All Opinions Content

All Opinions Content

Congress not above the law

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., issued a decision last week that won't go down very well on Capitol Hill.

U.S. Judge Thomas Hogan ruled that members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are subject to the same criminal laws as "ordinary citizens."

Governor's PR style pushes the envelope

Given the nature of politics and Gov. Rod Blagojevich's public-relations approach toward his office, it would have been a big surprise if Blagojevich hadn't used his highly touted "All Kids" health insurance program for political gain.

But, once again, the governor's office is way over the top in its effort to portray Blagojevich's health insurance program for poor and middle-class kids as more than it is.

Council litmus tests would be big mistake

The Champaign City Council last week disposed of a minor issue related to filling the at-large council vacancy created by the resignation of Council Member Kathy Ennen. But two other tougher ones remain.

For starters, council members ignored a city administration timetable that would have pushed the selection of Ennen's replacement to Sept. 6, a date outside the 60-day limit set by state law to fill vacancies.

High-profile prof laid foundation for firing

In the world of academe, it's difficult to fire a tenured professor, even when justified.

University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill may be the exception to that rule.

Top pol takes fall in state corruption probe

The pursuit of corruption in Illinois state government in Springfield took another new turn this week when the one-time chief of staff to House Republican Leader Lee Daniels pleaded guilty to corruption charges in federal court and was sentenced to prison.

News reports have for months indicated that one-time top GOP operative Mike Tristano was caught in the feds' net and cooperating in their continuing investigation to save his own hide. But it became official Wednesday when Tristano formally entered a plea of guilty to charges of diverting state resources to Republican campaigns, and prosecutors praised Tristano for assisting them in their probe.

Ryan pal too old, sick to do time for his crime

A sentencing hearing this week for a crony of former Gov. George Ryan exemplifies one of the frustrations of the criminal justice system: sometimes bad guys, even if convicted, still escape serious punishment.

Although involved in a wide variety of wrongdoing in his association with Ryan, lobbyist and former state Sen. Ron Swanson of Homer Glen pleaded guilty to perjury in connection with repeated lies he told to federal investigators and grand jurors. For this, Swanson was fined $20,000 and sentenced to two years of probation by U.S. Judge Robert Gettleman.

School violence rears its ugly head again

There was considerable controversy in April when the Champaign school board voted to approve the introduction of police officers into the high schools and middle schools this fall to help maintain a safer and more disciplined environment.

Despite some overwrought objections from critics, the wisdom of that decision has been confirmed by continuing student behavior issues that have resulted in fights, injuries and arrests during summer school at Centennial High School.

Strong U.S. economy lowers budget deficit

When people talk about how the economy's doing, they usually approach the subject from a purely personal point of view.

So their answers might depend on the higher costs of gasoline, whether they got a raise recently, if their adjustable rate mortgage has increased or if a stock they purchased has gone through the roof.

Another small step for Lincoln Hall's renovation

Five million dollars down. Just $53 million or so to go. That's all it's going to take to finally get going on the long-delayed renovation of Lincoln Hall on the University of Illinois campus.

Too bad it's not going to occur in time for the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth in 2009. And state Sen. Rick Winkel, R-Urbana, who's been pushing the project for about four years, will be long gone from the Legislature by the time the project is under way. But sometimes things take a while in state government – unless it's money for a Chicago legislator's pet project.

Congratulations to United Way and its supporters

It was good news to hear recently that the United Way of Champaign County had a terrific year in 2005, bringing in $2.94 million and exceeding its fundraising goal for the first time in five years.

Among other things, the fundraising success means that United Way is able to devote an extra $70,000 this year to local preschools, health care and anti-hunger programs.