All Opinions Content

All Opinions Content

John Foreman: UI Chief won't be retired, but his days are numbered

For fully two years now, University of Illinois trustees have endured the impatient abuse of partisans on both sides as they quietly held to an elusive course of seeking "consensus" on the future of Chief Illiniwek.

And the journey was made none the easier by the abrupt intervention of the NCAA.

State government missing chance to build rainy day fund

Today is the final day of Illinois' fiscal year, just an ordinary day for most people but a big day for the accountants, agency heads and legislators who keep an eye on state finances. By every account, because of a healthy economy, this has been a very good fiscal year. Through May, the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability found, revenue into state government was up $1.1 billion, or nearly 5 percent, from the year before. Leading the way was a remarkable 18.4 percent jump in corporate income tax receipts. The two other major revenue sources – personal income tax and sales tax receipts – were up more than 7 percent.

Freedom Celebration needs your help

A few weeks ago, the Champaign County Freedom Celebration Committee – the all-volunteer group that hosts the local Independence Day race, parade, evening entertainment and fireworks show – mailed out more than 57,000 fundraising letters. So far, only about 1,100 have come back with contributions.

Expenses, especially insurance, are up. But contributions to the Freedom Celebration Committee are actually down so far this year, despite growth in the community and a healthy economy. "We try to keep our budget to about $85,000 every year," said Tom Heinhorst, who has served as the committee's treasurer almost every year since 1972. "But it's getting to the point where we might have to take a hard look at what we do with our parade and our fireworks show."

Vermont, thankfully, not headed for reform

About the only good thing that can be said about a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Vermont's campaign finance law is that it struck down preposterously low limits on amounts of money that electoral candidates may spend and that donors may contribute.

Other than that, the court's decision is a complete hash that surely raises many more questions than it answers.

Line-item veto plan moves on to Senate

The U.S. House of Representatives last week approved modified line-item veto authority for the president, sending the legislation on to the Senate for further action.

Large subsidies to state fairs should be reviewed

The Illinois State Fair lost $3.3 million last year, an audit by Illinois Auditor General William Holland has found.

That, unfortunately, is nothing new. The Springfield fair lost $3.2 million in 2003 and $3.8 million in 2004. And that's on top of similar losses at the DuQuoin State Fair, also overseen by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Billy Morrow Jackson, 1926-2006

Billy Morrow Jackson, like many of those who lived through the Depression years and World War II, had an interesting life. And because he was an artist, and a very good one, he was able to bring great perspective to all the things he saw and experienced in his 80 years.

Mr. Jackson, who died on June 16, was born in Kansas City, Mo. Undoubtedly that is where he developed his appreciation for the prairie – a place that others, including artists, look at and scoff. What beauty can there be, they say, in something so flat, so monotonous, so stark, so simple? Yet Mr. Jackson saw in the Champaign County landscape something that others didn't. He saw light and life and water and color and big skies, even when they are gray, that tell a great story. Those paintings titled "Philo Bound" and "Broadlands" and "South of Sidney" told historical tales about hard work and hard lives and determination and the beauty and the power of nature.

Can loss of Christie downtown be a net gain for Champaign?

Aside from some churches, Champaign's city government and The News-Gazette, no institution has been in downtown Champaign longer than Christie Clinic. But after 77 years in Champaign's central core, Christie is moving out to the city's fringes.

Aside from the historical significance, the clinic's move is a loss for downtown. It means fewer Christie employees and patients coming downtown, making use of banks, shops and restaurants. It means fewer people feeding the city's parking meters. It means, overall, the loss of more than 1,000 people downtown every day.

Mayors' smoke signal is not hard to read

It's not exactly a display of buyer's remorse, but the mayors of both Champaign and Urbana continue to express new ideas about the specifics of implementing the public smoking bans recently approved by their respective city councils.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing announced that she wants to change the effective date of her city's smoke ban to Jan. 1 both for bars and restaurants. The Urbana City Council earlier set separate effective dates for restaurants and bars, Aug. 1 for restaurants and Jan. 1 for bars.

Tanner ready for a fourth shuttle flight

Danville native Joe Tanner is scheduled to return to space this summer, perhaps as early as August. The people of East Central Illinois join him in hoping for another safe and productive flight.

Joe Tanner – Danville native, University of Illinois graduate and veteran of three NASA missions and more than 31 days in outer space – is slated to go back for more in August. That's good news not only for Tanner's admirers but also for those who want to see the United States get back into space exploration.