Business & Economy
Lt. Governor Simon to host affordability summit at SIUC PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kara Beach   
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 07:56

Summits to follow at Illinois State, Western and SIUE


CARBONDALE – Advocating for affordable and accessible higher education for all students, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will host College Affordability Summits in Carbondale, Normal, Macomb and Edwardsville in the coming week.


Simon will call on state, federal and higher education leaders to increase transparency, target state aid and support a federal tax credit for middle class families in order to make college affordable for Illinois students. The average costs for a public university education have outpaced family incomes and available aid, increasing 128 percent since 1980 when adjusted for inflation.


“Our state has set a goal to increase the proportion of working-age adults to 60 percent, from 41 percent, by 2025. The only way we can achieve this goal is if college is affordable,” said Simon, a former Southern Illinois University law professor. “We must work together to rein in costs of a higher education.”


The Governor’s point person on education reform, Simon supports legislation for College Choice Reports, a standardized report for all degree-granting institutions that would help students analyze cost, debt and graduation rates across institutions. Simon also serves on the state’s MAP Eligibility Task Force, which is reviewing ways to better target the need-based assistance to students. A task force report is due to the General Assembly January 1, 2013.


The College Affordability Summits are scheduled for Monday, Oct. 15 at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; Thursday, Oct. 18 at Illinois State University and Western Illinois University; and Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville on Friday, Oct. 19. Additional dates and locations will follow.


EVENT: Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Affordability Summit

TIME: 1:15 p.m.

DATE: Monday, October 15

PLACE: Trueblood Dining Hall, 1175 S. Washington St., Carbondale

NOTE: Simon will hold a media availability in the dining hall before shadowing a work study student. The job shadow is for photo and video spray only.



Federal dollars to battery company with Chinese investor PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 15 October 2012 15:03

Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012

Grassley, Thune Continue to Seek Answers on Federal Money to Battery Company with Chinese Investor

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Thune (R-S.D.) continue to press for answers about a $249.1 million federal grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy through the controversial 2009 stimulus bill to a battery manufacturer that could soon be owned by a Chinese investor.  Grassley and Thune sent a letter this week to the chief executive officer of A123 Systems based in Massachusetts questioning whether U.S. tax dollars are going to benefit a Chinese company rather than U.S. taxpayers and express concern about national security risks.

“We need to be sure that when the federal government invests close to a quarter of a billion dollars in grants to a company, that the technology developed as a result of this taxpayer support doesn’t end up in China,” Grassley said.  “We’ll continue to press for answers and for a full accounting from the Administration on how these grants are made and whether any measures are taken to prevent tax dollars from being wasted.  This situation requires transparency and accountability.”

“With over 23 million Americans unemployed or underemployed and struggling to make ends meet, the federal government should not be sending millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to a Chinese company to support Chinese jobs,” said Thune.  “The president promised his stimulus bill would reduce unemployment to 6 percent by now, but instead, unemployment just dropped below 8 percent for the first time since the president took office nearly four years ago.  The American people have a right to know whether stimulus dollars will be used to support the creation of Chinese jobs.”

In August, Grassley and Thune wrote to the Department of Energy after the company was faltering and had just announced a $450 million investment deal with a Chinese company to express concern about tax dollars going to a struggling company.

Grassley and Thune said their concerns continue, in part because the Department of Energy has not answered basic questions.  Because of the way the deal is structured, China-based Wanxiang can transfer some of A123’s debt into ownership.  The China-based company could end up owning 80 percent of A123. Billions of tax dollars already have flowed to foreign companies through stimulus bill spending.  This deal could lead to foreign government access to technology that A123 has described as “innovative” and “next generation.”  A123 holds several multi-million dollar contracts with the Department of Defense and is pursuing more defense contracts for military vehicles, power grids, high energy lasers, advanced armor, and unmanned defense vehicles.

Grassley and Thune said that if A123 is close to being owned by a Chinese company, then the public deserves to know:  how much of the federal stimulus grant the company has yet to receive; what safeguards are in place for taxpayer-funded intellectual property; if taxpayer-funded jobs will stay in the United States; if the Energy Department raised any objections to the financing deal and if it didn’t, why not?  In addition, the Administration must account for what protections are in place for classified information of the Department of Defense, Grassley and Thune said.

The text of the latest Grassley-Thune letter is available here.  The text of their August letter to the Department of Energy is available here.


The United Soybean Board (USB) continues to drive demand for U.S. soy, thanks to a partnership with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Goodyear recently announced field tests for a new tire featuring U.S. soy that the company says may offer consumers increased tr PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Theresa Wittenauer   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 13:39
ROCK FALLS, IL – Blackhawk Hills Regional Council, in conjunction with the Carroll County Soil and Water Conservation District, is sponsoring a Prevailing Wage Workshop to be held October 16, 2012 at 10:00 am. Tom Whalen, Conciliation and Mediation Manager at the Illinois Department of Labor, will be presenting on the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act. The workshop will help explain how this state law impacts local communities and organizations.

The workshop is open to the public and there is no fee to attend the event. To obtain additional information or to register for the event, please contact Blackhawk Hills by phone at 815-625-3854 or email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

About Blackhawk Hills

Blackhawk Hills is a not-for-profit corporation based in Rock Falls, IL, that serves Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, and Whiteside counties in northwest Illinois. Services include community planning, development assistance, natural resources  conservation and protection support, and grant writing and administration. Blackhawk Hills is sponsored by local county boards and Soil and Water Conservation Districts and is overseen by an 18-member council, consisting of three representatives from each of the six counties.

Questions about Blackhawk Hills may be directed to Theresa Wittenauer at (815) 625-3854 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


How to Detect & Protect Against Workplace Bullying -- a Chronic Corporate Disease PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 08 October 2012 15:29
By: Rakesh Malhotra

Stories of workplace bullying are commonplace throughout the United States.

Some real-life examples:

Mavis: “When I started there, I was told that someone had been acting in the position and had expected to get the job. This person continually undermined me and turned other staff against me. I endured 12 months of hell, and felt as if I was sinking in quicksand.”

A male employee at a different company: “The misery took over my whole life. I turned nasty and bitter and treated my wife and kids like whipping posts. After many visits to a psychologist, I was able to think of all the positive things in my life. Now I look back and think I wouldn’t want to go through that experience again.”

In general, there are no legal repercussions for non-physical bullying except in specific cases, such as sexual harassment. In fact, bullying is a character trait that tends to be condoned in American society. Consider our national obsession -- football. The object of this celebrated game is to get the ball to the other player’s goal, no matter what it takes: trampling, hitting, pushing, screaming. If football is a metaphor for American society, then the winner is the person who pushes others out of the way and wins no matter the cost.

Bullies win by controlling situations and people around them. They crave power and the attention that comes from getting what they want.

The effects of working with a bully

Adults have a difficult time performing their jobs effectively when subjected to bullying by a co-worker. It takes a toll physically because of our physiological responses to emotional stress. Typically, victims endure feelings of depression, guilt and shame, and they suffer sleep loss and fatigue.  In some cases, victims begin to believe the bully’s behavior is warranted, and they develop feelings of worthlessness. They cannot complete tasks at the same level as others in their units.

Victims of bullying may suffer from panic disorders, post traumatic stress syndrome, agoraphobia and stress-induced high blood pressure. If they leave the job or are docked because of resulting lowered performance, they face economic issues. Some take their own lives.

The abuse takes a toll on victims in every way imaginable.

Are you a bully?

Being accused of being the bully can be difficult to accept. You may believe your actions were unintentional, or a justified emotional response to provocation. Perhaps, you see yourself as the only one in the office qualified to do anything right.  However, whatever you have said or done, whether purposefully or not, you have created a culture of negativity for at least one person and you need to honestly assess the situation and your role in it.

Symptoms that you may be the bully include:

• Insulting a coworker (remember, one person’s “joke” may be another’s insult).

• Undermining another employee’s work by creating a hostile environment or perhaps by consistently calling their attention to “flaws”. (Bullies focus on a person, while constructive criticism focuses on a task.)

• As an employer, ignoring your employees’ suggestions.

• Humiliating your employee in front of others.

If any of these sound like something that you may be doing, it is important to address this immediately with your victim. You may want to speak with your doctor about getting help, such as counseling, sensitivity training, anger management and other seminars.

It is important to understand the signs and symptoms of a bully in order to help the victim and the victimizer deal with and exterminate the behavior.

If you are a victim, diligently record workplace bullying events. If you choose to make a formal complaint, you will be responsible for providing information should there be charges brought against the bully.

About Rakesh Malhotra

Rakesh Malhotra, founder of Five Global Values (, is a world-traveled, values-driven business leader who specializes in organization behavior. Rakesh’s fascination with the connection between human behavior and core values was sparked many years ago. As a result of working, living, and traveling around the world to nearly  40 countries, Rakesh realized that the Five Global Values determine overall  human behavior  across all cultures. He is also the author of Adventures of Tornado Kid: Whirling Back Home Towards Timeless Values.

Grassley’s reform bill to prevent abuse of government charge cards signed into law PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 08 October 2012 14:44

WASHINGTON – A reform effort that Senator Chuck Grassley’s been pushing for nearly 10 years became law today with the President’s signature on Grassley legislation that will require federal agencies to put new controls on government charge cards and enforce more stringent penalties for violations by federal employees.

Grassley first introduced a bill to secure better management controls for government charge cards in 2003.  The measure enacted today was cosponsored by Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Senator Susan Collins of Maine.

“It shouldn’t take a decade for Washington to do everything possible to stop federal workers from purchasing kitchen appliances, jewelry and cruises, and even paying the tab at gentlemen’s clubs and legalized brothels, but Washington is an island surrounded by reality,” Grassley said.  “Perseverance paid off for this reform effort.  By putting some common-sense controls into the law, we can make certain the federal bureaucracy improves the way it responsibly manages the use of these cards just like a private business would.”

Problematic use of government charge cards, first at the Department of Defense and then at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Forest Service, the Federal Aviation Administration, and elsewhere, was revealed by Grassley’s oversight work.  Over the years, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office also documented fraudulent, questionable and overly expensive purchases with these cards.

Along with new controls and penalties, including dismissal, the legislative overhaul also will increase scrutiny of card usage with regular independent risk assessments and audits to identify fraud and improper use.

Safeguards and internal controls included in the Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act are:

·         performing credit checks for travel card holders and issuing restricted cards for those with poor or no credit to reduce the potential for misuse;

·         maintaining a record of each cardholder, including single transaction limits and total transaction limits so agencies can effectively manage their cardholders;

·         implementing periodic reviews to determine if cardholders have a need for a card;

·         properly recording rebates to the government based on prompt payment, sales volume, etc.;

·         providing training for cardholders and managers;

·         utilizing effective systems, techniques, and technologies to prevent or catch improper purchases;

·         establishing specific policies about the number of cards to be issued, the credit limits for certain categories of cardholders, and categories of employees eligible to be issued cards;

·         invalidating cards when employees leave the agency or transfer;

·         establishing an approving official other than the purchase card holder so employees cannot approve their own purchases;

·         reconciling purchase card charges on the bill with receipts and supporting documentation;

·         reconciling disputed purchase card charges and discrepancies with the bank according to the proper procedure;

·         making purchase card payments promptly to avoid interest penalties;

·         retaining records of purchase card transactions in accordance with standard government record keeping policies;

·         utilizing direct payments to the bank when reimbursing employees for travel card purchases to ensure that travel card bills get paid;

·         comparing items submitted on travel vouchers with items already paid for with centrally billed accounts to avoid reimbursing employees for items already paid for by the agency;

·         submitting refund requests for unused airline tickets so the taxpayers don’t pay for tickets that were not used; and

·         disputing unauthorized charges and tracking the status of disputed charges to proper resolution.


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