Local Interest

Passerine Stops in Urbana on Third U.S. Tour

On Tuesday, Aug. 5, Florida folk and Americana band Passerine lands in Urbana, IL, to perform at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center. Show starts at 7:30pm. Admission is $5-10 sliding scale.

Dozens show up to learn how to create their own media at the IMC's imMEDIAte Justice Workshop

Dozens from Illinois Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, CU Immigration Forum, CU Citizens for Peace and Justice, Citizens with Conviction and other groups working for social justice in Champaign Urbana, gathered for an all-day workshop to learn media production. 

In the IMC's newly created computer training classroom, participants used Audacity, free audio production software, to make short audio pieces.

DJ BJ showed people the ropes using the board in the WRFU 104.5 FM studio. Participants tried their hand speaking on air, then walked outside to view the 100 foot radio tower which broadcasted their message to all of Urbana, Champaign, and Savoy - all with 100 watts, or the power of a lightbulb.

ASA Gives D Grade to Illinois Medical Marijuana Law

Americans for Safe Access, the national medical marijuana patient's right organization has just released a national compilation of its evaluation of state medical marijuana laws. Although Illinois had a MMJ provision in its cannabis laws since the late 1970s, it was never more than a bit of window dressing and totally ineffective in protecting patients from prosecutors bent on running up their conviction rates. They simply ignored that part of the law, while prosecuting patients under the provisions of the law they are personally inclined to enforce.

That changed in 2013 when after years of trying, Illinois passed and Governor Quinn signed a MMJ law. While a small advance from the dreadful status patients faced previously, it is struggling to get off the ground, with significant doubts as to its ability to create improved access for patients, supply their needs at a reasonable cost, and prevent law enforcement abuse of patients.

ASA summarizes the current situation like this:

Serial School Privatizer "Chainsaw Paul" Vallas Gets Ready For His Next Job, IL Lt. Governor

After savaging public education in Chicago, Philly, New Orleans and Bridgeport, Vallas has been summoned home to Illinois by the Democrat governor as his running mate.

by Bruce Dixon

There are many things upon which elite corporate Democrats are in complete agreement with elite corporate Republicans. Often enough they are far more important to the way we live our lives than the cultural rhetoric and stylistic fluff that separates the two parties. Both Republicans and Democrats agree on empire and the wars needed to preserve it. They both agree gentrification, stadiums, and tax breaks for the wealthy are the only way to economically develop cities. They both know that poor and working people ought to subsidize a new round of predatory accumulation with lowered wages, plundered pensions, fiscal austerity and the privatization of public education.

A PROPOSAL TO REDUCE DUI BY 50%

A PROPOSAL TO REDUCE DUI BY 50%

10 THINGS CITIZENS CAN DO TO IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT

10 THINGS CITIZENS CAN DO TO IMPROVE CITIZENS/POLICE RELATIONS

10 WAYS LAW ENFORCEMENT COULD IMPROVE CITIZEN RELATIONS

10 THINGS LAW ENFORCEMENT CAN DO TO IMPROVE CITIZEN-POLICE RELATIONS:
 
1) End the Drug War now. No one should be arrested or prosecuted for possession
or selling any recreational intoxicant to a consenting adult. Disband all narcotic units,
release all prisoners who are currently incarcerated for drug possession and drug selling,
and expunge all criminal records of everyone whoever suffered under this hypocritical, draconian and ineffective policy for the last 40 years. 
 
2) Publish the pictures, names, and badge numbers of all officers; and post this
listing in the lobby of the Champaign Police Department, the lobby of the public
safety building at the U of I and the sheriff's office or courthouse, like is done over at Urbana's 
municipal building. Police officers are government employees and, like politicians, have no reasonable expectation to "employee privacy." (residency exempted, of course.)

Study released on handling of minor marijuana cases in Illinois

Marijuana possession arrests are down 32% in Urbana, but justice in the rest of the county and across the state is very uneven.

by ICDP/Roosevelt University

Illinois is one of the least friendly places in the nation for those caught possessing small amounts of marijuana, a new study by Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy suggests.

An emphasis on misdemeanor arrests for possession and a lack of consistency in implementing local pot-ticket laws typify how cases involving small amounts of marijuana possession frequently are handled in Illinois, according to the report that looks at misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests vs. tickets.

Illinois ranked fifth in the nation for the number of marijuana arrests made in 2010, and the state ranked first in the country for its high proportion of marijuana possession arrests vs. marijuana sales/distribution arrests. A whopping 98.7 percent of marijuana arrests in Illinois were cases involving simple possession, according to the study.

Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice Stands in Solidarity with James Kilgore.

As a grassroots movement  working to address racial, gender, and economic injustices produced by our local criminal justice system, we have made one of our main efforts in recent years the prevention of new jail construction and the mass-incarceration mindset that goes along with it. Our ongoing effort has had remarkable success, thanks in great part to the tireless work and vision of fellow CUCPJ member James Kilgore.

In February 2014, a local right wing newspaper launched an attack against Dr. Kilgore, reporting as if it was news on his criminal background and political activities in the 1970s and questioning whether the University of Illinois―where he currently teaches―should employ him. Although in March a spokesperson for the University made a statement in support of Dr. Kilgore, in April in a private meeting with the University provost, James was informed without explanation that the University would not approve any future employment contracts with him.

May 3-14: Pete Seeger Events Provoke Memory of 1958 Concert

A series of May Day events is taking place May 3 to May 14 celebrating the life of legendary folk singer, banjo player, and political activist Pete Seeger, who passed away in January. After a flyer for the event was circulated, my friend Barbara Kessel emailed me about her recollection of Pete Seeger’s 1958 visit to the University of Illinois when he was banned from performing on campus during the red scare. The incident is a reminder of how widespread the blacklist was, even reaching this Midwestern college town. As the civil rights movement was gaining momentum and “the sixties” were just around the corner, Barbara recalled a “new world” opened up to her that night.  

Bob McChesney speaks at the IMC on the history and future of the internet

Dr. Robert M. McChesney, Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, spoke to a crowd of people at the IMC Tuesday night. (Click on the whole story to view video).

Poll: Over 60% of Illinois Voters Support Marijuana Decriminalization

 

Supporters call on members of the House of Representatives to pass bills approved last week by the House Restorative Justice Committee that would replace criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois with a non-criminal fine

By Marijuana Policy Project
[Note: Urbana provides a decrim option to its police, but this bill would make a much-needed, clear-cut break with past policy by removing all criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis in every Illinois jusrisdiction.]

CHICAGO, IL — Supporters of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois released the results of a statewide poll showing strong support for such legislation. The Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee approved the bill last week, and supporters are now calling on members of the House to approve the proposal.

Ammons Whips Mike Madigan's Money -- and Sam Rosenberg

News reports indicate that Carol Ammons -- and the mass of motivated citizenry supporting her -- has won the 103rd State Representative Democratic Primary when ballots were counted this evening. This hard fought victory against the Madigan machine came about despite the fact that Madigan spent roughly $100,000 more than the Ammons campaign was able to. The difference was people. People on the street. People door to door. People calling, emailing and messaging.

Is there hope for a Democratic Party that represents the people of Illiinois, rather than a weak alternative to Republicanism? There is now. The people of Illinois demand better.

Will Illinois Coal Rush Spread West Virginia Disasters?

by Jeff Biggers

When besieged residents, already choked by toxic coal dust, face off with Peabody Energy officials on Tuesday, February 18, in Harrisburg, at an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency hearing for a five-year strip mine expansion permit, more than 1,019 paltry acres will be at stake.

As President Lincoln once invoked in a moment of crisis, the courageous residents in the showdown at Cottage Grove are "our last best hope."

“The True Cost of Coal” Artwork by the Beehive Design Collective

Innovative and detailed graphic is a visual exploration of the life cycle of coal as an energy source; artists will tie artwork to local energy issues in Central Illinois.

WHAT: One day exhibit of Beehive Design Collective work entitled “The True Cost of Coal,” including an artist-led discussion of the piece.

Two years in the making, “The True Cost of Coal” is an elaborate narrative illustration that explores the complex story of mountaintop removal coal mining and the broader impacts of coal in Appalachia and beyond. The image is the culmination of an intensive and collaborative research process, as the Beehive Design Collective methodology centers on first hand story-sharing. To create the poster, the Beehive interviewed hundreds of community members throughout the Appalachia region. These exchanges of inspiration and information were collaboratively woven together into a tapestry of hand-illustrated graphics, designed to strengthen and support genuine dialogue, critical reflection, and strategic action in defense of the Appalachians Mountains and the cultural and biological diversity they nurture.

A Reflection on the No More Jails Campaign in Champaign County

By James Kilgore, Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice

When we began our campaign to stop jail construction in Champaign County in early 2012, I thought we were doomed.  The grand plan to spend $20 million on this project seemed like a done deaI. The Sheriff was driving the initiative; the leading lights in the County Board seemed to think jail construction was the only prudent course. Yet, nearly two years later we have a very different scenario. The 2014 budget for Champaign County doesn’t include a single cent for jail construction. In fact, the county has allocated more than $200,000 in new money for social programs aimed at keeping people out of jail.  In a county of slightly more than 200,000 residents, this is an important start.

How did this happen?  The answer is simple- a campaign of ordinary people, led by a core from the Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice (CUCPJ), turned the situation around. This campaign is proof that action by people at the grassroots level can make a difference.

All Out A Cappella

The annual a cappella benefit concert at Unity High School in Tolono will be held Saturday, February 22 with two shows at 5 and 8 p.m. Both All Out A Cappella shows include performances by groups from the University of Illinois, Illinois State University and Unity High School!
 
The evening will provide entertainment for the entire family. General admission tickets to each show are $14 for adults and $7 for students. Doors open at 4:30 for the 5 p.m. concert and 7:30 for the 8 p.m. concert. The event is sponsored by Unity Music Boosters with all proceeds going toward enhancing music in Unit 7 schools. Tickets are available from Unity High School music students, members of Unity Music Boosters, and at the Unity High School and Junior High offices. To purchase tickets online, visit www.unitymusicboosters.org. CDs will be sold by the a cappella groups following each concert. 

MASTERPIECE POLITICAL THEATER

MASTERPIECE POLITICAL THEATER

by Local Yocal 

SPRINGFIELD- The uproar here in this university town is fairly consistent in its understanding of what the recent passage of pension reform means: it diminishes and impairs pension benefits for state employees. While few of us who have had our food stamps cut, or will have our unemployment benefits withdrawn, or suffer the indignities of earning restaurant or Walmart pay, can ever feel sorry for these people; it is noteworthy to watch the middle class cry foul when they too are betrayed by their government.

This may be overcynical here, but it seems Speaker At-It-Again knows darn well this legislation violates the Constitution. Unknown is how the justices who will rule on the lawsuits to follow Tuesday's vote, can weasel around this language. Then again, we've seen a mandate to buy health insurance become "a new tax," so anything can happen.

THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

by Local Yocal

20131201-013210-pic-648823368.jpg

Photo by John Dixon/News-Gazette

CHAMPAIGN- In a recent News-Gazette article, City of Champaign Planning and Development Director Bruce Knight and Champaign County Economic Development Corporation Deputy Director Eric Kotewa both lamented how difficult it is to attract new business into old abandoned spaces. Left to sit, properties become hazardous eye sores draining the economy. In addition, the city of Champaign already has too much un-used office and retail space nobody wants. Most start-ups and national franchises want fresh properties built-to-suit on the fringes of town, rather than configure into what is already available.

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