Statehouse

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

I sometimes wonder what my great-grandfather thought when he caught sight of that first car coming down the road. Its likely he kept his thoughts to himself. He certainly kept his old black buggy. For some 30 years, until the day he died, it gathered dust in the dim recesses of the barn. Perhaps he wasnt ready to let go of the past. Perhaps he wanted to hedge his bets on an uncertain future. Or perhaps he just couldnt bring himself to throw out something that had once been useful. 

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois has packed away the prisoners. So has the rest of the nation. 

Since 1978, this state has almost quadrupled the rate at which criminal offenders are incarcerated. But that's consistent with other states for the time period, one in which crime rates boomed and legislators responded with tougher penalties for criminals. 

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The terrorist attacks that toppled the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City some eight weeks ago also dealt a serious blow to the state's fiscal well-being. The economic fallout from the attacks, coming as the state already was feeling the impact of a slumping economy, led Gov. George Ryan and administration budget officials to take belt-tightening steps not seen since the fiscal crisis of a decade ago. 

Illinois Issues remembers...9/11/01

Oct 1, 2001

Hector Lamas can buy a pair of shoes without using his entire paycheck, a small but sure step toward achieving the American Dream. To take that step, he left Mexico in 1994, arriving a short time later in Fairmont City, barely a dot on the road map.

Rep. Jack Davis wanted to add one more capital crime. Too many children were being killed, he said, and their murderers should pay with their lives. 

The Beecher Republican was trying to convince the Illinois House the time had come to expand the scope of the death penalty statute they had enacted a few years earlier. Child killers, he argued, deserve the same fate as cop killers and contract murderers and the five other types of offenders the legislature had identified as terrible enough to deserve this state’s ultimate punishment.

Ed Wojcicki
WUIS/Illinois Issues

I felt a bit uncomfortable strolling to the library lawn here at the University of Illinois at Springfield. It was September 14, the national day of prayer and remembrance, and I'm not used to gathering with colleagues for a solemn service. I didn't know what to expect. I wasn't sure of my role. 

I realized later that, in this context, I am a follower, along with millions of others. It's a role that many are not accustomed to. There are thousands of books on leadership, Garry Wills once wrote, but none on followership. 

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The picture of the mosque shown on the network news that terrible week of September 11 looked familiar. And for good reason. Just last summer, Illinois Issues featured the Mosque Foundation in the southwest suburban community of Bridgeview, part of the magazine’s ongoing series of assessments on social and cultural shifts in our state. 

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The game had just begun. Secretary of State Jesse White reached into a stovepipe hat, a replica of one worn by Abraham Lincoln, and pulled out Michael Bilandic’s name, giving the Democrats an upper hand in shaping the boundaries of the state’s senator-ial and representative districts for the next 10 years.

Democrats, who gained a fifth member on the special commission convened to redraw those districts, cheered. Republicans, left with four members, solemnly made their way out the doors of the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Chicago politicians spend a lot of time decrying and denying the decades-old description of their home town as the most segregated city in the north. Then, every 10 years, they put a lot of effort into proving it. 

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

When Secretary of State Jesse White drew the name of former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Michael Bilandic out of a stovepipe hat last month to give Democrats control of legislative redistricting, the response among that party’s representatives on hand seemed rather subdued compared to the partisan exuberance seen in the past.

Perhaps their response was muted out of deference to the venue: The drawing was conducted in the House chamber of the Old State Capitol, where Abraham Lincoln gave his “House Divided” address.

For the first time this fall, welfare watchers will get a hard look at how Illinois’ unemployed poor are faring in finding and keeping work. Lawmakers are due to get the second, and more detailed, phase of a six-year tracking study in November. And that’s when the hard work will begin — for policy-makers as well as recipients.

It’s Sunday morning and there’s standing room only at St. Alexius Catholic Church in Beardstown. Young Mexican immigrant families overflow the pews, the aisles, the balcony and even the foyer. As the Rev. Gene Weitzel blesses communion bread and wine, a nun translates into Spanish. Between prayers, musicians strum an acoustic guitar and rattle a tambourine. There’s no organ music here.

Cutting Edge: Illinois is poised to buy a glass house

Sep 1, 2001

It can be described as a fishbowl on stilts or a jewel set in a forest. 

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the Farnsworth House as a place of solace where the elements of nature meet the ideals of modern architecture. And in many regards his house has always been a place where opposing forces meet. 

Ed Wojcicki
WUIS/Illinois Issues

You vote; nearly all of you do. You give money to political campaigns; most of you do.

Half of you have at least a master’s degree, and most of the rest of you have a bachelor’s degree.

We learned all of that in a recent survey of Illinois Issues subscribers. We are grateful to our business manager, Chris Ryan, for analyzing the results. It was our first readership survey in five years. I promised to tell you about those results, so I am summarizing them here.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

To many of us, welfare reform is a story about numbers: How many are still on the rolls; how many have found work. To some, it's a story about politics or history, the latest chapter in an evolving social policy. 

That's to be expected. The new rules governing the unemployed poor don't touch most of us personally. Numbers, politics and history are more readily grasped. Still, what happens over the next year in Congress and the legislature will touch hundreds, if not thousands, of Illinoisans' lives. 

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Medicaid expenses are booming. Illinois lawmakers know that. Now they know other states are dealing with the same problem.

At the National Conference of States Legislatures’ annual meeting last month in San Antonio, legislators from all 50 states learned they’re in the same boat. Across the board, Medicaid is eating up a greater share of the states’ budgets. And the end is nowhere in sight.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

As the 2001 baseball season winds down, fans across the nation are saying farewell to a pair of the game’s best, Baltimore Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken Jr. and San Diego Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn.

In similar fashion, the Illinois political scene is losing one of its top performers with the decision by Gov. George Ryan not to seek a second term.

Ed Wojcicki
WUIS/Illinois Issues

As the summer heat sets in, my thoughts drift to baseball. They drift back 13 years, to 1988 when the Illinois legislature adopted a last-minute plan to build a new Comiskey Park for the Chicago White Sox. That prevented the Sox from moving to Florida.

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

If the scene had played out in a theater, it could have been called absurd. But it wasn’t drama, it was Illinois politics.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Before last November, most Americans saw voting as a fairly straightforward, uncomplicated act of civic duty. Folks went to the polls and punched their ballots, then tuned in to the evening news or read the morning paper to find out who won, all without giving much thought to what happened in between.

Joliet Rising Cover
John Randolph / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Two decades ago Joliet faced an economic crisis.

A national depression hammered industry and related businesses, and layoffs pushed the local unemployment rate near 25 percent, the highest of any municipality in the country. City Hall ran late on health insurance premiums for its own employees. And the housing market hit bottom. In 1982, only 16 homes were built in this city southwest of Chicago.

"Things got so bad then that they could only issue us one bullet," says Joliet Mayor Arthur Schultz, a police lieutenant at the time.

As Chicago moves through its largest building boom since the Great Fire of 1871, developers, planners and longtime residents have been trying to maneuver around a zoning code last revised in 1957.
Jon Randolph

For more than seven years, the Rev. Liala Beukema watched as Lakeview, a gentrifying neighborhood north of Chicago's Loop, steadily changed. Large parcels designated for industrial use became vacant lots, and developers, with an eye to the next upscale townhouse or condominium development, swooped in to push zoning modifications through the City Council.

"This trend was really eliminating a lot of potential for economic and job development in this area," says Beukema, a former pastor who now works for the Logan Square

Question & Answer: Audrey McCrimon

Jun 1, 2001

Audrey McCrimon

An assistant to the secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services, Audrey McCrimon has a variety of responsibilities that make her an advocate for persons with disabilities. She calls herself an "advocrat."

McCrimon was the co-recipient of the Motorola Excellence in Public Service Award in 2000. The award is co-sponsored by the North Business and Industrial Council and Illinois Issues.

Ed Wojcicki
WUIS/Illinois Issues

We weren't alone in predicting that the big issues in this spring's legislative session might be rewriting telecommunications law, doling out education funding and drawing new legislative maps.

As you can tell from the Legislative Checklists in this issue (pages 8-9) and in recent months, the legislature has dealt with numerous other matters. Our new bureau chief, Aaron Chambers, has done an admirable job of following the action.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

This June edition of the magazine represents a milestone for me. Seventy-five in just under seven. That's the number of issues I've edited from start to finish since I came on staff in the summer of '94. It's an arbitrary marker for sure, and a personal one. But as we approach the end of another publication year, this milestone affords as good a time as any to take stock.

Briefly

Jun 1, 2001
Lowery Handy and James Jones behind his home on the colony grounds
Handy Writer's Colony Collection, University of Illinois at Springfield

Legislative checklist

People

Jun 1, 2001
Chuck Jefferson now represents Rockford in the Illinois House.
Office of the speaker of the Illinois House

SHIFTS AT THE TOP

Tressa Pankovits of Chicago is now press secretary for Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood. Pankovits will work out of the Chicago office. She has been a news and political reporter for WBBM-AM and WBBM-TV in Chicago and for CLTV news.

Jennifer Battle of Springfield has joined the lieutenant governor's staff as a deputy press secretary in the capital city. She has been a reporter and anchor for WICS-TV in Springfield.

David Kohn of Mundelein left Wood's office. He had been director of communications in Chicago.

Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley faced no problems as he wrapped up his 12th full year in office last April. And that could be a problem.

While comparisons might seem unfair, they're sometimes fun, and this may be a good time to take a closer look at where Daley stands in his apparent Mayoralty For Life � in comparison, of course, to where his father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, stood 12 years into what would become his 21-year reign at City Hall.

Simply put, Daley The First faced plenty of problems.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

As Illinois lawmakers start a long summer recess, the $53.4 billion budget they left behind for the fiscal year starting July 1 leads to an inescapable conclusion: Austerity, like beauty, must lie in the eye of the beholder.

After weeks of dire warnings about an extremely tight budget year, repeated calls for belt-tightening and trial balloons proposing no new or expanded programs and no new money for bricks-and-mortar, the final fiscal year 2002 budget stands some $3.4 billion higher than the request Gov. George Ryan made in February.

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