It was with a lot of happiness and pride that I was able to attend the swearing in of Riversider Tom Hennelly to a Cook County associate judgeship.

Riverside has had its share of great judges: Steven Brodhay, Bob Boharic, Patrick Murphy and others. And now we have Hennelly who was elected last year as Prosecutor of the Year when a member of the state’s attorney’s office.

He is just one of those people you know will take his responsibilities seriously, do a good job and advance the cause of justice. With some of the scandals that have wracked the Cook County judiciary in the past, it is a joy to see someone with Hennelly’s integrity and reputation appointed.

Considering that the original list of seekers to the 20 spots available was in the range of 250 people, it was to Tom’s credit that he got on the winnowed list of 40. Frankly, had he even stopped there, I would have been proud of his achievement. But, he went out and did the necessary campaigning to all the judges in Cook County who would be casting votes. Obviously, they were just as impressed with him as we all are.

He will now give up his volunteer post of vice president of the Riverside Township Regular Republican Organization because, as we know, judges have to steer clear of politics, and that is as it should be.

There is no question that we will all miss Tom’s handling of the grill at the annual Riverside Township GOP’s annual picnic, where he scored as one of the best hamburger flippers and hot dog enthusiasts.

But, this year, for the first time, the RTRRO has ended its traditional picnic because, frankly, there were too many other recreational options for people now, making competition with the picnic almost impossible.

Rather, the RTRRO had gone to ice cream socials to encourage young families to come out, meet and greet and take a more active interest in a political party. Judging by the success of the first ice cream social, there will be more to come.

I have been doing a bit more traveling of late, especially since the legislature just recently completed its session. Those times always require my time to be spent in Springfield, especially when there are so many things going on regarding the state budget.

No one yet knows just how much the budget is, which is, in and of itself, a rather interesting development. Depending on whose numbers one uses, it would be anything from $54 billion to $58 billion. I mean, what’s a few billion difference, right?

Since the budget is based so heavily on borrowing from future generations, it is not exactly a picture of fiscal responsibility.

For those of you with small children or grandchildren, you can figure that they will be picking up the tab for today’s spending, which has not decreased. I am dying to see the “memoranda of understanding” which the governor signed with individual legislators with promises of something to get their votes for this misbegotten budget.

We’ve never seen anything quite like that, either. Though, frankly, neither we nor the press has seen these memoranda as they are allegedly not ready for prime time. What we hear about them is from individual legislators who are not concerned about letting the public know what they got for their vote.

And, finally, I have to share with you a pet peeve. It is about clocks and timekeeping. For one thing, not a clock in my house has the same time. It is not as though they are not wound to get the same time. They just find their own comfort factor and tell time accordingly.

I have come to depend on the clock in the stove to keep me timely, foregoing the grandfather and weight-bonging clock I found at a Berwyn estate sale. Yup, these can all be annoying, but nothing beats the hotel clock or what gets passed off as such.

I have to stay in a variety of hotels in the course of a year. I carry my own travel alarm clock. It is the old windup kind where I can set the alarm and be assured that I will get a noise to wake up the dead the next day. One cannot buy these things any more as they have gone the way of the old radio, which was also easy to set and find a station. So, I have loaded up on them at estate sales just to make sure that I have one.

The reason why I carry them is that I cannot fathom how to work hotel alarm clocks, which are often tied into a radio, snooze alarms and all sorts of gizmos that require directions on how best to make them work.

Many’s the time that the previous room’s tenant has set the clock, and I am awakened to music or buzzes I never sought. Can’t hotels provide a clock that is easy to use for the technologically challenged? Til then, I will cart around my travel alarms.

My next diatribe will be about hotel pillows, but that will be for another time.