by Thelma Sardin
Chicago’s mayoral contest has shown no plans of slowing down. With less than twenty days left until the election, candidates are canvassing for undecided voters and hoping to sway a few of them to their side. Mayoral hopefuls squared off on Sunday in a confrontation that got personal between two of the only African-American female candidates.
Mayoral candidate Dr. Patricia Watkins is calling for an apology from fellow candidate Carol Moseley Braun. During a mayoral candidate forum at Trinity United Church of Christ, Braun accused Watkins of using crack when Watkins asked Braun about not being visible in Chicago’s communities for the last twenty years.
Braun, whose brother died from drug and alcohol abuse in 1986 according to a report in the Chicago Sun-times, could have touched a nerve with other voters who have shared similar experiences to that of Watkins.
Watkins, who said she has been clean for more than 30 years admitted to using cocaine when she was 19, but said she has never used crack. She earned a Ph.D. and now runs a church and ministers in the community.
“I don’t expect an apology from ambassador Braun but I do expect her to apologize to the millions of people who have struggled with addiction,” Watkins said during a press conference on Monday. “This incident has definitely said more about her character than mine. It also sheds some light on her previous voting record.”
This isn’t the first time that an issue regarding substance abuse has come up in a campaign where Braun was a candidate. During her 2004 U.S. Presidential run, Braun participated in a CNN forum with seven Democratic candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination. The forum’s moderator, Anderson Cooper asked the candidates, “Which of you are willing to admit having used marijuana in the past?” The LA Times reported that Braun refused to answer the question.
When asked about the LA Times report and Braun’s refusal to answer the question back in 2004, Braun’s spokesperson, Renee Ferguson, did not respond by press time. But in a statement issued through Ferguson and reported by the Chicago Tribune, Braun said, “My comments were not meant to offend those who have struggled with drug addiction.” She added, “And especially not those who have turned their lives around.”
Watkins says her role in the confrontation was not negative. “I simply asked where she had been for the last 20 years? Her response was hurtful and uncalled for,” she stated in an e-mail to the Citizen. She added, since the remarks, “I have received overwhelming support from many caring Chicagoans,” Watkins stated.
The exchange gained the attention of columnists across the city and became the focus of news reports including Chicago Sun-times columnist Mary Mitchell who said, “Instead of joining forces to keep Emanuel from gaining the mayoral office without a runoff, these two Black candidates are battling each other.”
Rahm Emanuel, who is ahead of both contestants, ironically was not present at the forum. On Thursday, he received a favorable nod from the Illinois Supreme Court which held that he could run for mayor of Chicago.
“The good news is now that we have the Supreme Court decision, it’s behind us,” he said during a debate at WGN-TV. “Hopefully this will be the last question about it for all of us, including myself,” Emanuel stated.
Lisette Livingston contributed to this report
by Lisette Livingston
Black employees subjected to nooses, racist graffiti, and adverse working conditions, EEOC alleged
CHICAGO – Federal Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox has granted preliminary approval to a $10 million, five-year consent decree which will end the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) race harassment and discrimination lawsuit against Roadway Express and YRC, Inc. In addition to the multi-million-dollar monetary relief, the decree enjoins future discrimination at the facilities and requires the appointment of a monitor to oversee its implementation.
In its suit, the EEOC alleged that the company subjected black employees at its Chicago Heights, Ill., and Elk Grove Village, Ill., facilities to a racially hostile working environment and racial discrimination in terms and conditions of employment. Roadway Express operated the facilities until its merger with Yellow Transportation, when the two companies combined operations to form YRC, Inc., in October 2008. It is now the nation’s largest less-than-truckload freight hauling company.
“It is dispiriting that the severe racial stereotyping and harassment alleged in this case continues to be a problem,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “This settlement embodies the agency’s 45-year struggle against this scourge on the American workplace.”
The EEOC was set to try this case before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on October 12, 2010. The EEOC was prepared to present evidence that black employees were subjected to multiple incidents of hangman’s nooses, racist graffiti and racist comments, and racist cartoons. The EEOC also planned to present evidence that Roadway and YRC subjected black employees to harsher discipline and scrutiny than their white counterparts and gave more difficult and time-consuming work assignments to black employees than white employees. According to the EEOC, black employees had complained about a these conditions over the years, but effective corrective action was not taken.
“No one should have to endure degrading racial harassment in order to earn a living,” said P. David Lopez, General Counsel of the EEOC. “The EEOC is committed to ensuring that all employees have the opportunity to put in an honest day’s work free from discrimination.” Lopez noted that this consent decree is the latest in a series of large race harassment suits that the agency has resolved recently, including suits against roofing contractor Elmer W. Davis ($1 million), home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool ($1 million), national grocery chain Albertson’s ($8.9 million), and the Bahama Breeze restaurant chain ($1.3 million).
In addition to the payment of the $10 million, the consent decree enjoins YRC from engaging in discrimination because of race and from retaliating against individuals who complain about racial discrimination; requires the development of revised anti-harassment policies; specific record keeping and reporting of complaints; and annual anti-harassment training. The decree also requires YRC to retain consultants to examine the company’s discipline and work assignment procedures and recommend changes to prevent racial disparities. Finally, the decree requires the appointment of a monitor to oversee the company’s response to complaints and to report on the company’s compliance with the decree. The monitor will report semi-annually to the court and to the EEOC.
The consent decree, which was preliminarily approved by Magistrate Judge Cox yesterday, covers over 300 African-American employees who worked at the Chicago Heights and Elk Grove Village facilities as dockworkers and janitors from March 2002 to the present. Eligible claimants will be invited to participate in a claims process over the coming months. At the conclusion of the claims process, the decree and distribution schedule will be submitted to Magistrate Judge Cox for final approval.
The consent decree resolves three lawsuits that were to be tried together: the suit against the Chicago Heights facility (EEOC v. Roadway Express and YRC, N.D. Ill. No. 06 C 4805), and against the Elk Grove Village facility (EEOC v. Roadway Express and YRC, N.D. Ill. No. 08 C5555), brought by the EEOC under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race discrimination. In addition, 10 current and former employees intervened in the EEOC action (10 C5304). The EEOC filed another race discrimination suit against YRC which is still in litigation (EEOC v. Yellow Transportation, Inc. and YRC, Inc. No. 09 CV 7693).
EEOC Chicago District Regional Attorney John Hendrickson said, “This consent decree is an important marker on the road to civil rights on the job. Unfortunately, the American workplace is not free from the racist symbolism of the hangman’s noose or the persistent sting of racist graffiti. But we are moving in a better direction, and we are hopeful that this decree will aid YRC in addressing these problems.” In addition to Hendrickson, the EEOC was represented by Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory Gochanour and Trial Attorneys Richard Mrizek, Ethan Cohen, and Deborah Hamilton. The Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
By Shanita Bigelow and Lisette Livingston
Black history is inextricably tied to world history. The first man was African and the first civilizations African, says Cheikh Anta Diop, historian, anthropologist, physicist and politician who studied the human race’s origins and pre-colonial African culture. The oldest hominid or human-like remains—among them a 6 million year-old skull—have been found in Kenya, Chad and Ethiopia.
When you think about Black History, you can’t ignore the Black origin of life and the legacies which started there, including the skeletal remains of “Lucy” dating back to 3.2 million years ago, discovered in Ethiopia in 1974.
Lucy’s discovery has been eclipsed by the discovery of Ardi (Ardipithecus ramidus), the 4.4 million year-old remains, fully unearthed just this past year. These are pieces to the puzzle of Black existence, and clearly portray Africa as the birthplace of humanity.
“Classical African civilizations started in the Nile Valley well over 5,000 years ago,” said Prof. Josef Ben Levi, an expert on the history of classical African civilizations and philosophy. Levi is also an instructor at Northeastern Illinois University. These civilizations started in what is now called Sudan, an Arabic word meaning “Black,” he said. These civilizations moved north to what is now called Egypt. The word “Egypt” is Greek in origin. Yet early “Egyptians” would have called their home Kemet, which means “Black community or town,” Levi said.
But historians have often denied Egypt its African origins when in fact early civilizations like Nubia, a land of great natural wealth, of gold mines, ebony, ivory and incense were Black. Nubia, prized by her neighbors, has a history that can be traced from 5000 B.C. through Nubian monuments and artifacts as well as through written records from Egypt and from Rome. Ancient Egyptian portraits depict the Nubians as having very dark skin, and they were often shown with golden hooped earrings and with braided or extended hair. In antiquity, Nubia was first mentioned in Old Kingdom Egyptian accounts of trade missions.
And then there were the Black Pharaohs. National Geographic noted the wonders of these Black kings in a piece focusing on great Black rulers of yesteryear. “Scholars and historians have repeatedly failed to acknowledge the impact
made by the group of kings who traveled from deep in Africa and conquered Egypt in 728 B.C.,” the publication reported. The Nubians brought order and stability back to Egypt, torn apart by infighting. “Under Nubian rule, Egypt became Egypt again,” according to the publication.
Restoration required recreation and it was “in essence their renaissance,” Levi said. “The 25th dynasty…was a repetition of the birth.” The Black pharaohs of the 25th dynasty, Nubians, “… reunified a tattered Egypt and filled its landscape with glorious monuments, creating an empire that stretched from the southern border…all the way north to the Mediterranean Sea,” National Geographic reports.
Piye, was one of these kings and the first Nubian pharaoh who invaded Egypt in 730 B.C. and would have received the same accolades of any modern-day Black hero. Under the rule of Shabaka (Piye’s brother), the Nubians thwarted the encroaching Assyrians, “perhaps saving Jerusalem in the process,” National Geographic reports.
Like these great pharaohs who staved off attacks from their enemies, other Blacks in world history have crafted thought, crafted civilizations, built communities and were leaders in medicine, philosophy, religion, and education. Even when it came to social justice and equality, Blacks lead the way there too and as Levi put it, ancient Egypt was “the only nation in antiquity where women had complete and equal rights.”
Even those with a college education have benefited by principles of thought coming out of Egypt. In ancient Egypt education was paramount, Levi said. Egypt produced great minds like Imhotep, the father of medicine. The Egyptian educational system is the foundation of its Greek counterpart, he added. Pre -Socratic visitors like Thales acknowledged he went to Egypt to study geometry, Levi stated, before Pythagoras. The great Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato studied there, he contends. “Plato went to Egypt to study for 12 years,” and determined that was the type of education Greece needed—one based largely on the liberal arts.
The contemporary liberal arts comprise of studying literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics, and science. In classical antiquity, the liberal arts denoted the education proper to a free man unlike the education proper to a slave. This legacy, marked by the achievements of great Black civilizations like the Nubians, is one reason Black history can never begin with tales of slavery. “Slavery is only one factor in African history and it, too, is misunderstood,” wrote John Henrik Clarke in African People in World History.
“Fortunately history…leaves its mark on everything. If you do not find the books there are scripts… there are skeletons…sculptures… plants. There are many things that have left their mark and that is the reason why we reconstruct history by going…into all of those avenues…It is the only valid and genuine historical method to reconstruct the fragmented history of Africa and the Americas,” Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, an anthropologist and historian, said in 1986 at a lecture in London.
by Lisette Livingston
Talk show queen and media superstar Oprah Winfrey may be ending an era when she ends her show on 2011 but by starting a new cable network, Winfrey is embarking on a whole new era.
In a heart-felt message to her viewers, Winfrey, holding back tears last week, talked about why she decided to end her show after a quarter of a century on the air.
“These years with you, our viewers, have enriched my life beyond all measure. And you all have graciously invited me into your living rooms, into your kitchens and into your lives. And for some of you longtime Oprah viewers, you have literally “grown up” with me—we’ve grown together. You had your families, and you raised your children and you left a spot for me in your morning or your afternoon, depending on when The Oprah Show airs in your town.
“So I just wanted to say that whether you’ve been here with me from the beginning or you came on board last week, I want you all to know that my relationship with you is one that I hold very dear. And your trust in me, the sharing of your precious time every day with me has brought me the greatest joy I have ever known.
“So here we are, halfway through the season, 24, and it still means as much to me to spend an hour every day with you as it did back in 1986. So why walk away and make next season the last? Here is the real reason: I love this show. This show has been my life. And I love it enough to know when it’s time to say good-bye…So I hope that you will take this 18-month ride with me right through to the final show,” she said. But after production wraps up on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Winfrey plans to appear and participate in new programming for , a 24-hour cable network that reflects her vision, values and interests. The launch date for OWN, a joint venture with Discovery Communications, is now set for January 2011. OWN will debut in approximately 80 million homes. The venture also will include the award-winning digital platform, Oprah.com.
“Oprah has been nourishing people through her television show for nearly 25 years, a legacy that has touched millions the world over,” said Christina Norman, CEO of OWN. “She is the life force behind OWN and will be guiding the effort for this com pletely new 24-hour television experience premiering in January 2011,” he said.
In reference to the announcement, Discovery Communications President and CEO David Zaslav said, “There is no bigger brand in media than Oprah Winfrey. She has changed the broadcast landscape and how people consume television. Along the way, she impacted our culture and touched us all. We congratulate her and our friends at Harpo for their many achievements, and their years of creating truly ground-breaking television. Discovery Communications has a tremendous partner in Oprah, and we look forward to bringing her and her creative vision, programming and unique voice to approximately 80 million homes on OWN, as well as online through the award-winning Oprah.com.”
On Harpo.com, OWN is described as a “network of self-discovery, connecting people to each other and to their greatest potential. We tell real life stories that are emotional and entertaining. We present moments of transformation that inspire action. We give you the tools to fuel your own self-discovery and live your best life.”
OWN will target adults between the ages of 18 and 49. Programming will include a mix of nonfiction, short form programming, movies, documentaries, and acquisitions and the project will be headquartered in Los Angeles, CA.
Launched nationally in 1986, is viewed by an estimated 42 million viewers each week in the United States.* Oprah and The Oprah Winfrey Show have received 48 Daytime Emmy Awards®, including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. The Oprah Winfrey Show has remained the number one talk show for 23 consecutive seasons, winning every sweep since its debut in 1986.** It is produced in Chicago by Harpo Productions, Inc. and syndicated to 215 domestic stations by CBS Television Distribution and to 145 countries by CBS Studios International.
Harpo Productions, Inc. produces the number one–rated, award-winning The Oprah Winfrey Show; creates and develops original TV programming for primetime, syndication and cable television; and operates Oprah.com (), a premier lifestyle website. ZoCo Productions, LLC, an affiliate of Harpo Productions, Inc., and Sony Pictures Television co-produce . Harpo Print, LLC and Hearst Magazines publish the monthly publication. produces feature films and, through an exclusive deal with HBO, scripted television programming. Harpo Radio, Inc. produces (XM channel 156, Sirius channel 195 as part of its “Best of XM” package) on Sirius XM Radio.
Posted on 17. Jun, 2009 by admin in Uncategorized
The following is the first of a threepart series on the impact of corruption on taxpayers in Illinois and in Chicago as Americans face tough economic times. This week, the Citizen focuses on how minority communities suffer when corruption occurs, particularly as it relates to social programs that help strengthen communities. In part two, we’ll examine corruption in higher education and focus on what happens when minority applicants are shut out of the admissions process when getting accepted into a college or university is based on power and clout. Finally, an analysis of political corruption and the price local communities pay in urban areas will encompass part three of this report.
Instead of using funds appropriated by the state to pay for important social programs that help build communities, taxpayers are paying millions of dollars annually for the price of corruption.
A recent Chicago Sun-Times article pointed out that $2.7 million was reportedly wasted in state grants that could have gone towards helping communities with social programs including job training services for homeless men, youth services for African-Americans and literacy training for others.
While a Chicago Coalition for the Homeless report recently noted that Illinois should invest $2 million in transitional jobs programs with a therapy focus for people living in supportive housing facilities to help them move out of poverty and homelessness, Thomas J. Gradel, the coresearcher of a study entitled, Curing Corruption in Illinois: Anti-Corruption Report at the University of Illinois said, “You’re not only ripping off the taxpayers, but the homeless people that could have got the training. The people who were supposed to get the training, [didn’t receive] access to a job. The businesses would have benefited from the trained employees. So there’s a whole ripple effect caused by taking money to provide training and not providing it,” Gradel said. According to the Coalition’s report, less than one percent of the $270 million spent on workforce development in Chicago in 2004 targeted the homeless. The report pointed to another UIC study in 2001 on homelessness in the city and stated that of the 1,300 homeless adults in the collar counties, 19 percent were military veterans; 31.4 percent had been incarcerated, 46.3 percent were substance abusers and 13.8 percent were mentally ill.
In addition to groups like the homeless, it’s the children who end up paying the price through school dropouts and incarceration when funds fail to reach the people it was supposed to help, said Marrice Coverson, founder of the Institute for Positive Living, a non-profit organization that helps families solve educational, social and economic problems.
While 63 percent of Black male students in the Chicago Public Schools failed to graduate in 2005-2006 according to a study conducted by the Schott Foundation for Public Education based in Massachusetts, Coverson said, “We’re going to look up and we’re not going to have quality people to run our hospitals or banks.”
But the cost on taxpayers is just as high than it is on society overall. In the report Curing Corruption in Illinois, UIC researchers found that taxpayers have paid an estimated $500 million a year, tallying scandals that have included:
*Gov. Blagojevich’s well-publicized corruption case that lowered the state’s bond rating and cost more than $20 million extra for the last state bond; *Unused hired trucks that cost the city $42 million in the 2004 Hired Truck Scandal;
*Sale of truckers licenses for bribes in the 1994 “License for Bribes Scandal” at a taxpayer cost of almost $5 million and; *Silver Shovel of 1996 cost $5.4 million in taxpayer dollars. The investigation involved public officials misusing their offices by allowing illegal landfills and other environmental abuses to occur.
“The cost of these scandals is not funny and it’s not free,” said Gradel, who added corruption pushes the price of everything up from food and gas to other services while citizens end up paying the price if they want to receive basic services they need just to live in the city. In turn, they receive less of a benefit for their tax dollars than they actually deserve, he said. For the people who are caught up in these corruption cases, “it’s going to cost [them] more than what it’s worth,” Gradel added.
But Coverson said indirectly, other organizations that are trying to do the right thing, also suffer when their organization’s reputations are jeopardized as a result of unethical behavior. “People make a general assumption that the majority of nonprofits are not doing what they are supposed to be doing with the funds and that is not true,” Coverson stated. When non-profits get funding, Coverson suggested that they should be prepared to be monitored and evaluated.
Although Gradel believes that some operators do what they say they are going to do with state grants, it’s also a question of oversight, he said. The city doles out so many grants per ward and no one pays attention to how effectively the programs are being run, he added. Minority communities are susceptible to being, “ripped off,” by operators because the majority community, tends to look at distributing grants in these areas as a way to win favors with the community. So in turn, “There’s no real effort to scrutinize it closely to make sure its working,” he continued.
Accepting the evidence of corruption, Gradel believes will lead to the reality that changes need to be made. Some of those efforts have included the City of Chicago Inspector General and the Office of the U.S. Attorney General investigating cases that have led to the arrests of numerous elected officials. Once citizens become informed about corruption activities, Gradel said that they have to make sure wrongdoers get “caught” and punished for their actions. “As soon as the players realize that it’s going to cost more than it benefits, then the behavior will change,” he said.
Efforts to reduce corruption have been passed by the Illinois legislature that involve a series of ethics reforms including new requirements for quarterly reporting of contracts greater than $25,000; the right for the state to audit programs receiving grants; and the ability to suspend grants for noncompliance. This measure is currently awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature.
Additionally, since January 2009, the state has obtained nearly $2 million in wasted grants, according to Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity spokesman Ashley Cross. “Anytime that we learn that taxpayer money wasn’t spent appropriately, we take that seriously and [take] whatever steps [necessary] to get that money back,” Cross said.
John Paul Jones, an Englewood community resident, said that ethics reform is not going to be a “quick fix” because the challenge lies in broadening the communication between elected officials and knowledge about how government works. “Those issues are not discussed in community settings. Until we get to that point where people can be comfortable talking about those things with their state officials without being blackballed, we’re going to have a disconnect of having state reform,” he said.
Lisette Livingston contributed to this story
Prosecutors Allege He Tried to Sell U.S. Senate Seat
by Lisette Livingston
Yesterday, at around 6:30 a.m. Governor Rod Blagojevich was taken into federal custody at his North side home and brought up on federal corruption charges stemming from allegations that he put the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Presidentelect Barack Obama “up for sale,” in an pay-for-play federal investigation scheme.
In the two-count criminal complaint, Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff are charged with conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits by leveraging the Governor’s sole authority to appoint a United States Senator; threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Chicago Tribune Newspaper in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field unless certain editorial board members critical of the Governor were fired. The allegations also include obtaining campaign contributions in exchange for other political favors. According to the Department of Justice, the Governor pushed for these things before a new state ethics law could take effect on January 1, 2009. The men are also charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud plus solicitation of bribery. Conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while solicitation of bribery carries a maximum of 10 years. Each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000.
“This is a very sad day in Illinois government. Governor Blagojevich has taken us to a totally new low. You might have thought that in that environment, that pay-to-play would slow down. The opposite happened. It sped up,” said U.S. States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. “Governor Blagojevich was working feverishly to get as much money to contractors, shaking them down to pay-to-play, before the end of the year,” he said.
According to the allegations, Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff John Harris schemed with others—including previously convicted defendants Antoin Rezko, Stuart Levine, Ali Ata and others—since becoming governor in 2002 to obtain financial benefits for himself, his family and third parties including his campaign committee, Friends of Blagojevich.
In a 76-page affidavit released by the United States Attorney’s Office, Blagojevich, among other things, is accused of withholding an $8 Million commitment in state funds from the Chicago Memorial Hospital when he failed to receive a $50,000 contribution. The Governor and Harris are also accused of meeting with two other individuals —one of whom sought state help with a business venture. Blagojevich allegedly told “Individual A” to approach the other person, “Individual B” about raising $100,000 for Friends for Blagojevich. “Individual A” allegedly said he later learned that the Governor reached out directly to “Individual B,” and asked about holding the fund-raiser himself. According to Fitzgerald, there is no evidence to suggest that President elect Barack Obama was aware of the alleged schemes.
The complaint also alleges that the Governor promised to raise state money to fund a tollway project—beyond $1.8 billion that he announced on October 15—but was waiting to see how much money a contractor in the case had raised for his campaign committee first.
The complaint further alleges that Governor Blagojevich was intercepted on wiretaps that in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich discussed obtaining a substantial salary for himself at either, “a nonprofit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions,” according to a released statement. The allegations also involve granting political favors if his wife was placed on paid corporate boards where he allegedly speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year. There are also promises of campaign funds, including, “cash up front,” alleged in the complaint. In addition, the governor allegedly considered bargaining for himself a cabinet post or ambassadorship position.
In the earliest intercepted conversations caught on tape regarding the Senate seat, Blagojevich reportedly told an official on his staff, “ ‘if…they’re not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it.’ ” Later, the Governor is taped as saying, “ ‘I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain.‘ ” He later added that the seat “ ‘is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.’ ”
The day after the election, the Governor was captured discussing with another individual in his office about whether he could obtain a cabinet position, such as Secretary of Health and Human Services or the Department of Energy. In a conversation with Harris on November 4, Blagojevich is accused of analogizing his situation to that of a “sports agent,” shopping, “ ‘a potential free agent, ‘” to the “ ‘highest bidder. ‘”
The day after the election, Harris allegedly suggested to Blagojevich that the President-elect could make him (the Governor) the head of a private foundation. On November 10th, there are also accusations that Blagojevich, his wife, Harris, the Governor’s General Counsel, an advisor and other Washington-based advisors participated at different times in a two-hour phone call in which they allegedly discussed among other things, a deal involving the Service Employees International Union. (SEIU).
Allegedly, Harris said they could “work out a deal,” with the union and the President-elect, where SEIU could help the President-elect with the Governor’s appointment of one of the candidates being considered. In exchange, the Governor would allegedly use this as a way to obtain a position as the National Director of the Change to Win campaign, an organization affiliated with various union groups, including SEIU. In exchange for the deal, SEIU allegedly would get something favorable from President-elect in the future. However, the complaint states that Blagojevich agreed it was unlikely that the President-elect would name him Secretary of Health and Human Services or give him an ambassadorship because of all of the negative publicity surrounding him.
The charges come on the heels of a push by several local groups, including Concerned Clergy of Illinois, to name an African American to the position. Several other groups have also endorsed various other candidates including Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., Congressman Danny Davis and Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr., all of whom were unavailable for comment. Other candidates the Governor was considering before the arrests, included Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill); Tammy Duckworth, director of Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Under the law, the Governor has the sole responsibility of appointing a replacement. The United States Department of Justice refused to comment on how the new revelations could affect the appointment process or any modifications in the law.
by Lisette Livingston
In an effort to shore up the economy, President Bush announced a program early Tuesday morning to unfreeze stagnant credit markets. According to the plan, the government will use its authority under the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package to pump billions of dollars into banks, expand deposits and guarantee loans. Following Great Britain’ lead, which took the same steps recently, the United States is hoping the measure will unclog the nation’s financial markets and promote lending among banks.
The measure goes one step further to intervene as the government has sought ways over the last month to deal with the nation’s pressing economic crisis. When an announcement to simply buy toxic assets held by major banks and Wall Street failed to unfreeze markets, the government moved one step further Tuesday to directly intervene by investing a reported $250 billion into the nation’s banking system, putting taxpayers in a position to become preferred stockholders under the plan. The move comes on the heels of a historically bad period last week in the U.S. stock market. Joined by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, President Bush outlined four major aspects of the plan in a televised statement released from the White House.
“This weekend, I met with the finance ministers from the G7 and G20, organizations representing some of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies. We agreed on a coordinated plan for action to provide new liquidity, strengthen financial institutions, protect our citizens’ savings, and ensure fairness and integrity in the markets. Yesterday, leaders in Europe moved forward with this plan. They announced significant steps to inject capital into their financial systems by purchasing equity in major banks. And they announced a new effort to jump start lending by providing temporary government guarantees for bank loans. These are wise and timely actions, and they have the full support of the United States.
“First, the federal government will use a portion of the $700 billion financial rescue plan to inject capital into banks by purchasing equity shares. This new capital will help healthy banks continue making loans to businesses and consumers. And this new capital will help struggling banks fill the hole created by losses during the financial crisis, so they can resume lending and help spur job creation and economic growth.
“This is an essential short-term measure to ensure the viability of America’s banking system. And the program is carefully designed to encourage banks to buy these shares back from the government when markets stabilize and they can raise capital from private investors. Second, and effective immediately, the FDIC will temporarily guarantee most new debt issued by insured banks. This will address one of the central problems plaguing our financial system—banks have been unable to borrow money, and that has restricted their ability to lend to consumers and businesses. When money flows more freely between banks, it will make it easier for Americans to borrow for cars, and homes, and for small businesses to expand. Third, the FDIC will immediately and temporarily expand government insurance to cover all noninterest bearing transaction accounts. These accounts are used primarily by small businesses to cover day-to-day operations. By insuring every dollar in these accounts, we will give small business owners peace of mind,” he said.
Currently, the Federal Reserve is taking steps to finalize work on a new program where it will serve as a buyer of last resort for commercial paper, President Bush added. “This is a key source of short-term financing for American businesses and financial institutions. And by unfreezing the market for commercial paper, the Federal Reserve will help American businesses meet payroll, and purchase inventory, and invest to create jobs.”
While each of these new programs contain “safeguards” to protect taxpayers, President Bush described the government’s role as “limited” and “temporary” and “are not intended to take over the free markets, but to preserve it,” he stated. Experts predict the result of the plan could significantly impact on small businesses, the backbone of America’s economy.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses make up 99.9 percent of the 27.2 million businesses nationwide and provide about 50 percent of all private-sector jobs. Moreover, small businesses generate about 80 percent of new jobs each year and create more than 50 percent of the nonfarm gross domestic product.
When businesses can’t get credit, Robert Korajczyk, finance professor at Northwestern University’s Kellog School of Management agreed that it makes it difficult for small businesses to meet financial obligations. The inability to secure credit has the effect of putting “the squeeze on profitability,” he said.
A National Small Business Association survey taken in August, reported that 67 percent of business owners surveyed reported that they have felt the effects of the credit crunch, more than double the amount who were surveyed last year. In a PNC Economic Outlook survey taken at the same time, about 25 percent of business owners said they found it harder to obtain credit. As an incentive to help small businesses, Democratic Presidential nominee U.S. Senator Barack Obama has outlined a plan that would give companies a $3,000 tax credit per new worker for jobs created in the United States through 2010. While his Republican opponent U.S. Senator John McCain’s plan did not highlight tax incentives for jobs in the U.S, McCain has called for cutting spending, providing a $5,000 tax credit to help families buy health insurance and increase domestic oil drilling to help stimulate the economy.
by Lisette Livingston
Lesley R.Chinn contributed to this story
A picture is worth a thousand words and a negative political attack ad is worth a thousand more. With the advent of the Internet and the production of savvy television commercials, political ads are sometimes sliced, diced and spun into a web of misleading and suggestive attacks. Often used to create images that incite fear, create confusion and sometimes downright deceive voters, separating fact from fiction can be more than a notion for voters headed to the polls.
In 1988, Willie Horton, a black man, was used in an ad to attack Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis for his support of a prisoner furlough program in Massachusetts. Horton was convicted of murder, sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and incarcerated at the Concord Correctional Facility in Massachusetts. In June of 1986, he was released as part of a weekend furlough program, but did not return. The next year in April, in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Horton twice raped a local woman after pistol-whipping, knifing, binding, and gagging her fiancé. He then stole the car belonging to the man he had assaulted, but was later captured by police. For his crimes, Horton was sentenced in Maryland to two consecutive life terms plus 85 years. Vincent J. Femia, the sentencing judge, refused to return him to Massachusetts. On April 18, 1996, Horton was transferred to the Jessup Correctional Institution, a maximumsecurity prison, where he remains incarcerated today.
Presidential Candidate George H. W. Bush would later use the Horton issue to win the Presidential election in 1988 after Michael Dukakis clinched the Democratic nomination. Although run as an independent expenditure and separate from the Bush campaign, the ad included a menacing mug shot of Horton and played on the fears of crime and prejudice against Blacks. While there was no documented evidence that specifically showed the Horton ad won the election for Bush, Dukakis’ failure to forcefully answer the charge that he had let Horton run loose to ‘terrorize innocent people’ and accusations about his continued support of the furlough program until the Massachusetts legislature changed the law, was surely a game changer in the election. Ironically, while Dukakis supported the program as a method of criminal rehabilitation, it was actually signed into law by Republican Governor Francis W. Sargent in 1972.
Six years later, a number of consumer advocate groups, on a mission for factual accuracy, are changing the landscape of campaigns and commercials. Just as quickly as misleading political ads can go up, the same groups are bringing them down and are aiming to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. Created in 1994 and based in Washington D.C., Factcheck.org is one of those groups. A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, the organization monitors what is said by major U.S. political players in television ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. The organization accepts no funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals.
Viveca Novak, deputy director of Factcheck.org cited a recent ad about Senator Obama as an example of an ad that misleads the public. In the commercial, Obama is tied to a corrupt political Democratic machine in Chicago. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Senate President Emil Jones Jr., Tony Rezko, a real estate developer, and Bill Daley, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce (also the brother of Mayor Richard M. Daley) are all depicted in the ad. Senator John McCain and producers of the commercial call Bill Daley ‘a lobbyist,’ while Jones is placed under an ethical cloud. Rezko is dubbed Obama’s “money man” and other inferences include suggestions that Blagojevich has a legacy of federal and state investigations. Because of the associations, the ad concludes that Obama is unfit to lead as president.
But according to Factcheck.org, the details of the ad are more misleading than truthful. While Blagojevich has been plagued with scandals, it has not impacted his job as governor. In fact, Obama has worked on ethics legislation as a result of Blagojevich’s actions in this area. Jones may be considered “Obama’s godfather,” but during their political careers, neither Jones nor Bill Daley for that matter, have ever been tied to any serious corruption or misdeeds. Moreover, Daley is not Obama’s only economic advisor and according to reports, has never been lobbyist. Additionally, Obama severed his ties with the controversial real estate developer after Rezko was indicted for money fraud. In fact, Obama gave nearly $150,000 in contributions to charity that he received from Rezko, his employees, his associates and his family during Obama’s House and Senate Campaigns. Novak said politicians indulge in negative campaigning at any given cost because it works. But voters need to “really work to do the research,” she said and to try to understand what’s the truth and what’s not. Accepting everything for “face value” is never is a good way to stay informed. “People can do with it what they will, but at least the information is out there,” she said.
Jay Paul Deratany, a Chicago attorney, is also working to bring transparency to the records of Chicago politicians. Deratany, along with Mike Foucher, an independent political consultant, recently launched Cloutwiki.org, a new web site that seeks to inform voters about the history of Chicago and Cook County politicians’ records and backgrounds. The site is modeled after another online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.org and the creators encourage participation from the public. Currently, it includes an assortment of facts and history about Chicago aldermen, Cook County Board commissioners, and U.S. Congressman. Deratany said the group is still working on updating information. “A lot of voters don’t know about the history of some of the Chicago politicians,” he said, but publishing facts on the site will help shed light on the situation. Plans are underway to expand the site’s reach with input from readers. “We’re adding and changing things. It’s going to be an ongoing process. We want to be an interactive site so that people can add corrections,” and or enter their own viewpoints he said.
Posted on 03. Oct, 2008 by admin in Uncategorized
by Lisette Livingston
All eyes will be on the two vice presidential candidates, U.S. Senator Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, on Thursday, October 2 when they meet to debate at Washington University in St. Louis, MO., at 8 p.m. Central Daylight Time.
Palin, who has been mostly sequestered from reporters, has only appeared in a handful of interviews while Biden has been interviewed at least 100 times since being picked as Obama’s running mate in August. Palin has been criticized by conservatives, including Kathleen Parker, a columnist for the National Review Magazine, who said interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity and Katy Couric reveal Palin “is clearly out of her league.” However, campaigns generally try to lower expectations of their candidate, while raising the expectations of their opponents. The challenge for Biden will be to refrain from impetuous and brutally honest remarks that have become his calling card during his long tenure in the U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, Palin is reportedly attending “boot camp” at McCain’s ranch near Sedona, Arizona as she gears up for Thursday’s debate.
Presidential Candidate and U.S. Senator Barack Obama has already convinced voters that he’s up to the task of taking on some of the country’s top challenges: the financial meltdown and the crisis in the Middle East, according to the latest Bloomberg/LA Times poll. Obama extended his advantage to 49 to 44 percent, compared with last week, when the same respondents gave him a 48 to 45 percent edge. These poll numbers were in response to last Friday’s debate where the two candidates squared off at the University of Mississippi at Oxford in the first of three presidential debates. Lower ratings for McCain could have been the result of his negative body language and sarcastic tone. Overall, McCain appeared angry and dismissive, while admitting he had not won the “Miss Congeniality,” contest in the Senate. His refusal to look Obama in the eye drew sharp criticism from observers. “Because non-verbal communication speaks just as loud as verbal communication, it gives others an opportunity to decipher how a person thinks and feels about himself and others,” said Addie Anderson, a licensed clinical professional counselor and life coach. Anderson said by extending his hand for a handshake and giving McCain a friendly pat to his arm or shoulder, the gesture relayed a message of friendliness and a sense of warmth. On the other hand, Senator McCain appeared very stern and stiff. He looked angry. Eye contact with Senator Obama was minimal,” she said.
A new ad just released where Senator Obama attacks McCain for not mentioning the middle class once in the debate, could be an indication of how the campaign believes he performed. McCain, also recently released a new ad where he highlights the number of times Obama agreed with him in last Friday’s debate. Throughout the evening, McCain repeatedly accused his opponent of not understanding the issues, but Obama won praise for having a strong grasp on foreign affairs, an area which is supposed to be McCain’s strong suit.
Days before the debate, McCain announced he was “suspending” his presidential campaign in order to rescue the $700 billion bailout plan which kept lawmakers working over time throughout the weekend. But by Monday, McCain was unable to muster up enough support in his own party and the bill failed to pass, with Democrats voting overwhelmingly in support of the bill and Republicans voting overwhelmingly against it. Earlier last week, David Letterman chastised McCain for using the economic crisis as a reason to bailout on Letterman’s show and then showing up later to do an interview with CBS’ Katie Couric instead.
Lesley R. Chinn also contributed to this story.