Tuesday, January 31, 2017

CAT to Move Global HQ to Chicago

Caterpillar Inc. has scrapped plans to build a new office complex in Downtown Peoria and will move its global headquarters to the Chicago area by the end of the year. PJStar.cm reports the upper echelon of executives, including newly installed CEO Jim Umpleby, will begin relocating later this year, with up to 100 employees total moving by year's end. About 300 employees will work in the new office at an as-yet undecided location once the transition is complete.

Gray Charged with Attempted Murder

It's three million dollars bond for the man accused of stabbing two people in Bloomington over the weekend. McLean County prosecutors filed attempted murder charges yesterday against Levi Gray. Bloomington Police say he stabbed a woman seven or eight times and caused her to break her neck. Officer say Gray stabbed a man so severely it opened-up his chest. Gray is still in McLean County jail. Both victims are still in the hospital. Investigators aren't offering a possible motive for the stabbings.

Navy SEAL Killed In Action is from Illinois

Condolences and remembrances are pouring in for a Peoria sailor killed in action in the war on terror. The Pentagon confirmed yesterday that Peoria native and Illinois Valley Central graduate William "Ryan" Owens died during a raid in Yemen over the weekend. Friends say Owens always wanted to be a Navy Seal. The Pentagon says Owens died and three others were wounded in the raid. Funeral arrangements are still pending.

Rauner Requests Pay for State Workers

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is asking the woman who pays the state's bills to fight an effort to stop state worker paychecks. The governor sent a letter to Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza yesterday, asking her to continue paying state workers despite a court motion from the state's Attorney General. Mendoza says the governor should propose a budget rather than ask her to fight it out in court. Unless there is a budget, state workers will see their last paycheck at the end of February.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Governor Rauner Mum On Trump Order

Illinois' governor is trying to walk a delicate line on President Trump's immigration order.  Governor Rauner's office released a statement yesterday explaining that the governor supports full vetting of Syrian refugees, but not a blanket ban on people from the Middle East.  Governor Rauner has said in the past he wants to make sure people coming to this country from Syria won't pose a danger.

Durbin Critical of Trump's Travel Ban

Senator Dick Durban says there are some things wrong with President Trump's executive order on a travel ban from certain Muslim-majority countries. Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Durban said he's happy a judge in Brooklyn has tried to stop the orders.  The Illinois Democrat said there have been no examples of a Syrian refugee engaged in terrorism in the United States, and its favoring of Christians over other religious faiths.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Springfield Still Mulling Tax Hikes

Time is growing shorter and Springfield's mayor and aldermen are not in agreement yet on whether tax hikes are needed to close a budget shortfall.  Mayor Jim Langfelder told a breakfast crowd this morning that further cuts in expenses would have to come from personnel and city services.  He's proposing four tax increases, but several aldermen say they'll propose other ideas for spending cuts and new revenue at their February seventh meeting.  The new budget year begins March first.

Rauner Calls Madigan's Budget Move "Political"

Governor Bruce Rauner is blasting the legal move by Attorney General Lisa Madigan to block state workers' pay over the lack of a budget.  Rauner said Madigan had political motives for asking a judge to lift an order that guarantees workers pay even though there's no budget.  Madigan admits she's trying to ramp up pressure on lawmakers, but Rauner says he'll use all legal means to make sure that state workers continue to get paid while budget negotiations continue.

Attorney Says Torture Video Suspects Misjudged

The Cook County public defender is asking the public not to be quick to judge the four young black people indicted for attacking and torturing a mentally disabled white man on a live Facebook video.  Amy Campanelli spoke after prosecutors announced grand jury indictments of the two young men and two women for the New Year's Eve attack.  Campanelli says the crime has been sensationalized and the four have been denounced before anything has been proven.  A judge banned cameras from the court and ordered courtroom artists not to draw the defendants' faces.

Friday, January 27, 2017

A.G. Madigan Moves to Stop Paychecks to State Workers

Illinois' Attorney General is moving to stop paychecks for thousands of state employees. Lisa Madiagn last night filed a motion to stop paychecks at the end of February. Unless there's a state budget. Madigan says Illinois lawmakers have to give the state's comptroller legal authority to spend the money. She says that authority lapsed when the new legislature took office. Republicans say Madigan's timing is suspect.

Senate Leaders Stall Budget Vote

Leaders in the Illinois Senate want to start voting on their budget compromise the week after next. Senators are due back at the Capitol February 7th, and that's when Senate President John Cullerton says they'll vote on the so-called 'grand bargain.' Senators left town yesterday without even attempting a vote on the tax increases included in the plan.

No Mass Layoffs Plans at CAT

The mass layoffs at Cat look to be a thing of the past. Caterpillar's Amy Campbell yesterday said the company isn't "planning for any more broad-based headcount reductions." Cat cut about 16-thousand jobs over the past 15-months to 'right size' its workforce. Cat isn't saying, however, what will happen with its plant in Aurora and its possible move to Decatur.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Governor Rauner Pushes Hope During State Of The State

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is focusing on the positives. However few there are. The governor yesterday implored lawmakers during his State of the State speech to work together on a balanced budget and to right-size government. But Rauner didn't get into specifics as how to pay-off the state's eleven-billion dollars in unpaid bills or finally come to terms on a state budget.

Lawmaker Reaction Mixed To State Of The State

What Illinois lawmakers think of Governor Rauner's State of the State speech depends on who you ask. And what party they're from. Republicans at the statehouse say the tone of yesterday's speech is a welcome change, and they hope to find common ground. But Democrats say the speech is the same old thing they've heard for three years. Democrats say they want to see the governor take-up their ideas for a state budget.

McLean County Murder Suspect Mentally Unstable, To Plead Guilty

A McLean County man could be headed to a state hospital for murdering his parents last summer. Prosecutors yesterday asked a judge to set a hearing next month where they and Brian Petersen's lawyers will agree he killed his parents but was insane at the time. The judge will decide if Petersen will be sent to a state hospital or sent to prison.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fatal Crash in Normal

80-year-old Wayne L. Miller of El Paso man was killed Tuesday morning in a crash involving a pickup truck, a minivan and a semitrailer truck at the intersection of Veterans Parkway and Fort Jesse Road in Normal. The crash remains under investigation.

Mitsubishi Donates $50 to McLean Co. Museum of History

The McLean County Museum of History gets a boost. The Mitsubishi Motors Foundation presented a 50-thousand dollar check to the non-profit. The money will help fund a new exhibit about the diverse workforce in McLean County. It will also help provide free educational programs to student and seniors in Central Illinois

State Budget Update: Critics Say "Grand Bargain" Is Not So Grand

There are too many taxes and not enough reforms. That's the line from lawmakers and business groups who are fighting the 'grand bargain' aimed at getting Illinois a budget. Momentum for the package slowed to a crawl yesterday when the latest update bumped the income tax increase to four-point-nine-nine percent and added a business tax for the 'privilege of doing business in the state.' Top Senators hope to be able to salvage something from the deal.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

BPD Gets West Side Location

Bloomington Police are getting a new spot on the west side to take breaks and interact with neighbors. But the city isn't calling it a police substation. Bloomington's city council unanimously approved a lease for the house on Jefferson Street last night. About 125 people crowded the council chamber to oppose the move. They worry about an 'intrusive' police presence. BPD leaders say the house is just part of a neighborhood policing strategy.

Zimmerman Trial Update

Two local media outlets are asking an appeals court to overrule a McLean County judge who wants to keep parts of Kirk Zimmerman's murder trial secret. They filed their appeal yesterday. The want a court to order the local judge to unseal documents in Zimmerman's murder trial. The judge sealed the files because he says the information could harm Zimmerman's reputation.

State Budget Update

Illinois' top Senators are insisting the 'grand bargain' will lead to a balanced budget. Though there are more and more at the statehouse who disagree. Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno [[ruh-DOUGHN-yo]] told the editorial board at "The State Journal Register" yesterday that the deal will lead to a balanced budget. The two are trying to fight reviews that say the combination of tax increases and limited reforms is over two-billion dollars out of balance.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Town of Normal Wants Advice On Comment Policy

Leaders in the town of Normal are talking about a new plan to let people say more at their meetings. Normal's town council is asking for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office to weigh-in on the town's policy of allowing people to speak once every 45-days. Mayor Chris Koos says the limit allows for quicker meetings. But some council members say it might be time to allow people to address their government more often.

Illinois Lawmakers Return To Springfield This Week

Illinois lawmakers will get an earful about the state that Illinois is in this week. But what they'll do to try and change it is still up in the air. Lawmakers return to the Capitol tomorrow for the first time since a perfunctory day after they took the oath of office earlier this month. Governor Rauner is set to deliver his State of the State speech Wednesday.

Illinois Senate Wants To Vote On Grand Bargain This Week

Get ready to hear about taxes and pensions and debt. Leaders in the Illinois Senate hope to vote on the first of 14 pieces of legislation that make-up the so-called 'grand bargain' this week. The idea is to raise the income tax and borrow money to pay off Illinois' mountain of unpaid bills, then try and find pension and workers' comp reforms. But Republicans in the Senate are starting to question whether the bargain is really good deal for taxpayers.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Judge Recuses Self in Schock Trial

Aaron Schock is getting a new judge in his corruption case. Judge Sue Myerscough rescued herself yesterday. Myserscough says she thinks she can preside over the former Congressman's trial, but says she understands why some people may question her bias. A federal judge in Peoria will assign a new judge to hear Schock's case when it begins in July.

IL Lawmakers:Sell The Thompson Building?

Illinois lawmakers in Springfield are once again floating the idea of selling the state's headquarters in Chicago. Republican Senate Leader Christine Radogno [[ruh-DOUGHN-yo]] and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin yesterday suggested the state sell the Thompson Center. The leaders say the building is worth about 200-million dollars, and selling it would spare the state from 320-million in maintenance. Governor Rauner suggested selling the building two years ago.

Hastert Wants His Money Back

Dennis Hastert wants his hush money back. The former Congressional leader filed a suit yesterday to have the man Hastert paid to be quiet about sexual abuse in the 1970's return almost two-million dollars. Hastert's lawyers say the man broke the agreement by talking to federal investigators about the abuse. The victim's lawyer says Hastert's suit is 'predictable.'

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Illinois' A.G. Suing the Nation's Largest Student Loan Company

Illinois' Attorney General is suing the nation's largest student loan company for putting students into debt the company knew they couldn't repay. Lisa Madigan's office filed the suit yesterday against Navient, which used to be part of Sallie May. Madigan is alleging deceptive practices. Navient says the lawsuit is politically motivated.

State Budget Update

Even with an income tax increase and a tax on sugary drinks, Illinois' proposed 'grand bargain' spends far more than it brings in. Governor Rauner's budget office and House Republicans yesterday both said the package of taxes and potential reforms could add almost two-and-a-half-billion dollars to the state's deficit. The plan in the Illinois Senate is seen as the starting point for a new state budget. But the new analysis may mean lawmakers are back to square one.

Unit 5 Still Waiting on Funds

Unit 5 schools say they're still waiting for school bus and special ed money. District leaders last night said the six-million dollars they're owed for state mandated work is putting real pressure on their budget. Some schools have been told they're not going to get the money The State Board of Education says the timing of checks is up to Illinois' comptroller.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

VenuWorks: Coliseum Will Likely Never Make Money

Managers at Bloomington's coliseum say the building likely never make money. The coliseum's new management team went before the city council last night to explain a 674-thousand dollar loss last year. City Manager David Hales says he hopes to break even in about two years. But VenueWorks officials say that may be tough as well. Last year's loss is just the latest six-figure loss for Bloomington since the coliseum opened about a decade ago.

Schock Trial Moved to July

Aaron Schock is looking at a trial after the fourth of July. A judge in Springfield yesterday set a July 11th trial date. Schock wanted to push his case to the summer, he said to prep about a hundred witnesses. Federal prosecutors say Schock stole from taxpayers when he lied on campaign expense reports and government reimbursement forms. Schock is facing fraud and theft charges.

Rauner to Miss Inauguration

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner doesn't think his absence at Donald Trump's inauguration will cost the state. Rauner yesterday said he doesn't think his decision to skip the inaugural to work on Illinois' budget crisis will have a negative impact. The governor says he thinks the new president understand the situation Illinois is in, and can respect his decision to stay home.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mayoral Debate Highlights

Bloomington's four candidates for mayor have four different views of taxing. The question of 'Will you raise taxes' became the central theme of last night's debate. Mayor Renner said maybe. Ian Bayne again said he wants to slash taxes, but didn't offer any specifics about how the city could cut spending. Kevin Lower and Robert Fike told the crowd the biggest problem is how Bloomington spends money. Both men say they'll hold the line on city spending. Alderman Diana Hauman didn't make the event.

Bloomington City Leaders: Tax Increases Worked

City leaders in Bloomington say their tax increases worked City council members are expected to get a briefing tonight on Bloomington's police and fire pensions. The city's finance director says a 2014 utility tax increase is on track to fully fund retirements for cops and firefighters by the state's deadline in 2041. Illinois law requires all local pensions have 90-percent of the money they need by then. Bloomington will pay about 12-million dollars for pensions next year alone.

Lawmakers Working on School Funding

Lawmakers working on a new plan to change how the state pays for schools say they could be the key to a new state budget. Governor Rauner's education funding task force is due to have a new plan by the end of the month. Last week, State Senator Andy Manar [[muh-NAAR]] said the changes in how Illinois pays for schools could open the path to a new state budget. But he says there's still more work to do.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sugary Drink Tax Push-Back Growing

Critics say a 12-pack of soda could soon cost as much as a 12-pack of cheap beer in Illinois.  They blame a proposed sugary drink tax.  Lawmakers are thinking about the penny-per-ounce tax as a way to get Illinois out of its fiscal dungeon.  But groups, including the Illinois Retail Merchants, say the tax is regressive and won't make anyone healthier.

Gas Prices Down Slightly In Illinois

Illinois gas prices are down slightly.  Triple-A reports the average price for a gallon of regular gas is around two-dollars-43-cents.  That is nearly six-cents less than a week ago.

AFSCME Moves Toward Strike Vote

Illinois' largest public sector union is readying its members for their biggest decision at the end of the month. AFSCME late last week set a strike authorization vote for the end of January. The union cannot come to terms with Governor Rauner on a new contract. If state workers vote to strike, it'd be the first time state employees ever walked off the job in Illinois.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Shhhh! Smashburger Quietly Closes

Smashburger, a fast-casual burger and sandwich restaurant, has abruptly closed its Twin City location with nothing but a note left on the door saying they were gone. The Bloomington location is no longer listed on the company website. Th
e restaurant opened in 2012 in Lakewood Plaza.

VenuWorks: Coliseum Operating Loss of $674,000

VenuWorks is reporting a $674,000 operating loss for the brief time it has managed U.S. Cellular Coliseum, but expects to end the fiscal year April 30 only $585,000 in the red. A great portion of the loss so far was attributed to startup costs and a lull in bookings. Coliseum Executive Director Lynn Cannon will present a financial update on the Coliseum during the City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Winter Weather Advisory





Friday, January 13, 2017

Coliseum Looking for Corporate Partner

The Bloomington Coliseum could soon see major changes. The facility is looking for a corporate partner to buy its naming rights. The Coliseum's contract with US Cellular has expired. The city-owned property is promoting a 5 to 10 year deal, with an annual cost around $2-hundred thousand dollars.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

PODCAST: 2017 Mayoral Debate on Cities 92.9 and WEEK TV

Bloomington Mayoral Debate 2017 presented by Cities 92.9, WEEK TV and HOI 19 TV with candidates Tari Renner, Kevin Lauer and Ian Bayne

New Parking Rules for Downtown Bloomington to Start This Weekend

If you're heading to downtown Bloomington this weekend you're going to notice some changes. From 10 p.m. til 3 a.m. police are closing the 500 block of north main, where most of the bars north of the square are, to most cars. Only cabs and Uber drivers will be allowed on the road. Only shuttles will be allowed one block over in the 500 block of Center street. BPD say it's a move to make downtown safer.

Streator Death Investigation

A man is due in court today in the death of a rural Streator woman.  Authorities found Damaris Lopez Pacheco dead and her eleven-year-old son hurt Tuesday inside her home.  Carl Lenard was arrested about an hour later following a police chase.  The incident is under investigation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

School Lead Testing Bill

Illinois is set to enact a law that will require state elementary schools and day care centers to test for lead in the drinking water.  The measure was approved by the Illinois Senate yesterday.  The bill now heads to Governor Rauner, who's expected to sign it into law.

Schock Trial Update

Prosecutors in the Aaron Schock campaign corruption case want to be notified every time he spends any of the money remaining in his campaign coffers.  Schock is accused of raiding that fund and other government funds to pay for a high-profile lifestyle, but his attorneys say it's inappropriate to let prosecutors track his expenses.  Prosecutors are now asking a judge to rule on the request at an upcoming hearing.

Sloppy Weather Ahead