Statehouse

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Crisis can cloud judgment. Or it can foster creative thinking. 

And Illinois may have reached just this critical juncture in its correctional policies overall, and in its procedures for imposing the death sentence in particular. 

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

There’s the ideal. There’s reality. Then there’s politics.

When Gov. George Ryan two years ago put a hold on Illinois executions and formed a commission to consider improvements in capital punishment, he inspired visions of perfection. The public, which had been juggling images of innocent people clogging Death Row, was suddenly contemplating a regenerated, error-free death penalty.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Facing perhaps the worst fiscal crisis in state history, Illinois lawmakers chose an equally unprecedented remedy — selling long-term bonds — to help fill a $1-billion-plus hole in the state’s day-to-day operating budget.

Delbert Marion feels as though he’s in the bull’s-eye. East St. Louis, where he’s the police chief, is at the center of the state’s most densely populated area outside metropolitan Chicago. It’s heavily industrialized, too, including chemical plants in nearby Sauget. And, situated across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, it’s a major transportation hub. In short, Illinois’ Metro East region could make an attractive target for terrorists.

The Chicago school system will lose. City government in Decatur will feel the pinch. And the cash-strapped state of Illinois will be out hundreds of millions of dollars.The sudden, unexpected revival of a federal economic stimulus plan earlier this year dealt a major blow to Illinois state finances. Illinois schools, municipalities and other local governments will feel the bite, too. But the biggest loser will be the state’s general revenue fund.

The Joy of Keeping Score

How Scoring the Game Has Influenced and Enhanced the History of Baseball
Paul Dickson, 1996
Walker and Company

Bob Rosenberg has been a professional sports scorekeeper since 1961, when he broke in with the Chicago Packers basketball team. 

As far as he knows, he’s the nation’s only full-time professional scorer, keeping the books for the Chicago Bulls, Bears, and White Sox, as well as half the home games for the Cubs. 

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Fish or cut bait. That phrase comes readily to mind every year at just about this time. 

With the scheduled end of the spring legislative session mere weeks away, lawmakers, and the governor, face some of the toughest fiscal choices in recent memory. State revenues are sinking, expenses rising. And the fall election is visible already on a not-so-distant shore. By the end of May, they’ll need to find some way to patch a $1.3 billion hole, maybe bigger, in Gov. George Ryan’s budget for the coming year. It won’t be easy.

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

There’s always the old-fashioned way. But that takes longer and isn’t as efficient. And lives could be at risk.

These days, police officers travel with computer systems built into their squad cars. With the punch of a few buttons, an officer can link with the state police database, known as LEADS, and instantaneously get the goods on a driver or a vehicle or both.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Is there a statesman in the House? The Senate? The Executive Mansion? Anywhere in state government?

As the Illinois General Assembly moves into the final month of the spring session, it seems fitting to pose a question — albeit rhetorical — about the quality of leadership in Springfield.

Amtrak’s high speed Acela Express whizzes along a stretch of track between New York and Washington, D.C., at 135 miles per hour. Passengers read or work on laptops in seats as large as those found in first class airline cabins. The train drops them off just a couple of blocks from Capitol Hill without the hassle of baggage handlers and long cab rides to and from the airport.

Suburbanites who leave Chicago by rail can expect to arrive home on time. Trains are frequent on every route. And ticket prices are lower than the cost of driving. But rail passengers who travel from Chicago to downstate destinations have no such assurances. 

Metra, the commuter rail authority that serves the Chicago region, and Amtrak, the passenger rail company that serves the nation, are comparable in some ways, of course. Both are subsidized with taxpayer dollars. They use the same tracks and share some stations. 

It’s been a difficult year for Nora Watters and her family. The 38-year-old Decatur woman has managed to find work, but her job with the National Opinion Research Center only brings in an occasional paycheck. The family of four, which earned about $30,000 last year, has been on an especially tight budget since last fall when Watters’ husband lost his full-time job at a local car dealership. 

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Now that the primary campaigns are behind them, state officials, and potential state officials, might turn their attention to the more complex matter of governance.They’ll face plenty of challenges this spring, certainly, some more pressing than others. 

They’ll need to agree, most particularly, on ways to stretch a declining number of public dollars over an increasing number of public needs. That’ll be tough enough.

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Roosevelt Banister has his hands full. As program director for New Age Services Corp., a methadone provider on Chicago’s West Side, he practically has heroin addicts banging down his door for treatment.

Without methadone, addicts trying to wean themselves off heroin, a derivative of opium, suffer sweating, aching, cramps, and runny noses and eyes. Essentially, they can’t function normally. The synthetic opiate eliminates such symptoms.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In the traditional Christian calendar, March 19 is the feast day of St. Joseph, the patron saint of workers. Thus, perhaps one should have expected that organized labor and party machinery would play key roles in last month’s primary election.

Indeed, the results of the March 19 voting demonstrated that old- fashioned politicking can still trump media-based campaigns, even in the 21st century.

Consider, for example, the high- profile races for party nominations for governor.

Daniel Parrilli created his own little business. He even created the customers.

Parrilli applied for credit cards in fictitious names. Then he set up a sham company and secured a credit card terminal. He processed transactions through the terminal using the bogus cards and deposited the sales credits into bank accounts set up with the aliases. For a while, he paid minimum balances on the cards to keep them in good standing.

In the 36th Ward’s storefront office, just down the street from the Turner Bowl on Chicago’s Northwest Side, prosecutor Dennis Michael McGuire waited patiently on a Friday afternoon in November as candidates for the 5th Congressional District and other elected posts paraded before seven Democratic committeemen. McGuire wants to be a judge, and judicial candidates are last to be considered by the committeemen, last on the ballot and last to capture the attention of the media.

Phyllis Hopwood sent all six of her children to Steward Elementary School. She has taught her neighbors’ children in the tiny schoolhouse for almost three decades. So it is difficult for her to watch what is happening to Steward.

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The signs along the northbound lanes of I-55 near Bloomington look familiar. The series of five Burma Shave-style placards, planted just off the shoulder, resemble others put along roads throughout the state by Gunssavelife.com.

That’s no accident. Justice Robert Steigmann is a member of the Champaign County Rifle Association, the Web organization’s affiliated group, and he’s proud its members helped construct the signs to promote his race for the Illinois Supreme Court.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In proposing a $52.8 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, Gov. George Ryan issued a warning to the Illinois General Assembly: Go beyond my bottom line, and I’ll veto the entire budget.

Jeff Schoenberg is in the catbird seat. 

His new Senate district just to the north of Chicago is largely Democratic, and home to thousands of Jews. Schoenberg is a Democrat; he’s also Jewish. And he does especially well with these constituencies. 

Next month, voters in two Saline County townships will discover just how much the state’s political landscape has changed. After decades of choosing among familiar home-grown pols, Democrat Glenn Poshard, say, or Democrat David Phelps, these southern Illinoisans are about to get to know Tim Johnson, a Republican from faraway Urbana who wants to represent them in the nation’s capital.

Voters in the central Illinois city of Decatur will see new names on the ballot for U.S. House, too. As will voters in Chicago’s Hispanic neighborhoods. 

plane
Diana L.C. Nelson

When American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in Queens, N.Y., the reaction from many Americans spoke volumes about the health of the U.S. airlines industry. As the grim news filtered into homes and offices, there were sighs of relief the tragedy that claimed 265 lives was “just an accident” — and not the work of terrorists.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The 2002 primary season should be in full swing when this magazine reaches your mailbox.

By late last month, in the days before we sent our February edition to the printer, two of the Republicans who want to be governor had displaced the hard-hit auto industry’s zero percent financing pitches with televised ads of their own — counter-punching one another’s positions on abortion. And cheerful, but no-nonsense phone bank volunteers were interrupting dinners to ask whether the name of one of the Democrats who wants to be governor rings a bell.

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Stanley Weaver has seen plenty over the course of a long political career.

When this Republican arrived in the General Assembly in 1969, some 400,000 young people were preparing to join Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker and Janis Joplin at a three-day concert on a farm in upstate New York. And Neil Armstrong was training to land on the moon. 

Wayne Bridgewater may not have been tactful, but he certainly was to the point. As chairman of the panel redistricting Madison County, he announced — promised actually — that he would jam his plan, well, where the Republicans wouldn’t like it. This, as though the Democrats’ 24-5 majority wasn’t already enough.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” 

Benjamin Franklin, 1789

Were Old Ben around today, he might be tempted to amend his well-known maxim to add a third category: a sure General Assembly seat for whoever wins the primary in most of the state’s new legislative districts.

Hot Property: The Democrats

Jan 1, 2002
Mansion
Mike Cramer

There are seven major bids on the 
Executive Mansion this election season
This month, Illinois Issues provides information
on the race for governor.

In the rest of this issue, we examine the primary races for attorney general and the U.S. Senate. (This issue went to press before the December 24th deadline to challenge candidates’ petitions.)

Next month, we’ll look at the primary campaigns for the legislature and Congress.

 

The Democrats

Hot Property: The Republicans

Jan 1, 2002
Mansion
Mike Cramer

There are seven major bids on the 
Executive Mansion this election season
This month, Illinois Issues provides information
on the race for governor.

In the rest of this issue, we examine the primary races for attorney general and the U.S. Senate. (This issue went to press before the December 24th deadline to challenge candidates’ petitions.)

Next month, we’ll look at the primary campaigns for the legislature and Congress.

 

The Republicans

In 1967, John Schmidt graduated from law school into a nation rocked by the civil rights movement and increasingly divided by a war, two issues which would soon occupy a good deal of the newly minted attorney’s energy. 

Lisa Madigan, too, would earn her law degree and wade into the big social and political issues of her time, but not for a while. For her, 1967 was the year she turned 1.

Pages