Archive for jlcrain

Michelle Obama: Wife, Mother, Attorney, Public Servant and First Lady

Before she was gracing the covers of magazines and hosting international heads of state, First Lady Michelle Obama was a working woman balancing a career, raising two children and supporting a husband in Congress.

Mrs. Obama grew up on the South Side of Chicago but later went on to study sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1988, she joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin.

As the first African-American first lady this country has seen, Mrs. Obama has won the American public over with her warm smile, elegance, poise and intelligence. While President Obama has had a tough time tackling such issues as healthcare reform, high unemployment rates, and multiple wars abroad, Mrs. Obama isn’t simply sitting on the sidelines but she has taken on a few causes of her own.

Over the past four decades, obesity rates have soared among American children of all age groups, increasing nearly five-fold among those ages 6-11. Today, nearly 25 million children are overweight or obese. Some experts believe that if obesity among children continues to increase, our current generation of children will become the first in American history to live shorter lives than their parents.

Mrs. Obama has taken on the cause of fighting childhood obesity through her initiative, Let’s Move! The program, launched in February 2010, is a comprehensive initiative, dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation. Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let’s Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years, giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices.

“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake,” said Mrs. Obama. “By investing in even one grocery store you might be able to revitalize just one neighborhood. By building more sidewalks [today] you can reduce health costs and budget strain tomorrow.”

Read more

Sign Up Today for the Champaign Political Campaign College

Register Today for Our Springfield Campaign College

Sign Up Today for Our Rockford Political Campaign College

Guest Column by Lt. Gov Sheila Simon: Ethics Reform on the Fall Menu

Roasted turkey and ethics reform. These are two items on my menu this fall season.

As a member of the Illinois Reform Commission, I helped cook up some ethics reform in the aftermath of Governor Rod Blagojevich’s arrest in December 2008.

We passed the first-ever caps on campaign contributions in Illinois and stronger freedom of information laws. But many of our recommendations were too disruptive to politics as usual, and shelved.

With Blagojevich set for sentencing in October on 17 criminal counts of corruption, now is time to renew our efforts at ethics reform.

The place to start is with the pocketbooks of our political leaders. If you hold elected office or make decisions on where tax dollars are spent, you should be required by law to report your sources of income.

That means your government salary and money from other jobs, government contracts, rental properties and market investments.

Citizens need real information to judge for themselves if elected officials are serving the public interest, or self interest. The ways our laws are written now, the public cannot tell.

The second step is to make sure the information is easy for people to find. It should go online in a searchable database like the one that Cook County Clerk David Orr launched this summer, and be available at no cost to watchdog groups and taxpayers alike.

Critics say this would scare too many people away from public service — that you shouldn’t hold the dog catcher, the school board member and the governor to the same standard of scrutiny.

In Illinois, we have no shortage of people looking for government work or running for office. And if we scare off a few ethically skittish candidates, so be it.

Citizens should know if their dog catcher is a double dipper, if their school board member is a textbook consultant, and — as we learned in our most recent courtroom drama — if the governor has income from people wanting to do business with the state.

Honest and open government should be a given for hardworking taxpayers anywhere in our country.

Unfortunately for us in Illinois, where two out of our last three governors have been convicted of corruption charges in federal court, the public does not live with that expectation.

We have come to expect too little.

In the post-Blagojevich and post-Ryan era, we must demand more from our leaders. When we face difficult budgets and tough choices about how to use scarce tax dollars, we ought to expect fair dealing.

When I was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor in January, I pledged to make government more accountable, accessible and transparent.

Within 10 days of taking my oath of office, I released a personal financial statement showing my husband’s and my net worth.

Three months later, my senior staff provided public financial disclosure, beyond what is required by law.

These are easy steps to earn the public’s trust that we will provide honest services.

That’s why I’m working with the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and Legislative Inspector General Thomas Homer to apply similar public disclosures to other elected officials.

A jury decided this summer that former Gov. Blagojevich deserved a guilty sentence.

Now, with his sentencing coming this fall, we need to decide that we deserve better. We deserve regular access to detailed financial records of our elected officials.

Let’s cook our turkeys in the kitchen, not in the courthouse.

Sheila Simon is the Illinois Lieutenant Governor and a former member of the Southern Illinois University School of Law faculty. A slightly altered version of this blog post appeared in the Chicago-Sun Times and Huffington Post.

Women’s Health: Where do GOP hopefuls stand?

As Americans around the country worry about a myriad of issues from the unemployment rate and home foreclosures to worker’s rights and gun control, women should ask the question: where do GOP presidential hopefuls stand when it comes to women’s health issues?

Women typically take the lead in maintaining the health of their families: scheduling regular check-ups for their children, making sure their husbands and children eat properly and caring for elderly parents. So it’s imperative that they themselves have access to quality healthcare and resources.

Earlier this year officials for NARAL Pro-Choice America expressed that none of the current GOP presidential candidates would be beneficial to women’s reproductive health.

In addition to stating that they are against abortion rights, most of the Republican and Tea Party contenders have gone on record stating they’re in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood. Some of them have also voted against or been vocally opposed to any kind of federal funding for contraception.

“We can’t afford to give up the good fight until the day Roe v. Wade is nothing but a shameful footnote in our nation’s history books,” Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) stated.

Read more

IDW Salutes Lake Forest State Senator Susan Garrett

Illinois Democratic Women salutes the hard work and service of State Sen. Susan Garrett (D-29)! Earlier this month the state senator from Lake Forest announced she would not seek re-election in 2012.

“I woke up one morning and thought, I don’t want to be a career politician,” Garrett told the Lake Forester.  “I’ve done a lot, I’ve worked hard — it’s probably a good time for me to move on.”

While we will sincerely miss her service in the Illinois General Assembly, we agree that she has done a lot during her years of service.

Garrett began her journey in Illinois politics in 1998 when she was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives.  In 2002, she was elected state senator and earned re-election twice.

Read more

Sign Up for Our Wisconsin Recall Phone Banks

The Wisconsin State Senate recall election is in under one week. Not only is this an opportunity to beat back the right wing, Tea Party driven agenda that has made it their mission to hurt working men and women, seniors, the poor, women of all ages and the middle class, its an opportunity to turn the national dialogue favorably toward Democrats.

Have you had enough of their radical agenda? Are you tired of Tea Party Republicans like Rep. Joe Walsh driving the national dialogue?

We are. So, we decided to do something about it. We are hosting phone banks across the state to make Get Out the Vote calls for the Democrats running in the WI State Senate recall election next Tuesday.

We’ve seen the polls. The Democrats in Wisconsin are close. And, we need to do everything we can to bring them across the (victory) finish line on Tuesday.

Join us in defeating this radical Tea Party agenda, help WI Democrats claim control the State Senate and begin the process of taking back our government.

Sign up here to join us at one of our phone banks!