Category: National News

After DACA’s End, A Fresh Round of Anxiety

Monday, September 18, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Community members at a Sept. 8 informational meeting at PASO-West Suburban Action Project in Melrose Park. | Alexa Rogals/Wednesday Journal 

President Donald Trump’s recent decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a policy implemented in 2012 by President Barack Obama, has many community members in Proviso Township worried, anxious and preparing to push back.

Continue reading “After DACA’s End, A Fresh Round of Anxiety”

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Tips to Prepare for Monday’s Solar Eclipse (Yes, It Can Blind You)

Saturday, August 19, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews || Photo: Getty Images 

On Monday, Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will cover parts of the country from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina, according to NASA. In the Chicago area, including suburbs like Bellwood, Broadview, Maywood and Melrose Park, the sun will only be blocked partially by the moon.

Continue reading “Tips to Prepare for Monday’s Solar Eclipse (Yes, It Can Blind You)”

Broadview Payless ShoeSource May Close

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Children pick out their free shoes and try them on inside the store at Payless ShoeSource on November 20, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio. | Joey Foley/Getty Images

Saturday, May 27, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 10:15 a.m. 

Payless ShoeSource, the national retail chain based in Topeka, Kan., has announced that it might close at least another 400 stores, including a store located at 102 Broadview Village Square in Broadview, according to company officials.

This is just the most recent round of possible store closings. Last month, while filing for bankruptcy protection, the company announced its plans to close up to 400 stores, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

The Tribune noted that, since filing bankruptcy, Payless “has been trying to negotiate reductions in rent at some additional stores.”

In a bankruptcy court filing, company officials said that, “While many of those negotiations have been successful and significant savings have been realized, other negotiations have not been as successful.”

So far, 22 Payless locations in Illinois have shut down. The company’s remaining Illinois stores could also be closed if “ongoing [rent] negotiations fall through,” the Tribune reported.

The Payless ShoeSource at 1234 Winston Plaza in Melrose Park is not among those stores undergoing rent negotiations, according to a company document.

For the full list of recently announced Payless closings, click here. To read the full Chicago Tribune report, click here. Like Village Free Press on Facebook by clicking hereVFP

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Congressman Blasts GOP Health Plan, Calling It ‘Nothingcare’

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Rev. Jesse Jackson, Congressman Danny K. Davis, state Rep. Camille Lilly and other lawmakers and community leaders during a press conference last Friday at Loretto Hospital in Austin. | Michael Romain/VFP

Monday, May 8, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Several years ago, a sudden, “catastrophic” diagnosis of end-stage renal disease forced Monica Fox to stop working.

“I spent three years on dialysis — three days, four hours at a time,” said Fox, who received a kidney transplant five months ago, a gift she attributed to the Affordable Care Act.

Fox spoke at a May 5 press conference convened at Loretto Hospital in Austin by U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th), Rev. Jesse Jackson and other lawmakers, healthcare providers and union officials one day after the House Republicans narrowly passed a bill designed to repeal and replace the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare.

Fox and others who spoke at the press conference variously called the Republican plan “Trump-care,” “Trump-don’t-care” and “Nothing-care.”

“The ACA made it possible for me to have the proper insurance I need,” said Fox, who lives in the south suburbs.

“While I have been unable to work, I’m getting to the point of going back to work. If [the Republican plan] goes into effect, I will be faced with devastating news that i have a pre-existing condition that may not be covered by my employer’s insurance,” she said. “That’s disgusting and whoever thinks that’s a good idea is sick.”

The Republican plan, which passed 217 to 213 on a party-line vote, now makes its way to the Senate, where many Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including Davis, believe it’s likely to either die from lack of support or be completely overhauled.

The House bill that passed Thursday is the Republican Party’s second attempt to repeal and replace the ACA since President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Both attempts have generated considerable popular backlash.

According to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released in March, voters in the U.S. opposed the first GOP health plan by a 3 to 1 margin.

“Disapproval of the Republican plan is 56 – 22 percent among men, 56 – 13 percent among women, 54 – 20 percent among white voters, 64 – 10 percent among non-white voters, 80 – 3 percent among Democrats, 58 – 14 percent among independent voters and by margins of 2-1 or more in every age group,” reads a statement released by Quinnipiac in March.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the first version of the Republican bill, which failed to come to a vote, would take away health insurance from 24 million Americans within 10 years, cut federal funding of Planned Parenthood and it could spell the end of Medicaid expansion, a provision of the ACA which allowed millions of low-income Americans to receive health coverage, among other possible consequences.

During last Friday’s press conference, Jackson and others didn’t mince words when talking about the Republican plan’s potential effects on the lives of poor, elderly, disabled and minority Americans.

“In Illinois, 37 percent of the children receive coverage through Medicaid. There are 649,000 Illinoisans enrolled under ACA and this bill is designed … cut that out and replace it with Trumpcare, Nothingcare,” Davis said.

“Implementation of the Republican bill will lead to loss of coverage for 24 million people nationwide. Overall, 44,269 Illinois residents covered under the ACA and [more than 252,000] are covered under expanded Medicaid, which will be in danger in Illinois.”

“This is a shame, an international disgrace,” said Jackson, who also said that the attempt to repeal the ACA marked “the unraveling of our democracy.”

State Rep. Camille Lilly (78th), who is also Loretto’s vice president for external affairs and development, said that the repeal of the ACA will “harm our local community here in Austin and on the West Side. It will devastate us.”

Lilly referenced a bill she introduced that allows felons returning home from prison to get signed up with the ACA 45 days before their scheduled release.

Loretto’s CEO and chief medical officer, Dr. Sonia Mehta, said that a possible repeal of ACA would “negatively impact our ability to take care of our communities.” Mehta said that 85 percent of Loretto’s patients are enrolled in either Medicare or Medicaid.

Oak Park resident Melanie McQueen said that the bill will put children with preexisting conditions in danger.

“This is literally a life and death situation,” she said. “There’s no reason in today’s age we have children who will die because of something preventative. When we say it affects all of us, it affects even our unborn children.” VFP

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One Arrested in Melrose Park During Federal Immigration Sweep

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement during a targeted raid last week. | Courtesy Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

According to a Feb. 13 report in the Daily Herald, 33 people were arrested during raids conducted this month by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). More than half of those arrests occurred in the suburbs, including one arrest that took place in Melrose Park.

“In all, one woman and 47 men were arrested in the Chicago area, authorities said Monday,” the Daily Herald reports.

The arrest in Melrose Park comes after the village’s Board of Trustees had contemplated passing a ‘Welcoming Village’ ordinance, which would limit the amount of information that local law enforcement authorities can share with ICE and other federal agencies about immigrants.

A regular board meeting scheduled for Feb. 13, where village officials were going to discuss, and possibly vote on, the ordinance, was cancelled earlier this month.

A spokesman for Mayor Ronald Serpico said that the cancellation was related to the mayor’s health issues and the fact that he is currently out of town.

Oak Park recently approved a ‘Sanctuary Village’ ordinance of its own and the same day that Melrose Park was scheduled to discuss its ordinance, Forest Park held a preliminary meeting on possibly passing a welcoming ordinance.

According to a Feb. 13 statement released by ICE officials, the federal raids were made in several cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City.

ICE officials arrested more than 680 people across the country “who pose a threat to public safety, border security or the integrity of our nation’s immigration system. Of those arrested, approximately 75 percent were criminal aliens, convicted of crimes including, but not limited to, homicide, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual assault of a minor, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, indecent liberties with a minor, drug trafficking, battery, assault, DUI and weapons charges.”

Read the full Daily Herald article here. Read the full statement from ICE here. VFP

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Activists Reflect on the First Black Presidency that Was

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Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, during President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January. | Wikipedia 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Last month, two days before the nation’s first black presidency was set to end, and on the day of Martin Luther King’s birthday, a crowd of roughly 40 people gathered inside of Dominican University’s Lund Auditorium to grapple with a dilemma of Barack Obama’s two terms.

The event was held in order to consider Barack Obama’s presidency in light of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. One of the most poignant moments of the roughly hour-and-a-half discussion was when the three-person panel tried interpreting the pardons and commutations the president had granted in his last few days in office.

On the day before the panel discussion, Obama had commuted the 35-year sentence of Army Private Chelsea Manning, who famously leaked sensitive classified material to WikiLeaks, and the 55-year prison sentence of Oscar Lopez Rivera, a 74-year-old Puerto Rican political activist who was imprisoned for trying to overthrow the United States government, among other charges.

Both Manning and Rivera are considered traitors or terrorists by some and heroes and political prisoners by others, depending on where the critics line up along the left-right ideological divide. Neither, however, are associated with the radical black freedom struggle that King embodies and which, in large part, made Obama’s presidency possible, the panelists noted.

Dometi Pongo, a news anchor for WVON 1690, said his radio station had polled its predominantly black audience about which political figures they would want Obama to focus his mighty presidential pen on.

Many callers, Pongo said, suggested the president pardon the late Marcus Garvey, the early 20th-century Black Nationalist who was sent to jail in the 1920s for mail fraud, a charge that many of his supporters believe was politically motivated. Others named notable former Black Panthers — many now either serving long sentences or in exile — like Mumia Abu-Jamal, H. Rap Brown and Assata Shakur.

That Obama seemed poised to leave office without pardoning or issuing a commutation for a single prominent Black Nationalist had some blacks “wondering where the vindication is,” Pongo said, an assertion that prompted some applause and approving nods from the audience.

Pongo credited the outgoing president with his late-blossoming stance on the issue of mass incarceration and the hundreds of pardons he granted imprisoned African Americans, but he wanted to know why the president’s mercy toward transgender and Latino radicals didn’t extend to black radicals.

“If he released some of these black nationalists, would there be too much political blowback?” Pongo said.

“It’s a calibration of political capital and what is considered suitable political etiquette,” explained Salim Muwakkil, himself a former Black Panther and veteran journalist, who was working for the Associated Press in 1973 when Shakur allegedly murdered a New Jersey State Trooper during a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike. Shakur was subsequently convicted of first-degree murder and sent to prison before escaping to Cuba in 1979.

“I knew Assata and I knew the specifics of the crime and I knew that she was absolutely innocent,” Muwakkil said. “At the AP, objectivity was the byword. You had to be objective. They had to assure the facts were presented as plainly as possible, but I began to see that objectivity was really a ratification of the status quo. In order for something to have veracity we had to say ‘the police said’ after every sentence.”

The mask of objectivity worn by the AP, Muwakkil argued, was also worn by Obama, whose position of authority constricted his ability to buck the status quo that put radical black figures like Shakur beyond the pale of political acceptability.

That marginalizing of black radical figures from the 1960s and ’70s echoed a much larger paradigm set in place by Obama’s presidency, Muwakkil argued, adding that Obama’s historic two terms “stalled the progress of the black freedom movement and disrupted the dynamics of a protest tradition that has framed black activism for at least a century.”

“This outcome is not necessarily Obama’s intention or even his fault,” Muwakkil said. “The rupture of tradition caused by his victory was simply inevitable.”

Historically, he explained, black activists like King, W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson and Rosa Parks had cultivated adversarial relationships with political leadership. Over the last half-century, however, that relationship has changed.

“Obama’s victory represents the logical conclusion of a political strategy outlined 45 years ago … that designated politics as the next step in the Civil Rights Movement. Because of that strategy, I guess you can call it ‘black faces in high places syndrome,’ many of us have grown accustomed to conflating political campaigns with civil rights crusades.”

The result, the panelists and some in the audience seemed to concede, was a black presidency long on symbolism and hope, and short on political substance.

“I feel like every time it’s something with black people, it’s always, ‘That’s a little too far,’” said one panelist, a poet who goes by the name Authentic. “What’s not too far?” VFP

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Breaking: Congressman Says He’s Not Attending Trump Inauguration

Congressman Danny K Davis

Thursday, January 19, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th) won’t be attending the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, according to a statement put out by the Congressman’s office today.

“After giving serious thought and consideration, I have determined to follow the recommendation of a majority of my constituents who have called,” Davis said in the statement, adding that 95 percent of the people who have called his office in relation to the inauguration have suggested that he not attend the event.

“It has always been my approach to follow the lead of my constituents except for one time that I recall when I didn’t,” Davis said.

The only time he went against a majority of his constituency’s wishes, he recalled, was when he voted for President Barack Obama’s first bail-out plan. He said that the economy was in such bad shape “that we needed it anyway; therefore, I voted for it.”

Davis said that the inauguration is “much more than a set of festivities.” He said that it should reflect the people’s values and and hopes, as well.

“I congratulate President Donald Trump and all of those who voted for him and look forward to working together to help make America a safer and more desirable place in which to living,” Davis said.

Davis joins 65 other Democrats in Congress who, as of today, have elected not to attend Trump’s inauguration, according to a report by ABC News. Other congressmen from the area who have decided not to attend the event include Rep. Mike Quigley (5th) and Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (4th). VFP

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