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Springfield-based Land of Lincoln Goodwill is backpedaling on its recent decision to lay off a number of workers with disabilities. The move by CEO Sharon Durbin sparked broad criticism this week.

Last month, Durbin announced Goodwill would be laying off its workers with disabilities, saying it couldn’t afford to keep them due to the upcoming minimum wage hike. That’s despite the fact that Goodwill is legally allowed to pay those workers below the minimum wage. Durbin herself receives a six figure salary.

springfield.il.us

After months of recounts and appeals, the decision of who should represent Springfield’s Ward 2 landed at the city council Tuesday. But council members could not reach agreement between Ald. Gail Simpson or Willie “Shawn” Gregory.

Much of the debate revolved around small initials election judges need to make on every ballot. On two contested ballots for Gregory – a judge had signed it, just not on the line where she was supposed to.

Retired Judge John Mehlick, who acted as hearing officer, recommended not counting them.

William Furry

Andrew Carnegie is remembered for his philanthropy.  The industrialist wound up giving away an estimated 90 percent of his fortune to causes like libraries and education. 

But less known was how he helped many churches and community centers obtain pipe organs. It exemplified his love of music and belief that musical expression uplifted the soul. 

Madeleine Deaton / Flickr: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois — and the rest of the country — could soon start seeing more days of extreme heat. That’s according to a report released Tuesday, “Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days”— authored by the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

Mark Schultz / Illinois Public Media

White extremist propaganda surged by almost 60 percent on Midwestern college campuses last academic year. That’s according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League.

Courtesy of Anne Stava-Murray

If you've got kids, you may have gotten the call to come to the school immediately because your child forgot to wear a belt, or lost his asthma inhaler, or argued with his teacher. For some hourly employees, making a quick trip to their kid's school could cost them their job.

But a bill awaiting Gov. J.B. Pritzker's signature would provide protection for workers who need to attend a parent-teacher conference or any other important meeting at their child’s school.

Illinois groups against cash bond and pretrial detention rallied in Springfield last weekend to call for reform of pretrial practices.
Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois groups against cash bond and pretrial detention rallied in Springfield last weekend to call for reform of pretrial practices.  

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker canceled an upcoming performance by the band Confederate Railroad at the DuQuoin State Fair. 

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A hot and unusually wet summer has stretches of Illinois roads at the breaking point. Drivers are being warned to watch out for road buckling.


Jessica Freeman / Community Unity

Springfield will host an unusual basketball tournament later this month, designed to have a lasting effect on the players long after the games are over.

It’s an idea cooked up by former basketball coach Al Klunick. He came up with the notion about 10 years ago, when he was scrolling through YouTube, looking for videos about his hometown, and stumbled upon a documentary that shocked him: a four-part series about a race riot in Springfield.

“I can’t believe that I grew up on the North End, born and raised, lived here all my life, and didn’t know the true history,” Klunick says.

Springfield Art Association / Springfield Art Association

The Springfield Art Association Thursday opened Women's Art Alliance: The First 10 Years, an exhibit commemorating the founding of the Women’s Art Alliance 40 years ago.  The WAA grew to become the Prairie Art Alliance in 1995, which then merged with the Springfield Art Association in 2016 and renamed SAA Collective. 

Reporter Daisy Contreras spoke to Corrin McWhirter, SAA Collective gallery director, about looking back at the group of women who started it all and their impact on the community. 

Can the racial divide be overcome through a basketball tournament?  Al Klunick tells us he wants to try with a unique event where kids of different races play together on the same team.  It's one of the rules for the Community Unity tourney.  

This week marks 40 years since a baseball promotion in Chicago turned into chaos.  While some look back on Disco Demolition Night fondly (the team even celebrated the anniversary this season), others see darker motives.  We talk with the man who came up with the idea.    

And Gov. J.B. Pritzker stands by a decision to cancel a Du Quoin State Fair appearance by the band Confederate Railroad over concerns about the band's name and use of the Confederate flag in its logo.  What it could mean for the fair itself.  

That and more on this week's Statewide.

satellite image of Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois, cut into puzzle pieces with a few missing
Photo: Apple Maps / Illustration: Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

After decades of growth, the number of men and women in the Illinois prison system has declined sharply in the last several years. A complex blend of decisions is behind the drop — ranging from the highest reaches of power in the General Assembly down to individual police on the beat.

Heartland Alliance Social Impact Research Center

More counties appear on an anti-poverty group’s watch and warning lists this year than last.

Of the state’s 102 counties, 67 are on a watch list — or more serious warning list — created by the research arm of the Heartland Alliance, which works on social issues in areas that include poverty. That’s up from 52 last year.

This year, 14 counties throughout the state made the severe warning list.

Confederate Railroad official website

The band Confederate Railroad will play southern Illinois after all.  Just not at the Du Quoin State Fair.  

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Illinois farmers now have until July 15 to officially say they won’t be planting crops this year. A key deadline has been extended for claiming some types of crop insurance.

It's been one of the wettest springs in state history. Just last month alone, Illinois averaged more than five inches of rainfall, a whole inch above normal. It’s been so wet for so much of the planting season, farmers across the state haven’t had much of a chance to get their crops in the ground.

Courtesy of the Education Justice Project

The new director of the Illinois Department of Corrections said during a legislative hearing in Chicago on Monday that the agency plans to revise its policy regarding what books can and cannot enter the prison. 

Rodney Davis
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As President Donald Trump pushes for a question about citizenship on the census, a Republican Congressman from central Illinois is avoiding taking sides on the issue.

Republican Congressman Rodney Davis said he could go either way on whether U.S. residents are asked if they are citizens on the decennial survey.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

The Illinois State Armory is perhaps the largest state-owned building that no longer has a purpose. The 200,000-square foot behemoth was once a fixture of life and culture in downtown Springfield, and a central component to the State Capitol complex.

But, the more than 80 year-old building is a shell of what it once was. It’s fallen into disrepair.

That may soon change now that state lawmakers devoted $120 million from the latest infrastructure bill to fix up the place. 

The state of Illinois  is expected to hire more than 300 training and technical  staff members in an attempt to bring down a backlog of unprocessed Medicaid applications.

The  General Assembly also approved a bill this spring aimed at addressing problems with the Medicaid program. Those include a high denial rate cited by providers and the application processing backlog – which has reached over 100,000.  

albertogp123 / flickr.com

The Illinois State Board of Education has decided to review the slate of standardized tests students take, to try to make sure the exams align with each other.

Currently, kindergarteners are evaluated by one test, then elementary students with another, and high school juniors with a third. All those tests measure different concepts, making it difficult to see where the curriculum needs to be improved. 

Amanda Elliott, legislative affairs director with the state board, says the current system causes many districts to implement additional tests.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants Illinois to help Chicago with its ballooning pension payments, which are squeezing other priorities in the state budget.

decades of budget books line the shelves in the LEgislative Reference Bureau's library in the Illinois state Capitol
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

When lawmakers made performance-based budgeting the law in Illinois, they promised it would transform the way the state spends money. But after years of failing to invest in the program, backers say Illinois is finally getting serious about Budgeting for Results.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority / The Illinois Housing Development Authority

Illinois’ new infrastructure plan has money set aside to help residents secure affordable housing across the state. This is the first capital plan in 10 years.

Amtec Photos- Flickr: CC BY-SA 2.0 / <a href=http://www.amtec.us.com>Amtec</a>

Illinois job seekers might soon avoid disclosing how much money they made in a previous job. 

DNA testing in criminal cases goes to the Illinois State Police crime lab.  And in recent years, more evidence is being submitted.  That is helping add to a huge backlog that results in delays for victims, the accused and the justice system. 

Also, we find out what an Illinois survey on sexual harassment discosvered in the wake of the #MeToo movement.   

That and more on this week's Statewide.

Michael Kappel via Flikr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=rich

If you’re driving this holiday weekend, you’ll be paying more to fill up your tank in Illinois.  A 19 cent per gallon gas tax increase went into effect this week. But Governor J.B. Pritzker claims the money is an investment.


via Illinois CMS

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is rejecting a push to take on Chicago’s pension debt. But local pension costs are a growing problem across the state.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Gas prices in Illinois are creeping up as a 19-cent increase in the fuel tax took effect Monday.

The average price around Illinois for a gallon of gas rose slightly – from $2.79 to $2.84 between Sunday and Monday, according to gasbuddy.com - a crowdsourcing app. The consumer group AAA puts the average price around the state at nearly $3, up from $2.89 Monday.

Inventorchris via Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/?ref=ccsearch&atype=rich

Illinois’ weed legalization law won’t take effect until next year, but the Illinois State Police is wasting no time. That agency is preparing to enforce new regulations surrounding legal cannabis.


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