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home : insight & opinion : guest columns
April 3, 2020

Teaching the Taliban a lesson
Today in Afghanistan the Taliban are celebrating their victory over the world's largest army. It's annoying for us, but its devasting for the people who live there.
Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Pardons push limits of fair punishment
Former governor Rod Blagojevich has had his prison sentence commuted and may receive a full pardon from President Trump in the near future. This was announced the same time he pardoned former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward J. DeBartolo Jr. who pleaded guilty to bribery and extortion after agreeing to hand over $400,000 in $100 dollar bills to the governor of Louisiana for a gambling license.
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Days might be numbered for presses, but not for newspapers
Jim Nowlan and I go back a long way, and I can't think of anyone I know who I respect more. That being said, I have a much less dystopian view of the future of newspapers, and particularly community journalism, than the one Jim shared his piece, "Stop the hand-wringing over decline of newspapers," a couple weeks ago. We are a much better product than we give ourselves credit for, and for those committed to community journalism, I believe we have a much brighter future than what some might think.
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Stone sentence illustrates court problem
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines went into effect while I was serving as a Judicial Clerk to a federal judge here in Illinois. The judge had been on the bench since Carter had nominated him and this was some years later. One of the policy changes the new administrations thought needed was to remove discretion from judges when it came to sentencing.
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Why not wait until votes are counted?
I recall waiting up to hear if Eisenhower had been elected president. It was exciting because it was the first time I was allowed to stay up late. The radio announcer kept reminding the listeners that it was important to wait until all of the votes were counted and tabulated before the winner could be announced, and mentioned an earlier election in which Dewey was thought to have defeated Truman and how newspaper headlines saying as much got it wrong.
Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Does Illinois need a national park?
There are 61 national parks. California has nine. Illinois has none.

In the past couple of years, the Arch in St. Louis and the Dunes in northwestern Indiana have both been designated as national parks. Illinois had better rattle its tin cup out in D.C., as it appears to be "let's get a park" season.

Do you have any nominees? I do.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Letting go of, and holding onto, the past
I have a better than average memory - at least as far as I recall. I also have a habit of keeping things from my past, partly because we moved around a good deal when I was little and I learned that show and tell wasn't just for kindergarten. "That's right, this rock came from the Alamo..." and such things always added a distraction to the desire to be looked at less critically.
Monday, January 20, 2020

More curbs for lobbyists are needed
Remember as a teen when you devised a strategy to convince your old man to let you have the family car to go on a date Saturday night? You we're lobbying, trying to get what you wanted. We're all lobbyists.
Wednesday, January 15, 2020

'Average' not good enough for our schools anymore
In a recent column, I noted that most, not all, downstate school districts perform below statewide averages on 11th-grade English and math tests. I didn't blame anyone, instead noting that performance is directly correlated to the household incomes within each district; the lower the average incomes, the lower the test scores.
Tuesday, January 7, 2020

It's easier to start a war than to keep a peace
We assassinated an Iranian general Thursday night while he met with some local militia leaders at the airport in Iraq. We claim he was responsible for the recent attack on our embassy and for other such terrorist attacks in the past targeting Americans and their interests. This was ordered by the president who tweeted an American flag afterward.
Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Friday's a special day to remember our POW/MIAs
Sept. 21 is POW/MIA Day - a day to recognize our nation's prisoners of war and those missing in action. It is a day set aside to salute the men and women who have served and sacrificed to keep America free, and to recognize the families of our missing service members (who continue to hope and pray that their loved ones will someday come home).
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Intern expands her horizons with Daily News gig
I wasn't sure what to expect this summer. After all, I was entering a town I wasn't familiar with, and I was starting my second newspaper internship.
Friday, August 17, 2007

Preservation is an opportunity
How magnificent it would be in the not too distant future - two, five, 10 years from now - to be able to market Robinson by saying, "We have preserved our old high-school gym built in 1938 by the Public Works Administration..."
Friday, August 10, 2007

Little worth celebrating in rate deal
Like most sports fans, we have a true appreciation and even admiration for gifted athletes. Over our many years of watching all types of sporting events, we've seen talented men and women make plays and set records that still, to this day, leave us wondering how they did it.
Friday, August 3, 2007

Springfield mess: it's not the process, it's the people
Since the Illinois General Assembly's spring session passed the May 31 deadline and lurched into overtime, a growing chorus of media outlets, special interests and taxpayers are declaring "the system is broken."
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Overtime session: Casinos may play part in solution
It was indeed an interesting week in Springfield leading up to the May 31 budget deadline. A budget did not pass both the House and Senate before the deadline, so it seems that any budget that is passed will now take a super-majority rather than a simple majority.
Thursday, June 7, 2007

Power-rate 'relief' doesn't fix the larger problem
It has now been almost five months since Ameren and Commonwealth Edison customers saw their electric rates spike in January. In Springfield, this issue has been the subject of much discussion and heated debate, but very little action. While members of both parties have pushed for rate relief in varying forms, the state's leaders have thus far refused to work together to allow for any solution.
Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tough decisions needed this week on state budget
With the deadline for a budget to be completed looming Thursday, there are very few who believe an agreement will be reached before the scheduled end to the 2007 spring session of the Illinois General Assembly.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Prospect of late session only part of budget puzzle
Most of the discussions in Springfield this past week centered on the realization that now that the governor's gross-receipts tax has been defeated, a budget still must be crafted within the next couple of weeks to avoid an overtime session of the General Assembly. The scheduled adjournment date for the spring session is May 31.
Thursday, May 24, 2007

Few options left to deal with tax, spending issues
The biggest news in Springfield this week was the House Committee of the Whole hearing regarding the governor's proposed gross-receipts tax and the vote the following day that pronounced unanimous opposition to the plan.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Laying down lives for strangers is what cops are all about
The Bible tells us in John 15:13 that Â""greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends."

Friday, May 4, 2007

Finger-pointing continues on power rate issue
Another week has passed by without final action by the General Assembly on the electric rate issue.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Legislators have plenty of gun bills to consider
Last week, I mentioned that a bunch of gun-related bills are awaiting consideration. Since I have not focused much on gun-related bills in any of my columns and there was no legislative action last week, I will review gun legislation this week.
Thursday, April 12, 2007

Who wants to talk about spending?
As the Illinois General Assembly's 2007 session progresses, several topics of importance are beginning to dominate the debate in the Capitol. But by far the most prominent discussion is whether a major tax increase will be enacted, and if so, how much that may be.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Democrats coming out against GRT
Claiming that he "has the Lord on his side" in his attempt to impose the largest tax increase in Illinois history, Gov. Rod Blagojevich continues to trumpet the virtues of the implementation of a gross-receipts tax in Illinois.
Thursday, March 29, 2007

A confession: In praise of cowboys
I've got a confession to make: I am not a cowboy - and never was.

Oh, I wear cowboy boots, Levis, Western belts and shirts and don't get my hair cut much. But I am not a authentic cowboy, even though I got my first pair of cowboy boots when one of my father's friends gave me a pair of his when I was about eight and helped out on the farm.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

'Current Occupant' out of touch on taxes
"Brother, can you spare a dime?"

That may be the refrain of Illinois small business after another four years of Democrat Rod Blagojevich.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Gross-receipts tax a 'dangerous' way to raise revenue
Last week, Gov. Rod Blagojevich delivered a combined "State of the State" speech and budget address. This week, I will concentrate on providing you with information on the budget proposal and try to update you on where the electric rate issue stands.
Thursday, March 15, 2007

1,000 bills filed in House so far as session starts
The first week of session for the 95th General Assembly is over. The renovation of the Capitol delayed the start of session for a few weeks. However, the renovation did not slow down the filing of potential legislation.
Thursday, February 15, 2007

Spring session brings lots of new initiatives
When members of the House of Representatives return to Springfield on Feb. 6, hundreds of bills will already have been filed for consideration. Committees will begin to hear testimony on these proposals and important legislative deadlines will start to occur. I count on constituents to contact me with their feelings about proposals.
Thursday, January 25, 2007

Democracy Project puts 'we the people' back in control
Last week, I described a real problem that I believe exists in the current process regarding the way certain legislation is pushed through the General Assembly.
Thursday, January 11, 2007

Flawed legislation, and process, led to power-rate mess
Well, the seemingly never-ending war of words between House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones over the impending electric rate increases continues.
Friday, January 5, 2007

Reviving draft is an ill-advised idea
I return for service in the 110th Congress Jan. 3 and a very different world it will be.

The leaders of this new Congress have promised many changes involving health care, taxes, ethics reform and other issues.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Better compromise needed on rates
Before I get into this week's column regarding legislative news, I want to wish everyone a happy new year! My sincere wish is that 2007 is the best year yet for you and yours!
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Allowing huge increases not an option
Week 2 of the fall veto session was much more active as far as important legislative proposals being debated and acted upon than was the first week. The 94th General Assembly has adjourned until Sunday, Jan. 7 at 3 p.m.
Monday, December 4, 2006

Best solution is to 'phase in' power rate increase
Over the past several weeks, there has been a great deal of discussion, debate, and political rhetoric concerning what consumers in Illinois will be paying for electricity beginning next year.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Lots of history, not much action in first week
As expected, Week 1 of the fall veto session was more notable because of the location than the legislative action.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Power rates electrify veto session
As I mentioned last week, there are really only a couple of pieces of legislation that will be the subject of veto override attempts.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Veto of sex-offender bill will be reviewed
Last week, I mentioned that there are only a handful of bills vetoed by the governor that will likely be voted upon this fall during the veto session in an effort to override the governor's veto.
Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Veto session: Just about anything can happen
We are in the final weeks leading up to the fall election, but it is also soon time for the General Assembly to meet in what is known as the "Fall Veto Session."
Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Being "at peace" is a choice we make
Sunday morning, and that familiar whine let me know that it must be 5:30.
Thursday, August 10, 2006

Students from abroad bring the world home to us
Maybe, like me, you've yearned to experience the grandeur of Europe, the stateliness of Russia, the traditional customs of Asia.
Monday, July 17, 2006

The new state budget: perception won't pay the bills
Now that the 2006 spring legislative session has concluded, lawmakers are back home in their districts visiting with constituents, discussing what occurred over the last four months in Springfield, and soliciting their feedback.
Thursday, May 25, 2006

Budget passes, but tough issues remain
As anticipated, the FY 2007 Illinois budget was pushed through the General Assembly last week and the spring session of the General Assembly came to an end.
Thursday, May 11, 2006

Crawford County soldier tells his side of the Iraq war
My parents recently submitted my picture to the Daily News with a few lines regarding my recent deployment to Iraq. Over the past couple of weeks I have received e-mails from folks back in Robinson, most of whom I haven't spoken with for a number of years.
Monday, May 8, 2006

Chicago bunch will have the last say on budget
Before I get started this week on updating you regarding issues in Springfield, I want to take a moment and thank some very special people for their work.
Monday, May 1, 2006

50th birthday didn't come with all the facts
I don't know when it all started, but as I recall, I do remember the look of pity on the faces of those over 50 at my 50th birthday party.
Monday, May 1, 2006

Eminent-domain bill has protection for property owners
The House of Representatives met for only two days last week and is scheduled to meet two days this week. While there was not much news on progress related to the budget, an important bill did pass related to the topic of eminent domain.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Garden hose helps in flash-flood resuce
On Saturday, April 8, I was on my way home from work when I started to pass by the road that I usually take to work which had been flooded from overflow of the Embarras River that morning.
Monday, April 10, 2006

Lawmakers late, but not "overtime"
The originally scheduled adjournment date for the 2006 Illinois General Assembly was last Friday, April 7. Because of continuing problems constructing a budget for FY 2007, the General Assembly will meet beyond the original adjournment date.
Monday, April 10, 2006

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