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September , 2017
Tuesday

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ABA President Paulette Brown Joins Social Activist & Media Personality Areva D. Martin in ...
Part Seven of an 11-Part Series on Race A Second Emancipation  One hundred years after Lincoln ...
  Rising Graphic Novel Publishing Star finds new home for Book Trade Market and Beyond   Berkeley, CA ...
Hurry! Just A Few Days Before Enrollment Closes!   CHICAGO, IL – Sunday is National 529 ...
Thirteen-year-old Alexandra Anaya was brutally murdered 11 years ago this month, and today the FBI’s ...
DOWNERS GROVE, IL – The Illinois Tollway’s Chief of Diversity and Strategic Development, Gustavo ...
  Black on Black Love and City of Chicago collaborating to salute legendary couple   CHICAGO, IL – ...
By Chinta Strausberg   Reacting to the death of 47-year-old Rodney King who was found dead at ...

Archive for December, 2016

NAACP Calls on Senate to Block Sessions for Attorney General

Posted by Admin On December - 29 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

 

Historic and current failure to acknowledge voter suppression remains a key issue

 

BALTIMORE, MD – NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks issued the following statement opposing the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions as potential Attorney General:

America yet stands at the beginning of presidential administration but also in the middle of a Twitter age civil rights movement based on old divisions. Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is among the worst possible nominees to serve as Attorney General amidst some of the worst times for civil rights in recent memory.

“Following a divisive presidential campaign, hate crimes rising, police videos sickening the stomach while quickening the conscience, protesters marching in the streets and politicians mouthing the myth of voter fraud while denying the reality of voter suppression, Senator Sessions is precisely the wrong man to lead the Justice Department. The NAACP, as the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, opposes the nomination of Senator Sessions to become U.S. Attorney General for the following reasons: a record on voting rights that is unreliable at best and hostile at worse; a failing record on other civil rights; a record of racially offensive remarks and behavior; and dismal record on criminal justice reform issues.”

Voting Rights:

Senator Sessions supported the re-authorization of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2006, but called the bill “a piece of intrusive legislation” just months earlier. Sessions has consistently voted in favor of strict voter ID laws that place extra burdens on the poor and residents of color, and drive voter suppression across the country. When the Supreme Court struck down federal protections in 2012 that prevented thousands of discriminatory state laws from taking effect since 1965, Sessions declared it was “a good thing for the South.” As a prosecutor in 1985, Sessions maliciously prosecuted a former aide to Martin Luther King for helping senior citizens file absentee ballots in Alabama.

Rather than enforcing voting rights protections, Senator Sessions has instead made a career of seeking to dismantle them. When Shelby County v. Holder gutted the protections of the VRA, Senator Sessions cheered. For decades, he has pursued the rare and mystical unicorn of voter fraud, while turning a blind eye to the ever-growing issue of voter suppression.

While Senator Sessions’ historical record on civil rights remains one of dismay, it is his unrepentant stance against the vote that remains our issue. The threat of voter suppression is not a historical but current challenge. At least 10 times in the past 10 months, the NAACP defended voting rights against coordinated campaigns by legislators targeting African-American voters in Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and many other states.

While the NAACP could gain the assistance of the Justice Department in fighting back against voter suppression, a Sessions-led DOJ would likely lead to the exact opposite. During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, then-Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach’s commitment to democracy allowed him to help write the VRA. Today, our nation stands on the verge of selecting an AG who has never shown the slightest commitment to enforcing the protections Katzenbach and others wrote into law.

How can our communities who have born the both historical and current brunt of the attacks on the right to vote, sit idly by while an enemy to the vote is now given the responsibility of enforcing this right? The simple answer is that we can’t.

Other Civil Rights:

Since 1997, Senator Sessions has received an F every year on the NAACP’s federal legislative civil rights report cards. He’s voted against our policy positions nearly 90 percent of the time. Senator Sessions has repeatedly supported lawsuits and attempts to overturn desegregation while shamelessly voting against federal Hate Crime legislation four times from 2000 to 2009.

Notwithstanding, he has also repeatedly voted against the Violence Against Women Act that expanded protection for victims of domestic violence and repeatedly stood on the wrong side of immigration and LGBT issues.

Racial Insensitivity:

During his failed 1986 federal judgeship hearing, four DOJ attorneys and colleagues of Senator Sessions testified that he made several racist statements. J. Gerald Hebert testified that Sessions had referred to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as “un-American” and “Communist inspired” because they “forced civil rights down the throats of people.

Additional accusations of racist behavior were attributed to Senator Sessions by Thomas Figures, an African American Assistant U.S. Attorney, who testified that Sessions said he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.” Sessions later said that the comment was not serious, but did apologize for it. Mr. Figures also testified that on one occasion, Senator Session railed against civil rights cases, threw a file on the table and called him the derogatory racist term “boy,” and later advised Figures to watch what he said to white people.

Criminal Justice Reform:

In a time of expanding protests against the scourge of police brutality, Senator Sessions stands on opposite ground. He has repeated stood against the consent decree, a main tool of the DOJ to reel in racist and unaccountable police departments. In a report by the Alabama Policy Institute, Senator Sessions called consent decrees: “One of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power is the issuance of expansive court decrees. Consent decrees have a profound effect on our legal system as they constitute an end run around the democratic process.”

While under the administration of President Barack Obama, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division made investigating police departments charged with racism and police brutality a key focus by intervening in high-profile cases in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland to impose consent decrees and reforms to correct misbehavior and the violation of citizen’s civil rights.

Senator Sessions would become the Attorney General under a president who supports nationalizing the racist and disproven “stop and frisk,” strategy. Both Sessions and the incoming president are supporters of the DOD 1033 program which allows police department’s access to surplus military equipment including tanks, armored vehicles, grenade launchers and more. He also opposes the removal of mandatory minimum sentences and blocked efforts to reduce nonviolent drug sentencing despite wide bi-partisan support for doing so. If not enough, Senator Sessions has repeatedly voted against safe, sane, and sensible measures to stem the tide of gun violence.

Given that these are issues our nation the attorney general is sworn to protect and enforce his nomination represents an ongoing and dangerous threat to our civic birthrights –particularly, and the right to vote.

We call upon the Senate to reject Sessions and for President-elect Donald J. Trump to replace Sessions with a nominee with a record of inclusion and commitment to protecting the civil rights of the American majority.

The NAACP does not believe that an election where the incoming president lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes represents a mandate to overhaul the America of the Majority. The vote remains the most important resource in making democracy real for all people.

As we have since 1909, the NAACP will continue to stand against Senator Sessions and any attempts to unravel the progress earned through the blood, sweat and tears of our people to enjoy the same rights under law as all Americans.”

Putting “Happy” Back Into the Holidays: Tips for Overcoming the Holiday Blues

Posted by Admin On December - 29 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Op-Ed By Van Moody

The holidays are quickly approaching and while many people are decking the halls and enjoying festive parties, millions of Americans are suffering silently from holiday sadness and depression also known as “holiday blues”.
There are many causes of “holiday blues”, from loss of loved ones during the holiday season and feelings of loneliness, to monetary stress and pressure to buy extravagant presents. Added to the emotional toll; the drop in outside temperatures and shorter daylight hours.
In fact, according to Psychology Today, more than 10 million Americans suffer from a more severe form of holiday blues, called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, which is a depression that normally occurs in winter months.
But, here’s the kicker; in so many of our personal experiences, we know much of the holiday stress often stems from strained relationships and unhealed hurts between family members. The tensions are magnified around the holiday dinner table.
Even more than 40% of the population reported that they feel exhausted and inadequate during the holidays. While it takes two to tango (or fight), and feelings of inadequacy can be triggered by outside forces, in my study of people and relationships, I’ve learned that behind all our stumbles, behind each of our missteps, behind every one of our failings, lies an inability to handle our I-Factor. I-Factor is your relationship with yourself; the internal struggles that can often stand between you and the life you want to live.
The hard, but transformative truth is that no person or situation is responsible for what happens in our lives, or emotions…even during the holidays. The outcome of our struggles is directly related to how we choose to respond. The strength of your I-Factor ultimately determines whether you will help yourself or hinder yourself as you go through life; whether you will give in to the “holiday blues” or fight your way back to a healthy, happy holiday season.
Here are a few tips to help you overcome I-Factor issues related to holiday blues.
1. Identify the underlying cause, the I-Factor issues, that lead to holiday blues.
2. Develop a plan of attack to fix I-Factor issues.
3. Spend time with people who make you feel happy and loved.
4. Engage in activities that you enjoy.
5. If holiday blues are brought on because of lost loved ones, create a way to honor them.
6. Keep a daily gratitude journal. Reflecting will remind you of all the great things in your life.
7. Practice positive self-talk. Positive self-talk helps repair and maintain a healthy I-factor.
8. Learn to forgive, starting with yourself!

If you learn to master these tips, you will be one step closer to mastering your I-Factor and kicking holiday blues to the curb. More than self-worth or self-respect, beyond even character and perception of purpose, The I-Factor is about managing yourself-your whole life-well. So, this holiday season, prepare to overcome the internal feelings that have been holding you back and start to enjoy the love and laughter of the holiday season again.

Van Moody serves as pastor of The Worship Center in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition, he is on the board of Joel Osteen’s Champions Network, is a member of Dr. Oz’s Core Team, and is an associate trainer in Japan for Dr. John Maxwell’s EQUIP leadership organization. His perennial bestseller, The People Factor, was released in 2014 and his latest book, The I-Factor: How Building a Great Relationship with Yourself Is the Key to a Happy, Successful Life will be released on November 22, 2016. Moody, his wife, Ty, and their children, live in Birmingham, Alabama. www.ifactorbook.com

Former Ballard County Treasurer Guilty Of Bank And Wire Fraud

Posted by Admin On December - 29 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Admitted to obtaining $450,000 in unauthorized loans for the county and then concealing the proceeds from the Fiscal Court; also personally received at least $27,000 in fraudulent medical reimbursement payments.

PADUCAH, Ky. – United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr., announced a guilty plea by the former Treasurer of Ballard County, Kentucky, for participating in a scheme that involved obtaining approximately $450,000 in bank loans using a $500,000 Ballard County Certificate of Deposit as collateral, all without authorization from the Ballard County Fiscal Court; guilty pleas were also entered due to her theft of at least $27,000 in fraudulent medical reimbursement payments while employed as the County’s treasurer.

Belinda Janean Foster, 50, pled guilty today in United States District Court, before Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell, to all five of her charges stemming from a November 15, 2016, grand jury indictment that included a single count of bank fraud and four counts of wire fraud.

According to the plea agreement, Foster admitted that she intended to deceive the Ballard County Fiscal Court about the loans by intentionally not making it aware of the loans and concealing the proceeds of the loans.

Beginning sometime in April of 2014, Foster, then employed as Ballard County Treasurer, told her supervisor, Ballard County Judge Executive Vickie Viniard, that Ballard County needed funds in the county operating account in order to cover expenses and payroll. According to Foster, Viniard stated that she would obtain a loan until the county road funds were received.

In April 2014, Viniard subsequently secured a $300,000 loan from First Community Bank in Wickliffe, Kentucky, using a Ballard County Certificate of Deposit valued at approximately $500,000 as collateral.  In June 2014, Viniard and Foster obtained another loan, as co-signers, again from First Community Bank in the amount of $150,000 and again used the same CD as collateral.

After receiving the funds from the two loans, Foster was required, by Kentucky Statute, to account for this income on the Ballard County financial and accounting records and report these loans to the Kentucky Department for Local Government. However, Foster, in order to conceal the loans, and at the direction of Viniard, never reported these loans to the state government and intentionally labeled $350,000 from the loans as “payroll tax” instead of accounting for the income as loan proceeds while wiring the remaining $100,000 across interstate lines from First Community Bank in Wickliffe, Kentucky to Huntington National Bank in Columbus, Ohio – not accounting for that amount at all.

Prior to obtaining the two loans, neither Viniard or Foster ever made the Ballard County Fiscal Court aware of these loans nor did Viniard or Foster make the Ballard County Fiscal Court aware that a $500,000 CD was pledged as collateral for the loans.  Furthermore, neither Viniard or Foster informed First Community Bank that Viniard had not requested or obtained authority from the Ballard County Fiscal Court to apply for the loans.

In addition to the fraudulent loans listed above, Foster admitted to regularly writing herself checks for fraudulent medical reimbursement payments to which she knew she was not entitled.  These fraudulent medical reimbursement payments totaled at least $27,000.

If convicted at trial, Foster could have been sentenced to a combined maximum prison term of 110 years, ordered to pay a fine of $2,000,000 and serve a five-year term of supervised release. Foster is scheduled for sentencing before Senior Judge Russell in Paducah, on April 21, 2017.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nute Bonner and is being investigated by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Source: FBI

United States Sues Barclays Bank to Recover Civil Penalties for Fraud in the Sale of Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities

Posted by Admin On December - 29 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
 Two former Barclays executives also named in the suit

The United States Department of Justice filed a civil complaint in the Eastern District of New York against Barclays Bank PLC and several of its United States affiliates (together, Barclays), alleging that Barclays engaged in a fraudulent scheme to sell residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) supported by defective and misrepresented mortgage loans.  As alleged in the complaint, from 2005 to 2007, Barclays personnel repeatedly misrepresented the characteristics of the loans backing securities they sold to investors throughout the world, who incurred billions of dollars in losses as a result of the fraudulent scheme.  The suit also names as defendants two former Barclays executives:  Paul K. Menefee, of Austin, Texas, who served as Barclays’ head banker on its subprime RMBS securitizations, and John T. Carroll, of Port Washington, New York, who served as Barclays’ head trader for subprime loan acquisitions.

The detailed allegations in the complaint describe Barclays’, Menefee’s, and Carroll’s misconduct in connection with RMBS securitizations Barclays underwrote between 2005 and 2007.  The complaint alleges violations of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA), based on mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, and other misconduct.  FIRREA authorizes the Attorney General to seek civil penalties up to the amount of the gain to the violator or the losses suffered by persons other than the violator.

“Financial institutions like Barclays occupy a position of vital public trust,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.  “Ordinary Americans depend on their assurances of transparency and legitimacy, and entrust these banks with their valuable savings.  As alleged in this complaint, Barclays jeopardized billions of dollars of wealth through practices that were plainly irresponsible and dishonest.   With this filing, we are sending a clear message that the Department of Justice will not tolerate the defrauding of investors and the American people.”

“The widespread fraud that investment banks like Barclays committed in the packaging and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities injured tens of thousands of investors and significantly contributed to the Financial Crisis of 2008,” said Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer.  “Millions of homeowners were left with homes they could not afford, leaving entire neighborhoods devastated.  The government’s complaint alleges that Barclays fraudulently sold investors RMBS full of mortgages it knew were likely to fail, all while telling investors that the mortgages backing the securities were sound.  Today’s complaint makes clear that the Department of Justice will continue to hold financial institutions, and the individuals who work for them, fully accountable for harming investors and the American public.”

“What is now often referred to as the ‘Great Recession’ started with the bursting of the housing bubble, followed by an enormous drop in U.S. home values, hundreds of bank failures, significant turbulence in financial markets, trillions of dollars of losses to investors, and, most devastatingly, a huge wave of home foreclosures,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “All of these injuries, and more, were caused at least in part by the type of misconduct alleged in this lawsuit.  We will continue holding both banks and their executives responsible for their role in contributing to this unfortunate period in our history.”

“Investors who bought RMBS from Barclays, and who suffered catastrophic losses as a result, included individuals and institutions that form the backbone of our community,” said Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.  “Credit unions, pension plans, charitable and religious organizations, university endowments, and financial institutions, among others, including many in this District, invested tens of billions of dollars in securities that Barclays repeatedly assured them were safe investments. Instead of ensuring that their representations to investors were accurate and transparent, so that investors could make properly informed investment decisions, Barclays and its employees repeatedly misled investors and kept to themselves critical information about the loans in the deals.  Time and again, they knowingly chose to put investors at risk of harm in pursuit of additional profits.  Barclays must be held accountable for its rampant fraud in marketing and selling these RMBS, and so must the individuals at the heart of the fraudulent scheme.”

“As the complaint alleges, Barclays knowingly sold investors RMBS backed by loans it knew were made to borrowers who were not creditworthy and which were supported by house appraisals it knew were inflated,” said Steven Perez, Special Agent in Charge at the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of the Inspector General (FHFA-OIG).  “The massive losses caused by the fraudulent behavior alleged in the complaint deeply affected not only banks and other financial institutions, including Federal Home Loan Banks, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, but also the American taxpayer.  We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold those who have engaged in misconduct fully accountable for their actions.”

As alleged in the complaint, from 2005 through 2007, Barclays, through Menefee and Carroll among others, fraudulently sold tens of billions of dollars of RMBS, and repeatedly misled investors about the quality of the mortgages backing those deals.  The alleged scheme involved no fewer than 36 RMBS deals, securitizing over $31 billion worth of subprime and Alt-A mortgage loans.  The complaint alleges that in publicly-filed offering documents and in direct communications with investors and rating agencies, Barclays systematically and intentionally misrepresented key characteristics of the loans it included in these RMBS deals.

The United States alleges that in selling certificates in these deals, Barclays assured investors that it had excluded “unacceptable” loans and that the loans in the deals had been underwritten under loan origination guidelines intended to ensure the borrowers’ ability to pay.  The complaint alleges Barclays represented to investors that property appraisals were reliable and that the properties were worth enough to avoid loss in the event of default.  Barclays told investors that it conducted “robust,” “thorough,” and “comprehensive” due diligence on the loan pools it securitized, and that it did not securitize non-compliant, delinquent, or “scratch and dent” loans.

As alleged in the complaint, these statements were false.  In reality, the complaint alleges, Barclays’ due diligence on these RMBS deals was a sham.  When it did not skip due diligence altogether, Barclays routinely ignored or kept to itself due diligence results that showed the bank that a considerable percentage of the loans in the deals did not conform to the representations it made to investors.  According to the complaint, Barclays sought to maximize the number of loans it securitized, regardless of how poor the quality of the loans.

The United States alleges that Barclays securitized thousands of loans (worth billions of dollars) that its due diligence vendors graded as materially defective, as well as hundreds more that were delinquent or in default at the time of securitization.  Its vendors told it that large percentages of the loans they reviewed violated the lenders’ underwriting guidelines or the relevant law, or involved borrowers who lacked the ability to repay.  Its vendors also told Barclays that the appraised values of significant percentages of the mortgaged properties were overstated and that thousands of those properties were underwater when they were securitized – meaning the properties were worth less than the loans on the properties.  The complaint alleges that Barclays employees, including Menefee and Carroll, ignored or knowingly overrode these findings, waiving thousands of bad loans into the deals.  On a number of occasions, Barclays even recycled into its deals defective loans it had kicked out of previous deals, without conducting any additional due diligence on the loans.

In general, the borrowers whose loans backed these deals were significantly less creditworthy than Barclays represented, and these loans defaulted at exceptionally high rates early in the life of the deals.  In addition, as alleged in the complaint, mortgaged properties were systematically worth less than what Barclays represented to investors.  The deals were dismal failures, as more than half of the underlying residential mortgages defaulted, resulting in billions of dollars in losses to investors.  Even investors in AAA-rated tranches of these securities, which were rated as safe as investments in U.S. Treasury bonds, suffered or will suffer significant losses.

Menefee and Carroll were central to Barclays’ allegedly fraudulent scheme.  Menefee was the head banker in charge of due diligence and securitization on all of Barclays’ subprime deals, and he decided which loans would be subject to due diligence, as well as which loans would be removed from loan pool purchases.  Carroll was the head trader on all of Barclays’ principal subprime deals, and he determined which subprime loan pools Barclays would bid on, at what price, and on what terms.  As alleged in the complaint, both men made representations about the characteristics of the loans backing the securities that they knew were false when they made them.

In charge of the case for the government are F. Franklin Amanat, Senior Counsel at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, along with Katharine E.G. Brooker, Evan P. Lestelle, and Josephine M. Vella, all Assistant United States Attorneys in Brooklyn.

To report RMBS fraud, go to: http://www.stopfraud.gov/rmbs.html.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice

Make A New Year’s Resolution To Volunteer In 2017

Posted by Admin On December - 29 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

 Millions raised for charity in 2016 and award nominations available

SPRINGFIELD, ILIllinoisans donated millions of dollars to charity in 2016, while also contributing millions of hours of service with a value of more than $7 billion.  The Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (Serve Illinois) would like to top that number and is asking everyone to resolve to volunteer more in 2017.

Thousands of community organizations are in desperate need for volunteers throughout the year, and many of those opportunities go unfilled. A great way to find a place to volunteer is by visiting www.Serve.Illinois.gov, where you can search through more than 2,500 volunteer opportunities throughout Illinois.

“When we ask people why they don’t volunteer, they tell us that they either didn’t know where to go or no one asked them to,” said Scott McFarland, Executive Director of Serve Illinois. “We are addressing both those issues with www.Serve.Illinois.gov. Anyone can serve. Even if you only have an hour to give, there is an organization that needs that hour.”

In addition to giving time, you can also donate. On November 29, 2016, approximately 22,500 donors gave almost $10.5 million to charities to celebrate Giving Tuesday – www.ilgive.com. “This one day effort shows what can be accomplished if people give a little of their time or money,” said Scott McFarland. “Our neighborhoods are only as strong as we make them, and volunteering is the best way to make them better places to live.”

Those who volunteered in 2016 can be nominated for the Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards. On April 25, 2017, Serve Illinois will present individual awards to one youth (18 years and under), one adult (19-54 years old), and one retiree/senior (55 years and older) from each of Serve Illinois’ five service regions across the state (Northeast, Northwest, East Central, West Central, and Southern).  AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and for-profit business awards will also be available in each of the regions.  Nominations are at www.Serve.Illinois.gov and are due by February 17, 2017.

Serve Illinois is a 40 member (25 voting and 15 non-voting), bi-partisan board appointed by the Governor and administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health.  Its mission is to improve Illinois communities by enhancing volunteerism and instilling an ethic of service throughout the state.  Serve Illinois is accomplishing this mission through the support of local community-based efforts to enhance volunteer opportunities and the administration of Illinois’ AmeriCorps program.  For more information on Serve Illinois, please visit www.Serve.Illinois.gov.

A New Year’s Resolution to Drive Sober, Buckle Up

Posted by Admin On December - 29 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS


DUI and seat belt patrols scheduled for final weekend of year

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL – As 2016 comes to an end, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police (ISP) and nearly 200 law enforcement agencies across the state are making a final push to keep traffic fatalities down during the New Year’s holiday weekend. This collaborative effort will include statewide roadside safety checks, seat belt enforcement zones and other patrols focused on the late-night hours.

“The winter holiday season can be one of the most dangerous times on Illinois roads,” said Priscilla Tobias, director of IDOT’s Office of Program Development. “We hope all motorists will do their part by practicing safe driving behaviors when traveling this weekend. Our aspiration in Illinois is to drive zero fatalities to reality in 2017 and beyond.”

Crash data compiled by IDOT shows that in the last five years (2011-15), 49 people died in crashes on Illinois roads during the New Year’s holiday period. Twenty, or 41 percent, died in crashes involving at least one driver who had been drinking. During last year’s New Year’s holiday, 16 people lost their lives, with six fatalities, or 38 percent, as a result of crashes involving at least one driver who tested positive for alcohol.

“DUI remains one of the top contributing factors in fatal crashes around the holidays,” said Illinois State Police Director Leo P. Schmitz. “ISP Troopers will be conducting roadside safety checks and roving patrols, looking for and arresting intoxicated motorists. Remember, drive sober or get pulled over.”

 

Some important life-saving tips:

  • Don’t allow friends or family members who have been drinking to get behind the wheel. Take their keys and help them find a safe way home.
  • Designate a sober driver ahead of time or plan to use a taxi, mass transit or your community’s designated driver program.
  • Promptly report drunk drivers to law enforcement.
  • Wear your seat belt and make sure all passengers are safely buckled up. It is your best defense in a crash.
  • Avoid distracted driving behaviors such as texting while driving.

     

    Traffic fatalities in Illinois passed the 1,000 mark this year for the first time since 2008. Through Dec. 27, 1,055 people died in crashes on Illinois roads. A total of 998 people died in crashes in 2015. Click here to view a snapshot of Illinois crash data for 2016.

A New Work by Choreographer to the Stars Liz Imperio and Frank Chaves’ Restaging of “Grusin Suite” Celebrate the Legacy and Future of GDC in Concerts at the Harris Theater March 31 – April 1

Posted by Admin On December - 29 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
April 1 Gala Celebration After-Party Honors Maeghan McHale Marking a Decade as a GDC Company Dancer


CHICAGO, IL – Giordano Dance Chicago (GDC), America’s original jazz dance company, debuts a new work by Liz Imperio, hailed as choreographer to the stars, when the company presents their spring engagement at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. The program will also feature former GDC dancer and River North Dance Chicago Artistic Director Frank Chaves’ restaging of “Grusin Suite,” a work that had its birth at GDC.

“Many Chicagoans know Frank’s ‘Grusin Suite’ as a four-movement work that was part of River North Dance Chicago’s repertoire, but it was originally choreographed and debuted on the Skyline Stage as a three-movement work for our Jazz Dance World Festival in 1993. I’m very excited to see Frank, a former GDC dancer, give new life to this piece of our history,” says Nan Giordano, GDC Artistic Director.

From 1993-2015, the Cuban-born Chaves, a 2014 Chicago Tribune “Chicagoan of the Year,”  served as artistic director for River North Dance Chicago (RNDC) curating a repertoire of works by the most respected dance makers, and creating 25 works for RNDC. Other choreographic credits include Finland’s Pori Dance Company, the National Choreographers Initiative and theatrical commissions for Steppenwolf Theatre Company and the Cleveland Playhouse. His performance credits include New York’s Ballet Hispanico, Giordano Dance Chicago and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

“I’m also thrilled to welcome back Liz Imperio, who choreographed ‘La Belleza de Cuba,’ a full-bodied tribute to the jazz of Cuba’s streets and nightclubs, for our 50th Anniversary. Imperio, too, represents our legacy, having initially connected to my father, Gus, whom she has described as the “iconic godfather of jazz dance,” at a dance convention many years ago. Given her appreciation of our history and sense of heart, I can’t wait to share her newest full company work with our audiences this spring.”

Liz Imperio, a proud Cuban-American and recipient of the Industry Dance Award’s 2016 role model award, has established herself as a major director and choreographer in the entertainment industry. Her credits include the staging and choreography for Jennifer Lopez’s world tour “Dance Again” and directing/choreographing of three of Gloria Estefan’s world concert tours and two world tours for Madonna. Imperio recently instigated a next level, career enhancement program called “Breaking Barriers.”

The program for GDC’s spring Harris engagement also includes works from GDC’s repertoire:

  • “Divided Against” (2016). Peter Chu explores the divergent forces within us in this full company work set to original music by Jean-François (Djeff) Houle;
  • “A Ritual Dynamic” (2008). Jon Lehrer’s signature work will be restaged by GDC Artistic Director Nan Giordano to feature all 16 GDC dancers;
  • “Sneaky Pete” (2015). Brock Clawson draws on his love of theater to create this deliciously intriguing work with a touch of film noir;
  • “The Man That Got Away” (1990). This witty “pas de deux for one” was created by former GDC and RNDC Artistic Director Emeritus Sherry Zunker, and gifted to GDC in 2007.

Giordano Dance Chicago presents its fall engagement at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Dr., Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15-$75. For tickets call 312.334.7777 or visit harristheaterchicago.org.

GDC dancers and board members join Artistic Director Nan Giordano, Executive Director Michael McStraw and guests for a Gala Celebration After Party to support GDC and its outreach programs at the The Jay Pritzker Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph Drive, immediately following the Saturday, April 1, 7:30 p.m. performance at the Harris Theater. “We will be taking this opportunity to recognize GDC dancer Maeghan McHale, named one of Dance Magazine’s ‘Top 25 to Watch’ in 2010, as she celebrates 10 years in the main company,” states Nan Giordano. Gala tickets include a VIP ticket to the April 1 performance. Price will be announced at a future date. For tickets or more information visit giordanodance.org or call 312.922.1332.

 

Four Start-Up Schools Serving High-Need Communities Awarded Charter Schools Program Grants

Posted by Admin On December - 29 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS


Grants part of $42 million federally funded effort to increase number of high-quality charter schools in Illinois and study their effects

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has awarded three nonprofit public charter school operators grants through the federally funded Charter Schools Program (CSP). The grants will total $2.1 million over two years and support start-up costs and curriculum materials at four schools in their initial years of operation.

 

ISBE administers the $42 million Charter Schools Program for the purpose of expanding the number of high-quality and educationally diverse charter schools in Illinois and evaluating the effects of charter schools on student academic achievement, staff, and parents.

 

ISBE awarded the first CSP grants to ASPIRA Business and Finance, LEARN Charter Network (for two schools), and Frazier Preparatory Academy, based on a thorough application process and three external reviews. Each awardee submitted detailed plans for involving families and community members in the design of the school, attracting underserved students and addressing their needs, recruiting and retaining diverse and high-quality staff, and implementing rigorous accountability mechanisms.

 

“Congratulations to ASPIRA Business and Finance, LEARN Charter Network, and Frazier Preparatory Academy,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “Our public schools must adapt to meet the evolving needs of students and families in a changing world. I thank all of the applicants and awardees of the Charter Schools Program grants for bringing creative thinking and innovative design to the table to expand opportunities for Illinois students. I encourage educators and administrators across the state to consider the potential of a new public charter school in their community and apply for the next round of CSP grants.”

The first three CSP awardees will use the grant funds to increase learning opportunities for students, provide professional development for teachers, and promote family engagement:

  • ASPIRA Business and Finance (ABF) – Committed to preparing students with the tools they need to succeed in postsecondary education, careers, and beyond. The business and entrepreneurship foci promote financial literacy, career preparation, and 21st-century readiness. ABF serves a student population that is more than 94 percent students of color, 96 percent eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and 90 percent future first-generation college students.
  • LEARN Charter Network campuses 7 and 8 Strives to provide children with the academic foundation and ambition to earn a college degree. As a steppingstone to LEARN 8 Middle School, LEARN 7 Elementary School serves students in kindergarten through grade 5 and provides scholars with a strong primary foundation to excel in high-quality, college prep high schools. LEARN 8 Middle School serves students in grades 6 through 8. LEARN Charter Network has developed a system of learning that ensures consistent and effective student-centered instruction.
  • Frazier Preparatory Academy Dedicated to providing parents in high-need communities with a high-quality public school option. Frazier Preparatory Academy’s educational program personalizes learning for all students by maximizing integration of exceptional classroom teaching with innovative blended learning technologies and enrichment opportunities.

 

ISBE plans to release the next Charter Schools Program Request for Proposals for both design and initial implementation grants in January 2017. 

Seven Kwanzaa Principles to Increase Organization Success

Posted by Admin On December - 29 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

New book by author and educator shares Kwanzaa Principles as a model for increasing organization success

Organization leadership expert, Jesse Sharpe, redefines Chapter success in his new book entitled, The Seven Principles of Chapter Success

 

Seven Principles of Chapters Success by Jesse Sharpe

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) – In his new book, Jesse Sharpe provides a comprehensive and important milestone in the merging of Nguzu Saba (N-goo-zoo Sah-ba) and the implementation of the seven Kwanzaa principles for not only contributing to the growth of a Chapter, but also for grounding it in both a functional and cultural perspective. The authors emphasis on membership respect and celebration of the person are major themes throughout the handbook and tie its significance with a one-of-a-kind holistic approach.

Until now, most books on Chapter Leadership focus solely on operational and strategic planning, marketing and PR, and membership recruitment and retention. Based on the seven principles of Kwanzaa, The Seven Principles of Chapter Success: Tapping the Power Within Your Organization is a comprehensive and important milestone in the merging of Nguzu Saba (N-goo-zoo Sah-ba) and the implementation of the seven Kwanzaa principles for not only contributing to the growth of a Chapter, but also for grounding it in both a functional and cultural perspective.

Stylish in format, articulate in expression, panoramic in scope, and provocative in discussion, the Handbooks principles (unity [Umoja], identity [Kujichagulia], collective work and responsibility [Ujima], cooperative economics [Ujamaa], purpose [Nia], creativity [Kuumba], and faith [Imani]) detail an incomparable, rich, African-centered perspective on value. Sharpes emphasis on Chapter member respect and an organizations celebration of the person is a major theme throughout and ties its significance with a one-of-a-kind holistic approach.

The book can be purchased online at Amazon.com and SharpeBooksOnline.com
Advanced Praise About the Book:

* Barbara Barros, Former Boston Public City Schools Administrator says, The Seven Principles of Chapter Success is the roadmap to starting your organization on the right foot. Of benefit to any organization, its plan leads you through the minefield of mistakes chapter leaders undoubtedly stumble and fall into.

* Marion Allen, Current Region XI Council President says, The cultural view and principle application of The Seven Principles of Chapter Success can be used as best practice by any professional organization looking to build successful professional development, advocacy, and training programs. The creative, yet effective application of Kwanzaa principles to teach process improvements makes this book unique.

* Patricia M. Coleman, President, SIETAR-USA says, The Seven Principles of Chapter Success is powerful, thoughtful, and resourceful. It is a step-by-step purposeful guide to engage, empower, and sustain membership. Jesse Sharpe has hit the nail in the head in reminding us that to value and to respect a workforce is the sure way to inspire and get their best performance to reach the bottom line goals.
About the Author:
Jesse Sharpe is graduate of Eckerd College. A parent, mentor, and former teacher, he makes his home in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and greatly enjoys writing poetry, specifically Haiku (hi-koo). He is the National 1st Vice President-elect of Blacks In Government (BIG), BIG Chapter President at the U.S. Department of Education, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Roots Public Charter School, located in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Bookcover and author, Jesse Sharpe

 

Family of Victims of Violence, Faith and Community Leaders to Hold Vigil at Mayor Emanuel’s House for 770 People Killed in Chicago This Year

Posted by Admin On December - 20 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Family of victims of violence, faith and community leaders will walk with candles and several coffins to house of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to hold vigil.

 

CHICAGO, IL – Family members of victims of violence and community and faith leaders from across the city will gather at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house to hold a vigil for the 770 people killed in Chicago this year, and the policies that Mayor Rahm Emmanuel killed which could have saved them. Community leaders will carry coffins for policies which Mayor Emmanuel is responsible for: refusing to rebuild public housing, cutting school budgets, closing mental health clinics, and refusing elected civilian oversight of the police. Community leaders argue that these policies could have saved many of the over 770 people killed in Chicago this year. The group will gather at the American Indian Center 1630 W. Wilson Ave for a brief program and then march to the Mayor’s house holding candles and coffins.

 

The vigil will be held Wednesday, December 21, 4-6p.m., starting at 1630 W Wilson Ave., then on to Mayor Emanuel’s house.

 

According to activists “much of the news of the violence in Chicago this year has focused on sensationalizing gun violence and criminalizing young people, instead of focusing on the root causes of this violence: the lack of investments in housing, mental health, education and holding police accountable.” Community leaders say that “Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has committed violence against our communities: covering up the shooting of Laquan McDonald is violence, closing the Roseland Mental Health Clinic is violence, cutting the budgets of our neighborhood schools is violence, and refusing to rebuild public housing is violence. This violence by the Mayor is causing much of the violence we see in our streets. Its time he be held accountable.” Leaders are holding a vigil to mourn the loss of those killed and demand the Mayor invest in policies that can prevent future killings.

 

The organizations holding the vigil include the Chicago Housing Initiative, the Civilian Police Accountability Council, Black Lives Matter Chicago, the Mental Health Movement, and teachers from Chicago Public Schools.

 

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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