- Published: Thursday, January 29, 2015 04:57 PM
SPRINGFIELD- As Illinois and the city of Springfield prepare for high-speed rail, a local advocacy group is championing legislation to ensure more transparency and accountability throughout the process.
The Faith Coalition for the Common Good, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur) announced a proposal to create the Springfield High-Speed Rail Oversight Commission during a press conference Thursday.
“Despite our best efforts, local decision makers have not kept the promises they made when they signed our rail community benefits agreement. Minority workforce hours have not been made public and the community affected by rail relocation has been left out of the decision making process,” Leroy Jordan, Faith Coalition for the Common Good Rail Task Force Leader, said.
Manar and Scherer will introduce legislation creating a bipartisan commission made up of lawmakers and community leaders to oversee the 10th Street Rail Corridor project.
The commission would be responsible for ensuring guidelines laid out in the program’s community benefits agreement are followed. These guidelines include funding for job training programs, ensuring disadvantaged hiring and contracting objectives are followed. The community benefits agreement sought to include members of the affected communities in the railroad decision-making process.
“Openness and accountability are the keys to success of any government project. We simply want to make sure this project benefits the affected community as much as possible,” Manar said.
"Ensuring the community has a voice in all taxpayer-funded projects is essential," Scherer said. "The High-Speed Rail Oversight Commission will add an extra layer of accountability and transparency, which citizens of Springfield need and deserve."
The commission will have the authority to hold hearings to measure the progress of the project and the fulfillment of these goals. Members of the commission will report to state, county and city officials detailing their findings.
The Faith Coalition for the Common Good is a central Illinois organization of faith and community leaders who work together to identify and correct issues affecting the region.