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Archive for October 31st, 2016

Attorney General Madigan Reminds Families to Check Sex Offender Registry to Plan Safe Trick-Or-Treat Routes

Posted by Admin On October - 31 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL— As Halloween approaches, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan reminded parents to check the state’s sex offender registry and with their local law enforcement agency before determining trick-or-treat routes for their children.

“It’s horrifying how many known sex offenders there are; they live in every community of Illinois. So I encourage parents, grandparents and caregivers to check the Illinois online sex offender registry before going out with their little ghosts and goblins this Halloween to ensure fun and safe trick or treating,” Madigan said.

Madigan noted that Illinois law prohibits all sex offenders who committed a crime against a child from distributing candy or others items to children on Halloween. Sex offenders on parole, mandatory supervised release and probation may have other conditions imposed upon them to protect the public. They may be prohibited from having their porch lights on and from leaving their homes, except for verified work purposes.

As of October 2016, there were more than 29,300 registered sex offenders listed on the Illinois Sex Offender Registry, and more than 23,600 of those committed a crime against a child. The registry is administered by the Illinois State Police.


2016 Illinois Report Card Highlights Statewide Strengths, Opportunities

Posted by Admin On October - 31 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

State shows overall improvement in student attendance, PARCC participation, high school dropout rate, ACT scores, and PARCC math proficiency

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released the 2016 Illinois Report Card at www.illinoisreportcard.com, providing schools, districts, parents, and stakeholders with a comprehensive annual informational snapshot of public education across the state. The statewide data reveal Illinois’ K-12 academic performance overall remained stable from the 2014-15 to the 2015-16 school years. The 2016 Report Card data show continuing opportunities for collaboration between districts and community partners to target and improve student outcomes.

The 2016 Report Card dataset stands as a significant benchmark, welcoming a new era of collaboration and support, as ISBE prepares to implement the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA allows districts greater flexibility to braid and blend funds to address specific local needs. The draft Illinois State Plan to implement ESSA, currently a work-in-progress developed collaboratively with Illinois’ stakeholders, will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in March. The plan will establish new accountability measures and systems of support for struggling districts to better serve students, designed based on stakeholder input. 

“During the 2015-16 school year, our Report Card indicators mostly held steady – a testament to the commitment and resourcefulness of educators and administrators across the state, who deeply felt our state’s education funding challenges,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “Yet, while some students are achieving at remarkable levels, the majority of the generation of students entrusted to us are unprepared for the world of work and for meaningful participation in our communities. If we hope to make Illinois a state where whole, healthy children are nested in whole, healthy systems, and where all citizens are socially and economically secure, we must make major changes to the way we fund our public schools and fundamentally shift our approach to education. We can improve our Report Card indicators by coming together in Illinois around the new provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As educators, families, community and business leaders, and activists, we must seize the opportunities within ESSA. We must engage in dialogue, continue to build trusting relationships with one another, and activate all public, private, and philanthropic resources available in order to interrupt those practices that have left far too many of Illinois’ most vulnerable behind.”

Lauded for its transparency and user-friendliness, the Illinois Report Card allows schools and districts to look at their own performance from year to year and to identify collaboration opportunities with other schools and districts across multiple measures. Districts and schools use the Report Card data to ignite and inform conversations about how collectively to improve public education in Illinois for the benefit of all students.

Data points presented on the Report Card for the first time in 2016 include teacher attendance, an essential element in continuity for students, and 6- and 7-year graduation cohorts, representing Illinois’ commitment to graduate students with Individualized Education Programs. The Report Card also highlights the Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and dual credit courses schools make available to students, in order to further Illinois’ goal of increasing enrollment and outcomes in AP, IB, and dual credit courses, especially among currently underrepresented yet high-achieving students.

The award-winning online Report Card platform now also features a mobile-friendly format, easier access to PARCC data, and “How To” videos to guide users step by step through the Report Card. Additionally, improved tools for reviewing assessment data allow users to find scores by grade, student groups, and subject area. The new navigation for Academic Progress now separates current state test data from prior tests, but still retains the long-term information under Retired Tests.  

Some notable statewide data points are listed below. All comparisons, unless otherwise noted, show changes from the 2015 Report Card to the 2016 Report Card.

·        Statewide student attendance – increased from 94.2% to 94.4%

·        Percentage of students meeting or exceeding PARCC math proficiency – increased from 28.2% to 30.5%

·        High school dropout rate – decreased from 2.3% to 2.0%; metric shows percentage of students in grades 9-12 who dropped out of high school during the school year

·        Percentage of students tested on PARCC – increased from 95.6% to 97.5%

·        Percentage of students earning a 21 or higher ACT composite score – increased from 45.6% to 46.4%

·        Students enrolled in Pre-K-12 education – more than two million students (2,041,779) at the beginning of 2015-16, 12,777 fewer than the previous year; percentage of Hispanic students increased slightly (25.1% to 25.5%), while percentage declined slightly for White (49.3% to 48.8%) and African-American (17.5% to 17.3%) students

·        4-year cohort graduation rate – decreased slightly from 85.6% to 85.5%

·        5-year cohort graduation rate – remained the same at 87.7%

·        Percentage of freshman on-track to graduation – decreased from 83.4% to 82.4%

·        Eighth grade students passing Algebra I – remained the same at 28.4%; metric is in its second year of use on the Report Card and represents the number of eighth grade students passing an Algebra I course divided by the total number of eighth graders in the school/district

·        Percentage of students meeting or exceeding PARCC English/Language Arts proficiency – decreased from 37.7% to 36.2%

·        Percentage of students at or above the target on the Dynamic Learning Maps for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities – 22.6% on English/Language Arts and 11.3% on math; comparisons from year to year on the DLM are not meaningful, as the range of disabilities across years can vary widely

·        Chronic truancy – increased from 8.7% to 9.8%; metric shows percentage of students who missed 5 percent or more of school days per year without a valid excuse

·        Percentage of graduates enrolled in Illinois community colleges taking remedial courses – increased from 48.7% for 2013 high school graduates to 49.4% for 2014 high school graduates

·        Average teacher salary – increased by $841, from $62,609 to $63,450

·        Average administrator salary – increased by $2,914, from $100,720 to $103,634

·        Teacher retention rate – increased from 85.0% to 85.8%

·        Principal turnover – remained the same at 1.9 principals at the same school for six years

·        Teacher attendance percentage – 76.5% of teachers had 10 or fewer absences during the 2013-14 school year (most current data available); metric reported for the first-time in 2016

·        Per pupil expenditure for instruction – increased from $7,419 to $7,712

·        Operational expenditure per pupil – increased from $12,521 to $12,821

The majority of the data presented on the Report Card are collected annually from school districts through data systems such as the state’s Student Information System, Employment Information System, and e-Report Card data collection system. Some data, such as extracurricular activities, are entered by principals throughout the year.

Early Voting Hours Extended to 7:00 P.M.

Posted by Admin On October - 31 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

A message from Alderman Joe Moore (49th)

Chairman, City Council Committee on Housing & Real Estate


The Chicago Board of Elections this week extended Early Voting hours to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

This means  you can vote early at any one of 51 locations Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. You can also vote early this Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

Lock in your vote early and avoid any unforeseen events on Election Day that might prevent you from voting, such as bad weather, a sick child or a crisis at work.

Early voting locations

Here are the Early Voting locations most convenient to 49th Ward residents:

Pottawattomie Park
7340 N. Rogers (just west of the Metra tracks)

Edgewater Library
6000 N. Broadway (at Elmdale)

Warren Park
6601 N. Western (2 blocks south of Pratt)

Chicago Board of Elections Annex
15 W. Washington (between State and Dearborn)

If you need a ride to an early voting site, please reply to this e-mail or call 773-973-4900.

If you are registered to vote at your current address, an ID is not required. Out of an abundance of caution, however, I advise you to bring an ID, such as a driver’s license or state ID, in the event there is a question about your registration.

Beating the lines

Lines for early voting are shortest on Sunday. As I note above, all Early Voting Sites will be open this Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In addition, the Board of Elections opened a new “Downtown Super Site” at 15 W. Washington with more than 100 touch screens.

You can still register to vote 

If you missed the standard October 11th voter registration deadline, there’s a safety net. From now until Election Day, you may register to vote, update your address or file your name change at any early voting location or at your polling place on Election Day. After you register, you must vote immediately during that same visit. Please bring two forms of identification, at least one of which shows your current address.

Vote by mail

You can also vote by mail!  Illinois law now permits you to vote by mail for any reason whatsoever.  To obtain an application to vote by mail, CLICK HERE.  Complete the application and either mail it or deliver it personally to the Chicago Board of Elections, 69 W. Washington. Suite 600, Chicago, IL 60602.

You will then receive your ballot in the mail.  Follow all the enclosed instructions and make sure to vote in secret.  The ballot may be returned to the Board of Elections by U.S. mail or a state licensed motor carrier or it may be delivered personally by you or an immediate relative.

Whatever method you choose, please vote. The stakes in this election are simply too high for you to stay home.


Joe Moore

U.S. Attorney Names District Election Officer to Oversee the Handling of Complaints of Election Fraud and Voting Rights Abuses

Posted by Admin On October - 31 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

District election officer to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election in California’s 34-County Eastern District

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced that Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin C. Khasigian will serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the upcoming November 8, 2016, general elections for the Eastern District of California. The DEO is responsible for overseeing complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington.

Counties in the Eastern District are: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba.

Acting U.S. Attorney Talbert said, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud. The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process.”

The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring election fraud and discrimination at the polls and will combat violations whenever and wherever they occur. The Department seeks to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election process by providing local points of contact within the Department for the public to report possible election fraud and voting rights violations while the polls are open on election day.

Federal law protects against such crimes as intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes, and marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input. Actions designed to interrupt or intimidate voters at polling places by questioning or challenging them, or by photographing or videotaping them under the pretext that these are actions to uncover illegal voting may violate federal voting rights law. Further, federal law protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice.

In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses on November 8, 2016, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, DEO Khasigian will be on duty in this District while the polls are open. He can be reached by the public at: (916) 554-2700 and (916) 554-2723.

In addition, the FBI will have special agents available in each field office and resident agency throughout the country to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on Election Day. The FBI can be reached by the public in the Eastern District of California at (916) 746-7000 or at tips.fbi.gov.

Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, DC by phone 800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2767, by fax (202) 307-3961, by email voting.section@usdoj.gov

Email links icon, or by complaint form at www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/votintake/index.php.For more information on the Justice Department’s efforts to protect the right to vote and prosecute ballot fraud visit:



Second Individual Pleads Guilty to Participating in Sophisticated International Cellphone Fraud Scheme

Posted by Admin On October - 31 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

A West Palm Beach, Florida, resident pleaded guilty to multiple criminal charges in connection with a sophisticated global cell phone fraud scheme that involved compromising cellphone customers’ accounts and “cloning” their phones to make fraudulent international calls.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office made the announcement.

Jose Santana, aka Octavio Perez, 53, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, access device fraud, the use, production or possession of modified telecommunications instruments and the use or possession of hardware or software configured to obtain telecommunications services; one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.  Sentencing will be scheduled for a later date before Senior U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley of the Southern District of Florida.

According to the plea agreement, Santana and his co-conspirators participated in a scheme to steal access to and fraudulently open new cellphone accounts using the personal information of individuals around the United States.

Santana admitted that his role in the scheme included operating a “call site” from his residence in West Palm Beach using the alias Octavio Perez.  He admitted that he would receive telecommunication identifying information associated with customers’ accounts from his co-conspirators and use that data, as well as other software and hardware, to reprogram cellphones that he controlled.  According to the plea agreement, Santana’s co-conspirators would then transmit thousands of international calls over the internet to Santana’s residence, where he would route them through the re-programmed cellphones to Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and other countries with high calling rates.  The calls were billed to the customers’ compromised accounts, he admitted.

In addition, Santana admitted that from December 2010 through October 2011, co-conspirators sent him more than 1,000 emails containing telecommunications identifying numbers associated with cellphone account holders around the United States.  According to the plea agreement, Santana was personally responsible for than $150,000 in loss resulting from the scheme.

Santana is the second defendant to plead guilty in the case.  On Aug. 29, 2016, Edwin Fana pleaded guilty to similar charges in this matter, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 22, 2016.

The FBI investigated the case, dubbed Operation Toll Free, which is part of the bureau’s ongoing effort to combat large-scale telecommunications fraud.  Senior Counsel Matthew A. Lamberti of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared M. Strauss of the Southern District of Florida are prosecuting the case.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Source: FBI

B-Series Examines Hip Hop Culture November 10-13

Posted by Admin On October - 31 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, partnering with national and local community organizations, artist practitioners and scholars, continues its B-SERIES, a biannual celebration of hip hop and street dance, with B-The Bridge? Teach-In featuring the B-Real Jam November 10–13 at various Chicago venues. Partnering with Words Beats & Life, Kuumba Lynx, GIRL ILLA Tactics and The Center for Community Arts Partnerships, The B-SERIES presents an expanded Teach-In featuring presentations, workshops, panels, film screenings and a community dance and competition called the B-Real Jam. The Teach-In aims to engage innovative practices in pedagogy, creative work, dialogue and collaboration among hip-hop practitioners, youth, community organizations and scholars.

“‘The Bridge’ is a motif spotlighting notions of connection, reciprocation and unification,” said Dance Center Lecturer, Venus Fly member and B-SERIES Co-Curator Kelsa Robinson. “However, ‘The Bridge’ can also conjure up notions of division, intrusion and appropriation, both historically and in current times. We recognize the importance of calling ‘The Bridge’ into question: Who built the bridge? Who designed the bridge? Who benefits from the bridge? Who decides when the bridge is over? We also aim to create a space for a diverse body of stakeholders to build connections, communication and collaboration.”

This community celebration of tradition, shifting cultural landscapes, challenging conversations and exaltations through dance and hip-hop culture includes presentations, workshops, panels, film screenings, verbal cyphers and buildsessions (participatory “panel” discussions), performances, social dancing, an open dance session and battles (a form of competition specific to hip-hop and street-dance culture). The B-Real Jam is co-curated by Kelsa Robinson, Dance Center lecturer and Venus Fly member; and El La Katrina, GIRL ILLA Tactics, Goddistas Crew member and NINJACHURCH. Additional support is provided by honorary hosts Wicked (Phaze II Crosstown Crew and Phaze II School) and Lady Sol (Lady Sol Inc./FIYAH FIT).

Events, which are free and open to the public except where noted, take place at the Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave.; the Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.; The Port Ministries, 5013 S. Hermitage Ave.; and The Greenhouse Theater 2, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.

A complete schedule of events is below; updates are available at colum.edu/dancecenterpresents and facebook.com/BHipHopSeries. For more information, contact Kelsa Robinson, 312-369-3829 or krobinson@colum.edu.

The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago is the city’s leading presenter of contemporary dance, showcasing artists of regional, national and international significance. The Dance Center has been named “Chicago’s Best Dance Theatre” by Chicago magazine, “Best Dance Venue” by the Chicago Reader and Chicago’s top dance venue in 2014 by Newcity, and Time Out Chicago cited it as “…consistently offering one of Chicago’s strongest lineups of contemporary and experimental touring dance companies.” Programs of the Dance Center are supported, in part, by the Alphawood Foundation; The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince; The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; Illinois Arts Council Agency; Marcia E. Lazar Challenge Grant; The Irving Harris Foundation; Martha Struthers Farley and Donald C. Farley, Jr. Family Foundation, N.A., Trustee; the Arts Midwest Touring Fund; and the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Special thanks to Friends of the Dance Center for their generous contributions to the work of the Dance Center.

The B-The Bridge Teach-In and B-Real Jam Schedule
Events, which are free and open to the public except where noted, take place at the Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave.; the Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave.; The Port Ministries, 5013 S. Hermitage Ave.; and The Greenhouse Theater 2, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Thursday, November 10
6–9 p.m.: Community Gathering and Verbal Cypher, Conaway Center
A community dialogue, known as a “build session” in the hip hop communityFriday, November 11—all at Conaway Center
9 a.m.–12 noon: This Bridge Called My Block
A highly interactive laboratory workshop focusing on liberatory frameworks and techniques
1–2 p.m.: Concurrent Sessions

  • Street Art Workshop hosted by Kuumba Lynx with Nerd La Roc
  • Dance Hall Queens Workshop hosted by Kuumba Lynx with Lady Sol
  • Build Your Lens, a Filmmakers Panel hosted by Kuumba Lynx with WEGETFREE media crew
  • Break Beat Poetry Writing Workshop

2:15–3:15 p.m.: Columbia College Presentation: Hip-Hop Minor with short performance by D-Nick and the Microphone Misfitz
3:30–4:30 p.m.: Concurrent Sessions 2

  • Bett’s Presentation
  • Pinkston Presentation
  • Cutting and Remixing: Hands-on/Dance Composition
  • Breaking History and Underground Movements with Asia One
  • Young Chicago Authors Panel

4:40–5:40 p.m.: Concurrent Sessions 3

  • Clay Presentation
  • Math and Science Diversity Dialogues
  • Moncell Durden Movement-Based Workshop
  • GIRL ILLA Tactics Film Screening and Q&A with El La Katrina and Bgirl Macca
  • Power Style Radio Panel

6:30–7:30 p.m.: Words Beats & Life Presents From Sifrs to Cyphers and Keynote by Saud Abdul Khabeer, followed by Short Performance with Ang 13
7:30–9:30 p.m.: Everything Remains Raw Film Screening with Moncell “Ill Kozby” Durden

Saturday, November 12—all at the Dance Center
12 noon–1:30 p.m.: Remind Workshop, $15
12 noon–2 p.m.: Mr. Wave Workshop and Film Screening
A documentary about the life story of Tony “Mr. Wave” Wesley, legendary dancer of the New York City Breakers and Beat Street
1:30–3 p.m.: Loose Joint Workshop, $15
3–8 p.m.: B-Real Jam
Featuring internationally renowned judges Remind, Loose Joint, Asia One, BraveMonk and Claydoh as well as Masters of Ceremony El La Katrina and Moncell “Ill Kozby” Durden with DJs Moz Definite, Illanoiz and Fa$t Money Mike

Sunday, November 13
12 noon–2 p.m.: Asia One Workshop, The Port Ministries, $15
6 p.m.: Kuumba Lynx Presents Rose Gold, The Greenhouse Theater 2, $16
Kuumba Lynx celebrates its 20th anniversary with an extended fall run of The Chicago Hip Hop Theater Fest’s Sound Da Alarm. Grounded in critical pedagogy, original performance aesthetics and community engagement, Sound Da Alarm will feature Rose Gold with Zhalarina Sanders. Purchase tickets here: red.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?t=tix&e=1fa1b803446832f754a48e1d8b225879

Unemployment Rates Show Slight Increase in Half of Metro Areas

Posted by Admin On October - 31 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL –This month, seven of Illinois’ metropolitan (metro) areas experienced increases in their over-the-year unemployment rate and eight of the metro areas had increases in nonfarm jobs, according to preliminary data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

“The state is still experiencing not nearly enough growth,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “While the unemployment rate is slightly increased from a year ago, it’s not nearly enough growth as we continue to lose ground to other parts of the country.”

Illinois businesses added jobs in eight metro areas, in which the largest increases were seen in: Rockford (+1.7 percent, +2,600), Champaign-Urbana (+1.5 percent, +1,700), Elgin (+1.4 percent, +3,700), and Lake-Kenosha (+1.4 percent, +5,800). Total nonfarm jobs in the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metro Division increased (+1.1 percent or +40,300). Illinois businesses lost jobs in six metro areas including Carbondale-Marion (-3.4 percent, -2,000), Bloomington (-2.4 percent, -2,300), and the Quad Cities (-2.3 percent, -4,300). The industry sectors recording job growth in the majority of metro areas were: Education and Health Services (10 of 14), and Other Services (nine of 14).

Not seasonally adjusted data compares September 2016 with September 2015. The not seasonally adjusted Illinois rate was 5.4 percent in September 2016 and stood at 12.2 percent at its peak in this economic cycle in January 2010. Nationally, the not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in September 2016 and 10.6 percent in January 2010 at its peak. The unemployment rate identifies those who are out of work and looking for work, and is not tied to collecting unemployment insurance benefits.

Job Growth Remains Sluggish


Not Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates

Metropolitan Area





Over-the-Year Change













Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights








Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL
















Lake-Kenosha, IL-WI
















St. Louis (IL-Section)




Illinois Statewide




* Data subject to revision.


Total Nonfarm Jobs (Not Seasonally Adjusted) – September 2016

Metropolitan Area



Over-the-Year Change

Bloomington MSA




Carbondale-Marion MSA




Champaign-Urbana MSA




Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metro Division




Danville MSA




Davenport-Moline-Rock Island MSA




Decatur MSA




Elgin Metro Division




Kankakee MSA




Lake-County-Kenosha County Metro Division




Compliant Prisoners Teargassed Without Provocation; MDOC Withheld Information

Posted by Admin On October - 31 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

KINCHELOE, MI – Shocking accounts continue to emerge of the protests at Kinross Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Most prisoners refused to report to work on September 9 in conjunction with a nationwide prisoner work stoppage, and over four hundred marched peacefully in the yard on September 10 to air grievances such as low wages as well as poor food quality and quantity.

Historian Heather Ann Thompson of the University of Michigan received detailed accounts from several prisoners who were at Kinross at the time. One prisoner wrote, “At 9:30 p.m. SWAT entered my housing facility took control, ordered everyone on our bunks. Every single person complied. At 10:00 p.m., after a half hour of compliance and silence, they deployed pepper spray and tear gas in that unit without provocation. I don’t understand why they’d use it a half hour after they had full compliance and control.” In an independent report to Thompson, another prisoner corroborated that riot squads deployed pepper spray and teargas at prisoners in housing units and “then they took their stand with their shields and all.”

Gilbert Morales, another prisoner who witnessed the events at Kinross, explained in a detailed report: “Everything started with a meeting with the Block Representatives and the Warden’s Forum which included Warden Duncan MacLaren, ADW Daley and Warden’s Assistant Dave Mastaw on September 7th, 2016. They discussed that there would be a green light to those who did not want to go to work on September 9th. They (the administration) said there would be no consequences because they did not want to endanger anyone. So he said no one would be penalized for participating.”

Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) has not mentioned in any public reports that wardens negotiated this agreement in advance with prisoners—an agreement that they later broke.

Numerous discrepancies between claims from the MDOC and witness accounts from prisoners and guards alike have come to light thus far. MDOC spokesperson Chris Gautz claimed that only prisoners at Kinross participated in the September 9 nationwide work stoppage. Multiple prisoners contradict this claim and state that kitchen workers at Marquette Branch Prison, Michigan Reformatory, and Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility also refused to work that day. MDOC said that only kitchen workers and a few others refused to report to work at Kinross, but Kinross prisoner Anthony Bates reports that it was a facility-wide work stoppage.

The Detroit Free Press obtained e-mails exchanged between high-ranking prison officials on September 10. Officials debated how transparent to be in MDOC’s official press release and sought to minimize the significance of the incident. The e-mails confirm prisoner Bates’s report that the damage (see photos) to two of the housing units began only after riot squads came in firing tear gas and grabbing prisoners.

IDOT: Don’t be a Ghoul, Don’t Drink and Drive

Posted by Admin On October - 31 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

 Police throughout Illinois step up patrols for Halloween weekend

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) joined the Illinois State Police (ISP) and local police agencies to warn motorists against becoming an impaired driving monster this Halloween. If you are planning to be out celebrating this Halloween, the message is simple: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

“Make a plan ahead of time to get home without driving if you will be drinking alcohol this Halloween,” said Priscilla Tobias, director of IDOT’s Office of Program Development. “Don’t drive after you have been drinking, as it could be a costly or even deadly decision.”

Increased enforcement will be in effect from Friday, Oct. 28, until the early morning hours of Tuesday, Nov. 1. The Halloween crackdown takes place as Illinois motor vehicle crash fatalities are on the rise. As of October 26, Illinois motor vehicle fatalities are at 879 which is 8.7% higher than this time last year.

“Halloween is a time when family and friends come together for celebration. Drivers are reminded to be watchful for children crossing the street,”” said ISP Col. Tad Williams. “Always designate a driver before consuming alcohol. Troopers will be out in force this Halloween conducting roadside safety checks and roving patrols. Remember to buckle up and don’t drive distracted.”

Working with law enforcement, IDOT is striving toward a goal of zero traffic fatalities in Illinois. If you plan to drink alcohol this Halloween, plan beforehand. Designate a sober driver and don’t let others around you drive impaired. Other important safety tips include:

  • If you are impaired, call a cab, use a ride-sharing service, take mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.
  • Use your community’s designated driver program, if available.
  • Promptly report impaired drivers you see to law enforcement by pulling over to a safe location and dialing 911.
  • Make sure everyone in your vehicle wears their seat belt. It is your best defense against an impaired driver.

Illinois Awarded $850,000 to Support Small Business Exports

Posted by Admin On October - 31 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

SPRINGFIELD, ILThe Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity’s Office of Trade and Investment has received $850,000 in federal funds to support export growth among Illinois small businesses. The funding was awarded through the Small Business Administration’s competitive State Trade Expansion Program (STEP).

“In our increasingly global economy, companies looking to grow need to look beyond domestic markets,” Department of Commerce Acting Director Sean McCarthy said. “Illinois companies reported exports of more than $63.4 billion in 2015. STEP will allow the Illinois Department of Commerce to continue to help Illinois companies explore new markets and grow their businesses through our State Trade and Export Promotion program.”

Illinois’ State Trade and Export Promotion (ISTEP) program provides small businesses with financial and technical assistance to increase their exports. Eligible companies may participate in group or individual trade and sales missions, and receive training and support in international marketing, product compliance and general export education.  Through ISTEP, Illinois companies have the opportunity to attend international trade shows across the globe.

“Our STEP program, as well as SBA’s export loans and International Trade Centers, ensure local resources are available to help small businesses tap into the global marketplace,” SBA Illinois District Director Robert “Bo” Steiner said. “By funding Illinois and its export development partners, the SBA is delivering the tools and resources necessary for small businesses in our state to build relationships and launch their services and products abroad.”

STEP helps businesses increase their market reach and international sales, generating significant returns for U.S. companies. STEP recipients on average generate $22 in U.S. small business export sales for every $1 of STEP investment. In total, Illinois has received nearly $3.9 million in STEP funding since FY 2011.

Exports represent a significant opportunity for Illinois businesses. Small and medium-sized companies account for 98 percent of U.S. exporters, however less than one percent of U.S. companies currently export. Illinois is the largest exporting state in the Midwest, and the fifth largest exporting state in the country.

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