LTE: Judicial Elections Important Too

On Tuesday, March 18, Illinois voters will have a chance to cast their ballot in the primary election for national, state and local offices.

Sadly, voters often overlook the many candidates running for retention or election as judges. This is unfortunate as judges make critical decisions that directly affect our daily lives. Learning about the qualifications of judicial candidates and voting for those who are most qualified will help ensure that we have a quality judiciary. Bar association evaluations and newspaper endorsements are a reliable, independent and relevant source of information about the candidates’ qualifications.

As a way to help inform and educate voters outside of Cook County, the Illinois State Bar Association conducts an advisory poll in the circuit or district from which a candidate seeks retention or election. Polls are sent to ISBA members and non-ISBA lawyers who request a ballot. The poll reflects the opinion of those lawyers who choose to respond and not the opinion of ISBA. The ratings are readily available to the public at www.isba.org/YouBeTheJudge. (In Cook County, an ISBA Judicial Evaluations committee uses the results of a questionnaire, background investigations, and in-person interviews to rate candidates for judicial offices.)

We encourage voters to download all these poll ratings and take them into the voting booth. The ratings provide guidance in selecting the most qualified persons as judges.

Hon. Thomas L. Brownfield, Chair
ISBA Judicial Advisory Polls Committee

Understanding Illinois: Gladiators of Gridiron Seek Union

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

Northwestern University football players recently filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board that seeks certification of the College Athletes Players Association as a union.

Players in elite football programs do deserve a larger share of the megabucks being generated solely because of their superb athleticism.

Programs such as Alabama, Texas and Ohio State each generate $100-150 million a year and pay their coaches $3-5 million each.

Players receive free tuition, a bounteous training table, and the distant hope of playing professional ball. Yet scholarships leave athletes without money for necessities, and only a small fraction of the athletes ever play professional ball, and then only for an average of two or three years. Read More

The ABC’s of the ACA

by Angela Hogan, RN MSPH
Admin. Mo. Co. Health Dept.

It’s finally March 2014, and in less than 30 days, we will have already experienced 25 percent of the year. In the healthcare arena, March 31 marks much more than the first quarter of 2014. It is also the end of the Open Enrollment Period for the newly implemented Affordable Care Act.

With the “MARCH 31” deadline looming the following are some last minute tidbits of information that most individuals should know about how the ACA will affect access to care, and the options that still exist up to and beyond March 31 for individuals still in need of healthcare coverage: Read More

Understanding Illinois: Political Campaigning Dissected

By Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

Several readers have asked me to comment on the increasingly nasty campaign for the Republican nomination for governor.

As a member of the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission (appointed by state treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Dan Rutherford), I am prohibited from participating in politics. My observations here are about the nature of campaigns and of how such may be affecting the present gubernatorial race. Read More

Understanding Illinois: Parole–Eliminate Some, Focus Other Efforts

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

Should Illinois prison parolees be granted legal counsel in cases where their parole officers have recommended they be sent back to prison?

That is the nub of a case filed recently in federal court by a justice center at Northwestern University School of Law titled Morales v. Monreal (the chairman of the state Prisoner Review Board) that seeks to require legal counsel for those charged with violation of parole.

The bigger issue is that of how can we reduce the high numbers of men and women who end up back in prison. Read More

Understanding Illinois: E-cigarettes a Breath of Fresh Air?

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel recently pushed through his city council a prohibition of “smoking” electronic or e-cigarettes in any public spaces that ban smoking of tobacco cigarettes.

Is that a good idea? The issue is sure to come before the Illinois Generally Assembly.

As with nearly all public issues, the matter sharply divides those who see e-cigarettes as a cessation of smoking tool versus those who see the use of e-cigarettes as a gateway for youth to the smoking of the real thing. Read More

Recalling the Hubris of Orson Welles

DanColumnby Dan Hagen
NP Columnist

I think the producer, director, author and actor John Houseman’s three volumes of memoirs, in recounting his half-happenstance career, manage to do as good a job as I’ve seen of evoking the adventure of theatrical production.

The meshing and conflicting personalities, the late-night bonding, the technical challenges, the economic uncertainties, the creative dead ends, the mysteries of inspiration, the unexpected triumphs, the passion, the romantic ephemerality of each production as the applause surges, echoes and then dies — fascinating and romantic stuff. Read More

Understanding Illinois: At 90, Lockhart the Gold Standard in Lobbying

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

Effective lobbying is absolutely essential to the functioning of a legislative body where interests clash incessantly.

Full of spit and vinegar at 90, Richard Lockhart has for 55 years been the gold standard in lobbying Illinois government, that is, in getting the right information in the right format to the right people at the right time.

Lockhart has some suggestions for small organizations and individuals with interests in legislation. Read More

Lincoln Had Connections In Moultrie County

Tom Emery 2[1]2by Tom Emery
Guest Columnist

Before his presidency, Abraham Lincoln traveled across Illinois practicing law and campaigning for office, earning countless acquaintances along the way. Some of that time was spent in Moultrie County, particularly in the county seat of Sullivan.

Lincoln passed near the current site of Sullivan as early as 1830 with his family while they were moving from Indiana to Macon County. Between March 12 and 14, the Lincolns crossed the Kaskaskia River at Willow Ford, four miles southeast of Sullivan. The trail then proceeded northwest, passing between Chipps and Lovington before finally settling southwest of Decatur.

Read More