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. 

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.  

The number of news reporters has been declining for years – in print and broadcast, and markets of all sizes. One need only look at the Illinois State House Press Corps, whose numbers have dwindled from several dozen full-time, year-round reporters to a handful of credentialed journalists today, or the decreased size of local media news staff, to see the trend in our area.

What’s the impact on you - and the community? Research shows that fewer journalists mean less accountability of public officials. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker spent his second week in office taking actions to signal his support of progressive causes.

WBEZ

Ten years ago this month, Rod Blagojevich was impeached and removed as Illinois governor. Blagojevich was later convicted of corruption, including attempts to sell a U-S Senate seat.  He received a 14 year sentence and remains in prison. 

Reporter Dave McKinney covered it all as a statehouse reporter.   Today he works for public station WBEZ in Chicago and he has launched a podcast called Public Official A .  He recounts what happened a decade ago with updates from those who played a role in the story.

Segregation can be found all across the country.  But few might realize the level that exists in communities right here in Illinois.  An investigation finds many of Illinois' mid-sized cities rank among the most divided nationally. 

And there's a new podcast that tells the story of impeached governor Rod Blagojevich, from the point of view of those who were part of the story:  his wife Patti, federal agents, those who worked closely with him and more.  The first episode is already available with more to come.

Governing Magazine

Would you be surprised to learn that some of the most segregated communities in the country are right here in Illinois?   Places where the problem persists, and has so for years, with little improvement. 

Sean Crawford/NPR Illinois

With 600 miles of road within the city, getting a heavy amount of snow removed can take time.  But an online service allows you to monitor what's been plowed and what hasn't.  

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Brian Mackey

This week, J.B. Pritzker was sworn in as Illinois' new governor, promising a progressive agenda. 

This week on Statewide, we take a look at government now and in the past. 

The new governor, J.B. Pritzker, talks about some of the issues facing the state like criminal justice, higher education, taxes and ethics.   

Pritzker is from Chicago.  Most of the state's top leaders make that area their home.  But there was a time when some downstate politicians carried significant weight in the legislature.   We'll talk about that bygone era of downstate dealmakers.

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Brian Mackey

A new General Assembly sworn in on the eve of a new Governor and administration.   Tina Sfondeles of the Chicago Sun-Times joins the panel.

A new Illinois governor will be sworn in Monday.  When Democrat J.B. Pritzker assumes the role, his party will be in charge of the state in a way not seen in decades.   Democrats gained more seats in the General Assembly during the fall election and Republicans are mired in the super-minority in both chambers.  

National Weather Service

The first snowfall of the new year is expected to dump several inches this weekend on central Illinois.  

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Brian Mackey

Chicago Ald. Ed Burke is accused of using his position to steer business to his law firm. The city's longest-serving alderman has ties across government in Illinois and the city — will there be other shoes to drop?

Our first show of 2019 brings you more reports and conversations from in and around Illinois.

When it comes to Illinois state government over the past half century, James Nowlan has been both a watcher and participant. 

A national survey this past year showed how in the dark many people are when it comes to understanding who runs their state government and what they’re up to.

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