Wednesday, August 31, 2016

NEWS ALERT-SEPTEMBER 1 RMAP (ROCKFORD METROPOLITAN AGENCY FOR PLANNING) TO BE HELD IN BELVIDERE

 

NEWS ALERT-SEPTEMBER 1 RMAP (ROCKFORD METROPOLITAN AGENCY FOR PLANNING) TO BE HELD IN BELVIDERE

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the RMAP Policy Committee will be held on Thursday, September 1, 2016 at 1:15 PM at the City of Belvidere City Hall, 401 Whitney Boulevard, Belvidere, IL.

RMAP wrote a letter in support of the Great Lakes Basin Railroad. Here is your opportunity to attend a local meeting of the agency.

http://www.rmapil.org/…/committees/agendas/policy-committee/

AGENDA
1. CALL TO ORDER, ROLL CALL AND REPRESENTATION - City of Belvidere - City of Rockford - City of Loves Park - Winnebago County - Boone County - Rockford Mass Transit District (RMTD) - Village of Machesney Park - Illinois Department of Transportation, Region 2
2. COMMUNICATIONS & PETITIONS
3. APPROVAL OF THE AUGUST 4, 2016 RMAP POLICY COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES
4. RMAP FY 2017-FY 2020 TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM (TIP) – RESOLUTION 20168: Discussion and recommendation for adoption of the FY 2017-2020 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
5. HUMAN SERVICES PLAN PRESENTATION: Marlana Dokken presentation.
8. PROGRESS REPORTS
9. OTHER BUSINESS
10. ADJOURNMENT

http://www.rmapil.org/upcoming-meetings/

 

This meeting has no public comment—recent Attorney General decisions demand public comment availability at all public meetings—come and demand that your comments on Great Lakes Basis be heard.

Quinn’s Plan for redistricting

 

Former Gov. Pat Quinn Has His Own 'Fair Maps' Proposal

Former Governor says simple changes could put 'Fair Maps' on ballot in November

Quinn offered substitute language on Tuesday which he has said would be both "fair and constitutional', therefore securing a place on the ballot.

The 'Independent Maps' Amendment would take the power of drawing up legislative districts out of the hands of elected leaders and give it to an independent commission.  The effort, led in part by Gov. Bruce Rauner, is supposed to create more competitive districts which could lead to more voter influence in elections.

However, the plan was ruled unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court last week in a party-line vote, with four Democratic Justices saying the amendment was unconstitutional while the three Republicans on the high court said it was.

“Voters deserve the chance to be heard on remap reform. Half a million voters signed petitions urging the question be put on the ballot but the language was fatally flawed,” Quinn said in a news release. “It’s back to the drawing board.”

And that's where Quinn believes he can help.  His proposal is far less wordy than the rejected 'Independent Maps' Amendment, and proposes that the State Supreme Court be the body to appoint its members.

“Unlike Independent Map’s plan, our language is simple, clean, and pristine,” Quinn said, noting that he is the only person in Illinois history to successfully amend the Constitution by referendum through his 1980 'Cutback Amendment', which reduced the size of the Illinois legislature.

“Having won before the Supreme Court on the interpretation of Article IV, Section 3, I know the Justices’ legal concerns,” Quinn said.  He adds that he plans to continue to reach out to the Independent Map organizers to offer a new and improved version. The voters would be able to vote in a 2018 referendum on a redistricting reform amendment. If adopted by the voters, the plan would be in effect in time for the 2021 redistricting required every ten years.

Interestingly enough, if Quinn were to be successful, it would put him at odds with House Speaker and fellow Democrat Mike Madigan, who recently said he opposes independent maps in part because it would dilute minority representation in the legislature.  Critics including the current Governor say Madigan is more concerned about the dilution of his power by denying him the ability to draw districts favorable to Democrats.

A copy of his proposed amendment can be seen here.

Above is fromhttp://www.mystateline.com/news/former-gov-quinn-fair-maps-proposal

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Great Lakes Basin Transportation is asking federal officials to push a deadline to file an alternate route for a proposed freight train line to Sept. 20.

 

An attorney with GLBT filed a letter with the federal Surface Transportation Board asking for the extension Monday, the deadline for GLBT to file an alternate route to the 278-mile one that cuts through southern Lake and Porter counties as it travels from Milton, Wis., into LaPorte County.

The letter was posted to the federal agency's website Tuesday morning.

The federal agency's Office of Environmental Analysis had asked GLBT to provide an alternative route in early July, and questioned GLBT then about why it hadn't offered any alternatives or explained why other routes had been rejected.

 

Rail line planners to miss alternative route deadline

"GLBT's engineering drawings are to be finalized the week of August 29th, and thereafter presentation maps and a narrative will be developed to accompany those materials," said attorney Kathryn Kusske Floyd, with the Washington, D.C., law firm Venable. "Based on these tasks yet to be accomplished, we ask for an extension of our response to September 20, 2016."

Officials with the federal agency are considering the requested extension, said STB spokesman Dennis Watson.

The public comment period on GLBT's proposal closed July 15 and garnered more than 3,900 responses to the STB's website, but Watson said his agency will take public comment on a draft environmental impact statement, which is expected to be completed in the coming years. Those comments can include GLBT's alternate route.

GLBT's proposal, at $8 billion in private funds, would be the largest new rail line in recent times and is meant to provide a bypass for Chicago's congested rail yard and take trucks off the road. The route will have the capacity for up to 110 trains a day.

 

Two of the six Class I railroads expected to be served by the freight line have publicly stated they will not participate; the remaining four appear uncommitted to the project.

Several people, including a representative with the opposition group Residents Against the Invasion of Land by Eminent Domain, or RAILED, have submitted alternate routes for consideration to the STB.

"The STB original request was for us to evaluate all submissions, ours and others as well," said Frank Patton, GLBT's founder and managing partner.

During an Aug. 5 teleconference with STB officials, the minutes of which are posted on the federal agency's website for the proposal, GLBT indicated "that it will prepare a robust narrative" on how it screened route alternatives and variations.

Amy Lavalley is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

Monday, August 29, 2016

ABC Supply to Purchase L&W Supply from USG Corporation for $670 Million

 

Proceeds used to right-size USG’s balance sheet accelerating profitable growth opportunities

August 29, 2016 07:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time

BELOIT, Wis. & CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ABC Supply Co., Inc. (“ABC Supply”) and USG Corporation (NYSE:USG) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement in which ABC Supply will acquire USG’s building product distribution business, L&W Supply Corporation (“L&W Supply”), for total cash consideration of $670 million (the "Transaction"). The Transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, and is expected to be completed before the end of 2016.

“The sale of L&W Supply is transformative for USG Corporation, enabling us to right-size our balance sheet and accelerate profitable growth”

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“We are thrilled to welcome the associates, customers, and suppliers of L&W Supply into the ABC family,” said Keith Rozolis, ABC Supply’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “As a world-class distributor of interior building materials, L&W reinforces ABC’s leadership position in building materials distribution, and helps set the stage for our next phase of growth”.

“The sale of L&W Supply is transformative for USG Corporation, enabling us to right-size our balance sheet and accelerate profitable growth,” said James S. Metcalf, Chairman, President, and CEO of USG Corporation. “This transaction sharpens our focus on manufacturing and innovation and creates a new strategic relationship with ABC Supply.”

Completion of the Transaction will allow USG to reduce debt and achieve its target leverage ratio, accelerate high return investments in its Gypsum and Ceilings businesses through advanced manufacturing initiatives, and position the company to consider future capital returns to shareholders. The sale of L&W Supply is also expected to dampen USG’s overall earnings cyclicality as well as provide opportunity for growth in the independent specialty dealer channel.

L&W Supply is one of the largest distributors of gypsum wallboard and suspended ceiling tiles in the United States, serving its customers from a nationwide footprint of 136 distribution branches. ABC Supply is the nation’s largest wholesale distributor of roofing, siding, windows and gutter materials. The acquisition of L&W Supply will allow it to expand into the interior of the building through the sale of gypsum wallboard and suspended ceiling tiles and grid.

J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Goldman, Sachs & Co. are serving as financial advisers to USG in connection with the Transaction. Jones Day is serving as legal adviser to USG. RBC Capital Markets and Deutsche Bank are serving as financial advisers and Kirkland & Ellis, Leo Law, and McDerrmott, Will & Emery as legal advisers to ABC Supply.

A conference call is being held by USG Corporation today at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time (8:00 a.m. Central time) during which USG senior management will discuss the Transaction. The conference call will be webcast on the USG website, www.usg.com, in the Investor Relations section, where the accompanying presentation materials can be found. The dial-in number for the conference call is 1-800-315-2944 in the United States and Canada (1-847-413-2929 for other international callers), and the pass code is 43285667. After the live webcast, a replay of the webcast will be available on the USG website. In addition, a telephonic replay of the call will be available until Wednesday, September 28, 2016. The replay dial-in number is 1-888-843-7419 (1-630-652-3042 for international callers), and the pass code is 43285667.

About ABC Supply

Headquartered in Beloit, Wisconsin, ABC Supply was founded by Ken and Diane Hendricks in 1982 and operates more than 600 locations in 49 states. The privately held company had sales of approximately $5.9 billion in 2015 and is a 10-time winner of the Gallup Great Workplace award (2007-2016). More information is available online at www.abcsupply.com.

About USG Corporation

USG Corporation is a manufacturer and distributor of innovative, high-performance building systems through its United States Gypsum Company, USG Interiors, LLC, and L&W Supply Corporation subsidiaries and its USG Boral Building Products joint venture. Headquartered in Chicago, USG's worldwide operations serve the commercial, residential, and repair and remodel construction markets, enabling our customers to build the outstanding spaces where people live, work and play. USG wall, ceiling, exterior sheathing, flooring underlayment and roofing systems provide leading-edge building solutions, while L&W Supply branch locations efficiently stock and deliver building materials throughout the United States. USG Boral Building Products is a leading plasterboard & ceilings joint venture across Asia, Australasia, and the Middle East. USG and its subsidiaries are proud sponsors of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams and the Canadian Olympic team. For additional information, visit www.usg.com.

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 related to management’s expectations about future conditions, including but not limited to, the expected completion date of the Transaction and the effect of the Transaction on USG and its financial results. Actual business, market or other conditions may differ materially from management’s expectations and, accordingly, may affect our sales and profitability or other results and liquidity. Any forward-looking statements represent our views only as of today and should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any subsequent date. Actual results may differ materially due to various other factors, including: the satisfaction of the conditions to closing, including receipt of regulatory approvals; ABC Supply and USG having the ability to consummate the Transaction; the impact on USG’s performance and financial results due to the disposition of L&W Supply, one of USG’s largest customers; and the expected timeline for completing the Transaction.. We assume no obligation to update any forward-looking information contained in this press release. Additional information concerning these and other risks and uncertainties affecting USG may be found in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the “Risk Factors” in our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K

Contacts

USG Corporation
Media
Sasha Bigda
(312) 436-6511
sbigda@usg.com
or
Investors
Ryan Flanagan
(312) 436-5304

Above is fromhttp://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160829005254/en/ABC-Supply-Purchase-LW-Supply-USG-Corporation

Boone County Health Board Meeting—August 29—12:00PM

 

The meeting lasted nearly three hours.   The following are the major actions of the board. All votes were unanimous voice votes.

Amanda Mehl was selected the new Administrator for the Health Department.  Eight other applicants apparently applied for the position based upon statements from the August 1 board meeting.  Amanda has worked for the BCHD for four and half years. She was employed as Director of Personal Health for a salary of $64,326 with insurance and health benefits costing $6,734.  The board’s motion hiring Ms. Mehl did not contain her new salary.  In an interview with Mr. Cox immediately following the vote, he stated that her base would be $72,000 and when the state approves her appointment (in approximately two weeks) the salary would increase to $85,000.  It is anticipated that benefits would be the same $6,734.

Moose Club, a Belvidere non-for-profit, will be reimbursed $2,485 for food permits that were incorrectly accessed. The VFW was reimbursed for a slightly large amount in the previous month.

It was announced that William Hatfield, Director of Environmental Health,officially applied for retirement and that will become effective December 30, 2016.

---Bill Pysson, personally in attendance at the open sections of the meeting.

Here are the salaries for the Boone County Health Department for 2016-7, all county employees’ salaries are available at: http://www.boonecountyil.org/sites/default/files/employee%20compensation%20FY%202016.pdf

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Rauner signs bill to allow McHenry, Lake counties to consolidate units of local government

 

 

August 25, 2016

By Mindy Ruckman

A new law signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Aug. 5 gives McHenry and Lake counties the authority to consolidate and dissolve units of local government within their boundaries, a power granted to DuPage County in 2013.

McHenry and Lake counties now have the power to cut costly units of government – which could result in lower tax bills for county residents, whose property taxes fund local-government operations.

On Aug. 5, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law House Bill 229, which gives McHenry and Lake counties the authority to consolidate and dissolve units of local government within their boundaries. This is an expansion of a 2013 law that only applied to DuPage County.

The 2013 law allowed the DuPage County Board to dissolve or consolidate units of government that are not cost-effective or do not provide a unique service to taxpayers. Since this law passed, DuPage County has eliminated four units of local government, and has consolidated the services of others. DuPage County’s success even gained recognition from Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti as her Task Force on Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates recommended the expansion of DuPage County’s authority to all counties in Illinois.

In fact, that is exactly what HB 229 was intended to do. However, the bill that was signed into law is much more modest in reach than the measure state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, originally introduced in the General Assembly. The provision that extended government-consolidation and -dissolution powers to all 102 Illinois counties was cut to include only McHenry and Lake counties. The bill was also was changed to exclude conservation districts from McHenry and Lake counties’ dissolution and consolidation powers.

Despite the watering down of the bill, this marks a step in the right direction for Illinois. McHenry and Lake counties now have the ability to get rid of wasteful and duplicative units of government and give much needed relief to residents suffering under the weight of some of the highest property taxes in the nation.

This is also a step toward reducing the number of local governments in the state. Illinois has over 7,000 units of government – more than any state in the nation. And many of these, such as townships, are duplicative layers and do not provide taxpayers with any unique services. For example, the city of Elgin, just to the south of McHenry and Lake counties, has at least 16 units of government that its residents fund through taxes.

Efforts to reduce unnecessary layers of government shouldn’t stop here. The General Assembly should give all Illinois counties the authority to consolidate and dissolve local-government units. Illinois taxpayers desperately need these cost-saving reforms.

Above is from:  https://www.illinoispolicy.org/rauner-signs-bill-to-allow-mchenry-lake-counties-to-consolidate-units-of-local-government/

Recent RR Star article had M. Newhouse running unopposed for Boone Co Board.—What about William Randall (I)?

 

It is corrected now but has damaged been done?

Muggy, sticky weather could bring bountiful fall harvest for Rockford area farmers

image

By Adam Poulisse
Staff writer

Posted Aug. 23, 2016 at 4:26 PM
Updated Aug 24, 2016 at 2:28 PM

ROCKFORD — Heat and humidity can be rough on us, but this year's weather conditions are ideal for Brent Pollard's soybean and corn crops.

"The crops, especially the corn, really like that warm, moist weather," said Pollard, 35, who serves on the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau board of directors. "It's been a pretty good growing year for corn."
Pollard also grows soybeans, corn, wheat, alfalfa and, for the first and last time this year, barley on his Centerville Road farm in Rockford Township.
"I think this is one of the best-looking soybean crops I've ever had on this farm," he said.
Because the weather has been so cooperative, bumper crops are expected across the region, generating an abundance of goods come fall.
But if the crop yield is high, prices will go down.
"Based on the market and the growing conditions, we're probably going to grow more bushels of corn and soy this year and still have less revenue than last year," Pollard said. "The price is going to go down (because) we have so much of one crop."
Early ear count indicates above-average corn production, unless severe weather or other agricultural issues occur, according to Nikki Keltner, program coordinator at the University of Illinois Extension for Jo Daviess, Stephenson and Winnebago counties.
"We look to be in great shape," she said. "A lot can happen between now and harvest."
Pollard is up to his chest, literally, in soybeans; the stalks are about 5 feet high now, and they're covered with pods.
"The old wives' tale for soybeans is August rain makes soybeans great," Pollard said. "We're getting the rain now for the pods to stay on the plant."
Marshall Newhouse, a Capron farmer, Boone County Board candidate and member of the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau, said he expects this to be "one of the top five years for corn" in terms of production.
"We've had rain when we need it for completing the kernel fill," Newhouse said. "We've not had tremendous storms with high winds or hail to damage plants. If you drive around the country, crops are looking exceptionally healthy."
However, the season didn't begin so fruitfully. Inconsistent warm weather mixed with cold spurts left some farmers worried they were in for a repeat of last year, when the season started strong but the crops petered out from lack of moisture.

"It's been a little bit of a roller coaster," said Jeff Heinsohn, a farmer based in Kirkland who also owns land in Rockford and Harvard. "We were wet and cool in May, then dry in June; we were 4 inches below rainfall. On the 21st of July we had a big rain event and it swept the area with 1 to 2 inches of rain, which made a huge difference in this crop."

A bushel of corn in the state cost $3.58 in April, $3.68 in May and $3.82 in June, according to the University of Illinois. A bushel of soybeans cost $9.04 in April, $9.76 in May and $10.20 in June.
At this rate, we're looking at somewhere in the $3 range for corn, and $10 for a bushel of soybeans, Heinsohn said.
"It'll all depend on how it all finishes out," he said.
Ang Daniels and her family raise cattle and grow corn, soybeans and hay on 1,800 acres in Garden Prairie.
"The humidity, that's good for the corn," Daniels said. "We've had moisture at the right time."
"As long as we don't have strong winds," she added. "I'd hate to have a tremendous storm come through."
But a good harvest is "a plus and a minus," Daniels said, because bumper crops affect the commodity price.
"If you got an influx, then it's going to affect your prices because there's no shortage for it," she said. "There's enough to fit demand."
Adam Poulisse: 815-987-1344; apoulisse@rrstar.com; @adampoulisse
By the numbers: Commodities price per bushel over the years
Soybeans
June 2012: $13.90
June 2013: $15.10
June 2014: $14.40
June 2015: $9.58
June 2016: $10.20
Corn
June 2012: $6.37
June 2013: $6.97
June 2014: $4.49
June 2015: $3.58

June 2016: $3.82

 

 

Here is paragraph containing the “running unopposed” that appeared in the printed version.  The story was a front page story with this error occurring on the continuation page, A4.

 

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Bill Hatfield’s View: Boone County works to treat all nonprofits fairly

  • My View: Boone County works to treat all nonprofits fairly

  • This opinion piece was printed recently in the Rockford Register Star and is available on line at:  http://www.rrstar.com/opinion/20160827/my-view-boone-county-works-to-treat-all-nonprofits-fairly/?Start=2
  • By Bill Hatfield

    Rockford Register Star

    By Bill Hatfield

    Posted Aug. 27, 2016 at 10:00 AM

  • Bill HatfieldBill Hatfield
  • By Bill Hatfield

  • Posted Aug. 27, 2016 at 10:00 AM

    In recent years a small group of vocal citizens has chosen to pressure the Boone County Board of Health, the Boone County Health Department and the County Board for continued special treatment at the expense of taxpayers and local businesses. They discovered that their not-for-profit status entitles them to the county code fee waiver for food permits.
    Fee waiver history: No waiver in the 1975 code. No waiver in the 1981 code. In 1987, a fee waiver was introduced for “nonprofit organizations such as: school districts, hospitals, day care centers and churches.” In 1995, the County Food Code was updated to comply with new state requirements.
    In that update the definition changed to “Bona fide not for profit organizations” based upon a conversation with the Illinois Department of Revenue that anyone having been issued an “E” tax number was an exclusively charitable organization and therefore “Bona fide not for profit.” The Board of Health then adopted the “E” tax number as the definition of an NFP but neglected to have it officially changed in the County Food Code.
    Instead of seeking consistency in the county code and calling for a fee waiver from all county fees, the group has concentrated on retaining the special treatment and is calling for elimination of the department. BCHD is an NFP organization that benefits Boone County citizens through a variety of services; many of which are either free or a reduced rate.
    Much revenue brought into the county through multiple state and federal grants can only be received by a “certified” local health department. Grants make up 44.9 percent of the department budget while the local taxpayer levy represents 24.3 percent. For every local tax dollar received, BCHD brings in $1.84 through grants, almost doubling the local tax contribution. A BCHD report is published annually, which gives a summary of services offered. At least 40,000 local citizens are impacted by BCHD services annually.
    Some false statements and wrong assumptions found in previous letters from the group are addressed below:
    BCHD wants to charge all nonprofits: BCHD seeks to remove special treatment enjoyed by some at a $20,000 annual expense to the local taxpayer. County code also waives food permit fees for NFPs located outside the county/state. The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is a bona fide NFP established in California. Local taxpayers will subsidize them and other such groups if they apply for a Boone County food permit.
    Fees, no rhyme/reason: Actual costs incurred by BCHD for evaluating, permitting, educating and inspecting food facilities determine fees. The low risk permit cost was $162.21 in 2015. This baseline cost is adjusted to cover additional inspections/education/time required for establishments posing a higher risk of food-borne illness to the public. Illinois Department of Public Health Food Sanitation Code “risk” criteria are used by all Illinois health departments to determine minimum food management certification, education and inspection requirements.
Health Department says, "We are in the red. We need more money. We need more fees, now!": BCHD has never made that statement.
2013 wage increases: In 2013, the Health Department was unable to hire replacements for necessary positions due to noncompetitive wages. Adjustments brought wages in line with surrounding counties for similar positions.
Cindy Frank's 55 percent pay increase (2013): Published budgets show the administrator was paid $78,250 in 2013 and $80,116 in 2014; less than a 2 percent increase.
Administrator salary 2017: Administrators must meet qualifications required by Illinois statute that limit the ability to find and hire persons approvable by IDPH for the position. $90,675 is a maximum number in a proposed budget.
Combining jobs/layoffs: The balanced 2017 budget combines three management positions into two. Both remaining positions will assume more workload, responsibility and hands-on client contact activities day to day. Several BCHD vacated positions remain unfilled.
Money from taxes: Taxpayer money currently subsidizes all NFP food permit/education/inspection costs due to the NFP fee waiver. NFPs pay all other fees in the county code, from $5 clerk fees to $2,500 annual liquor licenses.
Volunteer organizations give back: The value of NFPs is not at issue. The issue is that everyone choosing to conduct an activity that causes an expense to the taxpayer must reimburse for that expense or choose to conduct an activity that has no cost to the taxpayer.
88 percent salaries and benefits: According to the Bureau of Labor Standards Economic News release, June 9, formula, the 15 workers at the department should have cost $1,322,977 in salaries and benefits. The department paid $979,852.
$500,000 in untapped grant money: All grants have requirements that must be met prior to grant expiration. There is no such thing as “untapped grant money.”
Food-borne Illness: BCHD has been required to assist in numerous food-borne illness investigations that occurred elsewhere. The only illness originating in Boone County recently was an outbreak at a closed event where volunteers were used and no permit was required.
Overtime: Employees who work weekends and evening hours are compensated by taking the equivalent hours off during their normal work week.
Crusader Clinic: BCHD works very closely with Crusader Clinic. Crusader can only offer medical services to those persons who are enrolled with the clinic and can afford a copay. Those who don’t qualify are referred to the Health Department for medical services.
Bill Hatfield is director of Environmental Health for the Boone County Health Department

Native Americans fight No Dakota pipeline

 

With echoes of Wounded Knee, tribes mount prairie occupation to block North Dakota pipeline

Los Angeles TimesLos Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

William Yardley

 

Jon Don Ilone Reed, an Army veteran and member of South Dakota's Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, poses for a photo at an oil pipeline protest near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in southern North Dakota, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Reed said he fought in Iraq and is now fighting "fighting for our children and our water."© James MacPherson/AP Jon Don Ilone Reed, an Army veteran and member of South Dakota's Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, poses for a photo at an oil pipeline protest near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in southern North Dakota, Thursday… REPORTING FROM ALONG THE CANNONBALL RIVER, N.D. - Long before Lewis and Clark paddled by, Native Americans built homes here at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers, using the thick earth to guard against brutal winters and hard summer heat. They were called the Mandan people.

Now, Native Americans are living here again. They sleep in teepees and nylon tents. They ride horses and drive quad cabs. They string banners between trees and, when they can get a signal, they post messages with hashtags such as #ReZpectOurWater, #NoDakotaAccess and #NODAPL. For weeks, they have been arriving from the scattered patches of the United States where the government put their ancestors to protest what they say is one indignity too many in a history that has included extermination and exploitation.

It is called the Dakota Access oil pipeline and it could carry more than 400,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the Bakken region of western North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa to connect with an existing pipeline in Illinois.

The 1,100-mile pipeline, which is estimated to cost $3.7 billion, is nearly halfway complete. But construction on a section that would sink beneath the Missouri River, just north of the reservation of the Standing Rock Sioux, has been halted under orders from the sheriff of Morton County, Kyle Kirchmeier. He said protesters, nearly 30 of whom have been arrested in recent weeks, were creating safety issues.

Yet the protesters say they are creating something very different - new resistance against what they say is a seemingly endless number of pipelines, export terminals and rail lines that would transport fossil fuels across or near tribal reservations, risking pollution to air, water and land.

"Every time there's a project of this magnitude, so the nation can benefit, there's a cost," Dave Archambault, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, who was among those arrested, said in an interview. "That cost is born by tribal nations."

Archambault and other native leaders have been caught off guard by the support they have received. What began with a handful of natives establishing a prayer camp along the river this spring has now drawn international environmental groups and prompted Hollywood celebrities, including Susan Sarandon and Shailene Woodley, to join them, whether here or in a protest last week in Washington, D.C., or on social media.

"Inspired by the Standing Rock Sioux's efforts to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline," Leonardo DiCaprio posted on Twitter this week.

Lawyers from Earthjustice are representing the Standing Rock Sioux in a legal effort to stop construction of the pipeline. They claim that the Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Historic Preservation Act when it approved the project and that a more stringent environmental review should be done. They say the pipeline and its construction would damage ancestral sites of the Standing Rock Sioux and put the tribe's water supply at risk.

On Thursday, nearly three dozen environmental groups wrote to President Obama, who visited the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in 2014 with Michelle Obama, saying the Corps approved the project using a fast-track process, known as permit 12, that was inadequate given its size and the many sensitive areas it would cross.

The Corps of Engineers argued in court in Washington this week that the Standing Rock Sioux and other parties had ample time to express concerns during a review process and that the pipeline was properly approved. Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas company building it, says the pipeline will increase the nation's energy independence and that it is a safer means of transport than rail.

The judge over seeing the case, James A. Boasberg of United States District Court, said this week that he will rule no later than Sept. 9 on a request by the Standing Rock Sioux to stop construction and reconsider permits the project has received.

The pipeline has met resistance elsewhere along its route, including from farmers in Iowa concerned about soil damage and property owners whose land is being taken by eminent domain. But nothing compares to what has taken hold here between the rivers.

Nantinki Young, who goes by Tink, is a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe from South Dakota; she runs the cook shack here. Winona, who did not give her last name, is Penobscot. She left Maine on Monday and drove 2,100 miles to put together a recycling program for the hundreds of new residents of the protest camp.

And then there is Clyde Bellecourt. He is Ojibwe. He came from Minnesota, but may be better associated with Wounded Knee, S.D. Not the massacre in 1890, but the standoff in 1973, when the group he helped found, the American Indian Movement, suddenly became a household name, the image of Indian activism.

He is 80 now. Sitting in a folding chair not far from the Buick where he keeps copies of a flyer promoting his new memoir, he likes what he sees.

"My life is almost over, but there's fresh energy here," he said. "Save the children - that's what this is all about."

Protesters have vowed to stay at least until Judge Boasberg rules and potentially much longer. Monitors from Amnesty International have arrived. An employee of the federal Indian Health Service established a first aid tent. Vans carpooled people to showers.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux formed Spirit Resistance Radio, at 87.9 FM, to broadcast updates. An Art Market opened to sell handmade crafts. There was talk, lighthearted for now, about establishing a school that would teach children at the camp site in native languages.

The Morton County Sheriff's office has blocked one of the main routes to the camp from Bismarck, the state capital, forcing some protesters to drive a lengthier route to the site. Law enforcement is planning to escort school buses that travel through the area, though protesters say they want nothing but peace and prayers.

People have been practicing nonviolent direct action tactics, preparing to try to stop construction should it start again. A lawyer from Colorado working pro bono asked protesters to fill out forms "if you think that you have a clean record and you want to be arrestable."

Jasilyn Charger, 20, is among a group of young natives who ran together from North Dakota to Washington to protest the pipeline. She remembers the early days of the protest, when just a handful of people prayed by the river.

"When we started this, people thought we were crazy," she said. "But look at where we are today."

Don Cuny, 65, was among those impressed with how robust the camp had become. Like Bellecourt, he was at Wounded Knee when natives led a 71-day standoff in the town on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. That effort was driven in part by a goal to rewrite treaties with the government.

"This kind of reminds me of back in Wounded Knee," said Cuny, who goes by Cuny Dog. "Except that I'm gaining weight. At Wounded Knee, I lost weight."

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Koch Brothers spend big in Indiana races

 

Group spending nearly $4 million on anti-Bayh ads

WASHINGTON — A group with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is spending nearly $4 million on fall ads to try to prevent Evan Bayh from taking back his old Senate seat.

That’s on top of the $1 million the Senate Leadership Fund has already spent on the general election race, and the roughly $800,000 the group spent to help Rep. Todd Young win the GOP primary.

The Senate Leadership Fund is a super PAC created to help Republicans keep control of the Senate.

The group on Friday placed $960,000 in ads each week for the last three weeks of September and the first week of October.

The ads are running statewide — some on broadcast TV and some only on cable channels.

Indiana has already seen the fourth-highest amount of general election ads for a Senate race through mid-August, according to an independent report released Wednesday.

Bayh’s side paid for $3 million of those ads, and Young or his backers paid for $2.1 million.

That calculation from the Wesleyan Media Project report was based on data provided by Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks broadcast television, national network and national cable television advertising.

INDIANAPOLIS STAR

Indiana's Senate, governor races among tops in nation for political ads

Independent expenditure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show the campaign arm of Senate Republicans, the National Republican Senatorial Committee,  has spent $664,718 on ads against the former governor and senator.

Freedom Partners Action Fund, the super PAC associated with the political network overseen by brothers Charles and David Koch, has spent more than $1 million on television and digital ads against Bayh.

Americans for Prosperity, which also is backed by the Koch brothers, has spent more than $92,000 on phone banks and other canvassing expenses. The group also is holding events around the state to talk about Bayh’s voting record.

The campaign arm of Senate Democrats has spent more than $1 million on ads attacking Young.

National political handicappers rate Indiana’s Senate seat, which is being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Dan Coats, as one of the most likely to switch political parties.

The outcome will help determine which party controls the Senate.

Spending by outside groups in all Senate races is at an all-time high, according to the Wesleyan Media Project. Outside spending made up just less than half of all airings through mid-August, although the share in Indiana was just less than 20 percent.

Contact Maureen Groppe at mgroppe@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mgroppe.

Above is from:  http://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/behind-closed-doors/2016/08/26/group-spending-nearly-1-million-anti-bayh-ads/89407142/

Mainstream request extension for Canadian Project

Mainstream Renewable Power has requested a two-year extension for construction of the 63MW Windy Point wind farm in Alberta.

The developer told regulators the project, which was initially approved in 2012 and has already received two extensions, could complete construction by 30 September 2018.

The Alberta Utilities Commission has granted an interim extension while it reviews the request.

“Historically low power pool prices over the past several years has prevented Windy Point, and many other proposed wind farm developments, from obtaining commercial project financing for the construction of the project,” said Mainstream.

Alberta is developing and implementing a plan to procure new renewable energy, which is expected to launch later this year.

“Windy Point is expecting to participate in the renewable energy program,” said the developer.

Mainstream also plans to submit an application to change the turbine model. The permit authorizes construction of 21 Siemens 3MW turbines at Windy Point, about 15 kilometers northeast of Pincher Creek.

If all changes are approved, Mainstream expects to start construction in late 2017.

The Alberta Electric System Operator has approved a revised in-service date of 1 September 2018.

Above is from:  http://renews.biz/103916/mainstream-eyes-alberta-overtime/

Governor Rauner signs life insurance bill

Rauner signs life insurance bill

Friday, Aug 26, 2016

* Press release…

Governor Bruce Rauner and Anne Melissa Dowling, Acting Director of the Illinois Dept. of Insurance, today announced two actions taken by the administration to help Illinoisans find lost life insurance money through the launch of the free Life Policy Locator Service and signing House Bill 4633 into law.

“I applaud Director Dowling and her staff for their efforts to make it easier for Illinoisans to access life insurance policy information, ensuring they can more quickly receive the benefits they are owed,” said Governor Rauner. “Updating our antiquated technology to increase employee efficiency and provide better customer service to the taxpayers that interact with state government has been one of my top priorities since coming into office, and our administration will continue to pursue efforts like the Life Policy Locator Service to bring state government into the 21st Century.”

The Life Policy Locator Service through the Dept. of Insurance (DOI) helps executors, legal representatives, or members of the deceased person’s immediate family find a life insurance policy or annuity contract left by a deceased loved one and serves to bridge the gap between insurance companies and Illinois citizens who think they may be listed as a beneficiary.

“Many times finding life insurance policies can be difficult and time consuming after a loved one’s death,” said Dowling. “But with this new free service, consumers can request help from the Illinois Department of Insurance to simplify the process of locating lost life insurance policies. This search service eliminates the confusion of trying to locate missing life insurance policies or annuity contracts and helps get those benefits to the intended beneficiary.”

After the necessary information is submitted, DOI will contact all state-licensed life insurance companies asking them to search their records for any life insurance policies or annuity contracts insuring the decedent. If a policy is found, that insurance company will contact the beneficiary to complete the claim.

In addition, today Governor Rauner signed House Bill 4633 into law. The legislation creates the Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act and requires insurers to run an initial, and then semi-annual, check against the Death Master File to determine if an insured has passed away. Insurers will be allowed to access the Life Policy Locator to help streamline the process and comply with the new law.

Finally, Governor Rauner and Director Dowling called on the General Assembly and the Treasurer to stop contingency arrangements with private finder companies. The Treasurer’s Office has paid these companies millions of dollars over the past several years, funds which would otherwise be put towards the pension systems, to locate unclaimed life insurance policies. With the launch of the free Life Policy Locator Service and the enactment of HB 4633, these arrangements should no longer be necessary. The savings will result in millions of dollars for the pension funds.

Illinoisans can learn more about the Lost Life Policy Locator Service, by visiting the DOI website at www.insurance.illinois.gov.

HB4633 is effective January 1, 2017.

Above is from:  http://capitolfax.com/2016/08/26/rauner-signs-life-insurance-bill/

Fiat Chrysler employees at Belvidere plant laid off for one week following parts shortage

  • By Adam Poulisse
    Staff writer

    Posted Aug. 27, 2016 at 12:01 AM

    BELVIDERE — About 3,800 workers at the Fiat Chrysler plant will be laid off for one week beginning Monday due to a shortage of parts because an Ontario-based supplier was damaged by a tornado.
    The supplier is unable to manufacture gas tanks for vehicles until the damage is cleaned up. As a result, assembly in Belvidere is temporarily put on pause, according to George Welitschinsky, president of United Auto Workers Local 1268.
    "They got hit hard and can't recoup for another week," he said. "It's mother nature, we can't control it. It creeped up on us."
    Those affected will retain their benefits for the week they are off, Welitschinsky said. About 2,000 parts suppliers near the Belvidere plant will also be laid off for the week, Welitschinsky said.
    Employees will receive unemployment plus a subpayment, which adds up to about 95 percent of a worker's pay. Employees are set to return to work on Sept. 6, the day after Labor Day, according to Welitschinsky.
    "It's only going to be a week," he said. "We can't afford a second week."
    A tornado ripped through parts of Windsor this week, ripping roofs off buildings and tearing down power lines. Tornadoes also caused significant damage in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.
    Adam Poulisse: 815-987-1344; apoulisse@rrstar.com; @adampoulisse
  • Above is fromhttp://www.rrstar.com/news/20160827/fiat-chrysler-employees-at-belvidere-plant-laid-off-for-one-week-following-parts-shortage

Status of Great Lakes Basin RR

image

Great Lakes Basin Transportation will not meet a Monday deadline for filing an alternate route for its proposed freight train line from Milton, Wis., into LaPorte County.

"We are going to file a request for an extension on Monday," said Frank Patton, founder and managing partner of GLBT, on Friday, declining to provide further details. "It should be public shortly thereafter."

In related news, a local lawmaker said he will spearhead updating the state's eminent domain laws related to railroads to make it more difficult for business interests to take privately owned land for their own profit.

The federal Surface Transportation Board, which held public meetings on the 278-mile proposal in the spring, set an Aug. 29 deadline for GLBT to offer an alternate route to the one that cuts through southern Lake and Porter counties.

"There is no explanation in the information GLBT has provided to date to explain whether GLBT considered other potential alignments and variations and why they might have been rejected," Victoria Rutson, director of the Office of Environmental Analysis, wrote in a July 5 letter to one of GLBT's attorneys.

The Office of Environmental Analysis will compile the more than 3,900 comments submitted online, as well as those made during the spring meetings, for an environmental impact statement on the proposal. That is expected to take a few years.

Earlier in the week, Patton indicated via email that GLBT planned to meet the Monday deadline. It was not immediately clear Friday what might have changed.

A proposal to build the Great Lakes Basin Transportation's freight rail line through south Lake and Porter counties is creating uncertainty for government, schools and real estate professionals.

"For us it's kind of a really large guessing game as far as forward planning," Lowell Town Council president...

A proposal to build the Great Lakes Basin Transportation's freight rail line through south Lake and Porter counties is creating uncertainty for government, schools and real estate professionals.

"For us it's kind of a really large guessing game as far as forward planning," Lowell Town Council president...

(Amy Lavalley and Carrie Napoleon)

GLBT's $8 billion privately funded proposal, would be the largest new rail line in recent times and is meant to provide a bypass for Chicago's congested rail yard and take trucks off the road. The route will have the capacity for up to 110 trains a day.

Two of the six Class I railroads expected to be served by the freight line have publicly stated they will not participate; the remaining four appear uncommitted to the project.

Several people, including a representative with the opposition group Residents Against the Invasion of Land by Eminent Domain, or RAILED, have submitted alternate routes for consideration to the STB.

"There have already been some good alternative routes submitted," said Kathleen Honl, one of RAILED's organizers, adding she wasn't surprised Patton would not meet the deadline. "Though I would doubt he would kill the project altogether, maybe he is realizing that his original route isn't the best choice. Of course, this is speculation."

Federal agency begins look at proposed freight line

Federal agency begins look at proposed freight line

Amy Lavalley

The fate of a proposed freight train line with a route that would cut through southern Lake and Porter counties is in the hands of the three-person Surface Transportation Board.

The federal agency will determine whether Great Lakes Basin Transportation's proposal for a 278-mile rail line from Milton,...

The fate of a proposed freight train line with a route that would cut through southern Lake and Porter counties is in the hands of the three-person Surface Transportation Board.

The federal agency will determine whether Great Lakes Basin Transportation's proposal for a 278-mile rail line from Milton,...

(Amy Lavalley)

A document on the STB website outlines what was discussed in an Aug. 5 teleconference between GLBT representatives, their attorneys, and representatives from the Office of Environmental Analysis.

"GLBT indicated that the general location of their proposed route was designed as a balance between the closer and more distant routes (from Chicago)… (and) included design objectives to avoid population centers, connect with other railroads, and avoid wetlands."

The document notes that the group discussed submissions on the STB website that identify alternate route, and "GLBT indicated that it is reviewing scoping comments and considering them."

GLBT indicated during the teleconference "that it will prepare a robust narrative" on how it screened route alternatives and variations. According to the document, the OEA will independently review the information GLBT submits.

Meanwhile, State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, chairman of the House of Representative's Roads and Transportation Committee, said he will work to update the statutes on railroad eminent domain, some of which date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.

"It's the days when railroads were just beginning to have an impact on the nation. It appears to be quite liberal by modern standards," he said.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling several years ago on an eminent domain case on the East Coast led many states to update their related statutes, he said, but not those regarding railroads.

"We should not take people's land or property unless there's a compelling public interest, and a compelling public interest is not that someone makes a profit," he said.

The move was prompted by media reports about GLBT's plans to take land through eminent domain if its proposal were to move forward, he said, as well as requests by the Porter County Board of Commissioners to take a look at the statutes.

"This is an issue whether (the GLBT plan) exists or not. It needs to be done. I've been talking to the big railroads and they see the need," he said.

Amy Lavalley is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

Above is from:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/news/ct-ptb-glbt-route-deadline-st-0827-20160826-story.html

Friday, August 26, 2016

Illinois Pension Costs

Illinois pension fund lowers investment rate, hikes state payment

August 26, 2016

(Adds TRS statement, Rauner spokesman's comments)

CHICAGO, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Illinois faces a big increase in its future pension contributions after the state's largest public retirement system on Friday lowered its assumed investment rate of return to 7 percent from 7.5 percent.

The vote by the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) board to lower the rate will trigger an increase in the state's fiscal 2018 payment, according to a statement from the retirement system. The board acted on recommendations from its actuarial consultant.

For fiscal 2017, the lowered rate would have increased the state's contribution to TRS by an estimated $421 million to $4.3 billion, the statement said.

Top officials in Republican Governor Bruce Rauner's administration had tried to head off the vote, warning of a "devastating impact" on the cash-strapped state's ability to fund social services and education.

An impasse between Rauner and Democrats who control the legislature left the nation's fifth-largest state without a full fiscal 2016 budget and only a six-month fiscal 2017 spending plan that is projected to result in a record-setting $7.8 billion funding gap.

"Illinois taxpayers including our social service providers and small business owners were just handed a bill for nearly a half-billion dollars," Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said in a statement.

He added that "questions remain about the legality of today's action," alluding to concerns raised by Rauner's deputy general counsel that TRS' revised meeting agenda containing the rate change as a voting measure did not comply with the state's open meetings act's 48-hour posting requirement.

TRS Executive Director Dick Ingram disputed there was any violation. He said the board has a fiduciary obligation to do "what is best for the financial sustainability" of the fund and that its action to lower the rate can be overridden by the Illinois Legislature.

"While some seem to think otherwise, nothing we are considering today is precipitate or rushed," Ingram told the board before the vote.

The rate cut was the third by TRS since 2012 and Ingram said he expected the board to consider yet another one in the spring.

Illinois' total fiscal 2017 pension payment to its five retirement systems was pegged at $7.9 billion, up from $7.617 billion in fiscal 2016 and $6.9 billion in fiscal 2015, according to a March bipartisan legislative commission report.

Illinois' unfunded pension liability stood at $111 billion at the end of fiscal 2015, with TRS accounting for more than 55 percent of that gap. The funded ratio was a weak 41.9 percent.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog and Dave McKinney; editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Matthew Lewis)

Above is from:  http://finance.yahoo.com/news/illinois-pension-fund-lowers-investment-220729543.html;_ylt=A0LEVvSo7cBXhgsArA0PxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw--

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bodine’s referendum is on the ballot

 

See the county board’s vote at:  http://boonecountywatchdog.blogspot.com/2016/08/anti-corruption-referendum-language-on.html

 

 

State Representative candidate works to get Illinois Anti-Corruption Act on November ballot

Posted by RVPEditor / In Belvidere Daily Republican, Public Meetings

Illinois Anti Corruption Act

By Kathryn Menue

EDITOR

Illinois State Representative candidate for the 69th District, Angelique Bodine, has made it her mission to get the Illinois Anti-Corruption Act on the ballot for the November election.

Bodine began her quest on Feb. 9 at the Boone County Finance, Taxation, and Salaries Committee meeting. From there, Bodine has spoken with board members and has attended other Boone County board meetings to discuss the same issue.

“You can see how important this is to me, as I have spoken to you about this on numerous occasions, now,” Bodine said at the Monday, July 11 Boone County Administrative and Legislative meeting.

“This is not only important to me; it’s also a very important issue to most of the other members of the community. The reason it’s so important is because constituents are very concerned about corruption, specifically the corrupting influence of money on our politics. It’s very important for elected officials to be willing to effectively address the issues of corruption within our government.”

Bodine feels as though the Illinois Anti-Corruption Act will be a good start to help Illinois weed out corruption from all political bodies.

If put on the ballot, voters would get to vote yes or no on the Illinois Anti-Corruption Act, which reads: “Do you support removing the corrupting influence of money on our political system by prohibiting politicians from taking campaign money from industries they regulate; increasing transparency for campaign funding; empowers all voters through a tax rebate voucher to contribute to the candidates they support; prohibiting representatives and senior staff from all lobbying activity for five years once they leave office; and placing limits on super PACs.”

If citizens vote ‘yes’ come Election Day, then they are voting in favor of “removing” corruptive influences from government. If citizens vote ‘no,’ then they are voting for no change to policies.

Winnebago and DeKalb Counties already passed this act, and McHenry County is working to get the act on their November ballot.

“Five out of six voters in our neighboring counties (Winnebago and DeKalb) support this initiative. I have seen statistics that it passed with an overwhelming 87 percent approval in both counties, and a whopping 89 percent in Genoa Township. A community that is very similar to Belvidere,” Bodine said. “McHenry County is also moving toward putting this on their ballot for the November election, as well. I, for one, don’t want to see Boone County be the last one in our region on this.”

Bodine thinks it is about time that Boone County stepped up with the other counties to fight corruption. A good way to move forward is to put the Illinois Anti-Corruption Act on the ballot for the November election, so citizens can have the right to voice their opinions on the matter.

“According to a new poll conducted by the Paul Simon Institute [source at: WBBM on Sunday, July 10], 82 percent of voters think Illinois is headed in the wrong direction,” Bodine said.

At the Administrative and Legislative meeting on July 11, Bodine advocated to the board that they make the right decision.

“Please do right by the constituents and put this on the ballot,” Bodine said.

She said many of the board members were supportive of the initiative and that the community is one step closer to having the Illinois Anti-Corruption Act on the ballot.

“Several people on the committee stated that they were in favor of the question going onto the ballot and were willing to approve it then,” Bodine said.

However, one of the board members “voiced” his “apprehension” over the initiative.

The board moved the initiative to their August committee meeting where they will vote on whether or not to send the Illinois Anti-Corruption Act proposal to the regular August meeting.

“That’s where the board will decide whether or not to put it onto the ballot,” Bodine said.

BDR coverage of county referendum

Countywide vote on board chairman getting more discussion

Posted by RVPEditor / In Belvidere Daily Republican, Public Meetings

WomanMeeting

By Bob Balgemann

REPORTER

The chairman of the Boone County Board now is elected each year from among sitting board members. The position is good for one year and a new chair is chosen each December.

Currently, board member Cathy Ward would like a referendum asking voters if they believe future board chairs should be elected countywide.

No decision is expected to be made in time for the question to be placed on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. The issue was discussed at the Aug. 1 meeting of the administrative and legislative committee, chaired by District I board member Sherry Giesecke.

This is one of seven standing committees of the county board and its membership consists of five county board members.

Here are some of the thoughts offered on Aug. 1:

Adding a 13th person to the board is not a good idea.

Voters elected the 12 board members to represent them and that includes deciding a new board chairman.

The size of the current county board should be reduced, not increased.

Why not let social media run the county?

Having the board chair elected county-wide would be changing the board to a different form of government.

In a note to committee Chairperson Giesecke, board member Ward said she had been told by State’s Attorney Michelle Courier that the board could approve having such a referendum placed on the ballot.

Ultimately, the committee decided much more discussion was needed before a recommendation – if one was agreed upon – the recommendation could be referred to the full board for consideration.

More talk is expected at the September meeting.

Also at the Aug. 1 meeting, the committee approved a resolution in support of an advisory referendum concerning “anti-corruption reform.” The board was expected to consider the resolution at its Aug. 17 meeting.

The referendum is being proposed by the group, “Represent US,” and would read:

“Do you support reducing the corrupting influence of money on our political system by prohibiting politicians from taking campaign money from the special interests they regulate; increasing transparency for campaign funding; empowering all voters through a tax rebate voucher to contribute to the candidates they support; prohibiting representatives and senior staff from lobbying activity for five years after they leave office; and placing limits on Super PAC-campaign coordination?”

The measure is being advanced locally by Angelique Bodine of Candlewick Lake, a Democratic candidate for the State House District 69 seat currently held by State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford. District 69 includes the vast majority of Boone County.

A second resolution, which had not been drafted as of Aug. 1, would be in support of term limits and redistricting reform at the state and federal levels. This is being supported by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who maintains it has bipartisan backing in Springfield.

The local referendum, should it get on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, would be advisory in nature.

ANTI-CORRUPTION REFERENDUM LANGUAGE ON NOVEMBER BALLOT—

 

Image may contain: text

 

ANTI-CORRUPTION REFERENDUM LANGUAGE ON NOVEMBER BALLOT

Thanks to Mary S. Steurer, Boone County Clerk and Recorder for kindly providing the language that will appear on the November ballot here in Boone County. The referendum was recently approved by the Boone County Board to be placed on the ballot.

Here is how your Boone County Board members voted.

Voting yes were Jeff Carlisle, Denny Ellingson, Ken Freeman, Sherry Giesecke, Ray Larson, Jessica Muellner and Cathy Ward.

Voting no were Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg, Karl Johnson, Cory Lind and Brad Stark.

Board member Sherry Branson was absent.

Above is from The Rhubarb, FACEBOOK

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Koch Network Building A Senate Wall Against Trump

Conservative donor David Koch in a 2013 file photo. The political network he and his brother, Charles, have created is not backing Donald Trump's presidential bid this year. (AP)<?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = "[default] http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" NS = "http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" />closemore

Conservative donor David Koch in a 2013 file photo. The political network he and his brother, Charles, have created is not backing Donald Trump's presidential bid this year. (AP)

Four years after Charles and David Koch's political network opened its bank accounts to promote Republican nominee Mitt Romney, it's now spending millions to save the Republicans' Senate majority from their presidential candidate.

This year's Senate ads will focus on issues involving the candidates, not national issues, said James Davis, spokesman for Freedom Partners Action Fund, a superPAC that is doing most of the network's TV ads.

Most of the ads deal with "cronyism and corporate welfare, and/or spending and government over-regulation," Davis told NPR in an interview. "What we see is that there's not a national issue per se that is mobilizing voters or that voters are encouraged or discouraged about."

This strategy marks a reversal from 2012, when Koch ads hammered at Obamacare and other Washington controversies. The network spent $78 million on general-election presidential advertising, according to the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks political advertising.

The Koch network accounted for 92 percent of the spending by all conservative outside groups in the Obama-Romney fall campaign.

This time around, the network isn't doing anything to help Trump.

In Pennsylvania, where first-term Sen. Pat Toomey is now trailing Democrat Katie McGinty, Koch groups have spent at least $3.5 million, or half of the total conservative spending, according to federal records analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The latest ad alleges cronyism, one of the elements listed by Davis. McGinty this week asked if Toomey would trust Trump with the nation's nuclear codes, a popular Democratic theme.

That's how the Democrats are playing it — making sure to keep Trump in the debate. Sadie Weiner, spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said the Kochs' Trump-free strategy won't work.

"The Republican senators who they're advertising for and spending tens of millions of dollars for, are pretty much unanimously standing with Donald Trump," she said.

Most of those endorsements have been pretty tepid, but still warmer than the relationship between Trump and the Koch brothers.

Trump tweeted a year ago that his primary rivals might be Koch "puppets."

Charles Koch, interviewed by ABC News in April, could hardly have sounded more appalled by Trump's idea to make Muslims register with the government.

"That's reminiscent of Nazi Germany. I mean, that's monstrous," he said.

But the Koch network wouldn't go with Hillary Clinton

"We do not like Ms. Clinton's record," said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity. "Clearly, on the issues that matter to us, she's just a disaster."

Americans for Prosperity is the network's main organization for ground operations. Phillips said it has about 700 paid staff in 35 states, plus volunteers.

Two other groups are also working in Senate races: The Libre Initiative, focusing on Latino voters, and Concerned Veterans for America.

"We think we can make the biggest difference by focusing very specifically on the issue differences between these Senate candidates," Phillips said.

"The presidential race will absolutely buffet and have an impact on these Senate races. We're just not going to get involved in it."

Above is from:  http://www.wbur.org/npr/490536965/koch-network-building-a-senate-wall-against-trump

Koch brothers investing in state-level Wisconsin lawmakers

 

August 20, 2016

by Louis Weisberg

After apparently shrugging off the 2016 presidential election, Charles and David Koch are focusing their campaign dollars further down the ballot to maintain control over state governments, according to the Center for Media and Democracy;

CMD intern David Armiak reported that the billionaire brothers, who are the bedrock of the modern Republican Party, have already spent $400 million this year on influencing campaigns around the nation. Some of that money is believed to have gone to Verona Swanigan’s failed campaign to oust Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

Chisholm and other district attorneys conducted a “John Doe” probe of Koch-backed groups they suspected of illegally coordinating their campaign activities with those of Gov. Scott Walker during his recall race. Justices who’ve received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from those same Koch-backed groups ruled unconstitutional the law under which the probe was conducted. They ordered the case closed and, in what many called an unprecedented move, they ordered the files destroyed.

The DAs appealed the case the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to hear it.

As this election year heats up, Wisconsin is once again in the Koch brothers’ sites.

Below are candidates for state office — all Republicans —  in whom the industrialist titans have already invested this year, Amiak's research revealed.

  • Joel Kitchens (WI-01) is receiving campaign help from Americans for Prosperity’s door-to-door operation. Kitchens also received $500 from KochPAC to Joel Kitchens for Assembly.
  • AndrĂ© Jacque (WI-02) received $500 from KochPAC to his Jacque for Assembly.
  • Majority Leader Rep. Jim Steineke (WI-05) received $500 from KochPAC to his Steineke for Assembly.
  • Gary Tauchen (WI-06) received $500 from KochPAC to Tauchen for Assembly.
  • Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Daniel Knodl (WI-24) received $500 from KochPAC to Knodl Assembly 24.
  • Mark Born (WI-39) received $500 from KochPAC to Born For Assembly
  • Michael Schraa (WI-53) received $500 from KochPAC to Michael Schraa for Assembly.
  • Mike Rohrkaste (WI-55) received $500 from KochPAC to Rohrkaste for Assembly.
  • Speaker of the House Rep. Robin Vos (WI-63) received $500 from KochPAC to his Friends & Neighbors of Robin Vos.
  • John Spiros (WI-86) received $500 from KochPAC to Spiros for Assembly.
  • John Macco (WI-88) received $500 from KochPAC to Friends of John Macco.
  • John Nygren (WI-89) received $500 from KochPAC to Taxpayers for Nygren.
  • Above is from:  http://wisconsingazette.com/2016/08/20/koch-brothers-investing-in-state-level-wisconsin-lawmakers/

NLRB rules that grad students are employees, opens door to unionization

In a major decision that opens the door for graduate students across the country to unionize, the National Labor Relations Board ruled Tuesday that grad students who work as teaching and research assistants are employees covered by federal labor laws.

The 3-1 decision — which stems from a petition filed by a group of graduate students at Columbia University in New York who wished to join the United Auto Workers union — reverses a 2004 decision involving Rhode Island's Brown University that had held that grad students are not employees because they are primarily students.

The majority wrote that the Brown decision "deprived an entire category of workers of the protections of the (National Labor Relations) Act without a convincing justification."

The decision states: "The Board has the statutory authority to treat student assistants as statutory employees, where they perform work, at the direction of the university, for which they are compensated. Statutory coverage is permitted by virtue of an employment relationship; it is not foreclosed by the existence of some other, additional relationship that the Act does not reach."

Above is from:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-nlrb-grad-students-unionize-0824-biz-20160823-story.html

Pink Tax to end in 2017

 

ILLINOIS -- A big break for women in the state. Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill eliminating the tax on feminine hygiene products starting in January.

The decision makes Illinois the third state to do away with the sale tax, following in the footsteps of New York and Connecticut. 

Lawmakers and support groups say women should not pay a tax on a necessary product which is only used by them.

Women were paying more than 6% for sanitary napkins and tampons. California's state assembly is close to sending a plan to its governor and eleven other states proposed legislation this year.

Above is from:  http://www.illinoishomepage.net/news/capitol-news/rauner-approves-pink-tax

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Michigan Wind Farm Project

 

Wind turbines: The money and the myths

Detroit Free Press 8 hours ago

When Exelon approached Dean Kritzman about leasing his land for the energy company’s most recent wind turbine project, Kritzman didn’t hesitate to say yes. He saw it as a win-win-win situation: the turbine would produce renewable energy, Sanilac County would reap tax revenue benefits and he would get a personal lease payment each year. Kritzman, 81, of Marion Township has lived on his land for 55 years and doesn’t mind seeing the three turbines that are already about four miles from his home every day. “I will tell you, you can see those turbines from three to four miles away,” Kritzman said. “I can look out and see ones from my home on a clear day and see if they are turning.” While some folks ...

Read more:   http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2016/08/20/michigan-wind-turbines-money-and-myths/89041958/

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mainstream Renewable’s activities in Chile & Africa

Mainstream Renewable Power's international expansion plans received a major boost today as it emerged as one of the biggest winner in Chile's latest clean energy auction, securing contracts to build almost 1GW of new wind power capacity.

The company has been awarded seven 20-year contracts totalling 986MW of capacity that are expected to mobilise $1.65bn of new wind energy investment.

The deals formed the centrepiece of the largest and most competitive clean energy auction in Chile's history, with the tender process seven times oversubscribed as 84 companies submitted 85,000GWh of bids for just over 12,000GWh of available power.

The company said the round marks the first time Mainstream has participated independently in a Chilean bid and all projects are 100 per cent owned by the Ireland-based developer.

The move further cements Mainstream's presence in the Chilean market, where it has led the development of over 2GW of wind and solar capacity since 2009. In addition, the company is poised to complete 300MW of new wind projects next year through a joint venture with Actis after securing contracts in last year's auction.

Mainstream's chief executive, Eddie O'Connor, welcomed the latest contract wins. "Today's win underpins Mainstream's standing as the leading independent renewable energy company in high-growth emerging energy markets," he said. "We had the industry foresight to take early positions in Chile and South Africa and we are rolling out similar plans across Africa, Central America and Asia. We look forward to developing these projects to the highest standard to deliver competitive priced energy into the Chilean system from 2021."

He added that he would be meeting with the CEOs of the main wind turbine manufacturers in the coming months to discuss the next generation of turbines required for the projects.

He also argued the latest auction provided further evidence of the growing cost competitiveness of renewable energy around the world. "Around the world, renewable energy is winning on price and on delivery," he said. "We continue to find innovative ways to fund our projects as we add to our exciting emerging markets project pipeline - just like the recently announced $117.5m equity funding for our African platform, which included investors such as the IFC and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund."

  • Above is from: 

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2468225/mainstream-renewable-power-wins-big-in-chilean-energy-auction

Wednesday’s Boone County Board meeting

  See the update on several of the votes.

NEWS ALERT-Posted this am by Boone County Board member Cathy Ward on FACEBOOK. Thank you Cathy Ward for keeping us all informed!

"BOONE COUNTY BOARD HIGHLIGHTS - No decisions yet on the use of Public Safety Sales Tax money, no decision on Fees for Not-for-Profit groups - more to come soon on both important issues - but the board did vote to put stop signs on Caledonia Road at the Dawson Lake Road intersection. More than 250 people living in that area had asked the roads committee for six months to reduce the speed or put up stop signs to slow down traffic on what many consider a speedway. The board also approved putting an anti-corruption referendum on the November ballot and a resolution for term limits. Much debate on several issues. Love to see so many, many people coming to our meetings to see politics in action. What amazes me is that some board members seem to believe that once they are elected, their opinions must be right because they were elected. Amazing. What I don't like from some is arrogance, rudeness and total disdain for the people who elected us - and I'm so glad so many people now see this. Just heard a great statement. 'Those who elected us are our employers. Those we serve are our customers.' All should remember that."

 

Image result for cathy ward + boone county

UPDATE:·

HOW BOONE COUNTY BOARD VOTED - Several of you fb friends and lots of Boone County friends asked about the vote last week. Double checked with Boone County Clerk Mary Steuer today.

Board members : Chair Bob Walberg, and members Sherry Giesecke , Karl Johnson, and Brad Stark voted no on a stop sign on Dawson Lake and Caledonia Road.

250 people from the area had signed petitions asking us to help slow down motorists for months. .

Those voting yes were Jeff Carlisle, Denny Ellingson, Ken Freeman, Ray Larson, Cory Lind, Jessica Muellner and me.

When asked by dozens to put an anti-corruption referendum on the ballot, Board chair Bob Walberg, Karl Johnson, Cory Lind and Brad Stark voted no. Interesting.

Those voting yes were Jeff Carlisle, Denny Ellingson, Ken Freeman, Sherry Giesecke, Ray Larson, Jessica Muellner and me.

Board member Sherry Branson was absent.

Lots of challenging issues coming up. I'll keep you posted.

Cathy Ward

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Candlewick Lake drinking water concerns

Residents say they want to be reimbursed for dirty water, damages to homes

 

By Emily Waldron | ewaldron@wtvo.com

Published 08/16 2016 10:28PM

Updated 08/17 2016 08:59AM

 

POPLAR GROVE

During a board meeting Tuesday night, Candlewick Lake residents demanded repayment for the damages caused to some of their homes by dirty water.

The community’s water provider – Aqua America – came to the meeting to try to provide answers to residents.

Over a dozen residents got up to speak, asking questions about why they never received notice from Aqua about the wells needing repairs. Aqua says they sent out automated phone calls, however that is a service residents need to sign up for.

Many also wanted to know if there would be any kind of reimbursements on their water bills, or some kind of repayment to fix appliances in their homes that were ruined by the dirty water. Aqua openly stated that they will not be offering any reimbursements.

Residents in attendance said they pay anywhere from $100-300 per month for Aqua's water.

"They're not looking at compensating us,” said resident Tina Hamilton. “In fact, they have informed us that no, the price is going to keep going up."

Another woman says the dirty water could have forced her husband – who has stage 4 kidney disease – onto dialysis.

"I heard tonight that they were adding some sort of chemical to the water to counteract Iron, and my concern is, is that safe for my husband to drink? We weren't notified of anything being added to our water,” said resident Linda Manliguis.

The Candlewick Board says they're now looking into creating a committee of some kind to oversee Aqua's operations within the community in the future. They have not said whether they will consider switching from Aqua to another water provider.

Above is from:  http://www.mystateline.com/news/candlewick-residents-confront-aqua-again