SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Panhandlers are suing Illinois' capital city for allegedly violating their First Amendment rights to free speech by stopping them from asking for money.
The suit filed this week in federal court in Springfield says police wrongly tell panhandlers it's illegal to panhandle. If they don't leave an area, the suit says the panhandlers are sometimes arrested.
The lawsuit cites one plaintiff as making less than $25 a day panhandling with a sign reading, "Please Help Out Any Way U Can." It claims the 52-year-old has been arrested for panhandling.
Similar lawsuits have been filed across Illinois, including in Chicago.
The Springfield suit seeks unspecified damages and asks that a city law prohibiting "vocal appeals" for "immediate donations" be declared unconstitutional.
Springfield's city spokesman didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.
ST. CHARLES, Ill. (AP) - Three courthouses in Kane County are open again after being evacuated due to bomb threats.
The Kane County Sheriff's Office says on its Twitter account that the courthouses were reopened Wednesday afternoon and "no suspicious items were found." Lt. Pat Gengler is with the Kane County Sheriff's Office. He says officers were investigating "a series of bomb threats" made against the three separate courthouses.
The facilities evacuated Wednesday morning include the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles and the Elgin Branch Court in Elgin. Also the Kane Branch Court and Kane County Clerk's office, which are in the same building in St. Charles.
A strip club in East St. Louis could be facing harsh penalties after a fatal shooting over the weekend.
Police say 20-year-old Kenneth Richards was shot and killed in the parking lot of Denese's Place late Saturday night. The club has had its liquor license suspended until the results of a hearing that takes place Wednesday at 2:30 PM. Officials say the hearing could result in more penalties.
Police meanwhile continue their search for an SUV involved in the shooting. The vehicle is described as a white GMC Yukon or Suburban. Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at (866) 371-TIPS (8477).
In Champaign, this Bud lab's for you! The world's largest brewer has announced it is headed to school. Anheuser-Busch InBev is opening a data analytics center called "Bud Lab" at the University of Illinois Research Park in Champaign. The company says the lab will study "assortment optimization" along with social media and market trends and other "large-scale data initiatives." So far, the facility has several interns, most of whom have backgrounds in statistics and industrial engineering. Officials say that future student workers will most likely be those studying math, business and computer science.
The regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has scheduled a meeting for this week to discuss plans to cleanup industrial waste in Overland. Federal regulators will share their strategy with residents of the St. Louis County neighborhood where contaminated groundwater lingers from a 25-year-old industrial accident. A 1988 spill at a metal facility in Overland caused groundwater contamination from the chemical trichloroethylene, or TCE. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the First Baptist Church of Elmwood Park. The EPA says it will share details from recent indoor air samples taken at several Elmwood Park homes as well as future cleanup plans by the property's owners. Property owner PerkinElmer Inc., which bought the property after the spill occurred, will clean up the land under a 2012 settlement agreement.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says he is frustrated and disappointed after learning a black officer received a racist letter through interdepartmental mail. Dotson has ordered internal and criminal investigations after learning about the letter last week. The Chief believes the action could be considered a hate crime. The letter was sent to an officer in the department's south patrol division. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the typed letter arrived about a month ago and was addressed to the officer. It included several profanities and a racial epithet. The sender said the officer was not wanted in the station and threatened that police would not to respond if the officer called for help. It also included a death threat. Chief Dotson says he has taken steps to ensure the officer's safety, but did not elaborate on those steps.
Residents in the southern part of Hadley Township may finally know the fate of their community.
The Richmond Heights City Council Tuesday night unanimously approved a plan for a $63 million Menards development. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the approval includes $15 million in tax increment financing for the redeveloper, Menard Inc., to cover some development costs.
The paper reports that by the end of the year, the developers plan to notify property owners of closing dates on their sale contracts.
The new retail development will be east of Hanley Road, between of Maplewood’s Walmart development and I-64/40.
St. Clair County seems to have it's own version of wiki-leaks.
Information that hasn't been released by the county board is being posted on the anonymous website CountyBoardInfo.com. Material posted to the site include minutes from a July 29 executive session at which board members and State's Attorney Brendan Kelly discussed drug testing county employees.
The unidentified web publisher says the site "is designed to enhance government transparency." The site isn't affiliated with county government, but promises to keep posting county board meeting agendas, audit reports and meeting minutes.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports that the county hasn't posted such material on its website since June.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An expert in term limits says a Republican governor candidate's proposal to overhaul the Illinois Legislature is better structured than past failed bids.
University of Illinois Professor Chris Mooney says Bruce Rauner's petition drive to limit lawmakers to eight years in office is savvy in its three-pronged approach. The Winnetka venture capitalist's proposal would not only limit the length of terms but also cut the size of the Senate and make it harder to override a governor's veto.
Those elements could help the proposal overcome a state Supreme Court ruling that struck down a 1994 initiative because it didn't make "structural and procedural" changes to the Legislature.
But the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform says it is concerned that Rauner's petition drive could unfairly boost his separate governor's campaign.
The first tuition bill is in for Normandy students who transferred to Francis Howell.
Four hundred forty-nine transfer students began classes in Francis Howell schools on August 8th. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the total due now is just over $424,000. Francis Howell Chief Financial Officer Kevin Supple told the paper the bill was sent Tuesday via email.
Normandy officials say the invoice must be processed and approved by the school board, which could take a month or more.
Missouri education officials have suggested unaccredited districts pay tuition bills within 10 days. State officials have also said they will withhold state aid distributions if an unaccredited district falls two months behind in paying transfer tuition.