Hold `em and fold `em. A Trib editorial urges Illinois Senate President John Cullerton to deliver on his pledge to repeal the law authorizing video poker in the state. BGA joined many others in challenging the legislature’s approval of what’s been labeled the “crack cocaine of gaming” in a conflict-riddled rush to judgement without public hearings or due diligence. Meanwhile, the Daily Herald reports on another gambling initiative aimed at bolstering the troubled horse racing industry by permitting slot machines at Illinois racetracks.

  • Punishing Protess? The Trib reports that David Protess will not be teaching his investigative reporting class to Northwestern University journalism students this spring because of a lingering controversy over the way Protess and some of his students handled a wrongful conviction investigation. Protess runs the Medill Innocence Project, which has helped lead 10 wrongfully convicted individuals to freedom. BGA is following this troubling watchdog story closely.
  • Budget busters? The Sun-Times reports on a proposal from Illinois Republicans to trim the state budget by $5 billion by, among other things, cutting funding for schools, health care and pensions. GOP leaders claim the plan will eventually produce a budget surplus without borrowing or extending the recent income tax increase.
  • Report card review. Chicago News Cooperative columnist Jim Warren writes about Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle’s 100-day report card with a mix of praise and pique, suggesting she is in fact off to a good start but lamenting the fact that Illinois is still plagued by too many units of government and not enough collaborative efforts among and between those units. BGA says good food for thought.
  • Naughty N’Awlins? Don’t miss a story in The New York Times about the U.S. Justice Department’s troubling assessment of the “dysfunctional” New Orleans police department. Big Easy cops are as bad as we thought, but there’s good news. New mayor Mitch Landrieu invited the feds to come in and assess the police problems 10 months ago and hopes to use the report to lead a clean-up effort. BGA says Mitch has a good itch.
  • Pension pique. Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax blog takes on the new head of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, former Illinois Attorney General Ty Fahner, for demanding pension reform without providing specifics or recognizing the legal obstacles to benefit reduction for current employee. Rich is ranting, but also raising important issues.