Federal prosecutors have recently been handed a couple of big setbacks in their ceaseless pursuit of government corruption. But you would hardly know it considering the lack of press coverage the cases have received here.

It may be no surprise to some, but new polling shows Barack Obama is doing better with hardcore Illinois primary voters than Hillary Clinton is doing with voters in her own home state of New York. Also, voters are split over whether Obama should be more critical of Chicago corruption, and the Republican presidential primary appears wide-open here.

The real electoral surprise last week was not in Chicago, where five tired, old incumbent hack aldermen went down to defeat. The big shocker was the Carbondale mayor's race, in which Sheila Simon - the daughter of the late U.S. Senator Paul Simon - was trounced by Republican incumbent Brad Cole.

I was probably more surprised than anyone when I was invited to tag along on Governor Rod Blagojevich's road trip last week. The governor toured the state to push his universal-health-insurance plan and his gross-receipts tax on business. I was on the bus with him for three days, and we talked for hours.

Governor Rod Blagojevich insists that his proposed gross-receipts tax on business doesn't break his campaign promise last year not to raise income or sales taxes, but a recent poll finds voters think otherwise.

The very last question of the 45-question poll, in which voters were told both positive and negative aspects of the proposal, asks this: "Now, during the campaign, Governor Blagojevich promised not to raise income or sales taxes. By increasing business taxes, do you think he is keeping his promise or not?"

There are two major tax-increase proposals competing for support in the Illinois General Assembly. You've probably read about both, but you may not know the whole story.

The governor has a huge tax-hike proposal on the agenda. It's called a "gross receipts" tax, and it basically means that every dollar a business brings in the door is subject to taxation without regard for whether the business is actually profitable. (See cover story in this issue.)

Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie usually hangs back and lets others make news. Since getting the number-two job in the House Democratic caucus in 1997, she hasn't been known for being way out front on major issues. And as far as I can remember, she's never once publicly criticized Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Governor Rod Blagojevich proposed no direct property-tax relief during his annual budget address at the Statehouse last week, but afterwards he told me in an interview that he would back the idea if a crucial Senate Democrat demanded it.

It's not often that someone who worked on a state legislative staff actually wins a campaign for himself, but it happened last week in Chicago.

Former House Democratic staffer Brendan Reilly won his aldermanic race against longtime Chicago Alderman Burton Natarus last week by about nine points, stunning the Chicago political world, which didn't think that Natarus - who joined the city council in 1972 - could be defeated. Reilly silenced the critics by bringing a new level of sophistication to the Chicago political game.

Two articles in recent days have shed a little bit more light on the as-yet-unconfirmed plan by Governor Rod Blagojevich to propose a gross-receipts tax on Illinois businesses. The tax would be levied on all corporate revenues, regardless of profitability or existing tax exemptions and loopholes.

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