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January 2010 Newsletter

Update on the Thomson Correctional Facility

As you may already know, I serve on the Commission of Government Forecasting & Accountability (COGFA) that was required to hold a hearing regarding about the closure of the Thomson Correctional Facility.  COGFA is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative panel.  We recently held a hearing in Sterling, Illinois and after almost seven hours of testimony, COGFA voted to support the closure of Thomson.  The State of Illinois is exploring the option of selling the facility to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to house not only federal prisoners but, potentially, detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

I felt it was important to show legislative support for the closure of the facility and the COGFA vote allowed this to happen.  I supported the closure of the facility mainly because of its economic impacts to Illinois and its residents.  It is currently costing the State (and taxpayers) $1 million dollars to maintain an empty facility.  It is estimated that in the first year, the modification, opening, and running of the facility will generate between 2,290 and 2,960 jobs in the seven-county area.  Local residents will be excellent candidates for these jobs and in the first year, total earnings will increase by between $131 million and $185 million.

My Legislative Agenda for 2010

Eliminating the Cook County ROE

Last May I introduced legislation (House Bill 4855) to eliminate the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education (ROE).  My goal in pursuing this legislation was first and foremost to assure that our suburban schools get the services they need in an efficient and effective manner.

The ROE was established to provide essential services for school districts including: teacher certifications, life/safety inspections of schools and financial oversight – all of which are critically important for our education system.

With the recent arrest of Dr. Charles Flowers, I plan to re-introduce this legislation and working on the possibility of transforming the ROE into something that will work for both schools and taxpayers.

Governance of the Cook County Forest Preserve

I also plan to re-introduce legislation regarding the Forest Preserve District of Cook County that would allow them to have a separate Board of Commissioners.  Currently, the Forest Preserve District is governed by the Cook County Board – the same board that oversees the largest integrated court system in the country and the second largest health system. I believe separating the boards will eliminate the conflicts of interest inherent in the current system of governance and allow for better oversight of the Forest Preserve District.  Supporters of this legislation include: Friends of the Forest Preserve, The Civic Federation, and The Sierra Club.

 

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