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Editor's Note: This is the second part of a series outlining my 1984 backpacking trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The trip was through Touch of Nature at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

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In this season of joy, I am reminded, as we all are, fleetingly, that not all share our joy. Several years ago, for example, the circus came to my rural town. A friend and I decided to ensure that all kids could have the very few bucks needed for tickets and some cotton candy. Fifteen single…

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The word on the street, say my insider friends, is that a lot of indictments are coming down soon as a result of federal public corruption probes in Chicagoland and Springfield, probably including both legislators and lobbyists. So, to stay ahead of the curve, I write this week the first of …

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A Nov. 19 article published by ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune, outlined the practice of using isolated timeout rooms in Illinois - and in some instances - wrongly using those spaces for punishment.

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I've said many times going to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is on my bucket list, but after attending the annual Gatlinburg, Tennessee lighted parade, well, I'm thinking I may have to take Macy's off my list.

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A number of readers (actually two) have requested a column about Gov. J.B. Pritzker's tax initiatives. I have rattled on about this in the past, yet the topic is important to the future of Illinois, so here goes again, at least for the benefit of the two readers with interest.

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This column proposes a powerful, practical, if highly unconventional, way to start a national conversation, even a movement, that could possibly help restore a healthy American democracy and solid economic future, and maybe even replace one of our two bankrupt political parties.

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Anyone who knows me knows I'm always trying to earn extra money by doing odd jobs. Lord knows weekly newspaper reporters do not make the big bucks, and ever since I became a homeowner, I always seem to need more money.

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As readers might surmise from reading the news about Illinois, our state is arguably embedded in a political culture (patterns of behavior) of corruption (unearned personal gain at public expense). This doesn't mean that everyone in the Prairie State is corrupt, but that there is a learned d…

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One of America's most pressing public health problems is drug abuse and addiction. Deadly drugs that are smuggled across the border are killing Americans every day. To stop this crisis, lawmakers should come together and strengthen the nation's borders before we lose more Americans to drug abuse.

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Editor's Note: For many years, Jim Nowlan was a senior fellow and political science professor at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He has worked for three unindicted governors and published a weekly newspaper in central Illinois.

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Gov. JB Pritzker has lately won plaudits from even some conservative opinion-makers for making the right moves on corruption. But I am going to register an objection in a bit.

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The political muscle of ComEd/Exelon aced its last major test in 2016, when the energy companies finally passed what one Illinois House member referred to at the time as a "multibillion dollar corporate bailout" by electricity ratepayers to keep two of its nuclear power plants open.

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One of the provisions of the sweeping state pension reform law passed in 2010 has always stuck in the craw of first responders.

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You might have been asked recently to sign a petition to put a candidate on the ballot in 2020. It's that season and, though a truism, if good people don't run for office, democracy doesn't work. You ought to try running. Here's how.

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Once upon a time, having a job at a newspaper meant working in one of the most imposing buildings in town, inhaling the acrid aroma of fresh ink and the dusty breath of cheap newsprint and feeling mini-earthquakes under our feet every time the presses started to roll. For those of us old eno…

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The governor's top budget people sent a memo last week to agency directors giving them a heads up about what will be required in their annual budget request submissions. They are not easy-peasy asks.

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Whatever else you may believe, you have to commend Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot for trying to live up to her campaign promise of making sure that new economic development isn't concentrated in her city's downtown business district.

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Adults, especially after the age of 30, seem to ask themselves lots of questions to determine if their lives are progressing satisfactorily. Looking back at old Massac Memos, I was doing that in 1983. The odd thing is that I am still asking the same question almost 40 years later.

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I am the first person to admit when discussions began about the Massac County Courthouse I was one of the people hoping the county would decide to build a new courthouse and the old one would get torn down. I had hoped the space would be developed into a nice, Superman-themed park, but that …

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The statement issued by Gov. JB Pritzker's office last Thursday night had some good advice for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who gave what was billed as a "State of the City" address earlier that evening. Lightfoot had outlined the challenges facing the city, including an $838 million budget…

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Although we cannot be sure exactly what occurred two, three or four thousand years ago, it is generally agreed that what we know as democracy, began in what is now Greece. And, even in hard times, the people of Greece still have a democratic government.

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As I mentioned in my last column, sometimes we all need to take a break from our everyday lives. I know when 2019 began I had hoped this would be a good year. Overall, it has been, but there have been some bumps along the way that have been stressful to deal with.

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When House Speaker Michael Madigan announced in February of 2018 that he'd fired Kevin Quinn, the brother of Madigan's alderman and political general, he said he made the decision because of Quinn's "inappropriate conduct" with Alaina Hampton, whom he called a "courageous woman." Hampton had…

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Many rural Midwest towns have become like my stereotype of Appalachia - main streets of mostly empty storefronts; lots of unskilled folks left behind, yearning for jobs "on the line" that are gone forever; too many single mothers struggling to make it on low-wage work, or welfare, lacking th…

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Gov. JB Pritzker signed the $45 billion infrastructure bill into law last week during a three-day fly-around to several Illinois cities.

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When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent res…

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"We are so proud of what we've been able to accomplish this first legislative session of ours," Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton told a TV interviewer earlier this month. "We said that we wanted to think big for the people of Illinois, we said that we wanted to get Springfield back on the track of …

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Back when this state was fairly well-run - meaning, before Illinois voters elected three anti-Springfield "populist" governors in a row - the general rule of thumb was that for every two dollars appropriated to K-12 education, higher education received one dollar.

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With my first legislative session in the General Assembly in the books, now is a good time to take a look back at what occurred, particularly in the final week of session.

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The governor and his top staff showed again last week that they can make things happen under the Statehouse dome.

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As the old saying goes, sometimes history has a way of repeating itself and after the May 20 Massac Unit One board meeting, it would certainly appear the board finds itself in the same situation it was about 20 years ago when it faced problems with aging buildings.

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The agricultural industry provides a variety of opportunities to professionals interested in this often misunderstood field.

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As the spring legislative session nears its end, I want to take a moment to look back on one of the scariest times of the year with the hope that one of you might recognize something and help bring a deranged person to justice.

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If you listen closely to what Democratic state Reps. Sam Yingling and Jonathan Carroll are saying in public about their opposition to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's graduated income tax proposal, they appear to believe that Pritzker's proposed tax rates aren't high enough.

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The Chicago Police Department reported last week that the number of people murdered in the city fell ten percent during the first four months of 2019 compared to last year during the same period.

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There's probably never a good time for a news story about how a source claims you, your wife and your brother-in-law are under federal investigation. But when that report is aired just days before what is likely the most consequential five weeks of your entire governorship, that's definitely…

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Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) spent more than a year holding hearings and overseeing negotiations which eventually produced SB1829, a massive omnibus bill on sexual harassment.

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Freshman Rep. Terra Costa Howard (D-Glen Ellyn) was reportedly none too pleased when Think Big Illinois began running TV ads in her district.