May , 2018

Celebrity Designer Robert Rodriguez to present Holiday and 2014 Resort Collection October 1-5, ...
  (From the Better Business Bureau)     CHICAGO, IL - Being vigilant against fraud is not only important ...
“Black America’s largest prostate cancer education and awareness event” Nationwide (BlackNews.com) – ...
BALTIMORE, MD – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and its ...
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) released a statement after meeting with families ...
action alert! More than 17 million people in Europe, China and the United States are ...
(From the NAACP press) The U.S. Department of Education in conjunction with the U.S. Department of ...
Illinois, Connecticut Lead Investigation into Massive Security Breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus CHICAGO, ...
23rd Annual C.F. Stradford awards ceremony honors a judge and radio executive    In recognition of ...
Chicago, IL – Reform Alderman Scott Waguespack became the latest in a series of progressive leaders ...

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

New Report on Youth Joblessness Highlights Statewide Crisis for Employers

Posted by Admin On May - 15 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

ILLINOIS – With a well-documented story of critical labor shortages across the country and especially in the Midwest, a new report focuses on the tens of thousands of young people in Illinois, not just young Black and Hispanic males in the state’s inner cities metropolitan areas, but also white youths in the state’s rural western and southern areas, who are out of school and out of work, and who, with an adequate investment of public funds, have the potential to fill those vacant positions.


The report, Industrial Restructuring and the Continuing Impact on Youth Employment in Illinois, which breaks down in detail out-of-work and out-of-school and out-of-work numbers for Illinois young people ages 16-24, was released at a May 14 news conference. Researched and written by the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago (GCI), it is the latest in a series of studies commissioned by the Alternative Schools Network (ASN) and the first to drill down into the situation young people, not just those in metropolitan Chicago but across the state, are experiencing as they search for ways to support themselves.

“The data in this study cries out for stronger federal investments in job training and economic development for youth in our state and across the country,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, in an e-mailed statement. “The best anti-poverty, anti-crime, anti-violence program is a job. I applaud the Alternative Schools Network for their work on this critical issue, and I look forward to working with them to create more opportunities for young people to climb the economic ladder.”

The report finds the tragic and continuing repression of African-American communities that leaves young black males worse off than all of their contemporaries, even though their employment situation in Chicago and Cook County has improved in the last couple of years. And, as roiling policy debates over immigration occur, the situation for Chicago’s young Hispanic or Latino youths, especially females, has gotten worse.

But critically high out-of-school-and-out-of-work rates for whites in downstate cities and rural areas show that the employment crisis is not limited to Chicago and Cook County. St. Clair County had the highest percent of out of school and out of work 16 to 19-year olds with 10.5 percent. The highest out of school and out of work rate for 20 to 24-year olds, 25.1 percent, was in a sub-section of Illinois that comprised Alexander, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Johnson, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, Wabash, White, and Williamson counties.

“We have not had a comprehensive youth employment program at the federal level in nearly two decades,” said U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-IL-7. “With the economy booming and employers looking for more workers than they can find, now is the time to bring those programs back. It would be a key piece of the anti-violence puzzle in our communities and it would help the economy grow.”

“Although racial disparities continue to be a profound factor, it is also the case that white residents of mid-size cities and rural areas in part of Illinois are severely affected,” the report’s authors say in the conclusion section. “Give the trends that we have described, we are likely to see exacerbated inequality and disparities in wealth, along with the associated social ills, that will extend far into the future if there are not interventions that reverse the trends.”

This study updates figures for Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, and the U.S on numbers and percentages of 16-24 year-olds who are out of work; out of school and out of work; and out of school and out of work with no high school diploma. It examines out of work; and out of school and out of work figures in subsections of Illinois made up of single counties or groups of counties.

“As I look at the report’s data, I can see that we are moving forward in the city of Chicago as we continue to recover from the Great Recession,” U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-IL-1. “But we are moving at a snail’s pace and the progress is uneven. I know the private sector can do more, and it’s time for them to step up. But we can’t just sit back and wait for businesses to act. Government at every level must play a role.”

The report also examines as case studies four Illinois counties – Peoria, Tazewell, Kankakee, and Sangamon – with data that shows economic transformations in the industrial composition of these counties since 1980, young people’s position in the economy and the growing poverty of these areas.
Major findings in the report include:

  • Highest Jobless Rates Outside of Chicago: The highest jobless rates for 20-24 year olds in Illinois were located outside of the Chicago Metro Area in South (43 percent out of work 2012-2016), West (38 percent), and Central (44.6 percent) Illinois.
  • Blacks Improve While Latinos Decline: There were improvements from 2014 to 2016 in out of school and out of work rates for Black 20-24 year olds in Chicago and worsening figures for Latinos. 
  • Case Study Counties Demonstrate Decline: The percentage of 16-19 year olds who have jobs in Illinois-case-study counties with mid-sized cities have decreased substantially since 1980.
  • Adults Replacing Youth in Retail Jobs: The mix of jobs in rural economies has changed in similar ways to Chicago, resulting in fewer opportunities for young people as older populations are increasingly employed in industries that young people have historically been employed in such as retail.
  • Shrinking Middle-Class: Proportions of individuals in poverty and in high-income groups in the case-study counties are growing as middle-income groups are shrinking.

“We have a golden opportunity to make an investment in our state’s young people that will pay for itself many times over,” said Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-7. “We know what works – programs that give them work experiences, while they complete their high school diploma, so they become entry-level-employment ready as they prepare for putting themselves through college or trade schools.”

The study showed that in Chicago, Hispanic or Latino 20-24 year-olds lost ground from 2015, when 33.2 percent were out of school and out of work, to 2016, when that number went up to 34.9 percent.

“Our Latina youths are moving backwards, through no fault of their own,” said Alma Anaya, Democratic candidate for Cook County Commissioner. “State and federal governments must intervene. The county does not have the resources needed to address this problem by itself.”

Though the study focuses on Illinois youth, the results have national implications because of Illinois’ demographic makeup.

“Illinois looks a great deal like the country in terms of the proportion of residents who are Black, White and Hispanic in the 16-to-24-year-old and the overall population,” ASN Executive Director Jack Wuest noted. “Also, Illinois has a very large city and other relatively large cities and a large metropolitan area and large rural white areas, which is reflective of the country in many ways.”

That makes the report’s findings exemplative of the growing crisis across the nation.

“This is not just a tale of two cities but a tale of two states and really of two countries,” Wuest argued. “There are two distinct populations living in one space — the haves and have nots: Those who are privileged and those who are not. Those who get resources, social capital, education, a roof over their heads and a vision for their future… and those left behind. While the nation experiences a growing employment crisis as a result of anti-immigration policies and technological transformations that require a more skilled labor force, we are left with emerging youth from 16 – 24 years of age who could help meet this crisis if they were given the proper social and educational tools. But instead there is a dearth of civil society resources or public funding being set aside to prepare them for ending the growing labor shortages.

“We know about the dire circumstances Black and Hispanic youths are in. But we are finding out that if you are white anywhere else in the state other than Cook and its surrounding counties, you are in decline and have neither the education for jobs where you live or the education or resources for social mobility to get a job.”

In related developments, the State Task Force on Developing Opportunities for Youth and Young Adults Who Are Jobless and Out of School, is holding a series of Youth Employment Hearings titled, Help Build the Economy, Help Strengthen Our Youth and Communities, Prepare, Educate and Employ Out-of-School and Jobless Youth.

The first will be held at 9:30 a.m. to noon, May 14, at Southwestern Illinois College, Sam Wolf Granite City Campus, 4950 Maryville Rd., Granite City and will focus on data from Madison and St. Clair counties.

That will be followed by at least two added hearings, the first is tentatively set for June 14 or 15 in Mt. Vernon, and the next for June 25 in south-suburban Chicago.

The Alternative Schools Network (ASN) is a not-for-profit organization in Chicago working to provide quality education with a specific emphasis on inner-city children, youth and adults. Since 1973, ASN has been supporting community based and community-run programs to develop and expand training and other educational services in Chicago’s inner-city neighborhoods. In addition to supporting direct services, ASN has been a consistent and effective advocate for community-based services whereby the people involved are active participants in developing and running programs – not passive recipients of services. To shape policies and programs, ASN has built an impressive track record of operating successful education, employment and support service programs. For more information please visit www.asnchicago.org.

UIC Great Cities Institute is to link its academic resources with a range of partners to address urban issues by providing research, policy analysis and program development. Tied to the University of Illinois at Chicago Great Cities Commitment, GCI seeks to improve quality of life in Chicago, its metropolitan region and cities throughout the world. https://greatcities.uic.edu

For a complete copy of the report: www.asnchicago.org/May2018-Press-Conference


PHONE: 773.704.7246
EMAIL: lrglenn@thinkincstrategy.com

Women, Advocates Speak on Equal Rights Amendment at Illinois House Committee Hearing

Posted by Admin On May - 15 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – The 46 year fight to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) persisted in the Illinois House of Representatives at a committee hearing today, where advocates shared their stories and explained why it is necessary to have the amendment in the US Constitution.

“In 1972, like many others my age, my two daughters and I traveled to Washington D.C. to let our legislators know that we wanted the constitution to protect us all, regardless of our sex,” said Nan Parson, a Park Ridge resident who cofounded the community organization Action Ridge last year to advocate for the ERA. “I was terribly disappointed and ashamed when my own state refused to ratify the ERA because of scare tactics used by opponents to convince women that they should stay locked in the past, and that’s why I’m urging Governor Rauner to talk to Republicans in the House and urge them to do the right thing and vote for the ERA now.”

Currently, 36 state legislatures have approved the Equal Rights Amendment out of the 38 necessary to reach a three-fifths majority, as required by the United States Constitution. Although the push to ratify the ERA fell three states short by the deadline in 1982, extended from the original time limit in 1979, there is legal precedent indicating that it’s within the power of Congress to remove this constraint should two more states approve the ERA.

“It was never shocking to the women I’ve worked with as a real estate finance lawyer that they were being paid less than their male counterparts. However, when these women realized that this wage discrimination impacted not only their salaries but the earnings of the women and men whom they supervised, it was a wake-up call that something had to change – unfair treatment creates a ripple effect that extends far beyond you,” said Laura Carroll DeBolt, a Tinley Park resident. “I talk to my fifteen year old stepdaughter about this so she understands the challenges she’s up against. We’re passing on enough burdens to our children already, and that’s why I’m calling on my own state Rep. Margo McDermed to vote for the ERA and give them one less fight to continue.”

“As a woman of faith and a Catholic Christian, I believe all people were created in the image of God, worthy of respect and dignity” said Sister Bernadine Karge, a Chicago resident and immigration lawyer. “The history of our laws show how women have been excluded from recognition and full participation in American society. The implications can still be seen today in income inequality due to wage discrimination, hiring practices that prevent women from opportunities to flourish, and a culture that is built on domination of women, rather than cooperation between women and men to seek the common good.  I am asking you, lawmakers of our state and Bruce Rauner, the Governor: Do what you can to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.”

NAACP Joins Florida State Conference in Denouncing Univ. of Florida “Aggressive” Behavior Toward Black Graduates During Commencement

Posted by Admin On May - 10 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS
BALTIMORE — The NAACP, the nation’s foremost civil rights organization issued the following statement regarding the aggressive behavior shown toward Black graduates during a commencement ceremony in Gainesville, Florida:

“Our nation’s move toward increasing intolerance cannot be separated from the hate and rhetoric emerging from the White House. It’s unacceptable that the simple idea of being Black can trigger explicit and implicit bias which generates such aggressive responses toward Black people,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “The fact that paying respect to their sororities and fraternities through ‘strolling,’ generates fear even on a college campus, means that any institution receiving public funding must ensure that all employees get tested for and receive training in implicit bias.”

According to an ABC News report at least 21 graduates were approached in a physically aggressive way and some were pushed off the stage while engaging in a cultural expression that dates back to some of the nation’s earliest Black sororities and fraternities.

“Graduation for us has always been a celebration and let’s be clear; this celebration belongs to the students. Every alumni, Greek or not, is probably disgusted at how the Univ. of Florida literally handled the students,” said NAACP Youth and College Director Tiffany Dena Loftin. “We are already over policed in the streets and in our community; the one place we should be left alone is on stage as we celebrate completing college.”

According to the FBI, hate crimes in Florida increased by 33 percent last year.  On a national scale, many advocates see what’s happening locally as part of an overall national push towards hate and intolerance. “Our schools and colleges, not just in Florida but around the nation, must be safe and inclusive places for all students and schools are obligated to stem intolerance,” said NAACP Gainesville Branch President Evelyn Foxx. “Unfortunately University of Florida failed to realize this until after the fact.

The NAACP Florida State Conference supports implicit bias testing and training for state university system employees as part of larger solutions for eliminating racism and bias on campuses.  “An apology from the University is not enough,” said Adora Nweze, NAACP Florida State Conference President. “We’re demanding that the university and the university system here in Florida enact implicit bias testing and training for all employees –it’s not the complete solution but a good start,” she added.

In yesterday’s USA Today President Johnson made the call for greater implicit bias testing and training for elected officials, corporate employees and those who deal with the public.

Alderman Harris Did it Again!: A Basic Show of Disrespect for 8th Ward Residents

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On May - 10 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Alderman Harris Blowing Smoke in the 8th WardBy Dr. Juanita Bratcher

Author, Editor & Publisher, CopyLine Magazine

Alderman Michelle Harris rubbed 8th Ward residents the wrong way yesterday at a Zoning Board hearing, and her actions could cost her in the next Aldermanic Election. Many 8th Ward residents at the hearing complained that she is not a “good caretaker” for the ward and vowed to defeat her in the next election.

Harris got the wrath of 8th Ward residents at a Zoning Board hearing at City Hall yesterday when she told Zoning Board members to put 8th Ward residents last on the agenda to speak and air their grievances about a 134 Unit, 7 Story building coming into the community which most of the residents are totally against. Yet, Harris said she has a lot of support from people who live in the ward to bring in the housing project. That is not likely and not an accurate assessment.

In case you don’t know or have not attended a Zoning Board meeting, people from all across the city in various wards bring their grievances to the Zoning Board. There are plenty of people there at these hearings. So with 8th Ward residents being at the end of the agenda, they had to wait a long period of time before they could be heard. Many felt the alderman was deliberately inconveniencing them because they were at the hearing to state their opposition to the housing project.

It reminded many of them who have been very active in trying to keep the housing project out of Pill Hill and Calumet Heights of her having six SUV police squad cars out on the street in front of her ward office to try and intimidate them with police presence during a press conference in front of her ward office at 8539 S. Cottage Grove Ave. But even that didn’t work, no one had come to the press conference to cause violence. And her actions were seen as an abuse of power and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Harris and her staff told residents that they had a survey poll taken of 8th Ward residents about the housing project but it is yet to be seen. At the Zoning Board hearing yesterday she told Marcel Bright that he could get the survey (he had tried many times before), that they would gladly give it to him. When requesting it after the hearing, he was told that he would have to file a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) to get it. There is no need for him to do that. That is to inconvenience him to get it.

Many 8th Ward residents say enough is enough. They were instrumental in keeping a medical marijuana facility and pawnshop out of the ward that the alderman supported.

Additionally, they point to statistics from the last Aldermanic Election in 2015 where Harris only won by 9, 167 votes. Her two opponents, Faheem Shabazz received 2, 113 votes and Tara Baldridge received 2,096. The total of votes for all three candidates was 13, 376. Also at the time of that election, Harris had been alderman for about 9 years. She was the incumbent. There were 38,412 voters in the 8th Ward in 2015, and as the incumbent alderman she did not receive that many votes.

Presently, there are less registered voters in the ward than in 2015. As of today, according to the Board of Elections Commission, there are only 35,726 registered voters in the 8th Ward. However, Harris will have a tough row to hoe in the next Aldermanic Election. The word circulating through the 8th Ward is “we want her out.”


Another Man Sues Former Chicago Cop Guevara & City After Being Wrongfully Imprisoned For Almost 20 Years

Posted by Admin On May - 10 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Ariel Gomez was 17 years old when he was beaten and framed By Chicago Det. Reynaldo Guevara & colleagues

CHICAGO, ILAriel Gomez was a 17-year-old with no criminal record when he was beaten by notorious Chicago police officer Reynaldo Guevara and framed for a murder he did not commit. The shooting death for which Mr. Gomez was wrongly convicted occurred during celebrations after the Bulls’ fifth NBA championship in June 1997.

Ariel Gomez is one of 18 Chicagoans who were wrongly convicted by disgraced Chicago Police officer Reynaldo Guevara and the crew of Area 5 detectives he worked with. Gomez has filed a lawsuit describing gross police misconduct in his case, as well as systemic problems within the Chicago Police Department that allowed crooked cops to operate with impunity.

In the wake of last week’s news of the 18th Guevara victim’s conviction being tossed, and the filing of a civil suit by another Guevara victim, Gomez and his lawyers are calling again for an immediate criminal investigation into Detective Guevara, who has stolen 100s of years from these young Chicago men, tormenting their families and communities.


“Make no mistake: Detective Guevara chose to frame an innocent man and let a real killer go free. This lawsuit explains that witnesses came forward to say that Mr. Gomez did not commit the murder, and that they could identify the real killer,” said Jon Loevy of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, one of Gomez’s lawyers. “Rather than pursue these important leads that might have gotten the victim’s family some semblance of justice, Detective Guevara and his Area 5 crew chose to frame a 17-year old boy.”

“Yet again, a young man has lost his formative years to a frame-up. For the officers and the department that did this, over and over again, there has been no reckoning. The time is now for a criminal investigation into Detective Guevara.”

When questioned recently about their misconduct, including when asked about beating and framing Mr. Gomez, Detective Guevara and a number of his former Chicago police colleagues have repeatedly invoked their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves by giving truthful answers.

In addition to Mr. Loevy, Mr. Gomez is represented by Loevy & Loevy attorneys Anand Swaminathan and Steve Art. Copies of Mr. Gomez’s suit, Ariel Gomez v. Reynaldo Guevara, et al., No. 1:18-cv-03335, can be found here.

Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms, and over the past decade has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country.

Governor Rauner Announces Public Infrastructure Grant Recipients

Posted by Admin On May - 10 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS


36 communities across 29 Illinois counties receive public infrastructure funds


SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced the recipients of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Public Infrastructure. Thirty-six communities across the state will receive federal funds totaling $14.5 million.

“Public infrastructure is important not only for the day-to-day function of Illinoisans, but to bolster growth and economic development within a community,” said Governor Rauner. “These grant dollars will be used for projects such as water, sanitary and sewer system improvements that will greatly support our low-income communities and attract more opportunities for residents.”

CDBG recipients:

Alexander County

Village of Thebes – $208,650 – Water treatment plant improvements

Bond County

Village of Sorento – $500,000 – Construction of new elevated water storage tank

Bureau County

Village of DePue – $288,104 – Replace the current Princeton Street booster station

City of Princeton – $500,000 – Sanitary sewer line replacement

Christian County

Village of Morrisonville – $500,000 – Sanitary sewer improvements

Village of Mount Auburn – $500,000 – Proposed water system improvements

Coles County

Village of Ashmore – $500,000 – Water distribution improvements

Cumberland County

Village of Greenup – $170,000 – New water main distribution and appurtenances

Cottonwood Township – $500,000 – Water distribution improvements

Edgar County

Hunter Township – $185,000 – Water distribution improvements

Effingham County

Village of Watson – $103,425 – Sanitary sewer improvements

Watson Township – $500,000 – Water distribution improvements

City of Effingham – $500,000 – Water distribution improvements

Fayette County

City of St. Elmo – $500,000 – Water distribution improvements

Village of Ramsey – $500,000 – Sanitary sewer improvements

Fayette County – $500,000 – New water main distribution and appurtenances

Franklin County

Village of Royalton – $500,000 – Improvements to existing sewage treatment plant

Hancock County

City of LaHarpe – $500,000 – Water distribution improvements

Iroquois County

Village of Loda – $500,000 – Construction of new elevated water storage tank

Jasper County

Village of Willow Hill – $144,900 – Replace a lift station and upgrade sewer lagoon

Jo Daviess County

Village of Stockton – $453,700 – Water distribution improvements

Knox County

City of Abingdon- $500,000 – Sanitary sewer improvements

LaSalle County

City of LaSalle – $500,000 – Separate storm sewer flows

Lawrence County

City of Bridgeport – $500,000 – Sanitary sewer improvements

Macon County

Village of Niantic – $500,000 – Water distribution improvements

Massac County

Massac County – $199,890 – New water lines to the Southland Subdivision

Mercer County

Village of Joy – $500,000 – Construction of new elevated water storage tank

Montgomery County

Audubon Township – $500,000 – Water distribution improvements

Morgan County

Village of Chapin – $483,600 – Replace existing wastewater lagoon aeration system

Putman County

Village of Standard – $81,500 – New storm water pumping station

Shelby County

Clarksburg Township – $500,000 – Water distribution improvements

Warren County

City of Monmouth – $500,000 – Water distribution improvements

Wayne County

Big Mound Township – $111,018 – Install new rural waterlines and connect homes

White County

City of Carmi – $90,387 – New lift station, and replacement of sewer line

Williamson County

City of Carterville – $500,000 – Water system improvements

Winnebago County

Village of Durand – $500,000 – Potable water well improvements

The CDBG program was established by the federal Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (Act).  Administered nationally by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), DCEO administers the State of Illinois CDBG – Small Cities Program.  State-administered funds are only available to units of general local government (i.e., cities, villages, townships and counties). Municipalities must be 50,000 or less in population and must not be located in an urban county that receives entitlement program funds (there are 42 entitlement communities in Illinois that receive their own allocation of CDBG funds).

State Rep. Welch Bill Would End Workplace Discrimination in Illinois

Posted by Admin On May - 10 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS


HILLSIDE, Ill. – State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, is standing with employees across Illinois to protect them against workplace discrimination.

“Discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sex and so much more can still impact employees across our state,” said Welch. “This is completely wrong and unjust, and passing this legislation expands protections for all employees now.”

Under Welch’s House Bill 4572, the Illinois Human Rights Act’s prohibitions against workplace discrimination would be extended to employees who work for a business that employs 15 or fewer workers. Currently, these discriminatory practices could be used against people seeking employment at smaller businesses, unless the bill becomes law. Some Illinois municipalities have completely outlawed all forms of discrimination in the workplace, and Welch is seeking to expand the protections statewide.

“No one should have to suffer from cowardly discriminatory practices that some employers still use today. It’s just wrong in this day and age,” said Welch. “Whoever you are does not determine what job you can do, so that should no longer be used against anyone unless in absolute extreme cases when there is a legitimate reason.”

State Fire Marshal Honors Fallen Firefighters

Posted by Admin On May - 10 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS


Firefighters gather for 25th Annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighting Medal of Honor Awards


SPRINGFIELD, IL – Firefighters from across the state gathered in Springfield to remember fallen firefighters who have given their lives in the line of duty.

Firefighters John “Mike” Cummins of the Homer Fire Protection District and Lawrence Matthews from the Village of Dolton Fire Department were honored for their heroic sacrifice during the 25th Annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighting Medal of Honor Awards Ceremony. Their families were presented with the Duty Death Gold Badge by Fire Marshal Matt Perez.

“Our firefighters face great danger with courage and bravery each time they enter a burning building,” said Fire Marshal Matt Perez. “Today, we remember those we have lost and honor firefighters for their heroism and sacrifice to keep our communities safe.”

Two firefighters were also presented with The Medal of Honor award during the ceremony. It’s the highest award given to firefighters by the state of Illinois. Lieutenant Eric Schrage, from the Collinsville Fire Department and Paramedic Todd Zobrist, from the Highland Fire Department/EMS were selected for demonstrating selflessness and personal courage above and beyond the call of duty.

• Lieutenant Eric Schrage, Collinsville Fire Department
• Paramedic Todd Zobrist, Highland Fire/EMS

Nine firefighters were honored with the Medal of Valor award. It is given by the state of Illinois to a firefighter for an act of heroism or bravery that clearly demonstrated courage and dedication in the face of danger while in the performance of duty. Recipients include:

• Captain Daniel Whiteside, Alton Fire Department
• Firefighter Aaron Pihl, Belvidere Fire Department
• Lieutenant Shawn Schadle, Belvidere Fire Department
• Firefighter Jeff Vaughan, Belvidere Fire Department
• Firefighter Eric Claudio, Chicago Fire Department
• Lieutenant/EMT John O’Brien, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Andrew Hoff, Downers Grove Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Scott Sohn, Downers Grove Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Quinn Triplett, Downers Grove Fire Department

Fourteen firefighters received the Firefighter Excellence Award for an act of service in the line of duty, demonstrating excellence and professionalism in service to the citizens of the state of Illinois.  Recipients include:

• Firefighter Mark Beck, Belvidere Fire Department
• Firefighter James Kriebs, Belvidere Fire Department
• Firefighter Jason Swanson, Belvidere Fire Department
• Firefighter Nicolas Thornton, Belvidere Fire Department
• Captain Mark Zumbragel, Belvidere Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Michael Covelli, Downers Grove Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Kevin Schrader, Downers Grove Fire Department
• Paramedic Ty Barr, Highland Fire/EMS
• Firefighter Ben Bentley, Peru Fire Department
• Firefighter Alex Duncan, Peru Fire Department
• Lieutenant Neil Nadolski, Peru Fire Department
• Engineer Kris Ayers, Wood River Fire Department
• Engineer Bill Hall, Wood River Fire Department
• Firefighter Jamie Wells, Wood River Fire Department

In addition, six units received the Firefighter Excellence “Teamwork Unit Citation” Awards for an act of service in the line of duty, demonstrating excellence, teamwork, and professionalism in service to the citizens of the state of Illinois. Recipients include:

Blue Island Fire Department

• Firefighter John Duffy
• Lieutenant Joseph Olson
• Firefighter Joseph Pinnick
• Firefighter Matthew Sutkus

Broadview Fire Department

• Firefighter David Cohen
• Firefighter Chris Mazurkiewicz
• Firefighter Brian Sullivan
• Captain Ned Thoma

Chicago Heights Fire Department

• Lieutenant Eric Einert
• Firefighter/Paramedic Michael Marshall
• Firefighter/Paramedic Raymond Peterlin

North Chicago Fire Department

• Lieutenant James Axtt
• Firefighter Marc Harman
• Firefighter/Engineer Brian Henderson
• Firefighter Reid Mammoser
• Firefighter Carlos Perez

Orland Fire Protection District

• Lieutenant Scott Olinski
• Firefighter Jason Postma
• Firefighter Robert Proctor
• Firefighter Tim Sierazy
• Engineer Robert Walsh

Pana Fire Department

• Lieutenant Kyle Anderson
• Firefighter Corey Bland
• Chief Rodney Bland
• Firefighter Brian Carlson
• Firefighter Kevin Christer
• Firefighter Tim Christer
• Firefighter Adam Cloe
• Firefighter Troy Cloe
• Firefighter Joe Ellenberg
• Firefighter Mike Foster
• Firefighter Rickie Ginger
• Firefighter Blake Hadley
• Firefighter James Hicks
• Captain Wesley Horton
• Firefighter Jay Kaiser
• Firefighter Kenny Kaiser
• Firefighter Andy Macari
• Firefighter Matthew Mahnke
• Assistant Chief Roger Moss
• Firefighter Mike Owens
• Firefighter Heath Simpson
• Firefighter Tyler Sims
• Firefighter Nathan Smith
• Firefighter Daniel Tallman
• Firefighter Kirk Weddle

One firefighter received the Certificate of Recognition which acknowledges those nominated for their dedication to the principles and traditions of the fire service, to the state and the community, with honor and integrity.

• Firefighter/Paramedic Mark Buettner, Bolingbrook Fire Department

The awards presented today recognized heroic actions during 2017.  Nominations were reviewed and awardees selected by the Illinois Fire Fighting Medal of Honor Committee.

House Panel to Examine Why Judge Who Returned Child to an Abusive Home Was Tapped to Join Gov. Rauner’s DCFS

Posted by Admin On May - 3 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – The House Human Services Committee will examine why a former judge whose reckless decisions resulted in an abused child’s death is now filling a key position in the Rauner administration’s child welfare agency. The committee will hear testimony from advocates and agency officials on Thursday at 2:30 p.m., in the sixth floor committee room of the Bilandic Building in Chicago.

Recent reporting in the Belleville News-Democrat revealed how Laninya Cason, then a St. Clair County judge, had returned an abused 3-year-old boy to the custody of his mother and stepfather, despite the objection of the child’s court-appointed guardians. In February 2014, the child was found beaten and murdered by his stepfather. Even after returning this child to a life-threatening situation, Cason was selected by the Rauner administration in 2015 to fill an $86,000 per year supervisory position within the Department of Children and Family Services.

“It is very disturbing that Governor Rauner has chosen to put our children’s safety in the hands of someone whose poor judgment has resulted in such a tragedy,” Gabel said. “I am holding this hearing to give all involved parties a chance to tell their story so we may figure out how this was allowed to happen.”

Who: House Human Services CommitteeWhat: Hearing on Gov. Rauner’s appointment of Laninya CasonWhen: Thursday, May 3 2:30 p.m. Where: Michael A. Bilandic Building 160 North LaSalle Street 6th Floor, Room C-600 Chicago


Ald. Moore Urges Chicagoans to Oppose the Closure of Belmont and Western Courthouse

Posted by Admin On May - 3 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

From: Ald. Joe Moore

Alderman of the 49th Ward


I urge you to join me in opposition to the planned closure of the branch courthouse, located at 2452 W. Belmont (at Western).

The courtrooms at the Belmont and Western courthouse hear preliminary felony and misdemeanor cases for Chicago’s north side neighborhoods, including Rogers Park. Under the proposal, most of the cases heard at Belmont and Western would be shifted to the courthouse at Harrison and Kedzie and a few might be heard at the Skokie courthouse on Old Orchard Road.

To learn how you can help me in opposing this misguided plan, scroll to the bottom of this email.

Closing the Belmont and Western courthouse will impede our efforts to reduce crime

If adopted, this proposal would require victims, defendants, witnesses, and law enforcement officers in Rogers Park to travel greater distances for each case, resulting in increases in time, money and inconvenience for all involved and impeding our ability to fight crime and keep our neighborhood safe.

Successful prosecution of criminal cases requires the crime victims and witnesses to appear in court. It is often difficult under the best of circumstances to convince victims and witnesses to appear in court to testify. Time from away from work and fear of retaliation already serve as major impediments. Extending the time and distance it takes victims and witnesses to travel to court would add yet another impediment to securing their essential appearance in court cases.

Similarly, closing the courthouse also would discourage participation in our court advocacy efforts in which community residents volunteer to attend court hearings to advocate for victims of crime and ensure they and their cases get the attention they deserve from the assistant state’s attorneys and judges.

In just the last few months, my office organized community residents to attend court cases at Belmont and Western for a defendant accused of exposing himself to women and a defendant accused of stealing packages delivered to homes. In both cases, the presence of community residents in the courtroom ensured the cases were fully prosecuted and the defendants received the mental health and drug treatment services they needed.

Those efforts will be far more difficult to organize if our local courthouse is closed and volunteer court advocates are forced to travel greater distances to attend hearings in courthouses much further from their home.

Finally, closing the Belmont and Western courthouse also would require our 24th District police officers to travel a greater distance to attend court hearings, resulting in less officer time on the streets and more overtime costs to the City.

In short, this proposal strips away a vital crime-fighting resource for Rogers Park.

Why is the Belmont and Western courthouse slated to be closed?

The proposed closure is the result of a budget settlement between Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Chief Circuit Court Judge Timothy Evans.

Chief Judge Evans was forced to cut costs after the Cook County Board last year voted to repeal the so-called “pop tax” and failed to come up with an alternative revenue source.

Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, who represents most of Rogers Park, was one of a very few courageous commissioners to vote against the repeal, warning of the dire consequences that would result from the County Board’s act of fiscal irresponsibility. Unfortunately, his warnings are coming to pass, as county residents face harmful cuts to health care, social services and public safety due to the budget cuts.

As part of the effort to close the $200 million budget gap, the County Board approved a plan that called for Chief Judge Evans to lay off more than 155 workers. The chief judge challenged the plan in court on the grounds that the board could not tell him how to spend money given to the office he controls..

In December, a Lake County circuit court judge agreed with Chief Judge Evans in a ruling that put the layoffs on hold. The court decision sent President Preckwinkle and Chief Judge Evans to the bargaining table, resulting in a proposed settlement that calls for the closure of two branch courts–Belmont and Western and 155 W. 51st Street.

Here’s how you can help

President Preckwinkle and Chief Judge Evans are the principal actors in the decision to close the court at Belmont and Western. Ordinarily the County Board would have final approval over an agreement of this sort, but I am told a technicality in that rule may enable the president and the chief judge to bypass the board.

Please join me in calling upon President Preckwinkle and Chief Judge Evans to find a funding alternative to keep the branch court at Belmont and Western open. Contact them at the phone numbers and email addresses below:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle
(312) 603-6400

Chief Judge Timothy Evans
(312) 603-6000


Joe Moore

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