Duke disgrace case had plenty of villains

The nightmarish Duke non-rape case came to a formal end last week when North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper formally dismissed all criminal charges against three members of the school's lacrosse team.

For city council: Bruno, Feinen, Foster

Tuesday's municipal election in Champaign is a bit of an odd duck politically, featuring indifference in some races and energy in others.

Champaign Mayor Jerry Schweighart is running unopposed, as is District 4 Council Member Marci Dodds. But sandwiched between those two non-races is a six-candidate fight for the three at-large seats on the nine-member council.

Re-elect Dimit to Urbana school board

In Tuesday's election there are five candidates for four seats on the Urbana school board. Three of them, unfortunately, are in one district. Sadly, two other districts have just one candidate each and the third district has no candidate.

For years we've bemoaned Urbana's ill-considered move to electing school board members by subdistricts, instead of at large, and we dislike harping about the folly of dividing the school district into artificial districts. It seems to imply that some areas have different levels of support for the public schools and that those interests have to be equalized. But this year's school board election is a perfect example of why choosing candidates by subdistrict is a recipe for disaster.

Novak, Chalifoux, Bambenek, Grey for Champaign board

No matter whom voters in the Champaign Unit 4 school district choose next week to represent them, there is going to be a substantial change on the school board.

Gone will be at least two veteran board members, Margie Skirvin and Scott Anderson, both of whom were the most recent board presidents. A third person who was appointed to the board two years ago, Minosca Alcantara, is up for election. A fourth member, Reginald Alston, was appointed in 2005 but has chosen not to run for election.

For Urbana park board: Walker, Stewart

Urbana Park District residents next Tuesday have a choice among three candidates for two positions on the park board. Our endorsement goes to longtime board member Michael Walker and to newcomer Robert Stewart.

Walker, who been a park board member since 1983, is running for his fifth term. He has served as president of the board since 2003.

For Champaign park board: Newt Dodds

Fans of the Champaign Park District don't have to worry about who's running for election to the five-member park board. Two candidates are running for one open seat, and both, longtime incumbent Newt Dodds and challenger Rob Kanter, are well-qualified. That, however, presents a dilemma: for whom does one vote?

The News-Gazette is endorsing Newt Dodds, and that's not a knock on Kanter.

State must be wary of apparent downturn in sales taxes

Thankfully for Illinois, it is not among the states that so far are being hit with an economic loss because of the slowdown in the housing market. But trouble may not be far away.

In Florida, The New York Times reports, the state's tax revenue is projected to drop this year for the first time in 30 years. California, Arizona, Nevada and a number of other states – all of which had big housing rushes in the last 10 years – also are reporting trouble. California government may get $2 billion less in tax revenue this year than last year.

Will Democrats stand silent to Jones-Blagojevich misdeeds?

In Illinois' remarkably consistent corruption there are sweetheart deals and then there are deals like the one the Blagojevich administration gave the wife of the governor's staunchest ally in the Legislature, Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago.

The large pay raise given to Lorrie Rickman Jones, the wife of the Senate president and director of the division of mental health in the Department of Human Services, is so transparently foul as to be comical.

Wind energy boost held hostage by rate freeze debate

Illinois has almost everything necessary to build a strong wind energy industry – plenty of available land, hilly terrain that produces reliable wind gusts, a good electrical transmission grid, political support from legislators and the public.

In fact, the largest wind farm in the United States east of the Mississippi River, the Twin Groves Wind Farm in McLean County, about 35 miles northwest of Champaign, began producing a minimal amount of electricity this month from 31 turbines. Later this year all 240 turbines are expected to go into operation.

Strong economy leads to jobs

An overall examination of the jobs situation in the United States shows the economy is strong. U.S. Department of Labor figures released last week show that the nation's unemployment rate has dropped to 4.4 percent, a five-year low. Since fluctuations in the market place are constant, that's essentially a full-employment economy, a stance economists once thought bordered on the unobtainable but now has become almost routine.

That's not to say that economy is healthy in every respect. The housing market is slowing, and the American auto industry is struggling against foreign competitors, two circumstances that produce considerable nervousness about the future.