For years, the governor and his top aides have claimed that politics never touch state hiring.

They swore up and down that they follow the law whenever they fill mid- to low-level civil-service positions, and claimed they don't even know the names of the people who were applying for the jobs.


In addition to this column I publish a daily political newsletter called Capitol Fax. A couple of years ago I also started a blog, which can be found at (
U.S. Senator Barack Obama

 Running the blog is a real pain sometimes. It’s a lot of work and I’ve had to weed out some truly insane commenters. Still, most commenters have interesting, insightful thoughts, so I thought I’d share some of them with you today.
Her name was Lovana, but everyone called her Lou.

There haven’t been many politicians like state Representative Lou Jones in this world. The Chicago Democrat was completely out front about whatever she was doing, and I don’t think she ever minced a single word in her entire career. She took on issues that almost nobody else would touch, and she used every ounce of her being to force the rest of us to see some harsh truths that we preferred to ignore. 
State Senator James Meeks (D-Chicago) has continually brushed aside notions that he wouldn’t run for governor on a third-party ticket, saying last week, for instance, that he is very encouraged by the results of a new poll he commissioned that shows him right in the race.

The Meeks poll has some more bad news for Governor Rod Blagojevich, but also a rare spot of good news. 
Whenever there's a big story, a calamity of some sort, an outrage, or some type of disaster, you can bet that a lobbyist or special-interest group will try to take advantage of the situation to push its own legislation in Springfield.
I'm from Kankakee. That accident of birth automatically put me on George Ryan's "A" list. Everybody from Kankakee was given special treatment. Ryan treated me differently from many other reporters. But being from Kankakee also had its downside.
Despite what they said, it's not too hard to figure out why the Senate Republicans blocked two construction-bond bills proposed by Democrats, one for education and the other for roads and bridges. The idea is to starve the governor and the Democrats of cash for projects that they could use to promote their re-elections this fall.
For the first time, a statewide poll has included state Senator James Meeks in the gubernatorial mix, but the results are not yet encouraging for the potential third-party candidate. Meeks is an African-American minister and state legislator who has been threatening to run for governor for the past several weeks.
The paranoia level is pretty much at an all-time high at the Illinois Statehouse. Walk past House Speaker Michael Madigan's office and there's a good chance you'll see him standing in the hallway talking on his cell phone.
I'm not sure how long it will last, but black voters in Cook County are united and fired up right now like they haven't been in a long time. It goes back to Barack Obama's 2004 Democratic primary victory, but it flamed back up in January, when Chicago's historic Pilgrim Baptist Church burned down.