As Illinois continues to recover from the economic downturn, our top priority has to be job creation. That’s why we need the General Assembly to override the veto on Senate Bill 9, legislation which will accelerate the completion of the Illinois Smart Grid program and create thousands of jobs that will help struggling Illinoisans get back on their feet.
The Smart Grid program, which will modernize Illinois’ electricity grid through cutting-edge digital technology, will continue to create good paying jobs for years to come. This is especially important in the African-American and Hispanic communities we serve, where unemployment remains desperately high.
Already, we are seeing the economic benefits of the Smart Grid program. A new training center in Rockford will provide job skills and education for the next generation of utility workers to build and maintain this 21st century electrical grid. We understand that an additional training center will be created in Chicago—however, not until Senate Bill 9 is passed into law.
The Smart Grid will also provide a much-needed boost to diverse businesses in our state. In fact, nearly half of the vendors and suppliers chosen to complete the Smart Grid program are minority-owned businesses, which represent more than $54 million in contracts. These contracts are crucial to putting people back to work and repowering our local economy. In fact, in 2012, the first year of Smart Grid investment, 2,400 jobs were created.
We must also consider the benefits to Illinois consumers that Smart Grid investments will bring over time. For one, smart meters will give consumers greater control over their day-to-day power usage, helping residents save on their electric bills. That takes some of the pressure off of struggling households and seniors living on a fixed income. Additionally, the Smart Grid will make service more reliable by reducing the frequency and duration of power outages.
As our businesses and their employees complete the work needed to revitalize our state’s energy infrastructure through the Smart Grid program, these efforts will attract new businesses to Illinois. This is essential to moving our state and our communities forward, toward a thriving, prosperous future.
Together, the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association (H.A.C.I.A) and Chatham Business Association are calling on the Illinois General Assembly to override the veto of Senate Bill 9 to get the Smart Grid program back on track. We simply cannot afford to pass up this opportunity to create jobs and strengthen our economy at a time when Illinois communities need it most.
Op-Ed Submission By:
Omar Duque, CEO, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Larry Ivory, president, Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce
Jorge Perez, executive director, Hispanic American Construction Industry Association (H.A.C.I.A)
Melinda Kelly, executive director, Chatham Business Association
This article is not necessarily the opinion of the Chicago Citizen Newspaper.
Last week, the villages of South Holland and Dolton held elections for village trustee offices. In each suburb, four candidates ran for their respective party’s nomination. Unlike Chicago, there are not any runoffs in these elections and the top three vote getters will be on the ballot for the April 5th general election. In South Holland, Heritage Community Party members, N. Keith Chambers, and John F. Sullivan will be on the ballot in April. Chambers received 31.6% of the vote, Doorn 29.58% and Sullivan 27.36% . In Dolton, Democratic Party members, Valeria Stubbs, Larry James Bradley, Riley H. Rogers will be on the ballot for the April election. Stubbs received 26.07% of the vote, Bradley 22.82% and Rogers 28.94%.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The real Alaska has finally joined the A-list.
Long a bit player in the entertainment world, the 49th state increasingly is sought out by TV and film producers for its unmatchable lure of spectacular beauty and peril, of wild adventures and dangerous jobs.
And they’re actually shooting in the nation’s largest and most remote state instead of other locations altered to portray Alaska, as multiple projects have done.
Alaska’s new film production tax credit program has only amped up the state’s evolving Q quotient, attracting several dozen projects since it was approved by lawmakers in 2008.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency failed to conduct some of its quarterly inspections of nuclear power plants.
The state auditor general reported Thursday that four nuclear plants did not get all of the required inspections during the past two years. They were Braidwood, Dresden, Byron and LaSalle.
The EPA is supposed to check for radioactive substances that may leak into water supplies. That has happened at two Illinois nuclear plants.
A spokesman says the Illinois EPA has now hired another employee and is on track to check all the plants every three months this year and in the future.
by Anthony McCartney
LOS ANGELES – Singer Chris Brown wants a judge to ease a restraining order barring him from being near ex-girlfriend Rihanna.
The R&B singer is due to appear in court to make the request and update a judge on his progress.
Brown remains on probation after pleading guilty to assaulting Rihanna in February 2009.
DETROIT – Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget proposal calling for the elimination of Michigan’s film tax incentive program has some worried the state’s fledgling industry could end up on the cutting room floor.
Considered one of the most generous in the nation, the state’s film credits have ushered in a golden age of Michigan-based movie-making over the past three years.
But former Michigan Film Office spokesman Ken Droz says if the changes are approved by the Legislature, it would “devastate the state’s industry.”
Michigan’s current program refunds 40 to 42 percent of a company’s qualified expenditures.
Snyder’s plan would order a $25 million cap on film credits.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois high school players and coaches would face new safeguards against rushing athletes back into games after they sustain concussions under legislation making its way through the House.
Legislation approved unanimously Wednesday by the House Education Committee would order school districts to require a doctor’s written permission before a player who might have received a concussion could resume playing. The measure now goes to the full House.
The move is part of a national wave of concern about long-term health risks associated with concussions. New research indicates concussions and repeated blows to the head may lead to depression, dementia and other mental health problems later in life. This damage can begin at a young age, many times through contact sports such as football or hockey.
By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
The importance of knowing history is to learn from it. We remember to thank historian Carter G. Woodson for first establishing Black History Week as a “celebration” of African American achievement back in 1926. During the years we have come to celebrate Black History Month in the month of February not only in America, but also throughout the world.
Black people are often, in too many instances, the object of daily racial stereotypes and negative cynicism in the mainstream media. The month of February each year, at least for the majority of African Americans and others who have a sense of the value of diversity and inclusiveness, is the time for reflection and celebration of the progress and achievements that African people have made in the United States and across the globe. Black History Month, therefore, is an annual time when there is a more visible, positive energy, and consciousness about African American progress.
Of course, we all know that our struggle for freedom, justice, and equality continues even while we recognize our achievements. It is also most important that we take the time to share the teachings and learning from our history with the children of our communities. African American youth will be proud of our history to the extent to which we will take more time to tell it, explain it and to make sure that our youth will understand and appreciate it. Again, this is why the African American press is important in all of its multiple media formats. The good news is there is a hunger and thirst by millions of young people in our communities for more awareness and knowledge about African American and African history.
The historic transformation of Egypt during this Black History Month observance is noteworthy. Egypt is one of the oldest nations in the world. Sixty percent of the population in Egypt is under the age of 30. The dramatic changes in Egypt that were led by the youth of that African nation should serve as a global reminder that the future destiny of the world is not in the hands of those who live vicariously in the past blindly with no vision, hope or plan to make social, economic, political and cultural progress. The future is the hands of young people who know their history and take their responsibility for freedom and progress seriously.
February 11, 2011 was the day of transformation in Egypt. But, we also should remember and continue to celebrate that February 11, 1990 was the day that Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison in South Africa after spending 27 years in prison unjustly as a political prisoner held by the apartheid regime. Mandela stated, “Our march to freedom is irreversible”
Here in the United States, one of the most significant recent historical moments was the election of President Barack H. Obama in November of 2008. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Census Bureau is now reporting the voter “turnout rate” in the 2008 national elections was the highest for Black Americans (65%) as compared to all other racial groups identified by the U.S. Census Bureau. We all should know that the age group within the African American community that had the largest percent increase in voter turnout from 2004 to 2008 was the “18- to 24-year-old citizen black population.” Now, between Black History Month 2011 and 2012, we got some homework to do to make sure that this trend in Black American civic participation and historic voter turnout continues.
Let’s make sure here in the United States that our march to freedom is also “irreversible.” Once again, the history of voting and the blood-soaked price that African Americans, in particular, had to pay to get the right to vote should never be forgotten or taken for granted. Yes, we have a lot to celebrate. There has been progress. But, we also have a lot to be sober about: high unemployment, imprisonment, high school dropout rate, poverty, and too many in a state of disillusionment. But, we must not be cynical and self-destructive. There are solutions to all these problems. If “Black History” has taught us anything that we should always remember, it is that our struggle for freedom is protracted. We will have victories and we will have defeats, but through it all we must never let our spirit be broken. Trials and tribulations should strengthen us, not weaken us. We have come too far to let new winds of oppression blow us off course. Let’s raise up a new generation of freedom fighters.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr is Senior Advisor to the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and President of Education Online Services Corporation
by Thelma Sardin
The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) says its Plan for Transformation is 74 percent complete. The plan is an ongoing project to fully restore or replace 25,000 units of public housing.
The plan seeks to break the cycle of poverty and rebuild lives by offering residents an opportunity to share in Chicago’s “promise,” according to a released statement.
CHA is also offering residents training in life skills, officials add, that will assist them as they move into mixed-income communities.
“Today, all across the city, new mixed-income communities are close to good schools, jobs and shopping. Thousands of CHA residents have moved to better housing, found stable employment and nearly doubled their incomes. We have been successful in establishing Mayor Daley’s Plan for Transformation, which is considered a model throughout the country,” said Lewis Jordan, CEO of CHA in the release.
In all, 18,555 units of housing have been completed under the Plan for Transformation including:
- 9,178 rehabilitated senior units (98% of goal)
- 2,555 rehabilitated scattered site units (100% of goal)
- 3,779 rehabilitated family units (76% of goal)
- 3,043 public housing units in mixed income developments (39% of goal)
In 2009, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI) released, “The Third Side: A Mid -Course Report On Chicago’s Transformation of Public Housing”, which praised the CHA’s efforts but also outlined the resulting effects of the Plan. In a press release announcing the report, BPI’s Executive Director, Hoy McConnell described the benefits of the Plan and what it must do in the future to ensure equal housing opportunities for all Chicagoans.
“Midway through the Plan for Transformation, we have a tale of two cities,” said McConnell. “CHA families in new mixed income communities now live in conditions indistinguishable from economically better-off neighbors. That’s a major achievement that would have been considered impossible 20 years ago. At the same time, far too many public housing families live in environments virtually identical to those that triggered the $1.6 billion overhaul of public housing. That must change if Chicago is to uphold its promise to ‘rebuild’ the lives of all its public housing residents,” he said.