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Archive for August 4th, 2014

President Obama’s Weekly Address: It’s Time for Congress to Help the Middle Class

Posted by Admin On August - 4 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, the President discussed the new monthly jobs report and the fact that our economy created over 200,000 new jobs in July for the sixth straight month – the longest streak since 1997. To ensure this momentum can be sustained, the President is pressing Congress to act to create jobs and expand opportunity from raising the minimum wage, to helping people pay back their student loans, to fair pay and paid leave. These are steps that would continue to make things better for the middle class, which has always been his priority. But Republicans in Congress have repeatedly blocked these important measures. As Congress is about to go on vacation, the President encouraged Americans to reach out to their elected officials and let them know that they must pass these measures when Congress returns to session. And in their absence, the President will continue to do everything he can, working with all stakeholders who are willing, to create jobs, strengthen our economy and expand opportunity for all Americans.

The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, August 2, 2014.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
August 2, 2014

Hi, everybody.  My top priority as President is doing everything I can to create more jobs and more opportunities for hardworking families to get ahead.

On Friday, we learned that our economy created over 200,000 new jobs in July.  That’s on top of about 300,000 new jobs in June.  We’re now in a six-month streak with at least 200,000 new jobs each month.  That hasn’t happened since 1997.  All told, our businesses have created 9.9 million jobs over the past 53 months.  That’s the longest streak of private-sector job creation in our history.

Because of you – because of your hard work and determination – America has recovered faster and come farther than almost any other advanced country on Earth.  The economy is clearly getting stronger.  Things are clearly getting better.  And the decisions we make now can keep things moving in that direction.

That’s what’s at stake right now.  Making sure our economy works for every working American.  Making sure that people who work hard can get ahead.  That’s why I’ve been pushing for common-sense ideas like rebuilding our infrastructure in a way that supports millions of good jobs and helps our businesses compete.  Raising the minimum wage.  Making it easier for working folks to pay off their student loans.  That’s why I’ve been pushing for fair pay and paid leave.

These policies have two things in common.  All of them would help working families feel more stable and secure.  And all of them have been blocked or ignored by Republicans in Congress.

That’s why my administration keeps taking what actions we can on our own to help working families – because Congress is doing so little for working families.  House Republicans actually got together this week and voted to sue me for taking actions on my own.  And then they left town for the month without settling a bunch of unfinished business that matters to working families across America.

The bottom line is this – we’ve come a long way these past five and a half years.  Our challenges are nowhere near as daunting as they were back then.  But imagine how much farther along our economy would be – how much stronger our country would be – if Congress would do its job.

I’ll never stop trying to work with both parties to get things moving faster for the middle class.  And I could use your help.  If you see your Member of Congress around home this month, tell him or her what’s on your mind.  Ask them why they haven’t passed bills to raise the minimum wage or help with student loans or enact fair pay for women.

And when they return from vacation next month, instead of trying to pass partisan bills on party lines, hopefully we can come together with the sense of common purpose that you expect.  And in the meantime, I will never stop doing whatever I can, whenever I can, not only to make sure that our economy succeeds, but that people like you succeed.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

NAACP Takes Strong Policy Stands on Important Civil Rights Issues during 2014 National Convention

Posted by Admin On August - 4 - 2014 1 COMMENT

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over 2000 voting delegates from all over the United States voted last week to pass policy positions on income inequality, police brutality, racial profiling, voting rights and other crucial issues during its 105th national convention held July 19th -23rd in Las Vegas.

The NAACP Board of Directors reaffirmed its commitment to the NAACP’s “Game Changers,” which include economic sustainability, health, education, public safety and criminal justice, and voting rights and political participation.

“The NAACP has over 1,200 branches deeply rooted in communities in every state, and our national policy is devoted to amplifying a broad range of civil rights and other voting issues affecting the nation today,” stated Hilary O. Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau Director and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy. “This year’s resolutions touch on a full range of issues affecting the community served by the NAACP, including income inequality and police brutality. The underlying goal of all of our work is to carry on the NAACP’s vision of leadership and justice.”

Resolution Highlights:

Criminal Justice: The NAACP passed an emergency resolution reaffirming its commitment to seeking justice and demanding police accountability for cases involving the deaths of people of color while in police custody. The Association reaffirmed it would use all of the tools in its advocacy arsenal to bring about justice in cases where unarmed individuals are killed by police.

Education: The NAACP reaffirmed its support for the adoption of the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice’s guidance on school discipline and follow up on all cases referred by the schools to juvenile courts. Delegates also passed a new policy addressing the threat privatization poses to public education.

Economics: The NAACP addressed the need for stronger and more comprehensive strategies to address unemployment and underemployment among African Americans. The NAACP affirmed its support of the Fast Food Industry Workers’ Movement fighting to win a living wage and the right to form a union without retaliation.

Voting Rights: The NAACP reaffirmed its support for greater transparency and integrity in elections.

*Resolutions are not official policy of the NAACP until they are ratified by the National Board of Directors in October. All resolutions passed by the Board will be available at www.NAACP.org this fall.

The Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) Issues a ‘C’ on “Report Card” of Obama Administration’s Drug Policy

Posted by Admin On August - 4 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
IBW’s “Mixed Review” Balances Praise With Criticisms and Renewed Demands

Washington DC -  The Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) released a “Report Card” on the Obama Administration’s efforts over the past year to reform, if not end, the failed “War on Drugs” which has turned out to be a “war against poor and powerless black people across the country”.

“Over the past year, the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) has invested a significant amount of time and resources in research, advocacy and organizing around the War on Drugs”, said Dr. Ron Daniels, IBW’s President. “A year ago, hundreds of protestors from New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington DC came together in the nation’s capital to proclaim that we have suffered long enough and that the time had come to bring an end to an ill-conceived and destructive policy/strategy”.

A year later, on the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of the declared ‘War on Drugs’, IBW is releasing a “report card” on the response of the Obama Administration to the demands we made a year ago. Our report which gives the Administration a C grade finds a mixed record of some significant steps taken by the White House and the Justice Department over the past 12 months along with persistent and unacceptable inaction and foot-dragging in a number of critical areas.

The IBW Report Card reflects an array of observations and critiques of official drug policies over the past year. It is IBW’s summary of significant developments in official drug policy reform as well as in the growing social movements to end the War on Drugs. The various sections of the report are culled from a wide body of academic research, news reports, analyses and commentaries by authoritative and prestigious sources in the fields of journalism, scholarship, public policy research, activism and advocacy. Much of this material can be found in the archives of the special “War on Drugs” section of IBW’s Web site. (http://ibw21.org/war-on-drugs)
“In short, while progress has been made to cease the most repressive and racially discriminatory drug policies, there’s still much left to be done to bring a speedy and comprehensive end to the War on Drugs and to begin repairing the horrible damage it has visited on black communities across the country,” said Dr. Daniels.

While IBW’s “Report Card” concludes by re-stating a number of demands and by offering several concrete proposals and recommendations to the Obama Administration in the area of drug policy reform, perhaps the most urgent priority in our war on the “War on Drugs” is to immediately de-criminalize the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana.

Half of the “War on Drugs” is a war on marijuana and black people are arrested at 5-9 times the rate of whites for marijuana possession even though the rates of marijuana consumption are roughly the same between blacks and whites. Other marijuana data compiled over the last year continues to reflect a persistent pattern of disproportionate and racially imbalanced punitive practices for drug-related offenses.

Finally, IBW is using this report card to repeat its demands of a year ago when we marched to the White House on June 17th 2013, i.e. that President Obama should:

* Intensify efforts to eliminate the disparity in sentencing between powdered and crack cocaine.
* Issue an Executive Order terminating the War on Drugs and replacing it with a national initiative that treats drugs and drug addiction as a public health issue.
* Issue an Executive Order ending the practice of using incarcerated persons as prison labor.
* Allocate more federal funds for drug education, counseling and treatment.
* Form a Presidential Commission to initiate a National Dialogue on the regulation and taxation of drugs.
* Mobilize moral and political support for direct public sector jobs and sustainable economic development programs with priority inclusion of formerly incarcerated persons targeted to transform distressed Black communities.

Read the report here: http://bit.ly/1xFTYT8
Research ♦ Policy ♦ Advocacy

Kirk Requests Investigation of Missing Federal Disaster Relief

Posted by Admin On August - 4 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Investigations of $50 Million in State Aid Ignores $5 Million of Federal Tax Dollars

HUD Investigation Should Answer: Who Received Aid, Were They Victims of Disaster, What Was Done With the Money

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has called on the U.S. Department of Housing’s (HUD) Inspector General to investigate the misuse of federal tax dollars in Illinois through the anti-violence program, the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI). NRI is currently under investigations by the Cook County States Attorney, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois James Lewis’ office, and the bi-partisan Illinois Legislative Audit Commission. Senator Kirk is requesting that the Inspector General investigate $5 million in federal disaster funds that were used to launch a micro-lending program.

“Illinois towns ravaged by natural disasters, like Washington and Harrisburg, have been denied federal funding and relief while millions in federal aid have disappeared,” Senator Kirk said. “I expect the HUD Inspector General to learn who received the aid, were they victims of disaster, and what was done with the money.”

In 2008, Hurricane Ike caused an estimated $43 million in damages and losses in Illinois. 41 counties were affected, and HUD allocated $193.7 million to the state for damage relief and recovery. Governor Quinn announced in 2010 that three Chicago-area institutions (Accion Chicago, Chicago Community Ventures and the Women’s Business Development Center) would obtain $5 million of the disaster funds for a micro-lending program within the NRI.

In the Illinois Auditor General Report, it was discovered that the program had “pervasive deficiencies” and ignored Chicago’s most violent areas. Additionally, Chicago Community Ventures seemingly pocketed $150,000 in federal aid, despite failing to lend out any money at all.

Senator Kirk’s letter to HUD is below:

July 24, 2014

David A. Montoya
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Inspector General
451 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20410

Dear Inspector General Montoya:

I write to request an investigation of $5 million in federal tax dollars for Hurricane Ike Disaster Assistance that were used in a micro-lending component of a state run anti-violence program that is currently under three investigations.

In September of 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall in Texas. Shortly after, the hurricane caused flooding, wind damage and two deaths in Illinois. In response to Hurricane Ike, Congress passed the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act (Pub. L. 110– 329) in September of 2008 which appropriated $6.5 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds. In 2009 Illinois was allocated a total of $169.1 million of CDGB-DR funds and a supplemental $24.5 million of Disaster Recovery Enhancement Funds in 2010. This brought the total CDBG-DR funding allocated to Illinois to $193.7 million. As described in the Act, the funds are “for necessary expenses related to disaster relief, long-term recovery, and restoration of infrastructure, housing and economic revitalization in areas affected by hurricanes, flooding, and other natural disasters that occurred during 2008, for which the President declared a major disaster.”

In accordance with HUD CDBG-DR rules, Governor Patrick Quinn designated the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to administer the Illinois Ike Disaster fund in March of 2009. In December 2010, three Chicago area financial institutions (Accion Chicago, Chicago Community Ventures and the Women’s Business Development Center) along with the DCEO announced that $5 million of the Ike Disaster funds would be made available through a micro-lending program component of Governor Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI).

The now defunct anti-violence program, NRI, was the subject of a recent Illinois Auditor General Report (The Report) highlighting a misuse of state funds. The Report found “pervasive deficiencies” in planning, implementation and management highlighted by the fact that that Chicago’s most violent areas were ignored by the NRI. The Report also revealed that the NRI hired mentors who were convicted of aggravated financial identification theft; possession of a controlled substance; armed robbery; neglect of a child; battery; theft; burglary; and, prostitution. As a result, NRI officials are now under investigation by a federal grand jury, the Cook County State’s Attorney Office and the Illinois Legislative Audit Commission. It should also be noted that at the same time Chicago Community Ventures was lending on behalf of the NRI’s micro-lending program, they were the subject of a Department of Treasury investigation that found the organization had misused federal Community Development Financial Institution funds.

The Illinois Auditor, State’s Attorney office and the Audit Commission have only focused on the estimated $50 million in state funds used for the NRI. I am concerned that without your investigation into the micro-lending component of the NRI, there will be no oversight of the $5 million in federal disaster funds used for this questionable program.

I ask that you investigate and make public how these funds were used. I also request answers to the following questions regarding the NRI micro-loan program.

1.     Who were the final recipients of the NRI micro-loan program and where were they located?

2.     Did any of these businesses lie within areas of significant damage caused by Hurricane Ike?

3.     What criteria was used to select micro-loan recipients?

a.     Who chose the criteria?

4.     What criteria was used to select micro-loan lenders?

a.     Who chose this criteria?

5.     How many jobs were created by this micro-loan program?

a.     Which businesses created these jobs and what metrics were used to verify job creation statistics?

6.     Was the NRI micro-loan program an eligible activity under the law that appropriated the money?

7.     Did the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity accurately report the functions of the micro-loan program in their mandated Ike quarterly reports to allow for proper HUD oversight?

8.     The Accion press release stated minimum requirements to obtain a NRI micro-loan. Were all of the recipients properly notified of the disaster requirements necessary to qualify for Ike Disaster Recovery Funds? Were these requirements posted online?

9.     Did all of the recipients of the loans meet Ike Disaster Recovery Funds requirements?

10.  I understand Illinois submitted waivers to forgo a portion of the HUD requirements for the Ike funds. Did these waivers permit micro-lending activity?

In addition to the answers to these questions, I would like any and all documents related to the site visits and subsequent concerns that were forwarded to the lenders as mentioned in the state’s Ike Quarterly Performance Reports to be made public.

Thank you for your cooperation and prompt response.

Sincerely,

2013 Chicago TIF Analysis: City had $1.7 Billion in Property Taxes in TIF Accounts on January 1, 2014

Posted by Admin On August - 4 - 2014 1 COMMENT
CITY HAD $1.71 BILLION IN PROPERTY TAXES IN TIF ACCOUNTS ON JANUARY 1, 2014

A review of the 2013 annual reports of the City’s 151 Tax Increment Financing Districts by volunteers with the TIF Illumination Project revealed some startling facts about local government finance:

  • Total Property Tax Increment extraction for 2013 = $412,083,831 (a decrease from 2012 of $37.3 million or 8.3%) This is the amount of property taxes extracted by Chicago’s TIF districts and diverted from local units of government that rely on property taxes for their operation. 56% of Chicago property taxes are SUPPOSED to go to the Chicago Public Schools.
  • 21 TIFs take at least 90% of ALL property taxes collected inside their borders.
  • The Top Ten TIFs collected a total of $203.3 million in property taxes in 2013. These are the “champions” in terms of property tax extraction.  The Number One TIF = Near South, collected $61 million in 2013, representing 92% of total property taxes collected inside that district.
  • Total Expenditures = $385,988,162 (an increase from 2012 of $83.2 million or 25%) This is how much all of Chicago’s TIF districts spent in 2013.
  • Total Fund Balance = $1,708,029,756 (an increase of 1.7%) This is how much property taxes were left in all the TIF accounts on January 1, 2014.
  • Total revenues transferred INTO TIFs = $136,567,807. This how much revenue was placed INTO TIF accounts from other TIFs.
  • Total revenues transferred OUT of TIFs = $144,684,263 – leaving $8.1 million unaccounted for.
  • The Top Ten TIFs in terms of fund balance were holding $627,404,228 in property taxes on January 1, 2014.
  • Chicago’s 24 expired or repealed TIFs have collected $1.3 billion in property taxes, including a staggering $986,767,890 from the Central Loop TIF which expired in 2008.
  • The Department of Planning and Development extracted $7,558,864 for staffing costs from 91 TIFs.

For more information: Tom Tresser, CivicLab, 312-804-3230, tom@civiclab.us

The most striking number was the finding that over $1.7 billion in property taxes was sitting in TIF accounts on January 1, 2014.

The Top Ten TIFs by property tax collection are:

TIF Amount Collected
Near South $         60,967,751
LaSalle/Central $         21,420,164
Chicago/Kingsbury $         18,446,757
Near North $         16,983,065
Canal/Congress $         16,861,700
Kinzie $         16,177,357
Near South $         14,075,826
River West $         13,938,535
Central West $         12,948,017
Midwest $         11,448,176
$       203,267,348

The Top Ten TIFs by fund balance are:

Name Amount
Near South $       125,431,493
Central West $         68,384,433
Chicago/Central Park $         66,436,822
Canal/Congress $         61,191,121
Near North $         57,716,977
River West $         50,523,063
River South $         50,371,935
Chicago/Kingsbury $         50,158,372
Midwest $         49,077,482
Kinzie $         48,112,530
$       627,404,228

The Top Ten TIFs by expenditures are:

Name Amount
Near South $       100,535,651
Near North $         15,084,259
Chicago/Central Park $         13,722,741
Kinzie $         13,114,168
Michigan/Cermak $         11,256,253
River South $         11,069,871
Pilsen $         10,405,708
Central West $         10,325,729
Near West $         10,226,413
LaSalle/Central $          9,078,946
$       204,819,739

These TIFs that collected NO property taxes in 2013 are:

TIF Name
51st/Lake Park
67th/Wentworth
Avondale
Calumet
Chicago Lakeside
Greater Southwest West
Harlem
Harrison Central
Hollywood/Sheridan
Irving Park/Elston
Kennedy/Kimball
Kostner Avenue
Pershing/King
Pratt/ridge
West Pullman
14% of all of Chicago’s TIF extract at least 90% of all the property taxes inside their borders.
TIF # TIF 2012 Property Tax Increment 2013 Property Tax Increment % TIF Take Mostly in Ward All in Ward
008 95th/Stony Island $1,023,822 $1,028,295 100% 8
119 Lakefront $235,102 $263,316 100% 4
124 67th/Cicero $93,877 $407,606 100% 13
126 Madden/Wells $938,665 $1,224,726 99% 4
059 Calumet/Cermak $13,038,537 $4,504,076 98% 2
122 Drexel $393,627 $319,404 98% 4
067 Archer Courts $304,957 $377,836 98% 25
002 41st/King $163,146 $156,175 95% 3
100 Ohio/Wabash $1,234,257 $1,479,152 95% 42
028 Lincoln/Belmont/Ashland $1,128,297 $1,029,317 95% 44
068 Roosevelt/Union $4,370,035 $3,691,621 94% 25
004 49th/St. Lawrence $457,115 $379,697 94% 4
037 River South $13,981,111 $14,025,876 93% 2
085 Western Avenue South $6,305,134 $5,386,700 93% 47
010 126th/Torrence $668,885 $899,846 93% 10
031 Near South $62,767,177 $60,967,751 92% 2
138 69th/Ashland $520,497 $456,804 92% 17
021 Englewood Mall $343,191 $239,594 92% 16
044 Stockyards (closed) $2,125,499 $1,487,807 91% 12
029 Michigan/Cermak $1,007,842 $1,275,832 91% 2
063 Canal/Congress $18,858,179 $16,861,700 90% 2
21 $116,463,131
14% of 151

Hundreds of millions of property tax dollars continue to move around the city, from one TIF into another and sometimes to the city’s General Fund:

Transfers In Transfers Out
24th/Michigan $43,810,000 Near South $         36,500,000
Near West $20,120,000 Near West $         11,698,551
Central West $11,698,551 Lake/Calumet $          8,034,600
North Pullman $8,100,000 River South $          7,115,000
Chicago/Central Park $7,418,559 Calumet/Cermak $          6,000,000
Michigan/Cermak $6,000,000 Canal/congress $          3,987,000
71st/Stony Island $4,914,483 Kinzie $          3,879,576
Hollywood/Sheridan $3,997,000 Northwest $          3,729,571
Madison/Austin $3,811,771 Midwest $          3,161,098
Midwest $3,161,098 Clark/Ridge $          3,136,000
Devon/Sheridan $3,136,000 Stony Island/Burnside $          2,912,685
Ewing Avenue $2,734,600 Lawrence/Broadway $          2,872,000
51st/Archer $2,695,228 Woodlawn $          2,535,276
Lawrence/Kedzie $2,500,000 Lawrence/Pulaski $          2,500,000
Near North $2,500,000 North Branch South $          2,500,000
Galewood/Armitage $2,247,003 Western/Rock Island $          2,120,000
Western Avenue North $2,000,000 Central West $          2,120,000
Western/Touhy $1,680,289 Clark/Montrose $          2,000,000
West Woodlawn $1,250,000 Belmont/Central $          1,994,811
95th/Western $1,200,000 87th/Cottage Grove $          1,687,250
119th/I-57 $950,000 Devon/Western $          1,680,289
Lincoln Avenue $749,998 63rd/Pulaski $          1,678,594
Harrison Central $731,362 Addison North $          1,354,000
Devon/Western $550,000 Roseland/Michigan $          1,300,000
63rd/Ashland $400,000 Bryn Mawr/Broadway $          1,125,000
105th/Vincennes $353,380 Midway $          1,016,634
67th/Cicero $350,000 Western Ave North $             749,998
West Pullman $280,500 Roosevelt/Cicero $             731,362
47th/Ashland $218,729 Pulaski $             720,269
Pershing/King

Cook County Justice Advisory Council Awards $680,000 in Recidivism Reduction Grants

Posted by Admin On August - 4 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Grantees include the Inspiration Corporation, WestCare Foundation, Westside Health Authority and Youth Outreach Service

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced the sixteen recipients of $680,000 in recidivism reduction grants from the Cook County Justice Advisory Council at an event held at the non-profit Inspiration Kitchens, a grant recipient (3504 W. Lake Street in Chicago.) Six organizations will receive grants of $10,000, and five each will receive grants of $24,000 and $100,000.

The purpose of all the grants offered under the program is to reduce the recidivism rate for individuals released from the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and the divisions of the Cook County Jail, including the jail general and sentenced populations, Women’s Justice Services, the Impact Program, the Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center (VRIC), the Pre-Release Center, and the Day Reporting Center.

“More than half of the people released from the Cook County jail will return within three years. The organizations that are receiving grants today understand the complex factors that lead to recidivism, including lack of education, homelessness, substance abuse, trauma and mental illness. Their grant proposals offer innovative strategies for reducing recidivism in community-based settings,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Preckwinkle also noted that the recidivism reduction grants complement other violence prevention and intervention grants distributed by the County’s Justice Advisory Council.

The full list of grant recipients is:

$100,000 Demonstration Grants

The Housing Authority of Cook County program will operate a virtual high school for formerly incarcerated youth in the Ford Heights and Robbins communities.

The Inspiration Corporation will enroll 60 formerly-incarcerated participants in employment preparation training and enroll 40 formerly-incarcerated participants in food service training.

WestCare Illinois will provide aftercare services to seventy-five post-release offenders through counseling, substance abuse and mental health treatment programs for adults and youths.

The West Side Health Authority will provide at least 75 people with employment services, including placement in meaningful jobs with a 6 month retention rate of 75% or greater, supported by training and social services.

Youth Outreach Services will reduce recidivism and commitments to youth prison for 75 young people released from the Evening Reporting Center by matching them with mentors and providing access to clinical services and drop–in programming.

$24,000 Seed Grants

Chicago Lawyers Committee

Lawndale Amachi Mentoring Program (LAMP)

Spanish Action Committee of Chicago (SACC)

St. Leonard’s Ministries

Universal Family Connection

$10,000 Mini-Seed Grants

Allison Foundation for Better Living

Behavioral Services Center

First Defense Legal Aid

Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation

Northwest Middle School

Organizing Neighborhoods for Equality

Helen Prejean: The ‘Whole Death Penalty System is Botched’

Posted by Admin On August - 4 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Helen Prejean: The ‘Whole Death Penalty System is Botched’

New America Media
Question & Answer
By Viji Sundaram

Editor’s Note: The recent botched executions of three death row inmates – Joseph R.Wood III in Arizona in mid-July, Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma in April and Dennis McGuire in Ohio in January – have brought the death penalty issue under intense scrutiny once again. Wood reportedly gasped for air some 600 times over the course of two hours after being injected. Longtime anti-death penalty crusader Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, has been a spiritual adviser to many death row inmates in her home state of Louisiana. She shared her thoughts on the latest executions with NAM health editor Viji Sundaram.

How do you respond to those who say the botched execution of convicted double murderer Joseph Wood does not amount to torture?

People can say that even if he suffered excruciating pain, he did not suffer as much as the two people he killed. But we should not lose our moral bearings. The state should not decide whom to kill. The U.S. Supreme Court said the death penalty is only to be reserved for the worst of the worst crimes. But nobody knows what that means. Look at the application of the death penalty. Who has been selected to die? Only poor people. Close to 80 percent of executions have happened in the 10 states that practiced slavery.

We have signed on to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that says no one should be subjected to torture. In my years of work with death row inmates, I have witnessed their suffering as they watch their fellow inmates led off to the death chamber. Putting people on death row is nothing short of inflicting mental torture on them.

How is it that states are given license to administer the drugs that are being blamed for the botched executions?

The Supreme Court has given absolute power to the states to choose the means of killing them, but is not asking for transparency from them. Prisons are experimenting with new drug protocols to compromise for the drugs that have traditionally been used in executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. As TV host Rachel Maddow said, (states) are conducting medical experimentation on human beings to see what it takes to kill a person. Those three people were supposed to die quickly, but they did not.

The whole system of the death penalty is botched, from the Supreme Court down. The court has set out guidelines that are unconstitutional. Everything is botched when it comes to human rights.

Earlier this month, Judge Cormac J. Carney of the Central District of California wrote that the death penalty is carried out inconsistently in the state, in a random and arbitrary manner with few executions. How might his words impact the debate ahead?

Judge Carney is right. Even as far back as 1994, [Supreme Court] Justice Harry Blackmun said that the death penalty experiment in the U.S. has failed after 20 years of trying to make it work. Of the more than 900 death sentences carried out in California since 1978, only 13 have resulted in executions. Further, 94 death row inmates have died of natural causes, and 39 were granted relief from their sentence in the federal courts. Carney’s ruling could encourage challenges in other jurisdictions.

In 1997, you asked Pope John Paul II to strengthen the Catholic Church’s teaching by closing its loopholes on the death penalty issue. Do you think it’s only a matter of time before Pope Francis says no to the death penalty?

There are preliminary steps being taken, quiet overtures being made, to people who have contact with the pope. Given that he visited a prison within a couple of weeks after he became pope, given his messages of the need to help the poor, I have no doubt where his heart will be, especially toward the despised. I am optimistic that he will spark life into the Catholic bishops to be actively engaged in ending the death penalty.

But for right now, what’s the road out of this?

The United States is among only a handful of developed nations that still employs the death penalty. It should follow the example of the nations that have moved away from it. The death penalty should be taken off the table.

Chicago International Film Festival 50th Anniversary presents: HIPSTERS

Posted by Admin On August - 4 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
Celebrating their 50th Anniversary this October 9-23, the Chicago International Film Festival will partner with WTTW11 to present a different film each month from their exciting and diverse history. For the past five decades the Festival has introduced Chicago audiences to new directors, new voices and new visions from around the world. From award winners and audience favorites, to first films by acclaimed directors, this series showcases the outstanding programming that has defined the Festival since 1965.

Chicago International Film Festival 50th Anniversary presents:
HIPSTERS

Dir. Valery Todorovsky, Russia, 2008
Thursday, August 8 at 10:00pm

Film synopsis:

Moscow, 1955. Soviet uniformity is the order of the day, and most of the city’s younger generations are happy to fall in line with the country’s imposed ideology. But in the swingin’ secret juke joints along the city’s “Broadway,” the threads are splashy, the cleavage is out, the lips are glossed red, and the pompadours scrape the sky. Meet the hipsters. The hatred of all the grim-faced comrades in Russia isn’t going to stop them from showing their true colors. Meanwhile, the straight-laced Mels has been blindly marching along with the young “squares,” led by the militantly anti-hipster Katya. That is, until the night he meets Polly during a KGB-style bust-up at the Pompadour Club. A love story wrapped in a period piece wrapped in a musical, Hipsters is both infectiously fun and a fitting reminder that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Russian with English subtitles. 125 minutes.
Shown at the 44th Chicago International Film Festival in 2008, Hipsters won the Gold Plaque for Best Art Direction.
To view the film’s trailer, click here.
For upcoming 50th anniversary films on WTTW11, please click here.
For additional information about the Chicago International Film Festival, click here.

IEMA Encourages Parents to Include Emergency Preparedness in Back-to-School Plans

Posted by Admin On August - 4 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

August is School Preparedness Month in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, IL – School bells soon will be ringing as students across the state begin the new school year.  The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is joining with local emergency management agencies throughout Illinois during August to encourage families to include emergency preparedness in their back-to-school plans.

“No one likes to think about the possibility of an emergency happening while children are in school or at daycare,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.  “But as we saw with the May 2013 tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma and other incidents, it can happen.  A few minutes of your time now can help you and your child deal with emergencies that may occur during the school day.”

Monken offered several back-to-school planning tips for parents of school-aged children, including:

  • Know your child’s school or day care emergency plan.
  • Find out where children will be taken in the event of an evacuation during school hours.
  • Ensure your emergency contact information is up-to-date at your child’s school.
  • Pre-authorize a friend or relative to pick up your children in an emergency and make sure the school knows who that designated person is.
  • Have a family communications plan and review the plan periodically with your child.  The plan should include contact information for an out-of-area family member or friend, since local telephone networks may not work during a major disaster.

Many college campuses offer email and text messages to alert students of potential dangers, such as severe weather and other threats.  Encourage your college student to sign-up for such alerts.  Some colleges also provide alert messages for parents so they also are aware of potential dangers at their child’s school.

Additional preparedness information is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.

GOP Enthusiasm – From Today to Election Day: Update From ILGOP Chairman Tim Schneider

Posted by Admin On August - 4 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

With less than 100 days to go until Election Day, the energy and momentum on our side have been truly incredible.

For those of you who are putting in your time, effort, sweat, and energy, I want to offer you a sincere THANK YOU on behalf of the entire Republican Party. It’s your enthusiasm that’s going to lead us to victory in November, and your hard work that’s going to finally get Illinois back on track!

And for those of you who want to join in the excitement, we have plenty of ways to get involved in every part of the state, and for anybody who wants to pitch in.

GOP Day at the State Fair

Mark your calendar for Thursday, August 14 — it’s GOP Day at the State Fair!

If you’re a GOP diehard or you just want to see what all the fuss is about, I hope you’ll join us for an exciting day of showing off our Republican energy, mingling with fellow Republicans around the state, and hearing firsthand from the candidates who are going to bring back our great state — and all while enjoying the Illinois State Fair!

RSVP at GOPDay.com today – it’s free and easy to register. Also, you’re invited to a special fundraiser the night before – Wednesday, August 13 – details and additional information at ILGOPEvents.com.

ILGOP Momentum in the Press

All the hard work of the ILGOP is not  going unnoticed in the press, either. In case you missed it, Bernie Schoenberg in the State Journal-Register wrote about the progress we’re making and the healthy state of our party:

“TIM SCHNEIDER, the new chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, is stressing economic issues in seeking to carry his party to victory this fall.

“I think it’s refreshing that I’m a state party chairman … looking to move this party forward in this election united under … five core principles,” [Schneider] said. He listed those as lower taxes, less wasteful spending, a booming economy, term limits and quality education.

And Greg Hinz in Crain’s wrote about the party’s focus on the ground game:

“The big story of this election year is that the [Democrat] Machine finally may be meeting its match.

“Illinois Republicans appear to be disciplined, organized and moving to win in a way they haven’t been in decades. And the Democrats know it.

“The Republicans, maybe for the first time in several election cycles, are acting like they know how to play the game,” says Illinois Manufacturers’ Association CEO Greg Baise

GOP Momentum in Illinois — and Across the Country

A recent sampling:

Aug. 1: Cook Political Report moves IL-12 from “Lean Democrat” to “Toss-Up” (Republican Mike Bost challenging Rep. Bill Enyart)

Aug. 1: Poll shows Tom Cross up 11 in Treasurer’s race

Aug. 1: After Dem candidate in IL-13 Ann Callis refuses to give a straight answer on ObamaCare, she sends a fundraising letter that her “campaign could be doomed” if she doesn’t get more support.

July 30: Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball moves our gubernatorial race from “toss-up” to “leans Republican” – “In Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn’s (D) terrible approval rating and the state’s struggling economy threaten his reelection efforts. We are now making venture capitalist Bruce Rauner (R) the favorite in Illinois, changing the rating from Toss-up to Leans Republican.”

July 30: The Hill: Dems fear a debacle on turnout

July 25: Washington Post ranks Illinois #4 on the top governor’s races of 2014:  “Illinois is still Republicans’ best pickup opportunity.”

July 22: National Journal: The odds of a GOP wave are increasing

July 10: Illinois Dems fret about Governor Quinn, not Obama – “Illinois Democrats aren’t as worried about President Obama dragging them down at the top of the ticket as they are about the likelihood embattled Gov. Pat Quinn (D) could cost them several competitive congressional races.”

Pitch in to help the ILGOP

All of that momentum won’t mean a thing if we don’t have the resources to turn it into a victory.

Your support of the Illinois GOP helps us identify, contact, and turn out every Republican vote in the state, and support campaigns and candidates up and down the ticket.

There are two important ways to show your support – by attending or contributing to our fundraiser at the State Fair on Wednesday, August 13, or by contributing to the ILGOP online – it’s secure, fast, and much appreciated!

Both methods will help our ticket, and our party, win on Election Day and bring back Illinois.

The ILGOP has held a number of successful fundraisers in the past few months, and the support from our donors and friends has been nothing short of incredible. But we still need your loyal support – I hope you’ll take a moment to click those links above!

ILGOP Internships Available

Do you know someone who would make a great candidate for an internship with the Illinois GOP?

Internship spots are available for the summer and for the fall semester at our Chicago Headquarters. Head to our website for more information, and please, pass this along to anyone you know who might be interested.

RNC in Chicago

This month, the Illinois Republican Party is hosting the annual summer meeting of the full the Republican National Committee in Chicago. Please join me, our National Committeewoman Demetra DeMonte, and our National Committeeman Richard Porter in welcoming them to Illinois!

We’re honored to host RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and the leaders of our party, but I wish I could say they’ll find our state in better shape. Sadly, 10-plus years of one-party Democrat control have led to the worst economy in the Midwest, one of the highest jobless rates in the country, the worst debt ratings of any state, and a case study for failed liberal policies. As the RNC meets to chart the future direction of our party, they’ll be able to see firsthand the very real importance of electing Republicans throughout our country.

.GOP – New Tools for a Modern GOP

Because .com, .org, and .net are so ‘90s… Introducing .gop!

If you haven’t yet seen, I wanted to pass along two new websites…

  • Register.gop – This is a brand-new, one-stop website for anyone who has yet to register to vote. For every state, Register.gop has information on how to vote – a quick and easy way to share with your Republican friends to make sure they vote on Election Day!
  • Join.gop – Get your own .gop domain! To show off your Republican pride, set your new home on the Internet, or just secure your own web address, head to Join.gop to register for your very own .gop website.

GOP Conferences in the 8th CD and 14th CD

For those of you in the 8th Congressional District, the township organizations in your district are hosting a Republican Leadership Conference on the evening of Thursday, August 28th in Schaumburg. Featured speakers will be former U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-Florida) and GOP nominee Larry Kaifesh. See 8thCongressional.com for more information.

And in the 14th Congressional District, please join us for Precinct Committeeman Day on Saturday, September 6th in Geneva. The event features tools, tips, and tricks you need to help win in 2014! See 14th.stanbond.com for more information.

For a full list of Republican events, fundraisers, get-togethers and candidate events, head to our Event Calendar on ILGOP.org.

Thanks again, and keep up the great work! November 4th may be less than 100 days away, but Republicans are working harder than ever to win on Election Day and bring back Illinois.

-Tim Schneider
Chairman
Illinois Republican Party

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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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