Charles N. Wheeler III

Commentator

The director of the Public Affairs Reporting (PAR) graduate program is Professor Charles N. Wheeler III,  a veteran newsman who came to the University of Illinois at Springfield following a 24-year career at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Wheeler covered state government and politics for the Sun-Times since 1970, when he covered the Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention. For the last 19 years of his Sun-Times tenure, Wheeler was assigned to the newspaper’s Statehouse bureau. During that time, he was elected to 16 consecutive one-year terms as president of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association and served for many years on the PAR program and admissions committees.

Since 1984, he has written a monthly column for Illinois Issues magazine, which has won five Capitolbeat awards for magazine commentary/analysis. In 2006, the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association inducted him into The Lincoln League of Journalists, which honors men and women who have provided exemplary service to other journalists and to daily newspapers published in Illinois. In 2013, he was chosen as the Journalist of the Year by the Journalism Department at Eastern Illinois University.  He is also a regular on the panel for State Week, WUIS' weekly political analysis program that airs on public radio stations across Illinois.

Before joining the Sun-Times in 1969, Wheeler served more than three years as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Panama. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University, Winona, MN, majoring in English, and received a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Wheeler draws on the talents of many UIS faculty with expertise in such fields as public budgeting, political science, and communication, as well as professional journalists and state officials, to present students with a well-rounded program to bridge the academic and professional areas.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner attempts to reset his campaign with a speech to a small group of supporters. Will it be enough to overcome the 14 percentage points that separate the Republican incumbent from his Democratic opponent, J.B. Pritzker?

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

A big surprise this week - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he's dropping out of the upcoming election.  Amanda Vinicky of Chicago's WTTW and A.D. Quig of The Daily Line join the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed several bills in the past week. One would have raised the cap on how much money people wronged by state government can recover — Illinois’ relatively low cap of $100,000 came to light after the deaths of more than a dozen residents of the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy.

Other vetoed bills would have raised the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21, sought to improve relations between immigrant communities and the police, and set a minimum salary of $40,000 per year for new teachers.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A new poll shows J.B. Pritzker leading Bruce Rauner in the Illinois gubernatorial race.  Also, there is uncertainty over the future of the Southern Illinois University system.  WSIU Public Radio's Jennifer Fuller joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, political rhetoric at the Illinois State Fair.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner pledged to contribute $1 million to Republican attorney general nominee Erika Harold so she “will prosecute (House Speaker Michael) Madigan.” But when pressed by reporters, Rauner would not identify a crime with which he thinks Madigan should be charged. Did the governor cross a line?

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Freshman Rep. Nick Sauer, a Republican from Lake Barrington, resigned after being accused of posting a former girlfriend's nude photos online without her consent.

Meanwhile, Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers endorsed two candidates for Illinois governor: Democratic nominee J.B. Pritzker and Conservative Party candidate Sam McCann, a state senator from Plainview who until recently was a member of the Republican Party.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner boards a city bus for an apology tour of Illinois’ flagship college towns. Illinois Nazis are back in the news. And it’s official — there will be at least four party-affiliated candidates on the ballot for governor this fall.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The U.S. Supreme Court handed a victory to Governor Bruce Rauner in its ruling on the Janus v. AFSCME case.  Also, the Gubernatorial race gained more candidates with this week's filings by independent parties.  The State Journal-Register's Bernie Schoenburg joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week means shoppers will more often be paying sales taxes for online purchases. It might also have meant a windfall for state government, but Illinois lawmakers anticipated the decision and already spent the money.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

AFSCME, Illinois biggest laobr union representing state government employees, was in the Fourth District Appellate Court this week. It's fighting a move by the Rauner administration to declare an impasse in contract negotiations, which are three years overdue.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Allegations of bullying and inappropriate comments prompted the resignation of the top aide to House Speaker Michael Madigan. Tim Mapes had been the speaker's chief of staff since the late 1990s, and was also executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner signing a full-year budget into law, a first for the incumbent Republican, who's in his fourth year as governor.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers say they've made real progress toward passage of a budget. But even if they can get it passed by the scheduled end of session next Thursday (May 31), the big question remains: Will Gov. Bruce Rauner sign or veto it?

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner used his amendatory veto powers to rewrite a gun bill, simultaneously proposing more gun control than the original bill called for while also reinstating the death penalty.

Meanwhile, local governments are complaining about the state's attempt to share less money from the income tax, while gambling interests prepare to fight it out after the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for legal sports betting in every state.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Equal Rights Amendment is back in the news and back in the Statehouse, as supporters make another push for ratification in Illinois.

Meanwhile, the fiscal watchdog group The Civic Federation is out with a critique of Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget proposal and its own plan for the state, and a southern Illinois county declares itself a sanctuary for gun owners.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Arguments over a flat versus graduated income tax continue among lawmakers; more political fallout surrounding the Quincy Veterans' Home; and Paul Vallas announces he's running for Mayor of Chicago.

Tony Arnold and Dave McKinney from WBEZ Public Radio in Chicago join the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

House Speaker Michael Madigan was re-elected to another term as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois. Meanwhile, gun owners marched on the Capitol, Gov. Bruce Rauner returned from his European trade mission, and a new report looks at the crushing late fees run up during the budget stalemate.

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Commentary - The lack of detail from Pritzker makes it unclear whether his graduated tax plan would lower taxes.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

State Sen. Sam McCann has left the Republican Party, and will be trying to run for governor on the Conservative Party ticket. Does that complicate the chances for Gov. Bruce Rauner, who narrowly won renomination against a more conservative Republican primary challenger?

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner made a rare request for a meeting with the four legislative leaders of the General Assembly — House and Senate, Democratic and Republican. In a show of how once-ordinary tasks can be touted as achievements in the current toxic political climate, Republicans left the meeting saying they were pleased Democrats agreed to appoint budget negotiators.

They also apparently agreed to set a "revenue estimate" — the amount of  money Illinois government expects to collect, and thus to spend, in the next budget year.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

J.B. Pritzker is reiterating his call for a graduated income tax — and says before that, Illinois might need to raise its existing flat tax rate.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Thousands of Illinoisans joined people across America and around the world in marches showing support for stricter gun laws. A former campaign worker sued House Speaker Michael Madigan over his handling of a harassment complaint against one of his top aides.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx toook moved against Facebook after the privacy lapses ¸brought into public consciousness by the Cambridge Analytica scandal. And can Gov. Bruce Rauner repair his relationship with conservative voters?

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Commentary: Insights from the 2018 primary election

"Is this embattled Republican governor toast?" -- Natasha Korecki, Politico

"Is Gov. Bruce Rauner a lame duck limping?" -- Chuck Sweeny, Rockford Register Star

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner won renomination by just three percentage points — a remarkable margin considering he raised more campaign cash than his opponent, Rep. Jeanne Ives, by a factor of 26 to one. Ives says she won't be endorsing the Republican governor for reelection.

Meanwhile, J.B. Pritzker bested each of his two main opponents for the Democratic nomination by 20 percentage points. But state Sen. Daniel Biss and Chris Kennedy both say they'll support Pritzker in his race against Rauner.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A week before the primary election, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the first gun-control legislation sent to him after the mass murder at a school in Parkland, Florida. It would have required gun dealers to obtain state licenses.

Senate Democrats say they'll try to override the governor — eventually. They bought themselves more time by refusing to immediately recognize his veto, breaking with past practice and the Illinois Constitution.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, House Speaker and Chairman of Illinois' Democratic Party Michael Madigan faced more criticism over his handling of sexual harassment allegations against party workers and lawmakers.  Also, Governor Bruce Rauner is not saying if he supports gun control legislation in Illinois.

Bernie Schoenburg of the State Journal-Register and NPR Illinois' Maureen Foertsch McKinney join the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A series of gun control measures advanced in the Illinois Statehouse this week — requiring state licenses for gun dealers, banning "bump stocks," and raising the purchase age for so-called assault weapons, among other bills.

In Washington, an Illinois case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. Janus v. AFSCME challenges "fair share" fees for workers who are in collective bargaining units but don't want to join a union, and could have dire financial implications for public employee labor unions across the country.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Five of the six Democrats running for governor met in Springfield for a debate. House Speaker Michael Madigan was once again a hot topic, as the speaker had earlier in the week cut ties with a second aide over allegations of harassment.

Meanwhile, Republicans were distancing themselves from their own problem candidate — one who'd used racial and anti-gay language in a conversation with Republican attorney general candidate Erika Harold.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual Budget Address before the General Assembly and House Speaker Michael Madigan fired a long-time campaign worker due to sexual harassment allegations.

Gatehouse Media's Doug Finke joins the panel.

Rich Saal / The State Journal-Register (pool)

Commentary: The governor's plan would rely on some iffy savings from shifting pensions costs to schools and universities and getting state workers to pay more for their health care.

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