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Archive for March 19th, 2013

Voter laws threaten to limit political clout for People of Color

Posted by Newsroom On March - 19 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By Cathy Cohen and Jon C. Rogowski

America’s Wire Writers Group

CHICAGO, IL – In a democracy, few rights are as cherished as the right to vote. Yet, in the United States people of color, mainly Latinos, African Americans, Asians and Native Americans, are finding that the more they demonstrate their civic responsibility by voting, the more obstacles that surface designed to weaken the power of their votes.

Since 2008, when the nation elected its first African American president, there have been numerous efforts in various states to impact ballot access. Legislatures in 19 states have tightened identification requirements for citizens who wish to vote. Many of these new laws require citizens to show a state-issued form of photo ID.

The New York University School of Law Brennan Center for Justice warned in 2006 that because identification documents are not distributed equally across the population, voter ID laws would significantly affect voter access for people of color – especially Latinos and African Americans – who possessed photo identification at considerably lower rates than whites.

That prediction became reality last November. A study conducted immediately after the 2012 election surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,500 young people between the ages of 18 and 29 with large oversamples of Blacks and Latinos. Consistent with other national reports, the study sponsored by the Black Youth Project confirmed that a high voter turnout among youth. It also determined that young people of color-especially Black youth-were asked to show identification when voting at considerably higher rates than white youth.

Even in states with no identification laws, 66 percent of Black youth and 55 percent of Latino youth were asked to show ID, compared with 43 percent of white youth. When nonvoters were asked to indicate the reasons why they did not vote, Black youth were three times as likely as white youth (17 percent compared with 5 percent) to say that they did not vote because they lacked the proper identification documents. The study provides compelling evidence that identification laws are applied inconsistently across racial groups, and appear to reduce turnout disproportionately among people of color.

In the aftermath of the 2012 election, also under attack is the principle of “one person, one vote” established in 1964 when the Supreme Court ruled in Reynolds v. Sims that legislative districts must contain equal numbers of citizens.

Several states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, recently considered or are considering measures to apportion their electoral votes by congressional districts in place of the winner-take-all system currently in place. Discussions of these proposals have focused, not incorrectly, on the implications for the outcomes of presidential elections. But these proposals are designed explicitly to reduce the electoral influence of citizens living in densely populated areas-precisely those areas more likely to contain larger proportions of people of color-and increase the electoral importance of people living in more sparsely populated areas that take up larger swaths of geography.

As Sen. Charles Carrico, who introduced the measure in the Virginia State Senate, explained, residents in rural areas “were concerned that it didn’t matter what they did, that more densely populated areas were going to outvote them.” Under these plans, the gerrymandering of congressional districts ensures that Black voters in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania would have considerably less influence on the apportionment of the state’s electoral votes.

For instance, the 538 blog recently reported that President Obama would have lost twelve of Ohio’s 18 electoral votes had they been apportioned by congressional district. Not only would this have distorted the voices of Ohio’s voters writ large (Obama received more than 100,000 votes more than Romney), but it also would have significantly weakened the influence of Ohio’s Black voters. Nearly percent of 65 percent of Black residents of Ohio are concentrated in the four congressional districts (mostly in the Cleveland area) in which Obama won. Along with weakening the political potency of urban voters generally, proposals to apportion Electoral College votes by congressional district seriously devalue the votes from people of color.

This tension between individuals and geography is also found in the debate surrounding the current Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder. At issue is Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states with a history of racially discriminatory voting practices to receive federal clearance before changing electoral laws.

In oral arguments on February 27, attorney Bert Rein argued on behalf of Shelby County, Alabama that this provision is “an inappropriate vehicle to sort out the sovereignty of individual states.” But the sovereignty of states should not be privileged over the equal protections constitutionally granted to individual citizens. Just as states like Ohio and Pennsylvania should not be allowed to weigh the votes of rural residents over votes from urban areas, neither should Alabama be excluded from provisions designed to protect Alabama citizens’ voting rights because Alabama’s sovereignty is judged to be more important than their citizens’ electoral voices.

Rein is right, though, on at least one point. As he and some of the conservative justices on the Court pointed out, the South is not uniquely racially discriminatory. Schemes to apportion Electoral College votes by congressional district, for instance, have been discussed mostly by states that are not required to receive federal preclearance. But this is not an argument for striking down Section 5. Indeed, any measure that limits ballot access or dilutes some group’s electoral influence in any state ought to be opposed.

However, if states like South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and others currently subject to Section 5 have their way, significant numbers of people of color are especially likely to feel the negative consequences of new electoral laws. Keeping Section 5 in place will continue to help guard against attempts to limit the influence of people of color on Election Day.

About Dr. Cathy Cohen and Jon C. Rogowski:

Dr. Cathy Cohen is the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and Jon C. Rogowski is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Washington University. Dr. Cohen and Prof. Rogowski work with the Black Youth Project.America’s Wire is an independent, nonprofit news service run by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Our stories can be republished free of charge by newspapers, websites and other media sources. For more information, visit www.americaswire.org or contact Michael K. Frisby at mike@frisbyassociates.com

State of Equality and Justice in America: ‘The Maternal Wall’

Posted by Newsroom On March - 19 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS
kristen

The 10th op-ed of the series: “The State of Equality and Justice in America”

By Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner

In our national conversations about equality and justice in America, we have too often avoided the conversation about the realities of women and mothers in the workforce. This is particularly odd given that women comprise half of the entire paid labor force, three-quarters of moms are now in the labor force, and most families now need two breadwinners to make ends meet., only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. The glass ceiling remains solid and a Maternal Wall is blocking the way for many women to even get anywhere near that glass barrier. Yes, a Maternal Wall.Maternal Wall looks like:

Yet, despite comprising half of the paid labor force

Here’s what the

  • Women without children make 90 cents to a man’s dollar, mothers make only 73 cents, single moms make about 60 cents to a man’s dollar, and women of color experience increased wage hits on top of that.
  • Mothers with equal resumes are hired 80 percent less of the time than non-mothers and are offered lower starting salaries.
  • More than 80 percent of women in our nation have children by the time they’re 44 – and most hit the Maternal Wall.
  • Overall women make only 77 cents to a man’s dollar for full-time year round work, with African-American women making only 68 cents to a man’s dollar and Latino women making just 59 cents to a man’s dollar.

Think all of this doesn’t matter to you, or to our national economy? Consider this: Women make three-quarters of purchasing decisions. When women don’t have adequate funds in their pockets, our entire economy – which for better or worse is now built on consumer spending – suffers.Pepperdine University survey of Fortune 500 companies found that those with the best record of promoting women outperformed the competition by anywhere from 41 to 116 percent. In other words, more women in leadership meant higher profits.are struggling against tradition, subliminal discrimination, and structural barriers. Indeed, we need to start uniting and lifting each other up. We are living in more than one America.

The realities of life for higher-wage earning women are vastly different from the realities of most women in our country.
More than 80 percent of low-wage workers don’t have access to a single paid sick day for themselves or their children.

The glass ceiling and Maternal Wall not only hurts women’s pocketbooks, they also hurt the bottom line of our nation’s businesses. A 19-year

Many women and mothers

Our national “floor” for workplace policies is way too low. These floors need to be raised; and structural barriers need to be addressed, particularly since it now costs over $200,000 to raise one child from birth to age eighteen.

Despite what it may appear from the focus of recent media coverage, there are vastly more women in low wage positions than in high. In fact, only 9 percent of all women in the labor force earn $75,000 or more annually, 37 percent earn between $30,000 and $74,999 annually, and 54 percent earn less than $30,000 annually. The majority of minimum wage earners are women.

Most mothers in the low wage workforce are struggling to find quality and affordable daycare (which now costs more than college in most states) and are working in jobs without paid family leave, sick days, or flexible work options that ensure that employees can be successful both at home and at work.

Middle-income women struggle with many of these same work structure issues, while women in higher income positions often have access to these programs. We’ve seen recently that the mere ascension of women in the workplace alone does not guarantee that family friendly policies will be implemented. One example is Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s move to end the company’s policy of allowing employees to work remotely.save taxpayer dollars, improve women’s economic security, act to help close gender-based wage gaps and break down the Maternal Wall, while strengthening our national economy as a whole.

Solutions are within our reach.

We know which policies – like paid family leave, earned sick days, and affordable childcare –

These solutions won’t magically happen without people coming together to push to update our outdated workplace policies, practices, and laws. It’s going to take all of us – women, men, elected and corporate leaders – leaning forward together to build a nation where women, families, and businesses can thrive.

Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner is Executive Director/CEO & Co-Founder of MomsRising.org. This article – the tenth of a 20-part series – is written in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar’s leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity – work that continues to be vital today. For more information, please visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

Editor’s Note: “The State of Equality and Justice in America” is a 20-part series of columns written by an all-star list of contributors to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The contributors include: U. S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) LCCRUL 50th Anniversary Grand Marshal; Ms. Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL); Mr. Charles Ogletree, Professor, Harvard University Law School/Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice; the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., President/CEO, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; the Rev. Joseph Lowery, Co-founder, Southern Christian Leadership Conference; U. S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.); and 14 additional thought leaders and national advocates for equal justice.

ILGOP endorses RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Project Report

Posted by Newsroom On March - 19 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – The Republican National Committee unveiled the “Growth and Opportunity Project” report after months of seeking input from thousands of Republican leaders and grassroots activists from across the country. The committee presented their recommendations to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in the report that that can be read here.

The Illinois Republican Party has been conducting a similar review of the 2012 Illinois election cycle. Working with the RNC and using the report released today as a resource, the ILGOP’s Growth and Opportunity Project will piggyback off of the RNC project and will release the initial report in April.

ILGOP Chairman Pat Brady released the following statement:

“Today marks a new and exciting day for the Republican Party. The RNC Growth and Opportunity Project report charts a new path for the GOP, and also gives us further direction for our own project that we have been working on here in Illinois. After months of review both nationally and locally, I’m confident that these new initiatives are a step in the right direction for our Party as we expand our reach and ultimately elect more Republicans.

“The ILGOP is committed to a pro-growth strategy, which is why we launched our own Illinois Growth and Opportunity Project that will be our own top-to-bottom review of the 2012 elections, with the goal of Republican victories and regaining the governor’s mansion in 2014.”

Click here to view a copy of the RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Report. The ILGOP’s Growth & Opportunity Report will be released next month prior to the State Party’s April meeting in Chicago.

Madigan, Attorneys General call for new leadership of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Posted by Newsroom On March - 19 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Letter to President, Congressional Leadership Calls Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac an “Obstacle to Progress” For Nation’s Homeowners; Stresses the Need for Principal Write-Downs

CHICAGO, IL – Calling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a “direct impediment to our economic recovery” by the continued refusal to give principal relief for struggling homeowners, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was joined by eight other attorneys general in a letter today calling for a new permanent leader to replace Edward DeMarco as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

“Unfortunately, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac remain an obstacle to progress by refusing to adopt policies that will maximize relief for homeowners,” Madigan said. “It is time for new leadership at the agency who will address the foreclosure crisis in a meaningful way to help bolster the nation’s economic recovery.”

In the letter, the attorneys general argue that principal mark-downs are a central component of the national foreclosure settlement and continue to bring meaningful relief to distressed borrowers, helping to the local housing market and the economy overall.

The FHFA’s continued position that principal forgiveness conflicts with its goal of asset preservation is “not supported by reality,” the attorneys general assert in the letter. The agency’s current policy actually reduces the value of its holdings portfolio. It is far more profitable for any financial institution to hold a portfolio of performing $200,000 mortgages that keeps families in their homes than a portfolio of non-performing $250,000 mortgages headed toward default, according to the attorneys general letter.

“We have worked tirelessly, along with our federal, state, and local partners to develop a multi-pronged approach to dealing with the foreclosure crisis,” the letter concludes. “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be among our partners in this effort, and leaders in the arena of loan modification best practices. Instead, they have been an obstruction.”

Public hearings this week on for-profit suburban virtual charter school with dismal performance record

Posted by Newsroom On March - 19 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

K12 Inc. PAC – whose Tennessee schools consistently perform in bottom 11% – spent $36,000 in donations to 37 Illinois lawmakers in charm offensive, say community residents.

GENEVA, IL – Community residents and school district members are gearing up for public hearings – which began Monday, and will continue Tuesday and Wednesday on a proposal to open a for-profit virtual charter school targeting students in 18 suburban Fox River Valley school districts by a company with a dismal performance record. The springboard for the pubshback was a Sunday Geneva public forum, where residents learned more about the rapidly breaking scheme by K12 Inc., a for-profit virtual charter school company which has come under fire in other states for shoddy management practices that range from misleading investors to covering up poor student performance.

Tennessee State Representative Gloria Johnson, a career schoolteacher, was among those who spoke out about K12 Inc.’s questionable practices, which have been dubbed by local activists as a Wall Street scheme to enrich highly paid school executives and investors at the expense of students, taxpayers and local schools. Tennessee is among the states now investigating K12 Inc. for questionable educational practices – and where K12 students typically performed in the bottom 11% of the state’s performance records, according to Johnson.

“K12 Inc. has received more than $15 million from Tennessee taxpayers for its online school,” said Johnson, who traveled to Geneva to share her state’s troubling experiences with K12 Inc. “But K12 Inc. is among the state’s worst performing schools – and has also been exposed for directing teachers to delete students’ poor grades to hide its poor track record.”

A sizable portion of the public money collected by K12 is rolled back into generating more business rather than supporting quality student education. K12 spent $26.5 million on advertising in 2010, and employees describe a high-pressure sales environment aimed at one thing: enrollment that boosts income (New York Times). K12 Inc.’s PAC has also spent at least $36,000 in Illinois alone on donations to state lawmakers, according to inspections of political donation records.

Big bucks are on the line, with the on-line learning industry expected to earn more than $20 billion nationally by 2015 – and companies like K12 at the heart of that endeavor. But their track record in educating kids is dubious. In Florida, teachers charged that K12 Inc. had tried to force them to falsify attendance records. The company has also been accused of assigning hundreds of students to a single teacher: One K12 Inc. Florida virtual school reported a 275:1 student to teacher ratio (Education News). Late last year Georgia officials threatened to close K12 Inc.’s online school over issues with special education students. And dozens of former employees of the company’s cyber schools have accused management of manipulating data on enrollment, student performance and attendance to cover up shoddy education standards and high student turnover in Pennsylvania and other states.

“This company has one agenda – to take public tax dollars out of our publicly accountable schools and feed its profits at the expense of quality education standards and our students,” said John Laesch of Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice, which organized Sunday’s public forum. “Our kids, our parents and our taxpayers deserve better.”

K12 Inc. sent three employees to the public forum to try to sanitize the company’s track record – including Randall Greenway, K12 Inc.s Vice President of School Development for the Wall Street-traded company, who said he came to speak out for the “not-for-profit virtual charter” which would be run by his company. But Greenway and his associates refused to answer questions about K12’s educational scores, management practices, or the salaries they pay top executives. K12’s CEO makes almost $4 million/year, and other senior executives earn salaries dozens of times higher than those paid in the public sector – a scenario that allows a large, out-of-state corporation to line its pockets at the expense of local students, parents and taxpayers, say local residents.

“This scheme will allow K12 executives and the Wall Street hedge funds who back this scheme to take vitally needed public dollars away from public schools – while their track record as ‘educators’ has a growing record of failure,” says NIJwJ Co-Chair Mary Shesgreen.

Upcoming public school district hearings on K12 virtual charter school application:


Naperville District 204
Monday, March 18th at 5:00 p.m.
Crouse Education Center
780 Shoreline Drive, Aurora, IL 60504
Contact District 204’s school board:

Naperville District 203
Monday, March 18th at 5:00 p.m.
Public School Administration Canter
203 W. Hillside Road, Naperville, IL 60540
Contact District 203’s School Board:

Aurora District 131
Wednesday, March 20th at 5:30 p.m.
School Service Center
417 Fifth Street, Aurora, IL 60505
Contact District 131 School Board:

Aurora District 129
Monday, March 18th at 6:00 p.m.
West Aurora High School Library
1201 W. New York Street, Aurora, IL 60506
Contact District 129 school board:

Batavia District 101
Tuesday, March 19th from 6 p.m.
Rosalee Jones Administration Center
335 W. Wilson Street, Batavia IL 60510
Contact the Batavia School Board:

Geneva District 304
The first public hearing was already held on March 11. According to School Superintendent Kent Mutchler, K12 Inc. did not even show up to defend their charter school application.The first real vote for or against a charter school will happen on Monday, April 8th at 7:00 p.m., Williamsburg Elementary School, 1812 Williamsburg Avenue, Geneva, IL 60134
Contact the Geneva School Board:
Or write and call Board@Geneva304.org / (630) 463-3010

DeKalb District 428
Tuesday, March 19th at 7:00 p.m.
District 428 Education Center
901 S. 4th Street, DeKalb, IL 60115
Contact DeKalb’s District 428 board members: You can send one e-mail to all of the board members by writing: board@district428.org

Yorkville District 115
Monday, March 18th at 8:00 p.m.
602B Center Parkway, Yorkville, IL 60560
Contact Yorkville’s District 115 board members:

Kaneland District 302
Monday, March 18th at 7:00 p.m.
Harter Middle School, 1601 Esker Drive, Sugar Grove, IL 60554
Contact the Kaneland School Board:

Sycamore District 427
Tuesday, March 19th at 7:00 p.m.
Cafeteria at Sycamore Middle School
150 Maplewood Drive, Sycamore, IL 60178
Contact the Sycamore School District Board Members:

Central District 301
Monday, March 18th at 6:00 p.m.
Central High School
44W303 Plato Road, Burlington, IL 60140 (GPS use Hampshire, IL)
To contact District 301’s School Board, e-mail: 301board@burlington.k12.il.us

SD U-46 (Elgin)
Monday, March 18th at 7:00 p.m.
U-46 Office, 355 E Chicago Street, Elgin, IL 60120
Contact the Elgin School Board:

Plainfield SD 202
Monday, March 18, 2013 from 8:30-9:30 p.m., Administrative Center, 15732 Howard Street, Plainfield, IL 60544. Any person desiring to appear at the public hearing and present testimony concerning said proposal for a charter school should contact Glenn Wood, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at (815) 577-4069.
Contact the Plainfield School Board:

CUSD 300 (Carpentersville)
Tuesday, March 19th at 6:00 p.m.
Westfield Community School
2100 Sleepy Hollow Road, Algonquin, IL 60102. You do not have to RSVP to have 5 minutes to present your position to the District 300 School Board. To share information with all board members simply write an e-mail to board@d300.org

Valley View District 365 U
Wednesday, March 27, 6:30 p.m.
755 Dalhart Avenue, Romeoville, IL.
Contact District 365U’s School Board:

Oswego District 308
Tuesday, March 19th at 7:00 p.m.
The Community Room of Oswego East High School, 1525 Harvey Road, Oswego.

Contact Oswego Distrcit 308’s School Board:

St. Charles District 303
Monday, March 18th at 7:00 p.m.
District 303 Office, 201 S. 7th Street, St. Charles, IL 60174
Contact the St. Charles School Board:

CUSD 200 (Wheaton)
Monday, March 18th at 7:00-9:00 p.m.
School Service Center
130 West Park Avenue, Wheaton, IL 60189. There will be a 5 minute limit on public comment and no pre-registration is needed.
Contact the CUSD 200 School Board:

For more information, contact Pam Verner, 630-347-6006, pamelaverner@comcast.net; John Laesch, 630-878-7454, johnlaesch@live.com.

Small Business Leaders Speak Out for SB34 Amendment 1

Posted by Newsroom On March - 19 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

‘A Strong State Based Health Insurance Marketplace Levels the Playing Field for Small Businesses’

A Press Conference today, March 19, 2013, 10:45 a.m., at the Stratton Office Building, Room A1, in Springfield, Illinois.

In support of SB34, leaders from the Campaign for Better Health Care’s Small Business Health Care Consortium along with State Senator David Koehler (D-Peoria) and other Senate sponsors will hold a press conference at 10:45AM in Room A1 of the Stratton Office Building in Springfield on Tuesday, March 19.

Senate Bill 34 (SB34) establishes a robust, pro-consumer and pro-small business health insurance marketplace in Illinois. The health insurance marketplace (exchange) will be the one-stop insurance shop for more than a million Illinoisans. SB34 ensures that the marketplace is governed by a diverse board that represents women, small businesses, communities of color, labor, public health, people with disabilities, and consumers, and provides for accountability and a certification process of the insurance industry selling plans on the new marketplace.

At the press conference will be State Senator Dave Koehler and other Senators, along with members of the Campaign for Better Health Care’s Small Business Health Care Consortium including Springfield small business owner Mark Burris, President Larry Ivory of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, and Linda Forman for the National Association of Women Business Owners Chicago.

On November 16, 2012, the State of Illinois filed a “blueprint” with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It stated that beginning January 1, 2014, Illinois would embark on a State-Federal Partnership Marketplace (exchange), and then a State Marketplace beginning on January 1, 2015. For Illinois to embark on a State Marketplace the Illinois General Assembly must enact legislation establishing a state Governing Board, and the financing of the operations of a State Marketplace. SB 34 would fulfill this requirement and would establish an effective, fair, balanced and accountable marketplace.

The purpose of the press conference is to demonstrate support for the small business community for SB34, which will establish a health insurance marketplace in Illinois that offers a fair approach for small businesses and consumers and accountability of the insurance industry.

About the Small Business Health Care Consortium

As a project of the Campaign for Better Health Care, we are a tax-exempt, non-partisan coalition of small businesses that serves to educate about the impact of health reform, encourage small business friendly legislation and regulation and enable the collective voice of small businesses to have a direct impact on controlling health care costs in Illinois. www.cbhconline.org/smallbusiness

About Campaign for Better Health Care

We believe that accessible, affordable, quality health care is a basic human right for all people. The Campaign for Better Health Care is the state’s largest coalition representing over 300 diverse organizations, organizing to help create and advocate for an accessible, quality health care system for all. For more information, visit www.cbhconline.org.

Madigan warns about high cost of tax refund offers during tax season

Posted by Newsroom On March - 19 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan alerts Illinoisans to beware of the high cost of tax-refund anticipation products as the deadline for filing annual tax returns nears.

Madigan said her office is monitoring businesses that offer tax-refund anticipation loans and checks this tax season in light of a new law in Illinois initiated by her office that cracks down on the excessively high fees associated with these options. The new law, which became effective in January, prohibits tax preparers from adding unnecessary costs – or “junk fees” – for refund products.

“With tax season in full swing, tax preparers are once again flooding the airwaves with ads promising you a faster refund if you buy one of their loan offerings,” Madigan said. “But don’t be fooled. The only ones getting fast cash are the lenders that advertise these refund products thanks to the exorbitant fees they charge taxpayers.”

Tax preparers often advertise refund anticipation loans as an option for consumers to receive an instant cash refund based on their anticipated tax return supposedly eliminating the wait for their official government refund to arrive. But in reality, Madigan said, these products are short-term loans riddled with fees automatically deducted from a taxpayer’s refund before they receive it.

Although most banks have stopped offering refund anticipation loans due to regulations at the federal level, Madigan said many non-bank lenders, including payday lenders, have begun to offer these loans to consumers. The law Madigan’s office crafted addresses this industry trend by limiting interest rates on loans from non-bank lenders to ensure consumers aren’t charged for junk fees.

The Attorney General also alerted consumers about the dangers of “refund anticipation checks” or debit cards linked to a temporary bank account. Consumers do not receive their refunds any faster with refund anticipation checks, Madigan said, but must wait for the IRS to deposit their refund into the temporary account. The new law also applies to these products, which are similarly linked to costly hidden fees.

Madigan worked to pass the legislation banning high-cost fees last year around the same time she filed a lawsuit against a national tax preparer for charging taxpayers at least $800,000 in hidden costs for services. In March 2012, Madigan filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court seeking to shut down Mo’ Money locations in the Chicago area and East St. Louis and to refund consumers. The Memphis, Tenn.-based company advertised its tax refund anticipation programs to low-income taxpayers as a way to receive and spend refunds instantly. But Mo’ Money used these programs to automatically deduct hundreds of dollars in undisclosed fees before consumers ever received their refunds – as much as $700 per person. Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau is continuing to pursue the litigation in court.

Two successful women entrepreneurs share strategies for surviving and thriving in business in Celebration of National Women’s History Month

Posted by Newsroom On March - 19 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Join Mary Grate-Pyos, MBA, Author and Financial Expert, on Sunday, March 24, 2013, as she host “Tea and Conversation” in honor of Women’s History Month at the Elegant Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast, 1708 16th Street, NW in Washington, D.C., 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. Registration is required at Eventbrite, “Tea and Conversation.”

Washington, DC (BlackNews.com) — Mary Grate-Pyos is the President of Financially Focused, Inc., Chief PearlPreneur of My Pearl Power and the author of Wealthy Woman – Wise Choices. She is committed to encouraging, empowering and educating others to live positively; believe in possibilities; and achieve prosperity in life. She is a former columnist with Capital Spotlight Newspaper, Washington, DC and earned a Master’s in Business Administration from Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, and a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mathematics from Newberry College, Newberry, South Carolina.

This event will highlight two successful women entrepreneurs: Kathryn Freeland, Author, CEO & President of A-Tek, Inc. and Monique Greenwood, Proprietor of Akwaaba Bed and Breakfasts, located in Washington, DC, Cape May, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and former Editor-in-Chief of Essence Magazine. They will share their strategies and actions steps for surviving and thriving in business, even in tough times, and how they are defining success on their own terms.

“What a joy to host an event that features two phenomenal women who are driven, dedicated to the success of their company, and willing to sow a bit of wisdom into the lives of other women! Women’s History Month is a great opportunity to highlight the accomplishment of women and our tenacity to win in spite of the challenges that may surface. Kathy and Monique are both a force to be reckoned with in the business world and I am so proud of them,” says Author and Event Host, Mary Grate-Pyos. Press should contact Patricia McClenic at (703) 861-6312.

March is Women’s History Month

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society. Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.

Photo Caption: Mary Grate-Pyos, author and president, Financially Focused, Inc.

The Messiah will come from the South

Posted by Newsroom On March - 19 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The Messiah Will Come From the South

New America Media

By Richard Rodriguez

We Americans have long told ourselves that we are a God-favored people, a churchgoing, moral people. But last week when the old cardinals of Roman Catholicism looked for the future of their church, they looked south. And what we Americans heard, as if for the first time, is that the spiritual center of Christianity is in the Southern Hemisphere, not with us in the north.

How could that be?

Despite the drug addiction of Americans — an addiction second to none that has destabilized Latin America from Bolivia to Colombia to Mexico — we assume the moral high ground in the Americas. We long have regarded Latin Americans as a morally lazy race, corrupt in their civic life, tolerant of Marxism one day, fascism the next. Now we learn that the beating heart of Christianity is in the south. World Catholicism is centered there. And Protestantism, too, surges throughout Latin America.

We Americans built a wall to separate ourselves from Latin Americans and their disrespect regarding our laws. A number of us tell pollsters or listeners of talk radio that we would deport the millions of Latin Americans who are illegally here, and their children bleating about their “dreams.” Many Americans declare they do not want illegality rewarded in any way.

In the long political debate over illegal immigration, religion and morality have rarely been mentioned by those in power, except by disgraced Cardinal Roger Mahony in Los Angeles. In immigrant rights parades, it’s true, one did see nuns and people carrying crosses, as in a religious procession. But right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan, famously a Catholic, described illegal immigrants from Latin America as a greater threat to our union than Al Qaeda. There was something evil coming from the south.

What went unsaid on talk radio and on the floor of Congress was that were it not for Latin American immigrants, here legally and illegally, many churches in the U.S. would be as empty as Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. And not just Catholic churches.

Increasingly, as young, white Americans abandon organized religion, Latin Americans in the United States have been flocking to evangelical Protestantism. Already, in Central America and Brazil, the rate of conversion to evangelical Protestantism is such that by century’s end, Latin America may be in its majority, evangelical Protestant. Already, Protestant churches are sending missionaries from Latin America north to attend to our barren souls.

The American left doesn’t talk about such things because it is largely uninterested in religion, having ceded it to the American right. (Pope Francis is troubling for many in the cultural left because of his sexual conservatism; the new pope’s passion for the poor will not be consoling to them.)

The American right, by contrast, ought to be interested. But the Republican Party has sought political advantage by playing to the nativists in its ranks, taking the hard line on illegal immigration. In his campaign for the presidency, did Mitt Romney, once a Mormon bishop, even know that the world population of his church is already Spanish-speaking? He never mentioned it.

Suddenly a new moral map of the world is unfurled in front of our eyes. Africa? We Americans have been inclined to regard Africa as a hellish place of AIDS, tribalism, cartoon dictators — backwardness of every sort. Now the news from Rome is that Catholicism is growing most rapidly in Africa even as Christianity shrinks in Northern and Southern Europe and once-beloved churches there become tourist attractions.

Europe is the political right’s obsession — but only economically. Republican fiscal conservatives warn that overspending in Washington could doom our country to become like the bankrupt economies of Europe. In Europe, however, the problem is not only depleted economies but also a depleted biological energy. As Christianity has receded in Europe, many of its countries are showing negative birthrates. Germany, Spain, France — all show negative birthrates. And isn’t that curious? As religious belief declines, so does the biological dynamism of a nation.

For the last half-century, Muslim immigrants have moved into the biological vacuum of Europe. Muslim families choose to have children while the white European vacillates between a Volvo and a Saab. There are predictions by some European Muslims of a numerical “re-conquest” of Europe not on the battlefield but in the maternity wards, a Muslim Europe by virtue of numbers: Muslim Paris, Muslim Amsterdam, Muslim Madrid.

In the United States, there are signs of a decreasing birthrate among the native-born. America could be headed toward the European pattern of shrinkage were it not for the fact that immigrants from Asia and Latin America are moving into the biological vacuum of America.

Christians from Latin America are moving into the spiritual vacuum of post-Christian America. Priests from Latin America and Protestant ministers from Latin America are tending to growing congregations.

None of this seemed to register until the Argentine cardinal made his appearance as Pope Francis on the loggia at the Vatican.

Now we hear a pope, a European immigrant’s son, who is speaking to the world in Spanish. We hear there is much praying and singing — much joy — in the churches of Latin America and that, indeed, the future of Christianity is there, not here. And we are left peering at the future over the wall we ourselves constructed.

Richard Rodriguez, the author of “Brown” and “Hunger of Memory,” is an editor at New America Media in San Francisco. “Darling,” his spiritual biography, will be published in the fall by Viking.

This op-ed also ran in the Los Angeles Times.

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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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