Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 21, 2009

Gov. Quinn’s Appointment for a State Board Steps Down

A doctor recently appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn to lead a scandal-plagued state board has withdrawn from the job because of a conflict of interest.

Quinn's office announced Tuesday that Dr. Quentin Young withdrew as chairman of the Health Facilities Planning Board because he has a minority interest in a doctor's office that owns property being leased to a health care system. Young says he is stepping down willingly.

Under state law, board members can't have business relationships with health care institutions. Young identified the conflict after his appointment last week.

Quinn had tapped Young to help resurrect the image of the board, which was caught up in the scandal that helped bring down former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 21, 2009

Judge to Blagojevich: No Reality TV

Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will have to take a pass on reality TV.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel on Tuesday refused to modify Blagojevich's bond, so the Democrat won't be able to travel to Costa Rica to appear on the show.

Zagel says Blagojevich needs to remain in the United States to help his attorneys formulate a strategy for his defense.

Blagojevich appeared in Zagel's court today. He arrived at the downtown Chicago courthouse just minutes before his hearing and was swamped by media, just like a week ago when he pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges.

Blagojevich is charged with scheming to sell or trade President Obama's old U.S. Senate seat and plotting to use the governor's office to pressure companies for campaign contributions.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 21, 2009

Late, Provisional Ballots Narrow Unit 4 Race, But Lanesskog Still Wins

The vote count is now officially over in Champaign County, and one race wound up even closer than what the Election Night count revealed.

Late absentee ballots were counted this (Tue) afternoon, with nine of them cast in the Unit 4 school board race that saw Stig Lanesskog leading Lynn Stuckey by only three votes. The count narrowed Lanesskog's win to just two votes. He says it's now time to concentrate on the school district's challenges.

"Managing through the end of the consent decree. taking advantage of the money now available from the sales tax, redistricting, restructuring plans that are going on, there's a lot going on," Lanesskog said. "So I'm hopeful we can all now focus on the important work that needs to be done in the district."

Stuckey hasn't decided if she'll seek a recount after losing by two votes out of more than five thousand cast. She says the result speaks to the importance of the ballot. "It's really about the power of the vote, and the need to get out there and vote, to be active, to be involved, to make a decision," Stuckey said.

None of the 29 extra ballots in the county were cast in Bondville, where a village board contest was decided by one vote.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 21, 2009

New Emergency Alert System for Cell Phone Users in Champaign County

You can get information about emergencies in Champaign County by email or text message through a new service being launched this week by local public service agencies

County residents can sign up for the new service at champcoprepares.com. It's similar to the emergency system the University of Illinois set up in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.

Urbana Fire Department Division Chief Tony Foster says it's easy to sign up. "It asks you general questions like your name and address, your email address, and then what phone number you would like that text or email sent to," said Foster. "It then will allow you to select weather warnings, if you want information from the University of Illinois sent to you, or something else like that. It will prompt and send that information to your wireless device."

Foster says if you work far from home, you can get information for both areas by writing in the zip codes for both places.

champcoprepares.com is getting its official unveiling this week. Foster says other counties in Illinois are also launching the service.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 21, 2009

Home Bakers Protest Champaign-Urbana Public Health Ban on Selling Their Wares at Farmers Markets

Home bakers who have been selling their goods at the Urbana farmer's market have been speaking out against a health department order that would put them out of business. For years, the city-operated Market On The Square in downtown Urbana has featured local bakers --- including many who bake in their home kitchens, which don't undergo health inspections. But this month, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District announced a ban on the sale of home baked goods at farmers markets and similar venues. The home bakers say the ban came at the last minute, as their preparations for this year's farmer's market are already underway. At Monday night's Urbana City Council meeting, Alderwoman Heather Stevenson said the ban has upset a lot of people.

"I've -- in three days --- heard from about 20 people," said Stevenson. "That's too many to not say anything."

Dan Erwin of Champaign told the city council that he's been selling baked goods made at his home kitchen at the Market in the Square for 20 years. He said the rules had stayed about the same that whole time. "And then all of a sudden, two days before we're supposed to be signing up for this season", said Erwin, "I got this letter saying, in short, you can't do this anymore."

Mayor Laurel Prussing says a memo she received last night from Public Health District Board Chair Carol Elliott seems to say that the home-baked goods are allowed at farmers' markets after all, as long as they don't involve fillings that require refrigeration. But Prussing says she'll check into the matter further. Urbana's Market on the Square opens May 2nd.

Categories: Government, Health, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 20, 2009

An Alternative to Flushing Old Medications

A free prescription-drug dropoff program is taking place this week, a year after the first effort brought in an unexpectedly high number of old drugs.

Carle RX Express locations in Champaign-Urbana, Mahomet and Monticello are collecting old, outdated or unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs all this week.

Greg Puszkiewicz is the director of the pharmacies - he says last year the stores accepted 526 pounds of medications and turned them over to the City of Urbana, which is helping sponsor the dropoff.

"The City of Urbana comes and picks it up and takes it to their facility, then the next day the EPA comes and picks it up and they take it to Texas where it's incinerated," Puszkiewicz said.

Puszkiewicz says last year, the first-ever dropoff happened just as news stories appeared about traces of pharmaceuticals found in drinking water supplies. He says that spurred patients to take action and get rid of their old drugs in a safe way, instead of flushing them down the drain or the toilet - in some cases, participants had been holding onto the medications for more than twenty years.

Categories: Community, Environment, Health

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 20, 2009

Money Smart Week” Focuses on Financial Literacy

A week full of classes and events in Champaign County is aimed at helping people guide their personal finances through the tough economy.

The Chicago Federal Reserve is kicking off Money Smart Week this week in several Illinois communities. It's meant to boost financial literacy in a time when it's more important than ever.

One of the advisory committee members in Champaign County is Parkland College president Tom Ramage, who says students and their families can use the courses to chart their immediate and long-term financial futures.

"This gives students the opportunity to get direct answers to specific questions they might have in a short, free -- which is a key word -- experience where they can spend a couple hours, or a couple days, on a specific topic that's relevant, timely to them," Ramage said.

Nearly 25 community agencies, banks, schools and other groups are putting on classes and seminars ranging from basic saving and investing to making budgets and preventing against identity theft.

You can find a schedule of events at the Chicago Fed's website, moneysmartweek.org.

Categories: Business, Economics, Education

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 20, 2009

Marrying Technology with the Arts and Humanities

From your computer screen to your cellphone to much of what you hear on this radio station, the world is filled with digital media that make it possible for people to express themselves in ways unheard of a generation ago. Now, the University of Illinois is launching a new institute dedicated to promoting arts that use digital media. It's called the edream Institute. AM 580's Jim Meadows spoke with its director, Dr. Donna Cox.

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AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 17, 2009

UIS Chancellor Caught Up in Athletics Controversy

The campus senate at the University of Illinois at Springfield is calling for an outside investigation of the school's athletic program, after incidents which led to the resignation of three coaches last month. But the campus senate is holding off on a vote expressing no confidence in the university's chancellor.

The university is already conducting an internal investigation into the controversy, which prompted the school to call the women's softball team back from a trip to Florida, but officials have declined to discuss details.

Today, the campus senate, which includes faculty, staff and students, passed a resolution to conduct a separate independent investigation. They were also scheduled to consider a vote expressing no confidence in Chancellor Richard Ringeisen.

Before the vote, the senate removed all mention of Athletic Director Rodger Jehlicka from the discussions and is delaying a no confidence vote for Ringeisen until the external investigation is completed. Ringeisen says the school must address concerns about the controversy, but he says he can't elaborate on what happened.

"If you think that a chancellor enjoys not being able to share details with people so that the accusations will stop, you're wrong," Ringeisen said

Ringeisen says if he did reveal details of the incident, he would be risking a lawsuit. The campus senate hopes to have the results of the independent investigation by the fall.

Categories: Biography, Education, Sports

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 17, 2009

A Longtime Health Care Advocate Takes Over a Troubled State Board

Illinois's governor has appointed a longtime advocate of universal health care to a troubled state board. The move comes amid questions about whether the board should even exist.

Quentin Young will chair the state's Health Facilities Planning Board. The board regulates where the facilities can be built or taken away. Critics say the board stifles competition ... but Young says a little planning will lead to a fairer system.

"There's no perfect way, obviously, to have balance between regulation and competition. But this planning agency is an attempt to control the devastating cost of health care," Young said.

The board has been a venue for graft and kickbacks, involving close associates of former Governor Rod Blagojevich. Congressman Mark Kirk suggests abolishing the board, calling it, quote: "an opportunity for total corruption." Kirk is thought to be mulling a run for governor.

Incumbent Pat Quinn says the key is appointing trustworthy people. Quentin Young has been a civil rights activist, Pat Quinn's personal physician.


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