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

Amid the pandemic, the state's ongoing budget woes received some attention this week, with uncertainty over federal aid to states and local governments.  Also, novel coronavirus positivity rates continue to slowly rise, prompting Governor J.B. Pritzker to issue new emergency guidelines for businesses, schools, and daycare centers.

WBEZ Public Radio's Tony Arnold and Capitol News Illinois' Peter Hancock join the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, there were more calls for Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan to resign due to a long-term bribery scheme involving energy provider Commonwealth Edison.  Also, Governor Pritzker issued new guidelines for sports as Illinois' COVID-19 numbers have been rising.

John O'Connor of the Associated Press joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

While he denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any wrongdoing, Illinois Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan is alleged to have participated in a wide-ranging bribery scheme involving energy provider Commonwealth Edison.  Illinois Republicans are calling for swift action on new ethics legislation.  Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reacted to President Trump's declaration to send undercover federal agents to the city.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, the major electric utility ComEd agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into long-running bribery scheme that implicates Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.  Meanwhile, Governor J.B. Pritzker adjusted some aspects of the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Over the past week, Democratic Illinois U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth weathered Republican criticism at the same time her name is being put forward, among others, as Joe Biden's potential running mate.  Governor J.B. Pritzker called on the Trump administration for a nationwide mandate for wearing masks to combat the coronavirus, while still not issuing such a mandate in his own state.  More revelations are showing just who received federal PPP money.  And House Speaker Michael Madigan calls for the removal of statues at the State Capitol building.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, a Clay County judge ruled that Governor J.B. Pritzker did not have the authority to issue executive orders to combat the spread of the new coronavirus after his initial order expired.   Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned the city that there would be conseqences for those who flout precautionary measures.  Also, it's the start of a new fiscal year and several new laws went into effect July 1st.

WTTW Chicago Tonight's Amanda Vinicky joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This Friday marked Illinois moving to Phase 4 of Governor J.B. Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan, along with guidelines for in-person school attendance in the Fall.  However, the governor says that the threat of COVID-19 remains and that restrictions could be tightened again if there is a resurgence of the disease.

Greg Hinz of Crain's Chicago Business joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As the state gets closer to the Phase 4 stage of Governor Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan, there are still concerns over the possibility of a surge in COVID-19 cases along with calls to speed up the process.  Also, the state is making it easier to vote by mail for the upcoming election.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

In the midst of nationwide protests and demands for police reforms, Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot expressed their support for possibly requiring police officers to be licensed by the state.  Also, as Illinois continues to see a decrease in COVID-19 metrics in Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan, other states are seeing a significant spike in cases and deaths.  Meanwhile, Governor Pritzker signed off on an uncertain state budget.

WBEZ's Tony Arnold joins the panel this week.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Protests and in some cities looting and destruction the past week in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police have taken place nationwide and in Illinois.  On this week's program, a discussion of the causes and consequences, and the reactions of the Governor and the Mayor of Chicago.

The Chicago Sun Times' Maudlyne Ihejirika joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As Illinois enters Phase Three of "Restore Illinois", Governor Pritzker is responding to  criticism and lawsuits surrounding his re-opening plan.  Meanwhile, the Illinois General Assembly wrapped up its short special legislative session last weekend after passing a state budget. The panel also discusses a controversy over whether or not lawmakers will see their pay go up.

Capitol News Illinois’ Rebecca Anzel joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois legislature gathered in Springfield for the first time in weeks for a short special session.  Among the issues facing lawmakers are further responses to the pandemic, rules for voting this November, and the state budget.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Governor J.B. Pritzker's "Restore Illinois" plan to slowly re-open the state's economy is facing resistance from several quarters.  Meanwhile, the Illinois Legislature is preparing for an abbreviated session in Springfield next week.

Mark Maxwell, Capitol Bureau Chief for WCIA-TV, joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, Governor J.B. Pritzer announced a plan to re-open the state in stages and by region, depending on continued progress in limiting the spread of the new coronavirus.  

Capitol News Illinois’ Rebecca Anzel and reporter Bill Wheelhouse join the panel.
 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Governor J.B. Pritzker is extending his “Stay-at-Home” order for another month in the face of lawsuits and complaints that he has exceeded his authority.  Joining the panel this week is Greg Hinz, a columnist writing about government and politics for Crain’s Chicago Business.

The panel talks about the legal challenges to the governor's order, when and how the Illinois legislature might reconvene and a big borrowing package being pushed by the Pritzker Administration.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that he is amending and extending his Stay-at-Home directive through May 30th.  The Daily Line's Hannah Meisel joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Budget Office released its estimates of Illinois’ budget shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic for this fiscal year and next fiscal year, and they’re in the billions of dollars.  Meanwhile, the state is considering how and when to reopen the economy.  From Chicago, WBEZ’s Dave McKinney joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Concerns over the Illinois state budget are growing with the increasing impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s economy. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing every day, Governor J.B. Pritzker’s statewide “Stay at Home” order has been extended until April 30th.  Hospital capacity is being increased, many businesses are struggling, and an unprecedented number of people have filed for unemployment in the past week.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads and the number of confirmed cases and deaths in Illinois increases, the state faces a growing medical, social, and economic crisis.  Governor J.B. Pritzker is urging people to abide by his "Stay at Home" order and calling on the federal government for more help.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinoisans voted in the primary election as COVID-19 continued its spread across the state.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois takes drastic steps to slow the spread of coronavirus disease, including banning sporting events and other large gatherings. Meanwhile, politicians are deciding how to campaign amid a global pandemic with just days to go before Illinois’ primary election.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

With new cases of the coronavirus disease known as COVID-19, Illinois public health officials say the question of the virus spreading here is no longer a question of if, but when and how widely. At least two Chicago conventions were canceled, though officials say the risk to most Illinoisans remains low.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois House voted this week to ban red-light cameras in some of the state’s communities, but the legislation leaves out Chicago and some of the biggest suburbs.

Meanwhile, reproductive health activists lined up behind a push to bring comprehensive health and sexual education to all public school kids in Illinois, from grades K-12.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker presents his budget to the General Assembly, WBEZ reports on another trove of emails to and from Speaker Michael Madigan's top aides, and former Gov. Rod Blagovich gets an early release from prison.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week a bipartisan group of Illinois lawmakers introduced a constitutional amendment that would create an independent commission to draw the boundaries of legislative districts.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A former legislative ethics watchdog calls out the Ethics Commission, former state Rep. Luis Arroyo pleads not guilty (but is thought to be cooperating with the feds), and Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants Illinois to supplant Iowa and New Hampshire at the front of the presidential primaries.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker focused on corruption in his State of the State address this week, a day after former state Sen. Martin Sandoval pleaded guilty to soliciting bribes for doing his job.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

State Sen. Don Harmon is now president of the Illinois Senate. Meanwhile, state officials say more than 500 non-citizens were inadvertently registered to vote.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

More fallout from the “rape in Champaign” email: Ag Director John Sullivan is out.

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