Town hall votes on referendums for November ballot

By Eric Heisig

The people of Champaign have spoken, and they said they want to know more about what their local government does.

At the annual town hall meeting of the Town of the City of Champaign Tuesday night, the electors voted to add a referendum that will allow for more transparency of how the government spends tax money. It will appear on the election ballot on Nov. 4.

The referendum, written and proposed by Champaign resident Scott Schmucker, has been adopted in other states around the country as well.

“An action like this is just common sense,” Schmucker said. “People should be aware of how their money is spent, to have the transparency and accuracy they expect from local government.

The referendum was passed 62-9, and members of the City Council showed their support as well. Council members Gina Jackson, Dist. 1; Marci Dodds, Dist. 4; Tom Bruno, At-Large; Karen Foster, At-Large; and Mayor Jerry Schweighart, who acted as moderator for the night, all voted for the bill.

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The township also voted against a bill that would put a referendum dealing with a national issue on a local level. The proposed bill would have shown Champaign’s support to ban torture by government bodies.

The referendum was proposed by Champaign resident Carl Estabrook, who said he was disappointed the bill did not pass.

“Amendments like this across the country have overwhelmingly won,” Estabrook said. “If this was on the ballot, it would have passed.”

The referendum stated that Timothy Johnson, R-Ill., has opposed torture. Citizens said they opposed having his name on the bill because it would bring partisanship into the voting booth.

“There would be politics in there,” said Champaign resident James Phillips. “Also, this isn’t a local issue, but rather a national issue.”

Still, Estabrook said these kinds of referendums can have an effect on the federal government.

The next annual town meeting of the town of the city of Champaign will be on Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at 6:55 p.m.