Roland, Roland, Roland. Democratic U.S. Sen. Roland Burris is doing some fast talking trying to explain why a secretly recorded telephone conversation he had with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's brother didn't jibe with his previous accounts of how he came to be appointed to the seat.

Roland, Roland, Roland.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Roland Burris is doing some fast talking trying to explain why a secretly recorded telephone conversation he had with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's brother didn't jibe with his previous accounts of how he came to be appointed to the seat.

Things like whether he promised money in exchange for the appointment and even with whom he talked about being appointed.

When Burris appeared before the House impeachment committee to explain himself, his rapidly failing memory prevented him from remembering conversations he had about the appointment just weeks earlier. That probably excuses him from the oath he took before the committee to tell "the whole truth" since he couldn't remember even part of it.

His memory apparently refreshed after hearing the tapes made by federal authorities, Burris said the part where he suggested an illegal fundraising practice was just a slip of the tongue. And the part where he appeared to make a cash promise to the Blagojevich campaign? Just lying. Never intended to go through with that because it would be wrong.

The worst thing is that Burris sounded so horrible with his denials. An Illinois politician really should be much more glib and skilled at denial when called upon to reconcile his contradictions between his public statements and law enforcement tape recordings.

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Gov. Pat Quinn appointed a commission to recommend ethics changes. They did, recommending things that would affect the lawmakers who had to vote on the changes. Apparently, the commission went much further with this ethics thing than the lawmakers wanted it to go. This was clearly unacceptable.

Before anything rash was done (like vote on really stringent ethics reforms) the reforms were watered down. It was done to the point that the ethics commission opposed the ethics reforms. Still, Quinn supports the new versions, even though he once demanded that lawmakers vote on every single recommendation made by the commission. 

So Quinn endorses ethics changes that the commission Quinn appointed to recommend ethics changes says are worthless. How many of you are really surprised?

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Give Sen. James Meeks, D-Chicago, some sort of honesty-in-government award for his very public comments to some special visitors.

Whenever the General Assembly is in session, it's not unusual for the Capitol to be filled with visitors, whether they are school groups or clubs simply wanting to see the building or special interest groups looking for legislation and/or money.

Some members of the Chicago city council visited the Senate chamber last week.

Meeks stood up and on his microphone formally greeted the council. He then told them not to stop by his office or otherwise try to badger him for favors.

Basically he told them the state has no money and he has no money so don't waste your time. It was refreshingly blunt.

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The chicken is back in the Illinois House. Fried chicken that is.

Around Springfield, Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, is almost as well known for his fried chicken as he is for being a lawmaker. It's through Poe's Catering, which is actually owned by his son, but which most people assume belongs to Poe.

Late in the spring session, Poe brought in chicken lunches for his colleagues. The food was on tables in a hallway outside the House. House members and staffers would load up plates, bring them back into the chamber and happily chomp away.

They did that until the state spent beaucoup bucks to remodel the chamber. New rules issued by Madigan's office banned food and drink on the House floor itself to keep the new carpet pristine. The rules also banned food from the hallway.

Two years ago, Poe moved the whole operation into a second floor hallway outside of Secretary of State Jesse White's office. That lasted one year. Last year, there was nothing. Now it's back.

"I probably had 117 requests (out of 118 members)," Poe said.

The food tables were set up in a suite of Republican offices behind the chamber.

Poe had to supply Styrofoam food containers with covers on them to get permission for the lunch. That way, lawmakers could transport food through the chamber and into the designated eating area without danger of spilling.

It was a success. No stains on the carpeting.

Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or doug.finke@sj-r.com.