During the last scheduled night of the spring legislative session, a reporter decided to step outside for a smoke.

While he was outdoors, he tried to catch a glimpse inside the governor's office.

In one window, the reporter saw Deputy Governor Bradley Tusk talking to someone on the telephone.

In a spectacular reversal of fortune, the Chicago Tribune reported last week that Governor Rod Blagojevich's job-approval rating has dropped to just 40 percent.

In February, a Tribune poll had Blagojevich's approval rating at 55 percent.

Something really stinks at CMS.

The latest scandal to hit the powerful Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) revolves around a lucrative contract to manage health-care costs for tens of thousands of state workers and their families.

Part of me cheered when Governor Rod Blagojevich took a shot at Chicago Mayor Richard Daley last week.

In case you haven't heard, last Monday, Daley announced that he wanted a huge, land-based, city-owned casino.

There's always a soap opera at the Illinois statehouse, but this year's version is a bit crazier than usual.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan is killing off Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich's proposals left and right.

The concept of "racial slippage" is back, and it's being misapplied to Illinois.

Racial slippage describes a situation of minority candidates doing worse than the polls predict. According to the theory, some white voters lie to pollsters and tell them they support a black candidate because they might be embarrassed to admit that they aren't going to vote for an African American.

With all the breathless coverage of the Illinois Gaming Board's decision to put a riverboat in Rosemont, a big story has been completely ignored.

Why did the board's staff twist so many facts, ignore so many problems, and neglect to look into serious mob ties in order to put a casino next door to Rosemont, in Des Plaines?

You don't have to look much further for proof that staff favored Des Plaines than its selection of the casino-bidding finalists.

For well over two years, John Daley's 11th Ward organization has carried state Representative Patricia Bailey (D-Chicago) on its back. Daley is Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's brother.

Bailey's mother was one of a very small handful of influential African Americans who endorsed Rich Daley during his first successful mayoral race in 1989.

Last fall, Governor Rod Blagojevich took a brief but nasty beating in the Chicago media.

Thick smoke from a super-hot fire killed nine people in a Loop office high-rise. One of the building's managers, Elzie Higginbottom, was a Blagojevich campaign contributor, and when the city and the county dragged their collective investigatory feet, the media demanded that the governor step in.

Illinois Bell, Ameritech, SBC. Whatever you call it, the phone company's name appears to be mud with at least some Illinois voters.

Last year, you might remember, Texas-based mega-corporation SBC muscled a bill through both the Illinois House and Senate that opponents claimed would double some local phone bills.

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