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Thomas Clatterbuck



The Springfield City Council covered a wide range of topics at last night’s meeting. At the request of Alderman Hanauer, Budget Director Bill McCarty gave a presentation on the use of procurement cards by city employees. Also known as procards, these cards are analogous to credit or debit cards for the city. According to McCarty, procards are much cheaper and faster for the city than checks. The savings from just the removal of physical checks runs in the tens of thousands of dollars, not including the time savings.

Despite these savings, some of the aldermen had concerns about how the cards were being used. Hanauer discussed the purchase of computers that he felt was not following best practice. He also asked why there were not more master contracts for repeat purchases. Alderman Redpath echoed these sentiments, and said that the spending was a concern.

McCarty answered by saying that the issue was with individuals, rather than the payment tool. Money is tight for the city, and it is up to supervisors and directors to make sure that spending is done appropriately. New accountability tools make oversight easier with procards, including a requirement for justifying non-local purchases.  On the computer question specifically, McCarty said he defers to the subject matter experts when it comes to task-specific purchases.

Rezoning for a tavern

One request in the zoning agenda sparked a serious debate about the role of city government in regulating the local economy. The owners of Famous Liquors wanted to rezone their property for a different type of business. This change would allow them to open a tavern in the same location, which would in turn allow them to add video gaming. Video gaming is typically quite profitable, but only some types of businesses are allowed to operate gaming machines.

Alderman McMenamin voiced concerns about expanding video gaming further in the Wabash area. He noted that Springfield already has the highest density of video gaming of any city in Illinois, and worried about the impact adding another location would have on other businesses. Famous Liquors countered, saying they only wanted the right to compete on an even playing field, and the city had no right to pick winners and losers this way.

After a lengthy debate, the council eventually sided with the store and approved the rezoning 7-1-1; with McMenamin voting against and Fulgenzi voting present.

The coyote issue

Several Aldermen brought up the recent coyote sightings in the city. Despite being smaller than wolves and even some dog breeds, coyotes are still dangerous predators. As the city expands, the aldermen wanted to know what animal control can do about them.

Unfortunately, because coyotes are true wild animals, the answer is not much. Animal control is designed to handle stray pets and smaller animals. This is frustrating for residents, because finding someone who can deal with a coyote is often a challenge. The Council discussed strategies animal control could adopt and partnerships with the Department of Natural Resources to better handle this situation in the future.

The Lincoln Interment Books

The lawyers are still working out the final agreement between Oak Ridge Cemetery and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library about the fate of the Interment Books. Retaining ownership of the book that logs Lincoln’s interment in the cemetery is critical to the city, and so they are being particularly careful with what they actually agree to. The books are being “loaned” to the library, not “deposited” there. This may be a distinction without a difference, it is easier to lose ownership of deposited items.

Groups Recognized

The Mayor recognized the Grant Middle School track team, which recently took first place at their state content. He also recognized the Bicycle Advisory Council for helping make the city more bike and pedestrian friendly.

Dentists from the ISDS Foundation discussed the upcoming Mission of Mercy. The Mission will provide free dental care to Springfield residents who may not otherwise have access to a dentist. This event will be discussed more in a dedicated article.

You can watch the full meeting in the player above.

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.


Springfield approves YMCA TIF, tavern rezoning

Thomas Clatterbuck



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



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 

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

Staff Contributor



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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