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Morthland Files Bill to Block Pension Loophole PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Rich Morthland   
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 10:05

Springfield, IL...State Representative Rich Morthland (R-Cordova) filed legislation today that will close the pension loophole that allowed two teachers union lobbyists to earn huge state pensions once they served a single day as substitute teachers.


A Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV investigation found that two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience were allowed to count their years as union employees towards state teacher pensions after subbing for a single day in 2007.


"These guys were lobbyists masquerading as teachers," Morthland said. "They took advantage of a pension loophole that allowed them to receive a teacher's pension after subbing for just one day in the classroom. That's a slap in the face to hard working teachers across Illinois. We need to block this loophole so lobbyists cannot weasel their way into a pension plan for which common sense dictates they should not qualify."


According to the Tribune report, Steven Preckwinkle, the political director of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and fellow IFT lobbyist David Piccioli were the only people who took advantage of a small pension window opened by state lawmakers just a few months earlier. The law allowed union officials to get into the Teachers' Retirement System and count their previous years as union employees after quickly obtaining teaching certificates and working in a classroom. Preckwinkle and Piccioli could collect nearly $3 million in pension payouts, based on their union salaries and years of union credit.

"Illinois' pension systems face serious financial problems, with more than $85 billion in unfunded liability," Morthland said. "So while these lobbyists' pensions may only be a drop in the bucket, they are stinking up the whole bucket. What they did was shameful and I intend to put a stop to it."


Morthland's legislation, House Bill 3870, would require Preckwinkle and Piccioli to make their entire pension contributions immediately in order receive their teacher pensions. The legislation is an effort to prevent the lobbyists from receiving the pensions they earned through the previously-established pension loophole.



Dress for Success® comes to the Quad Cities Center/Boutique opens Nov. 1 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Susan Seaver Goetz   
Monday, 31 October 2011 14:32

Dress for Success® Quad Cities,a new local affiliate of the international not-for-profit organization, will open its local center/boutique on Nov. 1. The new offices and boutique space are located in the Union Arcade Building, 111 East Third Street, Suite 710, Davenport.

Since suiting the first client in 1997, Dress for Success has served more than 600,000 women internationally by providing them with business-appropriate clothing, mentoring and professional development programs. This brand-new affiliate will join more than 110 others
around the globe.

“Dress for Success changes lives; it’s as simple as that. We are about much more than just suits – we empower women to thrive in  work and in life,” says Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide. “And we are thrilled that women in the Quad Cities area will now be able to access the numerous programs that we offer. It is clear that the community has already embraced our mission and that this new affiliate will be a tremendous success.”

Women come to Dress for Success Quad Cities by referral only after having completed job training programs offered by local social service agencies and non-profit organizations. Each client receives one interview suit in her first visit and, once she finds work, receives
additional attire, either separates or a second suit, and an invitation to join the Professional Women’s Group (PWG). The PWG program, along with Career Center and mentoring services, provides ongoing support to clients as they grow professionally, strive to turn their jobs into successful careers and journey towards economic independence.

“Before embarking on this endeavor, I spoke with staff from over a dozen local non- profits and organizations that help to prepare disadvantaged women for the workforce. I asked if they would refer women to us and whether their clients would benefit from a new Dress for Success affiliate in the Quad Cities. Every single one responded with a resounding ‘yes!’” said Regina Haddock Clewell, founder of Dress for Success Quad Cities. “Now with over 25 potential referral partners lining up for the start of our services, we can’t wait to begin suiting clients on November 1st!”

A group of motivated Quad-City area volunteers, led by Haddock Clewell, has worked tirelessly for more than a year to become an affiliate of Dress for Success. The process included developing business plans, filing for incorporation, earning 501(c)(3) status, receiving formal approval by Dress for Success Worldwide, seating an initial Board of Directors, early fundraising and clothing donations and more.

For more information, to volunteer, or to donate, please visit , e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or find Dress for Success Quad Cities on Facebook at


In Case You Missed It: Hill Newspaper Editorial, “A bill in motion” PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Monday, 31 October 2011 14:05

Today’s edition of the Capitol Hill newspaper ‘The Hill’ editorializes in favor of the bipartisan momentum behind Senator Harkin’s overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act. The legislation was approved by the full HELP Committee last Thursday on a bipartisan vote of 15 to 7.

For more information on the how the bill benefits Iowa, click here.

A bill in motion

House Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House are frustrated with the lack of legislation coming out of the 112th Congress.

The parties, of course, blame each other. The GOP-controlled House has called on President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to move 15 bipartisan jobs bills that have cleared the lower chamber.

House Democrats, in turn, accuse Republicans of blocking Obama’s jobs package as well as a China currency bill that has cleared the Senate.

But despite the partisan finger-pointing, there is at least one bill that has bipartisan momentum: Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law.

Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, recently struck a deal with the committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.), and the measure cleared the panel last week, 15-7.

There is a decent chance that the Senate will tackle the bill before the end of 2011; Harkin said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program that he is hoping for a vote by Christmas.

He also indicated he has reached a deal with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on how the bill will overcome procedural obstacles on the Senate floor, but declined to elaborate.

The politics of this legislation are fascinating, because both left and right have attacked it. Liberal groups lament the lack of performance targets, while Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) have ripped the way Harkin moved the measure through committee.

Yet the bill was supported by other senators on the committee, notably Alexander, who is a member of the Republican leadership.

Alexander, a former Education secretary, announced this fall that he will be leaving his leadership post. He wants to legislate, and said his decision was liberating. The implication was that as a member of leadership, his hands have been tied.

The 15-7 vote in committee signals that the floor vote could attract a lot of bipartisan support (especially because there are Republicans who voted no in committee, but might vote yes on the final bill).

Passage of the measure would be a significant accomplishment for Harkin, and it would put the House on the spot. House Republicans want to move education legislation this Congress on a piecemeal approach, which would present major challenges in conference negotiations.

Politically, Senate Democrats could use the passage of Harkin’s bill as ammunition against the House GOP in the 2012 elections. That dynamic could give Republicans a reason to block the bill.

But for the moment, Harkin’s legislation is on the move in what has been a slow-moving Congress.

Make a Lasting, Positive Impact This Holiday Season: Give Family and Friends Gifts from the Arbor Day Foundation PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Arbor Day Foundation   
Monday, 31 October 2011 14:04

Nebraska City, Neb. – Celebrate the holiday season with friends and loved ones this year and give back to the Earth at the same time with the help of the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation.

Send holiday greetings and plant a tree – all at the same time – by using the Foundation's Give-A-Tree cards. Give-A-Tree cards are unique in that every card plants a tree in one of our National Forests in honor of the recipient. By sending Give-A-Tree cards, you are helping to replant forests that have been devastated by wildfires, insects and disease. Give-A-Tree holiday cards come in 20 varieties. This year, an option is available to customize Give-A-Tree cards, including using your favorite picture in a Give-A-Tree photo card.

When you give the gift of Arbor Day Specialty Coffee, you're helping to preserve the Earth's precious rain forests. Arbor Day Specialty Coffee is shade-grown under the canopy of Latin American rain forests. Unlike sun-grown coffee plantations, this traditional shade-grown method gives the coffee a delicious, rich flavor and helps preserve the rain forest as part of the Foundation's Rain Forest Rescue program.

The Foundation's Trees in Celebration program allows the giver to honor loved ones while at the same time making a positive impact on the environment. Trees in Celebration includes a certificate for the recipient, and for each dollar donated a tree is planted in a damaged forest.

Give special friends a membership to the Arbor Day Foundation, and they will also receive 10 free trees. A membership costs $10, and includes many great benefits, including 10 free trees that will be shipped at the right time of year for planting.

"The holidays are a time for thinking about others, and as you do, take a moment to think about what you can do to protect the beauty and splendor of the Earth," said John Rosenow, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. "We encourage everyone to give gifts that will have a lasting impact on the world for generations to come."

To purchase holiday gifts that give back to the Earth, go to


FOR KIDS: Halloween Safety and Health Tips from the Experts PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Brant Rawls   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 14:59

Halloween is one of the most exciting holidays for children because they can dress up in elaborate costumes and act out of character. However, as the sun goes down and trick-or-treaters start roaming the streets of your neighborhood, there are several things to worry about as a parent or guardian. Potentially hazardous costumes or accessories, tainted candy and crossing the street at night without supervision are only a few concerns that should be addressed prior to a child leaving the house.

Children ages 5-14 are four times more likely to be killed while walking on Halloween evening compared with other evenings of the year. Falls are the leading cause of injuries among children on Halloween. Halloween is a fun time for children, but it also is an important time to be extra vigilant for possible safety hazards—so that your children have a fun and safe Halloween.

Beverly Losman, with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Safe Kids Georgia offers these tips to parents who want to make this a safe Halloween:

  • Avoid costumes with excessive flowing fabric, such as capes or sleeves. Loose clothing can easily brush up against a jack-o-lantern or other open flame, causing your child’s costume to catch on fire.
  • Make sure your child’s costume fits properly. Oversized costumes and footwear, such as clown or adult shoes, can cause your child to trip and fall, bringing them home with more scrapes and bruises than candy. Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes.
  • Accessorize with flexible props, such as rubber swords or knives. Inflexible props can cause serious injury in case of a fall.
  • Apply face paint or cosmetics directly to the face, and make sure it is non-toxic and hypoallergenic. A loose-fitting mask can obstruct a child's vision. If a mask is worn, be certain it fits securely. Cut the eyeholes large enough for full vision.
  • If possible, choose a brightly colored costume that drivers can spot easily. If not, decorate his costume with reflective tape and stickers.
  • Always supervise children under the age of 13. Older children should trick-or-treat in a group, and a curfew should be established for them. Attach the name, address and phone number (including area code) of children under age 13 to their clothes in case they get separated from adults. Have each child carry a cell phone or some loose change in case they need to call home or get lost.
  • Children should only go to well-lit houses and remain on the porch within street view. Teach your child to cross the street only at crosswalks or intersections. Make sure he understands never to cross between parked cars and to always look both ways before crossing. Remind your child to stay on the sidewalk, if possible, and to walk facing traffic. Children should walk, not run, and avoid using shortcuts across backyards or alleys. Use flashlights when trick-or-treating in the dark.
  • Remind your child not to eat any treats before you have a chance to examine them thoroughly for holes and punctures. Throw away all treats that are homemade or unwrapped. To help prevent your children from munching, give them a snack or light meal before they go trick-or-treating.
  • Parents of food-allergic children must read every candy label in their child’s Halloween bag to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation for the child.


*If you use any of these tips in your publication, please credit them to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta*

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