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Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008 08:32 am

Cap City

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THE MEEK SHALL INHERIT THE CLERK
Everyone knows that Sangamon Circuit Clerk Tony Libri is a humble guy. But we were underwhelmed by Libri's reelection campaign yard signs, which began sprouting all over Springfield last week. Libri's posters consist of a white background imprinted with blue lettering bearing the candidate's name and the slogan "A Good Circuit Clerk." Easy, tiger. Doesn't the occasion — a tough fight against popular current Springfield City Clerk and former alderwoman Cecilia Tumulty — call for the use of a stronger adjective? "A good circuit clerk means you're doing a good job — and people are happy when you're doing a good job," Libri tells Cap City. "We didn't want to seem boastful. If we had put fantastic on there, the first thing I'd have is you guys calling asking, 'Why are you saying you're fantastic?'" He probably has a point. Tumulty's yard signs, by contrast, are neon green and electric blue but contain no snappy tagline. Asked how voters will assess her job performance, she says: "All they have to do is look at the record I've established and look at what I've done in the city clerk's office. People know that for five years now they've gotten the most current and accurate information available." To fit all that, Tumulty may need to get bigger signs.

Not on a dime

Last week U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., stopped by the University of Illinois-Springfield to talk textbooks. They're just too darn expensive, he says, and so evolved the College Textbook Affordability Act.

In honor of the newly approved federal law requiring publishers to include pricing information when marketing textbooks to faculty, Cap City took a tour around the UIS bookstore to see what's causing all
the fuss.

A freshman enrolled in entry-level classes — Rhetoric and College Writing, Beginning Algebra, and Environmental Biology — can expect to pay $388.45 this semester for brand-new books. That doesn't count what they'll fork over for history, art, or political science.

There's another factor, too — a student's major governs how much they'll spend on a bundle. An upper-level English student taking Dante's Inferno pays $162.74for eight books and an upper-level history student taking History of the Mystery pays $73.34 for 10 books.

But an upper-level business or math major taking Operations Management or Discrete Mathematics needs just one book and pays $195.25 or $171, respectively.

No wonder so many students opt for used books or Internet buys.

SOMETHING TO DWELL ON

Despite U.S. credit markets so stifled that the federal government wrested control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage companies this week, the capital city seems to be holding its own in terms of real estate development.

Although the overall number of construction permits dipped 4 percent in the first seven months of 2008, the number of dwelling units, their valuation, and the revenue generated for the city increased. And while the number of permits for new single-family homes through July fell to 64 from 93 in the same period in 2007, the number of units in multiple-family dwellings alone jumped 96 percent.

City building manager John Sadowski attributes much of that expansion to the Concordia Village retirement facility on the west side, which broke ground last fall.

NO CREDIT

When Gov. Rod Blagojevich uncharacteristically hacked $1.4 billion out of the state budget, we anticipated a deluge of news releases lauding the governor for trimming the fat. A month went by, then another. But not a peep giving Blago props from any organizations that have called for reigning in state spending over the past six years.

Not even a kind word from Americans for Prosperity-Illinois, which often criticizes the governor's fiscal policies and is currently suing Blagojevich and Senate President Emil Jones for not providing information on earmarks. Joe Calomino, director of AFP-Illinois chuckled when asked if he applauded Blagojevich's actions. "Was there a method to the madness?" Calomino asks.

Upon announcing the cuts in July, Blagojevich said he was forced to make the vetoes because the budget passed by the Illinois House of Representatives was $2 billion out of balance, which he called "a dereliction of their Constitutional duty."

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