Illinois Budget 7.24.09

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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Chris Biondi: WebCube and your newsroom.


Muslims hope for new era of understanding

SPRINGFIELD – Local Muslims say stereotypes against them still persist: disdainful looks, sneering comments and water-cooler jokes. But they also note progress is being made as people of different faiths learn more about what Muslims believe, and as Muslims themselves get more involved in the community. And they express hope that with Barack Obama in the White House, that tolerance, and the learning curve, will grow. By Steven Spearie of the State Journal-Register.


State Briefs. News from around the state.

STATEHOUSE INSIDER: Doug Finke is off this week. The Statehouse Insider will return next week.
EDUCATION CUTS: A followup on how advocacy groups will be dealing with the State Board of Education's new spending cuts, affecting thousands of children in early childhood education and other areas. By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol Bureau. For daily or weekend use.

WAITING BILLS: With the messy state budget crisis postponed for now, Gov. Pat Quinn now turns his attention back to hundreds of bills on his desk that lawmakers sent him this spring – ranging from campaign finance caps to higher truck speed limits. By Ryan Keith of the State Capitol Bureau. For weekend use.


Bus service chairman leads by example by converting personal car’s fuel system

PEORIA HEIGHTS – Don Shay remembers the exact moment he decided to convert. Last fall, the CityLink board chairman was at a public transportation convention in San Diego, where buses, cabs and public vehicles are powered by compressed natural gas. Standing behind a bus crammed with people, Shay noticed a key difference when the driver hit the gas: Everything was clean. No stink. No gray cloud. Pretty much on the spot, Shay decided to put his money and his vehicle where CityLink's mouth would like to be. By Terry Bibo of the Peoria Journal Star.

Tax credits help home sales climb

SPRINGFIELD – Amanda Parr planned to buy her first home with or without a federal tax credit, but the $7,500 certainly didn’t hurt. First-time home-buyer credits — the initial $7,500 credit offered last year has since increased to $8,000 — are a big part of a local home sales rebound that brought the first monthly increase in more than a year last month. By Tim Landis of the State Journal-Register. To localize: Check with local realtors to see if the tax credits have led to more home sales.


Little by little, backyard transforms into something special

RIVERTON – The rural homestead near Riverton that’s been home for William and Judy Keenan for 40 years has miniature horses, pygmy goats and bantam chickens that were incorporated for the sake of the grandchildren. But even though the grandkids are now nonchalant about the scene, it hasn’t affected how William views their yard full of trees, perennials and several water fountains. By Tamara Browning of the State Journal-Register.

Class offers up simple tips for healthy cooking

LOVES PARK – Master chef Charles Finney keeps his cooking demonstrations simple and keeps them healthy. From the time he lit a portable burner to the serving of his finished dish, Finney easily walked about 40 people through a recipe for cashew chicken Wednesday as part of a healthy cooking education venture called Chef-n-Action. The idea of Chef-n-Action is healthy food for healthy people through healthy cooking. By Mike DeDoncker of the Rockford Register Star.

Trick shot artist aims to entertain

MANITO – Dan Pfanz likes guns. He is particularly savvy with pump-style shotguns. He can throw aspirins in the air and shoot them before it hits the ground. He can flip two clay targets off the toe of his boot and hit them in midair. He can neatly clip two small targets from where they hang on a pole 10 feet in the air and smash them with a shotgun blast before they strike the dirt. By Tara Mattimoe of the Pekin Daily Times.


BRITT: Local toon.
Wood on Words: Stones have shaped civilization — and language

Early in the history of human beings, our ancestors discovered the potential of rocks for improving their quality of life. The role of rocks became so significant that we now refer to those times as the Stone Age.

Elizabeth Davies: I'll take not smiling over ID theft

Four U.S. states have — get this — banned smiles from driver’s license photos. Drivers in Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia no longer can show their pearly whites. The goal is to cut down on fake IDs and prevent identity theft.

Editorial: Judges make right-to-know standard clear

The people of Illinois owe Dr. Mark Gekas and justices of the 4th District Appellate Court their gratitude. In suing the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department to get complaints filed against a police officer he believed used excessive force against him, Gekas received a long overdue and sweeping ruling: Not everything in a police officer’s personnel record, particularly items involving citizen complaints, is a secret. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.

Editorial: CIA's conduct merits a look, not partisan blame

Secrets and skullduggery are the CIA's business, its reason for being. So just how secret should our spies be able to keep their business? An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: Parental notice act clears another legal challenge

For almost every medical procedure a minor girl gets — from teeth cleanings to eye exams to regular doctor visits to taking aspirin at school — a parent needs to be notified. Abortion has been the exception in Illinois. That will change Aug. 4 if there are no more legal delays. We support parental notification. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.

Editorial: Knock out the fatheads first

One of the more ridiculous charges bubbling to the surface following a presidential appointment has focused on the fact that Dr. Regina Benjamin wears a size 18 and is therefore unqualified to be Surgeon General. We may have an obesity epidemic — or maybe it’s just an obsession — but Dr. Benjamin’s weight, or anyone’s weight, should not be a work qualification. Better to disqualify the fatheads of this world than the fat tummies. An editorial from the Freeport Journal-Standard.

Editorial: Legislators must do better job of resolving budget issues

An episode of the 1970s sitcom “Sanford and Son” featured Fred Sanford advising his son, Lamont, that they could avoid unwanted expenditures by putting their household bills back in the mailbox. This is great stuff for a television program but not for a state budget. Yet this is exactly what Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois legislators did last week when they “worked out” a budget deal. An editorial from Suburban Life Publications.


Sunday Quick Shots: Perfect game just the start of what Buehrle could do

If a Chicago pitcher throws a perfect game and he’s not a Cub, does it make a sound? Evidently, it does. Mark Buehrle’s perfect game, greeted by headlines worthy of the Bears winning the Super Bowl, should at least temporarily quiet those legions of White Sox fans who complain the media only cares about the Cubs. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. Also contains items on the Cubs lack of trades, Nike and LeBron James, Michael Vick and the PGA Tour.

Cutler one answer, but Bears still have number of questions

The Chicago Bears answered their biggest question of the last half-century with a stunning trade for quarterback Jay Cutler this offseason. But they picked up an extra question for our annual pretraining camp analysis. Our traditional Five Burning Questions are now six, in honor of the new No. 6. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. For use Sunday, July 26.

John Supinie is on vacation.