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The entrance to the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus is seen in 2007.

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Legislation seeks to separate SIU campuses after failed funding shift

CARBONDALE — Shortly after the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees voted down a proposal to shift $5.1 million in state appropriation funding from Carbondale to Edwardsville on Thursday, SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook sent out a message to his campus community.

“We recognize that SIUC has its budget challenges, but those challenges should not impede the progress of SIUE which depends, in part, on an equitable distribution of the state allocation. The time has come for SIUE to capitalize upon its strengths and potential to create a new era, something that has been recognized by our legislators,” Pembrook wrote.

Pembrook announced that State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, would be introducing legislation to separate the two sister campuses, and that the measure would “shift the current allocation conversation from the SIU Board of Trustees to the Illinois legislature.”

Filed Thursday, HB5861 seeks to abolish the SIU Board of Trustees and calls for new boards to be appointed to each campus. The separation would be effective July 1, according to the document.

Pembrook’s message and the introduction of the legislation reveal long-simmering frustrations over how Edwardsville has been treated by the SIU system.

As Carbondale’s enrollment falls, SIUE’s is steadily increasing: In fall 2017, SIUE had 13,796 students, while SIUC had 14,554. Pembrook said early projections indicate that enrollment lines will cross this fall.

During the state budget impasse last year, Carbondale was so cash-strapped that it had to borrow $35 million from its sister campus — a favor that Edwardsville has not forgotten.

At the board meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, Edwardsville faculty and staff spoke about the challenges of meeting the demands of recent growth with a modest budget.

Hoffman introduced similar bills to split the SIU system in 2003 and 2013, and Rep. Thomas Holbrook, D-Belleville, pushed such legislation in 2005.

Hoffman said he filed the bill this week because he believes SIUC and SIUE have two different missions.

“It seems that if you were simply to have separate boards that could focus on the needs and the strengths of each individual campus, it would make more sense and they would both flourish,” Hoffman said.

He said he wants both universities to be successful, and that Carbondale is important to the downstate region.

“The polarization of the board, I think, is extremely unfortunate, and traditionally the board has been able to look past that and look at the entire system, and to me, that cries out for some change,” Hoffman said.

The proposal would include the School of Law as part of the Carbondale university, but it designates the School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, School of Pharmacy, School of Nursing and the East St. Louis Center as part of SIUE.

The School of Medicine, located in Springfield, has traditionally been affiliated with the Carbondale campus.

“Edwardsville has the School of Nursing, it has the pharmacy school, it has the dental school, and it makes sense to have health sciences under one umbrella,” Hoffman explained.

SIU System President Randy Dunn was not available for comment Friday. John Charles, Dunn’s spokesman and the director of government and public affairs with the SIU System, said in an email that system staff will be analyzing the legislation.

“We're aware that several bills have been filed affecting the organization and operations of the SIU System and the possible appointment a new SIU System Board of Trustees,” Charles wrote in an email. “Over the next few days, staff from the system will be analyzing these proposals to determine their impact. Once we have an idea of their full measure and scope, we will be able to provide information and a response to the university community and to the public.”

“There are incredible strengths to being part of a system,” SIUC Chancellor Montemagno said of the proposed separation in an emailed statement. “Together we serve more than 28,000 students, which gives us a greater footprint to serve the southern part of Illinois and adds to the power of our voice in Springfield. A number of complex factors would need to be studied carefully before we could determine the full impact of a separation of the system.”

Reached by phone on Friday, State Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, said of Hoffman’s proposal, “Its ugly head resurfaces every so many years.”

She said the SIU system functions at its best when all of its campuses are healthy.

“For one thing, Edwardsville is in the Metro East. They are increasing their student enrollment. But they do not hold the Carnegie designation that allows them to be a research university. So in this case, it’s great for the system that at Edwardsville enrollment is going up. It’s great that Carbondale has that designation because it’s not transferrable to the other campus. So if for some reason you separated the two, Edwardsville would not be as healthy or have the same draw to students because that research designation is very important,” Bryant said.

State Senator Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, said he also opposes the bill.

"Such a proposal should be the culmination of a thorough evaluation of what will allow both universities to maximize their potential, not a response to a rushed, controversial Board of Trustees vote,” Schimpf said in a statement. “At this time, I believe both universities are better positioned to compete in an increasingly difficult higher education environment when they remain part of a combined system."

A separate piece of legislation, House Bill 5860, filed Thursday by Rep. Monica Bristow, D-Alton, seeks to reconstitute the SIU Board of Trustees. It would require three of the governor's seven board appointees to hold a degree from SIUE, and three to hold a degree from SIUC. One governor-appointed trustee must not have attended SIU at all. It also seeks to change the voting student member of the board to an additional nonvoting student trustee.

Dunn plans to hire an external consultant in the coming months to develop a new funding formula based on enrollment.

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Illinois 200: 'Whisky alone' thwarted plan to steal Lincoln’s body

Editor’s note: The weekly Illinois Bicentennial series is brought to you by the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors and Illinois Press Association. More than 20 newspapers are creating stories about the state’s history, places and key moments in advance of the Bicentennial on Dec. 3, 2018. Stories published up to this date can be found at This article originally appeared in the July 3, 2016, edition of The (Springfield) State Journal-Register.


It was July 3, 1876 — the eve of our country’s first centennial. Everyone in Springfield would be celebrating downtown. No one would be near Oak Ridge Cemetery.

It was the perfect time to steal Abraham Lincoln’s body.

The incredulous plot was hatched by Midwestern counterfeiters who had been shut down when their expert bill engraver was jailed. Benjamin Boyd’s bills were the best in the Midwest, possibly the country. In 1875, he was captured in Fulton, found guilty, and sent to the Joliet penitentiary for 10 years. Without his plates, the criminals who made and passed the counterfeit bills were out of business. They had to spring their money man.

“Big Jim” Kennally, a St. Louis Irishman who led Midwestern counterfeiters, according to Thomas J. Craughwell’s book, “Stealing Lincoln’s Body,” brainstormed a solution. They would snatch Lincoln’s body, bury it in the Indiana Dunes, then ransom it for $200,000 and Boyd’s pardon and freedom.

His minions in Lincoln moved to Springfield to implement the plan. As a front, they opened a saloon and dance hall — just a block west of the current Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. When the criminals weren’t running the saloon, they posed as tourists to case Lincoln’s tomb.

With their preparations finished around the middle of June, the Logan County boys relaxed. They spent the night at a Springfield brothel and toasted their upcoming riches. In his well-oiled state, the gang’s leader boasted to one of the ladies that they were going to steal “old Lincoln’s bones” and ransom them. He even told her when.

She told the chief of police, who warned John Carroll Power, the tomb’s custodian. He told the Lincoln Monument Association, local friends and peers of Lincoln’s who were in charge of the tomb. They did nothing. In a book he wrote about the crime (“History of an Attempt ... ”), Power explains: “It seemed to them so incredible that no attention was given to it.”

When the Logan County leader sobered and realized what he’d done, he and his gang fled. “Whisky alone is entitled to the credit of having thwarted this well laid scheme,” wrote Power.

A few months later, Kennally headed for Chicago to find new partners for his plot. He was part-owner of a bar there called “The Hub,” which had little to offer except booze and boodle (counterfeit) carriers. Here, Kennally proposed his idea to co-proprietor, Terrence Mullen and Jack Hughes. They liked what they heard.

Illinois 200: Lincoln’s Tomb a place to honor revered 16th president

The final resting place of Abraham Lincoln attracts everyone from schoolchildren to tourists to prayer groups. While children in particular may be attracted to the large bronze bust of Lincoln and want to be part of the tradition of rubbing his nose for luck, those who come are there to pay their respects to a man revered by many.

The duo needed more men for the job, so they approached Lewis Swegles, a horse thief who had become a frequent customer. Unbeknownst to them, he also was a spy. The assistant chief of the Secret Service in Chicago, Patrick Tyrrell, hired Swegles to hang around The Hub and inform him of the habitue’s criminal activities.

As the would-be kidnappers honed their plan, Swegles told Tyrrell every detail. Tyrrell then told Lincoln’s oldest and only surviving son, Robert, a Chicago attorney. The detective asked Robert to let the plot proceed so he could catch the kidnappers in the act and increase their chance of conviction. Robert agreed.

Mullen and his boys selected Nov. 7, election night, as the date. The presidential contest between Democrat Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was heated, and once again, Springfield residents would be downtown celebrating and waiting for the results. No one would be near Oak Ridge Cemetery.

On Nov. 6, the counterfeiters caught a train to Springfield. In the back car, Tyrrell, other detectives and a Chicago Daily Tribune reporter were tailing them.

Once in Springfield, some of the gang procured tools, while the others visited the tomb, acting as tourists, to determine how to break in. They only had to break a door’s padlock to reach Lincoln’s white marble sarcophagus. Swegles later said, as reported in the Nov. 20, 1876, Illinois State Journal, that while his cohorts were able counterfeiters, they had few skills for burglary, especially when it came to picking the right tools.

That night, Tyrrell and his detectives got to the tomb first. They hid inside and waited. Mullen and his gang snuck up to the monument and began sawing the metal padlock on the door to the catacomb. They’d brought a flimsy metal saw for the job, and it broke. So they used a three-sided metal file, which took half an hour, according to Craughwell.

Once inside, the kidnappers opened the sarcophagus lid with a crowbar and sawed through the container’s front to reach Lincoln’s coffin. They pulled it out about a foot, but it was too heavy. Mullen told Swegles to get help. Instead, the informant signaled the detectives that it was time to raid the operation.

The agents dashed from their hide-out toward the catacomb at the other end of the tomb. In the excitement, one accidentally shot his gun. Frightened, the kidnappers fled. When the agents got to the sarcophagus, all that was left were the criminals’ misfit tools.

The agents spread out to catch the would-be thieves. Tyrrell ran to the tomb’s roof where he spied a couple of men and shot at them. They returned fire. When Tyrell called for backup, one figure called out: “Tyrrell, is that you?!” One of the Secret Service’s best detectives had been shooting at his own men.

Stupidly, the kidnappers ran right back to The Hub. Tyrrell arrested Mullen and Hughes there on Nov. 17. They were tried the following May. Since grave robbing wasn’t a crime, the worst the two could be charged with was petty theft, for trying to steal Lincoln’s $75 coffin. They were convicted and sent to Joliet, the same penitentiary from which they had tried to spring their engraver, Benjamin Boyd.

After their arrest, Charles Conant, the acting secretary of the U.S. Treasury, asked Robert Lincoln to pay for an attorney to prosecute charges against the counterfeiters, and to pay Swegles and another witness a per diem to make sure they stayed in the capital city until the trial. Lincoln agreed, but it appears he was stiffed. According to an article by Lincoln historian James Hickey in the Feb. 11-17, 1982, Illinois Times, despite Robert’s many attempts to get his money back, there are no records that the feds ever paid it.

When initial reports of the attempted kidnapping were printed, many people, even detectives and other newspaper editors, thought it was a hoax. The crime was too sacrilegious to be believed.

Once verified, it was blamed on lots of people other than the real culprits. Some thought Democrats did it, others blamed it on vengeful former Confederates. In Illinois, Chicagoans thought it was a ruse planned by one of the detectives to help him win election for chief of police.

A few days after the attempted theft, Power and some of Lincoln’s friends moved the president’s coffin to the tomb’s earthen floored basement, for its safety. It was moved several more times until 1901. Then, per Robert’s request, it was buried 10 feet beneath the catacomb in an enclosure of concrete and steel.


Students walk along a path on the campus at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

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Census data suggests Illinois population decline could lose us a congressional seat

DECATUR — The mass of people leaving Illinois could soon add up to another loss — one of the state’s 18 seats in Congress.

The exodus dropped Illinois from the fifth-most populated state to the sixth in December, based on U.S. Census data showing that 33,703 moved out between July 2016 and July 2017.

Combined with growth in the southern and western parts of the country, that makes Illinois one of nine states tracking to give up a seat after the 2020 census, according to a December study by Virginia-based Election Data Services.

There’s an outside chance the state could even lose two congressional seats.

If that happens, experts say downstate will almost certainly feel the brunt. Eliminating even one district means that others will be drawn larger to compensate, making it harder for representatives to advocate for their constituents.


Glenn Poshard

Take it from Glenn Poshard, a Democrat who represented the 22nd Congressional District before it was redrawn to remove two seats after the 1990 census. Poshard wound up representing a 35-county area that stretched from the Illinois-Kentucky border to just north of Decatur.

“We prioritized two things from each county that really needed our attention, but that might end up becoming 40 different things that you need to work on,” said Poshard, who was president of Southern Illinois University from 2006 to 2014. “You dilute your energy, you dilute your ability to get all of those things done, and it just really becomes … the larger the district, the less able you are to affect each part of the district.”

Population losses downstate a factor

The U.S. Constitution requires legislative and congressional boundaries to be redrawn every decade. The process in Illinois is dictated by the party in power, which some critics have said allows parties to manipulate boundaries to remain in control.

Two cases challenging the partisan process are being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Last month, the high court denied a request by Pennsylvania Republicans to stop the application of new congressional districts prior to the 2018 midterms

Other states that analysts say could lose a seat after the next census are Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. States expected to gain a district are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas.

In Illinois, the challenge for those drawing the maps is which parts of downstate get hurt the most, said Bob Bradley, professor emeritus of political science at Illinois State University.

He noted that some downstate districts are already massive. The 15th Congressional District sprawls nearly 15,000 square miles from the southernmost part of the state up to Danville and north of Champaign-Urbana. It’s possible that the comparatively smaller 13th Congressional District, which spans nearly 5,800 square miles through all or parts of Decatur, Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington-Normal, could be among those consolidated into other districts.

Why should downstate come out behind? It’s not because of any bad blood with Chicago, said Kent Redfield, a retired political science professor from University of Illinois Springfield. It’s just where the most people are leaving.

Data shows that most of the population loss since 2010 has come from downstate. Since 2010, Southern Illinois has lost 8,437 residents, a 2.9 percent decrease in population, based on analysis of U.S. Census data for the state’s 13 southernmost counties.

Only the Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana and Chicago metro areas have gained population in the past seven years. Nearly 90 percent of the growth occurred in the Chicago area.

Forty-seven percent of Illinois residents surveyed by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute in October 2016 said they would like to move, with taxes being the biggest reason they want to leave.

Losing a downstate congressional district would mean one fewer voice to push for region-specific issues such as agriculture and manufacturing. “It’s not good news for downstate,” Redfield said.

At its peak from the 1910s to the 1940s, Illinois had 27 seats in Congress. That number has declined every decade, with the exception of the 1970s when it stayed at 24 seats, as western states have grown.

Losing a congressional district means the state as a whole will have less influence on federal issues, Poshard said.

During his tenure, Poshard met monthly with other Illinois representatives from both parties to talk about the larger issues facing the state and how the delegation could work together, he said. With 20 or more members, Illinois lawmakers could have greater influence when it came to getting bills through committee and onto the floor.

Yet the decades-long trend has not only lessened that influence, but Poshard said it has allowed the larger states such as Texas or California to control the legislative process.

“The larger states are going to gain that influence, and we’ll lose it,” Poshard said. “We lose the ability to put the weight of the entire delegation behind a certain issue affecting the entire state.”

Even today, in the age of 24-hour news and partisan bickering, the Illinois delegation still meets to find common ground on policies that can help the state, said Rep. Rodney Davis, the Taylorville Republican who won the 13th Congressional District after it was redrawn in 2012.

A longtime aide of Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, Davis said he worries the continued loss of representatives in Washington, D.C., will weaken Illinois’ position at the federal level.

“We can use our numbers to influence policy, and that’s Republicans and Democrats coming together,” Davis said.

He added those policies include ways to retain and drive up the state’s population, which in turn will help Illinois gain more federal funds, more influence during presidential elections with the electoral college votes and possibly gain more congressional seats in the future.

One factor that could also shape Illinois’ congressional future is whether the 2020 census will ask respondents if they are U.S. citizens.

The U.S. Commerce Department announced in late March the question would be included at the request of the Justice Department.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined attorneys general from 16 other states, the District of Columbia and six cities in filing a suit to block the citizenship question. They say the question will impair the main goal of the census: to count all of the people in the country.

Both candidates to replace Madigan, Republican Erika Harold and Democrat Kwame Raoul, are opposed to the question being asked on the upcoming census.


John Jackson, a visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, said the citizenship question would have a “double-barrel” negative impact on the state throughout the 2020s.

In addition to cutting the state out of millions of federal dollars contributed to states by population, Jackson said it would surely guarantee that Illinois will only have 16 seats in Congress come 2022.

“It will push us over to lose two seats, I don’t think there is any doubt about that,” he said.

Davis is skeptical of that claim. The way he sees it, the question is merely for the census to get a better understanding of each state’s population.

“Those are things,” he said, “that local officials, census officials, are going to do everything they can to make sure they have the most accurate, full count they can.”

Lawmakers seek more parity in decisions

As the time to redraw the district boundaries grows nearer, some advocates are pushing for an Illinois constitutional amendment to change how legislative districts are created in the state.

Redistricting advocates have asked lawmakers to consider their proposed Fair Maps Amendment that would form a 16-member independent commission to draw new districts. The commission would consist of seven Democrats, seven Republicans and two independents chosen by the state Supreme Court.

The proposed legislation is sponsored by Republican Rep. Ryan Spain of Peoria and two Democratic senators, Julie Morrison of Deerfield and Heather Steans of Chicago. Supporters are working to get the issue on the November ballot.

Other redistricting petitions failed to make the ballot in 2014 and 2016.

The Illinois Redistricting Collaborative, which is leading reform efforts, said more than 560,000 Illinoisans signed petitions to get the measure on the 2016 ballot. Both GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker told the organization that they would veto a gerrymandered map.

Rauner is campaigning for re-election on a platform that includes criticism of longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, the chairman of the state Democratic Party who wields power in shaping the boundaries.

"One thing we're going to get done is redistricting after the 2020 census and we can't let Madigan gerrymander the districts,” he said during a campaign stop in Moline last month.

Pritzker in a Redistricting Collaborative survey said a nonpartisan commission should be determining the lines.

“The body designated to carry out this function should represent the gender, racial, and geographic diversity of the state,” he said.

Simon Institute report: Redistricting driven by politics

The major drivers of Illinois’ process of redistricting for the state legislature and the U.S. House are partisanship and incumbency, says a new review paper released by the Southern Illinois University Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

A Paul Simon Institute survey said 72 percent of Illinoisans support an independent commission to draw Illinois' district lines.

Poshard said the influence of Illinois is on the line.

“If we lose one of two seats, it makes the work of the delegation for the entirety of Illinois so much less,” he said. “Those larger states are going to take that influence.”

— Janis Esch of The Southern contributed to this report.