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If this were 1806 instead of 2006, the political primary fight being waged in Champaign County Board District 9 in Urbana might be settled with silk gloves and sidearms at 20 paces. But instead of using pistols to dispose of their political foes, dueling Democrats are flinging epithets at each other for the right to run as Democratic Party candidates in the November general election.
This distasteful four-candidates-for-two-seats free-for-all, which is the epitome of what people hate most about politics, demonstrates once again that whoever said family fights were the worst fights was right on the money.
A recent U.S. Census Bureau report on the increasingly aging population had some surprisingly good news for the United States, such as:
– Although the percentage of the U.S. population 65 and older is expected to grow from the current 12 percent to about 20 percent by 2030, the U.S. is relatively young compared with other developed countries. In many countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, between 16 and 18 percent of the population already is 65 or older.
County coroners, busy with issues most people prefer not to think about, aren't known for their astute analysis of the political scene. But Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup hit the nail on the head when he commented recently that, absent some emergency situation, "the coroner's office is the last office to be funded."
Northrup is trying to do something about that. But to be successful, he's got to get the attention of people not inclined to listen to him and his fellow coroners – state legislators.
It is ironic, in the extreme, that President Bush would seek line-item veto authority from Congress without ever having used his already existing authority to veto legislation in more than five years in office.
To cite just one example, Bush really could have gotten the attention of some big-spenders in Congress if he flushed their highway bill down the toilet with a theatrical veto. That he has not used his veto power even once represents a major failure by this president to show he's serious about spending discipline.
University of Illinois and city of Champaign officials have tried to reason with Campustown bar owners and UI students about the "unofficial St. Patrick's Day" celebration on campus.
They asked bar owners to work together to try to police themselves and to mitigate the public health and safety effects of an entire Friday devoted to drinking. The bar owners didn't respond. The mayor ordered bars in the campus area to stay closed until 11 a.m. But someone – it's not clear who – arranged for a bus to pick up students at 8 a.m. and take them to off-campus bars that were allowed to open early.
The proposed $65.9 million bond issue to build, rebuild and renovate Champaign Unit 4 schools isn't perfect, but bond issue proposals and tax increase referendums seldom are. You can argue and debate specific plans for individual schools forever, but this plan appropriately addresses three fundamental needs in the school district.
– It includes construction of a three-stand elementary school north of University Avenue (although a site still hasn't been chosen) that will satisfy a provision of a 2001 federal court consent decree that has been sucking money out of the school district (an estimated $2 million a year) for too long. The sooner the school district gets out from under the consent decree, the better for all. That's $2 million a year that can go into educating children, not paying out of town lawyers and consultants.
The Illinois Senate last week took a small step toward fiscal sanity when it unanimously approved a bill that makes it easier for school districts to consolidate.
The bill, now in the House, may have only limited applications. It is not mandatory, only permissive. But if just a handful of school districts merge because of it, Illinois taxpayers will be better off. The state has more than 850 school districts, the second-highest number among the states, and more than 200 of those school districts consist of one school. That's a great financial burden, not only to local property taxpayers, but to all taxpayers in the state. Illinois can and should do better.
It was an interesting idea, more than 10 years ago, to start up an intergenerational day care center at the Champaign County Nursing Home. But it's become apparent that the idea has not caught on with the public. It's time to end the experiment.
Even at its peak, the child care center at the nursing home in east Urbana had an average monthly census of only 35 to 40 infants and toddlers. In recent years that number has fallen to an average of about 20 children. Today, there are only 13 children in the facility, although, in fairness, the director of the facility, Karen Foster, said she has not been taking new clients in recent months because she was warned that the center could close at any time.
The uproar at Illinois' Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes is a perfect example of the dangers in the politics of pandering.
The state needs a 26-member commission to advise it on laws to fight violence and discrimination like it needs a commission to advise it on the dangers of drinking unpasteurized milk. All right-thinking people are opposed to discrimination and hatred. There is no need, aside from scoring political points, to name 26 people to a commission with virtually nothing to do.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision issued Monday raises a question muttered by many a disgruntled law student: Just what do law professors know about the real world anyhow?
Not much, if the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the purported right of the nation's law schools to bar military recruiters from their premises is taken into consideration. The high court unanimously rejected the professors' claim that their free speech rights entitle them to bar recruiters while their universities accept hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid.