Recently in Chambana Category

St. Jude Catholic Worker House


Kudos to the News-Gazette for profiling our local Catholic Worker House, which is seeing a surge in clients and could use your help.

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Champaign Burned



"Why my son was late to his Friday morning art class"


"Because traffic downtown isn't bad enough"

The Metropolitan Building, a 130+ year-old building in downtown Champaign (across the street from 02, kitty corner from Jim Gould's, caught fire early this morning, collapsing just after firefighters arrived, damaging several nearby buildings and causing a major PITA for those of us trying to navigate downtown.

The News-Gazette has a neato slide-show and this Picasa website has some more.

The building was being renovated and no injuries seem to have been reported.

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Hurry, Hurry, Hurry


This is Mama-Lu. Chris usually edits my posts so please excuse any problems and the absence of my special font color. I'll have him fix it when he get home tonight [fixed--ed]. Since these are time sensitive and I forgot before he left, I'm flying solo.

  1. Time is almost up to register for the Smart Martha Seminar taking place at St. Matthew's in Champaign on November 15th. Learn new ideas about having a faith-filled family and managing your house. Plus, spend the day with other women who are trying figure these things out too.

    For more info, visit the Smart Martha website, and to register go to our parish website

    I've heard good things!

  2. Scoot on over to Seaside Tales for a chance to win one of my duck puppets. Enter by Friday!

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My stupid, stupid county


We had three proposed tax hikes on the ballot this year. A property tax increase to fund county forest preservation, a property tax increase to fund township services to very poor folks and a sales tax increase to fund school buildings. I voted for the first two and against the last (shame on them for proposing a regressive sales tax to fund schools).

Well, none of them passed, which is not too surprising since who the hell really wants to pay more taxes? But what gets me is that the first two were landslides, 2-1 in the case of the township tax, while the school tax came within 300 votes of passing. It just goes to show that some people will vote for anything, even increasing the tax burden on the poorest citizens, in the name of education.

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More on Fr. Layden

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This report paints a much less benign and much more disturbing picture.

An informant working with the UI police officers investigating Layden told a Champaign County judge Wednesday that he has known Layden since 2007 and used cocaine with him "40 to 50 times" in the last seven months in Layden's office in the Newman Center, 604 E. Armory Ave., C, and in Layden's residence in the rectory across the street at 1007 S. Sixth St., C.

The informant spelled out for Judge Harry Clem his relationship and contacts with Layden in order for police to obtain search warrants for Layden's office and residence. Clem issued those warrants Wednesday, and UI police investigators searched the office and residence and collected several items of evidence, including about 3 grams of powder cocaine, Interim UI Police Chief Jeff Christensen said...

First Assistant State's Attorney Steve Ziegler said in court Thursday that the UI police monitored a cocaine purchase by the informant from Layden on Sept. 4. That alleged transaction occurred in a garage at the Newman Center after Layden obtained drugs from his car, according to Ziegler.

Police also monitored the informant in a Sept. 9 purchase of cocaine from Layden. On that day, Ziegler said, the informant met Layden at the Newman Center to arrange a buy. Layden then drove to another location in Urbana where police believe he picked up the drugs, then returned to the Newman Center. He then sent a text message to the informant saying the drugs were ready for delivery.

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Prayer needed


The big news here in C-U is that one of the priests at the Newman Center was arrested on drug charges yesterday evening.

I checked the diocesan website and the Newman Center page for more information, but none has been posted yet. In the meantime. be sure to keep Fr. Layden and the staff and students at St. John's in your prayers.


The Bloomington Pantagraph has a more substantial report, noting that the Diocese of Peoria released a statement from Bishop Daniel Jenky saying that Fr. Layden has been suspended. The report also notes that Fr. Layden pled not guilty at his arraignment today.


HOI, Peoria's ABC affiliate, has a .pdf of the statement from the diocese.

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I Learned Today...

  • ease back in to bike riding.
  • bandage up all open wounds before bike riding.
  • ...not to layer shirts when it's over 80 degrees.
  • ...that Green St. between Mattis and Prospect is way hillier the same strip of John St.
  • ...that the library is farther from my house than I thought
  • ...that I need to build up to the 7+ mile commute to work -- and that it will probably take me about 45 -50 minutes one way.
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Well this is a nice story

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Sad Day in C-U


The Office (the bar not the TV show) is closed for good.

Of course, this partially stems from The Office serving underaged kids during Unofficial, and Tom Cochrane plans to take advantage of stupidly generous tax breaks (do we really need to subsidize the owner of several existing bars) to open a new bar in the same spot, so don't shed too many tears.

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In other shameful local news


I had no idea that the Curtis Road /I-57 exchange was costing $13.5 million.

Here's a map of the area:

View Larger Map

At the top and bottom of the map are existing interchanges. Right smack in the middle (at the green arrow) is Curtis Rd. As you can see, the intersection of Curtis and I-57 is surrounded by corn fields.

Granted, this was done because Champaign has grown and is likely continue to grow southwest, so pretty soon those cornfields will be replaced by McMansions. But to the extent that that growth is south, it will head straight for the Monticello Road (Route 18) exit. So the only people who really benefit from this are those who live west of Duncan, south of Kirby and north of Old Church. And we've spent $13.5 million that could have been used to repair Champaign's crumbling arterial roads to save them six minutes of driving time.

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Justice in Champaign-Urbana


Patrick Thompson, a local community activist who has caused numerous headaches for police in Champaign-Urbana, is currently undergoing his third trial for charges that he forcibly entered his neighbor's apartment and assaulted her in 2004.

Thompson's supporters imply that the charges are trumped up, and indeed on the surface things look suspicious: there is no physical evidence, the police didn't investigate the crime scene when it happened, and the case mostly boils down to the word of the assaulted woman. Not being personally acquainted with the case, I refuse to take sides either way, but objectively, it's hard to see a conviction being handed down when it's her word against his.

That said, there was a major development this week when the judge in the case threw out the home invasion charge, on the basis that the defense "failed to present evidence...that Thompson was not a peace officer acting in the line of duty." The report goes on to report that the judge justified his dismissal by claiming that "'A significant segment' of the police population does not wear typical uniforms while working."

It's pretty obvious that Patrick Thomspon is not a peace officer. In fact, he's made a career out of making life difficult for "peace officers." There seem to be two possibilities here: 1) The prosecution is grossly negligent, because really, how hard is it to prove that somebody isn't a cop? or 2) The judge is trying to make this case go away.

Look, it's entirely possible that these charges are a mockery of justice, but throwing out a charge for failing to prove a negative doesn't advance the cause of justice.

UPDATE: Brian Dolinar says it's negligence. He's not exactly an impartial observer, but I don't think he's a liar either. The circus goes on.

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U of I Newman Center in the Catholic Post


This week, my diocesan newspaper leads with the building project at St. John's Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois.

The expansion is needed because St. John’s Catholic Newman Center, which serves about 12,000 Catholic students at the University of Illinois, does not have enough residence hall space for students who would like to live there, nor meeting space for its many ministries and social outreaches.

When completed, the new 127,000 square-foot structure will add 316 beds. The hall will have two wings, one six stories in height and the other three. It also will include a second floor outdoor terrace, a 300-seat cafeteria, and a Newman Club where students can study and socialize.

The new building is expected to be finished by July 2008, when the project’s second phase -- an extensive renovation of Newman Hall -- will begin. Plans for the renovation are now being finalized, and the formal kick-off of a fundraising campaign will be announced at the end of the summer, said Randall.

(That first link will expire when the next issue comes out, so go to their archive page if you're reading this after July 20.)

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News we all can use

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Champaign Police Increasing Patrols for Speeding

This is my doom. Of course, the car I drive now is slightly less of a hoopty cop-magnet than the one I got 4 tickets in 24 months in, so here's hoping!

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The Uglification of Campus


The Daily Illini has an article about the destruction of beautiful old homes in Urbana to make way for cheap, hideous apartment buildings where the owners can pack more students in.

On the one hand, this is a shame. Instead of old, classy homes with lawns and porches, they're putting up the college equivalent of McMansions that crowd the sidewalk and never have enough parking spaces.

On the other hand, and here I'm putting on my completely selfish "it's all about me" hat, the more students we can pack into the 2 square miles of campustown, the less drunken loudmouths we'll have spilling into respectable neighborhoods. And if we're going to be replacing fine old houses with cheap construction apartments, better on campus than out in the neighborhoods where families live.

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Mama-Lu's Etsy Shop

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