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Archive for December 7th, 2010

Preckwinkle ready for the challenge; “The days of secrecy in Cook County are over”

Posted by Admin On December - 7 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Let’s go get to work” – Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle

The following are President Toni Preckwinkle’s inaugural remarks:

I am honored to be here with you today.

I want to thank my family. I would have never entered this race had it not been for the love and support of my family – my husband Zeus, my children – Kyle and Jennifer, and my daughter-in-law Ronisha.
I want to thank the Mayor and my colleagues in the City Council who have joined me today…I want to thank the residents of the 4th Ward for giving me the opportunity to serve you as Alderman for 19 years. I am grateful to the Governor for being here today – I look forward to working with you in the future.
This is a particular honor for me because, when I first announced my candidacy over two years ago, conventional wisdom was that I was the long shot.
Two years ago I asked you to join me as we launched a campaign to reinvent county government.
So to everyone who made calls, donated money, knocked on doors, passed out literature, marched in parades, and, of course, voted – thank you. All of you have enabled me to be here today.
I have spent these last two years learning first hand about the issues facing the County, speaking with thousands of residents about how County government could better serve them.
As I have traveled our county, a single theme has emerged from residents of every region and from every walk of life. That theme is the need for change – for a new day in Cook County.
Early in my campaign for Board President, I put out a detailed plan, called the Compact for Change, which set forth our initiatives to bring desperately needed transparency, accountability and efficiency to County government.
The Compact for Change served as a foundation around which we assembled our diverse, talented, relentlessly hard-working policy teams to begin to the task of tackling the issues of the County.
The extensive reports of the policy teams, made public on our website, and as the foundation for our transition efforts.
In short, we have been working towards this day for more than two years. We have studied. We have listened and learned from the array of reformers, professionals, civic and community leaders and experts who have shared their ideas and visions.
So today I say to you: we can do better.
However let there be no illusions about the difficulty of the challenges we face.
In the course of [our] history, no effort to bring real change has been easy.
And we must bring to our task the vision and determination of those who have come before us.
We must act. And we must act quickly.
After being elected, I asked a diverse group of civic and community leaders to come together and focus on creating a plan that would guide us forward both in the short-term and the long-term.
With the help of the citizens who submitted vision statements online, elected officials we met with, and expert pro bono civic partners brought together by the Civic Consulting Alliance, we have developed a set of recommendations.
The transition report reflects the ideas of Cook County citizens and input from a group of more than 80 public and private sector leaders who have brought diverse viewpoints and decades of experience to our efforts.
It is due in large part of their efforts that, on November 18th, I was able to bring together the eleven County-wide elected officials to begin a discussion of our early findings and to lay the groundwork to repeal the rest of the sales tax increase.
We face an estimated $487 million deficit. That challenge means each of us, as County-wide elected officials – must find 21 percent in savings in each of our offices. We’re going to do it through creativity and collaboration; we’re going to do it without reducing the quality of the services we provide. From this work, we will lay the groundwork to repeal the remainder of the sales tax.
But it will not be easy. That said, no will be absolved and no one will be alone. It can be done, and done fairly, but we have to meet this challenge together.
Our County needs a new direction. Today, I present to you a comprehensive plan to set our County on this new course. This new direction comes from our commitment to fiscal responsibility, innovative leadership, transparency, accountability and improved services throughout the County.
Our immediate priority must be restoring fiscal responsibility to the County. Starting tomorrow, we will have until the end of January to develop a balanced budget to present to the Board.
And while we cannot do this without County-wide collaboration, the President’s office can lead by example. Already we have identified over 60 cost-saving initiatives within the President’s office, including consolidating services within a Bureau of Administration, eliminating non-essential procurement and capital spending, and consolidating back-office functions, such as procurement and technology, of the different County departments. And as promised on the campaign trail, I will reduce my salary by 10 percent.
But the issue of the budget is not just about the deplorable $487 million deficit. One of the reasons we currently face such a tremendous deficit is the County’s lack of any long-term financial planning.
The County sales tax increase raised tax rates on consumer goods in Cook County to the highest levels in the country. Adopted without any plan or constraints on the use of additional tax revenues, this tax increase was a Band-Aid solution that enabled the continued inefficiency of County government.
I know how much the sales tax devastated our working families and businesses. Today, I pledge that the FY 2011 budget will include a commitment to reduce the sales tax by 0.25% in FY 2012 and 0.25% in FY 2013.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Right now, we’re almost one week into fiscal year 2011 and we don’t have a budget. In few other places is it normal to enter a fiscal year without a plan for operations. This is, put simply, a bad idea. That’s why, as soon as we pass the FY2011 Budget, we will begin work to modernize and rationalize the county’s antiquated budget processes.
It will be our collective commitment to fiscal responsibility — a new and sensible approach to the stewardship of our tax dollars — that will transform our county government.
Just as we must transform our financial operations, so must we also introduce a culture of performance management.
In order to make the real change we need in Cook County, we need to demand a higher standard from these operations and set in place new measures to ensure that standards are met.
As President, I am committed to professionalizing the operation of the County. To meet this goal, I will appoint a Chief Performance Officer, who will set tough performance targets and hold employees responsible for progress.
The CPO will immediately be tasked with implementing a comprehensive personnel and compensation audit to review the duties of each employee within the President’s purview.
This is just the beginning.
This is the time – to open County government to its citizens; to make County government work for its residents.
When I first declared my candidacy for Cook County Board President, I would be stopped in the street by people who, without telling me their names, would identify themselves as County employees. They would tell me that, while they were working hard, they were discouraged by those who spent their days reading or talking on their personal cell phones.
This lack of transparency and accountability has eroded the legitimacy of Cook County government.
Furthermore, the ability of citizens to hold their elected officials accountable is impacted greatly by their access to information.
We’ve opened up a once secretive hiring process by asking folks who want to be public servants to submit their resumes through our transition Web site, and thousands of people did just that.
In addition, all applicants for board appointments, including those currently serving, should be required to apply for the positions—just like everyone else—and the application forms should be easily accessible on the County’s website.
As President, I will require that all current executive appointments to advisory boards be disclosed on the County’s website. I will also require that the function and eligibility requirements for each board, compensation, and term for each member, be posted online as well.
We’re going to post bids and contracts online so everyone can see how our tax dollars are being spent.
The atmosphere of secrecy that permeates county government has been calculated to hide the many troubling practices for which the County has become known.
The days of secrecy in Cook County are over.
I first decided to run for Cook County Board President because I believe government at all levels has two basic obligations: to provide the best services and to do so effectively and efficiently.
Most County departments run nearly independent back-office functions, which in many cases are redundant. For example, procurement and information technology are handled separately by multiple elected officials. This duplication wastes taxpayer dollars. It reduces the quality of County services by diverting management time away from their primary responsibility: frontline services to taxpayers. Centralizing certain administrative functions, such as procurement, information technology, and payroll, has the potential both to increase quality of the service and lower costs County-wide.
As we make cuts to wasteful, inefficient Government spending, we’ll find ways to make new investments where they’ll do the most good – investments in health and public service, investments to create jobs, investments in education and training.
In the area of health care, I have been a firm advocate of the independent health board and the need for its permanence. Created in 2008 to provide independent oversight of the public medical system, it has already proven effective at reducing the costs and improving the quality and delivery of services within our health care system. I applaud the work of Bill Foley and the Board of Directors andI am committed to working with them to ensure that all Cook County residents have access to these health services.
In addition to the provision of health care that is provided by the County, we’ve got to work with the safety net hospitals and the community clinics to provide comprehensive health care for all our residents.
The other major responsibility of the County is the overseeing the criminal justice system. Currently, the Cook County’s chronically overcrowded criminal justice system is a drain on the County’s budget and a threat to our public safety.  As Cook County Board President, I will expand resources for alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders and provide treatment for addiction, educational classes and life skills training.  This will reduce recidivism and make our county safer.  The benefits of this approach are three-fold: 1) decreasing the number of people sitting in jail at a cost of $117 per day and $35,000 per year, 2) facilitating re-entry and job training and 3) reducing the number of repeat offenders.
Our current economic climate has only compounded the issues facing our residents.
One of the first actions of my administration will be to create a new Bureau of Economic Development by reorganizing and consolidating several existing departments and divisions, including the President’s Office of Employment Training (POET) and the Departments of Community Development, Capital Planning and Development and Building and Zoning.
The consolidation of services within a Bureau of Economic Development would not only help reduce costs but help my administration’s focus on effective economic development for the County.
I believe that this will enable us to make economic policy in a much more specific, clear and effective way than County government has done in quite some time.
As Cook County Board President, I am committed to identifying ways for the County to play a more active and aggressive role in economic development and regional planning.

We have a real opportunity to redefine Cook County’s place as the economic hub of the Midwest.
What I have shared with you today – are just some of the initiatives we will undertake.
We’re going to make government less expensive and more effective.
That’s what my plan is all about: a leaner, more efficient, more transparent government.
Let’s go get to work.

Berrios: We will be fiscally responsible, yet offer the highest level of customer service to property owners

Posted by Admin On December - 7 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Berrios becomes ninth Cook County Assessor in history, first minority to hold the office       


 Chicago, IL – Joseph Berrios of Chicago was installed as the new Cook County Assessor on Monday during a swearing-in ceremony conducted by Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans.

“I’m ready to do my part to make sure the Assessor’s office operates in the most cost-effective, efficient manner possible. We will be fiscally responsible, yet offer the highest level of customer service to property owners,” Berrios said. “Beginning today, I am dedicating all of my time to being the Assessor of Cook County. Taxpayers deserve nothing less.”

Berrios has a long history in serving the people. He was an Illinois State Representative from 1982 to 1988, when he became a commissioner on the Cook County Board of Review, which oversees property tax appeals. Berrios served on the Board of Review from 1988 until becoming assessor.

Berrios announced several initiatives after being sworn in, including:

  • Formation of a blue-ribbon panel to examine day-to-day operations to achieve savings, and to put into place a simple homeowner relief plan. This hasn’t been done in more than three decades. The panel is still being assembled, but will include many notable members, such as Donald Haider and Chuck Powell.
  •   Issuing a new assessment notice designed to provide more information than ever before. Homeowners will be able to see how their property compares to others in their neighborhood. This new notice will also show how the property’s assessment fair market value has increased or decreased over a five-year period.
  •  Working with legislative leaders to eliminate the annual senior tax exemption renewal requirement.
  •  Working with lawmakers to double the “Returning Veterans’ Exemption.” This would raise the exemption from $5,000 (EAV) to $10,000 (EAV) for those soldiers returning from areas of conflict. It would be valid for one year after they return to Cook County.
  • The Cook County Assessor is an elected official who is responsible for setting fair and accurate values on more than 1.8 million properties throughout Cook County.

The Assessor’s Office has existed since 1932. Previous Cook County assessors include James Houlihan (1997-2010), Thomas Hynes (1978-1997), Thomas Tully (1974-1978), P.J. Cullerton (1958-1974), John McGuane (1958-1958), Frank Keenan (1954-1958), John S. Clark (1934-1954), J.L. Jacobs (1932-1934).

BlackDoctor.org steps up for AIDS Awareness Month

Posted by Admin On December - 7 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Chicago, IL (BlackNews.com) — AIDS Awareness Month. Among ages 25-34, AIDS is the leading cause of death for Black women. BlackDoctor.org (www.BlackDoctor.org), the nation’s leading health resource for African Americans, continues to help the Black community fight back against these sobering statistics.

BlackDoctor.org has a wealth of free HIV/AIDS resources to educate, inform and arm African Americans with the vital tools that can save lives:

* HIV Learning Center – Provides easy access to HIV research, prevention and treatments.

* HIV/AIDS Channel – Covers the latest news in the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS.

* Living With HIV channel – Detailed strategies and testimonials about how to live a healthier, happier life…even after being diagnosed with HIV.

* List of HIV Clinics – Find a listing of locations serving HIV patients.

* HIV Provider Registry – A complete up-to-date list of HIV providers.

* HIV Caregivers – Easily locate a caregiver in your area using this listing.

* HIV Services – Obtain a link of HIV/AIDS-specific services.

* HIV Support Groups – Find a community of support for those living with HIV.

* HIV Youth Resources – Browse through articles and tips for Teens and HIV.

* Articles from Emmy ® Award winning AIDS activist Rae Lewis Thornton – BlackDoctor.org has partnered with this powerful activist who helped changed the face of AIDS to assist her to spread the sometimes blunt, sometimes heartbreaking, but always meaningful message of awareness and courage.

* Ask Dr. Keith Crawford – BlackDoctor.org HIV/AIDS expert and is currently in the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where he develops clinical research studies to improve treatment of HIV infection. Dr. Crawford is available to answer all HIV/AIDS related questions.
“Today, an HIV diagnosis is very far from the death sentence it was in the ’80’s,” says Dr. Crawford, “the more we learn, the better we do in extending life with a high quality. That’s why BlackDoctor.org is so important to the Black community. With articles like ‘Day 1: After You’ve Tested Positive’ shows the amount of dedication and attention BlackDoctor.org puts into fighting this disease.”
About BlackDoctor.org
Chicago-based BlackDoctor.org (www.BlackDoctor.org) is the leading resource for African-American health, nutrition, weight loss and fitness information in the United States. 24/7, BlackDoctor.org delivers: the BDO Health Library, BDO Symptom Checker, Find-A-Doctor Search Tool, culturally-accurate health news, condition-specific newsletters and community blogs.

BDO: Your Trusted, Daily Resource For Healthier, Happier Living.

Northwestern undergrads to report from refugee camps in Jordan, Malawi and Namibia

Posted by Admin On December - 7 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS


Evanston, IL – On Dec. 13, a live feed will connect members of Chicago’s refugee community with some of the 19 Northwestern University student reporters and three professors reporting from refugee camps in Jordan, Malawi and Namibia beginning Dec. 11.

Clemantine Wamariya, who as a 6-year-old hid in a tree with her sister as their grandparents were murdered in their Rwandan home, will be among the group visiting Malawi, where she once lived as a refugee.

A website featuring stories, short documentaries, audio vignettes and refugee portraits officially launches at a Dec. 13 reception at Northwestern that is being hosted by RefugeeOne, a Chicago refugee agency. As part of the live feed, the Northwestern student team in Jordan’s Osire refugee camp will report on their work and take questions from resettled refugees and their advocates in Chicago.

The RefugeeOne reception will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. in the McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. The live feed with students and faculty in Jordan will begin at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

For four days (Dec. 11 through 14) the Medill School of Journalism reporting teams will document daily life in the camps through audio, video and print reports on a website at http://www.refugeelives.org/.

Wamariya, who spoke to the students as part of a class on reporting about refugees, will be returning to the Dzaleka camp for the first time since she was a refugee there. She will serve as a resource to the Malawi team.

“Our students in Malawi will be the first journalists since 2007 to report out of the Dzaleka refugee camp,” says Medill Professor Jack Doppelt. He teaches the reporting class called “Connecting with Immigrant and Multi-Ethnic Communities.”

Doppelt will lead the Namibia team that will focus on the lives of Angolan and Congolese refugees in the Osire camp.

Peter Slevin, a veteran international reporter for the Washington Post, will lead the Jordan team, which will focus on the lives of Iraqis in an urban refugee setting.

Brent Huffman, an award-winning film director and cinematographer, will accompany the Malawi team, focusing on the lives of Congolese, Rwandan, Burundi and Somali refugees in Dzaleka camp. He and the Malawi student team also will document Rwandan refugee Wamariya’s return to the camp.

“There are nearly 14 million refugees in the world today,” says Doppelt. “Our plan is to depict to the world how refugees live and to establish a connection between resettled refugees in Chicago and refugees in the camps.”

Each of the students’ four reporting days will focus on a different aspect of refugee camp daily life. On Dec. 11, the students will report how children in refugee camps go about learning. On Dec. 12, they will explore health issues. On Dec. 13, they will talk with refugees about the difficulties of providing for their families. On Dec. 14, they will document what refugees discuss among themselves. The teams will remain in the area for one to two days after Dec. 14 to edit and transmit their work.

The 19 undergraduates reporting from the camps recently completed Doppelt’s “Connecting with Immigrant and Multi-Ethnic Communities” class, in which they learned about the international refugee situation, profiled local resettled refugees and partnered with 14 of Chicago’s ethnic media for a series called “Back to the Homeland.”

The trips to the camps are the result of an unusual collaboration of Northwestern and UNHCR (commonly known as the UN Refugee Agency) with AT&T and RIM Company generously providing equipment and technical support. They also celebrate the 60th anniversary of UNHCR, which is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide.

Reports created by students in the Medill class and coming from the three camps will be available on RefugeesLives at http://www.refugeelives.org/ and on Immigrant Connect at http://www.immigrantconnect.org/. The students’ work also will be made available to the UN Refugee Agency for its website.

For further information about the Dec. 13 reception, contact Joan Leech at RefugeeOne, e-mail: jleech@refugeeone.org, tel: (773) 423-9830 or Lois Shuford at Medill, e-mail: lfshuford@gmail.com, tel: (847) 404-3577.

NORTHWESTERN NEWS: www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/

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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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