April 2, 2018                                         April e-Newsletter
Ballot Access and Referendums
Last month, Let Forest Park Vote won a court appeal to put a referendum on the video gambling on their municipal ballot. The years-long effort of this grassroots advocacy group highlights the limited and restrictive nature of direct democracy in Illinois. On the one hand, Illinois law provides a mechanism for citizens to put a question on the ballot asking voters whether video gambling should be banned within a jurisdiction. But on the other hand, the barriers are high: advocates must collect signatures from at least 25% of registered voters in the jurisdiction, they must survive challenges to the validity of their petitions, and they must submit their petitions timely enough not to be crowded out by the "rule of three," which limits the number of referendums on any one ballot. 

CAC assisted the petitioners to comply with the relevant requirements and advocated for inclusion of the question. In February, an Illinois circuit court appeared to deny the effort once again by saying six incorrect pages invalidated the entire 276 page packet of signatures. In March, the Illinois Appellate Court overturned that decision and ordered the question be certified for the November ballots.

Students Exercise their First Amendment Rights

Nationwide, students are organizing and creating a pivotal point in the national debate over school safety and gun violence. Students at our local schools are no exception.  

Good Outcomes:
Many news outlets reported on supportive school administrators, successful walk-outs, and alternative school activities that school administrators offered as a means to mitigate their safety concerns.
Administrators at those schools recognized their students' need to be heard on this issue and honored the authentic moment by nurturing a school environment where the students could exercise responsible free speech.
Bad Outcomes:
Other schools sent mixed messages, and ostensibly failed to provide even alternative activities:
Unfortunately, CAC heard from students at schools where they encountered at best difficulty and at worst speech suppression from school administrators who didn't support the students efforts. At one school, where students had negotiated a walk out of the school onto school property outside, the students were admonished to "not speak about political issues" and to not encourage other students to wear orange, a symbol of solidarity for improved safety measures which include difficult conversations about gun violence and gun regulations. Of course, this is absurd! 

Students elsewhere appealed directly to elected officials on their school board. In this case (linked below), the board met in closed session, which raises the question of whether their closed session discussion focused squarely on the narrow exception allowed for "security procedures, school building safety and security, and the use of personnel and equipment to respond to an actual, a threatened, or a reasonably potential danger to the safety of employees, students, staff, the public, or public property." 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(8). http://qconline.com/news/local/mercer-co-students-school-board-at-odds-over-walkout/article_b9a6af05-3fa9-5caa-9bf6-d77ffad9ef1a.html

News stories reveal that at other local schools, hundreds of students were given detention or threatened with disciplinary action.  Here's one example: 
  • 'A badge of honor': Some Chicago-area students are getting disciplined for walking out to protest gun violence 

The Bottom Line:
Students should never be disciplined beyond what school policy outlines when their transgression is related to their lawful political speech. CAC hasn't seen any reports of students misbehaving or administrators imposing severe punishments for Illinois students who embraced a defining moment by exercising lawful civic engagement. CAC applauds the students' courage to speak up and the school administrators who encourage their students to exercise their civil rights.
Letter to the Editor: Amendment Needed to Stop Gerrymandering
by Hashim Arain, CAC volunteer
Political gerrymandering needs to be limited in this country. Its premise is that a political party can draw the legislative district map lines in order for that party to easily obtain congressional or state legislative seats. There have been quite a few cases that have dealt with this issue. One example is the pending Supreme Court case of Gil v. Whitford, where Wisconsin's redistricting was viewed as favorable to Republicans.

Gerrymandering like that which took place in Wisconsin is unacceptable, because it gives one political party a huge electoral advantage over the other...Read more.

Upcoming Events:

Candidate Boot Camp - Local Government Candidacy for Beginners

DATE:  Saturday, April 14, 2018
TIME:  10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
PLACE:  College of Dupage, Culinary & Hospitality Center, Waterleaf Restaurant:
425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn, Illinois 60137, Room 2001
Are you interested in running for local office and want to know more about it? Here's your chance to ask those in-the-know! Hear presentations from eight local public officials, get information about getting and staying on the ballot, and more. 

Sponsored by Citizen Advocacy Center, League of Women Voters, Immigrant Solidarity DuPage, Benedictine University, College of DuPage, and Elmhurst College. 

***Free and open to the public.***
National Week of Conversation: What Can We Do to Create Civil Discourse?
DATE:  Wednesday, April 25, 2018
TIME: 7:00 p.m.
PLACE:  Citizen Advocacy Center, 182 N. York St., Elmhurst, Illinois 60126
The Citizen Advocacy Center is joining with a number of national organizations-- The National Center for Civil Discourse, Listen First, and Bridge Alliance-- as part of a nationwide movement to improve our ability to talk to each other. More information available here: https://nationalweekofconversation.org/.

Join us for a lively discussion. 75% of Americans believe that the inability to engage in civil conversations has reached crisis proportions. There are many issues that divide us: race and equity, money in politics, guns and responsibility, immigration, free speech, sexual assault, and power relationships just to name a few. 

Join us and be a part of this movement to create civil discourse.

***Free and open to the public.***

The DuPage Human Race

DATE:  Saturday, April 28, 2018
TIME: 9:00 a.m.
PLACE:  The Esplande: 1901 W. ButterfieldRd., Downers Grove, Illinois 60515
The race is a 5K run or a 2-mile fitness walk that benefits CAC. Children and dogs are welcome. A great family-friendly event sponsored by Giving DuPage.
Run for Democracy. Run for justice. Get on board to be part of Team CAC

Your Help Needed!

In 2019, CAC will reach an important milestone: 25 years of making a difference in our communities. We will celebrate 25 years of impact through storytelling events and a gala next year. Volunteers are needed to help us plan the celebration. If you believe in the work and mission of CAC, will you consider offering just an hour or two a month to assist us? Your ideas and service to plan and execute some memorable events will be very valuable! 

 For more information or to volunteer, please contact: Susan Wakefield at Susan@CitizenAdvocacyCenter.org.
In C Section4ase You Missed It: 
Sunshine Week Event
Sunshine Week is a national initiative created to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy. On March 15, we celebrated Sunshine Week by having discussions about  issues around governmental and election transparency.
The work of CAC depends on the investment of people like YOU. Will you make a gift today to support building democracy in communities like yours?
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