Sean Crawford

Director of Editorial / COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD, EX-OFFICIO

Chatham

Sean has led the NPR Illinois news operations since the fall of 2009. He replaced the only other person to do so in the station's history, Rich Bradley. Prior to taking over the News Department, Sean worked as Statehouse Bureau Chief for NPR Illinois and other Illinois Public Radio stations. He spent more than a dozen years on the capitol beat.

Sean  began his broadcasting career at his hometown station in Herrin, Illinois while still in high school.  It was there he learned to cover local government, courts and anything else that made the news.  He spent time in the Joliet area as News Director and Operations Manager for a radio station and worked for a chain of weekly newspapers for two years.  Along with news coverage, he reported heavily on sports and did on-air play by play. 

Sean holds a Master's Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield. 

Illinois State Fair crowd
flickr/Randy VonLiski - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

State fairgoers will get a break on admission, at least for part of this year's event.  The State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon announced today that daily admission will be lowered to $5 for adults on Sunday through Thursday.  That's half the regular price.  Senior admission will remain $3 and children 12 and younger get in free.  Gordon said the change is an attempt to make the fair a more affordable, family-friendly experience.  

Fair attendance was down 8% last year compared to 2017.  Many vendors complained about the slow foot traffic.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Republicans are trying to get back in on next year's budget negotiations. Meanwhile, as red states compete to place more and more restrictins on abortion, activists want Illinois to move the other way.

Families of those who died at the Quincy Veterans’ Home during a Legionnaire's Disease outbreak are still upset.  Those deaths happened on the Rauner Administration’s watch.  But now they are questioning if the new governor is doing enough.  

Four women who are friends -- and also state lawmakers -- talk about how working on a key piece of legislation has brought them closer together.

And in southern Illinois, one of the oldest homes still standing is state-owned.  But there appears to be no plan for what's known as the Old Slave House. 

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

outside of house
Courtesy of Byron Hetzler/Southern Illinoisan

One of the oldest buildings remaining in southern Illinois is home to a lot of history.  It’s called the Crenshaw House, because it was owned by John Crenshaw, who made his money running salt mines. 

But it’s probably better known as the Old Slave House.  For decades, the house - in Gallatin County ironically near a community called Equality - was privately owned and open for public tours.  Stories that slaves had been held captive inside were passed along. 

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois gets an April surprise — $1.5 billion in unexpected revenue — as lawmakers debate what the windfall means. The public also got its first look at the long-anticipated language in a proposal that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Meanwhile, an audit found that child abuse and neglect investigations suffered during the budget impasse of 2015-17, and lawmakers advanced legislation that would more than double the gas tax in order to pay for infrastructure building and repair.

Imagine being put in a postion where you could lose your job and face legal repercussions for helping save the life of a young student.  That was the predicament an Illinois school nurse found herself in when a crisis happened.  She tells her story, which may lead to a rule change.

We look back at the dangerous derecho, which some say resembled an inland hurricane, that struck southern Illinois in May of 2009.  What happened and what lessons were learned.

That and more on this week's Statewide.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Listen to a special State Week, recorded in front of an audience at the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices state historic site in downtown Springfield.

Host Sean Crawford, along with regular panel members Brian Mackey, Daisy Contreras and Charlie Wheeler, are joined by guest Hannah Meisel of The Daily Line. The discussion focused on the governor’s push for a graduated income tax and Senate Democrats pushing it through that chamber. You'll also hear about prospects for recreational marijuana, sports betting, a capital construction program and more.

With Illinois lawmakers negotiating over a plan to make recreational marijuana use legal, public radio stations throughout the state focused on the issue.  Reporters delved into various angles and points of view.  The result was the series The State of Cannabis, which aired throughout Illinois this past week.

On this special episode of Statewide, we highlight that reporting.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois’ former legislative inspector general went public this week with a complaint that one of her reports was buried. She says the office is desperately in need of reform, and absent that, is effectively powerless.

Meanwhile, WBEZ-FM is reporting Gov. J.B. and First Lady M.K. Pritzker are under federal investigation for removing toilets from a mansion in order to lower their property tax bill.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's budget proposal would allow the state to spend more on pressing needs.  But that investment would come at a cost: shorting the state's already underfunded public pension systems.  We talk with the author of an analysis about what impact that would have for the future. 

And, with the state's teacher shortage worsening, what can be done to get people who aspire to be teachers into those classrooms?  In many cases, those individuals are already working at schools as paraprofessionals.  We'll meet one.    

Those stories and more on this week's Statewide.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey

Even though it’s the legislative spring break, there are several issues still to be negotiated, including a potential construction program funded with a gasoline tax, legalization of recreational marijuna, dealing with the state’s growing pension debt, and what to do about a declining population.

Technology means we are no longer disconnected.  Being able to receive good news anywhere, and sharing it with others, can be a thrill.  But what about bad news, like a college rejection notice?  It's happening for many through email and some believe that puts more stress on today's students.  We have a report.

And this week marked 154 years since the death of Abraham Lincoln.  We hear from a researcher who found out how the average American at the time dealt with the tragedy.  Not all of them mourned the 16th president.  

Those stories and more on this week's Statewide:

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot spends two days meeting with Illinois lawmakers. How much of her agenda runs through Springfield?

Meanwhile, Democrats began moving on a centerpiece of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's agenda: a constitutional amendment that would pave the way for a graduated income tax.

Illinois is a long state.  Those in southern Illinois are closer to Tennessee than Chicago.  And the political leanings can be just as far apart.  We talk with a state lawmaker who has signed on to a plan calling for Chicago to be separated from the rest of Illinois.  He adds he joined the effort because it's time to start a conversation over policy.  

Coming together can be difficult - even more so when we talk about consolidating school districts.  It might save money, but that's just one consideration.  

Also, R. Kelly made a visit to Springfield in the past week, meeting with fans at a nightclub.  The R and B singer's career is reeling from legal trouble. 

Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide.

CDDavidsmeyer.org

There’s a civil war of sorts under way in Illinois – pitting Chicago against much of the rest of the state.  This dispute is one of politics and policy and it has even led to a resolution being filed by a group of Republicans that would split Illinois into two separate states.    

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Lori Lightfoot was elected mayor of Chicago this week, trouncing Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

How’d she win? What’s her agenda? And what kind of city council will she have to work with?

Two proposals to raise Illinois' tax on gasoline have surfaced as a way to help pay for a public works program.  Lawmakers and the governor are pushing to get a plan in place during this legislative session, which ends in May.

And, a cancer survivor and author explains how finding perspective can help all of us during our darkest times. That and more on this episode of Statewide.

Courtney Clark

She’s battled cancer 3 times and a brain aneurysm.  And yet, Courtney Clark keeps a positive outlook on life.  The author will speak in Springfield at the Women’s Power Lunch Against Cancer, sponsored by the Simmons Cancer Institute, on April 12. 

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey

This week, rallies at the statehouse over gun rights and abortion; still more questions about legalized sports betting; and despite the launch of a new awreness campaign, another State Trooper killed by a semi-trailer on the highway.

This baseball season marks a century since the infamous Black Sox scandal.  Ballplayers and gamblers colluded to throw the World Series.   It's recounted in the book and movie titled "Eight Men Out."  But new research sheds light on the story we thought we knew.  

Also, some believe one way to solve the teacher shortage is to reduce test requirements for teachers.  We look at the proposals under considertion.  

That and more on this week's Statewide.

SABR

This baseball season marks 100 years since what may be the darkest moment in the history of our national pastime.

Some members of the Chicago White Sox, including the great Shoeless Joe Jackson, threw the World Series.  The story has become well known through a book, and later a movie titled “Eight Men Out”, named for the number of players later banned from baseball for their roles in the gambling scheme. 

But does that story match reality?  New research sheds light on what took place -- and what didn’t. 

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey

Among the subjects discussed this week: medical and recreational marijuana, an anti-abortion rally at the capitol building, Illinois' teacher shortage, and legalizing sports gambling.

 When does freedom of speech and academic freedom go too far? The argument is playing out on college campuses across the country, including right here in Illinois.  In some cases, it's pitting students against professors and universities.

Also, we've been hearing about the decline of the bee population for years.  An Illinois graduate student wants to find out what beekeepers are seeing and build a database. 

That and more on this week's Statewide.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly was busy this week, passing legislation intended to fight gender pay inequity, teach LGBT history, and raise the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

The panel also discusses NPR Illinois' recent series examining Gov. J.B. Pritzker's proposed tax increases and expansions.

Despite all the focus on solving the state's teacher shortage, a new survey finds the problem is getting worse. That has sparked more discussion on how to recruit more teachers.  We'll hear why some want to change teacher licensing standards. 

We also get a recap of the 2018 governor's race, which saw spending at record-setting levels.  And we learn how one community is coping with a rise in gun violence.  

That and more on this week's Statewide:

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has finally revealed a few details about his plans to change the Illinois income tax. He's asking the General Assembly and voters to approve a constitutional amendment making the flat tax into one that's graduated, where the wealthy pay higher rates.

Video gambling has exploded across much of Illinois.  The machines are available at corner bars, neighborhood restaurants and more.  That means they are easily accessible to the people who are addicted to gambling.  Is the state doing enough to help those individuals?  We have a report.  

And Governor J.B. Pritzker has ideas to raise more money for the state.  More gambling is one of his proposals. We look at that and a few of his other plans.  

That and more on this week's Statewide.

Less than two years removed from a state budget impasse, social service agencies are still trying to rebound.  That includes mental health providers who say the state needs to put more money into the system.  

Also, about 40 percent of corn grown in the U.S. is turned into ethanol.  But with electric vehicles becoming more popular, the switch has repercussions in Illinois and the rest of the Corn Belt.  

That and more on this week's Statewide.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's first budget proposal is calling for new taxes, more spending, and a series of moves around state pensions. But that's all a placeholder as he begins a push to change Illinois' flat income tax to one where the wealthy pay more.

We'll analyze what he said, what he didn't say, and what's next for Illinois' ailing finances.

In Illinois, Democrats control the General Assembly and have for years.  The rest of the country is now following suit, with one party control in all but one legislature.  We discuss the "all or none" phenomenon and if it's here to stay. 

We also recap Gov. J.B. Pritzker's first budget address and an historic discovery that provides a view of St. Louis' baseball past.

That and more on this episode of Statewide: 

Pages