Morning headlines - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 | St. Louis Public Radio

Morning headlines - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 16, 2012

County parks audit finds spending on vehicles during budget crisis

An internal audit of the St. Louis County Parks Department has found the department spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on new vehicles, even as county executive Charlie Dooley was threatening to close parks and lay off employees.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the audit also found about $129,000 in capital improvement dollars that had been sitting since the bonds were issued decades ago.

The new parks director, Tom Ott, told the paper the department had lost track of the bond money, and planned to spend it soon. But he defended the vehicle purchases, saying the fleet was aging, leading to increased repair costs.

Rolla native killed in Afghanistan

A 22-year-old former soccer star from Rolla has been killed in Afghanistan.

Pfc. Richard L. McNulty III died Sunday when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device near the country’s border with Pakistan. A soldier from California was also killed.

The Rolla Daily News says McNulty was scheduled to come home in three weeks. His wife is due to give birth to their first child in June.

McNulty was with an airborne special troops battalion based out of Alaska.

Ill. Senate approves ROE consolidation

Brian Mackey contributed reporting from Springfield.

Regional superintendents in Illinois are backing a measure that would reduce their numbers by 25 percent in an effort to avoid complete elimination of the offices.

The proposal passed the state Senate without opposition yesterday.

Regional offices of education deal with truancy cases, administer GED programs and handle teacher certification and transportation arrangements.

Sangamon County regional superintendent Jeff Vose says the cuts were larger than the superintendents hoped for.

"But the consensus is we understand that cuts need to be made," he said. "Not just with regional sups, but all other types of programs, from Medicaid to pensions to budget in all state agencies and local municipalities."

The reduction is unlikely to satisfy critics of the offices, who call them duplicative and say local districts can take over the functions. But Vose said he and colleagues no longer face an existential threat.

Regional superintendents went months without pay last year after Gov. Pat Quinn eliminated state funding for their salaries - a standoff that ended with an agreement to use local property tax revenue for that purpose.