Lead story: While, as the old saying goes, “Chicago ain’t ready for reform,” it seems the rest of Illinois is. A poll released [PDF] by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University shows that, actually, Illinois is ready for a variety of political reforms. As Rich Miller breaks it down for Capitol Fax, the survey of nearly 1,300 registered voters comes down hard on state businesses, with 62 percent saying they think corruption in business is widespread. But even more – almost 77 percent – think there’s widespread corruption in state government. (I have no idea where those other 23 percent have been living the past five years.) Other tidbits:
- Ninety-five percent think it's very or somewhat important to know if a candidate was reported to the State Legislative Ethics Committee for alleged ethics violations.
- More people (34.6 percent) think the Occupy Wall Street movement has too much influence on government than business and industry organizations (29.3 percent).
- While 49.6 percent of those surveyed think the nation is heading in the wrong direction, 69.9 percent think the state is heading in the wrong direction.
- More people disapproved (49 percent) of Gov. Quinn’s work than approved (42.2 percent).
- Only 50.4 percent "have confidence in the honesty of elections in Illinois."
The entire poll is a fascinating peek inside the state and is certainly worth a read — it also explores issues like the Citizens United case and caps on campaign contributions. Meanwhile, Derrick Smith still has a chance of being elected.
Also: Rejoice! Sing praises to the sculpted arms of Ed Hochuli! Bring only the finest meats and chesses to our bacchanal, for the real NFL referees are returning to the field this weekend. While talks had already been scheduled for this week, the Sh*tstorm in Seattle – a game with such bad refereeing that gamblers got their money back – certainly expedited negotiations. Thanks ot the agreement, the refs will be back in time for tonight’s Cleveland-Baltimore tilt.
And then: I know I’ve been pretty harsh on Mayor Emanuel’s tenure so far, but one thing he’s managed to do is put a big dent in the enormous budget gap Richard M. Daley left for him. While the initial projections were in excess of $600-700 million, it looks like Rahm’s aggressive approach has slashed that in half: Now the projected gap is only (yes, “only”) $298 million and Rahm got us here without raising taxes. However, Emanuel’s hinted that a hike on cigarette taxes could be coming when he presents his budget plan to the City Council in two weeks.
RIP: Andy Williams, singer and television personality, at the age of 84 after a battle with cancer. Even though he recorded 18 gold and three platinum albums, only one song, "Butterfly," reached number one. But that's hardly a sign of Williams' popularity: so many of his songs, including "Where Do I Begin," and, of course, "Moon River," have earned a place in America's music canon. Williams also hosted a popular television variety show and, for decades, regular Christmas specials that became a staple of the later part of his career.
- The 713th Engineer Company of the Indiana National Guard got an emotional welcome home yesterday. The company returned after a year in Afghanistan in which six of its 95 members were killed.
- Speaking of military heroes, check out this harrowing video of a troop caught in a gun fight in Afghanistan, and the one soldier who rushes into enemy fire to draw attention away from his squad.
- Americans are getting fatter in part because labels on food and clothing sometimes cause us to eat even more.
- A Chicago-bound United flight out of Raleigh didn’t make the full trip; the pilot turned the plane around and headed home due to unpleasantness between two flight attendants.
- Mike Love is firing three other Beach Boys, including founding member and songwriter extraordinaire Brian Wilson.
- A disturbing story out of Elgin where a man is facing animal cruelty charges after authorities found 60 dead cats in his van.
- A new deal between the city and airlines at Midway could help the city save as much as $1.5 million per year.
- The Wirtz family is prepping a $25 million sprucing-up of 333 N. Michigan Ave.
- Apple’s new iOS6 maps app does some weird things to the Chicago landscape.
- Time Out explores potential future developments along the Chicago River.
- Sox Watch: After a loss to the Indians last night, the Sox are now a game back of the Tigers, who beat Kansas City earlier in the day.
- Fox Chicago spoke to former Bears QB Jim McMahon about his ongoing battle with dementia and its relation to his playing career.
- The Cubs look to be active in the free agent market this offseason which should be less anxious for fans with Theo Epstein at the helm.
- As the Bulls get ready for training camp, they’ve invited veteran center Kyrylo Fesenko to join the team for workouts.
- Union officials and league representatives from the NHL are preparing to meet again on Friday for more negotiations in hopes of ending the league’s lockout.
More information than you ever wanted to know about toilets.