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Archive for December 9th, 2011

Illinois Attorney General Madigan announces $58.7 million settlement with Wachovia, Wells Fargo

Posted by Admin On December - 9 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Bank to Pay $1.4 Million to Illinois Governments, Schools and Nonprofits for Illegal Bid Rigging Practices 

 

Chicago, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a $58.75 million multistate settlement with Wells Fargo Bank N.A. for the activities of the former Wachovia Bank N.A. over a scheme to rig bids and engage in other anticompetitive practices that defrauded government entities, schools and nonprofits that purchased municipal bond derivatives from the bank.

“Wachovia illegally profited by conspiring to overcharge government agencies and nonprofits across Illinois,” said Attorney General Madigan. “This agreement will return Wachovia’s ill-gotten gains to schools, city governments and nonprofit organizations to provide and improve services in their communities.”

Madigan joined 24 other states and the District of Columbia to announce the settlement, which will result in nearly $1.4 million in restitution for Illinois government entities, schools and nonprofits harmed by the bank’s efforts to orchestrate illegal bids for municipal derivatives. Wachovia is the fourth financial institution to settle with the multistate working group in the ongoing municipal bond derivatives investigation. Bank of America, UBS, and JPMC previously settled with the states.

Today’s agreement centered on allegations that from 1998 to 2004, Wachovia conspired with financial institutions and brokers to rig bid prices for municipal derivatives, circumventing the competitive bidding process. In some instances, Wachovia and other financial institutions communicated directly with each other, and not through brokers, to fix prices or to fix rates or key terms of these transactions. Brokers also frequently offered Wachovia and other financial entities the unfair advantage of reviewing other bids, thus rigging who would prevail in the deal.

Municipalities, schools and other organizations typically issue municipal bonds to fund capital projects. Once bonds are issued, the money is usually placed into accounts to spend as expenses for the project are incurred. Because the money from the bond does not need to be spent immediately, the municipality or other agency that issues the bonds typically seeks to invest the money and may also use strategies to manage or transfer the bond’s interest rate risk.  These investment accounts and risk management products – which are collectively called “municipal bond derivatives” – are provided by large financial institutions.

Madigan said Wachovia’s practices restrained competition in the sale of these municipal derivatives in violation of Illinois’ antitrust laws. This conduct brought financial harm to government entities and nonprofits that relied on Wachovia’s services. Certain Illinois governments, schools and nonprofits that purchased municipal derivatives from Wachovia will be eligible to receive restitution as part of this settlement.

Some of the entities affected by the banks’ scheme and today’s settlement include the following:

Chicago Area

Central DuPage Health

Chicago Board of Education

Children’s Memorial Hospital

City of Chicago

Lake County Forest Preserve

Lutheran Home & Services

Midwestern University

Public Building Commission of Chicago

Village of Bedford Park

 

Greater Illinois

City of East Peoria

Johnsburg School District No. 12

Northern Illinois University

Springfield School District

State of Illinois Development Finance Authority

State of Illinois Education Facilities

Village of Cary

Illinois joins Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Wisconsin in the settlement.

The states’ investigation into financial institutions involved in this scheme remains ongoing in conjunction with a federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Internal Revenue Service.

Bureau Chief Robert W. Pratt and Assistant Attorney General Jamie Manning are handling this case for Madigan’s Antitrust Bureau.

Pfleger offers $5,000 reward for arrest of ‘cowards’ who attacked an 80-year-old priest

Posted by Admin On December - 9 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

 

By Chinta Strausberg

 

Shocked and angered over the robbery and beating of 80-year-old Father Daniel Mallette, who is pastor of the South Side St. Margaret of Scotland Church, Father Michael L. Pfleger Tuesday offered a $5,000 reward for the capture of the two “Ninja” disguised ‘cowards’ who beat the priest with his own cane.

“There used to be a time when we respected elders…the church but all of that is gone,” he told members of his weekly bible class.

Pfleger spent several hours with Father Mallette and said, “They broke his cane over his head. They broke two ribs, and he’s bruised very bad.”

Pfleger believes the robbers knew Father Mallette and that they may have been hiding in his home. Mallette awoke to find the men standing over his bed demanding money.

When they told him to lead them to the safe and he didn’t move fast enough, they allegedly broke his cane over his head also beating him in the face.

“They are cowards beating up an 80-year-old man…. It was horrible,” said Pfleger. “But, his spirit is tough. He said to me ‘If I can sit through that horrible Bears game, I can get through this.”

Chicago police and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who is a member of the church, are investigating this case.

If anyone has any information that could lead to the arrest of the robbers, please call 911 or Father Pfleger at 773-483-4300. Your information will remain confidential.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

Lt. Governor Simon records holiday greeting for troops

Posted by Admin On December - 9 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Encourages Illinoisans to send message of thanks to service members

 

Chicago, IL – Standing below the historic Chicago Theater marquee with members of the Illinois National Guard, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today recorded a holiday message to thank military members serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the globe for protecting our freedom and keeping us safe.

Simon encouraged others to express their gratitude and spread holiday cheer through the new “digital care package” project launched by the Illinois Center for Broadcasting. Military families and supporters can record a free message at the ICB’s south State Street studio through December 16, and the school will distribute the messages to members of the U.S. Army and Illinois National Guard who are stationed away from home at the holidays.

“Even though our service members stationed around the world can’t be with us this holiday season, messages like these are reminders that they are always in our thoughts,” Simon said. “We are proud of their service and we are praying for their safe return. I encourage all that are able to send a warm greeting from home to our service members stationed across the world this holiday season.”

As chair of the state’s Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC), Simon works to preserve military installations throughout the state and provide support for military members and their families.

 “We are so thankful for the sacrifices made by our troops and veterans every day, and especially throughout the holiday season,” said William Natale, Executive Director of the Illinois Center for Broadcasting Chicago Campus. “Our students and staff are humbled by this opportunity to express their gratitude alongside Lieutenant Governor Simon, and we are proud to reside in a state where our leaders take an active role in projects such as this.”

For more information on the digital care package project or to schedule a recording, contact the ICB Chicago campus at 312-884-8000 or the Lombard campus at 630-916-1700.

New report: Hardship in Illinois was high before the recession, skyrocketed during, zero progress seen since

Posted by Admin On December - 9 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Much to be done in Illinois: Solutions identified but response inadequate

 

Chicago, IL –Poverty, worse in Illinois today than during the recession, grew from pre-to post-recession by 16 percent, according to the 2011 Report on Illinois Poverty released today. In fact, poverty is at its highest point in decades. Local data can be found at the end of this release. Visit http://www.heartlandalliance.org/research/2011-report-on-illinois-poverty/ to access an embargoed copy of the report. To access, use: User ID: impactmediarep Password: pr11access

Post recession has seen no gains for struggling families. In the report, the Social IMPACT Research Center at Heartland Alliance documents hardship across a variety of indicators including income, employment, housing and assets. Together these indicators document the conditions faced by struggling families across Illinois.

Nearly 1 in 3 Illinoisans are now considered poor or low-income. Continuing the disturbing trend of the past decade, median household income has steadily declined in Illinois; it is currently $52,972, down 3.4 percent from the recession and 6.9 percent from before the recession. For families at the bottom of the income spectrum, having limited resources results in families having to balance their budgets through short term trade-offs with long-term consequences such as deferring needed medical care or dipping into retirement savings. Byron Dickens, a Chicago resident, illustrates the pressure of trying to make ends meet on a low income: “Working 40 hours a week in a minimum wage job I don’t earn enough to cover my housing, food, transportation, and all my medical expenses. And I don’t even have a family.”

Employment trends are particularly bleak. Unemployment in Illinois skyrocketed 82.3 percent during the recession, and since then unemployment has held steady around 10 percent. The average length of time Illinois workers are unemployed has nearly doubled since 2007, with unemployed workers spending an average of nearly 37 weeks unemployed in 2010. It is going to be a long uphill climb to renewed economic vitality: Illinois must add 528,844 new jobs to fill its job gap (number of jobs lost during the recession and the number of jobs needed for new entrants to the workforce).

These conditions of declining incomes and rising poverty and unemployment are ripe for growth in homelessness. Housing costs have long eaten up large portions of family budgets and now families have even less income to devote to housing. The number of people, 241,093, living doubled up increased by 15 percent from 2008 to 2009, and 1 out of every 4 households in Illinois is now considered to be severely rent burdened with housing costs comprising more than half their income. “These living arrangements are unsustainable in the long run and are the last step before homelessness for many,” according to Amy Rynell, Director of the Social IMPACT Research Center.

These conditions have also led to a considerable erosion of assets and mounting debts, increasing the economic vulnerability of families across Illinois for many years to come. In 2011 the average debt of Illinoisans increased 37 percent over 2003 to $13,416, and the average amount of student loan debt among graduating seniors from 4-year Illinois colleges is $23,885. Low credit scores are also on the rise, which can greatly limit prime borrowing opportunities for car loans, credit cards, and home loans: since 2007 the rate of Illinois consumers with credit scores below 620 has increased 22 percent.

Without government assistance, nearly twice as many people would have been counted as being poor across the nation. Unfortunately, not all of Illinois’ safety net assistance programs responded quickly and effectively to growing hardship. And even the most responsive programs have not grown commensurate with need.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) continues to respond to growing need: the number of households receiving assistance has steadily grown as incomes have declined, growing 64 percent from before the recession to the post-recession period, with 874,109 households now receiving assistance.

The Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable federal income tax credit, has steadily reached more households in Illinois, growing almost 10 percent from pre- to post-recession. Over one million Illinois tax filers now receive the EITC.

The response of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which provides cash assistance to very low-income families with children, was undetectable during the recession. There was essentially no increase in the caseload from the year before the recession to the recession period. Since the recession ended, however, the caseload has grown 64 percent to 46,694 families.

The Unemployment Insurance program was by far the most responsive during the recession, growing over 75 percent. Since then, however, while unemployment has stayed at the same level, the number of recipients has plummeted almost 30 percent.

“Personal, social, and economic costs of low family incomes are far too great, compromising Illinois’ economic strength, human capital, and future well-being,” said Sid Mohn, President of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights. “State policies and investments need to support an economy that works for everyone, promote work that pays a living wage, ensure that all have access to a quality education, and that families are able to access adequate income supports to help make ends meet.”

The Social Impact Research Center (IMPACT), the research arm of Heartland Alliance, provides dynamic research and analysis[object Object] on today’s most pressing social issues and solutions to inform and equip those working toward a just global society. Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights believes that all of us deserve the opportunity to improve our lives. Each year, we help ensure this opportunity for more than one million people around the world who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety. Our policy efforts strengthen communities; our comprehensive services empower those we serve to rebuild and transform their lives.

For more information: 312.870.4949 | research@heartlandalliance.org | www.heartlandalliance.org/research

 

County Data for The Chicago Region Area

  Extreme Poverty (under 50% FPL) Poverty (under 100% FPL) Low income (100%-199% FPL)
Chicago 265,677 (10.0%) 596,975 (22.5%) 588,104 (22.2%)
Suburban Cook County 115,415 (4.7%) 259,385 (10.5%) 406,082 (16.4%)
DuPage County 22,131 (2.4%) 59,730 (6.6%) 100,845 (11.1%)
Kane County 19,198 (3.8%) 56,707 (11.1%) 96,163 (18.8%)
Lake County 28,785 (4.1%) 60,440 (8.7%) 103,288 (14.9%)
McHenry County 8,895 (2.9%) 23,649 (7.7%) 37,315 (12.1%)
Will County 22,196 (3.3%) 57,644 (8.6%) 86,383 (12.9%)

 

Indicator

Unemployment Rate
(Sep 2011)

Percent Severely Rent-Burdened Households (2005-2009)

Health Uninsured Rate, Non-Seniors (2009)

Food Insecurity Rate (2009)

Average Personal Debt (Jun 2011)

Percent of Consumer with Credit Scores Below 620 (Jun 2011)

Cook
County Rate

10.4%

26.4%

18.9%

16.1%

$15, 146

26.2%

Change from Prior Year

0.6%

DuPage
County Rate

7.9%

19.3%

10.4%

10.3%

$16,272

25.7%

Change from Prior Year 

0.3%

Kane
County Rate

9.1%

24.2%

15.1%

12.6%

$16,489

26.0%

Change from Prior Year

0.3%

Lake
County Rate

8.9%

21.7%

11.9%

11.7%

$18, 056

26.1%

Change from Prior Year

-0.3%

McHenry
County Rate

8.5%

22.4%

11.2%

11.2%

$15,634

26.2%

Change from Prior Year

0.2%

Will
County Rate

9.6%

22.6%

11.5%

12.3%

$15,329

26.4%

Change from Prior Year

0.4%

Saint Sabina’s Youth Minister Launches “God’s Squad” Youth Program

Posted by Admin On December - 9 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Will prepare them to be social agents for change

 

By Chinta Strausberg

 

Cinque Cullar, director of Youth Ministries at Saint Sabina, said the theme for the God’s Squad Youth ministry for 2012 will be “God Wants You Now” and that he plans on integrating the youth into each worship service so that they will develop a relationship with the Lord and become accountable to Him as a young Christian.

“We will be helping our youth build relationships with God,” said Cullar who also is a professional gospel singer. “We will teach them what is an authentic relationship with God, and I am looking to launch a Tuesday night youth Bible Study around 6:30 p.m. in the Imoja House complete with food for the youth.”

Cullar said the bible study will be for youth between 7-years-old to high school.  His goal is to help train up a generation of spiritual warriors for Christ who will be equipped with the knowledge of what discipleship cost. “The question is are you willing,”? Cullar said he plans on preparing them and to whet their spiritual appetite so that they will be willing to work and learn about Christ.

And, Cullar is putting a different spin on his goals. He will be teaching them how to engage in a letter-writing campaign to demand justice legislatively. “We want to strongly encourage a healthy relationship with God, their parents and their peers,” said Cullar. “If we can drive that home, we will see some good results.”

Cullar also wants to integrate the youth into the worship services on a more consistent basis, which will allow for ownership of the service. He said it would hold them accountable for their participation in the worship service while challenging them to know the Lord more.

Cullar, who is very excited about being a part of planting “good seeds,” said, “By integrating them into the service with the Lord, you will have to have a relationship.” Like Father Michael L. Pfleger’s mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cullar wants to teach the youth how to be social agents for change.

Pfleger is big on mentorship and planting spiritual seeds in good and fertile soil. He constantly reaches out to the youth and was highly praised for having “Youth Day” last Sunday where the youth took over the entire service including the choir. Cullar wants to integrate the youth in every service while still having an annual “Youth Day” at Saint Sabina and their own spiritual training class.

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

COGIC brightens holiday season with $40 million deposit

Posted by Admin On December - 9 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

 

Memphis, TN (BlackNews.com) — The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) for the second straight year has a very successful Holy Convocation in St. Louis. The 104th Holy Convocation of the Church of God in Christ has ended and all of the delegates or “saints” have returned to their respective homes. The largest convention of the church was once again held in St. Louis, Missouri and brought over $40 million to the regional economy and 40,000 saints to the city.

Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. says, “This year’s convention is by far one of the most successful convocations the Church of God in Christ has experienced. The delegates left St. Louis thankful for another year of good health, continued blessings and inspired by the great messages and sermons that were delivered during the Holy Convocation.”

“As one of the largest meetings to gather in St. Louis, COGIC has impacted the region both economically and spiritually. The St. Louis community looks forward to hosting the Holy Convocation in 2012 and 2013,” says Kathleen “Kitty” Ratcliffe, President of the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission.

The various community activities put on by the church were also successful including the famed Christmas in November affair that fed and clothed more than 2000 families in the St. Louis metro area. Bishop Lawrence M. Wooten the pastor of the Williams Temple COGIC and facilitator of this year’s event says, “We were able to give away more than 3000 toys and to see the joy that a hot meal, a haircut and a toy can bring to these children is overwhelming. I am convinced we are doing the job that the good Lord has commanded us to do during this holiday season.”

Pastor Edwin Bass the President of COGIC’S Urban Initiatives says the “annual job fair was a success bringing 47 employers to the convocation that interviewed and will hire seasonal and full-time employees over the coming weeks and months. In this economy so many are not looking for a hand out but a hand up and the COGIC Job Fair gave the more than 400 attendees just that.”

Plans for the 105th Holy Convocation have already begun and the saints will return to St. Louis November 5-13, 2012.

About the Church of God in Christ (COGIC)
The Church of God in Christ is the fifth largest Protestant religious denomination in the United States with churches in 60 countries worldwide and an estimated membership of nearly 6.5 million members. For more details, visit www.cogic.org

Award-Winning African-American TV News Reporter launches "Bake Away Hunger" initiative

Posted by Admin On December - 9 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Momma B Bakery offers healthy foods to help the hungry this holiday season

Long Island City, NY (BlackNews.com) — In addition to his ongoing career in TV news, Peter Thorne is taking on a new title: African-American Social Entrepreneur. The longtime NYC TV journalist announces the launch of Momma B Bakery (MBBE LLC), a black-family owned and operated gourmet bakery company that was conceived with a simple goal in mind: “Do Good By Eating Well”. The start-up company backs the fight against hunger in urban America by producing gourmet foods delivered right to your door, with a percentage of the proceeds donated directly to organizations that fight black America’s growing hunger epidemic.

“At Momma B we dare to imagine an America without hunger,” Peter Thorne, founder of Momma B Bakery said. “We can alleviate hunger in more ways than one. Commerce should have a conscience, and we take our social responsibility very seriously at Momma B Bakery.”

During his 10 years as an Emmy Award-winning television anchor and reporter in New York City, Thorne frequently witnessed working-class families struggle to afford nourishing, healthy food. Moved to take action, Thorne founded Momma B Bakery, a company that delivers moderately priced gourmet products with a purpose, from delicious organic pancake and waffle dry mixes to irresistible all-natural muffin and brownie selections.

The specialty dry mixes sold by Momma B Bakery are all natural and USDA Certified 100 percent organic, with no preservatives, hormones, animal byproducts or artificial ingredients. A percentage of the proceeds from these high-end but not high-price products goes directly to organizations that fight our community’s growing hunger epidemic. In addition to being good for the body and good for the African-American community, Momma B Bakery mixes are made in the USA and shipped via USPS Priority Mail using eco-friendly packaging materials, preserving both the environment and American jobs.

Thorne’s grandmother, and her message to “pay it forward,” is the inspiration behind the Momma B Bakery brand. It is her recipes that are the foundation for the company’s gourmet bakery products and her face that graces the company’s logo.

“Because life is too short not to do something that matters, I knew I had to do my part, and just like that this company was born,” Thorne said. “The truth is that finding quality, wholesome organic baked goods and dry mixes is not easy. Momma B delivers this straight to your kitchen. We’re on a mission to give back to our community and we want everyone to join us. People who have been blessed should be a blessing to those less fortunate in our community.”

Momma B Bakery products are backed by a 90-day, 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. The company currently carries four new products with more in development. Place your order to help the hungry or learn more about the candid, caring and compassionate mission of Momma B Bakery at www.mommab.com.

Photo Caption: Peter Thorne

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