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July 2008 Newsletter

Analog to Digital Transition

As many of you may already know, the country is in the process of transitioning all on-air broadcasting from an analog format to an all-digital format.    By law, February 17, 2009, is the last day for full-power television stations to broadcast in analog.

The Federal Communications Commission in Washington recently contacted me in an effort to reach out to vulnerable groups such as senior citizens, non-English speaking customers, minority communities, low-income consumers, and those living in rural areas.  They have set up a website, that includes specific information on the transition.   Please call my office if you or someone you know has any questions.

Freight Congestion in our Region

I recently wrote a Letter to the Editor regarding the Canadian National Railway purchase of the EJ&E line in the western suburbs.  It appeared in the Pioneer Press newspaper in Mount Prospect.  This issue has been widely covered in the media and I want to share my perspective with you.

Dear Editor:

Anyone living in the Chicagoland region can empathize with the concerns of communities along the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern railway (EJ&E) raised by the proposed purchase by the Canadian National Railway Company (CN).

But there is also a regional perspective to this potential acquisition that is significant.  The Chicagoland area is the world’s fifth largest intermodal freight hub (we used to be third not that long ago).  The movement of freight is a huge economic engine in our regional economy.  The rail industry alone employs almost 9000 people in northeastern Illinois and thousands more are working in the warehousing, distribution and logistics sectors.

Unfortunately, investment in the necessary transportation infrastructure has lagged to the point where rail and truck traffic is so congested it is reaching a breaking point.  Rather than looking to Chicago as a freight hub, many companies are being lured by Kansas City, Memphis and others – all of which are actively seeking these significant investments.

The Chicago Department of Transportation, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the six Class I railroads in the Chicago region came together a few years ago to work on a plan to relieve rail and traffic congestion. The result was the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE).  CREATE was conceived as a $1.5 billion public-private partnership.

In the last federal transportation bill, CREATE received only $100 million and the state has yet to come up with any money.  While we continue to haggle over taxpayer funding for critical congestion relief, the CN is offering a purely private sector solution.

All manner of consumer goods – from shoes to cars – are transported by train.  It is the most economically and environmentally efficient form of transportation.  In the global economy, which is dependent upon transporting goods quickly and reliably, freight trains are a fact of life.  The CN proposal deserves a fair review that considers all factors, including the positive regional economic benefits.

Nekritz Nine at Nite

One August 15th of this year, I will hold my annual Nekritz Nine at Nite fundraiser/golf outing.  This year the proceeds will benefit the Des Plaines Community Foundation, a local organization that promotes a healthy lifestyle and provides many services to teens and senior citizens in Des Plaines.  The event will be held at the Des Plaines Golf Center.  If you are interested in attending or sponsoring a hole, please contact my office.


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