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Archive for March 7th, 2013

Pols respond to Governor Quinn’s proposed budget plan: Raoul says “…budget cries out for pension reform”

Posted by Newsroom On March - 7 - 2013 Comments Off on Pols respond to Governor Quinn’s proposed budget plan: Raoul says “…budget cries out for pension reform”


By Juanita Bratcher


SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon commended Illinois Governor Pat Quinn for proposing a balanced budget plan for fiscal year 2014, however, State Senators Kwame Raoul (D-13) and Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) said the budget falls short in the areas of education and pension reform.

“I commend Governor Quinn for proposing a balanced budget that will help us pay down almost $2 billion in overdue bills and maintain our investment in early childhood education and need-based grants for college students,” said Simon..

‪“My office will continue to advocate for fair K-12 and higher education budgets despite growing pension obligations. My office is committed to sharing in the sacrifice, which is why I return part of my salary to the state and voluntarily cut my budget 14 percent since fiscal year 2012.”

Raoul said the “budget cries out for pension reform. We’ve reached the point where the year’s pension payment outweighs the investment we’re making in educating our children. It’s time for a serious conversation, followed by meaningful action, about stopping the runaway pension train.

“While realizing that past governmental irresponsibility, not hard-working state employees, caused this fiscal nightmare, we nevertheless must stop the bleeding now. Government’s failure to enact fair but sweeping pension reform is hampering our ability to invest in our future and deliver needed services to the people of this great state,” Raoul added.

Said Collins: “We must not allow our children to become sacrificial lambs on the altar of pension inaction. As a legislator, I must be their advocate and voice to fight for adequate and equitable school funding, noting that Quinn’s budget proposal cuts more than $300 million in funding from primary and secondary education.

“If Illinois approves these drastic cuts to education in order to pay our ever-increasing pension liability, we will have won a Pyrrhic victory. Without educated citizens and an educated workforce, we cannot move forward as a nation, and our children will not be able to compete in the global economy.”

Collins said “further cuts to General State Aid – the mechanism the state uses to try to equalize opportunity for children in property-poor districts – will disproportionately punish Illinois’ most vulnerable children, the ones who most desperately need the promise of public education. “For these children, education can mean the difference between a life of success and giving back, and a life of poverty and crime. Lives hang in the balance. Our children are waiting for us to act.”

For the second consecutive year, Simon is reducing her office’s headcount to achieve savings. She will continue to return one day of pay per month to the state and require her senior staff members to take four furlough days within the year.

Simon is a state leader in education and ethics reform. She recently released a report on game changing practices that will make college more affordable for students, and helped draft legislation that would create the strongest financial disclosure law for public servants in 40 years. Simon also chairs the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, key river and military base committees and advocates for domestic and sexual violence prevention.

U.S. Senators Kirk, Manchin continue bipartisan negotiations on criminal background checks

Posted by Newsroom On March - 7 - 2013 Comments Off on U.S. Senators Kirk, Manchin continue bipartisan negotiations on criminal background checks
Senators Kirk and Manchin continue to work with colleagues to carefully tackle details of criminal background check
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) issued a joint statement regarding Senator Chuck Schumer’s current background check proposal:
“We are committed to continuing to work in a bipartisan effort with Senators Schumer, Coburn and others in order to find a commonsense solution for enhanced background checks, however, Senator Schumer‘s current proposal is one we cannot support as it stands today. Our goal is to pass a bill that will close loopholes in the current background check process in a way that does not burden law-abiding citizens. Any bill we support will guarantee that Americans’ Second Amendment rights are clearly protected. We simply want to make sure firearms do not end up in the hands of convicted criminals or people who are deemed mentally unstable by court ruling.
“While the bill Senator Schumer introduced today doesn’t meet this standard, we will continue to work with Senator Schumer, Senator Coburn and other colleagues to find a commonsense compromise.”

Venezuela’s Foreign Policy without Chávez: The end of ALBA?

Posted by Newsroom On March - 7 - 2013 Comments Off on Venezuela’s Foreign Policy without Chávez: The end of ALBA?

Venezuela’s Foreign Policy Without Chávez: The End of ALBA?

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

By W. Alex Sanchez

(A Reprint from New America Media) 


Hugo Chávez Frias, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, passed away on March 5, 2013, due to severe health complications. For at least the past year and half, the Venezuelan head of state had been battling cancer that continued to appear in spite of several surgeries. He traveled to Cuba for a new round of treatment this past December 2012, naming his vice President, Nicolas Maduro, as his successor, should the worst happen.

Now, the question is whether Maduro will respect the country’s constitution and call for new presidential elections within the constitutional period of 30 days. The Venezuelan opposition has not yet elected a candidate, though all eyes are on Henrique Capriles Radonski, who ran and lost to Chávez for the presidency in the October 7, 2012 elections. He was reelected as the governor as the state of Miranda in the recent December 16 regional elections.

Venezuela has had the same president since 1998, with Chávez creating a very particular foreign policy. A critical question will be how will the post-Chávez Venezuelan government organize its relations and initiatives with other states, and how vastly will they differ from Chávez’s vision.


Regarding foreign policy, a critical question is what will become of Chávez’s pet project, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA). This bloc is made up of nations whose presidents were friendly to Chávez, such as Ecuador’s Rafael Correa and Bolivia’s Evo Morales. President Correa recently said that the revolution was larger than one man and would continue even in the event of Chavez’s death. Nevertheless, it is debatable whether any of ALBA’s heads of state, including Maduro, are charismatic enough and have the same interest in the alliance to keep it afloat. Correa was recently reelected and Morales is scheduled to run for a new presidential term in 2014; likely to be reelected. It remains to be seen whether any will be able to carry out Chavez’s vision.

Oil and Petro Caribe

Chávez used oil recourses to not only improve the quality of life of poor Venezuelans, but also as an integral part of his foreign policy. After coming to power, he expelled Western oil companies operating in the country and replaced them with Chinese and Russian based companies. In addition, Venezuela donated millions of barrels of oil to needy Caribbean states, particularly Cuba, but also countries like Trinidad and Tobago.

Without Chávez, it is questionable how Venezuela’s oil will be extracted. Should elections be called for and Capriles Radonski comes to power, would he accept, once again, Western oil companies? Furthermore, even if Maduro continues to govern, will Venezuela continue to provide such high quantities of oil, essentially as gifts, to Cuba and other regional states?

Venezuela-U.S. relations

Finally, an important consideration will be the Caracas-Washington relationship be in the coming years, having been shaped mainly around the personalities of their leadership in the past decade. For example, US Venezuela relations were fairly strained while Chávez and George W. Bush were in power. Chávez went as far as memorably calling Bush “the devil” during a UN conference in New York. When Barack Obama was elected President, there was a general feeling that relations would improve. Indeed, Obama and Chávez met during a summit of the Americas, with both leaders shaking hands and Chávez giving the American head of state a book as a gift. While relations during Chávez and Obama’s first presidential term did not worsen, neither did they improve as desired. One complicated factor was the U.S. maintenance of the Cuban embargo. Chávez regarded Fidel Castro as his mentor. The U.S. also prevented Cuba from attending the April 2012 Summit of the Americas in Colombia, with Cuba’s allies protesting the decision.

Without Chávez, how will Washington-Caracas relations be affected? Obviously, much will have to do with whether Maduro remains in power or Capriles enters the presidency. Maduro may end up not being as hardlined as Chávez while Capriles may seek improved relations with Washington for economic reasons.


Venezuela in the post Chávez era will certainly look different than when he was alive: the question is how different. Will Maduro, who rose up the ranks from bus driver to become foreign minister and vice president, remain faithful to his mentor’s socialist vision? Or will Capriles, or another opposition candidate, win the presidency and take the country in a different direction, potentially making it resemble Venezuela’s pre-Chávez era?

A critical aspect of Venezuela’s post Chávez government is how its foreign policy will be structured. During his tenure, Chávez determined much of Venezuela’s foreign policies in accordance with his ideologies. It will be of interest to see whether the ministry of foreign affairs and its diplomatic corps will have more impact on future policies.

W. Alex Sanchez is a Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

48-years ago today, Alabama cops beat and tear gassed Blacks seeking right to vote

Posted by Newsroom On March - 7 - 2013 Comments Off on 48-years ago today, Alabama cops beat and tear gassed Blacks seeking right to vote


By Chinta Strausberg


It is 48-years ago today that Alabama state troopers and their sheriff deputies unleashed their dogs, tear gassed and slug civil rights activists with Billy clubs all because they were marching for the right to vote—something today blacks take for granted and many times won’t even exercise their right to vote.

Many African Americans seem oblivious to the blood that was shed so that we could cast our votes today, or perhaps they do not care. What has happened to black people in just 48-short years that many don’t seem to have a soul, run from a social justice cause, wear pants below their butts and equate a gun, a weapon of mass destruction, to their manhood. What has happened to our people and what will it take to wake them up?

During 1965, it was a politically hot and even dangerous era. Back then, even some whites were killed marching for our right to vote—people like Rev. James Reeb, who was born on January 1, 1927 and died March 11, 1965 fighting to protect the Civil Rights of African Americans.

On March 7, 1965 Rev. Reeb, who was white, responded to a call by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for protesters in Selma, Alabama. Rev. Reeb, who was accompanied by two other ministers, made a wrong turn as they walked in Selma and was beaten by racists who called the “n” word.

At the Birmingham hospital, Rev. Reeb was told he had to have $150 to see a neurosurgeon, and to add insult to injury when he was in the ambulance going to the hospital; the truck had a flat tire. Rev. Reeb died hours later but his death ratcheted the support for the Civil Rights protesters.

But when Deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson, 25, a black man, was killed while trying to defend his mother who was being beaten by police at a café where protesters run for safety, his death was all but ignored. They had begun a voting rights protest march when the streetlights went off and Billy club carrying white cops attacked them. While one policeman held Jackson down another cop shot him in the stomach. He later died.

Born 1925, Viola Gregg Liuzzo, 36, a white suburban Detroit mother of 5, was killed by the KKK in 1965 as she was going to pick up more Freedom Riders. In recent years, I met one of her sons who spoke at Rainbow PUSH where he reflected on his mother and her passion to help others.

And, 48-years ago, there was the little known Oneal Moore, a black 34-year-old Army veteran born in 1931 who was killed by nightriders in 1965.  Moore was one of the first black deputies in Washington, D.C. After getting off work, his car was hit by a volley of bullets killing him. His death promoted the Deacons for Defense to station black-armed guards in African American neighborhoods.

These are a few of our ancestors or allies who died fighting for us to have the right to vote today. There should be no reason for African Americans not to come out on election day like they did in 2008 and this should be for every election.

We stand on the shoulders of a rainbow of people who literally died for the rights we take for granted every day. Yet we stay at home on Election Day oblivious of the past where African American and whites were shot up or clubbed to death…those who died protesting for our right to vote.

I now understand why my uncle, Milton B. Olive II, told his son, Milton Lee Olive III, to go back to school, get a job or join the military. You see, Skipper, as my family called him, had dropped out of school in Chicago and had gone to Mississippi to help the Freedom Fighters register blacks to vote.

Skipper’s dad was afraid that the KKK would kill his only child so he ordered him back home. After all, it was ten-years since Emmitt Till’s heinous murder took place in Money, Miss, and Uncle Olive didn’t want his son to be another statistic.

That was why Skipper’s father, who had given his son three choices to make, was in total shock when he learned about the death of his highly-decorated son who had chosen to die in order to save four of his comrades, two blacks and two whites.  Skipper spotted a live grenade, placed it on his stomach allowing the device to explode. Little did Uncle Milton know his son would become a military statistic?

So you see all of these modern day voter registration schemes like requiring ID that were fueled by the GOP are designed to roll back the clock on Civil Rights. Now, we have the U.S. Supreme Court poised to vote on whether we need a Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which is in effect until 2031, or not because they think we are living in a post-racial era. Section 5 prevents certain states, mostly in the South, from changing voting procedures prior to getting federal approval.

Don’t fall asleep at the switch and wake up too late to hit a brick wall because that is where the black community is going. Each has to take the responsibility to fight against internal and external violence, to hold elected officials accountable remain united and encourage each other to exercise his or her right to vote. There has to be a civil bonding and a rebirth of brotherhood in the black community for without, we all will die physically and psychologically.

So, 48-years-ago today, Alabama cops beat and tear gassed African Americans and whites fighting for the right to vote. Where are you today or do you care about your brother?

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.


Bruce Rauner forms Exploratory Committee for Illinois Governor

Posted by Newsroom On March - 7 - 2013 Comments Off on Bruce Rauner forms Exploratory Committee for Illinois Governor


Begins 60-day “Listening Tour” Across State


Illinois business and civic leader Bruce Rauner officially announced that he is actively considering a run for Governor in 2014.  Rauner, a Republican, filed papers with the Illinois State Board of Elections cr eating an exploratory campaign committee that will allow him to begin fully exploring a candidacy.

Rauner’s initial effort will not be a formal or traditional campaign.  After spending several months talking with local and national leaders in business, education reform, and politics, and crisscrossing the state attending Lincoln Day Dinners and other events, Rauner is now entering a more intense period of consideration of a potential candidacy.  For the next 60 days, Rauner will significantly increase his events and meetings, while looking to make a final determination on a candidacy well in advance of the March, 2014 primary election.

Rauner commented:  “I was born and raised in Illinois.  I’ve raised my family and grown businesses here.  And I love our state.  That’s why it’s so heartbreaking to see the mess we’re in.  Near the bottom in the nation in unemployment and tax rates.  Worst in the country in debt and credit ratings.  Rampant corruption in government.  Failing schools and violent crime that destroy the future of too many of our children.  We need major changes in the way we tax and spend, the way we treat businesses and workers, the way we deal with our state budget and pensions, and the way we run our schools.  The political class in Springfield are either unwilling to, or incapable of, making the kind of changes we need.  That’s why I’m considering running for Governor.”

Rauner continued:  “I have a few ideas that I’m very passionate about, but I don’t have all the answers.  I want to hear what’s on Illinoisans’ minds.  For the next sixty days I’m going to do something folks in Springfield don’t do – listen.  I want to listen to how our citizens think we should tackle our state’s problems.  That’s the first step in reclaiming our state – engaging our people, listening to ideas, and hearing about things I don’t know.  In the process, I hope to figure out whether our people might be interested in a candidate for Governor who is a self-made entrepreneur rather than a politician, who has a passion for education, and a track record of getting results in business and the economy.”

Rauner also released a list of 20 individuals who are members of the Rauner Exploratory Committee.  That list is below.

Exploratory Committee Chairman Jim Schultz, from Effingham, former Chairman of the Board of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, said, “Bruce Rauner has the economic know-how, the leadership skills, and the passion for reform we desperately need in Springfield.  If there ever was a time when state government needed a breath of fresh air, it is now, and it is Bruce Rauner.”

Exploratory Committee Member Jack Roeser, from Carpentersville, Republican Party leader, said, “Politicians come and go without making much of a change to the status quo.  Illinois needs a major economic transformation, and that’s what we’d get with Bruce Rauner.  He has the backbone to stand up to the status quo powerbrokers in Springfield.  Rauner doesn’t need the job, and can’t be bribed, bought, or pushed around.  That’s what our state needs now.”

Rauner’s listening tour starts this week in Morton and Okawville and it will take him to every corner of Illinois.

Background on Bruce Rauner

Bruce Rauner was born and raised in Illinois.  His grandfather was a Swedish-speaking, small-town dairyman; he taught Bruce about fishing, hunting and the value of hard work. Bruce’s first job was flipping burgers, his second job was parking cars.  A hard working and good student, Bruce worked while he attended Dartmouth College, where he graduated with top honors, and earned an M.B.A. from Harvard.

Returning to Illinois, in 1981, Bruce began working at then-start up investment company Golder, Thoma, Cressey (later GTCR).  As one of its earliest partners, Bruce was able to help build the firm into one of the most successful businesses in Illinois.

Bruce and his wife Diana are leading figures in many community and charitable activities in Illinois. Chief among them are support of public education and education reform, including the movement to expand charter schools and support teacher training.

Bruce is an avid outdoorsman.  He and his six children enjoy fly-fishing, bird hunting, and skiing.  He also likes to ride his Harley and drive his 22-year old camper van.

Bruce has never run for office before.  He has raised a family and built a successful business in the state he loves.  Heartbroken and outraged by Illinois’ current standing among the worst in the nation in jobs, debt, taxes, credit rating, crime, and public education, Rauner has formed an Exploratory Committee to gauge support for a possible run for Governor.

Exploratory Committee
Chairman:  J.M. “Jim” Schultz, Effingham, IL – Founder of Open Prairie Ventures, Former Chairman Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Founder/Past President Effingham County Community Foundation, and Board Member/Past Chairman Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation.

Co-Chair:  Elizabeth Christie, Chicago, IL— Founder of Avent America, angel investor in small start-ups, Board Member of the Illinois Policy Institute.

Dr. Richard Chaifetz, Lake Forest, IL – Founder, Chairman and CEO of ComPsych Corporation, the world’s largest employer of employee assistance programs serving over 53 million individuals throughout the U.S. and 120 countries, Chairman of Chaifetz Group, member of The Economic Club of Chicago, and the Executive’s Club of Chicago.

Lula Ford, Chicago, IL – Former Chicago public school teacher, principal and administrator, and public school reform activist, was also first African American appointed to the Illinois Commerce Commission in its 95-year history.

Ken Griffin, Chicago, IL – Founder and CEO of Citadel, Board of Directors of the Chicago Public Education Fund, member of the World Economic Forum, G100, the Economic Club of Chicago and Commercial Club of Chicago.

Greta Huzienga, Chicago, IL – Former Chicago public high school teacher and early childhood educator, Development Advisor to the Academy for Global Citizenship.

Warren Holtsberg, Wayne, IL – MVC Capital, Board member of the Illinois Venture Capital Association, the Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Center, and Illinois Ventures, the venture capital arm for the University of Illinois.

Edgar “Ned” Jannotta, Sr., Winnetka, IL – Chairman Emeritus of William Blair, past President of the Economic Club of Chicago and The Commercial Club of Chicago.

James Kenny, Glenview, IL – Former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, former owner of Kenny Construction, served on transition team for former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar and President George W. Bush.

Robert E. King, Burr Ridge, IL – Chairman Rasmussen, Inc., Former Chairman and CEO of Deltak, Board Member of Benedictine University, The Academy of Urban School Leadership, the African Wildlife Foundation and Northwestern Wildcat Athletics Venture Enterprise Fund and Member of the Commercial Club of Chicago.

Peter Mason, Hinsdale, IL – Founding member of Freeborn & Peters and Chairman of the Executive Committee.

Ed McMillan, Greenville, IL – Former President & CEO Purina Mills, University of Illinois Board of Trustees, and Chairman University of Illinois Research Park LLC.

Jack Miller, Bannockburn, IL – Founder of Quill Office Supplies and The Jack Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History.

Charles Potter, Lake Forest, IL – President and CEO of Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, Founder and Chairman Great Outdoors, LLC and former Vice President of the North American Wildlife Foundation and Chairman of the IL Nature Preserves Commission.

Jack Roeser, Carpentersville, IL – Founder of Otto Engineering, named Hi-Tech Entrepreneur of the Year, built 500 person hi-tech manufacturing business from a $5,000 start; public school reform activist.

E. Mitchell Roob, Jr. Indianapolis, IN – Native of Northbrook, IL and former Indiana Secretary of Commerce and Indiana Economic Development Corporation CEO who led bringing 55,000 new jobs and $8.1 billion in investments to Indiana in his term.

John Rowe, Chicago, IL – Former CEO of Exelon Corporation, Chairman of Illinois Institute of Technology.

William H. Strong – Co-Chief Executive for the Asia Pacific region of Morgan Stanley, led economic mission to Iraq in 2008 for the Department of Defense, past member of the Board of Visitors of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Illinois Finance Chairman for the Presidential campaign of Senator John McCain in 2008, and served as one of two National Co-Chairmen for the 2012 Presidential campaign of Governor Tim Pawlenty.

David Weinberg, Winnetka, IL – Chairman and CEO of Judd Enterprises.

Miles White, Lake Forest, IL – Chairman and CEO of Abbott Laboratories, Chairman of the Commercial Club of Chicago, serves as a Director for McDonalds, Caterpillar and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

African-American Pastors unite to demand minimum wage increase and announce formation of Social Justice Coalition

Posted by Newsroom On March - 7 - 2013 Comments Off on African-American Pastors unite to demand minimum wage increase and announce formation of Social Justice Coalition

African-American faith leaders from Chicago and across the state of Illinois held a press conference yesterday to announce their support of a minimum wage increase in Illinois to help working families in their congregations and communities. They also announced the formation of “Faith In Action,” a coalition of socially conscious religious leaders and parishioners, affiliated with the community organization Action Now, fighting for change in their communities.

The press conference was held at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th Street, in Chicago.

Pastors in African-American communities are alarmed by the negative effects that low-wage jobs, school closings, violence and foreclosures have had on the members of their congregations and communities. These religious leaders have decided to unite in the fight for social justice by forming a group called “Faith In Action.” They have decided that their first priority is to advocate for a raise in the minimum wage in Illinois.

Dr. Joel Miles, Senior Pastor at Greater Walters AME Zion Church said, “I, like many other individuals across this city, am tired of the senseless violence that has taken the lives of so many individuals in our community. We have seen individuals turn to illegal and violent activity simply because they were unable to pay their rent or provide their children with basic food and clothing.”

Leaders of the 4th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church have signed on to a letter to legislators stating:

“We strongly encourage you to raise the Illinois minimum wage so that working families on the bottom of the economic ladder may be able to move one step closer to lifting themselves out of poverty. This increase will be good for our economy, good for working families and good for our state.”

The following faith leaders were scheduled speakers at the press conference:

Dr. Otis Moss, Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of God

Dr. Joel Miles, Senior Pastor of Greater Walters AME Zion Church

Nathanial Waddles, Senior Pastor of Kendrick Memorial Baptist Church

Reverend Albert Tyson, Presiding Elder of the 4th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Reverend Valerie Parker, Director of Social Action of the 4th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Having a nostalgia moment about Maxwell Street? You can still get in on the game

Posted by Newsroom On March - 7 - 2013 Comments Off on Having a nostalgia moment about Maxwell Street? You can still get in on the game


By Pamela Bratcher-McMillan
President, Chair & CEO, of PETAL et al.


Remember the days when Maxwell Street was in its prime? There were rows of vendors setting up on the weekends during early morning hours to ensure that they got the best spot or the usual spot where regulars knew they could be found. You could purchase just about anything imaginable there, from food and clothing, to shoes and toys, and to electronics, cameras, furniture, appliances and musical instruments, etc.

While walking down the vendor’s created isles with limited space, one could hear the loud sounds of laughter and talk by potential buyers looking for a good deal. They were involved in some serious haggling with vendors, trying to get a good price on various items they had an interest in.

The smell of hot dogs and polish sausages permeated the air and had a way of whetting the appetite, forcing buyers to seek out food places where the scents were coming from. It was a collectors’ paradise. If shoppers put in a little time in the area they could run across many unusual and unthinkable treasures.

Some watched as vendors cleared items they had cleared away from their homes or located at yard and estate sales. Their wholesalers were often the Salvation Army, Good Will and thrift stores. This was during the pre-internet years, long before Ebay and Craigslist came on the scene.

My interest in Maxwell Street, as well as many others, was swap meets. My favorite passion was to collect old View Master Reels, projectors and viewers. I was obsessed with the world that existed in those little circular wheels with 2D films that gave one the impression of 3D viewing while looking through those little brown nicely weighted viewers – not like the brightly colored ones of today that are designed to appeal to children.

If you never had the chance to experience the start-up businesses of the past, Ma and Pa strips that often grew into brick and mortar shops, check out the new Maxwell Street on Desplaines (http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/maxwell_street_market.html). Or if you want a little nostalgia with something extra, check out the Southside Maxwell Street Rhythm and Blues Marketplace in Chicago Heights (http://www.maxwellstreetblues.com). You can enjoy the sound of live blues or have an authentic Maxwell Street lunch or dinner.

Want to get in on the game? You can set up a booth or table from $25.00-$50.00 and start selling stuff.

Pamela Bratcher-McMillan is a technology Expert and President, Chair & CEO, of PETAL et al.

Jobs, Pensions take center stage; week ahead features Governor’s Budget Address

Posted by Newsroom On March - 7 - 2013 Comments Off on Jobs, Pensions take center stage; week ahead features Governor’s Budget Address



From the Illinois State House


Tom Cross

House Republican Leader, State Representative, 97th District


Another activity-filled week in Springfield had some encouraging highlights, including the introduction of a bold Jobs package to restore the strength of the Illinois economy and help jumpstart private-sector employment. There’s no question that jobs and the economy continue to be our # 1 priority, going hand-in-hand with reducing government spending and achieving consensus on a bipartisan plan to restore our state pension systems to long-term stability.

This week, the Governor is scheduled to deliver his annual budget address to a joint session of the General Assembly, outlining his priorities for the coming year. Stay tuned for more on that.

First, let’s take a look back at the past week and all the latest developments. Here then is our “Week in Review”!

P.S. Be sure to check out Sunday’s Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times editorials endorsing our bipartisan pension reform plan.



  • New Cross-Nekritz bill aimed at right-sizing Illinois budget, bridging gaps between various Springfield “pension fix” proposals.   The Illinois General Assembly failed in 2012 to enact a badly needed “pension fix” to help deal with the accumulated actuarial deficit of more than $96 billion in the five State-managed pension systems, but House Republican Leader Tom Cross and a Democratic House member, Elaine Nekritz, developed a working relationship to fight for a bipartisan solution.  While many challenges remain, a bill filed on Tuesday, February 26 – HB 3411 (Cross) – is seen as offering a way out of the dilemmas created by the State’s ongoing, unsustainable pension commitments.   Enactment of HB 3411, as introduced, is expected to reduce State spending commitments by an estimated $2 billion/year.  Pledging to move toward 100% pension funding by 2043, the bill creates a new “Tier 3” pension system for State employees hired on or after January 1, 2014. The Tier 3 system moves part way toward the defined-contribution model that is already in wide use among U.S. private-sector employers.  Employees, vested employees, and retirees in Tiers 1 and 2 will see adjustments to their pension benefits.   Nekritz is a top-ranking, hyphenated co-sponsor of Cross’s HB 3411.  


  • Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) finds declining research and development investments in Chicago area.   CMAP, the intergovernmental agency asked by State and federal law to look at economic changes in the Chicago area, reported on Wednesday, February 27 that the area continues to support 580,000 jobs directly tied to manufacturing – including 375,000 people employed directly by manufacturers.  However, ongoing movement of industrial research and development from greater Chicago to California and the Northeast threaten these jobs.  CMAP warns of a continuation of the lost-jobs trend of the past decade.  About one-third of the Chicago-area manufacturing jobs that existed in 2001 were gone by 2011.  CMAP urged the State and its universities to expand its program of public-private partnerships to serve as “incubators” for new research and development.   A 2011 House Republican bill, HB 1876 (Cross/Holmes) led to the recent creation of UI Labs, a new Chicago-based partnership “think tank” that could be a model for further collaborations of this kind.

Economic growth

  • Led by Dwight Kay (R-Edwardsville), House Republicans announce plan to restore employment opportunities to Illinois.  Reforms to Illinois workers’ compensation law, tax structure, spurring private-sector research and development, reducing unnecessary State rules, speeding up State licenses and permits, and cutting application and filing fees were key elements of the growth-oriented  package unveiled on Monday, February 25.  Key bills in the package were HB 107 (Kay), HB 2230 (Kay), HB 2890 (Kay), HB 2891 (Kay), and HB 2892 (Kay).   Under current law, almost any injury assigned by a worker and a physician to work-related causes is defined as a workers’ compensation injury and compensated accordingly – even if the injury was caused by some other chain of events.  The January 2012 income tax increase continues to drive jobs away from Illinois to other and neighboring states, and the costs of key job-creation legal filings, such as the incorporation of a limited liability company (LLC), are some of the highest in the U.S.   The Kay/Republican package throws a spotlight on these job-unfriendly existing Illinois laws.    


  • Key “concealed carry” language tentatively approved by majority of House members.  After a lengthy debate over various facets of issues involving the Second Amendment rights of Illinoisans, a majority of the elected members of the Houseapproved language on Tuesday, February 26 to authorize Illinois residents to apply for, and receive, a license from the Illinois State Police to enable them to carry and possess a handgun or other concealable firearm on their person while walking on a sidewalk or other “public way,” and on or near their person when driving a motor vehicle on a street or highway.  Under current Illinois law this activity, for most Illinois residents, is the criminal offense of “unlawful use of a weapon,” but the decision by a federal appellate court to strike down Illinois’ UUW law (a decision later affirmed by the full Seventh Circuit appellate court) has strongly encouraged the Illinois General Assembly to take another look at this issue.  The vote on House Amendment #27 to HB 1155 was 67-48-0.  This vote signaled bipartisan majority support for the concealed-carry provisions of the amended bill, which has not yet come up for a vote on Third Reading.   

Health care

  • State Senate expands Medicaid to match guidelines created by nationwide Obamacare rules.  Enactment of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) in 2010 opened the door for a series of federal rulemakings that created guidelines for state Medicaid expansion.  The Illinois Senate action, approved on Thursday, February 28 by a partisan roll call vote of 40-19, will expand Medicaid eligibility to bring in residents with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line ($31,800 for a family of four).   Many of these residents had previously been ineligible for Medicaid.   The State-funded health care program is already Illinois’ largest healthcare insurer, with nearly 2.8 million enrolled residents; the expansion would add an estimated 342,000 new beneficiaries.   Critics pointed out that proponents of the expansion were unable to finalize estimates of the total budgetary cost of this expansion to Illinois.  The Medicaid expansion measure (SB 26) moved this week to the House for further consideration.        


  • New legal rules offer some additional protections to homeowners going through foreclosure.  The new rules adopted by the Illinois Supreme Court will add to the requirements imposed upon lenders when they file papers with a court seeking judgment of foreclosure.  The new rules will require the lender to file an affidavit setting forth various recourses that they have offered to a homeowner as an alternative to going ahead with the foreclosure filing and procedure.  The lender must affirm that they have explained the foreclosure process to the homeowner, and must clearly explain any loan modification processes that they have offered or are prepared to offer as an alternative to foreclosure.  Nothing in these new rules will prevent the foreclosure of a property if a borrower has violated the terms of the mortgage; the rules will standardize the communications that the lender must send to the borrower prior to the foreclosure taking place.   Under the separation of powers, the Supreme Court (not the legislature) adopts rules of procedure governing  the conduct of judges in the circuit and appellate courts.  The new rules were set forth on Friday, February 22.

State government

  • Amid strike talk, reports circulate of labor settlement between State of Illinois and AFSCME union.  Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, usually called AFSCME, represents more than 35,000 employees of the state of Illinois.  This includes more than 82 percent of the workers that are employed in offices that report to Gov. Quinn.   State workers have been working without a contract since June 30, 2012.   Quinn originally demanded that AFSCME and other State-worker labor unions submit to significant wage cuts and concessions in health insurance.  After these demands were rejected, Quinn’s leadership team entered what are reported to have been acrimonious negotiations with union leaders.  A tentative settlement, with sealed terms, was announced on Thursday, February 28.  Terms of the settlement had not been announced as of “Week In Review” press time, but it was believed that State employees and retirees would be required to submit to significant cuts in health-care benefits, including sizable co-payments that workers and retirees would be required to pay.  Sizable co-payments for health and dental care are already familiar realities to most workers and retirees in Illinois’ private sector.


  • Another major tax increase hits Illinois, as Democrat-led Cook County implements $1.00/pack cigarette tax hike.  The increase will raise the estimated Chicago cost of a legally-purchased pack of cigarettes about $11/pack, roughly equivalent to the price paid in New York City and among the highest price charged for this commodity anywhere in the world.  Buyers of legally-purchased packs of cigarettes in Chicago will pay $6.67/pack in taxes alone.   While the tax increase is expected to raise some money for Cook County’s unbalanced budget, county board President Toni Preckwinkle described the increase on Thursday, February 28, 2013 as a public health move designed to discourage smokers and potential smokers, particularly younger adults.  Observers predicted the move would further encourage continuing cigarette users to purchase tobacco outside of Cook County, especially in nearby northwestern Indiana (where prices will be roughly $3/pack less than in Chicago).  Cigarette smuggling may also increase.


  • House committee narrowly approves same-sex marriage law, sets measure for debate by full House.  SB 10, which is called the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” would direct Illinois’ county clerks to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Proponents say that nothing in the proposed law would place mandates on places of religious worship.  The controversial measure, which was heard on Tuesday, February 26 in the Democrat-controlled House Executive Committee, got 6 “yes” votes, barely enough to be reported out of the eleven-member committee.  The committee vote was 6-5-0, with all four House Republican members voting “no” against the bill.  Nine states have enacted some form of same-sex marriage, and 41 states (including Illinois) do not allow it.

OORadio announces internationally acclaimed presenters for 2013 Conference on Community, Family & Marriage

Posted by Newsroom On March - 7 - 2013 Comments Off on OORadio announces internationally acclaimed presenters for 2013 Conference on Community, Family & Marriage

The 2013 Conference on Community Family & Marriage has an international and widely respected group of presenters, including Abiodun Oyewole, founding member of globally recognized group The Last Poets, Wellness Coach Queen Afua, Ayize and Aiyana Ma’at, founders of BlackLoveandMarriage.com and Iyalorisa Amma Oloriwaa! Of Egbe Iwa Odo’kurin, Egbe Iwa Odo’birin, as well as others.

Fayetteville, NC (BlackNews.com) — In an effort to continue forging the path to identify solutions to problems that effect African-American communities, families and marriages, OORadio (www.ooradio.com) will host the 2013 Conference on Community Family & Marriage at the Metropolitan Room, 109 Green Street in Fayetteville, NC 28311 on April 5-7, 2013. This three day gathering is designed to serve as a platform for healing and developing an avenue to usher in collective resolutions and healthy dialogue between sexes, generations and cultures. Become a part of this powerful, exciting and enjoyable event.

Conference admission includes a Meet & Greet, 1 ½ days of workshops, panels and discussions, rituals, entertainment, 2 lunches and the African Glitz and Glamor Gala: An evening of elegance which will include dinner, entertainment and dancing. For information about the 2013 Conference on Community Family & Marriage please visit www.ooradio.com or call 410-65RADIO (410-657-2346).

“The creative process during the development of the specific conference was a very spiritual one. Our African-American community is experiencing an epidemic by astounding measures in the areas of divorce, unhealthy and abusive relationships, or the lack of family structure. The ultimate goal of this conference is to provide the community solutions to usher in the spirit of healing, unify, find solutions and give tools that will allow building better relationships that will restore our communities and families.” — Osaremi Lanloke, Founder of OORadio

Sponsors: Queen Afua Wellness Institute (Gold Sponsor), Egbe Ajuba Egungun (Gold Sponsor), Omo Obatala Egbe, Inc (Bronze Sponsor), Orisha Connect (Bronze Sponsor) and World Domination Network (Media Sponsor).

About OORadio

OORadio, based in Fayetteville, North Carolina, provides quality radio programming centered around educating and serving as a platform to discuss topics that affect and plague the African community, such as the lack of effective conflict resolution, the incorporation of beneficial traditional African values and adopting a holistic approach to health and wellness to name a few. OORadio is a forum designed to educate, unite and empower Afrikan descendants worldwide.

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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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