News Around Illinois - February 20, 2020

 
Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

Blagojevich Praises, Endorses Trump As Justice Reformer

CHICAGO  — Former Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich gushed about Donald Trump a day after the Republican president commuted his sentence for political corruption. Blagojevich spoke Wednesday outside his Chicago home, praising Trump throughout his remarks. A large sign hanging on a porch outside his home expressed gratitude to the Republican Trump. It read, “Thanks Mr. President.” The former governor walked out of a federal prison in Colorado on Tuesday after serving eight years of a 14-year sentence for wide-ranging political corruption and just hours after Trump officially commuted his sentence. - Associated Press

Women Will Share Empowering Stories In Champaign This Weekend

URBANA - “That’s What She Said” will take the stage at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign this Saturday night with a series of performances by women from the local community. The speakers will share personal stories in a monologue format in what will be the group’s sixth installment in the C-U area. In addition to live events featuring women in the community, the She Said project produces a podcast in partnership with WILL/Illinois Public Media based on previous live events. The group also helps empower teen girls to tell their stories through a program “That’s What Teens Say” taking place later this month. - Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

Former IL US Attorney Calls On US Attorney General To Resign

PEORIA - A former US Attorney from central Illinois is part of the call for Attorney General William Barr's resignation. More than 1,000 former Department of Justice officials say Barr's interference in the sentencing of Roger Stone shows he's allowing politics to corrupt the judicial process.​ Jim Lewis retired from the Justice Department in 2016. He says it wasn't the fault of the federal prosecutors who presented the case.​ "They had reported it accurately," Then, all of the sudden, for one reason or another, someone put their thumb on the scale and the work they had done was undone." The four prosecutors handling the case then resigned.​ Lewis says the Stone case is just a "trigger" reviving larger concerns about the culture within the department.​ - Dana Vollmer, WCBU News

Proposed Bill Would Allow Affordable Housing Residents To Have Pets

SPRINGFIELD - A state lawmaker wants to keep Illinoisans living in affordable housing from having to give up their pets. The legislation would require housing authorities and state-subsidized public housing to allow tenants to keep a cat or dog. State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) says everyone in Illinois should be able to enjoy the benefits of having a pet. “They influence social, emotional, and cognitive development in children and they promote an active lifestyle," said Holmes. If passed, the legislation would still let property owners make rules for pets such as requiring registration, vaccination, and sterilization and complying with noise and sanitation standards. And if a pet causes an injury, the owner would be held responsible, not the housing provider. - Olivia Mitchell, NPR Illinois

Illinois Restricts How Students Are Secluded And Restrained

CHICAGO — The Illinois State Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the state's most restrictive permanent rules that ban the use of locked seclusion rooms and prohibit schools from using prone restraint. The new rules approved on Tuesday specify that seclusion may not be used “as discipline or punishment, convenience for staff, retaliation, a substitute for appropriate educational or behavioral support, a routine safety matter, or to prevent property damage.” The vote comes after a Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois investigation in November revealed extensive misuse of isolated timeout and restraint in Illinois schools. The new rules ban locks on rooms and employees from holding the doors shut. - Associated Press

EPA Orders Cleanup Of Zinc Smelter Site In DePue

DEPUE — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued an administrative order to those responsible to clean up contaminated soil at a site near the northern Illinois town of DePue, where a zinc smelter and fertilizer plant was once located. The city of DePue on Tuesday announced the issuance of the order by the EPA to TCI Pacific Communications and CBS/Westinghouse. The order requires what the EPA calls ``potentially responsible parties" to clean up a portion of the New Jersey Zinc/Mobil Chemical Corp. site. The site is contaminated with elevated levels of zinc, lead, arsenic, cadmium and other metals.   - Associated Press

Story source: Illinois Newsroom