Gerard to help deliver petitions on state plastic-bag bill

Gerard to help deliver petitions on state plastic-bag bill

CHAMPAIGN — Mayor Don Gerard will join 12-year-old Abby Goldberg on Tuesday in Chicago as she delivers a petition with more than 150,000 signatures urging Gov. Pat Quinn to veto a plastic-bag waste bill.

Officials will be watching Quinn with interest as a bill that would remove the city's authority to ban plastic bags awaits his signature.

Senate Bill 3442 would prohibit manufacturers from selling plastic bags in Illinois unless that manufacturer is registered with the state and pays a fee to do so.

The legislation would also require manufacturers to submit a plan to support the collection and recycling of those bags.

But after a majority of Champaign City Council members in March supported a per-bag fee on the plastic sacks at retail stores, officials are concerned about another provision of the bill: One that would remove local governments' authority to ban or charge for plastic bags.

"This is a piece of legislation that's just bad," Gerard said. "It has something to offend everyone."

That includes environmentalists who want to see the end of plastic bags, Gerard said, and supporters of small government.

"Whether we put a fee on bags, whether we put a ban on bags or whether we do nothing, it should be our choice," Gerard said.

Environmentalists say the bill is an attempt by the plastic-bag industry to put a stop to the bag bans that are becoming more and more common throughout the country.

"I think that this bill is calling a time out," said Jack Darin, director of the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club. "It's calling a halt to communities like Champaign and Urbana that are interested in innovative strategies to reduce plastic-bag waste."

Darin said recycling programs — like the one established in this bill — are a good first step, but there is no reason to enact legislation to end it there.

"There's no need to handcuff mayors and communities that would like to go beyond that and help make sure that those recycling programs work," Darin said.

In May, the bill passed 38-15 in the state Senate and 72-44 in the House. Both state Sen. Michael Frerichs, D-Champaign, and Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, voted against the legislation.

Plastic-bag manufacturers do not buy the argument that the bill handcuffs local governments. Bag bans do not necessarily prevent litter or save landfill space, said Donna Dempsey, spokesperson for the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a special-interest group that represents manufacturers.

"We are optimistic about this," Dempsey said. "Bans and taxes don't reduce litter. They cost consumers money to buy replacement products if bags are banned."

If Quinn were to sign the bill, that would effectively kill the program Champaign officials were considering. It would become illegal for the city to ban or place a per-bag fee on the plastic bags consumers get when they check out at grocery or retail stores.

Champaign administrative services manager Elizabeth Hannan said city officials are, for now, holding off on further study of the issue and waiting to see what the governor does.

Fifth-grader Goldberg was trying to pass a plastic-bag ban in her hometown of Grayslake as part of a school project before the state Legislature passed the bill. She started an online petition urging Quinn to veto the legislation, and as of Sunday evening, she had collected 153,474 electronic signatures.

Gerard will join her in delivering those signatures to Quinn's Chicago office on Tuesday.

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rsp wrote on July 02, 2012 at 7:07 am

Bag bans do not necessarily prevent litter or save landfill space, said Donna Dempsey, spokesperson for the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a special-interest group that represents manufacturers.

Just where exactly does she think bags end up when they don't get recycled, which is the case with most bags? Aside from our waterways, of course.

MadGasser wrote on July 02, 2012 at 8:07 am
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I'd like more information on where I can sign the petition. Anyone?

Surf 1 wrote on July 02, 2012 at 8:07 am
Jsmith68 wrote on July 02, 2012 at 9:07 am

Is there anyone who likes to see their name in the paper more than Mayor Gerard?

Mark Taylor wrote on July 02, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Oooooh, I know. I just hate seeing his dang name in the paper. I hate it so much. It just burns me up when he forces the dang News Gazette write up these stories about him mayoring all over town, I tell you what. Mayor Jerry sure would never have done something to embarrass us.


TomG wrote on July 02, 2012 at 9:07 am

So I see the city is worried about losing the revenue from plastic bags now.  If you look at the fields around the north prospect area they aren't filled with plastic bags, i rarely see plastic bags in the fields, most of the things in the fields are just regular paper trash and construction garbage.

Taxing the bags will do nothing to clean up the town.  I'm sure they won't use the revenue to go around and pick up trash.

There are many other things in this city that need attention.  One I've noticed recently is all the pandhandlers that are downtown asking for money every 5 minutes when you're outside.  To me this makes the city look more trashy and  not somewhere i want to spend much time.

rsp wrote on July 03, 2012 at 10:07 am

Are they really asking every five minutes? Because it's just so painful when you have to see someone who is suffering, knowing that the police are going to arrest them for being poor. And to have to go through that every five minutes in public while all those other people are eating and having coffee and just in general enjoying themselves. You must be so sensitive.

JK wrote on July 02, 2012 at 10:07 am

Go state! The Champaign bill was not a good idea. Just another tax. Send the county jail prisoners out to "police" the area and recycle the bags collected. Or make community service clean-up a part of sentencing.

larbear wrote on July 02, 2012 at 12:07 pm

The bag tax is just a way for the city to make money as I am sure they will not be sending people out to clean the fields that are covered with them. A recycling program might help the environment but I don’t see it stopping people for littering them that already do it. The only way to stop the bags is an outright ban on them. No other program will remove them from our streets.

bluegrass wrote on July 02, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I dropped off my car to be worked on this morning in Champaign, and walked about 2 miles to my office.  Interestingly I did not see one, single plastic bag littering the sidewalks, streets, or trees.  What I did see were 3 or 4 yard signs that had been blown over or for whatever reason were laying flat in yards or the gutter, advertising the government funded broadband project Mayor Gerard lauds so much.  

Our entire system of government is becoming a comedy of errors.  Here we have the Mayor of Champaign upset at Quinn because his non-solution (taxing bags won't deter litterbugs) to a non-problem which would afford him more tax money, might be taken from his hands and placed in the hands of the State.  The same IL Governor wasting time on the same stupid legislation when he has a multi-billion budget deficit to deal with and wht is coming up on a hundred million in unfunded pension and health care liabilities.  And back in Champaign, the real litter comes from signs posted to advertise another government funded soution to a non-problem (do the libraries and governmental bodies not have internet access now?)

Tax, penalty, fee, plastic bags, who really cares?  We've jumped the shark.   


rsp wrote on July 03, 2012 at 1:07 am

I have at least three bags in trees in my yard from people letting garbage blow. Considering we don't bring them home there shouldn't be any in my trees. It harms the wildlife around my home, contributes to the general mood of the neighborhood, and I really believe it contributes to the crime level. When people keep coming into your area and dumping their garbage they are saying that you are garbage. When you are constantly told you are garbage you get angry at society, because society says you don't matter. When a corporation comes into your community and by their business practices contributes to the problem and actively fights any solutions, it's time to really weigh their benefit to the community.

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on July 02, 2012 at 12:07 pm

A successful working model of plastic bag ban is Toronto and the Ontario Canada province;  google these for more  info.

Sid Saltfork wrote on July 02, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Did Gerard carry the petitions in a paper bag?  Did he wear that fine fur hat that he wore for part of the night feeling what it was like to be homeless?  The guy is a publicity hound.

RLW wrote on July 02, 2012 at 3:07 pm

No bags in the fields? Really? Then you must not have seen all the Walmart bags in the fields

about six monthes after the new store opened.Go to any retail parking lot at night when there are no cars and you will see all kinds of bags and garbage because people are to lazy to throw their trash away.

TomG wrote on July 02, 2012 at 5:07 pm

90% of the "bags" you see is just paper trash.  There are actually very few bags compared to other trash. 

Either way people are too lazy to throw the trash away and taxing plastic bags will do nothing to stop it.

Mark Taylor wrote on July 03, 2012 at 7:07 am

That's right. These ding dang leiberal enviroMENTALS are just too dang dumb to tell the difference between paper and plastic. Not like us smart REAL AMERCIANS who are smart enough not only to detect the subtle differences between the two at 500 paces, but we can instantly calculate the ratios between them.


rsp wrote on July 03, 2012 at 10:07 am

I can't even tell in the store. So I try to leave them there.

e-man wrote on July 02, 2012 at 3:07 pm
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Why not force the bag makers to use a biodegradable polymer for illinois or whatever town has issues. Didnt the plastic bags come along because paper bags were "bad" also, now what..besides meat juice soaked reusable bags

C-U Townie wrote on July 02, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Again Champaign misses the mark. They need to be implementing recycling programs and education elements in schools. Teach individuals while they are young the importance of taking care of the environment. Taxing adults is a day late and a dollar short. But if you want to try and educate adults encourage businesses to go as green as they can and encourage employees to spend a Saturday cleaning up the areas around the business. 

I don't know why anyone is surprised. This is coming from a mayor who has said that his hope is by the time he leaves office there will be will $100 million in new construction occuring in the Champaign area. Because THAT will solve the community's problems. I'm glad Gerard is just a mouth piece and not the City Manager. If he had more say in what occurs in this town I would move to Danville (and that selection of towns should say something about the confidence I have in our mayor). 

"Two years from now, I'd like to see $100,000,000 in construction projects under way," after he boasts that "You know, I don't have a whole lot. I expected the learning curve to be large. I've been really blessed, and I've had a really good run. I really don't have any regrets. Certainly, we all would do things a little bit differently, but at the end of the day, I think for the most part, it's been a pretty darn good first year." Sure, if this were a popularity contest he fared well his first year with getting his face everywhere he could and accomplishing nothing in the meantime. Wow, I sure hope he's elected again! 

Listen folks, it's not rocket science. To change behavior you have to provide education and options. Taxing is not an option. Education is key. Schools are the best breeding ground for better behaviors regarding protecting the environment. Talk to the PTAs. Talk to the superintendent. Offering funding to schools who participate in an environmentally friendly program and have students who actively improve the environment. Do something other than create a tax for adults that raises money for a community that is floundering because it's being run by individuals who are all a lot of talk and very little (efficient) action. 


rsp wrote on July 03, 2012 at 1:07 am

To change behavior you have to provide education and options.

And how do you suggest paying for the education and the options? Or did you not think this through?

C-U Townie wrote on July 03, 2012 at 6:07 pm

There are agencies and organizations in place that offer education on recycling. Working with parents information can be provided to more parents, and continue the domino effect. Parents and community members needs to take up this cause. It's their children and grandchildren who will suffer from their lack of interest in preserving the environment.

You can oppose ideas all you want, but if you have no idea to offer up then you have no room to complain. It falls upon the community to spread education and to work together. That's how you educate and spread information without breaking the bank. And it doesn't mean that just one idea for recycling is the key to solving this issue. That's part of the benefit of getting community members invested. They can brainstorm and come up with ideas. Just as this little girl was able to create a petition for a school project, encourage students of all ages to come up with ways for recycling and reuse to be done at home, at school, and at parents' places of employment. It benefits them as they are able to develop ideas and benefits the community as children may remain invested in the environment and even practice environmentally relevant behavior.

The I.D.E.A. Store promotes reusing materials and products. They're just one resource that can be used. Stop looking at agencies to foot the bill all the time. That's why we're in this position. We leave it up to the government to handle problems, and when they choose a problem that we don't like we blame them and complain. Be part of the solution and do work on your own, encourage friends to do the same... heck start your own group to spread the word. When you fight for your right to decide what happens to you and your city I would hope you would use those rights to do something productive. 

rsp wrote on July 03, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Here's my idea. Ban plastic bags outright. You can reuse all you want but they blow out of landfills and endanger the environment. So no I don't oppose ideas. All of the classes at the IDEA store cost money. Any programs that they do in the school to educate the kids cost money. You oppose the bag tax which would have payed for educational things but you still haven't said how you would pay for the things you suggested. 

Mark Taylor wrote on July 03, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Ding dang right, cu townie. I'm moving too. Champaign sure is gonna miss us. The average iq's gonna drop 20 points once we leave, right?

And you're right, this mayor hasn't accomplished a single thing. Except for all those things he did that people like you and I don't like. Then he's done too much.

And you're right that new construction is a crazy goal for any mayor anywhere anytime to have. I mean, what is that? He just want to do it to get the construction permit fees, I tell you what. We all know that kind of thing DOES NOTHING for the local economy.

gftst wrote on July 03, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Maybe Mayor Gerard and this 12 year old girl who needs to worry about more important things in life other than plastic bags can come help me carry in my groceries since it will take multiple trips with paper bags, or maybe come help me wipe off my groceries from the bacteria that festers in the bottoms of the reusable bags, or help me afford to buy plastic bags to put in my trash cans or deposit my pets waste in since I sure as heck cant afford an added expense even though most people would think I can since Im this highly paid govermment union employee who is bankrupting our cities and our states.

rsp wrote on July 03, 2012 at 4:07 pm

This started as a school project. This law says that they can't ban plastic bags in her town. She was wanting to do something about the bags blowing out of the landfill in her town, killing animals in her area, etc. Reusable bags can be washed. Do you really want us to beleve you can't afford trash bags? And if the only way you can be a responsible pet owner is if somebody gives you a free bag...

gftst wrote on July 03, 2012 at 8:07 pm

You certainly seem to have a lot of time on your hands rsp to give everyone a response that supports your agenda. The law says I believe they cant ban bags in any town not just her town so if its vetoed it affects us all. I dont see to many reports around here or see to many animals in my neighborhood running around with bags stuck to their heads or dieing because of it. Maybe it doesnt affect you but if you havent noticed times are tough for a lot of people, buying extra bags for your trash, pets, etc may not seem like much but its just one more expense that is added on in a time of rising prices and stagnant wages that added all up is just to much for a lot of people. Recyling in Urbana at least accepts unneeded plastic bags for recycling as do a lot of stores, that should be promoted instead of out right bans or fees. As the News-Gazette likes to say this is a solution with out a problem. Their are bigger issues going on in this world, country,state, city than adding a plastic bag ban or fee.

rsp wrote on July 03, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Do you like to eat fish? I do. I like to eat fish that doesn't have tiny pieces of plastic all inside it. Plastic from bags that have escaped from landfills and washed into streams and into the ocean only to end up in little pieces inside of the fish we eat. So every time you eat fish you're eating those plastic bags you love so much. Enjoy your dinner.

gftst wrote on July 03, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Wow you missed the entire point...keep living in your world it must be fun. Bye.

rsp wrote on July 03, 2012 at 9:07 pm

What exactly did you do before they invented plastic bags?

ClearVision wrote on July 07, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Me, I used paper bags. I have an ingrown toenail due to a cold soda bottle ripping out of a paper bag and dropping on my foot. Took quite a bit of pain and more than a little cash to deal with that incident, I tell ya what.

common_sense_isn't wrote on July 03, 2012 at 1:07 pm

The economy in this state is swirling around the toilet, and we are worried about plastic freaking bags.  Unbelievable.

ClearVision wrote on July 06, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Studies have shown the current plastic supermarket bag is better than the alternatives in measurable ways. For example:

If the mayor and city council really want to do what's right they'd act based on fact and reality instead of listening to whatever kneejerk group of people is whinging about the latest hot activist fad. Even worse, by the mayor's own words some members of the council decided for a bag ban based entirely on the perception that they were being "bullied" by bag manufacturers. Is that the way we want our government representatives at any level to act? What if those "bullies" are right? Cut off our noses to spite them? That wasn't even a reasonable thing to do in the third grade let alone as purportedly mature, rational adults.

cuvoter wrote on July 08, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I have a plastic bag in my tree outside of my bedroom window.  It's been there for about 2 years. It's not worth buying/renting a ladder to get it down but if it were paper it would be gone already.

The Mayor has to use his symbolic power and his ability to draw publicity to an issue.  Protecting the environment is a fine use of that power.  

If the City really just wanted more money, they could raise property taxes or sales tax by .001% and make more than this tax will generate.  This is about changing the consumption patterns by Champaign residents.  A shift in the balance to paper/biodegradable plastic will be the real outcome.  If it's a 100% shift, then the tax will generate $0.