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After winning the right to vote for women, the League of Women Voters was established as a grassroots organization in 1920. Fifty-five women organized the League of Women Voters of McLean County in 1933 under the leadership of Florence Fifer Bohrer, first woman elected to the Illinois State Senate.

From the beginning, the League has been an integral part of the political and civic life of our community. Within four months of its founding, the League held its first event to meet the candidates for elective offices. We continue to help everyone be an informed voter so that our elected leaders represent our entire community.

Juliana Sullivan

Last month brought sadness to our League members and friends with the loss of Juliana Sullivan, a former League president and great friend to many. We all have memories of Julie and her special impact on each of our lives as a close friend, teacher, colleague, mentor, etc. Julie was an amazing model of organization and detail. She educated, not only students in the classroom, but also those of us who were interested in and attempting to learn about the League and League processes. With that in mind, League of Women Voters of McLean County established a scholarship at Heartland Community College, The Juliana Sullivan LWVMC Memorial Scholarship. We all thank you, Julie, for your example.

Affordable Housing in McLean County
Program and Consensus Meeting

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.
Normal Public Library Community Rm.
206 W College Ave, Normal

Speakers Laura Furlong, CEO of Marcfirst and Karen Major, Director of Programs, Baby Fold, will present the Housing Study’s findings. League members will participate in a Consensus Vote.

McLean County Chief Judge John Freese Receives Bohrer Award

This year’s winner of the League’s Florence Fifer Bohrer Award is retired Chief Judge John Freese. Judge Freese served as a McLean County judge from 1982 until 2004, the last four years as Chief Judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. Judge Freese was instrumental in developing the now highly respected and successful Drug Court, which provides oversight and treatment to qualifying drug offenders instead of incarceration. Familiarizing the courts with the Drug Court concept, he led judges to observe other drug courts, and encouraged attendance at drug court conferences.

After his retirement in 2004, Judge Freese increased his community involvement, and it continues today. As he says, he sees retirement as an opportunity to make even more of a difference in our community, to continue and increase his community service, something he is passionate about. You can see these values at work in the many organizations he has worked for: the Boys and Girls Club, Prairie State Legal Services and the Salvation Army, all of which he brought his fundraising expertise to help broaden their effectiveness. We are delighted to add Judge Freese to our roster of impressive Bohrer Award winners!

Study To Look at Efficiency of McLean County Governments

Our next League Study, addressing the critical and elusive topic of "government effectiveness and efficiency," had its kick-off on September 10. This first meeting was an organizational session, during which we explored and discussed the scope and process that will be used to gather and manage information.

Our plan is to limit this study to many, but not all McLean County Governments. Sally Rudolph, who is the major driving force behind this effort, has been diligently working on determining how many governing bodies we have in McLean County. In a recent email from Sally, she said, “I think we should agree that we will not have a totally accurate count because of the various ways we could count local governments. I think we should just throw up our hands and say we have ‘about 200’ local governments and not get bogged down in search for a perfect count."

The study focus is to identify potential action ideas as to how and where government leaders might look to deliver effective government while maximizing efficiency. The end result being government doing the right things while maximizing the efficiency of delivery. Of course a highly efficient government would require less tax dollars.

The goal of our League Study is not to close down governing units. Our purpose is to support and encourage more effective and efficient government. In rural areas, often citizen focus is "how can we preserve and keep our local government" not on "how we might make our government more efficient."

Our Study Team, which currently numbers over 20, plans to identify efficiency opportunities via many interviews of community leaders. The ideas included in the study report will likely result in more community conversation linked to structuring our governments to maximize both effective and efficient government. The path to accomplishing this is still a little foggy, but during the next 18 months we intend to find milestones marking the road to better government efficiency.

Anyone interested in joining the study may e-mail Sally Rudolph at govtstudy@lwvmclean.org .

                                        -Glen Ludwig

Links to Events of Interest

Justice for All, A Defense Attorney's Perspective

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.
Normal Public Library

The League is pleased to round out our programs on our legal system by focusing on defense issues, including how the public defender's office works with the legal system and defense issues they contend with.

How do defense attorneys work with the State's Attorney's Office? What are the tools at their disposal as they work with clients and with the courts? What are the issues they find challenging, interesting, or frustrating?

Scheduled panelists are Public Defender Carla Barnes, Assistant Public Defender Jennifer Patten, and Defense Attorney Stephanie Wong.

Come hear this fascinating look at the defense side of our legal system.

Drinks and Dialogue for October
The Good, Great, and Disappointing

October 14, 2015
A Rene Wine Café
306 N. Center St., Bloomington

This will be a discussion of how local governments work - or don't work. The Voter will provide info on an article to read in advance to facilitate the discussion!