City of Springfield

During a mayoral debate on Thursday night, candidates Paul Palazzolo and Jim Langfelder were both hesitant to criticize the Springfield City Council when asked what they thought was its biggest mistake.

Palazzolo says his biggest issue is the city's hiring of an inspector general and questions the need. He says an inspector general looks at past events. He would rather see funds go toward the hiring of a city planner.

"I think those funds are better spent in a proactive manner, rather than a reactive manner," Palazzolo said.

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Illinois' program that provides subsidized daycare for low-income families is out of cash. A Senate committee attempted to address the issue on Thursday.

Chandra Ankoor is a 24-year-old single mother from Springfield. While she is working, she sends her three daughters to child care that is partially paid for with the help of the state.

If it weren't for this assistance, she says it would cost her every dollar she makes, and then some, to afford the cost of child care.

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If Illinois had political gravity, it could be said that all things orbit around Chicago. Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife Diana vow to change all that by living in the mansion and running state government from Springfield.

  Some might find it surprising that a governor would need to make such a statement. The historic mansion, 150 years old and just a few blocks from the statehouse, is considered the official residence of the governor, but not all have made it their home.

The City of Springfield has reached a deal to have the former Esquire Theater demolished. 

The theater closed over a decade ago and the building has remained boarded up since then.  That's despite sitting along a busy stretch of MacArthur Boulevard near South Grand.   Alderman Joe McMenamin says the property's owner has agreed to tear down the building by spring.  The city's ordinance to begin fining vacant property owners was a factor.  He says the threat of fines also made potential buyers nervous:

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The mayor of Springfield took umbrage to a weekend editorial in the local paper.

The State Journal Register Sunday criticized the city for a lack of a comprehensive sewer program, following housing and street flooding after heavy rains in recent weeks.

Mayor Mike Houston called reporters together to remind them, as he approaches a re-election campaign, that the city is in the midst of a 10 year $60 million dollar borrowing program to fix some of the problem sewer systems.

It won't happen until 2015.  But the race for Springfield mayor is on.  So far, three candidates have announced they will seek the office.  Among them, the Sangamon County Auditor Paul Palazzolo.  He says if he's elected,  a major focus will be on growing the population. 

He says the city's medical district and other assets could help him reach his goal.  His target is to boost the number of residents from the current 117-thousand up to 124-thousand by the end of the decade.  

A new survey shows what Sangamon County residents think about their areas where they live.  Bill Wheelhouse talked with Ashley Kirzinger of the UIS Survey Research Office about the Springfield-Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission's Neighborhood Survey.

To view the survey click here

City of Springfield

Springfield mayor Mike Houston will seek another term.  Houston made the announcement earlier this morning.  He says he has righted the ship when it comes to city finances.

Houston is expected to face opposition.   
County Auditor Paul Palazzolo and City Treasuer Jim Langfielder have indicated they will run for the office as well.

Houston admits he broke a pledge to only serve one term.  He made that during the last campaign.  But he says some of his projects have taken longer than anticipated to accomplish.
 

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Summertime means Farmer's Markets.  Springfield has several, but a relatively new one has popped up on Springfield's east side.  Lee Strubinger sat down with Wendy White-Mitter and Mary Rogers from St. John's Hospital, which sponsors the market.  One of the challenges of the East Side Farmer's Market, they say, is that goes underutilized...

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

A long awaited children’s museum in Springfield is a step closer to becoming reality.   Construction on a building for the Kidzeum of Health and Science will begin this year.
 

A $1 million dollar grant from the state, along with an additional $675,000 in TIF funds from the city of Springfield, are enough to get the work underway.  The facility will occupy the old Schnepp and Barnes building,  a nearly 70 year old structure on East Adams in the downtown area.   

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A Springfield alderman wants to make sure that other insurance companies get the chance to cover CWLP properties for the city.

At the last city council meeting, aldermen approved a 3 year contract with R.W. Troxell to insure the city owned utility.  The cost is around $1.8 million per year.

Under city code, however, anything with a cost over 25 thousand dollars must be competitively bid.
Ward 7's Joe McMenamin says the Mayor's administration got around that caveat by claiming insurance is a service, rather than a purchase.

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One Springfield Alderman called the two zoning changes approved for halfway homes in Springfield during last night's council meeting as "picking and choosing."

Zoning classifications for halfway houses were called into question last fall when a man living in one, known as House of the Rainbow, was arrested for murder.  After that, the council refused to go along with zoning for that operation.   

Yet last night, changes were allowed for properties on East Jackson and South 11th.  

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The second ever Dumb Fest gets underway this afternoon at 3 p.m.  Forty bands will grace multiple stages on both Friday and Saturday.  
The festival is a part of the ever changing Southtown scene in Springfield, located at 11th and South Grand Avenue.  Lee Strubinger made his way to Dumb Records to sit down and talk with festival curator Brian Galecki.

City of Springfield

Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says silence from the council about reaffirming the NAPA contract signals permission to choose how to handle the $3,000,000 deal. 

He’s moving forward with it.

Springfield City Council had the chance to send a message to the mayor, but remained silent during the committee of the whole meeting on the issue.

After the meeting, Ward One Alderman Frank Edwards said because the city didn’t seek out bids from other companies, the NAPA contract puts the city in a bind.

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Springfield officials are considering adding a position that will take a closer look at misbehavior in city government.

The description of the investigator general job is still pretty vague, but the city has hired a consultant to outline how it will work.   City council members pointed to incidents such as the police file shredding scandal to show the need for the post.  

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

The political boundaries for Springfield aldermen have been set.  The city council approved a new ward map last night on a 9-1 vote.  It will take into account census data.  The map design also was done to ensure an African American represents Ward 2.  

City of Springfield

The state says there's no evidence of the intergovernmental agreement that Springfield officials relied on as the legal basis for the NAPA contract approved last month.

Last week, city attorneys asked the state to find proof of a state agreement with a national purchasing agency.  Earlier this month, some aldermen questioned the contract used to procure the 3 year, $3 million contract with NAPA Auto Parts.

The city got their answer today, a letter that indicates no trace of the agreement.

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

Despite the rain Tuesday morning, customers arrived in droves to the unveiling of the the new Springfield Hy-Vee supermarket along MacArthur boulevard. 

The city offered special tax incentives in hopes of spurring growth along MacArthur.

Springfield Alderman Cory Jobe was president of the MacArthur Boulevard Business Association when the idea to bring Hy-Vee about came around.  He says the building brings life to the core of the city.

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Those applying for video gaming licenses in the city will have deal with new parameters set up by the Springfield council.

Aldermen approved a measure that requires establishments with video gaming have to earn a least 60 percent of their revenue from food and beverage sales. 

Ward 6 alderman Cory Jobe says he’s hopeful no additional ordinances regulating video gaming will be needed.

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

Springfield has seen a recent spike in gun violence.  City and County officials are calling for a cease fire.

The Springfield Police Chief says there have been 20 shooting incidents since the beginning of March.  He says it has even involved local teenagers. 

Since summer break is approaching, the city says it’s developing a strategy for handling the violence.

Though no specifics on the strategy were given, Springfield Mayor Mike Houston says the city will come down hard on those taking part in gun crimes.

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

Planning is underway for next year's 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s funeral.

Despite concerns over gambling parlors cutting into the bottom line of local bars and restaurants, the Springfield City Council last night approved zoning changes to allow more of the establishments to open shop.  Aldermen Cory Jobe voted in favor, even though he's pushing an ordinance to require video gambling only at places that earn 60 percent or more of revenue from food and beverage sales. 

Jobe says the city is skirting the spirit of the law.  But he says there’s no conflict in his vote.

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Several Springfield Aldermen raised concerns about laying off three non-union employees if an agreement with NAPA Auto Parts goes through.

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

The Sangamon County Auditor says his experience at the county level makes him most qualified to be the city's top executive.

Spring rain held off at Lincoln Park as Paul Palazzolo officially announced his intent to run for mayor of Springfield next year.

Palazzolo served as Sangamon County Auditor since 2002 and says he has a track record of transparency.
Four years ago he said he was running for mayor, but dropped out after failing to get the backing of the county's GOP organization.  The mayor's office is officially non-partisan.    

The City of Springfield may be looking at setting a mandatory retirement age for all new police hires.  During Tuesday’s city council meeting, both the city’s mayor and police chief say they support a cut off at age 60.

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

The people of Ukraine ousted their President Viktor Yanukovych earlier this year.  Since then, Russia took over Ukraine's southern peninsula, Crimea.  While officials are trying to turn the country around, a group of delegates from the country made a visit to Washington and Springfield to observe democratic government in action. 

The Springfield Commission on International Visitors six Ukrainians to observe national, state and local government.

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Springfield Mayor Michael Houston celebrates his administration's accomplishments since he took office in 2011.  He addressed the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce in the Prairie Capital Convention Center.

 Audio FileFull audio of Mayor Houston's 2014 State of the City address to Chamber of CommerceEdit | Remove

springfield.il.us

The company that manages Springfield's workers comp caseload wants to go outside the county for a key hire.  City aldermen questioned that move last night.

The contract with Triune Health Group says the nurse representative it used must be in Sangamon County.  The company says the job is highly specialized and it can't find anyone within the county who is qualified.

Instead, the firm wants to use a nurse in Macon County.  Some aldermen at the committee of the whole meeting were left scratching their heads, since the Springfield area has a wealth of healthcare workers. 

cwlp

A majority of Springfield aldermen last night expressed doubt about an ordinance that would commit to building the second water source known as Hunter Lake. Council members voted down the plan.  
The city has long been concerned about finding a way to supplement Lake Springfield.   Recent droughts have added to the urgency.   

CWLP Director Eric Hobbie says regardless of the council’s vote, the city has to pursue a water supply alternative.

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A 300 page report by Illinois State Police investigating  alleged misconduct by two Springfield Police detectives Paul Carpenter and Jim Graham has been released. 

After several Freedom of Information Act requests by local  media outlets for several years, Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt ruled that the report should be made available to the public. 

Springfield Corporation Council Todd Greenburg says his office can review about 250 pages every 30 days, stretching release of the full document over nine months. 

Follow the link for the first installment. 

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