I suppose the easy thing to do would be to follow everyone else's lead and write a column about Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's potty mouth.

So much has been written about the governor's self-proclaimed "testicular virility" that you've probably gotten the point, however.

Last year, House Speaker Michael Madigan sent a clear message to Governor Rod Blagojevich when he brought all of the governor's highly unpopular tax and fee hikes to the floor for up-or-down votes.

The governor's bills all lost by overwhelming margins, and Blagojevich was forced to back down from his demand that Madigan pass his proposals.

Illinois Republican leaders who attended a recent Will County retreat with Karl Rove were a little taken aback when the White House political guru talked excitedly about bringing Vice President Dick Cheney into Illinois to campaign on behalf of the Republican candidate for Illinois attorney general.

The scathing audit of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services that made such big headlines last week could be just the tip of the iceberg. The audit uncovered numerous problems at the agency, including some possible criminal activity, but inside sources say that there is much more to come.

Other than a handful of state employees, highway workers, Medicaid vendors, commercial-truck owners, and poor people, almost nobody out there in Voter Land has really paid much attention to the state's budget problems.

There's no violation of state law if a toxic-waste landfill is partly owned by one of the governor's in-laws, or even a nuclear-waste dump, for that matter. There's no problem with the law if a member of the governor's family owns stock in a regulated monopoly such as Commonwealth Edison or SBC.

Harsh statements and public and private threats by Senate President Emil Jones over the past two years have prompted Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson to reach out to some labor leaders.

Jones has been sharply critical of the construction trades unions, accusing them of freezing out African Americans and Latinos from apprenticeship programs and job sites.

Governor Rod Blagojevich's proposal last week to more than double the number of gaming slots at riverboat casinos in Illinois will require an enormous amount of leadership to become a reality.

Here's the rundown of the pitfalls:

• Almost all gaming bills eventually become giant legislative Christmas trees, and then usually perish because of their gross obesity.

In the race for Rock Island mayor, challenger David Kimbell is hitting some popular municipal positions: better schools, lower crime, and lower taxes. But in terms of reconciling different components of his platform, he can't explain how he'd save the $1 million to $3 million he'd like to while still finding more money for police officers.

There are eight names on the list of candidates for the Moline school board, and only three will earn seats on the board. He might not win, but pay attention to Bryn Lawrence. He's a first-year student at Augustana College running for the board of a district in which he was a student last year.