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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Around Illinois – May 21

  • Korean shellfish considered “tainted
  • “Biondo bill” is put on the shelf – for now
  • Rockford Parks police vote yes for union
  • Shimkus aide wins 13th District ballot spot
  • Polish president honors governor, Guard members

Shellfish from Korea should be discarded

Oysters, clams, mussels or scallops from Korea in your refrigerator or freezer should be thrown out, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The IDPH reports that the Food and Drug Administration found significant problems with those products, including:

  • Ineffective management of pollution sources that can impact shellfish growing areas;
  • Inadequate sanitary controls to prevent discharge of human waste from fish farms and vessels near shellfish growing areas
  • Detection of norovirus in shellfish growing areas analyzed by FDA

Because of inadequate sanitation controls, mollusks harvested from Korean waters may be contaminated with norovirus. Imports of mollusks from polluted waters in Korea was stopped May 1.
Korean mollusks imported before May 1 and any product made with Korean mollusks are considered adulterated. The FDA is currently working to determine the distribution of the product.

Consumers who are concerned about recent mollusk purchases should contact the store from which it was purchased and ask where the shellfish were harvested. Product from Korea should not be consumed.

No U.S. illnesses from the consumption of Korean shellfish have been reported in 2012.

Legislature shelves “Biondo bill” -- for now

Both houses of the Illinois Legislature have sent the so-called “Biondo bill” to committee, effectively ending the immediate possibility that state law will be brought into conformity with Ted Biondo’s positions on both the Winnebago County Board and the Rock Valley College Board of Trustees.

Senate Bill 3182 is sponsored by Sen. Dave Syverson, freshman Rep. Joe Sosnowski, and retiring Rep. Dave Winters – all Rockford Republicans. It would clarify a state law that allows County Board members to serve on community college boards in counties with fewer than 40,000 residents – but doesn’t mention what’s permissible in counties with more residents.

Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan issued a non-binding opinion earlier this year that Biondo’s participation on both boards is a violation of law, but Biondo said he planned to keep both positions because lawmakers were going to fix the problem.

Syverson told the Rockford Register Star the bill was shelved because “they wanted more time ... to look at a number of areas where either there should be a conflict of interest and we should change that or there is really not a conflict of interest and we need to clarify that. We just didn’t want to do a piecemeal, one or two (cases) at a time. They’d rather look at a series of (cases) all at one time.”

The bill also cleans up confusion over Biondo’s need to run for re-election in 2008 following his appointment to the Winnebago County Board in August of that year. The Illinois Supreme Court eventually threw him out of that seat, but he was elected in his own right in 2010.

The issues could be resurrected in the fall veto session, according to legislative leaders.

Rockford Park District Police vote to unionize

Rockford Park District Park Police have voted to designate the Policemen’s Benevolent Labor Committee (PBLC) to represent all of the Park District’s patrol and event officers--11 full-timers and 44 part-timers.

Three separate votes were taken to determine if full-time police officers, part-time police/patrol officers, and part-time facility/event officers would be represented by PBLC. All three groups voted to unionize.

In 2011, an internal department probe resulted in suspension of two officers and the resignation of the two highest-ranking supervisors. Members of the department cited a need for representation during such investigations as the primary impetus for unionizing.

The results do not become final for approximately one week, pending possible objections by either party. If the results are certified by the Illinois Labor Relations Board, “the District will bargain in good faith while providing the highest level of safety and security for our citizens,” said Rockford Park District Chief of Police Theo Glover.

Congessional aide will fill 13th District GOP slot

An aide to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus will represent the Republican party in the race for the 13th Congressional District this fall. GOP county chairmen in the district met Saturday and chose Rodney Davis of Taylorville over three other hopefuls.

He'll replace Congressman Tim Johnson on the November ballot. Johnson won his primary contest before announcing he won't seek another term. That prompted weeks of speculation over who would fill the ballot vacancy.

Mike Bigger, Republican Chair of Stark County outside the district, was brought in to head the selection committee.

"It was a weighty and very difficult decision to make, but one I think they were very proud to be involved with,” Bigger said. “I think they feel very confident that Rodney Davis is going to win this seat, and everyone who is here is going to support Rodney and make him the next congressman in the 13th." 

Bigger says there was more than one vote among the chairmen, but he added all are behind Davis. The other finalists were a former aide to Johnson, a small business owner and a former Miss America.

Davis will face Democratic nominee Dr. David Gill, of Bloomington, who saidhe wasn’t surprised Davis was selected.

 “Mr. Shimkus appeared to have some sway with these matters,” Gill said, “and so I thought his staff member might have a really good chance at being anointed by the county chairman there.”

Labeling Davis a Washington insider, Gill has challenged his opponent to turn down corporate campaign cash as he starts his campaign.

Polish president, Gov. Quinn visit National Guard facility

Gov. Pat Quinn and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski stopped by the Illinois Army National Guard Training Center in Marseilles this weekend to visit with National Guard members and Polish officers in training.

Komorowski presented the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland to Quinn, Guard Adjutant General William Enyart, and 13 other guard members – including Master Sgt. Richard Schap of Sycamore. The award is presented to foreigners for distinguished contribution to international cooperation with Poland.

In addition to maintaining a strong military partnership, Illinois exports to Poland totaled nearly $200 million in 2011, an 11% percent increase over 2010. Overall, Illinois ranks fifth among U.S. state in exports to Poland. Approximately 1 million Polish-Americans live in the Chicago Area, the largest concentation of people of Polish Heritage outside Warsaw.

The visit by Polish dignitaries coincides with the NATO Summit

Komorowski and other Polish dignitaries witnessed various training, including firearms and vehicle rollover simulations, as well as assembling and dissembling military equipment. Illinois National Guard soldiers have co-deployed with every Polish rotation to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. Prior to deployment, Polish soldiers travel to Illinois to conduct training at MTC.