Wednesday, May 31, 2017

US Cellular Sign on Coliseum is Coming Down

U.S. Cellular Coliseum signs are being removed from the city-owned sports and entertainment arena in downtown Bloomington at the request of the company. A VenuWorks spokeswoman says they decided it was the right time.

State Budget Update

You should expect a vote on a state budget by the end of the day, but don't expect an agreement. Democrats in an Illinois House panel yesterday approved the Senate Democratic budget that would raise five-and-a-half billion-dollars in taxes. Governor Rauner in promising to veto the plan because it doesn't contain a property tax freeze. If lawmakers approve the plan and leave the Illinois Capitol, the state could very well go another year without a state budget.

Rauner: No 4-Year Property Tax Freeze-No Signature

Governor Bruce Rauner says he won't sign a state budget without a four year property tax freeze in Illinois. Yesterday Democrats in the Illinois Senate gave the governor a two year, conditional property tax freeze to see if he'll change his mind. The governor's office says the two year freeze is 'phony.' Democratic Senate President John Cullerton says the plan that exempts Chicago and offers other cities loopholes is a 'place to start.'

IL Minimum Wage Hike Bill: $15/hr

Folks making the lowest wages in Illinois could soon be in line for a big raise. Democrats in the Illinois House yesterday approved a plan to hike Illinois' minimum wage from eight dollars 25 cents-an-hour to 15 dollars-an-hour over the next five years. Democrats say the plan will help millions of low wage workers. Republicans and business groups say a 15 dollar-an-hour minimum wage will cost many of those low wage workers their jobs.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Area Chipotle Mexican Grills Hit by Cyber Attack

Check your bank or credit card account. Three Chipotle Mexican Grills in Bloomington-Normal were among the chain’s restaurants hit by a cyber-security attack which sought customers’ information stored on their credit cards. The affected restaurants include a Chipotle in Bloomington at 305 N. Veterans Parkway, 701 S. Main Street and 1601 E. College Ave., both in Normal. The breaches happened between March 24 and April 18, but the company said not all Chipotle’s were involved

Mother of Sgt Rodgers Pays Tribute to Son

The mother of U.S. Army Ranger Josh Rodgers, who died during an operation in Afghanistan last month, remembered her son Monday. She was joined by another Gold Star parent at Chicago's Grant Park to lay wreath at the monument for Civil War Major General John A. Logan. Major General Logan founded Decoration Day, which is now known as Memorial day.

Illinois Lawmakers May Not Make Tomorrow's Budget Deadline

It's looking less and less likely that Illinois lawmakers will have a budget by the end of the day. Democrats in the Illinois House say they can't find enough votes for the five-and-a-half billion dollars in tax increases that are at the heart of the Senate budget.

Illinois House Approves Automatic Voter Registration

The next time you update your driver's license, you could also be updating your voter information. The Illinois House approved an automatic voter registration plan yesterday.  The Legislature approved a similar plan last year, but the governor didn't sign it out of voter fraud fears.  Supporters say they've fixed the problems that worried Governor Rauner.

Monday, May 29, 2017

U Of I Board To Discuss Free Speech On Campus At Retreat

University of Illinois officials will be discussing free speech on campus during a retreat later this summer.  The "News Gazette" reports the topic is on the agenda for the university's Board of Trustees' annual retreat in July.  Free speech has become a focus at Illinois after UI's Carl Woese Institute for Genomic Biology dropped plans for a talk by Nobel Laureate James Watson.  The move was made after some faculty objected to comments Watson made regarding race and intelligence.

Illinois House Looking At Senate Budget Plan

Mike Madigan and his Democrats may not offer a budget proposal this year.  House Democrats over the weekend, instead, started examining the budget from Democrats in the Illinois Senate.  That plan raises taxes by five billion-dollars, but doesn't deal with Illinois' nearly 14 billion-dollars in unpaid bills.  Lawmakers are supposed to have a budget agreement by Wednesday.

New Accuser Suing Hastert Over Past Sexual Abuse

Another former student is accusing former House Speaker Denny Hastert of sexual abuse. The unidentified man filed his lawsuit last week. He claims Hastert sexually assaulted him in the early 1970s, when the accuser was just a boy. Hastert is finishing his sentence for a financial crime related to hush money he was paying a different former student in order to keep that man quiet about sexual abuse. The new lawsuit also names Yorkville schools as being negligent in allowing Hastert access to young boys.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Victim Was Stabbed 105 Times

105 times the victim was stabbed at a hotel room in Bloomington as she died. That evidence was presented at the bond hearing for defendant Kyle Brestan of Bloomington Friday who is accused of killing 27-year old Shanon Hastings of Peoria. Brestan is charged with murder and is being held on McLean County on $500.000 bail.

Friday, May 26, 2017

BPD: Man in Custody for Stabbing Death at a West Side Hotel

Bloomington Police say they have a suspect in custody for what they're now calling a murder at a west side hotel. Officers yesterday arrested Kyle Brestan for the murder of Shannon Hastings. Police originally called her death 'suspicious' but n
ow say she was stabbed to death.

Chicago's Population Shrinks for Third Straight Year

The moving trucks continue to leave Chicago. The latest census report released yesterday shows Chicago shrank for the third straight year. The report says just over eight thousand people left the city. Chicago was the only top 20 city in America to once again lose people.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

VIDEO: Tiritilli Will Not Seek Recount in Normal Mayor's Race

In a press conference heard live on Cities 92.9 Tuesday, Mayoral challenge Marc Tiritilli announced he will no longer seek a full recount. Tiritilli cited money, the affect it would on the community and the numeric likelihood that 12 more voted could be captured appeared to be getting small.

Watch the Facebook Live recording of the entire press conference here:

BHS to Get $8M in Upgrades

Over the next year, Bloomington High School will see $8 million in facility upgrades. The District 87 School Board unanimously approved a bond sale last night that will cover infrastructure improvements like a new HVAC system. An artifcial turf will be installed on the football field, turning it into a multi-use field. Soccer games and P.E. classes will be able to use it, without fear of wear and tear. The bonds will also pay for renovations to the fine arts classrooms. Choir and orchestra classes will move into larger, renovated spaces. An addition will also be built to the high school, in order to house its growing band program

Now, The House Looks at the State Budget

Lawmakers in the Illinois House say they're looking at the plan to raise nearly five-and-a-half billion-dollars in taxes. But no one is saying when, or if a vote may come. Democrats in the House yesterday said they're reviewing the plan that passed the Senate on Tuesday. Lawmakers are supposed to have a budget in less than a week

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Man Who Shot Himself on I-74 Identified

One man is dead after a police chase on interstate 74. Police say Paul Smith of Brimfield had been involved in a domestic situation in the Peoria area. He was wanted on at least 5 charges. Smith was said to be in possession of a gun and had taken off on I-74 toward Bloomington. A police officer from Deer Creek heard a description of the suspect's vehicle and saw him on the interstate. The chase ended between Carlock and the exit for Mitsubishi Motorway. Smith shot and killed himself after stopping.

Senate Dems Ram $5B in New Taxes Through

Republicans in the Illinois Senate say they don't want anything to do with five billion-dollars in new taxes. Democrats in the state's upper chamber approved the tax hikes yesterday. Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said the tax increases do nothing to help families in the state, particularly when it comes to Illinois' property taxes. Democrats say the tax increases will 'stabilize' the state.

Rauner: Proterty Tax Freeze is a Must

Governor Rauner's list of budget 'must haves' is down to one: A property tax freeze.  The governor took to Facebook yesterday to insist on "long term" property tax relief "with local control."  He doubled-down on the message after Senate Democrats approved five billion-dollars in tax increases.  Rauner says he won't sign a budget that doesn't include property tax relief.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

No Bloomington Traffic Commission...Yet

Bloomington isn't getting a transportation commission just yet. City leaders last night couldn't agree to a plan to add a layer of bureaucracy to decisions about stops signs and speed limits. Alderman Diana Hauman said she's heard a number of complaints about the plan. Mayor Renner says the commission will follow the recommendations of professional staff. The idea is to let people tell commissioners about their roads, stop signs, and speed limit questions.

BPD Investigating a Suspicious Death

Bloomington Police won't say why they think a Peoria woman's death in a Bloomington hotel is 'suspicious.' Investigators say they're waiting for toxicology results in Shannon Hastings' death. Officers found her in a west side hotel on Sunday.

Trump Offers Condolences to Victims in Concert Blast; Calls Those Who Attack Innocents 'Evil Losers'

President Trump on Tuesday—standing beside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem—offered his condolences to the victims in Monday night’s terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert in the U.K., and went on to excoriate the attacker, calling those who attack the innocents “evil losers in life.”

Trump made the remarks during a brief media address with Abbas. He began his remarks by saying the U.S. stands in solidarity with the people of the U.K., but then he took aim at the attacker.

“So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life,” Trump said. “I won’t call them (attackers) monsters, because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers, because that’s what they are, they’re losers.”

The White House said Trump was being kept updated on the attacks in Manchester, England, by his national security team.

Monday, May 22, 2017

State Budget Update

The Grand Bargain is at a stand still in Springfield.  Illinois' budget is made up of an outline for spending $36.5 billion; legislation with legal language to implement it; and the key component, an income tax increase and expansion of the state sales tax. When Senate Democrats put it up for a vote on Wednesday, it was approved 31-21 — with no Republican votes. And Democratic votes fell off when implementation language went up, falling short by three votes, 27-24. That dissuaded Democrats from making a run at the tax increase.Only a few days remain in this session to get a budget passed. Illinois has gone two years without one.

Obama Holiday Headed To Governor's Desk

Barack Obama's birthday could become a holiday in Illinois, but you won't get the day off of work or school. The Illinois House on Friday approved a plan to make the president's birthday, August 4th, a commemorative  holiday. People get the day off only for official state holidays. The plan unanimously passed the House.

Urbana Police Looking For Attempted Child Snatcher

Police in Urbana are looking for the driver of a van they say tried to snatch a 12-year-old girl over the weekend. It happened Saturday night in a rural Urbana neighborhood. Police say the driver got out of a white work van and started chasing the little girl. Neighbors say they're terrified, but say they're keeping an eye out for the driver or his van.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Plan for Expanding Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority Taxing Power Gets Cold Shoulder

A plan to expand the taxing power of the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority is going nowhere fast with Senator Jason Barickman. Officials with the BNAA wants legislation allowing the authority to tax all of McLean County and to dramatically increase tax rates, but he will not, Barickman said in a letter.

State Budget Crunch Drags On

Illinois Senators only have two more weeks to wait. But Senate President John Cullerton yesterday said he's willing to hold-off on more budget votes to give lawmakers a chance to come to terms on the 'grand bargain.' Republicans and Democrats have been talking since January and still aren't on the same page. Lawmakers are supposed to have a state budget by the end of the month.

Edgar: State Needs to Raise Taxes. Go on Spending Diet

Former Republican Governor Jim Edgar says Illinois will have to raise taxes. The former governor told a crowd at the University of Illinois yesterday that Illinois is going to need new money to pay off its mountain of unpaid bills. Edgar said Illinois should also go on a spending 'diet,' but he didn't offer any suggestions on where to cut spending.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Report: Nude Photos of Former Area High School Students Found Posted on a Website

Nude photographs of former students from several area high schools appear to be circulating on a foreign-based website. WMAQ-TV in Chicago reports the photos were posted on Anon-IB, a website where people request nude photographs by posting a woman's name, high school and graduating class.The NBC station's investigation found images bearing the names of 67 Illinois high schools, including  Bloomington High School. The site also served as a repository for stolen nudes of celebrities and female Marines.

New Information in the Mellor Murder Case

It was a fight and a struggle that left the husband of a former Bloomington High School teacher dead. Court documents in Sarah Mellor's murder case paint a picture of a tragic fight the night her husband died. Investigators say Mellor felt threatened after she and her husband argued, they then fought, and he ended up being stabbed in the chest. Authorities say the two didn't have a history of domestic violence. Mellor pleaded guilty to second degree murder earlier this week.

Illinois' Budget Bargain is Falling Apart

Democrats in the Illinois Senate yesterday muscled through parts of what they hope will be a state budget, specifically a plan that'd spend four billion-dollars more than the state has. But Democrats didn't vote for spending cuts that Republicans want. Both sides are now blaming each other for the lack of a bargain.

Schock's Attorneys Ask for Continuance Until Next Year

Attorneys for former Rep. Aaron Schock are asking for his fraud trial to be delayed until next year. In a filing with the court, Schock's attorneys say, “a continuation of the trial date is appropriate in this case given its complexity … failure to grant a continuance would … deny Mr. Schock the reasonable time for effective preparation.” According to the defense, federal prosecutors do not oppose the motion. A scheduling conference is expected Friday. Schock is facing a 24-count federal indictment, accused of using his public office for personal profit.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Judge Rules Zimmerman Cannot Challenge Search Warrants in His Murder Trial

Judge Scott Drazewski ruled Wednesday that Kirk Zimmerman, the 58-year-old Bloomington man charged with killing his ex-wife Pam Zimmerman in November 2014, is not entitled to a hearing on his challenge to 15 search warrants issued in his murder case. The Pantagraph reports the decision came after arguments this week from the state and Zimmerman's defense attorney John Rodgers which stated if the search warrants were tainted because of improper affidavits, the evidence collected from those searches is also tainted. Judge Drazewski ruled sufficient cause existed for the warrants.

Changes Coming to Eastland Mall

Eastland Mall is looking to reinvent themselves. Bloomington City Manager David Hales is highly involved with the repositioning process, Hales tells WMBD TV that there will be retail, but they are looking to bring more entertainment and eating venues. The owner’s of the Eastland Mall, CBL and Associates Properties, say it's too early to inform the public about some of the entertainment prospects and stores it's recruiting, but Bloomington City Manager David Hales mentioned that negotiations have been aggressive.

Breakfast Restaurant to Take Over Wild Berries Location This Fall

A new breakfast eatery will take over the former Wild Berries location this fall. The Original Pancake House will occupy half of a two-tenant building in the 100 block of Veterans Parkway. Ground will be broken within a few weeks with an opening date expected in early November.

Train Derailment in Elkhart Pushes Some Amtrak Riders to Buses

Amtrak riders between Chicago and Springfield will have to take the bus for a few more days. Union Pacific officials yesterday said it could take a few days to clear the wreckage from a train derailment north of Springfield. Police say 18 cars from a freight train jumped the tracks near the tiny town of Elkhart Monday night. No one was hurt, but the wreck is disrupting both Amtrak and freight trains service between Chicago and St. Louis.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Normal Recount Update: Tiritilli Files FOIA Request for Voter Signatures

Marc Tiritilli has filed a Freedom of Information request for more than 4,000 voter sign-in cards in voter precincts not reviewed in a recent discovery recount. The gap between the two candidates was still 11 votes following the recount. Mayor Chris Koos says he will continue to request affidavits from voters to verify the election results are accurate. McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael said she the FOIA request will likely be granted after final verification of its legality.

Bloomington Police Review Boar a No-Go, for Now

The Bloomington City Council isn't sold on a citizen police review board just yet. Advocates crowded city hall last night to ask for a role in reviewing the city's police--alderman say they're not sure there's a problem with the status quo. Advocates say they want to have a seat at the table to avoid a tragedy down the road.

Mellor to Plead Guilty to 2nd Degree Murder Charges

Lawyers for a Bloomington teacher say she's pleading guilty to murder charges for the chance to avoid prison. Sarah Mellor yesterday agreed to plead guilty to second degree murder charges for stabbing her husband to death at a Woodford County campground last fall. Mellor's lawyer says they agreed to the plea when prosecutors offered to drop first degree murder charges in exchange for a second degree charge that could earn Mellor just four years of probation. She'll be sentenced in July.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Improvements Coming to Champion Fields

You will soon be able to grab some shade during the games at Champion Fields. The town of Normal will replace their bleachers and install new shade structures by the end of June, pending City Council approval. The project will total $266,000, which is below the budget of $350,000.

BPD Seek Leads in Weekend Shooting

Bloomington police are searching for leads in a weekend shooting in the 600 block of North Main Street that left one person wounded. The victim is a 34-year-old male recovering at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center from gunshot wounds to his legs.

Bloomington City Council to Hear Request for Police Review Board

Black Lives Matter Bloomington-Normal wants to see a police review board created comprised of members of the community  to look into  public complaints about Bloomington police officers. The idea has support from Not In Our Town, YWCA McLean County, NAACP Bloomington-Normal and the Central Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The Bloomington City Council plans to discuss issue tonight.

LaHood Confident Congress, FBI Can Handle Russia Probe

One central Illinois Republican congressman says there's no need for an outside probe. Congressman Darin LaHood late last week said he's confident Congress and the FBI can continue the investigation into Russia and the 2016 election. LaHood said the review of what happened didn't stop when President Trump fired James Comey last week. LaHood used to work for Comey when he was a prosecutor with the Justice Department.

Police: Man Hit By Train May Have Been Taking Selfie

Investigators believe a man who was hit by a train in Springfield over the weekend may have been trying to take a selfie.  Police say the victim was holding his phone up in the air when the incident happened Saturday near the Third Street tracks at Adams Street.  The man was critically injured.

Friday, May 12, 2017

BPD Seeks Info on Man Wanted in Beating Case

Bloomington police need your help finding a man who allegedly beat a woman. Ronald Johnson is facing charges of aggravated battery, hate crime, public indecency and disorderly conduct. He is wanted for the beating of a woman in downtown Bloomington on April 16th. Police believe Johnson may have relocated to Chicago. If you have any information about Johnson's whereabouts, you are asked to contact Bloomington Police

U of I to Spend $60-million to Lure Professors

The University of Illinois isn't letting the state's budget crunch get in its way.  The school yesterday announced a plan to spend 60-million dollars over the next three years to lure new professors to campus.  U of I President Tim Killeen said the school "must - and shall - remain a magnet for stellar academic talent."  The 20-million dollars a year is earmarked to recruit between ten and 15 professors each year.

Free Alcohol at First Fridays Subject of a Liquor Commission Hearing Set for June

First Fridays have been a tradition in Bloomington for more than a decade. Often, businesses will stay open late, hold deals, and sometimes offer a complimentary drink to customers. There are no recorded incidents related to the free alcohol. A local bar owner recently complained about the practice, causing the city to take a look at the policy. The Bloomington Liquor Commission will hold a  hearing on the issue in June.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Normal Mayor's Race Discovery Recount Completed

Marc Tiritilli isn't giving-up, yet, in the race for Normal Mayor. McLean County's clerk yesterday wrapped-up counting the ballots in the razor-thin race for mayor. Tiritilli may have lost a vote in the first recount. Though he says he's looking at asking for a full recount.

Storms Recap

Storms last night dumped rain on central Illinois, but some communities got more than that. The National Weather Service reported a touchdown of a small and brief tornado in Washburn around 7:00 last night