Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Belvidere City/Township Primary






Above is from:  http://www.wrex.com/category/152845/electionresults

Fact Check: Trump’s First Address to Congress




Fact Check: Trump’s
First Address to Congress

Reporters from The New York Times fact checked President Trump’s first address to Congress. FEB. 28, 2017

"The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century."

True, but somewhat misleading.

F.B.I. crime statistics estimate that there were 15,696 murders in 2015, up 10 percent from 2014. (Last year's figures are not available yet.) The increase was largely driven by street crime in a handful of large cities, like Chicago and Baltimore.

But one reason for such a large uptick was that crime had been falling for a generation. In 1991, the F.B.I. estimated that there were 24,703 murders.

— Charlie Savage

"Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits."

True, but cherry-picked.

Double-digit increases in premiums are common. President Trump cited Arizona's 116 percent increase; it is the only state that experienced a triple-digit hike. Premiums for a popular group of health plans sold on HealthCare.gov rose this year by an average of 25 percent, according to the Obama administration.

While subsidies are available to people with low and moderate incomes, people who do not qualify for financial assistance must bear the full cost.

— Robert Pear

Families of people killed by undocumented immigrants have been "ignored by our media."

They have received coverage.

The individuals killed by undocumented immigrants mentioned by President Trump in his speech received widespread coverage in local newspapers and on television. For example, the death of Jamiel Shaw Jr., who was shot and killed in 2008 in Los Angeles, was widely covered by The Los Angeles Times and local television stations.

— Ron Nixon

"Obamacare is collapsing."

This is an exaggeration.

Premiums for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act increased substantially this year. Deductibles are often high. The number of insurance companies offering coverage has shrunk in many states. Big insurers, losing money in the public marketplaces, have curtailed their participation.

But millions of people with modest incomes have obtained coverage, with federal subsidies that reduce their premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Republican efforts to repeal the health care law have created greater uncertainty, which threatens to destabilize the markets even more.

— Robert Pear

A National Academy of Sciences report found that immigrants cost the country billions.

This needs context

The 2016 National Academy of Sciences report found that the net cost of immigrants varies drastically by region, but that their average cost to the United States economy between 2011 and 2013 was $57.4 billion. However, the same report found that the children of immigrants make up much of that cost, adding a net benefit of $30.5 billion. Third-generation immigrants far exceeded the cost of their grandparents, adding a $223.8 billion benefit.

— Caitlin Dickerson

"Over 43 million Americans are on food stamps."

The number is correct.

According to the Agriculture Department, 43.3 million Americans use food stamps. As with the poverty rate, though, the number has been trending downward over the past several years.

— Dana Goldstein

"We've lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since Nafta was approved."

Not because of Nafta.

The United States has lost a lot of factory jobs since 2000, but the biggest reason is technological progress, not foreign competition. America's manufacturing output is at the highest level in history — it just doesn't take as many workers to make stuff anymore. Some jobs have been lost to foreign competition, but studies assign a modest role to Nafta.

— Binyamin Appelbaum

"Over 43 million people are now living in poverty."

True — but the number has also fallen.

According to the Census Bureau, 43.1 million Americans were living below the federal poverty line in 2015. But that number is lower than it was in the depths of the recession, in 2009 and 2010.

— Dana Goldstein

The Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines will create "tens of thousands of jobs."

This needs context.

President Trump has signed executive orders intended to clear the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. This will create jobs, although most of the jobs will be temporary. A 2014 State Department environmental review estimated that Keystone would support 42,000 temporary jobs over its two-year construction period — about 3,900 of them in construction, the rest in indirect support jobs, such as food service. It estimated that Keystone would create about 35 permanent jobs.

— Coral Davenport

"Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force."

This is misleading.

That is roughly the number of Americans older than 15 who do not have jobs. But it includes high school and college students, people with disabilities, stay-at-home parents and millions of retirees. The number of Americans who would like to work but can't find jobs is much smaller. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that about 7.6 million people were unemployed in January.

— Binyamin Appelbaum

"We've defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open for anyone to cross."

Open in parts, but heavily patrolled as well.

Individuals cannot just walk across the borders without fear of interception. Some do sneak across, but the borders are guarded by 21,000 Border Patrol agents along with a similar number of Customs and Border Protection officers at the 325 official ports of entry, which include airports, seaports and land border crossings.

— Ron Nixon

"We are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals."

Not a big change.

President Barack Obama already ordered the Department of Homeland Security to make serious criminals a primary focus of his deportation efforts. President Trump has called for all undocumented immigrants to be deported. With limited manpower and resources, that could mean a higher share of nonviolent offenders among those who are deported. Multiple studies have concluded that immigrants commit fewer crimes per capita than people born in the United States.

— Nicholas Kulish

President Trump said he ended a regulation that threatened "the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners."

This is partly true but misleading.

Mr. Trump did indeed sign a bill rolling back a regulation that would have prevented coal mining companies from polluting streams. But there is no evidence that the rule threatened a significant number of coal mining jobs, or that rolling it back will create new ones.

There are only about 70,000 direct coal mining jobs in the United States. But most economists have concluded that the decline is due to increased mechanization in the mining industry and a market shift by electric utilities away from coal and toward natural gas, which is cheaper. No credible studies have shown that rolling back major regulations on coal pollution will contribute to a major increase in coal mining jobs.

— Coral Davenport

Enforcing immigration laws will raise wages.

Maybe a little.

Economists are deeply divided about the effect of immigration on the wages of native-born workers. Some see evidence that increased competition has modestly reduced the wages for some kinds of work, particularly low-skilled labor. But the effects are relatively small — perhaps a few percentage points — and the overall effect on the economy is most likely positive.

— Binyamin Appelbaum

"I have directed several federal agencies to fight crime and dismantle the criminal cartels that have spread across our nation."

True, but they don't do much.

President Trump signed two crime-related executive orders on Feb. 9 that did little of substance. The order on reducing crime essentially just directed the Justice Department to develop a strategy to do so by coordinating with other agencies. The order on combating criminal cartels largely consisted of stating opposition to such groups. It directed the government’s interagency Threat Mitigation Working Group, which has existed since 2011, to review various efforts to battle them and “work to improve” those efforts.

— Charlie Savage

Above is from:  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/02/28/us/politics/fact-check-trump-congress-address.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

The Democratic Response to
Trump's Speech: Fact Checks

Reporters from The New York Times fact checked the Democrats' response to President Trump's address to Congress, which was delivered by former Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky. We fact checked Mr. Trump's speech, too. FEB. 28, 2017

President Trump has attacked intelligence agencies, the courts, the military, the news media and individual Americans.

Few have been spared.

President Trump has tweeted criticism of the F.B.I.; the court and judge who ruled against his travel ban; major news outlets; individual lawmakers; and celebrities.

He did refer to the military as a "disaster" during the election but has since focused on what he views as a depletion of its resources and a lack of funding.

— Linda Qiu

Twenty-two million Americans gained insurance under Obamacare.

Slightly high estimate.

Steve Beshear may be mixing up the effect of Obamacare's potential repeal with the effect of Obamacare itself.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimated that 20 million people gained insurance under Obamacare, while the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing the health care law would cause 22 million to lose coverage.

— Linda Qiu

We can enforce our immigration laws without tearing apart families.

False, unless the laws change. Hundreds of thousands of American citizens are born each year to parents who are in the country illegally. The Pew Research Center found that in 2012, 4.5 million American children were living with undocumented parents. Unless the current immigration laws are changed, enforcing them fully would tear those families apart.

— Caitlin Dickerson

"Every Republican idea to replace the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of Americans covered."

This is basically true.

A number of Republican proposals have emerged since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, but few of them have been evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office, the official government scorekeeper for legislative proposals. That means it's hard to compare them head-to-head.

But several of the leading plans have been evaluated by independent experts. And, indeed, they have all led to reductions in insurance coverage when compared with current numbers.

Republicans in the House are currently working on a bill, and the budget office is expected to offer estimates on its effects. So we'll find out more details soon.

— Margot Sanger-Katz

Above is from:  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/02/28/us/politics/fact-check-democratic-response-to-trump.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0

Monday, February 27, 2017

Pro-Trump town riled up after immigration officials arrest popular restaurant manager


Pro-Trump town riled up after immigration officials arrest popular restaurant manager

Published February 27, 2017

Associated Press

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WEST FRANKFORT, Ill. –  A southern Illinois community that solidly backed President Donald Trump has rallied behind a Mexican restaurant manager who doesn't have legal permission to live in the U.S. and has been detained by immigration officials.

Letters of support for Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco have poured in from West Frankfort's mayor, police chief, high school athletic director and the county prosecutor. They describe Hernandez as a role model and praise his robust civil involvement, including funding school scholarships, benefit dinners for families in need and hosting a law enforcement appreciation event.

Hernandez, 38, came to the U.S. in the 1990s but didn't obtain legal status, according to friends. He has been the manager of La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant for a decade in the community with coal mining roots, about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis.

He was arrested at his home earlier this month and remains in custody at a U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement facility outside St. Louis. ICE officials did not explain why Pacheco was arrested, but noted his drunken-driving convictions from 2007.

Some residents in the community of roughly 8,000 didn't know Hernandez lacked legal status in the U.S. until word spread of his arrest.

Though the community largely backed Trump — who has made an aggressive stance on immigration central to his agenda and has promised to deport millions of immigrants who have no permission to live here — many residents of West Frankfort said Hernandez' case has complicated their views on immigration policy.

"I think people need to do things the right way, follow the rules and obey the laws, and I firmly believe in that," Lori Barron, the owner of a beauty salon, told The New York Times. "But in the case of Carlos, I think he may have done more for the people here than this place has ever given him. I think it's absolutely terrible that he could be taken away."

Hernandez' attorney is pushing for him to be freed on bond until his case can be heard.

His wife, Elizabeth Hernandez, and three children are U.S. citizens. She told The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan that she hopes her husband can come home and "continue his efforts on becoming an American citizen, something that he has wished for a very long time."

Above is from:  http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/02/27/pro-trump-town-riled-up-after-immigration-officials-arrest-popular-restaurant-manager.html

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Law professors file misconduct complaint against Kellyanne Conway


The Washington Post logoWashington Post - Washington Post

The Washington Post

Sari Horwitz1 day ago


White House counselor Kellyanne Conway speaks Thursday during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland’s National Harbor.© Joshua Roberts/Reuters White House counselor Kellyanne Conway speaks Thursday during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland’s National Harbor.

A group of law professors from around the country has filed a professional misconduct complaint against White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, a graduate of George Washington University Law School who was admitted to the D.C. Bar in 1995.

The letter, filed with the office that handles misconduct by members of the D.C. Bar, said Conway should be sanctioned for violating government ethics rules and “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation,” the letter says.

The 15 professors, who specialize in legal ethics, cite several incidents, including a television interview in which Conway made the “false statement that President Barack Obama had ‘banned’ Iraqi refugees from coming into the United States for six months following the ‘Bowling Green Massacre,’ ” and the use of her position to endorse Ivanka Trump products.

“We do not file this complaint lightly,” the professors said in their filing. “We believe that, at one time, Ms. Conway, understood her ethical responsibilities as a lawyer and abided by them. But she is currently acting in a way that brings shame upon the legal profession.”

The professors teach at law schools such as Georgetown University Law Center, Yale Law School, Fordham University and Duke University.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The letter was sent to the D.C. Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the chief prosecutor for disciplinary matters that involve active or inactive attorneys who are members of the D.C. Bar. Conway is listed as a D.C. Bar member under her maiden name, Kellyanne E. Fitzpatrick, but is a suspended member for not paying her dues, according to the disciplinary filing.

D.C. Disciplinary Counsel Wallace “Gene” Shipp Jr. said that his office receives about 1,500 complaints a year but investigates only between 400 to 500 of them. The actions that can be taken range from dismissal of the complaint to the prosecution of charges and possible disbarment, he said.

Since she has been serving as counselor to President Trump, Conway has been caught up in several controversies. Last month, during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” she said the White House had put forth “alternative facts” regarding the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd.

“ ‘Alternative facts’ are not facts at all; they are lies,” the professors said in their filing.

Conway was also criticized for using her position during a Feb. 9 interview on Fox News to endorse Ivanka Trump’s fashion products.

“Federal rules on conflicts of interest specifically prohibit using public office ‘for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity,’” the complaint said.

Abbe Smith, a Georgetown Law Center professor and director of the Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic, said she has never filed such a complaint before and generally does not believe that lawyers should routinely face discipline under the broad rule they cited, which includes conduct outside the practice of law.

“But Ms. Conway’s conduct was so outside the norm for a member of the legal profession,” Smith said. “What prompted our complaint was a combination of the specific conduct that Ms. Conway engaged in plus the fact that she holds such a high public office.”

Above is from:  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/msn/law-professors-file-misconduct-complaint-against-kellyanne-conway/ar-AAnh6qH?ocid=spartandhp

Trump rejects DHS intelligence report on travel ban


FOX News logoFOX News

FOX News

Edmund DeMarche

4 hrs ago


Officials in President Trump’s administration Friday downplayed an intelligence report by the Homeland Security Department that contradicts the White House’s main argument for implementing a travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries.

The report, which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal and Associated Press, determined that the "country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity."

The Trump administration has taken the position that immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries should be blocked from the U.S. due to their terror risk. Trump used terrorism a primary justification when he announced the now court-blocked travel ban in late January.

The intelligence report found that in the past six years, foreign-born individuals who were “inspired” to strike in the U.S. came from 26 different countries.

Senior White House Policy Adviser Stephen Miller told Fox News' "First 100 Days" Tuesday that a revised version of the travel ban would "have the same basic policy outcome."

A senior administration official told The Wall Street Journal that the DHS report’s assessment overlooked key information and the finished product that the White House requested has not been completed. The White House called the report politically motivated. Officials said it overlooked some information that supported the ban.

“The president asked for an intelligence assessment,” the official said. “This is not the intelligence assessment the president asked for.”

The draft report determined that few people from the countries Trump listed in his travel ban have carried out attacks or been involved in terrorism-related activities in the U.S. since Syria's civil war started in 2011.

Gillian Christensen, a DHS spokeswoman, does not dispute the report's authenticity, but says it was not a final comprehensive review of the government's intelligence.

“It is clear on its face that it is an incomplete product that fails to find evidence of terrorism by simply refusing to look at all the available evidence,” she said, according to The Journal. “Any suggestion by opponents of the president’s policies that senior (homeland security) intelligence officials would politicize this process or a report’s final conclusions is absurd and not factually accurate. The dispute with this product was over sources and quality, not politics.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Above is from:  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-rejects-dhs-intelligence-report-on-travel-ban/ar-AAnkWi8?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

Friday, February 24, 2017

WREX’s Update on GLB RR



Posted: Feb 23, 2017 11:00 PM CST


By next week, the developers behind the multi-billion dollar Great Lakes Basin Railroad are expected to update the federal government on the project. 
They called for a time out in December to refile their application.  

All indications are this plan is moving forward.  While there are those fighting to keep this railroad from ever happening, there are those at least interested in hearing more.
John and Bonnie Murphy own a Winnebago County farm.  This February warm up has kept them busy.

"Father's grandfather's father started the farm in about 1840 and we've been here ever since," said John.  He said they farm "corn, beans and dairy cows." 

There's a lot of action down at the Rochelle rail yard, too.  Workers packing hundreds of rail cars onto city tracks to make way for even more.

There is a deep sense of tradition steeped in the farming and the railroad industries in Northern Illinois.  These two economic engines at a crossroads now with the idea of a 270-plus mile railroad. The Great Lakes Basin Railroad would run from Wisconsin through Illinois into Indiana cutting through farms along the way including the Murphys.

"They're gonna come and take a few acres of my land, and it'd be like I opening a restaurant in Rockford and taking a homeowners 20 feet of their property," said John.  "It doesn't make you feel good."

Their concerns echoed when the federal agency reviewing Great Lakes Basin's potential environmental impact held meetings across local counties the rail could cut through.  Those concerns, very real.  Some say, so is the potential for growing the Stateline's economy.
To see what this new investment could mean for towns along the railroad's path, we travel to Rochelle.  Where more than 20 years ago, the city formed its own railroad system to capitalize on an opportunity.

Rochelle's economic development director, Jason Anderson, said the city's dual access rail line connects to two major Class 1 railroads: the Union Pacific and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

"We've added $1.5 billion in capital investment in land, equipment and buildings in the last 10 years," said Anderson.

Since building an industrial park to serve the railroad. 15 businesses have come to ogle county.   What you see here, could become the norm in Winnebago, Lee and other counties up and down the Great Lakes Basin Railroad.  The purpose: to bypass Chicago.

"It takes about 2 days to get a product from southern California or Seattle, Tacoma to Rochelle.  But because of the congestion in Chicago it can take almost 2 days to go that last 75 miles," said Anderson.

So what's in it for the communities that relieve the bottleneck?  Rochelle's economy lends the best insight:
Take the city's tax base:  Rochelle's more than doubled its value since focusing on rail.

"It took us 100 years to get to $100 million tax base. It took us an additional 13 years to get $225 million, most of that was driven by access to rail," said Anderson.  "That means your city, your park district, your school districts your library districts all receive a larger revenue stream from that tax base."

In that same time, the city's created 2,200 new jobs.  The third benefit, he said, Rochelle was in a good position to leverage assets it already had, like access to major highways.

"If we start to work together on how we can leverage those things that already exist, we'll be unstoppable from an economic development standpoint," said Anderson.

You'd think Anderson is all for the Great Lakes Basin Railroad.  But he isn't, nor is he against it.  He's cautiously optimistic:

"I know this is a concern locally.  By tying all these communities all together, Rochelle loses its uniqueness as being a community that has multiple rail service because all the communities along the great lakes basin railroad will have access to those 6 class 1 railroads," said Anderson.

So we've told you why some people don't want the rail and what communities have seen a positive impact of having a hub.  But what if there was another way? 

There's already a railroad that runs from Rochelle to Rockford, but Anderson and others say it's not utilized to its potential. So whether it's the Great Lakes Basin Railroad or something else, they say it's time to leverage that rail.

"Why doesn't a new railroad take advantage of some of the existing rail right-of-way," said Mike Dunn, Jr., the executive director of the Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning. 
The lines already in existence between Rochelle and Rockford are called the Illinois RailNet.  It stretches from Winnebago to Ogle County.  Right now the short lines are in private hands and would need to be purchased.   Then upgraded to handle Class 1 railroads, but that's not on the proposed route for the Great Lakes line.

"The RMAP policy board has supported the concept of the Great Lakes Basin Railroad, but it has not supported a specific route," said Dunn.

It's why Great Lakes basin or not, RMAPs long term plan is for a railroad to better serve Rockford's airport to compliment the global trade park north of RFD and the industrial park earmarked for development south of the airport along Interstate 39.

Meanwhile we all wait to hear from the Great Lakes Basin on its next proposal.  Like the Murphys who look at this land and see their future in farming. That same land a railroad company could have a future on as it charts its course through the Stateline.

The earliest the government could make its decision about the project is 2019.  Eminent domain wouldn't be sorted out until then either.  We contacted Great Lakes Basin Railroad to be part of our story, but they declined multiple times.  So this update next week could be everything from them asking for an extension, or revealing a 3rd proposed route.  13 News will keep you posted.

See the GLBT proposed route map (updated September 2016). See the old route map that would have cut through Boone County

Above is from:  http://www.wrex.com/story/34591509/2017/02/24/digging-deeper-what-the-statelines-rail-economy-could-be-with-or-without-the-great-lakes-basin-railroad

Boone County Job Openings



Assessment Officer:



Above ads are from page 2 of:  http://www.boonecountyjournal.com/news/2017/Boone-County-News-02-24-17.pdf

Belvidere mayor challenged by son of former mayor, city treasurer




Posted Feb 24, 2017 at 9:00 AM Updated at 4:27 PM


By Susan Vela
Staff writer

BELVIDERE — Ric Brereton is challenging Mayor Mike Chamberlain, the man who replaced his father as the city's top elected official.

They have worked together under the same roof for about four years. Brereton is the city treasurer, as well as an office manager and a licensed insurance agent at Brereton Inc.

Chamberlain is finishing his first four-year term managing about 130 city employees and an annual budget of approximately $18 million.

Whoever wins the Republican primary on Tuesday becomes mayor on May 1. There are no Democratic or independent candidates.

Both are committed to the city of approximately 26,000 residents. The future looks promising, they agree, because of developments that include Fiat Chrysler's retooling for new Jeep Cherokee lines.


Their approaches are similar but distinct, shaped by their own personal backgrounds.

Brereton's father, Fred, was one of Belvidere's longest serving mayors, serving for 16 years.

"That's why I got involved in local government in the first place," said the younger Brereton. "With that kind of experience, I realized how important it was to be involved."

Ric Brereton has served several years as president of the Boone County Republican Club. He's also been heavily involved in civic activities.

Brereton has helped organize Belvidere's National Day of Prayer and Heritage Days Annual Community Patriotic Worship Service.

"But most of all, I'm proud of building positive relationships with fellow citizens, community leaders and local financial institutions in my position as city treasurer," he said.

If elected, he'd try to improve City Hall's outreach to the community. He'd like local cable Channel 20 to have more extensive programming. He envisions news about local businesses, organizations, newly elected officials and others who make the city run.

He'd also want a "comprehensive examination" of the city's codes and policies in order to create a more business-friendly environment.

Belvidere, he said, has untapped potential.

He has pursued academic studies in Arizona at Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences and Scottsdale Community College. He has a certificate in audio production.

Chamberlain represented Ward 3 as an alderman for seven years before he declared plans to run for mayor in 2012. He then promised to be the most visible and accessible leader in Belvidere's history.

Chamberlain said that with collaboration of City Council, city departments and other agencies, priority projects such as Irene Road, Columbia Avenue and the refurbished downtown streetscape were completed. The city has balanced its budget for four years and instituted no new taxes, nor did it have any sewer and water rate increases, Chamberlain said.

The $1 million makeover of State Street downtown included new paving, storm sewers and stamped concrete from Logan Avenue to Appleton Road.

The city has paid for projects such as Columbia Avenue and the downtown streetscape by saving money, rather than borrowing and paying interest.

Also, he said the city's new website is more community friendly and new technologies have made the city more efficient.

"I am sure that new methods of communication with the community will evolve as new technologies become mainstream," he said. "But they must be manageable and appropriate to the function of government, and its serious mandate to serve the people ethically and with consideration for all."

If reelected, he'd try to build on successes from the past four years. He said he'd continue nurturing a business-friendly environment built on a climate of "yes" and "can do."

He'd also emphasize working together. Chamberlain's ad hoc diversity committee recently began meeting to strengthen ties between its community members.

He wants to continue increasing property values by attracting more businesses to the region. Chamberlain recently helped select Pamela Lopez-Fettes as the new executive director of Growth Dimensions, the local entity committed to sparking economic development throughout the region.

By his calculation, the community is due up to 2,200 new jobs, mainly because of Chrysler's new Jeep Cherokee lines.

"Building and maintaining a skilled workforce through diversified education is key," he said. "There are always threats to success but by keeping focused on our goals, empowering our citizens through inclusiveness and good old-fashioned neighborly concern, we will persevere."

Chamberlain is a graduate of the Illinois Municipal League Leadership Enhancement and Development (L.E.A.D.) program, and a graduate of its leadership forum. Because of his involvement in those programs, Chamberlain co-authored a 2009 leadership symposium for University of Illinois Office of Public Leadership.

Susan Vela: 815-987-1392; svela@rrstar.com; @susanve

Above is from:   http://www.rrstar.com/news/20170224/belvidere-mayor-challenged-by-son-of-former-mayor-city-treasurer

How many new ICE Officers?



By Mica Rosenberg

Former Border Patrol officials question Trump plan to add agents

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security plan to add more than 5,000 border enforcement agents will present logistical challenges and might be unnecessary, according to former government officials familiar with earlier pushes to accelerate border hiring.

Three former top officials at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) told Reuters in interviews that ramping up hiring at the agency, as outlined in a directive on Tuesday, would be expensive, while rapid expansion poses the risk of corruption if screening protocols for recruits are relaxed.

The officials said the agency should get what it needs to secure the border, but they questioned whether such a major staff expansion was necessary, noting that apprehensions at the border have dropped.   

"Congress is going to be looking at this very carefully and looking for justification for this kind of money to make sure they don't write a check that is not necessary," said W. Ralph Basham who headed U.S. Customs and Border Protection during the George W. Bush administration. "The question will be do we need more agents or do we need money for technology and infrastructure," he said.

Additional enforcement officers are central to President Donald Trump's sweeping plan to crack down on illegal immigration, outlined in Jan. 25 executive orders on border security and interior enforcement. Tuesday's Homeland Security guidance for implementing those orders called for adding more than 5,000 border patrol agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, officers, who enforce immigration laws in the country's interior, among other duties.

The White House and Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a question about the rationale behind the number of personnel requested.

"At the end of the day, the goal is to get control of the border and enhance the security of the country," said White House assistant press secretary Michael Short in an email.


The proposed hiring surge would be the largest since the Bush administration, when Congress funded an expansion of border enforcement following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

That effort doubled the number of border patrol agents from nearly 10,000 in 2001 to nearly 20,000 by 2008, according to CBP.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent helps a trainee with proper sighting techniques at the U.S. Border Patrol Training Academy in Artesia© REUTERS/Jeff Topping/File Photo A U.S. Border Patrol agent helps a trainee with proper sighting techniques at the U.S. Border Patrol Training Academy in Artesia

The agency was required to meet tight time requirements for hiring, said Basham who was appointed commissioner in 2006

The laser focus on quick hiring, and its cost, ended up "sucking all the air" out of other parts of the department, Basham recalled, leaving gaps for other spending needs.

Basham said he supports CBP getting adequate resources and was encouraged that the new Department of Homeland Security guidelines did not mandate a deadline to complete the hiring. But he questioned the need for a renewed expansion of the force.

More than 1.6 million migrants were apprehended trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in 2000 compared to 400,000 last year, according to CBP statistics. "Currently the flow is not really anywhere near where it was," Basham said.

Jim Wong, who was Deputy Assistant Commissioner of CBP's Office of Internal Affairs from 2009 to 2011, said money might be better spent on other department needs.

"Throwing more human resources at the issue is not necessarily the best way to approach it," he said.

The union representing border patrol agents, which backed Trump in the presidential election, has long supported adding personnel, saying more manpower is needed to secure the border, said union spokesman Shawn Moran.

Homeland Security spokespeople declined to estimate how much the increased hiring would cost. 

Trainees listen to U.S. Border Patrol agent Holler as he instructs them on the proper grip and safe use of their Heckler & Koch P2000 handgun© REUTERS/Jeff Topping/File Photo Trainees listen to U.S. Border Patrol agent Holler as he instructs them on the proper grip and safe use of their Heckler & Koch P2000 handgun

The 2017 fiscal year budget request for staffing at current levels of more than 21,000 border patrol agents was about $3.8 billion for salary, overtime and benefits, or about $180,000 per officer on average, although officers with different levels of seniority earn different wages. Additional costs could include housing for agents working in remote areas, equipment and support staff, former officials said.  

In the last budget cycle, the agency requested funding for 300 fewer officers than the year before to instead invest in replacing aging radios and vehicles. CBP said the request reflected "realistic agent hiring expectations."


Gil Kerlikowske, who headed CBP for three years under President Barack Obama, said one risk of rapid hiring is quality control. 

"When you speed up the process and don't take the requisite time you pay a price later in things like corruption," Kerlikowske said.

During the Bush-era hiring surge, the Border Patrol had problems screening candidates, and internal corruption cases soon spiked, according to congressional testimony and government documents.

Congress then passed the Anti-Border Corruption Act in 2010, which made polygraph testing mandatory for all border patrol agents. Since then, tests have revealed candidates who were compromised by drug cartels or were heavy drug users themselves.

But the polygraph test and other controls have also slowed the hiring process. A 2012 GAO report found that between 2008 and 2012, only 40 percent of applicants passed their polygraph exams.

In addition to polygraph tests, applicants now undergo a rigorous hiring process, including a cognitive exam, fingerprinting, financial disclosure, fitness tests, medical examinations and background checks, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Kerlikowske said when he left the agency at the time of Trump's inauguration there were 1,200 authorized but unfilled openings for border patrol agents due to the difficulty of finding and vetting enough qualified candidates.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Sue Horton and David Gregorio)

Above is from:  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/former-border-patrol-officials-question-trump-plan-to-add-agents/ar-AAnknuP?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartandhp

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trump deportation threats to constrict already-tight job market, could cost economy $5 trillion


Trump deportation threats to constrict already-tight job market, could cost economy $5 trillion


Patricia Laya


President Donald Trump's sweeping crackdown on immigrants in the country illegally will strain an already tight U.S. job market, with one study suggesting that removing all of them would cost the economy as much as $5 trillion over 10 years.

That represents the contribution of the millions of unauthorized workers to the world's largest economy, about 3 percent of private-sector gross domestic product, according to a recent paper issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research. At an average of $500 billion in output a year, removing all such immigrants would be like lopping off the equivalent of Massachusetts from the U.S. economy, said study co-author Francesc Ortega.

From Our Partners: Travelers Arrive in the U.S. to Hugs and Tears After the Lifting of Trump's Immigration Ban

"It's a big number," said Ortega, an economics professor at Queens College in New York, who published the study in November with colleague Ryan Edwards. "Undocumented workers are present across the whole economy, even if they are heavily concentrated in sectors such as agriculture, construction and hospitality."

No unauthorized immigrants? Manufacturing, hospitality workforces would struggle

No unauthorized immigrants? Manufacturing, hospitality workforces would struggle

Any immigrant in the U.S. illegally may now be deported, according to a pair of memos issued Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security implementing Trump's executive orders. In the memos, the administration pledged to hire 15,000 more border patrol and immigration agents and begin building a wall on the Mexican border.


There were about 8 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally working or looking for work in 2014, with California, Texas and New York accounting for the largest share of the workforce, according to Pew Research Center estimates. Most of them are likely to be of working age, which makes them about 5 percent of the U.S. labor force and 3.5 percent of the total U.S. population. Immigrants here illegally include those who enter the country without legal permission and those who overstay their visas.

Following through on plans to deport undocumented workers would hit industries that already complain of worker shortages, said Ethan Harris, Bank of America Merrill Lynch's head of global economics in New York.

The jobless rate in the U.S. was 4.8 percent in January, a level some economists consider to be full employment.

"The challenge is particularly high now because the labor market has tightened up not just overall but in areas in which you would think undocumented immigrants would be important, so that means that it's going to be hard to fill these jobs if you deport these employees," Harris said. "You have to think about indirect effects when you disrupt production in industries in which they're a critical part of getting things done. So there's a transition cost, as well as the cost of a reduced labor force."

For migrant workers on Illinois farms, the job is hot, risky

For migrant workers on Illinois farms, the job is hot, risky

Harris estimates that for every 1 million fewer workers in the economy, GDP would be reduced by about 0.5 percent. That's the equivalent of $94 billion, based on the annualized pace of $18.9 trillion in fourth-quarter GDP.

The Edwards-Ortega research was funded by the Center for American Progress, a Democratic-leaning policy group. White House spokesman Michael Short cited the study's funding from CAP in dismissing the report as "bogus" without offering specific challenges to the findings. He referred to a 2013 report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform that estimates the annual "costs of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local level to be about $113 billion."

Trump ran for president on promises to crack down on immigrants in the country illegally, some of whom he has described as competing with lawful U.S. residents for jobs and contributing to rising crime in some cities. He has said that he would focus deportation efforts on immigrants in the country illegally who commit crimes in the U.S., but immigration advocates say that the government has already targeted law-abiding people who are in the country without documentation, including some with children or other family members who are citizens.

Immigrant community on high alert, fearing Trump's 'deportation force'

Immigrant community on high alert, fearing Trump's 'deportation force'

The U.S. "no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement," Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in the memos.

"When we started this study last summer, our interest was to study the economic role of undocumented immigrants," Ortega said. "Little did we know that, a few months later, this could become a serious policy question."

Toluse Olorunnipa contributed.

Above is from:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-trump-deportation-job-market-20170222-story.html

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Boone County resident chosen to lead Growth Dimensions



Boone County resident chosen to lead Growth Dimensions

Posted Feb 17, 2017 at 10:00 AM

By Susan Vela
Staff writer

BELVIDERE — Pamela Lopez-Fettes, an Illinois native and Boone County resident, is the new executive director of Growth Dimensions, a public-private organization trying to ignite economic development throughout the region.

Lopez-Fettes decided to apply for the job after nearly a decade with the Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance.

"We did an extensive search," said Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain, who served on the search committee. "Pam has already demonstrated her abilities. We're going through a boom right now.

"There will be close to 2,200 new jobs created in the next 18 months. Pam's demonstrated abilities to put employers with job training (and) with employees is going to be an essential part of our success in the future."

Lopez-Fettes started her new position on Monday. She replaced Jarid Funderburg, who left Growth Dimensions in late 2016 to become a strategic philanthropy officer for OSF St. Anthony Medical Center and to focus on his new duties as a Rock Valley College trustee.


"It was a great fit, and the timing was right," she said of her decision to apply. "I've worked in the region for nine years. I want everyone to know what a wonderful place it is to live and work. (I'll stay) as long as they'll have me, as long as I feel I'm making an impact."

She wants to bring more health care and transportation logistics jobs to the county. She'll try to do so by building on the work she's already done for the Northern Illinois Workforce Alliance. As business account manager for the alliance, Lopez-Fettes forged partnerships with business, education and economic development groups around the Rock River Valley.

"(For now), I'm getting to know all the players (and) all the partners (and) learning a lot about our internal processes and our external process in order to engage the community members," she said. "We're still learning and we'll identify additional strategies later."

The search committee selected Lopez-Fettes in mid-January, said Sherry Giesecke, a Boone County Board member who led the selection process. Giesecke liked the applicant's diverse background and her attention to details.

"We think she's a keeper," Giesecke said. "She's going to increase our investor pool. She's going to be very successful in building relationships within the county and with our neighbors, which is absolutely imperative."

Lopez-Fettes and her family have lived in Boone County for more than a decade. She serves as a catechist at St. James Catholic Church in Belvidere.

She has an associate's degree the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Loyola University in Chicago. She also has done graduate work in organizational development at Benedictine University in Lisle.

Susan Vela: 815-987-1392; svela@rrstar.com; @susanvela

Above is from:  http://www.rrstar.com/news/20170217/boone-county-resident-chosen-to-lead-growth-dimensions

Belvidere City/Township Primary and Election


The Republican Primary is Tuesday February 28 and early voting is currently occurring at t he County Clerk’s Office.  The election is on Tuesday , April 4, 2017.




Opponents keeping close eye on Great Lakes Basin rail plan



Opponents keeping close eye on Great Lakes Basin rail plan

February 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm | By AUSTIN MONTGOMERY Staff writer

Opponents keeping close eye  on Great Lakes Basin rail plan

Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News Mirjam Melin of Rock Against the Rail encourages attendees at a listening session regarding the Great Lakes Basin Transportation’s (GLBT) newest proposal rail line route to write to the Surface Transportation Board and legislators about safety issues and concerns over the route. The meeting was held in December at Beloit Turner High School.

BELOIT — Grassroots community groups against the Great Lakes Basin Rail Line have submitted additional information to an official motion in rebuttal to Great Lakes Basin Transportation’s (GLBT) responses to Surface Transportation Board (STB) questions.

The Feb. 13 supplemental motion comes ahead of an anticipated update by GLBT officials over the status of the company’s progress on an official application to the STB by Feb. 28.

In December, the company requested, and was granted, a temporary suspension from the STB over its environmental impact statement review process. This week’s statements from opponents contested the company’s responses, claiming all questions answered were vague and also provided misleading and contradictory information not in line with previously-presented plan specifics.

The proposed rail line would extend from La Porte, Indiana, through Illinois to Milton, Wisconsin. Developers say the privately-funded $8 billion rail line would ease freight train congestion and better manage traffic from Chicago.

The latest plan has the GLBT rail line running west of Beloit and not going through Boone County in Illinois as was originally planned. Instead it is planned to run west of Rockford in Winnebago County.

The company could submit its application as soon as Feb. 28, but the process, along with the environmental impact statement, would take years to be settled before a final STB ruling is made.

Rock Against the Rail co-founder Mirjam Melin urged residents to stay involved throughout the process, and the grassroots leader wanted to dispel any confusion about the current lull in the process.

“We want to make sure that people know the fight isn’t over,” Melin said. “Nothing has changed. People need to understand that the process is still ongoing.”

Since the plan was announced in March of last year, there has been considerable pushback throughout the affected counties in the three states listed in the plan. Landowners and farmers across the proposed 270-mile route said the plan would decrease property values, impact farmland production and disrupt rural life at multiple hearings held in Rock and Winnebago counties.

The recent court filing claims the company’s responses are “unsupported” and that comments need to be accepted as part of the official record to clarify the situation.

The proposed plan would add 184-miles of two-track rails, nearly 73.5 miles of single-track rails and 13 miles of three-track rails. There are a total of 1,718 homes within the proposed rail route and 449 properties are within one mile of the proposed route.

The grassroots group took issue with the discussion of right-of-way widths discussed in the company’s responses. The company claims it would ask for 200-foot right-of-way widths in order to provide 150 feet for tracks, 50 feet for cuts and fills, bridge embankments, roadway vehicle access and placement of utilities, signals and defect detectors to support operation of the railroad.

Opponents claim the detailed list of right-of-way uses was only added to the plan since the STB does not have jurisdiction to authorize acquisition of property for non-rail use. The opposition also took issue with the company’s previous statement saying rail congestion in Chicago had prompted the plan, while stating the average time to send a freight train through the city sat at over 30 hours, Melin said. The claim has been disputed, and community groups pointed to the implementation of the Chicago Integrated Rail Operations Center (CIROC) in 2015. The plan includes direct connections to each carrier and track to assist rail employees in resolving operational issues and identifying congestion points. Recent data showed the time required for a unit train to pass through the Chicago Rail Terminal has declined from 20 hours to less than 15 hours.

Company representatives could not immediately be reached for comment. STB staff said there was no new information regarding the plan currently, and the Feb. 28 deadline set by the STB’s Office of Environmental Analysis still stands.

The current plan would bring the rail line through the Riverside Energy Center developed by Alliant Energy, set for construction in March. The site is being developed as a natural gas and solar energy generating station through a $700 million investment. It is estimated the power station could have a $250 million annual economic impact, according to Alliant.

Melin reassured residents and noted there would be more opportunities for public comment, which was confirmed by the STB. Once an application and environmental statement is submitted, the public will be able to give input on both crucial documents.

“Our stance has not changed,” Melin said. “Behind the scenes we are working. It’s been a full-court press educating ourselves and everyone else. We need to pick it back up again soon.”

For updates over the plan, visit greatlakesbasin.net.

Above is from:  http://www.beloitdailynews.com/article/20170217/ARTICLE/170219761

State Dept carries out layoffs under Rex Tillerson


CBS News logoCBS News

CBS News

Margaret Brennan1 day ago



CBS News


While Rex Tillerson is on his first overseas trip as Secretary of State, his aides laid off staff at the State Department on Thursday. 

Much of seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told today that their services were no longer needed. 

These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy.

There are clear signals being sent that many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats. 

Not a single State Department official was included in the White House meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner - who has  no regional expertise or diplomatic experience -  had a greater role in the meeting than the Senate-confirmed secretary of State. 

Rex Tillerson was absent Wednesday but did join Kushner and Netanyahu for dinner the night before. Acting Deputy Secretary of State Tom Shannon was on the official schedule to take his place but was then shut out of the White House meeting.

In an emailed statement to CBS News, a State Department official explained that the decision to modify the meeting was made at the White House to “allow for a more personal discussion.” That presumably is a reference to the long-standing friendship between Trump, Kushner, and Netanyahu. 

That particular incident was disheartening to many State Department officials who hope that Mr. Tillerson - who had a long career as Exxon Mobil’s CEO -  will bring his worldly experience and management to a building that has been demoralized by the Trump administration’s antipathy toward multilateralism and cavalier approach to diplomacy.

Two sources also told CBS News that Ambassador Kristie Kenney, the Counselor of the State Department and one of the last remaining senior officials, was informed that she will be let go. She is a career foreign service officer who had served as an ambassador under Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton. Her staff was told that Secretary Tillerson does not intend to fill the counselor’s position anytime soon.

While positions are often reshuffled during transitions and those perceived as politically-oriented are moved aside, the departures leave the positions vacant at a time of global instability. In Thursday’s presser, President Trump referred to “mass instability overseas, no matter where you look.” 

“The middle east is a disaster,” he complained. “North Korea - we’ll take care of it folks; we’re going to take care of it all. I just want to let you know, I inherited a mess.”

“It is irresponsible to let qualified, nonpartisan, experienced people go before you have any idea of their replacement. You can’t do foreign policy by sitting in the White House, just out of your back pocket,” explains Tom Countryman, Former Assistant Secetary for Non-Proliferation who was let go earlier this month. Countryman worries that the White House is displaying an intent not rely on the State Department for foreign policy in that no one will be in place to challenge the edicts drawn up in the Oval Office. 

This may be what President Trump was referring to when he repeatedly said that “our people” are not yet in place at U.S. government agencies. He blamed the leaks of embarrassing White House transcripts of his phone calls with foreign leaders - including difficult conversations he had with Mexico and Australia - on officials who had previously worked for the Obama Administration. 

R.C. Hammond, a State Department spokesman, did not respond to the specific question of what motivated the layoffs but provided the following statement: “As part of the transition from one administration to the next we continue to build out our team. The State Department is supported by a very talented group of individuals, both Republicans and Democrats. We are appreciative to any American who dedicates their talents to public service.‎” 

Hammond previously worked for Newt Gingrich and is a new hire at the State Department.