In this post, I talk a lot about Illinois but if you'll scroll to the end, you'll find information websites for everything local for all of the states. So if you are not from IL, scroll on down and find what you need!
In my last post, I lamented my personal baggage that has kept me from some of the tasks my local political party needs me to do. In less important campaigns, this might not matter. As someone recently shared with me, "I used to think all I needed to do was vote and everything would be OK." "Au contraire, mon frère!" This time we need boots on the ground--everywhere!
At the meeting which took place at a local bar/restaurant, we found about 12 people around a long table. We were surprised to find there GOP committeemen, two law enforcement men--one who lost the primary but still wanted to be involved in changing things--and one who won the GOP primary and was running for Kane County sheriff. The highway commissioner, a state representative and a local councilman were there plus several others who were serving the party locally. There were only 4 or 5 of us who were new.
The state representative shared with us what goes on behind closed doors in Springfield and how vitally important it will be to change it. We learned that for every $2 Illinois takes in, our present budget puts $3 out and this has been going on for decades. That's one of the reasons why we are in crisis. He spoke of the upcoming budget vote, a redistricting petition and a legislative amendment that would change the face of our state politically.
The local councilman talked about wage increases our city gave to its government employees (a shameful 2% in the face of so many unemployed) and the self-sacrifice of other local entities who were considering a 3% reduction in pay. My favorite quote of the evening was when he reiterated a statement from one of our local politicians: "You don't run a local government like a business." If Illinois HAD run the state like a business instead of a free-for-all carnival these last several decades, we wouldn't be on the precipice of bankruptcy!
The rest of the meeting centered around the power the people have locally and specifically what we can do to get the word out, get signatures and participate in upcoming functions to educate the public.
One thing I learned about was how we can change Springfield. Redistricting the state of Illinois is very important because it determines how a map is drawn--this affects who will run in IL for the next 10 years and yes, it is tied to the census. Did you know that Illinois is the only state that allows lawmakers to draw their own district lines? (See Illinois Fair Map Amendment website.)
The only consistent feature of our dysfunctional state government is the legislature. That is why we started this non-partisan reform effort to reform the General Assembly and put the people back in charge.
The “Bambenek Put-Back Amendment” is a comprehensive package of reforms designed to end the backroom dealings of the General Assembly. Did you know that most legislation is written behind closed doors and is never seen by most legislators (much less the public) before they are required to vote on it? Did you know legislative leaders have complete control over what bills get consider and which ones die? We send 177 legislators to Springfield, but the power is only vested in 4 of them. It’s time to end the gridlock, end the backroom dealing, and end the imperial legislature. It’s time YOU are put back in charge!
Learn more about this here. Everything you need is at this website. Even if you only put your own signature down, it will help. Petitions must be notarized (your local librarian can do this) and sent in by May 3rd.
Something I see as a travesty in the Republican party is the lack of local information. It all seems to be incidental...if you happen to bump into it, you find things out. Websites may abound, but they are obscure. Here is a website it took me almost an hour to find: GOP Local Counties Here is where you'll find your own local Illinois information.
For Illinois government, I found this site invaluable for state and local information on elections. It's the Illinois State Board of Elections.
OTHER STATE'S INFORMATION:
State GOP sites vary so unfortunately you have to be creative in searching for them. For instance, California's GOP has a simple http://www.cagop.com while Florida's is a little more complicated: http://www.gopusa.com/florida/
Another great website is ANYSTREET.ORG
Click on your state, sign up, choose the areas where you'd like to help and you'll be contacted with information about how you can volunteer. It is a relatively new website, so check back often. Become an AnyStreet fan on Facebook.
This is an area of reform for the GOP--COMMUNICATION: Michael Steele, are you listening? Thankfully, conservatives are an industrious, hard-working lot who will do the legwork to find the websites they need. The closest universal state GOP information site I could find is a sub-link attached to the National GOP.
We'll be back to our local meeting and will try out another one next week. We also signed up as volunteers for an upcoming event.
The above information should be enough to get you started. Don't wait--time is of the essence.