Illinois Budget 2.22.10

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at Please check in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
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Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343,


Missouri paper discovers the power of Facebook during state wrestling coverage

Video: How the LEDE training program will help editors lead into next decade

Leadership Series 2010: The LEDE


Michael Reagan follows in his father’s footsteps

TAMPICO – It was the day after a snowstorm, but Michael Reagan received a warm welcome at Tampico, his father's birthplace, when he visited Feb. 6 on what would have been Ronald Reagan's 99th birthday. This was Michael Reagan's first visit to his father's early stomping grounds. Tampico, population 800, is where the president spent the first three months of his life. The central Illinois town was the first stop of a bus tour of the former president’s connections to Illinois. By Catharine Schaidle of the Peoria Journal Star.


State Briefs: State Briefs have been eliminated due to lack of use. If you have questions, contact Casey Laughman.
This week at the statehouse:
For Tuesday:
HONEY PROTECTION: State lawmakers are considering a proposal to shield smaller beekeepers and honey producers, arguing state government's regulations shouldn't interfere with those who raise small numbers of bees and produce and sell small amounts of honey. A look at why this is needed and who's behind it. By Matt Hopf of the State Capitol Bureau.


Snubbed by feds, cities try to track down new funding

ROCKFORD – Federal stimulus grants could have redrawn the map of freight rail lines throughout the Rockford area and truck routes around Rochelle. Instead, after the $108 million requests were rejected last week, it’s back to the drawing board. Rockford and Rochelle leaders will now look for other federal money, state aid, local resources and private investment to get the work done. By Thomas V. Bona of the Rockford Register Star. To localize: How are leaders trying to fund local projects that did not qualify for stimulus money?

State urged to chip in on greening of factories

ROCKFORD – A manufacturing education group is asking for $3 million in the state’s budget to help companies retool and refine their operations. The Peoria-based Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center needs the money to leverage up to $4.5 million in federal grants, said Tucker Kennedy, IMEC vice president of marketing and public relations. The state funding, plus investments from the private sector, allows IMEC to work with companies to invest in efficiency and cost-cutting initiatives. By Sean F. Driscoll of the Rockford Register Star. To localize: Check with local companies to see if they work with the IMEC.


Now hear this: Protect your hearing while rocking out

SPRINGFIELD – When classic rock bands REO Speedwagon, Styx and .38 Special perform in Springfield on Thursday, the music likely will be loud. Anyone who's ever been to a similar concert, or worked at a construction site or blared the car radio with the windows up, has probably experienced a whirring, swishing, buzzing, ringing sound that originates in the ear or head. It's called tinnitus. To help individuals avoid hearing damage, audiologists tout the benefits of hearing protection. By Sara Browning of the State Journal-Register.

High schoolers design house interior for upcoming trade show

EAST PEORIA – For more than a month, Lindsey Semonski and Spencer Strickler, both 17 and students at East Peoria Community High School, have been designing the interior of a new house. But this isn't just any house. It is the Homeway Homes house set to rise later this week inside the Peoria Civic Center as the centerpiece of the Home Builder's Association of Greater Peoria's 2010 Spring Home Show. By Leslie Williams of the Peoria Journal Star.

Longtime comic book reader is now an author

SPRINGFIELD – Bruce Brown of Springfield first discovered comic books as a child. A specialist recommended them to Brown’s parents to help their son overcome some reading difficulties. Now he not only enjoys reading comic books, he writes them, too. Brown’s latest graphic novel, released earlier this year, is “Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom.” By Dan Naumovich of the State Journal-Register.

Home water treatment systems can offer some assurance

PEORIA – Doug and Eileen Leunig have a simple and reasonable philosophy about exposure to toxic chemicals: avoid what you can and minimize what you can't avoid. The two Caterpillar Inc. retirees are fine art photographers who travel extensively. When home in Peoria, they want their tap water to be as pure as possible and that includes showering in chlorine-free water. Chlorine exposure, they concluded, was something they could reasonably avoid. By Clare Howard of the Peoria Journal Star.


BRITT: Local toon.
Jeff Vrabel: There’s room on the Slovakia bandwagon

Ladies and gentlemen, if you are not on it already, it is time to join me on the Slovak Train to Olympic Glory, departing twice daily, choo choo. There is always room, we are a welcoming if hirsute people and what we offer in warm greetings, a genial nature and wildly delightful gypsy-folk music will easily make up for the smell of much of what we cooking.

Julie Kaiser: A hot glue gun must mean it's school project time

February is the month for elementary school “do-it-at-home” projects. The child dreams up a creative idea and then hopes his parents are talented enough to help him implement it. With open house on the horizon, the teachers were doubling up on us. But we were prepared.

Editorial: Ryan deserves no pension, no pardon

George Ryan won’t be getting a pension anymore from the state of Illinois. Friday’s 6-1 ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court closes that chapter of Ryan’s quest to get what he thinks he deserves. However, there are Ryan friends who want President Barack Obama to pardon the former governor. The president should deny the request. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.

Editorial: Efforts to weaken FOIA are a mistake

There was hope that the passage of reforms to Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act might someday lead to a new culture of openness in state and local government. It’s safe to say that culture change hasn’t yet started to happen. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.

Editorial: Illinois Senate decides your money is not your business

We can think of nothing less secret than the oozing, festering sore that is the state’s financial condition. And yet, the Illinois Senate held a secret, closed-door meeting last week to hear from the National Conference of State Legislatures, which has tracked financial messes across the country. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.

Editorial: Lawmakers must do public's business in public

Never mind that the Illinois Constitution says that "sessions of each house of the General Assembly and meetings of committees, joint committees and legislative commissions shall be open to the public." Forget for a moment that we citizens pay the salaries of lawmakers and that they work for us. In Illinois, if legislators are intent on having a closed-door meeting, well dadgummit they'll find a way, unconstitutional and just fundamentally wrong though it may be. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.


HITTING THE ROAD: Illinois plays at Michigan on Tuesday in a crucial Big Ten Conference road game. The Illini want to duplicate the effort given in a loss at Purdue on Saturday. Meanwhile, Michigan has been underwhelming this season. With preview capsule.

WITH THE ILLINI: If Demetri McCamey wants to check his position with the NBA, coach Bruce Weber would do it after the season. Honest information, Weber said, is better than what McCamey might hear on the street. Lead to multi-sport notebook. By John Supinie.