Friday, September 19, 2014

Charter School Position Update - Free Webinars Sunday, September 21, 4-5 pm & Wednesday, October 8, 7-8 pm

The League of Women Voters of Illinois is conducting a study to update its position on Charter Schools. Members are encouraged to register for two free webinars to receive updates of the study.

Position Update Study Webinar Registration
Two webinars have been scheduled for League members participating in the Charter School Study.

During the webinars, the PowerPoint will be presented and questions will be addressed. It is anticipated that the Sept. 21 webinar will focus on the first part of the PowerPoint--through the parts of Question 1--and the Oct. 8 webinar will focus on the rest of the PowerPoint.

Anyone who has questions about the issues addressed is invited to participate. We particularly invite members of local League committees which are organizing and presenting the study. But you must pre-register.

To register for the Sept. 21 meeting from 4-5 p.m., click HERE.
To register for the Oct. 8 meeting from 7-8 p.m., click HERE.

Following is the League of Women Voters of Illinois' CURRENT position, in brief, on charter schools.
The League of Women Voters of Illinois believes that: 
  • The Illinois State Board of Education should continue to monitor the progress of existing charters before supporting expansion, specifically looking for improvement in individual student test scores and achievement of the specific goals stated in the school's charter. 
  • Charters should be established by local school boards, with adequate provisions for public education and participation in the decision making process.  
  • An appeal process to the State Board of Education should remain in place as an option for charters who have been denied by their local school boards. 
While we feel that advantages of charters largely outweigh the disadvantages, we have identified the following areas of concern:
  • School funding.  Charters do nothing to address the issue of equitable and adequate funding of education, including special education.
  • Financial impact on underlying school districts, especially smaller districts. Charters place financial pressure on smaller districts by drawing money out of the traditional public schools. 
  • Privatization and profit-making.  The LWVIL opposes the presence of private, for-profit companies in the governance of public education, as there could be a conflict between the interests of shareholders in the corporation and the citizens of the state.

LWVIL has also identified areas of opportunity resulting from charter schools:
  • Innovation.  Charters have a mandate to share innovations in teaching methods, curricula and standards of assessment for all stakeholders.
  • Increased parental choice and involvement within the public school system. 
Click here to read the League's position, in full.

For general information about the League's study, please visit:

Friday, August 1, 2014

Stormwater From the Ground Up at the Waukegan Public Library, July 31, 2014

Krista Grimm, LWV-Illinois Issues Specialist for Water and delegate to the LWV-Lake Michigan Region, answers a question while Mike Novotney of the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission looks on. Spanish translation was offered for this program, as you can see by the headset worn by our co-organizer and translator, Susana Figueroa of Faith in Place.  The gentleman next to her is listening to the translation; you can see the earpiece wire descending from his left ear.  Faith in Place and the LWV-Lake County co-hosted the evening's program.
Mike Novotney of the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission explains some of the problems caused by stormwater runoff in the Lake Michigan watershed.  
   There will be another presentation next Thursday, August 7, 2014, 7 p.m., at the Highland Park Public Library,  494  Laurel Ave., Highland Park, hosted by the LWV-Highland Park/Highwood and the city of Highland Park.  Free and open to the public.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Stormwater Programs in Lake County

Stormwater runoff causes flooding of homes, 
businesses,and communities.  It also carries 
pesticides, chemicals, and other pollutants into 
lakes and rivers.  The League of Women 
Voters - Illinois and the League of Women 
Voters - Lake Michigan Region received a grant 
from the Illinois Coastal Management Program 
of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources  
to research and develop a program on the topic 
of reducing pollution of Lake Michigan and 
reducing the danger and damage caused by 
flooding.  In addition, educational materials will 
be distributed to lakeshore public libraries and 
information is available on the LWV - LMR 
website:   The presentations 
are being planned in numerous communities along 
the Lake Michigan shore.  The presentation will 
explain some of the reasons why we are experiencing 
flooding and runoff problems, such as the loss of 
wetland areas that are natural sponges and the 
increase in impermeable surfaces, such as parking 
lots.  It will offer some projects that can be done by 
individuals or communities, including such “green 
infrastructure” solutions as rain gardens and rain 
barrels for homes, and bioswales for roadways and 
parking lots.  Come to one of these programs and 
learn what you and your community can do.  
Free and open to the public.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Annual Meeting to be held June 11

Our Host's Beautiful Garden.
The League of Women Voters of Lake County will hold its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 11 in Lake Bluff. Lunch will be at noon with business meeting to follow.

Meeting agenda includes year-end wrap-up along with a discussion of program and action items for the 2014-2015 year.

For more information email

Saturday, May 17, 2014

LWVLC Members Among Those Who Testified Before the Illinois Pollution Control Board

Illinois Pollution Control Board hearing brings cries against coal ash
News-Sun Staff Report May 16, 2014 1:00PM
Updated: May 16, 2014 8:43PM 

LAKE COUNTY — Community members who live near coal ash waste sites in Waukegan, Lake County and across Illinois testified Wednesday and Thursday before the Illinois Pollution Control Board to demand tougher protections against pollution.

Adjacent to the Waukegan coal plant now owned by New Jersey power company NRG Energy are two coal ash pits, totaling 104 million gallons, sitting right next to Lake Michigan. Coal ash is the waste material left after coal is burned. It is full of heavy metals, such as mercury, lead and arsenic, which can cause cancer and brain damage in humans and are toxic to fish and wildlife.

In 2012, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency issued notices of violation for excessive levels of dangerous groundwater pollutants at the coal ash ponds in Waukegan, as well as three other coal plants formerly owned by Midwest Generation. While some corrective measures have been taken, community members feel more protections are still needed to safeguard groundwater and Lake Michigan.

“Having two coal ash ponds right next to Lake Michigan that have a history of groundwater contamination presents a real threat for that body of water,” said Traci Barkley, water resources scientist with Prairie Rivers Network. “Strong rules on coal ash waste from Gov. Quinn and state agencies will help protect communities like Waukegan from the undue liability of having to clean up messes from polluters.”

Over a dozen residents from Waukegan and Lake County testified at the Illinois Pollution Control Board hearings in Chicago on Wednesday. They also delivered hundreds of additional public comments from other community members urging stronger coal ash protections.

Community members, environmental organizations and public health experts also asked that power companies be required to provide financial assurances so that taxpayers aren’t left paying the bill for coal ash disaster clean-up.

“Coal ash pollution presents significant threats to public health and water quality,” said Mary Mathews from the League of Women Voters of Lake County and a Lake Forest resident. “State agencies and elected officials should be doing more to ensure that such an important body of water like Lake Michigan is better protected from the threats of coal ash pollution in Waukegan.”

The hearings come in the aftermath of this winter’s coal ash disaster in North Carolina, where toxic coal ash flowed through a broken pipe into the Dan River, spreading contaminants as far as 70 miles downstream. That disaster, which could cost up to $1 billion to clean up, could have been avoided if alarms raised by community groups and citizens for years had been heeded.

As written, the state’s proposed rules fall severely short of protecting Illinois communities from the serious harm that coal ash pits pose. Furthermore, the state’s rules fall short of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s considerations of a federal coal ash rule that would protect communities.

“Knowing the weaknesses in existing protections increases the concern about coal ash ponds like one in Waukegan, which is so close Lake Michigan,” said Faith Bugel, senior attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Coal ash ponds around the state need tougher standards to protect surrounding communities.”

“Our lives in Lake County center around Lake Michigan. It is where we get our drinking water, it is where our children play in the summer and it is even where families in the Waukegan community fish for sustenance,” said Maryfran Troha, a Lake County resident who lives near NRG Energy’s Waukegan coal plant. “In Waukegan we have coal ash pits, with a history of contamination, sitting right next to Lake Michigan and our community and our lake deserves stronger protections.”

Monday, April 21, 2014

Video of Anatomy of A Wrongful Conviction of a Woman Now Online

Hear first hand about the wrongful conviction of Kristine Bunch and the arduous process of earning her exoneration after spending 17 years in an Indiana prison. See times below if you would like to forward to a particular segment.

Welcome & Introductions by Gayle Miller current president of Association of Women Attorneys of Lake County and Department Co-Chair, Program of Paralegal Studies, College of Lake County
0:00:00 – 0:04:00

Judy Royal, Co-Director of the Women’s Project of the Center on Wrongful Convictions
0:04:00 – 0:30:30

Jane RaleyCo-Legal director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions
(speaks on arson cases, one of Kristine Bunch's attorneys)
0:30:30 – 1:01:35

Kristine Bunch, exoneree and client of Center on Wrongful Convictions
1:01:35 – 1:12:12 (speaks about her case)
1:12:12 – 1:17:50 (speaks about what has happened since her release, her relationship with her now-teenaged child)

Question & Answer period
1:17:50 – 1:42:00

This event was held on Sunday, April 13, 2014 at the College of Lake County, Grayslake Campus.