Another skirmish in war on science; Trump team changes energy information on children educational website

References to the well-documented damage from coal and hydraulic fracturing are among changes made on the “Energy Kids” website.

See article in ProPublica:


Examples of changes:


** On a page dedicated to coal, the following sentences were deleted: “In the United States, most of the coal consumed is used as a fuel to generate electricity. Burning coal produces emissions that adversely affect the environment and human health.”


** “There are environmental concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing” became “Hydraulic fracturing has some effects on the environment.”


**   Deleted:

“The United States, with 4 percent of the world’s population, produced about 17 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels in 2011, the most recent year for which global data are available. The United States has the world’s largest economy and meets 83 percent of its energy needs by burning fossil fuels.”

Hundreds rally in support of Planned Parenthood

Womens Rally Womens Rally Womens Rally Womens Rally Womens Rally


Hundreds of women, men and children lined both sides of Knoxville Avenue Saturday outside of Planned Parenthood to express support for the agency and for the right of women to reproductive health care choice.

Passing cars honked support.

At noon, the crowd numbered about 350 people.

The Rev. Lynnda White supports Planned Parenthood and said, “People have a right to be responsible for their own lives.”

Jonathan Weichmann said, “I’m here for my daughter. She’s 3. Planned Parenthood has to be around for many generations.”

The Rev. Lauren Padgett said, “Pro-choice is pro-life. It’s an individual decision women sometimes have to make and it’s between the woman, her creator and her physician.”

She expressed frustration that people who want abortion outlawed claim they are pro-life but they are often also pro-war, hatred and xenophobia.

Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, said he supports Planned Parenthood and the right to comprehensive women’s health care.

Laura Satterfield of Eureka said she was at the rally “to protect health care for women. It is so important. So many women and men have periods in their lives when they are without insurance. I was one of them, and Planned Parenthood was there for me.”

One of the event organizers, Rosalie Howell, said “Over the next four years, we are going to have to fight for our rights. Yes, we are pro-choice, but Planned Parenthood does so much more.”

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump pledged to criminalize women who have abortions and said he would defund Planned Parenthood.

In 2015, a series of heavily edited videos from a group called Center for Medical Progress purported to show officials from Planned Parenthood discussing the sale of fetal body parts. More than a dozen states launched investigations and found no evidence of illegal tissue harvesting and sales.

Sixty percent of the clients served by Planned Parent are poor women on Medicaid who receive HIV and STD testing, pregnancy tests, cancer screenings and birth control from the organization.

Howell said, these women don’t have any other place to go for reproductive medical care.

Ken Hofbauer held up a poster with wire coat hangers and splatters of red paint and the words “Never Again.”

He said it has been 44 years since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal, and “44 years of failed prayers should give people a hint” that Americans want to keep abortion legal and keep women safe.

The Rev. Dr. Phillip Ladd, one of the faith leaders at the rally, was contacted by Community Word later in the day and sent this statement in response to several questions:

First of all Planned Parenthood is not the abortion mill that the political and religious right would have us believe. They provide a wide range of services that are very important. They provide important medical care and other services to many including the underprivileged population. For some reason, conservative Christians have made opposition to abortion a crucial concern even though there is nothing in Scripture to support their concern. About the only passage that deals with abortion is from Exodus 21: 22-23 where if a man hurts a woman so that she miscarriages, then a fine could be suggested to the courts by the husband. This was written at a time that “a tooth for a tooth and a life for a life” was the law of the land. This would be a force abortion which would still be illegal today. However, Scripture did not treat abortion as a murder. Many people agree that abortions can be performed in cases of rape and incest. Well, when you begin to make exceptions, who gets to make that choice? Who gets to decide what the exceptions are. I believe the woman should be the one to make that choice. For me, that is a moral and ethical issue. One of my signs said, “Pray for Women’s Reproductive Rights”. Pro-lifers say they are supporting life. However, it seems to me that they only “support life” when it comes to controlling women. If they really believed this, they would support life after birth also and support laws to help poor and disenfranchised families. As far as church history, until the mid-1800’s the church did not believe that human life began at conception. Scripture and church history do not consider abortion equal to murder. Jesus always stood up for the rights of others including women. As a person of faith, I try to follow that example. Therefore, I am pro-choice and I support Planned Parenthood.

There was a small counter rally calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood.



Tensions turn Heidelberg hearing “Kafkaesque”

file photo


Heated exchanges, anger and finger pointing erupted during a 2 ½-hour hearing Thursday in an ongoing case reexamining the 1970 murder conviction of Cleve Heidelberg for the shooting death of Peoria County Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Espinoza.

On the stand during the entire proceeding was former prosecutor in the case Ron Hamm, 75.

Heidelberg, 74, entered the courtroom in handcuffs accompanied by two corrections officers. His handcuffs were removed and he sat at the defense table with his attorneys. He and Hamm never seemed to make eye contact.

Andy Hale, attorney representing Heidelberg, attempted to show documents were either withheld from Hamm during the trial or false police reports were provided to the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s Office where Hamm worked as an assistant Peoria County State’s Attorney.

In reexamining documents from the original trial, Hale told Judge Albert Purham the “entire investigation was corrupt.”

Matt Jones, representing the state, countered saying this “reads like a crime novel. This is a fishing expedition.”

Hale told the judge “the entire case is not reliable and not credible” and he was establishing the foundation for that allegation. He said after arresting Cleve Heidelberg hours after the shooting, police were faced with having holes in their case against him.

People who were at a bar in Peoria with Heidelberg at the time of the shooting were not called to testify. Two eyewitnesses who were at the Bellevue Drive-In movie theater at the time of the shooting were unable to identify Heidelberg in a lineup, but the police report provided to the court indicated both witnesses identified Heidelberg as the shooter.

Police officers claimed they could identify Heidelberg driving the escape car even though they trailed way behind as the car sped through narrow Southside Peoria streets at night going 70 m.p.h.

In one police report, Heidelberg was quoted saying “I know I done it. I’m guilty. I want to talk with my attorney and make a statement.”

Hamm looked at that report and said he was sure he had never seen it before or he would have introduced it as evidence. Heidelberg has consistently maintained he was innocent and never confessed.

Hale referred to FBI reports indicating no fingerprints were found linking Heidelberg to the crime, but those reports were never presented to the court during the original trial in which Heidelberg was convicted and sentenced to 99 to 175 years in prison.

Hamm said, “There were no FBI fingerprint reports.”

Hale said, “We now have the FBI reports” and contended this showed a pattern of selectively including or excluding evidence from the trial.

In a two-hour videotaped deposition played in court the previous day, Matt Clark testified that his brother James Clark confessed to shooting Espinoza.

Hamm testified Thursday the name James Clark never came up in court during the original trial. Hale asked about people who said that Heidelberg had loaned his car to Lester Mason and James Clark later borrowed the car from Mason.

Hamm said he was unaware Heidelberg’s car had been loaned to James Clark.

Hamm said he had no recollection that FBI agents were sent to Rock Island to interview James Clark who had moved there from Peoria. Hamm had no recollection of an article running in the Peoria Journal Star based on an interview with James Clark confessing to the shooting.

The original trial was December 1970. Sentencing was in January 1971. The Journal Star article ran in February 1971.

Hamm said he was unaware of the newspaper article.

Matt Jones objected to numerous questions asked by Hale and said the law does not allow for the retrial of the case.

“We’ve already seen lots of problems with this case, but he can’t relitigate this case,” Jones objected, adding that it was questionable if all this new information would have changed the outcome of the original trial.

In one objection Jones alluded to alleged manufactured evidence, suppressed FBI reports, coerced witnesses and false reports as “Kafkaesque” contentions.

Hale’s co-counsel Amy Hijjawi countered that it shows prejudice.

During a hearing Wednesday, Hale vehemently objected to Judge Purham that despite numerous requests under the Freedom of Information Act, he had learned just days earlier of the existence of four boxes of documents from the original trial that were not turned over to him.

He was given access to those boxes following the hearing Wednesday.

On Thursday he told Purham that there were six boxes of documents that were being copied, and in reading just some of the documents he saw a notation of the serial number of the gun used in the shooting and the name and address of the gun owner. It was not Cleve Heidelberg.

“That was never brought up at trial,” Hale said. “I just saw the document yesterday.”

The case continues on Feb. 28.


Pro Bono Group Hosts Free Legal Clinic

Volunteer attorneys and paralegals will assist clients at Prairie State Legal Services this Saturday Feb. 11. 
Attorney and paralegal volunteers will staff a free Legal Advice Clinic  9 
a.m. to 12 p.m. Feb. 11 at Prairie State Legal Services, 331 Fulton Street, Suite 600 in Peoria.

Clients applied for 
services through Prairie State Legal Services ahead of time to receive help with family law issues, housing 
issues, debt issues, expungement and other civil legal matters. 
For poor and underrepresented people, families and communities, financial difficulties often go hand-in-
hand with legal issues. When basic fundamentals like health care, housing, food, safety and employment 
may be out of reach, instances of workplace discrimination, denial of benefits, disability, evictions or 
domestic violence might push an already struggling family over the edge. 
While there is a constitutional right to legal representation in criminal matters, no such protection exists 
for civil legal matters. Receiving legal assistance allows people to rise out of poverty and live more healthy, 
prosperous and fulfilling lives. Addressing legal issues is also a critical preventative measure, keeping 
families and communities housed, fed, healthy and safe. Expanding and promoting the availability of civil 
legal aid for people who are underrepresented or living in poverty is one of the most effective ways to 
improve their lives and the overall well-being of a community. 
Almost 33 percent of Illinois’ residents are low-income, with 14.3 percent of the total population living in poverty and 
6.8 percent living in extreme poverty. Peoria County has an even higher poverty rate of 16.7 percent.

At this free Legal 
Advice Clinic, volunteer attorneys and paralegals will provide critical legal assistance to Peoria residents 
that are part of this vulnerable population. 
This clinic is sponsored by PILI’s Tenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee, Prairie State Legal Services, 
the Immigration project and the Peoria County Bar Association. 
PILI’s Tenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee is a group comprised of lawyers and judges that strives 
to enhance equal access to justice by encouraging and promoting pro bono work in the Tenth Judicial 
Circuit, including Marshall, Peoria, Putnam, Stark and Tazewell counties. 
Learn more at 
About Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI): PILI is a nonprofit organizations with a mission is to cultivate a 
lifelong commitment to public interest law and pro bono service within the Illinois legal community to 
expand the availability of legal services for people, families and communities in need. Founded in 1977, 
PILI envisions a legal community with a deeply rooted culture of service, where law students, lawyers and 
legal professionals at all stages of their careers engage in public interest law or pro bono work, and remain 
committed to addressing the unmet legal needs of the poor and underrepresented. 
To learn more about this clinic, PILI or the Tenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee, visit, 
or contact PILI Program Director Beth Jensen at or 309-999-9890. 


New financial risks faced over apartments proposed at Riverfront Park



The news that Caterpillar, Inc. is cancelling its downtown Peoria expansion raises new concerns about the proposed River Trail Apartments in Riverfront Park.


Friends of Riverfront Park believe that local taxpayers are facing new financial risks if those apartments are built.


Friends of Riverfront Park again calls on the Peoria City Council to withdraw the application to the National Park Service to swap this lovely parkland for other land.


Meanwhile the group is holding a fund-raiser Sunday, February 12th from 3 to 5 p.m. at the GAR Hall, 116 Hamilton, at the corner of Hamilton and Madison Streets in Peoria. The event will raise money for a possible lawsuit if needed to stop this project. If not, the funds will go to protect and preserve the park.


Noted history re-enactor Brian Fox Ellis will become Captain Henry Detweiller to tell of his adventures guiding riverboats for the Union soldiers during the Civil War.


Barry Cloyd, popular singer and composer, will add river songs and music. Refreshments and a silent auction with art, antiques, collectibles and other items will take place. Donations will be accepted to save Riverfront Park. More information is on Facebook at Friends of Riverfront Park.


The park is in jeopardy. Plans call for over $4 million in City bonds to be sold for building new infrastructure for the proposed luxury apartments, including a dead-end street to the apartments cutting through the existing park from the RiverPlex parking lot. The City is also paying for the parking lot and landscaping for the apartments because they are all considered part of the “site remediation” for the land.


The City and local taxpayers are also responsible for paying extra costs the developer would encounter with the building pilings and other aspects of construction due to previous contamination of the land and unknown underground conditions at the site from when it was a railroad maintenance area. It is considered a hazardous waste site that must be remediated.


These costs could well exceed the City bonded amount and the amount the apartments can pay back for the bond via a TIF district. The City is liable for paying any shortages on the TIF funding, just as in the Knoxville Avenue grocery store complex that failed and now will cost the City and taxpayers more than $1 million.


The project was sold to city officials when Caterpillar Inc. was expected to employ millennial generation workers with incomes enabling them to afford the apartments. But now the city would do well to focus on the Warehouse District where the investment in infrastructure is already in place.


The National Park Service has not approved the City’s application for replacing the public open space at Riverfront Park. The park land proposed for sale was purchased in the 1980’s with federal public dollars from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Dorothy Sinclair, a City Council member at the time, led the effort to obtain this riverfront land for a park. She and others intended the area to remain a public park.


The land is on a shelf above the river and does not flood, and it is near important archaeological sites, including the first French Fort at Peoria and known Native American encampments.


The area the City is proposing for replacement of the current park floods, and also contains hazardous waste that must be remediated.


Construction of the apartments are to be done in the park area off of Morton Street at the riverfront, ruining the park now used by families and neighbor residents for soccer games and other recreation. The existing park includes a historic railroad turntable, a last reminder of the train service yards that covered the location for over 100 years. It also contains a prairie, trees, and is a habitat for Monarch butterflies and many birds, mammals and insects. All will be displaced if the apartments are built.


The National Park Service has asked the public to once again comment on the environmental assessment the city filed on this project. The document can be found on the city’s website at                                     The deadline for comments is Feb. 20.








Drama and emotion in 4-hour hearing in Cleve Heidelberg murder case

Cleve Heidelberg listened in court as his attorneys asked Peoria County Circuit Judge Albert Purham for Heidelberg’s immediate release after 47 years in prison. Later in the hearing, Heidelberg sat intently watching a two-hour videotaped deposition by Matt Clark testifying that his brother James Clark had confessed to the shooting murder of Peoria County Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Espinoza. Heidelberg has always maintained his innocence.



In a videotaped deposition played in Peoria County Circuit Court on Wednesday, a dying 76-year-old man testified his brother James Clark had confessed to the shooting murder of Peoria County Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Espinoza in May 1970.

Cleve Heidelberg had been tried and convicted of that murder and has spent the last 47 years in prison. He has always maintained his innocent.

Heidelberg was in court Wednesday and listened intently to the videotaped deposition that had been taken in December 2016 in Las Vegas because Matt Clark is unable to travel and is currently undergoing chemotherapy for bone cancer. Matt Clark said he was speaking out now because his brother James is dead. Matt Clark said he had not wanted his testimony used to sentence his brother to life in prison or the death penalty.

In questioning by attorney Andy Hale, Clark said he took the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify at the trial in 1970. Clark also said he had been arrested by Peoria police on a drug charge and was told the charge could be dropped if he would supply information about Heidelberg’s guilt. He declined.

Hale asked him what he would say to people skeptical of the veracity of his testimony now so many decades after the murder.

“What do I have to gain? Just personal knowledge before I leave this Earth that I can set something right,” Clark said, noting his brother James died two years ago and he now felt free to speak about his knowledge of the crime.

Asked about the decades Heidelberg has been in prison, Clark said, “Very bad. Nothing to be done but there is now an opportunity for him to be free before he dies. But the damage is already done.”

Clark said a younger brother, Mark Clark, had been killed in a police raid on the Black Panther headquarters in Chicago in 1969. He said his brother James told him he shot the Peoria County officer in retaliation for Mark’s killing.

“Mark’s death had affected him, and he looked for an opportunity for payback. He seemed proud he did it,” Matt Clark said referring to the shooting of Deputy Espinoza.

Earlier in the hearing, attorneys Andy Hale and Amy Hijjawi expressed outrage that dozens of documents, possibly four boxes of documents, were not released to them despite numerous requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

Peoria County State’s Attorney Larry Evans disputed that charge, saying all documents the office was able to find were sent to Hale. He cited several incidents when documents had been damaged and destroyed by water.

Hale complained to Judge Albert Purham that after months of ongoing foia requests for records, just days before this final third-stage hearing, he learned of the existence of four additional boxes of documents.

“Every day is precious for this man,” Hale said gesturing toward Heidelberg, now 74 and in poor health after 47 years in prison. Hale suggested these four additional boxes of documents are part of a continuing pattern of delay and a failure to seek the truth in this case.

“Obstacle after obstacle after obstacle,” Hale said.

“What is the appropriate remedy? We can ask for a continuance, but there should be more of a remedy. We have shown a pattern of bad faith and there needs to be consequences,” Hale said.

“This man should be set free today to go home today.”

Hale’s co-counsel Amy Hijjawi told Judge Purham, “This is your clarion call for justice. Why these games to prevent truth and justice?”

There is no way to measure the value of a day for Heidelberg at this point, she said, asking Purham to release him.

Matt Jones, representing the state, characterized much of what Hale and Hijjawi said as emotional and irrelevant to the motion under consideration as well as being highly offensive.

Besides the broken pipes and water damage to court documents, many records from the original case had been shipped to Chicago and were destroyed, he said.

“Their appeal to emotion and to put Cleve Heidelberg’s life in your hands is improper,” Jones said, adding he follows the law and has done nothing to obstruct the proceedings in this case.

The state’s attorney’s office indicated all documents in the newly discovered boxes would be available for Heidelberg’s attorneys Wednesday afternoon.

The judge set a hearing for 3:30 p.m. Thursday for testimony from Ron Hamm, an original prosecutor in the case in 1970. He granted a continuance in the case and set 10 a.m. Feb. 28 for the next hearing.

Heidelberg is returning to Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg.


January 27, 2017

National Association for the Advancement of

Colored People, Peoria Branch

Contact Person: Marvin Hightower, President


Phone: 614-309-8752


The Peoria NAACP will host a candidate forum for the City of Peoria mayoral and Peoria Township supervisor races at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 9, 2017, at the Ward Chapel AME Church, located at 511 N. Richard Allen Drive in Peoria.

In the mayoral race, incumbent Jim Ardis is challenged by G. Marie Kennell and Couri Thomas.

The following are running for Township Supervisor: Democrats Frank Abdnour, Harvey Burnett, Evonne Fleming, Clyde Gulley Jr., and Samuel Joseph, and Republicans Michael Aiello and Daniel Sullivan.

The primary election will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The deadline to register to vote is Tuesday, Jan. 31. Individuals can register online, confirm registration status or obtain additional information on registration, on the Peoria County Election Commission Web site at

Early voting for the 2017 Primary Election is Thursday, Jan., 19 through Monday, Feb. 27 in the Election Commission Office, 542 SW Adams in Peoria and Thursday, Feb. 23 through Saturday, Feb. 25 at Illinois Central College – North Campus, 5407 N. University Street in Peoria. Information on early voting may be found at

Peoria water: panel to discuss public or private ownership

League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria Program: Should There be Public Ownership of the Water Company?

The Greater Peoria League of Women Voters will hold a program on public ownership of the water company on Thursday, February 2 at 6pm at the AMT Auditorium, 1718 N. Sterling Ave, Peoria.

A panel from the League Water Ownership study committee will present various aspects of water distribution system ownership, including: rates, maintenance of the infrastructure, public health, water supply and quality, and economic viability of the region as it relates to water.

The program is free and open to the public.

Nearly 100 rally in Peoria against Trump immigration ban

Womens Rally

Teresa Brockman holds her sign “Welcome the Stranger – Basically the Whole Bible” at the Peoria rally protesting Donald Trump’s immigration order.

Peoria was one of scores of locations across the country with protest rallies over the weekend against President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Becca Taylor, organizer of the Peoria rally, said she started posting information about 9 a.m. Sunday morning, and four hours later people filled the sidewalk in front of the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Peoria on the corner of Main and Monroe streets with posters calling for an end to Trump’s action.

People stomped their feet and layered with jackets, coats and blankets in below freezing temperatures and a frigid breeze.

To cheers and honks from passing cars, protesters chanted, “No Ban. No Wall. Trump will not divide us all;” “Build bridges, not walls;” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go.”

Lauren Padgett participated in the Peoria protest and said, “Unless you are 100 percent Native American, we are all immigrants.”

Trump is turning away vetted refugees, she said, pointing out that in 1936, a ship with more than 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler was turned back when it approached Miami. Subsequently, hundreds of the ship passengers were killed either in concentration camps or through other acts of religious persecution.

“One reason we have been so open to refugees is because of that huge shame, that huge scar on our country,” Padgett said. “We have got to know our history.”

State Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, was at the Peoria rally and said, “We are at a crossroads in this country. Make sure members of Congress feel the heat. Contact your representatives and let them know you want to move forward as a just and inclusive society.”

One of Koehler’s senate colleagues, Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, joined a protest at O’Hare International Airport Saturday night.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., held a press conference Sunday saying he is considering legislation to overturn Trump’s executive order but needs some Republicans to support the bill.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday the Trump order will make America less safe and will boost ISIS propaganda.

MSNBC commentator Christopher Hayes tweeted, “The Women’s March was astounding but it was planned for two months. Tonight was a spontaneous national protest. Never seen anything like it.”

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin tweeted, “Thank you @ACLU for your quick work” and “It’s clear these executive orders were slapped together without a plan to implement them – I call on @POTUS to end these cruel policies now.”


Black Lives Matter Co-founder, Activist To Speak at Bradley

For immediate release
Black Lives Matter Co-founder, Activist To Speak at Bradley
Peoria, IL – January 25, 2017 – Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder and national organizer of the Black Lives Matter movement​, will give a presentation at Bradley University on February 23. ​
Cullors will discuss her work as an activist, an artist, and a lifelong organizer and educator​, as well as the role of Black Lives Matter in 21st century social justice at 7 p.m. in Renaissance Coliseum.

​A Q&A session will follow​.
​The program is free and open to the public.
The program is sponsored by Bradley’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program, the African American Studies Program and Sociology Club with numerous campus and community co-sponsors.