Local News for Sunday, September 15

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Published on September 15 2013 6:40 am
Last Updated on September 14 2013 10:44 am
Written by Greg Sapp

Cameras are coming to more Illinois courtrooms.  The Illinois Supreme Court has approved cameras in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, which includes Champaign, DeWitt, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt Counties.  The circuit's chief judge, Dan Flannel, says he'd like to start allowing cameras and other recording devices in the courtrooms by the end of the year.  After the action by the Supreme Court, the number of Illinois counties that allow courtroom cameras has risen to 35.
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The architect in charge of the 50-million-dollar State Capitol renovation project says Governor Quinn's criticism is "completely out of line."  The project, which combined needed infrastructure upgrades with an historic restoration has become a political hot potato, especially because it included 700-thousand-dollar copper-plated doors.  Architect J. Richard Alsop III defended the project, saying the scope was agreed upon and the money appropriated long before work began.  The Capitol Board that's overseeing the project also defended it, saying the result is a safer, more accessible building that was upgraded according to the budget and guidelines approved by the governor's office.
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Fewer racing days could be in Fairmount Park's future.  If the Illinois Legislature doesn't approve advance deposit wagering by February 1st, the park could have the least amount of racing days in its history.  The track's president says they'll cut 25-percent of dates to help ease the budget shortfall for the Illinois Racing Board.  Advance deposit wagering is a form of online betting that sends money to each track, with the board collecting a one-point-five percent tax.
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Secretary of State Jesse White says he’s not endorsing anyone for governor.  He says both Governor Quinn and his challenger Bill Daley are good friends of his, so he’ll support whoever wins the primary.  When it comes to Quinn’s performance, White says the governor has done a very good job considering the mess he inherited from Governor Rod Blagojevich.
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The Democratic Party of Illinois is making plans to endorse candidates for next year’s election.  They’ll meet next Sunday in Springfield but Bill Daley says that’s too soon.  His campaign manager tells the “CapitolFaxBlog” that party leaders should give voters more time to hear about the candidates before they make a decision.  Democratic Party Chairman Michael Madigan says the meeting will give the candidates an opportunity to talk about their strengths.  The meeting will be held at the State House Inn in Springfield on September 22nd and it’s open to the public. 
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Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says she’ll be on the ticket next year.  She’ll announce her plans for re-election today in Chicago.  Then she’ll hit the road with stops in Edwardsville, Moline, Peoria, Quincy, and Springfield on Monday and Tuesday.  She says she wants to keep her job so she can help get the state’s out of control spending under control.   
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A Kendall County native will become the second female in state history to be named Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice.  Sixty-nine-year-old Rita B. Garman of Danville takes over for Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride this coming October 26th.  Garman has risen through Illinois' legal ranks for 40-years, a journey which saw her join the state's high court in 2001.
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Climatologists say the recent cold and unusually arid weather around Illinois have left the state in a condition they call "flash drought."  The dry air moved in back in early August and has stayed ever since.  Experts say a typical drought develops slowly and this so-called "flash drought" developed in a matter of weeks instead of months.
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A reminder about Commissioner Office Hours tonight at Effingham City Hall.  It's an opportunity for local residents to talk with the Commissioners about city topics.  The Office Hours are from 5 to 7pm in the City Council chambers.

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The Teutopolis American Legion breakfast is being served this morning until 11:30.

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The annual Catholic Charities Spaghetti Dinner, sponsored by Joe's Pizza and Pasta, will be served today from 10:30am to 2:30pm at the Effingham Knights of Columbus Building on West Fayette.

It's dine-in, carry-out or drive-thru, your choice.  Tickets will be available at the door.  All proceeds from the spaghetti dinner will support the mission and ministry of Catholic Charities.