Tech-Friendly: Research tools and peer-review find my error and clarify the state representative appointment process

July 16, 2014

Paul Gorski

Paul Gorski

By Paul Gorski

I have wanted to write a follow-up to my recent column “Meet John Doe: Climate change is not global warming, and neither are hoaxes,” posted June 18, 2014 (http://rockrivertimes.com/2014/06/18/meet-john-doe-climate-change-is-not-global-warming-and-neither-are-hoaxes/), but readers sent me so many links and references to review that I have not had the time to review them all. I encouraged readers to send me peer-reviewed sources to help ensure accuracy.

An error that I just made in another article has inspired me to double-check all my notes on the global warming topic.

Related to the topic of peer review and using technology to help research topics, I sent a “Meet John Doe” (MJD) article to be published July 16, 2014, to a peer to review. Getting no response, I submitted the article to meet my print deadline. That MJD article discusses the process for the vacancy in our local state representative office. I used the online Illinois state statute search tool at: http://ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs.asp for some of my research.

Although not a true peer-review process, my contact did eventually reply and found an error in my article, an error caused by me not first defining what a “committee” is. The Illinois state statute website is a great resource, but it does not point out that state law defines “committee” differently in different parts of state statute.

I reported my belief, in my MJD article, that the Democratic precinct committee members in the 67th District should vote on the appointment as state law requires the “legislative committee” to vote on the appointment. My belief was based on the definitions of ”committee” for ward, township or county board precinct member committees that refer to the precinct committee people as the “committee” members in those districts.

However, political party state representative district committees are defined differently. In the case of the 67th District, the “committee” starts as a three-person committee, the county central committee chairman and two other people from that district. This three-person committee forms the basis for the three-person panel reported in local media and mentioned by Democratic Party leaders as the method for filling vacancies in state senator and state representative districts.

I learned that, contrary to recent news coverage, that two committee members must be residents of the district with the vacancy, and that these members are elected by the central committee, not appointed by the central committee chairman.

Furthermore, the legislative committee does not have to be limited to three people. Election law allows for the three-person committee, once formed, to expand by electing “other officers as each committee may deem necessary or expedient.” Expanding the committee to include more people would address State Central Committee member Dorothy “Dot” Turner’s request for an open and transparent appointment process. I do not believe this appointment committee will expand beyond three people, but I again thank Dot Turner for raising public awareness about the appointment process.

The lesson learned here is that while we can use technology to help research complicated topics, one should have friends and foe alike review our important content. I plan to send my global warming follow-up article to one person who supported my original article and to another who vehemently challenged it. I hope that will make that follow-up a better article and a very interesting read.

Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.

Posted July 16, 2014

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