Guest commentary: Petition drive has a long way to go

Guest commentary: Petition drive has a long way to go

By BARBARA WYSOCKI

It's time for a reporting about the Yes For Independent Maps campaign to secure a constitutional amendment redrawing legislative districts every 10 years by an independent citizens commission rather than the controlling legislative political party. Three months ago, Trent Shepherd, Diane and Ed Wilhite, Al Nudo, Steve Beckett, Theresa Michelson, Lex Tate, Sherry Steigmann and I came together to form a bipartisan group to coordinate the local petition drive. Since then, others too numerous to name have signed or sought petitions.

So far, 2,703 signatures have been collected in Champaign County — 786 signatures alone in the first two weeks of December — as committee members have been present at farmers' markets, tailgate parties and meetings of civic organizations.

The League of Women Voters supports this initiative, recognizing this change as a means to achieve greater transparency, honesty and grass-roots involvement in the legislative process. LWV is working for a second time, this time with the Yes For Independent Maps network, to obtain the necessary 298,000 signatures.

All committee members have commented on the enthusiasm for this amendment — many seeing it as an antidote for the corruption in Illinois government. People have grabbed clipboards out of our hands as we have barely begun to identify the proposal, least of all, its benefits.

The Chamber of Commerce has petitions available in its lobby at 303 W. Kirby Ave., C, for citizens to walk in and sign, pick up and/or notarize. The chamber is asking its member businesses to do the same as the petition drive period enters its second half. Beckett & Webber, 508 S. Broadway Ave., Urbana, is providing space for obtaining and notarizing petitions on the first Saturdays of January, February and March, beginning at 10 a.m.

The Champaign County League meeting on Jan. 21 will focus on this campaign with guests Michael Kolenc and Patricia Landes. Michael is the statewide campaign manager of Yes For Independent Maps; Patricia, who is from Peoria, joined the League specifically to work on this effort. Petitions will be available to sign and pick up; a notary will also be on hand to certify completed petitions. The public meeting will be held at the Champaign Public Library at 7 p.m.

On campus, a journalism class has developed a marketing plan to reach Parkland and University of Illinois students to encourage them to support this referendum. Petitions will be available at Illinois' Activity Day on Jan. 28.

With three months to go, there is still much to do to reach the 298,000 statewide signatures which are necessary to qualify for voters' consideration at the November 2014 election. What can you personally do?

1) Check out the campaign's website (http://www.IndependentMaps.org) for more information.

2) Circulate a petition (15 signatures to the page) among family, friends and/or other organizations to which you belong. Petitions can also be obtained from any committee member.

3) Encourage other organizations to invite a local speaker with Yes For Independent Maps to make the case for this referendum.

Now is the time for citizens in Champaign County to join those in other communities across the state seeking to change the way Illinois government works.

Barbara Wysocki is president of the League of Women Voters of Champaign County and a member of the local committee for Yes For Independent Maps.

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cjwinla wrote on December 29, 2013 at 10:12 am

Thankfully this misguided effort is on a path to fail. What a waste if resources and energy under the premise that it's the "antidote for corruption in politics in Illinois" . Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact greedy politicians are the issue behind corruption in Illinois. Period. What is important for people to realize is that redistricting on a national basis has helped the GOP to capture the House of Representatives and maintain control despite the fact that Dem congressional candidates received substantial more votes than the GOP congressional candidates. 

In a time where the GOP is trying to eliminate many of the hard won gains of labor, women, African Americans, middle class Americans , young Americans and many more now is not the time to disarm. Redistricting is a national issue. If the red states are not reforming their redistricting processes why would Illinois, a blue state do so ? To hand over more power to the GOP ? Absolutely not ! The only fair way to reform redistricting is if all states do it at the same time the same way so that the playing level is even across the board. Attempts to change the game in Illinois while Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana continue to gerrymander Dems out of power is a surrender move in a state where Dems hold the majority. 

This local committee is made up of a group of respectable people in the community. The "Bipartisan" tag could be more accurately described as "multi partisan" as two of its members abandoned the Democratic Party on the County Board and supported their Republican colleague, ( who is also on this committee)  and give the GOP control . 

In an era where the ideological divide between the two parties is wider then ever and core Democratic values on issues like wages, pensions, voting rights, and immigration are under a blistering attack by the GOP now is not he time to surrender the strength of Democrats in the blue state of Illinois. 

Redistricting Reform is either dealt with on a national basis or not at all. 

Political Observer wrote on December 30, 2013 at 1:12 am

The News-Gazette calls this a "Guest Commentary" but as it's written, isn't it fairly close to falling into the same category as a chain letter (or an infomercial)?  All we seem to get here is a bunch of highly positive comments that are strongly in favor of a poorly-fleshed out proposal, where ultimately the "Devil is in the Details"...But, of course, we aren't allowed to see the details, are we?... Unless we go out and laboriously hunt down those details ourselves, I guess?  

Or would we somehow be "Un-American" if we failed to immediately swoon over this proposal, and asked to see how it was guaranteed to work, as planned?

Political Observer wrote on December 30, 2013 at 1:12 am

Short Synopsis of the Guest Commentary's Sales Pitch:  Quick, quick, sign here!  This will make everything better in Illinois!  Just trust us! After all, we're BI-PARTISAN. 


Signed,

Your Friends on Both Sides of the Political Spectrum

(i.e. BOTH The Republicans AND The Becket-ocrats)!

Political Observer wrote on December 30, 2013 at 1:12 am

One of the paragraphs in the Guest Commentary that I found most interesting was this one:

"All committee members have commented on the enthusiasm for this amendment — many seeing it as an antidote for the corruption in Illinois government. People have grabbed clipboards out of our hands as we have barely begun to identify the proposal, least of all, its benefits."

I submit that it's a sad day in Illinois when the President of the League of Women Voters of Champaign County gushes that voters are so eager to put a Constitutional Amendment on the 2014 State Election Ballot that the people signing the petitions to change the state's Constitution don't even care to hear (or read) how the proposal is worded, or find out how it's supposed to work.