Statehouse

Bioethics: The beginning and end of life

Mar 1, 2005

Shortly after the announcement of the creation of Dolly the cloned sheep, a remarkable group came together at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. They included Scottish biologist Keith Campbell, Dolly's creator; British in vitro fertilization pioneer Robert Edwards, who created the world's first test tube baby; Mary Beth Whitehead, the surrogate mother who fought for custody of the child she contracted to bear; and Arthur Caplan, the charismatic University of Pennsylvania bioethicist.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Where is Loren Eiseley, now that we need him? I met him, in a manner of speaking, years ago, and then only by chance (how he would worry that word). He was sitting at his desk contemplating a fish fossil. 

It could, he noted, just as well have been the long-horned Alaskan bison on his wall. Both are extinct and gone, he mused, as "our massive-faced and shambling forebears of the Ice have vanished." 

This, as with so many things, would give him pause. It was then that he would tell the stories.

Pat Guinane
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Who could argue with Illinois Wine Month? Making September state-sanctioned sipping time is a frugal feat meant to help nurture Illinois' fledgling wine industry.

But that thrifty initiative isn't the sort one would expect from Gov. Rod Blagojevich — at least not until now. The Chicago Democrat's third State of the State address was peppered with relatively modest programs and promises, avoiding the pomp and personal attacks that punctuated previous interactions with the General Assembly.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In his 1817 autobiography, British poet Samuel Coleridge wrote of a "willing suspension of disbelief" that enables a reader to become caught up in a work of fiction.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich must have been hoping for a similar state of mind among legislators and other Illinois citizens last month when he presented his proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

At the hub of the state's bureaucracy, Central Management Services is big business. And more and more often, more and more of that business is going on behind closed doors.

The Illinois Department of Central Management Services is the all-purpose agency through which some $3 billion in state funds flow each year. It is state government's landlord and auto mechanic. And it oversees purchasing, information technology and telecommunications operations, as well as insurance benefits for thousands of state employees.

Maytag's recent decision to close its plant in Galesburg and send a major portion of the work 1,600 Illinoisans had been performing to a new factory in Reynosa, Mexico, is the most recent example of the down side of globalization of the economy. 

After a decade of tax breaks and union concessions, Maytag shuttered its factory, which had been making refrigerators in that western Illinois town for more than 50 years. The company also decided to outsource other jobs to Daewoo, a Korean multinational subcontractor that is expected to build a plant in Mexico.

Abraham Lincoln was very likely the first American president never to have belonged to a church. This was not simply a matter of indifference or oversight. He was very conscious of the fact that this hurt him politically. "That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true," he admitted in 1846, and this "levied a tax of a considerable per cent upon my strength throughout the religious community." But shrewd as he was politically, Lincoln made no effort to repair this damage by feigning some form of religious profession. 

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Americans who work hard shouldn’t be poor. That’s what we’ve always believed as a nation. So, whether through ignorance or choice, we don’t really see the working poor. 

Pat Guinane
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Quincy’s Bayview Bridge provides both a path across the Mississippi River and a metaphoric glimpse across the globe. The cable structure bears a striking resemblance to the bridge that stretches across the Yangtze River Delta just outside Jiaxing, China, Quincy’s new sister city.

The Illinois Trade Office helped bring the two river cities together during a Quincy-focused foreign trade mission that still makes local officials ecstatic.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Don’t expect the glitz of a rock concert or the fervor of a tent revival, but the Illinois House’s Budget 2006 road show could be a top draw in coming weeks.

Why is Illinois borrowing to pay state operating expenses? Will the state employee pension system be solvent after those early retirement deals? How will the state close the budget deficit?

Illinois hasn’t been the only state to face long-term fiscal and policy crises in recent years. Remember California’s energy shutdown? Who could forget Florida’s ballot debacles? And now every state seems to be grappling with a shortage of flu vaccine.     

At noon on March 4, 1861, the moral situation of Abraham Lincoln of Illinois was abruptly transformed. 

That morning, arising in the Willard Hotel at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington, he has been a private citizen, an individual moral agent. But that afternoon, standing on the steps of the East Portico of the Capitol before 30,000 fellow citizens, he had become an oath-bound head of state.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

What might the future look like? And how can Illinois prepare to meet it? These are a couple of the questions our editors and writers will attempt to address over the coming year, the magazine’s 30th Anniversary.

Philosopher George Santayana famously said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We might say, also, that those who don’t prepare for the future are condemned to chase it.

Question & Answer: The Four Tops

Jan 1, 2005
Michael Madigan
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois Issues’ Statehouse Bureau Chief Pat Guinane sat down with the four legislative leaders to discuss some topics, new and old that will confront the 94th General Assembly.

We covered the basics — budget woes, medical malpractice, gambling expansion — and let each address his own agenda for the spring session, which begins January 12. We tailored some questions to each individual.

The interviews took place in Springfield in mid-November. We edited the transcripts for clarity.

 

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Among the time-honored traditions of the holiday season, perhaps none is as hopeful and yet as depressing as the practice of making New Year’s resolutions.

Imagine a postcard-perfect day. A tourist family ambles around the Old State Capitol Plaza in downtown Springfield. Mom and dad and two pre-teens have posed for digital images in front of the grand, eroded columns of the Old State Capitol Building. They have discovered that this old sandstone building was erected through the efforts of Lincoln and "the Long Nine," a group of Springfield legislators who finessed the movement of the state capital from its former site in Vandalia.

Retrospective Part 1: Three decades of public affairs journalism

Dec 1, 2004

This coming January, Illinois Issues will enter its fourth decade of publication. And throughout the next year we’ll celebrate that achievement by exploring the challenges Illinoisans are likely to face over the next three decades. In the final months of this year, though, we’ll look back at some of the policy concerns, political events and personalities that caught our attention, and possibly yours, over the past 30 years.

Retrospective Part 2: Three decades of public affairs journalism

Dec 1, 2004

When the first edition of Illinois Issues came off the presses in January 1975, major changes in state governance were under way. Officials were busy meeting the requirements of the 1970 state Constitution, which was designed by its framers to pull Illinois into the modern era. The first state comptroller had been sworn in, and the first auditor general. The new State Board of Elections had just supervised its first campaign season. The new State Board of Education was in place.

Retrospective Part 3: Three decades of public affairs journalism

Dec 1, 2004

Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. A perusal of back issues of this magazine yields a striking continuity in many of the policy questions state officials have wrestled with over the past 30 years. We highlight a few here. This long view offers an opportunity to get in on the beginning, then see how things turned out. In some instances, as we point out, even the best intentions can go awry. Whether public officials cover the same ground or change course, whether they move forward or fall back, the past can provide a bridge to the future.

Retrospective Part 4: Three decades of public affairs journalism

Dec 1, 2004

Illinois Issues has evolved dramatically over the past three decades. One of the more popular innovations was our annual midwinter arts issue, an effort to highlight the importance of the relationship between policy and culture. Incredibly, this is our ninth issue devoted to the arts. Yet the magazine has always sought to draw a connection between quality of life in Illinois and public support for imagination in all its forms.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Someone in China opened Illinois Issues. Someone in Mexico did the same. Add France and Israel, South Africa and Japan. In fact, over the course of the past several months, individuals in 38 countries spent some time with — the term of art now is “visited” — an electronic edition of the magazine.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Are the majority of Illinoisans indifferent to virtue? That inference might be drawn from post-election punditry that credits President George W. Bush’s re-election to the rising up of righteous voters alarmed by the nation’s decades-long slide into perdition.

Analysts pushing the vote-for-godly-living scenario point to exit polls indicating moral values was the key issue for a plurality of voters — some 22 percent — four out of five of whom marked for the president over his Democratic challenger, U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

The 6,300 citizens of Round Lake Park, a working class village near the Wisconsin border in far northern Lake County, have been affected by the recent economic slump just like everyone else in Illinois. They've watched jobs evaporate at nearby Baxter International and Motorola. They've seen fuel prices and health care costs go up. Some have put off needed repairs on their homes until finances look better.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The late state Sen. Aldo DeAngelis may have put the matter most succinctly. In the summer of 1989, he was listening none-too-patiently to criticism of the state's decision to grant Sears, Roebuck & Co. a $61 million financial incentive package, sweetened by tax breaks and development benefits, when the company threatened to move its Merchandise Group to North Carolina or Texas. Critics, we reported then, were suggesting to the Legislative Audit Commission that Sears might have snookered the state out of a good deal of public cash.

Pat Guinane
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Once again, November presents legislators with a cornucopia of issues steeped in urgency. And, as in past years, lawmakers say it will be the leftovers that fill their plates on six session days this month.

Last year, major policy overhauls spilled into the fall session as legislators rewrote death penalty and government ethics reform packages. This year, old business is again on the agenda.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

After seeing colleagues in target legislative districts roasted throughout the just-concluded campaign season for supposedly voting against their constituents’ local interests, Illinois lawmakers may be tempted to approach their work from a decidedly parochial perspective.

That’s understandable, of course. No incumbent wants to provide ammunition to a future challenger intent on playing to the long-held regional animosities that characterize Illinois politics.

If next month's election turns out the way just about everyone expects, Illinois will send one Harvard-educated African American to Washington, D.C., and another back to Maryland.

In education and race, Barack Obama and Alan Keyes share common backgrounds. But the similarities stop there with these two competitors for the state's open U.S. Senate seat.

Illinois Republicans were in a bind. Their Senate candidate had dropped out of the race, and now the party was scrambling to find a replacement or face disaster in a critical election. 

Sounds familiar, right? But this wasn't the U.S. Senate race featuring a GOP import from Maryland. Instead, it was a state Senate race in western Illinois. The Republican nominee had decided he didn't have the stomach for a tough campaign against first-term state Sen. John Sullivan of Rushville. 

By most political measuring sticks, Illinois' 8th District race between the nation's longest-serving U.S. House Republican, Philip Crane, and Democratic upstart Melissa Bean shouldn't be a close one.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

An echo from the 1964 Republican National Convention has reached Illinois. The state’s Republican right controls the party podium; voters face a clear ideological choice in the U.S. Senate race; and, though there is little doubt as to the outcome, the campaign promises to become one of the more fascinating set pieces in Illinois’ already-storied past.

It was partly a matter of chance.

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