Champaign County ACLU Steering Committee

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Room 3405 Siebel Building


Meeting was called to order at 7:05 PM

Present were Bill Brown, president, Marsha Woodbury, Carol Inskeep, Carol Leff, Diana Lenik, Paul Debevec, Steve Portnoy, Shirley Stillinger, Stuart Laird, Barbara Kessel, and Richard Schnuer.


  1. Approval of minutes of November meeting with the correction of a typo.


  1. Year-end treasurer‚s reportųTreasurer Steve Portnoy noted that the receipts for the fall gathering were somewhat larger than usual, even after the wine bill which had not yet been received. There was a discussion of whether to consolidate the Busey savings and checking accounts, given that interest rates are so low (contingent on the availability of a free checking account without limitations, which may be possible).


  1. Announcements & Communications

a)      ACLU-IL conference call Nov 15.  Bill Brown reported on the November conference call.

Matters under discussion in that call included:

1.      the pending Illinois civil union bill (subsequently passed by both houses) and the death penalty bill (not yet drafted in final form).  It was noted that the death penalty reform bill is less pressing given the re-election of Governor Pat Quinn, who is expected to continue the moratorium on executions.

2.      The issue of invasive airport searches, on which ACLU stance appears to be to support individual choice on what response citizens should make.

3.      The federal Fusion Centers, whose data-sharing practices (including both public and private data) are now subject to an ACLU FOIA lawsuit to determine what kind of information is being shared, and with whom.  The law suit follows a year in which the government failed to respond to FOIA requests. The Fusion Centers initially based their mission on counter-terrorism investigations, but the investigatory focus has now broadened.

4.      The Illinois case securing rights of mental patients to seek community-based housing as an alternative to hospitalization.

5.      Issues raised by videotaping of police interactions with civilians.

Bill Brown said he planned to follow up on the question of searches of peace activists in Minneapolis and Chicago on the official grounds of material support for terrorism.


b)      Victor Stone memorial?

The death of Victor Stone raised the issue of commemorating him.  In the short run, a contribution of $50 was voted by the steering committee to his preferred cause, the Illinois ACLU.  Committee members undertook to circulate any information they can find out about the time and place of his memorial service, which was announced as slated to be held later. Bill Brown will contact Hiram Paley to find out if he knows the plans.


  1. Old Business

a)      Update on racial profiling/traffic stops data

Bill and Barbara met in mid-November with Durl Kruse of CU Citizens for Peace and Justice,  and the Independent Media Center, which has recently posted a factual report on the traffic stops issue

Durl wants to encourage the Urbana Human Relations Commission to hold public meetings on the racial profiling issue in traffic stops.  Progress toward examination of the traffic stop issue seems stalled, and the Urbana Police chief seems to want the City Council to push them before they devote time to examine the issue; therefore some public pressure is needed. The next Urbana Human Relations Commission public session is 5:30-6:30  Dec 8, and a volunteer was requested to attend the meeting and raise our concerns.


Barbara Kessel also brought the results of the first FOIA requests on consent searches in Urbana (this was the first increment of data--further data has also been FOIAed).  The detailed information will make possible far more specific understandings of when, by whom, and against whom, consent searches are initiated. Diana Lenik commented that some of the names of consent search targets were familiar to her from the courts, suggesting that the police are acting in some cases to request searches for drivers already „known to the police.š

b)      Update on „Interacting with Policeš pamphletųBill Brown will send a letter to the Human Relations commission in Champaign commenting on their citizen interaction with police pamphlet

c)       Update on Help Desk at the courthouse

There are efforts under way to patch together funding to get the help desk project running again. We discussed the value of encouraging an appropriate organization to take the lead on this issue (not so much to provide the money but to orchestrate on ongoing support effort and direction).  Diana Lenik emphasized the importance of such assistance for pro se filers at a time when bad economic times mean that many people can‚t afford an attorney for basic legal issues like custody and family support questions.  She said she would talk with some relevant people in the local bar association.


  1. New Business

a)      Nominations and awards committees

A nominations committee for the next steering committee (2011-2012)  includes Carol Leff and Carol Inskeep. Esther Patt will be asked to join this committee. The awards committee is comprised of Shirley Stillinger, Richard Schnuer, Steve Portnoy and Stuart Laird. 


b)      Speaker & date for annual meeting

Paul Debevec suggested that we explore the possibility of inviting one of the defeated Iowa judges to speak at the spring annual meeting, a suggestion that was enthusiastically received and will be followed up. We raised again the question of whether a high profile speaker of this kind might require a different, larger, venue, or (as was discussed last month) whether there might be a public event as well as the smaller annual meeting event.


  1. Adjournment at 8:09!



Future meetings:

February 3, 2011

March 3, 2011