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Caution leads to conflict regarding Lincoln Interment Books

Thomas Clatterbuck

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It all started so well. Two months ago, the city proudly unveiled the newly restored Lincoln Interment Books. These documents record President Lincoln being laid to rest in the Oak Ridge Cemetery. After having been badly handled in the past, the books were back in excellent condition. Although the books belong to Oak Ridge, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library agreed to store them. Not only is it fitting that a Lincoln document be in his library, they have far better capabilities of preserving the document than the City or Oak Ridge does. After the ceremony, the books were moved to the library for display and safe keeping.

There was just one last detail to iron out: the actual legal agreement. Oak Ridge wanted to make sure that they retained legal ownership of the books; a sentiment shared by the City Council. Standard deposit agreements with presidential libraries often have provisions that items change ownership after a certain period of time. The City, wanting to avoid that possibility, needed a special agreement to be drafted. Getting the wording exactly right has taken several weeks. Alderman Theilen explained that they wanted the language to be perfectly clear for future leaders. He stressed that none of the caution on the part of the council was due to mistrust with the library or its staff.

But in that timeframe, the leadership at the Museum became increasingly frustrated. They were doing the City a favor by holding the books, but felt that good will was not being properly reciprocated. They also felt the media coverage was unfairly casting them in a negative light. Mayor Langfelder was sympathetic to this view, given how long it took the city to approve the agreement. So while the agreement was still in committee, the library issued a letter saying they intended to rescind the sharing agreement while the City figured out what it wanted done with the books.

The timing of the letter was unfortunate because the City Council did approve the agreement at tonight’s meeting. However, since the letter had already been issued, the mayor will have to meet with the library’s director to sort out the final details. Hopefully, tonight’s vote will sooth the Library’s concerns and the books will be allowed to stay in the safest environment for them. Mayor Langfelder did say there is a plan B if the books are return, but would rather be optimistic that a more permanent agreement with the library can be reached. Langfelder will meet with the library’s director next week.

Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

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Springfield approves YMCA TIF, tavern rezoning

Thomas Clatterbuck

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The Springfield YMCA’s upgrade took a step forward at tonight’s city council meeting. $5.9 million in TIF funding was approved for the new facility planned for Enos Park. TIF money will be drawn from both the Enos Park and Downtown TIF funds. This money is only a small portion of the nearly $35 million project. Representatives from the YMCA said that the project could not go forward without the TIF support from the city.

Although the aldermen stated their support for the upgrade, the use of TIF money raised some issues. Because the YMCA is a nonprofit, it will not directly provide any “increment” to the tax base. Even those who otherwise support nonprofits often consider it inappropriate to use TIF money in this way. However, aldermen pointed out that in addition to the $35 million construction project the YMCA is providing, the project should do other things to generate new growth. Hopefully, the new structure will foster development to itself, and better connect the medical districts with downtown.

The real benefit of TIF projects was also touched on in the discussion. Both Alderwoman Dicenso and Alderman McMenamin mentioned the Hy-Vee TIF project. While they both said that Hy-Vee itself was a boon to McArthur Boulevard, Dicenso had a less favorable characterization of how much additional activity that TIF generated.

The TIF funding for the YMCA was approved unanimously.

Rezoning Melrose St.

An old bar location may be getting a second life in Ward 2. 1510 Melrose St. was approved for rezoning to potentially allow a tavern to be opened in the old Sandtrap Bar location. Although the new owners are seeking a tavern license, their stated goal is to be more of a convince store with video gambling. Aldermen Senor supported the new endeavor. He said that if the council continued to vote down rezoning for businesses, it would be increasingly difficult to say Springfield is business friendly.

But several neighbors of the property were opposed to the project. Citing a lack of parking and increased noise, they felt the store would not be a good addition to their neighborhood. Opponents pointed out how close the location is to residential areas, and how many children live in the area. The location also has a bad reputation. Even the new owners admitted that there had been serious problem in the past. However, they said that the hyper focus they would be under would ensure they were a good neighbor.

The rezoning was approved 8-1-1, with McMenamin voting against and Fulgenzi voting present. This only changed the zoning of the location. They will still need to get a liquor and gaming license to actually operate the proposed business.

You can watch the full meeting in the player. The zoning hearing starts around the 15 minute mark, the YMCA TIF starts around the 70 minute mark.

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What to expect from President Trump’s nominee

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The Hon. Amy C. Barrett and the Hon. Diane S. Sykes of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame and the Wisconsin Court System

Two federal judges from Illinois’ northern district are on President Donald Trump’s shortlist to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Trump told reporters that he would announce his pick to replace the Kennedy on Monday evening. Kennedy was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

Kennedy was often the swing vote that sided with the liberal end of the court on matters including “in particular, gay rights, and sometimes abortion and even more occasionally race,” said Carolyn Shapiro, associate law professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s College of Law.

Two judges from the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court in Chicago are reportedly being considered: Appellate Judges Amy Coney Barrett and Diane Sykes. Neither live in Illinois.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed to Judges Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman as two that “presented the fewest obvious obstacles to being confirmed,” according to a report from the New York Times.

The likely topic of questions that would come from the Senate for any nominee, Shapiro said, would be about their views on abortion due to a potential challenge to Roe v. Wade. Since Illinois passed House Bill 40, which contained a trigger that would make a national ruling on abortion less of a factor locally, it wouldn’t have near the effect that a ruling changing the legal status of abortion in the U.S. would elsewhere.

“[HB 40] has a lot of guarantees where, regardless of what happens to Roe v. Wade, women will still have access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare in the state,” she said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner shocked Republicans by signing the bill into law. The backlash against the bill was a factor in the freshman governor facing a hard-fought primary challenge in March.

As for the changing dynamic of the court, Shapiro said she expects more cases regarding free speech and its relation to regulation, akin to Janus v. AFSCME, to come before the court in the future.

 

Article by Cole Lauterbach with Illinois News Network. For more INN News visit ILnews.org 

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Project Mack hosts second “Take Back the City” weekend July 20-21

Staff Contributor

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PRESS RELEASE | Project Mack will be hosting our 2nd Annual Take Back the City weekend to wrap up the summer, to be held July 20-21, 2018. In response to the recent violence in Springfield, Project Mack aims to inspire youth to make a positive difference in their lives. The events will bring together current and past students of the city throughout the weekend and allow them to showcase their talents.

The weekend will consist of benefit concert Friday night and our All-star Alumni basketball game on Saturday. All the artists performing at the concert are graduates from our area high schools and now are pursing musical careers. The alumni game will bring back all the best basketball players who’ve come from the Springfield area. Additionally, there will be vendor & organization information tables available on both days.

All proceeds from the event will go toward 3 scholarships created at SHS, LHS, and SSHS in memory of the innocent gun violence victims.

 

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