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Cunningham training program rehabilitates properties, offenders

Cunningham-trng-programCHICAGO –Sheriffs and units of local governments will now have a new tool to address blighted properties, create transitional housing and reduce the number of inmates who reoffend under a new law signed by the governor.

State Senator Bill Cunningham (D- Chicago) sponsored the Neighborhood Restoration and Alternative Sentencing Act as a way to improve neighborhoods and train work-release inmates in practical, construction skills giving them a better chance at employment after completing their sentences.

“This is a unique solution that helps solve three separate problems facing communities in Illinois. It reduces the rate that former inmates reoffend because they can’t find lawful work, repurposes blighted properties and gives local governments new housing options,” Cunningham said.

The law authorizes Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to train county work-release inmates while rehabilitating, demolishing or rebuilding claimed property. The vacant houses targeted by the sheriff's programs are located in poor communities and have been foreclosed on by a bank.

The refurbished buildings can then be used by city and county governments as transitional housing to house the homeless, mentally ill or low income families.

This program, pioneered by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, will apply to counties across the state.

The law takes effect Jan. 1.

Link honored as Environmental Champion

IEC-2014-LinkIn a time when it seems that doing the right thing environmentally may not align with doing the profitable thing, the Illinois Environmental Council acts as a guiding light. Every year, the organization awards top legislators with the “Environmental Champion - 100% Scorecard” award and places them on their environmental scorecard. Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan) was one of the recipients this year.

“It is an honor to receive this award from the Illinois Environmental Council,” Link said. “While our job as legislators is to work for the people of this great state, if we didn’t also do our part to look after the environment of Illinois the people would wind up in some sorry shape.”

In order to receive the honor, legislators needed to vote for 11 pieces of legislation that the IEC deemed key to their environmental goals. Legislators who did not receive 100 percent awards needed to vote in favor of at least eight of the ten. Those bills for 2014 include:

  • HB5657, which sought to change regulations for vendors at farmer’s markets, allowing them to sell in multiple counties with greater ease.
  • HB4227 streamlines requirements for electronics recyclers, making it easy to comply with the Electronic Products Recycling Act.
  • HB2427, which authorizes a one-time $30 million supplemental procurement from the Renewable Energy Resources Fund for solar energy.
  • SB2727 bans plastic microbeads from use in facial scrubs and body washes.
  • SB2780 which creates funding for green stormwater infrastructure and pollution prevention projects.

While not one of the bills on the scorecard, Link sponsored SB2928 in an effort to keep prescription drugs out of Lake County’s water system by creating a drug disposal pilot program in that area.

"Senator Link has been a constant advocate for the environment in Springfield throughout his career,” said Jen Walling, the IEC’s executive director. “This year, he did excellent work to protect water from pollution from pharmaceuticals and also was a leader on renewable energy. I am pleased to congratulate him on his perfect record this year."

Stadelman bill to prevent guardian abuse receives national attention

300pxStadelmanROCKFORD – A bill sponsored by Illinois Senator Steve Stadelman to strengthen the protection of adults in need of a legal guardian was signed by Governor Pat Quinn this week.

Senate Bill 1051 amends the Illinois Probation Act of 1975 by emphasizing that judges consider the welfare of the dependent adult when appointing a guardian. The bill also requires the inclusion of contact information for physicians providing evaluations, reports or opinions on a person’s mental or physical disability for the purpose of naming a legal guardian.

“The legislation now specifically states ‘best interest and well-being’ of the dependent adult shall be the court's main concern in selection of the guardian,” said Stadelman, D-Rockford “The goal is to help prevent guardianship from being used in a convenience or retaliatory manner.”

Stadelman worked with Sylvia Rudek, director of the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse, to pass the legislation, which both houses of the Illinois General Assembly approved unanimously. Rudek, who lives in Mount Prospect, Illinois, was subsequently named by Money Magazine to its “50 Heroes: 50 States” list for her efforts on SB 1051 and other reforms.

“SB 1051 provides clear language along with protections for the elderly and disabled adults of Illinois who are under guardianship,” Rudek said. “Senator Stadelman is to be commended for reaching across the aisle and working with Rep. David Harris to gain bipartisan support. NASGA looks forward to working with Senator Stadelman in the future to further protect Illinois seniors and infirm adults.”

Senator Bertino-Tarrant moves forward with Plainfield Park Board appointee selection process

082814JBTIn an effort to involve community input, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) has formed a selection committee of four Plainfield community residents who will be responsible for reviewing resumes and conducting interviews of applicants interested in serving on the Plainfield Park Board.

“I feel that community members involved with the selection process is especially critical due to the reasons we were called on to intervene in the first place,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “I want to ensure that we make the best decision possible for the Plainfield Park District and for our community.”

State law requires Senator Bertino-Tarrant to appoint one individual to the Plainfield Park Board.

The selection committee, which will be comprised of a municipal government official, a park advocacy official and two community residents, will narrow the pool of initial applicants to two individuals. Senator Bertino-Tarrant will then make her appointment based on that final pool.

Interested applicants must be eligible to serve on the park board by having resided within the Plainfield community for at least one year prior to the appointment.  A person is not eligible to serve as park commissioner if that person is in arrears in the payment of a tax or other indebtedness due to the park district or has been convicted in any court located in the United States of a felony.  

Individuals interested in applying for the Plainfield Park Board position must submit a resume, along with answers to the following questions:

1.    Please explain the vision you would bring to the Plainfield Park District if you were selected to serve?
2.    What skills and experiences do you have that would be an asset to the park district?
3.    If you have ever been a member of a public body or organization that has experienced conflicts, please describe how you worked to resolve such conflicts.

Applications for the park board appointment will be accepted through Friday, September 5, 2014.  Interested individuals should send their resume and answers to the application questions to Senator Bertino-Tarrant’s district office at 15300 Rt. 59 Unit 201, Plainfield, IL or via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Please contact Senator Bertino-Tarrant’s district office at 815-254-4211 with questions or for additional information.