>>New Law Helps Struggling Homeowners
(Springfield, IL) -- A new law is designed to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. Governor Quinn signed a bill into law yesterday, giving homeowners a 90-day grace period before foreclosure. The law requires mortgage holders to notify homeowners who are at least 30 days later on their payments that they have one month to seek counseling and get their loan back on track. If the homeowner enters counseling, they get an additional 30 days to work out a payment plan or refinance their loan.
>>DCFS Not Investigating Child Abuse In Allotted Time
(Springfield, IL) -- Abused kids in Illinois may not be getting proper attention from the state. A recent audit reveals the DCFS missed the deadline to investigate nearly 900 abuse cases last year. That’s up from just 115 the year before. Reports indicate it’s the biggest backlog since 2006. Officials at the DCFS say they’ve had a record number of child deaths in the past year and investigating those cases take time.
>>U Of I Hacker Gains Access To Sensitive Information
(Champaign, IL) -- A former U of I student may have gained access to three thousand student social security numbers when he hacked the systems. Daniel Beckwitt pleaded guilty to computer fraud earlier this month but police now say the extent of his crime was greater than they first believed. The original charges nagged Beckwitt for tampering with email accounts, damaging the locks on school computers, and installing “key loggers” to get access to sensitive information during the 2011-2012 school year. But now police say Beckwitt also sneaked into an office at Hendrick House residence hall and used a thumb drive to download student information, including their social security numbers. Officials don’t believe Beckwitt used the numbers in any way but they are notifying students who were impacted.
>>State Rep To Host “Teeni Weeni Bikini Martini” Fundraiser
(Crystal Lake, IL) -- One state rep is thinking out of the box when it comes to raising money. Crystal Lake rep Barbara Wheeler is hosting a “Teeni Weeni Bikini Martini” fundraiser tomorrow and tickets to the event come at a pretty hefty cost. Anyone suiting up in a one-piece will pay 250-bucks to attend the event, wearing a bikini is 500-bucks, and those brave souls who wear a Speedo will dish out a grand. Wheeler says the event was originally started as a simple martini fundraiser but she decided to change it up after one of her friends opened up a “really awesome pool” in her backyard.
>>House Rejects Farm Bill
(Washington, DC) -- The debate over welfare benefits continues to derail plans to help farmers across the nation. The U.S. House shot down the five-year Farm Bill. Many opponents voted against the plan because it would’ve cut 20-billion dollars from the SNAP Food Stamp Program. Congressman Bill Enyart didn’t like the idea of cutting food stamps, but he says overall, the Farm Bill was a good deal for farmers in Illinois. It would’ve strengthened the crop insurance program, provided funds for Midwestern waterways, and given farmers access to lines of credit to expand their businesses.
>>Government Dishes Out Millions In Flood Aid
(Undated) -- The federal government has dished out more than 100-million dollars to help Illinois residents who were impacted by spring floods. The money has been divvied up among 38-thousand people in 33 counties. It can be used to help pay for housing, repairs, or to replace the valuables that may have been damaged in the floods. It’s not too late for people in disaster areas to apply for aid. They can register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362.
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>>Man Can Stand Trial On Murder Charges
(Percy, IL) -- The man accused of killing four kids after setting their home on fire is fit to stand trial. Derrick Twardoski had a mental exam after pleading not guilty to setting the Percy home on fire last month. The kids were reportedly sleeping on the second floor when the fire broke out in the early morning hours on May 10th. A judge says Twardoski can face trial and he’ll be back in court in August.
>>Bat Activity On The Rise
(Undated) -- Bats are starting to become more active, which means the possibility of exposure to rabies is increasing. Bats are the primary carrier of rabies in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health has already had eight bats test positive for rabies this year. Officials urge people to stay away from bats and if they spot one in or near their home, they should call the local health department or animal control immediately.
>>No Pension Conference Committee Meeting Today
(Springfield, IL) -- The newly formed conference committee designed to deal with pensions isn’t meeting today. One state rep says there’s a tentative meeting planned for next Thursday, in Chicago. The bi-partisan group of ten lawmakers has been charged with coming up with a compromise to reform the pension systems. Right now the systems are underfunded by 97-billion dollars and if lawmakers don’t find a solution, the systems will eventually go bankrupt.
>>Montgomery County GOP Chairman Steps Down
(Montgomery County, IL) -- The Republican Party acted quickly to remove the Montgomery County Chairman after he dished out racial slurs. Jim Allen faced scrutiny from local, state, and national party leaders after he called Erika Harold a “Street walker” and “love child” of Democrats. Harold is an African American attorney and former Miss America, who’s challenging Congressman Rodney Davis in the 13th District. Allen’s comments drew criticism from National GOP Party Chairman Reince Preibus, who called the remarks “astonishingly offensive” and called for Allen to step down.
>>Thousands Get Food Assistance After Spring Floods
(Undated) -- Today is the last day to apply for the Disaster SNAP assistance. People who were impacted by spring floods and need help covering the cost of food may be eligible for the temporary food stamps. To qualify, they must meet certain income guidelines, and they must have proof that they paid disaster related expenses that haven’t been reimbursed. Applicants must show proof of ID, residency, and disaster related receipts between April 16th and May 15th. The Department of Human Services will take applications until 1:00 this afternoon.
>>Unemployment Down In Illinois
(Undated) -- The unemployment rate is down in Illinois. Nearly 12-thousand people found work last month, pushing the unemployment rate down to nine-point-one percent. Most of the jobs were in the construction field. It’s the second month in a row the state has seen improvements but the state’s unemployment rate is still much higher than the national rate of seven-point-six percent.
>>First Day Of Summer Is Here
(Undated) -- It’s officially the first day of summer. That means the sun will shine longer today than any other day of the year. But, the sunshine won’t last too long. The days will actually start getting shorter, starting tomorrow.
>>State Workers Getting Overdue Raises
(Springfield, IL) -- The Quinn administration will start paying overdue raises to state workers July 1st even though lawmakers didn't approve all the necessary funding. The 35-thousand workers will get raises of at least seven-and-a-quarter-percent in the new fiscal year, but the state doesn't have the money to pay for raises that were due in 2011. A court case that resulted in an order for Quinn to pay the raises is still pending. It's not clear if the newly-approved state budget includes enough money to pay the unionized workers their back wages.
>>Kirk Backs Tougher Border Security Plan As Part Of Immigration Reform
(Washington, DC) -- Civil rights groups are protesting a new compromise on border security that was demanded by some Republican U.S. Senators including Illinois' Mark Kirk. As a condition of their support for immigration reform, the Republicans are demanding 20-thousand new border patrol officers, 700-miles of fencing and more surveillance drones. A statement from Kirk said that the compromise "will restore the people's trust in our ability to control the border." Opponents say the plan would militarize the border and add 30-billion-dollars to the immigration reform plan.
>>IDOT Slapped For Bad Record-Keeping
(City, IL) -- A state audit says IDOT does a sloppy job of keeping its books. The state's auditor general says too many emergency contracts have been hastily awarded for routine jobs like trash collection, and claims of overtime are not routinely checked. The audit also found that IDOT spent nearly two-million-dollars more than it should have for materials, including road salt. This audit follows a report last month that showed that less than half the money spent by IDOT over the past two years actually went for road construction.
>>Congressman Asks Supporter To Quit After Racist Email
(Springfield, IL) -- Illinois congressman Rodney Davis is asking campaign supporter Jim Allen to leave his post as Montgomery County GOP chairman after Davis's racially-tinged email about Davis' opponent. Allen's email, posted on a Republican blogger's website, referred to Erika Harold as a "street walker" and the "love child" of Democrats. Harold is a bi-racial Harvard law school graduate who was Miss America in 2003. Allen also said Harold could fill a "minority quota" if she lost the Republican primary.
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>>Investigation Finds Former County Clerk Groped Women In His Office
(Belleville, IL) -- An internal investigation has substantiated some of the sexual harassment claims made about former St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney by a former employee. The internal report found that Delaney drank on the job, used racial slurs and cultivated a climate of fear and racial discrimination. The report by the county's equal employment opportunity officer found that Delaney routinely groped and kissed women working for him. Delaney resigned abruptly yesterday and denies the charges. Former assistant clerk Laura Romero sued Delaney for wrongful termination and her attorney says Delaney also rewarded women who were willing to be groped with pay raises.
>>Police Arrest Ankeny Man For Child Porn
(Ankeny, IA) -- Pleasant Hill police say they found a "huge amount" of child pornography on the computer of an Ankeny man and are trying to find out if any local children are victims. Forty-eight-year-old Paul Hildreth has been charged with a pair of counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and has bonded out of the Polk County Jail. Police say they found over one terabyte of suspected child pornography videos and photos on his computer. More charges could be filed.