a campaign stop meant to show voters that his ouster could mean Illinois-style problems will hit Wisconsin.

Union members with a 20-foot inflatable rat protested outside. Inside, the crowd inside greeted Walker with extended standing ovations.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 17, 2012

Indy Police Chief Resigns Over Mishandling of Blood Vial

Indianapolis Police Chief Paul Ciesielski has resigned from his post over his department's handling of a blood sample taken from a police officer who was involved in a fatal 2010 crash.

Officials say Ciesielski submitted his resignation Tuesday, a day after the chief informed Public Safety Director Frank Straub that a vial of blood taken from Officer David Bisard following the August 2010 crash had been moved and not stored properly.

Mayor Greg Ballard says the mishandling of evidence erodes public confidence in the police department. He says he has asked the FBI to join the professional standards division in the investigation.

Officials say Ciesielski will remain with the department.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 17, 2012

Urbana Council Signs with Consultant on Muncipal Aggregation

The Urbana City Council has unanimously approved an agreement with a consultant as the city moves forward with municipal electric aggregation.

New York-based Good Energy already represents a quarter of Ameren's residential business customers, or 53 towns and villages, as it tries to negotiate lower power rates. The consultant says the large bidding pool will result in a competitive bid price that Urbana couldn't negotiate on its own.

Despite his approval, Alderman Dennis Roberts cited some concerns with hiring a 'middle man' while the city laid all the groundwork.

"Would it be efficient for us, and would we get all of the services and expectations that the city had defined?" he said. "We're making some modications of our perfect scenario goals to look seriously at the Good Energy solution."

But Mayor Laurel Prussing's Chief of Staff, Mike Monson, said the 'clincher' for him was that Urbana can cancel the agreement if it doesn't like the negotiated price. Good is expected to charge a fee on each kilowatt hour of energy used by customers, amounting to about $75,000 annually. But the consultant says it will also negotiate a fee for the city that would generate twice that.

Champaign's City Council Tuesday faces its own vote on an electric aggregation plan. Residents in each city last month overwhelmingly approved referenda backing the program.

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Categories: Energy, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 17, 2012

Champaign Education Forum Seeks Wide Range of Ideas

On the heels of talks on working cash bonds and sites for a new Central High School, an unsuccessful applicant for Champaign Unit 4's vacant school board seat has set a forum to discuss these and other topics.

Charles Schultz writes a blog about the school district, but he said the meeting Tuesday night isn't Champaign-specific. He hopes the discussion include new topics and voices.

"The budget comes up from time to time, obviously, working cash bonds feeds into that," Schultz said. "And I do hear about teachers and students having some things to say, and they don't have an appropriate place to say them. Sometimes there's just kind of scared to come out and say it to their principal, or say it in a public kind of a way. I think we're just trying to make it open and available however we can. Most people are just exploring."

Schultz said he has also heard a lot of comments about the kindergarten school assignment process in Champaign. He suggests the public needs more time allotted for these discussions than a board meeting will provide.

The forum's co-organizer, Chuck Jackson is a former school board candidate and PTA president. Jackson said the idea behind the event and another like it in Urbana next month is to have the wider conversation. He also hopes to reach out to parts of the population that may not typically participate in such discussions.

"For example, I'm extremely concerned with our effectiveness at teaching people that get free and reduced lunch," Jackson said. "Our graduation rate is in the 60's (percentage), and yet, those are not typically who come to a forum."

The schools forum is at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at the Champaign Public Library. There is a separate conversation scheduled for May 15th at 7 p.m. at the Urbana Free Library.

Meanwhile, after interviewing eight candidates Monday night (including Schultz), the Champaign Unit 4 School Board selected Ileana Saveley to fill a vacant board seat created by the death of board member, Greg Novak.

Saveley will serve until April 2013. The board had 45 days from the date of the vacancy to fill the position.

Saveley was unanimously chosen following the interviews and closed session in Monday night's special board meeting.

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Categories: Education

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 17, 2012

Urbana Council Signs with Consultant on Muncipal Aggregation

The Urbana City Council has unanimously approved an agreement with a consultant as the city moves forward with municipal electric aggregation.

New York-based Good Energy already represents a quarter of Ameren's residential business customers, or 53 towns and villages, as it tries to negotiate lower power rates. The consultant says the large bidding pool will result in a competitive bid price that Urbana couldn't negotiate on its own.

Despite his approval, Alderman Dennis Roberts cited some concerns with hiring a 'middle man' while the city laid all the groundwork.

"Would it be efficient for us, and would we get all of the services and expectations that the city had defined?" he said. "We're making some modications of our perfect scenario goals to look seriously at the Good Energy solution."

But Mayor Laurel Prussing's Chief of Staff, Mike Monson, said the 'clincher' for him was that Urbana can cancel the agreement if it doesn't like the negotiated price. Good is expected to charge a fee on each kilowatt hour of energy used by customers, amounting to about $75,000 annually. But the consultant says it will also negotiate a fee for the city that would generate twice that.

Champaign's City Council Tuesday faces its own vote on an electric aggregation plan. Residents in each city last month overwhelmingly approved referenda backing the program.

Categories: Energy, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 17, 2012

Champaign Education Forum Seeks Wide Range of Ideas

On the heels of talks on working cash bonds and sites for a new Central High School, an unsuccessful applicant for Champaign Unit 4's vacant school board seat has set a forum to discuss these and other topics.

Charles Schultz writes a blog about the school district, but he said the meeting Tuesday night isn't Champaign-specific. He hopes the discussion include new topics and voices.

"The budget comes up from time to time, obviously, working cash bonds feeds into that," Schultz said. "And I do hear about teachers and students having some things to say, and they don't have an appropriate place to say them. Sometimes there's just kind of scared to come out and say it to their principal, or say it in a public kind of a way. I think we're just trying to make it open and available however we can. Most people are just exploring."

Schultz said he has also heard a lot of comments about the kindergarten school assignment process in Champaign. He suggests the public needs more time allotted for these discussions than a board meeting will provide.

The forum's co-organizer, Chuck Jackson is a former school board candidate and PTA president. Jackson said the idea behind the event and another like it in Urbana next month is to have the wider conversation. He also hopes to reach out to parts of the population that may not typically participate in such discussions.

"For example, I'm extremely concerned with our effectiveness at teaching people that get free and reduced lunch," Jackson said. "Our graduation rate is in the 60's (percentage), and yet, those are not typically who come to a forum."

The schools forum is at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at the Champaign Public Library. There is a separate conversation scheduled for May 15th at 7 p.m. at the Urbana Free Library.

Meanwhile, after interviewing eight candidates Monday night (including Schultz), the Champaign Unit 4 School Board selected Ileana Saveley to fill a vacant board seat created by the death of board member, Greg Novak.

Saveley will serve until April 2013. The board had 45 days from the date of the vacancy to fill the position.

Saveley was unanimously chosen following the interviews and closed session in Monday night's special board meeting.

Categories: Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 17, 2012

GOP Congressional Hopefuls Present Ideas

The public got a look at many of the candidates hoping to replace U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Urbana) on the November ballot, even though a final nominee will be selected behind closed doors.

Despite the toxic atmosphere in Washington and a Congressional district that doesn't favor Republicans, representing the newly re-drawn 13th district is still a popular job. At least eight candidates have expressed interest in it. Johnson announced earlier this month that he will retire at the end of his current term.

Six of people vying to replace Johnson on the November ballot tested out their campaign running shoes on Monday in Bloomington at the Doubletree Hotel before an audience of party faithfuls.

"Overnight the 13th became a target on the pathway of Nancy Pelosi returning to power," said Congressional staffer Rodney Davis of Taylorville.

"We know Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats want to recover the House," said Assistant Illinois House Minority Leader Dan Brady (R-Bloomington). "They're opportunist and will invade if they smell there is a chance in a district."

"I'd like to beat Doctor (David) Gill a fourth time to make sure Nancy Pelosi does not become speaker again," said Congressional Chief of Staff Jerry Clarke of Urbana.

Politics is about making connections and most of the aspiring politicians have lot of networks. Three year State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) said he can appeal to independents as shown by his results in Macon County

"Probably what I think is seen by Republicans as the tougher part of this Congressional District," McCarter said. "I won that area and I won Decatur, the toughest part of it by a thousand votes."

Former State Rep. Mike Tate one-ups McCarter saying he won Decatur five times in ten years before stepping down to raise a family. Tate said his children are grown now and he can pour himself into a Congressional race that will be enhanced by his business connections as CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois.

"In terms of a campaign operation, I can tell yah I have small business people, independent agents which are like the backbone of their communities," Tate said. "They live in small towns in Illinois and they're the kind of people that are on their church board, active in the rotary club."

There are about 200 days to go before the November election.

State Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) said the profile of a great candidate to deal with that short time frame looks a lot like him - an excellent campaigner. Brady said not only has he held office, but he has helped other Republicans, implying it would be their turn to help him if he is selected.

"I'm proud to say I've campaigned for candidates at every level from city council and county board to President of the United States," Brady said. "From my time as a young man helping to rebuild young Republican groups across the state to my present role as Assistant House Republican Leader, I've made service my driving force."

Brady also touted his name recognition, which could be code for having the same last name as a recent GOP candidate for Governor who did well in counties comprising the 13th district. Call it the Brady effect.

Two other candidates focused on the networks they would have if they won the race against Democratic Candidate David Gill in November.

Jerry Clarke is the current Chief of Staff for Congressman Randy Hultgren, former Chief of Staff for Tim Johnson and a longtime GOP staffer in Springfield. He emphasized his ability to navigate Washington.

"So I've seen the, up close the dysfunction of Congress, the endless gridlock, the out of control spending," Clarke said. "I think we can do better than that and I think I am ready to serve."

The threads that bind the system together are also a specialty of Rodney Davis of Taylorville, who for the last sixteen years has served as the special projects director for Congressman John Shimkus.

"I have helped countless constituents work through the bureaucratic red tape of Washington D.C. and the federal bureaucracy," Davis said. "I've been tasked with helping local leaders in 3 counties identify cost effective ways to address their local infrastructure issues."

A candidate with less of a resume chose to emphasize his social conservatism. David Paul Blumenshine of Bloomington mentioned the Trayvon Martin killing, trying to diminish it compared to the abortion issue.

"We're talking about rioting over a young man and another young man who got into an altercation and unfortunately somebody lost their life," Blumenshine said. "Since Roe v Wade was overturned we killed 50 million people."

Blumenshine incorrectly stated that Roe v. Wade had been overturned, when in fact it has not.

At least five of the 14 county party chiefs who will eventually make the call were watching the presentations. Although some may have already committed to an initial candidate, none are likely to go public with support ahead of a private get together late this month.

When the party had to hurriedly replace a candidate in the 11th district a few years ago, county chairs looked over all the resumes, polled each other, and then invited three finalists to make their cases in person before casting ballots weighted by population.

Illinois Republican Party Chair Pat Brady is charing the panel that will oversee the process of selecting a nominee. He has yet to announce the selection process.

Champaign and Macon Counties have the two largest chunks of the weighted vote in the selection for the 13th Congressional district race.

Champaign County Acting Republican chair Habeeb Habeeb has said that it is possible that a similar forum - like the one held in Bloomington - will be held locally.

The winner of that vote will face presumptive Democratic nominee and three-time candidate, Doctor David Gill in November.

 

(Photo by Charlie Schlenker/IPR)

 

A full set of links to county GOP chairmen in the 13th District is listed below.

Categories: Biography, Government, Politics

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