Editorials

Editorials

The end of a wearisome winter

This has been a tough winter in East Central Illinois, and we don't just mean the weather. In fact, December and January were milder than normal and March has been pleasant.

But stuck in the middle was February, with 20 inches of snow in Champaign-Urbana (the greatest amount since 1903, according to the Illinois State Water Survey), five subzero mornings and an overall temperature that was the ninth-coldest on record.

No reason to ease restrictions on 'Unofficial St. Patrick's Day'

This year's "Unofficial St. Patrick's Day" in Champaign was not as disruptive, nor as dangerous, as last year's. But that wasn't for lack of trying by local bar owners and merchants, nor by the hosts of all-day parties near the University of Illinois campus.

There were no deaths as a result of the binge drinking promotion (there was one death last year), and disruptions in UI classrooms and buildings were minimal, according to campus officials. In fact, there is some evidence that UI students were more restrained this year than in the past. Fraternities and sororities, at the request of campus administrators, seemed to have reduced their partying, or at least were not so brazen about carrying on outdoors. And students, perhaps dissuaded by more police and security officials on campus, apparently didn't try to bring alcohol into lecture halls. On the other hand, professors and other instructors reported dismal levels of attendance for some classes.

Governor isn't unifying state behind his tax increase plan

There's a new book out, written by veteran Illinois journalist Taylor Pensoneau, about former Illinois Senate President W. Russell Arrington. It details how he, a Republican and a longtime income tax opponent, was asked by Gov. Richard Ogilvie to lead the effort to pass the state's first income tax. It's a tale about mature leadership, quietly building coalitions and gently but forcefully persuading reluctant legislators to pass a tax increase that could have amounted to political suicide. Ogilvie, in fact, was a one-term governor because he enacted the income tax.

The way Ogilvie and Arrington went about passing the income tax could hardly be more different than the way Gov. Rod Blagojevich is promoting his gross receipts tax, the biggest proposed increase in state revenue since the Ogilvie years.

No reason to ease restrictions on 'Unofficial St. Patrick's Day'

This year's "Unofficial St. Patrick's Day" in Champaign was not as disruptive, nor as dangerous, as last year's. But that wasn't for lack of trying by local bar owners and merchants, nor by the hosts of all-day parties near the University of Illinois campus.

Ameren predicament demands leadership at the Capitol

Fortunately for Ameren Corp., the Illinois General Assembly and the Illinois Commerce Commission, it's springtime and there's less demand for electricity than there will be in a few months when temperatures heat up.

But unless there's a solution to the ongoing problems between Ameren and Illinois state government, the high temperatures won't be the only source of heat this summer.

Much ado about U.S. attorneys

Democratic politicians are having a field day expressing faux outrage over the firings by the Bush administration of eight of its 93 U.S. attorneys. Meanwhile, Bush administration officials have lent support to suspicions by not forthrightly explaining the dismissals.

One basic rule in politics is that political appointees serve at the pleasure of whomever is the president or governor. They can be fired at any time for any reason, and they periodically come up for review, usually during a transition from one term to another.

Quinn does a disservice to state by demagoguing rate issue

Some Illinois politicians would rather politicize the ongoing debate about electric rates in Illinois than work toward a solution that would benefit ratepayers and the state economy without harming the utility companies.

Settlements should be public

Illinois law says that taxpayers are entitled to have access to reports and documents related to the expenditure of public funds.

Sometimes, though, settlements in lawsuits are written so that the financial agreements are not disclosed – even when it can mean the expenditure of thousands of public dollars. Two recent Champaign County cases come to mind.

Player incidents put everyone in a bind

It may have been one incident too many involving University of Illinois athletes. It may have been the nature of the offense. It may have just been one coach's individual style.

But University of Illinois football coach Ron Zook certainly got everyone's attention with his volcanic response to the arrests of two of his players in connection with a series of burglaries.

Stool pigeon ratting out pals

Scott Fawell, a former top aide to Illinois Gov. George Ryan turned prison inmate, has been the gift that keeps on giving for federal prosecutors trying to ferret out corruption in state government.

Fawell was initially hostile to government attempts to solicit his cooperation. But when he agreed to cooperate to save himself and his wife some time in prison, Fawell apparently did so with gusto.