Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Union Members March On Campus, Escalate Wage Battle With NIU

Dozens of state employee union members and Northern Illinois University employees protested Monday on the DeKalb campus. They came in support of a fair initial contract between AFSCME and NIU. Protestors marched in the turn-around outside Altgeld Hall on campus. AFSCME members have been negotiating with NIU officials since February 2016. Since then, union members filed unfair labor practice charges against NIU and recently won a case regarding parking pass rate increases. The latest point of...

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A recent report shows Illinois is facing a teacher shortage. But changes to teachers’ pensions — including cutbacks on the state’s share of contributions — spells uncertainty for anyone going into the profession.

  

When the Illinois General Assembly approved a budget last summer, they also agreed to cut back on about $500 million to the state's pension system. This might sound like a good idea if the money is allocated to pay for other needs in the immediate future. For teachers, however, it means the state might not be able to cover their pensions. 

Illinois Innocence Project

The Illinois Innocence Project, based at the University of Illinois Springfield, has won a $641,000 grant for DNA testing intended to help exonerate wrongfully convicted inmates. 

The grant will be used over the course of two years. $200,000 of the funds must be used in DNA testing for two types of cases: potential eye witness misidentifications and false confessions.

John Hanlon, Executive Director of the Illinois Innocence Project, says DNA testing is often necessary for the cases he takes on, but also very costly. The most basic test is roughly $1,000.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

The average Illinois price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $2.69. This is 3 cents lower than last week. 

AAA reports that the most expensive gasoline can be found in Chicago, at $2.85 per gallon. By contrast, the cheapest gasoline is in Bloomington-Normal, at $2.41 per gallon. 

Rockford's average price is $2.59 per gallon, which is seven cents cheaper than last week. 

Northern Illinois University will be back in court Wednesday, possibly to resolve a lawsuit that contests the circumstances of the severance package for former NIU President Doug Baker after his resignation in June.

Misty Haji-Sheikh, a DeKalb resident and activist, claims the NIU Board of Trustees violated the Open Meetings Act. She maintains the Board did not give the public enough notice or opportunity for input on the matter during the June 15 meeting.

Pretzel City Kitchens will be open for free tours as part of an event at Wagner House.

The project to create a certified, commercial grade kitchen that would be open for community use began in earnest several years ago. Now, after much grant-seeking and traversing several hurdles, it’s almost ready to open for business.

Freeport City Manager Lowell Crow says Pretzel City Kitchens is an important part of the city’s hope for the future.

 

 

Jenna Dooley

The Illinois General Assembly’s new ethics watchdog can now begin investigating a backlog of 27 cases.
They’ve been piling up for nearly three years while the office has been vacant.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a law yesterday that removes an expiration date on some of the complaints. Rauner wasn't satisfied with all of the bill's content.

“House Bill 137 is very flawed," he said.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson announced Friday that he has Parkinson's disease, saying that he first noticed symptoms "about three years ago."

Jackson, 76, released the news in what he called an update "on my health and the future."

The longtime political and social activist, who was part of Martin Luther King Jr.'s inner circle in the 1960s and who later founded the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said that after noticing signs of the motor system disorder, he attempted to work through it.

The opening of a new police academy this fall in Decatur was expected to mean that the University of Illinois Police Training Institute, just 50 miles away in Urbana, would close.

But director Michael Schlosser announced Thursday that the Police Training Institute will continue to offer classes in 2018. He said the university signed an agreement Wednesday with the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to continue the PTI.

Schlosser says demand is up for police training in Illinois.

flickr user / Michael Coghlan "Prison Bars" (CC BY-SA 2.0)

It’s been nearly two years since Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner formed the State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform to resolve prison over-population in Illinois. Rauner calls the plan “25 by 2025” – which aims to reduce prison populations by a quarter by the year 2025. On this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Jessie Schlacks looks into northern Illinois efforts working toward this goal.

Sessions from Studio A - The Giving Tree Band

Nov 16, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

The Giving Tree Band performs "Live Love" in WNIJ's Studio A.

Find The Giving Tree Band online at thegivingtreeband.com.

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News From NPR

About a month ago, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. He's spent a lot of time talking about the severity of the drug crisis. But he's spent less time outlining the specific steps he'll take to fight it. Today, a White House analysis declared that the true cost of the opioid epidemic in 2015 was more than half a trillion dollars.

Della Reese, a performer and pastor best known for her starring role on the CBS spiritual drama Touched by an Angel, has died at 86.

"Her signature television role came late in life," NPR's Eric Deggans reported. "Reese already had been famous for decades as a gospel-influenced R&B performer, TV guest star and talk show fixture."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Department of Justice is suing to block AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, legally challenging a $85 billion deal that would give the telecom giant control of a media empire including CNN, Warner Brothers, HBO, and other major media brands.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen today announced that she will resign from the Federal Reserve Board once her successor, Jerome Powell, is sworn in.

Yellen is the first woman to serve as Fed chair. While her term as Fed chair ends in February, Yellen could have stayed on the board until 2024, serving out her 14-year term as a Fed governor. Instead she'll follow the practice of previous Fed leaders and leave the board once Powell becomes chairman.

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