Springfield fire battalion chief arrested in Sherman

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A battalion chief with the Springfield Fire Department was arrested in Sherman Monday after he allegedly threatened a village police officer.

Chad W. Bates, 44, of Sherman, was arrested Monday and booked into the Sangamon County Jail on charges of obstructing a peace officer and intimidation, reports indicated.

According to a Sherman police report, officers were near Radford and Flaggland drives about 9 p.m. looking for a man who was wanted. Bates was not the man the officers were looking for, but he reportedly walked up to the officers and asked them who they were messing with. His exact words, according to the report, included an obscenity.

The report indicates that at least one of the officers knew Bates. Bates then walked to the Hartford Drive area and continued to heckle officers.

“Chad was ten to fifteen feet away from my location, as I was traveling away from him, and he said that if I wasn’t hiding behind that badge, he’d (expletive) me up,” an officer wrote in the report.

After concluding the search for the wanted subject, the officers went to Bates’ home.

The report said Bates appeared angry and met them in the driveway.

“I told him I wanted to know what his intentions were regarding his statements he had said. He smiled, looked in my direction and said that I knew what his intentions were,” the report said. “I walked towards him, told him he was under arrest and told him to place his hands behind his back.”

Bates, who was promoted to battalion chief on May 24, was then transported to the Sangamon County Jail.

Springfield Fire Chief Allen Reyne had little to say Tuesday due to it being a personnel issue.

“It will be handled outside the walls of the fire department,” Reyne said.

Contact John Reynolds: john.reynolds@sj-r.com, 788-1524, twitter.com/JohnReynoldsSJR. Staff Writer Crystal Thomas contributed to this story.

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Springfield fire battalion chief arrested in Sherman

Farm Bureau urges teachers to apply for grants to aid ag literacy

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BLOOMINGTON — The Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom program and the IAA Foundation, along with the Illinois Farm Bureau, announce their 2018-19 classroom grants.

Teachers are urged to apply for these classroom grants of up to $300 to incorporate new and exciting agriculture-related topics into their existing classrooms.

In addition, four $250 special book grants are available for teachers to easily incorporate lessons tied to the Common Core Learning Standards into their existing Language Arts and Social Studies curriculum.

“Our teacher grants are an added bonus for teachers looking to incorporate new and creative ideas into their classrooms during these financially challenging, school funding times,” Kevin Daugherty, education director of Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom, said.

Teachers are urged to contact their local agriculture literacy coordinator for ideas and assistance in applying for their grants.

“Bureau County offers a variety of topics easy for teachers to incorporate into their current curriculum,” Cara Kniss, county AITC coordinator, said.

The 2018-19 Teacher Grant Applications can be found at http://www.agintheclasroom.org, under Teacher Resources/Grants. Grants are available in electronic format and are due by Oct. 1.

Each year, the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) program reaches more than 60 percent of all attendance centers in Illinois. The IAA Foundation, Illinois Farm Bureau’s charitable arm, funds the work of IAITC through generous contributors.

More IAITC program information is available at https://ift.tt/1NJfN2u. More information on how to support IAITC through the IAA Foundation can be found at http://www.iaafoundation.org.

Farm Bureau urges teachers to apply for grants to aid ag literacy

Independent Pharmacies Look Forward to HB3479

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Independent Pharmacies Look Forward to HB3479

Independent Pharmacies Look Forward to HB3479

May 16 – Legislators are working on a bill that could help independent pharmacies receive proper reimbursement for filling Illinois Medicaid patients’ prescriptions.

Dale Colee, owner of Dale’s Southlake Pharmacy and Colee’s Corner Drugs, said HB3479 would require the Illinois Medicaid Managed Care Organizations to pay all pharmacies the same amount for prescriptions. “The PBM [Pharmacy Benefits Manager] is paying certain pharmacies – ones they are actually involved with – a higher rate than they are the independent pharmacies. This bill would require the reimbursement rate for the medication to not be below our acquisition cost and would be the same as what everyone else is getting reimbursed at this point.” He continued to say it costs around ten dollars to fill and process prescriptions and they are “not getting near that for close to 70 percent of those prescriptions.”

The bill has been passed by the House and is now awaiting approval by the Senate. Local State Representatives Sue Scherer and Bill Mitchell are co-sponsors of the bill and Senator Andy Manar is Chief Senate Sponsor. The Senate has a deadline of May 31, 2018 to pass the bill. Colee said if they do not approve the bill, it could have negative consequences for independent pharmacies. “If it doesn’t get passed, you are going to see a lot of independent and smaller pharmacies go to the wayside, especially if they are in an environment where they have a lot of public aid and managed care business.” Colee said he has a store within Crossing Healthcare that would be heavily affected because of the high volume of Medicaid patients.

This issue is not specific to Illinois. Colee mentioned there have been many pharmacies across the country, including Ohio and Arkansas, and the rate has caused independent pharmacy numbers to dwindle. “I’ve talked to a lot of the independent pharmacies and they are all in the same boat. There is a guy I know in the Staunton area where if he doesn’t get some sort of help in getting this turned around, he could lose his store.” Colee said when he started his business in Decatur 40 years ago, there were 18 independent pharmacies and two box stores in Decatur and now his store is the only independent pharmacy in Decatur and Sav-Mor helps to serve the residents of Mt. Zion.

Colee said independent pharmacies are part of the fabric of their communities by employing local people who spend their wages locally and make local donations. He said other stores differ from them because they earn their money in town and then spend the money elsewhere. “You do not see a lot of those organizations really going out and helping the community. You don’t see them doing a lot of donations and a lot of things within the framework of the community. That’s a major part of it. We are a part of the community. We live here and that’s what sets us apart from the big box stores.”

 

Independent Pharmacies Look Forward to HB3479

Rauner’s reefer madness rules despite overwhelming support for legal pot

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As if anyone needed another reason to oust Bruce Rauner, consider this: there will never be legalized marijuana in Illinois as long as he’s governor.

Just in case his attempts to bankrupt public education weren’t enough of a deterrent to voting for his reelection.

All right, on the week of 4/20, the time has come for me to answer a few questions about the state’s effort to catch up with the rest of the modern world and legalize reefer.

Rauner’s reefer madness rules despite overwhelming support for legal pot

Will Illinois Face Another Budget Impasse?

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Passing a state budget is arguably the most important thing the Illinois General Assembly does every year — or at least should do every year.

After last year’s drama — when a two-year standoff ended with a Republican revolt against Governor Bruce Rauner — it’s an open question about how things will go this year.

So I set out to answer a simple question: Will there be another impasse?

The question may sound simple, but the answer, like most things in state government, is complicated.

Lawmakers took a long break from Springfield, for the primary election and the usual recess around Easter and Passover.

As session resumed this week, I’ve been asking everyone I can: “Do you think there’s going to be another budget impasse this year?”

“That is the question,” says state Sen. Chapin Rose, a Republican from Mahomet.

“‘No’ is the short answer to your question,” Rose says. “But I think the next question you should ask is: ‘Will it be a 12-month budget?’ And I’m less convinced of that.”

Rose and some of his Republican colleagues have been repeating this message — accusing Democrats of wanting only a short-term spending plan. The idea, Republicans say, is that Democrats hope to retake the governor’s mansion this fall, then pass the kind of wild tax hikes and spending that Republicans say Democrats would love to do.

The thing is, when you ask actual Democrats if they’d prefer a half-year budget, they too are speaking in one voice.

“No. We’ve been consistent in saying we need a full-year budget,” says Rep. Greg Harris. He’s from Chicago, and he’s one of the House Democrats’ top budget negotiators.

“I don’t know why the Republicans keep fantasizing about a six-month budget, but they do,” Harris says. “Maybe it’s wishful thinking on their part. I don’t know.”

It’s worth pausing here to remember this is not just a political fight.

People who are outside the Capitol Building have been trekking in to remind legislators of the dire consequences in the last budget stalemate. And they’re warning that could happen again if there’s no agreement this year.

Among the institutions most hammered were Illinois’ public universities. At a recent Senate budget hearing, University of Illinois vice president Barbara Wilson talked about a faculty brain drain linked to the impasse.

“You may know that we’ve become a little bit of a poaching ground for many of our peer institutions, who have noticed our reputational hit and have come after a lot of our talented faculty,” Wilson says.

U. of I. has even learned of schools allocating money to specifically target U. of I. professors.

“We know for a fact that Texas — and I include Texas A&M and the University of Texas — have a special fund set aside to go poach Illinois faculty,” Wilson says. “We’ve been told that by numerous individuals, including some of the faculty they’re going after.”

Other state universities say the lack of state funding — and not just during the impasse — has left buildings crumbling.

“In my 11 years as the president, I haven’t seen any money for repairs,” says Elaine Maimon of Governors State University, in the south suburbs of Chicago.

Despite that, she says GSU cannot wait to repair its roofs. So it’ll have to issue bonds to raise the money it needs — but even that is contingent.

“We’ve been told, loud and clear, if there’s no state budget by May 31st, we’re not going to have that avenue,” Maimon says. “So there has to be a state budget.”

Which brings us back to the question we started with: Will there be a state budget this year — or another impasse?

I thought the last word on the subject should go to one of the people instrumental in ending the last impasse: state Rep. David Harris, a Republican from Arlington Heights.

“I don’t believe we’ll have an impasse,” Harris says. “I believe that by the end of this session, we’ll have a budget for the new fiscal year.”

Harris was among the 16 Republicans who broke with Gov. Rauner to help Democrats raise taxes, pass a spending plan, and end the impasse.

He says the dynamics have changed from last year. Because of that vote to raise taxes, this time no legislator will have to make that politically difficult choice. And Harris points out that the governor’s own budget proposal counts on money from that tax increase.

So, with seven weeks to go in the spring legislative session, the consensus under the dome seems to be that no, there will not be another impasse.

Then again, a few years ago no one predicted Illinois would go years without a budget, and we know how that story ended.

Illinois Newsroom is a collaboration focused on expanding coverage of education, state politics, health and the environment.

Will Illinois Face Another Budget Impasse?

U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear Blagojevich appeal

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The United States Supreme Court announced Monday it would not hear the appeal of imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

And in doing so, it might have finally ended the long, futile legal fight waged by Blagojevich ever since his early-morning arrest in December 2008.

The high court’s decision seems to leave Blagojevich with little to do now but languish in a Colorado prison, hoping for clemency from President Donald Trump as his name is thrown around as a talking point in this year’s campaign for his old job.

RELATED: Ex-gov’s ‘Hail Mary’ appeal attempt ‘unwarranted,’ fed lawyer says

Gov. Bruce Rauner even took advantage of the Supreme Court review of Blagojevich’s petition Friday by offering a Snapchat filter outside the courthouse in Washington, D.C. It let people virtually wear Blagojevich’s famous black coif, which has gone white in prison.

Former First Lady Patti Blagojevich called that move “disgusting.”

The ex-governor is not due out of prison until May 2024. The 61-year-old Democrat has already served six years of a 14-year sentence. And his name is synonymous with Illinois corruption.

A little less than three years ago, there might have been a glimmer of hope for Blagojevich in an appellate ruling that overturned five of his 18 criminal convictions. It also ordered him re-sentenced, and many experts thought Blagojevich would get a break when he returned by video link to U.S. District Judge James Zagel’s courtroom.

However, federal prosecutors asked the judge to restore Blagojevich’s original sentence, arguing he remained convicted “of the same three charged shakedowns of which he stood convicted at the original sentencing.”

Those scams included an attempt to sell then-President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, to shake down the CEO of Children’s Memorial Hospital for $25,000 in campaign contributions, and to hold up a bill to benefit the racetrack industry for $100,000 in campaign contributions. A jury also convicted him of lying to the FBI.

In August 2016, over the sobs of Blagojevich’s daughters, Zagel did as the feds asked. An appellate court quickly affirmed Zagel’s decision, forcing Blagojevich to go to the high court.

Things have looked increasingly grim for Blagojevich, as a result. He had tried to get the Supreme Court’s attention in November 2015, during the lead up to his re-sentencing, only to be turned away in March 2016. There was little reason now to think his odds would improve.

His attorney, Leonard Goodman, presented the Supreme Court this time with two questions: Whether prosecutors in a case like Blagojevich’s must prove a public official made an “explicit promise or undertaking” in exchange for a campaign contribution, and whether more consideration should have been given to sentences handed down in similar cases.

Goodman is a member of the investor group that recently purchased the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Reader.

“Our petition lays out a compelling case that the Supreme Court needs to settle the confusion among federal courts about the dividing line between campaign fundraising, something all elected officials are required to do (unless they are billionaires) and the federal crimes of extortion and bribery,” Goodman said last year.

The attorney also complained that Blagojevich’s sentence “was more than twice as long as that given any other official convicted of corruption.”

U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear Blagojevich appeal

McCann to announce independent bid Monday

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SPRINGFIELD – GOP State Senator Sam McCann has threatened an independent bid for governor in the past, and the two-term lawmaker says he’ll be making an announcement Monday on a similar theme.

But this time McCann may be seeking a bid for his own Senate seat in 2018, but instead of a member of the GOP caucus, he would be seeking it as an independent. The Republican announced earlier this year he would not be seeking re-election in 2018.

Rumors are flying in Springfield, according to a local news reporter’s Twitter feed: 

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 8.05.55 AMMcCann is a strong advocate for the state employees that live in his district, and because the district leans Republican these days, the state employee unions are concerned that a Rauner-esque Republican could fill McCann’s Senate seat. 

McCann is also a Second Amendment proponent – as well as one of the governor’s harshest critics. Just last week, the senator made these comments on his Facebook page: 

In 2016, 2017 and now with the proposed 2019 state budget, Gov. Rauner continued to eliminate state support for mental health programs. His cuts denied mental health services to nearly 47,000 people in need and cost almost 1,000 mental health workers their jobs.

We (the Illinois General Assembly) enacted a 2018 budget to support mental health over the governor’s objections and veto.

As lawmakers we can only authorize spending, we can’t make the governor actually spend the money to support mental health. To date, the governor refuses to fund $26 million worth of mental health programs despite having the full authority to do so.”

So, regardless of party and regardless of ZIP Code, the one thing that nearly all political leaders seem to agree on, at least in words, is the need to get back to investing adequately in our mental healthcare system. It needs to become less about words and more about deeds. —— ©️2018 Sam McCann

Illinois Review will update this story with more developments as they occur.

McCann to announce independent bid Monday