WBEZ | Springfield http://www.wbez.org/tags/springfield Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Judge orders state to pay Cook County Medicaid providers during budget impasse http://www.wbez.org/judge-orders-state-pay-cook-county-medicaid-providers-during-budget-impasse-112465 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 2.22.14 PM_0.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at 4:30 p.m.</em></p><p>A federal judge in Chicago is ordering the Illinois state government to reimburse Cook County Medicaid providers, even though Gov. Bruce Rauner and lawmakers remain far apart on agreeing to a spending plan.</p><p>Medicaid payments are one of the state&rsquo;s largest expenses in any given year. With no agreement in sight on how much money the state should spend - or what rates to tax residents - the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law sued the Illinois&#39; Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services to reimburse Cook County Medicaid providers. The Shriver Center used a decade-old court order as the grounds on which to order the state to find the money necessary to refund hospitals.</p><p>&ldquo;The money is there. The money is available,&rdquo; Judge Joan Lefkow said from the bench, in giving her order.</p><p>Democratic Senate President John Cullerton recently estimated the Illinois&#39; Medicaid system will cost the state almost $8 billion for the next 11 months. Lawyers for the attorney general&rsquo;s office, who represent the Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services, argued in court that there&rsquo;s been no evidence of any patients being denied access to medical care since the state government lost its authority to spend money on July 1, when lawmakers and the governor didn&rsquo;t agree on a spending plan. But Lefko said, regardless of Cook County hospitals&rsquo; financial issues, they&rsquo;d be further exasperated by a lack of state money.</p><p>Thursday&rsquo;s court order from Judge Joan Lefkow chalks another not-so-small government service that&#39;s been deemed essential for state government to fund. Several existing court orders or federal laws have mandated the state continue to fund services like foster care operations and issue payroll checks to government employees. Rauner also approved a spending plan to keep Illinois&#39; K-12 schools open once classes start.</p><p>Judge Lefkow&#39;s decision also guarantees a flow of money will continue for hospitals that rely heavily on Medicaid reimbursements. Timothy Egan, CEO of the New Roseland Community Hospital on Chicago&#39;s South Side, said it would have to begin diverting ambulances from its Emergency Department and stop admitting new inpatients and outpatients, starting Monday, without court action. By the end of next week, Egan said, all inpatients would be transferred out of the hospital and he would begin laying off employees.​ Egan added that 71 percent of Roseland Community Hospital&#39;s revenue comes from the state government&#39;s Medicaid program.</p><p>&ldquo;You have to keep the whole system going as if there&rsquo;s no budget impasse in order to ensure the children have access to care,&rdquo; said John Bouman, an attorney with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, who brought the lawsuit against the state. Bouman said the judge&rsquo;s decision applies only to Medicaid providers in Cook County, but Gov. Rauner could decide to expand the decision to suburban and downstate providers.</p><p>A.J. Wilhelmi, the Chief Government Relations Officer for the Illinois Hospital Association, encouraged Rauner to expand the decision statewide--if, however, Rauner does not, Wihelmi believes there may be other courses for legal action, including returning to court and seeking action under another consent decree that could apply statewide.</p><p style="margin-top:0in;margin-right:-.5in;margin-bottom:0in;margin-left:-.5in; margin-bottom:.0001pt"><o:p></o:p></p><p>John Hoffman, a spokesman for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services said the agency is reviewing the court order, but would not say if it has plans to expand the judge&rsquo;s decision to all other Medicaid providers outside of Cook County.</p><p>Democrats, meantime, are using the latest court order to attack Rauner&rsquo;s veto of the unbalanced budget approved earlier this year. At the time, Rauner said he would not support an unbalanced budget, and lawmakers need to approve changes to workers compensation and freeze property taxes before passing a spending plan.</p><p>&ldquo;We know that some of this stalling around the non-budget issues is leading to budget and spending decisions out of his control,&rdquo; said Steve Brown, a spokesman for Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.</p><p>Senate President John Cullerton said earlier this week that if court mandates keep piling up and no spending plan is approved, Illinois state government faces a $4 billion deficit. The governor&rsquo;s office did not dispute that figure.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold is WBEZ&rsquo;s state politics reporter. Follow him </em><a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold"><em>@tonyjarnold</em></a><em>. </em></p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h"><em>@shannon_h</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Thu, 23 Jul 2015 14:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/judge-orders-state-pay-cook-county-medicaid-providers-during-budget-impasse-112465 DCFS tells providers to prepare for 10 percent cuts as budget impasse continues http://www.wbez.org/news/dcfs-tells-providers-prepare-10-percent-cuts-budget-impasse-continues-112389 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/State-Capitol-Front-1_WBEZ_Tim-Akimoff_4.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>With no signs of a long-term budget agreement, or break in the political stalemate, contractors with Illinois&rsquo; Dept. of Children and Family Services are being told to prepare for 10 percent cuts.</p><p>The threat of reduced services comes as a federal judge mandated the state continue the same level of care for vulnerable children during the ongoing impasse as it did at the end of the previous fiscal year, which ended June 30. The agency has given no indication of when the 10 percent reduction in contracts would be implemented, leaving child welfare service providers little direction for how to plan their own budgets.</p><p>The order from DCFS to its contractors does not contradict Judge Jorge Alonso&rsquo;s ruling on the existing consent decree, which was intended to provide consistency to service providers. The threat of reductions adds to the uncertainty many child welfare providers, including Children&rsquo;s Home and Aid, have faced since July 1. Those groups are now left to balance maintaining the same level of services for now, while potentially facing a condensed schedule later in the fiscal year to enact drastic cuts.</p><p>&ldquo;Where the contracts, I think, create some confusion, is while they don&rsquo;t deal immediately with July 1, they give us a number to work toward for the entire fiscal year, and that number is certainly being reduced,&rdquo; said Jassen Strokosch, with Children&rsquo;s Home and Aid.</p><p>Strokosch said his agency has contracts with DCFS to continue providing payments to foster care families or investigating allegations of child abuse or neglect in the short-term in compliance with Judge Alonso&rsquo;s mandate. But he said administrators at Children&rsquo;s Home and Aid remain unclear on several fronts, including what services would be cut, and whether its current court-mandated contracts will end if there&rsquo;s a budget agreement from state lawmakers and the governor.</p><p>Strokosch also doesn&rsquo;t know if Children&rsquo;s Home and Aid will have to eventually absorb the full 10 percent in reductions later in the fiscal year, or if it should begin implementing those cuts immediately.</p><p>&ldquo;In response to ongoing budget negotiations, we have been required to initiate steps to responsibly manage the departments (<em>sic</em>) finances and have cut contracts by 10 percent,&rdquo; DCFS spokeswoman Veronica Resa said in an emailed statement responding to questions about how the department settled on telling contractors to cut 10 percent when there hasn&rsquo;t been a set budget agreement.</p><p>&ldquo;They don&rsquo;t yet know, and so we don&rsquo;t yet know, what they want to do 10 percent fewer of if that indeed would be the full amount that&rsquo;s cut for the full year&rsquo;s budget,&rdquo; said Marge Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois, which represents the political and financial interests of many DCFS contractors.</p><p>But not all observers are sure the cuts will happen.</p><p>American Civil Liberties Union attorney Ben Wolf has taken DCFS to court several times over the past few decades over the quality of services provided to youth. He said he didn&rsquo;t believe the 10 percent cuts to be &ldquo;real&rdquo; and that amount could change depending on the overall state budget that may eventually be adopted.</p><p>&ldquo;It certainly would be bad for the children if some of the better non-profit agencies started to have to feel like they can&rsquo;t plan for the future and they have to lay off staff,&rdquo; Wolf said. &ldquo;Any tentative, interim, proposed cuts that the people have heard about will not be maintained if they are inconsistent with the consent decree, which means they should not be maintained if they cause harm to children in the custody of the state.&rdquo;</p><p>Wolf said he can&rsquo;t go back to Judge Alonso over the possibility of budget cuts yet. But he&rsquo;ll be watching to see if child welfare providers end up cutting their services now in response to the threat of cuts and if those reductions in services end up violating the federal judge&rsquo;s court order that was intended to maintain a level of consistency during budget negotiations between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislative leaders Michael Madigan and John Cullerton. Both Rauner and Madigan have said they&rsquo;re open to a full state budget that reflects cuts in government services and increases in revenue, but no specific agreement has been reached.</p><p>&ldquo;The future in Illinois is somewhat uncertain but I think the protections of our consent decree are quite a bit more certain than most of the Illinois budget,&rdquo; Wolf said.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him </em><a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold"><em>@tonyjarnold</em></a><em>.</em></p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Shannon Heffernan contributed reporting to this story. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h"><em>@shannon_h</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Tue, 14 Jul 2015 14:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/dcfs-tells-providers-prepare-10-percent-cuts-budget-impasse-continues-112389 When is a government shutdown not a shutdown? http://www.wbez.org/news/when-government-shutdown-not-shutdown-112350 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/illinoislegislature.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Thursday technically marks day nine of the Illinois state government not having a budget. But unlike a federal government shutdown, you might not have seen consequences yet.</p><p>Your trains are still running &mdash; hopefully they&rsquo;ve been on time.</p><p>The prisons are still accepting inmates and paying to feed them.</p><p>If you get a paycheck, you&rsquo;re still paying state taxes.</p><p>So, just what does this shutdown even look like?</p><p>&ldquo;The word shutdown is a bit of a misnomer,&rdquo; said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Institute at Southern Illinois University. &ldquo;I think this is gonna be more of a slow strangulation.&rdquo;</p><p>Yepsen said the doors to government buildings haven&rsquo;t been padlocked, yet, which could limit how much, or how often, any given Illinois resident is confronted with the absence of a budget for state government operations.</p><p>&ldquo;Government, oftentimes, doesn&rsquo;t affect a lot of people directly,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But Yepsen cautions that the longer the impasse, the more likely you, or someone you know, will see the impact.</p><p>&ldquo;If people with mental health problems all of a sudden aren&rsquo;t getting treated, that starts to have real consequences in society,&rdquo; Yepsen said.</p><p>In any other year, Illinois state government would be sending money to mental health providers right now. Without a budget, those contracts haven&rsquo;t materialized; meaning there&rsquo;s no guarantee finances are coming. For instance, Heather O&rsquo;Donnell, with Thresholds, one of the largest mental health providers in Chicago, said one $800,000 state contract for psychiatrists is in limbo.</p><p>&ldquo;The longer that we go without a budget then the average person will start to feel it or see it,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Donnell said.</p><p>Thresholds is a larger operation compared to other mental health providers in the area, and as a result, O&rsquo;Donnell said it may be able to wait out the political impasse longer than smaller organizations that may have to start turning patients away.</p><p>&ldquo;You wouldn&rsquo;t withdraw cancer treatment from somebody who has breast cancer but you&rsquo;re going to pull mental health treatment for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder?&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Thresholds and other human service providers that care for people in need, like kids with autism or adults with disabilities, are operating in an gray area while this political stalemate continues. Their uncertainty doesn&rsquo;t seem to be preventing Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner from giving ultimatums to Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, or Madigan from acknowledging some of Rauner&rsquo;s proposals.</p><p>But rhetoric aside, there&rsquo;s also the question of accountability when services usually provided by the state government don&rsquo;t materialize.</p><p>State funding of mental health has been cut in the past several years. When those reductions happened, there was little, if any, political retribution for those who voted in favor of those cuts.</p><p>Yepsen&#39;s done polling - it shows Illinois residents do want to see cuts, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean there&rsquo;s motivation to end the political impasse yet. Because those same people who want to see cuts don&rsquo;t like the options of choosing to cut either education, prisons, natural resources or social services.</p><p>According to Yepsen, some residents are becoming more comfortable with increasing taxes. Though, he adds, the political motivation to end the stalemate may not exist until even more pain is felt by more people &mdash; say, when tens of thousands of state employees aren&rsquo;t paid their salaries in the coming weeks, or when human services close completely.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him </em><a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold"><em>@tonyjarnold</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Thu, 09 Jul 2015 08:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/when-government-shutdown-not-shutdown-112350 State budget deadline comes — and goes — with no deal http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-01/state-budget-deadline-comes-%E2%80%94-and-goes-%E2%80%94-no-deal-112297 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/JanetandPhil_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/212813116&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: 22px;">Wednesday is the deadline for the state to pass a budget and stave off a government shutdown that would affect services and state workers&rsquo; paychecks. Governor Rauner says a shutdown may be necessary to get reforms to set the state on a better fiscal path. Democratic leaders think the cuts are extreme and that it&rsquo;s more important to ensure services. We have the latest from the Capitol and how both sides of the aisle and waging the budget battle.&nbsp;</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:&nbsp;</strong><a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">Tony Arnold</a> is WBEZ&#39;s statehouse reporter</p></p> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 12:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-01/state-budget-deadline-comes-%E2%80%94-and-goes-%E2%80%94-no-deal-112297 Emanuel pushes Springfield for changes to police, fire pensions http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pushes-springfield-changes-police-fire-pensions-112112 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Rahm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel has long said a property tax increase for Chicago residents is the &ldquo;last resort&rdquo; to cover a scheduled increase in payments owed to the city&rsquo;s cash-strapped police and fire pensions.</p><p>To avoid a hike, he&rsquo;s asking Illinois state legislators to approve changes to the funding schedule for those two retirement funds - in addition to adding future payments to the pensions from a new source of revenue created by a potential new, city-owned casino.</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s administration says that a 5-year-old state law forces the city to pay an extra $600 million this year toward its cash-strapped retirement funds for police officers and firefighters.</p><p>Those pensions are severely under-funded, so Emanuel wants lawmakers to pass a bill that would put off those payments for a few years - in exchange for later adding larger payments and putting the pensions on a better funding schedule over the next 40 years, rather than the current 25-year plan.</p><p>Under the extended schedule, the pensions would be funded at 90 percent in 2055, rather than the current rates of around 25 percent funded. If the bill is not passed, said Steve Koch, Emanuel&rsquo;s deputy mayor, then property taxes could skyrocket.</p><p>&ldquo;I think this is always a matter of, in this sort of situation, of trying to reach a medium,&rdquo; Koch explained, &ldquo;where you protect the funds, which has been an objective of ours and an objective of the mayor since he took office, and equally protect taxpayers.&rdquo;</p><p>But Republicans criticized Emanuel&rsquo;s plan, saying the mayor&rsquo;s office is in a &ldquo;fantasyland,&rdquo; -- because the bill says it would take money from a Chicago casino, or casinos, to pay for pensions. Casinos that, as of yet, have not been approved by state lawmakers.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re essentially in a fantasyland here, assuming that you&rsquo;re going to get a casino and all the revenue associated with that casino, with us not even seeing a bill that relates to that,&rdquo; said State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton).</p><p>Lawmakers have been negotiating a gambling expansion bill behind closed doors, which could include a city-run casino; but so far a compromise has not been introduced to lawmakers. Koch said that if a casino is not approved, then the city would rely on cuts to city services or increases in fees or revenues to pay for the administration&rsquo;s proposed pension bill.</p><p>Meantime, the union representing Chicago firefighters, support the administration&rsquo;s pension plan, unlike other labor unions raising recent court challenges over previous efforts to change other city and state funds</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been pretty conservative with our benefits over the years, so we don&rsquo;t pull no shenanigans in our fund,&rdquo; said Dan Fabrizio, with the Chicago Firefighters Union.</p><p>The measure was approved by the House and Senate with mostly Democratic support. Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s office has not commented on his position on the bill.</p><p>Tony Arnold is WBEZ&rsquo;s Illinois state politics reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 30 May 2015 11:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pushes-springfield-changes-police-fire-pensions-112112 Morning Shift: Kimo Williams http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-05-26/morning-shift-kimo-williams-112085 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/USASOC%20News%20Service.jpg" style="height: 401px; width: 600px;" title="Flickr/USASOC News Service" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/207309607&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Springfield update</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">It&rsquo;s the final countdown for Illinois Democrats to work out a deal on several outlying issues with Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. Or - if the two sides don&rsquo;t reach an agreement by Sunday - then we could be in for a long, politically ugly summer. And keep in mind, it&rsquo;s not even an election year this year. WBEZ&rsquo;s state political reporter Tony Arnold is in Springfield to watch the drama unfold. He joins us now to let us in on what issues are still outstanding and what kind of drama we can expect to see.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">Tony Arnold</a> is WBEZ&#39;s sate politics reporter.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/207309606&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Sheriff Dart pushes investigation into drug house</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">In early April, reporter <a href="https://twitter.com/nanisc99">Adriana Cardona-Maguigad</a> began to unspool <a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/554/not-it">a story</a> about drug addicts sent from Puerto Rico to Chicago by various municipalities on the island. These individuals are promised treatment that will lead to clean living in a spa-like setting. Instead, they&rsquo;re given a one-way ticket to substandard, unlicensed treatment facilities. Many walk away and end up on the streets. Morning Shift reached out for answers to a number of folks at the city, county and state. We&rsquo;ve spoken with the acting director of the Illinois Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and a state senator. Now Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has called for a federal investigation and he joins us to explain.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/TomDart">Tom Dart</a> is the Sheriff of Cook County.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/207309604&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Sports update</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">The Blackhawks are on the edge of elimination in the Stanley Cup playoffs after losing in Anaheim last night 5 to 4, and the Bears gambled and lost. Here with more on those stories and more is WBEZ&rsquo;s sports contributor Cheryl Raye Stout.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">Cheryl Raye Stout</a> is WBEZ&#39;s sports contributor.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/207309601&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Poverty art</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">According to 2013 Census numbers, there were over 45 million Americans living in poverty at the time. Poverty occurs in big cities, suburbs, small towns, Indian reservations. Scratch away at the numbers and you&rsquo;ll find individuals. Each person experiences deprivation in their own unique way. Artists taking part in a newly opened exhibition presented by David Weinberg Photography are exploring that diversity and reveal the issue&#39;s core complexity. It&rsquo;s called <a href="http://t.co/PXIECcX7QM">An Invisible Hand</a>, and it combines sculpture, photography, video and audio pieces by nine artists who&#39;ve worked to convey poverty in all of its intricacies and disparities. It&rsquo;s up through July 25 and we&rsquo;re joined by the space&#39;s owner David Weinberg and the exhibit&#39;s curator Meg Noe.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/DWeinbergPhoto">David Weinberg</a> is the owner of David Wenberg Photography in Lincoln Park. </em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><em><a href="http://www.megtnoe.com/">Meg Noe</a> is the curator of An Invisible Hand.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/207309598&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Kimo Williams</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">As a kid, Kimo Williams taught himself guitar as an escape from difficult circumstances. He served in Vietnam and in addition to his regular duties, brought music to his fellow troops in the middle of the jungle, often under fire. After his tour he enrolled in the Berklee College of Music, even though he could barely read music. By graduation, he was a full-fledged composer employing his own innovative techniques writing for orchestra. Williams continued his association with the military both personally and professionally, serving and writing pieces based on his experiences. Outside the symphonic world he&rsquo;s well known for his work in the Lt. Dan Band for nearly a decade with actor Gary Sinise. On June 6 and 8, the <a href="http://www.chicagosinfonietta.org/">Chicago Sinfonietta</a> will be performing two of his works as part of a program paying tribute to service members. Kimo Williams joins us and we play selections from the work.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/kimowilliams">Kimo Williams</a>&nbsp;is a composer, musician, veteran and professor of music.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 26 May 2015 08:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-05-26/morning-shift-kimo-williams-112085 Illinois justices overturn state's landmark 2013 pension law http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-justices-overturn-states-landmark-2013-pension-law-112005 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Illinois-Supreme-Court-1_WBEZ_Tim-Akimoff.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that state lawmakers lack the constitutional authority to solve the state&rsquo;s pension problems by reformatting -- and reducing -- retirement benefits of state workers in a law that was passed in 2013. The unanimous ruling means state legislators will have to return to the drawing board, under a new governor.</p><p>Illinois state lawmakers hoped to save the state more than $100 billion over the next several decades by raising the retirement age of workers and tying the cost-of-living increases retirees receive to inflation, rather than a set percentage, among other changes. But the court said the state constitution trumps their plan.</p><p>Friday&rsquo;s ruling rejects the controversial, and much-debated, pension law that was approved and signed by then-Gov. Pat Quinn. The measure was passed as a way to eat away at the state&rsquo;s $100 billion pension debt, which is considered to be so large that it puts the funding of basic functions of state government in jeopardy.</p><p>Attorneys for the State of Illinois, in defending the law, argued that the pension crisis gives the state police powers to enact the law. But, the Supreme Court said, in its decision, that the General Assembly cannot exercise a higher power than the state constitution itself.</p><p>&ldquo;Crisis is not an excuse to abandon the rule of law. It is a summons to defend it,&rdquo; Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote in the decision.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/politics-behind-pension-vote-109301">The politics behind the pension vote</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>In delivering the decision, justices handed labor unions a legal victory in their challenge of the pension law. Five separate challenges to the law were consolidated in the circuit court to expedite proceedings. The Supreme Court ultimately upheld the lower court&rsquo;s decision.</p><p>Dan Montgomery heads the Illinois Federation of Teachers, a union representing suburban and downstate teachers. He said his members felt great joy and relief when they learned of the court&rsquo;s decision--but that they&rsquo;d always been confident that the Justices would rule in their favor.</p><p>&ldquo;Can you imagine a state where when it&rsquo;s not convenient anymore, to hold up constitutional obligations, the lawmakers just ignore them?&rdquo; Montgomery said on WBEZ&rsquo;s Afternoon Shift.</p><p>Still, he said some of his members were in tears waiting for the decision--he explained they were very afraid of losing their life savings.</p><p>&ldquo;State pensions are still modest pensions that they paid for their whole careers,&rdquo; Montgomery said. &ldquo;They were afraid they were going to lose a significant chunk of 20, 25, 30 percent that bill would&rsquo;ve cut their pensions by.&rdquo;</p><p>The Justices also found that the pension protection clause from Illinois Constitution of 1970 was clear on the point. Their decision leaves questions about how lawmakers will next try to restructure the state&rsquo;s pension systems and any impact it might have on local governments across Illinois that are working to reduce their own pension obligations. Including the City of Chicago, where last year lawmakers approved changes to two of Chicago&rsquo;s underfunded pension systems. Those pensions were not included in Friday&rsquo;s Supreme Court ruling, but the city&rsquo;s adjustments argued for similar benefit changes. Teachers, police and fire pensions were not included in those changes but remain a pressing issue for the city.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The stakes</span></p><p>The State of Illinois owes more than $100 billion in pension debt. Much of which is the result of decades of the state skipping out on pension payments to pay for other services. Over the past few years, money from an increase in the statewide income tax rate was used to make some pension payments, but that tax rate dropped in January with the election of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has said the state&rsquo;s taxes are too high. Meantime, bond rating agencies continue to watch the action around Illinois&rsquo; pensions, as they determine the state&rsquo;s bond rating and its ability to borrow money.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">What&rsquo;s next</span></p><p>Reactions to the Supreme Court&rsquo;s decision continue to come in. Here&rsquo;s a compilation of some of what politicians and financial analysts make of what&rsquo;s to come.</p><p><strong>Michael Carrigan, Illinois AFL-CIO President:</strong></p><p>&ldquo;The Court&rsquo;s ruling confirms that the Illinois Constitution ensures against the government&rsquo;s unilateral diminishment or impairment of public pensions. Because most public employees aren&rsquo;t eligible for Social Security, their modest pension&mdash;just $32,000 a year on average&mdash;is the primary source of retirement income for hundreds of thousands of Illinois families. While workers always paid their share, politicians caused the debt by failing to make adequate contributions to the pension funds.</p><p>Public service workers are helpers and problem solvers by trade. With the Supreme Court&rsquo;s unanimous ruling, we urge lawmakers to join us in developing a fair and constitutional solution to pension funding, and we remain ready to work with anyone of good faith to do so.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Democratic Senate President John Cullerton, who voted in favor of the pension law that has been struck down, but also advocated for a rival pension plan:</strong></p><p>&ldquo;From the beginning of our pension reform debates, I expressed concern about the constitutionality of the plan that we ultimately advanced as a test case for the court.&nbsp; Today, the Illinois Supreme Court declared that regardless of political considerations or fiscal circumstances, state leaders cannot renege on pension obligations. This ruling is a victory for retirees, public employees and everyone who respects the plain language of our Constitution.</p><p>That victory, however, should be balanced against the grave financial realities we will continue to face without true reforms. If there are to be any lasting savings in pension reform, we must face this reality within the confines of the Pension Clause. I stand ready to work with all parties to advance a real solution that adheres to the Illinois Constitution.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Buffalo Grove, who was instrumental in developing and negotiating the pension law that was struck down:</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Our goal from the beginning of our work on pension reform has been to strike a very careful, very important balance between protecting the hard-earned investments of state workers and retirees and the equally important investments of all taxpayers in education, human and social services, health care and other vital state priorities. In its ruling today, the Supreme Court struck down not only the law but the core of that balance. Now our already dire pension problem will get that much worse and our options in striking that balance are limited. Our path forward from here is now much more difficult, and every direction will be more painful than the balance we struck in Senate Bill 1.&quot;</p><p><strong>State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Skokie, who also was instrumental in developing and negotiating the pension law:</strong><br />&quot;Today the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Senate Bill 1 is unconstitutional. While this is not the opinion the authors of SB1 had hoped for, we must respect the Court and strictly adhere to this ruling. The Pension Clause of the Illinois Constitution provides important protections, and today&#39;s ruling proves the depth of those protections.</p><p>The state of Illinois and many of its local governments are still facing serious fiscal problems, including significant pension debt. I look forward to working with all parties to find ways to ensure that adequate resources are available to properly fund our pension systems, in the context of a responsible budget that funds crucial services. Our public employees, our government bodies and our taxpayers deserve nothing less.&quot;</p><p>State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Skokie, who also was instrumental in developing and negotiating the pension law:<br />&quot;Today the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Senate Bill 1 is unconstitutional. While this is not the opinion the authors of SB1 had hoped for, we must respect the Court and strictly adhere to this ruling. The Pension Clause of the Illinois Constitution provides important protections, and today&#39;s ruling proves the depth of those protections.</p><p>The state of Illinois and many of its local governments are still facing serious fiscal problems, including significant pension debt. I look forward to working with all parties to find ways to ensure that adequate resources are available to properly fund our pension systems, in the context of a responsible budget that funds crucial services. Our public employees, our government bodies and our taxpayers deserve nothing less.&quot;</p><p><strong>State Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Burr Ridge, who&rsquo;s the House Republican Leader:</strong><br />&ldquo;I respect the Illinois Supreme Court, but disagree with the ruling.&nbsp; I am prepared to continue working on meaningful legislative reforms to save our public pension systems.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Gov. Bruce Rauner:</strong><br />&ldquo;The Supreme Court&rsquo;s decision confirms that benefits earned cannot be reduced. That&rsquo;s fair and right, and why the governor long maintained that SB 1 is unconstitutional. What is now clear is that a Constitutional Amendment clarifying the distinction between currently earned benefits and future benefits not yet earned, which would allow the state to move forward on common-sense pension reforms, should be part of any solution.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is also facing a big pension debt:</strong><br />&ldquo;Since taking office, our goal has been to find a solution to Chicago&rsquo;s pension crisis that protects taxpayers while ensuring the retirements of our workers are preserved -- something we achieved with Chicago&rsquo;s pension reform for the Municipal and Laborers funds.&nbsp; That reform is not affected by today&rsquo;s ruling, as we believe our plan fully complies with the State constitution because it fundamentally preserves and protects worker pensions rather than diminishing or impairing them.&nbsp; While the State plan only reduced benefits, the City&rsquo;s plan substantially increases City funding which will save both funds from certain insolvency within the next ten to fifteen years and ensure they are secured over the long-term.&nbsp; Further, unlike the State plan, the City&rsquo;s plan was the result of negotiation and partnership with 28 impacted unions to protect the retirements of the 61,000 city workers and retirees in these funds and ensure they will receive the pensions promised to them.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 08 May 2015 11:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-justices-overturn-states-landmark-2013-pension-law-112005 'Right to Try' measure passes Illinois House http://www.wbez.org/news/right-try-measure-passes-illinois-house-111878 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/medicine_flickr_epSos .de_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; The Illinois House has approved a measure that would grant greater access to experimental drugs for terminally-ill patients.</p><p>Rep. Greg Harris is the chief sponsor of the legislation. The Chicago Democrat and other backers of establishing a &quot;Right to Try&quot; Act in Illinois say it gives those who have exhausted conventional treatments a chance at drugs that have only passed the first phase of federal testing and increases patient choice.</p><p>The measure passed with a vote of 114-1. It now moves to the Illinois Senate.</p><p>The lone &quot;no&quot; vote was Rep. Al Riley. The Democrat from suburban Olympia Fields says that he agrees with the concept of allowing more options for the terminally-ill but had concerns about safety.</p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 15:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/right-try-measure-passes-illinois-house-111878 Morning Shift: Where comedy meets radio http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-20/morning-shift-where-comedy-meets-radio-111738 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/France1978.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Flickr/France1978" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/196833505&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Springfield Week in Review</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">There&rsquo;s one week left before Illinois lawmakers take their two week spring break and there&rsquo;s still work to be done. In the meantime, governor Bruce Rauner is having a hard time convincing democrats to pass his budget proposals. And, it looks like gun rights advocates are renewing their call for expanded conceal carry. Illinois Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky joins us with a look back at the week in Springfield and what we can expect next week.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em>&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/AmandaVinicky">Amanda Vinicky</a> is an Illinois Public Radio reporter.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/196833498&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Cook County Forest Preserves unveil master plan for restoration</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">We&rsquo;ve all seen him. That jogger wearing nothing but running shorts as soon as it gets above 36 degrees. The rest of us might wait a bit longer to strip down, but we&rsquo;re still dying to get out of the house and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. One of the favorite places folks in the Chicago area make that happen is the Cook County Forest Preserves. Last week, the Forest Preserves and the Prairie Research Institute unveiled&nbsp;<a href="http://fpdcc.com/preserves-and-trails/plans-and-projects/natural-and-cultural-resources-master-plan/">a plan</a> to restore and expand tens of thousands of acres of green space. Arnold Randall, the General Superintendent of the Cook County Forest Preserves joins us to talk about the plan.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em>&nbsp;Arnold Randall is the General Superintendent of the <a href="https://twitter.com/FPDCC">Cook County Forest Preserves</a>.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/196833493&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">March Madness arrives</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">It&rsquo;s the first official day of spring. It&#39;s also the first full weekend of the NCAA men&rsquo;s basketball tournament. Brackets will be busted and hearts will be broken. And WBEZ&rsquo;s Katie O&rsquo;Brien says it&rsquo;s time to unravel claims that March Madness is a drain on workplace productivity.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em>&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/katieobez">Katie O&#39;Brien</a> is a WBEZ reporter.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/196833484&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Where comedy meets radio</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">When comedian and radio host Tom Scharpling and Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster teamed up to create a radio show, it wasn&rsquo;t an immediate success - despite being called &ldquo;The Best Show on WFMU.&rdquo; But the cult show found a long life and the duo&rsquo;s comedic stylings continued to gain fervent fans. The duo has been on the road and came through Chicago on Thursday. They share the secret to their success together on the Morning Shift.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:&nbsp;</strong><em>&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/scharpling">Tom Scharpling</a> is a comedian/writer/director and former host of the Best Show on <a href="https://twitter.com/WFMU">WFMU</a>.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><em><a href="https://twitter.com/jonwurster">Jon Wurster</a> is the drummer of the band Superchunk and former host of the Best Show on <a href="https://twitter.com/WFMU">WFMU</a>.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/196833479&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Cristina Pato brings bagpipes into an orchestral setting</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">The bagpipes aren&rsquo;t only for men in kilts. And they&rsquo;re not just from the British Isles. Cristina Pato has been wowing the world for years with her gaita-a small version of the bagpipes from the region of northwest Spain called Galicia. Pato is in town to play with the Chicago Sinfonietta, including a U.S. premier of a jazz and tango-inspired work she commissioned for gaita, piano, and orchestra. She joins the Morning Shift to blow the bagpipe and break musical barriers.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em>&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/CristinaPato">Cristina Pato</a> is New York based musician.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 07:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-20/morning-shift-where-comedy-meets-radio-111738 What Rauner faces as he takes the oath of the Governor's office http://www.wbez.org/news/what-rauner-faces-he-takes-oath-governors-office-111378 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP657471973521.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Bruce Rauner gets to show Illinois what he&rsquo;s got starting Monday. He&rsquo;s taking the oath of office as the state&rsquo;s next governor with many big challenges facing Illinois. Here are some key questions and answers about what&rsquo;s been going on in Illinois politics since November&rsquo;s election.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s Rauner been up to since he won election?</strong></p><p>One of the best ways to see what kind of governor Rauner will be is to see who he&rsquo;s hiring. For instance, Rauner is appointing Leslie Munger to be the state&rsquo;s comptroller, after the death of Judy Baar Topinka. Munger is a former executive at Unilever who ran a failed campaign for state representative last year. Rauner also hired the former attorney for Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, someone whom Rauner says he intends to model as Illinois governor. During the campaign, Rauner, a Republican, frequently talked about having to be the state&rsquo;s best recruiter for hiring people to manage state government.</p><p><strong>What challenges will Rauner face from day one?</strong></p><p>Right off the bat, Illinois has a budget hole. Rauner has said that hole was created by Democrats who have used accounting gimmicks. Despite the lack of resources, Rauner has insisted the state could get by with lower income taxes. Those tax rates dropped on Jan. 1, meaning cash is staying in workers&rsquo; paychecks - and not going toward the state budget.</p><p>Agencies that have been in the headlines recently that have an impact on child welfare or overcrowded prisons rely on that budget, and directors at those agencies have highlighted the cuts that would have to happen if the lower tax rate continues.</p><p>That&rsquo;s all on top of an ongoing pension obligation debt that Gov. Pat Quinn&rsquo;s office has estimated tops $100 billion. Labor unions filed a lawsuit over a measure that saves the state money, but reduces retirement benefits of state workers. That lawsuit is still pending before the state Supreme Court. The justices&rsquo; decision could have a major impact on state spending for the foreseeable future.</p><p><strong>How will Rauner&rsquo;s management style fit in with the political culture in Springfield?</strong></p><p>Rauner&rsquo;s tagline throughout his campaign was to &ldquo;Shake up Springfield.&rdquo; But it&rsquo;s not yet clear how far he will take that phrase - or if he will recruit people with government experience in Springfield to be leaders in his administration. Republicans have taken a liking to Rauner since he&rsquo;s brought the state party money, organization, messaging and now power.</p><p>Several Democratic lawmakers have said they&rsquo;re still trying to get a grasp of what kind of governor Rauner is going to be, but seem open to working with him. If much legislation is to get passed, they&rsquo;ll have to work with Rauner: Democrats have a supermajority in both the House and Senate, meaning they could override a potential veto on a bill.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 09 Jan 2015 16:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/what-rauner-faces-he-takes-oath-governors-office-111378