of Champaign County

    Steering Committee

  February 4, 2009

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by the chair, Esther Patt.

Present: Bill Brown, Paul Debevec, Carol Leff, Matt Miller, Esther Patt, Steven Portnoy, Lynne Rudasill, and Richard Schnuer.

Approval of Minutes: The minutes of the December meeting were approved as distributed. (The Steering Committee did not meet in January.)

Old Business

a) Matthew Miller – Internship

Carol noted that Matthew, who will graduate in May, is a political science intern and will work with the steering committee, under the supervision of Carol Leff, to analyze reports on police stops. Consent searches are particular concern of the Steering Committee, which discussed possible areas of inquiry, data available, and related issues. Steve offered to provide technical assistance to Matt.

c) Security cameras – University and Cities

Bill led this discussion, expressing the Committee’s concern that the University was not following its policy on security cameras. The University’s policy delegates administration of the policy to the University Police. Bill led this discussion, saying that the policy itself is generally good (which is not to say that members of the committee generally favor use of cameras). The University’s policy states that notice of the presence of cameras should be posted at the front door of any building at which cameras are present. Bill checked this at ARC and CRCE, noting that signs are present but are not right at the front door. He also noted that the University’s notice is not permanently mounted on the building, which seems odd because the cameras are permanently mounted. Members decided to communicate to the Police Chief commending development of the policy while expressing concern regarding use of the policy generally.

The Committee also discussed use of cameras and existence of policies by the cities of Champaign and Urbana and Champaign County. Members noted that cameras are used at the Urbana City Building; Champaign City Building, Police Department, and Public Library; and the County Courthouse.

New Business

a) Spring newsletter

The Committee decided to use the newsletter (rather than a post card) to announce the Annual Meeting. The Committee also decided that the newsletter should be mailed Monday March 15 so that it would arrive a week before spring break (March 22). Therefore the deadline for newsletter articles was set as March 5. Matt offered to assist with writing a newsletter article. A date to stuff envelopes will be set in the future.

We will also contact the Illinois ACLU, which has some member email addresses that the Champaign County chapter does not have. The Illinois ACLU will send notices to members on its email list. We will ask that those notices go out after spring break.

b) Nominating Committee Report

Esther reported on the results of the work of the Nominating Committee, which recommends the following officers for next year: President- Bill Brown; Vice-president - Carol Inskeep; Co-secretaries - Lynn Rudasill and Carol Leff; Treasurer - Ward Henson.

c) Awards

Esther reported that the awards committee recommends giving the Chalmers Award to Barb Kessel, who has worked on the Taser issue with the City of Champaign, Quakers, and others. She is also working to get the ACLU video “Busted” into the high schools. This award was created in honor of W. Ellison Chalmers for extraordinary service, in the cause of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, to the community. Also, the committee recommended giving the Norton Award to Bill Brown for his work on the newsletter and other matters. The Norton Award was established in honor of Horace W. Norton for Service to the Chapter. (The chapter’s website has a list of prior award recipients.)

Bill moved, seconded by Carol, that we give the Chalmers award to Barb Kessel. The motion was approved unanimously.

Esther moved, seconded by Carol, that we give the Service Award to Bill Brown. The motion was approved unanimously.

d) Annual Meeting

We will follow same format as last year. It will be held Sunday, April 11 at Milo’s, with doors open at 11:00am and meal service at 11:30am. Fee will be $25 as last year; Milo’s can provide a good meal within this amount. Marsha Woodbury had suggested the speaker (Coleen Rowley) so Marsha will introduce Ms. Rowley and will write a piece on her for the newsletter. Esther will request to borrow a podium from the YMCA and Richard will rent a microphone. ACLU will reimburse some of Ms. Rowley’s expenses.

e) “Busted” video for high school’s – Mark Foley’s class

This video depicts interactions between young people and police. The Champaign chapter has a copy of it and thinks it may be appropriate for use in high schools, while acknowledging that some people may believe that certain aspects of the video may not be considered appropriate for high school students. Mark Foley, a teacher at Urbana High, is evaluating the video for possible use in the schools. Several committee members expressed that the film would likely not be endorsed by high schools for general use due to content and presentation, but it might be shown by specific teachers.

The Committee decided that it would contribute $100 to local high schools to purchase copies (seven required) if the schools believe it is appropriate to show to students. If Mark Foley decides that the film is not appropriate for high school students, his class would like to produce a film that would be appropriate for widespread use. The Committee decided that it would offer to assist such a production by providing advice and some funding.

f) Lobby Day: Esther said that she planned to participate in Lobby Day in Springfield on February 10, to lobby for the Reproductive Health and Justice Act, and she invited anyone who would like to go to join her.

g) “Beeping Ballots”: Members discussed the newly-effective state law mandating that the machines that accept ballots beep if the ballot contains no vote for a state or local office. Some members believe that the beeping is a privacy issue because the beep indicates that a person decided not to vote for someone. This might especially be an issue where the ballot contains only one candidate for a particular office. Other members expressed that the beep provides a useful purpose by notifying someone who may have inadvertently failed to vote for a particular office.

f) Rental of Assembly Hall for Chief Dance. In light of the apparent actions of University officials to intentionally thwart the dance organizers’ desire to hold the event on a day that many people would visit campus, Paul asked “is this our Skokie?” Paul noted that while most ACLU members probably do not support the Chief, ACLU clearly supports the right of Chief supporters to conduct its activities in the same manner as other organizations; i.e., the University should not base its scheduling decisions on content of the event (aside from logistical issues such as room capacity). Members of the Committee discussed this and decided to ask the Illinois Division office whether the University's action to allow the anti-Chief dance, but to not allow it at the time and date the group chose, constitutes a violation of the students’ free speech rights if the reason for the University’s decision was related to the content of the program.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:45.

Respectfully submitted,

Richard Schnuer