Right off the bat, I should say that I think the so-called “stopgap budget” signed into law on June 30 was a good idea. People and organizations that rely on state government desperately needed a break from the all-out legislative war between the two ideologically entrenched parties.

Governor Bruce Rauner has been touring Illinois to talk about his new “messaging.” He’s quite excited about his “messaging” plans, telling one reporter that if he could do anything differently about his tenure so far, it would be to improve the way he gets his message out to voters.

“Our carceral state banishes American citizens to a gray wasteland far beyond the promises and protections the government grants its other citizens. ... When the doors finally close and one finds oneself facing banishment to the carceral state – the years, the walls, the rules, the guards, the inmates – reactions vary. Some experience an intense sickening feeling. Others, a strong desire to sleep. Visions of suicide. A deep shame. A rage directed toward guards and other inmates. Utter disbelief. The incarcerated attempt to hold on to family and old social ties through phone calls and visitations. At first, friends and family do their best to keep up. But phone calls to prison are expensive, and many prisons are located far from one’s hometown. ... As the visits and phone calls diminish, the incarcerated begins to adjust to the fact that he or she is, indeed, a prisoner. New social ties are cultivated. New rules must be understood.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

In a carceral state – a.k.a. a prison state or a police state – there is no Fourth Amendment to protect you from the overreaches, abuses, searches, and probing eyes of government overlords.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan rose to give his customary year-end speech after the chamber had concluded its legislative business last week and pointed his finger right at Governor Bruce Rauner.

Illinoisans are furious about the way their government has been running (or, more accurately, not running). They’re looking for solutions, and some are grasping at anything within reach.

Few people thought that Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration could keep state operations running for a year without an actual state budget.

The Democrats got a bit of good news along with a load of bad news in a recent Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll. The news is particularly problematic for anyone who can be credibly connected to House Speaker Michael Madigan, whom voters overwhelming blame for the ongoing state-budget stalemate.

Muhammad Ali in 1966. Photo from the Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau.

As a nation, we have a tendency to sentimentalize cultural icons in death in a way that renders them nonthreatening, antiseptic, and easily digested by a society with an acute intolerance for anything controversial, politically incorrect, or marred by imperfection.

Near the top of any list of Illinois government’s many problems is that House Speaker Michael Madigan has made a decades-long game out of messing with the minds and agendas of our governors.

“12th Grade with Uncle Lar” is inspired by John DeLaPaz, a career educator who prepared thousands of youth for the real world with his straightforward manner.

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