THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS

THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS
OF
McL EAN COUNT Y
In this Issue:
President’s Letter
Year-End Roundup
Observer Team
Looking Ahead
Annual Dinner Photos
Annual Meeting Documentation
p. 2
p. 3
p. 4
p. 5
p. 6
p. 8
Of McLean County
Vol. 81 No. 8
May 2015
Save the Date:
The Voter of LWV of McLean Co.
is published 8 times a year
Official address of the League
of Women Voters:
1918 Owens Drive
Bloomington, IL 61701
309-663-5166
Websites of League of Women Voters:
McLean County www.lwvmclean.org
State of Illinois www.lwvil.org
National www.lwv.org
President
Maureen O’Keefe
309-258-4233
[email protected]
President-Elect
Kathy Nicholson-Tosh
309-530-2050
[email protected]
Membership
Joe Gibson
309-530-7561
[email protected]
Treasurer
Emily Vigneri
309-532-6932
[email protected]
Newsletter
Susan Alford
309-829-1472
[email protected]
YWCA Women of Distinction
Thursday, May 21, 5:30 p.m.


Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, Uptown Normal
Social Hour followed by dinner, speaker and awards at 6:30
Reservations by May 8

The nominees for the 26th annual YWCA Women of Distinction were
announced on April 24. Four League members are among the nominees:
Dr. Laura Berk, Kristin Manzi, Tamika Matthews, and Judy Valente.
We also have 22 League members among the Past Women of
Distinction recipients, including: Dr. Laurie Bergner, Judy Buchanan,
Mary Campbell, Jana Edge, Martha Everman, Laura Furlong, Cheryl
Gaines, Myra Gordon, Marlene Gregor, Dr. Sandra Harmon, Hon. Lee Ann
Hill, Becky Hines, Janet Hood, Janet S. Hood, Karen Major, Judy
Markowitz, Carol Reitan, Hon. Elizabeth Robb, Sally Rudolph, Karen
Schmitt, Barbara Stuart, and Camille Taylor.
The event is $55 per person (before May 8). We would like to get
some League tables together to honor our nominees and past recipients.
Please contact Sally Rudolph at [email protected] or 663-5166
before May 8 if you would like to join us at the League tables.
LWV Annual Meeting
Tuesday, May 26, 7:00 p.m.
 McLean Co. Govt. Center, 115 E. Washington, Bloomington
 2015-16 studies, budget and officers
 Celebrate past accomplishments with Leaguer of the Year
The 2015 Annual Meeting of the League of Women Voters of
McLean County will be held on Tuesday May 26 at 7:00 p.m. We
hope to see you all there.
Documentation to help prepare for the meeting can be found
on pages 8-10 of this issue.
From the Desk of Our President...
Enclosed in this issue of the Voter you’ll find important information to review prior to our
Annual Meeting on May 26: Recommended Program Studies for 2015-16, Program Positions
for 2015-16, and Nominations for 2015-16. This material will be voted upon at the May
meeting. Also, as we approach our Annual Meeting, it’s time to nominate a “Leaguer of the
Year,” an award presented to any League member who our membership feels has gone “above
and beyond” in furthering the mission and values of our League over the past year. If you’d like
to nominate someone for this honor, please send your recommendation to Kathy Tosh, at
[email protected] by May 15.
As we near the end of this League year, we have many reasons to be proud of our
accomplishments. This year we tried some new approaches with our Observer Team and
candidate forums. In the first case, prior to recruiting and training Observers, Glen Ludwig met
with experienced Board members and outgoing Observer Director Camille Taylor to prioritize
who we needed to observe, and more crucially, how we’d go about doing so. As a result, our
League has a highly focused, intentional approach to observing local government in action, and
as we move forward next year, these processes will only be improved upon.
In the case of candidate forums, this spring our Publicity Director Judy Valente-Reynard
helped us forge an excellent partnership with WGLT in organizing and implementing
candidate forums for the Bloomington city and Normal town council elections. We felt this was
a smart approach. We offered citizens an opportunity to attend the forums in person where they
were able to meet and interact with the candidates before and after the forum, but for those
unable to personally attend there was still an opportunity to learn about candidates’ views via the
broadcast on WGLT. We look forward to expanding upon this approach next year.
Our League will remain committed to its focus on local League studies as well. We’re proud
of the Mental Health Services Action Committee led by Judy Buchanan which currently includes
a program delivered locally to keep citizens informed – Mental Health Study: A Roadmap to
Results. A very active Speakers Bureau has already presented the Roadmap to Results program
to nine organizations and church groups, and currently there are an additional 13 presentations
scheduled in upcoming months. In early fall, the Affordable Housing Study will be presenting
its findings at a Consensus Meeting of our general membership.
I’d also like to give a “shout out” to Membership Director Joe Gibson who’s done an
outstanding job this year in helping us grow our membership. In January 2014 our membership
roster included 137 members, and we’re happy to report Joe closed the membership roster in
January 2015 at 166 members – the third largest in the entire state! And we continue to grow
– at last count we are 171 members strong!
Our League also knows how to have fun! We had a successful new membership orientation
last fall, and we plan to repeat this success as we kick off our next League year as well. Dianne
Williamson and her amazing committee have hosted two well-attended and highly engaging
fundraisers this year: the December Wine Tasting event at the McLean County Arts Center and
the Annual Dinner/Silent Auction featuring the Illinois Innocence project.
-Maureen
2
Year-End Roundup
2015 LWV Annual Dinner
What a night!
Speakers Educate, Entertain
Over 100 attendees enjoyed a beautiful evening—
beginning with a tasty buffet, and bidding on the
silent auction. Then the highlight of the evening—
speakers from the Innocence Project at the
University of Illinois Springfield. The Director, staff
attorney, and exoneree were very informative as
they talked about the statistics on wrongful
convictions, and then took us through the process
of working on exonerations and the ‘life after
exoneration issues’.
Our thanks goes out to League members (too
many to list!) and local companies (Casey’s Garden
Shop & Florist, The Chateau, Forget-Me-Not Flowers,
Garlic Press, Heartland Theatre, and Timothy Kent
Gallery & Framing) who donated items to our silent
auction, as well as those who bid so generously to
assist our fundraising. Please remember our donors
by patronizing these wonderful local supporters.
The evening ran so smoothly thanks to my
wonderful Fundraising Committee: Mary Vogel, Pam
Lubeck, Charlette Elm, Kathy Tosh, Maureen
O’Keefe, Tami Foley, and Roxanne Huxford—Thank
you, Thank you, Thank you. Once again, you made it
all happen.
--Dianne Williamson
John Hanlon, Executive Director and Legal Director
of the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of
Illinois Springfield (UIS), began the talk by providing
background information. The United States is
remarkable in that it leads the world in percentage
of population that is incarcerated, and Illinois is
consistently one of the top two states in the number
of wrongful convictions/releases.
The Illinois Innocence Project at UIS began in
2001 with four workers and has now grown to over
50 people including three lawyers. UIS is one of only
two undergraduate colleges in the United States
with an Innocence Project. To date they have won
eight exonerations or releases, six with non-DNA
evidence and two using DNA. Hanlon thanked the
League of Women Voters of McLean County for their
support and praised our efforts in the community,
noting that Springfield does not have a LWV
chapter.
Hanlon then introduced staff attorney Gwen
Jordan who talked about women’s impact on the
criminal justice system over the years, with tales of
the Legal Aid Society in Chicago and later, the first
public defender’s office in Los Angeles. Today, we
can have an impact by supporting the Innocence
Project (http://www.uis.edu/innocenceproject/);
advocating by writing letters to editors and lobbying
legislators; providing support to families; and
sending books and letters to prisoners so they know
they are not alone.
Client Anthony Murray, who spent almost 15
years in prison before he was released, stated that
not everyone in prison is innocent, and told how
God gave him the will to fight. He studied and wrote
petitions for years, and after getting out struggled to
find employment. Now he wants to help other
people when he can. He is working with others to
change his community by decreasing violence and
drugs. “Through belief and hard work,” said Murray,
“comes a brighter future.”
--Susan Alford
Gwen Jordan, Anthony Murray and John Hanlon (l-r)
More Annual Dinner photos on pp. 6-7
3
Strong Finish for Drinks & Dialogue
This season’s final Drinks & Dialogue was one of the
most highly attended as The Immigration Project and
Illinois People’s Action led off the evening’s focus on
immigration issues in B-N. Afterward, many went to
the Normal Theater for a viewing of Documented.
Thanks to all our presenters and those who
attended this year! Look for more Drinks and Dialogue
next year. With your input we will try to continue to
provide stimulating and thought-provoking
discussions!
--Becky Hines & Camille Taylor
Leaguers listen attentively at the April Drinks & Dialogue
Observer Team Explores Decision-Making Practices
in 3 Local Governments by Glen Ludwig
As League members know well, transparency within
government is one of the major priorities for our
organization. This appetite for transparency is
appropriate because the money spent by government
comes from citizens and voters. We have a right to know.
Most would agree that it is reasonable for us to expect
that those elected will make well-informed decisions that
include easy “line of sight” to how government manages
the revenue we provide.
The processes and reporting forms that our observer
teams use include evaluating transparency. When
transparency is at its best within a government body, it is
easy for the public to know where, when and how
decisions are made. Via our observing process in the
last 8 months we have learned that “transparency is not
always at its best”.
In this 8-month period our LWV observers have
evaluated transparency at 54 meetings, on a combined
basis, of our County Board, City of Bloomington, and
Town of Normal. When evaluating transparency, we
typically watch for characteristics such as:
 Is there pre-meeting access to informative
details about issues to be considered?
 Is there active public discussion by those
elected, prior to making decisions?
 Can the public attending a meeting easily gain
some relevant understanding of the issues,
problems and opportunities being considered?
 Does the governing body openly welcome and
seek public input?
 Are the requirements of the Open Meeting and
Freedom of Information Acts regularly and
generously followed?
Regarding the Where, When and How Decisions are
made: too often observer reports note that significant
decisions are unanimously made in meetings, with little
or no discussion occurring. Many times no questions are
asked by those voting. This leads observers to wonder
where and how this unanimity was nurtured. Did
discussion and debate occur somewhere-sometime prior
to the meeting in cozy groups? Did someone discourage
public questions and discussion or tell elected members
how to vote?
We all are aware of the often-flawed politically-driven
decision-making process in both Springfield and in
Washington, DC. Is that also occurring in McLean
County, where only the County Board is officially a
partisan body? I hope not.
But the answer is not easily apparent if decisionmaking lacks sunshine and open public dialog is not
always thriving in the culture of government bodies.
Without question, each of the three governing bodies,
noted above has its unique culture, practices, leadership,
and structure. All have some strong points and all have
opportunities to improve. Which of the three currently is
best from a transparency perspective?
My nod for “first place in transparency” goes to the
Bloomington City Council. Of course, at the BCC there
appears to be a lack of strong teamwork, the shared
vision is foggy at best, and the council has a history of
slow decisions linked to micromanagement. But when
you attend a BCC meeting you can learn something,
based on discussion. The public is comfortable with
speaking up. And the meeting room, while not fancy,
seems to invite public participation. Council members
regularly do outreach to voters. Governance is public,
though admittedly often messy.
If each of the three governments could share, adopt
and use the best practices of the others, citizens could
enjoy both improved transparency and better government
in McLean County. In the long run “slick and swift”
government often carries risk for erosion of transparency.
And transparency is one of the supporting pillars of trust
in government.
4
Looking Ahead
LWV of McLean County
Annual Meeting
LWV of Illinois
57th State Convention
In June, the LWV Illinois Convention will be held in
Lisle/Naperville. Because of our increase in member
numbers we will be sending eight voting delegates
this year – our voice will be even stronger than it was
when we hosted last year’s convention.
Besides voting on state positions and learning
from workshops, attendees from around the state will
recognize outstanding work of local chapters with the
Spotlight on League Achievement, Community Impact
and Carrie Chapman Catt Leadership Awards.
The Carrie Champman Catt Leadership Award,
named for the prominent suffragist and League
founder, is given to a state League member who has
demonstrated outstanding leadership and significant
action toward extending the League’s mission. The
nominee’s efforts should benefit and inspire the
citizens of illinois and promote greater citizen
awareness of public issues and/or wider participation
in the democratic process.
We have two past winners from our local League:
Carol Reitan in 2005 and Laurie Bergner in 2011.
This year our Leauge has nominated Sally
Rudolph for the Carrie Chapman Catt Leadership
Award. Please wish Sally good luck as she prepares
for the convention.
Nominations for Leaguer of the Year
Every year our League honors someone from our
membership who has demonstrated an extrodinarily
high level of comittment to our League (i.e., they’ve
gone above and beyond our expectations in
furthering the values and mission of the League)
earning for their efforts our “Leaguer of the Year”
award. This award will be announced at our Annual
Meeting on May 26.
We are currently accepting nominations for the
Leaguer of the Year Award. If you know someone
you feel meets these criteria, please send your
recommendation to Kathy Tosh at
[email protected] by May 15, 2015.
Thanks to Committees
The Board would like to thank the hardworking
committee members who have toiled to get us ready
for the 2015 Annual Meeting this May:
 Budget Committee: Susan Alford (Chair), Kathy
Tosh, Phylis VerSteegh and Emily Vigneri.
 Nominating Committee: Joe Gibson, Diana
Hauman (Chair),Rose Marsaglia and Kathy Tosh
 Program Committee: Maureen O’Keefe, Sally
Rudolph and Julie Sullivan
LWV and Unit 5: An Opportunity
in being a trusted leader as he deals with the
financial issues facing education in Illinois. I learned
about the committee structure in place at Unit 5,
which helps to explain the frustrations I was
experiencing earlier in identifying how decision
consensus is being achieved within the Unit 5 School
Board.
Dr. Daniel shared with me his plans for organizing
a diversified committee of citizens to provide input for
alternatives to make Unit 5 less dependent on
Springfield while delivering on its mission. He is
currently thinking in terms of recruiting 100 or more
individuals with passion and support for Unit 5 to
work on this effort during the coming year. I think this
large and diverse group may be similar to what is
currently functioning to support the McLean County
---Continued on page 6
On April 24, Glen Ludwig met with the Unit 5
Superintendent and submitted the following report:
I am happy to report that on Friday I had a very
productive hour-long conference with Dr. Mark Daniel,
Superintendent of Unit 5 Schools. This was my first
opportunity to have some in-depth communication
with Dr. Daniel. I was impressed. He is very open,
and although he knows little about the LWV, seemed
to be quite interested in our observing process. We
spent at least 50% of our time discussing his planned
approach for actively engaging the Unit 5 community
to create a better understanding of the financial
stress that is expected in the next several years. Mark
Daniel obviously is a leader who is willing to take on
significant challenges.
Dr. Daniel is a big supporter of transparency in
government and is especially aware of its importance
5
From page 5—
Regional Planning Commission with the Bloomington
Comprehensive plan.
I fully realize that the LWV has many plans and
programs on our plate. But I would hope out of our
170+ members we might find 3-5 individuals to
engage in this important undertaking.
I believe the structure and nature of this process
is still under development. I will maintain contact with
Dr. Daniel as plans are further defined. Just sharing
this with you now, to give you an opportunity for early
consideration.
Thanks, Glen L.
Help Wanted – Event Topics

The LWV’s monthly program events help
fulfill our mission to inform and educate
the community about important issues

Is there an issue you’d like to learn more
about next year? Contact Laurie Bergner
[email protected] Or for Drinks
& Dialogue, send it to Camille Taylor
[email protected] or Becky Hines
[email protected]
Annual Dinner 2015
Gwen Jordan, staff attorney for Illinois Innocence Project
at University of Illinois Springfield (UIS)
Tyrone Block, Anthony Murray, and John Hanlon,
Director of Illinois Innocence Project at UIS
Learning about imprisonment rates
John Hanlon tells of successful releases
6
Kristen Sand, Senna Abjabeng & Rickielee Benecke
Janine Toth, Teri Liston & Joe Gibson
Rachel McManus, Diane Carter & Jim Carter
Leaguers & friends follow the exoneration process
Katie Pratt, Aaron Watson & Emily Vigneri
Mary Anne Schierman, Harold Gregor & Marlene Gregor
7
Annual Meeting Documentation
LEAGUE of WOMEN VOTERS of McLEAN COUNTY
Recommended Program Studies for 2015-16
Study 1. Action Study (Submitted by Jan Hood): Availability of Recreation Facilities for Youth in the
County
A study addressing activity needs for youth in McLean County. The latest Parks and Recreation survey in Normal
shows comments regarding a need for a community center, or perhaps a county center for youth activities. This
has been a need for a long time. There are many smaller places that offer activities for youth, most at a cost.
What about youth who do not have access to these facilities? Where do they go? Recommend League studies
this situation. Outcome: Help the community put together a plan to address the needs for youth. Ensure study
looks at the whole picture to see what can be done to address more opportunities for youth. They need a place to
play.
Recommendation of LWV McLean County Board of Directors: Proceed with study using current local program
position on Public Recreation as basis for the study. This should be treated as an action study.
Study 2. Consensus Study (Submitted by Sally Rudolph): Opportunity to evaluate government operations
for improvements in efficient and economical operations of these entities
A study of McLean County local governments to evaluate the opportunities for improvements in efficient and
economical operations of these governments. Scope: Research the number, functions, types, budgets, funding
sources, and structure of local governments in McLean County; State laws and regulations that impact these
governments’ ability to achieve improvements in efficient and economical operations; options to realize these
opportunities.
Recommendation of LWV McLean County Board of Directors: Proceed with consensus study.
Program Positions for 2015-16 (changes in red italics below)
COUNTY GOVERNMENT (Adopted 2014, retained through 2016)
Administration
League supports:
 Appointment of all administrative personnel;
 Election of all policymakers
County Board
League supports:
 Review of the general structure, procedures, committee structure, districts and size with a view toward
greater transparency, accessibility to the public and more effective communication within the board;
 Production of a five-year strategic plan required of all county department heads, including budget
provisions; presentation of these plans each year to the county board as part of the budget process for
accountability purposes;
 Pursuance of intergovernmental agreements that address the issue of land annexation, including
transferring road maintenance to the annexing body.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FOR McLean COUNTY (Adopted 2005, retained through 2016)
League supports:
 A written plan accompanied by maps;
 Development of community support;
 Preservation of natural resources and prime agricultural land;
 Enforceable land use ordinances.
8
ELECTION COMMISSION (Adopted 2009, retained through 2016)
McLean County should unify its election offices in a County Election Commission.
EMERGENCY HEALTH CARE (Adopted 2004, retained through 2016)
League supports a paramedic service for Bloomington-Normal, funded by a combination of government.
League opposes a separate taxing district or special assessment for paramedic service.
HOME RULE FORM OF GOVERNMENT FOR BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL (Adopted 2004, retained
through 2016)
League strongly supports provisions in the 1970 Illinois Constitution that allow certain local governments to adopt
home rule and opposes any attempt to restrict this option.
JUVENILE JUSTICE/ CHILD WELFARE (Adopted 2000, retained through 2016)
League supports cooperation and coordination among agencies and government officials who work with juveniles.
LIVING WAGE (Adopted 2009, retained through 2016)
League supports a living wage for all City of Bloomington employees.
LOCAL EDUCATION (Adopted 2005, retained through 2016) League supports:





Broadly-based measurement of student achievement by teachers and administrators;
Frequent teacher evaluation by principals or department heads;
A diverse curriculum made possible, if necessary, by an extended school day.
Organization of districts for educational benefits to students, administrative efficiency and economy;
A financial basis for schools in McLean County that can provide a good education for all students.
LOCAL MENTAL HEALTH (Adopted 2000, revised 2014, retained through 2016)
League supports:
 Proactive core leadership, planning, coordination, and collaboration for mental health services in McLean
County
 Funding which is effective to meet the needs for a comprehensive continuum of mental health services in
McLean County
 Cradle to grave mental health services for all individuals in McLean County
OPTIONS FOR JUSTICE (Adopted 2011, retained through 2016)
League endorses:
 Support efforts to maintain a Drug Court Program, Mental Health Court Program, GPS electronic
monitoring, and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and its committees.
 Victim-Offender Mediation, Day Reporting Center, and 24-hour probation reporting kiosk.
PUBLIC HEALTH (Adopted 2004, retained through 2016)
League supports the following:
Financing the McLean County Health Department
 Primary support from the State of Illinois;
 Increase of the current limit on the local county tax level for the Health Department.
Hiring Practices for the Health Department
 State set minimum standards;

Open hiring policy, including an equal opportunity statement.
9
PUBLIC HEALTH cont.
Services
 Continuous evaluation of needs and monitoring of existing programs;
 High priority on services to low-income families;
 Cooperation and coordination between the Department of Public Health and mental health services
Selection of New Board Members
 County-wide representation;
 Unlimited number of terms for members;
 Application for appointment through the County Board.
Keeping the Public Informed
 Filing of reports in the public libraries;
 Publicizing of services available;
 Publication of board meeting times.
PUBLIC RECREATION (Adopted 2005, retained through 2016)
League endorses:
 Continuous maintenance and improvements of recreational facilities (national standards based on
population are an appropriate goal)
 Continued development of a wide variety of recreational programs for all age levels
 Cooperation among government units whenever possible.
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT (Adopted 2009, retained through 2016)
League supports an integrated solid waste management strategy that encourages a regional approach to ensure
maximum waste reduction, adequate disposal capacity, recycling/reuse program for the entire community.
WATER CONSERVATION (Revised 2007, adopted through 2016)
League supports:
 Government action to promote water conservation
 Public education about the need for conservation
 Fair rate system that encourages conservation
Nominations for 2015-16
President: Kathy Nicholson-Tosh
President-Elect: Emily Vigneri
Treasurer: Olemuel Ashford
Voter Services: Phylis VerSteegh & Teri Liston
Programs: Maureen O’Keefe
10