Morning round-up
9:29 am
Thu December 29, 2011

Morning headlines: Thursday, December 29, 2011

Illinois' anti-gambling lobby speaks out against online lottery plan

Illinois Lottery officials want lotto tickets available online by next spring. Both the state - and gambling critics - agree that'll be a financial boon for Illinois.

"Well, it could be a boon, but at the expense of addicted gamblers," said Anita Bedell, the head of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems. Bedell, who has been fighting gambling expansion for years, says she worries online ticket sales will make it too easy for gambling addicts to get their fix.

State law allows for gambling addicts to exclude themselves from being able to set up an online lotto account. But Bedell says that doesn't work.

State officials say their website would limit ticket sales to Illinoisans over 18.

Copper thieves vandalize 23 school air conditioners in St. Louis County

St. Louis County Police believe it took weeks for copper thieves to vandalize all 23 air conditioners on a school roof. The 23 units atop Jennings Junior High School were stripped of their copper coils, causing an estimated $500,000 in damage. A maintenance worker discovered the thefts last week.

The air conditioners are useless without the coils, and the school district is looking at replacing them. The thieves apparently used a ladder stolen from a home next door to the school.

A local resident, Megan Kinealy says her father found the ladder propped up against the school. Kinealy also says her family noticed their dog barking at something in the neighborhood a few times recently, but nobody thought to look up at the school's roof.

Former head of St. Clair County GOP sentenced for threatening judge

Fifty-four-year-old Richard Swing of Mascoutah pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for threatening a judge and was sentenced to two years of conditional discharge. Swing entered the plea to the misdemeanor count Wednesday in St. Clair County.

The sentence requires him to comply with mental-health treatment, pay court costs and stay away from Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn and the judge's family. A criminal complaint against Swing in July accused him of delivering a letter to McGlynn threatening to expose the judge to ridicule, hatred or contempt if he didn't recuse himself from a pending case and vacate a court order. Prosecutors dropped a felony count of intimidation.

Swing and McGlynn have served as chairmen of the St. Clair County GOP.