Statehouse

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. 

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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. 

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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.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue April 1, 2008

Electronic Democracy: Bloggers Have Become a Growing Part of the Political Process

 

Readers can’t “refresh” this page 20 times a day to see the latest information. And they can’t touch an underlined word to skip to another page to read a supporting document, hear an interview or see a photo.

Print media are losing committed readers to the more immediate, interactive and free news bits available from computers or handheld devices.

The multitasking readers who thrive on multimedia have developed a habit ­of accessing the “blogosphere” — the electronic abyss of personal Web sites — as part of their daily routines.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue April 1, 2008

Breaking the Mold: Aaron Schock Is a Fresh Face, But Is He the New Face of the IL Republican Party?

 

Aaron Schock, veteran of five political campaigns by age 26, wears Italian suits by Ermengildo Zegna and drinks Starbucks. He talks about his party’s need to make strong appeals to African-American voters, and he walks the walk by going into his area’s black churches to sell his message. He carries endorsements of several unions despite being a Republican representing a heavily Democratic legislative district based in Peoria. 

Even some of his political opponents seem to admire his political talent.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue April 1, 2008

Editor's Note: A Teacher's Praise Can Shape a Student's Future

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

Our editorial offices are in a flat-roofed, one-story building tucked away on the far east side of the campus of the University of Illinois at Springfield. Though one colleague described it as a “temporary 30-year-old structure,” it serves our needs just fine.

It also houses various other university departments, such as human resources, the campus ethics office, a survey research unit, the international students program, services for the disabled and a counseling center.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue April 1, 2008

Ends and Means: The Grim Fact is This State is Flat-Out Broke

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

As Illinois lawmakers return from spring break for what everyone fervently hopes will be the last two months of the legislative session, one grim fact overshadows all others: The state is flat-out broke. No, even worse, it’s plunged deep in debt, the result of years of living beyond its means.

Consider a smattering of news items that appeared before the General Assembly left Springfield in mid-March:

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat March 1, 2008

Lost Opportunities: An Inability to Work Together Has Stymied Democratic Attempts to Create Change

 

On January 8, 2007, Gov. Rod Blagojevich stood in a packed Springfield convention center before a frenzied crowd of supporters celebrating his second inaugural and surveyed what must have looked like a cloudless political horizon.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat March 1, 2008

Unsettled Debate:Doctors & Lawyers Wait for IL Supreme Court to Decide if Reforms are Constitutional

 

 

Before state reforms in 2005, Dr. Richard Byrne considered leaving Chicago 's Rush University Medical Center to practice brain surgery in another state.

He says he didn’t think Illinois’ medical malpractice environment was likely to improve. He refers to rising medical liability insurance rates that peaked in 2003 and 2004. Physician groups called it a crisis. 

Brain surgeons were particularly hard-hit by the increasing cost of monthly premiums because everything they do or don’t do carries a risk for patients, Byrne says. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat March 1, 2008

Wanna be a Judge?: It's Not Always What They Know That Gets Candidates on the Ballot

 

 

Well, on the bright side of Illinois’ judicial elections, the big-business-funded American Tort Reform Association has dropped downstate Madison County from its list of “Judicial Hellholes.”

New Democratic Chief Judge Ann Callis, who the Illinois Civil Justice League — the complainers-in-chief about Madison County’s courts — says has cleaned up those courts, received a standing ovation at the league’s annual banquet.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat March 1, 2008

Editor's Note: Diversity of Candidates May be Behind Bigger Turnouts

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

Did you ever walk into a gathering — at a restaurant, maybe, or a party or a nightclub — where nobody there looked like you? Maybe their skin was a different hue. Maybe they were of the opposite gender. Perhaps they were much younger — or older.

Chances are, you became uncomfortable. You might even have left.

But if at least some faces in the crowd looked like yours, chances are you walked right in. And if they were participating in a mutual activity, you probably joined in.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat March 1, 2008

State of the State: New Americans Could Become New Voters if They Can Earn Citizenship First

Bethany Jaeger
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

 

The Latino vote in last month’s primary elections emphasizes that now is the time for immigration services to be in full force.  

But the naturalization process takes months, potentially preventing those who apply now from voting in the fall.

In Illinois’ primary election last month, Latinos made up 17 percent of the votes cast. But there are about 1.9 million Latino residents in this state, and about 708,000 of them are eligible voters, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat March 1, 2008

End and Means: Has There Been a Tectonic Shift in Regional Party Strength in Illinois?

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

Was it a fluke? A one-time phenomenon triggered by a charismatic favorite son?

Or do the results of last month’s primary election signal a tectonic shift in regional party strength in Illinois?

Certainly no one was surprised that U.S. Sen. Barack Obama easily outpolled U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic presidential contest. After all, hadn’t party leaders intentionally engineered the primary vote six weeks earlier than usual, just to boost Obama’s national fortunes?

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2008

Collective Action: As Unions Gain Power in IL's Public Sector, They Face Toughest Battle Yet

 

Technology and globalization changed the face of organized labor in Illinois. For 20 years, power has shifted from unions in the private sector to those in the public arena.

Flora Johnson represents the newest wave of collective action. She is a public employee represented by a union that's become the top political campaign donor of Illinois' two-term governor.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2008

Smoke-Free: Restaurant Revenue Isn't Adversely Affected in Smoke-Free Communities

 

 

Sue Shaw, the owner of the Cottage Inn, a small tavern in a spot of unincorporated Sangamon County surrounded by Springfield, has been sharing a bleak message with her fellow bar owners across Illinois about the statewide indoor smoking ban, which went into effect January 1.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2008

Moment of Frivolity?: Is Government a Suitable Entity to Compel Contemplation?

 

In 1870, Illinois' wise heads gathered to draw up a new and better state Constitution. One of the ways it might be better, argued one delegate, was for Bible-reading to be required in the public’s schools. He explained that the Bible — by which he meant the Christian Bible, that is the Christian Protestant Bible, and of course the King James version of the Christian Protestant Bible — was the only book that explained why the world was as it is. Such was its wisdom that it even explained that part of the world that since 1818 had called itself Illinois. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2008

Editor's Note: A Lifelong Newspaperman Finally Fulfills His Magazine Dream

Dana Heupel
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

When I entered journalism school back in the 1970s, my intent was to work for a magazine. After all, they were everywhere in our home while I was growing up: LifeLookRedbookTimeField & StreamGuideposts.

And later, away at college, Rolling StoneThe New YorkerThe Atlantic Monthly — even a publication notorious for its photographs that nobody really read only for the articles.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2008

State of the State: The Governor Will Renew His Push for Health Care Only to be Rechallenged

Bethany Jaeger
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

  To his credit, the governor also is a big thinker with a team of creative policy advisers.

But charm and ingenuity don't bode well with Illinois legislators cast aside as obstructionists. There's no better example than Blagojevich's marquee effort to expand state-sponsored health care, first to all children and now to adults.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri February 1, 2008

Ends and Means: Ilinois Experiences a Collective Sense of Deja Vu

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

It's déjà vu all over again. Illinoisans can be forgiven if Yogi Berra's celebrated observation comes to mind as the public corruption trial draws near of Antoin "Tony" Rezko, formerly one of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's top fundraisers and key advisers.

Rezko was indicted in October 2006 on 24 counts of using his insider role to extort kickbacks and campaign contributions in return for state contracts and investment business, as part of Operation Board Games, a federal investigation into corruption involving state regulatory and investment panels.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2008

Black & Blue: IL Democrats are Bruised from Months of Infighting, Making Some Candidates Vulnerable

 

Changing political parties may have seemed like an obvious decision for state Rep. Paul Froehlich. In 2006, the Schaumburg lawmaker was a Republican who had led local party groups for years. But he watched his veteran colleague, state Rep. Terry Parke, lose to a Democrat and end his 22-year legislative career.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2008

Up For Grabs: Democrats Want to Build the Majority in Their Congresional Delegation

 

Illinois will be a battleground in 2008 as Democrats fight to keep their newfound majority in the U.S. House, and Republicans fight to win it back.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2008

Sweet Home for Obama: Field of Presidential Candidates in IL Include Favorite Son & Native Daughter

 

Dan Fisher met Barack Obama only once. It was three years ago, when Obama stopped in Gillespie, a town about 50 miles south of Springfield, during his campaign for the U.S. Senate. As he left the stage, Obama turned to Fisher, who was standing nearby holding an empty beer cup. Their conversation lasted just a few minutes.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2008

Board Notes: An Era Ends as Longtime Editor Retires

Taylor Pensoneau
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

The era of Peggy Boyer Long at Illinois Issues, a more than 13-year span ending with her retirement in December, was a period of achievement second to none in the magazine's history.

Without fail, Peggy poured into the magazine the same diligence, energy and, above all, political savvy that I first saw her display many years earlier when she was a public radio reporter in the Illinois Statehouse.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2008

State of the State: Open Legislative Seats Could Mean Open Doors for GOP Freshman & New GOP Leaders

Bethany Jaeger
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

 

At a time when Illinois Democrats control all six executive offices and hold strong majorities in the state House and Senate, it's ironic that Republicans could be poised to become power brokers. True, the ongoing legislative session caused at least a handful of Republican lawmakers to reassess their legislative careers and their personal lives. Yet, while that may bring bad news in the short term, there could be a silver lining in the Illinois GOP's future. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue January 1, 2008

Ends and Means: The Biggest Concern for Most Legislative Incumbents Might be Remembering to Vote

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

Read the letters to the editor in the daily newspaper or listen to local talk radio, and you can't help but conclude that citizens seem pretty darn unhappy with the job performance of the Illinois General Assembly and Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Given such apparent public dissatisfaction, one reasonably might expect to see a groundswell of challenges to sitting lawmakers in the 2008 elections, mounted by disgruntled citizens hoping to oust incumbents they see as incompetent at best and downright crooked at worst.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat December 1, 2007

Presidential: Candidates in the Running to Win Illinois' Presidential Primaries

Candidates in the running to win Illinois' presidential primaries:

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York 
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois
U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat December 1, 2007

Legislative: As Chicago's Suburbs Grow Hard to Label, Some Lawmakers Have Opted to Switch Parties

 

As Chicago's suburbs grow increasingly hard to label as predominantly Republican because of shifting demographics, some lawmakers have opted to switch parties.

The area is becoming a purple haze, and a challenge to Republican incumbents. While Illinois House Republicans lost only one incumbent in the 2006 elections, the Senate lost five — four from the Chicago suburbs.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat December 1, 2007

Congressional: Democrats Hope to Extend Their Slight Majority in the IL Congressional Delegation

Democrats hope to extend their slight majority in the Illinois congressional delegation, and the outcome of the February 5 primary races will play a role. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat December 1, 2007

People: Obituary - Henry Hyde

Longtime U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde died November 29. He was 83.

Some three weeks prior, President George W. Bush awarded Hyde the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a president can give to a citizen.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat December 1, 2007

Question & Answer: Wayne Whalen on Con-Con

The Chicago lawyer and vice president of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Foundation board was a delegate to the state's 1969-1970 Constitutional Convention. He represented the northwestern counties of Carroll, Jo Daviess, Ogle, Stephenson and Whiteside, and chaired the Style, Drafting and Submission Committee.

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