Gov. Rod Blagojevich this week issued what was probably the longest press release The News-Gazette Capitol bureau has seen since it reopened in July 2000.
The 8-page doozy of a release announced the governor's signing of the All Kids legislation, designed to make sure no child in Illinois goes without health insurance.
It contained supportive quotes from no fewer than 34 different individuals, plus the governor.
Not counting the 50 or so words in the headline portion, the release contained 3,980 words (according to the word count tool in Microsoft Word.)
That's more words than in the Declaration of Independence (1,337), the Articles of Confederation (about 3,400) or the 1783 Treaty of Paris (about 2,000).
The governor's press release for the signing of All Kids contained even more words than the number of words added to state statutes in order to enact the new law (2,227).
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission met on Friday for the first time with seven of 10 trustees newly named by the governor.
When four of those new appointments were filed on Wednesday, Blagojevich spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch said several members had been serving on expired terms for quite some time, and "we've just been concentrating on filling them in anticipation for a meeting that is scheduled on Friday."
Some Republican lawmakers feared the meeting would feature a surprise attempt to sell off the state's secondary student loan portfolio.
But no one strayed from the planned agenda at Friday's ISAC meeting in Deerfield, according to ISAC spokeswoman Lori Reimers.
However, four people did attend the meeting to speak out against the sale of student loans, including Alice Jacobs, president of Danville Area Community College. She spoke on behalf of the Illinois Council of Public Community College Presidents. The other three speakers represented the Community College Trustees Association, the Federation of Independent Colleges and Universities and Women Employed.
Baby, it's cold outside
Almost 50 Illinois Menards stores, including those in Champaign and Danville, are offering special tips on home weatherization and energy conservation all day today as part of the governor's Keep Warm Illinois Campaign.
In addition to free advice, the stores will give out at least 10,000 free programmable thermostats, as long as supplies last. Installing such a device (worth $25 to $29) can generate an average of $100 in savings during the first year alone.
Blagojevich encouraged residents to take advantage of the free advice at Menards today or at any of the free home energy conservation workshops being offered at community colleges around the state.
Several workshops were held this week at Parkland College and Danville Area Community College, and additional dates have just been announced. The new dates - are Tuesday, Dec. 13 and Wednesday, Jan. 11. Both are scheduled for 7 p.m. Parkland will host workshops at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8 and Tuesday, Dec. 13.
The one-hour sessions, another part of the Keep Warm Illinois campaign, will cover topics such as insulation, weatherization, heating and energy-efficient appliances and lighting. Attendees will also get coupons for free programmable thermostats, according to a press release from the governor's office
Also new this week is the Keep Warm Illinois hotline, (877) 411-WARM. A Web site, www.KeepWarmIllinois.gov , was created last month.
State fair news
Winter is just beginning, but it's never too early to start thinking about the state fair, at least according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
"During the planning stages for the 2005 state fair, we reached out to the community and asked what people wanted to see at the fair," state fair manager Amy Bliefnick said this week. "We received hundreds of e-mails last year with great ideas, and as a result, we had one of the most successful grandstand lineups in fair history and a fantastic event. We want to encourage people to let us know once again what they want to see at their state fair."
Send suggestions to statefairagr.state.il.us.
Kate Clements is capitol bureau chief for The News-Gazette. Her column appears on Saturdays. You can reach her at (217) 782-2486 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .