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Archive for October 14th, 2014

City Budget Hearings: Chicagoans Have Questions About Chicago Police Militarization & Misconduct

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2014 Comments Off on City Budget Hearings: Chicagoans Have Questions About Chicago Police Militarization & Misconduct

Community organizers ask aldermen, media to get answers at Chicago Police budget hearings, likely to take place this week

CHICAGO, IL – Organizers with We Charge Genocide (WCG), a group fighting police violence and militarization, are asking their alderpeople and the media to give voice to Chicago’s communities during the city’s budget hearings by getting answers to a series of questions they posted online. Funding the Chicago Police Department (CPD) accounts for a huge portion of city public spending: 41%, compared to the only 2% of the city budget that goes to community services, according to the 2014 City of Chicago Annual Financial Analysis. Chicago also has the most police officers per capita of any major city.
The City’s Budget process will kick off on October 15th with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s address. After the Mayor releases a budget summary, individual city departments have hearings before the City Council. The CPD usually goes first, so it is expected that the CPD hearing will be before the Council this week.

Below is a set of questions community members from across the city, harshly impacted by under-funded public services and an over-funded, militarized police force, are asking alderpeople and the media to obtain answers to. Alderpeople are being encouraged by their constituents to ask these questions during the CPD budget hearings. WCG hopes the media will use these questions as well to get to the bottom of Chicago’s bloated police spending.

Militarization & Budget:

1. How does CPD determine the allocation of military-grade equipment within the department?

2. What stations or units currently possess military-grade equipment in CPD?

3. What additional training is provided to CPD officers/units/stations in possession of military-grade equipment provided through federal programs such as LESO 1033?

4. What is the total value and make-up of the military-grade equipment in CPD’s possession?

5. Can CPD, at this moment, provide a coherent explanation for the necessity of military tools on a city street?

6. What amount of the CPD budget is allocated to maintain the equipment and train officers in the use of the military-grade equipment in their possession?

7. What percentage of the budget is utilized for SWAT team training, equipment, and deployment?

8. What grants has CPD historically been awarded or applied to from the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) and its two main components, the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI)?

9. Does CPD routinely and accurately collect and provide the relevant data to assess factors, such as race, gender, and age in stop-and-frisk interactions, much like New York and comparable cities do?

Additional Questions:

1. What steps are being taken to identify and investigate officers with well-documented patterns of misconduct by the IAD?

2. What resources and/or training does CPD receive from outside organizations (like the DOJ etc) on these matters?

3. Does CPD notify any oversight agency if and when CPD changes crime codes or training protocol? If so, whom? If not, why not?

4. What progress, if any, has CPD made towards fully implementing the following policies:
a. Administrative Notices of Violation (ANOVs, or issuing tickets for low-level narcotics possessions);

b. General Order G02-01-03: Interactions with Transgender, Intersex. Gender Non-conforming Individuals; and

c. Special Order S06-14-03: Responding to Incidents Involving Citizenship Status?

5. How often, if at all, does CPD review its Use of Force policies and training? And if so, what’s the nature of these reviews? What changes have resulted from these reviews?

6. What steps, if any, has CPD taken to address issues regarding the accuracy of CPD’s crime reporting raised by the Office of Inspector General and the Chicago Magazine?

7. How many officer complaints does IAD receive, both from the general public and from city offices, including IPRA,  311, OIG, and others? Why does CPD not make this data public?

a. Would CPD be willing to make its IAD investigative policies and procedures available to the public? If so, why haven’t you done so? If not, why not?

8. Does CPD notify any oversight agency if and when CPD changes crime codes, including but not limited to homicides to death investigations or homicides to assaults or aggravated assault to simple assault, etc.? If so, who? If not, why not?

9. What steps is CPD taking to reduce the amount of overtime officers work? (What is the break down for overtime of administrative / supervisors v. patrol / beat officers?)

10. The leading cause of arrest in Chicago is misdemeanor marijuana possession at 44 arrest per day. What specific policies is CPD currently implementing to end this practice?

We Charge Genocide is volunteer-run by Chicago residents concerned that the epidemic of police violence continues uninterrupted in Chicago who seek to equip individuals across the city with tools to more proactively hold police accountable. In November, the group is sending six youth organizers to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, to present a report on Chicago Police violence before the Committee Against Torture. The name We Charge Genocide comes from a petition filed to the United Nations in 1951, which documented 153 racial killings and other human rights abuses, mostly by the police.

NTSB Next Step in Crash Involving Three Physicians Killed in Small Plane Crash in Southern Suburbs

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2014 Comments Off on NTSB Next Step in Crash Involving Three Physicians Killed in Small Plane Crash in Southern Suburbs

Representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are on hand in the southern suburbs investigating the crash that killed three Kansas doctors in a twin-engine Beechcraft Baron aircraft.  Apparently, no distress signal was emitted from the plane and it just dropped from the sky late Sunday night, according to early reports.

Clifford Law Offices has discovered that the airplane was owned by Arc Aviation LLC of Lawrence, Kansas, and was a twin engine with six seats.

“The NTSB will be trying to figure out probable cause of why the aircraft would suddenly crash following the takeoff from Midway Airport Sunday night,” said Kevin P. Durkin, partner at Clifford Law Offices and aviation attorney who has handled the cases of nearly every commercial airline crash in the past three decades as well as many small plane cases.  He also has taken the depositions of literally hundreds of aviation experts and airline representatives.  “At this point, nothing can be ruled out.  We should know the identities soon of those who were killed, but apparently early reports indicate that one of the physicians on board had a pilot’s license.  The NTSB will be confirming that.”

For further information, contact Clifford Law Offices’ Communications Partner Pamela S. Menaker at 847-721-0909.


Why Candidates Shouldn’t Ignore Asian American Voters

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2014 Comments Off on Why Candidates Shouldn’t Ignore Asian American Voters

Why Candidates Shouldn’t Ignore Asian American Voters

New America Media
By Andrew Lam

Asians and Pacific Islanders (APIs) are a fast-growing population and as a voting bloc, their numbers have nearly doubled since 2000, but political candidates continue to ignore them, according to a new study.

APIs are the fastest growing population in the United States, having outpaced Hispanic growth in 2012. In terms of political power, the API electorate nearly doubled to 3.9 million voters between 2000 to 2012, according to a poll of 1337 registered Asian American voters by Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

The study highlighted several characteristics of this increasingly powerful electorate.

1. About a third (27 percent) of about 4 million API voters are “up for grabs.”

“The largest group is ‘independent,’ or ‘don’t know,’” the survey found, “while among partisans, Democrats have a 2 to1 advantage.” The results are similar to findings in 2012, with one big difference: “There’s a stronger identification with Democrats among women in 2014 than in 2012,” according to the study,

2. Asian American voters tend to favor Democrats on key issues.

“The Democratic advantage is strongest on healthcare, income inequality, moderate gun control, immigration and smallest on taxes.” Republicans, on the other hand, are seen as stronger on national security. Notably, Vietnamese Americans by far find national security a “very important issue” at 72 percent, followed by Korean Americans at 56 percent.

3. The role of ethnic media is a crucial source of information for API voters.

Since API voters have the highest rates of limited English proficiency, (35 percent) and since 77 percent speak another language other than English at home, many rely on ethnic media to get their primary source of information. Vietnamese Americans lead among the the groups at 61 percent followed by Chinese Americans at slightly over half, Korean Americans at just over a third.

4. As a group, API voters favor Democrats in U.S. House races.

Asian Indians emerged as the group with highest Democratic Party favorability at 68 percent, whereas Korean Americans leaned toward GOP candidates more than half the time, followed by Vietnamese Americans at 45 percent. But, there are two exceptions. “The two parties are evenly matched among Chinese Americans and Republican candidates hold an advantage among Vietnamese American voters,” according to the report.

5. Voter enthusiasm is the same as before.

Overall, women are not as enthusiastic as they were last election, and Vietnamese American voters and Republicans are the most enthusiastic this time around.

“In elections to come, it is clear Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders will have the opportunity to influence positive change,” the study noted. “By 2025, APIs will make up five percent of the national electorate and by 2044, the group will constitute 10 of the national electorate.”

This year, Asian American votes can also matter in battleground states. In competitive races, the API vote could mean the margin of victory. In Virginia, for instance, Asian Americans make up about 10 percent of eligible voters, and in Nevada, that number is about 11 percent, according to AAJC. “In 60 House races in the midterm elections, Asian Americans make up more than 8 percent of the district’s citizen voting age population,” the study noted.

In May of 2014, Slate.com published a story with maps that got policy wonks talking. Entitled “Tagalog in California, Cherokee in Arkansas,” it showed how counterintuitive it might be for Americans to guess who’s where in America. Under the section of “Most common Language Spoken Other Than English and Spanish,” (in other words, the 3rd most popular language spoken) one is surprised to find that it’s Vietnamese in states like Washington, Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. In Virginia and Georgia? It’s Korean. And in Hawaii, Nevada and California? It’s Tagalog.

The map raises these questions: What are the fourth popular languages spoken in these states? Which will form formidable swing votes in the coming midterm and, more importantly, the primary in 2016? How will an increasingly powerful Asian American electorate affect American politics?

The answers remain to be seen, but it’s clear that in potential battleground states like Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona, ignoring immigrant and minority voters would be detrimental to candidates of any political stripe.

“The Asian American community is building civic and political infrastructures across the country,” writes the study authors, noting that, for example, Congressional candidates of API descent increased nearly fourfold to 39 in the last four years.

The report warned that “it would be a mistake for political parties and candidates to overlook the Asian American vote.”  It recommended reaching API voters through ethnic media, in multiple languages, and candidates “must also think about the Asian American community from the start, not as an afterthought.”

Andrew Lam is an editor with New America Media and author of “Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora,” and “East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres.” His latest book is “Birds of Paradise Lost,” a short story collection, was published in 2013 and won a Pen/Josephine Miles Literary Award in 2014.

Shaw Urges Blacks and ‘Fair-Minded Whites’ to Dump Judge Crane

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2014 Comments Off on Shaw Urges Blacks and ‘Fair-Minded Whites’ to Dump Judge Crane

Says Howard Morgan case ‘straw that broke camel’s back’

By Chinta Strausberg

First elected in 1996, the controversial Judge Clayton J. Crane has been endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Party, but mayoral hopeful Robert Shaw is urging African Americans and “fair-minded” white voters to dump the controversial judge who is seeking retention on November 4th.

Shaw, who made his comments during his Sunday WVON talk show, said Crane, who is a former Cook County assistant state’s attorney,  “should not be re-elected because he presided over the trial of Morgan Howard” a black former Chicago policeman then current railroad detective who was shot 28 times by four white Chicago policemen.

But the Cook County Democratic Party is way ahead of Shaw having already put out a huge approved party sample ballot asking votes to punch 226 to retain Judge Crane. However, Shaw is urging blacks to punch 227 he says is a ‘no’ vote.

“Judge Crane has a long history of mistreating African Americans, and his handling of the Howard Morgan case is the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as black people are concerned. I am urging blacks and fair-minded whites to vote 227 by his name which is a no vote because he needs to be off that bench,” Shaw said.

Morgan, then 53 with no criminal history, was shot by Chicago policemen, John Wrigley, Eric White, Timothy Finley and Nicolas Olsen on February 21, 2005 going down a wrong street near his home.

The police shot Morgan, a former Chicago policeman and then current detective for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, 28 times mostly in his back claiming he fired first—a charge Morgan and a lone eyewitness deny. A jury acquitted Morgan on the discharging of a firearm charge.

Morgan survived and was charged with aggravated battery, attempted murder and discharging a firearm. In 2007, Morgan was found not guilty of battery or firing a gun, but no verdict was return on the attempted murder charge. So, the states attorney’s office tried him a second time leading to his conviction in 2012 and ultimate sentencing to 40-years in prison.

While Judge Kathleen Mary Pantie had set Morgan’s bail at $2 million despite Morgan’s lawyer, Sam Adam, Jr.’s request for a lower bond, it was Judge Crane who upheld the $2 million bond.

Morgan’s 2007 trial where he was found guilty of attempted murder was an emotional one with blacks accusing the cops of murder. Morgan, whose wife, Rosalind, had raised $12,000 towards his $2 million bond and who received the balance of the $2 million from an anonymous person,went back to jail having had his bond revoked after the guilty verdict.

Morgan swore he never shot at the police, and David Protess, president, Chicago Innocence Project, is still asking a myriad of questions like “Why wasn’t a gunshot residue test done of Morgan’s hands” after the shooting? “Why was Morgan’s car destroyed before forensic testing could be conducted, including of the bullets that pierced it? Why were only three bullets preserved from the dozens of rounds fired, as Morgan’s advocates claim?

“Under the circumstances, how do we know whether any of the remaining bullets that hit Morgan were fired form his own weapon by police”? asked Protess.

Even more troubling for Protess and the black community was the question “Why was Morgan shot 21 times while his back was turned? Weren’t seven direct its to his front torso enough to subdue him? And, was race a factor in the shooting”?asked Protess. He added, “The first question goes to the issue of who is truly responsible for attempted murder…Morgan or the cops who repeatedly shot him”?

Flipping the script, Protess asked, “Would the case have been handled differently if the four officers were black West Siders and the shooting victim was a white Gold Coast resident”?

The key question remains—did Howard Morgan receive due process of law or was the fix already in?

Many people continue to fight for his release and to sign this on-line petition launched by Change.org <a>http://www.change.org/p/please-help-us-free-howard-morgan</a>;.

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.

NAACP Applauds Supreme Court’s Decision to Block Wisconsin Voter ID Requirement

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2014 Comments Off on NAACP Applauds Supreme Court’s Decision to Block Wisconsin Voter ID Requirement

BALTIMORE, MD — The Supreme Court recently blocked the state from implementing a new restrictive voter ID law, overturning the lower court’s decision until it can be reviewed at a full trial after the November election. Up to 10 percent of Wisconsin voters, especially those from communities of color, could have been disenfranchised. Nearly 300,000 registered voters, who do not have the IDs that would have been required under the new law, can  now breathe a sigh of relief knowing they will not face new voting restrictions in the upcoming election.

From Lillie B. Wilson, President of the NAACP Wisconsin State Conference:

“We are just elated at this decision. By any means possible they are trying to keep us from the polls. It is nice to know the courts are still looking at things in a good way. We fought and died for the right to vote, and we will continue to fight to retain that right.”

Little Village Man, Marine Corps Veteran First Selected to Be Honored with the Abraham Lincoln Veteran Champion Award

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2014 Comments Off on Little Village Man, Marine Corps Veteran First Selected to Be Honored with the Abraham Lincoln Veteran Champion Award

Jose L. Campos grew up in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago and joined the Marine Corps in 2002.  With 3 overseas tours behind him as a Field Radio Operator, including a deployment to Afghanistan in 2006, he left the Corps.  When discharged, Campos then returned to Illinois – and the Little Village – where he embarked on a new mission.  As a member of the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Urban Warriors, he and other veterans met with and mentored at-risk youth to help them avoid the pitfalls of fractured neighborhoods, and to help combat veterans heal from combat experiences.

“Jose Campos is a great example of our young veterans coming back from the military and making a difference in their communities,” said Rodrigo Garcia, Acting Director, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA).  “We are grateful for his focus on helping at-risk youths, and helping his fellow veterans assimilate and become contributing members of the community.  His informal, can-do leadership is making a difference and it’s greatly appreciated.”

While balancing the responsibilities as a father and husband with his employment and education goals, Campos began his pursuit of higher education at Morton Community College, Northeastern Illinois University and currently at Quincy University where he is studying special education.  In addition to the Urban Warriors program, he had been active in Chicago Veterans and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), supporting the “Vet Together” event at the Artopia Fest and a Vet Picnic at Montrose Beach Chicago.  In August 2014 he started as a student teacher at Madero Middle School.

IDVA was represented at this event by Rodrigo Garcia, Acting Director, IDVA, who presented Campos the award, which includes a framed proclamation as well as a State Flag on behalf of Governor Pat Quinn.  The ceremony was held at the American Legion Dorman-Dunn Post-Chicago, 2129 W. Cermak Rd., Chicago, late in the afternoon on Friday, Oct. 10.  He was nominated by Angel Herrera, Jr., a fellow veteran.

From the YMCA of Metro Chicago:  Many Chicago youth are growing up in environments that are similar to war zones. For these young people, avoiding gunfire, surviving attacks and losing friends are far too commonplace. In response, the YMCA of Metro Chicago and the Adler School of Professional Psychology launched Urban Warriors, a dynamic peer support group that brings together recent military veterans and youth with high levels of trauma exposure. Walking together through a 12-week curriculum, youth in this program learn positive strategies  for coping with loss and are given key tools for improving their physical, mental and emotional health. Thirteen youth and 6 military veterans graduated from this transformative program in 2014. For additional information on the Urban Warrior program, please visit the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention Program.

The Abraham Lincoln Veteran Champion Award (ALVCA) highlights and honors Illinois veterans whose contributions in service to the veteran community and their local communities are truly above and beyond. Nominees are evaluated on the basis of their leadership, dedication, innovation, and impact in serving these communities. ALVCA recipients are those whose efforts add to the powerful narrative that veterans are dedicated, lifelong public servants from whose efforts all of Illinois’ communities stand to benefit. In contributing to this narrative through their service to veteran and local communities, the ALVCA recipients not only impact the lives of those they serve, but also the overall advocacy effort for Illinois veterans.  The IDVA readily accepts nominations of veterans for consideration to receive the ALVCA.

Please contact Ryan Yantis, communication manager, IDVA, ryan.yantis@illinois.gov or 312-814-0778 with any question concerning the IDVA or the Abraham Lincoln Veteran Champion Award.

Gentry-Jones Featuring Mr. Sam Come Together to Change the Sound of Music

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2014 Comments Off on Gentry-Jones Featuring Mr. Sam Come Together to Change the Sound of Music

Gentry Jones Featuring Mr. Sam

Memphis, TN (BlackNews.com) — The careers of Gentry-Jones featuring Mr Sam (Tony Gentry, Nil Jones, Sam Fallie) based out of Memphis, Tennessee is an open book filled with producing, writing, playing, and performing with many well-known artist in the music business. All three of them started in various groups and bands around Memphis back in the 80’s and were well aware of each other. Sam was in a vocal group called the Perfectionist, and Nil eventually played with them. Nil’s band then, Streetwave featured Marcus Price, deceased guitarist for the Barkays, and Reginald Pettes, later to be known as Reggie P.

Who is Gentry-Jones featuring Mr. Sam?

* Tony Gentry played with various bands that heated up the Memphis scene before moving to Atlanta Georgia. At one point Nil and Tony were living in the same apartment complex and would talk music from time to time. Since then Tony has been touring the world almost 20 years as guitarist with the Barkays, as well as the Dazz Band, Con-funk-shun, Slave, Ohio Players, Shirley Brown, Billy Soul Bonds, as well as 8Ball & MJG, Tela, and Al Kapone.

* Nil Jones played with the vocal group Kwick for many years. Sam and Nil ended up signed to the Unisound Productions company by the late Allen Jones as writers for the likes of J. Blackfoot, the Barkays, Carl Carlton, Main Attraction, and many more to honed their skills and became an integral part of the sound company. Nil has shared the stage with Eric Gales, Force MD’s, J. Blackfoot and others, and has received several gold and platinum production, musician, and engineering credits which included but not limited to rappers Ma$e, 8Ball & MJG, Shania Twain, and Lil Wayne.

* Sam Fallie, a singer and songwriter, has written for Barkays, O B Buchana, Archie Love, and has had a successful career as a solo artist in the Soul and Blues market with several number 1 songs in those genres. In 2007, Sam won “Best New Artist of The Year” awards from both Daddy B. Nice’s “Southern Soul RnB” and Blues Critic.

In 2014, Gentry-Jones featuring Mr. Sam’s main focus was to create a power group that showcased creativity, showmanship, and musical knowledge. Starting with a mutual love of music, and combining their experiences in Soul, Blues, R&B, Hip Hop, and Jazz music, in a short period of time they created the hit line dance song entitled “Roll It Roll It” which hit number 1 on several charts for several weeks. To hear the song and learn the line dance for “Roll It Roll It”, visit their promotional video at www.RollitRollit.com.

Their next single release “We Ride” written with Steppers in mind will be released in late 2014. They have completed their CD projected entitled “Roll It Roll It” and now available online at most online stores. Promoters and talent buyers are welcome to contact Prime Time Promotions LLC to submit and offer to perform at their locations. When asked what they would like to say to their fans; they replied, “Just enjoy yourself and love what you do.”
Radio Station PDs and Club DJs interested in playing any of their hits should forward a promotional request for copies to info@PrimeTimePromotions.com.

For bookings, tour dates or press releases contact: Prime Time Promotions LLC at bookings@PrimeTimePromotions.com or (757) 478-9634. More information on Gentry-Jones feat Mr Sam or any other artist/entertainer with Prime Time Promotions LLC visit online to www.PrimeTimePromotions.com.

African American ECU Football Coach Prepares to Launch Childrens Book

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2014 Comments Off on African American ECU Football Coach Prepares to Launch Childrens Book

Greenville, NC (BlackNews.com) — From playbooks to childrens books, hes the Coach we all love and adore and now in true Ruffin McNeill fashion hes added author to his repertoire. McNeill, the head football coach at East Carolina University (ECU) believes in mentorship and giving back. He also believes that education and sportsmanship are keys to success.

ECU transitioned to the American Athletic League this year. Initially unranked, they quickly moved up and look forward to their match with USF this weekend. McNeill is one of the few African American head coaches in the country.

His decision to launch his authorship with a childrens book affords him the opportunity to mix numerous passions into one. A Little Pirates ABCs is a short story about the importance of people making good decisions, starting with their friends.

“I tell kids all the time to Avoid Bad Company. Success starts with the courage to surround themselves with people who are ambitious and hard workers. This book reiterates that on an elementary level; and that’s exciting.”

A Little Pirate’s ABCs is a short childrens book with a powerful message. Football player Tuffie has the smarts to succeed on the playing field. But when old friends try to teach him a few bad things, Coach Ruffin steps in. Coach helps Tuffie win by learning the other ABCs of following the right plays in life.

A Little Pirate’s ABCs is available for presale online at www.coachruff.com for $12.99.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Coach McNeills Foundation, which includes football camps and other local initiatives. Books will ship no later than December 1,2014 and pre-sale orders will be filled first.

“This book is sure to sell out. We encourage people to pre-order and have a once in a lifetime gift for the holidays,” said Diane Taylor, Owner of Taylor Made Publishing LLC. “It’s truly an extraordinary story for little pirates everywhere and as Coach would say you want some, come get some.”

Coach McNeill’s first official book signing will be Saturday Dec. 6, 2014 at On The Waterfront Restaurant located at 1 Harding Sq, Washington, NC 27889.

Photo Caption: Bookcover

Active Trans Releases List of the Most Dangerous Intersections in the Chicago Region

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2014 Comments Off on Active Trans Releases List of the Most Dangerous Intersections in the Chicago Region

Advocacy group launches Safe Crossings campaign pushing for more funding for improvements at some of the most unsafe places to cross in the city and surrounding suburbs

CHICAGO, IL – Crossing a busy street is an everyday activity for most Chicagoans, but too often it’s also one of the most dangerous things they’ll do all day.

Seventy-eight percent of all pedestrian crashes in Chicago occur within 125 feet of an intersection, according to the city. In 2013, there were 29 pedestrian fatalities in Chicago and there have already been 21 this year.

“Our streets are valuable public spaces and crossing them shouldn’t require putting your life at risk,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “With more dedicated funding to improve street design and increase enforcement at major intersections, we can make our streets safer for everyone and our communities more walkable and livable.”

There were more than 4,700 reported pedestrian crashes and 130 fatalities in Illinois in 2012, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation; 84 percent of the crashes and 69 percent of pedestrian fatalities in Illinois occurred in metro Chicago. In Chicago, pedestrian fatalities accounted for one-third of all traffic fatalities in 2012, compared to roughly 14 percent statewide.

Based upon analysis of crash data, staff feedback and more than 800 suggestions from the general public, Active Trans selected the following 10 intersections as focus areas for its Safe Crossings campaign in Chicago.

* N. Milwaukee Ave/W. North Ave/N. Damen Ave
* N. Cicero Ave and W. Chicago Ave
* N. Halsted St/N. Lincoln Ave/W. Fullerton Ave
* S. Cottage Grove Ave and E. 79th St
* N. Dearborn St and W. Ontario St
* S. Ashland Ave and W. 63rd St
* N. Cicero Ave and W. Madison St
* N. Ashland Ave and W. Cortland St
* S. Martin Luther King Dr and E. 63rd St
* N. Elston Ave/N. Western Ave/W. Diversey Ave

The group also selected 10 dangerous suburban intersections to highlight the regional challenges to increasing intersection safety for people of all ages and abilities using the road.

* N. McCormick Blvd and W. Touhy Ave (Skokie)
* S. Cicero Ave and W. Cermak Rd (Cicero)
* U.S. Route 12 (Mannheim Road/La Grange Road) and W. Cermak Rd (Westchester)
* Shermer Rd and W. Dempster St (Morton Grove)
* N. La Grange Rd and W. Ogden Ave (La Grange)
* Harms Rd and Glenview Road (Glenview)
* 1st Ave and Madison St (Maywood)
* N. Harlem Ave and Madison St (Forest Park/Oak Park)
* Harlem Ave and 79th St (Burbank)
* E. 147th St and Halsted St (Harvey)

Active Trans will work with community organizations, businesses and local residents to push for funding for improvements at these and other problem areas throughout the region. These lists represent just a small portion of the many dangerous places to cross in Chicagoland, particularly for our most vulnerable users such as children, people with disabilities and seniors.

“Older persons account for one in every five pedestrian fatalities and have the greatest fatality rate of any population group,” said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois State Director. “Continuing to invest resources in making our streets safe for all users is key to ending these preventable deaths. We must continue to develop new and innovative strategies for ensuring that Chicago roadways are accessible and safe for pedestrians of all ages.”

In its 2012 “Chicago Forward” Action Agenda, the city set a goal of eliminating traffic fatalities within 10 years. The goal is inspired by the internationally acclaimed “Vision Zero” initiative, built on the concept that no loss of life is acceptable and cities should no longer regard traffic crashes as “accidents” but as preventable incidents that can be reduced or eliminated with systemic changes.

Tools to improve intersection safety with varying costs and levels of impact are well known to agencies like the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), as well as municipal governments charged with making decisions about city streets. These include marked crosswalks; stop for pedestrian signs; pedestrian refuge islands; traffic signals and beacons; accessible pedestrian signals; pedestrian countdown timers; leading pedestrian intervals; lagging left turns; road diets; speed feedback signs; and roundabouts.

In addition to intersections with significant pedestrian traffic, there are many spots throughout the region where people do not even attempt to cross because the barriers are so intimidating or infrastructure is lacking. Many of these “barrier crossings” are located near schools, shopping centers or senior living homes, where potential for high levels of pedestrian traffic exists.

On the Far South Side of Chicago, there are no sidewalks on a long stretch of 130th Street in Altgeld Gardens, limiting access to the neighborhood’s only source for fresh produce. In Homewood in south suburban Cook County, children living less than a mile from school ride the bus because they are unable to cross at South Halsted and 183rd St.

Available funding is often one of the most significant barriers to improving intersections and making other pedestrian improvements on our streets. There is currently no dedicated annual funding source for the maintenance of pedestrian facilities in Chicago. Instead, leaders are forced to make changes as part of resurfacing projects or through aldermanic menu money.

“Until we establish a sustainable funding source for pedestrians, we are unlikely to make substantial progress on improving intersection safety and making our streets more livable and walkable,” said Burke. “Everyone is a pedestrian and we can’t afford to ignore these problems and fail to invest in readily available, proven solutions any longer.”

In addition to addressing funding challenges, the campaign has other more broad policy goals. Enhancing infrastructure design and stepping up enforcement at some of the worst intersections in the region alone will not eliminate the risk of crashes and more innovative policy solutions that have had success elsewhere should be considered, such as reducing neighborhood speed limits and improving crash reporting and data collection.

Safe Crossings resources:

Safe Crossings Fact Sheet
Safe Crossings Site Map
Safe Crossings Toolkit

Safe Crossings FAQ

The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit, member-based advocacy organization that works to make bicycling, walking and public transit so safe, convenient and fun that we will achieve a significant shift from environmentally harmful, sedentary travel to clean, active travel. The organization builds a movement around active transportation, encourages physical activity, increases safety and builds a world-class transportation network. Formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, the Active Transportation Alliance is supported by more than 7,000 members and 1,000 volunteers. For more information about the Active Transportation Alliance, visit www.activetrans.org or call 312.427.3325.

ISBE Announces Public Hearings to Guide FY 2016 Budget Development

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2014 Comments Off on ISBE Announces Public Hearings to Guide FY 2016 Budget Development

Board to gather feedback, set priorities and hear suggested changes to the K-12 funding method

SPRINGFIELD, IL – State education leaders are urging Illinoisans to weigh in on their priorities for education as the state develops the fiscal year 2016 K-12 education budget.

The Illinois State Board of Education is offering a series of public hearings across the state to gather opinions and ideas regarding education resources and funding as the Board develops its budget recommendation, typically sent to the General Assembly and Governor in January.

ISBE’s Finance and Audit Committee will host the first of five public hearings immediately following the Oct. 15 Board meeting at CityView Banquet and Meeting Center in downtown Champaign. In Illinois, schools are funded through this state education budget as well as local and federal sources, with local revenue supporting the bulk of education costs.

“One of the Board’s most important roles is to serve as a strong advocate for sufficient and equitable funding for K-12 education to help ensure each and every student in the state is prepared for the rigors of college and careers,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch.

This year the hearings will also offer attendees an opportunity to voice feedback on Senate Bill 16, pending legislation that aims to more equitably distribute how state dollars are shared among the 857 public school districts in Illinois.  Testimony from the FY 2016 budget hearings regarding Senate Bill 16 will be shared with legislators and ISBE staff.

The State Board has been studying the state’s funding formula for several years and has previously shared its five key principles for education funding, which are Adequacy, Simplicity, Transparency, Equity and to be Outcome-focused.

“We look forward to hearing from citizens about Senate Bill 16 and how well it meets the State Board’s five principles,” said Jim Baumann, chair of the ISBE Finance and Audit Committee. “At a time of renewed interest in examining how schools are funded in Illinois, it is especially important that we hear from parents, educators and students themselves.”

State K-12 Budget Hearings Schedule

Those who are unable to attend one of the five public hearings are encouraged to email any guidance or feedback to ISBE at isbefy16@isbe.net. The public budget hearings for FY 2016 will be conducted on the following dates and locations:

·         Wednesday, Oct. 15 – Immediately following Board meeting (3 to 5 p.m.) – Champaign – CityView Meeting Center, 45 East University Avenue.

·         Monday, Nov. 10 – 3 to 5 p.m. – Quincy – Adams County Health Department, 330 Vermont Street.

·         Wednesday, Nov. 12 – 5 to 7 p.m.  – Round Lake – John T. Magee Middle School Cafeteria, 500 Cedar Lake Road.

·         Monday, Nov. 17 – 3:45 to 5:45 p.m. – Granite City – GCHS Atrium, 3101 Madison Avenue.

·         Friday, Nov. 21 – Immediately following Board meeting (3 to 5 p.m.) – Chicago – Thompson Center, Conference Room 16-503, 100 West Randolph Street.

Budgeting for Results

Consistent with the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting principles, Illinois requires state agencies to use a ”Budgeting for Results” model to establish spending priorities, meet goals and deliver excellent services and value to taxpayers. To meet the Budgeting for Results requirements, budget hearing participants are once again asked to provide the following information when presenting their FY 2016 budget requests to the ISBE Finance and Audit Committee:

  • Outcomes: What outcomes will the funding allotment achieve?

  • Measures: What are the measurable results of these outcomes?

  • Value: What is the value of the outcomes?

  • Historical: What outcomes have been achieved in the past?

  • Moving forward: How does your organization plan to improve the value of services it provides using funding and other resources?

Budgeting for Results calls on every state agency to make the case for its budget based on its ability to successfully deliver results and value to Illinois residents.

The Board generally recommends an education budget during its January Board meeting, several months prior to any General Assembly action on the next fiscal year’s budget. The Board can only make a recommendation. The Governor and legislators must determine how to generate revenue and set the final budget. To see past budget information, visit the ISBE budget page at http://www.isbe.net/budget/default.htm.

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