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  Chicago, IL - The Goodman Theatre announced that Governor Pat Quinn has appointed Resident Artistic Associate ...

Archive for the ‘The Editor’s Desk’ Category

A Breach of Public Trust in the Handling of Laquan McDonald’s Death?

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On November - 30 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Justice Not Served, Justice was Delayed, Justice was Denied – A Federal Investigation is in order; it is APPROPRIATE and NECESSARY to ferret-out the overall circumstances involving Laquan McDonald’s death. There are just too many questionable aspects regarding this case.

 

By Juanita Bratcher

 

No use sugar-coating it, it’s time to call a spade a spade – there are too many questionable aspects regarding the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, and Chicagoans, especially Black Chicagoans, have lost confidence in many of those who are/were involved in the Laquan McDonald investigation, and are demanding that they resign or be fired.

 

 

Politicians, ministers, and community leaders are defiantly calling for the jobs of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and anyone who engaged in misconduct or in a cover-up in regards to the investigation of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald’s death.

 
They’re also calling for a special prosecutor and a federal investigation into the “execution” of McDonald at the hands of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who pumped 16 bullets in the body of the deceased.

 

 

And if any elected or public officials were involved in a cover-up – which many seem to think – they should be exposed and held accountable. The public is entitled to know the overall circumstances involving this case and should not be kept in the dark about what really happened.

 
Officer Jason Van Dyke killed McDonald on October 20, 2014, yet the city kept the video under wrap for more than a year, and only released it after a judge issued a court order that the video recording be made public. The court order was a welcome change for many Chicagoans inasmuch as city officials had argued for months that it should only be made public after the conclusion of ongoing investigations.

 
A day before the Judge’s court order date to release the video, which is significantly void of audio, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez held a press conference and announced a charge of first-degree murder against Van Dyke, after having sat on a decision for months. According to her reasoning, investigations into police shootings and misconduct are “massive and labor intensive.” She also said she acted in regards to Mayor Emanuel’s plea that it was in the best interest of the investigation to keep the video away from the public eye.

 

Although Van Dyke’s attorney Daniel Herbert’s comments were shortcoming at best, at one point he commented that the officer feared for his life and acted lawfully during the incident.

 
Feared for his life? When eight other police officers were present and reportedly none fired a gun but Van Dyke?

 

Reports stated that McDonald was down after the first two shots but Van Dyke kept shooting.

 
However, the video showed McDonald walking away from Van Dyke.

 
In court, prosecutors said the shooting happened within 15 seconds, and pointed out that McDonald was already on the ground in 13 of those seconds.

 
What were the other police officers doing or thinking while watching Van Dyke on his shooting spree?

 
After killing McDonald, Van Dyke was assigned to desk duty (police said that’s standard procedure) and continued to collect a salary, even though he had been stripped of his police powers.

 
When the video was released, it showed a different version than what police had first said about the incident. Police reported that McDonald lunged at the officer with a knife, that it was self-defense.

 
In a statement released by the National Bar Association, Benjamin Crump, president of the NBA, said “It is unacceptable that it took over a year to file these charges against Officer Van Dyke. Not only did it take a year to file these charges, but Van Dyke was able to continue in the capacity of a police officer during this delayed investigation.”

 
Crump said the video that State’s Attorney Alvarez relied on to charge Officer Van Dyke with first-degree murder has been available since day one, asking, “Why did it take so long?”

 
Crump added: “I believe that had there not been a court order to release the video, Officer Van Dyke would not have been charged.”

 
Alvarez’s office is handling the Van Dyke case, but Rev. Jesse Jackson and other community and political leaders are calling for a special prosecutor to oversee the case.

 
Some of the questionable aspects are:

 
• The police version of the incident conflicted with the video
• A Burger King District manager questioned by the FBI said his establishment was forcefully entered by the Chicago Police Department and after they left 86 minutes of the video had been deleted.
• Why was it little more than a year before charges were brought against Van Dyke, and then only after a court order was issued by a judge?
• Why was the McDonald family given a $5 million settlement without a trial?
• Did Chicago aldermen sign-off on a $5 million settlement without seeing the video or knowing the circumstances involving this case?

 

At least 20 complaints and two lawsuits were filed against Van Dyke prior to McDonald’s death, most of which had to do with use of excessive force.

 

In William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, it stated that “Something is rotten In Denmark.” And some Chicagoans say “There’s something rotten in Chicago about the McDonald case and when it comes to justice for Blacks.

 

 
Juanita Bratcher is an Award-Winning Journalist, the Publisher of www.copylinemagazine.com and the author of several books, songwriter and poet. She has been a Journalist for more than 39 years covering politics, education and a wide-range of other topics.

Tea Party Star Rep. Michele Bachmann throws in the towel, will not seek re-election

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On June - 3 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By Juanita Bratcher

Editor & Publisher, CopyLine Magazine

 

Sometimes it’s hard to say good-bye to a politician who has done an excellent and effective job while in public office and has worked in the best interest of their constituency and the country as a whole.

But there is absolute joy when a “Loud-Mouth” politician like Congressman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), chair of the Tea Party Caucus, throws in the towel, one who should never have been elected to public office in the first place.

During her time in elective office, Bachmann has given very little or NOTHING in the way of political recourse or legislative effectiveness, but have given an extraordinary, continuous stream of “outrageous” nonsense (statements made), which took in fiery discourse, misinformation, incendiary talk and discussions in regards to political dialogue and the political landscape.

So, yes, it was a “Happy and Blessed Day” for many to hear that Bachmann will not run for another term in Congress. That was a choice made by Bachmann – not Minnesota voters. Yet, had she run again it would have been a hard-sell and a tough struggle to get the go-ahead in squeezing another green light from the voters of Minnesota. Of course Bachmann thinks otherwise. When she announced on her website that she would not seek another term, she mentioned that her bowing out had nothing to do with investigations of her presidential campaign or campaign staff, or the possibility that she wouldn’t win re-election.

Bachmann faces investigations by The Federal Election Commission and the Office of Congressional Ethics in regards to her presidential campaign. A week ago, there were news reports that the FBI had joined in the investigation.

In announcing she would not run for re-election in 2014, Bachmann in her eight-and-a-half-minute video posted on her website stated:

“After a great deal of thought and deliberation, I have decided next year I will not seek a fifth congressional term. After serious consideration, I am confident that this is the right decision,” she said.

Bachmann also noted that her decision had nothing to do with an ethics probe investigation of her 2012 presidential campaign or that she would lose a re-election bid to Jim Graves, a Democrat, she defeated by a small margin in 2012.

“My decision was not in any way influenced by any concerns about my being re-elected to Congress. I have every confidence that if I ran, I would again defeat the individual who I defeated last year, who recently announced he is once again running.”

Bachmann added: “And rest assured, this decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my former presidential staff. It was clearly understood that compliance with all rules and regulations was an absolute necessity for my presidential campaign. And I have no reason to believe that that was not the case.”

Then Bachmann took a swipe at the media, the “liberal media” as she refers to it.

”I fully anticipate the mainstream, liberal media to put a detrimental spin on my decision. But I take being the focus of their attention of their disparagement as a true compliment of my public-service effectiveness.”

Frankly, there was never any “public service effectiveness” in the way of Bachmann’s public service career, and it certainly won’t happen in the few months she has left in office.

For a long time now, I have been haunted by a nagging question as to why the voters of Minnesota wouldn’t do the American people a favor and vote Bachmann out of office – that she was irrelevant to them and the country on issues that affected Minnesota and the American people. Bachmann seemed more interested in “showboating” than in doing something positive and constructive for Minnesotans, America and its people.

Bachmann, Congressmen Allen West and William “Joseph” Walsh all engaged in inflammatory talk, mudslinging and personal attacks in the political landscape of things. And their incendiary voices didn’t play too well in the political scope of things. 

After all, voters in Florida kicked Florida Rep. Allen West out of office in the November 2012 election, and Illinois voters stopped William “Joseph” Walsh (R-8th) dead in his tracks from getting a second term in office in 2012. Both West and Walsh are conservative Republican “loud mouths of destruction” that didn’t deserve another term in office and voters vehemently showed them the door – returning them to average citizens…John Doe’s.

Recently, a campaign was under way on the Internet urging voters to sign a petition to tell Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to take Bachmann off the House Select Committee on Intelligence. It was frightening to some voters that Bachmann had accessibility to highly sensitive information as a member of that awesome Committee. However, Boehner was the one who named Bachmann to that elite Committee in the first place.

We’re a country of many people, many ethnic groups and many opinions. We will never all agree on everything but we should have the patience and tolerance to listen to each other’s views when necessary. Then maybe we can find a compromising medium – an understanding of what is good for the Country and its people…and not me, me, me or you, you, you, them, them, them, but as we or us.

Maybe Bachmann, West, Walsh and other extremist conservatives like them should take note of what Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States (1858-1919), said: “This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.”

And to that, I say, AMEN.

Juanita Bratcher is an Award-Winning Journalist, the Publisher of www.copylinemagazine.com and the author of several books, songwriter and poet. She has been a Journalist for more than 37 years covering politics, education and a wide-range of other topics. 

Chicago Park District ignores complaint against Jesse Owens Park Advisory Council: Council continues to operate as a “Private Club”

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On August - 8 - 2011 ADD COMMENTS

An Open Letter to the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners

By Juanita Bratcher

 

More than a year ago, a letter of complaint was sent to Commissioner Bob Pickens, Vice-President of the Chicago Park District Board, and other commissioners complaining that Jesse Owens Park Advisory Council (87th & Jeffery) was operating as a “Private Club” and shutting out residents who wanted to become members of the Council.

Officers of the Council refused to let non-members participate in overall meetings and cranked up their efforts in this regard by closing out community participation through Executive Session, informing non-members verbally and in the meeting agenda that they had to leave the meeting room when Council goes into Executive Session. Obviously, it was a planned maneuver to keep non-members from hearing any substantial dialogue on what was being discussed. It was for members’ ears only.

The CPD never responded to the letter of complaint and as of today the Jesse Owens Advisory Council continues to operate as a “Private Club”, and have systematically closed out residents who applied for membership.

The Letter of Complaint sent to the Chicago Park District Board over a year ago which was also presented to the President of JOAC at their May 2010 monthly meeting, follows:

 

As per our telephone conversation following the Chicago Park District Board

meeting in April 2010 at Jesse Owens Park.

Park District Advisory Councils Are Public Domain; Not Private Club Havens

 

I have read the “Park Advisory Council Guidelines” posted on the Internet several times over. And not once have I come across anything that states that Park District Advisory Councils are, or should be “Private Clubs”, or even “Private Havens”. Nor did I see anything that said Advisory Council Officers can use their “discretion” as to who can and cannot be a member of the Council. In other words, who they will let become a member of the Advisory Council and who they will deny membership to.

It is clear as day that the Jesse Owens Park Advisory Council is not open to the general community at large, but only to a small group of people they selectively choose as members – those who will work with them to maintain the status quo in representing their own interest – whatever that interest might be, and not so much the interest of the overall community. This “Private Club” has made it its business to shut out other residents in the community who are interested in being a member to help in the stabilization of the park and community structure.

This “Private Club” has closed out other residents of the community and has no problem saying “this is the way it is and you can’t change it or do anything about it.”

At the Jesse Owens Park Advisory Council’s May monthly meeting, President Barbara Cooley, when questioned about this practice, had no problem in telling community residents attending the meeting (those who were not members of the Advisory Council) that “This is the way it is and you can’t do anything about it.”

Cooley made the statement after Johnny Acoff, a community resident for more than 40 years, asked why the Council hadn’t acted on ten names he had submitted of persons who wanted to become members of the Council.

I have been a homeowner in the Calumet Heights area for almost 40 years (since November, 1970). My late husband, Neal A. Bratcher, was longtime President of the Jesse Owens Advisory Council. Under his leadership, anyone who wanted to be a member of the Council was welcomed with open arms to be involved in talks and strategies and participate in Advisory Council’s meetings. No one was shut out, so there was never a problem as to disgruntled residents who wanted to be part of. Everyone who attended Advisory Council meetings had a voice…the way that it should be.

My husband (Neal A. Bratcher), along with so many other concerned and active residents in the community, including Johnny Acoff, pushed for, planted the seeds, and worked hard to get a Field House at Jesse Owens Park. Yet, for some reason, which is certainly beyond my perception, the current Advisory Council seems to think that they have some kind of entitlement to a public facility owned by taxpayers.

Let me make this very clear: I do not want to be a member or officer of the Jesse Owens Park Advisory Council nor do I have any inclinations to participate as a community resident under the current officer makeup of the board where origins are not known as to how they were selected for their positions. But I do know that when elections are held in an open process and one wins “fair and square,” their win cannot be disputed. They won it whether you agree with the results or not. And you set aside differences and work together for the good of the community.

That said, now you might ask why I am on a mission for a “fair and open” process that is being denied to some of the residents in the area of the park. Pure and simple, because of complaints by some who wanted to be members and found the process shut out to some and open to others.

My dissatisfaction with the Jesse Owens Park Advisory Council board, as well as some others in the community, is that it is a “Private Club” where officers have shut out many in the community from participating. My goal is to shed light on the way it operates and the fact that it is shutting out people who want to be a part of. Take for instance, Mr. Acoff presented ten names to the Council of people who wanted to become members. That’s when he was told that membership was by their discretion and they were not taking anymore members. Really? He received this response about three months after he had submitted the ten names.

Moreover, after some residents (not members of the Council) attended an April meeting and complained about their “Private Club” and shutting people out, they cranked up their efforts to keep the organization private by closing out community participation through Executive Sessions. Now outsiders must leave before any of the agenda is acted upon.

Executive Sessions are put into play after a small portion of the program agenda takes place. As an example, the agenda is as follows:

Sign in, Call to Order, Opening Prayer, Reading of Minutes and two minutes per speaker Community Input (on what?), and then they go into “Executive Session JOPAC members only”. What can you say in the way of community input when you’ve been kept out of substantial dialogue that is discussed in Executive Sessions that you are barred from being part of? After that, everyone must leave with the exception of Council members. It is obvious that the Executive Sessions were put in place to bar or force non-members from hearing the main issues discussed at meetings.

Before I exited the July monthly meeting, I asked the president if after they discussed certain matters could those told to leave come back for the remaining part of the meeting. The answer was no, that the duration of issues on the agenda are discussed in Executive Session, which are many. Yet, all the serious subjects of discussion take place after non-members are told to leave. This certainly passes the “smell test” of making sure that outsiders do not have the least idea of what is going on regarding the Council and its undertakings.

Additionally, the Chicago Park District web site on Park District Advisory Councils states that only one Council will be recognized. I agree that there should only be one, but that one should be elected by the overall community and should represent the overall community – not a private group that has failed in its efforts or never wanted an open and fair forum on the part of all residents. That is not happening! And it has a lot to do with the effectiveness of activity at the park. One might also wonder are they using their “discretion” as to what activities will be held at the park as well.

In closing, I put forth the following questions:

  • In your 2008 guidelines of Registered Advisory Councils, Mr. Hal Bauswell was listed as President of the Jesse Owens Park Advisory Council – he is deceased – so how and when did Ms. Barbara Cooley take over the reins? And under what circumstances?
  • When was the election held to elect officers of the Council?
  • When will terms of present officers be up and when will a new election be held?
  • How many people were present and voted on the current officers?
  • Who were eligible to vote for officers?
  • Are you privy (Chicago Park District) to any bylaws the Jesse Owens Advisory Council may have in place?
  • Is the Jesse Owens Advisory Council following the Robert Rules of order and Open Meetings Act?
  • They say prospective members must be finger printed, is that within Chicago Park District guidelines or one they put into place themselves? And if so, why would a resident have to be fingerprinted to be a member of the Council? Is this a way to try to scare people off if they had a minor scrape with the law (parking tickets, etc.)?
  • Do new members come in only by discretion of sitting members, leading to the Private Club I so often talked about in this letter?
  • Was a sign posted on the Jesse Owens Park bulletin board informing residents that an election would be held?
  • If so, how many days in advance was the notice posted in advance of the election?
  • Were other public methods used in informing residents in the Jesse Owens Park area of an election prior to the election?

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

On this day, August 8, 2011, Commissioner Pickens we urge you and your Co-Commissioners to bring a swift resolution to this problem. We are still seeking an “open and fair” process in regards to the Jesse Owens Park District Council.

Juanita Bratcher

Journalist, Author, Publisher, Poet & Songwriter

Editor & Publisher of CopyLine Magazine

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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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