Statehouse

Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed February 1, 2006

The Cabinet Maker: Should Lincoln's making and maintenance of his Cabinet be a model for others?

Doris Kearns Goodwin's new book on Abraham Lincoln's Cabinet, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, is another in a long line of tributes to the astute management of affairs demonstrated by the 16th president, this time focusing on the way he handled the competing egos and ambitions of his secretary of state (William Henry Seward), his secretary of the treasury (Salmon P. Chase) and his attorney general (Edward Bates).

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed February 1, 2006

Editor's Notebook: Lawmakers plan a quick trip but we will track the itinerary

Peggy Boyer Long
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Fasten those seat belts. The spring legislative session is on a fast track. This being an election year, no one wants to run into unexpected controversies. This being Illinois, the ride could get bumpy.

Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn April 7, nearly two months before the state's constitutional deadline. But in these next few weeks, they'll have a lot of ground to cover. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed February 1, 2006

Ends and Means: Let the buyer beware of the governor's State of the State

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's State of the State address had a familiar ring for devotees of late-night television, where infomercials reign supreme. Sounding like a video pitchman, the governor extolled the "significant progress" the state has made during his tenure and promised even greater achievements in the future.

In the 39-minute address, Blagojevich touted his record in health care, school funding and job creation, pushed a $3.2 billion public works plan, and offered new initiatives to help pay college tuition costs and to provide veterans health care.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun January 1, 2006

Rights Review: State's high court reconsidering search-and-seizure dispute settled by Supreme Court

When he was stopped on the shoulder of I-80 in LaSalle County seven years ago, Roy Caballes was no different from thousands of drivers pulled over for speeding every year. Caballes, caught driving 71 mph in a 65-mph zone, was about to get off with a written warning. 

But what happened next transformed Caballes into the central character in an ongoing legal saga that could shape the rights of Illinois citizens, alter state judges' relationship with their federal counterparts and restrict Illinois police from using controversial tools to do their jobs.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun January 1, 2006

Leaders Rising: State lawmakers show natural political savvy

Throughout the year, Illinois Issues will publish occasional mini-profiles of some of the state's rising public officials. These are the first two.

All Christine Radogno wanted was to prevent a fire station from opening on her quiet residential street. The next thing she knew, 25 years had passed and she's a state senator wading through the details of health care and budget deficits.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun January 1, 2006

Editor's Notebook: Illinoisans face threats and opportunities in the New Year

Peggy Boyer Long
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Can we ensure the safety of the nation, yet protect the civil liberties of Americans? Can we secure the homeland, yet guarantee the rights of detainees on foreign soil? Can we retool our government for an uncertain future, yet maintain our democratic principles?

The need to come to consensus on these issues grew more urgent as the old year slipped into the new. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu December 1, 2005

State of the State: Problems at Central Management Services contribute to a credibility deficit

Pat Guinane
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Paul Campbell sports a sharp suit and perfectly coiffed silver hair. He's the face of a state agency looking to shed its reputation as a sluggish bureaucracy and adopt a slick business model. Campbell wears it well. Meanwhile, his agency, the Department of Central Management Services, has been draped in a veil of optimism. Anything to avoid an unflattering spotlight that has cast shadows across the administration of Gov. Rod Blagojevich. 

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Statehouse
12:00 am
Thu December 1, 2005

Ends and Means: Lawmakers got inoculated in time for the campaign season

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Had your flu shot? Some public health officials are expecting a record number of Americans to receive the influenza vaccine this fall, with demand for the shots driven by people's recollection of last year's shortage and their concern about the virulent avian flu slowly making its way toward the western hemisphere.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue November 1, 2005

Uncle Sam's Pocket: Where there's federal cash, states choose to follow, losing rights along the way

The classroom, the polling place and now the DMV. Uncle Sam keeps showing up in the most peculiar places.

These unwelcome intrusions onto state turf come under the banner of federalism, the notion that a national policy will reap results across all states.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue November 1, 2005

Great Mystery: Leadership doesn't derive dependably from personality, or belief, or rank

Ask Amazon.com to list all the books on leadership and there will be 170,000 choices. This suggests that interest in the mystery of leadership is general, and the secret to it has yet to be found. One need read only a few of these books to begin to see why. Leadership does not derive dependably from personality, or belief, or rank. Individuals of both sexes have been leaders, and people of all colors. Black Hawk was the quintessential charismatic leader, as was the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. Leadership styles vary, too. President Abraham Lincoln and labor union official John L.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue November 1, 2005

Editor's Notebook: We should fall through the looking glass

Peggy Boyer Long
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Looking for a political leader? You might try the nearest mirror.

Shortly before he died in 2003, Paul Simon concluded that elected officials are counting on you and me to tell them what to do. His book, Our Culture of Pandering, published that year, examined what he called the "harsh reality" of our civic life: leaders who won't lead. 

Politicians, Simon wrote, consider winning more important than the public interest, and spend much of their time testing the winds through polls. In other words, they put considerable energy into trying to understand and please us.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue November 1, 2005

State of the State: Government service isn't supposed to be about helping yourself

Pat Guinane
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

To hear him tell it, Scott Fawell never let good government get in the way of politics.

His approach wouldn't be unusual for a high-priced political consultant. The problem is, Fawell has "been on a lot of state payrolls." 

And it's hardly a revelation. Much of the first day of testimony in the federal corruption trial of former Gov. George Ryan focused on a faulty firewall between government and politics.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Tue November 1, 2005

Ends and Means: Is the governor scoring political points? Or are his intentions aboveboard?

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

He's trying to score political points for next year's gubernatorial election. He's hoping to draw voters' attention away from ongoing federal investigations into possible ethical wrongdoing in his administration. He's looking to impress Beltway pundits to stoke his national aspirations.

Detractors found no end of ulterior motives in Gov. Rod Blagojevich's ambitious plan to provide health insurance for all Illinois children, unveiled last month and ticketed for legislative approval in the fall session now under way.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat October 1, 2005

All Aboard? The feds are paying to upgrade Illinois' Amtrak stations

City officials in Normal aim to resurrect their community's downtown. They've paved the way for a new children's museum and begun negotiations on a hotel and conference site for that central Illinois town, which lies in the shadow of Illinois State University. 

Now they're hoping to make it easier for people to get there. The check from the feds should help.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat October 1, 2005

Weighty Freight: Chicagoland's supremacy as a shipping hub is endangered by transport system

Every time a Chicagoand points and clicks on an Internet purchase to be shipped by United Parcel Service, another bit of weight is added to the region's overstrained freight system.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat October 1, 2005

Crumbling Commitments: The state promised millions for school construction projects

Rochester needs a new junior high. State officials won't argue with that. They even agreed to pick up more than half the tab. Still, they never said anything about putting the project on layaway.

Three years after putting up $8.3 million in local money, voters in this central Illinois town had to step up again, this time to shoulder what has been an empty promise from the state.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat October 1, 2005

State of the State: Here we are again, facing what some call a crisis in ethics

Pat Guinane
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Forget Mudville. There is joy in Marion.

After pairing with private investors, the southern Illinois town is poised to become the state's latest home to minor league baseball.

"We're willing to go to bat to help the development of this because we feel it will be a tremendous shot in the arm, not just for the city of Marion, but for the entire area," says Marion Mayor Bob Butler. "We've got a lot of rabid baseball fans in the area. It's amazing. I can go to the grocery store and little gray-haired old ladies will ask, 'Where do I get a season ticket?'"

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sat October 1, 2005

Ends and Means: Illinois faces added expenses with new federal transportation dollars

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

"Never look a gift horse in the mouth," cautioned the Roman theologian St. Jerome in a 5th century biblical commentary. Despite such sound advice, Illinois policymakers could hardly be blamed if they were to feel a tad concerned about the massive windfall of federal dollars — an estimated $9.4 billion over five years — the state could receive under the new transportation bill President George W. Bush signed in August.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu September 1, 2005

Pipe Dream? States try to snuff out meth on their own. Illinois put a lid on the ingredients

A year ago, Illinois officials had reason to be confident. As lethal and easily concocted methamphetamine overwhelmed rural communities and spread to larger cities, state lawmakers moved to restrict access to some over-the-counter cold medicines containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, key ingredients in the homemade drug widely known as crystal meth.

Illinois, it seemed, was ahead of the game through smart politics and smart law enforcement.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu September 1, 2005

Low profile, high impact: Illinois Court of Claims doles out more than $40 million a year

Each year, thousands of disputes make their way to a drab two-story, red-brick building in the shadow of the state Capitol. It's where contractors argue the state owes them money. Where crime victims seek compensation for losses. And where pardoned inmates ask for restitution.

It's also where a British company recently launched a $2.6 million lawsuit over thousands of flu shots Illinois ordered without getting approval from the feds. In fact, despite its relative obscurity, the Illinois Court of Claims doles out more than $40 million a year to resolve such disputes.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu September 1, 2005

State of the State: Policy could take a back seat as Democrats unite for a common goal: re-election

Pat Guinane
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

The State Fair has passed by, and with it went the partisan pep rallies that kicked off another campaign season.

Republicans spoke of rebuilding and revitalizing, while Democrats talked unity, a nod to their current stranglehold on state government. They control the Illinois House and Senate, both U.S. Senate seats and the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and comptroller.

That makes for a crowded dais. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Thu September 1, 2005

Ends and Means: State charter took Illinois out of the horse-and-buggy era

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Thirty-five years ago this month, the Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention finished crafting a document designed to bring state government out of the horse-and-buggy era and into the space age.

Meeting one final time in the historic chamber of the House of Representatives in the Old State Capitol in Springfield for a formal signing ceremony, this remarkable group of 116 men and women commended their handiwork to Illinois voters, who ratified it two and one-half months later.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed June 1, 2005

What will we give up? Federal lawmakers reconsider provisions of the USA Patriot Act

As federal agents closed in on a drug trafficking ring in Pittsburgh, they discovered that several of the group's leaders also were in on a credit card racket. The agents searched a Federal Express package and found counterfeit cards.

Normally, the agents would have had to produce a warrant and inform the recipient before they could search the package. But that posed a problem for the investigators. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed June 1, 2005

Treated and Released: Where should sex offenders go once they've done their time?

In a single afternoon last month, a powerful legislative panel took up, among other things, the death penalty, witness intimidation, eavesdropping and state gun laws. But for every measure under consideration there was another aimed at a single subject: sex offenders. 

"It seems like every other bill deals with sex offenders. If they had any money, they should hire a lobbyist," remarked Chicago Democratic Sen. John Cullerton as a long day spilled into evening.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed June 1, 2005

Editor's Notebook: Thoughtful public affairs journalism takes planning and financial resources

Peggy Boyer Long
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Why can't politicians behave like the work-for-tomorrow ant instead of the live-in-the-moment grasshopper?

Illinois Issues raised this question in January as we launched our year-long celebration of the magazine's 30th anniversary. In his thought-provoking response, political scientist Christopher Mooney explained why this state's elected officials have little incentive to plan ahead. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed June 1, 2005

State of the State: Democrats trade ideals for adjournment and swap budget votes for pork projects

Pat Guinane
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Access to health care trumped rights to legal remedy and political expediency bested fiscal responsibility as Democrats sacrificed political capital in pursuit of legislative adjournment this spring. They finished the session on time, but the question is how long their actions will hold up.

After nearly two years of debate, the Democratic leadership yielded to pressure for medical liability reforms. By abridging the legal rights of patients, proponents hope to lower malpractice insurance costs for doctors, which they argue will improve access to health care in underserved areas.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed June 1, 2005

Ends and Means: Democrats declared a holiday and left Springfield for the summer

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

As Democratic leaders prepared to ram a $54-plus billion budget through the Illinois legislature on May 31 — thus avoiding another overtime session — Gov. Rod Blagojevich was ebullient. "I feel real good about the session," he told reporters following cameo appearances in the Senate and the House. "My only regret is that it has to end now."

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun May 1, 2005

Civic Virtues: Moral imperatives grounded in religion call us to come to know a good in common

Civil society is on the tips of many tongues these days. This shouldn't surprise us — not in the American democracy. American civic life was not lopsidedly state-centered, as in Europe, but more dispersed, more open to citizens within the purview of their particular communities. 

When we speak of civil society, we call to mind that world of associational enthusiasm that so enchanted Alexis de Tocqueville when he toured the fledgling republic during the Jacksonian era. 

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun May 1, 2005

Ready or Not: US prepares to fight the plague and other potential threats posed by bioterrorists

It takes teamwork and 21st century technology to take on an Old World foe.

That's the lesson state officials learned two years ago when a simulated release of the pneumonic plague tested the network in place to protect Illinois against real acts of bioterrorism.

Known as TOPOFF 2 — indicating participation of top officials from two states, 19 federal agencies and the Canadian government — the drill was designed to show how leaders would respond to an attack involving biological weapons of mass destruction.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Sun May 1, 2005

Editor's Notebook: "American civic life is a moral imperative"

Peggy Boyer Long
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Jean Bethke Elshtain argues that we need more religion in politics. 

Her essay on this point is timely. And we expect it will be controversial. At least we hope so. We commissioned Elshtain, a political philosopher at the University of Chicago Divinity School, as Illinois Issues' first Paul Simon Essayist. Then we asked her to explore the underpinnings of our civic life.

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