Illinois Budget 3.25.09
Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at www.gatehousenewsservice.com. Please check www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/news in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
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Video of the week: ‘Former addict gives herself up’
Cemeteries to receive millions in stimulus funds
RIVERTON – Seven Department of Veterans Affairs cemeteries in Illinois will split $2.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s office. Nationwide, the Department of Veterans Affairs received about $1.4 billion in the stimulus package for cemeteries, hospitals and homes, according to Durbin’s office. By John Reynolds of the State Journal-Register.
State Briefs. News from around the state.
PRISON BUDGET: The union for prison workers is vowing to fight Gov. Pat Quinn's budget plans to cut prison spending by about $65 million that include new work-day schedules for guards and shuttering several programs and facilities. By Eric Naing of the State Capitol Bureau.
OPEN PRIMARY: Democrats push a change to Republican Party elections that could signal problems for the future of legislation designed to no longer require voters to pick a specific party ballot when voting in primary elections. By Andrew Thomason of the State Capitol Bureau. Updated.
STATE BUDGET: A Senate committee charged with looking at ways to cut spending and close the state's huge deficit makes general recommendations rather than specifics, but lawmakers still defend the committee's work as worthwhile. By Doug Finke of the State Capitol Bureau. Updated.
BUSINESS SUMMIT: Gov. Pat Quinn is slated to meet this afternoon with Republican legislative leaders and officials representing various business groups to discuss keeping and creating jobs in Illinois. An official from Peoria-based Caterpillar Inc., which lately has been making lots of layoffs, is supposed to attend. Other details aren't known yet, but there's a good chance that Quinn will field complaints about his plans to close various corporate tax "loopholes." By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol Bureau. Will be posted this evening.
State gets ‘A’ for teen protection measure
PEORIA – A teenager in Illinois who feels threatened by a significant other, a parent or anyone for that matter may turn to the courts and file an order of protection. Illinois is one of only a handful of states that have responded to teen dating violence with this law, an advocacy group stated in a national survey. The report on state laws by Break the Cycle, a teen-violence prevention organization that has worked with the Department of Justice, gave A grades to only five states, including Illinois. Twelve states got D’s and 11 failed. By Catharine Schaidle of the Peoria Journal Star.
DHS office closure sparks ire in Stark County
TOULON – A decision by the Illinois Department of Human Services to close its longstanding office here in the seat of tiny Stark County has provoked shock and outrage from city and county officials. By Gary L. Smith of the Peoria Journal Star.
Rural areas have trouble finding candidates
NORWOOD – Instead of April's election bringing new faces to Norwood's village board, it will leave the town of just less than 500 folks without a mayor and two trustees. Not only is no one running for mayor, but this tiny village also has three open, four-year board seats, with only incumbent Lydia Pierce on the ballot. Norwood is not alone in that respect. Several other Peoria-area municipalities, school boards, library and park boards are faced with the quandary of more openings than candidates to fill them on April 7. By Karen McDonald of the Peoria Journal Star. To localize: Do rural areas in your coverage area have trouble finding candidates?
Hard times affect health care
SPRINGFIELD – Even as St. John’s Hospital announced the elimination of 38 jobs Tuesday, primarily in management, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine was holding one of its periodic job fairs. As the overall job market has worsened, health-care hiring has remained mostly a bright spot in state and local employment. But Angie Tippey, director of employment and compensation for the medical school, said the economy has had an effect, including on the mix of applicants for jobs ranging from medical assistants to clerical help. By Tim Landis of the State Journal-Register.
Salvation Army donations up in 2008
GALESBURG – Donations to The Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles set a new national record of $130 million in 2008, surpassing the previous record of $118 million set in 2007. The $130 million raised represents a 10 percent growth in donations year-over-year. The final figures were released late last week. By John R. Pulliam of the Galesburg Register-Mail. To localize: Check with the local Salvation Army to see how donations compared to the previous.
Rube Goldberg device a winning contraption
SPRINGFIELD – A few weeks after Brian Biggs’ fifth-grade class at Trinity Lutheran School won a first-place award for its Rube Goldberg device, the contraption still is on display in the classroom, working flawlessly. For the past three years, Trinity fifth-graders have taken part in a Rube Goldberg contest that’s part of a program that connects fifth-graders with professional engineers. The engineers and students work on building a Goldberg device that competes in regional and state contests. By Pete Sherman of the State Journal-Register. With video of the device in action.
Peoria restaurant offers two distinctly different types of dining
PEORIA – On a menu that includes burgers and pizza as well as calamari and escargot, there's a surprise bestseller: pan seared duck breast served on a lingonberry Chambord reduction with baby carrots and 30-layer potato gratin. The diversity of the menu is part of a transformation that converted Pizzeria Uno Chicago Bar & Grill in the Mark Twain Hotel to TWO25, a local brain bank of restaurateurs who bill their new place as "polished casual dining." By Clare Howard of the Peoria Journal Star.
Scientist enjoys spiritual side of making music
By day, he’s a straight-shooting scientist. But ask about his hobbies and Tom Mac is anything but ordinary. The 48-year-old has performed at Carnegie Hall, worked as an extra on “ER” and been on stage as the opening act for the Beach Boys. It’s the kind of side gig that keeps his artistic side energized. By Elizabeth Davies of the Rockford Register Star.
BRITT: Toon on IDOT raises.
Mike Doyle: Teen honored as breast cancer survivor
Amy Brechon was asked whether she was humbled by the influence of her story. “Yes, that’s a good word,” Brechon said. “Stuff keeps happening all because the same thing — that one story.” It’s the story of a breast cancer survivor, who, despite her reluctance, has made an indelible impression locally, regionally and nationally.
Phil Luciano: Shoring up a pillar of democracy
Is it time for a newspaper bailout? That fascinating notion is in an essay in The Nation called "The Death and Life of Great American Newspapers." The idea has been floated before, but perhaps never with as much conviction as by authors John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney, both of whom have written extensively about the media.
Editorial: America on trial, just as al-Marri is
Little guy. Toothy, disarming grin. Long black beard, white kufi cap, polo shirt and slacks. Seemed tired, perhaps overwhelmed by his circumstances. Unsure of his age - 43 - when asked. Requested eyeglasses to provide some clarity on the situation. So this is Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri - alleged terrorist, accused al-Qaida "sleeper agent," designated "enemy combatant," the last of his kind, the man the federal government says should strike fear in the hearts of Americans from coast to coast? An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.
Editorial: Shatter state police's culture of secrecy
Newly appointed Illinois State Police Director Jonathan Monken certainly represents a big change for the state police. It’s our hope that his appointment will signal a cultural change within the Illinois State Police with regard to making records more accessible to the public. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.
Editorial: State should invest in Rockford airport
It was good to hear Gov. Pat Quinn reiterate his support for Chicago Rockford International Airport, because the airport is key to the quality of life for people in the region. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.
John Supinie is off today.