Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Week Ahead 5/20 - 5/26

*** There's a County Board regular meeting this week. It will be meeting this Thursday at 6:30pm (agenda packet here and an information packet on selling the Nursing Home here, including responses to concerns brought up at last week's COW). They will be voting on whether or not to sell the Nursing Home at this meeting. More on the board's leaning heading towards a possible vote to sell at the end of the month here: Nursing Home Vote Count. ***
 

Other Events:

Groups that crossover with Racial Justice Task Force recommendations meeting this week:
Build Programs Not Jails meets Wednesday, May 23rd at 7pm at the Independent Media Center.

The Housing Authority of Champaign County Board of Commissioners has its monthly meeting Thursday April 26th at 3pm at their offices at 205 W. Park Ave (agenda likely here when available). They may be discussing reentry housing in Champaign County including a pilot program the incoming and interim Executive Directors mentioned at a previous Champaign County Reentry Council meeting (more on that here).


RJTF housing recommendation updates: CU Indivisible had a general meeting which will be addressed its work and collaboration with other local groups on the housing issues. This included updates from Esther Patt of the Champaign Urbana Tenant Union as well. CU Progressives has been reaching out to Champaign residents on the issue. Local religious social activism groups appear to have growing involvement as well, and there may be some actions to report later this month.

There was a meeting earlier between CU Indivisible and the Mayor of Champaign on the housing issue (more on that here). The issue also came up at the Housing Authority of Champaign County (more from the Reentry Council meeting last month). And there was the County Board vote (more information and links on the Cheat Sheet here) and a recent Smile Politely article have motivated a lot of ideas towards movement.

County Calendar:

*** There's a County Board regular meeting this week. It will be meeting this Thursday at 6:30pm (agenda packet here and an information packet on selling the Nursing Home here, including responses to concerns brought up at last week's COW). They will be voting on whether or not to sell the Nursing Home at this meeting. More on the board's leaning heading towards a possible vote to sell at the end of the month here: Nursing Home Vote Count. ***


The week kicks off Monday with the County Executive Transition Committee that is establishing the rules and guidelines for the new County Executive form of government. Previous minutes, handouts, and agendas here (under 2018 meetings - note that the most recent minutes are in the next meeting's agenda packet awaiting approval). These meetings are open to the public and held in the Putnam Room (map).

On Tuesday there is a Litigation Committee meeting, which probably relates to Nursing Home issues, but most of that will be in closed session due to the content (agenda packet here).

On Wednesday 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.

Also on Wednesday afternoon is the Rural Transit Advisory Group meeting. The Rural Transit Advisory Group deals with issues with rural public transportation in the county. More information including agendas available here. There's a recent quarterly report for anyone who wants to dive into their overview.

The full 2018 schedule is 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.

http://www.co.champaign.il.us/CAL/2018/180520.pdf

*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








Saturday, May 19, 2018

Young Chosen for District 6 - UPDATE

[UPDATE: Not so fast. There may be a re-vote. From the News-Gazette today:
County chairman: Re-do vote to fill vacant board seat
District 6 precinct committeeman Charles Young was selected Thursday night to fill the District 6 county board seat of Josh Hartke, who resigned. Precinct committeemen selected Young in a weighted voting process over two other contenders, Tracy Douglas and current county board member Pattsi Petrie, who lost in her bid for re-election in the March 20 primary.

Maryam Ar-Raheem, chairwoman of the county Democratic Party, notified board Chairman C. Pius Weibel about the selection Friday morning. Several hours later, Weibel expressed displeasure about the procedure used to elect Young because both elected and appointed precinct committee members were permitted to cast votes, and some were allowed to use weighted votes from areas of their precincts that were outside District 6.

"I have consistently believed that the selection of county board candidates should be accomplished by having only the elected precinct committee people nominate the candidates, and by the vote of only elected precinct committee people, with the votes being weighted by the number of Democratic votes in the district that are within their respective precincts," he said in an email to Ar-Raheem.
The disagreement could have changed the outcome (more information Tracy Douglass here and Charles Young at the primary race page here), as shown in this chart that highlights the concerns of some local Democrats (click to enlarge):


This definitely earns readers local political wonk points for the week.]


 From the News-Gazette website last night:
County Democrats choose Young for vacant board seat
Champaign County Democrats have selected a new county board member to fill Josh Hartke's seat.

At a meeting on Thursday night, precinct committeemen from District 6 chose Charles Young to serve. He'll succeed Hartke, who resigned ahead of a move to Colorado.

Maryam Ar-Raheem, chair of the county Democratic party, said Young defeated current board member Pattsi Petrie, who lost in her bid for re-election in the March 20 primary, and Tracy Douglas in the voting.

Ar-Raheem said Young's name will be forwarded to County Board Chairman C. Pius Weibel for ratification by the full board.
More information on Young and Petrie from the recent primary race won by Mike Ingram here.

[Originally posted 5/18/2018 at 6:29am]

Thursday, May 17, 2018

County Tourism Revenue

The News-Gazette had a quick snippet with the County travel and tourism dollars today:


Court Services Director Interview


Mary Schenk recently interviewed the Court Services Director with some insight on a few aspects of our local criminal justice system. The News-Gazette website has the article and a link to the interview here.
Legally Speaking: Joe Gordon
In Illinois, the Legislature has mandated that for most crimes, judges should first consider giving an offender a community-based sentence. The job of overseeing people sentenced to probation falls to the Champaign County Probation and Court Services office.

Court Services Director JOE GORDON supervises a staff of about 62 at the Juvenile Detention Center and in adult and juvenile probation at the courthouse...

"With this community, we are very fortunate. We are rich in resources, in comparison to many other communities. The problem we have experienced is not so much the resources not being available. It's more of getting individuals to appear and comply when they are referred."

Regarding mental health resources specifically: "I don't think we have enough for the number of individuals presenting themselves to the court system."
Full article here. Link to the interview audio here.

Committee of the Whole 5/15


Quick Summary:

Passionate pleas to sell the Nursing Home and save other parts of the County including County jobs clashed with distrust of the new potential owners, including one on a top ten worst owner list along with fellow family members, and pleas for more time and consideration to at least find a better deal.

An app on the GIS website for orphaned land parcels was talked about being dealt with to avoid another Nasty Joe situation. There was a reference to the GIS map app to help people find these problems and fix them on the web. There was a presentation at the end of this meeting here.

Other highlights include a negative response to higher property taxes this year, a computer virus attack around election time unrelated to the election it turns out, and budget planning squabbles revolving around the Nursing Home, of course.


Meeting Write-up:

The Champaign County Board's Committee of the Whole this week was nearly three hours long last night (which is still way shorter than the six and a half hour marathon meeting last November). The agenda packet is available here (with addendum) and the video is available on the County Clerk's YouTube page here.

The meeting started a few minutes late and a little closer to 6:35pm. There were a lot of people in the audience and the overall time limit on public participation was reached during the 13th speaker. Only one speaker went over time and not by enough to get a verbal warning. Many spoke for themselves and other employees of the County worried that continued support of the Nursing Home instead of selling it would further threaten their jobs, force them to continue shoestring budgets for pay and needed staff and resources, and generally make their jobs even more difficult. For example the public defenders office had many people out to make clear that they're already struggling with almost no investigative resources outside of homicide cases. They pointed out that potential cuts to other programs like the Youth Assessment Center would increase court use as fewer people are diverted to other services. Thus increasing their workload while they face further staff reductions. As it stands they are already asked to do more with less and nearly maxed out.

Folks who worked with the Regional Planning Office pointed out the strain and abandonment further cuts could cause to children who depend on their services. Employees talked about having to have a second job because the County can't afford higher compensation commensurate with the cost of living here.

Proponents of keeping the Nursing Home focused on the people behind the sole minimum bid, and a listing of the top ten worst nursing home owners including one of the presenters at the last special meeting and his family members. Many asked that the County Board at least take more time to look for better buyers or at least get a better idea of what who they're betting the future of the Nursing Home's residents on. Some questioned the broker's methods and relationship with the sole bidder. Claudia Lennhoff of Champaign County Health Care Consumers urged the board to halt the process and hire an independent specialist to get an accurate valuation for a public Nursing Home.

Some made a more direct appeal for the residents' care, arguing that quality staff who help you with your day to day needs and care are far more important than the puppies and ice cream cones the bidders highlighted as perks at their facilities that residents enjoyed.

After the public participation time ran out the board began quickly working its way down the agenda. Announcements included a thank you to the Illinois Marathon Group and congratulations to Member Tinsley for graduation (majoring in political science).

McGuire announced the Innovator County designation in the Justice & Social Services Committee report. The board also voted to allow the application for a grant for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program. The board quickly voted to confirm several appointments. One appointment to the Sanitary District involved discussion about their members continuing to pay themselves the maximum allowed by statute ($6000 per year) far beyond most public board compensation, especially given their low contact availability and workload. The pay rule isn't controlled by the County Board, but McGuire said he'd have a discussion with the appointee about the issue since it's a party based replacement about adjusting it to something more reasonable.

Most of the reports were just put on file (and available on the website here). Several items were voted on involving reduced revenue due to a tax issue not being decided in time for this particular budget. The departments had already been instructed to operate as if that money may not be available so it is not expected to disrupt any current funding activity according to the Deputy Administrator of Finance. The Auditor had an additional funding item for their work on digitizing their books which was described as and accepted as a win-win project.

An approval for an antivirus software package included background on an attack around the primary election that the FBI has since confirmed was not part of a coordinated attack on the election itself. Apparently an e-mail attachment Trojan was opened and the virus propagated itself on the courthouse network and then to the Sheriff's office. It later jumped to the adult detention center's networks via a laptop that physically carried it. During the Q&A the presenter noted that when the system is eventually upgraded from the AS400 to a more cloud based Windows network the software security issues will be larger.

Other finance items passed without controversy.

The Treasurer's Report highlighted the upset phone calls received with the increase in property taxes as payments were recently due. There were increases for many due to the Unit 4 schools referendum and others who got a double whammy after being annexed into a taxing district that included that and mass transit taxes. Treasurer Farney noted that there were some crushing phone calls with low income senior citizens who were struggling with the new costs and fixed income. He argued that people didn't understand exactly what they were voting for with the pricey referendum.

There was also a discussion about some of the internal money moving that was over my head that covered how costs covered with the public safety tax get repaid.

An issue with an orphaned land parcel was talked about being dealt with to avoid another Nasty Joe situation. There was a reference to the GIS map app to help people find these problems and fix them on the web. There was a presentation at the end of this meeting here.

The usual bad news about the Nursing Home obligations was covered... ever increasing with a bleak future for the budget and a need for further future loans. There was unexpected good news on the 1% sales tax performing well and increasing even though revenues were predicted to drop a bit. The reasons for the increase aren't yet known.

The budget process preliminary votes eventually passed with one successful amendment for the option A (where the Nursing Home is sold) and one failed amendment for option B (where the Nursing Home is retained). This guidance is only for planning out a budget, not final approval by any means. The successful amendment (passing with a roll call 15-4) included funding for the Racial Justice Task Force recommendations as that was regularly assured to get funding if the home was sold. The failed amendment to the retained home budget scenario was intended to provide guidance for cuts with partisan disagreement on the feasibility of protecting items in the discretionary budget which may, by necessity, be required to be cut before mandatory programs. The sense of Republicans seemed to be that this option is going to hurt programs both sides support and there's nothing that can be done to avoid it anymore. Democrats seemed desperate to find some way to protect those programs in the planning process. It failed 8-11 also in a roll call vote.

Both budget planning options were put on the regular County Board agenda for final vote. The consent agenda was agreed upon for that meeting as well. Chairman Weibel then did his GIS presentation on finding and fixing orphaned land parcels to avoid Nasty Joe situations and the board adjourned immediately afterward.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Trauma-Informed Care in Champaign County

[UPDATE: Additional information on this issue, including about training and work being done in local schools, from the Illinois Newsroom journalism collaboration. Here's an excerpt:
How Schools Can Help Kids Traumatized By Gun Violence
...
But to most effectively improve the lives of youth affected by trauma, Simms said schools, police departments, businesses and local governments should be working together to implement these strategies, to model positive social behavior and provide supportive adult relationships for all children.

“If we don’t have a more collaborative approach to do this work that’s based on science and based on recovery we will leave significant numbers of students behind,” Simms said. “We’re in a state of emergency.”

Argue says building awareness around the science that supports this approach is the first step. But the time it’s taking to do that worries her, too.

“While we’re trying to pull people together, while we’re trying to convince people this is real and it’s not going anywhere, there are tragedies. I mean that figuratively and literally. It scares me,” she said.

But if communities do the work to address these unmet needs, she said, they can steer children away from health problems, prison and early death toward more fulfilling, healthy and productive lives.
Full article with more information here.]


One of the things that comes up a lot with programs addressing social issues is attempting to find the underlying factors and addressing them to help break cycles with negative results. Trauma is believed to play a major role in this and addressing it is part of the work of many right here in our community as well. From the News-Gazette yesterday:
Local group educating others in trauma-informed care
...
A practice known as trauma-informed care recognizes how a person's actions stem from those roots, said Simms, coordinator of CU Peace and Resiliency Champions. She said she likes to think of it as not asking what's wrong with someone but instead asking what happened to them — especially in childhood...

Although the concept of trauma-informed care isn't new, especially among researchers, it has been gaining traction among lawmakers and the general public...

Simms said that when trauma isn't acknowledged among school officials, money and effort can go toward programs that would be more effective if a student's trauma was identified and treated first. She also noted that mental health professionals can misdiagnose patients if they're not looking out for possible trauma.

To bring those messages and more to the community, CU Peace and Resiliency Champions provides various seminars and training sessions for anyone to attend. There's the basics course, "When Trauma Hits Home," which once was held to address December's shooting that wounded three outside Champaign Central High School.

There's also "Healing Solutions," for which attendees receive certification after going for 40 hours. A Healing Solutions session on Thursday night received attendees affiliated with the Urbana School District, the Unit 4 School District PTA and the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission.
More at the full article here. More information and links at the Champaign Community Coalition Trauma Resiliency page and the facebook page for CU Peace and Resiliency Champions.

[Originally posted 5/12/2018 at 10:01pm]

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Employment Roundup

Today the News-Gazette had rankings of the area's top 15 employers with information about how the number of jobs they provide has shifted recently. Here are some excerpts and highlights:
Champaign County | Hire Education
While the list of top local employers includes each of the same companies as last year, there were some significant changes in where they were ranked. FedEx is the fastest-growing company on the list, Carle continues to grow at a steady clip, and Kraft Heinz is slowly shrinking. Each spring, the Champaign County Economic Development Corp. compiles the list, which is based on numbers self-reported by the companies. Here’s a look, courtesy business reporter Ben Zigterman:
1. University of Illinois ( 13,934)

After reporting fewer jobs last year, the Urbana campus reported 77 more employees this year as the state budget stabilized...

2. Carle ( 6,921)

Carle grew by more than 8 percent last year, adding 535 new jobs...

3. Champaign Unit 4 school district ( 1,664)

4. Kraft Heinz (925)

The fourth-largest employer lost about 100 jobs for the second year in a row...

5. Christie Clinic (916) 6. Champaign County (893) 7. Urbana school District 116 (828)...

8. FedEx (815)

Two years ago, FedEx had 407 employees and was the 19th-largest employer in the county. It has since doubled, quickly climbing the top employers ranks...

9. Presence Health/OSF Healthcare (774)...

10. Parkland College (741) 11. Plastipak (735) 12. City of Champaign (630)...

13. Rantoul Foods (541)...

14. Busey Bank (525)...

15. SuperValu (429)...
Notes on the numbers: The figures show how many people each company employs in Champaign County, not across the company. Also, the EDC compiled the list of the top 15 employers in time for the annual Busey Economic Seminar, but is still working on its full list of the top 25 employers.
Full article with more ranking details here. There was also news earlier in the week that 200 jobs were in jeopardy of being moved or replaced by automation. More on that from Friday's News-Gazette:
Rockwell Automation closing its Champaign facilities in a year
More than 200 employees learned this week they may soon be out of a job after Rockwell Automation announced it will be closing its two Champaign locations.

Rockwell, which makes automated manufacturing products, plans to open a new distribution center in Indianapolis while closing its distribution center in Memphis, Tenn., and its distribution and customer-returns centers in northwest Champaign...

The Indianapolis plant will use automation to improve operations, the company said, and will be managed by Kuehne + Nagel, a global logistics company headquartered in Switzerland.
The full Rockwell article here. And while all that may seem a bit gloomy, the News-Gazette has also recently reported that "Busey Bank Vice Chairman Ed Scharlau is as optimistic as he's ever been about the state of the local economy." From Thursday:
Busey vice chairman leaves 'em upbeat in final economic seminar
...
"After reviewing so many positive figures, I hope you feel very fortunate to live and work here in Champaign County," Scharlau told a full house Wednesday at the I Hotel for the annual Busey Economic Seminar...

Yields are expected to be slightly lower this year, so Scharlau is projecting a decline in 2018 output to $350 million.

That was one of the few data points Scharlau presented that wasn't improving.

Retail sales continue to show steady growth, increasing to $2.808 billion in 2017, and are projected to grow to $2.858 billion this year.

The local population is also growing.

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates, Champaign County added 980 people in the last year, increasing to 209,399. And since the 2010 Census, the county has added more than 8,000 people.

"We're one of the few counties in downstate Illinois that is growing, population-wise," Scharlau said.

Unemployment also remains low in the county, at 3.7 percent, down from 4.2 percent last year.

"Even though Champaign County has one of the lower unemployment rates in the state, we need to remember there are several people unemployed and underemployed and are looking for a job," Scharlau said.

The top employers also appear to be doing well, Scharlau said.
Full article with more encouraging local conditions here. And as recently posted here, unemployment in the area has been down compared to the region, State, and national statistics. That information again:
There were some recent unemployment data from the state about our metro area and county from the News-Gazette (with more information from the Illinois Department of Employment Security here) today along with a couple handy charts in the on-line version:

March unemployment: C-U's rate tied for lowest in state; Danville's is highest
The unemployment rate remains low in the Champaign-Urbana metro area.

At 3.8 percent this March, it is tied with the Bloomington for the lowest unemployment rate among Illinois' 14 metro areas, according to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in Danville is the highest among Illinois metro areas, at 5.8 percent.

But across the state, the unemployment rate continued to drop compared with a year ago.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Week Ahead 5/13 - 5/19

*** There's a County Board Committee of the Whole meeting this week. It will be meeting (agenda packet here and I believe a Nursing Home budget item on the addendum here) Tuesday at 6:30pm. They will discuss a grant application for the Justice & Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) grant. More information on that here.

There's almost certainly going to be Nursing Home discussions on the potential upcoming vote to sell and budget/personnel ramifications if they do not. This will be the first full meeting with the County Board since meeting publicly with the companies behind the sole minimum bid at Special Meeting. More on the board's leaning heading towards a possible vote to sell at the end of the month here: Nursing Home Vote Count. ***

Blurb from the News-Gazette today previewing the Nursing Home discussion:
 

Other Events:

Groups that crossover with Racial Justice Task Force recommendations meeting this week:
Build Programs Not Jails doesn't meet this week, but next week it will be at its regular time, 7pm at the IMC.

First Followers is having an event: An Evening with Susan Burton. From the facebook event link: "Susan Burton, the founder of New Way of Life, a model reentry program for women, will speak about her experiences as a formerly incarcerated person, an individual in recovery and a movement builder in the fight against mass incarceration. The author of the recent best seller, Becoming Ms. Burton, she is an inspiration to all those who value social justice." It's likely local reentry issues such as the housing issue may come up and be addressed.
CU Indivisible will be having a general meeting (facebook event here) which will be addressing its work and collaboration with other local groups on the RJTF housing recommendations. This will include updates on another meeting together with Esther Patt of the Champaign Urbana Tenant Union to discuss the issue with with Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen.


Previous updates: There was a meeting earlier between CU Indivisible and the Mayor of Champaign on the issue (more on that here). The issue also came up at the Housing Authority of Champaign County (more from the Reentry Council meeting last month). And there was the County Board vote (more information and links on the Cheat Sheet here) and a recent Smile Politely article have motivated a lot of ideas towards movement.

County Calendar:

*** There's a County Board Committee of the Whole meeting this week. It will be meeting (agenda packet here and I believe a Nursing Home budget item on the addendum here) at 6:30pm. They will discuss a grant application for the Justice & Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) grant. More information on that here. There's almost certainly going to be Nursing Home discussions on the potential upcoming vote to sell and ramifications if they do not. This will be the first full meeting with the County Board since meeting publicly with the companies behind the sole minimum bid at Special Meeting.  ***


The week kicks off with the Nursing Home Board of Directors meeting at it's new 6:30pm time (agenda here). From the previous month's minutes in this month's agenda packet you can see this is more of a managerial board discussing financials and marketing more than policy or politics.

The Labor/Management Health Insurance Committee deals with benefits issues for County Staff which is probably mostly interesting to County Staff.

The Veterans Assistance Commission meeting appears to mostly report on the commission itself, but I haven't attended one of these to know much about it yet. Here's a description from the website of what this board oversees:

The Veteran's Assistance Commission (VAC) of Champaign County is a distinct unit of local government created by State Law and funded by Champaign County. The VAC is a temporary financial assistance program designed to help veterans that find themselves in need. The VAC is managed by a Board of Directors who are veterans representing the various veteran organizations in Champaign County.
The Mental Health Board Study Session (agenda packet here) will be getting into information from agencies and others. This appears to be about funding to local programs by the Mental Health Board and the various grants and funding that go through it.


The full 2018 schedule is 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.

http://www.co.champaign.il.us/CAL/2018/180513.pdf

*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








Champaign and County Police Week Events

A listing of local events with the City of Champaign and Champaign County police from yesterday's News-Gazette:

More information at the City of Champaign Police Department facebook event page here. The Champaign County Sheriff's Office website and social media links don't appear to have any information yet, but that link is pretty straightforward when there is.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Three County Democratic Candidates Favor Selling the Nursing Home


In the wake of the Special Meeting of the County Board on the Nursing Home, three Democratic candidates for County offices have come out in support of selling the home. From the News-Gazette website last night:
3 Dems seeking countywide offices voice support for sale of nursing home
Three Democratic candidates for countywide offices announced Thursday that they are throwing their support behind the sale of the Champaign County Nursing Home.

The county board has a proposal from Altitude Health Services and Extended Care Clinical LLC, both based in Evanston, to buy the financially challenged facility for $11 million, but most Democratic board members have voiced opposition to the sale.

Darlene Kloeppel, Laurel Prussing and George Danos said they want to keep the county's financial position from getting worse and prevent a possible "shuttering of the home..."

Their comments come in the wake of a presentation by executives from Altitude Health Services and Extended Care Clinical at a special county board meeting Wednesday night.
More candidate quotes at the full article here. More information about these county races here for the Auditor, Executive, and Treasurer races links. Check out our Elections Page for information on all county races and additional information on registration, candidate guides, important dates, etc.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

County Board Special Meeting 5/9


There was a Special Meeting of the Champaign County Board where the potential purchasers of the Nursing Home presented their information, their history and current work with other properties and nursing homes (agenda here and video here). Here's an excerpt from the News-Gazette summary:
Prospective buyers share vision for nursing home with county board
Executives from the two companies interested in buying the financially challenged Champaign County Nursing Home offered their visions for the future of the facility and its employees Wednesday at a special meeting of the county board where attendees also heard about the transition to private ownership from the administrator of a Nebraska home that was sold by its county board in 2009.

Earlier this year, Extended Care Clinical LLC and Altitude Health Services Inc., both headquartered in Evanston, offered the only proposal to buy the nursing home. Their bid was for $11 million, the minimum amount set by the board.

William "Avi" Rothner, Altitude Health Services' founder and president, told board members he wasn't there to sway any votes.

"People for the sale are going to be for the sale, and people who are against the sale will be against the sale," Rothner said. "My goal is not to lay people off. My goal is to grow."
More at the full article here. That last statement seemed to hold true during the question and answer session, which takes up almost all of the nearly two and a half hours with the bidders present (video here). There were assurances of a smooth transition for patients and family and retaining workers that wanted to stay and willing to adapt to the new system.The reality of working out the transition may take about a year to get everything settled, but it won't be chaos in between. Family and residents ideally won't be impacted by the process beyond added amenities and other planned positive improvements.

The civilian members of the RFP committee on the sale (that dealt with ensuring the bid met the requirements and make recommendations to the full board) asked questions around the 2:14 minute mark. The first question in particular explained his minimum bid and all of the factors that led them to believe that this was a safe bid. This was apparently due to the home's troubles and the low potential for other bids by their estimation. That estimation relied on factors like all of the public bad news about the facility, the complicated required process, Illinois market leaning against new buyers, etc. In the event there were multiple minimum bids, their experience with such situation is the seller decides to have a further bidding process/competition afterward.

The buyers left around the 2:27 mark and Chairman Weibel called a three minute recess before moving on to the rest of the agenda. The Deputy County Administrator of Finance, Tami Ogden, then went over the various numbers of the potential sale and where that money would go given the bonds, debt service, relief, etc. This is explained starting around the 2:28 minute mark here.

Public Participation started around the 2:40 minute mark. Three speakers remained to the end. The second speaker pointed out an example of problems with a home the company owns elsewhere and the dependence on the semantics of owning versus operating he believed was merely to avoid responsibility. The final speaker pointed out a recent commentary also highlighted here: Defense of Nursing Home Management.

The earliest that this could be put up to a vote, as far as I understand the situation and according to other recent reporting, is at the May 24th County Board meeting where it may still be tentatively scheduled for a vote. More at the recent post on the vote count from a couple weeks ago here.


BPNJ 5/9


Build Programs Not Jails (what is this?) meeting last night was missing quite a few people who had other obligations or conflicts, so I'll just be writing a quick summary as opposed to a full write up. There were some technical updates on the Story Project and Bail Fund projects. There was a bit of a discussion of Urbana's survey for plans for the Lincoln Square mall property and the recent News-Gazette report that the current owner didn't mind the input, but any decisions would ultimately be his and he insisted he had no intention of selling it. Seems a bit awkward since almost everybody there had the same impression I did that Urbana had some sort of control over its fate (future ownership, perhaps?) in asking the public for input into what would become of it. Maybe it's less direct?

There was some discussion on local issues and discussing what stance, if any the group as a whole should take on them. No decisions were made for announcement yet and generally there's going to be more research and discussions to get more information about them moving forward.

There was some technical discussion on the e-mail list and I shared an update from the Reentry Council meeting (more on that here) on their Claudia Lenhoff's desire to have a better understanding of the current jail expansion projects being geared towards space for services as opposed to increasing the number of people in jail cells. While ensuring that those already in jail get needed services and into programs outside of the criminal justice system when it would be a better option doesn't seem to be a point of contention, there's obviously a desire to see fewer people put into the criminal justice system in the first place.

There appears to be legitimate skepticism between where one sees the lines between idealism, pragmatism, and reasonable compromise versus being ineffectual by people throughout this issue. I doubt any solution exists that will make everyone entirely happy, but hopefully the passionate fight will give way to progress. And hopefully with skepticism comes accountability. Time will tell.

There were a couple announcements. A Public event with the author of "Becoming Ms. Burton," Susan Burton hosted by First Followers and the Education Justice Project. May 15th at 7pm at the Pilgrim Baptist Church. BPNJ will have a table. Facebook event page here.

ICE Watch, a group looking at immigration arrests and detentions in the area will be meeting at 1pm at the IMC.

Champaign Community Coalition 5/9


The Champaign Community Coalition had its monthly meeting yesterday. More information about the organization on the Cheat Sheet here and their website here. A theme that ran through the meeting was about the weather improving with the season and a need to redouble efforts for the violence and crime that comes with it. Police representatives and activists alike pointed to the idle time on people's hands, being outdoors more, and even issues where people want to leave their windows open or using their garages and sheds providing opportunity for theft when left unsupervised. The Champaign Police representative summed it up his advice as "Lock it / Hide it / Keep it."

The Urbana Police representative noted an increase in shootings already from last year, including two since the last meeting. There has been a general uptick in the usual "juvenile shenanigans" such as criminal damage, fights, and so on. There were a few questions about what has been shattering windows on area interstates, but there wasn't any new information other than they're still working on it and to report anything suspicious you see.

The Champaign County chapter of the NAACP had a presentation by their president, Minnie Pearson, about the work they do locally. This ranged from investigating reports of discrimination and work to resolve them under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She highlighted a program to help with dialysis and health care needs in the community. She also highlighted the Afro-Academic Cultural Technological and Scientific Olympics which is a competition involving local high school students that have gone on to be known for their talents in national competition.

She also described some of their anti-bullying work with cyber-bullying, a criminal justice initiative with the Illinois Association of Police Chiefs, and a program to help teach kids how to safely interact with police. The meeting agenda was packed so the presentation went by very quickly. She ended on a note encouraging recruitment, "Don't tell me [the NAACP] doesn't apply to me because I'm white. It's for everyone!"

A representative from the Carle program Healthy Beginnings presented an overview of a program targeting areas of poverty in Champaign-Urbana with targeted health care access programs and support. Notably this support starts at prenatal care as they explained that early life, even prenatal care, circumstances can have long term effects on life outcomes. More from their about page. Here's a quick excerpt:
We believe every parent deserves the resources to build a limitless life for their children and families. By working closely with our community partners, we are building a culture of health, ensuring children and their families, regardless of life circumstances, have an opportunity to be prosperous and live the healthiest life they can.

Services Offered
  • Nurse home visiting care/support for pregnant moms & their families (the ONLY home visiting services of its kind in the area with interpreter services)
  • Mobile clinic services (Summer 2018)
  • Child and family education
  • Employment opportunities
  • Healthy food access
  • Many more being developed with partners!
They are developing a 20 year plan that ranges from individual care through interpersonal, community and organizations all the way to policy towards ensuring access to health care resources. They are currently embedded in the Garden Hills community and hoping to bring in a mobile medical unit and other resources such as education opportunities to the community.

Overall their approach is a holistic community support concept to end cycles of poverty as opposed to just focusing on the medical access issues. For example they highlighted support for the Community School Model that's shown some effectiveness (adopted in Bloomington and recently Rantoul if I heard correctly). They also stressed the importance of dealing with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and encourage folks check out the CDC website on the subject. I've been hearing a lot more focus on trauma related to a lot of community activism lately. That could be a good sign.

After that the Youth Employment Services (YES) program issued a report on 110-115 students or so they've been matching up with 35-40 employers and some progress with adding more via the Chamber of Commerce.

The Urbana Police Department a local student presented a video on educating young students on how to deal with a traffic stop with a cooperative and uncooperative example and discussions afterward. The video employed a local police officer and local high school students for the video simulating the stops. They explained that the key point was to give the same respect you think you deserve. It highlighted the stigma that police face and pointed out that all police aren't the same and all departments aren't the same. The recreations used a white officer and young African-American students, but the stigma of greater concern appeared to be what the officers faced in that situation. The student volunteer said he participated because many of his friends don't know what to do in that situation and he wanted to help.

The Urbana Park District handed out information on free events coming up, including Play Days in the park this summer. The Champaign Community Coalition are enhancing those events with more activities and funding. This will be occurring at the parks considered neighborhood parks more so than the more touristy spots. Similar summer programs will be happening in Champaign, they said.

Urbana is having a Walk, Roll, or Stroll with the Mayors event coming up with both Champaign and Urbana mayors. More info here.

Moms Demand Action highlighted the upcoming June 2nd "wear orange" events and attempts to make June 2nd National Gun Violence Awareness Day. The events will include some of those performances cancelled at the March for our Lives event in March due to a late Central Illinois blizzard.

Tracy Parsons, the facilitator started to wrap up the meeting with a quick summary of upcoming issues:

Next month there will be a new initiative announced for young men struggling with serious life decisions and connecting them with community volunteers. Everyone will be working on eliminating idle time for bad decisions. The Mental Health Board (MHB) is working on summer initiatives. Racial Taboo, a community group discussing racial issues locally as part of a project around the documentary of the same name, is planning a meeting on June 11th 11-1:30 at the Baha'i Center in Champaign.

There was a last minute announcement from Stop the Violence / Increase the Peace that they're working with Lincoln's Challenge this year at Parkland possibly working with cars again for activities.

The meeting ended on a note of hope in spite of the current concerns and need for vigilance over the summer with the violence issue: last year ended with 25% less violence so the work by various groups in the community is helping.

The meeting adjourned at 5:07pm.