Thursday, February 18, 2010

Our View: Sign the petition; make a difference | Daily Chronicle

Redistricting should be for the people, not the politicians.
A proposed constitutional amendment, the Illinois Fair Map Amendment, would take redistricting power away from politicians, place it in the hands of an impartial commission, and strike a blow against Illinois’ culture of corruption.
How can you help? Registered voters are encouraged to sign Fair Map Amendment petitions before the end of March.

Click on the following for more details:  Our View: Sign the petition; make a difference | Daily Chronicle

Sycamore, NIU grad killed in California plane crash | Daily Chronicle

DeKalb County connection to the Tesla crash. 

graduate of both Sycamore High School and Northern Illinois University was killed Wednesday in a plane crash in California.
Brian Michael Finn was one of three employees of electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc.

Finn graduated from Sycamore High in 1985, according to school officials. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics, with a concentration in acoustics, in 1990 from NIU, followed by a Masters of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1992, according to NIU records.

 

Click on the following for more details

Sycamore, NIU grad killed in California plane crash | Daily Chronicle

Horse slaughter ban back on legislative agenda

There is a new push in the General Assembly to repeal the state’s nearly three-year-old ban on commercial horse slaughter.

State Rep Jim Sacia, R-Pecatonica, said in the years since Illinois shut down the last horse slaughter plant in DeKalb, thousands of horses have faced starvation, abandonment, or a long trip to a death in Mexico. …“We have now reached a point where nearly 100,000 horses a year are being shipped to arguably a third world country…where they are slaughtered in Mexico in nowhere near the humane situation that we had here.”

State Rep. Dave Winters, R-Rockford, said the legislature needs to look at horse slaughter as a part of Illinois’ agricultural economy.

Click on the following for more details:  Horse slaughter ban back on legislative agenda - Freeport, IL - The Journal-Standard

Boone board opposes moving U of I Extension office - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

If  U of I moves the office will county taxpayers still have to pay the special  real estate tax?

there are 400 4-H members in 20 community clubs and 40 active master gardeners whose collective volunteer time in 2009 reached 2,332 hours at a value of more than $47,000.

Walberg reminded…. that Boone County taxpayers approved a property tax referendum in 1991 to fund the Boone office.

“What is to be determined is to be determined after public meetings are finished. It’s pretty evident that a prime option is reorganization and moving from single-county units to multicounty units. With that, we don’t know if there will be a loss of local presence and service that could go with that.” [said Mailand]

Click on the following for more details:  Boone board opposes moving U of I Extension office - Rockford, IL - Rockford Register Star

Illinois Fair Map Amendment

Here is the text of constitutional amendment:

ARTICLE IV

THE LEGISLATURE

(ILCON Art. IV, Sec. 2)

SECTION 2.  LEGISLATIVE COMPOSITION

(a)One Senator shall be elected from each Legislative District.  Immediately following each decennial redistricting, the General Assembly shall divide the Legislative Districts as equally as possible into three groups.  Senators from one group shall be elected for terms of four years, four years and two years; Senators from the second group, for terms of four years, two years and four years; and Senators from the third group, for terms of two years, four years and four years.  The Legislative Districts in each group shall be distributed substantially equally over the State.

(b)In 2012 and every two years thereafter one Representative shall be elected from each Representative District for a term of two years.

(c)To be eligible to serve as a member of the General Assembly, a person must be a United States citizen, at least 21 years old, and for the two years preceding his election or appointment a resident of the district which he is to represent.  In the general election following a redistricting, a candidate for the General Assembly may be elected from any district which contains a part of the district in which he resided at the time of the redistricting and reelected if a resident of the new district he represents for 18 months prior to reelection.

(d)Within thirty days after a vacancy occurs, it shall be filled by appointment as provided by law.  If the vacancy is in a Senatorial office with more than twenty-eight months remaining in the term, the appointed Senator shall serve until the next general election, at which time a Senator shall be elected to serve for the remainder of the term.  If the vacancy is in a Representative office or in any other Senatorial office, the appointment shall be for the remainder of the term.  An appointee to fill a vacancy shall be a member of the same political party as the person he succeeds.

(e)No member of the General Assembly shall receive compensation as a public officer or employee from any other governmental entity for time during which he is in attendance as a member of the General Assembly.

No member of the General Assembly during the term for which he was elected or appointed shall be appointed to a public office which shall have been created or the compensation for which shall have been increased by the General Assembly during that term.

(Source:  Amendment adopted at general election November 4, 1980.)

(ILCON Art. IV, Sec. 3)

SECTION 3.  LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING

(a)On the second Tuesday in February in the year following each federal decennial census year, the President of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, and the Minority Leader of the House may each, considering the diversity of the State, appoint two members to the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission.  On or before the second Tuesday in March, one additional member shall be elected by a majority of the members appointed, and that member shall serve as Chair.  Members of the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission shall not be eligible to be elected to the General Assembly or appointed to any office of the State that is subject to confirmation by the Senate for ten years after completion of service on the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission. No person may serve as a member of the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission who is at the time of appointment, becomes at any time during service, or who was at any time during the preceding four years (i) a registered lobbyist in Illinois; (ii) an employee or contractor of the State of Illinois; (iii) an elected official of or a candidate for or appointed member of any elected body of: the federal government, the State, a unit of local government, a school district or a political party or (iv) an immediate family member of any of the foregoing.  As used in this Article IV, Section 3, “immediate family member” is a person with whom the person has a bona fide relationship established through close blood or legal kinship.  If any member of the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission shall be unable to fulfill the duties required under this Section, then the person who appointed said member, or that person’s successor, shall appoint a person to fill said vacancy within five days of the occurrence of the vacancy.

A meeting of a majority of a quorum of the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission shall be open to the public with at least twenty-four hour notice.  The Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission shall have authority to hire independent private firms for any assistance.  The Commission shall conduct at least five public hearings on separate days around five distinct geographic regions of the State before voting on any redistricting plans, and at least three of the hearings shall be after receipt of the data from the United States Census Bureau.

Within three days after receipt of the data from the United States Census Bureau, the Commission shall make that data, together with redistricting software, available to the public.

(b)The Commission shall approve any redistricting plans by a majority vote of its members.

The Commission shall establish districts pursuant to a mapping process using the following criteria as set forth in the following order of priority:

(1)Districts shall comply with all federal laws, and shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice.

(2)Districts shall be contiguous.

(3)Districts shall be substantially equal in population.

(4)Districts shall be compact.

(5)District boundaries shall, to the extent practical, follow visible geographic features and municipal boundaries.

(6)The plan shall not be drawn to purposefully or significantly favor or discriminate against any political party or group.

Party registration, voting history data and incumbency shall not be considered in the mapping process, except to evaluate compliance with the criteria listed in subsections (b)(1) and (b)(6).  The Commission shall establish definitions where applicable for each of the criteria listed in subsections (b)(1)-(6).  A Representative District need not be entirely within a single Legislative District.

After preliminary approval of the redistricting plans, the Commission shall release the proposed plans to the public, conduct at least three public hearings around three distinct geographic regions of the State, and submit a report to the General Assembly.  At any time prior to the submission of a plan under subsection (c), any member of the General Assembly or general public may submit a plan to be considered by the Commission and for public viewing.  All documents submitted to or plans considered by the Commission shall be made available to the public within a reasonable time period.

(c)After conducting the required public hearings, the Commission shall approve by a majority vote a Representative redistricting plan by third Monday in May, which the Chair of the Commission shall deliver to the House of Representatives on the third business day after approval.  The House must take a record vote to accept the plan by a House Resolution.  The Resolution is adopted if it receives the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the members elected.

After conducting the required public hearings, the Commission shall approve by a majority vote a Senate redistricting plan by the third Monday in May, which the Chair of the Commission shall deliver to the Senate on the third business day after approval.  The Senate must take a record vote to accept the plan by a Senate Resolution.  The Resolution is adopted if it receives the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the members elected.

Redistricting plans may not be amended by either chamber.  An adopted redistricting resolution shall be filed with the Secretary of State by the presiding officer of the chamber that initiated the resolution.  Each chamber shall have until the first Monday in June to file a resolution with the Secretary of State approving the redistricting plan.

(d)If a plan is not adopted by a chamber of the General Assembly, the Commission shall approve an alternative redistricting plan no later than third Monday in June, and the Chair of the Commission shall deliver that plan to the appropriate chamber of the General Assembly on the third business day after approval.  The appropriate chamber of the General Assembly shall approve or reject that plan in the same manner established by subsection (c).  Each chamber shall have until the first Monday in July to file a resolution with the Secretary of State approving the alternative redistricting plan. 

(e)If a plan is not approved by a chamber of the General Assembly by the first Monday in July, the Commission shall approve by a majority one of the two previous plans submitted to the appropriate chamber of the General Assembly under subsections (c) and (d).  The Chair of the Commission shall file the approved redistricting plan for the appropriate chamber with the Secretary of State not later than the third Monday in July.

(f)If at any time the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission fails to meet one of the deadlines set forth herein, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and a Supreme Court judge chosen by the judges of the Supreme Court who are not of the political party of the Chief Justice shall within ten days jointly appoint and certify to the Secretary of State one person to act as Special Master to generate any maps not previously approved.  No person may serve as Special Master who is not eligible to serve on the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission.  A person who serves as Special Master is not eligible to be elected to the General Assembly or appointed to any office of the State that is subject to confirmation by the Senate for ten years after completion of service as a Special Master.  A Special Master shall consider all redistricting plans delivered by or submitted to the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission, the Senate, or the House as applicable.  The Special Master shall have authority to hire independent assistance, make available the data received from the United States Census Bureau, together with redistricting software, to the public within three days of receipt unless the Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission has already done so; shall conduct at least five public hearings on separate days around five distinct geographic regions of the state after receipt of the data from the United States Census Bureau and before promulgating any preliminary redistricting plans, and shall hold at least three public hearings on separate days around three distinct geographic regions of the state after promulgating any preliminary redistricting plans and before finalizing any plan or plans.  All documents submitted to or utilized by the Special Master shall be made available to the public within a reasonable amount of time.  The Special Master shall file a redistricting plan complying with the criteria set forth in subsection 3(b) for the Legislative Districts and Representative Districts, as applicable, with the Secretary of State not later than September 30.

(g)A redistricting resolution or redistricting plan filed with the Secretary of State shall be presumed valid, shall have the force and effect of law and shall be published promptly by the Secretary of State.

The Supreme Court shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over actions concerning redistricting the House and Senate, which shall be initiated in the name of the People of the State by the Attorney General.

(Source:  Amendment adopted at general election November 4, 1980.)

SCHEDULE

The State Board of Elections shall proceed, as soon as all the returns are received but no later than 31 days after the election, to canvass the votes given for and against this Constitutional Amendment, as shown by the abstracts of votes cast.  If this Constitutional Amendment is approved by either three-fifths of those voting on the question or a majority of those voting in the election, then the State Board of Elections shall declare the adoption of this Constitutional Amendment and it shall, upon declaration of its adoption, take effect and become a part of the Constitution of this State.  This Schedule supersedes and applies notwithstanding any statute to the contrary, and no other requirements, including without limitation proclamation of the results of the vote or notice by publication, are necessary for its effectiveness.  This Constitutional Amendment applies to redistricting beginning in 2011 for the election of members of the General Assembly beginning in 2012

 
Fair Map Partners
  • League of Women Votersclick on League for petition information.
  • Better Government Association
  • Patrick Collins, Brad McMillan, Shelia Simon, David Hoffman & Duane Noland
    former members of the Illinois Reform Commission.
  • IL Campaign for Political Reform
  • Common Cause - Illinois
  • Illinois Chamber of Commerce
  • Americans for Prosperity
  • Illinois Alliance for Growth
  • Illinois Farm Bureau
  • Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO)
  • United Power for Action and Justice

Illinois GOP leaders seek change in remap procedures - Springfield, IL - The State Journal-Register

The GOP resolutions are part of an effort by the Illinois Fair Map Coalition to get the issue on the ballot, one way or the other.

To make it onto the ballot through the legislature, however, the effort would have to receive three-fifths approval from both legislative chambers, and both chambers of the General Assembly are controlled by Democrats

The amendment also could be put on the November ballot by citizen petition, which would require 280,000 signatures. The coalition is trying to gather 500,000 signatures supporting the amendment by May 2.

Jan Czarnik of the League of Women Voters said many voters are “appalled” by the current redistricting system.

But Democrats say there are other options.

 

Click on the following for more detailsIllinois GOP leaders seek change in remap procedures - Springfield, IL - The State Journal-Register

Our View: Genoa still best rail route | Daily Chronicle

Daily Chronicle Onlinethe best bet in getting future federal funding is by using a less costly and less complicated route that can more easily be upgraded to allow for higher speeds. That means going through Genoa.

For Rockford, it is not Amtrak, but Metra, that represents the primary goal. The Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning has called implementation of passenger rail its “top regional priority” for the Rockford region, and long has pushed to locate passenger (Amtrak) and commuter (Metra) rail on the same line.
Metra would be a fine addition to Rockford, but at what cost? RMAP estimates it will cost $247 million to get Metra there. That doesn’t include the estimated $10 million in annual operating expenses.

.

Our View: Genoa still best rail route | Daily Chronicle

Fed Raises Interest Rate That It Charges Banks - NYTimes.com

 

image WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve, taking its first step to normalize lending after more than two years of extraordinary actions to prop up the economy, on Thursday raised the interest rate it charges banks on emergency loans.

The Fed emphasized that the increase in the discount rate, to 0.75 percent from 0.50 percent, which will take effect on Friday, did not represent a broad tightening of credit. Instead, officials said, the change was intended to discourage emergency borrowing by banks and other deposit-taking institutions when other financing is available.

“The modifications are not expected to lead to tighter financial conditions for households and businesses and do not signal any change in the outlook for the economy or for monetary policy,” the Fed said in a statement.

The Fed is not expected to make changes in its fed funds rate — the benchmark interest rate — until later this year.

In addition, the Fed announced that the typical maximum maturity for lending from primary credit loans — in which banks borrow from the discount window — would be shortened to overnight, the historic norm, beginning March 18.

The Fed also raised the minimum bid rate for its Term Auction Facility — a temporary program started in December 2007 to ease short-term lending — to 0.50 percent from 0.25 percent.

The changes, which required approval of the Fed’s board of governors, were announced after the close of the markets but they had been signaled in discussions by the central bank’s main policy-making arm, the Federal Open Market Committee, at its last meeting in late January.

In August 2007, at the inception of the financial crisis, the central bank lengthened that maturity to 30 days, from overnight. It also widened the spread, or difference, of the discount rate above the federal funds rate to 0.50 percent, from 1 percent.

The discount rate fell to its current level in December 2008, at the same time the Fed lowered the target for the benchmark fed funds rate — the rate at which banks borrow from each other overnight — to zero to 0.25 percent.

“The increase in the spread and reduction in maximum maturity will encourage depository institutions to rely on private funding markets for short-term credit and to use the Federal Reserve’s primary credit facility only as a backup source of funds,” the Fed said. “The Federal Reserve will assess over time whether further increases in the spread are appropriate in view of experience with the one-half percentage point spread.”

Next Article in Business (1 of 45) »

Fed Raises Interest Rate That It Charges Banks - NYTimes.com

Independent probe of Tribune buyout deal sought :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

Creditors want examination of Zell's $8.2 bil. buyout

The argument is that Zell's buyout, which left the company with more than $13 billion in debt as media advertising collapsed, rendered the company bankrupt from the start

Click on the following for more details:  Independent probe of Tribune buyout deal sought :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Business

Former House Speaker Hastert's perk costs taxpayers $1M - Chicago Breaking News

dennis hastertmaintain a taxpayer-funded office anywhere in the United States for up to five years…..Perks for ex-speakers date to 1959, according to the Congressional Research Service…. The purpose is to "facilitate the administration, settlement and conclusion of matters pertaining to or arising out of" a former speaker's tenure in the House….The office's spacious rooms -- part workplace, part museum -- are in a modern, two-story brick building next to the Kendall County Courthouse. Other tenants advertise on exterior signs, but not Hastert.

$1 million in taxpayer dollars in the last two years … thanks to a little-known perk given to ex-speakers.

paying monthly rent of $6,300 to a company partly owned by three sons of a Hastert mentor and business partner. Other public funds go for an $860-a-month 2008 GMC Yukon leased from a dealership owned by a Hastert friend and campaign donor.

Hastert represented Illinois in the House of Representatives for almost 21 years and was speaker for eight years. When Democrats regained the majority after the 2006 elections, Hastert lost the top spot. He had not been speaker for almost 11 months when he resigned from the House in November 2007.

Read more about this little known tax spending by clicking on the following:  Former House Speaker Hastert's perk costs taxpayers $1M - Chicago Breaking News

Thousands rally for tax increase to fix budget - Springfield

 

More than 2,000 people filled the Capitol Wednesday to push lawmakers to approve a spending plan that would spare potential cuts to human-service programs.

The crowd, which ranged from social workers to teachers, urged legislators to pass House Bill 174, which passed the Senate last year but stalled in the House. The legislation would increase the state income tax from 3 percent to 5 percent and would make other changes to bring in billions of dollars in new revenue.

Click on the following for more details:  Thousands rally for tax increase to fix budget - Springfield, IL - The State Journal-Register

The Trillion Dollar Gap - The Pew Center on the States

PCS logo• In 2000, just over half the states had fully funded pension systems. By 2006, that number had shrunk to six states. By 2008, only four—Florida, New York, Washington and Wisconsin—could make that claim.

• In eight states—Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and West Virginia—more than one-third of the total pension liability was unfunded. Two states—Illinois and Kansas—had less than 60 percent of the necessary assets on hand.

The Trillion Dollar Gap - The Pew Center on the States

Clout St: Illinois Senate holds private meeting at statehouse

Lawmakers barred reporters from the meeting, saying it was a joint gathering of the Democratic and Republican caucuses that was not required to be public under the state Constitution or open meetings law.

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago….dismissed the idea that allowing the entire Senate to hear a briefing from the National Conference of State Legislatures on state budgets and the economy should be open. He said he wanted reporters to see the information but that it would be presented in a press conference afterward.

Yeah, you're right. We've never had it before. I'm proud of it because we're trying to bring people together socially and in the working atmosphere," Cullerton said. "So I'm not trying to keep the media out of our business. You can ask anybody what they want to afterward, what they think, what the materials were."

Click on the following for more details:  Clout St: Illinois Senate holds private meeting at statehouse