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Representatives of the local Democratic and Republican parties filled ballot vacancies for Champaign County offices last week. While each party still has a couple of slots still empty, they both did a creditable job in candidate recruitment, particularly for positions on the county board.
Two board districts, District 2 in the Rantoul area and District 8 in Urbana, do not have a full complement of candidates. Two Republicans will run unopposed in District 2, and two Democrats will run unopposed in District 8. But empty slots in the other seven districts were filled, and party leaders did far more than just come up with warm bodies.
Last Wednesday's newspapers provided Gov. Rod Blagojevich just what he wanted: photographs of the smiling governor seated next to the smiling James Meeks, an influential black minister and state senator who had threatened a third-party candidacy against Blagojevich in November. Meeks' candidacy would have doomed Blagojevich's re-election hopes because Meeks would have splintered the governor's biggest base of political support, the African-American vote in Cook County.
That's why Blagojevich was smiling. By proposing to sell off or lease the Illinois State Lottery, with the proceeds benefiting education, Blagojevich bought off Meeks and kept his own re-election hopes alive.
Congratulations are due to University of Illinois microbiologist Carle Woese after his election to membership in Britain's Royal Society, the world's oldest continuously operated scientific academy.
In receiving this honor, Woese joins a class of 51 honorees. He's one of six new foreign members of the British society and is the only American.
The legalities may be in dispute, but complaints from members of Congress about a search warrant executed at the office of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives seem certain to fall on deaf ears in public.
Prominent members of Congress, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, contend that congressional offices are beyond the reach of investigators looking for evidence of criminal behavior. Noting Congress' status as one of three coequal branches of government, they say that investigators employed by the executive branch and acting on the authority of a search warrant have no lawful authority to intrude on congressional turf.
Here's a word to the wise: buckle up.
It could save your life if you're involved in an auto accident, and it'll definitely save you the cost of a fine if you're pulled over by police. And that's no idle threat.
"This is a budget that reflects our priorities," Gov. Rod Blagojevich said in a statement after signing next year's $56 billion state spending plan, "and one we should all be proud of."
We suspect there aren't that many state officials who are proud of this budget. It didn't get one Republican vote in either the House or the Senate. Many Democrats admitted they were less than pleased with it. And if he was so proud, why did the publicity-hungry governor sign the budget without any reporters around to ask questions?
The residents of Dobbins Downs, a subdivision of modest, postwar homes north of Interstate 74 and east of Mattis Avenue, know there are problems brewing in their neighborhood. And they want to stop the deterioration in what was once a well-kept, family friendly area.
Good for them. Neighborhoods that work together to overcome problems inevitably become stronger, better places to live. There are numerous examples in the Champaign and Urbana, most notably the so-called sesquicentennial neighborhood northwest of downtown Champaign.