After former Illinois Gov. George Ryan was convicted earlier this year of a litany of corruption charges, it was a virtual certainty that the fall-back position of his high-priced lawyers would be that Ryan is too old and sick to serve much time behind bars.
So it was hardly a surprise last week when Ryan's lawyers filed legal arguments contending that their client is too old and sick to serve anything more than a minimum prison sentence. Plus, they said, his wife also is old and sick, and it would be a severe hardship for her to be without him. Plus, his kids say they are anguished about what their dad has endured, according to documents submitted to U.S. Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer.
Last Friday night, fans saw gleeful Urbana High School football players jumping up and down on the sidelines, doing backflips on the field and cheering kicker Michael Beckwith after he booted a 32-yard field goal to give Urbana a 35-34 win over Danville. It was one of those magic moments not easily forgotten; Beckwith is a soccer player who had never played football before, and here he was the hero.
For a little while.
A recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court put a dent in the halo that consumer advocate and occasional presidential candidate Ralph Nader wears with such pride.
The court affirmed a lower court decision assessing more than $80,000 in court costs against Nader's 2004 presidential campaign or personally against Nader and Nader's vice presidential candidate Peter Camejo in connection with a massive fraud the Nader campaign attempted to perpetrate to get on the Pennsylvania ballot.
The big block bounded by Springfield Avenue, Stoughton and Third and Fourth streets is Champaign's version of the Bermuda Triangle: every redevelopment project proposed for the site once occupied by Burnham Hospital mysteriously vanishes.
Two weeks ago, state officials proudly announced that average ACT scores in Illinois were up again, news that the State Board of Education headlined in a press release, "Illinois students' ACT test scores continue upward trend," and outgoing state school Superintendent Randy Dunn called "a very big deal." Upon further review, however, the results are nothing to boast about.
Yes, the composite score for Illinois students taking the test increased two-tenths of 1 point, from 20.3 to 20.5. But the composite national score also increased two-tenths of 1 point, from 20.9 to 21.1. Illinois scores didn't improve comparatively, they stayed the same. Furthermore, it turns out that composite scores "improved" in 37 states. In fact, in only six states did composite ACT scores decline. It's a bit like the Lake Woebegone effect, where all the students are above average.
Sometime today, the State Board of Elections will issue a decision on whether Rich Whitney of Carbondale can be the Green Party candidate for governor and Joseph Parnarauskis of Westville can be the Socialist Equality Party candidate for 52nd District state senator.
Not many people would consider a series of difficult mathematics tests to be "enjoyable." But then not everyone has Alex Zhai's aptitude and ability to solve math puzzles.
Even by the standards of the Middle East, where virtually everything seems strange, the kidnapping of two journalists from Fox News was bizarre.
There's a common misconception that as technology advances and consumer products improve, life becomes easier. One wonders. There's at least one area where it's certainly not true: the telephone.
In 1881, soon after Champaign-Urbana received telephone service, the Champaign Daily Gazette printed what essentially was the community's first telephone directory: a one-column listing of every local phone number. Nobody's number was longer than two digits. The Doane House Hotel was 39. The Illinois Central Railroad was 13. Theo Seigel's beer hall was 56.
The good news – actually, the very good news – is that a second major operator of coal-fired power plants in Illinois has agreed to reduce mercury pollution and other emissions on a far more aggressive timetable than the federal government requires. Houston-based Dynegy Inc. last week pledged to slash mercury emissions 90 percent by 2015, joining Ameren. Current federal rules require a 70 percent reduction by 2018.
The only major non-nuclear power plant operator in the state that hasn't agreed to the more stringent guidelines is Midwest Generation, which owns five power plants in the Chicago area. Unfortunately, it also is the No. 1 mercury pollutant in the state, with an estimated 33 percent of all the emissions. But Midwest Generation says it is negotiating with state officials, although it claims it cannot guarantee the level of reductions the Blagojevich administration wants.