Statehouse

Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu January 1, 2009

Ends and Means: Pat Quinn as Governor Sounds Pretty Good Now

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Pat Quinn, governor of Illinois.

Thirty years ago, the notion that the gadfly populist someday would be the state’s chief executive was laughable.

Traipsing around the state back then on a quixotic mission to change Illinois politics, Quinn was viewed widely as a burr under the saddle of the powers-that-be, but certainly not a serious prospect for high office.

Even after his 1990 election as state treasurer, political insiders still saw Quinn as the quintessential outsider, disliked by many for his role in cutting the size of the Illinois House by one-third.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat November 1, 2008

Going for the Gold: Chicago Olympics Being Sold as a Lucrative Opportunity, but Some Are Concerned

A shining Olympic Stadium with masses of travelers streaming into it. Urban renewal on a grand scale. Increased commerce and resulting tax bumps for government coffers. Those are among the benefits the Chicago region stands to gain if the city hosts the 2016 Summer Games — or at least that’s what boosters promise as a special committee puts the final touches on a secretive, competitive bid that is due in February.

Read more
Statehouse
12:00 am
Sat November 1, 2008

Power of the Podium: The Next Senate President Will Face High Expectations

Senate President Emil Jones Jr. is retiring.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

Voters will have cast their choice for U.S. president by November 4, but one more president must be elected in Illinois. The general public won’t have a say in this one, however. 

It’s solely internal, as Illinois Senate Democrats will pick a new presiding officer to replace outgoing President Emil Jones Jr., who will retire in January. His son, Emil Jones III, will fill his Senate seat, but the race to replace him at the helm of the chamber is exposing a lengthy list of candidates.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat November 1, 2008

Roads to Nowhere: Illinois Hasn't Cashed in on Federal Clout to Collect its Highway Funds

The signing of the federal government’s 2005 transportation bill was practically a showcase of Illinois’ political clout on Capitol Hill. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat November 1, 2008

Editor's Note: Negative Campaigning Makes it Hard to Put Faith in Either Candidate

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Not long ago, I was complaining to a friend and colleague about a previous political campaign. “Why does it have to be so incredibly negative?” I grumbled. His simple reply: “It works.”

My friend, one of the better-known political writers in the state, is a pragmatist. He wasn’t endorsing the tactic; just stating a fact.

Well, it doesn’t work for me. After months of following the backs-and-forths of this year’s presidential campaign like a political tennis match, I am so sick of the negativity — from both camps — that I’m ready to check “None of the above” on the ballot.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat November 1, 2008

State of the State: New Option for Electricity if Customers Understand & Trust 'New Middleman'

Bethany Jaeger
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Two government employees ate lunch at Joe’s Place in rural Fulton County nearly two years ago. Their conversation spurred what is now the first-of-its kind option for Illinois electricity customers, a direct result of the state’s recently deregulated power industry.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat November 1, 2008

Ends and Means: Illinois , Like States Across the Nation, Faces a Tight Revenue Squeeze

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

A few weeks ago, Congress and the George W. Bush administration cobbled together a $700 billion rescue plan for Wall Street, in hopes of avoiding economic catastrophe for Main Street.

Too bad the plan’s architects didn’t worry about Capitol Avenue and Statehouse Square as well, as state governments from California to Rhode Island struggle with sagging revenue growth that is jeopardizing their ability to provide needed services.

Noted Stateline.org, a nonprofit, nonpartisan online news site last month:

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2008

Home State Advantage? An Obama Presidency Could Send Clout Back to the Land of Lincoln

U.S. Sen. John McCain

Now that the Land of Lincoln — and Grant and Reagan — faces the possibility of another Illinois resident moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C., many Illinoisans want to know what a Barack Obama presidency would mean for his home state.

There is, of course, the obvious: Fellow Illinoisans would follow Obama to the White House to serve as advisers and aides; the nation would take a closer look at Illinois politics; and a presidential library eventually would draw tourists and academics after Obama left office. 
 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2008

Congressional Call: Illinois Contests May Help to Reshape the U.S. House

Democratic congressional candidate Dan Seals from Wilmette and U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Highland Park running for re-election
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

In the race for the 10th U.S. House District, which stretches from northern Cook County through the North Shore, Democrat Dan Seals is trying once again to unseat incumbent Republican Mark Kirk.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2008

Target Time: The Illinois GOP Hopes to Close the Gap on Democratic Legislative Majorities

Democrats who control state government have left the state budget in disarray. They’ve failed to come together on a major public works plan that would put thousands of people to work. They’ve openly talked about impeaching their own governor.

With these examples of discord, you’d think Republicans would be poised to make significant gains in the Illinois General Assembly this November.

Think again.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2008

Question & Answer: Constitutional Convention

Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

In Illinois, the very first question on the ballot November 4 — even before the question of who shall be president — will ask voters whether Illinois should open up the state Constitution for a potential rewrite.

It’s a choice voters might not get for another 20 years.

The last time they saw that question on the ballot was in 1988, when they rejected the idea by a 3-to-1 margin, with 900,109 voting in favor of a convention and 2,727,144 voting against it. But 1 million other voters skipped the question entirely.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2008

Editor's Note: Statehouse Press Corps Keeps Dwindling

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

There are a lot more vacant offices and empty desks in the Illinois Capitol Press Room than there used to be. That may be good news for politicians and state government administrators who don’t welcome media scrutiny. It’s bad news for the rest of us.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2008

Ends and Means: This Time Around, Voters Are Unaware of the Con-Con Referendum

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

As a news writing exercise, Advanced Public Affairs Reporting students at the University of Illinois at Springfield set out last month to discover what area folks thought about holding a constitutional convention to revise — or rewrite entirely — the state’s 1970 charter.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon September 1, 2008

On Deck: Who'll Step Up to the Plate as the State's Next Political Leaders?

Democrats
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

As Rod Blagojevich proved, political farm teams — where future leaders grow while they await their shot at the big leagues — can comprise little-known rookies who soar to prominence quickly and unexpectedly. In 2002 when he ran for governor, then-U.S. Rep. Blagojevich was familiar to residents of the 5th Congressional District on Chicago’s northwest side. But few outside his district knew him or had even heard of him.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon September 1, 2008

Why Organize? - From the Archives: Problems and Promise in the Inner City

Barack Obama in February 2007 as he announces his intention to run for president
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Editor’s note: Barack Obama wrote this article for Illinois Issues in 1988, while he was a community organizer in Chicago. It later became part of a book, After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois, published by Illinois Issues in 1990. We are republishing it this month to show, in his own words, some of the Democratic presidential candidate’s earliest influences in Illinois.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon September 1, 2008

Editor's Note: For Leadership Advice, We Might Look to the Bulldog

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

It’s increasingly obvious that Illinois suffers from a crisis of leadership. With the last governor in prison, the current one under federal investigation and the three most powerful elected officials mired in political mud, Illinoisans have no one to look to for hope that we can overcome our state’s financial and social troubles.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon September 1, 2008

State of the State: Legislators Have a Starting Point, but They Must Carry Through on Compromise

Bethany Jaeger
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

A 16-year-old Rochester student tailed Gov. Rod Blagojevich with a video recorder as they walked into the State Fair last month. Surrounded by a group of news reporters, Aaron Mulvey didn’t hesitate to call out his question.

“Mr. Governor, I’m a junior at Rochester High School, and I’m still wondering: Three years ago you came to our school and told us we were getting our money. I’m just wondering where it is. We’re still on the top of that list.”

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon September 1, 2008

Ends and Means: How Far Can the Governor Go in Rewriting Legislation?

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

When Gov. Rod Blagojevich unveiled his “Rewrite To Do Right” campaign last month, the temptation was to see the governor’s latest public relations brainchild as just another way of sticking a finger into House Speaker Michael Madigan’s eye.

Blagojevich promised to issue amendatory vetoes to 50 pending bills “to make them better” and force lawmakers to accept ideas that didn’t make it through the normal legislative process.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue July 1, 2008

Obituary: Former University President Durwood Long Dies

The third president of then-Sangamon State University, who helped found what is now the Center for State Policy and Leadership in 1989, died Saturday, May 31. 

Barbara Ferrara, associate director of the center at what is now the University of Illinois at Springfield, says Durward Long's vision for the school helped elevate its standards. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue July 1, 2008

Ends and Means: When it Comes to Pay-to-Play Measure, Blagojevich Should Accept Good Enough

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

best is the enemy of the good. Many years ago, a wily legislative veteran shared that venerable wisdom with a rookie reporter, trying to explain why an admittedly flawed piece of legislation still merited passage.

More than three decades of watching state government convinced the cub — now a grizzled columnist — that the old-timer was right.

His insight comes to mind now, listening to Gov. Rod Blagojevich promising to “improve” the most significant campaign finance reform measure ever to clear the Illinois General Assembly.

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun June 1, 2008

Question & Answer: Kent Redfield

Kent Redfield
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

In the past decade, Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, has become widely known because broadcast and print reporters across Illinois, and occasionally the nation, sought out his wisdom as a political pundit — especially when Sen. Barack Obama mounted his presidential bid. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun June 1, 2008

A Thriving Press: Mainstream Media Suffer from Dwindling Circulation, IL Ethnic Publications Growing

Don Tagala is a news correspondent for Balitang America, a U.S.-based network for ABS-CBN International in the Philippines.
Credit Community Media Workshop

As owner and publisher of a print media enterprise, Zeke Montes reviews daily reports on circulation, ad sales and company growth. They're ominous numbers for most media executives, foretelling industrywide change that includes cutbacks, layoffs and mergers. 

But Montes, a self-starter with no formal journalism training who began publishing the infotainment guide Teleguía de Chicago out of the second story of a Berwyn home 23 years ago, isn't like most media types. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun June 1, 2008

Editor's Note: Illinoisans have a Moral Responsibility and Reason for Concern

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

This month, we report on two issues that should make us ashamed as Illinoisans. 

One article illustrates a situation we have a moral obligation to remedy; the other points to a practice that time and again has proved to be irresponsible — and too often criminal. 

On page 16, Statehouse bureau chief Bethany Jaeger writes about how human services always end up last in line for state funding, especially during tight budget years. And on page 24, my Q&A with political scientist Kent Redfield focuses on Illinois' anything-goes system of financing election campaigns. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun June 1, 2008

State of the State: Gun Control Gets Spotlight in an Election Year, Legislation Rarely Advances

Bethany Jaeger
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Twenty-four Chicago Public Schools students died from gun violence in between January and April. That equals the total number killed throughout the entire previous school year. 

Chicago legislators passionately urge their peers from across the state to approve stronger gun control measures, but the debate typically triggers emotional responses about such issues as race, culture and, most of all, politics. 

While valid, the arguments often are formulaic, the vote usually predictable. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun June 1, 2008

Ends and Means: Report on Children Offers Illinois a Ray of Sunshine

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Is the glass half full or half empty? In Illinois these days, the optimist might be tempted to say that while the glass is still half full, it's also leaking its noisome contents through that crack down its side. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu May 1, 2008

Arterial Obstruction: The Challenge of Designing & Funding Statewide Capital Plan Gets Harder

Traffic often backs up over a Fox River bridge that ends at a congested intersection in downtown Algonquin, located in McHenry County.
Credit Randy Carson

McHenry County drivers can sit in waves of traffic that stretch nearly two miles to cross the Fox River in Algonquin. The bridge at Illinois Route 62 intersects with Route 31, creating daily traffic congestion. 

"We're approaching 40,000 vehicles a day," says Algonquin's village president, John Schmitt. "It's just an astronomical amount, and when you have it on a traffic light, it just doubles the amount of time that it takes to get through there." 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu May 1, 2008

Editor's Note: Few Places Have More Maps Than the Illinois State Library

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Lost? Can't seem to find your way? 

I know I often can't. The genetic strand that governs my sense of direction must be frayed. It seems I'm always heading right when I should go left. I've turned more U's than Vanna White. 

That's why I've always been fascinated by maps. They're often the only way I can navigate from place to place. I devour 'em like cheap novels. 

And I recently learned that few places have more maps than the Illinois State Library. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu May 1, 2008

State of the State: Legislature and the Governor Continue Feud While Taxpayers Pay the Courts Costs

Bethany Jaeger
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Rod Blagojevich repeatedly demonstrates that he'll do whatever it takes to expand health care to as many Illinoisans as possible. But because relationships between the governor and the legislators are "frosty," as House Minority Leader Tom Cross says, the governor is left with trying to force issues rather than negotiate them in the legislative process. As a result, taxpayers are footing some of the bill for court costs. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu May 1, 2008

Ends and Means: Should the Constitution be Amended to Account for Governor Who is Viewed Unfavorably

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Take a deep breath and count to 10. Illinoisans would do well to keep that axiom in mind as they ponder whether the state Constitution should be changed to allow disgruntled voters to oust elected officials. 

Sparked by widespread dissatisfaction with Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a proposal to add recall powers to the Constitution is under consideration in the General Assembly. 

Read more
Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue April 1, 2008

Immigrant Friendly: On Immigration, Illinois is at the Forefront in Bucking a National Trend

Illinois lawmakers took on the federal government over its handling of immigration enforcement last spring, and nobody at the Capitol made much of a fuss.

Unions and advocates for day laborers came up with the idea, but even the Illinois Chamber of Commerce was on board. The legislation they supported would bar Illinois businesses from using a federal database called E-Verify to check the legal status of new hires, unless the feds showed the database was at least 99 percent accurate.

Read more

Pages