Schools as power generators

Soaring energy costs have everyone looking at imaginative ways to cut costs. An increasing number of Illinois school districts are examining not only how they can cut energy costs but also become net generators of electricity.

Wind energy isn't going to work everywhere, but they're pretty sure it's going to work in their favor in the Erie school district northeast of the Quad Cities. And the Petersburg Porta school district in Sangamon County, west of Springfield, is taking a look as well. Other school districts are considering the option too, said James Mann, director of the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

Paying a price for principle

There's a good reason politicians follow the path of least resistance.

There's a price to pay for officeholders who assert political independence. Party leaders who seek conformity can get pretty ugly when people start to think for themselves.

Childish lawmakers forced governor to make budget cuts

Lawmakers are playing games with the state budget – sending the governor an excessively bloated budget without the revenue to support it, and then complaining about the cuts he had to make.

Earlier this month Gov. Rod Blagojevich trimmed $1.4 billion from more than 1,000 different appropriation lines in the state budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

Driving task force gets E for effort

It would be great if we could legislate away the tragedies of life. Alas, it's an impossibility.

Now that a task force chaired by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has completed work, it's only a matter of time before state legislators consider a package of proposals designed to reduce incidents of distracted driving and increase penalties for distracted drivers involved in accidents.

Police seek help in solving campus attack

URBANA – A man physically and sexually assaulted a 19-year-old woman on the University of Illinois campus early Sunday morning, according to a UI advisory sent Sunday from Jeff Christensen, interim executive director of public safety and chief of police for the University of Illinois Police Department.

The assault occurred between 3 and 4 a.m. Sunday in a parking lot in the 1800 block of South Lincoln Avenue.

Natural gas prices skyrocket

The bad news on energy prices doesn't end with the cost paid for gasoline or the anticipated increase in electricity rates. Natural gas prices locally are in record territory, about 30 percent greater than a year ago.

If you're upset about the price you're paying for gasoline, take a look at your monthly natural gas bill. It's just as ugly. And just wait until November and December when residential natural gas usage, which is tied mostly to winter heating, begins to soar.

Killings raise death penalty issue

Gov. Blagojevich doesn't limit political gimmicks just to the state's budget fiasco. Here's another.

The Illinois State Bar Association recently joined a growing chorus of critics who have urged lawmakers to end the death penalty moratorium charade in this state and formally abolish capital punishment.

Fun with new words in the dictionary

There are about 100 additions in the most recent edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary but one of them – mondegreen – stands out.

There's no greater proof of the vitality of the English language than the annual press release from the publishers of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, rolling out the list of words added to their dictionary.

State capital plan needs revisions

Illinois still needs a statewide construction program. But it also needs a sturdy, dependable source of revenue to pay for it.

Members of an unusual alliance – Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich and House Minority Leader Tom Cross, a Republican – are criticizing House Speaker Michael Madigan for "killing" a statewide capital improvements program that we and many others have supported.

Up in smoke

Chalk one up for the smoking police. The Chicago production of "Jersey Boys" no longer will show Frankie Valli and his pals standing around on street corners smoking cigarettes.

Ever on guard to preserve the public safety, the city of Chicago has snuffed out the cigarette smoking scenes in the local production of "Jersey Boys." Never mind that the smoking was a small part of the musical and that it was done on the big stage of a 2,016-seat auditorium. It is now history, just like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.