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Champaign council must ensure public business is public

What good is an agenda for a city council or school board if it is incomplete?

A proposed amendment to the Champaign City Council rules would allow council members to debate and act on an issue that has been postponed from an earlier meeting, even if it doesn't appear on the agenda for the current meeting. It's a bad idea.


Fithian site has everything Honda needs in plant location

All of the meetings have taken place, the site work has been completed, the paperwork is in and now the decision on whether to locate an automobile assembly plant in Vermilion County is in the hands of Honda executives and the company's board of directors. The board meets in Japan next week, making it likely that an announcement about the site of the plant (said to be a choice between Ohio, Indiana and Illinois) will be made no later than July.

It's been an interesting exercise, according to those few people who were intimately aware of Illinois' efforts to attract Honda. Although Illinois got a late start, it finished fast and, thanks to the cooperation of state and local officials, has made Honda a worthy offer focused on a site near Fithian.


'Judicial hellhole' losing reputation thanks to voters

There's been a revolution of sorts in the court system in southern Illinois, and it's all for the better.

Look at the number of class-action cases filed in Madison County. That area, just across the river from St. Louis, had recently been considered a "plaintiff's paradise" for venue-shopping attorneys who were seeking a county with friendly judges and juries inclined to favorable awards against big businesses.


Is the UAW ready for a new 'reality'?

United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger is trying to introduce his members to the new "reality" of industry economics.

If he succeeds, and there's no guarantee Gettelfinger will succeed, the domestic auto industry, most particularly General Motors, may have a chance to get past its current financial challenge. But if Gettelfinger fails, both the union and American car manufacturers face a long fall.


Dial 'W' to start talks with water company

For weeks now, city officials in Champaign-Urbana have been discussing publicly planned "negotiations" with representatives of the Illinois American Water Co. in an effort to reach accommodations on complaints that prompted the cities to discuss buying the company.

But all the talk of impending talks confuses Barry Suits, the water company's local manager, because no one has said anything to him about it.


The rate increase problem nobody wants, except ...

Talk about a hot potato, it seems no one wants to have anything to do with the upcoming issue of electric rate increases in Illinois.

Under rate deregulation legislation passed nearly 10 years ago, Illinois consumers have enjoyed an electric rate freeze. But a thaw is coming and now the state's two major providers – Ameren and Commonwealth Edison – are warning that major rate increases are on the way. How major will be determined by "reverse auction" of electric generation, scheduled for Sept. 5. It is at that auction that electricity prices for 2007 essentially will be set.


Honda's decision on Illinois site will be a telling exercise

There is no doubt that a $400 million automobile assembly plant employing 1,500 people would greatly invigorate the economy of East Central Illinois. Honda is said to be looking at a single site in Illinois for the location of its sixth U.S. plant, and there have been indications – none confirmed by state or Honda officials – that Fithian, just east of the Champaign-Vermilion county line, is the location.

Local business leaders and government officials would be elated if Honda were to select a site in Fithian or anywhere else in East Central Illinois.


Iraq's public enemy eliminated

The most lasting image we'll take from Thursday's announcement in Baghdad that terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed was the sustained applause at the press briefing. Perhaps the journalistic culture in Iraq is different than it is here in the United States, where reporters aren't supposed to cheer in the press box, or at press briefings. Or maybe the Iraqi journalists were just so elated that they couldn't contain themselves.

If the latter is the case, surely the Iraqi journalists weren't alone. There was cheering in some parts of Baghdad, especially in Shiite neighborhoods. The leaders of Iraq's fledgling government were obviously pleased. President Bush was restrained in his remarks at a Rose Garden news conference Thursday morning, but he had to be privately joyous. There could be no more villainous presence in Iraq than this leader of the insurgent group al-Qaida in Iraq, a man who reveled in beheadings, suicide bombings and the deaths of thousands of men, women and children.


Broadcasters' melodrama

Congress has taken a small step toward restoring some decency on prime-time network television.

From the response of some broadcasters and their supporters you would think the First Amendment had been overturned. Rest assured, the First Amendment iremains in place and network television will survive.


Gay marriage issue best left to state legislatures

It's no surprise that a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as an union of a man and a woman went down to defeat Wednesday in the U.S. Senate.

Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote of approval in both houses of Congress before the issue is sent to the states for ratification. Amending the Constitution is, by design, a long and difficult process and properly so. The Founding Fathers were not interested in changing the Constitution without a national consensus for doing so, and that clearly is missing on this issue – so far.