It was a very good and productive week back home in the district. On Monday, I traveled to Rantoul with my District Outreach Coordinator, Rev. McCullough, to meet with the Rantoul Police Department and Chief Mitchell Davis from the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE Organization). We were able to discuss ideas and strategies for bringing resources to the 104th District to help our Police Departments with outreach efforts in minority communities. Chief Davis is an impressive man and has had a stellar career in Law Enforcement. I feel confident that we can begin a great partnership that will be of assistance to the 104th District for a long time. The discussion was excellent, and we have several ideas that we plan to roll out soon to the area Police Departments and Schools.
On Tuesday, I had the honor of being introduced to numerous business leaders in Champaign County by Max Mitchell, who has had an esteemed career in our area as a former Champaign County Board member, Realtor, and Businessman. We met with Developers, Automobile Dealers, Farm Managers, Health Insurance Executives, and several other groups to develop these vital relationships with local business leaders. I need to have experts on hand to call when a decision needs to be made on a proposed bill that may influence business especially in our area. Access to knowledge is critical to making good decisions, and I know fostering these relationships with highly successful businesspeople will provide that access.
The balance of Tuesday allowed me to visit Hope Meadows for a follow up visit after we stopped by a couple months ago, which is an integrated living community in Rantoul. I was able to learn more about the concept that is employed by Hope Meadows and the challenges they face. The integrated living model is about pairing retired people in a community with foster families who need assistance raising children. The foster families provide the family that the older members of the community are missing and the younger families get support from the older residents. This is a nationally recognized and successful model, so the challenge entails making sure the resources are available to make it work.
Thursday night I was honored to be the guest speaker at the 17th Annual Danville Area Community College Annuitants Association Dinner Meeting. I gave an assessment of the Spring Session and talked about the things both good and bad that happened in Springfield. It is always my goal to be completely upfront and honest about what is happening and lay it out for people truthfully.
Even when people have disagreed with the things I have done on legislation, they’ve thanked me for being honest. That is something I am proud of and I will continue to hold myself to that standard. The annuitants were very interested in the State Budget, particularly the pension payment portion. They were relieved to hear that despite the Governor’s original plan, the entire pension payment was made this year and the 7-year ramp extension was discarded. In the future, I will always push for us to meet our entire pension obligation and will work to make larger upfront payments to the system a priority.
After detoxing from Springfield for a week, I finally feel like summer has begun. It is an outstanding feeling being back among the great people of the 104th District. My mission for the summer is to get out and about to talk to as many of you as possible. I am looking forward to a long summer with a lot of great discussions.