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White Candidate Set to Battle for Black Votes in Illinois

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By Wendell Hutson, Special to the NNPA from The Chicago Crusader –

It came as no surprise last week when former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson announced she would challenge Democratic incumbent Jesse Jackson, Jr. for the congressional seat he has held for the last 15 years. But what was surprising was when Halvorson, a white Democrat, said she is confident she can win enough Black votes to unseat Jackson in the March 2012 primary although the district has a 50 percent Black population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“I realize that the population in the Second Congressional District is half Black and historically has supported Jackson throughout his tenure,” explained Halvorson. “But I don’t think race will matter to the voters who are hurting for jobs and economic growth in their district. They want a congressman who can deliver and is not preoccupied with ethnical problems.”

Jackson, son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the Chicago-based civil rights organization Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, earlier this year publically admitted to having a one-time affair with a white woman in Washington, D.C. He was also suspected by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but never charged, with offering former Governor Rod Blagojevich a campaign contribution in exchange for him appointing him to President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat. Jackson has maintained that he never offered Blagojevich anything nor did he authorize anyone else to make offers to the governor for a Senate appointment. Ultimately, Blagojevich appointed former Attorney General Roland Burris to the seat, after U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL) turned down the appointment.

Jackson’s wife, Sandi, is a Chicago alderman representing the 7th Ward, which is also part of her husband’s congressional district. Halvorson spent one term representing the 11th Congressional District before she lost to Republican Adam Kinzinger in the 2010 election. While serving as a State Senator the one-term congresswoman was mentored by retired Senate President Emil Jones Jr. (D-Chicago), who ran against Jackson and lost in 1995. The Second District, which borders the 11th District, has been redrawn since the last election. And it begins at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive (Museum of Science & Industry) and stretches to the south suburbs. Among the south suburbs located in Jackson’s district whose population is majority Black, are Riverdale, Dolton, Harvey, Markham, Chicago Heights, Ford Heights, and Robbins.

Rather than answer allegations by Halvorson, Jackson said he would let the voters decide if he deserves another term. He has not yet officially announced he is running for re-election but is expected to do so this month. “I’ve secured more than $900 million in federal investments in the Second Congressional District - more than any other congressman in the state during that period,” he said. “I’ve also worked with local communities to secure $700 million in private funds to build a new airport that will create 15,000 new jobs.” One community activist cautioned those who think Jackson would win re-election with no problem.

“Jackson has some baggage that could come back to hurt him so it is not a safe bet he will easily win re-election,” said Neal Foster, 59. “(But) I don’t see Halvorson or any other white candidate beating Jackson without the support of Blacks or unless another Black candidate were to enter the race and split the Black vote.” One Black, elected official who will not be running for Congress is Alderman Anthony Beale, whose ninth ward is within Jackson’s district. The chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee said he is happy representing the 9th Ward in City Hall and has his hands full working to boost economic development, affordable housing and lowering crime in his far South Side ward, which includes the Roseland community. Beale’s name had surfaced on the rumor mill as potential Jackson opponent.

“I am absolutely not interested in running for that office,” Beale told the Crusader. He added that he is not yet ready to make an endorsement to Jackson or Halvorson because “I have not met with them yet. But I do know that whoever I support it would have to be someone who has the ninth ward’s best interest at heart.” Absent from Halvorson’s Oct. 7 news conference in Chicago Heights where she announced her candidacy were any Democratic elected officials.

“My campaign is not about politics but helping the residents of the Second Congressional District,” said Halvorson, who currently works as a lobbyist. “I do not need the heavy political hitters to stand here with me as long as I have the support of the people.”

Prior to serving in Congress, Halvorson served as clerk for the township of Crete, a south suburb in Jackson’s district, and a State Senator where she was majority leader.

Businesses Outside of Black Community in Daytona not Charged Same Special Event Fees

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By James Harper, Special to the NNPA from the Daytona Times –

Some members of the Second Avenue Merchants Association (SAMA) say Daytona Beach has been discriminatory when it comes to charging the organization fees for special events such as the upcoming Biketoberfest. SAMA members argue that some of the fees, such as clean-up and security, are not charged to other merchant associations.

SAMA members expressed their concerns to city commissioners recently while asking for control over vendors who use Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard during special events.

Hardy Smith, Daytona Beach’s Government Relations administrator, told the Times that the effort 20 years ago to make Second Avenue part of Bike Week "was not to discriminate but to provide (them an) opportunity in Bike Week with more favorable circumstances.’’

Vendor charges

Vendors who participate with SAMA pay the association directly. For Biketoberfest, it’s $300 to sell non-food items and $450 to sell food. SAMA keeps the fees collected and in turn provides services such as security and portable toilets.

Smith said discrimination charges can go both ways, noting that SAMA pays the city $400 for use of the entire boulevard from Ridgewood Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Individual vendors on Main Street and Beach Street pay $600 each to participate during special events such as Biketoberfest.

Although the vendor charge directly to the city is $600 each, property owners can charge vendors whatever he or she wants to make their profits, with the vendors charging what they need to on their wares or food items to get a return on their investment and make a profit, Smith pointed out.

Even though there is a Main Street Merchant Association and Downtown Daytona Beach Partnership Association, which are similar to SAMA, the first two associations "pay nothing" to the city for police, clean-up, public toilets on public property such as streets, sidewalks or the park, Smith said.

Smith said he believes everything works out the same with the extra charged to each vendor on Main Street and Beach Street.

No potty fee

Smith said SAMA charges each vendor enough to cover the charges they will incur by the city for police, clean up, etc. He explained that one of the main reasons for the arrangement with SAMA is because of the two parks in the area – Joe Harris Park and Daisy Stocking Park.

"If you left out the parks, it would be a different situation, he said.

At the recent meeting, SAMA officer Perman Shepard, told commissioners: "We have been taking care of Bike Week for 15 years. We have run into a problem. We take care of all the fees. We pay for the garbage, all the city money, fire department and police department.’’

Shepard is upset that there are some property owners and vendors who do not go through them and pay the city a one-time fee, but pay nothing to SAMA. However, they are allowed to take advantage of the port-o-lets in the area and contribute nothing to clean-up or security.

"These fees come out of our budget, which is low at this time. We are requesting SAMA take care all of the permits on MMB (Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard). We were responsible for all permits; sometime down the line it was changed," added Shepard.

Fees questioned

Commissioner Edith Shelley said she is concerned that SAMA has been charged for garbage pickup and police while the merchant associations on Main and Beach aren’t charged.

Added Commissioner Pam Woods: "Fees need to be in line with what others are paying. Let’s look at that. This could be a problem. Everybody’s independent but nobody is accountable. SAMA is the one left holding the bag. In other parts of the city, not one is left holding the bag.”

Commissioner Cassandra Reynolds became upset after learning SAMA was being billed for certain issues that other merchant associations weren’t paying.

"For whatever reason, for Main Street, we eat the issues. SAMA is being billed for the issues. We need to say they need to not be billed anymore; we’ll eat the issues on Second Avenue (Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard) as well," added Reynolds.

Commissioner Robert Gilliland stated: "If somebody commits a crime on public property, how can we bill them (SAMA)? That money needs to be refunded to SAMA unless they have evidence SAMA did this.’’

Woods, citing information she obtained that SAMA is charged $17,000 for Bike Week and $9,000 for Biketoberfest: "It’s not to say we are eating it. You can’t go out and pick somebody arbitrarily. That needs to change.’’

Issue of sewers

Deputy City Manager Paul McKitrick said SAMA represents businesses from Ridgewood to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

"There has always been one, two or three independents. We permit the independents separately and they pay the appropriate fees. But SAMA, because they represent the area, has always paid for police fire, traffic, garbage and they always made arrangements for port-a-lets," he explained.

McKitrick said the reason SAMA event coordinator Barbara Turner-Hymes is complaining is "recently our utilities department has been much stricter about the greases and materials put down storm sewers. Not knowing who else to charge, they charged SAMA."

Main Street and Beach Streets are the exact opposite of Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard, said McKitrick.

"We have no Main Street Association and Downtown Merchants Association who steps forward and puts together the festival. We have an aggregation of packages of individuals of applications," added McKitrick.

"If someone pours grease down the sewer, who do you bill?" asked Woods.

Answered McKitrick: "To the best of my knowledge, we’ve never had that problem. Never had to figure it out.’’

"What if it’s another kind of problem. Who do you bill on Main Street?’ asked Woods.

"I don’t know," McKitrick said.

Woods countered: "Paul, unless we can identify the property owner we’re left holding the bag.’’

City to SAMA: Work it out

About the vendor control issue, Commissioner Patrick Henry and other city officials believe SAMA needs to work the vendor issues out without their involvement.

"If I was a business owner and I don’t want to be part of an organization, I have the right to apply for a permit and do what I want to do on my property. There is no law that says they have to be a part of SAMA," Henry said.

"We’re sitting here tonight because they are at an impasse and there is no way they can work it out among themselves," said McKitrick, adding that SAMA needs to sit down and work it out among themselves.

"I don’t want to get involved," said Shelley about requiring vendors to come under SAMA but reiterating she is concerned about SAMA being charged for fees that other streets such as Main and Beach Street are not being charged.

Mayor Glenn Ritchey added: "This commission is not interested in getting involved with individual merchants. They need to work it out themselves. Properties need to come in compliance year-round so they can have Bike Week activities.’’

CDC: More Teen Males are Using Condoms

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

The number of teenage males who said they used a condom during the first time they had sex increased by nine percent since 2002, according to the latest report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the report entitled “Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth,” researchers disclosed that eight in 10 males said they used a condom during sex. The study also showed that 16 percent of teen males claim they used a condom as their female partner used a hormonal method, a six percent increase since 2002.

Although there have been improvements in pregnancy risk behaviors in teens, a disparity among races still exists. Non-Hispanic Black males are the most sexually experienced while there is a higher percentage of Hispanic males who use no contraceptive method.

Overall, 43 percent of never-married female teens and 42 percent of never-married teens had sexual intercourse at least once. This figure has not changed significantly since 2002. In fact, for the past 20 years, the CDC states that there has been a decline in the percentage of those who were sexually experienced.

Condoms remained the most commonly used method, according to the report.

Another CDC study revealed that most teenagers abstain from sex because the behavior does not align with their morals and religion.

Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA), said that teenagers still bear the brunt of high STD rates.

“While teens comprise only 25 percent of the population, they bear the burden of 50 percent of all new cases of STDs. Notably, girls ages 15-19 have the highest rates of Chlamydia,” the group said. “This troubling statistic overlaps the timeframe when most teens receive sex education instruction.”

Hundreds Participate in D.C. Statehood Rally, Jobs March

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By James Wright, Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer –

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) led the Full Democracy for D.C. Freedom Rally early Saturday and that march’s participants eventually joined the Jobs and Justice march led by the Rev. Al Sharpton on the grounds of the Washington Monument. Hurricane Irene forced the cancellation of the rally and march as well as the King Memorial dedication in August.

"In 1965, in a speech in Lafayette Park across from the White House, Dr. King said Congress had been 'derelict in their duties and sacred responsibility to make justice and freedom a reality for all citizens in the District of Columbia," Gray, 68, said in a speech before a throng of rally participants at Freedom Plaza in Northwest. "In the spirit of Dr. King's words, it is time for us to stand up and tell the nation, we have paid our dues and ask the question, 'when will we finally get a membership card in the United States of America."

The rally, which was emceed by Radio One talk show host LaToya Foster, received remarks from speakers that included D.C. City Council Chairman Kwame Brown (D) and members of the Council; former presidential candidate Ralph Nader; noted Washington, D.C. activist Phil Pannell; D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), former D.C. Del. Walter Fauntroy; Dr. E. Faye Williams, chair of the National Congress of Black Women; and D.C. Youth Co-Mayor Ryan Washington.

Loren Brown, Kwame Brown's daughter, delighted the crowd with her short speech.

"D.C. residents seek statehood," Loren, 10, said. "We do not have voting rights."

Using a quote King made famous, she said "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"We have to keep up the fight no matter what."

D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D) said that "we need statehood now, we are still not free." He suggested a march on the U.S. Capitol.

"We need to march on the Congress," Barry said. "We need to sit-in on all 535 offices."

After the rally, hundreds marched southward to the grounds of the Washington Monument for the Sharpton march. The D.C. statehood marchers who joined in from across the country, came to argue for fair and full employment for Americans, by marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial before arriving at their destination, the King Memorial.

Andrew Jackson of Detroit said that he planned to come to the King Memorial events in August but was deterred by the weather.

"I am here now and I am glad that I made the trip," Jackson, 40, said. "I think we have realized Dr. King's dream but we have work to do."

Sharpton said that jobless Americans have been disrespected by their government.

"We come here today because this country has ignored the plight of the unemployed and the chronically unemployed," Sharpton, leader of the National Action Network, said. "It is not right that you have 14 million people unemployed and one percent of the population owns 30-40 percent of all of the country's wealth."

Sharpton, who noted that conservative Republicans want to change, in a negative way, Social Security said "when you mess with Social Security, it's not about Obama, it's about my mama."

Martin Luther King III, King's oldest living child, said that redistribution of wealth was his father's priority in his last days. In speculating "that was why he was killed," King said that despite the memorial that honors his father, "we got work to do."

MLK Dedication Sets Tone for Fight for Justice

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By George Barnette, Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspaper –

People of all hues came from all over to pay tribute to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the only one on the mall for someone other than an American president. Charles Arterson and Baron Lewis who say they marched with Dr. King, had no intention of missing this grand reunion. It was truly a long time coming.

The crowd, decked out in commemorative Tommy Hilfiger white hats, was mostly positive, cheering the speakers and singing along with the musicians.

However, there were moments in the ceremony that seemed more like a rally against today’s ills than a celebration of the work of Dr. King. Several speakers used the podium as an opportunity to take on today’s injustices.

“This is a marker of the fight for justice today and a projection of the fight for justice in the future because we will not stop until we get the equal justice Dr. King fought for,” said Rev. Al Sharpton.

“Just like Dr. King talked about occupying Washington, just like there are those occupying Wall Street; we’re going to occupy the voting booth and we’re going to take those in that stand for justice and retire those that stand in the way,” he continued.

Other speakers talked about the man, Dr. King, with sometimes little known facts. Ambassador Andrew Young, former Atlanta mayor, spoke of Dr. King’s only complex – his height.

“He was really just 5’7” and he was always getting upset with tall people who looked down on him,” Young said. “Now he’s thirty feet tall looking down on everybody.”

There were also several musical selections. Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Sweet Honey and the Rock and Aretha Franklin were some of the highlighted performers.

However, the highlight of the ceremony was the speech given by President Barack Obama, who took the stage amid chants of “four more years.” He spoke of Dr. King’s will and how despite the decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education, Dr. King still had to fight to get the Civil Rights Act passed 10 years later in 1964. The President said gumption and determination are what Americans need today to move forward.

“We can’t get hung up on what is,” Obama said. “We’ve got to keep pushing towards what ought to be.”

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