Monday, April 11, 2005

Initial report is untrue

From the Peoria Star Journal



Exceprt:

Democratic Senate President Emil Jones last week said the reason Illinois lost the NCAA basketball tournament was the lack of a mascot. Jones said Illinois was the only team in the Final Four that didn't have a mascot, and he told Blagojevich "if they lose, that's the reason why they lost." Sure, whatever you say.

This is probably another part of Jones' campaign to get rid of Chief Illiniwek, the non-mascot mascot of the University of Illinois. Illiniwek wasn't at the tournament because he wasn't going to be able to do his halftime dance. If he wasn't going to do the dance, a university spokesman sniffed, there was no reason for Illiniwek to attend the game because he's no mere mascot. Sure, whatever you say.

Safe stance

Blagojevich has steered clear of the Illiniwek controversy. With just over a year and a half to the next election, he can't afford to alienate yet another large constituency, and there are a lot of Illiniwek backers out there.

One excuse he's used in the past is that he's never seen Illiniwek in action and didn't want to comment on something he hadn't seen. That changed last week when Illiniwek performed at a rally honoring the Illinois men's basketball team. Blagojevich was in attendance. He was also roundly booed, but that's another issue.

So, governor, now that you've seen Illiniwek in person, do you think he's a beloved school icon or a racist caricature? Your opinion counts, since you appoint the U of I trustees.

"Nothing has changed in my view," Blagojevich said. "I have my own personal opinion on it. It would be inappropriate meddling on my part to express my own personal viewpoint."

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3:24 AM  

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