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Archive for February 9th, 2012

Attorney General Madigan, federal government & state attorneys general secure $25 billion settlement with nation’s five largest banks

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On February - 9 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, DC — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan today joined with her counterparts in other states and the federal government to announce a $25 billion settlement with the nation’s five largest bank mortgage servicers over allegations of widespread “robo-signing” of foreclosure documents and other fraudulent practices while servicing loans of struggling homeowners.

Madigan joined U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and her counterparts in Washington, D.C., to announce the settlement with Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Bank, formerly GMAC.

Today’s settlement is the second largest settlement ever obtained through joint action of state attorneys general. It will provide more than $1 billion in relief for Illinois to assist those who have lost their homes, are underwater or at imminent risk of defaulting on their mortgages. The settlement will completely overhaul mortgage servicing standards to prevent future abuses by lenders that many consumers have faced while trying to save their homes and during the foreclosure process.

“After many months of investigation and negotiation, I’ve concluded that this settlement accomplishes two major goals: it provides timely help for struggling homeowners, and it establishes new rules for mortgage servicing that will protect homeowners in the future,” Attorney General Madigan said. “While the settlement is a big step forward in our efforts, it is not the end. In Illinois, we will continue to take strong legal action against lenders, banks, servicers and others who contributed to the housing and economic collapse.”

Critical to today’s settlement are reforms to the national mortgage servicing standards to better assist and protect all borrowers including those who are in trouble on their mortgages. In the past, regardless of how well borrowers complied with bank requirements to try to obtain a loan modification or other assistance, borrowers ended up facing foreclosure. These tough, new standards will ensure borrowers are now given a fair chance to save their homes:

  • Distressed home borrowers will be considered for a loan modification rather than being automatically referred to foreclosure.
  • No loan will be referred to foreclosure while a loan modification is being considered.
  • Borrowers will be allowed to appeal a denial of a loan modification.
  • Mortgage servicers must provide a single point of contact for borrowers as well as easier methods for checking on the progress of their loan modification applications.
  • Loan servicers will be held to strict timelines in dealing with distressed borrowers

Protections will also be put in place to ensure fairness and accuracy for all borrowers making mortgage payments including increased disclosures on their monthly mortgage billing statements, maintenance of procedures to ensure the accuracy in the posting of mortgage payments, the posting of a schedule of all fees on their website, and the requirement that all fees must be reasonable, bona fide and accurate.

The standards will be backed by tough enforcement measures to ensure the banks comply. The settlement will be filed in federal court, and a monitor will be appointed to oversee bank compliance. Banks that violate the settlement terms will be assessed significant monetary penalties.

Homeowners whose loans were serviced by these banks may also qualify for direct relief in three categories: 1) Borrowers who have lost their homes, 2) Homeowners still in their homes but are at imminent risk of defaulting on their mortgages or are behind on their mortgage payments and 3) Borrowers who are current on payments but underwater.

The largest portion of the national settlement, $17 billion, will help borrowers who remain in their homes but are imminent risk of default. Much of this money will be used for principal reductions on first and second liens. Another $3 billion of the settlement will assist borrowers to refinance mortgages that are underwater, meaning the outstanding loan balance is more than the current appraised value of the home. These borrowers are typically unable to refinance their loans. And $1.5 billion will be provided for restitution to borrowers who have already lost their homes. Additionally, $2.6 billion will go to states for use in foreclosure prevention programs.

 In addition to direct relief to borrowers in Illinois, the Attorney General’s office will recover money from the banks to remediate the effects of historic levels of foreclosures on homeowners and communities, including funding for legal aid services, housing counseling, outreach to borrowers, housing policy development and community revitalization.

The settlement also provides for special relief for members of the military by requiring servicers to set up a specially trained single point of contact to address their mortgage issues. Members of the military may also be eligible for a waiver of a mortgage deficiency when they need to sell their home in a short sale when ordered to move.

The settlement does not grant any immunity from criminal offenses nor does it prevent homeowners or investors from pursuing individual, institutional or class action civil cases against the five banks. Attorneys general and federal agencies will continue to investigate and pursue other aspects of the mortgage crisis, including securities cases. In Illinois, Attorney General Madigan already has lawsuits against Wells Fargo, Standard & Poor’s and Nationwide Title Cleaning Inc., as part of her aggressive efforts to hold financial institutions accountable for their part in the housing and economic collapse.

Even before the housing market’s collapse, Attorney General Madigan aggressively targeted the country’s biggest banks and lenders to hold them accountable for their unlawful financial misconduct that led to the subsequent financial crisis and to provide relief and assistance to Illinois families struggling to save their homes.

The Attorney General recently sued the national credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s alleging the company compromised its independence as a rating agency by doling out high ratings to unworthy, risky investments as a corporate strategy to increase its revenue and market share. Madigan also sued Nationwide Title Clearing Inc. for filing faulty documents with Illinois county recorders.

In December 2011, Madigan and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a $335 million settlement with Countrywide, a subsidiary of Bank of America, for discriminating against minority borrowers by putting them into higher-cost loans than similarly credit-situated white borrowers during the height of the subprime mortgage lending spree. The settlement will provide restitution to harmed Illinois borrowers and is the largest settlement of a fair lending lawsuit ever obtained by a state attorney general. The Attorney General continues to fight a fair lending case in court against Wells Fargo alleging widespread discrimination against African American and Latino borrowers during the subprime lending spree.

Madigan led an earlier lawsuit against Countrywide, which resulted in a nationwide $8.7 billion settlement in 2008 over the company’s predatory lending practices. The Attorney General also reached a $39.5 million settlement with Wells Fargo over the bank’s deceptive marketing of extremely risky loans called Pay Option ARMs, and in 2006, Madigan obtained more than $10 million in restitution for Illinois homeowners as part of a $325 million multi-state settlement with Ameriquest over the former mortgage giant’s deceptive sales of predatory subprime mortgages.

Participating mortgage servicers may contact borrowers directly regarding loan modification options. Borrowers should contact their mortgage servicer to obtain more information about specific loan modification programs and whether they qualify under terms of this settlement. 

Attorney General Madigan also urged consumers seeking more information to contact her Homeowner’s Helpline, (866) 544-7151, or visit her website, www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/bankforeclosuresettlement.html. Borrowers can also visit www.NationalForeclosureSettlement.com.

Handling this investigation and settlement for Attorney General Madigan are Consumer Protection Division Chief Deborah Hagan, and Assistant Attorneys General Vaishali Rao, Susan Ellis, Tom James, Steve Wrone, Paige Boggs, Vivian Velasco and Andrew Dougherty.

Chicago Teachers Union files EEOC charges on behalf of black school teachers unfairly laid off by the Chicago Board of Education

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On February - 9 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS
 
African American teachers were 40% of layoffs yet comprise 29% of workforce
 
 
CHICAGO, IL – The Chicago Teachers Union and four tenured teachers today filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that the Board’s 2011 layoff policy has had a disparate impact on black teachers.
 
In the 2011 school year, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) employed 16,716 tenured teachers, of which 47 percent were Caucasian and 29 percent were African American. However, of the tenured teachers affected by the 2011 layoffs, 43 percent were black, 36 percent were white and 21 percent were other minorities. 
 
“The Board’s lay off policy has had a systemic, class-wide, disparate impact on African American teachers,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “We believe this policy violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and should be prosecuted by the EEOC.”
 
Though the EEOC charges were filed by teachers Terri Fells, Phyllis Carter, Lillian Edmonds and Josephine Perry, the case seeks restitution for 365 other African American teachers who were laid off pursuant to the Board’s 2011 layoff policy. 
 
“This unjust lay-off has been the source of much distress for my family. We are at-risk of losing our home and are now trying to obtain means of retaining it. The unavailability of funds has resulted in dire distress and the necessity to procure loans to meet each month’s expenses for our family of four,” Fells said in her EEOC charge.
 
Fells, was laid-off from Alonzo Stagg Elementary after 28 years of CPS employment, due to a reduction in staff.  With 30 years total teaching experience, a M.S. degree in Curriculum and Instruction/ Early Childhood Education and an endorsement in French, there were many teachers with fewer credentials that should have been chosen to be laid-off.
 
Carter, a CPS teacher for nine years, was laid off from Miles Davis Magnet due to what the Board called a “reallocation of funds.” Edmonds, a teacher for 18 years, was laid off despite being the most experienced teacher at Henderson Elementary School.  Similarly, Perry worked at CPS for 18 years. She too was laid off from Henry O. Tanner Elementary after the Board declared her position closed due to a “reallocation of funds.”
 
In addition to the racial disparity in the teacher layoffs, there are disparities regarding the schools from which teachers were laid off. The 930 school-based teachers laid off at the end of the 2010/2011 school year are 4.4 percent of teachers working in schools. However, these layoffs were twice as likely to occur at schools with greater than average concentrations of low-income students or African American students.
 
The four teachers and the CTU are being represented by Robin Potter & Associates.
 
The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools and, by extension, the students and families they serve. CTU, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, is the third largest teachers local in the country and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information visit CTU’s website at www.ctunet.com.
 

The National Black Church Initiative launches national boycott against BB&T Bank

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On February - 9 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

 

 NBCI Investigating 35,000 Complaints

 

Washington DC – The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a coalition of 34,000 churches spanning 50 denominations and representing 15.7 million African Americans, is outraged at the lack of support that BB&T Bank has shown the African American community.  Therefore, we are declaring a national boycott against BB&T over the next seven years and we are going after 40% of their profits.

As of September 30, 2010, BB&T Corporation is the 10th largest U.S. financial services holding company, with $157.2 billion in assets.  As a leader in banking, their responsibilities are amplified – BB&T can and should address the issues American investors and customers are experiencing due the negligence and fraud financial institutions have committed.  BB&T has created a hostile service environment toward its customers. It seems to have directed some of that hostility toward ignoring the African American community totally. BB&T has demonstrated time and again that they are not a friend to the African American community, said NBCI.

Reverend Anthony Evans, President of NBCI, says “BB&T is getting away with murder in our community.  They are destroying our families, ignoring our businesses and have a program to undermine any Black economic development.  This can easily be understood when you look at the assets of BB&T Bank and the percentage of businesses that they engage in with the Black community.  They have never funded a Black development project over 50 million dollars.  They have foreclosed on more African American homeowners than White homeowners according to our internal statistics.  They are a heartless corporation who hates the Church.  They have foreclosed on hundreds of African American churches throughout the South such as the Higher Ground Employment Center among many others.  We consider BB&T’s banking practices to be racist and that is why we are going after 40% of their profits over the next seven years.  Our campaign will be systematic, hard hitting and without mercy.  But everything we do will be legal and non-violent.”

NBCI is an organization committed to eradicating the disparities so prevalent in the American economy and our current financial landscape and we intend to do something about it. This is why we are asking all of our members to not bank at BB&T, close your BB&T accounts and join the Black Church in this movement.

According to NBCI, “We exhaustively researched BB&T, reviewed online complaints against BB&T, engaged our membership, and reviewed company facts. We were truly dismayed at what we discovered.  While we acknowledge that any company of the size of BB&T will have complaints, we feel that our research indicates that BB&T has a higher than normal percentage of unhappy customers with numerous complaints that are outrageous, particularly within the African American community.”

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/finance/bbt_bank.html 

http://www.complaintsboard.com/bycompany/bbampt-a7979.html 

“BB&T has completely failed the Black community in every respect. They do not sponsor any major African American community events. This is systematic on their part. Ask BB&T to answer the following questions:

What percentage of loans do they give African American businesses?

What percentage of loans do they give Latino businesses?

What percentage of mortgages does BB&T hold in the Black community?

What technical assistance does BB&T offer the Black community?

How many Black developers use BB&T as their primary bank?

“The answer to these questions is little or nothing because African Americans, no matter how well they do economically, are not a focus of their profit margin approach.  Given that the African American community has suffered disproportionately during this mortgage crisis we cannot partner with an organization with so many legitimate complaints of mortgage fraud – it simply goes against the basic teachings of what is morally right and wrong because lying and stealing are against the teachings of the Church. In addition, we will never partner with an organization that systematically targets our community for inappropriate business practices. BB&T simply tolerates us.  BB&T will never make a long term commitment to any Black developer, home owner or business. 

“While we were in the process of completing our research, we analyzed the offers that BB&T made to NBCI in reply to our invitation to form a valuable relationship within the African American community. We consider their offer disrespectful and we are certain that they would not have made the same of $10,000 to a white financial literacy program that represents 15.7 million people.  This is a clear indication that BB&T lacks any commitment to the African American community and does not take either our institutional or consumer power seriously.

“BB&T has shown exactly how banks should not treat minority organizations.  As of right now, we are informing the entirety of our membership plus the balance of our sister churches – 100,000 strong – that BB&T is not a friend of the Black Church.  NBCI has launched a nationwide boycott of BB&T banks and all of its related businesses to spur this giant organization to more fairly address the needs of the minority population and right the wrongs done to the African American community. It is clear that words alone will not work. We need action that impacts the only thing that matters to them more than their racism: money.”

About NBCI

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) is a coalition of 34,000 African American and Latino churches working to eradicate racial disparities in healthcare, technology, education, housing, and the environment. NBCI’s mission is to provide critical wellness information to all of its members, congregants, churches and the public. The National Black Church Initiative’s methodology is utilizing faith and sound health science. The National Black Church Initiative’s purpose is to partner with major organizations and officials whose main mission is to reduce racial disparities in the variety of areas cited above. NBCI offers faith-based, out-of-the-box and cutting edge solutions to stubborn economic and social issues. NBCI’s programs are governed by credible statistical analysis, science based strategies and techniques, and methods that work. Visit our website at www.naltblackchurch.com.

Lt. Governor Simon calls on Senate to pass victims Bill of Rights amendment

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On February - 9 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon commended state representatives on their 116-2 passage of House Joint Resolution 29 and urged senators to approve the Constitutional amendment. The resolution amends the section of the Illinois Bill of Rights concerning crime victims.

Currently, the Bill of Rights outlines certain protections for crime victims, but fails to offer any sort remedy if a right is violated. The resolution permits crime victims to ask that their rights be enforced and requires the court to act promptly on such a request. For example, if a hearing is held without the victim being notified by the court, the victim could assert the right to timely notification and ask the hearing be held again. Illinois is the only state in the union that does not provide such a remedy for its crime victims.

“The criminal justice system affords many protections for crime victims, but without proper enforcement, the protections are barely of any use,” Simon said. “By adopting this resolution, representatives have brought this critical issue to light and give Illinois residents the opportunity to make these changes to the state Constitution.

The resolution will now move to the Senate. If passed by a 3/5 majority in that chamber, the amendment will be placed on the November 2012 ballot where it will require a 3/5 vote of Illinois citizens to be accepted.

Simon, a former Jackson County prosecutor, founded the domestic violence legal clinic at Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale.

 

Record number of Illinois students taking AP Exams and posting successful scores

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On February - 9 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Illinois Moves Closer to AP Equity and Excellence for Latino Students; Number of Latino graduates taking AP courses quadrupled over the past 10 years

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL – A record number of Illinois students took AP exams in 2011, bumping Latino students’ participation rates to an all-time high and moving the state closer to equity among this student population. The number of Latino graduates taking AP courses has quadrupled in the last decade, according to ‘The 8th Annual AP Report to the Nation.’  The percentage of Illinois graduates completing more than one AP exam has more than doubled since 2001, and the percentage of seniors posting a successful score on these rigorous exams has increased by 7.5 percent since 2001.

“We have made significant strides during the past decade in Illinois, increasing the number of students taking AP classes and scoring well on AP exams,” said State Superintendent Christopher A. Koch. “I expect these gains to continue for all students as we implement Illinois’ internationally-benchmarked learning standards and better monitor student progress over time.”

Illinois ranks in the upper half of the nation in 2011 for the number of high school seniors – 18.5 percent – who scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam. In addition, participation among all categories – by gender, ethnicity and economic class – increased in Illinois as schools implement new, more rigorous college and career-ready standards.

“Reaching equity among our Latino students is an important step in closing the achievement gap and better preparing students to succeed,” said State Board Chairman Gery J. Chico. “We must provide rigorous opportunities for all students, regardless of race, ethnicity or zip code to continue Illinois’ economic vitality in the future.”

Illinois ranked 15th in the nation for having the greatest percent of seniors posting a 3 or higher, which studies have shown is predictive of college success and college graduation. The percentage of Illinois students reaching that benchmark has increased by 7.5 percentage points since 2001 when 11 percent of students scored a 3 or higher.  Nearly 30 percent of all high school seniors in the Class of 2011 took at least one AP exam during high school, compared to 20.5 percent in 2006 and 15 percent in 2001.

More of Illinois’ traditionally underserved public high school graduates are participating and succeeding in AP. Research shows that minority and low-income students who earn a 3 or higher on an AP exam are more likely than their peers to earn higher degrees in college and a college degree within five years of enrolling. Some highlights regarding Illinois’ progress toward achieving equity and excellence for its students include:

 

·         15.1 percent of graduates were Hispanic/Latino, and 13.1 percent of successful AP students from the Class of 2011 were Hispanic/Latino. The number of Latino students who took at least one AP exam during high school more than doubled, from 2,864 in 2006 to 6,246 in 2011. The number of these students who scored a three or higher on at least one AP exam nearly doubled, from 1,630 to 3,213 during that time.

 

·         The number of Black/African American students who took at least one AP Exam during high school more than doubled, from 2,092 in 2006 to 4,686 in 2011, and the number of these students who scored 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam nearly doubled, from 544 to 1,044.

 

·         The number of low-income students who took at least one AP Exam during high school more than doubled, from 4,038 in the class of 2006 to 10,273 in the class of 2011. The number of these students who scored 3 or higher on at least one AP Exam also more than doubled, from 1,565 to 3,894 during that time.

 

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) adopted the more rigorous, internationally-benchmarked Common Core Standards in English and mathematics in 2010, and school districts are in the process of implementing those standards in classroom curriculum. Last year, Illinois was named a lead state in a collaborative development of new science standards to be drafted within the next year.  Illinois is also one of 11 states serving on the governing board of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The new online assessments, which will be better aligned to the state standards, will be ready for states to administer in the 2014-15 school year.

 Other highlights of the 8th annual AP Report to the Nation: 

·         Nearly 12 percent of students scored a 3 or higher on the AP Social Science Exam, making it the exam with the greatest number of Illinois students achieving a successful score.

 

·         The most popular AP exam in Illinois for the graduating class of 2011 was U.S. History with 13,390  tests taken compared to Chemistry with 4,212 tests taken.

 

·         The 8th Annual Report to the Nation features Whitney M. Young Magnet School in Chicago and AP Calculus teacher Matthew Moran. Nationally, 202,725 public high school graduates took AP Calculus AB in 2010-11. In Illinois, 2,732 test takers reported Calculus AB exam scores to higher education institutions last school year.

Illinois Arts Council reinstates Ethnic & Folk Arts Master Apprentice Program, deadline for Fy12 applications is March 30, 2012

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On February - 9 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS
Guidelines and application materials are now available online for the Illinois Arts Council’s Ethnic & Folk Arts Master Apprentice Program. Suspended since 2009 as the result of state budget cuts, the IAC is pleased to be able to reinstate the Master Apprentice Program in FY2012 with the aid of funding received from the National Endowment for the Arts Folk Arts Infrastructure grant program.

The Illinois Arts Council and the Master Apprentice Program recognize the vital role of the master artist/apprentice relationship in the preservation of the state’s cultural heritage. The IAC’s Master Apprentice Program helps communities preserve their own culture by providing an opportunity for master traditional artists to pass on their skills to a qualified apprentice in a time-honored method. Past awards have supported traditional or ethnic art forms as diverse as East Indian dance, split wood baskets, Chinese drum and bell music, fish net making, Ukrainian pysanky, and Illinois fiddle traditions.

 

Master artists are recognized within their communities as exemplary practitioners of their traditional or ethnic art forms. Apprentices applying to this program should have prior experience in the art form. The Master Apprentice award is a fixed amount of $3,000, awarded to the master artist.

 

“Illinois is exceptionally rich in cultural heritage,” says Terry A. Scrogum, Illinois Arts Council Executive Director. “Ethnic and Folk Arts Master Apprentice Grants help to foster this learning arrangement and sustain the diversity of these traditional art forms.”

 

The deadline for application to the FY12 Ethnic & Folk Arts Master Apprentice Program is March 30, 2012. Guidelines and application materials can be downloaded from the Illinois Arts Council website: www.arts.illinois.gov/MAP. Application materials will not be mailed. For further information about this program, please contact Susan Dickson, Director of Ethnic & Folk Arts, Literature & Presenters Programs, at 312/814-6740, or email susan.dickson@illinois.gov.  

Alderman Sawyer seeks carrot to revamp Chatham’s business strips and housing stock

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On February - 9 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

 

By Chinta Strausberg

 

Newly elected Ald. Roderick Sawyer is seeking to restore a sense of community in Chatham and other areas in his ward and promises to fill every vacant house while re-planning business strips to be more economically compatible and diverse in its service.

“The collection of neighborhoods was always considered Chatham,” said Sawyer referring to the same expectation of maintenance of properties, the same level of occupancy where there were no occupancies on a block other than death. “That spirit extended from Chatham to Park Manor. “We have that concept of a very tight-knit community. Most of my friends lived in Chatham.

“That sense of community is what set Chatham apart from other communities,” he said. ”Even if you didn’t live directly in Chatham…we all had that same sense of community price, the maintenance, the expectations of keeping your property up, strong block club associations. These are the things that made Chatman great. It made people want to live and stay there,” said Sawyer.

Park Manor boundaries run from Marquette to 79th Street, State Street to Cottage Grove and butting that would be Chatham, which runs from 79th Street South to 87th Street.

Saying Chatham is still a stable community, Sawyer said, “we’re experiencing some bumps a portion of which was attributed to some people attempting to make fast money during the real estate boom and then subsequent bust.”

During the 1990’s, Sawyer explained as opposed to homeowners keeping their homes in Chatham, they began to refinance or sell them to interests that “blew up…overly inflated the prices. So instead of having the children staying in the house with either no mortgage or very little mortgage, they were maximizing out on the mortgages because so much money was available. It was easy money and they took that money to buy cars.

“Some people did the right thing by reinvesting in the house but some took that money and ran and when that market crashed, it left us with an inventory of housing stock that Chatham was not used to. We never had this type of housing abundance in the Chatham area like we do now,” said Sawyer.  Explaining, Sawyer said when he was growing up, every house was occupied. “You knew who was in every house. You had strong block clubs, but now you have vacancies.”

In taking an inventory of his ward, Sawyer said he’s learned that more block clubs have disbanded. “They are not there now because the rocks of the block have passed on, moved on, retired….

“What’s being left is an abundance of houses and now we have investors coming in looking at their bottom line and are renting rather than buying houses. A lot of people are renting houses right now because the income is there particularly from Section 8 and that is what I don’t like what is going on in Chatham.”

Sawyer said speculators and investors are buying houses and are renovating them; however, if they cannot sell them, they rent them out. “The best rent is subsidized rent because that check comes at the first of the month and it’s higher than market rate rent in most cases,” he said.

But with Section 8 applicants, Sawyer said there are some problems due to lack of screening and the lack of oversight for those renting those houses. “It does become a little dicey,” said Sawyer.

“For the most part, Chatham is still a thriving community” and Sawyer is doing all he can to reinvigorate “that spirit of community pride and get these block clubs that have been dormant reactivated and get people excited about being in Chatham once again.”

When asked how was he going to achieve that goal, Sawyer said, “Sometimes you have to get people mad.” He gave the example of a pawnshop that wanted to open up in the community. Sawyer said he sent the pawnshop people to the community.

Well, that awakened a sleeping giant in Chatham where more than 150 people came to a meeting normally attended by 20 and they voted it down. “That’s what I am looking for that engagement once again with our community with individuals who are stakeholders. I want them to get off the sidelines and get into the game. We need everybody in this fight to preserve Chatham, all of our communities.”

The way to do that, he said, is getting people excited about what is going on in the neighborhoods.

Asked about the crime issue in Chatham, Sawyer said, “There will always be some levels of crime but it was not nearly as it is now. You knew most people on your block. I talk to people and they don’t know their next door neighbors.”

Sawyer said given this scenario people “open up themselves to anti-social behavior” because they don’t know who is living next door to them while their neighbors may be watching their every move. “They know when you leave from work, when you get home. They know they have a small opportunity to get what they’re trying to get. Often times we become lax. We leave our curtains open and they can see our big screen TV’s in the front room and people notice these things especially those with ill intent….

“It’s at a point where we are not watchful enough for each other,” said Sawyer which is why he says these “punks” are breaking in and robbing seniors who are trying to keep up their property. “Break-ins and robberies on the streets are the main problems and that leaves out gang-related shootings.”

“It’s a daunting task” to curb crime, he said explaining it is putting a lot of pressure on police resources. “You can’t be every where and these kids are out here with guns, can’t shoot straight, killing innocent bystanders and reeking havoc on the community and it’s got to stop.”

He’s hoping the police implement an enforcement program and crack down on offenders. “It’s time to stop playing games with them. They have to be dealt with. If they don’t want to conform and do what is right, the police department needs to deal with them swiftly and harshly with the combination of our police and our court system.”

Asked what are his plans for 2012, Sawyer said there is a lack of resources in the community that are desperately needed like: service providers, hospitality, stores, shops and restaurants. “We have a pretty solid middle class neighborhoods” including a lot of retirees many of whom own their own homes.

Sawyer said, “We don’t provide them enough options in the Chatham community. I want to change that. I want to make sure we have things available to our citizens to give them a reason to stay in our community rather than going to Orland or downtown to shop and entertain themselves. I want them to have an opportunity to do that in Chatham.”

Sawyer is meeting with city planners to “reinvent” some of the arterial streets suitable for some of these new businesses. “We don’t effectively plan our neighborhood like we should.  Over the years, we have gotten incompatible businesses next to each other which will stifle growth for each other.”

He is planning areas at a time. “Sometimes we’ve got businesses in our community that are not really collectively putting them together in our best interest and those are the things we have to make adjustments and change. It’s difficult because I am thinking about the possibility of having to move some businesses, trying to relocate them so we can plan to make sense in our community,” said Sawyer.

He wants Chatham to mirror other communities that have transformed like Bridgeport, Maxwell Street or Wicker Park  Sawyer wants people to want to set up shop and keep the revenue flowing within Chatham. “Those communities have transformed and we haven’t.

“We’ve not caught up with the times, and I think this is one issue we need to address in order for us to continue to attract younger people to stay in Chatham or those looking for a new place to live…. We have to entice them. We need a carrot to entice them. Chatham has not changed in more than 30 or 40-years.”

But, Sawyer made it clear that he will be working with existing restaurants but said, “we need more options.” “We should start having conversations about having more variety in our community both sit-down and take-out. We need to have healthier options. We need to create a new lifestyle change for our eating habits particularly children.”

With Army & Lou’s and Izola Restaurants now closed, Josephine’s Hardtimes Cooking is one of few restaurants left in Chatham. “What we need to start doing is to reinvigorating new and different concepts of restaurants. The restaurant industry has evolved and unfortunately Chatham has not kept up with that pace.

“In addition to our seniors, there are people my age and younger who want the option to entertain themselves in our community…. I want them to spend their dollars enough to generate tax revenue here in Chatham,” Sawyer said.

“There are no sports bars, no coffee shops, no cafes to any great degree, no places where I can take my computer and have a cup of coffee and some tea. We have some but not enough.”

When asked what is the carrot to draw new business to Chatham, Sawyer said, “I want to re-plan our area, and I want to get additional streetscaping, make it walking friendly while being accommodating to the cars. I want to get that sense of community back in Chatham. We’ll do it one step at a time, area by area.”

Saying he wants to make sure Chatham is a viable community where people are comfortable living and raising families, Sawyer said, “in order for us to do that we have to maintain our status as a strong community” which includes re-opening closed block clubs and community groups partnering with schools. “We have to show community pride, bake sales. Let’s go old school what ever we need to do to show a sense of pride in our community then let’s do that….

“Once we show we are a community again, that we care what goes on and doing everything necessary to achieve that people will see Chatham is the envy of others and we will have that 100 occupancy rate once again. We will fill our houses and our (housing) inventory will be gone. That’s my goal,” said Sawyer.

Asked about why he became an alderman, Sawyer, the son of the late Ald. Eugene Sawyer (6th) who later became mayor of Chicago after the death of Mayor Harold Washington, said, “I was the one who caught the (political) bug.” He stayed at his father’s side and began working elections at the age of 12 posting signs, working precincts and became an election challenger at the age of 18.

After graduating from law school, Sawyer said, “I had the itch. I love politics and it is something I want to continue,” but for now, Sawyer’s goal is to fill every vacant house in his ward and to transform Chatham and the other communities to mirror other communities in Chicago and to come up with the carrot he needs to attract new businesses.

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.

Beyond Sport Awards 2012 open for entries

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On February - 9 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Beyond Sport, the global organization that promotes, develops and funds the use of sport to create positive social change, is delighted to announce that entries are now open for this year’s Beyond Sport Awards – with the winners to be unveiled at the Beyond Sport Summit, to be held in London in July.

Designed to recognize and reward those individuals and organizations using sport to drive forward social change, the Beyond Sport Awards are made up of 12 categories covering the entire sporting spectrum of health, social inclusion, corporate and social responsibility, and team and federation community engagement.

The Awards categories are split into three clear sections – Community Awards; Corporation, Team, and Federation Awards; and the Judges’ Awards. The winners of the six Community Awards will each receive funding as well as a Business Support Package worth hundreds of thousands of dollars made up of strategic consultancy, marketing and advertising support, and more.

The Awards will close on Friday 6th April, but entrants are encouraged to submit their entry form early, as promotional and exposure opportunities will be available to programmes through Beyond Sport’s high-traffic online outlets. Entry forms can be downloaded from www.beyondsport.org.

A shortlist of projects in each of the Awards categories will be revealed in April, with representatives invited to London for the fourth annual Beyond Sport Summit in July, where the winners will be unveiled.

The Awards winners are selected by the Beyond Sport Ambassadors – a group of high-profile individuals chaired by former British Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, and including HRH Prince Faisal Al Hussein of Jordan, former South African football captain Lucas Radebe; and multi-Olympic gold medallists Michael Johnson and Sergey Bubka.

Previous winners of the Awards have ranged from a project that provides safe spaces to play sports in a gang-stricken area of Chicago; to a programme in India that works with victims of human trafficking through dance and movement therapy; to a surfing project that works with street children in South Africa; to a Venezuelan initiative that uses rugby as a tool to dismantle gangs.

Groups and individuals from across the globe can look to follow in the footsteps of these projects and enter their social change initiatives in the Beyond Sport Awards 2012 via the organization’s website, www.beyondsport.org.

Beyond Sport is partnered with Barclays Spaces for Sports, TIME International and UNICEF.

For further information visit www.beyondsport.org or contact

NAACP Job Fair coming to Chicago on February 21

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On February - 9 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Recognizing that these are difficult times for many families and that unemployment rates in communities are at record highs, the NAACP has put together a national effort to provide better economic opportunities for all Americans.

If you are unemployed or interested in a new career, the Regional Diversity Job Fair is coming to the Chicago area.

This event will provide a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with companies that are hiring and looking for experienced candidates. Employers are seeking candidates with experience and interest in sales, engineering, government, security, education, military, medical, banking, financial services, and more. Come out and meet the employers.

The NAACP Regional Diversity Job Fair will be held Tuesday, February 21
10:00AM – 3:00PM, at Navy Pier – Lakeview Terrace, 600 E. Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL.

There will be specialized pavilions offering careers in Education, Entertainment, Technology, Finance, Government, Healthcare, Retail, & more. The Diversity Talent Fair is free and open to everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, etc.

Take plenty of copies of your resume and get ready to jump into gear with a new career!

For more information, visit http://psijobfair.com/Schedule/ChicagoFebruary212012.aspx  or call (952) 595-4496, ext. 115

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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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