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Archive for October 5th, 2016

Wrongfully Convicted Indiana Man Seeking Innocence-Based Pardon Files Petition in Face of Gov. Pence Inaction

Posted by Admin On October - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS


Indiana Pardon & Parole Board unanimously recommended
two years ago that Governor Pence pardon Keith Cooper 


Trial prosecutor and Republican representative from district where crime occurred sent letters urging Pence to grant pardon


Elkhart, IN – Attorneys for a wrongfully man who spent over a decade in maximum security prison for a crime he didn’t commit filed a post-conviction petition in Elkhart County Circuit Court today after Governor Mike Pence refused to grant a pardon despite the unanimous recommendation of the state’s Pardon & Parole Board.

Mr. Cooper, 46, with no prior criminal record, was wrongfully convicted of a 1996 armed robbery and attempted murder in Elkhart.  At the time of his arrest, Cooper was married with three young children and employed at two jobs.  While wrongfully incarcerated, his young family was forced to sell all of their possessions, move into shelters, and eventually become homeless.

Keith Cooper’s former prosecutor wrote Pence a letter urging the Governor to pardon Mr. Cooper, as did the Republican State Representative for the district in which the murder occurred. As Michael A. Christofeno, the former prosecutor wrote,

“Justice demands that Mr. Cooper be pardoned. As an attorney I certainly understand Mr. Cooper’s procedural decision which allowed him to be released from prison but did not remove his conviction. Justice however should not be circumvented under this set of circumstances on procedural grounds. We cannot undo the wrongful imprisonment of Mr. Cooper, but we can undo his wrongful conviction with a pardon.”


On September 20, 2016, Mark Ahearn, General Counsel for Governor Pence, sent correspondence to Mr. Cooper’s legal team stating that Governor Pence would not consider Mr. Cooper’s request for a pardon any further until Mr. Cooper went to court again.

Governor Pence’s first public statement regarding Mr. Cooper’s pardon petition occurred five years after the petition was filed and two years after the Indiana Pardon and Parole unanimously recommended that Governor Pence grant Mr. Cooper a pardon based upon actual innocence.  More significantly, Gov. Pence’s response was sent the day after Mr. Cooper’s case was featured once again on the front page of the Indianapolis Star.

Mr. Cooper’s hearing was held before the Indiana Pardon and Parole Board in February 2014.  The victims, Canell and Kershner, testified on behalf of Mr. Cooper at that hearing.  As a result of that hearing, the Indiana Pardon and Parole Board made a unanimous recommendation that Governor Pence grant Mr. Cooper’s pardon based upon actual innocence.  Shortly thereafter, the trial prosecutor who wrongfully convicted Mr. Cooper sent correspondence to Governor Pence urging him to grant the pardon.  State Republican Representative David Ober also sent correspondence to Governor Pence requesting a pardon on Mr. Cooper’s behalf.  Even Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate John Gregg has committed to issuing a pardon to Mr. Cooper should he be elected.  In spite of all that, after two years, Governor Pence has failed to act on Mr. Cooper’s pardon petition. 

“The lack of courage displayed by Governor Pence is shocking.  Governor Pence has an opportunity to provide a measure of happiness and closure to all the victims in this case – the victims of this tragic and senseless crime, and Keith Cooper, a victim in his own right, who lost a decade of his life for a crimes he did not commit,” said Elliot Slosar, Attorney for The Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School. 

“Instead of using his executive power to change the life of an undisputedly innocent man, Governor Pence has decided to punt the issue to the next Governor of Indiana and inform Mr. Cooper that he needs to head back to the same court where he got wrongfully convicted in the first place.”

 As a result of Governor Pence’s inaction, a post-conviction petition was filed today in Elkhart County Circuit Court.  The current Elkhart County Prosecutor, Curtis Hill, is currently running as the Republican nominee for Attorney General in Indiana.  Mr. Hill has publicly refused to give his position on Mr. Cooper’s pardon petition and it’s unknown whether he will fight the post-conviction petition filed today by Mr. Cooper’s legal team.

The Wrongful Case Against Cooper

Mr. Cooper was wrongfully convicted of a 1996 armed robbery and attempted murder in Elkhart. 

Even though DNA testing of crime scene evidence – a hat left by the shooter – cleared him as a suspect, Mr. Cooper was still wrongfully convicted. His wrongful conviction was based on false testimony by a jail-house snitch and erroneous witness identifications that were manipulated by Elkhart Detective Steve Rezutko, who had previously been demoted for engaging in a pattern of similar misconduct.  As Rezutko’s former supervisor put in a sworn statement, the detective “often put together extremely suggestive line-ups in order to push the witness towards his preferred suspect instead of letting the witness make an independent decision.” 

All the eyewitnesses against Cooper have since recanted their identifications describing how they were manipulated by Detective Rezutko into falsely implicating Mr. Cooper.  Nona Canell, a victim and eyewitness, provided testimony in front of the Indiana Parole Board in support of Mr. Cooper’s pardon petition.  In that hearing, Ms. Canell told the Pardon and Parole Board, “If you want me to be happy, please give Keith Cooper his name back.”  Notably, Michael Kershner, the crime victim who was shot back in 1996, also staunchly supported Mr. Cooper’s pardon.

More sophisticated DNA testing conducted in 2002, five years after Cooper’s conviction, not only cleared Mr. Cooper of the crime, but pointed to a serial offender, Johlanis Cortez Ervin, who is now imprisoned in Michigan for a 2002 murder.  Tragically, if Elkhart police had properly investigated the 1996 armed robbery and attempted murder of Mr. Kershner, Mr. Cooper’s life would not have been ruined and Mr. Ervin might have been prevented from harming others as well.

A copy of the petition is available here. A royalty-free, high resolution 2014 photo of Mr. Cooper and the victim’s family members who support his petition for a pardon, is available by sending an email to andy@loevy.com with the subject line, “Send Mr. Cooper’s photo.”

U.S. Senate Passes NAACP-Supported Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016

Posted by Admin On October - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

U.S. House must now pass this crucial, bipartisan legislation to investigate murders committed during the Civil Rights Era for it to go to president Obama to become law.

The Issue:
Due to our Nation’s sorry history of bigotry, racism and hatred, as many as 4,000 racially suspicious murders were committed in this country prior to 1950, and few attempts to prosecute them were ever pursued. To correct some of these past wrongs, in 2008 Congress passed the Emmett Till Reauthorization Act, which created a special division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to re-open and attempt to resolve these cases.

Just before leaving for its six week break away from Washington, on July 14, 2016, the U.S. Senate passed, unanimously and with strong bipartisan work and support, the NAACP-supported S. 2854, the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016. S. 2854 was sponsored and introduced by Senators Richard Burr (NC), Patrick Leahy (VT), and Claire McCaskill (MO) and Roy Blunt (MO). The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is joined by companion legislation, H.R. 5067, which was introduced by Congressmen John Lewis (GA), John Conyers, Jr. (MI) and F. James Sensenbrenner (WI).

This vital legislation responds to the concerns of families, advocates, and academics who have closely followed the Federal, State, and local efforts to investigate and when possible prosecute crimes which were racially motivated and have been closed without a conviction. This common-sense reauthorization will help DOJ to better coordinate its investigations and prosecutions with the FBI and local authorities and will address gaps in the previous bill and the existing program regardless of when the crime occurred. Most notably, the current bill clarifies and expands the process for transparency and collaboration between all stakeholders in the shared pursuit of justice.

We must now get the House of Representatives to pass a bill and thus send it to the desk of President Obama so it may become law.

Powerful Documentary Addresses Race-Related Issues Affecting Black Women in the Corporate Workplace

Posted by Admin On October - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
Documentary addresses race-related issues affecting black women in the corporate workplace
“Invisible Women: Being a Black Woman in Corporate America”
~ Documentary Screening, Reception, Discussion | Oct. 12 | Holy Names University ~

“For too long, women have been underrepresented, passed over, underpaid, harassed and bullied in the workplace. Like many black women, I’m an educated and ambitious woman who has all the skills to lead, and still I experience many acts of race and gender discrimination during my career journey. It’s a real and raw reality for black women, which at times leaves us feeling broken, hopeless, isolated and generally devastated. I chose this documentary as a method to share some women’s horrid stories with the world. I am unapologetic and taking a stand for US.”  Melody Shere’a, director of ‘Invisible Women’


OAKLAND, CA: Head Not The Tail Productions (HNTT Productions) is excited to announce the forthcoming screening of its important and timely documentary titled Invisible Women: Being a Black Woman in Corporate America. The film, directed by Melody Shere’a and executive produced by Monica Simmons, is a powerful and inspiring documentary that is the result of a year-long research study interviewing black professional women in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. Invisible Women uncovers and addresses issues around racism that profoundly affect black women in the corporate workplace. The women share respective experiences of disappointment and rejection when simply trying to earn a living and/or compete against white, Asian and women of other races for a higher step on the corporate ladder. Invisible Women will screen Wednesday, October 12, 2016 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Valley Center for the Performing Arts, a unique performance facility that exists in the Oakland Hills on the scenic campus of Holy Names University (3500 Mountain Blvd., Oakland, CA). The evening will encompass the film viewing, reception and panel discussion. Tickets are $20 through Oct. 2; $30 thereafter.


“For the production of Invisible Women, we interviewed black women of varied professional levels who generously shared their previously untold stories and feelings around race-related issues on the job,” said Shere’a, HNTT Productions founder and CEO. “In conducting the research, we found the corporate practice of discrimination to be a common harsh reality faced by countless women of color. We also interviewed experts who provide employment reports and statistical data on this topic.”


Shere’a, the film’s director and executive producer Simmons are talented sisters. They have each personally experienced workplace race and gender discrimination throughout their corporate careers, which is how they conceived the idea to develop this documentary.


HNTT Productions partnered with non-profit organizations BlackFemaleProject.Org and Center for Talent Innovation to dig into the issues, look at the facts, explore the reality of working in corporate America as a black woman and delve into ways to improve the environment for tomorrow’s young black corporate professionals.


While there is certainly lobbying at local, state and federal levels for gender equality and diversity in the workplace, women’s discrimination remains a troubling issue that as yet has not been adequately addressed. Though numerous entities address the issue by hiring and promoting more women into management positions and corporate executive roles, a considerable recognition/advancement gap still exists for black women.


The playing field isn’t level and well-qualified black women are too frequently denied the opportunity to explore similar career growth opportunities as their white and other female counterparts. The facts and details you will learn from this documentary will surprise you.


About News noted in a May 2016 report that although black women only make up 12.7 percent of the female population in the country, they consistently make up over 50 percent—and sometimes much more—of the number of blacks who receive postsecondary degrees. Percentage-wise, Black women outpace white women, Latinas, Asian/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans in the education arena. However, a recent study found black women make up just 8% of private sector jobs and 1.5% of leadership roles.


Shere’a has a passion for empowering and mentoring young girls, and is a “Woman of Impact” member for Girls Inc. Alameda County. A portion of the event proceeds will be donated to the following organizations:Black Female Project,Girls Inc Alameda County,Girls Who Code and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. To contribute directly to the fund, visit IndieGoGo crowdfunding page.


About Head Not The Tail Productions (HNTTP)


HNTTP Productions, founded in 2016 by Melody Shere’a, is located in the heart of Oakland, California. The company creates, develops, produces and invests in film, television and documentary projects. The entertainment industry veteran possesses more than 10 years acting, print modeling and voice-over experience. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Shere’a graduated from Cal State Hayward, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree, and later pursued an MBA in Finance at Holy Names University in Oakland.

Monica Simmons is the Executive Producer of the documentary and head of production and film development for HNTT Productions.

Shere’a, HNTT Productions CEO states, “For too long our stories have been left behind. It is HNTTP’s goal is to bring forth the change needed in the entertainment industry by becoming the ‘Head and Not The Tail’ in this business”.    HNTTProductions.com.

Georgia Police Officer Shot Herself and Said a Black Man Did It!

Posted by Admin On October - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Officer Sherry Hall

Jackson, GA (BlackPR.COM) Officer Sherry Hall from a local Georgia police department is currently being investigated after she reportedly lied and claimed that a Black man shot her before fleeing the scene. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), her claim has since been deemed to not be true, and the officer has officially been charged with issuing false statements, tampering, interference with government property and a violation of oath of office.

Hall had reportedly checked into a local health facility seeking assistance, after saying during a police radio call that a Black man had shot her in the abdomen while she was wearing her bulletproof vest. The added that he fled the scene immediately afterwards.Joe Wooten, special agent in charge of GBI’s Milledgeville office, said in a statement, “After following leads and evidence, the investigation has now revealed that there is no, and never was, a suspect shooter at large in Jackson, Georgia.”

Even worse, it was also determined that Hall planted a shell casing from the gun on the scene to back up her claim that she was shot.

Jackson police Chief James Morgan referred to the situation as “an unfortunate incident” and the Butts County Sheriff called the situation a “horrific event” and even referred to Hall as “a criminal.”

Hall has since been arrested, released on bail, and then fired from the police force. But the investigation continues.

National Center Policy Analysis Statement on Vice Presidential Debate

Posted by Admin On October - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
Op-Ed By James H. Amos, Jr., President & CEO, NCPA


Last night’s Vice Presidential debate proved to be one of measurable national security ideas, with both candidates taking advantage of the debate stage to elaborate on their running mates’ respective foreign policy strategy. Though the candidates defined “American strength” differently, both argued for a strong U.S. presence globally. Both candidates also supported an improved military, but Kaine failed to articulate how this can be achieved with Clinton’s plan to increase domestic spending. Our work has shown that the government spends enough, and that it’s the wisdom behind the spending remains the problem. Kaine wanted to extend the current administration’s largely failing strategy with ISIS, while Pence suggested a more aggressive approach. Kaine’s claims of the “success” of the Iran deal, the decrease in terrorism “in some ways” and the reset with Russia, all touted as achievements by Kaine, were demonstrably false.

While Senator Kaine and Governor Pence touched on domestic economic policy, there were many missed opportunities to address the respective campaigns’ vision and direction for the American economy. As it relates to topics such as capital investment, job creation, economic growth and entitlement reform, we learned nothing new. While it’s correct that both the Trump and Clinton plans will increase the national debt, the Trump plan will create more jobs and actually increase incomes for all income

earners, not just the wealthy.  Hillary’s plan will raise more revenue than Trump’s plan to cover her new spending programs.

The candidates very briefly touched on Social Security solvency but the potential to discuss reform quickly turned into heated accusations over “privatization.” Our hope is the next Presidential debates will put forth tangible solutions for social security reform.

It’s still difficult to discern what each administration would do to address the crushing regulations on small business and the mounting national debt. While the Clinton campaign touts small business growth as one of five tenets for stabilizing the American economy, we still haven’t heard how she plans to do that in a way that creates net-positive private sector jobs.

Once again, we heard almost nothing as it relates to health care reform. In the wake of Obamacare’s failure, the country needs s different approach to health care that reduces the power of the federal government, frees innovation, and allows patients to control their health dollars. Indiana has made marginal improvements in this direction, through the Healthy Indiana Program for state employees, and we hope the reforms Governor Pence inherited from his predecessor will influence federal health policy.

Overall, the ideas presented defined each potential administration; from Senator Kaine we heard a promise of more government, and from Governor Pence, we heard a plea for less. While the Vice Presidential debate was a decidedly more thoughtful discussion about critical policy issues, we’re still not clear whether either administration has a detailed plan for solving the aforementioned critical issues.


James H. Amos, Jr.
President & CEO, NCPA
The NCPA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public policy organization. We depend entirely on the financial support of individuals, corporations and foundations that believe in private sector solutions to public policy problems.


After 18 Years of Near-Silence, Warren Beatty Opens Up in the October/November Issue of AARP The Magazine

Posted by Admin On October - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
On the eve of releasing his first film in nearly two decades, Hollywood legend Warren Beatty talks about his late-in-life family, his fabled reputation as a ladies’ man, and his fifty-year career as a leading man, writer and director.


WASHINGTON, DC – For much of the past two decades, Warren Beatty has kept himself out of the public eye. In an exclusive interview with AARP The Magazine (ATM), Beatty gives us a peek into what he’s been doing these past years, and opens up about nearly every aspect of his life-from his humble beginnings to his reputation as a sex symbol on and off screen to his enduring marriage to Annette Bening.

The stories Beatty tells reveal the man he is today: a Hollywood playboy transformed into a dedicated family man…who’s now re-entering the limelight as co-star, director, producer, and writer of the new romantic comedy-drama Rules Don’t Apply, in which he plays Howard Hughes. Though Beatty and Hughes never met, some similarities are striking. Like Hughes, Beatty has charm, curiosity, and a self-confessed control-freak nature. And, like Hughes, Beatty met with success at a young age.

Beatty’s success began with his first film role in 1961 when he co-starred with Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass. He’s been a movie star ever since. Forty years in the movie industry have granted him the status of legend, with lead roles in such classics as Bonnie and Clyde, Shampoo, Dick Tracy, and Bugsy, and writer-actor-director credits for Reds, Heaven Can Wait, and Bulworth. Beatty may have left the limelight for a time, but as this interview shows, his star power hasn’t dimmed.

The following are excerpts from the October/November issue of the AARP The Magazine cover story featuring Warren Beatty, available in homes starting October 1st and available online now at www.aarp.org/magazine/:

On his dating history in Hollywood

He insists there is wild hyperbole in his reputation as a man-slut and disputes the mathematics of the 12,775 women one of his biographers, Peter Biskind, has claimed for him. “Think about it, sleeping with 12,775 people,” he says, not without a certain amount of glee. “That would mean not just that there were multiple people a day, but that there was no repetition.”

So let’s say for the sake of argument it wasn’t 12,775. Let’s say it was a few hundred…and why is it nobody seems mad at him…everyone wants to know the secret of bedding half of Hollywood and not having them want you dead.

Beatty just blinks at me innocently, with a kind of guileless sincerity. “Look, I never misled anyone,” he says. “And…and I’m a nice guy.”

On maintaining an illusion of beauty and success in Hollywood

“You’re participating in a profession that, for obvious reasons, needs to heighten elements of sexuality,” especially “if you delay marriage for a long time.”

He had often been involved with his leading ladies, but this was not the case when he worked with Bening in Bugsy. “During the making of the movie, there was no suggestion as to a future relationship,” Beatty says. “I mean, there was in my head, but otherwise, no.” When filming started, he told her, “You don’t have to worry about me.” And she said, “Well, I didn’t ask.”

On his marriage of 24 years to Annette Bening

He sees a clear demarcation in his life – BA and AA, Before Annette and After Annette… “I waited a long time to be married,” he continues. “When you don’t get married until you’re 54…well, as Arthur Miller said, ‘it comes with the territory.’ He refers to a line in the playwright’s Death of a Salesman. “A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.”

Annette Bening on her husband, Warren Beatty

“There’s always a part of what he’s doing that’s private,” Bening says, “but we talk a lot about everything. Some people pay lip service to listening to others and they’re really not listening. He does. He loves actors, and while he’s shooting he’s always interested in what people are saying. He’s a terrific audience.”

Annette Bening on having Beatty around the house

After having him at home for almost two decades, it must have been difficult to have him focused on something other than their family. “Are you kidding?” she says, laughing. “I was like, ‘I am ready to kill you. Just make the movie, please, please, please.’ But like other people at his level of talent, he does it when he’s ready. And no one’s saying anything made a difference, including me.”

His thoughts on becoming an actor

Beatty insists that for a long time, “I resisted knowing I was interested in acting. I guess the word you’d use would be ‘shy.’ I preferred sports.”

On his filmmaking process

“I have often compared making a movie to vomiting,” Beatty says. “I don’t like to vomit. But there are times I think, Maybe I’ll just feel better if I go ahead and throw up. So then I make the movie.”

On a Dick Tracy sequel

“I liked the original very much, and it was very profitable,” he says. “Jeffrey Katzenberg once asked me to do a sequel. At the time, I thought sequels were beneath me. Now I realize how far below sequels I am.”

On being a famous father

“Being an older father doesn’t seem to be an issue for him. Being a famous father does: “It’s a burden to be the child of not only one famous parent, but two.”

Beatty on the idea of living on through his children

“DNA becomes more relevant as we get older,” he says. His four children – Stephen, 24 (who has cofounded Vetch, a poetry journal for transgender writers); Benjamin 22, an actor; Isabel, 19; and Ella, 16 – are “by far the best thing that happened to me.”

“I always knew I wanted to have children,” Beatty says. “I wanted to do it well, and I wanted to do it with someone who felt the same way.”

Beatty on hobbies

“You know you’re old when you’re asked, ‘do you have hobbies?'” he says, smiling. “No. It’s a luxury to spend time with your family. And I was always mulling projects.”

About AARP The Magazine

With nearly 36 million readers, AARP The Magazine is the world’s largest circulation magazine and the definitive lifestyle publication for Americans 50+. AARP The Magazine delivers comprehensive content through health and fitness features, financial guidance, consumer interest information and tips, celebrity interviews, and book and movie reviews. AARP The Magazine was founded in 1958 and is published bimonthly in print and continually online. Learn more at www.aarp.org/magazine/. Twitter: twitter.com/AARP

About AARP
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into ‘Real Possibilities’ by changing the way America defines aging. With staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and promote the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare security, financial security and personal fulfillment. AARP also advocates for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry

Coalition Demands Disclosure of Terms of Rauner’s Swap Deal

Posted by Admin On October - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Gov. Rauner’s announced agreement on swap payouts to Wall Street banks lack details

Coalition of educators and human service providers skeptical, demand disclosure of agreement terms

SPRINGFIELD, IL Gov. Rauner reacted to Illinois educators and human service providers who had gathered for a press conference to call on the governor to prevent a near $1 billion payout connected to toxic interest rate swap deals with big banks.

A last minute press release by the governor’s office said the state had reached new agreements on the swap deals that would “reduce the state’s financial risk.”  However, the release raises many questions.  It claims that “the new terms are more favorable to the state” but provides no details about the new terms or if the agreements save the state money.

“We want to see the terms of these new deals. Taxpayers deserve to know what the Governor has negotiated and if it benefits them or big Wall Street banks like JP Morgan Chase,” said Amisha Patel, Executive Director of the Grassroots Collaborative. “There is too much at stake for us to just take the governor at his word. Illinois taxpayers have already had more than $670 million taken away from our schools and universities and critical services like childcare, senior services, and violence prevention programs, in order to pay for Wall Street banks’ profits,” she said.

Organizers said any action that Governor Rauner has taken around the interest rate swaps and letters of credit is a result of the pressure they had put on him to stop paying Wall Street banks while universities and social services starve for funding.

When asked about the news from the Governor’s office, Saqib Bhatti, author of “Turned Around: How the Swaps that were Supposed to Save Illinois Millions Became Toxic,” commented, “The devil is in the details.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a similar announcement when he renegotiated toxic swap deals.  A few months later, Chicago taxpayers had to pay $400 million in termination payments. We won’t know the potential impact of Rauner’s agreements until we see the actual terms.”

Notably, the statement from the governor’s office does not offer any detail about the status of five Letters of Credit that are attached to the swaps that were renegotiated.  These Letters of Credit will expire on Nov. 27th, 2016, triggering a massive payout of nearly $1 billion that would have to be diverted from already hurting education and human service programs.   The Governor’s statement merely says the priority is to “renew or replace” the letters of credit.

John Miller, President of the University Professionals of Illinois Local 4100 said about today’s announcement, “We need to see these agreements.  And we need an announcement from the Governor that he is currently negotiating with the five banks in question.  Our state cannot afford a $1 billion payout to big Wall Street banks while our college students are leaving the state, because they don’t know if their university will be open two months from now.”

Statewide “Those Who Excel” Honorees Announced

Posted by Admin On October - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Illinois Teacher of the Year to be named at annual banquet for top educators Oct. 22

NORMAL IL– The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced today the statewide recipients of the 2016-17 Those Who Excel awards. State education officials will honor the 250 outstanding Illinois educators later this month at the 41st annual Those Who Excel/Teacher of the Year banquet in Normal. Among the educators honored will be the 10 Teacher of the Year finalists, one of whom will be named the top Illinois educator for 2017.

“I am very happy to publicly recognize these extraordinary educators,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “They continuously build relationships with students that foster centers of healthy communities and encourage students to succeed.”

Local school district leaders and members of school communities nominate candidates for Those Who Excel recognition. A committee of peers, organized through ISBE, chooses the award winners, who will be honored at a banquet Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Normal. Statewide education organizations are represented on the committee, which includes former award winners.

Two-hundred-and-fifty honorees will receive recognition at the banquet on three levels — Recognition, Merit, and Excellence — and across multiple categories, including classroom teacher, school administrator, and student support personnel.

“These educators have distinguished themselves for their exceptional work in their respective fields,” said Cinda Klickna, Illinois Education Association president. “These award recipients represent true excellence and their students are indeed lucky to have them in their lives.”

The 2017 Teacher of the Year, to be announced at the banquet, will serve as Illinois’ ambassador for the teaching profession during the 2016-17 school year and will represent Illinois in the National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by VOYA Financial. Kim Thomas, a math teacher at Woodruff Career and Technical Center in Peoria Public School District 150, served as Illinois ambassador for teaching during the 2015-16 school year.

“As the 2016 Teacher of the Year, I have been blessed with the ‘amathazing’ honor of ‘mathivating’ wonderful educators and students by spreading my love for teaching and math across the great state of Illinois,” Thomas said.

For more information on ISBE’s Those Who Excel program, please visit isbe.net/those-who-excel/default.htm.

Clifford Law Files Lawsuit in Bicyclist’s Death in Chicago’s Roscoe Village

Posted by Admin On October - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Clifford Law Offices filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the trucking company and its driver who struck and killed a bicyclist near Damen and Addison last week.

Anastasia Kondrasheva, a 23-year-old recent Loyola graduate, was biking to work the morning of Sept. 26 when a truck driver struck her as he made a right-hand turn onto a street marked for bicycle sharing.  Ekaterina Kondrasheva, mother of Anastasia, filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court.

“Chicago has become a very bike-friendly town, and all drivers should know to expect bicyclists will be in the bike lanes because that’s what they are there for,” said Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner at the firm..  “A bicyclist is defenseless when a truck driver is so negligent as to not take precautions to avoid them.”

The lawsuit was filed against Westmont Interior Supply House and the driver, Andre J. Sanders, who was ticketed for his failure to exercise due care for the cyclist.  She was pronounced dead at the scene in the Roscoe Village neighborhood.

Her co-workers at a North Side health care center held a vigil for her following her tragic death.

Tracy A. Brammeier, attorney at Clifford Law Offices, also is an attorney on the matter.

Clifford is available to speak to the press this afternoon on the filing of the complaint.

For further information, please contact Clifford Law Offices’ Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-721-0909.


Black Attorney on Abused Power, Racism and Poverty

Posted by Admin On October - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
Black attorney, who is credited for removing the N-Word from various dictionaries, launches national tour to promote awareness about abused power, racism and poverty
Attorney Roy Millers tour gives a new perspective to the racist theories of sociologists and philosophers
Atty Roy Miller

Nationwide – Attorney Roy Miller plans to tour educational institutions and events to describe his conceptual assessment about power, racism and poverty. The tour evolved from his race relations lecture series at Fort Valley State University and Mercer University. The purpose of the upcoming tour is to add a Black perspective to the theories of sociologists and philosophers. Miller will explain his Faucet of Social Opportunity Theory that he disclosed to BlackNews.com on September 28, 2016.

I like to read different theories because it allows me to somewhat have a conversation with the author and add my viewpoint about the topic, such as certain sociological perspectives given by Mary Anderson, W.E.B. Du Bois and Aguste Comte, the father of Sociology and the founder of Positivism. Listening to people you respect can be helpful in learning and understanding, said Miller, a recognized authority on race relations. He believes behaviors such as racism and Black-on-Black violence are not the root of the problem, but are what grows out of that root.

Under the Faucet of Social Opportunity division occurs when only some people can drink while others could die of thirst. In other words, some people are given plentiful opportunities by those in power while there is a decrease in opportunities for others. The wealthy and powerful who control the Faucet of Social Opportunity may turn it on so everyone can drink, thereby bringing about good social behavior, or turn it down for some causing bad social behavior by those who are deprived. The latter situation disturbs unity of the group as a whole and creates division. Those in power, who regulate the flow of the faucet, may believe deprivation for some is necessary to create division so as to control the masses. The idea is to let people fight each other, not them.

According to Miller, “In looking at racism, we find that some working class people of one race may become angry and hateful toward working class people of another race for myriad reasons, often based on racial stereotypes. That anger and division is predictable to those who control the Faucet of Social Opportunity.”

Miller continues, “We do, indeed, have a serious problem with race relations here in America. Just as a cold left untreated could turn into flu and then pneumonia, a single race-related incident could turn into widespread racial animosity. Blacks and Whites find themselves seeing things somewhat differently even when looking at the same situations, such as the murders of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown or the protest by Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL.”

Im talking about differences that are sometimes the result of injustice by our judicial system and law enforcement towards Blacks and other minorities. The practice of racial disparity often can force some Black people and White people to take sides, said Miller. I established my place as a race relations expert, when in 1994 when I became the first and only person to have the n-word deleted from a major dictionary based on its psychological impact on Black Americans. I want my Race Relations lectures to make a difference because I speak from fact, not just theory.

“When we talk about police killings of Blacks by White police officers as being a great problem, or a private security guard in the case of Trayvon Martin…all too often, we get a response by whites quoting statistics on Black-on-Black Crime, reasoning that some Blacks tend to share,” Miller said. In exploring the myth of Black criminality, Paul Gilroy, a sociologist, noted that Blacks are no more criminal than whites, but they are labeled and treated negatively by police. Gilroy suggests that young black criminals are politically motivated to commit crime by their discovery of the history of slavery and colonialism and their experience of racism and police harassment.

Kaepernick started a controversy by refusing to stand for the playing of the National Anthem before games, which is seen as a dividing protest. But the act of racial division did not begin with the 49ers quarterback, it began when the Faucet of Social Opportunity was shut off for African Americans. Two of the most serious concerns that are dividing races today are the killings of Blacks by White police officers and displeasure with some of the words in our National anthem.

Kaepernick believes that honoring the National Anthem dishonors Black Americans who have suffered and continue to suffer historical and unjust treatment as U.S. Citizens. His stance against words of the National Anthem that denigrate Blacks has spawned a movement and awareness among other football players and the population at large. Some agree with Kaepernick and others do not.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the National Anthem:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battles confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washd out their foul footsteps pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
Oer the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Many times we follow the crowd, not our hearts. When we talk about police killings of Blacks by White police officers as being a great problem… all too often, we get a response by Whites quoting statistics on Black-on-Black Crime. Even some Blacks tend to share that reasoning, Miller said.

He continues, As a remedy, I am calling for two things: First, I am asking that all pro team owners to switch to America The Beautiful before sports games instead of the National Anthem. I also am calling on Congress to enact legislation making that change permanent and retiring the current National Anthem, which negatively portrays runaway slaves. ‘America the Beautiful’ is friendly and represents all Americans. These recommendations would be a starting point toward curing the sickness of racism.”

Miller adds, “In addition, I am calling on all law enforcement agencies to establish departments to be first responders at the scene of police killings to immediately determine probable cause for the arrest of a suspect. This would equal due process and prevent what has happened to the millions of men and women who were arrested even before their cases went to a Grand Jury. The Grand Jury, usually agrees with whatever the arresting office decides regarding probable cause. But ordinary people called for Grand Jury Duty should not be the first to decide probable cause. Grand Jurors usually agree or disagree with the probable cause decision already established by an arresting officer. Despite what we see today, there is always a road to peace. I sincerely love all people and I see that road.”
Watch Attorney Roy Miller in action on YouTube:
Also, learn more about his law firm at www.attorneyroymiller.com

Photo: Attorney Roy Miller

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