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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun April 1, 2012

State of the State: State's Eavesdropping Laws Have Failed to Keep Up

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

Anytime something interesting happens in public these days, you can expect that a few bystanders might whip out their phones and take pictures. Some might even shoot a little video to later upload to YouTube or post on a Facebook page. 

In recent years, some Illinoisans have learned the hard way that recording a police officer on duty without permission carries a heavy penalty under the state’s eavesdropping law. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Concealed Carry: llinois May No Longer be the Last State to Oppose Concealed Firearms in Public

A dozen people, including a 10-year-old girl, were wounded in 11 separate shootings that occurred in a single weekend in late January.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

Illinois is the last state in the nation that does not allow concealed firearms in public places, but gun rights advocates say concealed carry will come to the state, one way or another. 

Illinois lawmakers who support concealed carry have been working for years to rally support by offering multiple bills and tinkering with everything from the list of public places where gun owners would be barred from bringing weapons to where and how such a law would apply. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Tough Guy: The Chicago-Based U.S. Attorney Hasn't Shied Away from a Storm

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

On the snowiest day of the year in February 2011 — when 60 mph winds hurled more than a foot of snow on Chicago, stranding drivers and paralyzing the city — U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald decided it would be a nice night for a run.

Intrigued by the extreme conditions, Fitzgerald wanted to feel the full force of the blizzard raging outside his home in Chicago. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Unintended Consequences: Illinois Delegates May Still be a Prize Worth Having

Wherever you start the selection of an American president, it’s going to be a big story with lots of reporters blowing it out of proportion — coverage that then has an impact on subsequent contests in the race.

Nowhere does the law of unintended consequences work better than in politics. The coming Illinois presidential primary on March 20 provides an example. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Editor's Note: We Want to Hear from Our Readers

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

If you subscribe to Illinois Issues, you may already have received — or soon will — a readership survey from us. And if you’re a reader but not a subscriber, we want to hear from you, too.

We do know that you’re busy, but we’d greatly appreciate it if you’d take a little bit of time to let us know what you think — good or bad — about the magazine. We hope your thoughts about what we offer now and some of the recent changes we’ve made will help us hone in on where you’d like to see us go in the future.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu March 1, 2012

State of the State: Backlog of Unpaid Bills Vexes Legislators Again This Fiscal Year

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

About this time two years ago, I was working on one of my first big assignments for this magazine after I had come aboard as Capitol bureau chief. The article was on the state’s backlog of unpaid bills. At the time, the total of overdue payments to schools, universities and the state’s vendors was $3.5 billion. The oldest bills had sat unpaid for six months. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu March 1, 2012

End and Means: Nearly 80 Legislative Candidates Have No Competition

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Might they be amenable to casting politically difficult votes on contentious issues such as budget cuts or Medicaid and pension reforms if legislative leaders and Gov. Pat Quinn can hammer out compromises?

Conventional wisdom would suggest that the first election following legislative redistricting would offer voters a wide array of choices, as veteran lawmakers retire and droves of ambitious wannabes scramble to capture voters’ allegiance in newly minted districts.

But conventional wisdom would be wrong, at least for the 2012 election season.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed February 1, 2012

Mendoza's Chicago: The City Has a New Clerk, and She's Not a 'Go-Along, Get-Along' Politician

Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Before they were sworn in to their respective offices last year, newly elected Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza showed up with gifts to a meeting with Rahm Emanuel, prompting the empty-handed mayor-elect to say, ‘I feel like such an a--hole I didn’t get you anything; I feel terrible.’”

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed February 1, 2012

Mendoza's Chicago: The City Has a New Clerk, and She's Not a 'Go-Along, Get-Along' Politician

Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Before they were sworn in to their respective offices last year, newly elected Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza showed up with gifts to a meeting with Rahm Emanuel, prompting the empty-handed mayor-elect to say, ‘I feel like such an a--hole I didn’t get you anything; I feel terrible.’”

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed February 1, 2012

Redistricted: Democrats Hope in This Election to Make the Most of Their Mapmaking Victory

Few Illinois campaign watchers — including Republicans — dispute the conventional political wisdom that the GOP could have a tough election year in 2012 because of new political maps. 

When GOP state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington lost his race for governor in 2010, Republicans knew they had tough years ahead. Brady’s loss meant Democrats — who already controlled the state House and Senate — won exclusive control of mapmaking powers for legislative districts. And despite their objections and lawsuits, the GOP didn’t expect to be shown much mercy. 

They weren’t.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed February 1, 2012

Baseball and Ballots: The Nation's Pastime and Politics Intermingled in 1860

On July 25, 1860, members of the Excelsior Base Ball Club met on their baseball grounds in Chicago to settle a political argument. The purpose of the meeting was a baseball game between players who supported the presidential candidacy of Abraham Lincoln and those who supported Stephen A. Douglas. Mostly in their 20s, the club’s players represented an upwardly mobile group of young Chicago residents who hoped to channel their energy and enthusiasm for the coming presidential election through their athletic prowess on the baseball field. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed February 1, 2012

Editor's Note: Reports Provide A Glimpse of Richest and Poorest Illinoisans

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Much has been written — and chanted and shouted — about the growing disparity between those whose incomes rise to the top 1 percent and the rest of us. Also often-chronicled during this economic downturn is the increasing number whose incomes fall below the federal poverty level. Two recent studies provide some striking insights into those opposite ends of the economic ladder.

 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed February 1, 2012

State of the State: Settlement Points to Minorities as Targets for Subprime Loans

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

A recent federal settlement on discriminatory lending practices was the biggest of its kind to date and speaks to a larger issue within the foreclosure crisis: the targeting of minority communities for risky subprime loans. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed February 1, 2012

End and Means: Illinois is Not as Bad Off as it Might Seem

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

As Gov. Pat Quinn readies the FY 2013 state budget he is to unveil in a few weeks, the conventional wisdom seems to be that Illinois is in really bad shape, a financial basket case about ready to go belly up.

The lamentations are led by the usual suspects, Republicans trying to gain partisan advantage for this year's elections and hyperventilating editorial writers who need to stop, take a deep breath and get a grip on reality.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun January 1, 2012

A Year of Quinn: The Governor Still Struggles to Artfully Wield the Power of His Office

Governor Pat Quinn
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Known throughout his career as a populist outsider, Pat Quinn, the political bomb thrower turned governor, has worked with the legislature since his ascension in 2009 to keep the state’s fiscal house from going up in flames. With one year under his belt as elected governor, Quinn is still struggling to craft a coherent message and artfully wield the power of the office. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun January 1, 2012

Three in One: The University of Illinois Takes A United Front in its Approach for the Future

University of Illinois President Michael Hogan served in the same capacity at the University of Connecticut.
Credit University of Illinois

One of its three campuses is just four decades old and aspires to be no less than a premier small, public university. The 5,000-student school in the state’s capital excels at online education and public affairs offerings, among other programs. 

Another is among the top-funded research institutions in the country, but also educates one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation just outside the heart of downtown Chicago. It boasts the country’s largest medical school.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun January 1, 2012

Editor's Note: Gridlock Stops Progress at State and Federal Levels

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Now is the time when many publications proclaim their choices for “___ of the Year.” My pick for the 2011 word of the year is “gridlock.”

 

Gridlock is no longer just what motorists experience at rush hour; it’s also the inability of the federal and state governments to initiate potential solutions to the most critical problems of the day.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun January 1, 2012

State of the State: Gov. Quinn Takes a Pass on Early Prison Release Plan

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

Instead of using what arguably was the biggest scandal during his time in office as a chance to reform a broken system, Gov. Pat Quinn stuck his head in the sand as Illinois’ prison population reached an all-time high. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun January 1, 2012

End and Means: The Question of Whether Illinois Should Elect Judges is Timely

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Has the time come for Illinois to reconsider the manner in which it selects its judges?

The question seems timely: A campaign finance reform task force is weighing public financing for judicial elections, in part to counter a generally held public view that campaign contributions affect courtroom decisions. Meanwhile, dozens of candidates for judicial posts — from the Illinois Supreme Court to circuit court — are scurrying to raise money for next year’s primary and general elections. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu December 1, 2011

Editor's Note: Group Seeks to Map Out a Plan to 'Restore' Illinois

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

“We’ve got to get money out of politics! This is intolerable!” insists a government reform advocate seated with about 30 others around a square configuration of tables in a 37th floor conference room in a Chicago high-rise. Another man exhorts, “We need to be a strong countervailing force to the status quo!” A woman across the room later declares, “People in the system trying to help the public can’t get the information they need!”

 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu December 1, 2011

End and Means: It's Time for Illinois to Borrow Money From Willing Lenders

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Since the outgoing General Assembly increased personal and corporate income tax rates in January, lawmakers have been at great pains to show how business-friendly they really are.

In the spring session, for example, the legislature approved a compromise workers’ compensation measure that sponsors said would save business up to $700 million, mostly by reducing payments to doctors and hospitals that treat injured workers.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue November 1, 2011

The Movement: The Tea Party, Which Began in Chicago, Wants to Stir Up Springfield

St. Louis Tea Party co-founder Dana Loesch and commentators Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart appeared at the Midwest Tea Party Convention — TeaCon — in Schaumburg this fall.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

To many Tea Party leaders in Illinois, state government needs more people like Arie Friedman. 

A pediatrician from Highland Park, Friedman first entered politics just two years ago to protest the passage of President Barack Obama’s federal health care law. Friedman is a business owner, a Navy veteran, a conservative and a candidate for the Illinois Senate. He says he does not need a job as a career politician — joining the state Senate likely would mean a pay cut — and he has no plans to do it forever. Most of all, though, Friedman is fed up with how the state is being run.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue November 1, 2011

Editor's Note: Despite Restrictions, Cell Phones Are Still A Danger on Highways

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

I’ll admit to a bit of a libertarian streak. I want the government to protect me from some things, such as terrorists, robbers and greedy investment bankers, but I’m not so sure when it wants to protect me from myself, such as requiring the use of seatbelts. So, as cell phones increased in popularity over the past two decades, I’ve been skeptical of attempts to limit or prohibit their use.

 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue November 1, 2011

State of the State: Closing Hundreds of Pools in Illinois May Save Lives

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

Hundreds of public swimming pools across the state were closed this fall when the Illinois Department of Public Health cracked down on pools that didn’t comply with state and federal regulations. 

According to the department about 85 percent of public pools comply with the 2007 Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. However, about 500 pools were shut down October 1 for noncompliance. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue November 1, 2011

End and Means: Overcrowded and Understaffed, Illinois Prisons Are in Crisis

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

The litany was depressingly familiar: overcrowded, understaffed, with limited access to medical and psychiatric treatment, rehabilitative services, education and jobs for inmates.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat October 1, 2011

Point/Counterpoint - Two Sides of the Pension Debate: llinois Policy Institute

Marc Levine
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

In February, Illinois borrowed $3.8 billion and paid a higher interest rate spread than any of the other 49 states. This means the financial markets believe that Illinois is the state most likely to default on its obligations.

In light of the state’s diverse economy and general obligation debt levels, this default risk is entirely explained by Illinois’ insolvent state pension system. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat October 1, 2011

Point/Counterpoint - Two Sides of the Pension Debate: Illinois Education Association

Cinda Klickna
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

With Illinois facing financial trouble and staring at a pension bill that has gone unpaid for decades, public employee pensions are under a microscope.

There have been calls for pension benefit reductions for active participants in the five state retirement systems. Members of the Illinois Education Association belong to the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) and the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). (Unlike TRS and SURS, IMRF is not a state-funded plan.)

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat October 1, 2011

Unions vs. Government: Situation Complicates Already Strained Relationship Between Unions & States

  When Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s Hardball needed a guest early this year to express progressive outrage at the treatment of Wisconsin’s public-sector union workers, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn was a natural choice.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat October 1, 2011

Up Next: How Will Lawmakers Handle Gov. Pat Quinn's Objections to Major Pieces of Legislation?

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

When lawmakers return to the Statehouse later this month for their fall veto session, they will have to decide — among other things — if they want to try to find ways to appease Gov. Pat Quinn, agree with his objections to several major pieces of legislation or override his vetoes and move ahead with plans that would change the landscape of two major industries in Illinois. Lawmakers also have to decide if they are willing to make budget changes Quinn says are needed to avoid the closure of seven state facilities and more than 1,900 layoffs. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat October 1, 2011

Two Sides of the Pension Debate

Illinois Education Association by Cinda Klickna

Illinois Policy Institute by Marc Levine

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