January , 2019

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Archive for March 25th, 2015

Madigan Collects Record $1.3 Billion in State Revenue in 2014

Posted by Admin On March - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Collections include $244 million for state pension systems

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that her office collected a record-breaking $1.3 billion in 2014 on behalf of the State of Illinois.

Through a combination of litigation and collection efforts, Madigan’s office generated over $43 for every general revenue dollar appropriated to the office in 2014. Since Madigan took office, total collections have reached over $11 billion.

“My office works to maximize revenue to support critical programs and services, and last year we generated a record-breaking total while operating with the lowest level of taxpayer funding in over a decade,” Madigan said. “Given the state’s fiscal crisis, we’re doing everything we can to generate much-needed funds for the state.”

Madigan’s office operated in 2014 with an appropriation from the state’s general revenue fund of $30,843,200 – which remains lower than the level of funding that the office received in 1997. Attorney General Madigan’s office generated $43.24 for every state general revenue dollar the office received in 2014.

In 2014, the Attorney General’s office generated nearly $344.8 million through collections litigation for damage to state property, child support, unpaid educational loans, fines and penalties. In addition, the Attorney General’s office collected $306.8 million through tobacco litigation and $317.6 million in estate tax revenues.

Overall, the Attorney General’s office collected a total of $1,333,711,626.07 in 2014. In addition to the collections, tobacco and estate tax revenues generated in 2014, Madigan’s office secured millions stemming from her aggressive litigation efforts on behalf of the state. Madigan returned $244 million last year to the state’s pension systems to cover losses sustained from investments in mortgage-backed securities that contributed to the 2008 economic collapse, bringing her total state pension system recoveries to nearly $400 million. Additionally, Madigan’s office secured nearly $120 million in 2014 through settlement agreements with several major pharmaceutical manufacturers for defrauding the state’s Medicaid program by inflating wholesale prices. In an ongoing effort, Madigan’s office also has secured almost $100 million in unpaid gasoline sales taxes through a joint enforcement initiative with the Illinois Department of Revenue. This pending effort aims to crack down on gas station owners who have evaded paying sales taxes by falsely under-reporting sales figures, causing the loss of millions of dollars in state tax revenue.

New Information Confirms Corruption and Cover Up in Case Where White Pastor Killed his Black Son-In-Law

Posted by Admin On March - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

The family is now alleging massive corruption and a cover up by Harnett County District Attorney Vernon Stewart.

Christian Griggs

Angier, NC (BlackNews.com) – On October 12, 2013, white local Pastor Pat Chisenhall brutally killed his black son-in law 23-year-old Christian Griggs, fatally shooting Christian 6 times, 4 in the back as he lay wounded. The state medical examiner ruled Christian’s death a homicide.

Since Christian’s tragic killing, District Attorney Vernon Stewart and Harnett law enforcement have done everything in their power to avoid holding Pat Chisenhall accountable, including tampering with evidence, withholding key information and maintaining deep-seated conflicts of interests. Most recently, the family discovered that DA Stewart has withheld additional forensic data critical to the case. Dolly and Tony Griggs, Christians parents, issued the following statement:

“The problems with DA Vernon and Harnett County law enforcement’s investigation into our son’s killing, or the lack there of, are almost too many to count. Months ago we were told by officials that no gunshot residue tests were performed, but when picking up Christian’s personal belongings this week we were presented with documentation revealing gunshot residue tests (GSR) performed on both Katie and Pat Chisenhall. GSR would determine who discharged the firearm and confirm or contradict their narrative of the shooting. What is the outcome of the test? What other information is DA Stewart hiding? This latest revelation only further deepens our grave mistrust of DA Stewart and local police.

“Our description of the crime scene differs from pictures shown to our legal counsel and it’s clear the crime scene had been doctored. The police report also indicates that the case was closed the day of the shooting with no investigation and prior to the autopsy release. We believe the crime scene was changed after the autopsy revealed Christian had been fatally shot in the back while he lay wounded. And the conflicts of interest run deep. Pat Chisenhall’s attorney is DA Stewart’s former partner, who is also a financial contributor to Stewart’s election committee. Another officer close to the investigation was a neighbor of Pat Chisenhall and a friend who fraternized with Katie Chisenhall. If we hadn’t raised our voices, DA Stewart would have succeeded in sweeping Christians death under the rug.

“There is more than enough probable cause and evidence for DA Stewart to charge Chisenhall, but he refuses to do his job. Honestly, he should be removed from office for unethical conduct. No family should ever have to go through losing their son and then having to fight for justice, this case must go before a jury. We and our supporters will not rest until our family receives the due process and justice entitled to every citizen. Unlike Pat Chisenhalls, who claims not to remember the events of that day, we will never forget the cost of his murderous action.

“We demand that DA Stewart recuse himself and allow NC Attorney General Cooper and the NC State Bureau of Investigation to thoroughly investigate the homicide of our son and bring Christians killer, Pat Chisenhalls, to justice. This type of racial discrimination, corruption and cronyism is unacceptable in North Carolina’s justice system and we need state and federal officials to ensure fairness and equity. More than 16 months since Christian was killed and District Attorney Vernon Stewart has made it clear that he is incapable of doing his job.

More than 4,700 people have joined the Griggs family campaign: www.JusticeForChristianGriggs.org

Photo Caption: Christian Griggs, pictured with his daughter, was killed by his father in-law who is a white pastor in Angier, North Carolina

Urban League Affiliates to Provide Digital Literacy Training Through Comcast Program for Expanding Broadband Access

Posted by Admin On March - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

NEW YORK — Hundreds of low-income families in 36 cities served by Urban League affiliates will receive digital literacy training and access to affordable Internet service and through Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, program, according to National Urban League President and Chief Executive Officer Marc H. Morial

” At the National Urban League, we believe that every American should have access to the education, training, and tools they need to get a job.  We believe that broadband access at home is a critical component of that path to employment,” Morial said. “The National Urban League commends Comcast on its efforts to bridge the digital divide and on the success of their Internet Essentials program in connecting 450,000 families, or 1.8 million low-income Americans to broadband.”

Comcast’s Internet Essentials is designed to expand broadband adoption among low-income American households with at least one child eligible for free or reduced price school lunches.  In addition to internet service and print, online and in-person training, families have the option to purchase a computer for less than $150.

“As America transitions to a tech-enabled economy, we must close the digital divide in order ensure that our communities are not left behind,” Morial said. “ As the nation’s largest broadband adoption program, Internet Essentials is a model for how Tech companies can work with National leaders and local community organizations to bring communities online to drive job growth, incubate minority-owned businesses and improve education outcomes. ”

36 Urban League Affiliates have received grants from the Comcast Foundation to provide digital literacy training in their communities:

  1. Atlanta Workforce Development Board
  2. Greater Sacramento Urban League
  3. Houston Area Urban League
  4. Indianapolis Urban League
  5. Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League
  6. Minneapolis Urban League
  7. Springfield Urban League
  8. Tacoma Urban League
  9. Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts
  10. Urban League of Greater Atlanta
  11. Urban League of Greater Hartford
  12. Urban League of Hudson County
  13. Urban League of Metropolitan Denver
  14. Urban League of Middle Tennessee
  1. Urban League of Portland
  2. Chattanooga Area Urban League
  3. Grand Rapids Urban League
  4. Greater Washington Urban League
  5. Knoxville Area Urban League
  6. Memphis Urban League
  7. Northern Virginia Urban League
  8. Trident Urban League
  9. Urban League of Broward County
  10. Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh
  11. Urban League of Greater Richmond
  12. Urban League of Madison County
  13. Urban League of Palm Beach County
  14. Fort Wayne Urban League Inc
  15. Urban League of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan
  16. Urban League of Northwest Indiana
  17. Urban League of Springfield
  18. Chicago Urban League
  19. Southwestern Michigan Urban League
  20. Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
  21. Urban League of Philadelphia
  22. Urban League of Southwestern Fairfield County

CBC Chairman G. K. Butterfield Responds to U.S. Supreme Court’s Rejection of the Wisconsin Voter ID Case

Posted by Admin On March - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G. K. Butterfield issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject the Wisconsin voter ID case.

“The Congressional Black Caucus is deeply disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the discriminatory Wisconsin voter ID case, which will disenfranchise thousands of African American voters.  The Wisconsin voter ID law places unnecessary burdens on African Americans under the guise of combatting voter fraud.  These requirements seem benign but in application they will result in lower voter participation because many black voters lack the required identification.  The CBC remains committed to confronting suppressive and discriminatory election schemes until the right to vote is unfettered and protected for all Americans.”

Last month, the Congressional Black Caucus filed an amicus brief in the case against Wisconsin’s restrictive voting law.

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

Posted by Admin On March - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, DC – President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

·         Kathleen Ann Doherty – Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus, Department of State

·         Hans G. Klemm – Ambassador to Romania, Department of State

·         Jeffrey Prieto – General Counsel, Department of Agriculture

·         Lucy Tamlyn – Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, Department of State

President Obama also announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts:

·         Wanda M. Austin – Member, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

·         Thomas O. Melius – Commissioner, United States Section of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission

President Obama said, “These fine public servants bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their important roles.  I look forward to working with them.”

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

Kathleen Ann Doherty, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus, Department of State

Kathleen Ann Doherty, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy, a position she has held since 2013.  Previously, Ms. Doherty served at the Department of State as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs from 2011 to 2013 and as Director of the Office of European Union  and Regional Affairs from 2010 to 2011.  Prior to that, she served as Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in London, United Kingdom from 2008 to 2010, Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia from 2006 to 2008, Senior Watch Officer in the State Department’s Operations Center in 2005, and Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy from 2000 to 2004.  After joining the Foreign Service in 1990, her early assignments included posts in the Dominican Republic and Brazil.  Ms. Doherty received a B.A. from Colgate University and an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics.

Hans G. Klemm, Nominee for Ambassador to Romania, Department of State

Hans G. Klemm, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is a Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Management at the Department of State, a position he has held since January 2015.  Previously, Ambassador Klemm served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Department’s Bureau of Human Resources from 2012 to 2015.  Before that, he was Senior Coordinator for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs in 2012, and Senior Coordinator for Rule of Law and Law Enforcement at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012.  He also served as the U.S. Ambassador to Timor-Leste from 2007 to 2010.  Prior to that, Ambassador Klemm served as Minister-Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan from 2006 to 2007, and as Director and Deputy Director of the Office of Career Development in the Bureau of Human Resources from 2004 to 2006.  He was a participant in the Senior Seminar at the Department’s Foreign Service Institute from 2003 to 2004, Director of the Office of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Textile Trade Affairs in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs from 2001 to 2003, and Deputy Director of the Office of European Union and Regional Affairs in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs from 2000 to 2001.  Ambassador Klemm’s earlier assignments with the Department of State included postings in Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Trinidad and Tobago.  Ambassador Klemm received a B.A. from Indiana University and an M.A. from Stanford University.

Jeffrey Prieto, Nominee for General Counsel, Department of Agriculture

Jeffrey Prieto serves as Deputy General Counsel for the Department of Agriculture, a position he has held since June 2014.  Prior to this, he served as the Deputy Executive Officer and General Counsel in the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) at the Department of Justice (DOJ) from 2012 to 2014.  From 2010 to 2012, Mr. Prieto served as ENRD’s Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General at DOJ.  Previously, he was a Trial Attorney with ENRD’s Environmental Enforcement Section from 1999 to 2010.  From 1998 to 1999, Mr. Prieto was an Attorney-Advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water.  From 1997 to 1998, he was a White House Fellow assigned to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Mr. Prieto received a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, an M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and a J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Lucy Tamlyn, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, Department of State

Lucy Tamlyn, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Director of the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan in the Department of State, a position she has held since 2013.  Previously, Ms. Tamlyn served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal from 2011 to 2013, Economic Counselor at the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, France from 2009 to 2010, and as Provincial Reconstruction Team Leader in Erbil, Iraq from 2008 to 2009.  Prior to that, Ms. Tamlyn was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in N’Djamena, Chad from 2005 to 2008, Alternate Permanent Representative and Deputy Director in the United Nations Economic and Social Council Section of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York from 2003 to 2005, and Alternate Permanent Representative at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome, Italy from 2000 to 2003.  Since joining the Foreign Service in 1982, she has also served at posts in Austria, Brazil, Colombia, and Mozambique.  Ms. Tamlyn received a B.A. from Saint John’s College and an M.A. from Columbia University.

President Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts:

Dr. Wanda M. Austin, Appointee for Member, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

Dr. Wanda M. Austin is President and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, a Federally Funded Research and Development Center, positions she has held since 2008.  She has held various positions at The Aerospace Corporation starting in 1979, including Senior Vice President of the National Systems Group from 2004 to 2007, Senior Vice President of the Engineering and Technology Group from 2001 to 2003, and General Manager of the MILSATCOM Division from 1999 to 2001.  Before joining The Aerospace Corporation, Dr. Austin was a Member of the technical staff at Rockwell International from 1977 to 1979.  She became a member of the Defense Science Board in 2010 and served as a Member on the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee in 2009. Dr. Austin is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and the NASA Advisory Council, and she is an Honorary Fellow of The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.  She also serves on the boards of the University of Southern California, National Space Foundation, and National Geographic Society.  Dr. Austin received a B.A. from Franklin & Marshall College, an M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.

Thomas O. Melius, Appointee for Commissioner, United States Section of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission

Thomas O. Melius is the Midwest Regional Director at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), a position he has held since 2008.  He was Regional Director in Alaska at the FWS from 2006 to 2008.  Mr. Melius was Assistant Director for External Affairs at the FWS from 2003 to 2006, was Assistant Director for Migratory Birds and State Programs at the FWS from 2000 to 2003, and was first Assistant Director for External Afairs at the FWS from 1998 to 2000.  Mr. Melius was the Director of Conservation Policy and Senior Advisor at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation from 1997 to 1998.  He was a senior professional staff member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation from 1995 to 1997.  Mr. Melius was a professional staff member on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries from 1985 to 1995.  Mr. Melius received a B.S. and M.A. from South Dakota State University.

Reps. Flowers, Ford Seek to Restore Prayer Back Into Classrooms

Posted by Admin On March - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Rev. Jakes: It will reduce violence

By Chinta Strausberg

State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-31st), along with several co-sponsors including Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (D-8th), Tuesday confirmed she has introduced HB0165 that if passed would bring prayer back into the classroom.

Her bill amends the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act. If passed, it would allow students in the public schools to voluntarily engage in individually initiated, non-disruptive prayer, provides that such praying may take place at any time during the school day. If passed, it would become effective immediately.

According to Flowers, the House Committee amendment No. 2 replaces everything after the enacting clause and amends the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act.

Under this bill, students in the public schools may, during the school day, voluntarily engage in individually or collectively initiated, non-disruptive prayer or religious-based meetings, including without limitation prayer groups, B I B L E (Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth) clubs, or meet at the flagpole for prayer days (instead of providing that students in the public schools may voluntarily engage in individually initiated, non-disruptive prayer). It would become effective immediately.

Interviewed in her Springfield office, when asked by this reporter why did she introduce this bill, Flowers said, so children can understand the importance of the Bible and know what the Bible is. The Bible is the basic instructions before leaving earth. It is God’s word in the Bible.

Flowers said many children don’t know that the things they need to be successful in life is right there in the Bible ¦like thou shall not kill, and ¦how to honor thy mother and father¦. Those are basic instructions that we all grew up with every day.

However, a lot of children have not been exposed to the B I B L E and they want to be in a club or a gang but they can be in the B I B L E club or the B I B L E gang, said Flowers. The Bible is a book of instructions.

Referring to years past, Flowers said, Grandma hands would take us to church, make us get down on our knees and pray, but now days grandmothers are much younger and they are not taught about the Bible. That is why this is a good opportunity for the kids who do know something about it and want to start an organization or a prayer club.

Last October, Spencer Leak,Sr., owner of the Leak & Sons Funeral Home, held a meeting where he rallied support to get prayer restored to the classroom.

Also in Springfield was Rev. Paul Jakes, president and chairman of  the Christian Council On Urban Affairs and pastor of the New Tabernacle of Faith Baptist Church, who believes prayer in the classroom can reduce violence.

“This will help young people have focus ¦and young people should take advantage of organizing bible studies as many have done years ago and use it as a tool to keep their minds focused and strengthened by the word of God,” Jakes said. “This will also reduce violence because they will be involved with something more positive. It is one of the greatest tools to help youth stay focused and to be directed by the Holy Spirit.”

Jakes said he doesn’t believe non-believers will be able to scuttle this bill because it will be done on a voluntary basis.

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.

The Harold Washington Legacy Committee Asks Churches to Remember Harold

Posted by Admin On March - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – The Harold Washington Legacy Committee has designated Sunday, April 26th as  “Mayor Harold Washington Day,” Josie Childs, president/founder of the Committee announced late Monday night.

“We want the churches to lift up the name of Mayor Washington to honor his legacy, and we want the younger people to know who Mayor Washington, the first African American may or Chicago, was and his accomplishments.

“We want them to know about the diverse coalition that elected him. That is important because Mayor Washington said, ’Chicago is one city. We shall work as one people for our common good and our common goals,’” said Childs.

“We are asking churches to do whatever they choose in lifting up Mayor Washington’s name. We want older people to remember and younger people to learn what his legacy is and what he meant to this city,” Childs said.

“Even though Mayor Washington is no longer with us, his visionary plans for the future of this city continue even with this administration. To me, that says Mayor Washington left a road map for us to follow,” said Childs.

For further information, call Jose Childs at 773.643.4828.

Chicago Film Premiere of Historic Cornel West – Bob Avakian Dialogu‏e on March 28th

Posted by Admin On March - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Nationwide Film Premiere Screenings and On-line Launch: March 28, Sat 3-8 pm

REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion: A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN

On March 28, the new film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN will premiere in cities across the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Chicago, and Houston. This will also be the online launch of the film at revcom.us.

The new film documents the historic dialogue between Bob Avakian, the Revolutionary Communist leader, and Cornel West, the Revolutionary Christian, that took place November 15, 2014 before a packed house of some 1,900 at Riverside Church in New York City.

Director Andy Zee explains: “The film brings you inside the exchange between Cornel West and Bob Avakian—the passion, the audacity, the science, the morality, and most of all the deep substance of their call for fundamental change, for revolution, in the face of the horrors of the world today. This question, the fight for emancipation and the role of religion, impacts the lives of billions on the planet.”

The dialogue brought together front-line fighters from as far away as Ferguson, young people and students, artists, college professors, and many more.

Watch Clip from the Film: “Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?”

Cornel West is widely recognized as one of the most important and provocative public intellectuals of our time. A prolific writer and lecturer, West is Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary in New York. A champion for the oppressed, West’s writing, speaking and teaching draw inspiration from and weave together the Christian and Black prophetic traditions, radical democracy and jazz, R&B and hip hop.

Bob Avakian, is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Bob Avakian (BA) came alive as a revolutionary in the 1960s. Since then he has given his heart and knowledge to serving the cause of revolution and the emancipation of humanity, and has consistently taken responsibility for leading the revolutionary movement – theoretically and practically. He is an innovative and critical thinker who has brought forward a new synthesis of communism.

Sponsored by: The Bob Avakian Institute and Revolution Books Chicago

For more on Dialogue and new Film: http://revcom.us/revolution-and-religion/index.html

(including extensive commentary from people in response to the dialogue)

Chicago Premier

Logan Center for the Arts

915 E. 60th Street (1 block east of Cottage Grove in Hyde Park) Chicago

3-8 pm (doors open at 2:30 pm)

Film 3-7 pm, Reception follows at 7:15 pm

$20 / $10 low income / $50 & $100 premium

Info/tickets: Chicago BA Everywhere Committee                           baeverywhereinchicago@gmail.com

Tickets can be ordered on line via pay pal at chicagorevolutionbooks.blogspot. Tickets for Chicago audience and press are available by calling 312-860-8167.


“Vision Zero” Plan Recommended for Reducing Traffic Injuries, Fatalities

Posted by Admin On March - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Advocates call for independent task force to assess photo enforcement and other safety strategies

Saying that the victims of traffic crashes are being forgotten in the debate over traffic safety and red light cameras, transportation advocates today called on Chicago’s elected leaders and candidates for elected office to support a comprehensive “Vision Zero” strategy to consistently reduce traffic injuries and eventually eliminate traffic fatalities.

In addition, they recommended creating an independent taskforce to assess progress toward the Vision Zero goal and examine which safety strategies work best to reduce traffic injuries and deaths, including evaluating the safety impact of individual red light camera locations.

“The real victims in this debate are being forgotten,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “The real victims are the nearly 21,000 people significantly injured or killed in traffic crashes each year in Chicago.”

One of those victims was 24-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Annis, who was killed in a traffic crash in Logan Square in 2008. Annis was riding her bicycle west on Armitage Avenue when she was hit and killed by a motorist who ran a red light.

Her boyfriend James Bausch, 27 at the time, was riding a bike to visit Annis and rode past the police activity before returning to the scene to learn his girlfriend was the victim. The same hour she was killed, he was picking up an engagement ring and had plans to propose to Annis. Annis was a teacher at Humboldt Community Christian School.

“Nobody should have to go through what Mandy’s family and I went through in losing someone we loved to a preventable traffic crash,” said Bausch. “We need to be doing more to enforce traffic laws and hold violators accountable to prevent tragedies like this from happening on our streets.”

Vision Zero is an international traffic safety movement guided by the principle that no loss of life on our streets is acceptable. Traffic crashes are not mere “accidents,” but preventable incidents that can be reduced and eliminated with systemic changes. Photo enforcement is one tool that’s been used internationally and across the U.S. to advance Vision Zero goals, along with public awareness and education programs, policy changes, and improvements to traffic engineering and street design.

The findings of Chicago’s Vision Zero task force could serve as the foundation for a detailed action plan on how Chicago will achieve progress towards Vision Zero over the next two years. In the past year, the cities of New York, San Francisco and Seattle have all committed to Vision Zero and published detailed action plans that aim to reduce and ultimately eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries, and several other cities are already working on similar plans. The Chicago Department of Transportation has adopted a goal of reaching zero traffic fatalities by 2022. In pursuit of that goal, CDOT has been implementing various strategies that would contribute to a comprehensive plan.

“Vision Zero is the right thing to do for kids and all of Chicago’s pedestrians,” said Dr. Kyran Quinlan, who specializes in pediatrics at Rush University Medical Center. “It is far easier and wiser to protect child pedestrians by making our streets safer. Once kids are hit and severely injured, the best medicine may not be enough to save their lives or make them whole again.”

According to IDOT data, in 2012 there were more than 77,000 reported traffic crashes in Chicago that caused significant injuries for nearly 21,000 people and killed 145 people. Because crashes and injuries are often unreported or misreported, the actual numbers are likely higher.

People riding bikes accounted for seven percent of traffic fatalities, people walking 34 percent, and people in cars 59 percent. For non-fatal injuries, about 80 percent were people in cars with the remaining 20 percent that were people biking and people walking. Many more people suffer minor injuries and life disruption.

Chicago advocates said they are worried the debate about red light cameras could lead to the loss of an important traffic safety tool. They said dangerous driving is rampant, and there aren’t enough police officers to combat the problem and enforce traffic safety laws. Photo enforcement can bridge the gap, effectively multiplying the power of the police to enforce the law.

“Some of the criticism is justified and some is off base, but enforcing traffic laws, whether with cameras or police officers, prevents injuries and save lives when done properly,” said Burke. “Rather than throw the baby out with the bath water, the city should convene an independent group to determine how to improve the program and which cameras should stay or go.”

The Federal Highway Administration and other traffic safety experts support the use of red light cameras.

“Red light violations may seem trivial to violators, but the safety consequences are real,” said traffic safety expert Richard Rettting, who has led studies at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that documented reductions in red light running that ranged from 40 to 96 percent after adding red light cameras. “The research is conclusive: red light cameras are effective at reducing crashes that result in serious injuries and fatalities.”

“As a pediatric emergency medical physician, I’ve seen the devastating impact that traffic crashes have on children and their families,” said Dr. Karen Sheehan, who serves as medical director of the Lurie Children’s Injury Prevention and Research Center. “Research has shown that red light cameras decrease the more serious right angle crashes.”

In 2013, more than 1,100 crashes caused by red light violations killed six people and caused significant injuries for more than 700 people.

Another one of those victims was James Longfield, who was riding his bike north on Elston Avenue in Chicago when he was struck by a cab driver running a red light. The driver approached the intersection from the east on Courtland, turning right on red without stopping and hit Longfield. Longfield suffered injuries and ultimately settled with the cab company to cover his medical expenses and bike damages, as well as additional compensation.

“We need increased enforcement of traffic laws on our streets to save lives and prevent serious injuries like mine, and traffic safety cameras are a big part of that,” said Longfield.

Active Trans supports better enforcement of all traffic laws for all modes of travel. Whether driving, biking, or walking, everyone needs to be safe and respectful. Dangerous behaviors are unlikely to change without a comprehensive strategy that includes ticketing, public awareness and education programs, policy changes, and improvements to street design.

Active Trans is asking people to sign a petition in support of moving forward with Vision Zero goals throughout the region. 
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.

Philip Nelson Confirmed as Director of Illinois Department of Agriculture

Posted by Admin On March - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL. – The Illinois Senate voted to confirm Philip Nelson as the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.  The fourth-generation grain and livestock farmer was appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner on January 16, 2015.

“I’ve been in agriculture my entire life, both as a farmer and a professional working to promote the industry,” Nelson said.  “I realize that there is a lot of work to do, such as strengthening our transportation infrastructure, increasing exports, and serving our customers in a timely manner.  My priority is to listen and work with producers and stakeholders to make sure we are supporting our #1 industry and ultimately working to turnaround Illinois’ economy.”

Nelson previously served as the President of the Illinois Farm Bureau.  Additionally, he was president of the companies that make up COUNTRY Financial, Illinois Agricultural Service Company, the IAA Foundation, and served on the Coordinating Committee of GROWMARK, Inc.  He operates a farm near Seneca, growing corn, soybeans, and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf operation.

Director Nelson has been very active in community and agricultural organizations throughout his career.  Among his accomplishments, Philip was state FFA Star Farmer of Illinois in 1977; American Farm Bureau Federation’s National Outstanding Young Farmer in 1984; President of the Illinois Soybean Association from 1989-1991; President of LaSalle County Farm Bureau, 1993-1999; Vice President of the American Soybean Association from 1993-1994; Chairman of AFBF’s Swine Advisory Committee from 1997 to 2000; and Prairie Farmer Master Farmer in 2001.

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