Tuesday, October 31, 2017

At Least 6 Dead After Suspect Crashes Truck in Lower Manhattan, Shouts 'Allahu Akbar'

At least six people are dead after a driver barreled into a bike path and crashed a rental pickup truck into a crowd in Lower Manhattan Tuesday afternoon, shouting "Allahu Akbar," law enforcement sources tell Fox News and The Associated Press. Another nine people were injured, authorities said. Police tweeted that one person -- who police shot twice -- has been taken into custody and is expected to survive. Police added that there are "no others outstanding." 

click here for updates: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/10/31/nypd-responding-to-reports-shots-fired-in-lower-manhattan.html

New Illinois Report Card Shows Tiny Improvement

Illinois students are doing slightly better at reading and math. The latest Illinois State Report Card is being released this morning. There's still a lot of room for improvement, 63-percent of kids in the state don't meet the standards in reading and math. That's a half point better than last year. Graduation rates are also up, but so is the state's chronic truancy rate.

No $15/hr Minimum Wage In Illinois

There won't be a 15 dollar-an-hour minimum wage in Illinois anytime soon. The woman who authored the latest 15 dollar-an-hour law, state Senator Kimberly Lightford, over the weekend said she doesn't have the votes to get the proposal through the Illinois Capitol. Advocates have been demanding a higher base-wage for years, but business groups say a 15 dollar-an-hour wage would kill job creation in the state.

Monday, October 30, 2017

New Restaurant Coming to Eastland Mall Parking Lot?

The owner of Eastland Mall has submitted a plan to The Bloomington Planning Commission for an unidentified new restaurant that would be located in the parking lot near the former Macy's store. The Pantagraph reports a hearing has been set for 4 p.m. Nov. 8 at City Hall to review and act on a petition submitted by CBL Properties out of Chattanooga, TN.

Jeanne Ives Announces Bid For Governor

Governor Rauner's reelection bid may be getting a bit more difficult.  Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives yesterday officially announced a bid for governor.  She chose former Quad Cities state Rep. Rich Morthland as her running mate.  Ives says conservative and Republican voters in Illinois can no longer trust Rauner.  She said she's launching a bid this week to get enough signatures to make the March ballot.

Veterans Courts To Be Required In Illinois In 2018

Counties across the state have about two months to finalize their plans for a veterans court.  A new state law requires the courts, which are designed to deal with issues that veterans face in the criminal justice system. Counties have to open their veterans courts in January.  But there are some worries that smaller counties may not have the resources or case demand to warrant a vets court. Veterans Courts To Be Required In Illinois In 2018

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Former Governor Quinn to Run for A.G

Former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) is throwing his hat into the race for Attorney General. He told the Chicago Sun Times he wants to be "a lawyer for the people."  Quinn still has some campaign cash in his account. He lost in a reelection race against current Governor Bruce Rauner in 2014. Quinn joins a growing list of candidates who've announced they'd like to replace Lisa Madigan, after she announced she won't seek a fifth term.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Funk's Grove Murder Case Update: Motive

There are new revelations in the murder case of an East Peoria woman who was strangled and stabbed allegedly by her own daughter and left to die at Funks Gove. The Pantagraph is reporting that a co-defendant claims she did it was because woman threatened to tell police her daughter was a
prostitute. This is according to statements made Friday by the lawyer for a co-defendant in the murder case. Matthew Isbell, of Marquette Heights, and Christine Roush, of Washington, both 22, are both charged with first-degree murder in the death of Teresa Poehlman, whose body was found July 2 by hikers.

Alleged Drug Seller Facing 16 Felonies

30-year old Robert Willan of Bloomington is facing multiple charges for allegedly selling drugs at Illinois State University. Willan allegedly sold drugs to a state police informant. He's now facing 16 felony charges from McLean County prosecutors. His bond is set at $7,500 but he must prove that the bail money did not come from illegal drug profits.

Bloomington Man Asks For Mayor To Stop Defaming Him

A Bloomington man wants the city's mayor to stop calling him crazy. Bruce Meeks on Thursday appeared on Cities 92.9's Morning Buzz with Tom Davis announcing he had sent a letter to Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner asking that the mayor stop defaming him. City leaders in Bloomington this week admonished the mayor for how he's handled Meeks' frequent criticism of city hall. Specifically, Meeks' letter states that he wants the mayor to stop calling him crazy and to stop saying that Meeks has been suing the city for years. Meeks says neither are true.

 Here is the letter:

October 25, 2017

Tari Renner
2 Sable Way Court
Bloomington, IL 61701

Dear Mr. Renner

It has come to my attention again that you have been spreading factually incorrect, misleading and malicious misinformation regarding my character, behavior, social interactions, business transactions. This constitutes defamation against my reputation, and I demand that you cease and desist these slanderous and libelous statements immediately.

Please note that defamation is defined as negative remarks concerning my character, behavior, or other aspects that are spoken or written to another person or persons and that you know (or ought to know) are false. Just one of many of your defamatory statements are as follows:

From the Pantagraph newspaper you are quoted “not the fact that I would have sent an email to somebody who has been suing us for five years and calling him crazy.”


If you do not cease and desist immediately, I will be forced to take appropriate legal action against you and the City of Bloomington and will seek all available damages and remedies.

Please respond within 1 day to acknowledge that you have received this letter via a third party and that you have complied with the directive for immediate cessation of defamation.

I do not want any contact from you in person, by phone, USPS or email effective immediately. If you wish to communicate it must be via a third party. If you violate this request for no contact I will seek a civil order.

Citizen Bruce J. Meeks

Unemployment Rate, Jobs Fall In Most Downstate Illinois Cities

The unemployment rate is down in Illinois, but so is the number of people working in most downstate cities. The latest jobless report from Springfield that came out yesterday showed most cities outside of Chicago and suburbs lost jobs between September of 2016 and last month. Bloomington-Normal added about 14-hundred jobs in the past year, but Champaign-Urbana, Decatur, Springfield, Peoria, and the Quad Cities all lost jobs. Illinois' statewide unemployment rate is four-point-six percent.

Illinois Lawmakers Hurry Toward New Sexual Harassment Law

There could be a new anti-sexual harassment law on the books in Illinois before Thanksgiving. The Illinois House will meet next week in Chicago to talk about a new law aimed at ending the culture of sexism and harassment inside state government. A number of women who work at the Illinois Capitol, including a few lawmakers, have spoken out this week about their experiences with unwanted flirtations or worse. The hearing is set for Tuesday.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Illinois, McLean County Partner for Liquor Inspection Pilot Program

In an effort to improve the allocation of alcohol beverage compliance resources, the State of Illinois and McClean County have recently joined forces to launch the McLean County Liquor Inspection Pilot Program.  Under the agreement, the McLean County Sheriff’s Office has begun carrying out Standard Liquor Inspections for McLean County license holders on behalf of the State of Illinois.  Utilizing existing State resources, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) is providing financial assistance and training for designated local inspectors.

The McLean County Sheriff’s Office began conducting inspections for the 141 McLean County license holders upon the completion of ILCC training in October and will continue through June 30, 2018 when the pilot program concludes.  Inspections include areas of local concern, such as health/sanitation, license and insurance verifications, and deceptive practices.  Under the terms of the agreement, local officials are required to report their findings to the state commission, which may result in further adjudicative action.   

The Liquor Inspection Pilot Program includes the jurisdictions of all incorporated and unincorporated areas within the County of McLean, except the City of Bloomington.   

For more information on the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, please visit their website at: www.illinois.gov/ilcc .

Florida Governor To Come To Illinois To Recruit Jobs

Florida's governor is calling it an economic development mission, Illinois leaders are calling it a poaching trip. Florida Governor Rick Scott yesterday said he's coming to Chicago this week to meet with business leaders and see if he can get them to move to his state. Scott said in a release that while Illinois' governor has tried to turn the state around, Illinois lawmakers and local leaders have raised tax after tax. Scott says Florida has cut taxes 75 times over the past seven years.

Bloomington Downtown Task Force Vote

Bloomington's Downtown Task Force appears to be dead set on developing the site of the Market Street parking ramp into a city's library with a Connect Transit bus transfer station and public parking as their catalyst project to stimulate downtown redevelopment. The task force approved the idea with a 5-1 vote Tuesday.

Unit 5 to Become a Welcoming District?

Unit 5 schools are considering a resolution to become a welcoming district just like District 87 did about a year ago. The district says the presence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on school property could disrupt a safe and welcoming environment. The resolution pledges that district personel will not disclose information about a students immigration status unless required by law.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Top Lawmakers Endorse Sexual Harassment Law After Capitol #MeToo Letter

Illinois lawmakers could soon be looking at new sexual harassment training after a #MeToo letter accused the statehouse of tolerating sexual harassment. The open letter released yesterday details unnamed accusations of harassment, from late night phone calls to unwanted sexual advances. Within hours, three of the state's four legislative leaders called for a new law that requires harassment training for lawmakers, statehouse staffers, and lobbyists.

VIDEO: Neighboring Governors Appear In Campaign Ad For Governor Rauner

The governor's of Illinois' neighbors are the stars of Governor Rauner's latest campaign commercial. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker all take turns during a new 30 second ad thanking Illinois' Democratic House Speaker for driving jobs to their states. All three say Illinois' policies have created jobs in their states. The ad is for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner who launched his bid for reelection earlier this week.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Home Sweet Home and Midwest Food Bank Announce 2017 Give Thanks Campaign

Home Sweet Home Ministries and Midwest Food Bank have officially kicked off their annual Give Thanks campaign. During a press conference on Tuesday, Home Sweet Home’s Matt Burgess and Midwest Food Bank’s, Mike Hoffman, announced plans to collect 2,000 turkeys and other food items for Thanksgiving meals.

“We are really in need of the community’s support this year to provide turkeys and other meal items including canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup, fried onions, and cranberry sauce,” says Mike Hoffman, Midwest Food Bank Director. “We all have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Please help us share the blessings this holiday season.”

Hy-Vee and Schnucks will be selling turkey cards and prepackaged meal bags. Anyone from the community can visit either of these locations and donate a turkey or bag. We’ll gladly accept drop-off donations at Midwest Food Bank located at 2301 Warehouse Drive in Normal or at Home Sweet Home Ministries located at 303 East Oakland Avenue in Bloomington. In addition, Bloomington Mission Mart will be selling Thanksgiving meal cards to benefit Home Sweet Home’s Thanksgiving Day Dinner.

“Home Sweet Home was founded on Thanksgiving Day 100 years ago. We graciously ask for the community’s help to continue on our history of providing those in need with access to warm meals this Thanksgiving. Our goal is to distribute 2,000 meal baskets complete with turkeys, 600 home delivered meals, and 150 in-house meals this year,” adds Home Sweet Home Ministries’ Chief Operating Officer, Matt Burgess.

Once all the turkeys and other food items are collected, volunteers will help sort and pack meal boxes at Midwest Food Bank.

Distribution days for families to pick up meal boxes will be:
-November 18th: 12 pm-4 pm
-November 20th:   2 pm-6 pm
Please note with Midwest Food Bank’s new location, we will be implementing a new drive-through style system. There will be no walk-in availability this year. Individuals are asked to bring a photo I.D. to register for a meal box on either distribution day.

Bloomington Alderman Chastise Mayor Over Comments To Citizen

For the second time in a little more than two years, Bloomington city council members are chastising the city's mayor for lashing out at a citizen. Six of Bloomington's nine alderman last night presented a letter to Mayor Tari Renner that says he 'disgraced' the office. Renner is facing criticism for lashing out at a citizen back in April. This is not Renner's first criticism for how he handles his critics. The Bloomington council formally censured Renner in February of 2015 for calling another Bloomington resident a 'piece of garbage.'

Bloomington PCard Changes: Mayor Renner Loses His

Elected officials in Bloomington will no longer be permitted to carry city credit cards, or p-cards. Earlier this year, an investigation was opened into the mayor's use of a city card to buy a plane ticket for his girlfriend during a city trip to Japan. The money was reimbursed and he has said in the past that she was there in an official capacity. Under the new ordinance, allowable expenses, like business lunches, will be purchased by the mayor or council member and then reimbursed by the city.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Fire at a Downtown Bloomington Apartment Bldg

Several residents of an apartment building at 301 W. Monroe St. in downtown Bloomington escaped a fire unscathed early Monday afternoon. The Pantagraph reports the residents smelled smoke and called the fire department around 1p.m. The fire appeared to be contained to one apartment on the second floor. The fire was quickly under control  after firefighters got into the apartment . There were no reports of injuries.

Two Gun Bills to Be Considered by IL Legislators

At least two bills are being considered in the Illinois Fall Veto Session following the shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and more than 500 wounded on Oct. 1. A House bill introduced Oct. 5 by state Rep. Martin Moylan (D)  Des Plaines, would ban the sale of bump stocks, as well as assault weapons, large-caliber rifles and large-capacity magazines, described in the bill as holding 10 or more rounds of ammunition. Senate Bill 1657 would create state licensing for gun dealers and was filed by state Rep. Kathleen Willis (D) from Addison.

Jeanne Ives Looking To Challenge Rauner In 2018

Jeanne Ives isn't worried about not having nearly as much money as Governor Bruce Rauner. Ives last week told a southern Illinois radio station that she is considering a bid to challenge Rauner in the Republican primary. The governor has almost 70 million-dollars in his campaign account, Ives has just 85 hundred. Ives says Republican and conservative voters are furious with the governor for his support of a law that will have taxpayers pay for abortions.

Report: Rauner To Announce Reelection Bid

Will Governor Bruce Rauner finally make it official?  The "Chicago Sun Times" reported last night that the governor will officially launch his reelection campaign today.  Rauner is facing a lot of anger from conservative voters who are furious that he signed a law to have taxpayers pay for abortions and well as two years of gridlock at the statehouse.  But Rauner has almost 70 million-dollars to spend on a campaign.  The Sun Times says the governor will make the announcement in a video.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Passenger Train Stopped and Evacuated in Lincoln

Police are investigating why a man left his bags when he got off a northbound train Friday morning in Lincoln, prompting the train to be stopped and the other passengers evacuated. The Pantagraph reports passengers were told by Lincoln police to leave the train while bomb-sniffing dogs were used to determine if there is any danger. Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari released  news statement saying  "As a precaution, 190 customers on Amtrak Train 302 have disembarked in Lincoln, while authorities examine items left behind by another passenger."  There were no injuries reported.

New Questions About Bloomington Mayor's Spending

City leaders in Bloomington are once again questioning Mayor Tari Renner's use of a city credit card. The mayor charged a 28-dollar lunch to the city while he was on a leave of absence last month. Last night one city council member asked if that's allowed. This is the second time in the past few months that Renner has faced questions about his use of city money. Renner is facing an investigation into whether the city illegally bought his girlfriend a plane ticket to Japan back in July.

Illinois' Latest Jobs Report Show Huge Losses

You have to work hard to spin something positive out of Illinois' latest jobs report. The state's employment agency yesterday said that Illinois lost almost eleven thousand jobs in September. The report says the trade and transportation sector lost the most jobs, followed by education and health services and the leisure industry. Illinois employment director Jeff Mays says the state's economy continues to sputter, and is falling behind other states that have seen a rebound from the great recession.

Three Arrested in Facebook Live Streamed Fight

So far, three people have been arrested on a  variety of charges stemming from a weekend party where a fight between two women was live-streamed on Facebook last Sunday morning. Michael Burton of Bloomington is charged with unlawful taping of a video at a residence, a Class 4 felony, and publishing obscenity. Also charged is 21-year-old Betty Vo of  Normal, with battery, and 19 year-old Gabrielle Shanahan of Bloomington, with illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Two Arrested in Facebook Live Fight in Normal

Two people have been arrested in connection with that Facebook Live streaming video of fight in Normal Sunday morning at an apartment on Parkinson Street. The Pantagraph reports a 25-year-old Bloomington man is facing preliminary charges of non-consensual dissemination of a sex image, publishing obscenity, and two counts of unlawful recording of a video at a residence.  A 21-year-old woman has been arrested in connection with that fight facing three counts of misdemeanor battery. Two men were arrested at the Parkinson apartment, but those charges filed against them on Monday actually came from incidences at a different party earlier that night.

Minor League Hockey League Promises No Knees During Anthem

There's one place where you won't see any players taking a knee during the national anthem.  That's a Peoria Rivermen hockey game.  In fact, the entire Southern Professional Hockey League is ordering its players to stand for the national anthem.  SPHL president Jim Combs yesterday said they've had a rule since 2009 that requires players to stand.  Combs said it wouldn't ever cross the mind of hockey players or hockey fans to take a knee during the national anthem.

Man In Custody on Weapons Charges

A 25-year-old man is in custody following a domestic dispute in  the 400 block of West Vernon of Normal early Wednesday where a shot was reportedly fired. The man was taken into custody on preliminary charges of reckless discharge of a firearm, possession of a weapon by a former convict and criminal damage to property. There were no injuries reported.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Medication Abortions Available at Bloomington Clinic

The Planned Parenthood clinic in Bloomington has begun offering medication abortions for the first time. The process involves two different pills. Patients take the first pill at the health center and  are then given a second pill to take at home any time within 48 hours. Medication abortions can only be performed within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy

Appointees to Bloomington Public Safety and Community Relations Board

Monday night the Bloomington City Council will be asked Mayor Tari Renner's appointments of the Rev. William Bennett, Robert Bosquez, Surena Fish, Jan Lancaster, Sally Rudolph, Arthur Taylor and Jeffery Woodard to the seven-member Public Safety and Community Relations Board.

Illinois In Bottom Half In Latest Tax, Business Climate Report

Illinois' five percent personal income tax rate is the only thing keeping the state from the bottom of a new report on taxes and business climates.  The Tax Foundation yesterday ranked Illinois 29th in the country for tax policy and business climate.  The state is ranked 16th for its personal income tax rate.  But Illinois scores near the bottom, 42nd and 45th, when it comes to unemployment insurance and property tax rates.  The Tax Foundation ranks Illinois' neighbor Indiana as the ninth best state in country for businesses.

Governor Rauner Releases Tax Returns

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner paid over 22 million-dollars in taxes last year, and could pay more next year. The governor released his 2016 income tax returns yesterday. Rauner made almost 91 million-dollars, less than in 2015 but more than in 2014. He paid 19-and-a-half million-dollars in taxes to the federal government and another three million to the state of Illinois. If he makes the same amount next year, the state's new income tax would have the governor pay an extra million-point-three in state income taxes.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Possible Tenant Coming to the Former Dick's in Normal Location

Ross Dress for Less is named as the tenant coming to the former Dick's Sporting Goods store in Normal in a document provided by the town of Normal. It lists Ross Dress for Less as a tenant to receive $1 million in improvements, according to the Pantagraph. Phillips Edison, the owners of the twin shopping centers at the NE corner of Veterans Pkwy and College Ave., plan to spend $4 million on improvements. Normal City Council Monday night approved an $800,000 sales tax rebate for the owners. The deal is expected to bring at least 3 new businesses to those properties.

Normal Approves Tax Rebate for Shopping Centers

The Normal Town Council approved an $800,000 sales tax rebate for two local shopping centers that are struggling, after Dick's Sporting Goods moved to Bloomiington. The owners of College Plaza Station and neighboring Greenbriar Center are planning to invest more than $4 million over in upgrades over the next five years. They say the deal will help offset the costs, so they can attract major tenants to fill the empty spaces. Town staff say the way the deal is structured makes it safe for the community.

Bloomington Alderman Want Budget Cuts

City leaders in Bloomington say it's time that they spend less.  Bloomington's finance director last night said that the city is looking at a budget shortfall anywhere between one-and-a-half million and three million-dollars. Falling sale tax revenues are to blame.  Alderman David Sage said Bloomington has to get serious about the amount of money that it's spending before it's too late.

Normal 2040

"Compacted, connected and complete."  That's the goal community leaders have for Normal over the next two decades as community leaders got a look at Normal's 2040 Comprehensive Plan last night.  The plan includes  sustainability in environmental impacts, town spending, and services. It also highlights gaps that the town needs to work to close, like affordable housing. The plan, which includes community input, advises leaders to create a new business friendly community, strive for the cutting edge technology and collaborate with Illinois State University and the surrounding communities.

Monday, October 16, 2017

OSF: Plans Filed for $25M Building at Bloomington Campus

OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center wants to build a nearly $25 million medical office building on its Bloomington campus to increase the number of primary care providers while improving access to outpatient cardiac services.  The Pantagraph reports St. Joseph has sent the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board the application for approval. The three-story, 51,000-square-foot medical office building would go up on Washington Street, east of Regency Drive and west of St. Joseph Drive.

Source: Pantagraph

$800K in Tax Breaks to Twin Shopping Centers in Normal Requested by Owner

The Normal Town Council votes tonight on whether to give $800,000 in tax breaks to a shopping center owner so that the town can collect $4.8 million in projected new tax revenue. Council members will vote on a proposed sales tax rebate for Phillips Edison, which owns the twin shopping centers on the northeast corner of College Avenue and Veterans Parkway. The company wants to spend $4.1 million to remodel the shopping centers, in hopes of bringing in a tenant to replace Dick’s Sporting Goods and other retail spaces.

Fight on Facebook Live in Normal Prompts SWAT Team Into Action

Normal Police sent out the SWAT team to an apartment building on Parkinson Street near police headquarters during the pre-dawn hours Sunday, after authorities were notified of a fight of two women beating another woman that was being shown on Facebook Live. Police Chief Rick Bleichner said officers knocking on the door heard what they thought was a gunshot, and the emergency response team was called.  Officers arrested a man allegedly carrying a handgun. No one inside the apartment was seriously hurt, and no police officers were injured

Private Group's Reservations Slowing Election Consolidation

The League of Women voters looks to be the biggest roadblock to consolidating elections in McLean County. The county and the city of Bloomington each have their own election offices, and local leaders want to combine the two to save money and time. But the League of Women Voters in McLean County says it wants an independent commission to oversee elections, rather than a countywide elected leader who they say could be unprepared

Illinois' Amazon Pitch Due This Week

Illinois' bid for Amazon's second headquarters is due this week. The company is looking for a new home for 50 thousand jobs, and Illinois is one of many states volunteering to be that home. No one has said what Illinois' bid includes, though the thinking is that the state will pitch Chicago as a hub for Amazon's HQ2. But city leaders in St. Louis last week said their pitch includes parts of East St. Louis, Illinois as well.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Conservatives Look To Rollback Illinois' Taxpayer Funded Abortion Law

Conservative lawmakers at the Illinois Capitol are trying to roll back a new law that'd have taxpayer money pay for abortions in the state.  State Rep. Peter Breen and State Senator Dan McConchie yesterday filed a piece of legislation to stop Illinois from covering elective abortions for women on Medicaid.  Breen said the state may end up spending 30 million-dollars on abortions under the law that Governor Rauner signed just a few weeks ago. McConchie says Illinois can't afford that cost.

Normal City Manager Applications

Applications are officially open for Normal's next city manager. Mark Peterson is retiring at the end of March after 30 years of service. A job description posted to GovHRJobs.com invites online applications from candidates "who have a passion for local government service, an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to lead a high performing organization."  The advertised pay is in the  $185,000 range.

Chicago Gets One Last Sanctuary Warning From Justice Department

The Justice Department is giving Chicago and other sanctuary cities one last warning before they cancel federal policing grants. The Trump Administration yesterday told city leaders in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and New Orleans to prove that their sanctuary policies aren't hurting law enforcement efforts. If the cities can't, or won't, the Justice Department says it may withhold possibly millions of dollars in grant money. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he won't pick between being a welcoming community and supporting his officers.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

U of I Wants Free Speech Task Force

The University of Illinois is going to study free speech. The school yesterday announced a task force to develop policies to avoid 'disruptions' at campus events and classes. Interim Provost John Wilkin says the idea is to make sure the school knows how to handle protestors who may want to interrupt any speaker that they don't agree with. Wilkin said the university wants to protect free speech while 'engaging with the divisive sorts of things' you sometimes see in campus speeches.

Bloomington Downtown Task Force Latest

The Bloomington Downtown Task Force has the redevelopment of the city-owned Market Street parking deck into a multipurpose facility still at the top of their list in draft report as a catalyst to revive the downtown area. How the city would use the site is left open for discussion. This recommendation will likely come up for a task force vote on Oct. 24.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Cook County Officials Vote to Repeal Chicago-Area Soda Tax

The Chicago-area’s penny-per-ounce tax on soda and sweetened drinks was repealed Wednesday after a monthslong conflict that included a court battle and millions of dollars’ worth of television ads on both sides.

The tax prompted lawsuits, a warning from a federal agency that Illinois could lose millions in funding for food stamp benefits and complaints of plummeting sales from store owners. But among its supporters were health advocates such as billionaire Michael Bloomberg, whose super PAC ran more than $2 million worth of ads defending the tax as a way to fight obesity and other health conditions.

Some retailers opposed to the tax posted signs in the soda aisle telling customers they will pay $1.44 more on each 12-pack of soda because of the tax, and urging them to tell their county commissioner to repeal it. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association, which unsuccessfully sued to try to stop the tax, called the repeal “great news for consumers and retailers.”

Commissioners will have to decide how they will fill an approximate $200 million budget hole that the tax would have satisfied. They have until Nov. 30 to approve a budget.