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Archive for August 10th, 2012

Deadline to request independent foreclosure review extended to December 31

Posted by Admin On August - 10 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Borrowers seeking a review of their mortgage foreclosures under the federal banking agencies’ Independent Foreclosure Review now have until December 31, 2012, to submit their requests.

 

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve) today announced that the deadline for submitting requests for review under the Independent Foreclosure Review has been extended. The new deadline provides additional time for borrowers to request a review if they believe they suffered financial injury as a result of errors in foreclosure actions on their homes in 2009 or 2010 by one of the servicers covered by enforcement actions issued in April 2011.

The deadline extension provides more time to increase awareness about the Independent Foreclosure Review and how eligible borrowers may request a review, and to encourage the broadest participation possible. The agencies will work with the servicers to expand their outreach and marketing efforts through the end of the year to encourage as much participation as possible.

As part of enforcement actions issued in April 2011, the agencies required 14 large mortgage servicers to retain independent consultants to conduct a comprehensive review of foreclosure activity in 2009 and 2010 to identify borrowers who may have been financially injured due to errors, misrepresentations, or other deficiencies in the foreclosure process. If the review finds that financial injury occurred, the borrower may receive remediation such as lump-sum payments, suspension or rescission of a foreclosure, a loan modification or other loss mitigation assistance, correction of credit reports, or correction of deficiency amounts and records. Lump-sum payments can range from $500 to, in the most egregious cases, $125,000 plus equity, according to guidance issued by the agencies.

Requesting a review does not preclude borrowers from taking other actions related to their foreclosures. A servicer is not permitted to require a borrower to sign a waiver of the borrower’s ability to pursue claims against the servicer in order to receive compensation under the Independent Foreclosure Review.

There are no costs associated with being included in the review. More information, including how to apply online, is available at www.independentforeclosurereview.com

Reform advocates call on the Guard’s Union to acknowledge human rights catastrophe at the Supermax

Posted by Admin On August - 10 - 2012 1 COMMENT

Advocates ask AFSCME to  “Stop the Lies, Reject Torture, and Join Our Effort to Reduce Prison Numbers” 

 

Prison reformers, human rights advocates and family members held a sit-in at AFSCME headquarters today, objecting to the campaign of scare tactics waged by the guards’ union to try to keep all the prisons open. The crowd called on AFSCME to acknowledge the human rights catastrophe at Tamms, desist from fear-mongering, and support the governor in reducing the bloated prison population. Protesters sang civil rights anthems, prayed for prisoners and guards, and staged a mock award ceremony, naming the union “Most Likely to File a Lawsuit About Overcrowding But Not Support a Bill to Reduce Overcrowding” and “Union Most Likely to Behave Like a Private Prison.” 

The challenge was led by Tamms Year Ten, the grassroots organization that for five years has worked to reform or close the supermax, and comes near the eve of the prison’s closure, slated for August 31. 

Brenda Smith, the mother of a man at Tamms said, “My son has been there for twelve years and he has started cutting himself since he has been there. I will never understand why this union wants to damage people in state custody. Right now, they have to answer to the taxpayers. Later, they will answer to God.” Her son has been in for Tamms 12 years. “We are here to remind AFSCME that the issue is not jobs, it is human dignity,” she said. The union has never once acknowledged the harm that comes from long-term solitary confinement.

Another mother, Rose Sifuentes said, “My son has not embraced our family or felt human touch for 7 years. He has lost more than 30 pounds in the last few months. Behind the glass walls of visitation, it is like he struggles to speak. He has a blank stare. It is like looking at your son in a glass tomb. The isolation and deprivation is slowly making these men lose their minds. It is unforgivable that AFSCME supports these policies.” 

In spite of  the persuasive human rights and economic case for closure, AFSCME has doubled-down on its defense of the supermax. Discounting published research showing that supermax prisons do not reduce aggregate levels of prison violence, the union has repeatedly claimed that Tamms is essential for the safety of officers and prisoners. Rejecting the voluminous evidence that long-term solitary confinement causes severe mental illness, AFSCME has insisted that the Tamms regime is necessary.
And despite the budget crisis facing the state, it has insisted that spending over $26 million per year to house just 175 prisoners is justifiable because the prison sits in an economically depressed area.

Claims by AFSCME that the announced closure of Tamms has caused a spike in overall  prison violence are false. The notion that a correctional system housing over 48,000 prisoners is sensitive to the status of a supermax housing just 175 is absurd on its face. But statistics indicate that the number of lockdowns in Illinois prisons is actually down in 2012 compared to previous years, and reported acts of violence basically unchanged.  Laurie Jo Reynolds, the lead organizer of Tamms Year Ten, said, “We are disappointed that AFSCME has failed to acknowledge the human rights catastrophe at Tamms and has instead perpetuated a PR campaign of fear-mongering and misinformation.”

AFSCME filed suit last Thursday in Alexander County as a last-ditch effort to halt the closure. The union claimed in court documents that the closures would exacerbate prison overcrowding and put their members at risk. Reformers were disturbed but not surprised by the move. “If AFSCME were primarily concerned about prison overcrowding,” said Jean Maclean Snyder, an attorney who sued the IDOC on behalf of men at Tamms with serious mental illnesses, “they would have supported SB 2621, the bill designed to alleviate overcrowding. Instead, they are going all out to resurrect an expensive and half-empty prison that drives inmates insane.” 

Malcolm C. Young, the Director of the Program for Prison Reentry Strategies at the Northwestern University Law School, and former director of the John Howard Association, agreed. He explained that “maximum security prisons are much less overcrowded than minimum or maximum and concerns about prison overcrowding are not a sound basis for opposing the closure of Tamms.” He emphasized that overcrowding is a serious problem but endorsed the measure recently passed by the Illinois’ legislature and Governor to implement a modified good conduct credit program.  The previous MGT program was suspended at the end of calendar year 2009, leading to a sudden net increase in Illinois’ prison population of close to 4000, which has since been reduced by 1000.

In July, Governor Pat Quinn used his veto pen to eliminate funding for the prison, citing its high cost, inefficiency, and the need to use scarce state resources more wisely. At a cost approaching $90,000 per man per year, Tamms is the most expensive prison per capita in the state. Since it is more than 2/3 empty, but fully staffed, it is also the most wasteful and unnecessary. 

In announcing his veto, Quinn said the money saved should go to DCFS to preserve programs for neglected and abused children. “Finally, we have a governor who has his priorities straight,” said Reynolds. “Children and families come first, prison boondoggles last.” She added, “The expense of the supermax is exorbitant, and taxpayers get no return for that money except a class of prisoners who are mentally damaged before they are released back into our communities.”

Located in southern Illinois, Tamms has long been a target of human rights and mental health advocates for its regime of solitary confinement and sensory deprivation. Men at Tamms are kept in isolation 24/7 for years at a time — some since the prison opened in 1998. They only leave their cells to shower or exercise in a concrete pen alone. Food is pushed through a slot in their cell doors. Many men have pre-existing mental illnesses. Those who don’t may develop them in the prison designed for sensory deprivation. Hallucinations, self-mutilation, smearing excrement and suicide attempts are common among prisoners at Tamms.

Reform advocate Stephen F. Eisenman wondered how AFSCME’s legendary leader Jerome Wurf would have felt about current union policy. Wurf marched with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis in 1968, and shared the civil rights leader’s commitment to non-violence and universal human rights. “Wurf would be ashamed to see AFSCME facilitate the mass incarceration that characterizes the US penal system today. And he would have never sanctioned his union’s support of a prison condemned by international human rights monitors.” Speakers referred to the crisis of mass incarceration and the overuse of solitary confinement as the great civil rights issues of our time. Reynolds said, “A prison that leads men to compulsively attempt suicide, smear excrement and self-mutilate is one that a progressive union should reject.”

###





Appendix:

TEN THINGS AFSCME WON’T TELL YOU ABOUT THE CLOSURE OF TAMMS SUPERMAX

 
1. Most of the men at Tamms are no different than those at other maximum security prisons. Even the IDOC recently admitted that only 25 men require heightened security protocols. More than half of the men at Tamms did not commit a crime while in prison. Of those who did, their offenses were often associated with the symptoms of mental illnesses, such as throwing feces or resisting handcuffs.[i]  Moreover, in 2010, a federal district judge found that all the men at Tamms had been transferred there in violation of their 14th amendment right to due process.[ii] For example, Andre Davis who was recently exonerated by DNA evidence and released, was in isolation at Tamms the entire 14 years it has been open. Like many, he was never told why he was there.[iii] It is telling that after Tamms, many men are transferred to medium security prisons.[iv] In fact, men with indeterminate sentences have even been granted parole directly from the supermax or shortly after they left.
 
2. Tamms is a dumping ground for men with mental illness and it causes mental breakdowns in previously healthy men. These are two reasons why Tamms has been publicly condemned by international human rights monitors, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the John Howard Association.[v] Prisoners with pre-existing mental illness are more likely to be disruptive and be sent to the supermax. Once there, they succumb to the common effects of isolation: hallucinations, psychosis, self-mutilation and compulsion to suicide.[vi] There are men covered in knots of scar tissue from self-cutting and on constant suicide watch.[vii]
 
3. It is safer to close Tamms than to keep it open. Supermax prisons make outcomes worse. That’s because isolation exacerbates mental illnesses, increases tension, and worsens bad behavior. States that have recently closed supermaxes or sharply curtailed their use – such Mississippi and Maine – have seen prison violence plummet.[viii] Peer reviewed research from Illinois and other states indicates that supermax prisons do not deter or decrease violence system-wide.[ix] A Washington State study showed that placement in long-term solitary confinement actually increases rates of violent recidivism.[x]
 
4. One-third of the men housed at Tamms in 2008 will be returning to our communities by 2018. Hundreds of men from Tamms have been or will be released—all the worse for their years in Tamms. We do not want men returned to our communities or other prisons with mental impairments. The state of Illinois should not undermine a person’s chances for successful reentry.
 
5. Tamms supermax is the right choice for closure. It is inefficient, expensive and redundant. The supermax is fully staffed but 2/3 empty,  and costs over $90,000 per capita — more than four times the IDOC average of $21,405.[xi] Illinois already has an all-segregation prison, Pontiac, where the former death row was housed. It is certainly secure enough for the state’s 25 most dangerous prisoners.
 
6. No one will lose a job because of Tamms’ closure, and transferring staff will make the entire system safer.  Every worker affected by the closures will be offered a job in corrections. At least 118 of the 302 Tamms employees will be transferred to chronically understaffed prisons within 90 miles. The rest can fill open jobs in other southern Illinois facilities. This will save the state overtime costs and make the system safer and more efficient. (Some staff with salaries of $55,000 are making over $100,000 because of overtime pay.[xii]) Dispersing the large staff and small prison population to other facilities is a smart use of scarce resources.[xiii]
 
7. Closing Tamms supermax will not increase overcrowding.  The redistribution of 175 men among a population of 48,000 will have no effect on overcrowding. In fact, almost that number of prisoners are released from IDOC custody every day. The 200 men in the Tamms minimum security camp will be candidates for home electronic monitoring and for earned sentence credits.
 
8. The way to address overcrowding is to reduce the prison population, not to bankroll an expensive and destructive prison. The Illinois prison census spiked by 4000 when good time credits were suspended in 2009. Thankfully, the legislature just passed a bill (SB2621) to relieve overcrowding by reinstating these credits. AFSCME should support the governor in his efforts to alleviate overcrowding by reducing the prison population. (AFSCME and most of their downstate legislative allies did not support the bill.)
 
9. The claim that “Tamms saves lives” is false. Reductions in prison violence in Illinois during the 1990s were achieved the old fashioned way: sound corrections policy and hard work. Under Governor Jim Edgar’s administration (1990-98), gangs were allowed to rule the prisons. They made cell assignments and job assignments. They both called hits and were called on to keep the peace. This ended after the Richard Speck tapes became public in 1996, leading to a complete IDOC overhaul including 30 systemic reforms to take back the prisons and cut corruption. The transformation led to an immediate reduction in violence that declined steadily afterwards. Tamms had nothing to do with it – it was opened two years later. The supermax also can’t be said to protect staff – the last death of an IDOC employee was nine years before Tamms opened. These claims are scare tactics made by AFSCME and the governors and wardens who built Tamms. Independent research shows that supermax prisons play no role in reducing aggregate prison violence.
 
10. AFSCME prides itself on being a progressive union, and boasts of their civil rights past with Martin Luther King, Jr. but they have dishonored their proud legacy.  The union stood shoulder to shoulder with Martin Luther King in Memphis during the sanitation workers strike in 1968 with the vision that workers rights and human rights are inseparable. AFSCME later agreed to the shuttering of large and poorly run mental hospitals in New York City and Long Island – despite the loss of some union jobs – because these institutions harmed patients. But in the last two decades, AFSCME has embraced the transformation of the United States into what has been called a “penal state” with more people in prison than any other country on earth. They act as though every single union job – even if it is cruel and destructive – is worth preserving. Mass incarceration and solitary confinement are the human rights issues of our time, but ending them are also practical needs. The state can’t spend scarce resources on a bloated prison system. Guards and communities would be safer with prisons that rehabilitate instead of torture. Begging for prisons is unbecoming for the union and for legislators.
Downstaters need real, sustainable, and humane economic development.

[i] George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer, Trapped in Tamms, Investigative Series, Belleville News Democrat, August 2-3, 2009.
[ii] Westefer v. Snyder, 725 F.Supp.2d 735, 2010.  
[iii] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/07/andre-davis-released_n_1655914.html
[iv] Many men at Tamms are transferred out to prisons like Hill, Big Muddy, Danville, Illinois River, Lawrence, Western, and Pickneyville.
[v] See for example, the public statement by Amnesty International, Feb. 23, 2012.
[vi] Bruce A. Arrigo and Jennifer Leslie Bullock, “Supermax Units: Reviewing What we Know and Recommending What should Change,” International Journal of  Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminolology, 52, 2008, p. 627. Lorna A. Rhodes, “Taxonomic Anxieties: Axis I and Axis II in Prison,” Medical Anthropology Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 14, No. 3, Sep., 2000, pp. 346-373.
[vii] George Pawlaczyk and Beth Hundsdorfer, “Supporters of Tamms inmate: Solitary should not be dumping ground for mentally ill,” Belleville News Democrat, October 23, 2011, http://www.bnd.com/2011/10/23/1912016/groups-join-inmates-effort-to.html
[viii] Alex Barber, “Less Restriction Equals Less Violence at Maine State Prison,” Bangor Daily News, June 15, 2012, http://bangordailynews.com/2012/06/15/news/state/less-restriction-equals-less-violence-at-maine-state-prison/; James Patterson, “Prison’s Rethink Isolation, Saving Money, Lives and Sanity,” The New York Times, March 10, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/us/rethinking-solitary-confinement.html; Lance Tapley, “Reducing Solitary Confinement,” The Portland Phoenix, November 2, 2011, http://portland.thephoenix.com/news/129316-reducing-solitary-confinement/; Lance Tapley, “Maine – A Model for Solitary Confinement Reform,” The Portland Phoenix, July 3, 2012, http://portland.thephoenix.com/news/140908-maine-a-model-for-solitary-confinement-reform/
[ix] Jody Sundt, Thomas C. Castellano and Chad Briggs, “Case Study of Supermax and Its Effect in Illinois. The Sociopolitical Context of Prison Violence and Its Control,” The Prison Journal, Vol. 88, No. 1, 94-122, 2008, p. 111. The Illinois data upon which Sundt and her colleagues study was based was limited to just 15 months, from March 1998 to July 1999, and the recorded reduction in assaults against guards was limited to the single month following the opening of Tamms, after which rates of violence against staff began to increase, eventually negating the prior gains. Data from the 2000 IDOC annual report shows that overall inmate-on-staff assaults actually increased from 1998 to 1999, from 681 to 686. In addition, the 2002 IDOC annual report indicates that although overall assaults committed on staff and inmates with a weapon decreased from 1998 to 2002, they significantly increased again from 2001 to 2002, from 33 to 53. The insignificance of Tamms supermax prison for any reduction of aggregate prison violence in Illinois has been remarked by Chad Briggs. In a correspondence from 2009 he re-stated his published conclusion: “Despite claims from prison officials that these types of prison facilities have had highly desirable impacts on levels of prison violence and safety, to date relevant empirical evaluations have been largely non-existent … [In Illinois and elsewhere] there appears to have been little effort to analyze the potential effectiveness of the policy. Its utility was assumed self-evident.” (E-mail correspondence with the Dr. Stephen F. Eisenman, April 23, 2008.) Indeed, in an earlier article, Sundt and her colleagues noted that:  “The implementation of a supermax had no effect on levels of inmate-on-staff assaults in Minnesota, [and] temporarily increased staff injuries in Arizona.” Chas S. Briggs, Jody L. Sundt, and Thomas C. Castellano, “The Effect of Supermaximum Security Prisons on Aggregate Levels of Institutional Violence,” Criminology, vol. 41, no. 4, November 2003, p. 1341. Also see: Stephen F. Eisenman, “The Resistable Rise and Predictable Fall of the U.S. Supermax,” Monthly Review, vol. 61, no. 6, November 2009, http://monthlyreview.org/2009/11/01/the-resistable-rise-and-predictable-fall-of-the-u-s-supermax
[x] David Lovell and Clark Johnson, “Felony and Violent Recidivism Among Supermax Prison Inmates in Washington State: A Pilot Study,” Department of Psychosocial & Community Health, University of Washington, p. ii. 
[xi] This estimate is from the 2009 exposé by the Belleville News Democrat for the cost to keep a man in the supermax. The IDOC’s lower estimate of $64,805 represents an average of the per capita cost of the supermax with the cost of the adjacent boot camp.
[xii] Patrick Yeagle, “Illinois Prisons: Standing room only Overcrowding is costly and dangerous,” Illinois Times, March 4, 2010
http://www.illinoistimes.com/Springfield/article-7025-illinois-prisons-standing-room-only.html
[xiii] http://www.thejha.org/tamms

Sec’y of State Jesse White’s legislation on Sports Series Motorcycle Plates signed into law

Posted by Admin On August - 10 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Money raised from the license plates will support public schools

 

Legislation proposed by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White expanding the Illinois sports teams’ series to include motorcycle license plates was signed into law today by Governor Pat Quinn.   Twenty-five dollars from each motorcycle license plate will support the Professional Sports Teams Education Fund with proceeds going to the Common School Fund which supports public schools throughout the state of Illinois

“I am proud to make these license plates available to motorcycle enthusiasts as a means of showing team spirit and further supporting education across the state,” White said. “With over 350,000 motorcycles registered in Illinois today, I am confident this new law will generate much needed revenue to further support public schools.”

Currently, Sports Series license plates available to the motoring public include the Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago White Sox.  In less than two years, over 18,000 sports series license plates have been sold to automobile owners, generating nearly $800,000 in revenue for public schools. 

Starting Friday, August 24, the public can preorder the motorcycle license plates by visiting www.cyberdriveillinois.com.  Fans can order random number, personalized or vanity plates. The cost to purchase a random number plate for a currently titled motorcycle with valid Illinois registration is $66.  Pricing varies for vanity and personalized license plates.

Public Act 095-0331, enacted in 2002, allows for Illinois sports teams to have license plates designated as Professional Sports Teams license plates.   Public Act 097-0914 expands the series to include motorcycle license plates.

Attorney General Madigan welcomes State Fair visitors to the “House of Hazards”

Posted by Admin On August - 10 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

State Fair Tent Highlights Dangers “Known & Unknown” in Illinois Communities 

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan unveiled the “House of Hazards” in her Illinois State Fair tent that will provide information and raise awareness for fairgoers about the work her office does to promote safe communities and healthy homes.

“At this year’s State Fair, we’re highlighting the dangers lurking in our communities, behind our computer screens and in our homes,” said Madigan. “From our efforts to combat the spread of synthetic drugs, our training for parents, teachers and kids about online threats, to our advocacy to promote product safety and recall effectiveness, my office works on many fronts to help Illinoisans stay safe and informed.”

Synthetic Drugs 

The Attorney General’s tent, located across from the Grandstand, will illustrate the dangers of synthetic drugs which contain toxic substances that are both against the law and a health hazard if smoked or ingested. Marketed with exotic names like K2 or Spice, synthetic drugs are chemically laced substances similar to marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine that are illegal but are still too often sold behind the counter at convenience stores, gas stations and tobacco shops throughout Illinois.

Attorney General Madigan has worked with local, state and federal law enforcement to increase awareness of the dangers of synthetic drugs and remove them from store shelves. In December 2011, Madigan’s office spearheaded “Operation Smoked Out,” a statewide initiative designed to eliminate these dangerous drugs from retail stores in Illinois. In nearly 40 operations, more than 31,000 packages of illegal products have been relinquished with an estimated street value in excess of $688,667. In June 2012, Madigan hosted a joint meeting with the Indiana Attorney General to share information and experiences encountered by law officers in the border states. And last month, investigators from Madigan’s office participated in the first-ever nationwide takedown of synthetic drugs. Additionally, Madigan drafted a new law that defines a “synthetic drug product” as one that contains a controlled substance not regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.  

Product Safety

One of the biggest challenges surrounding product safety is awareness, particularly when toys, cribs and strollers are everyday items in homes, daycares and pre-schools. Attorney General Madigan has been a leader in the call for stronger regulations to increase product safety and consumer confidence. Last year alone, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled 121 children’s products, covering 11.6 million units, because of dangerous defects. In a lighthearted look at a serious subject, the House of Hazards will feature “Find the Flaw,” a display where fairgoers can inspect recalled products. In addition, visitors to the tent will have the opportunity to sign up for email notification of future recalls.

Internet Safety 

Attorney General Madigan’s office, with a grant from the Department of Justice, runs the Illinois Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which investigates child exploitation crimes and trains law enforcement agencies. Since 2006, Madigan’s ICAC Task Force has been involved in more than 450 arrests of sexual predators . Two years ago, Madigan also launched “Operation Glass House,” an initiative to locate and arrest the most active Internet child pornographers in the state. In late July, a Glass House arrest netted a central Illinois individual alleged to have downloaded the most child pornography in the state for the 30-day period prior to the arrest.

In addition to her enforcement efforts, Madigan promotes Internet safety for children, parents and educators through the ICAC Task Force, having provided Internet safety training to more than 244,000 parents, teachers and students, and more than 14,200 law enforcement professionals. Madigan emphasizes the importance of Internet safety, particularly in today’s world, when most people—especially children—communicate online and with cell phones.  However, without proper guidance, these types of technologies can be dangerous to a child’s physical and psychological well-being if they are exposed to inappropriate material, whether they are surfing online, sending e-mail or using social network sites. The best defense against inappropriate material and online conduct is to set and discuss family rules for Internet use. Madigan’s State Fair tent features a video quiz highlighting safety tips to help families learn how to surf safely.

Fairgoers visiting Attorney General Madigan’s tent will also find a variety of other resources and activities designed to educate and protect all Illinoisans, including resources related to preventing mortgage foreclosure and ensuring nursing home safety.  Computer stations also will be available to check current listings on the Illinois Sex Offender Registry.

Attorney General Madigan is scheduled to appear at the Annual Twilight Parade on Aug. 9. The parade begins at 6 p.m. at the intersection of 9th and N. Grand and ends at the Grandstand inside the Illinois State Fairgrounds. This year’s Illinois State Fair runs from Friday, Aug. 10, until Sunday, Aug. 19 in Springfield.

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to participate in Worth Days Festival, August 10-12, 2012

Posted by Admin On August - 10 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS
 
WORTH, IL – The Village of Worth will be hosting its annual Worth Days Festival August 10 – 12, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) will be promoting the value of clean water at its booth. MWRD staff will also be available to discuss stormwater management, wastewater treatment and environmental protection and a rain barrel will be on display. MWRD staff will be available on Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
 
Entertainment will include a parade, military vehicle display, face painting, games, bingo tent,
petting zoo, pony rides, food and live musical performances.
 
The event will be taking place on MWRD property between 115th Street and Oketo Avenue along the Cal-Sag Channel. The property is leased to the Village of Worth for a nominal annual fee of $10. As the second largest landowner in Cook County, the MWRD leases its property in support of community events and functions.
 
“The District has made it a practice to support uses of our property that benefit the public,” said
Commissioner Mariyana T. Spyropoulos, chairman of the MWRD Municipalities Committee.
“The Worth Days festival will be situated on 20 acres of MWRD property that has been
preserved as green space.”
 
The MWRD also owns and operates the scenic Sidestream Elevated Pool Aeration Station (SEPA), often referred to as “waterfall park.” The SEPA station in Worth is situated next to Water’s Edge Golf Course and lies within a 12.5 acre park which attracts many visitors and special events, including weddings and photo shoots. The area also includes a pavilion, benches, walking paths and bridges.
 
The Festival will be held Friday, August 10, 2012 – Sunday, August 12, 2012 ,  at 7425 West 115th Street, Worth, Illinois.
 

From Me to You: Florida Poet urges teens and adults to journal life’s journey

Posted by Admin On August - 10 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

 Celebrating the launch of her acclaimed new poetry book, Paula Orezi is today urging others to recognize the importance of journaling their way through life.

                                                                              

 Palm Beach County, Florida –  Having found the documentation of her own life a deeply enriching experience, author Paula Orezi is today urging others to consider journaling their way through life’s journey.

The call comes following the launch of Orezi’s new book of intimate poetry, From Me to You: Poetry from Scratch. As Orezi explains, the book will hopefully serve as an enlightening inspiration to others.

“I love to write what I am thinking, especially when they are words to be told to someone else. It is a reflection of who I am and what I have seen throughout my life time so far. I wrote this to give those silent voices words that could be expressed to whom they need to say them to,” she explains.

Continuing, “This is why I chose the title “From Me to You” because it can be a personal poem in there that you can send to someone or it can be a poem that you can relate to. I have been a firm believer that journaling is important because it documents your life in a way that no one could. When you look back, you can see how much you have changed and what you learned over the years.”

This book is poised to be heart-warming, deeply personal and, at times, an emotional affair.

Official book blurb:

“This poetry book is for those who seek to be understood in the various experiences in life. Filled with passion, love, motivation, and poems that will enrich the soul and inspire it to write out loud, From Me to You will breathe life into the silent individual. Join me on a journey through my poetry journal, and take time to journal your thoughts as life-changing revelations are revealed through the mind-penetrating words of this book.

You are the original author of your life story, and journaling your story can be invaluable. Those words you write hold key evidence of personal growth. And it is important to be heard, even if it is only on paper. For all who desire to be heard, let your mind be open to each message of hope. Beware . . . a connection between our hearts may occur as we share an adventure in each poem!”

Orezi hopes that her work will inspire others to consider documenting their life in a unique and exclusive way.

“I want to start a movement to encourage young teens or adults to journal life’s journey. The focus is dealing with life through writing. Journaling is like a medicine to me because I know that if I do not have anyone that will listen; I can always write my heart out on paper. As a Christian woman, my goal is to help encourage others to take leap of faith in God and follow what He has planned for life’s journey,” Orezi adds.

 With such a positive initial response, Orezi has recently announced her intention to release a second book, citing the expanding opportunities that the literary world is affording her as her main driving force. Along with the use of two of her own paintings within her debut book, this other important facet of Orezi’s expression is allowing her to connect with readers on a deeply personal level.

From Me to You, from WinePress Publishing, is available directly from the publisher or via Amazon.com, and Barnes & Nobles.com.

ISBN-13: 9781414122342

About the Author:

Paula Orezi graduated with her Masters in Leadership at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Paula is passionate about journaling and started writing in journals since early teen years. She writes about life’s various trials and celebrations in both her life and others. Each poem represents an adventurous experience and how God is with us through each one of them. Her motivation is to simply advise how important journaling truly is and hopes to make a difference in the lives of others.

For more information, contact: Paula Orezi at porez815@gmail.com

Free pedestrian playground Open Streets returns to the Loop bigger and better on Saturday, Sept. 8, and makes exciting debut in Wicker Park/Bucktown on Sunday, Sept. 16

Posted by Admin On August - 10 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL — Chicagoland residents are invited to enjoy the return of Open Streets—Chicago’s free pedestrian playground—on Saturday, Sept. 8 in the Loop and Sunday, Sept. 16 in Wicker Park/Bucktown from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. each day. Expanding to two events this year, Open Streets will close streets to car traffic and open them up for healthy recreation including biking, running, yoga classes, skate parks, interactive playgrounds and climbing walls.

During the five-hour event on Sept. 8, Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA), in partnership with Active Transportation Alliance (Active Trans), will transform 13 blocks in the Loop into the ultimate urban playground for all ages: State Street from Lake to Van Buren Streets, and Monroe Street from State Street to Lake Shore Drive. The Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce (WPBSSA) and Active Trans will bring Open Streets to 15 blocks of Milwaukee Avenue on Sept. 16, spanning from Division to Western Avenues.

Open Streets events create a safe public space in a car-free setting where communities can connect, families and friends can exercise and play, and businesses can engage with the public. The event is modeled after similar car-free events held in cities around the world from New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, to Bogota, Colombia, which holds its iconic “Ciclovia” event every Sunday of the year.

“We are looking forward to inviting people to the Loop once again to experience two of Chicago’s world-renowned destinations—State Street and Millennium Park—in a new way,” said Laura Jones, Interim Executive Director of Chicago Loop Alliance.

“We’re thrilled to bring Open Streets to Wicker Park and Bucktown,” said Adam Burck, Executive Director of the Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce. “This event is a natural fit for our community that enthusiastically embraces alternative transportation initiatives. In fact, in 2008, the community created a master plan with goals that include creating bike boulevards and community bicycling events.”

A sampling of the free recreational programming offered to the public at both Open Streets events includes: 

  • Mobile skate park: While most public places prohibit skateboarding, Open Streets encourages people of all ages and ability levels to take lessons and watch professionals skate on this street course that includes ramps and a half pipe.
  • Imagination Playground: Children ages 3 and older can explore this award-winning, 500-square-foot movable playground that includes blocks, crates, carts, sand and water. This innovative playground encourages children and their families to pursue healthy, safe, and educational play.
  • Climbing wall and slackline: A portable rock wall will allow participants to improve their climbing skills and the slackline will test their balance.
  • Yoga classes: CorePower instructors will be on hand to lead yoga classes every hour.
  • Dunking booth: Settle the score the old-fashioned way: by sending someone splashing into 500 gallons of water.
  • Games: Four square and relay races are no longer just for the school playground. Get involved in these childhood classics and try out some newer games, including human tic-tac-toe.

“Building on last year’s great success of Open Streets on State Street, we’re expecting two wonderful events that will be enjoyed by many thousands of people,” said Active Trans Open Streets Director Julia Kim. “We’re encouraging people to ride bikes, take a stroll, and embrace the dramatic beauty of Chicago. Open Streets brings communities together to have fun and lead active lifestyles.”

Event organizers are grateful to the Illinois Center for Broadcasting, Walgreens and REI for their generous support of Open Streets events.

Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA) is a member-based civic organization that represents Chicago’s most dynamic mixed-use district—the Loop—and advocates for the rapidly growing central business area. CLA is focused on promoting and uniting Loop businesses and organizations to support one another in creating a vibrant, flourishing Loop where people live, work and play. For more information, visit www.chicagoloopalliance.com.

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber Special Service Area (WPBSSA) is a member-based organization that serves as a cornerstone of the Wicker Park and Bucktown commercial districts, advancing the financial goals of neighborhood businesses through the creation of a dynamic economic climate, increasing the neighborhood’s visibility and viability, and encouraging profitable relationships within the community. For more information, visit www.wickerparkbucktown.com.

The Active Transportation Alliance (Active Trans) is an advocate for bicyclists, pedestrians and public transit riders in the Chicago region. Active Trans encourages transportation that promotes health, recreation, social interaction, equity, environmental stewardship and resource conservation. For more information about the Active Transportation Alliance, please visit www.activetrans.org.

The Better Business Bureau offers tips on planning for retirement in difficult economic times

Posted by Admin On August - 10 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL. – During challenging economic times, it can be tempting to forgo contributions to your retirement account, or even to pull money out of an existing account to cover other expenses. Some plans allow you to withdraw money for specific reasons (i.e. to prevent eviction or foreclosure), but there can be some pretty tough financial consequences for tapping or ignoring your retirement plan.

 

“Retirement may seem far away,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “But it is extremely important to save for the future while navigating everyday finances.”

 

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation offers the following reasons to keep your retirement savings intact (note these rules are regarding U.S. laws):

 

● Tax LiabilityUnless you’re over the age of 59 ½, you will not only have to pay income taxes on the amount you withdraw, but you will also be subject to a 10% tax penalty. In most cases, your employer will withhold 20% in federal taxes, so the amount you receive will be significantly lower than the amount you requested.

 

● Opportunity CostsThe repercussions of withdrawing funds from your 401(k) could be enormous in terms of lost growth opportunity. For example, let’s assume you are 30 years old, and have a 401(k) balance of $20,000. If you leave that money alone, and your account averages a 6% rate of return over the next 32 years, your balance at retirement will be $129,068 when you’re 62-even if you do not make any additional contributions during that time. If you take it out, you’ll have nothing. Even if you have a shorter time horizon, you will forgo significant savings opportunities by taking money out of your 401(k). For a 45-year-old, that $20,000 will grow to $53,855 in 17 years.

 

● Opening Assets to Creditors-Under the Bankruptcy Abuse Protection and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, your creditors cannot touch your 401(k) balance or similar retirement savings account-even if, as a last resort, you file for bankruptcy protection. Balances in traditional and Roth IRAs are also protected up to a limit of $1 million. However, if you take money out of your retirement plan through a loan, hardship or regular withdrawal, your creditors can go after that sum.

 

Additional warning: watch out for products that allow you to withdraw your retirement funds and reinvest them elsewhere. FINRA warns that 72(t) withdrawals from an IRA and 401(k) debit cards can deplete your retirement savings and damage your retirement security.

 

Instead of taking money out of your retirement plan, look at other ways to save or borrow (tightening your belt on expenses, taking advantage of employer match programs to keep funding your IRA or 401(k), contributing pre-tax dollars to a retirement plan, etc.) You may also be able to borrow from your 401(k) without actually taking a withdrawal; this would reduce your tax burden and would likely come with a lower interest rate than a bank loan. Check with your plan administrator on whether or not this option is available.

 

For more consumer tips, visit www.bbb.org

Dance Center presents KOTA Yamazaki/Fluid Hug-Hug September 27-29

Posted by Admin On August - 10 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS
 
Japanese choreographer collaborates with African and American dancers for New Work

 

CHICAGO, IL — As part of its commitment to intercultural artistic initiatives, The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago presents a collaboration between New York-based Japanese choreographer Kota Yamazaki and dancers from Africa and the U.S. Performances are September 27–29 at The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

Kota Yamazaki and his company Fluid hug-hug are collaborating with two dancers from Senegal and Ethiopia and four American and Japanese-American dancers on (glowing), a new work exploring Japanese aesthetics of shadow and darkness. To develop the choreography, Yamazaki finds inspiration in the classic 1933 essay “In Praise of Shadows” by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, who focused on the cultural dichotomy of East and West. Yamazaki instead finds an affinity between Japanese and African artistry, attempting to bridge the “fire and ice” of the angular, asymmetrical and slow-moving Japanese movement form butoh with the rhythmic, exuberant, joyful and sensuous style of African dance. Collaborators include American architect/poet Robert Kocik and Japanese composer Kohji Setoh.

Yamazaki’s first company, the Tokyo-based rosy co., made its U.S. debut at The Dance Center in 1999; Yamazaki’s most recent Dance Center performance, in 2004, featured his first collaboration with African dancers, Compagnie Jant-Bi of Senegal.

RESIDENCY ACTIVITIES
There will be a post-performance conversation with the artists Thursday, September 27 and a pre-performance discussion with Kota Yamazaki Friday, September 28 at 7 p.m., both free to ticket holders.

KOTA YAMAZAKI/FLUID HUG-HUG
Kota Yamazaki founded Kota Yamazaki/Fluid hug-hug in New York in 2002 based on the policies “Traveling, Exchanging and Exploring.” Yamazaki believes that a person is fluid and has to keep flowing, like water, so that exchange between people from different backgrounds can become more easy and free. The name Fluid hug-hug came from this idea of fluidity and meeting people from all over the world.

FUNDING
The Dance Center’s presentation of (glowing) is funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and additional funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Special thanks to the Japan Information Center, Consulate General of Japan at Chicago.

THE DANCE CENTER
The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, named “Chicago’s Best Dance Theatre” by Chicago magazine and “Best Dance Venue” by the Chicago Reader, is the city’s leading presenter of contemporary dance, showcasing artists of regional, national and international significance. Programs of The Dance Center are supported, in part, by the Alphawood Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, The Irving Harris Foundation, and the Arts Midwest Touring Fund. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. Special thanks to Athletico, the Official Provider of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy for The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, and the Friends of The Dance Center.

The Dance Center’s 2012–13 season continues with Gallim Dance (Oct. 11–13), The Seldoms (Oct. 25–27), Double Edge Theatre (co-presented with the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department Jan. 18–19), zoe | juniper (Feb. 14–16), Stephen Petronio Company (March 7–9), Chicago Moving Company (March 21–23) and Delfos Danza Contemporanea (Apr. 4–6).

TICKET INFORMATION
Kota Yamazaki/Fluid hug-hug performs (glowing) Thursday–Saturday, September 27–29, Thursday–Saturday at 8 p.m. at The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave. Single tickets are $26–30; subscribers who order tickets to three or more performances from the 2012–13 season save 20%. All programming is subject to change. The theatre is accessible to people with disabilities. For information, call 312-369-8330 or visit colum.edu/dancecenter.

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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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