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The players and coaches on the St. Joseph-Ogden girls' softball team set the bar high at the start of the season – the goal was the Class A state championship and nothing less – and last weekend they did what they set out to do.
So congratulations to the Spartans for an unforgettable 31-6 season and a season-ending streak of 16 consecutive wins topped off by a 1-0 victory in the championship game against Casey-Westfield.
Pardon us if we're skeptical of the federal government's alleged concern about wind energy farms and their potential effect on long range defense-related radar. The real issue here, rather than national defense, seems to be delaying proposed wind farms along the Eastern seaboard.
Some influential senators, most notably Virginia's John Warner, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, were able to slip a sentence into the 2006 Defense Department authorization bill that requires a study of the effect of wind turbines on radar. Warner's request apparently wasn't subject to Senate debate since six Senate Democrats, including Illinois' Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, denounced it last week, contending that it will set back the development of a promising alternative energy technology.
It looks like you can count Michael Madigan among all the other skeptics regarding Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plan to lease or sell the state lottery.
And if Madigan – the speaker of the Illinois House and the head of the Illinois Democratic Party – is skeptical, that's not a good sign for the governor.
Some "crises" are manufactured in order to have politicians ride to the rescue at what appears to be the last minute, taking action just as the metaphoric train is about to run over the maiden tied to the rails.
Take, for example, the onrushing electric rate increase bearing down on Illinois consumers. It's no secret that rates, frozen in Illinois since 1997, are about to increase. That's been anticipated since the state adopted a utility rate deregulation plan a decade ago. No one could expect that electricity costs would not jump substantially on Jan. 2, 2007. Indeed, there are estimates that electric rates could increase 30 percent, perhaps even more, when Illinois incorporates a power auction into its rate-setting system in September.
After a May 26 sheriff's sale and the completion of a few more legal niceties, the city of Champaign will acquire the ownership deed to the Lone Star Lodge, thus completing a financial fiasco for taxpayers of astounding proportions.
Taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $700,000 in loan principle, interest and legal costs following the ill-advised decision by the city council to underwrite the construction of this Masonic Lodge. The 6,000-square-foot building located at 208 N. First St. carries an appraisal value of $360,000, although there's no guarantee the city can actually sell it for that price on the open market.
It's too soon to hail the cooperation and court management at the Champaign County Courthouse as a permanent improvement, but it sure is a good sign.
Not only is the county jail system not overcrowded, it's not even crowded. The two county correctional centers, which have a capacity of 309 inmates, have been reporting populations of 200, sometimes less, in recent weeks. Among other things, that means less cost for county taxpayers (with no boarding of prisoners to other counties) and less stress on the correctional officers who work in a dangerous and stressful environment.
Fans of the University of Illinois men's tennis team are used to outstanding play, but no one ever gets used to winning a national championship.
So congratulations are due to Kevin Anderson and Ryan Rowe, Fighting Illini sophomores who combined last week to win the NCAA men's doubles championship. Anderson and Rowe, who were seeded No. 3 in the 32-team tournament, won the championship match with a straight set win over Pepperdine.
Champaign County Board Chair Barbara Wysocki suddenly has a real choice – and a welcome one – when it comes to making two appointments to the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District board.
Only a few months ago, it seemed that Wysocki's choice would be either to reappoint board members H. George Friedman and Vicki Stewart or not to appoint anyone. No one else seemed to have any interest in serving on the transit district board.
The notion that congressional offices provide some sort of legal haven where criminal activity is beyond reach seems like a stretch. But a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans appears to be asserting exactly that claim in the angry aftermath of a search by federal investigators of the offices of U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat.
But with both Congress and the executive branch protecting their prerogatives, the best way to get a definitive answer as to whether congressional offices are immune from investigation for alleged criminal behavior is to turn to the courts.
If you were looking for a thorough review of issues, problems, the state budget and more in the first "debate" between Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Republican Judy Baar Topinka, you had to be disappointed last week. But if you were looking for a verbal food fight, well, that's what you got.