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Archive for March 23rd, 2012

U.S. Senators Kirk, Blumenthal, Rubio and Begich call on Village Voice Media to block child prostitution and take down “Adult Services” Ads from Backpage.com

Posted by Admin On March - 23 - 2012 Comments Off on U.S. Senators Kirk, Blumenthal, Rubio and Begich call on Village Voice Media to block child prostitution and take down “Adult Services” Ads from Backpage.com
Law enforcement implores Backpage, the leading U.S. website for prostitution advertising, to protect children
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mark Begich (D-AK), along with 15 other U.S. Senators, wrote to the Chairman and CEO of Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC, the company that operates Backpage.com, demanding the elimination of the adult services section on the classified advertising website. 
On Sunday, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times ran “Where Pimps Peddle Their Goods.”  Kristof interviewed a 17-year-old who was commonly sold on Backpage and wrote, “After Alissa testified against her pimps, six of them went to prison for up to 25 years. Yet these days, she reserves her greatest anger not at pimps but at companies that enable them. She is particularly scathing about Backpage.com, a classified advertising website that is used to sell auto parts, furniture, boats — and girls. Alissa says pimps routinely peddled her on Backpage.”
Backpage.com is the leading U.S. website for prostitution advertising. Recent reports from the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) found more than 50 instances nationwide of charges filed against people trafficking minors on Backpage.com. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 40 percent of incidents investigated by federally funded task forces on human trafficking between 2008 and 2012 involved sexual exploitation of a child. Similar classified advertising websites, such as Craigslist.com, have taken down their adult services ads after being petitioned to eliminate the section. Backpage continues to ignore the evidence, putting profit above children’s safety. 
The lawmakers join 51 Attorneys General and more than 90,000 Americans who signed a petition in urging Backpage.com to remove the adult services section.
“Nothing should stop us from protecting victims of child prostitution and trafficking,” said a spokesperson for Senator Kirk. “The ‘profit first’ mentality at Backpage and their parent company, Village Voice Media, continue to prioritize the rights of pimps, not kids.  Citizens are disgusted to learn how often children are being used as prostitutes in their own backyard and we will not rest until children are no longer victimized by this website.”
“Backpage should immediately shut down the adult services section of its website, and end its enabling of prostitution and human trafficking, just as Craigslist did at my urging,” said Senator Blumenthal.  “For too long, countless girls have been victims of prostitution, human trafficking, and horrendous violence through Backpage.com ads. Unconscionably, Backpage continues to allow adult services advertising on their website, knowing that these advertisements are an avenue for horrific violence against women and children.”
“Sex trafficking is a horrendous practice that must be stopped in our own communities and around the world,” said Senator Rubio. “Backpage.com and its parent company Village Voice Media are making money off the sexual exploitation of children through sex trafficking. We simply can’t continue to turn a blind eye to this practice.” 
Senator Begich said, “If closing down Backpage, which accounts for 70% prostitution advertising, can save hundreds of girls, there is no reason not to call for its swift demise immediately.  It may not end the violent and horrific practice of trafficking entirely, but it is a positive and necessary step forward in keeping young people safe from the victimization and abuse of prostitution.”
The NAAG letter to Backpage can be found here.
“Today’s powerful message from distinguished members of the United States Senate again demonstrates that Americans, regardless of political party or religious preference, find common cause in the fight against human trafficking,” said Washington State Attorney General, president of the National Association of Attorneys General. “A company that is profiting from the sale of human beings–including minors–and that is leveraging a once-respectable media operation in defense of that business, finds itself in conflict with a compassionate nation. We hope Village Voice changes course and finally does the right thing.”  Washington State Attorney General McKenna’s speech on Backpage to the NAAG can be found here. 
The full text of the Senate letter to Backpage is below: 
Mr. Jim Larkin
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer 
Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC
1201 E. Jefferson St.
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Dear Mr. Larkin: 
Our founding fathers guaranteed the freedom of expression in the United States Constitution, and as U.S. Senators, we work hard to defend this fundamental American value. However, the First Amendment has clear limitations – it does not extend to child pornography and it does not extend to the sexual exploitation of minors on the Internet. 
Experts estimate that 300,000 children are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation in the United States, and that girls and boys are forced into prostitution at the average ages of 12 to 14 and 11 to 13, respectively. A chilling report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 40 percent of incidents investigated by federally funded task forces on human trafficking between 2008 and 2010 involved the sexual exploitation of a child. Unfortunately, these numbers only continue to rise. 
We believe, as the leading U.S. website for prostitution advertising, Backpage.com can create a significant impact on this appalling industry by shutting off a major source of advertising for these practices – the adult services section of the website. 
We are greatly alarmed by the increasing news reports of pimps and traffickers using Backpage.com to advertise sexual services by minors. The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) found more than 50 instances nationwide of charges filed against people trafficking or attempting to traffic minors on Backpage.com. Recent child prostitution cases involving Backpage.com include:
  • Myrelle and Tyrelle Lockett, pled guilty to trafficking of persons for forced labor or services in February 2011 for prostituting multiple Chicago area girls, including at least one who was underage. The girls were advertised on Backpage.com with rates as high as $300 per hour.
  • Kendel Morell, charged with human trafficking, rape and sexual exploitation of a child in October 2011 for forcing a 17-year-old Albuquerque girl into prostitution on Backpage.com.
  • Demetrius Darnell Homer, convicted of sex trafficking of a minor and sentenced to 20 years in prison in August 2011 for violently forcing a 14-year-old Atlanta girl into prostitution and posting her services on Backpage.com. Homer kept the girl in line through beatings, threatening her with a knife, and on one occasion, shocking her with a taser in front of another underage girl he had placed in prostitution. Homer even forced the girl to engage in prostitution while she was pregnant with his child.  
  • Akmal S. Karon, a Minnesota man, charged with eight counts of child prostitution for pimping two underage girls and keeping them in line using rape and extreme violence. One girl, who first began working as a prostitute for Karon at 15, told police that Karon raped her, punched her in the face, repeatedly kicked her, burned her hand with a cigar, and once hit her in the head with a Snapple bottle when she did not earn enough money. Karon picked up the other girl outside her home just a few days before her 14th birthday. He raped and beat her the following day at a motel, and then held her captive for over a week, forcing her to work for him as a prostitute. Karon advertised both girls on Backpage.com.
We understand your company continues to ensure the public that employees are working closely to monitor the website, claiming to remove 400 ads that market the sexual exploitation of minors every month through a manual review process. But according to field experts and law enforcement authorities, these actions pale in comparison to the illegal activity facilitated via the website. NAAG maintains that the number of postings for prostitution services has not appeared to decrease since the issue was first raised with Village Voice Media. It took only minutes on Backpage.com’s adult services section for us to find posts that present clear advertisements for prostitution of young girls. 
It is clear from the increasing child trafficking cases linked to the website that the company is unable or unwilling to keep up with the sheer volume of these ads that garner an annual estimated profit of $24 million. There is only one option to keep our children safe from exploitation on your advertising network – shut down the adult services section of Backpage.com. 
We echo the sentiments of 51 Attorneys General, dozens of human rights and sexual assault organizations, The Seattle Times, faith leaders, and more than 90,000 Americans who signed a petition on this issue, and urge you in the strongest terms possible to follow Craigslist and remove the adult services section from Backpage.com. 
We look forward to your swift response.

National Black Church Initiative urges President Obama not to succumb to war

Posted by Admin On March - 23 - 2012 Comments Off on National Black Church Initiative urges President Obama not to succumb to war

Engaging in Violence in Iran is Immoral and Wrong



Washington DCThe National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African Americans dedicated to the eradication of racial disparities around the world, is urging president Obama to resist political pressure that is urging him to attack Iran’s nuclear sites, despite the backlash he may incur. How many wars are enough Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Iran?


Apart from the moral turpitude encountered by pursuing wars that will kill innocents go against Biblical teachings, violent attacks against Iran will not end in credible or desirable ways. Neither President Obama nor Eric Holder has the authority to take lives; this authority only rests with God. The Administration must resist the pressures from Israeli activists and press forward with a humanitarian foreign policy agenda. Why should we waste our money and youth for the sake of Israel who kills Palatines at will (29 just recently)? Let Israel fight their own war!


As the Reverend Anthony Evans, President of the NBCI notes, “NBCI is adamant in its call on President Obama not to wage violence against Iran. Letting political agendas trump God-given lives is immoral and wrong. We as religious leaders cannot stand by and watch acts of violence unfold before our eyes against innocents. The Black Church is ashamed of the President Obama and his thirty for violence and killing. Violence is never an option, no matter the circumstance. Civil discussion, negotiations, and prayer can solve every human conflict. President Obama must not show Israel and friends of Israel and they can get the U.S. involved in a war with Iran. Political alliances must not determine who lives and who dies. “


NBCI and the black faith community urge President Obama to continue the path of solving the Iran problem via economic sanctions and unity in the international community against its nuclear regime. The Black Church will continue to monitor the President’s actions carefully, and any politician who endorses violence as a solution, even Black Democrats, will lose the backing of the Black Church moving into the 2012 elections.



About NBCI


The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI) is a coalition of 34,000 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. 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. 


African American Clergy and Civil Rights Leaders from around the country to rally against injustice of Trayvon Martin, March 26th, at Sanford City Hall in Florida

Posted by Admin On March - 23 - 2012 Comments Off on African American Clergy and Civil Rights Leaders from around the country to rally against injustice of Trayvon Martin, March 26th, at Sanford City Hall in Florida

Trayvon Martin Rally with Empowerment Movement will begin at 4 p.m. 


African American Clergy and Civil Rights Leaders from around the country, Rev. Jesse Jackson, the NAACP, Central Florida Urban League, AME Ministerial Alliance, Students from Howard University, Bethune Cookman University, Florida A&M University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, University of Central Florida, the African American Student Union, National Pan-Hallenic Council, as well as concern citizens and the community will join Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant of the Empowerment Movement to Rally against the injustice of Trayvon Martin.

The rally will begin at 4:00pm on March 26, 2012 at Centennial Park located at 400 Park Ave in Sanford, Florida and they will march to Sanford Civic Center (300 North Park Ave) where the City Commission will be held, a month after the victim was slain. Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin will speak, immediately following the rally at the Sanford City Council Meeting at 5p.m. The rally is being led by Pastor Jamal Bryant of the Empowerment Movement with support from local and national African American Clergy, Civil Rights organizations and leaders and the community.  Protesters are asked to bring their voice and a bag of skittles in honor of Trayvon.

Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant, the pastor of Empowerment Temple and President of the Empowerment Movement, vowed to “Shut down Florida” at a rally last week in Florida to demand justice for slain Miami-Dade teen Trayvon Martin. The organization is asking everyone to come out to rally in support of the Martin family.

The Empowerment Movement, is a faith based coalition of African American Clergy with initiatives that will bring together leaders of the faith based community of all denominations, designed to move the African American Community forward in social justice, politics, education and economics with the use of Christian principles. The organization’s involvement in the case is to rally for justice for Trayvon Martin and his family and other victims. 

In addition, the Empowerment Movement has taken on a massive undertaking, with a goal to register one million voters on one day, Easter, April 8, 2012, by challenging every black church in the United States to register 20 people on that day. For more information visit:  www.Empowermentmovement.org  

Dr. Bryant is a pastor with a global mission, which is to Empower the World Through the Word. He has the fastest growing church in the A.M.E. denomination. This new millennium minister is an impassioned social activist, community developer, and cultural philanthropist; an author, motivational speaker, and TV and radio personality.  www.facebook.com/jamalbryant  /  twitter.com/jamalhbryant. 

Justice demanded in the death of Trayvon Martin

Posted by Admin On March - 23 - 2012 Comments Off on Justice demanded in the death of Trayvon Martin


“Everybody is outraged.  There is no justice in this.”


By Marc H. Morial, President and CEO
National Urban League


Being a young black man has been called the hardest job in America.  Young black men are much more likely than white men to be jobless, in jail and labelled “suspicious,” sometimes with deadly consequences.  Such was the case on February 26th, when 17-year-old high school student, Trayvon Martin, was shot and killed by a white neighborhood-watch vigilante in Sanford, Florida.  The shooter, George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old white Hispanic, noticed Trayvon walking through his gated community and called 911 to report a suspicious person.  Instead of following the dispatcher’s instructions and ending his involvement there, Zimmerman continued following Trayvon.  An altercation ensued and Trayvon was shot.  Zimmerman claimed self defense and has not been charged with a crime.  Trayvon’s parents are both heartbroken and outraged.  As Benjamin Crump, the family’s lawyer put it, “If Trayvon would have been the triggerman, it’s nothing Trayvon Martin could have said to keep police from arresting him Day 1, Hour 1.” 
Of the many unanswered questions in this case, two stand out.  First, Trayvon Martin, who had just stopped off at a convenience store, was armed only with a bag of Skittles and a can of ice tea.  George Zimmerman, who weighed over 100 pounds more than the victim, was armed with a 9 millimeter handgun.  Even if there was a physical altercation between the two, why was such deadly force necessary? 
Second, one of the reasons the police gave for not immediately arresting Zimmerman was that he had a “squeaky clean” record.  A few days later it was discovered that Zimmerman had been arrested in 2005 for resisting arrest with battery on a police officer.  Trayvon Martin, on the other hand, had no criminal record. 
These and other troubling facts have led the Central Florida Urban League and others, to call on the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice to conduct an independent investigation.  Central Florida Urban League president and CEO, Allie Braswell said, “A private citizen taking law enforcement into his own hands cannot be condoned.  If it is found that a crime has been committed, the shooter must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”  This case is now generating national attention and we will be following it closely. 
We do not know for sure why George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin.  But we do know, according to a 2011 College Board report, that 45 percent of African American high school graduates between the ages of 15 and 24 will end up “unemployed, incarcerated or dead.”  We also know that the murder of innocent black men in the American South is nothing new.  Fifty-seven years ago, the white murderers of 14-year old Emmitt Till in the Mississippi Delta were acquitted of the crime in a clear case of racial injustice. 
As the father of a 10-year old African American son, I join all African American parents and Americans of conscience everywhere in calling for an end to the war against young black men and a thorough investigation of the death of Trayvon Martin.

NATO Protesters appeal city’s rejection of their Permit Application

Posted by Admin On March - 23 - 2012 Comments Off on NATO Protesters appeal city’s rejection of their Permit Application

Charge Chicago officials use new ‘Sit Down and Shut Up’ ordinances to deny protest permit they had previously approved.

Activists vow Court Fight for the Right to Protest – Their Application Was Identical to One City Had Approved for the Day Before Under Old Ordinance

(From the Coalition Against the NATO / G8 War & Poverty Agenda)
CHICAGO, IL – A team of social justice activists planning one of the NATO meeting’s major protests appealed the City’s rejection of their march permit application in their ongoing struggle to secure the right to hold a peaceful, family-friendly protest the day the NATO gathering opens.

The protesters, who represent organizations in the Coalition Against the NATO / G8 War & Poverty Agenda (“CANG8”), had asked the City to allow them to push the date of a previously approved rally and march forward by a day from May 19 to May 20. The previously approved rally and march would have put protesters within ‘sight and sound’ of McCormick Place, where the NATO and G8 meetings were both scheduled to be held.

The City rejected that proposal late last week, refusing to change the permit date by a day — for exactly the same gathering and route they had already approved when both the G8 and NATO meetings were planning to converge in Chicago. Their reasoning? That there are not “a sufficient number of on-duty police officers or other city employees” to deal with the proposed May 20th march. Incredibly, earlier this year the City made no such claims when they approved an identical permit application for March 19 — when both the G8 and NATO were scheduled to gather at McCormick Place. The previous permit application was made under the terms of the old permit ordinance (10-8-330).

By noting that the City does not have sufficient “on-duty” personnel, Chicago officials are utilizing the language of the new “sit-down and shut-up” ordinances to justify their rejection of the permit. Under the old ordinance, the city could only reject an application if it lacked “a sufficient number of peace officers and traffic control aides” — on- or off-duty.

Protesters refused to agree to a City counterproposal that would have ghettoized their route to streets with virtually no public visibility.

Activists argued that if the City truly lacked sufficient police and other resources to host the summits and accommodate previously approved First Amendment activities — resources they apparently felt they had when they first approved the permit request in January — Chicago officials should have declined to host the summits in the first place.

Protesters contend that with the G8 meeting now relocated to Camp David, arguably there are actually significantly greater police resources available than when the original permit for May 19th was applied for — and granted — three months ago.

The City claimed in its rejection that the CANG8 march will “substantially and unnecessarily interfere with traffic in the area” — on a Sunday — yet the City had no such objection to the identical route when scheduled for Saturday, when civilian traffic is significantly higher.

The Department of Administrative Hearings has set the appeal hearing for 10:30 AM, Tuesday, March 27 at 400 W. Superior, Room 111.

Congressman Rush helps four young new leaders win election

Posted by Admin On March - 23 - 2012 Comments Off on Congressman Rush helps four young new leaders win election

Says all seasoned pols should do the same 


By Chinta Strausberg 


U.S. Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-1st) is proud to have endorsed and supported four young candidates who were running in open seats in the March 20th election.

Rush thanks his constituents who returned him to office, but he is also proud to have supported four candidates for the Illinois General Assembly who ran in open seats who also won: Christian Mitchell, 26th Representative District, Michael E. Hastings, 19th Senatorial District,  Napoleon Harris, 15th Senatorial District,  and Elgie Sims, 34th Representative District.

“All of these young men are grounded in their commitment to be of service to their distinct constituencies,” said Rush who said he is proud of having meaningful relationships with these candidates.

 “I am very proud of them and proud to be of  assistance in their successful campaigns.

“The many seasoned politicians should be able to identify and work with leaders of the next generation,” Rush stated. Rush believes that is the mark of a good leader—to identify aspiring leaders and help push them over the victory line.

Chinta Strausberg, Communications Director for the Re-Election of Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-1st)

The truth about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law

Posted by Admin On March - 23 - 2012 Comments Off on The truth about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law

By Christopher E. Benjamin, Esq.

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Since the death of teenager, Trayvon Martin there has been a whirlwind of coverage about the Seminole County’s police department’s failure to arrest his killer, 28 year old George Zimmerman. What appears to be a simple case of an overzealous crime watch volunteer’s unprovoked and unwarranted shooting, has been muddied by the possibility of an immunity called “Stand Your Ground”. As many legal analyst have pointed out, in a typical case in which you are confronted with a dangerous situation (outside of your home) the law would require that you flee in order to avoid the confrontation. Moreover, if a confrontation cannot be avoided you are typically precluded from using deadly force unless you cannot escape and there is a “reasonable” belief that you will suffer the loss of life or serious bodily injury.

In 2009, the Florida Legislature passed the now criticized “Stand Your Ground” law. The law provides that in certain circumstances, a person may use deadly force to stand his ground against an attacker and be free from the fear of prosecution; the law essentially gives persons charged with murder (or another serious crime) a substantive right to assert immunity from prosecution. Unlike a justification which may reduce the charge a person ultimately faces (or mitigate his sentencing), immunity (i.e. an excuse) is an escape from any form of criminal prosecution and in the case of “Stand Your Ground” the person may also escape civil liability. In a typical case a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt (which is the highest burden of proof in our justice system). Moreover, it is the State’s burden to produce the evidence to persuade a jury that the alleged crime was committed by a duly charged defendant.

However, in the case of affirmative defenses, like “Stand Your Ground”, it is the defendant’s burden to proof that defense is applicable under the facts leading to the alleged crime. In the case of the “Stand Your Ground” immunity, the Defendant must show that: 1) he or she was not engaged in an unlawful act (i.e. the defendant was not the aggressor); 2) he or she was attacked in a place where he or she had a right to be and 3) he or she met force with force (including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it to be necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself, another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony). It’s important to note that reasonable belief is an objective standard which requires the Court to determine what would a reasonable person (a sane and rationale human being) have done or believed in the defendant’s situation. When the defendant invokes the statutory immunity, the trial court must hold a pre-trial evidentiary hearing to determine if the preponderance of the evidence (which is typically the burden of proof of civil cases and one of the lowest standards in our justice system) warrants the granting of the immunity; thereby, releasing the defendant from prosecution.

If Zimmerman is to succeed in the assertion of the “Stand Your Ground” immunity, he must convince a judge that he was not engaged in any unlawful conduct when he approached Trayvon and that he had a right to be in the place in which the killing took place and that he had a reasonable fear that the significantly smaller and unarmed Trayvon posed a treat in which he could have lost his life or suffered serious bodily injury. I believe that under the facts that have come to light thus far Zimmerman would have an uphill battle in proving the facts necessary to establish his defense; however, we may never get there if the Grand Jury decides that no harm has occurred.

Christopher E. Benjamin, Esq. is an attorney in the state of Florida (Bar No. 561029). He can be reached at 954-790-7221 or cbenjamin@thebarrister.net

Imagine Englewood & Partners to hold urgent Town Hall Meeting on violence, March 31

Posted by Admin On March - 23 - 2012 Comments Off on Imagine Englewood & Partners to hold urgent Town Hall Meeting on violence, March 31
Community stakeholders called to create plan of action
On Saturday, March 31, 2012, Imagine Englewood if, Teamwork Englewood, and Lead-Safe Chicago will jointly host a Town Hall Meeting targeted at reducing violence in Englewood.  “Englewood lost 60 souls in 2011, and the number is rising in 2012,” stated Mrs. Jean Carter-Hill, IEi’s Executive Director.  “The explosion in gun violence makes it imperative that we unite to eliminate this scourge upon our community,” she added.  The event will be held at Imagine Englewood if, 730 W. 69th St., Chicago, IL, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Youth, community leaders, pastors, state and local officials, as well as residents are urged to create an Action Plan to combat neighborhood violence. Among those asked to serve on a special panel are  recently appointed 7th District Police Commander Leo P. Schmitz, Mark C. Walsh, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, Father Michael Pfleger, Shango Johnson, Violence Interrupter for CEASEFIRE, Philip Jackson, Executive Director, Black Star Project, Senator Mattie Hunter, Senator Jacqueline Collins, State Representative Esther Golar, State Representative Andre Thapedi, and all six Englewood aldermen (Roderick Sawyer, 6th Ward; Toni Foulkes, 15th Ward; Joann Thompson, 16th Ward; Willie Cochran, 20th Ward; Pat Dowell, 3rd Ward; and LaTasha Thomas, 17th Ward). 
“If you ask them, Englewood children will admit that they are afraid to go to school because they might get shot,” said Mrs. Hill.  “This is an intolerable situation.  The safety of our children must be our number one priority!” she concluded.
For further information, call 773.488.6704 or Mrs. Jean Carter-Hill, 773.320.6894; e-mail:  info@imagineenglewoodif.org; or visit IEi’s website at www.imagineenglewoodif.org.  Refreshments will be served.

State budget cuts to Human Services could cost Illinois nearly 4,000 jobs and deliver a $458.5 million hit to the economy

Posted by Admin On March - 23 - 2012 Comments Off on State budget cuts to Human Services could cost Illinois nearly 4,000 jobs and deliver a $458.5 million hit to the economy


Cuts Constitute Steps Backward on Illinois’s Path to Economic Recovery


Chicago, IL – The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA) and the Social IMPACT Research Center released a new analysis that highlights how large cuts to human services, which provide supports for some of the most vulnerable people in the state, will send shockwaves through the state’s economy. The new research, entitled Ramifications of State Budget Cuts to Human Services: Increases Job Loss, Decreases Economic Activity, Harms Vulnerable Populations, shows these cuts could result in nearly 4,000 lost jobs and a $458.5 million loss to Illinois’s economy.

While budget discussions are just beginning, the three year budget projection issued by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget as part of the new Budgeting for Results process indicates that the human services budget area will receive a significant cut of $350 million dollars from FY2012 to FY2013. This cut continues the pattern of human services taking the brunt of budget cuts. Faced with cuts of this magnitude, human services providers will reduce hours, lay off staff, close facilities, or do all of these things. Not only does this impact thousands of Illinoisans who rely on these programs, but the cuts will have a direct economic consequence on our state.

Since most human services are delivered by private, nonprofit businesses, the vast majority of the economic effects will land on the private sector. When organizations providing human services must cut programs and reduce services, these actions ripple through the economy causing job loss in communities all across Illinois:

•    A budget cut of $350 million to human services could lead to nearly 4,000 jobs lost.
•    A cut of $500 million could lead to over 5,700 jobs lost.

Many of these lost jobs will be in human services. Human services do not exist in a vacuum, however, and many private businesses in Illinois rely on the business of human services organizations and human services workers. These businesses would be directly impacted by a negative ripple effect associated with cuts to the human services budget. Human service organizations and workers will have less income to spend in their local economies, so restaurants, retail outlets, car repair shops, office supply stores, and hosts of other businesses will have fewer customers and see revenue decline, and in this manner job loss would extend well outside of just human services workers.

More broadly, cuts to human services will translate directly into decreased economic activity statewide, and the report shows that could result in a loss of $458.5 million to our economy. The actual negative economic impact of a cut to the human services budget exceeds the actual size of the cut since spending on human services generates $1.31 of economic activity for every $1 spent. In other words, state funding to human services functions as an economic engine and removing it from the economic chain has serious consequences:

•    A $350 million cut to human services pulls $458.5 million out of the Illinois economy.
•    With a cut around $500 million, Illinois’s economy would suffer a $655 million loss.

“By cutting human services funding further in the next budget Illinois is lengthening the time it will take to fully recover from the Great Recession,” said Yerik Kaslow, Director of Education and Social Policy Analysis at the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and co-author of the report. “Since human services are often the most cost-effective approaches to treating and solving social problems, with these cuts we are allowing social problems to become more entrenched and more difficult to address, which sets the stage for more costs to all Illinois taxpayers.”

This is not simply a point-in-time issue—cuts to human services accumulate: the $1.64 billion dollar cumulative underfunding of human services since 2002 likely led to the loss of over 18,000 private sector jobs in Illinois over that same period. As of October 2011, the State had a backlog of bills to human service providers totaling nearly $459 million, which has the effect of withholding over $600 million from the Illinois economy.

 “We’ve heard from our network of human services providers about the terrible consequences state budget cuts have had on the people they serve, leaving so many Illinoisans without the supports they need to achieve safe and stable lives, “said Judith Gethner, Executive Director of Illinois Partners for Human Service. “This new analysis shows the domino effect reaches even further, killing job growth and slowing the recovery, which constitutes short-sighted decision-making.”

Illinois is in the midst of recovering from the worst recession in two generations. Job growth and increased economic activity are of paramount concern, to voters and lawmakers alike. Ramifications of State Budget Cuts to Human Services provides evidence that public spending on human services serves as an economic stimulus for jobs and private spending in the broader Illinois economy. Adequate public spending also has the longer-range benefits of avoiding future social problems and associated costs. In light of this, cuts to human services are short-sighted and detrimental to Illinois’s economy.

Authors Yerik Kaslow and Amy Terpstra will be available for a teleconference press briefing at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 22, 2012. The dial in number is 1-888-296-6500; guest code 541424.

Founded in 2000, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA) is a nonprofit, bi-partisan research and advocacy think tank committed to ensuring that tax, spending and economic policies are fair and just, and promote opportunities for everyone, regardless of economic or social status. CTBA uses a data-focused, bipartisan approach to work in partnership with legislators, community groups, and other organizations to help change both public policy and perceptions. Visit www.ctbaonline.org to learn more.

The Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) is a nonprofit organization that investigates today’s most pressing social issues and solutions to inform and equip those working toward a just global society. IMPACT, a program of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, provides research, policy analysis, consulting, technical assistance, communications, and coalition building to projects in Illinois, the Midwest, and nationally. Visit www.heartlandalliance.org/research to learn more.

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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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