Illinois Budget 2.06.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at Please check in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.

If your paper has a story, digest item, opinion piece or standalone photo to share, please e-mail it to

Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343,


Video: NASCAR page to launch Tuesday with new content.

Q&A: How the Canton Daily Ledger successfully handles regular Web updates.


President Obama's appearance a hot ticket

SPRINGFIELD – One would-be ticket buyer offered her tap-dancing daughter as entertainment. About 900 tickets sold out in January for next week’s banquet in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield, followed quickly by another 300 tickets for the overflow hall. But that hasn’t stopped people from trying, especially since Monday’s announcement that President Barack Obama will be the featured speaker on Thursday. By Tim Landis of the State Journal-Register.


For Sunday:

HOSPITAL DELAY: Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest has helped stall a complicated tax plan where hospitals and state government benefit from a big influx of federal Medicaid money, leaving nearly $1 billion on the table and some hospitals in the lurch because they've counted on getting the money by now. When will this be resolved, and what does it mean for hospital services and patients? By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol bureau. For use Sunday. With a breakout looking at how the hospital tax plan works.

STATEHOUSE INSIDER: By Doug Finke of the State Capitol bureau. For use Sunday.

For Monday:

OPEN RECORDS: After regularly battling with the Blagojevich administration, Attorney General Lisa Madigan urges new Gov. Pat Quinn to make open records issues a priority of his administration and talks about her efforts to rewrite the Freedom of Information Act to limit widespread abuses. By Ryan Keith of the State Capitol bureau. For use Monday.

STATE OFFICERS: Governor Pat Quinn, State Senate President John Cullerton, Secretary of State Jesse White, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, and State Comptroller Dan Hynes will be attending a meeting of the Democratic Party of DuPage County. Suburban Life Publications. Will be posted Sunday evening.


State Briefs. News from around the state.

Bill would target professors with violent past

SPRINGFIELD – The story of protestor-turned-professor William Ayers was enough to send state Sen. Larry Bomke to the legislative drawing board. Bomke, R-Springfield, is pushing Senate Bill 41, which would prevent Illinois universities that accept state funds from employing anyone who has  “committed an act of violence” against the state or federal government. By Eric Naing of the State Capitol bureau.

Wad of cash found in donation to Goodwill

SPRINGFIELD – People who donate to Goodwill have been known to forget the odd $20 or even $100 in a pocket or cookie jar. But Sheryl Huneke, an employee at Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries, found thousands of apparently overlooked dollars in a donated item on Wednesday. By Dave Bakke of the State Journal-Register.


Chrysler production to stop again next week

BELVIDERE – Chrysler LLC is adjusting production again at its Belvidere assembly plant, deciding to close the plant next week instead of operating one shift. The plant was closed from Dec. 19 until Jan. 26, and this week, just one shift is in operation as Chrysler tries to align production with the global slowdown in auto sales. By Alex Gary of the Rockford Register Star.

Cat: Stimulus could restrict foreign trade

PEORIA – Leaving protectionist language in any economic stimulus package could have the opposite effect in the long run by possibly leading to trade wars, believes Caterpillar Inc. Likening the "Buy American" provisions still contained in economic stimulus bills being negotiated in Congress to "economic snake oil," company spokesman Jim Dugan said it could cause foreign trade to be stymied, if not halted. The impact on Caterpillar jobs here and abroad as well as other U.S.-based companies could be devastating, he said. By Paul Gordon of the Peoria Journal Star.


Volunteers send some love overseas

PEORIA – It's a familiar scene for Patti Smith and her cohorts. A row of boxes filled with goodies, letters from children and others and dozens upon dozens of postal shipping boxes. No, it's not Operation Santa, but another effort by Smith to send valentines to GIs overseas, including several thousand from Illinois. Dubbed Citizen SAM, short for Citizen Support for America's Military, the idea is to include everyone who wants to help, regardless of whether they have any affiliation with a service branch. By Andy Kravetz of the Peoria Journal Star.

Exercise enthusiast inspires heart patients

ROCKTON – Two elements of Pam Phillips' life have become essential for her. She works out three to four hours a day, and twice a month she takes her turn as a volunteer in SwedishAmerican Hospital’s Mended Hearts program, visiting patients recovering from open-heart surgery. Phillips was on an operating table herself five years ago at Rockford Memorial Hospital. By Mike DeDoncker of the Rockford Register Star.

New popcorn flavors revive an old favorite

Popcorn is expanding into new culinary realms with flavors from Asian to Tex-Mex. In homage to the mighty little kernel, we share popcorn’s official resource for recipes and highlight some of the suburbs’ hot retail spots for the gourmet morsel. By Renee Tomell of Suburban Life Publications.

Women urged to be aware of heart disease

SPRINGFIELD – LaTosha Caldwell thought she was too young to have a heart attack. The 34-year-old mother of three children was returning home to Jacksonville from a vacation in August 2007 when she started to feel a cramping sensation in her chest. Caldwell ignored the pain as it moved from her chest to shoulder and down her left arm over the course of three days. When she went to the emergency room, Caldwell faced a stunning reality: she had suffered a heart attack. By Andrew Thomason of the State Capitol Bureau.


BRITT: Toon on the stimulus package.

Wood on Words: Intimidated by English? Focus on the Fab Five

As a copy editor for about 35 years, I have spent much of my time agonizing over such details as where commas should go and what should be capitalized. There are many challenges in English within such large categories as punctuation, spelling, word meanings, agreement and sentence structure. I think it’s unlikely anyone can master them all.

Elizabeth Davies: Guys, it’s time to get romantic

Listen up, guys: Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, in case you hadn’t noticed the bright red signs that have been hanging in store windows since Dec. 26. If there’s a woman of any sort in your life — a wife, girlfriend, daughter, mother or sister — you are required by social law to acknowledge this date in some way. It’s not that the Hallmark police will come after you if you let Feb. 14 pass without a nod. But trust me when I say that the woman in your life will begrudgingly notice your lack of effort.

Michelle Teheux: Spring is on the way...right?

A gardening catalog hit my desk this week, just as the overnight wind chill hit about 20 degrees below zero. My eyes went over the pictures of colorful fruits and vegetables like a pervert perusing porn. It appears the seed catalog people have faith that spring is actually coming this year, and I hope they’re right.

Editorial: Burris hasn't made it easy to get in touch

Three weeks ago, Roland Burris was sworn in as Illinois' junior senator. Despite his controversial appointment, he promised to do his best for Illinois. He could start by answering the phone. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: Reopen parks, fix the DNR

Gov. Pat Quinn didn’t have to look far to find the professional leadership he has consistently said is needed in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Quinn picked his senior policy adviser, Marc Miller, to lead the agency that has been decimated by cuts made under the administration of Rod Blagojevich. Miller, 39, is not a political hack like the directors Blagojevich chose. He is a good choice: He has the credentials and experience to revive the agency. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.

Editorial: Granberg has a chance to put ethics first

The public probably is more cynical than ever about state government after the removal of Rod Blagojevich as governor. Its faith in government has been shaken to its core. That’s why it would send quite a message if former Rep. Kurt Granberg declined to take the hefty pension boost to which he is apparently entitled after serving less than a month as director of the Department of Natural Resources. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.

Editorial: No ignoring smoking ban

Might this be the last editorial this page writes about the Smoke Free Illinois Act? With his first pen stroke as the state’s chief executive, Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday signed the bill that should remove the last impediment to enforcing the state’s year-old, comprehensive indoor smoking ban. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.


SUNDAY QUICK SHOTS: By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star.


DEVELOPING TOUGHNESS: As an assistant under former Purdue coach Gene Keady, Illinois' Bruce Weber showed teams how to develop toughness. The Illini need some of that these days. After losing the last four road games, including the last two where they weren't competitive, the Illini could use some backbone. By John Supinie. Will be posted this evening.

For Sunday

GETTING MOORE: Purdue sophomore E'Twaun Moore is trying to play his way out of the shadows of former rival Eric Gordon. Moore won a state title and helped Purdue finish second in the Big Ten last season ahead of Indiana, but Gordon became the state's favorite player. Serves as Illinois-Purdue preview. With preview capsule. By John Supinie. Will be posted Saturday afternoon.

For Monday

GAME STORY: Illinois vs. Purdue. Tipoff at noon. Game story with quotes and report card moving by 4:15. By John Supinie. With sidebar.