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CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign City Council has decided not to allow its members to take part in meetings from the comfort of their homes or from a vacation.
The city council Tuesday night rejected a proposal to permit council members to cast votes electronically at city council meetings even when they are not at the meeting.
CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign City Council is considering a change to its rules that may violate state law, according to a lawyer for the Illinois attorney general's office and a prominent media law attorney.
One amendment to the council rules proposed at Tuesday's study session allows for the council to vote on an item that has been postponed from an earlier meeting even if it does not appear on the agenda.
CHAMPAIGN – Champaign City Council members could vote next week to put a tax increase question on the November ballot.
City of Champaign Township Supervisor Linda Abernathy is asking for the township tax rate to increase from 3.68 cents per $100 of equalized assessed house value, largely to cope with increased general assistance to the needy.
URBANA – The county board's policy and personnel committee Wednesday approved Champaign County Board Chair Barbara Wysocki's nominations of incumbent Vicki Stewart and newcomer Ron Peters to seats on the MTD board.
The eight board members voted unanimously for Peters, who replaces longtime Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District board member George Friedman. Stewart's appointment was approved 5-3, largely a split on party lines. The Democratic committee members, Tom Betz, Steve Beckett, Tony Fabri and Jennifer Putman, as well as Republican Deb Feinen, voted to retain Stewart. Republicans Greg Knott, Steve Moser and Jonathan Schroeder voted against Stewart, Wysocki said.
WASHINGTON – Whether they know it or not, Americans are already subsidizing the cost of health care for the poor through their insurance premiums and medical bills, says David Gill, a Democrat running in the 15th Congressional District.
Change the health care system his way, he promises, and quality care will be available for everybody at a much lower overall cost.
The cities of Urbana and Champaign have been awarded $886,000 in state grants to build a new bicycle path along High Cross Road in Urbana and to landscape the planned Curtis Road interchange with Interstate 57.
The grant awards, part of the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, were announced Friday by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, with $60 million in grant awards for more than 100 projects announced.
URBANA – The death knell for indoor public smoking in Champaign-Urbana could come Monday night, when the Urbana City Council is expected to follow Champaign in enacting a comprehensive smoking ban.
The Urbana council voted 6-1 in committee in favor of a comprehensive smoking ban on May 22. Interviews with three aldermen show that their positions haven't changed, despite stepped up lobbying by bar owners, smokers and smoking rights' advocates.
Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, has already enthusiastically embraced the governor's idea to boost education funding by privatizing the lottery, but House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, sent a strong signal this week that he was not yet on board.
In an open letter to the governor that was copied to all state lawmakers, Madigan said the proposal deserved serious consideration but went on to list eight sets of questions that needed to be answered. They included: how individual school districts would fare; what would happen after the money runs out; how it was determined that the sale or lease of the lottery would bring $10 billion; and what changes a private company might make in order to boost profits, such as adding keno or more aggressively marketing to poor, elderly or minority groups. Madigan also included a warning that the state must consider the long-term budget implications the proposal could have.
Urbana attorney Steve Beckett said Thursday he has been hired by a local bar owner to look into the legality of the ordinance banning smoking in most public places in Champaign.
"I've done some work for a particular bar owner," he said. "I'm obviously looking at passage of the anti-smoking ordinance and its validity and enforceability."
SPRINGFIELD – Owners of dangerous or vicious dogs now face tougher penalties if their pets attack, under a bill Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed into law on Wednesday.
"Dogs can make great companions, but if they're not trained well or restrained, some dogs can also pose serious threats – especially to children," Blagojevich stated in a written release. "We've seen too many people seriously injured by dogs whose owners allow them to act more like wild predators than pets."