News

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

The new director of Illinois prisons says union contracts are the source of many problems within the state Department of Corrections. 

Prisons chief Donald Stolworthy wrote in a memo to Gov. Bruce Rauner that union contracts contribute to “many of the ills within the system.” That includes personnel costs and management qualifications. 

In documents, Stolworthy says overtime costs skyrocketed in recent years. Union spokesman Anders Lindall says overtime problems result from a lack of staff.

Iowa Flood Center / University of Iowa

Floods in the Midwest and nearby states are not getting bigger -- they're just occurring more often.

That's the conclusion of a study by the University of Iowa Flood Center. It looked at 50 years of river levels in 14 states. 

Gabriele Villarini, an assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, says the rising number of floods is due to more rain.  

“Overall, you see that there has been an increase in the number of heavy rainfall days rather than increasing the magnitude of the largest rainfall days,” Villarini said.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

A special legislative committee appointed to review Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget decisions will hold its first meeting Tuesday. House Speaker Michael Madigan announced on Friday that the panel will examine the Illinois state budget, and Gov. Bruce Rauner's influence on it.

It's either a sign of a contentious budget battle or an early attempt at reaching a compromise.

Visitation For Cardinal George Begins Tuesday

Apr 17, 2015
Chicago archdiocese

Public visitation for former Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Francis George, who died in his home Friday at the age of 78 following a long battle with cancer, will begin at 2:30 p.m.Tuesday in Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral.

Funeral services will be held at noon Thursday, according to an announcement from the archdiocese. A ticket will be required to attend the funeral.

George will be buried in the family plot at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines.

Illinois Cuts The Line On Help To Quit Smoking

Apr 17, 2015

Twenty-seven people are out of a job at Illinois' Tobacco Quitline ... which means there's no one left to answer the phone.

For the past 15 years, Illinois smokers could dial 1-866-QUIT-YES, and a tobacco treatment counselor or nurse would answer.

Try calling now, and you get the mechanical recorded voice:

"Your call is important to us. Unfortunately, Quitline funding has been suspended due to budget cuts and we will be closed until further notice."

It was an abrupt end. Supporters say they had little financial wiggle room.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Next Thursday evening, April 24, the NIU School of Music hosts a program featuring the berimbau.  An original cycle of music for the Afro-Brazilian instrument ranging from solos to sextets will be performed.

Greg Beyer is the director of the NIU Percussion program. Beyer is also director the ensemble Projeto Arcomusical.  The group's six members all play the berimbau, which resembles a long bow with a round gourd in the middle.  

Jenna Dooley

Glass, puzzle pieces, even a domino sit in piles on a farm on Irene Road in Kirkland, just outside of Fairdale.

Trucks loaded with broken bricks and concrete make trips along a normally busy road, but it’s their turf now going back and forth.

It’s the reality of one week after a storm.

Carissa Brendle’s father-in-law saw the twister coming, so he headed down to the basement of his newly built home and called his son who lived nearby.

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois schools were not spared from the recent state budget cuts. But a $97 million fund was established to help the most cash-strapped districts pay their bills until the end of the school year.

Schools that qualify have limited local resources, a higher concentration of low-income students and very little cash on hand.

Robert Wolfe, who is the chief financial officer of the state school board, says the last minute cuts will affect every school district.

ILGA.gov

It can take a decade or more for the FDA to approve a new medicine, but a measure in the Illinois House is meant to help people who can't wait that long.

Rep. Greg Harris, a Democrat from Chicago, says for people who have been told they have just a short time to live, it could be a ray of hope. 

"It's the last, best hope for some of our constituents," Harris said. "I'm very proud to carry it. I'm proud to give this hope to people who have no place else to turn."

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been traveling the state to promote his so-called "Turnaround Agenda." 

It calls for sweeping changes to unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, limits on where lawsuits can be filed, and the creation of right-to-work zones. 

It's a huge agenda. But so far, it hasn't been introduced in a way that legislators can debate or vote on.

Rauner says bills are ready. Here’s what he said during a recent editorial board appearance:

"We will introduce those when the leaders say we should introduce 'em."

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