Dr. King & A Musical Icon
Legendary singer Patti LaBelle will be the featured speaker at this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Luncheon, scheduled for January 16, 2017, at the Peoria Civic Center. This year, the luncheon will be followed by a concert in the Civic Center Arena—the first time this event has featured both a luncheon and a concert.
“Patti LaBelle is truly an icon in the music industry,” notes Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis. “We’re excited to welcome her to Peoria to help us celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
In addition to a 50-year career as an acclaimed R&B and soul singer, LaBelle has written five best-selling books and supported a range of humanitarian efforts as an advocate for adoption and foster care, supporter of Big Sisters and the United Negro College Fund, and spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association. She even launched a successful line of food products and has starred in highly-rated cooking specials on the Cooking Channel and Food Network.
The 2017 event marks the 25th year that Public Employees for Community Concerns, a group of African-American City of Peoria employees, has joined together to celebrate the life and work of Dr. King on his birthday. Its previous speakers are a distinguished lot, including the likes of Dr. Maya Angelou, James Earl Jones, Michael Eric Dyson and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
At the luncheon, LaBelle will reflect on how Dr. King has impacted her life and career, before taking the stage to do what she does best: perform. “I can’t think of a more memorable way to celebrate our 25th annual luncheon,” says Alma Brown, who has helped organize the event since its inception. “It’s a lot different than our usual luncheon, but she is bringing her band and has very elaborate staging for her concert. It’s going to be an amazing and unforgettable day!”
Doors open at 9:30am and the luncheon begins at 10:45am, with the concert to follow at 12:30pm. Tickets are available at Peoria City Hall, Room 403, or online at mlkluncheon.com.
Millennials have proven to be the most diverse generation in American history, and their stated political beliefs fall right in line with this characteristic, according to a study conducted by Richards/Lerma and the University of Texas at Austin just prior to the 2016 election. Among its findings:
- The top five values of importance to those surveyed include: equal salaries for men and women, access to healthcare, the right of education for all citizens, the prohibition of government spying on electronic communications, and term limits for Congress.
- The economy was ranked by 50 percent of millennials as the leading issue in the U.S. today, followed by terrorism and national security (47%); debt and spending (43%); race issues (43%) and gun control (42%).
- Fifty-four percent of Hispanic millennials said they were “very proud” of being American, while 50 percent of African-American and Asian millennials and just 40 percent of white millennials said the same.
- Seventy-seven percent of Asian, Hispanic and black millennials were certain they would vote in the 2016 election, while 73 percent of whwite millennials said the same. Of those who did not plan to vote, about 16 percent—an estimated six million millennials—did not believe their vote would make a difference.
Learn more about this “notoriously oversimplified, overgeneralized and mischaracterized” generation by downloading the report at millennialsdeconstructed.com.
Opening Up the Books
The push for open data—allowing government data to be accessed and viewed by the general public—has gained momentum over the last decade. Yale Fox, a TED fellow and CEO of Rentlogic, recently shed some light on the topic in Karen Eng’s article, “How Open Government Data Creates Smarter Societies,” for TED.com.
- With public access to government databases, taxpayers get to see the data their dollars are maintaining. Because they are created using taxpayer money, the information within them is considered “public domain” by some open data advocates.
- The federal government is already on its way to transparent data. The Obama Administration created data.gov to improve public access to executive branch data; as of August 2016, the database had more than 180,000 sets of data.
- Open data is empowering to those who seek it out. The more data that’s publicly available, the smarter decisions people can make. For example, Open Payments (cms.gov/openpayments), a service of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, shows the financial relationships between doctors and drug and device manufacturers, allowing patients to make informed decisions about their own health. Fox’s own Rentlogic (rentlogic.com) uses official New York City government data to help renters learn about landlords and housing properties before signing a lease.
- Questionable government spending can be uncovered by data. Influence Explorer (influenceexplorer.com), a project of the Sunlight Foundation, allows real-time access to campaign finance reports, while Open Secrets (opensecrets.org), created by the Center for Responsive Politics, compiles lobbying spending by year, industry, firm and more—allowing users to keep watch over potentially problematic influence on government officials.
How to be an Election Judge
Election judges help to ensure the rights of voters are protected on Election Day. They are responsible for the administration of election procedures in the polling place, ensuring that the process is administered fairly and in accordance with the law. So how does one become an election judge? In Peoria County, prospective judges must:
- Be a citizen of the United States.
- Be able to speak, read and write the English language.
- Not be a candidate of any office in the election and not be an elected committeeman.
- Successfully complete four-hour training session.
To apply online in Peoria County, visit peoriaelections.org/election-judge-application. Information about serving as an election judge in Tazewell County is available at tazewell.com/CountyClerk/CountyClerkElections.html.
Destined for Jail? Juvenile Recidivism by the Numbers
State spending to incarcerate youth is an extremely poor investment, states Invest in Youth—Not Prisons, a 2016 report from the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children. The study suggests that redirecting state resources to community-based alternatives provides youth a better chance to succeed—and a greater long-term return on investment. According to the report:
- Illinois spends nearly 30 times more to incarcerate one youth at a state youth prison than to serve a youth through a community-based alternative: $172,000/year for each youth in prison vs. $6,000/year for each youth in Redeploy Illinois, a community-based alternative.
- Failing to invest in community-based services reinforces racial inequities. Black youth are more likely to be incarcerated than white youth, who have disproportionately benefited from reduced youth incarceration.
- More than eight of 10 Illinois youths committed to juvenile prisons are arrested again within three years of release, while community-based programs have been shown to reduce juvenile recidivism by 15 percent or more. Successful participants in Redeploy Illinois, for example, had a 27-percent lower recidivism rate compared to those who didn’t finish, while youth prison commitments in participating counties declined by 58 percent from 2005 to 2014.
“To get prison spending under control, the state must incarcerate fewer people,” writes Bryant Jackson-Green of the Illinois Policy Institute. “Prison may make sense for violent criminals who pose a threat to public safety. But nearly 70 percent of Illinois’ prison population is serving time for nonviolent offenses. Many would benefit from diversion into drug- and mental-health treatment programs, parole or other programs that keep families together and allow offenders to continue working instead of costing taxpayers billions each year.”
Download the report in its entirety at voices4kids.org/investinyouthnotprisons.
So Whatcha Drinkin’?
Many of us attend social events to network with others… but did you ever think your choice of drinks might have an impact on the success of your schmoozing? A national survey of 2,000 Americans recently analyzed how the proverbial first impression is affected by what a person is drinking—offering potential insights on the connections between the two.
Respondents to Budweiser’s “Beerpressions” survey rated the approachability of men and women through four drink choices: domestic beer, imported beer, wine and margaritas. Not surprisingly, domestic beer drinkers garnered the highest scores for approachability—after all, the survey was sponsored by the “King of Beers”—with 70 percent indicating women drinking domestic beer were “friendly” or “low-maintenance,” while 59 percent said male domestic beer drinkers were “authentic” and “genuine.” The other three options, according to the survey, ranked much lower on the approachability scale.
Of course, everyone is different—depending on whom you want to impress—and when it comes to drinking and real-life social networking, the main rule is not to over-indulge! But it is good to remember that people do make snap judgments about strangers based on things like their preferred drink—at least one in three, according to this survey (though the absence of “craft beer” as an option might raise another eyebrow). iBi