The "Illinois Coffee"
Last week, I was in Washington, D.C., and attended Senator Richard Durbin's "Illinois Coffee," an informal gathering with constituents on Thursday mornings. I had always heard about these, and I was delighted to attend one. People from different parts of Illinois showed up on the ninth floor on the Hart Senate Building (Durbin's office is on the third floor). Durbin gave brief remarks and then he and Senator Roland Burris took questions. Some of his staff was there, and I have to say they were very hospitable. We felt very welcome there, and we left more informed. One more thing. They also made it possible for everybody to have their pictures taken with the senators; it was really well-organized. I've been told that Durbin has had those regular weekly gatherings for a long time. He used to have an Illinois member of Congress as a guest, then Senator Obama. If you ever decide to go, dress casually as if you were Durbin's next-door neighbor in Springfield. That's the feeling he gives you -- while giving you access to one of the U.S. Senate's most important members, but he doesn't tell you that. He doesn't need to.