Local Interest

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. 



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.



by Local Yocal


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.



by Local Yocal

URBANA- In a recent case against a U of I football staff member, crime reporter for The News-Gazette, Mary Schenk, may have finally gone too far.

Candidate David Green's Democratic Dinner Speech

Democratic Candidate for Congress in the 13th District, David Green, delivered this speech below on Oct. 20, 2013. The question now is will the other 2 candidates for the March 18th primary be willing to debate Green.

"My campaign invokes FDR’s New Deal and the Occupy movement of the 99%; it is rooted in the idea that the idleness of those who want to work is unnecessary and is to nobody’s benefit; that we are a rich country that must choose not to have poor people and especially poor children; and that there is enough for everyone, and that it is the right of everyone to have enough. It is a campaign of analysis, ideas, compassion, and vision.

My campaign is also in opposition to U.S.-driven predatory global capitalism and the immoral wars needed to maintain an unjust and class-driven system of radical inequality, increased poverty, and species-threatening climate change, all while recklessly flirting with the threat of nuclear war.

UCIMC Seeking Applicants for Full Time Operations Director Position

Full time with benefits.
Application Deadline: Sunday, December 1, 2013 to chyn@ucimc.org

Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center
202 S. Broadway Ave. Urbana 61801

www.ucimc.org • (217) 344-8820

Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (UCIMC), a local grassroots organization committed to using media production and distribution as tools for promoting social and economic justice in the Champaign County area, seeks a permanent, full-time Operations Director.

We are seeking a person with a commitment to social justice, strong customer service and communication skills, with an attention to detail. 

Gay Marriage Comes to Illinois: It's Your Choice, Starting June 1

Press reports indicate that the bill to approve gay marriage in Illinois has now passed both the State House and Senate. It is now on it's way to Gov. Quinn's desk, who has said he will sign it. Marriage begins for all next June 1. Congratualtions to all who've worked so long to demand equal treatment before the law for all, no matter who they love!


Illinois Sends Bill Allowing Gay Marriage to Governor

by Monica Davey and Steve Yaccino

The Illinois House of Representatives voted Tuesday to allow same-sex couples to wed, ending months of delay over the issue in the Capitol and clearing the way for Illinois to become the 15th state, along with the District of Columbia, to permit gay couples to marry.

The vote was 61 to 54, mostly along partisan lines, with only three Republicans voting yes. Eleven Democrats voted no, and two voted present.

ILL POETS SOCIETY vol II: The Aaron Ammons Project

Dr. Raymond Morales is teaming up with prolific poet Aaron Ammons aka Brother A-Dub to produce a 19 track Spoken Word album featuring some of the best performers from S.P.E.A.K. Café and beyond.

Victory! County Votes More Money for Prevention None for More Jail Cells

After a year and a half of grassroots organizing by the No More Jails Campaign of CU Citizens for Peace and Justice, Champaign County has realized a major victory in local and national efforts to move away from incarceration and towards healing and restoring our communities.
Here is their statement:

Illinois: Pro-Coal Kids' Pages Pulled from Government Site as Public Pressure Increases

Two sections that essentially told kids that coal was safe and good for the environment disappeared today from the website of a state agency in Illinois.

by Jeff Biggers

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has removed coal-related educational sections from its website, less than two weeks after the launch of a grassroots campaign demanding that the pages be taken down.

The website sections were supposed to educate children about energy, but had been widely denounced because they focused on misleading pro-coal messages.

Carol Ammons Announces Candidacy for 103rd District

On Tuesday, October 1, 2013, Carol Ammons announced her candidacy for the 103rd District of the Illinois House of Representatives. The seat has become open since Naomi Jakobsson announced her retirement. Ammons has a long track record as a local service provider and community organizer. She is co-founder of CU Citizens for Peace and Justice. She has served on the Champaign County Board and is currently a member of the Urbana City Council. She recently resigned as Operations Manager of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center.

Below is a speech she gave in front of the Lincoln statue in Carle Park in Urbana.


“Drug Wars Assault on Justice – a talk with Pete Guither” Sunday, Oct 6, 4pm, Normal, IL

“Spring Awakening” is up and running (through Oct 5) and consuming most of my time, so little posting here. But you guys in comments have been doing an amazing job keeping it going.

On October 6, I will be giving a major presentation:

“Drug Wars Assault on Justice – a talk with Pete Guither”

Sunday, October 6 at 4:00 pm
Hanson Student Center
Illinois Wesleyan University
Bloomington, IL

IMC Guest Artist Program Taking Applications until Friday, Oct. 4th

The Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center Foundation is seeking applications for its IMC Guest Artist program. Applications are due Friday October 4, 2013 to chyn@ucimc.org or submit to IMC staff. The goal of the program is to provide an artist space, community, and motivation to work while enriching the community through engagement with art. Artwork includes visual art, music, writing, performance, and conceptual work. The program runs 3 months from October 15, 2013 – January 15, 2014.

The IMC Guest Artist is provided with:

  • A Private studio space (180 SF with natural light) attached to a larger shared teaching/workshop space.
  • Limited access to other spaces for rehearsals, workshops, or meetings related to one’s work.

The IMC Guest Artist is expected to:

LNAC Letter Supporting Alternatives to Jail

Mr. Chris Alix and Mr. James Quisenberry                         August 14, 2013
Champaign County Board
1776 E. Washington St.
Urbana, IL  61802

Dear Sirs,

On February 20th of this year, several members of the Lierman Neighborhood Action Committee met with you and Mr. Kalmanoff, the Champaign County Board’s consultant on jail-related issues. Our aim was to add the concerns of residents living in closest proximity to the jail to the mix of voices bringing information and ideas to the County.

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