Charles N. Wheeler III | WGLT

Charles N. Wheeler III

The director of the Public Affairs Reporting (PAR) graduate program is Professor Charles N. Wheeler III,  a veteran newsman who came to the University of Illinois at Springfield following a 24-year career at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Wheeler covered state government and politics for the Sun-Times since 1970, when he covered the Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention. For the last 19 years of his Sun-Times tenure, Wheeler was assigned to the newspaper’s Statehouse bureau. During that time, he was elected to 16 consecutive one-year terms as president of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association and served for many years on the PAR program and admissions committees.

Since 1984, he has written a monthly column for Illinois Issues magazine, which has won five Capitolbeat awards for magazine commentary/analysis. In 2006, the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association inducted him into The Lincoln League of Journalists, which honors men and women who have provided exemplary service to other journalists and to daily newspapers published in Illinois. In 2013, he was chosen as the Journalist of the Year by the Journalism Department at Eastern Illinois University.  He is also a regular on the panel for State Week, WUIS' weekly political analysis program that airs on public radio stations across Illinois.

Before joining the Sun-Times in 1969, Wheeler served more than three years as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Panama. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University, Winona, MN, majoring in English, and received a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Wheeler draws on the talents of many UIS faculty with expertise in such fields as public budgeting, political science, and communication, as well as professional journalists and state officials, to present students with a well-rounded program to bridge the academic and professional areas.

This week, Illinois lawmakers wrapped up the work of the 101st General Assembly.  And there is  a new House Speaker - Chris Welch - after Michael Madigan lost the support of his caucus after nearly four decades in power.

Rich Miller of Capitol Fax joins the panel.

Amidst the turmoil in Washington DC, the Illinois Legislature meets this week for a lame duck session, with questions about who will be House Speaker and which direction the Illinois Republican Party will go.

Chris Mooney, Professor of State Politics in the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, joins the panel.

The panel marks the end of 2020 and looks ahead to 2021, joined by Amanda Vinicky of Chicago's WTTW.

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This week, Washington D.C. worked on a new COVID-19 pandemic stimulus package, while the first batch of vaccines continue to be distributed to health care workers.  Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is facing criticism for her handling of a new scandal involving the Chicago Police Department.

Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago Business joins the panel.

 

Citizens of Illinois, I believe, should measure the product of our efforts by these tests: Is the Constitution of 1970 superior to the Constitution of 1870? Is the Constitution of 1970 relevant to the problems of our state at this time? By either test, I submit, the 1970 Constitution possesses a more efficient and economical governmental structure, while strengthening at the same time our commitment to the human needs of our people… the 1970 Constitution talks to a human purpose and a human society.

This week, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced $700 million in cuts to the current fiscal year's state budget; a special investigating committee looking into House Speaker Michael Madigan's involvement in the ComEd bribery scandal wrapped up with no action; and Pritzker continues to weather criticism of his administration's handling of the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans' Home.

Tony Arnold of WBEZ and Rick Pearson of the Chicago Tribune join the panel this week.

This week, Governor JB Prittzker ordered Illinois National Guard medical personnel to the state's four veterans' homes following a deadly outbreak in the LaSalle facility amid criticism from Republican lawmakers.  Also, Michael Madigan continued to resist calls for him to step down as Speaker of the House.

Capitol News Illinois' Jerry Nowicki joins the panel.

This week, investigations began into the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the La Salle Veterans' Home investigation, while Michael Madigan continued to lose support for his role as House Speaker in his own caucus amid the ComEd bribery scandal.

Rachel Hinton of the Chicago Sun-Times joins the panel.

Hospital beds across the state continue to fill with COVID-19 patients, and an investigation has been announced to look into the deadly breakout in the LaSalle Veterans' Home.  Michael Madigan says he has no intention of stepping down as House Speaker, although he may not have the votes needed to keep that position the next time the Legislature meets.

WBEZ's Dave McKinney joins the panel this week.

This week, Governor J.B. Pritzker admonished Illinoisans who continue to flout COVID-19 mitigation measures and warned that he soon may have no choice but to order another stay-at-home directive.  Meanwhile, the Pritzker administration is left with a huge budget problem to deal with, especially with the failure of the governor's proposed graduated income tax amendment.

Dan Vock, reporter and author of the States of Crisis newsletter, joins the panel.

 

The election saw disappointing results for Democrats at the state level, especially the failure of Governor J.B. Pritzker's proposed change to a graduated income tax.  And House Speaker Michael Madigan is under increasing pressure to step down as head of the state Democratic party.

The State Journal-Register's Bernie Schoenburg joins the panel.

This week saw a continued rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations around the state, and ten out of the eleven regions in the Restore Illinois Plan will be under stronger mitigation measures by the end of the weekend.  There has been a record volume of early voting and voting by mail in the state ahead of Tuesday's election, and many eyes are watching Democratic Illinois Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride’s bid to retain his seat.

Ray Long of the Chicago Tribune joins the panel.

This week, the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations prompted Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health to impose increased mitigation measures in regions around the state.  State officials also revealed their plans for distributing a vaccine when one becomes available.  The election is just over a week away, and the ballot referendum on moving the state to a graduated income tax continues to be a focus of attention.

This week, the pandemic saw a resurgence with a rapidly rising statewide positivity rate and a record number of new coronavirus cases in a single day.  Amid the state's growing budget woes, tax revenues from legal marijuana sales continue to bolster state coffers.  And the two candidates vying for Illinois' 13th congressional district seat ramped up their criticisms of each other.

Mark Maxwell of WCIA-TV joins the panel.

 

This week, Illinois Republicans expressed outrage at the decision to put an Illinois House committee investigating House Speaker Michael Madigan on hold until after the November elections.  Meanwhile, the public's vote on Governor J.B. Pritzker's proposal to move Illinois to a graduated income tax draws nearer, and this week the governor  released his proposals for criminal justice reform.

A.D. Quig  of Crane's Chicago Business joins the panel.

Questions about the connection between Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and a bribery scheme by energy giant Commonwealth Edison continues to create problems for the Speaker.  Republicans claim a House investigative committee is protecting Madigan, and representative Stephanie Kifowit announced she intends to challenge his position as the leader of the chamber.

The Chicago Sun Times' Rachel Hinton joins the panel.

This week, Governor Pritzker's administration warned that if its proposed graduated income tax vote fails, income taxes on everyone in the state will have to be raised.  Also, with the continuing extensions of the statewide eviction moratorium, landlords are facing problems paying their mortgages.

WBEZ's Michael Puente and reporter Hannah Meisel join the panel.

This week, Governor J.B. Pritzker told state government agencies to prepare for across the board budget cuts.  The Big Ten sports conference declared that they will hold games this fall, putting pressure on Governor Pritzker to allow all Illinois students to play.

WBEZ's Kate McGee and WSIU's Jennifer Fuller join the panel.

This week, a special Illinois House committee began investigating House Speaker Madigan’s alleged role in a decade-long bribery scheme involving Commonwealth Edison.  Meanwhile, Senate President Don Harmon's office was subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney.  And billionaire Ken Griffin is spending money to fight the proposed graduated income tax amendment.

The Chicago Tribune's Jaime Munks and Professor of State Politics at the University of Illinois at Chicago Chris Mooney join the panel.

This week, confirmed cases of the new coronavirus have spiked on university campuses throughout the state.  Meanwhile, many kids are beginning the new school year with virtual, remote learning only.  And the Illinois House has created a committee to look into possible wrongdoing by House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Illinois Newsroom's Lee Gaines, WNIJ's Peter Medlin, and WGLT's Dana Vollmer join the panel.

This week, rising COVID-19 positivity rates prompted Governor J.B. Pritzker to once again shut down indoor service for restaurants and bars in Will and Kankakee counties, and warned that the same might soon happen for the Metro East counties.  Local governments are becoming more worried about declining tax revenues due to the pandemic.  And energy company Exelon announced that it may have to close two of its nuclear plants.  

Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois and Kelsey Landis of the Belleville News-Democrat join the panel.

This week saw the virtual Democratic National Convention, the decision to remove some controversial statues from the State Capitol grounds, and the death of former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson.

The Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson joins the panel this week.

This week, the Illinois General Assembly's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules approved Governor Pritzker's intent to fine business owners who don't enforce the state's COVID-19 mitigation orders.  Also, state Senator Terry Link has been charged with tax fraud.

Amanda Vinicky of WTTW's Chicago Tonight joins the panel.

Amid the pandemic, the state's ongoing budget woes received some attention this week, with uncertainty over federal aid to states and local governments.  Also, novel coronavirus positivity rates continue to slowly rise, prompting Governor J.B. Pritzker to issue new emergency guidelines for businesses, schools, and daycare centers.

WBEZ Public Radio's Tony Arnold and Capitol News Illinois' Peter Hancock join the panel.

This week, there were more calls for Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan to resign due to a long-term bribery scheme involving energy provider Commonwealth Edison.  Also, Governor Pritzker issued new guidelines for sports as Illinois' COVID-19 numbers have been rising.

John O'Connor of the Associated Press joins the panel.

While he denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any wrongdoing, Illinois Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan is alleged to have participated in a wide-ranging bribery scheme involving energy provider Commonwealth Edison.  Illinois Republicans are calling for swift action on new ethics legislation.  Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reacted to President Trump's declaration to send undercover federal agents to the city.

This week, the major electric utility ComEd agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into long-running bribery scheme that implicates Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.  Meanwhile, Governor J.B. Pritzker adjusted some aspects of the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson joins the panel.

Over the past week, Democratic Illinois U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth weathered Republican criticism at the same time her name is being put forward, among others, as Joe Biden's potential running mate.  Governor J.B. Pritzker called on the Trump administration for a nationwide mandate for wearing masks to combat the coronavirus, while still not issuing such a mandate in his own state.  More revelations are showing just who received federal PPP money.  And House Speaker Michael Madigan calls for the removal of statues at the State Capitol building.

This week, a Clay County judge ruled that Governor J.B. Pritzker did not have the authority to issue executive orders to combat the spread of the new coronavirus after his initial order expired.   Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned the city that there would be conseqences for those who flout precautionary measures.  Also, it's the start of a new fiscal year and several new laws went into effect July 1st.

WTTW Chicago Tonight's Amanda Vinicky joins the panel.

This Friday marked Illinois moving to Phase 4 of Governor J.B. Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan, along with guidelines for in-person school attendance in the Fall.  However, the governor says that the threat of COVID-19 remains and that restrictions could be tightened again if there is a resurgence of the disease.

Greg Hinz of Crain's Chicago Business joins the panel.

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