Illinois Budget 3.27.09
Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at www.gatehousenewsservice.com. Please check www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/news in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
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Front page gallery for March 27.
News Now updates of the week.
AG Madigan warns state police to comply with orders to expunge records
SPRINGFIELD – Attorney General Lisa Madigan is demanding that Illinois State Police immediately comply with all valid court orders to expunge records and calls the agency’s apparent failure to do so “an unbelievable defiance of the law.” A state police spokesman said all 32,000 orders for expungement the agency has received since 2004 have been “thoroughly reviewed and acted upon,” although about 2,700 weren’t complied with because the petitioner had other convictions or had sought expungement of ineligible convictions. By Chris Dettro of the State Journal-Register.
Reform panel will meet in Peoria to tackle 'government structure'
SPRINGFIELD – Political scandals associated with Illinois’ two most recent ex-governors have tainted state government’s reputation, spurring the creation of two new, reform-minded panels. One of them will gather in Peoria on Monday to discuss legislative redistricting and other subjects dealing with “government structure.” By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol Bureau. For use Monday, March 30.
STATEHOUSE INSIDER: By Doug Finke of the State Capitol Bureau. For use Sunday.
HISTORIC SITES: Gov. Pat Quinn insists he's committed to reopening shuttered state historic sites by summer, and using his proposed merger of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency with the Department of Natural Resources to make it work. But how would the merger produce enough savings to fund the closed sites, and what does that mean for IHPA's current setup? By Eric Naing of the State Capitol Bureau. For use Sunday.
State Briefs. News from around the state.
GORBACHEV VISIT: Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev visits Eureka College, the site of the historic START treaty. His American counterpart's alma mater will honor him the same day they celebrate Ronald Reagan Day. He'll visit the peace garden where a chunk of the Berlin Wall is displayed and hold a Q&A with the community. He will also speak at the Creve Couer Club’s banquet Friday night. By Catharine Schaidle of the Peoria Journal Star. Early story posted; story will be updated from the Friday night speech.
State ag director wants higher fees to make department independently funded
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ budget mess has reached the point that the director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture said Thursday it can no longer rely on the state’s general-revenue checkbook to pay for farm programs. Tom Jennings wants to eventually make the agency self-supporting, and he has proposed starting with fee increases expected to bring in $2.9 million annually. By Tim Landis of the State Journal-Register.
Quinn's budget proposal includes $6 million for fairgrounds improvements
SPRINGFIELD – About $6 million worth of improvements to the Illinois State Fairgrounds is in a proposed public-works budget for the state. The work would include a new heating and air-conditioning system at the administration building and eventual replacement of the aboveground electrical system for the entire site. By Tim Landis of the State Journal-Register.
RV salesmen optimistic people will keep camping despite economy
Even though the economy is shaky and unemployment is on the rise, Mike Miles of Coleman’s Country Campers in Springfield is optimistic about the upcoming summer. Miles, general manager of Coleman’s, said some people might change the way they camp -- by buying smaller campers or taking shorter trips, for instance -- but he thinks they will still have the urge to hook up the camper and hit the road. After all, he says, that’s what happened last year – and that’s when the price of gas shot up to more than $4 a gallon. By John Reynolds of the State Journal-Register. To localize: Check with local RV dealers to see how their business is holding up.
Movie pirates score free flicks
PEORIA – "Jesse" is a movie pirate. He's pilfered so much content online that when he peruses Netflix looking for something to watch, there's nothing for him to choose because he's seen just about everything. The San Jose resident is just one of countless numbers of people all over the world - and in central Illinois - who engage in file sharing, thanks to a rapid increase in streaming video Web sites that require little technical know-how. By Danielle Hatch of the Peoria Journal Star.
Beer lovers say there's nothing better than making it yourself
SPRINGFIELD – If 10 guys gather in a garage on a Sunday afternoon, it’s a good bet that beer will be involved. What made the gathering March 9 at Mark Sheftick’s home in west Springfield unusual is they weren’t there just to drink beer. The guys were there to make it. By Dan Naumovich of the State Journal-Register.
Family finds creative means of self-expression through art
ROCKFORD – The fiber art Ruth Ann Molyneaux creates helps her connect with how women of even meager means throughout history have kept the arts alive through quilting. The mosaics her daughter, Dr. Sara Fleming, builds make Fleming think about how the cells in the body can fit together under the microscope to form patterns that are visually identified as different disease processes. Molyneaux and Fleming will be among exhibitors at a community art show — “Mothers and Daughters: Art Across Generations.” By Georgette Braun of the Rockford Register Star.
Looking for a way to save water and money? Try a rain barrel
SPRINGFIELD – As precious a resource as water is, it makes sense to get the most out of every drop. And when hundreds of gallons of rain fall on the roof during just a one-inch rain, it becomes clear rainwater is a significant resource that homeowners rarely tap. By Chris Young of the State Journal-Register.
BRITT: Toon on Gov. Quinn and all the things he needs to fix.
Wood on Words: In either direction, palindromes say the same thing
“Able was I ere I saw Elba.” It’s called a “palindrome,” defined as “a word, phrase or sentence which reads the same forward or backward.”
Editorial: The dilemma of tossing good money at bad banks
What to make of Obama & Co.'s bank bailout - on top of Bush & Co.'s earlier bank bailout - which in terms of government spending and debt could add another 12 zeroes behind the 1 at the top of the pile? Well, Wall Street liked it, as evidenced by the Dow's big rally early in the week and its upbeat mood since. While we welcome that rebound and hope it's a sign of things to come, forgive us if Wall Street's instincts sometimes make us nervous. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.
Editorial: State workers hit too hard by Gov. Quinn's budget
On Thursday, this page praised Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to scale back pension benefits for future public employees and called for him to consider extending the state’s schedule for catching up with its pension debt. Today, we must point out the burden this budget places on state workers and teachers. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.
Editorial: Open primary bill a victim of shenanigans
In the years that Rod Blagojevich ruled Illinois, state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, like other Illinois House Democrats, tried to craft an image as a fighter of our disgraced former governor’s bad policies. We always suspected that the white hats Lang and the House Democrats have worn would be soiled once the uniting force that was Blagojevich was gone, and they were left to their own tendencies. On Wednesday, Lang proved us right as he played toady for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.
ILLINI FOOTBALL: A Q&A on the big issues facing the Illinois football team as spring practice begins with the Illini dealing with several new assistant coaches, concerns on both sides of the ball and a rugged schedule this fall. By John Supinie. For use Sunday.