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Statement from Sen. Jason Barickman, Legislative Audit Commission Co-Chairman

"Following a scathing audit issued by the Illinois Auditor General on Governor Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the Legislative Audit Commission began its legally required public review of that audit and its findings.

We have had a healthy and spirited debate on the Commission. Ultimately, common sense prevailed and – with bipartisan agreement – the Audit Commission has scheduled a two-day public hearing with seven subpoenaed witnesses next week.

The Legislative Affairs office of the Department of Justice – two staff attorneys and an intern from Washington D.C. – has now requested no interviews of those connected to Governor Quinn's failed Neighborhood Recovery Initiative program for 90 days.

I believe it is appropriate for the Audit Commission to consider that request at our July 16 meeting. We certainly do not want to impede their criminal investigation of the NRI program. However, we also have legislative duties and obligations that we must fulfill to the people of Illinois and our constituents.

Each member of the Audit Commission – myself included – will have to weigh those competing interests to determine whether we change course on a public review of how more than $55 million in taxpayers' money was spent.
However, to be clear, the Audit Commission has already taken legal action. Seven witnesses have been subpoenaed and are compelled by law to attend next week's hearings. We've taken legislative action.

This legislative action cannot – and should not – be undone with the sweep of a hand or a backdoor meeting. Only legislative action can rescind those efforts.
Unless the Legislative Audit Commission takes new legislative action to change course, then I presume the Audit Commission will proceed with the plan laid out through its bipartisan, transparent process."

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  • Parent Category: News

Referendum issue goes before Kankakee County Board

The Kankakee County Board today may decide whether to allow voters to say if there should be a one-percent hike in the sales tax. The Board is expected to vote on putting the matter on the November ballot.

The monies raised from an increase in the sales tax would be used to prevent lay-offs in the county sheriff's department. The county lost revenue from the loss of the sales tax sharing revenue program that benefitted both the county and city of Kankakee.

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  • Parent Category: News

Nancy Rish seeks clemency for 1987 murder conviction of Stephen Small

The 1987 kidnapping and suffocation death of Kankakee businessman Stephen Small is the subject of a clemency hearing today for the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.

Nancy Rish claims she was involved in an abusive relationship with drug-dealer Danny Edwards, who plotted the kidnapping and carried out the crime. Rish was sentenced to life in prison. Now, 27 years later, Rish is asking the Review Board to set her free.

Danny Edwards was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Edwards has since said he planned the kidnapping alone.

Small was lured from his home with a phone call during the early-morning hours of September 2, 1987. He died having been buried alive in a wooden box three feet underground.

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  • Parent Category: News

Pontiac Officer Casey Kohlmeier’s death takes a new turn

The death of Pontiac Police officer Casey Kohlmeier by a drunk driver last fall is facing a new court challenge. The family of Kohlmeier is being pressed by the owners of a tavern that served the driver of a truck that slammed into and killed Kohlmeier.

Court papers filed by the attorney representing the tavern are claiming Kohlmeier is partly to blame for the crash.

Officer Kohlmeier was sitting in his parked squad car in the median of I-55 when truck driver Jason Collins slammed into the police cruiser. Kohlmeter and his canine-partner, Draco, were killed.

The Bloomington Pantagraph reports a five-point defense by the tavern owner denying the allegations in the lawsuit. The filing also raises the possibility that Kohlmeier could have avoided the accident.

GS Partners, owners of Ride the Nine / Shooters Lounge in Bloomington, are accused of serving the alcohol to Collins for five hours before the accident.

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  • Parent Category: News

Governor Quinn Announces $5 Million Capital Investment in Kankakee Community College

New Addition to Train Students in Green Energy and Other Emerging Technology Fields

KANKAKEE – Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $5 million state investment to build the Advanced Technology Education Center, a 21,000 square-foot addition at Kankakee Community College (KCC) that will enhance learning opportunities in green energy and other emerging technologies. The project will also create construction jobs and drive local economic growth. Today's announcement is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to ensure that all people have access to a quality education.

"Today's investment will help train students in growing industries and enhance their career opportunities after graduation," Governor Quinn said. "It is critical that we invest in education and this addition will give students a new and updated space in which to learn and grow."

"The entire KCC community is excited to move forward with this innovative project," KCC President Dr. John Avendano said. "Future jobs depend on developing skills in energy technology and this facility will provide a place to educate the future workforce technicians in renewable energy. The Center will be a regional resource for this advanced and cutting-edge technology."

The $5 million investment, funded through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), will construct a new facility on the KCC campus. The Advanced Technology Education Center will contain classrooms, labs, offices and support spaces to provide hands-on technical training in fields such as wind generation, solar thermal, solar photo-voltaic systems and electrical (National Electric Code NEC) instruction.

The addition at KCC is being designed to meet or exceed the requirement for the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Gold certification. The college will contribute $600,000 toward the project's $5.6 million total cost.

"Investing in campus development projects like the Advanced Technology Education Center at Kankakee Community College keep academic communities optimized, vibrant and modern," State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) said. "This center will attract the next generation of great thinkers by giving students the facilities they need to create the brightest future for themselves."

"Investing in education and expanding opportunities for students is vital to enhancing our workforce," State Representative Kate Cloonen (D-Kankakee) said. "This project will provide new and innovative opportunities for students in the Kankakee area, and help them better prepare for a competitive, global job market."

The mission of KCC is "Enhancing quality of life through learning." KCC is an accredited two-year college which awards associate degrees and certificates of completion. KCC prepares students to transfer to four-year colleges or enter the workforce. The college also offers continuing education courses and certification training, literacy programs, English as a Second Language and GED preparation. The college has the Riverfront Campus in Kankakee, South Extension Center in Watseka, North Extension Center in Bradley and Manufacturing and Industrial Technology Center in Kankakee.

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