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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Mulligan subject of controversial Democratic ad
by Amy Wooten
2008-10-15

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The Democratic Party of Illinois recently attacked a liberal, pro-choice and pro-LGBT rights Republican state legislator for standing up against conservatives.

Republican State Rep. Rosemary Mulligan received a mailing in her district ( the 65th District, which includes Des Plaines, Park Ridge and portions of Niles ) that attacks her for opposing a bill that would have required mandatory Internet filters on all public library computers. The bill would have also cut certain funding to libraries that did not comply. The mailing, which was sent by the Democratic Party of Illinois, states that Mulligan 'has her head in the ground' on the issue of protecting children from 'Internet predators' because she opposed House Bill 1727, the Internet Screening in Public Libraries Act, last year during a roll-call vote. According to the bill's opponents, Internet filters are ineffective and often block Internet users from information on health, reproductive rights and LGBT issues. Ironically, a number of Democrats also opposed the bill, either because of the cost or because they block useful information.

Mulligan will face Democratic candidate Aurora Austriaco in November. Austriaco, an attorney who serves as a commissioner of the Cook County Human Rights Commission, as well as her supporters, have branded the Democratic candidate a liberal who is pro-choice and is an ally to the LGBT community. She is endorsed by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine and State Sens. Dan Katowski and John Cullerton as well as State Reps. Elaine Nekritz and Lou Lang. Numerous calls and e-mails to both the candidate and her campaign, asking if she supports mandatory Internet filters in public libraries and for her response to the mailing, were not returned as of press time.

This isn't the first time the Democratic Party has attacked moderate and liberal Republicans for supporting issues that many Democrats support. For example, several years ago, the Democratic Party of Illinois sent out a mailing on partial-birth abortion, attacking moderate, pro-choice Republican Lynn Kringler's voting record, according to Personal PAC's Terry Cosgrove.

In May, HB1727 came up for a roll-call vote, and it passed 63-51. A number of Democrats opposed the bill, including openly gay state Rep. Greg Harris and LGBT allies such as Reps. Sara Feigenholtz, Annazette Collins and Harry Osterman. House Speaker Mike Madigan voted for the bill, and Majority Leader and Madigan insider Barbara Flynn Currie, who would typically vote against such a measure, voted 'present.'

Mulligan told Windy City Times that the bill was called 'out of the blue' last year. She feels that it was unexpectedly called just to get a roll-call vote that could later be used against candidates during the campaign.

Mulligan said there were various reasons why she voted against the bill. She said the 'worst part' is that, if passed, it would have cut the Secretary of State's library funding for any library that refused to install the filters. Also, in order to be successful, such filters require an expensive system, constant maintenance and a trained employee.

Mulligan also opposed the filters because she believes they are not effective and can do more harm than good.

'I have had eighth graders tell me they could get around them,' Mulligan said. 'Then, they block accurate information on some topics—health care, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health and information are just a few.' Instead, Mulligan advocates for constant adult supervision of children utliziting library computers.

According to several studies conducted by the Indian Trails Public Library District staff on Illinois libraries that use filters, such items consistently block vital and legally protected information on science, political and social issues and health up to 30 percent of the time while regularly allowing objectionable material to come through. Among Web sites blocked were those referring to hate crimes, certain political candidates, basic health information, slavery, the Archdiocese of Chicago and even the Cook County Sheriff's database on sexual predators.

Due to their ineffectiveness and blockage of useful and legal information, among those opposing HB1727 were the ACLU of Illinois and the Illinois Library Association. The anti-gay Illinois Family Association supported the bill.

Conservatives Democrats and Republicans tended to favor the bill, according to Illinois Library Association lobbyist Kip Kolkmeir. Opponents typically disliked the bill because of the cost or because they block constitutionally protected information.

'These filters are really about filtering out information about women's health, family planning, HIV and sexuality,' said Cosgrove. 'This really effects teenagers, because the internet is really a way for them to get a hold of this stuff.'

Kolkmeier said that the Illinois Library Association has always opposed mandatory Internet filters. The current law allows libraries to install such filters at their own discretion. In addition, filters aim to block sites that are obscene. However, what is obscene is determined in a courtroom, and technology simply isn't sophisticated enough to be an adequate substitute.

'That was a fundamental problem,' Kolkmeier said. 'There is no such thing as software that knows what a court will say.'

Instead, such software attempts to do that by searching for keywords, and this method typically falls short. 'If the keyword blocked is 'breast,' then you aren't going to be able to access information on breast cancer,' Kolkmeier said.

'They ended up blocking information that is absolutely constitutionally protected,' Kolkmeier added. They also, he said, allow through material that may not be constitutionally protected.

Mulligan called the use of the roll call vote in the recent mailing 'so disingenuous,' especially given her record on Internet safety. 'My opponent can't be that uninformed—so she knew exactly what they were doing in using this vote,' she added.

Police brutality trial

starts Dec. 8

A local man's trial against Chicago police officers for allegedly beating him because he is gay is set to begin on Dec. 8.

Openly gay and HIV-positive Chicagoan Alexander Ruppert alleges that Chicago police officers beat him near the Uptown Lounge in March 2006 because of his sexual orientation. According to the lawsuit, Ruppert suffered multiple injuries, including a head wound that required several stitches, and was held for more than 48 hours at the 20th Police District without food and water.

The police officers initially charged Ruppert with battery, but the charges were later dropped.

HIV/AIDS focus

groups forming

Focus groups are being formed that involve: who are HIV-negative or don't know their status; heterosexual men who are HIV-negative; HIV-positive women; HIV-positive transwomen; and teens aged 15-19 who are HIV-negative or don't know their status. RTI International, with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will conduct the research.

Eligible persons will receive $50 each. Call Peyton at 800-334-8571 x27046.


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