Charles N. Wheeler III

The director of the Public Affairs Reporting (PAR) graduate program is Professor Charles N. Wheeler III,  a veteran newsman who came to the University of Illinois at Springfield following a 24-year career at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Wheeler covered state government and politics for the Sun-Times since 1970, when he covered the Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention. For the last 19 years of his Sun-Times tenure, Wheeler was assigned to the newspaper’s Statehouse bureau. During that time, he was elected to 16 consecutive one-year terms as president of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association and served for many years on the PAR program and admissions committees.

Since 1984, he has written a monthly column for Illinois Issues magazine, which has won five Capitolbeat awards for magazine commentary/analysis. In 2006, the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association inducted him into The Lincoln League of Journalists, which honors men and women who have provided exemplary service to other journalists and to daily newspapers published in Illinois. In 2013, he was chosen as the Journalist of the Year by the Journalism Department at Eastern Illinois University.  He is also a regular on the panel for State Week, WUIS' weekly political analysis program that airs on public radio stations across Illinois.

Before joining the Sun-Times in 1969, Wheeler served more than three years as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Panama. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University, Winona, MN, majoring in English, and received a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Wheeler draws on the talents of many UIS faculty with expertise in such fields as public budgeting, political science, and communication, as well as professional journalists and state officials, to present students with a well-rounded program to bridge the academic and professional areas.

This week, major-party candidates Governor Bruce Rauner and his Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker engaged in their second televised debate, which excluded the other two candidates on the ballot.

WBEZ Public Radio's Dave McKinney joins the panel.

Gov. Bruce Rauner attempts to reset his campaign with a speech to a small group of supporters. Will it be enough to overcome the 14 percentage points that separate the Republican incumbent from his Democratic opponent, J.B. Pritzker?

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Democratic nominee for governor J.B. Pritzker and incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner haven’t taken a break from campaigning since winning their respective primaries last week. Pritzker won in a landslide, while Rauner squeaked by his opponent. Mary Hansen talked with Charlie Wheeler, who says the tight race was no surprise.

Charlie Wheeler is the director of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois Springfield. 

Commentary: Insights from the 2018 primary election

"Is this embattled Republican governor toast?" -- Natasha Korecki, Politico

"Is Gov. Bruce Rauner a lame duck limping?" -- Chuck Sweeny, Rockford Register Star

BRIAN MACKEY / NPR ILLINOIS - TAXREBATE.ORG.UK / CC BY 2.0 / A DERIVATIVE OF “MAGNIFIER GLASS AND MONEY” / PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY CARTER STALEY / NPR ILLINOIS

Commentary: Expanded economic interest disclosures would lead to more accountability

Making resolutions for a new year is a popular tradition, and better late than never is a familiar expression. With that in mind, here’s a suggestion for Illinois lawmakers as they return Springfield four weeks into the new year:

Commentary: Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Madigan fixation may reflect how little the governor has to show for his first three years in office.

*Editor's Note: This piece was published prior to Gov. Bruce Rauner's announcement he signed House Bill 40, the abortion bill. 

Commentary: A capital bill; spending cuts; a veto of the abortion bill? A look at some pending questions for the fall legislative session. 

When Illinois lawmakers return for their fall session next month, they, and by extension, taxpayers, will face tantalizing questions.

Could a reborn Mushroom Caucus be the key to breaking the political impasse that has the financial health of Illinois at death’s doorstep?

Louder outcry from voters may be what will be the trick to produce movement from the governor and House speaker

Commentary: The time has come to stop talking about a  'truly balanced budget'

“Let’s get a truly balanced budget ... ”  Gov. Bruce Rauner and his aides, in various venues on numerous occasions, 2015-present.

Not to downplay the governor’s mantra, but what exactly is a “truly balanced budget?” 

There are reasons for legalizing industrial hemp.

Might pot and ditch weed help ease the state's financial crisis and boost its farm economy?

There are serious consequences under Gov, Bruce Rauner's tax proposal.

Democrats prevailed in statewide races, but couldn't hold on to seats in southern Illinois. Meanwhile, suburban Republicans may hold less sway in the party's legislative caucus.

A proposed amendment to the state’s constitution would protect money set aside for transportation projects. Supporters say the change is needed because money that's supposed to be earmarked for building roads has gone to other expenses over the years. But the amendment could allow some of those practices to continue, while endangering other popular programs. 

Illinois political leaders’ performance on the budget is reminiscent of the losingest team in modern baseball. 

Commentary — Might we be seeing light at the end of the tunnel? Or is it the headlamps of the ongoing train wreck that is Illinois, picking up speed? Such questions came to mind listening to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address last week.

The Illinois Constitution turns 45 on December 15. As the document reaches its birthday, Charlie Wheeler looks at the ways it modernized government. 

The constitutional requirement for a balanced budget is not as strict as you might think.