Tuesday, August 18, 2009
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Chamber leader invites community to Wednesday's town hall

Over 100 local prison jobs set to be axed

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[August 18, 2009]  Andi Hake, the executive director of the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce, explained why the organization has planned a town hall meeting for Wednesday evening.

The town hall event is to show support for the 117 prison employees who are facing an imminent layoff as of Sept. 30. The layoffs are part of a series of draconian budget cuts by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to try to relieve billions of dollars in debt and obligations that the state currently cannot repay.

"One of the goals approved in our three-year plan (by the board of directors) is to take a leadership role on local issues, and this is a huge issue in our community," Hake said.

The meeting will be at the Knights of Columbus at 217 Limit St. in Lincoln and will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Hake will make opening remarks, which will then be followed by brief remarks regarding the layoffs from approximately a dozen local and statewide officials. Hake said on Tuesday that the chamber is still waiting to hear back from several officials as to their availability. She did say that among those who have confirmed their participation are Mike Geriets, deputy police chief; Joel Smiley, economic development director; Terry Carlton, Logan County Board chairman; Michael McIntosh, Logan County state's attorney; and Keith Snyder, Lincoln mayor; as well as others.

After remarks from the speakers, Hake says questions submitted by those in attendance and submitted on cards will be asked of specific officials or the group at large, depending on whom the questioner was directing their inquiry to.

In the chamber's Monday morning memo, Hake disseminated a personal letter to Gov. Pat Quinn for chamber members to use to ask the governor to stop the layoffs. One section in that letter addressed to Quinn stated: "The layoffs you are planning to make will further undermine our local economy and fray the social fabric. In addition, they will deprive our community of important services on which citizens rely." In another paragraph, the letter states, "Our community needs more jobs, not less. I would hope that at such a critical time, we could look to our governor for assistance and support, not actions that would further weaken our economic vitality."

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Also attached to the memo were the phone numbers and addresses of statewide officials (supplied below) that Hake asked chamber members to contact in support of the prison employees.

The memo included a fact sheet from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees stating the union's endorsement of an increase in the state income tax to clean up the debt-ridden state's balances and to save jobs throughout the state.

Hake wanted it understood that the chamber doesn't consider this a union issue. "This is a jobs issue," she said. "It is a Lincoln-Logan County issue. These layoffs will have an adverse effect on not only our community, but the entire state as well."

Hake hopes that, with the potential loss of $6 million to $7 million in local wages, citizens will see this issue is "extremely" important to the community and will attend the meeting on Wednesday evening.


Contact information for state officials:

  • Rep. Rich Brauer, 1128 E. Stratton Office Building, Springfield, IL 62706

  • Sen. Bill Brady, 2203 Eastland Drive, Suite 3 Bloomington, IL 61704

  • Rep. Raymond Poe, E-1 Stratton Office Building, Springfield, IL 62706

  • Gov. Pat Quinn, Office of the Governor, 207 State House, Springfield, IL 62706

  • Sen. Larry Bomke, 307 Capitol Building, Springfield, IL 62706

  • Rep. Bill Mitchell, 240 W. Stratton Office Building, Springfield, IL 62706

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