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Archive for October 26th, 2010

State’s Attorney’s “Operation Cookie Jar” Probe nabs former Northwest Suburban Township Official

Posted by Admin On October - 26 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

 Funds intended for needy families stolen to pay personal bills and even daughter’s “Sweet 16” birthday party

 

The former welfare director of a northwest suburban government township is the latest public official to be charged in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s ongoing crackdown on local public corruption, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced.

Aurea Picasso, 45, formerly of Aurora, has been charged with Theft from a Government Entity, a Class X felony punishable by six to 30 years in prison. The former Director of Welfare for Hanover Township, Picasso is alleged to have stolen nearly $200,000 in township funds for personal use.

Picasso was scheduled to appear in Central Bond Court October 25, 2010, at 11:45 a.m. at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building in Chicago. She was expected to be transported from the Dwight Correctional Facility where she has been serving a prison term for an unrelated identity theft case. She had been scheduled to be released on parole tomorrow (October 26). Picasso is the eleventh individual to be charged in “Operation Cookie Jar,” an ongoing investigative operation begun last May that targets public or government employees accused of theft or other financial crimes at the local level.

According to prosecutors, Picasso served as Welfare Director for Hanover Township from 2003 until 2009. This department was responsible for providing welfare checks to the needy and also ran a food pantry to provide additional assistance.

While serving as director, the defendant had access the township’s checkbooks as well as an aditional checking account provided by the Salvation Army for emergency situations. Picasso is alleged to have written $124,560 in checks from these accounts to pay for dental work, car insurance, cell phones, and for billis for her daughter’s ‘Sweet 16’ birthday party.

Picasso is also accused of enrolling family, friends, and others for welfare benefits through the Township, and when these checks were processed by the Township, Picaso would forge the signatures and deposit the funds in her bank account, allowing her to steal an additional $68,550.

“Any theft of public money is intolerable, but stealing government funds intended to help families who needed food or welfare assistance may be a new low in Cook County corruption,” Alvarez said. “There is simply no tolerance for the theft of public money and we will prosecute these crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”

In 2009, a new administration took over in Hanover Township and officials because suspicious that funds had been diverted. Township officials contacted the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Public Corruption and Financial Crimes unit and an investigation was initiated. All told, Picasso is aleged to have stolen #193,110 in township funds.

State’s Attorney Alvarez thanked township officials for their cooperation and assistance in the investigation.

Don’t let Halloween shopping turn SCARY

Posted by Admin On October - 26 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

(A Message from the Better Business Bureau)

 

CHICAGO, IL – As Halloween weekend approaches, children and adults alike continue to search for and complete the perfect costume. Whether scary or silly, it’s important to do business with companies you can trust to guarantee treats instead of tricks. The Better Business Bureau offers tips to consumers to avoid being haunted by scammers.

 When shopping for Halloween costumes and other merchandise, the BBB cautions consumers to be careful of seasonal stores and fly-by-night websites. Common complaints include difficulty obtaining refunds and receiving incorrect items regarding this type of merchandise.

 “It may seem like you’re getting a great deal by shopping online or last minute, but it’s important for consumers to research the company and its shipping and return policies before placing an order,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Otherwise, you could find yourself without a costume or unable to return one that you did not want.”

 In the last 12 months alone, consumers have researched Costumes – Masquerade & Theatrical companies with the BBB over 1,250 times. This is a 59% increase in inquires during the same time period last year.

Lisa Curtin of Arlington Heights, Ill. stated, “I ordered the costume in size large the week of Halloween so I not only paid $32.95 for the costume but extra for overnight shipping so that she would have it in time. They shipped a size extra small. I returned it two weeks later and they refused to give me a credit even though it was their fault and I had paid an additional charge to ship it back. The customer service rep was sarcastic and said that they would do nothing. She even laughed at me and said that there was nothing that I could do about it.”

 Joanna Browning, another complainant from Buffalo Grove, Ill. stated, “I ordered 6 or 7 Halloween costumes so that I could decide which one to keep. I asked the lady if they could be returned when I ordered. She said of course. I kept two and sent the rest back within two days of getting them. They kept the costumes and refused to give me credit. They said that they had to get them back within 5 days but they had not said that before. Since I could not even get the costumes back I lost $300. I just gave up on getting a refund.”

 The BBB is offering consumers these tips when looking to buy Halloween merchandise: 

  • Research the company. Look for full contact information on the seller’s Web site, including a phone number, e-mail address, and a street address. Always check out the company on www.bbb.org before doing business.
  •  Read all terms and conditions carefully. Know the refund policy. Some stores may have time limits for returns and may not allow refunds for seasonal merchandise such as Halloween costumes. Others may only provide store credit for returns.
  • Ask how long a store will operate. If you’re buying from a seasonal store, ask them whether they will be open after the holiday and whether they will accept returns when the season is over. If not, consider buying elsewhere or taking more time to be sure the item is exactly what you want before making the purchase.
  • Pay by credit card. If something goes wrong, you may be able to dispute the charges with your credit card company.
  • Guard your personal information. Only provide your credit card information online in a secure environment. Look for the prefix “https://” in the URL box which lists the website’s address to be sure that the site you are using is secure.
  • Keep documentation. Save copies of the order confirmation and receipts.
  • Examine your costume as soon as it arrives. If it doesn’t fit, or isn’t what you ordered, contact the seller as soon as possible.

 To find a Halloween costume provider you can trust, visit www.bbb.org

Berrios announces Veterans’ Plan

Posted by Admin On October - 26 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

 

Democratic candidate for Cook County assessor Joe Berrios on Tuesday release a plan for veterans and active duty military personnel who are property owners in Cook County.

“Our veterans deserve any type of assistance we can offer,” Berrios said. “They have sacrificed a great deal and this is a small way to help them out, without burdening the tax base. If elected, these are a few initiatives that I will implement.”

Berrios plans to double the “Returning Veteran’s Exemption” from $5,000 estimated assessment value to $10,000. Those qualifying would be veterans returning from areas of conflict, and the exemption would be valid for the year they return to Cook County, as well as one year after.

“The number of those who qualify is small, but the effects of increasing the reduction would be of great value,” Berrios said. “It would show our appreciation upon a soldier’s return to Cook County, and also help with the adjustment of returning home during such difficult economic times.”

Berrios also plans to:

·         Create a “Deployed Military Personnel Exemption”
Cook County does not have an exemption for deployed military personnel.  I will work with legislatures to create this exemption.  The exemption would mirror the Returning Veterans Exemption, but would help military personnel and their families while the soldier is deployed.  The savings would be $10,000 EAV for each year that the service-member is deployed.

·         Expand outreach for the military personnel and veteran exemptions
There are currently exemptions for disabled veterans and returning veterans, but participation in these exemptions could be improved.  Currently, outreach on these exemptions is word of mouth from one veteran to another.  The assessor’s office could work more closely with VFWs, Veteran Affairs offices, and other veteran support organizations.

Since announcing his run for assessor, Berrios has said that he would cross-train employees at the assessor’s office to perform outreach for seniors, and now veterans.

“The cost would be minimal, but the reward would be great for our veterans,” Berrios said. “It’s the least we could do to honor them for their service to our country.”

For more information on Berrios and his plan for the assessor’s office, visit www.electjoeberrios.com.

Mary Zimmerman’s “Candide” to close at Goodman Theatre October 31

Posted by Admin On October - 26 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The Smash Hit of Chicago’s Fall Theater season moves to Washington, D.C.’s Shakepeare Theatre Company –  November 26 – January 9

 

Chicago, IL – Goodman Theatre’s acclaimed production of Candide, directed and newly adapted by Mary Zimmerman, must close Sunday, October 31 at 2 p.m. Tickets are still available for the final seven performances, October 26 – October 31. The premiere production of the Goodman’s “Decade on Dearborn” celebration was hailed as “ingenious…gorgeously imagined…original and enchanting” (Chicago Sun-Times), a “great triumph” (Chicago Reader) and “the best of all possible Candides” (Variety). Performances of Candide continue at Washington, D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre Company this holiday season, November 26 – January 9. The cast of 19 for the Washington, D.C. engagement includes Geoff Packard in the title role; Lauren Molina as Cunegonde; Larry yando as Pangloss; Hollis Resnik as the Old Lady; Jonathan Weir as the Governor; Erik Lochtefeld as Maximilian ; Margo Seibert as Paquette; Jesse J. Perez as Cacambo; and Tom Aulino as Martin. Ensemble members include Spencer Curnutt, Rebecca Finnegan, Govind Kumar, Rob Lindley, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Emma Rosenthal, Thomas Adrian Simpson, JoeyStone and Tempe Thomas. Ryan Lanning Waite replaces Joe Tokarz. For the Chicago engagement, JP Morgan Chase & Co. is the Major Corporate Sponsor; ComEd is the Official Lighting Sponsor; Abbott and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP are the Corporate Sponsor Partners. Chicago Tribune and WBEZ 91.5 FM are Media Sponsors.

Candide chronicles, in lightning-fast progression, the story of a young man banished from his home drafted into the Bulgarian army and forced to endure relentless disaster. Voltaire’s satiric genius is found in Candide’s earnest attempts to trivialize the tragedy and uphold the contention of his mentor, Dr. Pangloss, that all things happen for the best in this ‘best of all possible worlds’. Although Candide’s journey is described with humor, Voltaire raises serious questions: How can mankind deal with disaster without surrendering to despair? Can optimism prevail in a world that frequently seems randomly cruel? How is survival itself possible in an environment that often gleefully refutes Pangloss’s hopeful axiom?

Tickets to Candide can be purchased at www.GoodmanTheatre.org,  by phone at 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 North Dearborn). Mezztix are half-price mexxanine tickets available at 12 noon at the bos office, and at 10 a.m. online (promo code MEZZTIX) day of performance; Mezztix are not available by telephone. 10Tix are $10 mezzanine tickets for students available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10 a.m. online on the day of performance: 10Tix are not available by telephone. Valid student I.D. must be presented when picking up the tickets. Limit four per student with I.D. All tickets are subject to availability and handling fees apply. Discounted Group Tickets for 10 persons or more are available at 312.443.3820.

President Clinton in Chicago today to stump for Quinn, Giannoulias and the Statewide Democratic Party ticket at a “Vote Illinois” rally

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On October - 26 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

By Juanita Bratcher

 

 President Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party statewide ticket will attend a “Vote Illinois” rally today (October 26, 2010) in the Palmer House Hilton Grand Ballroom, 17 East Monroe Street, in Chicago.

Clinton will stump for Gubernatorial Candidate Pat Quinn, U.S. Senate Nominee Alexi Giannoulias and the complete Democratic Party ticket slate. 

The rally, scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.,  is free and open to the public on a first come, first serve basis.

Clinton will be introduced by Alexi Giannoulias, Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate. Clinton will voice support for Illinois statewide candidates and congressional candidates running in the November 2 election.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michele Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Clinton have taken to the campaign trail to rally up the troops in support of Democrats running in the November 2 election, some in  tight races with opposition.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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