January 8, 2018                                         January e-Newsletter
Date Change to January 27: 
Discussion #4: Build an Issue Advocacy Campaign

As you may already know, over the last couple of months we have hosted a discussion series titled Engage in Public Participation: Skills for Active Citizenship*. Our fourth and final discussion of the series has been moved to Saturday, January 27, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at the Citizen Advocacy Center in Elmhurst. 

In our previous sessions, we discussed the First Amendment Freedom of Speech, the Open Meetings Act, and the Freedom of Information Act. On January 27, we will explore how to use these and other tools available to the public to create an effective issue advocacy campaign. Join us to learn about organizing your community, learning about your government, arguing your case, and influencing your elected officials. Participants need not have attended previous sessions.

Join us for coffee, bagels, and a great conversation! 

*All discussions are free and open to the public. This program is funded partly by Illinois Humanities and supporters like you! 
CAC Stands Up for Free Speech 
Community Lawyer Ben Silver giving a public comment at the DuPage Forest Preserve commission meeting on December 5, 2017.
Last month, Community Lawyer Ben Silver delivered a comment in support of free speech at the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County after officials attempted to silence a community member based on the content of the community member's speech. The District's public comment sign-up form lists extremely restrictive rules that suggest impermissible content restrictions on speech. The District's board president gave effect to these restrictive policies in November, as he repeatedly interrupted a citizen commenting on the public conduct of a board member. The District further censored the citizen's criticism by removing a portion of his comment from their posted video of the meeting.  Ben made clear that such restrictions are impermissible and that the board must cease this unconstitutional conduct. Members of the board expressed appreciation for the comment following the meeting, but the board has yet to change the policy or restore the video.
Click the image above to enlarge it. Public comment sign-in form which includes a list of the Forest Preserve's policies.
Congratulations to 2017 Citizen Initiative Awardees
2017 Holiday Cheer and the Citizen Initiative Awardees. Top from left to right: Nicole Virgil, Michael Murray. Bottom from left to right: Families for Fremont, Jimmy Lynch. 
Each year the Citizen Advocacy Center (CAC) gives out Citizen Initiative Awards to  recognize  local community activists who are catalysts for democratic participation and have used civic, legal, and community organizing tools to advocate for a self-identified issue of public concern.  

In 2017, the award recipients included:
  1. Nicole Virgil and Family who were recognized for community organizing, advocacy on sustainability, and pursuing accountability and transparency in government decision-making.  
  2. Jimmy Lynch, a high school student, who was recognized using the First Amendment to organize a youth march to  support students impacted by DACA policy changes. 
  3. Mike Murray who was recognized for using the power of binding referendum to help those with mental health issues in Bloomingdale Township.  
  4. Families for Fremont who were recognized for sustained civic engagement and advocacy. 
New Citizen Guide: Local Records Act
Our newly updated guide provides detail on the requirements in the Illinois Local Records Act, which help to ensure that existing records of a government body are available for public inspection and copying. Read our newly updated guide to learn what records your local government must keep and how long they must keep them.
Thank you for Making 2017 a Great Year!
Last year was full of success for CAC because of donors and supporters like you! Our community lawyers helped and responded to over 300 citizen and community group initiated inquiries in 53 communities throughout Illinois. We share the highlights of the year through our Impact Report which covers the following areas:
  • Community Lawyering: Democracy At Work
  • Civic Education and Engagement
  • Government Accountability
  • Issue Advocacy
Learn all about our 2017 accomplishments here. 
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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