Just when you think you've seen it all, Pat Quinn hits the mute button - a device nobody ever thought he possessed.

Lieutenant Governor Quinn, a self-styled consumer activist, has for well over 20 years raged against the political clout wielded by the company formerly known as Ameritech, then Ameritech/SBC, and now just plain ol' SBC.

Illinois State Representative Julie Hamos (D-Chicago) begged me last week not to make her out to be some kind of lone-wolf hero or get her in trouble with her fellow legislators. But what she did rates a notice.

Just one month into his term as governor, Rod Blagojevich has already alienated legislators and other politicians who should be completely in his corner.

Last Tuesday, a group of 20 elected African-American officials from Chicago's west side, including U.

Ten years in the minority often frustrated the Illinois Senate Democrats to no end. They would sponsor bills that had passed the House with huge bipartisan majorities - and often with significant public support - only to watch them quietly die in the Senate Rules Committee, which was controlled with an iron fist by the Republicans.

Every now and then it might be healthy for a reporter/columnist to get slammed in the media and have his motives and integrity questioned. It could be a humbling experience for those of us who make our livings routinely and cynically questioning the motives and integrity of others.

Every new governor has problems getting started. But Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has had to learn some hard lessons during his first two weeks on the job.

Most of the problems center around Blagojevich's penchant for absolute secrecy.

By now, you've probably heard that new Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was so surprised about the actual size of the state's budget deficit that he is considering breaking his campaign promise to not raise taxes.

An absolute necessity in politics is to have friends outside of the political game. Most political types understand this and routinely delineate between their political friends and their "real" friends.

A lobbyist, legislator, reporter, etc.

As you might have observed by now, Illinois governor-elect Rod Blagojevich promoted himself last year in an almost presidential manner. As soon as the election was over, a sympathetic scribe or two in the media even suggested that our governor-elect might have some presidential material in him.

Secretary of State George Ryan sat on a couch in his Chicago office, reading a document in early September of 1998. It hadn't been a good day. The feds were closing in, the media was turning against him, and election day was just two months away.

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