Sean Crawford

Director of Editorial / COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD, EX-OFFICIO

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. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

As the statewide COVID-19 positivity rate continues to drop, mitigation measures are being relaxed and plans are being made to increase the distribution of the vaccine.

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

The heartbreaking story of Yingying Zhang is told in an award winning documentary.  It gives an intimate look at the University of Illinois student who was kidnapped and murdered in 2017.   

The film introduces viewers to Yingying through personal writings and shows the toll her death has taken on her family and friends.  We talk with the director.    

Research shows family doctors in rural parts of Illinois are often more trusted by their patients than public health officials.  That makes them even more important in dealing with one of the most vaccine-hesitant groups.   

Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, Illinois lawmakers wrapped up the work of the 101st General Assembly.  And there is  a new House Speaker - Chris Welch - after Michael Madigan lost the support of his caucus after nearly four decades in power.

Rich Miller of Capitol Fax joins the panel.

The news hit like an earthquake in state government this week.  Michael Madigan, who was first elected Illinois House Speaker in 1983, stepped aside when it became clear he couldn't obtain the needed votes from his own Democratic members.  We look back at what happened and reflect on Madigan's career.

Remote learning has been a bumpy experiment for many teachers, students and parents.  We detail some of the problems it has exposed and some lighter moments from online schooling.

And, now that it's legal to grow, is hemp closer to becoming the cash crop many have touted?  

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

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The following is a commentary from Dr. Robert Smith, Dean of the College of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Illinois Springfield.

 

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A total of 36 residents at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home have died since the fall from the coronavirus disease, placing a spotlight on how the facility handled health and safety protocols.  Just hours after being grilled at a state legislative hearing on the matter Monday, the agency’s director, Linda Chapa LaVia, stepped down with an announcement made in a news release from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Administration.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Amidst the turmoil in Washington DC, the Illinois Legislature meets this week for a lame duck session, with questions about who will be House Speaker and which direction the Illinois Republican Party will go.

Chris Mooney, Professor of State Politics in the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, joins the panel.

Reporting on gun violence in Chicago primarily focuses only on those killed.  But shooting survivors often struggle to come to terms with what happened.  In some cases, it takes years to overcome the trauma.  Others never get past it.  A shooting survivor shares his story. 

Illinois was struggling to attract and keep teachers prior to last year.  The pandemic has made things worse.  We'll hear some possible solutions. 

And a journalist who covered the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention shares his thoughts on the work done more than 50 years ago and how it has held up through the years.  

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

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Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar of downstate Bunker Hill announced Monday he will resign from the General Assembly effective Jan. 17 to join the governor’s office as an advisor two days later.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The panel marks the end of 2020 and looks ahead to 2021, joined by Amanda Vinicky of Chicago's WTTW.

It has been a year since Illinois legalized recreational adult use cannabis.  And despite the pandemic, marijuana sales beat expectations.  We'll hear from a reporter who covers the industry about where it goes from here.

We'll also learn about a mental health crisis clinic in central Illinois.  

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, Washington D.C. worked on a new COVID-19 pandemic stimulus package, while the first batch of vaccines continue to be distributed to health care workers.  Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is facing criticism for her handling of a new scandal involving the Chicago Police Department.

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


 

There is a lot of incivility in the public sphere and that includes comments about politicians.  While their decisions are fair game for critiques, often it gets more personal.  That includes attacks on their appearance.  Take Gov. J.B. Pritzker for example.   Some have used derogatory terms to poke fun at his weight.  A newspaper columnist says it's no laughing matter.  

We also recall the violent and bloody era of prohibition-era gangsters in southern Illinois.  

That and more on this week's Statewide.

On this episode of Statewide, the Bergner's chain liquidated in 2018, the final chapter in a retail history that dated back to the 1800s.  For some communities, Bergner's was a an anchor store in a shopping mall.  In Peoria, where it all began, the name meant a lot more.  We'll talk with a Peoria journalist about Bergner's -- from its start through its heyday -- and how it all ended.

We'll also recall the holiday shopping traditions at the former Marshall Field's in Chicago. 

And we'll look back on the year in Springfield with various community leaders and their hopes for 2021 in the capital city.  

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, Governor JB Pritzker ordered Illinois National Guard medical personnel to the state's four veterans' homes following a deadly outbreak in the LaSalle facility amid criticism from Republican lawmakers.  Also, Michael Madigan continued to resist calls for him to step down as Speaker of the House.

Capitol News Illinois' Jerry Nowicki joins the panel.

It was a foggy, rainy night December 13, 1977. The University of Evansville's men's basketball team boarded a planed, heading for an away game.  But soon after takeoff, the plane crashed killing all 29 people aboard.  We'll hear from those on the scene and a documentary about that tragic event. 

We'll also listen to a nurse, who explains the difficulty of doing her job in a pandemic. 

And Amanda Knox, who was exonerated after her wrongful conviction in a high profile murder case, talks with us about her experience and concerns about prosecutors, the court system and the media.    

Those stories and more on this week's Statewide.  

UIS

The interim chancellor at the University of Illinois Springfield will stay in that role for a longer period.   

The university announced Monday that Karen Whitney will have her contract extended until June 2022. 

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Brian Mackey

This week, investigations began into the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the La Salle Veterans' Home investigation, while Michael Madigan continued to lose support for his role as House Speaker in his own caucus amid the ComEd bribery scandal.

Rachel Hinton of the Chicago Sun-Times joins the panel.

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The Illinois Senate Democrats will keep their new leader in the new year. Don Harmon of Oak Park became Senate President earlier this year when former President John Cullerton retired.

Harmon’s caucus supported him during a private meeting Thursday.  

The Senate Democrats saw a drawn-out internal battle to replace Cullerton, but ultimately Harmon was elected. Since then, however, the caucus seems to have united behind him. There has been more churn in other caucuses.

An analysis of COVID-19 data shows not-for-profit nursing homes in Illinois have done a better job at controlling coronavirus infections and deaths than other facilities. But when it comes to choosing one over the other, it's not so simple.  

We'll also get caught up on a political scandal that has shaken Illinois politics. 

Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide." class="wysiwyg-break drupal-content" src="/sites/all/modules/contrib/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif" title="<--break-->">

This week's lineup:

The pandemic has forced more students and teachers to go online.  That hasn't been easy.  But it's also a challenge for parents, juggling work and making sure their kids keep up with their studies.  A reporter shares her story.

We also look back at an incident in Springfield involving President John F. Kennedy, one year before his assassination. 

That and more on this week's Statewide.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Hospital beds across the state continue to fill with COVID-19 patients, and an investigation has been announced to look into the deadly breakout in the LaSalle Veterans' Home.  Michael Madigan says he has no intention of stepping down as House Speaker, although he may not have the votes needed to keep that position the next time the Legislature meets.

WBEZ's Dave McKinney joins the panel this week.

Brian Mackey

Illinois will borrow $2 billion more from the Federal Reserve to pay bills associated with COVID-19, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday.

This week, a Michael Madigan confidant and three others were indicted in an alleged bribery scheme that prosecutors say also involved the powerful House Speaker, known as Public Official A in federal documents. 

Madigan again denied he's done anything wrong and he's not been charged.  But more House Democrats have publicly pulled their support for him, making it seem less likely he can win another term in the leadership post in January.  There have also been calls for him to resign as the state's Democratic Party Chairman. 

Our panel discusses Madigan's future and whether his long tenure in politics is about to end.  

In a divided country, it's easy to point fingers and throw around blame.  Those who work in government are often targets.  But a new award will recognize those who do the public good.  Former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar joins us to talk about the award named after him and the late U.S. Senator Paul Simon.

And we'll learn about two middle-aged white women, who refer to themselves as vandals, for taking it upon themselves to change the name of a park that honored a former slaveholder.  

Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide.

In a divided country, it's easy to point fingers and throw around blame.  Those who work in government are often targets.  But a new award will recognize those who do the public good.  Former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar joins us to talk about the award named after him and the late U.S. Senator Paul Simon.

And we'll learn about two middle-aged white women, who refer to themselves as vandals, for taking it upon themselves to change the name of a park that honored a former slaveholder.  

Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide.

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Brian Mackey

This week, Governor J.B. Pritzker admonished Illinoisans who continue to flout COVID-19 mitigation measures and warned that he soon may have no choice but to order another stay-at-home directive.  Meanwhile, the Pritzker administration is left with a huge budget problem to deal with, especially with the failure of the governor's proposed graduated income tax amendment.

Dan Vock, reporter and author of the States of Crisis newsletter, joins the panel.
 

The coronavirus knows no age limits.  This week on Statewide, we bring you the story of Dani Kater,  McLean County's youngest victim.  Her family recalls a woman in her 30's with no underlying health conditions who passed away this month.

We'll also hear how the pandemic has made it more difficult for those battling addiction.  But also why some say treatment has prepared them for what was to come. 

And a conversation with the next Illinois Senate Republican Leader. 

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Brian Mackey

The election saw disappointing results for Democrats at the state level, especially the failure of Governor J.B. Pritzker's proposed change to a graduated income tax.  And House Speaker Michael Madigan is under increasing pressure to step down as head of the state Democratic party.

The State Journal-Register's Bernie Schoenburg joins the panel.

A proposal to change Illinois' constitution was unsuccessful this week.  It would have shifted Illinois away from a flat income tax, where everyone pays the same rate, to a graduated system with higher rates for wealthier individuals.  The governor made it a cornerstone of his effort to improve the state's budget picture. 

Why did it fail and how will it impact J.B. Pritzker's political capital going forward?  

That story and more on this week's Statewide.

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