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The perplexing buzz of high-speed trains

Here’s the set-up: You decide to enjoy a long weekend in Springfield this summer with the wife and kids. Maybe you’ll explore the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and visit Abe’s grave site at Oakridge Cemetery. It might be adventurous to take Amtrak, and why not? …

McQueary: Winners and losers in Tuesday’s races

Dozens of school officials gazed despairingly at computer screens Tuesday night as vote totals expressed, once again, rejection with a capital “R.” Voters said “no, no, NO” to school board requests for more money — except one Southland school district where voters proclaimed “yes.” Actually, …

Is Tuesday a primer for Gorman mayor bid?

The Orland Park mayoral race isn’t on the ballot for another two years. But by all accounts, Tuesday’s election stands as a primer for a potential 2013 match-up between Mayor Dan McLaughlin and Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Doody Gorman. Now, before you flood my email …

Limos, fraud alleged in Southland races

In one Southland election, a mayoral candidate allegedly transported supporters to the polls in fancy limousines. In another, a school board candidate accused an incumbent of mingling his campaign with school business. And a handful of candidates hoping to win your vote Tuesday carry baggage …

Orland trustee race raises one red flag

Orland Park voters who head to the polls April 5 face a list of village board candidates that includes seven newcomers. Many of the new faces offer impressive resumes to guide the village during the next four years — including one candidate who gives me …

Fundraiser aggravates deceased man’s family

Leave it to the Calumet Township Democratic Organization to offend the voters it represents, even as it tries to raise money from them. The organization, headed by committeeman and state Rep. Robert Rita (D-Blue Island), hosted a fundraiser Friday with featured guests Blue Island Park …

Teacher bashing misguided in Lemont

With casks of ink devoted to labor strife in Wisconsin, one story still has not been told enough. It is the story of elected school board members who oversee the collection and expenditure of property tax dollars; who approve superintendent and teacher contracts; and who …

Mike Joyce withdraws from Quinn appointment

A Southland coach prepped for an appointment to Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration withdrew his application, citing pay concerns. Mike “Pickle” Joyce, of Chicago’s Morgan Park community, said outside-income restrictions placed on board members persuaded him to withdraw his resume from consideration for the Illinois Labor …

Set aside sex scandal for real news, briefly

Boy, it’s going to be difficult to keep your attention to a column on write-in candidates, what with Northwestern University’s sex toy demonstration dominating water cooler conversation. A sex show in a Northwestern lecture hall makes the birth video shown in my high school health …

McQueary: Crestwood ridicules tainted water concerns

For a village sufficiently lawyered-up after accusations surfaced it served contaminated water to its residents, the latest Crestwood newsletter takes an aggressive approach, calling concern a “manufactured issue.”

Time for loudmouths to get better trained

Citizen watchdogs: You know who you are. You care deeply about the basic principles of transparent government and public service. You attend government meetings, perhaps taking a seat on a regular basis toward the side of the dais. You know more about your town’s DNA …

Emanuel, Preckwinkle: So can they deliver?

The honeymoon began at precisely 11:05 a.m. Wednesday in an ornate chamber of the private Union League Club in downtown Chicago. Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel addressed a room of obedient, seated reporters while standing at a podium with a crystal chandelier dangling above him. He smiled. …

In Groupon vs. Nancy, Nancy’s still winning

Those of us who follow Illinois politics often get criticized for being overly critical. Go ahead. Call me Negative Nancy. I was unimpressed with Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget proposal. He and several Southland lawmakers who voted for the 67 percent income tax hike in January …

Introducing: Task force to study wimpiness

To address the state’s budget problems, I am announcing today the creation of a new task force aimed at exploring WARD, or Wimps Avoiding Real Decisions, the syndrome known to transform well-intended politicians into zombies incapable of reform. The Commission on Wimps Avoiding Real Decisions, …

Political prank mail hits ‘Pick and JohnnyO’

Nothing like anonymous, nonsensical mail in the final days of the Chicago mayoral race. In an apparent prank that left several political observers scratching their heads, postcards mailed to a select group of journalists and Democratic committeemen claimed two Southland political activists were endorsing Carol …

Will Blue Island vote based on lewd party?

In most communities, publicity of a pool party organized by park district officials that included skinny dipping and excessive alcohol and ended in a mysterious drowning death would result in house cleaning at election time. But in Blue Island, the April election for two open …

Commissioners to hold Preckwinkle to her word

About once an hour, Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth Doody Gorman’s telephone rings. On the line is a county worker recently laid off or still employed but terrified of the pink slip. “I’m getting people who had 24 years (with the county) getting laid off and …