I feel I must come to the defense of Bruce Dold and the Chicago Tribune editorial board, which was criticized in your Hot Type column of January 21 for asking in the Tribune judicial endorsement questionnaire, "Do you support the death penalty?"
While the question may have been poorly worded (that portion of the overall question could have been omitted, inasmuch as deciding whether or not Illinois should have a death penalty is a legislative matter), the rest of the Tribune's question on the subject seems more appropriate for judicial comment (such as how the court system could provide assurance that this penalty is used fairly and equitably).
Instead of nit-picking Dold and the Tribune, you should be commending them for continuing to make the effort to make evaluations on all judicial races, a responsibility which has been abandoned since 1996 by the Chicago Sun-Times. Dold has come a long way in the past quarter century, since the days when we worked at Northwestern University's student-run radio station, WNUR. (Of course back then, while I was WNUR's chief government and political news reporter, Dold was busy spinning records as the station's jazz show producer, and later on, its music director.)
At least Dold and the Tribune are trying to evaluate the judicial candidates. The Sun-Times has been content in circuit court races to simply print the candidates' bar associations ratings (which won't do voters much good in races where two or more candidates have the same ratings, unless you flip a coin in the voting booth).
As the endorsement coordinator for the Illinois Committee for Honest Government, which generally takes more endorsement actions in judicial races than anyone else in the state (with the possible exception of the Tribune), I urge your readership to seek out as much information as possible about the judicial candidates and every other race on the ballot prior to the March 21 elections. While I urge them to contact the ICHG to get our endorsement guide (which will be released on Sunday, March 5), I would be remiss if I did not encourage them to seek out further information from other groups, the news media, and the candidates themselves. After all, on March 21 voters are supposed to cast an educated vote in every race on the ballot. Why don't we all try to work together toward reaching for that elusive goal?
Illinois Committee for Honest Government