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Archive for August 6th, 2014

First Defense Legal Aid Explains How to Stop the Flow of Chicago’s Poor and Mentally Ill Into Cook County Jail

Posted by Admin On August - 6 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

While everyone has the right to counsel as soon as they are not free to leave a police interaction, the Cook County Public Defender cannot represent anyone in the crucial first 48 hours, according to First Defense Legal Aid.

By sending in volunteer attorneys, First Defense can prevent false confessions and police overreach. The organization has been available since 1995, but people in Chicago police custody face grave barriers to accessing their free service and alternatives to detention- especially the mentally ill.

First Defense Legal Aid (FDLA) is a non-profit organization that provides free, 24-hour, legal representation to people in Chicago Police Department custody when someone calls 1(800) 529-7374 to alert to an arrest.

FDLA Executive Director traveled to London to see how they are able to divert the mentally ill to treatment instead of jail by engaging a free advocate right away at the police station, for every mentally ill arrestee. In order to implement the model here, two key departments of the City of Chicago would have to participate along with First Defense: the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Department of Public Health.

First Defense Legal Aid breaks down the simple solution HERE.

For more information, contact: Eliza Solowiej, Executive Director, First Defense Legal Aid at  (773) 354-8581 or Eliza@First-Defense.org

The Doing Business in Africa Campaign: Fact Sheet

Posted by Admin On August - 6 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Through the Doing Business in Africa (DBIA) Campaign, the U.S. government is strengthening its commercial relationship with the continent of Africa, a diverse region that offers substantial trade and investment opportunities across national and regional markets.  With a 5.4 percent growth rate predicted for 2014, Africa is outpacing global growth.  U.S. goods and services exports to Africa reached a record high of $50.2 billion in 2013, up 40 percent since 2009.  These exports supported 250,000 U.S. jobs.

New Commitments to Significantly Expand the DBIA Campaign

At today’s U.S.-Africa Business Forum, President Obama announced $7 billion in new financing to promote U.S. exports to and investments in Africa under the DBIA Campaign.  U.S. companies announced new deals in clean energy, aviation, banking, and construction worth more than $14 billion, in addition to $12 billion in new commitments under the President’s Power Africa initiative from private sector partners, the World Bank, and the government of Sweden.  Taken together, these new commitments amount to more than $33 billion, supporting economic growth across Africa and tens of thousands of U.S. jobs.

The DBIA Campaign encourages U.S. commercial engagement in Africa by harnessing the resources of the U.S. government to assist businesses in identifying and seizing opportunities and to engage with members of the African Diaspora in the United States.  The DBIA Campaign, which was launched in November 2012, has four main objectives:

  • Connect American Businesses with African Partners
  • Support Existing and New American Investment in Africa
  • Expand Access for American Businesses to Finance Their Exports to Africa
  • Reduce Barriers to Trade and Investment in Africa

The U.S. government’s newly announced two-year commitments to support the DBIA Campaign are provided below.

An Executive Order to Create a President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa

Today the President signed an Executive Order (E.O.) to promote broad-based economic growth in the United States and in Africa by encouraging U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa.

The E.O. directs the Secretary of Commerce to establish a President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa that will be comprised of not more than 15 members from the private sector, including small business.  The Advisory Council will provide information, analysis, and recommendations to the President, through the Secretary of Commerce, including on developing strategies for creating jobs in the United States and Africa through trade and investment; developing strategies by which the U.S. private sector can identify and take advantage of trade and investment opportunities in Africa; and building lasting commercial partnerships between the U.S. and African private sectors.

New U.S. Government Resources to Support U.S. Exports and Investment in Africa

Interagency Initiatives

  • The Principals of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will mobilize private capital for Africa’s infrastructure through a series of at least three outcome-oriented roundtables in Africa that will advance project- and sector-specific investment opportunities and needed regulatory reforms.  These agencies will implement the initiative in coordination with DBIA Campaign agencies, African governments, and the U.S. and African private sectors.
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce and USTDA launched the 20×20 Initiative to support a total of 20 trade and reverse trade missions by 2020, to promote U.S. industry engagement in Africa.  Working with federal, state, and local government partners, these missions will foster U.S. business partnerships with key African stakeholders.
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Ex-Im Bank will collectively support 50 DBIA Campaign-themed activities and outreach sessions over the next two years to facilitate U.S. trade finance, provide counseling and training on their programs, and conduct business development to support U.S. exporters, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises.

U.S. Export-Import Bank

  • Ex-Im Bank will commit up to $3 billion in financing to support U.S. exports to Africa over the next two years.  This is in addition to Ex-Im Bank’s existing commitments of $5 billion for Power Africa and a planned commitment of $1 billion to support U.S. exports in connection with new and ongoing Angolan infrastructure projects (through the Angolan Ministry of Finance).
  • Ex-Im Bank will commit $563 million in financing to support the sale of General Electric locomotives to Transnet, South Africa’s largest integrated freight transport company. Major components of the locomotives will be manufactured at GE’s facilities in Erie, PA and Grove City, PA supporting an estimated 2,500 American jobs.

Millennium Challenge Corporation

  • MCC will commit up to $2 billion in funding for new compacts in Africa that facilitate private sector-led economic growth and poverty reduction, creating potential opportunities for U.S. companies.  This commitment includes $498 million over the next five years to support the turnaround of Ghana’s electricity sector and stimulate private investment.  This Compact represents an example of the catalytic impact of Power Africa interventions which will help create the enabling environment to catalyze billions of dollars of private investment in Ghana.
  • MCC will also lead its first ever investment mission to Africa to introduce U.S. businesses to the opportunities for investing in and around its Compacts.  In addition, MCC will hold at least eight Procurement Promotion sessions with U.S. companies to promote Compact contracting opportunities and developing five Trade and Investment Prospectuses, one for each new Compact in Africa, that outline the specific business opportunities that are expected to arise from MCC’s investments.

Overseas Private Investment Corporation

  • OPIC will commit up to $1 billion in financing and insurance support to catalyze private sector investments in Africa.  This is in addition to OPIC’s existing $1.5 billion Power Africa commitment.  OPIC reaffirmed its plan to place personnel on the ground in sub-Saharan Africa to help facilitate increased U.S. trade and investment and will support an investment mission to the region, with a focus on the power sector.
  • OPIC will coordinate approximately a dozen U.S. government meetings on August 6, 2014, for U.S. and African private sector investors and project developers to discuss discrete transactions for financing support consideration to OPIC, as well as other DBIA investment agencies.

U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA)

  • USTDA, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Transportation, hosted two African Leaders Visits in association with the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. These reverse trade missions highlighted the United States’ experience fostering economic growth through strategic infrastructure investments in the energy and transportation sectors.
  • USTDA announced it will partner with the Air Traffic and Navigation Services Company of South Africa to evaluate satellite-based automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast across the African continent, the implementation of which will improve air traffic safety and create over $100 million in U.S. export opportunities.
  • USTDA reaffirmed its plan to have local representation in Nigeria for the first time.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

  • USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation will make available up to $1 billion in financing guarantees available for agricultural exports to Africa over the next two years.  USDA also will conduct outreach seminars to Africa in 2015 to promote the use of its credit guarantee program for the export of U.S. agricultural products.

U.S. Department of State

  • The U.S. Department of State intends to commit $10 million toward the expansion of the U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative (US-ACEF), which aligns USTDA’s project planning expertise and OPIC’s financing and risk mitigation tools in new ways, to support private sector investment and increase support for U.S. businesses and exports in sub-Saharan Africa’s clean energy sector.
  • The U.S. Department of State will sponsor a medical technology trade mission to sub-Saharan Africa led by a senior State Department official.

U.S. Department of Commerce

  • The U.S. Department of Commerce reiterated its commitment to double its presence in sub-Saharan Africa by opening new offices in Angola, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Mozambique, while expanding its operations in Ghana, and re-establishing a position at the African Development Bank.
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce will host its next Trade Winds Conference and Mission in Africa in 2015.  The Trade Winds program brings hundreds of U.S. companies to a region to hear about opportunities, meet one-on-one with Africa businesses, and get counseling from U.S. Commercial Service officers.  Past Trade Winds have been held in Asia and Latin America and resulted in over $100 million in deals at each event.
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce launched a One-Stop-Shop website (www.trade.gov/DBIA) to offer American businesses and entrepreneurs a convenient instant access to critical African market information, financing tools available to them, projects to consider, key contacts, and much more.
  • To celebrate the second anniversary of the DBIA Campaign, the U.S. Department of Commerce will host a “Discover Sub-Saharan Africa” conference in Atlanta on November 4-6, 2014.  Its Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) will join the Constituency for Africa in hosting a “Doing Business in Africa” workshop in October to promote business and trade opportunities in Africa and resources for reaching the African marketplace.  MBDA also committed to host a U.S.-Africa Investors Forum on August 6, 2014, in association with the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.
  • Through its Global City Teams Program, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in partnership with the U.S. private sector, will target at least 25 African metropolitan areas to join their counterparts worldwide in an interactive platform to accelerate smart city and smart grid goals.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

  • USAID will commit to a bond guarantee through its Development Credit Authority that will allow Dakar, Senegal, to issue the first ever non-sovereign backed municipal bond in sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa (with technical assistance support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).  The guarantee will enable the city to raise $41.8 million on the regional stock exchange.  In addition, USAID guaranteed transactions are expected to mobilize $381 million in new private sector lending to small and medium enterprises across the continent.
  • USAID will launch the Africa Private Capital Group – a platform in South Africa to mobilize U.S., South African, and international private sector investment in key sectors to development, including agriculture, energy, trade, infrastructure, and health.
  • USAID will upgrade its existing African Trade Hubs into “U.S.-African Trade and Investment Hubs” that will now create new opportunities for U.S. investment in and exports to Africa.  These hubs are located in Accra, Ghana, Nairobi, Kenya, and Gabarone, Botswana, and cover the West Africa, East Africa, and Southern Africa regions, respectively.
  • USAID will roll out its Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture (BBA) project this fall, to assesses the ease of doing business and investing in Africa’s agriculture. The BBA provides businesses worldwide with objective information on a country’s ease of doing business in agriculture.

U.S. Department of Transportation

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that Secretary Anthony Foxx will lead a transportation mission to Africa in early 2015, to discuss opportunities for improving regional connectivity, promoting safety and efficiency, and sharing best practices on increasing investment in transportation infrastructure.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation launched its Tomorrow’s Transportation Leaders initiative, which will include up to five workshops over the next two years to engage 100 young African transportation professionals on adopting U.S. best practices.  The workshops will address transportation policies and regulatory framework, transportation investment planning, and the efficient management of transportation systems.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation intends to direct $1 million toward strengthening civil aviation safety through the Safe Skies for Africa program.

U.S. Department of Energy

  • The U.S. Department of Energy will support the “Clean Energy Solutions Center,” a multilateral initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial to connect policymakers in Africa with clean energy experts and best practice resources.  The Clean Energy Solutions Center is a web-based resource that draws on knowledge from global experts to help governments design and adopt policies and programs that support the deployment of clean energy technologies.  Through the partnership, the Solutions Center will provide expert policy consultations free of charge to Power Africa countries in response to requests received.

Office of the United States Trade Representative

  • On August 5, USTR signed at its headquarters a new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to provide a coordinated mechanism for engaging on trade and investment issues with the 15 West African countries that are part of ECOWAS.

Stop the Republican Attack on Voting Rights: Sign the Petition

Posted by Admin On August - 6 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

The petition to Congress reads:
“The Supreme Court’s Shelby County vs. Holder decision completely gutted the Voting Rights Act and left millions of Americans’ voting rights in jeopardy. Protect voting rights by immediately passing the Voting Rights Amendment Act.”

Add your name:

Sign the petition â–º
Fix the Voting Rights Act now!

Nearly 50 years ago, with Martin Luther King Jr. standing beside him, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law to protect African-Americans and other minorities from racist policies that made it harder for them to register to vote and participate in the political process.

But last summer, the right-wing ideologues on the United States Supreme Court handed down a shameful decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act, ending 40 years of protection for minorities against discriminatory and unfair attempts to limit voting based on one’s race.1

Fortunately, Representatives John Conyers, John Lewis and others have now introduced legislation that would restore and modernize the Voting Rights Act for the 21st century.2 We need to stop Republicans in states around the country from enacting racist voter ID and voter suppression laws. Passing the Voting Rights Amendment Act now is the best way to do it.

Tell Congress: Stop the Republican attacks on voting rights. Click here to sign the petition.

While the Supreme Court did not invalidate Section 5, a key part of the Voting Rights Act, it threw out the basic formula that has been used practically since the bill’s passage in 1965 to determine where the Justice Department must provide approval before local election rules that would suppress the votes of African-American and Latino citizens can be put into effect. Voter suppression rules can still be challenged by the Department of Justice after the fact, but this often happens too late to prevent minority voters from being blocked from the polls. The court’s decision effectively guts the Voting Rights Act, rendering it useless until Congress updates the coverage formula for Section 5.

Republicans didn’t waste any time in taking advantage of this ruling for electoral gain. Within hours of Supreme Court’s decision, several states in the South immediately announced that they would pursue onerous new voter ID laws that were clearly designed to make it harder for African-Americans and Latinos to vote.3

It’s the same old story of using the irrational fear of voter “fraud” as cover while they work to disenfranchise eligible voters. The truth is, voter fraud is exceedingly rare. More Americans are struck by lightning than commit voter fraud. The real problem, the one that can affect the outcome of our elections if we’re not vigilant, is voter suppression.

Sign the petition: Tell Congress to fight voter suppression and pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act now. Click here to sign the petition.

For decades the Voting Rights Act protected voters in pockets of the country with a history of racially discriminatory voting practices. In 2012, it allowed the Justice Department to block attempts by Texas, South Carolina and Florida to implement discriminatory voting rules. But until Congress restores the Voting Rights Act, right-wing efforts to make it harder for African Americans and Latino citizens to vote will run completely amok.

The Voting Rights Amendment Act would fix Section 5, our strongest tool for fighting voter suppression efforts, by updating the formula for determining which states and municipalities need pre-approval from the Department of Justice to change their voting laws. We need to show Congress massive public support for this crucial bill. Let’s put the extreme right-wing Republicans in Congress on the hook for not going on the record against efforts in the states to make it harder for African-Americans and Latinos to vote.

Tell Congress: Restore the Voting Rights Act now. Click the link below to sign the petition:

Thanks for fighting to stop Republicans from stealing future elections.

Josh Nelson, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

Sign the petition â–º

1. “‘Shelby County’: One Year Later,” Brennan Center for Justice, June 24, 2014
2. “H.R. 3899: The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014,” Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner
3. “Voting Rights in the Post-Shelby county Era,” American Constitution Society, June 20, 2014

Illinois Leads the Midwest in the USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge

Posted by Admin On August - 6 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Applications available for more schools to earn certification
for creating healthier school environments

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois leads the Midwest region in the number of schools that have earned federal certification for programs and practices that promote healthy habits, primarily physical exercise and nutrition. From urban to rural parts of Illinois, 231 schools have earned certification through what’s called the “HealthierUS School Challenge,” and more schools have the opportunity to apply for certification through August.

“These types of school programs are critical given today’s busy family lives and an abundance of cheap and convenient fast food with low nutritional value,” said State Superintendent Christopher A. Koch. “We know that students with good dietary habits are feeding their bodies as well as their brains to perform at their best.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently extended the application  deadline for the HealthierUS School Challenge under the current criteria until Aug. 30. Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program can apply for the voluntary national certification program. The USDA is working on updating criteria for the HeathierUS Challenge to reflect new nutrition standards, including Smart Snacks in School.

With 231 schools that have met the challenge, Illinois ranks No. 1 in the Midwest Region for the number of certified schools. Michigan is second with 138, followed by Minnesota (91) and Ohio (91), Indiana (72), and Wisconsin (19). Nationwide, 6,724 schools have become HealthierUS School Challenge certified. The 231 HealthierUS Schools in Illinois represent districts from across the state, including Belvidere Community Unit School District 100, Chicago Public Schools 299, Community Unit School District 300, and Egyptian Community Unit District 5 and Elmhurst CUSD 205.

“Illinois is leading our region in the HealthierUS Challenge, which recognizes that schools should promote physical health and wellness,” Governor Quinn said. “I applaud the Illinois schools that have gone above and beyond in providing our children with healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”

There are four levels of HealthierUS School Challenge certifications that schools can earn: Gold Award of Distinction, Gold, Silver and Bronze. In Illinois, 51 schools have earned the Gold level, 62 have received Silver status, and 93 have been named Bronze recipients. Ten schools in Illinois have earned the highest HealthierUS School Challenge certification of Gold Award of Distinction.

HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award of Distinction Winners
Academy for Global Citizenship School CPS 299
Golfview Elementary School CUSD 300
Fairview South School Fairview School District 72
Freedom Middle School South Berwyn District 100

Heritage Middle School

South Berwyn District 100
Hiawatha Elementary School South Berwyn District 100

Komensky Elementary School

South Berwyn District 100
Pershing Elementary School South Berwyn District 100

Piper Elementary School

South Berwyn District 100

Payson Seymour Elementary School

Payson Community Unit District 1

Schools awarded receive a monetary incentive (Bronze, $500; Silver, $1,000, Gold, $1,500; Gold Award of Distinction, $2,000), an award plaque and a banner to display in the school.

To qualify for an award, a school must submit an application and meet basic criteria set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. The criteria reflect the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the Institute of Medicine published recommendations for foods that should be served outside the organized school meals program. HealthierUS Schools also must demonstrate commitment to a healthy school environment and implement a local school wellness policy. Schools then commit to meeting the criteria throughout a four-year certification period.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) administers the program and more information, including an application, can be found on the ISBE website at http://www.isbe.net/nutrition/htmls/sos.htm#hussc or the USDA Food and Nutrition Service at http://www.fns.usda.gov/hussc/healthierus-school-challenge.

Piccolo Theatre Opens Its 2014/2015 Season With SMASH

Posted by Admin On August - 6 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

EVANSTON, IL – Piccolo Theatre Ensemble’s 2014/2015 Season opens this August with SMASH, by Jeffrey Hatcher, based on the novel An Unsocial Socialist by George Bernard Shaw.  Though the subject matter of politics, women, and love can be serious and over-done, SMASH promises to enliven its audiences with laughter, and make them feel as brilliant as the characters in the script.

A millionaire socialist vanishes from his bride, fearing his passion for her will prevent his plan to overthrow the British government.  Disguised as a laborer, he infiltrates the all girls’ school Alton College, planting the seeds of socialism in the minds of future consorts of cabinet ministers and kings.   Yet it is he who receives a progressive education from a sixth-form student with an agenda of her own.  Equal parts political comedy and comedy of manners complete with love triangles, mistaken identities, pistols and position – this stylish and cunning hybrid sparkles with wit and wiles, making even the reddest socialist blush with laughter.

SMASH is written by Jeffrey Hatcher, directed by Michael D. Graham, and Assistant Directed by Tabbi Koller**. Cast includes Barbara Anderson, Joe Beal, Bill Chamberlain, Megan DeLay, Tracey Green, Shawn Hansen, Nicole Keating**, David W.M. Kelch**, and Danielle Nicholas.  Creative Team includes Elizabeth Cronin (Stage Manager, Albert Trefts (Backstage Floor Manager), Joshua D. Allard** (Costumes), Sarah Lewis (Scenic), Lee Moore** (Properties), Aaron Quick** (Sound), Aimee Warshall** (Lighting), Stephanie Neilitz** and Anya Drozd (Costume Assistants).

**Piccolo Theatre Ensemble Member

SMASH previews August 29 – 31, Friday & Saturday at 8PM, and Sunday at 3PM. Opening is Friday, September 5 at 8PM with a free reception to follow. Performances run September 5 – October 11; all performances are Friday and Saturday at 8PM, and Sunday at 3PM.

Ticket prices include $15 (previews only), $70 (family of 4), $27 (adults), $23(seniors), $15 (students and industry), $11 (Children 10 and younger). Group discounts are available for all performances. For tickets and more information, call the Box Office at (847) 424-0089 Monday-Friday from 10AM-5PM, or visit www.piccolotheatre.com.

County Workshop to Focus on Business Opportunities for Veterans

Posted by Admin On August - 6 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
Event open to all military vets and their dependents

Cook County Department of Veterans Affairs will host a resource workshop for veterans interested in information about owning a business and entrepreneurship opportunities.

The workshop will take place Monday August 11 in the 4th floor conference room of the County Building, 118 N. Clark St., Chicago, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The workshop is open to military veterans and their dependents, whether or not they work for Cook County.

The workshop, called V 2 B  (Veterans 2 Business), has been developed in collaboration with the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  Presentations will be made by representatives of Cook County, the SBA, WBDC, Accion Chicago, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and JP Morgan Chase.

The sessions will offer information to those attending to educate them on alternative financing sources for businesses, access to capital, and determining which certifications are appropriate and most beneficial for veteran-owned businesses. It also offers vets the opportunity to network with procurement, government contracting and financial professionals.

The Cook County Department of Veterans Affairs was created by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the County Board in December 2012 with a mission of expanding opportunities and developing programs for veterans in Cook County. Preckwinkle appointed Bill Browne, a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran, to head the Department.

“We are committed to supporting our employee-veterans, and vets throughout the County, with needed programs and services,” said President Preckwinkle. “This workshop is a good example of how the Department of Veterans Affairs is opening doors for vets to pursue opportunities for future success.”

The V 2 B workshop is part of the outreach function of the Department. While much of its focus is on the County’s employee-veterans, the Department also collaborates with external veterans organizations on programs and services of importance to those who have served in the military.

Further information on the workshop is available by calling (312) 603-6423 or emailing veterans.affairs@cookcountyil.gov.

Illinois Comptroller Topinka Launches New Mobile APP

Posted by Admin On August - 6 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
Il Pays available for FREE now at Apple and Google Play stores

CHICAGO – Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka launched a new mobile application this morning on social media that will put taxpayer and vendor payment information right at their fingertips.

Topinka explained Illinois Pays during a video release announcement today.

“Illinois Pays gives you quick and easy access to the latest news and announcements from the Comptroller’s Office,” said Topinka.  “It also allows vendors to set up the app to view the most recent payments we have deposited in their bank accounts.”

This new FREE mobile application is available now at the Apple and Google Play stores.

IL Pays is part of Topinka’s ongoing effort to make state government more transparent and accessible to taxpayers. In launching the Ledger, she enabled residents to click their way through everything from the state’s daily bill backlog numbers to state agency budgets and employee salaries. She then launched the Warehouse, a comprehensive database that puts Local Government financial information and tens of thousands of records at a single location for taxpayer review. Earlier this year, Topinka’s office included an insert in tax refund envelopes providing residents with state spending and bill backlog information in addition to making tax refund information easily accessible at the Comptroller’s MyRefund website.

“It is important that we do everything possible to ensure that state and local government finances are transparent and easy to find,” added Topinka.  “And as I’ve said before, we’re not finished yet. So stay tuned.”

State Senator Collins to CPS: ‘Restore Electrical Program or Don’t Come Back to Springfield’

Posted by Admin On August - 6 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

By Chinta Strausberg

Angered that the Simeon Career Academy has cut CPS’ only electrician’s training program, Illinois Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) late Tuesday night said if school officials don’t restore that program they need not come to Springfield seeking much needed funds.

Collins, who along Rep. Mary Flowers (D-31st), who graduated from Simeon, and Senator Donne Trotter (D-17th), who is working to get trade courses back into the schools, recently met with CPS/CEO Dr. Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Simeon’s principal, Dr. Sheldon House.

“We indicated we were not very happy and disappointed with the decision to pull that program,” Senator Collins told this reporter during the Chicago Police Department/Saint Sabina National Night Out celebration held at the Sixth District Police Station.

Having read House’s letter he sent to parents explaining why he eliminated the electrical program, Senator Collins said, “We refuted every allegation that he made….” When House cited “low interests” as being one of his reasons for ending the program, Collins asked, “Where was the outreach for this program.”

Referring to Friedrich von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center, 5039 North Kimball, which is a four-year magnet high school located in the North Park community, Collins said, “We know that at von Steuben Local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (I.B.E.W. ) Local134 is begging and recruiting students to come in and do summer work indicating they can probably enroll into the apprentice program. We know there is a great need for electricians,” she said.

Another argument Dr. House made was that there had to be at least 85 percent enrollment to justify retention of that program, but Senator Collins shot back, “based on their own guide book the percentage is between 60 percent and 72 percent. “

Referring to the program’s instructor, Latisa Kendred, who was on WVON’s Bob Shaw show last Sunday, Collins said last year Kendred had “73 and before that 63. They exceeded what ever the standard was.”

When Dr. House claimed there was no certification of the students, Collins said she confirmed, “Certification is not one of the requirements. Because Kendred is such an excellent teacher, she had her students go through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification, which is part of the program.

And, when House raised the issue about the success of the program, Senator Collins said, “We know that other students (who had taken the course) and who were successful came back. They have copies of their testimonials where they have been successful… All the arguments they are raising are false…based on another agenda they want to put forth.

“We know that if our young people have access to jobs they become very effective and productive citizens,” Collins said. Saying not all students will go to college, the senator asked, “Why can’t they go to a school in their community which is a vocational school. When you pull out the trades, it handicaps our youth. You can’t deal with anti-violence without providing resources to our kids. Most of these trade programs in the schools are critical whether it’s culinary, automotive or electricians.”

Referring to her meeting with Dr. Byrd-Bennett, Collins said, “It was unacceptable to us if they terminate the program. This is an Illinois Black Caucus issue so they will not be able to divide us. If they don’t see the need to provide the resources for our students, we don’t expect to see them in Springfield asking for anything from the General Assembly.”

Kindred has taught the electrical training program for the past seven-years and has been an electrician for 19-years. She was the only African American female electrician teaching this one-of-a-kind trade course.

Kindred has received help from the Illinois Black Caucus including from Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-8th) who has started an online petition demanding that the course be restored.

Senator Collins said she has learned that IBEW officials did reach out to Simeon who confirmed to her that “nobody had reached out” to the union. Collins told CPS officials, “We are not going to stand by and allow them to do that with state tax payers money. It’s not their school. It’s the community’s school.

“The LSC was not involved. They were handed the budget.” Collins said the LSC had no say in eliminating the program. “I was told it was the principal’s decision, but he couldn’t have made that decision without approval from above. We want that program restored,” Collins said. “Dr. Byrd-Bennett said money was not the problem but rather lack of student interests.” Collins said there needed to have been outreach to the students to perk greater interests in that trade course.

A Chicago Public School spokesperson told reporters it was Simeon’s principal who opted to cut the program because there wasn’t enough student interest in that course and that 18 of 370 entering Simeon freshmen sought to enroll in the course.

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.

MED Lifetime Achiever Sees New Black Agenda as Economic Empowerment

Posted by Admin On August - 6 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
African-Americans, a ‘Fourth Quarter People’

By Hazel Trice Edney

NBA President Michael Grant receiving award from MBDA National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo.
(Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Black Chamber President Ron Busby and former SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns congratulate NBA President Michael Grant on MEB’s Lifetime Achievement Award. (Courtesy Photo)

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The winner of the U. S. Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) Lifetime Achievement Award says the economic fate of America’s Black community “hangs in the balance” because “we are a fourth quarter people”.

Michael Grant, president of the National Bankers Association and its foundation, says, “Unlike our Hispanic and Asian brothers and sisters, we had to spend the first three quarters just getting in the game…So you see, all things being equal, our ethnic counterparts came to the game with a different mindset, a different set of circumstances, a different self-image, and already with some capital from back home.”

Grant was speaking during a joint press conference with the U. S. Black Chambers, Inc. two weeks after being notified he would receive the Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Abe Venable Legacy Lifetime Achievement Award Aug. 1.

The annual award is meant for a person who has exhibited “high standards of excellence, dedication and accomplishments over a lifetime”, said MBDA National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo, preparing to present the award. “This award is granted to two individuals who have played an integral role in the creativity and professional progress of minority business development over the course of their lives.”

The late Henry T. “Hank” Wilfong Jr., was also honored with the Legacy Award. He was founder of the National Association of Small Disadvantaged Businesses (NASDB), among a string of pioneering accomplishments that included service to presidents, governors and mayors. It was accepted by his widow, Wyllene Watson-Wilfong, who now runs the NASDB. Castillo said Wilfong was a “voice and trumpeter” for minority business development and stability.

Grant has for decades advocated for Black economic participation, growth and sustainability. In his remarks upon receiving the award, he credited strategic partnerships for his successes. His activities over the past year alone includes a partnership with the U. S. Black Chambers Inc. and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to encourage Black organizations to make their deposits in Black-owned banks.
Speaking at the press conference, Grant also joined with Busby to call for Black businesses and consumers to “choose to work and do business as a team” by supporting each other. He described how the African-American community has struggle to attain economic parity only to be surpassed by other ethnic groups. He illustrated this by outlining the annual budgets of the three national chambers and the gross annual receipts of the businesses that they represent. According to Grant:
* The Hispanic chamber has an annual budget of $22 million. The average gross annual receipts of Hispanic businesses is $155,000.
* The Asian Chamber has an annual budget of $11 million. The average gross annual receipts of Asian businesses is $327,000.

* The African-American chamber has an annual budget of $900,000. The average gross annual receipts of African-American businesses is $71,000. And Black-owned businesses received only 1.7 percent of the guaranteed loans from the Small Business Administration last year.

Grant stressed that he did not cite the numbers to create “resentment and animosity” between the groups. He said, in the “fourth quarter”, Blacks must break free of the past and strategize to take their place in America’s economic mainstream.

During the first quarter – during slavery – “we struggled to prove that we were, indeed, men and women and not chattel, not someone’s personal property”.
During the second quarter, “we harmonized with the political agendas of President Abraham Lincoln and the radical Republicans to rebuild our lives with a reconstruction movement. We gained some equal protection under the law.”

During the third quarter, Grant said, “our social engineers used the words of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States to mobilize national support – Black and White – for equal accommodations and we secured the right to vote.”

Today, in the fourth quarter, he concluded, “Our ethnic self-esteem was elevated when President Barack Obama ascended to the highest office in this nation.” He said despite agreement or disagreement with Obama, “we needed him to succeed” in both elections for three key reasons:

In a nutshell, those reasons were, first, to prove that “anything is possible if we’ll pull together and get on one accord”; secondly, to dispel for all time “the myth that we are not endowed with great intelligence”; and finally, “We needed to see for ourselves the limits of political power alone.”
Grant announced that he would continue to partner with the USBC to raise the level of Black business progress. “We finally have a business-oriented organization, with a clear vision, under committed, intelligent and inclusive leadership that is designed for the challenges of the 21st Century,” Grant said of the USBC, whose president, Ron Busby, also attended the MED awards ceremony.
Applauding Grant’s award, Busby said his recognition was important to underscore the role that Black banks play in the economic future and success of the nation.

“Access to capital is one of the number one concerns for African-American owned businesses,” Busby said. “And through this partnership and relationships, we feel like we have the solution to be able to increase the number of Black firms as well as grow our existing firms.”
Also applauding Grant at the MEB Awards Luncheon was former SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns, who said she knows he will use the distinction “to help strengthen the great platform that he already has to make sure there is the capital and the resources that Black businesses need in order to grow, create jobs and help rebuild this nation’s economy.”

Stressing the daunting task of strengthening minority-owned businesses, Castillo also announced a partnership between Busby’s USBC and the MBDA. “We need to bring all of our human capital together to make sure that minority businesses are seen and are regarded and are respected as part of the future; I should say as the integral corner of the future of this great nation,” she said.

Grant concluded, “If the past is prologue, I’m betting in the year 2020, many of the economic gaps that exist between African-Americans and other groups will close. All we have to do is choose to work and do business as a team.”

The Merge Summit Returns for a Power Packed Sixth Year August 21-23

Posted by Admin On August - 6 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

The weekend long program features top entertainers and industry executives including: Meagan Good, DeVon Franklin, Common, Michelle Williams, Sherri Shepherd, Terrence Jenkins, Pastor Paula White, Erica Campbell, Derek Luke, Sophia Luke, Clint Culpepper, Bishop Charles E. Blake, Mikki Taylor, Nate Parker, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jonathan Butler, Suzanne de Passe, Fonzworth Bentley, Harry J. Lennix, Mali Music, Bishop Lester Love, among others.

Beverly Hills, CA (BlackNews.com) — Relevé Entertainment announced today that The Merge Summit 2014 will be held August 21-23 at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. The event is presented in association with partners: Walgreens, Wellness Interactive, Inc. and Entertainment One. Integrating faith and entertainment, The Merge Summit provides a platform for men and women of faith to interface, learn and partner with leading executives and talent in the entertainment industry.

The Summit is one of the largest events for people of faith and its multifaceted program includes a complete weekend of education, inspiration and entertainment. Nearly 100 of the industrys top entertainers and executives will lead more than 20 interactive panel discussions, workshops and Master Class sessions covering music, television, film, creative development, branding, marketing and new media.

This year, The Summit kicks off its weekend events with Opening Night At The Merge, hosted by actor and E! News co-anchor Terrence Jenkins with special music performances by Mali Music and Jonathan Butler. BET Music Matters in association with eMerge is a new offering of the summit weekend which will showcase and recognize new unsigned poets, artists and spoken word performers. The weekend boasts the Wellness Lounge sponsored by Walgreens and Wellness Interactive, Inc. Freedom: The Merge Concert Experience sponsored by E-One Entertainment featuring Michelle Williams will culminate the weekend activities.

Master classes, panels and other event highlights include:
* Glide: The Splash Theory – moderated by Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper
* The It Factor – moderated by Sherri Shepherd – a panel with the industrys most talented women
* The Anatomy of The Writers Room – formats of shows, rewrites and the final script process
* Faith, Love & Success – an open discussion with power couples about faith, family and career
* Actors Workshop with Harry J. Lennix – intensive scene study and cold reading session
* Ministry Beyond the Pulpit – featuring cast members and producers from Oxygen’s hit show “Preachers of L.A.”
* Creating Hit Music – presented in association with E-One
* Producers Workshop: The Driving Force – how to take your project from script to screen

The Merge will also host the Fourth Annual Awards Luncheon on Saturday, August 23rd, honoring those bridging the gap between faith and entertainment. The 2014 honorees include Bishop Charles E. Blake (West Angeles Church of God in Christ), Aundrae Russell (KJLH 102.3 FM), Tina and Harold Lewis (HRL Group LLC), and Suzanne de Passe (de Passe Jones Entertainment).

“We could not be more excited about this years gathering,” said The Merge Founder and Chair Dr. Holly Carter. “We’ve grown and evolved each year while always staying to our original purpose: to provide a platform for creative men and women of faith. I have no doubt that this years powerful speakers and sessions will empower attendees to be bold and on purpose in bringing their dreams to life.”

“What a better place to bring the Word than amongst the brightest of stars and influencers in the entertainment industry,” said The Merge Summit Co-Founder and Co-Chair Robi Reed. “We need as many beacons of love and hope as we can find to light a path in these days and The Merge Summit is the place where those like minds meet. Im excited to see us climb to a new plateau this year.”

“Year after year, The Merge Summit enhances lives and careers by providing access to knowledge and opportunity,” adds Traci Blackwell, The Merge Summit Co-Chair and SVP, Current Programs, The CW Network. “This year will be no different and I look forward to seeing attendees grow during this powerful weekend.”

Other confirmed speakers include:
* Austyn Biggers – Senior Director of Development, BET Networks
* Bishop Lester Love – The City of Love Church, New Orleans, Louisiana
* Bre’ly Evans – Actress, BETs “Being Mary Jane”
* Common – Rapper/Actor
* Dondre Whitfield – Actor, ABCs “Mistresses”
* Edwina Findley – Actress, OWNs If Loving You Is Wrong
* Harmony Samuels – Music Producer for Maroon 5, Jordin Sparks, Kelly Rowland, Mary J Blige, Arianna Grande
* Issa Rae – Producer, Writer, Director, Actress
* Jacque Edmonds Cofer – Creator/Co-Executive Producer, BETs “Lets Stay Together”
* Jawn Murray – Entertainment Journalist and Pop Culture Expert, Always A-List.com
* Lynn Whitfield – Emmy Award-winning Actress
* Nikkole Denson-Randolph – Vice President, Specialty & Alternative Content, AMC Theatres
* Paula White – Paula White Ministries, Orlando, Florida
For a complete list of confirmed speakers, more information and to register, please visit:

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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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