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GOP's Topinka must run a positive campaign

Last week's jawing by the two major party candidates for governor probably will serve as a microcosm for the rest of the campaign, if not a microcosm of traditional Democratic versus Republican politics.

On Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair, Democrat Rod Blagojevich took credit for expanding education and health care funding, the state budget and long-term finances be damned.


Tobacco oxymoron: Legal racketeering

For decades, tobacco industry representatives were in the same boat as members of the flat-earth society. They tried to convince the public of something everyone knows isn't true: that smoking cigarettes is not a health threat.

Last week, U.S. Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that companies like Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds had "lied, misrepresented and deceived the American public" about the effects of cigarette smoke. The companies face no financial penalty. However, they will be required to publish newspaper advertisements acknowledging their sins and barred from labeling cigarettes as "low-tar" and "light."


Champaign schools' troubles keep growing

If people weren't already concerned about the future of the Champaign schools, the latest revelations involving the implementation of the consent decree and the speed with which it must be done should have them rethinking the issue.

In late July, U.S. Judge Joe Billy McDade denied the school district's request for additional time, until the 2007-08 school year, to provide additional elementary school seats in north Champaign. The consent decree negotiated by the school district called for the additional seats to be built by the 2005-06 year, and a deal apparently is a deal. The fact that the Champaign schools have empty seats available at two elementary schools in the north (Stratton and Garden Hills) is apparently irrelevant to McDade.


Case takes another wild turn

It would be nice if the murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey has finally been solved. The 1996 killing of the child was a horrific crime.

But the arrest of 41-year-old John Mark Karr in Thailand earlier this week raises as many questions as it answers. The principal issue concerns whether Karr's confession to accidently killing the child after sexual assaulting is valid or if he's, for lack of a better word, a nut confessing toa crime he didn't commit.


Hydrant inspections enhance public safety

Operating on the theory that two heads are better than one, Urbana's firefighters will start conducting routine inspections to make sure that fire hydrants maintained by the local water company are in good operating order.

That's a great idea. But it raises a question: Why weren't inspections already being done?


Council did its job well in filling vacancy

There was no marathon deliberations and multiple votes this time, as compared with last time, when members of the Champaign City Council took a vote to fill the council seat vacated by Kathy Ennen.

On Tuesday evening, Council Member Mike LaDue nominated local lawyer Deborah Frank Feinen, a veteran member of the Champaign County Board, and the council confirmed the nomination by a 5-3 vote. Then it was over.


Peace, for now, along the Israel-Lebanon border

When the Israeli military invaded Lebanon roughly a month ago, its military goals were crystal clear: to destroy the Hezbollah militia and secure the border area from which the terror group routinely launched missiles and engaged in attacks against the Jewish state.

Now, with a cease-fire in place, circumstances are anything but clear.


Delta's departure bad news for Champaign-Urbana

The recent news that Delta Air Lines will end local service from the University of Illinois' Willard Airport in Savoy to Atlanta is disappointing but not surprising.

In business, market forces rule. Local officials tried to get around that truism by creating a "ticket trust" to subsidize air service from Delta. But with the trust no longer in operation, Delta decided that providing two daily flights to its main hub in Atlanta is not economically feasible.


County must provide nursing home reports

That mold was found during construction of the still-unopened $24 million Champaign County Nursing Home is no secret. County officials have acknowledged it, discussed it, even appropriated additional money to pay for the facility, which was supposed to cost $20 million and was supposed to open last spring.

But what still isn't known about the mold problem is whether county officials knew about it soon enough to minimize delays and cost overruns. Excessive secrecy has compounded that suspicion.


Good news for two Illinois firms

If you're concerned about Illinois' fragile economy, you have to be concerned about two of the state's biggest employers: Kraft Foods and United Airlines. But after years of bad news and continuing challenges, particularly at United, the outlook has improved to the point where analysts are relatively bullish on both companies.

Kraft's future is, of course, of great interest to Champaign County. The Kraft plant here is one of the community's largest employers, with about 1,300 workers. Statewide, Kraft employs about 8,000. It's been a difficult year for the Northfield-based company, with plant closings and employee layoffs (none in Illinois) and the uncertainty of its imminent sale by its parent company, the Altria Group.