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News Around Illinois – February 13, 2020

News Around Illinois Cover

Presidential Candidate Bloomberg Opens Offices In Illinois

ROCK ISLAND – Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to  open 14 campaign offices in the state, with 80 staff members, according to Will Dubbs, Bloomberg’s Deputy States Director. Between now and the Illinois primary on March 17, campaign workers will focus on recruiting volunteers for phone banks and canvassing. Five offices are located in Chicago, plus Rock Island, Springfield, and Belleville. Others will open soon in Aurora, Rockford, and Waukegan. – Herb Trix, WVIK News

Investigators Want To Know Why Transport Company Placed Child In Shackles

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois investigators are looking into what happened when a transportation company working for the state’s Department of Children and Family Services shackled a young foster child for several hours. The company, Jim Stewart Transportation, worked with the department since 2017. But DCFS says it revoked their contract after it allegedly shackled a child during a trip between Moline and Springfield, Missouri. That violated the department’s rules, which ban the use of hard restraints. DCFS spokesperson Jassen Strokosch says the agency is conducting its own investigation into the matter and will be reprimanding any employees who approved the transfer.  – Mike Smith, NPR Illinois

State Releasing Half-Billion Dollars For Innovation Programs

CHICAGO – Governor J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday that the state is releasing $500-million in capital funding for the University of Illinois’ Discovery Partners Institute and Illinois Innovation Network. Pritzker says the capital funds will allow DPI and the other hubs to begin architectural design work. The project seeks to spur economic growth through research and public-private partnerships. There are 15 hubs being built at public university campuses in the Illinois Innovation Network stretching from Rockford to Carbondale. – Brian Moline, Illinois Newsroom

Advocates Call For More Fair Distribution Of Illinois Medicaid Funds

SPRINGFIELD – A group of Illinois lawmakers and health care advocates want the state to more equitably provide money for low income hospital patients. State Rep. Chris Welch (D-Hillside) and state Sen. Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) have proposed legislation to change what’s known as the Medicaid hospital assessment program. That program sets aside an estimated $3.6 billion to help reimburse hospitals that care for patients who cannot afford expensive hospital stays and those without medical insurance. The money is supposed to be spread evenly among providers throughout Illinois each year based on a number of criteria. But supporters of the change argue that has not happened in the past.  – Olivia Mitchell, NPR Illinois

Black Eastern Illinois University Athlete Sues Local Police 

QUAD CITIES – Several police officers are being sued in federal court following their arrest of a black college student traveling through the Quad Cities last year. Jaylan Butler is a member of Eastern Illinois University swim team. He said on February 24, 2019, he was on a bus traveling back from a tournament when the bus stopped at a rest area along I-80 in East Moline. While standing outside, several officers raced up with guns drawn, threw him on the ground and arrested him. The officers eventually realized Butler was not the person they were looking for. The ACLU says Butler was arrested because he was a young black man. The defendants in the suit include East Moline police officer Travis Staes, Hampton officer Ethan Bush, and Rock Island County deputy Jack Asquini, plus a deputy whose last name is Pena, and two other officers listed as “John Doe’s.” The Rock Island County Sheriff says Butler was only detained briefly before the officers left to join the hunt for a fugitive in the area. – WVIK News

Southern Illinois Man Charged; Dog Suffered Chemical Burns

MADISON — A southern Illinois man is facing animal torture and cruelty charges for allegedly spraying a corrosive substance on a dog, causing chemical burns. Madison County prosecutors say 45-year-old Rodney W. Johnson of Granite City, was charged Tuesday. Prosecutors say the dog, a 10-year-old Maltese mix named Charlie, was dropped in critical condition at the Madison Police Department on Feb. 6. Police contacted an animal rescue agency in Granite City to get the dog emergency treatment for the burns. Madison city Detective Kyle Graham says the substance “completely ate away at the dog’s skin.” Investigators believe the burns were intentional. Johnson was being held on $40,000 bail. – Associated Press

No Injuries Or Hazards After Barges Break Loose At St. Louis

ST. LOUIS  — Towing vessels are working to gather up several barges that broke away from a fleeting area on the Mississippi River at St. Louis. The U.S. Coast Guard said the incident was reported at 3 a.m. Wednesday. Officials with the Coast Guard, Missouri Department of Transportation, Illinois State police and local agencies responded. The Coast Guard said there were no injuries or reports of pollution. The river was closed briefly before reopening. The exact number of barges that broke loose was not disclosed. The cause of the accident is under investigation. – Associated Press

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