Politics and Government | WGLT

Politics and Government

Mayor Chris Koos of Normal is speaking out against a wave of xenophobia aimed at Syrian refugees. Koos is among 62 U.S. Mayors who have signed an open letter to Congress saying a ban on Syrian refugees is not warranted.

Koos says the Syrians who become refugees are not radical, and not militant. Koos urges taking a step back from politics and taking a look at the thorough process already in place.

Rauner Doubles Down On Syria Position

Nov 24, 2015

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s pursuing legal options to prevent Syrian refugees from coming into the state. Rauner has said there are security threats to America following attacks in Paris. He says he’s not getting the answers he wants from the Obama administration on who’s coming to Illinois. Rauner is talking to lawyers about how a governor could actually stop Syrian refugees from entering the state.

Meantime Democratic Senator Dick Durbin has rebuked Rauner’s statements, saying Syrian refugees pass strict tests for U.S. entry.

 

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says the state is taking precautions ahead of the release of a video showing a Chicago police officer shooting and killing a 17-year-old.

Rauner is asking the state police to coordinate with Chicago police. He wouldn’t say if he’s also talked with the state’s National Guard - which falls under the command of the governor.
 

Two Libertarian political candidates are asking a federal court to declare unconstitutional an Illinois ban on political contributions from the medical marijuana industry. Claire Ball of Addison and Scott Schluter of Marion filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago last week. They say they support marijuana legalization and want to solicit campaign donations from the marijuana industry. Illinois law bars such contributions.  

Obama Library Position Hired

Nov 23, 2015

The Obama Foundation has hired a native Chicagoan and former aide to President Barack Obama for a key role in the development of his presidential library and museum. It says Michael Strautmanis will become its vice president of civic engagement in January. He's currently vice president for corporate citizenship at the Walt Disney Co.  

Strautmanis will be in charge of developing and leading outreach efforts and civic engagement for the Obama Foundation. He served in a number of engagement positions with Obama during the president's first term.

The Illinois National Guard says the commander who led its largest post-World War II deployment has retired. Major Gen. Scott Thoele led the National Guard's 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team to Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009. Roughly 3,000 members of the Illinois-based brigade were deployed. Thoele called his time as commander of the brigade the highlight of his 21-year career.

He is also a veteran of the war in Iraq. Thoele also recently retired from his civilian job as vice president of a bank in Quincy where he and his wife, Paula, live.
 

Poe Post Filled

Nov 20, 2015

The chief of staff to Illinois first lady Diana Rauner has been appointed to the state House of Representatives. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez of Springfield will replace Republican Raymond Poe. Poe resigned last week to become Gov. Bruce Rauner's state agriculture director.

Sangamon County GOP Chairwoman Rosemarie Long made the announcement Friday. The 36-year-old Jimenez is a former television reporter who was also press spokeswoman to a Democratic state treasurer and then-House Republican Leader Tom Cross. She joined the first lady's staff in January.  

Normal Approves 'Uptown 2.0'

Nov 17, 2015
Brad Basham Photography / bbasham.com and Town of Normal

The Normal Town Council is moving forward with Uptown 2.0. Council members approved the master plan update presented last September. 

Garry Knight / Flickr via Creative Commons

An Illinois State University Political Scientist says the attacks in Paris say something significant about ISIS' deteriorating position. Professor Ali Riaz is the Chair of ISU's Department of Politics and Government. In this interview with GLT's Charlie Schlenker, Riaz says the Egyptian plane bombing, other bombings in the Mideast by ISIS, and now the assaults in Paris, show a shift to a strategy of asymetrical warfare.

Illinois Immigrant rights groups and advocates are blasting Gov. Bruce Rauner's decision to temporarily stop accepting new Syrian refugees in Illinois in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris.  

The Arab American Action Network says the decision creates a "fictitious link" between those fleeing war and violence and those responsible for the deadly attacks. The group says it also fuels racist stereotypes.  

The Organized Communities Against Deportations wants Rauner to reconsider.  

Rauner Moves To Block Syrian Refugees

Nov 16, 2015
Brian Mackey / IPR

Gov. Bruce Rauner says Illinois will temporarily stop accepting new Syrian refugees in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Rauner says Illinois will consider its legal options pending a review of U.S. Department and Homeland Security's acceptance and security processes.

Rauner is one of several U.S. governors who say they will  stop allowing Syrian refugees into their states after Friday night attacks in Paris left at least 129 people dead.  

Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

NPR's White House correspondent is doing what she wanted to do when she was a child. Not necessarily walk the halls of the most famous home in America, but talk on the radio. WGLT's Willis Kern talked with Tamara Keith just before she spoke at GLT's Radio Faces event last Friday.

Illinois' new medical marijuana shops sold nearly $211,000 worth of cannabis in the first week, with less than a quarter of eligible patients buying so far.  

The state's first regulated marijuana dispensaries opened Monday. Program director Joseph Wright said Friday the dispensaries served 806 customers. They purchased about 460 ounces of marijuana, or about a half an ounce per person, on average.  

Green Thumb Industries CEO Ben Kovler says the numbers are "a very strong start." 

A month and a half after the Illinois State Museum shut its doors to visitors ... lawmakers have passed a measure that could lead to its reopening.  Advocates have mourned the loss of the Springfield-based museum, which also hosts researchers and preserves millions of artifacts.

Despite the closure, most of the museum's staff have so far held onto their jobs. Their union is fighting with Governor Bruce Rauner's administration in court. But State Museum Board Chairman Guerry Suggs says other employees have quit, taken new jobs, or retired. 

C-SPAN

Illinois Republican Congressman Rodney Davis of Taylorville (13th District) says President Obama is missing out on making economic progress by rejecting the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. That's one of the topics covered during a Sound Ideas interview with WGLT's Willis Kern.

Jim Browne / WGLT

US Representative Rodney Davis spent part of his day Tuesday touring the new crisis and detox unit at Bloomington's Chestnut Health Systems. During the tour, Chestnut Chief Operating Officer Alan Sender told the Republican times are tough.

Davis held a round table at the center, focusing on mental healthcare, and discussed a bill from Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Tim Murphy. The measure promises more beds for patients, and a tele-psych system to make up for a shortage of psychologists and psychiatrists. Davis says the mental health system is 'broken.'

An education activist visiting Illinois State University says children receiving a poor education are having their civil rights violated.  Dr. Pedro Noguera is a distinguished professor of Education at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.  He is also a sociologist whose research is focused on how schools are influenced by social and economic factors.  GLT's Jon Norton talked with Noguera via Skype to talk about his research, and how his morality factors into his lifelong passion of ensuring equal access to education for all children.  Norton started by quoting a sentence from his recent book "Excellence Through Equity."

Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger has issued a one word response to the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. That word is "crazy." The Obama Administration has formally rejected the pipeline to carry Canadian oil into the U.S. after seven years of delays and deliberations.

Kinzinger's fellow Illinois Republican, Rodney Davis was more voluble in reaction. Davis represents part of Bloomington Normal and says it puts politics over people. Davis says instead of encouraging energy independence and job growth in that industry, the President placates his political base.

Governor Bruce Rauner has cut back on institutional care available to seniors.  The Republican used an amendatory veto Friday to reduce the cost of the measure aimed at protecting people who get institutional or at-home care while officials develop a new way of measuring need. Chicago Democratic Rep. Greg Harris sponsored the plan. He says it ensures people getting assistance now won't get cut off by a new assessment process.  

Urban Land Institute

One of top urban planners in the U. S. gives high marks to the way Normal planned its uptown redevelopment. Tom Murphy, former Pittsburgh mayor and now with the Urban Land Institute, says the neighboring Marriott and Hyatt hotels are obviously a part of a well-thought out plan.

Illinois has joined 17 states supporting new domestic power plant limits being challenged in federal court by more than two dozen other states. The motion to intervene was filed in a federal appellate court in Washington by state Attorney General Lisa Madigan. California, New York and Virginia are among the other states siding with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with the cities of Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.  

The Bloomington Election Commission is upgrading its voting equipment. Director Paul Shannon says several hundred thousand dollars will pay for 30 new voting machines, or one per precinct.

Shannon says instead of a laser scan, the reader will be a digital picture scan of the ballot.

The machines are smaller and better for Americans With Disabilities Act compliance as well.

The cost is several hundred thousand dollars.
 

Flickr user tvnewsbadge

Attorney, author and justice advocate Sister Simone Campbell is best know for leading Nuns on the Bus tours across America to draw attention to the concerns of low income workers, immigrants and people with disabilities. She's known to many in McLean County too, having given the 2013 Jim and Gwen Pruyne Lecture at New Covenant Community Church in Normal.

A special prosecutor in southwestern Illinois will review a levee district's repeated use of an auto body shop owned by its president. Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons is seeking the independent review of the business relationship between the Metro East Sanitary District and Andy's Auto Body & Towing, a Madison company owned by district president Andy Economy. The district's executive director crashed his government-owned SUV five times in the past three years.

Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis wants to give employers a hand in helping to pay off student loan debt for the recent college graduates they hire. The Taylorville Republican introduced a bill in the House this week that will let those employers offer a tax-free benefit of just over 5-thousand dollars to attract new hires --- and also help current workers with continuing education. Davis says current student loan re-payment programs are unfair.

Bloomington Sick Leave Buyback Remains Unchanged

Oct 26, 2015
Michael Hill / WGLT

The Bloomington City Council remains reluctant to change city policies for sick leave buyback. Aldermen voted in favor of a resolution to have staff look into the issue further, but have not made any adjustments to the rules that are currently in place for grandfathered employees.

Illinois State University Trustees will take up a budget resolution forecasting at least a ten percent cut in state funding next fiscal year. That is on top of whatever reductions come in the current year budget now deadlocked in Springfield. Jay Groves is an ISU spokesman.

Rauner Dismisses Criticism From Past Peers

Oct 22, 2015

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is sloughing off critical comments made by his a pair of his predecessors. IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports, on Illinois' 113th day without a state budget.

 

The Illinois Department of Employment Security reports the jobless rate dropped in September in all of the metro areas the agency tracks. But the department's director says job growth remains weak.

The Bloomington Normal unemployment rate is 4.3% down from 5% in September of last year. That's the lowest rate for September since 2007 when it was 3.9% in the twin cities. The metro area rate is the lowest in the state.

The Moody's credit rating agency has downgraded $26.8 billion in Illinois' general obligation bonds, saying the move was due to the state's weakening financial position during the year. In lowering the bond rating to Baa1 from A3, Moody's Investors Service said its expectation is that the ongoing stalemate on the budget due July 1 will lead to further deterioration of the state's finances.  

The lower a state's credit rating, the tougher, and more expensive, it is to borrow money.

Pages