Opinions Editor

Jim Dey is a staff writer for The News-Gazette. His email is jdey@news-gazette.com.

Listen to this article

Another round of quick takes on the people, places and things that were being talked about in the news over the past week:

‘Sub-states’ of Illinois

In a recent article for Chicago Magazine, writer Edward McClellan argued that Illinois lacks a “single, distinct statewide identity” and instead has “nine personalities in one.”

He noted that Illinois’ “450-mile length cuts across three cultural regions: the North, the Midlands and the South. Part of it is the deep urban/small-town divide, between Chicago and Downstate.”

He included Champaign County in “Corn ‘n’ Beans Country” because Illinois is the No. 1 soybean-producing state and “the counties that grew the most corn last year are McLean, with 64 million bushels, and Iroquois, with 60 million. Decatur calls itself ‘The Soybean Capital of the World,’ processing the crop at Archer Daniels Midland and Staley plants.”

Other subsections include Chicago, the Collar Counties, River Cities, Land of Lincoln, the Eastern Bloc, American Bottom, Little Egypt and Forgottonia.

They don’t like Mike

As mentioned last week in this space, Illinois politicians are teeing off on indicted former House Speaker Michael Madigan.

All manner of politicians — Democrats as well as Republicans — are trying to make political hay off Madigan’s woes now that he’s facing trial on corruption.

It’s hard to feel sorry for the Diminutive Don. Then again, cheap shots are cheap shots, no matter the target.

That’s one reason why a recent ad by a GOP gubernatorial candidate, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, deserves mention.

Trying to boost his campaign by exploiting Madigan’s unpopularity, Irvin recently appeared in a commercial armed with pruning shears and promising to cut “wasteful spending,” property taxes, crime and state debt.

“One thing I won’t cut is Mike Madigan’s prison term. If he’s convicted, I’m not commuting his sentence, because what Madigan and (Gov.) J.B. Pritzker have done to Illinois is criminal,” he said.

Viewers can make what they like to Irvin’s promise to improve state government. It’s standard rhetoric.

But they can take to the bank Irvin’s promise not to reduce any prison sentence Madigan might receive if convicted — but not for the reasons Irvin suggests.

Madigan is being prosecuted in federal court for federal crime, not state court for state crimes. As governor, Irvin would have no authority to intervene in any federal sentence, whether he wanted to or not.

Ain’t what it used to be

The Illinois State Fair recently announced that musical legend Willie Nelson will perform Aug. 16. Tickets go on sale today.

If people just want to see Nelson in the flesh, they should go. His history as a performer and songwriter speaks for itself.

If they wish to hear him sing, they might want to rethink their plans.

As Nelson’s appearance along with Champaign’s Alison Krauss sadly showed, he no longer has the voice he once had.

Nelson still plays a great guitar, but he mostly speaks lyrics and doesn’t sing them.

Father Time is undefeated for a reason, and time has taken its toll.

At 89, Nelson continues to tour, a habit formed during his seven decades in the business. But readers are entitled to know what they’re buying if they choose to attend the show.

Opening for Nelson will be four-time Grammy nominee Elle King, who has collected hits on both the country and rock charts.

Not so fast

Illinois politicians rushed this week to respond to the news leak from the U.S. Supreme Court that suggested the court is on the verge of overturning the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision.

That’s the ruling that eliminated authority for states to set their own rules on abortion and legalized it in all 50 states. The leak suggested Roe will be overturned and the question returned to the states to address.

Most pols expressed either enthusiastic dislike or support for the potential of overturning Roe.

But Illinois Republican Jesse Sullivan offered the most personal response.

“When we heard the incredible news tonight, we dropped to our knees and said a prayer as a family in gratitude for all the lives that will be saved. And then we said the Pledge of Allegiance. The flag looks different after this ruling — it shines even brighter,” he said in a tweet.

Not so fast. Illinois has among the most liberal abortion laws in the country. One news piece this week asserted that if Roe is overturned, Illinois will become a “mecca” for the procedure.

Not a love story

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville — labeled “RINO Rodney” by his primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Mary Miller of Oakland — has stepped up the nasty labeling of his opponent in the June 28 Republican primary.

She calls him “RINO Rodney” — it stands for “Republican In Name Only” — and he called her “Carpet Bagger Mary” because she lives close to but not in the new 15th District where Davis resides.

Now he’s challenging the issue of where she’ll live if elected.

“Carpet-Bagger, Tax-Dodger Mary Miller Has Refused to Say If She’ll Move to IL-15 After Election And Where She’ll Move To,” he said in a recent press release.

The Miller family lives on a farm in the current 12th District. She was among those Republicans whose districts were gerrymandered by Democratic congressional map drawers.

Under the new map, Democrats stand to win 14 of 17 districts, but not the one where Davis and Miller are running.

Democrats stuffed Republicans into the 15th to ensure their party’s candidates will win other districts, including the new 13th District that includes Champaign-Urbana.

Jim Dey, a member of The News-Gazette staff, can be reached at jdey@news-gazette.com or 217-393-8251.

Trending Videos