Jim Dey: Group adds twist to state budget politics

Budget politics are complicated this year as Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic Legislature face off over what to do about the bankrupt status quo.

Dan Corkery: New life for an old tree

Joyce Kilmer never saw a poem as lovely as a tree.

But how about a commemorative bench made from that tree? Or a conference table?

Those are two of the few proposals Urbana will consider over the next year as the city decides what to do with the wood from the giant hackberry tree that lived for 150 years or more at the corner of High Street and Coler Avenue.

Talk over coffee? Can I take test instead?

WASHINGTON — I'm standing in the Starbucks line behind 10 other sleepyheads waiting to order my tall skinny cappuccino, otherwise known as a shot of coffee described as I wish to be.

Absolutely no one is talking about race.

In fact, no one is talking at all except to mumble an order while checking email.

Stereotypes too saucy

CHICAGO — The Economist's recent special report on Hispanics has stoked Latino ire with a cover featuring the stars and stripes composed of denim, stars and red hot chili peppers.

Is Illinois walking away from higher education?

"Illinois is slowly walking away from higher education," laments one long-time state government insider.

For the coming year, Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed cutting direct appropriations for our public colleges and universities by almost $400 million, or about 20 percent.

Jim Dey: Misconduct leads to one-year suspension

Lee Smolen was a top business student at the University of Illinois and a graduate of the University of Chicago law school who started practicing in 1985.

At his peak, he earned $3.5 million a year at the hot shot Chicago firm Sidley & Austin and had liquid assets between $7 million and $10 million.

George Will: Kasich waits in the wings

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ideas fly from Gov. John Kasich like sparks from a flint. While explaining his prison reforms, he interrupts himself midsentence — his sentences, like some E. E. Cummings poems, are unpunctuated — to praise a Delaware church that buys prom dresses for low-income high school girls.

Jim Dey: Maybe school funding rewrite will happen after all

Hear more from Dey Wednesday at 10 on WDWS.

Like a snowball slowly growing in size as it rolls down a hill, legislation to rewrite Illinois' school-funding formula continues to build momentum.

Jim Nowlan: Child care agency under fire once again

Ida Mae and I were classmates in our rural high school, decades ago. Ida Mae often came to school in worn, dirty clothes, but she was attractive underneath it all. I liked her, though we came from different sides of the track and didn't mix much.

Many years later I received a long, wrenching letter from Ida Mae, in which she spilled her guts about her high school years.

George Will: The prescience of Moynihan

WASHINGTON — In the mid-1960s, a social scientist noted something ominous that came to be called "Moynihan's Scissors": Two lines on a graph crossed, replicating a scissors' blades. The descending line charted the decline in the minority male unemployment rate. The ascending line charted the simultaneous rise of new welfare cases.