April , 2019

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Archive for January 22nd, 2014

President Obama’s statement on Roe v. Wade Anniversary

Posted by Admin On January - 22 - 2014 Comments Off on President Obama’s statement on Roe v. Wade Anniversary

Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health.  We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom.  And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.  Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

Republican hopeful Bruce Rauner brings campaign to black community

Posted by Admin On January - 22 - 2014 Comments Off on Republican hopeful Bruce Rauner brings campaign to black community

Spars with CTU organizer

Dem. Gov. candidate Tio Hardiman rips chicken dinners

By Chinta Strausberg

Billed as a free Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. dinner held at Josephine’s Cooking Restaurant, a community forum held late Monday night became quite lively and intellectually challenging when the surprise sponsor, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner,  took on some tough questions from the audience.

Courting the black community, Rauner reached out to long time journalist Hermene Hartman, publisher of N’DIGO, who organized the forum. Hartman said small businesses and the black media need financial help, and Rauner agreed tos upport the African American media saying, “That is a part of our plan.”

According to Rauner, the state of Illinois is dismal. “Businesses are leaving, jobs are leaving, schools are deteriorating, the social services safety net to help our disadvantaged folks are” disappearing, “services are being cut. I don’t think career politicians in Springfield are going to fix it the right way.”

Saying he is “sick and tired of it,” Rauner, a father of six who is very wealthy said he doesn’t need a job. He said many state elected officials make money on the side and that it’s time for a change. Admitting it was a “big decision” to run for governor and that he has never run for office before, Rauner said his youngest daughter urged him not to run because she didn’t want him to go to jail.

“I am running to do four things…get more jobs in every community in Illinois, bring down the tax burden that is chasing our businesses out of state so we can employ more folks, great schools in every community, emphasize education as the most important thing to do, and to put term limits on all the politicians sot hey serve eight-years and then they’ll be gone instead of staying down there for decades….”

Rauner said he and his wife, Diana, president of Once of Prevention, have “dedicated most of our lives to education…especially in Chicago.”

On Charter schools, Rauner said, “I am pushing Mayor Emanuel to do a voucher program throughout the city of Chicago….” Referring to Chicago’s schools and aquestion about the paucity of black businesses, Rauner said, “The educational opportunities for African Americans have been terrible. I think the schools intoo many African American communities are terrible.

“They are not educating our young people…and I also think that many businesses have decided that it’s risky to invest in the black community because of either crime or violence or lousy schools or bad roads, bad infrastructure” may be the reason why businesses don’t come to the black community.

Rauner said he has a plan to “create growth throughout Illinois especially in the communities with the highest unemployment primarily African American communities” including Chicago, Decatur, East St. Louis” he described as“brutally high unemployment and it’s outrageous.”

“Rather than trying to do tax incentives for business because that does not work and ends up being corporate wealthy, I believe if we reduce the regulatory burden on businesses…. Illinois is one of the most hostile states in the nation for business,” Rauner said blaming this for Illinois’ high unemployment rate in the nation. “We need to become more pro-business with our regulations so companies want to come here…,” he said would attract more businesses. He has a detail plan to do that.

But, the discussion between Rauner, who managed state pensions for Illinois andother states, and Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) organizer Brandon Johnson who attended the forum became some what terse with Rauner candidly admitting, “I don’t like the CTU.

Johnson said of Rauner’s position like “right to work because these things are fraudulent and very harmful to black people.” Johnson asked, “If you’re going to make this thing better, how do you reconcile your position juxtapose to the very man (Dr. King) we’re celebrating and your open disdain towards public sector unions? How do you say that you’re going to make Chicago or Illinois better while at the same time demeaning the very entity that made the middle class possible for black people in particular”?

Johnson ,who said many have issues with Gov. Quinn, also asked Rauner about the proliferation of charter schools saying they are a “vehicle for the very corrupt practice that you want to combat in Springfield.” Johnson referred to money taken by UNO and gave other examples of charter schools that are now scandal ridden.

“Why is it when it comes to the black communities that we are not talking about investing in schools that everybody else wants to send their kids to and that the only so called option of choice for our community are these privately run institutions that have not fared any better than the very structure that’s in place,” Johnson stated who is also a teacher.

While disagreeing with Johnson’s last statement, Rauner said, “I am on a mission to improve the schools and to grow job opportunities for everybody in Chicago and around the state.

“I love teachers. I’m a big teacher advocate, but I don’t like the CTU. The CTU is probably the most powerful political force in America. I don’t think there is anything more powerful. The CTU has blocked school reform in Chicago for years, and I’ve been trying to help school reform.

“I believe that quality gets driven by choice and competition,” Rauner said. “The reason why suburban schools are forced to get better because folks in the suburbs can move, and they choose where they live based upon the schools. We live in our community because we like the schools there and we can move if we don’t like them. That’s the competition that forces the suburban schools to getbetter.

“In Chicago, poor families get stuck. They can’t move and they can’t choose their school and so the bureaucracy can afford to have their schools deteriorate and be lousy and those parents and children are abused. That’s wrong. Parents need choice. We need competition to improve the quality of the schools. That’s true…. Competition drives quality.

“When there is no competition and parents have a choice, the school can afford to be lousy and the parents are stuck there. I don’t want parents in Illinois stuck to a failing school. That’s it. It ain’t complicated. My wife and I have donated tens of millions of dollars to try to help improve the public schools in Chicago so parents have choice. I want every parent in Chicago to have choice. That’s what America is about freedom to choose. To me, education is theg reat equalizer…what drives equal opportunity….”

“It’s not American to let our children, any child, get stuck in a failing school while other American kids have good schools. That’s just not what America isabout. That’s why I’m running for governor. It’s not complicated,” said Rauner.

But, Johnson said, “I think that the notion that schools are failing is a notion that doesn’t get addressed in a very broad terms, Bruce. The reason why school sare failing is because they are not being invested in,” he said giving Rauner apiece of paper.

“You’re looking at a piece of paper form the 21st Ward on the South Sidethat shows all of the schools that don’t have the basic resources,” Johnson pointed out. “If you talk about children not being able to read and they don’thave a computer lab, Bruce we have 166 schools that don’t have libraries. We have schools in Chicago that do not offer world language.

“There is a school on 79th and Ashland that did not have a fist grade teacher for ten weeks,” Johnson said. “That’s not the union’s fault. I take issue as a teacher. You cannot separate me from the union. The union is consisted of black people, white people, brown people….

“What we’ve seen in Chicago that corporate reform for this so-called school of choice has caused the greatest decline of black teachers in the history of black teachers,” Johnson said. “Since we have had corporate reform, we’ve nearly lost half of our black teachers. Explain to me how choice and competition reconciles with the fact that we’re losing the very people that make up the middle class.

“What I’m hearing from both political parties is that the only way you can educate ablack child is to bring in a corporately run charter school and none of the teachers get to be black,” said Johnson. “What makes those suburban schools good is because they actually have property taxes that actually work“ and that they are funded.

Johnson told Rauner, “Before we start denigrating our children and our families, let’s invest in the schools that we have. As a teacher, I can tell you” how he did not have the basic resources including teaching in Cabrini Green “with kids come to me without coats, whose parents are trying to survive off the $7.25 anhour that people take issue with.

“We can talk about failing schools, but what we do know is this. Just this yearalone, CPS cut the budget of schools across this district by four percent.Two-thirds of corporations do not pay income taxes in this state. There are awhole lot of fundamentals we can do better on both sides of the aisle,” Johnson said.

“This notion that some how the very man we are celebrating today that stood up forpublic sector unions to demean, the, Bruce, you are not going to win this audience,” Johnsons aid referring to Dr. King’s birthday, life and legacy.“There are a lot of things I think you can woo the black vote with, but you’re not going to woo this audience if you’re going to go after public sector workers which is overwhelmingly black women. It’s why Dr. King stood on that  balcony.”

Johnson asked Rauner “We may disagree on some of those fundamentals about what schools should look like, but I’m asking you do not demean the very essence of what made my father, a union man, his father, a union man. The reason why I got three degrees and was able to make $48,000 a year as a seventh grade teacher was because my father had a public sector job and a pension.”

Saying this is the core issue of the election, Rauner responded. “My grandfather was aunion man. I am not anti-union at all.” Referring to President Franklin Roosevelt, Rauner said he was “probably the most pro-union president in American history. He was against government unions because he said they were organized against the public good.”

Rauner said, “There is a difference between a private sector union where you got to compete and businesses can move, you negotiate. There’s competition. In government, they’re no choices. Those schools can’t move. There is no option.The government is locked in. The schools are locked in and if the unions arepowerful, they just drive up the cost and can drive down the quality.”

Rauner said the wealthiest states have some of the strongest government unions, the biggest pensions, the biggest deficits, highest taxes and highest unemployment “because the government unions are increasing the size of government, crushing businesses, businesses are leaving. Businesses have choice.

“When the government gets too big and the government unions make them too big, businesses lose and working families, poor families especially, lose becausethe businesses lose. Not everybody can get a juicy pension working for the government. The families who can’t are hurt by the government union bosses who make the juicy deal…. That’s wrong,” said Rauner.

Johnson said he has to work 34 years and that he has 21-years and five-months before he can retire. “The average pension for a teacher is $43,000 a year. That’s not juicy,” he told Rauner. “That is not what is crushing our government.”

Rauner said the biggest problem with the teacher’s pension “is the administrators who have two and three pensions. That’s wrong. It’s corrupt, and it’s hurting your pension and the taxpayers…. That’s money out of our schools. That’s money outof our taxpayers pockets we could create jobs. That is what I am going to fight.”

Saying education is the core of his campaign, Rauner said, “I want great schools, schools that are competing with each other and to get better and better…. I want many more Whitney Young’s and Walter Payton’s….

“We’ve got to become growth again to be able to get employment and income’s rising and we’ll be able to afford good schools,” Rauner told the audience. “I want tomake Illinois one of the top growth states, top job creating state in the nation. It’s possible.”

Asked by this writer why he wants to roll back the minimum wage from $8.25 to $7.25, Rauner explained, “I do not want to reduce the minimum rate. I made that comment. I was flippant. I was in a forum. Our minimum wage is higher than allthe other states around us and that is hurting our competitiveness,” he explained.

“One of the reasons jobs are leaving Illinois and moving to Indiana, moving to Wisconsin, moving to Missouri and they are moving is because we are not competitive,” Rauner stated. “That was my comment.”

Clarifying his position on minimum wage, Rauner said, “I support raising the minimum wage either by raising the national minimum wage so all the states around us come up to Illinois or higher. Then, we will be on a level playing field and Illinoisis competitive again. If we’re not competitive, we’re not going to have jobs. We’ve got to be competitive.

“I’ll support raising Illinois’ minimum wage itself but in partnership with workers comp…tax reform” Rauner said would be key in attracting more businesses to Illinois then “they can afford to pay a higher minimum wage.

“If we only raise the minimum wage in Illinois and do nothing else, it will hurt many of the people it is designed to help. Watch unemployment rate go up more especially in your communities. Now, it will help some families, but it will hurt a lot of other families and we’ve got to be careful how we do it,” Rauner said.

However,in an interview on Illinois Radio WGBZ (http://altondailynews.com/news/details.cfm?id=108065#.Ut4W2_bnbqS), Rauner said, ““I will advocate moving the Illinois minimum wage back to the national minimum wage. I think we’ve got to be competitive here in Illinois,” Rauner said. Aftera slew of criticism, Rauner has changed his tune on this issue.

But gubernatorial candidate Tio Hardiman and his running mate, attorney Brunell Donald who attended the forum, disagreed with Rauner’s explanations. “When itcomes down to the minimum wage to roll it back to $7.25 an hour, he said he didn’t mean it the way he said.

“When people flip-flops on something like that it means you’ll be doing moreflip-flopping down the road,” Hardiman said.  “There is no way in the world that people on certain level’s of society make that kind of comment and didn’t know what he was talking about. That was something he probably meant.”

“A lot of elected officials feel they can come to the community and buy chicken dinners for the constituents in the black community while we’re suffering inthe areas of economic development, unemployment, high crime areas and poor schools,” Hardiman said.

“Just having a good conversation talking about you’re going to solve these issues in six or seven years to give you a chance, we need something right now,” Hardiman said. “I would not be in favor of a six or seven-year solution to our problems. Our people are suffering out here in a major way.”

However, Hardiman said, “Seventy percent of the homicides across the state are black-on-black homicides. We need some solutions right now, not next year, not six years from now and you give us a chicken dinner. We don’t need those kinds of solutions.”

Referring to himself and his running mate, Hardiman said, “In the first time in history, you have a qualified black man and black woman running for the highest level office and some of our black elected officials refuse to support” them because he says “they are part of machine politics.

“You have black leaders holding Gov. Pat Quinn up as if he’s really done something for the black community but the numbers reflect a totally different story,”said Hardiman.

“We are number one on the ballot,” said Hardiman referring to Quinn who challenged his signatures. “We won. This can be seen as history in the making, and we need everybody to support us because we stood up to Pat Quinn so imagine what we’lldo for the people.”

Hermene Hartman said this is one of several planned community forums Rauner will host.

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.

Tinley Park woman pleads guilty in financial theft from medical facility

Posted by Admin On January - 22 - 2014 Comments Off on Tinley Park woman pleads guilty in financial theft from medical facility

Former office manager stole more than $700,000

The former office manager of a south suburban physical therapy office was sentenced to seven years in prison today after pleading guilty to stealing more than $700,000 over the course of seven years, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Rita Schinske, 57, of the 16600 block of Tower Court, pled guilty to Theft over $500,000, a Class 1 felony, before Cook County Judge Colleen Hyland, who sentenced Schinske to seven years in prison.

According to prosecutors, Schinske was employed as the office manager at a physical and occupational therapy company located in Orland Park. Part of Schinske’s duties as office manager included bookkeeping for the office. Between April of 2003 and December of 2011, Schinske wrote more than 600 checks, totaling more than $772,000, to herself and deposited them into her personal account. Schinske’s theft was discovered during a review of the company’s finances.

State’s Attorney Alvarez thanked Assistant State’s Attorney John Carey and the Orland Park Police Department for their work in this case.

IDOT winter crews tackle snowy and icy conditions statewide

Posted by Admin On January - 22 - 2014 Comments Off on IDOT winter crews tackle snowy and icy conditions statewide

More than 1,300 trucks out; Winter crews ready for Wednesday’s anticipated storm

CHICAGO, IL – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced that road conditions in some areas of the state are still snow and ice covered, making travel dangerous for motorists. Currently, more than 1,300 trucks are assigned to snow duty in impacted areas across the state, and nearly 1,440 employees are on the job to help ensure roads are clear and passable. Currently, all state-maintained roadways are open.

“Our crews will continue to be out in full force statewide as long as necessary to help ensure a safe commute for motorists,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “Due to high winds, blowing and drifting snow is a major concern. Motorists are encouraged to take it slow, give plow drivers plenty of room, buckle up and avoid distractions.”

The National Weather Service forecasts extremely cold temperatures the remainder of the day and into tonight. In the Northern part of the state, heavy snowfall is expected to result in snow covered roads and near white out conditions. Wind chills as low as 10 to 20 below zero are still possible the remainder of today and tonight. Wind chills 20 to 30 below zero are possible Wednesday night into Friday morning. Periodic chances for snow will continue this week into the weekend throughout the state. For those traveling, check www.gettingaroundillinois.com for the latest winter road conditions and road closures.

Safety tips to remember:

· Allow extra time for travel during the winter months.

· Don’t crowd the plow – a snow plow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.

· Be aware that black ice can form on roads that appear clear and the unseen ice can be treacherous. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shady areas – all are prone to black ice, which is often invisible.

· Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to help prevent the vehicle’s fuel line from freezing.

· Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary – if you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route and schedule.

· Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.

· Carry a few extra blankets in your car, and perhaps an extra coat to ensure protection in case of a breakdown.

· Carry a cell phone and dial *999 for roadway assistance in case of emergency (but remember using handheld phones while driving is illegal if it is not an emergency situation).

· Always wear a seat belt, front seat or back – it’s the law.

· Check travel and road conditions routinely before any trip. You can get road condition information by calling 1-800-452-IDOT (4368), Illinois Tollway information by calling 1-800-TOLL-FYI or online at www.gettingaroundillinois.com and click on the “winter road conditions” icon.

PETAL et al. to host the first free and all inclusive Global Game Jam ever in the City of Chicago, January 24-26

Posted by Admin On January - 22 - 2014 Comments Off on PETAL et al. to host the first free and all inclusive Global Game Jam ever in the City of Chicago, January 24-26

This event is a collaborative and supportive effort by PETAL et al., in conjunction with Team Chicago (CEGD, Chicago Game Developers Commonwealth, and the Indie Video Game Developers Association)

CHICAGO, IL – PETAL et al., one of the leaders in entertainment technology arts training, will be hosting the first free and all inclusive Global Game Jam in the City of Chicago. The event will be held at Next Door Chi located at 659 W. Diversey Parkway, Chicago, IL.

Not only is it all inclusive, it is neutral collaboration, says Pamela McMillan, CEO of PETAL et al., noting that in the past she and PETAL et al.’s CTO Clarence McMillan observed that universities and colleges were the only ones hosting this type of event in the area.

“What we observed is that schools were more focused on their own students and charging non-students to attend these events,” said Pamela McMillan. “Oftentimes, students at these colleges wanted to team up with classmates, leaving visitors out of the loop. Participants felt it was more competition at the universities; which took the fun out of it for newbies or inexperienced participants.

“When participating in many of the game development groups, several students expressed an interest in Chicago. They decided to stay in Chicago instead of jamming in Toronto as originally planned in order to give people a chance to create games in a collaborative environment which is what game jam is supposed to be.

The McMillans participate in various types of game jams throughout the U.S. One of PETAL et al’s main goals is to level the field for everyone interested in the entertainment technology arts field. PETAL et al.’s training program is designed to prepare clients to reach their goals in making video games regardless of educational background.

“It is important to help others no matter what their educational background. We want everyone to enjoy themselves as well; to make a game whether they show up with a team or not. No one will be left out or work alone while creating a game during the jam unless they want to go it alone,” McMillan pointed out.

Prior to the upcoming jam, PETAL et al. will hold a two-hour kickoff to inform beginners of game jam strategy before the theme is announced.

PETAL et al. with the support of three local game development groups (CEGD, Chicago Game Developers Commonwealth, and the Indie Video Game Developers Association) is pulling together an event that embraces collaboration and encourages success amongst developers and game creators.

Those persons interested in attending the IGDA Global Game Jam can sign up on the Global Game Jam Chicago Team @PETAL et al. website. Participants must register on the Global Game Jam site to be officially recognized as a participant. Registration is free and quick.

Due to limited seating, PETAL et al. is asking that you do not RSVP for the event unless you are absolutely sure you will participate.

Persons not familiar with the Global Game Jam can visit their website for more information: http://www.globalgamejam.org

Details of the event are as follows:

Hours the facility is available during the 48-hour global game jam @PETAL et al. will be:

Friday, January 24, 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. (GGJ theme is announced at 5 pm)
Saturday, January 25, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday, January 26, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

On Friday, January 24, 3 p.m. – 5 p.m., there will be a Game Jam Workshop to get newbies started with strategies for completing a game within 48 hours. This two-hour workshop will be hosted by Pamela McMillan and Clarence McMillan, PETAL et al.

On Sunday, January 26, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., participants will share their game project retrospective.

This is a collaborative and supportive event by PETAL et al., in conjunction with support from Team Chicago (CEGD, Chicago Game Developers Commonwealth, Indie Video Game Developers Association, and more to come).

Participants should keep up with updates. They must also bring their own laptop computer.

Said Pamela McMillan: “PETAL et al. is proud to be hosting and facilitating the FIRST FREE and ALL INCLUSIVE Global Game Jam site in the City of Chicago, IL.

Now, everyone gets a chance to play! This will certainly set a precedence of global game jams being free in Chicago and open to everyone.”

Did politics become a private order of conducting business?

Posted by Admin On January - 22 - 2014 Comments Off on Did politics become a private order of conducting business?

By Rev. Harold E. Bailey

President, Probation Challenge/PCC Network

CHICAGO, IL – I’ve always believed that local and national politics should and would represent all the people and not just for some! That is to say; public officials are suppose to be ‘public’ and certainly not secret in their ways of conducting business.

Did I get it wrong when I believed that the President, Governor, Mayor, Aldermen/Woman, were hired by the public and they now have an obligation to publicly report back as to findings  that would affect the public before and after decision making?

Do we still have such a thing as open government? Question: When was the last time your local elected official gave you and your fellow neighbor exactly what was going on in intergovernmental hearings and/or meetings? When was the last time you were asked or given any consideration regarding a proposed hike in that last bill received? And for that matter, when was the crucial meeting that determined that last local tax raise?

Before a candidate vying for office is elected, isn’t it rather strange that he or she will often say, ‘I will not be like the person in office, but I will tell my constituencies what is going on and will ask for their in-put.’ … Bet you’ve heard that one before. Then, after the election and a drink of coffee with their co-workers … they fall into the same political death trap.

What are we to do about these type of elected officials? Well, I suggest that we first do all within our investigative powers to find out more about them…their backgrounds. Then I would say, consul God for candidates who are truly God-fearing and have community track records that are fair and honest. There’s nothing much else that can be done!

Rev. Harold E. Bailey, president, Probation Challenge, WWW.ProbationChallenge.org – The Truth Network

Avoid College Financial Aid Red Flags with Better Business Bureau Advice

Posted by Admin On January - 22 - 2014 Comments Off on Avoid College Financial Aid Red Flags with Better Business Bureau Advice

CHICAGO, IL – Scholarships and grants are a large part of the education planning process for parents and students. The process of applying for financial aid is often confusing and frustrating. Some companies claim they can help, but only end up charging unnecessary fees. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) recommends doing your research before paying a company to find financial aid for college.

“With money being tight and tuition costs rising, scholarships and grants are essential for many families to get students through college,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Unfortunately, some companies are trying to take advantage of struggling families looking for funding by charging for phony grants and scholarships. Scholarships and grants will never cost you money.”

The BBB recommends listening for the following red flags when receiving a sales pitch from a financial-aid advisor:

  • “The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back.” In reality no one can guarantee they will get you a grant or scholarship. The refund guarantee offers usually have many conditions or strings attached making it is almost impossible for consumers to get their money back.
  • “You cannot get this information anywhere else.” Scholarship information is widely available in libraries, financial aid offices and often very conveniently on the internet.
  • “You have been selected by a foundation to receive a scholarship.” If you have not entered a competition sponsored by the foundation, this claim is highly unlikely.
  • “May I have your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship?” This is never a requirement for a legitimate scholarship offer.
  • “The scholarship will cost some money.” Legitimate scholarship offers never require payment of any kind.
  • “What is your Social Security number?” You should never share your Social Security or passport number over the phone.

For more information on finding financial aid for school, visit www.fafsa.gov; the BBB has advice for everyone on managing personal finances and avoiding scams at www.bbb.org

Senator Collins honored with PUSH Excel’s King-Johnson Dream-Makers Award

Posted by Admin On January - 22 - 2014 Comments Off on Senator Collins honored with PUSH Excel’s King-Johnson Dream-Makers Award

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) was honored with a Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon B. Johnson Dream-Makers Award at the 24th Annual PUSH Excel King Scholarship Breakfast. The “Faith in Politics: Game Changer” recognition acknowledged Collins’ work in addressing, focusing attention and showing accountability in efforts to eradicate poverty.

“It is an honor to hold a position of trust from which I am able to oppose injustice and advocate for the ‘least of these,’” said Collins, who serves on the Governor’s Commission on the Elimination of Poverty. “The collaboration between Dr. King and President Johnson to pass civil rights legislation and launch the War on Poverty remains an example I look to as I work with churches, non-profits and others to further the dream of equal opportunity.”

During her decade of service in the Illinois Senate, Collins has fought against foreclosure, mortgage scams, unfair lending practices, abuse and neglect in nursing homes, the exploitation of children and other threats to economic and social justice.

State announces a multi-million dollar settlement with Genworth

Posted by Admin On January - 22 - 2014 Comments Off on State announces a multi-million dollar settlement with Genworth

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) Director Andrew Boron today announced an agreement with Genworth Life Insurance Company, Genworth Life and Annuity Insurance Company and Genworth Life Insurance Company of New York (collectively “Genworth”) 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, Genworth will pay $1.9 million dollars to states that are a party to the settlement.

This settlement with Genworth 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 Illinois, with support from insurance regulators from Florida, California, Delaware, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

“I am pleased that Genworth stepped to forward to make business reforms to timely pay beneficiaries,” said DOI Director Boron.

Under the agreement, Genworth 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. Genworth 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 more than 55% of the market has agreed to business reforms to properly and fairly use the DMF.

A copy of the Genworth 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.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company announces casting for World-Premiere Production of The Way West

Posted by Admin On January - 22 - 2014 Comments Off on Steppenwolf Theatre Company announces casting for World-Premiere Production of The Way West

Ensemble member Amy Morton is at the helm of this cast of six, featuring Ensemble Member Martha Lavey, April 3 – June 8, 2014, in the Downstairs Theatre

CHICAGO, IL – Casting is nearly complete for Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s world-premiere production of The Way West by Mona Mansour. Ensemble member Amy Morton directs a cast of six featuring ensemble member Martha Lavey with Ira Amyx, Caroline Neff, Deirdre O’Connell, Zoe Perry and Gabe Ruiz. This wryly funny play—with music—about the contemporary quirks of our American spirit is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. The Way West begins previews April 3, 2014 (opening night is April 13; press performances are April 12 at 3pm and April 15 at 7:30pm) and runs through June 8, 2014 in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre (1650 N Halsted St). Tickets ($20 – 78) are on sale now at steppenwolf.org.

In a modern-day California town that’s seen better days, Mom shares death-defying tales of pioneer crossings with her two squabbling adult daughters as she waits for her bankruptcy to come through. Peppered with original prairie songs, this hilarious and heartbreaking play about today’s American family explores the mixed blessing of our great frontier spirit, which has fueled both self-delusion and survival.

The production team for The Way West includes: Kevin Depinet (scenic design), Nan Cibula-Jenkins (costume design), David Weiner (lighting design), Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (sound design and original music) and Malcolm Ruhl (musical director). Additional credits include: Erica Daniels (casting), Deb Styer (stage manager) and Michelle Medvin (assistant stage manager).

Title                                         The Way West

Author                                      Mona Mansour

Director                                    Ensemble member Amy Morton

Featuring                                 Ensemble member Martha Lavey with Ira Amyx, Caroline Neff, Deirdre O’Connell, Zoe Perry and Gabe Ruiz

Location                                   Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St

Dates                                        Previews: April 3 – 12, 2014

Press Performances: April 12 at 3pm and April 15 at 7:30pm

Opening: April 13 at 6pm

Regular Run: April 15 – June 8, 2014

Accessible Performances         American Sign Language Interpretation: May 11 at 7:30pm

Open Captioning: May 24 at 3pm

Audio Description and Touch Tour: May 25 at 1:30pm (3pm performance)

Curtain Times                         Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30pm.

Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3pm.

Wednesday matinees at 2pm on May 14, 21 and 28.

Note: There are no 7:30pm performances on April 8, May 18, 25, June 1 and 8.

There is no 3pm performance on April 13 and the evening performance that day is at 6pm and is by invitation only. There are no performances on May 3.

Ticket prices Previews: $20 – $54

Regular Run: $20 – $78

20 for $20: Twenty $20 tickets are available for subscription shows on the day of the performance at 11am (Mon – Sat) and 1pm (Sun), by phone only at 312-335-1650. Limit 2 per person.

Rush Tickets: Half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show.

Student Discounts: Limited $15 student tickets are available online. (Limit 2 tickets. Must present a valid student ID for each ticket). For additional student discounts, visit steppenwolf.org/students.

Group Tickets: All groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance throughout the season.

Audience Services                   1650 N Halsted St, 312-335-1650

Online ticketing available at steppenwolf.org

Major Foundation Support provided by the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation. Additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. The Way West is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is America’s longest standing, most distinguished ensemble theater, producing nearly 700 performances and events annually in its three Chicago theater spaces—the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat Garage Theatre. Formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, Steppenwolf has grown into an ensemble of 43 actors, writers and directors. Artistic programming at Steppenwolf includes a five-play Subscription Season, a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season and two repertory series: First Look Repertory of New Work, and Garage Rep. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Off-Broadway, Broadway, London, Sydney and Dublin. Steppenwolf has the distinction of being the only theater to receive the National Medal of Arts, in addition to numerous other prestigious honors including an Illinois Arts Legend Award and 12 Tony Awards. Martha Lavey is the Artistic Director and David Hawkanson is the Executive Director. Nora Daley is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre and twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr.

Currently on stage is Tribes by Nina Raine, directed by ensemble member Austin Pendleton (through February 9, 2014) in the Downstairs Theatre.

The 2013/14 Subscription Season also includes Russian Transport by Erika Sheffer, directed by ensemble member Yasen Peyankov (February 6 – May 11, 2014) in the Downstairs Theatre; and The Qualms by Bruce Norris, directed by Pam MacKinnon (July 3 – August 31, 2014) in the Downstairs Theatre.

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