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Archive for March 11th, 2016

In Heated Contest for Cook County State’s Attorney, Latinos and Immigrants Urge Community to Fire Anita!

Posted by Admin On March - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

A group of Latino immigrant families and community members will be leading canvassing efforts in Pilsen and Little Village to inform members of the community of the hyper-criminalization and abuses of power incurred against Black and Latino communities under Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’ administration.

Latino/a activists, community members and immigrant families will hold the informational canvass Saturday, March 12 from 12-2 PM. Meet-up at corner of 18th and Loomis Street (Plaza Tenochtitlan)

They say Latinos and immigrant communities are subject to the abuse of multiple actors, not just Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). Offices like the State Attorney’s and local police play an important role in the criminalization of our communities and often times participate in the carrying out of harmful and destabilizing immigration policies.

Immigrant and Latino communities are not unaffected by the upcoming election for Cook County State’s Attorney. It is crucial that immigrant and Latino communities work to support Black-led efforts aimed at holding Anita Alvarez accountable. Alvarez’s administration has contributed to the increased hyper-criminalization and increased incarceration of black and brown communities, particularly black and latino/a youth, and has demonstrated consistent failure to prosecute law enforcement officers even when they kill, abuse, and sexually assault black and brown people. On March 15, when the election contest closes, Latino and immigrant communities should make informed decisions and say #ByeAnita.  

City of Chicago Takes Action on Delinquent Businesses to Stop Unlawful Tobacco Sales

Posted by Admin On March - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

 

Tobacco Enforcement Units Conducting Raids across the City to Ensure Safe and Lawful Business Practice Across All Neighborhoods

 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced the results of recent investigations into illegal tobacco sales in Chicago, following an expansion to the City’s enforcement units to more aggressively intervene in businesses selling tobacco products illegally. In the last few weeks alone, City tobacco enforcement units have uncovered 192 violations, resulting in the seizure of 797 packs of unstamped cigarettes from delinquent businesses. The 136 investigations and subsequent actions announced today are a direct result of the expansion of the Mayor’s tobacco enforcement units.

“Enforcement of legal tobacco sales in our city will not only help keep our neighborhoods safer, but will prevent unlawful and harmful tobacco products from falling into the hands of our children.” said Mayor Emanuel. “By cracking down on businesses for illegally selling products, our goal is to avoid black market activity that is plaguing some of our neighborhoods, and to help our youth develop healthy lifestyles.”

The Tobacco Unit—a joint partnership between the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) and the Chicago Police Department (CPD)—was developed to enforce illegal tobacco sales and crack down on all illegal tobacco activity. By working closely with CPD Vice and the Bureau of Patrol, BACP is able to make a stronger case to cripple problem business activity.

 

Since actions were taken to double down on enforcement last month, including the implementation of a new unit on February 10th, the Tobacco Unit conducted 136 illegal tobacco sales investigations which resulted in:

·         51 businesses found in violation

·         192 tobacco tickets (23 tickets for unstamped cigarettes, 12 tickets for single cigarettes and 157 tickets for various tobacco related violations)

·          797 packs of unstamped cigarettes confiscated

“Our investigators are familiar with the problems establishments that often hide contraband. By adding the additional teams to scour the streets and business for this harmful and illegal activity, this will hopefully deter this type of behavior as it not only hurts the community but also hurts responsible business,” said BACP Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek.

During this same time period, investigators followed up on a resident complaint into sales of unstamped and single cigarettes in the 3rd Ward. With the assistance of CPD, investigators found 172 packs of unstamped cigarettes and 20 single cigarettes (a.k.a. “loosies”) for sale, which resulted in 12 citations.

“Illegal tobacco sales are a major funding source of street gangs,” said CPD Chief of Patrol, Eddie Johnson. “By enforcing the legal sale of tobacco we’re using another tool in our arsenal to keep Chicago’s neighborhoods safer.”

The enhanced Tobacco Unit has also begun focusing its efforts into cases identified by a recent uptick in 311 calls and target businesses in areas where repeat offenders are more likely to illegally sell. For repeat offenders, investigators are able to revoke licensure, and/or impart a one-year tobacco sales ban on the location and business owner in violation. In the past year alone, BACP has revoked 38 tobacco licenses due to violations. 

BACP and CPD have begun working with aldermen to address complaints about loose tobacco sales both on the streets and at businesses.

In addition to providing aldermen with regular reports about unlawful tobacco activity in their wards, a new subcommittee will also review existing City protocol on loose tobacco sales and identify opportunities for improvement. These investments in enforcement and to deter illegal tobacco activity are being supported in part by revenue generated by other tobacco products tax.

BACP enforces and writes violations for both the Cook County and City of Chicago Codes relating to unstamped cigarette sales. The fine for unstamped cigarette sales was increased from $1,000 to $2,000 for 1-40 packs of, plus $50 per pack for 41 or more packs.

“Increasing violation for offenses is an important deterrent for repeat offenders on breaking the law as this hits their pocket book,” added Commissioner Guerra Lapacek.

 

In addition to laying the groundwork for better coordination and enforcement efforts citywide to crack down on illegal tobacco sales, the tobacco prevention ordinance also seeks to increase penalties by classifying repeat offenses of illegal tobacco sales as a criminal penalty for up to six months imprisonment.

Following the introduction of the tobacco prevention ordinance this year, the Emanuel Administration worked closely with aldermen to strengthen the ordinance and to combat illegal tobacco sales. City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance at its March 2016 meeting.


More about the BACP and the Citywide Tobacco Unit:

BACP licenses the sale of tobacco products in Chicago, and is the lead agency for helping businesses and residents to understand new and existing regulations for tobacco sales.

The Citywide Tobacco Unit, a collaboration between BACP and CPD, investigates violations of Tobacco Sale to Minor, Selling Individual Cigarettes, also known as ‘singles and loosies,’ Unlawful Concealment, Retail Recordkeeping Requirement, Inspection Interference, and Failure to Display Tobacco to Minors Warning Sign. To report the sale of unstamped cigarettes, call 311 or visit www.CheckTheStamps.org

Madigan Announces Consumer Top 10 Complaints List, Files Another Student Loan Debt Lawsuit

Posted by Admin On March - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
 

Education-related complaints make list of top consumer issues in 2015

 

 

CHICAGO, IL — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced her office’s annual top 10 consumer complaints for 2015 that again show consumer debt and identity theft ranked as the top concerns among Illinois consumers in the last year. Another pervasive issue has made the list for the first time – education-related complaints as student borrowers grapple with mounting student loan debt, issues with loan servicers and predatory for-profit schools. To further address these issues, Madigan also announced a lawsuit against another student loan debt relief scam.

“Unfortunately students who are saddled with crushing debt and who have been misled from achieving their goals submit regular complaints to my office,” Attorney General Madigan said. “Too many students are unable to build the futures they worked so hard to achieve, and my office will continue to combat the many scams targeting these students.”

Madigan’s office received 25,094 complaints in 2015. For the eighth year in a row, consumer debt ranked as the top complaint, with 3,350 complaints involving issues such as mortgage lending, abusive debt collection practices and predatory payday loans. Number two on the list also for the eighth year in a row is identity theft, with 2,636 complaints.

Education-related complaints now rank number seven, reflecting the growing student loan debt crisis. Madigan has taken extensive and aggressive action to help student borrowers as estimates show approximately 40 million Americans hold $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. In fact, according to National Public Radio, “more people have more student loan debt than at any time in history,” and “average student loan debt has tripled since the mid-1990s.” As those numbers increase, Madigan was the first attorney general in the country to crack down on a new industry of student loan debt relief scams, and today announced she has filed her eightt lawsuit against a student loan relief scam operator.

Madigan’s lawsuit against Lombard, Ill.-based National Student Loan Rescue, LLC (NSLR) and Gregory Kewin, one of NSLR’s principals, alleges numerous violations of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and the Debt Settlement Consumer Protection Act. The lawsuit alleges that NSLR charges high upfront fees for little more than document preparation services. Despite advertising wide-ranging services, such as the ability to get student loans out of default, remove wage garnishments, lower monthly payments and secure loan forgiveness, Madigan alleges NSLR’s services amount to little more than applying for federal student loan consolidation, an application process that is already available to borrowers for free from the U.S. Department of Education.

Madigan is a national leader in investigating and enforcing consumer protection violations in the higher education field. Madigan is leading an investigation into Sallie Mae (now Navient), and pursuing litigation against national for-profit colleges for fraudulent marketing practices. Madigan has testified before Congress and urged the U.S. Department of Education to crack down on the many abuses and scams facing student borrowers.

In the last year alone, Madigan reached a $15 million settlement with for-profit school Westwood College that forgave private debt owed by students of Westwood’s criminal justice program, after which the college announced its closure. Madigan also entered into two settlements with for-profit education company Education Management Corporation (EDMC), which operates five Illinois Institute of Art and Argosy University campuses. The settlements significantly reformed EDMC’s recruiting and enrollment practices, forgave more than $3 million in loans for Illinois students, and returned money fraudulently obtained from the State of Illinois.

In addition, to provide student borrowers with free resources about repayment options, avoiding default or to file a complaint about loan servicing, Madigan operates a Student Loan Helpline (1-800-455-2456 TTY: 1-800-964-3013).

Top 10 Breakdown
Madigan’s annual top 10 list of consumer complaints ranks every complaint her office receives on a range of topics. In total, Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau achieved more than $12 million in savings for Illinois consumers in 2015. In addition to consumer debt, identity theft and education-related complaints, Madigan noted other categories that topped her list of complaints involved telecommunications and home repair.

CATEGORY # OF COMPLAINTS
1. Consumer Debt (mortgages, collection agencies, banks) 3,350
2. Identity Theft (government document fraud, credit cards, utilities, data breaches) 2,636
3. Telecommunications (telemarketing, cable and satellite TV, phone service and repairs, cell phones) 2,188
4. Construction/Home Improvement (remodeling, roofs and gutters, heating and cooling, plumbing) 2,167
5. Used Auto Sales/Motor Vehicles (as-is used cars, financing, warranties) 1,835
6. Promotions/Schemes (phone scams, investment schemes, lottery scams, phishing) 1,813
7. Education (for-profit schools, student loan debt, loan counseling) 1,523
8. Internet/Mail Order Products (Internet and catalog purchases, TV and radio advertising) 1,019
9. Fraud Against Business (consulting services, equipment leasing, directories and publications) 726
10. Motor Vehicle/Non-Warranty Repair (collision, engines, oil changes and tune-ups) 714

For more information, visit Madigan’s website or contact her office about consumer fraud issues.
Consumer Fraud Hotlines:
1-800-386-5438 (Chicago), 1-800-243-0618 (Springfield) or 1-800-243-0607 (Carbondale)

Spanish Language Hotline: 1-866-310-8398
Student Loan Helpline: 1-800-455-2456
Identity Theft Hotline: 1-866-999-5630
Homeowner Helpline: 1-866-544-7151

Senator Van Pelt to Testify in Senate Executive Subcommittee on Police Professionalism

Posted by Admin On March - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
 
CHICAGO, IL – Illinois State Senator Patricia Van Pelt will discuss police accountability legislation at a Senate Executive Subcommittee hearing today at the Michael A. Bilandic Building in Chicago. Testimony is set to be heard on the following legislation:
 
·         Senate Bill 2210: Establishes that videos and other materials or documents related to police misconduct are subject to Freedom of Information Act, except when an exemption is approved by a judge.
·         Senate Bill 2233: Prohibits destruction of all records related to complaints, investigations and adjudications of police misconduct and requires permanent retention of those records. The bill applies to records currently in existence or created in the future. Also, expressly overrides any agreement or order to destroy these records.
·         Senate Bill 2370: Requires that all minors be represented by counsel throughout custodial interrogations. The bill also provides that statements made by a minor during a custodial interrogation without counsel are inadmissible in juvenile or adult court proceedings.
 
WHAT:  Police Professionalism Senate Executive Subcommittee Hearing
 
WHO:  Senator Van Pelt and Senate Executive Subcommittee on Police Professionalism
 
WHEN:  10 a.m., Friday, Mar. 11

WHERE:  C600 – Michael A. Bilandic Building – 160 N. LaSalle St. – Chicago

VA Continues to Hide Hines Wait Time Investigation

Posted by Admin On March - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

 

Watchdog Found IG Investigation “Failed to Address … Legitimate Concerns,” Showed “Hostility Toward” Whistleblower

McDonald Agrees to Meet with Illinois Whistleblower Germaine at Hines VA Hospital

WASHINGTON, DC – At a hearing chaired by U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald refused to say whether he still stands by the VA’s determination that an Inspector General investigation “thoroughly addressed” whistleblower allegations about scheduling manipulation at Hines VA in Illinois after the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) called the investigation “incomplete” and “inadequate.”

“Nearly two years after Germaine Clarno exposed secret wait lists at Hines, the VA is still hiding the details instead of improving veterans’ care,” Senator Kirk said. “This is the third time I have put Germaine in front of the VA Secretary. Since the February report vindicated Germaine and said inspectors demonstrated ‘hostility’ toward her, there is no excuse for ignoring her any longer.”

Asked by Senator Kirk whether he stands by the VA’s Office of Accountability Review (OAR), which determined the Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation into Clarno’s allegations was sufficient, Secretary McDonald declined to answer but said the VA’s Office of Medical Inspector is looking into the discrepancies between the OIG investigation and the OSC report that said OIG “failed to address the whistleblowers’ legitimate concerns about access to care for mental health patients at Hines” and “demonstrate[d] hostility toward Ms. Clarno, apparently for having spoken publicly, as well as an attempt to minimize her allegations.”

At Senator Kirk’s request, Secretary McDonald agreed to visit Edward Hines, Jr., VA Hospital near Maywood, Ill., and again meet with Germaine Clarno, the whistleblower who exposed the scheduling manipulations and excessive wait times there. Clarno, a social worker and employees’ union president at Hines, was in the audience during the hearing of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

Senator Kirk also shared the stories of two veterans who fell victim to scheduling manipulation and excessive wait times at Hines VA. Veteran Army Specialist Tom Young, a 30-year-old father of two girls who served two tours in Iraq, took his own life last July after being turned away from Hines on three separate occasions. Michael Swan, an Army veteran, waited more than a year to see a neurologist and a year and a half to see an endocrinologist. He received a clear colonoscopy report from the VA, but after visiting a private doctor who found 130 polyps, Swan had to have his colon removed.

BACKGROUND:

When Germaine Clarno went public in May 2014 with allegations of secret wait lists and excessive wait times harming veterans at Hines VA, Senator Kirk immediately called for an OIG investigation and received assurances from then-Secretary Eric Shinseki that all VA hospitals in Illinois would be thoroughly investigated. Over the next 22 months, Senator Kirk and Clarno kept up the pressure on the VA, uncovering cases of veterans harmed by the ongoing scandal. As the chairman overseeing VA funding, Senator Kirk held numerous hearings to demand answers and accountability from VA and OIG officials.

In the meantime, the OIG conducted an investigation that the OSC found was “incomplete,” “inadequate,” and “not responsive to the serious allegations of significant wait times and delays in veterans’ access to care at Hines.”

On January 26, 2015, the OIG submitted its investigation report to the VA’s Office of Accountability Review (OAR), which exists to “ensure leadership accountability for improprieties related to patient scheduling and access to care, whistleblower retaliation, and related matters that impact public trust in VA.” The OAR determined the investigation “thoroughly” addressed Clarno’s allegations and no further investigation was necessary. VA Chief of Staff Rob Nabors agreed and submitted a summary of the investigation to the OSC. After the OSC found the summary deficient, Nabors submitted a second summary, prepared by OIG, on September 8, 2015.

On February 25, 2016, the OSC sent a letter to President Obama outlining the flaws in the OIG investigation. On March 3, 2016, the OIG released a third summary of its investigation. Despite a provision authored by Senators Kirk and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) that was included in the Omnibus funding bill signed into law last December requiring the OIG to “submit the work product” of investigations to the Appropriations Committee, the OIG has not yet released the full investigation report.

TIMELINE:

April 23, 2014: Whistleblower exposes Phoenix VA wait list scandal. CNN reports at least 40 veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix VA while managers used secret wait lists to hide the long wait times.

May 8, 2014: Hines VA Director admits scheduling manipulations. Hines VA Director Joan Ricard issues a memo to employees acknowledging that “various steps that can make the reported wait times look good without actually improving the timeliness of appointments,” calling these practices “not appropriate.”

May 13, 2014: Clarno exposes wait list scandal at Hines. CBS News reports allegations made by Germaine Clarno, a social worker at the Edward Hines, Jr., VA Hospital near Maywood, Ill., and VA employee union president, that employees at Hines used secret wait lists to hide long wait times in order to receive bonuses. 

May 14, 2014: Kirk calls for OIG investigation. Senator Kirk calls on the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) to expand its ongoing investigation into scheduling practices to include Hines VA. 

May 15, 2014: OIG launches investigation. The VA OIG notifies Senator Kirk that it opened an investigation into Clarno’s allegations regarding Hines VA. 

May 16, 2014: Shinseki expands investigation. Senator Kirk speaks on the phone with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki regarding the Hines VA allegations. Secretary Shinseki agrees to Senator Kirk’s request to expand OIG investigation into all VA hospitals in Illinois. 

May 21, 2014: Kirk requests updates on OIG investigation. Senator Kirk sends a letter to the VA Acting Inspector General Richard J. Griffin requesting an investigation into specific claims of scheduling manipulations, bonuses and delays in treatment at Hines VA, and asks for frequent updates on the status of the investigation and expected date of completion. 

May 22, 2014: Kirk calls for Ricard to resign. Senator Kirk calls for resignation of Hines VA Director Joan Ricard in the wake of the wait list scandal.

May 27, 2014: OIG interviews Clarno. VA OIG interviews Clarno about her allegations.

May 30, 2014: Kirk meets with Hines VA whistleblowers. Senator Kirk meets with Hines VA whistleblowers – social worker Germaine Clarno, a physician, and a clinician – who outline specific allegations of misconduct and corruption at the hospital. They discuss the allegations of secret wait lists, falsified reports, and ongoing corruption within the VA that may have contributed to the sickness and possible deaths of Illinois veterans.

June 5, 2014: OSC refers allegations to OIG. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel refers Clarno’s complaints to the VA OIG for investigation.

June 13, 2014: Kirk demands answers on veteran’s delay. Senator Kirk demands Hines VA release records on how long retired Army Private Michael Swan waited for care after Swan says Hines doctors missed 130 polyps in his colon and he waited 284 days for an appointment while the VA claims he only waited five days.

July 24, 2014: Kirk requests meeting with Nabors. Senator Kirk sends a letter to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Robert Nabors, who the White House appointed to investigate VA backlogs and mistreatment of veterans, requesting that he join in on a meeting with Hines VA whistleblowers – including Hines VA’s Germaine Clarno – in his Chicago office to discuss their experiences as employees at the Hines VA. 

July 25, 2014: Nabors meets with Kirk and whistleblowers. Senator Kirk convenes a meeting with Nabors and whistleblowers in Chicago to discuss misconduct and corruption at Hines VA, including long wait times for veterans and mold discovered in the facility. They meet with hospital whistleblowers, including Clarno. 

July 31, 2014: Kirk tells McDonald of retaliation against Clarno. Senator Kirk sends a letter to newly-confirmed VA Secretary Robert McDonald addressing the retaliatory actions – including restricting access to computer hardware needed to perform her job – that Germaine Clarno suffered. 

October 7, 2014: Hines VA Director Ricard resigns. Following Senator Kirk’s calls for dismissal, Hines VA Director Ricard steps down. 

January 26, 2015: OIG submits report to OAR for further review. VA OIG submits its completed investigation report to the VA’s Office of Accountability Review (OAR), which the VA “established … to ensure leadership accountability for improprieties related to patient scheduling and access to care, whistleblower retaliation, and related matters that impact public trust in VA.” Secretary McDonald directs OAR to review the report and investigate Clarno’s allegations. 

April 21, 2015: Kirk questions McDonald about Hines scandal. Senator Kirk chairs a hearing of the MilCon/VA Appropriations Subcommittee and questions VA Secretary Robert McDonald about cases of inadequate care at Hines VA.

July 23, 2015: Illinois veteran turned away by Hines takes own life. Illinois veteran Tom Young, a 30-year-old father of two girls, takes his own life after being turned away from Hines VA on three separate occasions.

July 28, 2015: VA OAR determines OIG investigation sufficient, no further inquiry needed. VA submits a summary of the OIG report prepared by the OAR, which determined the OIG investigation “fully” and “thoroughly” investigated Clarno’s allegations. OAR determined no additional investigation was necessary.

July 30, 2015: Kirk chairs hearing on whistleblower retaliation. On National Whistleblower Day, Senator Kirk chairs a hearing of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. Along with Dr. Lisa Nee, witnesses include Dr. Katherine Mitchell, the whistleblower who broke the Phoenix VA scandal; Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a nonpartisan watchdog group that investigates corruption and misconduct within government agencies; Linda Halliday, Deputy Inspector General and acting head of the VA OIG; and Carolyn Lerner, Special Counsel at the OSC. POGO director Brian calls VA’s OIG the “worst” inspector general in the federal government.

August 14, 2015: OSC finds summary “deficient,” requests full report. OSC determines the OAR summary of the OIG investigation “was deficient and not responsive to all of the allegations referred” and requests that the VA provide the OIG’s full investigation report.

September 8, 2015: VA submits new summary of OIG investigation. VA submits to the OSC a second summary of the OIG report, prepared by OIG.

November 6, 2015: Kirk chairs whistleblower hearing in Chicago. Senator Kirk chairs a field hearing in Chicago with Germaine Clarno and Dr. Lisa Nee to detail whistleblower allegations and patient and employee abuse at the Hines VA. 

February 25, 2016: OSC finds OIG investigation ignored allegations of harm to veterans and sought to discredit Clarno. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel releases a report finding the investigation by the VA OIG into Germaine Clarno’s complaints of schedule manipulations and secret wait lists at Hines VA was willfully inadequate, ignored allegations of excessive wait times for veterans, failed to hold senior leaders responsible for the improper practices, and attempted to discredit whistleblowers. Senator Kirk blasts the VA culture of “attack[ing] whistleblowers instead of protecting vets” and calls on “the VA to conduct a real investigation into whistleblower allegations at Hines, determine how many veterans were harmed and if any died as a result of this scandal, and fire those responsible for covering it up.”

March 3, 2016: OIG releases summary of investigation. VA OIG releases an administrative summary of the investigation that OSC said failed to meet statutory requirements. OIG does not release the full investigation report or address OSC’s findings.

March 4, 2016: Kirk calls for OIG to provide full investigation report. Senators Kirk and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) send letters to VA Secretary McDonald and Deputy Inspector General Halliday requesting the VA and VA OIG provide investigation reports and documents related to its investigation into the allegations made by Germaine Clarno and Shea Wilkes.

FEMA Denies State’s Request for Federal Assistance for December Floods

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On March - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The state of Illinois was notified that its request for federal assistance to help people, businesses and local governments in several Illinois counties recover from flooding has been denied. In a letter notifying the state of the denial, FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate said the damage from the floods and severe storms “was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies.”

On Feb. 26 the state submitted a request for two types of federal assistance: Individual Assistance to help people and businesses recover and Public Assistance to provide reimbursement to local governments for some of their disaster-related expenses. Both forms of federal assistance were denied.

“This is yet another example of how the federal government’s population-based threshold for determining assistance works against states with large metropolitan areas,” said James K. Joseph, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.  “We will be reaching out to our emergency management partners in the affected counties to see if there is any additional information that would support an appeal of the denial of either type of assistance.”

Counties included in the state’s request for federal assistance for people and businesses were Alexander, Christian, Clinton, Douglas, Iroquois, Jersey, Madison, Randolph, Sangamon and St. Clair. Counties included in the state’s request for federal assistance for local governments were Alexander, Bureau, Calhoun, Cass, Cumberland, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Menard, Monroe, Morgan, Moultrie, Pike, Randolph, St. Clair and Vermilion.

Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs Sues Phone Giant Sprint For Not Surrendering 32,000 Rebates Worth $2.7 Million

Posted by Admin On March - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL– Nearly 32,000 residents are owed an estimated $2.7 million after they purchased a product or service from telecom giant Sprint but did not receive the rebate that incentivized the sale, Treasurer Michael Frerichs charged in a lawsuit announced.

Frerichs pursued the lawsuit after the telecommunications giant and its clearinghouse partner, Young America Corp. of Minnesota, kept the rebate money. The Treasurer’s Office has the ability to sue because rebates are considered unclaimed property if not paid within five years and must be surrendered to the state treasury. These purchases were made between 2003 and 2005.

“It is frustrating and wrong when these large companies with deep pockets and corporate attorneys break their promises, keep money that is not theirs, and dare people to file a lawsuit,” Frerichs said.

Sprint is one of the largest providers of digital wireless and cellular telephone and data services in the United States. It routinely offers rebates and credits to incentivize new purchases. Young America is one of the largest rebate clearinghouses in the world.

Under the contract between Sprint and Young America, Young America draws the rebate check from its own bank account, and Sprint advances the funds to Young America to cover the rebates. The value of the uncashed rebate checks, known as “slippage,” is kept by Young America and slippage is considered when negotiating contract terms. Therefore, Sprint and Young America have retained the value of unclaimed rebates owed to Illinois residents, the lawsuit alleges. Doing so violates the Illinois Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act (765 ILCS 1025 et seq.)

Sprint rejected settlement offers with Illinois despite entering into similar agreements with other states. Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s Office represents Frerichs. The lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court, case number 2016-CH-01864.

About the Illinois Treasurer

The Illinois Treasurer is the state’s Chief Investment Officer. Frerichs protects consumers by encouraging savings plans for college or trade school, increasing financial education among all ages, and removing barriers to a secured retirement. The office actively manages approximately $25 billion. The investment approach is cautious and returns $28 to the state for every $1 spent in operations.

Raoul Reflects on Five Years Since Abolition of Death Penalty

Posted by Admin On March - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

“The struggle against the discriminatory, unreasonable or ineffectual application of our laws did not end with the abolition of capital punishment… The case for reform is clear.”

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) reflected on the fifth anniversary of the signing of legislation he sponsored to abolish the death penalty in Illinois.

“When I introduced legislation to end capital punishment in Illinois, I was motivated by new revelations concerning individuals who were on Death Row for crimes they had not committed,” Raoul said. “Unfortunately, many of the same factors that enabled that shameful situation are still present in our system, and accordingly, we have expanded our efforts to encompass not only the enduring problem of wrongful convictions and false confessions, but policies and cultures that produce unjust outcomes and do not make our communities safer.”

In the years since death penalty abolition, Raoul has continued to push legislation addressing law enforcement misconduct; prison overcrowding; racial disparities in traffic stops, arrests and sentencing; DNA testing backlogs; the need for reform in juvenile justice and more. He has sponsored programs that offer alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders, and he has supported funding for Redeploy Illinois, which provides grants to courts and counties that adopt innovative, data-driven models to rehabilitate offenders and reduce recidivism. Having served on the governor’s Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform Commission, Raoul is now working to ensure passage of legislation that would implement many of the recommendations the task force issued.

“The struggle against the discriminatory, unreasonable or ineffectual application of our laws did not end with the abolition of capital punishment; in many ways, that legislation and the debate surrounding it were only the beginning,” Raoul said. “The good news is that the past five years have seen the rapid rise of bipartisan interest in smarter strategies to improve public safety and end racial disparities. Whether we’re talking about the economic impact of ex-offenders being unable to find jobs, the social impact of extremely high incarceration rates in certain neighborhoods or the budgetary impact of recidivism, the case for reform is clear.”

“We are making a noticeable dent in the considerable problems still facing Illinois’ justice system,” Raoul said. “I believe the prospects for progress are better now than ever.”

IRS Impersonation Scams on the Rise

Posted by Admin On March - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

This tax season, law enforcement agencies are seeing enhanced efforts by criminals to scam taxpayers out of their hard-earned money by impersonating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury Department employees during unsolicited telephone calls and robo-calls. These scammers are demanding cash payments for unpaid taxes via prepaid debit cards, money orders, or wire transfers from their banks. According to the IRS, the agency generally first contacts taxpayers by mail—not by phone—concerning owed taxes, and it will never ask for payments using a prepaid debit card, money order, or wire transfer.

If you think you have been the victim of an IRS impersonation scam, please file a report online with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration or call the agency at 1-800-366-4484.

Additional information on IRS impersonation scams

Source: FBI

New Book: “How To Be Happy In An Unhappy Marriage”

Posted by Admin On March - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
New book, “Prisoner of Love” teaches Black women (and men) how to be happy in an unhappy marriage

Prisoner of Love: How To Be Happy in An Unhappy Marriage

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — No one gets married expecting to get divorced, but the cold reality is that the divorce rate in America is ridiculously high and is rising every day! But now thanks to one new book entitled, Prisoner of Love: How To Be Happy in an Unhappy Marriage, married African American men and women now have a great resource that can be of big help.The book, published by Urban Ebooks (and exclusively available at www.UrbanEbooks.com for $2.49) offers more than 100 proven tips, techniques and strategies for African American couples who are in a troubled marriage! Readers will learn how to be successful, satisfied, and most of all… happy with their mate!

This book addresses:
* Why Do Marriages Fail?
* Is Your Marriage in Trouble?
* Starting Down the Road to Romance
* Paving the Road to Romance
* Thinking For A Healthy Marriage
* Living For Your Marriage
* Even More Ways to Reconnect
* Advice for the Romantically Challenged
* Romantic Things You Can Do
* Fighting Fair
* Effective and Powerful Things You Can Do For Your Mate
* Effective and Powerful Things You Can Do For Your Mate
* Great Ways to Spoil Your Spouse
* Massaging Each Other Can Make the Difference

How many of the following statements apply to your marriage?
* In your mind, your spouse just can’t do anything right anymore.
* You fight constantly.
* You’ve lost the ability or the willingness to resolve your marital problems.
* Resentment and contempt have replaced patience and love.
* You’ve turned from lovers into roommates.
* One or both of you is having an affair.
* You go out of your way to avoid being together and, when you are together, you have nothing to talk about.
* Your children are reacting to the stress in your marriage by fighting more, having difficulty in school, getting into trouble with the police, abusing drugs or alcohol, or becoming sexually promiscuous.
* You have begun having thoughts about divorce.
* When youre not around your partner, you act more confident and in control

Prisoner of Love: How To Be Happy in an Unhappy Marriage was published to show you that keeping romance alive and well in your marriage can be achieved, but it does take work! Anything in life that is truly good and satisfying takes work. However, the rewards are HUGE, so its well worth the effort! This e-book will show you how to Bring Your Marriage Back to Newlyweds Again!
For more details and/or to purchase the book for $2.49, visit www.UrbanEbooks.com

Photo: Bookcover

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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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