December 01, 2014

Analyst: Gas Prices Falling Faster Than Expected

Gasoline prices will continue to fall in Illinois, thanks to the decision last week by OPEC nations to keep oil prices low; that’s the forecast from analyst Patrick DeHaan with the price-tracking website

A Los Angeles Police officer wears an on-body camera during a demonstration for media.

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

December 01, 2014

Obama Wants More Police Wearing Body Cameras

President Barack Obama is proposing a three-year, $263 million spending package to boost law enforcement training and police department reform.

Undated photo of James Kilgore

(Photo courtesy of James Kilgore)

December 01, 2014

Report: U of I Kilgore Rehiring Means Loss Of Donor Funds

James KilgoreAllowing embattled professor James Kilgore to resume teaching at the University of Illinois could mean a hit to the school’s finances.

Last month, The U of I’s Board of Trustees determined that individual campus units are free to hire adjunct, part-time instructors under existing hiring practices. 

That includes Kilgore, who had been a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 1970s, and had spent five years in prison for his part in a bank robbery in which someone was killed.

Kilgore’s contract had not been renewed over the summer after his past became public.

The Chicago Tribune reports that at least one major donor plans to withdraw his support if Kilgore is allowed to teach. 

Chicago businessman Richard Hill says he’ll pull about $4.5 million in donations to the Chicago campus’ bioengineering department. 

The Tribune said Hill last year pledged the largest gift in the history of the U of I's College of Engineering - $6.5 million.  He had given about $2 million so far.

In a letter to top university officials, Hill said he ‘no longer wished to be associated with the U of I' after the board’s decision. He told the paper in later e-mails that money is available if the university "does the right thing.’

Officers wear riot gear walking through a park in downtown St. Louis.

(Tom Gannam/AP)

December 01, 2014

Obama To Hold Meetings Today On Ferguson

After another day of mostly peaceful protests in Ferguson, Missouri, President Obama is scheduled to meet with civil rights leaders to discuss mistrust of police in communities of color.

Current U of I President Robert Easter, incoming president Timothy Killeen, and Kileen's wife Roberta Johnson in Chicago

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

December 01, 2014

New U of I President Might Begin Work Early

Incoming University of Illinois system president Timothy Killeen says he's negotiating to begin his new job earlier than his official July 1 start date.

Illinois state borders and waterways

(Graphic courtesy of Kenneth Olson, U of I)

December 01, 2014

How Illinois Might Have Looked

Illinois became a state in 1818, but figuring out its shape was not a simple process.  While most people hear Illinois and think Chicago - it could have been without the city, if not for advocacy and politics.

An article in Illinois Issues magazine explores the issue, researched by U of I professor Kenneth Olsen. Rachel Otwell sat down to talk with the author, Eliot Clay, about his article.

Can you imagine Illinois without Chicago? What if Illinois had been a border state during the Civil War? If federal lawmakers had their way back in 1818, it could have very well been a reality.

Professor Olson, who teaches natural resources and environmental science at the University of Illinois, detailed how the combined works of two men and natural geology helped shape our state into the form we know today. “The eastern boundary with Indiana was already set, and it was a line between two bodies of water, Lake Michigan down to the Ohio River through some tributaries,” says Olson. “The story in the southern tip relates to when the Mississippi used to flow farther west into Missouri, and then there was an earthquake, a narrow channel was opened, melt waters went through and the Mississippi was realigned.”

It is fairly common to have a state’s shape based on naturally occurring formations, like the Mississippi River on our western border, but when Olson began looking toward Wisconsin, it became evident that other factors were at play.

“And then the other one was the northern boundary. It was a straight line that had nothing to do directly with water, except the line was moved because they wanted to link the Great Lake watershed and shipping with the Mississippi River.”

Olson detailed that the advocacy for Illinois’ northern border came primarily from two men, one of whom had lived in the Illinois territory for many years before Illinois’ statehood became a topic of discussion. “Nathaniel Pope had certain responsibilities in the territory, and he had a brother who was a senator in Kentucky. Between the two of them, they convinced Congress to move the border up 51 miles, partly so there would be lakefront access to the Great Lakes, partly for the linking of these two waterway systems.”

Pope wanted Illinois to contain a water system that would benefit the state’s economy, but a factor that would end up deciding the northern border would not be fully realized for a few decades. “In order to get votes in the Congress, there was a concern about this North-South conflict, which 40 years later became the beginning of the Civil War, and they really wanted a waterway through a Northern state,” Olson says. “By adding the 51 miles, they ensured that Illinois would be a Northern state and not a border state.”

The work of Nathaniel Pope and his brother profoundly changed the shape, and more importantly the history, of Illinois. Olson says if Congress had enacted its original plan and the Mississippi River had not changed course, Illinois would be minus Chicago, Rockford, Moline, Rock Island, Peoria, Metropolis and Cairo. Olson’s and his colleague Fred Christensen’s work was published in Journal of Earth Science and Engineering in July.

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