How Climate Change Affects Health; Civil Forfeiture; Rep. Shimkus Announces Retirement; Location-Tracking Apps

September 04, 2019
 

Public health agencies in Illinois are starting to incorporate climate change into what they do. Plus, what happens when police confiscate your property, even if you weren't ever charged with a crime. We'll also learn why Rep. John Shimkus is retiring after more than 20 years in Congress, and talk about whether location-sharing apps like Find My Friends can be creepy, useful, or both.

The Health Effects Of Climate Change

Countries need to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to stave off some of the worst effects of climate change.

But some of those effects are already here. Last year the national climate assessment found that the Midwest is particularly vulnerable to increased temperatures, and to disruptions in our farming economy.

Well, there’s another area that advocates and public agencies are paying attention to: public health. It turns out climate change puts us at greater risk for infectious diseases, breathing problems, and other illnesses.

Juanita Constible is a senior advocate for climate and health at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Elena Grossman is in Chicago, she’s the Program Director for BRACE-Illinois, that’s a program designed to help health agencies in Illinois prepare for the effects of climate change. And Bart Hagston is director of environmental health and emergency preparedness at the Jackson County Health Department.

Civil Forfeiture Persists, Though Some Reforms Have Been Passed

Imagine having your property taken by police without ever being charged with a crime. Then, having to wait months or years, possibly pay expensive fines, just to get that property back. The practice is known as civil asset forfeiture, and it took off as a tool used by law enforcement in the 1980s during the war on drugs.. Police departments can use the assets they seize to help finance their departments. 

But critics say innocent people are the ones who most often end up having their property seized by law enforcement.Illinois has made it harder for police to seize assets, but in the end, the burden is still on property owners to get their possessions back.

Pam Dempsey is executive director of the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. They’ve been reporting on civil asset forfeiture in Illinois and surrounding states as part of a national collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis reporting. Stephen Komie is an attorney who has been practicing for over 40 years and represents clients trying to get their property back. And ACLU Illinois Criminal Justice Policy Attorney Ben Ruddell has been advocating for civil asset forfeiture reform at the state level. 

Rep. Shimkus Announces Retirement

Out of the 18 Illinoisans serving in the US House of Representatives, there are currently just 5 Republicans - all representing areas outside of Chicago. 

And of those 5, Rep. John Shimkus has served the longest by far. He was first elected to the House in 1996. But last week, he announced that next year will be his last one in Congress. He’s now the 11th House Republican to say he’s not running for re-election.

This also means that the 15th district will be represented by someone new starting in 2021. We speak with Joe Bustos, who covers state politics for the Belleville News-Democrat.

Using Location-Sharing Apps

Nearly five years ago, Apple introduced a new app for the iPhone called “Find My Friends.” You can use it to track the location of other people with iPhones. Today, there are multiple versions of these location-sharing apps, whether it’s Life360 or a feature within Google Maps that lets you track your friends.

Yes, it sounds creepy. But some people who use it say there are real-life benefits to using these features. That was the subject of a recent column and video by Joanna Stern. She’s the personal technology columnist and executive editor of video for the Wall Street Journal.