Champaign County ACLU Steering Committee

Thursday, October 4, 2012

7:00 p.m.


 Present:  Bill Brown, president, Diana Lenik, Carol Spindel, Steve Portnoy, Bob Illyes, Mort Brussel, Shirley Stillinger, Esther Patt, Mark Leff, Carol Inskeep, Carol Leff, Marsha Woodbury, Victor Pereyra Law School representative



1.   Approval of minutes of September meeting.


2.   Announcements & Communications

a)    Report on the Sept 21st  Alternatives to Incarceration forum—Diana Lenik noted the substantial crowd for a Friday night, some 60-80 people. She spoke on the role of legal process and where it can be arbitrary—not only on a racial basis but on police response to the citizen’s attitude.  Mark Leff, who also attended the forum, mentioned as striking the strong and repeatedly expressed perception of the speakers from the black community of a lack of local government concern with their problems.

b)    UI police crime stats report are available on the Public Safety website.

c)    There was discussion of a letter to the chapter on an employment issue.  The inquiry came from a hospital employee who asked whether the medical facility could require all staff to do emergency training. We didn’t see a civil liberties issue here, and noted also that the question was hypothetical—the employee in question had not been disciplined for refusal to undergo such training.

d)    Law School Chapter report—Victor reported on a range of activity with a primary focus on voter registration of students and minorities (Black, Asian, Latino/Hispanic). The chapter plans monitoring at student precincts, but also in Iowa to observe the application of Iowa’s voter laws on behalf of the Obama campaign.  More broadly, there is training for observation of the application of voter ID restrictions in a number of states.

The law school chapter’s attempt to invite active candidates to campus had to be abandoned because of the complexity of the regulations and requirements surrounding such an event.

e)    Immigration forum update

--October is Immigration Justice month, with a series of community activities planned. 

   --The legislative campaign to allow state  Drivers’ licenses to be issued without a social security number is slated for the Illinois fall veto session.

--Immigration Forum has been holding public information and assistance forums for those applying for the Obama administration’s new DACA program for those under 30 brought to this country as children without documentation.

f)     Oct 18th “Freedom to Read” at Urbana Free Library (also a LWV debate that date)—Carol Inskeep circulated some flyers on the panel that was slated to discuss the Arizona law that eventuated in the abolition of the ethnic/Mexican studies program in the Tucson school district and the confiscation of the textbooks used in that program.


3.   Old Business

a)    Student voting.  We discussed a series of historical concerns about student voting.  

--Early voting (on campus Illini Union 317) should be encouraged because it allows time to compensate for any problems in being allowed to vote. Steve Portnoy, himself an election judge, noted that voters challenged for not having proof of address can file an affidavit attesting to their address.

--Students should be particularly alerted that any change of address since registration must bpe filed by the registration deadline as well.

b) Jaywalking” arrest statistics.  Attention was directed to the web article from Atlantic Cities on the racial profile of the Champaign-Urbana jaywalking statistics (“Why Are Champaign-Urbana's Jaywalking Arrests Almost All Black

4.   New Business

a)    ACLU: Engage, in Chicago, 610 S. Michigan, December 1.  Some discussion of optimal transportation strategies!

Registration at

b)    We approved the request to cosponsor José Antonio Vargas in his talk at the University YMCA on the problems of living as an undocumented immigrant.

c)    Fall Gathering—Sunday November 11 at the home of Carol Spindel and Tom Bassett--planning at next meeting.

d)    Newsletter/postcard.  Articles should go to Bill by October 20th.

e)    Social Hour at Big Grove Tavern is planned for Oct 17th, 5:30 PM


5.   Adjournment at 8:17.

Next meetings:

Nov 1st
Dec 6th


Dec 1st  – ACLU: ENGAGE