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Archive for July 9th, 2015

Madigan Announces Joint $136 Million Settlement With Chase to Change Illegal Credit Card Debt Collection

Posted by Admin On July - 9 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
Settlement with Madigan, Attorneys General & CFPB Prevents Future Resales by Debt Buyers, Targets “Zombie Debts” & Stops Collections on 528,000 Consumers

CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a joint state-federal $136 million settlement with Chase Bank USA N.A. and Chase Bankcard Services Inc. to reform its unlawful credit card debt collection practices.

The agreement with Madigan, 46 other states, the Attorney General of the District of Columbia and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) follows an investigation into past debt collection practices by Chase.

The agreement requires Chase to significantly reform its credit card debt collection practices in areas of declarations, collections litigation, debt sales and debt buying. Debt buying involves the sale of debt by creditors or other debt owners, often for pennies on the dollar, to buyers who then attempt to collect the debt at full value or sell it to other buyers.

“This is another massive failure by Chase to comply with the law,” Attorney General Madigan said. “Chase’s shoddy practices disrupted the financial stability of nearly 50,000 people in Illinois struggling with their credit card debt in the wake of the economic crisis. This settlement puts a stop to Chase’s illegal robosigning practices in collecting debt and will completely reform the bank’s debt collection and debt selling practices.”

Among other reforms, the agreement requires new safeguards to help ensure debt information is accurate and inaccurate data is corrected, provides additional information to consumers who owe debts, and bars Chase’s debt buyers from reselling consumer debts to other purchasers. Previously, initial buyers of Chase’s consumer credit card debt could resell the debt, the subsequent buyer could flip the debt to another buyer, and the process could repeat itself many times over. If initial information about the debt was incorrect or was transmitted with errors to a subsequent debt buyer, that could result in long-term harm to the consumer and leave the consumer with the difficult or even impossible burden of successfully challenging or correcting errors.

The investigation into Chase uncovered numerous unlawful debt collection practices, including findings that Chase:

  • Subjected consumers to collections activity for accounts that were not theirs, in amounts that were incorrect or uncollectable.
  • Subjected consumers to inaccurate credit reporting and unlawful judgments that may affect consumers’ ability to obtain credit, employment, housing and insurance in the future.
  • Sold certain accounts to debt buyers that were inaccurate, settled, discharged in bankruptcy, not owed by the consumer, or otherwise uncollectable.
  • Filed lawsuits and obtained judgments against consumers using false and deceptive affidavits and other documents that were prepared without following required procedures, a practice commonly referred to as “robo-signing.” These practices misled consumers and courts and caused consumers to pay false or incorrect debt and incur legal expenses and court fees to defend against invalid or excessive claims.
  • Made calculation errors when filing debt collection lawsuits that sometimes resulted in judgments against consumers for incorrect amounts.

Chase suspended its consumer credit card debt sales in 2013 and collections litigation in 2011. In 2012 Chase maintained approximately 64.5 million open accounts with $124 billion in outstanding credit card debt. From 2009-2013, Chase recovered approximately $4.5 billion of debt from defaulted accounts through collection lawsuits, selling defaulted accounts to third-party debt buyers, or both.

Chase has agreed to cease all collection efforts on more than 528,000 consumers, including an estimated 48,000 in Illinois. Chase sued the affected consumers for credit card debts ranging between hundreds and thousands of dollars each and obtained judgments in about one-third of those cases between Jan. 1, 2009 and June 30, 2014.  In those cases where Chase obtained a judgment, Chase will notify affected borrowers that Chase no longer will see to collect the amount and also that Chase will request all three major credit reporting agencies to not report the judgments.  Where Chase filed a lawsuit but did not obtain a judgment, Chase will not re-file the lawsuit or try to collect on those accounts.

The agreement also ensures that Chase will fulfill $50 million in consumer restitution through a separate 2013 consent order reached with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Approximately 6,000 Illinois consumers would receive an estimated $7.5 million in restitution. These restitution payments to consumers are intended to address cases where Chase erroneously collected more than the amount it legally was entitled to collect. This error affects about 9 percent of the judgments that Chase obtained.

If Chase’s consumer restitution through the OCC action falls short of $50 million by July 1, 2016, Chase must pay the remaining balance to state attorneys general and the CFPB.

Under the agreement, Chase will pay more than $95 million to the participating states and the District of Columbia, an additional $11 million to the executive committee states that conducted the investigation and settlement negotiations, and $30 million to the CFPB. Illinois will award $7.2 million in settlement funds to the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation to fund legal aid services for low income residents and the elderly, including providing consumer debt counseling and legal representation.

Joining Madigan and the CFPB in today’s settlement were attorneys generals from Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Division Chief Deborah Hagan, Bureau Chief Elizabeth Blackston and Assistant Attorney General Paul Isaac handled the case for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.

Hoffman: Continued “No-Show” of Governor’s Agency Directors is Unacceptable

Posted by Admin On July - 9 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Rep. Jay Hoffman called a Wednesday hearing on reforms to Illinois’ workers’ compensation system and expected to hear from an official in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration about the status of the system – an issue Rauner has stated is a priority. Instead, the public got the cold shoulder from Rauner, who again rejected transparency and an airing of issues the governor himself considers important.

“The ongoing secrecy from the governor and his administration has got to stop. It’s unfair to the taxpayers and constituents we serve who deserve a public discussion on issues that affect so many families,” Hoffman said. “We asked the governor’s administration to give us details of a report it issued on Illinois’ workers’ compensation system, but nobody showed. The governor has specifically said this issue must be addressed to his satisfaction before he will even discuss the budget. For no one to show up to discuss the issue is unacceptable.”

“The governor is using individuals who rely on the state, including the elderly, victims of child abuse and the developmentally disabled, to pass his extreme agenda. Then his administration does not even show up to discuss part of his agenda,” Hoffman added.

Hoffman, chair of the House Labor and Commerce Committee, invited Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission chair Joann Fratianni to a hearing to discuss the agency’s Fiscal Year 2014 report, issued on June 16. Neither Fratianni nor a designee from her office attended the hearing.

In the commission report’s opening letter, Fratianni informs Rauner that workers’ compensation costs in Illinois are declining, with insurers reporting a 19 percent decrease in benefit payments over the last four years. The letter also cites a study noting Illinois saw the largest savings on workers’ compensation insurance and the largest decrease in medical payments per claim.

“It baffles me why we can’t get cooperation from the governor or his administration and discuss a public report,” Hoffman said. “Studies seem to show that Illinois is making important strides toward reducing workers’ compensation costs, yet employers tell us they have yet to realize savings. We need to know why. I agree that we must reduce costs for employers, but any plan that has the potential effect of ruining workers’ lives and leaving them with little or nothing to get by when they are unable to work would only worsen Illinois’ economic challenges and endanger middle-class families.”

Wednesday’s hearing marked the seventh time in the last month Rauner or administration officials have failed to provide information to the public on a number of issues, including salaries given to highly paid administration staff.

Lake Co. Man Sentenced to Prison for Tax Fraud

Posted by Admin On July - 9 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Todd Antenore, 47, of Mundelein was sentenced to a term of 30 months in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) after he pleaded guilty to sales tax fraud in Lake County.  The charges stem from Antenore’s attempt to evade paying sales tax while affiliated with Pembrooke, Inc., located in Wadsworth, IL.  Antenore has a prior felony conviction in Cook County for the same conduct involving petroleum station.

“Today’s hard-hitting sentence shows that we take tax fraud very seriously in Illinois,” said Revenue Director Connie Beard.  “I applaud the efforts of Revenue’s Criminal Investigation Division, as well as the Attorney General’s Office in obtaining this conviction.”

Antenore’s conviction stems from his attempt to evade $186,000 in additional taxes while on probation for a prior Cook County tax fraud case where he was ordered to pay $336,000.  Antenore is set to surrender to IDOC on August 13, 2015.

The case was prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office based on a referral from the Department of Revenue’s Criminal Investigation Division.

Hailing a Cab While Black? It’s Still a Problem

Posted by Admin On July - 9 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
Op-Ed By Ben Jealous
Former President and CEO of the NAACP

If you had to guess the single strongest factor in determining who escapes poverty, what do you think it would be? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is transportation.

We may not think about it every day, but access to buses, trains and metros is a crucial link to opportunity and economic mobility. In fact, a recent Harvard study found the single strongest factor in determining economic mobility was commuting time. A lack of transportation options can keep a struggling community treading water. It is bad enough when a neighborhood lacks access to fresh produce; it is even worse when the closest grocery is only accessible by a bus that only shows up occasionally, or not at all.

If there is a personal equivalent to this public policy problem, it would have to be the struggle of catching a cab as a person of color, especially as a Black man. Nearly every person of color I know has a first- or second-hand story about a time that a taxi refused to pick them up or even drive to their neighborhood. Even President Obama has recalled experiencing discrimination when he was a young man.

A new research study provides some statistical meat to those anecdotal stories, and hints that the solution to this age old problem may lie in new technology. A study, conducted by Brilliant Corners and sponsored by Uber, surveyed more than 800 Black and white residents of Chicago. It found the following:

* The number of respondents who report personally experiencing being ignored by taxi drivers when hailing taxis on the street is significantly higher for black respondents than for whites (Blacks 48 percent to whites 23 percent).
* 55 percent of Blacks who have called for a cab at some point have experienced a refusal by the service to send a cab to their community.
* A solid majority of Blacks and nearly half of whites agree that taxis drivers deliberately discriminate against Black passengers.

Fifty years after the Civil Rights Act, one of the most basic activities in daily life is still tarred by racism and discrimination. This new data proves the concerns that many people of color hold about finding a ride when it matters most: when the destination is a job interview, a doctor’s visit, or just a lunch with an old friend. The vexing experience of trying to hail a taxi is a powerful incentive for many people of color to seek alternative methods of transportation.

The most exciting alternative is ridesharing. Ridesharing companies, like Uber and Lyft, manage to be both more efficient than traditional taxi services and also more color-blind. When a driver selects a customer for pickup, he or she is completely blind to what that customer looks like, or where that customer is going. Using an app, anyone can get a reliable ride, whenever and wherever they are.

The added bonus of ridesharing services is that they serve as a form of economic empowerment themselves. As these services ramp up across the country, they are providing tens of thousands of flexible and easily accessible jobs. Three out of four Uber drivers use the service as a steady source of income, and eight percent of drivers were formerly unemployed. Uber has partnered with the NAACP in Boston and Maryland to recruit drivers from heavily diverse neighborhoods where jobs are often sorely needed.

In fact, these new services create a virtuous cycle of employment and economic empowerment. Ridesharing companies serve new people and communities that traditional taxis have for years passed over. When these drivers come from the communities they serve, it essentially creates a new market for transportation services. Everybody wins, from the passengers to the drivers to the local economy.

We often think about how technology and smartphones make our lives more convenient and easier; it’s important to remember that technology has the power to protect our dignity and make our society fairer as well.

Ben Jealous is former President and CEO of the NAACP and a partner at Kapor Capital, an early investor in Uber.

NAACP Applauds South Carolina State Legislature for Voting to Remove Confederate Battle Flag

Posted by Admin On July - 9 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Washington, DC — Today, the South Carolina House of Representatives voted 94-20 to remove the Confederate battle flag from public spaces including state Capitol grounds. Later today, Governor Nikki Haley is expected to sign the bill into law. In light of this monumental victory, the NAACP released the following statement:

By President Cornell William Brooks, NAACP President & CEO:

“The NAACP applauds the South Carolina legislature for voting to remove the Confederate Battle flag – one of the longest standing symbols of hatred and exclusion — from public spaces and state Capitol grounds today. The confederate battle flag as a symbolic stain of racism has been dismissed from the state Capitol grounds and may now be deposited to a museum.  This flag should be studied and no longer honored. This legislative decision affirms the 15 years of collective advocacy of the NAACP on both the national and state level to bring down the flag, in particular our 15 year economic boycott of the state that was joined by the NCAA and UAW. As we head to Philadelphia for our 106th Annual Convention this Saturday, we can now consider an emergency resolution to lift the economic boycott of the state.  Today, South Carolina ushers the state and our country into a new era  — one of unity and inclusion at a time of such profound tragedy. By removing the flag, South Carolina not only denounces an odious emblem of a bygone era but also honors the lives of nine students of scripture who were gunned down in a church, including that of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the former South Carolina state senator. We applaud Governor Nikki Haley for her leadership and moral courage by changing her position and supporting the flag removal in the aftermath of tragedy.  This decision will make South Carolina more welcoming and affirming of all people irrespective of their skin color.”

By Dr. Lonnie Randolph, NAACP South Carolina State Conference President:

“Today, the South Carolina legislature did the right thing—one that is profoundly American – by taking down the Confederate battle flag. I applaud South Carolina state senators, members of the House of Representatives and Governor Nikki Haley for their commitment and support to the citizens of South Carolina and the citizens of this country. Fifteen years ago, the NAACP launched longstanding boycott against the state until the battle flag came down.”

City of Chicago ‘Respect Your Taxi Driver’ Campaign Reminds Battery of a Taxicab Driver is a Class 3 Felony

Posted by Admin On July - 9 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Aims to Keep Drivers Safe and Call Attention to the Consequences of Violence Towards Taxi Drivers

“Be Polite, Not Violent – Respect Your Taxi Driver!” is a new campaign by the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP). The campaign is geared toward keeping Chicago’s public chauffeurs safe while working and reminding passengers that battery of an on-duty taxicab driver is a class three felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

“This campaign is intended to remind passengers that Chicago’s public chauffeurs deserve respect, and there is no reason for violence,” said BACP Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek. “If an issue arises, passengers should report it to BACP by calling 311 and not by taking the law into their own hands.”

The ‘Respect Your Taxi Driver’ campaign includes six infographics BACP is sharing on its social media sites, website, e-newsletters, and is producing an educational video to be shared on multi-media sites. The department is encouraging other City departments, aldermen, and community partners to share the message so all residents and visitors are aware of the law. Here is a link to the infographics: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/bacp/supp_info/ridesmartchicago.html

The campaign is the result of a recent criminal case involving the alleged battery and theft of longtime taxicab driver Henry Rone, who was assaulted by a passenger who tried to walk away from his cab without paying.  A criminal complaint filed in Cook County alleged when Rone approached the passenger she slapped him in the face, which caused his glasses to break and fall to the ground.

“We are hardworking people, trying to do our jobs to the best of our ability,” said Rone, who drives his taxi 12 hour days and works six days a week. “Every day you step out of your house to drive and you worry a little and think, ‘what might happen today?’ Riders should know there is a consequence for doing something to the driver. It will give us more respect.”

Rone said he is proud of the service he offers to Chicago residents and its millions of visitors. Several of his passengers have called 311 to compliment his services. One person called him the “safest cab driver ever,” and another compliment said he “was very courteous” and said “This is the best experience the caller has ever had in a cab.” A third compliment was a letter of appreciation from a passenger who accidentally left their wallet in Rone’s taxicab and was happy to have it returned the same day. The letter said “I respect his honesty and integrity.”

BACP oversees the licensing of Chicago’s public chauffeurs and public vehicles including taxicabs, liveries, charter and site seeing buses, horse drawn carriages, ambulances, water taxis and tour boats. The department oversees the purchasing of taxicab medallions, vehicle inspections and rates of fare. Learn more about BACP’s Public Vehicle Operations at www.cityofchicago.org/BACP.

Major Obama Fundraiser Joins Draft Biden National Finance Team

Posted by Admin On July - 9 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Shiva Sarram, a major fundraiser for President Barack Obama, joins the Draft Biden 2016 national finance team. This comes just a few days after Jon Cooper, another leading Obama fundraiser, signed on to be chair of their national fundraising efforts.

On joining Draft Biden 2016’s national finance team, Sarram said, “With all of the positive signs from his inner circle and the contagious momentum of the Draft Biden movement, this opportunity was too good to pass up. I’m proud to stand behind Vice President Biden and help out now and we will be ready to launch major efforts out of the gate the moment he announces his decision.”

“When I look at the current field of Democratic candidates, I’m hungry for the energy I felt during the Obama campaign. I also want a candidate who can best carry on the policies and legacy of this Administration that we all worked so hard for,” Sarram explained. She further added, “Joe Biden is motivated not by his own personal ambition, political gain or a quest for the spotlight but rather by a genuine desire to serve. He will lead us in an honest and thoughtful way.”

Sarram, who runs a non-profit foundation supporting war-affected children around the globe and lives with her family in Connecticut, is well known in fundraising circles for hosting an event that raised nearly $400,000 for President Obama’s campaign at a single luncheon in 2008. Many political veterans still describe that event as one of the best executed of that year.

New Report Examines Issues, Strategies for Dealing with Urban Flooding in Illinois

Posted by Admin On July - 9 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The prevalence and costs associated with urban flooding in Illinois, along with strategies and recommendations for minimizing damage to property from urban flooding are examined in a new report published by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

The IDNR prepared the report, in collaboration with other state agencies, at the direction of the Illinois General Assembly to detail the extent, cost, prevalence, and policies related to urban flooding in Illinois and to identify resources and technology that may lead to mitigation of the impacts of urban flooding.

Documented damages from flooding in urban areas in Illinois totaled more than $2.3 billion between 2007 and 2014, of which more than $1.2 billion were private claims typically representing basement flooding and sewer backups.

The report found that urban flooding is most common in older sections of communities with older sewer systems, and that urbanization and climate trends have increased stormwater runoff.  The report suggests improving data collection and analyses on urban flooding to guide programs and policies to reduce flood damages.

The report also suggests pursuing options to mitigate urban flood damages, such as green and gray infrastructure, increasing open areas in areas of redevelopment, and updating aging, undersized storm sewer systems.  The report also recommends that communities implement programs to reduce urban flooding risk and damages, while individuals can purchase sewer and basement riders from private insurance providers and flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. The state can provide incentives to communities, including access to grants and revolving funds to address flooding issues.

The research presented in the report has led to 33 recommendations, some of which the IDNR is already working on with other key state agencies:  developing a draft state model stormwater ordinance for local communities; determining how best to appropriateexpenditures of state revolving funds for stormwater management measures; and, coordinating federal and state mitigation grant programs and projects potentially addressing urban flood measures through the Illinois Mitigation Advisory Group. The remaining recommendations in the report address the need for authorities, education and awareness, local regulations, collaboration between government agencies and communities, and funding for programs and data collection efforts to reduce future flood damage costs in Illinois.

The Illinois Urban Flooding Awareness Act Report is posted on the IDNR website at these links:

Urban Flooding Awareness Act Report, Appendices

Legendary Singer-Songwriter and Producer Bunny Sigler Releases New Single “Buttermilk And Cornbread” Featuring Instant Funk Out July 7th

Posted by Admin On July - 9 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Remix Produced by Joe Gallagher, Saint Man, Bunny Sigler, and Instant Funk

Buttermilk and Cornbread

Los Angeles, CA (BlackNews.com) — Four-time Grammy winning producer-singer-songwriter Bunny Sigler releases his second single, Buttermilk and Cornbread from the brand new, critically acclaimed album Bundino. The prolific songwriter who produced the Philly Sound intrigues his audience once again by showcasing his classic R&B sound going back to his roots with the funky, stand-out track as his follow-up on the R&B driven album featuring disco band, Instant Funk.

Complete with soulful ballads honing in a contemporary sound, Sigler pushes his vocals on this upbeat and lighthearted tune. Buttermilk and Cornbread, Bunny describes is a blues track that reminisces of southern cooking and sweet country memories. Sizzling with that down south sound, Buttermilk and Cornbread has a catchy chorus and a sensory smorgasbord of lyrics.

This feel good song recalls relaxing times and nostalgic jam sessions uninhibited sing-alongs with friends that seem endless. The six minute songs highlight is the unexpected trumpet solo that cuts in between at the halfway mark and the blend of unison backup vocals.

Backed by longtime collaborators, Instant Funk, the band has teamed up once again with Sigler. Currently in the studio working on new material, theyre ready to hit the road again and bring their live performances worldwide.

…Sigler has no problem with shaking things up, and he demonstrates his comfort with envelope pushing through Bundino. — Soul Tracks

Along with the original mix of Buttermilk and Cornbread, Bunny will also release a special remix version of the song an upbeat rendition of the standout single produced by Joe Gallagher, Bunny Sigler, Instant Funk, and Saint Man. The remix will have listeners wanting more and radio hosts playing the track on repeat. A music video to accompany the single featuring Instant Funk will also be released in July.

Photo Caption: Single cover


Attorney General Lynch Announces Federal Marriage Benefits Available to Same-Sex Couples Nationwide

Posted by Admin On July - 9 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Attorney General Lynch announced today that federal marriage benefits will be available to same-sex couples nationwide following the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges:

“Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Obergefell that every couple has the same right to participate in the institution of marriage, whether the partners are of the same-sex or opposite sexes, I directed Justice Department staff to work with the agencies to ensure that the ruling be given full effect across the federal government.  Thanks to their leadership and the quick work of the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, today I am proud to announce that the critical programs for veterans and elderly and disabled Americans, which previously could not give effect to the marriages of couples living in states that did not recognize those marriages, will now provide federal recognition for all marriages nationwide.  The agencies are currently working towards providing guidance to implement this change in law.  Just over a year ago, Attorney General Holder announced that agencies across the federal government had implemented the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision by treating married same-sex couples the same as married opposite-sex couples to the greatest extent possible under the law as it then stood.  With the Supreme Court’s new ruling that the Constitution requires marriage equality, we have now taken the further step of ensuring that all federal benefits will be available equally to married couples in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the US Territories.  The department will continue to work across the administration to fulfill our commitment to equal treatment for all Americans, including equal access to the benefits of marriage that the Obergefell decision guarantees.”

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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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