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Jonathan Ebel of Urbana announces run for Rodney Davis’ House seat

Since Carol Ammons announced that she would no longer seek Rodney Davis' seat in IL-13, there has not been a candidate from Champaign County who has thrown their hat into the 2018 race. Today, that changed with an announcement from Jonathan Ebel of Urbana.

Ebel, who is a Navy veteran and a professor at the University of Illinois, is the fifth Democrat from IL-13 to announce a run against Rodney "Hot Rod" Davis.

For more information, check out Ebel's campaign Facebook page here, and read The News-Gazette's profile on him here.


C-U Immigration Forum accepting nominations for Welcome Awards

The C-U Immigration Forum is preparing for its 4th Annual Welcome Awards to recognize individuals and organizations who have contributed to the success of immigrants in Champaign County. The awards ceremony is part of Welcome Week, which will take place September 15-24. Here are the specifics:

The Champaign-Urbana Immigration Forum is hosting the 4th Annual Welcome Awards! This year we are excited to announce a new collaboration with the cities of Champaign and Urbana. As part of this new partnership, the Champaign-Urbana International Humanitarian Awards (CUIHA) will now be included in the Immigrant Welcome Award Ceremony.

The CU Immigration Forum is now accepting your nominations in consideration of the individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions, taken risks, and have provided leadership for the well-being and success of immigrants in Champaign County. To view the award categories and to nominate, please fill this short form using the following link: The CU Immigration Forum will accept your nominations through September 1, 2017.

The award recipients will be officially recognized at the 4th Annual Welcome Awards Ceremony and Celebration from 2pm-4pm on Saturday, September 23, 2017 at the Muslim American Society Center. Event goers can expect food and fun for the whole family as we recognize and celebrate the individuals and organizations that have created a welcoming atmosphere for immigrants in Champaign County, Illinois.  For more information about the event including past award recipients, visit:

This event is part of Welcoming Week (September 15-24), a national week of events that works to bring communities bring together, immigrants and U.S.-born residents in a spirit of unity and to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone. For more information about Welcoming Week, visit Welcoming America's website at:


No charges filed against Champaign Police Officer who shot unarmed suspect

A couple of months ago, I wrote about a particularly-questionable officer-involved shooting in Champaign-Urbana.

Though there was no body camera footage, the Champaign Police Department did release the dash camera footage from Officer James Hobson, who shot unarmed suspect Dehari Banks after his foot slipped following a car chase in Champaign.

According to State's Attorney Julia Reitz, there is no evidence that Officer Hobson committed a crime, and all discipline handed down must be internal, through the Police Department.

The dash cam footage and audio is terrifying, and without any public mention of entrance and exit wounds, it still seems as though Officer Hobson acted negligently at best, and over-aggressively at worst.

Watch the dash cam video here, via The News-Gazette.

Read State's Attorney Reitz's statement to the Champaign Police Department, and CPD's press release below:

Champaign Police Provide Update into Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation

This news release comes as an update to the community regarding the June 11, 2017 shooting incident in which Champaign Police Officer James Hobson reported an accidental discharge of his duty weapon during apprehension of a fleeing subject. The single bullet discharge resulted in the subject, 22-year-old Dehari Banks, being struck in the shoulder and sustaining a non-life threatening gunshot wound.

The Champaign County Multi-Jurisdictional Investigative Team, led by the Illinois State Police, conducted the investigation into this incident and submitted those findings to the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s Office. Per written notification from State’s Attorney Julia Rietz, criminal charges will not be filed in regards to Officer Hobson’s actions.

According to reports, Officer Hobson initiated a traffic stop of a vehicle that Dehari Banks was driving. Banks eluded the officer for several blocks before ultimately crashing into a residential garage and fleeing on foot. The foot chase ended when Banks reached a fenced-in area in the 300 Block of N. Fourth St.; at which time Banks turned towards Officer Hobson, who drew his duty weapon as he was coming to a running stop. Officer Hobson reports that as he stopped, his foot slipped on the ground, causing an accidental discharge of his weapon.

Following the shooting incident and per Department policy, Officer Hobson was placed on paid investigative leave. He returned to the Department on June 22, 2017 and was assigned to desk duty and firearms training, pending the completion of the Multi-Jurisdictional Team’s investigation and the State’s Attorney’s ruling. The SA’s decision and review of Officer Hobson’s firearms training will determine his return to patrol duties.

Included in next steps, the Champaign Police Department will conduct its own internal investigation into the incident. At the conclusion of the internal investigation, the Department’s Firearms Discharge Review Board will convene to address the factors of the incident, as outlined within Department Policy 1.5: Firearms Discharge Investigation and Review. Chief Anthony Cobb will then complete a final review to implement his findings and recommendations, including any potential discipline.

“Our Department takes use of force incidents very seriously, especially when someone has been injured by gunfire,” shared Chief Cobb. “We’ve already taken some proactive measures to review and implement individual training needs, as well as taken review of Department-wide firearms training. I’m confident that the Firearms Discharge Review Board will thoroughly examine the issues surrounding this incident and make further recommendation on employee performance.”

With the conclusion of Illinois State Police’s investigation review and the State’s Attorney’s ruling, Champaign Police is releasing the squad car video with audio recording, associated with the June 11 shooting.


Deadspin blasts Illinois Football - again

In what is certainly a stale and overdone trope, Deadspin took to the internet today to publish a piece entitled "Illinois Is Paying Lovie Smith A Lot Of Money For This Shit", and featuring another picture of a half-empty fan section.

I get it - Illinois Football is bad. It's more fun to think of funny things to tweet during the game than watch the actual game. Perhaps we've just gotten used to being bad by now, but honestly, why are people still so infatuated with the fact that a bad team doens't inspire their fans?

That's not a remarkable phenomenon at all. The first time, it was funny, the second time, it was bordering on annoying, but this latest piece is the definiton of beating a dead horse. It's the equivalent of someone saying "Ha ha, look at the bad team. Their fans don't even want to come to the games (imagine that?) because they're bad."

No shit, Deadspin. We know we're bad. We're working on it. Pick on a team who pays athletes or has fake classes instead. Let us lose in peace.


Learn to cook vegetarian Ethiopian food

In my highly unscientific polling of friends, Ethiopian food is often first or second on the list of "restaurants/cuisines/foods I wish were in C-U." Common Ground Food Co-op is offering a Vegetarian Ethiopian Cuisine class ($10 owners/$15 non-owners) on Saturday, September 23rd from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

Here's the description:

In this class, Tesfaye will guide you through the preparation of a vegetarian dish containing lentils and vegetables, paired with traditional Ethiopian bread, injera. Born in Ethiopia and a scholar of anthropology, he will also discuss the cultural, topographical, and historical elements that have shaped and influenced contemporary Ethiopian cuisine.

This one's bound to fill up quickly, so register online here, or in the store. 

Photo by Jim Singer. 


U of I announces a shift to a single logo

Today the University of Illinois announced that they will be returning to the use of a single logo, the orange block "I" that has been used for much of it's history. In 1997, nonathletic units began using the column "I". That will now be phased out in favor of a singular block "I" logo. 

Chancellor Robert J. Jones is doing this in an effort to strengthen the Illinois brand. Is it a waste of money? A smart marketing decision? Can't say I have huge feelings on it, but I don't have any column "I" letterhead, nor do I have to go around and change all the signs on campus. You can read more about the reasoning at the Illinois New Bureau.


U of I Housing shares move-in day traffic re-routes, road closures

The University of Illinois is back in session soon for the fall 2017 semester, and students are moving back gradually of course — but move in day is officially August 24th. Be prepared, if you're going to be around campus. 

The U of I Housing team has shared some info, plus this map that provides re-routes and road closures that you might find helpful.


Champaign County Circuit Clerk to launch new website, e-filing

The Clerk of the Circuit Court for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Champaign County, Katie M. Blakeman has proudly announced her office’s plan to go live with a new website this Thursday, August 10, 2017.

“After more than a year’s worth of work, user surveys, focus groups, and usability testing, we are finally ready to launch!” says Blakeman.

The new website will include a new and improved public access system, real-time court docket entry updates, all case type lookup by an individual’s name, docket sheet printing, and the ability to search cases by court calendars, courtrooms, judges, attorneys, names, or case numbers.

Accessibility improvements include ADA compliance with all pages and non-English language access provided by Google Translate. 

Additionally, Champaign Co. joins courts statewide with permissive civil e-filing (see the full statewide court e-filing list here). This process is likely to go to mandatory e-filing for civil cases on January 1, 2018 for all court users (including self-represented litigants, unless the Court delays this new rule).

E-Filing for criminal cases is likely to follow, although no formal dates have been announced.

More information on Court E-Filing in Illinois here.

30 Things to Know About E-Filing Changes in Illinois by Mark C. Palmer


Rep. Carol Ammons shares which bills she’s supporting

Representative Carol Ammons recently shared an email detailing the work she's doing in the Illinois General Assembly, including the bills she is supporting or co-sponsoring. Whether you agree with her stances or not, transparency is good, and so is staying informed about how your rep is voting. See her statement below and follow the link to see the rest of the newsletter.

Recently the budget and school funding have held most of our attention, as they should, but there is a lot more happening at the State Capital.

I believe that compromise is a necessary part of the lawmaking process. That is why I voted to pass SB6, a balanced, bipartisan budget plan that cuts nearly $3 billion in state bureaucracy, and invests our finite resources in critical services like Meals on Wheels, domestic violence shelters, breast cancer screenings and other services that middle-class families, the elderly and our most vulnerable rely on. I'm proud to say the General Assembly worked cooperatively to put people over politics and to end the state’s budget impasse.

It is my hope that this email will help you stay in touch with your government. As your representative, I believe in the importance of public service. If there's anything my office can do to assist you, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Here for service,