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Masterfully crafted by Gerald Middlebrooks, ‘Poems of Substance’ takes a holistic and in-depth ...
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Shelly Marks presented with statewide honor by ISBE at education conference in Chicago     Homewood, IL – The ...
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Comptroller anticipates judicial guidance CHICAGO, IL - Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka made the following statement ...
CHICAGO, IL - A broad coalition of organizations, including Center for New Community (CNC), American ...
Nationwide (BlackNews.com) -- Felon, felony, criminal record, ex-offender, ex-con, etc., etc., etc. These labels ...
The last four years have been enormously challenging as the nation climbs back from the ...

Archive for April 15th, 2016

Republican Party Ousts 13 Committeemen in Chicago

Posted by Admin On April - 15 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL — The Cook and Chicago Republican Parties ousted 13 “Republican” ward committeemen Wednesday in a move to end Democrat control over several Republican ward organizations.

Among those expelled were two individuals placed by House Speaker Mike Madigan in the 13th and 23rd Wards, an individual placed by Alderman John Arena in the 45th Ward, and an individual placed by Alderman Emma Mitts in the 37th Ward. In each case the petitions for the “Republican” candidate had been circulated by precinct captains for his or her Democrat sponsor. In Madigan’s district, the “Republican” committeeman had circulated petitions for Madigan’s fake Republican opponent in 2014.

In the 20th Ward, the “Republican” candidate is the mother of the Democrat Committeeman.

In several cases, the “Republican” candidate had never voted in a Republican primary. Many had life-long Democrat voting records.

In one case, a committeeman was expelled for having committed multiple felonies, including solicitation of murder.

At the end of 2014, Madigan and former Democrat Governor Pat Quinn signed into legislation changes to the election code which tranferred control of election judges from the Republican County Chairman to local Republican ward organizations. The changes gave Democrats incentive to run loyal Democrats for Republican ward committeeman so that they could control all of the election judge positions in the polling place. By law, the ward committeeman from each party is allowed to appoint half of the election judges. Complete Democrat control would bar Republican party representatives from a polling place, opening the door to voter fraud.

In response to Madigan’s moves, Republican committeemen made changes to the bylaws of the Cook County Republican Party disqualifying any committeeman who had taken a Democrat ballot in a recent election.

“For first time in generations, the Chicago Republican Party is free of Democrat influence,” said Chicago Republican Party Chairman Chris Cleveland. “It’s a new era for aggressive Republican action against Chicago Democrats. We’ve had enough of the corruption.”

“It’s an outrage that an open Democrat would try to head the Republican Party in a ward,” said Cook County Republican Party Chairman Aaron Del Mar. “Fortunately, we’ve put a stop to it.

“The city and county parties worked together to make this happen.”

For more information, contact: Chris Cleveland @ 312 339 2677 mobile
chris.cleveland@chicagogop.com

 

Senate Black Caucus Supports Measure to Fund Social Services, Higher Education and Senior Services

Posted by Admin On April - 15 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Members of the Senate Black Caucus unanimously supported legislation to fund the remaining programs left out of the budget due to the impasse. The budget package gives relief to college and universities, low-income students and a wide variety of human services and public health programs. The House approved the measure yesterday, but the governor has already threatened to veto it.

Below are comments from Senate Black Caucus members following the passage of the measure:

 

Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) Senate Appropriations Chairman

 

“Decimating our great institutions and eroding the state’s safety net are not only backward but inhumane,” said Trotter, sponsor of the funding plan. “The people have spoken and we’ve acted. Now the governor needs to put an end to this nonsensical impasse, because the people of Illinois have had enough.”

 

Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) Senate Black Caucus Chairman

 

“Today we took a responsible step forward in ending the budget impasse. Now it’s time for the governor to sign this legislation so Illinois will no-longer be the laughing stock of the nation. If the governor veto’s this bill, it only firms up my belief that he is out to wreck Illinois’ economy.”

Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago)

 

“Keeping our after-school programs and pipelines to employment open for teens keeps them off of the street,” said Hunter, a member of the Senate Human Services Committee. ‘Illinois’ youth can no longer be used a bargaining chips in distracting debate over the governor’s turnaround agenda. In Chicago, having a safe place to go and access to jobs is a matter of life and death for too many of our young people.”

Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago)

“If the governor is going to continue holding the state and its most vulnerable residents hostage while he demands reforms that would hurt the middle class and aren’t proven to benefit anyone but large corporations and the wealthy, the least he can do is allow universities and service providers to present their bills to the Comptroller and get in line to be paid as soon as the money becomes available,” Collins said. “We’re in a state of emergency, with Chicago State set to close just 17 days from now and many social services and health care providers already shutting down, and it is the governor’s moral obligation to recognize this and provide relief by signing the measure we’re sending him.”

 

“It is deplorable that at-risk youth in violence-prone communities, families struggling with homelessness, the mentally ill and the addicted, individuals with HIV/AIDS and women who have been victims of sexual assault continue to pay the price in this budget standoff,” Collins said. “I’m proud to vote for legislation that takes the pressure off of people who did not cause this crisis, and puts responsibility back where it belongs – on the people’s elected representatives, first and foremost the governor.”

Senator Patricia Van Pelt

 

“This is important legislation, make no mistake. It gives the governor authorization to send critically-needed and necessary funds to our agencies and universities. It is the legislature’s job to authorize spending. But it’s up to the executive branch to disburse the funds—funds that will go a long way for the most vulnerable and our students.

 

Today, the Senate has essentially put the ball in the governor’s court. It is time for him to truly “turn the state around,” providing funds to those who need it. I urge the governor to sign this legislation into law.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 2046 funds the following programs:

·         Appropriates $3.9 billion ($3.1 billion from General Revenue Funds)

·         Funds public colleges and universities, including Chicago State University, which is scheduled to shut down and lay off all staff on April 30

·         Funds MAP grants (state assistance to low-income college students attending both public and private Illinois institutions of higher learning)

·         Funds human services, public safety and public health programs not currently funded under court orders and consent decrees; these include

o   Breast and cervical cancer screenings

o   Community mental health

o   The Community Care Program (in-home assistance for senior citizens)

o   Meals on Wheels for seniors

o   Homelessness prevention and services

o   Indigent burial

o   Local public health grants

o   School construction grants

o   Affordable housing

o   Lincoln’s Challenge Academy

o   Juvenile and Adult Redeploy Illinois (second-chance programs for non-violent offenders)

o   Services for victims of sexual assault

o   Afterschool programs and violence prevention programs for at-risk youth

o   Immigrant and refugee services

o   Respite services for caregivers of those with developmental disabilities

o   Addiction treatment programs

·         Includes back pay owed to some state employees

President Obama Nominates Three to Serve on the United States District Court

Posted by Admin On April - 15 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama nominated Judge Beth M. Andrus, J. Michael Diaz, and Kathleen M. O’Sullivan to serve on the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.

“I am honored to put forward these highly qualified candidates for the federal bench,” President Obama said.  “They will be distinguished public servants and valuable additions to the United States District Court.”

Judge Beth M. Andrus:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington

Judge Beth M. Andrus has served as a Superior Court Judge for Washington’s King County Superior Court since 2010.  She currently serves as the court’s Chief Civil Judge and previously served as the Assistant Presiding Judge in 2015.  Prior to her appointment to the court, from 1995 to 2010, she was as a partner in the law firm of Skellenger Bender, P.S. in Seattle, Washington.  From 1989 to 1995, she worked in two law firms located in Seattle, Washington — Miller Nash Wiener Hager & Carlsen (now Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP) from 1990 to 1995 and Schweppe, Krug & Tausend (no longer operational) in 1989.  Judge Andrus began her legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable Gerald W. Heaney of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit from 1988 to 1989.  She received her J.D. cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1988 and her B.A. summa cum laude from Wayne State University in 1985.

J. Michael Diaz:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington

J. Michael Diaz has served as the Civil Rights Program Coordinator for the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington since 2011, and he has served as an Assistant United States Attorney since 2008.  From 2006 to 2008, he worked in the Seattle, Washington law firm of Yarmuth Wilsdon Calfo PLLC (now Yarmuth Wilsdon PLLC), litigating commercial and white collar matters.  Diaz began his legal career as an associate in the Houston, Texas office of Fulbright & Jaworski LLP (now Norton Rose Fulbright), where he worked from 2002 to 2006.  He received his J.D. from Cornell Law School in 2002 and his B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1996.

Kathleen M. O’Sullivan:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington

Kathleen M. O’Sullivan is a partner in the Seattle, Washington law firm of Perkins Coie, where she specializes in appellate and commercial litigation.  She joined the law firm as an associate in 1997 and was elevated to partner in 2004.  O’Sullivan has spent the entirety of her legal career at Perkins Coie, with the exception of the two years she spent clerking.  She served as a law clerk to the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 1998 to 1999 and the Honorable Harold H. Greene of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia from 1996 to 1997.  She received her J.D. cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center in 1996 and her B.A. cum laude from Yale University in 1991.

Doctor Sentenced to Over Nine Years in Prison for $3.1 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme

Posted by Admin On April - 15 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Filed fraudulent insurance claims for medical procedures not performed

Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow sentenced physician Paramjit Singh Ajrawat, age 60, Potomac, Maryland, to 111 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for health care fraud, two counts of making a false statement related to a health care program, one count of obstruction of justice, four counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft related to a health care fraud scheme in connection with the pain clinic he owned and operated with his wife.  Judge Chasanow also entered an order requiring Ajrawat to forfeit and pay restitution of $3,103,874.58.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service – Mid-Atlantic Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Nicholas DiGiulio, Office of Investigations, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services; Norbert E. Vint, Acting Inspector General of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; Special Agent in Charge Kevin Perkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Special Agent in Charge Robin Blake, of the Washington Regional Office, U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations; and Special Agent in Charge Paul L. Bowman of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General.

“This lengthy sentence sends a powerful message that doctors who defraud health insurance programs will be held accountable,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

Ajrawat was a licensed physician in Maryland who specialized in interventional pain management.  He and his wife owned and operated Washington Pain Management Center (WPMC) located in Greenbelt. A federal jury convicted Ajrawat and his wife, Sukhveen Kaur Ajrawat, age 57, also a medical doctor, on September 4, 2015.  The government moved to dismiss the charges against Sukhveen Ajrawat after her death on February 1, 2016.

According to evidence presented at the eight day trial, from at least January 2011 through May 2014, the Ajrawats defrauded federal health benefit programs including: Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.  The Ajrawats filed claims for procedures that were not performed.  Specifically, the Ajrawats performed less expensive procedures but falsely billed for procedures that provided higher reimbursement amounts.  The Ajrawats also submitted claims indicating that they had met the requirements for reimbursement, when in fact, they had not met those requirements.  Finally, the Ajrawats submitted claims for procedures that had not been performed at all.

For example, the Ajrawats submitted claims that P. Ajrawat had performed nerve block injections with the use of an imaging guidance machine, but P. Ajrawat neither owned nor used such a machine. The Ajrawats also falsely documented patient files to indicate that an imaging guidance machine had been used to verify needle placement and caused the alteration or destruction of patient files to conceal the scheme from auditors and law enforcement.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised DCIS, HHS-Office of Inspector General, OPM-Office of Inspector General, FBI, U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Service-Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Kelly O’Connell Hayes, who prosecuted the case.

Source: FBI

Frerichs, Martwick Fight Insurance Companies that Do Not Pay Death Benefits

Posted by Admin On April - 15 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Insurance Industry Offers Weaker Version to Mollify Critics

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Families will no longer be victimized by life insurance companies that refuse to pay death benefits, said Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs. His remarks came after the Illinois House passed a measure pushed by Frerichs that requires insurers to use the federal Death Master File list to confirm if an inactive policy holder has died and the death benefits have not been paid.

The House passed the proposal 75-34. The proposal now goes to the Senate, where insurance companies are lobbying for a weaker version.

“I have never met a man or woman who did not have a very good reason to purchase life insurance,” Frerichs said. “This common-sense approach to helping families is clearly needed because this is an issue that touches each of us.”

 

Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Norridge, is the chief sponsor of the proposal. “These life insurance policies are intended to help take care of survivors when their loved ones pass. Thanks to the leadership of Treasurer Frerichs and other advocates who worked with me on this issue, we are an important step closer to following through on that promise to Illinois citizens,” Martwick said.  

 

Several organizations, including those who support veterans and senior citizens, fought for the proposal so the final wishes of the deceased could be fulfilled.

 

“Caregivers invest in life insurance to ensure their loved ones who need the support will have the financial security to acquire that care on their own. It’s an unnecessary burden life insurance should prevent when dependents are already suffering through a tragic loss,” said Ryan Gruenenfelder, AARP Illinois Advocacy and Outreach Manager. “House Bill 4633 is sensible legislation that will help beneficiaries from life insurance policies receive the claims they are due without further stress or hassle. We urge support of this bill, and we commend State Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs for his support on this issue.”

 

The Death Master File (DMF) is used by the Social Security Administration and other government agencies to fight waste, fraud and abuse. More than 20 life insurance companies, representing more than 70 percent of the national market, routinely check their policies against the DMF.  Since 2011, Illinois has used audits to identify more than $550 million in life insurance proceeds that should have been paid to beneficiaries in Illinois.

 

“If you look at public regulatory findings, there are life insurance companies that intentionally avoid paying benefits to increase their profit margins,” Frerichs said. “That is simply not right. The vast majority of life insurance policies are sold by companies that are doing the right thing by their customers. We need this legislation to make sure that everyone in Illinois receives the benefits to which they are legally entitled.”

In Illinois, the state treasurer is tasked with safeguarding unclaimed property, such as life insurance benefits, forgotten bank accounts and unused rebate cards. Illinois holds approximately $2 billion in unclaimed property. Individuals can search a database for their name or the name of their business or non-profit at www.illinoistreasurer.gov Scroll down for the I-Cash button. Frerichs’ office never charges anyone to search the database or return unclaimed property.

 

HB 4633 requires insurers to periodically match their policies, annuity contracts and other asset accounts against the DMF. If an insurer runs the DMF more frequently to stop annuity payments, it must do the same for death benefits. If a match is found and the beneficiaries do not file a claim within six months, the insurer must conduct a thorough search for the beneficiaries. If the insurer locates the beneficiaries, they must provide them with the proper forms to claim the proceeds. If the insurer does not locate the beneficiaries and no one claims the proceeds from the insurer within the statutory five year period, the money must be turned over to the state so the Treasurer can continue attempting to locate the beneficiaries .

Legislation similar to HB 4633 was signed into law earlier this month in Florida and West Virginia after passing the respective legislatures with overwhelming bi-partisan majorities. The Florida law passed unanimously and was championed by the elected Chief Financial Officer, a Republican. The West Virginia law was championed by the Democratic State Treasurer. New York passed the first law to require DMF matching by life insurance companies in 2011.

About the Illinois Treasurer

The Illinois Treasurer is the state’s chief investment officer and Frerichs is a Certified Public Finance Officer. He protects consumers by encouraging savings plans for college or trade school, increasing financial education among all ages, and removing barriers to a secure retirement. As the state’s Chief Investment Officer, he actively manages approximately $25 billion. The portfolio includes $13 billion in state funds, $7 billion in college savings plans and $5 billion on behalf of local and state governments. The investment approach is cautious to ensure the preservation of capital and returns $28 to the state for every $1 spent in operations. The Treasurer’s Office predates Illinois incorporation in 1818. Voters in 1848 chose to make it an elected office.

257**16

Illinois Adds 14,700 Jobs; Unemployment Rate Rises to 6.5%

Posted by Admin On April - 15 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Annual Growth Rate Remains Significantly Below National Average

 

CHICAGO, IL –The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced that Illinois’ unemployment rate in March rose 0.1 percentage points to 6.5 percent and nonfarm payrolls increased by +14,700 jobs, based on preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and IDES. Illinois surpassed its January 2008 payroll peak by +16,500 jobs but remains -46,100 jobs short of its peak employment level reached in September 2000. Illinois continues to lag behind while the nation currently stands 3.9 percent above its prior peak employment level.

“While Illinois experienced job growth in March, the over-the-year growth rate still lags behind the rest of the nation,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “Monthly employment numbers are volatile but in order to see true and robust job growth, we need more effective policies in place to help Illinois recover its employment peak.”

“Unemployment in Illinois continues to rise as our state fails to keep pace with the rest of the country in job growth,” Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy said. “Industries like manufacturing continue to struggle to regain jobs lost since 2008 – in March alone, 100 manufacturing jobs per day were lost; that’s 100 middle-class families every single day facing the financial stress, hardship and uncertainty of losing a well-paying job. We need to take action on structural reforms that will make Illinois as competitive as it should be to curb the loss of middle-class jobs.”

In March, the three industry sectors with the largest gains in employment were: Leisure and Hospitality (+6,300); Construction (+4,100) and Financial Activities (+3,200). The two industry sectors with the largest declines in employment were: Manufacturing (-3,100); and Professional and Business Services (-1,400).

 

Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +79,900 jobs with the largest gains in Leisure and Hospitality (+25,500); Educational and Health Services (+21,600); and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+16,800). Industry sectors with over-the-year declines in March include: Manufacturing (-7,500) and Information

(-1,900). The 1.3 percent over-the-year gain in Illinois is less than the 2.0 percent gain posted by the nation in March.

The state’s unemployment rate is higher than the national unemployment rate reported for March 2016, which inched up to 5.0 percent. The Illinois unemployment rate stood 0.6 percentage points above the unemployment rate a year ago when it was 5.9 percent. According to IDES analysts, the unemployment rate is increasing in Illinois because of lagging job growth and more workers entering the labor force who are not immediately able to find work.

The number of unemployed workers increased +2.3 percent from the prior month to 429,600 and was up +11.6 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force grew by +2.3 percent in March over the prior year. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and are seeking employment. An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

 

To help connect jobseekers to employers who are hiring, IDES’ maintains the state’s largest job search engine IllinoisJoblink.com (IJL). IJL recently showed that 62,761 resumes were posted and 173,283 help-wanted ads were available.

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates

Illinois Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Jobs – by Major Industry


Notes:

  • Monthly 2011 – 2015 labor force data for Illinois, and all other states, have been revised as required by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  The monthly historical revisions to state labor force estimates reflect new national benchmark controls, state working-age population controls, seasonal factors, as well as updated total nonfarm jobs and unemployment benefits claims inputs.  Illinois labor force data were also smoothed to eliminate large monthly changes as a result of volatility in the monthly Census Population Survey (CPS) and national benchmarking.  For these reasons, comments and tables citing unemployment rates in previous state news releases/materials might no longer be valid.

  • Monthly seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for Illinois and the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metropolitan Division are available here: Illinois & Chicago Metropolitan Area Unemployment Rates

  • Monthly 1994 – 2014 unadjusted and seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll data for Illinois have been revised. To control for potential survey error, the estimates are benchmarked annually to universal counts derived primarily from unemployment insurance tax reports.

  • Not seasonally adjusted jobs data with industry detail are available at Not Seasonally Adjusted Jobs Data. “Other Services” include activities in three broad categories: Personal and laundry; repair and maintenance; and religious, grant making, civic and professional organizations.  Seasonally adjusted employment data for subsectors within industries are not available.

Senate Committee Approves Kirk Bill to Fund Veterans, Military at Record Levels

Posted by Admin On April - 15 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Kirk Bill Increases Vets Care by $3.4 Billion

Requires New Oversight on Spending, New Protections for Whistleblowers, New IVF Coverage for Veterans

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA), applauded the committee’s unanimous passage of the bipartisan fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations bill, which funds the VA at record levels, protects whistleblowers who expose patient abuse, increases oversight of spending at the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General (VA OIG), boosts health services for female veterans, improves screening of medical personnel, prevents the overprescription of opioids by VA doctors, and increases funding to reduce veteran homelessness. With bipartisan support, the committee included new coverage for IVF treatment for veterans with service-related injuries. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.

“This bill funds the VA at record levels – $3.4 billion more than last year with new protections for those who protect our vets – confronts the overprescribing of opioids and includes new oversight of spending at the VA so tax dollars are spent more effectively,” Senator Kirk said. “The bill does not allow modification of Guantanamo Bay or construction of facilities to house detainees in the U.S., which prevents terrorists from moving to U.S. soil.”

The FY2017 MilCon-VA bill funds the VA at record levels with $75.1 billion in discretionary spending – $3.4 billion more than FY2016. Senator Kirk’s bill also advances funds for medical care and veterans’ benefits for FY2018.

The bill also protects our national security by providing $7.93 billion total for Department of Defense (DOD) military construction projects, which includes funding to house, train and equip military personnel, provide housing to military families and fund critical military base projects. Additionally, it prevents the closure of Guantanamo Bay as well as the construction, renovation or expansion of any facility in the U.S. that could potentially be used to house hardened terrorist detainees from Guantanamo.

Protects Those Who Protect Our Veterans

Retaliation against VA whistleblowers continues to persist at hospitals and clinics nationwide, including at Hines VA in Illinois. Senator Kirk’s MilCon-VA bill mirrors the language in the bill he introduced last year with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the VA Patient Protection Act, by:

  • Increasing penalties for those who retaliate against whistleblowers;
  • Establishing a central whistleblower office to investigate all whistleblower claims; and
  • Creating a formal process for whistleblowers to file claims within the VA.

Hold IG Accountable for Cover-Ups of Veteran Wait Time Manipulation

Despite requirements in current law that the VA Office of the Inspector General (VA OIG) release reports in a timely manner, the agency is exploiting a loophole to withhold dozens of reports related to criminal investigations at VA facilities across the nation. Reports documenting scheduling manipulations by VA officials in at least seven states – including Illinois – were hidden from Congress and taxpayers for nearly a year.

Senator Kirk’s legislation clarifies that VA OIG must publish all reports within three days of completion, including detailed information regarding the disciplinary actions and plans to implement changes for those who were found manipulating scheduling practices. His bill also increases the VA OIG staff by 100 employees so these tasks can be completed in a timely manner.

Reduces Overprescription of Opioids

The FY2017 MilCon-VA bill addresses the overprescription of opioids by requiring the VA to report prescriptions to state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), just as other doctors and hospitals do. It would also expand access to lifesaving naloxone and enhance education about its use to stop heroin overdose.

Between 2001 and 2009, pain reliever prescriptions nationwide quadrupled to nearly 3.8 million, and studies show that almost half of veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and/or Operation Iraqi Freedom, and entered Veterans Affairs (VA) health care from 2005 through 2008, received at least one pain-related diagnosis. 

Boosts Funding for Veterans Crisis Line

In the wake of failures of the 24-hour Veterans Crisis Line (VCL), the bill adds $8.7 million above the president’s request for the VCL to ensure call center technologies are up to date and staff are properly trained in crisis management. It also fully funds the president’s request to add 140 new employees. The additional resources will ensure veterans like Tom Young, an Illinois father of two who reached out for help and took his own life before receiving a call back, are never again ignored or sent to voicemail when they need help. 

Increases Women’s Access to Health Services

This bill directs the VA to allow women veterans to receive in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, as is the case with active duty service members under the DOD.

Increases Funding to Address Rising Veteran Homelessness Rates

Veteran homelessness rates in Illinois are increasing annually, and the lack of mental health services and employment opportunities for those returning home from the battlefield are contributing to this growing problem. This bill increases funding for homelessness grant programs by adding $20 million to Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) and $10 million to the Grant and Per Diem program. 

Improves Screening of VA Health Professionals

Senator Kirk wrote to Secretary McDonald last fall about the hiring of Dr. John Sturman, a VA doctor who worked at the pain management clinic at the VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville, Ill., while he was under investigation for allegedly over-prescribing narcotics in Indiana. He faces 24 years in prison on three counts of reckless homicide and 16 counts of issuing invalid prescription drugs.

Senator Kirk’s bill increases scrutiny for hiring health professionals by requiring increased reporting to state medical boards and requiring the VA to thoroughly check with medical boards before hiring medical personnel to care for our veterans.

Senator Collins Votes for Budget Measure to Alleviate “State of Emergency”

Posted by Admin On April - 15 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

 SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) has voted for legislation the Senate passed to give relief to college and universities, low-income students and a wide variety of human services and public health programs. The House approved the measure yesterday, but the governor has already threatened to veto it.

“If the governor is going to continue holding the state and its most vulnerable residents hostage while he demands reforms that would hurt the middle class and aren’t proven to benefit anyone but large corporations and the wealthy, the least he can do is allow universities and service providers to present their bills to the Comptroller and get in line to be paid as soon as the money becomes available,” Collins said. “We’re in a state of emergency, with Chicago State set to close just 17 days from now and many social services and health care providers already shutting down, and it is the governor’s moral obligation to recognize this and provide relief by signing the measure we’re sending him.”

Chicago State University, which serves a student population that is disproportionately low-income, minority and non-traditional, has announced it will run out of money and close its doors – laying off hundreds of employees, from the president on down – on April 30. Because a large percentage of its students work and/or raise families, many will not be able to transfer to other schools farther from their homes and jobs.

Critical social services also remain unfunded. Senate Bill 2046, which has passed both chambers and now goes to the governor’s desk, allows state money to flow to human services, public health and public safety programs not currently funded under a court order or federal law.

“It is deplorable that at-risk youth in violence-prone communities, families struggling with homelessness, the mentally ill and the addicted, individuals with HIV/AIDS and women who have been victims of sexual assault continue to pay the price in this budget standoff,” Collins said. “I’m proud to vote for legislation that takes the pressure off of people who did not cause this crisis, and puts responsibility back where it belongs – on the people’s elected representatives, first and foremost the governor.”

Senate Bill 2046

·        Appropriates $3.9 billion ($3.1 billion from General Revenue Funds)

·        Funds public colleges and universities, including Chicago State University, which is scheduled to shut down and lay off all staff on April 30

·        Funds MAP grants (state assistance to low-income college students attending both public and private Illinois institutions of higher learning)

·        Funds human services, public safety and public health programs not currently funded under court orders and consent decrees; these include

o   Breast and cervical cancer screenings

o   Community mental health

o   The Community Care Program (in-home assistance for senior citizens)

o   Meals on Wheels for seniors

o   Homelessness prevention and services

o   Indigent burial

o   Local public health grants

o   School construction grants

o   Affordable housing

o   Lincoln’s Challenge Academy

o   Juvenile and Adult Redeploy Illinois (second-chance programs for non-violent offenders)

o   Services for victims of sexual assault

o   Afterschool programs and violence prevention programs for at-risk youth

o   Immigrant and refugee services

o   Respite services for caregivers of those with developmental disabilities

o   Addiction treatment programs

·        Includes back pay owed to some state employees

Chicago GOP Meeting Shut Down by Protesting Democrats

Posted by Admin On April - 15 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL — Several Democrats who had run for Republican ward committeeman in Chicago shut down the organizational meeting of the Chicago Republican Party Wednesday night. They gathered in the room in which the meeting was to take place and refused to leave.

Among the protesters were a number of the 13 committeemen who had been barred from participation in the party because of a history of voting in Democratic primaries.

“We asked the protesters to leave and they refused. The owner of the restaurant also asked them to leave, but they yelled that she was a racist for wanting them out, so she backed down,” said Chris Cleveland, Chairman of the Chicago Republican Party.

“We had anticipated a problem and hired off-duty police officers to handle security, but they couldn’t act unless the owner was willing to sign a criminal complaint. After the accusation of racism, she said she couldn’t do anything for fear of having her restaurant look bad.”

Cleveland announced the cancellation of the meeting shortly thereafter. “Per our bylaws, we are prohibited from conducting an organizational meeting with non-committeemen in the room,” said Cleveland.

The Chicago GOP meeting was to take place shortly before the bi-annual Convention of the Cook County Republican Party in the same location. After Cleveland announced the cancellation, several of the protesters left, and the Cook County meeting was able to proceed.

The Chicago GOP meeting is expected to be rescheduled for the near future.

 

Online Voting: Newest Way to Vote in the 49th Ward’s Participatory Budgeting election

Posted by Admin On April - 15 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Letters to Editors

As we approach our seventh year of Participatory Budgeting – where 49th Ward residents decide how to spend $1 million in money to improve our neighborhood – I have exciting news.

Beginning TOMORROW (Saturday, April 16th) at 9:00 a.m. and continuing until Friday, April 29th, you will be able to vote in the Participatory Budgeting Election from the comfort of your own home, work, coffee shop – or wherever you might find an internet connection.

Two years ago, we introduced electronic voting, but it was limited to special laptops set up at certain voting sites. This year, we are expanding that opportunity so anyone with internet access and a 49th Ward address can vote wherever they wish.

How to vote online

To be eligible to vote (online or in person on election day or at an early-voting site), you must be 16 years of age or older and aresident of the 49th Ward. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to participate in PB!

To vote online, all you have to do is reply to this email and attach proof of ward residency. You can attach either a scanned copy of the proof of residency or a photo of it. Here are some of the documents you can use as proof of residency. It must contain your name and address:

  • Driver’s license or Illinois state ID
  • Current Apartment lease
  • Utility bill or bank statement
  • Student ID (with address)
  • Personal ID from another country

My staff will reply with the URL to the early voting website and a special access code to enter at that site. Please do not share that code with anyone else; your unique code and may only be used once. Then proceed to vote, following the instructions provided. If you have questions, please reply to this email or call my 49th Ward Service Office at 773-338-5796.

The online ballot will provide information on this year’s proposed projects, but feel free to examine the proposals before you vote. For a look at this year’s proposed PB49 projects, CLICK HERE.

THE ONLINE VOTING PERIOD BEGINS THIS SATURDAY, APRIL 16th, AT 9:00 A.M. AND WILL CLOSE FRIDAY, APRIL 29th, AT 7:00 P.M., so please vote by that date and time. If, by chance, you don’t vote online by the April 29th deadline, you can still vote in person on PB49 Election Day, Saturday, April 30, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Chicago Math and Science Academy, 7212 N. Clark St.

Please note: We will not share your identification information! After the voting is over, we will delete the email that includes your form of identification.

And Happy Voting!

Sincerely, 

Alderman Joe Moore

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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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