September 5, 2017                                        September e-Newsletter
In Case You Missed it:
Community lawyer Ben Silver attended a Village of Wheeling public meeting to comment on its shocking public shaming of a resident for being civically active.

The resident exercised her right to access public records through the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) and used her First Amendment rights to address her elected officials on village issues. 
The village board reacted by signing a  letter  on village letterhead disparaging her civic activity and sent it to other government bodies in the region (including the Attorney General's office), state lawmakers, and media outlets.  The letter  claims that the resident has cost the village over $144,000 and 1,100 staff hours, without offering evidence. It also possibly damages the resident's reputation by revealing personal information.
Ben Silver defended the resident's rights to lawful public participation as guaranteed by the FOIA and Constitutional rights.  He emphasized in his public comment before the Village of Wheeling Board, "The Freedom of Information Act emphatically states that it is the public policy of Illinois that all persons are entitled to full and complete information about government affairs, actions, and policies so that the people fulfill their civic duties to monitor government and make informed judgements... The law does provide multiple ways that a local government can manage requests that otherwise could result in inordinate costs or the use of excessive government resources... What the law does not provide is that a local government should attempt to publicly shame and disparage a resident, who in the government's opinion submits too many Freedom of Information Requests."
Despite the village's actions, the resident continues to question her elected officials on possible misuses of power. She is the embodiment of "government for the people, by the people, and for the people." CAC commends her persistence in the face of adversity.
At CAC, our mission is to strengthen the public voice-- your voice: We are dedicated to strengthening the citizenry's capacities, resources, and institutions for self-governance. If need be, CAC will be making more public comments regarding the issue. 

To watch the video which includes Ben's full comment, please visit our Facebook page.

Automatic Voter Registration is Law in Illinois:
Governor Bruce Rauner has signed the Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) bill into law, making Illinois the 10th state to officially adopt AVR. It's purpose is to increase registration and turnout in order to strengthen our democratic system. 

Voter registration and voting is only the beginning of civic activity. Don't forget that you, the citizen, are the essence of our democratic system. Become more active in your community and learn about your rights by using CAC citizen guides to learn more about the following: 
News Literacy Civics Lesson Plan:
CAC announces release of a new, free civics lesson plan titled "How to Spot Fake News."
Since the 2016 Presidential election, the phrase "fake news" has become an increasingly common phrase, but what does it mean?  What makes some news "fake" and others "real" and how can teachers impart news literacy to students who are bombarded with information in the social media age?  
Like all of Citizen Advocacy Center's civics lesson plans, "How to Spot Fake News" is free to educators and the rest of the public.
CAC Seeking Volunteers:
CAC relies heavily on volunteers to help us accomplish our mission.
We are looking for volunteers to assist with research projects, graphic design, event planning and coordination, public speaking, administrative tasks, and more.  If you are interested in meaningful volunteer work, please fill out our volunteer form here.
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