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Board members acknowledge fiscal challenges facing state, but urge lawmakers to fully fund General State ...
WASHINGTON, DC – In recognition of International Human Rights Day, U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) ...
The Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshall Reminds Residents to Leave Fireworks to the ...
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle released the preliminary forecast for the County's Fiscal Year ...
  By Chinta Strausberg   Shocked and angered over the robbery and beating of 80-year-old Father Daniel Mallette, ...
BALTIMORE, MD – The NAACP is proud to congratulate Michelle Janine Howard on her ...
    Op-Ed By Michael Grant   As president of the National Bankers Association, whose members include many ...
The Minority Access Internship program offers spring, summer and fall internships for college sophomores, juniors, ...
Illinois Republican Issue Series: Vol. 5 - Office of Governor Issue: Education (From Jack Dorgan, Chairman, ...
After a delayed 166 days, the U.S. Senate finally confirmed Loretta Lynch as Attorney General ...

Archive for February, 2013

Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus launches bipartisan, bicameral efforts to combat veteran unemployment

Posted by Newsroom On February - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, DC — Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Representatives Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Tim Walz (D-MN), co-chairs of the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus, kicked off activities for the 113th Congress during a “Day on the Hill” highlighting the Caucus’ commitment to increasing veterans’ employment and the “I Hire Vets” initiative.

“Few issues unify Congress more than providing veterans the benefits and respect they have earned and deserve,” Senator Manchin said. “In the last year alone, our Caucus has added over forty new Members and eight corporate partners who have pledged to hire 200,000 veterans over the next five years. This is just one way we are keeping our country’s commitment to the men and women who have served us so bravely.”

“Our men and women in uniform shouldn’t have to come home and fight just to make ends meet,” said Senator Kirk. “The Veterans Jobs Caucus demonstrates a commitment to put more than two million returning skilled service members back to work. As a U.S. Navy Reservist, I have served with some of the most talented men and women our nation has to offer, and it is heartening that business leaders across the country recognize the tremendous value these veterans possess. Companies like Wal-Mart and UPS hiring more veterans sends a strong message that others should follow their lead.”

“Our goal as a nation is to provide those who serve with the opportunity to achieve the American Dream; to utilize their skills, support their families, and have passion for their work,” said Rep. Walz. “Make no mistake about it, employing a veteran is not only morally right, it makes sense economically as well; veterans provide employers with a strong, skilled, and dedicated workforce. Put simply, veterans know how to get the job done. The veterans working in my office exemplify this every day and I’m proud to spearhead this bipartisan mission with my colleagues. I encourage all Americans to join us in this just cause.”

“We all know the economic crisis facing our country and how hard it is to find work; the same is true for our veterans,” said Rep. Denham. “We must welcome these men and women home with open arms and empower them to use the skills they have to get jobs. I’m proud to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle to uphold our commitment to our veterans, and we invite members of the public – especially business owners – to join us in this important mission.”

The Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus was first launched last Congress as a bipartisan, bicameral effort to help the 857,000 veterans in our nation who are unemployed. There are currently thirty-eight Senators and forty-six Representatives that have signed on to the Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus, and twenty-four veteran or military service organizations have endorsed the bipartisan Caucus.

The Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus has three goals:

1. Promote veteran hiring across the public and private sector by increasing the awareness of veteran unemployment and the skills our men and women in uniform bring to civilian life. This includes the Caucus’ “I Hire Veterans” program in the House, Senate, and across the public and private sectors. The “I Hire Veterans” logo is our yellow ribbon symbol that allows Congressional offices, government agencies, and companies to proudly display that they employ a veteran, current or former member of the Guard or Reserve, or a military fellow.

2. Engage on veterans’ employment issues by working with the private sector, government, and service organizations to remove barriers that our nation’s veterans face in their search for employment.

3. Hold monthly Member or staff-level events to share information on veterans’ employment initiatives. These efforts include partnering with private sector employers that have also endorsed the Veterans Jobs Caucus and support the “I Hire Vets” initiative through their own veteran hiring; currently eight major corporations have signed on, including most recently Wal-mart and United Parcel Service (UPS), who sat down with the Caucus co-chairs today to discuss their joint efforts.

“Walmart is pleased to join the Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus and to advance the work of hiring our nation’s heroes,” said Bill Simon, President and CEO Walmart U.S. “Walmart has committed to hiring 100,000 veterans over the next five years, and we are grateful that Senators Manchin and Kirk and Representatives Walz and Denham are making veterans a priority on Capitol Hill. By bringing together employers and elected officials, we can drive real change on behalf of those who served our nation in uniform.”

“As someone who has served for nearly 22 years in the National Guard during my 29-year UPS career, I am one of more than 23,500 military veteran UPS employees,” said Chris Peck, UPS East Region Vice President for Human Resources. “UPS is committed to creating career opportunities for our heroic veterans, and the Congressional Veterans Job Caucus is a great example of how public-private partnerships can strengthen Veterans employment opportunities.”

A full list of Caucus Members, corporate partners, veteran service organizations and other additional information are included on the Caucus’ website here.

Lt. Governor Simon’s Firearms Working Group meets with health care professionals

Posted by Newsroom On February - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Simon, members hear how gun laws intersect with trauma, health care and mental health fields

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon’s Firearms Working Group met with experts in trauma, mental health care, domestic violence prevention and public health fields to learn how gun laws affect quality of life issues.

The working group, comprised of freshmen Senators and Representatives from across the state, is meeting with stakeholders on all sides of the gun safety debate as the General Assembly considers Illinois’ first law to allow Illinoisans to carry concealed firearms.

“The intersection of guns and domestic violence can be tragic,” said Simon, a lawyer who has prosecuted domestic battery cases. “As the General Assembly considers gun legislation, it is important that we balance public safety with our Second Amendment right.”

The working group met with experts from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, the Center for Prevention of Abuse in Peoria, the Illinois Association of Court Clerks and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The meeting comes one day after the House began discussing significant gun reforms, including dozens of firearms-related amendments filed to House Bill 1155. Illinois has until June to pass a law that permits people to carry concealed guns in public spaces.

Currently Illinois is the only state in the nation with a law that bans carrying concealed firearms. The law was declared unconstitutional in December by a three-member panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the state was given 180 days to pass a constitutional law.

Over the next month, the working group will continue meeting with stakeholders on all sides of the debate – from hunters to law enforcement to education professionals – to promote dialogue and work toward consensus on pending legislation. Please visit www.ltgov.il.gov/guns for additional information about the working group.

White incarceration rates increase, Black rates decline

Posted by Newsroom On February - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Race & Justice News

The Sentencing Project

 

The period 2000 to 2010 was one in which prison expansion began stabilizing and, nationally, state prison populations declined for the first time in nearly 40 years. But the trends of the last decade were experienced differently by members of different racial and ethnic groups. A new publication by The Sentencing Project, The Changing Racial Dynamics of Women’s Incarceration, highlights data showing an upward trend in incarceration rates for white men and women during the last decade, and a downturn in rates for black men and women. Among Hispanics, men’s rates declined slightly while women’s rates rose substantially. These trends notwithstanding, people of color continue to be incarcerated at markedly higher rates than whites. For instance, despite a 31% decrease in the incarceration rates of black women and 47% increase in incarceration rates of white women, black women are still incarcerated at 2.8 times the rate of white women.

Reaching every child requires a collective effort

Posted by Newsroom On February - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By Tomeka Hart, Vice President of African American Community Partnerships, Teach For America

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — In the African American community, we know all too well that we cannot be complacent when being overlooked. Whether through first-hand experience or the pages of a textbook, we’ve all in some way witnessed the struggles and triumphs of our underserved lineage in pursuit of equal rights. And while it’s widely known that no civil rights movement has ever succeeded without involvement from the disenfranchised group, what’s less talked about is that they have never succeeded without partnerships.

Black History Month invites us to reflect on our country’s past – when we do, we see that every major victory for marginalized populations has been hard-won by people working alongside others of the same convictions. Compelled by the injustices to their fellow man, Abolitionists and Suffragettes united to help end slavery and to give African Americans the right to vote. Freedom Riders and the NAACP supported each other in their challenge of Jim Crow laws, leading to the defeat of those policies.

It can be easy to believe these struggles are behind us; that in an age of 44 black members of congress and the first black president, equal opportunities are finally available to all. The truth is, the greatest civil rights issue of our time is happening in our own backyards: the inexcusable educational inequity that disproportionately affects students of color and low-income students. According to the Urban Institute’s Low-Income Working Families Project, one-third of low-income African American youth won’t complete high school, and only a third will consistently connect with work or school between ages 18-24. This has nothing to do with these children’s inherent abilities, and everything to do with the educational opportunities presented to them. Our youth deserve an education that prepares them to be anything and everything they can dream of.

As vice president of African American community partnerships for Teach For America, I’m committed to furthering the powerful and lasting alliances we’re rooted in throughout the African American community to ensure more kids have access to the life opportunities afforded by a good education. We’re inspired to see and be part of the incredible work the United Negro College Fund, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Rob Brown Scholar Program, Jackie Robinson Foundation, Sponsors For Educational Opportunity, and others have invested in providing options that will put our kids on different life paths.

We believe educational inequity is a solvable problem, and dedicated teachers across the country are showing us that demographics aren’t destiny. 2011 Mississippi Teacher-of-the-Year Birdie Hughey, a Teach For America alumnus, led her high school algebra class to become the highest scoring students in the district, and among the highest in the state. Kenneth Robinson, also an alumnus, has spent the last twenty-years as a teacher at D.C.’s Hendley Elementary School, investing in the success of both his students and the Hendley community – in 2012, the district honored him with the Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Educators. Both Birdie and Kenneth would be the first to say that these results were due to the collective effort of countless students, parents, teachers, administrators, neighborhood organizations, and invested citizens.

While what’s possible for young African American people today was unfathomable 50 years ago, such opportunities still aren’t reaching every child in every corner of our country. We need to make sure that they do. It will take a lot of hard work and collaboration to ensure that every child lives up to their full potential, but it can be done. Only by working together will the educational playing field finally be leveled.

Tomeka Hart is the vice president of African-American community partnerships at Teach For America.

Ethiopia’s Economy Benefits from Returning Diaspora

Posted by Newsroom On February - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Ethiopia’s Economy Benefits from Returning Diaspora

 

PRI’s The World

By Anders Kelto

 

At a salon in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, customer Erica Kanesa relaxes in a leather chair.

“I’m just doing manicure and pedicure,” she says, leaning her head back while a beautician works on her nails.

Spa businesses in Ethiopia are thriving because the country’s middle class is expanding, and also because of the efforts of one man.

Tadios Getaco Belete was born in Ethiopia, but – like many – he fled in the 1970s when an oppressive communist government took over. He settled in the United States and eventually opened a successful salon in an upscale part of Boston.

After a new Ethiopian government took power, Tadios decided to move home. He says the decision was partly sentimental, but it also made good business sense.

“Anyone with a good smell of business can feel and sense [that] there is an opportunity here,” Tadios says. So he decided to do something that no one in Ethiopia had yet done – open a luxury spa.

“I was the first one, and everyone was laughing at me, ‘You’ll not get any customers,’” he says. “But, surprisingly enough, we had an amazing turnout. Now we have about 89 spas.”

Today, his company employs more than 1,500 people.

“Foreign” Investment – by Ethiopians

African countries often talk about the importance of foreign investment, but Ethiopia is benefiting from a different kind of investment – money brought home from abroad by Ethiopia’s returning diaspora.

You can see the imprint of this investment in the names of businesses, says Ethiopian economist Bisrat Teshome. “For example, the Amsterdam Café – the person is coming from Amsterdam,” he says. He provides other examples: “New York Café, Oslo Café, and Le Parisien.” (And there is Tadios Getaco Belete’s salon company. It’s called Boston Day Spa.)

Bisrat says Ethiopians returning from these places have contributed more than a billion dollars to the economy and have opened more than 2,000 companies.

In some cases, these returning Ethiopians have also changed the local work ethic.

Mekonnen Kidanemariam, an Ethiopian businessman who lived in Canada for much of his life before opening the Addis Regency Hotel in Addis Ababa, says his employees used to avoid hard work. But once they saw him putting in long hours, their attitudes changed.

“When I see their motivation level, from where they were to where they are, it’s very encouraging,” Mekonnen says.

His employees have helped make his hotel very successful. Other hotels are flourishing, too.

But economist Bisrat Teshome says what Ethiopia really needs is for returning businesspeople to put their expertise and money into manufacturing.

“If that money was pumped into the industry sector, then it creates more jobs,” he says.

Bisrat says for the same investment it takes to open a high-end spa, a person could open a factory that would create 10 times as many jobs. He says a factory would also boost trade and create more long-term prosperity for Ethiopia.

Bisrat hopes more returning businesspeople will start turning to things like textiles and leather, not massages and manicures.

Listen to the audio segment at PRI’s The World

CFJC at Northwestern University School of Law receives $750,000 from MacArthur Foundation

Posted by Newsroom On February - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Award honors center on front lines of juvenile justice

 

CHICAGO, IL – The Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC) at the Northwestern University School of Law has received a $750,000 award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in recognition of the Center’s exemplary advocacy for children caught up in the harsh realities of Illinois’ juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Announced today, Feb. 28, the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions was awarded to 13 nonprofits around the world. The award recognizes innovation in tackling persistent problems, and each awardee received a one-time grant as an investment in its future.

See video on Children and Family Justice Center: http://youtu.be/rFhxClAs2yA

CFJC attorneys, social workers, community outreach staff and law students work on the ground daily representing children whose stories drive the major reform efforts represented in the Center’s research, policy proposals and reports.

“We know the children’s lives, their struggles, their stories, and we use that knowledge to educate judges, parole authorities, legislatures and other decision-makers about policies and institutions that far too often fail our children,” said Julie Biehl, director of the Children and Family Justice Center.

At the same time, the Center teaches and mentors the next generation of lawyers and policy advocates through the involvement of Northwestern law students in all aspects of its advocacy.

For 20 years, the Center has represented children in conflict with the law and advocated for policy reform on issues ranging from extreme sentencing of youth and fitness to stand trial to the urgent need to help extremely vulnerable youth transition from incarceration back into society. Eliminating the sentence of life without parole for juveniles is also a major focus of the Center’s reform efforts.

A 15-year-old CFJC client, for example, was sentenced to life in prison without parole despite her young age and extenuating circumstances. Another client with a mental health condition who damaged a ceiling tile at his foster care facility was charged with a felony, and another, a young single mother, was arrested for violating her parole for taking her infant to daycare.

“Center faculty, through their tireless representation and advocacy, have changed juvenile justice in Illinois,” said Daniel Rodriguez, dean of Northwestern University School of Law. “We celebrate this award because it honors the Center’s many accomplishments and will allow it to expand its efforts in the community.”

The foundation does not seek or accept nominations for the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. To qualify, organizations must have relatively modest budgets, demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness and work in an area central to one of the MacArthur Foundation’s core programs. Organizations will use the support to build cash reserves and endowments, develop strategic plans, and upgrade technology and physical infrastructure.

“We are advocates on the front lines of the Illinois juvenile justice system, and we also are educators who help our students develop skills as lawyers,” said CFJC director Biehl.

In turn, Center clients benefit from the talents of Northwestern Law students whose advocacy includes everything from interviewing children, arguing their cases in court and making motions to help them reenter society after prison.

“The Children and Family Justice Center certainly ‘engages with the world’ — a key pillar of Northwestern’s strategic plan — and we are proud of the MacArthur Foundation’s recognition of the difference the Center is making in juvenile justice,” said Northwestern President Morton Schapiro.

The driving motivation for the Children and Family Justice Center is that children should be treated differently than adults in the criminal justice system.

Illinois was the first state to establish a juvenile court that recognized that children should be treated differently in the eyes of the law, but having society understand that critical reality has been a struggle for the last 20 years, Biehl noted.

“There are other ways to rehabilitate and provide consequences for young people who make mistakes that keep the public safe, that are cost effective, that are just, that are humane and that are more efficient,” she said.

That includes helping children get the services they need, for example, if they have substance abuse issues or mental health problems, Biehl said.

The Center is committed to informing and empowering youth and their families through its “Know Your Rights” publications and trainings, which have also been made possible by support from the MacArthur Foundation.

Another Center initiative, also sponsored by the foundation helped create a statewide juvenile defender resource center and network to provide juvenile defense attorneys with opportunities for leadership, education, training and mentoring.

The Center’s casework-informed policy initiatives also have included efforts to end the juvenile death penalty, raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction and address harsh collateral consequences of involvement in the criminal justice system.

The Children and Family Justice Center and the 12 other organizations chosen to receive a  MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions this year are helping to address challenging problems throughout the world.

“From New York to New Delhi, these extraordinary organizations are making a real difference in the lives of people and communities,” said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci. “MacArthur recognizes their importance and impact, and we hope our investment will help ensure that they continue to thrive and to increase their reach in the future.”

 NORTHWESTERN NEWS: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/

Better Business Bureau joins government partners for Consumer Protection event

Posted by Newsroom On February - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) will be featured at the 15th annual National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), March 7th, 2013, from 8:30AM to 3:00PM, in the lobby of the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St. The BBB joins federal, state, and local government agencies and national consumer advocacy organizations at this event. Consumer protection information and brochures will be among the free items available.

 

National Consumer Protection Week focuses on giving consumers the tools they need to make smart financial decisions in today’s marketplace. This information can help people get the most for their money, whether they are trying to stretch their paychecks, find a quick fix for a spotty credit history, or distinguish the difference between a real deal and a potentially fraudulent product or service. 

 

“The Better Business Bureau is proud to be part of this year’s National Consumer Protection Week campaign,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Especially in times like this, information is power and the ability to obtain third party reviews helps consumers to make informed choices. We invite everyone to visit www.bbb.org for tools such as online business reviews and Request a Quote; these free tools can be used to make smart choices in the marketplace.”

 

The BBB offers the following tips on making smart financial decisions:  

  1. Check Them Out. Check out a business before you spend money on any product or service. Visit www.bbb.org to view the BBB’s free Business Review on the company
  2. Three Bid Rule. Obtain bids from three companies and carefully compare before you begin construction or any other type of work on your home or business. Check out the BBB’s Request a Quote to obtain free estimates.
  3. Signing Contracts. Never sign any contract that has blank spots or contains incomplete information about the work to be accomplished.
  4. Beware of Requirements of money for instructions. Jobs that require you to make some type of payment upfront before work begins are typically scams. 
  5. Shred It. Protect yourself against identity theft.  Shred all documents that contain any financial information. Including offers for new credit cards and loans.

The “For Consumers” section of the BBB website (www.bbb.org) provides consumers hundreds of specific, easy-to-understand tips including: how to get a free credit report, how to spot a telemarketing scam, dealing with debt, deterring and detecting identity theft, avoiding auto repair scams, and how to file a consumer complaint with the appropriate authorities. 

 

For more information on consumer safe shopping or National Consumer Protection Week, visit www.bbb.org

 

Immigration Bill threatens jobs for African American professionals

Posted by Newsroom On February - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By Paul E. Almeida
President, Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO

 

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — The so-called Immigration Innovation (I-Squared) Act of 2013 (S.169) would dramatically expand the number of visas for foreign high-tech workers. These visas, called H-1B, are already bad public policy. At a time of record long-term unemployment, the I-Squared bill would only make things worse.

Foreign workers holding H-1B visas displace U.S. workers. An employer does not have to show a shortage of U.S. workers before hiring an H-1B holder.

Meanwhile, the foreign workers are at the mercy of the single employer they come to work for. The result is to avoid hiring U.S. professionals, hold down U.S. wages, and exploit foreign workers.

By increasing the number of H-1B visas, the proposed I-Squared Act will just make things worse. Its damage would extend to all U.S. workers, including African Americans, women, Asian and Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics.

The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) brings together 21 national and international unions that together represent four million professional and technical people. DPE put together two Fact Sheets that explain the issues:

Guest Worker Visas: The H-1B and L-1
www.dpeaflcio.org/programs-publications/issue-fact-sheets/guest-worker-visas-the-h-1b-and-l-1/

Impact of Guest Worker Visas on African American STEM Workers
www.dpeaflcio.org/programs-publications/issue-fact-sheets/impact-of-guest-worker-visas-on-african-american-stem-workers/

 

Minority voter rights at risk in upcoming Supreme Court Ruling

Posted by Newsroom On February - 27 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Minority Voter Rights at Risk in Upcoming Supreme Court Ruling

New America Media

By Khalil Abdullah

Traducción al español

 

Editor’s Note: The Supreme Court hears oral arguments on a lawsuit that could upend Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, one of the country’s leading authorities on voting rights issues, recently convened a teleconference call panel of experts for New America Media to explore what this could mean for minority voters.WASHINGTON, D.C. — Kilmichael, a small town in northern Mississippi, is known to blues aficionados as the place where blues artist B.B. King first began his love affair with the guitar. To voting rights advocates, it’s a place that helps spotlight the ongoing need for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), now facing a challenge to its constitutionality in lawsuit before the Supreme Court.

 

The Court will hear oral arguments on the merits of Shelby County v. Holder on February 27. A decision will most likely be rendered in June before the court’s summer recess.

“When the 2000 Census revealed that the town had become majority black for the first time, the town’s all-white board of aldermen responded by simply trying to cancel all elections in order to prevent African Americans from being elected to office,” explained Dale Ho, Assistant Counsel of the Political Participation Group, NAACP LDF.

Mississippi was, and still is, covered by Section 5, which requires certain states and jurisdictions to submit proposed changes to voting procedures to the U.S. Department of Justice or the Federal District Court in the District of Columbia. The process is called preclearance and determines whether these changes violate constitutional rights or prevent minority voters from participating in a fair election. Under Section 5, DOJ mandated a special election in Kilmichael, resulting in the town’s first African-American elected officials.

Ho cited the Kilmichael episode during a New America Media teleconference briefing on the lawsuit and the negative impact on minority voters if the Supreme Court rules in its favor. Convened by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, among the country’s leading institutional authorities on voting rights issues, the briefing included Myrna Pérez, Senior Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice; Glenn Magpantay, Democracy Program Director, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; and Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Perez termed the VRA “among the most important civil rights laws ever enacted.” It was passed by Congress in 1965 and signed by President Lyndon Johnson as a more robust protection for minority voters, particularly for African Americans in the South, where they have been targets of voter suppression efforts since the end of the Civil War.

Provisions of the VRA, including Section 5, have been extended several times since its initial passage, most recently in 2006 when Congress voted to reauthorize it for another 25 years. The reauthorization vote was 98 to 0 in the Senate; 393 to 30 in House. It was signed into law by President George Bush as it had been under a previous Republican president, Ronald Reagan, in 1982.

In its lawsuit, Shelby County, Al., argues that Congress overstepped its constitutional bounds by voting to extend VRA and Section 5 for another 25 years. “Even if the Court gives weight to all of the evidence in the legislative record, it at most shows scattered and limited interference with Fifteenth Amendment rights in some covered jurisdictions” — not sufficient for the Court to “sustain a remedy so intrusive as preclearance.”

States covered by Section 5 have long chafed at the preclearance process because they consider it a violation of their Tenth Amendment sovereignty rights. If they can show that racial discrimination and Fifteenth Amendment violations are “scattered and limited,” then preclearance should be voided, as Shelby agues, and their sovereignty restored.

“Racial discrimination in voting is sadly a continuing fact of American life,” countered Ho. Citing a DOJ study on Section 2 cases, Ho said, “81% of these successful voting rights lawsuits arise from the covered jurisdictions, which, in turn, are only 25% of the country…On a per capita basis, successful voting rights lawsuits are 12 times more likely to occur in the covered jurisdictions. These are precisely the places that need continuing federal remedies to prevent voting discrimination.”

Glenn Magpantay of AALDEF pointed out that with their high numbers in the states covered by Section 5 Asian Americans have a big stake in the case’s outcome. Through Section 5’s enforcement capacity, for example, voting rights advocates have been able to ensure that states and counties meet bilingual ballot requirements under other VRA provisions.

Redistricting continues to be one of the most contentious issues that impact minority voters. Magpantay cited the intervention by the Department of Justice in Texas where Section 5 was used to prevent the formation of a district that would have blocked Vietnamese voters from electing a candidate of their choice to the legislature.

“For Latinos,” said Nina Perales, “Texas is the poster child for the continuing vitality of Section 5.” The provision has been used to block over 200 discriminatory voting changes there since 1975. Arizona runs a close second. Since 1975 “one or more of Arizona’s statewide redistricting plans has been blocked by Section 5 because of discrimination” against Latino voters, Pareles noted.

The year 1975 was a watershed year for Latinos because the VRA was extended by Congress to cover states in the Southwest in an attempt to help remedy discriminatory practices. “Jim Crow systems in Texas and Arizona segregated Latinos in schools, jobs, and public accommodations well into the Twentieth Century,” Perales recounted. “Latinos were routinely excluded from civic life, including jury duty, voter registration, and voting at the poll.” After the 2010 Census, she noted, a Texas redistricting plan was found to discriminate not only against Mexican Americans, but African Americans and Asians Americans as well.

Ho noted another unique role Section 5 plays — it “stops discriminatory voting laws before they go into effect.” Too often, he explained, when a candidate wins office by using racially discriminatory tactics or through a system skewed in his or her favor, he or she gains the power and advantage of incumbency. Small localities like Kilmichael rarely have the financial resources to embark on lengthy civil litigation, which even if successful, may take one or even two election cycles.

Speakers on the teleconference call generally refrained from speculating about the possible outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling, but said an abundance of evidence, including what occurred during the 2012 election cycle demonstrate the rationale for keeping Section 5 in place.

Lt. Governor Simon responds to House Committee passage of marriage equality legislation

Posted by Newsroom On February - 27 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD , IL – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon thanked the House Executive Committee today for passing marriage equality legislation in a 6-5 vote. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), would provide equal marriage rights to all people throughout Illinois.

“Today’s vote puts Illinois on the verge of making history, becoming a state that treats all people and relationships equally,” Lt. Governor Simon said. “Now is the time for Illinois to become the 10th state in the nation to recognize and protect the rights of all loving couples and their families. I have been a longtime supporter of marriage equality and have worked closely with Sen. Steans, Rep. Harris and members of the House and Senate to send this bill to the Governor and put Illinois on the right side of history.”

Senate Bill 10, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), passed out of the Senate Feb. 14 and now moves to the full House for consideration. If passed by the House, the bill would head to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

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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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