970 WMAY News
Convicted Springfield powerbroker William Cellini is recovering after suffering a heart attack this week.
A family spokesman says Cellini has now been released from Memorial Medical Center, where he suffered the heart attack Monday during a medical procedure.
The 77-year-old was convicted of conspiring to shake down a Hollywood film producer for a contribution to former Governor Rod Blagojevich's campaign.
He is still awaiting sentencing.
Some Springfield aldermen are looking at ways to get even tougher on downtown panhandling, including the possibility of issuing citations to people who give money to panhandlers.
Alderman Tim Griffin says it’s been done in other communities as a way of discouraging panhandling. And Alderman Sam Cahnman says while he’s not necessarily endorsing the idea, he thinks it’s worth considering.
Some business owners downtown say panhandlers have been getting more aggressive recently.
The head of a Springfield agency that helps the homeless is facing a criminal charge after being accused of keying another woman’s vehicle.
The State Journal-Register reports Brenda Johnson, the executive director of Helping Hands, has been charged with a single misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property for that February incident.
Neither Johnson nor the head of the Helping Hands board would comment to the newspaper about the pending charge.
A judge wants to question an attorney before deciding whether the man can testify in the murder trial of former Bolingbrook police sergeant Drew Peterson.
Attorney Harry Smith says Peterson’s third wife Kathleen Savio had told him before her death that she feared Peterson would kill her and make it look like an accident.
The judge ruled that Savio had waived the attorney-client privilege before her death, which would make the testimony admissible, but he also wants to know if Savio told the attorney anything that would be helpful to Peterson.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the Tier 4 Emergency Unemployment Compensation will end June 23rd, thanks to economic improvements.
That means those who will have collected benefits through Tier 3 after June 23rd will not be eligible for any more benefits.
However those who qualified for the Tier 4 benefits before that date can continue to collect under the program.
Illinois has added over 142 thousand jobs since January 2010 when the unemployment rate peaked at 11.4 percent.
The rate has fallen for eight consecutive months to 8.7 percent this April.
City Water, Light and Power are warning residents of a multi-state identity theft scam, targeting utility customers.
Although CWLP hasn’t received any customer reports of such activity so far, victims have been reported in California, Tennessee, Texas and Illinois.
Customers may get a phone call saying that President Barack Obama has approved special funding for utility bill assistance – which is not true – then solicit the victims for their Social Security Number.
Then they’re given fraudulent bank routing numbers to pay their utility bill.
CWLP says anyone approached with such offers should contact CWLP customer service…and not to give the scammers any personal information.
Over 18 years of age and have at least 85 pounds to lose? You could be a candidate for the new season of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”
Casting producers are going to be in Chicago looking for contestants for their next edition of the show to air in January 2013.
They’re looking for charismatic individuals who have a desire to change their lives forever and compete for a grand prize of $250,000.
They’ll be at Chicago Home Fitness, 1205 Butterfield Road in Downers Grove on Saturday, June 23rd from 10am to 6pm.
Information on how to apply to the show and submit a video is available at thebiggestlosercasting.com.
An Illinois House committee says there is sufficient reason to move ahead with disciplinary proceedings against a Democratic lawmaker accused of bribery.
That panel has been looking into the case of Representative Derrick Smith, accused of taking a seven-thousand-dollar bribe in exchange for helping a day care center obtain a state grant.
The panel’s recommendation is just the first step in the process that could lead to Smith’s eventual expulsion from the House. Now a new House committee will take up the case and will make recommendations to the full House, which will have the final say on whether to throw Smith out.
Some Springfield aldermen say the city should take a closer look at a tactic used by other cities to combat panhandling... making it an offense, punishable by a ticket, to give money to a panhandler.
The city has been trying to crack down on the problem recently, urging people not to give money to panhandlers and working to identify and arrest people who use aggressive or intimidating tactics to get others to give them money.
Some business owners say it's not enough, and say panhandlers seem to be getting more persistent. Police say they are using undercover stings and other enforcement tools to address the problem.
The City of Springfield may try to do an end run around possible new state rules that could require all new construction to include automatic sprinkler systems.
The Springfield Area Home Builders Association is asking aldermen to consider an ordinance, modeled on one passed in Bloomington earlier this year, that would ensure that sprinkler systems remain an option, not a requirement.
Dean Graven with the Home Builders Association says that the State Fire Marshall is pushing for a new mandate that would force all new construction, including single family homes, to install sprinkler systems.
Graven says this will increase the cost of not just building a home but also maintenance and insurance.
The group is hoping to use the city’s home rule power to prevent what they say would be a costly and unnecessary mandate.
Springfield aldermen have approved an emergency request for a four-million-dollar bond issue, which will allow the city to purchase as many as 40 new vehicles.
Mayor Mike Houston’s office says fast action was needed to take advantage of unusually low interest rates.
The money will pay for two new firetrucks, 20 unmarked Springfield police cars, and vehicles for the Public Works Department.
Before passing the loan, aldermen passed two amendments. One would require all purchases from the approved fund to come before the city council for a vote. The other amendment would force the funds to be spent within a year.
Ward 1 alderman Frank Edwards was the lone no vote.
Congressional candidate Rodney Davis says he’s not opposed to government spending, as long as the money is spent wisely and produces results for taxpayers.
The Republican appointee to run in the 13th Congressional District vows to fight wasteful projects, and points to the failed Solyndra green energy initiative as one example.
Davis says he will be a voice for local people in Washington… and promises to battle entrenched interests on both sides of the aisle.
He made a stop in Rochester Tuesday to speak with voters.
Davis faces Democrat David Gill in November.
When it comes to garage consolidation, Sangamon county has a lesson for the City of Springfield: Keep your eye on the ball.
Sangamon County is consolidating the maintenance and repair of their fleet of vehicles, including the Sheriff’s department, to their current facility on Terminal Avenue.
The estimated cost of the consolidation is $60,000 and that is to pay for two new lifts, a new oil changing station and other upgrades.
County Administrator Brian McFadden says that the consolidation plan was developed internally. He has advice for the city, don’t let the details detract from the goal … savings.
Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jack Campbell said that everyone, including Tim Zahrn, the county engineer, had to come together to address all the needs of all departments.
All the maintenance staff and almost all the equipment will be transferred the current location on Terminal Avenue.
Zahrn says that the other location will still be available for convenience and in case of emergency. He also says that the county will save an estimated $70,000 a year maintaining the 252 vehicles in one garage, instead of two.
A fleet management position was created, which was hired internally and another job dealing with maintenance for the sheriff’s department will be transferred to the new location. Another maintenance position will be left vacant after an employee retires.
Officials expect the consolidation to be complete in a few weeks.
A change of plans, and candidates, for Sangamon County Democrats.
The party has now slated funeral home director Jerry Curry to be their nominee to Sangamon County Coroner.
Curry submitted petitions Monday to appear on the November ballot, opposing Republican incumbent Cinda Edwards.
Curry ran for coroner in 1996, losing that year to Susan Boone, who resigned last year under pressure.
Democrats had initially planned to run Rachel Ralston this fall, but her potential candidacy was derailed by a new state law that appeared to make her ineligible to run as a Democrat, because she voted in the GOP primary in March.
Listen to Jerry Curry on Tuesday's Jim Leach Show with the player above or download the MP3 here.
Sangamon County Democrats now have a full slate of candidates for countywide office in November.
Kristin DiCenso has filed petitions to challenge Republican Circuit Clerk Tony Libri.
DiCenso says the office needs a fresh approach after four terms under Libri.
Circuit Clerk Tony Libri and his wife are embarking on a new initiative, aimed at helping homeless public school students in the city.
The State Journal-Register reports the Libris have purchased a building near 8th and Cook which will house The Matthew Project.
The center will seek to provide clothing and other assistance for homeless students, and will try to teach them skills such as cooking.
District 186 says more than 500 students in Springfield meet the federal definition of “homeless,” which can range from sleeping in cars to living at a campground or sharing another family’s home.
The Future of a popular downtown music festival is in question because of a sound curfew proposed by Springfield’s mayor.
The SOHO Music Festival concluded their eighth annual two-day event Saturday with what organizers called a record breaking turnout. The music was scheduled to go to midnight both Friday and Saturday night.
Mayor Mike Houston had originally said he would impose a 9:30pm curfew for amplified music outdoors in downtown Springfield, but after public outcry he made an exception for this year’s SOHO.
The mayor said that all future events would have to cut off the sound at 10:30pm. As for the future of SOHO, organizer Eric Welch says that he’s still coming down from organizing a huge event from the weekend but the dialog must continue.
Welch says it’s not just Springfield residents that attend the annual event and are concerned about what’s happening in the city, he also knows people who came in from out of town.
Welch addressed the City Council several weeks ago but says he has not had a one-on-one conversation with the mayor.
Welch says he estimates the total numbers from the festival at around 6,000 people. All the proceeds from the event go to the Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery.
Welch appeared on 970 WMAY’s The Kramer Show.
Secondhand stores in Springfield would have to follow the same rules as pawn shops, keeping detailed records of the items they purchase, under a new ordinance that will be considered by the City Council later this month.
Alderman Tim Griffin is the sponsor, and says the measure is aimed at deterring thieves from trying to unload stolen merchandise at those second-hand stores.
If approved, the measure would require secondhand stores to keep detailed records and photographs of the items they purchase, along with a digital picture of the seller’s photo ID.
The Springfield School Board is rethinking its idea of a citizens committee to recommend ideas for balancing the District 1-86 budget.
Board members approved the committee just last month, but are now concerned that its mission may be too vague and undefined.
Even so, the committee is still slated to meet for the first time later this month, and to offer recommendations by the end of August.
A Springfield man has been sentenced to serve 27 years in federal prison for transportation and possession of images of child pornography.
James E. Bowen was arrested in July 2011 and entered guilty pleas to the charges. He also admitted to possessing more than 100,000 images of child pornography, including sadistic and masochistic movies and images.
Upon completion of his prison term, Bowen will remain under supervised release for life.