Charles N. Wheeler III

Analyst

The director of the Public Affairs Reporting (PAR) graduate program is Professor Charles N. Wheeler III,  a veteran newsman who came to the University of Illinois at Springfield following a 24-year career at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Wheeler covered state government and politics for the Sun-Times since 1970, when he covered the Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention. For the last 19 years of his Sun-Times tenure, Wheeler was assigned to the newspaper’s Statehouse bureau. During that time, he was elected to 16 consecutive one-year terms as president of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association and served for many years on the PAR program and admissions committees.

Since 1984, he has written a monthly column for Illinois Issues magazine, which has won five Capitolbeat awards for magazine commentary/analysis. In 2006, the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association inducted him into The Lincoln League of Journalists, which honors men and women who have provided exemplary service to other journalists and to daily newspapers published in Illinois. In 2013, he was chosen as the Journalist of the Year by the Journalism Department at Eastern Illinois University.  He is also a regular on the panel for State Week, WUIS' weekly political analysis program that airs on public radio stations across Illinois.

Before joining the Sun-Times in 1969, Wheeler served more than three years as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Panama. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University, Winona, MN, majoring in English, and received a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Wheeler draws on the talents of many UIS faculty with expertise in such fields as public budgeting, political science, and communication, as well as professional journalists and state officials, to present students with a well-rounded program to bridge the academic and professional areas.

Brent Levin / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

There are reasons for legalizing industrial hemp.

Might pot and ditch weed help ease the state's financial crisis and boost its farm economy?

A month after Gov. Bruce Rauner conveyed to Republicans his opposition to the grand bargain, Senate Democrats are rejecting his attempt to break off pieces of the deal. Meanwhile, Democrats are offering a "Comeback Agenda" as an alternative to Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda," and House Speaker Michael Madigan is taking public offense to some of the governor's remarks.

Republican senators working with Gov. Bruce Rauner began breaking off pieces of the "grand bargain," which Democrats say undermines efforts to move toward a compromise budget. Meanwhile, what had been a bipartisan selection process for Illinois' U.S. attorneys is changing, with senior Republican Congressman John Shimkus saying he's waiting for the Trump administration to advise him on how to proceed.

Chance the Rapper critiques Gov. Bruce Rauner's job performance, the governor alleges a conspiracy among Democrats, and the Appellate Court gives AFSCME a temporary reprieve in its contract fight.

As Illinois enters its 21st month without a real budget, several questions occupy observers of state government: Is the state Senate's "grand bargain" dead? If so, who killed it? Where do we go from here? And has anyone heard from the Illinois House of Representatives?

Wilhelm Joy Sanderson / CC by 4.0 / Flickr

There are serious consequences under Gov, Bruce Rauner's tax proposal.

Members of AFSCME voted overwhelmingly to give the union's bargaining committee the power to strike. The union has been in a contract fight with Gov. Bruce Rauner for more than two years. Rauner has tried to impose his terms, saying they're a fair deal for both workers and taxpayers. Meanwhile, in the week following the governor's budget address, Rauner did little to support or defend his plan.

Bruce Rauner
Rich Saal / The State Journal-Register (pool)

Gov. Bruce Rauner issued his third budget proposal to the General Assembly this week (potential deficit: $7.2 billion). Meanwhile, a St. Clair County judge declined to rescind his order paying state employees even without the legislative authorization required in the Illinois Constitution (cost so far: $3 billion). That, a remembrance of the late Peoria Congressman Bob Michel, and more.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois Senate's "grand bargain" stumbles, Gov. Bruce Rauner fights to allow Illinois to keep going without a full budget, and Illinois businessman Chris Kennedy enters the race for governor.

Lawmakers introduced competing plans to make sure state employees can remain on the job even if there's no end to the state budget standoff. Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner is refusing to say whether he approves of the incipient budget compromise being worked out in the state Senate. And what does it say about the future of the downstate economy that Caterpillar Inc. is moving several hundred top jobs from Peoria to the Chicago area?

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is asking a St. Clair County judge to stop state employees from getting paid without a legal state budget. Could the move force a resolution of Illinois' 19-month budget impasse?

Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner gave his annual State of the State address. And Rauner, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and President Donald Trump engaged in a multimedia war of words.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, more talk of a potential bipartisan compromise on reaching a budget agreement - in the Senate, at least.  Governor Bruce Rauner isn't commenting on it, however.  Matt Dietrich of Reboot Illinois and Tony Arnold of WBEZ Public Radio join the panel.

Protester wearing oversize Madigan mascot head.
Illinois Policy Institute

Anti-Madigan effort fails to sway House members in speaker election.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week saw the inauguration of a new session at the Statehouse - the 100th General Assembly.  Will this new term be able to solve Illinois' long-standing budget crisis?  Chris Mooney, Director of the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, and Lee Enterprises' Dan Petrella join the panel.

Illinois legislators are returning to Springfield for the final few days of lame duck session. Will there be a grand compromise? And what's the deal with the Illinois Republican Party's interference in the Democratic race for speaker of the House?

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

A year-end overview of 2016, in which Illinois finds itself in much the same situation as it was 12 months ago, but with an even deeper budget hole and increasingly dire straits for social services and higher education.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois' stopgap spending plan expires December 31st and there is still no sign of a budget agreement.  State workers continue to be paid, but social service agencies, colleges, and universities are bracing for a chilly new year.

Bernie Schoenburg of The State Journal-Register  joins the panel.

As Gov. Bruce Rauner continues attacking Democrats, it's looking increasingly likely that Illinois will enter 2017 without a budget. Meanwhile, former Congressman Aaron Schock pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges.

It’s been 1 year, 5 months and 9 days since Illinois government had a full, regular budget. Legislative leaders continue painting their counterparts in the other party as the main obstacle. Meanwhile rank-and-file legislators have gone without pay since June, and now a group of Democrats are suing, saying it’s an attempt to coerce them into going along with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s agenda.

Nuclear plant workers in Clinton and Quad Cities — not to mention Exelon and ComEd shareholders — got a helping hand from Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly. But there was no such luck for the many social service providers, university students and countless others hoping for Illinois' first full budget in a year-and-a-half.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Democratic leaders met for the the first time in months. Judging from their diverging responses, you might wonder if they were actually in the same room. Meanwhile AFSCME members rallied after getting bad news from the state labor board.

Mendoza campaign

Democrats prevailed in statewide races, but couldn't hold on to seats in southern Illinois. Meanwhile, suburban Republicans may hold less sway in the party's legislative caucus.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Republicans made gains in the Illinois House and Senate, but Democrats cleaned up in statewide races. Meanwhile, Illinois government is still without a balanced budget — does the election change anything?

An election season of unprecedented spending on negative advertising is coming to an end. How does it rank? And what does it mean for the future?

Sen. Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth participated in their first televised presidential debate this week. Kirk made a comment about his opponent's ethnic heritage for which he later felt compelled to apologize. We'll ask Charlie Wheeler why voters should care about the special election for Illinois comptroller. And Sen. Dick Durbin might mean it when he says he isn't interested in taking on Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018.

Donald Trump's talk of "rigged" elections prompts Illinois and Chicago officials to say widespread voter fraud is a thing of the past. Meanwhile, a Chicago Democratic operative feels the burn of a conservative undercover activist. And could there be unintended consequences for state parks if Illinois voters approve the so-called transportation lockbox?

Illinois Republicans continue to struggle with their reactions to Donald Trump's bus video. Congressman Rodney Davis withdrew his endorsement while Gov. Bruce Rauner continues trying to dodge the question.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune editorial board is backing Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth over Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, citing concerns about Krik's ability to do the job following his 2012 stroke. And the advocacy arm of the conservative Illinois Policy Institute has screened its movie attacking House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Public Domain

A proposed amendment to the state’s constitution would protect money set aside for transportation projects. Supporters say the change is needed because money that's supposed to be earmarked for building roads has gone to other expenses over the years. But the amendment could allow some of those practices to continue, while endangering other popular programs. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Simon Poll says incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk is 14 points behind Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. Democrats and Republicans are trying to use the other side's unpopular leaders to sink down-ballot candidates. Plus, Illinois is awash in campaign cash.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner stuck to his script during his Facebook Live event. He also denies that his legislative agenda is "hurting some class."

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