Jim Dey: Madigan ready to continue calling the shots

With a smile on his face and a bright red rose pinned to the lapel of his suit jacket, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan stood Wednesday on the brink of history.

Sundiata Cha-Jua/Real Talk: The central divide in black America

Unity has long been the cry in black America. In times of crisis, like the present, it becomes a persistent scream. Unity, however, remains elusive and perhaps will continue to be an enduring disappointment.

Jim Dey: Ruling shifts focus to second Rush hearing

When Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz declared Champaign police Officer Matt Rush to be persona non grata as a trial witness, police Chief Anthony Cobb said he had no choice but to dismiss Rush from the city's 125-member force.

Kacich: Frerichs happy where he's at

Questions for Kacich? Ask them here

State Treasurer Mike Frerichs, a Champaign Democrat, said last week that he's "not looking at" running for governor in 2018.

George Will: Obama's unforced errors on foreign policy

WASHINGTON — When Barack Obama moves 2 miles from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to 2446 Belmont Road in Washington's Kalorama neighborhood, he will live half a mile from 2340 S Street, where Woodrow Wilson spent his three post-presidential years. Wilson's embittering foreign-policy failure was the Senate's rejection of the U.S.

David Bernthal/Off the Bench: Naturalization ceremonies a time of joy

No one will be surprised to hear that there are not many happy days in a courtroom. My friends in state court get to do weddings and adoptions that for the most part are uplifting. That was not part of my federal court experience. In that setting, the feel-good days happened about four times a year, when the adversarial arena was transformed into a place of celebration.

Scott Reeder: Stretch yourself in the new year

SPRINGFIELD — Well, it's that time again when we march forward trying to keep those promises we have made for the new year.

In past years, my New Year's resolutions haven't been particularly unusual: to lose weight, read the Bible more or spend more time at the gym.

Dan Corkery: In 2017, will officials finally git 'er done?

When people talk about their New Year's resolutions, they're referring to promises or commitments they make to themselves.

Lose 20 pounds.

Take regular walks after dinner.

Finish the Christmas newsletter before St. Patrick's Day.

Sundiata Cha-Jua/Real Talk: Reflecting on African-American holidays

Like other racial-ethnic groups in the U.S., African-Americans celebrate most American holidays and they also have distinct holiday traditions. For much of our sojourn in the wilderness called America, African-Americans have of necessity and choice practiced an alternative civil calendar.

Scott Reeder: Rauner sends early message to 2018 challenger

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner is loaded for bear.

We are two years out from the 2018 elections and he deposited $50 million into his own campaign coffers. Why so much, so soon?

He's sending a message.

Whatever Democrat considers taking him on will be attacked relentlessly.

In 2014, when Rauner was elected governor, he spent $65 million.