Friday, December 31, 2010

Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Joliet to hold New Year's Eve Service

Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Joliet, Illinois will host a New Year's Eve celebration tonight at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church at 402 Singleton Place in Joliet Illinois.

According to the Mt. Zion Baptist Church's Website:

"Watch Night - 2010
All roads lead to to Zion on Friday, December 31st, 2010 @ 9:30PM.
We pray that all of the Mt. Zion Family will be there to "Praise in" the New Year together!
P.S. bring a friend... "



The Combined Choirs of Zion will sing and Pastor David G. Latimore will give An Anointed Word Sermon.


Mt. Zion Baptist Church is one of the most historically significant churches in the Joliet area.  Longtime Mt. Zion Pastor the Rev. Dr. Isaac Singleton was a noted Civil Rights Leader who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..  Singleton also founded the Joliet Affiliate Rainbow/P. U. S. H. Coalition.


I have heard nothing but amazing things about the Mt. Zion Choir, so if you are looking for a faith-filled way to ring in the New Year, you might want to check it out!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Silver Cross Hospital nears completion in New Lenox, Illinois

The New Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, as seen from the Old Plank Road Trail at Nelson Road

The New Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox is nearing completion.  The new Hospital is a replacement hospital for Silver Cross' current facility on Briggs Street and Route 6 in Joliet.

The new hospital is right of I-355 on Route 6 in New Lenox.  The 400 million dollar facility will have 6 floors.


It will also have:
184 Medical-Surgical Beds
8 Pediatric Beds
30 Obstetrics (Birthing) Beds
22 ICU Beds
20 Behavioral Health Beds
17 Rehabilitation Beds

38 Emergency Department Private Treatment Rooms and 1 CT Scanner in the ED
11 Surgical Suites


The New Silver Cross Hospital is located on a 76 acre campus.  The hospital is scheduled to open in 
February of 2012.
UPDATE: New Lenox Silver Cross Replacement Hospital will open February 26, 2012

Friday, December 24, 2010

Recycle your Christmas Tree at the Forest Preserve District of Will County


2014 Christmas Tree Recycling in Will County

The Forest Preserve District of Will County is collecting Christmas Trees to be recycled into mulch for Forest Preserve Trails.

According to the Will County Forest Preserve website:


"This year, give the Earth a gift by recycling your Christmas tree. Every year, millions of Christmas trees end up in landfills. However, you can give your tree a second life by recycling it with the Forest Preserve. Your tree will take a new life "path" by becoming mulch used on our trails and for landscaping. Please remove all tinsel, lights, and ornaments before dropping off your tree. This program is for individual households; no commercial tree surplus, please.

The Forest Preserve will be accepting trees at:



Trees will be accepted every day from December 27 through January 9 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m."


Christmas trees awaiting recycling at the Forest Preserve District of Will County's Sugar Creek Administrative Center

Christmas Tree Drop Off at the Forest Preserve of Will County's Sugar Creek Administrative Center on Laraway Road

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chicago Tribune Video on Blockson Workers and Survivors

The Chicago Tribune made this video-interview with former Blockson Joliet workers and survivors:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Will County Antique Guide

I love antiques!

From watching American Pickers on the History Channel to driving across Will County to attend auctions, I love seeing items from the past.

Will County is home to two auction companies that regularly hold auctions.

First, Jerry Rossen auctions holds auctions about twice a month at the Will County Fair Atrium building in Peotone, Illinois.  Here is a short video I did of some of the action at a Jerry Rossen auction!:




The other Will County Auction house that I know of is Chamblee's Auctions in Rockdale, Illinois.


Both list their auctions on auctionzip.com. You can view photos of items to be auctioned in order to decide whether you want to attend the auction.


You can also use the auctionzip site to search for auctions near you.


As far as Antiques shops go, there are several Antique stores in downtown Wilmington, Illinois on Water Street.


A little farther south on Historic Rt. 66, in Braidwood, Illinois, you will find Second Time Around Antique Market.


There are also several more antique and resale shops throughout Will County.



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Housing slows in Manhattan Township

Piles of topsoil await spreading back on the land from which it was removed in Manhattan Township, Illinois

Piles of topsoil await spreading back on the land from which it was removed in Manhattan Township, Illinois, at Cedar Road and Baker Road, between Manhattan, Illinois and New Lenox, Illinois

Piles of topsoil await spreading back on the land from which it was removed in Manhattan Township, Illinois, at Cedar Road and Baker Road, between Manhattan, Illinois and New Lenox, Illinois

Piles of topsoil await spreading back on the land from which it was removed in Manhattan Township, Illinois, at Cedar Road and Baker Road, between Manhattan, Illinois and New Lenox, Illinois

Piles of topsoil await spreading back on the land from which it was removed in Manhattan Township, Illinois, at Cedar Road and Baker Road, between Manhattan, Illinois and New Lenox, Illinois, Joliet smokestacks in the background

Piles of topsoil await spreading back on the land from which it was removed in Manhattan Township, Illinois, at Cedar Road and Baker Road, between Manhattan, Illinois and New Lenox, Illinois

Piles of topsoil await spreading back on the land from which it was removed in Manhattan Township, Illinois, at Cedar Road and Baker Road, between Manhattan, Illinois and New Lenox, Illinois.  Manhattan, Illinois water tower in the background.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Interview with the Rev. Craig Purchase of Joliet Illinois regarding warehouse work in Will County

At the Warehouse Workers for Justice Press Conference in August of 2010, Will County News had the opportunity to interview the Rev. Craig Purchase--pastor of Mt. Zion Full Gospel Tabernacle and also recent president of the local Rainbow Push Coalition--regarding how he learned about the group Warehouse Workers for Justice and the issue of temp work in Will County Warehouses.




I also asked how warehouse work affects the people in his congregation and whether warehouse workers utilized the food pantry he ran. 


Watch the interview below:









If you would like more information, read the Warehouse Worker's Full Report, "Bad Jobs in Goods Movement: Warehouse Work in Will County, Illinois."


Also, following the release of this report by local media, John Grueling, President and CEO of the Will County Center for Economic Development wrote a September 10, 2010 letter to the editor of the Joliet Herald News in which he wrote: "The logistics industry is a growing and important segment of our local economy. Of the 250,054 jobs based in Will County, 20,285, or 8.1 percent, work in warehouses. The average wage for these jobs in Will County is $14.17 an hour or $29,400 a year."


Will County News emailed Grueling to ask where his statistics came from and whether the statistics were available online for everyone to see. 


Greuling responded and provided links to Will County Workforce Investment Board's Will County Economic Update, 2nd Quarter, 2010, from which the data quoted in his letter is drawn.  Warehouse Workers--from floor movers to forklift drivers-- fall under the transportation and material movers category in the report. 


Warehouse work is an important issue in Will County and Will County News encourages all citizens to read both reports in their entirety.   



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Manhattan Lights Christmas Tree in Times Square!

Against a backdrop of falling snow, Manhattan, Illinois lit its Christmas tree in Times Square!

 Christmas tree lighting in Downtonwn Manhattan, Illinois.  Santa and Mrs. Clause greeted everyone from the back of the firetruck.

 Santa and Mrs. Claus on back of Manhattan Fire Protection District Squad 1216 at Christmas Tree Lighting.

People head to Times Square for the Christmas Tree Lighting in Manhattan, Illinois

Video of Christmas Tree Lighting in Manhattan:





Thursday, December 2, 2010

Illinois State Senators Hutchinson, Wilhelmi, vote to recognize civil unions in Illinois

The Illinois State Senate passed SB 1716 which would recognize civil unions in Illinois.  According to the Illinois Senate Democrat's webpage,:
"The legislation was debated at length this week in both the House and the Senate. The bill passed the Senate on Wednesday 32-24-1 and Governor Pat Quinn has stated his intent to sign the measure.
Under the legislation, Illinois for the first time would recognize civil unions, thereby granting certain rights and responsibilities to same sex – and opposite sex – couples who enter into the unions.
Some of the rights would include the ability to :    
-Make medical decisions as is afforded to opposite sex spouses
-Share nursing home rooms;
-Have hospital visitation rights, as family;
-Obtain employer-based health insurance if offered to spouses;
-Share in retirement benefits;
-Receive inheritance."
State Senator Toi Hutchinson, whose 40th district includes much of Eastern Will County, voted in favor of the bill, as did State Senator AJ Wilhelmi, who represents the 43rd District.
Hutchinson spoke on the floor of the Senate during debate regarding SB 1716.  The following is a transcript of live blogging of that debate from the Illinois Review:
"Senator Toi Hutchinson -- My husband was born into an interracial marriage.  They chose where they lived as to where interracial marriage were allowed.  There are couples in marriage -- many persons chose not to participate in the sacrament of marriage.  This does nothing to confer federal rights of marriage, this bill doesn't take anything from anyone. 
In my home, we teach our children those principles of kindess and charity.  My children hear that gay people deserve the same respect everyone else does.  I care about all that live in my 40th District.  Not just the ones that look like me.  This bill is about fairness and equality.  We will make this decision not in fear of the next election.  I urge an Aye vote."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wilmington Illinois Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting

Wilmington, Illinois, November 27, 2010

The Island City sparkled Saturday night for the annual holiday parade. Citizens gathered to mark the season as a parade made its way down South Water Street, where restaurants and antiques shops welcomed everyone. Of course, plenty of excitement filled the air as Santa made his way into town.

After the parade, there were carols in the new gazebo at Claire’s Corner, and real reindeer visited. The lighting of the tree made the downtown park a splendid place for visiting and enjoying the early evening festivities.



Christmas lights at the Holiday Parade in Downtown Wilmington

Wilmington VFW Post 5422 leads the Wilmington Holiday Parade through downtown Wilmington

The mayor of Wilmington Illinois at the Holiday Parade

Santa arrives on a horse-drawn carriage at the Wilmington Holiday Parade

The Wilmington Community Christmas Tree 

Reindeer arrive at the end of the Wilmington Holiday Parade

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wilmington Illinois Lighted Holiday Day Parade this Saturday

Wilmington, Illinois is kicking off the holiday season with a lighted holiday parade Saturday, November 27th.  The parade starts at 4:30 p.m.

No alcohol will be allowed during the parade line-up or during the parade itself.

According to the Wilmington, Illinois website, no live Santas are allowed as Santa Claus will arrive in Wilmington for the parade.

The community tree will be lighted following the parade.

If you are looking to grab a bite to eat in Wilmington, willcountynews recommends Hayden's Crossing, one of the most unique restaurants in Will County.  Located in Downtown Wilmington, Hayden's Crossing was made from recycled barn lumber.  You can see pictures of the barn and the process of using the barn wood for the restaurant on Hayden's Crossing's website.

Hayden's Crossing's name also refers to an important piece of Will County History.  As this 1909 plat map of Florence Township shows, Hayden's Station--in section 1--was inside the footprint of the Joliet Arsenal and now the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.  On the Wabash Railroad Line, Hayden's Station was a place where farmers could bring milk to send on the train for sale.






Friday, November 12, 2010

Turtle Pond and Turtle Pond Trail in the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is the largest tallgrass prairie east of the Mississippi River.  It is also one of the largest one-space prairies in Northeastern Illinois.

Midewin has a variety of trails open to the public.  There are several picnic areas.  There are flush toilets at the Midewin Welcome Center on Rt. 53 and port-a-potties along major trails.  Check out the Midewin Trail Map Page for more info.   On our hike, we did not see any drinking fountains or other source of water, so you should make sure you bring plenty of water with you.


Willcountynews recently hiked out to Turtle Pond, parking at the Hoff Road Trailhead and walking down the Old Chicago Road to get to Turtle Pond.  Here's what we saw!

Old Chicago Road in the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie


Field of winter wheat in the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie




Old fire hydrant in the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie on Old Chicago Road.  When the Prairie was the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant, the Arsenal had its own fire department.


Looking east from Old Chicago Road in the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie




Seed beds in the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie on the way to Turtle Pond.




Video of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Beds near Turtle Pond:





Turtle Pond, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie



Turtle Pond, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie



Turtle Pond in the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie


Turtle Pond, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie



Turtle Pond, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
Video of Turtle Pond with Old Joliet Arsenal building in the distance:




Winter Wheat and trees in the distance, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie



Old electric pole and insulators off Old Chicago Road in the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Breaking News: Joliet, Coal Ash Issue Profiled in New York Times

The New York Times ran an article today profiling a Joliet resident who lives near the Midwest Generation  power plant.

Will County Farmhouses from a Country Mile

I love old Farmhouses.  This is the beginning of an occasional series documenting many differing types of farmhouses throughout Will County.  We will begin with the American Foursquare. 

American Four Square in rural Peotone Township, Will County, Illinois.

According to the Will County Historic Preservation Rural Structure Survery:

"The American Foursquare was introduced around 1900 and continued to be popular until the 1920s.  It consists of a two to two-and-a-half story block with a roughly square floor plan with four rooms on each floor.  Roofs are hipped or pyramidal, with dormer windows (hipped and gable) on at least the 
front elevation and sometimes the side and rear elevations. Foursquares usually have front porches, but they may also have bay windows (some extending both stories) and one story rear additions.  


Many Foursquares were built from plans developed by local lumber companies or mail order sources that 
advertised in farm journals; others were purchased whole and delivered as pre-cut, ready-to-assemble 
houses from Sears, Roebuck and Company or home manufacturers. 
                                                 
The term “American Foursquare” was coined by Clem Labine, former editor of the Old-House Journal. (Gordon, How to Complete the Ohio Historic Inventory, 137.) "

The Survey was completed by Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. for the Will County Land Use Department


American Foursquare Farmhouse near Peotone, Illinois


Video of American Foursquare Farmhouse near Peotone, Illinois:

American Foursquare Farmhouse near Manhattan, Illinois, front view

American Fousquare Farmhouse near Manhattan, Illinois, rear view

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Will County Illinois Election Results

November 6, 2012 Will County Election Results has results for all county-wide races such as Will County Executive, Will County State's Attorney, and the Will County Board.

For congressional results:

Go here for Illinois 11th Congressional District results.


For Illinois 2nd Congressional results, go here.



Friday, October 29, 2010

Will County History

Will County Townships used to be dotted with one-room schoolhouses.

For example, this 1909 plat of Manhattan Township maps the location of several one-room schoolhouses:

http://will.ilgenweb.net/Maps/1909Large/1909-Manhattan.jpg
1909 Plat Map of Manhattan Township, Will County, Illinois


Will County News was recently fortunate to be given a copy of a circa 1938 photo of a one-room schoolhouse in Manhattan Township.  It looks like this was a fairly small class.  I like the Will County Map hanging on the wall:

Will County One-Room Schoolhouse




Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Interview with AJ Wilhelmi

by ann baskerville


Willcountynews interviewed State Senator AJ Wilhelmi, a Democrat who represents the 43rd State Senate District.  Wilhelmi is facing Republican Cedra Crenshaw in the November election.


Issue 1:What is Wilhelmi most proud of achieving as a State Senator


I asked Wilhelmi what 3 things he was most proud of accomplishing as a State Senator so far.


First, Wilhelmi said he was proud to have "had the honor of sponsoring the "Let Them Rest in Peace Act" in 2006 which prohibits hate groups from harassing families who are burying their loved one who died while serving our country in the military.  The bill was necessary because groups were protesting US military policy by showing up at service members' funerals and causing a disruption to the grieving family, protesting at a "completely and totally inappropriate time," Wilhelmi said.  The bill passed with overwhelming support and as he stood on the floor of the State Senate as the bill was passed, Wilhelmi said he "literally had chills up my spine" because he knew the bill would protect grieving families on one of the most difficult days of their life.


The bill: "protects grieving family members and friends by putting a 200-foot privacy zone between the funeral site and protestors who sing loudly, play music, chant, whistle, yell, or make any other type of disturbing noise. SB 1144 also prohibits protesters from displaying any visual images that convey fighting words or threats against any other person, and makes it illegal to knowingly obstruct a person’s entry or exit from a funeral site. Disruptive and inflammatory protests will be prohibited 30 minutes before a funeral, during a funeral, and 30 minutes after the funeral within that 200-foot privacy zone."


Secondly, Wilhelmi said he is proud to have helped pass the Intermodal Facility Promotions Act in 2009.  A public-private partnership, the Act provided incentives for the Union Pacific Intermodal Terminal and Centerpoint Intermodal Center, both in Joliet.   Wilhelmi said the two projects will employ 15,000 over the next 10 years.  Wilhelmi said the act also received support from Republicans, who said this is the kind of legislation we need.


Thirdly, Wilhelmi said he is proud to have fought for and supported legislation that supports: Pre-school education, K-12 education, After-School programs, and the Monetary Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance for college students so they can "get the education and training they need to get a job and support their family," Wilhelmi said.


Wilhelmi said the educational programs he fought for are all ultimately about "improving the community and providing our children with the education and tools they will need to meet the challenges of the 21st century."


When citizens ask Wilhelmi what he's been doing about jobs and education, Wilhelmi says he's been fighting for them and working to ensure all children in the community have access to great education that will prepare them to work in the global economy.  


Issue 2: Jobs


In terms of creating jobs, Wilhelmi said he sponsored legislation that provided Navistar with Recovery Zone Bonds, which was the incentive that led to Navistar's decision to locate in Will County.  The distribution center in New Lenox will create 150 direct-hire, permanent jobs that will pay union-level wages of approximately 40,000.  Furthermore, the Bonds were part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and if the funds were not used, they would have been lost.   


Wilhelmi also related the story of visiting an Iron Workers Retraining Program, which was supplying Iron Workers with the skills they need to install and maintain wind turbines.  This program, funded by a 300,000 grant, is important because it provides workers with new skills needed for working with new technology, Wilhelmi said. "Now more than ever we need job training and tax incentives to bring in job-creating businesses, if we eliminate the incentives, business will go elsewhere" Wilhelmi said.  For example, Wilhelmi said states like Texas and South Carolina offer businesses incentives to locate in their states, so Illinois has to offer incentives to these businesses to remain competitive.  


Wilhelmi pointed to the Ford Motor Company's recent decision to create 1200 new manufacturing jobs building the Ford Explorer south of Chicago.  Wilhelmi said Ford was looking at other states, and it was because of the incentive program offered by the state that Ford decided to locate in Illinois.  Wilhelmi said his opponent would call what Illinois did for Ford "a bribe", but Wilhelmi said every state offers tax incentives to businesses.  Wilhelmi said such public-private partnerships demonstrate how both sectors can work together to create jobs.   Wilhelmi points to Intel, which recently told the US Government it needs incentives to create jobs in the USA, or it will be forced to create jobs in India, China, and Mexico.  Wilhelmi said he does not want to see manufacturing jobs shipped to China or India or taken to Mexico.  




Wilhelmi said he is concerned about recent reports concerning warehouse work in Will County.  Wilhelmi said he has met with the Warehouse Workers for Justice, local ministers and the NAACP to discuss this issue.  Wilhelmi said he has met with community leaders in order to make sure that the jobs created in our distribution centers are good jobs.  Wilhelmi said, "We want to promote direct-hire, permanent, living-wage jobs."  Wilhelmi said he is committed to getting all stakeholders in the warehouse industry together in a roundtable forum where the issues and problems can be discussed and solutions can be created.   Wilhelmi says he is fortunate to have been given the support of the Illinois Manufacturer's Association and also the AFL-CIO.  Wilhelmi says it is important that Democrats and Republicans, and Labor and Business come together to create solutions to the problems our families face in these tough economic times.


Finally, in regards to the minimum wage Wilhelmi points to his vote to increase the minimum wage from 6.50 to 8.25.  Wilhelmi said that in these economic times, to talk about rolling back the minimum wage is "irresponsible and insensitive."  


Issue 3: Education


Wilhelmi said his view of education is in stark contrast to Cedra Crenshaw's.  Wilhelmi said that Crenshaw stated during an interview that she would be willing to vote for teacher layoffs and funding cuts.  Wilhelmi said "this is the wrong direction for Will County and it is the wrong direction for the State."  


Wilhelmi said he "can't think of a better investment than to invest in teachers and what they do for kids."


Wilhelmi also said his opponent stated she would not have voted for a capital bill that funded a new school for the Joliet Elementary School District.  Wilhelmi said a brand new school behind Gompers is not pork.  Wilhelmi said his opponent has aligned herself with Bill Brady and his plan to cut 10% across the board.  Wilhelmi is not in favor of cuts to education.


Wilhelmi said his opponent referred to public schools as indoctrination centers.  Wilhelmi said "I do not believe our public schools are indoctrination centers."


Wilhelmi said without training and skills, our children will not be able to compete in the global economy.   Wilhelmi also said education is a great investment.  He pointed to the fact that the police chiefs across the state believe in early childhood education, because every dollar spent there saves 7 in future criminal and social service expenses. 


Issue 4: Legislative Scholarships


Background: During a recent WJOL debate between Crenshaw and Wilhelmi, Crenshaw claimed Larry Walsh appointed Wilhelmi to his State Senate seat, and Wilhelmi then awarded Walsh's nephew Kevin Walsh a legislative scholarship.

What was said on the WJOL 
debate:
Wilhelmi: "My opponent has said that Larry Walsh appointed me to the Senate Seat.  That is not true....That is a falsehood.... Larry Walsh never appointed me to the Senate seat.... Secondly, Elwood's a small town, we get applications from Elwood, Manhattan, Joliet, Romeoville, Rockdale, Bolingbrook. The fact of the matter is, I have a very fair and balanced application process.  I have limited numbers of folks applying....and I don't think Larry's extended family should be penalized because they happen to be related to the county executive."

Scott Slocum (host): Ok. Cedra, any rebuttal to that?

Crenshaw: "I find it quite astounding that Senator Wilhemi sees no moral problem with giving a legislative scholarship to the person who did in fact appoint him to the Illinois State Senate.  And that therein shows the problem, one of the problems, in Illinois, in terms of the leadership or lack thereof that we have."

Wilhelmi: "Larry Walsh did not appoint me to the Senate Seat."

You can listen to the entire debate 
here, I have condensed it above for the sake of space.



I asked Wilhelmi to clarify the truth on this issue because, obviously, during the debate two opposite claims were made.


Wilhelmi said: "I was selected by a committee of 3 people: George Mushro, the late Dave Evans, and Tom Braxton.  14 candidates were interviewed and I ended up being selected."  With regards to Crenshaw's claim that Wilhelmi was appointed by Walsh and that Wilhelmi was involved in pay-to-play, Wilhelmi said: "It's just false, in fact, she knows it's false."

Halvorson sign defaced, Cedra Crenshaw sign cut up, disturbing trend

First a Debbie Halvorson sign was defaced on Rt. 45 in Kankakee County.

Now a Youtube video shows a Cedra Crenshaw sign cut up and dumped in a ditch:



This is ridiculous.  The elections are obviously very highly contested this year, but it is wrong to deface or destroy anyone else's property, period.  We have received reports from numerous other campaigns in the area that signs were stolen, knocked-down, or otherwise tampered with.

Is this the work of a few bad apples?  Teenagers having "fun"?  Maybe. 

The point is regardless of how you are going to vote in the election, we are all citizens of this area and need to do our part to maintain law and order.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Interview with Cedra Crenshaw

by ann baskerville

Will County News recently sat down with Republican candidate for the 43rd State Senate seat Cedra Crenshaw.  Crenshaw faces incumbent Democrat AJ Wilhelmi in this November's election.



Issue One: Claims regarding Legislative Scholarships 
Background: During a recent WJOL debate between Crenshaw and Wilhelmi, Crenshaw claimed Larry Walsh appointed Wilhelmi to his State Senate seat, and Wilhelmi then awarded Walsh's nephew Kevin Walsh a legislative scholarship.

What was said on the WJOL debate:
Wilhelmi: "My opponent has said that Larry Walsh appointed me to the Senate Seat.  That is not true....That is a falsehood.... Larry Walsh never appointed me to the Senate seat.... Secondly, Elwood's a small town, we get applications from Elwood, Manhattan, Joliet, Romeoville, Rockdale, Bolingbrook. The fact of the matter is, I have a very fair and balanced application process.  I have limited numbers of folks applying....and I don't think Larry's extended family should be penalized because they happen to be related to the county executive."

Scott Slocum (host): Ok. Cedra, any rebuttal to that?

Crenshaw: "I find it quite astounding that Senator Wilhemi sees no moral problem with giving a legislative scholarship to the person who did in fact appoint him to the Illinois State Senate.  And that therein shows the problem, one of the problems, in Illinois, in terms of the leadership or lack thereof that we have."

Wilhelmi: "Larry Walsh did not appoint me to the Senate Seat."

You can listen to the entire debate here, I have condensed it above for the sake of space.

Crenshaw also has a page on her website where she outlines what she calls Wilhelmi's "Pay to Play Deals."

I asked Cedra to clarify the truth regarding this issue, because, obviously, during the debate the candidates made completely opposite claims.

Crenshaw said, "The truth is exactly what I said during the debate."  Crenshaw said Wilhelmi rewarded supporters and donors by giving legislative scholarships to supporters' children.  Crenshaw said Wilhelmi gave scholarships to the children of two Village of Manhattan trustees.  Crenshaw said State Rep. Jack McGuire also awarded scholarships to these kids.  Crenshaw said, "And what's so shocking to me is he saw no moral problem with that."

When I asked whether it was Larry Walsh himself who appointed Wilhelmi to the Senate seat or if it was the Democratic Party of Will County who appointed Wilhelmi, Crenshaw said that was an issue of semantics, and that everyone knows that it was Walsh who appointed Wilhelmi to the seat.

Ultimately, Crenshaw said, the legislative scholarships are "an incubator for corruption".

Issue Two: The State Budget
Next, I asked Cedra Crenshaw to elaborate on her plan to get the State Budget under control.  Crenshaw said there is room to "cut waste, mismanagement, and corruption."  Crenshaw is in favor of a line-by-line forensic audit of the budget.  Crenshaw said, for example, there are 150 million dollars currently not accounted for in the Illinois Tollway Budget.  Crenshaw said a forensic audit of all aspects of the state budget--down to the transaction level--would not only account for that money, but also serve as evidence for possible prosecution of anyone who was mismanaging state money.  The forensic audit would help hold people accountable, Crenshaw said.

Crenshaw is in favor of accountability and transparency with regards to the State Budget.  When asked whether she would be in favor of putting government transactions online where anyone could see them, Crenshaw said she knows some states put their checkbooks online, and she would support an action like that in Illinois.

Crenshaw says that for a 60 million dollar investment in the forensic audit, the state could save 3-5 billion dollars, which is a "great Return on Investment," said Crenshaw.

Crenshaw also wants to cut pork from the Capital Bill.  The 31 billion captial bill signed by Quinn contains too much pork, Crenshaw said.  Crenshaw identified the following as examples of waste in the Capital Bill: 500,000 for a Baseball Hall of Fame, 5,000,000 for the Black Ensemble Theatre, and 40,000,000 for Chicago State, a state college with a 16% graduation rate.

Crenshaw proposes cutting the pork and using that money to bridge the deficit and also pay schools that are currently owed money by the State of Illinois, schools such as the Joliet Township High School School District and the Valley View School District.

Issue Three: Job Creation in Illinois
When it comes to creating a favorable environment for job growth in Illinois, Crenshaw says there is a basic philosophical difference between herself and her opponent.  Crenshaw believes the private sector creates jobs, while Wilhelmi believes the government should have a much bigger role in job creation.

Crenshaw says she wants to create a favorable environment for job creation in Illinois by following the following principles: fiscal responsibility, low taxes, reasonable regulation, accountability, transparency, and limited government.  Furthermore, Crenshaw advocates government that is responsive to the needs of small business owners because small businesses create jobs.

For example, Crenshaw said she spoke with an electrical engineer who also does work in Arizona and Texas.  The engineer told Crenshaw that while it takes months to get a permit in Illinois, he can get the same permit in only days in other states.    If the permit involves blueprints, Crenshaw said it can take the engineer 5-6 months to get the permit and up to 2 years if the blueprint involves a road.  The engineer said in the other states, the government workers who process the permits treat him like a customer and quickly process his paperwork, an experience he hasn't had in Illinois, Crenshaw said.

Furthermore, Crenshaw related the story of a contractor she met who works in Will County.  The contractor said most of his business in Illinois is government business while most of his business in Indiana is private business.  Furthermore, the contractor told Crenshaw that "if we don't change politicians in November....and change the taxing environment, the regulatory environment, and the legal environment in Illinois, that contractor said he is moving to Indiana."

Crenshaw says, in regards to these two examples, "People who risk money, time, and skills need to be treated as friends to the state, because they create jobs and revenue."

Issue 4: Education
 I asked Crenshaw her reaction to an endorsement letter from AFT Local 604 that AJ Wilhelmi has posted on his website.  The letter claims Crenshaw will "gut public education as we know it"and implores people not to "let Senator Wilhelmi become victimized by the anti-incumbent fever being spread by those advocating an ultra conservative agenda."

Firstly, Crenshaw said the "letter is shameful in the way they have distorted" the facts.  Crenshaw said: "I am pro-teacher, my husband is a teacher, my kids go to public schools."  Furthermore, Crenshaw said "If the kids had a union, I'd be endorsed by the kids."

Crenshaw said, "We're not funding education right now, right now when he's in office."  Crenshaw said Wilhelmi voted to gut the pension, he skipped payments to the pension system.

Crenshaw supports the Meeks proposal to provide vouchers for children attending the weakest public schools in Chicago.  Crenshaw says charter schools not only provide a good option for children actually choosing to attend the charter schools, they also "drive-up competition in the public schools" and result in better education for all children.    More information on Crenshaw's ideas on educational policy can be found here.

Regarding the use of the word "victimized" in the letter, when asked whether the use of this word was condescending to the voters of the 43rd District--in that it implies that if Wilhelmi were to lose he will have been in some sense "victimized" by voters who were persuaded by an "anti-incumbent fever" rather than voters who were simply made a choice--Crenshaw said that is was condescending to the voters and that if Wilhelmi were to lose, "instead of being victimized, he would be held accountable."

Finally, when asked to discuss some of the goals she would pursue if elected, Crenshaw said she would be happy to "work with any lawmaker--regardless of party--to balance our state budget."   She would also be happy to "work with anyone to reduce the size of government."  Crenshaw said she would be happy to work with Democrat Emily McAsey to get rid of the legislative scholarship program.  Crenshaw said she would also be happy to work with Democrat James Meeks to "increase quality of education."