Illinois Budget 2.18.09

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,


Michigan paper breaks down the details for major development announcement.

News Service localization tip of the day: United Way shortfall.


List of lobbying clients provided by Burris doesn’t match public records

SPRINGFIELD – A list of lobbying clients that U.S. Sen. Roland Burris gave to state legislators doesn’t match records kept by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, the Cook County clerk or the Chicago Board of Ethics, all of which register lobbyists and keep track of their clients. By Bruce Rushton of the State Journal-Register.


State Briefs. News from around the state.

REFORM COMMITTEE: In the first of seven scheduled meetings, the legislature's newly created Joint Committee on Government Reform heard from several witnesses about weaknesses in the state's Freedom of Information and Open Meetings laws. Attorney General Lisa Madigan says she soon will unveil legislation that would impose fines on entities for violating FOIA laws. By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol bureau.

MANSION HELP: New Gov. Pat Quinn asks for volunteers to give tours at the Executive Mansion in Springfield during the upcoming tourist season. Brief. By Andrew Thomason of the State Capitol bureau.

Lawmakers spar over Burris documents

SPRINGFIELD – The ethical cloud swirling around U.S. Sen. Roland Burris prompted sparring between state lawmakers Wednesday over the legislature's involvement in the dispute. By Ryan Keith of the State Capitol bureau. Updated.

Police start cracking down on smoking in bars

PEORIA – After a year of all but ignoring the state's smoking ban, Peoria police appear to be assuming a much more aggressive stance toward bars where people still puff. More specifically, police are focused solely on bar owners and bartenders, rather than the smokers themselves. By Matt Buedel of the Peoria Journal Star. To localize: Check with police in your area to see if they are cracking down on public smoking now that enforcement has been clarified.


Ice cream shop owners defy conventional wisdom by opening in winter

PEORIA HEIGHTS – It's one thing to start your own business, but to open a high-end ice cream store in winter during the depths of an economic recession sounds like one of those TV challenge programs. But neither Jim Maxwell nor Tim Hennessey has been voted off the island, and the two Peorians have no regrets after opening their Emack & Bolio's ice cream franchise in December in Peoria Heights. By Steve Tarter of the Peoria Journal Star.

Cat, IDOT offer workshop for contractors

EDWARDS – Caterpillar Inc. and the Illinois Department of Transportation want to help disadvantaged business enterprises - minority- and female-owned businesses, also known as DBEs - handle some of the complicated details behind a successful contractor. By Terry Bibo of the Peoria Journal Star. To localize: Check with local businesses and trade organizations to see if similar workshops are planned for your area.


Volunteer sets his sights on the past

ROCKFORD – He’s been a banker, an insurance man and a journalist. Today, David Ruffin is a career volunteer. The 55-year-old Rockford native hasn’t held a traditional job for much of the past 10 years, after an accident left him blind in one eye. But rather than collect the government’s disability payments for doing nothing, he opted instead to devote his time to projects that would make his community a better place to live. By Elizabeth Davies of the Rockford Register Star.

Nurses show workers how to have a seat

BELOIT, Wis. – One look at an office worker sitting at their desk is all it takes for Cindy Groves and Lora Plude to know where that worker hurts at night. Groves and Plude are certified occupational health nurses. As part of their jobs at Beloit Memorial Hospital’s occupational health centers, they treat office workers who most often are in pain from musculoskeletal injuries to the neck, elbows, shoulders and lower back. For nearly 15 years, they also have taught seminar classes on computer terminal fitness designed to keep others off the injured list. By Mike DeDoncker of the Rockford Register Star.

Chef gives up work in top restaurants to teach at a shelter

Springfield native Timothy Tucker has worked as a chef in some of the best restaurants in the country. But he’s chosen a job at a homeless shelter, where he teaches culinary skills to people seeking employment. By Kathryn Rem of the State Journal-Register.

Kathryn Rem: Grocery stores say refrigerated dog food is a big seller

SPRINGFIELD – You would expect to find hot dogs, ground beef and pork chops in a supermarket’s refrigerated cases. But some stores are adding a meat cooler in an unexpected location: the pet-food aisle.

More Sham, less Wow

The ShamWow! claims to be a super-absorbent towel that can be used on everything from spills and stains to drying dishes and dogs. But does it live up to the hype? Not exactly. State Journal-Register. With video.


BRITT: Toon on Reps. Aaron Schock and John Shimkus trying to kill the economic stimulus bill.

Amanda Jacobs: These days, someone's always watching - or listening

Poor Michael Phelps. Just a few short months ago, he was America’s golden boy, and now his life has become a cautionary tale out of “Reefer Madness.”

Dave Bakke: Busted elbow doesn't stop quest for citizenship

After 30 years of living in the United States, Usa Milner decided she would become an American citizen. What’s more, Usa decided that she would become an American citizen on Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday. Not even a dislocated elbow on the morning of the naturalization ceremony could stop her.

Editorial: Burris proves he's unfit to serve

The questions swirling around Sen. Roland Burris and his constantly changing story on what contact he had with Rod Blagojevich's administration prove he is not fit to be a senator. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.



Illinois vs. Penn State. Tipoff at 6 p.m. Game story with quotes and report card moving by 9:45 p.m. By John Supinie.