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. 

Flickr user Pink Sherbet Photography / "Fizzy Purple Grape Soda" (CC v. 2.0)

Another attempt to tax sugary drinks is expected in the upcoming Illinois legislative session. Drinks like soda and even some juice have been linked to obesity, diabetes and other problems. 

Elissa Bassler, with the Illinois Public Health Institute, says a plan that came up in the past year would have imposed a penny per ounce tax on the drinks.  She says the new measure will be similar:

"It's a big idea and it takes some time for people to wrap their arms around it."

WNIJ

You might notice roads and bridges in need of repair as you drive around this holiday weekend. But revenue from a key funding source, the gas tax, has been declining.  It's charged per gallon of gas purchased. U of I professor Don Fullerton says it was created on a simple concept:

"The more you drive, the more gas you use.  The more you ought to have to pay for the road. It's sort of a benefit principle of taxation."

Improved mileage in vehicles means less gas is being used. Fullerton says change is needed to keep up with demand:

Agricultural runoff is a problem in Illinois and many other farm states.  Nitrogen, phosphorous and chemicals help with yields, but too much winds up in the water supply.   That creates problems like algae growth that robs the water of oxygen, killing off aquatic life. 

Jean Payne represents fertilizer and chemical dealers in the state.  She says a training program will launch this winter in an effort to get farmers better educated on how to apply nutrients to their crops, including the best time for application and proper amounts. 

A newly released survey shows a majority of Illinois residents are satisfied with the performance of their local police department.  But the numbers also show differences of opinion along racial lines. 

The statewide survey shows overall, 7 of 10 people in Illinois give police good marks.  But African Americans are more split, with only about half giving a commendable rating.

Deer can be more than a nuisance. They can be dangerous when they venture on to roads.  

Illinois saw a one percent drop in the number of crashes in 2013,but there were still over 15-thousand accidents.  There was also a slight increase in injuries from those collisions and six people died.

Madison and Cook County led the way in the number of deer-vehicle accidents with well over 400 each.

An internet event next week is aimed at reaching out to parents in the state. 

The Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois PTA have teamed up to offer their first Back To School webinar on Tuesday September 9.   It will feature the state superintendent and others giving parents more details about changes in schools.  That includes new learning standards and tests.

The Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois PTA have teamed up to offer their first Back To School webinar on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

A longtime aide to top Democratic officials in Illinois has died.   Gene Callahan passed away Monday morning at the age of 80 at his Springfield home.   Callahan worked for Alan Dixon, Paul Simon and Sam Shapiro. 

In an interview with the Lincoln Presidential Library's Oral History Program in 2011, Callahan talked about he was most proud of during his time in government:

If you thought last month was unseasonably mild in Illinois, you were correct.  In fact, it tied the record for the coolest July. 

State climatologist Jim Angel says this July matched the one in 2009 for cool temperatures.  

The statewide average was 70.3 degrees, a big departure from what is usually a hot and sticky time in the midwest.

Illinois is like most states when it comes to budget challenges.  Leaders must decide how to use tax dollars to pay for a variety of services. 

But Illinois ranks low when it comes to financial planning.  Nancy Hudspeth says some changes are needed.  She's the Associate Director of the Fiscal Futures Project at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs. 

Hudspeth wrote an article on the subject that appears below:

 

Abraham Lincoln's final resting place will be off limits to visitors for a few months as repairs are made. 

The Lincoln Tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield houses the former President, his wife and three of their four children.  

The state is investing more than 600 thousand dollars to restore interior finishes that have deteriorated over the years.  That includes plaster molding, paint, wall panels and plaques.  

The project will begin December first and won't be complete until early March.  The tomb will be closed to the public during that time.  

State Sen. Kwame Raoul says he's not jumping into the 2014 race for Illinois governor.  

The Chicago Democrat has been weighing a run for months and had boosted his fundraising.  

But he said in a statement Thursday he must focus on his role as chairman of a legislative conference committee that's working on Illinois' pension crisis.  

He says he made his decision after talking with his family and evaluating his resources. He also says he didn't want to ``create unnecessary divisions.''  

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