Marcus Jackson/About Town: Sam's the man

CHAMPAIGN — Among the regulars at Sam's Cafe, the modest downtown diner, are athletes from the University of Illinois. Oftentimes, they'll complain to owner/chef Sam Issa, about having to wake up before dawn for 5:30 a.m. workouts or weightlifting sessions.

George Will: Museum or shrine? It's Cooperstown's call

WASHINGTON — Many Americans are more thoughtful when choosing appliances than when choosing presidents, but the baseball writers whose ballots decide who is "enshrined" — more about that verb anon — in Cooperstown's Hall of Fame are mostly conscientious voters struggling to unravel a knotty puzzle: How to treat retired players who are known or suspected to have used performance enhancing drugs

Dan Corkery: Bald eagles making central Illinois their home

If you're a bald eagle, Illinois is a good place to spend the winter.

Open rivers, fish, roadkill, and plenty of trees for shelter.

A recent estimate put Illinois' winter eagle population over 3,000. Of the other 49 states, only Alaska has more (thousands more).

Jim Dey: St. Clair County caught up in another scandal

November's judicial election in St. Clair County, across the Mississippi River from the St. Louis area, was supposed to help clean up the mess in its court system.

But there are limits to the cleansing effects of the casting on ballots. The mess in place before the election has been compounded by events that have occurred after the election.

Scott Reeder: 'Compromise' is no compromise at all

SPRINGFIELD — For a few minutes earlier this month, I received a dollop of hope when word trickled out of the statehouse that the Republican and Democrat leaders in the state Senate had been negotiating a compromise behind the backs of Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Dan Corkery: Indiana residents: Just call them Hoosiers

To the Boilermakers of Purdue University.

You're Hoosiers.

To the people of Columbus, Ind., who care more about architecture than sports.

You're Hoosiers.

And to the thousands who fled Illinois for lower taxes and more stable government in Indiana.

You're Hoosiers, too.

The federal government says so.

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.

George WIll: PTO's assault on free speech

WASHINGTON — In 1929, Chief Justice William Howard Taft convinced Congress to finance construction of "a building of dignity and importance" for the Supreme Court. He could not have imagined what the court will ponder during oral arguments this Wednesday. The case concerns the name of an Asian-American rock band: The Slants.

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.

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.