Monday, February 17, 2020

Community Coalition Meeting and Other Events

This post covers the latest Champaign County Community Coalition meeting (video available here) and a few other community activities and events going on in the area that have been highlighted in local news recently.

Police Chiefs Updates:

The Police Chiefs Updates began at the 4:30 minute mark in the video. Topics included the first homicide in Champaign, a separate shooting incident at Marketplace Mall, the County Sheriff's annual report and other topics. UIPD's interim chief introduced himself after Chief Stone moved back to Ohio. and talked about the upcoming Youth Leadership Camp (more information and application for that program here). WCIA had coverage that highlighted the chiefs talking about safe spaces at local police stations for on-line and other sales exchanges. From WCIA earlier this week:
Champaign, Urbana and the U of I’s police stations are all “internet exchange purchase locations.” In other words, they are “safe zones.” That means you can go there to meet up with a buyer to make sure things go off without a hitch.

However, police officers have other tips you can use to protect yourself. “You obviously don’t know who you’re selling this stuff to, so don’t have them come to your house,” said Matt Myrick, Interim Chief of Police for UIPD Don’t let them know where you live, or your personal residence is. Meet them at a public place. If you don’t want to come to the police departments, that’s fine. But at least meet them at some kind of public place, where there’s lots of people around that you can use to get help if you need it.”
Full article here with a video segment. Urbana Police also noted the recent training completion for the new School Resource Officers (more on that at a recent Cheat Sheet post here).

Other Presentations:

A Community Schools presentation is available at the 27:00 minute mark of the video. The Community Coalition has a tight schedule so she wasn't able to make her full presentation at the meeting. A full presentation with slide links and Q & A with the Unit 4 school board is available from last week at this Cheat Sheet post here for additional information.

Jameel Jones highlighted an empowerment program for teen girls that's part of the That's What She Said Project whose national director was recently highlighted in the News-Gazette here. A quick description of the teen program from its website:
That’s What Teens Say is a 3-Day immersion program – no cell phones allowed –  that takes girls through confidence building exercises, improv games, and developing and writing their personal stories….which culminates in a final story-sharing performance...

That’s What Teens Say was originally created by Jenette Jurczyk of The She Said Project and Erin Tarr of Be the Benchmark in Champaign, Illinois. Be the Benchmark offers in depth teen and tween mentoring and confidence coaching. 
More information available from the That's What Teens Say program website here. More information on the whole That's What She Said project at their main website here.

Karen Simms had an update on the Trauma Resiliency Initiative (at the 48 minute mark of the video) that included a call for more volunteers to work on-call with those affected by trauma in partnership with Carle. More information from a TRI facebook post:
We are still looking for individuals who might be willing to provide a meaningful role in supporting individuals and families impacted by gun violence.

Whatever your gifts are – we need for you!

However, we are especially looking for individuals who :
· Might be willing to participate in our response efforts at Carle & in the community*
· Who want to make a commitment to serve on a care team to provide support to a family/individual impacted by gun violence,
· And/or individuals who want to part of our mental health support network*!
Contact information and additional details at that facebook post here. Simms also highlighted Helen Neville's work with the #PowerUp project, "a youth participatory action research project exploring youth civic and community engagement." There are couple specific neighborhood safety meetings coming up in Urbana March 3rd at Salt & Light and Champaign the month after that. More details on those safety meetings to come.

Facilitator Tracy Parsons spoke after Karen Simms and had an overview of the violence response work being done to build infrastructure and address the needs of the community through TRI and other Community Coalition efforts.

Lodgic Everyday Community had a presentation on their non-profit facility in town (introduced at the 55:50 mark in the video), the Kids Camp, events and other services. The video presentation begins here at the minute mark. A quick overview from Lodgic's about page on their website:
Lodgic is an ambitious new concept to do more of what the Moose have been doing since 1888. The Moose is one of the original fraternal service organizations that shaped the 20th century in America. We were doing great things for communities across America long before Fred and Barney joined Bedrock’s Water Buffalo Lodge.

We’ve been supporting communities, inspiring working families, and caring for at-risk children for more than 100 years. Lodgic is an all-new way for a new generation to participate in the timelessly good things we've always stood for — to work hard, take care of each other, and have fun.
More information at their website here.

There was also an overview of the upcoming 2020 Census work and the importance of getting everyone counted locally at the 1:09:30 mark in the video. It included information about what to expect, what questions Census takers don't ask and how they identify themselves. It also had an update on the ongoing hiring for Census workers and how to apply at the 2020 Census hiring website here.

Other Community Programs in the News:

An area Peace Meal program was looking for volunteers, especially for delivery in various locations in the County. From WCIA:
A program that delivers meals to seniors is in need of volunteers. It’s called the Peace Meal program, and it’s about more than just food. These volunteers also check on clients and make sure they’re doing okay. That lets them be independent longer.

Most of them would be delivery drivers. The meals will already be packaged and bagged. All volunteers will have to do is pick them up and hit the road. These volunteers can have a short conversation with the clients and make sure they’re doing okay. This is important because most of the clients are seniors and need someone to check on them. It also lets family members know they don’t have to worry. In many cases, meal deliveries are the best part of the clients’ day.
More information at the full article here. More contact information on the program at its website here and older overview from the Rantoul Press here.

There was an update on the Peace Pilgrimage of Centennial High School students to the non-violence training center in Atlanta. From the News-Gazette last week:
The trip is hosted by Centennial’s after-school Empower club, which works to dismantle rape culture and gender-equality issues.

Most of the students heading to Atlanta today are members of Empower, but others volunteered, had violence impact their lives in some way or were nominated by school administrators.

With every trip comes a price tag, but Hindes said all participants have been actively raising funds to keep costs as low as possible. Every student attending is on a scholarship, so no one has to pay full price for the trip.
More at the full article here. The group made a presentation at the December 2019 Community Coalition covered in a Cheat Sheet post here.

The United Way was in the news for it's support of local dental care and expanding services for the homeless. From a WCCU blurb:
The agency said it has committed $50,000 for three years to help Promise Healthcare cover the salary of a second dentist at the Smile Healthy Dental Center.

Another $50,000 over three years will go to C-U at Home, to help merge with Austin's Place.
Full blurb available here with a brief video segment. The News-Gazette had additional coverage and details here. The United Way also recently honored the Champaign County Community Coalition's facilitator, Tracy Parsons, as a "Difference Maker." More on that from News-Gazette coverage earlier this month:
“It’s very humbling to receive an award like this,” said Tracy Parsons, who also serves as Champaign’s community-relations manager. “There are a lot of people that I work with through the Community Coalition that helped make this happen, so it’s not an individualized award, but it’s certainly humbling, and I’m very appreciative of the recognition.”

The Community Coalition works with various local groups to improve youth development and community engagement, and curb gun violence...

The United Way of Champaign County noted that Parsons works at all hours to help those affected by trauma from gun violence and that he also mentors young people and supports after-school opportunities.
More information about the event at the full article here. Parsons reiterated his view at this February meeting that the recognition belongs to the people who attend and work through the Community Coalition to help each other.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Democratic Party Airs More Dirty Laundry

The ongoing public feud with the Champaign County Democratic Party has continued to be pushed into the public by its own leadership for months now. From the Party Chair, Maryam Ar-Raheem denouncing the racism of her party at a recorded Champaign County Board meeting to endless public fights over appointments at public meetings and forums. The County Board Chairman Giraldo Rosales clarified on his campaign website recently that he wasn't invoking Goebbels as an attack on fellow Democrats after warning fellow Democrats against using propaganda tactics.

The recent candidate forums involving the Champaign County Democrats have involved comparisons of other Democrats with the tribalism of Cuban communists and accusations of Democratic Party cliques against diversity. Now those same accusations have been made by the Party Chair in emails sent to Democrats and Republicans on the County Board and since made public.

Again the accusations appear to suggest more coordination against diversity in Democratic leadership positions. The County Board Chairman, the Party Chair, and surrogates continue to accuse other members of the Democratic Party as being a part of the effort along with "predominantly white" young progressive groups, while including African-American members, a Latina member, women and Members of Color.

In the recent emails, the Party Chair accused the African-American Champaign County Clerk of acting in a way that could be seen as supporting one side of the feud against the Chairman Rosales and his appointments:
Dear County Clerk,

I am incredulous that the gross errors listed below appear on the County Clerk website.

1. Pranjal Vachaspati is still listed for County Board 9, although Cynthia Fears was sworn in to represent the district on January 23rd.

2. The term for Giraldo Rosales is listed a "12/2016 - 11/2022". His term ends 11/2020. Please be reminded that there are no six year terms on the County Board.

Fortunately, no county board member has publicly repeated the threats that Eric Thorsland made in response to the appointment of Connie Dillard-Myers, however, one could easily surmise that you may be using your office to show support for the acrimony of the County Board members who have targeted Chair Rosales and the persons he has appointed.

I am requesting that you expeditiously take action to correct the County Clerk website.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.

Maryam Ar-Raheem
The County Clerk responded by refusing to become part of what he deemed a "ridiculous feud" and pointed out that the County Party's website contained some of the same errors and out of date information:
Madame Chair,

I am responding to your email now as a member of the local Democratic Party.

Below are screenshots of the Champaign County Democratic Party's website as of yesterday AFTER you sent the email.

You all but accused me of using my office to further the ridiculous feud that is happening within the local party. Your assertion is that by not replacing Pranjal's picture and information with Ms. Fears information and picture, that I was doing something nefarious. Yet the party's website, that YOU control, still has Pranjal as the Representative for CB9. Should "one surmise that you are using your position to show support for the acrimony of County Board members who have targeted Chair Rosales and the persons he has appointed?"

For the record, Ms. Dillard-Myers called me on MLK Day to raise her concern and it was addressed within a day or two. Not sure Ms. Dillard-Myers why you thought it was appropriate to chime in on the email thread with that information but since you did, were you seconding the motion of the Chair that I was doing something inappropriate, or did you just think it needed to be said to the entire county board for some reason? I sure hope you take a principled approach with Ms. Ar-Raheem and ask her to spell your name correctly on the County Party's website as well. You were appointed before Ms. Fears so there has been plenty of time to make that spelling correction don't you think?

Let me be Crystal Clear Madame Chair. I have nothing to do with any perceived threats, or any attacks on you, Giraldo, Ms. Fears, Ms. Dillard-Myers or any other Democrats on the County Board. Your baseless attack just highlights the paranoia you have operated under since being elected to your second term and that is something I cannot help you with.

Lastly, given that we are Democrats, I am incredulous that you would send what is meant to disparage my character and ability to run my office, to the Republicans who are still reeling from losing to me and looking for every opportunity to tear me down. Maybe it was your intent for them to use your lies to hurt me... be advised, NO weapon formed against me shall prosper!
Connie Dillard-Myers added a reply riddled with misspellings, errors, and frequent ALL CAPS to repeatedly demand the County Clerk "proof, reproof, and then proof it again" in order to be a professional person such as herself. As much as that may sound like a biased description, the exact text with errors left as they appear will show it to be accurate:
COUNTY CLERK Aaron Ammons - I CHIMED IN BECAUSE IT WAS ME WHO.POINTED OUT THE ERROR IN MY NAME ON YOUR OFFICIAL WEB SITE to you and CCDChair Ar-Raheem. The initial error started on your office's official web site and spreaded from there. I can tell because one on the ELECTED OFFICIALS site was identical to the initial spelling on your site. So, this stems from your ERROR. Spoke with you that night. You changed the certificate, but fail to correct any other documents connected to you offices process because somehow it made to your website as the official spelling anyway. Why? It should have been corrected because I pointed this out before the processing of being added to the county county CLERK's official web site. This is so elementary because as professionals, we always proof and reproof your work, especially as an official governing body -- this is unacceptabl, escially since YOU are the county's record keeper. Should we be inspecting all your work? I hope this takes priority for office today and serve as a learning lesson. PROOF, REPROOF AND THEN PROOF IT AGAIN. Don't get mad. Get busy and do your job. Clean up your mess. Yall quick to criticize other but can not take it when its your turn.


Connie Dillard-Myers

Please note that there is only one "E" in my last name and its after the "Y"
Connie Dillard-Myers gives some weight in these emails to a couple sources that saw her appear to go after her primary opponent after the LWV Candidate Forum earlier this month. Her forum conclusions criticizing Democratic cliques and her clear disdain and frustration with other Democrats was on display there and she appears to be in alignment with the County Board Chairman and Party Chair in believing there is an organized racist effort against them. Apparently they believe this is being done even with the help of other Democratic Party members who are People of Color.

In elected offices, on the County Board, and other candidates, they have been suggesting that there is a coordinated effort against diversity in positions of power by other Democrats, even as they openly target a diverse range of Democratic Party members as being part of those efforts.

Preliminary Reaction:

A couple initial reactions from other County officials and candidates included County Board member Jim Goss:
Honestly I am more worried about our clerk and the upcoming election with new software that has not been adequately tested than I am about what I perceive as an inner party issue.  The issues at the county are larger than someone's name being misspelled.
Emily Rodriguez who is running in a primary race against the current County Board Chairman Giraldo Rosales said the emails made her cringe, but that she wasn't surprised:
In my experience, that is how old-guard Democrats like Rosales communicate with constituents. It’s one reason I’m in this race. If our most vulnerable neighbors weren’t paying the consequences, the chaos they cause would almost be comical.

On March 17, voters will decide what it means to be a Democrat in Champaign County. The progressive candidates running for Champaign County Board share a vision. We want to use the county board as a safety net for those that need it. We want to solve problems. We’re raising expectations. Every vote cast for a progressive candidate is a vote to revitalize the Democratic Party of Champaign County from the bottom-up.
Jennifer Straub, who is running in another primary race with one of the Chairman's appointees expressed confidence in the County Clerk's office:
I have total confidence in the ability of the County Clerk’s Office staff to remain neutral and professional in the way they conduct their work. 
Most of the other people involved in the email exchange or referenced in it did not respond to questions or opportunities to add their perspective.

Primary elections, by definition, involve infighting between competing interests within a party. In elections where the biggest coalition often wins, it also by that same virtue invites more competing interests to the table. Normally these battles are fought with some civility and decorum for the sake of winning in the general election. Rivalries, frustrations, and personal slights play out behind the scenes, just as with almost all human affairs. It never helps a party to hurt its overall image in the public square.

Training Opportunities

There are so many free and public training and education opportunities happening in the area, it can be impossible to keep up. This post highlights just a few upcoming opportunities in the area and/or related to local government. Topics cover tutoring, tutor training, black birthing know your rights workshop, Open Meetings Act and FOIA training, court stenography, trauma, women's shelter volunteers, and "pushout."

Project READ at Parkland College has free classes coming up for adults to get tutoring in reading, English as a second language, and math. It also offers introductory training and has upcoming classes for volunteer tutors:
Project READ provides free tutoring to adult learners who seek to improve their basic reading, writing, math, and English skills. This program is made possible by volunteers who give their time to improve the quality of life for hundreds of people in our community.

Together, we have provided support to adult learners in District 505 since 1984. Our office is housed in the Adult Education building at Parkland College in Champaign.
More links and information at the Project READ website here. Additional information for those interested in becoming a tutor for the program and taking advantage of the introductory tutoring course available here.

"Know Your Rights workshop" on Black Birthing. Smile Politely highlighted an educational event addressing the higher mortality rate for black maternity and birthing health. The program offers to educate participants on their rights to promote greater self-advocacy and safety against current systemic shortcomings. From the Smile Politely blurb:
On February 29th and March 7th, from 2-4 p.m. at Douglass Branch Library, Tafi Brown and Isis Rose are hosting Champaign-Urbana's first ever "Know Your Rights" workshop for black birthing people. This workshop will prepare families for hospital birth by addressing racial disparities in maternal health, emphasizing consumer rights, and teaching tools for self-advocacy during pregnancy, labor, and birth.

On February 29th, Chicago-based birth professionals Jeanine Logan and Shaquan Dupart of Birthworker Baes podcast will co-facilitate the workshop sharing their expertise in midwifery, herbalism, breastfeeding, and more. If you are a person of childbearing age, currently pregnant, or simply interested in black maternal health this event is for you. This event is free and open to the public. Parents with babies and small children are encouraged to attend!
Full blurb available here. The event's website with additional information is available here.

OMA/FOIA: The Illinois Attorney General's website has a couple free training modules intended for public employees who need to understand the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act rules. The training, however, is also free to the public as well here. For folks interesting in learning more about the rules of public meetings or how to request information from public bodies using FOIA requests, it's a very useful tool.

Court Stenography: For anyone interested in becoming a Court Reporter, there are local training opportunities coming up next month at the Champaign Public Library. In a News-Gazette story last month about a Douglass County court reporter retiring and there being a shortage of potential replacement court reporters to fill the role, they also highlighted this upcoming training opportunity.
Late last summer, court reporters around the state launched a series of introductory classes to people interested in the trade for which a college degree is not required.

People could sign up for four weeks worth of classes taught for free by certified reporters to see if it was worth pursuing. One of the first round of classes was taught in Champaign. There were others in another 10 cities...

The next “First Steps” classes are scheduled for March 17, 24, and 31 at the Champaign Public Library, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Full article with more information here (the portion on the First Steps classes is towards the bottom of the page). More information is available from the Illinois Court Reporters website here.

Trauma Informed Care: This week there are also continuing classes on trauma informed care by the Trauma Resilience Initiative. More information is available in the TRI presentation at the Champaign County Community Coalition covered at a previous Cheat Sheet post here. This week begins a two class training for people to become educators on trauma informed care. More details from the facebook event page:
The CU Trauma & Resilience Initiative invites you to attend our Educator training to learn how to educate others about trauma and healing!

We are looking for a few good educators and teachers who want to feel more comfortable talking about trauma!

Meet us on Monday, February 17th & 24th at the Champaign Public Library, Busey Conference Room from 12:30- 4:30 pm.

We're looking for individuals who want to help:
-Educate others in the community, their organizations, groups or
 families about trauma;
-Help share information with families, community members, and
 friends about healing from trauma and resiliency;
-Share resources with those impacted by trauma(s) and help identify
 and find healing and helpful solutions!
More information at the event page here. There's also another trauma informed care class for those working with people affected by trauma coming up next Sunday. More information on that training event here. A list of the ongoing TRI training events here at their facebook page.

Austin's Place women's shelter has training for volunteers coming up this week as well. From the CU Progressive Calendar description:
Are you interested in volunteering with Austin's Place? Come join us for one of our training sessions. We'll discuss the services we provide, go through procedures, offer opportunities to sign up for nights, and answer any questions you may have.

Saturday, February 22, 10:00 a.m.
More information available at their training information website here:
Training sessions are held at First United Methodist Church of Champaign, 210 W. Church Street, Champaign, IL.

Parking: ​There is a large parking lot behind the church building to the north, off of Hill Street.
We will gather at the entrance for training & a walk-through of the facility.
Opportunity to sign up for overnight shifts will be available towards the end of the training sessions.

Season 13 training:
January 30, 2020 at 6:30 p.m.
February 22, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

If you can't make it to the training sessions, you can still contact us about volunteering.
More information at that link here. Additional information on Austin's Place on their main website here. Recent news coverage on their future with CU at Home homeless program here. Recent News-Gazette coverage on Austin's Place here.

This is just a handful of training events that are free and/or available to the public that have been in local news coverage or coming up recently. There are other training opportunities happening regularly throughout the area. There are surely other events coming up that I'm simply not aware of or have overlooked. Sometimes digging through local news coverage and organizational updates I just don't get to them in time.

Pushout: One recent educational event that I wasn't able to get up on the Cheat Sheet in time involved a screening of the "Pushout" documentary film at Centennial High School by the C-U Black Teacher Alliance. The topic involves the disparities in perception and treatment of black girls in school, disciplinary outcomes and the school to prison pipeline. More information on that below for anyone interested in more information:

An older Cheat Sheet post on Unit 4 and addressing pushout is available here. A post on local education and discipline disparities here.


Saturday, February 15, 2020

HACC, FirstFollowers and FirstSteps

The Housing Authority of Champaign County has been in the news recently for their role in new reentry housing pilot program in collaboration with the FirstFollowers Re-entry Program as well as a recent federal funding announcement (more information on that funding from WCCU here). This post has information and links about the reentry housing pilot program. WCCU had an overview of the program and a video segment with interviews with FirstFollowers founder Marlon Mitchell. From their article last week:
FirstFollowers staff said it will be an adjustment. Residents will have their own room, a place to work out and a newfound sense of freedom. But the house will be supervised 24/7.

“They won't have those worries of where I’m going to sleep tomorrow? What am I going to eat tomorrow? Where am I going to work tomorrow?" Mitchell said.

FirstFollowers case managers will come up with a plan for each resident to help with anything from education or a job.
More from the full article here, including a video segment. More from the FirstSteps web page:
FirstFollowers has partnered with the Housing Authority of Champaign County to open FirstSteps Community House, a transitional residence for people coming home from men's prisons. The house officially opened in December of 2019.

FirstSteps offers a program for success. Our FirstFollowers peer mentors, who have been through the criminal justice system themselves and found that path to success, will support each resident on their journey back into the community. The house will be rent free for those who are admitted. 
More at that web page including an application link and additional information on groups who collaborated on the effort. The News-Gazette had additional details and interviews in their coverage last week:
Kilgore, the advocacy and outreach director for FirstFollowers, said the idea was sparked by the results of a community survey showed that 83 percent of respondents believed authorities should provide transitional housing. When David Northern took over as head of the housing authority, with transitional housing already on his agenda, a proposal was created and the partnership between FirstFollowers and HACC was born.

FirstFollowers was given money to renovate the house, and Kilgore said all of the work was done by men who have been through the program...

The house is owned by the housing authority, and FirstFollowers is responsible for utilities, although Kilgore said once residents are employed, they will be expected to contribute at least 10 percent of each paycheck toward utility bills. There are four bedrooms for residents and a fifth for an overnight supervisor.
That full article here.

Health Updates: Covid-19 and Meningitis

The latest updates on the Wuhan coronavirus, which the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is calling by its new name, Covid-19 are available at their website here. They link to the latest CDC update on February 13th which still describes the risk to those in the general American public without relevant contact as low (emphasis added):
The potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 virus is high, both globally and to the United States. The fact that this virus has caused illness, including illness resulting in death, and sustained person-to-person spread in China is concerning. These factors meet two of the criteria of a pandemic. It’s unclear how the situation will unfold, but risk is dependent on exposure. At this time, some people will have an increased risk of infection, for example healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 and other close contacts of patients with COVID-19. For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low at this time.
More from the full CDC information page here. The last update on the WILL coronavirus information blog was also on February 13th and is no longer linked on their main page. I'm not sure what that means for future updates.

There were unconfirmed stories about a potential coronavirus case a little over a week ago suggesting a child was under observation. Those stories were never confirmed and so far the only hard update I have on that is from WCCU quoting local health officials that there are no confirmed cases locally.

Bacterial Meningitis Case:

The McKinley Health Center on campus had an update on a meningitis case that stated that those possibly exposed have already been contacted:
A student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been diagnosed with a case of bacterial meningitis, as confirmed by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (C-UPHD). The student, a resident of off-campus housing, has been isolated at an area hospital for treatment, and authorities have identified and treated anyone in who may have had close contact with the student – including hospital staff.

As a result of those efforts, there is no longer believed to be a risk of the illness spreading.

Bacterial meningitis is a serious illness that spreads to other people through sharing personal items, kissing or prolonged close exposure such as residing in the same household. There is low risk to other people in the general community.

When the university learns of incidents like this, it acts to limit the potential spread within campus and into the broader community. The university works with state and local health officials, and McKinley Health Center to contact the students, staff, faculty members or others in the community who may have been exposed during that period. At this time, C-UPHD or McKinley has contacted all those identified at risk.
That news release available here. There was also coverage in the News-Gazette and WCIA. From the News-Gazette article:
The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District’s public health administrator, Julie Pryde, said that since meningitis requires close contact to spread, it’s relatively easy to contain compared to diseases like measles.

“It’s been a busy day” tracking down the student’s associates and giving them antibiotics, Pryde said, but “there’s no risk to the community.”
That full article here. More general information on bacterial meningitis is available at the CDC here.

Other Health Updates:

WILL reported earlier this week that OSF Healthcare is promoting an app to help connect people who need emergency CPR response with people who know CPR:
OSF Healthcare is encouraging people to install an app on their phone that will alert them when people nearby are in need of life-saving CPR. The PulsePoint app launched a couple years ago in Peoria and Champaign counties and recently expanded to Vermilion county. The American Heart Association says the survival rate for people experiencing cardiac arrest is less than 12 percent but CPR can double or triple the chances of survival. OSF Healthcare reports that since PulsePoint launched in Champaign county in 2017, more than 7000 people have subscribed to the app. Formal CPR training is encouraged but not required.
From WILL's "News Around Illinois" update here. More on PulsePoint from the OSF news release including several informational videos here.

There was also a happier story from Smile Politely about how the local Champaign County Humane Society brings animals to visit nursing home residents who could benefit. A little more background is available from the CCHS on the Queenie Mills memorial dedication page:
Dr. Mills established the Pet-a-Pet program in 1978, through which volunteers took pets on weekly visits to residents of Champaign-Urbana nursing homes.  She knew that interacting with animals made people feel better, and made it part of her life’s work to provide that experience to those who could benefit the most; children and the elderly or infirm.
More on Queenie Mills here. More on the CCHA at their main website here.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

County Board COW 2/11

The Champaign County Board's Committee of the Whole (what is this?) was this week. The video is currently available through the live stream website's buffer here. It will be available on the Champaign County Clerk's YouTube Channel when posted here.

Public participation started with Dr. Dorothy Vura-Weis with an overview of jail programs, including community initiated services. Chairman Rosales asked if she had a website with all of that information, but she suggested the County create one.

Nathan Poulosky, a Democratic Precinct Committeeman for Cunningham 22 chastised Chairman Rosales for dismissing PCs as lazy and not attending meetings when explaining his appointment of Cynthia Fears at a previous County Board meeting. He argued it was insulting and hypocritical for the Chairman to question the dedication of PCs when he appoints people who didn't attend meetings.

Sheriff's Presentation:

The Sheriff presented his annual report (see previous Cheat Sheet post on that here) at the 13:35 minute mark in the video. There was an extended question and answer afterwards starting at the 24 minute mark. Topics ranged from the type of inmates housed at any given time, data collection hurdles, and some budget notes by the County Executive and what they meant.

Chairman Rosales towards the end of the Q & A, at around the 40:40 minute mark in the video, reiterated a campaign point against his opponent. He repeated his position against the County being an entity that provides services (a topic from the candidates forum and a disagreement at a recent local Democratic Party meeting).

Mahomet-Seymore CUSD Letter and Treasurer Updates:

The County Board received a letter to the County Treasurer's office that it expects interest earned on delayed pass-through funding to be paid to the district. The letter is available in the full agenda packet here on page 9(page 13 of the PDF). There was a question as to whether such a payment is past practice or required by statute, but staff was looking into that. Member Fortado suggested a possible public and formal response from the board to the letter at a later time.

Chairman Rosales reminded people that applications are still be accepted for a replacement Treasurer to be appointed until February 15th and he will make his decision soon after that date.

Honoring Brian Kelly:

The board honored the life and service of Chief Deputy in the Circuit Clerk's office, Brian Kelly. More on his life and service in the News-Gazette here. Circuit Clerk Katie Blakeman thanked the board and shared a bit of Kelly's sense of humor. The video of the reading of the resolution and comments begins at the 49 minute mark.

Other Items:

Steve Summers summarized the current status of the Facilities Committee work on jail consolidation options. More on that at a previous Cheat Sheet post here.

There was some discussion about the primary polling locations between some Republicans on the County Board and a staff member from the County Clerk's office about whether a polling location at Lake of the Woods required a more in depth process given the size of the location and the difference between having a polling location at the Elk Wood's Pavilion versus Pavilion #1. There seemed to be some disagreement on whether there was proper public notice of the change that was being approved. The resolution passed over some audible Republican nays afterward.

There was some discussion about the appropriateness of the County Executive announcing applications were being taken for the County's Supervisor of Assessment position where there is not currently a vacancy. Member Rector emphasized the requirements to notify the position holder before replacing them. The County Executive apologized for the confusion and insisted she had every intention of appointing the same person to the same position for the next term and that she would just be looking at applications to gauge interest for the position. Rector took issue with the plausibility of that explanation, beyond it being just confusing. Member Young reiterated his concerns about the appointing powers of the County Executive and the need for oversight.

A couple later items brought up the situation with the Treasurer's office again, with an estimate of the 10s of millions of dollars still owed to school districts raised by Member Goss and the Auditor and others discussing the overtime, accumulation of comp hours, and hard work by the staff and others in trying to resolve the problems remaining at the office.

Finally, there was a brief discussion about an infrastructure related TIF expansion that requires the County Board's sign off as part of the approval process. An attempt to explain Tax Increment Financing is available here. There was a bit of discussion by the board by those who don't like TIF financing of projects on why they opposed or would make an exception for this particular item. It passed with Member Thorsland in opposition. The item, once approved at the regular County Board meeting will be in the hands of the State of Illinois afterward.

The meeting adjourned at 8:14pm.

Second Candidate Forum Coverage

The full video of the second candidate forum is available here from CGTV (for the previous candidate forum click here). A lot of the local coverage focused on the Democratic primary U.S. Congressional candidates for IL13. The News-Gazette had a little bit about the County Board candidates in District 6 and 10 towards the end. From the News-Gazette Tuesday:
Incumbent Charles Young, a University of Illinois retiree, said he wouldn’t necessarily commit to voting with the Democratic caucus to select the Champaign County board chairman.

To be “quite honest, you got some funny-actin’ people within the party,” said Young, who said it’s important to be nonpartisan once elected.

His opponent, Busey bank manager DeShawn Williams, said he would.
More at that full article here. Below are some brief overviews of the County races and links to that portion of the forum.

Champaign County Board 6:

Video link to this portion here. Candidate information and links for the District 6 race here. Dr. Charles Young, the incumbent, focused on his desire for reforms and an independent and non-partisan approach as opposed to being a traditional politician. DeShawn Williams raised concerns about addressing gun violence locally and getting more information about County government to the public. Other topics included addressing poverty, jail consolidation, the County Executive form of government, and other issues.

It's probably fair to note that DeShawn Williams comments aligned more closely with the Democratic majority on the County Board on issues such as choosing a chairman and policy. Dr. Young's repeatedly took aim at other Democrats on the board and the Democratic County Executive. His criticisms continued through his closing statements, complaining about sneaky, deceptive and corrupt ways.

Champaign County Board 10: 

Video link to this portion here. Candidate information and links for the District 10 race here. Mary King, the challenger, began by highlighting that the previous holder of the District 10 seat, Dr. Tanisha King-Taylor, supported her as a replacement with a shared vision. Vacancy appointments have been a major issue of contention for the County Democratic Party recently (more on that at a previous Cheat Sheet post here). The incumbent, Connie Dillard-Myers, introduced herself by highlighting her long ties to the community and history working with the local Democratic Party.

King and Dillard-Myers both stated their priorities on jail consolidation concerns. King highlighted facilities issues, especially jail consolidation and reducing total beds under criminal justice reforms. Dillard-Meyers additionally supported a needs assessment and emphasized the need to look at the issue through the lens of the ongoing ramifications of slavery and discrimination in our society.

On choosing a chairman, Dillard-Myers was adamant she would support a Democratic Chair, but one that best suits District 10, while King said she would advocate independently, but respect the final choice of the Democratic caucus. Other topics included gun violence, poverty, and diversity on the board.

The forum ended with Dillard-Myers criticizing her predecessor for leaving due to her career. Mary King countered that King-Taylor had been a long-time resident prior to her career change. She argued that economic realities shouldn't exclude those under 50 from running for office. She again raised concerns about the appointment process. Dillard-Myers strongly argued against excluding African-Americans like her from the board and strongly criticized other Democratic Party cliques. While arguing for inclusiveness over divisiveness she alluded to accusations from her appointment.

County Board 9 Explanation:

At the end of the forum the League of Women Voters explained that the forum format requires both candidates to agree to attend. In the case of District 9, Democratic Candidate Jennifer Straub agreed to appear, but her opponent Cynthia Fears declined to appear. This made a forum impossible under the LWV rules. In the words of the moderator, the League "does not do interviews."

County Updates

The is post has a few updates related to County government prior to last night's County Board meeting (separate post available here). In this post:

  • County Clerk information on a local non-citizen voter due to a Secretary of State error
  • Highlights from the February Champaign County Reentry Council Meeting
  • State's Attorney's office receives part of a civil forfeiture to its funds

County Clerk Updates:

The Illinois Secretary of State's office had notified the public of a corrected error in the automatic registration system last month. The ramifications were still being determined at that time, including concerns about possible voting by ineligible voters. One of those concerns played out here locally. From WCIA last week:
In an email to WCIA, the Champaign County Clerk’s office said it learned through the State Board of Elections that one non-citizen voted in the general election. In January, County Clerk Aaron Ammons told WCIA seven people believed to be non-citizens had been automatically registered. Of that group, three cast ballots – two in the 2018 general election and one in the 2006 general election.

Chief Deputy Clerk Angela Patton said those voters were removed from the system. Ammons’ office sent letters to confirm their citizenship and haven’t heard back from any of them as of yet. One of the voters had moved to Douglas County, so the Douglas County Clerk’s office is handling that particular case.
Full blurb here. with an update on Douglas County removing the person in their jurisdiction from the voter rolls.

WAND had a video segment and short article on early voting in Champaign County that started last week here.

The corrected generic specimen ballots from a previous post may have an order error for presidential primary candidates passed down from the State Board of Elections. From the News-Gazette Tuesday:
Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons said his office has changed the ballot order for one race to reflect a correction made by the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The board notified the county clerk’s office Friday that it had incorrectly listed the ballot order of people running to be delegates to the Democratic National Convention, he said. “This affected approximately 100 people. All candidates were/ are on your ballot and running for the correct office,” Ammons said. “The mistake was the order in which the people running to be delegates to the Democratic National Convention, from the 13th and 15th Congressional districts, appeared on the ballot.”

Nobody was disenfranchised by the error, no votes are in jeopardy, nobody missed the opportunity to vote for the candidate of choice and all votes will be counted fairly and accurately, Ammons said.
Full blurb available here from the News-Gazette eEdition here (subscription). The local Republican Party tried to put the responsibility of the error on the local County Clerk when they highlighted it on this same blurb on their facebook page. Local progressives pointed to the State Board of Elections who had done the correction.

The issue appears to be simply one of order on the ballot for that particular race, so the corrected sample ballots printed in the paper last week are correct beyond that. The County Clerk has a request tool link for people to request their own specific sample ballot here.

Champaign County Reentry Council 2/5:

The February Reentry Council meeting (what is this?) included overviews of many of the jail programs highlighted in the recent Sheriff's annual report here. Some recent short term trends in reentry resources needed have focused on medical benefits and needs. Housing tends to have been the more dominant need previously. 

Transportation needs and looking towards public transportation options for various service providers was discussed. There are efforts to look into a reliable transportation option, funding and collaboration ideas to make it easy to connect people to that option.

REAL ID continues to be a challenge, not just to those struggling to get the proper documents in reentry, but even among service providers in the personal lives. People who get paperwork together and organized for other people as part of their job are having to make multiple visits and struggle with confusing requirements and explanations for their own personal needs. There was a suggestion towards collaborating with the Secretary of State's office to get a better understanding and working relationship to make the process manageable for reentry service providers.

There was also a very good explanation of the funding and referral organization for the local reentry programs from the County's Mental Health Board and County Government. Specifically there was an explanation by Mark Driscoll of the MHB on how that funding goes to programs for different clients and situations. Because a lot of the funding for programs like these come from grants and can have specific requirements, the perspective from the funding side can be very different than for someone going through the criminal justice system itself. Ideally a person going through the criminal justice system will only have to worry about getting connected to the resources they need.

A better breakdown of the funding side of the County's work in reentry will likely be the topic of its own Cheat Sheet later.

State's Attorney and Civil Forfeiture:

In a unique bit of budget news for a County office, the State's Attorney is getting some funds from a civil forfeiture. From the News-Gazette last week:
A police stop of a tractor-trailer truck in Champaign County about three months ago has resulted in a bit of a windfall for Illinois State Police and the Champaign County state’s attorney’s office.
Judge Ronda Holliman has ordered that the rig and $658,030 found in it on Nov. 4 be forfeited to authorities after no one claimed the vehicle or the cash, both believed tied to sinister activity...

The law concerning forfeitures spells out that the state’s attorney’s office in the county where the seizure happened gets 12.5 percent of the proceeds. The Illinois office of the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor gets 12.5 percent, the seizing agency gets 65 percent, and the Illinois State Police get 10 percent for administrative fees.

In this case, that means state police will net $493,522, and the Champaign County state’s attorney and the state appellate prosecutor offices will receive $82,254 each. Still to come will be the proceeds from the sale of the truck-trailer rig.
That full article here with more information on the stop incident and the civil forfeiture process.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Second LWV Candidate Forum

Last week the Champaign County's League of Women Voters, NAACP, and the News-Gazette hosted a candidate forum including some Democratic primary County Board candidates, Circuit Clerk candidates, and Judicial candidates. Today they'll be hosting a second candidate forum with Democratic primary U.S. Congressional candidates and County Board candidates from District 6 and District 10. For more information on tonight's candidate forum, see the LWV's facebook event page here. For more information about the previous candidate forum, including coverage and video links, see this previous Cheat Sheet post.

Forum schedule from the event page:
7:00 - 7:45 U.S. House of Representative - IL-13: Betsy Dirksen Londrigan; Stefanie Smith
7:50 - 8:20 County Board 6: DeShawn Williams; Charles Young
8:25 - 8:55 County Board 10: Mary King; Connie Dillard-Myers
The event page still states that the section for "County Board 9 is still pending candidate confirmation," but last I heard Cynthia Fears had officially declined to participate. Jennifer Straub has publicly stated she planned to attend and meet with voters around the event. The District 9 seat on the County Board has been the issue of controversy within the local Democratic Party in a long line of appointment controversies between competing factions within that party. More on that in a previous Cheat Sheet post here.

For more information about the upcoming election, check out our Elections page or some of the quick links below:
Next major County races in the March 17th, 2020 primary.
Preliminary 2020 Primary Information:

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Hospital Property Tax Dispute Update

There was a big ruling with one of the hospital property tax cases that have been lingering over local governments of Champaign County for years now. The News-Gazette had initial coverage on their website Wednesday night when the ruling came down:
The Carle health system has prevailed in a 13-year-old legal quest to win back its charitable tax exemptions on four Urbana properties, among them Carle Foundation Hospital.

In a lengthy written opinion issued Wednesday, Judge Randy Rosenbaum found that Carle was entitled to partial tax exemptions on the properties for seven out of eight disputed years, 2005-11, and ordered the Champaign County treasurer to issue Carle a tax refund of more than $6.2 million.

The city of Urbana, Cunningham Township, several local taxing authorities and the Illinois Department of Revenue — all defendants in the 2007 suit filed by Carle — were further ordered to pick up the tab for the cost of the litigation, excluding Carle’s attorney fees.
Full article available here. Thursday's News-Gazette eEdition also has a basic timeline, going all the way back to 2004, explaining how we got to this point with Carle and the property tax disputes here (subscription). Today's paper had a breakdown of the amount owed by the individual taxing bodies:
The amounts the other six taxing districts will owe include:

— Champaign County: $1,481,897.

— Champaign County Forest Preserve: $156,913.

— Parkland College: $967,414.

— Cunningham Township: $367,295.

— Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District: $517,467.

— Champaign-Urbana Public Health District: $208,589.

While the refund must be made by the treasurer’s office, Weibel said, the money to cover the check will be coming from the seven taxing districts.
That full article available here which also had some initial response from the County Treasurer. Here's another updated News-Gazette article with a response from the Mayor of Urbana:
“We have long contended that Carle Foundation Hospital should support the health of the community in which it is located by paying its fair share of costs for public safety, infrastructure, schools, parks and other core services,” she said. “We believe that the cost of medical charity care for a service region of 1.4 million people should not be borne by taxpayers in one small city of 42,500 people.”

Marlin said the city will be considering its options going forward, but she wants to set Urbana taxpayers’ minds at rest that this ruling won’t affect Urbana’s tax rate and city services. Carle’s tax payments over the years that are now subject to a court-ordered refund have been set aside, she said.
That full article here. More on Urbana's statement on the ruling from WCCU here. WCIA had even more on how the City of Urbana was prepared for the worst here. How exactly this well affect the County and what it means for other hospital property tax exemptions and the budget, I'm not entirely sure yet. The topic has come up before on the Cheat Sheet in regards to the County's financial ratings and outlook and in long term budget concerns of the County board.

More on that to come...

Sheriff Updates

A few Champaign County Sheriff items have been in the news recently, including the release of the CCSO's 2019 annual report, a recent News-Gazette article on the new Sheriff's first year in office, and an annual scholarship that could use more applicants. There were Jail Updates on the Cheat Sheet earlier this week on the latest on the County Board and jail consolidation planning. First on the annual report available here.

The annual report has 38 pages with lots of pictures, organizational charts, and overviews of the various areas of responsibility handled by the Sheriff's Office. From rural law enforcement needs and Student Resource Officers to backing up local agencies within the county and providing jails/correction services. The jails and correction side gets a nice basic overview starting on page 20 which later gets into demographic data and intake data on pages 23-34. Excerpt from page 21 of the report:
Two of the biggest issues affecting the Champaign County Jail, and jails across the nation, are mental health and classification issues. As such, an initiative has been underway to not only provide a facility that can adequately address the mental health and medical needs of inmates in custody, but also work to build community alternatives to divert people from jail who do not pose a safety risk and might be better served with community alternatives to incarceration. Regarding classification, some inmates cannot be around others – female inmates, inmates with mental health issues, and rival gang members are some examples. This has caused strain on jail resources to adequately meet classification standards while maintaining a safe facility for inmates and correctional staff.
On page 34 is an overview of the various programs already being implemented in the jails' current space:

I've been slowly gathering information on programs and resources related to the jail and reentry via the Champaign County Reentry Council to share as I can. There is more information on the Cheat Sheet about Criminal Justice programs at various steps of the criminal justice process here.

The News-Gazette's coverage of the Sheriff's first year highlighted some of the learning curve issues of taking over an office like this:
— “Figuring out the jail. I had no corrections experience. Law enforcement I knew. Figuring out the standards and the people we’re dealing with and how we manipulate all the people (in custody) to make sure its a safe environment was a learning curve.”

— “We’re going through union negotiations. I have always been on the union side. I have to stop and remember what side I’m on now.”

— “Figuring out how the sheriff’s office fits in with the violent crime in Champaign and Urbana while still making sure we’re serving the unincorporated areas to our full potential. We always work well together, but we want to make sure we’ve discussed with the big chiefs how to take a proactive role to make sure we don’t see the violence levels (increase). It’s a much more coordinated effort.”
More at that full article here.

The Daily Illini had an overview of the Illinois Sheriffs' Association Scholarship that needs more applicants and which our County Sheriff has been trying to get more attention for. From the Daily Illini earlier this week:
The ISA will be awarding over $58,000 in college scholarships throughout the state of Illinois to students who are pursuing higher education. Requirements to obtain this scholarship include being a permanent Illinois resident, using the scholarship for higher institutes in Illinois and being enrolled for the 2020-2021 school year.

Dustin Heuerman, sheriff for Champaign County, said he hopes this scholarship will have a positive effect on the recipient with financial need. Heuerman will be awarding one scholarship of $500...

Karli Waldrep, last year’s scholarship recipient, student at Northern Illinois University and Champaign County native, said she was grateful for receiving the scholarship. According to Waldrep, she said local scholarships should be recognized more by students to get additional financial help.

“With local scholarships, they want students to go to college and help with their financial need for college,” Waldrep said. “I feel like you’re better off getting local scholarships than if you try to go on a website and apply for a random scholarship where millions of students apply.”
That full article with a lot more details here. The scholarship application is available here form the ISA's website to be turned in to your local Sheriff's Office.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Early Voting and Sample Ballots

[UPDATE x2: Corrected sample ballots were printed in today's News-Gazette on pages A5-A8 (available here at their subscription eEdition). Sample ballot mages below have been updated. The County Clerk confirmed yesterday on twitter that personalized sample ballots are now available through a request tool available here. Full specimen ballots like those in the paper today (including races from all districts) will be available on the County Clerk's website when ready.]

[UPDATE 2/5/2020 at 10:49am: There was a notice from the Champaign County Clerk a few minutes ago that the sample ballots in today's paper contained errors. The sample ballots below may not be accurate. Corrected and approved ballots will be in tomorrow's News-Gazette according to the tweet:


Updated Original Post:

Early voting starts TODAY, February 6th, and Vote-by-Mail ballots can NOW be accepted as well. The News-Gazette had sample ballots in their eEdition today (subscription) from the Champaign County Clerk's office. Click to enlarge the page images:

Democratic Generic Primary Sample Ballot:


Republican Generic Primary Sample ballot:


These are generic sample ballots for Champaign County only and include multiple voting districts. Democrat and Republican ballots are on two separate pages each. UPDATE: Personalized sample ballots are now available through a request tool available here. From the County Clerk's Twitter page in response to a question about this:
We are making available the full specimen ballot (Republican and Democratic) on our website and if anyone wants to view their individual ballot they can use the request link to view.
Those full specimen sample ballots should be here when available.

Additional Information and Links:

Non-partisan Candidate Guide from the Champaign County Voters Alliance click here.

More information from the County Clerk's office on Early Voting times and locations here.

More information from the County Clerk's office on Vote-by-Mail applications, ballots and deadlines here.

[Updated: Originally posted on 2/5/2020 at 10:32am.]

Jail Updates

Jail consolidation was discussed at this week's County Facilities Committee meeting (jail consolidation discussion begins at the 11 minute mark). Video of the meeting is temporarily available in the buffer on the County's live streaming page, available on the County Clerk's YouTube channel when posted here. The agenda packet here includes a letter from the County Sheriff starting on page 5 of the packet (page 6 of the PDF file) that explains the current situation of the jails and needs. He explains the situation and needs in relation to desired criminal justice reforms that could further reduce the jail population.

The full letter is worth the read, but below are a couple excerpts starting with a brief assessment:

He also gave a brief overview of potential options being considered, or at least likely to be considered by the County Board:

Full letter available here (page 5 of the packet, page 6 of the PDF file). The Sheriff discussed the letter and explained that this list wasn't all inclusive and more thoughts at the 21 minute mark of the video.

A worthwhile highlight was at the 31 minute mark with a question by County Board Member Dr. Charles Young on comparing to other counties and jail facilities. The Sheriff wasn't able to point to a perfectly similar situation, but he did go over several other scenarios faced elsewhere. He also pointed out that if the worst case scenario forced them to close the downtown jail immediately, what the hurdles would be in finding space for inmates in surrounding areas such as Piatt County. The very next question and answer continued to helped explain some of the logistical situations with keeping inmates with special needs separated and safe.

At the 55 minute mark the chairman and members of the committee clarified where they ended: approving (by a general sense of the committee) getting more information on a compromise plan similar to the Sheriff's #2 option in his letter, but with more flexible housing to offset logistical concerns. It would still have even fewer beds than the full Reifstack study. The goal being to get a solid plan for the board to approve by this summer (possibly as early as June) to move forward. Then there would be a further need for a referendum for the public to approve it.

The next Facilities meeting will be March 3rd.

Background Information:

Below is a little background that could help constituents understand where everyone is coming from in this meeting. The discussion revolved around a jail consolidation study that was recently updated and discussed by the full County Board in October. From a previous Cheat Sheet post:
The Board didn't vote to approve any jail plan at this meeting, the agenda item being changed to "discussion only" on an the addendum. WILL had a nice overview of the Jail issue that night:
An updated proposal for county jail consolidation was brought before the full Champaign County Board for the first time Thursday night. Now county board members must decide how to deal with both a pressing need --- and a daunting price tag.

The plan, from Reifsteck Reid, the firm of Champaign architect Charles Reifsteck, is an update of a previous plan presented to the county board in 2015. As outlined by Reifsteck at Thursday night’s meeting, the plan calls for closing the rundown jail and sheriff’s office built in the 1980’s in downtown Urbana. The 1990’s satellite jail in east Urbana would renovated and expanded to replace the downtown jail’s capacity and the sheriff’s offices. In addition, its design would allow flexibility in separating inmate populations and providing space for inmate visitations and programs.

County board members are trying to come to grips with its cost: $47 million (compared to $32 million for the 2015 jail plan) to close the rundown jail and sheriff’s office in downtown Urbana, and enlarge and modernize the newer satellite jail. The rebuilt jail’s capacity would be 283 inmates, twelve less than the two present jails.
Full article here with some brief perspectives and takes. A more detailed presentation of the plan is available at this Cheat Sheet post.
The full Cheat Sheet post on that October County Board meeting is available here.