Mayor Chris Koos of Normal is speaking out against a wave of xenophobia aimed at Syrian refugees. Koos is among 62 U.S. Mayors who have signed an open letter to Congress saying a ban on Syrian refugees is not warranted.

Koos says the Syrians who become refugees are not radical, and not militant. Koos urges taking a step back from politics and taking a look at the thorough process already in place.

Rauner Doubles Down On Syria Position

15 minutes ago

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s pursuing legal options to prevent Syrian refugees from coming into the state. Rauner has said there are security threats to America following attacks in Paris. He says he’s not getting the answers he wants from the Obama administration on who’s coming to Illinois. Rauner is talking to lawyers about how a governor could actually stop Syrian refugees from entering the state.

Meantime Democratic Senator Dick Durbin has rebuked Rauner’s statements, saying Syrian refugees pass strict tests for U.S. entry.


Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says the state is taking precautions ahead of the release of a video showing a Chicago police officer shooting and killing a 17-year-old.

Rauner is asking the state police to coordinate with Chicago police. He wouldn’t say if he’s also talked with the state’s National Guard - which falls under the command of the governor.

The Cook County state's attorney is defending the amount of time it took to charge a white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times in a killing caught on dashcam video. Anita Alvarez's office announced a first-degree murder charge, just a day before a deadline the city faces for releasing the video and more than a year after the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Alvarez said cases involving police officers present ``highly complex'' legal issues and she would rather take the time to get it right than ``rush to judgment.''  

Two Libertarian political candidates are asking a federal court to declare unconstitutional an Illinois ban on political contributions from the medical marijuana industry. Claire Ball of Addison and Scott Schluter of Marion filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago last week. They say they support marijuana legalization and want to solicit campaign donations from the marijuana industry. Illinois law bars such contributions.  

Harris Verdict Upheld

27 minutes ago

An appellate court has upheld the convictions of a man for fatally beating five members of his ex-wife's family in their central Illinois home. The Fourth District Appellate Court denied the appeal of 35-year-old Christopher Harris. He's serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for killing Ruth and Rick Gee and three of their children in Beason on Sept. 21, 2009. Harris argued the trial court erred in refusing to admit 2007 statements from the Gees saying they worried about violent outbursts by a son, 14-year-old Dillen Constant. Constant also was beaten to death.

As the sun gets ready to set on production at the Mitsubishi plant in Normal, supporters of the workers gather to demonstrate their gratitude. Jeff Woodard of the McLean County Museum of History was among them.

Woodard put in over 15 years at the plant, leaving in 2005. He says the people with whom he worked, and the job, stay with him. Most workers have been there for two decades or longer.

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

Straight from the deserts of Asia and the Middle East, the leopard gecko has become a popular choice for lizard lovers.  This edition of Animal House looks at why this particular gecko is considered a great starter lizard.

MMNA, Inc.

Kent Ferguson has been looking for a job. He's one of the Mitsubishi workers losing his job with the end of production at the plant in Normal. As part of GLT's coverage of the plant transition, Charlie Schlenker visited again with Ferguson. He has interviewed in several places, a tool making test to gain entry to a pool of applicants for Harley Davidson in Menominee Falls, Wisconsin, interviews in Chatanooga, Urbana, Tesla in California, really all over the place. Kent's experience shows that in manufacturing, as in any profession, your skill set matters.

Michael Hill / WGLT

 A 5 to 4 vote from the Bloomington City Council favored a development of 68 residential units on Ekstam Drive near the Central Illinois Regional Airport. People living in Bloomington’s Ward 3, where the property is located, opposed the measure by contacting their alderman Mboka Mwilambwe. 

Many agencies and organizations that rely on state funding are hard hit by the budget stalemate in Springfield.  The state isn’t mandated to fund higher education the way it must fund K-through-12 education, and the state’s colleges are feeling the pinch.  IPR's Heather Claborn reports.

The University of Illinois took an unusual step this year to increase its in-state enrollment, accepting students with lower entrance-exam scores to enroll while increasing financial aid by several million dollars.  
The moves worked. In-state enrollment jumped by 11 percent, to 5,490 from 4,927 a year earlier. The average ACT score for freshmen dropped by less than a point for in-state students at the flagship Urbana-Champaign campus.  

Obama Library Position Hired

Nov 23, 2015

The Obama Foundation has hired a native Chicagoan and former aide to President Barack Obama for a key role in the development of his presidential library and museum. It says Michael Strautmanis will become its vice president of civic engagement in January. He's currently vice president for corporate citizenship at the Walt Disney Co.  

Strautmanis will be in charge of developing and leading outreach efforts and civic engagement for the Obama Foundation. He served in a number of engagement positions with Obama during the president's first term.

Charges Tossed In Champaign County

Nov 23, 2015

A man who spent more than two years in jail on gun charges in Champaign County has been released after a judge says that the state didn't bring him to trial within an appropriate timeframe. Champaign County Judge Heidi Ladd dismissed armed habitual criminal charges against 43-year-old Kevin Pettis. He was accused of firing a gun into the air during an incident in July 2013 in Champaign. He was released Nov. 16. State's Attorney Julia Rietz says she plans to ask an appeals court to review Ladd's ruling.  

Compass Records

Alison Brown is the CEO of Compass Records. She's also a mom, an MBA and a musician. GLT's Bruce Bergethon spoke with the woman who's working to redefine her instrument of choice.

Three candidates have filed to run as Republicans for McLean County Coroner. Current Coroner Kathy Davis was appointed to fill a vacancy. Challenging her in the GOP primary next year will be Ryan Gibson and Gary Morefield. Monday was the first day of the petition filing period. The County Clerk's office also says there will be a contested race for County Board in District 10. Josh Barnett will try to knock off incumbent Ben Owens in the GOP primary for District 10 on the County Board.

Jacob Blickenstaff

Hammond B3 master Adam Scone has has been a sideman in a diverse array of settings.  Among others, he's played in the bands of jazz legend Lou Donaldson and roots rocker JJ Grey & Mofro.  The title of Scone's latest album as a leader is "I Scream Scone." 

Judith Valente / WGLT

In the months since Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing announced that it is closing its plant in Normal, GLT News has been checking in with three longtime employees to see how they, their families and fellow workers are coping. On Tuesday, production line worker Mick Hannah will assemble the final Mitsubishi Outlander sport vehicles at the plant.

The Democratic primary race for comptroller is over before it ever began; only today can candidates begin filing paperwork to run. They have until the end of the month. But Illinois State Senator Daniel Biss  says he won't turn in his petitions at all.  

Laura Kennedy / WGLT

The animal kingdom inspired the latest exhibition at the McLean County Arts Center in Bloomington.

Bloomington Police say they have arrested three people in a drug investigation, an adult and two juveniles. Officers also say they seized two stolen handguns, ammunition, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. 20-year old Diondre Thornton-Kirkwood faces charges involving the weapons and criminal fortification of a residence. A 16 year old juvenile was arrested for cannabis delivery. A 15 year old juvenile was taken in on a warrant.

A SWAT team and crisis negotiators helped officers end the standoff that began when police tried to serve a warrant.

A federal mediator is meeting for a second time with Heartland Community College faculty union negotiators and the administration. The Union has already authorized a strike as early as next Friday. A five year contract expired at the end of June and the two sides remain far apart on pay and benefit issues, particularly the cost of healthcare. Heartland Trustees will meet Monday to discuss the walkout possibility.

The Illinois National Guard says the commander who led its largest post-World War II deployment has retired. Major Gen. Scott Thoele led the National Guard's 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team to Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009. Roughly 3,000 members of the Illinois-based brigade were deployed. Thoele called his time as commander of the brigade the highlight of his 21-year career.

He is also a veteran of the war in Iraq. Thoele also recently retired from his civilian job as vice president of a bank in Quincy where he and his wife, Paula, live.

Winter Is Coming

Nov 20, 2015

Northern Illinois could see 10 inches of snow as the first wintry storm of the season comes into the state.  
 The National Weather Service says a mix of rain and snow Friday evening will turn to snow on Saturday. Snowfall totals will be as high as 8 to 10 inches across north-central Illinois. The area near Interstate 80 is forecast to see 3 to 6 inches and the shores of Lake Michigan should see 2 to 5 inches.  Central Illinois including the WGLT listening area will see 1 to 3 inches.

E2 Owners Resentenced

Nov 20, 2015

The two owners of a Chicago nightclub where 21 people were crushed to death in a stairwell in 2003 have been sentenced to two years of probation. Cook County Circuit Court Associate Judge Daniel Gillespie also ordered Calvin Hollins Jr. and Dwain Kyles to perform 500 hours of community service.  

Hollins and Kyles thanked the judge for the sentence during Friday's hearing. The two had originally been sentenced to two years in prison, but an appeals court threw out those sentences in 2013 and ordered them resentenced.  

Poe Post Filled

Nov 20, 2015

The chief of staff to Illinois first lady Diana Rauner has been appointed to the state House of Representatives. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez of Springfield will replace Republican Raymond Poe. Poe resigned last week to become Gov. Bruce Rauner's state agriculture director.

Sangamon County GOP Chairwoman Rosemarie Long made the announcement Friday. The 36-year-old Jimenez is a former television reporter who was also press spokeswoman to a Democratic state treasurer and then-House Republican Leader Tom Cross. She joined the first lady's staff in January.  

David Prasad / Flickr via Creative Commons

Time to untangle those Christmas lights and turn your yard into something special.  Host Patrick Murphy has a few ideas to try, ranging from the traditional to a healthy dollop of pop culture.

Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr via Creative Commons

One of the framers of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act says that law ushered in many physical accommodations for the disabled, but failed in some ways to change society's attitudes about people with disabilities. Nationally-known advocate Marca Bristo told a Bloomington audience last night that educational and employment opportunities remain a challenge for the disabled.

Michael Hill / WGLT

The Bloomington City Council is working together to decrease negativity during council meetings. Alderman Kevin Lower says part of that is being more respectful to the public.

Aldermen met during a retreat to follow up on topics discussed at a council retreat in September. 

Staff / WGLT

November 20  Illinois State University Environmental Health and Safety opened the package and discovered documents, according to ISU spokesperson Eric Jome. He says the suspicion regarding the parcel was based on a misunderstanding about the origin and intent of the package.

November 19, 7:38 PM The package has been turned over to ISU's Environmental Health and Safety Office. Jome says staff with office will open the package in a controlled environment tomorrow. Jome says he doesn't know which professor received the package or where it originated.