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. 

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.

On this episode, while President Donald Trump has rejected the scientific evidence of climate change, nearly half of his voters — many in Midwestern states — believe in global warming. This bucks stereotypes about a rural voting bloc that doesn’t care about the environment. However, don't expect all of them to use the term "climate change."

Also, a major warehouse fire is believed to have destroyed thousands of original master recordings, including many from the legendary Chicago rock and blues label Chess Records.   We find out why that matters.  

That and more more on this week's Statewide.

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When it comes to the battle against distracted driving, Illinois is taking it up a notch.   

Univ. of Illinois

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Jurors deliberated less than 90 minutes before returning a guilty verdict Monday at the federal death-penalty trial of a former University of Illinois doctoral student who killed a visiting scholar from China after abducting her at a bus stop as she headed to sign an off-campus apartment lease.

Members of AFSCME Council 31 have a new  labor deal with the State of Illinois, according to the union. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois is investing $29 million to try to get an accurate count in the 2020 Census. On the line are two seats in Congress and the Electoral College.

Officials with Western Illinois Unviersity will be looking for a new president after Jack Thomas announced his resignation.  Thomas' tenure was rocky at the school that has campuses in Macomb and the Quad Cities.  His replacement will deal with an institution still trying to rebound from a state budget impasse and enrollment declines. The WIU Board Chair gives his view of the situation.

We also check in on a new law requiring cursive writing be taught in schools. But just because kids are shown how to do it, will they use it once classes are over?   

That and more on this week's Statewide. 

Megadeth

The heavy metal band Megadeth announced today they are canceling most of their shows for the year following lead singer Dave Mustaine’s throat cancer diagnosis. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker this week signed a bill to make what he and activists say is the most progressive abortion-rights law in the country. But could Democrats risk a backlash by going too far? And what are they targeting next?

Our Education Reporter Dusty Rhodes examines what's wrong with the teacher pension system in Illinois and why it needs to be fixed soon.  

Also, gambling addicts are warning the state's gambling expansion will result in more compulsive bettors. And, the governor signs the most comprehensive abortion rights law in the country. That and more on this episode of Statewide.

American Alliance of Museums

Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko has been appointed to the position following a nationwide search.  

The heavy and frequent rains across the midwest has resulted in flooding here in Illinois and farmers being unable to get crops in the field.  But there has been another impact: bugs.  Specifically, flying insects like gnats and mosquitoes.  We talk with an entomologist about the swarms and how long they might last.

More casinos and legal sports wagering.  That's the result of a gambling package the General Assembly approved.  

And Steak n Shake, founded in Normal 85 years ago, is facing problems that put the future of the chain in doubt.  That and more on this week's Statewide.

Centers for Disease Control

All the rain that has fallen in the midwest this year has led to flooding and kept farmers from fields.  But there's also another result: more flying insects.  

For many, being outside for even brief periods has meant fighting off swarms.  

Courtesy Betty Churchman Coonrod

Governor J.B. Pritzker is calling in more reinforcements to help fight flooding.    

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Brian Mackey

Note: The show was taped during the noon hour on Friday, while debate and negotiations at the Statehouse were still ongoing.

On the final day of the Regular Legislative Session, lawmakers continued to work on finalizing the state budget, along with votes still to come on a constitutional amendment to switch Illinois to a graduated income tax, legalization of marijuana, expansion of gambling, and abortion legislation.  WTTW's Amanda Vinicky joins the panel.

A key argument against a graduated income tax, where those who earn more pay a higher percentage, is that individuals who have the resources will leave the state to relocate somewhere cheaper.  But the same was said when Illinois bumped up its tax rates under the flat tax system earlier this decade.  An analysis finds the number of higher income taxpayers actually went up.  

And, the invasive Asian carp have taken over several waterways in the midwest, threatening native species and throwing off the delicate ecological balance.  Could an industry based all the way on the east coast be at least part of a solution? 

We'll tackle that and more on this week's Statewide.

State of Illinois

Governor J.B. Pritzker has called up roughly 200 guard soldiers as near record crests are predicted along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.   The soldiers are being deployed to perform duties like sandbagging, levee reinforcement and potential rescue efforts.  

Illinois Form 1040
NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers have approved a plan that could change how Illinois taxes income.   In the nearly 40 years the state has had an income tax, it’s been a flat tax.  That means no matter how much you earn, you pay the same percentage.

Now, Governor J.B. Pritzker and other advocates of a graduated tax say it’s time for a new approach.  

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly has just one week left in its spring legislative session, and the number of outstanding issues are beginning to pile up.

A graduated income tax constitutional amendment seems to be on track, but lawmakers are still hashing out details — and rounding up votes — on crafting state budget, funding an infrastructure program, legalizing marijuana, and expanding gambling.

Outside view of Decatur Memorial Hospital
Facebook/DMH

Decatur Memorial Hospital will become part of Memorial Health System, based in Springfield.  The announcement was made Thursday and is scheduled to take effect October 1, pending regulatory approval.

Six individuals were recently awarded the Order of Lincoln, a prestigious honor in Illinois to recognize contributions and achievements.  Among those singled out was columnist George Will.  We listen to his remarks.  

And 1919 was so violent, it was given the nickname "The Summer of Red."  An Illinois author joins us to look back on an Illinois race riot that year.

That and more on this week's Statewide.

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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