- About Us
- Get Involved
- Our Projects
- Affiliated Projects
- Support Us
- Our Building
CHAMPAIGN- On April 1, 2010, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D) paid a quick visit to the Illinois Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall to speak about jobs, health care, and FutureGen, a coal project in Illinois.
Senator Durbin said he finds it "inexcusable and unacceptable" that wages have gone down when worker productivity is at an all-time high. He touted the new healthcare bill that recently passed saying that is it "good for everybody." And he fueled hopes that FutureGen, a proposed coal-fueled power plant with near zero-emissions, is still a possibility for Mattoon, Illinois.
Of particular interest to Indymedia fans was Durbin's renewed support for the Local Community Radio Act, a bill pending in the Senate that would open the airwaves for hundreds of new non-commercial stations across the country, bringing low power radio to urban areas for the first time.
"I want to create as many options for information" said Durbin. "I’m for diversity, I’m for more information ... I want to hear both sides of the story," he added. Durbin quipped that he often tires of public places broadcasting Fox News constantly, "‘Could you put anything other than Fox on that TV?" joked Durbin.
Durbin is a cosponsor of the Local Community Radio Act. Illinois advocates are calling on Durbin to ensure that the bill, which passed the House last December, passes the Senate this congressional session. WRFU was one of the lucky stations in Illinois that received a license in 2003. Other Illinois groups were unable to get broadcast licenses when Congress cowed to the big broadcasters. But the Local Community Radio Act will change that, opening up the airwaves for hundreds of Illinois non-profits, churches, cities, and schools to receive licenses.
On healthcare, Durbin praised the new program for three key items: 1) it covers 30 million people who had no health insurance before, 2) there will be no more cancellation of policies or discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, 3) it will fund Medicare for an additional 10 years. "This President said he was going to take a hit and get this done. To me that exemplifies true leadership," Durbin said, praising President Obama for the bill's passage.
When asked, Durbin didn't indicate a position on the Olympia Drive project, a road completion project that has been recently debated before both city councils. $8 million in federal dollars are still needed for project. The local economic development and construction trades communities largely in support the project, but some criticize the proposal for taking away valuable farmland.
Durbin did say that approximately $38 million of federal stimulus money has been channeled directly to Champaign County. The senator said there is more work to be done from the recession of 2008, "We're recovered when people are back to work," Durbin explained. Durbin said he'd like to see more federal investment in highway projects and expanding more low-interest loans to small businesses. Durbin was critical, however, of the "too big too fail" concept that drove much of the $787 billion stimulus package.
Durbin was asked about a bill he co-sponsored that recently passed in the senate reducing the sentencing disparity between powder cocaine and crack cocaine. Durbin said the crack cocaine scare of the early 90's created some bad policies that have caused too many African-Americans to go to prison on possession charges. Durbin praised the new legislation for ending mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, and reducing the severity of punishments for crack cocaine, which has seen longer sentences than those for powder cocaine.