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Lake County officials debate gun regulations at Waukegan forum

Posted by Vance Wyatt on November 5, 2017 at 12:30 PM Comments comments (0)

asons why some turn to picking up guns were discussed by a panel of community leaders during a forum hosted by Switch Lanes at the Christian Faith Fellowship Church in Waukegan on Saturday.

Former gang member Anthony McIntyre runs the Switch Lanes organization, which tries to steer young gang members away from crime through intervention.

On Saturday, McIntyre had more than 10 guest panelists, including Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, Waukegan Police Deputy Chief Gabe Guzman and Sara Knizhnik of Moms Demand Action, to speak to a crowd he said was smaller than he had hoped.

Close to 50 people attended.

As the moderator, McIntyre began by posing the question of whether guns on the streets are really the problem the community faces, or are deeper issues behind gun crimes.

Jennifer Witherspoon, who oversees programming at the Lake County jail, kicked off the discussion by answering, "I state unequivocally that it's deeper than that."

High poverty, poor education and no male role models are all reasons Witherspoon believes young men are turning to crime on the streets.

Easy access to guns only exacerbates that problem, Knizhnik said.

She suggested ways people can change that by reminding those in the audience to call their government representatives in support of an upcoming Senate bill called the Gun Dealer Licensing Act, which would regulate gun dealers more stringently by making sure inspections are carried out regularly at gun businesses, among other things.

What will it take for Americans to support stricter gun control?

Knizhnik also put out an invitation to join the group, which works to demand action from legislators to establish common sense gun reform.

The organization has chapters in all 50 states, and began as a grassroots movement in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012.

"We're extremely effective in Lake County. What's missing right now are members of your community," Knizhnik told the audience.

Posing a different view was Waukegan activist Keith Turner, who spoke out against more legislation for gun dealers and owners, and instead blamed gun violence on individuals.

"Personal accountability ultimately is the problem," Turner said, adding that guns are inanimate objects.

Turner said focusing on legislation that makes legal gun sales stricter, "will only affect people who can legally purchase a gun," not the young men who are getting guns illegally to use to commit crimes, Turner said.

The issue quickly moved to racism, and many on the panel and in the audience agreed that a legal system that in the past has disproportionally jailed black fathers, taking them out of the home, is to be blamed, at least partially, for the lack of male role models.

"The single greatest common denominator for making society's problems is the absence of a nuclear family," Curran said.

Lake County Board member Vance Wyatt said it's true that there aren't many black male role models to look up to, even in the community.

"If we have no one to look up to, no one to aspire to be like, that's how you get the school-to-prison pipeline," Wyatt said.

Taking the issue of racism a step further, civil and criminal attorney Jed Stone was adamant that there is no easy answer to the question McIntyre posed, but as someone who has been representing young men who commit gun crimes for 40 years, he believes racism definitely plays a part in the cause.

"The people who are getting shot are poor, black, brown, and the reason why our legislature doesn't respond is because people don't care; they're expendables," Stone said. "It's time we recognize that race is an issue in America."

Due to rain during the event, McIntyre said some were watching through social media live recordings of the discussions.

Midway through the discussion, McIntyre told the panel he was getting many texts from viewers upset that Guzman referred to men who commit gun crimes as "thugs" and were offended by the term.

Others in the audience agreed that labels were offensive, and created a wider rift between police and community.

"Shame on you," Stone told Guzman.

"Thugs are getting guns from each other," Guzman had said earlier in the conversation.

Later he defended his comments.

"My viewpoint of gang members is that they are thugs. If that offends you, I apologize," Guzman said. "But people who shoot others are thugs."

Guzman added that he didn't know what the youth in Waukegan had to deal with, but he's open to learn and said he welcomes any invitation for dialogue.

"Show me the other side, because my perspective is one-sided," Guzman said.

Waukegan school board member Anita Hanna spoke up to say she was disappointed to look around the room and see that, "those that need to be here are not here."

School board member Brandon Ewing also attended and many times tried to speak but was unable to, as the panel grew to add more people.

During the back and forth from panelist and audience, McIntyre gave a warning about the contents of a folder he passed around with graphic photos of gun-shot wounds on dead bodies of men and children.

McIntyre reminded the room that the goal of the forum was to come up with solutions. He said more jobs and more opportunities for education are ways in which Switch Lanes is working toward a better community.

Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham spoke last and said the children of Waukegan are the entire city's responsibility.

Growing up without a father, he knew other parents in the neighborhood were looking out for him, and they made sure his mother knew about any trouble he got into, Cunningham said.

"When a mother and a father aren't in the house, the community should step in," Cunningham said.

McIntyre resolved that Switch Lanes would continue to focus on education, economic development, entrepreneurship and legal justice, to target vulnerable young men in the city.

He said in January the organization will start to offer computer literacy classes at their office at 2424 Washington St.

Yadira Sanchez Olson is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.

Fitting topic for reopening of flooded CLC auditorium: climate change

Posted by Vance Wyatt on November 4, 2017 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Organizers say the first event to be held in the A Wing Auditorium at the College of Lake County since it was closed four months ago due to flooding is fitting, considering the circumstances.


The space will be reopened Tuesday night for national expert and former presidential adviser Donald Wuebbles and others who will give perspectives on how extreme events are related to climate change.



"We still have some work to do (but) we're going to squeeze it in because it makes so much sense," said David Husemoller, CLC sustainability manager. "It is kind of ironic and salient."


Representatives from the Citizens Climate Lobby will explain their work with Congress to develop a climate policy; local Sierra Club members will present the Lake County Climate Action Pledge, which is being circulated among county leaders to sign; and county board Chairman Aaron Lawlor and board member Vance Wyatt will discuss the impacts of the pledge.


The free program will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the main campus in Grayslake.


The second floor will be off limits, but the seats and carpeting on the main floor are new and a temporary audio/visual system will be in place for speakers to make their points.


"We're opening it for the first time, but it's not fully open," Husemoller said. "There will be some rough edges."


The venue has come a long way since heavy rain overnight July 12 inundated already saturated ground, streamed through the doors and deposited about 2 feet of water that reached the stage in the auditorium. It was the first time the roughly 30-year-old auditorium had flooded.


"We kind of had our own swimming pool," said Jim Marison, assistant director of facilities administration. "The drainage system all around Lake County basically was overwhelmed at the time."


The water was out by that afternoon, but the stage and curtains, audio/visual equipment, floor lighting, carpeting and theater seating were damaged.


First-floor repairs and replacement, as well as extra pumping capacity, have cost about $192,000. The second floor needed to be updated to match the first, costing an additional $35,000, but that does not include new audio/visual technology to be relocated to the second floor, Husemoller said.


Wuebbles, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Illinois, was assistant director with the Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Barack Obama. He has co-authored or wrote a number of international and national scientific studies and hundreds of articles related to climate, air quality and the ozone layer.


Husemoller said he has communicated with Wuebbles for years and finally was able to land him for the CLC event.


"On a whim, I thought I would contact him to see if he had time for us," Husemoller said.


In Lake County, an estimated 3,500 homes were affected by the July flooding. McHenry, Kane and Cook counties also were affected, but damages fell short of the $18.2 million statewide threshold needed for federal assistance to reimburse local governments for losses or expenses, such as overtime.

Launching the Lake County Climate Action Pledge

Posted by Vance Wyatt on September 17, 2017 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

At a time when the federal government has abdicated its role in climate leadership, public officials and residents across the country are stepping forward to take local action against the climate crisis.


Leading the way in Lake County, Illinois, is Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawlor. He recently launched an initiative in partnership with the Sierra Club to encourage local community leaders and public officials to deliver local, bipartisan action on the climate crisis.


“With vision and determination, Lake County can move beyond coal, toward a 100% clean energy future, and invest in fiscally and environmentally sustainable infrastructure. Climate action isn’t just an issue for our president to fail on or Congressional leaders to ignore. Climate action needs local leaders to step up and lead us forward, and it’s going to start right here in Lake County!” Lawlor said.


Lawlor announced the initiative, the Lake County Climate Action Pledge, before a crowd of 175 Lake County residents and public officials who gathered at the Waukegan lakefront for the 4th Annual Clean Power Lake County Waukegan Beach Rally and Cleanup.


The new initiative consists of three pillars:


Move Lake County beyond coal

Adopt ambitious clean energy goals

Build climate-resilient infrastructure

The solutions to these issues are related to solutions to serious social issues, said Dulce Ortiz, a Waukegan resident who spoke at the rally on behalf of the Sierra Club.


“We sit at an unprecedented and, frankly, dark moment in our country’s history that has to be spoken to—when the President refuses to denounce racism and white supremacy, when immigrant communities and Muslims are under attack, when the head of the EPA is a climate denier and is actively rolling back critical environmental policies, leaving us to protect our own communities,” Ortiz said. “These are not separate issues: They are absolutely interconnected and so, too, are their solutions. We are called to new levels of courage to speak out on these threats to our community and environment and to take decisive action at the local level in partnership with one another.”


Eight public officials have already joined Lawlor in taking the Lake County Climate Action Pledge:


Lake County Board Members Vance Wyatt, Diane Hewitt, Judy Martini, Mary Ross Cunningham, Sandy Hart, and Ann Maine

State Senator Melinda Bush

State Representative Sam Yingling

Both the Lake County News-Sun and Daily Herald published good recaps of the August 26 rally.

Click here.

Meet Vance D. Wyatt - Lake County Board Member District 14

Posted by Vance Wyatt on July 12, 2017 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

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Lake County Board Commissioner Vance D. Wyatt - Community Forum

Posted by Vance Wyatt on July 8, 2017 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

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North Chicago man nominated for Lake County Board vacancy

Posted by Vance Wyatt on June 7, 2017 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

A North Chicago resident who serves on local park and library district boards is set to fill a vacancy on the Lake County Board.


Vance Wyatt has been nominated by county board Chairman Aaron Lawlor to represent the 14th District. The seat opened in April when veteran county Commissioner Audrey Nixon died.



Wyatt, a 27-year-old Democrat, is president of the Foss Park District board in North Chicago. He also sits on the North Chicago Public Library District board.


He said he will resign from both posts to take the county board job.


He's employed by CVS Health as a financial analyst.


The county board is expected to vote on Wyatt's appointment June 13. If appointed, he'll also serve on the Lake County Forest Preserve District board, which consists of all 21 county board members.


The 14th District includes portions of North Chicago, Gurnee, Park City and Waukegan.


Because Nixon was a Democrat, Lawlor had to appoint a member of that political party to the seat. If his appointment is approved, Wyatt's term will end in December 2018. He can run for election that year.


Nixon was the county board's most senior member and was well regarded by her peers on the panel and her constituents.


Wyatt said his goal "is to continue the legacy (Nixon) left for Lake County, North Chicago and District 14."

To read on Daily Heard click here.

Foss Park District president picked to succeed Audrey Nixon on Lake County Board

Posted by Vance Wyatt on June 7, 2017 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Vance Wyatt, the Foss Park District board president and board member for the North Chicago Public Library board, has been selected to fill out the term of the late Audrey Nixon on the Lake County Board, according to the board chairman.

"In his interview, I witnessed first-hand Vance's commitment to District 14 when he shared the story of how he was one of only two in his graduating class who came back after college," Chairman Aaron Lawlor said in a statement announcing Wyatt's selection on Wednesday.

"I know Vance shares my deeply held belief that North Chicago is a community worth coming back to and worth fighting for, and Vance will be that champion."

Wyatt said Wednesday that Nixon was a staple in the community, and when she died in April, it was like losing a grandmother.

"It's truly an honor to fill her position," he added.

Detailing plans to resign from both the park district and library boards to take the County Board seat, Wyatt said he will continue pushing for things that Nixon backed, such as jobs for youth to keep them out of trouble and finding jobs for those with a criminal background so they can turn their life around.

"I'll also be looking at economic development," Wyatt added. "North Chicago does not have a grocery store."

Wyatt's proposed appointment is scheduled for a vote by the County Board on June 13. He is replacing Nixon, a fellow Democrat who served on the board representing North Chicago and parts of Park City and Gurnee since 1982. Nixon was also the longtime chairman of the board's law and judicial committee.

State Senator Terry Link, who serves as a chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party, said in a statement that he supports Wyatt's appointment.

"It's important that we grow the next generation of leaders in Lake County, and Vance Wyatt is a dynamic, young leader who will bring a fresh perspective to the County Board, and serve the residents of District 14 well," he said in a statement.

Wyatt will serve the remainder of the term, which will expire in 2018.

According to information released by the county on Wednesday, Illinois law requires the County Board chairman to appoint a qualified individual to a vacancy on the board within 60 days with the advice and consent of board members.

"Following Nixon's passing, Chairman Lawlor outlined an inclusive process and appointed an advisory committee made up of Democrat elected officials and the board leadership," the statement added. "The panel reviewed applications from eleven candidates, conducted in-person interviews with four individuals, and recommended Wyatt for the appointment."

Wyatt had a lot to take on when he became the Foss Park District board president, because the district had been rocked with scandal before he arrived with a theft case involving Toys for Tots donations that saw charges brought against two board members. In early 2015, another board member pleaded guilty to an election code violation.

Wyatt has a master's of business administration, banking and financial from Concordia University in Chicago and a bachelor's of science in business management with a minor concentration in public policy from National-Louis University. He presently works for CVS Health as a financial analyst with RxClaim.

Lawlor's statement announcing Wyatt's appointment also encouraged residents to "honor Audrey Nixon's legacy by stepping forward to serve in one of many appointed leadership opportunities," adding that information on nearly 300 volunteer positions on 70 different boards, commissions, committees and units of government are posted on the t the County Board's website.

[email protected]

Source: Lake County News Sun

Quarter 4 2016 Newsletter

Posted by Vance Wyatt on February 19, 2017 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)

It has been a few months since my last update on the issues facing the Foss Park District. We have some big projects coming down the line and I wanted to give you an update on a few of them. Projects still being worked on that are not in this newsletter are the Tennis Court resurfacing, 14th Street Administration building and The Beach front. Furthermore, I would like to inform you that we have two citizens that will be running for the two seats that are open in the April Election; Anthony “Tony” Jones and Kenneth Robinson. I look forward to Commissioner Jones returning to the board and Mr. Robinson joining us on the Board. Dr. King will be retiring from the Board after 20 years of service.



Thank You,

Vance D. Wyatt, Commissioner

Foss Park District


If you have any questions or concerns please reach out to me via email [email protected] or via phone at 224-419-4509. I want to represent you to best of my abilities and will need to hear from you.

2017 Tax Levy

The Board voted on our Tax Levy at a Special Board meeting in December. The Tax Levy would increase property taxes by 28%. I voted No on the tax levy due to the previous 10 years of increases. And instead, the board will look to find ways to cut costs further.

Coles Park rehab

The District approved a revised agreement with the Lake County Housing Authority in December 2016. The Housing Authority planned on completing the application prior to the Start of the new Administration. The current date for ground breaking for the project is March 1st, 2017.

Splash Pad

Due to the State’s inability to approve a budget for over two years now. The district has decided to move forward with the project on a smaller scale than was originally proposed. Based on our timeline the Board will accept the bids at the March Meeting with ground breaking taking place on March 6, 2017. The project should be completed and ready to open to the public on July 1st, 2017.

2016 Audit

The 2016 Audit was approved by the board at our Special Board meeting in December. As in previous years, the biggest drain on park district resources is the golf course. I have been working with the staff and our Golf Committee to come up with a real plan to deal with this issue. Some options may not be popular. In order to prevent the Park District from going bankrupt due to the Golf Course something big needs to happen.

2017 Park Bonds

The Board approved an Ordinance issuing 2017A Bonds in the approximate amount of $346,595 for the use of capital expenses; such as the Splash Pad construction and Tennis Courts resurfacing. I voted in favor of the measure since we cannot continue to wait for the state to supply their match to our projects. This will help alleviate the loss of cash on hand for the district.


Commissioner Wyatt joins with fellow YEO Network members against Hate

Posted by Vance Wyatt on October 2, 2016 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (0)

The Letter reads as follows:

The 2016 electoral season has featured dangerous levels of xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and

racist rhetoric, as well as a devastating rise in hate crimes. This rhetoric and violence is not only

a threat to our communities, but it also strikes directly against the most cherished and basic

rights guaranteed by our nation’s Constitution: liberty, due process, freedom of religion, and

equality under law. We write this open letter to stand with the Muslims, Arabs, South Asians,

and Sikhs across the United States as they endure threats, harassment, violence, and

inexcusable political rhetoric. Our message is unmistakable: we thank you for serving your

communities and we are proud to have you beside us as full and equal members of the

American family.

American Muslims are an integral part of the fabric of America and have been since the first

slave ships brought Muslims to our shores. At the time of the founding of our nation, Thomas

Jefferson drafted the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1777 explicitly to protect the

rights of Muslims, Jews, and Christians to practice their faith free from oppression. Today,

American Muslims serve their communities and country as teachers and doctors, organizers

and soldiers, scientists and faith leaders. Indeed, America’s long tradition of welcoming

immigrants and people of all faiths has been central to our nation’s economic success, vibrant

democratic discourse, and cultural richness. Many of the most shameful periods of our nation’s

history were those in which we permitted hatred and fear of the “Other” to shape our public

policy. To build a more just and equitable America based on love and respect we must remind

ourselves of these histories and fight back against bigotry.

The recent sharp rise in hateful rhetoric directed at Muslims by political leaders has serious

consequences. Over the last year, there has been a shocking increase in harassment and hate

crimes directed at Muslims and those who are perceived to be Muslim. People wearing ethnic

or religious attire are being harassed; children bullied at school; community members

attacked; and mosques firebombed. The details are horrific: from the Pittsburgh taxi driver

who was shot in the back by his passenger on Thanksgiving to the pregnant San Diego woman

who was assaulted while pushing her child in a stroller. Children hear the threats of politicians

and ask their parents if their families will be rounded up; parents are heartbroken to hear their

children’s anxieties and worry for their safety. These attacks create fear and anxiety across

Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian communities, whose members now feel unsafe going

about their daily lives.

Today, the fear and hatred of Muslims is being promoted alongside xenophobia and racism

directed at communities all across our country: against Latinos who are being threatened with

mass deportation and ethnic cleansing; against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and particularly

transgender people who are being described as predators and targeted with violence and legal

discrimination; against African Americans and people of color around the country who are

suffering from discriminatory policing that is driven by fear and a failure to recognize their

basic humanity. It is the responsibility of all of us to stand against this hate.

It is exciting and heartening to see so many people doing just that. Young people – particularly

young people of color – are demanding an end to discriminatory policing and violence in their

communities. Muslim leaders are using the language and values of Islam to promote peace and

justice and service. Immigrants are engaging in civil disobedience to protest the deportation of

their friends and loved ones. Many of us are paying attention to these voices, opening to

them, and learning from them. But far too many others want nothing more than to silence

these voices and reject their humanity, embracing bigotry and hate instead of peace and


As elected officials from across the country and leaders in our communities, we stand against

hate crimes, against school bullying, against workplace discrimination, against closing our

borders on the basis of religion, and against hate. In standing with Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and

South Asian communities we are proud to join with US military veterans organizing under the

hashtag #VetsVsHate, faith leaders organizing under the hashtag #RootedInLove, and civil

rights leaders organizing under the hashtags #SolidarityIS and #EndHate.

As elected representatives, we say to those of you who are in the streets fighting for your lives

to matter, who hear yourselves described as murderers and rapists by candidates for the

nation’s highest offices, who fear for the safety of your children in your places of worship: We

are on your side. We see the richness and beauty of your lives and we know that America

cannot thrive unless you do. We vow to use our positions as elected leaders to stand up

against anti-Muslim bigotry, against xenophobia, against hatred, and against oppression.

We vow to promote local laws and policies that advance equity and value diversity. We vow never

to use fear as a political tactic and never to succumb to fear as political pressure. We vow to

work to fulfill the aspiration of our nation’s founding, in partnership with you, and against all

those who would demonize or silence you

Community Forum: Commissioner/Trustee Vance D. Wyatt Interview (2016)

Posted by Vance Wyatt on February 10, 2016 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

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