For a couple of decades, Illinois has allowed roads and bridges to crumble, which doesn't make much sense for a state whose economy is based on being a transportation hub for the nation.
But now that our state is poised to spend $45 billion on new capital projects, including those roads and bridges, we've got a related problem: A key figure in deciding how that money will be spent is state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, whose political war chest is bursting with donations from construction firms and others who stand to benefit on the capital plan.
That kind of blatant conflict of interest is as old as Illinois. But in this case there is an easy fix.
Sandoval should be stripped of his chairmanship of the Senate Transportation Committee, and he no longer should be the Senate majority whip.
The biggest identified sector of donations to Sandoval is construction, according to VoteSmart.org. The Illinois State Board of Elections lists political campaign gifts from a range of transportation-related entities, such as engineering, planning, building materials and construction companies, as well as unions that work on transportation projects.
Many states ban corporate contributions to politicians to prevent such conflicts of interest.
Sandoval raises much more campaign money than he needs to defend his safe legislative seat. That puts him in a position to expand his influence — and conceivably that of his donors — by passing along money to other lawmakers.
The better part of caution says Sandoval should be nowhere near the center of decision-making when the Illinois Legislature doles out that $45 billion.
(Arlington Heights) Daily Herald
Impeachment talk regarding President Trump began even before he took the Oath of Office, and it's too bad that in the intervening months, this has become a national preoccupation, a certain pitch-by-pitch polarizing entertainment of sorts.
For too many people, and far too often, impeachment is seen not as a last-ditch mechanism to remove a criminally incompetent leader but as a handy tool to wield against an indomitably obstinate political opponent.
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This has been our consistent impression of the impeachment undercurrent that has gurgled beneath the surface of some of Trump's most-ardent Democratic opposition. Many Trump critics seem insistent not on contending with the president through the force of argument and numbers but by simply shooing him out of the way.
So much of the debate has focused on whether there was or wasn't a quid-quo-pro in Trump's request for "a favor." An important issue to resolve, to be sure. But it should not distract us from what already is undisputed fact: The president reached out to a foreign power to ask that it investigate his top political rival.
Viewing that soberly, removed from the manipulative passions of politics, what patriot cannot be troubled?
For some, that by itself might be enough to consider. But, we need to know more. As a nation, we may regret the taste of the medicine, but our rising temperature requires it all the same.
The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan
The United States remains home to some of the greatest doctors, surgeons and medical facilities in the world.
People come to the United States from all over the world for specialized treatment. But, without question, there are serious deficiencies in the overall system. The World Health Organization ranked 190 nations on the overall quality of healthcare. The United States was ranked 37th.
Cost of healthcare services in the United States is prohibitive. A CNBC report this year found that about 530,000 American families seek bankruptcy protection every year because of medical costs. About 65 percent of American bankruptcies are related to medical expenses.
The state of Illinois has taken note of the onerous costs. Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, has sponsored a bill that will cap monthly insulin costs for some insurance plans at $100 per month. That is not insignificant, but much better than costs of $400 or more.
The current system is leaking at the seams. Yet, our politicians are immobilized by ideology and fear of being voted out of office.
There is no viable alternative on the horizon, at least nothing that would garner support in both the House and Senate.
Given the American aversion to government control, a hybrid system of some sort will likely be implemented. The one thing that is certain — something has to change and it has to change quickly. Democrats and Republicans have to rise above party squabbles and work for us — our lives depend on it.