Memos to Chicago Mayor-Elect Lightfoot on good governance

Last week, our executive director, Madeleine Doubek, was honored to join many of our partners as a member of the Lightfoot transition committee on good governance.

As a member of this transition committee, we prepared two memos on what the new administration can to do make our government more efficient and more representative of its residents.

You can read our two memos below:
1. Government Efficiency.  Among the objectives you campaigned on was one to create a more efficient and effective government through city-county and other government collaborations. As you’ve noted the city’s finances are dire, therefore it’s critical that every effort be made to streamline and achieve those efficiencies.

To achieve it, create a Chicago Efficiency Initiative that starts with a full audit of city government and its spending. [Read the full memo]

2. “Conflict-Free Chicago.” In a campaign cycle that saw an FBI probe into allegations the city’s longest-serving alderman shook down a fast-food restaurant owner, another alderman wore a wire, and a third convicted of wire fraud, your victory makes it clear there is a hunger for a change toward ethics, truly representative democracy and accountability. As you noted, Chicago residents expect quick action to institute public policies that will transform systems so any resident can run and win and officials know they must act in the public’s interest or they will be held to account if they falter.

Voters have made it clear they share your commitment to create “a more open, representative and diverse government, free from conflicts of interest.” To achieve it, create a “Conflict-Free Chicago” — a city government where politicians truly are representative public servants who must operate with integrity and accountability, leaving behind the Chicago Machine and ward boss systems. [Read the full memo]

Voters have made it clear they share your commitment to create “a more open, representative and diverse government, free from conflicts of interest.” To achieve it, create a “Conflict-Free Chicago” — a city government where politicians truly are representative public servants who must operate with integrity and accountability, leaving behind the Chicago Machine and ward boss systems. [Read the full memo]

Have other ideas you want us to bring up at the transition committee meetings? Email us!

How to file a witness slip

A witness slip is a public record that allows you as an individual or as a member of an organization to indicate your stance on a given piece of legislation ahead of a scheduled House or Senate committee hearing.

Witness slips are a vital part of the process and let lawmakers know where constituents and organizations stand before they vote on a particular piece of legislation.

How to file a witness slip if you have a direct web link:

1. Click the web link and fill out all the identification fields. Be sure to include an email address so you get a confirmation email that your witness slip went through.
2. Fill out the “Representation” section only if you’re filing a slip on behalf of a supportive organization (e.g. your neighborhood association, local chamber of commerce, Lions Club, etc.)
3. Indicate your “position” on the bill: “proponent,” “opponent,” or “no position on the merits.”
4. In the “Testimony” section click all that apply (Oral/Written Statement Filed/Record of Appearance Only) If you’re simply indicating that you are “for” or “against” a bill, click record of appearance only.
5. Click “Agree to the Terms of Agreement” and then click “Create (Slip).”
6. Before you close out the witness slip tab, check your email for a confirmation that your slip was filed.
7. Please share the witness slip link with your friends and colleagues encouraging them to do the same.

How to file a witness slip if you have a bill number:

1. Go to the IL General Assembly webpage: ilga.gov
2. Type in the bill number in the left search box for the legislation you’re interested in (e.g. HB1 or SB1000) and click “Go.”
3. When the bill appears, click the “Witness Slips” link at the top of the page underneath the bill number.
4. On the Witness Slips page, click the hearing notice link just above the list of bill “proponents.”
5. Click the “Create Witness Slips” button on the right side of the page.
6. A new tab or window will open in your browser with the hearing date, time and location.
7. Find the bill number for which you want to file a witness slip.
8. On the right side of the page, click the “Create Witness Slip” button (the pencil and paper icon) next to the bill number you want.
9. Fill out the identification information, representation section, if applicable, and the testimony section. When you’re done, click “Create (Slip).”

Want to keep this information handy? Download our “how to” PDF here.

Fair Maps at the Supreme Court

Fair maps return to the center stage at the U.S. Supreme Court this month.

Want to read up more about each of the three cases? Check out our synopses for each below:

MARCH 18Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections – Virginia’s racial gerrymander. This case argues that Virginia’s state legislative maps were drawn to intentionally pack black voters in as small a number of districts as possible, unconstitutionally limiting their representation in office and unfairly diminishing their political capital. This case comes just a few years after a federal judge threw out Virginia’s congressional map for the same reason. The Supreme Court has ruled against racial gerrymandering several times over the decades, something we hope continues in 2019. [Read more on Oyez]

MARCH 26Benisek v. Lamone – Maryland’s Democratic gerrymander. Maryland Democrats, including former-Gov. Martin O’Malley, have stated they drew their congressional maps in order to knock off a sitting Republican incumbent and move the state’s congressional delegation from 6-2 (Dem) to 7-1. [Read more from SCOTUS Blog]

MARCH 26Common Cause v. Rucho – North Carolina’s Republican gerrymander. On March 26th, the Supreme Court also will hear arguments for North Carolina’s infamous congressional maps. The North Carolina GOP bragged about their maps publicly, saying their 11-3 advantage existed only because they couldn’t figure out how to draw themselves a 12-2 advantage against the Tar Heel State Democrats. [Read more from SCOTUS Blog]

The cases the Supreme Court will hear on March 26, one Democratic gerrymander and one Republican, illustrate that the stain of gerrymandering on our nation is bipartisan.

We hope the Supreme Court will take this opportunity to end this despicable practice once and for all.

CHANGE Illinois oped in Huffington Post

The Huffington Post published an oped from Ra Joy, executive director of CHANGE Illinois.

A recent Gallup poll shows us just how low Illinois politics have sunk in the eyes of the public: We rank dead last among the 50 states when in comes to confidence in state government.

A shocking 75 percent of those polled–a much higher percentage, by the way, than even the other states in the bottom five–believe Illinois government can’t do its job.

Sadly, that number is not surprising. The promise of a government that works for all people is badly broken in Illinois. Every day brings fresh news about the gridlock and hyper-partisanship in Springfield, the sinking approval ratings for our state leaders, and the resulting cynicism, anger, and distrust among the public. Closing in on a year without a state budget? Well, what do you expect, we say with a disgusted shrug–it’s Springfield.

The good news is we can take direct and immediate action now to help level the political playing field in Illinois. Right here in the president’s home state, there’s growing support for two common-sense solutions that will disrupt politics as usual and make government more responsive to the needs of ordinary people.

Go read the full article at the Huffington Post website. Then be sure to share the story on Facebook and Twitter.

2016 REPORT: Partisan voting maps lead to decline in voter choices

Partisan redistricting of Illinois state legislative district maps has created continuing partisan bias in election outcomes while making it far less likely that voters will have a choice between candidates of both major parties in the general election.

Read the whole report below or click here to view a summary. You can also click here to download the press release.

Partisan Advantage – A New Report from Change Illinois