All Opinions Content

All Opinions Content

Don't blame the voters for Tuesday's low turnout

As often occurs in the days following an election, there's been an outbreak of distress about the low turnout among eligible voters.

Tuesday's turnout in Champaign County amounted to 22,618 voters out of 112,302 registered, or about 20.14 percent. To some, that level of participation is frightening, a sign that democracy is in trouble. What happened to all the voters, they ask. Are people losing interest in government?

One disputed search yields six opinions

One of the admirable goals of the new Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is for the court's rulings to be clear so that others, particularly lower court judges and police officers, understand the rules.

In his brief tenure, Roberts has been successful in meeting that goal. But riding herd on Supreme Court justices is like herding cats, and this week the court's unanimity was shattered by a difficult case of search-and-seizure.

Despite resounding 'no' from voters, need for schools remains

Voters told the Champaign Unit 4 school district Tuesday in no uncertain terms that they opposed a $65.9 million bond issue to build and remodel the district's elementary schools. By a shocking 64 percent to 36 percent margin, they rejected a proposal that would have raised their property taxes to build three new schools and to remodel eight others. The no vote was so overwhelming that even in some precincts that were expected to support the measure – such as the neighborhood near Dr. Howard School – it failed by a more than 2-to-1 margin.

The school administration and the school board have a lot of work before them – everything from discerning what went wrong in the bond issue to deciding how to mend an obvious lack of trust.

Democratic discord on plan to bash Bush

Wisconsin's Democratic U.S. Sen. Russell Feingold, who wants his colleagues to formally censure President Bush, is so angry at fellow Democrats for not supporting him that he's accusing them of "cowering" in fear.

That's a bit of a stretch. Had he said "bobbing and weaving," "running out a back door," "standing mute" or otherwise dodging the issue, Feingold would have been right on the money. But cowering? Hardly.

GCMS students safe driving campaign already a success

Forty-three Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School students are in Philadelphia this week for the national finals of a teen driver safety contest sponsored by State Farm Insurance and the National Youth Leadership Council.

If they're successful, they'll return with the "Best of the Best" award, plus a $10,000 prize.

Of pensions, overspending and 'blue ribbon commissions'

The Civic Federation, a nonpartisan, Chicago-based research group that has been supportive of past Blagojevich administration initiatives, last week blasted the governor's proposed fiscal year 2007 budget.

In particular, it was critical of the governor's pension funding "holiday," now in its second year, and of his decision to add $261.7 million in new spending initiatives to the state budget.

School board correct to stand by Boulder Ridge school site

Here are some of the facts the Champaign school board was presented with Friday night before it took its controversial vote to stand by an earlier vote to locate a new school in the Boulder Ridge subdivision in far northwest Champaign:

– A federal consent decree requires only that the school board add two strands of classrooms north of University Avenue. It does not require that the new school (or an addition to an existing school) be located within Champaign's African-American community. Thus, the site in Boulder Ridge satisfies the consent decree.

Campus strategic plan has benefits for community as well

The new strategic plan for the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois is an ambitious document, including such broad elements as an altered undergraduate population (with plans to make it slightly smaller but more diverse), policy promotion (including an Illinois Sustainable Energy and Environment Initiative that hopes to be a national leader in developing new technologies), and changes in the financial support model for UI (with more emphasis on tuition, gifts and endowment and less on state support).

Many of these changes will be challenging to the university, its staff, its students, their families and the UI's alumni. If the plan is carried out, for example, there will be fewer Illinois high school graduates entering the UI, and more from out-of-state and outside the country.

Illinois Freedom of Information Act needs an overhaul

We're amid national Sunshine Week, a celebration not of spring but of open government, at least the principle of open government.

But too often the government that is supposed to be subservient and respectful of the people is just the opposite. When citizens request information of government officials – as a corporate board member would ask for information of a corporate executive – too often they are told to wait or to pay outrageous amounts for the information or that the information requested is unavailable. No corporate executive dependent on a paycheck would do that, but in government it is, unfortunately, the norm.

Democrat for state treasurer: Paul Mangieri

The Democratic Party primary race for state treasurer points out just how silly it is to elect a person to run this administrative office.

The candidates for this position rarely have any financial management experience. The last five state treasurers, for example, have been state senators or politicians who tried to use the office to either fatten their pension or advance their political careers. Past treasurers have included William Scott (later attorney general), Adlai Stevenson and Alan Dixon (both later U.S. senators) and Pat Quinn (now the lieutenant governor). The current treasurer, Judy Baar Topinka, is a Republican candidate for governor.