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. 

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.    

State Week logo (capitol dome)
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.

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:

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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.    

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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. 

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