2014: ENDORSEMENTS Republican gubernatorial hopeful Kirk Dillard already had the endorsement of former Gov. Jim Edgar, for whom Dillard was chief of staff before launching his Illinois Senate career in 1993. Last week he got a boost from another former governor and employer, Jim Thompson, for whom Dillard was director of legislative affairs from 1983 to 1987. Edgar and Thompson co-signed a letter of endorsement that was sent last week to all Republican Party county chairmen, township chairmen and ward committeeman in the state. "Kirk Dillard has the experience, judgment, and character to stay the course, and make the tough decisions that will have to be made," write Thompson and Edgar. "But we're also supporting Kirk for another very important reason. Dillard is the only Republican candidate who can win in November." Read the whole letter here.
PEP TALK: Edgar already had been a vocal supporter of Dillard. Here's video from Republican Day last month at the Illinois State Fair as Edgar rallied Dillard supporters.
GAMBLING ON GAMBLERS As Illinois became increasingly desperate for money, it resorted to increasingly desperate ways to raise it. One was the legalization of video gambling -- what some people call the "crack cocaine of gambling" -- in restaurants, bars and other businesses. One of the sharpest critics was Anita Bedell of the Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems. Video gambling may be legal now, but Bedell hasn't stopped sounding the warning of its potential for social damage. Here's her latest sound-off.
PENSION PRESSURE On Friday we wrote about a memo that outlined some of the highlights of a pension reform bill being worked out by the General Assembly's 10-member conference committee on pension reform. The committee was formed in June to work out a compromise after the House and Senate deadlocked on how to defuse the biggest financial threat to Illinois' finances. But a compromise shouldn't mean ignoring the extent of the damage pensions have caused and will continue to inflict if a reform bill doesn't include the difficult but necessary measures that will bring savings to taxpayers and secure pension funds to employees and retirees. Help us keep the pressure on by signing our pension petition. If you're curious about the trail of bad decisions that created this $100 billion bombshell, we've got a timeline for that. Click here to see it.
BGA IN SPRINGFIELD The Better Government Association is based in Chicago, but a lot of Illinois' political and financial trouble emanates from the state capital. That's why the BGA is boosting its presence in Springfield. BGA President Andy Shaw explains the effort in his column today. The BGA effort already has paid off in an investigation into possible patronage hiring violations at the Illinois Department of Transportation.
MONDAY 5: Here are the top Illinois news stories as the week gets under way.
• 5. Gov. Quinn is headed to Japan on a taxpayer-funded mission to build trade relations between Illinois and Japan. (Chicago Tribune)
4. Quinn's Chief of Staff is stepping down. (Chicago Tribune)
3. Opinion: Pulling the plug on a potential deal to lease out Midway Airport was the right call by Mayor Emanuel. (Chicago Sun-Times)
2. Two former Illinois governors have endorsed Kirk Dillard. (NBC Chicago)
1. A bill designed to speed up payments from the state's local government fund that passed the House with flying colors has stalled in the Senate. (State Journal-Register)
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