The Unit 5 school district main office. (WJBC file photo)
By Ryan Denham
Five Things You Should Know for Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012:
It looks like Twin City homeowners will be paying more in property taxes to Unit 5 or District 87 next year. Faced with a stagnant or even declining property tax base, District 87 is looking at a 6-cent increase in its tax rate, with Unit 5 planning for a 3-cent hike. In both districts, that would mean about a $17 annual increase for the owner of a $150,000 home. Unit 5 is still seeing strong year-over-year enrollment growth, while District 87 is working toward a deficit-reduction plan. "(The property tax base) could go more negative, which we hope it doesn't, but it's important for us to get back on our feet with some new construction and to get our current stock of homes sold,” said Unit 5 Superintendent Gary Niehaus.
If reporters can no longer visit state prisons because they’re unsafe, why can college students? That’s the question being asked in media circles after reports Wednesday that a Heartland Community College class recently toured Pontiac Correctional Center. The Heartland professor who took her students on the tour should first be applauded for setting up the outside-the-classroom experience, but also for staying mum when the media started asking about it this week. “I am not trying to get involved in the political side of this, I am just going to continue what I have been doing for years and if they cut off that access it will not be because of me,” she wrote Lee Enterprises’ Springfield Bureau chief in an email. Reporter Kurt Erickson pointedly notes the Department of Corrections’ apparently unfair policy: “It remains unclear why a tour of a prison is a risk if reporters are involved, but not when college students are involved.”
SouthtownStar columnist Phil Kadner has a great story about Republican Barbara Bellar, who is running for a state Senate seat. She touts her experience as a nun in her campaign materials, including a logo that reads “There’s ‘Nun’ Better.” But Kadner is challenging that narrative. That’s because there’s no evidence Bellar became an actual nun, only that she did her first year of training and never took final vows. Bellar has said she was a nun for five years, however, and Kadner claims she’s been dodging him ever since he started asking questions about the discrepancy. “It’s like someone claiming they’re a doctor because they graduated medical school but never completed a residency,” one Catholic layman told Kadner. Bellar is running against Democrat William Cunningham, an incumbent state representative, in the 18th Senate district, which includes some of my old stomping grounds in the southwest Chicago suburbs.
Independent candidate John Hartman was included in Wednesday’s debate in the 13th Congressional District race between Democrat David Gill and Republican Rodney Davis. Hartman, of Edwardsville, was absent last week when Gill and Davis debated at Illinois State University. In Springfield on Wednesday, Gill and Davis sparred most forcefully over health care and the federal overhaul. Jason Nevel with the Springfield Journal-Register reports that they also touched on the economy and abortion, among other issues. It’s only the second formal debate in the race – a third is coming – but the Journal-Register also posted video from a recent editorial board meeting that featured all three candidates in the race. It’s worth watching.
There’s not much left to say about Donald Trump’s ultimatum to President Barack Obama on Wednesday to needlessly hand over college records and other paperwork to prove … whatever … in exchange for a $5 million donation to a charity of Trump’s choice. There’s not much left to say because WJBC’s Jim Fitzpatrick pretty much said it all during Wednesday’s show. But Obama got in a couple good digs at Trump again on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," reminiscent of when Obama absolutely tore The Donald apart at the White House Correspondents Dinner. “This all dates back to when we were growing up together in Kenya,” Obama joked Wednesday, pointing to old jealousies from their time playing soccer together. Check out the video:
Ryan Denham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.