Friday Forum

WNIJ's Friday Forum features  in-depth interviews with state officials, community leaders, and others whose decisions influence your life. You can hear it every Friday during Morning Edition on 89.5 FM and WNIJ.org.

Jenna Dooley

On today’s Friday Forum, we talk with two northern Illinois superintendents about their goals for the coming year. We’ll also hear how they feel about the uncertainty in school funding from the state of Illinois.

Freeport Superintendent Mike Schiffman's goal for the new year is to better align his district's schools, both in philosophy and curriculum. He's hoping to accomplish this through increased contact with students and parents.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A border wall, ICE raids, detention centers, and street protests – immigration has been one of the hottest political issues over the past year. But how much do you know about the process that made America “a nation of immigrants?” On this Week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Susan Stephens sat down with immigration attorney Sara Dady, who’s with the Rockford law firm Dady and Hoffmann.

Jenna Dooley

Sewage treatment plants clean what comes down northern Illinois pipes under strict regulation from the Illinois EPA. But, as regulatory standards rise, plants in cities like DeKalb are forming “reclamation districts” to help spread out the cost of mandatory upgrades among small communities.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The Centers for Disease Control says the number of prescription opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. more than quadrupled since 1999. One Rockford pharmacist says reducing the number of prescriptions – both new and unused – may help reduce the recreational use of those prescriptions, but it may not help people who actually need the medications.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

For some kids, summer means packing your shorts and bug spray and heading off to camp. For some local teachers, camp means early morning lectures and late night discussions about race, gender, and privilege. At least it did last week at Northern Illinois University. WNIJ’s Susan Stephens stopped by Social Justice Summer Camp for this week’s Friday Forum.

congress.gov

On A Friday Forum earlier this year, Illinois U.S. Representatives Bill Foster and Randy Hultgren talked about their hopes and concerns for the new Congress as it began its work. For this week's Friday Forum, WNIJ's Guy Stephens asked the two for an update on how things are going in Congress.

City of Dixon

In 2012, Dixon officials discovered that city comptroller Rita Crundwell had embezzled more than $53 million over the course of two decades. The insularity afforded by her position played a large part in spurring residents to vote to shift Dixon toward a council-manager form of government.  This involves converting commissioners to council members and appointing a city manager to oversee day-to-day work. The City of Freeport adopted this model earlier this year, hired a city manager, and eliminated its water and sewer departments.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The partisan divide in Springfield seems wider than ever as Illinoisans brace for the start of another fiscal year without a budget. Lawmakers adjourned Wednesday without a spending plan. In this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Susan Stephens asked Rockford University Economics and Political Science Professor Bob Evans how we ended up here again.

The issue of health is everywhere today, from national policy all the way down to what we do as individuals.

In this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Victor Yehling talks with Dr. Thomas Schiller, medical director of BetterLife Wellness at SwedishAmerican Health Systems, about what individuals can do to improve their health – and what support and encouragement is available.

The idea of a “better life” sounds very appealing, and Schiller makes it very clear that each person can have a profound effect on his or her own health.

DeKalb Juvenile Offenses Increase By 100 In One Year

May 21, 2017
DeKalb, Illinois Police Department

Juvenile crime in DeKalb rose from 2015 to 2016, according to the last police department annual report – and overall crime this year is on track to increase from last year.

The most recent DeKalb Police annual report says there were 480 juvenile offenses in 2016. That tops the 2015 figure by more than one hundred offenses; there were the same number of juvenile offenses in 2014 as there were in 2015.

Guy Stephens/WNIJ

When Jim Gitz steps down as Freeport mayor next week, it will mark the end of an era. Voters approved moving to a city manager system of government last November.

Freeport joins scores of cities in the state, including DeKalb and Woodstock, where day-to-day operations are run by a professional administrator.  The move means Gitz was the city’s last full-time mayor.

Pres. Donald Trump has been in office for 100 days -- and one week. He promised to shake things up in Washington. How do his policies and actions at the top trickle down to local political organizations? We asked a couple of local party leaders for this week’s Friday Forum.

           

Paul Stoddard chairs the DeKalb County Democratic Party and Jim Thompson is Winnebago County’s Republican Party chairman.

 

Jerry Smith was elected Mayor of DeKalb earlier this month and takes office May 8.  He discusses his plans for the city in this week's Friday Forum.

Three candidates challenged incumbent John Rey in DeKalb’s mayoral race this spring: Smith, Misty Haji-Sheikh, and Michael Embrey. Although Smith originally hails from Dixon, he was motivated to run by his deep connections to DeKalb.

“I’ve been here now for 56 years, after having come as a student at Northern Illinois in 1961," he said, "and I felt this was a way I could give back to this community.”

Falling credit ratings for Illinois institutions of higher learning are a trickle-down effect from the Illinois budget impasse that has lasted nearly two years. The state as a whole has found itself under constant scrutiny by the credit-rating agencies.

Richard Masoner/Cyclelicious / "U.S. Mexico border" (CC V. 2.0)

Immigration in the U.S. remains a hot topic, and the controversy surrounding it only keeps evolving. That comes after a few executive orders from President Donald Trump that give local law enforcement the ability to detain undocumented immigrants.

Jenna Dooley

Three candidates are challenging an incumbent in the DeKalb mayor's race.  They all have roots in the city and personal connections with DeKalb's largest employer: Northern Illinois University. A major driver to see their name on the ballot is a quest to bring jobs and economic stability to the city.

As host of a recent candidate forum, The House Cafe in downtown DeKalb is often used as an example of an ideal "town and gown" venue.  It has live music and coffee to draw in both students and residents. But it's seen some turnover in ownership in recent years.

photos courtesy of the campaigns

Rockford voters will choose a new mayor April 4. Mayor Larry Morrissey decided last year he wouldn’t run for re-election, after 12 years in office.

County governments are responsible for building regional police stations and jails.   But when those buildings get too old, there may be obstacles to getting them replaced.

Back in the 1960s, Ogle County built its current jail. About 10 years later, Lee County followed suit.  These buildings have served their purpose, but Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle says keeping the facility running has become increasingly difficult.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Back in 2005, a young lawyer running as an Independent shocked the establishment by beating the Democratic incumbent in the Rockford mayor’s race. Now, 12 years later, he’s ready to hand the keys to his 8th floor city hall office to the next mayor. In today’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Susan Stephens sat down with Larry Morrissey to talk about his three terms as mayor and his plans for the future. 

pocan.house.gov

This week’s Friday Forum features Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan.  He took the seat in Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District in 2013 after 14 years in the state assembly.

Pocan’s district cover all or parts of seven counties in south central Wisconsin, stretching from Beloit west and north to Madison and beyond.

Congress and the administration are considering a full and varied plate of proposals, but Pocan says there is one thing they should all aspire to do.

We continue our weekly Friday Forum with a primary preview for an office that doesn't usually get a lot of attention. 

 

 

 

While not considered a glamorous job, the down-ballot Freeport Township Assessor race sure is getting a lot of attention. Just check recent “Letters to the Editor” for proof.

Election cycles always mean a turnover in county officials. Some of these new public servants may see this as a clean slate, but many have to deal with issues from a previous administration. 

The new LaSalle County State's Attorney campaigned against and eventually shut down a program established by the person she defeated for the job. 

pritchardstaterep.org

Today on WNIJ’s Friday Forum, we take on education in Illinois. 

State Rep. Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley) is a member of the bipartisan bicameral commission tasked with reforming school funding in Illinois. The commission's recent report set a goal of increasing state funding for education from 26% to 50%. Pritchard says they also came up with 27 factors to help identify, then close, funding gaps between the wealthiest and poorest districts. 

congress.gov

This week’s WNIJ Friday Forum features two Congressmen who are entering their fourth terms representing parts of northern Illinois.

We continue WNIJ’s Friday Forum, in which we interview politicians and others whose decisions affect you. This morning, we check in with two new county board chairmen in northern Illinois. We’ll hear how the two men will attempt to transform their campaign platforms into action plans.

WNIJ continues its Friday Forum with two state senators and their priorities in the 100th General Assembly. 

Democrat Steve Stadelman and Republican Dave Syverson represent Illinois’ 34th and 35th senate districts respectively.  The 34th district comprises Rockford and its surrounding municipalities, while the 35th encompasses the cities of DeKalb, Sycamore, Genoa, Belvidere, and Rockton.

U.S. Congress

We kick off a new series on WNIJ this morning: the Friday Forum. Today, we catch up with two members of the U.S. House from northern Illinois, just as the 115th Congress is getting underway. 

Republican Adam Kinzinger represents the 16th district, which stretches from the Wisconsin state line to the Indiana state line. It includes portions of Rockford, DeKalb, and Dixon. Democrat Cheri Bustos represents the 17th district. She just started her third term representing the western Illinois area that runs along the Mississippi River and reaches into portions of Rockford and Peoria.

More news about state and regional government and politics.

That was one highlight from a recent survey of WNIJ listeners. And it makes sense, because research shows public radio listeners pay close attention to the words and actions of elected and appointed officials.

With this in mind, WNIJ News is launching a new series called Friday Forum.  It will feature in-depth interviews with state officials, community leaders, and others whose decisions influence your life.

WNIJ's Director and General Manager, Staci Hoste, is proud of this weekly segment:

Pages