Illinois Issues


Feb 1, 2001
Editor, author and Illinois native William Maxwell
Dorothy Alexander


Ray Serati of Springfield is the new deputy press secretary for Gov. George Ryan. After retiring from 33 years of service covering the Capitol for Copley News Service, Serati was media spokesman for Springfield's City Water, Light and Power. He replaces Nick Palazzolo of Springfield who left the governor's office for a position at IBM. 

Patrick E. Gauen
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Mark Von Nida knew what he wanted to do, but building a consensus was something else. Who, after all, gives a hoot about boring election machinery?

Until 30 years ago, the voters of Madison County did fine with pens, scratching an "X" beside each of their favorite candidates' names. Voting machines nearly the size of refrigerators sped up the counting in 1970. But after just eight years, officials got tired of the hauling costs and hernia risks and switched to punch cards. Those were easily portable and reasonably fast to count.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Is it, as Yogi Berra might put it, deja vu all over again for state finances in Illinois? Look at what's been happening lately. 

- State revenues, especially sales tax receipts, have been less than what lawmakers expected when they put the current budget together last April.

- Medicaid spending has been higher than anticipated, causing state officials to cut costs by reducing reimbursement rates to some providers.

Wm. S. Collins

Picture Republican Senate President James "Pate" Philip and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan setting aside their partisan rivalry in the Statehouse just long enough to settle what promises to be the spring session's most divisive issue: drawing new legislative districts.

As a matter of fact, they did chat recently about the upcoming remap. They even agreed on how awful the process is. But that's where the goodwill seemed to end - along with any chances for a peaceful spring.

Question & Answer: Chris Young

Jan 1, 2001

He is a photographer for The State Journal-Register in Springfield. His portraits of creatures and natural places are now available in Close to Home: The landscapes, wildlife and hidden beauty of central Illinois. Jiffy Johnson of public radio station WUIS/WIPA at the University of Illinois at Springfield interviewed Young about his work for her weekly program "Living in Illinois." This is an edited version of that interview.

Mike Cramer

Republicans screamed bloody murder last election night when the TV networks prematurely called Florida for Al Gore - still more proof, supporters of George W. Bush fumed, of liberal bias in the news media.

Robert W. McChesney would not buy that premise. Probably he would argue that even if it were true - if all newsrooms were populated by liberal zealots - it would hardly matter.

The ultimate symbol of money in Illinois politics is a shoe box. Even though it has been decades since the death of Secretary of State Paul Powell in 1970, and the subsequent discovery of more than $800,000 in cash in his hotel room, the image of that tattered box endures.

Miriam Santos
Mike Cramer

When former City Treasurer Miriam Santos plea-bargained her way to a single mail fraud count last November and was sentenced to the three months and 17 days she had already served in a downstate Illinois prison camp, it was noted somewhere in most news reports that she was the first Hispanic ever elected to a city-wide office in Chicago. What they didn't say was that she's likely to be the last, at least for the time being.

Ed Wojcicki
WUIS/Illinois Issues

My feeling about this new year differs from the last few, when January 1 meant little more than waking up for another day. I sense more urgency, but maybe it's just personal. I mention two items on my own wish list:

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

A once-in-a-decade legislative session. That's what Statehouse insiders are calling it, and they're not blowing smoke. A lot is riding on what happens over the next few months. For those insiders, yes. For the rest of us too.

Why? The short of it is this: It's the year of the remap and we're in for a heck of a show. The process amounts to political gamesmanship in its purest form - fun to watch, fun to report. Yet the results add up to something more.

One governor revels in pork-barrel politics, arranges sweet deals for cronies and gruffly dismisses questions about corruption. Another governor challenges the party line on abortion and guns, reaches out to blacks and gays and offers bold legislation.

And both governors are George H. Ryan.


Jan 1, 2001
Wm. S. Collins


Bears emerge as biggest
beneficiaries of veto
session benevolence


Jan 1, 2001
Gordon Pruett

Three new justices are on the state's high court

The Illinois Supreme Court became more Democratic last month after three new justices were installed in separate ceremonies in Moline, Springfield and Chicago.

Madeleine Doubek
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Addison Township Democrat Linda Bourke Hilbert ran for the DuPage County Board last fall like the placeholder she was supposed to be. She didn't knock on many doors. She didn't mail any campaign literature. On election night, Hilbert was so convinced she would lose, she paid more attention to presidential returns than her own.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Monday morning quarterbacks have been having a field day of late, ever since the lame-duck legislative session produced a new home for the Chicago Bears.

Talk-show pundits and editorial writers - most of them from outside Chicagoland - have been picking at the details of the $587 million package that relies on an existing city hotel tax to bankroll renovation of Soldier Field, the Bears' home since they moved from Wrigley Field in 1971.

George Atkinson

He started simply enough. The Illinois countryside, with its fertile fields and open sky, makes for pretty drawings in pastels. But then George Atkinson had what he calls his "epiphany," when he began to see what is mostly invisible from the Interstate, and fast disappearing from the landscape. He realized his art could express something beyond rural beauty: It could document, in a sense preserve, a way of life he saw reflected in the Midwest's dwindling number of family-owned dairy farms.

They say the book is dead. Journals and magazines, too. Newspapers? An archaic remnant of the past. In their stead, we have 97 cable channels and the World Wide Web. If the written word has any future at all, it will have to survive in cyberspace, an adjunct to the explosion of color and light that will provoke the world of the mind in the new century. People just don't read anymore. Let the hand-wringing begin.

What is the future of poetry in the prairie state of Illinois?

It would appear to be doing well for now. There was a recent Associated Press story on Lee Gurga, complete with a photograph of the nationally noted haiku poet-dentist posed with his dog and axe against a backdrop of hilly woods on his 77-acre spread near Lincoln in the central section of the state.