by Wendell A. LaGrand
Time is quickly ticking away for those Illinois residents that need to register to vote in order to participate in the November 2 General Election.
“There are a lot of important races on the ballot. Who the voters choose will shape our future,” said Courtney Greve, a spokesperson for the Cook County Clerks office.
The official deadline to register to vote is October 5.
Eligible voters can register to vote in person by going to one of the Cook County Clerk’s six locations; a village, city or township clerk, or an Illinois Secretary of State Drivers license facility.
Registration is also available at other state government offices, including public assistance offices, military recruitment offices, and public libraries.
“A lot of people forget, if they moved in recent months or years, or changed their name, they need to update their information,” says Chicago Board of Election spokesman, Jim Allen.
Two forms of identification, with at least one showing your current residence address is needed when registering in person.
Submission of a driver’s license number or a state identification card number is required when registering by mail. In addition, the last 4 digits of your social security number, a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or other government document that shows name and address is also required.
A “grace period,” an extension of time to register to vote, is permitted from October 6 through October 26. For more information, visit www.chicagoelections.com; www.cookcountygov.com
by Lisette Livingston
Black employees subjected to nooses, racist graffiti, and adverse working conditions, EEOC alleged
CHICAGO – Federal Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox has granted preliminary approval to a $10 million, five-year consent decree which will end the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) race harassment and discrimination lawsuit against Roadway Express and YRC, Inc. In addition to the multi-million-dollar monetary relief, the decree enjoins future discrimination at the facilities and requires the appointment of a monitor to oversee its implementation.
In its suit, the EEOC alleged that the company subjected black employees at its Chicago Heights, Ill., and Elk Grove Village, Ill., facilities to a racially hostile working environment and racial discrimination in terms and conditions of employment. Roadway Express operated the facilities until its merger with Yellow Transportation, when the two companies combined operations to form YRC, Inc., in October 2008. It is now the nation’s largest less-than-truckload freight hauling company.
“It is dispiriting that the severe racial stereotyping and harassment alleged in this case continues to be a problem,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “This settlement embodies the agency’s 45-year struggle against this scourge on the American workplace.”
The EEOC was set to try this case before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on October 12, 2010. The EEOC was prepared to present evidence that black employees were subjected to multiple incidents of hangman’s nooses, racist graffiti and racist comments, and racist cartoons. The EEOC also planned to present evidence that Roadway and YRC subjected black employees to harsher discipline and scrutiny than their white counterparts and gave more difficult and time-consuming work assignments to black employees than white employees. According to the EEOC, black employees had complained about a these conditions over the years, but effective corrective action was not taken.
“No one should have to endure degrading racial harassment in order to earn a living,” said P. David Lopez, General Counsel of the EEOC. “The EEOC is committed to ensuring that all employees have the opportunity to put in an honest day’s work free from discrimination.” Lopez noted that this consent decree is the latest in a series of large race harassment suits that the agency has resolved recently, including suits against roofing contractor Elmer W. Davis ($1 million), home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool ($1 million), national grocery chain Albertson’s ($8.9 million), and the Bahama Breeze restaurant chain ($1.3 million).
In addition to the payment of the $10 million, the consent decree enjoins YRC from engaging in discrimination because of race and from retaliating against individuals who complain about racial discrimination; requires the development of revised anti-harassment policies; specific record keeping and reporting of complaints; and annual anti-harassment training. The decree also requires YRC to retain consultants to examine the company’s discipline and work assignment procedures and recommend changes to prevent racial disparities. Finally, the decree requires the appointment of a monitor to oversee the company’s response to complaints and to report on the company’s compliance with the decree. The monitor will report semi-annually to the court and to the EEOC.
The consent decree, which was preliminarily approved by Magistrate Judge Cox yesterday, covers over 300 African-American employees who worked at the Chicago Heights and Elk Grove Village facilities as dockworkers and janitors from March 2002 to the present. Eligible claimants will be invited to participate in a claims process over the coming months. At the conclusion of the claims process, the decree and distribution schedule will be submitted to Magistrate Judge Cox for final approval.
The consent decree resolves three lawsuits that were to be tried together: the suit against the Chicago Heights facility (EEOC v. Roadway Express and YRC, N.D. Ill. No. 06 C 4805), and against the Elk Grove Village facility (EEOC v. Roadway Express and YRC, N.D. Ill. No. 08 C5555), brought by the EEOC under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race discrimination. In addition, 10 current and former employees intervened in the EEOC action (10 C5304). The EEOC filed another race discrimination suit against YRC which is still in litigation (EEOC v. Yellow Transportation, Inc. and YRC, Inc. No. 09 CV 7693).
EEOC Chicago District Regional Attorney John Hendrickson said, “This consent decree is an important marker on the road to civil rights on the job. Unfortunately, the American workplace is not free from the racist symbolism of the hangman’s noose or the persistent sting of racist graffiti. But we are moving in a better direction, and we are hopeful that this decree will aid YRC in addressing these problems.” In addition to Hendrickson, the EEOC was represented by Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory Gochanour and Trial Attorneys Richard Mrizek, Ethan Cohen, and Deborah Hamilton. The Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
Hearts were heavy at St. Sabina Church on Sep. 25 during a candlelight vigil that honored the lives of slain children. The Chicago Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children, Inc. (POM) hosted the event occurred simultaneously with other chapters across the country in honor of the organization’s National Day of Remembrance. Vernadette Greenleaf, a POM member, viewed the vigil as, “support for surviving victims,” she said. POM recognizes parents as victims because of the traumatic loss and sudden shock in the murder of a child. Greenleaf continued by adding losing a child, “[is] a burden that you bear for the rest of your life and sometimes people forget.”
Many families in attendance at the vigil wore shirts with pictures of their loved ones. Some parents clutched their children’s photos to their chests while others shared embraces and gave encouraging words. Peggie Porter, mother of Nezery Porter-Goolsby, believed the vigil presented a strong message regarding the community’s response about the insurgence of gun violence. “People are not laying down and taking it,” she said. Maria Ramirez, POM member, said the pain parents feel will not ease quickly, if at all. “Grief does not have a timetable,” she said.
by MARK S. SMITH
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON- President Barack Obama implored black voters to restoke the passion they felt for his groundbreaking campaign two years ago and turn out in force this fall to repel Republicans who are ready to “turn back the clock.”
In a fiery speech to the Congressional Black Caucus, Obama warned that Republicans hoping to seize control of Congress want “to do what’s right politically, instead of what’s right period.’’
“I need everybody here to go back to your neighborhoods, to go back to your workplaces, to go to the churches, and go to the barbershops and go to the beauty shops. And tell them we’ve got more work to do,’’ Obama said to cheers from a black-tie audience at the Washington Convention Center. “Tell them we can’t wait to organize. Tell them that the time for action is now.’’
His speech acknowledged what pollsters have been warning Democrats for months that blacks are among the key Democratic groups who right now seem unlikely to turn out in large numbers in November.
“It’s not surprising given the hardships that we’re seeing across the land that a lot of people may not be feeling very energized, very engaged right now,’’ Obama said. “A lot of folks may be feeling like politics is something that they get involved with every four years when there’s a presidential election, but they don’t see why they should bother the rest of the time.’’
But he said he’s just begun rolling back a devastating recession that’s come down “with a vengeance’’ on African-American neighborhoods that were already suffering.
“We have to finish the plan you elected me to put inplace,’’ Obama said.
Obama was treated to several standing ovations in the darkened cavernous Convention Center. But the hall grew quiet as Obama warned, “Remember, the other side has a plan too. It’s a plan to turn back the clock on every bit of progress we’ve made.’’
With polls showing his party facing a wide “enthusiasm gap’’ with the GOP, Obama sought to rally an important constituency in his speech.
What made the civil rights movement possible were foot soldiers like so many of you, sitting down at lunch counters and standing up for freedom. What made it possible for me to be here today are Americans throughout our history making our union more equal, making our union more just, making our union more perfect,’’ Obama said. “That’s what we need again.’’
by Charlene Crowell
Entitled The Predators’ Creditors, the report traces connections between the largestpayday lenders and Wall
Street banks. Report findings span financing arrangements, leadership ties, investments, and shared practices. It is a joint publication from the National People’s Action (NPA), a network of community power organizations across the country that work together for economic and racial justice, and Public Accountability Initiative (PIA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog organization that publishes investigative reports.
In a recent Los Angeles Times interview, George Goehl, NPA executive director, spoke to the developments that led to the new report.
“Americans have seen their assets dwindle and dwindle. We cannot have the big banks that we helped bail out actually play a strong role in continuing to strip wealth away from ordinary Americans.”
The report found that while small businesses and individuals have struggled to get affordable loans, a significant portion of 2008 taxpayer bailouts to large Wall Street banks were used for the benefit of payday lenders. In fact, a few big bailed out banks that also heavily finance major payday lenders received $105 billion in TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funds. In just one year, 2009, payday lenders paid these banks $70 million in interest. That amount was according to the report, a “sign of how much banks are profiting by extending credit to these companies.”
While the report notes that not all banks lend to the payday industry, there are strong financial connections with many of the nation’s largest banks such as Wells Fargo that was found to lend more to payday loan companies than any other big bank. Other banks cited in the report were Bank of America, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan Chase, Fifth Third, Union Bank of California, and US Bank.
Creditors’ Predators also found that major banks and their subsidiaries have begun investing in the industry. According to the report, as of June 30, 2010, Wells Fargo had a $52 million investment in Dollar Financial. Banks also benefited other large payday lenders such as Advance America, Cash America, and EZCorp.
Additionally, the report details how several current and former executives at major Wall Street banks hold leadership roles with some of the largest payday lenders.
If one considers the dual developments of financial de-regulation coupled with generous bank financing, the rapid payday lending industry growth becomes more understandable. In 1995, there were 2,000 payday stores nationwide. Today, there are 20,611 stores nationwide, as common as McDonald’s and Burger King Restaurants.
For Uriah King, CRL’s vice-president for state policy, there is also a broader economic question to consider.
“Is it really helping our economy when the federal government is lending at less than one percent and struggling families are borrowing at over 400 percent,” asked King? “How in the world are those consumers going to lead us out of the potential double dip recession?
Predators’ Creditors reached a similar conclusion. “Instead of wading further into the business of predatory payday lending, big banks need to stop financing these lenders and instead lend to businesses and individuals that create wealth, rather than destroy it”, concludes the report.
by Thelma Sardin
With the proliferation of food deserts, a new program at Chicago State University (CSU) is providing a resource for research opportunities and healthy eating choices through its aquaponics program at the university. CSU’s aquaponics warehouse, located on 9601 S. Cottage Grove, is a hybrid process composed of aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (growing plants in water rather than in soil.) The warehouse opened on August 17th of this year.
The facility has about 10 grow beds that are used to raise bell peppers, strawberries, okra and collard greens, among other fruits and vegetables. Half of the products harvested from the grow beds are used for research and in the future, CSU hopes to profit off of the other half. Profits would be used to expand the facility and the university is still working on ways to market the food.
“CSU’s aquaponics program is not just a science program, it’s a campus and community-wide program,” said Dr. Floyd Banks, professor of physiology and chairperson of the Biological Sciences Department at CSU.
From its inception, the elected officials and CSU administrators involved with the program have understood its relationship with local school children.
Dr. Alison Gise-Johnson, director of science outreach at CSU, is actively looking to educate youth in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM.) Gise-Johnson wants to train residents and students in these fields. She’s already made agreements with area high schools for students to complete their community service hours at the facility. High schools that have built relationships with CSU include: Morgan Park, Chicago Vocational, Julian and Corliss. Additionally, CSU’s School of Pharmacy will explore growing medicinal herbs in the facility.
The university is using half of the warehouse for farming, but believes expansion of the farming operation will support the program’s mission which is to generate nutritious foods and expand research in urban agricultural studies, said Gise-Johnson.
Aquaponics allows fish to dispel waste into the water which is then filtered to plants. Plants consume the waste for energy thus removing toxins from the water allowing clean water to recycle back to the fish.
The relationship between the fish and the plants creates a wasteless environment; nearly every part of the project is self-sustaining and environmentally friendly. At the same time, almost everything in the warehouse, which is comprised of four 750 gallon tanks, is made from recycled materials. The university’s goal is to farm 450 tilapia fish in each of the four tanks, which would be ideal because of tilapia’s speedy growth and large size.
CSU’s aquaponics initiative was the brainchild of Alderman Freddrenna Lyle (6th Ward) and Alderman Helen Shiller (46th Ward.)
A year before CSU’s president, Dr. Wayne Watson came to the school, the aldermen traveled to Wisconsin and studied urban farming there. Once Watson became president, the aldermen met with him and discussed their plan. Watson enthusiastically agreed and approached Banks about starting the program. Lyle believes the program will attract national recognition. “It is going to be a part in making Chicago State University an environmental education leader,” said Lyle, adding, the program is an educational tool and resource to enrich students and the community in science.
The CSU aquaponics facility is open to the public by appointment only. For a tour of the facility or for more information, contact the university’s Biological Sciences Department at 773-995-2183.
Posted on 22. Sep, 2010 by admin in Uncategorized
by Lisette Livingston
Half of all U.S. citizens require the services of an attorney each year, according to the American
Bar Association, and a growing number of them are turning to prepaid legal insurance plans to cover the rising costs of attorney assistance.
Legal plans work much like other benefits: individuals enroll directly or through their employer
or another association. Members receive access to a group of attorneys and other legal resources to assist with their various legal needs in exchange for an affordable premium.
As of 2000, an estimated 122 million Americans had some form of a legal service plan. According to the American Bar Association’s website, when it comes to everything from getting a will drafted, to reviewing a purchase contract to a home, to representing your teenager in traffic court, with many legal plans, “these services could be yours for $9 to $25 per month charged to your credit card, taken as a payroll deduction, or even “free” if your employer provides legal services as an employer-paid fringe benefit.”
Now, a new type of insurance plan that offers protection against attorneys’ fees in contract litigation cases, is gaining some attention.
While the risk to businesses and individuals is further complicated as 66% of defendants lose
their contract disputes at trial, according to the Bureau of Justice, one company, Sonoma Risk Insurance Agency is distributing the first-of-its-kind Contract Litigation Insurance in Illinois.
The policy is underwritten by Zurich in North America and helps protect plaintiffs and defendants from having to pay their adversary’s attorneys’ fees should they lose their contract case. Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc. is the preferred distributor.
“With the growing instances of Loser Pays’ provisions, you need to be extra cautious when
moving forward with even strong cases —as legal fees often are more than the damages. Now companies and individuals can decide whether or not to pursue a case based on its merits and avoid paying their adversary’s legal fees,” said Kevin Martin, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sonoma Risk Insurance.
The Contract Litigation Insurance is designed to mitigate litigation exposure; allow general
counsels and people in business to budget more effectively for litigation expenses and it enables companies and individuals to pursue or defend strong claims that otherwise may have been abandoned due to financial liability.
“Attorneys who share information about the benefits of litigation insurance are upholding
ethical and professional responsibilities that come with the legal field,” said Damiano Servidio, head of Professional Services for Zurich’s Programs unit. “We are pleased that this message is resonating so quickly within the legal community and is helping us expand this new policy from where we first launched, in California, to another great market, Illinois,” he said.
Posted on 22. Sep, 2010 by admin in Uncategorized
Vincent C. Ragland is CEO of PLANS. PLANS can be reached at (312) 286-6886 and by Email at Vncnt599@sbcglobal.net.
If you are a new business seeking capital it is likely that you have inquired about venture capital and venture capital firms. Venture capital represents an avenue for accessing cash via a venture capital firm, providing funding for small businesses that show an ability to generate a profitable return on investment. Funding can range from the hundreds of thousands to millions. The Venture Capitalist is an experienced money manager interested in investing in your company for maximum return and profit. Your business model will be evaluated to determine if it is a needed” business or just a “convenient” business, meaning the degree of need for your business outweighs the convenience of the product or service you are providing. All venture capital firms are not alike. Some firms will not invest in start-up companies, preferring to see the business establish itself first before providing investment capital. In funding established or middle stage companies the risk inherent to the venture capital firm is reduced. Other firms may invest in a start-up/early stage companies but will require a strong business plan and proven organizational structure, prior to investing. Also, the venture capital firm may take a larger ownership interest in the company or some management interest. Day to day management interest is rare unless the venture capital firm feels their investment is at risk. For the venture capital firm the level of investing is all based upon risk vs return. The greater the risk, the greater the expected return.
To get the attention of a venture capital firm the small business must organize and document their business model. The first thing the small business needs is a comprehensive business plan. The plan must outline the ability the company shows to generate revenue and provide a positive (ROI) return on investment. Next the product or service offered by the business must be needed, innovative and create a strong competitive edge for the company. The basis for the need of the product or service must be backed by market research and documentation. This further solidifies the small business concept and makes it more appealing to the venture capital firm.
The management team is critical to success of the small business. Therefore the venture capital firm evaluates the management team to determine their experience, professionalism, integrity, and understanding of the business and industry.
When making a presentation to a venture capital firm the business should prepare it’s business plan, with all financial tables, assumptions and research information, a Powerpoint presentation with accompanying hard copy and white papers and supporting documentation.
Often venture capital firms purchase common stock of the company or take an ownership interest in the company depending upon the amount of their investment. It is advisable not to allow a venture capital firm to own fifty (50%) percent or greater interest in the small business, allowing the small business to maintain ultimate control of the company.
Posted on 22. Sep, 2010 by admin in Uncategorized
by Tom Breen
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Three distinguished University of North Carolina alumni were looking forward to doing something Saturday that they never could when they were students: watching the Tar Heels play football in the company of people of all races.
When John Brandon and the brothers Ralph and LeRoy Frasier became the first three black undergraduates at Chapel Hill, football games were still segregated by race, as were most public
places in North Carolina.
Now, 55 years after a federal court allowed them to register for classes by overturning the university’s racist admissions policy, the three are returning to be celebrated as pioneers by a UNC where the most famous alumnus is Michael Jordan and which has more black students enrolled than any other major research institution.
“Those days were probably the most stressful of my life,’’ said Ralph Frasier, 72, during a visit Friday to campus. “I can’t say that I have many happy memories.’’
For some of those joining the celebration, the anniversary isn’t only a chance to commemorate the bravery of three Durham teenagers who stood up to Jim Crow laws just a year after the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision that outlawed segregation.
The Rev. William Barber, president of the state’s NAACP chapter, was the speaker at a dinner praising the three as heroes recently. Barber sees their situation as a lesson in a time when issues
of racial diversity in public schools have turned into a fiery public debate in Wake County.
“We need to remember history, but not to become angry or bitter,’’ Barber told The Associated Press. “But by plumbing the depths of history, we can recognize the obstructions that try to stop the flow of justice.’’
The Wake County Board of Education voted this year to scrap the school’s longstanding plan that aimed to achieve socio-economic balance in student populations through busing. The legacy of the civil rights movement has been contested ground in the debate, with advocates of ending the policy invoking the example of Martin Luther King Jr., a comparison that has outraged Barber and other critics of the new policy.
For the Frasiers and Brandon, though, that momentous day in 1955 can seem very distant from the present day. As important as it was, none of the three have any distinct memories from it.
“We were kids,’’ said LeRoy Frasier, 73. “I was probably thinking about when we were going to eat.’’
All three were students at Durham’s Hillside High School when they applied to UNC-Chapel Hill in 1955. Their applications were denied, and the Board of Trustees swiftly passed a resolution barring the admission of blacks as undergraduates. The law school had been integrated four years earlier after a federal lawsuit.
A federal court in Greensboro then struck down the racist policy for undergraduates, and the three young men two were 18, while Ralph turned 17 on the day of the court decision registered for classes.
“It’s one of three or four critical events in the eventual unraveling of segregation in North Carolina,’’ said Archie Ervin, the university’s chief diversity officer. “It signaled a change that now African-Americans could enroll at the flagship institution.’’
On that distant September day, the three didn’t encounter the angry mobs or politicians standing in the doorways of college buildings that greeted other blacks integrating colleges in the South, but they quickly learned there were places they couldn’t go, and people who wouldn’t be seen with them.
“There were some people who were friendly, but there was reluctance on the part of some who didn’t feel comfortable having their friends see them being friendly to us,’’ Ralph Frasier
All three eventually moved away from North Carolina. Ralph Frasier splits his time between Jacksonville, Fla. and Columbus, Ohio; his brother, LeRoy, lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Brandon lives in Houston.
The men are touched by the weekend of tributes, but accolades were far from their minds in 1955.
“I didn’t think of myself as a hero or anything like that,’’ Brandon said. “I’m understanding more about what it meant now than when it was occurring.’’
Posted on 22. Sep, 2010 by admin in Uncategorized
by Wendell A. LaGrand
Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas was on hand to give awards to several individuals who participated in the 30th Peace Day Anniversary celebration that was held at Daley Plaza on last Friday.
The event featured a call to peace, festival concert, cultural performances, speakers, a display of over 100 flags of the world, a build the peace exhibit and parade.
Peace Day in Chicago was born from the vision of The Peace School’s founder, the late MyungSu Y.S. Kim.
“He believed that the United States was a special mission for peace,” says his son Charles H.C. Kim, who is also the non-profit school’s president. “His aim was to make peace for individuals and for society,” Kim says.
Jennifer Kim, Chairperson of the Chicago Build the Peace Committee said the goal is to make Chicago “amodel city of peace.” Mayor Richard M. Daley and all of his predecessors have supported Peace Day since its inception. The event has been officially celebrated in
Chicago every year since 1978.
The city is also an official United Nations Peace Messenger city.
The state’s unemployment rate dipped two points in August from10.3 to 10.1 percent according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). IDES notes August decrease as, “eighth consecutive month to show steady or declining unemployment rates,” stated in a Sep. 16 press release. In addition, more than 900 manufacturing jobs were added to the state’s labor pool
during August. This increase reflects a six consecutive month growth in the vital sector.
IDES Director Maureen O’Donnell stated in the release, “So far this year, Illinois has added more than 37,000 jobs and reported declining or steady unemployment rates for eight consecutive months.” O’Donnell added that the current employment influx may not be felt by people in communities just yet but “Continuing to create jobs, retrain workers and encourage investment offers the best plan to break free from this stubborn national recession,” she said.
For the past year, Illinois’ unemployment rate has been higher than the national average. In August 2009, the national rate was 9.7 percent in comparison to Illinois’ 10.6 percent. In August 2010, the nation’s unemployment rate was 9.6 percent in contrast to Illinois’10.1 percent. The state’s adjusted unemployment rate changes seasonally. Seasonally adjusted jobs are usually positions that are not non-farm or agricultural related. The industries include: mining, construction, manufacturing, trade, transportation & utilities, information, financial activities, professional and business services, educational and health services, leisure and hospitality, and government.
Illinois leads the country in supplementing manufacturing jobs. The state sees 1.8 percent while the country saunters at 1.3 percent. The release cites that Illinois has added 37,600 private sector jobs to its workforce in 2010. The Professional and Business Services sector leads in this progression with 19,000 jobs while the Educational and Health Services sector lags with 7,100.
The state unemployment rate is not representative of individuals who receive unemployment benefits. The rate classifies individuals that are not working and are pursuing employment. Unemployed workers drawing benefits are accounted for independently. “A person who exhausts unemployment insurance benefits, or who is ineligible for benefits, still will be reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work,” according to the release.
While the Illinois unemployment rate is slightly higher than the national average, the state is steadfastly decreasing its rate. With the help of federally funded programs and unemployment insurance, the IDES continues to monitors the state’s unemployment rate. So far this year, the Illinois economy has grown 0.7 percent while the national economy has grown 0.6 percent.