Fine Arts Society Lecture: National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Fine Arts Society’s 55th season begins with a lecture by John W. Franklin entitled “Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture.” Franklin will present his lecture twice, at 10 a.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 13 at Peoria Riverfront Museum.

There is a social time for half an hour preceding each lecture. For the 10 a.m. lecture, cost is $12 at the door or free with membership in the Fine Arts Society, $50 for individuals, $75 for families. (Membership includes all six lectures for the season).

Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. lecture are $10 for adults and $5 for students and children.


Court Upholds Special Prosecutor for Cleve Heidelberg

Despite an appeal to reconsider, Peoria 10th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Albert Purnham will proceed with the appointment of an independent special prosecutor to re-examine the investigation and prosecution of an African American man for the shooting death of a white Peoria County Sheriff’s Deputy in 1970.

At a hearing today, Purnham rejected a petition by Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady to rescind the judge’s decision to appoint a special prosecutor. The state argued that the judge had determined a special prosecutor was needed because the judge had not examined the complete case record.

The judge rejected that contention.

Cleve Heidelberg was charged and convicted of the shooting death of Peoria County Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Espinoza in 1970. The state had originally sought the death penalty in the case. Heidelberg, now 73, has been in prison for 45 years and has always maintained his innocence.

Attorneys Andrew Hale of Chicago and Don Jackson of Peoria have re-examined the case and believe Heidelberg is innocent. They believe they have found evidence to support their conviction and are asking for an independent review of the evidence.

Judge Purnham agreed that an independent review is merited and rejected the state’s allegation that his decision to appoint a special prosecutor will open a floodgate for all convicted felons to demand re-examination by a special prosecutor.

The judge restated his decision that a conflict of interest exists when Brady declines to re-examine a case tried by his mentor, friend and financial backer Ron Hamm who originally prosecuted the Heidelberg case. The judge has said issues surrounding the arrest, prosecution and conviction of Heidelberg are of sufficient concern to merit an independent special prosecutor examine the case.

The judge rejected the petition by State’s Attorney Jerry Brady and will proceed with appointment of a special prosecutor. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 22.



Override Rauner’s Veto

Voter fraud is virtually nonexistent. It is cited as a reason to restrict, not expand voter registration.  It is a bogus excuse.

Do we really fear giving everyone in a Democracy an equal voice in the polls? Apparently, yes.

Gov. Bruce Rauner cited that fake claim of protecting against voter fraud when he vetoed a bipartisan measure to implement automatic voter registration in Illinois.

The bill had passed both houses of the Legislature. It would have expanded voter registration to 700,000 new voters in time for the presidential election in November and two million more voters by 2018, the year Rauner expects to run for re-election.

The bill to establish automatic voter registration in Illinois would have strengthened democracy. Among its sponsored were Sen. Dave Koehler, Sen. Daniel Biss and Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth.

Here is what The New York Times (Aug. 22, 2016) had to say about Rauner’s veto:


Invoking Republicans’ phantom fear of voter fraud, Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed a bipartisan measure to make Illinois a pioneer in one of the truly innovative reforms of modern politics — the automatic registration of citizens as they conduct routine business at motor vehicle departments and other state agencies.

In the past 18 months, five states have approved this obvious boon for electoral democracy; others have it under consideration. The state sends proof of registration electronically to local election officials. Voters are thus spared the old bureaucratic paperwork maze and haphazard record-keeping that compounds delays on Election Day. Citizens are free to not register (and, of course, to not vote), but they cannot complain about opportunity denied.

More than 30 states have registration systems that require a voter to opt in at motor vehicle offices. That places the burden on voters. Automatic voter registration (A.V.R.) takes the process a step further, placing the responsibility on the state. As it is, the United States is one of the few democratic nations that place the registration burden on voters, leaving up to a third of eligible citizens unregistered. Canada’s automatic system has registered more than 90 percent of those eligible.

Had the Illinois measure gone forward, it would have added two million potential new voters to the rolls once it began in 2018. A more immediate effect would have been to update the registration of an estimated 700,000 voters in time for this November’s elections.

Mr. Rauner insisted he supports increased access to the polls. But he warned of possible fraud, a card red-state Republicans have been playing as they engineer thinly veiled voter suppression drives directed at young new voters and ethnic groups seen as more favorable to Democrats. Repeated research has shown the threat of fraud to be minuscule. But that hasn’t stopped the introduction of unreasonably stringent identification standards in a presidential election year in more than a dozen states.

A healthy voting system is needed more than ever, particularly as Donald Trump is cynically telling voters the process may be rigged (unless, of course, he’s the winner). Oregon was the first to enact A.V.R. in March 2015, and the initial results have shown the registration rate more than tripling to 15,000 potential new voters per month, including a surge in young Republican registrants. Oregon started automatic registration of voters in January, the first state to do so. Its average monthly number of new registrations went up nearly fourfold under the program compared with previous election cycles. cycles.

California approved A.V.R. last October, and the results will be closely studied once it takes effect next year. The state is trying to cure a low registration rate of 42 percent, with more than six million eligible residents unregistered. This year, Vermont and West Virginia enacted A.V.R. on the strength of bipartisan support, and Connecticut ordered the innovation administratively. Gov. Chris Christie, amid his failed run for the Republican presidential nomination, foolishly vetoed A.V.R. for New Jersey voters, citing the nonexistent threat of voter fraud.

In Illinois, Mr. Rauner’s critics think he wants to skirt the issue to avoid a voter registration surge in 2018, when he intends to run for re-election. The Legislature should not hesitate to override his veto later this year.

Friends of Rocky Glen Donate $20,000


Heartland Festival Orchestra 8th season opens on September 10th at Five Points Washington

Committed to giving back to the community, the Heartland Festival Orchestra continues its tradition of partnering with deserving local nonprofit organizations in 2016/17 – Season 8.  In connection with each concert, the Heartland Festival Orchestra makes a monetary contribution to the community partner, shares the onstage spotlight before each concert with the partner’s spokesperson, and offers the partner an opportunity and venue to showcase its programs for concert-goers.  The Heartland Festival Orchestra was honored with the 2015 Community Relations of the Year award by the Illinois Council of Orchestras.

Community Partners for Season 8 are:

  • Community Workshop and Training Center
  • We Care of Morton 
  • Peoria Regional Learning Center
  • Pediatric Resource Center
  • Ruby’s Rescue & Retreat
  • Operation Santa

More information about the Heartland Festival Orchestra may be found at

For further information please contact me at 309-339-3943 or

Thank you in advance for any coverage.

More than 150 attend re-dedication of Ingersoll Statue in Lower Glen Oak Park


Peorian Ken Hofbauer, center, is speaking before the formal re-dedication of the Robert G. Ingersoll statue in Lower Glen Oak Park. Hofbauer and his wife Cheryl spearheaded the effort to restore the statue, and they are among the names of major benefactors listed on a plaque.

More than 150 people from several states and throughout Illinois attended the ceremony. The statue had not undergone an extensive restoration since it was first erected in 1911 and dedicated before a crowd of 6,000 people.

Ingersoll, who lived from 1833 to 1899, was a renowned orator, free thinker and atheist, often referred to as “The Great Agnostic.” He served as attorney general of Illinois and maintained an extensive legal practice in Peoria, Washington, D.C., and New York. The statue was created by sculptor Fritz Triebel. Sculptor Zenos Frudakis volunteered to oversee the restoration that was funded by contributions from Freedom from Religion Foundation, The Robert Green Ingersoll Memorial Committee and the Peoria Secular Humanist Society.

Cleve Heidelberg’s murder conviction to be reviewed


Mae Winston, Cleve Heidelberg’s sister, has sent her brother spending money every month for the past 45 years that he’s been in prison on a murder conviction. She has never doubted his innocence. Winston sits outside the courtroom here with her daughters Thursday waiting for a hearing to begin to consider naming a special prosecutor to review the 1970 murder conviction of her brother.


After 45 years in prison and repeated petitions, Cleve Heidelberg won his first court victory of sorts Thursday. His murder conviction in the shooting death of Peoria County Sheriff’s Sgt. Raymond Espinoza will be formally reviewed by a special prosecutor.

Saying he was sufficiently concerned about the 1970 investigation and prosecution of Heidelberg, Judge Albert Purham, Tenth Judicial Circuit Court, ruled a special prosecutor would be appointed and set Sept. 22 for a hearing on the appointment.

Attorneys Andrew Hale and Don Jackson represented Heidelberg who was in court for the proceeding.

During the 1½-hour hearing, Purham listened intently as Hale reviewed new evidence and pointed out procedural problems with the case.

Hale said he has worked on literally hundreds of cases and has never seen anything like the Heidelberg case in terms of problems.

“The entire case was manufactured,” he said.

“This case is begging for justice.”

Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady had previously declined to reopen the case saying he did not find any new evidence to convince him Heidelberg was innocent.

Brady attended the Thursday hearing only briefly to observe. Deputy chief assistant state’s attorney Larry Evans objected to appointment of a special prosecutor, saying that Hale’s case was nothing more than trying to deliver closing arguments for a case that was settled 46 years ago.

All the evidence was heard and presented to the jury and justice was done, Evans said.

Evans accused Hale of trying to claim police, the sheriff’s department and the state’s attorneys office were all part of a conspiracy in 1970 to convict Heidelberg.

“There is no case here, so no special prosecutor should be appointed,” Evans said.

Heidelberg, 73, has consistently maintained he is not guilty. At the hearing Thursday, he told the judge he was prepared to argue for a post conviction petition for his immediate release. He cited his age and terminal medical diagnosis of congestive heart failure.

He told the judge he was unable to get the medical treatment he needed while in prison.

Judge Purham set a hearing on that portion of Heidelberg’s petition for Sept. 22 immediately following the hearing on the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Heidelberg’s sister Mae Winston, 77, was in court for the hearing. In frail health herself, she was tearful during some of the proceeding.

Winston has sent her brother spending money every month during his 45 years in prison.

Outside the courtroom she said, “I pray for the Espinoza family. They lost someone. I pray they consider that we lost someone. I know my brother is innocent.”

May 26, 1970, Sgt. Espinoza was shot and killed in his patrol car when he responded to a call about a robbery in progress at the Bellevue Drive-In movie theater off Harmon Highway. Heidelberg’s car was at the scene and police were led on a high-speed chase to the corner of Blaine and Butler where the car crashed into a parked vehicle. The driver jumped out and fled north.

Heidelberg said he had loaned his car to a friend. He was arrested later walking toward his car from the opposite end of Butler Street.

During the hearing Thursday, Hale said a number of witnesses who took the Fifth Amendment at the 1970 trial and declined to answer questions are now ready to come forward and testify under oath.

Reached after the hearing, Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady said the appointment of a special prosecutor is separate from the pending post conviction issue and that must be addressed and clarified.

Plate of the Union

Food Politics

From Marion Nestle

Plate of the Union goes Presidential

Posted: 27 Jul 2016 06:56 AM PDT

Food Policy Action wants presidential candidates to talk about food issues.  Its Plate of the Union campaign says:

Our food system is out of balance, and it’s time to take action.  Current food policies prioritize corporate interests at the expense of our health, the environment, and working families. This has led to spikes in obesity and type-2 diabetes, costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year. If you are elected president, I urge you to take bold steps to reform our food system to make sure every American has equal access to healthy, affordable food that is fair to workers, good for the environment, and keeps farmers on the land.

Here’s what the campaign is doing, courtesy of today’s New York Times:

In an e-mailed press release (which I can’t find online), Food Policy Action says:

Plate of the Union leaders Tom Colicchio, Ricardo Salvador and Navina Khanna spoke with Congressional members and staff, delegates and other convention-goers about commonsense steps the next president can take to change the status quo of the nation’s food policy, which currently prioritizes corporate interests at the expense of food and farm workers, and which is making Americans increasingly sick.

“When elected leaders talk about creating good jobs and boosting the economy, they absolutely have to consider food and farm policies,” said Navina Khanna, director of HEAL Food Alliance. “Six of the eight worst-paying jobs in America are in the food system. Our current food system was designed to benefit a few corporations at the expense of working families. That’s got to change.”

Rededication of Robert Ingersoll Statue

The Peoria Park District’s Board of Trustees will dedicate the restored Robert Ingersoll statue at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 11 in lower Glen Oak Park where the statue has been located since 1911.

Ingersoll was an orator, statesman, free thinker and attorney general of Illinois. The bronze statue of Ingersoll was created by Fritz Triebel. The statue was recently restored by Laran Bronze Foundry and Otto Baum Construction Co. The restoration was funded by contributions from Freedom from Religion Foundation, The Robert Green Ingersoll Memorial Committee, Peoria Secular Humanist Society and several private donors.

For more information, contact Sandra Mitchell at Peoria Park District, 681-2838.