Feb. 13, 2015 - Lake County News-Sun

By Yadira Sanchez Olson

More than 200 people answered the third annual call to rise and fight for the safety of all women Thursday during a local version of the international One Billion Rising campaign..
 
The Lake County Rising event brought together residents as well as dozens of local officials and social service agencies at the Round Lake Beach Cultural and Civic Center, all determined to continue and broaden the movement.

Each year, near Valentine's Day, One Billion Rising reminds the world that while some women are feeling love and affection, there are others who are experiencing pain and fear.

"What a horrible thing to bring us together," said state Sen. Melinda Bush, D-31, of Grayslake, who helped organize the event. "But together is how we can end the violence."

Although the message is profound and pressing, as one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, the night's presentations were filled with hope that those in attendance will take action and make a change.

Former Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who has prosecuted domestic violence cases, used her musical talents to bring attention to the dark side of some relationships.

Simon played the banjo and sang songs with stories about women who met tragic deaths at the hands of men who said they loved them.

"As you can see, violence is part of our culture and it's going to take a culture change to fix it," Simon said.

Grayslake mother Lauren Roback said it was fate that brought her to the Lake County Rising event Thursday.

Hours before, she had been cleaning her car and found a flier to the event.

On a whim she decided to attend with her 7-year-old daughter Angela and her friend Kritina Zavala.

"I'm a victim of emotional abuse," Roback said. "Coming to these events helps identify what you're gong through."

Roback was able to connect with a Safe Place and said she was happy to find out that the organization provides free counseling.

"I don't want my daughter to ever have to go through this," Roback said. "I have to break the cycle."

Agency officials passed out literature and spoke about available resources.
 
Additional performances included poems written by women who have experienced violence as well as a dance routine by Zion middle school dancers and the North shore Elite Cheerleaders.

View the original story.

Category: In The News

Review prompted by recent abuses

SPRINGFIELD — In the wake of questionable executive severance deals at state universities and community colleges, the Illinois Senate’s Higher Education Committee is creating a fact-finding subcommittee to steer reform efforts and ensure tuition and tax dollars are used responsibly.

“Taxpayers are demanding to know how we compensate administrators, why we are compensating them and what safeguards we can put in place to end the type of abuses we’ve recently seen,” said Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago), who heads the new Subcommittee on Executive Compensation.

The issue was thrust into the spotlight after the College of DuPage inked a more than $750,000 severance deal with president Robert Breuder to have him quit early. Nearly a year ago, Illinois State University cut a similar deal worth $480,000 with its president. The lavish deals come at a time when tuition and fees have nearly doubled over the past decade and the average Illinois college student is saddled with more than $28,000 in debt.

"This money could be better spent on providing an affordable, world-class college education for students. It could be used to offer much needed tuition relief for families. Taxpayers cannot afford to pay for six-figure golden parachutes, shooting club memberships and other lavish perks for public servants," said state Senator Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat who will also serve on the subcommittee.

The fact-finding subcommittee is the latest effort by Senate Democrats to bring accountability to campus spending. In recent weeks, suburban lawmakers have pushed to rein in severance deals.

“The priorities for state universities and community colleges should be to educate our children, not betraying our constituents by handing out golden parachutes to administrators,” said state Senator Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat. “There is an obvious need for reforms to the way they use taxpayer dollars to ensure institutions are advancing educational opportunities, not administrators’ pockets.”   

Senator Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, is also sponsoring accountability legislation.

“These institutions should be paying people to teach and lead, not paying them to quit,” said Bush.

Category: Press Releases

Arlington Heights Daily Herald - Jan. 30, 2015

By Erin Hegarty

Some suburban lawmakers want to punish College of DuPage for President Robert Breuder's $762,868 severance package.

State Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Wheaton Republican, called for the state's top auditor to review how the college has handled money since 2011.

Ives wants the audit to be conducted as soon as possible and requests that "any other state agency or entity that may have information relevant to this audit cooperate fully and promptly" with the auditor. She filed a resolution to push the matter in the Illinois House and quickly found some backing.

"The board had a chance to correct this decision. Now I join with Rep. Jeanne Ives in calling for an audit," Rep. Steve Andersson, a Geneva Republican, posted online Thursday.

And state Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, said before Wednesday's COD board approval of the severance deal that he will introduce legislation to slash state funding for COD by more than $1.5 million next year.

Franks says Breuder's buyout "is a misuse of precious funds that the school receives from the state and a disservice to the students who attend that institution."

College of DuPage received $14.2 million in state money last year, Franks said.

The COD board on Wednesday approved, for the second time, Breuder's severance package with another 6-1 vote in favor of the buyout. The vote was restaged because of what Chairwoman Erin Birt said was a "procedural" error in the initial vote.

Trustee Kim Savage, speaking at the time of the initial vote, praised Breuder for his service. "We now have an institution that is a desired institution to come to, not an institution of second choice," she said.

Breuder's buyout also includes an early retirement date and the promise of a building named after him if he stays on good behavior until his 2016 departure.

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, says he'll write legislation to prevent naming a government building for a departing president and to restrict buyout provisions in officials' contracts.

"As a local taxpayer I'm offended. As a lawmaker I'm outraged," Cullerton said. "The college's priority should be educating students, not handing out golden parachutes."

State Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, says she's met with the Senate's legal staff about how to put a cap on the size of severance packages, but she said details of legislation aren't ready yet.

Other large severance packages already have caught lawmakers' attention.

State Rep. Margo McDermed, a Mokena Republican, introduced legislation before COD's final decision calling for more transparency in publicly funded severance agreements. The plan is aimed at the 2013 deal in which Metra agreed to a $442,000 severance package with former CEO Alex Clifford.

Her legislation would ensure severance agreements funded partly or fully with taxpayer money be made public.

McDermed says it's time to build this transparency into Illinois law.

"If taxpayers knew what was going on with money, they might vote differently in elections for things like college boards," McDermed said.

View the original article.

Category: In The News

Arlington Heights Daily Herald - Jan. 29, 2015

By Erin Hegarty

Suburban Republicans are getting ready to unveil measures they say could prevent big buyouts like the $762,868 the College of DuPage board gave President Robert Breuder.

State Reps. Jeanne Ives of Wheaton and Ron Sandack of Downers Grove will be joined by other DuPage County lawmakers Monday when they announce the new legislation aimed at taxpayer-funded severance packages.

For starters, Sandack wants to ban boards from using state money to pay for severance deals like Breuder's.

"If local boards want to cut deals like this, they can, but they can only use local dollars," Sandack said.

Sandack also wants to move community college board candidates off the spring ballot, which they share with candidates for other local offices. Instead, he'd like college trustees to be elected every other November, during higher-profile elections, to increase voter turnout and interest in the races.

Ives wants to give taxpayers two weeks to see proposed contracts being offered to top public officials before boards can vote to accept them.

Ives has also called for a performance audit of COD's finances going back to 2011. The resolution to conduct the audit already has more than 50 bipartisan sponsors, Ives said.

Ives said these proposals are not final, and "not all of us have signed on to everyone else's bills." And there could be more plans announced Monday.

Democrats have gotten in on the act, too. State Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo wants to cut the amount of state money COD gets. State Sen. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park wants to keep names like Breuder's off government buildings. And state Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake wants to cap the value of severance deals for public employees.

View the original article.

Category: In The News

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