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News Around Illinois – Aug. 18, 2020

The latest news around the state, for Aug. 18, 2020.

Illinois Launches Online COVID-19 Hotspot Map For Travelers

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois public health officials on Monday launched a COVID-19 hotspot map for travelers to assess their risk before leaving the state. The online map shows which U.S. states have an average daily case rate of at least 15 cases per 100,000 people, which is considered higher risk. “This virus does not recognize borders and specific regions and it doesn’t stop at the edge of a region or a county,” Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said at an East St. Louis news conference. “We know that people may have to travel, but potentially based on where you may go that travel may increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19.” She urged travelers to factor in details like how to safely manage airport terminals and rest areas. – Sophia Tareen, Associated Press

SW Illinois Man Allegedly Ran Over His Wife, Killing Her

BELLEVILLE Ill. (AP) — A southwestern Illinois man faces charges alleging that he ran over his wife with a truck, killing her, while he was intoxicated. Teddy Weil, 62, was charged Monday with two counts of aggravated DUI in connection with Saturday night’s death of Donna Weil. The Lebanon, Illinois, man was being held at the St. Clair County Jail on $75,000 bond. The office of the St. Clair County State’s Attorney said Weil struck his wife and another woman, whose injuries have not been specified, while behind the wheel of his Ford F-150. His blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit, according to the county prosecutor, but by how much was also not specified, the Belleville News-Democrat reported. – Associated Press

Legal Move Delays ComEd’s First Installment of $200 Million Corruption Fine

Commonwealth Edison got a temporary reprieve from its due date to pay the first installment of a $200 million fine in a federal corruption case Monday. The delay came after a Chicago lawyer argued ComEd – which is supposed to pay the fine to the U.S. treasury – should instead pay back electricity-delivery customers who were victims of the power company’s long-running Springfield bribery scheme. Executives with the massive public utility had agreed to pay half of the fine within a month of announcing a deal with prosecutors on July 17, court records show. But lawyer Joseph Stewart argued “that restitution is due to non-federal victims of ComEd’s bribery scheme” before any money goes to the U.S. government. Under what’s known as a “deferred prosecution agreement” with prosecutors in Chicago, ComEd agreed to pay the fine to end a federal investigation into what the company admits was an eight-year effort to buy influence in the Illinois Capitol. In the agreement, the benefits of the scheme for ComEd were said to exceed $150 million. – Dan Mihalopoulos, WBEZ

Union Files Complaint Against WIU’s Plans for In-Person Classes

Western Illinois University intends to hold in-person classes beginning August 24 in Macomb and the Quad Cities. But the union representing faculty members is fighting that plan. The University Professionals of Illinois (UPI) said WIU failed to bargain with the union when developing the plan. “They’re still having a significant amount of face-to-face classes and the safety concerns have not been met,” said UPI President John Miller. “We’re bringing 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 students into an area like Macomb and the Quad Cities without the necessary safety procedures. So we don’t think the situation is safe.” Miller said Western should strive to hold classes remotely when possible during the pandemic. He said the university proved during the spring it can do that. He also said all students and employees should be tested for COVID-19 before they come onto campus, and that the best possible filtered air systems should be placed in every classroom. UPI has filed unfair labor practice charges with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB). The complaints name Western as well as Eastern Illinois University. – Rich Egger, WIUM

Bloomington To Study Indigenous Peoples Swap For Columbus Day

Bloomington city staff will examine converting the Columbus Day holiday to one honoring indigenous people, with a majority of the city council indicating at least some support for researching the question during a Committee of the Whole session Monday night. Council member Jenn Carrillo promoted the idea, using similar language to an earlier proposal to consider a Juneteenth holiday. Last fall, the Bloomington council passed a proclamation honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Carrillo said she wants to go further, and recent events related to social justice make such action more urgent. – Charlie Schlenker, WGLT

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Proposed Urbana City Council ward maps are available for review

The Urbana City Council is expected to review three proposed ward boundary maps at its June 3rd Committee of the Whole meeting. Meanwhile, the proposed maps are posted at the city’s website  for public review and comment. A link on the website’s front page takes users to information on ward redistricting. The map that wins council approval will replace Urbana’s current ward map.