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Federal prosecutors say a former Chicago police officer has been sentenced to six months in prison for taking cash in exchange for government information. Prosecutors say 53-year-old Ray M. Ramirez of Chicago admitted in a plea agreement to obtaining information from law enforcement databases and passing it to a liquor store clerk in exchange for $150 to $200 payments.

Paul Coussens

Illinois hasn't had a true state budget for a year and five months. Even so, there's some talk of trying to work ahead on a spending plan for the future. Anyone even remotely connected to state government will tell you one of the most difficult parts of going without a budget for so long is that it's created tremendous uncertainty.

Peoria Ballet

This week, we're talking with Wendy Thomasson and Eric Otto, from the Peoria Ballet. They're presenting their annual production of "The Nutcracker," with performances Saturday and Sunday at the Peoria Civic Center Theatre. Otto stepped in as Artistic Director of the production earlier this fall, when another director had to drop out. He talks about how production of the holiday standard differ from company to company, about the advantages of performing with a live orchestra, and about his own...

Keith A. Almli / Wikipedia

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says president-elect Donald Trump made a great pick for Secretary of Education. Trump nominated billionaire business woman and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos last month. DeVos and Rauner are both strong supporters for charter schools and vouchers.

Khürt Williams / Flickr/Creative Commons

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) - Alcohol will soon be on the menu at Southern Illinois University. The school's board voted on Thursday to allow the sales of beer and wine at campus events. The decision to join other universities around the state that already allow alcohol sales comes as colleges are trying to find ways to increase revenues to cope with dwindling state funding. Supporters of the decision say it will increase attendance at sporting events on campus.

Dave Severin / Facebook

Several new members of the General Assembly will take office in January. We plan to catch up with some of them to see why they wanted the job and what they hope to accomplish as lawmakers. First up is Dave Severin. The Republican beat Democratic Representative John Bradley in a hard-fought campaign for the 117th House district. Illinois Public Radio's Jamey Dunn talked with Severin , a small business owner and longtime school board member from Benton. Republican Dave Severin , soon to be a...

Illinois' wealthy governor is calling for state legislators to go without pay. State legislators last received paychecks in June. That's according to the comptroller's office, which is responsible for the delay. The comptroller has put elected officials' pay in a queue, along with $10 billion of other overdue bills Illinois can't afford to immediately pay. A group of Democratic representatives are suing to reinstate their monthly income. Gov. Bruce Rauner criticized them in a video message. ...

@Cubs / Instagram

CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Cubs' World Series trophy is hitting the road on a tour that includes a stop in Peoria. In a news release, the team announced the tour will begin at the Cubs Team Store on Michigan Avenue on Dec. 9 and at City Hall on Dec. 15. After that, the trophy will make stops throughout Illinois. Among the cities the trophy will visit before Opening Day are Peoria, Bloomington, Champaign, Freeport, the Quad Cities, Rockford and Springfield. The trophy will visit South Bend, Indiana, as well as Des Moines and other Iowa communities. It will also be taken to Mesa, Arizona in time for spring training.

Rivian Automotive Considers Closed Mitsubishi Plant

Dec 8, 2016
BidItUp Auctions Worldwide

Rivian Automotive is in discussions to purchase the vacant 2.4 million square foot Mitsubishi Motors plant in Normal.

brucerauner.com

After calling for daily meetings with Illinois' top leaders, Governor Bruce Rauner called off one that had been scheduled for today. In a statement, his office said Democrats were unprepared for the next steps in budget talks. Today the Republican took that message to voters, with a video on social media.

Horizon Club Students Get a Frozen Field Day

Dec 8, 2016
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Middle Schoolers from Peoria’s school district braved the below freezing temperatures and laced on ice skates Thurs. The Peoria Public School Foundation and PNC Bank sponsored two days of ice skating this week for more than 200 students enrolled in the Horizons Club. The club meets weekly and aims to prepare students for high school, students and beyond. Foundation President Cindy Morris says this week’s ice skating outing is a reward for good behavior, but it’s also a chance to give some...

National Center for Transgender Equality

A large survey of transgender Americans paints a grim picture of pervasive discrimination and harassment affecting that population. The Transgender Society of Peoria and service providers estimate between 1,000-1,500 transgender people live in the Peoria region. The study , published by the National Center for Transgender Equality, assesses 2015 data from 27,715 respondents from all 50 states. It says while there have been notable gains for transgender rights in recent years, the latest data...

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois State Geological Survey says it has been awarded a pair of federal grants worth a total of more than $12.6 million to try to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions from the use of fossil fuels. The Geological Survey said Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Energy grants will pay for a project to research the feasibility of commercial-scale underground storage of carbon dioxide. The work will build on a pre-existing project in the Mt. Simon Formation in Decatur. The second Energy Department-financed project will study the details of potential storage at another site in east-central Illinois.

The nuclear power plant located near the small central Illinois town of Clinton will be around for at least another decade. Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation W ednesday that subsidizes Exelon’s nuclear facilities, and prevents the Clinton and Quad-Cities nuclear plants from closing. Exelon says its Clinton plant has been a money-loser for some time. But it’s been a big part of the economy in Clinton and DeWitt County ever since initial construction began in the 1970s. Illinois Public...

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The 1st District Peoria City Council Seat has some competition in the April 4th. David Berry is challenging the incumbent, Councilwoman Denise Moore. He made a formal announcement yesterday. Berry says the incumbent is doing a good job on the whole but he would like to see more: “Now issue I am seeing overall 1st District is that when it comes to public funding it’s nearly 100-percent going to private sector projects and in some cases there are zero dollars going to job train and continuing...

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says the Jimmy John's sandwich chain has agreed to stop requiring low-level employees to sign agreements preventing them from seeking jobs with competitors.

Illinois' new comptroller is making changes, just days after taking office. State employees expecting a bonus will have to wait. Non-unionized employees were awarded bonuses this fall. That became a liability for Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger's campaign. Munger at the time said she had no choice but to process them. Critics -- including Munger's then opponent, Democrat Susana Mendoza, pounced.

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U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says his Democratic colleagues will pose tough questions to President-elect Donald Trump’s appointees. The Illinois Democrat will get to vote on Trump’s cabinet nominees, including U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions’ appointment as attorney general. Durbin has worked closely with Sessions in the past, but has also diverged from the Alabama Republican on certain issues. Durbin says he wants Sessions to lay out his views on immigration and overhauling criminal justice.

Cheerleaders, a pep band, and hundreds of happy Exelon workers welcomed Governor Bruce Rauner to northwest Illinois today (wed). At Riverdale High School in Port Byron, he signed the bill that will keep open nuclear power plants in Cordova, near the Quad Cities, and Clinton in central Illinois. Illinois Public Radio's Herb Trix reports. Rauner congratulated the General Assembly for approving the Future Energy Jobs Bill.

AP Photo

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he hand-delivered to Donald Trump a letter from mayors of some of the nation's largest cities urging the incoming president to continue to protect young immigrants. Emanuel told reporters after his Wednesday morning meeting with Trump in New York that the letter asked him to continue a provision that protects immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 16 from deportation. Emanuel says the 14 mayors believe those immigrants are "something we...

Bob Simpson / Flickr/Creative Commons

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A judge in southern Illinois has issued a temporary restraining order to keep Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration from imposing contract terms onto state workers. The order this week from Judge Robert LeChien comes after the Illinois Labor Relations Board last month issued an opinion saying contract talks between the state and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union were at an impasse. That ruling let the state impose final contract terms. The major public-employee union recently went to labor-friendly St. Clair County asking the court to bar Republican Rauner from taking action to implement the contract.

Hiroki ONO / Flickr/Creative Commons

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) - Students and researchers from Louisiana State University will travel to Southern Illinois University Carbondale for next year's total solar eclipse. The team, which includes people from two other Louisiana institutions, plans to launch two large weather balloons from Saluki Stadium. The launch will occur about 90 minutes before the total eclipse, set for 1:21 p.m. on Aug. 21. A balloon equipped with a video camera will send real-time images as the moon blots out the sun. That feed will be provided to a NASA television program, which will broadcast from SIU.

Archeophone Records / Illinois Public Media

Archeophone , the Champaign-based record label that preserves sounds from the early days of recording, has picked up two more Grammy nominations. They recognize the label’s first foray into sacred music. Illinois Public Radio’s Jeff Bossert has more. Waxing the Gospel is a collection of hymn and spoken word recordings from the 1890’s, with a 400-page book. Those heard in the set range from the Baldwin’s Cadet Band of Boston to evangelists Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey. They were among the...

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan may not agree on much when it comes to the Illinois budget. As they negotiate both men apparently find it helpful to accuse the other of pushing for a tax increase. Rauner, Madigan and the legislature’s other top leaders discussed the budget privately Tuesday in Chicago.

David Quitoriano / Flickr/Creative Commons

32 year-old Tracy Long of Pekin will spend 24 months on probation, along with other sanctions, for falsifying medical reports and stealing narcotics for personal use last year at Maple Lawn Healthcare in Eureka. Long, a nurse, pleaded guilty to the Class 4 Felony of Unlawful Acquisition of a Controlled Substance. Long will serve 30 hours of community service, and pay fees associated with the case. She will also undergo a substance abuse evaluation and treatment program, and can no longer work...

Peoria Residents Turn Out for Better Racial Equity

Dec 7, 2016

The community discussion on racial inequity in Peoria last night was arguably one of the largest community turnouts for a public meeting in recent history. Nearly 320 people showed up to participate in the interactive meeting on racial disparity at the Gateway Building.

United Way agencies across the United States are receiving $11.5 million in contributions from Caterpillar employees and retirees and the company Foundation. This amount includes a dollar-for-dollar matching grant from the Caterpillar Foundation.

A lawsuit accuses a national job-placement company of systematically discriminating against blacks in favor of Hispanic workers, often to comply with racially based requests from client firms.

Facebook/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The president of the University of Illinois says its three campuses cannot legally serve as sanctuaries for immigrant students illegally living in the country despite pressure to do so.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

73-year-old Cleve Heidelberg is spending his Christmas in prison, for the 46th straight year. Heidelberg’s 1970 murder conviction of a Peoria Deputy is still under review. But a hearing scheduled for the end of December could mean a shot at a new trial -- even freedom -- in the New Year. Heidelberg’s petition for post-conviction relief has moved into what’s called a “stage two post-conviction proceeding.” On that day, one of three things could happen. Peoria County Judge Al Purham could rule...

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