Kankakee We Are One Video – Part 3

Kankakee alderman Steven Hunter introduces pastor Vincent Clark at the We Are One event held in Kankakee on April 4, 2011. Mr. Clark reads Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I’ve Been To The Mountaintop” speech.

Dr. King originally gave the speech on April 3, 1968. He was assassinated the next day.

New lawmakers tour local prisons – Pontiac, IL – Pontiac Daily Leader

Illinois Senator Shane Cultra followed in the footsteps of his predecessor Wednesday when he organized a tour of Livingston County’s two prisons for freshmen legislators.

Cultra, R-Onarga, who as a state representative was appointed to fill the Senate seat left by Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford following the November election, said he organized the tour because he felt it was an important ritual Rutherford had in place.

“Dan gave this tour every two years to new legislators and I took it six years ago when I was a representative,” Cultra said following the tours of Pontiac and Dwight correctional centers.

“Every new legislator has to deal with budgetary matters and it is important for them to see how the Department of Corrections works,” Cultra said.

Joining him on the tour were Sen. Mike Noland, D-Elgin, Sen. Christine Johnson, R-Shabbona, Rep. Pam Roth, R-Morris, Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, and Dara Brockmeyer, representing the office of State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington.

“Several members had to cancel this tour, but hopefully I’ll do this again in two years. I’m sure the redistricting map will mean lots of new legislators for this tour.”

Cultra said group members who went Wednesday were very impressed with the two wardens, Guy Pierce at Pontiac and Sheryl Thompson at Dwight.

Cultra noted on his previous tour, other prison administrators talked to the group, but on Wednesday, “both wardens took us around and were very professional,” he said. “Their knowledge and professionalism, especially working under considerable financial straits, was impressive. They have got their acts together in how they run their (respective) prisons and the programs they have in place.”

The senator said Pierce explained the new programs recently put in place at Pontiac prison including ones to help upcoming parolees adjust out of prison and an incentive for Tamms prisoners to come to Pontiac.

“Inmates know that if they are sent to Tamms, they stay at Tamms and DOC decided to put in an incentive for better behavior with a step program. They have good behavior and they can eventually earn a step to Pontiac. The warden explained that the former Death Row cells would be used for these inmates. Once at Pontiac, continued good behavior can earns steps of added privileges,” Cultra said.

“At Dwight, it was interesting to see the canine programs and they are starting a hospice program where inmates are learning to help other inmates who are terminally ill,” he said. “Other prison officials are now coming to Dwight to look at the pilot hospice program.”

Cultra noted that each facility took between 90 minutes and two hours to tour.

“The group members were greatly surprised to see the differences between Pontiac and Dwight prisons. Pontiac has lots of functional buildings and inmate movement is very limited and inmates are shackled whenever they do move. Then at Dwight there is much more movement and the buildings have that old-world beauty, if you can describe a prison as having beauty,” he added.

“Dwight just has a better feel. Pontiac, despite all the safety measures, feels a little scary,” Cultra added.

Read the full article here: New lawmakers tour local prisons – Pontiac, IL – Pontiac Daily Leader.

Prisoners help Japan victims – WJBC – The Voice of Central Illinois

The warden of the Pontiac Correctional Center has announced that over $1,000 was collected at the prison, to help children affected by the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

Officials from the Illinois Department of Corrections say the men incarcerated at the prison wanted to do something to help the estimated 74,000 children devastated by the disasters.

Warden Guy Pierce says the inmates volunteered to donate their own funds that they have earned by working within the prison walls. The “Save the Children” emergency relief fund is based on Connecticut and was pleased to hear that the Pontiac prison chose to donate to the cause.

via Prisoners help Japan victims – WJBC – The Voice of Central Illinois.

Kankakee We Are One Video – Part 2

Theodis Pace talks at the We Are One event held in Kankakee on April 4, 2011.

Pantagraph.com | News from Associated Press

Illinois should create a second, lower-cost retirement plan for government employees, even if it triggers a legal battle, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford said Tuesday.

The Republican said current employees should have a choice between the existing plan, which guarantees certain retirement benefits, and a new 401(k)-style investment plan. He said offering a new option would not run afoul of the state constitution, which bars cutting retiree benefits.

“It should be litigated. For years and years, we’ve been, `Oh, it’s unconstitutional.’ Litigate it,” Rutherford said at a news conference. “Because until we do it, nobody is going to really know.”

A major union said the idea wouldn’t raise the same “constitutional red flags” as simply reducing benefits. Some government employees, such as university officials, already have that pension choice, said a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

But spokesman Anders Lindall said AFSCME opposes Rutherford’s proposal. He said it wouldn’t fix the state’s pension problems – particularly state government’s failure to contribute its full share of retirement costs over the years.

The gap between pension’s long-term costs and their current assets is about $79 billion.

“It was politicians for the last many years – a time that Dan Rutherford was in the state Senate – who failed to pay what the state owes,” Lindall said.

Read the full article here: Pantagraph.com | News from Associated Press.

Kankakee We Are One Video – Part 1

Taken April 4, 2011. In this part Mike Quigley gives the invocation after which Gary Ciaccio speaks.

ThinkProgress » Scott Walker Admits Union-Busting Provision ‘Doesn’t Save Any’ Money For The State Of Wisconsin

Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform called Govs. Scott Walker (R-WI) and Peter Shumlin (D-VT) to testify in a hearing titled “State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead.” Much of the hearing was spent probing Wisconsin’s spate of anti-union restrictions it recently passed.

At one point, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) confronted Walker about his crackdown on public employee unions. The congressman referenced a provision Walker signed into law that would require union members to vote every year to continue their membership. Kucinich asked the governor how much money the state would save from the provision. Walker repeatedly dodged the question and eventually admitted that it actually wouldn’t save anything at all.

Kucinich then asked Walker how much money would be saved by barring union dues from being drawn from employee paychecks, another provision of Walker’s legislation. Walker claimed that it would save workers money, but was unable to explain how it would save the state any money. Kucinich then produced a document from the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state’s equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office, that concluded that Walker’s measures were “nonfiscal” — meaning they had no impact on the state’s finances. Kucinich asked that the letter be included in the public record, but Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) refused:

Walker’s admission is crucial because he had long claimed that his anti-union “budget repair bill” was designed to save the state money, not bust unions. But his words today echo those of Wisconsin state senate leader Scott Fitzgerald (R), who last month effectively admitted that the union fights are not about budgetary issues, but rather about winning the next election by depleting the ranks of organized labor.
via ThinkProgress » Scott Walker Admits Union-Busting Provision ‘Doesn’t Save Any’ Money For The State Of Wisconsin.

WI Gov. Walker Admits Killing Collective Bargaining Doesn’t Save Money

“Kucinich asked Walker to explain how much money his provision saves for Wisconsin’s state budget.

“We gave workers the right to choose, which is a fundamental American right, the right to choose whether they want to be part of a union,” replied Walker.

Kucinich pressed the question again, on how much money the provision saves.

“This particular part doesn’t save any,” replied Walker.”

Governor Walker does have a valid point here. American workers should have a right to choose whether they want to be a part of a union. So where is his bill that would allow non-union employees to vote annually on whether they want to join a union? Is it somewhere in the bill that mandates annual certification for union employees? Is he going to propose a new card-check bill in the state legislature? Somehow, I doubt it.

Contrary to what he’s said, everything he’s done so far has been about making sure that American workers don’t have their fundamental right to join a union.

via State Headlines From Wisconsin Public Radio, April 15 | Ashland Current.

AFSCME Council 31 Summer School

AFSCME Council 31 Summer School

Date Jul 31, 2011 – Aug 5, 2011

Location Scool of Labor and Employment Relations, Wagner Education Center, 504 E. Armory Ave. Champaign

Sponsor Labor Education Program

Contact Labor Education Program Office

Phone 217-333-0980

Only open to AFSCME.

via LER Calendar: AFSCME Council 31 Summer School.

Illinois Government Workers; We’re not Wisconsin! « CBS St. Louis

The push to shrink budgets and lower deficits have Illinois government union employees worried. Workers and teachers have been on a week-long, statewide series of rallies in Illinois to voice their opposition to legislation that limits collective bargaining:

State workers and teachers have staged a week-long, statewide series of rallies to voice their opposition to legislation that limits collective bargaining for state employees. Hundreds were in Springfield Thursday, where Jeff Bigelow, regional director of AFSCME Council 31, said bills in the Illinois legislature are starting to mirror what’s happening in neighboring states.

“These bills both for education employees and state employees are representative of exactly what’s happening in Wisconsin, exactly what’s happening in Ohio, exactly what’s happening in Indiana,” said Bigelow. “And we’re not going to put up with it.”

State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) is sponsoring a bill that would limit whether certain state management positions can be part of collective bargaining units. She says petitions with the state labor relation board would put too many people in the governor’s office in collective bargaining units.

Read the full article here: Illinois Government Workers; We’re not Wisconsin! « CBS St. Louis.