The Public Square

WILL - The Public Square - March 20, 2009

Nick Gainer on Single-Payer Health Coverage Lobby Day

Hello, my name is Nick Gainer. I'm a member of Champaign County Health Care Consumers. Tuesday, March 24th is a single-payer health coverage lobby day in Springfield. We invite you to join our downstate delegation traveling to the capitol to support House Bill 311 - the "Health Care for All Illinois Act". Participants can attend a press conference, provide testimony to the House Health Committee hearing, and attend a reception at the governor's mansion with Governor Quinn.

Thousands of people are losing their jobs and health insurance everyday, suffer from medical problems and can't afford the treatment, or are overwhelmed by medical debt and forced into bankruptcy. For too long, private insurance companies have decided who can receive healthcare, and now we find ourselves in the middle of a healthcare access crisis. While the private insurance lobbyists in Washington drown out the voices of the majority of the public who are demanding a state-sponsored health insurance, Illinois has the opportunity to listen to its people and support healthcare reform for everyone.

Similar to Medicare, HB 311 would create a single-payer healthcare system that would ensure no Illinois resident would go uninsured. The coverage would include doctor, hospital, long-term, mental health, dental and vision care, prescription drugs and medical supplies. There would be no more premiums, co-payments or deductibles - practices created by private insurance companies which inhibit access to care and unfairly burden low-income people. Under a single-payer system, the government pays for healthcare delivered in the private sector. Doctors remain in private practice and the government does not own or manage medical practices or hospitals. The program would pay for itself by eliminating wasteful private insurance profits and administration, such as paperwork and billing, which currently account for 24% of every healthcare dollar.

Join us in Springfield on March 24th! Go to www.heathcareconsumers.org for more information on how to take action and to RSVP. That's www.healthcareconsumers.org. Transportation will be provided.

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WILL - The Public Square - March 13, 2009

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing on the Recession’s Effect on Urbana

Hi, I'm Laurel Prussing, Mayor of Urbana.

Every day we hear about the economic crisis our nation and our world is going through. Millions of jobs have been lost. Businesses are going under and many governments are going into huge debt.

How is the world-wide recession affecting Urbana? On the down side we have had some major projects delayed and we have some struggling businesses, like everywhere else. On the plus side, eight new businesses opened in January and February this year, despite the recession, a testament to the economic vitality of Urbana-even in hard times.

We have a wealth of fine local restaurants in Urbana. If you haven't been to breakfast, lunch, or dinner here lately, you are in for some real treats.

A remarkable 96 businesses have opened or expanded in Urbana during the past four years. The significant growth in retail stores and restaurants has brought in enough sales tax to cushion the city budget through this economic downturn.

Urbana will be able to continue providing the same level of services without raising taxes.

The Urbana city budget is lean, but not mean. Lean, in that we pay our bills on time and we have no debt. Not mean-Urbana is the biggest local government contributor to social service agencies. We recognize their contribution to struggling families and to the quality of life for all of us.

Champaign County did not suffer the housing market speculation that led to a sudden drop in home values in many parts of the United States. We are fortunate that our local economy, while certainly not recession-proof, does better than most.

In addition, we are being helped by the federal stimulus money, including $2 million dollars for Windsor Road improvements east to High Cross Road. This will free up local money for other badly-needed maintenance for both the city of Urbana and the county.

Many people do not realize the high degree of cooperation that exists between local governments in Champaign County. Representatives of Urbana, Champaign, Champaign County, Savoy, the University of Illinois and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District were able to work out an equitable plan to divide the federal money.

Millions of federal dollars will be spent here to increase energy efficiency and lower utility bills. Urbana is committed to sustainable use of energy and water. Green jobs will be created in the process.

Considering all the factors at work, Urbana will be able to continue to provide excellent public services, despite the recession, and without resorting to a tax increase. When the economy eventually turns around, we will be poised to move forward.

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WILL - The Public Square - March 06, 2009

Rob McColley, Independent Candidate for Mayor of Urbana, on penalizing landlords for tenant behavior

Hi. This is Rob McColley, the independent candidate for mayor of Urbana.

The last few months of Urbana City Council meetings were enlivened by weekly protests from citizens, representing all points of the political spectrum, voicing outrage over Urbana's so-called "criminal nuisance" ordinance.

This is the law which would penalize landlords for the behavior of their tenants.

My cynical response is that the outraged citizens shouldn't worry. Urbana does not enforce its nuisance laws anyway.

In 1972 the U.S. Congress established the Office of Noise Abatement and Control, or ONAC. But in 1981, the Reagan Administration defunded ONAC -- giving the responsibility back to the states, and cities like Urbana.

Non-auditory effects of noise exposure include elevated blood pressure, loss of sleep, increased heart rate, cardiovascular constriction, labored breathing, and changes in brain chemistry. According to the World Health Organization's Guidelines for Community Noise, “these health effects, in turn, can lead to social handicap, reduced productivity, decreased performance in learning, absenteeism in the workplace and school, increased drug use, and accidents.”

Study after study has shown that children who live in neighborhoods with chronic noise nuisance perform worse in school. As usual, the victims tend to be from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and minorities.

Right now, the Urbana police will shut down a kegger if it's keeping you awake. But there's no city officer responsible for quieting chronic noise nuisance -- whether it's barking dogs or modified exahust systems on cars, and motorcycles.

It's not really a police matter anyway. It's a community development issue.

If you seek quiet enjoyment of your home, Urbana expects YOU to do the work. YOU have to stand up in court and face your neighborhood bully. Even if you have three children to watch over, even if you are confined to a wheelchair, even if you are 80 years of age and not as nimble as you once were.

Some cities have an Ombudsman -- a public advocate. Other towns have "Livability Court." In either case, it's not the victim who's expected to enforce the ordinance. It's the professional. Urbana can have that, too.

Government taxes citizens. In return, it provides services. One of these services is upholding and enforcing the law.

Government usually does not ask the people to police, and prosecute law breakers. But that's how Urbana handles nuisance issues.

It's a bad idea. It's a dangerous idea.

Would you care to know how many innocent victims have been assaulted, or KILLED, because they confronted bothersome neighbors?

The judges who adjudicate disputes between neighbors will tell you "when it's neighbor versus neighbor, it's never over."

That's why I decided to run for Mayor of Urbana. Urbana is a lovely place to live, raise children, and grow old. I'd like to make sure that it's lovely for everybody.

For more information on this, and other issues, please visit robmccolley.com

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