Politics and Government

Jim Bowen/Flickr

By now you probably have a sense that things in Illinois state politics have gotten downright nasty - even if it's not completely clear what all the fighting is about. But there's more to that fight than the public gets to see. There's squabbling and gamesmanship and backbiting that rarely makes the news. Democrats have been using tactics to get under the skin of Governor Bruce Rauner.  But as IPR's Tony Arnold reports, Rauner has also been doing something that's really been getting under Democrats skin.

Nora Dukowitz / City of Bloomington

The Bloomington City Council approved $130,000 to improve part of the northern shore of Lake Bloomington. The area, also known as North Park, has erosion that can affect water quality and capacity for the city. Water Director Bob Yehl says the department wants to use money wisely when it comes to preventing erosion.
 

Redbirds For Bernie Blame Media Neglect

Sep 28, 2015

Senator Bernie Sanders supporters in Bloomington Normal have chips on their shoulders over what they see as media neglect of the candidate. Along with several ISU students on the bridge above College Avenue, was retired teacher Bill Smith. He says he joined the Redbirds for Bernie demonstration to get people to give serious thought to voting in the Democratic primary.

Students at the University of Chicago Monday cheered on Democratic candidate for president Bernie Sanders during a brief campaign stop. Sanders, a Senator from Vermont, bemoaned low voter turnout and encouraged students to get involved in the political process.  

Sanders said the Supreme Court decision eliminating contribution caps with the idea that spending equals free speech hurts the nation.

Critics say Sanders is too liberal ... but he's gaining in polls against presumed Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Hastert Plea Deal Under Negotiation

Sep 28, 2015

Prosecutors and defense attorneys for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert have told a federal judge they're talking about a possible plea deal in the Republican's hush-money case. The disclosure came during a hearing in federal court in Chicago for the 73-year-old Republican. Details weren't immediately released. The one-time teacher and wrestling coach has pleaded not guilty to violating banking laws and lying to the FBI.  A May indictment says Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million to someone, identified only as ``Individual A,'' to hide past misconduct.

License Renewal Notifications To End

Sep 28, 2015

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White says his office will suspend mailing reminder notices on renewing motor vehicle registrations because there's still no state budget. White said Monday that interrupting the mailing service will save about $450,000 a month. White sent Gov. Bruce Rauner a letter last week warning of potential major problems at government facilities related to the budget standoff. He says vendors aren't being paid and are threatening to suspend services. He also worries that utilities could be shut off at the state Capitol in Springfield.  

Illinois is about to enter its fourth month without a budget. One of the state's top Democrats says the problem could be resolved within days ... if the governor moved off his insistence that other laws pass first.  IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports. 

A recent agreement means that -- despite the budget impasse -- Illinois WILL fund services for babies with disabilities. But as IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports, therapists and children who rallied at the Statehouse today say their worries aren't over.


Justin Brocke / Flickr

There was a bit of commotion in the Illinois Capitol when an activist hijacked a committee hearing. He called for the impeachment of Governor Bruce Rauner. IPR's Brian Mackey has more.


Durbin Likes Pope's Message

Sep 24, 2015
(flicker)

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is impressed by Pope Francis' joint address to congress. Durbin calls the pope an inspiration not just through his words, but his actions.

Applications are available to replace Darin LaHood in the Illinois Legislature. LaHood resigned from the Illinois Senate and recently won a seat in Congress, replacing former US Rep. Aaron Schock. Schock resigned earlier this year after questions about spending. Republican Party leaders from the ten counties in the state Senate district have created a formal selection committee. LaHood is a Republican. Henry County GOP leader Jan Weber is leading the selection committee, which tentatively set Oct. 4 as the day to meet and choose a replacement.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office is warning lawmakers that the Republican will veto a $3.8 billion spending bill pending in the Illinois House. The measure approved by the Senate this month would provide funds for breast cancer screenings, autism treatment, lottery payouts and more during the state budget stalemate.

Some have argued the Bloomington Budget Task Force process was a charade to give Aldermen political cover to make unpleasant choices in higher taxes and budget cuts. But, Task Force Chair David Sage says there are two valuable things the task force provided, first an honest assessment from established leaders about the choices before the city.

Mike McCurdy / WGLT

The community budget task force has presented its final recommendations to Aldermen and the community. Aldermen also took action on one of the funding recommendations in the task force presentation - a one-percent sales tax increase. WGLT's Mike McCurdy talked with two members of the task force during Sound Ideas.

Aaron Schock Documents Dribble Out

Sep 18, 2015

Aaron Schock has submitted 72 more documents to a federal judge that he is arguing shouldn't be released to prosecutors as part of an investigation into the former congressman. Schock's attorney filed a memo to US District Judge Sue Myerscough. The judge will review the 72 new documents along with others and decide if they will be given to prosecutors. Schock's attorneys are expected to file a brief later this month telling the judge why they think the documents shouldn't be released.

Darin LaHood Sworn In As Congressman

Sep 18, 2015

Dunlop Republican Darin LaHood has been sworn in to represent Illinois 18th district in Congress. WGLT Washington Correspondent Hanna Gutmann reports he immediately made it clear he's no Aaron Schock, the Congressman who resigned amid an ethics investigation

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The son of former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is the newest House member, replacing a disgraced former congressman in a reliably Republican district in central Illinois. Republican Darin LaHood was sworn in today, and Republicans now hold 247 of the 435 House seats, the most since 1931.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that three people in Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration began doing work for him while on the state comptroller's payroll. Emails show that two employees were arranging hiring for the governor's Cabinet agencies just weeks after the Republican was elected.

Brad Basham Photography / www.bbasham.com & Town of Normal

The Town of Normal is following its twin to the south and developing a new comprehensive plan. The plan, when finished, will guide the Town for the next two decades. The City adopted its plan, guided by the McLean County Regional Planning Commission, earlier this year. And the Town of Normal plan won’t be adopted until late 2016, leaving plenty of time for community and citizen input.

City of Bloomington

A key piece of funding that could go a long way to help solve the City of Bloomington structural deficit and help fund other initiatives is being discussed by Bloomington Aldermen. Mayor Tari Renner joined WGLT's Mike McCurdy during Sound Ideas.

Kotowski Leaves State Senate

Sep 15, 2015

State Senator Dan Kotowski says he's stepping down from the Illinois Senate next month to become president of a nonprofit group that benefits at-risk children and families. Kotowski says his last day representing the 28th District in Chicago's suburbs will be October 5. The Park Ridge Democrat has held the seat for nine years. Kotowski will be president and CEO of ChildServ, which has offices in Chicago, Elgin, Naperville and Waukegan and also does work in Chicago's southern suburbs. The nonprofit provides family support groups and youth group homes, among other services.

Federal prosecutors say Aaron Schock has "deceptively refused" to hand over all of the documents they've subpoenaed as part of an investigation into the former congressman. Assistant US Attorney Timothy Bass wrote documents not yet turned over include emails between Schock and congressional staffers, his campaign treasurer, his friends and sister. The Peoria Republican has turned over about 10,000 financial records. He is to make another nearly 3,000 records available by Thursday for a judge to decide if they will be given to prosecutors.

Bloomington Council Highlights Priorities At Weekend Retreat

Sep 14, 2015
WGLT's Michael Hill

Bloomington council members are beginning to narrow down their priorities for the next fiscal year. Aldermen met with Mayor Tari Renner and city staff during a retreat over the weekend to discuss the city's goals for the future. Renner said the group is committed to working together on those goals.

"We really are beginning to know, and work, like each other and move forward and that's only good news for our great community."

A federal judge has given lawyers for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert more time to file pre-trial motions in his hush-money case. Attorneys for the Illinois Republican and federal prosecutors filed a joint motion Thursday asking for a two-week extension of Monday's filing deadline.

The two sides say they've been discussing issues Hastert's lawyers may raise. They say the extension may give them time to address those issues so the motions won't be necessary. U. S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin granted the motion Friday without comment.

Schock Appears

Sep 11, 2015

Former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock has made a rare public appearance since resigning from his congressional seat earlier this year amid an intensifying spending scandal.  
 

Crain's Chicago Business reports the Republican attended a Navy Seal Foundation fundraiser Wednesday at a Chicago hotel with other high-profile guests. His appearance came on the eve of a special election to replace him, won by Republican State Senator Darin LaHood.  

Wisconsin Republican Governor and Presidential Candidate Scott Walker stopped in Eureka to unveiled his "on day one" campaign platform at President Ronald Reagan's alma mater. IPR's Cass Herrington reports.

Walker spoke from the stage where the 40th president gave his first political speech as a college freshman. Walker likened himself to Reagan who he calls a fighter for small government and American values.

As the budget stalemate continues, Republican State Representative Bill Mitchell of Forsyth says the state needs a budget, and that means the Governor and legislators have to compromise. Mitchell isn't pointing the finger at any one party for the impasse:

Twittergate Finalized

Sep 9, 2015

The Peoria City Council has approved a $125,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed by a man whose home was raided by police over a fake Twitter account he created depicting the mayor as a lewd fan of drugs and alcohol. There was no discussion. When the deal was announced last week, attorneys for 30-year-old Jon Daniel of Peoria called it ``a civics lessons'' for governments around Illinois that parody isn't cause for a police investigation. The deal includes no admission that Peoria did anything wrong. Daniel has said he is satisfied with the settlement.

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