of Champaign County

    Steering Committee

March 4, 2010

1. Present


Steering Committee members present were Bill Brown, Carol Inskeep Carol Leff, Ward Henson, Hiram Paley, Steve Portnoy, Esther Patt, and Richard Schnuer.  Also present were Matthew Miller, the political science intern who is working with the committee this semester, and the following members of the ACLU student group at ACLU (named “ACLU at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, Student Chapter”): Lauren Simon (President), John Motylinski (Vice-President), and Danish Haider, who will serve as liaison to the Steering Committee.


2. Approval of Minutes of the February Meeting


Motion by Carol Inskeep, second by Steve Portnoy, to approve the minutes of the February 4, 2010. 


3. Old Business


Spring Newsletter: Members agreed to fold, label, and stamp the newsletter at Richard’s house at 7pm March 11. 


Nominating Committee:  Diana Lenik, Mark Ansel, and Barbara Kessel have agreed to serve on the Steering Committee. We have also contacted two other individuals and await their responses.


Annual Meeting: This will be held Sunday, April 11 at 11am at Milo’s Restaurant.  The regular fee is $25 and the student fee is $15.  Fees cover the meal (all-inclusive).  The speaker is Coleen Rowley, a 24-year FBI veteran and “whistleblower” on mishandling of information received prior to the 9-11 attack. She has been active in opposing the use of torture in investigation.


Surveillance cameras:  Pursuant to last month’s discussion on this topic, Esther mentioned that the signs at CRCE are permanent, next to the person who swipes IDs.  She said that she did not see any signage concerning the presence of cameras at the Champaign Public Library. There are such signs at the Urbana library.


University of Illinois Free Speech – Chief Illiniwek.  Esther said that she had advised the Illinois Division of this matter as agreed at the prior meeting.  Hiram Paley mentioned that the News-Gazette had asked him whether the ACLU was interested in this, and Hiram said that we were reviewing it.


4. New Business


Student Chapter: Lauren (ACLU student chapter President; see list of meeting participants above) said that the student chapter is working on recruitment, social activities, and awareness events.  It has a Facebook presence and is considering a spring event on reproductive rights.  Steering committee members discussed whether we should designate a member to serve as liaison to the student chapter, attend meetings, and foster cooperation on appropriate issues.  Lauren said that the student chapter had designated Danish as its representative to the Steering Committee. Therefore, the Steering Committee decided there was no need to send a member to the student chapter meetings. (Also they meet late.)


Preliminary Report on Analysis of Police Stops:  Matthew provided a handout with preliminary findings and made a verbal report.  He hopes to get data on the locations of the stops, which would enhance the analysis greatly.  Also, the analysis does not yet include 2008 data, but that is now available so it will hopefully be included soon. Matt will make some suggested changes and the committee agreed to post the revised report on the web site, while noting that it’s still preliminary.  Matt’s comments on his analysis included the following:


Urbana data:  While the proportion of searches of Caucasians and African Americans was about equal in 2004, the percent of African Americans searches had increased in subsequent years.  % of stops was higher in Urbana rather than Champaign.   Also, while the percent of stops of Caucasians was higher than that of African Americans, the percent of searches was opposite. 


Champaign:  As with Urbana, the percent of stops of Caucasians was higher than that of African Americans, the percent of searches was opposite.  A higher percent of African-Americans than Caucasians were searched, and while the percent was higher than Urbana is was relatively level over the years.


Generally, the chances of African-Americans being searched are much greater than for Caucasians; however, some committee members argued that it’s hard to compare one city to another because they haven’t been adjusted for the age of drivers. Committee members noted that about 14% of the Urbana residents are African American, but the percent of African American drivers in Urbana may be higher than the percent of drivers due to a high student driving population.


Legislative Update - Major bills of interest in Springfield include the following:


SB 3477 would amend the human rights act to allow discrimination when the employer is a religious organization or operated by a religious organization.


HB5699 would amend the child care act to allow any faith-based adoption agency to place children with families of only the religion of the agency.


HB6205, the Civil Union Act (an ACLU bill), is not moving through the legislative process.


Esther noted that the Chapter Conference call is Tuesday March 9 at 5pm.  She said that any member can call in; information provided in the meeting agenda.  Esther also said that she cannot participate in the call and that Carol Leff had volunteered to participate in her place.  


Other Issues:


Ward raised a concern that the State’s Attorney had banned Brian Dolinar (of the Public Eye) from a press conference.  Esther has contacted the Illinois Division regarding this. 


Esther noted that the ACLU has no policy regarding “beeping ballot boxes,” nor sample policies regarding security cameras.


Adjournment: 8:40pm