WMBD 31 takes a look at the website BustedMugshots.com.
By Ryan Denham
Five Things You Should Know for Friday, Oct. 26, 2012:
It's sweeps season -- a monthlong period where TV stations' ratings are most closely tallied -- meaning you'll see some harder-hitting stories on the air. WMBD 31's Jacob Long has a solid piece about an online business called BustedMugshots.com, run by Kyle Prall, the son of a retired McLean County judge. The site is a clearinghouse for mugshots of men and women under arrest all over the country, obtained through legal records requests. The caveat: Someone whose face is featured on the site can pay a $98 "administrative" fee to have the photo removed. McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery has denied a mugshot request from Prall, believing that his business is "flirting with extortion," as Long puts it. "There are a lot of other companies that do this and this information is going to become public. It's not going to stop. This is the digital age," Prall responds. It may be the digital age, but this is a 100 percent morally sketchy business.
All this time, we've all been concerned only about whether state lawmakers were setting aside enough money for Illinois' pension systems, and whether those pensions were too lavish for state employees. Now, Doug Finke with the Springfield Journal-Register reports that the Teachers Retirement System, or TRS, made less than 1 percent on its investments for the year that ended this past June. The rate of return historically has been closer to 7.7 percent, much higher than last year's 0.76 percent. The biggest hit to TRS' assets apparently came from international stock holdings. As you'll recall, TRS officials last month lowered next year's expected rate of return, from 8.5 percent to 8 percent, which bumped up the state's required contribution to $3.4 billion. “That’s how up and down the market has been,” a TRS official said. (Full disclosure: I am a full-time state university employee and am enrolled in the State Universities Retirement System.)
WMBD got an interview with Shanie Doss of Bloomington, whose two pit bulls allegedly attacked a man and woman delivering phone books to her apartment on Orchard Street. Authorities say the victims suffered serious injuries (fortunately not life-threatening) in the attack, which Doss says happened when one of the dogs pushed their way through the front door and attacked the woman. Her husband tried to come to her aid, only to be attacked himself. Both animals are in custody of Animal Control while the investigation continues. Doss told WMBD she understands that authorities want to euthanize her oldest dog but not her youngest, who she says stayed on the porch during the incident. What a horrible incident, and though I'm cautious about casting aspersions on entire breeds of dogs in the immediate wake of such an attack, it's a long leap of logic for me to ignore the obvious trendline. This dog lover hopes that the Ijams family heals quickly and fully.
Matthew Walberg with the Chicago Tribune reports on a newly proposed bill in Springfield -- spurred by the newspaper's own reporting -- that "would close a loophole that allows publicly funded nonprofits to shield financial arrangements their executives have with private management companies." It's a relavant issue for a number of reasons, primarily because the state doled out almost $10 billion to about 6,000 nonprofits in fiscal year 2011. And it seems to me that some people also view nonprofits with a slightly skeptical eye because of rumors about their leadership's pay packages; I know I do. This bill would solve that issue. Walberg uses an example from Galesburg, where a group that provides services to the physically and mentally disabled was able to shield its CEO's compensation by paying it through a related for-profit company whose documents are not publicly available. "If they want the privilege of tax exemption, part of the price they need to pay is disclosure of the compensation," one nonprofit watchdog says.
Not that I enjoy writing about (or even thinking about) Ann Coulter, but the conservative commentator created a self-inflicted controversy Monday with this tweet during the presidential debate: "I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard." Special Olympics athlete John Franklin Stephens famously wrote an open letter to Coulter on Tuesday encouraging her to stop using the word, an offshoot of the "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign you might have heard about. And Special Olympics Illinois President and CEO Dave Breen joined WJBC's Jim Fitzpatrick on Thursday to discuss the matter. "People say it and they don't mean anything by it," Breen said. "What we're trying to do is educate people so they know it hurts people and it really does mean something when they hear it because it belittles them."
Ryan Denham can be reached at email@example.com.