Category: Quote

Champaign County calls out Bruce Rauner, causing him to “apologize”

ICYMI, our governer made it a point to disparage C-U in an interview with WGN radio this week, as he was attempting to make a point about University of Illinois graduates seeking jobs elsewhere, rather than staying in here. 

"There are several reasons, but part of the reason is Champaign-Urbana is wonderful. But it’s very hard to keep a company of more than six people there. There’s no convenient transportation, not much of a workforce, and it’s very hard."

Yeah, he poked the bear on that one. We "down-staters" tend to be pretty fiercly defensive of what we have going on here, and the backlash was swift and pointed. It took less than a day for those who have a stake in the well-being of our community to jump on this and release a statement:

In response to Governor Rauner's comments on the radio yesterday, we have the
following statement:

Champaign County has been a shining star of economic growth in the State of Illinois for a number of years. Home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the top research institutions in the world, and also employers like Wolfram, Heinz Kraft, Carle, FedEx, Parkland College, OSF HealthCare, Christie Clinic, Oath (Yahoo), Amdocs, Agrible, Granular, and Busey, not to mention the University of Illinois Research Park which is home to 115+ high-tech companies, from startup to Fortune 500, and has 2,000+ employees combined, we are proud of the following:

- We have direct access to three interstate highways, plus rail and air
- Champaign-Urbana was the state’s fastest-growing city in 2017 – when looked at
together, Champaign-Urbana is the sixth largest city in the State of Illinois, ranking just ahead of Springfield and Peoria
- A low unemployment rate of 3.5% (Champaign County)
- During the past five years, Champaign has added 2,589 jobs
- The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District had more than 12 million riders in 2016 and 2017 – in 2016, ridership topped that of Rockford (IL), Indianapolis (IN), and Nashville (TN)
- 156,000+ Amtrak passengers from Illinois Terminal
- Added United Airlines service from Willard Airport to Chicago in 2017 and set a 10-
year record in enplanements
- Consistently ranked as bike friendly, a top college town, age and family friendly, and was recently named Best Midwest Food Town by Midwest Living Magazine
- We are a diverse and welcoming community

We recently celebrated a homegrown success story – the expansion of II-VI EpiWorks,a leading provider of compound semiconductor epitaxial wafers. The expansion, which included support from the State of Illinois through an EDGE grant, included the building of two new structures, a 17,888 SF clean room and 24,966 SF office building. The project has enabled the creation of 100+ technology jobs and numerous operations and administrative support positions. This is just one of the many success stories in Champaign County – and we look forward to creating more.

We ask that Governor Rauner join us in our success and support the continued
economic growth of Champaign County.

Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen, City of Champaign
Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin, City of Urbana
Mayor Joan Dykstra, Village of Savoy
Sean M. Widener, Village President – Village of Mahomet
Village of Rantoul
Champaign County Economic Development Corporation
Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District
Champaign County Chamber of Commerce
Visit Champaign County
Champaign County Regional Planning Commission

As a result, Rauner, when meeting with several members of the Champaign County First group currently in D.C., "apologized." According to a statement from his campaign, Rauner “clarified his firm belief that Champaign-Urbana is doing an outstanding job in economic development.” Which is basically the exact opposite of what he said originally, so sure. It's like when the kids are fighting and you force them to apologize and each say something nice about the other one. 

Photo is a screen shot from this Rauner ad.


Josh Hartke resigning from Champaign County Board

Josh Hartke has announced his resignation from Champaign County Board effective April 30th. HIs term wasn't supposed to end until November of 2020. Hartke served District 6 residents.

Read his resignation letter below:

April 20, 2018

Chair Weibel, 

It is with bittersweet regret that I announce my resignation from the Champaign County Board, effective at noon on April 30, 2018. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Champaign County and the residents of District 6. 

I am proud of the work done, despite huge obstacles in our way and the constant, unwavering opposition of Republicans on the board. Maintaining the nursing home as a public resource is a victory. Not spending millions of dollars on a new jail is a victory as well. We created the Racial Justice Task force, and are moving forward with implementing their directives. With hard work from a group of committed local activists, I am leaving the county board Democratic caucus stronger, more diverse, more progressive, and more united than it has ever been.

As I leave, I encourage my fellow Democrats, from governor to county board member, to always remember the importance of sticking to our values, the ones that motivate our base to support us. Remember that the services provided by the nursing home are just as important as those provided by the Recorder or the Sheriff, that justice comes in enabling and supporting those who need it most, not just in punishing those who make mistakes, and that budgets are statements of priorities. Remember that racial justice and economic equality are constant battle to be fought. 

And remember that our progressive coalition must stick together, or we will surely lose all that we have fought for to those who would gain power only to enrich themselves.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve.


Josh Hartke

Champaign County Board District 6


Ebertfest 2018 announces full schedule of films

Ebertfest 2018 is taking shape, week by week, with more announcements about the slate of films they are showing in 2018. We've seen a few thus far (go to our post about The Big Lebowski for the first few), but the festival has unveiled the full scope of films slated for 2018.

  • The Rambling Rose (1991)
  • Selena (1997)
  • American Splendor (2003)
  • Rumble: Indians Who Rocked The World (2017)
  • A Page of Madness (1926)
  • Interstellar (2014)
  • Rumble (2017)

You can buy single film tickets here if you have something you're interested in. The full film schedule is here.

Top photo by Sam Logan.


Rachel Switzky named inaugural director of Siebel Center for Design

Rachel Switzky will soon be named the first Director of the Siebel Center for Design at the U of I.

Fun fact: Switzky once played in local bands Sarge and Corndolly. Pretty rad.

From the U of I News Bureau:

Rachel Switzky, an executive director at international design and consulting firm IDEO, has been selected to be the inaugural director of the Siebel Center for Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Switzky, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial design at Illinois, will begin the new role June 18, pending approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

Photo by Nicolas Zurcher, illustration by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson


Michael Finke is transferring from Illini Basketball

Illini Basketball is rebuilding under Brad Underwood, and Michael Finke won't be a part of that process next season. Finke is a grad of Champaign Centennial. 

He's announced on Twitter that he's transfering from Illini hoops to finish up his final year of eligibility:

This comes shortly after Leron Black announced he'd be giving the pros a shot (if he makes it), declaring for the NBA draft.

Top photo by Mike Pauza.


The GEO has a contract

After 11 days of striking, the GEO has a contract agreement with the U of I administration, per their announcement last night on Facebook. The text below comes from the GEO's website (linked above), and from what we can gather, the GEO got much of what they wanted. More details will be released soon, so for now, check out the information.

Read our Editorial Board piece about the strike.

Dear GEO Members,

We have a contract! All of the ballots have been tallied and 98% of GEO members voted to approve the contract. This means the strike is over and that we can all return to work.

Once the new contract has been properly formatted we will send out the full document and post it on the GEO website.

As part of the new contract, the bargaining team created a plan for how to make up hours lost due to striking. Please contact your immediate supervisor to create a plan for making up lost hours. If your work was scabbed, you may not be able to make up lost hours. Make up hours must be completed before March 30, 2018. Please contact the GEO if you have any questions or concerns!

Congratulations on a successful strike, everyone! Thank you for all of your hard work.

In Solidarity,
Graduate Employees’ Organization
809 S. 5th St., Geneva Room
Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: 217-344-8283

Top photo by Megan Flowers.

Can you guess how many people have ridden the MTD since 1971? Hint: it’s a lot

CUMTD tweeted out a pretty crazy statistic yesterday.

Take a look:

That's a lot of people using mass transit in CU. They have kept track of annual ridership dating back to 1938. Here are the stats they provided:



Champaign Surplus closing Downtown location; will open new location this Spring

303 S. Neil Street has been home to Champaign Surplus for the last 35 years, and the store has announced that they will be leaving that location for a new home this Spring. You can see all the information below from their press release, but they're holding a liquidation sale that will begin February 1st.

From the press release:

Champaign Surplus Begins New Era, Closing Downtown Doors After 70 Years

CHAMPAIGN, IL — Champaign Surplus, Champaign-Urbana’s largest locally owned and operated outdoor store, announced yesterday that it will be closing the downtown Champaign location they have occupied for the past 35 years, and will be opening a new Champaign location later this Spring. The closing will be preceded by an “End of an Era” Liquidation Sale set to begin on Thursday, February 1.

In 2017, Champaign Surplus was awarded “Most Innovative Retailer” by the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance — the nation’s premiere organization of independent outdoor stores and partner industry vendors. This honor came after the launch and rapid year-over-year growth of a successful e-commerce site,, and the implementation of an automatic price matching program in the brick-and-mortar store.

Champaign Surplus made the decision to innovate further by announcing plans to open a new retail concept. Details of this move are still being finalized, and an announcement about the store’s reopening is expected soon.

In a letter to their customers, Dan & Shira said: 

“We are in a unique position to once again transform our business to meet the needs of the current retail environment and best serve our customers and community… Rest assured our new store will be true to our heritage while evolving the concept of what an outdoor store can be.”

The End of an Era Liquidation Sale will start on February 1st at 9am with the entire store marked down 20, 30, 40 and 50% off. The doors will close for good at the 303 S. Neil St. location once the inventory is gone and the sale has concluded. Current gift cards and customer store credits will be honored during the sale, and in the new location.

Shira Epstein commented: 

“We did not make this decision lightly. It been especially emotional for me. I grew up in this business, and that meant being a part of downtown Champaign — even when we were one of only a handful of businesses to remain downtown prior to its resurgence. Our current building has been my home away from home since I was 10 years old. But, I also know that our current plan is going to be a great new era for our business and Champaign-Urbana; and for providing our special brand of the ­­personalized, quality shopping experience. Our customers and local lovers of the outdoors can look forward to a cool new space, similar product mix, and some innovative uses of technology to enhance our specialty outdoor products and customer service.”

Dan Epstein said: 

“The ownership of our business is not changing, and we are certainly not going out of business. We are still the locally owned and operated family business our community has loved and supported over the decades. We are committed to Champaign, and while the decision to leave our current location was not easy, we are excited that our plans will better suit how people like to shop today. While there are many negative headlines swirling around retail of late, our specific market for outdoor and travel gear, fashion apparel, outerwear and footwear is very strong. We are making this move to further highlight our business and connect with more people in our community.”

Founded in 1947 by Leo & Anne Weisel after the end of World War II, Champaign Surplus began as an appliance and Army-Navy Surplus store at 115 S. Neil St. in downtown Champaign. With the addition of camping equipment, workwear and outdoor apparel, the store moved around the corner to 40 E. University Ave. in 1966.

In 1981, Leo & Anne’s daughter and son-in-law, Lynn and Ira Wachtel, purchased the business and became 2nd generation owners. While surplus merchandise remained the store’s roots and important part of the business model, the outdoor side of the business became the store’s passion. By 1983, Champaign Surplus had outgrown its second location, and needed to move to its current, 20,000 square foot location at 303 S. Neil St. in downtown Champaign. The larger building provided much needed space for wide-ranging products that were rising in popularity during that decade.

In 2010, Ira & Lynn’s daughter and son-in-law, Shira and Dan Epstein, took over the business and became the 3rd generation family owners of the enterprise. Dan, whose career had been in finance and accounting, and Shira, whose career had been in graphic design and marketing, revamped the branding of the store, made adjustments to the shopping environment and product mix, and launched an e-commerce site. Over the last 8 years, the store has evolved to focus on outerwear, footwear, travel necessities, and quality fashion and outdoor gear. Champaign Surplus continues to be a pinnacle dealer for top-tier outdoor brands. 

The Champaign Surplus End of an Era Liquidation Sale begins February 1st at 9am, with every item in their stock marked down up to 50%. The sale will conclude once the inventory is gone, and announcements about the new location and reopening will be forthcoming.

Top photo from Champaign Surplus' Facebook page.


Polyvinyl Records has signed Pedro the Lion

Yesterday, Polyvinyl Records posted a mysterious teaser video across their social media platforms. I was curious, like other humans.

They've announced that they've signed Pedro the Lion to the label — David Bazan's longtime project that is performing and touring in 2018. Pedro the Lion is managed by Bob Andrews of Undertow, which is based here in Champaign-Urbana as well.

Pedro the Lion's last record came out in 2004, Achilles Heel. Bazan's solo career has been ongoing, and he's performed a handful of times in C-U over the years. Pedro the Lion has a pretty extensive tour lined up in 2018, so all of this is good news for our pals at Polyvinyl and Undertow.

Here's the press release from PV:

Pedro the Lion signs to Polyvinyl Record Co.

The band begins recording their new album today and catch them on tour throughout North America in the coming months!

Today is the first day back in the studio as Pedro the Lion. After writing and arranging a handful of new songs, then rehearsing and arranging them further with the band, we're ready to record a couple of them for a new album. I didn’t realize what calling my music Pedro the Lion again would mean to me, but it’s re-connected me to parts of myself and my history (both sonic and personal) that I had lost touch with. This re-awakening is making the process so much more enjoyable and I’m grateful for the chance to do this again.

As a music fan I’ve watched Polyvinyl thrive in a brutal marketplace and grow their seminal roster to include even more bands that I’m downright obsessed with. As a cog in the music business I’ve gotten to know and appreciate their inner workings gradually through mutual friends and colleagues over many years of visiting their offices in Champaign, Illinois. So when looking for a record label for Pedro the Lion I realized pretty quickly that Polyvinyl was a fantastic fit. I am so thrilled to be working with them.

- David Bazan


Jon Seydl named as new Director of Krannert Art Museum

From the press release:

Jon Seydl Named as New Director of Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Jon Seydl, an art historian specializing in Italian Renaissance art, has been named the new director of Krannert Art Museum.

Jon Seydl is currently the senior director of collections and programs and curator of European art at Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts. His appointment at Krannert Art Museum will be effective in February, pending approval of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

“I've known about KAM's work for a long time, and I'm very proud to join such a great institution,” Seydl said. “KAM's commitment to research, its outstanding curators and nationally recognized exhibition program, the museum’s wonderful team and fine collection are what drew me to this role. As a European specialist, I have long admired its works of international importance – paintings by Murillo and Lancret, for example, and its African collections are particularly renowned.”

“As a curator, Jon Seydl brings a deep knowledge about artwork that forms a large portion of the collection. That knowledge, and his excitement about curation, education, collection management and public engagement will make him an excellent director,” said Julia Nucci Kelly, the museum’s communications and marketing coordinator.

Seydl began work in 2014 at the Worcester Art Museum, where he was the lead curator for several exhibitions. He was responsible for the acquisition of Otto Dix’s “Pregnant Woman” and Miguel Cabrera’s “The Virgin of Guadalupe.”

Seydl coordinated a revamped exhibition program at Worcester Art Museum; launched an initiative to present the museum’s entire collection online, adding more than 25,000 records in two years; and developed a systematic approach to curatorial collecting. He also served as liaison for academic programs to 12 colleges and universities.

“Seydl expressed an eagerness to continue developing a range of exhibition and educational programs that forge connections between the campus, the museum, and its diverse publics. He sees that the museum has a key civic role to play as a bridge between the university and the community at large,” said Allyson Purpura, the senior curator and curator of Global African Art at Krannert Art Museum.

Prior to joining Worcester Art Museum, Seydl served as the curator of European painting and sculpture at the Cleveland Museum of Art from 2007-2013. He was lead curator of “The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection,” for which he was awarded the Outstanding Catalogue Essay Prize in 2013 from the Association of Art Museum Curators.

Seydl held positions as associate curator and assistant curator of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. His experience also includes work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and at the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was also a 2014 fellow of the Center for Curatorial Leadership.

Seydl earned his Ph.D. in art history in 2003 from the University of Pennsylvania, with Italian art from 1585-1815 as his field of study. He holds a master’s degree in art history from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in art history from Yale University.

He has taught at Case Western Reserve University, the University of Southern California and the University of Pennsylvania.

Seydl will be the ninth director of the museum. He succeeds Kathleen Harleman, who was the museum’s director from 2004 to 2017, as well as acting dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts from September 2015 until her retirement in August 2017.

Especially committed to issues of equity and inclusion, Harleman promoted the acquisition of works from underrepresented groups, including women artists and artists of color. Among her many achievements, Harleman led the museum on a redesign of its African Gallery, an award-winning installation that informed the aesthetic signature for subsequent gallery renovations. She also oversaw multi-year initiatives to develop educational outreach to area public schools, provide online access to the art collection, and create interdisciplinary collaborations across campus.

Top photo courtesy of Krannert Art Museum.


Suburban Express issues apology for being assholes

Suburban Express is trying to save any sort of skin they have in the game after the recent extremely racist promotional email they sent out a handful of days ago. The story has gone far beyond this community, making headlines in places they shouldn't be for these reasons.

Apparently, they are very sorry for being racists and xenophobes, and have issued a statement, which if I had to guess, was not written by Dennis Toeppen, but someone trained to help save face while receiving legal action against the company.

Here's the post embedded:

Though, they still seem to believe that anyone that is arguing or commenting against what they believe to be true to be wrong, thus deleting commments on their Facebook page. I am thoroughly enjoying this post, which has a lovely title of: "Cheaters":