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Archive for January 5th, 2016

Historic Chicago Reparations Payments Begin in Burge Torture Cases

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – Today the City of Chicago began the process of disbursing financial reparations in the Burge torture cases. 57 living survivors of police torture perpetuated by those working at the behest of disgraced former Commander Jon Burge were recipients. The payment fulfills a critical component of the historic reparations ordinance passed by the Chicago City Council last May. As members of Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM), we herald these reparations payments as part of a decades-long struggle for justice in the Chicago police torture cases, and honor the 57 survivors who deserve so much more.

In the midst of a major political crisis in our city, we must understand this development in the context of our times.

Most importantly, the reparations package was the product of decades of organizing, litigation, and investigative journalism, and was, inspired by the dedication of the survivors themselves, the culmination of a campaign in the winter and spring by CTJM, Amnesty International USA, Project NIA and We Charge Genocide. The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement nationally was the critical context for our success. City leaders faced extraordinary local, national and international pressure to support the reparations ordinance: forty-six organizations endorsed the ordinance; the U.N. Committee Against Torture specifically called on the U.S. Government to support the passage of the first-of-its-kind legislation; many hundreds of Chicagoans attended demonstrations, rallies, sing-ins and citywide teach-ins; and tens of thousands signed petitions to urge the mayor and City Council to support the ordinance.

While the Reparations Ordinance was drafted to provide redress to the approximately 125 Black people tortured by Burge and his subordinates from 1972 through 1991, and was inspired by the extraordinary groundwork done by Attorney Stan Willis and Black People Against Police Torture, it also spoke to a national crisis. “This holistic model should serve as a blueprint for how cities around the country, from Ferguson to Baltimore, can respond to systemic racist police brutality,” said Joey Mogul, a co-founder of Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, partner at the People’s Law Office and drafter of the original reparations ordinance.

Since passage of the ordinance, we have seen a steady stream of protests, vigils, disruptions, and occupations—fueled largely by social media and cell phone videos—targeting racist police violence locally and nationally. In Chicago the police killing of Laquan McDonald, which some have referred to as an “execution,” sparked sustained protests, leading to the firing of the police superintendent and head of IPRA (Independent Police Review Authority) and the opening of an investigation of Chicago police practices by the U. S. Department of Justice. Even more recently, the police killings of Bettie Jones and Quintonio Legrier have created a renewed crisis in the city and an intensification of struggle.

Newly released data from the Citizens Police Data Project shows that 99% of tens of thousands of complaints against CPD officers from 2011-2015 led to no punishment or sanction. This culture of impunity, racism and violence clearly goes beyond a “few bad apples,” and suggests the multigenerational span of this crisis of police violence in Chicago. Jason Van Dyke, indicted for murdering Laquan McDonald, had 18 civilian complaints filed against him, including allegations of using excessive force and racial slurs. He, like Jon Burge before him, was encouraged rather than punished.

Moreover, the trauma for survivors continues. As Burge torture survivor, Anthony Holmes stated in his court testimony in 2011: “I can’t ever shake it. I still have nightmares, not as bad as they were, but I still have them. I wake up in a cold sweat. I still fear that I am going to go back to jail for this again. I see myself falling in a deep hole and no one helping me to get out.” Each time a new video surfaces of CPD murdering Black Chicagoans, the cycle of trauma is sustained.

In response to the very important question of whether torture reparations alone can bring healing to a city beset with a torrent of recent revelations of police, prosecutorial and judicial misconduct Alice Kim, activist and a CTJM leader said: “This is forty four years after the first known instance of Burge torture. The criminal justice system failed those who were tortured by Burge and for too long Burge torture was denied and covered up. No amount of financial compensation can make up for what the survivors suffered but we sought tangible redress that could make a meaningful difference in their lives.”

Flint Taylor, a founding member of the People’s Law Office and who, with his law partner and CTJM co-founder Joey Mogul have acted as lawyers for CTJM said: “Reparations, although an historic accomplishment that recognizes that racist violence by the police is not a recent phenomenon, but rather spans many decades, cannot heal the City without fundamental systemic changes within the Chicago police department, the Cook County State’s Attorneys’ Office and the Cook County Criminal Justice system.” 

Darrell Cannon, a Burge torture survivor and one of the main spokespersons for the Reparations campaign said: “Reparations is only the first step to healing the City. We still have a long way to go. No one should forget that torture under Jon Burge took place with the knowledge and complicity of former Mayor Daley and former States Attorney Devine.”

The Reparations Ordinance provides a package of services, education and resources, and CTJM is working with appropriate partners to implement these important measures. Torture survivors and other victims of police violence have the right to financial compensation and other forms of redress to repair the harm done to them and their communities. But it is also clear that multi-million dollar settlements have not led the City of Chicago to halt the long reign of police abuse; significant changes in police practices are long overdue. It is truly unconscionable that 40% of the city budget is allocated to the Chicago Police Department, while schools and mental health clinics are closed.

Hence, CTJM joins other organizations and leaders in calling for a transformation of governance in this city and a re-thinking of the best way to achieve public safety.

Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) 

www.chicagotorture.org

 

For more information, contact: Alice Kim, CTJM: 773-412-2716 or Flint Taylor, CTJM & People’s Law Office: 773-616-3736

Families, Faith and Labor Leaders, and Community Advocates to Denounce Immigration Enforcement Raids, Announce Resources

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Groups will urge Chicago ICE Field Office Director Ricardo Wong to use discretion and not raid families under his jurisdiction. They will also announce steps to inform community members about their rights and ways to organize, including a hotline number (855-435-7693 or 855-HELP-MY-FAMILY) to obtain legal services information and to report civil rights violations by immigration agents during raids.

 

A Press conference denouncing immigration raids on immigrant families in Chicago and announcement of available resources, including hotline number and information about legal support for those in deportation proceedings, will be held today, Tuesday January 5, 2016 , 11:00 a.m., in front of the Chicago Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Field Office, at 101 W. Congress.

Central American families and immigrants who have been affected by prior immigration raids, immigrant rights advocates, legal providers and faith and labor leaders will attend the press conference. Organizations include Organized Communities Against Deportations, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, National Immigrant Justice Center, PASO – West Suburban Action Project (PASO), Latino Union of Chicago, the Chicago Religious Leadership Network, Centro Autonomo, and others.

Over New Year’s weekend, ICE conducted immigration raids in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, as part of an operation to detain and deport Central American families who have a removal order. The people who are being targeted are some of the most vulnerable immigrants – children and families who are seeking refuge from violence, persecution, and death, who have had little or no support navigating the complex immigration system, and who may not have received adequate notice of their court dates.  It has also been reported that these raids have swept up children and family members who were not among the targets of the operation and involved potential civil rights violations.  

 

In Illinois, more than 800 families could be targeted by these raids, but ICE agents could very well arrest and detain other individuals beyond their targets. Chicagoland organizations are urging ICE Chicago Field Office Director Ricardo Wong to use discretion in immigration enforcement tactics and not execute these raids in the area under the jurisdiction of his office.  These organizations will also announce efforts to reach out to Central American families and other immigrants who are at high risk of being targeted by these immigration raids.

FERC Requires Changes to Downstate MISO Capacity Auction: Rules in Response to Madigan’s Complaint

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a decision December 31, 2015, agreeing with Attorney General Lisa Madigan that the rules governing the auction to set electricity capacity prices in downstate Illinois are “not just and reasonable.” FERC ordered that the rules must be changed for the next auction scheduled for April that will set prices to begin June 1, 2016. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (MISO), the entity that oversees the transmission of power in the Midwest, must file the rule changes with FERC within 30 and 90 days.

Capacity prices are paid by each residential and commercial and industrial customer as part of their electric bill. These prices are set through an auction in which companies that generate electricity submit bids. For Ameren electricity customers in Central and Southern Illinois, the auction is run by MISO. As a result of the flawed auction in April 2015, electricity prices for Ameren consumers in the MISO territory unnecessarily increased by close to 900 percent from the previous year’s auction. This resulted in an annual increase of $131 for an average residential Ameren customer. Madigan’s office expects FERC’s decision will rightly result in lower prices for consumers as of June 1.

“It’s great news that FERC has acknowledged downstate electric customers deserve relief from an inflated and absurd pricing process,” said Madigan. “I am pleased with FERC’s decision to fix the auction rules, but FERC still needs to order refunds to consumers for the outrageously high prices.”

FERC’s decision calls for two major changes to the capacity auction rules. First, MISO cannot rely on prices set for the Pennsylvania, Jersey Maryland (PJM) power system, another entity that oversees transmission for mainly East Coast states and northern Illinois with different auction rules and different prices. MISO erred in setting the maximum bid price to $155 when it should be $25. Secondly, MISO did not correctly account for certain power exports, and must now increase the amount of electricity that is available to the Illinois market, potentially lowering the price.

Madigan’s May 28, 2015 complaint asked FERC to fix the auction rules and create new rules moving forward. The complaint also asked that consumers receive refunds for prices that unnecessarily increased as a result of the flawed auction rules. FERC has not yet issued a decision on potential refunds.

Public Utilities Counsel Susan Satter, Assistant Attorney General Sameer Doshi, and Energy and Environment Counsel James Gignac are handling the complaint for Madigan’s Public Utilities Bureau, which represents the people of Illinois on public utilities matters and advocates for adequate, efficient, reliable, environmentally safe and least-cost public utility services.

 

Rochester Man Charged with Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIL

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
Emanuel L. Lutchman, 25, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. of the Western District of New York and Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen of the Federal Investigation Bureau’s (FBI) Buffalo Division.

“According to the complaint, as part of Emanuel Lutchman’s attempt to provide material support to ISIL, he planned to kill innocent civilians on New Year’s Eve in the name of the terrorist organization.” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Thankfully, law enforcement was able to intervene and thwart Lutchman’s deadly plans.”

“This New Year’s Eve prosecution underscores the threat of ISIL even in upstate New York but demonstrates our determination to immediately stop any who would cause harm in its name,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “What began as an ISIL directive to harm the community ended with the arrest of this defendant and a message for any other individuals considering similar behavior—you will be caught, you will be prosecuted, and you will be punished. While law enforcement is well equipped for such investigations, the public is reminded to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity. I assure members of the public that the excellent work of our law enforcement partners with the cooperation of the public is the best way to ensure the safety of our community.”

“The FBI thwarted Emanuel Lutchman’s intent to kill civilians on New Year’s Eve,” said Special Agent in Charge Cohen. “The FBI remains concerned about people overseas who use the Internet to inspire people in the United States to commit acts of violence where they live.”

According to court records, the defendant, claiming to receive direction from an overseas ISIL member, planned to commit an armed attack against civilians at a restaurant/bar located in the Rochester, New York, area today, New Year’s Eve on behalf of ISIL and in furtherance of his plan to join ISIL overseas.

The defendant made an initial appearance this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marian W. Payson of the U.S. Western District of New York.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Rochester Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett A. Harvey with the assistance of Trial Attorney Lawrence Schneider of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

U.S. Department of Justice December 31, 2015
  • Office of Public Affairs (202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888

Coalition Sounds Warning on Growing Puerto Rico Debt Crisis and January 1st Default

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Debt Crisis Linked to Same Interest Rate Swap Deals Held by Illinois, Chicago, and Chicago Public Schools. Group Demands Immediate Financial Relief.

On the eve of Three Kings Day, a diverse coalition of groups including Puerto Rican community organizations, labor unions, and community activists are coming together to draw attention to the Puerto Rican debt crisis and the dire implications for Illinois, Puerto Rico, and working families across the country.

WHAT: Press conference calling on the federal government to intervene in the Puerto Rican debt crisis by providing financial relief and renegotiating with Wall Street creditors. Participants will also make connection between school closings in Puerto Rico and school closings in Chicago and point out how the same Wall Street banks and hedge funds that caused the crisis in Puerto Rico are setting up a parallel scenario in Illinois.

WHEN: TUESDAY, January 5th, 2016 4:00 p.m.

WHERE: Roberto Clemente Community Academy (front lobby), 1147 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

WHO:

Saqib Bhatti, Director of the ReFund America Project & Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute

Fernando Grillo, National Puerto Rican Agenda, Steering Committee Member

Carlos Rosa, 35th Ward Alderman

Maria Cosme, Chicago Teachers Union

Community leaders, social service providers, union members, and advocates.

WHY:  Together Wall Street Banks, Hedge Funds, and US Federal Policies have created an unsustainable fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico. The island’s dire financial situation can be seen in it’s recent January 1st default on a $36 million payment owed by the Infrastructure Financing Authority and a $1.4 million payment owed by the Public Finance Corporation. Without bankruptcy protection this default could trigger more disastrous austerity measures. Already Puerto Rico has laid off 30,000 public sector workers, jumped the sales tax from 7 to 11.5%, closed 150 schools and says it may have to close another 600 (nearly half of the 1,387 that currently remain) over the next five years.

Wall Street banks and hedge funds have attempted to profit from Puerto Rico’s financial woes by locking the island into predatory interest swap deals. These bad bank deals have cost Puerto Rico nearly $640 million. These are the same bad deals that many governmental entities found themselves locked into following the recession including the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, and State of Illinois. The City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools together have either already paid or owe Wall Street firms like Bank of America $1.2 billion for these interest rate swaps. The state of Illinois, despite not having a budget, is scheduled to pay over $588 million to Wall Street banks. Meanwhile many social service providers across the state continue to not be paid and Chicago Public Schools is threatening 5,000 teacher layoffs. From San Juan to Chicago we need our representatives to negotiate these bad banks deals.

Grassroots Collaborative is Action Now, American Friends Service Committee – Great Lakes Region, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Chicago Teachers Union, Enlace Chicago, Illinois Hunger Coalition, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, ONE Northside, Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois Indiana

Illinois State Board of Education Announces Jan. 6 Board Meeting Via Video Conference in Springfield and Chicago

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will convene for a regular business meeting via video conference on Jan. 6 at the ISBE offices in Springfield and Chicago.

All State Board of Education meetings listed on this agenda will be accessible to persons with disabilities. Persons planning to attend who need special accommodations should contact the Board office no later than one day prior to the meeting. Contact the Superintendent’s office at the State Board of Education by phone at (217) 782-2221; TTY/TDD at (217) 782-1900; or fax at (217) 785-3972.

Chairman Meeks may call for a break in the meeting as necessary in order for the Board to go into closed session.

 

State Board of Education Meeting

Jan. 6, 2016

 

Springfield Location:  ISBE Video Conference Room, third floor, 100 N. First St.

Chicago Location:  ISBE Video Conference Room, 14th floor, 100 W. Randolph St.

 

This meeting will also be audio cast on the Internet at  www.isbe.net.

 

10:30 a.m.

 

I.      Roll Call/Pledge of Allegiance

A.    Consideration of and Possible Actions on Any Requests for Participation in Meeting by Other Means                     

II.    Public Participation

III.   Resolutions & Recognition

A. Year of the Volunteer

IV.  Presentations & Updates

A. Student Advisory Council Update

V.      FY17 Budget Discussion                                                                                     

VI.  Superintendent’s Report – Consent Agenda

A. *Approval of Minutes

                1. Plenary Minutes: December 16, 2015B. *Rules for Adoption

            1. Part 1 (Public Schools Evaluation, Recognition and Supervision) Responds to two public acts: The first adds opioid antagonist to the medications that can be administered in an emergency situation by school nurses and other trained personnel (P.A. 99-480, effective September 9, 2015) and the other creates the educator license with stipulations endorsed for chief school business official (P.A. 99-58, effective July 16, 2015). No public comment was received.

            2. Part 25 (Educator Licensure) Makes numerous updates in response to recently enacted legislation that address requirements for certain educator licenses, alternative educator programs, and renewal, as well as proposes other updates and clarifications.  Three letters of public comment were received and no changes are being proposed in response.

            3. Part 425 (Voluntary Registration and Recognition of Nonpublic Schools) Responds to two public acts regarding the use of undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors and opioid antagonists and concussion policies (P.A. 99-480, effective September 9, 2015, and P.A. 99-245, effective August 3, 2015, respectively). No public comment was received.

4. Part 525 (Regional Offices of Education and Intermediate services) Aligns the rule to P.A. 99-30, effective July 10, 2015, which eliminated a requirement for the 10 smallest ROEs to work with a larger office in the delivery of services and program authorized under Section 2-3.62 of the School Code. No public comment was received.

C. *Draft Annual Report

End of Consent Agenda

VII. Discussion Items

          A. District Oversight Update

          B. Legislative Update

          C. Other Items for Discussion

VIII. FY17 Budget Recommendation

IX. Announcements & Reports                                                                                 

A. Superintendent’s/Senior Staff Announcements

B. Chairman’s Report

C. Member Reports

X.      Information Items

1.    ISBE Fiscal & Administrative Monthly Reports (available online at http://isbe.net/board/fiscal_admin_rep.htm)

XI.     Closed Session (as needed)

XII.   Adjourn

January Is Cervical Health Awareness Month

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – This January, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is observing Cervical Health Awareness Month to highlight issues related to cervical cancer, HPV disease, and the importance of early detection.

Cervical cancer forms in the tissues of the cervix (the lower, narrow end of the uterus or womb that connects the vagina or birth canal to the upper part of the uterus). Cervical cancer is almost always caused by infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). To highlight this link, IDPH received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a media campaign promoting the HPV vaccine across the state. This campaign will build upon the successful 2014 Chicago Department of Public Health 2014 campaign that helped to increase the percentage of Chicago teens (males and females) who received the HPV vaccine dramatically.

“We know that with routine screening, cervical cancer is highly preventable, and yet more than 4000 women were estimated to have lost their lives to cervical cancer in 2015,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “In addition to routine screening, I encourage women, along with adolescent girls, boys, and their parents to ask their health care provider about HPV vaccines, which are highly effective at preventing certain forms of HPV.”

Each year approximately 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer; of those, roughly 500 are Illinoisans. CDC reports that half of the cervical cancers occurred among women who are rarely or never screened for cervical cancer. There are often no noticeable symptoms of cervical cancer in its early stage, which is why it is important for women to be screened regularly. Symptoms usually develop when the cancer has become invasive and attacks nearby tissue. The most common symptom is abnormal vaginal bleeding. Although cervical cancer usually grows slowly, it can be detected with regular Pap tests (a procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix and looked at under a microscope).

The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) provides free cervical cancer screenings, pelvic exams, diagnostic services, and referrals to uninsured and under insured Illinois women 35 years and older, regardless of income. In 2015, IBCCP identified 290 cervical abnormalities with 16 cervical cancers, and, over the past five years, identified 170 cases of cervical cancer. Call the health line at 1-888-522-1282 for more information.

To learn more about cervical cancer, visit: National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Center for Diseases Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Ed Paschke Art Center presents Palazzolo’s Gritty City

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Photographs and films featuring four decades of Chicago’s citizens and landmarks go on view

 

CHICAGO, IL – The Ed Paschke Art Center (EPAC) is pleased to announce the opening of Gritty City, an exhibition of renowned multi-media artist Tom Palazzolo. His humorous and surreal work has been the subject of a solo exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago and screened at festivals around the world.
Palazzolo’s portrait photography and cinéma vérité documentaries on view in Gritty City span over fifty years of his career. They feature Chicagoan’s of every age, background and station in life alongside lost historic Chicago landmarks such as Riverview Amusement Park and Maxwell Street Market.
Beginning Monday, January 11, 2016 and running through March 6, 2016, the Ed Paschke Art Center (5415 W. Higgins Ave., Chicago IL) will exhibit over a dozen of Palazzolo’s iconic color and black and white photographs and five of his digitized 16mm films. His arresting portraits and dramatic tableaus of parades, festivals, fair grounds and open-air markets present the people and places of Chicago like you’ve never seen them before. EPAC will also be the inaugural venue to screen Palazzolo’s in-progress filmic documentary on Outsider Art’s grande dame Lee Godie. Gritty City is a raw, original look at Chicago, revealing Palazzolo’s dedication over a lifetime to, as he himself puts it, “truth, not beauty.”

Tom Palazzolo (b. 1937, St. Louis, MO) is a multi-media artist who makes films, photographs and paintings. He moved to Chicago from St. Louis in 1960 to attend The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he received his Masters in 1965. An informal mentor to generations of artists, Palazzolo is also professor emeritus at Columbia College and Daley City College. He has received grants from the The American Film Institute, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council. His films have screened at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Gene Siskel Film Center, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Lincoln Center, and the Walker Art Center among others. Palazzolo has participated in both national and international film festivals, and his work is represented in the film collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

“Tom Palazzolo was a classmate and friend of many of the Chicago Imagists, including Ed Paschke,” said Vesna Stelcer, chair of the Ed Paschke Foundation. “Tom is a local legend and we’re thrilled to share his Gritty City with viewers.”
About The Ed Paschke Art Center
The mission of the Ed Paschke Art Center (EPAC) is to preserve and provide public access to the work of the legendary Ed Paschke; to serve as an educational resource for youth, adults, artists and academics; and to function as an accessible platform for artists to showcase their work.
Located in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood, EPAC opened June 22, 2014, almost ten years after the artist’s death, on what would have been his 75th birthday. Built in tribute to Chicago’s most famous artist, EPAC provides permanent access to the world’s largest public collection of Paschke’s work. EPAC houses 2,800 square feet of gallery space and 1,700 square feet of educational space, alongside a re­imagination of Ed Paschke’s 2004 studio.
The Ed Paschke Art Center is free and open to the public seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information call 312.533.4911 or visit our website.

Photo Caption: Tattooed Lady, Riverview Amusement Park, 1967

Digital print from 35mm slide
 

 

Owner of Three Los Angeles Clinics Sentenced to 78 Months in Prison for Medicare Fraud

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

The former owner and operator of three medical clinics located in Los Angeles was sentenced today to 78 months in prison for his role in a scheme that submitted more than $4.5 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California, Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich of the FBI’s Los Angeles Division and Special Agent in Charge Chris Schrank of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Region made the announcement.

Hovik Simitian, 48, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud on Aug. 18, 2015, and was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell of the Central District of California, who also ordered Simitian to pay $1,668,559 in restitution to Medicare.

Simitian owned and operated Columbia Medical Group Inc., Life Care Medical Clinic and Safe Health Medical Clinic, three medical clinics in Los Angeles.  In connection with his guilty plea, Simitian admitted that from approximately February 2010 through June 2014, he and his co-conspirators paid illegal cash kickbacks to patient recruiters who brought Medicare beneficiaries to the clinics.  Simitian also admitted that he and his co-conspirators then billed Medicare for lab tests and other services that were not medically necessary or were not actually provided to the Medicare beneficiaries, which they supported with false documentation they created.  Simitian admitted that he submitted a total of $4,526,791 in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicare paid $1,668,559 on those claims.

The FBI and HHS-OIG investigated the case, which was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California.  Trial Attorneys Blanca Quintero and Alexander F. Porter of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged over 2,300 defendants who collectively have billed the Medicare program for over $7 billion.  In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

Steppenwolf Presents the Chicago Premiere Production of The Flick

Posted by Admin On January - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

The Flick, written by Annie Baker and directed by Dexter Bullard, premieres February 4 – May 8, 2006
2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Drama

 

CHICAGO, IL Steppenwolf Theatre Company presents the Chicago premiere of Annie Baker’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, The Flick. Under the direction of Dexter Bullard, who also directed the Chicago premiere of Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation, the cast features Danny McCarthy, Caroline Neff and Travis Turner as the three hapless employees of The Flick movie house. Previews begin February 4 (opening night is February 14; press performances are Saturday, February 13 at 3pm and Tuesday, February 16 at 7:30pm) and runs through May 8, 2016 in Steppenwolf’s Upstairs Theatre (1650 N Halsted St). Tickets ($20 – $89) are available through Audience Services (1650 N Halsted), 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org.

Three underpaid employees sweep up stale popcorn in a run-down movie house called The Flick, one of the last theaters in Massachusetts still projecting 35mm films. For Avery, this isn’t a dead-end job. It’s a way to get closer to the art form he loves. Passionate debates about cinema lead to a friendship of sorts with co-workers Sam and Rose. But will their tentative bond survive as they reveal what they actually need from each other? The Flick is a heartfelt cry for the kind of authentic connection we all want, even if we’re a little afraid of it.

“What double fortune to return to Steppenwolf and to return to directing Annie Baker’s luminous writing.  Steppenwolf’s attention to excellence in acting and artistic detail will be a terrific match to Annie’s consummate and imaginative theater,” shares director Dexter Bullard. “After my engaging, emotional and hilarious experience working on Circle Mirror Transformation in 2011, coming to The Flick at Steppenwolf is even more exciting.”

Annie Baker received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Susan Smith Blackburn Award and Obie Award for Playwriting for The Flick, which premiered at Playwrights Horizons in 2013. The show was remounted at the Barrow Street Theater in May 2015 and will end its eight-month run this January. Most recently her hit play John, featuring Steppenwolf ensemble member Lois Smith, enjoyed an extended run at Signature Theatre. Other notable works by Baker include The Aliens (Obie Award for Best New American Play), Body Awareness and Circle Mirror Transformation (Obie Award for Best New American Play), which Dexter Bullard directed at Victory Gardens Theater in 2011.

Dexter Bullard
has strong ties with Steppenwolf, having directed ensemble member Tracy Letts’s Bug at the Barrow Street Theater, for which he received the 2004 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Direction Off-Broadway. He has directed for Steppenwolf’s First Look Repertory of New Work in 2006 and 2013. Recent directing credits include the critically acclaimed production of Sucker Punch at Victory Gardens Theater, Big Meal at American Theatre Company and Craig Wright’s Grace at Northlight Theatre. He is the head of Graduate Acting and Showcase Artistic Director with The Theatre School at DePaul University.

The complete cast for The Flick includes Will Allan as Skylar/The Dreaming Man, Danny McCarthy as Sam, Caroline Neff as Rose and Travis Turner as Avery. Caroline Neff performed in last season’s critically acclaimed premiere Airline Highway by Lisa D’Amour at Steppenwolf and on Broadway. She is an ensemble member at Steep Theatre Company, and was voted the 2015 Chicago Readers’ Pick for “Best Actress.” Will Allan performed in the sold-out run of Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ production of George Orwell’s Animal Farm last season. Danny McCarthy, a longtime company member of A Red Orchid Theatre, last performed at Steppenwolf in Middletown in 2011. His television credits include Prison Break, ER and Chicago Fire, and film credits include Fred Claus, Stranger Than Fiction and Transformers 3. Travis Turner, who most recently performed in Second City’s Let Them Eat Chaos, makes his Steppenwolf debut.

The production team includes Jack Magaw (scenic design), Alison Siple (costume design), Keith Parham (lighting design) and Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (sound design). Additional credits include Jessamyn Fuller (casting); Christine D. Freeburg (stage manager) and Jonathan Nook (assistant stage manager).

Single tickets to The Flick are available through Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St), 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org: Previews: $20 – $54 and Regular Run: $20 – $89. Prices subject to change. 20 for $20: twenty $20 tickets are available through Audience Services beginning at 11am on the day of each performance (1pm for Sunday performances). Rush Tickets: half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show. Student Discounts: a limited number of $15 student tickets are available online. Limit 2 tickets per student; must present a valid student ID for each ticket. For additional student discounts, visit steppenwolf.org/students. Group Tickets: all groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance throughout the season. For additional information, visit steppenwolf.org/groups. For subscription packages and flexible pass options available, call 312-335-1650. Steppenwolf Pass: Passes are currently on-sale. Good for either 3 or 5 credits  to use for any show in the 15/16 Subscription season. To purchase a 2015/16 pass, visit Audience Services at 1650 N Halsted St, call 312-335-1650 or visit steppenwolf.org.

Accessible performances include an American Sign Language interpretation on Sunday, April 10 at 7:30pm, Open Captioning on Saturday, April 16 at 3pm and an Audio Description and Touch Tour on Sunday, May 1 (1:30 touch tour; audio-described performance at 3pm). For more information, visit steppenwolf.org/access.

Full performance schedule included at end of the release. Curtain times are Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30pm; Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3pm and Wednesday matinees at 2pm on April 20, April 27 and May 4. There are no Sunday 7:30 performances on April 24, May 1 or May 8.

Ameriprise Financial, PEAK6 and Razorfish are the Corporate Production Sponsors of The Flick.

Steppenwolf’s 2015/16 Subscription Season
includes the world premiere adaptation of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, adapted by ensemble member Frank Galati, directed by co-founder Terry Kinney (September 17 – November 15, 2015); the Chicago premiere of Domesticated written and directed by ensemble member Bruce Norris (December 3, 2015 – February 7, 2016); the Chicago premiere of The Flick by Annie Baker, directed by Dexter Bullard (February 4 – May 8, 2016); the world premiere of Mary Page Marlowe by ensemble member Tracy Letts, directed by Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro (March 31 – May 29, 2016); and the Chicago premiere of Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis, directed by ensemble member Yasen Peyankov (June 23 – August 21, 2016).

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is America’s longest standing, most distinguished ensemble theater, producing nearly 700 performances and events annually in its three Chicago theater spaces—the 515-seat Downstairs Theatre, the 299-seat Upstairs Theatre and the 80-seat Garage Theatre. Formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, Steppenwolf has grown into an ensemble of 44 actors, writers and directors. Artistic programming at Steppenwolf includes a five-play Subscription Season, a two-play Steppenwolf for Young Adults season, First Look, a new play development series and Visiting Company engagements. While firmly grounded in the Chicago community, nearly 40 original Steppenwolf productions have enjoyed success both nationally and internationally, including Off-Broadway, Broadway, London, Sydney, Galway and Dublin. Steppenwolf has the distinction of being the only theater to receive the National Medal of Arts, in addition to numerous other prestigious honors including an Illinois Arts Legend Award and 12 Tony Awards. Anna D. Shapiro is the Artistic Director and David Schmitz is the Managing Director. Nora Daley is Chair of Steppenwolf’s Board of Trustees. For additional information, visit www.steppenwolf.org, facebook.com/steppenwolftheatre and twitter.com/steppenwolfthtr.

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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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