News Headlines – February 15, 2017

February 14th, 2018

>>Rauner Unveils Budget 

(Chicago, IL) — Governor Rauner is pushing for extensive changes in public pension systems and cuts to employee health care as the keys to his 38-billion-dollar balanced budget.  In his budget address, Rauner said making schools pay more of their teachers’ pensions and cutting retiree health care will save the state about one-point-three-billion-dollars and pave the way for a tax cut.  He said the people of Illinois are taxed out and that a tax cut should be the number one priority for lawmakers.  Rauner’s primary election opponent Jeanne Ives called Rauner’s budget phony.  Democrats said shifting school pension costs to local taxes penalizes poor districts.

>>Two New Legionnaires Cases Confirmed At Quincy Veterans Home 

(Springfield, IL)  —  There are new howls from Illinois lawmakers after the state’s Department of Public Health confirmed two new cases of Legionnaires Disease at the veterans home in Quincy. The IDPH confirmed the cases late Monday night, and yesterday morning lawmakers started demanding answers and accountability. Democratic state Senator Tom Cullerton yesterday said that there’s no more time to waste on task forces and dodging questions. He wants to know immediately how the state intends to fix the problems at the home. So far 13 people at the home have died from Legionnaires since 2015, and dozens more have gotten sick. 

>>Speaker Madigan Refuses To Step Down Amid Harassment Questions 

(Springfield, IL)  —  Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan says he’s not stepping down, even as there are more questions about how he and his campaign handled a sexual harassment complaint last year. Madigan told reporters at the statehouse yesterday that he intends to stand up to the governor, but didn’t answer many of the questions raised by former campaign worker Alaina Hampton who complained about the behavior of a top Madigan politico a year ago. One of the Democrats running for governor, Chris Kennedy, said Madigan needs to resign immediately. 

>>No Charges For Peoria Teacher Accused Of Sex With Student 

(Peoria, IL)  —  Prosecutors in Peoria say they aren’t filing charges yet against a local high school teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with a student. Richwoods High School teacher Phillip Earhart walked out of jail yesterday without being charged. Peoria County States’ Attorney Jerry Brady said that doesn’t mean charges won’t be filed. Earhart is on paid leave while police and Peoria school leaders look into the allegations against him. 

>>Trial Delayed For Southern Illinois Man Accused Of Killing Parents 

(Murphysboro, IL)  —  It’ll be the summer before the man accused of gunning down his parents last year could be before a jury. A judge Jackson County yesterday delayed Keith Ritcheson’s murder trial for several months. Ritcheson’s lawyers say they need to go through the evidence in the case. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is not saying why they think that Ritcheson shot and killed his parents Brenda and Burl. 

>>Charges Dropped Against Suburban Cop In Drug Ring 

(Wheaton, IL)  —  A former Schaumburg police officer isn’t going to trial on charges that he dealt drugs while on the force. Prosecutors in DuPage County yesterday dropped the charges against John Cichy. Police had said that he and two other officers forced confidential informants to sell drugs that they seized. The other officers, Matthew Hudak and Terrance O’Brien, are serving more than 20 years in prison for their roles in the drug ring. Prosecutors say they didn’t have enough evidence against Cichy to take the case to trial.

News Headlines – February 14, 2017

February 14th, 2018

>>Rauner To Deliver Budget Address Amid New Spending Pressures 

(Springfield, IL)  —  Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is going to need to find a bit more than a billion-and-a-half new dollars to make ends meet in his new budget.  The governor is set to deliver his budget address today at noon.  In addition to the lingering eight-and-a-half-billion-dollars in unpaid bills, the governor is going to have to find 350-million for new school funding, 500-million more for pensions and over 750-million-dollars to make the debt payment on a series of old state loans for next year.  No one is saying how the governor hopes to find the new money. 

>>Central Illinois McDonald’s Worker Fired After Cursing At State Trooper 

(Normal, IL)  —  A Bloomington-Normal drive-thru worker is out of a job after yelling at an Illinois State trooper.  The local McDonald’s managers fired a young woman Monday after they say they learned that she cursed at the trooper over the weekend.  Owner Jack Millan said he apologized to the trooper and reminded his staff of what is and what is not acceptable behavior.  Millan says he’s always supported law enforcement and that the one former employee doesn’t represent his entire staff. 

>>Volunteer Firefighter Ticketed After Wreck That Flipped Fire Truck 

(Tilton, IL)  —  Authorities say an eastern Illinois volunteer firefighter is looking at a ticket after driving through a red light and causing a wreck earlier this week.  The Illinois State Police yesterday said it issued the firefighter the ticket after the wreck flipped his fire truck, and forced emergency crews to cut three people out of the truck and the van that he hit.  The firefighter was rushing water to firefighters in Westville who were fighting a fire downtown. 

>>Reckless Homicide Charges Filed In Deadly Whiteside County Wreck 

(Sterling, IL)  —  Prosecutors in Whiteside County are pushing ahead with charges for a deadly 2017 wreck they say was tied to drugs.  Investigators say Michael Mulberry was likely running from police surveillance after a drug deal when he ran a stop sign in Dixon and smashed into a truck last spring.  The wreck killed his girlfriend.  Prosecutors yesterday also charged Mulberry with a handful of drug charges.

News Headlines – February 13, 2017

February 12th, 2018

The Latest 

(Undated)  —  Here’s the latest news:  Taxpayers are going to get a look at the governor’s spending priorities this week. Illinois is in the middle of the pack in a new survey of traffic safety laws. Congressman Rodney Davis says he’s more concerned about paying for the military’s readiness than a grand military parade in Washington D.C. 

>>Illinois Governor To Deliver Budget Address This Week 

(Springfield, IL)  —  Illinois taxpayers are going to get a look at what the governor wants to spend this week. Governor Bruce Rauner is set to deliver his budget address on Wednesday. There are several lingering questions about Illinois’ finances this year, including nearly nine billion-dollars in unpaid bills, how much money Illinois actually has to spend, and whether the politics of this fall’s race for governor will mean that lawmakers punt on crafting a balanced budget this spring. 

>>Illinois Gets Fair Grades In Latest Road Safety Survey 

(Springfield, IL)  —  Illinois is in the middle of the pack when it comes to laws for seat belt use and texting while driving. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety last week released their annual survey. Illinois has nine of the group’s 16 recommended laws that deal with everything from mandatory seat belt enforcement to a state law requiring motorcycle riders to wear a helmet. 

>>March Court Date For Suspect In Putnam County Killing 

(Hennepin, IL)  —  The suspect in the killing of a Putnam County teenage won’t be in court for another couple of weeks. Prosecutors last week agreed to push back Richard Henderson’s preliminary hearing til March. Henderson is the prime suspect in the death of Diamond Bradley, who disappeared last month. But so far Henderson is only being charged with concealing Bradley’s dead body. 

>>Congressman Davis: Pay Military Properly, Then Worry About Parade 

(Washington, DC)  —  Central Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis says he wants to see the military’s needs met before he worries about a national military parade. Davis said over the weekend that he’s not focusing on President Trump’s call for a parade in Washington D.C. Instead, Davis said he’d rather see Congress make sure that our troops are ready and have the equipment that they need to carry out their mission. 

>>Obama Portraits To Be Unveiled Today 

(Washington, DC)  —  It’s doubtful that former President Obama’s new beard will make an appearance, but we’ll see. The National Portrait Gallery will unveil the official portraits of the former president and his wife, Michelle, later this morning. Kehinde Wiley painted Mr. Obama’s portrait, and Amy Sherald painted Mrs. Obama’s portrait. The ceremony will be livestreamed, and is set to begin about 9 a.m. Chicago time.

News Headlines – February 12, 2017

February 11th, 2018

The Latest 

(Undated)  —  Here’s the latest news:  Lawyers for a former U of I student charged with killing a Chinese scholar are due in court Monday to set a new trial date.  A Rockford-area police officer is facing charges after investigators say he sexually assaulted a teenaged police volunteer. Tuition is going up at Southern Illinois University’s main campus. 

>>Accused U Of I Scholar Killer Due In Court Monday 

(Urbana, IL)  —  The man accused of killing a Chinese-born U of I scholar could find out next week when he’s going to trial.  Both prosecutors and Brendt Christensen’s lawyers are due in court Monday to see when the case will proceed.  Both sides are asking the judge in the case for a delay.  Federal prosecutors say they want to go to trial in October and Christensen’s lawyers say they need more time.  Christensen, a former U of I student, is accused of killing Ying Ying Zhang last summer. 

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>>Charges For Rockford-Area Officer Accused Of Abusing Police Volunteer 

(Rockford, IL)  —  Prosecutors in Rockford are pushing ahead with charges against a local police officer who they say sexually abused a police volunteer.  Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato yesterday announced charges against Cherry Valley Officer Jason Personette for sexual abuse of a teen.  Bruscato says the victim was 17-years-old at the time and the abuse happened sometime last fall.  Personette is currently on paid leave.  Cherry Valley Police commanders say they shut down their police explorers volunteer program. 

>>SIU-Carbondale Trustees Vote To Raise Tuition 

(Carbondale, IL)  —  It’s going to be more expensive to go to Southern IllinoisUniversity’s main campus next year.  SIU trustees yesterday voted to increase tuition two-percent, up to 96-hundred-dollars a year.  It’s also going to be more expensive to live on campus.  Trustees approved a six-percent increase in student housing fees and a nearly two-percent increase in the cost of the school’s meal plan. 

>>Rauner Budget Chief: Governor Will Deal With Nine-Billion Deficit 

(Springfield, IL)  —  Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget chief says the governor will deal with the state’s nine-billion-dollar deficit next week.  Budget Director Hans Zigmund told lawmakers on Wednesday that the current budget is only about 600-million-dollars out of whack, but there are over eight-billion-dollars in unpaid bills still lingering at the comptroller’s office.  Zigmund said the governor’s budget address, which is set for next week, will deal with the backlog and the state’s shortfall.

News Headlines – February 10, 2017

February 11th, 2018

The Latest 

(Undated)  —  Here’s the latest news:  An Illinois DCFS worker who was beaten into a coma has died. Some voters in Illinois can vote early. A new poll says Dan Biss and J.B. Pritzker are almost tied in the Democratic race for Illinoisgovernor. Macon County’s sheriff is promising to pay to upgrade his jail’s healthcare shortfalls on his own. 

>>DCFS Case Worker Beaten In Sterling Visit Dies 

(Springfield, IL)  —  State leaders are mourning the loss of a child protection worker who was beaten into a coma during a home visit last fall. The IllinoisDepartment of Children and Family Services yesterday said Pamela Knight has died. Police say Andrew Surcher savagely beat Knight during a home visit last fall, and he’s being held on assault charges that will likely be upgraded. Knight worked out of the DCFS office in Sterling. 

>>Early Voting Begins, For Some 

(Springfield, IL)  —  You may want to call first before you head out to vote early. Early voting started in some Illinois counties yesterday. Other counties are waiting until a ballot challenge involving Scott Drury, a candidate for Illinois Attorney General is resolved. Many of the counties that are waiting will start voting by the end of the month. 

>>New Poll Says Biss, Pritzker Almost Tied 

(Chicago, IL)  —  A new polls says Dan Biss and J.B. Pritzker are almost in a dead heat in the Democratic race for Illinois governor. The poll came out yesterday from Victory Research, and says Pritzker has 27 percent of the vote, while Biss has 23 percent. There is an almost three percent margin of error. The poll is the first taken since news of Pritzker’s old taped conversations with former Governor Rod Blagojevich broke. 

>>Man Wounded In Accidental Shooting At Normal Shooting Range 

(Normal, IL)  —  Police in Normal are calling a shooting at a local shooting range an accident. Investigators say the man accidentally shot himself while at one of the indoor ranges at C.I. Shooting Sports. Police say the man suffered non-life threatening injuries. 

>>Macon County Sheriff Wants To Pay For Jail Medical Upgrades 

(Decatur, IL)  —  Macon County once again is seeing the benefits of having a millionaire philanthropist as a sheriff. Sheriff Howard Buffett is looking to spend over a million-dollars out of his foundation to improve healthcare at the jail in Decatur. Buffett says the jail needs the upgrades, but the county doesn’t have the money to pay for them. He’s promising a one-time donation.