Illinois Budget 10.29.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at Please check in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
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Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343,


Casey Laughman: Take a step back to add depth to coverage

Niche 2010 schedule: Check out the Niche products planned for next year.

APME blog: Follow the St. Louis conference


Fitness center uses pole dancing as centerpiece of workouts

LOVES PARK – Loves Park’s newest fitness center asks women to drop their inhibitions and break a sweat in a pole-dancing workout. Pole Chicks, a women-only fitness center that opened last week, features a roughly hour-long class that works your body’s inner core. It also incorporates upper-arm strength and works legs and thighs, owner Whitney Eliot said. Pole dancing is often thought as being confined to gentlemen’s establishments, but health clubs and dance studios across the United States have started incorporating it as a fitness class. By Kevin Haas of the Rockford Register Star.


State Briefs. News from around the state.

VETO SESSION: Lawmakers work on a busy Thursday on key issues facing them in their fall veto session, including campaign finance reform and free transit rides for seniors. State Capitol Bureau. Will be posted this evening.
AL-MARRI SENTENCE: Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, who pleaded guilty in April to providing material support to al-Qaida, finds out his sentence Thursday afternoon. By Andy Kravetz of the Peoria Journal. Will be posted this evening.

Should Halloween always be on Oct. 31? Retailer says no

SPRINGFIELD – There's a national campaign under way to change the date of Halloween so it always lands on the last Saturday of October like it will this year. Although some people hate the idea, it's an indication of the growing importance to retailers of Halloween sales as a bridge between summer and Christmas. By Tim Landis of the State Journal-Register.


‘Tap Dogs’ modernizes art of tap dancing

SPRINGFIELD – Created by Olivier Award-winning choreographer Dein Perry, designer and director Nigel Triffitt and composer Andrew Wilkie, “Tap Dogs” premiered in Australia and is performed on a set made to look like a construction site. The show is a dramatic departure from traditional tap dancing. "Tap Dogs" comes to Sangamon Auditorium on Sunday. By Dru Willis of the State Journal-Register.

MOVIE REVIEW: Michael Jackson appears full of life in new film

“This Is It” shows Michael Jackson as an artist who was not yet past his prime. By Brian Mackey of the State Journal-Register.

Kelly Epperson: The ghosts of Halloween past

My boys are into Halloween again. Of course, when they were younger, Halloween was a given. As were Power Ranger costumes. Then they reached an age when they didn’t do Halloween. And then they circled back to an age when now they do.


BRITT: Toon on Mark McGwire returning to the St. Louis Cardinals as hitting – and cheating – coach.

Kevin Haas: Have you heard the one about the ...?

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve managed to avoid anything that has to do with The Balloon Boy Saga. I did this because I feel I have an innate ability to notice when a news story is going to completely waste my time. If you have the same ability, you’ve probably stopped reading this column by now. But here are some news stories I did waste my time on.

Chuck Sweeny: Jim Ryan poised for comeback bid for governor

The year 2002 was a political lifetime ago, and a year of great change in Illinois. The Republicans had controlled the governor’s office since Jim Thompson’s first election in 1976, but the latest member of the dynasty, Gov. George Ryan, had run the GOP train off the rails. Eight years later, former Attorney General Jim Ryan hopes to do what he couldn't in 2002: win the gubernatorial race.

Bernard Schoenburg: Governor’s race features bad hair, name-calling

With a late start and a silly, but noticeable advertising gimmick — putting Rod Blagojevich hair on pictures of other people, including former Govs. George Ryan and Otto Kerner — “outsider” Andy McKenna has entered the contest for governor.


Slow starts for offense, red-zone struggles for defense make Bears mediocre

LAKE FOREST – The Bears defense hasn’t always been bad recently. The offense, too, has been more potent than credited. It’s mostly just two areas that make it appear as if the sky is falling for the Bears: The defense collapses at the most important spot on the field. The offense starts slow and seldom builds a lead. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star.

Bears Quick Shots: Bears continue to do the safety dance

The Bears need safety help so badly they’ve tried to switch first Corey Graham and now Nathan Vasher from corner to free safety. Both are nice tries; Quick Shots singled out safety as Chicago’s co-No. 1 need before the draft, equal to receiver, and the Bears didn’t pick a safety until taking Al Afalava in the sixth round. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star.

BIG TEN BASKETBALL MEDIA DAY: Michigan State is the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten. Again. With a number of stars returning, the league hopes to make a big splash on the national stage this winter. By John Supinie. Will be posted this evening.