Illinois Public Media News
Urbana city leaders have come up with new money targeted for the Champaign County Convention and Visitors' Bureau, after the city's mayor vetoed those funds in July.
Laurel Prussing opted not to cast a vote Monday night, when the Urbana City Council initially backed funding the CVB at a much lower level. The other members unanimously backed the nearly $19-thousand in funding. The city formerly contributed $72-thousand annually. Prussing says the $18-thousand-800 in township funds could have gone for better uses, including social service agencies and what it owes for raises through the city's AFSCME union.
The mayor says she's 'appalled' at how the CVB threatened to kill funding for the Illinois Marathon in four years if Urbana didn't pledge money. Prussing says the bureau isn't in charge of the marathon, or an upcoming theater festival planned for next year at the U of I's Krannert Center.
"People come to the marathon, regardless of the CVB, and people come to the Krannert Center regardless of the CVB," she said. "So they take credit for other work that other people have done. It's kind of unfortunate. They can't give us good information on what they've actually brought to the city of Urbana."
While the city council will look for more accountability from the CVB, Alderwoman Heather Stevenson contends the agency does keep vistors in town for a while once they're here.
"People don't come to the U of I football games because of the CVB, but they do stay because of things that the CVB to make sure that people are able to enjoy their time one they're here," said Stevenson. "So those are numbers that can't be tracked."
The city council will take a final vote on the CVB funding next Monday.
PersonalCare is terminating its contract with Christie Clinic, effective January 1st.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the clinic announced the health insurance contractor's plans.
The end of the contract will impact state workers and retirees, and those connected to other PersonalCare plans.
People in Champaign County who want to have uninterrupted access to Christie Clinic physicians are being urged to switch to Health Alliance HMO coverage or Health Link's Open Access Plans in the next enrollment period.
(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)
The Chicago White Sox will have a new manager. Pitching coach Don Cooper will step in to manage the team for the final two games of the season. The team announced that it had agreed to terms on a multiyear contracts with Cooper and first base coach Harold Baines. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was released from his contract on Monday to pursue other opportunities.
Guillen had one year left in his deal and was seeking an extension with a pay raise. He had met with owner Jerry Reinsdorf for about 30 minutes earlier in the day.
Guillen said the move shouldn't be blamed on anyone. He requested to be released from his contract with the team.
"Let me go and do what I want to do and the best for me and my family," Guillen said in the press conference Monday night.
Guillen also expressed disappointment at the way the Sox have been playing this season and gratitude for his fans.
"I know they're not going to forget me. They can't. Even if they want to, they can't. They walk through the ball park, my picture will be there. I hope they don't take it down," Guillen joked.
The outspoken Guillen led the Sox to win two American league central titles as well as the World Series in 2005.
The White Sox said in a release they retain the right to compensation should Guillen accept a managerial position with another major league team for the 2012 season. The Florida Marlins are expecting to snag Guillen as their new Manager as soon as Wednesday after Jack McKeon announced Monday night that he was retiring.
Contrary to earlier reports, bench coach Joey Cora will not manage the team for the season's two final games. In fact, Cora won't come to the park for those two games. Cora is a close friend and former teammate of Guillen's and could join Guillen if he takes the manager's job with the Florida Marlins.
Mike Gellinger will serve as bench coach for the final two games.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
At the 5th annual Hunger Symposium on Sept. 26, 2011 in Champaign, food insecurity took front stage.
Two million people in Illinois deal with food insecurity, and in eastern Illinois that number is about 80,000, according to a study released by the group, Feeding America. It's a problem that's being addressed through programs like the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Local food pantries are also working hard to feed people who need food assistance. At the 5th annual Hunger Symposium on Sept. 26, 2011 in Champaign, food insecurity took front stage. The event was put on by the Eastern Illinois Food Bank and the Family Resiliency Center. Illinois Public Media's Jeff Bossert talks with Sean Powers, who attended the meeting.
Authorities in Champaign County are investigating a report of a female body discovered on Rising Road, just outside of Champaign early Tuesday morning.
Sheriff Dan Walsh says a motorist discovered the body at 7:45 a.m. just north of Bradley Avenue. The body was about 100 feet from the road.
The sheriff says the woman appeared to be 20-40 years in age, and between 5'2" and 5'5" in height. Walsh says it will likely be Wednesday before the county coroner's office can conduct an autopsy.
Rising Road between Bradley and Cardinal Road is closed as a result, and Walsh says he expects it to be closed through at least noon. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Champaign County Sheriff's Department at 384-1213 or Crimestoppers at 373-TIPS.
Community leaders and activists have started putting together a list of qualities they want in a new Champaign police chief.
Many of the ideas have already been discussed, but some of the 35 who attended a forum put together by Champaign's Community and Police Partnership (CCAPP) Monday night say they're on the same page. Words like public trust, communication, and integrity were repeated throughout the 1-hour event. City leaders and activists spent most of last night's forum in those small groups answering two questions: What are the top 5 challenges facing Champaign's next police chief, and what four skills should that person possess?
Reverend Jerome Chambers, a former Champaign County NAACP president, says he wants someone who has the people skills to generate a dialogue with the community.
"Be as transparent with them as possible, yet - in leading, have the kind of skill set that says: 'I hear you, because you are important. And how we're going to approach this is not to be stereotypical," said Chambers.
Craig Williams says the next chief shouldn't shy away from changing the ranks within the department.
"If somebody's not doing their job, or if you get so many complaints on an officer, don't be afraid to remove that officer of discipline that officer," he said. "In any organization, discipline is very necessary."
City council member Will Kyles says it's important the city set the new chief up for success, recognizing that the person won't be a savior when he first or she first takes office.
Top challenges for the successor to retiring Chief R.T. Finney were also identified. They include dealing with the increase in youth violence (ages 14-25), further healing in the wake of the 2009 police shooting of teen Kiwane Carrington, and social networking.
The recommendations of the panels will be passed on to a search committee for new chief, as well as the city manager's office. Finney will step down on January 20th.
A judge has denied Catholic Charities' request to keep doing adoption and foster care placements for the state of Illinois.
Catholic Charities has worked with the state for decades, currently handling about 2000 foster care cases. Sangamon County Judge John Schmidt, who earlier had ruled Catholic Charities had no legal expectation to keep the state contracts, refused to reconsider that decision.
The religious organization said it won't place children with unmarried couples. The issue came to a head when Illinois legalized civil unions back in June. State officials said the group's stance is discriminatory.
Peter Breen, an attorney representing Catholic Charities in the case, said the judge's latest ruling paves the way for an appeal, which is likely to be filed soon, although he gave no timeline. Breen said the group will also ask for a stay, so that it can continue operations while the legal process plays out.
Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services is ready to begin transitioning cases elsewhere, but an attorney for Catholic Charities said it will ask the appeals court to put a hold on any changes.
The group currently oversees hundreds of foster care parents for the state. Diocese in Springfield, Belleville, Peoria and Joliet are part of the lawsuit.
A federal lawsuit is challenging an Indiana law that caps the state's liability for damages at $5 million in the collapse of a stage at the Indiana State Fair.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis on behalf of the estates of three of the seven people killed in the Aug. 13 collapse and three others who were injured. It seeks class-action status on behalf as many as 70 plaintiffs.
The lawsuit says the state liability cap violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment, federal laws and the Indiana Constitution.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller says he will defend the liability cap and has brought in victim compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg to help distribute the $5 million to victims fairly and equitably.
(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)
On Friday, President Barack Obama unveiled a plan that would allow states to reject certain provisions in the federal No Child Left Behind act.
The measure, which was signed into law by former President George W. Bush 2002, sought to make schools more accountable for student performance and get better qualified teachers into classrooms.
But President Obama said the law's heavy reliance on annual testing isn't working, which why he announced waivers for states if they offer their own plans that meet federal testing standards.
"We can't let another generation of young people fall behind because we didn't have the courage to recognize what doesn't work, admit it, and replace it with something that does," Obama said. "Our kids only get one shot at a decent education. They cannot afford to wait any longer. So, given that Congress cannot act, I am acting."
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said the plan would not undermine efforts in Congress because the waivers could serve as a bridge until Congress acts.
The Illinois State Board of Education is looking to opt out of some of the No Child Left Behind requirements. The group's spokeswoman, Mary Fergus, said the law isn't a realistic indicator of student success. She said last year, more than half of Illinois' schools failed to make adequate yearly progress under the law
"That includes a lot of really good schools, high schools that are sometimes named among the best American high schools," Fergus said. "We have done a lot of the groundwork to be a good candidate for this waiver by adopting the standards and implementing them, passing some laws that tie student growth to teacher evaluations, and working with teachers and educators across the state on that evaluation model."
No Child Left Behind sets out a goal for all of the nation's elementary and secondary students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014, or risk losing federal funding. Duncan has said more than 80 percent of schools will not be able to meet that goal.
Angela Smith, the principal at Franklin Middle School in Champaign, was feet away from the president during his announcement about the waivers. Smith was invited with other educators to come to the White House. She said while No Child Left Behind has created more accountability in the classroom, she said it has also set up standards that rise each year and are difficult for schools to meet.
"With going through with the re-authorization, I'm hoping that they can continue to hear what's happening at the school level, and they can bring people together and come up with a solution that's going to be good for kids," Smith said. "This is an opportunity for Champaign schools to step up and say, 'Here's what we did to be accountable, here's some systems that we've put into place, here's some results and evidence.' We could really be leaders in the state, I believe."
It is expected that most states will apply for the waivers, which will be given to qualified states early next year.
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
A federal judge has delayed the sentencing date for ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
A notice posted electronically Monday at the U.S. District Court in Chicago says simply that Blagojevich's Oct. 6 sentencing date has been "stricken until further order by the court.'' It doesn't offer a reason for the delay.
There had been speculation that the impeached governor's sentencing could be pushed back because of a scheduling conflict with another trial.
The trial of a one-time fundraiser for Blagojevich, William Cellini, is set to start on Oct. 3. U.S. District Judge James Zagel is the judge in both cases. A new date wasn't immediately announced.
Blagojevich's attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, says a federal judge is likely to set the convicted former governor's new sentencing date for late October or early November. He says Judge James Zagel did put off the sentencing because it conflicted Cellini's trial.
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