CAC strengthened citizen capacities and resources to build democracy while making government entities more responsive to the citizenry. Below are just few highlights!
Thank you to our volunteers, interns, and concerned citizens who helped CAC make a difference!
HARNESSING CITIZEN CIVIC POWER! CAC community lawyers assisted hundreds of people in more than fifty communities to address issues of public concern ranging from holding government accountable for their procurement practices to ensuring that public business occurs in the open.
ENFORCING FREEDOM OF SPEECH & PUBLIC COMMENT LAW! CAC fielded dozens of inquiries involving government entities refusing to let members of the public speak at open government meetings or approving policies that infringed on free speech. Community lawyers addressed public officials at government meetings, appealed to the Public Access Counselor, and published a Citizen Guide outlining Illinois law, model policies, and examples of unconstitutional restrictions on speech.
PROPELLING CIVIC EDUCATION! CAC played a critical role in bringing civic education back to Illinois for the first time in decades. Launching the vision for the Legislative Task Force on Civic Education, the executive director being appointed to the Task Force, and organizing citizens to speak out while the General Assembly debated the bill were just some of CAC actions. Civic education as a high school graduation requirement starts in the 2016-2017 school year.
PROMOTING FREEDOM OF THE PRESS! CAC trained dozens of journalists on accessing government records and enforcing the law as at the Chicago Headline Club’s FOIA Fest 2015, Chicago Headline Club’s News Literacy Summit, in Journalism classes at local colleges and universities, and fielded scores of individual calls from members of the press about how to access government meetings and records.
RAISING THE BAR ON TIF & CIVIC ENGAGEMENT! CAC collaborated with Smart Chicago Collaborative to publish a guide to demystifying tax increment financing districts (TIF), highlighting prime opportunities for public participation, and suggested reforms to Illinois’ TIF law to increase transparency, accountability, and civic engagement. Thank you to CAC constituents who provided input!
INCREASED ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT RECORDS! The Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) resolves conflicts involving government entities that deny access to government records or meetings. The PAC issues hundreds of determination letters a year interpreting Illinois law, and these are crucial tools for citizen advocates and the media. Up until now, determination letters were only available by a public record request to the PAC. CAC has obtained 500 determination letters, with more on the way, and launched a databased to make them public! Thank you to CAC constituents for your help!
YOUTH CIVIC POWER & FREEDOM TO PETITION! CAC collaborated with 3 high schools during Constitution Week to illustrate how people can make a difference. Students heard how 19-year-old Neli Farahmandpour helped give young people a voice when she was a student at Stevenson High School by organizing youth to petition the General Assembly to pass Suffrage at 17, allowing 17 year olds to vote in the primary election if they are to be 18 years old by the date of the General Election.