Champaign County ACLU Steering Committee

Thursday, May 3, 2012

7:00 p.m.

Room 3405 Siebel Center


Those Present: Bill Brown, Stuart Laird, Mark Leff, Bob Ilyes, Barbara Kessel, Carol Leff, Esther Patt, Carol Inskeep, Marsha Woodbury, Diana Lenik, Mort Brussel



  1. Introductions.  Mark Leff was introduced as a new steering committee member.
  2. Minutes of the April meeting were approved
  3. Treasurer’s report: A balance of $3076.65 The revenue and expenses from the annual meeting were almost precisely equal, as it should be.
  4. Announcements & Communications

a)      Law School Chapter & Student Chapter reports--none

b)     Immigration forum update

Key Issues

The last meeting of the Immigration Forum was April 10.  That Friday a follow-up meeting with the Sheriff’s office on immigration holds policy was scheduled. The Immigration plans a public forum in May at which the policy change will be announced. It was mentioned in our discussion that there is a private prison outside Chicago for immigration holds.

Two initiatives that the Forum is considering have broad policy implications

  1. A campaign to gather organizational support for an Illinois driver’s license for immigrants without social security numbers.  The practical case centers around cost savings to the state from the expected resultant increase in insured drivers.  From the rights perspective, among the benefits is of course that immigrants charged with traffic offenses will not be jailed for driving without a license and thus will not be as vulnerable to immigration proceedings

In the discussion, Diana Lenik noted that such a program might cut down on the number of fake drivers’ licenses. 

  1. A second initiative, which would involve fund-raising to defray part of the cost, is to participate in a national program to increase new citizen voter registration by recruiting paid interns to engage in sustained registration drives in the run-up to the next national elections.

Also noteworthy.  The campus student group La Colectiva-UIUC is raising funds for scholarship assistance to undocumented students.  A fundraiser was held April 18, but donations can also be made through Paypal

Their website link:

The Next meeting is May 15.

c)       RBF donations sent by chapter for Hiram Paley (total $430, 8 people/couples)

d)      Intake referrals-Bill Brown illustrated the type of referrals we handle with the following (three occurred in the past month):

1.       Regarded a Danville correctional employee who was disciplined for calling  the warden “spineless” on Facebook.  We can’t intervene because there is a union grievance process for this case.

2.       A Douglas County case that was too vague for action

  1. Old Business

a)      Membership recruitment meeting at I-Hotel April 14 (Bill, Carol I, Carol S, Esther, Bob)

Those who attended summarized some of the key themes and issues, including ----the question of an aging membership and the different forms of engagement besides membership more appropriate to younger demographics—outreach to those younger groups that share ACLU values but don’t join organizations (free membership? More events?  Encouragement of contact with officials on issues of concern.  

--under the rubric “the courts are not our friends,” a shift in focus to the legislative front and mobilization around legislative action of civil liberties relevance

--the new umbrella theme “targets of intolerance” to cover the breadth of the ACLU agenda

b)      Market at the square dates (Carol S)

The dates decided are

June 30

Aug. 18

Aug. 25


We discussed activities for the booth, such as quizzes and surveys on rights issues.

Including those who can name all the freedoms in the first amendment.


c)       Website redesign update proceeding satisfactorily.  We approved a payment to the web designer.

d)      July 4th parade—we will sign up to participate this year.


  1. New Business

a)      County jail (Barbara)

The County Board has appointed a task force (below) to provide public input into the decision about county jail expansion


Community Justice Task Force dealing with the Jail Issue, and broader criminal justice issues

Tasked with making suggestions to the County Board

Michael Richards, Chair
Scott Bennett
Lynn Branham
Mark Driscoll
Sheila Ferguson
James Kilgore
Julian Rappaport
Benita Rollins-Gay
William Sullivan

There was extended discussion of the proposed jail construction, based on Barbara Kessel’s report and the attached fact sheet. It is clear that current conditions (the amount of mental and physical illness, the climate control in the facilities, etc) are substandard, but not that further construction/expansion is the appropriate financial or policy strategy. 


b)      Goal for coming year – fall event(s), committee needed.  Because of the time, this item was postponed until the June meeting.


  1. Adjournment 8:35

Next meeting: 
June 7th – 4405 Siebel


Save the date:

Nov 17th – ACLU: ENGAGE