The Illinois Senate has started the governor’s impeachment trial without the governor or any of his attorneys. Any guesses how it will turn out? Not that many of us are sorry…. In the meantime: 

·        President Obama has taken the first steps toward allowing states to set their own caps on auto emissions that contribute to global warming. Since California established tougher standards than the federal government in 2002, more than a dozen other states have followed its lead, but the Bush administration refused to let their new rules be implemented. The federal opposition was also a major reason proposed legislation for Illinois died in the last legislative session. Expect to see that proposal reintroduced.

·        Congressional passage of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act—federal legislation designed to make it easier for unions to organize—may give a competitive advantage to states that are already labor friendly, according to a story in the Detroit Free-Press. If so, Illinois could benefit: in 2007, 14.5 percent of its workforce was unionized, the 13th highest rate in the country, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

·        Are pay-to-play politics actually illegal? The Trib reports that the U.S. Supreme Court could weigh in if it decides to take the appeal of Robert Sorich, the former top Daley aide who was convicted in 2005 of fraud for running City Hall’s patronage system.

·        Mayor Daley is obviously not ruffled by critics who say he’s selling off the city’s assets for short-term gain. Over the weekend Chicago Public Radio reported that he’s suggesting the Obama administration think about privatization some things too.

·        Meanwhile, a federal report has found that many of the corporations that received bailout money have offshore subsidiaries that could help them dodge federal taxes. Among the firms is Morgan Stanley, the prime investor in the Daley administration’s deals to privatize city parking meters and parking garages. Morgan Stanley is also leading a campaign to encourage governments to allow private companies to build, manage, and profit from roads and other publicly used assets from the point of construction.