It seems natural that people competing for scarce taxpayer dollars would argue about why their area is more deserving and others less so. But we don’t see that. School superintendents don’t complain about business subsidies, mayors don’t criticize the cash paid to state universities, and Medicaid advocates don’t denounce state-paid agriculture marketing. The people who receive government money in one area simply don’t complain about other areas of government spending.

I’ve been going to Statehouse committee hearings for something like 27 years. Last week was the first time I can ever recall having to fight back tears during a hearing.

You might have heard about a recent Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll that found that Governor Bruce Rauner’s job disapproval ratings have almost doubled in the past two years, from 31 percent in March 2015 to 58 percent this month. According to the poll, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s current disapproval rating is 61 percent, about the same as his 63-percent disapproval rating last October. Rauner’s disapproval rating last October was 55 percent.

During this long governmental impasse, Madigan has championed the cause of unions and working people against the governor’s attempts to take rights and benefits away from them. But the Democrat is actually underwater with union members. According to the Simon poll, 55 percent of respondents who said they belong to a union disapprove of Madigan’s job performance, including 38 percent who strongly disapprove. Just 34 percent of union members approve of his job performance, while only 12 percent strongly approve. All this pain and they still don’t like him.

But union members dislike the governor far more. The poll found that 72 percent of union members disapprove of Rauner’s job performance, and half of union members strongly disapprove. Only 24 percent approve. On Rauner, anyway, the union message has gotten out.

If you haven’t heard the remarkable story of “Rescuing River,” it’s time you did. First, River is a beautiful, soulful dog. River was found in northern Clinton, Iowa, shot in the head three times and left for dead by his owner. It was during a particularly brutal time in Clinton when two other dogs were similarly shot and abandoned; one lost its life. River’s story is shared on Facebook (Facebook.com/rescuingriver) for those interested in learning more about this remarkable dog, his remarkable rescuers, and the fan base that has ensued in support of River. It is the most uplifting, wonderful story, and a joy to read.

Now the tables have turned, and River’s rescuer Maggie Stafford needs our help.

If Attorney General Lisa Madigan succeeds in convincing the Illinois Supreme Court to consider ordering the state to stop paying employees without an appropriation, and if Governor Bruce Rauner’s legal team uses the same arguments it did in St. Clair County, it will be important to understand the repercussions of his strategy.

According to a recent poll, Governor Bruce Rauner is a whole lot less popular than a one-cent-per-ounce state sales tax on sugary drinks.

If you’re running for office anytime soon, or if you currently hold office or are a “public figure,” please try to keep one thing in mind: So far, the only person to prove he can thrive by talking like President Donald Trump is ... President Donald Trump.

With the rise of the political right in both Europe and America, the word “fascism” is everywhere.

Before Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget address last week, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno made a rare visit to the Senate Democratic caucus meeting.

Radogno assured the Democrats that she and her GOP caucus were working in good faith to achieve a bipartisan “grand bargain” in the chamber. And then Rauner gave his budget address.

Our program at Black Hawk College, Art & Visual Communication, recently received the devastating news that two of our four full-time faculty positions will be cut. Kyle Petersen teaches new media and had just created a photography certificate unique to the western-Illinois region. Melissa Hebert-Johnson teaches full sections of art history every semester and several innovative online sections of art history and art appreciation. She is also department chair. Both faculty are hailed by our students as not only great teachers, but as having strong, positive impact on their lives in general. The justification that has been given is that a consultant recommended dismantling our AAS in Visual Communication and the Art Technology one-year certificate. We have not been granted access to this report.

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