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Should state's rich pay more?

SPRINGFIELD – Voters in Cunningham, Danville, Georgetown and Carroll townships; the city of Rantoul; and 24 counties around the state will be asked March 16 whether they like the idea of a Robin Hood-style taxation system.

The "taxpayer action amendment" on the ballots in those areas is a nonbinding advisory question proposed by Lt. Governor Pat Quinn. About half of the state's population will have an opportunity to vote on the question.


'Carving out' mental health care

CHAMPAIGN – When two Champaign psychiatrists left Christie Clinic and set up new practices in Coles County last year, many of their Champaign-Urbana patients took on an out-of-town commute to continue treatment with the same doctors.

Now Drs. David Kopacz and Allan Crandell say many of their patients are fretting about another potential disruption to their mental health care – one that affects their insurance coverage.


Pricing land out of farmers' reach

ROSSVILLE – If 60 acres of farmland came up for sale adjacent to Brian Andrews' Rossville farm, he might have to sit on his hands and let someone else buy it.

As more and more cropland fetches prices around $4,000 or $5,000 per acre, local farmers like Andrews find they are being priced out of the market.


Unit 4's tech status? 'One ugly baby'

CHAMPAIGN – Technology experts assessing the condition of Champaign schools' computer system made one shocking discovery: 14 pornographic videos tucked away on an innocent employee's hard drive.

In fact, employees checking the extensive system discovered large amounts of inappropriate content stored in it, enough trash to fill up several hard drives, said David Malone, new interim director of educational technology.


Man's community efforts spring from real 'Barbershop'

CHAMPAIGN – Sean Williams was a budding entrepreneur nearly five years ago when he opened up his barbershop in north Champaign.

Through a program designed to encourage black businesses, Williams received a startup grant of $7,200, just enough to furnish and equip his shop with chairs and supplies. But he still didn't know what to call it.


Rossville: One week later

ROSSVILLE – Cindy Mahoney thought nothing could match the feelings of frustration and despair she felt eight days ago as she and her husband, Thomas, watched their small antiques store in downtown Rossville catch fire and burn to the ground. Then she learned that the couple's insurance policy on the business wouldn't begin to cover the cost of a cleanup or rebuild, and that no local, state or federal disaster relief funds were available to help them.

"It's quite sad," said Mahoney, as she sat in her Rankin home earlier this week and tried to inventory all of the items, both business and personal, that were lost. "Nothing's available. There's no state money for something like this. There's no federal money. And I can't imagine a little town like Rossville having the cash. It's kind of understandable because of the financial state the whole country is in. But it's frustrating all the same.


Author says cities' energy draws growth

URBANA – Richard Florida spent a lot of time trying to build Pittsburgh into an attractive community for high-tech business.

The rude awakening came when he visited Boston and opened the newspaper to find that Lycos, the search-engine company that had its roots in Pittsburgh, was moving to Boston.


Plot gets man 13-year term

URBANA – A Champaign man who plotted to kill his wife and would-be lover's husband was sentenced Thursday to 13 years in prison.

Under truth-in-sentencing, that means it will be about 10 years before Jason Broadstone, 31, of Champaign, can live with his two daughters, whom he begged a judge to let him have a chance to raise.


Carle ends practice of debtor arrests

URBANA – Carle Foundation Hospital will stop "body attachment" arrests of its debtors, effective immediately.

The practice, in which collection agencies use court-ordered arrests to wring money from patients in arrears, will no longer be used by the hospital, which described them as a rarely used method of last resort. The hospital announced the change on Friday.


Panel: Killer moms often overwhelmed

CHAMPAIGN – Two local mothers who killed their children may fit a pattern of being isolated, overwhelmed and disturbed.

The Eighth Annual Women's Law Symposium at the University of Illinois law school Friday brought together a national expert on mothers who kill with a lawyer and a psychiatrist who have first-hand experience here.