Statehouse

Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon October 1, 2007

Editor's Notebook: The Boys & Girls of Summer Could Use Some Coaching on the Essence of the Game

Peggy Boyer Long
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

"At the end of the day, do people really care whether or not the Cubs win in 14 innings or 9 innings?" Blagojevich told reporters today. "It's whether they win or lose."

Posted August 1 by Monique Garcia
Clout Street
Chicago Tribune Web Edition

Ah, baseball. That most American of pastimes. But these days some of the better players are imports.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon October 1, 2007

State of the State: Distrust and Lack of Communication in Springfield Spoil Opportunities Statewide

Bethany Jaeger
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

 

The longest overtime session in Illinois history is expected to roll right into the annual fall session, which is set to start October 2. Plenty of issues were left open for the legislature to debate in those six scheduled days, but compromise hasn't been the governor's and the legislature's strong suit this year.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Mon October 1, 2007

Ends and Means:The Governor's Lawsuits Are the Latest Signs of a Toxic Environment at the Statehouse

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

In the abstract, two suits now pending in Sangamon County Circuit Court pose interesting questions involving the constitutional tenet of separation of powers and the proper roles of the executive and legislative branches in lawmaking.

In the surreal world of here-and-now Illinois politics, the suits are among the latest signs of the toxic environment infusing government under the control of the state's dysfunctional Democratic leaders.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat September 1, 2007

The Outer Office: Lobbyists Will be Back at the Rail. And Likely in Greater Numbers

 

What do electric utilities, cable television and gambling casinos have in common? They're all good for business — the lobbying business, that is. 

As Illinois' spring legislative session dragged into summer, lawmakers deliberated on some of the key issues that always attract the attention of professional advocates who are paid to represent special interests. They work toward one of three objectives, or some combination: get something for the client; prevent the client from losing something; or get something back that the client has already lost.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat September 1, 2007

New Citizens: Talk of Immigration Reform is Pushing a Surge in Applications

Some barriers immigrants cite for not applying for citizenship, advocates say, include a fear that their English-speaking abilities aren't good enough and that the administrative process for applying is too complex.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat September 1, 2007

State of the State: How Did We Get Here, and Where Are We Headed?

Bethany Jaeger
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Fueling discord, Blagojevich issued ultimatums while legislative leaders continued to negotiate the budget without him. Of course, the legislative leaders also remained entrenched in their own agendas.

The state's top lawmakers didn't play nice in the sandbox this year. They threw temper tantrums and blamed each other for the lengthening stalemate over the state budget. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat September 1, 2007

Ends and Means: The Dysfunctional Ds Set New Standards for Governing Incompetence

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

As the seemingly interminable spring legislative session drags on through the dog days of summer and lawmakers begin circulating petitions for re-election, Democratic lawmakers can't be enthusiastic about the record compiled by their leaders.

Despite controlling all the levers of the lawmaking machinery — the governorship and majorities in both the Senate and the House — the dysfunctional Ds set new standards for governing incompetence.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun July 1, 2007

Front Lines: Activists fear Illinois is losing the battle for open space

For its part, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says it's not necessarily at odds with what the advocacy groups want.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun July 1, 2007

State of the State: Lack of federal action could create a patchwork of local immigration policies

Bethany Carson
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Without immigration reform at the federal level, more local governments could try to enact policies, despite a lack of resources to enforce them.

The week the Village of Carpentersville in northern Kane County was scheduled to vote whether to make English the official language for village operations, immigration policy reforms remained in limbo at the national level.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun July 1, 2007

Ends and Means: Illinoisans who were surveyed about the state think changes are needed

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Things could be worse, of course. National surveys taken at roughly the same time found even fewer people seeing things going in the right direction nationally.

Most Illinoisans think the state is headed in the wrong direction.

Almost two-thirds believe state government has a lot or quite a bit of impact on the day-to-day lives of state residents, but three-quarters say state government can be trusted to do what is right hardly ever or only some of the time.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri June 1, 2007

Freight Gridlock: The complications of a solution are as real as the consequences of inaction

THE HUDSON ESSAY 

Michael Hudson was vice president of public affairs at Illinois Tool Works Inc. and chairman of the Illinois Issues Advisory Board at the time of his death in 1992. In his memory, fellow board members established an annual essay to examine a significant economic trend in Illinois that has been affected by public policy or the lack of it. This essay about freight gridlock was funded by a donor who asked to remain anonymous.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri June 1, 2007

Risk Management: Should the public or private sector supply power to Illinoisans?

For more than seven months, Illinois lawmakers have been feeling political heat from consumers over rising electricity bills. Some even faced death threats. In their defense, lawmakers pounded their fists, raised their voices and resorted to sulking in frustration as their legislative leaders traded procedural jabs. House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones Jr. have each proposed measures that call for the state to intervene in setting electric rates.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri June 1, 2007

Financial Trap: Scam artists taking advantage of borrowers, mortgage foreclosures increasing

Brokers aren't as heavily regulated as other industries, offering some leeway for the unethical to trick consumers into bad loans. As it stands, brokers also have the right to charge high fees.

State Rep. Esther Golar gets upset every time she sees an abandoned building in her district. She recalls a walk she took down the 6100 block of South Carpenter in Englewood, where she counted nine single-family homes and two-flats that had been hit by foreclosure. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri June 1, 2007

A Matter of Character: Politicians seldom ask who is being disadvantaged

Patronage has the potential to be a social good or a social bad in every sector of society where powerful people make decisions about jobs. Often there is a quid pro quo working when hiring decisions are being made, and this may be troubling from an ethical perspective. Patronage, when it is bad, is an expression of character defects in the leaders and administrators who make these decisions. No such accusation is justified when leaders select their policy teams and appoint advisers and staff who will serve at their pleasure.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri June 1, 2007

Editor's Notebook: Two books, two lives, describe the past. They might also explain the present

Peggy Boyer Long
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

"It was true that over the years I consistently evoked strong feelings, but voters had elected a fighter. What's wrong with confronting a problem and fighting for the right solution?"

Dan Walker
The Maverick and the Machine: 
Governor Dan Walker Tells His Story

Illinois political history is a long-running study in character. It's a morality play intoned by a Greek chorus and a solitary plea from the wings. It's heroism and tragedy, and sometimes comedy, in an endless series of acts. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri June 1, 2007

State of the State: A 37-member majority may not be as super as it first appears

Bethany Carson
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

The regional and political differences among Senate Democrats were on display in some of the most attention-getting issues this spring.

The 95th Illinois General Assembly began with high expectations for the Senate Democrats, whose majority grew by six members in last fall's elections. But so far they haven't looked like the agenda-setters they were expected to be.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Fri June 1, 2007

Ends and Means: Growing population and shifting demographics should cheer Illinois Republicans

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Most significant for GOP hopes, more than 98 percent of the estimated net growth, or almost 405,000 new residents, occurred in the five collar counties, historically Republican strongholds.

The party of Abraham Lincoln has fallen on hard times in the Land of Lincoln, but a recent U.S. Census report may hold a ray of hope for beleaguered Illinois Republicans.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue May 1, 2007

Paul Simon Essay: Burning Question - How to help the poor?

Poverty. It is the perennial question. American Poverty — rural, urban and suburban poverty. Stubborn poverty, the kind that rises like the stench of polluted well water.

Go to 
John Wesley Fountain's Blog
and click on
"Multimedia Presentation" 
to view photos and video.

I stand with one foot in each of two worlds. One in poverty, the other planted firmly in the American Dream. One man, with one soul and one dream borne in two Americas.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue May 1, 2007

Displaced: Tougher rules for Chicago's subsidized housing aim to sweep social problems away

The social ills that once plagued Chicago public housing can be eliminated with a few swings of a wrecking ball. Drug dealing, gang shootings, economic isolation and squalor will be displaced as housing projects throughout the city are torn down.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue May 1, 2007

Shaky Business: The private sector worries Illinois won't remain a good place to invest

State Sen. Michael Bond represents a district that has the foundation of a booming new industry, and he's trying to attract more leading-edge companies that are producing the next wave of medicines, energy supplies and aircraft. But Bond's strategy for attracting entrepreneurs to that northeastern region faces an uncertain future as Illinois officials wrestle this legislative session with two pressing state issues: potential tax reform and chronic debt.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue May 1, 2007

Dollarocracy: Pay-to-play culture still has a chokehold on Illinois politics

A decade after that report, political money is still making us look bad, and there's no question that fundraising demands and practices are keeping good people from entering the political arena. That weakens and taints Illinois.

Columnist Bill McClellan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatchsuggested that the University of Illinois change its sports teams' name to the Fighting Corrupt Politicians "because of the state's colorful history in that regard."

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue May 1, 2007

Editor's Notebook: Do we have an obligation to help the poor? Can we end poverty?

Peggy Boyer Long
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Perhaps the answer might be found in the stories and also in the voices of some Illinoisans who themselves live in the poorest communities in the state ? among the poorest in America." 

John Wesley Fountain

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue May 1, 2007

State of the State: Outdated roads, rails and buses won't drive Illinois into the economic future

Bethany Carson
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

"A modern economy needs a modern platform, and that's the infrastructure. It has been shown that the productivity of an economy is related to the quality of its infrastructure."

Felix Rohatyn 
The New York Times, April 9, 2007

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue May 1, 2007

Ends and Means: A legislative measure would end most regulation of new wired video service

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

"When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled." 

 African proverb

In the legislative battle now under way between two heavyweight industries — the telephone companies and the cable television providers — what's at risk of getting trampled is the public interest.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun April 1, 2007

Grim Prognosis: Illinois' Fiscal Health is in a Sorry State

Grim Prognosis: Illinois' fiscal health is in a sorry state
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

"Run government like a business." We've all heard the familiar refrain, typically as a pledge from a political candidate or as a demand from a government critic.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun April 1, 2007

Question & Answer: J. Thomas Johnson

He was chosen president of the Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois a year ago this month. Prior to that, he was a state and local tax partner at accounting firms Grant Thornton and KPMG.

He served on the Illinois Gaming Board from 1990 to 1999, becoming chairman in 1993. Through the 1980s, he served in Gov. James Thompson's Cabinet as director of the Department of Local Government Affairs and then  the Department of Revenue.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun April 1, 2007

Price of Promises: Health care costs rise, the state considering trimming employee benefits

Keith Brainard of the National Association of State Retirement Administrators says states tend to accumulate the largest long-term costs for retiree benefits by offering open-ended promises of providing health services.

Health insurance for public retirees used to be considered a throw-away benefit, according to Keith Brainard, research director for the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. It used to be OK to say, "Yeah, we'll throw that in too."

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun April 1, 2007

Editor's Notebook: Words can inform and inspire but they also can choke off thought

"You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns! You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!"

William Jennings Bryan
1896 Democratic National Convention

OK, so Gov. Rod Blagojevich never actually uttered the words cross of gold in his faux-populist State of the State/budget address, but he seemed to be straining to channel some of the Salem, Ill.-born Bryan's anti-corporate, pro-labor spirit.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun April 1, 2007

Community: Groups use federal program to prepare for emergencies

Volunteer groups in communities across Illinois are taking on training and organizational responsibilities to respond to potential disasters, whether natural or criminal. But preliminary data in a recent study by Southern Illinois University Carbondale shows that these Community Emergency Response Teams, which are funded through the Department of Homeland Security, react differently to emergency situations, depending on whether they are based in rural or urban settings. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun April 1, 2007

Ends and Means: Should officials cash in state assets?

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood... ."

Daniel H. Burnham

In his State of the State/budget address last month, Gov. Rod Blagojevich quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and cited Hercules' struggle to kill the many-headed Hydra.

But the $60 billion spending plan he presented also seemed to embody the advice of the famed Chicago architect, for it was truly super-sized. Blagojevich called for:

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