Thirty Days Have September, April, June … And Illinois (Finally) Has a Budget!

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Well, I think so.

As of this writing, late afternoon on June 30, 2016, both houses of the Illinois legislature have agreed to a “stopgap” budget to fund education, transportation and human services here in my home state for the next six months. Now it needs the governor’s signature.

All is well in Springfield, Illinois, the seat of power in the Land of Lincoln, now that a half budget has been approved.

All is well in Springfield, Illinois, the seat of power in the Land of Lincoln, now that a half budget has been approved.

In case you haven’t been following this monumental story, the elected legislators of Illinois were supposed to have a budget passed on June 30 — of 2015.  As one could imagine, this lack of fiduciary responsibility has led to lots of challenges for the people who live and work here and the companies who do business here.

I’ll reserve any commentary on the factors behind this momentous lack of prudent governance. Other commentators have blasted first-term Governor Bruce Rauner and the leaders of the General Assembly for, in light of a better phrase, playing politics to an extreme perhaps never realized in modern governmental history.

I will comment and offer some public relations counsel on what needs to — or better yet, should — happen next.  As a service to the people of Illinois, let me propose this framework of a plan using the classic four-step public relations program concept.

  1. Define the Threat or Opportunity: Most plans address one or the other. Illinois today faces both. Threat: Continued loss of stature, reputation, people, businesses and revenues. Opportunity: To demonstrate to the nation and world that even dysfunctional governments can change.
  2. Conduct Research: This should be fairly straightforward: Calculate how much the state has lost over the past 365 days (note topics in “threat” from #1 above) and what value can be gained through sound governance.
  3. Communicate: Issue regular — perhaps daily — messages on how the government is working to do what it’s supposed to do: Exercise executive authority fairly and justly to the benefit of all its citizens.
  4. Evaluate and Make Revisions: One target date to consider is November 8. That’s Election Day in Illinois and nationwide. You know what I’m referring to.

Yes, this is simplistic, and I strongly doubt that the elected officials across the state will take notice.

But Illinois has only one direction to go. And, hey, legislators are half-way to the finish line.

NOTE: As a disclosure, I work for a state university; I wrote this post on my own time. My comments are my own.

Galena Getaway: A Travelogue

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Last month, Susan and I traveled to the historic and very picturesque Northwest Illinois town of Galena.  We had a purpose: To celebrate my birthday and get away from the city.  (Okay, no need for a late birthday gift, but if you insist, I would welcome a Gibson ES 335 guitar to my collection; cherry red preferred.)

We have history in Galena, a town that once was a major center of commerce but now is a prime Midwest destination for visitors. More than a dozen years ago, we owned an investment condo in a new development among the rolling hills and hallows just east of town. The investment, let’s say, was not the best expenditure of financial resources.  So we sold it and had not returned to Jo Daviess County and the storybook — well, for Illinois — community since.  When we visited in August, we found that what attracted us to the area was intact and just as special.  Picture post card weather certainly helped.

Our itinerary was simple: Relax, visit the town, cruise the winding country roads, enjoy the serenity, and relax further. Some memories:

  • Stopping on a side road at night and hearing a symphony of cicadas, crickets and other insects. It was near deafening, but thrilling to enjoy beneath a starlit night sky.
  • Recognizing some new developments in and around town, but not too many to spoil the character of the area.
  • The room we had at Eagle Ridge Resort, which faced woods, included a modest deck and offered privacy.
  • Lunch at Stella’s Cafe in nearby Stockton, IL, where we had an outstanding meal served by genuinely friendly people.  My BLT arrived on homemade bread and featured lots of bacon and real, home grown tomatoes.
  • The “musical stylings” of a singer/guitarist who performed in the Eagle Ridge lounge each evening.  He wore a cowboy hat, and deserved to. And, he sang “Happy Birthday” to me.

And now, a few visual memories. The good shots were taken by Susan with a good camera; the not-so-good shots came from my trusty BlackBerry.

The view of Galena from Grant Park.

The view of Galena from Grant Park, which overlooks downtown.

The town is known for General Grant.

The town is known as the home of U.S. President and Civil War hero General U.S. Grant. His home is here, and there’s a golf course named for him.

Standing on Main Street.

Standing on Main Street, I blended in with the other visitors with my cap, polo shirt and shorts.  But imagine what this street was like 120 years ago.

One of the grand mansions on the bluffs above downtown.

One of the grand mansions on the bluffs above downtown. It’s now a B&B. Great to know cool structures can be preserved.

How could you not like a town with a home named after you?

How could you not like a town with a home named after you? Actually, I was born a few years later.

Susan with a friendly butterfly.

Susan with a friendly butterfly who greeted us on the dock at Lake Galena behind Eagle Ridge Resort.

Lake Galena at sunset from Eagle Ridge Resort.

Lake Galena at sunset from the hill behind Eagle Ridge Resort. Serenity. Quiet. Peace. A great spot to ponder the good things about life.

The cafe in Stockton.

Stella’s Cafe on Main Street in Stockton. just east of Galena.

One of the best souviners .

A trip to farm country would not be the same without some farm stand produce. And, yes, the corn was delicious.

Galena is known as “the town that time forgot,” because remarkable number of well-preserved century-plus old homes and storefronts. We forgot about Galena, figuratively of course, for several years.  Our visit last month rekindled old memories and brought new ones.

We’ll be back.  Have you visited Galena?  Share your memories.