New faces at the Illinois Commerce Commission
The cries of partisan cronyism that dogged the Illinois Commerce Commission (IICC) in 1989 (see "Commerce commission appointees in Senate limbo," December 1989, p. 12) continue in 1990. Gov. James R. Thompson in mid-February replaced resigning Democrat Raymond Romero with his former deputy governor, Jerry D. Blakemore. If Blakemore, a Republican, is confirmed by the Senate, the governor's political party will gain a 4-2 edge over Democrats on the commission (Shishido-Topel is an independent.). While Thompson is within state law, commission membership has traditionally been split 4-3 in favor of the party occupying the Executive Mansion.
Blakemore comes to the IICC post from General Railroad Equipment and Services Inc. of East St. Louis, where he had been general counsel since February 1989. Prior to that he served almost two years as director of the U.S. Department of Labor's federal contract compliance office. Blakemore joined the Thompson administration in 1980, serving in several positions until being appointed deputy governor in 1985. He also served briefly as the governor's counselor and director of intergovernmental relations. If confirmed for the IICC post, Blakemore will complete Romero's term which expires in January 1991. He will be paid $61,530 annually.
Romero, whose resignation was effective February 28, joined the Chicago law firm of George Munoz and Associates.
The commission also has a new executive director. Steven E. Wermcrantz was appointed to the post by Terry Barnich, IICC chairman, effective February 1. Wermcrantz had been chief counsel for the Illinois Department of Transportation since 1987. From 1977-86 he practiced law in Kansas City, Mo., and prior to that he served eight years in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the U.S. Navy. The Rockford native succeeds N. Richard King who left the commission to start his own business.
Keeping track of medical waste
During the summer of 1988, 10 miles of Long Island's beaches were closed after needles, vials of blood and other hospital wastes washed up on the shoreline. Similar instances were reported along some of the Great Lakes' shores. In response, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a two-year pilot program for tracking such medical wastes in 10 East Coast and Great Lakes states. In April 1989 Gov. James R. Thompson refused to allow Illinois to participate in the program, citing duplication of effort and the lack of enough federal money to cover the cost of the program.
This is not to say, however, that the governor is unconcerned about medical wastes and where they end up. In late December Thompson appointed a 25-member Medical Waste Tracking Study Group that will examine the state's medical waste law (which hasn't been revised since its passage in 1981) and recommend possible changes. Chaired by Bernard Killian, director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and Bernard Turnock, director of the Department of Public Health, the group includes representatives from the medical community, the disposal industry, consumer groups, state agencies and the General Assembly.
The group's first meeting was January 29. It discussed priorities, updating the state's legal definition of infectious medical waste and determining which wastes need to be regulated.
Another group that will be looking at the infectious waste issue and the state's existing regulations has been set up by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the Department of Public Health. The 16-member group is chaired by Bill Child, manager of IEPA's land pollution control division.
Thompson frees Claiborne
An alarming number of women across the country are victims of domestic violence. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., there are approximately 5 million battered women in the United States 253,000 of them are in Illinois.
One of Illinois' battered women, Evelyn Ruth Claiborne, retaliated against her abusive husband 13 years ago by hiring a man to kill him. Last December, Gov. Thompson granted Claiborne executive clemency, commuting her sentence to time served for charges connected to the murder of her husband in 1977.
Claiborne pled guilty to counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder, was convicted and sentenced to 14 to 50 years in prison. She served almost 12 years. Said Thompson, "Evelyn Claiborne is one of a number of women who, after suffering at the hands of an abusive spouse, turned to violence .... I believe justice would not be served by continuing her incarceration."
In 1982 the General Assembly allowed courts to consider spousal abuse during sentencing. At the time of her release, Claiborne was the only Illinois inmate still serving time for slaying an abusive husband under the old sentencing rules. Two other women imprisoned on similar charges Gladys Gonzalez and Leslie Brown were released by Thompson in December 1988.
Last year, the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) served over 29,000 clients and their children. Half of these victim reported that they were abused weekly; one-quarter reported that they were abused monthly. Through a network of local community organizations, ICADV provides help to clients through crisis hotlines, temporary shelter, counseling, legal referrals and emergency medical care. For more information regarding domestic violence or about local organizations that assist its victims, contact ICADV at 217-789-2830.
Bray follows Fields; Bosch follows Bray
Jim Bray is Gov. Thompson's new press secretary, succeeding David L. Fields who resigned February 28. Taking Bray's spot as assistant press secretary and chief speech writer is Beth Bosch, public information officer for the Illinois Commerce Commission since March 1985. Both appointments were effective March 1.
Bray has been the governor's chief speechwriter and assistant press secretary since 1985. He joined the Thompson administration after a decade in the newspaper business, starting as a staff writer for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette (1975-77). Moving to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat in 1977, he ran the paper's East St. Louis bureau until 1980 when he joined Paddock Publications as its bureau chief in Springfield. In 1984 he returned to the Globe-Democrat as its Springfield bureau chief. Bray's annual salary is $71,844.
Bosch also has a newspaper background, spending eight years (1973-81) as a staff writer for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette before joining state government in 1981 as a public affairs editorial assistant for the State Board of Education. From 1982-83 she was a press assistant to Democratic members of the House of Representatives and from 1983-85 she served as a press aide in the Office of the Attorney General.
Fields, Thompson's second press secretary during his tenure, had held the position for nearly nine years. A 1987 lottery winner, Fields left to pursue personal interests.
Cook County group explores court for seniors
"It is well known that there are many domestic abuses of the elderly financial exploitation, physical and psychological abuse, willful serious neglect or deprivation and others," according to Cook County Circuit Court Judge Marjan Peter Staniec. Reflecting the intensifed efforts of the elderly and their advocates to remedy such abuse, the legal profession and the courts in recent years have sug -
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gested establishing courts specifically for the elderly.
In Cook County, where the aged population is nearly 1 million, this concept is moving a little closer to realization. The Senior Court Task Force, an outgrowth of the Ad Hoc Committee on Agency/Court Related Senior Citizen Issues (a coalition of a number of federal, state, county, city and private agencies and the court) met December 18 to determine the feasibility of establishing a senior court in Cook County, a move applauded by the American Bar Association. "Such a special court, it is believed would provide easier access to legal services and the court," said Staniec, ex-officio member of the task force and a 30-year member of the Chicago Advisory Council on Aging.
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The task force, which is to formulate and forward recommendations to Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Harry G. Comerford, is chaired by Chicago attorney Roger Derstine, formerly general counsel to the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission, Other members include Lee Beneze, legal service developer for the Illinois Department on Aging; Marta Bukata, domestic relations coordinator for the South Chicago Legal Clinic; Ellen Holden Clark, a staff attorney with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services; Janna S. Dutton, an attorney who was formerly with the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation; Ann Hilton Fisher, a staff attorney involved with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago's Disability & Nursing Home Project; Edward Grossman, director of the South Chicago Legal Clinic: Mark J. Heyrman Sr. of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic and a clinical lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School; Madelyn Iris of Northwestern University Medical School's Center on Aging; Marlene Melcher, director of protective services for the Chicago Department of Aging & Disability; attorney Steven C. Perils, formerly with the Legal Aid Bureau: Ingrida D. Pullins, an attorney for the Cook County Public Guardian's Office; and Henry Rose, director of Loyola University's Community Law Center.
The Illinois Supreme Court has announced the following appointment and assignments: Cook County Judicial Circuit
Appointed by Chief Judge Harry G. Comerford: Circuit Judge John T. Keleher as supervising judge of the mandatory arbitration program, effective January 16.
Assigned to duty: Martin G. Luken of Chicago, retired associate judge, and Richard L Samuels of Flossmoor, retired circuit judge. Both assignments were effective January 16 and extend to July 1.
5th Judicial Circuit
Assigned to duty: Retired circuit Judges Thomas M. Burke of Charleston and James K. Robinson of Danville. Both assignments were effective January 15 and extend to December 3.
20th Judicial Circuit
Appointed circuit judge: Jerry D. Flynn of Red Bud, effective January 22, He fills the Vacancy created by the resignation of Carl Becker.
Cleaning up Illlinois coal
Cal Y. Meyers, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and Richard B. Read, formerly of the Illinois State Geological Survey and now with Rockwell International in Huntsville, Ala., have applied for a U.S. patent on a process that could clean high-sulfur coal before it leaves the mining site. Tentative approval of the patent has been received; final approval seems assured.
High-sulfur coal, like that mined in Illinois, contains two types of sulfur: pyritic and organic. The process developed by Meyers and Read would reduce the amount of pyritic sulfur in the coal by up to one half, producing a cleaner burning coal. According to Meyers, "This percentage of sulfur reduction would help meet the national acid-rain reduction objectives proposed by President Bush . . . [and] reduce the need for costly smokestack scrubbers." Scrubbers are extremely expensive devices installed on smokestacks to remove pollutants as coal is burned.
Meyers found that an organic molecular family of sulfonates that he'd created during the course of earlier chemistry experiments could act as a synthetic surfactant (surface acting agent). When contacted several years ago by the Illinois State Geological Survey for help in cleaning coal, Meyers suggested that his sulfonates might separate the sulfur from the coal.
Read tested the process and found it promising. To clean the coal, the sulfonate compound is mixed into a slurry, a mud-like mixture of water and finely pulverized coal. The compound coats the coal, separating it from the sulfur, much like detergents lift dirt from clothes. Air bubbled through the mixture lifts the coal to the surface for collection. The cleansed coal slurry can then be burned (an option that would require most utilities to retrofit their boilers) or turned into pellets for burning in conventional boilers.
High school students to chart Mississippi River quality
The Mississippi River will be the focus of a new water quality project directed by Robert Williams, associate professor of curriculum and instruction at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Williams, along with students from several Illinois high schools, will spend the spring collecting and analyzing samples of river water along a number of sections of the Big Muddy. Schools participating in the project, which is funded by a $124,000 grant from Illinois' Scientific Literacy Program, include Brussels High School in Brussels, Cahokia High School in Cahokia, Calhoun County High School in Hardin, Jersey County High School in Jerseyville, Marquette High School in Alton, Pittsfield High School in Pittsfield and the SIUE Science Awareness Program in East St. Louis.
The project's main objective is to teach the students about scientific research methods used to gather data. Participants will be provided with water test kits that will enable them to gather a variety of data along their assigned sec-
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tion of the river. Typical water quality data that will be collected include the river's pH, turbidity, nitrate concentration, BOD (biochemical oxygen demand), temperature, total solids and possibly some benthos data.
Not so typical data that Williams hopes the students will gather are indications of changes that have occurred in the river over the last 50 or 100 years, such as fishing patterns. Such past changes may provide clues about changes in the future.
In addition to the test kits, each school will also receive a modem and telecommunications software in order to access the "Confer Electronic Mail System." This computer system connects schools nationwide and will enable project participants to communicate and compare the information collected with each other as well as with schools in other states that are working on similar projects.
Another project aim is to encourage the students to become more environmentally responsible. By promoting a holistic approach, Williams hopes to strengthen for the students the link between science and society. "While the specific purpose of the project is to promote the learning of science, the project should acccomplish much more by involving high school students in scientific studies that relate to themselves in their everyday lives,'' according to Williams. Students will be encouraged to look at the cultural and historical aspects of the river through interviews with local residents, examination of historical records and other sources. Williams believes that information gleaned from the project will fuel activities and projects in other classes such as English, art and social studies.
The study will have some benefit for the professional scientific community as well. Since the pool of knowledge about the river's water quality is virtually nil, Williams believes, "The small amount of data received from a single school, combined with that from other schools, should evolve into patterns that can be made available to researchers in government and the private sector, to assist them in making decisions and formulating strategies for restoring ecological balance . . . ." All data collected will be sent to the University of Michigan for final analysis and summarization.
The grant money runs through the summer, but Williams would like to see a continuing program like this established all along the river. "The Mississippi needs us," he said.
IMA launches education foundation
"Put simply, the IMA [Illinois Manufacturers' Association] Education Foundation's goal is to help develop a superior Illinois workforce to meet the challenges of the 21st century." according to Patrick J. Keleher Jr., executive director of the newly established foundation. Formed in November 1989, the foundation will represent the educational interests of 5,000 Illinois companies employing 750,000 workers.
Meeting in January, the group elected officers and announced the appointment of Keleher as its first executive director. Officers include M. Blouke Carus, president and chief executive officer of Carus Corp. in Peru, chairman; Erwin E. Schulze, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Ceco Corp. in Oakbrook Terrace, vice chairman; Thomas L. Reid, vice president of educational and environmental services for the IMA, secretary; and Arthur R. Gottschalk, IMA president, treasurer.
Keleher, the former director of public policy for Chicago United, has been deeply involved with education reform. A vice president of the City Club of Chicago and president of Educational Networks, he cofounded the Alliance for Better Chicago Schools, the coalition that helped draft the Chicago Public School Reform Act. He was also instrumental in presenting the Chicago business community's position on school reform to the Mayor's Education Summit and the Illinois General Assembly. Keleher was recently appointed to the Illinois Literacy Council's committee on long-range planning by Secy. of State Jim Edgar.
The foundation hopes to forge a link between the private sector and government and education leadership to affect badly needed school reform. While it does not issue grants, it may help fund "cooperative ventures."
Alexis elected reserve board chairman
The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's Board of Governors named Marcus Alexis, dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago, its chairman for 1990. The board also appointed Charles S. McNeer, chairman and chief executive officer of Wisconsin Energy Corporation, Milwaukee, deputy chairman.
A board member since 1985, Alexis has served as deputy chairman for the past four years. He has held his current dean's post at UIC since 1985 and has also taught at DePaul and Northwestern universities. From 1979-81 Alexis served on the Interstate Commerce Commission, the last year as acting chairman. He replaced Robert J. Day, chairman and chief executive officer of Chicago-based USG Corporation. Day had served two terms on the board the maximum tenure for directors and had been fed chairman for the past four years.
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McNeer, who joined the board in 1986, has held his present position with Wisconsin Energy since 1987 when the corporation was formed as the holding company of Wisconsin Electric Power Company, Wisconsin Natural Gas Company and five nonutility subsidiaries. He had been with Wisconsin Electric since 1950.
Both Alexis and McNeer are Class C non-banker directors, appointed to represent the public sector, including consumers, industry, agriculture and labor.
Taking the departing Day's spot on the board was Richard G. Cline, chairman and chief executive officer of NICOR Inc. in Naperville. He began his three-year term on January 1. Cline is also a Class C nonbanker director.
The nine-member board is responsible for managing the Chicago Fed's operations. It also contributes to formulation of U.S. monetary policy by advising on regional economic conditions. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago covers the five-state midwestem region encompassing Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Ortciger new CUSEC chairman
Thomas W. Ortciger, director of the Illinois Emergency Services and Disaster Agency, is the new chairman of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC), headquartered in Memphis, Tenn. He succeeds Lacy Suiter, director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
Other consortium officers elected in January include Jerome M. Hauer, director of the Indiana State Emergency Management Agency, vice chairman; and James H. Molloy, director of the Kentucky Disaster and Emergency Services, secretary-treasurer. Harvey Ryland was renamed executive director.
During his term, Orticiger hopes "to attract more private dollars to increase earthquake public awareness and education in the seven states affected by the New Madrid Seismic Zone."
CUSEC, which is funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, serves the states of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
Fawks honored for efforts to save bald eagles
The Oak Valley Bald Eagle Refuge Nature Preserve became the Elton Fawks Eagle Refuge Nature Preserve in ceremonies held during Milan's Bald Eagle Appreciation Days in early February. Pawks, who died in October 1989, was instrumental in alerting conservationists and government officials of the eagle's decline and in protecting the Oak Valley area from development in the 1960s and 1970s. Located in Hamilton County, the 173.5 acre refuge is the annual winter home of as many as 120 eagles.
The refuge was acquired in parcels between 1976 and 1988 by the Department of Conservation, the Illinois Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation. Turned over to the state conservation agency in 1988, it was formally dedicated as a nature preserve in 1989.
Bald Eagle Appreciation Days, held annually in early February, this year attracted about 3,500 people, including 1,700 school children, to the Oak Valley area. Educational programs complete with live eagle demonstrations stressed eagle watching etiquette and the effects of toxins on eagle populations. Telescopes set up near Lock and Dam 14 permitted viewing of eagles in the wild.
Arriving in Illinois in December, bald eagles spend the winter months here, their number peaking in January and early February. The giant raptors frequent about 15 areas in the state: the most popular site for viewing is Lock and Dam 19 between Hamilton and Warsaw where up to 450 of the birds have been reported. The eagle's comeback is largely due to the waning effects of DDT in the environment. The chemical was banned in 1972 but, with a half life of 17 years, its effects have lingered. More space for roosting and nesting has also helped the eagle's recovery.
Illinois student goes to Moscow
Jennifer Metz, a student at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, recently spent 10 days in Moscow at the first global Model United Nations conference held in the Soviet Union. Metz, who returned to the U.S. at the end of January, represented Colombia at the conference and was also assigned to the Model U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women.
A variety of schools from all over the world were represented at the conference, but Metz was the only student from a community college. She said that this didn't make her any different from anyone else: "I'd say, I'm from a community college,' and nobody blinked an eye .... I was really accepted."
Conference participants worked from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., but nights were free to explore Moscow. Metz didn't have too much trouble with language barriers. All proceedings were translated and "most everyone knew English.''
Metz's four months of intense research (reading 300 pages a week) on Colombia and women's issues paid off in a most rewarding experience. The Russians were "some of the nicest people I've ever met.... There's a lot of poverty. But they're not real materialistic; it's really neat.'' Metz said that the conference provided participants with "a way of looking at things and realizing there's hope."
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