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Cunningham Statement on Illinois Leaders' Meeting

cunningham hmstdexempt(CHICAGO)—State Senator Bill Cunningham, who represents portions of Worth, Orland and Palos Townships in the southwest suburbs and the neighborhoods of Mt. Greenwood, Beverly, Morgan Park and Auburn-Gresham in Chicago, released the following statement on the leaders' meeting set for December 1:

“I am glad a meeting is finally occurring, but what we need now is substantial progress,” said Senator Cunningham. “I hope the governor comes to the table with every intention of bringing together a common-sense proposal that puts Illinois back on the path to financial security without sacrificing critical programs. I am glad there is a meeting but at this point we need more than just meetings.”

Sen. Hunter calls for termination of Officer Jason Van Dyke

hunter guardianshipCHICAGO – In response to news reports about the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, a Chicago teen, Majority Caucus Whip Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago, 3) released the following statement:

“Too many families, including my own, have been touched by violence in Chicago. As we turn to the police for help, yet again we are faced with disappointment. I’m calling on Superintendent Garry McCarthy to terminate Officer Jason Van Dyke immediately to prove this horrific circumstance is not symbolic of the Chicago Police Department’s ethics.”

Raoul on McDonald shooting video: Don’t be destructive, but don’t be calm

raoul DRCHICAGO — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement as the public awaits the court-ordered release of a video recording of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald by Chicago Police Department Officer Jason Van Dyke:

When I learned that a video of Laquan McDonald’s final moments was to be released to the public, I knew that many would fear its impact, remembering the self-destruction oppressed communities elsewhere have experienced following acts of police brutality and excessive force.

I believe we can do better in Chicago. But I am not calling for calm. There’s nothing to be calm about. Instead, I’m calling for sustained, focused, constructive outrage that demands full accountability but doesn’t destroy community.

Because of legislation I advanced earlier this year, we now have legal protocols in place that mandate independent investigations of police-involved deaths, expose the misdeeds of rogue cops so they don’t quietly move from one department to another, require improved officer training on bias and the use of force and establish funding and protocols for the use of body cameras.

But I know it’s not enough.

Everyone responsible in this atrocity – not only Officer Van Dyke, but any individual who participated in a cover-up that delayed justice for Laquan McDonald and his family – must be held accountable. We should direct our outrage toward asking our local prosecutor whether it would have taken 13 months to resolve this case if the video had shown a civilian committing the same act. We should ask why Office Van Dyke was still on the beat after 17 public complaints were filed against him and the City paid half a million dollars to settle allegations that he had used excessive force. We should question the ability of Chicago’s independent police review authority, which has recent come under scrutiny from the Better Government Association, to do its job with integrity. And as we call on our neighbors to abandon the no-snitch code, in our outrage we demand the same of law enforcement.

Watch the video. Don’t be destructive. But don’t be calm.

Haine, local officials tour levee construction

Haine levee 1EAST ALTON– Eighty-six miles of levees separate the Metro East from the waters of the Mississippi River, and those levees are receiving much needed upgrades.

State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) state and county officials visited one construction site to review the progress of these updates to the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District.

“These upgrades are an investment in the safety of the entire Metro East. Every dollar of this project goes toward protecting businesses, property and—most importantly—lives. It’s impressive to see a project of this scale and complexity on schedule and under budget,” Haine said.

Chuck Etwert, SWIFPD’s chief supervisor, conducted the tour and gave the officials an update on the system-wide upgrades.

“High river stages earlier in the year delayed the project, but we continue to make substantial progress toward our goal of achieving FEMA certification,” Etwert said.

The SWIFPD consists of 86 miles of levee systems that stretch between Alton and Columbia along the Mississippi and its tributaries. The levees protect 174 square miles including more than 155,000 people, 4,000 businesses and 55,000 jobs.

FEMA and the 100-Year Flood
In 2007, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reported major issues with the existing levees. The ruling led Haine and other Metro East lawmakers to pass legislation that authorized the creation of the flood protection districts, which fund, maintain and improve the existing levees in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe Counties.

haine levee 2The current construction will bring the flood prevention district back to FEMA’s acceptable levels of protection.

When completed, the improvements will bring the levee system up to a 100-year flood protection level. The ‘100-year flood’ is used to describe a flood event that has the probability of occurring once in a 100 year period. Flood stage in St. Louis for the Mississippi is 30 feet. A 100-year flood would occur if the river reached 54 feet.

The estimated price tag for the project work is $72 million, with $41 million having been paid out as of October and an expected surplus of $15 to $20 million.

Overall construction is on track to be completed by next summer.

Wood River Cutoff Wall
The specific work site Haine toured was the construction of a deep cutoff wall where the Wood River feeds into the Mississippi in East Alton.

Work crews are building a 1,900 feet long, 140 feet deep subterranean wall made of cement and bentonite, a type of absorbent clay. The wall stabilizes the levee and prevents water from seeping through or beneath the earthworks at a cost of $13.9 million.

The 500-Year Flood
As SWIFPD completes its upgrades to protect against a 100-year flood, it has already began planning and work to be able to handle a 500-year flood, the maximum federally authorized protection level.

“The 500-year level of protection has always been the “long term goal” of the Council,” Etwert said.

The governing council has already approved the designs for 500-year flood level improvements in the Wood River and Metro East Sanitary District Levee Systems, with construction expected to start in October 2016.

The council will proceed with designs of Prairie Du Pont and Fish Lake levee improvements to once the Corps of Engineers has identified needed projects.  

The improvements to SWIFPD are closely coordinated with the Army Corps of Engineers to make sure all work is eligible for Work In-Kind Credit, with the corps providing 65 percent of the shared funding.


PHOTOS:

1.) Rep. Dan Bieser, Rep. Jay Hoffman, Sen. Bill Haine, Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan, SWIFPD Chief Supervisor Chuck Etwert and engineer Jim Solari pose for a photo after Monday's tour.

2) Haine and Beiser listen during the tour as Chairman Dunstan explains the impact the levees have on Madison County businesses.

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