UIC's Environmental Event Highlights Campus' Green Initiatives

CHICAGO - April 22, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today marked the 40th annual celebration of Earth Day by taking part in "Ecojamapalooza" at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). The student-organized event features entertainment and educational displays and highlights the university's sustainability initiatives.

"Today is Earth Day, which reminds us of the importance of getting young people excited about helping the environment and instilling a green way of thinking and acting," said Governor Quinn. "An emphasis on environmental education in college can inspire young people to enter into green careers protecting our natural resources and developing new clean energy technologies, which will make Illinois a better place for us all to live."

UIC has taken a number of steps to improve energy efficiency and reduce the school's carbon footprint. Grant Hall and Lincoln Hall were both renovated to utilize geothermal wells and a geothermal heat pump that have significantly reduced energy use. Lincoln Hall also features solar panels to power the building with renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas. This summer, Douglas Hall will be renovated to utilize a geothermal system and solar panels.

The university has also expanded its recycling program, and the program now saves over 36,000 trees and more than $90,000 each year. UIC has installed green roofs, soy-based white roofs, native landscaping, and low-flow toilets and fixtures in an effort to reduce energy and water consumption.

"Ecojamapalooza" is organized by the Green Youth Movement, a student organization that works toward increasing environmental awareness and responsibility. The daylong event features speakers, music and a historical bike tour of the UIC campus.

Earlier this month, Governor Quinn declared the month of April "Earth Month" in Illinois. Governor Quinn serves as the chairman of the Great Lakes Commission, the Illinois River Coordinating Council and the Illinois Green Governments Coordinating Council. Governor Quinn has also signed numerous Executive Orders and statutes into law to ensure greater energy efficiency, use of renewable energy, and protection of Illinois' land, air and water resources.

For more information about Governor Quinn's sustainability initiatives, please visit www.Green.Illinois.gov.


Prepare for Floatzilla - Find it! Loan it! Register it!

If you haven't already heard, something big is coming to the Quad Cities, and it's called FLOATZILLA! Now is the time to prepare for Floatzilla and help put the Quad Cities on the map by breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest canoe and kayak raft!

Do you need a boat? Or maybe have one or more kayaks and/or canoes in storage?  In order to break the record, we need every kayak and canoe (only hard shells, no inflatables) in the Quad Cities - so take inventory and do one of the following as soon as you can:

· Find it -Want to find yourself a boat? Or get rid of the one you have? Or swap it for another model? Then bring yourself and your boat to the River Action Canoe/Kayak/Bike Swap on Saturday, May 1, 2010 from 9am - noon at the Credit Island Lodge, Davenport, located at the end of Credit Island Road. The swap will allow people to sell, purchase or swap canoes and kayaks (and bicycles). If you plan to bring a boat for sale or swap let us know by calling the River Action office at 563-322-2969. Just showing up is okay too!

· Loan it - You have a boat, but are unable to participate? Why not loan it to someone you know who would like to participate, but doesn't have a boat? Don't know anyone like that? Loan it to River Action and they will pair available boats with able bodied record breakers! Call them at 563-322-2969 or e-mail riveraction@riveraction.org

· Register it - If you have a boat and plan to participate in Floatzilla, please register now at www.floatzilla.org or call the River Action office at 563-322-2969.

Floatzilla is an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest canoe and kayak raft scheduled for August 21, 2010 at Sunset Park in Rock Island, Illinois. Floatzilla expects to draw over one-thousand paddlers to the Quad Cities. To break the record, Floatzilla participants will have to link hands, paddles, or hold on to adjacent boats to create and maintain a single interconnected raft for 30 seconds. The current record of 1,104 boats was set on Fourth Lake, Inlet, New York on September 13, 2008.

River Action Inc., a non-profit group dedicated to fostering the environmental, economic and cultural vitality of the Mississippi and its riverfront in the Quad Cities. Please contact Jeff or Mik at 563-322-2969 with any media inquiries. Additional information can be found at www.riveraction.org or www.floatzilla.org.

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Initial Contributions to Leverage Additional Donor Support from Around the World, Public and Private Sectors

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2010 - Today, a core group of finance ministers from the United States, Canada, Spain and South Korea, as well as the leadership of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, met at the U.S. Department of the Treasury to announce an initial contribution of $880 million for a new fund to tackle global hunger and poverty and to discuss ways to foster additional contributions from the public and private sectors around the world.

The new fund, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, will include a U.S. commitment of $475 million, a key element of the Obama Administration's initiative to enhance food security in poor countries. As fellow inaugural fund contributors, Canada pledged $230 million, Spain $95 million, South Korea $50 million and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation $30 million.

"As we work to build a stronger, more stable and balanced global economy, we must renew our commitment to tackle global hunger and poverty," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. "A global economy where more than one billion people suffer from hunger is not a sustainable one. At a time of limited resources and large global challenges, this fund will leverage support from around the world to achieve lasting progress against hunger and bolster agricultural productivity and growth."

The fund was created in response to a call by G-20 leaders in Pittsburgh last year for the World Bank Group to work with interested donors to set up a multi-donor trust fund to help implement some of the $22 billion in pledges made by G-8 leaders at their meeting in L'Aquila.

The United States has already contributed $67 million to the fund and has requested $408 million in President Obama's FY 2011 budget, which is subject to Congressional appropriation. This investment is a key element of the Administration's initiative to enhance food security, raise rural incomes and promote stability in poor countries and will complement the bilateral food security activities of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"With the global number of chronically hungry reaching 1 billion, working together to put an end to the status quo and improve on past efforts is both a moral and economic imperative," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The financial commitments to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program announced today will help address this critical issue in a meaningful and comprehensive way."

With the aim of boosting agricultural assistance to poor countries, the fund will have both public and private sector accounts to provide financing to countries that have robust agriculture strategies. The public sector account will provide aid for better irrigation systems, linking farmers to markets and building post-harvest storage infrastructure. The private sector account will provide innovative financing to increase the commercial value of small and medium-sized agri-businesses and farmers.

"Investing in small farmers is an incredibly effective way to combat hunger and extreme poverty - history has proved it many times," said Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, which has committed $1.5 billion to date to agricultural development. "The launch of this fund is an important step forward, but only a first step. Other countries meeting at the European, G-8 and G-20 summits in June and at the U.N. Summit in September should join the four founding partners and make good on their pledges. If we all sustain focus until the job is done, hundreds of millions of people will lead better lives."

The fund aims to improve the income and food security of poor people in developing countries. It is estimated that the sudden increase in food prices in 2008 drove 100 million people into poverty. Even before the food price spikes, 850 million people in poor countries were chronically malnourished. Agriculture, seen as vital for development, has also been affected by low levels of investment over the past few decades and issues like climate change.

"At a time when practical and effective solutions are required, Canada is pleased to be among the first to help fund such a valuable program," said Jim Flaherty, Canada's Minister of Finance. "Our $230 million contribution builds on Canada's ongoing efforts to improve sustainable agriculture for the world's poorest. It also ensures international institutions have the resources they need to help countries tackle increasingly difficult challenges. None are as basic, as urgent or as unacceptable as global hunger."

"We have to maintain our degree of commitment with the poor," said Elena Salgado, Second Vice-President and Minister of Economy and Finance of Spain. "We cannot forget the 75 percent of the world's poor that live in rural areas. Sustaining food security requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses increasing agriculture productivity, fostering rural development and guaranteeing access to markets, especially for small farmers. Vulnerable populations would benefit from surpluses thus generated, through food safety nets."

"Korea experienced a severe food shortage and poverty at the initial stages of its economic development in the 1960s," said Korean Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-Hyun. "The experiences made Korea recognize the importance of food security. In this regard, we will spare no effort in supporting developing countries' economic development and helping to strengthen their agriculture sector with empathy rather than sympathy, deep down in the heart."

Hosted by the World Bank Group, a number of agencies, including the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, will implement the projects financed by the fund. The fund will embrace a transparent governance structure by ensuring that recipient countries and civil society organizations, as well as donors, have a voice in the operation of the fund.

"Malnutrition and hunger afflicts millions of vulnerable people in Africa who cannot afford to grow and buy sufficient food," said Jean Ping, the Chairman of the African Union Commission. "Last year, the international community pledged resources to help the world's poorest farmers. The establishment of this fund is an important signal that donors intend to meet their commitments and help African countries implement their comprehensive agriculture strategies. We urge other countries to come forward and make good on their promises."

"With a sixth of the world's people going hungry every day, the crisis in food remains very real, posing a severe economic burden on developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa," said World Bank Group President, Robert B. Zoellick. "Co-operation and coordination are vital to boost agricultural productivity and connect farmers to markets, as agriculture is the main lifeline today for about 75 percent of the world's poor."


Jennifer Blaser and Carolyn Johnson; both of Bettendorf, have won High Scholarship Awards in agriculture and life sciences at  Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.  The award is given to undergraduate students who rank in the top 2 percent of their college class.

Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation (GROWTH) is pleased to announce that seven community gardens will receive a total of $4,250 in assistance through the new Rock Island Community Garden Program. The program allows neighborhood organizations to lease vacant parcels of land for purposes of creating and maintaining a community garden space.

Community gardens are pieces of land that are gardened by a group of people, many times from the same neighborhood. Funding for the community gardens will help neighborhood groups establish a new garden or maintain an existing garden. Funds will be used for soil, fencing, water, plants, rain barrels, and other items to make their gardens more beautiful and functional.

The Rauch Family Foundation donated $3,000 towards the effort, Modern Woodmen of America donated $750, and GROWTH contributed $500.

Following are the community gardens:

  • Broadway Victory Garden: Broadway Victory Garden will make 18 plots available and also have an area for children at their garden located at 800 20th Street. The Victory Garden was the pilot community garden developed in partnership with GROWTH. Broadway will use their $1,000 grant to purchase dirt to establish the garden and additional items to support the creation of the garden.
  • Christ Church Cathedral has leased 1419 5th Street and will work with Karen refugees living in the neighborhood to plant Asian vegetables. The $750 grant will help establish this new garden.
  • Community Caring Conference:  The CCC garden is located at 1501-1503 8th Avenue. Ten plots will be available and participants will come from the West End Neighborhood Association. The $500 grant will help establish this new garden including purchasing a rain barrel, fencing, picnic table, and shed.
  • Greenbush Neighborhood: Greenbush Neighbors will offer garden plots at a new community garden located at 2800 7th Avenue. The $500 grant will help establish this new garden.
  • Old Chicago Community Organic Garden Association: This garden is located at 1116-1124 4th Avenue. Twelve plots are available and organic gardening will be practiced. The $500 grant will be used to purchase gardening tools and fencing.
  • Rock Island County Area Project: RICAP has a lot at 935 29th Avenue and offers the garden plots at no cost to gardeners. Twenty-five garden plots are available to residents of South Rock Island Township. The $500 grant will help purchase fencing for the garden.
  • St. Joseph the Worker House: Two to three plots are available at 1920 and 1924 9th Avenue. The garden serves and provides food for the homeless women and children living as a part of the Worker House Transitional Living program. The $500 grant will be used to purchase rain barrels, garden tools, plants, and mulch.

Community gardens have many benefits for communities including:

  • returning unused or vacant parcels of land into thriving gardens with purpose and beauty
  • improved quality of life for participants tending to the garden and receiving the garden's harvest
  • a catalyst for community development
  • stimulates social interaction and encourages self-reliance
  • beautifies communities
  • produces nutritious food
  • reduces family food budgets
  • conserves resources
  • creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education
  • preserves green space
  • provides opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections are a way for people to come together

Includes Funding for VA in National Health Service Corps, a Key Braley Effort

Washington, DC?Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) voted today to pass the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, a bill that provides support for family who care for disabled veterans, enhances health services for 1.8 million women veterans, expands mental health services and access to care in rural areas and relieves financial burdens for veterans who are catastrophically disabled. The legislation passed today includes a key provision, championed by Braley in the House, to include Veterans Administration facilities in the National Health Service Corps.

"In my office there is no higher priority than helping veterans and military families receive the compensation, benefits, and other services they have earned," Braley said. "I'm proud that the bill we passed today includes language reflective of the Veterans Access to Care Act, a bill I introduced to make VA facilities eligible for National Health Service Corps funding. The VA is facing an increased and unprecedented demand for medical services today as aging World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans require more medical care and thousands of veterans are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious physical and mental health needs.

"These key provisions in the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act will allow the VA to recruit more qualified mental health professionals, doctors, dentists and nurses to treat our nation's veterans by competing for National Health Service Corps funding and ensuring our veterans have access to the care they have not only earned, but also the high-quality care they deserve."

The legislation passed today will direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to transfer $20 million to the Department of Health and Human Services to include facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs on the list of facilities eligible for assignment of participants in the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program.

Additionally, the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act will provide support services to family and other caregivers of veterans, including health care and a stipend for caregivers living with severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, education about how to be a better caregiver, counseling and mental health services and respite care for family and other caregivers.

The bill also improves health care for veterans living in rural areas by expanding transportation for veterans to local VA hospitals and clinics through VA grants to local Veterans Service Organizations and expands VA health care services for women, providing up to seven days of care for newborn children and enhancing treatment for victims of sexual trauma.

For more information, visit http://Braley.House.gov.


Press Conference in the Capitol Building will Discuss Goals of the Muslim Community

(CHICAGO, 4/21/10) Over 1,200 Muslims from across Illinois will be assembling in Springfield tomorrow for the second annual Illinois Muslim ACTION! Day (IMAD). Muslim youth and adults will ride buses to the state capitol to meet with Governor Pat Quinn and legislators. Over 20 American Muslim high school students will also be serving as Senate Pages.

Participants will be advocating for policies that will help Illinois' families and most vulnerable residents. Illinois Muslim ACTION! Day aims to address four main issues:

1. Equitable Access to Healthy Food in the inner cities
2. Foreclosure Prevention and Counseling
3. Introduction of Arabic into the Illinois public schools
4. Preserving Immigrant Integration Services such as English and Citizenship classes

A press conference in the Capitol Building will discuss these goals in greater detail:

WHAT: Press Conference on Illinois Muslim Action! Day
WHERE: Mezzanine Press Room, Illinois Capitol Building
WHEN: Thursday, April 22nd, 2010, 10:00am

"All Politics is local. In order to affect policy we need to work locally first and build strong relationships with our legislators," said Dr. Zaher Sahloul, chair of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago - who are leading the effort. "We are encouraging Illinois Muslims to contact their legislators and ask for a meeting on April 22 to listen to our concerns. They are elected to serve all of us. They are accountable to their constituency. This is our chance to reflect the great values of unity, solidarity, advocating for good and abhorring evil."

"Being civically engaged is an important milestone the Muslim communities of Illinois have worked hard to reach" emphasized CAIR-Chicago Government Affairs Coordinator Reema Ahmad. "It is not only a need, but a responsibility for Muslim Americans to be active participants in the process of government that impacts our daily lives. Meeting with our elected officials to convey the issues we care about and exhibiting our willingness to work hard for these causes is a critical step towards greater civic involvement from current and future generations of Muslim Americans."

With its estimated over half a million Muslim residents, Illinois continues to serve as a crucial hub for mobilizing the emergent American Muslim community. Illinois Muslim ACTION! Day signifies the Muslim community's integration and increased participation in American politics. Through proactive initiatives such as this, the American Muslim community endeavors to move from the fringes of the American political narrative, to the forefront of the dialogue.

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There's Still Time to Respond to Neighborhood Census Workers

SPRINGFIELD - April 20, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today encouraged individuals who haven't responded to their 2010 U.S. Census questionnaire to get counted. As of April 15, 73 percent of Illinoisans had mailed in their response cards for the Census. Friday was the last day Illinois residents could mail in census forms, but Governor Quinn encouraged those who hadn't yet responded to welcome the census workers who will soon be knocking on their doors.

"During an economic downturn, it's more important than ever that we take advantage of federal dollars available for schools, public works projects and other critical needs," said Governor Quinn. "Being counted by your neighborhood census worker is one way to do your part to make sure Illinois is not left behind."

Illinois is currently tied for the sixth highest response rate across nation. Four Illinois municipalities (over 50,000) are among the top 50 cities in the nation for response rates: Orland Park, Wheaton, Arlington Heights and Tinley Park.

Governor Quinn stressed that providing family data for the census is safe, secure and confidential. Every Census Bureau employee must pass a background check before being hired and must swear under oath to protect the confidentiality of census responses. Any employee who reveals personal census information is subject to severe penalties, including a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment of up to five years, or both. Finally, individual census data can't be released publicly until after 72 years.

If a resident isn't home when a census worker knocks on their door, they will find a door hanger featuring a phone number, which they can call to schedule a visit and be counted.

Governor Quinn noted that Illinois is currently at the same response percentage as the state achieved overall in the 2000 census. Both in 2000 and 1990, Illinois lost a congressional seat because the census showed a smaller population.

The Governor was joined at today's Census Rally in the State Capitol rotunda by Frank Smith, Earnfare Director for East St. Louis Township; Sandy Smith, Director of the Office of Community Relations, City of Springfield; Danny Stover, Marion County CCC Chair; and Mary H. Schaafsma, True Census Count Project Manager for the League of Women Voters of Illinois.

How to Identify a Census taker

  • They must present an ID Badge which contains: U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and expiration date.

  • They will provide you with supervisor contact information and/or the regional office phone number for verification, if asked.

  • They will provide you with a letter from the director of the Census Bureau on U.S. Census Bureau letterhead.

  • They may be carrying a laptop and/or bag with a Census Bureau logo.

Ensuring your Confidentiality

  • By law, no other government agency, law enforcement agency, national security agency, court, or anyone else can access your responses -- not anyone for any reason.

  • No law overrides the confidentiality law that protects personal information collected by the Census Bureau, or can force the Census Bureau to share census responses.

  • Only after 72 years have passed, individual records of a census can be released. (This figure was chosen based on the average lifetime of Americans some years ago.)  So, in 2082, if current laws continue, the individual records of the 2010 census will be released for genealogical research. This has happened for several decades now.  The 1930 census is the latest census to be so released

  • This year's 10 question form only asks how many people live at the address, whether the home is rented or owned and whether it has a mortgage, and the telephone number of the residence. It asks seven additional questions about each individual at the address, including name, sex, age and date of birth, race and whether the person is of Hispanic origin or not, and whether that person sometimes lives or stays at another address.

(Courtesy U.S. Census Bureau, Chicago Regional Census Center)

Kids of all ages are invited to Rivermont Collegiate's spring play: Tales from Five Continents! This children's play will take you on a spellbinding adventure from Africa to Asia as a mysterious storyteller weaves the tales from a Cherokee fable which explains the bringing of the stories into the world.

Rivermont students in grades 9-12 bring these humorous and touching stories to life in a culturally enriching style that will resonate with you long after the curtain closes.

Join us Saturday, April 24th and Sunday, April 25th at 2:00 p.m. in the auditorium on the Rivermont campus.  Tickets are $5 at the door.  Rivermont Collegiate is located directly off 18th Street, behind K&K Hardware in Bettendorf.  For more information, contact Rivermont at (563) 359-1366 or visit us online at www.rvmt.org.  This event is open to the community!


WASHINGTON - Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) are urging the Senate to act on legislation they introduced today to strengthen America's energy independence and create jobs through the production of domestically produced biofuels.

The bipartisan bill would extend, through 2015, the volumetric ethanol excise tax credit, or VEETC, which is also known as the blenders' credit; the small ethanol producers tax credit; the cellulosic producers tax credit; and the ethanol import tariff.

The senators said that extension of these policies is the right thing to do because biofuels offer an alternative to foreign oil and generate economic activity in the United States.  Today, ethanol comprises nearly 10 percent of the U.S. fuel supply.  Ethanol produced in the Midwest replaces oil from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria.  Ethanol is good for rural economies, and a recent study found that the failure to extend the VEETC credit and the secondary tariff would result in the loss of 112,000 jobs nationwide and reduce ethanol production by nearly 40 percent.  Iowa would lose the most jobs at nearly 30,000.

Grassley said the lapse of the separate tax credit for biodiesel, which expired at the end of 2009, has cost 29,000 clean-energy jobs and put 23,000 more at risk.  "We can't risk a repeat performance with ethanol, where 112,000 jobs are at stake."  Of the ethanol tariff, Grassley said, "the United States already provides generous duty-free access to imported ethanol under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, but the CBI cap has never once been fulfilled.  In fact, last year, only 25 percent of it was even used by Brazil and other countries."

Conrad said, "Our country is in serious danger because of skyrocketing energy costs.  This growing crisis demands urgent action. We must be committed to coming together in a bipartisan way to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, while aggressively pursuing alternative sources of energy such as biofuels. Extending these tax credits is a step in the right direction."

Grassley and Conrad are longtime advocates for tax incentives for biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.  Grassley is Ranking Member of the tax-writing Finance Committee.  Conrad is a senior member of the Finance Committee and Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.  Grassley is a senior member of the Budget Committee.

The bill they introduced today - the Grow Renewable Energy from Ethanol Naturally Jobs Act of 2010, or the GREEN Jobs Act of 2010 -- is cosponsored by Senators John Thune (R-SD), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Tim Johnson (D-SD).

Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL).