Thanks to a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant, professors at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) are in the beginning stages of creating a “mobile history museum in an effort to deliver art exhibits and other information to Chicagoans who are less likely to visit local cultural institutions and museums.
“History Moves is a space for enacting a project of collecting and displaying Chicago’s history,” says Jennifer Brier, UIC associate professor of gender and women’s studies and history, the project’s lead investigator. “It allows for a direct relationship between interdisciplinary scholars at UIC, community co-curators and the neighborhoods they inhabit.”
The grant will be used towards the design and development stage of the mobile gallery.
Community involvement will play a big role at every stage of the gallery’s development, Brier said. “While there are numerous mobile museums in the United States, none of them make non-professionals central to the work of making public history,” she said.
Prior to the project’s public launch, which is a few years away, a team of historians, architects, graphic designers, and museum professionals from UIC will develop a full-scale model display system and floor plan for testing by focus groups.
The final product of this first phase will be construction documents for the design of one prototype gallery.
The gallery, which aims to increase the visibility of community-based organizations, will feature a flexible interior design.
Early concepts of the layout allow for “changing spatial configurations that are vibrant and physically engaging,” according to Julie Flohr, clinical assistant professor of architecture and lead architect for the project.
“Artifacts, graphics and digital technologies are carefully woven together in order to best present each curatorial project,” Flohr said.
Developers’ long-term plan is to present exhibitions for a seven-month period in various communities.
During that time, the mobile museum will reside in accessible public spaces such as library, school or park district parking lots.
Public programming associated with the exhibit will take place outside the mobile museum or in nearby publicly accessible space.
Sharon Haar, professor of architecture, who consulted on the initial design and urban strategy of the project, said the community co-curated exhibitions will travel throughout the city, drawing in new audiences and “crossing the social, cultural, racial and economic barriers that are reinforced by brick-and-mortar institutions.”
UIC was among 817 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive a 2013 NEA Art Works grant, which were awarded in support of projects in 13 artistic disciplines.
The NEA was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government and has awarded over $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, according to its website.
Community partners for History Moves include the Immigrant Youth Justice League, South Side Community Arts Center, Chicago Cultural Alliance, Chicago Freedom School and Read/Write Library.
Additional UIC partners are the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, which also provided seed funding.
Professors will seek additional funding to implement the final phase of the project.
By Deborah Bayliss
As a way to keep his constituents informed about employment, training and other resources, 24th Ward Alderman, Michael Chandler, has a website that contains a wealth of relevant information.
“There are several employment programs out there for kids such as the Botanic Gardens, the Forest Preserves,” Chandler said. “Whenever we find information, we make it available. Youth have to be at least 14 years old to apply for a summer job.”
One of the highlighted job portals on the 24th Ward’s website is the City of Chicago’s One Summer Chicago (OSC) jobs and activities program.
OSC connects young people to summer jobs, internships and training programs offered throughout the City. Through OSC, young adults have an opportunity to learn job skills, develop their resumes and explore career interests.
A limited number of positions are available each summer so a position is not guaranteed. Applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
There is also information on the 24th Ward’s website, about the Chicago Transit Authority apprenticeship program for ex-offenders, a second chance program offered in conjunction with the City of Chicago and social service agencies throughout the city. This program offers hard-to-place individuals an opportunity to obtain full-time employment and training which may enable a start of a long-term meaningful career.
Today, most job applications must be completed on-line. When constituents lack internet access, Chandler’s office refers them to the public library where access to the internet requires a nominal fee or is free.
“We also offer information about economic development,” Chandler said of his ward’s website, referencing key economic development programs like the TIF (Tax Increment Finance) Small Business Improvement Fund (SBIF) which uses TIF revenues to help owners of commercial and industrial properties within specific TIF districts to repair or remodel facilities for their own businesses or on behalf of tenants. Program participants receive matching grants to cover remodeling costs, with a maximum grant amount up to $150,000.
Eligible activities include new windows, floors and roofing; sign removal and replacement; tuck pointing; new heating, ventilation and air conditioning; improvements for disabled patrons or workers; and purchase of adjacent property for building expansion or parking.
Food pantry information is also listed on Chandler’s ward website including facts about the Family Focus Lawndale pantry, 3517 W. Arthington Ave., who has partnered with the Greater Food Depository. The organizations provide a monthly Community Food Give-Away that takes place every third Thursday of the month from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event is FREE and NO I.D. is needed.
Chandler’s ward office website states that he is committed to improving housing and economic development, community pride, and delivery of city services to the ward in the most effective manner possible. It also states that it is designed to provide access to important City of Chicago programs and services, along with general information on important community events and meetings. So far, it is keeping true to that promise.
Residents, who want to know more about resources available to them can call the 24th Ward office, 1158 S. Keeler Ave., at 773-533-2400 or visit the 24th Ward website at www.aldermanchandler.com
By Deborah Bayliss
Chicago has been selected as the pilot city by national non-profit Connect 2 Compete’s EveryoneOn campaign with the goal of bolstering internet access and digital literacy amongst its citizens.
Mayor Rahim Emanuel met with Connect 2 Compete’s Chief Executive Officer, Zach Leverenz, to finalize a plan that would allow 1.1 million Chicagoans to purchase low-cost high-speed wireless internet service as an option. This new partnership between the City of Chicago and Connect 2 Compete is in conjunction with the 2011 initiative the city has with Comcast’s Internet Essentials program.
“Digital skills are 21st century workforce skills, making digital literacy training and affordable access to high-speed Internet service game changers for children and adults,” said Mayor Emanuel. “From day one we have worked to increase internet connectivity and knowledge for our residents, especially in neighborhoods that have traditionally been underserved. This is a great example of the public and the private sectors working together to craft innovative solutions to prepare our workforce for the global economy.”
A recent study from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that there is a 14 to 17 percent wage increase for employees that use the Internet or a computer at work. Chicagoans in targeted communities that have received technology training from the City’s computer centers have shown a 13 percent increase in the likelihood of finding a job and/or having their wages increased.
“The digital divide is solvable now, and the solution requires collective will and bold action. We are excited to be launching this pilot in Chicago and look forward to continuing it in cities across the country,” said Zach Leverenz, Chief Executive Officer of Connect 2 Compete.
Chicago has utilized federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program funding and different resources to:
• Establish free Wi-Fi at 28 public computer center sites and upgraded free Wi-Fi at 66 Chicago Public Library branches;
• Provide over 180,000 hours of instructor-led technology training to 29,300 Chicagoans citywide;
• Help at least 570 Chicagoans find jobs through 180,000 one-on-one CyberNavigator assistance sessions at the libraries;
• Deliver technology training to over 1,000 small businesses;
• Provide out-of-school digital media programming to 1,350 youth;
• Establish the Connect Chicago network to bring together over 250 locations that offer free digital skills training throughout the City; and
• Install over 1,400 computer stations at 170 public computer centers citywide, located in CHA facilities, CCC campuses, community centers, libraries and Veterans Resource Centers.
By Lee Edwards
Idries Abdur-Rahman, MD, has been a fan of the reality game show “The Amazing Race” since its first season in 2001. His twin brother, Jamil Abdur-Rahman, MD, didn’t really get hooked until the past few seasons.
And now, the 36-year-old brothers, both OB/GYN physicians, will have a chance to get some fans of their own. Idries and Jamil are a team on “The Amazing Race’s” 22nd season, which pits 12 teams of pairs against each other, each racing around the world for the chance to win $1 million.
The season started airing on Feb. 17, on CBS.
They work together well — and often. Idries and Jamil started their own OB/GYN practice, Women’s Healthcare Partners of Illinois, in 2006, and the twins, who grew up in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, went to college together at the University of Illinois at Chicago, attended medical school at Rush and even got married the same year.
Idries and Jamil talked with Rush about their experience on The Amazing Race and how they work together as a team.
How has life been since you’ve been back from the show?
Idries: We took a few days off, and then we jumped back into our everyday routine. It’s been fun — the anticipation of wanting to tell people before you could tell people and then seeing the commercials. But other than that, it’s been everyday life: seeing patients, delivering babies.
Was it hard to get back to work after this experience?
Jamil: Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t. I thought it might be initially. But just couple of days just to rest and collect ourselves and reflect on everything. Plus, even though The Amazing Race was awesome, you also kind of missed your job and missed your patients and missed your coworkers.
Idries: And your family — you should mention your wife and kids. [Jamil has two children, and Idries has four.]
How did your medical training help you on the show?
Jamil: One advantage we had going in is that we’re used to doing a lot on little sleep and having to perform in stressful situations. But I was concerned — sometimes, when you have to react, thinking too much may be a disadvantage. We could react under stressful situations and do what we had to do, but at the same time, it could be a bit of a downfall because sometimes you don’t want to think; you just want to do.
What kinds of advantages did working so closely together on a regular basis and just generally being twins give you in the competition?
Idries: Being twins and doing things together all of the time, I know how his mind works, and he knows how my mind works. So we’ve got that unspoken twin bond. We can give each other looks, and we kind of know what the other one is thinking.
How did you prepare for your time on the show?
Idries: We were always pretty physically fit — we’re in the gym every day, and I do taekwondo. One thing I would try to do was mental brain games late at night or early in the morning, just to get my mind used to being functional on little sleep. My brother and I took swimming lessons because we’re not the best in the water, and I took some stick shift classes — I hadn’t driven stick in quite some time.
Jamil: I run three or four miles a day, and Idries does some running too. He was going to do a 15k about a week or two before we were going to leave for the Race. I told him, “Don’t do it; don’t push yourself more than you normally do so you don’t get injured.”
Idries: But I did the 15k, like, the Sunday before we left. I did it anyway.
Do you think your experience on the show has made you better doctors?
Jamil: It sounds corny, but I think an experience like that almost makes you a better person. You realize that you had an opportunity to do something that most people will never get to do and so it makes you more appreciative. I don’t know if it’ll make us better doctors — maybe by default if we’re better people, we’ll be better doctors — but I’d say better people more than anything else.
Idries: I agree. It sounds corny, but it was a truly amazing experience, like Jamil said. I think we’ve been blessed with a lot of things in our lives, and this was another thing we got to do.
The Garfield Park Conservatory, a staple on Chicago’s west side, is now 105 years old.
“In 1905 Jens Jensen created what was intended as “the largest publicly owned conservatory under one roof in the world” in Garfield Park,” said Zvezdana Kubat of the Chicago Park District. “His vision and success in building this ‘landscape art under glass’ continues today with a commitment from the Chicago Park District and Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, working to change lives through the power of nature and aiming to inspire and educate through innovative programs and special events in one of the nation’s largest and finest historic conservatories, provoking curiosity and wonder.”
On any given Saturday, 600 to 800 people make their way in and out of the historic site at 300 N. Central Park Ave.
“It’s nice to have an outside when you’re stuck inside,” said Robin Cline, assistant director of programs with the Garfield Park Conservatory.
The largest of Chicago Park District’s three botanic gardens facilities, the Garfield Park Conservatory preserves and displays exotic plants from around the world in its 4.5 acres of plant rooms and outdoor space.
It’s also one of 10 institutions in the nation to receive last year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service, awarded to educational facilities that “make a difference” in communities.
At no charge, families can walk on winding paths through the glass structured oasis with the warm tropical feel and view various types of exotic plants, palm trees and brightly colored flowers from around the world.
About 30 percent of the visitors come from surrounding neighborhoods, like Austin or East and West Garfield Park, but the other 70 percent come from all over the city of Chicago and its suburbs.
The Conservatory also has a Children’s Garden, where kids learn how to plant seeds with the help of a hands-on tutorial.
Each month, Scavenger hunts are held with a specific theme. February’s theme was Black History. Families received a list of plant materials to find that depicted African American historical significance, such as “roots” which depicts the importance of cultural and familial ties.
Families can also sing to a plant during the month of March. Different songs are sung to different plants, for example, the two 300-year-old cycad plants have their own special tune.
According to conservatory staff, more families flock to the conservatory during the winter months.
The building, which officially opened in 1908, underwent a multimillion-dollar reconstruction in 1994 to improve its infrastructure including plumbing and heating.
The Conservatory is also popular destination for school field trips.
Upcoming events include:
A Great Big Spring Sing-A-Long
Wednesday, March 13
Mark Messing, composer and musical agitator, working with Garfield Park Conservatory staff developed original songs for the sing-along event, culled from the Conservatory’s unique plant collection. Join the fun, sing along, and visit all the “sing to a plant” stations posted throughout the Conservatory.
Beer under Glass
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Celebrate the return of spring with the return of Beer under Glass and enjoy the Conservatory at night as you sip inventive brews from some of Chicagoland’s hottest craft breweries. Popular local restaurants will serve up tasty small plates, and other surprises to round out the evening.
Also, the broken glass collected in the Conservatory after the 2011 hail storm is being put to good use. Local artists created works of art with the glass, keeping the original whitewash coating intact, which are now on sale in the Gift Shop at the Conservatory. All proceeds from these pieces will help the rebuilding efforts.
For more information about events, please call (312) 746-5100.
By Deborah Bayliss
Sabrina Williams, 44, grew up in a two-parent household in the North Lawndale neighborhood she now resides. It’s also where she and raised her four children.
Being of service to others within her community was something instilled in her and her seven other older siblings as a way of life. Now the literacy volunteer and community activist is being recognized as a Dollar General national “Every Day Hero.”
“My parents were humanitarians,” Williams said recalling her childhood. “We used to wake up in the morning with someone new at the table all the time.” “My dad…was from the South and he couldn’t read or write but his rule for us was to learn to read and write and use common sense.
Williams said that all of her siblings went to college with the help of her parents but by the time she was ready for college, her parents were not able to help her financially.
“I had to make it through college on my own because they didn’t have it like that anymore,” she said. “I haven’t finished yet but I am a year away from getting my degree in elementary education.
Being named a Dollar General national “Every Day Hero,” was due to a nomination by an after- school organization called, America SCORES, a program developed in 1994 in Washington D.C. by Julie Kennedy, a public school teacher concerned that her students, lacked constructive after-school options and were at risk of gang activity and other dangers after class.
The after-school literacy program today, serves more than 7,500 youth each year, in over 140 public schools in fifteen cities nationwide.
“All of my kids participated in America SCORES, but it started with my daughter Shakena Williams who was very shy but loved to read and write and the program helped bring her out of her shell which made me look at it a bit closer and I became more involved. This program helped keep my kids stay in school and active.”
Even after her children went on to high school, Williams continued to volunteer with America SCORES as a writing coach.
With both her parents and her husband now deceased, Williams said she has lost so much but still feels good about sharing her time with a child who can use the attention.
“I was blessed to be able to push through,” Williams said. “I’m happy to be nominated but it’s something I love to do. It puts life back into the community because you’re helping a younger person to grow up and put something back into the community.”
Williams who’s not afraid to speak out in her North Lawndale community said she once stopped a gang fight from escalating by speaking with both sides.
There was no place she wouldn’t go to reach out to a parent and/or a child.
“I would go into the Ogden housing projects to get kids who didn’t show up for school,” Williams said. “Whatever was missing in the community, I would figure out how to get it done. I helped all of the kids because if my child is succeeding, it’s no good if the next child is not and I see this every day.”
Williams who is actively involved in her church, as well as a community women’s shelter, was selected as Dollar General’s national “Every Day Hero” for the month of February.
Celebrating diversity in the communities it serves, Dollar General will feature Williams in a national campaign, including a spotlight throughout February within TNT’s “Dramatic Difference” program and in an advertorial in People magazine on newsstands next week.
In honor of Sabrina Williams and literacy volunteers everywhere, Dollar General is making a $10,000 donation to America SCORES Chicago to help the organization fulfill its mission of inspiring urban youth to lead healthy lives, to be engaged students and to have the confidence and character to make a difference in the world.
On Thursday Feb 21, Williams will attend America SCORES’ Red Carpet Poetry SLAM at the School of the Art Institute Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan Ave., from 5:30 -8:30 pm.
By Deborah Bayliss
Donna Brazile, American author, academic, and political analyst currently serving as Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee will serve as keynote speaker for UIC’s (University of Illinois at Chicago) Black History Month celebration event.
“Donna Brazile was selected by our planning committee who starting meeting in Sept. to discuss the event,” said Carrie Grogan, associate director of UIC’s campus programs. This was a big election year and so we wanted to bring in someone who is politically savvy and her face was all over television so she is very recognizable.”
Brazile will speak at 4 p.m., Feb 19, on the university’s theme for this year’s Black History Month: “Reaching Back, Moving Forward.”
“She likes the openness and she wants to engage students in conversation,” Grogan said.
Grogan said the university as a whole would like to increase its retention of Black students.
“We have a lot of support programs to assist African American students so they can stay in school,” Grogan said. “That’s why Black History month is so important on our campus. We’re hoping for a big turnout of African American students. We want to engage our African American student body. African American students played a big role in planning the event.”
Other event highlights include Dr. Haki Madhubuti, founder and president of Third World Press, and founder of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University, as the featured guest for the event’s Literary Speaker series scheduled for 4 p.m., Feb. 21 in Richard J. Daley Library, Room 1-470.
Feb. 22 is opening night of the stage production of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” which takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the UIC Theatre. Morrison’s first novel adapted for the stage by Lydia Diamond and directed by Derrick Sanders, is a haunting portrait of a young impressionable black girl who believes that to be beautiful in the eyes of others she must have the bluest of blue eyes herself.
Additional show times: 2/22 at 7:30 p.m., 2/23 at 7:30 p.m., 2/24 at 2:00 p.m., 2/27 at 12:00 p.m., 2/28 at 7:30 p.m., 3/1 at 7:30 p.m., 3/2 at 7:30 p.m., and 3/3 and 2:00 p.m.
Also scheduled for Feb. 22 is the 23rd Annual Blues Cabaret featuring “Mississippi Heat” and Fernando Jones. This event takes place at 7 p.m. at the UIC Forum. Tickets: are $25 for the general public, UIC faculty and staff and Alumni. Tickets are $10 UIC Students (1 per student I-card, only available at the door).
A silent auction of items signed by Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Billy Joel will take place to contribute towards a book scholarship for UIC students.
Attendees can download a Black History Month Passport from the Campus Programs Website to participate in the frequent event attendee promotion. Anyone who turns in a passport stamped at five or more Black History Month sponsored events will be entered into a drawing to win a $250 book scholarship!
For more information, please call, (312) 413-5070.
By Deborah Bayliss
When Gimbu Kali, community activist and small business owner, received word that he was tapped to become a Bolozi Wazee/Shule Ya Watoto, the Council of Elders who puts on the annual Kwanzaa observance along with Malcolm X College, he was stunned to say the least.
“I was contacted by one of the elders who asked me to attend a Council of Elders’ meeting,” Kali said. “I thought they’d made a mistake when they told me that I was selected to become an Elder. Almost all of the councilman are about 20 years my senior. I felt funny about being inducted and was humbled none-the-less.”
The minimum age requirement that someone can be “enstooled” or receive one of the highest honors in recognition of outstanding leadership and service is, 56.
“I’m 56 and they felt I was qualified because of my 35 plus years of community activism and that I wouldn’t require the extensive training necessary for the role.” said Gimbu, who, following the induction ceremony will take his place amongst the Council of Elders.
The annual Kwanzaa event, the largest known seven-day celebration in the country, is held publicly at Malcolm X College, 1900 West Van Buren Street Chicago, and takes place from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Dec. 26, 2012 – Jan. 1, 2013.
Baba Nubian Malik, one of the Kwanzaa event organizers said, “Those who attend are in store for a cultural awakening, lively entertainment and a wealth of cultural knowledge and an African market second to none.”
Items available for purchase include food, clothing, books by African and American authors, art, handmade items, soaps and various other wares.
Attracting nearly 2,000 participants last year, the event remains free and open to the public. The Kwanzaa Ceremony begins at noon each day and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, starting with the Kwanzaa Ritual, explanation of the Kwanzaa symbols and principles, and ends with the cultural edutainment and expressions.
The event serves as a link between the past and present and guardians of the culture, tradition, and history of the African people as a way to increase and expand community participation in the practice and understanding of the Kwanzaa ceremony and celebration.
“The atmosphere at our Kwanzaa celebration is very loving and family oriented,” said Malik. “As a committee, we work very hard to ensure that as well as maintain the cultural integrity.”
Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of black studies, based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years, Kwanzaa is a celebration that honors the values of ancient African cultures and inspires African Americans who are working towards progress.
Each of the seven days of celebration, honors seven principles called Nguzo Saba, believed to have been key to building strong, productive families and communities in Africa. During Kwanzaa, celebrants greet each other with “Habari gani,” or “What’s the news?” The principles of Kwanzaa form the answers:
• The Umoja principle instructs that each member of the family and by extension, the community, is constituted by a web of interpersonal relationships. The health and possibilities of the family and community, therefore, is dependent upon the quality of relationship within the family and community.
• Kujichagulia says African Americans, like all people, need shared cultural values, symbols, rituals, and practices in order to give their families and children meaning and value, identity and community.
• Ujima teaches each family member to recognize that their own well-being is derived from their family and their community’s well-being;
• Ujamaa empowers families and communities to come together around their collective economic interest.
• Nia instructs each family member to see him or herself as linked to the larger project of nation building.
• Kuumba demands continuous improvement in personal and family and social matters.
• Imani teaches personal and collective efficacy.
Kristopher Irizarry-Hoeksema, a Hurricane Sandy survivor who lost his home, stood with his friends and business partners outside a west side restaurant on Monday to kick off a Chicago effort to help other victims of the storm that caused immeasurable damage to the East Coast region.
“This idea to help the Sandy victims stems from six people and many organizations,” said Irizarry Hoeksema from the booth of Coco Restaurant, 2723 W. Division Street.
Called Chicago Cares and spear-head by Irizarry-Hoeksema along with his friends and business partners, Nick Dahlheim and Michael Romain, Chicago Cares, is working to relocate Sandy evacuees throughout Chicago south suburbs.
“Chicago Cares is relocating 50 people to homes in South Holland Matteson, Park Forest, Homewood, Thornton,” Irizarry-Hoeksema said.
Irizarry-Hoeksema made the announcement during a press conference held at the restaurant on Dec. 17. He announced also that a benefit will take place at 6 p.m., Dec. 30 at the Laugh Factory’s Chicago location, 3175 N. Broadway.
Comedian Tom Dreesen and Sara Benincasa, who is volunteering her time and talent to the cause will use proceeds from the benefit towards the relocation program at Maryville Academy, 1150 N. River Road, in Desplaines, where, housing arrangements have been made for the fifty displaced families.
“We lost a lot with our New Jersey business office for our tech-startup company, Junto3,” explained Irizarry-Hoeksema.
Others involved with the effort include, Tiffany Csaszar, Adelaid Alfieri and Suzanne Seligman-Wright.
Featured in an online Atlantic City news story, Irizarry-Hoeksema’s lays out how and his service dog Birdy walked three miles from an Atlantic City High School to a Starbucks after the storm to survey damages.
“You just sort of want to see how things are,” Irizarry-Hoeksema was quoted saying in the story. “You intersect with people here. You want to come and see that the places you go are still sort of intact.”
Irizarry-Hoeksema, who is also homeless, suffers from seizures and multiple sclerosis and is among the more than 2,000 people who rode out the storm at offshore shelters.
“I’m living with friends and will remain in the Chicago area,” said Irizarry-Hoeksema. “I was very lucky to get calls for jobs. At our business location in New Jersey, we lost two computers and a hard-drive.”
Romain said though they lost vital information for their tech-startup, the three businessmen figured the best way to help themselves, is to help others.
Irizarry-Hoeksema said Coco, a family style, Mexican restaurant, was chosen to hold the press conference as a way to show diverse communities coming together.
“Nick called us and said this would be a great place to hold the press conference,” said Zaida Munoz, a manager at the restaurant. “We’ll try to always help out with anything that’s going to help others.”
For more information about the group and their efforts, please call, (312) 204 7342.
By Deborah Bayliss
West Side Illinois state Rep. LaShawn K. Ford last Thursday became the latest elected official to be indicted on federal charges.
A grand jury handed down the 17-charge decision that alleges that Ford committed bank fraud and other illegal acts when he received a $500,000 increase and a two year-year extension on a line of credit he transacted with now-defunct ShoreBank. He is also charged with lying about how he would use the money.
Ford, who has represented Illinois’ 8th District since being elected in 2006, will be arraigned at a later date not disclosed by the FBI, which announced the indictment on Nov. 29. The state representative was charged with eight counts of bank fraud and nine counts of submitting false information to the bank.
Ford denies the charges and said publicly that he is “honest” and “hard-working.”
The 40-year-old politician operated Ford Desired Real Estate Inc. and also invested personally in real estate financed through ShoreBank — which is now Urban Partnership Bank.
According to the indictment, Ford had multiple loans with ShoreBank, including a $1 million line of credit that he was to use only to buy and rehab investment property. On May 22, 2006, he obtained a $500,000 increase—to $1.5 million—and a two-year extension of the credit line, allegedly by submitting false tax return documents that inflated his personal and business income.
The federal government contends that on seven different occasions between April 2006 and March 2007, Ford applied for and obtained a total of $373,500 in advances from the credit line, allegedly by making false statements that he intended to use the funds to rehabilitate six different investment properties on the West Side. In each instance, however, Ford allegedly knew that he intended to use some of the funds otherwise.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $832,000.
If convicted, Ford faces up to 30 years in prison for each count and a maximum $1 million fine. He would also face mandatory restitution.
Ford’s indictment came four days before another official was set to begin his trial on federal tax fraud charges. Jury selection began Monday for Cook County Commissioner William Beavers who is accused of not reporting income he got after converting for his person use money from his campaign and county discretionary accounts . Also, Ford’s West Side colleague, indicted state-Rep.-elect Derrick Smith, will be reseated in the Illinois House in January. Smith was indicted in March on federal bribery charges. He was expelled from the House in August but re-elected to his post in November.
The three men join a list of elected officials who recently faced federal charges. Former 29th Ward Ald. Isaac “Ike” Carothers was released in March from federal prison after serving time for 2010 charges of bribery and tax fraud. Former 20th Ward Ald. Arenda Troutman will complete her four-year federal prison sentence later this month after pleading guilty in 2008 to two-counts of bribery.
By Rhonda Gillespie