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Archive for May 16th, 2016

Settlement Approved in Landmark Prisoners’ Rights Case

Posted by Admin On May - 16 - 2016 Comments Off on Settlement Approved in Landmark Prisoners’ Rights Case

Illinois judge rules settlement is fair, ensuring increased care and reduced solitary confinement for prisoners with mental illnesses


Peoria, Illinois  — After a seven-year legal battle, a major pro bono court victory occurred Friday when a judge in the Federal District Court for the Central District of Illinois approved a settlement to improve the treatment of thousands of prisoners with mental illnesses. Under the terms of this groundbreaking settlement, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) will be required to provide specialized healthcare and services for approximately 11,000 mentally ill prisoners, as well as create facilities and hire staff to treat this vulnerable segment of the prison population.

Dentons, Equip for Equality, Mayer Brown, and Uptown People’s Law Center were co-counsel on this important class action case.

“I’ll never forget a man I saw at Menard who had suffered severe childhood trauma, and had serious mental illness,” said Alan Mills, Executive Director of Uptown People’s Law Center. “He was involuntarily injected with powerful anti-psychotic drugs, but was left otherwise untreated. He was locked in a tiny airless solitary cell 24 hours a day, with 30 more years to do there. He had developed bedsores, as he literally did nothing but lie in bed, zoned out on drugs 24/7. This agreement will end horrors like his. People will get treatment, be allowed out of their cells, and the use of solitary confinement will be reduced. We look forward to working with the IDOC to make this agreement a reality for our clients.”

As part of the settlement:

  • For the first time ever, Illinois will provide both long-term and acute care for prisoners who are so seriously mentally ill that they require hospitalization. Previously, these very ill people were either relegated to solitary confinement, or left for months in “crisis cells,” where they are stripped of all possessions, left totally isolated from other prisoners, and watched 24 hours a day to ensure they do not commit suicide.
  • More than 300 new clinical staff will be hired to treat prisoners with serious mental illnesses, along with over 400 new security staff to work at the new residential treatment units. This will allow IDOC to provide group therapy and one-on-one therapy for prisoners, which was virtually unheard of previously.
  • Four residential treatment units will be constructed at Logan, Pontiac, and Dixon Correctional Centers, and the now-closed Illinois Youth Center in Joliet. This will allow the release of many people currently held in long-term solitary confinement into more appropriate, treatment-oriented housing.
  • IDOC will review the mental health of all prisoners with more than 60 days left in solitary, to determine if they should be given early release. IDOC will also release from solitary all prisoners with serious mental illnesses who are confined there for minor, non-violent offenses, and in the future will consider mental health before sentencing someone to segregation.
  • Prisoners with mental illnesses who are in solitary confinement for over 60 days will have their out-of-cell time increased from less than an hour a day to 20 hours a week. Construction costs for the new facilities are estimated to be $40 million and the new personnel costs are expected to be approximately $40 million annually. This spending will be a part of the appropriations process.

Harold C. Hirshman, a partner with Dentons, led the legal team representing the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit Rasho v. Walker. “This truly is a humane and monumental settlement that will have a lasting impact on the people of this state,” said Hirshman. “For too long, we have ignored and mistreated the mentally ill population of our correctional institutions due to a systemic failure to recognize their unique circumstances. I believe this settlement will redress and protect the Constitutional rights of these members of our society.”

“Just because a person with mental illness is in prison doesn’t mean they lose their rights under the Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Barry Taylor, Vice President for Civil Rights and Systemic Litigation at Equip for Equality. “This agreement will ensure that people with serious mental illness will be given critical treatment they are entitled to under the law.”

“Consistent with our Firm’s core values, we are deeply committed to making a positive impact on the communities in which we live and serve,” said Mike McNamara, Dentons’ US managing partner. “This resolution, after nearly seven years and countless hours of hard work, truly embodies that spirit and we are proud of our colleagues for their leadership in attending to these important social issues.”

About Dentons:
Dentons is the world’s first polycentric global law firm. A top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, the Firm is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent and uncompromising quality and value in new and inventive ways. Driven to provide clients a competitive edge, and connected to the communities where its clients want to do business, Dentons knows that understanding local cultures is crucial to successfully completing a deal, resolving a dispute or solving a business challenge. Now the world’s largest law firm, Dentons’ global team builds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local, national and global needs of private and public clients of any size in more than 125 locations serving 50-plus countries.

About Equip for Equality:
Equip for Equality is a private, not-for-profit legal advocacy organization and is the federally mandated Protection & Advocacy System designated to safeguard the rights of people with physical and mental disabilities.

About Mayer Brown:
Mayer Brown is one of the largest global law firms both by number of lawyers and revenue. The firm has lawyers in key business centers across the Americas, Asia and Europe. Mayer Brown serves many of the world’s largest companies and financial services organizations, including a significant proportion of the Fortune 100, FTSE 100, DAX and Hang Seng Index companies and most of the major investment banks. Mayer Brown provides legal services in areas such as Supreme Court and appellate; litigation; corporate and securities; finance; real estate; tax; intellectual property; government and global trade; restructuring, bankruptcy and insolvency; and environmental.

About Uptown People’s Law Center:
Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC) is a nonprofit legal services organization specializing in prisoners’ rights, Social Security disability, and tenants’ rights and eviction defense. UPLC currently has nine pending class action lawsuits regarding jail and prison conditions.

Kirk: Vets Shouldn’t Have to Share a Plate with Roaches

Posted by Admin On May - 16 - 2016 Comments Off on Kirk: Vets Shouldn’t Have to Share a Plate with Roaches

RAID Act Enforces Cleanliness Standards in VA Kitchens

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), today introduced the Requiring Accountability and Inspections for Dining Service (RAID) Act, legislation that establishes new cleanliness inspection requirements at hospital kitchens and food service areas that mirrors those required of private sector hospitals, and prevents the agency from policing itself when conducting the inspections. Senator Kirk authored this legislation after it was reported that there was a cockroach infestation at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA facility in Illinois, and that roaches routinely crawl across kitchen countertops and have ended up in veterans’ food. The VA is allowed to conduct its own internal inspections without consequences which has resulted in substandard conditions that private hospitals would never be allowed to have. 

Representative Mike Bost (R-Ill.-12) introduced companion legislation today in the House of Representatives. 

“It’s deplorable that this infestation at the Hines VA has gone on for years and that our nation’s heroes are forced to share a plate with cockroaches,” said Senator Kirk. “The substandard treatment of our veterans has to stop. The RAID Act will keep VA kitchens clean and our veterans’ food away from roaches.” 

The RAID Act takes away the VA’s power to self-police and self-inspect their kitchens and food service areas. It also requires a national accreditation organization to inspect these areas at all VA hospitals and facilities nationwide, and mandates that all VA kitchens and food service areas to meet the same cleanliness and inspection standards as private hospitals. Veterans at Hines “said they had never seen a health inspector, but once in a while, the VA will do a cursory bug spray in the area.” But when consulted about the infestation in this particular instance, an entomologist with Orkin pest control said “To have these exterminators come back on a weekly basis, something is not quite right,” he said. “It looks like they never got (the bugs) under control in the first place.”

Below is an excerpt from a Conservative Review story about the whistleblower allegations.

A Chicago-area Veterans Affairs hospital overrun by cockroaches in its kitchen and food has been advised to “keep doing what they’re doing” because the infestation isn’t very severe, employees say. This was the recommendation of two exterminators employed by a Wisconsin VA hospital who surveyed the kitchen at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Ill. The pair met with upper management and union representatives Wednesday and said they didn’t see any cockroaches during their visit, according to social worker and union president Germaine Clarno and union steward Kelvin Gilney, who were present in the meeting. A Conservative Review investigation revealed allegations that cockroaches have infested the kitchen for years and the problem is so severe that the insects routinely find their way into patients’ meals.

A research scientist with Orkin said the only way to combat the problem is to close the kitchen, open the walls and all machinery, and vacuum the pests out. Sticky paper would be placed near the walls to determine where the bugs were coming from and then a reproduction sterilization bait would be used afterward. Right now, the bugs have become immune to the poisons used, said Orkin entomologist Ron Harrison. “I confronted them on pieces of the story, like how are they tracking the bugs?” Clarno said. “I asked if they could put sticky paper down and they said it was too expensive. The VA does everything bass-ackwards and goes above and beyond to do things wrong.” 

The VA exterminators suggested that Hines upgrade the plumbing system — specifically the drains — and fix broken flooring. But beyond that, they will just continue to spray foam around various areas, Clarno said.

Hines spokesperson Jane Moen would not comment on the latest events other than to reiterate an earlier comment: “The nutrition and food services area at Hines VA Hospital has weekly inspections and, if needed, treatments from the exterminator.”

Clarno and Gilkey said they have been inundated with emails and phone calls from co-workers who praised the pair for coming forward to Conservative Review with anecdotes regarding the infestation.

“Everyone in the hospital is talking about it,” Gilkey said. “They said management should have been held accountable and it’s terrible they let it get this far.”

To that end, Valerie Adegunleye — the chief of Nutrition and Food Services at Hines — should be fired, said U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who sent a demand letter to the VA last week seeking answers.

“I told her about this almost two years ago,” Gilkey added. “She didn’t do anything.”

Adegunleye did not respond to two requests for comment.

… For Kirk, the issue is personal because this fiasco has happened at one of the largest VA hospitals in his state. He has authored a Whistleblower Protection Act, spurred on by retaliation of employees who have come forward to report wrongdoing in the VA over the past few years. The Act will be included in the larger Military Construction appropriations bill.

“They spend much more time and effort covering up for their incompetence rather than fixing the problem,” Kirk said. “They need to open up the walls and get rid of these bugs. We are going to be writing a letter to the Inspector General to make sure it’s fixed.”

President Obama to Award Medals of Valor Today

Posted by Admin On May - 16 - 2016 Comments Off on President Obama to Award Medals of Valor Today

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Monday, May 16, the President will award the Medal of Valor to thirteen public safety officers during a ceremony in the East Room. The Medal of Valor is awarded to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect others from harm.

WHAT:                      President Obama to Award Medals of Valor

WHEN:                      Monday, May 16 at 11:00AM ET

Background on the Medal of Valor and the recipients:

The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor, authorized by the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Act of 2001, is the highest national award for valor presented to a public safety officer. The medal is awarded to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.

The Medal of Valor is awarded by the President of the United States, or his designee, to public safety officers cited by the Attorney General. Public safety officers are nominated by the chiefs or directors of their employing agencies and recommended by the Medal of Valor Review Board. The Attorney General has designated the U.S. Department of Justice’s department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) to serve as the federal point of contact for the Public Safety Medal of Valor.

Recipients of the 2013-2014 Medal of Valor:

    • Officer Mario Gutierrez (Miami-Dade Police Department, FL) For bravery and composure while enduring a violent attack.  Officer Gutierrez sustained multiple stab wounds while subduing a knife-wielding assailant who attempted to set off a massive gas explosion that could have resulted in multiple fatalities.
    • Patrolman Louis Cioci (Johnson City Police Department, NY) For courageously resolving a volatile encounter with a gunman.  After witnessing the murder of his fellow officer, Patrolman Cioci pursued and apprehended the gunman at a crowded hospital, thereby saving the lives of employees, patients, and visitors.
    • Officers Jason Salas and Robert Sparks (Santa Monica Police Department, CA), and Captain Raymond Bottenfield (Santa Monica College Police Department, CA) For courage and composure in ending a deadly rampage.  Officer Salas, Officer Sparks, and Captain Bottenfield placed themselves in mortal danger to save the lives of students and staff during a school shooting on the busy campus of Santa Monica College.
    • Major David Huff (Midwest City Police Department, OK) For uncommon poise in resolving a dangerous hostage situation.  Major Huff saved the life of a two-year-old girl after negotiations deteriorated with a man holding the child captive at knife point.
    • Officer Donald Thompson (Los Angeles Police Department, CA) For courageous action to save an accident victim.  While off duty, Officer Thompson traversed two freeway dividers and endured first- and second-degree burns while pulling an unconscious man to safety from a car moments before it became engulfed in flames.
  • Officer Coral Walker (Omaha Police Department, NE) For taking brave and decisive action to subdue an active shooter.  After exchanging gunfire, Officer Walker single-handedly incapacitated a man who had killed and injured multiple victims on a shooting spree.

Recipients of the 2014-2015 Medal of Valor:

    • Officer Gregory Stevens (Garland Police Department, TX) For demonstrating extraordinary courage to save lives.  Officer Stevens exchanged gunfire at close range and subdued two heavily-armed assailants preventing a mass shooting.
    • Fallen Sergeant Robert Wilson III (Philadelphia Police Department, PA) For giving his life to protect innocent civilians.  Sergeant Wilson put himself in harm’s way during an armed robbery, drawing fire from the assailants and suffering a mortal wound as he kept store employees and customers safe.
    • Officer Niel Johnson (North Miami Police Department, FL) For swift and valorous action to end a violent crime spree.  Officer Johnson pursued a man who had shot a Miami police officer and two other innocent bystanders, withstanding fire from an assault weapon, and apprehended the assailant.
    • Special Agent Tyler Call (Federal Bureau of Investigation) For his heroic actions to save a hostage.  Special Agent Call, who was off duty with his family, helped rescue a woman from her ex-husband who had violated a restraining order and held the victim at gunpoint.
  • Deputy Joey Tortorella (Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, NY) For placing himself in grave danger to protect his community.  Deputy Tortorella confronted and subdued a volatile gunman who had shot and wounded his parents inside their home and by doing so prevented the gunman from threatening the safety of students at a nearby elementary school.

FBI Release Preliminary Numbers on Officers Killed in 2015; Director Pays Tribute

Posted by Admin On May - 16 - 2016 Comments Off on FBI Release Preliminary Numbers on Officers Killed in 2015; Director Pays Tribute

On May 13, 2016, Director James Comey—joining U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, other officials, and families and friends of fallen law enforcement officers—participated in the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial’s annual candlelight vigil held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to honor the lives of officers whose names were recently added to the memorial wall. The vigil is one of many events held in honor of National Police Week, which officially began yesterday, May 15.

And today, the FBI released preliminary statistics on the number of law enforcement officers killed during 2015: Forty-one officers were feloniously killed (down from 51 in 2014), and an additional 45 officers were killed in line-of-duty accidents, the same number accidentally killed in 2014. Of the 41 felonious deaths, firearms were used in 38 incidents, and 30 of the 41 killed officers were wearing body armor at the time of the incident. Final statistics and complete details will be available in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s publication, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2015, which will be released this fall.

Voting Rights at Risk: State by State, Communities Push Back Against Voter Restrictions

Posted by Admin On May - 16 - 2016 Comments Off on Voting Rights at Risk: State by State, Communities Push Back Against Voter Restrictions

State by State, Communities Push Back Against Voter Restrictions

New America Media

 By Peter Schurmann

This is the first presidential election in which new voting restrictions will be in effect in 15 states. The restrictions have been easier to pass – and harder to track – as a result of a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limited portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Despite this, voting rights advocates say work is happening in states across the country to ensure eligible voters can register and cast their ballot.

“People who are qualified citizens [who] should be allowed to vote are being denied the ability to vote and their votes are not being counted,” explained Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a North Carolina-based non-profit.

“But if voters do have issues, there are advocates ready to try and help them vote, even on Election Day,” Earls said Thursday on a national telebriefing hosted by New America Media.

Earls pointed to a national hotline where “there is a network of volunteer attorneys throughout the country” available to help people who have been turned away from polling stations or are confused about new voting regulations. The hotline is available in English and Spanish.

She also noted that every state has online resources available detailing voter requirements. For example, the website nonprofitvote.org, provides state-specific and non-partisan voter information.

In areas where there is a significant population of non-English speaking residents, federal law requires states to provide language appropriate translations, Earls said.

There are currently 22 states that have some form of voter restriction in place, whether it be requiring photo IDs, cutting back on early voting or registration restrictions. Although it is difficult to measure their impact on overall turnout, these restrictions have had a pronounced impact on young, first-time and minority voters, as well as low-income voters and the elderly.

In 15 of these states, this year’s presidential election will be the first where such laws go into effect. People of color comprise 31 percent of the 2016 electorate, meaning these laws could have a significant impact on election results.

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruling abolished Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required that states with a history of racial discrimination toward minority voters gain approval from the federal government prior to enacting changes to local election laws.

“It is very difficult work,” to track changes to local election laws, said Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the national civil rights organization Advancement Project. She explained that while there were fewer pieces of restrictive legislation passed the previous year, local moves by election administrations continue to create barriers for would-be voters.

“Section 5… was our check on things. Now we don’t have a check. We have to go out and find out on our own, and unfortunately you may not find out until Election Day.”

But a look at the way these laws have played out in primary elections across the country provides an important indicator of what’s to come in November.

In Maricopa County, Arizona, residents waited in lines of up to five hours after election officials reduced polling places by 70 percent.

In Florida, “massive changes in precinct locations” left many voters unsure of where to cast their ballots.

In Macon-Bibb County, Georgia, officials opted to locate a polling station at the sheriff’s office, which Dianis said was an “intimidating factor” in keeping the predominantly African-American electorate from voting.

But Dianis stressed that in each of these areas, groups are working to either counter such changes or blunt their impact.

In Arizona, for example, local advocacy groups including Promise Arizona and One Arizona are banding together to create checks on election administration decisions. In Macon-Bibb, residents joined with the NAACP and New Georgia Project to press the county to relocate the polling station.

Meanwhile, in some states, organizing efforts have been successful at expanding voting rights.

For example, in Virginia, voting rights efforts helped push that state to restore voting rights to those with felony convictions on their record.

Dianis called the move a “huge victory,” affecting over 200,000 people in the state, many of them African American. “This didn’t happen on its own,” she said. “Communities of color got together to push for this.”

The task now in Virginia, she said, is to ensure that those who were formerly incarcerated and are newly eligible to vote actually know they are eligible and that they get register to vote.

Nationwide, there are “5.8 million people disenfranchised because of criminal convictions,” according to Dale Ho, director of the Voting Rights Project with the American Civil Liberties Union. In terms of population, he said, they would “be the 20th largest state in the country…with 10 votes in the electoral college.”

Ho also noted the “tremendous racial disparities” within this population, saying one in 13 voting-age African-American men is not eligible to vote because of a criminal conviction.

There are currently three states that have permanently disenfranchised people with felony convictions – Kentucky, Florida and Iowa. Two states – Maine and Vermont – allow people to vote even while incarcerated. “All other states fall somewhere in between,” said Ho, who said that the “restoration of voting rights is critical to the reintegration” into society of the formerly incarcerated.

Ho called the loss of Section 5 a “tremendous blow” and said it came just as voter participation and engagement among people of color was “surging.”

But there is also “a lot of good news” when it comes to voting rights, he said.

He pointed to efforts now underway in Congress to revitalize the Voting Rights Act, and said that in several states, including California, laws have been passed to automatically register voters. “The onus to register should be on the state, not on the citizen,” he said.

Meanwhile, the rhetoric now heard on the campaign trail suggests a continued push to disenfranchise voters, said Dianis.

“We’re seeing some wins, but we should look over the next few months,” she said. “We will find a fight around the right to vote.”

This telebriefing is part of a multi-state reporting fellowship for ethnic media aimed at informing communities about new and existing voter restriction laws. The project is supported by a grant from The Neo Fund.

Collins, Senate Win Funding Compromise for At-Risk Youth and More

Posted by Admin On May - 16 - 2016 Comments Off on Collins, Senate Win Funding Compromise for At-Risk Youth and More


Stopgap measure to fund meals for seniors, foreclosure prevention, other embattled services


SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) voted for legislation she co-sponsored to keep essential social services afloat while budget negotiations continue. The measure, which releases $715 million set aside in a number of state funds for human services, passed the House and Senate today with overwhelming bipartisan support and now goes to the governor’s desk.

“While the fight for full funding is not yet over, today’s action is an encouraging sign and a lifeline extended to a wide variety of vital services for our at-risk youth, our food-insecure seniors and other vulnerable residents,” Collins said. “If the governor signs this measure into law, it will finally provide relief to organizations that have been working without pay to serve the ‘least of these,’ even as they themselves have been held hostage.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 2038, funds Youth Build and other youth employment programs, homelessness prevention and affordable housing, Adult Redeploy programs that help ex-offenders take advantage of a second chance, breast and cervical cancer screenings, meals for low-income seniors and much more.

“Especially as Chicago sees alarming levels of violence this year, it is essential that the governor lend his signature to releasing these resources to keep our young people off the streets and show them a different path,” Collins said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to build on the progress we’ve made today and achieve sustainable budgets for this year and the next.”

White House and Department Of Labor Announce $21 Million for Summer and Year-Round Jobs For Young Americans And Launch Of 16 Summer Impact Hubs: FACT SHEET

Posted by Admin On May - 16 - 2016 Comments Off on White House and Department Of Labor Announce $21 Million for Summer and Year-Round Jobs For Young Americans And Launch Of 16 Summer Impact Hubs: FACT SHEET

“Access to a job in the summer and beyond can make all the difference to a young person – especially those who don’t have access to many resources and opportunities.” – President Barack Obama

A young person’s first job brings more than just a steady paycheck – the experience teaches young people life and work skills that serve them long after the job is done.  Summer is a critical time for young people to get access to first jobs that can provide important skills, experiences and networks for their future. At the same time, summer opportunities have been shown to divert youth from criminal involvement and reduce overall violence in communities.  That is why, in February, the White House launched the Summer Opportunity Project to increase the number of young Americans participating in evidence-based summer opportunity programs, decrease the percentage of youth experiencing violence over the summer, and—more broadly—make sure that young Americans have the support they need to get their first job. This work builds on the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force recommendation strengthening the case for summer youth employment and launching a cross-sector campaign to reduce summer learning loss and increase the number of job and internship opportunities for all young people.

Today, the White House and the Department of Labor are announcing new steps to advance that effort including the release of $21 million in Summer Jobs and Beyond grants to 11 communities to connect disadvantaged young people with jobs this summer and year-round. The White House is also launching 16 Summer Impact Hubs–communities that will receive robust, coordinated support from 16 federal agencies to expand and refine their summer jobs, learning, including exposure to local innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities, meals, and violence reduction programs.

These announcements are aimed at supporting a range of state and local leaders, community-based organizations, private sector leaders, philanthropic leaders, schools, other youth-serving agencies, and young people that are all coming together at the local level to ensure that our youth have productive, healthy summers that enhance their educational and career prospects.

Key Elements of Today’s Announcements include:


  • $21 million in Grants to Connect Young Americans to Jobs in the summer and Year-Round. The Department of Labor is announcing that 11 communities across the country will receive a total of $21 million to launch and expand innovative approaches that provide young people with summer and year-round jobs and connect them to long-term career pathways.
  • Launch of 16 Summer Impact Hubs. The White House is announcing an inter-agency effort to provide tailored support to 16 communities to enhance jobs, learning, meals, and violence reduction programs for young people this summer and year-round and to ensure that these programs are well coordinated. Each Hub is paired with a Federal “Summer Ambassador” who will spend the spring and summer partnering with them to meet their locally-driven goals by leveraging Federal resources, breaking down agency siloes, and building new local, regional, and national partnerships.

More Details on Today’s Announcements

$21 million Summer Jobs and Beyond Grant Winners

Today, the Department of Labor is announcing 11 winners of Summer Jobs and Beyond Grants, which will provide summer and year‐round part‐time job opportunities for In School Youth and employment and work experience opportunities throughout the year for young people who are out of school and work, in addition to exposure to career pathways in in‐demand job sectors. Grants will focus on building out innovative strategies to help young people transition from summer jobs into year-round work and career pathways.  Winning grant projects are summarized below.

  • Utica, NY: The New Americans Career Pathways project will provide in-school youth with summer jobs and academic support for 400 students in the refugee populations of Utica, NY.  The students will receive summer job work experience and academic tutoring in English and Math, and support in finding part- time jobs.
  • Portland, OR: The Pathways to Sector Employment for Youth project in the City of Portland and Multnomah and Washington Counties will provide on-ramps to industry sectors for in-school and out-of-school youth resulting in entry-level jobs along career pathways in health care, IT, manufacturing and infrastructure. All students will take a course in four targeted industry sectors and participate in a paid summer work experience.
  • Tribal counties in California, Illinois and Iowa: The Summer Youth Career Pathways Project will provide employment-related services to eligible Native American youth with limited work experience. The project aims to increase career readiness via online training courses that include digital skills, financial education, soft skills, career pathways, and workforce essentials. CIMC will work with thirty partners, including workforce agencies, human service agencies, local education agencies, employers, and community-based organizations.
  • Milwaukee, WI: The Milwaukee Career Plus project aims to connect in-school and out-of-school youth to career readiness, summer employment, continued education, career services and year-round employment opportunities. Program staff will be placed in high schools to connect directly with students, and a partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools will help to identify non-attenders as soon as possible and engage them in support.
  • Hartford, CT: The Promise Zone YES! project aims to transform and align youth-serving systems and enhance development services for 275 youth. Capital Workforce Partners will partner with the City of Hartford, Hartford Public Schools, Connecticut State Colleges & Universities, and two employers.
  • Chicago, IL: Beyond Summer Jobs program will prepare youth and connect them to permanent, unsubsidized employment. The project will serve 300 youth including 240 who are out of school. Youth will begin the program in a summer job and then will participate in an extended paid work experience at one of ten employer partners.
  • Santa Maria, CA: Santa Maria Summer Jobs & Beyond will serve 260 young adults by working with six partners to provide services while creating paid work experience opportunities, including summer and year-round employment that lead to skill building and postsecondary education pathways with coordination through the County of Santa Barbara Workforce Development Board.
  • Detroit, MI: Grow Detroit’s Young Talent program will create summer employment and year-round work experiences for 1,000 disconnected youth and underserved populations, including Latino and Arab-American youth. The Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation will create a one-stop reengagement center for youth that will: provide case management, career planning and referral services; offer work experiences in high-demand industry sectors among other activities.
  • Franklin Hampshire Region, MA: Franklin Hampshire Summer Jobs and Beyond project will target three of the most high-need and least-served communities in the western Massachusetts region with intensive outreach and services to youth. One-hundred-eighty in-school youth with little to no work experience will receive intensive services, including job placement and college readiness.
  • Indianapolis, IN: Youth Works Indy program will enhance existing summer youth employment programs and expand work readiness skills training and work experiences for participants in high-poverty, high-crime Indianapolis neighborhoods. Youth Works Indy expects to enroll 834 youth, and place 364 in unsubsidized employment and 182 in post-secondary employment.  Indianapolis Private Industry Council, Inc. will partner with 5 summer employment programs, 4 local education agencies, 3 re-engagement centers, and 49 allied employers.
  • Philadelphia, PA: PA CareerLink® Philadelphia: Youth & Young Adult Opportunity Hub (YOH/theHub) project will leverage partnerships with employers, universities, youth serving community organizations, and others to implement a multifaceted approach to providing youth with work experience opportunities that include summer and year-round part-time opportunities for in-school youth and exposure to in-demand job experience for out-of-school youth. The Hub will target 250 youth ages 16-24 in the Philadelphia area.

Launch of 16 New Summer Impact Hubs

Over the last seven years, the Administration has been working to transform the Federal government into a more effective partner for local communities. Federal government leaders are working hand in hand with local stakeholders to craft solutions that harness resources across multiple agencies in response to local needs and priorities. Since 2009, more than fifteen Federal agencies have launched dozens of initiatives and partnerships with over 1,800 rural, tribal and urban communities. From Fresno to Detroit, Southeast Kentucky to Baltimore, Federal leaders are working across agency lines and offering hands-on support to build local capacity, provide expertise, and unlock resources to help community leaders achieve their goals.

Building on that work, the White House and 16 federal agencies announce an effort today to provide tailored support from the Federal government to 16 Summer Impact Hubs to upgrade and expand their summer jobs, learning, meals, and violence reduction programs for young people this summer and year-round. These communities have each been paired with a Federal “Summer Ambassador” who will spend the spring and summer partnering with them to meet their locally-driven goals by leveraging existing Federal resources, breaking down agency siloes, and building new local and national partnerships. The Administration is also enlisting the targeted support of companies and philanthropy to create more opportunities for young people in these communities.

Federal agencies will support these efforts. For example, the Department of Agriculture is providing nutritious meals; the Department of Education is offering technical assistance though its Summer Opportunity iForums webinars; the Department of Treasury is offering information on financial education and account access; the Department of Health and Human Services will provide guidance on how cities can use Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to support youth employment; the Department of Housing and Urban Development is enlisting the help of its network of 3,000 Public Housing Authorities to secure employment opportunities for more than 1,000  youth this summer.

In February, the President called on state and local leaders, community organizations, schools, and businesses to step up to connect young people to their first jobs and summer learning, meal, and violence reduction programs. If you would like to get involved in supporting a Summer Impact Hub click here.

This summer, the Administration will announce progress toward meeting the local Summer Impact Hub goals and organizations that have stepped up to support them at block parties across the country.  These events will engage youth, families, businesses, local innovators and entrepreneurs, and community leaders around making this summer active, healthy, safe and productive.

Summer Impact Hubs

1.     Baltimore, MD

2.     Clarksdale, MS

3.     Detroit, MI

4.     Flint, MI

5.     Gary, IN

6.     Houston, TX

7.     Indianapolis, IN

8.     Jonesboro, AR

9.     Los Angeles, CA

10.  Memphis, TN

11.  Newark, NJ

12.  New Orleans, LA

13.  Pine Bluff, AR

14.  Pine Ridge, SD

15.  St. Louis, MO

16.  Washington, D.C

President’s $5.5 Billion FY 2017 Budget Proposal to Open Doors to A First Job

While our new efforts will be crucial to supporting more at-risk youth over the summer, reaching the scale needed to create job opportunities for all at-risk young Americans will require significant new investments at the federal level.

The President’s FY 2017 Budget proposes new investments – nearly double last year’s request – to connect more than 1 million young people to first jobs over the summer and year-round. It would also create a new $2 billion competitive grant program designed to connect at-risk and disconnected youth to educational and workforce pathways. DOL will work with Treasury to ensure that young people participating in these programs have access to safe and appropriate financial products and accounts.

Source: whitehouse.gov

Students Serve Award-Winning Lunch Recipe to State Board

Posted by Admin On May - 16 - 2016 Comments Off on Students Serve Award-Winning Lunch Recipe to State Board


CPS culinary students placed 1st in 2015 Healthy Schools Campaign Cooking up Change competition


SPRINGFIELD, IL — Four George Washington High School students enrolled in Chicago Public Schools’ culinary program served their award-winning Cajun chicken lettuce wraps, roasted corn relish, and peach and yogurt pizza to Board members during the Illinois State Board of Education’s monthly meeting in Springfield Wednesday. 

Marshawn Gibson, Jalize Harmonponcedeleon, Neidy Mejia, and Natalie Ruiz competed last October against 14 other Chicago District 299 high schools. Student chefs were challenged with creating dishes that their peers would enjoy while following strict nutritional guidelines with limited ingredients, budget, time, and equipment. George Washington High chefs came out on top with their lettuce wraps in a creative and healthy spin on a popular restaurant chain dish. Their recipe has already been served three times this year in the district and will very likely be introduced into the regular lunch rotation.

“I’m always amazed at what students can produce when presented with a challenge,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “Not only are these students able to focus on doing what they love, but are building skills and gaining qualifications for their futures. I only wish my school lunches could have been this delicious!”

Healthy Schools Campaign, a nonprofit organization based in Chicago, aims to ensure all students have access to a healthy school environment. The Cooking up Change competition has grown over the years and spread to other cities across the nation. The George Washington High School students will compete this summer in Washington, D.C., against other contest winners from states including California and Texas.

“These Chicago students along with other students around the country are working to change one school lunch menu at a time and help food service directors get a better handle on the challenge of pleasing student taste buds,” said Healthy Schools Campaign President and CEO Rochelle Davis.

District culinary programs offer students the opportunity to work with professional chefs, build resumes, earn certifications, and gain valuable experience and networking opportunities that will help them to succeed in college and careers.

“These students are doing what professional chefs do every day and loving every minute of it,” said CPS Senior Program Coordinator David Blackmon. “We do this because it’s a lot of fun to support not only the students, but the teachers, while giving them the essentials to support curriculum and student learning.”    

Illinois Poised to Take Lead on Remap Reform Nationally

Posted by Admin On May - 16 - 2016 Comments Off on Illinois Poised to Take Lead on Remap Reform Nationally

Senate passes Raoul’s answer to Obama’s call for “a better politics”


SPRINGFIELD, IL — Answering the call President Barack Obama issued in his February speech to the General Assembly, State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) secured Senate passage of bipartisan legislation that would allow Illinois to take the lead in reforming the way states draw the boundaries of their political districts.

The interstate compact, if enacted by 37 other states, would establish a uniform, transparent procedure in which an independent commission redraws each state’s congressional and legislative maps every 10 years, insulating the crucial process from partisan gamesmanship. It would also strengthen protections for minority communities, which historically have been vulnerable to disenfranchisement during redistricting.

“We know redistricting needs to be a more open, less secretive and more independent process – one in which diversity, transparency and public participation are the predominant values,” said Raoul, who in 2011 pushed through a law bringing mandatory public hearings and important minority protections to the state legislative redistricting process. “But President Obama is right that change must encompass red and blue states alike. Illinois is ready to take the first step and challenge other states to join us.”

Raoul’s proposal is an interstate compact that would take effect only if every state with at least three congressional districts (there are currently 38 of them, including Illinois) enacts substantially similar legislation. If that happens, member states’ maps will be drawn after every census by an independent commission made up of 14 members – five affiliated with each political party and four unaffiliated with either. Each state’s auditor would bear primary responsibility for determining the commission’s makeup. Commissioners must not be elected officials, candidates or lobbyists, and the composition of each commission would reflect the racial, gender and geographic diversity of its state. The commission would be required to hold public hearings around the state and make the data it uses available online for members of the public to draw and submit their own proposed maps. If a majority of the commission (including at least three members of each party and three unaffiliated members) could not agree on a plan, the state’s highest court would appoint special masters to complete the task.

In his Feb. 10 address to the Illinois General Assembly on the need to “build a better politics,” Obama identified partisan redistricting as a cause of political polarization and congressional gridlock. “In America, politicians should not pick their voters; voters should pick their politicians,” Obama said. “And this needs to be done across the nation, not just in a select few states.”

“Redistricting can be a confusing process that leaves voters across America wondering why they don’t have more input, more choices and stronger civil rights protections,” Raoul said. “Now more than ever, our nation desperately needs to bolster public confidence in the integrity and fairness of our politics. It’s a nationwide problem, and Illinois is in a position to initiate a nationwide conversation about the solution.”

Senate Bill 322 now moves to the House for its consideration.

“Kung Fu Brother,” Top Winner at Action on Film International Festival – Now Available on Premium Vod and Streaming

Posted by Admin On May - 16 - 2016 Comments Off on “Kung Fu Brother,” Top Winner at Action on Film International Festival – Now Available on Premium Vod and Streaming

Martial Arts Thriller Delivers Non Stop Hilarity with a Wicked Dose of Kung Fu Fever
Kung Fu Brother

Culver City, CA (BlackNews.com) — Shot entirely on location in Thailand and the Philippines, KUNG-FU BROTHER is an action packed, comedy thriller that profiles the mysterious complexities of ancestral Japanese assassins. The film follows a series of bizarre murders occurring in the pursuit to acquire the Kuji Denjo Scrolls. These sacred scrolls are part of a legacy of an ancient civilization known as the Weirding Clan.

KUNG-FU BROTHER is flavored with multi-racial characters who come together in the common pursuit of a murderer on a deadly mission to acquire the sacred scrolls. Three cops and a no-nonsense female reporter find themselves bound by distrust, suspicion, love, hate… and a pair of handcuffs. A strange romance unfolds among an array of murders, a lush setting and a psychological jolt.

Bey Logan, Producer, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny calls KUNG-FU BROTHER a Fast, fun Kung Fu comedy by one of the true unsung heroes of the genre. (writer/director) Marcus gave new meaning to the phrase by any means necessary when he stretched his shoestring budget to two countries and 90 minutes, and then used it to tie the bow on a martial arts mini-masterpiece. Dont miss it! World famous actor/director/producer and martial arts expert Jackie Chan echoed the same sentiments after seeing the film at a special screening.

KUNG-FU BROTHER stars James Huang, Rona Lee Par, Ron Hall, Fred Ochs and Michael Wilson. Writer/Director Marcus Aurelius taps into the soul of independent films, highlighting the issue of diversity at times, the lack thereof – in Hollywood. I’ve been able to gain a foothold in shedding light on the lack of diversity in the film industry, simply by creating my own opportunity, Aurelius offers. You think diversity in Hollywood is tough? Try producing a small urban indie film in two different countries with two different languages! Aurelius is currently tapped by Joseph Collins to write, produce and direct 13 episodes of an action/horror/comedy TV series to be shot entirely in Thailand and the Philippines again. Principle photography is set to begin this fall, with a 2017 delivery for the Punch TV Network.

KUNG-FU BROTHER premiered at the Action On Film International Film Festival where it took home the Action Film of the Year Award and won Runner Up for the Best Director Award.

KUNG-FU BROTHER premieres May 12th on DirectTV, In Demand, Dish TV, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play and Hoopla, iTunes, Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox.
Watch the trailer below:
Facebook: http://bit.ly/KungFuBrother
Twitter: @KungFuBrother
Instagram: @KungFuBrotherfilm2016



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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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