BC-IL--Illinois News Digest, IL

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Associated Press

Posted on April 26, 2013 at 5:00 AM

Updated Friday, Apr 26 at 5:00 AM

The supervisor is Jason Keyser, followed by Caryn Rousseau. The photo editor is Bob Graves.

If you have stories of regional or statewide interest, please email them to chifax(at)ap.org or fax them to the Chicago bureau at 312-781-1989. If you have photos of regional or statewide interest, please transmit them to AP's Chicago photo desk. If you have questions about the Illinois AP news report, please call the Chicago bureau supervisor at 800-572-2585 or 312-920-3626. For questions about the photo report, please call the Chicago photo editor at 888-276-3804. If you're having problems with your AP equipment, please call AP Customer Support at 877-836-9477.

GAMBLING EXPANSION

SPRINGFIELD — Supporters of a proposal to expand gambling in Illinois are tweaking the legislation in hopes of improving its chances with the Legislature and Gov. Pat Quinn, who has vetoed two previous proposals and says he still has concerns. Sen. President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, plans to strip language that would legalize Internet gambling from the bill, his spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said. She said it had become clear that the governor and some legislators who supported previous gambling bills had concerns that could derail passage of the larger package. Cullerton plans to introduce Internet gambling as a separate measure. The Senate also could consider amendments to address questions from the chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board, which regulates gambling. By Sara Burnett.

AP Photos CX103-104.

GAMBLING-AUDIT

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers never changed state law to allow the transfer of tens of millions of dollars due to the state's horse racing industry, so the money is sitting unused in a Gaming Board account, an audit has found. Money from a riverboat casino that opened in Des Plaines nearly two years ago is generating the money — according to horse racing officials, more than $115 million so far that was supposed to alleviate casino wagering's impact on horse tracks. Auditor General William Holland's report of the Des Plaines boat's gross receipts, said 15 percent is supposed to go to a Horse Racing Equity Fund and 2 percent to Chicago State University. The audit through June 2012 found $59 million owed to the horse racing fund and $7.9 million due Chicago State. By AP Political Writer John O'Connor.

STATE WORKERS CONTRACT-FUNDING

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn wants Attorney General Lisa Madigan to drop a lawsuit over back pay for unionized state workers so he can implement a new state contract he says will save hundreds of millions of dollars. But Madigan's office said the attorney general won't dissolve the legal action until her lawyers know whether lawmakers will put up $140 million to pay the back wages that are at the center of the wrangling. If there's a hang-up in the General Assembly, the attorney general needs to keep legal options open, spokeswoman Natalie Bauer said. Quinn and the employees' union settled the dispute at the bargaining table, and his assistant budget director, Abdon Pallasch, said prolonging the lawsuit holds up $900 million in health care savings. By AP Political Writer John O'Connor.

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR-SCHOCK

PEORIA — The campaign manager for Republican Aaron Schock says the three-term congressman will seek re-election and forgo a run for Illinois governor. Steve Shearer says Schock has concluded he can do more on Capitol Hill as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee than as governor. He said Schock could work on comprehensive tax reform and long-term repairs to entitlement programs. Shearer says that although a number of issues were considered in making the decision, the possibility of a tough race was not one of them.

ILLINOIS-SHOOTING DEATHS

MANCHESTER — The man suspected of storming a south-central Illinois home and killing five members of the same family with a shotgun had been in some kind of dispute with at least one of the victims, but authorities said they were still trying to determine if it had something to do with the custody of a child. Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said investigators were running down media reports about a possible custody battle involving Rick O. Smith, and were going to places he frequented. "Investigators are going to locations where some of his last known addresses, locations he frequented, talking to family and friends, just kind of backtracking to see what can be pieced together," she said. By Regina Garcia Cano.

AP Photos CX109, RPRC101, ILSPR501-502, ILJAC502.

ISU KILLING-BEAMAN

URBANA — Alan Beaman's years-long wait to clear his name, including 13 years spent in prison, ended with a brief hearing and low-key legal formalities that declared him innocent in the 1993 killing of his former girlfriend. After a judge agreed to grant him a certificate of innocence, the missing piece Beaman has sought since he was freed from prison in 2008, Beaman calmly walked out of an Urbana courtroom with his wife and parents. He told reporters he was relieved but had expected the outcome. Beaman, now 40, had been convicted in the strangulation death of Illinois State University student Jennifer Lockmiller. He was serving a 50-year sentence when the Illinois Supreme Court reversed his conviction in 2008, and DNA testing pointed to two previously unknown potential suspects in the case. By David Mercer.

AP Photos ILHN101, ILBLO101.

IMPOUNDED CARS-BANKRUPTCY

CHICAGO — It's an audacious scheme even for a city with a reputation for corruption: Hundreds of Chicago residents allegedly filed for bankruptcy, not because they're actually bankrupt, but to get out of paying hefty impound fines and retrieve their towed cars for free. A complaint revealing the existence of the alleged fraud was released Thursday after the arrest of a 30-year-old Chicago man accused of offering, for a fee of his own, to show drivers how to initiate bankruptcy proceedings just long enough to get their cars out of a city auto pound fine-free. "This is the first time I've ever heard of anything like this," said Mehul Desai, a Chicago bankruptcy lawyer with no link to the case. By Michael Tarm.

QUINN-VETERAN HOUSING

CHICAGO — A housing complex geared toward helping veterans at risk of becoming homeless will be built on Chicago's South Side next year. The Hope Manor II apartments, funded by federal, state and city grant money, will have 73 units, ranging from studio to four-bedroom apartments. Residents will have access to services such as job training, family counseling and mental health screening. The project expands on a concept started last summer, when the original Hope Manor opened on Chicago's West Side. The idea is to help veterans, who experience a higher rate of homelessness than other groups, stay off the streets and get their lives on track. By Sophia Tareen.

AP Photos CX105-107.

WITH:

—VETERAN HOUSING-VETERAN, from CHICAGO: Desert Storm veteran Steven Brooks says he knows the value of a planned housing complex geared toward helping veterans at risk for homelessness.

DROUGHT-WASHING AWAY

DES MOINES, Iowa — As spring rains soaked the central United States and helped conquer the historic drought, a new problem has sprouted: The fields have turned to mud. The weekly drought monitor report by National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb., showed the heavy rains that also caused some flooding in the last week brought drought relief to the upper Midwest, western Corn Belt and central portions of the Plains. Farmers may be thankful the land is no longer parched, but it's too wet to plant in corn country and freezing temperatures and lingering snow have ruined the winter wheat crop. By David Pitt.

AP Photos NENH101-105, NENH108-109.

SPRING FLOODING-SEQUESTER

WASHINGTON — More than 100 crucial gauges that warn of imminent flooding or lack of needed water will be shut down starting next month as part of the federal government's automatic budget cuts. Some are in the nine states threatened with spring flooding, U.S. Geological Survey officials said in interviews with The Associated Press. In rivers where flooding is imminent, such as near Fargo, N.D., officials are scrambling to keep needed monitors working and make the cuts elsewhere. Details are still to be worked out, officials said. Agency flood coordinator Robert Holmes said that without a full fleet of stream gauges, it is harder to warn people about flooding. For example, he said, the Illinois River was rising fast a few nights ago and the National Weather Service forecast was so dire that officials figured it wasn't worth fighting the flood if they were going to lose anyway. By Seth Borenstein.

AP Photos ILSPR102-103, ILSP105, ILSP110, WX108.

BUSINESS:

EARNS-UNITED CONTINENTAL

UNDATED — United Airlines says it's on the way to fixing the reliability problems that have driven away travelers. Now it needs to reliably make money. The airline's parent company reported a $417 million first-quarter loss. CEO Jeff Smisek was disappointed with the financial result, but said the airline is making strides in customer service that will eventually help the bottom line. Chicago-based United is giving customer service training to airport workers and flight attendants worldwide, including those who fly on regional airlines hired by United. New software is supposed to make it easier for gate agents and ticket counter workers to manage flights. United is spending more on maintenance and has changed how it handles spare parts to make its planes more reliable. By Joshua Freed.

AP Photo NYBZ172.

TRADING GLINCH

NEW YORK — Trading on the biggest exchange for financial options resumed Thursday following an outage caused by software problems. The Chicago Board Options Exchange reopened at 12:50 p.m. Eastern time after being closed from the start of the trading day. The shutdown forced traders to scramble for alternatives. The outage followed a brief scare in financial markets Tuesday afternoon when hackers sent a false Associated Press tweet reporting explosions at the White House. Stocks plunged for two minutes as computerized trading systems unloaded stocks. Regulators are increasingly looking into the safety of computerized trading systems. By Steve Rothwell and Bernard Condon.

ALSO MOVING:

—HONEYWELL PLANT-SHUTDOWN, from METROPLIS: A southern Illinois plant that helps make nuclear fuel is calling back workers in hopes of resuming operations in June.

—DURBIN-RURAL SUMMIT, from SPRINGFIELD: U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin hosted Illinois agribusiness leaders at a meeting of Senate Democrats and business leaders in Washington, D.C.

—CHEMICAL COMPANY-THEFT, from CHICAGO: A former executive of an Illinois chemical company is accused of stealing more than $2 million from the company for personal use.

—WESTERN ILLINOIS-ADMISSION, from MACOMB: Western Illinois University says it's toughening its admissions standards. The Macomb school said Thursday that the new standards will take effect with the fall 2014 semester.

—SIU OFFICIAL-DEPARTURE, from CARBONDALE: The assistant to the chancellor of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale has taken a job in Alabama.

—CHICAGO-BICYCLE SHARING, from CHICAGO: A bicycle-sharing program the city of Chicago plans to launch later this spring will be called "Divvy" — as in divvy up the bicycles and share them.

—SPECIAL OLYMPICS-SIMON, from CARBONDALE: Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon is in southern Illinois to launch the Special Olympics 2013 Spring Games.

—FATAL SHOOTING-CASINO, from CROWN POINT: An Illinois man faces charges in connection with the abduction and slaying of a 76-year-old northwestern Indiana woman found shot to death in a casino's parking garage.

—ILLINOIS GOVERNOR-JOBS, from CHICAGO: Gov. Pat Quinn says any governors trying to poach Illinois companies are all just "showboating."

—FEDERAL INMATE-KILLING, from BENTON: A federal prisoner faces a life sentence after being convicted of killing his cellmate.

—BLAGOJEVICH TRIAL-HARRIS, from CHICAGO: Rod Blagojevich's ex-chief of staff is free and clear of the justice system after a federal judge in Chicago ended his two-year probation period early.

SPORTS:

BBA-RAYS-WHITE SOX

CHICAGO — Chris Sale overcame a shaky first inning to combine with two relievers on a five-hitter and Adam Dunn homered to lead the Chicago White Sox over the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2. Desmond Jennings walked leading off the game and scored and scored on Evan Longoria's single, but Sale settled down and won for the first time since opening day. He allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, struck out seven and worked around four walks. Sale has 31 strikeouts in five appearances against the Rays. He is 11-3 with a 2.26 ERA at home in 17 starts dating to the beginning of the 2012 season.

AP Photos CXS101-104, CXS106-109.

BBN-CUBS-MARLINS

MIAMI — Luis Valbuena hit a tie-breaking solo home run in the ninth inning to lift the Chicago Cubs to a 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins. Shawn Camp pitched the eighth and Carlos Marmol got the final three outs for his second save in four opportunities. Nate Schierholtz doubled and homered for Chicago, which scored the final three runs of the game. Valbuena put the first pitch he saw from Steve Cishek into the Marlins bullpen in right-center field with two outs in the ninth breaking a 3-all tie.

AP Photos FLWL101-103.

BKN-NETS-BULLS

CHICAGO — Carlos Boozer had 22 points and 16 rebounds, Luol Deng added 21 points and 10 boards, and the Chicago Bulls held off the Brooklyn Nets 79-76 in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series. The Bulls had no field goals and two foul shots in the final 5:46 of the game, but still managed to beat the Nets for the second time in the postseason. They will try to grab a 3-1 lead when the series resumes in a quick turnaround Saturday afternoon. Brooklyn shot 35 percent for the second straight game. Brook Lopez had 22 points and nine rebounds, and Deron Williams finished with 18 points on 5-for-14 shooting. By Jay Cohen.

AP Photos CXA101-104, CXA106-107.

FBN-DRAFT-BEARS

LAKE FOREST — The Chicago Bears have selected Oregon guard Kyle Long with the 20th pick in the NFL draft. There were a number of ways the Bears could have gone given their needs for depth and youth on both sides of the ball. They were also interested in moving down and acquiring more picks since they had just five. Some mock drafts had the Bears going with linebackers Alec Ogletree of Georgia and Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, along with Fighting Irish tight end Tyler Eifert. All three were on the board. Instead, they decided to add to an offensive line that has ranked among the worst in recent years. By Andrew Seligman.

ALSO:

SOC-MLS-FIRE-THOMPSON, from NEW YORK: Chicago Fire defender Wells Thompson was suspended for a game and fined an undisclosed amount Thursday for his reckless challenge on Columbus' Agustin Viana in a game April 20.

ILLINOIS SPOTLIGHT: FATHERS IN JAIL

FREEPORT — Malachi Dads has been an eye-opening experience for Cody Saxby. Not only did the 28-year-old inmate learn tools to be a better father to his two sons, the class at the Stephenson County Jail gave him coping skills to deal with his grief and anger. Saxby had two other children who died shortly after birth. Instead of bottling up his feelings, he now can express them constructively. "The program was very moving," he said. "It opened my eyes to a lot of new perspectives in the way a person should be handling their role as a father and husband." By Travis Morse. The (Freeport) Journal-Standard.

AP Photo ILFRE501.

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