Politics and Government | WGLT

Politics and Government

National Mayors' Association Focuses On Transportation

Jan 21, 2016
Ralph Weisheit

The nation's Mayors are getting a look at the new transportation bill and what's in it for them. WGLT's Hanna Gutmann reports from the national meeting in Washington that Normal Mayor Chris Koos says the biggest problem is the new bill still has an old funding mechanism and priorities.

Brian Mackey / IPR

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner says he backs a top Democrat's proposed pension overhaul as long as it includes a union-weakening provision on collective bargaining. Rauner told reporters Thursday that he spoke to Senate President John Cullerton and they agreed to move forward. But Cullerton says Rauner misrepresented their conversations.

Ralph Weisheit

A new signal will be installed at the intersection of Airport and Shepherd Roads and there’s a new agreement authorizing Nicor to serve the Town with natural gas. The council also recently weighed budget revenue and some expenses during a work session on Thursday. During WGLT's Sound Ideas 's Mike McCurdy talks with a Town Council member about all of that and more.

Rauner Says CPS Should Consider Bankruptcy

Jan 21, 2016
Steven Vance / Flickr

Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says Chicago Public Schools should look to bankruptcy court to solve its financial crisis. That’s drawing a strong rebuke from Chicago’s school and political leaders  Chicago Public Schools has been threatening to lay off teachers and staff.  It owes hundreds of millions of dollars it doesn’t have.  Governor Rauner says bankruptcy is not a dirty word.

“What it means is: Any organization, bankruptcy law is designed to protect an organization that has too much debt, that has too many liabilities.”

Councilwoman Gaines talks Normal Budget

Jan 20, 2016

City Eliminates Township

Jan 20, 2016
Xing769 / Flickr

Belleville Township officials have decided to dissolve the 130-year-old township in an effort to save money. Board members voted unanimously to shut down the township on May 15, 2017. The Belleville City Council still needs to agree to take over the township's responsibility of providing aid to needy residents. The dissolution will be revoked if the city council doesn't vote by Aug. 1 on an ordinance to take over the township's duties. Trustee Michael Hagberg expects the city to approve such an ordinance.

Steven Vance / Flickr


Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he knows why General Electric decided NOT to move its corporate headquarters to Chicago. Rauner says G-E wanted to move to Chicago for its access to O’Hare Airport, the area universities, and the city’s cultural diversity. And it wanted out of Connecticut - a state like Illinois in that it’s also been struggling with its finances and state pensions.


Michael Hill / WGLT

The Bloomington City Council is continuing to look at potential budget cuts from a task force report. They include changes affecting the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, bulk and solid waste pickup, and downtown policing.

Ralph Weisheit

The new McLean County Board leadership team is in place, Chair John McIntyre and Vice Chair Jim Soeldner. A vote followed the resignation of Chair Matt Sorensen from the board. Sorensen said he needed to avoid distracting the board from his legal troubles. Sorensen faces a five count federal fraud indictment over an alleged false billing scheme that victimized State Farm Insurance.

Trump Staying Power Surprises Durbin

Jan 18, 2016
Paul Combs / Creative Commons

US Senator Dick Durbin says it’s too early to say who could come away with the GOP nomination for President. The Illinois Democrat says that with the Iowa Caucuses two weeks away… he believes even most Republicans couldn’t yet answer that question. Durbin says in his experience… voters need to wait until early March, after a few primaries and caucuses… to get a true sense of who’s leading. But the Senator admits surprise with Donald Trump’s high polling numbers.

School Safety on Normal Town Council Agenda

Jan 18, 2016
Ralph Weisheit

The Normal Town Council will consider a $256,000 bid for a traffic signal at the intersection of Airport and Shepard Roads.  Champaign Asphalt submitted the lower of two bids.  The signal is an attempt by the town to address the high volume of traffic at nearby Grove Elementary School and Normal Community High School. 

Illinois Not Paying Electric Bill

Jan 15, 2016
Jayette Bolinski / Creative Commons

State Senator Andy Manar has filed legislation that would allow Illinois to catch up on payments to the city of Springfield's utility. The budget impasse has left the state with a mountain of debt. Manar represents a portion of Springfield. He says the state needs to take responsibility for its bills.

Normal Looking At 'Status Quo' Budget

Jan 14, 2016
Brad Basham Photography / bbasham.com and Town of Normal

Next year's budget for the Town of Normal won't look much different from this year. The Town Council is working on the spending plan. City Manager Mark Peterson says the proposal is "a little higher, but, really, no major difference in basic operations."

New Brunswick Tourism

The City of Bloomington operates three golf courses: Highland, Prairie Vista and the Den and Fox Creek. And the city is subsidizing golf at $450,000 a year while trying to reduce at $7 million dollar structural deficit. During his regular Sound Ideas appearance Mayor Tari Renner talked with Mike McCurdy about whether the city should be in the golf business and to what extent.

Sorensen Pleads Not Guilty

Jan 14, 2016
Staff / WGLT

Former McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen has pleaded not guilty to federal wire fraud charges stemming from allegations he participated in a scheme to defraud State Farm of more than $400,000.  After entering his plea Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Sorensen was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.  

McLean County Government

The scramble for the seat of McLean County Board member Matt Sorensen has already begun. Two Republicans have filed as write in candidates for the March Primary.


The social service agency PATH in Bloomington Normal will be able to keep its doors open for a few months in spite of the ongoing budget stalemate. Karen Zangerle directs Providing Access To Help.

Democrats Push Auto Voter Registration

Jan 13, 2016
Mpen320 / Creative Commons

Some Democratic lawmakers say they want to make it easier for Illinois residents to be able to vote. State Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill is sponsor of legislation to automatically register people to vote when they get or update a driver’s license.


Former McLean County Board Chair Matt Sorensen resigned from his position in county government a little more than a week after being named in a federal indictment on wire fraud charges. WGLT's Charlie Schlenker joins Sound Ideas host Willis Kern to talk about the political fall out that results.

County Board Chair Matt Sorensen on Resignation

Jan 13, 2016

Michael Hill / WGLT

More than 300 college students and twin city residents took part in a watch party at Illinois State University for President Obama’s State of the Union Address. ISU became the national hub for a live webcast sent out to nearly 500 campuses in the United States. 

Heartland Community College Student Hetal Bhirawani says she is impressed with the younger generation. “We are all interested in politics, and we want to know where we are going, where our future is going, and what the people in authority are doing to secure our future.”

Charlie Schlenker

McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen has resigned saying he does not want his legal troubles to be a distraction to the employees and elected officials of the county. Sorensen turned in a letter shortly before a meeting of the County Executive Committee. In it he said it has been a true pleasure to serve the people. Sorensen is under federal fraud indictment over an alleged false billing scheme involving Sorensen's consulting businesses. County Board Vice Chair John McIntyre says the situation is unfortunate.


Facing federal wire fraud charges, McLean County board chairman Matt Sorensen has submitted his resignation. Sorenson resigned in a letter to vice-chair John McIntyre just prior to a board executive committee meeting. In the letter, Sorensen only refers to the charges against him as "current issues." He says he doesn't want the current issues to result in a waste of public resources, and says they require him to refocus his energy and attention.

City of Bloomington

Alderman voted 6-1 to approve changes to the City of Bloomington's rental inspection program. The change in fees will pay for an additional inspector. Mayor Tari Renner joined Mike McCurdy on Sound Ideas to talk more about the changes to the ordinance. He calls the change in the fee structure "minor."

During Sound Ideas, the Mayor also talked about his State of the City remarks and options to manage or divest golf courses.

Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

The Mayor is touting economic development, infrastructure improvements, and Downtown Bloomington in his annual State of the City address. Mayor Tari Renner joined Mike McCurdy during Sound Ideas to talk more about the State of the City, which he says “is strong.” He says one of two current downtown redevelopment proposals could be dead. However the other could bring more improvement to downtown. And despite Mitsubishi ceasing production, he says there was lots of other positive economic news in 2015.

Brian Mackey / IPR

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is continuing to poke Mayor Rahm Emanuel over the finances at Chicago Public Schools. Chicago Public Schools has threatened to lay off teachers as soon as next month if it doesn’t receive some cash from Springfield. Rauner has refused to budge. In an interview Tuesday with WBEZ at the governor’s mansion in Springfield - I asked Rauner three times if he thinks that threat of layoffs is a bluff. Rauner wouldn’t answer directly. Instead - he repeated his criticisms of Mayor Emanuel for not pushing Rauner’s anti-union measures.

Details Lacking On Downtown Hotel Proposal

Jan 12, 2016
Devyn Corp., Tarter Construction, Farnsworth Group

Bloomington's Mayor says without additional information, one of the two proposals for a downtown hotel is dead.

Developers David Bentley of Bloomington and Jeff Giebelhausen of Peoria have floated separate plans for a downtown hotel. During an appearance on GLT's Sound Ideas, Mayor Tari Renner says Bentley hasn't responded to consultant requests for more information about his plans to transform the Pantagraph into a boutique hotel.

Michael Hill / WGLT

Bloomington landlords will pay higher registration fees to help close the gap in the rental inspection program. The Bloomington City Council voted in favor of the increase during the first regular meeting of the year.