Illinois Budget 1.12.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at www.gatehousenewsservice.com. Please check www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/news 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 Illinois@gatehousemedia.com.

Contacts:
Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343, claughman@gatehousemedia.com

INAUGURATION: If you know of people or groups in your coverage area that will be attending the inauguration, please send details to Casey Laughman at claughman@gatehousemedia.com.

GATEHOUSE NEWSROOM

The deadline to submit entries for the Best of GateHouse 2008 contest is Friday. See more details at http://www.ghnewsroom.com/award/12-days-until-best-gatehouse-2008-deadline

Michelle Teheux named editor of the Pekin Daily Times.
http://www.ghnewsroom.com/article/teheux-named-editor-pekin-daily-times

Slideshow: How Illinois papers presented the Blagojevich impeachment.
http://www.ghnewsroom.com/article/slideshow-how-illinois-newspapers-presented-blagojevich-impeachment

TODAY’S SPOTLIGHT

In hard times, customer service becomes even more important

ROCKFORD – Business owners may not be able to control the stock market or unemployment rates or the cost of gas. But when it comes to staying in business, they must keep a tight leash on at least one critical aspect: how they treat their customers. By Sean F. Driscoll of the Rockford Register Star. To localize: See how local businesses are relying on service to keep customers.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x512383774

ILLINOIS NEWS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/news

State Briefs. News from around the state. Will be posted this evening.

LEGISLATURE: Both the House and Senate are back in session Monday for the final two days of the old General Assembly, but it's unclear how much work they'll be trying to get done as they grapple with the impeachment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and get ready for a new legislature to be seated Wednesday. By Doug Finke of the State Capitol bureau. Will be posted this evening.

IMPEACHMENT: Central Illinois state senators weigh in on the upcoming impeachment trial of Gov. Rod Blagojevich. By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol bureau. Will be posted this evening.

Fairgrounds fixed, but age still a concern

SPRINGFIELD – The underground electrical system at the Illinois State Fairgrounds is fixed, but even the fairgrounds’ staunchest supporters concede the aging facility might be prone to more breakdowns. However, a year after dozens of events were forced to move or cancel by electrical problems that shut down the fairgrounds for more than two months, fair officials say they are ready for 2009. By Tim Landis of the State Journal-Register.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x743980844

ILLINOIS BUSINESS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois_business

Green lights all the way for these models in ’09

ROCKFORD – The auto industry weathered one of its worst years in 2008, and local dealers are more than ready to turn their attention to 2009. And with automakers offering heavy incentives, including financing deals with major banks and every credit union in the U.S., and dealers equally anxious to make deals, local dealers are saying it’s the best buyer’s market in at least 20 years. By Alex Gary of the Rockford Register Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x512383651

Peoria's empty buildings tell story of struggling economy

PEORIA – Courtney Howlett is a conservative shopper who, amid these tough economic times, realizes the holiday cheer is past. "It's scary seeing these bigger stores closed," Howlett of Tremont said last week while browsing through The Shoppes at Grand Prairie, which recently saw the closing of Linens 'n Things. "I'd rather save my money. I'm starting nursing school. It's changing my spending habits." By John Sharp of the Peoria Journal Star. To localize: Are retailers closing stores in your area? How is that affecting shoppers?
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1621243607

ILLINOIS LIFESTYLES
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois_lifestyle

Father, son doctors form rare team at SIU School of Medicine

SPRINGFIELD – Growing up in suburban Detroit, Beau Batton learned a lot about the lifestyle of a doctor by watching his father, a specialist who took care of the tiniest and sickest babies. He didn’t know at the time that he would become a doctor — and choose the same medical specialty as his father — or that they would have the chance to spend at least part of their careers together. By Dean Olsen of the State Journal-Register.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x743980744

Rehabilitation trending to longer treatment

ROCKFORD – Hailey has struggled with drug addiction for nearly half her life, and extended rehabilitation treatment has made all the difference for her in getting well. More experts agree that traditional 28- and 30-day treatment programs for substance abuse must be augmented with some form of long-term treatment, be that support meetings or outpatient services. By Melissa Westphal of the Rockford Register Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x512383630

Living la vida ‘locavore’

When you come to the dinner table tonight, try this: Give the origin of each item of food on the table -- and not the name of the grocery store. Can you name which farm produced the milk, the meat, the grains, the veggies and the strawberry dessert? By Geri Nikolai of the Rockford Register Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/features/x1017433504

Bone up on calcium

Preserving bone health in women is not as simple as popping a calcium pill. Surprisingly, ongoing research has yet to determine an exact mix of minerals and dosages and how best to ensure they are being absorbed. Here’s a look at what experts recommend to make stronger bones a snap. By Renee Tomell of Suburban Life Publications.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois_lifestyle/x1621242262

ILLINOIS OPINIONS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/opinions

BRITT: Toon on Blago, Burris and Obama. Will be posted this evening.

Jeff Vrabel: We’re ready for some (expensive) Disney magic

Big week here — we're taking the boy to Disney World. He's old enough now, and besides, it's the Happiest Place on Earth, especially if your happiness involves purchasing for $35 a lunch bucket of fries with which you could nourish a horse.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/features/x497781786

Bernard Schoenburg: Governor’s absence from Capitol part of ‘totality’

Bits and pieces of six years flashed before my eyes as I watched members of the Illinois House on Friday express their frustration with a governor who, they have now decided, has gone so far beyond the bounds of decent governance that he must be bumped from his job. That debate and Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s remarks later in the day from Chicago made it clear that a very familiar pattern was being played out. Once again, lawmakers were dealing with serious matters in Springfield while the governor was away in Chicago.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1017435479

Editorial: Inspector general law ripe for reform

Today we are waiting for details of how our state Senate will go about its impeachment trial of Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Yet even with so much still unknown, this process already has reaped benefits for open government in Illinois. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x743980681

Editorial: Learning the value of a vocal opposition

Flush with victory after the November elections, Democrats controlling the U.S. House solidified their power last week as the new Congress came into session, ramming through new rules to inconvenience minority Republicans. The move, which essentially cuts off an avenue the GOP used to influence, and sometimes halt, legislation during the last two years of Democratic control, isn't consistent with the spirit President-elect Barack Obama is trying to bring to Washington, and doesn't serve the cause of democracy. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x743980681

Editorial: Time to turn our energy to the fight in Afghanistan

Things are not going well in the oft-forgotten main theater of the United States' war on terror. By many accounts, Afghanistan is an even more war-torn and divided country than it's been since the U.S.-led offensive that toppled the Taliban in 2001. Now insurgents are challenging the U.S.-backed government for supremacy - and may be making gains. This creates a host of problems that the incoming Obama administration cannot allow to persist or grow. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/opinions/editorials/x1621243476

ILLINOIS SPORTS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/sports

MIKE NADEL: Monday's announcement that Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice will be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 - and that Mark Grace and the 20 others on the ballot won't be - got me thinking: Who among today's active ballplayers will make it? Let's handicap the field. Will be posted this evening.

NFL Quick Shots. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. Will be posted this evening.

ILLINI:

WITH THE ILLINI: Even if it's been hard for the Illini to impress the top 25 voters, they have won back the fans. Illinois sold out Assembly Hall for the first time this year last weekend, and ticket sales are limited for the rest of the season. Lead to multi-sport column. By John Supinie. Will be posted this evening.