Civic News & Info
Governor Quinn Announces Illinois Relief Effort to Help Victims of Japan Quake and Tsunami PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Laurel White   
Friday, 15 April 2011 14:05

State will Supply 2,000 Radiation Detectors; Illinois Farmers to Donate Vital Supplies

CHICAGO – April 15, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a statewide humanitarian relief effort to harness Illinois’ technological and agricultural resources to provide vital supplies for the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will donate 2,000 critically-needed radiation detectors to assist the relief effort, and a collective response by the Illinois agricultural community will help supply much-needed agricultural products to Japan. The Governor’s announcement marks the first statewide effort in the U.S. to pool resources and aid for the people of Japan.

“The people of Japan are our good friends, and the State of Illinois, our business community and our farmers are all working together to help them get back on their feet,” said Governor Quinn. “We are working across Illinois to provide resources that address Japan’s immediate needs, such as radiation detectors to help Japan with its efforts around the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. And our farmers are stepping up to make donations from their harvests, so that we can help the Japanese people over the longer-term.”

“Japan was struck by an unprecedented disaster, and the Government of Japan is doing everything possible to address the damage,” said George Hisaeda, Consul General of Japan at Chicago. “Words cannot express how deeply Japan appreciates the major donation by the State of Illinois, thanks to Governor Quinn’s leadership.  Illinois is a true friend of Japan, and this partnership will help Japan will recover and prosper.”

The earthquake and tsunami on March 11 has caused more than 13,000 to lose their lives, with more than 14,000 still missing and more than 100,000 without homes. In addition, radioactive contamination was released at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Illinois’ donation of 2,000 personal radiation detectors with chargers, batteries and heat covers will support the operations of organizations, such Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, in their ongoing efforts to monitor and minimize the impacts of the disaster.

The radiation detectors are part of the state’s Preventive Radiological and Nuclear Detection (PRND) program. Law enforcement officers and firefighters are equipped with the detectors to alert them to potentially hazardous radiological materials they may encounter in the line of duty.  Launched in 2009, the PRND program has deployed more than 1,200 detectors to more than 100 local law enforcement agencies and fire departments throughout the state.

“The need in Japan for these detectors is immediate,” said Jonathon Monken, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the state’s Homeland Security Adviser to the Governor.  “Illinois’ world-class nuclear safety program enables us to help in this unprecedented situation.”

Illinois-based Caterpillar Logistics Services, Inc. (Cat Logistics), a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., is providing transportation for the radiation detection devices from Illinois to Japan at no cost to the State of Illinois.

“On behalf of all Caterpillar employees, in particular our 23,000 employees in Illinois and the 5,000 employees we have in Japan, we are pleased to lend a hand and donate the transportation costs for this important humanitarian effort,” said Steve Larson, Vice President of Caterpillar Inc. and Chairman and President of Cat Logistics.

The radiation equipment was originally purchased for $1.3 million by the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) with federal homeland security grants provided by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force.  Since the equipment was purchased with homeland security funds Illinois received from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), state officials sought and received clearance from DHS before finalizing the donation.

Detector deployment in Illinois will remain unaffected by the donation; nearly 3,000 additional detectors are currently on hand in Illinois.

In addition, two state agencies, the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), have been working with agricultural producers and processors on a comprehensive plan to help address Japan’s longer-term food needs. Discussions have been held with the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago, Japan External Trade Organization, and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan to identify the areas of need that can be fulfilled through the relief effort.

“Japan is one of Illinois’ largest trading partners. We have a strong economic relationship, including hundreds of millions of dollars in agricultural trade alone each year,” said Warren Ribley, DECO director. “After a calamity of this magnitude, the needs of the Japanese people will vary over the short and long-term, and the plan the Governor is announcing today will allow agricultural producers across Illinois to work in concert to respond to those essential and diverse needs.”

Partners such as ADM, Illinois River Energy and the Illinois Farm Bureau/Country Financial have already acknowledged their commitment to assisting the people of Japan with hundreds of thousands in cash contributions. The plan currently in development will devise the best and most efficient delivery system to provide the greatest result for the people of Japan and mobilize all segments of the Illinois agricultural industry – individual farm producers, the commodity associations, agricultural associations and the food processing industry – to respond.

“In Illinois and in the agriculture community, we understand the importance of lending a helping hand in a time of need,” said Tom Jennings, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The current challenges for the Japanese government are immense, and we recognize the need to plan now to best maximize the impact of the assistance that will be provided by Illinois’ vast agricultural resources come harvest time.”

“Farmers by their nature are willing to lend assistance to those in need,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson. “We are in a global economy. We need to help each other out of difficult situations.”

Japan is the world’s largest net importer of food products. The nation of more than 127 million people imports 60 percent of its food supply, about $50 billion of food each year. Disruption of trade and the Japanese agricultural industry due to the earthquake and tsunami make Japan more reliant on agricultural aid as the country recovers from this disaster.

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Governor Quinn Unveils $11.5 Billion Multi-Year Construction Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Andrew Mason   
Monday, 11 April 2011 13:04

Continued Infrastructure Investment will Create 155,000 Jobs

CHCAGO – April 7, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today unveiled the state’s new $11.5 billion multi-year construction program. The program will create 155,000 jobs and spark economic development throughout the state while improving safety and reducing congestion. Driven by the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, the statewide multi-year plan for fiscal years 2012 through 2017 will improve 3,248 miles of road and replace or rehabilitate 611 bridges. In the upcoming fiscal year, the state is expected to improve 490 miles of road and 105 bridges.

“The last two construction seasons have been the busiest in Illinois’ history, thanks to Illinois Jobs Now!,” said Governor Quinn. “This plan will ensure that we continue this momentum in 2012 and beyond, that exemplifies my commitment to creating jobs and supporting our economic recovery through critical investment in our roads and bridges.”

Of the $11.5 billion program, $7.2 billion is from federal funds and $3.6 billion from state funds, including $2 billion through the six-year, $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital program passed by Governor Quinn and the General Assembly in 2009.

State highways will see $8.3 billion in improvements over the life of the program, with $3.2 billion available for the local highway system. In the state portion of the multi-year program, $3.5 billion will be for reconstructions, resurfacings, widenings and other safety projects; $1.9 billion for bridge needs; $2.1 billion for congestion mitigation and $774 million for new roads and increased access for economic development.

“We are excited to move forward with these projects that will create jobs and make our roads safer,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig said. “We believe they will spark economic development and enhance the quality of life for residents across the state.”

The entire multi-year program is available online at www.dot.il.gov.

 

 

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Grassley Q & A: Serving Iowans PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 28 March 2011 12:41

Q.  In Washington, how much time do you spend meeting with Iowans, compared to work on the Senate floor, in committee meetings and in other discussions and work?

A.  When I’m in Washington, D.C., for Senate business, I meet with many Iowans who are visiting the nation’s capital.  Because mornings are taken up by committee business, policy discussions and oftentimes Senate votes, I have appointments and conference calls with Iowans at least every Monday through Thursday, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and any other time the schedule will allow.  Some of the Iowans I meet with in Washington are business groups such as chambers of commerce and trade associations; state, county and local officials; policy and issue advocates; student groups; and families on vacation.  The families and students often tour the Capitol and want to see a Senate office to learn more about the workings of the legislative branch of government.  Trade association members and others are usually interested in conveying their views about pieces of legislation or issues currently before Congress that affect their operations, including their ability to create and maintain jobs for Iowans, for example.

Q.  Do you meet with Iowans when you’re in Iowa?

A.  If the Senate isn’t in session, I’m almost always in Iowa.  I have visited each of Iowa’s 99 counties at least once every year since I was first elected to the United States Senate in 1980.  My meetings with constituents include holding my own town meetings, speaking to service clubs and school groups, and touring and meeting with employees at local businesses and factories.  The 99-county tradition ensures that I get to every part of the state every year.  A lot of people know they can catch me then, or if they can’t see me in person, they can at least read in the local paper that I spoke with their friends and neighbors who brought up issues of concern in the local community.  For information on upcoming meetings, please visit the events page of my website at http://grassley.senate.gov/events/index.cfm.  Iowans can also find out where I’ve already been this year by clicking on the interactive map located at http://grassley.senate.gov/iowa/interactive_map.cfm.

Q.  Why is it important for you to meet with Iowans?

A.  The seat I occupy in the United States Senate belongs to the people of Iowa, and I never forget that I work for them.  The honor of representing Iowans in Congress comes with the responsibility to be in touch with as many Iowans as I can, any way I can.  The essence of representative government is communication between those of us elected and our constituents.  There are a lot of ways to communicate.  In addition to face-to-face meetings, I communicate with Iowans using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, a webcast, email, the telephone and postal mail.  Each of those options helps foster a stronger dialogue between me and the Iowans I represent.  Not everyone can get to a town meeting or visit Washington to tell me what’s on their mind, so the more means of communication, the better.  Iowans can schedule a meeting with me in Washington or Iowa by visiting the scheduling page of my website, http://grassley.senate.gov/info/scheduling_requests.cfm.  It helps when requests are made with as much advance notice as possible.  My office also provides tour information and arrangements for popular tourist destinations, such as the Capitol and the White House.  Tour arrangements can be made by visiting http://grassley.senate.gov/info/tour_information.cfm.  Questions about meetings or tours also can be directed to my Washington office at (202) 224-3744.

 
Harkin Announces More than $1,000,000 to Help Iowans Become More Economically Self-Sufficient PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Monday, 28 March 2011 07:53

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that a total of $1,034,954 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be coming to thirteen communities across Iowa.  These funds will provide assistance to public and private groups to enable participating families to increase earned income and financial literacy and to reduce or eliminate the need for welfare assistance that these individuals are now receiving. Harkin is a Senior Member of the Appropriations Committee that allocates funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

“I am pleased to see that so many Iowans will have access to assistance designed to help them become self-sufficient and no longer in need of government help,” said Harkin. “It is very important for Iowans to know how to both spend wisely and be able to increase their incomes. This funding is designed to help individuals do just that.”

The funds are provided by the HUD Housing Choice Voucher-Family Self Sufficiency Program. The FSS program and the FSS NOFA support the department’s strategic goal of utilizing housing as a platform for improving quality of life by helping HUD-assisted renters increase economic security and self-sufficiency.    

Details of those receiving the grants are below.

  • Central Iowa Region Housing Authority, $57,529
  • City of Cedar Rapids, $138,000
  • City of Des Moines Municipal Agency, $132,973
  • City of Dubuque Housing and CD Department, $63,478
  • City of Sioux City Housing Authority, $138,000
  • Eastern Iowa Regional Housing Authority, $133,940
  • Iowa City Housing Authority, $54,394
  • Mid Iowa Regional Housing Authority $47,055
  • Municipal Housing Agency of Council Bluffs, $85,570
  • City of Muscatine, $55,309
  • Region XII Regional Housing Authority, $45,000
  • Southern Iowa Regional Housing Authority, $43,850

 
Concern over the flooding on the Mississippi river: Holding back the water PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Lillian Voss   
Thursday, 24 March 2011 08:26

I am Lillian Voss and I am 94 years old. My late husband, Burton Voss (also known as Michael Voss), and I have lived at 4336 S. Concord Street for nearly 60 years. My husband died in 1994. Our house was built above the 100-year flood plain. We experienced all the major flooding along the Mississippi river these past years. My husband fought very hard against the tactics of the Corps of Engineers regarding the water levels of the Mississippi river. With this new threat of major flooding and after reading the article in the QC Times “Ask the Times” titled “River’s high level is a natural one” dated 2/17/2011 (enclosed), I feel I must come forward and again try to expose the tactics of the Corps of Engineers.

Do you realize the Corps of Engineers hold back the water on the Mississippi to artificially raise the river level to 9’ so that the barge traffic can operate efficiently? In holding back this water and not allowing it to escape, the river level is not far from the flood stage when the spring thawing begins in the upper Mississippi valley. This high level of water on the Mississippi makes the flooding in the spring considerably worse. Each spring when a flood is predicted along the Mississippi, I have a friend call the Corps of Engineers to ask them to fully open the dams to allow the water to flow freely and naturally. Each time I would ask they would claim it would not make any difference if they did open the dams. Anyone could see that if you open the dams and allow the water to escape down the river, the water level would drastically drop. This would allow a cushion for drainage for the water coming down the river as the snow melts and the rains fall. You will find my husband’s research information enclosed .

In 1962 over 1000 petitions were submitted to Congressman Fred Schwingal requesting the Corps of Engineers to open the dams. At that time we were facing a major flood as the snow started to melt in the upper Mississippi. Congressman Schwingal had enough influence to order the dams opened. In that year we avoided a major flood. This is certain evidence that opening the dams fully does have an effect or influence on the flooding on the Mississippi. As a result of opening the dams that year, the current of the river increased dramatically as the water level fell. Many barge accidents occurred and the dams were never opened fully again in the following years.

By opening the dams fully this would allow the water level to drop drastically so the river could receive the tremendous amount of snow melting off and the spring rains. Flooding would not be nearly as severe.

A meeting was held with the Corps of Engineers on 3/18/2011. These were the major concerns of Corps of Engineers about opening the dams fully. I expressed my opinion after each concern:

  1. The barges could not operate if the dams were opened fully.

My Comment: There is no excuse to leave the dams closed just to allow the barge traffic to come through when a serious flood is most likely to occur. We The People along the Mississippi have to suffer through these damaging floods. Is the barge traffic more important than preventing a catastrophic flood or at least making it less severe? I believe the barges can operate at a lower water level.

  1. The law states the Corps of Engineers have to maintain a 9’ river channel for the barges.

My Comment: What kind of a person would make up a law that would take superiority over the victims of a catastrophic flood? This is totally irresponsible. Did the barge companies make this law? A law like this would most certainly have an exception with regard to a major flood looming.

  1. By keeping the water level high we are protecting the fish and wildlife. If we lower the water level, we won’t be able to protect the fish and wildlife.

My Comment: How do the fish and wildlife get along when the river is low at other times of the year? Many times in the past 10 years the water gauges measure one or two feet, sometimes not even a reading. How do the fish and wildlife manage then? We are talking maybe one week of low water level, if that long.

  1. These water dams were not constructed for flood control. They were constructed for commerce.

My Comment: At the time of getting support (public opinion and financial), to build the locks and dams, flood control was a major reason as well as commerce. We are not now talking about flood control use. At this time the dams are causing floods, not preventing them. By holding back water to raise the water level on the river, this is contributing to the flooding. Let the water go naturally by fully opening the dams. What harm could it do? We would certainly have a less severe flood.

  1. Fully opening the dams might cause flooding down the Mississippi.

My Comment: If opening the dams might cause further flooding down-river, then why are you saying the dams were not built for flood control. You are damming up the water. Open the last dam first and let the water run and start opening the next dams in sequence as you go north. If you open the dams at the lower locks and dams (the last dam first) and carefully move up the river opening each dam while doing it, carefully timed, not all at once, you should prevent flooding down-river. With careful coordination and planning there would not be any flooding when the dams are fully opened.

  1. Our college experiments show that opening the dams and lowering the water levels would not make any difference on the severity of the floods.

My Comment: It sounds logical to me that if the river is low at the beginning more water can run down the river before the water goes over its banks. In 1962 it did make a difference. They opened the dams, the water went down the river and we did not have a severe flood. A great volume of water would run down the river before it would ever go out of its banks because it would not be restricted by the dams. What harm would it do just to open the dams and let the water run naturally. After all, this was the way it was before the dams were built. We were getting the 100-year floods then. Now we are getting the 100-year floods every three or four years. We are only talking about the dams being opened for one to two weeks, at most, before the full force of the water comes down.

  1. The lower water level will prevent municipalities from getting clean water out of the Mississippi.

My Comment: Iowa American Water Company tells me they can get adequate clean water out of the Mississippi at one and two foot water levels. After all, what did they do when the water level was at the one or two foot readings in the past? Many times in the past years the water level has been below the two foot water stage.

  1. If you can get Congress to tell us to open the dams, we will gladly open the dams.

My Comment: As we were getting ready to close the meeting, this statement was one of the last statements made by the engineers. This statement tells me the Corps of Engineers are not entirely to blame for these dams being closed to hold back the water.

It appears that the barge companies have more power over the Corps if Engineers and our Federal politicians than We The People along the Mississippi river. I must ask- Why is that???

I am calling on our Senators and Representatives to order the Corps of Engineers to fully open all the dams up and down the Mississippi river to allow the water to flow freely for this short period of time. Allow the river level to drastically fall so the river can receive the tremendous amount of water that is now starting to melt off. River traffic must be restricted until the major snow melt is over. Without a doubt, this action would reduce the severity of the flood.

Open the gates and let the river flow naturally as it once did for this short period of time. Try it once, if it does not work, then there would be no need to try it again. What harm is there in trying it? In 1962 it worked.

Sincerely,

Lillian Voss

 
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