Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 06, 2009

UI, Graduate Students’ Union Call on Federal Mediator

The University of Illinois and the union for graduate student workers on its Urbana campus have agreed to call in a federal mediator to help them reach a contract agreement.

The decision came Tuesday in the second bargaining session between the U of I and the Graduate Employees Organization. Administration spokeswoman Robin Kaler says they hope to eventually reach an agreement that the U of I can afford.

"We're looking to achieve a fair and equitable contract within the budgetary constraints that we face," Kaler said.

Meanwhile, G-E-O spokeswoman Peter Campbell accuses the administration of failing to reply to the contract proposal they offered at last month's bargaining meeting. Instead, he says the U of I negotiators only wanted discuss what he calls extraneous issues.

The current contract for graduate employees runs out August 15th. Campbell says they hope to keep the advances made by that contract and improve wages and benefits, especially health care.

Categories: Education, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 06, 2009

Champaign City Council Votes to Take Over Stretch of Staley Road

A 3-and-a-quarter mile stretch of Staley Road that had been under state control will now be the city of Champaign's responsibility.

Champaign didn't necessarily WANT the responsibility of caring for Staley Road from Springfield north to Bloomington Road. But Public Works Director Dennis Schmidt says IDOT had wanted to give the city the unmarked state route for years, and they finally made a deal: take over the job of maintaining that stretch of Staley Road, and IDOT would approve and help pay for new entrance points along Staley for the Sawgrass and Boulder Ridge subdivisions. The subdivision entrances have been completed --- and on Tuesday night, the Champaign City Council approved an agreement with IDOT to take over that section of Staley Road.

Councilwoman Marcie Dodds cast the only "no" vote. When asked why, the District 4 councilwoman replied, "because I think we need more arterial roads that need upkeep and maintenance like we need a hole in the head.

IDOT will give the city of Champaign 2-point-9 million dollars for future maintenance and upgrade costs. Champaign Public Works Director Schmidt says the money will go for repaving the road in the next couple of years, especially along the I-72 overpass.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 05, 2009

UI Urbana Chancellor, Native American Director Show Outrage at Exhibit Damage

University of Illinois Urbana Chancellor Richard Herman says the recent damage to a Native American exhibit are 'malicious' attacks that impact everyone in the campus community.

In a mass e-mail sent Tuesday, Herman decried the vandalism on the 'Beyond the Chief' exhibit on Nevada Avenue, the most recent occurring over the weekend. He says the U of I has the widest interpretation of free speech and expression, and will not tolerate acts of intimidation, violence or hate. And the director of the U of I's Native American House, Robert Warrior, says American Indian students on campus are echoing those comments. "They're questioning what kind of environment they're having to learn in. How safe is this place?," says Warrior. "And even if it seems physically safe to be on campus most of the time, how safe are the ideas that students are expressing? How safe do they feel, and how welcome do they feel on campus?"

Warrior notes the work of 'Beyond the Chief' artist Edgar Heap of Birds has been on display for more than 20 years in several other communities, and has remained undisturbed. He says the U of I exhibit made up of metal signs has been strengthened to make further attempts to damage the art more difficult. Herman says he's confident the culprits responsible for the damage will be caught.

Categories: Civil Rights, Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 05, 2009

State Police Hand Kaiyewu Police Shooting Report to Prosecutor

The state's attorney in Vermilion County says it will take some time to digest more than 300 pages of testimony as well as audio and video from last month's police-action shooting.

Toto Kaiyewu of Texas was shot and killed by police after a 35-mile chase that ended on I-74 near Oakwood April 6th. Police say Kaiyewu had tried to run over a Villa Grove police officer who had stopped him, then approached police with a machete when his car was stopped after the chase. Kaiyewu's family is questioning the investigation, saying Kaiyewu was not a violent person.

State's Attorney Randy Brinegar says he has the videotape from the Villa Grove patrol car as well as other audio tape and Walmart security video suggesting Kaiyewu had bought a knife at a store in downstate Flora that night - but he says he'll want to thoroughly look over the report before he decides where to proceed next. He says that could take two weeks or more depending on his workload.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 05, 2009

Large-Scale Cash Recoveries on I-57 Due to Enforcement Team, Luck

Three recent traffic stops on Interstate 57 in east-central Illinois have yielded significant amounts of cash and drugs, but it's only part of the flow of drug traffic along the highway.

So says an Illinois State Police spokesman, who says part of the purpose of an ongoing patrol team of troopers is to watch out for illegal cargoes in cars and trucks. Sergeant Bill Emery says just last week officers pulled over a vehicle with more than 100 pounds of marijuana in a luggage carrier. An earlier stop on 57 turned up 2.7 million dollars in hidden cash, with another finding nearly 600 thousand dollars.

Emery says police have to have probable cause to search a vehicle, but in these cases the drivers and passengers tipped themselves off. He says those who act unnecessarily nervous or contradict their stated travel plans raise police suspicions, and all three drivers signed consent-to-search forms.

Emery says the Strategic Enforcement Team has four troopers and a police dog working out of the Pesotum post - they vary their schedules to patrol problem areas on state roads, including I-57.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 05, 2009

Urbana City Council Will Not Protest County Wind Farm Proposal

The Urbana City Council will not join Newcomb Township in trying to block passage of a county zoning ordinance for wind turbine farms. Council members voted unanimously Monday night not to file a protest against the county board zoning proposal.

The proposal would allow the construction of large wind turbine farms on land zoned agricultural, under a special use permit. Mayor Laurel Prussing says council members support wind farms. She says wind turbines can provide an alternative energy source that dovetails with the city's support for conservation and sustainable energy. "The city will do what it can in terms of energy conservation and sustainability,"says Prussing. "But we see the production of energy as a key ingredient in solving this whole problem, and that's why we are in favor of wind energy being used."

The Champaign County Board could vote on the wind farm zoning ordinance at its May 21st meeting. The proposal is currently in committee.

The Newcomb Township Board voted last month to protest the proposal. Their protest means it will take a super-majority --- or 21 votes --- for the measure to pass the Champaign County Board. In Champaign, the city's Plan Commission will discuss the proposal at its meeting on Wednesday.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 04, 2009

Monday Morning H1N1 Update

Probable cases of swine flu in Illinois have continued their slow spread out of their original beachhead in the Chicago area.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said the state had a total of 96 probable cases and three confirmed cases as of Sunday.

DeKalb County reported its first probable case Sunday in a Northern Illinois University student. Probable cases have also been reported in Winnebago and Sangamon counties.

The Kinnikinnick School District in the Roscoe area decided Sunday to close its four schools for at least seven days after a probable case of the virus was reported. It was the first district in Winnebago County to close schools.

In Boone County, the Belvidere School District announced Friday it was closing its 12 schools after a probable case was reported.

Categories: Health
Tags: health

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 01, 2009

Confirmed, Probable H1N1 Cases Now at 54 in Illinois, 3 in Indiana

The Illinois Department of Public Health says the state now has three confirmed cases of H1N1 (swine) flu and 51 probable cases of the new virus.

Illinois health officials call a case "confirmed'' when additional testing by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backs up the state's results. Kendall County has joined the list of northern Illinois counties with probable cases. The state says Kendall has one case. No cases have been reported yet in downstate Illinois, but Indiana health officials say three cases have been found there.

Illinois has tested more than 500 specimens from patients with flu symptoms and continue to receive more samples from doctors every day.

Health officials in Illinois say the state has enough flu drugs to treat more than one million people. And Illinois can raise that to a recommended level of stockpiled flu drugs within 12 hours with a request to the federal government.

An Associated Press survey finds that more than half the states have yet to stockpile the number of flu-treatment drugs recommended.

Chicago has its own stockpile of the drugs and earlier this week received an allotment from the federal emergency stockpile. Those drugs were delivered to 40 hospitals.

A Chicago Department of Public Health spokesman says the city won't discuss specific numbers "for security purposes.'' Chamapign-Urbana Public Health District administrator Julie Pryde says supplies of medication and protective equipment are being transported to a storage area in the county that she would not name.

The government recommends that each state have enough antiviral medicine on hand to treat 25 percent of its population.

(additional information from AM 580 News)

Categories: Government, Health, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 01, 2009

UI Provost Leaves for California Post

University of Illinois provost Linda Katehi is leaving the Urbana campus after three years.

A statement from Chancellor Richard Herman's office says Katehi has accepted the chancellor's position at the University of California at Davis. Katehi was an administrator at Purdue University when she was named UIUC provost in 2006. Katehi is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering. In the statement, Herman called Katehi an individual of strong intellect, a leader and a nationally respected scholar. Herman says a search for a new provost will begin as soon as possible. UC Davis officials say Katehi's appointment there will be effective this summer pending approval by the university's Board of Regents. She holds two degrees from UCLA.

Categories: Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 01, 2009

School Board Election Recount Shows No Change

A recount of some precincts in the Champaign school district has found no change in the results of a tight school board race. County clerk's officials pored over ballots from 13 out of 52 precincts, and clerk Mark Shelden says in his blog that the results are no different than the Election Night count last month. That means Stig Lanesskog remains the winner by two votes over Lynn Stuckey. Stuckey has the ability to challenge the results in court - she's not immediately available for comment.

Categories: Education, Government, Politics

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