Sean Crawford

Chatham

Community Advisory Board, Ex-Officio

Sean has led the NPR Illinois news operations since the fall of 2009. He replaced the only other person to do so in the station's history, Rich Bradley. Prior to taking over the News Department, Sean worked as Statehouse Bureau Chief for NPR Illinois and other Illinois Public Radio stations. He spent more than a dozen years on the capitol beat.

Sean  began his broadcasting career at his hometown station in Herrin, Illinois while still in high school.  It was there he learned to cover local government, courts and anything else that made the news.  He spent time in the Joliet area as News Director and Operations Manager for a radio station and worked for a chain of weekly newspapers for two years.  Along with news coverage, he reported heavily on sports and did on-air play by play. 

Sean holds a Master's Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield. 

Statewide, with host Sean Crawford, brings you reports and conversations from in and around Illinois.

A statewide survey shows support for changing Illinois’ income tax structure.   But opposition remains and there are plenty of hurdles to clear before it could become a reality.  

Statewide, with host Sean Crawford, brings you reports and conversations from in and around Illinois.

Statewide, with host Sean Crawford, brings you reports and conversations from in and around Illinois. 

Southern Illinoisan

This fall marks 35 years since Air Illinois Flight 710 crashed.  The commuter service flew to many smaller airports and provided a quick way for travelers to venture across the state.

That is until October 11, 1983.  The plane took off from Springfield, quickly ran into trouble and a half hour later went down in a southern Illinois farm field near Pinckneyville,  killing all 10 aboard.

Flickr user EXETERANNA / (CC x 2.0)

A college professor who performed his own audit of how local governments in Illinois handle Freedom of Information requests says the results were better than expected. Still, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Overall, local agencies did a good job at providing public records. But there is some bad news. They too often failed to post details on how to petitition for those documents and have a trained F-O-I officer.    

An effort is underway in Illinois that would let the terminally ill choose to end their life.  

BRIAN MACKEY / NPR ILLINOIS

A national study of state government budgeting gives Illinois low marks.  

It's no surprise to see Illinois fare poorly when it comes to finances.  A two year budget impasse created even more problems.

"It's hard to gauge the success of the budget in Illinois when you didn't have one," said Bill Glasgall with the non-partisan Volcker Alliance, which conducted the analysis titled "Truth And Integrity In State Budgeting: What is The Reality?"

Flickr User Marlano Mantel/CC 2.0

Some of the large trucks that share the road won't be inspected as often under a law taking effect in the new year. But those in the industry say it won't compromise safety.

Don Schaefer is with the Midwest Truckers Association. He said trucks that only do business in Illinois will see the inspection requirement go from every six months to just once a year, on par with long-haul interstate rigs. 

Bruce Rauner/YouTube

Gov. Bruce Rauner has made his long-awaited announcement that he is seeking re-election. The first term Republican issued a video Monday morning that features him riding his motorcycle through Illinois. It focuses on the agenda he has pushed since taking office, including property tax relief.     

In the video, he talks about battles waged with the General Assembly, adding that that he has won some and lost some, but “chooses to fight.”

Flickr User wonderlane/CC 2.0

A new Illinois law is expected to improve access to health care by giving more authority to certain nurses.  

flickr: https://www.seniorplanning.org/

The Illinois state pension funds are among the worst-funded in the nation.  Yet a new state law allows less money to be put toward that purpose. 

The largest state pension system covers Illinois teachers outside Chicago. Each year, an estimate is made of how much the state should contribute. But a change approved this summer means Illinois is paying $500 million less than that amount. Dave Urbanek, with the Teachers Retirement System, said the state is following the law -- and that's the problem.

FBI

Illinois State Police (ISP) officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are seeking the public’s assistance for information regarding the kidnapping and murder of Tammy J. Zywicki.  

Aug. 23 is the 25th anniversary of Tammy’s death, and her case remains active as the FBI and ISP continue exploring new leads, examining 200 items of evidence, and retesting items with modern DNA technology.

"Money" By Flickr User Pictures of Money / (CC BY 2.0)

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner kicked off a series of special sessions by signing a measure that will limit how much lawmakers will be paid.

The measure halts increases in salaries and their mileage reimbursements. Rauner said it was an example of legislators working together, since the idea had received wide support.

“We're announcing a step in the right direction to protect Illinois taxpayers, I want to thank the members of the General Assembly who came together on a bi-partisan basis to pass this legislation,” he said.

The Illinois Constitution has been in place since 1970, but there's an effort to consider drafting a new one. 

State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, has introduced a plan to hold another constitutional convention. He says there's plenty to talk about -- from the way the state taxes its residents and funds schools to how political district boundaries are drawn.

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / "Money" (CC v. 2.0)

Rental housing costs vary across the state, but there is no place where it's affordable to someone earning the minimum wage of $8.25 an hour.

Bob Palmer, Policy Director for Housing Action Illinois, said the numbers show a problem that can lead to more homelessness.

ilcampaign.org

Higher education has been among the areas feeling the state budget impasse as funding has been cut.  It has forced some schools to reduce classes, lay off employees and, in some cases, close for several days.

But a review of enrollment indicates small and mid-sized public universities are taking a double hit.  

The faculty will be back in class today for the start of finals week. The agreement was reached after long negotiations over the weekend including 16 hours Sunday.  Details won’t be released until a ratification vote later.

ALPLM

John Wilkes Booth is a villain in history.  Yet, he had a prominent spot in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield.

Since the facility opened in 2005, a sinister statue of Booth shadowed the Lincoln family as visitors entered the main plaza.  But that's not the case anymore. 

Spokesman Chris Wills said a decision was made to remove the statue.  “The leadership here…talked it over, listened to what guests had to say and staff, and decided that wasn’t the appropriate place to deal with John Wilkes Booth and what he did.”

 

As Illinois remains mired in gridlock and nearing two years without a full budget, voters are pinning the blame on state leaders.

John Cabello

A Rockford-area state representative who co-chaired Donald Trump's campaign in Illinois is going to Washington to see his candidate sworn in as president.

John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, says Trump's message of bringing back jobs resonated with him and, apparently, many others.

Cabello is the only Hispanic Republican in the legislature. He says that, when it comes to issues like a wall on the Mexican border and deportation of those who have immigrated here illegally,  he realizes he's at odds with some others in the Hispanic community.

Wikimedia

Hillary Clinton won the presidential race in the State of Illinois.  But may voters chose "none of the above."  

Nearly 130-thousand voters skipped the presidential category on the ballot, leaving that blank.  That's more than three times the number who sat out the presidential race 4 years earlier.   

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform compiled the numbers.  But the group can't point to one specific reason why so many voters avoided making a choice this time.   

Flickr user Michael Chen "Pills" (CC BY 2.0) bit.ly/1RgH2Na

An Illinois law that takes effect January first guarantees contraceptive coverage free of co-pays.

The federal Affordable Care Act already provides for that, but some insurers have managed to skirt requirements and have not covered all methods of birth control, according to Representative Elaine Nekritz. 

The Northbrook Democrat sponsored that law the Governor signed over the summer.

“The legislation would also allow and in fact require that a woman could get 12 months of contraception in one visit to the pharmacy,” Nekritz said.

J.B. Pritzker is rumored to be considering a Democratic run for Illinois governor. 

He’s heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, and it appears the GOP is taking him seriously. They recently issued a robocall attempting to link Pritzker with imprisoned former governor Rod Blagojevich. 

Rick Pearson is a political reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He says optimism of ending the 18-month budget impasse may inspire candidates like Pritzker to run for governor.

"Texting while Driving" By Flickr User Intel Free Press / (CC X 2.0)

A survey of teen drivers shows there's still plenty of work to do to get them to pay more attention on the road.

State Farm Insurance questioned drivers between 16 and 19 years old and found that 80 percent say they use their smartphones while driving. Missy Dundov, with the company, says there is more technology competing for the driver's focus. 

"Distracted driving is nothing new, but the level of it has changed," she said. "The electronics people have in their car ... Maybe it's not their phone. Even if they have a Bluetooth -- that can be distracting."

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug.  Not a very pretty name.  But it's becoming more likely you'll be seeing this invasive species around your home.  They are showing up in more parts of Illinois.  And, that's raising concerns.  

www.shakeout.org

The U.S. Geological Survey places Illinois at a high risk for a major quake in the next 50 years. Portions of the state are in the New Madrid and Wabash Valley Seismic Zones.

An international earthquake drill is scheduled this Thursday to get people ready in case "the big one" strikes.

The Great ShakeOut will stress the action "Drop, Cover, And Hold On" to help avoid injuries from falling items and debris. 

Patti Thompson, with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, admits people don't always think about earthquake preparedness.

  Illinois wind farms will bring more than 6 billion dollars to the state economy over their lifespan.  That’s according to a new study by Illinois State University.  Researchers factored in property taxes, jobs, and payment to land owners.  David Loomis, Director of the Center for Renewable Energy, says jobs are particularly affected.  

"During the construction phase, there's a lot of activity and people get employed.  There are about 2,500 jobs that are supported during that construction phase.  And about 226 long term jobs coming during operational phase," he says.   

"Garden" By HomeSpot HQ / (CC X 2.0)

A plan sitting on the Illinois governor's desk could protect gardeners and some of the places they get seeds.

Seed libraries and seed swaps have become more popular as a way for gardeners to share. However, in some other states, regulations can effectively shut them down. 

Those consumer protections are primarily meant for commercial seed sellers and can require expensive testing to make sure the product is what it claims to be.

Studies show prisoners who stay connected with their families have lower recidivism.  Yet, the cost of keeping in touch is proving quite high for many.  Prison phone call rates are unregulated.

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