Letter to the 1994 Candidates

During the 1994 mid-term election campaigns, CCIA mailed the below letter to over 400 candidates in Illinois. The responses were many and will be distilled and posted here in the coming weeks. The elections are over, but the job has just begun for our recently elected officials. CCIA will continue to pursue our elected officials to heighten their understanding of our issues and to effect positive changes to the budgeting and regulatory environment in 1995.

Please take a few moments to consider your own response to these questions.

The Letter

Dear Candidate:

We believe the growth of new information technologies is having a profound impact on every aspect of our society. These tools are becoming the main way of generating new wealth and providing for our common future.

That's why we are concerned about the growing gap between what has come to be called the "info-rich" and the "info-poor."

Decisions are being made today in this arena that will have a powerful impact on your constituents. Either the policies being launched now will offer a great promise of universal and equitable inclusion in their benefits--such as vastly enhanced private and public communication systems, training centers for the high-tech jobs of the future, intellectual capital for new businesses, and new levels of knowledge advancing our overall health and wellbeing. Or they will pose a great peril of growing and permanent unemployment, greater social fragmentation and breakdown, and new threats to personal privacy and civil liberty.

We want to see information and education policies enacted that benefit everyone in our society, beginning with those with the greatest need.

That's why we are posing the following 10 questions to all candidates for public office in Illinois. We hope you will respond and thus make a valuable contribution to this urgent public debate.

  1. Do you advocate funding for adequate computer labs in all public schools that are readily available for frequent use by all students? "Adequate" means no more equipment sitting in closets, no more untrained teachers or outmoded programs. It means modems and InterNet accounts for students to use exploring the "Information Highway." It means computer shops where students learn to build and repair equipment and use the latest programs.
  2. Do you advocate funding for computer centers in all branches of our public libraries? Will this funding include resources for afterschool programs that keep the branches staffed and open in the evenings? Will it include InterNet access and part-time jobs for college students willing to serve as tutors in the communities?
  3. Do you advocate public funding to assist community-based organizations, such as Boys and Girls clubs and Resident Councils, in developing computer centers for both youth and adult education programs?
  4. Do you advocate an on-line information policy for all levels of government? This would include posting the agendas of public meetings, the text of proposed legislation, the minutes of meetings, the transcriptions of debates and the results of votes on Electronic Bulletin Boards readily available for the public to read and discuss?
  5. Do you advocating public funding to help establish city and town based Free Nets-- public on-line conferencing systems open to all local residents--with gateways to the InterNet?
  6. Do you advocate keeping our present nonrestrictive policies for those people who want to become information providers? This means that aside from basic connectivity charges, it should not cost a person any more money to be a provider as well as an information consumer (either an access provider, source of information, or a value added provider). This is in opposition to the restrictive "Club Fees" being advocated by wealthier institutions that would charge, say, $10,000 to a particular small group or individual in order to set up an InterNet node. These proposed fees are not based on any real cost. There only purpose is to limit the number of providers.
  7. Do you advocate tax incentives (state, county and/or local) for businesses that provide job training and other sources of income for residents over telecommunications networks?
  8. Do you favor public recognition of institutions and individuals that are doing creative or profitable work over the InterNet that benefits everyone? We believe such recognition will help inspire people, especially young people, to learn more about this technology, to use it for their own benefit, and to develop it for the benefit of society.
  9. Do you advocate funding for special training for teachers and librarians to acquire the necessary skills for teaching and using information technology ?
  10. Do you advocate funding the special devices required by the sight-impaired to enable them to make use of on-line services?
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Chicago Coalition for Information Access / Maintained by Robin Burke / burke@cs.uchicago.edu
Last modified: Fri Nov 11 17:16:57 1994