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Archive for October 21st, 2013

Tenants Call for Attorney General’s Intervention in Illegal Evictions

Posted by Admin On October - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Garfield Park tenants who were the victims of an illegal utility shut-off will gather for a press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 11 a.m. to demand that the court-appointed receiver of their foreclosed building cease attempts to evict them and demolish their building. They will also speak out against the practice of illegal “back-door” evictions by banks, developers and receivers.

The press conference will be held tomorrow, October 22, at 506-508 N. Monticello Ave. at 11 A.M.

Tenants at 506/508 N Monticello have been without gas or water for nearly three weeks after their water pipes were physically removed in an attempt to force them to leave. Now they have been told they must vacate their apartment building by October 23, after which point the receiver will seek to put the building into demolition. Tenants will be joined by supporters from Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction and neighbors who oppose demolition of the 14-unit building. Neighborhood residents will also speak out against the practice of illegal “back-door” evictions by banks, developers and receivers. Last month, Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against Safeguard Properties LLC for illegally evicting homeowners before a foreclosure is finalized, but tenants say the practice is much more widespread.

Illinois State Board of Education selects Pam Reilly of Woodbury Elementary School 2014 “Teacher of the Year”

Posted by Admin On October - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Second Grade Teacher Pam Reilly of Woodbury Elementary School in Sandwich CUSD 430 selected from 11 finalists

NORMAL, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education named a second grade teacher from Sandwich Community Unit School District 430 as the 2014 Illinois Teacher of the Year. One of 11 finalists, Pam Reilly of Woodbury Elementary was announced as this year’s top educator during Saturday night’s 39th annual Those Who Excel/Illinois Teacher of the Year banquet in Normal.

“Pam’s passion for teaching and her enthusiasm for helping her students succeed is so genuine and sincere that students are immediately drawn to her,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “She really inspires her students, their parents and her colleagues and I’m confident Pam will be an excellent representative of Illinois teachers.”

Now in her 12th year of teaching, Pam is recognized as a collaborator and a leader by her colleagues in the Sandwich district, home of six schools serving more than 2,300 students in northern Illinois. She seeks advice and guidance from teachers in the higher grades so that she can help her students be prepared for the challenges they will face after they leave her classroom.

Colleague and third grade teacher Doni Morgan says Pam is “the perfect blend of light heartedness and commitment.” Pam stresses that students are in control of their own learning and that although she may do the planning and preparation for the school day, it is the students who are doing the important work.

Pam understands the importance of addressing a child’s social, emotional as well as academic needs. She advocates for hungry students, those with absent parents, financially stressed families and students who need to be more challenged. Pam believes that all children, regardless of their circumstances, can thrive and learn.

A graduate of Aurora University with a Bachelor of Science in education, Pam also holds a Master of Education from National-Louis University. She is a continuous participant in all types of professional development and is constantly researching and planning engaging and relevant lessons.

During reading exercises, Pam likes to use different voices and personas for specific characters and books. Her students instantly recognize which book they are about to read based on Pam’s voice and they get ready to learn.

A former second grade student describes Pam’s teaching in this way: “She kept us focused so we wouldn’t think of the things we didn’t need to know. She taught us the things we do need to know,” the student wrote in her nominating letter. “Mrs. Reilly also kept us motivated. She made us very intelligent.”

More than 180 nominations for Those Who Excel were reviewed and scored three times by a selection committee comprised of administrators, teachers and school board members. Principals, faculty, parents and students submit letters on behalf of candidates as part of the nomination process.

The 11 finalists for Teacher of the Year were interviewed and videotaped, and those interviews were scored again before going to State Superintendent Koch for a final decision.

As Illinois Teacher of the Year, Pam will have opportunities to share her knowledge and expertise outside the classroom. Beginning in the 2014 spring semester, Pam will be available to speak at teaching workshops, educational conferences and community meetings. She will represent Illinois at the NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and in the National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers, ING and Target. Reilly will also receive products from SMARTer Kids.

Prominent leaders push for expansion of Bacterial Meningitis Vaccine

Posted by Admin On October - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Health Disparities Working Group Urges the CDC to Ensure All Families Have Equal Access to Immunizations

ATLANTA, IL – A Working Group of prominent leaders is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expand the recommendations for the bacterial meningitis vaccine to include infants as young as six months old at its upcoming meeting.

Former Congressmen J.C. Watts, Jr., and Ron Dellums along with National Medical Association President Michael A. LeNoir, M.D. are leading a newly formed Health Disparities Working Group.  “We are excited about the strength of the working group and our first project which is focused on advocating for an expanded vaccinations recommendation that would help to ensure low-income and minority communities are not disadvantaged in access to quality medical care,” said Dr. LeNoir.

“We are concerned about the ‘vaccine gap’ in this country, which allows more affluent communities to receive important immunizations that are largely inaccessible to low-income and minority communities, and contributes to the growing health disparities,” Congressman Watts said. “We believe adding the bacterial meningitis vaccine to the recommended list for infants will help ensure that low-income and minority communities that rely on federal and state vaccination programs will have access to this life-saving medication,” added Congressman Dellums.

Current Working Group members include Millicent Gorham, Executive Director for the National Office of the National Black Nurses Association, Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund, Dr. Gary Puckrein, President and CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum, Daraka Satcher, President of the Satcher Group and Hilary Shelton, Executive Director Government Affairs for The NAACP.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet on October 23, 2013 to consider recommending the bacterial meningitis vaccine for children as young as six months old. Adding the vaccine to the routine immunization schedule will ensure that it will be included in the federal Vaccines for Children program, which provides approximately 82 million vaccines to 40 million low-income children each year. The recommendation will also improve vaccine coverage among private insurers and devote resources to education about the disease.

“A failure by ACIP to recommend the bacterial meningitis vaccine for children will perpetuate the disproportionately high rates of amenable morbidity and mortality associated with this disease in underserved populations throughout the country. We urge ACIP to be decisive and proactive in protecting the health and futures of all of America’s children,” said Dr. Puckrein.

Bacterial meningitis, while rare, is a deadly disease that kills approximately 500 people each year. The first symptoms are often similar to a cold or flu, but in hours the bacteria can attack the body, leaving those who survive with lost limbs, learning disabilities and hearing loss. The African-American community is at greater risk for bacterial meningitis because many low-income black families face key risk factors, including over-crowding, underlying illnesses and tobacco use.

About The Working Group

One of the Working Group’s projects is to raise awareness about the growing disparity in health for low-income and minority families in the United States, which the National Institute of Health recently labeled as one of the nation’s greatest challenges. A recent CDC report found large racial, ethnic and income disparities in preventable hospitalizations, where blacks experience a rate more than double that of whites. Preventable incidents account for more than 1 million hospitalizations each year, at a cost of more than $6.7 billion annually.

The Working Group will work on a myriad of issues facing low-income and minority communities, including the so-called “vaccine gap.” The NIH has identified access to vaccines as a major factor in curbing health disparities. Studies have found that minorities are more likely to not receive immunizations because of limited access to preventative healthcare and lack of education on the importance of regular vaccinations.

Watts, Dellums and LeNoir will serve as co-chairs of the Working Group. During his time in Congress, Watts was a fierce advocate for health disparities.  Watts worked closely with Congresswoman Donna Christensen to pass a sense of Congress that April should be National Minority Health Month.  Dellums was a staunch supporter of programs to end infectious diseases during his more than four-decade career in public service. President Clinton appointed Dellums to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in 1999. Dr. LeNoiris the current President of NMA and has been an active member for 30 years. LeNoir’s other leadership roles with NMA include speaker of the House of Delegates, trustee, and chair of Region VI and chair of the Pediatric, Community Medicine and Allergy sections.

The Family Institute at Northwestern University to host Love & Happiness: Relationships in the African American Community

Posted by Admin On October - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Event to be held October 29th in Matteson, IL

EVANSTON, IL – The Family Institute at Northwestern University, an organization committed to strengthening and healing families from all walks of life through clinical service, education and research, announces its first event in the Circle of Knowledge Event Series, entitled Love & Happiness: Relationships in the African American Community. The event will be held on Tuesday, October 29 at 7:00 in Matteson, IL at Victory Apostolic Church.

Intimate partnered relationships are vitally important to fostering and maintaining our social, familial and emotional well being. Everyone benefits — both adults and their children. But what exactly does a healthy intimate relationship look like? Is there a roadmap to finding, building and maintaining a stable, long-term relationship? What can be done to strengthen these relationships to provide couples with the intimacy, happiness and longevity they seek and deserve? Love & Happiness: Relationships in the African American Community will address these questions and more, and how these issues impact the African American community.

The event features Bishop Horace Smith, who will speak on the topic of African American relationships and the challenges and opportunities present within them. Bishop Smith, pastor of the Apostolic Faith Church and an attending physician specializing in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Children’s Memorial Hospital, brings his years of medical and interpersonal relationship expertise to his presentation.

Bishop Smith’s talk will be followed by a panel discussion featuring relationship experts Dr. Anthony Chambers, Staff Licensed Clinical Psychologist at The Family Institute and Director of The Institute’s Couples Therapy Program and the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, and Dr. Donna Baptiste, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Licensed Family Therapist at The Institute.

The discussion will be facilitated by Dr. Reginald Richardson, PhD., LCSW., and Vice President for Evaluation and Clinical Services at The Family Institute. “The African American social fabric is still the same,” says Dr. Richardson. “It’s faith, it’s family, it’s education. So we’re going to talk about those things.”

The event will be held at Victory Apostolic Church at 20801 Matteson Avenue, Matteson, IL. Registration is at 6:30 p.m. and Bishop Smith’s presentation begins at 7:00. The event is free of charge but donations are accepted.

For more information on this event or the Circle of Knowledge Event Series, please call 312-609-5300, ext. 480 or visit www.family-institute.org/cok. For more information on The Family Institute, contact Tammy Reed at 312-609-5300, ext. 484, or visit www.family-institute.org.

About The Family Institute at Northwestern University

An affiliate of Northwestern University, The Family Institute is a unique, innovative not-for-profit organization, governed by its own independent Board of Directors and responsible for its own funding. The Institute offers a wide range of high quality mental health counseling services through our staff practice and sliding-fee scale clinic, where we are committed to serving at-risk, under-resourced communities. The Family Institute also operates two nationally-renowned graduate programs in marriage and family therapy and counseling psychology in affiliation with Northwestern university, and conducts cutting-edge research projects that lead to better understanding and treatment of mental health issues

Kirk, Merkley urge Consumer Agency to act on problem of Medical Debt on Credit Reports

Posted by Admin On October - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to investigate the issue of medical debt in credit reports, a leading cause of costly errors and delinquencies. Due to the complexity of medical billing systems, many consumers do not discover that they owe money until they check their credit reports to apply for a home or car loan or a credit card.

“The inclusion of medical debt in credit scoring practices can have severe negative effects on consumers,” the Senators wrote. “What begins as an unpredictable medical hardship or even an error that is not the fault of the consumer, can lead to long-lasting damage to a consumer’s ability to buy a home, obtain a credit card, and fully participate in our economy.”

Medical debt is unlike other types of debt in that it often occurs unexpectedly as the result of an unplanned illness or emergency. Additionally, due to complex billing processes and disputes between consumers, providers and insurance companies, consumers frequently do not even know they are responsible for medical debts before they are sent to collections.

More than one in five consumers have errors on their credit reports, and 80 percent of consumers with medical debt data on their credit reports would have experienced an increase in scores were that data removed from credit scores. Credit bureaus and lenders have testified to Congress that medical debt is a poor predictor of creditworthiness and that it would not harm the predictive value of credit reports to remove medical debt data.

The CFPB has begun to look into medical debt in credit scoring and the Senators urged them to complete their work quickly and release their report.

The full letter follows below.
October 18, 2013
The Honorable Richard Cordray
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
1700 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20552
Dear Director Cordray:
We write to express our continuing interest in addressing the challenge of medical debt in credit reports, and we are pleased to hear that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is looking into this issue.  Medical debt is different from other types of debt as it is an unplanned expense, often resulting from an unforeseen illness or emergency. Additionally, due to the medical billing process in which billing disputes and errors can spur the incurrence of medical debt, consumers often do not even know that they are responsible for a medical debt before it has been reported to collections.

The inclusion of medical debt in credit scoring practices can have severe negative effects on consumers.  According to the Commonwealth Fund, nearly 73 million adults faced difficulties paying medical bills in 2010.  Additionally, a study on credit report accuracy published in the Federal Reserve Bulletin found that approximately 80 percent of those with medical collection data on their credit reports would have experienced an increase in scores if the medical debt was not factored in to the scoring algorithm.

Furthermore, lowered credit scores resulting from medical debt are often reported in error. In February 2013, the Federal Trade Commission released the results of a comprehensive study of credit reporting errors, finding 21 percent of American consumers had an error on a credit report from at least one of the three major credit reporting companies.  Thirteen percent of consumers had errors serious enough to change their credit scores.  Unlike with other industries, when an error is made on a consumer’s credit report the consumer does not have the ability to switch companies, as all consumers are beholden to the major credit reporting agencies. In this way, what begins as an unpredictable medical hardship or even an error that is not the fault of the consumer, can lead to long-lasting damage to a consumer’s ability to buy a home, obtain a credit card, and fully participate in our economy.

Moreover, medical debt is such a poor predictor of creditworthiness that credit bureaus and lenders have testified to Congress that removing medical debt from consideration would not harm the predictive value of consumer credit reports.

Many consumers mistakenly believe that unpaid medical bills have no influence over one’s credit score.  However, without changes, medical debt will continue to negatively impact consumers’ lives.  We welcome and encourage efforts by the CFPB to investigate and examine medical debt in order to further inform the discussion regarding how best to address its effects on consumer credit.

We urge the CFPB to move quickly to examine these issues and share its conclusions. We look forward to a speedy response.

‘Yes, We Can’?

Posted by Admin On October - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By William E. Spriggs

Adults took over Washington, D.C., and now America can catch its breath after another manufactured crisis in our economy: 16 days of a federal shutdown that disrupted virtually every aspect of the economy, from small business loans to veterans’ funerals. But, what now?

Clearly, Republicans hurt their brand, recklessly risking default on America’s debt obligations they helped create with tax cuts for the rich. Republicans are now grappling with what to do with their tea party extremists whose obstinate behavior prolonged the crisis they set out to create. The American people have resoundingly rejected that sort of behavior of bargaining by ultimatum and taking the government and the American people hostage to their demands. Republicans must come to grips with having lost the presidential election and the national debate on their policy themes.

To show they can govern responsibly, they must now find how to offer constructive engagement in the national dialogue to gain compromise on the course of policies. Elections have consequences, one of which must be acceptance of the will of the American people to move in a different direction. Taking the course of passive resistance to refuse to do their work to pass budgets and pay America’s bills is not acceptable.

But, having won this round, and in hopes Republicans understand their role is to be a partner in governing, the president also has challenges ahead. He must continue to take on and point out the extremist nature of the tea party demands. The tea party has made clear it does not negotiate, it does not compromise. The president is not negotiator in chief; his job is not to yield our nation’s fortunes to the whims of a vocal, and wrong, minority like the tea party. His job is to unite the 80 percent of us who do not have their extreme views.

First, the president needs to recognize that since 2010, he has paid too much attention to pleasing the tea party and its views and too little attention and focus on the real issues at hand. Five years since the financial markets collapsed, the economy is not well. The tea party believes, and the president has compromised to help them get their policy view implemented, that the problem is government. He froze the pay of federal workers and has reduced the size of the federal workforce. He now has federal expenditures at levels lower than in 2008 under George W. Bush.

The federal deficit, measured against the size of the economy, is half the size it was when he took office, and the long-term debt and deficit outlook shows it is a diminishing problem. This is the economic frame of the tea party. It is a vision that if we shrink the government, all will be fine. If the government gets out of the way, corporations will be more profitable, the stock market will boom, the rich will get richer and investment in the economy will soar and the economy will expand.

And the tea party is getting the economy shaped, according their vision: corporate profits have soared during this recovery. They are higher and make a growing share of the economy while wages are a shrinking share. The stock market is operating at record levels for its indexes. The rich are getting richer. Their incomes continue to climb as their share of income reaches even higher levels.

But what has this austerity gotten us? We still have nearly 2 million fewer payroll jobs than in January 2008, and the share of Americans who are employed remains stuck at its 2010 level, more than 3 percentage points below its 2008 level. The median income of families is still lower than in 2008. The number of U.S. children in poverty is higher than in 2008. Our investment in our children’s basic education, expenditure per pupil in kindergarten through high school, is near record lows. Families’ number one debt after their mortgage is now loans to pay for college education to make up for the gap in investment we are failing to make in higher education.

This experiment with compromising with the tea party on its vision of what is hurting the economy is clearly failing. It isn’t just that the tea party’s tactics are wrong-it is that their policies take us nowhere. This isn’t about compromising. It is about leadership and vision.

In 2008, President Barack Obama campaigned with the slogan, “Yes, We Can.” To Americans convinced that George Bush had taken us in the wrong direction, it inspired a belief that we could transform from policies to serve the rich to policies that put America’s families first. The American public bought into the idea that a new metric would rule: America is doing well if America’s families were doing well. We wouldn’t measure the economy by the stock market index and the health of Wall Street; we would measure success by our children and their well-being.

The vision of the tea party is clear. This economy is doing well. If most Americans are not doing well, it is because they are lazy malcontents. Corporate profits are soaring, Wall Street is all smiles, the rich are getting richer so those who aren’t on one of those trains have only themselves to blame. We just need to continue on the path we are on: smaller and smaller government. We had an election in 2012 when Mitt Romney got to deliver that vision-and he lost.

President Obama must return to leading. There needs to be a clear vision of where America is headed. There has to be clear acknowledgement that this path is failing us. His speech on Thursday did not do that. Cutting people off from food-as the tea party-led House did with its cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that also would cut more than 200,000 children from reduced price school lunches-in service to helping shrink the government to make the world safer for corporate profits and tax-free lives for the rich is not measuring America’s success by our children’s well-being. Threatening the future of Social Security and Medicaid benefits for our children who currently have the lowest level of employment of any American generation, in jobs that pay poorly and provide no retirement benefits, in the name of smaller government and lower taxes for the rich is not a vision of a society that measures its success based on the well-being of its children.

Continuing to fight against funding for teachers to replace the hundreds of thousands lost to our children’s classrooms, overcrowding their classrooms and cutting our investment in our children’s education so the government can be smaller and the rich richer is not creating a society focused on the well-being of our children. Letting our infrastructure collapse, so our children will be faced with even higher bills to fix our roads, update our water and sewer systems and keep our ports operable, so the rich can pay fewer taxes, is not putting the welfare of our children first.

Can we use this moment to return to a vision where the American people get a government that works to create an economy that serves them, rather than a government that thinks the role of the people is to serve corporate profits? Can President Obama lead away from the destructive path we are on, stuck on tripling down on the tea party vision of even more deficit reduction? Can President Obama admit the economy is failing Main Street and set a new vision aimed at the security of America’s families?

Can President Obama give voice to the concern of the unemployed who have their benefits threatened when they are set to expire in December, so they are part of the crisis? Can President Obama heal the damage being done to our federal civil servants who continue with frozen pay and serve as cannon fodder for political games rather than the respected protectors of our safety and providers of our civil life? Can President Obama stop selling trade agreements that boost corporate profits at the expense of American jobs and communities as the necessary sacrifice to corporations’ health and instead focus on agreements that stop the global race to the bottom on wages, workers’ safety and the environment?

In 2008, then-Sen. Obama extolled us, “Yes, We Can.” In 2013, let’s hope he still believes in America’s people enough to double down the bets on us. He needs to lead in uniting the 80 percent who want to believe that we just won back our government, so the government can serve us: “Can We?”

Follow Spriggs on Twitter: @WSpriggs.

Contact: Amaya Smith-Tune Acting Director, Media Outreach AFL-CIO 202-637-5142.

Motown Legend Lamont Dozier’s new Chi-town project “Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money”

Posted by Admin On October - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Mr Chickee's Funny Money

Chicago Children’s Theatre’s World Premiere R&B Musical, based on the book by Christopher Paul Curtis, featuring music by Motown Legend Lamont Dozier, debuts January 18 – March 2, 2014

CHICAGO, IL – Chicago Children’s Theatre is tuning up to present the world premiere of Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money, an all-new, rhythm and blues family musical based on the book by Christopher Paul Curtis, featuring music and lyrics by Motown legend Lamont Dozier and his son, co-music writer/lyricist Paris Dozier, book by David Ingber, directed by Derrick Sanders, musical supervision by Brian Usifer.

Performances are January 18 – March 2, 2014 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, Chicago. Press opening is Friday, January 24 at 7 p.m.

Single tickets to Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money are on sale now, and start at $25. To purchase, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call (872) 222-9555. For information on discounted group rates for schools, playgroups, birthday parties and scouting organizations, visit GroupTix.net or call (773) 327-3778.  Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money is recommended for ages 6 and up.

Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money is adapted from the best-selling young adult book by Christopher Paul Curtis, who also penned Bud, Not Buddy, the Newbery Award-winning book which spawned Chicago Children’s Theatre’s 2013 smash hit, world premiere play Bud, Not Buddy.

CCT’s newest family musical follows the misadventures of 9-year-old Steven, a self-proclaimed spy and president of the “Flint Future Detectives Club.” At the heart of this whimsical story is a highly intelligent, out-of-the-box thinker, and entrepreneurial boy, who discovers that family, friends, imagination and determination are the true keys to success; and sharing the spotlight with others can make one even richer.

Throughout, Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money rocks to a diverse new set list of original songs, all so high-energy and entertaining that kids won’t even know they’re being treated to a live medley of popular musical genres ranging from Motown, disco, rap, rock, jazz and hip hop.

As a member of Holland-Dozier-Holland in the 1960’s, Lamont Dozier (music writer/lyricist) is credited for being one of the primary architects of the Motown Sound, responsible for writing, co-writing and producing more than 54 #1 hits for The Supremes, Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Freda Payne and a host of others. His hits include Stop in the Name of Love, How Sweet It Is, Reach Out I’ll Be There, Where Did Our Love Go and more.

Dozier has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, from which he received the 2009 Johnny Mercer Award, the highest praise a songwriter can achieve. He has worked with such contemporary acts as Alison Moyet, Aretha Franklin, Simply Red, Phil Collins, Boy George, Eric Clapton, Kanye West, Joss Stone, Solange Knowles, Dave Stewart, Sir Cliff Richard, Phil Collins and George Benson. His music catalogue is one of the most sampled to date by everyone from rappers Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Lil Wayne, Dr. Dre, The Alchemist, Common, Lupe Fiasco and Three 6 Mafia, to soul icons Mary J. Blige, Nas and Usher, and even alternative rockers Linkin Park.

Paris Dozier (co-music writer/lyricist) is a native of LosAngeles. Dozier’s professional career in music began when he was 15, writing songs for artists on Hollywood Records, Disney, where he would be signed two years after as a singer/songwriter and producer. While at Hollywood Records, Dozier was mentored by and produced an album with Rob Cavallo, most notably regarded as the producer who discovered Green Day and is now the CEO ofWarner Music Group. Dozier later became musical theme writer for B-InTune Television on UPN 13. He continues to write and produce for various artists in just about every genre of music.

Derrick Sanders (director) is Founding Artistic Director of Congo Square Theatre Company, a Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year in 2005, and winner of multiple Joseph Jefferson Awards and Black Theater Alliance Awards. His most recent collaborations with Chicago Children’s Theater – last season’s world premiere of Bud, Not Buddy and the 2011 world premiere of Jackie and Me, written by Steven Dietz, based on the book by Dan Gutman – both enjoyed widespread critical acclaim and nearly sold-out runs at the Ruth Page. CCT’s version of Jackie and Me has since received productions at Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, New York’s Atlantic Theatre Company, and in Seattle, Houston and St. Louis. The script was recently published by Dramatic Publishing.

Brian Usifer (music supervision, arrangements and orchestration) was Music Director of Kinky Boots on Broadway, Associate Music Supervisor of The Book of Mormon on Broadway, and played in the orchestra of Broadway and off-Broadway productions of The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee, Avenue Q, Altar Boyz, Sister Act, Wicked and Burnt Part Boys.

David Ingber (book) is a New York-based writer/composer. His musicals include Fantasy Football:  The Musical and Zombies Actually. He writes video content for the Major League Baseball Fan Cave, and he has written for web series including ESPN’s Mayne Street with Kenny Mayne and Microsoft’s Fasterpiece Theater.

The design team is Courtney O’Neill (scenic design); Rebecca Jeffords (lighting design); Ray Nardelli (sound); Christine Pascual (costume design); Kevin Iega Jeff (choreography); Margaret Goddard-Knop (properties design); and Sam Deutsch (puppet design). Dennis Conners is production stage manager.  The cast is TBA.

Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money was workshopped in Summer 2013 at the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University’s In the Works program, supported in part by an Arts Work grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

Chicago Children’s Theatre’s world premiere of Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money is presented in association with Funny Money Enterprises and Bisno Productions.

Chicago Children’s Theatre’s world premiere of Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money will be followed by a New York production at The Atlantic Theater Company in Spring 2014.

Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money performance schedule

Previews of Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money are Saturday and Sunday, January 18 and 19 at 11 a.m; and Tuesday through Friday, January 21-24 at 10 a.m. Press opening is Friday, January 24 at 7 p.m.  Performances that weekend are Saturday, January 25 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., and Sunday January 26 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Performances continue through February 2: Tuesday at 10 a.m., Wednesday at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., Thursday at 10 a.m., Friday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., and Sunday at 11 a.m.  Starting the week of February 3 through February 23, regular performance times are Tuesday at 10 a.m., Wednesday at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., Thursday at 10 a.m., Friday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., and Sunday at 11 a.m.

*Please note: The Friday, February 14, 6 p.m. performance of Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money is Autism-Friendly. The entire house is reserved exclusively for families with children on the autism spectrum. This creates a safe, welcoming environment for children with autism, where nobody needs to worry if a child gets loud or active. All seats are $25.

The final week of performances are Wednesday and Thursday, February 26 and 27 at 10 a.m.; Friday, February 28 at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 1 at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., and Sunday, March 2 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Tickets are $25 for children and adults to Friday night performances. Tickets to weekend shows are $28 for children, $38 for adults. To purchase, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call (872) 222-9555. For discounted school, scout, playgroup, extended family and other group rates, visit GroupTix.net or call  (773) 327-3778.  Running time is 75 minutes with no intermission.

Save with a CCT Family Membership Pass

The most affordable way to enjoy CCT’s 2013-14 season is to purchase a Family Membership Pass, on sale now and offering a 20 percent discount on all three plays this season including A Year with Frog and Toad (now through November 24, Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money (January 21-March 2), and the return of Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar (at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie April 25 – 26, moving to The Ruth Page April 29 – June 1.)

Family Membership Passes also come with exclusive benefits like invitations to members-only behind-the-scenes events and discounts at nearby family-friendly restaurants. To purchase a Family Membership Pass or for more information, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call the Chicago Children’s Theatre Box Office,
(872) 222-9555.

About Chicago Children’s Theatre

Chicago Children’s Theatre (CCT) focuses on the production of first-rate children’s theatre, with top writing, performing and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise. CCT aspires to enrich our community through diverse and significant theatrical and educational programming that engages and inspires the child in all of us.

Launched in 2005, Chicago Children’s Theatre strives to provide affordable and accessible theatre for families and area school children. To enhance the impact of any given production’s themes, Chicago Children’s Theatre offers educational materials and programs for families and educators.

Led by Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell, and Board Chair Todd Leland, the company is supported by a committed Artistic Council of Chicago-based actors, directors, musicians and designers, and a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of dedicated individuals from the fields of entertainment, philanthropy and business.  Officers include David Saltiel, President; Jacqueline Tilton, Vice Chair; Lynn Lockwood Murphy, Vice Chair and Secretary; and David Chung, Treasurer.

Chicago Children’s Theatre is sponsored in part by ComEd, Goldman Sachs Gives, JPMorgan Chase and Target.

For more information about Chicago Children’s Theatre visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org, call CCT’s dedicated box office line, (872) 222-9555, or the administrative office, (773) 227-0180.

Metra and Pace votes clear way for $1 billion Illiana Expressway: Votes further demonstrate political influence on transit agency boards

Posted by Admin On October - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

(From the Active Transportation Alliance)

CHICAGO, IL — In another sign that Metra is run by politics and not dedication to better transit, the agency voted yesterday at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to support the Illiana Expressway and to spend at least another $80 million more in public money on the project. Pace voted similarly. The vote in support of the Illiana passed 11 to 8 and would have failed if Metra and Pace voted No.

“Our region’s transit system is undermined by transit agency board members whose main allegiance is to the people who appoint them and not to creating better transit,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “Yesterday’s vote is another example of that fact. The Illiana Expressway is a train wreck for transit, and Metra and Pace voted for it anyway.”

The Illiana would be funded by state transportation dollars and tolls, and is planned as a highway bypass around the region in southern Will County, miles from all but a few transit routes. It would tap into a very limited pool of regional transportation funds, leaving less money for transit repairs, the CTA Red Line extension, Union Station modernization and other crucial transit projects.

“CTA and Metra can’t afford to properly maintain their trains and buses, and most people in the Chicago region don’t use transit because it doesn’t get them where they need to go,” said Burke. “There is no excuse for Metra and Pace giving money away to the Illiana, which will serve fewer people than the CTA’s Ashland bus route. The public’s trust in Metra and Pace is further shaken, and it’s more clear than ever that reforms are needed.”

More than 500 transit riders contacted Metra and Pace urging them to oppose the Illiana ahead of yesterday’s vote.

Burke noted that yesterday’s Illiana vote adds to a growing list of scandals and missteps that demonstrate political influence on transit boards, including Metra CEO Alex Clifford’s resignation, charges of political pressure on transit hiring decisions, and at least seven transit board members resigning amid allegations of double-dipping (collecting two government paychecks), dodging court-ordered repayments, misrepresenting home addresses and covering up misdeeds.

“Calls for reform are already echoing across the region to eliminate political influence on transit boards and prevent future scandals,” said Burke. “Metra and Pace had a chance yesterday to restore public’s trust in transit leadership. Instead their votes ought to make those calls louder.”

“In the coming days, the Active Transportation Alliance and our Riders for Better Transit network will advocate for reforms to ensure that transit agencies are represented by board members who put transit first and aren’t mere puppets for the people who appoint them,” said Burke.

Active Trans also called upon the governor and Illinois Department of Transportation to spend more time and money on fixing and expanding regional transit — the only sustainable way to reduce roadway congestion, along with more walking and biking — and less time championing sprawl-inducing highway expansions.

Riders for Better Transit is an Active Transportation Alliance campaign that serves as a voice for riders to help boost transit funding and encourage transit-related projects that will benefit their communities.

The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit, member-based advocacy organization that works to make bicycling, walking and public transit so safe, convenient and fun that we will achieve a significant shift from environmentally harmful, sedentary travel to clean, active travel. The organization builds a movement around active transportation, encourages physical activity, increases safety and builds a world-class transportation network. The Active Transportation Alliance is North America’s largest transportation advocacy organization, supported by more than 7,000 members, 1,000 volunteers and 40 full-time staff.

For more information on the Active Transportation Alliance, visit www.activetrans.org or call 312.427.3325.

VA Black Firm Agency of Record for leading medical institution

Posted by Admin On October - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

West Cary Group named Agency of Record for Virginia Eye Institute

Richmond, VA (BlackNews.com) – West Cary Group, an award-winning, performance marketing firm headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, has been selected as the agency of record for the Virginia Eye Institute (VEI). The agency will be responsible for the full spectrum of advertising, marketing, communications and public relations needs.

“Marketing one of Virginia’s leading medical institutions is an honor,” says Moses Foster, president and CEO of West Cary Group. “We’re excited to expand VEI’s reputation for excellence, while increasing awareness of the breadth of its services and the dedication of its physicians to patients and the community.”

VEI currently has 11 locations throughout Central Virginia and offers comprehensive eye care, from yearly exams to the most advanced surgical procedures.

“West Cary Group’s focus on analytics and ROI was the deciding factor,” says Brad Smith, CEO of VEI. “We’re confident they’ll deliver a data-driven marketing plan that enhances our brand, increases our market share and allows us to serve our customers in the very best way possible.”

About West Cary Group

West Cary Group is a full-service, minority-owned advertising and marketing communications agency founded in 2007 by Moses Foster. The firm specializes in accountable, performance-driven marketing. West Cary Group’s capabilities include digital advertising and media, mobile application design and development, web design and development, brand marketing and advertising, direct response marketing and employee communications. For more details, visit www.westcarygroup.com

The National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc., to meet in Hampton, Virginia on November 6-10

Posted by Admin On October - 21 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Another first under the Emancipation Oak

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Hampton, Virginia will be the center of the Black Storytelling world! On November 6 – 10, 2013, The National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. (NABS) will present the 31st “In the Tradition…” Annual National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference” at the Hampton Crowne Plaza – Marina and throughout the Hampton community. A festival highlight is the Brother Blue Circle of Elders Ceremony at the Emancipation Oak on the campus of Hampton University. It was under the shade of the young oak that the first classroom was held for newly freed men and women. It was standing above the roots of the oak that the first Southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation took place. It is under the massive branches of the oak that the adult grand prize winner of NABS’ first online Storytelling Contest “In Response to the Trayvon Martin Tragedy and the Culture of Violence in our Community” will continue the tradition. Just as the oak kept growing, Karima Amin of Buffalo, New York will share her story and tell us to “Keep it Moving.”

Co-Founder Linda Goss wrote an official response to the ongoing violence and injustice in our community. This call to action prompted the use of creative force by eliciting relevant stories on video from across the nation. Screen showings of the collection will be another first at the festival.

The premiere “In the Tradition…” Festival of Black Storytelling was held at Morgan State University in Baltimore in 1983 and, thirty years later, it is coming to Hampton for the first time and only the second time ever in Virginia! In honor of our Ancestors and in encouraging preservation of our traditions, this year’s theme is “Connecting With Our Youth: One Voice, Many Stories!”

Featured Storytellers including Sonia Sanchez will share performances in eleven formal storytelling concerts. Other Master Storytellers from around the country, as well as, beginners, storytellers with instruments and storytellers who dance, storytellers of all styles will be on hand to entertain, inspire, educate and enliven myths, recite poems and recount the history of a people. Local Hampton youth as well as adult storytellers and other national artists will participate in celebrating the Black storytelling legacy in Virginia, the nation and throughout the world!

The National Association of Black Storytellers is proud to present this one-of-a-kind event to the wonderful city of Hampton and throughout the community! Thousands of youth and adults, schools and libraries, will experience – “In the Tradition…” – the spirit of Black Storytelling. The Hampton public and attendees from all over the country are invited and encouraged to participate and attend. Complete information can be found at www.nabsinc.org

Other highlights are:

* PRE-FESTIVAL EVENT: Featuring Hampton’s finest young and some “not-so-young” performers of spoken word, storytellers, musicians, dancers and a whole lot more!! Being held on Wednesday, November 6th at the Crowe Plaza Hampton-Marina at 7 pm. FREE and open to the public!

* ADOPT-A-TELLER: Storytellers available to perform in local schools, libraries and for organizations all week long.

* WORKSHOPS: For the teller, for the youth, for the teacher, for the librarian, for the spiritual leader, for the community service provider covering varied interests in and levels of storytelling.

* OPENING GALA, STORYTELLING CONCERT & MARY CARTER SMITH LOVE CIRCLE: Traditional opening with stories, music & dance at Hampton University’s Ogden Hall.

* AFRICAN AMERICAN MARKET PLACE/KARAMU CORNER: Cultural clothing, instruments, jewelry and more! Storytelling, demonstrations, games and culture “talk” sharing as would be occurring at any marketplace.

* VILLAGE STORYTELLING CONCERT: Our fourteen Affiliates from across the country will share their unique regional and cultural flare as they weave their stories throughout the Hampton University Museum. A crowd pleaser!

* YOUTH & ADULT LIARS’ CONTEST: Festival Favorite! Members and the Hampton community non-members can compete…sharing their fantastic fabrications.

* ZORA NEALE HURSTON AWARD AND STORYTELLING CONCERT: An evening storytelling concert and recognition of excellence in the Black storytelling community!

* UNITY CIRCLE: Sacred stories and traditional closing bring the weekend to an end.

About NABS:
In 1982, nationally renowned storytellers, Baltimore’s first officially appointed Griot – the late, great Mary Carter Smith of Baltimore, Maryland, and esteemed Linda Goss of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – founded the “In the Tradition…” National Black Storytelling Festival. These visionaries then created the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc., to promote and perpetuate the art of Black Storytelling an art form, which embodies the history, heritage, and culture of African Americans.

Since the first Festival and Conference in Baltimore, NABS has traveled around the nation; most recently, New Orleans (’04), Tampa (’05), San Diego (’06), Atlanta (’07), Cincinnati (’08), Little Rock (’09), Minneapolis (’10), Atlanta (’11), Baltimore (’12) and now, for the first time, Hampton Virginia!

For more details, visit www.nabsinc.org

Photo Caption: Featured storytellers, Karima Amin and Sonia Sanchez

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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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