Five ideas: What are your thoughts on these items in the news this week?

Sunday, February 10, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:40 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

‘Super-duper’ deadlock

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton entered Tuesday’s primary elections and caucuses in 22 states wrapped up in a struggle for the Democrat presidential nomination. After weeks of fierce campaigning and several rounds of debates, not much was settled when the dust settled.

Obama won 13 states to Clinton’s eight — New Mexico’s results were still too close to call as of Friday — but the New York senator and former first lady was victorious in the big delegate draws of California and her home state.

Missouri backed Obama by fewer than 10,000 votes, but the state’s 72 delegates look to be divided evenly. The nationwide result mirrors Missouri’s split, with Clinton taking 580 delegates to Obama’s 571.

On the Republican side, John McCain took 33 percent of Missouri’s vote and narrowly defeated former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, capturing 58 delegates in a winner-take-all primary. Mitt Romney, once favored to win the nomination, dropped out of the race Thursday, giving McCain a firmer grip on the party’s ticket. Huckabee is McCain’s only serious challenger.

Obama and Clinton have returned to the campaign trail, with several key states (Texas, Ohio and Virginia, among others) up for grabs in the coming weeks.

How might a prolonged struggle between Obama and Clinton affect the winner’s standing among all Democrats come November?

Budget blues

President Bush’s 2009 budget plan includes trims to Medicare and the elimination of several domestic programs, despite a record $3.1 trillion proposal.

Slumping revenues and the cost of an economic rescue package will cause the federal deficit to jump to a level just shy of the record $413 billion deficit four years ago. The dire prediction is still an optimistic one, as the Iraq war has been slotted for almost $120 billion less than last year. Experts say the war’s projected $70 billion allotment is almost certain to go up.

That allotment is also only a placeholder until the next president makes a more definite allocation. Furthermore, the White House is predicting that the economy will grow at a much faster rate than economists expect.

In order to keep his tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 intact, the president has scheduled spending cuts for Medicare, Medicaid and outright budget cuts of half of the Cabinet’s domestic departments.

Although the president’s plan includes the forecast of a $48 billion surplus by 2012, a Democrat-controlled Congress will likely ignore the proposal.

How do you feel about the elimination of domestic and medical programs in the president’s budget in order to maintain first-term tax cuts?

Autocrat vs. diplomat

Ever since he chucked a chair across the court at Indiana almost a quarter-century ago, Bob Knight, the NCAA Division I basketball all-time wins leader, has been a source of controversy.

Knight resigned Monday as Texas Tech head coach, apparently retiring for good, with 902 wins and 40 winning seasons in 42 years to his credit. Although former UCLA coach John Wooden has called Knight one of the greatest teachers of the game, Knight may be known as much for his fiery temper with the media and altercations with players as well as for his accomplishments.

MU men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson, however, has been commended for the way he reacted to a Jan. 27 incident at the Athena nightclub, which left senior point guard Stefhon Hannah with a broken jaw. Hannah, fellow seniors Jason Horton, Marshall Brown and Darryl Butterfield, and junior Leo Lyons were all suspended against Nebraska on Jan. 30. Brown and Lyons returned to the lineup Feb. 2 versus Kansas State, and Horton and Butterfield played in Monday’s loss to Kansas.

Following the suspensions, Anderson received warm receptions before both the Nebraska and Kansas State games. Some people bought tickets to the Nebraska game specifically to support Anderson’s decisions.

How should a college coach balance the desire to win against being a role model both for his players and as a public figure?

Telling GetAbout to get out

Residents along the cul-de-sac of Bluffdale Drive near Hinkson Creek are upset over the preliminary plans to connect a portion of the city’s GetAbout Columbia trail project through their street.

The project, funded by a $22 million grant from the federal government aiming to reduce reliance on motorized transportation, recently released plans including a trail through the Hinkson Creek valley that would serve as a major east-west corridor. The trail had an estimated cost of $1 million and would connect at Bluffdale Drive.

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe, who lives on Bluffdale Drive, said she could use the trail as an easy commute to work. But she said at least 80 percent of her neighbors are against it, and she will give their concerns priority when the project comes before the City Council, likely in early March.

Among the residents’ concerns are parking issues around the cul-de-sac, the narrowness of the sidewalk-free street, and the possibility of runoff to Hinkson Creek that would back up into their yards if the 10-foot-wide concrete trail is constructed.

Ted Curtis, the trail project’s director, said he will likely look at other options to divert the trail.

How would you feel about a trail project that might increase pedestrian and bicycle traffic to your neighborhood?

Signed, sealed and delivered

After leading the MU football team to its best season in almost half a century, coach Gary Pinkel has big plans for 2008 and beyond.

Part of becoming a national power is to gather a solid recruiting class, which the Tigers seemed to do on paper Wednesday during college football’s national signing day. Mizzou inked 23 players, and the class ranks 26th in the country, according to The class, which includes Blaine Gabbert, the second-ranked quarterback prospect in the nation, is widely considered the best class Pinkel has had since he arrived to MU seven years ago.

Among the Big 12 North schools, only Colorado had a higher-ranked recruiting class. The Buffaloes were 24th on the list.

High school coaches outside Missouri have said the Tigers are beginning to become nationally recognized and that being part of establishing MU as a national power has attracted recruits. Gabbert said the school’s recent success could motivate more in-state recruits like himself and Wes Kemp, a wide receiver from St. Louis, to take a long look at MU. He said the opportunity for in-state players to compete for their state’s school is “a big deal.”

How might the consistent recruiting of Missouri’s best high school players into the state school affect the team’s fan base?

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