Eye On Illinois: Take steps to get involved with government operations


Get involved.

Easier said than done, but one of the best ways for a concerned citizen to make a difference is finding a way to take an active role in any aspect of government. This doesn’t mean running for office or stumping for candidates – that’s politics, not government – but focusing on the nuts and bolts of running the city, state and so on and simply showing up, sometimes just to listen.

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland

Such is the opportunity presented through the Illinois Supreme Court Pretrial Implementation Task Force, which is hosting several seminars to discuss the Pretrial Fairness Act before it takes effect Jan. 1. The idea is to help counties implement the transition away from cash bail to a different process for detaining people accused of crimes before they stand trial.

The schedule includes Nov. 9 in Macomb, Nov. 16 at Northern Illinois University, Dec. 1 in Springfield and Dec. 13 in Carterville, with plans to schedule in Champaign and Chicago. For more information, contact Chris Bonjean, the court’s communication director, at cbonjean@illinoiscourts.gov.

Each seminar will open with a question-and-answer session regarding pretrial policies and then small group discussions sorted by professional and community connections. Then everyone reconvenes for reports from the groups and another Q&A.

The public is welcome, while the intended professional audience includes the Office of Statewide Pretrial Services, all aspects of the law enforcement and criminal justice systems as well as legislators, county board members and representatives from civic, religious and community-based organizations and advocates from behavioral health, domestic violence and partner abuse intervention programs.

This isn’t a town hall where politicians seek to curry favor, but an actual full day of work. To get a taste for how seriously officials are taking the job, readers can spend hours reviewing materials at the Task Force’s website (tinyurl.com/PTAtaskforce), including several recordings of previous public sessions, lengthy reports and financial impact studies.

For something a little less intensive with a broader focus, take a few minutes to provide feedback to the U.S. Census Bureau on how to improve the process by 2030. The agency is taking suggestions through Nov. 15, the first time it’s ever sought public input. One person may not make a huge difference, but anyone with a few minutes to spare can visit census.gov and share a few thoughts.

In a country of 332 million people, or just a state of 12.7 million, it’s easy to think an individual voice isn’t significant. But remember the folks who shake off that perception and take their seat at the table. Do you want them to be the only ones with a voice, or will you use your own?

Get involved, even in small ways. Your opinions matter.

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

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November 2, 2022 at 05:04AM

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