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. 

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.

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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. 

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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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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.

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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:

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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.

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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: 

Pritzker at 2019 State of the State/Budget Address
Illinois.gov

GOV. PRITZKER’S FY20 BUDGET ADDRESS
 

Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton, Leader Durkin, Leader Brady, Lieutenant Governor Stratton, Attorney General Raoul, Secretary White, Comptroller Mendoza, Treasurer Frerichs, Members of the General Assembly, honored guests and citizens, and the extraordinary First Lady of Illinois, my wife MK. Thank you all for your warm welcome.

Flickr/TimCummins/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Red or blue.  And not much in between.  That describes statehouses in Illinois and across the country. Only one state, Minnesota, has Republicans and Democrats splitting legislative control.  

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Democrats in the Illinois House approved an increase in the state minimum wage. Assuming Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the legislation — he's said he will — the rate will gradually climb to $15 perhour in the year 2025;

Illinois' public school system is considered among the most inequitable in the country.  So, should top students at the poorest schools be penalized when it comes to college admissions?  A state lawmaker weighs in with his plan.

Also, infant mortality rates are much higher for black women.  We look at some of the reasons why.  That and more this week on Statewide.

Despite cold weather, dozens of volunteers bundle up and head out in Chicago neighborhoods to find young girls who are being trafficked for sex.  They are there to provide help for those who are looking for a way out.  Natalie Moore went along on a recent night in the Roseland neighborhood.  We'll hear what she learned.

Also, giving assistance to the homeless can go beyond food and shelter.  Mary Hansen focuses on a program that provides trauma therapy, which can get to the root problems that helpclead to homelessness. That and more this week.

Illinois 211

Monday February 11 is National 2-1-1 Day, calling attention to the program that connects residents with services.  It's available in most of the state outside of Chicago.

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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.

NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker tabbed a former lawmaker from western Illinois to lead the state's agriculture department.  We sit down with John Sullivan to get his thoughts on the ag economy and challenges facing farmers.  He also talks about the potential for industrial hemp and his agency's possible role if Illinois legalizes recreational marijuana use.

Perry Cline was addicted to drugs, served time in prison and was homeless.  But he turned things around and graduated from college.  We'll bring you his story and more on this week's Statewide.

National Weather Service

Get ready for the deep freeze.  Central and west central Illinois, along with much of the midwest, are in for bitterly cold weather.  

The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Warning for 9 p.m. Tuesday until 12 noon on Thursday.  

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