Statehouse

Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon April 1, 2013

State of the State: Report Gives Insight Into Role of Remap in Election Results

Jamey Dunn
Credit mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois Democrats controlled both chambers of the General Assembly and the governor’s office when it came time to redraw the state’s congressional districts in 2011. The resulting map painted the state’s congressional delegation in blue. However, in most other states where lawmakers played a role in redistricting, the results were decidedly redder. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon April 1, 2013

End and Means: Legislature Should Work Smart, Not Just Hard, on the Pension Fix

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

For someone with a penchant for stream-of-consciousness speechmaking, Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget address last month was notable for its laser-like focus on the need to address the state’s mounting pension debt, now approaching $100 billion.

The oft-repeated theme: Ever-mounting pension obligations are crowding out funding for education and other core services.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Charging Ahead: Illinois is the Launch Pad for the Nation's 'Battery Moonshot'

Venkat Srinivasan is a researcher for the U.S. Battery and Energy Storage Hub based at Argonne National Lab.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Venkat Srinivasan has a relatively short list of requirements when shopping for a car. With a young baby at home, safety is important. “My wife is very clear,” he says. “We want to have a car where I can put my baby in the center seat in the back.” He also needs a fair amount of trunk space for all the baby gear. But what Srinivasan really wants is an environmentally friendly, plug-in hybrid. And that has been a problem.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Editor's Note: Oral History Project Saves Key Illinoisans' Memories

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

“People assume, because I was so sort of early in all this, that I was heavily discriminated against — and I probably was — but I’d always claim I was too dumb to realize that I was being discriminated against.”

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri March 1, 2013

State of the State: Rating Agency That Downgraded Illinois Whacked with Lawsuit

Jamey Dunn
Credit mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

McGraw-Hill, the parent company of the world’s largest credit rating agency, Standard and Poor’s, was slapped with lower bond ratings than the state of Illinois in February. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri March 1, 2013

End and Means: Gov. Quinn's Speech Didn't Avoid Pension Subject

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Listening to lawmakers’ reaction and reading the pundits’ commentary after Gov. Pat Quinn delivered his State of the State speech a few weeks ago was even more entertaining than the governor’s 38-minute performance.

A random sampling, with sources not identified to spare any potential embarrassment:

Quinn “made a campaign speech,” complained various lawmakers, most but not all of them Republicans.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention: Verbatim Transcript of July 21, 1970

PRESIDENT WITWER: Thank you. Did you have a question, Mr. Green? Mr. Green?

MR. GREEN: Well, you previously wanted to do that section 16 before. 

PRESIDENT WITWER: I beg your pardon?

MR. GREEN: Do you want to do it, or we can wait until then. 

PRESIDENT WITWER: Mr. Lewis, section 16 is a new section? What is the wish of the committee?

MR. GREEN: It’s up to the Chair. We don’t care, Mr. President. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Tracking Sex Offenders: IL Doesn't Fully Comply with Federal Rules on Registering Sex Offenders

Adam Walsh
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

In 2005, Joseph Duncan tied up Brenda Groene, her 13-year-old son, Slade Groene, and her husband, Mark McKenzie, and beat them to death with a hammer in the family’s home in Idaho. Duncan kidnapped Brenda’s 8-year-old daughter, Shasta Groene, and 9-year-old son, Dylan Groene. He took them to remote campgrounds in Montana and over several weeks, he sexually assaulted both children and eventually murdered Dylan. Shasta survived the ordeal after a waitress at an Idaho Denny’s restaurant recognized her and called the police. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Lessons from the Cave: Future Campaigns at All Levels are Sure to Tap Into Obama-Style Analytics

While he waited for the concession call from Mitt Romney, the president worked on his acceptance speech with Jon Favreau, director of speechwriting, and campaign adviser David Axelrod at a Chicago hotel.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Collin Corbett is a Republican whose job it is to elect Republicans. His company in Chicago’s northern suburbs, Cor Strategies, has worked with presidential contender Mitt Romney, gubernatorial hopeful Sen. Bill Brady and dozens of lesser-known politicians vying for offices such as city council or circuit clerk. 

After President Barack Obama won re-election in November, Corbett says his Republican clients immediately wanted to copy the Democrat’s campaign tactics, especially when it came to technology. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

A Dilution of Power? Advocates Say Revision of District Map Failed to Represent Latino Population

Before 2010, Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood was split into five state House districts and three Senate districts.
Credit Ashlee Rezin / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Latinos added more than a half-million people to the state of Illinois in the last decade, becoming the state’s second-largest ethnic/racial group.

But the increase from 12 percent of Illinois’ population in 2000 to 16 percent in 2010 was not adequately reflected in the state’s most recent drawing of its legislative map, some Latino advocates say.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Editor's Note: Con-Con Members Argued Over Pension Protection

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly continue to search for a way to reduce the state’s nearly $97 billion public pension liability by changing the benefits of current state employees, teachers, university workers, legislators and, perhaps, judges.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

State of the State: Same-Sex Marriage Cases Are Moving Through the Courts

Jamey Dunn
Credit mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

During the legislature’s lame-duck session in January, an Illinois Senate committee approved a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage, but it lacked the support to pass in the full Senate. Similar legislation was not called for a vote in the House. Just days later, at the beginning of the new legislative session, Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Greg Harris introduced new bills in their respective chambers to end the ban on same-sex marriage. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2013

End and Means: General Assembly Ends its Term Quietly

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

This is the way the 97th General Assembly ended — not with a bang but a whimper. (With apologies to T.S. Eliot.)

When the outgoing legislature quit for good on January 8, its list of unfinished business was considerable, topped by its inability to agree on anything to help restore fiscal stability to the state’s retirement systems.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2013

What Do Women, Sportsmen, & Downstaters Have in Common?

Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang, a Democrat from Skokie, chairs the Asian-American caucus.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Democrats' new super-majorities promise to enhance the power of individual caucuses.

In the frenzied final hours of the 2005 spring session of the Illinois General Assembly, the push to finalize a new state budget suddenly ground to a halt when a bloc of Democratic lawmakers announced they couldn't support the spending plan.

Without their votes, there was no way the Democratic majority could adopt a budget without Republican input, raising speculation that the session could go into overtime.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2013

Tammy Duckworth: The First Asian-American Woman to Serve Illinois in Congress

Tammy Duckworth
Credit defense.gov

The election in Illinois’ 8th Congressional District was defined by personalities, by national ideological and demographic trends and by political realities specific to Illinois. In one corner, Hoffman Estates Democrat Tammy Duckworth, born in Thailand, became another data point in a sweeping national victory for Democrats and the progressive left. In the other, Republican Joe Walsh, the incumbent and an outspoken member of the Tea Party wave that took the House in 2010, became another casualty in a Congress that will be less male and Caucasian than any before.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2013

Rural 911: EMS May be a Necessary Service in Illinois, but That Does Not Guarantee Such Services

Dr. John Warner Hospital in Clinton stopped dispatching ambulances at the end of 2012.

“The hospital decided to get out of the ambulance business because we were losing just under $600,000 a year on the operation,” says Earl Sheehy, chief executive officer of the city-owned medical facility. “It was difficult. There were a lot of emotions involved and all that.” But he says the hospital could no longer bear the financial drain. “The community can have a better ambulance service, and the hospital can be stronger without having to sustain the ambulance service.”

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2013

Editor's Note: Lame-Duck Legislators Are No Longer Accountable to Voters

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gay marriage. Gambling expansion. State employee pension reform. Medical marijuana. Forcing some businesses to disclose tax breaks. Driving privileges for undocumented immigrants. Keeping open prisons and mental health and developmental centers. Implementing federal health care expansion.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2013

State of the State: 'Least Popular' Governor Tag Doesn't Tell Whole Quinn Story

Jamey Dunn
Credit mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

In late November, Gov. Pat Quinn was dubbed with the infamous title of the least popular governor in America.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2013

End and Means: Neophyte Lawmakers Face a Bunch of Tough Issues

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

When the 98th Illinois General Assembly takes office in a few days, almost one out of every five lawmakers will be a newcomer with no previous legislative experience, the largest batch of rookies in more than a decade.

So many new faces — 11 in the Senate and 22 in the House — might be expected in the aftermath of the first election following redistricting, when candidates for all 177 legislative seats are running under a new map. Ten years ago, 32 newcomers were sworn into office in the wake of the 2001 remap and the 2002 election.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu November 1, 2012

Illinois' Bond Ratings: A Look at the 3 Credit Rating Agencies' Bond Rating of Illinois Since 1990

  Guide to bond ratings

To show the relative standing of a bond within each category, Moody’s assigns a number of 1 through 3, with 1 being the highest and 3 being the lowest. S&P uses + and – signs.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu November 1, 2012

The Rating Agencies

The three credit-rating agencies operate worldwide, measuring the credit-worthiness of government and corporate bonds. Their methods for rating bonds are slightly different. Moody's ratings consider the expected losses in case a company or government defaults. Standard & Poor's and Fitch look at how likely it is that a default will occur.

Read more
Statehouse
12:00 am
Thu November 1, 2012

A City's Sorrow: Chicago on Pace to Finish 2012 with More Homicides Than Any Other City in the U.S.

Heaven Sutton and her mother, Ashake Banks
Credit Cook County Sheriff's Department

It felt like summer in Chicago, but it was barely spring. In mid-March — a time of year when the highs are usually in the upper 40s — temperatures hit the 80s on eight days during one nine-day stretch. And in some parts of the city, bullets began flying.

Day after day, headlines delivered the grim news: “1 dead as shootings erupt around city”; “Chicago shootings leave 7 dead, 33 hurt”; “CHICAGO COP SHOT”; “Shooting death of girl, 6, marks lethal weekend. ‘She didn’t deserve this,’ mother says”; “49 people are shot citywide, 10 fatally.”

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu November 1, 2012

What's a Bond Rating Worth?

At the very least, downgrades lead to negative press; at the worst, taxpayers pay a price.

When it comes to Illinois’ bond rating, what’s past is prologue.

Joan Walters was director of the Bureau of the Budget under Republican Gov. Jim Edgar, whose administration is fondly thought of by some at the Statehouse as the last truly fiscally responsible gubernatorial administration. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu November 1, 2012

Big Theft, Little City: Dixon's Former Comptroller Accused of Stealing $53 Million

Former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell with one of her horses.
Credit American Quarter Horse Association

Even the most optimistic citizens of Dixon don’t think they’re ever going to get their $53 million back.

At this point, they just hope they’ll at least get their pound of flesh. 

“The citizens are anxious to see what kind of sentence she gets” if she’s convicted, says Mayor Jim Burke, referring to his city’s former comptroller, Rita Crundwell. “There isn’t a day that goes by when someone doesn’t call and say, ‘If she gets off with a slap on the wrist ...’”

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu November 1, 2012

The Preview: Important Issues Loom as Lawmakers Prepare for Veto Session

The Illinois Senate in session.
Credit Jamey Dunn / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Legislative sessions scheduled after a general election but before a new General Assembly is sworn in are historically a time when things get done. 

Recently in such sessions, Illinois lawmakers approved civil unions for same-sex couples, abolished the death penalty and passed the only income tax increase the state has seen in 20 years. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu November 1, 2012

Editor's Note: Scholars Weigh in on Whether Chicagoland Deserves its Reputation of Corruption

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Chicago area is the most corrupt region in the nation, according to a research paper presented at a recent statewide ethics conference, and Illinois is the third most corrupt state.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu November 1, 2012

State of the State: Major Issues Emerge from the Wings After the Election

Jamey Dunn
Credit mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Now that the election is over, several movements advocating for major changes in the state are gaining momentum. Same-sex marriage

After three states approved same-sex marriage in November’s general election, gay rights advocates in Illinois say it may be the right time to pass a bill legalizing same sex marriage in the state.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu November 1, 2012

End and Means: Democrat's Election Wins Make Illinois History

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Unprecedented.

An often overused term, prone  to hyperbole, but a spot-on summary of last month's votes  for the 98th General Assembly, for never before in Illinois history has one political party captured veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers in the same general election.

Democrats did so, winning 40 Senate seats — the party's most ever — and 71 House seats, leaving shell-shocked Republicans to wonder if anyone caught the number of the bus that hit them.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Hidden Horror Stories: Newspaper Probe Sheds Light on the Deaths of 53 Disabled Adults

Margie Wade in an undated photograph
Credit Belleville News-Democrat

Since 2003, the deaths of 53 disabled adults were reported to, but not investigated by, the Illinois Department of Human Services - until a newspaper probe shed light on those stories.

 Margie Wade was trapped. She was too weak to move. Even to close her eyes.

The 59-year-old disabled woman, critically ill from severe diabetes, lay unconscious; face down on a plastic mattress cover that adhered to her body so tightly it would have to be cut away. She wore only a shirt.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Does Welfare to Work, Work? Assistance to Needy Families Program was Slow to Respond to Recession

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

When Illinois passed legislation in 1997 to help implement the federal overhaul of the welfare system, then-state Sen. Barack Obama voiced concerns about poor residents falling through the cracks.

Read more

Pages