Illinois Reproductive Health Act

SB 25: Illinois Reproductive Health Act

All over the country we are witnessing legislative bodies infringing upon health decisions made between doctors and patients with restrictive laws regarding reproductive rights with no regard as to whether a procedure is medically necessary or the patient’s choice.

SB 25 Illinois Reproductive Health Act provides for the fundamental right of a woman to make her own decisions about her form of health care, which includes whether or not to use birth control, and values the woman’s ability to make seminal life decisions regarding having a child. It is a difficult decision, and not one that should carry criminal consequences; and this bill speaks to that.

Reproductive health is a basic human right and preserving this right is of utmost importance.

Safe and healthy women and families, freedom of choice, and economic freedom are DuPage County values — SB 25 preserves and strengthens those values. As women, mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, and elected officials in DuPage County, we embrace and fully support passage of SB 25.

Ashley Selmon, DuPage County Board, District 1

Liz Chaplin, DuPage County Board, District 2

Julie Rehehan, DuPage County Board, District 3

Mary Ozog, DuPage County Board, District 4

Dawn DeSart, DuPage County Board, District 5

Shelia Rutlegde, DuPage County Board, District 6

 

 

 

 

 

Will Home Rule Be Coming To DuPage?

Will DuPage County be seeking Home Rule? While Home Rule has many advantages it also has many disadvantages. Non-Home Rule counties in Illinois are limited by state statute and the state constitution in their ability to tax and regulate. The advantages to Home Rule is that it allows flexibility on local issues and more freedom in enforcing and passing ordinances. The disadvantages are that it gives options for incurring debt and imposing new and higher taxes. 

My concerns is that the reason the county may be looking for Home Rule status is for the sole purpose of raising taxes. Last year DuPage County cut 10% from the DuPage Care Center, the Human Services Grant Fund and Stormwater Management budgets. DuPage County has not raised the property tax levy since 2010.  In hindsight, DuPage County’s heavy reliance on sales tax and refusal to increase the property tax may come full circle.

While the other Collar Counties which include Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will, rely on property tax as their major source of revenue, DuPage County’s largest source of revenue is sales tax.  Currently, 56.8 percent of DuPage County’s revenue source is sales tax, which includes the RTA sales tax that can only be utilized for transportation and/or public safety.  It might sound like a good idea to use sales tax as the largest portion of revenues but it is also very dangerous. In September of 2016, Moody’s downgraded DuPage County’s AAA rating. Crain’s  Chicago Business reporter Greg Hinz reported the following “The downgrade reflects Fitch’s concern (about) the county’s limited revenue flexibility and slow revenue growth prospects,” the New York firm wrote. “(Fitch’s) revised criteria placed increased focus on Fitch’s expectations for the natural pace of revenue growth without revenue-raising measures and the ability of an entity to independently increase revenue.” In general, Fitch said it expects revenue from existing taxes to grow “slightly below historical trends” and generally only in line with national inflation. “While sales tax revenue has growth between 4 percent and 5 percent annually over the past several years, it has slowed to only 1 percent growth in fiscal 2016, leading the county to change its growth assumptions going forward to only 2 percent growth.”

I will be open to all conversations about Home Rule if and when they arise. I will be open to all conversations regarding revenues.  If the county board decides that Home Rule is the best option I will ask the county to bring it before the citizens via a county-wide referendum. 

You can read more about the Moody’s Downgrade here.

You can read more about Home Rulhere.

Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship

Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship

 Benjamin Franklin

As an elected official in my mind, there is no “little expense.” Elected officials must be willing to examine every expenditure large and small.

During the March 26th meeting of the DuPage County Board, there was an item on the agenda for overnight travel for a County Board member to attend the NACo Annual Conference in Clark County, Las Vegas Nevada on July 11,  through July 15, 2019, for an approximate total of $1573.00. Normally I would approve this item, however, I voted no because four members of DuPage County Board had just returned from a NACo Conference in Washington D.C.

On October 23, 2018, the board approved travel for a board member to attend the 2019 NACo Legislative Conference on March 2 through March 6, 2019, for an approximate total of $2502.

On November 27, 2018, the board approved travel for two board members to attend the 2019 NACo Legislative Conference on March 2 through March 6, 2019, for an approximate total of $5010.

On December 11, 2018, the board approved travel for a board member to attend the 2019 NACo Legislative Conference on March 2 through March 6, 2019, for an approximate total of $2502.

The current amount approved for the board members travel for 2019 is $11,590.

On today’s agenda, there was another request for overnight travel for a County Board member to attend the NACo Annual Conference in Clark County, Las Vegas Nevada on July 11 through July 15, 2019, for an approximate total of $1573.00.  Bringing the total approved 2019 expenditures for travel to  $13,163.00.

During the March 26th meeting, Mary Ozog questioned the travel policy. Some of her suggestions for a new policy would include limit the amount of travel, rotate members attendance, all members must be notified of upcoming conferences and a report must be given to the board. I called for a review of our travel policy.

Today, DuPage County Board Member, Jim Healy was supposed to present to the board a report detailing the 2019 Legislative Conference. We didn’t get a report on the conference today, we got an overview of NACo.

One member asked, “what is there to talk about?” Another tried to delegitimize the argument for discussion of the travel policy based on the expenditure in comparison to the total amount of the budget. I once again voted no on the authorization for travel for a County Board member because there was no discussion or review of the travel policy.

DuPage County cut 10% from the DuPage County Care Center. DuPage County cut 10% from the Human Services Grant Fund. DuPage County Cut 10% from Stormwater Management.

Every dollar matters.

Like Benjamin Franklin said, “it’s the little leaks that can sink a great ship.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DuPage Travel Policy Up For Review

My philosophy is that government needs to be frugal and fiscally responsible while providing needed services which include public safety, quality infrastructure and human services. When tax dollars are spent on unnecessary expenditures, government cannot afford to do what needs to be done.

During the March 26th meeting of the DuPage County Board, there was an item on the agenda for overnight travel for a County Board member to attend the NACo Annual Conference in Clark County, Las Vegas Nevada on July 11,  through July 15, 2019, for an approximate total of $1573.00. Normally I would approve this item, however, I voted no because four members of DuPage County Board had just returned from a NACo Conference in Washington D.C.

On October 23, 2018, the board approved travel for a board member to attend the 2019 NACo Legislative Conference on March 2 through March 6, 2019, for an approximate total of $2502.

On November 27, 2018, the board approved travel for two board members to attend the 2019 NACo Legislative Conference on March 2 through March 6, 2019, for an approximate total of $5010.

On December 11, 2018, the board approved travel for a board member to attend the 2019 NACo Legislative Conference on March 2 through March 6, 2019, for an approximate total of $2502.

The current amount approved for the board members travel for 2019 is $11,590.

Discussion took place during the March 26th meeting regarding travel. One board member boasted that “you don’t pay for my travel expenses, the Illinois Association of Counties does.”  The county pays dues from tax dollars collected to the Illinois Association of Counties in the amount of  $27,000 each year. The taxpayer is most certainly paying for the board members travel expenses.  Many of the board members questioned the need to send yet another member to another NACo Conference after four just returned from a conference earlier this month. Mary Ozog questioned the travel policy. Some of her suggestions for a new policy would include limit the amount of travel, rotate members attendance, all members must be notified of upcoming conferences and a report must be given to the board. I agree with Mary Ozog.

I look forward to working on an updated travel policy that is fair to the board members and the taxpayer.

Is this the biggest expense the county has? No. Is it important to discuss? Absolutely. It is important that the board be willing to discuss all matters in an open and honest manner.

You can watch the board meeting using the provided link here.  

 

DuPage County Board Member Mary Ozog discussing travel expenses

DuPage County Board Member Liz Chaplin discussing travel expenses

 

 

On this day we celebrate a man who brought hope to America. He brought hope to America by example of his courage, character and compassion. A peaceful man. A man who believed in justice for all, fairness for all and opportunity for all. A good and decent man who spoke about the power love rather than hate. Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

 

Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech August 28, 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check; a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?”

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our chlidren are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for whites only.”

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exhalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

American History From Revolution to Reconstruction and Beyond

DuPage County Warming Centers

If you need shelter during the extreme temperatures warming centers are opened throughout DuPage County.  You can call 800.942.9412 or you can find the complete list of centers here.

Kaczmarek Makes Pledge That Future Payments of Election Judges Will Be More Timely

“As my first official act after assuming responsibility of elections, I pledge my commitment that future payments to election judges will be more timely,” said Kaczmarek, a Glen Ellyn Democrat.

The Daily Herald, Robert Sanchez,  reports the Following:

The checks finally are in the mail for more than 2,000 DuPage County election judges who have been waiting to be paid since November.

County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek said Friday she was “disappointed” to learn checks weren’t mailed until Thursday for judges who worked the fall election — and now that she oversees the election process, she pledged such delays won’t happen again.

The county board on Tuesday dissolved the long-troubled election commission and transferred its functions to the clerk’s office.

“As my first official act after assuming responsibility of elections, I pledge my commitment that future payments to election judges will be more timely,” said Kaczmarek, a Glen Ellyn Democrat.

Kaczmarek said she has served as an election judge in recent years, including during early voting and as a technical judge.

“I know firsthand that the day is long and the work is hard,” she said. “Judges deserve to be paid promptly.”

You can read the full story here.

Do You Need Assistance? Downers Grove Area FISH Food Pantry Can Help

The Downers Grove Area FISH Food Pantry and Clothes Closet helps over 200 families in Downers Grove, Westmont and Lisle each month.

Federal Employees affected by the government shutdown are welcome.

FISH is open on Monday and Friday mornings from 9:00 to 11:00 AM.

Personal ID and proof of residency such as utility bill are required.

You can learn more at www.downersgrovefish.org

4340 Prince St, Downers Grove, Il

(lower level of the Downers Grove Township Building)

 

 

And So It Begins

Not even 24 hours after the DuPage County Election Commission was dissolved I have received a legitimate concern from a constituent about the hasty decision made by the DuPage County Board regarding the DuPage Election Commission. A constituent sent an email with concerns that on Monday, January 14th they had filed an appeal in the DuPage County Circuit Court of a written administrative decision that was rendered by the DuPage County Election Commission on Friday, Jan 11, 2019.

My constitute learned on Tuesday that the DuPage County Election Commission was dissolved with the appeal case pending. My constituent is very unhappy and disappointed by the actions of the DuPage County Board. My constituent feels their legal case is now in the middle of a political football game.  I agree. The DuPage County Board with a split vote of 11-7 Republicans voting in favor, Democrats opposed, dissolved the DuPage County Election Commission and the duties of the election commission were assigned to the Clerk’s office with no transition plan in place.

When the Clerk’s office was stripped of the electoral process in October 1973 the DuPage County Board had the wisdom and understanding that there needed to be a transition period.  The Election Commission was not formed until January 24, 1974, leaving a 3 month period to transition.

Imagine if we just “dissolve” the DuPage Water Commission or the DuPage Airport Authority with no transition period or plans in place.

 

 

 

 

DuPage County Board Meeting Recap from January 15, 2019

“It’s not fair to whoever the county clerk is to say, ‘Fix it in one month and get a whole new system up and running,'” said Hinds, who spent 18 years working for the clerk’s office before being elected in 2014.

He said it’s “probably better” to hold off on the transition until after the spring election.

Hinds and Kaczmarek both say DuPage’s structure for running elections has been in place for decades, so waiting a few extra months isn’t going to make much of a difference.” September 25, 2018, The Daily Herald

Ignoring the recommendations of Paul Hinds and Jean Kaczmarek, members of the public and staff the Republicans on the DuPage County Board voted to merge the election commission with the clerk’s office immediately instead of after the municipal elections. Today’s vote makes things more difficult for Clerk Kaczmarek but I have complete confidence in Clerk Kaczmarek’s ability to make sure the job is done right.

For years 14 years Jean has made good recommendations of how to improve elections in DuPage, applied to be on the Election Commission board and tried to remove politics from the electoral process.  It was clear that this was a retaliation vote made by the Republican members based on Jean’s years of activism. Yesterday the Republican board members put partisan politics ahead of good governance.

Members of the Public at the DuPage County Board Meeting

Clerk Kaczmarek During the meeting of the DuPage County Board

Members of the board debating the Election Commission merger

Members of the board debating the Election Commission merger

 

On the bright side, there will be another chance for the board to work in a bi-partisan manner. Chairman Cronin announced yesterday that he will be bringing forward a Responsible Bidder Ordinance. The Responsible Bidder Ordinance allows a public body’s procurement codes to specify certain criteria that a contractor must meet in order to be eligible to perform work. The resolution could include proper business registrations, show past compliance with environmental, labor and safety laws, relevant insurance coverage, prevailing wage compliance and training such as apprenticeship programs. In the long run, the Responsible Bidder Ordinance saves the taxpayer money by providing good quality construction.

 

Chairman Cronin presiding over DuPage County Board meeting

 

Last Saturday the members of the DuPage County Board had the opportunity to meet U.S. Representative Sean Casten to discuss the Federal government shutdown. Also present at the meeting were local, county and state government human-service providers.

We heard about the devastating effects the government shutdown is having on organizations such as the YWCA, food assistance providers, traffic controllers, health service providers, domestic violence centers and immigration assistance groups to name a few. There is no one at the IRS to answer tax questions.

There are federal government employees that live in DuPage County that have missed their first paycheck.

Local government provides many services to the most vulnerable in our county. The shutdown is causing unnecessary stress and concern to this population.

The DuPage County Board represents just shy of one million people. We are larger than some states. During yesterdays county board meeting I asked Chairman Cronin to issue a statement or letter on behalf of our residents that would strongly encourage our representatives in Washington D.C. to seek an immediate end to the government shutdown.

 

U.S. Representative Sean Casten with members of the DuPage County Board

 

You can read the Daily Herald Coverage here.

You can watch the video here.