Champaign County ACLU Steering Committee

Thursday, October 6, 2011

7:00 p.m.

In attendance: Bill Brown, Faruq Nelson, Steve Portnoy, Esther Patt, Marsha Woodbury, Shirley Stillinger, Diana Lenik, Stuart Laird, Bob Illyes, Carol Leff, Carol Inskeep

  1. Approval of minutes of September meeting

  2. Announcements & Communications

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

b)     IL Division conference call

Bill Brown reported on the monthly ACLU conference call.

Some of the recent legal issues raised were:

A.    Governor Quinn’s amendatory veto of House bill House Bill 1948  (which passed both houses unanimously). The bill required public report of annual inventories of the number of video surveillance cameras in use by state agencies and the privacy policies that accompany their use.  The amendatory veto—for security reasons-- excluded from inventory cameras not directly owned and operated by state agencies (even though in public use) and cameras in jails and prisons, courthouses and airports

B.     The Seattle case, co-argued by the ACLU, challenging the constitutionality of a congressional law that granted immunity to telecommunications companies who shared millions of phone records with the government on dubious  legal grounds.  Ed reported some pessimism about the success of this suit.

C.     Questions about monitoring home electricity use in cases of suspected illicit drug cultivation (grow lights).  The civil liberties issue is one of privacy rights.

D.    ACLU v. Alvarez, which challenges on appeal whether the Illinois Eavesdropping Act can apply to citizen  recording of  the official activity of  police officers in a public space. The case was heard in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Old Business

a)      UI Traffic Stops - update from meeting with Chief Barbara O’Connor—Bill Brown lunched with Chief O’Connor, who got back to the board on the issues discussed with her last winter, in particular the question of consent searches in conjunction with traffic stops, and the unusually high level conducted by the University police compared with other local forces.  She reported that one reason appears to be the tendency of the police to ask for consent when they had probable cause.   There is now mandatory training by state police on these issues.

Additionally, she commented on the need for funding to conduct video review of traffic stops; she also reported that there are 600 surveillance cameras on campus, and offered us a tour of the camera monitoring center.

b)      IDOT Traffic Stop data analysis  – Bill Brown gave a Geography 412 class presentation, and it appears that some students were interested in using the data for analysis in a class project.

c)       Safe Schools Alliance (eCISSA) is contacting area schools about training in hope that maybe it will be inserted into the program by next year.  Students are also working on the curriculum.

d)      Champaign police chief search

New Business

a)      Fall newsletter – need articles by this weekend!  The folding and sealing will be at Shirley Stillinger’s on Thursday.

b)      Karen Sheley event (Catholic Charities case)

  1. 6:00PM (time uncertain) Wednesday Oct 19th at Urbana Free Library, with a prior noon talk at the Law School—we discussed taking her for a meal but no clear plan was possible until the timing was confirmed.
  2. Uniting Pride Center also promoting
  3. Publicity—Carol Inskeep will do something about publicity for this event as soon as the talk has a title and time is clear—a press release/contact with News Gazette.

c)       Fall Gathering

  1. 5:00-7:00 Nov 13th at the home of Jerry Wray & Dirk Mol, 1002 Mayfair. We discussed using an e-vite for this function, in the course of which Stuart Laird suggested that we get an organizational Facebook page (something that the law school chapter already has).
  2. Still $20 ?  We voted to raise the donation for the annual gathering to $25, with a discount for students.
  3. Giveaways, door prizes?  We agreed to award modest door ACLU-related door prizes at the fall gathering. Carol Spindel has 2 books, and we have a store of items that also might be appropriate.
  1. Adjournment at 8:05!!!

Next meeting: November 3rd

Fall Gathering November 13th