Zerlina Smith Becomes First Black Woman Chair of Any Illinois Party
On Saturday, March 25th, the membership of the Illinois Green Party at their statewide Membership Meeting elected Zerlina Smith as party Chair. Ms. Smith will be the first Black woman to lead the Illinois Green Party, and the first Black chairperson of any established political party in the state of Illinois.
"This is the face of the Green Party right now," said Ms. Smith, immediately following her election. "This is a vibrant, diverse, and growing party, with people from all walks of life and all colors of skin."
A longtime resident of Chicago's Austin neighborhood, Ms. Smith's extensive activist résumé includes service as a school board member, the founding of neighborhood non-profit Increase the Harvest, and a run for Alderman in the 29th Ward in 2015. Ms. Smith served as the Illinois State Coordinator for the Stein/Baraka 2016 Presidential campaign.Read more
A new, portable design for solar-powered water pumps is enabling emissions-free farming in developing countries.
2-19-17: Illinois General Assembly House Bill HB 762 calls for changes to the threshold at which a political party must poll to be considered an established political party, rather than a "new" political party, from 5% of the entire vote cast in the State in the general election for State and county officers to 2%. The bill includes the President of the United States in the definition of "state office" or "state officer". The bill lowers the minimum signature requirements for statewide office from 25,000 to 10,000 and for other offices within the state from 5% to 2% of votes cast in the district in the last regular election.
The Illinois Green Party Coordinating Committee endorses HB 762 with the following amendment:
The minimum signature requirements for offices within the state shall be 0.5% of votes cast in the district in the last regular election.
2-19-17: The Illinois Green Party Coordinating Committee endorses Illinois General Assembly Senate Bill SB 63 which calls for petition signature requirements for "new" parties and independent candidates to be the same as for established party candidates, with the following amendment.
The text of the bill on Page 5, Line 26 thru Page 6, Line 4 that reads as follows:
must be signed by qualified voters of the district equaling in number not less than 5% of the number of voters who voted at the next preceding regular election in such district at which an officer was elected to serve the district.
should be replaced with:
shall have the same minimum and maximum signature requirements as those stated in Section 7-10 for established political parties to place a candidate on the ballot for that office.
2-19-17: The Illinois Green Party Coordinating Committee endorses Illinois General Assembly Senate Bill SB 2 which calls for increasing the minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.00 beginning July 1, 2017 and increases it by $0.50 each July 1 until July 1, 2021, at which point the minimum wage will be $11.00, with the following amendments:
- SB 2 shall not be tied to the enactment of SB 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13, the other so-called "grand bargain" bills.
- SB 2 shall remedy the current age discrimination allowed under Illinois law (by removing section (3) of 820 ILCS 105/4)(from Ch. 48, par. 1004) that allows employers to pay their workers under the age of 18 fifty cents less than the minimum wage.
- The minimum wage shall be adjusted every year starting July 1, 2022 based on the year-to-date increase or decrease in the Illinois consumer price index.
If there's one thing 2016 proved beyond a doubt, it's that support for the Green Party and our Ten Key Values exists at every level, and in every community, across our state.
Our task in 2017 is to harness that support, and to offer individuals strong, local, grassroots organizations that fight for Green Party values. To that end, the Illinois Green Party will be establishing local chapters in every county in Illinois this coming year -- and we'd love to have you involved.
Illinois Green Party member Rob Sherman, 63, of Poplar Grove, died in a tragic plane crash on Friday, December 9th. A small aircraft enthusiast, Sherman was piloting his home-built single-engine aircraft en route to an event in Schaumburg when it went down. The Illinois Green Party extends its condolences and sympathy to his family.
Sherman was nationally known as a proponent of atheism and ardent defender of the First Amendment wall of separation between church and state. He first achieved prominence in 1986 by suing the city of Zion to remove a cross from its municipal seal. He was once arrested for demonstrating when the Calumet Expressway was rechristened the Bishop Ford Freeway. In the late 1980s, on behalf of his son, he challenged an Illinois law requiring the recitation of the pledge of allegiance, and its expression, "one nation under God," in public schools. In 2007, on behalf of his daughter Dawn, he challenged another Illinois law mandating a "moment of silence" in public schools. He filed a number of other legal actions that exposed and challenged state appropriations and laws that promoted religion. He appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and his efforts frequently received national attention.
Sherman joined the Illinois Green Party in 2007, and he ran for Congress in the 5th Congressional District as a Green in 2016, winning 4.6 percent of the vote. His staunch defense of civil liberties was compatible with the party’s views and were welcome within the party. To be candid, his views on other subjects were not always as well received and were the source of occasional controversy. However, it is fair to say that most party members recognized him as a resolute and relentless advocate of his point of view, and many appreciated his knowledgeable understanding of the sometimes arcane legislative process in Springfield. He also deserves credit for exposing, and calling some attention to, Governor Bruce Rauner’s flagrant violations of the Gender Balanced Appointments Act, which requires that appointments to boards, commissions, committees and councils of the State "shall be gender balanced to the extent possible."
At a time when some political forces in America continue to try to define the United States as a "Christian" nation, and seek to use government resources to promote or impose their religious beliefs on others, we would do well to remember Rob Sherman’s example as a fierce defender of the First Amendment’s protections against the state establishment of religion.
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A letter to Illinois public officials in support of sustainable, affordable community-based renewable energy and energy efficiency; and opposing a nuclear power bailout and rate hike.
November 27, 2016
To Our Elected Officials:
An energy transformation is currently taking place not just here in Illinois, or in the U.S., but worldwide. This transformation is coupling the best of modern technological innovation and entrepreneurial innovation with increased community control and democratization.
Since the Fall of 2013, dire utility predictions and several competing pieces of energy legislation have been put before you for consideration. The majority of these, coming from existing utilities, promote policies and advocate plans that ignore the worldwide energy transformation taking place, and would mire Illinois in methods, technologies and systems of the past. Worse still, a bailout of uncompetitive nuclear plants that rewards the anachronistic systems of the past would inhibit the vital and necessary growth of truly renewable sources of energy at a time when both the environment and the Illinois economy desperately require their expansion.
You cannot allow this to happen. Mortgaging our energy and economic future to preserve the past and a relatively small number of jobs with an uncertain future is inevitably self-defeating public policy, particularly when available alternatives result in benefits being allocated statewide.
We, the undersigned Illinois organizations and governmental entities strongly urge you to take the following actions:
- First and foremost, and independent of all other energy policy considerations, fix the Illinois Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, at least to the level prescribed in the Clean Jobs Bill: 35% renewable energy by 2030, and 20% increase in efficiency by 2020.
- Do not bailout or in any other way subsidize uncompetitive nuclear reactors. Other options which have not been fully explored exist for Exelon if they wish to preserve their corporate assets. Do not define nuclear as either “clean,” nor “renewable” energy.
- Ensure that there are no subsidies for coal-to-gas conversion or incineration.
- Preserve solar net-metering.
- Oppose a legislatively mandated demand charge. Rate design should only happen through an evidence-based, transparent process involving all stakeholders through the ICC.
- Ensure environmental and economic justice, particularly for low income communities, indigenous populations, rural communities and communities of color by:
- Investing in clean renewable energy and energy efficiency, prioritizing community-based where practicable.
- Prohibiting monopolistic utility control of community solar.
- Expanding resources, energy-related job creation and programs for low-income communities, communities of color and communities with the highest burden of pollution to make up for the higher pollution burden and historic disinvestment.
We pledge our resources and efforts to work with you to make these proposals reality. Thank you for your consideration and your efforts to create a forward-thinking energy future for Illinois.
Demand Charges Will Raise Rates and Make Bills Harder To Predict
- Demand charges allow utilities to set rate they charge consumers for energy on the 15-30 minute “peak use” period when each consumer uses the most power in a given month. This means that bills will be determined on the 15 minute interval you use the most energy, not how much energy you use overall.
- Because they are based on the highest rate, demand charges will raise rates and bills for almost everyone. At the same time, it will strip consumers of the ability to lower their bills by using less power. Individual home demand is exceedingly difficult for most consumers to track, given that it varies day to day and is only 15-30 minutes long. It will be almost impossible for most consumers to track their peak usage and change their behaviour to be more energy efficient or lower their rates.
Demand Charges Are Unfair and Unjust
- With demand charges, bills will, on average, be higher. Low-income people already pay an inordinate proportion of their income to the power company. Demand charges would reinforce and worsen this situation.
- At the same time, low-income folks and people on fixed income can least stomach the sudden month to month rate hikes that individualized, changing demand charges would introduce.
- Many low-income Illinois residents have to work two or three jobs and only have a couple hours each week to get all their chores done. Under demand charges, the working poor, who would have higher peak uses, and pay higher rates than those who use more, but have the luxury to spread their use out over time.
Demand Charges Would Kill Solar in Illinois
- Currently solar is economical because ratepayers who put up solar panels can recoup the costs of installation through reduced energy bills (since your overall usage is lower, you get charged less) over time.
- Under demand charges, the rate you pay will still be based on that 15-30 minute window of peak use, not your overall usage. So putting up solar panels, even selling back to the grid, will not reduce your bill as much. Furthermore, the fact that demand charges mean bills are different month to month means solar panel consumers can’t rely on consistent pay back from the grid.
- Illinois needs to be expanding both the amount of solar energy we generate and increasing the amount of people who can access it, not adopting rate structures that undermine a core part of the clean energy revolution.
Demand Charges are Un-Democratic
- Demand charges eliminate the General Assembly’s and Illinois voters’ ability to regulate rate changes in a democratically accountable way and replaces the rate structure with an arbitrary and opaque rate structure that would allow big utility interests to raise rates with impunity.
- Demand charges hurt poor people, sabotage the development of solar energy in Illinois and hands over control of yet another facet of everyday life to profit-driven corporations. They must be opposed.