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Archive for March 10th, 2016

Sanders Sues in Ohio to Protect Young and Minority Voters

Posted by Admin On March - 10 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS


DETROIT – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign on Tuesday sued Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted in federal court over his unconstitutional attempt to block young voters from casting ballots in the state’s March 15 presidential primary election.

“It is an outrage that the secretary of state in Ohio is going out of his way to keep young people – significantly African-American young people, Latino young people – from participating,” Sanders said.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ohio, along with six Ohio 17-year-olds seeking to vote in next week’s presidential primary in the Buckeye State. It alleges that Husted’s directive would “arbitrarily discriminate” against young voters, who U.S. census data show are more heavily African American and Latino than older groups of voters.

The legal action seeking injunctive relief against the secretary of state was announced by Sanders at a plane-side news conference before a flight from Michigan to Florida. “I want to do everything that I can to encourage people to participate. Unfortunately, in the state of Ohio there is an effort by the secretary of state to do exactly the opposite,” Sanders said.

Ohio is among more than 20 states where 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by the general election in November are allowed to vote in primaries. Last December, however, the secretary of state decided the young voters were ineligible to participate in the presidential primary. The lawsuit contends that action discriminates against minorities. It also says that the secretary of state’s actions violate the Due Process and Equal Protection provisions of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Former Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner, who ran against Husted for secretary of state, said Ohio law is clear that 17-year-olds may vote in presidential primaries. “We should be encouraging young people to get involved in elections, not shutting them out,” she said. “I’m proud that Sen. Sanders is leading the fight to protect the voting rights of all Ohioans.”

“A lot of people talk about voting rights. Sen. Sanders is walking the walk, not just talking the talk,” said Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager.

Sanders has encouraged young people to get involved in the political process and has drawn large numbers of young supporters to his campaign for president. “What every political scientist understands is that you engage young people in the political process there is a strong likelihood that they will continue to vote. I am determined to do everything that I can to increase voter turnout, to involve young people in the people of process,” he said.

To read the lawsuit, click here.

Jones Legislation Eases the Pain of College Debt

Posted by Admin On March - 10 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Illinois State Senator Emil Jones III, (D-Chicago) recently introduced legislation that helps college students who are facing financial hardships. The measure, Senate Bill 2941, prohibits universities and community colleges from denying a student from registering for classes and prohibits them from refusing to issue a transcript to a student because of and outstanding debt owed to the university.

Senator Jones offered the following comments:

“Currently, our governor’s inaction on the budget has forced over 150,000 students out of Monetary Awards Programs (MAP) grants, which provides qualified students with tuition assistance,” said Senator Jones. “Since this MAP grant funding hasn’t been enacted, many students weren’t able to register for classes or get copies of their transcripts for other scholarships, pushing intended graduation dates back even further for many students.

“We also have a population of job seekers who need their transcripts to show potential employers that they’re qualified for good-paying jobs. Without access to their transcripts, recent graduates are often skipped over and relegated to a situation where they can’t pay and outstanding debt to the school they graduated from.”

“Our Lives Matter, Our Votes Count”: NAACP Announces 2016 Convention Theme

Posted by Admin On March - 10 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Recipient of 101st Spingarn Medal is Ohio native

 

CINCINNATI – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) today unveiled the theme for its 2016 National Convention to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 16-20.  Thousands of NAACP members are expected to attend this year’s convention under the theme, “Our Lives Matter, Our Votes Count.”  The NAACP’s 107th National Convention will feature workshops, discussions and speakers highlighting voter education, voter protection and voter mobilization.

“When the right of every citizen to vote is under threat in states across the nation, we must join together to respond and be heard,” Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the NAACP’s National Board of Directors.  “In towns and cities across this country, we are witnessing a new era of activism as a new generation rises to stand against police brutality and for the right to be heard in our democracy.  We must harness that desire to be heard and mobilize our members to protect the vote and to get out the vote.”

The convention theme was announced Tuesday in Cincinnati with city officials, and marks a return to the city by the NAACP in a presidential election year. The 2008 convention in Cincinnati drew thousands of visitors, as well as appearances by presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.

“We are proud to once again have the opportunity to provide the backdrop for the NAACP’s National Convention, especially during such an important election year filled with impassioned political debates that strike at the core of civil rights issues in our country,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. “I look forward to being part of what promises to be a memorable convention and a thought-leading event for the country this year.”

In addition to appearances by presidential candidates and other top national leaders, delegates from the organization’s more than 2,000 branches and chapters will debate resolutions for national action and discuss ways the organization can continue to advocate for criminal justice and economic reforms, protecting the right to vote and other issues.

“The 2008 NAACP National Convention marked a critical turning point in our region’s history,” said Dan Lincoln, president and CEO, CincinnatiUSA.  “By working together, we were able to bring important conversations to the table and change our destination’s narrative. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to do that again this summer, especially during such a critical election year.”

The convention overlaps with the 2016 Republican National Convention scheduled July 18-21 in nearby Cleveland.

The NAACP convention will also include celebrity appearances, community-based events and seminars with top activists, as well as the national competition of the NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) program.

NAACP officials also announced Tuesday that Ohio native and retired Judge Nathaniel R. Jones will be the recipient of the 101st Annual Spingarn Medal, recognizing him for his commitment equality and civil rights.

Jones, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, served as general counsel for the NAACP from 1969 to 1979 and later worked with Nelson Mandela and the post-apartheid South African government as they drafted the nation’s new constitution in 1993.

“Judge Jones’ commitment to civil rights and social action embodies the spirit and mission of the NAACP,” said Leon W. Russell, vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors.  “His efforts to end school segregation, defend affirmative action and his continued work as a federal judge deserves the NAACP’s highest honor.”

The Spingarn Medal is named for former NAACP Joel Elias Spingarn, an early founder of the NAACP who served as chairman, treasurer and president of the organization from 1913 until his death in 1939. The medal is awarded annually to a person of African descent for outstanding achievement. Past awardees have included Sidney Poitier, Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, Langston Hughes and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

More information on the NAACP’s 2016 National Convention can be found at www.naacpconvention.org.

FBI Marks Nine Years Since Disappearance of Retired Agent

Posted by Admin On March - 10 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

It was nine years ago today that retired FBI Special Agent Robert A. “Bob”Levinson went missing on Kish Island in Iran. He is the longest held hostage in U.S. history.

Levinson was a special agent for 22 years before retiring in 1998. He turns 68 tomorrow, March 10.

In a statement released today, the FBI said it continues to work closely with the intelligence community and international partners to locate Levinson and bring him home.

“We are encouraged by recent cooperation between the Government of Iran and the United States, and believe that our ability to locate Bob and reunite him with his family requires a shared commitment by the Iranian government,” the statement said.
Last year, the FBI increased the reward to $5 million for information leading to Levinson’s return. A webpage, www.fbi.gov/levinson, includes photographs, video, and more detailed information about the case.
Director Comey today reiterated the FBI’s commitment to finding Levinson.
“Nine years is an incomprehensible amount of time for him to be missing without any word of his whereabouts,” said Comey. “The FBI family feels personally connected to ensuring Bob’s safe return and we are doing everything in our power to investigate all leads.”
– FBI Statement on the Ninth Anniversary of the Disappearance of Robert A. Levinson
– Statement by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
– More information

 

Photo Caption: Paul Abbate (right), assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Miami FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro address a rally on behalf of Robert Levinson March 5, 2016, in Miami.
Source: FBI

Journalist Sues to Get Police & State’s Attorney Records of Laquan McDonald Shooting Investigations

Posted by Admin On March - 10 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL — The independent journalist who forced the release of the infamous Laquan McDonald police shooting video has sued Chicago Police, the Independent Police Review Authority, and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to force release of their investigations into the police killing of the 17-year-old.

The suits were filed on behalf of independent journalist Brandon Smith, who along with journalist Jamie Kalven, previously helped force the public release of the notorious police dashcam video showing Officer Jason Van Dyke fire 16 shots into McDonald.

Smith is represented by attorney Matt Topic of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, and Craig Futterman of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic of the University of Chicago Law School, who were also his attorneys in the Freedom of Information Act suit that forced the release of the police shooting video. “Despite our repeated good faith efforts to get the information from the CPD, IPRA, and the State’s Attorney’s Office without litigation, we have been met with obfuscations and brick walls,” said Topic.

“The public has a right to know why Chicago Police, IPRA, and State’s Attorney Alvarez responded so slowly to the police misconduct and lawbreaking evident in the video,” said Smith. “What was their thought process in doing so? Would they have ever instituted any oversight, let alone criminal proceedings, but for the forced release of the video?”

“Public access to information about the actions of our public officials, elected and otherwise, is precisely the circumstance our state’s FOIA law was designed for, especially when the government takes a life,” said Topic. “Apparently that message still is not being heard.”

Copies of the suit can be found here and here.

Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms, and over the past decade has won more multi-million dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the entire country.

The mission of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic of the University of Chicago Law School is to teach students effective advocacy skills, professional ethics, and the effect of legal institutions on the poor; to examine and apply legal theory while serving as advocates for people typically denied access to justice; and to reform legal education and the legal system to be more responsive to the interests of the poor.

Preckwinkle Unveils Public Safety Legislative Agenda

Posted by Admin On March - 10 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
Proposals aim to roll back decades of failed criminal justice policies

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today announced her 2016 public safety legislative agenda that will create a fairer and more just criminal and juvenile justice system.

Together with legislative sponsors of and key partners who support the bills highlighted in the President’s agenda, County Commissioners and other local elected officials, Preckwinkle addressed a large crowd of social service providers, advocates, faith-based leaders, and community residents at the AFC Center, 7859 S. Ashland, Chicago.

Preckwinkle hailed the legislative package as a significant step in rolling back 30 years of failed tough-on-crime policies that have torn apart communities of color and failed to improve public safety. The agenda focuses on:

·         Restoring judicial discretion for non-violent offenses by ending mandatory prison sentences and narrowing the scope of sentence enhancements;
·         Treating drug abuse as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue;
·         Bringing juvenile justice laws in line with research and best practices;
·         And giving the opportunity for second chances to juveniles sentenced as adults to lengthy prison sentences.

Preckwinkle said these changes will help to reduce the state prison population, and produce better outcomes for individuals, families and communities, while improving public safety.

“I am grateful to Sen. Kwame Raoul; Rep. Elaine Nekritz, the Assistant House Majority Leader; and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, the House Majority Leader, for their leadership on these important pieces of legislation, and to the ACLU, the Cook County Public Defender and Restore Justice Illinois for their partnership,” Preckwinkle said.

“It is undeniable that the war on drugs and attacks on judicial discretion through tough-on-crime policies have failed. They have destroyed communities, particularly communities of color, wasted state and county resources by filling our jails and prisons, and ignored research and evidence about what works. These bills are a significant step in reversing those failed policies.”

The legislative agenda, and the sponsors, for this year consists of four bills:

• SB 3292 (Raoul) Once amended, will:
o Make residential burglary, second and subsequent Class 2 felonies, and certain drug violations probationable (per the recommendation of the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform).
o Create misdemeanor-level possession of a controlled substance offense for 1 gram or under.
o Narrow the scope of the Class X sentence enhancement for repeat offenders to focus primarily on violent crimes.
• HB 6290 (Nekritz). Would ban commitment of juveniles to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice for any offense under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act.
• HB 6291 (Nekritz). Would end mandatory 5-year probation for juveniles for Class X and Forcible Felonies.
• HB 2470 (Currie). Would provide periodic judicial review of sentences for anyone sentenced to 40 years or more as a juvenile in adult court.

Reform of the County’s public safety system is a key component of President Preckwinkle’s policy agenda. Since she took office in 2010, Preckwinkle has successfully worked to institute major changes in bond court that have resulted in a 20 percent reduction in the number of County Jail detainees, invested millions in community-based programming to reduce violence and recidivism and keep people out of the system, worked with the Legislature to dramatically decrease the automatic transfer of youth to adult court, and overseen the end of a federal monitor at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

“As a member of the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, I have studied these issues extensively. I have seen the data and I know the need to act while the time is right. I look forward to enacting these reforms for the betterment of all citizens of Illinois,” said Sen. Raoul who sponsored Automatic Transfer reform in the Senate last session.

“I’m proud to continue working with President Preckwinkle and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice to restore integrity to our juvenile justice system,” said Rep. Nekritz, who sponsored Automatic Transfer reform in the House last year. “This legislative package focuses on right-sizing the juvenile justice system and matching youths with the appropriate services outside of incarceration.”

Rep. Currie, who has led the effort to reform harsh sentences for juveniles for many years, said, “I am glad to have President Preckwinkle as a partner in this long-fought effort. Providing a youthful offender the opportunity for sentence review recognizes that a child who commits a crime is not the same as an adult who commits a crime. Children are not fully formed; they will grow, mature and change.”

Preckwinkle pointed out that most of the proposals being offered are not necessarily new ideas, but have been discussed before and offered by many different groups.
It is the political will, public opinion and the lack of faith in the system within many communities that makes this an opportune time to act, Preckwinkle said, which is why she is working to build an organized coalition of stakeholders to move these reforms forward.

Dozens of organizations that were represented at the event have signed on in support of the agenda with more expected.

“We will need collective action to get this done and I plan to work with anyone who is willing to see these reforms through,” she said.

Writer Demetrius Walker Says the Media and Others Should Use an Uppercase “B” for Black People

Posted by Admin On March - 10 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Launches CapitalizeTheB.com to Change Grammar Rules

Demetrius Walker

Houston, TX (BlackNews.com) — Writer, Demetrius Walker, has launched CapitalizeTheB.com, a website that calls for all media, schools, and others to use an uppercase B when referring to Black people.
Walker believes the B in Black should always be capitalized to acknowledge the people of the African Diaspora (more than 1 Billion people). By definition, black with a lowercase b is merely a color in a crayon box; Black represents culture and people. “Writing about Black people with a lowercase b is therefore insulting,” he says.
He adds, The absence of light is black; this does not define my people. We are Black – connected by rhythm, roots, and a light that cannot be extinguished.
CapitalizeTheB.com serves as the launching pad for a social media movement designed to raise awareness of the incorrect grammatical usage of the lowercase b as currently written to denote Black people. The site encourages people to follow its Twitter and Instagram pages, while also referring people to professor Lori L.

 

 

Tharps petition to the New York Times and AP stylebook.
For more details, visit www.CapitalizeTheB.com

 

 

Photo: Demetrius Walker, public speaker and writer

Thumbtack Advocates for Skilled Professionals in the Gig Economy

Posted by Admin On March - 10 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

New Report: Beyond the Gig Economy: How New Technologies are Reshaping the Future of Work Offers Provocative Assessment of the On-Demand Workforce

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Thumbtack, America’s largest online professional services marketplace, released a new original report: “Beyond the Gig Economy: How New Technologies are Reshaping the Future of Work.” It features a provocative assessment of the current gig economy, a glimpse into the workforce of the future, and some specific policy recommendations to support the emerging class of small business owners and entrepreneurs.

“Popular discussions about the gig economy have focused on the proliferation of on-demand, low-skilled jobs such as Uber drivers and Instacart shoppers, consisting mostly of people looking to earn extra income, but who are not building a lifelong career or achieving long term economic stability,” said Marco Zappacosta, founder and CEO of Thumbtack. “But technology is also transforming work for individuals and small businesses, creating unprecedented opportunity for a growing class of skilled professionals. This new report from Thumbtack addresses how skilled professionals are redefining work and changing the face of the American middle class, and what we need to do to help them succeed.”

The report draws on Thumbtack’s proprietary data from tens of thousands of small businesses, as well as the latest economic data, labor statistics and forecasts.

Thumbtack features more than 200,000 “skilled professionals” – individuals who use their vocational skills and passion to build long term, self-sustaining careers – that generated more than $1 billion in business last year across all 50 states. Skilled professionals include everything from carpenters and electricians, to tutors, to personal chefs and massage therapists.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • The low-skilled gig economy job is unsustainable, but skilled professionals have skills that have the advantage of being difficult to outsource and resistant to automation.
  • It is easier and cheaper than ever for skilled professionals to take part in the gig economy. Technology solutions like Thumbtack and new laws like the Affordable Care Act have removed obstacles that previously prevented many people from starting their own businesses.
  • Skilled professionals report higher job satisfaction. 84% of skilled professionals surveyed “love what they do”, versus a Gallup survey of the general working population found that only 29% of Americans said they were “engaged” at work.
  • Skilled professionals can earn higher pay. Because they are operating under their own brands, and negotiating their own prices, skilled professionals can work for rates that work for them. Skilled professionals without a college education report gross revenues for their business that are up to $20,000 higher than the median income of other similarly educated workers. Because they are working full time, they tend to earn more than the part-time income of their low-skilled gig economy counterparts.
  • Skilled professionals overall have better job opportunities. While the commodity-focused gig economy exists primarily in major metropolitan areas, skilled professional marketplaces are growing and thriving in every pocket of the country. Moreover, online professional marketplaces such as Thumbtack allow skilled professionals to grow their business more than before (on average 20% more), by connecting them to customers and assisting them with marketing services.
  • Skilled professionals are career-focused, not “gig” focused. Two-thirds of skilled professional respondents revealed they are using technology-powered marketplaces to build and grow their primary business (vs. people who are doing this work to earn extra pocket money).
“The skilled professional is the real future of the gig economy and is a sharp contrast from the low-skilled ‘gigs’ that currently receive so much media attention,” continued Mr. Zappacosta. “It is important that policy makers, tech companies, and workers come together in support of this growing class of small businesses and individual entrepreneurs.”
The Thumbtack report concludes with specific policy recommendations to support the skilled professionals, including minimizing regulatory barriers and complex tax policies, strengthening the social safety net, and creating more opportunities and incentives for vocational training. The full report is available via Thumbtack Journal.

About Thumbtack

Thumbtack (www.thumbtack.com) is an online service that connects consumers with skilled professionals to get things done. More than 200,000 professionals, ranging from handymen and housekeepers, to tutors, photographers, wedding planners and more, use Thumbtack to connect with millions of customers, collectively generating more than $1 billion in annual business across all 50 states. Founded in 2009 and headquartered in San Francisco, Thumbtack is backed by Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global Management, Javelin Investment Partners, Baillie Gifford, and Google Capital.

Comptroller Munger Urges Taxpayers to Register for Illinois Tax Refund Alert System

Posted by Admin On March - 10 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Comptroller’s tax refund insert outlines government spending, revenues

 

CHICAGO, IL – As her office begins issuing state income tax refunds, Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger urged taxpayers to register online to check the status of their refunds and sign up for text message and email payment notifications.

 

The easy-to-use Tax Refund Alert System allows taxpayers to visit myrefund.illinoiscomptroller.gov and enter their name and Social Security Number to see if the Comptroller’s Office has processed their refund. Taxpayers also can enter an email address and phone number to receive a notification when the payment has been made.

 

In addition, Munger announced her office will include inserts with all tax refunds detailing where the State of Illinois spent $35.6 billion in 2015, information on the state’s bill backlog, and other tools to help taxpayers learn about state and local finances. Those who receive their tax refunds through Direct Deposit may view the tax insert digitally if they register for the Tax Refund Alert System.

 

“Taxpayers deserve to know when they will receive their tax refunds. By visiting myrefund.illinoiscomptroller.gov and registering for our tax refund alert system, they can track the status of their refund while monitoring where the state government spends their tax dollars,” Munger said. “The Comptroller’s Office will continue to focus on making government more efficient, transparent, and accessible while offering taxpayer-friendly tools to help our citizens follow the money.”

Not Funding TCART is Costing the Black Community Hundreds of Jobs

Posted by Admin On March - 10 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
 

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The budget impasse continues to hurt the black community as job programs that lift families out of poverty and provide good-paying jobs have ended operations.

Without a budget the Transportation Construction Apprenticeship Readiness Training (TCART) program, which provides minorities, disadvantaged people and women with access and training to work in the highway construction trades is no longer functioning.

“The governor’s political battle over his turnaround agenda is killing jobs and opportunities for young black males in communities across the state,” Senator Emil Jones III, chairman of the Senate Black Caucus. “I just find it particularly interesting that the governor is willing to let successful job programs suffer, but cut deals to find funding for downstate prisons.”

As of May 15, 2015, the TCART program had generated 340 jobs for African Americans, women and the disadvantaged. The average hourly wage for participants is nearly $17 per hour, with more than 41 percent of those hired earning between $16 and $43 per hour.

“I believe government should be focused on trying to solve programs,” said Representative Marcus Evans (D-Chicago). “Bringing more income into the state through business growth and developing neighborhoods is the key to sustainable results. This governor talks about turning this state around – this program takes us in the direction of doing just that.”

The budget impasse has lasted an unprecedented eight months and is having devastating effects on the Black Community. It’s time for action.

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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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