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Archive for August 5th, 2014

Unsafe at Any Age – Georgia’s New Gun Law vs. State Alzheimer’s Plan

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Unsafe at Any Age--Georgia’s New Gun Law vs. State Alzheimer’s Plan

New America Media

By Toni P. Miles, MD

ATLANTA—When Gov. Nathan Deal signed Georgia House Bill 60, called the Safe Carry Protection Act last spring, the new law, which went into effect July 1, sharply contrasted with another document the governor signed recently—Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Plan (GARD).

While House Bill 60 creates an environment where licensed gun holders can carry a weapon into any establishment, as long as the property owner has not banned them, the state’s gerontologists and service providers in aging worry that it could lead to unintended public risk as the rapid aging of the population increased the prevalence of people with dementia.

In a 2011 case in Nashville, Tenn., for example, Freeman Stafford, a 91-year-old World War II veteran with dementia, shot his daughter in the stomach. Police stated that Stafford appeared to be unaware of the shooting when they arrived. Family members told police they didn’t realize the man still had a gun. He kept the revolver, given to him 25 years before, in a shoebox beside his bed.

House Bill 60 places the onus on facility managers to prohibit guns on their premises. For example, anyone bringing a gun into a church that prohibits them could pay a fine of up to $100.

The gun law not only applies to such places as restaurants or shopping malls, but licensed guns are now legal in places populated by frail and cognitively impaired older adults – county area agency on aging offices, adult day care centers, long-term care facilities and hospices.

Bipartisan Alzheimer’s Plan

It is ironic, then, that during the same recent legislative cycle, Georgia’s Department of Public Health developed and published the Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Plan (GARD)—which Gov. Deal signed on June 23.

The GARD process is a sober recognition of the public health impact of dementia in our aging society. As families well know, paranoia and suspicion often occur with dementia. In addition, long-term care workers are developing practices to contain the aggressive behaviors of people with dementia.

The plan is the product of a six months consultation process that brought elected officials from both political parties together with patients, families, advocates and 50 experts representing education, health care, public safety, financing, housing and transportation.

The depth and breadth of this plan shows how effective state and local government can be when acting in concert with its constituents.

This is a national issue given the rapid aging of the baby boomers and increased longevity of their elderly parents. Georgia is one of more than 40 states that have enacted or are developing an organized response plan to meet the public health challenge of a dementia epidemic.

In Georgia alone, 120,000 older adults were diagnosed with dementia in 2010 — projected to reach 160,000 by 2025.

Experts also estimate that half of those living with dementia are currently undiagnosed. In fact, over 14 percent of Georgians ages 60 or older report that they have been increasingly experiencing confusion or memory loss.

Now that the state has a plan, the GARD will help to implement and oversee it. This is the genius of the GARD process and a shining example of the effectiveness of Georgia’s Council on Aging and the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly (CO-AGE). Since 1977, CO-AGE has met annually to identify legislative and budgetary priories for Georgia and its older adult population.

Lessons From VA Shooting

During its July 2014 meeting, CO-AGE celebrated the achievement of GARD. In the midst of this celebration, Georgia’s network of area agencies on aging (known as AAAs) took up the issue of Georgia’s new gun law. The AAA’s intend to bring this issue to the Georgia Gerontology Society held this week to advocate for a legislative amendment to exempt AAA offices and senior centers from the gun law.

Georgia’s AAAs have learned from the Veterans Health Administration (VA) that it is important to get in front of this issue. The VA launched a public awareness campaign about gun access by dementia patients after an 83-year-old veteran pulled a pistol from his pocket in August 2000 and shot a doctor in a VA hospital emergency room in Salisbury, N.C.

It is only now, that the work of the VA is entering the civilian world of public safety.

By taking up this issue, the Georgia gerontology community will become leaders in shaping a public health response to the issue of dementia and guns.

Some may ask whether there is really an extensive issue. According to materials developed by the Georgia AAA, the symptoms of dementia may cause a person to use a gun inappropriately or trigger a catastrophic reaction by another person with a gun.

Last year, for instance, Joe Hendrix, 34, shot and killed what he thought was a late night prowler. It was actually a man of 72 with advanced Alzheimer’s disease in Walker County, Ga.

Hendrix killed Ronald Westbrook after the older man had walked–lost and confused–about three miles to the shooting scene from his home. With his two dogs, Westbrook wandered while wearing a light jacket and straw hat as the wind-chill temperature hovered around 20 degrees.

Following the shooting, Westbrook was found clutching letters taken from another mailbox along the road, the sheriff said. Westbrook had awakened Hendrix and his fiancée at 3 a.m., when he rang the doorbell and turned the doorknob. Hendrix has not been charged.

Legislative Strategy Questioned

Although Georgia’s gerontologists are examining legislative strategies for banning guns from locations directly concerning the seniors and staff members they serve, if successful their initiative would leave our children and their parents in public spaces vulnerable to gun violence.

When asked about this limited approach, one gerontologist responded, “I understand people who want to own guns for hunting. I kind of get those who want them in their home for protection — even though it is irrational since they are more likely to shoot a friend or family member versus a criminal intruder. But there is at least a patina of logic there.”

He continue, “What I don’t get is the desire by many to return to Hollywood’s version of the wild west where everyone had guns on their hips wherever they went. [This is an] interesting, approach to put at least a dent in legislation [and it] is likely to pass.”

Toni P. Miles, MD, PhD, director of the University of Georgia Gerontology Institute. She was a member of the GARD Task Force. Miles is the author of Health Care Reform and Disparities: History, Hype, and Hope (ABC-CLIO), 2012.

Photo: Gov. Nathan Deal is shown signing Georgia’s new open-carry gun law, which went into effect July 1. One week earlier, the governor, whose mother-in-law had dementia, signed his state’s Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Plan.

Former White House Press Secretary James Brady, dies

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James Brady, White House Press Secretary under President Ronald Reagan has died. Brady was 73 years old.

In an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981, Brady and three other people were also hurt in the shooting by John Hinckley outside a Washington Hotel. Brady suffered a serious head wound.

Later Brady became a gun-control advocate and after leaving the White House launched the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

In a statement on the passing of Brady, President Barack Obama said he and First Lady Michelle “Send our deepest condolences to the family of former White House Press Secretary James Brady on his passing.  Jim is a legend at the White House for his warmth and professionalism as press secretary for President Reagan; for the strength he brought to bear in recovering from the shooting that nearly killed him 33 years ago; and for turning the events of that terrible afternoon into a remarkable legacy of service through the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.  Since 1993, the law that bears Jim’s name has kept guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.  An untold number of people are alive today who otherwise wouldn’t be, thanks to Jim.

“Every day, reporters and White House staffers walk past a plaque marking the day in 2000 that the White House Briefing Room was renamed the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.  It reads, “May his courage and dedication continue to inspire all who work in this room and beyond.”  Those words will endure, as will his legacy.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s wife Sarah, who has been Jim’s steadfast partner in advocacy, and their children Scott and Melissa.”

Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden in a statement said Brady was “one of the country’s finest public servants.

“Jill and I are  saddened to hear of the loss of James Brady, our dear friend and one of the country’s finest public servants.  Our friendship goes back to the days when Jim was the press secretary to my former colleague, Republican Senator Bill Roth of Delaware. Even then, I valued what Presidents of both parties and the American people would later come to value in Jim: his honesty, humor, decency, and absolute courage.
It’s been three decades since he nearly lost his life to an assassin’s bullet fired at President Reagan from a gun bought with no background check. But through his paralysis and daily physical struggle, Jim and his wife Sarah showed a dignity, grace, and fierce determination to turn tragedy into action.  Still healing himself, Jim would reach out to survivors of gun violence and other tragedies with a message of encouragement and hope on their own road to recovery. I was proud to have worked with Jim and Sarah in the 1980s and 1990s as they persevered privately to publicly lead the bipartisan consensus for commonsense efforts to keep guns out the hands of those who would use them to harm themselves or others. And I am grateful for their ongoing, rational, and heartfelt guidance as our nation continues to experience devastating gun violence tragedies, like the one at Newtown and in towns and cities across America.”

Statement by Press Secretary Josh Earnest and Former Press Secretaries Jay Carney, Robert Gibbs, Dana Perino, Scott McClellan, Ari Fleischer, Jake Siewert, Joe Lockhart, Mike McCurry, Dee Dee Myers, Marlin Fitzwater, and Ron Nessen on the passing of Brady

Jim Brady defined the role of the modern White House Press Secretary. With his passing we lost a friend and mentor, and the country lost a selfless public servant who dedicated his life to service, even in the face of tragedy. Jim always did his job with the highest integrity. He had a true affection and respect for the press, relished a good sparring with the front row, and was an unfailing defender of the President and the value of a free press. Jim set the model and standard for the rest of us to follow. It’s been a genuine honor for each of us to stand at the podium in the briefing room that will always bear his name. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s wife Sarah and his children Scott and Melissa.

National Urban League Supports FCC Efforts to Expand Diversity and Inclusion

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National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial issued the following statement on today’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to expand diversity and inclusion by opening a Notice for Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the Designated Entity (DE) program (*note: Designated Entities, or DEs, are small businesses, rural telephone companies, and businesses owned by members of minority groups and women):

“The National Urban League commends the leadership of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn who have been steadfast champions of increased diversity and inclusion in the telecommunications industry.

The recent waiver of the Attributable Material Relationship (AMR) Rule – a rule which could cause a designated entity to lose its DE eligibility if it were to lease, wholesale or resale more than 25% of its spectrum capacity to any one entity – was the first step towards ensuring some level of meaningful participation for small, minority or women-owned businesses (MWBEs) in the AWS-3 Auction slated for November. Today’s release of the NPRM complements this effort and begins a process for gathering input from stakeholders on strategies for including more small businesses, particularly minority-owned business enterprises, in the historic spectrum incentive auction scheduled for next year.

Over the course of fifty-six wireless auctions during the past 20 years, very few small MWBEs have been able to participate effectively in the FCC’s spectrum auctions and win licenses. To deliver on the promise of innovation, competition and universal deployment of broadband and other advanced wireless services that are changing America as we know it, the inclusion of MWBEs as licensees and facilities-based spectrum owners – not just service providers or mobile application developers – must be an integral part of the wireless industry and the policies of the FCC. Changes to the DE rules over the years have been one of many factors that has contributed to their declining participation and sustainability. We look forward to contributing to the NPRM and working with the Commission on ways to improve the DE rules in time for next year’s broadcast incentive auction.”

DC Prepares for National Summit on Non-Violence: Saturday August 23, 2014

Posted by Admin On August - 5 - 2014 Comments Off on DC Prepares for National Summit on Non-Violence: Saturday August 23, 2014
Washington, DC – “Changing the Culture of Violence” is the theme of the 2nd National Summit on Non-Violence, sponsored by Black Women for Positive Change (BW4PC), a national civic network, and the Summit Council on Non-Violence Advisory network. The Summit will be at Metropolitan AME Church, 1518 M. Street, NW, Washington, DC, Saturday, August 23, 2014, 9 am-5 pm. Registration opens at 8:00 am. Adults and youth over 14 years are invited to attend and there is no registration fee. BW4PC is an inter-faith, multi-racial network, that includes women and men.

National experts on violence prevention will make presentations on relevant topics including:

(1) Pathways that Lead to Violence;
(2) Retraining Individuals and Communities Traumatized by Violence; and
(3) How to Change the Culture of Violence.

Beginning at noon, the afternoon session will focus on issues that impact youth, including screening of the youth-violence prevention film, “On 2nd Thought” and sessions on:
(1) Breaking the Cycle of Violence by Regulating Personal Behaviors;
(2) Building Peaceful Communities Among Youth; and
(3) Unleashing the Genius in Youth. The Summit will conclude with a “Positive Change Harmony Jam” live streamed at 4 pm, featuring youth performing positive, optimistic rap, hip hop and song.

Individuals can register free at www.blackwomenforpositivechange.org. Press/media are welcome. A special feature is youth attendees designated as “Non-Violence Youth Ambassadors” will tweet, text and Facebook conference proceedings to a global social network, in real time.

In a joint statement, BW4PC National Co-Chairs Delegate Daun S. Hester and Dr. Stephanie E. Myers, said, “The National Summit on Non-Violence will focus on the problem of violence in our families, communities, and in society-at large. Adults, youth, Faith Leaders, rappers, Educators and Elected Officials will talk together about finding solutions.

No one has all the answers to solve the problem of violence so, we are inviting the community to brainstorm together. We hope other cities will join this effort to find ways to stop the violence by watching the live stream of the workshops at www.blackwomenforpositivechange.org/

The National Summit is part of the National Week of Non-Violence August 16-23, 2014, endorsed by six Governors including. Congressman John Lewis, Georgia; Governor John Hickenlooper, State of Colorado; Governor Pat Quinn, State of Illinois; Governor Martin O’Malley, State of Maryland; Governor Jeremiah W. Nixon, State of Missouri; Governor Bill Haslam, State of Tennessee; Governor Terry McAuliffe, Virginia; State Delegate Daun S. Hester, Norfolk, Virginia; Mayor William Euille, Alexandria, Virginia; Mayor Vincent Gray, District of Columbia; Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Councilwoman Dr. Amelia Ross Hammond, Virginia Beach, VA.  www.blackwomenforpositivechange.org/

Kirk, Local Hispanic Pastors Launch Partnership to Support Immigrant Children in Illinois

Posted by Admin On August - 5 - 2014 Comments Off on Kirk, Local Hispanic Pastors Launch Partnership to Support Immigrant Children in Illinois
Niños de Compasion to Unite Local Pastors with Children Awaiting Immigration and Reunification Process

CHICAGO, IL – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and local Hispanic pastors today introduced Niños de Compasion, a new outreach and support partnership for children who have migrated from Central America to Illinois. Following a briefing with Heartland Alliance, which provides housing, food, and opportunity to those in need throughout the Chicago area, Senator Kirk reached out to the pastors to develop a new partnership to protect these vulnerable children who have come to the Illinois area.

The pastors who participated in the event were Jorge Davila from Fuente de Vida in Villa Park, Paco Amador from Nueva Vida la Villida, Chris Ophus from New Life Community Church in Chicago, Shando Valdez from New Jerusalem Church in Chicago, and Sergio Arlandiz from Little Village in Chicago.

“I have seen firsthand how vulnerable these children are, having escaped homes surrounded by gang activity and violence. These children need our protection and care,” Senator Kirk said. “As they await the immigration process, Niños de Compasion will keep them safe with trusted members of our community, and will work to reunite these children with their families in a secure and efficient manner.”

Senator Kirk’s Niños de Compasion will be a partnership with local pastors to work with Heartland Alliance to protect the hundreds of vulnerable immigrant children in our community. It will work to connect the pastors and community groups with the children and their families, and will provide ESL training for both children and families, gang-resistance mentoring, faith-based counseling, and pastoral services.

Since October, more than 57,000 children from Central America have crossed the border into the United States. Senator Kirk visited the Heartland Alliance facility in July and met with a number of children who have immigrated to the United States from violent homes in Central America. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, As of July 8th, there were currently 429 children in custody and being housed in Illinois.

Governor Quinn Signs P.E. Improvement Bills

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CHICAGO, IL – Governor Pat Quinn signed two important bills that will improve physical education (P.E.) in Illinois schools to help students become fit for life. Professionally trained P.E. and health teachers will be recognized as “highly qualified,” similar to teachers of other subjects, under SB 3274, sponsored by Sen. Linda Holmes and Rep. Stephanie A. Kifowit. HB 5397, sponsored by Rep. Rita Mayfield and Sen. William Delgado, implements physical fitness assessments in all schools to help students set individual fitness goals and help teachers address individual student needs. The bill also creates a system to monitor the aggregate fitness levels of Illinois youth over time.

The Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity (IAPO), a statewide coalition advocating to reduce obesity through policy and environmental changes, praised Governor Quinn for supporting student health and fitness through these two measures.

“Fit kids learn better,” said Judy Tiggelaar of the Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, one of the IAPO organizations that lead the efforts to pass these bills. “We know that quality physical education is linked to improved academic performance, classroom behavior, and health, and we’ve worked a long time to ensure our students have qualified P.E. teachers and understand the benefits of leading a fit and healthy lifestyle.”

The two bills reinforce Illinois as a leader in enhancing P.E.. The legislation builds on new P.E. and health learning standards adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education earlier this year. The new standards focus on personal fitness and wellness, and the connection between learning and fitness.

“These new laws are crucial to helping our children make healthy choices and improve their lifestyles from a young age,” said Heather Eagleton, Illinois Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “Each year, more than 585,000 Americans die from cancer, and one-third of these deaths are linked to poor diet, lack of physical activity and an unhealthy weight. Thanks to the efforts of the General Assembly, Illinois is making great strides in cancer prevention and health education.”

“The enactment of these two bills represents a meaningful step forward in strengthening physical education in Illinois schools. P.E. is perhaps our most powerful weapon in the fight against the obesity epidemic plaguing our kids. We can use every bit of help we can get for what really is a life or death struggle for an entire generation,” said Lynne T. Braun, PhD, CNP, chair of the Illinois Advocacy Committee for the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. “With more and more kids being diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions previously seen mostly in older adults, the adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure has never been more pertinent than it is today. We are grateful to the state policymakers who voted for this legislation and to the Governor for acting on this imperative.”

With advocates across the state, the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity is gearing up to support schools to implement these new laws and realize the multiple benefits of enhancing P.E.: improved health, improved learning, and improved behavior for Illinois children.

About Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity

The primary goal of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity is to ensure that trends in obesity in Illinois are stable by 2015 and moving downward by 2018. The statewide coalition of over 140 organizations works to implement solutions to the obesity epidemic through coordinated and comprehensive policy, systems, and environmental changes. It is administered by the Illinois Public Health Institute. www.preventobesityil.org

State Senator Collins: New Task Force Will Keep Spotlight on Deficiencies in Care for Seniors

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Group to study racial disparities, language barriers, urban/rural divide and more

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) is optimistic that a new task force convened to consider racial and cultural disparities in care for older adults will improve options for an aging population that is increasingly diverse. She also anticipates that the group will keep the spotlight on long-term care after well-publicized cases of abuse and neglect inspired a major overhaul of state nursing home regulations in 2010.

“One of the primary motivations for the nursing home reforms I helped pass was a study showing a wide gap in quality of care between nursing homes whose residents were mostly white and those whose population was disproportionately made up of racial and ethnic minorities,” said Collins, who sponsored legislation creating the new working group. “We need to investigate whether the situation has improved, whether there are similar disparities in other kinds of support services for seniors and what we can do now to safeguard the dignity of all older Illinoisans, regardless of race, language, neighborhood or income.”

The Long-Term Services and Supports Disparities Task Force, whose authorizing legislation was signed into law last Friday, will bring together consumers, advocates and representatives of nursing homes and service providers to compile findings and recommended state actions to reduce unequal care. The task force has been directed to look at residential nursing homes but also assisted living facilities, adult day cares, home health services and other kinds of supports for seniors. The group’s first annual report is due July 1, 2015.

“We owe our elders the respect that comes with skilled nursing care, culturally competent assistance and the assurance that whether they are black, white or brown, living in the urban core or a rural area, they will receive high-quality, compassionate care,” Collins said. “This task force is not designed to be a temporary bandage, issuing one report and then dissolving; it will continue to meet and to exert pressure on behalf of individuals whose voices are too rarely heard.”

State’s Attorney Alvarez Announces Top Management Appointment

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Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has appointed a new Chief of Staff in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Garvin G. Ambrose, 36, a former Victim Advocate and Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney, takes over the position of Chief of Staff immediately.  In his new role, Ambrose will manage training, technology and grant initiatives, community outreach, and coordination of the State’s Attorney’s legislative agenda in Springfield.  He will also manage intergovernmental affairs and serve as a liaison to the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

“I am pleased to welcome Garvin Ambrose to this important position on my senior management team,” said Alvarez.  “Garvin has a tremendous ability to foster collaborative relationships and he has a keen understanding of the day-to-day operations of this office.  His work as a legal victim advocate also brings a special set of skills that are crucial to the duties that our Assistant State’s Attorneys perform on a daily basis.”

Ambrose most recently served in the cabinet of Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy where he worked as the State Victim Advocate for the entire state of Connecticut.  In that position he was instrumental in the creation of the Governor’s Victims’ Rights Enforcement Advisory Commission and for increasing awareness to crime victims’ rights through legislation, collaboration, public outreach and education.  He was the first African American to hold this key position.

Prior to his work in Connecticut, Ambrose served as a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney, working as the Supervisor of Legislative Unit, where he managed the legislative agenda for the State’s Attorney’s Office.  In that role he assisted in the passage of more than 30 new public safety laws,  including measures to aid in the protection of victims, domestic violence, gun crimes, human trafficking and financial crimes.

Ambrose began his legal career with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in 2005 and handled cases in the Child Support and Juvenile Justice Bureaus before joining the Legislative Unit in 2009.

Ambrose is a graduate of Southeast Missouri State University (B.S., 2001) and Thomas M. Cooley Law School (J.D., 2005).  He and his wife reside in Chicago.

Attorney General Madigan Announces $1.5 Million for Pullman Affordable Housing Initiative

Posted by Admin On August - 5 - 2014 Comments Off on Attorney General Madigan Announces $1.5 Million for Pullman Affordable Housing Initiative
National Foreclosure Settlement Funding To Advance Neighborhood Rebuilding, Preservation Effort

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced she has awarded $1.5 million to support an affordable historic home revitalization project underway in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood being led by the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives (CNI).

The funding provided by Madigan stems from her lead role in obtaining a historic $25 billion national settlement with the country’s five largest bank mortgage servicers – Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Bank, formerly GMAC. The 2012 settlement addressed allegations of widespread robo-signing of documents and other fraudulent practices by banks during foreclosure proceedings.

The CNI renovation and affordable housing program is part of the Attorney General’s dedication of $70 million in settlement funding to support relief efforts for Illinois communities fraught with vacant and abandoned properties in the wake of the foreclosure crisis.

“Whole neighborhoods in Chicago were devastated by the foreclosure crisis,” Madigan said. “The funding from the national mortgage settlement will help restore these communities block by block and serve as a down payment on a more stable financial future for families in Pullman.”

The funding for CNI will enable it to acquire and rehabilitate 20 single-family homes for resale or rent. It will also allow for the acquisition of 15 buildings that will be developed into approximately 40 new rental units. To date, CNI has invested over $5 million in the Pullman neighborhood to renovate 38 historic homes.

As the result of Madigan’s role in the national foreclosure settlement, Illinois residents have received over $2.4 billion in direct relief, through principal reductions on home loans and refinancing for underwater loans, and an additional $43 million in direct payments to foreclosed borrowers.

In addition to securing direct relief for Illinois residents, Attorney General Madigan also dedicated nearly $70 million in settlement funding for community reinvestment, which has provided support for 54 proposals that focused on areas of need in Illinois and on housing initiatives that have been nationally recognized by the institutions as diverse as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Brookings Institution. Funding was awarded to groups of organizations working collaboratively to ensure efforts are not duplicated and are more effective – allowing public and private partners to reach a larger number of homeowners and renters in neighborhoods across the state. Some resources were also dedicated to housing policy and data experts that will ensure the long-term viability of the projects. Attorney General Madigan also awarded $20 million to legal aid organizations and $5 million to pilot mortgage foreclosure mediation programs in Illinois as a result of the national foreclosure settlement.

Combating the Housing Crisis on Many Fronts

Throughout the foreclosure crisis, Attorney General Madigan has taken aggressive action to hold the country’s biggest mortgage lenders accountable for unlawful misconduct. Last year, Madigan became the only state Attorney General to bring and resolve a fair lending lawsuit against a national bank when she and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a $175 million settlement with Wells Fargo over discriminatory lending practices. In 2011, Madigan and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a $335 million settlement to resolve allegations that Countrywide – now owned by Bank of America – employed similar discriminatory lending practices against minority borrowers. That settlement represented the largest fair lending settlement in the nation’s history.

Madigan led an earlier lawsuit against Countrywide that brought about a national $8.7 billion settlement in 2008 regarding the company’s predatory lending practices, and she reached a $39.5 million settlement with Wells Fargo over the bank’s deceptive marketing of extremely risky loans called Pay Option ARMs. Madigan has also filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against Standard & Poor’s, alleging the ratings agency compromised its independence by assigning high ratings to unworthy, risky investments as a corporate strategy to increase its revenue and market share.

The Attorney General has also secured over $184 million in settlement negotiations with JPMorgan Chase & Company and Citigroup to fully recover losses for Illinois’ pension systems incurred as a result of the banks’ fraudulent marketing and sale of risky residential mortgage-backed securities in the lead up to the economic crisis.

For more information on the national foreclosure settlement that led to today’s announcement, visit www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/bankforeclosuresettlement.html. Borrowers also can visit www.NationalForeclosureSettlement.com.

Michigan Government Accused of Gender Discrimination

Posted by Admin On August - 5 - 2014 Comments Off on Michigan Government Accused of Gender Discrimination

Michigan government agencies may discriminate on the basis of sex, i.e. “No woman should be making that kind of money”

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals legitimized sex discrimination against Michigan female contractors in the unpublished opinion of BBF Engineering Services, P.C. v. State of Michigan, et al.

Bellandra Foster

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — On July 16, 2014, Justice Bernice B. Donald for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals penned, “Title VI only applies to discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin…” dismissing all of the claims against Defendants – State of Michigan, Michigan Department of Transportation, Victor Judnic, Mark Steucher, Governor Rick Snyder and Kirk Steudle, Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation relating to gender based discrimination against Dr. Bellandra Foster and BBF Engineering Services, P.C. (BBF Engineering). The Court concluded that Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, does not prohibit discrimination based upon gender or sex even in cases involving the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Despite all of the false advertising attendant to Title VI, it just does not protect women from “gender” or “sex” discrimination. Women beware; you are not protected by Title VI.

As galling as this opinion is, more galling are the facts underlying it. BBF Engineering is a female and minority owned civil and construction engineering firm. Bellandra Foster, the proprietor, a black female professional engineer (P.E.) with a PhD in civil engineering was the president and principal engineer of BBF Engineering. BBF Engineering was once a premier Michigan minority contractor for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), and an example of exemplary contractor performance, winning both the United States Department of Transportations Minority Business Enterprise of the Year and MDOTs DBE Contractor of the Year.

However, starting in 2005, after the arrival of Victor Judnic, as Senior Resident Engineer at MDOT, BBF Engineering was pushed aside. Judnic scrutinized BBF Engineering, by asserting that “no woman should be making that kind of money.” Thereafter, Judnic and his staff, along with other MDOT managers started a movement to wrest contracts from BBF Engineering. BBF Engineering commenced suit against MDOT and its employees in November of 2011 for sex and race discrimination. Judnic and other MDOT employees discriminatory actions against BBF Engineering did not go unnoticed. The FHWAs Civil Rights Program Manager for the Michigan Division conducted a comprehensive investigation of BBF Engineerings complaints in conjunction with MDOTs own EEO Officer and Title VI Program Specialist, and issued a report outlining MDOTs abuses against BBF Engineering. The report concluded that MDOT discriminated against Ms. Foster and BBF Engineering because of sex and gender. The report stated that “the preponderance of evidence shows that Mr. Judnic appears to have taken actions based on Ms. Fosters sex (gender) (female).”

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals (Case Number 13-2209) took a one-sided view of all of the evidence and concluded BBF Engineering had not articulated a plausible claim for sex discrimination or disparate treatment −− the independent investigators report notwithstanding. Further, the Court asserted that BBF Engineering had no legal claims under the law. The Courts are not going to read protective statutes broadly. In this case, the Court refused to consider the fact that the MDOT projects at issue were funded with FHWA monies and therefore MDOT actions should have been reviewed under 23 U.S.C. § 324, which reads:

No person shall on the ground of sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal assistance under this title or carried on under this title. This provision will be enforced through agency provisions and rules similar to those already established, with respect to racial and other discrimination, under title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, this remedy is not exclusive and will not prejudice from or cut off any other legal remedies available to a discriminatee.1

Despite the venom attendant to the decision and the disappointment and losses suffered by Ms. Foster and her company, she believes that women should be put on notice of this fatal flaw and announced protections trumpeted in the governmental agencies that promote Title VI. Supporting documents, briefs and exhibits for are available for review at www.bellandrafoster.com. For media inquiries, contact Bellandra Foster at (248) 867-0598 or email: info@bellandrafoster.com.

1 Congressional intent to prohibit sex and gender discrimination is evident under various Federal statutes. For example, see 40 U.S.C.§ 122, 42 U.S.C. § 3123, and 42 U.S.C. § 5891, among other provisions.

Photo Caption: Dr. Bellandra Foster, professional engineer and founder of BBF Engineering Services based in Detroit, Michigan

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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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