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

The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week that House Speaker Michael Madigan was recorded pitching his private legal services to someone wearing a wire for the federal government. It took place several years ago and the speaker has not been accused of wrongdoing.

It came as part of the investigation into the activities of Chicago Ald. Danny Solis, whose cooperation already led to corruption charges against Chicago Ald. Ed Burke.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker spent his second week in office taking actions to signal his support of progressive causes.

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Brian Mackey

This week, J.B. Pritzker was sworn in as Illinois' new governor, promising a progressive agenda. 

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Brian Mackey

A new General Assembly sworn in on the eve of a new Governor and administration.   Tina Sfondeles of the Chicago Sun-Times joins the panel.

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Brian Mackey

Chicago Ald. Ed Burke is accused of using his position to steer business to his law firm. The city's longest-serving alderman has ties across government in Illinois and the city — will there be other shoes to drop?

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Brian Mackey

A look back at the top stories in Illinois politics and government over the past year.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

After years of effort, a bipartisan coalition passed criminal justice reform legislation in Congress this week. Turns out the relationship between Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and presidential adviser/son-in-law Jared Kushner played a role in keeping the legislation on track.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker announced his ninth and tenth transition committees this week, including one on business issues and economic development. He also reiterated his committment to raising Illinois' hourly minimum wage to $15.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner held his first news conference since losing re-election. He would not say why he thinks he and his fellow Republicans lost, but he did tell reporters he's “scared” for the people of Illinois.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget office issued its final five-year forecast and the trends are not good. Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker is likely going to face an uphill climb toward meeting his campaign promises while coming anywhere close to balancing the state budget.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Commentary: Trying to impose his will rather than seeking compromise and calling counterparts corrupt got the one-term politician nowhere.

Like an actor in a Greek drama or a Shakespearean character, Gov. Bruce Rauner will leave office as a tragic figure, felled by his overriding hubris -- excessive pride or self-confidence, arrogance -- that led to his political downfall.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly rolled over Gov. Bruce Rauner in the first week of veto session, voting to override his vetos of more than three-dozen bills. But that's only half the game.

When lawmakers return for week two of veto session, the House and Senate will swap bills to complete the override process — will the governor fare any better then?

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

In the final days of the 2018 elections, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic nominee J.B. Pritzker are making their closing arguments.

National politicians like President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden were also in Illinois in the last week, mostly to stump for Congressional candidates as Democrats and Republicans vie for control of the U.S. House.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner gained attention — and generated outrage in some quarters — for an ad that used both profanity and a mock same-sex marriage to attack his Democratic opponent, J.B. Pritzker. Plus an update on the state of the race heading into the final week of campaigning.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Democratic candidate for Illinois governor is facing a racial discrimination lawsuit against his campaign — from 10 of his own campaign workers.

With early voting underway and less than three weeks until Election Day, he denies the allegations and is pushing back hard.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and his Democratic challenger, J.B. Pritzker, met in Quincy Thursday for the third and final debate of the 2018 elections. Did voters learn anything about either man’s policy preferences?

Plus, Illinois Democrats are trying to pick up as many as four Republican-held seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. And a new report says Chicago’s racial divides are holding back the city’s economy.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, major-party candidates Governor Bruce Rauner and his Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker engaged in their second televised debate, which excluded the other two candidates on the ballot.

WBEZ Public Radio's Dave McKinney joins the panel.

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Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

While debating, candidates offered no concrete suggestions for addressing fiscal problems but possibilities exist.

In today's fevered political climate, is it possible to have a serious discussion about possible ways to address the fiscal problems Illinois faces?

Not very likely, if one judges by the first debate among incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and his three challengers, Democrat J.B. Pritzker, Conservative candidate/Republican Sen. Sam McCann, and Libertarian Grayson "Kash" Jackson.

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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

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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