Illinois Budget 10.26.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at Please check in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
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Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343,



Freeport Journal-Standard creates its own pink pages

Front page of the weekend: The Peoria Journal Star


High-speed rail spending to be a boon to freight rail companies

SPRINGFIELD – High-speed passenger rail – that’s what the government calls it. But spending billions of dollars in federal stimulus money on rail could also bring big benefits to freight rail companies. “They have a very strong interest in getting as much of their infrastructure subsidized as possible,” says Samuel Staley, director of urban growth and land use policy for the Reason Foundation, a non-profit think tank that leans libertarian. And that’s exactly what’s happening. By Bruce Rushton of the State Journal-Register.


State Briefs. News from around the state.

CANDIDATE LINEUP: A feature story examining the practice of some politicians to line up outside the State Board of Elections offices to be among the first in line for filing. Why do they do it? What's the strategy behind it, especially when there's a lottery to determine the first spot? And does it really matter? By Bernard Schoenburg of the State Journal-Register. Will be posted this evening.
'Shake-and-bake' meth harder to detect

SPRINGFIELD – A new, simpler way to make methamphetamine known as 'shake-and-bake' is bringing more people into the meth-production business. The method also is more mobile and gives off less of a stench, which makes it harder for police to detect. By Rhys Saunders of the State Journal-Register. To localize: Are local law enforcement agencies seeing an increase in "shake-and-bake" meth production?


Stimulus money comes home, literally

BELVIDERE – Cindie Reshel got a housewarming party three years after she bought her house. Thanks to a federal home weatherization program, she just got a new furnace, insulation in her attic, a chimney repair and other help, all for free. The decades-old federal weatherization program typically helps about 220 low-income households a year in Winnebago and Boone counties. But thanks to an extra $4.2 million from the federal stimulus package, three times that many will get fixed up in each of the next two years. By Thomas V. Bona of the Rockford Register Star. To localize: Have local weatherization programs received extra money from the stimulus package?


Leukemia survivor draws on experience for children's book

PEORIA HEIGHTS – Isolated in a tiny hospital room in Memphis for 54 days after a life-saving bone marrow transplant, sick and hurting in every way possible, 15-year-old Sarah Johnson had endless hours to parse the words spoken to her and their connotations. Drawing on her experience, Johnson has written a children's book that aims to explain how words intended to encourage children can help and harm. By Jennifer Towery of the Peoria Journal Star.

Celtic Thunder roars through U.S. tour

PEORIA – George Donaldson is standing in the rain in Philadelphia talking on his cell phone in a thick Scottish burr about Celtic Thunder. He's one of five male vocalists from Ireland and Scotland in the group whose first CD shot up to No. 1 on the Billboard World Music Chart in March 2008 after making a popular debut on U.S. public television. The band's tour comes to the Peoria Civic Center Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. By Theo Jean Kenyon of the Peoria Journal Star.

Artist returns to Peoria to reach out to young people

PEORIA – Jonathon Romain knows about some of the highest highs and lowest lows that life - or your own bad choices - can toss in your path. He went from a Chicago ghetto to Bradley University and from Bradley to a prison cell - only to emerge seven years later as a promising Chicago-based artist who was commissioned to paint a portrait of Bill Clinton playing the saxophone. Now the 43-year-old artist has returned to Peoria to open a gallery. It will be his attempt to make a small contribution to making the city better by reaching out to young people who are just as confused and misdirected as he once was. By Gary Panetta of the Peoria Journal Star.

Itoo Society offers free chow to vets, military members

PEORIA – Lou Kouri looked a bit taken aback when asked why the Itoo Society was only now using its annual supper to honor area veterans and military members. he World War II and Korean War veteran stumbled on his words for a few seconds and finally said it was "just the right thing to do." The Itoo Society's historian, Randy Couri, just smiled. For him, the members' military service - and the idea to honor active members of the military at the next dinner, scheduled for Sunday - represent the traditional ways that immigrants give back to their adopted homes. By Andy Kraveta of the Peoria Journal Star.


BRITT: Britt is off today.
Jeff Vrabel: Listening to David Gray is torture, but it’s not torture torture - until the government plays it

So it turns out that using music as a means of torture - which is an idea that all music fans have entertained, if not implemented, many thousands of times, mostly depending on how long they've been in high school and how many Color Me Badd tapes they currently own - is considerably less funny when you learn that music has actually been used to, what's the word, torture people.

Editorial: State must face up to financial problems

For all the angry talk about wanting to kick the bums out come 2010, politicians in Illinois have been making exactly the choices the state’s voters prefer when it comes to the state budget. In a poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, which was released this past week and measured voters’ attitudes on various budget issues, Illinoisans sent two contradicting messages: Don’t raise our taxes, but solve the state budget crisis without cutting education, programs for the poor and public safety. This has to end. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.

Editorial: Seriously ill should have access to medical marijuana

Julie Falco eats brownies or cookies with cannabis baked in them three times a day to help her deal with multiple sclerosis. She tried cannabis and it worked for her when nothing else would. That’s not legal in Illinois, but should be. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.


NFL Quick Shots. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star.

WITH THE ILLINI: Illinois basketball faces the responsibility of propping up the sagging mood of Illini fans. That's a little more pressure to start the season. Lead to multi-sport column. Will also include football. By John Supinie.