News

Rockford Public Schools

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders are setting up a bipartisan commission to tackle reforming the state’s school funding formula.

The commission is to meet monthly and come up with its recommendations by February 1.  The plan then will be considered during the legislature’s spring session.

Groups of lawmakers have been trying to change the state’s notoriously inequitable system for at least the past 10 years. The difference this time, Rauner said, is that the situation has become critical.

 

U.S. Government

Federal prosecutors have recommended that a judge impose the same 14-year prison sentence on Rod Blagojevich at his August resentencing that the imprisoned governor received at his original sentencing in 2011.

The filing by the U.S. attorney's office at midnight Monday comes after an appeals court struck five of the Chicago Democrat's 18 convictions last year.

Prosecutors said in their 14-page filing that "nothing in the dismissal of the five counts undermines the need for a very significant sentence."

"Prison Bars" by Flickr User Michael Coghlan / (CC X 2.0)

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich gave up his life-sized Elvis Presley statue when he went to prison in 2012, but not his love for the King.

Blagojevich's attorney says in court documents arguing for a reduction in his 14-year sentence that he has studied guitar and formed a band named after one of Elvis's biggest hits: "Jailhouse Rock."

Attorney Leonard Goodman says Blagojevich and another inmate have performed as "The Jailhouse Rockers'' at times. 

The question of appointing a special prosecutor in the case of the decades-old murder of a Sycamore girl will again be continued in an additional hearing next month. This time, it will include witness testimony.

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack wanted the special prosecutor request dismissed and Charles Ridulph's testimony limited. Ridulph is the brother of Maria Ridulph, who was kidnapped and murdered in 1957.

IBHE

During the recent state budget impasse, Illinois colleges and universities have been forced to scrape by without state funding, except for stop gap money designed to keep them open through the fall semester. But that may not satisfy accreditation agencies. James Applegate, director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, says the Higher Learning Commission may just home in on the fact that Illinois schools are missing what schools in other states have: a solid budget.

ilga.gov

The Illinois Auditor General has bought himself some time to tell state investigators how he spent his campaign funds.  But not a significant amount.

Frank Mautino is under investigation by the Illinois Board of Elections and US Attorney’s Office for allegedly spending more than $500,000  in campaign funds on car repairs and payments to a Spring Valley bank while a member of the Illinois House. 

He has declined to answer questions about his campaign financing, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. 

Beloved Community of DeKalb

President Barack Obama visited Dallas Tuesday in the aftermath of the killing of five officers protecting a Black Lives Matter protest last week. His comments since the event last Thursday have addressed racial tensions in that city and around the country.

Tackling issues of racial tensions has been part of a community dialog in DeKalb in recent months.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

The new virtual reality smartphone game Pokemon Go could be a game-changer for downtown DeKalb businesses.

The game is currently the top-grossing app in the Apple and Android app stores. That’s after being on the market for less than a week.

Pokemon Go requires the player to walk around in real life in order to catch different Pokemon creatures from the player’s smart phone. One function of the game is the ability to add a “lure module,” which attracts Pokemon to a specific location for a half hour at a time so people can come by and catch them.

U.S. Government

Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys face a midnight deadline for motions regarding the sentence they'd like former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to receive when his case returns to court for a resentencing hearing next month.

Both sides were given until midnight Monday to file their motions in anticipation of the scheduled Aug. 9 hearing before U.S. District Judge James Zagel.

The hearing stems from a ruling last year by an appellate court panel that threw out five of the 18 corruption charges for which Blagojevich was convicted in 2011.

WNIJ's Gas Price Monday: July 11, 2016

Jul 11, 2016
Carl Nelson/WNIJ

  The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded in Illinois is $2.30.  That, according to AAA, is nice cents cheaper than last week's average.

The cheapest gas can be found in the City of Chicago, at $2.76 per gallon.  By contrast, the cheapest gasoline is in Springfield, with an average of $2.03 per gallon.  

Finally, Rockford's per-gallon average gas price is $2.29.   

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