Author Archive

Help Josh Weger for Senate 55

This Sunday (April 11) you can help Josh Weger get on the ballot for the 55th Illinois Senate district as Senator Mike Frerichs helps gather petition signatures in Mahomet. We will meet at the Mahomet community center parking lot 510 E. Main St. Mahomet IL 61853 at 2pm. Bring a pen, good shoes and a few hours to spare. For more information about the campaign, visit the Josh Weger website.

2009 Democratic Picnic at Crystal Lake Park

When: Noon Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009.
Where: Large Pavilion at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana.

Meat, soft drinks, and table service will be provided. Please bring a dish to share. Donations are welcome.

Volunteers are needed to set up, serve, and clean up. Please contact picnic chair Dorothy Neumann at neumando3530@yahoo.com or 344-1427 if you can help.

Mahomet’s Sangamon River Festival This Weekend

Mahomet will hold its annual River Festival and Parade this weekend (August 28-29, 2009). There will be entertainment and activities starting Friday afternoon on Main Street, and the Champaign County Democrats will have a booth along with the Sangamon Valley Alliance. Come, visit and listen to the great lineup of bands that will be playing both Friday and Saturday.

The Parade kicks off at 10:30 am at the Lincoln Trail School lot on the corner of State and Division, and there will be a float for the Democrats and the SVA. Meet up with us after 10 am Saturday and hop on the float for a ride through Mahomet!  The event is well attended and for all you early candidates this is a good time to get in front of the western Champaign County crowd.

Champaign County Fair

The County Fair is underway and we have a tent on the midway for Democrats to visit, get informed and rest up from all the rides and food at the fair. If you would like to visit or even better volunteer for a time or two, contact Sandra Hansen: 217-469-2418, or <shansen1@sbcglobal.net who is available to slot you into a shift at the tent. Sandra is best reached by phone in the evenings so give her a call.  It is lots of fun, you meet many folks and do not forget Democrat Day is July 28th . The fair runs from Friday July 24th to Saturday August 1st.

Special Events: Tuesday July 28 is the Fair’s “Democrat Day”, with Harness Racing on the half mile, when our candidates are introduced to the crowd at 12:30 and/or 7 pm. New this year, we are declaring Wednesday, July 29 as “Senior Democrat Day”, when seniors (age 60+) get free gate admission to the fair until 4pm, and Democratic seniors are invited to congregate at our tent.

Also new this year, the fairgrounds will be open to the public for lunch until 1 pm on weekdays.

See you at the fair!

Parade Season is Here

The summer is here and parade season marches in with all the fanfare and floats one could ask for. The Champaign County Democrats will march in four parades celebrating Independence Day, 2009. All Democrats need to get their shoes laced and their wave perfected, it’s all in the wrist by the way, and come on out to walk and show your support.

Parade times below are start times; arrive a half hour early to help set up. Wear or display your favorite Democratic (past, present, or future) candidate’s regalia!

GIFFORD: Saturday, June 27, 2:00 pm, south side of town. (DONE)

RANTOUL: Saturday, July 4, 10:00 am, Maple Grove Shopping Center, #22. (DONE)

URBANA: Saturday, July 4, 1:00 pm, Illinois Street & Lincoln Ave, #83. (CANCELLED)

HOMER: POSTPONED to 6:00 pm SUNDAY, July 5th, Grade School on First Street.

Please come out and enjoy! Who can resist showing party unity and strength in what looks to be the beginning of a very interesting primary season.

Townships?

With several recent news items regarding conflicts between County and Township entities, one wonders if the multilayer nature of Illinois Government is a thing of the past. There is a real need to be cost effective these days, and more than ever the function of a Township, especially an urban one, may be an added burden no longer relevant. Once the only real form of rural representation, most of the work in the township short of the road maintenance may best fall on a more central form, with the opportunity for more uniform coverage.

Recently the conflict was once again seen at the county level when a local Township supervisor, John Jay of Mahomet, who is also a County Board member from District One, had to abstain from a vote at the county level because his township protested the Wind Farm Ordinance. Had Mr. Jay not been in both positions he would have had an opportunity to vote for his District, he chose to be in several places at once and in doing so served none.

The same could be said for a bulk of what happens daily, the filter of controls now steps slowly through these many layers, some with very different mindsets, before the rubber hits the road. Does Newcomb Township need a plan commission? They serve no planning function and only seem to serve to protest County actions. Likewise, does Mahomet Townships plan commissioner, a Realtor and developer, have the best interests of the Township or his income in mind when their function again is only to protest.

Why so much overlap? There seems to be little cohesiveness between townships and their operation, and with plan less plan commissioners and poorly attended township business meetings, with little public access to the information they are acting on, perhaps it is time to pull the strings a little tighter and save some resources everywhere we can.

Please discuss.

Commentary From Scott Hays

Two articles of note came to my attention today: one with which I strongly disagree, and one with which I strongly agree. The one I strongly disagree with was written by my colleagues Brian Gaines and Jim Kuklinski in my parent unit at the University of Illinois, the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. This article, first appearing in the News-Gazette, recommends opposing Senator Mike Frerich’s bill expanding access to absentee voting. The authors claim that such an approach reduces secrecy and increases the likelihood of fraud. Neither claim is supported by the authors with facts, data or other analysis, and neither passes the ‘sniff’ test of common sense. How is it secret currently when primary voters in Illinois publicly state their ballot choice when voting in primaries, in the eyes of election officials and poll watchers? And why would it not be more secret for voters to cast their primary ballots from the privacy of their home? One’s private residence seems like a very secret place to cast a ballot to me, unless fraudulent political machine bosses are planning on invading our homes to watch us complete our election ballots. Or are we afraid of our privacy being violated by our spouses? Our children? Our roommates? Our parents? Our dogs? In all cases, such violations are bothersome, but I’m not sure they would necessarily constitute political problems.

Surprisingly, the article I agree with is an editorial published in the News-Gazette regarding Freedom of Information. When public officials hide behind vague issues of ‘privacy’ when dealing with employment contracts or hiding criminal records of public officials, we have major problems. In my own Newcomb Township, our officials have shown that they wish only to adhere to the narrowest interpretation of our Open Meetings Act by providing the least information to the public that they can. Public officials too often forget that tax dollars are our dollars, and that they very much ‘belong’ to we, the people. Their actions are public actions. Open government is messy, and that is the point. The more public officials know their every action is open to the scrutiny of the public, the more inscrutable their actions are likely to become. I support open government: open records and open meetings so that public officials, metaphorically of course, stand naked before us.

In addition, open access of the ballot to all citizens on demand aptly reinforces this notion of accountability. Hear the word ‘voter fraud’ and know that someone is subtly at work trying to deny citizens access to the polls. And usually that means certain classes and types of citizens. In my mind, we need a democracy that not only talks the talk, but proudly walks the walk out in the sunshine and stands out as a model, rather than standing behind a fearful shroud of secrecy, privacy, and potential for fraud.

Scott Hays

Sangamon Valley Alliance

Is It Time To Open The Door?

Senator Arlen Spector made the move to the Democratic party this week, is this a sign of things to come not just nationally but locally? For his own reasons the Senator from Pennsylvania jumped the aisle in Washington, perhaps to survive a primary he thought he could not win, or a realization of the changing demographics in his state or is the digging in of his former party the real cause for such a move? If there is no room in the GOP for anyone who finds Rush and Miss California not their best face forward then it may be time locally to get the doors and minds open and swell the ranks. Are we willing to let them in?

The rural districts in Champaign are changing, the move out of the twin cities was fast and furious until the recent slowdown and our local demographics have changed out in the open land. There is a bigger number of closet Democrats outside of town and the time to focus their attention is ripe. In town there is a contingent of Greens and Independents who could be in our fold with little trouble. The upcoming primary looks to be a time for the Democrats to get names on the ballot in any race available, and give the people on the fence a reason to get out and pull a Democratic ticket, it would be an opportunity to get a head count and see where inroads are being made.

Are there potential party jumpers around you, if we give the undecided a nice place to land then the decision may be easier, if the ground looks to hard maybe not and that can in part explain the growth of third party support. Are we willing to soften up the ground? We will never get folks like Mark Thompson, and we should not try, but can we reach for Joe Average and better our own party at the same time. Will we open the door?

[Editor's Note: This post is unedited. As this site becomes more active (thanks, Ben!) , I will edit less and rely more on our home page disclaimer: Blog posts and comments are solely the opinions of their authors].

Klein chosen to fill remainder of term as Chair

Al Klein will serve out the remainder of the unexpired term of Tony Fabri as Chair of the Champaign County Democratic Party. At a well attended central committee meeting on April 22nd , the motion to elect Klein (previously First Vice chair) as Fabri’s successor passed with a majority of the weighted vote.

It then remained to choose a new First Vice Chair. Candidates were Laurel Prussing, Kevin Sandefur, and Eric Thorsland. Mayor Prussing was elected when she received a majority of the weighted vote on the first ballot cast.

Now that the new officers have been elected, a united Democratic party can get down to the business of selecting strong candidates in the 2010 primary and helping them prevail in 2010 General Election.

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