Crystal Lake Pool's future up to citizens

For the first time in more than 80 years there will be no swimming this summer at a Crystal Lake Pool. It could be several summers, in fact, before there is another water recreation facility at the north Urbana park.

The Urbana park board Tuesday night pulled the plug on Crystal Lake Pool for the summer of 2009. In truth, though, there will be no swimming pool – or any kind of water recreation facility – at Crystal Lake Park until at least 2011. The park district just doesn't have the money.

Reporter's Notebook: Not everyone plans to stay for big event

Not everyone heading to Washington, D.C., this week wants to go to the inauguration.

Sonali Oberg, a DeKalb resident who sat next to me on my flight from Chicago to Washington on Wednesday, was going to the Capitol on business. She's a legal editor for Wolters Kluwer.

It's business as usual for lawmakers as inauguration approaches

WASHINGTON – As he does back home, Congressman Tim Johnson walks while he works in Washington.

He walks the circular fourth-floor corridor of the Longworth House Office Building, over and over and over again, while discussing the day's business with one of his staff members.

On Thursday that was Jerome "Jerry" Clarke, his chief of staff, originally from Pawnee and now of Champaign.

Enjoy the moment, Sen. Burris

Our advice to Illinois' newest (appointed) United States senator: Enjoy the limelight while you can. Things will get much tougher should you decide to run for office.

New U.S. Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., got his position the old-fashioned way: by schmoozing the right people at the right time.

Doubts about Senate trial

If Illinoisans were expecting sober-minded discussion and decorum in the Senate impeachment trial of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, that illusion took a hit Monday when state Sen. Rickey "Hollywood" Hendon went on a Chicago radio station and treated the process with all the propriety of a food fight.

It's bad enough that Illinois citizens have had to suffer through the Blagojevich years and the embarrassment of having their governor impeached, but now there's real concern that the upcoming Senate impeachment trial could degenerate into showboating and silliness, further sullying the state's woeful reputation. That's the concern following a Monday morning radio station interview with a sometimes Blagojevich ally, Sen. Rickey "Hollywood" Hendon, D-Chicago.

TV deadline has pols spooked

President-elect Barack Obama is fearful about putting himself between people and their TV sets.

There's a probably apocryphal story Democratic Party old-timers like to tell about the 1964 presidential race between Democrat Lyndon Johnson and Republican Barry Goldwater.

Champaign should press for decisions on fire site

It's been more than two months since fire destroyed the Metropolitan Building, a downtown Champaign landmark. Today the fire continues to bedevil the city government because the building's remnants, as well as a law office next door, are a hazard to public safety but haven't yet been razed. So Neil Street, a major traffic artery, remains closed.

Soon after the Nov. 7 fire that destroyed the Metropolitan Building at Neil and Church streets in the heart of downtown Champaign, there was praise for the city government that acted quickly to clean up the damaged city property, and clear away the bricks and other debris that had fallen into the streets. It was barely a day later that a wall went up around the fire site, and Neil and Church streets were reopened to traffic.

State government still paralyzed

By the end of this week, more than half of the governors in the United States will have addressed their state legislatures, explaining their plans for confronting budget deficits and the worldwide economic downturn. In Illinois, though, no state of the state address has even been scheduled.

In New York state the governor has proposed a number of unpopular tax increases to make up for an enormous budget deficit. In South Dakota, Oregon and Idaho governors are promoting a higher gas tax. In Maryland the governor has ordered furloughs for most state employees. In New Hampshire the governor has already cut $150 million but faces a budget hole of at least $100 million and says he is looking at new revenue sources. In Oregon the governor says he'll have to make at least $150 million in cuts this year, including reductions in grants to college students.

Tough DUI response necessary

Differences over prosecution of drunken driving cases have some lawyers on the warpath, but a tough stance on DUI is the responsible position to take.

Defense-lawyer grumbling about the Champaign County courts' tough enforcement of drunken driving laws is usually confined to the lunch tables or meeting rooms where they periodically gather to talk shop.

Candid cameras get court's OK

Don't expect sympathy if your car is caught on camera running a red light.

Big Brother got a big boost last week when a federal appeals court in Chicago upheld the constitutionality of the city's use of mounted cameras at intersections as a basis to issue tickets for red light or illegal turn violations.