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Archive for October 14th, 2016

Justice Department Outlines Plan to Enable Nationwide Collection of Use of Force Data

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2016 Comments Off on Justice Department Outlines Plan to Enable Nationwide Collection of Use of Force Data

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced several steps by the Department of Justice to enable the nationwide collection of data on law enforcement interactions with civilians, including data related to the use of force by law enforcement officers.

“Accurate and comprehensive data on the use of force by law enforcement is essential to an informed and productive discussion about community-police relations,” said Attorney General Lynch.  “The initiatives we are announcing today are vital efforts toward increasing transparency and building trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve.  In the days ahead, the Department of Justice will continue to work alongside our local, state, tribal and federal partners to ensure that we put in place a system to collect data that is comprehensive, useful and responsive to the needs of the communities we serve.”

The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing called on law enforcement to “collect, maintain and report data . . .  on all officer involved shootings, whether fatal or nonfatal, as well as any in-custody death,” and the department is committed to heeding this call.  In 2014, Congress passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA), which required states and federal law enforcement agencies to submit data to the department about civilians who died during interactions with law enforcement or in their custody (whether resulting from use or force or some other manner of death, such as suicide or natural causes) and authorized the Attorney General to impose a financial penalty on non-compliant states.  However, Congress did not impose a similar reporting requirement for ­non-lethal­ uses of force by law enforcement.  In the absence of a statutory mandate, and in an effort to close this gap, the department is partnering with local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement to provide a means for national data collection.  In 2015, and in collaboration with local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began work on a “National Use of Force Data Collection,” an online portal to collect use-of-force data from law enforcement agencies across the country.

The Attorney General announced additional details regarding these efforts:

  • National Use-of-Force Data Collection.  At the request of local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies, the FBI has been working with such agencies to develop a National Use of Force Data Collection program.  The FBI announced the proposed pilot program last week in the Federal Register.  The pilot study will evaluate the effectiveness of the methodology used to collect the data and the quality of the information collected.  The FBI is seeking comment from all interested parties, including local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement, civil rights organizations and other community stakeholders.  After reviewing and addressing these comments, the FBI will issue a final proposal and plans to begin the pilot data collection program in early 2017.  The pilot study participants are expected to include the largest law enforcement agencies, as well as the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Marshals Service.
  • DCRA Compliance.  Earlier this summer, the department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) issued a draft proposal outlining its plan for collecting death-in-custody data from state and local law enforcement agencies.  Last week, the first public comment period closed, with several thousand comments received.  The department is currently reviewing those comments and it plans to issue an updated proposal in the near future.
  • Federal Reporting under DCRA.  The DCRA requires federal law enforcement agencies to report information on deaths that occur during interactions with federal law enforcement agencies or in their custody, beginning with Fiscal Year 2016 (FY2016) data.  FY2016 ended September 30.  The Attorney General has issued a memorandum to federal law enforcement agencies formally notifying them of their reporting obligations under the DCRA and directing them to BJS for further coordination.
  • Police Data Initiative (PDI).  The department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office announced today that it has assumed leadership of the Police Data Initiative (PDI), a data transparency project initiated by the White House in 2015.  Through PDI, participating law enforcement agencies commit to publicly releasing at least three policing datasets, which can include data on stops and searches, uses of force, officer-involved shootings, and other police actions.  Numerous foundations, organizations and companies have stepped up to help.  The PDI currently includes 129 law enforcement agencies, covering more than 44 million people across the country.  To assist with this effort, the COPS Office recently awarded the Police Foundation a $750,000 cooperative agreement through FY2016 funding to support PDI.  Over the next two years, the Police Foundation will work with a cohort of approximately 100 law enforcement agencies to develop promising practices for police open data usage, support community engagement regarding policing data and provide technical assistance to law enforcement agencies to collect and publish open data sets.

These initiatives demonstrate once again the department’s deep commitment to the ideals of the President’s Task Force.  The department will continue to work with local, state, tribal and federal agencies to encourage and support data collection and transparency beyond these projects.

Hillary Clinton Should Not Endure Another Debate With Donald Trump

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2016 Comments Off on Hillary Clinton Should Not Endure Another Debate With Donald Trump
Op-Ed By Dr. Barbara Reynolds

Dr. Barbara Reynolds

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Hillary Clinton should not endure another debate with Donald Trump. He has already shown himself as bigoted against immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, Blacks, and prisoners of War, such a U.S. Senator John McCain. He is also a man who calls women “pigs” and gloats over his deftness at grabbing their private parts. This may be a titillating resume for a reality TV star, but certainly not for the president of the most powerful nation on the planet.

This entire year instead of being inspired as I watched the election debates, I have felt that the American public, politicians and the press have been dragged down into the depths of a dark, dank sewer with the manhole slammed shut. The stench has overshadowed real issues, such as the poisoned population of Flint, Michigan, the Black men murdered by police for walking or running while breathing, the carnage of murdered little children piling up in our bloody inner cities and the homeless families increasing because of builders like Trump pricing the poor and middle class out of the housing market.

As a shining example of what one group the Donald caters to is the new Trump hotel in the nation’s capital where one night’s lodging starts at $800 and soars into the thousands. If you are not a millionaire or someone who delights in demeaning, despicable conduct, why else would you follow Trump?

Historically our democratic system based on a living and expansive Constitution has allowed us through much toil and pain to rise above the base, selfish, ugly acts of dangerous extremisms. As shown in the recently released video tape, what Trump stands for we don’t need; in fact, his values demean us here at home and in the world.


Groping women is not normal. It is unnatural. It is brutish. It is sexual assault. To pass this off as just “locker room” talk sends a message that the foulest vulgarity is fine as long as it is shared behind closed doors. Instead of encouraging the public to cleanse ourselves of hateful, demeaning behavior his solution is to offend and assault those you deem vulnerable and of little value.

The kind of language Trump uses provides comfort to tyrannical male supervisor, abusive husbands, those who delight in bullying girls and young boys who would see men like Trump as role models. Trump’s words, however, are also demeaning to “normal” men-fathers, husbands, friends who value women as undeserving of scorn and do not find vulgar locker room talk as acceptable.

In the last debate Trump continued his race to the bottom by dragging into the debate hall, a cast of alleged participants in the sex life of ex-President Bill Clinton. Whether Clinton’s accusers are right or wrong, Bill is not running for president. Hillary is and she should not be blamed because she happens to be in the midst of men who have or are acting badly.


In fact, maybe all this misplaced testosterone may be one more reason why we should elect a woman president. Yet, when I look at this pathetic muddy mess, I am inspired that when I look at President Obama, I see a man who honors his wife, dotes on fatherhood and whose life-both private and public-has not been touched by sexual scandals.

With me, I have been fired up and angry with Trump from the onset over his dogged determination of trying to prove that President Obama was unfit to be President by accusing him of not being born in America, even after Obama showed his birth certificates. This habitual actions of the privileged class trying to force Blacks to prove the obvious that water is wet and the sky is blue profiles us as outsiders, unworthy of belonging in whatever space we occupy, whether it is as a journalist, wife, or even president of the United States.

Yet, while president Obama has served his term with excellence as commander in chief, restoring the sick economy left by his GOP predecessors, the Trumpeters are still trying to tarnish his legacy…Days after the debate, Hillary is leading in some polls by double digits. I see no reason why she should allow Trump to rub more sleaze on her by participating with him in any more public forums.


We know enough about Donald Trump. Let Trump be Trump and stand alone and continue to embarrass himself while the rest of us prepare to elect someone to the White House who can bring us together and continue an honored career as a public servant. And that of course is Hillary Clinton.


From this point on, Hillary should stand on a stage by herself and let her experience, temperament, character and knowledge of the issues shine through. Let Trump star in his own X-rated series alone… The rest of us have had enough of him and we have better things to do like preparing to go to the polls Nov. 8 and taking someone with us.


The Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds, an award-winning journalist, author, and activist, is a freelance columnist and was a founding editor of USA Today.


Black Novel Depicts a Generational Struggle for Equal Rights

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2016 Comments Off on Black Novel Depicts a Generational Struggle for Equal Rights
Joan Early’s Novel, “The Other Two-Fifths,” Depicting a Generational Struggle for Equal Rights, is Now Available!

The Other Two Fifths by Joan Early

Nationwide — In The Other Two-Fifths by Joan Early, the shadow of Abe Lincoln disappears in the catastrophic race riot shattering the Springfield, Illinois community in 1908. Despite the model of a harmonious community, a labor strike in the mines pitted blacks against whites. A lone man seeking revenge seizes the moment, raging a war against the Carter family. The cauldron of racial hatred leads to the destruction of two black communities, claiming seven lives. Hollis Carter escapes. He begins a journey of social justice; one that continues on in his children and grandchildren.

Author Joan Early developed a love of books while growing up in rural Mississippi. Reading was her prime entertainment throughout childhood. Later, she chronicled her familys history in stories told by ethnically diverse ancestors and expressed her feelings through song lyrics and poetry.

Earlys professional writing career began in 2003 when her short story entry won first place in Ebony Magazines literary contest. She continued writing historical fiction and family sagas, but changed to contemporary romance. Her published works include: Saras Reward (New Concepts Publishing, 2007), Look Both Ways and Fireflies (Genesis Press, 2009), Oak Bluffs and Friends in Need (Genesis Press, 2010) and Separate Dreams (Genesis Press, 2011).

Joans first novel, Legacy (First Books, 2002) remains a favorite with book clubs, and was followed by: Night Sweats (New Concepts Publishing, 2012), A Tangled Web and Heartstrings (New Concepts Publishing, 2015). She returns to her first love of historic fiction and family saga in The Other Two-Fifths. Joan and her husband live outside of Beaumont, Texas, where she continues writing, attends writers’ conferences, and enjoys entering literary contests.

For more details, visit www.joanearlybooks.com or www.joanearly.net

Photo: Book cover and author, Joan Early.

Ohio’s Largest-Ever Wrongful Conviction Verdict Upheld

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2016 Comments Off on Ohio’s Largest-Ever Wrongful Conviction Verdict Upheld

Cleveland slammed by judge for evading responsibility for 2013 award, upping the ante to $14.6M

David Ayers spent 11-1/2 years in prison for a murder he did not commit; Police reports suggest arrest was motivated by anti-gay animus

CLEVELAND, OH – A judge ruled this morning that the City of Cleveland cannot evade financial responsibility for paying out a record sum, $13.21 million, from a federal civil rights case against two of its officers and the City. Judge Robert C. McClelland ruled that the City must pay the original award, “plus statutory interest,” bringing the total sum to $14,632,336.99.

At the time of the original verdict award in 2013, it was among the top ten ever in the country for a wrongful conviction case.  Mr. Ayers is represented by Russell Ainsworth and Ruth Brown of the Chicago-based civil rights firm Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, which over the past decade has won more multi-million dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the entire country.


Ayers, 59, is an African American gay man and native of Cleveland who at the time of his 1999 arrest had been employed for over eight years as a security officer with the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority.  He had no prior arrests and had no physical evidence linking him to the crime, but was charged and eventually sentenced to life in prison for the 1999 murder of an elderly CMHA resident, Dorothy Brown.

Ms. Brown’s body was found in a pool of blood, naked from the waist down, with pubic hairs in her mouth.  One of the pubic hairs was later DNA tested and found to not match Ayers, leading to his exoneration and release in 2011.

An example of the apparent anti-gay bias of Ayers’ prosecution includes a February 9, 2000 police report written by defendant Cleveland Police Department Officer Denise Kovach, which repeatedly refers to friends of Ayers, and Ayers himself, as gay:  “This male appeared very ‘gay’ like, but when we asked him if he was gay, he laughed and stated no…. But this male acted very ‘gay like’, also had candles lit up around his house and religious statues and holy water in cups… KEN SMITH is also a hairdresser and dressed and sat like a gay male.  Note: DAVID AYRES [sic] gives quite an impression of also being gay.”

As the lawsuit noted, the investigating officers “had no reason to suspect Mr. Ayers of having murdered Ms. Brown.  Mr. Ayers was innocent and had nothing to do with the crime.  Moreover, as a gay man, Mr. Ayers did not fit the profile of the killer in the case, given the obvious sexual nature in which the victim had been attacked.  Nevertheless, [the officers] … became resolved to prove that Mr. Ayers committed the crime.”

During the week-long trial, Kovach attempted to explain away the pubic hairs found in Ms. Brown’s mouth as being because “pubic hairs are everywhere,” and so the presence of a male pubic hair in the victim’s mouth had no evidentiary significance.

Ayers’ initial involvement in the case stemmed from his being the last person to see Ms. Brown alive before the attack on her several hours later.  He told investigators that late the preceding evening, the elderly Ms. Brown had called him to her apartment because she had fallen down and couldn’t get up.  He said he had gotten the key to her unit from a lock box which was under video surveillance.  But Kovach and fellow defendant officer Michael Cipo falsely claimed that the video footage never showed Ayers going to the lock box for the key, and falsely accused Ayers of lying about that so as to further implicate him.

Knowing that their “evidence” was too weak to convict Ayers, Kovach and Cipo enlisted a jail-house snitch, Donald Hutchinson, who had been housed with Ayers at Cuyahoga County Jail, to falsely claim that Ayers confessed to him.  Kovach and Cipo also falsely claimed that Ayers implicated himself to them shortly after his arrest.

Denise Kovach worked as a homicide detective for 13 years and retired with full benefits from the Cleveland Police Department in 2005.  Michael Cipo, who joined the CPD in 1973, retired with full benefits in 2003.  During his 11-1/2 year imprisonment on a life sentence, David Ayers lost both his father and his mother and was unable to attend their funerals.


Copies of the aforementioned police reports are available here and here, and the federal suit, David Ayers v. City of Cleveland, et al., No. 1:12-cv-753, can be found here. A copy of today’s order from Judge McClelland can be found here.

A recent, high-resolution, royalty-free photo of Mr. Ayers for use in your publication is available upon request – simply send an email to andy@loevy.com with the subject line, “Send Mr. Ayers picture.”

Peacefully Marching Prisoners Tear-gased, Zip-Tied, and Left Out in Rain in Retaliation

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2016 Comments Off on Peacefully Marching Prisoners Tear-gased, Zip-Tied, and Left Out in Rain in Retaliation

From: Michigan Prisoner Abolition


KINCHELOE, MI – More than two weeks after prisoners at Kinross Correctional Facility participated in a nationwide prison workers’ strike, the prisoners’ own accounts of what happened are beginning to emerge. Prisoners report that the facility was on lockdown from September 10 to the morning of September 22, preventing communication with their outside supporters.

Most prisoners, including kitchen staff, did not report for work on September 9 in conjunction with the nationwide work stoppage. The following morning, between 400 and 500 prisoners marched peacefully in the yard. The deputy wardens came to the prisoners, who communicated their grievances, including low wages, the commutation process, restrictive visitation room seating in violation of MDOC policy, high phone rates, poor quality and quantity of food provided by private
contractor Trinity Services Group, the way the yard is run, living conditions that squeeze eight men into a room intended for four, no re-entry programs, no bleach for clothes, MP3 players that break easily and cannot be fixed or replaced, not enough room in the law library, not enough room in the visiting room and so some visitors are turned away, and not being allowed to transfer to other facilities.

Prisoners also demanded no retaliation for their peaceful protest, and according to prisoners, the deputy wardens agreed to address the grievances or communicate them to the legislature if necessary. The prisoners thought they had come to a common agreement and began to disperse. To their surprise, as soon as the deputy warden left, a tactical team stormed into the yard with guns, rifles, tear gas, and shields. The armed officers then started grabbing the men alleged to be instigators, handcuffed their arms behind their backs with zip ties, and threw the men to the ground in the yard. They were left for five to six hours in the rain, and were not permitted to use restrooms during that time, forcing some to soil themselves.

The violent assault of the armed officers triggered panic among the prisoners, who feared for their lives. Some reported being shot at directly with tear gas canisters. Others attempted to barricade their unit doors. Reportedly, fires were set in several units, at least one window was broken, and sinks and surveillance cameras were damaged after the officers began their assault. Media reports have focused on who was to blame for the damage to physical property, not the violence done to prisoners in violation of their human rights. Evelyn Williams, a family member of a prisoner, said, “It’s a very racist facility, where they intimidate and harass prisoners on a daily basis. The men just wanted the broken policies to be fixed. They’re treated like animals, with no respect and no justice. They can’t even afford to buy soap on their wages.”

About 150 prisoners accused of being instigators were transferred to other facilities, where an unknown number were charged with inciting a riot and punished with isolation. Prisoners report that some punished had nothing to do with the protest. In violation of MDOC policy, guards destroyed the property of the accused prisoners and encouraged other prisoners to steal their personal food.

Microsoft Recruiting DC Area Black Tech Professionals

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2016 Comments Off on Microsoft Recruiting DC Area Black Tech Professionals
The hiring demand for black tech professionals continues – next up, the Washington, DC Area!

Special VIP Hiring Event for Black Sales Executives and IT Professionals in D.C., Maryland and Northern Virgnia 

Will Moss, founder of HBCU Connect, networking with attendees to his company's event
Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — HBCU Connect has hosted several events (in Dallas, Charlotte, and the San Francisco Bay Area) this year to help big tech companies recruit African American talent, and all of the events have been very successful. In fact, many attendees have even been hired on the spot to work for companies like Symantec and Microsoft.

On October 25th, in partnership with Microsofts Sales Business division, HBCU Connect is offering Black technical professionals in the D.C. Maryland, and Virginia area, the opportunity to meet with representatives from Microsoft, to learn more about career opportunities, network with their peers, as well as open up one-on-one discussions with Microsoft team members that could lead to a new career for attendees for high paying tech careers!

Microsoft is looking for African Americans with experience in the following areas to register for the event:

* Public Sector & Enterprise Sales Professionals
* Software Sales & Solutions Engineers
* Windows Operating Systems Experts
* Cloud Solutions Experts
* IT Consultants
* Cyber Security and Mobile Technology Professionals

Event Details:

* WHEN: Tuesday, October 25th, from 5pm to 8pm
* WHERE: Reston, Virginia Venue Information to Follow with Confirmed Invitation
* REGISTER ONLINE: www.hbcuconnect.com/microsoft/dc.cgi?src=bn

The CEO and founder of HBCU Connect, Will Moss, will also be attending the event with Microsofts recruitment team and hiring managers. We expect to see some really high caliber professionals in attendance that will be looking to land interviews with Microsoft leadership, as well as learn more about what life at Microsoft is like for an African American employee, said Moss. What is really exciting about this particular event is that we are reaching out to professionals with a background in sales and technology, which is a first for us and our partnership with Microsoft!

Those interested in attending should register immediately as there is limited space on the guest list which is already 75% full. Once attendance is confirmed, the exact location of the event will be shared as well as details on parking and an agenda for the evening.

For more information, details, and how to register, please visit:

Pictures of past events:
About HBCU Connect
Founded in 1999, HBCU Connect (www.hbcuconnect.com) is the first and largest media outlet targeted towards the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) community. Boasting over 1.5 million registered members and encompassing a complete web portal, magazine, recruiting engine, social networking site, forums, blogs, news feeds and shopping, HBCUConnect.com serves the needs of HBCU aspirants, students, alumni, faculty and staff by providing a single destination and launching point for the entire diaspora.

Photo Caption: Will Moss (center), founder of HBCU Connect, networking with attendees to his company’s event



Preckwinkle Unveils FY 2017 Executive Budget Recommendation

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2016 Comments Off on Preckwinkle Unveils FY 2017 Executive Budget Recommendation

 Proposal would close budget shortfall and avoid cuts to public safety services through staffing reductions & additional revenue, but commit to no new tax hikes for at least the next two years


Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle presented a proposed $4.4 billion Executive Operating Budget Recommendation for Fiscal Year 2017 that confronts the County’s financial challenges while avoiding major cuts to public safety and public health services and programs.  Preckwinkle also separately proposed a $475.7 million capital budget to fund critical investments in county infrastructure and equipment.


“We’ve had to make a number of difficult decisions to create a balanced budget that provides essential public safety and public health services to County residents while being fiscally responsible,” Preckwinkle said. “Over the last six years, we have made important strides toward stabilizing the County’s financial outlook by making these kinds of hard choices, including reducing our staff by nearly 10%.  We will continue confronting our problems aggressively and make the tough but necessary decisions so we are not passing today’s problems to future generations.


This year, Preckwinkle said, there were two possible solutions, both difficult. “One, I could put forth a proposal that would devastate our criminal justice system over the next three years and undermine the progress we are making in public health,” she said. “It would mean more than 1,000 layoffs over the next three years, including prosecutors, public defenders, sheriff’s deputies and critical support staff. Instead of focusing on becoming more fair and effective, we would be focusing just on getting by.


“This budget, instead, calls not only for dedication to criminal justice reform, but a significant investment in public safety.”


The President’s budget closes a $174.3 million shortfall that was projected in June, driven by factors including gridlock over a state budget, growing legacy debt service costs, many flat or declining revenue streams and increased technology spending needed to upgrade antiquated and outdated systems.


Although the County has a diverse revenue base, expenditures continue to rise over time due to inflationary pressures, while natural growth in revenue struggles to keep pace or, in some cases, is declining. Minus funds dedicated to increased pension appropriations, operating funds for the General and Health Fund revenue would decline by $62 million absent any new revenue initiatives.

This makes structurally balancing the budget difficult, Preckwinkle said. Additionally, the County’s property tax levy historically has not kept pace with inflation, and, in fact, has lost some $300 million in comparable value since the 1990s.


The budget addresses long-term fiscal stability by reducing structural expenditures while preserving critical public health and public safety services. The County will be reducing the overall workforce as measured by full-time equivalents (FTE’s) by nearly 1% in FY 17.  Preckwinkle called this action a difficult one that includes about 300 layoffs. Added to previous reductions, the County’s overall workforce will be about 10% smaller since President Preckwinkle took office in 2010.


As part of its expense reductions, Cook County is further decreasing the operating tax allocation to the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS) by $10 million to $111 million. This represents a more than 70%, or $280 million, reduction from the allocation the year before Preckwinkle took office, and follows continued progress by CCHHS in reinventing itself as a healthcare system of choice, which now serves more insured than uninsured patients.


And, she said, efforts continue at making Cook County a more effective and efficient government and improving services through management initiatives, such as:

  • The Justice Advisory Council received its first competitive federal grant award. The two-year $1 million grant will to establish coordinated violence reduction strategies in Robbins, Harvey and Ford Heights.  Only five other jurisdictions in the United States received one of these awards.
  • Animal and Rabies Control established a digital reporting system to allow veterinarians to report on communicable and zoonotic disease emergence or increase in occurrence, which should translate into more timely notice to the public.
  • Building and Zoning put in place a new online system replacing the paper process to obtain a building permit. No longer does a constituent have to physically come to the department’s downtown office; rather, the applicant can apply, track, pay for and obtain their building permit all online.
  • Reducing jury fees by significantly cutting the number of residents called for jury duty, the vast majority of whom are not called to serve on a jury but still must be paid for their time, which is both an inconvenience and bad fiscal policy.
  • Department of Revenue collection efforts that include a voluntary disclosure program, targeted tax discovery, field audits, bulk sales reviews and the use of a third-party collector. These efforts have brought in an additional $20.725 million in revenue in 2016.

Yet even with expense reductions, closing the budget shortfall will require additional revenue, Preckwinkle said. She is proposing a one penny per fluid ounce tax on sweetened beverages sold in Cook County. Importantly, the President has committed to not raising any other taxes for at least the next two fiscal years and will be including language outlining this pledge in a resolution. Yet even when this new revenue initiative is included, she noted, revenues are essentially flat in the General and Health Funds in 2017 versus 2016 levels.

“This should assure our residents that we mean what we say, and that we are adding a revenue component to this budget only as a last resort while supporting critical programs and pursuing a sound, long-term financial strategy, something the County has not always entertained,” Preckwinkle said.


A beverage is classified as sweetened if it contains either sugar or artificial sweetener.  The tax includes carbonated soft drinks, fruit beverages (excluding 100% fruit juice), sports drinks and energy drinks.  Non-sweetened beverages such as water, various kinds of milk and baby formula are exempt from the tax.  The tax is expected to provide $74 million in revenue in FY 17 based on an effective date of July 1, 2017.


Revenues obtained from the sweetened beverage tax will allow the County to double its investment in community-based anti-violence efforts and avoid additional layoffs in the public safety arena. In FY 2017, the County will dedicate $6 million to programs that center on anti-violence, anti-recidivism and restorative justice initiatives.


“We will designate a significant portion of our funding to support collective impact initiatives that work to address violence in our most at-risk communities, and allow us to strengthen the efforts of more community-based organizations working on the ground to support our larger effort to create safe and stable communities throughout Cook County,” Preckwinkle said.


Public safety reform, including anti-violence initiatives, has been a key part of President Preckwinkle’s policy agenda.  Recently, President Preckwinkle, the Cook County Justice Advisory Council and CCHHS have partnered to establish a Community Triage Center (CTC) in the Roseland neighborhood to deliver early intervention services for individuals who are at risk of detention or hospitalization due to behavioral health conditions.


The sweetened beverage tax should have the added benefit of improving resident health and ultimately reduce costs to CCHHS, as studies have shown that sugary and sweetened beverages are connected to numerous diseases and illnesses such as diet-related diabetes, cardiovascular disease, tooth decay and obesity.  It will also help fund a new community-based outreach effort on diabetes education and nutrition.


Noting the need for shared sacrifice and a balanced approach to closing the preliminary budget gap, the FY2017 budget includes nearly equal amounts of revenue increases and expense reductions. The County is proposing $78.5 million in expenditure reductions and cuts while the sweetened beverage tax is expected to generate $74.6 million in the coming year.


Preckwinkle said that in addition to layoffs, position closures and new revenue to support critical programs and services, the County will continue making important investments to modernize and reshape Cook County government, working on the demolition of old or underutilized tiers on the Cook County Jail campus while continuing to reduce the pre-trial detainee population. Since she took office, Preckwinkle has worked with public safety stakeholders to reduce the County Jail’s general detainee population by about 25%.


“By demolishing underused and antiquated divisions at the jail, we will reduce our campus foot print by 550,000 square feet, avoid more than $172 million in required capital improvement costs and save $3 million in annual operation costs. We are also continuing our work to shrink our real estate footprint by more than 1 million square feet by closing one of our three warehouses in the coming year,” Preckwinkle said.


“This has been an exceptionally difficult budget, but the end result will be a more responsive and responsible County government in the years to come.  I’ve been saying for more than a year that this would be a challenging budget. These decisions, though difficult, will help the County maintain crucial investments in our public safety system and support our efforts around public health during a time of need, structurally balance our budget and allow us to avoid further tax increases for the next two years.”


All budget information has been posted to the Cook County budget website, allowing the public to review documents and engage with the President’s Office directly. There will also be public hearings scheduled on the 2017 budget over the coming weeks.


To view the budget website, please go to cookcountyil.gov/budget/.


Public Hearings Scheduled to Guide ISBE’s Budget Planning for Fiscal Year 2018

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2016 Comments Off on Public Hearings Scheduled to Guide ISBE’s Budget Planning for Fiscal Year 2018

State education leaders urge parents, educators, students to provide feedback on budget at hearings in Springfield, Chicago, and Granite City


SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will host public budget hearings in Springfield, Chicago, and Granite City to collect feedback and hear ideas from education stakeholders and advocates. Information on past budgets can be found at http://www.isbe.net/budget.

The budget hearings will be hosted by Curt Bradshaw, Board member and chair of the ISBE Finance and Audit Committee. The information collected at the hearings will inform the fiscal year 2018 budget recommendations ISBE will make to the General Assembly in January.

“Community and stakeholder feedback is more important than ever, as state lawmakers redesign how the state funds school districts, and ISBE creates the Illinois State Plan to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “We have a collective opportunity to define and ensure all students receive an adequately and equitably funded education. I urge parents, students, educators, administrators, and community advocates to attend the budget hearings and share their ideas, priorities, and concerns.”

The public budget hearings for fiscal year 2018 will take place in:

·         Springfield – Thursday, Oct. 20, immediately following the Board meeting (approximately noon) in the Board Room at ISBE (100 N. First St.)

·         Chicago – Friday, Nov. 18, immediately following the Board meeting (approximately 1 p.m.) in Conference Room 16-503 at the Thompson Center (100 W. Randolph St.)

·         Granite City – Monday, Nov. 21, 4 – 6 p.m. in the Atrium at Granite City High School (3101 Madison Ave.)

ISBE encourages all stakeholders and community members – including those attending a hearing in person – to submit their comments on the budget by completing a budget request form (available at http://www.isbe.net/budget/) and emailing the form to isbeFY18@isbe.net.

IDoA Announces Start of Medicare Open Enrollment Period

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2016 Comments Off on IDoA Announces Start of Medicare Open Enrollment Period

Senior Health Insurance Program offers free one-on-one assistance

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Saturday, October 15th marks the beginning of the annual Medicare open enrollment period.  The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) is reminding eligible older adults to use this time to review their plan options. The Department offers free counseling assistance to help educate Medicare-eligible individuals and their caregivers about their Medicare insurance options through the Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP). Medicare Open Enrollment begins October 15 and runs through December 7.

Navigating different plan options can sometimes be overwhelming; SHIP counselors are on hand to help seniors understand their Medicare benefits, sort through their options to find the best one for them and complete the enrollment process. Assistance is available year-round to Medicare-eligible beneficiaries, their families and their caregivers.

“There are over 300 SHIP offices throughout Illinois that are ready to schedule an appointment to assist with open enrollment,” said SHIP Director Sandy Leith. “I encourage folks to take advantage of this service as our caring counselors will work with you to make sense of a complicated system and guide people to the best choice for healthcare for 2017. We anticipate this year to be very busy enrollment season.”

During open enrollment, eligible adults can adjust Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug coverage; change from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan (or vice versa); switch between Medicare Advantage plans; join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan; or switch existing drug plans or drop Medicare prescription drug coverage.

SHIP counselors work through the Medicare.gov plan finder to help seniors and people with disabilities make the best choices for their individual situation. To contact SHIP, call 1-800-252-8966 on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. For more information about SHIP, including a list of SHIP locations, visit our website at http://www.illinois.gov/aging/ship/Pages/default.aspx.

To compare 2017 drug and health plans on your own and to find out more about Medicare, including preventive services now covered, visit the federal website at www.medicare.gov or review your 2017 Medicare & You handbook. You can also call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227); Medicare phone lines are open 24/7.

SHIP is not affiliated with any insurance company, and counselors do not sell or solicit any type of insurance. SHIP counselors in the field make sure seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare are aware of options that can save them money. Counselors educate and answer questions about Medicare, Part A, B, and D, Medicare Supplement insurance, and Medicare Advantage plans.

NAACP Theatre Awards Modifies Nominee Announcement

Posted by Admin On October - 14 - 2016 Comments Off on NAACP Theatre Awards Modifies Nominee Announcement

NAACP Theatre Awards

Beverly Hills, CA (BlackNews.com) – The NAACP Beverly Hills/Hollywood Branch Theatre Viewing Committee updates their announcements of nominees for the 26th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards. The awards include 32 categories, which encompass local and equity nominations. This years awards show will be held on Monday, November 21, 2016, at 6:00 p.m. at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, California.

This years Equity Theatre nominations include an array of magnificent productions including Motown tbe Musical with an impressive 11 nominations Best Costume, Best Choreography, Best Lead Female and Male, (2) Best Supporting Male, Best Director, Best Musical Director, Best Sound, Best Lighting by two-time Tony Awards winner Natasha Katz, and the iconic Berry Gordy for Best Playwright. Tied with six nominations each, The Gospel of Colonus, a surprisingly 30- year old experimental theatre piece, receives nods for Best Ensemble, Best Set Design, Best Costumes plus previous NAACP Theatre Award nominee Wren T. Brown for Best Producer and Best Musical Director for Abdul H. Royal, an Ovation Award nominee. August Wilsons classic production FENCES stands strong with Best Director, Best Costumes, Best Ensemble, Best Producer, and Best Sound. Both productions share nominee Karyn D. Lawrence for Best Lighting and will battle for Best Ensemble alongside the production of Immediate Family. Tony Award winner John Douglas Thompson leads Satchmo at the Waldorf with five nominations including Best Lead Male, Best Director, Best Playwright, Best Producers and Best Set Design.

Dreamscape, a riveting race-related, hip-hop production depicting the death of a 19 year-old young lady killed by a local police department and examined by a dispassionate County Coroner leads in Local nominations with six Best Choreographer, Best Director, Best Female Lead, Best Male Lead, Best Playwright and Best Producer. Keena Fergusons exceptional one person show, Unbranded, follows with five nominations Best Director, Best Lighting, Best Playwright, Best Sound, and Best One Person Show. Also with five nominations is Patricia Cuffie Jones Love So Deep for Best Lead Male and Best Lead Female plus a first-time ever in the history of the NAACP Theatre in which there is a 3-way tie for Best Supporting Female in the same production. Rounding out the local category with four nominations is the lively production of Recorded in Hollywood, performed at the Lillian Theatre Best Musical Director, Best Ensemble and Best Director for Denise Dowse, a previous NAACP Theatre Award winner.

Branch President of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Ron Hasson states, I am excited about combining the awards show and the festival because this platform will bring thespians and theatre lovers from across the country to the City of Los Angeles to enjoy the art that is theatre. The NAACP Theatre Awards Show represents an ever growing theatre community in Los Angeles and we want to elevate this already highly recognized event in Los Angeles and heighten its visibility nationwide.

The Theatre Viewing Committee considers all candidates who submit their production from January 2015 through December 2015 for possible nomination. All productions must have a five consecutive week production run in Southern California (San Diego to Bakersfield included) to be considered. Productions who meet all eligibility requirements before the deadline are considered eligible for a 2016 NAACP Theatre Award. Eligibility for this years edition was limited to theatre productions opening in January 2015 through December 2015. Nominees have been notified by the NAACP Theatre viewing committee Chairperson Martha Pruden-Hamiter. Nominations and winners will be posted online at www.naacptheatreawards.com and circulated nationally via press releases and social media.

For more information on the NAACP Theatre Awards, please visit www.naacptheatreawards.com or email: naacpbhhwd@sbcglobal.net.

[See Full List of Nominations Below]
About The NAACP Theatre Awards
The NAACP Theatre Awards is presented by the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Branch in partnership with the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles City Council President/Councilmember District 10 Herb Wesson, Jr. and co-chaired by Byron K. Reed, Senior Vice President of Wells Fargo-West Region Community Relations and Jeffrey Rush of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. The mission of the Theatre Awards is to entertain, educate, inspire the community and create diversity in the arts and entertainment industry. Ron Hasson is Branch President and Tia Boyd is the Executive Producer for the NAACP Theatre Awards Show. The prestigious star-studded gala is produced for the purpose of honoring thespians among the best in the field of entertainment. The branch also celebrates a four-day theatre festival, which provides a platform for thespians to express their craft and share their contributions with an audience of their peers, the community and other individuals who celebrate live theatre in Los Angeles.
26th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards Nominations
November 21, 2016
Best Choreography Equity
Motown the Musical Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams
Citizen: An American Lyric Anastasia Coon
Global Taxi Driver Shyamala Moorty

Best Choreography Local
Dreamscape Carrie Mikuls
Ucarmen Lungelo Ngamlana
When Stars Align Arthur Ross

Best Costumes Equity
Motown the Musical Esosa
Fences Kim DeShazo
The Gospel at Colonus Naila Aladdin-Sanders

Best Costumes Local
Detroit 67 Michaela Mendiola
Lonely Girl: The Dorothy Dandridge Story Leroy Richardson III
Lombardi Angela M. Eads

Best Director Equity
Fences Gregg T. Daniel
Motown the Musical Charles Randolph-Wright
Satchmo at the Waldorf Gordon Edelstein

Best Director Local
Dreamscape Rickerby Hinds
Lombardi Gregg T. Daniel
Keena Unbranded Tanya Alexander

Best Director of a Musical Local
Recorded In Hollywood Denise Dowse
Ucarmen Mark Dornford-May
The Discord Altar Amanda McRaven

Best Ensemble Cast Equity
The Gospel at Colonus
Immediate Family

Best Ensemble Cast Local
Recorded In Hollywood
Detroit 67

Best Lead Female – Equity
The Best of Enemies Tiffany Rebecca Royale
Motown the Musical Allison Semmes
As You Like It Earnestine Phillips

Best Lead Female Local
Dreamscape Rhaechyl Walker and Natali Micchiche
Love Soul Deep Kelly Jenrette
Sunset Baby Nadege August

Best Lead Male Equity
Satchmo at the Waldorf John Douglas Thompson
Motown the Musical Julius Thomas III
The Whipping Man Charlie Robinson

Best Lead Male Local
Dreamscape John Faahz Merchant
I and You Matthew Hancock
Love Soul Deep Jor él Quinn

Best Lighting Equity
Fences Karyn D. Lawrence
The Gospel at Colonus Karyn D. Lawrence
Motown the Musical Natasha Katz

Best Lighting – Local
Keena Unbranded Sammie Wayne and Craig Hissong
I and You Jeremy Pivnick
Dontrell, Who Kissed The Sea Jeff McLaughlin

Best Music Director Equity
The Gospel at Colonus – Abdul Hamid Royal
Motown the Musical Darryl Archibald
The Whos Tommy Marc Macalintal

Best Music Director Local
Recorded In Hollywood Stephan Terry
Ucarmen Mandisi Dyantyis
The Discord Altar Ann Baltz

Best One Person Show – Local
Keena Unbranded Keena Ferguson
Lonely Girl: The Dorothy Dandridge Story Wanda Ray Willis
Conscious: Getting Unstuck Homeless to Hollywood (An American Dream) Merlé Soden

Best Playwright Equity
The Best of Enemies Mark St. Germain
Satchmo at the Waldorf Terry Teachout
Motown the Musical Berry Gordy

Best Playwright Local
Keena Unbranded Keena Ferguson
Changes Wallace Demarria
Dreamscape Rickerby Hinds

Best Producer Equity
Fences Caryn Desai/International City Theatre
Satchmo at the Waldorf Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
The Gospel at Colonus Wren T. Brown

Best Producer Local
Recorded In Hollywood Dolphins of Hollywood Productions, LLC, Racquel Lehrman and Theatre Planners
Dreamscape Hindsight Productions and Latino Theatre Company
Changes New Leaf Endeavors and Wallace Damarria

Best Set Design Equity
Satchmo at the Waldorf Lee Savage
Immediate Family John Iacovelli
The Gospel at Colonus Edward E. Haynes, Jr.

Best Set Design Local
Pieces Helleaux Studio Design
I and You Tom Buderwitz
Invisible Dani Anatole Batiste

Best Sound Equity
Motown the Musical Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook
Fences Jeff Polunas
The Whipping Man Michael Roth

Best Sound Local
Keena Unbranded Gabriel D. Angell, Steve Harvey, Kay-Ta Matsunc and Taro Morita
Detroit 67 John Wilson
My Children! My Africa! Warren Davis

Best Supporting Female Equity
To Kill A Mockingbird Earnestine Phillips
As You Like It Crystal Clark
The Whos Tommy Constance Jewell Lopez

Best Supporting Female Local
Love Soul Deep Nadine Ellis
Love Soul Deep Shayla Hale
Love Soul Deep April Parker Jones

Best Supporting Male Equity
The Best of Enemies Shon Fuller Motown the Musical – Jesse Nager
Motown the Musical Jarran Muse

Best Supporting Male Local
Sunset Baby Chris Gardner
My Children! My Africa! Aaron Jennings
The Conversation Danny De Lloyd


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