Morning headlines: Thursday, December 1, 2011
Occupy STL members say movement still strong
The tents are gone from Kiener Plaza, along with the big crowds. But people involved in the Occupy St. Louis movement say they're still going strong.
Today marks the two-month anniversary of the movement that began in New York and spread to several other cities. At one point in St. Louis, more than 100 people were camped in Kiener Plaza, a downtown park.
Police shut down the encampment on Nov. 12. But a march five days later included an estimated 1,000 participants. Occupy St. Louis members Colleen Kelly and John Mills say the group has 8,000 followers on Facebook. Daily meetings are still taking place. Kelly and Mills say the loss of the encampment dampened enthusiasm but marches, rallies and other events are still in the works.
STL area loses State Senate district
The St. Louis area has lost a State Senate district, based on the new legislative maps released Wednesday by a six-judge panel. The Seventh District is represented by Republican Jane Cunningham and mainly consists of western St. Louis County. Starting in 2013, it will consist of six counties to the north and west of the metro area and a small portion of St. Charles County.
Cunningham says she'll now run for the 27th district Senate seat, which will include parts of St. Louis and Jefferson Counties:
"I had expected much of this area to be mine anyway, I've already been working in many of what would be new areas, and so they know me, my home is in another area, our home is in another area, but this is my stomping grounds," said Cunningham.
Cunningham will have to move to a new home in order to live in the new 27th district, which she calls a minor inconvenience. The new State Senate boundaries also have Cunningham's current home in the same district as fellow Republican Senator John Lamping.
Blagojevich attorneys say former Ill. Gov. deserves less than 41 months in prison
Attorneys for ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich say he should receive a sentence well below the federal prosecutors' recommendation of 15 to 20 years in prison. In a filing Wednesday, Blagojevich's lawyers don't make a specific recommendation for a sentence. But they say his sentencing range under federal guidelines should be 41 to 51 months and suggest reasons that Blagojevich should get a lesser sentence than that range.
Prosecutors say Blagojevich deserves a much stiffer sentence. They argue in their own filing that he abused the public's trust and deserves more time than other Illinois political figures found guilty of corruption.
The 54-year-old Blagojevich was convicted of corruption that included trying to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. He's scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 6.
Bargaining units sign off on all new contracts with SIUC
The last two of four bargaining units representing workers at Southern Illinois University have signed off on new contracts with the Carbondale school. Members of the Faculty Association and the Non-Tenure Track Faculty Association ratified the deals Wednesday.
Spokesmen for both groups say more than 94 percent of the votes cast were in favor of the contracts reached early last month. The Faculty Association reached the deal Nov. 9, nearly a week after many of its members went on strike at the 20,000-student university. The university's board of trustees now must ratify the agreements before Chancellor Rita Cheng signs the documents.