Macomb Local News

Illinois' first family moves back into the Governor's Mansion

(photo via Chicago Tribune)
Gov. Bruce Rauner and his family moved to the Illinois Governor’s Mansion today after a two-year renovation project. The completion of the project fulfills a promise that Gov. Rauner and first lady, Diana Rauner, made to the state three and a half years ago.
“Diana and I pledged to renovate the Mansion at no cost to the taxpayers,” Gov. Rauner said. “Thanks to an incredible effort by the first lady and the Mansion Association, we are on the verge of accomplishing a stunning renovation … on time and on budget with private funding.”
The public will have an opportunity to visit the newly renovated Governor’s Mansion this summer. People will be able to observe the history of famous residents and exhibits of Illinois art and craftmanship throughout the mansion. The first exhibit, Art in Illinois, will feature over 102 works of art from artists based in Illinois and 20 privately-owned pieces will be on display to the public for the first time.
“This project has meant so much to my husband and me because of what it means to the people of Illinois,” first lady Diana Rauner said. “We see the Mansion as the People’s House, a place where visitors can come to glimpse our history, reflect on our accomplishments and creations, and experience Illinois-style hospitality.”
The renovations in the Mansion will improve the experience for all tourists that visit. There is an all-new visitors’ center and rooms that display historic events which are important to Illinois, including the Columbian Exposition and former Illinois Governors and first families.
Lead architect Laura Hochuli of Vinci Hamp Architects said, “This renovation reflects both the history and future of Illinois, and we know that visitors from around the world will appreciate the newly imagined features reflected in both the architectural and programmatic enhancements.”
The upgrades to the Governor’s Mansion also has increased the number of educational opportunities available by introducing new programming and professional docents to give tours seven-days-a-week and help plan special events.
“We so appreciate the incredible hard work that everyone has done on this project,” the governor said. “Diana and I are eager for the finishing touches to be completed so we can open the People’s House to the people of Illinois.”
The Governor’s Mansion reopens to the public on July 14, 2018.


LaHood calls for tax credits to help boost nuclear power industry

A central Illinois congressman has proposed legislation that would offer tax credits
for investments in existing nuclear power plants across the county.
Congressman Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, is behind a bill that would provide a 30
percent credit for refueling costs and capital expenditures at plants through 2021.
“Right now about 51 percent of the electricity in Illinois is generated from nuclear
plants,” LaHood said. “When you look at some of the federal tax credits that have
been in place in the past and currently for things like solar and wind, we looked at
nuclear energy and wanted to make sure they are staying competitive in our ‘all-of-
the-above’ approach to energy.”
After 2021, the tax credit rate would be gradually reduced until it reached 10
percent in 2024. LaHood said the bill is modeled on the phase out currently in
place for solar and wind. Future energy needs necessitate a strong nuclear
industry, he said.
“In the last 17 months, we’ve added 240,000 new manufacturing jobs in this
country,” LaHood said. “We’re revving back up the industrial manufacturing base
in this country. There will be a lot of energy use that goes on, and that will help
drive nuclear energy and the use of electricity across the board.”
Illinois lawmakers also have moved to help stabilize the nuclear power industry in
the state. In 2016, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill that included a rate increase to
help pay for the modernization of both the Clinton Nuclear Generating Station and
the Quad Cities Nuclear Generating Station in Cordova.
“Illinois is home to six nuclear plants, which support about 6,000 jobs,” LaHood
said. “I’m concerned about the state of Illinois, but this is a nationwide approach.
When you think about having a broad, diversified energy portfolio across the
country, we [need to] make sure everyone is being treated equally."
Competing companies in other sectors of the energy industry, including coal
plants, previously have criticized various subsidies to the nuclear industry saying
the practice is akin to playing favorites and acts to distort the market. Some
argue it also depresses development of more competitive evergy sources and
limits potential job creation in those areas.
LaHood said his legislation would help keep Illinois a top choice for
“You have cheap energy and it’s reliable and there are good grids,” LaHood said.
“Illinois is a great place to do that. The future looks bright. Having abundant and
diversified energy available will be helpful.”
LaHood said the bill had 11 co-sponsors. He’s hoping for a hearing
date to be set soon.


Jensen Camp Foundation Continues Fundraising Efforts

Jensen Camp Foundation is continuing its effort to re-open as a non-denominational Christian camp. Jensen Woods Camp, which is located near Timewell, IL in Brown County, has been closed since 2015.


The 550 acre camp was sold to a St. Louis developer last month by the Illinois Great River Conference of the United Methodist Church. The Foundation is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization dedicated to owning, operating and endowing Jensen Woods Camp “for the next 100 years,” according to a release. It has launched a first phase Capital Campaign fund raiser, seeking $500,000 to re-open the camp by August 2018.


The Foundation is holding an informational meeting Thursday, May 31 at 6:30 p.m. in the Quincy Mall Community Room. Additionally, a number of upcoming fundraisers have been announced.


The Foundation is selling T-shirts for $15, that can be ordered by calling (217) 773-2491. There will also be a Pancake Fundraiser at Applebee’s in Quincy on Saturday, June 9 from 8-10 a.m. $5 will get all-you-can eat pancakes, bacon and a drink. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling the number above. 


The largest fundraiser will be held at the Adams County Fairgrounds on June 23, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Lunch will be served by the Corn Dog Stand of Mt. Sterling. Musical entertainment will be offered. A wall of Jensen pictures and testimonials will be displayed, and there will be cotton candy, popcorn, a bake sale, kids’ games, petting zoo, silent auction and a live auction at 2 p.m.  Prizes will be awarded to registered children every half hour. Admission is free, and all activities are offered for a free-will offering. The Foundation is looking for volunteers for this event. 


For more information on Jensen Woods Camp and the Jensen Camp Foundation, visit You can also get in touch with the Foundation via email and Facebook



Illinois tourism marks record year with nearly 114 million visitors

More people visited Illinois last year than ever before, a record that state officials said helped boost the state’s economy and create jobs.
State tourism numbers show nearly 114 million people traveled to Illinois in 2017. That’s up 1.4 percent from 2016, which also was a record year.
“Tourism is a critical part of our economy,” Gov. Bruce Rauner said in a statement. “There is so much to see and do in our state. It is gratifying to know that so many people come here each year to experience what we have to offer.”
Illinois Office of Tourism Director Cory Jobe said marketing helped drive the increase.
“We really attribute the growth to our overall new brand campaign where we ask the question, ‘Illinois, are you up for amazing?’ ” he said.
Illinois Tourism’s “Up for Amazing” advertising campaign launched in March 2017. It targeted 14 domestic and five international markets.
“The spring/summer campaign was extremely successful with every dollar invested delivering nearly $9 in economic impact for our state,” Jobe said.
Another ad campaign, called Illinois Made, highlighted experiences, places and products that are unique to Illinois.
Other ads focused on travel in different seasons and inclusion by aiming to attract more LGBTQ tourists to Illinois.
Jobe said many Illinoisans chose to play tourist here by traveling to other parts of their home state for vacation.
“You can get to many of our unique destinations, our hot spot destinations within a 70-minute to three-hour drive, and that’s proven in the numbers that we see,” Jobe said.
All of those tourists spent $39.5 billion, according to the U.S. Travel Association. That’s an increase of $1.1 billion, or 3 percent, from 2016. That spending generated $2.95 billion in state and local tax revenue, up $75 million from 2016.
The industry also helped to create jobs. The Illinois tourism industry supported 335,500 jobs in 2017.
“Just in the past three and a half years alone we’ve created over 18,500 new jobs,” Jobe said.
Tourism figures show 83 percent of tourists visited Illinois for pleasure and the rest traveled here on business. In the past decade, tourism has become one of the state’s most important industries, according to the Illinois Office of Tourism.


CDC warns tick-borne illnesses are on the rise

As warm weather returns to Illinois, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reminding people about the risk for tick-borne illnesses.
Nationwide, the number of tick-borne disease cases doubled between 2004 and 2016, according to a new CDC report.
Illinois doesn’t see as many tick-borne illness cases as states on the coasts, but the danger is still present. Illinois reported more than 3,600 tick-borne illness cases in the past dozen years.
Illinois Public Health veterinarian and epidemiologist Dr. Connie Austin said weather and temperature affect the tick population, but not drastically.
“We want to be worried about tick exposures whatever the weather is because there’s always gonna be some quantity of ticks out there that can transmit disease," she said.
Austin said tick-borne illnesses are always a concern regardless of whether the number of cases each year in Illinois goes up or down.
“Our numbers in the last couple of years have been pretty steady,” she said. “But again you know there are going to be ticks present in the state that are going to transmit disease, so we have to worry about it every year.”
Lyme disease affects nearly 300,000 Americans each year, and is also a concern in Illinois along with other illnesses.
“Rocky Mountain spotted fever is one of those,” Austin said. “There’s Lyme disease, anaplasma and ehrlichiosis; and even less commonly, there can be tularemia as well.”
The best defense is to prevent exposure to ticks by staying on cleared paths and trails, clearing weeds and brush from around your yard, applying repellents that contain DEET, and checking your clothes, body, children and pets for ticks after returning from wooded or tall, grassy areas.
Austin said if you find a tick, you should remove it and monitor your health for several weeks.
“If you should develop a fever or a rash, then you would need to go seek medical attention and just make sure your doctor knows that you were in a tick habitat or had a tick on you," she said.


Rauner's death penalty, public safety proposals to get House hearing today

An Illinois House hearing Monday afternoon in Springfield will tackle reinstating the death penalty for cop killers and mass murderers, and other issues that are part of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s latest public safety push.
Rauner injected the death penalty idea into the conversation when he changed a bill lawmakers sent to his desk. The bill, House Bill 1468, would have put a 72 hour, rather than 24 hour, waiting period for certain semi-automatic rifles. Rauner changed that to include all guns. But he also put in language that would reinstate the death penalty in Illinois for specific crimes like mass murder or killing a police officer.
Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011 after several people were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to die.
The sponsor of HB1468, state Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Buffalo Grove, filed a motion to accept Rauner’s amendatory veto.
The Illinois State Rifle Association issued a bulletin Thursday that said the veto should be sustained.
"Now we have to make every effort to prevent the amendatory veto from being overridden," ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson said in an email. "We need phone calls to the members of the Illinois House asking legislators to support the governor’s veto." 
Rauner said his package of ideas is intended to bring about what he called important public safety measures. Those ideas include bringing back the death penalty, putting a 72-hour waiting period in place for all firearm purchases, banning bump stocks and trigger cranks, authorizing restraining orders to disarm dangerous people and requiring judges and prosecutors to explain why charges are reduced in plea agreements for violent offenders in gun cases.
House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said Rauner’s move is pure politics.
“[Rauner] handed a bunch of things to people who are less interested in guns and he handed a bunch of things to people who are more interested in guns and hard line on criminal law,” Lang said.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, is promoting an amendment to Senate Bill 2580 filed by Carroll to bring Rauner's ideas up for a hearing at 2 p.m. Monday in the Judiciary-Criminal Committee.
“The issues the governor raised ... deserve a full hearing and consideration before the House,” Madigan said in a statement. “We look forward to hearing from stakeholders and continuing our effort to keep our children, our schools and our communities safe from senseless gun violence.”
Rauner said Friday’s deadly mass shooting at a Texas school was another reminder there needs to be common sense policies in place to protect children. He said his proposals would free up resources for armed school resource officers at public schools.
“Just like the hero in Dixon [Illinois] who stopped a shooter in his tracks effectively in Dixon,” Rauner said. “We need that in every school that would like it and we also need mental health professionals, and I've proposed ways that we can fund that for each school to keep the schools safer.”
Rauner said local sales taxes should be freed up to hire more school resource officers. 
On Wednesday in Dixon, school resource officer Mark Dallas shot and wounded Matthew Milby, a 19-year-old former student of Dixon High School, when Milby allegedly opened fire with a rifle. There were no other injuries.
Given that Rauner has been in office for more than three years, during which there were multiple mass shootings across the country, the gun proposals seem like a last-minute effort, Lang said.
“We haven’t heard all that much from him,” Lang said. “And now in the 11th hour he wants to be a person who wants to talk about guns and guns safety, and try to pander to both sides.”


Leaders report progress in state budget talks

Legislative leaders from both sides reported progress in budget talks Thursday and said they were optimistic they would finish by the end of the month. Leaders last met Tuesday.
The four legislative leaders and Gov. Bruce Rauner gathered for a midday meeting at the governor’s office in Springfield to talk more about the budget that starts July 1. Senate President John Cullerton said Republicans and Democrats are narrowing the gap between spending and revenue.
“I wouldn't emphasize major hurdles because I think we’re so much closer than we were last year ... it’s much more optimistic,” Cullerton, D-Chicago, said.
Cullerton said the discussion provided clarity on Rauner's proposed budget savings.
“They’re assuming that we’re going to sell the Thompson Center [in Chicago] and get that money,” Cullerton said, “and they’re assuming that we’re going to cut local governments by ten percent and save that money.”
The sides continue to disagree on Rauner's proposals to shift pension and health care costs to schools.
Leaders also discussed a supplemental spending plan to cover overspending in the Department of Corrections and a standalone capital bill for a new Quincy Veterans Home facility.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said he didn’t want to be overly optimistic.
“We’re getting close to the end of the month,” Durkin said. “The governor, myself and the Republican leader in the Senate [Bill Brady] are insistent that we pass a fair budget that is balanced, that doesn’t include any tax increases and we’re going to continue on with that and we can get that done.”
Durkin said last summer’s state income tax hike is making things easier. Democrats – joined by some Republicans – imposed the $5 billion tax increase over the governor’s veto in 2017, breaking a two-and-a-half-year budget impasse.
“I’m not going to be overly optimistic until I see more progress made, but the fact is we’re in a better place than we were last year and the year before,” Durkin said.
Overall, Durkin expects the state to bring in nearly $38 billion in revenue.
Cullerton said if talks do break down this year, as they did last summer, Democrats are prepared to go it alone.
“Then we’ll have to go ahead and pass our own budget with as much cooperation from Republicans as we can get,” he said.
Rauner’s office said it is still meeting and continuing to work toward a budget.
Lawmakers have a May 31 deadline to pass a budget with simple majorities. If they don’t, they’ll go into overtime again for the fourth year in a row.


Hammond legislation providing information on vaccinations approved in committee

State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) had her influenza vaccination information legislation approved unanimously in committee Thursday morning. 


Senate Bill 2654 requires the school board of a school district to include information about influenza and influenza vaccinations in accordance with the latest recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when it provides information on school health issues to the parents or guardians.


"The immunization effort is in no way a mandate that students will have to be immunized," Hammond said. "However it does say that school boards or school districts, if they currently offer public health information to the students or the guardians or the parents, then they would also include the information on influenza vaccinations as well."


The legislation now moves on to the full House for consideration.  


Macomb City Council Meeting Agenda for Monday, May 21

Below is the agenda for Monday's Macomb City Council meeting. It will take place at 5:15 p.m. inside city hall. 



MONDAY, MAY 21, 2018
5:15 P.M.
Minutes of the Macomb City Council meeting held on Monday, May 7, 2018 and Committee of the Whole meetings held on Monday, May 14, 2018.
Claims and Accounts
Department Reports: Fire Department
Accept and place on file Treasurer’s Report for April
Consideration to accept the proposal from Entec to upgrade the HVAC control system for City Hall in the amount of $5,313.00.
Consideration of an ordinance to amend Sections 4-52(b)(11), 4-81(e) and 4-84(a) of Chapter 4 of the Municipal Code of Macomb, Illinois pertaining to the Macomb Liquor Code (Video Gaming).
This ordinance will be presented for second reading and final approval. 
Consideration of an ordinance for annexing certain territory located in a part of the Southwest Quarter of Section Twenty Nine, Township Six North, Range Two West of the Fourth Principal Meridian, McDonough County, Illinois (Midwest Grass and Forage).
This ordinance will be presented for second reading and final approval.
Other unfinished business.
Consideration to award two contracts for the purchase of fuel for the Macomb Transit Facility for the period of July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 to Halcomb Oil Co. and Herr Petroleum Corp.
A memo from Transit Director Cobb is attached for your review. Final action will be in order.
May 21, 2018
Page 2
NEW BUSINESS – Continued
Consideration of a resolution authorizing the submittal of an application for a Public Transportation Capital Assistance Grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).
Attached is a memo from Transit Director Cobb along with a copy of the resolution for 
your review. Final adoption will be in order.
Consideration to approve extending the contract with Durham School Services for Demand Response for two (2) months – July 1, 2018 through August 31, 2018.
Attached is a memo from Transit Director Cobb for your review. Final action will be in 
Consideration of an ordinance to create a special event liquor license for the St. Paul’s “Raising Saints, Honoring Our Local Heroes” event.
This ordinance will be presented for first reading and staff is asking second reading to be waived since with is an annual event. A copy of the ordinance is attached for your review.
Other new business.
a) Appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of an employee of the public body or legal counsel for the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (1) of the Open Meetings Act.
b) Collective Bargaining matters between the public body and its employees or 
representatives or deliberations concerning salary schedules for one or more classes of employees, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (2) of the Open Meetings Act.
c) The purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (5) of the Open Meetings Act.
d) The setting of a price for sale or lease of property owned by the public body, 
pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (6) of the Open Meetings Act.
e) Pending or probable litigation, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (11) of the Open Meetings Act.


Illinois Senate approves required $40k minimum teacher salary

Illinois lawmakers want to fix the state’s teacher shortage by forcing local school boards to pay teachers at least $40,000 a year.
The bill would require schools to pay every educator an annual wage of at least $40,000 by the 2022-23 school year. Starting next year, the minimum salary would be $32,076. After starting salaries hit $40,000 in the 2022-23 school year, the minimum salary rate would continue to increase yearly at the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. The annual increases in the 2022-23 school year would be subject to review by the General Assembly.
While it wouldn’t affect many Chicago and suburban Chicago school districts, many in southern Illinois would have to increase pay for teachers. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, more than 500 schools would have to increase their beginning pay for teachers with a bachelor’s degree, some by more than $10,000 over the next four years.
Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said the state’s new education funding formula signed into law last fall would send those schools more money. He said this would guarantee that it goes to teacher paychecks.
“This will reinforce the need to continue down the path toward greater equity,” he said. “It would work together nicely with the work that we’ve done on evidence-based funding.”
Republicans, including Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said this would be a massive unfunded mandate for rural schools.
“If you are looking for the unfunded mandate of all unfunded mandates, it is before you today,” he said.
Sen. Jason Barickman, the GOP’s leader in education matters, said the new school funding formula wouldn’t cover the difference in the teacher raises, resulting in bigger deficits at a local level.
“One school district is going to have a negative $900,000 impact over four years as a result of this bill,” he said.
The House narrowly approved a similar bill last month. They’ll now have to vote on this one for it to be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner.


Senate votes for Attorney General Candidate's override of Rauner to give AG more authority

A candidate for Illinois Attorney General is a House vote away from greatly expanding the office’s powers.
State Sen. Kwame Raoul’s bill would greatly expand the Attorney General’s ability to go after businesses for potentially breaking labor laws, a duty of Rauner’s Department of Labor. Rauner vetoed the bill because he said it would “inappropriately create opportunities for conflict and competition.”
The bill would create a Workforce Protection Unit in the Attorney General’s office that could go after businesses accused of violating prevailing wage, minimum wage, employee classification, and wage theft laws. Rauner said that is all the responsibility of the Illinois Department of Labor.
“Instead of creating a cooperative environment between the Executive Branch and the Attorney General to determine how best to navigate complex and important cases, this bill inappropriately creates opportunities for conflict and competition,” Rauner said in his veto message.
Raoul, D-Chicago, disagreed.
“We still would anticipate that the Attorney General’s office would work collaboratively with the Department of Labor,” he told Senators.
Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said the bill would make the Attorney General’s office both investigator and prosecutor.
“We typically, in our system, try to divide the duties of investigation and prosecution between separate entities,” he said. “The Attorney General’s office will be both the investigator and prosecuting authority.”
The Senate voted to override Rauner's veto and send it to the House for consideration. If enough representatives vote for the bill, it becomes law.
Raoul is the Democratic nominee for Illinois Attorney General. Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that she would not run for re-election. If the bill becomes law and Raoul is elected, he would be the steward of the newly created unit.
Erika Harold, Raoul's Republican challenger for Attorney General, said Thursday that the bill “creates legal ambiguity and the potential for investigations that are untethered to clearly defined and agreed upon standards and procedures. No Attorney General should have such unfettered discretion and authority.”
She echoed Righter’s point that the bill would “create inherent conflicts of interest in which the Attorney General was both serving as the Department of Labor’s attorney yet performing its own separate investigations.”


IDPH Launches Infant At Work Pilot Program

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced that it is launching an Infant at Work pilot program. The program, which resembles programs that other states already have in place, will allow eligible mothers, fathers, and legal guardians to bring their infants to work in the early months of parenthood. 


“The Infant at Work program will provide numerous benefits for participants, including healthy infant brain development, parental well-being, and critical bonding,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. in a release.  “Promoting health and wellness is a pillar of IDPH and we want to lead by example.”
The program is for parents with infants between four weeks and six months of age. The parents will have to work with their supervisor on scheduling, work plans, and space accommodations.  
IDPH is the first Illinois State agency to pilot this program.  After 24 months, the Illinois Department of Central Management Services will evaluate its efficacy to determine if this program is suitable for other state agencies. 


Rauner announces $6 million well for Quincy; purchase of nearby nursing home close

More than three years after the start of a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that killed 13, the city of Quincy is getting a $3 million grant from the state that the governor says will help residents of the city and the Quincy Veterans Home get cleaner water
Gov. Bruce Rauner announced the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency grant to Quincy from the Build Illinois Bond Fund, which officials said is meant for water projects.
The new water supply the state grant will help pay for will be a groundwater well, not water directly from the Mississippi river. Rauner said that has its advantages.
“Groundwater has the benefit of being cooler, has the benefit of being filtered through sand and gravel, so it has lower particulate count, lower organic count, lower bacteria count,” Rauner said Wednesday in Quincy.
The city of Quincy is poised to spend an additional $3 million on the project for a total cost of $6 million. Rauner said the project will be done this summer.
State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit heard the news while in Springfield. A veteran, Kifowit, D-Oswego, said she was pleased to hear there's a plan and that the project is moving forward, but questioned why it took so long.
“I think any and all help we can give to Quincy is needed and necessary,” she said. “I just question that it’s now three-and-a-half years after the fact. Where has all this initiative been?”
Rauner, who faces Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker in the November general election, said political finger-pointing distracts from ensuring proper care for the state’s veterans.
In announcing the state grant, Rauner adviser Mike Hoffman said state lawmakers now have a plan filed at the legislature to go even further.
“[Senate Bill 3611] is a standalone capital appropriations bill for up to $230 million to support the building of the new world class facility,” Hoffman said.
The bill was filed Wednesday afternoon.
Hoffman said he couldn’t go into details about the negotiations, but said his team should be closing on the Sycamore nursing home as a temporary facility for the Quincy veterans to move to while they await the new construction.
Kifowit said the focus on Quincy is good, but said the state can’t neglect other veterans facilities around the state.
“We need to make sure that we’re properly taking care of our veterans, making sure that this scenario doesn’t happen in any other facility,” Kifowit said.
Rauner urged lawmakers to approve the design-build process, a procurement process that combines the design and building phases of construction as a way to speed up construction and reduce costs.
The governor said he planned to stay overnight Wednesday in Quincy to visit and celebrate with the veterans. Rauner stayed at the Quincy home earlier this year in an effort to better understand how things work there.


McDonough County United Way honors Mother Moon Scholarship recipients

(from left to right: Brady Overstreet (Macomb High School), Emily Jones (Macomb High School),  Emma Heuer (Macomb High School),  Katie Lawson (West Prairie High School), and Camryn Lynn (Macomb High School).)

McDonough County United Way honored five area high school juniors with the Mother Moon Service Scholorship last night. 


Each recipient will receive $1,000 toward their education and will work together their senior year to complete a service project and educate others about the scholarship.  
The scholorships were given out based on volunteerism and service to others. It's funded through the Leighty Foundation and named after Sadie “Mother” Moon in honor of her lifetime of service to others. 




Macomb Public Works reminds residents to not deposit yard waste onto city street

The Macomb Public Works Department is reminding residents that it is illegal to deposit their leaves and grass onto city streets. The City of Macomb has the following ordinance against it. 


“The City of Macomb Municipal Code Article 1. IN GENERAL; Sec.20.2. Deposit of waste and harmful materials in public places. (a) It shall be unlawful to throw or deposit on any street, alley, sidewalk, gutter or other public place any material which may be harmful to the pavements thereof, or any waste material, rubbish, grass, leaves, branches, glass, tacks, nails or other substances or articles.”


The rule is in place to avoid the city’s storm water inlet system becoming clogged, which would create a hazardous situation for drainage during rain events.


For residents that would like to dispose of yard waste, they can deposit it legally at the City Yard Waste Site. It is open Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 



Macomb Pella to add approximately 100 new team members following production transfer

Pella Corporation announced in a release today that a "significant amount of its 250 Series Vinyl Window production," will be transfered to Macomb, starting in Fall 2018. 


The increased production, which comes Murray, KY operations facility being at capacity with floor space and labor force, is expected to add a boost to the West Central Illinois economy and the Pella Macomb payroll. 


“We will be hiring approximately 100-120 new team members, adding three production assembly lines and an insulated glass production department,” said Kyle Recker, plant manager at the Macomb Operations.


The transfer makes sense for Pella, as the Macomb operations facility offers approximately 50,000 square feet in available floor space. The release also noted that the Macomb location has a favorable labor market for hiring, due to West Centrall Illinois having an unemployment rate above the national average. 


“Moving production to the Macomb community will provide a substantial impact throughout the West Central Illinois area, and further fuel Pella’s current growth momentum,” Recker said. 


Hiring in the Macomb operations facility will begin this summer and transfer of production is set to begin in the Fall of 2018 and will phase into place until early 2019. For more information visit,


WIU Board of Trustees to meet Friday

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees will meet Friday, May 18, according to a WIU News release. The Board will have an open meeting, as well as a closed session. 


On Friday, the Board of Trustees will hear reports on projected enrollment for Fall 2018 and budget projections. 


The open meeting will begin at 8 a.m. in the University Union Capitol Rooms. Following that, the Board will hold a closed session to consider matters provided for in 5 ILCS 120/2c, including personnel, collective bargaining, litigation and real estate. The Board will then head back to the open session, after the conclusion of the closed one. 


The full Board agenda and supporting materials can be found here


Legislative leaders and governor meet, talk Quincy Veterans Home funding and revenue estimate

Legislative leaders and Gov. Bruce Rauner met to talk Illinois budget late Tuesday, and on the agenda was money for the troubled Quincy Veterans Home.
Lawmakers have two weeks to pass a balanced budget with simple majorities. After May 31, a supermajority vote is needed to pass a budget. With the time crunch, Republicans say they want things to be resolved in a more timely manner.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said things are progressing, but the GOP and the governor have asked for capital funds for the Quincy Veterans Home, where 13 have died of a legionnaires disease outbreak since 2015.
“So that’s the first that I’ve heard of the capital request,” Cullerton said. “We’re going to look into that and find out if there’s other veterans homes that need money and if there’s other requests from members of our caucus.”
The estimate for the Quincy home project, which includes relocation to a temporary facility with a new facility to be built over several years, has been north of $200 million.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said the home needs to be taken care of, and would be dealt with as a standalone bill, but the budget process needs to speed up.
“I know the governor is anxious that we don’t run into the same problems that we have in the past,” Brady said. “So the pace needs to pick up. We need to do that.”
Cullerton said during part of the meeting, leaders discussed a letter from the Department of Revenue that estimated revenue of $33.6 billion next year. He wanted more clarity on what the number included.
“We don’t know if the sale for the Thompson Center (in Chicago) is included or not,” Cullerton said. “The governor had proposed that we reduce the money that we send to local governments and the money that we send to public transportation. We don’t know if that’s included.”
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said when you include federal funds and transfers, that matches the number Republicans have been looking to certify.
“We’re at about $37.8 billion that we have to spend,” Durkin said. “That’s basically the reaffirmation of a revenue estimate.”
Cullerton said a revenue estimate resolution could be agreed upon “as long as the governor agrees to the number himself.”
When asked if Democrats know how much they’re looking to spend, Cullerton said that’s still up for discussion.
“We’re trying to resolve how much money we have and how much money we need to spend and to narrow the gap,” Cullerton said. “That’s what the budget guys are doing.”
The budget deadline is May 31.


Illinois lawmakers: State won't be able to gamble its way to prosperity

Illinois lawmakers are excited about the promise of legal sports betting in the state, but they also understand the reality. 
The United State's Supreme Court on Monday opened the door for legal sports betting in the states when it struck down a 1992 law that banned sports books pretty much anywhere outside of Nevada. 
There's lots of hope in a number of states, but no one has a precise price tag for what legal sports betting in Illinois could be worth. Early estimates suggest regulated sports gambling could bring in between $300 million to $700 million annually, according to media reports. State Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie told the Chicago Tribune it was likely to generate less than $100 million a year for state coffers.
State Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Chicago, said Illinois could benefit from traditional sports books or sports betting on the internet, but he said Illinois shouldn't start planning on a massive payday anytime soon.
"It's nice that the court did this because I generally think it makes sense from a policy perspective and I think it generally would help an ailing state treasury," Zalewski said Monday. "But I don't want to get too 'over my skis' and think that something is imminent."
State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, who hopes that sports betting will finally help Rockford get a casino, said Illinois has over $100 billion in pension debt and $6.5 billion in unpaid bills. He said more gambling won't erase those costs, or end what he calls Illinois' "spending problem."
"There is no magic bullet. Gaming certainly is not the answer to Illinois' financial problems," Syverson said. "What gaming does do though is keep billions of dollars in Illinois. It could help fund road and capital projects so we don't have to raise other taxes. It helps local communities raise revenue."
Syverson said the high court's decision adds urgency to the gambling debate at the Capitol. He said he hopes the Illinois House will take up the plan from a few years ago that would create six new casinos in the state as the vehicle to legalize sports betting. Syverson said lawmakers could vote on that and send it to the governor by the end of May. 
There is at least one other proposal in the legislature, SB 3432, that deals with sports betting in Illinois. It is waiting for a hearing and a vote in either the Illinois House or Senate. 


Macomb Park District announces upcoming events

As the weather continues to warm up, the Macomb Park District will have a loaded schedule of activities and events for Macomb residents. 


The Park District will have its first Randolph Street Rendezvous of the summer on Thursday. That will be 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Glenwood Stone Shelter at Glenwood Park. Music will be performed by The Mighty Blooze Hounds


The Park District also prepares for Macomb Bluesfest, which takes place Saturday at Veteran's Park. That will be a full day event with a packed lineup, headlined by Eddie Taylor Jr. at 5 p.m.




There will also be plenty of activities scheduled weekly throughout the month and throughout the summer. The full list of activities can be found on the Macomb Park District website


For more information on all things Macomb Park District, listen to my latest interview with the Executive Director of the Macomb Park District, Rachel Lenz. 


Pritzker says progressive income tax rates will depend on budget priorities

(Photo via Daily Herald)
The Democrat working to unseat incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner in November is staying silent about how his plan to institute a progressive tax in Illinois would affect taxpayers.
J.B. Pritzker and Rauner differ on key issues, including changing the state’s income tax structure and term limits.
While continuing to push for tax rates based on income as a way for the state to become fiscally stable, Pritzker hasn't said what the rates should be or where the lines on income should be drawn.
The billionaire Hyatt Hotel heir stopped in Springfield on Monday to talk with small business incubator Innovate Springfield. He said he heard from the small startup businesses about the need for government stability in Illinois.
But when it came to the idea of what tax rates small businesses and individuals should pay under his progressive tax plan, Pritzker said it would depend.
“We can only determine what the rates are by virtue of a negotiation with the legislature at the time, what the priorities are in the budget and then we’ve got to make it transparent to the voters who ultimately get to vote on them,” Pritzker said.
For there to be a change in income tax rates from flat, where everyone pays the same rates, to progressive, where there would be a tiered rate structure, the voters would have to approve an amendment to the state constitution.
Last week at a forum in Chicago, Gov. Bruce Rauner said the state’s flat tax is the one of its only positive fiscal attributes and a progressive tax is the wrong way to go.
“[Progressive tax supporters are] going to say it’s a millionaire tax, ‘let’s tax the millionaires.’ Well, watch the businesses flood out,” Rauner said. “More importantly, every state that’s gone to a graduated income tax, the middle class gets socked. The middle class pays more.”
Voters will not be asked to amend the constitution for a progressive or tiered rate structure this November because lawmakers failed to get any constitutional amendment ballot questions passed before the deadline.
Another issue voters won’t get to sound off on is term limits.
Rauner last week said anyone being elected to office should sign a pledge to support a term limits ballot question for voters to decide on. Those seeking to be a state representative should sign another, Rauner said.
“‘I promise to vote for somebody, anybody, other than Mike Madigan to be speaker after 35 years,’ because there’s no reason one person should stay in power for more than 30 years,” Rauner said.
Asked in Springfield if Madigan should be speaker again, Pritzker said that’s not for a governor to decide. Asked if he’d support a pledge for future state representatives to oppose Madigan, Pritzker said while he supports term limits on legislative leaders, he’s focused on changing how political maps are drawn.
“I think Democrats will win if you give us the opportunity to win in districts that are today drawn specifically for Republicans and I think Republicans will have a chance to win in districts where they haven’t been winning before,” Pritzker said.
Voters will not be asked about changing how the state draws political maps this November either, because lawmakers failed to get a question on the ballot before the deadline.


WIU reaches tentative agreement with union membership

Western Illinois University and the University Professionals of Illinois Local 4100 have reached a Tentative Agreement for Collective Bargaining Agreement. The university provided the following statement last night.


"Western Illinois University (WIU) and the University Professionals of Illinois Local 4100 (UPI) are pleased to report that the two groups have reached a tentative agreement for a new contract, subject only to legal review. Details will not be disclosed until UPI has had the opportunity to meet with its members. We look forward to working together on ratification and implementation of the new agreement."


The sides announced they were close to an argreement last month. 


Luke Combs, Ashley McBryde to perform at Illinois State Fair

(Photo via

Young country star Luke Combs will be the headlining act at the Illinois State Fair Grandstand on Tuesday, August 14. The Illinois State Fair announced today that Combs, along with Ashley McBryde, will be the acts on what is Agriculture Day at the fair. 


Combs, a North Carolina native, is known for a number of hits including Hurricane, When It Rains It Pours and One Number Away.  


McBryde's hits include, “A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega,” “Livin’ Next to LeRoy,” and “Girl Goin’ Nowhere.” She is one of Rolling Stone’s “Artists You Need to Know.” 


“This is a fantastic country concert combination for the Illinois State Fair,” said State Fair Manager Luke Sailer in a release. “We’re thrilled to have breakout artist Luke Combs headline and equally thrilled to welcome Ashley McBryde back to the Illinois State Fair.  Ashley performed on the Rising Star Stage last year and her talents blew everyone away. It will be great to see these rising stars up on the fair’s biggest stage.”


Tickets for the Ag Day show go on sale Saturday on The Emmerson Building on the state fairgrounds will begin selling tickets to this concert on Monday, May 21. 



Gov. Rauner uses veto pen to ask for new gun laws, death penalty's return

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is using his veto pen to ask lawmakers for a handful of tougher gun laws and for the state to once again sentence people to death. 
Rauner used his veto pen to change a proposal that would have created a 72-hour waiting period for assault rifle purchases.
The governor on Monday said that he wants a 72-hour waiting period for all gun purchases, a ban on bump stocks and trigger cranks. And for Illinois to once again use the death penalty against mass murderers and cop killers. 
"Individuals who choose to murder a law enforcement officer deserve to have their life taken," the governor said in Chicago. "They deserve that."
Rauner is asking for a new category called "death penalty murder" that would also allow prosecutors to ask for a death sentence for anyone who kills two or more people. The governor said he wants the burden of proof for a death penalty case to be proof "beyond all doubt" rather than "beyond reasonable doubt."
He is also asking lawmakers to agree to give judges the ability to authorize restraining orders to disarm dangerous people. But the governor also wants judges to explain, on the record, why they allow for plea bargains or reduced changes in gun cases. The governor's proposal also includes a request for more money to hire local mental health workers to free up police officers, deputies, and jail guards.
"This is a comprehensive package. It is a thoughtful package. It is good policy," Rauner said. "Everyone of these six points will significantly improve the safety of the people of Illinois."
But it is unlikely to happen. The Illinois House has traditionally fought back against all governors who use their veto pen to try to create new law. 
If the House votes down the governor's changes this time, the 72-hour rifle cooling off period, as well as the governor's proposed changes, will all die at the statehouse.


Measure for longer waiting period for buying certain firearms awaits action from governor

The deadline for Gov. Bruce Rauner to act on a measure to change the waiting period to buy some firearms from 24 hours to 72 hours in Illinois is Tuesday.
When House Bill 1468 passed the House in February, chief sponsor state Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Northbrook, said he was shocked that Illinois has a 72-hour waiting period for handguns “but not for long guns like rifles, shotguns and assault weapons like the AR-15.”
“In the case of these weapons, there’s only a 24-hour waiting period,” Carroll said.
The proposed legislation, which defines certain rifles as assault weapons, requires a 72-hour waiting period to buy the so-called assault weapons instead of 24 hours.
“This bill would also apply the same restrictions to gun shows and out-of-state guests,” Carroll said.
The measure defines “assault weapon” as any rifle, shotgun or handgun with belt-fed ammunition or detachable magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, a fixed magazine with more than 10 rounds (more than five rounds for shotguns, with exceptions), and has a folding or telescoping stock or a shroud around the barrel. It does not include manually operated bolt, pump, lever or slide action firearms.
Vandermyde said it’s a trick bag that could lead to a felony charge against a retailer because it defines certain rifles one way and excludes others.
“Because if you sell a competition 8-shot shotgun over here, it’s a 24-hour waiting period. If you sell another 8-shot competition shotgun over here it’s a 72-hour waiting period,” Vandermyde said. “This rifle over here is 72 hours. This rifles over here is 24.”
“It doesn’t make any real rhyme, reason or sense in what they’re trying to do,” Vandermyde said. “It just seems to be another knee jerk reaction in light of the tragedy in Florida.”
On Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida, 17 students and teachers were shot and killed by an assailant using an AR-15-style rifle. Legislation popped up in state legislatures across the country to address various aspects of school safety and gun control. In Illinois, lawmakers have mainly focused on regulating guns, rather than enhancing security at schools.
Vandermyde said the Illinois’ HB1468 is an answer to a problem that doesn’t exist: Criminals don't abide by waiting periods.
The bill was sent to Rauner March 15, triggering a 60-day window for the governor to either sign or veto the measure.
Vandermyde said at the very least Rauner should change the bill with an amendatory veto.
The measure passed both chambers with veto-proof majorities.
The governor’s office couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday.


Expert skeptical of long-term outlook on Illinois small businesses

Small businesses across the country are optimistic about the economy, but one
expert says there could be dark clouds building in Illinois.
The new Small Business Optimism Index, issued by the National Federation of
Independent Business, shows a record level of small businesses seeing profit
growth. The number reporting poor sales fell to a near record low. Mark Grant,
Illinois Director of the NFIB, said, for now, the sentiment is shared here.
“I talk to our members quite a bit,” Grant said. “The vast majority of them feel
very good about things. They see the same things every other small business
around the country sees. They’re very enthusiastic and trying to grow and hire
That optimism is tempered by potential actions in Springfield that could affect small business owners, Grant said.
“They know there’s a good chance there could be more tax increases coming,”
he said. “That’s what they are probably most concerned about. The state’s got
an enormous pension debt. There’s always an appetite over at the statehouse to tax
and spend … or pay off debt.”
J.B. Pritzker, the Democratic candidate for governor, has called for a temporary
hike in Illinois' flat income tax rate. He then wants lawmakers to work to change
the state constitution to allow for a progressive income tax, which would include
several different rates, depending on income. Grant said that could have
consequences for many small business owners.
“The majority of small businesses are formed as pass-through entities, so they
actually pay their business taxes on the individual rates,” Grant said. “They would
feel the most significant impact from any kind of tax increase that would come
from that graduated tax.”
Pritzker also supports raising the minimum wage in Illinois to $15 dollars per hour.
Grant said that kind of hike would be a disaster.
“Our small businesses, from Rockford down to Cairo, Danville across to Quincy,
could not afford that,” he said. “You can see what’s already happened in Cook
County. There are lots and lots of municipalities that opted out of their $13 per
hour minimum wage because they knew their business community could not
sustain it.”
A bill to raise the Illinois minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 passed the
Illinois Senate and House last year, but was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner. 
“I know our small business folks are always wary of government-mandated
anything, but a government-mandated price hike on labor? A 70 percent to 80 percent increase,
even over a two-to- five year period, that’s really tough for any small business to
manage and stay healthy,” Grant said.
Grant said tax relief from Washington helped many accommodate the tax hikes
that took effect last year in Illinois.
“The federal tax reform bill probably came at just a great time for them because of
what the state was doing by increasing taxes on both the pass-through and the
corporate side,” Grant said. “C-corps are paying close to that 10% number and
that’s pretty expensive.”


Senate passes Tracy initiative to improve reporting of sex offenses for victims

A new criminal law on sexual offenses for victims unaware of a sexual crime has been passed in the Senate. The measure, which is sponsored by State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy), extends the statute of limitations to allow for the prosecution of a sexual offense committed against an adult within one year after the victim’s discovery.
Tracy’s bill, Senate Bill 2271, was unanimously approved by the State Senate on May 10. It now advances to the Illinois House of Representatives. 
“In cases prosecuting sexual offenses and assaults, ‘discovery’ should no doubt begin from when the victim discovers the crime, not from the day it was committed,” Tracy said in a release. “The statute of limitations should take into account the cases when an individual was not conscious or mentally present to know the crime was committed—and we are all aware these cases happen and should be treated fairly like every sexual assault case.” 
The Bill stems from a previous case in Adams County, where a woman was unconscious during the time of a sexual assault, and evidence of the offense was discovered on the perpetrator’s computer during a search warrant for an unrelated crime. Due to the statute of limitations for the offense committed already having expired at this time, the defendant could not be charged for the sex crime.
“It is incredibly disheartening we could not get justice for the resident of Adams County, especially with such incriminating evidence, but we can change the law and help others like her in the future,” Tracy said. “This is a call to action, and now I ask my colleagues in the Illinois House to push this legislation through to the Governor.”
The Illinois House of Representatives now has until the scheduled May 31 deadline to approve the bill.


Carthage, Cuba receive federal housing grants

The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced that Carthage and Cuba are two of the 14 Illinois communities to receive the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Housing.


The City of Carthage will receive $402,480 in funding, while the City of Cuba will get $368,550. The fourteen projects across the state were approved for a total of $6 million in state-administered federal funds.


“Community development is essential for stable, safe and thriving neighborhoods,” said Governor Rauner in a release. “The state is proud to assist these communities in their efforts to bring better living conditions to their low-income residents through residential improvement and rehabilitation projects.”
Per the release, the objective of the state-administered funds is to provide safe, sanitary and affordable living conditions. 


Macomb City Council Meeting Agenda for Monday, May 14

The agenda has been released for the upcoming Macomb City Council meeting. It will be held Monday, May 14 at 5:15 p.m. in Macomb City Hall. 


MONDAY, MAY 14, 2018
5:15 P.M.
Discussion on a proposal from Entec to upgrade the HVAC control system for City Hall.
Discussion on an ordinance to amend Sections 4-52(b)(11), 4-81(e) and 4-84(a) of Chapter 4 of the Municipal Code of Macomb, Illinois pertaining to the Macomb Liquor Code (Video Gaming).
Discussion on an ordinance for annexing certain territory located in a part of the southwest Quarter of Section Twenty Nine, Township Six North, Range Two West of the Fourth Principal Meridian, McDonough County, Illinois (Midwest Grass and Forage).
Other business.
Executive Session
To consider information relative to:
a) Appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of an employee of the public body or legal counsel for the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(1) of the Open Meetings Act.
b)Collective Bargaining matters between the public body and it’s employees or representatives, or deliberations concerning salary schedules for one or more classes of employees, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(2) of the Open Meetings Act.
c) The purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(5) of the Open Meetings Act.
d)The setting of a price for sale or lease of property owned by the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(6) of the Open Meetings Act.
e) Pending or probable litigation, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(11) of the Open Meetings Act.


Upcoming Macomb ceremonies announced

Macomb Mayor Mike Inman has announced two ceremonies that will be held in the City of Macomb in the coming weeks. The public is invited to attend these events. 


On Friday, May 25, there will be an Oakwood Cemetery Marker dedication ceremony held at the main entrance of Oakwood Cemetery on North Randolph Street. The ceremony will take place at 10:00 a.m. The rain location for this event will be the Macomb City Hall Community Room.  


A reception will be held immediately following the dedication ceremony, at 10:30 a.m., at the Macomb City Hall Community Room. The event is being held in conjunction with the State of Illinois Bicentennial, as William Furry, Executive Director of the Illinois State Historical Society will be in attendance. 


On Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, the Flags of Love will be displayed in Chandler Park. The flags will be up from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the volunteer help of the Kiwanis Club and the Masonic Lodge #17 and community volunteers.  

In the event of inclement weather and need to cancel, there will be a red ribbon on a pole on the southeast corner of Chandler Park.


E. University Drive to have closure with upcoming water main construction

The City of Macomb Department of Public Works has announced that E. University Drive from 

State Street to Dorn Street will be closed to traffic, beginning Monday. This is due to water main construction. 


The Public Works Department said it "appreciates the cooperation and indulgence of the public during this construction phase." 


Those with questions or concerns can contact Public Works at (309) 833-2821. 


Retired generals' group: Illinois-supported childcare is a national security issue

A group of retired generals from Illinois who have pushed lawmakers for more gym class and raising the age to buy tobacco is saying that the nation won't be ready to fight its enemies if Illinois doesn't spend more on childcare. 
The Mission Readiness group, which includes a handful of retired generals including two former heads of the Illinois National Guard, has warned that the U.S. will not be ready for years. 
Retired general and former Congressman Bill Enyart said that most young people cannot get into the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines. 
"Currently, 71 percent of young people between age 17 and 26, the age when most people enter the military, are ineligible to serve in the Unites States' military," Enyart told reporters Wednesday at the Illinois Capitol. 
Enyart said that many either are physically unfit, didn't graduate high school, or have a criminal record. 
Mission Readiness said one of the ways to change that is for Illinois to spend more on early in life childcare. 
"High quality childcare programs can lay the foundation for successful learning, and encourage children to live active and healthy lives," Thomas said. "They also teach social skills that help prevent later behavioral issues."
The group said it is focusing specifically on Illinois' Child Care Assistance program, which provides state support for low-income families with young children.
Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget would spend $390 million on the program next year. 
The generals don't have a price tag that they'd like to see Illinois meet, but said more support is needed. 
"As military leaders, we appreciate the difficult decisions that must be made by legislators in allocating funds for various programs," Thomas said. "But we are talking about prioritizing funding for high quality childcare, which is a direct corollary to national security issue."


Bill providing more oversight on grant spending advances at statehouse

Nearly four years after a controversial Illinois grant program dolled out millions of dollars in questionable spending, a state senator is confident his bill advancing at the statehouse will give taxpayers more accountability and transparency in how the state spends grant dollars.
The 98th General Assembly resolved that former Gov. Pat Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative’s (NRI) $54.5 million budget for its first two years (fiscal years 2011-2012) was found to have pervasive deficiencies in planning, implementation and management.
The resolution also said budgets from fiscal years 2013-2014 didn’t include appropriations for NRI, but there was similar spending lined out in non-appropriated funds through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Lawmakers called for an auditor to do a deeper dive.
A 2016 auditor general report found a litany of issues with NRI. One finding was that in the final two years of the NRI program, $28.4 million was moved from appropriated funds into what State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, said turned into a political slush fund.
Barickman said his bill would fix that.
“[Senate Bill 2540] prohibits governors from moving taxpayer funds around in order to manipulate spending and circumvent the oversight the legislature is supposed to have on spending,” Barickman said.
The measure also would provide a blackout period before elections to keep the state’s constitutional officers from putting their names on such programs or grants to gain a political advantage, “so they cannot make grant announcements and things that I think the public is suspicious of in the weeks before an election,” he said.
Quinn was criticized for doing just that in the runup to the 2014 election against rival Bruce Rauner.
“So we prohibit that, we impose some tighter restrictions in how grant funds are spent and we rein in the ability of our state governor to spend money on what was perceived to be a political slush fund,” Barickman said.
The 2016 audit also found that despite the grantees getting more than $11 million in the final two years of the program, they also got an additional $362 million in state funds from other activities in each of the years.
Other audit findings included contracts not being executed in a timely manner, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority violating its agreement processing policies, quarterly reports weren’t timely and had inaccurate budget figures, grants were paying salaries of nonprofits in excess of what was reported, site visits weren’t being conducted in a timely manner, ineligible clients received re-entry services, and millions of dollars in funds went unrecovered.
“We continue to try to claw back some of that money, but the easiest way to make sure that you’re not in a situation like this is stop people from spending money like this,” Barickman said.
There are a lot of good grant programs out there, Barickman said, but for taxpayers to get the best bang for their buck, measures are needed to block politicians from spending tax dollars for political expediency.
“The public has to know that government is doing a good job, a watchful job, an efficient job of spending that money,” Barickman said.
Senate Bill 2540 passed the Senate unanimously earlier this month and is now in the House. A House Executive Committee Hearing is scheduled May 17 in Springfield where the bill could be considered.


WIU President Jack Thomas did not land Boise State/Tuskegee jobs. Now what?

Western Illinois University President Dr. Jack Thomas did not land the president jobs at Tuskegee University and Boise State University that he was a finalist for. The question many in the Macomb community may be asking is "now what?"


In April, news broke that Thomas was one of five finalists for the opening at Boise State. Since touring the campus in late April, Thomas has withdrawn his name from consideration for the position. The Boise State search is has now been trimmed down to three finalists, with a decision expected next week. 


Last week, it came out that Thomas was one of two vying for the president job at Tuskegee University in Alabama. However, Wagner College (Staten Island, NY) Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Lily McNair, ended up getting the position


As Western Illinois University concludes the 2017-18 calender year, there are certainly more questions than answers for what the future holds for Thomas in Macomb. Dr. Thomas has served as WIU's 11th president since 2011. 


Two arrested for meth possession near Adair

Two New Hampshire residents have been arrested for meth arrest in McDonough County. Joseph and Corina Fall, 36 and 45 respectively, of Conway, New Hampshire, were arrested by a McDonough County Sheriff’s deputy following a traffic stop for a moving violation on U.S. Highway 136 at North 1050th Road, north of Adair. 
McDonough County Sherriff Nick Pettigout reports that Joseph Fall's vehicle was searched after he was found to be driving with a suspended license. Upon the search, both methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia were discovered in the vehicle. 
Joseph Fall was charged with Driving with a Suspended License, Possession of Methamphetamine under 5 Grams and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
Corina Fall was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine under 5 Grams and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
They are both being held in the McDonough County Jail in lieu of bond.


Lawmakers debate governor's pension cost shift proposal

Critics of the governor's plan to find hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for the coming budget by shifting pension costs to local school districts say it's difficult to know what the policy could be without a bill being filed.
During a Senate appropriations hearing Wednesday, state Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, said the governor's idea to shift pension costs back to local school districts may be a good idea, but three months after his February budget address “the governor’s office has not filed the very bills that we’re supposed to be debating right now.”
Governor’s Office of Management and Budget Director Hans Zigmund said that's because there’s been a pattern of the governor’s measures being brought for a vote only to be voted down and the policy being derailed and never brought up again.
“I would rather land on something that members of this body can vote for and the governor can sign than us file a bill, it gets called, it gets voted down and then we’re left with nothing,” Zigmund said.
The proposed shifts to the employer include partial costs of pensions for teachers and public university employees, as well as healthcare costs, something Gov. Bruce Rauner said will save the state $696 million this year. His overall plan would be phased in over four years.
Southwestern Community School District No. 9 Superintendent Brad Skertich said the policy would mean a budget hole of more than half a million dollars over four years for his district.
“The only way to cover this expense based on our district’s situation would be to cut staff and programs or to raise taxes,” Skertich said.
Other school representatives shared similar concerns.
If lawmakers decide not to go along with the idea, state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said it’s time to find where to cut.
“We need to start thinking about other areas for reduction that we would need to look at unless we are willing to go forward with at least some of these reform proposals,” Righter said.
Lawmakers have until the end of this month to pass a balanced budget with simple majorities.
House Speaker Mike Madigan backed a similar plan to shift pension costs to local districts in 2012 that ultimately failed. Rauner's plan calls for moving the entire cost of pension payments from the state to universities and local school districts over four years. 


MDH announces personalized running clinic

McDonough District Hospital is offering a personalized Running Clinic for people ages 12 and older. The clinic is run through MDH's Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation services. 


The clinic is open to runners of all skill levels. The cost varies based on individuals’ insurance company coverage for physical therapy, or if the individual wishes to pay out-of-pocket.


It begins with a free 30 minute screening and set up by appointment. The screening includes discussion of injury and history, muscle strength and flexibility assessment.


The clinic then offers a personalized evaluation. This provides, an individualized exercise program, running analysis, video analysis, and foot and running shoe recommendations. The clinic runs once a week for 4-6 weeks. 


The clinic will take place in the MDH physical therapy department and/or outdoors near MDH. For more information, contact Katie Ruebush, DPT in MDH Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation at (309) 836-1601.


26th Annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive to be held Saturday

The National Association of Letter Carriers will hold its 26th Annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on Saturday, May 12.


Mail carriers in McDonough County will be picking up non-perishable food items to donate to local food pantries. To donate, just leave items out by your mailbox Saturday, and they'll be picked up and donated. 


Treigh Lasswell, who is in charge of the event locally, is hoping for another successfull year of donations. You can listen to my interview with him from the K100 Morning Show, here


Legislative leaders and governor meet, still no agreement on revenue estimate

With three weeks left before the May 31 deadline to pass a balanced budget with simple majorities, an agreement on how much revenue the state will bring in still eludes lawmakers.
The four legislative leaders met with Gov. Bruce Rauner late Tuesday morning.
Senate President John Cullerton came out and said they’re close, but didn’t agree to having an official revenue estimate.
“I wouldn't be hung up on that,” Cullerton, D-Chicago, said. “That gets into somewhat of a gotcha game and a political fight. That’s not what’s holding us up.”
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said the revenue estimate isn’t a gotcha question. It’s state law and Budgeting 101.
“Having some type of an agreement of what revenue we’re going to have not only saves taxpayers' money but it saves the Democrats from themselves of what they have done with the budget process for the past three and a half years,” Durkin said.
While the Senate has passed a revenue estimate resolution for the past three years, the Hosue has not. Several weeks ago, Durkin and other Republicans put out a revenue estimate resolution for $36.7 billion. That resolution has not advanced.
Cullerton said this year is going much better than what he called a chaotic year last year because of the $5 billion in additional revenue from last summer’s income tax increase, which passed over the governor’s veto. Cullerton said the two sides are close, but there are still some issues to work out.
None of the meeting participants would go into what the issues are, but it could be a pension cost-shift proposal Rauner laid out in his February budget address, pension reform that could save taxpayers in future budget years, or other issues.
Cullerton said the proposed sale of the Thompson Center in Chicago is hard to nail down, as there could be a $100 million difference in the final sale price, if it were ever to be sold as Rauner has been pushing for.
Following the meeting, Rauner, flanked by the GOP leaders, said he feels Democrats are slow-walking the process.
“There was some expression in the conversations about maybe we should deal with some of these things post election,” Rauner said. “We should not let politics nor elections get in the way of doing the right thing for the people of Illinois.”
Cullerton said the election isn’t his concern, but acknowledged it is a factor in the process. Altogether, though, Cullerton said he is confident things will come together while they tackle some outstanding issues.
“There’s a number of differing things that we would consider to close the gap and that’s what we’re going to ask our negotiators to do,” Cullerton said.
“The people of Illinois deserve balanced budgets. No new taxes. The people of Illinois are taxed out,” Rauner said.
More meetings are expected in the coming days to hash out a budget before the May 31 deadline.


Free well water test kits offered to eligible McDonough County residents

With Drinking Water Week (May 6-12) being celebrated nationwide, a local organization is helping provide valuable resources to McDonough County residents who use private wells as their water source. 
The McDonough County Groundwater Protection Education Committee (MCGPEC) has been, and will continue to, distribute free private water supply test kits throughout the week. The test kit will screen for coliform bacteria and E. Coli bacteria, indicators of water pollution. Water testing is recommended once a year, or after repairing a well or distribution system. 
The MCGPEC will be distributing free test kits at Farm King (1620 E. Jackson Street, Macomb) today until 5 p.m., and 8 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, May 9. Water test kits will also be available at the McDonough County Health Department (505 E. Jackson Street, Macomb) until May 10 from 7:30 a.m. to noon.
More information about Drinking Water Week can be found on the American Water Works Association website


Illinois Senate wants to expand Medicaid dental coverage

Illinois' Medicaid program could soon get larger. 
The Illinois Senate last week voted to expand the state's Medicaid program to offer dental coverage to everyone who is Medicaid eligible.
Right now, only children and pregnant moms can get their teeth cleaned and cavities filled. 
Democratic state Sen Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, said the expansion would cover more than 600,000 able-bodied, single men added to Illinois' Medicaid program under Obamacare. 
"We want to make sure that everyone in our state who is Medicaid eligible gets immediate preventative dental care," Aquino said on the Senate floor. 
The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services says expanding dental coverage could cost as much as $26 million a year.
Republicans, including Rockford Sen. Dave Syverson, said that's not a cost that Illinois needs to pay.
Syverson said many of Illinois' private Medicaid managers already offer dental care, at no cost to the state.
"A number of the managed care organizations already do this themselves, and they pay for it," Syverson said. "They do it as a marketing tool to try and get more people to get into their MCO." 
Aquino's plan doesn't limit the cost or scope of the kind of work that Medicaid patients get, or how often. 
Democrats used their numbers to push the plan, SB 2429, through on a 39-14 vote. The Illinois House will get the proposal next. 


Macomb Hy-Vee to host Community Blood Drive Thursday, May 31

The Macomb Hy-Vee (1600 E. Jackson St.) will host a community blood drive from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm on Thursday, May 31, inside the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC) Donor Bus.


The entire donation process takes 45 minutes to one hour. Individuals with diabetes or controlled high blood pressure may be accepted as eligible donors. MVRBC is the exclusive blood donation provider to McDonough District Hospital. 

Potential donors must be at least 17 years of age (16 with parental permission form available through and weigh more than 110 pounds. A photo I.D. is required to donate. Donors who last gave blood on or before 4/5/18 are eligible to give at this drive. For further questions about eligibility, please call MVRBC at (800) 747-5401.
To donate, please contact Andrea Thompson at (309) 837-9917 or visit and use code 2387 to locate the drive.


Rauner calls budget process 'frustratingly slow' less than month before deadline

Gov. Bruce Rauner said Monday that budget talks have been “frustratingly slow" ahead of a deadline to pass a spending plan with simple majorities.
“I hope it’s not some orchestrated effort to go slow,” Rauner told reporters Monday in Chicago. “We need a balanced budget for a full year, not just six months, no new taxes and a budget that lives within our means.”
June 1 is the benchmark day when lawmakers should have sent a budget to Rauner’s desk for either a signature or veto in hope that something is in place by July 1, the beginning of the state’s fiscal year. If they don’t pass something by May 31, a budget would require three-fifths of the General Assembly to approve, making the process more complicated.
Representatives for both Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan said the process is on track.
“[The] pace [is] being set by his budget director,” said Steve Brown, Madigan’s spokesman. “The speaker continues to work to get the budget done by the end of the month.”
Brown also said the budget director is focusing on a fiscal 2018 supplemental budget "to pay for administration overspending.”
Cullerton spokesman John Patterson said Monday afternoon that the governor’s department directors have all met with senators. Cullerton “expects to have a budget by the end of the month,” Patterson said.
Senators are beginning to look at the cost savings measures in Rauner's budget request, Patterson said.


IDNR reminds Illinoisans to leave young wildlife alone

With breeding season in full force, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has put out a reminder to Illinois residents to leave baby birds and wild animals alone.


The Illinois Wildlife Code provides legal protection for wildlife. It is against the law to keep wild animals as pets, or to raise wild animals believed to have been abandoned.


An IDNR release notes that "well-meaning people may believe they are helping by taking possession of young wildlife such as young rabbits, fawn deer, baby birds and other animals that may appear to have been orphaned or abandoned. In nearly all cases, the birds and animals are still being fed and cared for by their parents, which likely stay away from nests or dens if people are present."


Anyone with questions about possibly abandoned wildlife can contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. For more information, visit the Living with Wildlife in Illinois website



New statehouse plan would require gym classes no matter what

Illinois schools are already required to offer gym class, but a new plan at the statehouse could force schools to take time away from other classes to make sure students offer enough physical education. 
Illinois currently requires schools to offer gym class at least three days a week. 
State Sen. Linda Homles, D-Aurora, wants to change that to 150 minutes a week. No matter what. 
"We understand the impact of physical activity on a child's ability to learn and retain information," Holmes said on the Illinois Senate floor last week. "We also understand that [the obesity] crisis is a nationwide problem."
A handful of lawmakers, including state Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield, said no other subject in Illinois schools has a mandate down to the minute. 
And Bertino-Tarrant said, Illinois schools would have to hit the 150 minute mark, every week. 
"If we have a shortened school week, then some other class is going to have to reschedule somehow to make sure P.E. has their 150 minutes," Bertino-Tarrant said. "We may have to take away 10 minutes from math every week, or 10 minutes away from English every week."
The Illinois State Board of Education's State Report Card shows nearly two-thirds of students in the state can't read or write at grade level. 
Holmes said she understands, but said her plan would give local schools the flexibility to meet the mandate and still teach other classes. 
State Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said mandates, by their very definition, take away a local school's flexibility to teach. 
"Only in the Capitol building would we suggest that we are giving schools more flexibility by telling them how many minutes their kids have to do P.E.," Righter said. 
The Illinois Senate approved Holmes plan, SB 2572, on a bipartisan 36-14 vote. It next goes to the House.


State senator eyes amending $40,000 teacher starting salary plan to move away from pensions

An Illinois Senate Republican, who is also a teacher, has suggested a bill that requires school districts pay starting teachers $40,000 a year should be amended to get future teachers out of an underfunded state pension system.
The House narrowly passed House Bill 5175 last month, 61-38.
Proponents of the measure said teachers deserve the starting salary of $40,000. Opponents said the mandate will hurt cash-strapped districts, especially in rural areas.
With the measure now in the Senate, state Sen. Tom Rooney, a teacher, said the math doesn’t work.
“Just starting somebody at [$35,000] and then changing them to [$40,000] could mean a half a million dollars just in that one person’s pension,” Rooney, R-Palatine, said. “We can’t be working in that direction.”
The American Academy of Actuaries says pension funds should be fully funded. The Illinois’ Teachers’ Retirement System is not even 40 percent funded.
Rooney believes the only way Republicans will get on board is if the measure is amended to require new hires go into a 401(k) type plan, not the poorly funded Teachers’ Retirement System.
“Anybody moving forward who gets hired under this new salary, they would have to be something like [State University Retirement System]-style hybrid, something like 401(k),” Rooney said. “You cannot be in this pension system if you’re going to start out $5,000 more than what was negotiated in your district.”
SURS eligible employees can choose a self-managed, defined contribution plan instead of the defined benefit plan through pensions.
Rooney said lawmakers need to stop making big promises without corrective action to make good on such promises.
“Everybody down here seems to just want to make all kinds of promises to everybody and, gee. we never get around to paying for those promises,” Rooney said. “That’s how we’re in this problem in the first place.”
The office of the Senate’s chief sponsor, state Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, said they’re working on an amendment, but declined to elaborate until after it is filed.
The Senate is back in Springfield with an Education Committee hearing Tuesday.


State lawmakers move to keep Obama-era EPA regulations ahead of potential rollback

Illinois lawmakers want to protect state environmental rules from a potential rollback by President Donald Trump’s administration.
State Sen. Daniel Biss’ bill would require the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to maintain the Obama-era rules should the regulations be rolled back by Trump’s EPA, even retroactively to the beginning of Trump’s term in office. It would also force more extensive worker safety standards than what the EPA could potentially enforce.
Biss, D-Evanston, told senators that his bill would protect the local environment from Trump should his administration try to ease federal requirements.
“It simply creates critical environmental protections in the event that the Trump administration does what they have unfortunately threatened to do,” he said. “Should those protections be rolled back on the federal level, the state would swiftly act to put them here in place on the state level.”
Much has been made over Trump’s executive order to roll back a number of policies set in place by his predecessor, but not many of the decrees have been fully executed. Others appear to be in for a long court battle.
Both Republicans and Democrats from southern Illinois opposed the measure. State Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, said the state would potentially be erasing hundreds of union jobs and complicating current lawsuits.
He said it would create a national statement that Illinois' EPA is “basically hostile to any changes in environmental [regulations], however reasonable.”
Haine, who represents Roxana, home to Phillips 66’s Wood River oil refinery, said this would be an open invitation for other states to woo more employers from Illinois.
“They will make a competitive effort to divert some of the resources from our industries to their refineries,” he told senators.
Despite opposition, it passed and now awaits House action, where the bill is sponsored by Rep. Julianna Stratton, D-Chicago, who is running for lieutenant governor with Democratic nominee J.B. Pritzker. The Chicago billionaire has framed much of his race as a fight against Trump.


Adair crash involving car and semi sends two to hospital

A crash between drivers of a semi and a car in Adair Saturday night sent two to the hospital with injuries. 
At  5:47 p.m. Saturday evening, Ronald R. Dmarlie, 63, of Danville, Iowa, was traveling westbound on US-136 through Adair. At the intersection of Oak Street, Jerry L. Worley, 55, of Table Grove, was attempting to turn left. Worley, who was driving a 2004 Ford Taurus, was struck by Dmarlie's 2013 Kenworth Semi Tractor. Dmarlie was attempting to pass at the intersection. He's been charged with Passing at an Intersection. 
The crash left Worley unable to exit his vehicle. He was extricated by the New Salem Fire Department. He and his passenger, Lorie O. Worley, 54, of Macomb, were both taken to Mcdonough District Hospital.
The Illinois State Police responded to the crash, along with The McDonough County Sheriff’s Office, New Salem Fire Department, and First Alert Ambulance.


Macomb City Council Meeting Agenda for Monday, May 7

Below is the agenda for the Macomb City Council meeting on Monday, May 7. It will be held at 5:15 p.m. at Macomb City Hall. 


Minutes of the Macomb City Council meeting held on Monday, April 16, 2018 and Committee of the Whole meetings held on Monday, April 23, 2018 and Monday, April 30, 2018.
Claims and Accounts
Department Reports: Police Department, Fire Department
Consideration of an ordinance to amend Section 4-117 of Chapter 4 of the Municipal Code of Macomb, Illinois pertaining to the possession and consumption of alcohol on property belonging to the City of Macomb.
This ordinance will be presented for second reading and final approval. A revised copy is 
attached for your review. 
Consideration to authorize the purchase of one AWD Ford Police Interceptor and one Dodge Charger for the Macomb Police Department in the amount of $49,000.00.
This was discussed at committee on April 23 and final action will be in order.
Consideration to award the mowing bid for the 2018 mowing season to Sully’s Lawn Maintenance in the amount of $45.00 per hour.
This was discussed at committee on April 23 and final action will be in order.
 Consideration to approve the professional services agreement with Maurer-Stutz for the North Randolph overlay project in the estimated amount of $20,580.00, not to exceed $22,000.00.
A memo from PW Director Coker is attached for your review along with a copy of the 
agreement. Final action will be in order.
May 7, 2018
Page 2
Other unfinished business.
Consideration of a resolution to amend the established Macomb Downtown Development Revolving Loan program maximum loan amount to $25,000.00.
A copy of the resolution is attached for your review.  Final adoption will be in order.
Consideration to approve a Downtown Revolving loan to Mark Kelly dba CMK Jewelers and Repairs, 35 East Side Square in the amount of $22,000.00, 2% interest for seven (7) years.
A memo from CDC Heitner is attached for your review. Final action will be in order.
Consideration to approve an amendment/change order to the engineering services agreement with Benton and Associates from $28,000.00 to a not to exceed amount of $38,000.00 for the City of Macomb Transportation Bus Shelter Project.
Attached is a memo from Transit Director Cobb for your review. Final action will be in order.
Consideration to authorize the purchase of three (3) new Zero Turn lawn mowers from Birkey’s Farm Store in the amount of $25,000.00.
Attached is a memo from Supervisor Gary Rhoads for your review. Final action will be in order.
Consideration of an ordinance to amend Sections 4-52(b)(11), 4-81(e) and 4-84(a) of Chapter 4 of the Municipal Code of Macomb, Illinois pertaining to the Macomb Liquor Code (Video Gaming).
This ordinance will be presented for first reading. A copy is attached for your review.
Consideration of an ordinance for annexing certain territory located in a part of the Southwest Quarter of Section Twenty Nine, Township Six North, Range Two West of the Fourth Principal Meridian, McDonough County, Illinois (Midwest Grass and Forage).
This ordinance will be presented for first reading. A copy of the ordinance is attached for 
your review.
Other new business.
May 7, 2018
Page 3
a) Appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of an employee of the public body or legal counsel for the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (1) of the Open Meetings Act.
b) Collective Bargaining matters between the public body and its employees or 
representatives or deliberations concerning salary schedules for one or more classes of employees, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (2) of the Open Meetings Act.
c) The purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (5) of the Open Meetings Act.
d) The setting of a price for sale or lease of property owned by the public body, 
pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (6) of the Open Meetings Act.
e) Pending or probable litigation, pursuant to Sec. 2(c) (11) of the Open Meetings Act.


Report: Illinois needs $21 billion annually to repair infrastructure

Illinois needs to come up with $21 billion a year to pay for repairs to its infrastructure, according to a new report.
After last summer’s income tax hike, the state expects to bring in about $37.6 billion in the coming budget year starting in July. If lawmakers were to begin to tackle the backlog of road, bridge, building and school maintenance, a report released Wednesday by the La Grange-based think tank Illinois Economic Policy Institute estimates it would cost the state $21.25 billion more a year until updates are finished.
Illinois averages $3.3 billion in infrastructure spending annually, according to the Civic Federation. 
“If some changes aren’t made soon, the problem’s just going to continue in the long run,” IEPI transportation policy analyst Mary Craighead said.
She pointed to the Legionnaires' disease outbreak in the Quincy veterans home as an example of problems of the state’s failing infrastructure.
The report from the nonprofit, which often does research in support of labor and progressive initiatives, outlined six areas of state funding that would make up the tab in fiscal 2019 and beyond.
State-owned facilities: $7.3 billion
Higher education: $5.5 billion
PreK-12 education: $3.83 billion
IDOT roads and bridges: $1.70 billion
Chicago’s Regional Transit Authority: $2.72 billion
Downstate transit: $200 million
The report is largely silent on how the state could foot the massive bill. It notes that federal infrastructure funding proposed by President Donald Trump won't solve the state's infrastructure problems.
"President Trump’s recently released $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal emphasizes the need to leverage federal funding with local or private support. Only $200 billion of direct federal funding was proposed ... Consequently, Illinois lawmakers should be especially motivated to supply its own capital funding bill for infrastructure projects."
Some issues, such as PreK-12 education, would be partially paid for by local property taxes, Craighead said.
The House Transportation Committee gathered Wednesday to discuss ways to pay for roads and repairs, which Craighead estimates at more than $10 billion over the next five years.
Advocates and union officials said hiking gas taxes would increase revenue, but Rep. Jerry Long, R-Streator, cautioned that Illinoisans are already overtaxed.
“With the total accumulation of taxes, how much more do you think that the people are going to deal with in the state of Illinois?” he said.
Long and others said changes to policies like workers compensation need to be changed to find cost savings.


Soybeans giving corn a run for the money on Illinois farm

At one time, corn was king.
American farmers are now planting just as much soybeans as corn, and Illinois ranks as the top soybean-producing state in the country in four of the last five years, with Iowa as the state's chief rival.
Mike Doherty, Illinois Farm Bureau senior economist and policy analyst, said that doesn’t mean Illinois farmers are giving up on corn. A hybrid mix of the two crops gives farmers some built in financial security, he said.
“Many of them, even then, were resistant to getting too far away from that 50-50 rotation because it works for them,” Doherty said.
Because of Illinois’ geography, farmers in the southern part of the state have the advantage of a longer growing season, he said.
“That gives us an area where you can double crop because you have a longer growing season further south,” Doherty said. “So we’re just able to squeeze in a double crop of corn and wheat.”
These days, farmers will often rotate that second crop between corn and beans.
Why the rise in soy? Demand is growing in China and other foreign markets. Plus, Doherty said, Brazil has emerged as a corn competitor in recent years.
Soybean demand in China has kept prices higher than the more competitive corn market. China now buys half of U.S. soybean exports for its pork production.
“Soybeans have a higher protein content than corn has and so there’s been this increasing demand each year overseas,” Doherty said.
Many farmers are worried that increasing tensions over a trade war may prompt China to impose a soybean tariff that would hurt their profits.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects American farmers will plant more than 10 million acres of soybeans and corn this year.


West Prairie Middle School student arrested for threat

A second student in the West Prairie School District has been arrested for a specific threat made at school. This time, it's a 14-year-old girl at the middle school. 


The student was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon, following the discovery and investigation of a note that was left in a school bathroom. The typed letter “stated a specific threat of violence against students, and that the incident would occur this Friday," McDonough County Sheriff Rick Van Brooker said in a media release. 


This is similar to the situation that occurred last week at West Prairie High School, in which a 15-year-old girl was arrested following the discovery of a threatening note in the bathroom. 


The 14-year-old has been charged with with felony disorderly conduct. She is now in the Mary Davis Juvenile Home in Galesburg, awaiting a juvenile detention hearing.




Unconfirmed cases of mumps found at WIU

The McDonough County Health Department and Beu Health Center at Western Illinois University have revealed numerous unconfirmed cases of mumps on campus. According to a university release, students who appear to show symptoms, have been isolated for the required five-day isolation period following the onset of symptoms.


Initial symptoms of mumps include:
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- Generalized discomfort
- Headache
- Low-grade fever
After a period of one to two days, symptoms may progress to:
- Swelling in one or both of the salivary glands in front of the ears
- Pain / tenderness along the jaw
- Swelling / pain in testicles in males (post-puberty); lower abdominal pain from swelling of ovaries in females who have reached puberty (< 20% of cases)
Students who believe they have mumps should call the Beu Health Center at (309) 298-1888.


"Please do not come directly to the health center without calling," said Beu Health Center Director John Smith. "If you have mumps symptoms we need to take precautions during your visit so that we do not infect other patients using the health center."
Students who receive a diagnosis of mumps will be encouraged to go home. If that is not an option, Smith says that WIU has quarantine facilities available. 
Students can receive an MMR vaccination by contacting Student Health Services at (309) 298-1888. Faculty and staff contact should contact their healthcare provider.
The University has listed the following tips as ways to avoid contracting and spreading mumps. 
- Wash your hands well and often with soap and water.
- Do not share eating utensils and beverages with others.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces with soap and water.
- Avoid close contact with individuals who are sick.


Illinois drivers could soon register cars every two years instead of every year

Illinois drivers could soon be able to register license plates for cars and trailers every two years instead of each year with two bills advancing in the General Assembly.
The state Senate sponsor said it would save taxpayers money and be more convenient.
House Bill 4259 and Senate Bill 1505 would give motorists the option of getting a two-year vehicle registration, instead of having to get a new sticker every year. Both measures passed their respective chambers unanimously.
State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said the idea came from his father “coming into my house in January and he was very frustrated.”
“I’m like, ‘what’s the matter?' And he had been trying in the bitter cold to put that sticker on his plate in sub-zero temperatures and it just wouldn’t stick on right,” McConchie said. “And he said, ‘You know, I wish we could just buy a license plate for multiple years at a time’.”
Why only two years?
“That’s required because the EPA has the emission tests standards in Chicago and East St. Louis,” McConchie said. “And they do that every two years.”
Both measures would also allow for trailers to be licensed for up to five years.
McConchie said the measure will help reduce some of the postage costs for the Secretary of State’s office.
“During the budget impasse, to save money the Secretary of State’s office actually stopped sending out postage,” McConchie said. “It’s one of the biggest line items in the Secretary of State’s budget.”
During the start of the more-than two-and-a-half year budget impasse in 2015, the Secretary of State’s office reported postage costs for registration renewal notices was more than $450,000 a month. The department suspended the mailings as a cost savings measure, but later fired the reminders back up when lawmakers passed piecemeal budgets.
“We are pleased to work with the sponsors of the legislation to offer customers a two-year vehicle registration option for license plates,” said Henry Haupt, a spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White.
The measures do not not apply to large commercial vehicles.


Iverson calls special meeting for MDH Board

Dr. Richard Iverson, Chairman of the Board of Directors of McDonough County Hospital District, has called a special meeting of the Board of Directors. The meeting will take place at 5:00 p.m. Monday, June 11. This comes in wake of last Friday's announcement from MDH CEO/President Kenny Boyd that he will resign effective this summer. 


According to the meeting agenda, discussion will be held "with Juniper Advisory on MDH Situation and Strategic Initiatives." Iverson has yet to name an interim President/CEO. 


Boyd is leaving MDH for an executive level position at a healthcare facility in Tennessee. Boyd has worked at the hospital since July 2011. 



Illinois senate passes mandatory LGBT history curriculum for schools

Illinois state senators passed an amended bill Wednesday that would require lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history to be taught in public schools.
The measure, which has no funding component, next goes to the House. It mandates LGBT history be worked into U.S. and state history curriculum in schools.
State Sen. Heather Steans amended Senate Bill 3249 to ease concerns from opponents, she said.
“It requires the study on the roles and contributions of LGBT people and the history of this state and the country,” Steans, D-Chicago, said. “We’ve made a lot of changes based on a lot of input, which I appreciate, and it’s incorporating it just in the study of history like it does for many other populations in this state.”
Despite the changes, state Sen. Chuck Weaver, R-Peoria, remained opposed. He said there’s still concerns about added mandates with no funding.
“There’s also concerns about religious freedom in regard to folks who may have a difference of opinion with regard to how this is handled on a curriculum basis,” Weaver said.
The measure is limited to public schools. It wouldn't apply to private or religious schools.
State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, said the bill is not a new mandate and simply weaves LGBT contributions into existing school curriculum.
“I think it ensures simply that the history that is taught is factual and accurate,” Barickman said.
Steans said her bill will help students who feel isolated.
“What we find is that there’s an enormous drop, 36 percent drop, in people feeling bullied and getting derogatory remarks made about them when they’re included in the curriculum,” Steans said.
Locally elected school board members want decide what is taught in their schools rather than be told what students should learn from lawmakers in Springfield, said Zach Messersmith, director of government relations for the Illinois Association of School Boards.
"We have a clear directive from our membership to oppose all curricular mandates that come before the General Assembly," he said. "We believe that locally elected school boards should be able to determine curricula for their students as long as it meets Illinois Learning Standards."
The measure passed 34-18 and now heads to the House.


Madigan's progressive tax resolution heads to House floor

Illinois state Representatives pushed House Speaker Michael Madigan’s progressive tax resolution forward to the House floor on Wednesday after more than two hours of sometimes heated discussion that failed to detail key factors such as income levels or tax rates. 
Madigan’ resolution is only advisory. Supporters missed the deadline to get a question on the ballot in November. The resolution says that a progressive income tax will “stimulate small business growth” and give a tax cut to most state residents. It also calls out Minority Leader Jim Durkin’s resolution opposing a progressive tax. Leader Durkin, R-Western Springs, went after Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, and others for not revealing the rates at which they would tax income earners.
“Why isn’t anybody talking about what their rates are? What is [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] J.B. Pritzker and the Democratic majority hiding?” he asked, being told to drop the question of rates by the committee chair.
Not one rate or bracket was mentioned Wednesday. The only firm details of what a progressive tax would mean for Illinois were that it would bring in more money for the state while giving the majority of people a tax cut.
Currie said that defenders of a flat tax don’t have the best interests of the middle class in mind.
“People who oppose the idea are generally more responsive to the particularly well-off taxpayers, the rich, than they are to the middle-class,” she said.
Illinois’ flat income tax is enshrined in the state constitution and would have to be put before the voters to change to a progressive tax.
The conversation eventually moved to the heart of the matter: how could Illinois best raise the tax money to pay for its bills, running short even after a $5 billion income tax increase last July.
“The amount of money that needs to be raised through a progressive income tax alone isn’t $2 billion, it’s $8 billion,” he said. “That would destroy the Illinois economy.”
State Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, said the nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability told him the state would have to raise the current flat tax to 6.45 percent to keep up with state spending over the next several years.
“That’s not politics, that’s math,” he said.
Opponents pounced on the thought that a progressive income tax would spur economic activity, something businesses are craving in terms of state policy.
“Individuals respond to prices, they respond to economic policy,” said Orphe Divounguy, chief economist at the Illinois Policy Institute. “Raising the tax rate would cause economic activity to decrease.”
The political advantages of a progressive income tax structure lie in the marginalization of higher earners. It would allow, for instance, lawmakers to change the state’s top rate to 10 percent and kick in at $100,000 annually, knowing that the cash grab would affect a smaller number of voters. A flat tax, on the other hand, is felt by anyone who works for a living, meaning the pain of any tax hike is felt more broadly, risking taxpayer ire at the ballot box.


OSF Healthcare announces Annual Charity Golf Classic

OSF Healthcare St. Luke Medical Center announced that its Annual Charity Golf Classic will be held Monday, June 4 at Kewanee Dunes Golf Club (3536 Midland Road, Kewanee). 


The event costs $80 per golfer. That fee includes lunch, 18 holes with golf cart rental, post game appetizer social and prizes. Registration is due by Friday, June 1. The event rain date will be Monday, June 11. 


To register, complete and send in the registration form. The form can be mailed to the hospital at the address on the form. You can also email the hospital at, or call in your registration at (309) 852-7820. 


Citizens May Community and Seniors Day focuses on stroke awareness

Citizens Bank (127 S. Side Square Macomb), will hold its monthly Community and Seniors Day tomorrow (Thursday, May 3). The bank holds the event at its Downtown Macomb branch on the first Thursday of every month to provide beneficial services to senior citizens in the area. 
This month will be centered on stroke awareness, as May is stroke awareness month. Heartland Health Care will be on hand to discuss the ways of reducing your risk of a stroke, the signs of a stroke, and what to do in the event of a stroke. Here are some online resources from Heartland Health Care about living a healthy lifestyle.  
Additionally, the AARP Driver Safety Program will be offered tomorrow. That takes place from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. The course is $15 with AARP membership and $20 for non-members.
For more details on Community and Seniors Day, call Citizens Customer Service at (309) 833-4551. You can also listen to my interview with Rochelle Seaver of Citizens, and Debbie Dalefield of Heartland Health Care. 


YMCA Circus Academy to hold 8th Annual Spring Show

The YMCA of McDonough County will hold its 8th Annual Spring Show Saturday and Sunday. The free event will begin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5. The Sunday show will start at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, May 6. 


The event will feature a mix of aerial acts, fun clown skits, acrobatics and more. To learn more about the event listen to my interview with Kaylee, Natalie, and Juliette, who will be participating in the event. 


Task force recommends $245 million solution to veterans' home in Quincy

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s task force to address ongoing problems with the Quincy veterans home wants the state to spend about $230 million to build a state-of-the-art facility in place of the aging home beset by water problems.
The Combined Veterans’ Capital Needs Task Force recommended Tuesday that the state move the remaining residents out of the facility that’s seen 13 deaths since a 2015 outbreak of Legionnaires disease. More cases were diagnosed this year.
The task force recommended building a facility estimated to cost up to $230 million along with funding another $6 million to $7 million in costs for temporary housing and water maintenance. They estimate the new facility could be built in 4 to 5 years and the temporary one, located in the vacant Sycamore Health Center, would be able to accept residents in less than a year.
The plan included already announced ideas from Rauner in March.
Specifically, the task force recommended:  
• Building a new, state-of-the-art skilled nursing care facility that could house up to 300 residents.
• Constructing a new, underground water loop that feeds existing buildings and new construction.
• Develop an alternate water source and make improvements to the existing water treatment facility as necessary.
• Buy and renovate the closed, off-site nursing facility to provide a safe and comfortable temporary living environment for up to 180 IVHQ residents. The facility could hold up to 90 residents permanently.
Rauner told reporters earlier Tuesday that the biggest issue with the existing facility is the patchwork of aging pipes that are capped in some areas.
“There are buildings that got torn down,” he said. “The plumbing that went to those buildings is still underground and capped off. That’s dead-end water that can sit there and breed pathogens.”
Sycamore closed in April 2017 after two years of budget bickering between Rauner and Democratic lawmakers in the General Assembly.
The project is estimated to cost nearly $250 million.
Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday that he would work to ensure federal funds help pay for it.
Rauner has been criticized from both sides of the aisle for his handling of the outbreak in Quincy. Erica Jeffries, Rauner’s secretary of veterans’ affairs, announced last week that she would step down in May.


WIRC Victim Services to hold Kathy Simmons Memorial 5K Saturday

Western Illinois Regional Council (WIRC) Victim Services is holding the Kathy Simmons Memorial 5K Run/Walk/Roll on Saturday, May 5. The race, which will begin at the Citizens Bank Plaza (220 South Randolph Street, Macomb), is being held in order to raise money for area victims of domestic violence who are using Victim Services. 


Online registration is still available, or you can register on race day at 7:30 a.m. The fee is $35 for race entries. The race is set to begin at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Citizens Bank Plaza. 


For more information on the race and WIRC Victim Services, listen to my interview with Victim Services Director Diane Mayfield. Also be sure to visit the WIRC-CAA Facebook page



House passes measure creating new grant for school psychologists, not armed resource officers

A measure creating a new taxpayer-funded grant that directs money to schools for psychologists rather than armed security officers is heading to the Senate.
State Rep. Chris Emanuel Welch, D-Westchester, said he amended his House Bill 4208 to take out some of the language that would have encouraged schools to phase out armed resource officers in favor of mental health professionals. Welch's amended measure would create a new grant for schools “that would expand or create restorative justice programs, hire school psychologists, social workers and other mental health and behavioral specialists,” Welch said in floor debate Friday.
State Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, said the bill, which is subject to appropriation by the legislature, should have never been brought forward. He said tying up funds in such a way is bad policy.
“Then it’s all going to be part of the budget process and then we’re going to get accused of not being concerned about our students if we don’t fund this program, which really doesn’t need to be in place in the first place,” Breen said.
The state doesn’t have the money it’s already committed to do now, Breen said, adding that he'd rather see resources freed up for law enforcement in schools.
“We need to be supporting our law enforcement personnel,” Breen said. “All of the shootings and things that have been happening in our schools shows very clearly that we need law enforcement personnel in our schools able to protect our children and able to stop these terrible threats from happening.”
Welch said he expects to have his bill amended in the Senate before it comes back to the House. It passed the House with only 64 votes.
State Rep. Juliana Stratton, D-Chicago, said the bill creating a new grant for schools wanting more school psychologists, instead of giving money for armed security, is needed.
“We should be concerned about their physical health, their mental health, their emotional health and any other type of expressions of health that we can identify for young people,” Stratton said.
Stratton and others cite a growing concern of school resource officers being too heavy-handed with students.
State Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinkley, said there’s another way to achieve that goal.
“And that’s adequate training for schools safety officers so that they are more concerned with student support and encouragement rather than arrests that the representative has identified,” Pritchard said.
Senate Bill 2925, which would do what Pritchard suggested, passed the Senate unanimously last week and is now in the House. SB2925 would require new training standards for school resource officers to focus more on developmental issues.


Illinois State Board of Elections: Illinois looking at election judge shortage

Election Day is nearly six months away, and the people who manage elections in the state are looking for election judges. 
Each polling place in Illinois is supposed to have five judges, Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich said. 
"There are supposed to be five election judges made up of three members of one party and two members of the other party. In every precinct," Dietrich said. "It's become a struggle for county clerks and municipal boards of elections, in many places, to come up with five judges per polling place." 
Dietrich said one reason for the struggle is age. 
"It's more of a demographic thing than anything else," Dietrich said. "The people who have done this for years and years are getting older. And younger people are not necessarily stepping up to fill the void."
Dietrich said pay is also an issue. Some counties pay a couple hundred bucks a day, others pay maybe $10 a hour.
There is a plan in the Illinois Senate, SB 2651, that would roll back the requirement for election judges to just three judges per polling place. 
Dietrich said the State Board is starting its judge colleges this summer to help train election judges. But he said it's up to county clerks and local election managers to first recruit them, then retain them. 


Durbin visits West Central IL, looks for Quincy Vets Home solution

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) visited the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, as well as Western Illinois University on Monday. 


Durbin's stop in Quincy was his first since January 4. Durbin was there for a briefing on the home’s plan to prevent further Legionnaires' Disease outbreaks. Durbin’s last visit to the home was January 4. Since then four more veterans have contracted the disease.


After the trip to Quincy, Durbin went on Twitter to express his optimism about the plan of action Governor Bruce Rauner will unveil today. 


Durbin also visited the Western Illinois University campus Monday to meet with students and faculty. Senator Durbin was there to talk about issues related to higher education, such as the high costs of textbooks and student loan debt, as well as net neutrality. 


Durbin held this meeting Monday at WIU's Leslie F. Malpass Library. 


WIU's Thomas finalist for Tuskegee president position

Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas has been named a finalist for the Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, AL) President opening.


Thomas, along with Wagner College (Staten Island, NY) Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Lily McNair, are the two finalists recommended by Tuskegee University's Presidential Search Committee. A decision is expected to be made on Friday, May 4. 


Thomas is also a finalist for the opening at Boise State University. Thomas had a scheduled interview in Boise last Thursday. He is one of five left in the running for that position. 


Thomas has Alabama roots, as he completed his undergraduate studies at Alabama A&M University, before receiving his master's from Virginia State University and doctorate from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 



Congressman Darin LaHood: Trade with China is good for U.S., Illinois

A central Illinois congressman says there is a split inside the White House on trade, and he's picking a side. 
Congressman Darin LaHood said there are some hard-line trade isolationists in President Donald Trump's administration and there are some global traders.
Right now, they seem to be battling over trade and tariffs.
LaHood is among the global trade group. He said trade with China is good for America and great for Illinois. 
"When I look at a district like mine, 40 percent of the corn or soybeans grown in McLean County, or Logan County, or Peoria County go somewhere else around the world," LaHood said. "They get put on a barge, go down the Illinois River or the Mississippi River, go down through New Orleans, through the new Panama Canal, and go anywhere in the world."
The same thing goes for Illinois hogs, John Deere tractors and heavy equipment from Caterpillar. 
LaHood said that he has some concerns that Trump's tariffs will be met with Chinese tariffs, as has already happened with hogs and soybeans. 
"The last time these kind of tariffs were put in place, under the Bush administration, we lost 30,000 jobs in this country," LaHood said. "Nobody won in that trade war. And nobody is going to win in this trade war."
LaHood said he hopes that the tariff tit-for-tat cools between the U.S. and China as both countries sit down and talk. 


Republican state senator again pushing to allow community colleges to offer four year nursing degrees

A projected nursing shortage in Illinois and across the country has state leaders looking for solutions. One Illinois legislator said community colleges may be able to help.
Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 888, which would allow community colleges to offer bachelor's degrees in nursing.
“Not only does it make sense logistically, but more importantly, I think it’s just a good value to be able to get this degree from a community college," Rezin said.
The idea is for community colleges to expand their programs to offer four-year degrees. Rezin said that would make nursing programs more accessible and more affordable for more residents.
“Community colleges offer a fantastic education at rock-bottom prices,” she said. “I’m a big fan of community colleges.”
Rather than condensing the bachelor’s degree study program, community colleges would be allowed to expand nursing programs. Rezin said this would appeal to nontraditional students.
“Somebody that’s already working, they may have their associate’s in nursing, they may be working during the day but they want to go back to school and get their bachelor’s degree in nursing," she said.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a shortage of more than 1 million nurses by 2022, and the American Nurses Association (ANA) anticipates more than a half million U.S. nurses will retire by that year.
“It resonates because most people know there’s a nursing shortage, and we’re trying to figure out where the gap, the disconnect, is," Rezin said. "Why do we have this nursing shortage?”
Illinois' four-year universities have long opposed the idea. Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn said last year that allowing community colleges to offer four year degrees crosses the line in how higher education was planned in the state.
"If we cross this line in providing the authority for bachelor's degrees at community colleges," Dunn said last year, according to The Champaign News-Gazette. "We're at a point where we will be changing statutory, operational history and the structure of how Illinois public higher education was envisioned."
The Illinois Higher Education Working Group is also discussing how the educational community can address the nursing shortage. If the group cannot find a solution, Rezin said the bill should be sent to the Senate floor for debate and a vote.
The bill was previously presented in May 2017, but didn’t pass. It was reintroduced this year without limits on which community colleges can offer nursing degrees.
The measure has support from community colleges. It is opposed by universities and some nursing colleges, according to witness slips.


Jerk Shop Go in Macomb shut down by McDonough County Health Department

(photo via


Following an inspection by the McDonough County Health Department, a restaurant on 602 North Lafayette has been shut down. The Jerk Shop Go, which is opperated by three Western Illinois students, failed its second inspection on April 24. In the inspection, nine food-bourne illness factors were found. 


The restaurant, which is located at the site of a former empty parking lot with a vacant shack, opened in November. It is located across from West Pierce Liquors. It failed an inspection on November 9, before failing this one. This was a category two failure, meaning the facility represents a medium risk for causing foodborne illness.


The MCHD said in its report that it's unlawful to operate a food handling establishment at that location without prior written approval of the health department. 


Jerk Shop Go was one of several McDonough County establishments that failed recent inspections. However, this was the only facility to be closed as a result. 


Jeffries resigns as IDVA director in midst of Quincy Vets Home crisis

With no immediate solution in sight and continued outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, the head of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs is stepping down. This comes as the entire Rauner Administration has faced criticism for the handling of the deadly situation at the Quincy Veterans Home. 


Erica Jeffries, who has led the IDVA since 2015, has resigned. Governor Bruce Rauner's office said Friday that Jeffries is leaving her post, “accepting an offer in the private sector.”


While the Rauner Administration praised Jeffries' work during her time at that position, others have different opinions. One of those people is U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who released a statement on the matter Sunday. 


“When gross mismanagement leads to fatal consequences, there must be accountability," Duckworth said. "However, it would be foolish to believe that the crisis in Quincy was caused by a single individual in the Rauner Administration. This comprehensive failure reflects an administration that appears more concerned with the quality of press coverage than quality of care in Quincy." 
Duckworth went on to add that a recently passed bipartisan funding bill has enabled Rauner, and other governors, to utilize more funds on State Veterans home consutruction projects. 
"Congress recently passed a bipartisan funding bill that infuses hundreds of millions of dollars in extra funding for State Veterans home construction projects," Duckworth said. "Governor Rauner must now do his part and be held accountable for acting swiftly to put these funds to good use on behalf of Illinois’s Veterans.”
The Legionnaires' outbreak first appeared at the Quincy Veterans Home in 2015, shortly after Jeffries took over. It has claimed the lives of 13 residents, and has left many others ill, since. 


Kenny Boyd announces resignation as MDH President/CEO

Kenny Boyd, President/CEO of McDonough District Hospital, has announced his resignation effective this summer. Boyd made the announcement Friday afternoon (April 27) at a special meeting of the MDH Board of Directors. 


An interim President/CEO will be announced in the near future, according to MDH Board of Directors Chairman Dr. Rick Iverson. 


Boyd, who joined MDH in July 2011 in his current role as President and Chief Executive Officer. stated that he was offered and accepted a Senior Executive level job at a healthcare facility in Tennessee, a location closer to his family.

“The past seven years at MDH have been an exciting time in my career," said Boyd in a release.  "I have been blessed in working with a fantastic Board, Medical Staff and employee team who are truly focused on providing great care to our patients and continuously working to improve our organization. This team has worked to continue to make MDH successful in this time of unprecedented change in our industry as well as the unique challenges we face with the state’s economic instability,” said Boyd. “None of these issues or challenges has ever taken our teams focus off of what’s most important and that is patient care. They have proven this by their recognition as a Top 100 Small and Rural Community Hospital, back-to-back ‘A’ grades from the Leapfrog group for patient safety and a Most Wired Recognition for the utilization of Information Technology in patient care. These recognitions just scratch the surface of recognizing the great work they do every day."
Iverson will now lead a search for Boyd's replacement. 
“On behalf of the MDH Board of Directors, I want to thank Kenny for his years of service. He did an excellent job leading our hospital through some difficult budgetary times. We appreciate all he did to make MDH a better place to work at while serving the patients in our area. We wish Kenny and his family all the best in their future endeavors,” said Dr. Iverson.



Madigan resolution supports progressive income tax, but silent on rates

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and several dozen other Democrats in the House are putting their names behind a non-binding resolution urging support for a progressive income tax.
Taxpayers in the Land of Lincoln pay a flat income tax, regardless of how much they earn. Democrats at the statehouse have for years talked about changing that to a progressive, or graduated system, where residents who make more money pay a higher percent to the state’s coffers. 
After being re-elected chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois earlier this week, Madigan said the discussion on a progressive tax will translate into how people vote in November.
“I think it will be very helpful to the people of Illinois and the voters of Illinois in terms of their electoral decision on the method of taxation,” Madigan said.
Madigan said he favors a progressive income tax.
“Taxation can be fair or it can be not fair, one or the other,” Madigan said. “And I think the discussion on the progressive tax is designed to make the taxation system more fair.”
J.B. Pritzker, Democratic candidate for governor, has been pushing for a progressive income tax during his campaign.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s political campaign put out a statement after Madigan’s non-binding resolution, criticizing the progressive tax discussion that lacks any inclusion of what rates could be under the Democrats' plan.
“The Pritzker-Madigan ticket still doesn't want to say how high taxes will go,” Rauner’s campaign statement said. “Pritzker has repeatedly dodged on specifics and Madigan responded with a firm ‘NO’ when asked if he had any rates in mind. How can Illinois families trust Pritzker and Madigan when they have provided no details for their plans?"
Rauner has repeatedly said a progressive income tax would be a disaster for Illinois.
State Rep. Robert Martwick’s House Bill 3522 proposed changing the tax rates to: 4 percent for income up to $7,500, 5.84 percent for income up to $15,000, 6.27 percent for income up to $225,000 and 7.65 percent for income over $225,000. That measure was tabled.
Illinois' current flat tax rate is 4.95 percent, after being increased from 3.75 percent last summer. Under Martwick's plan, anyone earning over $15,000 a year would see a tax increase.
“When I filed my bill, my bill was not filed as a ‘here’s the solution to our problems,’ it was ‘here’s an option,' ” Martwick, D-Chicago, said. “You can’t solve the financial problems that we have ... unless you’re willing to raise the revenue to address those.”
Martwick said the numbers he had the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability crunch for his plan would increase revenue for the state by $5.5 billion a year.
Republicans have long said Illinois doesn’t need more revenue through tax increases, it needs more revenue through economic growth. They also want the state to control spending.
Earlier this month, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Wester Springs, said with Illinois second-highest-in-the-nation property taxes and high overall tax burden, Illinois’ constitutionally mandated flat income tax is one of the state’s few saving graces.
Durkin said changing the flat tax to a tiered tax structure will hit small businesses and job creators hard.
“We cannot give taxpayers in the business community even more reasons to leave and that is exactly what the progressive tax would do to illinois,” Durkin said.
The text of Madigan's resolution claims the opposite is true.
"A progressive income tax will stimulate small business growth; a smaller tax burden will be placed upon small businesses, thereby giving them the additional resources needed to reinvest in their businesses and ultimately increase their net income, providing further stimulus for small business formation and growth," the resolutions says.
All but one House Republican signed on to House Resolution 975 opposing a progressive tax ballot question, effectively killing the measure.
State Rep. Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville, said with all the talk of a progressive income tax from Democrats, the only solid proposal was alarming.
“So their proposal is to raise the rates and then offer deductions,” Wehrli said. “We all know that that’s a tax hike on all of us.”
Constitutional amendment ballot questions that don’t have rate structures attached have been filed in both chambers, but they’re not expected to go anywhere.
Madigan's proposal is House Resolution 1025


Measure to allow state treasurer to use investment money to pay Illinois bill backlog advances to House

A new report from the state's comptroller shows Illinois has been hit with $1.1 billion in late payment interest penalties since 2015. That's $100 million more in penalties than the previous 18 years.
The April report from Comptroller Susana Mendoza blames Gov. Bruce Rauner for the ballooning penalties. Mendoza, a Democrat, has been a vocal critic of the Republican governor. The report shows that between fiscal years 1998 and 2015, late payment interest penalties owed to vendors providing services to the state totaled $1.0396 billion. In the past two-and-a-half-years, Illinois accrued $1.1396 billion in late payment interest penalties, according to the report.
The report comes as one state senator is working to get support for a bill she says will fix the bill backlog problem by using investment funds held by the state treasurer for taxpayers, units of government, and those saving for college.
Under state law, taxpayers are on the hook for up to 12 percent interest a year on bills 90 days past due. The state’s Vendor Assistance Program allows qualified purchasers to buy delinquent bills and profit from the interest penalties.
State Sen. Heather Steans’ Senate Bill 2858 would allow the state treasurer to use investment dollars to buy the debt at 3 percent, rather than 12 percent. She said it would save money.
“I think it’s a great alternative to reduce the cost to taxpayers on that interest that we’re paying in a way that makes a lot of sense,” Steans, D-Chicago, said.
Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs reported about $25 billion in the state’s investment portfolio in 2017.
State Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, said Stean's bill isn’t the answer. Tracy said it’s time to go back to square one and rework the Prompt Payment Act that tacks on interest of up to 1 percent a month. 
“We have created a monster here and that is the most simple way to rein in these exorbitant, high interest rates,” Tracy said.
Steans said reforming the Prompt Payment Act too quickly could lead vendors to stop providing services for group health insurance for state employees, a program that has a large backlog of unpaid bills.
State Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, laid out his understanding of the measure.
“Instead of [the state treasurer] investing [state funds] at 1 percent [returned] interest, we’d borrow it from ourselves, more or less, and use it to pay down our bills and we keep that 12 percent interest instead of paying that 12 percent interest to the retired politicians,” Oberweis said.
One of the qualified purchasers, Illinois Financing Partners, has former Gov. Jim Edgar on its board. IFP has nearly a billion dollars of group health debt, with hundreds of millions in interest it’s still owed.
State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, said while he didn’t support last summer's income tax increase, the state should instead use that new revenue to pay its bills on time.
“We have more revenue than we’ve had ever,” McCarter said. “It’s time to use it to pay our bills and catch up.”
Steans’ measure passed Wednesday. She said the measure will be amended in the House before it passes back to the Senate for concurrence.


Agenda for April 30 Macomb City Council Meeting

The agenda has been released for the upcoming Macomb City Council meeting. It will be held Monday, April 30th at 5:!5 p.m. in Macomb City Hall. 


MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2018
5:15 P.M.
State of the City address by Mayor Inman.
Other business.
Executive Session
To consider information relative to:
a) Appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of an employee of the public body or legal counsel for the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(1) of the Open Meetings Act.
b)Collective Bargaining matters between the public body and it’s employees or representatives, or deliberations concerning salary schedules for one or more classes of employees, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(2) of the Open Meetings Act.
c) The purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(5) of the Open Meetings Act.
d)The setting of a price for sale or lease of property owned by the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(6) of the Open Meetings Act.
e) Pending or probable litigation, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(11) of the Open Meetings Act.


Annual Community Prayer Breakfast to be held May 3

The Interfaith Alliance of Macomb is holding the Annual Community Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, May 3. The event will be held at Spoon River College Community Outreach Center (2500 E. Jackson Street, Macomb). 


The Community Prayer Breakfast, which falls on the National Day of Prayer, begins at 7:00 a.m. that day, with food served at 7:30 a.m. Macomb Mayor Mike Inman will be on hand to lead the event, with Dr. J.Q. Adams of Western Illinois University serving as the keynote speaker. Music will be conducted by Sandra Mosley. 


To learn more about this event, listen to my interview with Deacon Adams of St. Paul Catholic Church and Jessica Rodgers of WIU.