Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Look, more trees!

From the 'can't see the forest for the trees' file comes the latest stupidity from the University of Illinois.

The UI is appealing for the second time the ruling by the NCAA that Cheef Illiwek is a 'hostile and abusive' and racist mascot.

Talk about self-abusive. Talk about lost causes. The UI still can't figure out that the NCAA is NOT a democracy. Never claimed to be one. Never pretended to be one. You play by the NCAA rules or you go off in a corner and play by (with?) yourself.

The UI also can't figure out that any mascot so hated by so many people for so many good reasons is a divisive figure that's hurting the UI and it's reputation across the country.

Folks, people outside of Illinois are laughing at the UI. And feeling sorry for the folks who work and teach there. The UI is actually losing good quality faculty because of the presence of the Cheef. And failing to attract other quality faculty members because of the Cheef. What exactly is the purpose of a major university? Education or a dancing minstrel show?

But the UI persists in its lost cause because a few rich alumni want to hang on to a false but romanticized image from the past.
The latest appeal concerns the name Chief Illiniwek, the Chief logo and the Chief Illiniwek performance.
"It is about a policy that asks a member institution to decide between abandoning an 80-year-old tradition cherished by many or face diminished participation in NCAA championship events by its student-athletes," the appeal states.
The appeal is in the form of a 15-page letter signed by UI Board of Trustees Chairman Larry Eppley. It reiterates the arguments made in the first appeal that the NCAA committee exceeded its authority and ignored contradictory evidence, but it does so in greater detail. The UI also argues that the NCAA is the wrong organization to rule on Chief Illiniwek, and the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights has jurisdiction over whether the Chief's presence violates any laws.
Just what rock is that man living under? How stupid can he and the rest of the trustees be?

How stupid can the Cheef supporters be? Do they really want to hang on to something so hostile, abusive and so reprehensible while hurting the UI's reputation and putting UI's smaller sports at a competitive disadvantage? All the while insisting that the opposition to the Cheef is made up of a 'small fraction of people who are easily offended.' They've restated that unbelievably sad, misguided mantra so often it's possible they've finally come to believe it.

Apparently there is no way to measure the depths of the ignorance on the BOT. Wave a few more alumni dollars around and Eppley will happily rush right back into that burning building to try to save something that's already lost. Burned up years ago.

How stupid. How pathetic.

How predictable.

And so it goes.

Push comes to shove

Took me a while to decide what I thought about Illinois American Water Co.'s 'push poll' concerning a potential sale/takeover of their franchises in Urbana and Champaign.

Then the Champaign and Urbana mayors weighed in Saturday with this lunacy:
The mayors of Champaign and Urbana came out swinging Friday against Illinois American Water Co., charging that telephone surveys the company conducted this week were "push polls" designed to turn residents against the possibility of the cities purchasing the local water system.
At an afternoon news conference, Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing called the telephone surveys "hardball politics" that Illinois American and its parent company, American Water, have used in other cities that attempted to purchase their water systems from the companies.
All I could think was, golly-gee mayors, did you really expect the company to say 'Here, take our company, please'?

Would you have? Of course they're gonna fight back. We gotta stop electing people like those two. For a supposedly educated community ....

And so it goes.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I see dead people

Anyone remember the W-imbecile's little adverturism into Iraq?

He'd rather you didn't.

Check THIS link out. Or THIS. Or THIS.

To date, 2,248 Americans have died in Iraq.
Is that acceptable? To whom?
Another 20,728 (or more) have been wounded and evaculated from Iraq. And that doesn't count the 31,800 civilian deaths.
These aren't numbers. They're people. Dead people. Dead.

Dead Americans.

It has cost us $236.9 billion so far. Instead, we could have fully funded global anti-hunger efforts for 9 years. But does the W-imbecile care? With that money, we could rebuild all of Hurricane Katrina's destruction.

Thanks to the W-imbecile's conservative management, the national debt now is $8,190,567,748,779.48. It was $5,656,270,901,615.43 when the W-imbecile was elected. Ain't it nice to have a conservative hand at the helm instead of one of those free-spending liberals (who have been known to balance the budget)?

And NO weapons of mass destructions have ever been found.
And NO al Qaida connection has ever been found.
And NO terrorist camps. (Camps operating prior to the invasion).
And NO plans to spread worldwide terrorism have ever been found.
And, given the price at the pump, the oil isn't even flowing. It's good to be in the oil bidness, isn't it, W?

One accomplishment, however: while Iraq under Saddam was NOT friendly to terrorists (despite what the revisionists in the GOP would like you to believe), it's now a major terrorist staging ground.

Anyone read the Downing Street memo yet?

Are the liars still on office? Why? Why have impeachment proceedings not begun? We in the U.S. are suffering from the most corrupt administration since, well since Saddam. Anyone catch Osama's latest TV appearance? It's only been 4 1/2 years since the W-imbecile promised to get him.

And so it goes.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Obvious

Stuff I thought of when I should have been thinking about other stuff:

-- Looks to me like the GOP's stranglehold in Washington BC is weakening. The AP is predicting that the GOP's first two bills of 2006 - bills important to conservatives -- face an uphill fight.
The Senate opens its 2006 legislative session next week with two measures stalled at the starting gate: renewing the anti-terror USA Patriot Act and establishing a fund to compensate asbestos disease sufferers and stop their lawsuits against American businesses.
The Patriot Act is set to expire Feb. 3. Lacking the votes to renew many of the anti-terrorism law's provisions permanently and others for four years, Republican leaders are looking at a simple extension into March.

The other measure is a bill to compensate asbestos disease sufferers and halt suits the Bush administration says have cost businesses $80 billion. The measure is in such bad shape that one senator predicted it will only pass with help from a higher power.
Shame. Especially about the terrorist act. After all, isn't sacrificing our constitutional protection what freedom's all about?

-- Not too sure what to make of Hamas winning the Palestinian elections, but overall, it can't be good for the peace process.

-- Doesn't look like most teams are really capable of winning the Big Ten basketball title; but a lot of teams seem to be trying to lose it. Parity sucks.

-- On the Illinois gubernatorial race: The more the GOP contenders/pretenders slap each other around, the stronger Blago appears. Conversely, the more Blago opens his mouth, the stronger Eisendrath appears. And as long as the conservative wing of the Illinois GOP keeps insisting on another candidate cut from the Alan Keyes cloth, the party will remain too fractionalized and marginalized to be effective. Is Topinka really too 'liberal' to be a Republican? Or just too liberal to be a GOP wingnut?

-- Seems to me a number of local and state bloggers have given up blogging as their New Year's resolution. Some are sadly missed. I'm still here. Sorry.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Step 1

This troubles me. The NG is reporting that the Champaign City Council is seriously considering permanently assigning police officers to middle and high schools.

What troubles me is that I think it's necessary. It may be necessary because the only alternative is to offer body armor to teachers.

But that along won't solve the problem laid out in the article.
Due to escalating violence in and near the schools -- including fights between students and student assaults against teachers -- the school district asked for help this fall from the Champaign Police Department. Of particular concern was a Nov. 4 melee that slightly injured several faculty and staff members and ended in five arrests.
In another incident, a 15-year-old Champaign Centennial male student was arrested Thursday afternoon on a juvenile charge of aggravated battery after police reports said he pushed and shoved a school dean while trying to get at another student.
The second half of the solution is more obvious, at least to me.

It's darned well time that Champaign middle and high schools became totally closed campuses. Much of the problem stems from students meeting with their out-of-school frends just outside the school buildings.

Despite the protestations from students, it is NOT a right to leave campus during the school day. And it's NOT a good idea.

Despite what fast-food and convenience store owners might say.

Limiting the school-day interaction between in-school students and out-of-school troublemakers might just alleviate a bit of the pressure. It has worked elsewhere. It has worked in the past. It can work.

But what's troubling is that the city council, the school board and our questionably-competent school administration never seems to even consider the option.

Close the doors. Lock then from the time the first bell rings and the last bell sounds. Big chains. Big locks. Since it's illegal for students to smoke, what reason do they have to leave school? Students can perform all the 'hanging out' they need off school property after school is over.

And so it goes.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Remember him?

Hey, W-imbecile, didn't you promise to get this guy oh, about 4 years ago?

When's his trial start again? I think I missed the announcement.

(What, you mean that after 4 years of illegal wiretaps, illegal prisons, illegal torture, shredding of our Constitution and constitutional rights in the name of fighting terrorism and over 2,200 American deaths in Iraq alone, he's still more free than most Americans?)

And so it goes.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

'n that

Assorted thoughts:

-- Is it just me, or is Gov. Blago getting wierder and wierder as time goes on? Keno isn't an expansion of gambling? Please. A $3.2 billion capital spending plan? From a state still stealing from Pocket A to pay the debts in Pocket B? One wonders just who is advising that man. Or maybe that's the problem. No one is. He's slowly becoming a one-man campaign chairman for Edwin Eisendrath.

-- Let's see. Chicago can pass a smoking ban. And their world did not come to a smoke-free end. Springfield can pass a smoking ban. And their world did not come to a smoke-free end. But supposedly progressive, educated Champaign and Urbana cannot pass any kind of smoking ban because they fear their economic world will come to an end? Or maybe what will end will be the campaign contributions (and under-the-table contributions?) from big tobacco and restaurant association lobbyists.

-- Is chosing to abstain from a pressing council vote a politically wise decision? Or just a way to avoid voting on an issue that one has not been told how to vote?

-- Bombs in Baghdad. Bombs in Tel Aviv. Hostages taken. Reporters kidnapped. Bin Laden resurfaces with more threats. The war on terror sure is going well.

-- I'm guessing the Illini basketball team will be putting a lot of practice time in at the free throw line this week, doncha think?

And so it goes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

What? No chandeliers?

I see the Champaign School Board is going to ask voters for a $66 million bond issue to build two new schools, renovate Booker T. Washington School and repair a whole bunch of stuff at other schools.

As I said in a previous post, I have never ever opposed any school bond proposal in any place I've ever lived. But I have problems with this one. Not saying in the end I won't vote for it, but, come on, board.

Champaign School Board folks apparently believe that Champaign taxpayers have bottomless pockets. Hell, what's $3.50 a month for the next couple decades for the average taxpayer?

A LOT, that's what it is.

Too much.

I thought Champaign was supposed to be the more conservative of the twin cities. The one that exercised a little common sense and fiscal restraint.

Hey, I'm a liberal. I believe in supporting our schools, despite the fact that I have no children to take advantage of them. But this shows no sign of restraint. No sign of common sense. No sign of respect for the taxpayers in the district.

Did I mention I don't like it?

Among other things, according to WICD-TV's web site, the proposal would pay for:
Air conditioning in all elementary schools.

A new elementary school in North Champaign that meets consent decree requirements.

A new elementary school for the fast-growing community of Savoy.

Other changes include safety and security improvements, the expansion of music space at Central High School and the purchase of 60 acres for a future high school.
Does the district really need all of that stuff? Or does it just want all of that stuff?

Does Savoy really need its own school, or does it just want it? (And given its secessionist actions from the C-U metropolitan area lately, does it really deserve it?)

I hate to say it, but it feels like the board is asking for everything, all at once. 'I want it all, and I want it now!'

Everything but the crystal chandeliers.

And so it goes.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Buy me

A number of years ago I was standing outside a major discount store when a family of obvious limited means prepared to enter. One of the family members was a young boy, probably 7 or 8, no more, holding a dollar bill firmly in both hands. He was saying out loud to no one in particular, "I'm going to buy something. I'm going to buy something."

It was obvious there wasn't anything really that he wanted. There wasn't anything in that store he was crying out for. Sure, there were many things in the store he needed. But that was not the something he was out for. He had a dollar and he was going to spend it. He was going to buy something because he had a dollar. Something

I was reminded of that vignette when I read the latest chapter in the Champaign School Board's drive for a $64 million bond issue.

We are going to buy something.

I have never voted against a school bond issue in my many many many years on this planet. But this one troubles me.

They want to spend $64 million dollars, but they still don't know for sure what they're gonna spend $64 million on.

From Tuesday's News-Gazette:
School board members Monday voiced significant concerns about district building priorities on a list drafted in December by citizens' committee members.
They're pretty sure they want to spend money to upgrade existing schools, upgrades that may or may not include air conditioning. By court decree they have to build an elementary school north of University Avenue, but they're definitely not sure where. They're pretty sure they want to build an elementary school in Savoy (for no other reason than to stop the incessant whining from the spoiled Savoy folks whose history is to scream and cry and throw trantrums on every issue until they get what they want). And they're pretty sure they want to acquire property somewhere to build a new high school some time later.

There's an awful lot of somewhere, some time, some kind, some work in the school board's plans.

I'm more than willing to support any bond issue that includes concrete plans, concrete ideas and fills concrete needs.

But maybe not a bond issue that comes at us backwards: "We'll ask for $64 million. Then let's find something to spend it on."

The Champaign school district has many needs. It probably has $64 million of them. But there's no plan here. If they're not sure what they're gonna spend it on, I'm not sure I want to give it to them.

I really don't like "I'm going to buy something."

And so it goes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The good ... and the Bad

I see in the News-Gazette that Champaign and Urbana, along with Peoria and Pekin, are exploring the possibility of buying Illinois American Water Company's assets in their communities.

Personally, I see this as a good idea. And a bad idea. And what could be a very wrong-headed idea.

In my mind, it's a good idea because with the right kind of local leadership, there's no way local control could be as bad as the service we've been receiving from a German company which doesn't care a whole lot about anything about Champaign-Urbana but how much money it can make.

Frankly, since the company was acquired and sold again over the last decade or so, service and quality has consistently declined. I remember some time ago (a looooooong time ago) CU water was judged in some kind of competition as the best-tasting in the state. Either they haven't been judging area water lately or CU's water has declined in quality. Given the amount of sediment and other solid and semi-solid stuff coming out of my faucets in the past few years, I judge it's the later. The quality's declined.

If local control/ownership can solve that problem. I'm all for it.

But it also likely is a bad idea. I suspect that since the water system has been foreign-controlled over the last few years, investment, maintenance and upgrades have been held to a minimum. The quality of water and service attests to that. We went a lot of years in CU without boil orders before they started popping up in the past few years.

Given that, municipal ownership likely would mean a huge investment in upkeep, maintenance and in upgrades that are much needed but have not been performed in the last few years for economic reasons.

That's likely to make the purchase cost-prohibitive.

And finally, the purchase could be wrong-headed.

If the cities are looking for the water system to turn a profit then they're getting into the venture for the wrong reasons. It is not a municipalities' mission to be a profit-making entity. It's a municipalities' business to provide services. The police department does not attempt to turn a profit on tickets, nor on parking meters. Believe it or not. The bus system doesn't attempt to make a profit on its service, just pay for the service, maintenance and salaries. And buy new buses when necessary. (Really.)

It'd be nice if the water system could pay for itself, including paying for maintenance and upgrades. Looking for profits? Thank you, no. That amounts to gouging residents. Gouging taxpayers. Unnecessary taxation. A government is not and should not be a profit-making enterprise, because any profit would come at the expense of its residents. Its taxpayers. Me.

I hope the cities look seriously at the purchase. But I also hope they go into it realistically.

And so it goes.

Monday, January 9, 2006

Randomly speaking

This that and (some of) the other:

-- Sorry (somewhat) to see IlliniPundit hanging up his present form of a blog. Although it was often entertaining, it also was usually a one-trick pony politically: Conservative = good, Liberal = bad. Nevertheless, it often sparked some interesting discussions. And, since the blog will continue with a long list of conservative Republicans listed as authors (including the pre-existing illinipundit???) there may not be as much change as people think.

-- I've seen bad before, but Saturday's Illini game against Iowa (IOWA for Chrissake!) was pathetic. Hate to say it, but it seems that as Dee does so do the Illini. Augie must stay out of foul trouble, even if they're ticky-tacky little fouls, At the same time, he's gotta play strong every time out; Randall must learn to go to the basket hard and strong; so must Arnold, who should be a strength inside. And the whole darned team's gotta remember that the Big 10, top to bottom, is NOT Pan American. It's a muscle conference.

-- An awful lot of Americans are being murdered in Iraq to create what, a Sunni-Shiite theocracy?

-- Can someone explain to me why asking tough questions of a Supreme Court candidate would be considered somehow obstructionist? Are not members of the minority party allowed to hold opinions and ask questions? From the loyal opposition, according to the AP:
"Your record raises troubling questions about whether you appreciate the checks and balances in our Constitution — the careful efforts of our Founding Fathers to protect us from a government or a president determined to seize too much power over our lives," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

"In an era when the White House is abusing power, is excusing and authorizing torture and is spying on American citizens, I find Judge Alito's support for an all-powerful executive branch to be genuinely troubling," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

Said Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis.: "We need judges who see themselves as custodians of the rights and freedoms that the Constitution guarantees, even when the president of the United States is telling the country that he should be able to decide unilaterally how far those freedoms go."
That's not obstructionist. That's raising legimate concerns, concerns every American should seek answers to.

-- So sorry to see Tom DeLay will be replaced as House Majority Leader. He was such an easy target, given his long record of ethical lapses. Not to worry, there's a whole GOP cut from the same cloth from which to pick

-- Interesting that the NG publisher thinks that public officials should not be paid for serving. Guess he thinks salaried employees will be allowed by their employeers to take 3-4 months off with pay every year to serve. Bet that wouldn't be allowed at the NG. Only the moneyed class would serve in his perfect world. Or is that his point?

And so it goes.

Friday, January 6, 2006

This and that

Stuff I found interesting.

-- If Pat Robertson truely believes Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for "dividing God's land." then at least Pat will have soneone interesting to talk to in hell.

-- Anyone who believes the media intentionally misled members' families in the recent coal mining disaster by broadcasting innacurate news that the miners were safe belongs in the same handbasket as Pat. However, there are a number of media members, particularly those in the electronic media, who need to revisit the meaning of the word confirmation. They weren't malicious, but they certainly were irresponsible and unprofessional.

-- 11 more U.S. Troops were killed today in Iraq. That brings the total to 2,193. Is it worth it, just to build a permanent al Quada base in the country? From Reuters:
George W. Bush and his Republican party face pressure at home over the rising American death toll, but the U.S. president said on Wednesday a cut in troops would be based on the situation on the ground and decisions by military commanders, not a timetable imposed from Washington.
Thursday's deaths take the number of U.S. fatalities since the start of the war to oust Saddam Hussein to 2,193, according to Reuters figures.

It was the highest daily U.S. death toll since December 1, when 11 U.S. soldiers were also killed, and was also the deadliest day in Iraq overall for four months.
-- Anyone still question whether Dee Brown is a legitimate first-team All-American?

-- School vouchers - a veiled attempt by rich white parents to keep their children out of racially mixed schools - took another shot in Florida recently.
In a ruling expected to reverberate through legal battles over school choice in many states, the Florida Supreme Court today struck down a voucher program for students attending failing schools, saying the state constitution bars Florida from using taxpayer money to finance a private alternative to the public system.

The 5-to-2 ruling will shut down a program that Gov. Jeb Bush has considered one of his chief accomplishments at the close of this school year.
It's an encouraging trend. If vouchers catch on, the only folks paying taxes for the public schools will be childless couples (like me & the wife).

And so it goes.

Thursday, January 5, 2006


Bookkeeping for 2006

I'm going to be updating my blogroll in the next few days. Those who haven't been doing much posting lately (a relative term subject to my whims) likely may be disappearing.

Additionally there are a few new local blogs out there which may or may not merit inclusion. Some show promise. Some may not be worth it. Some I haven't made up my mind on yet.

Any ideas? Any nominations?

Anyone care?

And so it goes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Go figure

I hate to think that I'm sounding anti-development or anti-growth here, but I just can't quite understand that in 2006 the Champaign City Council in all its wisdom would approve an apartment/condo complex with clearly and admittedly inadequate parking.

Why would they do such a thing?

Do they think the upscale yuppies who are gonna buy the condos can stack their multiple SUVs on top of each other? Do they honestly believe that claptrap that they're trying to appeal to urban residents who WON'T have or have need to rely on vehicles. Just who is that? Workers have cars. Students have cars. Retirees have cars.

The way I figure it, any upscale (read expensive) condo means at least two occupants. Two occupants in 2006 means two people working outside the condo which means at least two vehicles. There are 259 units. There are 200 parking places. I'm a liberal arts major, but even I can do that math.

In the mean time, let's consider continuing the debate about why we should cut back or eliminate MTD service in the Campustown area, where the ill-fated Burnham project is to be built.

Oh, sorry, I forgot. Parking's not the issue. It's all about profit. Profit for the developer. Tax money for the city. And decades of parking problems for downtown.

All completely logical in a free-enterprise system, I guess.

And so it goes.