September 23, 2014
Dennis Roarty may be wearing a DePaul shirt, but he is a former staffer for the UIC College of Education and now consults with UIC. He has formed a tech group to work on Illinois’s pension crisis.
DENIS ROARTY was looking for an educational topic to explore when he first attended an “Open Gov Hack Night” at the technology start-up 1871 Technology Center in the Merchandise Mart. Instead, as a “future retiree,” he decided to start a group that is examining Illinois’s pension problems.
THE OPEN City organization (www.opencityapps.org) hosted the event, and hosts other Open Gov Hack Nights as well. Open City is a group that creates apps with open data to improve transparency and understanding of government. Open Gove Hack Nights (http://opengovhacknight.org/) are for individuals interested in building, sharing, and learning about civic technology.
A FULL-TIME software developer for the College of Education at UIC until earlier this year, Roarty now is a consultant for UIC and has begun his own company, Co-Knowledge.org.
“I WANT to see the pension problem solved in a sane way,” Roarty said. Right now, the pension reform is so complex that it needs close examination in various ways. “It is hard for people – pensioners, taxpayers, to make any sense of it all,” he added.
“ALL WE WANT to do is create a model that is acceptable to both sides of the debate,” Roarty said. “We want to bypass all the complex formulas and rules that don’t really mean anything to those people.”
“OUR GOAL is through this modeling, taxpayers and pensioners can see clearly what portion of this $80 billion in debt is going to fall into their laps,” he added. The group is downloading data, largely actuarial reports, that are available online. By using the data, people will be able to model their own pension figures or look at the State as a whole.
ROARTY PITCHED the idea to the Open Gov group about six weeks ago in the tech center, and now has a number of collaborators. An economist, a lawyer, two data scientists, and two programmers have joined his team. Additional members are welcome to attend the sessions at that begin at 6 p.m. Tuesdays in the 1871 Technology Center in the Merchandise Mart’s Suite 1212.
FOR THE pension analysis, Roarty said, “We can see that as a good use of public data.” If the group has difficulty obtaining information, it will file Freedom of Information requests. Once all possible online information is collected, the group will move on to do models of current pension plans, proposed pension reform plans, and plans from other states. Membership guides and other outside sources will be searched. “At some point, we need to start consulting with experts,” he said. “We know that is going to be a very complex process.”
“WE WANT this to be agnostic of political views” when the group reaches its conclusions, Roarty said. “Repairing the underfunded system will impact current pensioners and taxpayers as well as future pensioners and future taxpayers. Our goal is to create a context that simplifies the complex formulas and lets pensioners and taxpayers draw their own conclusions and understandings so they can inform the political debate, not us.”
A RESEARCH assistant professor in UIC’s School of Public Health, Alexander “Sasha” Gutfraind also is a participant in Open Hack Night.
“THE OPEN Gov Hack group is unique in serving valuable public missions, while at the same time helping the hackers network and master powerful analytical tools,” Gutfraind said. “I have not found a project yet, but generally I am interested particularly in work that is relevant to public health, which is the area of my research at UIC. Perhaps I will start a new project to lead this work.”
OPEN GOV Hack Night is organized by Open City and documented by the Smart Chicago Collaborative. On a recent Tuesday, more than 50 people, most under 40 and most men, met at 6 p.m. for the opening session with free pizza. They heard a presentation from a group that explained how data has been mined for revealing which City lots will be sold for $1 to current residents of two impoverished neighborhoods. At 7 p.m., the group broke up into smaller gatherings such as Roarty’s which had a half-dozen in it.
FOR NEWCOMERS, Christopher Whitaker each week leads an orientation session to teach what civic hacking is all about. Others teach programming. Various aspects of transportation, education, the environment, and social service delivery are among the topics being probed.
FOR MORE information about the pension group, contact Roarty at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Gutfraind is at email@example.com. Open Gov Hack Night details are at www.opengovhacknight.org.
APAC will coordinate a Town Hall meeting with President Robert A. Easter.
PRESIDENT EASTER will discuss the state of the University.
THE EVENT is open to all staff, faculty, staff and students, and you will have an opportunity to submit questions for President Easter during registration.
A BRIEF additional Q&A will conclude the event.
THE EVENT is coordinated by APAC (http://uicapac.blogspot.com/) and will be webcast at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/uic-apac
FOR QUESTIONS, contact Michael Moss, APAC Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DON KAMM, Assistant Director of the Office of Access and Equity, has resigned as an APAC member “due to increased work-related demands in OAE,” said Michael Moss, Chair of APAC. “Donn has played a vital role getting our Professional Development Committee established and we very much appreciate his service to APAC and the campus.”
By Katherine Vega
DISPUTE RESOLUTION Services (DRS) is a resource available to all staff, as well as faculty and students, that provides interpersonal counseling services for those facing conflicts in the workplace or the classroom.
“DRS PROVIDES private consultation, facilitation, and mediation services to faculty, staff, and students on a wide variety of issues,” said Kathy Irving, Assistant Equal Opportunity Officer. They work by exploring the concerns of the affected parties, meeting with the parties together, and ultimately helping the students, faculty, or staff members come up with a solution to their problem.
DRS IS a proactive program that aims to help solve problems before they grow bigger. “Its purpose is to bring parties to a mutually agreeable resolution of differences before they escalate into formal time-intense grievances, charges, or costly lawsuits,” said Irving.
PEOPLE CAN contact DRS in a wide range of situations, but early intervention is encouraged. “It is suggested that as soon as an individual believes there is unresolved conflict in the workplace, they should contact DRS for an initial consultation,” added Irving. Common issues that DRS mediators address are interpersonal conflicts, lack of communication, toxic work environments, and unclear job expectations.
DRS ENSURES that all inquiries are handled on a case-by-case basis, so there is no “typical” solution to any problem. “Because each inquiry is different…the appropriate handling of an inquiry is best determined only after an initial consultation,” concluded Irving.
Labels: SURS and Benefits
The Women’s Leadership and Resource Center and Campus Advocacy Network are located north of Roosevelt Road and east of Halsted Street just north of the UIC Forum.
THE WOMEN’S Leadership and Resource Center/Campus Advocacy Network has found a new home in Room 286, 728 W. Roosevelt Rd. The new location is spacious and accessible.
THE FACILITIES have a comfortable lounge, work stations, Wi-Fi, gender neutral bathrooms, a lactation relaxation room, a library, a kitchen, a conference room, and programming space with a projector.
THE CENTER and network are open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
CALL (312) 413-1025 for assistance or information
THE WOMEN’S Leadership and Resource Center helps educate and empower the UIC campus on women's issues, and provides a safe environment for women-identified people. See http://www.uic.edu/depts/owa/.
THE CAMPUS Advocacy Network is the confidential campus resource for staff, students, and faculty regardless of social identity who have been victims of sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, stalking, and hate crimes. Advocates will identify all of the options available based on each individual's unique experience with interpersonal violence, and then assist the individual with those options he or she chooses to pursue. For an appointment, call (312) 413-8206. See http://www.uic.edu/depts/owa/advocacy.html.
Labels: Resources and Prof Development
Editor: William S. Bike
Staff: Neal Lorenzi, Gail Mansfield, Susan S. Stevens, Katherine Vega, Monica M. WalkChair: Michael Moss
Vice Chair: Ahlam Al-Kodmany
Secretary: Mary Berta
Treasurer: Colleen Piersen
Web Chair: Jeff Alcantar
Web Chair: Jeff Alcantar