While it may be a little farfetched to say that Rangers manager Ron Washington is singlehandedly luring a new large mass of African Americans to following baseball, it may not be that far off.
Washington’s passionate and extremely effective leadership has caught the attention of many from the Black community who may not have followed baseball in the past, or sports overall, for that matter.
“For me, I always liked baseball but I never paid much attention to the Rangers until Ron Washington became coach,” said Jocelyn Medlock-Price.
“I have had much respect on how the Rangers have given Mr. Washington the great opportunity within the Rangers organization. His back story, along with some of the other players living testimonies, reminds me that your life off the field is just as important as your life on the field,” said Tamara Johnson.
Such statistics are not necessarily conducted, but the naked eye may indicate that more African American families can be seen at Rangers home game, complete with the wearing of franchise paraphernalia. That draws some similarities to when the legendary Jackie Robinson decimated segregation in 1947, causing Blacks to flood the baseball parks.
Tafuta Bakai, network analyst for J.C. Penney’s, was seen proudly in Texas Rangers garb while helping organize an Urban League Young Professional business conference at his headquarters. He credits Washington.
“I’ve been hearing more brothers calling all the sports radio show about the state of baseball. This organization (Rangers) has ascended to this level because of what Ron Washington has brought to this city,” Bakai said. “It has been tremendous.”
Bakai spoke about a close friend who’s sending his six-year old son to a camp with D-Bat, a nationwide baseball and softball training facility.
“Ron Washington is the reason why he’s going to send his son to the camp,” Bakai said. “He’s made an impact not only in the African American community but now it’s crossed racial lines.”
Major League Baseball officials surely hope this can represent a turnaround in Blacks interest in the game. According to Richard Lapchick’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, at the University of Central Florida, the percentage of Black American baseball players in the major leagues dipped to 8.5 percent this year, down from 9.1 percent in 2010 and less than half than the 19 percent in 1995.
The percentage of Latino players also dropped slightly, but held at a relatively healthy 27 percent.
“This has been a concern of Major League Baseball and leaders in the African-American community,” Lapchick said. “However, the 38.3 percent of players who are people of color also make the playing fields look more like America with its large Latino population.”
Akiim DeShay said on this reporter’s Facebook page: “In the 1980s 30 percent of MLB was Black. Now it’s about eight percent. My seven-year old plays baseball in Irving and is one of only a few in the entire league. But the majority of boys youth football teams are all Black. Baseball is a hard sport to fall in love with as an adult.
DeShay then said: “However I do believe a few may tune in to the Rangers that wouldn’t have because of Washington.”
Washington is personally beating odds of his own, especially when looking at the chances of a Black manager winning a world title these days. Much like the number of Black American players in the majors, the number of Black mangers has dwindled to just two in 2011. Washington joins Cincinnati Reds mentor Dusty Baker.
However Washington and Baker make up two of the only three Black managers to take their teams to the Big Baseball Classic. Baker did so as skipper of the San Francisco Giants in 2002, losing in seven games to the Anaheim Angels. Cito Gaston of the Toronto Blue Jays remains the only Black manger to have won the world title, winning in back-to-back fashion in 1992 and 1993.
Jackie Robinson’s smashing of the color barrier in 1947 attracted a dramatic increase of major league baseball attendance, that increase consisting of mostly Black baseball fans. A downside is that it also led to the demise of the coveted Negro Baseball League, meaning that white-owned teams reaped the economic benefit of Black players in the league while the Black community lost a strong economic core.
Time will tell if the same thing happens in this the second decade of the 21st Century.
By Gordon Jackson, Special to the NNPA from The Dallas Weekly
Last week, Governor Pat Quinn’s office launched a website to increase transparency in health care for Illinois citizens. The physician profile website is database that provides patients with invaluable information about health care providers. The website is maintained by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).
“Information is power and we want to make sure that people get the information they need to make informed decisions about the doctors who treat them,” Governor Quinn stated in a recent press release. “This online tool will provide valuable assistance for patients as they choose health care providers for their families.”
Professional and disciplinary backgrounds of more than 46,000 physicians and surgeons licensed to practice in Illinois are featured on the website.
The new website replaces the Illinois’ original physician profile website, which was available between 2008 and 2010 and was removed as part of a Supreme Court decision. The Patients’ Right to Know Act (House Bill 105), signed into law by the Gov. Quinn earlier this year, restored Illinois’ consumers’ right to access this important health care information.
“This legislation is needed even more today than it was in 2008, especially as more doctors are receiving performance-based pay,” State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-31), House sponsor of HB 105, said. “It provides valuable information to patients when they go to select a health care provider.”
Health care providers can be searched by name, specialty, geographic region or hospital affiliation. The website also allows individuals to compare doctors who have similar specialties.
More than 85 percent of all licensed physicians and surgeons have provided the information necessary to create or update their profiles. Patients can search the location and scope of practice; the type of insurance the physician accepts; specialties and certifications; legal and disciplinary actions taken against the physician; educational background; and professional activities or honors.
According to Brent Adams, Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulations, citizens yearn for information about their health care providers.
“Everyone is entitled to providing informed consent to medical treatment – not just being informed as to the procedure or medication, but also being informed as to who is recommending that course of treatment,” Adams stated in the release.
To find a physician’s profile, visit the IDFPR’s website: www.idfpr.com, or visit DoctorInfo.illinois.gov.
Thelma Sardin, Governor’s office press release
(New York, NY) – Today the United States Supreme Court rejected a request from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office to overturn the most recent federal appeals court decision declaring Mumia Abu-Jamal’s death sentence unconstitutional. The Court’s decision brings to an end nearly 30 years of litigation over the fairness of the sentencing hearing that resulted in Abu-Jamal’s being condemned to death. Abu-Jamal will be automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole unless the District Attorney elects to seek another death sentence from a new jury.
The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and Professor Judith Ritter, of Widener Law School, represent Abu-Jamal in the appeal of his conviction and death sentence for the 1981 murder of a police officer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Supreme Court’s decision marks the fourth time that the federal courts have found that Abu-Jamal’s sentencing jury was misled about the constitutionally mandated process for considering evidence supporting a life sentence.
“At long last, the profoundly troubling prospect of Mr. Abu-Jamal facing an execution that was produced by an unfair and unreliable penalty phase has been eliminated,” said John Payton, President and Director-Counsel of LDF. “Like all Americans, Mr. Abu-Jamal was entitled to a proper proceeding that takes into account the many substantial reasons why death was an inappropriate sentence.” Professor Ritter stated. “Our system should never condone an execution that stems from a trial in which the jury was improperly instructed on the law.”
Abu-Jamal’s case will now return to the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas for final sentencing.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, Special to the NNPA from thedefendersonline.com
In September, the U.S. Department of Treasury commissioned the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) to manage the Hardest Hit Fund Program (HHF) for the State of Illinois.
Announced in February 2010 by President Barack Obama, the HHF program has been allotted approximately $445.6 million for the development and implementation of innovative housing initiatives in hopes of diminishing foreclosure rates and stabilizing the housing market. Illinois became one of 18 States to provide the HHF program to qualified residents.
The HHF program is primarily geared to offer payment assistance to those who owe on mortgages and have experienced unemployment or underemployment due to no fault of their own. Essentially, the program is designed to reduce the number of foreclosures caused by loss of income and therefore the intended goal is for eligible households to actually keep their homes while trying to regain employment and financial steadiness.
“The best way to stabilize our neighborhoods is to prevent foreclosures before they happen,” said Mary Kenney, IHDA Executive Director in a press release. “This program will make a difference in people’s lives and our communities.”
According to IHDA’s website, the Illinois HHF program offers two types of assistance:
1. Reinstatement assistance to pay mortgage arrearages, fees, and penalties in full, and
2. Monthly mortgage payment assistance to pay the mortgage payment for homeowners struggling to make their monthly payment.
Currently, IHDA is seeking applications from counseling agencies interested in participating in the HHF program. Selected agencies would provide the eligibility screenings to applicant households, coordinate closing processes and monitor ongoing compliance for recipients of temporary mortgage payment assistance.
The IHDA’s mission is to finance the creation and the preservation of affordable housing
throughout the State of Illinois and to increase the supply of decent and safe places for people of low or moderate means to live.
Applications for the HHF program are free and available only through IHDA’s Illinois Hardest Hit website at www.IllinoisHardestHit.org. For a detailed list of eligibility criteria, visit the website or inquiries may also be directed to the Illinois Hardest Hit Program toll-free line at 1-855-873-7405.
By: Abbréa Stiffend
Governors State University (GSU) celebrated a new era in science education last week with a ceremony marking the start of a $22.6 million renovation project. The project will bring world-class laboratories and classrooms to the University Park campus’ science buildings.
GSU Presiden, Elaine P. Maimon and members of the Board of Trustees symbolically “tore down the walls” of the university’s E and F science wing by removing paneling from the walls. They were joined by more than 150 students, university employees, and community members.
“Today, we tear down the walls of the 20th century and construct state of the art science labs appropriate to this model 21st century university and, most appropriate, worthy of our students,” Dr. Maimon said.
Maimon thanked Governor Pat Quinn and the General Assembly for passing “Illinois Works” legislation in 2009, making the renovation project possible. Quinn signed the papers releasing the funds to the Capital Development Board in June, 2010. Dr.
Maimon also thanked other members of the GSU community — students, faculty, government officials, and business and community leaders – for their support and for never giving up on the project.
State Senator Toi Hutchison (D-Olympia Fields) told Tuesday’s audience that effective government is the art of the possible, and can lead to “righteous projects” like the renovation of the university’s science buildings.
“Illinois needed a capital bill and needed to invest in those things that we share in common,” Hutchison said. “When we make investments like this, it’s not just good for the Southland. It means that GSU can make a bigger contribution to this state.”
Julie Smith, Quinn’s deputy chief of staff, said GSU officials are exceptional advocates for the university and the Chicago Southland, and that they showed their effectiveness in winning support for the science building renovation.
“Governor Quinn likes to say that one side of society has movers and shakers and the other side is moved and shaken. Education is the difference between the two sides,” Smith said. “I know this project will lead to many more of your students becoming movers and shakers.”
The area to be renovated comprises approximately 76,000 square feet of space. The new space will include six research labs, 11 teaching labs, 12 classrooms, nine prep/store rooms, and a new lecture hall that seats 90 students.
During the renovation, crews will replace HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and light systems. Outmoded infrastructure and equipment will be replaced with up-to-date facilities and equipment that will be energy efficient and meet current codes and regulations. The project design calls for structural infill of existing atrium space, adding about 9,000 square feet of additional usable space.
The renovated facilities will serve students and faculty in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, nursing, communications disorders, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
For additional information on the GSU renovation project, contact Eric Matanyi at 708-534-4044.
Autumn is officially here. Leaves of orange, red and brown hues litter sidewalks and streets and the sun sets much earlier.
Now is the time for seasonal celebrations like Halloween that inspire people to decorate and dress in costumes. And although the urge to hoard and eat candy and other treats may be overwhelming, it is important to remain vigilant and exercise precaution during the festivities.
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) urges the public to reduce the intake of sugary sweets during the holiday and recently released a list of tips for candy consumption.
“The key is everything in moderation. In Chicago, 3-7 year olds have more than twice the obesity rate (22 percent) than that of young children in the US as a whole (10 percent), so we need to be more active in curbing bad habits and instilling healthy eating habits. This is the perfect opportunity for families to have those important conversations about healthy eating with their children,” stated Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner for the City of Chicago Department of Public Health, in a press release.
Tips from the CDPH:
1. Consider purchasing non-food treats for trick or trick-or-treaters, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
2. Curb the candy by providing healthier treats for trick-or-treaters, such as individual packs of raisins, pretzels, or 100 calorie packs.
3. Give children a good meal prior to parties and trick or treating to discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
4. When kids come home with candy, take control. Let them keep some and give some away to food banks or charities. Many dental offices also have programs to incentivize donating candy.
5. Always think about the health of your teeth to prevent tooth decay: Sticky candies like gummies and taffy adhere teeth. Hard sugary candies are held in the mouth longer, giving bacteria in the mouth more time to create acid that weakens tooth enamel.
6. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items. Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook well.
Halloween coincides with the flu season. The CDC advises individuals who are ill to stay at home. Hand washing is important because it prevents the spread of germs to others. Dressing appropriately is also critical because exposure to cold temperatures can cause serious health problem, the CDC cites.
Costume safety is crucial, especially for children. Accessories such as swords, knives and other costume paraphernalia should be short, soft, and flexible.
The CDC also has a few tips for children before they go trick-or-treating.
Tips from the CDC:
- Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
- Do not trick or treat alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
- Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don’t run from house to house.
- Look both ways before crossing the street.
- Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
- Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
- Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
Sources: Chicago Department of Public Health, Center for Disease Control and Prevention
by Thelma Sardin
For weeks, public and private discussions have been circulating about Chicago Police Department (CPD) district closings and mergers. Last Monday night during a public meeting at St. Paul the Redeemer Church located at 4935 S. Dorchester, Supt. Gary McCarthy confirmed at least, that the rumored merging of the 21st District with the 2nd District was true.
The current 21st District services the majority of the Hyde Park and Kenwood areas. Its officers also patrol east of Cottage Grove Avenue and extend west at 35th street covering the Oakland and Douglas neighborhoods.
The Grand Boulevard and Washington Park areas are patrolled by the 2nd District and after the merger, it’s going to absorb all of the 21st District’s responsibilities not including the Chinatown beat. After the merger, the 2nd District’s borders will be: the Dan Ryan Expressway on the west, the lake on the east, 31st Street on the north and 61st Street on the South.
“This consolidation plan will create a strong and sustainable organizational structure, allowing officers to perform their duties more effectively and with less bureaucracy. Additional officers will be freed up by the merger of administrative functions meaning more boots on the ground working in districts,” Supt. McCarthy said in a released in a statement.
CPD’s District 21 which services the majority of the 4th Ward is one of three districts Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to close and/or merge with as a part of his 2012 proposed budget plan. Other closings include District 13 (Wood) on the city’s West side and District 19 (Belmont) on the North side. With the closing of these three districts, Chicago would be left with 22 police districts.
In a statement released by 4th Ward Ald. Will Burns on Oct. 11, he stated,
“I have received little information about the number of police who would be reallocated to the new 2nd District. I don’t know how the beats within the 21st District will be realigned or managed. More to the point, I am unclear on how the Administration will maintain the 21st District’s current low crime rates and reduce crime in the 2nd District.”
Burns went on to say that because of the questions he has about this proposal and the concerns of residents in the Ward, he does not support the closing of the 21st District.
Community organizations have banned together showing concern on this issue. On Nov 3, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) will hold a public meeting with invited guest Supt. McCarthy. KOCO will hold an additional meeting at the Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church located at 600 E. 35th St. For additional information, contact the Kenwood Oakland Community Council at 773-548-7500.
By: Abbréa Stiffend
Last week during a press conference at Illinois Masonic Hospital, Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced a partnership between her office and the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA).
Madigan and IHA will work to double the number of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) nurses practicing in hospitals and implement a SANE program in each of Illinois’ 11 trauma regions by the fall of 2012. As a result, an on-call SANE nurse will be available 24/7 to aid survivors of sexual assaults.
In 2003, Madigan created a training program to certify SANE nurses. Six hundred fifty nurses were trained but only 75 are fully practicing.
SANE nurses are specially trained to conduct forensic examinations and testify in court. According to Allnurses.com, a nurse’s community website, the victim of a sexual assault is one of the most severely psychologically traumatized individuals a nurse can encounter and upon presentation to the hospital, they are often re-traumatized. Most will re-live the assault upon being examined.
The SANE nurse therefore plays a couple of roles, being responsible for not only preserving the dignity of the victim, but for collecting evidence that links the victim and the suspect.
According to Madigan, the addition of SANE nurses is a critical step to encouraging more survivors to report their assaults and to putting sexual predators in prison.
“Most sexual assaults go unreported, and as a result, the justice system fails survivors of these horrible crimes while violent predators remain free,” Attorney General Madigan said. “We must do more to encourage sexual assault survivors to come forward. By putting more SANE nurses on duty, we can assure survivors that they will receive compassionate and medically appropriate care that will also provide critical evidence to law enforcement to pursue justice.”
Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest is one of two hospitals in the state to currently have SANE programs operating 24 hours a day. Advocate Health Care is amongst the first to commit to implementing more SANE programs.
Maryjane Wurth, IHA president said the organization is pleased to work with Madigan on the initiative to help rape survivors.
“Our hospitals are committed to providing the highest quality, compassionate care to these survivors as well as critical forensic services needed for the prosecution of offenders to help keep our communities safe,” said Wurth.
Thelma Sardin, Attorney General’s office press release
Under the newly named Cook County Works (CCW) program, Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle awarded a long list of community agencies a combined total of $15 million. The service providers will offer employment and training services to eligible youth and adult residents of South and West Suburban Cook County. The agencies were approved by the Cook County Workforce Investment Board based upon recommendations from CCW and following a competitive RFP (request for proposal) process.
CCW formally known as the President’s Office of Employment and Training (POET), was recently reconstructed to refocus its mission of overseeing the provision of workforce services to South and West Suburban Cook County. Under the reform, CCW reduced its number of staff positions, freeing up resources for direct programming.
“I am pleased to announce that these vital community groups and agencies will be assisting Cook County Works to provide important services which will assist our residents in finding gainful employment,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in a released statement. “Under the leadership of Karin Norington-Reaves, Cook County Works has revitalized its operations and is working towards a much more effective and efficient program. We look forward to partnering with these groups in the coming years.”
In a mandatory orientation session at South Suburban College in South Holland, IL, CCW Director Karin Norington-Reaves, briefed all 2011 service providers of CCW’s expectations and on its restructured goals and policies.
“The services these groups are providing for Cook County residents will help to improve the quality of life and increase employment opportunities for our citizens. This funding is very significant to the health and economic development of our communities,” Norington-Reaves said in a press release.
Twenty-seven agencies will participate in the CCW program, nine of which are new inductees. With training centers in Cicero and Maywood, IL, additional centers will be opened in Oak Forest and Chicago Heights, IL. Beginning Dec. 1, the county-operated One Stop Centers will provide a wide range of services.
One Stop Centers offer important job training services and programs to assist residents in the search for employment as well as help them to enhance existing job skills. The centers are a result of the United States Department of Labor’s Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998. The Act was established to consolidate, coordinate, and improve employment, training, literacy, and vocational rehabilitation programs in the United States. It also provides the framework for a national workforce preparation and employment system designed to meet both the needs of the nation’s businesses and the needs of job seekers and those who want to further their careers.
For additional information, contact the Cook County President’s office at 312-254-6211. The complete list of Cook County Works agencies are:
AERO Special Education Cooperative
Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center
Bethel Community Facility
Bloom High School, District 206
Calumet Area Industrial Commission
Career Advancement Network
Community Economic Development Association
Central States SER
Chicago Federation of Labor
Community Assistance Project
Employment & Employer Services
Erie Neighborhood House
Heartland Human Care Services
Institute del Progreso Latino
Jobs for Youth
LaGrange Department of Special Education
Moraine Valley Community College
Prairie State College
South Suburban College
Westside Health Authority
By: Abbréa Stiffend
Programs will engage the private sector and create more opportunities for businesses without any additional cost to taxpayers.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Monday, two innovative new programs which will save taxpayers money and increase the amount of contracting with small, minority- and women-owned businesses.
“I am committed to finding every way to maximize the value of taxpayer dollars, to encourage growth and development of business in Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. “These programs will leverage taxpayer resources to get a better deal for the City and promote growth in our small, minority- and women-owned businesses.”
The first program, called the Small Business Initiative, is designed specifically to encourage small businesses to have an opportunity to participate in City-funded construction projects. The program, which will be race and gender neutral, will be exclusive to small businesses and will be limited to construction projects that are under $3 million in total cost. This will provide a level playing field for small businesses to compete in the construction space, a key area in which larger companies are at an inherent advantage.
The second program, known as the Diversity Credit Program, is designed to increase the use of minority and women-owned businesses on contracts issued in the private sector. This will be accomplished by providing Supplier Diversity participation credit on City contracts for contracts that are awarded in the private sector. For every $3 of private sector contracts, $1 in credit will be issued to the contractor, which can then be used to provide up to 5 percent of a subsequent city contract. This encourages some of Chicago’s largest construction contractors to work with minority- and women-owned businesses – not only in the public sector, but in the private sector as well.
Under current City of Chicago guidelines, every $100 million that is contracted with outside firms leads to $28 million in contracts for minority- and women-owned firms. Under this new program, the total contract value to minority- and women-owned firms could be $38 million. This amounts to an approximate 36 percent increase over what the City can do on its own, significantly increasing business for minority- and women-owned firms at no cost to taxpayers.
Jamie Rhee, the Chief Procurement Officer for the city, said these deals are essential to spur growth in these key areas.
“It’s not enough that we’re committed in City government to supporting our small businesses and women- and minority-owned businesses,” said Jamie Rhee, Chief Procurement Officer for the City of Chicago. “We must involve the private sector, the non-profit community, and the whole City of Chicago. Everyone’s support and involvement is crucial to our success.”
The Mayor was joined by John Rogers, who chairs an informal working group that meets regularly to advise the Mayor on strategies to expand M/WBE and small business initiatives.
The new programs will take effect immediately. For additional information, contact the Mayor’s Press Office at 312.744.3334.