State government reform? Fat chance, ex-legislators say

If you really want to get depressed about Illinois state government and the long-shot possibility that it can be cleansed and reformed, talk to former state legislators.

They, at least the ones who live in East Central Illinois, are uniformly skeptical about any improvements.

Tolono's negotiations with developer change directions

TOLONO – In his first meeting as Tolono village president, Kent Plackett changed the direction of negotiations with a subdivision developer.

Dan Noel of Great Plaines Land Development asked for a tax increment financing district agreement on the third phase of his Kinderwood South subdivision in December 2006, but no action was ever taken. On April 21, the village board decided to draw up an agreement reimbursing half of his eligible costs of $1.63 million.

Catlin water main project put on hold by easement deal

CATLIN – A project to connect two dead-end water mains in the southwest part of the village will stop because of an invalid easement agreement, village officials said Tuesday.

Mayor Clay Woodard said the village attorney had determined that not all of the owners of the properties that would be affected by the project had signed the 5-year-old utility easement agreement.

Mother who attacked kids to move to halfway house

URBANA – A Champaign judge has allowed a woman who fatally stabbed one son and severely injured the other seven years ago in Champaign to leave a state mental hospital and move into a halfway house for psychiatric patients for the next five years.

Judge Michael Jones agreed with mental health specialists that Ellen Feinberg, 50, is well enough to move from the Elgin Mental Health Center to Humboldt House, a psychiatric rehabilitation center in Chicago.

In a Tuesday morning hearing that took 45 minutes, Jones ruled on the request by Feinberg's attorney, Steve Beckett of Urbana, that she be conditionally released from the Department of Human Services so she can reintegrate into society. Her treatment will continue to be closely monitored by DHS and the judge. Special prosecutor Jim Dedman of Urbana did not object to the request.

With love from Mom: Readers share thanks, best dishes

"No one makes (name the dish) like my mom."

It's a fact. Our own moms cook better than anybody else's.

So in honor of Mother's Day, we asked our readers to submit recipes for some of the favorite dishes that their mother's made.

No serious injuries in Heritage school bus-car accident

BONGARD – No one was seriously injured when a school bus collided with a car in southeastern Champaign County Monday afternoon.

Champaign County sheriff's Sgt. Dan Coile said a Heritage School district bus driven by Mary Gast, 44, of Broadlands, stopped at a stop sign on County Road 2000 E at 300 N then continued on, hitting a westbound car driven by Charles Dolan, 37, of Oakwood.

Madoff whistleblower saves vitriol for SEC in UI talk

URBANA – A fraud investigator who tracked Bernie Madoff's dealings for years said he believes the Ponzi scheme perpetrator had more victims outside than United States than in, and more non-Jewish victims than Jewish.

Harry Markopolos, who repeatedly tried to warn the Securities & Exchange Commission about Madoff, called the rogue investor "a monster," but saved some of his toughest invective for the federal agency that failed to stop Madoff.

Champaign refinances 2 bond issues to save $684,000

CHAMPAIGN – The city saved $684,000 Tuesday by refinancing two older bond issues at a much lower interest rate.

The city council approved refinancing 1998 and 1999 bond issues totaling $9.1 million. The old bonds had an interest rate of 4 percent, which has been reduced to 2.2 percent with the new bonds.

Police warn of scammer going door to door in Rantoul

RANTOUL – Police are warning Rantoul residents about a man soliciting money to keep his car from being impounded.

"This scam artist has been going door to door in recent weeks, targeting elderly persons," said Rantoul Police Sgt. Sean Arie. "He tells the senior citizens that he knows them, and he often comes up with their names.

Danville council OKs 2-year contract with firefighters

DANVILLE – A new 2-year contract with Danville firefighters will save the city more than $500,000, mostly by reducing the number of firefighters, but that savings also allows the city to grant 3.5 percent wage increases to firefighters in both years of the contract.

By a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Danville City Council approved the new 2-year agreement, which is retroactive to May 1 and continues through April 2011.