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Archive for December 13th, 2013

Budget passes in the U.S. House of Representatives; President Obama and Boehner respond

Posted by Admin On December - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed a budget deal that will keep government running for two years free of funding problems.

The House by a bipartisan vote of 332-94 approved the measure which now goes to the Senate and is expected to pass next week.

President Barack Obama’s response to the budget being passed in the House of Representatives:

“Earlier this year, I called on Congress to work together on a balanced approach to a budget that grows our economy faster and creates more jobs – not through aimless, reckless spending cuts that harm our economy now, but by making sure we can afford to invest in the things that have always grown our economy and strengthened our middle class.  Today’s bipartisan budget agreement is a good first step.

“This agreement replaces a portion of the across-the-board spending cuts known as “the sequester” that have harmed students, seniors, and middle-class families and served as a mindless drag on our economy over the last year.  It clears the path for critical investments in things like scientific research, which has the potential to unleash new innovation and new industries.  It’s balanced, and includes targeted fee increases and spending cuts designed in a way that doesn’t hurt our economy or break the ironclad promises we’ve made to our seniors. It does all this while slightly reducing our deficits over time – coming on top of four years of the fastest deficit reduction since the end of World War II.  And because it’s the first budget that leaders of both parties have agreed to in a few years, the American people should not have to endure the pain of another government shutdown for the next two years.

“This agreement doesn’t include everything I’d like – and I know many Republicans feel the same way. That’s the nature of compromise. But it’s a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come together and break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making to get this done. That’s the way the American people expect Washington to work. I want to thank Senator Murray, Congressman Ryan and all the other leaders who helped forge this bipartisan agreement. And I want to call on Members of Congress from both parties to take the next step and actually pass a budget based on this agreement so I can sign it into law and our economy can continue growing and creating jobs without more Washington headwinds.

“But, as I said last week, the defining challenge of our time is not whether Congress can pass a budget – it’s whether we can make sure our economy works for every working American. And while today’s agreement is a good first step, Congress has a lot more to do on that front. In the immediate term, Congress should extend unemployment insurance, so more than a million Americans looking for work don’t lose a vital economic lifeline right after Christmas, and our economy doesn’t take a hit. And beyond that, they should do more to expand broad-based growth and opportunity – by creating more jobs that pay better wages, by growing our economy, and by offering a path into the middle class for every American willing to work for it.

Speaker John Boehner’s statement on House-Senate Budget Agreement:

Dec 13, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement on the budget agreement reached between House & Senate Budget Committee Chairmen Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Patty Murray (D-WA):

“I am grateful for the work done by Chairmen Ryan and Murray.  While modest in scale, this agreement represents a positive step forward by replacing one-time spending cuts with permanent reforms to mandatory spending programs that will produce real, lasting savings.  This framework is consistent with sequester replacement legislation passed by the House in 2012.  It would also help to further reduce the deficit without tax hikes that would hurt our economy.  Lastly, this agreement would help protect important national security priorities.

“Federal spending remains on an unsustainable course.  Whether it is offering a plan to balance the budget, strengthen the federal safety net, or cut wasteful spending on behalf of hardworking taxpayers, only one party has led efforts to bring fiscal sanity back to Washington.  Republicans will continue to lead that effort because it is essential to growing our economy, expanding opportunity for all Americans, and preserving the American Dream.”

Attorney General Madigan, Department of Revenue: Gas station owners charged in $1 million fraud sweep

Posted by Admin On December - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) announced charges against four Chicago area gas station owners for defrauding the state of more than $1 million in sales taxes. The cases are the latest crackdown in a joint operation that to date has recovered nearly $85 million owed to Illinois from gas station operators who evade sales tax payments.

Madigan filed the following charges against the four gas station owners for underreporting gasoline sales in order to evade sales tax payments to the state:
  • Gurmeet Bhola, 56, of Lincolnwood and owner of Bhola Gas & Food in Sauk Village – charged in Cook County with two counts of mail fraud and 31 counts of filing a fraudulent state tax return, all Class 3 felonies punishable by two to five years in prison. Bhola is charged with a scheme to defraud the state out of more than $500,000 in taxes between January 2007 and July 2012.
  • Samson Kadamandla, 54, of Chicago and owner of NRK Inc. in Chicago – charged in Cook County with two counts of mail fraud and 29 counts of filing a fraudulent state tax return, all class 3 felonies. Kadamandla is charged with evading more than $300,000 in taxes between January 2008 and May 2012.
  • Anthony Wabeh, 53, of Skokie and owner of TWI Petro Group – charged in Cook County with one count of mail fraud and five counts of filing a fraudulent state tax return, all class 3 felonies. Wabeh is charged with evading more than $180,000 in taxes between June 2008 and February 2011 at his four gas stations located in the Rockford area.
  • Nawaz Mirza, 58, of Lombard and owner of Mirza Enterprises in Villa Park – charged in DuPage County with two counts of mail fraud and 18 counts of filing a fraudulent state tax return, all Class 3 felonies. Mirza is charged with evading more than $90,000 in taxes between January 2009 and December 2011.
“The defendants have illegally profited at the expense of the state and Illinois taxpayers,” Madigan said. “This round of indictments demonstrates our standing commitment to hold dishonest business owners accountable for committing state tax fraud.”
“I have been pleased to see that courts around the state have imposed increasingly tough sanctions on individuals who file false tax returns and defraud the state of taxes on behalf of gas stations,” said Revenue Director Brian Hamer.
Defendants Bhola, Kadamandla and Mirza were arrested and freed on bond. Wabeh was arraigned earlier today and was freed on bond.
The crackdown on gas station owners, now in its third year, has led to a new law in Illinois to penalize these criminals. The law, which was an initiative of Madigan’s office and took effect in January, established stronger penalties and strengthened prosecutors’ ability to pursue Illinois businesses and retailers that evade remitting sales taxes to the state. The law created the new crime of sales tax evasion and imposed graduated penalties based on the amount of sales taxes that were evaded.
The cases were investigated by IDOR’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Assistant Attorneys General Anshuman Vaidya, Jim Rustik and Kathleen Duhig are handling the prosecution for Madigan’s Special Prosecutions Bureau.

Lt. Governor Simon survey findings include call for improved education funding

Posted by Admin On December - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – Nearly 65 percent of participating school district superintendents believe state funding for education is poor or in need of improvement, according to an online survey that will be released Thursday by Lt. Governor Sheila Simon’s office and Illinois State University.

The survey, required by statute, asked district superintendents to evaluate the services of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Regional Offices of Education (ROEs) and posed several policy questions developed by ISU researchers. The survey will be released at the P-20 Council’s Joint Education Leadership Committee meeting in Chicago on Thursday afternoon.

“This survey collects helpful insights on what is important to local school districts and administrators,” said Simon, who serves as the state’s point person on education reform. “This information shows that people on the front line of education are concerned about school funding. This is an issue that is not going away and deserves our attention.”

The Office of the Lieutenant Governor is required by state law to annually conduct a Service Evaluation Survey that allows school districts to provide anonymous feedback on the quality and importance of services provided by ISBE and ROEs. Distributed with the help of the Illinois Association of School Boards, the 2013 survey was conducted in partnership with Illinois State University’s Center for the Study of Education Policy and their annual Superintendent Survey. This year, a total of 355 districts participated, with 277 completing the Service Evaluation portions and 100 completing the ISU portion of the voluntary survey.

Among the numerous findings of the survey were that 65 percent of respondents would support an increase in the income tax with or without a corresponding decrease in property tax, 75 percent of participants would support a local sales tax for the Education Fund voted upon by a district referendum and over 90 percent of contributors supporting a two year state budget cycle to improve fiscal planning. Respondents rated most services as being important to critically important, and gave ISBE and ROEs high marks in several areas, including leadership, communication, and responsiveness to requests for assistance. Participants indicated that they will need more support in the future for Common Core implementation, professional development, testing technology, and educator evaluations.

Simon serves as the chair of the Joint Education Leadership Committee for the P-20 Council, the state’s top educational advisory body.  Unlike other states, Illinois does not have a single official or cabinet position that oversees preschool through higher education efforts. The Joint Education Leadership Committee, whose membership includes top education and workforce agency officials, encourages cross-agency collaboration and cooperation.

A copy of the report and its findings can be found here.

Local Concert Celebrating Nelson Mandela December 17th in Evanston, IL

Posted by Admin On December - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

A local concert to celebrate the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela will be held December 17th at  Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, IL,  Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave.,5:30 – 6:30 P.M.

The event is being sponsored by the Music Institute of Chicago, City of Evanston, Evanston Community Foundation, Second Baptist Church of Evanston, and Northwestern University.

Information as follows:

Performance:                    Evanston Celebrates Nelson Mandela
Singing, music, prayer and reflection on the extraordinary life of

Nelson Mandela

Day/Date/Time: Tuesday, December 17, 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Location:                            Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston

Admission:                        FREE

Information:                     musicinst.org or 847.905.1500


INVOCATION                Reverend Robert H. Oldershaw, Pastor Emeritus, St. Nicholas Church, Evanston

SPEAKERS                        Thoughts and reflections on the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela

MUSIC                               String Quartet, Op. 74 in E-flat Major by Ludwig van Beethoven

Music Institute of Chicago String Faculty:

Sang Mee Lee and Ellen McSweeney, violins;

Aimee Biasiello, viola; David Cunliffe, cello

Choral Selections

Prayer for Mandela (1988) by Timothy Geller

Chelsea French, trombone

Tom Joyner Foundation announces applications for 2014 ‘Full Ride’ Scholarship

Posted by Admin On December - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS
Graduating High School Seniors Can Win Full Scholarship to a Black College

Dallas, TX (BlackNews.com) – The Tom Joyner Foundation® announced the ‘Full Ride’ scholarship program that will cover all the expenses of one student planning to attend a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the fall of 2014.

“The cost of a college education isn’t getting any cheaper,” said Tom Joyner, chairman of his Foundation and host of the top-ranked nationally syndicated radio show. “So, I want to help a graduating high school senior with a chance to attend a black college to pursue their dreams.”

Past Full Ride Scholars have impressive backgrounds, including the first winner, Britney Wilson, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., who graduated from Howard University, last year. She is now in her first year of law school at the University of Pennsylvania. She impressed the Foundation’s scholarship committee with her solid academic record and her knowledge of local, national and international politics. Cheyenne Boyce of Detroit is now a senior at Spelman College, where she is an international relations major who is fluent in Japanese.

Students will receive full tuition and stipends for up to 10 semesters to cover on-campus room and board and books. Students must meet the required academic standards each semester to renew the funds each year. Graduating high school seniors can apply for the scholarship by going to the Tom Joyner Foundation website at www.tomjoynerfoundation.org to download an application.

To be eligible, students must meet the following criteria:

1) A United States Citizen
2) Current high school seniors attending school in the United States (applicant must be anticipating completion of high school degree in the spring of 2014).
3) Minimum high school grade point average of 3.50 (on a 4.00 grade scale, excluding home school studies) and Minimum SAT score of 2100 (combined math essay and verbal score) or ACT score of 30.
4) Applicants must apply and be accepted to an HBCU by July 1, 2014.
5) Applicants must have demonstrated leadership abilities through participation in community service, extracurricular, or other activities.

The applications must be postmarked no later than January 17th, 2014. Interviews will occur in April 2014.

Founded in 1998, the Tom Joyner Foundation has raised more than $60 million to help keep students enrolled in black colleges. It has assisted more than 29,000 students and worked with more than 100 HBCUs. You can learn more at www.tomjoynerfoundation.org

Retired Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher #54 appears on stage in a Christmas Carol with Kenneth Schumacher, a 17-year-old aspiring Thespian and Make-A-Wish Beneficiary

Posted by Admin On December - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The December 27 One-Night-Only event for a good cause marks Goodman Theatre’s 7th Annual Partnership with Make-A-Wish Illinois

CHICAGO, IL – It isn’t every day you can tell a Chicago Bear to “break a leg!” Goodman Theatre’s 7th annual “Make-A-Wish Night” features the superstar former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and 17-year-old beneficiary Kenneth Schumacher, who wishes to be a part of a professional theatrical production. Urlacher and Schumacher don costumes tailored especially for them and appear in select scenes of the 36th annual production of A Christmas Carol, Chicago’s favorite holiday tradition. Tickets for the one-night-only appearance on December 27 at 8pm are available online at GoodmanTheatre.org/Joy, by phone at 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 North Dearborn). BMO Harris Bank is the Major Corporate Sponsor, PepsiCo is the Official Beverage Sponsor and Aon and KPMG are the Corporate Sponsor Partners of A Christmas Carol.

“To host a legendary Chicago Bear in a legendary production at the Goodman is a tremendous honor. We thank Mr. Urlacher for graciously giving his time and talent—and we welcome Mr. Schumacher to his Goodman Theatre debut!” said Roche Schulfer, Goodman Theatre’s Executive Director who established A Christmas Carol as an annual Goodman holiday offering in 1977. “Make-A-Wish Night is arguably the most special and exciting night for all of us here at the Goodman. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with this fantastic organization.”

A resident of Lemont, IL, Kenneth Schumacher is a freshman at Northern Illinois University where he is studying technical theater design in the university’s School of Theatre & Dance. His on-stage appearance in A Christmas Carol precedes a backstage experience in Wicked on Broadway in New York, to take place in Spring 2014. “I’m blown away by what I am getting the opportunity to experience,” said Schumacher, who first appeared on stage in Lemont High School’s production of Our Town. “I am really looking forward to being at Goodman Theatre, and I can’t wait until I go to Broadway.”

Brian Urlacher makes his Goodman Theatre debut. The eight-time Pro Bowler started 180-of-182 games played in 13 seasons (2000-12) with the Bears recording a franchise-record 1,779 tackles. The ninth overall selection in the 2000 NFL Draft recorded 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 opponent fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles for Chicago. Urlacher was honored as the 2005 Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year, the 2000 NFL Rookie of the Year, was a four-time All-Pro (2001-02, 2005-06), a two-time Brian Piccolo Award winner (2000 and 2007) and was named the team’s Ed Block Courage Award winner in 2011.

About Goodman Theatre’s Partnership with Make-A-Wish Illinois

The Urlacher/Schumacher appearance marks the 7th year in which the Goodman has partnered with Make-A-Wish Illinois, pairing a beneficiary with a sports hero or local celebrity to brighten the lives of local wish children. Previous years’ appearances have featured:

2012 – La’Ren Kimble (Rockford, age 8) with Special Advisor to the President and C.O.O. Chicago Bulls Scottie Pippen

2011 – Emily Beazley (Chicago, age 11) with Chicago White Sox Manager Robin Ventura
2010 – Charles Finch (Markham, age 13) with Chicago Blackhawks Ambassador and Hall of Famer Bobby Hull
2009 – Maria Stavropoulos (Frankfort, age 17) with NBC-5’s LeeAnn Trotter
2008 – Emma Cohen (Evanston, age 17) with WGN-9’s Dean Richards
2007 – Michael Urbanik (Orland Park, age 21) with WGN-9’s Dean Richards

Now in its 28th year, Make-A-Wish Illinois continues to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich their lives with hope, strength and joy. Since 1985, Make-A-Wish has granted more than 11,000 wishes to children across Illinois. For more information call 312.602.WISH or visit Illinois.Wish.org.

Goodman Theatre’s production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been hailed “a joyous present for the entire family” (Chicago Sun-Times), “the granddaddy of Chicago holiday entertainment” (Time Out Chicago) and “the crown jewel of the holiday season” (Daily Herald). Adapted from Dickens’ 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol is the unforgettable tale of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, a wealthy business man with a disdain for holiday cheer in Victorian London. One Christmas, Scrooge is visited by four ghosts who take him on an incredible journey that offers him a new perspective on everything from his dusty past to his dark future, and presents him with an opportunity to sympathize with his fellow man and rediscover life and love.

Goodman Theatre is world renowned for the quality and scope of its artistic programming and its commitment to improving life in the community. Artistic Director Robert Falls’ and Executive Director Roche Schulfer’s leadership has earned unparalleled artistic distinction and experienced unprecedented success, staging more than 80 world premieres, earning numerous awards for its productions—including the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre (1992) and the Pulitzer Prize for Ruined (2009)—and producing more than 25 new-work commissions. Founded in 1925 and housed in a state-of-the-art two-theater complex in the downtown Chicago Theatre District, the Goodman is Chicago’s oldest and largest not-for-profit producing theater, named “Best Regional Theatre” by Time magazine and “top dog of the Chicago theater scene” by Frommer’s. American Airlines is the Exclusive Airline of Goodman Theatre. Ruth Ann M. Gillis is Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Sherry John is President of the Women’s Board and Lauren Blair is President of the Scenemakers Board, the Goodman’s young professionals auxiliary group. Visit the Goodman virtually: watch artist interviews, view production photos, catch the latest news and more at GoodmanTheatre.org and our blog. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, peek behind the scenes on YouTube.

Father Pfleger, Black Leaders put CTA Union Boss on Notice ‘Don’t be a Scrooge’

Posted by Admin On December - 13 - 2013 1 COMMENT

Pfleger, Rush, Leaders Say Local 308 Prez ‘Pimping’ Ex-felons in Contract Fight

Called him “Scrooge” and a “Terrorist”

By Chinta Strausberg

Led by Father Michael L. Pfleger, a group of elected officials and community activists Thursday blasted Local #308 Amalgamated Transit Union President Robert Kelly for attempting to eliminate an apprentice ex-felon program that will cause 65 employees to lose their jobs from a successful six-year second chance CTA program.

Just 13-days before Christmas, Kelly is accused of trying to “pimp” a CTA ex-felon program that has given those with criminal records a second chance on life.  At a press conference held at Kelly’s office, 205 West Wacker Drive, Pfleger said the program will end on December 31, 2013 unless the union approves of its continuance. He said the CTA does not have the authority to maintain the program.

When Kelly recently met with community residents, Father Pfleger said  Kelly allegedly “leaned back in his chair and said, ‘It looks like I have all of the power here.’ “That is how arrogant and disrespectful he is. No, Mr. Kelly, you do not hold all of the power. The power is in the community,” Pfleger said.

With Christmas music and partying being played in the lobby of the 205 West Wacker Drive building, when Pfleger and his supporters arrived a building manager asked Father Pfleger to leave the building because the property was private and that they were not welcomed especially since there was a Christmas party going on.

However, the popular priest refused to budge including when the manager later called the police who just stood watching the press conference continue. Instead, he spoke louder over the Christmas songs coming from the holiday party held in the lobby.

Joining Father Pfleger were Father Thulani Magwaza from Saint Sabina, Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-1st), Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-26th), City Council Black Caucus Chairman Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), Aldermen Eugene Sawyer (6th), Walter Burnett (27th), Latasha Thomas (17th), Toni Foulkes (15th), Cherita Logan from Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th) office, and activists Eddie Read, chairman of the Chicago Black United Communities (CBUC), Henry English, president of the Black United Fund of Illinois, Maurice Perkins, President of the Inner City Youth & Adult Foundation, Rev. Gregory Daniels, president of United Voters of Truth and Change and others.

Expressing disappointment and outrage at Kelly, Rep. Rush said if the CTA program were fully engaged it would potentially benefit 265 families. Referring to the 65 families currently affected by Kelly’s vow to end the program, Rush spoke about the ongoing celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela but said Kelly “spits on the legacy and the memory of Nelson Mandela who lived his life so that workers would have access to jobs….”

Rush said he will be working with the Illinois congressional delegation and will write a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and others seeking intervention on behalf of the 65 whose jobs are on the chopping block. Rush said these employees “have done everything and paid their dues to society. They’ve done everything right. All they want is a fighting chance….

“We intend to not sleep, not celebrate. We continue to fight to give these 65 apprentices a fighting chance. We’re going to take on the union and anybody who are sympathetic to these hard-hearted, callous union leaders who are playing scrooge on this Christmas…,” said Rush.

Father Pfleger said Kelly “is acting like a terrorist and the hostages are the 65 lives. We want to expand this program. It’s been going since 2007. We hear Christmas carols in the background while he is getting ready to fire people after Christmas.

“He is using this as a political ploy because” Kelly failed to get what he wanted from CTA management, Pfleger told reporters. Having been meeting on this issue since July 13th, Pfleger said, “What issues you have with (CTA) management, that is what unions do. He gets paid in order to fight those issues out with management. He does not get paid to hold hostage 65 lives who are people returning to the community and did the right thing.

“What kind of message are you sending to Chicago to somebody coming out of the joint that suddenly says I want to do the right thing and all we’re doing is firing or laying them off. You’re telling them you might as well go back to doing what you did because this society is not ready to let you in,” Pfleger said.

Sending Kelly a message, Pfleger said, “We’re going to stand up and fight for these 65 workers. We want Mr. Kelly to make this thing happen…let it go beyond the 31st…. Separate this from your other issues. Don’t use this as your wild card….”

Pfleger said they are there representing the workers. “What do you do when your union representative doesn’t stand up for you? He is letting down his own union members and all the other unions had better know if he’ll do it them, he’ll do it to anybody…,” vowing to come back with more supporters. Pfleger called on the AFL/CIO “needs to step in, pull him by the tail and tell him to do the right thing here.”

When told that Local #308 accuses the CTA leadership of trying to get rid of the program, Pfleger said, “That’s the old game…. I asked him (Mr. Kelly) let the program continue.” Pfleger said Kelly told him, “No, they have to negotiate with me.” Pfleger said Kelly wanted to meet with CTA President Forrest Claypool who reported agreed.

“Work the damn thing out,” said Pfleger. “That is what unions and management do. Work it out, but keep it out of your different dirty laundry you want to fight back and forth with. This is about lives.”

Rush, who talked to Claypool yesterday, said the CTA president is supporting this program. Burnett said the union is using “it as negotiations with this contract” and said they are using the program as a bargaining chip to get what they want.

Read said Kelly “is very disrespectful and very antagonistic.” Saying the program needs to be expanded, Read said, “It should be used as a model for other governmental agencies. This is the right thing to do….” “You take away food stamps. They can no longer get benefits. What do you expect them to do”? “If we don’t work, nobody works,” said Read.

Brookins quoted a recent statistic “that white men with felonies were more apt to be called back to employment than African Americans without a felony background.” He asked, “What does that say for African Americans and Latinos who had felonies in their background and want to change their lives around in our communities.

“This program being fought against by the unions here is going to decimate our community. This is a program that has been working that is giving people a second opportunity to be on the path of upstanding law-abiding citizens,” Brookins said.

Ald. Sawyer said, “We need to increase the number of jobs” under this program. Agreeing was Mr. Read who also said the union should expand not end this program. He called on union officials to replace Kelly with someone “who will do the right thing.”

Saying this is personal, Rep. Mitchell said he had an aunt who was wrongfully accused of a crime when he was young and who “spent the rest of her life trying to recover.” He said the CTA ex-felon program is what ex-felons need for a fresh start.

“Once a person has rehabilitated themselves, we can’t kick them to the side,” said Ald. Thomas. “We have to continue to allow them to have that second chance….”

Agreeing was Mr. English who said, “We must give our returning citizens an opportunity to become productive citizens. This program has a proven track record…. We need more programs like this.” Saying he has been a card-carrying union member most of his life, English added, “I can’t understand why a union would stand in the way of progress, stand in the way of citizens trying to redeem themselves.”

From West Englewood, Daniels, who said he helps get 85 percent of ex-felons into the construction industry, said, “We think it is a shame for Bob Kelly to run…. You can run but you can’t hide.”

Perkins said the CTA ex-felon program must continue. “There needs to be some justice here in Chicago….” He feels five percent of the jobs should go to ex-felons.

“We support jobs over jail,” said Logan. “The congressman is the grandfather of second chance” referring to Rep. Davis’ getting the Second Chance Act passed in 2007.  Logan said while the world is celebrating the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, “How could we do so when he stood for liberation and we’re asking the unions to keep these folks liberated…to keep them with their jobs.”

Burnett said, “I think it is a shame that the union, which I support the union, would use helping ex-offenders get a job as leverage to negotiate their contract. This is unnecessary. This program has been working. The CTA supports it. It is one of the best programs that the mayor and the CTA have initiated…. They pay union dues…. They’re not hurting the unions or the members.”

Burnett said most of the members of Local 308 are minorities. “Most of those members, I guarantee you, have family members who have been incarcerated who need another opportunity to get back on their feet. When you help one person who has been incarcerated, you help a whole family. You help several generations” and our society…. “

“We are a society that represents everyone not just those who haven’t made a mistake but those who have made mistake and are trying to get back on the right track,” said Burnett who is an ex-felon. To the union, he added, “Please don’t pimp the ex-offenders who have jobs with the CTA. Don’t pimp and use them for your negotiations with the CTA…especially at Christmas time…. They’re not outside sticking people up, stealing from folks or hurting themselves.”

Foulkes, who represents West Englewood, accused Kelly of having a “cold heart” and said “it’s time for him to do what’s right and do what he has to do for the people in our community…. Right before Christmas, he decides to do this. How cold is his heart.”

Brookins said the elected officials stood with Pfleger to support a second chance program he says helps Black people “get a second chance in our community.” Brookins said according to a recent study, “white men with felonies were more apt to be called back to employment than African Americans without a felony background. What does that say for African Americans and Latinos who have felonies in their backgrounds and once they change their lives around?

Accusing the union of  “decimating our communities,” Brookins said, “This is a program that has been working, that is giving people a second opportunity to be on the path of upstanding law-abiding citizens….”

Ald. Burnett said, “I think it is a shame that the union will use helping ex-offenders get a job as leverage to negotiate their contract. This is unnecessary,” he said noting that the CTA and the mayor support the program. It is the best program that the mayor and the CTA have initiated.” Burnett said these ex-felons “are not hurting the union, are paying their dues and that the program should be maintained.

“We are a society that represents everyone and not just those who have not made a mistake but those who have made mistakes and want to get back on the right track,” said Burnett. He told Kelly, “Do not pimp the ex-offender who have jobs at the CTA and are doing a good job. Don’t pimp and use them for your negotiations with the CTA…especially at Christmas time.”

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

Pastor Mitty Collier’s Feed-A-Neighbor Ministries to distribute “Bags of Blessings” December 14th to more than 300 children and families

Posted by Admin On December - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

In an effort to exercise Goodwill toward more than 300 children and Families, “Bags of Blessings” will be distributed December 14, 2013 at More Like Christian Fellowship Ministries, 8201 S. Dobson, in Chicago at 10:00 A.M.

CHICAGO, IL – On Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:00 a.m., Feed-A-Neighbor (FAN) Ministries, under the leadership of Pastor Mitty Collier, will distribute “Bags of Blessings” consisting of brand new toys, games, soccer and footballs, hats, socks, gloves, fruit, nuts, candy and toiletries.  These bags will be given on a first come-first serve basis, to children and adults across the Chicagoland area.  In addition, there are 100 new coats ranging from sizes 3T-16, that will be distributed.

Established in 1985, FAN has distributed food, clothing and toiletries to the less fortunate for over 28 years.  Pastor Collier, along with other concerned Christians, gather each second Saturday of the month at 10:00 a.m., to feed and clothe the less fortunate.  Hats, gloves, socks, fruit, nuts, candy, and toiletries are provided to everyone, along with two new toys for the youth on this special Christmas FAN.

Collier, Founder/ President of FAN and Pastor of More Like Christ Christian Fellowship Church, recognizes the need to reach out to our ‘neighbors’, who are those who have a need, regardless of race, color, creed, or religious affiliation, that may be less fortunate than us.

The Ministry usually takes place each second Saturday on the lot across from the church at 8159 S. Dobson, but because of the inclimate weather, the Ministry will move inside the church at 8201 S. Dobson. Children must be present to receive the Bags of Blessings!

For more information, contact Pastor Mitty Collier at (773) 371-2448 (church) or (773) 218-4557 mobile

State Announces a Multi-Million Dollar Settlement with Lincoln

Posted by Admin On December - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

With this settlement, over 55% of the national market has agreed to business reforms

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) Director Andrew Boron announced an agreement with Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Lincoln Life and Annuity Company of New York, and First Penn Pacific Life Insurance Company (collectively “Lincoln”) 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, Lincoln will pay $12.6 million dollars to states that are a party to the settlement.

This settlement with Lincoln 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 Pennsylvania, with support from insurance regulators from Florida, California, Illinois, Indiana, New Hampshire, and North Dakota.

“I am pleased that market conduct examinations of eight of the ten largest insurers in the United States have been resolved,” said DOI Director Boron. “These life insurers, and the other smaller insurers who have settled, represent more than 55% of the market, and the resolutions demonstrate that the majority of the industry is now properly and fairly using the DMF.”

Under the agreement, Lincoln 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. These companies 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.

A copy of the Lincoln 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.

Consumers need to ‘Play it Safe’ when purchasing Gift Cards urges Better Business Bureau

Posted by Admin On December - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – Finding the perfect gift during the holiday season is not an easy job. A gift card is a hassle-free present that gives the recipient the opportunity to pick out something they really like or need. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) offers tips on how to choose the best gift card that will suit the recipient.

“When picking out a gift card, like any present, it is important to choose the right one for the recipient,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Understand the type of gift card you are purchasing, in addition to reading the fine print and rules.”

Gift card giving has been on the rise for years and according to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend roughly $29.8 billion on gift cards this year. The survey also states that gas station, department stores and restaurants are top choices for gift cards. Gift cards are popular for their convenience and also the freedom they give the recipient.

The BBB offers these tips when purchasing a gift card:

  • Inspect the card before buying it. Verify that no protective stickers have been removed, and that the codes on the back of the card haven’t been scratched off to reveal a PIN number. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the cards.
  • Know the rules. Understand the different types of gift cards: retail gift cards, which can only be redeemed at the retailers and restaurants that sell them; and bank gift cards, which carry the logo of a payment card network such as American Express, MasterCard or Visa and can be used wherever the brand is accepted.
  • Check it out. Make sure you are buying from a known and trusted source. Always check out a business at www.bbb.org. Avoid online auction sites, because the cards sold there may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.
  • Read the fine print before buying. Is there a fee to buy the card? Are there shipping and handling fees for cards bought by phone or online? Will any fees be deducted from the card after it is purchased?
  • Provide the recipient with back up. Give the recipient the original receipt in case the card is later lost or stolen. Also, before you buy retail gift cards, consider the financial condition of the retailer or restaurant. A card from a business that files for bankruptcy or goes out of business may be worthless. If the business closes a store near the recipient, it may be hard to find another location where the card can be used.
  • Treat the gift card like cash. It’s important to report lost or stolen cards to the issuer immediately. Some issuers will not replace cards that are lost or stolen, while other issuers will, for a fee. Make sure to use gift cards as soon as possible, because it’s not unusual to lose or forget about them.

For more advice on finding reputable businesses around the holidays, visit www.bbb.org

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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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