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Archive for March 27th, 2013

Attorney General Madigan: Friday deadline for Countrywide settlement claims

Posted by Newsroom On March - 27 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS
Attorney General Urges Eligible Illinois Borrowers to Submit Claim Forms to Benefit Under Lending Discrimination Settlement
CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan today reminded Illinois borrowers who are eligible for compensation under the $335 million national settlement with Countrywide over lending discrimination to submit their claim forms by Friday to benefit from the settlement.
African-American and Latino borrowers who obtained a mortgage from Countrywide, now a subsidiary of Bank of America, and who have received a claim form packet or letter are eligible for compensation if they mail a claim form to the settlement administrator by Friday.
The settlement with Countrywide resolved allegations that the lender engaged in widespread and illegal discrimination against minority borrowers in the years before the financial crisisj. Madigan and the U.S. Department of Justice alleged the former mortgage giant steered African-American and Latino borrowers into risky subprime loans more often than similarly situated white borrowers and charged them more for their loans during the height of the nation’s housing boom.
“The relief obtained in this settlement is crucial for borrowers who’ve paid far too high a price for the risky, discriminatory lending practices Countrywide employed in the buildup to the housing collapse,” Madigan said. “I encourage anyone who has received information from the settlement administrator to act quickly to submit their claim before the deadline.”
The settlement’s administrator sent initial claim form packets to eligible Illinois borrowers directly. Madigan’s office also recently sent a follow up letter to some eligible borrowers who had not yet sent in their claim form. Borrowers who have questions, need a new claim form or need help filing their claim should contact the settlement administrator at 1-800-842-5148, or send questions by email to countrywide.settlement@usdoj.gov. Consumers may also contact Madigan’s Homeowner Helpline at 1-866-544-7151 for more information.
The settlement stems from Madigan’s June 2010 lawsuit against Countrywide Financial Corporation, Countrywide Home Loans Inc. and Full Spectrum Lending Inc., an arm of Countrywide that mostly sold subprime loans. The lawsuit alleged numerous violations of the Illinois Fairness in Lending Act and the Illinois Human Rights Act included data showing minority borrowers paid more for mortgages than white borrowers and that they were more often sold riskier subprime home loans despite qualifying for prime rate, or lower cost, loans. Madigan’s analysis of Countrywide loan data found that these disparities could not be explained by objective factors, including borrowers’ credit scores or their debt-to-income ratios.
Madigan’s lawsuit and subsequent settlement follows years of investigation by her office into Countrywide’s lending policies and practices during the years leading up to the real estate market’s collapse. Madigan issued a fair lending subpoena to Countrywide in March 2008 after a Chicago Reporter study of federally collected mortgage lending data for the Chicago area found that, in 2006, Countrywide Financial Corporation sold higher-cost loans to 50.9 percent of its African-American borrowers and 33.8 percent of its Latino borrowers, while only 19.5 percent of the company’s white borrowers received high-cost loans.
Madigan’s further analysis of Countrywide’s loan data found that African-American and Latino borrowers were three times more likely to receive a higher-cost subprime mortgage than white borrowers, and that Countrywide charged African-American and Latino borrowers higher interest rates and fees on loans spanning the company’s range of products, including its prime products, as compared with similarly-situated white borrowers.
The Attorney General’s analysis also found that these disparities in Countrywide’s subprime sales and loan pricing were the result of company policies that gave employees and mortgage brokers almost unlimited discretion in the selection and pricing of loans.
Countrywide was once the largest mortgage lender in the nation, including in Illinois, and led the country in selling subprime loans. The failure of millions of these higher-cost mortgages nationwide contributed to the nation’s housing crash, resulting economic recession and ongoing foreclosure crisis.
This is the second lawsuit Madigan filed against Countrywide. In 2008, the Attorney General filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against the lender for over its origination, marketing and servicing of unnecessarily risky and costly mortgage loans for Illinois homeowners. In November 2008, Madigan led negotiations that resulted in an $8.7 billion nationwide settlement of that lawsuit with Bank of America.
Her case against Countrywide is also Madigan’s second fair lending lawsuit brought against a mortgage lender. In 2009, Madigan sued Wells Fargo for violating the state’s fair lending and civil rights laws, becoming the first state attorney general in the nation to sue a federally chartered lender for its role in creating the foreclosure crisis. In 2012, Madigan and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a $175 million settlement with Wells Fargo.

Illinois State Board of Education announces training for organizations providing free summer meals

Posted by Newsroom On March - 27 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announces training opportunities for organizations that want to sponsor free summer meals for children. The Summer Food Service Program, run through ISBE’s Nutrition and Wellness Programs, offers workshops around the state to nonprofit organizations.

The Summer Meals Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reimburses organizations to provide nutritious meals to children, ages 18 and under, when school is not in session. Students with disabilities who are 18 or older and enrolled in school, are also eligible to receive free meals.

Organizations may be reimbursed for up to two meals per child per day, while migrant organizations or camps may be eligible for up to three meals. Eligible organizations include:

  • · Public or private nonprofit schools
  • · Units of local, municipal, county, tribal or state government
  • · Private nonprofit organizations
  • · Public or private nonprofit camps
  • · Public or private nonprofit universities or colleges

Training is required to apply and participate as a sponsor. Upcoming Sponsor workshop dates and cities are listed below. To register for the workshops, please visit www.isbe.net/nutrition/htmls/sfsp_training.htm.

City Date
Elgin April 3, 2013
Galesburg April 10, 2013
Springfield April 17, 2013
Willowbrook May 1, 2013

Institutions may also participate as a feeding site through an existing or a new sponsor.

The USDA is an equal opportunity provider.

For more information on the Summer Meals Program, please visit www.isbe.net/nutrition/htmls/summer.htm or call the Summer Food Service Program at 800-545-7892.

For the latest news from the Illinois State Board of Education, follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Illinois-State-Board-of-Education/136022251779 or Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/ISBEnews. Visit the official ISBE website at http://www.isbe.net.

SBA Deputy goes “beyond the call of duty” for black businesses

Posted by Newsroom On March - 27 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By Hazel Trice Edney

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – It is a story that has unfolded all too often. The owner of a small business finds it simply impossible to pull through the torturous economy. The doors shut or the website shuts down and another business venture comes to a close.

Without incubation and support, the nation’s small businesses – including Black-owned businesses which are doubly vulnerable due to a history of racism and discrimination – would go under at alarming rates. In short, they need an advocate.

This is the reason that when the leaders of the National Bankers Association, an organization of 37 mostly Black-owned banks, began pondering prospective recipients of their annual “Beyond the Call of Duty Award”, its president says they did not have to look very far. No question, it was Marie Johns, deputy administrator of the U. S. Small Business Administration, he said.

“I think Marie Johns has an extraordinary record of serving the small business community in our country. She has shown a genuine interest in working with all small businesses. She’s been fair and inclusive, she believes in diversity, she’s shown a great sensitivity to the struggle of small businesses,” says Michael Grant, president of the National Bankers Association after bestowing Johns with the award during the NBA’s Annual Legislative/Regulatory Conference last week.

In prepared remarks, he said, “Ms. Johns has developed a reputation for being a good listener. She not only listened to community bankers and small business owners, she acted,” he said. In fact, Grant says Johns has served so well in the position that he believes she should be promoted to the top of the agency. “I think she would be an excellent candidate to be SBA administrator,” he said in an interview, noting that the agency has even greater potential.

An article by Claudio E. Cabrera, originally posted last fall on business website The Street.com and re-published this month on BlackEnterprise.com, is headlined, “Minority Businesses a Big Driver in the U.S. Small Business Economy.”

The article reports that “the number of black-owned businesses rose a noteworthy 60.5% to 1.9 million from 2002 to 2007, more than triple the 18% rate for businesses established nationally, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.”

It continues, “During the most recent period for which there is Census data, black-owned businesses generated $137.5 billion in receipts, up 55.1%.”

But the down side is this: Most of the highly prosperous Black-owned businesses are concentrated in certain states. New York, Georgia and Florida and cities like New York, Chicago, Houston and Detroit have the largest concentration of the nation’s black-owned businesses, the article reports, based on Census calculations. Also, “of the 1.9 million black-owned businesses, little more than 100,000 had paid employees” and only “14,000 of those businesses had receipts of $1 million or more.”

Johns agrees that as Black and other minority businesses grow, the economy grows.

“In 2013, minority-owned small businesses are one of the fastest-growing segments of our economy, and an engine of opportunity for millions of hard-working men and women in our communities,” Johns said in a prepared statement issued after last week’s award. “Empowering these businesses, and embracing an inclusive view of entrepreneurship, is essential to our long-term economic growth and global competitiveness.”

She also agrees with Grant that more must be done. “We must ensure that more people across the country have access to the capital, technical assistance, and support networks they need to help them start businesses, create jobs, and grow our economy.”

Suring up Black banks in order to serve their communities is a part of that mission, she says. “Over the past four years, the U.S. Small Business Administration has been working hard to create more access for entrepreneurs and more opportunities for lenders to work with the small businesses in their communities. The NBA and our network of lending partners are on the front lines of these efforts to revitalize our economy and communities.”

In her statement, Johns ticked off a list of services available to strengthen small businesses and “undeserved communities”. They include the Small Loan Advantage (SLA) program and Community Advantage lenders, she listed.

In fiscal year 2013 alone, she reported, the SLA Program “has already surpassed total SLA loans and approved SLA dollars in FY 2012 and 2011 combined, with more than 1,000 loans approved for a total of nearly $150,000,000 since the start of the fiscal year.”

Deputy administrator Johns is already a presidential appointee, nominated by President Obama on December 17, 2009, and confirmed by unanimous consent in the Senate. Her bio on sba.gov boasts more than $30 billion in lending to more than 60,000 small businesses across the country.

“That is the most capital going to small businesses in the history of the SBA,” it states. She doesn’t have to convince Grant: “At a White House news briefing three years ago, President Barack Obama announced a number of new initiatives designed to streamline SBA guidelines and render the agency more user-friendly. Working in tandem with the Administration, Ms. Johns used her business savvy and exceptional executive skills to bring a more modern and less cumbersome SBA to community banks and small businesses, in general, and minority banks and minority-owned business enterprises in particular.”

Marie Johns, Deputy Administrative, U.S. Small Business Administration
Doyle Mitchell, president, Industrial Bank, chairman, National Bankers Association; Marie Johns, SBA Deputy Administrator; Ron Busby, President, U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce; Michael Grant, president National Bankers Association

Trice Edney Communications

Black Enterprise holds Symposium on America’s Postsecondary education challenges

Posted by Newsroom On March - 27 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

“Today’s Business Crisis: Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce,” supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & Created by Black Enterprise


Charlotte, NC (BlackNews.com) — Black Enterprise, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is pleased to present “Today’s Business Crisis: Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce,” on Wednesday, March 27, at The Westin Charlotte, Charlotte, N.C. The Symposium is part of a series aimed to cultivate a conversation between top leaders in business, philanthropy and education about the critical challenges facing the American K-12 and postsecondary educational system. The Charlotte Symposium will focus on how postsecondary schools must change to meet the needs of today’s student and prepare them for successful careers in corporate America. The Symposium will discuss and analyze challenges, and present solutions – while illustrating the role business leaders can play in supporting and improving America’s postsecondary system and ensuring students graduate ready for success in career and life.

“America’s colleges are not graduating enough students – especially those of color – to meet the demand of employers,” says Allan C. Golston, President, U.S. Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Through our work with Black Enterprise, we hope to bring new voices and perspectives to this issue…Through dialogue with African American entrepreneurs and corporate leaders, these national symposiums will provide meaningful feedback and offer solutions to help prepare more students for success in postsecondary education and beyond.”

“By assisting and increasing the quality of education with postsecondary schools,” says Dr. Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor, Harvard Law, “we give students the competitive edge to compete internationally. Colleges must continue to train, prepare and equip students for the “real world.” The students are relying on us to prepare them for the workforce and we must fulfill our obligation to teach them. All academic institutions must be willing to critically evaluate and transform their current structure, courses offered and teaching methodologies to meet the future needs of our students and our society in a cost-effective manner.”

Symposium: Today’s Business Crisis: Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce
When: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 | Time: 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Symposium | 5:00p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Reception
Where: The Westin Charlotte, 601 College Street, Charlotte, N.C., Grand Ballroom C, 2nd Floor

Moderator: Dr. Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor, Harvard Law School

One-on-one Conversation with: Dr. Ronald Carter, President, Johnson C. Smith University

Panel:
* Stephanie Butler, Global Campus Recruiting Executive, Bank of America
* David Dodson, President, MDC, Durham, N.C.
* Suzanne Walsh, Senior Program Officer, Postsecondary Success, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
* Richard “Stick” Williams, Vice President, Corporate Community Affairs, Duke Energy and President, The Duke Energy Foundation

Additional Program Participants:
* Derek Dingle, SVP/Editor-in-Chief, BLACK ENTERPRISE
* Mayor Anthony Foxx, City of Charlotte
* Allan C. Golston, President, U.S. Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
* Earl “Butch” Graves, President/CEO, BLACK ENTERPRISE

“It is imperative business leaders’ partner with the academic community ensuring our schools are producing graduates with the skills we desire for our businesses to remain competitive in this global economy,” says Earl “Butch” Graves, Jr., President and CEO, BLACK ENTERPRISE. “Black Enterprise has consistently sounded the call to address this crisis as the system even more egregiously fails our children it’s charged with educating and preparing for productive lives. If we are to have a strong workforce; we must have strong schools. We are proud to have the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to increase the focus on solutions that can ultimately resolve this crisis; and that cannot be successfully executed without business leaders being fully committed to reform education.”

“It’s a cruel irony that right now, at a time when many Americans are looking for jobs, there are businesses who can’t find qualified workers to fill open positions,” said Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. “That’s a clear signal that employers have a key role to play in the education system. By ensuring our graduates are workforce-ready, we help our young people find better jobs, we help our businesses stay strong, and we help our entire economy compete in the global marketplace.”

The Gates Foundation is committed to ensuring all students in America have access to a great education.

BLACK ENTERPRISE is the premier business, investing, and wealth-building resource for African Americans. Since 1970, BE has provided essential business information and advice to professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and decision makers. Every month, BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine provides 4.1 million readers with information on entrepreneurship, careers, and financial management. A multimedia company, BE also produces television programming, business and lifestyle events, Web content, and digital media. BLACK ENTERPRISE is the definitive source of information for and about African American business markets and leaders, and the authority on black business news and trends.

Photo Caption: Dr. Ronald L. Carter, Johnson C. Smith University

Sorority places value on community and civic service across the United States

Posted by Newsroom On March - 27 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Phenomenal women of Tau Gamma Delta Sorority, Inc.


Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Endowed with lighthearted spirits, creative minds and progressive ideas, a group of young business women gathered in 1942, in Detroit, Michigan to form a club. “Let’s have a Sorority!” said founder Juanita Parnell. So it was born, a sorority of business and professional women ever growing and attracting thousands of women across the land. Tau Gamma Sorority, Inc. was founded at Lewis Business College under the name of Phi Gamma Delta Sorority in 1942. The name was changed to Tau Gamma Delta Sorority, Inc. on October 17, 1951.

The eight founders, affectionately called “Pearls”, envisioned the organization spreading the word near and far. The pathway was made to be illuminated by the symbol of a “Star”; reaching many women in business and professional fields. Today, the vision is linked from coast to coast with chapters in the central, eastern, southern and western regions of the United States, led by a dynamic leader- Supreme Basileus Jessie Freeman of Los Angeles, California.

Tau Gamma Delta Sorority, Inc. has a tri-fold purpose including aiding worthy students in education, promoting reputable standards for growth and harmony in sisterhood and to further community and civic activities. Among their achievements, they are proud to be associated with the: NAACP, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF NEGRO WOMEN, INC. , THE UNITED NEGRO COLLEGE FUND DRIVE, NATIONAL AWARD FOR SCHOLARSHIPS AND CHARITIES, WELFARE LEGISLATURE and A.I.D.S. CRISIS. The sorority renders service at all times to the needy and the ill, sponsoring educational progress and promoting good will. Adding to their many services, they strive to serve humanity. The members of Tau Gamma Delta enjoy a bi-annual meeting of the minds called “Boulé” where sorority business, including furthering community and civic service, takes place. The 54th Boulé was hosted in July 2012 in Durham, NC also known as “The Bull City.”

The group comments, “The spirit of our Founders, those phenomenal women, made yesterday’s dreams today’s hope and tomorrow’s goal; our history was not just written, it is being lived! They fervently hope and we happily pray that God will bless us as we continue on our way, that as sorors we will work always in unity, to continue to build a great TAU GAMMA DELTA SORORITY; thus ‘Illuminating The Pathway’.”

For more details, visit www.taugammadeltasororityinc.com

Photo Caption: The Epsilon Omega Chapter of Tau Gamma Delta Sorority, Inc. (Charlotte, NC) with chapter President Sherika D. Mays

The secret to fixing school discipline? Change the behavior of adults

Posted by Newsroom On March - 27 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The Secret to Fixing School Discipline? Change the Behavior of Adults

ACEs Too High

By Jane Ellen Stevens

EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is an excerpt of the first of a series of articles about how schools in California are moving from a punitive to a supportive, compassionate approach to school discipline. The full article can be read at ACEsTooHigh. The series is funded by The California Endowment.

If fixing school discipline were a political campaign, the slogan would be, “It’s the Adults, Stupid!”

A sea change is coursing slowly but resolutely through this nation’s K-12 education system. More than 23,000 schools out of 132,000 nationwide have or are discarding a highly punitive approach to school discipline in favor of supportive, compassionate, and solution-oriented methods. Those that take the slow-but-steady road can see a 20% to 40% drop in suspensions in their first year of transformation. A few — where the principal, all teachers and staff embrace an immediate overhaul — experience higher rates, as much as an 85% drop in suspensions and a 40% drop in expulsions. Bullying, truancy, and tardiness are waning. Graduation rates, test scores and grades are trending up.

The formula is simple, really: Instead of waiting for kids to behave badly and then punishing them, schools are creating environments in which kids can succeed. “We have to be much more thoughtful about how we teach our kids to behave, and how our staff behaves in those environments that we create,” says Mike Hanson, superintendent of Fresno (CA) Unified School District, which began a district-wide overhaul of all of its 92 schools in 2008.

This isn’t a single program or a short-term trend or a five-year plan that will disappear as soon as the funding runs out. Where it’s taken hold, it’s a don’t-look-back, got-the-bit-in-the-teeth, I-can’t-belieeeeeve-we-used-to-do-it-the-old-way type of shift.

The secret to success doesn’t involve the kids so much as it does the adults: Focus on altering the behavior of teachers and administrators, and, almost like magic, the kids stop fighting and acting out in class. They’re more interested in school, they’re happier and feel safer.

“We’re changing the behavior of the adults on campuses, changing how they respond to poor behavior on kids’ part,” says Mary Ann Carousso, head of student services for Kings Canyon Unified School District in Central California, which launched a five-year plan in 2010 to revamp the district’s 20 schools.

This movement began about a dozen years ago, and has gained momentum in the last five years. The first schools to yank themselves free of the knee-jerk punitive response to bad behavior did so based on two unrelated developments.

First, suspensions and expulsions soared to ridiculous levels. By 2007, a stunning one-quarter of all public high school students had been suspended at least once during their school careers, according to a National Center for Education Statistics 2011 report. The numbers were worse for boys of color. One-third of Hispanic boys and 57% of black boys had been kicked out of school at least once.

Further, the report noted that more than three million kids are suspended or expelled each year — in 2006 that number was 3,430,830. In California, 464,050 children were kicked out of school that year, many more than once, for a total of more than 800,000 suspensions and expulsions.

The acceleration began with the adoption of broad zero-tolerance policies that spread like a prairie fire across the United States in 1995, just one year after the U.S. Congress passed the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994. Once “zero tolerance” was locked in, teachers and principals warped it, some say, by the pressure to perform well on tests. Kick the troublemakers out, and there’s less disruption and interruption in class. With those underperforming kids gone, test scores look better.

Here’s the absurd part: Only five percent of these suspensions or expulsions were for weapons or drugs. The other 95 percent? “Disruptive behavior” and “other”. This includes cell phone use, violation of dress code, talking back to a teacher, bringing scissors to class for an art project, giving Midol to a classmate, and, in at least one case, farting.

But punishment doesn’t change behavior; it just drops hundreds of thousands of flailing kids into a school to prison pipeline. The ka-ching to us taxpayers is $292,000 per dropout over his or her lifetime due to costs for more police, courts, and prisons, plus loss of income and taxes into our civic treasuries.

“Suspensions and expulsions don’t work,” says Javier Martinez, principal of Le Grand High School, Le Grand, CA. His approach is: “How do I help student overcome a problem so that it doesn’t happen again?”

“You can’t punish a behavior out of a kid,” says Jen Caldwell, a social worker at El Dorado Elementary School in San Francisco, CA. “The old-school model of discipline comes from people who think kids intentionally behave badly.”

Joseph Arruda, learning director at Reedley High School in Reedley, CA, shakes his head: “Suspending, expelling… that’s the old way.”

“It’s hard on them and on the parents,” says Andre Griggs, after-school program coordinator at Le Grand High School. “It doesn’t help the overall education of student.”

The second driver for change crept in sideways from educators who were teaching children with behavior disorders, from programs created to help kids deal with violence (particularly shootings) in and around their schools, and from restorative justice practices developed for the criminal justice system. Teachers and principals who saw the harm of zero tolerance finally had some alternatives to kicking kids out of class. All the methods focused the social and emotional lives of children, such as teaching children respect, empathy, and coping skills. Equipped with their own conflict resolution skills, teachers could defuse most situations in their classrooms instead of sending disruptive kids to the principal’s office.

The methods now have names such as PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support), Safe & Civil Schools, CBITS (Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools), restorative justice, trauma-sensitive schools, and HEARTS (Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in Schools). They all focus first on changing what teachers and administrators do. Once that’s done, most children’s behavior begins to fall into place.

PBIS is now in more than 18,000 schools nationwide, 500 in California. Safe & Civil Schools is in 5,000 schools nationwide, including several hundred in California. All public schools in Los Angeles use CBITS, San Francisco Unified School District has collaborated with HEARTS to train all of their schools’ mental health coordinators in trauma-sensitive practices, and dozens of schools up and down the state use restorative justice practices. In schools that use the programs, words like “de-escalate”, “solidify a relationship”, “develop trust”, and “teachable moments” slide off the tongues of teachers and administrators as they help students recognize, understand, and regulate their behavior, as well as ask for help.

In some schools, principals, teachers and staff embrace the changes wholeheartedly, and reserve expulsions and suspensions for carrying weapons and selling drugs, required by law. But some schools tiptoe into the change, and still enforce an automatic suspension or expulsion on kids who fight or are caught using drugs, including alcohol. In other schools, with teachers or principals who don’t believe in a compassionate approach and who still think that a heavy hand works best, little changes.

Overall, U.S. schools still lose millions of children that needn’t be lost. In California, for example, although suspensions and expulsions have dropped 12% — more than 100,000 — between 2006 and 2011, there were still more than 700,000 suspensions and expulsions during the 2010-2011 school year.

Jane Ellen Stevens is the founder and editor of ACEsTooHigh.com You can read this article in its entirety here.

Photo: Andre Griggs, after school program director, Le Grand High School

Better Business Bureau Tips for using your 2013 tax refund

Posted by Newsroom On March - 27 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – Deciding what to do if you receive a tax refund is an important decision in this economy. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) advises consumers to consider a few options that can provide some long-term financial benefits.

“For many people their tax return offers a large sum of money,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “It is important to be smart about where you spend your money as it can help set you up to have a more financially stable year.”

Here are some options for tax refund recipients:

  • Pay down your debt. Use your refund for some much needed debt relief such as paying off a credit card. You can also apply the refund toward other debts, like a car loan or a home equity loan.
  • Consider savings options. It may be beneficial to put the money into a savings account, CD or retirement fund and allow it to grow. It’s always helpful to have a savings account to draw from if a major car repair bill, medical emergency or other unexpected expense comes along. That way, you won’t have to borrow money and add to your debt-load.
  • Consider investing in your home. Using the money to spruce up your house may add to its property value. Consumers can “Request a Quote” for free from BBB Accredited Businesses at www.bbb.org
  • Donate to Charity. You may want to donate some of your tax refund to a charitable organization. Check out reports on charities in northern Illinois for free at www.bbb.org/charity
  • If debt is a problem, consider a credit counselor. Certified consumer credit counseling agencies can assist people who are facing financial challenges and are looking for debt relief. The BBB has free Business Reviews on Credit & Debt Counseling firms in northern Illinois at www.bbb.org

“It is important to consider your financial goals,” Bernas stated. “Are you trying to save for a down payment on a house or car? Do you hope to contribute to your child’s college tuition? Consider applying your tax refund toward these goals. If you don’t yet have a set of short-term and long-term financial goals, put one together. You’ll be more conscientious about how you spend your refund, or any other extra money that comes your way,” he explained.

For more consumer tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org

Did former President Bush commit willful acts of treason against the United States?

Posted by Newsroom On March - 27 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By Rev. Harold E. Bailey

President of Probation Challenge & PCC Network

A recent MSNBC report indicated in retrospect that all acts done in the Iraq invasion were uncalled for and based on nothing other than lies and acts of deceit.

I point out with the greatest of humility that Challenge Magazine first filed a release by Rev. Harold E. Bailey in this regard. In that edition, it revealed that former President George W. Bush had error in judgment regarding Iraq and has caused great embarrassment to this country!

The former president’s actions cost the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars needlessly, and caused needlessly the deaths of U.S. soldiers, whose families to this day continue to weep! These unjust aggressions toward war were because Bush who was ill-advised (convinced) by Vice President Dick Cheney to ‘play war games’ over the control of oil and with the pretense of going to battle because the United States was in treat of being attack … all lies!

We honestly concerned ourselves with the business of others, because as Bush said, “They tried to kill my father!” This was a shameful act of building a case for war, and the truth of the matter is … someone just ought to be held accountable!

•The MSNBC report indicated in retrospect that all done was uncalled for and based on nothing other than lies and acts of deceit from the mouths of by large the Republican leadership with some Democrats signing on.

The larger question is… where are the hearings on this subject matter from those Republicans and Tea Party persons who want so badly to have a just society for the U.S. people? African Americans along with all races of people were deceived by Bush, who for the greed of oil, crept into the minds and hearts of all concerned.

Where are the folk who’ve been saluting Bush? Are these the same folk who’ve now come against the Obama administration for his acts of trying to help the little-man?

An unjust and uncalled for war has caused pain and sorrow to not only the United States, but to millions of people throughout the world.

We need to take serious note: Iraq became subject to the United States, invading them for what they did not find – weapons of mass destruction! A blatant lie! This shouldn’t be a bad joke on your worst enemy!

No apology has yet been offered for these embarrassing political errors in judgment.

•As we dictate to our American youth what not to do, I would advise that you reason with yourself! Consider the overt murder and acts of violence that has separated families abroad and caused the lack of trust in these Not-So-United States of America. Remember that youth emulate that which they see!

•President Barack Obama, has inherited this mammoth of ungodly mess, and now has his hands full unraveling matters created by those who created this drama-of-war!

WWW.ProbationChallenge.org – The Truth Network.

Madigan files suit against events scammer targeting Springfield area residents

Posted by Newsroom On March - 27 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS
SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a lawsuit against an Illinois man for scamming Springfield area businesses and residents to pay for sponsorships and tickets to martial arts events that never occurred.
Madigan filed the lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court against John Dickerson, of Virginia, Ill., for conning businesses and area residents into paying to sponsor mixed martial arts events that never took place.
Madigan alleges Dickerson sold more than $1,200 worth of tickets for phony events at Glenwood High School in Chatham and at the University of Illinois at Springfield campus. As the events drew closer, Dickerson canceled or supposedly delayed the events.
Consumers who inquired with the high school or college campus were told no such event was planned. Madigan said after many consumers contacted Dickerson for refunds of $15-$25 per ticket, he ceased all contact. A Springfield area business that paid Dickerson $500 to co-sponsor an event also never received a refund.
“Dozens of Springfield area residents paid for what they thought were legitimate events only to discover it was a scam,” Madigan said. “My office has filed this lawsuit in an attempt to recoup the money they lost to this scam.”
The Attorney General’s lawsuit asks the court to require Dickerson to pay restitution to consumers affected by the scam and asks the court to impose civil penalties on the defendant.
Madigan urged consumers who may have been victimized by this scam to contact her office’s Consumer Fraud hotline at 1-800-243-0618.
Assistant Attorney General Philip Heimlich is handling the case for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.

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