Forest Preserve Accountability, Jobs
Hot Issues Discussed at DuPage United
Fox River Valley Assembly
Dania Noghnogh, a 16 year old from Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America (MECCA) in Willowbrook, spoke on recent attacks on neighboring mosques and synagogues - violence sparked by U.S. Congressman's statements on Islam and terrorism in the suburbs. She said that following 9/11, her mosque had became a safe haven for her, a reality that has been shattered in the wake of such irresponsible comments. She asked for the assembly to work together for religious tolerance.
Much like its efforts with the water Commission, DuPage United made explicit its goal to make the Forest Preserve Board more transparent and accountable to the county’s citizens. DuPage United's revealed that while other collar county forest preserves pay commissioners upwards of $3000, DuPage County Forest Preserve gives its commissioners salaries of $56,000 a year plus benefits. Even though the county’s forest preserve is slightly smaller than Lake County Forest Preserve, DuPage County spends 41% more in operating expenses, or approximately $9 million more in salaries and benefits.
Forest Preserve Board Candidates were asked to sign a six-criteria commitment including a cap on their salaries, reserve policy, ordinance prohibiting pay to play, and internal audit of day to day operations. Donald Kirchenberg, Steve Leopoldo, Robert Flesvig, Dennis Clark and Al Murphy agreed to all 6 commitments. Tim Whelan and Mary Lou Wehrli committed only to meet with DuPage United if elected. Shannon Burns, Michael Braun, Marsha Murphy, Joseph Cantore, Linda Painter did not attend. “DuPage United believes strongly in government accountability,” said Mr. Hani Atassi a leader from MECCA, Willowbrook “It is our duty as citizens to change business as usual and hold those elected accountable for our tax dollars.”
Tom Wendorf from Faith Lutheran presented on Jobs and Workforce Development, DuPage United's number one priority, given Illinois unemployment rate of 9.1%. He shared that over 80,000 manufacturing jobs were currently unfilled in Illinois. He attributed this, in part, to a complete lack of awareness as to training available for manufacturing jobs. "For every manufacturing job filled, four jobs are created in other sectors, making manufacturing an integral component to economic prosperity," said Wendorf. "Instead of its current economic development strategy of primarily using local funds to move or keep a company, DuPage should invest local funds in workforce development.
The assembly wrapped up with a “Call to Action” by Joe Dutra from Hesed House in Aurora. “If we are going to hold elected officials accountable for what they do, we have to do the same for ourselves," said Dutra, asking attendees to vote in the upcoming election with special attention to often overlooked offices such as the DuPage County Forest Preserve, and to participate in a series of other action teams being organized by the DuPage United – Fox River Valley Initiative.
About DuPage United
DuPage United is an inclusive, non-profit, non-partisan organization whose members are civil society institutions: churches, mosques, synagogues, non-profit agencies, and associations. These institutions form public relationships and to act together to improve the quality of life for individuals, families and communities. DuPage United engages in democratic action in the public arena, and is an independent, self-funding organization, which receives no government money. We are funded through dues-paying members, grants, individual contributions and other fund-raising efforts.