by Lesley R. Chinn
The U.S. Labor Department just added 162,000 jobs in March but the national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.7 percent.
These numbers come right before the Illinois Department of Employment Security is scheduled to release its unemployment figures for March on April 15.
Illinois’ current unemployment rate from February stands at 11.4 percent, which is higher than the national average. “The rate clearly reflects the national breath of the national recession, which has put a stubborn hold on unemployment,” said IDES spokesman Greg Rivara.
The percentage was a slight increase from January’s rate at 11.2 percent. However, Rivara said the monthly increases in Illinois appear to be slowing down. “The slowing job loss is potentially a positive, but we need a few more months of data to [assess] where Illinois is in recovery,” Rivara said.
Currently as of February 2010, the IDES reported that 758,100 unemployed people in Illinois. Data provided by the IDES showed that the state had a total of more than 5.6 million non-farm jobs, which was down from 192,200 from the same month a year ago. Nearly every sector experienced a hit, except for educational and health services, which showed a gain of 14,900 jobs from last year. Manufacturing jobs were down 55,300; professional and business services were down 36,300 and construction jobs were down 35,400 since February 2009. Since the recession began in December 2007, the nation has lost 8.4 million jobs. At that time, Illinois has lost 403,600 jobs.
Meanwhile, IDES data showed that Lake County had an unemployment rate of 13.4 percent in January; followed by Cook County with an unemployment rate of 11.7 percent in January; Kane County and Will County tied at 12.3 percent; and DuPage with an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent.
The unemployment rate identifies those who are out of work and seeking employment, regardless if they are eligible for unemployment insurance. “If an individual has not taken the steps to improve their skills since 2007 they are going to be ill-prepared to re-enter the workforce in 2010,” Rivera contends.
by Lesley R. Chinn
Education and economic empowerment go hand-in-hand and that was the focus of a spring summit hosted last Thursday by the Chicago Urban League at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
The Urban League gathered together economic, education, business leaders, and concerned citizens to discuss how working together, the city and region can advocate for quality education for children, return more people to the workforce, and secure more business opportunities for minority-owned companies. The summit was presented by National City, now part of PNC.
PNC, which was previously known as the Pittsburgh National Corporation, began as the Pittsburgh Trust and Savings Company in 1852 before it merged with the Philadelphia-based Provident National Corporation in 1982.
The summit began with a State of Urban Chicago address by interim president/CEO Herman Brewer who said that while the collapse of the financial system has had a devastating impact on minority communities, they may never recover if action isn’t taken to help improve conditions. “Some neighborhoods on the South and West sides of Chicago have become modern day tragedies born out of the disappearance of education and economic opportunity. This harsh reality brings us here to participate in dialogue and find tangible solutions to alleviate the suffering, and improve the fortunes of everyone,” Brewer said.
As the Chicago Urban League’s education funding lawsuit progresses, Brewer unveiled the organization’s new education policy recommendations. The publication—Opportunity Compact: Education 2010: A New Blueprint for Communities and Schools—calls on the state’s public education funding structure to be targeted to support four priorities. They include increasing expectations for students; ensuring schools get quality teachers and learning; family engagement in learning, and ensuring quality early childhood education.
After the “State of Urban Chicago” address, a CEO roundtable and breakout sessions were held to discuss strengthening the link between a quality education and economic empowerment and to address challenges in school funding, barriers to minority participation in professional services, and the job outlook for 2010 and beyond.
by Lesley R. Chinn
A local Black entrepreneur said he hopes an African leader’s trip to the United States will be part of a mission to encourage more United States companies to do business in Zimbabwe.
Last Saturday, Dr. Willie Wilson introduced Zimbabwe Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Arthur Mutambara to numerous political, community, business and religious leaders during a reception in his honor at New Covenant M.B. Church, 77th and Cottage Grove.
Wilson said he met Dr. Mutambara when he went to Zimbabwe recently to discuss a possible business opportunity through his company, Omar Medical Supplies, Inc. The company, which is based in University Park, specializes in manufacturing three billion disposable gloves annually. Some of those products have been shipped to China and now he wants to do business in Zimbabwe. “We just got a purchase order over there two weeks ago and we should be shipping a product out within the next 60 to 90 days. We’re the only the company doing business in Zimbabwe,” Wilson stated.
Relations between the United States and Zimbabwe have currently been strained over Western criticism of embattled President Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe also has a 95 percent unemployment rate, according to The Central Intelligence Agency’s World Fact Book. That figure is about 10 times higher than the United States’ unemployment rate.
“We need to go to [Zimbabwe] and create manufacturing [opportunities] to help create some jobs because the businesses over there have been taking money out of the community and not putting it back to create jobs,” Wilson stated.
In February 2009, Dr. Mutambara emerged as Deputy Prime Minister following a power-sharing arrangement in September 2008 between the Movement for Democratic Change and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) that kept Mugabe as President and Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister.
Mutambara, who is an Oxford University doctoral graduate, is no stranger to Chicago after having worked from 2001 to 2003 at a management consulting firm McKinsey & Company where he provided strategic advice to senior managers and business leaders of top companies in the United States in sectors that included manufacturing, technology, telecommunications, and agriculture.
Wilson invited former U.S. Congressman Mel Reynolds (D-2) to introduce Mutambara to make his keynote address before the public. In pointing out that there are 1.2 billion individuals of African descent worldwide, Mutambara stated that “We’ll never be successful in Africa unless Africans in Chicago are doing well,” Mutambara stated.
By Lesley R. Chinn
Combating major issues such as violence was among many themes highlighted during an anti-violence summit held last Saturday at Malcolm X College.
High school students and their parents participated in a “Cease the Silence” Day of Service organized by the Student National Medical Association (SNMA). The SNMA teamed up with Rush Medical College and the Chicago Public Schools to bring attention to tackling issues impacting low-income communities.
The summit kicked off in the auditorium with a panel discussion featuring guest speakers that included Terry Peterson, director of Government Affairs at Rush University Medical Center; Michael Shields of the Chicago Public Schools; Tio Hardimon, director of CeaseFire Illinois; Judge Carl Walker; James B. Jackson, assistant superintendent of operations for the Chicago Police Department, 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti; and Sue Moehn Hoen, a domestic violence specialist at the Jane Hull Addams Hull House. The speakers encouraged the students to make good life choices.
The event continued with medical students nationwide speaking with high school students overcoming challenges to become successful in the medical field and the role they can play in stopping the violence.
High school students also had the opportunity to participate in discussions and activities with Steven Jackson and Michael Nolan of R.I.T.E. (Reentry Initiative Through Entrepreneurship), the Chicago Police Department, and SNMA members. The presenters warned students about peer pressure, encouraged them to succeed, and told them to stay away from drugs, gangs, violence, and out of prison. Children ages 13 and under participated in safety presentations by the Chicago Police Department and the Berwyn Police Department.
A number of vendors were available on campus featuring groups such as the Boys and Girls Club which provided information about after-school and summer activities, job opportunities and additional anti-violence resources.
Throughout the day, students and faculty from Rush University performed health screenings for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer while the Chicago House provided HIV/AIDS tests and counseling. The National Marrow Donor Program and the University of Chicago Emergency Medicine Residency Program educated the community on the need for minority marrow donors and encouraged individuals to sign up to become donors.
While the goal of the event centered around health and anti-violence, the day also offered lots of fun and educational activities for children ages 6 and up, including Zumba dance lessons, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, an anti-violence art corner, and a nutrition and fitness boot camp.
by Lesley R. Chinn
Hundreds joined Eighth Ward Ald. Michelle Harris and Mayor Richard M. Daley recently in the official grand opening of a new senior development in the Avalon Park community.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the celebration of the newly constructed Montclare Senior Apartments of Avalon Park located on 1200 E. 78th St.
The seven-story facility, which houses a total of 102 affordable units, includes amenities such as a laundry room, a beauty salon, and a doctor’s office. The 430-plus square feet apartments are available to senior citizens earning at or below 60 percent of area median income. Thirteen of the units are reserved for senior citizens earning no more than 30 percent of the area median income. The rents range from $168 to $700 a month.
“Chicago’s senior population is growing and we are continuing to make important investments to provide safe, affordable housing for them. Developments like these offer another option for seniors who want to remain a vibrant part of their community surrounded by the support and services necessary to lead healthy and active lives,” Daley stated.
The city donated the vacant land valued at $1.5 million, invested $6 million in loans, $1 million in tax credits that generated over $9.3 million in equity and $650,000 from the Chicago Low Income Housing’s Trust Fund. The project also received $1.9 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Assistance and $1 million from the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s Trust Fund.
The developer for the 90,000 square foot building is Avalon Park Phase I LLC. MR Properties manages the facility. Phase Two, which begins next year, will include the construction of more than 120 units. For leasing information, call Montclare Senior Residences at (773) 933-9000 or visit: www.TheMontclare. com.
by Lesley R. Chinn
If the Supreme Court decides to overturn a 28-year-old gun ban in Chicago after hearing McDonald v. Chicago, Morgan Park resident Otis McDonald said he thinks it would lead to a decrease in homicides because people would think before they act.
McDonald, whose life was previously threatened with violence, is the lead plaintiff in the McDonald case. According to him, the hand gun ban is not working. “If law-abiding citizens could have handguns, a robber in the streets will have something to think about when he gets ready to [kill someone],” McDonald stated.
Petitioners in this case want the Supreme Court to extend federal protections of the Bill of Rights—including the Second Amendment—to all 50 states. McDonald v. Chicago is a follow-up to the 2008 Supreme Court ruling of District of Columbia v. Heller, which reversed a handgun ban in Washington, D.C., which allowed individuals to “keep and bear” arms. Before the Supreme Court heard the gun rights case McDonald v. last Tuesday, the city recorded 458 murders last year, in which 81 percent involved firearms, according to the Chicago Police Department Research and Development Division.
The city included stats from the 4th Police District, which includes Calumet Heights with a total of 41 murders. The 6th District Police, which includes Auburn Gresham, reported 35 murders while the 7th Police District, which includes Englewood and West Englewood, had 45 murders. Twenty-one murders were reported in the 5th Police District, which includes Roseland, Pullman, West Pullman and a Chicago suburb of Riverdale. Nineteen murders were reported in the 22nd Police District, which includes Morgan Park and Washington Heights.
The South side has already experienced its fair share of gun violence cutting short the lives of 18-year-old Terrell Bosley; 16-year-old Blair Holt, and two Englewood youth Starkesia Reed and Siretha White.
Mayor Richard M. Daley warned that overturning the city’s gun ban could result in jeopardizing the public’s safety. “How many more of our children, our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers must needlessly die because guns are too easily available in our society today?” he stated.
When asked about the impact of McDonald v. City of Chicago on crime-ridden communities in the Chicagoland area, Atty. Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel to the Washington, D.C.-based Constitutional Accountability Center, said that would be an answer for the courts to decide. Right now, she said she doesn’t believe the case gives a definite answer to which gun regulations would be permissible if the Second Amendment is enacted against the states. Wydra noted that after the D.C. ruling, the D.C. Council replaced its ban with regulations that require gun owners to receive five hours of safety training, register their firearms every three years and face criminal background checks every six years. “Cities would have to go through a process of enacting permissible regulations that will still be constitutional,” she contends.
Although a decision is not expected until June, Adam Samaha, a professor of law at the University of Chicago, predicted the possibility of the courts using the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment. “Any rights used in the privileges and immunities clause will only apply to U.S. citizens and not immigrants,” he explained. “Opening up the privileges and immunities clause would open up a host of additional issues and lead to fundamental changes in constitutional law.”
Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois Rifle Association, said the courts are mostly likely to favor overturning the ban. “Chicago’s gun ban has been illegal for years. It discriminates against law-abiding citizens and lets criminals run free,” he stated. “Law abiding citizens can’t defend themselves in their own home.”
Jennifer Hoyle, a spokesman for the city’s law department, disagreed. “Individuals can still legally possess long-barreled rifles and shotguns as long as those guns are properly registered with the Chicago Police Department. For that reason, it’s not impossible for law-abiding citizens to own guns to protect their families. It’s simply illegal for them to own handguns,” Hoyle said.
End-stage renal disease will become the main cause of death over the next two decades, according to the World Health Organization while racial minorities, particularly Blacks, are disproportionately affected by kidney disease, accounting for 32 percent of patients with the illness in America. Raising awareness among high-risk populations affected by chronic kidney disease with information on transplantation, in particular through living donors, is a consortium of doctors, community-based health providers, transplant and communications professionals. Recently, they made a stop on Chicago’s South side to talk about reducing wait times for a healthy kidney, getting an organ from a healthy live donor and what donors can generally expect.
Enhancing Life through Transplantation
by Lesley R. Chinn
If a dialysis patient is suffering from chronic kidney disease, organ transplantation may be another lifesaving option.
During a kickoff awareness campaign at Chicago State University last week, the Kidney Informational Consortium (KIC) armed the audience with information about how dialysis patients can enhance their lives through transplantation from living donors.
Dr. Paul Crawford, a partner at Associates in Nephrology in Chicago and KIC spokesman, said “far too many people impacted by chronic kidney disease in communities of color are spending excessive periods receiving kidney dialysis treatment.”
A U.S. Renal Data System report found that 37 percent of Blacks nationwide are on dialysis while 19 percent only make up organ transplants.
Dr. Amy Waterman, a Washington University medical school professor, noted that in five years, only 35 percent of patients who begin dialysis are still alive but added that with a transplant, the chances of survival increases from about 70 to 80 percent. Waterman is also creator of the St. Louis-based Explore Transplant program, which is designed to educate patients and providers about the medical option of transplantation. She pointed out that minorities on dialysis are less likely to receive information about organ transplants. “Everyone needs to make an informed choice early while having the life-saving option of dialysis… so that no one is left out,” Waterman stated.
As part of the KIC’s initiative to raise awareness, the group also plans to document the lives of individuals like Citizen Newspapers publisher William Garth, who has been on dialysis for three years and just recently received news about being placed on a kidney transplant list.
“Transplantation is a better viable option as opposed to being hooked up to a machine [because] dialysis patients spend so much time being devoted to a machine that they often have barriers that prevent them from living their lives like they want to,” said Paul Davis, president of First Trace Communications.
BY: Leslie R Chinn
On Friday, February 19, prominent dignitaries and community leaders will convene at the Citizen Newspapers at a reception to officially unveil a street sign named in honor of Citizen Newspaper Group Inc. CEO William Garth Sr.
The street, “William Garth Sr. Avenue” was named in recognition of Garth’s many accomplishments including his work in the community and civic contributions. The sign is located between 77th and 78th Streets on Cottage Grove. It was previously approved by Chicago’s City Council last fall.
Garth, who is the only living Black publisher in Chicago who has had a street named after him, is also Chairman of the Quentis B. Garth Foundation.
Having started with the Citizen Newspaper in 1969 as an advertising sales representative under the leadership of former Congressman Gus Savage, he purchased the Chatham Citizen, Southend Citizen and Chicago Weekend in 1980. Garth later added the South Suburban and the Hyde Park editions, and founded Garthco Publications, which published PUSH Magazine, a bi-monthly national publication. With Chicago’s population being nearly 50% Black, the Citizen has effectively reached this market. Citizen Newspapers has a total circulation of 121,000 and a weekly readership of over 400,000. The circulation areas cover Chicago’s South and West sides as well as the South Suburbs.
As a tribute to his business acumen, Garth became the first Black person to be elected President of the Illinois Press Association (IPA). The IPA is the state’s largest newspaper association and the office trade organization for Illinois’ weekly and daily newspapers. Garth is the second Black person in the nation elected president of a statewide press association. He currently sits on the Board of Government Affairs Committee, of the Illinois Press Association and has served as a board member for more than 15 years. In addition, he was elected a stockholder in the Cook County South Suburban Publishers Association and in 2009, was elected to become Chairman of the Cook County Publishers Association for 2010. Although he resigned from the position, his business savvy and knowledge in the publishing industry allowed him to also serve as Chairman of the Midwest Black Publishers Association. In December 1998, Garth received the honor of being appointed to Governor-elect George Ryan’s Transition Team and was later appointed to the Board of Directors for the Illinois Inauguration 1998, Inc.
In 1995, Garth founded the Quentis Bernard Garth (Q.B.G.) Foundation in memory of his youngest son, Quentis B.
Garth, of which he is chairman. The Q.B.G. Foundation provides scholarships to the disenfranchised, inner city youths in the Chicagoland area. To date, the Foundation has helped over 49 students and has disbursed over $1million in scholarship awards. A dedicated activist and leader in the business community, Garth maintains memberships and positions with several business organizations. He is Chairman of the Chatham Business Association, former President of Midwest Region III of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), Region III Advertising Representative with the NNPA, Transition Team for IDOT -Dan Ryan Project, board member of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, a life-time member of the NAACP and a member of the Chatham Lions Club. Garth has been the recipient of numerous local and national awards and honors; one of such honor bestowed upon him was to carry the torch in Chicago during the 2002 Olympic Torch Relay. These awards have become trademarks of his extraordinary character and commitment to the Black community.
By Lesley R. Chinn
Although a peaceful demonstration was called off last Wednesday at the Chicago First Temple United Building, 77 W. Washington, it didn’t stop parishioners from St. Mark United Methodist Church in Chatham from requesting that Bishop Hee-Soo Jung of the Northern Illinois Methodist Church reappoint Rev. Jon McCoy as senior pastor.
Currently, the question of McCoy’s reappointment remains in the air among St. Mark parishioners. Initially, members who were not pleased that Jung had not returned the church’s phone calls, letters, emails or visits regarding McCoy’s appointment, planned to host a peaceful demonstration outside the Temple for lack of a response from the Bishop. But after later learning that Jung had reached out to them, parishioners agreed to meet in the near future to discuss McCoy’s reappointment.
“We’re satisfied that [the Bishop] responded to us…We’re looking forward to a meeting in the near future,” said Rudy Smith, chairman of St. Mark’s Church Council.
Before becoming senior pastor about five years ago, McCoy began his tenure with St. Mark as an assistant pastor from 1997 to 2000. In the last five years under McCoy’s leadership, the church has grown tremendously with programs such as its martial arts program, soup kitchen, and young adults’ ministry. Based on these accomplishments alone, Smith, said removing McCoy would be “bad timing.”
But removing pastors, when members don’t agree or when it may not be in the best interest of the church, community and members, isn’t just an issue at St. Mark. The issue has occurred before in other churches among different denominations and can spell out controversy when it happens.
A similar scenario occurred when Father Michael Pfleger, who has served as Saint Sabina Church’s pastor since 1981 had his tenure threatened in 2001 when Cardinal St. Francis George had plans not to renew his third-six year term. The standard tenure for pastors in the archdiocese is two six year terms. Despite these efforts to oust him, Pfleger has remained at the predominately African-American church on the South side for 29 years where he has been applauded for doing great things both in the church and in the community.
“Any church or system where there is potential to remove a priest or pastor doesn’t make sense regardless of the racial dynamics especially if that person is still effective in the community,” Nyshana Sumner, chairman of St. Mark’s Staff Relations Committee maintains. She said she doesn’t know if the Conference knows what effect removing a pastor can have on the Black community.
Mark Kuzma, a spokesman for the Northern Illinois Conference, United Methodist Church, said the organization is proud of St. Mark’s work in the community. “St. Mark UMC is a positive environment for children and youth, who desperately need safe places where they can be encouraged and molded to become the leaders of today and tomorrow…St. Mark has also been blessed for decades with many talented, dedicated clergy leaders – men and women, who have served faithfully and [who] have helped people from all walks of life experience the love of God in worship and in community,” he said.
“Bishop Jung has heard the concerns of the congregation of St. Mark United Methodist Church and is considering them as part of the process,” Kuzma added. “The Bishop is putting the appointment on hold pending further discussion and discernment…St. Mark UMC is a faithful and thriving congregation in Chatham that has been making disciples of Jesus Christ since the 1890s,” he said.
While the racial and ethnic makeup of the Northern Illinois Conference, United Methodist Church is 85.88 percent White; 8.65 percent African- American; 3.58 percent Asian; 1.47 Hispanic; and less than 1 percent multi-racial, based on data provided by the conference, St. Mark United Methodist Church, has played an historic role in ending segregation of United Methodist Churches and has an estimated population of more than 2,000 members. It is one of the largest African-American churches in the Northern Illinois Conference, United Methodist Church.
Kuzma explained that clergy serve in an itinerant system and pastoral changes, “are never made lightly or frivolously.” According to him, clergy are appointed to a local church by the Bishop (every five years). New appointments are offered to clergy and they are given time “to pray and consider the new opportunity.” Last year, he said about 20 percent of the conferences clergy were appointed to new assignments.
But Sumner said the process for removing pastors needs to be reexamined and updated. “Parishioners need to be made aware and comfortable with the decisions so that no one is blind-sided,” she said. “We become a lot more attached to our pastors in regards to their involvement that’s larger than spirituality,” Sumner stated who added there have been pastors that have been at churches for 10 or 15 years. “[Before] decisions as it relates to churches in the Black community are made, [the Conference] needs to make sure that they are in touch with what goes in the African-American community,” she stated.
By Lesley R. Chinn
As the world begins to focus its attention on the Winter Olympics in Vancouver next month, Chicago State University has added its own Olympic talent to its athletic department.
CSU recently recruited former Olympic long jump record holder Bob Beamon as as associate athletic director. His 1968 feat in the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City stood as a world record for 23 years. The school’s new women’s track and field and cross-country coach is Diana Muhammad, South side native, who competed in the Olympics in 1980 and 1984. They both came on board at CSU this past fall.
CSU athletic director Sudie Davis envisions a new department with the addition of Muhammad and Beamon. He said hiring the two will help CSU add more weight to the athletics department program as it competes for “greater acheivement in the NCAA Division I and the Great West Conference” while promoting “outstanding academic success.”
Davis has known Beamon, who previously served as director of athletic development at Florida Atlantic University, for 30 years. they both worked together on the South Florida Inner-City Games, an event that also involved now California Gov. Arnold Scwarzenegger.
Davis said Beamon is a “good fit for the administration” because with his status he can help raise money for the school.
Giving back to the students is what Beamon said interests him the most. “We want them to have a good four years so they can be competitive in the world,” Beamon stated.
Davis once coached Muhammad, who competed in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes as well as the 4-by-100 meter relay, during her days with the Chicago Zephyrs Club.
“To see her come back is phenomenal,” Davis stated. “I really like her demeanor and and how she deals with young people.”
Meeting an Olympian is something new for students, but Muhammad hopes to
draw from her experience as a world-class athlete to educate and inspire them. “I am encouraged to meet with the team because they are on top of their studies,” she stated. “Athletics is one thing and academics is another and if an athlete can’t compete, inspiring them to get a degree is more important [to me],” she stated.
Davis is excited that students will get a chance to interact with former Olympians who have moved on after their athletic careers. “People like Diana and Bob have that special touch because they’ve been there and the two will bring a breath of fresh air at CSU [as] we plan to take athletics and academics…to the next level,” he stated.