Chicago, IL

Judge certifies Wal-Mart class action-lawyers

June 22, 2004
A federal judge on Tuesday certified a class action suit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., charging the world's biggest retailer discriminated against women. Attorneys for the plaintiffs said it was the largest civil rights class action case in U.S. history.
     U.S. District Court Judge Martin Jenkins certified the class of some 1.6 million women who worked for Wal-Mart's U.S. stores at any time since December 26, 1998, attorneys for the six lead plaintiffs said.
     The lawsuit, filed in 2001, accuses the largest U.S. private-sector employer of discriminating against women employees in pay, promotions and training, and retaliating against those who complained.
     

Clarence Page: Finding hope in bleak racial statistics

April 10, 2004
I was reading through National Urban League's latest report on the State of Black America when I was jerked alert by a startling statistic:
     More than 40 percent of the black respondents to an Urban League poll felt "very little" or "no improvement" had been made in economic and social mobility since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed 40 years ago.
     What? Little or no improvement? What, I wondered, about the quadrupling of African Americans in the middle income brackets, according to census reports? What about the shrinking of black poverty rates from almost two-thirds to less than one-third? What about the dramatic growth in black elected officials? Black college professors and presidents? Black corporate CEO's? Colin Powell?

Racial problems plague Chicago Fire Dept.

April 06, 2004
After 25 years as a firefighter, Curtis Humphries knows his job on certain calls is mostly limited to helping paramedics.
     A recent call was different. "Black people did not want to talk to the whites," said Humphries, who is black. "I told them, I said, 'I can help you, but to be honest, you just threw out the guy that knew more."
     As Humphries' experience illustrates, these are tough times at the Chicago Fire Department. A white firefighter's racial slur over a department radio triggered a spate of anonymous slurs and once again racial problems that have plagued the department for decades were exposed.

A rent subsidy plan I can live with

March 17, 2004
Affordable housing suddenly is on the legislative agenda in Springfield. And it comes not a moment too soon for the estimated 285,000 families in Illinois who spend more than half their monthly income on rent.
     According to a report from the Chicago Rehab Network, 40 percent of renters in Illinois don't make enough money to afford a two-bedroom apartment--which means the burden of trying to find affordable housing increasingly affects the middle class. Teachers, police officers, government workers -- not to mention the clerks at Walgreens -- no longer can afford to live in decent housing.
     Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston) chairs the Illinois House Committee on Housing and Urban Development. This year is the first time in more than a decade that affordable housing issues have been on the political agenda in Springfield, she said, and she has been ''surprised and pleased'' to see the issue is drawing bipartisan support.

Family of boy sues Glenview Condo Ass'n over wheelchair policy

March 16, 2004
The family of a 9-year-old boy who uses a wheelchair filed a federal discrimination lawsuit Monday against a Glenview condominium association for allegedly barring him from reaching his home through the front entrance.
     Lawyers representing Jaime Trujillo, 9, filed the suit in U.S. District Court claiming that the Triumvera Tower Condominium Association violated anti-discrimination laws in forcing the boy to use a rear entrance. The lawyers are from Access Living, described as the Chicago area's only center for independent living by people with disabilities.
     According to the suit, the Trujillo family was informed upon moving into the complex in September 2003 that Jaime would have to use a rear door because of a policy that prohibited strollers, wheelchairs and furniture from going through the front. The policy was aimed at preventing damage to the front entrance, according to the suit.

Tills seek to set record straight

February 18, 2004
When Simeon Wright hears a car drive past his house, he still thinks of his cousin Emmett Till, who was kidnapped by two white men from a bed the boys were sharing in August 1955 in Money, Miss.
     "Every car that passed that night, I thought it was those men bringing him back," he said.
     Instead, his cousin's 14-year-old pistol-whipped body was pulled from Mississippi's Tallahatchie River three days later--a gunshot wound in his head and an industrial fan lashed to his neck with barbed wire.

Putting diversity ideas into practice

January 26, 2004
Residents of the Northwest suburbs have plenty of ideas about how to make their communities more welcoming for minorities.
     Those who attended a forum about diversity last fall in Mount Prospect said the suburbs need more English as a Second Language programs in local schools and libraries. And stronger neighborhood involvement. And more affordable housing.
     This week, residents will see if they can turn those ideas into actions.
     The Mount Prospect Community Relations Commission on Wednesday will sponsor an informal discussion of what the suburbs need to do to become open and inclusive.

Chicago Federal Home Loan Bank buys HUD mortgages to support homeownership in Indian Country

January 22, 2004
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary Michael Liu joined Alex Pollock, President and CEO of the Chicago Federal Home Loan Bank to announce the first purchase of HUD Section 184 mortgages by a Federal Home Loan Bank. This HUD program is designed to give Native American families the opportunity to own their own homes. The involvement of the Chicago FHLB extends the initiative to the 884 FHLB member financial institutions in Illinois and Wisconsin.
     "The Federal Home Loan Bank's purchase provides a welcome addition to the financial options available to Native American families and is another step towards increasing homeownership for more Americans," said Liu. "These families are now living the American Dream of homeownership."
     "We are pleased to use our funding capabilities to expand the home financing options for our member institutions, so they in turn, can better serve the needs of their Native American customers," said Pollock.

Police now record 'race' of drivers

January 02, 2004
Illinois' first statewide effort to deal with perceived racial profiling began Thursday, and the outlook for the program is as unknown as for the coming year itself.
     Some groups, though, are already concerned the well-intentioned measure won't be effective.
     Initially resisted by law enforcement and praised by civil rights groups, the new law requires police officers to record the race of the driver of every vehicle they stop. The information will be analyzed later in an attempt to see if police are "profiling" - disproportionately pulling over people on the basis of their appearance.

Bank One, Fannie Mae teaming to help disabled buy homes

November 13, 2003
Bank One Corp. and Fannie Mae, which buys mortgage loans, say they will make it easier for disabled Chicagoans to buy homes.
     The two companies announced Fannie's Community HomeChoice program, in which Bank One agrees to loosen its lending standards for physically and developmentally disabled people to make it easier for them to buy homes. Fannie, the largest buyer of home mortgages, agrees to purchase the loans from Bank One.
     It's the first program in Chicago in which a bank has agreed to change its lending criteria for disabled people, said Karen Tamley, director of programs for Access Living, which helps disabled individuals with training and assistance. Thus far, any programs that provide home-buying help to disabled people have been limited to grants and other aid, she said.

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