News

Springfield, IL – GOVERNOR ROD BLAGOJEVICH'S HUGE CAPITAL CONSTRUCTION PROGRAM IS GETTING A HEARING IN THE ILLINOIS HOUSE, BUT HARDLY ANYONE IS LISTENING.

DEMOCRATIC HOUSE SPEAKER MICHAEL MADIGAN'S CHIEF BUDGET NEGOTIATOR FINALLY CALLED FOR ORDER IN THE NOISY HOUSE CHAMBER AFTER BEING APPROACHED BY FRUSTRATED REPUBLICAN LEADER TOM CROSS.

Chicago, IL – A SPECIAL BUMPER STICKER WILL BE UNVEILED DURING THE GREEN PARTY NATIONAL CONVENTION.

CARBONDALE ATTORNEY RICH WHITNEY - THE GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR IN 2006 - WILL DEBUT THE STICKER DURING A RECEPTION HE'S HOSTING TOMORROW NIGHT AT THE PALMER HOUSE HILTON IN CHICAGO.

THE STICKER READS, "DON'T BLAME ME, I VOTED WHITNEY FOR GOVERNOR."

WHITNEY SAYS HE THINKS THE MESSAGE MAKES SENSE IN LIGHT OF THE CURRENT CLIMATE IN ILLINOIS STATE GOVERNMENT.

Springfield, IL – A NEW CANCER INSTITUTE BUILDING WILL SOON BE OPEN TO OFFER STATE-OF-THE ART EVALUATION AND TREATMENT FACILITIES TO CANCER PATIENTS IN CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ILLINOIS.

THE S-I-U SCHOOL OF MEDICINE'S NEW SIMMONS-COOPER CANCER INSTITUTE IS NEARING COMPLETION IN SPRINGFIELD AND WILL INCLUDE CANCER CARE COMBINED WITH RESEARCH STUDIES AND COLLABORATIONS.

Springfield, IL – THE ILLINOIS ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE HAS LAUNCHED A NEW GUIDE TO RECALLED CHILDREN'S ITEMS.

THE "MOST WANTED GUIDE" CONTAINS IMAGES AND INFORMATION ON 170 CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS RECALLED SINCE JANUARY, TOTALING 10-MILLION UNITS RECALLED.

ATTORNEY GENERAL DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF CARA SMITH SAYS JUST BECAUSE YOU BOUGHT AN ITEM AT A REPUTABLE STORE DOESN'T MEAN IT'S SAFE. SHE SAYS DANGEROUS PRODUCTS CAN BE FOUND ALMOST EVERYWHERE.

Springfield, IL – ILLINOIS FARMERS SOON WILL HAVE A CHEAP AND CONVENIENT OPPORTUNITY TO DISPOSE OF THEIR EMPTY AGRI-CHEMICAL CONTAINERS.

THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE HAS ARRANGED TO OFFER A FREE PESTICIDE CONTAINER RECYCLING PROGRAM THIS SUMMER.

NEXT MONTH, SITES IN PARTS OF SOUTHERN ILLINOIS WILL COLLECT THE CONTAINERS AND GRIND THEM INTO SMALL PLASTIC CHIPS THAT WILL BE USED TO MAKE SHIPPING PALLETS, FENCE POSTS, DRAINAGE TUBING, PLASTIC LUMBER AND HAZARDOUS WASTE DRUMS.

Springfield, IL – SEVERAL SOUTHERN ILLINOIS FIRE DEPARTMENTS WILL RECEIVE HELP FROM THE STATE TO PURCHASE SMALL EQUIPMENT AND PROTECTIVE CLOTHING.

STATE GRANTS RANGING FROM $5,500 TO OVER $25,000 ARE BEING DISTRIBUTED TO FIRE DEPARTMENTS IN ALBION, FAIRFIELD, MT. CARMEL, MURPHYSBORO, SESSER, STEELEVILLE AND PERCY.

THE MONEY CAN BE USED TO PURCHASE SUCH THINGS AS TURNOUT COATS FOR FIREFIGHTERS AND EXTRICATION EQUIPMENT. LARGER ITEMS, SUCH AS FIRE TRUCKS, ARE NOT ELIGIBLE UNDER THIS PROGRAM.

Springfield, IL – THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE HAS STARTED PAYING MORE THAN $2 MILLION TO FARMERS WHO LOST EITHER CROPS OR MONEY WHEN A SOUTHWEST ILLINOIS GRAIN-ELEVATOR OPERATOR CLOSED.

THE GRAIN EXCHANGE OWNED ELEVATORS IN CARLYLE, BARTELSO, SANDOVAL AND GERMANTOWN WHEN IT CLOSED IN FEBRUARY.

THE AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT SAYS 100 FARMERS LOST A COMBINED $2.1 MILLION WHEN THE COMPANY CLOSED FEBRUARY 18TH.

St. Louis, MO – With floodwaters continuing to recede, the Coast Guard has reopened the St. Louis harbor on the Mississippi River to commercial traffic.
The river remains closed to recreational boats for a stretch of about 133 miles of the upper Mississippi River, from Saverton through south St. Louis County.
The extremely high water from June flooding made it too dangerous to travel on the river.
The Illinois River remains closed to recreational vessels for a 24-mile stretch, as does a 21-mile stretch of the Kaskaskia River.

Springfield, IL – STATE GOVERNMENT IS WORSE OFF THAN YOU THINK...

Carbondale, IL – JOHN Y. SIMON, THE AWARD-WINNING HISTORIAN AND LONGTIME SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY CARBONDALE PROFESSOR WHO SERVED FOR MANY YEARS AS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ULYSSES S. GRANT ASSOCIATION, DIED THIS MORNING AT THE AGE OF 75.

SIMON COLLECTED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOCUMENTS ABOUT GRANT, EDITING AND ORGANIZING THEM OVER A PERIOD MORE THAN 40 YEARS INTO AN UNRIVALED COLLECTION. THE ASSOCIATION IS CURRENTLY WRAPPING UP WORK ON THE 31ST AND FINAL VOLUME.

Carbondale, IL – AS LAWMAKERS HEAD BACK TO THE CAPITOL TOMORROW TO WORK ON THE BUDGET... SIU LEADERS SAY THEY'RE HOPING FOR THE BEST... BUT PREPARING FOR OTHER OPTIONS.

INTERIM SIU-C CHANCELLOR SAM GOLDMAN SAYS AT THIS POINT... NOT KNOWING WHAT'S COMING IS JUST AS DIFFICULT AS ANYTHING ELSE.

GOLDMAN SAYS HE REMAINS HOPEFUL THE LEGISLATURE CAN COME TO SOME COMPROMISE WITH THE GOVERNOR ON HOW TO PLUG A NEARLY $2 BILLION HOLE IN THE FISCAL PLAN.

Springfield, IL – BUDGET DELAYS AND CONSTRUCTION SETBACKS HAVE POSTPONED THE OPENING OF THE S-I-U SCHOOL OF MEDICINE CANCER INSTITUTE.
THE RIBBON-CUTTING FOR THE $22.5 MILLION SIMMONS-COOPER CANCER INSTITUTE WILL GO ON AS PLANNED THIS WEEK.

IT WAS SCHEDULED TO OPEN JULY FIRST. BUT THE FINAL $895,000 NEEDED TO HEAT, COOL, AND LIGHT THE BUILDING IS STILL AWAITING APPROVAL FROM THE LEGISLATURE.

S-I-U SPOKESMAN DAVID GROSS SAYS HE DOUBTS LEGISLATORS WILL DISCUSS FUNDING DURING THEIR SPECIAL SESSION THIS WEEK.

Springfield, IL – A new campaign was launched in Illinois and across the United States today.

Health care advocates say the goal is to pressure John McCain and Barack Obama ... as well as Congress ... into creating a national health care plan.

The coalition known as "Health Care for American Now" isn't advocating any one specific program. But William McNary ... an activist from Illinois ... says a "must" is that it not rely solely on private insurance companies.

Southern Illinois – THE PROPOSED FEE STRUCTURE FOR THE SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST IS DRAWING PLENTY OF CRITICISM.

SAM STEARNS - PUBLIC EDUCATION COORDINATOR FOR THE FRIENDS OF THE BELL SMITH SPRINGS LANDMARK - SAYS HE DOESN'T MIND PAYING A FEE FOR A PRODUCT OR A SERVICE. BUT HE SAYS THE FOREST SERVICE SHOULD NOT BE CHARGING A FIVE DOLLAR FEE FOR PEOPLE TO ACCESS PUBLIC LAND FOR SUCH THINGS AS TAKING A HIKE OR GOING TO A PICNIC.

Taylorville, IL – The Green Party candidate seeking to unseat Republican Congressman John Shimkus died unexpectedly Friday night.

75-year-old Vic Roberts passed away in his sleep.

Green Party spokesperson Rich Whitney said Roberts' death came as a shock. Whitney said the former coal miner will be missed as a strong advocate for the working man.

Roberts had run previously as a Democratic candidate in the 19th Congressional district before running unopposed in the Green Party primary this year.

Springfield, IL – If Illinois Senator Barack Obama were to be elected president, who would replace him in the Senate?

Lt. Governor Pat Quinn believes it is better to wait and see what happens in November, rather than speculating early on potential replacements.

Illinois law dictates that should a senator resign his position, his or her replacement will be chosen by the governor. Governor Rod Blagojevich isn't directly endorsing anyone at this time, but there are some potential shortlist names.

Washington, D.C. – THE FBI IS WARNING PEOPLE OF A SCAM INVOLVING JURY DUTY.

AUTHORITIES SAY THE CALLER CLAIMS TO BE A
JURY COORDINATOR.

HE SAYS YOU FAILED TO REPORT FOR JURY DUTY AND THAT A WARRANT IS OUT FOR YOUR ARREST. YOU SAY YOU NEVER RECEIVED A NOTICE. TO CLEAR IT UP, THE CALLER SAYS HE'LL NEED SOME INFORMATION FOR "VERIFICATION PURPOSES"-YOUR BIRTH DATE, SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, MAYBE EVEN A CREDIT CARD NUMBER.

THE FBI SAYS THAT'S WHEN YOU SHOULD HANG UP THE PHONE BECAUSE IT'S A SCAM.

Springfield, IL – STATE GOVERNMENT'S LARGEST WORKERS' UNION IS STARTING TO USE THE TERM STRIKE.

AFSCME SPOKESPERSON ANDERS LINDALL SAYS THE TEMPERATURE OF 37,000 MEMBERS WHO WORK FOR THE STATE IS BEING TAKEN BY PLEDGE CARDS, WHICH ASK IF MEMBERS ARE WILLING TO GO ON STRIKE, AMONG OTHER POSSIBILITIES.

Springfield, IL – ILLINOIS TAXPAYERS WILL HAVE TO COUGH UP $80,000 OR MORE TO PAY FOR STATE LAWMAKERS' RETURN TO SPRINGFIELD THIS WEEK.

GOVERNOR ROD BLAGOJEVICH CALLED A SPECIAL SESSION FOR WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY TO DEAL WITH WHAT HE SAYS IS AN OUT-OF-BALANCE STATE BUDGET. HE WANTS LEGISLATORS TO APPROVE NEW REVENUE STREAMS TO SUPPORT THEIR SPENDING PLANS.

EACH LEGISLATOR IS ENTITLED TO $129 A DAY FOR LODGING AND MEALS TOTALING ABOUT $45,000. THEY GET $0.50 A MILE FOR USING PERSONAL CARS. THAT COULD COST NEARLY $30,000.

Springfield, IL – ILLINOIS GOVERNOR ROD BLAGOJEVICH IS LOOKING TO LAWMAKERS TO HELP HIM OUT OF A FISCAL BIND. BUT THERE'S NO INDICATION THEY'LL COOPERATE.

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVED A BUDGET IN MAY.... BUT THE HOUSE NEVER CAME THROUGH WITH ALL THE MONEY TO PAY FOR IT. THAT'S FORCED BLAGOJEVICH TO CONSIDER MORE THAN ONE AND A HALF BILLION DOLLARS IN SPENDING CUTS UNLESS THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVES MORE FUNDING.

Springfield, IL – A GOOD CHUNK OF THE DAY'S TALK LATELY HAS BEEN ABOUT RISING GAS PRICES, BUT A SOUTHERN ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN THINK WE'LL SEE WORSE.

COLLINSVILLE REPUBLICAN JOHN SHIMKUS SAYS RISING ENERGY COSTS WILL AGAIN HIT CONSUMERS HARD THIS WINTER, WHEN HE EXPECTS NATURAL GAS PRICES TO JUMP.

SHIMKUS SAYS THAT'S WHY THE U-S MUST DEDICATE MORE RESOURCES TO ALTERNATIVE LIQUID ENERGY SOURCES OTHER THAN ETHANOL.

Belleville, IL – ILLINOIS IS ONE OF SIX STATES THAT WILL PARTICIPATE IN A NEW NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND PILOT PROGRAM.

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION SPOKESWOMAN ANDREA PRESTON SAYS THE DIFFERENTIATED ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAM WILL GIVE SCHOOLS FLEXIBILITY IN MEETING FEDERAL GUIDELINES, WHICH ARE OFTEN CRITICIZED AS TOO RIGID.

THE PROGRAM ALLOWS STATES TO SEPARATE UNDERPERFORMING SCHOOLS INTO CATEGORIES.

``COMPREHENSIVE'' SCHOOLS UNIFORMLY UNDERPERFORM WHILE IN ``FOCUSED'' SCHOOLS, SELECT GROUPS OR PROGRAMS NEED IMPROVEMENT.

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