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Faith Coalition for the Common Good Gets Rail Ombudsman Hired

Posted by: Gordon on 7/15/2014
Faith Coalition news conference
Pastor Silas Johnson of Faith Coalition spoke at a news conference to announce a new ombudsman to ensure people of color in Springfield get a fair price for homes in the area slated for redevelopment when high-speed rail comes to town.

Faith Coalition for the Common Good (FCCG), the Springfield, Illinois-based Gamaliel affiliate, has gotten the city to hire an ombudsman as part of the Rail Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) for a major rail consolidation project.

The ombudsman will help those owners and renters relocated by rail construction to receive a fair amount for their properties. "FCCG pushed for the ombudsman," said Shelly Heideman, FCCG Executive Director, "and we organized for them to pick one of the persons we recommended." Retired associate judge Theodis Lewis will fill the role.

In addition to relocation assistance, the Rail CBA’s 5-point platform includes local jobs with equal opportunity for employment, economic development, funding for job training, and citizen-led monitoring of transportation infrastructure projects.

The next step for FCCG is to push the federal government to update women and minority hiring regulations. Current requirements from 1979 are far below those set forth by the Rail CBA. FCCG is sending letters of support from local decision makers to the Federal Department of Labor and President Obama, and will be attending an August 14th statewide public meeting in East St. Louis to ask Governor Quinn and Senator Durbin for their support.

FCCG and the ombudsman will work with IDOT to ensure the proper implementation of the Rail CBA.

In its ongoing work the organization has won broad support. U.S. Sen. Durbin, State Sens. Manar and McCann, state Rep. Scherer, and the city of Springfield and Illinois Department of Transportation, have all signed on to support the CBA.
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