July Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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July Media Tips

‘$2 Billion Brownie’ to Tempt Lawmakers at Bake Sale for School Funding

It won’t be decorated with gold flakes or presented on a Swarovski-studded platter, but the $2 billion brownie available at this Thursday’s “Billion Dollar Bake Sale” at the State Capitol will be loaded with more than chocolatey goodness: students, parents and educators will be “selling” the brownie and other high-priced pastries to send lawmakers the message that education takes a serious investment, not pocket change.

In addition to brownies with $2 billion price tags – equivalent to the cost of fully funding the per-pupil spending amount recommended by the state’s Education Funding Advisory Board – hungry legislators will be able to “buy” cookies for $498 million, the state’s share of special education needs. Students from schools across the state will deliver these and other treats to lawmakers’ offices. A+ Illinois, a coalition advocating for comprehensive, statewide school funding reform, is organizing the bake sale as part of its ongoing campaign to urge elected officials to reach consensus on a budget that will support public schools not only for FY08, but for the long term.

The “Billion Dollar Bake Sale” will be held in the State Capitol Rotunda on Thursday, July 19, and feature a news conference at 11 a.m., as the Illinois Senate convenes a set of daily hearings on such issues as education spending, special education costs, and improving student achievement through quality and accountability standards.

For more information concerning A+ Illinois’ efforts and recommendations, please contact Clare Fauke, A+ Illinois communications coordinator, at 312.863.6012. Learn more about A+ Illinois on the campaign's Web site .

Playbook for Redeveloping Joliet ’s 4 th and 5 th District’s now Available

Joliet makes headlines year after year as one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities. While many working families are flocking to Joliet’s expanding West Side – due in part to Will County’s booming distribution and logistics industry – neighborhoods on the city’s East Side, Joliet’s historic core, have yet to fully recover from major industrial and retail losses and a stagnant housing market. The good news is these communities, home to some 81,000 residents, are close to having a comprehensive reinvestment plan, now available in draft form on the City of Joliet ’s Web site .

The draft Joliet Quality of Life Plan is the result of a community-led process advised by a team of consultants and nonprofit planners, including MPC’s Community Building Initiative . Unwilling to stand by and watch their neighborhoods decline, concerned citizens in Joliet ’s 4 th and 5 th districts formed the Quality of Life Task Force. In partnership with the City of Joliet, the task force invited MPC to develop recommendations for housing and retail opportunities on the city’s East Side; the Center for Neighborhood Technology to examine transportation and industrial development; Teska Associates, Inc., to provide recreation and land use counsel; and Partec Consulting Group to offer expertise on education and social services.

The draft Quality of Life Plan provides detailed recommendations in each of these areas, and offers valuable data about Joliet’s downtown and East Side communities, including supply and demand trends. For example, East Side residents spend $600 million each year outside their neighborhood for key consumer needs, demonstrating enormous purchasing power and retail development opportunity in the community. Overwhelmingly, the consultant team agreed that the plan’s success depends on a successful ongoing partnership between the community and the city, perhaps by creating a community development corporation for Joliet ’s East Side.

For more information on the Joliet Quality of Life Plan Executive Summary, contact Joanna Trotter, manager of MPC’s Community Building Initiative, at 312.863.6008.

Meet the MPC Staff:
MPC’s Michael McLaughlin Brings D.C. Experience to Local Transportation Issues

After spending more than 10 years in the nation’s capitol as a top transportation advisor to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. Bill Lipinski (D-Ill.), Michael McLaughlin , a native of LaGrange, Ill., returned to the Chicago region in February to join MPC as Transportation Director. McLaughlin is no stranger to regional and state transportation issues: in 2002, he coordinated the Transportation Transition Team for then-Governor-Elect Rod R. Blagojevich, and he’s well-steeped in transit funding and planning policy, Amtrak and aviation issues, and freight rail concerns.

McLaughlin’s appreciation for the people of metropolitan Chicago and a desire to “see how the non-governmental process” informs transportation policymaking led to his return to the region. “Learning new things and coming up with innovative ways to solve transportation problems” is what McLaughlin says he enjoys most about his current role with MPC.

McLaughlin earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and history from the University of Iowa , and a master’s degree in public affairs at Indiana University. His favorite Metra stop: “Easy. That’s the LaG range Road stop where I get on and off the train every day. The stop and the nearby restaurants, outdoor cafes, and shops are a great example of harmony between transit and the community,” he says, adding that he bikes to the station most days.

For tips, information and background on Chicago-area transportation issues, contact Michael McLaughlin, MPC transportation director, at 312.863.6022.

Learn more by contacting Mandy Burrell, MPC communications associate, at 312.863.6018, or by visiting MPC's Web site

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