Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 24, 2012

52nd Senate Candidates Now Focused on Fall Contest

The two candidates now remaining in next fall's race for the 52nd District Senate race have different approaches on how to solve Illinois' fiscal problems.

But neither Republican John Bambenek nor incumbent Democrat Mike Frerichs want to focus on why Alan Nudo dropped his bid for the GOP nomination.

Nudo announced his withdrawal from the race, and resignation from the Champaign County Board, after a political blogger accused him of supporting Frerichs in the past, by co-signing checks to a previous campaign.

Frerichs says he's been asked whether Nudo signed checks, but the Senator says he's not interested in fighting that fight.

"Democrats have taken action to begin to right the ship of state here in Illinois," Frerichs said. "What I think we need to focus on though is fairness in our tax system, and some progressivity in our tax system. I think there is some disagreement, but I'm looking forward to a debate season where we'll outline those differences and the voters will have a choice next fall."

Nudo says he signed the campaign donation checks as part of his job handling day to day accounting for a development firm, and accused Frerichs and Bambenek of collusion in making the charge. But he later said his accusation was a "mistake".

In a statement released Sunday, Bambenek says he wants to unify the Republican Party. He called Nudo 'a respected member of the community whose leadership will be missed on the county board.' But Bambenek also hoped to earn the support of some Nudo supporters.

"At this point in the general election race, what will be a very high-profile race, I would need all the help that I can get," he said. "I do hope to earn the support of those who have supported Alan, and those around him."

In his statement, Bambenek referred to his fall opponent as Democrat 'tax-hike' Frerichs, saying the best way to fix those problems is not through raising taxes, but to cut waste, fraud and abuse. Nudo didn't return a call seeking comment Monday.

UPDATE: Bambenek issued a statement Tuesday, concluding that Nudo played no role in the donation to Frerichs' campaign, and is neither an owner nor a decision-maker for Triple-R Development.

"I regret that this information was disseminated by my campaign and/or supporters before all the facts behind the issue were fully vetted," Bambenek said. "I wish Mr. Nudo the best in his future endeavors and am grateful for his leadership in the Republican Party and community at large.

Categories: Economics, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 24, 2012

UI President Comments on Email Scandal, Faculty Relations

University of Illinois President Michael Hogan is speaking publicly for the first time since the resignation of his former chief of staff, Lisa Troyer.

An investigation connected Troyer as the source of a pair of anonymous emails sent to a faculty advisory group, urging them not to investigate who leaked a report critical of parts of Hogan's enrollment management plan.

Hogan is defending how he handled the situation. Echoing the conclusion of the investigation linking Troyer to the messages, Hogan said he didn't do anything wrong.

"That doesn't mean I'm not responsible," he said. "I'm responsible for everything sooner or later. It's a problem - serious problem - and we have them on a regular basis. They end up on my desk, and it's my responsibility to deal with it."

When asked if he plans to find a new chief of staff to replace Lisa Troyer, Hogan said, "I think eventually I'll have to have someone playing that kind of role."

Hogan met Monday with members of the Senate Executive Committee on the Urbana campus, which is preparing to release a letter assessing the case of the anonymous e-mails. Committee Vice-Chair Joyce Tolliver said she is concerned about the culture of "opposition and intimidation" in Hogan's office that she believes may have led Troyer to think that it was alright to send the messages.

"What we've seen is sending representatives of his office to take notes on just those aspects of our senate discussions that have to do with issues that are close to him, and then reporting back to him about which senators are saying things that may be problematic," Tolliver said.

Hogan said he wants to start meeting with the Senate Executive Committee more frequently to improve communication with faculty. But U of I Professor Nicholas Burbules, who is a member of the Senate Executive Committee, said having the president attend more meetings isn't the solution.

"The president seems to approach every meeting with a very strong idea in mind of what he wants to do; often he is telling us what he wants to do," Burbules said. "He'll listen to what we say, but the outcome is almost always the same that he's going to do, and that doesn't feel like a real dialogue."

Burbules points to concerns that have been raised over President Hogan's enrolment management plan, which includes re-branding the university's three campuses as one entity. U of I faculty have criticized it, saying a centralized enrollment process could weaken each campus' ability to match resources to student needs.

Speaking after his meeting with the Senate Executive Committee, Hogan admitted that the re-branding effort has not been properly understood, and for now, won't be considered.

"There's so much concern about what that meant, we're just going to take it off the table as we move forward," he said. "We'll refer that probably to the council of provost to wrestle with that and report back in due course.

Categories: Biography, Education

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 23, 2012

Kirk Surgeon Skeptical About Full Recovery

A neurosurgeon says Sen. Mark Kirk's prospects for a full physical recovery from a stroke that's affected his left side "are not great."

But Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Dr. Richard Fessler said the Illinois Republican's chances for a full mental recovery are good. Fessler says Kirk's job is "cerebral'' and he believes the functions required to do it "are going to be fine.''

The 52-year-old Kirk underwent surgery yesterday to alleviate pressure on his brain after doctors discovered he had a tear in his carotid artery and had suffered the stroke.

Fessler said the stroke affected Kirk's ability to move his left arm, possibly his left leg and could cause paralysis of his face. But doctors say Kirk appears to recognize those around him and is responding to commands.

Categories: Government, Politics
Tags: government

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 23, 2012

Union Takes Right-to-Work Protest to IN House Speaker’s Home

Dozens of northwestern Indiana union members have taken their protest over pending right-to-work legislation in the General Assembly to the Indianapolis home of Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma.

Meanwhile, at the capitol, the Indiana House voted down a motion to kill the bill on a 59-39 vote.

Buses carried members of the Munster-based Local 41 of the Laborers' International Union to Bosma's house on the far northeast side of Indianapolis. Business Manager Kevin Roach says House Republicans want to hurt unions at the dinner table, so his local decided to take the dispute to Bosma's.

The proposed law would prevent unions from collecting mandatory representation fees from workers. The demonstration has remained peaceful, but state troopers were on the scene.

Bosma's spokeswoman referred to the demonstration as "bullying'' and says it won't influence the speaker. Democrats ended a boycott over the bill Monday and returned to the House floor prior to the vote Monday afternoon.

(With additional reporting from Illinois Public Media)

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 23, 2012

Ind. House Dems End 3rd Right-to-Work Boycott

Indiana House Democrats have ended their third boycott of divisive right-to-work legislation but are making no promises they won't stall again.

The Democrats' return on Monday gave House Republicans the number of lawmakers needed to take another vote on the proposal to ban unions from collecting mandatory representation fees from workers.

Republicans want Indiana to become the first state in more than a decade to approve right-to-work legislation. Supporters say the measure would bring more jobs, but opponents say it is aimed at breaking unions and would depress wages for all workers.

Democrats blocked the measure with a five-week walkout last year. They want a statewide voter referendum in November to decide the bill's fate.

Republican leaders say such a referendum isn't allowed under the state constitution.

Categories: Biography, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 23, 2012

Emanuel Offers Obama Advice on State of the Union

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered President Barack Obama some advice on his upcoming State of the Union address Thursday during a panel discussion at the University of Chicago.

Emanuel, who served as Mr. Obama's chief of staff before leaving the White House in 2010, said Tuesday's State of the Union Address is the last time Obama will have to outline his plans for a second term. He said he wants to see his former boss do just that.

"Make it all about the future, because elections are all about tomorrow. They're not about the past," said Emanuel. "If you are going forward looking through the rear view mirror, they'll catch you on that, and you'll have an accident."

Emanuel discouraged the president from using the State of the Union address to detail his accomplishments since taking office three years ago. Emanuel called Mr. Obama an inspirational leader, and said using that image will be one of Mr. Obama's strengths in the upcoming speech.

"If he's big and goes to his strengths as an inspirational leader, he plays to what I think are his more dominant strengths," said Emanuel.

The State of the Union address is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Categories: Biography, Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 23, 2012

Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk Undergoes Surgery After Stroke

(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), 52, has suffered a stroke and has undergone surgery.

Kirk checked himself into Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois on Saturday. He was later transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where tests revealed that he had suffered a stroke.

Doctors say the stroke occurred on the right side of Kirk's brain, which controls movement of the left arm and left leg. A statement from Kirk's office said he had a tear in the carotid artery on the right side of his neck. Carotid arteries carry blood to the brain. He underwent surgery early Monday morning to relieve brain swelling.

Kirk is in intensive care, but doctors say they are happy with his status, noting that the Senator appeared to recognize those around him and respond to commands.

A statement from Kirk's office said the surgery was successful and that doctors are "very confident'' in his recovery based on his age and health.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) released a statement, saying he expects Kirk will make a speedy recovery.

"I was stunned to learn that Mark suffered a stroke," Durbin said. "I have reached out to his staff and offered to do anything I can to help with his Senate duties."

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn also issued a statement about Kirk's condition:

"Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the senator and his family as we wish him a swift and strong recovery. We can all take comfort knowing that as a Navy commander, Sen. Kirk knows how to fight and he will fight through this to return to his work on behalf of the people of Illinois as quickly as possible."

Kirk at times exaggerated his record in the Navy Reserves. He incorrectly said he had been named intelligence officer of the year and took part in the invasion of Iraq. He said he came under fire while on a military flight but wouldn't provide details and stopped making the claim when questioned about it.

"I'm not perfect. I made a mistake and then apologized," Kirk said in a 2010 interview with The Associated Press. "Going forward, the question we have and the choice we make as to who our senator is has a lot less to do with what happened in the 20th century and a lot more with what's happening in the 21st century."

Kirk ended up filling President Barack Obama's old Senate seat in 2010, defeating Democrat Alexi Giannoulias in a close race. Kirk previous served in the U.S. House of Representatives for about 10 years.

He is divorced and has no children.

(Photo by Sean Powers/WILL)

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 22, 2012

Fighting Illini Lose 2nd Straight to Wisconsin. 67-63

Illinois' Basketball team has now lost two straight, including an upset at home Sunday at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers.

The 67-63 loss also breaks a 14-game home winning streak dating back into last season. Meyers Leonard led Illinois with 16 points and 11 rebounds, followed by Joseph Bertrand with 15 points.

The team has to wait until Saturday to try and get back on the winning track, taking on the Golden Gophers in Minnesota. Leonard dismissed notions of being too tired in a game that relied little on the Illini bench.

"Between me, D.J. (Richardson), Joe (Bertrand), and Brandon (Paul), we played a lot of minutes," Leonard said. "Obviously, you'll get a little fatigued with your legs and the contant pounding throughout the game, but I wouldn't say that. We're all really good athletes and able to play that many minutes. Those couple plays that made a difference - we didn't make them and they did. And we just have to get better, and make sure next time that happens, we make them."

Jordan Taylor had 19 points in Wisconsin's fourth straight win. Badgers Coach Bo Ryan says his team has to do the little things to succeed.

"We don't strike fear in a whole lot of hearts when we show up on the court, even though Jordan (Taylor) probably doesn't realize it," Ryan said. "But there's a lot of good players out there on every team that we play. But hustle opportunities are things should be trying to get, and every team should play off of. That's the way the game should be played."

Sunday's Assembly Hall crowd of over 16-thousand 600 was also the first sellout of the 2011-2012 season.

Categories: Education, Sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - January 21, 2012

Alan Nudo Drops Out of State Senate Race

Champaign County Board member Alan Nudo has dropped out of the race for the 52nd Senate District.

In a statement posted on his campaign website, Nudo said:

"I have made the decision to withdraw my name in the primary for the 52nd State Senate District. I want to thank all of the great people supporting me from the bottom of my heart. Many, many people have been helpful and kind. This decision is what's best for me and my family at this time."

Nudo is president of the development firm, Robeson's Inc, and has served on the Champaign County Board since 2007.

Nudo's withdrawal comes after a charge made on the political blog Prairie State Report earlier this month. Blogger Todd Warner Houston charged that Nudo had supported Frerichs by signing checks to his campaign in 2007 and '08. The News-Gazette reported Saturday that Nudo explained that he co-signed the checks for Triple R Development LLC, as part of his duties at Robeson's Inc, which handles Triple R's day-to-day business operations.

The newspaper also reported that Nudo subsequently accused Bambanek and Frerichs of working together, since information supplied by Frerichs appeared on a blog that Bambanek hosted through his consulting firm. In reporting on Nudo's withdrawal from the state Senate race, the News-Gazette quoted Nudo as saying those remarks were "a mistake on my part. I should have tried to stay above the fray and explain it as best I could."

The News-Gazette also reports that Nudo plans to step down from his Champaign County Board seat.

On both his Facebook and Twitter pages, Bambenek writes, "I wish all the best to Alan Nudo (@alannudo). He is a good man and we will miss his great leadership on the Champaign County Board."

Nudo's departure from the state Senate race leaves John Bambenek the only candidate running as a Republican in the 52nd District. Bambenek will face incumbent Democrat Mike Frerichs in the November general election.

The newly redrawn district includes Champaign-Urbana and Danville.

(Story updated at 10:52 AM Jan 22, 2012)

(Photo by Sean Powers/WILL)

Categories: Biography, Government, Politics

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