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Archive for October 25th, 2013

President Obama pushes Immigration Reform, says it’s good for the economy and national security

Posted by Admin On October - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Remarks by President Barack Obama on Immigration Reform (Speech in its entirety)

East Room

October 24, 2013, 10:47 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.  Please have a seat, everybody.  Good morning, and welcome to the White House.  Today I’m here with leaders from business, from labor, from faith communities who are united around one goal — finishing the job of fixing a broken immigration system.

This is not just an idea whose time has come; this is an idea whose time has been around for years now.  Leaders like all of you have worked together with Republicans and Democrats in this town in good faith for years to try to get this done.  And this is the moment when we should be able to finally get the job done.

Now, it’s no secret that the American people haven’t seen much out of Washington that they like these days.  The shutdown and the threat of the first default in more than 200 years inflicted real pain on our businesses and on families across the country.  And it was a completely unnecessary, self-inflicted wound with real costs to real people, and it can never happen again.

Even with the shutdown over, and the threat of default eliminated, Democrats and Republicans still have some really big disagreements — there are some just fundamentally different views about how we should move forward on certain issues.  On the other hand, as I said the day after the shutdown ended, that’s no reason that we shouldn’t be able to work together on the things that we do agree on.

We should be able to work together on a responsible budget that invests in the things that we need to grow our economy and create jobs even while we maintain fiscal discipline.  We should be able to pass a farm bill that helps rural communities grow and protects vulnerable Americans in hard times.

And we should pass immigration reform. We should pass immigration reform.  It’s good for our economy.  It’s good for our national security.  It’s good for our people.  And we should do it this year.

Everybody knows that our current immigration system is broken.  Across the political spectrum, people understand that.  We’ve known it for years.  It’s not smart to invite some of the brightest minds from around the world to study here and then not let them start businesses here — we send them back to their home countries to start businesses and create jobs and invent new products someplace else.

It’s not fair to businesses and middle-class families who play by the rules when we allow companies that are trying to undercut the rules work in the shadow economy, to hire folks at lower wages or no benefits, no overtime, so that somehow they get a competitive edge from breaking the rules.  That doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense to have 11 million people who are in this country illegally without any incentive or any way for them to come out of the shadows, get right with the law, meet their responsibilities and permit their families then to move ahead.  It’s not smart.  It’s not fair.  It doesn’t make sense.  We have kicked this particular can down the road for too long.

Now, the good news is, this year the Senate has already passed an immigration reform bill by a wide, bipartisan majority that addressed all of these issues.  It’s a bill that would continue to strengthen our borders.  It would level the playing field by holding unscrupulous employers accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers.

It would modernize our legal immigration system, so that even as we train American workers for the jobs of the future, we’re also attracting highly-skilled entrepreneurs from beyond our borders to join with us to create jobs here in the United States.

It would make sure that everybody plays by the same rules by providing a pathway to earned citizenship for those who are here illegally — one that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes, paying a penalty, getting in line behind everyone who is trying to come here the right way.

So it had all the component parts.  It didn’t have everything that I wanted; it didn’t have everything that anybody wanted; but it addressed the core challenges of how we create a immigration system that is fair, that’s just, that is true to our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  And that’s passed the Senate by a bipartisan majority.

So here’s what we also know — that the bill would grow the economy and shrink our deficits.  Independent economists have shown that if the Senate bill became law, over the next two decades our economy would grow by $1.4 trillion more than it would if we don’t pass the law.  It would reduce our deficits by nearly a trillion dollars.

So this isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.  Securing our borders; modernizing our legal immigration system; providing a pathway to earned, legalized citizenship; growing our economy; strengthening our middle class; reducing our deficits — that’s what common-sense immigration reform will do.

Now, obviously, just because something is smart and fair, and good for the economy and fiscally responsible and supported by business and labor — (laughter) — and the evangelical community and many Democrats and many Republicans, that does not mean that it will actually get done.  (Laughter.)  This is Washington, after all.

So everything tends to be viewed through a political prism and everybody has been looking at the politics of this.  And I know that there are some folks in this town who are primed to think, “Well, if Obama is for it, then I’m against it.”  But I’d remind everybody that my Republican predecessor was also for it when he proposed reforms like this almost a decade ago, and I joined with 23 Senate Republicans back then to support that reform.  I’d remind you that this reform won more than a dozen Republican votes in the Senate in June.

I’m not running for office again.  I just believe this is the right thing to do.  (Applause.)  I just believe this is the right thing to do.  And I also believe that good policy is good politics in this instance.  And if folks are really that consumed with the politics of fixing our broken immigration system, they should take a closer look at the polls because the American people support this.  It’s not something they reject — they support it.  Everybody wins here if we work together to get this done.  In fact, if there’s a good reason not to pass this common-sense reform, I haven’t heard it.

So anyone still standing in the way of this bipartisan reform should at least have to explain why.  A clear majority of the American people think it’s the right thing to do.

Now, how do we move forward?  Democratic leaders have introduced a bill in the House that is similar to the bipartisan Senate bill.  So now it’s up to Republicans in the House to decide whether reform becomes a reality or not.

I do know — and this is good news — that many of them agree that we need to fix our broken immigration system across these areas that we’ve just discussed.  And what I’ve said to them, and I’ll repeat today, is if House Republicans have new and different, additional ideas for how we should move forward, then we want to hear them.  I’ll be listening.  I know that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, those who voted for immigration reform already, are eager to hear those additional ideas.  But what we can’t do is just sweep the problem under the rug one more time, leave it for somebody else to solve sometime in the future.

Rather than create problems, let’s prove to the American people that Washington can actually solve some problems.  This reform comes as close to anything we’ve got to a law that will benefit everybody now and far into the future.  So let’s see if we can get this done.  And let’s see if we can get it done this year.

We’ve got the time to do it.  Republicans in the House, including the Speaker, have said we should act.  So let’s not wait.  It doesn’t get easier to just put it off.  Let’s do it now.  Let’s not delay.  Let’s get this done, and let’s do it in a bipartisan fashion.

To those of you who are here today, I want to just say one last thing and that is — thank you.  I want to thank you for your persistence.  I want to thank you for your activism.  I want to thank you for your passion and your heart when it comes to this issue.  And I want to tell you, you’ve got to keep it up.  Keep putting the pressure on all of us to get this done.  There are going to be moments — and there are always moments like this in big efforts at reform — where you meet resistance, and the press will declare something dead, it’s not going to happen, but that can be overcome.

And I have to say, Joe, as I look out at this room, these don’t look like people who are easily deterred.  (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think so.

THE PRESIDENT:  They don’t look like folks who are going to give up.  (Applause.)  You look fired up to make the next push.  And whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or an independent, I want you to keep working, and I’m going to be right next to you, to make sure we get immigration reform done.  It is time.  Let’s go get it done.

Could Immigration Reform Save the GOP?

Posted by Admin On October - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Could Immigration Reform Save the GOP?

New America Media

By Elena Shore

The Republican Party emerged from the partial government shutdown with record low approval ratings. Now, some analysts say the key to their survival could be their leadership on immigration reform. The strategy House Republicans decide to take on this issue could determine their viability in the next election. But while it’s unclear what their next move will be, news reports this week indicate they may be less at a standstill than we thought.

Signs already point to the GOP taking steps to move on immigration reform.

On Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner left open the possibility of bringing up immigration reform for a vote on the House floor this year.

“I still think that immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed and I am hopeful,” Boehner told a reporter.

Some House Republicans are already hard at work on legislation that would address one of the biggest questions in immigration reform: how to fix the legal status of the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reported Tuesday that Republican Congressmember Mario Díaz-Balart (FL-25) is working with a group of lawmakers on a bill that would offer undocumented immigrants a way to “get right with the law.” Republican Darrell Issa (CA-49) is reportedly working separately on a measure that would offer temporary legal status to qualifying undocumented immigrants.

The news comes as the House GOP once again finds itself in the hot seat, with little to show in the way of action on immigration reform.

It’s a central question for a party that has come to be known increasingly as anti-immigrant and whose popularity, especially among Latino voters, has dropped dramatically.

A patchwork of state immigration laws

The experience of undocumented immigrants can vary widely depending on where they live. California, for example, recently passed more than a dozen laws including measures that allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses, protect the rights of domestic workers, and limit law enforcement’s ability to detain undocumented immigrants for deportation.

Reshma Shamasunder, director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, said the victories this year in California show the state’s “slow change in perception of immigrants” since the anti-immigrant sentiment in the mid-90s.

“You can’t have a longstanding population that is afraid to drive, unable to participate in the community and civic activities,” said Shamasunder.

Meanwhile, immigrants in states like Georgia that have followed the model of Arizona’s enforcement-oriented immigration law SB 1070 are facing a very different set of circumstances.

“Things do not look [good] in the South,” said Adrian Bernal, a journalist with Radio Información on 1310 AM in Atlanta.

Two years ago, Georgia passed a state immigration law, HB 87, that made it a crime to get a job with false documents, punishable with up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; required businesses to check the immigration status of new hires; and required anyone receiving public benefits such as food stamps to provide a “secure and verifiable” ID document. A federal judge blocked two other provisions of the law — a requirement that law enforcement officers check the immigration status of people who can’t provide IDs, and punishments for anyone who harbors or transports anyone else illegally present in the country.

A last-minute addition to the law also created an Immigration Enforcement Review Board that is empowered to subpoena witnesses, documents and mete out punishment, said Bernal. The board is now considering bringing charges against DeKalb County for not enforcing HB 87.

“We have found ourselves with this board that many think is unconstitutional because only registered voters can complain to the commission,” said Bernal.

The 2012 election saw record turnouts from Latino, Asian and immigrant voters, many of whom cited immigration as a key concern.

“House Republicans’ views on immigration are untested, and many advocates for reform believe they are implacably hostile,” Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, a national federation of small-business owners in favor of immigration reform, wrote this week in a column for CNN. “But the truth is Republican opinion has been evolving since the 2012 election. More and more House Republicans, perhaps the majority, know that reform is overdue and that the GOP must be part of the solution — to remain competitive with Latino voters and because it’s the right thing to do.”

The question now, she writes, is whether the GOP will be able to take ownership of immigration reform, to be seen as leaders on the issue and not be seen as merely followers of Obama.

It’s a thin line to walk. The morning after the partial government shutdown ended, Obama called on Congress to act on immigration reform. Republican lawmakers responded by accusing the president of playing partisan politics on a divisive issue to make the GOP look bad: If the party doesn’t act, they could be blamed for the failure of immigration reform. But if they act on reform, they could be seen as simply bowing to the president.

In the aftermath of the government shutdown, immigration reform may be a test case of where the Republican Party is headed.

They have until the end of next year, 2014, to come to a compromise (in conference committee) with the broad immigration overhaul passed in the Senate in June. Once the two chambers pass the final compromise bill, it will head to the president’s desk.

“It used to be that immigration reform was cyclical. Now, the cost of inaction is so high,” Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice, an immigration reform advocacy organization in Washington, DC, told reporters on a national telebriefing this week organized by New America Media. “I personally think you’re going to see House Republicans introduce a bill this year.”

The piecemeal approach

House Republicans have said they will focus on separate piecemeal bills that address different aspects of immigration reform. The House’s Judiciary Committee has passed four bills that address E-Verify (the federal database to check the immigration status of potential employees), the SAFE Act (which gives local law enforcement unprecedented authorization to enforce immigration laws), high-skilled workers and agricultural workers. The House’s Homeland Security Committee also passed a bipartisan border bill.

Other bills currently being discussed include the KIDS Act (a GOP version of the DREAM Act) and a bill addressing low-skilled workers.

Meanwhile, House Democrats have introduced a compromise bill that mirrors much of the Senate omnibus bill, but which substitutes a House bipartisan border bill for the border enforcement addition passed in the Senate. But observers say that bill, which has the support of more than 180 Democrats, has little chance of moving through committee in a Republican-controlled House.

Three possible GOP plays

There are three possible plays for House Republicans to move the ball forward, according to Angela Kelley, vice president of immigration policy and advocacy at the Washington, DC-based think tank Center for American Progress.

First, House Republicans could hold a series of floor votes on the piecemeal bills that have made it through committee. If these bills pass in the House, they would move on to the conference committee, where lawmakers would have until the end of 2014 to work out a compromise between the Senate and House bills.

Second, Republicans could choose to do nothing. If Republican leaders calculate that there simply isn’t enough support among their party for immigration reform, they could decide not to bring up such a contentious issue, afraid that a no vote could make the GOP look bad. Currently, some 27 House Republicans have said they support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Third, Republicans could decide to bring to a vote a bill that includes a “poison pill,” something that is so toxic to the community that Democrats won’t vote for it. One example of this would be the SAFE Act, a bill that Kelley calls a “draconian” enforcement bill that “goes way too far.” This strategy would allow Republicans to say they had tried, and that it was Democrats who thwarted the chances of immigration reform.

Calls for a moratorium on deportations

If Congress doesn’t act on immigration reform, some immigrant rights advocates are calling for President Obama to halt deportations through executive action.

But there are political and legal concerns with such a move, notes Kelley.

If Congress passes immigration reform, it would be a permanent fix – unlike the temporary deferred action program announced by Obama. (The president is not able to grant green cards or a path to residency and citizenship, for example.)

Others have raised legal questions about the president’s authority to grant deferred action to too many people, saying it would be going too far and could be an abuse of discretion.

“The view from a political standpoint, is that that’s not smart because there is still time for the Republicans to act,” said Kelley. If the White House steps in, she said, “It takes Republicans off the hook.”

The question now is whether House Republicans will see it in their best interest to act on immigration reform – or if they think the best political move is not to move at all.

That’s a lot of political maneuvering on an issue that has real-life implications for millions of immigrants in this country who are living under threat of deportation, waiting years to reunite with family members as a result of visa backlogs, or simply afraid to call the police if they are victims of a crime.

A patchwork of state immigration laws

The experience of undocumented immigrants can vary widely depending on where they live. California, for example, recently passed more than a dozen laws including measures that allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses, protect the rights of domestic workers, and limit law enforcement’s ability to detain undocumented immigrants for deportation.

Reshma Shamasunder, director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, said the victories this year in California show the state’s “slow change in perception of immigrants” since the anti-immigrant sentiment in the mid-90s.

“You can’t have a longstanding population that is afraid to drive, unable to participate in the community and civic activities,” said Shamasunder.

Meanwhile, immigrants in states like Georgia that have followed the model of Arizona’s enforcement-oriented immigration law SB 1070 are facing a very different set of circumstances.

“Things do not look [good] in the South,” said Adrian Bernal, a journalist with Radio Información on 1310 AM in Atlanta.

Two years ago, Georgia passed a state immigration law, HB 87, that made it a crime to get a job with false documents, punishable with up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; required businesses to check the immigration status of new hires; and required anyone receiving public benefits such as food stamps to provide a “secure and verifiable” ID document. A federal judge blocked two other provisions of the law — a requirement that law enforcement officers check the immigration status of people who can’t provide IDs, and punishments for anyone who harbors or transports anyone else illegally present in the country.

A last-minute addition to the law also created an Immigration Enforcement Review Board that is empowered to subpoena witnesses, documents and mete out punishment, said Bernal. The board is now considering bringing charges against DeKalb County for not enforcing HB 87.

“We have found ourselves with this board that many think is unconstitutional because only registered voters can complain to the commission,” said Bernal.

CTA’s Red Line South Project Creates 1,500 jobs

Posted by Admin On October - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

More than 500 permanent jobs include bus operators, traffic control aides

CHICAGO, IL – The Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Red Line South Reconstruction Project created more than 1,500 jobs— including 500 good-paying, permanent positions providing local jobs to Chicagoans.

The historic project, which was completed last weekend, rebuilt the 10.2-mile stretch between Cermak-Chinatown and 95th Street and upgraded eight stations along the rail line. The $425 million project was one of the largest projects in the CTA’s history and represents a significant investment in both the ongoing modernization of Chicago’s transit system and in the city’s South Side communities that are served by the CTA’s busiest rail line.

The permanent jobs created by the Red Line South project include more than 400 bus operators, who drove the free South Side shuttles that were part of the project’s major alternative service plan during the construction. Those bus operators will remain with the CTA, filling vacancies from retirements and attrition. Additionally, some painters and electricians who were hired as part of the project’s Workforce Investment Act (WIA) outreach, will continue with two project subcontractors—Vision Painting and Decorating Services and Aldridge Electric, respectively. WIA is a federal program designed to provide opportunities to individuals who qualify as displaced, out of work, or otherwise economically disadvantaged.

Additional permanent jobs include nearly 100 traffic control aides by the City’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

The project also created about 1,000 jobs in a variety of construction trades involved in the railroad reconstruction, including carpenters, electricians, ironworkers, laborers and operators. Of those, about 130 people were hired in conjunction with WIA. Those jobs alone generated about $3 million in wages and benefits.

“This project provided the CTA with the unique opportunity to bring a brand new railroad to the South Side, while providing a major investment in the South Side through job creation and long-term economic benefits for the communities and businesses along the Red Line South corridor,” said CTA Board Chairman Terry Peterson.

To promote contracting opportunities, the CTA worked closely with its two general contractors, Kiewit Construction Corp. and F. H. Paschen, S. N. Nielsen, LLC, to ensure strong participation from Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) contractors. To encourage participation, the CTA held seven meet-and-greet sessions that paired DBE subcontractors with larger prime contractors to help build connections for this and future CTA projects.

The result of those efforts included 29 percent DBE participation in track work and 40 percent in station upgrade work. Approximately $56.4 million in construction work was awarded to African-American firms and contractors.

Originally opened in 1969, the Red Line South was reconstructed from the ground up in just five months, including replacement of all the ties, rail, third rail, ballast (the stone material that holds the ties in place) and drainage systems. The improvements reduced round-trip commutes between 95th Street and downtown by as much as 20 minutes — while providing a smoother, more comfortable and more reliable ride.

The CTA was the first U.S. transit agency to completely reconstruct such a large stretch of railroad in such a tightly condensed period of time, a strategic plan that provided customers much more quickly with a better railroad and did so less expensively.
Condensing the work into five months saved $75 million over an alternative option to perform work on weekends only, over a period of four years. The savings paid for numerous station improvements to eight stations along the branch, which included adding elevators to three stations to make the Red Line South fully accessible to customers with disabilities.

The Red Line South project is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Building a New Chicago infrastructure renewal program. Funding for the work came from Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! program and is part of more than $1 billion in federal, state and local funding announced in late 2011 by Mayor Emanuel and Governor Quinn for the Red and Purple lines.

Next year, the CTA will begin construction of a new 95th Street Terminal, a $240 million project that will expand and upgrade the 95th/Dan Ryan station, connecting Far South Side communities to job centers throughout the region and serving as a transit gateway for the South Side and suburbs.

The Illinois Arts Council Agency announces the release of Fiscal Year 2014 guidelines and application materials

Posted by Admin On October - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

2014 guidelines and application materials include Artstour & Live Music and the Ethnic and Folk Arts Master/Apprentice Program

Artstour & Live Music

Artstour & Live Music provides support to eligible Illinois not-for-profit organizations seeking to present Illinois performing artists, companies, or groups for performances, collaborations, or short residencies held in conjunction with performances.  Grant requests for fiscal year 2014 are for activities occurring between January 15 and December 31, 2014.

Examples of programs:

  • A library engages a storyteller to present stories during a children’s story festival.
  • A school district brings in a theatre company to perform at the local high school.  In addition, the company visits the elementary school to work with 3rd and 4th graders involved in the school’s upcoming theatre production.
  • A theatre company collaborates with a folk musician in the creation and presentation of a new play.
  • The local college brings a jazz orchestra to town to perform.  The musicians also give a mini-performance at the local senior center.
  • A dance company engages a classical music ensemble to provide live music for a performance.

This is an open deadline program.  Applications will be accepted through June 1, 2014 and must be submitted at least 10 weeks before activities begin.

To access the Artstour & Live Music guidelines follow this link:  http://www.arts.illinois.gov/grants-programs/ArtstourLiveMusic.

The electronic application will be available through the Illinois eGrant System on Friday, November 1, 2013.

For further information about Artstour & Live Music, contact Walter Buford, Director of Performing Arts and Partners in Excellence Programs, by email: walter.buford@illinois.gov or by phone: 312-814-4992.

Ethnic and Folk Arts Master/Apprentice Program

The Master/Apprentice Program recognize the vital role of the master artist/apprentice relationship in the preservation of the state’s cultural heritage. The Master/Apprentice Program helps communities preserve their own culture by providing an opportunity for master traditional artists to pass on their skills to a qualified apprentice in a time-honored method. Past awards have supported traditional or ethnic art forms as diverse as East Indian dance, split wood baskets, Chinese drum and bell music, fish net making, Ukrainian pysanky, and Illinois fiddle traditions.

Master artists are recognized within their communities as exemplary practitioners of their traditional or ethnic art forms. Apprentices applying to this program must have prior experience in the art form. The Master Apprentice award is a fixed amount of $3,000, and is awarded to the master artist.

The deadline for applying to the FY14 Ethnic & Folk Arts Master/Apprentice Program is December 16, 2013.

To access the Master/Apprentice Program guidelines and application materials follow this link:  http://www.arts.illinois.gov/MAP.

Three webinars have been scheduled to assist applicants interested in applying to the Master/Apprentice Program.  The webinar dates and registration links are listed below:

Friday, November 1, 2013, 10:30 am


Thursday, November 21, 5:00 pm


Wednesday, December 11, 1:00 pm


For further information about the Master/Apprentice Program, please contact Susan Dickson, Director of Ethnic & Folk Arts, Literature & Presenters Programs, by email: susan.dickson@illinois.gov or by phone: 312-814-6740.

Dramatizing Paul of Tarsus: Christian and Jewish Responses to PAULUS

Posted by Admin On October - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

In anticipation of the world premiere of Motti Lerner’s PAULUS –an artistic interpretation of the latter years of Paul of Tarsus as imagined through a psychological lens– join Silk Road Rising for a conversation with scholars, clergy, and the playwright.

Held in the sanctuary at the First United Methodist Church at The Chicago Temple, this panel will be an interfaith conversation among Jews and Christians to place the figure of Paul within their respective traditions.

In PAULUS, a compassionate but wary 62-year-old Jesus and an egomaniacal Emperor Nero torment the ailing psyche of the Apostle Paul as he struggles to universalize monotheism against fierce opposition from a Jewish religious establishment threatened with spiritual extinction.  A scene from PAULUS will be performed as part of the evening’s program.

Panelists Include:
– Motti Lerner, playwright
– Margaret M. Mitchell, Dean of The University of Chicago Divinity School
– Nicholas Patricca, playwright and Professor Emeritus at Loyola University, Chicago
– Steven Philp, M.Div. candidate at The University of Chicago Divinity School and rabbinical student
– Rabbi Yehiel Poupko, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago

Moderated by Cheryl Hamada of WTTW Channel 11

With welcoming remarks from Reverend Philip L. Blackwell, Senior Minister at the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, and Jamil Khoury, Founding Artistic Director of Silk Road Rising.

Silk Road Rising welcomes all people of any or no faith for a respectful and dynamic conversation about PAULUS.  The panel is free to attend and open to the public. Join us!

WHEN:  Monday, November 11, 2013 at 7pm

WHERE:  The Chicago Temple, 77 West Washington Street, Chicago, Illinois 60602

RSVP:  Reserve your Free Tickets online at www.silkroadrising.org or by calling 312-857-1234 x201

Collection Agency posing as law enforcement experts, reports Better Business Bureau

Posted by Admin On October - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, ILCon artists are now posing as police officers, members of the Sheriff’s Office and even FBI officers. These people call consumers and spoof the caller ID to show a law enforcement office’s phone number. The con artist tells the consumer that he or she must pay a fine in order to avoid criminal charges or must immediately pay money owed by a loan. Like most types of fraud, con artists require payments to be made by a prepaid debit card or money order, not a credit card. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns consumers to avoid making a payment to these people and to call the local police department if they ever receive one of these calls.

“People can often be deceived by callers claiming to be from law enforcement agencies, so don’t fall for their tactics,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Consumers need to be very skeptical of anyone asking them for money or personal information over the phone and the BBB recommends to not doing it.”

Carla, a consumer from Oak Park who didn’t reveal her last name, recently received a collection call. “They kept calling me at work even though I told them not to. They would not give me any written proof of what I owed even though the FTC rules say that they have to. They threatened to call the police and have me arrested. I did make one payment to them before I realized that this was just wrong and they never proved that I owed the money. I filed [a complaint] with the BBB and they eventually stopped.”

The BBB urges consumers to follow these tips when bogus collection calls are received:

  • Don’t wire money. The real police department will never ask for money to be wired over the phone.
  • Don’t give out personal information. Never give out financial or personal information over the phone.
  • Hang up the phone. As much as you may want to keep talking or asking questions to this person over the phone, just hang up. Don’t call this person back again, because that way he or she may be able to track some of your information.
  • Contact your local police department. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a law enforcement officer asking for money, look for your local police department’s number on their website and tell them what happened.

For more tips and information about scams, visit www.bbb.org

Dr. Ken Chessick Multi-Million Dollar Gift to NIU for Athletic Facility opens this Weekend

Posted by Admin On October - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Dr. Kenneth Chessick, attorney and alumnus of Northern Illinois University, provided initial funding for the $9.3 million Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Facility that opens this weekend at his alma mater.

NIU’s football team, with a current 7-0 record and ranked 18th in the nation, the highest ranked college in Illinois, practiced for the first time in preparation for this weekend’s game against Eastern Michigan University in this state-of-the-art facility.

Chessick, principal partner of the Law Office of Kenneth C. Chessick, M.D., will attend a dedication along with NIU President Douglas Baker Saturday.  A ribbon cutting is scheduled for the facility at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, 1245 Stadium Dr., DeKalb, IL, on the university campus and an open house for the public to tour the sports training facility is scheduled for noon – 2 p.m.

“My wife and I are privileged to be a part of this tremendous occasion and hope to see the years of our hard work help the students at our beloved alma mater, NIU,” Dr. Chessick said. “Providing this training facility for our dedicated student athletes to continue our winning tradition at NIU is a privilege for us. NIU athletic prowess is an important element of university life, which unites the entire campus, students, faculty, administration, alums and fans and builds passion, loyalty and engagement.  With this gift, we hope to enhance the experience for all NIU students, and especially our dedicated student-athletes.”

Dr. Chessick is a 1984 graduated from the NIU College of Law. He received his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1968.  He also established the Kenneth C. Chessick Legal Training Skills Center at the NIU College of Law in 2004 and three years later he created a series of annual Kenneth C. Chessick Civil Justice Endowed Scholarships named in honor of his legal clients.

Today, Dr. Chessick will be delivering the figurative “Last Lecture,” a speech delivered to the annually that is sponsored by the NIU chapter of Mortar Board Honorary Society. Dr. Chessick’s topic is “How an Ordinary Guy Can Do Extraordinary Things.”  It will be held free to the public 7 p.m. today at the Barsema Hall Auditorium on the NIU campus.

Chessick is also CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of www.Restaurant.com.

For further information, please contact Clifford Law Offices’ Communications Partner Pamela Menaker at 847-251-4877 or 847-721-0909.

Department of Insurance Announces a Multi-Million Dollar Settlement with New York Life

Posted by Admin On October - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Life insurers representing over 50% of the total national market have agreed to reform business practices

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) Director Andrew Boron today announced an agreement with New York Life Insurance Company as part of a multi-million dollar settlement with several states regarding its use of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File (DMF). Under the settlement, New York Life Insurance Company will pay $15 million dollars to states that are a party to the settlement.

This settlement with New York Life Insurance Company stems from multi-state market conduct examinations of the forty largest life insurers regarding the timely payment of proceeds to beneficiaries of life insurance policies and annuities. The principal lead state in this investigation was California, with support from insurance regulators from Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania.

Under the agreement, New York Life will implement business reforms to promote a timely and efficient search for the beneficiaries of both its in-force life insurance policies and annuities using the DMF. The company will regularly match all of its insureds and annuitants against the DMF to help promptly identify when an insured has died, to locate and make payment to beneficiaries.

“With this settlement, another top ten life insurer has agreed to reform business practices to regarding the use of the Death Master File,” said DOI Director Boron. “Now, a majority of the life insurance industry has stepped forward to use the DMF and locate beneficiaries.”

More than 30 market conduct examinations remain ongoing to investigate companies’ use of the DMF. For many years, some life insurers have used the DMF to search for and stop payments to annuity holders, but did not make use of the knowledge of deaths they gained from the DMF to identify their own deceased life insurance policyholders whose beneficiaries were owed life insurance proceeds.  It is estimated that through this practice, those insurers avoided paying billions of dollars in life insurance proceeds to beneficiaries.

Market conduct examinations of eight of the ten largest insurers in the United States have been resolved. These life insurers, and the other smaller insurers who have settled, represent more than 50% of the market which demonstrates industry’s change to properly and fairly use the DMF.

A copy of the New York Life settlement agreement is available on the DOI website at http://insurance.illinois.gov/Home/ImpLinks.asp. Consumers who have any questions regarding this settlement, or who have any questions or concerns about their insurance, should contact the Department’s Consumer Division at http://insurance.illinois.gov or call 866-445-5364.

Department on Aging Announces Senior Hall of Fame Inductees; Presents Governor’s Unique Achievement Awards

Posted by Admin On October - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Awards Highlight Service to the Community

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) Director John K. Holton, Ph.D., today recognized the 2013 Senior Hall of Fame Inductees. Recipients of the Governor’s Unique Achievement Award were also acknowledged during the ceremony held at the Executive Mansion in Springfield. Each year, the department hosts the ceremony to recognize older adults for the special contribution they have made.

“I am pleased to recognize the 2013 Senior Hall of Fame inductees and recipients of the Governor’s Unique Achievement Award. We thank you for your individual accomplishments that have helped to better our communities and the state,” said Director Holton.

The Senior Hall of Fame was created by the Legislature in 1994 to honor Illinois residents age 65 and older who excel in the categories of community service, education, performance/graphic arts, and the labor force, in regard to their employment. Each inductee is chosen through a statewide nomination and selection process. Since then, 91 people have been inducted into the Hall of Fame including this year’s winners.

The recipients of the Governor’s Unique Achievement Award are nominated by Area Agencies on Aging. The award recognizes groups, individuals and programs that make a positive impact on the lives of seniors in Illinois.

The 2013 Senior Hall of Fame inductees are:

Dr. Philip Carlin, 85, of Chicago, is the 2013 inductee in the Education category. Born to parents who were educators, Dr. Carlin has been teaching for more than 60 years. His career is described as having one constant which is love – the love of, and from, his students. A World War II veteran, he worked 22 years for Chicago Public Schools and continued another 25 years at his alma mater Loyola University. He still advises and presides over alumni functions. Described as warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring, Dr. Carlin always receives the highest marks of evaluation. His last full-time graduate class gave him an approval rating of 100 percent.

Dr. Russell R. Dohner, 88, of Rushville, is the 2013 inductee of the Labor Force category. Dr. Dohner has been the town doctor since 1955. He still makes house calls, patient rounds at the local hospital and nursing home, and is known to charge patients only $5.00 for the entire cost of visits. Considered a hero by many, this World War WII veteran says if he can do something for people, he will do it. Examples include his donation of several thousand trees to the community, and recently giving money to create a walking path in the local park. Dr. Dohner also served as this year’s Illinois State Fair Parade Grand Marshall.

Sam Franco, 88, of Chicago, is the 2013 inductee of the Performance/Graphic Arts category. Franco has been teaching music for the past 60 years. As a young man he studied with master musicians who emigrated from Italy. During his service in WWII, he was lead musician and big band leader for the Army Air Corp. Division. Franco has excelled in both the technical study of music as well as music theory. His pro-bono generosity has benefitted many students who otherwise may not have had the chance to learn an instrument. In addition to his gift of music, Franco is also an accomplished painter and sculptor.

Jere J. Wilmering, Sr., 77, of Fairview Heights, is the 2013 inductee of the Community Service category. According to his nomination, if there is a cause, Wilmering will find a way to help. He has served on Boards of the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Salvation Army, American Cancer Society, and Arts Council in addition to many others. He serves as a mentor and has been recognized for various honors notably as Businessman of the Year and several state awards for volunteerism. One example of his community service was a project where he raised $150,000 and coordinated 2,500 volunteers to construct a playground.

The 2013 Unique Achievement Awardees are:

Neighborhood House Association, of Peoria, was nominated by Central Illinois Agency on Aging. For more than 38 years, Neighborhood House has operated the Meals on Wheels home delivery program. Several years ago they also started offering meals for congregate sites. They have a strong volunteer base which supports efforts to provide more than 88,000 meals to older adults in the City of Peoria; 15,000 congregate site meals and 29,000 home-delivered meals in Tazewell; and 8,000 congregate and 25,000 home-delivered meals in rural Peoria. All these meals delivered from the central kitchen on Matthew Street.

Providing Access to Help (PATH), nominated by East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging. For 42 years, PATH has been a community resource. Through its call center and crisis hotline, staff provides critical services to adults age 60 and older and their caregivers. They intervene for people who are experiencing homelessness and depression, and investigate cases of abuse/neglect. PATH currently serves, Christian, DeWitt, Livingston, McHenry, McLean, Menard, Ogle, Sangamon and Winnebago Counties.

Nan Anderson, of Evanston, nominated by AgeOptions. Described as an active volunteer, Anderson serves on AgeOptions’ Advisory Council; volunteers with City of Evanston Commission on Aging, Make Medicare Work Coalition to name a few, and is the state contact for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. She served as director of the Evanston/North Shore YWCA establishing a domestic violence shelter and has been active with the Girl Scouts of America. Anderson is a true advocate.

Sandra Hakanson, nominated by the Area Agency on Aging of Southwestern Illinois. As director of the Mascoutah Senior Services Program, Hakanson’s leadership has made the senior center the hopping place in town and her recent fundraiser has put it on the map. Her idea was to sell what is described as a spicy calendar featuring mature models, including the town’s mayor who posed wearing only a hat and bow tie. The first printing sold out in less than a week. Hakanson’s idea raised money to help pay for the center’s programs and services.

L. Goebel Patton, of Franklin County, nominated by Egyptian Area Agency on Aging. Patton currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Area Agency on Aging but his involvement has included work with the American Cancer Society, Lions Club, Salvation Army, SIU Foundation and West Frankfort’s Men’s Prayer Breakfast. An educator who taught for more than 50 years, he helped establish the West Frankfort Unit School District and served at its first superintendent. Still actively serving, Patton celebrates his 100th birthday October 24, 2013.

Jacksonville Area Senior Center nominated by the Area Agency on Aging for Lincolnland. The senior center provides activities and serves as a congregate meal site for its senior members. The center is financially self-sustaining due to fundraising efforts and donations which has motivated members to focus on ways to help others. Members have donated personal care items, magazines and neck coolers for troops of the armed forces serving in the Middle East; collected canned goods for a local food bank; and made quilts for a program to benefit children who are ill or dealing with tragedy.

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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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