Cliff Wirth

"I don't know if I can take another 20 years of this!"

View more cartoons by Cliff Wirth.
Celebrate CUB's 20th Anniversary
News release - June 29, 2004
Mayor declares CUB week in Peoria
Citizens Utility Board celebrates 20 years of success and $10 billion in consumer savings

PEORIA, Ill. — Peoria Mayor Pro Tem Marcella Teplitz joined Citizens Utility Board (CUB) Executive Director Martin Cohen and CUB Board of Directors President Randy Fritz to commemorate 20 years of advocacy by the consumer watchdog group in Illinois. Teplitz presented a proclamation congratulating CUB for its efforts and declared the week of June 28-July 3, 2004 CUB week in Peoria on behalf of Mayor David Ransburg.

“CUB has worked hard to fight for consumers in our city and all over the state to ensure fair utility prices for all Illinoisans. I congratulate CUB for a job well done, and look forward to working with the watchdog group for another 20 years,” said Teplitz.

CUB has saved consumers $10 billion over the last 20 years, including a record $224 million phone bill credit for SBC/Ameritech customers in 2002 and lower electric rates for consumers across the state. Those lower rates are locked in until 2006 as part of a 1997 electric industry restructuring law.

“CUB’s job is more crucial now than ever before,” Cohen said. “The utilities always want to dig deeper into consumers’ pockets. And with the enormous changes taking place in the industry today—like new, unregulated companies entering the market—they have a lot of new ways to do it. With the support of Illinois consumers, CUB looks forward to keeping up the fight for decades to come.”

As a service to consumers in the Peoria area, CUB also held a “Community Phone Bill Clinic” at Neighborhood House. CUB experts helped the consumers on hand understand all the confusing phone charges and offered money-saving tips, all while enjoying anniversary, blue and white “CUBcakes.”

CUB is a nonprofit statewide utility watchdog organization created by the Illinois legislature to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility consumers. CUB is funded primarily by its members and by a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation. For information on CUB, visit www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org or call 1-800-669-5556. News release - May 17, 2004
Mayor of Rockford honors CUB for $10 billion in consumer savings
Citizens Utility Board celebrates 20 years of success and announces upcoming phone bill clinic for Rockford residents

ROCKFORD, IL—Mayor Doug Scott joined Citizens Utility Board (CUB) Executive Director Martin Cohen and CUB Board Representative Valeri DeCastris to commemorate 20 years of advocacy by the watchdog group in Illinois.

“I am proud to declare May 17 CUB Day in Rockford,” Mayor Scott said. “CUB has worked hard to fight for consumers in our city and all over the state to ensure fair utility prices for all Illinoisans. I congratulate CUB for a job well done, and look forward to working with the watchdog group for another 20 years.”

CUB has saved consumers $10 billion over the last 20 years, including its most recent victory against a rate-hike plan proposed by ComEd in November, 2003. The consumer group led the successful effort to block special legislation that eventually would have raised electricity rates by $2 billion.

“CUB’s job is more crucial now than ever before,” Cohen said. “The utilities always want to dig deeper into consumers’ pockets. And with the enormous changes taking place in the industry today—like new, unregulated companies entering the market—they have a lot of new ways to do it. With the support of Illinois consumers, CUB looks forward to keeping up the fight for decades to come.”

As a service to consumers in the Rockford area, CUB announced a “Community Phone Bill Clinic,” which will be held on Wednesday, May 26, at 7 p.m. at the Rockford Public Library, 215 N. Wyman St. Consumers are encouraged to bring their phone bills to the free clinic, where CUB experts will help them understand all the confusing phone charges and give them money-saving tips.

Contact
Pat Clark, CUB (312) 263-4282
John Strandin, City of Rockford (815) 987-5590 May 6, 2004
Legislators celebrate CUB's 20th anniversary
The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) took its birthday party to Springfield recently, delivering about 650 "CUBcakes" to Illinois legislators, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and other dignitaries to celebrate 20 years of fighting for utility consumers in the halls of the state capitol. (Look at a slide show of that day.)

Legislators who have been friendly to CUB's cause, such as House Speaker Michael Madigan and Sen. Dave Sullivan, joined Executive Director Martin Cohen for the party on April 28 in the capitol rotunda. Meanwhile, CUB staffers worked up a sweat on this hot, sunny day, delivering the "CUBcakes" along with "goodie" bags to all the offices in the state capitol, including those of the legislators, State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, and Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The blue bags, decorated with CUB's logo, were filled with helpful CUB publications as well as a history of CUB's major victories over the last 20 years. The consumer group has saved Illinois utility consumers $10 billion by fighting utility cases in the courts and before the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and pushing for consumer-friendly legislation in Springfield.

By far the most popular "goodies" CUB handed out that day were cupcakes smothered with white frosting and topped with a blue frosting "CUB." The "CUBcakes" were easily gobbled up by hungry capitol workers doing the state's business in Springfield. By the end of the day, all 650 "CUBcakes" were gone. March 29, 2004
Consumers Pack 20th Birthday Party to Celebrate "CUB Day"
About 200 people gathered on a sunny, summer-like Sunday to celebrate the Citizens Utility Board’s 20th birthday party with speeches, balloons, a raffle, and one big birthday cake.


With party balloons in hand, a happy Marie Wieland (right) leaves CUB's 20th birthday party, with her friend, Leticia Jimenez (left), after winning the celebration's raffle. CUB will pay the Chicago woman's electric, gas, and local telephone bills for the month of April.


“This is CUB Day in Illinois,” declared Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, before cutting CUB’s birthday cake—a round, 85-pound cheesecake, about eighteen inches wide and eighteen inches thick, with cherries and whipped cream on top. (To see the cake and other highlights of the party, look at CUB's slide show of the day.)

Quinn in the early 1980s spearheaded a referendum effort that led to the creation of CUB, which has saved utility consumers $10 billion.

“CUB is an example of David versus Goliath, and as you know Goliath fell and David won,” Quinn said. “And CUB has won over and over again.”

During the celebration, at Chicago's Copernicus Center on Sunday, March 28, CUB awarded four people, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, for their work on behalf of utility consumers across Illinois.

Frank Piatek, a retired mail carrier and neighborhood activist, was given the Lifetime Award for Consumer Advocacy for his support of CUB from its very beginning and his involvement in numerous campaigns to fight utility rate hikes.


Longtime CUB members Cathy Lisk (left), Annie Vargas (center), and Edith Schwartz (right) say "Happy Birthday, CUB!" at the consumer group's 20th anniversary celebration.


“I think we’ve accomplished a lot, and you know what? You get this inner feeling that you’ve done something,” said Piatek, a World War II veteran who was wearing an American flag pin and a red-and-blue-striped tie covered with white stars. “I mean a lot of people complain, and I say to them, ‘What did you do? Did you go out to a meeting, did you hand out some handbills, did you go with them when they had a protest and they asked you to go?’”

Piatek said the award made him feel like a “big shot,” but he said the honor also belongs to his wife, Doris, who has worked with him side-by-side.

“Without her, I’d be lost,” Frank said. “She calms me down.”

“Well, somebody has to,” Doris added, causing Frank to chuckle.

The other awards were given to three leaders in state government who have fought passionately for utility consumers across Illinois. State Rep. Julie Hamos, of Evanston, and State Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, of Elgin, received CUB’s Legislators of the Year award, for their dedication to consumer issues and their opposition to utility rate-hike legislation.

Attorney General Madigan received CUB's Consumer Protection Award for opposing state legislation that would have raised utility rates and for working with CUB to uncover Peoples Gas' secret deals with Enron that led to customer overcharges. She introduced the lawyers in her “small, but mighty” public utilities bureau.

“They are fighting with you every day,” the attorney general told the crowd. “They are fighting with CUB every day.”

The celebration closed with a free raffle, in which CUB offered to pay some lucky consumer’s electric, natural gas, and local phone bills in April. The winner was Marie Wieland, 78, a retired receptionist from a company that, ironically, made equipment for electric companies such as ComEd.

“I was surprised. I didn’t expect anything like that,” said the Chicago woman, who by the end of the celebration had decorated her cane with blue and white balloons.

Wieland, who is legally blind, didn’t even realize she had won until her neighbor, Leticia Jimenez, looked at her ticket. “I said, ‘Let me see….Oh my Gosh!’” Jimenez said.

Jimenez, who joined CUB after getting fed up with utility rate increases, said Wieland isn’t a CUB member, but her raffle win may change that.

“I’m encouraging her to be a member now,” Jimenez said, laughing.
Take a stroll down memory lane with CUB's slide show, highlighting some of the more interesting images from CUB's past. For more details on a few of the key victories CUB's tiny, hard-working staff has won for Illinois utility consumers over the last 20 years, check out our 20th Anniversary Scrapbook. Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn have congratulated CUB for 20 years of service to the State of Illinois. Read the letter of praise Gov. Rod Blagojevich sent to CUB. Read the proclamation Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn issued in honor of CUB. On March 10, 2004, the following resolution was introduced by Ald. Bernard L. Stone and adopted by the Chicago City Council:



WHEREAS, The Citizens Utility Board, known as CUB, was founded in 1984 to protect utility consumers; and
WHEREAS, CUB has strived for 20 years to represent and serve as a voice for residential and small business consumers; and
WHEREAS, CUB has saved consumers $10 billion by blocking rate hikes and winning consumers refunds from natural gas, electricity and telephone monopolies; and
WHEREAS, CUB advocates in the Illinois General Assembly to promote tough consumer protection laws; and
WHEREAS, CUB represents consumers before the Illinois Commerce Commission to ensure fair rates and high-quality utility services; and
WHEREAS, CUB produces detailed information and materials to help Illinoisans understand the complexities of utility billing and service; and
WHEREAS, funding for CUB does not come from taxpayer dollars, but primarily from a statewide membership of working and retired men and women; and
WHEREAS, CUB works for consumers in many ways, but with only one goal in mind––to do what is the best for the consumers; and
WHEREAS, the Citizens Utility Board will celebrate its 20th anniversary on March 28, 2004 in Chicago and April 28th in Springfield.
BE IT RESOVLED, That we, the Mayor of the City of Chicago and the members of the City Council, do hereby extend their congratulations and best wishes to Citizens Utility Board (CUB) as they celebrate their 20th Anniversary as one of Chicago’s foremost consumer advocates; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of the resolution be presented to the officers of the Citizens Utility Board.

Bernard L. Stone
Alderman, 50th Ward



CITY OF ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
425 EAST STATE STREET
61104



PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS, The Citizens Utility Board, known as CUB, was founded in 1984 to protect utility consumers; and
WHEREAS, CUB has strived for 20 years to represent and serve as a voice for residential and small business consumers; and
WHEREAS, CUB has saved consumers more than $10 billion by blocking rate hikes and winning consumer refunds from natural gas, electricity and telephone monopolies; and
WHEREAS, CUB represents consumers before the Illinois Commerce Commission to ensure fair rates and high-quality utility services; and
WHEREAS, CUB produces detailed information and materials to help Illinoisans understand the complexities of utility billing and service; and
WHEREAS, funding for CUB does not come from taxpayer dollars, but primarily from a statewide membership of working and retired men and women; and
WHEREAS, the Citizens Utility Board is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in Rockford on May 17, 2004;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DOUGLAS P. SCOTT, as Mayor of the city of Rockford do hereby proclaim Monday, May 17, 2004 to be:

“CITIZENS UTILITY BOARD DAY”

in Rockford, Illinois and congratulate The Citizens Utility Board on its 20th year of work as consumer advocates in Illinois.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the city of Rockford to be affixed this 17th day of May 2004.

DOUGLAS P. SCOTT
MAYOR, CITY OF ROCKFORD

Peoria Journal Star - June 30, 2004
Citizens Utility Board celebrates anniversary
By Kevin Sampier


Sauk Valley News - May 26, 2004
Illinois users have saved $10 billion in 20 years, says CUB
by Clark Kelly

Rockford Register Star - May 18, 2004
Citizens Utility Board turns 20
More than 6,000 people call its hot line each year.
By Sarah Roberts

Chicago Tribune - April 11, 2004
CUB becomes a lion in protecting consumer
Watchdog group marks 20 years of battling utilities

By Melita Marie Garza