CHICAGO (AP) – The village clerk of the Chicago suburb of Lynwood has been charged with reckless homicide in the death of a mother of four.
Roel Valle is accused of driving a village car the wrong way along Illinois Highway 394 near Ford Heights on Feb. 4, and slamming into two cars, killing 32-year-old Melikah Little of Chicago. The woman’s husband, Manuel Little, was in the second vehicle struck by the auto allegedly driven by Valle and suffered a leg injury.
The 64-year-old Valle was hospitalized with a broken arm and underwent surgery for a broken femur. He was charged Monday with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol involving death and reckless homicide.
Authorities say Little was in a car driven by 27-year-old of Angelina Jones of Chicago. Authorities say Jones, who was injured, has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
CHICAGO (AP) Grammy-award winning rapper Che “Rhymefest” Smith has made it into a runoff race for a Chicago City Council seat.
With all precincts reporting, the rapper had 20 percent of the vote, trailing incumbent Alderman Willie Cochran, who had 46 percent. Since no candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two advance to the runoff.
The rapper, who’s lived in Chicago for years, vowed to pick up support from three other candidates who did not make the runoff. He had received backing from the city’s powerful Chicago Teachers’ Union. His platform included bringing green business to the 20th Ward on the city’s South Side, which includes some of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago.
Rhymefest won a Grammy in 2004 for co-writing “Jesus Walks” with Kanye West.
NEW YORK (AP) Lena Horne was known for her elegance as much as for her sultry voice.
On Wednesday, 200 items that once filled her Manhattan apartment were being sold by her estate at Doyle New York auction house, objects that epitomized her sophisticated taste: French-style furnishing, elegant costumes, jewellery and fine art.
Many admirers of the singer and actress may find that owning a piece of the legendary star’s belongings may not be out of reach.
A sequined cardigan evening coat is estimated to sell for as little as $100-$200, while a small Louis Vuitton trunk with stickers inscribed Lena Horne Hayton was being offered with a pre-sale price of $500-$700. And a soft leather vanity case inscribed LH was estimated at $200-$400.
Horne’s favorite designer was Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo, and a reversible mink coat by the Italian creator was estimated at $300-$500. A Chanel five-strand choker of gold-tone metal links and faux baroque pearls had a $1,000-$1,200 pre-sale estimate.
The auction house said the estimates were based on current market values but that the celebrity provenance was the “X factor” that would determine the price at auction.
The highest priced item in the sale is a colorful abstract painting by African American artist and muralist Charles Alston, estimated to bring $30,000 to $50,000.
Horne’s refined taste extended to the furnishings in her Upper East Side home. A Rococo-style gilt-metal and glass 12-light chandelier and a pair of Continental Rococo-style gilt wood mirrors are both estimated at $1,500 to $2,500.
Horne, who was also a dancer and civil rights activist, died last May at the age of 92. She appeared on screen, stage, on records and in nightclubs and concert halls. Her signature song was “Stormy Weather” but her vocal range extended from blues and jazz and to such Rodgers and Hart classics as “The Lady Is a Tramp” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.”
In the 1940s, Horne was one of the first black performers hired to sing with a major white band, the first to play the famed Copacabana nightclub in New York City and among a handful with a Hollywood contract.
A striking figure, Horne was the subject of some of the artworks in her collection, including a 1959 portrait by Geoffrey Holder, estimated at $2,500-$3,500, and a 1950 bronze sculpture by Peter Lambda that could bring $3,000-$5,000.
The collection also includes books and photographs, among them a group of books autographed by Langston Hughes ($300-$500) and a selection of contact sheets by Richard Avedon taken during a photo shoot with Horne ($75-$100).
by David Germain
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Liam Neeson has proven himself a known quantity again at the box office.
Neeson’s thriller, “Unknown,” debuted as the No. 1 movie with $21.8 million, following in the footsteps of his 2009 action hit “Taken,” according to studio estimates Sunday.
Another action tale, “I Am Number Four,” opened at No. 2 with $19.5 million.
A Warner Bros. release, “Unknown” stars Neeson as a botanist who awakens from a coma to find his wife claims she does not know him and that another man has taken his identity.
DreamWorks’ “I Am Number Four” stars Alex Pettyfer as a teenage alien refugee on Earth who develops superpowers to battle the evil invaders that destroyed his planet. It was the first DreamWorks movie released under the company’s distribution deal with Disney.
While “I Am Number Four” held youth appeal, “Unknown” was a rare No. 1 film that did most of its business among older crowds. According to Warner, 54 percent of the movie’s audience was 50 and over and 89 percent was 25 and over.
The 58-year-old Neeson has had action roles before but found unexpected success as an all-out action hero with “Taken,” a $100 million hit.
“He’s the new man. He’s stepped up to the plate. Put him in the right role and he’s every man’s action star,” said Dan Fellman, head of distribution at Warner.
by Zachary Colman
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – With more Illinois children falling into poverty, investing in early childhood education today could save the state millions of dollars in the future, an advocacy group said Thursday.
Voices for Illinois Children acknowledged the state has a huge budget deficit and is cutting many programs. But the group’s president, former state lawmaker Kathy Ryg, said services for children in fourth grade and below should be spared from budget cuts if the state wants to prevent a drain on social services when the children are older.
Children from low-income families made up 45 percent of public school enrollment in fall 2009 _ up from 37 percent a decade ago, the group said. In some large districts, low-income enrollment tops 70 percent. Voices said the recession has driven up poverty dramatically. In Illinois, the child poverty rate jumped from 17 percent in 2008 to 19 percent in 2009, the highest since 1993.
The group said about 5,000 fewer children participated in pre-kindergarten programs because of spending cuts in the last fiscal year. Enrollment is expected to drop further this year, it said.
Other programs, such as the Summer Bridges program for underachieving children in low-performing schools and the Children’s Mental Health Partnership, also could be cut.
“The proven, effective program that we know works to prepare children for being ready to learn when they go to school is at risk because we’re unable to pay our bills,” Ryg said at a news conference at the Statehouse. “We know it’s far more effective for the state to assist children while they’re still young.”
Ryg said the consequences are clear: Poor children do worse in school, have a greater chance of getting into legal trouble and are more likely to rely on social services as adults.
Less than half of low-income students scored at the “basic” level of reading skills in fourth-grade testing, while 80 percent of other students reached that benchmark, she said, adding that poverty was at least partly responsible for lower test scores among minority students.
Advocates said there are some inexpensive ways to improve early childhood education.
Decatur Public Schools superintendent Gloria Davis said her district has taken a community approach to early childhood education by giving churches, pre-schools and social service groups a common mission, often beginning when children are 3. She said 68 percent of children in her district live in poverty, and minorities make up more than half the district.
Davis said educators need to address students’ individual needs much earlier. She said the difference in reading and speaking levels between children once they hit age 3 or 4 can sometimes be so drastic that a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective.
“Once we know those needs, then we need to educate for those needs,” Davis said. “We usually don’t start to look at those needs as critically as we should until maybe kindergarten.”
by Susan Langenhennig
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A year after leaving her job as White House social secretary, Desiree Rogers is back on the party-hosting circuit, this time with a new agenda.
Rogers in August was named chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing Co., owner of Ebony and Jet magazines and Fashion Fair cosmetics. As the new public face of the brands, the New Orleans native has been hosting cocktail receptions, dinner parties and events in New York, Chicago and New Orleans, clinking glasses and creating buzz for the magazines and for a new Ebony Fashion Fair retrospective clothing exhibit at Macy’s stores.
“Who knew my time at the White House would prepare me to take on this role?” said Rogers, who left Washington last February with a track record filled with both successes (the much-praised White House music series) and scandals (wannabe reality TV stars crashing a state dinner).
On the phone one recent afternoon from Johnson headquarters in snowed-in Chicago, Rogers called her new position a “perfect fit.”
“I enjoy business and the creative process involved in the magazines and, of course, the social aspect. And I’m getting to do it with my best friend.”
Johnson Publishing, the nation’s largest African-American-owned media company, was founded by John Johnson in 1942. His daughter and Rogers’ friend, Linda Johnson Rice, is chairwoman.
The Macy’s exhibit, “For the Love of Color,” honors the legacy of Rice’s mother, Eunice Johnson, founder of the Ebony Fashion Fair, a series of traveling runway shows. The exhibit, which has been on display since Thursday at the Macy’s at Lakeside Shopping Center, closes Monday.
Eunice Johnson, who died last year at 93, moved in elite fashion circles. Rogers does as well.
A striking, 5-foot-10-inch woman, Rogers, 51, is a regular at New York Fashion Week. Since leaving the White House, she’s been spotted, gabbing on the front row with Vogue editor Anna Wintour, having dinner with the model Iman and hugging Calvin Klein creative director Francisco Costa.
In her Galliano gowns and Chanel heels, her designer wardrobe was much chewed over in the blue-suited Beltway. Robin Givhan, The Washington Post’s former fashion critic, even pondered whether Rogers’ friendships with fashion insiders made her a target.
“Fashion’s myth-makers certainly did their part in shaping the outsize reputation that left Rogers open to criticism within the Beltway,” Givhan wrote last spring. “Indeed, as news of Rogers’ exit reached the American fashion establishment, which was convened in Milan for the fall 2010 collections, some editors began to ask: Did we cause this?”
But such criticism and hand-wringing now seem as tired as an old dress pushed to the back of a closet. In her new role, Rogers’ friendships could turn into advantages.
Take the collaboration with Macy’s. Rogers hopes the exhibit, filled with fancy frocks from the 1950s to contemporary times, will introduce Ebony to younger readers who didn’t grow up with the whirl of the Fashion Fairs. The traveling runway shows were annual highlights of social calendars for more than half a century, raising more than $55 million for charity.
With the exhibit, “we’ve had tremendous excitement from young fashionistas who maybe didn’t have an understanding of Eunice Johnson and what she did for women,” Rogers said.
“It’s a way to create new interest.”
Rogers, herself, generates plenty of interest. A past Zulu queen and the daughter of former New Orleans City Councilman Roy Glapion and Joyce Glapion, Rogers is a celebrity as well as a serious businesswoman, with a Harvard MBA and a resume that includes a former office in the East Wing of the White House.
Growing up in New Orleans’ 7th Ward, Rogers graduated from the Academy of Sacred Heart, went to Wellesley College and then Harvard University business school.
After graduate school, she moved to Chicago, where she held top executive positions with the Illinois lottery and utility companies. Moving in business circles, she became friends with a Chicago power couple, Michelle and Barack Obama.
When the Obamas moved to Washington, Rogers was tapped as the first African-American to hold the post of social secretary at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Right away, she shook things up. For an early term sit-down dinner for the nation’s governors, Rogers booked the band Earth, Wind and Fire. For an Easter egg hunt, she scheduled Fergie and Ziggy Marley.
Quickly, she was getting almost as many headlines as her events. Looking back on her tenure in the East Wing, CNN anchor Don Lemon dubbed her “the most famous White House social secretary ever.”
In her 14 months in Washington, Rogers’ office hosted 350 events, including the ill-fated state dinner that was crashed by Virginia socialites. Though the Secret Service took responsibility for the botched security, she eventually resigned from her job
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.’’