Monday, October 18, 2010

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley is continuing his effort to protect Medicare and Medicaid dollars, this time by demanding greater transparency from program officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), regarding possible waste, fraud and abuse of program resources by outside contractors.

In a follow up inquiry to CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, Grassley said the agency should release data about how much the agency is paying contractors to identify and investigate potential fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and stop working to find excuses why the information about how public dollars are used should be kept secret.

"Government officials are stewards of tax dollars and they have a responsibility to be transparent and forthright about decisions and actions involving public money," Grassley said.  "That stewardship includes holding contractors accountable if they fail to deliver.  And, in this case like most others, transparency can help establish accountability."

Click here to read Grassley's letter October 15 letter to CMS Administrator Donald Berwick.

Click here to read Grassley's October 6 press release regarding the initial letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and CMS Administrator Donald Berwick seeking accountability.



Former FBI Agent and President of the Chicago Crime Commission Will Help Enhance Transparency, Ensure Toll Dollars Are Spent Wisely

DOWNERS GROVE, IL - Governor Pat Quinn today announced the appointment of James W. Wagner as the first-ever Illinois Tollway Inspector General. Last July, the Governor signed Senate Bill 3118 to create a new Office of the Illinois Tollway Inspector General to oversee operations and investigate ethics violations not covered in the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.

"The creation of this new office has set the standard for how all government agencies should approach internal oversight," said Governor Pat Quinn. "Jim Wagner is the right person for this important position and we're lucky to have him on board."

Mr. Wagner will investigate claims of wrongdoing or mismanagement in the day-to-day operations of the Illinois Tollway, including those involving fraud, waste, abuse and misconduct. He will also work to ensure that toll dollars are spent appropriately.

"Increasing transparency has been one of my top priorities since I started at the Tollway last April," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. "The appointment of Jim Wagner is just another example of how serious we are about being 100 percent accountable to our customers and the public we serve."

Mr. Wagner will serve a five-year term and have jurisdiction over the agency's officers, employees, vendors and others doing business with the Tollway. Additionally, Wagner will have subpoena power and submit bi-annual reports to the Governor, General Assembly and Tollway Board of Directors.

Before joining the Tollway, Mr. Wagner served as President of the Chicago Crime Commission and Deputy Administrator of Investigations for the Illinois Gaming Board. Prior to those positions, Wagner worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation for more than 30 years, serving as Special Agent and Supervisor and Program Coordinator for the Organized Crime Section.

Mr. Wagner has been serving as the Tollway's General Manager of Investigations and Audit since January 2010. He will continue to serve in that position until his appointment and the law creating the Office of the Illinois Tollway Inspector General become effective on January 1, 2011.

At Governor Quinn's direction, the Illinois Tollway has made strides to increase transparency and accountability, promote green and sustainable operations and contribute to the state's efforts to create jobs and foster economic growth in Northern Illinois.

"The Board of Directors is pleased to have such a strong leadership team in place at the Tollway.  We are also grateful to Senators Garrett and Schoenberg and other legislators who supported the creation of this office," said Illinois Tollway Board Chair Paula Wolff. "With Jim's able assistance, we will work to restore public confidence in the agency and meet the challenge Governor Quinn laid out for the Tollway?to be 'squeaky clean'."

About the Illinois Tollway

The Illinois Tollway is a user-fee system that receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations. The agency maintains and operates 286 miles of interstate tollways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois, including the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355), the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80).


Sign Language Play

On October 28, 29 and 30 at 7:30 PM, Moline High School Theatre will be performing a remarkable play by Suzan Zeder, entitled "The Taste of Sunrise." The following weekend, Rock Island High School will be performing the sequel to the play, "Mother Hicks."  So?as both our plays contain themes about creating community?our lives will imitate art as we find community between our two schools.

As if this collaboration wasn't enough?Suzan Zeder?one of America's leading playwrights in Theatre for Young Audiences---has decided to attend the opening night performance of Taste of Sunrise.  She said that our story has captured her heart.  She will be doing workshops with the students and also host a staged reading of the third play in this trilogy, title, The Edge of Peace.
When Suzan Zeder wrote Mother Hicks, she includes a scene with an adult Tuc, who is deaf.  He says, "You see all the things I cannot do because I am deaf.  But you don't see that which I can do.  I can sing with rivers.  I can see the sharp sting of honey and I can taste the sunrise."

The moment these words flew off her fingertips into the page, she knew Tuc needed his own story.  This is it.

Politically, Tuc's story examines the hardships experienced by deaf people before the use of sign language was widely accepted. Socially, the play explores what it means to be an outcast.  Three of the leading characters all become outcasts in some way?a deaf boy, an African American female living on her own, and a teenage mom who doesn't know where she fits in.  The leading role of Tuc is played by Max Molina, who is part of Moline's Wilson Junior High School's hearing-impaired program.  His friend Maizie, played by Jenna Pautsch, is hearing but has deaf parents, so she is part of both the hearing and deaf worlds.

Audiences will find it remarkable to know that the entire cast learned sign language just for this production.  They spent their entire summer taking hour-long ASL (American Sign Language) classes at MHS twice weekly in preparation for this play, which will be completely bilingual -- both spoken and signed.  As the play unfolds, "shadow" characters will tell the story with words and signs. This is a powerful play, and it will be an unforgettable experience for all who see it.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - For many people, autumn weather brings a welcomed time of the year. Adding to the pleasure of the season are the vibrant colors displayed in nature. Leaf pigment, the physics of light, weather conditions, plant species, and geography all play important roles in the color of autumn.
Leaf Pigment and Light

Thanks to the physics of sunlight striking pigments in leaves, we see various leaf colors throughout the year. Leaf pigments play a crucial role in the colors we see. Chlorophylls, carotenoids, and anthocyanins present in a leaf help determine what color the leaf will display.

The pigment that gives leaves their green color is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is used in photosynthesis which is the process that uses sunlight to transform carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates (sugars) that fuel tree growth. During the spring and summer, with more hours of sunlight and warmer temperatures, this photosynthetic process is most active thus leaves are green.

The pigment that gives leaves their green color is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is used in photosynthesis which is the process that uses sunlight to transform carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates (sugars) that fuel tree growth. During the spring and summer, with more hours of sunlight and warmer temperatures, this photosynthetic process is most active thus leaves are green.

Unlike chlorophyll and carotenoids which are present in leaf cells throughout the growing season, anthocyanins are produced in autumn. Anthocyanins give color to familiar fruits such as cranberries, red apples, cherries, and plums. These complex water soluble compounds in leaf cells react with excess stored plant sugars and exposure to sunlight creating vivid pink, red, and purple leaves. A mixture of red anthocyanin pigment and yellow carotene often results in the bright orange color seen in some leaves.
Weather and Color

Weather conditions that occur before and during the decline of chlorophyll production can affect the color that leaves may display. Carotenoids are always present so the yellow and gold colors are the least affected by weather.

Colors most affected by weather are the red tones created by anthocyanin. On warm sunny days lots of sugar is produced in the leaves. Trees exposed to brighter sunlight generate the reaction between the anthocynanins and the excess sugar creating the bright red hue.

Cooler temperatures cause the veins in the leaves to gradually close preventing the sugars from moving out which preserves the red tones. Thus a succession of warm sunny days and cool crisp nights can paint the most spectacular display of color.

The level of moisture in the soil can also affect autumn color. A severe summer drought can delay the onset of color change by weeks. Ideal conditions for producing the most brilliant colors are a warm wet spring, favorable summer weather, and sunny fall days with the cooler temperatures at night.
Species and Geography

The genetics of different tree species help determine what color the leaves will turn. Color depends on the levels of iron, magnesium, phosphorous, or sodium in the tree and the acidity of the chemicals in the leaves. Some tree species displaying yellow foliage are ash, birch, beech, elm, hickory, poplar, and aspen. Red leaves are seen most often in dogwood, sweetgum, sumac, and black tupelo trees. Some oaks and maples present orange leaves while others range in color from red to yellow, depending on the specific species.

Deciduous forests and trees, with their many broad leaves that change color almost in unison, display the most noticeable fall color. Evergreen species also display fall colors, only slowly and gradually. The appearance of autumn color starts as early as mid September in more northern latitudes and moves southward, reaching its peak in October, but color continues to appear in more southern regions and higher elevations in the west throughout November.

Only a few places in the world have the combination of tree species and climatic conditions necessary for the most vivid fall foliage. Some of the best locations with broadleaved deciduous trees and favorable conditions for brilliant fall color are:

* Northeastern U.S. (New England)
* Southeastern Canada
* Adirondack, Appalachian, Smokey, and Rocky Mountain Regions
* Select areas around Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco.

Remember that cooler, higher elevations will display color before lower, warmer geographic regions.

Even with these facts, the timing, location, and intensity of autumn color are not completely predictable. To truly experience the colorful display, you must be adventurous. There are many states with thousands of scenic byways designed to focus on the palettes of autumn color. So even if you live in a region that does not produce an array of color, take an autumn vacation and explore nearby states that do. For up to date regional information, you may contact the U.S. Forest Service Fall Color Hotline at 1-800-354-4595 or on the internet at

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), headquartered in Champaign, Ill., is a nonprofit organization supporting tree care research and education around the world. As part of ISA's dedication to the care and preservation of shade and ornamental trees, it offers the only internationally-recognized certification program in the industry. For more information, or to contact a local ISA Certified Arborist, visit

Thanks to each of you who turned out for Ballet Quad Cities' first Trivia Night to support our anti- bullying program that will be taken into all of the Quad City schools. All of the moneys raised will go directly to our Ugly Duckling ballet that mirrors the message of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program supported by the Davenport Schools Foundation Great Minds. A special thank you goes out to Ellen Reilly for preparing the questions and then emceeing the evening. She did an awesome job, which set the tone for the great time that was had by everyone. Also thanks to St. Ambrose University's Teacher Education Program Honor Society, Iota Omega Kappa Delta Pi and Rogalski Center for providing an efficient staff and great space to host our event.

To learn more about our anti-bullying program, please visit our website or call our office at (309) 786.3779.

We can stop bullying in our schools, but it will take effort on everyone's part! Get educated and learn what you can do today by visiting for information from the world's foremost bullying prevention program.

Joedy Cook, CEO, Ballet Quad Cities

SPRINGFIELD, IL (10/15/2010)(readMedia)-- Friends and family cheered as the 18 newest heroes of the Illinois Army National stepped onto the armory drill floor. The Bilateral Embedded Support Team (BEST) A5 returned from their roughly nine-month deployment in Afghanistan Oct. 15 at Camp Lincoln in Springfield.

During their deployment they worked with Polish Land Forces as part of Task Force White Eagle in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Task Force White Eagle saw more combat than any other Polish military force since World War II.

The Soldiers supported Polish military operations and improved their level of force protection and operational abilities, said Col. Tracey Nelson of Springfield, commander of the BEST A5.

"The impact made in the area of responsibility allows our follow on units to improve on a more manageable situation than the one we arrived in a few short months ago," said Nelson.

The Soldiers were be greeted by loved ones, the American Red Cross, the Patriot Riders and the unit's friends and fellow Soldiers.

"I'm glad to be home," said Maj. Chuck Kitson of Springfield. "It's indescribable; words can't express the appreciation we have for everybody who put this together for us."

The BEST A5 return home marked another successful deployment of the Illinois National Guard from an ongoing operation overseas.



The Phoenix Art Gallery is setting up an exhibit and sale of  Miniature paintings.

Medium:  Oil, Acrylic, Water, Pastel, Pencil or Mixed Media.

Sizes:  Maximum size is 11 inches in width or height. This INCLUDES frames if any.

Price: Please list the target optimum price and price margins along with your submissions.

Submission: Images of  the art can only be sent as cds or  photograph images.  Email attachments will not be opened.

Local artists can bring their paintings in personally if they wish.

Please send 1) your resume and 2)artist's statement, the vision and scope of  your art along with your submissions.

A copy may be sent by email, but not as an attachment, in anticipation of your cds or photograph images. Please include this in your cd or photograph submission.

Please note:  we need BOTH your resume and artist's statements.

Cost of  submission:  Free.

Date Deadline for final submission:  November 9th. 2010

Please submit to:

PHOENIX Art Gallery

1530 Fifth Avenue. Moline.Illinois:  61265 Tel: 309-736-0006


Or contact the Owner:

Owner and director: Narveen Aryaputri


(Costa Mesa, CA. October 15, 2010)   Hurley is now offering a very special and a fashion and music collaboration bringing the best of both worlds together.   Available NOW through Sunday October 24, 2010 fans can buy ANY Weezer Hurley product at selected PacSun stores and get the new Weezer album titled "Hurley" for FREE!


The collection available exclusively at select PacSun stores includes limited edition gear such as Weezer inspired men's and women's wovens, t-shirts, and hoodies. Reaching out directly to their fans, the band will offer unique access, new music and an exclusive line of clothing making

for a perfect convergence between artists and fans.


The clothes, designed especially to capture the casual and comfortable style of America's indie rock heroes, make a perfect addition to Hurley's beloved collection of youth apparel. The collection reflects a simple color pallet based on a quirky, yet classic green tone, that feels both retro and futuristic all at the same time. Hurley designed every day items, with the creativity and freedom of Weezer's music and the Hurley lifestyle in mind that make these pieces feel fun and new.


This collaboration and contest unites music, clothes, and user generated designs into a perfect storm of excitement for all Weezer fans!


Stay tuned to and Go to for participating doors

WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley, along with Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas and Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, has sent a letter to defense Secretary  Robert Gates questioning whether a new loophole has been created in the administrative discharge system which results in erroneous discharges of members of the Armed Forces who are experiencing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), instead of making sure they receive medical care worthy of their service and sacrifice.

"The men and women in America's armed services put their lives on the line day in and day out for our freedom," Grassley said.  "We worked to close a loophole where many of these honorable service members were being discharged without medical and disability benefits for supposedly pre-existing personality disorders that may in fact have been undiagnosed PTSD or TBI due to service in combat. Now it appears that a new loophole may have taken its place and we need to get to the bottom of this situation so our service members are treated fairly."

Click here to view Grassley's letter to Secretary Gates.

Click here to read the October 20th, 2009 press release regarding a letter Grassley, along with Senators Kit Bond, Blanche Lincoln and Sam Brownback, sent to President Barack Obama to renew his commitment to ensure that returning service members are provided medical care from the Department of Veterans Affairs for what may have previously been diagnosed as a pre-existing personality disorder instead of combat-related post traumatic stress disorder.

Click here to read the August 5th, 2009 press release regarding Grassley's letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee advocating for legislation that guarantees that PTSD and TBI are diagnosed and those diagnoses are considered in any future discharge proceeding.

Click here to read the June 22nd, 2007 press release regarding a letter to Secretary Gates sent by Grassley and a group of bipartisan senators, including Senator Obama, calling for an independent review of the personality disorder discharge process in the Armed Forces.



Sends letter to Securities and Exchange Commission, urging crackdown on bonuses

Waterloo, Iowa - Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) sent a letter today to Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Schapiro expressing outrage over the recently announced excessive Wall Street compensation and benefits.  This week, it was reported that Wall Street firms are expected to award $144 billion in bonuses to their executives.

"While our economy is still struggling to get back on its feet, I believe that such excessive compensation in an industry that contributed to our financial collapse is unconscionable," states Braley's letter.  The letter also states, "I firmly believe these firms could put these funds to better use as investment capital to assist small businesses, for job creation, and to put our economy back on track."

Braley urged Chairwoman Schapiro to expedite strict regulations to protect shareholders, consumers and investors, by cracking down on these excessive bonuses.  Under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which Braley supported, the SEC is instructed to create regulations that give shareholders more say over executive bonuses, increase the transparency of those bonuses, and allow for companies and shareholders to recover excessive executive bonuses under certain circumstances.

Braley's letter is below:

October 15, 2010

The Honorable Mary L. Schapiro


Security and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549

Dear Chairwoman Schapiro,

I'm writing to express serious concerns over recent media reports suggesting Wall Street firms are on track to provide $144 billion in compensation and benefits, which is a record high for a second consecutive year.  While our economy is still struggling to find its feet, I believe that such excessive compensation in an industry that contributed to our financial collapse is unconscionable.

For the past several years, I have urged Secretary Geithner and the Administration to crack down on excessive compensation and provide accountability for the use of taxpayer funds.  I've also called on Attorney General Holder to investigate the potential criminal misuse of funds by AIG to provide bonuses to many of their most senior executives.  In Congress, I have worked hard to provide accountability for consumers and investors and I supported strong regulations in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to provide transparency and executive accountability to their investors as a means of reigning in risky decisions in pursuit of short term profits.

With the authority under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, I urge you to expedite the issuance of strict regulations to protect investors and consumers and ensure that any compensation provided by these firms is warranted and not harmful to investor or consumers.  Furthermore, as some of the drivers of the economic collapse, I firmly believe these firms could put these funds to better use as investment capital to assist small businesses, for job creation, and to put our economy back on track.

Once again, I urge you to expedite the regulations contained in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and to ensure strong protections for shareholders, consumers and investors from such irresponsible executive compensation.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Bruce Braley

Member of Congress