In 2011, the Citizen Advocacy Center (CAC) began advising the volunteer leadership of the Illinois Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Council (ILFFJC or Council).
The Council represents an experiment in community empowerment. Authorized by the Illinois Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act of 2009, the Council was envisioned by the General Assembly as a community-led coordinating body to facilitate development of local food and farm systems statewide.
In 2011, the Council submitted its first annual report to the General Assembly in accordance with statutory requirements. Entitled “Local Food, Farms and Jobs: Building the Foundation,” the report chronicled Council efforts to “facilitate a creative environment that will germinate and grow local food networks in Illinois communities statewide through the bridging of all local food efforts: grassroots to Government, small farms to corporate agriculture, urban to rural Illinois. “
In July 2013, the Council authorized volunteer directors Bob Heuer and Johari Cole-Kweli to prepare a timeline of the Council’s history for the particular benefit of a new body of gubernatorial appointees to the Council. Mr. Heuer and Ms. Cole-Kweli had been among the original board appointed by Gov. Quinn to launch the Council in 2010. (Ms. Cole-Kweli had previously served on the Illinois Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force which had been authorized through a 2007 state law to present a state local food system plan.)
In September 2013, Mr. Heuer and Ms. Cole-Kweli submitted their report. At that time, they also proposed formation of an ad hoc committee to finalize the draft report for submission to the General Assembly in accordance with ILFFJC’s statutory requirements.
The Council has met three times since the draft report was submitted. Its Executive Committee has yet to schedule an agenda item to discuss the report’s findings.
Mr. Heuer and Ms. Cole-Kweli believe the people of Illinois have a right to know about Council efforts over the last four years to carry out its legislative mandate. They have asked CAC to provide this public service.
CAC is now providing assistance to the leaders of ILFFJC by offering them use of our virtual civic space to post the following information:
(1) The Illinois Local and Organic Food and Farm Task Force report of 2009 which recommended the creation of the Council.
(2) The text of Public Act 096-0579 Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act is also included as a reference.
(3) The Council’s 2010 report to the Illinois General Assembly.
(4) The 2013 Illinois Food, Farm and Jobs Council draft report “Building on Seven Years of Grassroots Accomplishments: A New Approach to Community Development for Illinois,” Co-authored by Mr. Heuer and Ms. Cole-Kweli, the report chronicles the challenges and struggles by the Council to execute its legislative mission.
IT’S SUNSHINE WEEK! In addition to engaging in dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information, this is a time to get acquainted with government data sets! Government bodies are releasing millions of data sets that are available at our fingertips and easily searchable. For starters, check out data about your state, county, city, your ZIP code, your school district or even your specific school. Here is a list of websites to get you started.
GOVERNMENT DATA AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
Find federal datasets concerning specific municipalities. Search by topic, also.
Search and browse hundreds of city datasets. Search by category or topic.
Find federal datasets concerning specific counties. Search by topic, also.
Find birth, marriage, & death records; delinquent property tax search; Cook County ordinances; election results; polling locations; directory of elected officials; maps; lobbyist reports; TIF property searches, reports, and maps; and ethics filings.
Search for federal datasets concerning states. Search by topic, also.
Search and browse thousands of state datasets. Search by municipality, category, or topic.
Illinois Sex Offender Information
Illinois Department of Transportation
Find project information and maps
Illinois Report Card
Find facts about individual schools, including ISAT scores, PSAE scores, total enrollment, number of schools, number of teachers, student mobility, graduation rates, college readiness rates, instructional average spending per student, and average operational spending per student. Also, view indicators of academic progress, district environment, student characteristics. Compare your school to others.
Portal to search for federal datasets for cities, counties, and states.
Search for federal contracts by agency, department, vendor, or fiscal year.
U.S. Census Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics
View combined federal, state, and Census Bureau data on employers and employees. Statistics on employment, earnings, and job flows at detailed levels of geography and industry and for different demographic groups.
Toxics Release Inventory Program
Enter an address for maps locating toxic chemicals in your community.
Access reports and downloadable files tracking the management of more than 650 toxic chemicals used at U.S. industrial facilities.
Information on millions of companies worldwide. Search by name, filter by jurisdiction.
Offshore Leaks Database
Search for offshore companies and trusts, by country.
Search through 450 online databases across 120 countries for information on shareholders, directors, and financial reports of companies worldwide.
Thanks to reporter Jeff Lowenstein for compiling this list and for his fantastic presentation at the Chicago Headline Club sponsored FOIA Fest 2014 hosted at Loyola University to kickoff Sunshine Week.
Courtesy of David Morrison at Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR)
Many local election authorities provide sample ballots through their websites -- plug in your address and find out which exact offices and candidates will be on the ballot when you vote and also where your polling place is. This year there's a US Senate seat on the ballot in addition to the statewide executive offices, and it's also the first election in Cook County after Board of Commissioner boundaries were re-drawn following the 2010 Census. In that instance, the official who represented you for years may no longer be in the same district as you. For this reason alone, it would be a good idea to find out what districts you live in and who you will be asked to choose between when you go to vote in the partisan primaries next week.
Many local election authorities have website that can tell you where you go to vote. And if you're not yet registered to vote, there is still a tiny window for you to get registered ahead of the primary -- "Grace Period" registration continues into next week, but only at locations designated by local election authorities. Their websites can tell you where to go. If you register during the Grace Period, you might be requried to vote at the same time, so be prepared.
Don't forget, also, that a change in the law allows 17-year-olds to register and vote in the Primary election if they will be 18 years old by the date of the November General (this year, it's on November 4). If you're the parent of a high school student, this may be their first opportunity to participate in our civic life by voting.
If you live in the City of Chicago, the Chicago Board of Elections website is here:
If you live in suburban Cook County, the Cook County Board of Elections website is here:
and if you live in DuPage County, that website is here:
If you live somewhere else in Illinois, the State Board of Elections has a list of all 110 local election authorities in the state, together with their websites (if they have one). Not all offer sample ballots, but many do. Have a look and good luck!
Candidates seeking nomination for judicial seats will also be on the primary ballot. There are almost 200 candidates seeking nomination for over two dozen judicial seats, and that's in Cook County alone. If you want help figuring out who these people are, I recommend the Chicago Bar Alliance, which is a group of bar groups, including the Illinois State Bar Assn, the Chicago Bar Assn, the Chicago Council of Lawyers, and maybe a dozen other lawyers groups that evaluate judicial candidates throughout Cook County. Those evaluations are all available in a simple grid through this website: http://www.voteforjudges.org. For judicial evaluations in the rest of the state, I don't know of any one site that aggregates multiple judicial evaluations, but the Illinois State Bar Association is the most thorough, and their website is on-line at http://www.isba.org/judicialevaluations/
Good luck with your research, and happy voting!
Please share your best practices, ideas, and stories about community-based food, nutrition and agriculture initiatives that can help reduce hunger and poverty in Illinois.
Note: Input posted on this Citizen Advocacy Center blog will be considered for inclusion in a policy statement that Illinois State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) plans to present this spring to the Illinois General Assembly. As chair of the Illinois House Human Services Committee, Rep. Gabel wants to increase community participation in efforts to improve the delivery of services for the people of Illinois.
Policy statement concepts to include:
• Self-reliance principles that underpin about a dozen state local food laws passed since 2007
• Emphasis on nutritional goals supporting development from prenatal care through high school
• Community asset alignment strategies to foster multi-sector dialogue/collaboration
• Socially-responsible investment strategies to leverage approximately $4 billion a year in federal feeding program funds for Illinois
• Statewide networking capability developed through gubernatorial advisory councils partners for local network empowerment include the four state entities listed below. Representatives from these entities have expressed an interest in working together to encourage on-the-ground projects that aim to reduce hunger and poverty in Illinois.
1. Illinois Local Food Farms and Jobs Council
Authorized by a 2009 state law, this community-led coordinating body is charged with facilitating local food system development throughout Illinois.
2. Illinois Commission to End Hunger
Emerging strategies include increasing fresh food access through partnerships between Illinois’ food pantries and farmers markets
3. Illinois Commission to Eliminate Poverty
Urban farm pilot’s transitional job program reflects strategic plan excerpt: “…the best solutions for poverty (often times) come from local innovation.”
4. Illinois Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise
Successes include persuading state government to authorize the creation of low-profit limited liability corporations and social impact bonds
Please share your input for Rep. Gabel’s policy proposal:
Lead writer will be public policy & marketing strategist Bob Heuer. Since 2010, he has served as a Gov. Pat Quinn appointee to the Illinois Local Food Farms and Jobs Council. Heuer represents the Evanston Food Exchange—a community group developing plans for a year-round farmers market in the north suburban Chicago suburb.
On March 26, Heuer and fellow Council director Johari Cole-Kweli will seek input on this proposal in testimony to the Illinois Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise. (4pm; 160 N. LaSalle; Chicago.) Cole is a sustainable agriculture consultant and organic farmer in Pembroke Township, Kankakee County—a rural area 50 miles south of Chicago.
On March 30, Heuer will present the policy statement at a community forum convened by Rep. Gabel and State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Skokie.) The forum will take place from 12:00-1:30pm at Evanston Ecology Center (2024 N. McCormick Blvd., Evanston.)
Public Policy & Marketing Strategist
Director/Illinois Local Food Farms Jobs Council