Shock jock hits jackpot

The extent to which ousted radio shock jock Don Imus hit the jackpot is unknown, although some news reports indicate that it was to the tune of $20 million.

Urbana opens door to Carle's expansion

With common interests binding them together, it appears that Carle Foundation Hospital and Urbana city officials have reached an agreement that will allow for the construction of a $144 million, eight-story addition.

Details of the agreement were aired at Monday's city council study session, and they're scheduled to be ratified at the council's Sept. 4 meeting. The city has agreed to vacate portions of Coler Avenue and Park Street so that the hospital can use that area for construction of a heart and vascular center. Carle has agreed to return the streets to the city if it cannot win approval for the expansion project from the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board.

Blagojevich's veto could mean millions lost locally

Area governments stand to lose millions of dollars if Gov. Rod Blagojevich vetoes the state budget as he has promised to do.

No one is quite certain what the losses could mean, and some legislators believe Blagojevich does not have the legal authority to reallocate a half-billion dollars. Some $200 million of that was "member initiatives," money each legislator requested for specific projects in home districts.

Two bad ideas

It's August. People are hot and sweaty and tired and feeling edgy at the end of the long, hot summer. At least that might possibly explain why some government leaders have come up with such silly ideas. And no, we're not thinking only about Rod Blagojevich's outrageous state budget power grab.

But how about these proposals? In Chicago, an alderman has suggested a 10- to 25-cent tax on every plastic bottle of water sold in the city – and Mayor Richard Daley, a bottled water drinker, says he thinks the idea has some merit.

Rep. Bill Black will be missed by constituents, many others

For members of the general public, their lasting image of state Rep. Bill Black will be the television shots of the Danville Republican standing on the House floor in Springfield and railing against some injustice, real or imagined, perpetrated by some Democrat. You would think, after all the times he had verbally torched House Speaker Michael Madigan or Gov. Rod Blagojevich or some other Chicago Democrat, Black would be batting 0-for-100 when it came to getting things for his district.

But his colleagues, Republican and Democrat, tell a different story. And so do others, including many who don't live in his district. Black was a go-to guy for community colleges throughout Illinois, for the University of Illinois, for teachers and school administrators, for farmers and others. But he was especially adept at helping Danville, Vermilion County and the rest of the 104th House District, including eastern Champaign County.

... But legislators get their raise

The state of Illinois' budget woes still are far from resolved, but at least legislators don't have to worry about one issue that most concerns them: their salaries are going up.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich, backing off from a campaign pledge to veto a pay hike, approved a pay raise for elected officials late Monday evening.

A reprehensible display of bad government

It looks like Gov. Rod Blagojevich is about to make a bad budget situation worse.

Last week, the Legislature sent the governor a state budget that was horribly out of balance. It calls for spending $2.1 billion more this year than the state had spent the year before, even though there is no evidence the state will take in that much revenue. In fact, most economists are predicting a downturn, chances being that Illinois will have even less "new revenue" than the $1.28 billion it had last year.

Rising property taxes a familiar complaint

Last week, protesters showed up at the city council meeting in Champaign to complain about inflated property tax assessments that result in excessive property tax bills.

Residents of the Clark Park neighborhood in Champaign may well have a legitimate complaint, particularly when they compare their neighborhood to a more wealthy area to the south that has not been the subject of frequent hikes in assessed valuation.

Fire damages Bondville home

BONDVILLE – Fire did about $50,000 damage to a Bondville home late Sunday night.

Champaign County sheriff's Lt. Ed Ogle said four members of the Galen Sutherland family were home at 407 S. Market St. about 11:10 p.m. when Mary Sutherland, who was watching television, noticed light flickering off the house next door. A closer look showed the southwest corner of her home was on fire.

State's negotiators say, 'Pepsi, please'

The state of Illinois put its collective thirst up for the highest bidder and hit a gusher of revenue in an exclusive deal with Pepsi-Cola.

Pepsi outbid rival Coca-Cola in a recently concluded deal to provide service to 2,374 vending machines and 29 pouring facilities across the state, including those at the University of Illinois and Northeastern Illinois University. The 10-year deal is expected to generate up to $64 million for the state's general revenue fund and another $27 million for the UI.