Those of us who live or work in Chicago high-rises have been a little freaked out lately since six people died in what at first appeared to be a routine fire at a Loop office building on October 17.

From the live television coverage, it looked like the firefighters did a good job of promptly extinguishing the blaze.

Addison Township was once king of the state's Republican hill.

The Illinois Senate President (Pate Philip), House Republican Leader (Lee Daniels), and state attorney general (Jim Ryan) all lived in the eastern DuPage County township.

A fascinating month-long political standoff might finally be coming to a close in Kankakee County.

The trouble started when Governor Rod Blagojevich promised state Representative Phil Novak (D-Bradley) a seat on the Illinois Pollution Control Board.

I can only take so much of Illinois politics before I begin to go a little crazy.

Don't get me wrong, Illinois politics is my life. I truly enjoy my job. But, eventually, the bickering, the corruption, the pettiness start to infect my soul and I gotta stop for a while.

As I've told you before, I spent much of my childhood on a farm in rural Iroquois County. One of the chores I thought was completely pointless back then was mowing the ditches.

It was dangerous work.

Let's continue our look at U.S. Senate candidates. This time, the Democrats:

• Comptroller Dan Hynes - Obviously the man to beat. Hynes has lined up big-time labor support, he has the backing of most county Democrat chairmen, he has put together a good organization, and he has won two statewide elections by wide margins.

This seems like a good time to rate the various U.S. Senate candidates. Let's start with the Republicans.

• Jack Ryan - A handsome multi-millionaire with three Ivy League degrees, quit his investment-banking career and went to work as a teacher in an inner-city school.

The media missed the mark on Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka's press conference not long ago.

Topinka summoned reporters to issue a public demand that the governor call a special session to deal with the budget problem.

I generally sympathize with the pro-hunting folks, but the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance is engaging in either deliberate lies or abject incompetence these days.

The alliance's Web site (http://www.ussportsmen.

A costly mistake by the parents of a 4-H club member has turned into some bad publicity for Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Representative Shane Cultra (an Onarga Republican) wants an apology from the governor over his remarks last week about the State Fair animal-doping controversy.

Pages