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Archive for June 22nd, 2012

End of an Era: Gov. Quinn Confirms Tamms Closure

Posted by Admin On June - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Governor’s decision applauded as principled and pragmatic

CHICAGO, IL – Governor Pat Quinn’s office confirmed that he will be closing the notorious prison in Southern Illinois, Tamms supermax. His spokesperson Kelly Kraft cited the exorbitant cost of the facility where men have been held for years – often more than a decade – in solitary confinement. But human rights concerns too must have motivated the governor’s decision. The prison has been condemned by statewide, national, and international human rights monitors.

Members of Tamms Year Ten, the coalition that launched a legislative campaign to bring the issue of solitary confinement to the attention of the governor and legislature, were elated. Attorney Jean Maclean Snyder said, “Congratulations to Gov. Quinn for making this courageous decision. For once, a needed budget cut makes moral sense.” Organizer Laurie Jo Reynolds said, “For 14 years, we have paid exorbitant costs for a prison that drives people to compulsively attempt suicide and causes lasting mental damage. By closing it, the governor is both taking responsibility for solving our budget crisis and showing himself to be a champion of human rights.”

Quinn’s announcement adds Illinois to a growing list of states, most recently Mississippi and Maine, that have ended or drastically curtailed the use of long-term solitary confinement in favor of increased mental health treatment and rehabilitative programming. Those states saved millions and saw prison violence plummet.

The governor also rejected a last-minute proposal to turn the prison into a medium-security facility. It was a final effort by downstate legislators to preserve funding for Tamms in the budget — made because so many other House and Senate members supported Quinn’s plan to shutter the supermax. The idea was to spend $8 to $16 million to “repurpose” Tamms supermax so it was suitable for humane confinement.

The proposal was never endorsed by the governor’s office, which held firm that the state needed the $26 million for other essential needs within IDOC. With the prison population at last beginning to decline, it is likely that administrators simply did not want to be saddled with an unnecessary new facility. The Illinois prison census spiked with the termination of Meritorious Good Time in 2010, but diminished by 1000 in the past year. All national trend lines point downward, and further declines in the Illinois prison population are a near certainty.

Before the announcement, mental health and prison reform advocates wrote a letter urging Quinn to reject the conversion plan and close Tamms outright. They called this decision a “test of priorities” and opposed dumping millions of dollars into prison-building. The governor was urged to reduce the prison population through cost-effective means — court diversion, parole reform, earned sentence credits and programs that lower recidivism. The authors also argued that the plan was unrealistic because Tamms was designed to inhibit prisoner movement and impose sensory deprivation and isolation. Tamms has no communal spaces and would require a yard, library, cafeteria, classroom and contact visitation in order to function as a regular prison.

Tamms has been controversial since before it was built. Warnings about constitutional and humanitarian concerns were highlighted in Governor Edgar’s 1993 Task Force report and have been borne out since its opening in 1998. In fact, Juan E. Mendez, the Special Rapporteur on Torture for the United Nations recently disclosed that staff in Geneva, Switzerland may investigate the Illinois supermax to see if it meets the international definition of torture.

Men at Tamms are held in indefinite isolation 24 hours per day. They can only leave the cell to shower or for an hour of solitary exercise in a small, concrete yard. Cell doors are made of solid steel, perforated with small holes, making communication difficult if not impossible. The cells are designed so that each faces a bare concrete wall, and all meals are delivered through a hole in the door. Many men at Tamms suffer from serious mental illnesses, some induced from the physical environment of the supermax. Self-mutilation, smearing of feces and compulsive suicide attempts are an expected consequence of long-term isolation and are common at Tamms. Many have been in the relatively small 180-prisoner lockup for more than a decade, some since the prison opened in 1998.

Although the prison was designed to house men who are violent or disruptive, a 2009 expose by the Belleville News Democrat indicated that most of the men at Tamms had not been charged with a crime in a regular prison, and at least half of those who did had thrown feces or urine, often signs of untreated mental illness. In general, people with mental illness are far more likely to end up in segregation and isolation because they can’t manage their behavior in the stress of a prison setting.

Tragically, many of these same men — damaged almost beyond repair by years of isolation — complete their sentences at Tamms and are then released to Illinois towns and cities without treatment or counseling. At a hastily called news conference Wednesday, State Senator Gary Forby, standing beside Representatives Brandon Phelps and Mike Bost, fulminated that “they ought to just release the men at Tamms to the streets of Chicago” to teach Quinn a lesson. The Tamms Year Ten Facebook page posted a response: “But that is already what happens. They are mentally damaged at Tamms and then released to Chicago neighborhoods without any treatment or support to cope with years of isolation. That’s why we want to close Tamms.”

News of the closure reached family members Tuesday. Some have waited 14 years for the end of this long nightmare. Rose Sifuentes, whose son has been in Tamms for 7 years, was grateful:  “I am indebted to Governor Quinn. No human being should ever have to endure this type of punishment. Our state has crossed the line by imposing it. I thank you and all of the people I have met in this great crusade that have helped make this happen.” Brenda Smith, who son has been in Tamms for 12 years and started self-mutilating while at Tamms, urged the governor to be resolute, “Governor Quinn I thank my heavenly father for this news, and I pray this is all true, the men do not need to lifted up to heaven and then brought back down to hell.”

Laurie Jo Reynolds said, “From the day it opened, Tamms was a financial boondoggle and a human rights catastrophe. Illinois fell for a foolish national trend and built an isolation chamber, even though the practice of solitary confinement had been shunned for a hundred years. It’s time to stop throwing good money after bad.”

The news came in the wake of Congressional hearings held Tuesday, led by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights to discuss the human rights, fiscal and public safety consequences of solitary confinement. The practice of isolation was condemned by experts on the panel. The commissioner of the Mississippi prison system testified that closing their their supermax had been beneficial to the prison system. Tamms came up several times during the hearing.

Congressman Jackson introduces legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $10 per hour

Posted by Admin On June - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Fighting for Hard Working, American Workers


(Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s statement on increasing the federal minimum wage)


Many Americans work long hours, weeks on end, yet continue to struggle to provide for themselves and their families. In a nation of unmatched wealth, it’s disheartening that hard-working American men and women can work full-time jobs and still receive a wage that qualifies them as “below poverty.” Our minimum wage workers deserve the same attention and the same support the government has given to banks and the auto industry. After bailing out both, it’s time for Congress to fight to provide a fair, commensurate wage to American workers.

This month, I introduced legislation that will raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 per hour. H.R. 5901, the “Catching Up To 1968 Act”, will significantly improve the lives of over 30 million hard-working Americans.

At the current federal minimum wage, a full-time employee working 40 hours per week and 52 weeks per year, earns $15,080 annually. This is far below the 2010 average income of $40,584 for American workers and significantly below the 2011 United States poverty line for a family unit of three set at $18,530. My legislation would increase the amount full time, minimum wage workers make to $20,800 annually.

H.R. 5901 will:

  • Ensure hard-working, American workers are able to make ends meet;
  • Increase consumer purchasing power, increasing demand for business commodities;
  • And bring the minimum wage closer to 1968 levels when adjusted for inflation.

It’s been five years since Congress last acted to raise the minimum wage and an additional increase is long overdue. The 2007 increase was not only a significant step toward ensuring fair wages; it created an additional $1.6 billion per year in wages, significantly increasing consumer demand and posed no threat to American businesses. According to economists, another increase would have the same positive effect.

Comptroller Topinka: State ‘Long Way’ from cleaning-up mess

Posted by Admin On June - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS


Comptroller highlights $43.8 billion deficit


SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka on Thursday released the following statement regarding her office’s State of Illinois Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The report details the financial condition of the State at the end of the last fiscal year on June 30, 2011:

“Our latest financial report shows that Illinois’ deficit has doubled in the last five years to more than $43 billion. It provides yet another cautionary note that we need to rein in spending and address the growing costs that are devouring the state budget. Positive steps were taken this year toward getting our financial house in order, but we clearly still have a long way to go to fully clean up this colossal mess.”

Seb Coe honored with award in recognition of Olympic Legacy

Posted by Admin On June - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

LONDON – At a reception in London, Seb Coe, the London 2012 Organising Committee Chair, received Beyond Sport’s Leadership in Sport Award, supported by P&G, on behalf of International Inspiration, the official international sports legacy programme of London 2012.

Coe and Sir Keith Mills, the Chair of the II Foundation, were presented with the first Beyond Sport Award of 2012 at the Beyond Sport London Reception, held just one month before the Beyond Sport Summit & Awards are staged in London in the week of the Olympic Games opening ceremony. They collected the Award as recognition of International Inspiration’s global impact over the last seven years, in which it has achieved its Olympic legacy goals across 20 countries.

International Inspiration, a unique partnership between the British Council, UK Sport and UNICEF, has worked with an astonishing 12 million children to fulfil the promise made by Coe and the London 2012 bid team in Singapore in 2005, when the two-time Olympic gold medallist vowed that the London 2012 Games would “reach young people all around the world and connect them to the inspirational power of the Games so they are inspired to choose sport, improving their lives as a result.”

Nick Keller, the Founder of Beyond Sport, commented: “There will be many positive outcomes from London 2012, but none more so than the 12 million children reached through International Inspiration. Seb and his colleagues have more than delivered on that memorable promise made in Singapore. As with all great acts of Leadership they have set new parameters. The expectation on the hosts of large-scale sport events has shifted and social legacy is no longer limited to the host city or even host country.”

Seb Coe, the London 2012 Organising Committee Chair, said: “International Inspiration’s work has been a key part of London 2012’s vision to inspire young people around the world, and I am delighted to accept this Award from Beyond Sport on behalf of everyone who has contributed to its success. To have made a difference in the lives of over 12 million children around the world before London 2012 even gets underway is testament to the incredible power of sport.”

After receiving the Leadership in Sport Award, Coe also took the time to present the P&G UK Impact Award in association with the Daily Telegraph, launched to recognise the UK’s most innovative and successful sport for change projects in the year that the Beyond Sport Summit returns to British shores.

Coe presented the Award to Street League, a charity which uses football to help disadvantaged members of society into work, education or training. Two other projects were highly commended by the judging panel: Extra Time, run by the Football Foundation, which engages more than 3,000 elderly men and women in physical activity to help improve emotional wellbeing and reduce social isolation; and Everton in the Community’s Tackling Inequality, Empowering Ability programme, which addresses mental health issues on Merseyside. All three projects will receive a support package from Beyond Sport to enable them to further develop their activities.

Nathan Homer, Sports Marketing & Olympics Project Director at Procter & Gamble (P&G), concluded: “We are delighted to support both of these Awards, which celebrate the impact of London 2012 and the Olympic movement both within the UK and abroad. P&G are proud of our place in the Olympic movement and welcome this chance to pay tribute to the inspirational leadership that Seb Coe and his team have provided around the world, and to recognise the outstanding projects on the ground in the UK.”

The Famed Lira Singers of the Lira Ensemble will perform benefit concert of Marian Hymns, July 1st

Posted by Admin On June - 22 - 2012 1 COMMENT
The famed Lira Singers of the Lira Ensemble will perform a benefit concert of Marian Hymns on Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 3:30pm at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church/the Sanctuary of The Divine Mercy, 1327 N. Noble St. in Chicago.
The concert celebrates the 135th Anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the current church building.  The Polish community of Chicago founded historic St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in 1867 to serve their spiritual needs.
By the turn of the 20th Century, the church was the largest Catholic parish in the United States, serving 8,000 parishioners.  The church continues to serve a Catholic community of many races and nationalities in the heart of Chicago.
St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is currently undergoing an essential repair and restoration of the interior costing $4.4 million.
The famed Lira Singers of the Lira Ensemble, founded in 1965, specialize in Polish music and have as their mission “to bring the best of Polish culture into American life.”  Lira Ensemble is recognized for outreach concerts with other American ethnic groups.  Lucyna Migala, artistic director, general manager, and co-founder of the Lira Ensemble, received the Sor Juana Award of the National Museum of Mexican Art for outreach efforts.
Tickets to the event are $25.00.  Ticket requests can be made to Restore St. Stans, St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, 1351 W. Evergreen Ave, Chicago, IL 60642.  You can also e-mail the restoration office at restoreststans@yahoo.com or call 773-278-2470.

Illinois GOP: Democrat Candidate Brad Schneider supports raising taxes by $2.5 billion in Illinois’ 10th District

Posted by Admin On June - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

 (From the Illinois GOP)


CHICAGO, IL  – Democrat Brad Schneider running in Illinois’ 10th Congressional District, supports raising taxes $2.5 billion in his district alone with the elimination of the 2001 & 2003 and payroll tax cuts at the end of this year. 

This week, the Heritage Foundation released statistics on the additional burden the expiration of the current tax cuts would have on Illinois.  According to the group’s calculations, beginning Jan. 1, 2013 the 10th District’s taxes would more than double for families, totaling more than $7,605 per return.

Illinois Democrats have a strong history of creating hostile tax environments for businesses and workers, the latest being a 67 percent increase in the personal income tax rate and a 46 percent increase in taxes on businesses.  These increased taxes have encouraged other states including Wisconsin, Indiana and New Jersey to recruit businesses and employees out of the state in high numbers.   

“Now is not the time to be adding to the financial saddle already weighing down local families and businesses,” said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady.  “Brad Schneider foolishly believes triggering the largest tax increase in history is a good idea for not only the residents of the 10th District, but for all Americans.  We don’t need Springfield policies in Washington, and that’s what Brad is purposing we do.”

“The fact is uncertainty due to this added taxation has inhibited businesses from hiring, which has restricted families for being able to plan for their futures effectively, and flawed policy stances held by candidates like Brad Schneider are exactly why we need fiscally responsible leaders in office,” added Brady.

Where Schneider Stands on Taxation:

  • Schneider believes in ending the 2001 & 2003 tax cuts.  (source: schneiderforcongress.com)
  • Schneider believes in the philosophy of wealth redistribution and his answer to improving the tax code is to create a “progressive tax” system rather than broad-based personal and corporate tax reforms that reduce the burdens on the few and ensure all Americans have a stake in the country.  (source: Glencoe News)

Simon: Keep student loan rates low

Posted by Admin On June - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Aurora students focus on affordability, job prospects


AURORA, IL  – Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said she supported keeping student loan rates affordable during a round table Friday with adult education and ESL students at Waubonsee Community College’s new downtown Aurora campus.

 Simon urged Congress to vote soon on a plan to keep interest rates from doubling July 1. The hike on federal subsidized loans to undergraduates would cost the average Illinois student more than $1,000.

“College isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity that all of us should be able to afford,” Simon said.  “Congress needs to take steps to keep rates down. The General Assembly needs to fund state education grants. And students need to do the hard work it takes to complete college and enter the workforce here in Illinois.”

Simon serves as the Governor’s point person on education reform. In her first year in office, she conducted a Complete College Tour of the state’s 48 community colleges to promote college completion. She has advocated for strengthening the state’s Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants so more low-income students can access higher education. And a bill she crafted to reduce remedial math needs at colleges and universities awaits the Governor’s signature.

 Simon visited Waubonsee’s downtown Aurora campus in recognition of its first anniversary. Unlike the former campus on Stolp Island, the River Street campus enables students to complete certificates and degrees at the single downtown location.

As part of her tour Friday, Simon learned about a “bridge” program that allows students to earn a GED while also taking a health information technology prep course.  This course improves writing proficiency and introduces students to health terminology and the health information technology career. She also learned about Waubonsee’s unique Health Care Interpreting and Legal Interpreting programs that prepare bilingual students for interpreting careers.

“Health care jobs are in-demand in our state, and we need to make every effort to help students graduate on time, in less debt and with a credential that connects to these good-paying jobs,” Simon said.

Father Michael L. Pfleger prays for all fatherless children

Posted by Admin On June - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Dr. O’Neill thanks God for saving 4-year-old daughter’s life


By Chinta Strausberg


Father Michael L. Pfleger prayed for all fatherless children on Father’s Day telling them they have the love and attention of many father’s including an entire family structure at Saint Sabina so they will never be alone.


To highlight Father’s Day 2012, Dr. Walter J.H. O’Neill, a member of Saint Sabina for the past 14-years, revealed how God kept him out of prison, ultimately led him to Saint Sabina where he met his wife and how God healed his 4-year-old daughter diagnosed with stage four cancer.


So as to leave no one behind on Father’s Day,  Pfleger asked for all fatherless children to stand in the middle aisle. He and the entire church prayed for the children and let them know they all have surrogate mothers and fathers, an entire family structure there at Saint Sabina.


When a family member of 17-year-old Ondelee Perteet pushed his wheelchair towards the center aisle, Pfleger hugged the teen and again reminded him that despite what doctors say one day he will walk. Perteet was shot at a party in September of 2009 at the age of 14. He was paralyzed. He is a member of Saint Sabina and often speaks out against gun violence.


Earlier, in introducing the guest speaker, O’Neill, who plays the Congo drums, Pfleger called him a “mighty man of faith” who is “bold in what he believes and is unashamed of it…and he is uncompromising for what he stands for” and a man he calls his “soul brother.” “He has been a gift to me,” said Pfleger thanking McNeill for sharing his musical gift with the church. Pfleger said McNeill no longer accepts pay for playing for the church. It is his way of giving back.


McNeil keynoted the 11:15 a.m. Saint Sabina Father’s Day worship services where he laid out his entire life including the good, bad, the ugly and the blessings he has received especially after he met and married his wife, Selisa O’Neill, in 1999 who bore him four beautiful children including twins.


O’Neill, who has a Ph.D. in educational leadership from and works at Roosevelt University, lifted up his family as the most important part of his life outside of God.


As he spoke, his wife, Mrs. O’Neill, a quiet and sedate woman, clung to the hands of their children blowing kisses at her husband who stood nervously at the podium giving praises to his family. Looking on with pride were his children, John Paul, 12, Jeremiah, 9, Jessica, 7, who once battled cancer and won and Jada, 7.“I’m simply a son who became a father who is learning how to become a better son,” O’Neil said repeatedly.


Mr. O’Neil said his daughter, Jessica, is currently cancer-free but is still being monitored. She was four-years old when she was first diagnosed with stage four cancer. “It was unbelievably insane…,” he said after learning about his daughter’s diagnoses.


He also reflected on those who have spoken at Saint Sabina including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Martin Luther King, III, Dexter King; Harry Belafonte, Dr. Cornel West, Mayor Harold Washington, Joseph Cardinal Joseph Bernadin, Rev. C.T. Vivian, Rev. Clay Evans and many others. O’Neil said he is standing on their shoulders.


“We all have men in our lives who provide us with the framework, a living example of what a father is and how a father should behave,” he said. “In addition to our forefathers of faith who stand as templates or role models of fatherhood, on this father’s day, I also think of the sons and father’s who have become victims of this senseless war that is destroying our country.”


Saying he is not referring to the Iraqi, Afghanistan or this countries lesser wars, O’Neil was referring to the gun violence that continues to take the lives of so many people including children almost on a daily basis.


“The war I’m referring to is the senseless war being fought on the streets right here in Chicago where the victims are so numerous and so often very conveniently forgotten because to remember or honor them cause us to be honest about our faults, about our shortcomings, about our isms, about our selfishness.


“I think today about the unsung heroes, the men who have stood strong…those men who had to bury their sons…men such as Trayvon Martin, father of slain Trayvon Martin, our own Ronald Holt, father of slain Blair Holt and literally thousands every year who have to stand strong in the midst of suffering great loss from this senseless…” violence.


O’Neill spoke of fatherless children and how studies suggest, “a child’s fate is almost sealed and doomed if she or she grows up without a father, without a dad. We’ve heard of data that suggests that almost 60 percent of the children born in the inner city today are born without a father or dad present in their lives. We agree that men need to step it up.


“But, I am tired of the marginalization and spiritual castration of good men, of the good fathers, the good husband, of the good sons lumping them into the same” category as the “absentee DNA donors who don’t stand up for their children. You would think that there are no good fathers in the world if you believe all the hype,” he said.


“This church is full of good men, good fathers, good husbands and good sons. Today, I speak for them. Today, I honor them. Today, we affirm them as the great men of God that they are…,” said O’Neill. And, that included Father Pfleger who recently buried his second son, Beronti.


McNeil focused on two parts of his life, “the age of BC” the time before Christ that had ruled his life. The second is WC, the time with Christ as the ruler of my life….” Raised in New York by Catholic and devoted parents, McNeil said while his childhood was filled with excellent opportunities, he chose to “squander” those blessings.


“I chose a life of godlessly wandering, social promotion in high school before the term was even coined. My classes consisted mostly of getting high, drunk and plotting my next crime spree. I graduated from family court to local jail time and only narrowly escaping prison, but courts and jails weren’t enough to straighten me up.”


O’Neil said while he was acting out, many urged his father to give up on him, to let him go. “He never did,” O’Neil said praising his father for appearing in court where he was going to be sentenced. At that time, is father told him, “Walter, you got to keep busy in there. Don’t give up. Read and read some more. I love you Walter. You are my son,” his father told him. “He knew God was in control.” In growing up, O’Neill said while love was in his household, it was never discussed.


 O’Neil was given a second chance by the judge and went on to college graduating in four-years. “I have been giving back ever since. For the past 28-years, I have been helping youth break the cycle of poverty through higher education. All by the grace of God and a praying power.”


O’Neil came to Chicago in 1991 and while thinking he had his act together but he said he was still not grounded and began to look for things “that pleased the old Walter.” He said his road to Damascus “was very real. It involved naked truth, honest talk, a lot of shouting and plenty of tears.”


Ultimately, he had an unexplainable peace. “I had an intimate time with Christ, and I was never, ever going to let anything else get in the way.”


He came to Saint Sabina in 1998 and sat in the last seat in the last row because while he loved the church he thought the Saint Sabinians “ were a little crazy.” He waned to be by the door so he could escape at a moment’s notice, but the more he came to Saint Sabina, the more spiritual he became.


 O’Neil began to move up in the rows and ultimately became an armor bearer. “Who would have ever thought after all of this time, after all of the wrong I had done that not only I would be forgiven but I would be eternally blessed? Who would have thought I would meet the woman who would join me on a life-long journey of exploring God’s grace and mercy? Isn’t God awesome?”


O’Neil said it took him two-months to get up the courage to ask Selisa out to lunch. Another two-months they were engaged and seven-months later they were married at Saint Sabina. “We made a commitment when we met that we would not do things that we had done in previous relationships. We agreed that we were not going to be with each other until after we were married. We were fully grown and we practiced abstinence,” he told a cheering congregation.


“Two-weeks after our honeymoon, we were pregnant with our first child,” said O’Neill. “Soon came our second child and then the twins.” Turning to his children, O’Neill said, “I love you with my last breath. I am so proud of each and every one of you, and Selisa, you are the reason for my existence. I love you more now today than I have every loved you. You are my queen. I am just so thankful that God has placed you in my life and that you are crazy enough to stay. I love you, baby,” he told his wife as she blew kisses at her husband.


But, life for this couple has not been picture perfect. In 2009, he was crushed at losing his father. Six-months later his daughter, Jessica, then 4, had stage four cancer. “How just is that” he had asked. He was angry and said; “The devil was not going to destroy my family and damn sure was not going to do that to my daughter.”


Within 48-hours, his daughter had to have emergency surgery to remove her kidney and begin an intensive regiment of radiation and chemo. “I put all of the doctors on notice, the nurses, parking attendants, volunteers, to get it right, do your thing, pay attention, no time for nonsense.” He and his family prayed in the waiting room. He had Father Pfleger on his speed dial. The surgery was a success. “We got through the bad stuff,” he said.


One day when he was in his daughter’s hospital room where his wife had been living after the surgery, O’Neill said his mother-in-law called and asked him to leave the room so she could talk to her daughter. His mother-in-law told him that his wife’s brother, Anthony, who had been with them a few days earlier in the waiting room of the hospital, was found dead in her garage.


“He was barely 50-years old…. I was speechless” and wondered how he would break this news to his wife. Anthony’s funeral was held the same weekend his daughter was released from the hospital. Saying it can be rough for dads, O’Neill said he is a son who is trying to become a better son.


The good news is that his daughter is much better so much so he forgave God but less than three-weeks later, his daughter had to be rushed to the hospital for yet another surgery. “I was crushed…. I could not stand to seeing my daughter go through this again….” He texted Father Pfleger and said he had given up but shortly afterwards O’Neill said a sense of peace came over him.


Calling his daughter, Jessica, up to the podium, O’Neill picked her up kissing her. “God is awesome. Jessica has been in remission for one full year. Jessica is cancer-free….” “If God has done all of this for me, just imagine what he has in store for you. Being a father is not easy, but I would not give this job up for the world.” “I’m just father learning how to be a better son.

Later, Father Michael L. Pfleger asked for all fatherless children to come to the center aisle of the church. Besides praying for them on this very special day, he told them they are never to be alone for all the men at Saint Sabina are their fathers and the women their aunts, cousins….


When a family member of 17-year-old Ondelee Perteet pushed his wheelchair towards the aisle, Pfleger hugged the teen and again reminded him that despite what doctors say one day he will walk. Perteet was shot at a party in September of 2009 at the age of 14. He was paralyzed. He is a member of Saint Sabina and often speaks out against gun violence.


At the end of the service, Pfleger distributed wristbands to all of the fathers that had the word “TRUST” embossed on them. 

 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.

The ARK of Saint Sabina co-host music studio with Hip-Hop DetoxX

Posted by Admin On June - 22 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Life skills program to curb violence

By Chinta Strausberg

The ARK of Saint Sabina in collaboration with Hip-Hop DetoxX Tuesday launched the new DetoxX Talent development/Music Studio Apprenticeship program that ultimately will run for a year, but this Saturday, June 23, 2012, youth between the ages of 13 and 19 can audition for this life skills program aimed at decreasing violence.

At a press conference held at The ARK, 7800 S. Racine, Enoch Muhammad, co-creator and director of Hip-Hop DetoxX, and Jocelyn Jones, executive director of The ARK, explained that this new arts and culture program is aimed at developing the talents in the communities of Auburn-Gresham and Englewood “by giving voice to the youth” while addressing key public, health and safety concerns they hope to extend citywide.

According to Muhammad, the program begin on Monday, June 25, 2012, and will run for seven-weeks on Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s at The ARK from 10 am. to 3 p.m.

“This program is going to focus on not only social emotional critical thinking life skills and a lot of different types of social sciences for young people to learn how to deal with their conflicts and learn how to prevent violence, but they will also learn how to use detox practices to look into culture, music, video games, art and learn how to make better decisions so they won’t be influenced by media, culture and those things their peers might want to influence them with,” said Muhammad.

They will also learn different aspects of music production, sound engineering, how to perform on stage and those who don’t want to be entertainers, this program will help to develop their talents.

Muhammad explained that his Hip-Hop DetoxX program is aimed at removing “poison…. A lot of the poison they are detoxing from are the false ideas, false concepts and behaviors they are involved in due to environment and some things that may have happened to them that caused them trauma and so now they are responding based on that trauma.”

For example, Muhammad said some of these traumatic experiences might include teen pregnancy, criminality and behavior that produce recidivism. “We are looking at those things that cause young people to become violent with themselves and others. All of the things that we look at as dysfunctions, those are the poisons that we’re looking to detox young people from.”

Youth 13 and 19 can sign up to audition 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 23, 2012, at The ARK of Saint Sabina. They can either audition or be interviewed “to put themselves in the process to see if they qualified and become part of the summer session.  We only have a certain number of slots for the summer,” he explained. “Those who are not able to make it for the summer, will be able to keep their names on the list for the fall and winter session.

Pointing to a “Life Guide” hanging on the wall, Muhammad explained, “This is one of the visual aids we use to show what the end goal of the Hip Hop Detox is. We take young people through different processes so that they will be able to see how they can attain what is called a productive life so they will have a peace of mind and opportunities, but they have to know what it looks like and how to get there.”

The first part of this state of the program is to get the youth to be truthful about their present stage in life. Pointing to a myriad of two-way streets that are labeled after life’s problems, Muhammad said the aim is to find out where are the youth on this map. “The first part of the process is to get them to understand that they have to be truthful about where they are” in life.

“Are you traveling down Self-Destructive Way at the moment, or are you on “Ignorant Lane,”or on “Promiscuous Drive,” or “HIV Lane,” or “Hate Street.” “Are you on “Gang Street” or “Drop-out Street.” Muhammad said they must understand there are consequences involved for their making particular choices “whether it is a state or federal penitentiary or you ending up in a cemetery where on your tombstone it’s drug dealer or drug overdose or bully.

“We make it very real to them so they will be able to make a change because all of these represent two-way streets,” said Muhammad. “They don’t have to stay there. They can make a decision to go down ‘Positive Drive’ and go the straight and narrow way or ‘Recovery Road’ so they can get to a productive life,” he said of his visual aid.

In this apprentice program, the students will learn the business aspect of the entertainment industry including sound engineering, music production, vocals, dance, theater, marketing and entrepreneurship, and they learn on the state-of-the-art equipment. The students will also participate in recording opportunities, open mike and musical performances throughout Chicago and in workshops/events where they can learn about industries and markets of their interest. Students will also participate in seminars given by successful industry professionals and participate in TE.A.M./Leadership building processes.

The eligibility requirements are: students must currently have a library card. Students in high school must have a valid high school identification card, and they must have a 2.5 GPA or higher (on a 4.0 scale) after the first full term of participating.

Space is limited and registration is required. Students who are 17 and under must come with a parent or legal guardian to apply. All forms are due on June 23, 2012. For more information, e-mail: hiphopdetoxx@yahoo.com.

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.

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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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