State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois

The University of Illinois Springfield tenure and tenure track faculty is on strike today.  The union representing about 170 professors has been negotiating for months, trying to come to terms on its first contract with the school. The union members authorized a strike a couple of weeks ago. Lynn Fisher, President of the UIS United Faculty union and an associate sociology/anthropology professor, and talked with Illinois Public Radio’s Dusty Rhodes about the issues that led to the walkout. 

  WOODSTOCK, Ill. (AP) - Officials in a northeastern Illinois county are starting a program to help fast-track treatment for drug addiction.  

     The program allows drug users to enter police stations, turn over drugs without consequences and get help entering a treatment center.  

    It's called "A Way Out" and those without insurance won't be turned away. The McHenry County Mental Health Board gave $75,000 for treatment costs for those without insurance.

    CHICAGO (AP) - Former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will visit Chicago for a community meeting to discuss their planned library and museum.

    The Obama Foundation announced Monday the former first family will host a round-table discussion Wednesday to "update the community" on the progress of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park on Chicago's South Side. The Obamas are also expected to hear from community members on their ideas for the library.

   FREEPORT, Ill. - Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner has launched a newborn support program.

     The pilot home-visit program is called Illinois-Family -Connects. It is administered by the Stephenson County Health Department and is available to families with new babies. Gov. Bruce Rauner's office announced the launch Monday.

    Diana Rauner says offering every new parent a home visit to provide information, support and resources can help children thrive.

  DECATUR, Ill. - The weekend downpour didn't do farmers in central Illinois any favors.

    Farmers and those who track farming in the region say they’re  still assessing how much damage was done by the three inches of rain that fell in Macon County Saturday and Sunday.

     The rain may have washed away planting some farmers had already achieved or delayed planting for farmers who haven't planted yet.

Parkland Seeks Judgement On Professor Trustee

May 2, 2017
Rochelle Harden for Parkland Trustee / Facebook

Shortly after seating a faculty member on its board of trustees, Parkland College in Champaign has formally asked a court if that move is legal. 

Parkland College’s attorney filed a petition in Champaign County Circuit Court. It seeks a declaratory judgment on whether state law allows Parkland English professor Rochelle Harden to be a trustee at the college where she teaches.

The city of Macomb will spend more money than it brings in its new budget year that began Monday, May 1. City revenues are down and some expenses associated with employee health care and retirement are up. Overall the city’s general fund will be unbalanced by about $538,000 this fiscal year.

Tenured and tenure-track professors at the University of Illinois Springfield are on strike starting today.  Nearly 170 professors belong to the union that will take to the picket line this morning. 

Flickr Creative Commons/dieselboii

The state budget impasse has left Illinois months behind in payment to downstate mass transit agencies. That’s led to cuts in service from Kankakee to Jacksonville.  The agencies are funded in part by local sales tax collections. But that money has to pass through state government. Even after another $19.3 million dollars was released today, the Illinois comptroller’s office says the state still owes transit agencies $70 million dollars.  

The University of Illinois Flash Index measured the state’s economy for April at 104.3, down a tenth of a point from March.  Any number above 100 on the Index represents a growing economy.  Economist Fred Giertz, who compiles the Flash Index, says the last several months of slow growth in the state’s economy are a result of both negatives like the ongoing state budget impasse, and positives like a declining unemployment rate.

Flickr Creative Commons/DieselDemon

A judge has given the green light to a class action lawsuit against Illinois’ prison healthcare system.  The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois sued the state’s Department of Corrections over problems with prison health care, some inmates allegedly died because of poor treatment.

Flickr Creative Commons/Daniel X. O'Neil

County forest preserve officials plan to release 9,000 mussels into the DuPage River in the hopes of bolstering the existing population and keeping the waterway clean.  DuPage County Forest Preserve District officials are scheduled to release the mussels into the river's West Branch between May and mid-October at 11 locations along 13 miles of the river between Naperville and Warrenville.

A man injured during a raid by immigration agents has filed a federal civil rights complaint in Chicago alleging authorities wrongly believed he was a gang member.  The lawsuit claims Immigration and Customs Enforcement entered Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez's home March 27 without a warrant or consent. ICE allegedly relied on incorrect information from a Chicago police gang database. 

Facebook/May Day Chicago Coalition

A march toward downtown Chicago on May Day is taking up several city blocks, with organizers estimating an attendance of 20,000 people.  Many signs in the crowd call for an end to deportations. But advocates of several organizations are pushing for numerous causes, including workers' rights, environmental justice and a higher minimum wage.

Illinois educators and school supporters have launched nearly 2,500 GoFundMe campaigns to help pay for classroom expenses since the fundraising site launched in 2010.  A new guidebook the company released to help teachers decrease their out-of-pocket expenses shows Illinois educators have netted $1.2 million from more than 23,000 donations.

The governor of Illinois has activated the State Emergency Operations Center as flooding affects parts of the state after heavy weekend rains.  Gov. Bruce Rauner says rivers are swelling with water in some Illinois communities, causing flooding. Activating the operations center means that state agencies will be ready to quickly respond.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Lawmakers in limestone-rich Will County want to require groundwater monitoring around rock quarries that accept broken concrete and other debris from construction and demolition.

    Democratic Rep. Emily McAsey of Lockport and GOP Rep. Margo McDermed of Mokena say the waste is still tainted with chemicals and other contaminants. Rock quarries are porous and sit atop water tables. Drinking water could be contaminated.

  CHICAGO - A federal judge has ruled a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Corrections alleging inadequate health care in prisons may cover all inmates with serious medical needs in every state facility.

     The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso means thousands of inmates could be affected by the class-action lawsuit.

Village of Roselle, IL

  CHICAGO - Chicago's aviation department is launching a test to try to give communities near O'Hare International Airport a break from the noise of jets taking off and landing.

     The test that begins this weekend will rotate the runways being used overnight to see if there is a way to better distribute the noise. Residents of communities near the airport have complained about the loud sounds for years.

     The test follows another runway rotation test conducted last year and will last 12 weeks.

  OAK FOREST, Ill. - A bat found in the Chicago suburbs has tested positive for rabies and that has health officials urging people be aware of the potential risk.

     The Cook County Department of Public Health says the bat found in LaGrange Park was the first in suburban Cook County to test positive for rabies this year.

IL GOP / YouTube

Republican state Senator Kyle McCarter of Lebanon is proposing deep cuts to get to a balanced budget, without any accompanying tax hikes. 

The Republican’s proposal includes a 10 percent reduction across state government. McCarter says he has nothing to lose. He’s pledged to term limit himself out of the general assembly and is not seeking re-election. But he acknowledges that this sort of plan is difficult for many politicians to get behind. That’s why he says Gov. Rauner should lead the way by identifying specific cuts. 

Chicago Public Schools / Facebook

Chicago is expanding a pilot project that provided safe ways for children to play during the summer. Mayor Rahm Emanuel made the announcement about the Summer Safe Passage program Saturday. The Chicago Park District will partner with Chicago Public Schools on the effort. The mayor's office says more than 3,000 teens will be able to travel safely to-and-from summer recreational programming.

Historic Route 66 Restaurant Reopens as Museum

May 1, 2017
Save The Mill / Facebook

A building that was once the longtime home to a Lincoln restaurant is now a museum celebrating the city's links to Route 66. Gov. Bruce Rauner and state and local officials attended Saturday's dedication ceremony at the former home of The Mill restaurant, which opened in 1929 and closed in 1996. More than $90,000 was raised to replace the building's roof, repair 44 windows, restore the original floor and make it accessible for the disabled. Organizers say they've been working for 11 years to restore the building.

Illinois legislators voted against letting people with drug-related convictions receive welfare benefits today.  Supporters say when drug offenders lose welfare benefits, it punishes their children, who did nothing wrong, but still rely on public assistance.  Despite the growing heroin epidemic all over the state, members of both parties were not buying the argument. Representative David Reis is a Republican from Willow Hill.

Prosecutors say a man charged in the fatal shooting of a Cook County judge snuck to the judge's home up with a gun days before the slaying to commit robbery, but changed his mind.  Prosecutors say Earl Wilson told another person that he needed money and was going to rob Judge Raymond Myles' girlfriend because she had a lot of money.

Facebook/Women in Engineering at Illinois

The University of Illinois is unveiling a new statue on campus that honors women in engineering.  The life-size statue, named "The Quintessential Engineer," is located on the east side of the Micro and Nano-technology Laboratory.

A federal judge has sentenced the former head of Chicago Public Schools to more than four years in prison for steering $23 million in city contracts to education firms in exchange for more than $2 million in bribes and kickbacks.

The Illinois General Assembly has sent Gov. Bruce Rauner a plan to shore up Chicago pensions. The House voted 63-45 to allow the city to use increases in water- and sewer-service rates to triple contributions to retirement programs covering municipal workers and laborers. Firefighters' and police pensions are separate. 

The head of security at Chicago's airports has been fired, just weeks after a passenger was dragged from a United Airlines plane by security officers at O'Hare International Airport.  The Department of Aviation says Jeffrey Redding has been terminated from his duties at O'Hare and Midway airports. No reason was given.

A Cook County judge has ruled against the Chicago Public School's lawsuit over the funding of education by the state of Illinois.  Judge Franklin Ulyses Valderrama denied a CPS motion for an injunction seeking to bar the state from distributing education funds in a discriminatory manner. He also ruled in favor of the state's motion to dismiss the case, but is allowing CPS to come back with a new argument.