Illinois Budget 10.30.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at Please check in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
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Web Cube moments of the week

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Unbuckled son put al-Marri investigation in motion

PEORIA – A 5-year-old boy looking out the back window of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri's car while riding unrestrained piqued a Peoria police officer's interest just more than eight years ago. The resulting traffic stop seemed routine enough, but it was the briefcase full of money at an East Peoria motel that drew the attention of Officer Greg Metz. "It was like in the movies, a briefcase with bundles of money. He pulled out one and began to peel off bills to pay for his bond," Metz said. "What the hell was that?" Metz called the department's FBI liaison. That set into motion events that culminated Thursday when al-Marri was sentenced to eight years and four months in federal prison for providing support to al-Qaida. Al-Marri pleaded guilty to the charges in April. By Andy Kravetz of the Peoria Journal Star.


State Briefs. News from around the state. Will be posted this evening.
For Sunday:
Statehouse Insider. By Doug Finke of the State Capitol Bureau. Will be posted this evening for use in Sunday editions.
VETO SESSION: Democrats push through campaign finance reforms despite Republican claims of another reform sham, and lawmakers squash ending free rides for seniors and deal with other action on the final day of the fall veto session. State Capitol Bureau. Will be posted this evening.
Dispute over golf carts on streets turns neighbor against neighbor

BELVIDERE – It’s neighbor against neighbor in River Reach subdivision over whether golf carts, which have become a common mode of transportation, should be legalized. Tension over the carts has grown enough that residents, armed with cameras, lie in wait for violators of any sort. It all started with a citation and a golf cart last year and since has turned the otherwise quiet patch of Spring Township into a paparazzi-infused community as residents take to their lawns and windows to perform surveillance on their neighbors. By Betsy Lopez Fritscher of the Rockford Register Star. To localize: Are there communities in your area where use of golf carts on streets is an issue?


Donations, volunteers get Computer Banc back up and running

SPRINGFIELD – The first sign of tough economic times at Computer Banc was the market for recycled circuit boards. Not that sales from recycled circuit boards were a big part of the organization’s $60,000 annual budget for refurbishing and donating computers to low-income families and social-service organizations. But the financial-market meltdown followed, corporate donors cut back, state grants disappeared or were harder to get, and both consumers and corporations started holding on to old systems a little longer. After an abrupt two-week shutdown in September, the organization is trying to regroup. By Tim Landis of the State Journal-Register.

Caterpillar drug plan creates concerns

HAVANA – Earlier this month, Caterpillar Inc. announced that it will fully reimburse drug plan holders only for prescriptions filled at either Walmart or Walgreen’s — and a lot of people are unhappy. Independent owners of hometown pharmacies say they are worried not only for their businesses but also for their many customers who are Caterpillar employees and retirees — many with whom they have decades-long relationships. By Tara Mattimoe of the Pekin Daily Times.


Cochlear implant surgery has grandfather rediscovering life

PEORIA – Mike Scheerer was sitting at his kitchen table, drinking his coffee - his regular morning ritual. But this particular morning, he kept hearing a "tick, tick, tick." "Do you hear that second hand?" Scheerer asks his guest. "I had never, ever heard that before." The soft click of his wall clock was the first distinct new sound Scheerer's brain picked out the morning after his new cochlear implant was turned on. By Jennifer Davis of the Peoria Journal Star.

Wheelchair doesn't stop tae kwon do student from earning black belt

AUBURN – In tae kwon do, age doesn’t factor into where you rank in the classroom. What you’ve achieved does. Danny Hicks has a front-row position at the Auvenshine School of Tae Kwon Do in Auburn. His hard work over the past decade has made him one of the highest-ranking students in the school: a first-degree black belt. And he got there in a manner few, if any, have: from the seat of a wheelchair. By Kelsea Gurski of the State Journal-Register.

Peoria residents win chance to witness winter solstice at ancient Irish structure

PEORIA – In December, Peoria residents Sheldon and MaryAnn Schafer will walk 60 feet into the dark center chamber of an ancient mound and stone formation in Northern Ireland and wait for the sun to rise. They will follow in the footsteps of those who built the Neolithic monument called Newgrange and who made the same walk on the same day to witness the same event - the return of the sun on the winter solstice - 5,200 years ago. By Scott Hilyard of the Peoria Journal Star.

Praise from the president: Elementary school class receives White House attention

CARTERVILLE – An annual writing project by Carterville second-graders brought praise from the White House earlier this year. Ashley Dixon’s class penned a book last spring entitled “If I Were President.” An envelope with a letter and photo from President Barack Obama reached Carterville in late September. By Matt Hawkins of The (Marion) Daily Republican.

Video Vault: Take a wild ride with Alfred Hitchcock

Back in 1958, when they were working on “North by Northwest,” Alfred Hitchcock told screenwriter Ernest Lehman that they weren’t making a movie. Instead, he explained, “We’re constructing an organ ... and we press this chord, and now the audience laughs; we press that chord, and they gasp, and we press these notes and they chuckle.” By Will Pfeifer of the Rockford Register Star.


BRITT: Local toon.
Wood on Words: Do you recall the many meanings of 'recall'?

“I don’t recall.” “I do not recall.” “I just don’t recall.” Then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wasn’t the first government official to have severe memory problems, nor was he the last. But he certainly set the bar fairly high in an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee in April 2007.

Elizabeth Davies: Taking every precaution against the flu

This year’s flu season has turned me into a germaphobe. It’s a completely foreign role to me. I was the woman who had a five-second rule on her child’s pacifier. I asserted, “That’s what an immune system is for!” when I got looks from other moms on the playground.

Editorial: Both sides earn a 'time out' in Obama vs. Fox feud

For as long as Barack Obama has been in the national eye, there has been little love lost between him and Fox News Channel. Both the president and the network have traded barbs, with Obama describing them as "entirely devoted to attacking my administration." A hard freeze has now settled in as aides have been making it clear the administration views Fox as anything but a legitimate news outlet. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: Be rational if you get sick

The H1N1 virus and its potential to kill has scared people, driving up emergency room visits. Given the publicity surrounding the virus, which health experts believe is causing most U.S. flu cases, precaution and fear are understandable. But it’s important for people to know that H1N1, while a new and aggressive flu strain, is not any more dangerous than the seasonal flu, which can also kill. It’s important to be rational if you get sick. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.


INSIDE THE LINES: Peoria Journal Star sports editor Bill Liesse takes an irreverent look at this weekend’s NFL games. Will be posted this evening for use in Sunday editions.
SUNDAY QUICK SHOTS: By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. Will be posted this evening for use in Sunday editions.
For Saturday:
Opponent feature on the Browns. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. Will be posted this evening.
For Sunday:
Browns-Bears preview. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. With Bears keys to the game. Will be posted this evening for use in Sunday editions.
For Monday:
BROWNS-BEARS: Game story and notes. Kickoff at noon. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. Will be posted Sunday evening.
Williams finds himself in familiar situation, but unfamiliar role

CHAMPAIGN – Juice Williams has been in this situation before, but not in this role. Three years ago as a freshman, Williams took over the starting quarterback spot from senior Tim Brasic. It's a job Williams held through a streak of 38 consecutive starts that included a 2007 upset over No. 1-ranked Ohio State, an appearance in the Rose Bowl when the Illini thought they were the next big thing and a record-setting performance in Michigan Stadium. Now, with the Illini’s season crumbling and his career winding down, Williams will share time with redshirt freshman Jacob Charest. By John Supinie.

BASKETBALL EXHIBITION: Illinois takes on Missouri Southern in an exhibition game. Tipoff 7 p.m. By John Supinie. Will be posted this evening.
For Sunday:
MICHIGAN-ILLINOIS: Game story and report card. Kickoff at 2:30 p.m. By John Supinie.
For Monday:
ILLINI Q&A: A look back and a look ahead. By John Supinie.