Watchdog watch. Kristen McQueary’s SouthtownStar column looks at the BGA’s Citizen Watchdog Training program, which is back in Joliet on Wednesday night, March 2, for the second of two Will County training sessions. BGA says thanks for the McShoutout.

  • Agri-cloture? The question of the day on Capitol Fax comes from the BGA’s “Think Tank” post about the dubious Illinois House practice of sending controversial bills to the Agriculture Committee so they’ll be voted out to the House floor with a minimum of hassle.
  • Cook County kudos. The Daily Herald reports on the Cook County Board’s passage, in the wee hours of the morning, of new President Toni Preckwinkle’s first budget, which fulfills her promise to cut last year’s spending by 16 percent.
  • Cozy conflict? Also in the Herald, an editorial expressing conflict of interest concerns about Ela Township, where the tax assessor’s wife has a tax appeal practice that represents Ela homeowners. BGA agrees it is “too cozy for taxpayers” and that her clients should not include anyone in hubby’s jurisdiction.
  • Hoosier hints. The New York Times reports on the lessons Gov. Walker of Wisconsin can learn from Indiana Gov. Daniels, who ended collective bargaining for state employees six years ago and claims it’s a big reason for his state’s relatively healthy fiscal situation. Also in the NYT, an op-ed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports a challenge to the wages and pension benefits of public employee unions, but not an attack on collective bargaining. The Trib says the fight over collective bargaining is also an attempt by Republican leaders to weaken one of the Democratic party’s most reliable fundraising machines—public employee unions.
  • Metra moves. Also in the Trib, a story about new Metra boss Alex Clifford’s post-Pagano “action plan,” which includes “zero tolerance” for ethics violations. BGA’s all aboard with that.
  • TIF tales. Chicago News Cooperative covers a story about the dozens of big, profitable Chicago companies, many of them downtown, that have benefitted from the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) dollars that are supposed to be used to spark economic development in blighted areas. BGA’s raised similar concerns.