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Archive for May 25th, 2012

Congressman Rush, diverse civil rights coalition move to end predatory prison phone rates

Posted by Admin On May - 25 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS


Seek end to kickback scheme that hurts families


By Chinta Strausberg


Leaders of a diverse civil rights and conservative coalition recently voiced outrage over unfair and predatory prison phone rates that force some families to literally choose between buying food or medicine versus accepting calls from love ones who are incarcerated.

Why? Because some of these prison calls are more expensive to make than phoning Singapore. It is a prison phone system that is fraught with kickbacks where last year some states received an estimated $152 million in contract commissions and kickbacks from companies that won exclusive rights to provide prison phone networks and services.

Saying it’s time for a change, the coalition sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) calling for prison phone rate reform, including calling for an end to predatory phone rates the coalition says is anti-family and anti-inmate rehabilitation.

In a national teleconference with the media representing more than 30 organizations including the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, the American Conservative Union, the National Urban League and the National Organization for Women, leaders called for an end to what some called a “sleeper issue of prison reform.”

Many of these organizations, comprised of leading conservative and centrist voices, are seldom on the same page on most issues; however, the families of inmates are coming together under this coalition to stand united in their fight to communicate affordably with family members who are behind bars and “keep close relationships alive.”

Affordable prison phone rates are said to be rehabilitative and life saving for prisoners.  The coalition has alleged that the cause for much of these inflated rates is tied to state procurement systems and prisons that allegedly get “kick-backs or commissions,” which are then passed along to and absorbed by families of inmates in the form of excessive prison phone rates.

Family members should have the fundamental right and ability remain in contact with each other, and that right should not be influenced or abridged in any way based on where another family member lives in this country – even if that place is a prison,” said Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-1st).

“Because Internet telephone and cheaper calling systems are so prevalent in our country today, there is no sound basis for why families whose calls pass through prison phone networks should have to pay 10 to 20 times more than families whose calls pass through public landline and wireless networks,” Rush stated.

“The FCC has gone all in to fight the ‘digital divide’ but what about the ‘family divide’? One thing for certain is that this coalition of very diverse interests and backgrounds is not is divided,” said Rush.

In an interview later with this writer, Lee Petro, an attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of the Drinker, Biddle & Reath law firm, who represents Martha Wright, discussed the legal and procedural backdrop for this standoff.

Mrs. Wright, whose grandson was incarcerated 20-years ago, filed a class action lawsuit in 2000, along with 19 other family members whose relatives were also in prison opposing high priced prison phone calls and exclusive state contracts for prison phone services.

Petro explained that in the class action suit, the plaintiffs petitioned the D.C.’s District court to eliminate exclusive phone contracts between private prisons and telephone companies.

“In August of 2001, the FCC had asked for the case to be remanded to their agency so it could resolve the matter” being that the agency had jurisdiction over telephone phone rates, explained Petro. The Court referred the matter to the FCC. The FCC did file comments in response to this issue; however, the agency did not immediately back the proper proceedings.

As a result, in 2003 and on behalf of Wright and the 19 families, Petro filed a class action suit and a petition for rulemaking was filed with the FCC seeking a ruling from that agency that the exclusive contract between the private prisons and telephone companies was unreasonable and should be terminated.

Petro explained that the contract contained “provisions that had the telephone companies paying enormous commissions or kick-backs to the prison or to the states that needed to accept these rates between inmates and their families, lawyers and other parties.”

In 2003, after the petition was filed, the FCC opened the proceeding up for public comment; however, Petro said the FCC “failed to act over the next four-years” prompting him to file an alternative petition for rulemaking to the FCC in 2007.

Referring to the alternative proposal, Petro said, “rather than seeking to eliminate the contracts themselves, in the 2007 pleading Mrs. Wright asked the FCC to set a benchmark rate that can be charged to the family members receiving prison phone calls at 20-cents per minute for a pre-paid debit phone card and 25-cents a minute for collect calls, provided that debit calls were not available at that location with no set up costs associated.”

Petro said the FCC placed the alternative proposal on public notice and that comments were filed in the proceeding. “Parties came in, met with the FCC staff over the next five-years and the Commission has yet to issue a ruling on that as well.”

When asked why is the FCC dragging its feet on this issue, Petro said, “Part of the explanation we received is that the staff has been tasked on other matters like the National Broadband plan…and the interests of the inmates and their family members don’t rise to the same level, doesn’t make the same splash that a National broadband plan makes. The staff has been rerouted and re-delegated away from dealing with this issue.”

Petro said there are eight states that have taken steps to eliminate commissions associated with prison phone contracts. ‘What we found in those eight states, the rates have been cut down, and across the board the costs for providing the service have dropped by leaps and bounds” which he attributes to technological developments.”

One of the leading prison phone providers in the nation is Securus Technology, which in some instances has lowered its rates due to technological advancements. However, Petro said, “There is no reason why a 15-minute phone call should be $18 or $20.

Also on the teleconference was Wade Henderson, president/CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who told reporters many prison officials don’t view prisoner phone calls as life-saving rather “they view them as revenue generators…ways to pad their bottom line.” He said his coalition is committed to reforming “this outrageous and predatory practice.”

As Henderson recognized David Keene, former chairman of the American Conservative Union, he said, “David and I diverge on many issues but we are united on the need to address what one might call a sleeper issue of prison reform…predatory prison phone rates.”

It was Henderson who said America has the largest prison population in the world “and it’s disproportionately black and brown,” he said. “We imprison people for years for offenses that in other industrialized countries are measures in days or subject to alternative sentencing and then when individuals leave the system, we often fail to provide opportunities for them to become fully contributing members of society driving them instead to the margins of our communities.”

Backing up Henderson’s claim that the prison population is mostly black and Hispanic,  Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, said for 2010 Blacks make up 38 percent of both the state and federal prison population and Hispanics represent 22 percent for a combined 60 percent.

Those numbers disturb Henderson and his coalition. “Prisons should be institutions of rehabilitation, not just punishment, and there need to be ways to help ex-offenders to become upstanding, productive members of society upon their release,” said Henderson.

Pointing to a coalition member, Pat Nolan, president of Justice Fellowship and a former inmate, Henderson said having affordable phone rates is an encouragement “to maintain stable relationships with their loved ones on the outside so they can receive critical moral support and build a safety net to help them readjust to life after being released.”

Henderson said a call on Mother’s Day or wishing happy birthday to their children he described as “small gestures that keep love and friendships growing that are often the only way for many inmates to keep those close relationships alive.”

The problem, Henderson said, is that some prisons “don’t view these precious ties as rehabilitative or life-saving; instead they view them as revenue generators, ways to pad their bottom line. Prisons extract commissions from telephone companies in exchange for service contracts. These extra fees are passed on to prisoners families in the form of predatory rates for a literally captive audience.”

According to Henderson, phone calls placed in prisons can result in charges ranging from $10 to 17 for a 15-minute call or $250 a month for a weekly one-hour call. “It’s about ten times more expensive to call anyone from a prison than it would be to call Singapore from your office desk.” He said these excessively high phone rates “negatively impact violence in prisons, recidivism and access to counsel” while playing an unfair financial burden on the prisoners families and their loved ones.

“These predatory kickbacks to prisons resulted in $152 million in revenue in 2011, and this must stop,” said Henderson. He said Wright is seeking a cap on these rates. Referring to Wright’s petition to the FCC, Henderson said if the agency approved this petition “would immediately impact long-distance rates and would provide a strong impetus to the 42 states that have not yet acted to remedy their own local prison telephone rates.”

Keene told reporters the high priced prison phone calls “make no sense to cut off or make impossible their communication with their families” and it does nothing to help rehabilitate prisoners or to reintegrate back into society. The $152 million prisons have received as a result of excessive phone rates “comes as a tax directly on the poorest people in our society” making it impossible for communication to take place.

Nolan, a key convener of this diverse coalition and a former inmate, said a key reason for helping transition inmates back into society is to keep families together. These charges “undercut that” by making these “outrageous charges at a time when we pay pennies for phone calls.” He said due to the distance between the families and the location of prisons “the only communication they can have is by telephone…. To have $4.50 as a connection charge and a surcharge for each minute that goes by gouge the very people that can’t afford it….”

Referring to the alleged prison phone rate kickbacks, Nolan said, “It is an inherent conflict of interest to have the state be the one to set the contract with the telephone companies when they are not the ones paying the bill.”

He said the prisons make money by charging the inmate families more. “It’s the commission that determines which phone company they will go with whomever basically pays this extortion of millions of dollars in fees gets the contract, not the company that provides the best service at the lowest price,” said Nolan.  Getting the petition improved by the FCC is the only way to stop the gouging of inmate families.

Amalia Deloney, associate director of the Center for Media Justice, said, “This is a fight for the right to call home.” She said it is not fair that prison phone connections “are treated as an expensive privilege rather than a basic right. We believe that communication is a fundamental human right” especially for the incarcerated.

The alternative of sending letters is problematic, she said. Saying it does not allow adequate communication to a child “that the only way they can stay in contact with their mom and dad is through crayons, paper, letters and cards they are able to write. It does not convey full range of emotional issues that children need to talk about with their parents” or with their partners. Deloney said there is also a literacy problem many inmates have.

Driving her argument closer to home, Deloney said, “It cost more for a child to accept a call from their parent in prison than it does to buy that same child a gallon of milk; yet both are essential to the development of that child.” Besides the high prices, some prisons restrict the time inmates can be on the phone.

Deloney said of the mostly black and Hispanic prison inmates, there are 1.7 million children who have a parent behind bars. Besides the excessive rate, Deloney explained, “Up to 60 percent of what a prisoner’s family is paying for these calls have absolutely nothing to do with the cost of the service provided. This is another example of corporations in particular putting profits ahead of people” who are suffering. People, she said, want change.

Deloney is fighting back having recently collected more than 700 postcard stories in one day who are impacted by the excessive prison phone calls including from attorneys, stories from children and their parents “talking about the choice between paying for their medication vs. the call, the choice between keep the electricity on vs. the call, the choice between putting gas, paying groceries vs. the call.” In addition to the postcards sent, Deloney said thousands responded via Twitter.

“I applaud this coalition of conservative, liberal and civil rights organizations for rallying around this serious issue which strips families of their fundamental right to communicate affordably with one another. They are perfectly justified in asking the FCC why has it taken more than 10 years to resolve these issues,” said Congressman Rush.

The FCC says it is still working to address the disparity in the prison phone system.

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.

Survey finds majority of Black TV viewers dissatisfied with their TV programming options

Posted by Admin On May - 25 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

At a time when a plethora of new channels and programs are targeting the African-American television audience, a newly conducted survey reveals that the overwhelming majority of these viewers are dissatisfied with their current programming options. When asked “are you satisfied with the variety of Black TV programs now on the air?” 97% of the African-Americans who voluntarily participated in the survey said they were not satisfied.


A coalition of consumer groups, media activists, clergy and concerned citizens were brought together by Black Heritage Network and commissioned Target Market News to conduct a national online survey. The questionnaire asked African-American households about their viewing habits and the kind of programming choices they’d like to have.


“The television industry has long been in the habit of asking what African-Americans watched,” said Ken Smikle, president of Target Market News. “This was a rare opportunity for this audience to tell the industry what it is they would prefer to watch. It should be no surprise that their answers are contrary to most of the conventional wisdom about what Black viewers preferences would be.” 

When asked “What types of Black-oriented programs would you like to see more of?” the majority wanted more programming featuring: 

– Documentaries (75%)


– History (71%)


– The Arts (68%)


– Independent Films (65%)


– News (59%)


– Black-oriented Talk Shows (34%)


– Cooking Shows (29%)


– Sports-related Programs (24%)


What’s most significant about these responses is the opportunity that they point to. According to data from Nielsen, African-Americans have traditionally consumed more hours of television than other segments of the population. At the same time, the survey suggests that they may be only marginally enthusiastic about they’re watching. 

“The recent success of ABC’s new political drama, ‘Scandal,’ proves that African-Americans will flock to shows where they can see themselves in positive, yet non-traditional roles,” said Smikle. Blacks are 13% of the TV households in the U.S., but they were 23% of the total audience watching the first three episodes of the new series.  

Nearly half of survey participants (47%) said they watch about equal amounts of network and cable offerings. About a third (32.8%) said they view mostly cable programs, and 19.8% claimed they spent more time watching broadcast network shows. Nearly two-thirds (73%) said they watch public television shows.

“The results clearly reflect a frustration for the kind of Black-oriented programming that has long been ignored by the industry,” said Smikle. “But it also demonstrates an opportunity for broadcasters, cable and satellite, advertisers and producers. The kinds of programs that are desired by these respondent would be of interest to all segments of the viewing audience, not just African-Americans. It will be interesting to see if the new Black-targeted digital and cable channels will be able to take advantage of this strong demand.” 

The survey was conducted online from Feb. 13 – March 31 through the dedicated Web site, WhatIWantToSee.com. The results are based on responses given by 531 self-identified African-Americans from across the U.S. The margin of error is +/- 4%. 

Civil Legal Aid Programs measure their impact; Study shows economic benefits of Civil Legal Aid

Posted by Admin On May - 25 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – The Chicago Bar Foundation and the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation released a report to inform policymakers and other stakeholders about the tangible economic benefits of legal aid. 

The report, Legal Aid in Illinois:  Selected Social and Economic Benefits by the Social IMPACT Research Center, provides a snapshot of the economic return legal aid providers produce for their low-income clients and other Illinoisans.  Using  a selection of approximately 8,000 cases closed in 2010 by just seven of 38 legal aid providers in the state, the researchers found that:

  • Legal aid providers won $49.4 million in monetary awards for low-income clients.  Examples of monetary awards are child support and alimony, public benefits like Social Security and unemployment insurance, and relief from illegal charges by a landlord or payment to a predatory lender.
  • Legal aid providers won $11.9 million in benefits wholly or partially paid for by the federal government.  It is estimated that these awards were associated with $9.3 million in demand for goods and services, $5.4 million in household income, and 172 non-legal-aid jobs.
  • By preventing or obtaining more time in foreclosures or evictions, obtaining, protecting, or increasing rental subsidies, and assisting clients with other housing issues, legal aid providers avoided $1.9 million in costs to homeless shelters.
  • By obtaining protective orders, divorces, child custody, and legal recognition for noncitizens experiencing abuse, legal aid providers avoided $9.4 million in costs of domestic violence to individuals.

Across Illinois, nonprofit legal aid providers offer free or low-cost legal advice, representation and other legal services to low-income disadvantaged Illinoisans who have civil legal problems but cannot afford a lawyer.  These legal aid providers afford access to the justice system for clients facing eviction and foreclosure, domestic violence, termination of vital benefits, and other threats to the health and safety of themselves and their families. 

“As funders, we see that legal aid is a good investment of government and private dollars, said Karen Hasara, president of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation.  “These data affirm the good that legal aid organizations do for their low-income clients as well as the community at large.”

In addition to the economic benefits highlighted in the study, legal aid helps ensure that low-income, disadvantaged people understand their rights; have the assistance needed to fairly and efficiently resolve their legal problems; and feel they are treated fairly and equally under the laws that govern their particular situations.

 Funding for the study was provided by The Chicago Bar Foundation, the Illinois Bar Foundation, the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, the Polk Bros. Foundation and the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation.

Legal Aid in Illinois:  Selected Social and Economic Benefits can be found at the following sites:  http://www.heartlandalliance.org/research/projects-publications/legal-aid-in-illinois.html;  www.chicagobarfoundation.org; www.equaljusticeillinois.org; and www.iejf.org.

Illinois Senate Democrats pass balanced budget

Posted by Admin On May - 25 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL –  The Illinois Senate passed a balanced budget for the next fiscal year that spends $255 million less than last year’s, fully funds the state’s pension obligations, and sets aside $1.3 billion to pay old bills. While making across-the-board cuts to most agency budgets, it avoids reductions to K-12 education, MAP grants, and other priorities. The budget uses extra money from special funds to pay vendors like childcare providers and nursing homes. The budget stays within caps established earlier this year based on the state’s expected revenue.  Read more at www.IllinoisSenateDemocrats.com.

Sen. Heather Steans (D – Chicago):

“This is an extremely challenging year for budget-making. The budget we just passed achieves the best possible balance of cuts, efficiencies, core priorities, and targeted spending on programs that work. We have to make good on our commitments to vulnerable populations, families hurt by the economic downturn, and our children who need a quality education now more than ever. At the same time, no state function is sustainable without a disciplined approach to debt and unfunded liabilities. This budget sets us well on our way to restoring Illinois to fiscal health.”

Sen. Dan Kotowski (D – Park Ridge):

“Our balanced budget plan makes real cuts, pays our unpaid bills, and funds key priorities – like education and job creation,” Senator Kotowksi said, who serves as chairman of a key Senate budget committee. “The most important thing we can do for businesses right now is to pass a balanced budget. They want certainty, and that’s exactly what this budget plan gives them.”

Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park):

“This is a realistic budget that accepts that we don’t have as much money as we would like to fund all of Illinois’ important priorities.  It prevents us from falling deeper into debt, allows us to pay off some of our past-due bills, makes painful but responsible spending cuts, and allows us to invest in important priorities like education.”

Sen. Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood):

“This budget is frankly the best of a lot of bad options.  It shortchanges education by more than $300 million.  In fact, we’re spending less on our children’s schools than we did in 2008.  I intend to keep fighting for more school funding, but to prevent even deeper cuts, I’m reluctantly supporting this plan.”

Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D – Evanston):

“This budget maintains core priorities like access to quality healthcare and education while paying $1.3 billion in old bills and meeting our entire pension obligation of $5.1 billion for the coming year. It strikes the right balance of fiscal responsibility and preservation of vital services that protect vulnerable populations and help keep our economy growing. This budget passed today spends $255 million less than last year’s as we continue moving toward strengthening the state’s financial health.”

Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago):

“Last year, we took steps in the right direction with the budget.  This year we’re continuing to build on that.  We were able to minimize cuts to education and higher education, two priorities not just in Chicago and the suburbs, but across the state.”

Sen. Ira Silverstein (D – Chicago):

“This budget proves that we are serious about bringing our fiscal responsibilities into order. Our operating budget is smaller than last year, our obligations will be paid, and our spending is lower than Governor Quinn’s proposal. While I am not happy to see cuts made to education, human services and other areas, this budget is the responsible solution.”

Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago):

“I am concerned about the cuts to human services and corrections, but this budget proposal seems to be the best opportunity to prevent deeper and more harmful cuts to these programs. Unfortunately, the poor and underserved will still suffer as a result of this budget proposal. When additional monies become available in the next year, I will continue to campaign for that funding to go towards the human services programs necessary to the well being of our state.”

Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D – Chicago): 

“I’m glad to see increased funding in this budget for programs that serve the needs of youth in our communities – notably the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, Teen Reach, and the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. These programs help ensure kids have a safe, secure and productive summer. The budget passed today also protects early childhood education, funds indigent burials and increases support for home health care. It is by no means an ideal budget, and real people will be affected by its cuts. At the end of the day, we need to direct dollars to our most vulnerable populations and our most critical priorities, and this budget is an effort to do that.”

Sen. Linda Holmes (D – Plainfield):

“Although this wasn’t an ideal budget, it puts us on a path toward fiscal certainty in our state. It spends less, pays down our backlog of bills, does the best it can to protect our most vital services, like education. Our plan makes some tough, albeit necessary, cuts to state programs while not taking any funds away from local government. It is a responsible plan that balances the state budget in a fair way.”

Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Joliet):

“The budget adopted today by the Illinois Senate is attuned to our fiscal reality and people’s needs. It’s based on shared sacrifice, such as pay cuts for legislators and high-priced state officials. It pays down over a billion dollar in overdue bills. It’s honest.”

Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights):

 “Although this was not an ideal plan, I supported it with the mindset that we will continue to negotiate with the House until a final budget agreement is reached. The passage of this plan sends a message to the other chamber what our core priorities are here in the Senate.  Our plan is the best of a bad situation, and it provides more than the House’s alternative – even though it still lacks funding in some areas. I won’t stop negotiating until I feel comfortable that the budget does not place an unfair burden on the people who rely on our state’s most vital services, like education and human services.”

Sen. Ed Maloney (D-Chicago):

“It’s a budget that I am not completely happy with, but I’m happy that the cuts weren’t deeper, especially to education and higher education.  Given the diversity of our caucus, I believe it is a proposal that addresses the priorities of every member. This is a budget that will keep our spending in check and pay our bills, so it is a responsible budget proposal.”

Street to be named in honor of Soft Sheen’s Ed and Betty Gardner

Posted by Admin On May - 25 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS


Black on Black Love and City of Chicago collaborating to salute legendary couple


CHICAGO, IL – Black on Black Love and the City of Chicago will salute Ed and Betty Gardner’s long legacy of excellence by naming a street in their honor during a ceremony to be held on July 12 from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.  The street bearing their names will be at the intersection of 87St. & Dobson St., near the site of where their business Soft Sheen Products was based and thrived.  The theme of the tribute is “Celebrating the Gardner Legacy”.

The celebration is expected to attract a wide spectrum of dignitaries from the City, the beauty industry, the business sector and from the political and grassroots communities, which have all been touched by the Gardners’ generous and loving spirit.

The public is invited to pay tribute to these icons by coming out to celebrate this couple, who will be joined by their family and friends.

In making the announcement, Frances Wright, Black on Black Love’s president and CEO, said the Gardners have touched the city through their business genius, which propelled Soft Sheen from a garage-based business to a global empire that provided superior health and beauty products to consumers worldwide. 

Wright said the Gardners’ business savvy was matched only by their commitment to bettering the community through their activism and compassion.  It was Mr. and Mrs. Gardner who spearheaded the crusade to get Harold Washington elected Chicago’s first black mayor through an energetic and inspiring campaign titled, “Come Alive Oct. 5!”  This campaign was a success and the Gardners were credited and hailed for the active role they played in this victory.

She added that the couple founded the Black on Black Love organization nearly 30 years ago as a way of grappling with the senseless black on black crime and violence that continues to plague the inner city.  Black on Black Love creates and implements programs designed to break the cycle of crime in our communities through alternatives that nurture self-love, self-respect and self-discipline.

Among the programs under the Black on Black Love banner are:

My Sister’s Keeper’s, one of the first complete aftercare programs in the state of Illinois to help women, who have been released from the correctional system, lead productive lives.

The Godfather Male Mentoring Program a program, which is designed to further the mission of Black on Black Love by providing a positive male presence for elementary and high school boys, through voluntary participation of male role models focusing on education, leadership and responsibility.

Ex-Offenders Services, which provides a broad spectrum of services for male and female ex-offenders including recovery, counseling, literacy/education, life skills-community reintegration, anger management and job training/emloyment opportunities.

The Cook County Jail Motivational program whose purpose is to expose detainees to the concept of BOBL and to encourage detainees to leave jail/prison feeling good about themselves and aspiring to a better way of life. 

Catapult is a program sponsored by an Illinois Violence Prevention Authority Grant and a Family-Based Mentoring Initiative whose purpose is to End Intergenerational Incarceration. The program offers 50 children, ages 9 to 18 and their mothers a comprehensive mentoring program.

Black on Black Love also serves the needs of the community on an ongoing basis through its Annual Prayer Breakfast, Annual Thanksgiving Food Give-A-Way and Christmas Toy Drive.

Declared Wright, “Inspired by the Gardners’ example of passion and activism, the City and the world are better places.  On July 12th, we will pay homage to these treasures by dedicating a street in their honored. We invite the community to come out in full force to show their love to this dedicated couple.”

For more information, contact Black on Black Love at 773-978-0868 or log on to www.bobl.org.



Beyond Sport announces top-line speakers for Beyond Sport Summit 2012

Posted by Admin On May - 25 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Beyond Sport has revealed a group of leading figures from the worlds of sport, business, politics and beyond set to speak at this year’s Beyond Sport Summit, to be staged in London from 23rd – 25th July 2012.

The Rt Hon Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister and Chairman of the Beyond Sport Ambassadors; Bob Diamond, the Chief Executive of Barclays; Jamie Oliver, the world-renowned chef and campaigner; and Lord Paddy Ashdown, the President of Unicef UK, will all speak at the event, exploring a range of issues around sport’s role as a tool for social change.

They will join sporting legends including Olympic gold medallists and Beyond Sport Ambassadors Michael Johnson and Bob Beamon; Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, the most successful Paralympian of all time; and John Amaechi OBE, the NBA legend and political activist.

A host of other key speakers from the different sectors brought together by Beyond Sport will join them as they interact with the 750 people gathered for the Beyond Sport Summit across a range of panels, keynote addresses, break-out sessions and workshops.

The Beyond Sport Summit will also see the winners of the Beyond Sport Awards 2012 announced. 30 projects have been shortlisted, reaching nearly 40 countries and over 20 different sports. They were chosen from 322 entries that submitted applications to this year’s Awards. The Beyond Sport Award winners will receive a substantial package of business support to help them grow and become sustainable in the future.

Throughout the week, the Beyond Sport Summit will use a combination of networking opportunities, insightful panels, and action-led working sessions to bring together those who use sport as a vehicle to create social impact with influential figures from the worlds of business, government and federations, whose attitudes and decisions can have substantial impact in the field.

Beyond Sport is a global initiative that seeks to celebrate and support any organisation or individual with the goal to drive positive social change through sport. It is partnered with Barclays Spaces for Sports, TIME and UNICEF.

For more information on Beyond Sport, the Beyond Sport Summit and the Beyond Sport Awards visit www.beyondsport.org.

The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation honors exceptional men serving the community at 2012 Spirit of Democracy Awards Gala

Posted by Admin On May - 25 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, DC – The powerful and positive visual of over 200 strong black men standing to represent as mentors, community organizers and leaders will be deeply embedded into the mind of nearly 300 people who attended The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s (The National Coalition) 15th annual Spirit of Democracy Awards Gala in Washington, DC last week.


As the night was dedicated to “Celebrating Our Brothers,” six phenomenal men doing constructive work to empower the African American community were honored. There was also a special Servant Leadership and Community Service Award established in memory of the former manager of the annual Spirit Awards, Ruby Campbell Pulliam.


“It was important to take a moment to lift up and celebrate what the brothers are doing in our communities across the country,” said president and CEO of The National Coalition, Melanie L. Campbell. “The men who dedicate their lives to mentoring, social justice, training and creating opportunities for our youth – especially those running black male initiatives – are truly the fabric of our community.”


 In accepting the Visionary Leadership and Community Empowerment Award, Shawn Dove, campaign manager for Open Society Foundations Campaign for Black Male Achievement, said, “There is no lone ranger coming into our community to save the day. The iconic leaders that we are waiting for are right here already.” Dove continued, “The answers lie in the hands, the hearts, and the heads of young black men that are in our community everyday. We’ve got to applaud them, we’ve got to lift them up and we have to support them.”


In addition to Dove, the 2012 Spirit of Democracy Award recipients are: 


  • Jonathan McDaniel, actor, recording artist and technology advocate, received the Black Youth Vote Civic Leadership Award.  
  • David Honig, founder and president Alliances, Minority Media & Telecommunications Councilreceived theTechnology and Economic Empowerment Award. 
  • Joshua DuBois, executive director, The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships received the Public Service and Community Empowerment Award.  
  • Gerald Hudson, executive vice president, Service Employees International Union, received the Community Empowerment and Labor Leadership Award. 
  • Al Dotson, chairman of the board, 100 Black Men of America, Inc, received the Community Empowerment and Mentoring Organization of the Year Award. 

 Actress and producer Vivica A. Fox (Set It Off, Kill Bill) hosted the gala. Demetria McKinney, recording artist and star of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, skillfully performed her newest song “Take Away” and blew the audience away with her rendition of Whitney Houston’s, “You Give Good Love.” The People’s Community Baptist Church Men’s Choir also performed. The event was broadcast live on the Internet and can be viewed at: www.ncbcp.org.


“We rolled out the red carpet for the stars of our community,” said Richard G. Womack,Sr, chairman of the Board of Directors of The National Coalition. “We had good food, stellar performances by the choir and Demetria McKinney, Vivica Fox was a gracious host, and the room was packed wall-to-wall with role models for the many young people in attendance. It was a wonderful celebration of the brothers and their work.


The Spirit of Democracy Awards are presented to individuals and organizations who have demonstrated a consistent commitment to creating balance in the democratic process and support The National Coalition’s mission and vision of making civic participation a cultural responsibility and tradition. Sponsors include AT&T, Verizon, AMGEN, AFL-CIO, SEIU, Knight Foundation, and Dewey Square Group, among others. For more information on The National Coalition visit www.ncbcp.org.



Founded in 1976, the NCBCP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing African American participation in civil society. The current programs and initiatives of the organization include Black Youth Vote!, Black Women’s Roundtable, a Black Men & Boys Initiative and the Unity 2012 Voter Empowerment Campaign. The National Coalition has trained and engaged African American leaders and community activists in overcoming institutional barriers that have hindered the growth of Black communities politically, socially and economically.



State Senator Collins stands against Medicaid cuts that punish low-income seniors

Posted by Admin On May - 25 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Reform bill undermines movement for RN staffing standards in nursing homes


SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) issued the following statement in response to the Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 2840 – Medicaid reform legislation containing program eliminations and reductions, provider rate cuts, procedures for removing ineligible individuals and families from medical assistance, and other cost-cutting measures:

“I am disappointed that the General Assembly has passed a package of Medicaid cuts that asks the sickest, poorest and most vulnerable among us to sacrifice disproportionately. From the deep reductions this legislation makes in critical services like prescriptions for seniors and adult dental care, it appears as though the burden of the reforms is being carried on the backs of ‘the least of these.’

For too long, Illinois nursing home residents and families have struggled with weak regulation that has allowed for substandard care, neglect and abuse. Over the past several years, I’ve worked with advocates and my fellow legislators to guarantee quality care for all nursing home residents, regardless of race, geography or income. Unfortunately, by setting the minimum RN staffing time at 10 percent instead of 15 percent, the measure passed today will in fact perpetuate the unjust disparities between black and brown nursing homes and majority-white facilities. Illinois still ranks number one in the most poorly-rated black nursing homes in the nation. This legislation represents a devastating step backwards for the nursing home reform movement.

I maintain there can be no true nursing home reform without addressing the registered nurse staffing disparity, and there can be no true Medicaid reform where this racial gap is exacerbated and vulnerable Illinoisans are punished for a fiscal situation not of their making.”

SB 2840 has also passed the House and requires only the governor’s signature to become law.

State Senator Hunter outraged by Senate passage of Medicaid bill

Posted by Admin On May - 25 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Senate voted to change Medicaid eligibility in Illinois in an effort to bring down spending and the deficit.  State Senator Mattie Hunter joined several of her colleagues in voting against the measure because the bill changes the eligibility standards for Medicaid in Illinois.

“Legislators are out there saying this is Medicaid reform, but this is not reform,” Hunter said. “Reform does not mean balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and the vulnerable. This bill kicks almost 300,000 people off of Medicaid. These people are just the top tier of the poor, and they are not able to afford the services they need on their own. This is a disgrace for our state, and it is criminal.”

Almost 2.7 million people in Illinois, or about 21% of the state’s population, currently rely on Medicaid. More than 60% of those are children, about 9% are adults with developmental disabilities, and just over 6% are seniors that primarily receive help paying for nursing home care. To be eligible for Medicaid, a person must have a low income and be a child (or child’s caregiver), pregnant, elderly, or disabled.

“We keep taking and taking from the people who depend on these services,” Hunter continued. “Now we are eliminating a program helping seniors with prescriptions, taking away dental care, and other programs.  This bill is not the right solution.”

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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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