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Thursday, March 9, 2006 01:23 pm

The Hype

Treasurer's publicity machine goes into high gear

Fax check Judy Baar Topinka leads the pack for the Republican nomination for governor. She’s also the only Republican who holds statewide office. Lately, it seems, Topinka’s office has been cranking out a news release a day — a marked increase in communications — on everything from lenders’ forums to an African-American History Month reception. Is it a coincidence? Is it political? T’s press secretary, John Hoffman, who rejoined Topinka last fall after a stint as executive director of the state GOP, denies that there’s been an increase — even though the treasurer’s Web site confirms it. For her part, Topinka says that her office is using up fax-machine cartridges from Chicago to Cairo — and the west side of Springfield — because Hoffman is great at what he does: “I don’t think that’s gotten higher than it normally is . . . but we may have more activity out of John because he’s John.”
Weed bill pulled Asked how his support of anti-tobacco-smoking legislation jibes with his pushing a bill supporting medicinal marijuana, state Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, says simply that both efforts promote health. After clearing the Senate Health and Human Services Committee last week, Cullerton’s medical-marijuana bill now goes before the full Senate, though Cullerton says that he’ll wait to call it for a vote until the fall veto session so that lawmakers won’t have to make a decision on the controversial measure during an election year. The proposal would make it legal for folks with diseases such as multiple sclerosis and AIDS who have a prescription to grow as many as eight cannabis plants and possess 2 1/2 ounces or less. Besides, Cullerton — who also authored a bill allowing counties to ban cigarette smoking in unincorporated areas — points out: “You don’t have to smokemarijuana; you can take it in your brownies.”

Bring ’em home Springfield resident and Illinois College grad Michael Ziri wants Springfield citizens to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to the Iraq war through a referendum that he hopes will appear on the November ballot. With liberal U.S. senators such as Hillary Clinton of New York and Joe Biden of Delaware reluctant to call for an immediate end to the war, Ziri says, “we have to take it to the streets, so to speak.” For the question to appear on the fall ballot, Ziri’s group, Springfield Citizens Against the War, must gather signatures from at least 3,700 Springfield voters by August. Petitions may be downloaded from www.letscomehome.com.
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