Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Election Results

For those who can't wait until tomorrow, you can track the election results as they come in from these sites:

Statewide races: 

IL13 and IL15 Congressional: 

County and Local:
Detailed County results at the County Clerk Unofficial Results.

Vote! Free Rides and Turnout So Far

If you haven't voted already today is the March 20th, 2018 Primary. Voting locations and sample ballots can be found at the County Clerk website here. If you still need to register, information on Grace Period Registration offered at all voting locations is here. Candidate information on the Cheat Sheet has been organized in this post. Check out the Champaign County Voters Alliance Candidate Guide for more information.

CU-MTD and some candidates (jump below) are offering free rides to the polls. From the News-Gazette:
MTD offering free rides to the polls for Tuesday's primary
The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District is offering free rides Tuesday for all voting-related activity.

The MTD announced the free rides as a way of encouraging civic participation.

"We're doing this to encourage good citizenship," said MTD Managing Director Karl Gnadt, who noted that riders would be on the honor system in terms of claiming that they're on the way to vote.

All bus rides throughout the district will be free from the start of service Tuesday until 8 p.m.
Full article here.

Turnout has been high and lopsided in early voting thus far. How much of that will be in addition to election day voting or merely instead of it remains to be seen. Also from the NG today:
Primary Decisions: Early voting heavy in Champaign County
Two weeks ago Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten predicted that as many as 5,000 primary election votes would be cast in the county. Monday morning he revised that number to “close to or over 10,000.”

But by Monday night the number was 10,065 votes already tablulated -- more than three times the total of 3,178 pre-Election Day votes in 2014, the last non-presidential primary in Champaign County. Still, he said he’s not ready to say that the overall primary election turnout will be as great as the 23,299 votes cast in 2014.

“That’s the big question because does early voting and voting by mail, if it’s really heavy, mean that Election Day will also be heavy? Or are we merely shifting Election Day turnout to voting early and voting by mail?” he asked.

There is no doubt, though, that Democratic early voting is up substantially.

About two-thirds of the people who had voted through Monday in Champaign County had chosen Democratic ballots, a remarkable reversal of historic trends.

Generally, Republican voters outnumber Democrats in non-presidential primary years by about 2-to-1. In 2014, for example, 63 percent of primary voters took Republican ballots. In 2010, it was 65 percent Republican.
Full article here (link will be updated).

Candidates offering rides:

This is not an exhaustive list, just what I've seen thus far. I'll add as I see more.

Jon Ebel on his facebook page:


Betsy Dirksen Londrigan on her facebook page:


Sheriff Sign Dispute

Yesterday, Champaign County Sheriff candidate Gregory Worrell accused his opponent's supporters of theft while calling them cronies attempting to hurt his campaign. From the News-Gazette yesterday:
Time and time again, I have had to replace my "Elect Worrell Sheriff" signs, bright yellow with red lettering, posted in various locations throughout Rantoul, Champaign and Sidney.

I understand high winds bending signs and sometimes causing them to lie down on the ground. But there has been no wind when I have had to replace signs two or three times where they were pulled out of the ground and nowhere to be found.

Three signs in one location have been uprooted on three different occasions, sometimes within a day or two. This is truly juvenile and out-right theft.

My great supporters are not doing it, and concerned citizens and true adults are not. This only leaves some cronies of my opponent who must feel I am a real threat to becoming the real deal as their new Champaign County sheriff.

Champaign County voters, please do not support anyone who is condoning an outright theft of my personal property. My motto is "protecting what you value most." Come March 20, vote from your hearts.


His opponent, Sheriff candidate Jones had a scathing retort today:

And from WCIA (video interviews). Worrell claims he didn't mean to accuse his opponent, in spite of directly saying it was a reason not to vote for him, and asks that people call him instead of removing signs themselves:
He posted on Facebook, writing "You surely do not want anyone in a top post who condones stealing oponnents [sic] signs. The fact of the matter is that someone is feeling threatened by my success right now."

Worrell also wrote a Letter to the Editor, accusing his opponent's "cronies" of having something to do it.

When we asked him about his accusations, he said he doesn't actually have any proof of who could be responsible.

"I don't want to accuse my opponent, and I put in there about cronies, and maybe I was misjudged about that," he says, "And I want to clear-- Allen Jones, I'm sure he would never have a part of that."

"You know what, it's a distraction," says Jones, "It's not necessary."

Jones says Worrell owes him and his supporters an apology.

"I don't have cronies," says Jones, "I do have friends that have supported me and asked for my signs. And have had him place his signs on their property, and they have removed them."

Jones believes Worrell has been putting his signs in places where they're not allowed, or hasn't been getting permission.

"He's an inexperienced politician," says Jones, "A misinformed person, someone who hasn't made available to themselves the opportunity of learning what the rules are and the etiquette of the campaign, and to go mudslinging like that's just very disingenuous."

Worrell insists he does ask permission for every place he puts them.

"Whoever's taking signs, please don't do that," says Worrell, "If they want me to have my signs removed, just call me, I'll take them out. I have no problem with that."

Other than that, both men say their campaigns are going great. Jones says his experience, leadership, and track record of solutions in his current role at the sheriff's office make him the right choice. Worrell says it's time for a change, and that his communication skills and ideas give him the edge.
More information on candidates on the ballot in Champaign County here. The Cheat Sheet's information on the County Sheriff's race specifically here.

Housing Authority Transparency?

The Housing Authority of Champaign County meetings aren't very accessible to the public, especially many in the community to whom they serve. For those with disabilities or tight work schedules or children who get out of school around the 3 o'clock on a Thursday meetings are difficult enough. But currently they are not televised, nor are any recordings hosted on their website to allow public access to their proceedings. The Urbana Mayor would like that to change. From yesterday's News-Gazette:
HACC meetings on TV?
Mayor wants sessions online, broadcasted

The Housing Authority of Champaign County may start broadcasting its board meetings after Mayor Diane Marlin urged the group to improve its transparency.

In both Champaign and Urbana, public meetings of city and township councils, boards and commissions are televised and provided on city websites. The HACC board doesn’t do that, and Marlin said the city is looking into having Urbana Public Television intervene.

It likely won’t be ready for the next board meeting on March 22, but Marlin said UPTV (channel 6) could eventually air footage of the meetings after they conclude and provide the videos online.
Full article here.

NG on Nursing Home Lease

The News-Gazette editorial board weighed in on the county Nursing Home's plan to lease out some of its unused space to house a separated wing for drug treatment to Rosecrance, a local mental health provider that has acquired and expanded a variety of local services. More on that issue in the March COW post. Their support was not without reservations:
Bucks, but not big bucks
Champaign County officials are in no position to turn down a request to lease out part of their nursing home. But the state is.

Given the Champaign County Nursing Home's terrible financial problems, it's no surprise county officials are willing to consider any offer that boosts cash flow there.

Still, it was a bit of a surprise to learn county officials are considering leasing a portion of the facility for use as an addiction treatment center for more than 20 patients.

Drug addicts mixed in with elderly and infirm nursing home residents? What could possible go wrong?

County officials, obviously, had the same concerns, and it looks as if the safety question will be adequately addressed if this plan gets off the ground.

Under the agreement, Rosecrance Health Systems will pay $16,860 a month to lease one wing of the nursing home for six months, possibly longer.

That's a pittance compared with the nursing home's debts of about $4 million to its vendors as well as the county itself. But it's better than nothing.

If these two operations can be conducted simultaneously and safely within the nursing home, fine.
Full editorial here.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Write-In Senate Candidate

We've tried to put together candidate information for candidates people around the county might see on their ballot on our Candidate Information post. But there's one race that might be on your ballot that could be very easily missed... a write in Democratic State Senate candidate, Benjamin Chapman. From the News-Gazette a while back:

UI student seeking write-in votes to challenge Rose for Senate seat
A 20-year-old University of Illinois nutrition student will be going head to head against state Sen. Chapin Rose for the 51st Illinois Senate seat in November.

That is, if he can get at least 1,000 supporters to write him in for the March Democratic primary.

"That's as I understand it," said Ben Chapman, who explained there's a way for him to get on the ballot even without the write-in votes. The Democratic parties of Champaign, Piatt, Dewitt, Macon, Douglas and Shelby counties could also nominate him as their candidate.

In that event, he would still need to gather 1,000 petition signatures by June, according to Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten...
If you're in the 51st (maps below or voter information lookup/sample ballots) and pull a Democratic ballot you'll see a space like this on your ballot:

Benjamin Chapman would like you to write in his name. But who is he and who would he be running against?

The 51st is currently represented by Republican Chapin Rose who is unopposed in the Republican primary. If Chapman makes it on to the general election ballot it would likely be a head to head race between those two.

More information links on the candidates:

Champaign County Voters Alliance Candidate Guide race information.

D - Benjamin Chapman:
Facebook campaign page.
Campaign website.
More contact options.

R - Chapin Rose:
Main website.
Office Contact Information.

Map Links:

The Illinois Senate 51st District is also the House 101st and 102nd combined (countywide map, in-town map):


Turnout and Democratic State Central Committeewomen

These are just early indicators, so nothing is certain about the final numbers, but folks are bound to see good or ominous news depending on which side of the aisle they root for. From Kacich's article in the News-Gazette today on Champaign County Turnout thus far:
And it's hard to beat Champaign County, where as of Thursday night there were 4,046 Democratic ballots tabulated so far to 2,295 for Republicans. That's in a county where the primary vote four years ago favored Republicans, 14,683 to 8,547.

There isn't a single factor driving the Democratic turnout, election authorities say. In Macon County, it's a two-way race for sheriff. In McLean County, there's a highly visible county board contest. In Sangamon County, Gray said, the big-money Democratic gubernatorial primary is a lot more interesting to voters in the capital than the Republican version.

In Champaign County, it's a variety of factors: county board primaries, the gubernatorial and attorney general races and the five-way race in the 13th Congressional District.

There's also President Trump, says University of Illinois political scientist Chris Mooney.

"The thing that might be unique about this election and in particular the differential between the parties would be the Trump factor," he said. "Just anecdotally it appears that the Democrats are more energized. Usually that does happen in the first mid-term election (after a new president is elected). You disappoint your fans and you really piss off the opponents. Even Ronald Reagan was down to about 42 (percent approval) in 1982. It's a tough time.
And on one of those hard to reach spaces on your Democratic Party ballot, more news on the party's State Central Committewomen races (more on committeewomen races here and more on all Champaign County area candidates here):


Friends of Michael J. Madigan, one of the campaign committees of the head of the state Democratic Party, has invested a lot of money into ensuring that Jayne Mazzotti of Taylorville remains the state central committeewoman in the 13th Congressional District.

Mazzotti is challenged by Pamella Gronemeyer of Glen Carbon, who has said she is open to having someone besides Madigan head the state party.

Madigan’s campaign fund has spent at least $45,912 on printing and postage for Mazzotti.

It’s also running a “robocall” operation on her behalf, the most recent of which was a comical call last week from U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth contending that a vote for Mazzotti “is a vote against the extreme Trump agenda” and that Mazzotti “will stand up to Trump and speak up for us.”

This for a position that is a precinct committeeperson on a statewide basis, not for anyone who would ever be able to confront Donald Trump.
Full article here.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Week Ahead 3/18 - 3/24

REMINDER: Voting has begun! Early voting is happening this weekend too:
Brookens Administrative Center: 1776 East Washington Street, Urbana
Saturday, March 17: 9:00am - 4:00pm
Sunday, March 18: 9:00am - 4:00pm

All other Early Voting Locations (list of locations)
Saturday, March 17: 10:00am - 1:00pm
Sunday, March 18: 1:00pm - 4:00pm
This is the last week of Primary Voting! The official election day is this Tuesday, March 20th, 2018!

Grace Period Registration is available at early and regular polling locations. More information here. Sample ballots are available here.

Cheat Sheet Candidate Information here. Updates on Judicial candidates and Smile Politely interviews of County Clerk candidates too!


County Calendar:

The week kicks off with the County Board of Health meeting which oversees the Champaign-
Urbana Public Health District. From the agenda and their meeting information page you can see that it's been a while since their last meeting so there are quite a number of reports to be submitted.

On Thursday there are the Mental Health and Developmental Disability boards. If you're interested in finding out more about county Mental Health and Developmental Disability programs and agencies they can be a bit wonky. They are, however, very interesting if you want to see all of the gears moving to provide care to so many in our community. If you're interested in what an MHB or DDB meeting is like, here are a couple write up examples: Mental Health Board 2018, Developmental Disabilities Board 10/25/2017.
The 2018 schedule is up and UPDATED (this month's county board meeting is on the March 27th, not the 22nd as originally posted) on the Calendar page and the County page. The regular County Board meetings are back to Thursdays until next holiday season.

If you're curious about learning more about how your county government works, it's easy enough to live stream a meeting or go in person: Attend a Meeting.


*Meeting is broadcast live on Comcast Public Access and at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/champco1776

Where is Brookens?

Brookens Administrative Center
1776 East Washington Street
Urbana, Illinois 61802-4581
Phone: 217-384-3772

After 4:30 the Washington Street side Parking Lot is Closed See Maps for the North East Parking Lot Access

Trustees, Criminal Background and BDS

In a follow up on the UI Board of Trustees meeting, the News-Gazette had two articles highlighting what was discussed and voted on (full agenda here). The first article dealt with a push to stop using criminal background questions that deter potential students form even applying:
Group: Criminal query discourages college applicants
A movement to “ban the box” asking about prior criminal history on job applications has spawned a similar effort in college admissions.

A student-led group urged University of Illinois trustees on Thursday

to drop questions about students’ criminal and disciplinary history from the admissions applications at all three UI campuses.

Amber Blatt, a graduate student in social work at the UI Chicago, said admissions policies can create barriers to education.

The UI requires applicants to describe their criminal records and high school disciplinary violations, which can be “invasive and humiliating” and discourage students from applying, Blatt said, addressing the board during its public comment session.

“It sends the message that such students are not welcome to apply here,” she said.

Supporters from the group Yes Apply at Illinois held up signs reading “All students welcome to apply,” which they said were modeled after 19th century “Irish need not apply” signs...

The UI Chicago has removed the question from its applications for graduate school, Blatt said.

Last June, Louisiana became the first state to ban all public colleges from asking about criminal history during the application process (with exceptions for convictions relating to sexual assault or stalking). The State University of New York’s board also voted to stop asking applicants about felony convictions. California state schools have never asked the question, Blatt said.
In a related UI trustees article, BDS or Boycott, Divstment and Sanction, an anti-Israel movement was opposed by the President:
President Tim Killeen issued a statement Thursday expressing strong opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement under debate on many college campuses.

Killeen said the opposition is consistent with the stance by many national higher education organizations that have spoken out against the “BDS” movement and its call for a boycott of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.

“While we acknowledge and affirm the rights of faculty and students to express their own viewpoints, we believe that actions such as those espoused by BDS would damage academic freedom and may have an intended or unintended anti-Semitic effect, which we utterly condemn,” he said.
More Trustee actions in the full article here.

Local Unemployment Rates Drop

Republicans will probably credit Trump. Democrats will probably point to years long trends that started with Obama. Some wonky independents will probably say that economic forces generally beyond presidential purview are at work while everyone tries to take credit for the good news. No matter where one gives credit, there is good news all around. From the News-Gazette last night:
January unemployment down in C-U, Danville over 2017
The unemployment rates in both the Champaign-Urbana and Danville metro areas continued to drop in January compared with a year ago...

In the Champaign-Urbana metro area, 1,400 jobs were added over the year, including 1,000 in government; 600 in education and health services; 200 each in leisure and hospitality and professional and business services; and 100 each in durable-goods manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and utilities, information, and financial activities.

Meanwhile, retail trade lost 700 jobs, while manufacturing of nondurable goods and wholesale trade each lost 100...

Across Illinois, the unemployment rate dropped across each of the 14 metro areas, and jobs increased in 11 of those.
Full article here

Thursday, March 15, 2018

BPNJ Update

Build Programs Not Jails (what is this?) meeting last night was a whirl wind of reports of what has been happening in the area on the criminal justice and social services front. Some of the subjects I have write ups on already (e.g. The March Committee of the Whole) and other meetings at the County and C-U local level.

There's a UIUC Board of Trustees meeting tomorrow (agenda here) that may discuss expungement of criminal records and the "Yes Apply" push to have school applications no longer ask about or consider criminal record. [UPDATE: Follow up coverage information: Trustees, Criminal Background and BDS ]

The Housing discrimination issue with the City of Champaign ordinance and Housing Authority of Champaign County was discussed.

There were updates on the CU Bail Watch project to provide oversight on the criminal justice systems treatment of the new Bail Reform Act (more info on that here).

The Urbana development project on top of a former water treatment facility location was discussed in relation to previous developments and concerns with toxicity and health issues such as the one just down the road at 5th and Hill site.

There are concerns with the Sheriff candidates advocacy for Jail expansion in spite of a years long low in demand and need could reignite the debate for expanding the Jail this election year. This could lead to a situation where opponents may be caught with their guard down and a push to expand goes mostly unchallenged behind the scenes to create the dreadful scenario of increasing jail capacity creating pressure to fill it rather than expansion based on actual beneficial need in the community.

There is concern about a button up fascist event that may be happening on campus to dehumanize undocumented immigrants and stoke fears and hysteria about violent crime in spite of the statistical reality that they are less likely to harm anyone in horrific crimes than citizens. How to deal with that without giving it the publicity they crave is an ongoing problem.

On a less cryptic note, the Community of the Whole County Board meetings (calendar) continue to have reports and RJTF specific issues being raised in the coming months, so keep attending and following their work to stay up to date on the latest movement on their recommendations.

Champaign Community Coalition

This post explains what the Champaign Community Coalition is and does. For the 3/14/2018 meeting notes scroll down or click here to jump to them.

The Champaign Community Coalition is a county organization of organizations that includes:
...local government; law enforcement; juvenile justice; behavioral health; education; child welfare; and community based service providers. This network is designed to identify critical community issues that impact the lives of youth and their families. Effective Systems of Care are family-driven, youth-guided, strength-based, culturally competent, and trauma informed in its philosophy and operation.

The Executive Committee of the CCCC provides overall leadership, determines priorities, oversight on activities and facilitates community conversations. Staff support for the project and to the Executive Committee is housed at the Champaign County Mental Health Board.

To promote, inform and facilitate the priorities of the CCCC, three working sections are organized to coordinate activities. These three sections are: Healthy Youth and Families; Community Justice; Education and Youth Development. The sections are the pathways to drive the work of the CCCC. Core priorities, goals and initiatives are identified through monthly community-wide meetings. Each of the three sections, have section leaders to facilitate meeting communication and organization.

A major focus in the CCCC philosophy is to identify, support and expand effective strengths based programs that exist throughout the community. Where that is not possible, new opportunities may be created. We don’t need to recreate what we already have in place.
What they do can be quickly understood from their latest priorities:
Police Community Relations
  1. Promote and support and encourage
  2. Police/law enforcement leadership, engagement with officers
Mutual Advocacy
  1. Support racial justice initiatives
  2. Homelessness
  3. Trauma-informed community
  4. Youth Assessment Center
  5. Support mental health awareness
Community Engagement
  1. Walk As One events
  2. Racial Taboo
  3. Promote Coalition activities
  4. Targeted neighborhoods – support specific activities
Youth Development
  1. Summer jobs
  2. Arts/Recreational activities
  3. Educational initiatives (truancy discipline)
  4. Initiatives: 18-26 population
  5. Academic achievement
Community Violence
  1. CU Fresh Start
  2. School-based violence
  3. Trauma-based trainings
  4. Community-targeted Neighborhood Activities
Long story short it is an organization that many people thinking of good ideas for our community sometimes doesn't know already exists. Here are the meeting notes from 3/14/2018 if you want to get a feel for what their community wide meetings are like.

Meeting Notes: 3/14/2018: Champaign Public Library 3:30pm

Today's meeting was at the Champaign Public Library. Meeting agenda printouts, additional information from various organizations and sign-up sheets were on the back tables.

Introductions. They mean everybody. Tracy Parsons led the meeting and introduced himself as the facilitator of the meeting before handing the microphone to the audience. All (rough guess) 60 audience members stated their name and the organization they were with, including a few who just stated "Urbana citizen" or similar if they weren't with an organization.

From area law enforcement agencies, government, social activist groups, faith based organizations, groups for mental health and other services in the area and related agencies... there were too many representatives from throughout the community to even really keep track of them all. Parsons started by remarking on how remarkable it is to have a community group like this and not to take it for granted.

"Good news" was next on the agenda where they announce good news. Today was a birth announcement.

Representatives of the area policing agencies gave updates on local crime, shootings, and Urbana's burglary rate declining after recent arrests of suspected repeat offenders from an average of one robbery a day to less than one a week. There has been a dramatic start to firearm homicides and shootings in the area noted by both Champaign and Urbana representatives who laid out active investigations and where a suspect was identified.

Unofficial criminal activity appeared to be much lower this year as there were fewer out of town revelers causing trouble and more local University kids celebrating more sensibly.

They plugged the City of Champaign "Youth Police Academy" and various are law enforcement "Citizens Police Academy" events (Cheat Sheet post here).

Anti-Immigrant cards encouraging people to report on suspected "illegals" in the area have been turning up regularly and re-appearing quickly at locations where they are removed. It's causing some fear and concern throughout the community. The police representatives didn't have any information on this and it may not be a police matter due to the nature of the cards not promoting any criminal activity.

A question was asked if there'd be child care at the police academy event for adults and it did not sound like there would be. Another person asked if previous participant evaluations of the program were available for new people to read, but the feedback sounded like it was only for internal improvement use at this time.

The next meeting will have more on Latinx issues and ICE in the community.

Coalition Priorities:

CU Fresh Start explained the process by which they call in those at risk of perpetrating and being victims of gun violence and the difficult odds they face to teach organizational skills, ensure they make it to appointments, evaluate and connect them with services and training, etc. They asked that those with resources to offer get in touch with them on everything from housing to employment. Everything takes resources.

A recent Racial Taboo screening event was discussed. 120 community members stayed for the conversations organized afterward and 83 evaluations were submitted. Organizers highlighted some feedback on what people took away from the experience. The noted an upcoming "Waking Up White" screening about white privilege and how to recognize it even while in the midst of it.

The Youth Assessment Center announced that it is moving to its new location April 2nd and will be having an open house probably in early May. More information on that on the Cheat Sheet here. A basic description (also a fact sheet here):

The Youth Assessment Center staff screen at-risk juveniles and link them and their families with the community’s support and restorative services. Law enforcement personnel typically make referrals to the Youth Assessment Center as an alternative to prosecution and to prevent further delinquent activities. Case managers consider station-adjustment charges, police officer or school official recommendations, family input, and restorative justice methods. (from their website)
Peace and Resiliency Champions (formerly CU Neighborhood Champions) explained their name change and explained some of their training programs for organizations and providers who help people who have experienced trauma.  More under Upcoming Trauma Training Events on their page here.

Youth Engagement: they are looking for creative collaborative ideas for youth engagement as we approach the warm summer months where idle hands with free time can be deadly. They're seeking ideas from organizations and individuals.

They especially thanked the Champaign County Mental Health Board that has provided the seed money for almost all of the projects and efforts being discussed here today.

Information Sharing:

The Youth and Family Peer Support Alliance explained what they are and what they do for families with children with mental illness. They detailed numerous support activities and connections to services. More information at their website here.

National Youth Gun Walkout Activities. A local counselor spoke on the children she's talked to about the issue locally. There is fear every day right here in our community. It's an everyday fear.  Children are feeling unsupported by adults with authority and in power. They are dealing with an endless parade of naysayers telling them they're just kids and they don't know what they're talking about on these issues. They want to see action across systems, not just on staying safe from gun violence, but they want better government results across the board.

The March For Our Lives event is coming up March 24th and organized by local students. They are seeking support from the community:
If you are interested in speaking or performing contact uhanif@illinois.edu. If you are press and would like more information contact aghoganson@gmail.com. If your social justice oriented organization would like to be a community partner contact esinger@illinois.edu.
 With a few comments and questions the meeting wrapped up.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

March COW

The County Board Committee of the Whole (what is this?) last night included a Special Meeting about leasing out part of the county nursing home, but the vote had to be delayed. Meeting notes below (jump to meeting notes). Summary from the News-Gazette:
County board puts off lease vote for nursing home, OKs plan to cover payroll
A vote on a proposed agreement to lease space at the Champaign County Nursing Home to Rosecrance Health Systems was postponed Tuesday over questions raised by the Illinois Department of Public Health, while county board members members gave tentative approval to a plan to use the county's general fund as a line of credit to cover nursing home payroll.

Board Chairman C. Pius Weibel said he hoped to bring the lease agreement back before the county board on March 27. As proposed, the county would lease to Rosecrance an unused wing at the nursing home for use as an inpatient drug therapy facility for about 24 patients at a time.

But nursing home officials received a letter from the Public Health Department late Monday afternoon raising questions about the agreement. County administrators didn't learn of the questions until Tuesday morning.
The measure to use the general fund to cover nursing home payroll was approved 12-6 at the board's regular committee-of-the-whole meeting, with all "no" votes coming from Republican members Jim McGuire, Jon Rector, Jack Anderson, Brad Clemmons, John Clifford and Stan Harper.

Weibel called the measure "a Band-Aid approach" that will make it easier for the county to cover payrolls, which average about $240,000 every two weeks.

Under the plan, county Auditor John Farney and county Administrator Deb Busey will pay bills submitted by vendors only during payroll weeks. After it's been determined that there is adequate revenue to cover payroll, accounts payable will be prioritized with any remaining funds.
Full article here.

Video (when available) at the County Clerk YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/champaigncountyclerk

Meeting Notes:

Special Meeting: 6pm at Brookens (began at 6:04pm)

Prior to the Special Meeting Chairman Weibel informed me that the Special Meeting was going to be very brief as the one item on the agenda was delayed. At the meeting itself it was explained that the Illinois Department of Public Health notified them that another step was required to get approval to lease out part of the facility.

Member Petrie asked for further explanation of what the issues were. The IDPH had concerns about staff and management overlapping versus simply leasing out the property. She also raised concern about the medicaid beds and "overbedding" and whether this deal would cause problems for the Nursing Home's medicaid program. These questions are still being worked out with the IDPH and lawyers.

Member Harper wanted to make sure the broker and potential buyer for the Nursing Home were being kept in the loop. He was assured they are aware.

This item will be on the agenda two weeks from now. The Special Meeting adjourned at 6:13pm.

Committee of the Whole: 6:30pm (began at 6:31pm)

Attendance: Quorum. Absent Crews, Hartke, and Marsh

Public Participation: Doctor Dottie Vera Wise (sp?), a Physician in C-U for 4 and half years when she was practicing, has been tracking criminal justice statistics of those in jail. She gave numbers of thos in jail and pointed out that such numbers need to be more easily accessible given the important decisions that the Board makes that should be informed by them. She distributed an information pamphlet showing the numbers over the last six years or so. She argued that things have improved, with a jail population averaging about half of what it was six years ago, but there is still room for improvement.

RJTF Presentation: (video link soon)

There was a presentation by Ryan Huges and Doctor Carolyn Randolph from the Racial Justice Task Force advocating for the Community Engagement recommendations to be adopted. They discusses a project in coordination with Dr. Bev Wilson and U of I students collecting and analysing criminal justice statistics in the area from the County Sheriff's department, Jail, Circuit Clerk, and four other police departments. One example they noted was that controlling for age, sex, and type of crime across five departments, Africian-Americans were still four times more likely to go to jail than white suspects.

They advocated for making the data more streamlined and contining the data base project with local community groups and the U of I by

1) having better access to data with dynamic records and avoiding access barriers like CAPTCHA that prevent automating data collection.
2) Getting the format of the data across systems in line with one another.
3) Cross-agency integration
4) Establishing analysis of data with diverse groups in the community.

They believe their database project could serve as an example for future databases.

After some discussion about the difficulties and regulatory road blocks in their cross-agency data recommendations, they pointed to a leadership role the County Board can serve as opposed to asking them to try to change regulations outside of their perview. A vote to adopt the recommendations was considered, but due to the complications involved it sounded like Member King was going to put together a committee group to suggest more direct recommendations for the County Board itself per Chairman Weibel's suggestion.

Other Reports:

The Community Reentry Quarterly Report will be presented on March 22nd with the Annual Report

Most of the usual County Office reports were simply filed. The States Attorney argued for her need of an assistant state's attorney to handle the work load while they are already a lawyer short on the criminal side. Staff is overwhelmed having to cover that workload. Concerns about position control (and fears of temporary staff becoming permanent drains on the budget) led to an amendment to revisit the position at the end of the fiscal year (which is the calendar year for the County Board now). The amendment and motion as amended passed with a voice vote with one nay.

Other Finance agenda items passed with a voice vote.

Treasurer and Auditor spoke about their reports. The Auditor noted their staff had won a couple awards in spite of difficult circumstances which received applause from the board.

Interim County Administrator Busey spoke about the Nursing Home report and there was a discussion and Q and A with SAK (the management agency running the home now) about recouping collections costs.

There was a debate on a band-aid measure to ensure payroll is paid even with brief waiting periods between the Nursing Home receipts and payroll needing to go out to staff that has caused consternation in the past. The measure would direct the treasurer to temporarily loan money out to ensure payroll is paid and immediately repay it with Nursing Home receipts when they come in. While nobody seemed to happy about the budget being in a situation where this was necessary, it had a broad support from the Treasurer, the Auditor, and the interim County Administrator.

Member McGuire raised concerns about the idea getting expanded down the road beyond payroll and whether this creates a loophole around the usual appropriation rules requiring 15 county board votes and the $250k limit. What a vender sues and demands repayment through this process? The argument broke down with Busey's side saying it simply prioritizes pay roll and arguing it can't get out of control as it only risks AP payments to prioritize payroll. McGuire's side pointed to the lack of limits on teh spending and believed it would be a slippery slope to other costs. He pointed to the history of Nursing Home band aids getting out of control in spite of best intentions.

The measure passed 12-6 with a roll call vote (no votes in the N-G excerpt above).

After that the board seemed anxious to wrap up and quickly passed the remaining items on the agenda by voice vote, and approved the upcoming consent agenda items and adjourned at 8:26pm about as fast as I could write that down.