Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 22, 2012

State Rep. Roger Eddy Leaves House for Education Post

Republican Roger Eddy has resigned his seat in the Illinois House.

The (Decatur) Herald & Review (http://bit.ly/GFeb5d ) reports that Eddy announced his resignation on Tuesday.

Eddy was hired last month to head the Illinois Association of School Boards, starting July 1.

He says leaving the Illinois House now gives him time to get an early jump on his new job and spend some time with his family.

Eddy is from Hutsonville and had represented the 109th House District for the past decade. He's also served as superintendent of the Hutsonville School District.

Hutsonville is about 70 miles south of Danville along theIllinois-Indiana border.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 22, 2012

Winkel to Decline Republican Nomination for Circuit Clerk

Despite Rick Winkel's win Tuesday night against Stephanie Holderfield in the Republican primary for Champaign County Circuit Clerk, Winkel said he will decline the nomination.

Election results show Winkel won by 245 votes. Winkel dropped out of the race on Feb. 8 to accept a new job with the University of Illinois, but his name still appeared on the ballot.

Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten said Winkel's name was still on ballots since he missed deadlines for certifying them, and when they're mailed to overseas voters.

"I believe that it's my job to count the votes as the votes were cast as an omniscient election authority and says, 'Even though we had 4,000 people who voted for a candidate who didn't run, I'm going to pretend that those votes didn't exist, and I'm not going to report them,'" Hulten said.

Hulten said he expects his office to certify Winkel as the nomination soon, and it's up to Winkel to decline it.

Winkel said that is exactly what he intends to do.

"When I withdrew from the race several weeks ago, I announced my retirement from active partisan politics," Winkel said. "Things are going very well at the University and I have no second-thoughts about my decision to withdraw from the race. Who the candidate will be is up to the local Republican Party."

Hulten said it would then be up to the county's GOP Central Committee to fill the vacancy, either by Holderfield or someone else.

Since Winkel bested Holderfield by nearly 250 votes, he will be certified as the winner in a final tally. Acting County Republican Chair Habeeb Habeeb said that means a weighted vote will be conducted by precinct committeemen, likely sometime in April for a new nomination.

He said the party will take applications from Holderfield and others interested. But Habeeb said the changeover in precinct committeemen doesn't make her shoo-in for the nomination.

"Stephanie has a good chance, but there are also other people interested as well," Habeeb said. "We'll just have to go through the process, and see how it goes."

Habeeb said name recognition may have been the reason many people voted for Winkel.

Holderfield suspects many of the votes that Winkel received were from people who didn't realize he had dropped out of the race.

"I am not sure what the next step in this process will be, however I am exploring every option that is available," Holderfield said. "I believe that I have earned the right to remain on the ballot as the Republican nominee and I feel certain that the elected precinct committeeman will see that this hard work should be rewarded."

Habeeb denies claims that voters deliberately sabotaged Holderfield's campaign, and was surprised that she lost.

Meanwhile, Barb Wysocki won a three-way Democratic Primary for Circuit Clerk Tuesday by just 16 votes. The margin is so close that the runner-up, Lori Hansen, has called them into question.

There is a chance the final vote count could change in two weeks, when additional ballots are counted. These include provisional ballots, which have been challenged, but could still be ruled valid, and mail ballots that were postmarked before the primary, but have until this Friday to arrive at the county clerk's office.

Hulten said all those ballots will be counted on Tuesday, April 3. But he doubts that will change the final outcome because he thinks those ballots will probably fall along the same percentages as the rest of the vote.

"I don't have any reason to believe that the 100, or 80 potential outstanding Democratic ballots --- there's no reason to believe that they are going to go 80% for one candidate, or 80% for the other candidate, given that everything else in the county was essentially split so closely between them," Hulten said.

Categories: Biography, Government, Politics


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

Harms Wins GOP Primary for 106th House Race

Watseka Teacher Josh Harms has emerged among a field of five Republicans to win the party's nomination for the 106th House District.

The results were finalized late Tuesday night.

Harms says all the candidates agreed the goal of the campaign was bringing back jobs, but he says voters also connected with his story of what teachers deal with regarding state funding and pensions.

"I think some people did like my story," Harms said. "That's what they call it is your story, where you come from, and what you do. I think that did have something to do with it."

But Harms says voters also did their homework on this race.

"When we would knock on doors and stuff, people would say 'oh, I've read about you, I've heard you speak here," Harms said. "And the turnout was high. "I think there was 16,000 people that turned out to vote in this primary."

Harms finished with 33-percent of the vote, runner-up Tom Bennett finished with 28-percent, or about 900 fewer votes. Former Pontiac Mayor Scott McCoy finished with 23-percent.

Democrats have until early June to slate a candidate to run for the 106th.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

IL House Approves End to Legislative Scholarships

Another push to get rid of legislative scholarships is underway in Illinois.

The Illinois House voted 79-25 Wednesday to end the program, which allows each lawmaker to hand out tuition waivers to students from their district. The measure now goes to the Senate, which has backed the waiver program in the past.

Each legislator can award four-year waivers to two students or divide them among up to eight students.

The program has received much criticism after revelations that some legislators award waivers to family members, political allies' children and students outside their districts. It also costs state universities millions of dollars a year.

Gov. Pat Quinn urged the Senate to abolish the program and use the money for deserving students in financial need.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

Coverage of the 2012 Primary Election

On March 20, 2012, Illinois Public Media aired live coverage of the 2012 primary election hosted by News and Public Affairs Director, Craig Cohen.

The three-hour broadcast included the latest results and analysis in the GOP Presidential primary, the Democratic and Republican 13th Congressional district primaries, plus races for state legislative seats, the Champaign County Board, Auditor, and Circuit Clerk, and municipal electric aggregation referenda in Champaign-Urbana.

Throughout the evening, Craig was joined by Robert Rich (Director, Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, Kent Redfield (Political Science Professor, University of Illinois at Springfield), and John Jackson (Visiting Professor, Paul Simon Policy Institute at the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale).

The Election Night special was produced by Sean Powers, with assistance from Kimberlie Kranich, Celeste Quinn, Jeff Bossert, Pam Dempsey, Jill Disis, Azra Halilović, Mary Barrineau, Jack Brighton, Carina Lee, and Dan Davis. There was additional reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Willis Kern, Charlie Schlenker and Brian Mackey. The technical director was Jason Croft.

HOUR 1 +NPR News in Washington, DC +Panel discussion on the various races, campaign contributions, and the redistricting of legislative and congressional district maps +Interview with Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten at the Brookens Administrative Center about voter turnout +Update from Illinois Public Radio in Springfield +Panel discussion about the Presidential candidates

HOUR 2 +NPR News in Washington, DC +Conversation with Tom Kacich, editorial page editor of the Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette. Kacich talked about races for circuit clerk, auditor, and county board in Champaign County +Illinois Public Media's Jeff Bossert reports on the municipal electric aggregation referenda +Update from Illinois Public Radio in Springfield +Panel discussion about the 13th Congressional race, including reports from Illinois Public Media's Sean Powers and Illinois Public Radio's Willis Kern

HOUR 3 +NPR News in Washington, DC +Panel discussion about races during the night +Update from Illinois Public Radio in Springfield +Illinois Public Media's Jeff Bossert reports from the Brookens Administrative Center about results from the county races +Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey reports from Springfield about how Congressional races across the state are shaping out +Illinois Public Radio's Charlie Schlenker reports from the Double Tree Hotel in Bloomington on the 53rd Senate race between Sen. Shane Cultra (R-Onarga) and State Rep. Jason Barickman (R-Champaign)

Categories: Government, Politics


AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

Ebert Festival Lineup Includes Hanks, Welles

The lineup for Roger Ebert's Film Festival will include one of Tom Hanks' earliest movies and a classic from Orson Welles.

This year's Ebertfest in Champaign will be April 25 to 29. Ebert announced the lineup on his blog late Tuesday (http://bit.ly/GBleGT ).

The festival will screen Hanks' "Joe Versus the Volcano'' on April 25. Welles' "Citizen Kane'' will be featured on April 29.

Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt will appear at this year's festival. Oswalt will host a screening of `"Kind Hearts and Coronets'' on April 24. A film he starred in, "Big Fan,'' will be shown on April 26.

Tickets for Ebert's annual festival go on sale April 2 at the Virginia Theater in Champaign. Most festival passes are already sold.

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AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

Quinn: FEMA Denies Illinois Appeal for Assistance

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied the state's appeal for assistance after a deadly tornado and severe storms.

Quinn said in a Wednesday news release that he is disappointed with the decision and doesn't believe "it reflects the reality and devastation on the ground.''

Hundreds of homes in five southern Illinois counties were damaged or destroyed by the Feb. 29 storms that killed seven people in Harrisburg, a town of 9,000 in Saline County.

But FEMA concluded homeowners' insurance, local charities and state funds could cover those costs. Quinn appealed to the Department of Homeland Security days after FEMA turned down the aid request. FEMA later gave the state more time to make a better case for the taxpayer assistance.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 21, 2012

Body Identified as Missing Champaign Man

Champaign County Coroner Duane Nortrup said a body discovered Sunday behind a house on Hedge Road is that of Renard Jackson.

The 49-year old Champaign man was reported missing from that same neighborhood in November. Champaign Police confirmed the fingerprints from an autopsy were a positive match for Jackson. His body was discovered found under a pile of debris, which was hidden from plain view.

"The Champaign Police Department extends our deepest sympathies and condolences to Renard Jackson's family," Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb said. "We would also like to thank the community members, business owners and media outlets who heeded the call to assist the department with this search. My heart goes out to everyone who knew Renard, for it was evident that he belonged to a strong and tightly-knit community that cared for him."

The Champaign Police Department is treating this case as an active homicide investigation.

Northrup said preliminary autopsy results are pending at this time due to the suspicious circumstances of Jackson's death. An investigation by Champaign Police and the Coroner's Office is ongoing.

Categories: Biography, Government, Politics

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