- Created on 01 October 2012
Pictured left to right – John W. Daniels, Chairman of Quarles & Brady LLP, Roland Martin, Senator Kwame Raoul, partner at Quarles & Brady LLP and Thomas Hart, Partner at Quarles & Brady LLP
WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 26, 2012) — The national law firm of Quarles & Brady LLP hosted CEOs, corporate clients, public officials and media executives at the 2nd Annual Chairman’s Brunch at the Willard Hotel on September 22, during the Congressional Black Caucus 42th Annual Legislative Weekend.
Nationally syndicated columnist and CNN analyst Roland Martin addressed 150 guests with his perspectives on the 2012 election and challenged them to become more involved in increasing voter turnout.
“We’re very pleased that so many of our clients and elected officials could join us for this special occasion,” said Quarles Chairman John W. Daniels Jr. “Our brunch has become one of the highlights of the CBC weekend, and we’re delighted that Quarles & Brady has had the opportunity to host an event of this magnitude.”
“It was an honor to attract so many distinguished guests to our brunch," added the firm’s Director of Government Relations, Thomas A. Hart Jr. “Roland Martin mixed humor with substance to explain the current challenges and opportunities presented by the upcoming election."
Together, with Quarles partner and Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul, clients from some of the many industries that Quarles & Brady represents were among the brunch guests, including ExxonMobil, BMO Harris, Time Warner Cable and AT&T. Senior representatives from the Democratic and Republican parties, numerous elected officials and judges, college presidents as well as the newly appointed U.S. diplomatic representative to the 67th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, Dr. Joan Prince, also attended.
About Quarles & Brady LLP
Quarles & Brady LLP is a full-service law firm with more than 400 attorneys practicing from offices in Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Naples and Tampa, Fla.; Chicago, Ill; Madison and Milwaukee, Wis.; Washington, D.C.; and Shanghai, China. The firm provides an array of legal services to corporate and individual clients, which range from small entrepreneurial businesses to Fortune 100 companies. Additional information about the firm may be found at www.quarles.com, and on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
- Created on 28 September 2012
The ability to welcome students into her classroom and the passion to make students feel appreciated followed former teacher Andrea White to her new boutique.
White has worked in boutiques for almost as long as she has taught in Chicago Public Schools, but a layoff led her to open Anie's Accents, a South Loop clothing shop for women. The shop, 1237 S. Michigan Ave., officially opened earlier this month. She wants women of all colors and ages to feel at home when they step foot into her showroom.
"When I'm here alone, that's when I know the race begins to make a difference and make this a different type of environment for all women of all colors to come in, even if they don't buy anything," White told the Defender.
"Because believe it or not, there are a lot of people out here who are lonely, they need a friend, they need advice, they need a place to just sit sometimes."
If White's open and attentive demeanor does not put customers at ease, then the layout of the room definitely will do the job.
The charcoal-colored shag rugs creates a fun and comfortable environment. The splash of red from items throughout the room is not too harsh on the eye and brings energy without going overboard. The window display is unique in its own way with silhouette mannequins straight from New York City that have creative lampshades for heads.
Stylist Rosalyn Draine used green moss on one lampshade and Vogue Magazine strips to create a confetti look on the other. She said she wanted to be eco-friendly, while having fun. She described the boutique as "urban chic."
Long before White opened the shop, she was receiving plenty of practice from working in her mother Barbara's boutique.
Coincidently, both women opened a boutique in their early 60s.
She never saw herself doing the same thing years later and there was never a conversation with her mother about the business venture.
"She was quite surprised and a little leery because anyone that's 80-years old feels that teaching is a safe place. I've always heard behind the desk you're safe," White said.
After selling garments in her Hyde Park home for years, White took a leap of faith and opened her boutique. She sets it apart from others by small personal touches.
In the fitting room hangs a small sign: "You are beautiful, your true beauty lies in becoming yourself."
"I want them to feel comfortable here because there are a lot of women who say 'I'm big back here, but I don't have anything here or my stomach...' I can fix that," said White.
"It takes a special owner or stylist to know that because shopping is a very emotional thing."
The hard work happens behind the scenes because White makes her job appear effortlessly. Many of the pieces she sells in her shop come from places like Miami, Los Angeles and her favorite city, New York where she attends fashion shows.
She travels to New York's fashion district to purchase from vendors in smaller shops. Dressing comfortably on those trips is important, she said.
"They open their doors at 8a.m. and 9a.m. and you have to be there to get the goodies. It's a lot of work because you're up early and they close their doors at 5p.m.," she said.
After her trips to the fashion district or other locations, she brings home handbags, clutches, colorful scarves, jewelry, jeans, tops, dresses. Anie's Accents even sells candles, candle lighters, soaps and fragrances by Tocca.
The boutique also carries plus sizes.
"Most women that pass here ask 'are you going to carry for the larger woman? A lot of young women are larger and they want that edge too," she said.
Her two daughters help attract the younger crowd with their ideas, White said.
"My style has changed because there are so many universities and colleges on this strip. There are so many young people that pass here so I have to think about the cross body bags and not the type of bag that I would carry...youthful fun stuff for young women," she said.
Her inspiration and fashion sense comes from her mother, White said. The ambitious shop owner is grateful for a supportive husband and two daughters who help out when they are available.
White said she would consider an expansion if business continues to do well, but nothing in the near future.
"I don't know what God has in store for me. I'm not going to limit myself to just this one door, but I'm open and ready for bigger and better," she said.
- Created on 17 September 2012
Sept. 17 marks the one-year anniversary of the start of the Occupy Wall Street movement, when a small group of people set up camp in Zuccotti Park to protest the abuse of power and money by the 1 percent, represented by Wall Street. People of color quickly began to solidify their presence and to speak out, as part of the movement, against the struggles their people have faced for centuries.
The People of Color Caucus (POCcupy), a working group within OWS, formed on Sept. 23. The group was made up of people of color from each of the over 100 other working groups in OWS and officially had the power to halt larger group meetings when POCcupy members recognized prejudice or oppression in group meetings.
"Let's be real. The economic crisis did not begin with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008," read POCcupy's first group statement. "Indeed, people of color and poor people have been in a state of crisis since the founding of this country, and for indigenous communities, since before the founding of the nation. We have long known that capitalism serves only the interests of a tiny, mostly white, minority."
Sharon Cromwell, one of the founders of POCcupy, now says, "After four months of commitment to the Occupy movement, I was disappointed to find that in general it was not a safe space for advancing the struggle of communities of color or even addressing the ways in which racism prevails in American society. OWS was important on shifting public discourse ... but it wasn't the best venue for organizing around issues that affect communities of color. "
Early in the history of OWS, two Black men, Malik Rassan and Preach, also started Occupy the Hood to address the issues in their community that they did not see incorporated into the work at OWS.
Twelve months later, Rassan says, "Occupy was a sham. Occupy is on its last leg and it's just trying its best. People who are anti-politics are now pro-Obama. They were anti-everything, and now they're pro-everything. So Occupy is broken—the message is broken. They let America down. But Occupy the Hood will keep going without them."
From the beginning, the movement was also quickly criticized for its lack of class and racial diversity and understanding. But people of color were far from absent and continued to do work within, around and, of course, without OWS.
As the Occupy movement grew, general assemblies, large meetings that used forms of direct democracy, sprung up across New York and the country. Groups in the Bronx and Sunset Park began to more directly address the issues of people across the city. In Philadelphia, Occupiers of Color addressed and fought racism within Occupy Philadelphia itself, and in Occupy Oakland, one of the most active and powerful branches, people of color took center stage.
Civil rights leaders came out in droves to participate, support or lend guidance to OWS. Ben Jealous and the NAACP issued a formal statement in support of OWS; Norman Seagel led OWS's Martin Luther King Day festivities; Ben Chavis began the initiative Occupy the Dream; Jazz Hayden led people to anti-prison groups and helped them begin filming police; Harry Belafonte spoke at an OWS council; Angela Davis spoke at OWS general assemblies and started the Liberation Summer project—the list goes on. Some of these leaders also started the Elders' Council, a body that formed and held large public events to give guidance to the OWS "kids."
"In this season of the Arab Spring and OWS, many are coming to the realization that we are coming to an awakening," said the Rev. Stephen Phelps, interim senior minister of Riverside Church, at an OWS MLK Day event at the church. "This country needs a conversion, a turning of the heart." Phelps was later arrested with a group, including some from OWS, protesting the NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactics.
On Nov. 17, the original OWS encampment at Zuccotti Park was violently dismantled by hundreds of riot police. The brutality of the police on that night made many occupiers, now with their own negative experience of police, refocus their efforts toward police brutality and the prison-industrial complex across the city.
This led them to Davis and the Occupy-related group Liberation Summer, who, according to their purpose statement, were "inspired by the resurgence of social movements around the world that are illuminating the root causes of social crises, class inequality, bigotry and human rights violation." During the summer, the group worked to "mobilize thousands nationwide to organize and deepen resistance to criminalization and mass incarceration."
OWS is planning a weekend of events, including a main event on the anniversary, Sept. 17, called "All Roads lead to Wall Street," to remind the country of the connections they see between all the struggles we face. While many of the original occupiers of color are no longer a part of OWS itself, they have created new collectives and joined the many groups working in neighborhoods of color.
When the People of Color Caucus stopped holding meetings, some of its founders started the group DecoloNYC, "an alliance of activists and advocates of color dedicated to building power and supporting economic, political and social self-determination in our communities," according to the group's website. DecoloNYC has helped raise awareness and support for various community-led initiatives in Brooklyn and the Bronx and has held community mixers to introduce people of color to others working on similar projects. For the one-year anniversary, DecoloNYC is inviting all activists of color and their allies to help them celebrate the amplification of racial justice work in New York City and to join the group at Judson Memorial Church on Sunday, Sept. 16, from 2 to 5 p.m.
Take Back the Bronx, formerly Occupy the Bronx, is still fighting for community control and is planning an event for Sept. 15 to help Bronx residents "take to the streets, in response not only to the police murder of Reynaldo Cuevas, but also to fight back against every incident of police harassment, brutality and murder that we suffer in our communities," according to the group's Facebook page. Cuevas was accidentally shot by a police officer as he fled a bodega that was being robbed.
On Wednesday, the OWS Council of Elders, now expanded into the National Council of Elders, released the Greensboro Declaration.
"This statement represents a new epoch," said 97-year-old Detroit revolutionary theorist and activist Grace Lee Boggs, author of "The Next American Revolution," in a statement. "It calls on Americans to become engaged in a different kind of citizenship, one that transforms their souls in addition to asking them to go to the polls."
Occupy the Hood quickly spread to hoods around the country, with Atlanta becoming a new leader with its "Feed the Hood" effort, which continues to regularly give out food, its community garden and children's programs. In July, Occupy the Hood held its first national gathering in Atlanta, Hood Week, and is now planning a Hood Week in New York from Oct. 26 to 28, with panels and events to include appearances by Cornel West, Rebel Diaz, Jasiri X, the Amsterdam News' own Herb Boyd, and even a call from Mumia Abu-Jamal.
"I would say off the cuff, OWS really showed how deep the systemic racism really is, even among the white progressive liberals. And really how deeply rooted white supremacy is ingrained in their psyche," Preach said this week while preparing to attend some of OWS's anniversary events.
"We have been fighting this fight for a long time, and right now we see we need a more direct effort toward the neighborhoods where these things are going on," he said. "For them to say, it's bigger than that and tell us what we need to do, its kind of insulting. All y'all want to do is change leadership, but we're trying to change the world."
- Created on 26 September 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — For the past year, as the presidential election unfolded, President Barack Obama confronted a dizzying swell of economic news — hiring up, hiring down, a euro crisis abroad, seesawing gasoline prices at the pump, foreclosures dragging down home values.
Six weeks before the election, those highs and lows are merging into a straighter line which, while below optimum performance, is moving in a positive direction for the country and for the president in his contest with Republican rival Mitt Romney.
Consumer confidence is at its highest level since February. Home values are up and, more important in the election season, housing prices in 20 major cities, many of them in battleground states, rose in July. Despite recent declines, the stock market has been on an upswing, adding value to Americans' 401(k) retirement plans.
Improving consumer confidence is certainly a positive sign for Obama, who has faced a slow economic recovery and a stubbornly high unemployment rate that has remained above 8 percent since virtually the start of his presidency. The consumer confidence index, as measured by The Conference Board, jumped from 61.3 for August to 70.3 for September, though it remains well below 90, the level that is thought to signify a healthy economy.
The numbers track with recent public opinion polls showing that while a majority of Americans say the country is heading in the wrong direction, an increasing number say the country is on the right path. The rising optimism also coincides with polls showing Obama opening leads in some crucial swing states, including all-important Ohio.
If Obama's advantage holds through Election Day, September may be remembered as a pivotal month when political and economic attitudes began to gel.
A weak recovery still makes the economy vulnerable, and public opinion can still change during the critical month of October. Three debates next month between Obama and Romney have the potential of shaking up the race. And the stock market showed its fickleness Tuesday with its worst sell-off since June after a Federal Reserve official cast doubt on the effectiveness of the central bank's recent economy-boosting measures.
But with early voting already under way in some states and with a shrinking number of persuadable voters, Obama aides see a favorable political landscape despite Romney's focus on sluggish growth.
Obama advisers have long argued that despite the economy's weak performance, Obama's re-election hopes rested on a positive trend line. Indeed, Obama has been running an ad since the Democratic convention earlier this month that points to private sector job growth even as it acknowledges "we're not there yet."
"The economy is perceived in relative rather than absolute terms," said St. Louis University political scientist and pollster Ken Warren.
Romney aides argue that their bottom-line argument — that the country cannot afford another four years of Obama — remains a winning message that can still resonate with undecided voters.
While the confidence accrues to the president's benefit, consumer attitudes are more a reflection of their economic perceptions than they are of presidential approval. What's more, studies of the relationship between politics and consumer confidence show that falling confidence hurts a president's approval rating more than rising confidence helps.
If the president can benefit, pollsters say Democrats and Republicans seeking re-election in tough contests might also profit from improving economic indicators.
"It would help all incumbents because people are less angry," Warren said.
The rise in confidence comes as the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index showed that national home prices rose 1.2 percent in July compared with a year ago, increasing home equity and, by extension, the perception of personal wealth.
"People pick up on that very quickly," said Rob Shapiro, an economist and former adviser to President Bill Clinton. "They're no longer getting poor every month. So people think, 'OK, we are on a better path, even if we're proceeding on it a lot more slowly than I expected or hoped.'"
Significantly, prices are rising in many large cities in swing states such as Florida, Colorado, Michigan and North Carolina. Prices have risen 3.6 percent in Tampa, Fla., in the past year, for example. And they're up 5.4 percent in Denver, 6.2 percent in Detroit and 2.2 percent in Charlotte, N.C.
Still, Obama is bucking trends. Unemployment stands at 8.1 percent, and no president has been re-elected with unemployment above 8 percent since the Great Depression. Despite improving public attitudes, an Associated Press-GfK poll this month found 52 percent of likely voters said the country was moving in the wrong direction.
"Going from absolutely horrible to really, really bad is not exactly an endorsement of an incumbent president's record," Republican pollster Whit Ayres said. "We're a long way from measures that show the American people have confidence in the direction of the economy."
Shapiro concedes that the politics are confounding. A Washington Post poll out Tuesday showed Obama leading Romney among likely voters in Ohio, 52 to 44 percent. The president also had a slight edge in Florida, 51 to 47 percent among those most likely to vote.
"We have a president who is leading in a very convincing way despite economic numbers that suggest that he should either be losing or just hanging on, and he's not just hanging on," Shapiro said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
- Created on 17 September 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The state of Illinois is running into credit trouble, just like anyone else who pays bills late and owes lots of money.
Two major agencies have lowered the Illinois credit rating this year. That generally means the state pays higher interest rates when it borrows money for road construction, school improvements and other public works.
The governor's budget office says it can't calculate how much that costs the state. But financial experts say it probably amounts to tens of millions of dollars each year.
Luckily, interest rates are very low right now, softening the blow to the state treasury.
Rating agencies say the downgrades are largely because officials haven't fixed state pension problems.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.