SPRINGFIELD — One of the questions I get asked most often as an Illinois political reporter is: "What is Mike Madigan really like?"
The best answer I can give is if one were to look up the word "shrewd" in the dictionary, you'd likely see Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan staring back at you.
It's been more than three weeks since a campaign worker allegedly threatened owners of a Champaign business with political reprisal if they did not post signs touting Mayor Don Gerard's re-election.
Despite the controversy, no official action has been taken. That could change.
WASHINGTON — Smoking, said King James I in 1604, is "loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs." Three years later he planted a colony in Jamestown. Its tobacco enhanced the royal treasury until Virginia produced a bumper crop of revolutionaries, including the tobacco farmer George Washington.
Ed Scharlau isn't much for titles.
The 71-year-old jokes he's "been everything" in the local banking business and now calls himself "semi-active."
But after more than 51 years at Busey Bank, people know who he is. And they won't be surprised to learn that Scharlau will be back in front of a local audience Thursday delivering his 40th annual seminar on Champaign County's economy.
I am invited to give talks to Lions, Rotary, women's and other clubs, generally about Illinois and, particularly, its budget problems.
In recent talks, during the question period, several listeners have observed that we could save taxpayer money if we took the "undeserving" off the welfare rolls.
If you put a big pile of cash on a downtown sidewalk with a sign that reads "Take as much as you want," would anyone be surprised if it quickly disappeared?
Hyperbole aside, that's about how the state of Illinois handles its finances, as two recent prosecutions demonstrate.
Recent high-profile police shootings have put local law enforcement across the country under scrutiny. Will body cameras on police provide, as some experts think, a high-tech tool to improve behavior by both police and suspects, and thus de-escalate tensions over time?
How are you?
I wish I could say I'm fine, but I'm not.
WASHINGTON — In oral arguments Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear the government defend its kleptocratic behavior while administering an indefensible law. The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 is among the measures by which New Dealers tried and failed to regulate and mandate America back to prosperity.