Dave McKinney

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Over the last few years, 13 residents of the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy have died from Legionnaires’ disease. Public radio station WBEZ this week published an investigation into problems at the home. The political reaction was swift, with calls for investigations that could last well into next year.

Illinois Department of Agriculture

Musical acts for the state fair were paid up front while the artist who sculpted the fair’s iconic butter cow is still waiting for her check. Meanwhile, an agency that helps survivors of sexual assault is in danger of closing as it waits for funding. 

Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner met for their third and final debate this week. As in previous debates, both candidates spent much of their time attacking each other and dodging questions they didn't want to answer.

Rauner campaign

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is distancing himself from the resignation of longtime Chicago Sun-Times Springfield reporter Dave McKinney. McKinney quit Wednesday, blaming the Rauner campaign for "intimidation and interference" in his reporting.

Earlier this month, the Sun-Times published a story detailing allegations of Rauner's former associate, who said Rauner threatened her and her family after a soured business deal.

Gov. Pat Quinn
WUIS/Illinois Issues

After Barack Obama became president, ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich allegedly considered appointing himself to Obama’s vacated Senate seat, partly out of frustration at being “stuck” as Illinois’ chief executive.

Arguably, Blagojevich might have been onto something when his ill-fated political brainstorming was memorialized on a federal wiretap. There truly is a certain amount of logic in not wanting to be governor of Illinois right now.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In the same 35-day span, the world saw two remarkably different faces of the Land of Lincoln.

One was Barack Obama, savoring his historic win before more than 100,000 admirers in Chicago’s Grant Park, standing as a polished and inspiring symbol of change for Illinois and America, the first African-American president. A man of honesty, the masses hoped.

When Gov. Rod Blagojevich summoned reporters to his Statehouse office during the November veto session, he ridiculed lawmakers as a bunch of “drunken sailors” for threatening to restore more than $148 million of the spending cuts he had made over the summer.

On so many levels, voters can be indifferent. In presidential elections, barely half show up at the polls. As for state government, a recent survey released by the National Conference of State Legislatures finds that more young adults can name the hometown of the fictional Simpsons than the political parties of their governors. And in Illinois, school boards and city councils nearly always meet before seas of empty chairs.

Illinois’ political cosmos was aligned to enable Democrats to seize the House, the Senate and the Executive Mansion for the first time since Dan Walker was governor in the 1970s. That’s generally considered to be good news for this state’s organized workers. And the new General Assembly’s freshman class does appear poised to transform the Statehouse into a union-friendly domain. 

Paralyzed by scandal, yet one of the most active Illinois governors in recent memory. A political version of Donald Trump in his love of the deal, yet unable to focus on the all-important details. Loved by political insiders, yet increasingly mistrusted by much of the public. These are a few of the paradoxes that define George Ryan. The most poignant, though, is that this lifelong public servant had waited an entire career to become governor, yet was never able to become the leader he had hoped after moving into the Executive Mansion.

How often does Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan chuck his suit, tie and precise lawyerly prose, don a loud, canary-yellow polo shirt, and get plain lippy? Not often, which is why a $3 ticket to the Illinois State Fair during one sultry day last August was such a bargain.

Hot Property: The Republicans

Jan 1, 2002
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

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.


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

Something historic happened in Decatur last February. For the first time in more than 40 years, voters approved a tax increase for the city's cash-strapped public schools. But even that imminent infusion of new property tax dollars wasn't enough to stop the flow of red ink. The district is pressing ahead with $7.2 million in budget cuts, including the fall layoffs of 140 teachers.

Mike Cramer

Pharmacist Mike Schaltenbrand finds himself in need of a prescription. He needs something - and soon - to soothe his ailing bottom line. 

The owner of two inner-city pharmacies in East St. Louis, Schaltenbrand has been severely affected by the state's ongoing efforts to reel in its burgeoning Medicaid budget. In the span of two months, his income has declined by 25 percent because of changes made in Springfield aimed at cutting the state's costs of providing health care services to the poor.

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.