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Archive for March 12th, 2013

Gardner seeks fair slice of $90 mil contract for blacks in building Chicago Vocational Career Academy High School

Posted by Newsroom On March - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By Chinta Strausberg

When business icon Ed Gardner attends today’s Chicago Public Building (PBC) Commission’s board meeting, he will be demanding to know what percentage of the $90 million contract to build a trade school at the Chicago Vocational Career Academy High School (CVCA) will go to African Americans.

For the 87-year-old former Soft Sheen and housing giant, who came out of retirement last year to fight for jobs and contracts for blacks, today’s meeting will be all about accountability and fairness in the contract-letting process. Gardner works closely with the Coalition of African American Leaders (C.O.A.L.) chaired by Clarence Wood.

“The Board of Education is considering appointing a group called DLR to provide the architects to do the rehab work at the CVCA,” said Gardner. “Once you decide who he architect is he in turn will have the responsibility of inspecting general contractors and will assign the sub-contractors.” Gardner said Ald. Harris “has tried to fight with the PBC to be sure that black architects get a chance to do the architectural work and black contractors” are included.

The PBC, which is chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, will be held at 2:30 p.m. today in the second floor conference room at the Daley Center. CVCA opened in 1940 with 850 students as an all-male vocational school controlled by the U.S. Navy in 1941 with the beginning of WW II, according to Wikipedia. In 1942, classes were reportedly taught 24-hours a day for the convenience of working students. In 1946, the school went coed.

Both Gardner and Trotter want to know what is the push back on including African Americans on this $90 million school project. He credited Senator Trotter for getting the funds passed for this project. Gardner said the PBC wants to decide who will get the contracts.

“We feel unless we step up to the plate, then black contractors will not get their share of that $90 million public works project,” Gardner said. He has plenty of questions he’s demanding answers to like who are the black architects on this project? What percent of the architects will be black? What black firms will be involved with the construction management?

“Who will get that $90 million of construction work? What is the community-hiring plan for the project and who will monitor it? Who will be the local black contractors utilizing plan and who will monitor that”? Asked Gardner. “Too often we have had to stand by and watch Latino’s and white working in the middle of our community and we not get our share of the business,” Gardner said.

The South Side school is home to such alumni as the king of comedy, Bernie Mac, Keena Turner, former NFL linebacker now vice president of Football Affairs for the 49ers, College Hall of Famer Chris Zorich, former NFL linebacker, former Chicago Bears super star, NBA star Juwan Howard and many others.

The massive project for the high school, located at 2100 East 87th St. that is formerly called CVS, is the brainchild and political muscle of Senator Donne E. Trotter (D-17th) who is working closely with Ald. Michelle Harris (8th).

With such a rich history and located in a nearly all-black community, both Gardner and Senator Trotter want to be sure that the state dollars are equitably spent and that African Americans received a large slice of that contractual pie.

Giving the history of this historic project was Senator Trotter who said originally $75 million was appropriated out of the $31 billion capital budget passed in Springfield three-years ago for the construction of the trade school at CVCA. In the three-years since the bill was passed, Trotter said, “these dollars have been sitting there waiting for the CPS to come up with a plan, that $75 million is now $90 million based on inflation.

“I’ve gotten a commitment for an additional $15 million” for a total of $90 million to cover the rise in costs of labor and skill, Senator Trotter said. Trotter said he included language in the bill that specifically says the money can only be used “for anything else except the retrofitting of the school in the CPS and only at CVCA.

“The issue is with the CPS, the mayor and the CBC,” Trotter said explaining. When asked what does he want for this project, Senator Trotter said, “We want minorities participation on this project and not just oversight. We want to see people contracted, doing that work all the way through to the architectures to workers on the site itself,” he said.

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.

Attorney General Madigan recognizes Sunshine Week, details 2012 requests to Public Access Bureau

Posted by Newsroom On March - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – In recognition of Sunshine Week, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan released details of the more than 3,400 new matters received by her office’s Public Access Bureau in 2012. The Public Access Bureau monitors compliance with the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Open Meetings Act (OMA), working to foster transparency and openness in Illinois government.

“This report details the progress that has been made thus far under the first three years of the new sunshine laws,” Madigan said. “These strengthened provisions have put Illinois on a path toward increased transparency. But while I am encouraged by the progress we have made, I remain committed to continuing our work to help restore the public’s confidence in government.”

In 2012, the Public Access Counselor’s office increased the number of binding opinions it issued in a year. The authority to issue binding administrative opinions was one of the key components to the 2010 overhaul of the state’s transparency laws led by Madigan, state officials and open government advocates. In addition to issuing binding opinions, the Public Access Counselor also helped thousands of members of the public, media organizations and advocacy groups resolve disputes over records and open meetings through informal mediation with public bodies that has led to increased disclosure of government information.

In addition to its enforcement efforts, the Public Access Counselor also expanded its education efforts. In 2012, more than 72,000 public officials were trained, a marked increased from the 29,000 officials trained in 2011. The increase is a result of a recent change in the law aimed at improving understanding and compliance by requiring more public officials to undergo annual online training on their responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act.

2012 Public Access Bureau Activities

In 2012, the Public Access Counselor received 3,407 new matters. Though this number decreased from 2011, the office attributed the decline to the elimination in 2011 of a requirement that public bodies seek pre-authorization with the Public Access Counselor before denying certain records under FOIA.

Last year’s numbers once again show that members of the public, rather than media representatives, are the most prolific users of Illinois’ sunshine laws. In fact, records show an increase in the number of members of the public who appealed to the Public Access Counselor in 2012 for help in obtaining public records or gaining access to government meetings.

  • 3,407 total new matters received by the Public Access Bureau:
  • 3,119 requests for PAC review from those who were denied records under FOIA:
    • 2,507 from members of the public,
    • 513 from the media, and
    • 99 from public bodies.
  • 288 requests for PAC review regarding OMA violations:
    • 221 from members of the public,
    • 52 from the media, and
    • 15 from public bodies.
  • 72,132 people registered with the Attorney General’s office for online training about the state’s Sunshine Laws.

Success Stories of Illinois’ New Sunshine Laws

The public and media can ask the Public Access Bureau to review whether documents being withheld by a public body should in fact be disclosed under FOIA. The Public Access Bureau also reviews whether public bodies have violated the Open Meetings Act in the course of doing the people’s business. These “requests for review” submitted by the public and the media can lead to either informal or binding decisions to resolve disputes regarding public access to government documents or meetings. Since 2010, when the strengthened provisions went into effect, the Public Access Bureau has handled more than 13,000 requests for help.

Attorney General Madigan highlighted some of the Public Access Bureau’s binding opinions and informal mediation that have helped to increase the public’s access to their government:

  • A member of the public sought records from a police department relating to a homicide that occurred in 1935. The department initially denied the request, stating the matter was an “ongoing investigation” and the information was exempt because it contained personal identifiers and information that may compromise the anonymity of individuals who provide confidential information or report criminal acts to the police. After working with the Public Access Counselor, the department agreed to release the records of the case.

  • A newspaper requested records concerning an arrest of a local official. The local police department denied the request under an exemption for unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The Public Access Counselor issued a binding opinion concluding most information in the report must be disclosed under FOIA because arrests are a matter of public record involving a strong public interest, outweighing an individual’s privacy rights.
  • A Southern Illinois newspaper sought invoices for legal services from school district related to a lawsuit involving the school district and its local city. The school district initially rejected the request for the legal records, citing an exemption for communication between a public body and an attorney representing the public body. The Public Access Counselor’s binding opinion makes clear that a public body cannot withhold invoices for legal services in their entirety, noting that while some information in legal invoices may be exempt from disclosure, information such as the attorneys’ initials, the time spent on tasks, and the rate and dollar amounts charged cannot be withheld under FOIA.

Sunshine Week was founded by the American Society of News Editors and is recognized annually every March. More information about Illinois’ sunshine laws can be found at Attorney General Madigan’s website. Anyone seeking assistance from the Public Access Bureau can contact the hotline at 1-877-299-FOIA (3642) or send an email to publicaccess@atg.state.il.us.

Los Angeles-based small business gives big to the community

Posted by Newsroom On March - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Shades of Color, LLC Donates Over $100,000 Worth of Black Gifts to Worthy Organizations

Los Angeles, CA (BlackNews.com) — As we close out another reflective Black History month, companies like Shades of Color, LLC make a commitment to continue to support future generations and honor the legacies of great heroes beyond the month of February. Shades of Color, LLC has been doing just that by donating to groups nationwide and fostering an African American Fundraising program to ignite entrepreneurism. In 2011 & 2012 alone the Shades of Color Gives Back Program donated over $100,000 worth of items.

Churches, women’s conferences, schools, a prominent HBCU and national non-profit organizations dedicated to uplifting the Black community have been recent recipients of Shades of Color’s philanthropy. It is no coincidence that the program began in 2011 during Black History month. “We wanted to find a way to support those who have stood by us for nearly two decades in honor of those before us,” says company President, Adrian Woods. “We have received great feedback that recipients loved their calendars and were touched by the inspirational messages in each design. These are all reminders of why our company exists: to inspire, uplift and celebrate who we are.”

The company’s initiative to help schools, churches, and individuals earn extra income has also been very successful. Their African American Fundraising & Entrepreneur Program is a user friendly resource to help people of all ages and groups of all sizes to make money, particularly during the holiday gift season.

Shades of Color, LLC began eighteen years ago by two aspiring African American men just turning thirty, Courtney Hines and Adrian Woods. The budding entrepreneurs saw a void in the Black gift industry and sought to build a company to manufacture gifts celebrating African American culture. The company strives to produce positive African American gifts that reflect our everyday community, and their unique products have held a firm stake in the African American gift market.

Additionally, for several years Shades of Color, LLC has donated a portion of its profits from their breast cancer awareness magnet, “Help Find A Cure” (M51) to charitable organizations that focus on support for African American women against breast cancer. Says company CEO, Courtney Hines, “We feel it is crucial to be vocal about health awareness, especially within the African American community. We designed this particular magnet to relate to our customers – with an illustration that looks like them – and to enforce the message that we need to continue to seek a cure.”

Shades of Color, LLC contributes to like-minded organizations dedicated to strengthening and empowering our communities. They are a company honored to do what it can to create a positive legacy.

ABOUT SHADES OF COLOR, LLC
Shades of Color, LLC is a Black owned business dedicated to producing the highest quality African American calendars and African American gifts available. The company was started in 1995 as a means of filling the void that existed within the calendar and gift business. Their mission is to bring positive images of African Americans to homes and offices everywhere, and they specialize in helping schools, churches, groups and individuals succeed with their African American Fundraising & Entrepreneur Programs. (www.ShadesGifts.com) (www.facebook.com/ShadesCalendars) (www.pinterest.com/shadescalendars) (www.twitter.com/Shadesofcolors)

Photo Caption: Shades of Color African American Gifts & Calendars

Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s Bam! Performs premiere and more April 4

Posted by Newsroom On March - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Princess Grace Award Winner Michelle Dorrance, Broadway’s Ted Levy, CHRP’s Lane Alexander,

Live Music by Greg Spero Trio and Tressa Thomas at MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL

Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) presents its resident ensemble BAM! performing a world premiere by 2012 Princess Grace Award winner Michelle Dorrance, commissioned by the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University as part of its debut MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL. The program, which takes place Thursday, April 4 at 6 p.m. at the Katten/Landau Studio at 425 S. Wabash, also features works by Chicago native and Broadway star Ted Levy, CHRP Founder Lane Alexander and BAM! member Kristi Burris, as well as live music by the Greg Spero Trio and Chicago jazz vocalist Tressa Thomas.

Winner of the first Princess Grace Award for tap choreography in the award’s 30-year history, Michelle Dorrance has created a piece that explores abstractions in vernacular blues and jazz movement coupled with cutting-edge innovations in contemporary tap technique. The piece presents a range of visual and aural aesthetics, from grounded, open, bass-heavy movement and sound to seemingly effortless slide work and treble-dominated airborne turns with light but rapid footwork. Thanks to support from the Auditorium Theatre’s MOVEMENT + MUSIC FESTIVAL, BAM! performs this new work with the Greg Spero Trio and Chicago jazz vocalist Tressa Thomas.

One of the most sought-after tap dancers of her generation, Dorrance first performed in Chicago as a teenager with the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble and appeared in CHRP’s 1998 documentary JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance. She teaches, choreographs and performs throughout the U.S. and abroad, directs her company Dorrance Dance and has taken New York City by storm for more than a year performing in the Off-Broadway production STOMP.

The program also includes Three Little Words (2009), with music by Harry Ruby arranged by Nat “King” Cole. Choreographed by Chicago’s own Emmy and Tony award winner Ted Levy, the piece takes the audience on a journey through natural flow of rhythm and movement.
CHRP Founder and Director Lane Alexander contributes several works to the program: How Insensitive (2007); Reflections (2011), set to three works by J.S. Bach; Prisms (2004), set to several of Chick Corea’s Children’s Songs, which combines haunting, classically structured jazz compositions with complex rhythms and modern/jazz movements to create a visual as well as aural quilt; and acaBAM! (2004), a blend of post-modern movement, layered a cappella rhythms and body percussion that culminates in a rousing polyrhythmic finale.
BAM! member Kristi Burris contributes a new take on the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic My Favorite Things, arranged by John Coltrane.
Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s BAM! and the Greg Spero Trio perform in the MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL Thursday, April 4 at 6 p.m. at the Auditorium’s Katten/Landau Studio, 425 S. Wabash, 4th fl. Tickets are $10, $5 for students, and are available by calling 800-982-ARTS (2787) or visiting auditoriumtheatre.org.

Funding
The Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University’s MUSIC + MOVEMENT FESTIVAL, which pairs 11 Chicago dance companies with talented musical performers, each presenting a world premiere February–June 2013, is made possible by grants from The Chicago Community Trust, The Boeing Company and The Joyce Foundation.

CHRP is supported by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Target, The Boeing Company, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, The Arlen and Elaine Cohen Rubin Charitable Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City, The Jeanette & Jerome Cohen Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City, National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development, Live Marketing, Charter One Foundation, The James S. Kemper Foundation, Dr. Scholl Foundation, Arts Midwest, The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, The Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg Family Foundation, L&L Hardwood Flooring, So Danca, People’s Gas, The Service Club of Chicago, The Walmart Foundation and generous individual donors.

Chicago Human Rhythm Project

Founded in 1990, Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) builds community by presenting American tap dance and contemporary percussive arts in world-class and innovative performance, education and community outreach programs. During the last 23 years, CHRP has produced multiple community-based collaborations involving shared revenue programs, concerts and touring opportunities, including:
  • annual National Tap Dance Day concerts, featuring an array of tap and percussive dance artists
  • a shared revenue program designed to assist Chicago’s budding tap community to build capacity through audience development, created in 2001
  • Thanks 4 Giving, another innovative shared revenue program launched in 2005 as part of its annual Global Rhythms concerts at the Harris Theater, through which CHRP has partnered with more than 100 Chicago-based nonprofits to raise funds for a wide variety of service agencies
  • participation in the 5th Anniversary Beijing International Dance Festival, assembling 70 artists to represent the United States
  • establishment of the American Rhythm Center (ARC), providing a shared, affordable and sustainable education, rehearsal and administrative facility for several leading Chicago arts organizations in the historic Fine Arts Building
  • curating the first ever, full-length performance of concert tap dance on a main stage of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on December 7, 2012
CHRP’s vision is to establish the first global center for American tap and percussive arts, which will create a complete ecosystem of education, performance, creation and community in a state-of-the-art facility uniting generations of diverse artists and the general public. For information visit chicagotap.org.

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