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[DISPATCH] November 2022

::OFFICIAL::

::Community organizations like Niles Coalition fight for social justice. Meanwhile, right-wing forces are encroaching upon our communities. They are spreading misinformation in the guise of “zombie” newspapers. While many saw right through this and voted accordingly in the most recent election, these papers are agitating local bigots. When the Lincolnwood library was under attack, we showed up. In October they came out in bigger numbers. This is a trend we are watching and steeling ourselves to fight. Library solidarity!

::Closer to home we saw a pride flag stolen and vandalized in one of our neighborhoods in Niles. Neighbors have expressed support, and returned the damaged flag after it was found. We will continue to make it clear that we’re united against those sorts of attacks on members of the community.

::We’re happy to report that the Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform won ALL THREE of their referenda in the recent election! We were early supporters of this effort and were proud to endorse this fight back in April 2022. The out-of-touch Skokie Caucus Party threw everything they had at them to maintain their firm grip of control. They were no match for the diligent organizers of Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform. Congrats to those AMAZING people!

::CAMPAIGN UPDATE: #SAVENILESLIBRARY::

::Since day zero of our #SaveNilesLibrary campaign we knew the next library board election would be a crucial fight. A lot of our work went towards creating a supportive environment to uplift appropriate candidates. A new political action committee (PAC) has been formed called the Committee to Save Niles-Maine District Library. We know and support these folks who will support the candidates necessary to #SaveNilesLibrary!

We’ve given our SaveNilesLibrary.org web address to the PAC. So now when you visit that url it will go directly to their site where you can learn more about supported candidates, donate much-needed funds, and volunteer!

Candidates endorsed by the PAC will officially announce their campaign for the library board TONIGHT! Come meet the candidates, hear about their vision, and show your support for the campaign.

Where:Niles-Maine District Library

When:Monday, November 14, 6:30pm

You can continue to find information about Niles Coalition’s #SaveNilesLibrary campaign on our website at nilescoalition.org under the Campaigns menu.

::In October some of our organizers attended the library’s Not So Haunted Open House. We passed out these fliers to spread awareness of this threat to Niles-Maine District Library. We had a blast connecting with hundreds of other attendees who share a love of the library.

the flier we were handing out, organizers dressed up as a mouse, a tree and an air dancer.

::BACKCHANNEL::

::Niles Coalition organizers attended the recent Community Relations Commission (CRC) meeting. We asked that the Commission as well as all other committees in the Village make their meetings more accessible. We suggested a number of improvements. There is ongoing confusion among the commissioners whether the Village will allow the CRC to be what its mission suggests it should be.

::The mayor announced another new political party with a slate of candidates running for the Village of Niles Board of Trustees. We haven’t heard about their platform yet. In neighboring Park Ridge, the League of Women Voters conducted a study on why so few people run for office in the Park Ridge City Council: Rarely Running . If you’re considering running for local office and would like help connecting with like-minded folks please reach out to us at https://www.nilescoalition.org/contact/

::SIGNING OFF::

::Thank you for all your support. Whether it’s fighting to save our public institutions (like the Niles-Maine District Library) or defending the existence of our own community members, we know there is a rich history of successful solutions of the past and present. We are hoping our experiment here in Niles will create the community we all deserve.

Niles Coalition logo with web address nilescoalition.org


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Uncategorized

Accessing Chicago Tribune Articles

Using your Niles-Maine District Library account you can access many many online research services for free!. Chicago Tribune is no exception. It is frustrating to click on a link to a Chicago Tribune article only to get stopped by a paywall. While it is a great local news source for Niles worth the price of a subscription, not everybody can afford it. No worries because Niles-Maine Distcrivt Library patrons can access it for free!

Use the Chicago Tribune online resource available on the library’s website or use this link right here:

You may see a screen that looks something like this:

Enter your library card number in the box and click the “Login” button.

Do a search for the title of the article and it will pull ups the result for you!

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Save Niles Library

October 2022 #SaveNilesLibrary Flier

#Save Niles-Maine District Library Flier October 2022
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Email List

[DISPATCH] October 2022

::INTRO::

We’re refreshing our monthly email newsletter, which is now entitled “Dispatch”. This will include updates regarding our campaigns and other social justice concerns in our community. Our team of organizers and allies chat regularly and this is one way we can bring some of that into the broader community. But we’ll keep it short!

::CAMPAIGN UPDATE: #SAVENILESLIBRARY::

Budget rally

If you couldn’t make it our #SaveNilesLibrary rally & budget hearing, we caught that all on video and posted to our Youtube.

So many great speakers and public commenters came out to the Niles-Maine District Library including State Senators Ram Villivalam & Laura Murphy! Unfortunately the anti-library trustees steamrolled an austerity budget over the professional staff-proposed budget that pro-library trustees supported.

Library workers are the heart and soul of our library, this is cruel. We will continue to fight alongside library union AFSCME Council 31 for our library and our community!


Makula vs Jesse White

In our last email, we celebrated the State Librarian’s appointment of Umair Quadeer to the long-vacant library board position. But just hours before the board meeting where swearing-in could have taken place, we all learned that Trustee Joe Makula used a private attorney to sue Jesse White and had requested a temporary restraining order against the swearing-in. We mobilized a quick protest and would like to thank all our community members and allies for showing up against this injustice. Illinois statute requires that a district library board be made up of 7 trustees not 6, and Makula, Drblik and Schoenfeldt are doing everything they can to obstruct normal library operations. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Trustee Suzanne Schoenfeldt Makes Front Page

Local library supporters who are able to have been arriving early for Niles-Maine District Library board meetings to show support for the library and staff. This is one way we can make sure the anti-library trustees experience firsthand the angst they are causing. In September, after being confronted by a middle-schooler on her way into the library board meeting, Trustee Schoenfeldt had to hang her head in shame. A moment captured by a reporter for the Niles Herald-Spectator.

The front page of the paper version of the September 29th Niles Herald-Spectator featuring an image of Suzanne Schoenfeldt walking into the library.


Next Board Meeting

We attend every Niles-Maine District Library board meeting and encourage community members to join us! The next meeting is: Wednesday October 19th, 6PM protest outside, 6:30pm public comment. If you would like more information or assistance in participation please reach out to us at <coalition@nilescoalition.org> or send a message at <https://www.nilescoalition.org/contact/>

::BACKCHANNEL::

Criminalization in Niles

Community members were arrested by Niles Police this month and publicized in news outlets and social media:

– A young student at the Niles Teen Center Fall Dance Party 2022 on October 8th made the mistake of bringing a knife and was charged with “aggravated assault” by Niles police. That is an alarming way to treat our youth.

– A few days later, a community member was arrested by Niles police after a police dog indicated the odor of narcotics. What police found instead was cannabis, cash, and guns. Ironically a few blocks away, Rise dispensary also sells cannabis with armed guards.

Turning a person into a disposable criminal is a process called “criminalization”. It subjects them to a punishment system that comes at a great toll to our community so we have many concerns.

Some resources:

Crime Reporting: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Why criminalization is not the answer by Vera Institute for Justice

Profit-minded police exploit K-9 partners, The Salt Lake Tribune


Fake News-papers

A pretend newspaper full of attacks on transgender youth and public schools, branded as “North Cook News”, started showing up in Niles mailboxes. These have been mailed to homes throughout the Chicagoland area in the guise as a newspaper. It’s conservative propaganda peddling bigoted myths.


2023 Elections

We’ve been hearing from community members who are considering running for local board positions on the April ballot. If you or someone you know is considering running and would like to connect with others please email us at <coalition@nilescoalition.org> or send a message at <https://www.nilescoalition.org/contact/>

::SIGNING OFF::

Thank you for your interest in the Niles-Maine District Library and social justice issues in and around the Niles community. We are finding many people with an appetite for creating progressive communities. It is crucial work for the sake of our future!

Niles Coalition logo
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Press Release

[PRESS RELEASE] Rally For the Jeopardized Niles-Maine District Library

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Email List

[EMAIL] In It To Win It

A blue painted brick wall with the words In It To Win It overlaid.

Hello dear community,

We are delighted to announce some major progress as a result of our relentless organizing efforts for change.

Our #SaveNilesLibrary campaign has just hit a major milestone that shifts the balance of power. And it’s all because of YOU! Our petition to ask State Librarian Jesse White to appoint a qualified Niles-Maine District Library board trustee was delivered! It was a great success that gathered more than five hundred signatures and many wonderful personal messages from supporters. The community made it clear that we wanted a qualified candidate and because of this…

The Illinois Secretary of State appointed Umair Qadeer to the Niles-Maine District Library board!

All year we have been pleading with Library Board President Carolyn Drblik to appoint a qualified candidate to the seat Olivia Hanusiak abandoned. When it was apparent the president was ignoring the community we got busy appealing to higher governing bodies and they listened!

Umair Qadeer was previously a Niles-Maine District Library board trustee but resigned due to an overlooked technicality regarding residency. Now that it’s no longer an issue we’re happy to see him continue serving as an advocate of the library (as one would expect any trustee to be). He will also be the only member of the board from the unincorporated Maine Township part of the library district and the only South Asian American on the board.

The swearing-in for this appointment is happening at the September 21st meeting just days before the upcoming budget hearing! Community members have continued to come out and make public comments; if you’re able to make it to the meeting it’s at 6:30pm, or if you’re unable to attend and would like to have your comment read at the meeting you can email us at coalition@nilescoalition.org .

Join us for the #SaveNilesLibrary Budget Hearing Rally

We’re organizing a rally for Monday September 26 just before the budget hearing. Now that we have a majority of pro-library trustees willing to listen to the needs of the community please help us solidify a major win for our library so we can end the cruel hiring freeze and secure much-needed programs and hours of operation that our community deserves! Details here.


New Niles Community Relations Commission

Congrats and welcome to the new commissioners appointed to the Community Relations Commission! It’s now finally official as the first meeting of this expanded commission happened last week September 14th. This is the mission:

“The purpose of the Community Relations Commission shall be to foster and promote understanding, mutual respect, cooperation and positive relations between and among all residents of the Village of Niles regardless of race, color, sexual orientation, religion, gender, age, disability, national origin or ancestry to the end that a sense of shared community among residents is strengthened, the value of each individual is affirmed and the constitutional rights of all are realized. The commission shall promote adequate housing for all the community’s people, to create and/or maintain sound viable neighborhoods, to meet the needs for housing and to expand housing opportunities for all members of the community. The Commission will also assist in the development of public information and related communication programs to enhance the quality of life for all village residents.”

The Niles Coalition mobilized to raise concerns about Commissioner Carolyn Drblik’s participation in the attack on our Niles-Maine District Library. Clearly a conflict of interest in community relations. Thankfully, Carolyn Drblik is no longer a commissioner. We hope this new commission steps in to help make things right but it will still require engagement from our community. We’re following along and we hope you do too!


#NotInMyTown Update

We have still not heard back from the Park Ridge city council regarding our pleas for healing in the community. Chicago Police Sergeant Michael Vitellaro was recently charged with two felony counts but we know the history of such approaches to community healing will not be sufficient. We are considering a coalition effort around this issue as we speak to more and more community stakeholders. Stay tuned!


Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform

In April we endorsed the Skokie Alliance for Electoral Reform and they were just getting started to collect signatures. Their team of volunteers hit the streets all summer and successfully collected a whopping 12,000 signatures to get the referendums on the November 8th ballot. CONGRATULATIONS! The work isn’t over yet, now they have to get out the vote and continue the campaign to educate the community about why all three referendums are so important for democracy in Skokie. If you would like to volunteer in solidarity they would be happy to have you. Join them for the upcoming town hall event!


Library Solidarity

Libraries around the country have been under attack. Locally, an attempt at book-banning in Park Ridge this spring was shut down by the community. Recently the Downers Grove library was targeted for hosting a drag queen bingo event. Close to home in Lincolnwood this week we joined local commenters in support of the LGBTQIA+ community and the library to counter a book-banning attempt (during national Banned Books Week no less). It turns out to #SaveNilesLibrary we’re going to have to save them all!

Whew, thanks for reading, and thanks for your messages of support. We’re glad you’re here with us. Please reach out if you have any questions about Niles Coalition. See you at the library!



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Campaigns Save Niles Library Timeline

[ACTION] #SaveNilesLibrary Rally Outside Niles-Maine District Library

Join us for a #SaveNilesLibrary rally on the south lawn of the Niles-Maine District Library. We’ll gather at 5:45, and will head into the library together at 6:15 for the scheduled public hearing where community members can comment on the 2022-23 budget.

Now is the time to show your support for your library and insist on a budget that allows for proper staffing so that much-needed programs and hours of operation can be restored and the building can be safely maintained.

Please RSVP and spread the word!

LINK: https://actionnetwork.org/events/savenileslibrary-rally-outside-niles-maine-district-library?source=ws

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Campaigns Save Niles Library Timeline

[ACTION] Petition: Appoint a Qualified Niles-Maine District Library Trustee

This was a petition to ask State Librarian Jesse White to appoint a qualified trustee to fill the year-long vacancy on the Niles-Maine District Library board before any more damage is done.

To: State Librarian Jesse White 

Your constituents in the Niles-Maine library district have been forced to watch three hostile trustees dismantle the library for over a year. Library board president Carolyn Drblik deadlocked the board by not filling a year-long trustee vacancy. None of the current trustees reside in the unincorporated Maine Township half of the district, where community members continue to be impacted by lack of representation.

The situation is dire: the library has lost one third of staff since May of 2021 and is down to 66 total full and part-time staff (the equivalent of 52.13 full time employees, or 52.13 FTE), for a library district size that the Illinois Library Association recommends be served by at least 74 FTE. Due to understaffing there were 30% fewer programs offered in July compared to the same time last year, and the library is only open 66 hours per week instead of the recommended 72+ hours per week. The community is suffering under this incomplete 6-trustee board. Staff morale is low and the union wrote a public letter asking: “Is their ultimate goal to close the library?”

Illinois statute originally relied on library boards to fill trustee vacancies “forthwith”, but in 2021 it became clear that a bloc of trustees could refuse to do so without any remedy for the community whose library suffered under a dysfunctional board, so the Illinois legislature unanimously voted to amend the statute. Now if a board refuses to fulfill the duty of appointing a new trustee to a vacant seat within 90 days, the State Librarian can appoint one in the subsequent 60 days. This means your office will have the ability to appoint a much-needed qualified and sincere trustee to the Niles-Maine District Library’s board on August 27th, and we ask that you do so.

The Niles-Maine District Library’s next regular board meeting is scheduled for September 21, 2022, just 5 days before the scheduled budget hearing for a tentative 2022-23 budget that, if passed, won’t fund the level of staffing that this library district of over 59,000 people need and deserve. We ask that you ensure the community will be represented by a full board of 7 trustees before the September meetings.

Update 9-12-2022

THANK YOU! Our petition to ask State Librarian Jesse White to appoint a qualified Niles-Maine District Library board trustee was delivered! Over five hundred signatures and many personal messages from supporters. The community wants a qualified candidate now! #SaveNilesLibrary

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[EMAIL] We Got Us


Dear Community,

#NotInMyTown Orange Ribbons

In our previous email we expressed our solidarity with Park Ridge youth. A Chicago cop attacked a 14 year old and walked away free and uncharged. To this day, 6 weeks later, the community is still left wondering what police actually do if not the most basic act of protection.

It was the brave acts of bystanders who saved this victim from further brutality and it’s become clear that “we must protect us.” Historically marginalized groups have been building systems of mutual aid to protect themselves when the authorities would not. We need to start learning from these traditions to build a society that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

To keep up with the campaign follow the #NotInMyTown campaign website and consider showing solidarity by putting up orange ribbons in your neighborhood. We’ll certainly keep an eye on this situation and report back any updates.

Several trees with orange ribbons attached.


Labor History Event at Niles-Maine District Library

Momentum is building across the country. Workers are demanding better pay and working conditions, and are forming unions to foment these rights. In the Niles-Maine library district our library staff are standing up to defend their rights while under constant assault.

Join us in solidarity with the Niles-Maine District Library Employees Union at this talk where we’ll all learn more about historical events and people who made the labor movement strong. Together we can use their inspiring vision to continue improving our community.

The Story of America Through the Lens of Labor History

Thursday, September 1, 6-8pm

Niles-Maine District Library Commons Meeting Room A&B

6960 W. Oakton Street, Niles, IL

A flier for the labor history event at Niles-Maine District Library



Niles-Maine Library Workers Letter to Editor

Earlier this month, unionized workers at the Niles-Maine District Library sent a dire letter to the editor of the Journal & Topics newspaper. They spoke of how the lack of staff has been decimating the capacity of the library. The callousness of Board President Carolyn Drblik and trustees Schoenfeldt, and Makula are taking their toll. They ask:

“Is their ultimate goal to close the library?”

A letter to the editor from the Niles-Maine District Library union published in Journal & Topics

If you don’t have subscriptions to local newspapers, Niles-Maine District Library cardholders can read electronic versions of our local newspapers for free with a library card number using the links toward the bottom of this page: https://www.nileslibrary.org/borrow/digital-library/#magazines


Secretary of State Appointment – get ready for action

Remember that letter-writing campaign you helped with last year? Well it’s partly because of our collective action that new legislation was passed to allow intervention by the State Librarian. This allows an appointment to fill a vacancy if a library board refuses to do so for more than 90 days. Library board president Carolyn Drblik has allowed a board seat to remain empty for more than 300 days! The board hasn’t been properly representing the community for nearly a year and it’s Carolyn Drblik’s responsibility to make sure the board is operating appropriately. This will only be a Band-Aid on the larger problem that allowed this to happen, but we will continue utilizing every avenue for justice.

Library Board Meeting

The next Niles-Maine District Library board meeting is TODAY Wednesday 8/17 at 6:30 pm, and a discussion and vote on the tentative budget is on the agenda. Community members who are able to do so have been coming out to make public comments, we hope to see you there, or if you aren’t able to attend you can email the board at trustees@nileslibrary.org and if you’d like help getting your comment read at the meeting email us at coalition@nilescoalition.org

Please continue to reach out to us with your ideas, and keep sharing information about local efforts so we can support the work folks are doing to create the community that we strive for.

Thanks for reading!


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[EMAIL] Act Local

When looking for ways that we can make the change we want to see, it’s important to think local. When we see bad news at a national or global scale, it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing we can do or the problems are too big to take on. But at the local level, even a few people can have a big impact. Local elections are decided by just a handful of votes, politicians are moved by a handful of letters, and we can change minds by talking to our neighbors. By planting the seeds of a better world in our own community, we build momentum for the changes we want to see. Local change is the path to building national power.


#SaveNilesLibrary

July began the new fiscal year for the Niles-Maine District Library, and the discussions of budgets are ongoing. In 2021 newly elected library board members and Board President Drblik proposed and passed drastic budget cuts, and for 2022-2023 Joe Makula’s error-ridden proposed budget would cut another 14% from a library already spread thin. Throughout this year’s budget discussions the library management, staff, and executive director have pleaded for increased staffing. Currently the library is working under a year-long hiring freeze and has lost over 30% of the trained staff. Makula, Schoenfeldt, and Drblik want to make this level of understaffing permanent, by cutting the open positions out of the budget. Trustees Keane, Olsen, and Rozanski proposed an alternate budget, with sufficient funds for hiring needed staff, a well-deserved cost of living increase for current staff, and restoring program and book budgets. The difference between the proposed budgets is only about $17 per resident, but the impact on the programming and services available to the community would be significant. Still, Makula and his cohorts are not willing to budge.

There is another meeting this Wednesday– Niles-Maine District Library Board Meeting – 6:30 PM July 20, 2022, 6960 Oakton Street. If you are able to make a public comment this is an opportunity to show support and help defend our community’s valuable resource and hardworking library staff against these draconian budget cuts.


Community Relations Commission

For months, community members sent letters and made public comments requesting that commissioner Carolyn Drblik be held accountable for the harm she has done in her role as President of the Niles-Maine District Library board of trustees. She refused to respond and was finally removed from the Village of Niles’ Community Relations Commission. While new commissioners have been named, it’s mid-July and there has still not been a single meeting of the Community Relations Commission in 2022, despite the requirement that they meet at least once quarterly. We’ve also still never been able to engage with this commission regarding the Village’s response to antisemitic propaganda that was distributed throughout the community. An organizer asked questions on behalf of residents we’ve been hearing from, wanting to know about Village policies on how employees should respond to acts of hate, and whether Village staff and elected officials receive training to help them identify acts of hate and discrimination. The Village Manager asked that she make FOIA requests instead. We are watching to see if the Community Relations Commission will begin following through on their stated mission and do the work that commissioners and Village staff can do to make this community more welcoming and just for all.


Neighbors United Against Hate

A Neighbors United Against Hate campaign page has been added to our website, so you can easily download and print window signs for your and your neighbors’ homes and businesses https://www.nilescoalition.org/neighbors-united-against-hate/


Solidarity with the youth of Park Ridge

On July 1st an off-duty Chicago Police Sergeant pushed his knee into a Park Ridge teen’s back to hold him down. A Niles Coalition organizer delivered a statement to the City Council at their July 5th meeting, expressing our solidarity with the youth of Park Ridge and listing three recommendations:

  1. Create a task force led by experts in prosocial transformative justice to help the community heal from this traumatic event while addressing the victims of this violence and the person who caused it.

  2. Shift funds towards a systemic solution as recommended by this transformative justice task force.

  3. Commend the brave bystanders who intervened. Encourage this behavior by making available bystander intervention training available for everybody in Park Ridge.


Please continue to reach out to us with your ideas, and keep sharing information about local efforts so we can support the work folks are doing to create the community that we strive for.

Thanks for reading!