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I regret to inform Rodney Davis that there are no “hamberders” left

Just in case you've been living under a rock for the last 24 hours, last night, President Trump and the White House hosted the Clemson Tigers football team — undefeated national champions this year. Trump decided to serve McDonald's and other forms of fast food, because that's just the type of "human" he appears to be. 

As Trump tweeted this morning, all of those "hamberders" are now gone. "Big eaters" he said!

That said, our IL 13 Representative Rodney Davis wants in on this action. There has to be some hamberders left, right? And he doesn't just want in, he wants the leftovers because he's "a @McDonalds family", whatever that means.

Who is going to tell Hot Rod there isn't anything left?

While I'm not above McDonald's, you can just peer directly into the world of Rodney Davis, who we know sides with Trump often.

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Hot Rod tried to “own” a high school student like a boss

Rodney "No Vitrolic Rhetoric" Davis proved his prowess in talking to constituents who may not agree with him in this masterful exchange with a local high school student:

That local high school student was Juliann Xu, pictured below, who was just named a 2018-2019 Student Ambassador to the Champaign Unit 4 School Board. Let's hope she's planning to run and replace those like Rod sometime in the future. 

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HUM close to completing new album, reissuing Downward is Heavenward

I've been posting quite a bit about HUM as of late, but that's only due to Matt Talbott's touring activity, which is worthy of noting here on SP. That said, this is worth some attention: HUM is nearing completion of their first new album in 20 years, a follow up to 1998's Downward is Heavenward. Speaking of which, they are reiussing Downward fairly soon. Check out their band's Facebook post from Talbott:

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Champaign County calls out Bruce Rauner, causing him to “apologize”

ICYMI, our governer made it a point to disparage C-U in an interview with WGN radio this week, as he was attempting to make a point about University of Illinois graduates seeking jobs elsewhere, rather than staying in here. 

"There are several reasons, but part of the reason is Champaign-Urbana is wonderful. But it’s very hard to keep a company of more than six people there. There’s no convenient transportation, not much of a workforce, and it’s very hard."

Yeah, he poked the bear on that one. We "down-staters" tend to be pretty fiercly defensive of what we have going on here, and the backlash was swift and pointed. It took less than a day for those who have a stake in the well-being of our community to jump on this and release a statement:

In response to Governor Rauner's comments on the radio yesterday, we have the
following statement:

Champaign County has been a shining star of economic growth in the State of Illinois for a number of years. Home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the top research institutions in the world, and also employers like Wolfram, Heinz Kraft, Carle, FedEx, Parkland College, OSF HealthCare, Christie Clinic, Oath (Yahoo), Amdocs, Agrible, Granular, and Busey, not to mention the University of Illinois Research Park which is home to 115+ high-tech companies, from startup to Fortune 500, and has 2,000+ employees combined, we are proud of the following:

- We have direct access to three interstate highways, plus rail and air
- Champaign-Urbana was the state’s fastest-growing city in 2017 – when looked at
together, Champaign-Urbana is the sixth largest city in the State of Illinois, ranking just ahead of Springfield and Peoria
- A low unemployment rate of 3.5% (Champaign County)
- During the past five years, Champaign has added 2,589 jobs
- The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District had more than 12 million riders in 2016 and 2017 – in 2016, ridership topped that of Rockford (IL), Indianapolis (IN), and Nashville (TN)
- 156,000+ Amtrak passengers from Illinois Terminal
- Added United Airlines service from Willard Airport to Chicago in 2017 and set a 10-
year record in enplanements
- Consistently ranked as bike friendly, a top college town, age and family friendly, and was recently named Best Midwest Food Town by Midwest Living Magazine
- We are a diverse and welcoming community

We recently celebrated a homegrown success story – the expansion of II-VI EpiWorks,a leading provider of compound semiconductor epitaxial wafers. The expansion, which included support from the State of Illinois through an EDGE grant, included the building of two new structures, a 17,888 SF clean room and 24,966 SF office building. The project has enabled the creation of 100+ technology jobs and numerous operations and administrative support positions. This is just one of the many success stories in Champaign County – and we look forward to creating more.

We ask that Governor Rauner join us in our success and support the continued
economic growth of Champaign County.

Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen, City of Champaign
Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin, City of Urbana
Mayor Joan Dykstra, Village of Savoy
Sean M. Widener, Village President – Village of Mahomet
Village of Rantoul
Champaign County Economic Development Corporation
Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District
Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Visit Champaign County
Champaign County Regional Planning Commission

As a result, Rauner, when meeting with several members of the Champaign County First group currently in D.C., "apologized." According to a statement from his campaign, Rauner “clarified his firm belief that Champaign-Urbana is doing an outstanding job in economic development.” Which is basically the exact opposite of what he said originally, so sure. It's like when the kids are fighting and you force them to apologize and each say something nice about the other one. 

Photo is a screen shot from this Rauner ad.

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Josh Hartke resigning from Champaign County Board

Josh Hartke has announced his resignation from Champaign County Board effective April 30th. HIs term wasn't supposed to end until November of 2020. Hartke served District 6 residents.

Read his resignation letter below:

April 20, 2018

Chair Weibel, 

It is with bittersweet regret that I announce my resignation from the Champaign County Board, effective at noon on April 30, 2018. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Champaign County and the residents of District 6. 

I am proud of the work done, despite huge obstacles in our way and the constant, unwavering opposition of Republicans on the board. Maintaining the nursing home as a public resource is a victory. Not spending millions of dollars on a new jail is a victory as well. We created the Racial Justice Task force, and are moving forward with implementing their directives. With hard work from a group of committed local activists, I am leaving the county board Democratic caucus stronger, more diverse, more progressive, and more united than it has ever been.

As I leave, I encourage my fellow Democrats, from governor to county board member, to always remember the importance of sticking to our values, the ones that motivate our base to support us. Remember that the services provided by the nursing home are just as important as those provided by the Recorder or the Sheriff, that justice comes in enabling and supporting those who need it most, not just in punishing those who make mistakes, and that budgets are statements of priorities. Remember that racial justice and economic equality are constant battle to be fought. 

And remember that our progressive coalition must stick together, or we will surely lose all that we have fought for to those who would gain power only to enrich themselves.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

Sincerely,

Josh Hartke

Champaign County Board District 6

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Ebertfest 2018 announces full schedule of films

Ebertfest 2018 is taking shape, week by week, with more announcements about the slate of films they are showing in 2018. We've seen a few thus far (go to our post about The Big Lebowski for the first few), but the festival has unveiled the full scope of films slated for 2018.

  • The Rambling Rose (1991)
  • Selena (1997)
  • American Splendor (2003)
  • Rumble: Indians Who Rocked The World (2017)
  • A Page of Madness (1926)
  • Interstellar (2014)
  • Rumble (2017)

You can buy single film tickets here if you have something you're interested in. The full film schedule is here.

Top photo by Sam Logan.

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Rachel Switzky named inaugural director of Siebel Center for Design

Rachel Switzky will soon be named the first Director of the Siebel Center for Design at the U of I.

Fun fact: Switzky once played in local bands Sarge and Corndolly. Pretty rad.

From the U of I News Bureau:

Rachel Switzky, an executive director at international design and consulting firm IDEO, has been selected to be the inaugural director of the Siebel Center for Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Switzky, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial design at Illinois, will begin the new role June 18, pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

Photo by Nicolas Zurcher, illustration by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

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Michael Finke is transferring from Illini Basketball

Illini Basketball is rebuilding under Brad Underwood, and Michael Finke won't be a part of that process next season. Finke is a grad of Champaign Centennial. 

He's announced on Twitter that he's transfering from Illini hoops to finish up his final year of eligibility:

This comes shortly after Leron Black announced he'd be giving the pros a shot (if he makes it), declaring for the NBA draft.

Top photo by Mike Pauza.

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The GEO has a contract

After 11 days of striking, the GEO has a contract agreement with the U of I administration, per their announcement last night on Facebook. The text below comes from the GEO's website (linked above), and from what we can gather, the GEO got much of what they wanted. More details will be released soon, so for now, check out the information.

Read our Editorial Board piece about the strike.


Dear GEO Members,

We have a contract! All of the ballots have been tallied and 98% of GEO members voted to approve the contract. This means the strike is over and that we can all return to work.

Once the new contract has been properly formatted we will send out the full document and post it on the GEO website.

As part of the new contract, the bargaining team created a plan for how to make up hours lost due to striking. Please contact your immediate supervisor to create a plan for making up lost hours. If your work was scabbed, you may not be able to make up lost hours. Make up hours must be completed before March 30, 2018. Please contact the GEO if you have any questions or concerns!

Congratulations on a successful strike, everyone! Thank you for all of your hard work.

In Solidarity,
Graduate Employees’ Organization
809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room
Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: 217-344-8283
Email: geo@uigeo.org

Top photo by Megan Flowers.
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Can you guess how many people have ridden the MTD since 1971? Hint: it’s a lot

CUMTD tweeted out a pretty crazy statistic yesterday.

Take a look:

That's a lot of people using mass transit in CU. They have kept track of annual ridership dating back to 1938. Here are the stats they provided:

 

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Champaign Surplus closing Downtown location; will open new location this Spring

303 S. Neil Street has been home to Champaign Surplus for the last 35 years, and the store has announced that they will be leaving that location for a new home this Spring. You can see all the information below from their press release, but they're holding a liquidation sale that will begin February 1st.

From the press release:

Champaign Surplus Begins New Era, Closing Downtown Doors After 70 Years

CHAMPAIGN, IL — Champaign Surplus, Champaign-Urbana’s largest locally owned and operated outdoor store, announced yesterday that it will be closing the downtown Champaign location they have occupied for the past 35 years, and will be opening a new Champaign location later this Spring. The closing will be preceded by an “End of an Era” Liquidation Sale set to begin on Thursday, February 1.

In 2017, Champaign Surplus was awarded “Most Innovative Retailer” by the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance — the nation’s premiere organization of independent outdoor stores and partner industry vendors. This honor came after the launch and rapid year-over-year growth of a successful e-commerce site, ruggedoutdoors.com, and the implementation of an automatic price matching program in the brick-and-mortar store.

Champaign Surplus made the decision to innovate further by announcing plans to open a new retail concept. Details of this move are still being finalized, and an announcement about the store’s reopening is expected soon.

In a letter to their customers, Dan & Shira said: 

“We are in a unique position to once again transform our business to meet the needs of the current retail environment and best serve our customers and community… Rest assured our new store will be true to our heritage while evolving the concept of what an outdoor store can be.”

The End of an Era Liquidation Sale will start on February 1st at 9am with the entire store marked down 20, 30, 40 and 50% off. The doors will close for good at the 303 S. Neil St. location once the inventory is gone and the sale has concluded. Current gift cards and customer store credits will be honored during the sale, and in the new location.

Shira Epstein commented: 

“We did not make this decision lightly. It been especially emotional for me. I grew up in this business, and that meant being a part of downtown Champaign — even when we were one of only a handful of businesses to remain downtown prior to its resurgence. Our current building has been my home away from home since I was 10 years old. But, I also know that our current plan is going to be a great new era for our business and Champaign-Urbana; and for providing our special brand of the ­­personalized, quality shopping experience. Our customers and local lovers of the outdoors can look forward to a cool new space, similar product mix, and some innovative uses of technology to enhance our specialty outdoor products and customer service.”

Dan Epstein said: 

“The ownership of our business is not changing, and we are certainly not going out of business. We are still the locally owned and operated family business our community has loved and supported over the decades. We are committed to Champaign, and while the decision to leave our current location was not easy, we are excited that our plans will better suit how people like to shop today. While there are many negative headlines swirling around retail of late, our specific market for outdoor and travel gear, fashion apparel, outerwear and footwear is very strong. We are making this move to further highlight our business and connect with more people in our community.”

Founded in 1947 by Leo & Anne Weisel after the end of World War II, Champaign Surplus began as an appliance and Army-Navy Surplus store at 115 S. Neil St. in downtown Champaign. With the addition of camping equipment, workwear and outdoor apparel, the store moved around the corner to 40 E. University Ave. in 1966.

In 1981, Leo & Anne’s daughter and son-in-law, Lynn and Ira Wachtel, purchased the business and became 2nd generation owners. While surplus merchandise remained the store’s roots and important part of the business model, the outdoor side of the business became the store’s passion. By 1983, Champaign Surplus had outgrown its second location, and needed to move to its current, 20,000 square foot location at 303 S. Neil St. in downtown Champaign. The larger building provided much needed space for wide-ranging products that were rising in popularity during that decade.

In 2010, Ira & Lynn’s daughter and son-in-law, Shira and Dan Epstein, took over the business and became the 3rd generation family owners of the enterprise. Dan, whose career had been in finance and accounting, and Shira, whose career had been in graphic design and marketing, revamped the branding of the store, made adjustments to the shopping environment and product mix, and launched an e-commerce site. Over the last 8 years, the store has evolved to focus on outerwear, footwear, travel necessities, and quality fashion and outdoor gear. Champaign Surplus continues to be a pinnacle dealer for top-tier outdoor brands. 

The Champaign Surplus End of an Era Liquidation Sale begins February 1st at 9am, with every item in their stock marked down up to 50%. The sale will conclude once the inventory is gone, and announcements about the new location and reopening will be forthcoming.

Top photo from Champaign Surplus' Facebook page.