Politics and government

Here are articles about municipal and state government in Illinois, including the General Assembly, state agencies and state workers, history and (then) current issues, and enduring controversies as published mainly in Illinois Issues and Illinois Times.  Because the distinction between politics and government is a fine one at times, I list pieces on both topics here. 


I grew up in the capital city because my father, from a family of Democrats, got a patronage job as a page at the Illinois State Library when he got back from war, when Democrat Eddie Barrett ran the Secretary of  State's office.


A journalist who grows up in a government town is doomed to take up government as a topic at least occasionally. Before I wrote about "the state," I wrote for the state as a contract writer and editor. I took on dozens of projects on a contract basis for the agencies devoted to public health, to education, to energy and the environment. A few of the more interesting ones are included in this archives and are listed according to their subject matter. The work paid the bills, but more importantly it gave me an education in how government works. 


I was fortunate. While I stumbling toward a career as a journalist, there debuted in the capital a new magazine that took government seriously in ways that the daily newspaper could not (for space) or would not (out of consideration for the tastes of the reading public). That magazine was Illinois Issues. Meanwhile the weekly Illinois Times offered me a forum for pieces of a different character on the same topics. 

Looking back, I am reminded that my very first efforts in serious journalism addressed public issues. It's what I've written the most about, and while I won't say that politics and government is the subject area I  know best, I concede that it is probably the area I know most. 

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Body Counts

Why the State of Illinois is a lousy surrogate parent

"Prejudices" Illinois Times  January 9, 1981

Institutional Amnesia

How the state forgets what doesn’t work

Illinois Issues  November 2006

Illinois: The Land of Ethanol

On converting Illinois corn to motor fuel

Illinois Issues January 1981

Farmers' Welfare

The ill effects of federal ag subsidies

Illinois Issues  November 2001

Mined Land Reclamation: Ends and Means

Healing damaged farmland in Illinois, Part 1

Illinois Issues  December 1984

Mined Land Policy:

The Battles Over the Ground and Behind the Doors

Healing damaged farmland in Illinois, Part 2

Illinois Issues  January 1985

Transportation and the Government's Uneven Hand

State intervention in the transportation marketplace

Illinois Issues  October 1981

Squaring Accounts

Is killing killers killing?

Illinois Issues  April 1999

The Enlightened Citizen Is Made, Not Born

Deliberative polls and democracy

Illinois Issues  November 1998

The Price of Doing Business

When a man's home is his office

Wednesday Journal  July 15, 1992

The (Energetic) Ambition of Frank Beal

The thinking bureaucrat's sort of bureaucrat

Illinois Issues April 1980

Government For Sale

Corruption as multiculturalism

Illinois Issues  February 1998 

A Forward Thinker From Yesteryear

An appreciation of Gov. Thomas Ford

Illinois Issues February 2010

Pollution Paradigms

A new approach to environmental protection

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  August 27, 1992

Pumping Out Iowa

Cities don’t make floods but they make them worse.

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times July 21, 1993

Remembering Harold
The career of Chicago's first black mayor

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  December 3, 1992

Nurture and Support

Devising a decent family policy for Illinois

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  March 10, 1994

Decent People

Is Illinois an accessory to child murder?

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  November 9, 1993

The Significance of Wanda 

How one woman’s mistake may have doomed ERA

The Weekly (Champaign-Urbana)  June 19, 1981

Dealing with the Dead

Balancing respect and learning at Dickson Mounds

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  [?],1999

Easy on Paper

Another Illinois governor, another reorganization plan

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  April 9, 1992

Chicago's Women Take Charge of Change

Another female new dawn breaks in Illinois

Chicago Enterprise  May 1992


When a state runs its landmarks on the cheap

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  April 2, 1992

Who's Afraid of Paula Wolff?
The U of I Chicago plays find the leader

Reader  May 17, 1991

Moment of Frivolity?

Religion sneaks into Illinois schools by the back door

Illinois Issues  February 2008

Deja Vu

Thirty years of energy policy in Illinois

Illinois Issues  October 2006

Searching for Leadership
Garry Wills' Certain Trumpets

lllinois Issues  January 1995

Coming or Going

Reinventing Illinois passenger rail

Illinois Issues  October 2005

Combat Pay

Public servants shouldn’t get servants’ wages

"Prejudices" Illinois Times  February 5, 1991

The Advent of Unstate Illinois

Demographics threaten to undo Illinois

Chicago Enterprise  December 1990

How Mass Transit Can Serve the Masses

Chicago thinks new thoughts about the CTA

Chicago Enterprise  January 1992

Influence Peddlers

Interest groups as Illinois’s fourth branch of government

Illinois Issues November 1997

Wanna Bet?

Illinois's addiction to gambling
Illinois Issues  May 1997

Managing to Get By

Public servants, treated like the help

Illinois Issues  November 2010

The Enlightened Citizen Is Made, Not Born

Deliberative polling as a cure for democracy's ills
Illinois Issues  November 1998

Lincoln’s Union Problem

Is the U.S. a nation-state or a nation of states?

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times August 20, 2015  

 Shotgun Weddings

The state can’t be both pro-family and anti-father

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  June 7, 1993

Class Act

Social  class and public office in Springfield

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  October 1, 1987

A Stiller Quietude

When the statehouse sleeps, Springfield snores

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  April 9, 1981

Buying Justice

The best judges that money can buy?

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  July, 1982

Bad Government Is a Cultural Defect

The sociology of the Illinois Way

"Forum"  Illinois Times  April 1, 1976

Great Mystery

Does democracy explain the absence of leaders?

Illinois Issues  November 2005


When "justice" means a fairer distribution of spoils  

“Prejudices” Illinois Times  January 29, 1987

Silk Purses and Sow’s Ears

Converting the capitol into an office building

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  September 7, 1979

Energy-efficient Buildings

Should intelligent selfishness be mandatory?

Illinois Issues  June 1981

Miracle or Threat

Run! It’s about TIF!

Illinois Issues  September 2007

More Harm Than Good

Illinois tries to make itself safe from kids and vice versa

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  Undated

A Park that Needs Protection from People

Springfield’s Carpenter Park under threat

Illinois Times  September 15, 1978

“People, not Pontiacs!”

Planning for a courts complex that won’t be built

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  October 8, 1981

Tales of Adlai

Books about Illinois’s nearly President

Illinois Times  April 8, 1976

Moment of frivolity?

Religion sneaks into Illinois schools by the back door

Illinois Issues  February 2008

Taxing Issues

Gov. Edgar tries to make taxes fairer, confuses people

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  January 24, 1991

The Science of Budgeting

The State of Illinois flunks its science test 

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  July 20, 1992

Something About a Man in Uniform
Rep. Mark Kirk suffers a self-inflicted battle wound
"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  June 17, 2010 

Earning One's Keep

Who should do what to deserve welfare?

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  September 9, 1993

Burn the Television

Flag-burning excites Illinois pols

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  June 28, 1990

Closing Doors

Illinois institutions try to keep the heat in

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  January 12, 1984

Causes and Cures

Democracy gives Illinois too much of a bad thing

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  November 24, 1978


Private-sector pay in the public sector

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  January 16, 1986

The Best and the Brightest

Making the progressive dream of efficient public management come true

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  January 30, 1992

Vachel’s House

A house, a poet, a parody in 1,000 words

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  March 22, 1990

Hard Times

Big Jim Thompson lives large at our expense

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  November 19, 1981

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love LaRouche

Lunatics hijack a major party primary. Sound familiar?

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  April 3, 1986

“A Little More Dirt in Your Lungs”

An Illinois governor preaches pollution

Illinois Times  August 3, 1979

A Penny's Worth of Wisdom

The state's sums fail to add up—again

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  July 16, 1992

Beyond Parochialism in Economic Planning

It's every town for itself in this fight

“Politics & Policy”  Chicago Enterprise  June 1991

Bunker Metropolis

Private government can deliver good service—for a price

Chicago Enterprise  September/October 1993

All for One

Filling the gaps between city hall and statehouse

Illinois Issues  July-August 1998

The Distinguished Senator
Are good Illinoisans wasted in the Senate?

Illinois Issues  September 1995

One's Own Sort

Making race the basis of citizenship

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  April 30, 1987

Gubernatorial Transitions

A new guv's first job? Reinvent the wheel

Illinois Issues  January-February 1999

Paper Shufflers 

“Takes one to know one” says the Illinois bureaucrat

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  September 24, 1992 


Does better pay buy better public servants?

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  January 26, 1989

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John Hallwas

Essential for anyone interested in Illinois history and literature. Hallwas deservedly won the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical Society.

Lee Sandlin Author

One of Illinois’s best, and least-known, writers of his generation. Take note in particular of The Distancers and Road to Nowhere.

Chicago Architecture Center

See Home Page/Learn/

Resources for a marvelous building database, architecture dictionary, even a city planning graphic novel. Handsome, useful—every Illinois culture website should be so good.

The Encyclopedia of Chicago


The online version of The Encyclopedia of Chicago, Crammed with thousands of topic entries, biographical sketches, maps and images, it is a reference work unmatched in Illinois.

Illinois Great Places

The Illinois chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2018 selected 200 Great Places in Illinois that illustrate our  shared architectural culture across the entire period of human settlement in Illinois.

McLean County Museum

of History

A nationally accredited, award-winning project of the McLean County Historical Society whose holdings include more than 20,000 objects, more than 15,000 books on local history and genealogy, and boxes and boxes of historical papers and images.

Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, and Other Highlights of Lincoln, Illinois


Every Illinois town ought to have a chronicler like D. Leigh Henson, Ph.D. Not only Lincoln and the Mother road—the author’s curiosity ranges from cattle baron John Dean Gillett to novelist William Maxwell. An Illinois State Historical Society "Best Web Site of the Year."

Southern Illinois University Press

SIU Press is one of the four major university publishing houses in Illinois. Its catalog offers much of local interest, including biographies of Illinois political figures, the history (human and natural) and folklore of southern Illinois, the Civil War and Lincoln, and quality reprints in the Shawnee Classics series.

Chronicling Illinois

“Chronicling Illinois” showcases some of the collections—mostly some 6,000 photographs—from the Illinois history holdings of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

Illinois Digital Archives


Created in 2000, the IDA is a repository for the digital collections of the Illinois State Library and other Illinois libraries and cultural institutions. The holdings include photographs, slides, and glass negatives, oral histories, newspapers, maps, and documents from manuscripts and letters to postcards,  posters, and videos.




Southern Illinois University Press 2017

A work of

solid history, entertainingly told.

Michael Burlingame,

author of Abraham 

Lincoln: A Life 

One of the ten best books on Illinois history I have read in a decade.

Superior Achievement Award citation, ISHS Awards, 2018

A lively and engaging study

. . . an enthralling narrative.

James Edstrom

The Annals of Iowa

A book that merits the attention of all Illinois historians

as well as local historians generally.

John Hoffman

Journal of Illinois HIstory

A model for the kind of detailed and honest history other states and regions could use.

Harold Henderson 

Midwestern Microhistory

A fine example of a resurgence of Midwest historical scholarship.

Greg Hall

Journal of the Illinois

State Historical Society

Click  here 

to read about

the book 

Click  here 

to buy

the book

Contact James Krohe Jr. at CornLatitudes@outlook.com

All material Copyright © by James Krohe Jr. unless otherwise indicated