Human Chess Program Prevents Harlem Kids From Becoming Gang Pawns


Human Chess Program Prevents Harlem Kids From Becoming Gang Pawns

The Chess Lords program improves critical thinking, mathematics and tamps down…


Voting Rights Uprising: Activists in Three States Help GOP’s Targets Get Voter ID

Voting Rights Uprising: Activists in Three States Help GOP’s Targets Get Voter ID

Grassroots groups in Wisconsin, Tennessee and Colorado help GOP targets obtain credentials to vote in 2012.
April 24, 2012 |


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The GOP-led effort to disenfranchise likely Democratic voting blocks by enacting tougher state voter ID laws has run into a new obstacle: targeted populations are fighting back as voting rights advocates are helping people obtain the necessary ID.

Grassroots efforts in Tennessee, Wisconsin and Colorado are profiled in a newreport, “Got ID? Helping Americans Get Voter Identification,” fromCommon Cause,Demos, Fair Elections Legal Network, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The report is an important counterpoint to persistent progressive messaging about the GOPs attack on voting rights that typically has not informed people how to overcome the barriers.

This report gives Americans the tools they need to fight back and make their voices heard, said Jenny Rose Flanagan, director of voting and elections at Common Cause.

The battle over tougher ballot access is a years-long fight where proponentsarguments are not supported by facts on the ground and mask their partisan goalsshaping the electorate to achieve or maintain political power. There isnothing new about enacting laws (or running campaign ads) to discourage voting.

In 2003, states began enacting photo ID laws. Pushed by Republicans and a few conservative Southern Democrats, the goal was to restrict voting by slices of society the power-brokers considered undesirable: minorities, low-income people, students, the disabled and elderlythe very people likely to vote against them. Proponents proclaimed photo ID laws would protect election integrity of the process by prevent unregistered voters from casting ballots, and preclude miscreants from voting more than once. They said people could not board a flight without a photo ID, so why not require the same for voting, which is far more important than merely taking a trip.

The problem is that not everyone has a state-issued photo IDparticularly people who do not drive, such as many inner city residents, students and older people. Moreover, voting fraudor posing as another person and casting a ballotis rare. If it does happen, it usually is singular instances that are typically caught by election officials and prosecuted. Even right-wing provocateur James OKeefes recent gambits to try to fraudulently vote (such as in the 2012 New Hampshire Primary) saw him fleefor fear of being arrested. Nonetheless, GOP majorities have passed tougher state ID laws, affecting millions, knowing that elections can turn on very slim margins.

To date, 30 states require voters to show ID to get a ballot. The toughest version of this law, requiring residents present a specific state-issued photo ID, are in place in five states: Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Other states have passed photo ID laws, but those changes have either been rejected by the U.S. Department of Justice in South Carolina and Texas, which has jurisdiction under the Voting Rights Act, or face a pending DOJ decision (Alabama), or have been suspended by a federal court (Wisconsin, although an appeal is pending). Several other states are considering similar legislation. A Virginia bill is back before its legislature. Minnesota will vote on it in November.

Unlike 2008, grassroots groups in key states are working to empower voters to obtain the needed ID to vote this fall. Three states are setting an example for others to follow.


In typical Badger State style, local groups have galvanized around the voting rights challenge imposed by the states photo ID lawwhich was adopted by the Republican majority in 2011 but was recently found unconstitutional by a federal court. The states GOP leaders have appealed. Meanwhile, activists are not taking any chancesnot with a gubernatorial recall election and presidential election this year.

A lot of organizations are running on limited resources, using a lot of volunteers to try to help people get IDs if thats possible, said Tova Wang of Demos.

Thats exactly whats happening. Milwaukee provides free birth certificates for those who dont have them, and activists are providing free transportation to the Department of Motor Vehicles so voters can get IDs, she said.

Another key program, Wisconsin Voices, developed a relationship with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Advocates filed a public records request and got more than 2 million names of residents with drivers’ licenses. That was cross-referenced with a voter contact and management system. As a result, 1.3 million individuals were identified who may need photo IDs to vote.

To help college students, meanwhile, organizers set up the Be a Voter! program to get thousands of them registered before upcoming elections. Milwaukee churches also were mobilized to assist inner-city residents take the steps necessary to get proper identification. And a group called 9to5 focuses its outreach on low-income women and young people so they can get proper credentials. Elderly advocates are also assessing how many eligible voters lack birth certificates in senior centers.


In Tennessee, the Voter Assistance Coalition has been reaching out to communities though a network of grassroots partnersunions, churches and students and teachers at colleges and universities, according to Ben Hovland, an attorney with the Fair Elections Legal Network. The coalition has been identifying those who lack credentials, primarily people without drivers licenses, which is about 10 percent of prospective voters.

Now, to get a drivers license, you need a birth certificate, Hovland explained. Some people dont have one, have lost it, and some are born outside a hospital and never got one. The Coalition walks people through the arduous task of getting a birth certificate, and then a drivers license. Once it helps people to secure birth certificates, local churches provide rides to DMV offices so people can get photo required IDs.

For older Tennessee residents theres an added problem. The state does not require older drivers to have photographs on their licenses and Holvand says many folks dont have them. The Coalition has been assisting seniors to get new licenses with photos.

What Tennessee is doing can be done anywhere, he said. Our hope is that in places where there are these bad laws that citizens and community groups can help their fellow residents so that fewer people will be disenfranchised.


Colorado does not have a photo ID law for voting. But low-income state residents have had to deal with a similar intrusion, said Common Causes Flanagan. In 2006, its legislature required picture ID for people who receive public benefits. That spawned the Collaborative ID project, which is now working to ensure eligible voters will not face obstacles at the polls.

Linda Olson, senior attorney for Colorado Legal Services, said during a special session that year, lawmakers passed several immigration bills. One of them was H.B. 1023 on public benefits. The thinking was there were undocumented people receiving public benefits and this was a way to weed them out by requiring everyone to have a state ID, Olson said. The reality is they didnt find hardly any undocumented people getting public benefits.

For the past six years, the Collaborative ID project has helped people get birth certificates and IDs. Some are lawfully present immigrants but most of our clients are U.S. citizens, Olson said.

The project has already helped 10,000 people obtain proper IDs, Flanagan said, but its a costly undertaking. The need has outstripped what the group can do, Olson said. Foundation funding provides money so the poor can get birth certificates or other ID. We have $5,000 a month for that and were usually turning people away by the fifth of each month, she said.

National Model

While other state legislatures across the country consider voter ID legislation, Were hopeful we wont continue to see these laws passed, said Common Causes Flanagan. Once these laws pass, the impact is so great. The Fair Election Legal Networks Hovland agreed. These laws are unnecessary and they certainly are going to have an impact on certain segments of the population.

Whether the number of states increases, the Got ID? report suggests more groups must step forward to help eligible voters.

It is vitally important that community leaders, particularly those who work with communities of color, young people, seniors, and people with disabilities take an active role in helping voters acquire the requisite photo ID, said Chris Melody Fields, of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Many local organizations are just beginning to get started, Wang noted, and hopefully there will be more funding.

The report is a wake-up call to voting rights advocates: get moving to ensure everyone can vote. And time is running out. The presidential election is just 28 weeks away.

George Bauer is a print and broadcast journalist living in Atlanta, Georgia.




* The New York Racing Association knowingly withheld millions of dollars owed to bettors at three racetracks despite its claim that the failure to increase payouts was inadvertent, the New York Times reports:

* Gov. Andrew Cuomo could endorse Ray Kelly if he runs for New York City mayor but plans to stay mum during the Democratic primary and then consider the winners positions, says the Posts Fred Dicker:

* Hundreds of staffers in the state Senate and Assembly only work part time but still get full-time pay and benefits, including several six-figure staffers to Sen. Dean Skelos and the Senate Republicans, the Daily News Ken Lovett notes:

* The NYPD and targeted companies are bracing for Occupy Wall Streets May Day protests, an effort to shut down the city that is also a test of the movements strength, the Wall Street Journal reports:

* Two schools just blocks apart in the South Bronx were similar on many measures but one earned an F and the other an A in the citys report cards, an example of how the grading system is imprecise and arbitrary, the Times writes:

* Twenty-two people who were arrested while demonstrating against the NYPDs stop-and-frisk policy last October plan to repeat their complaints when they go on trial today, the Associated Press reports:

* The new 1 World Trade Center skyscraper is expected to become New York Citys tallest building today, surpassing the Empire State Building with the installation of a steel column on its 100th floor, the Times reports:


Air Quality Awareness Week

Air Quality Awareness Week (April 30 – May 4) is a great opportunity to learn more about how your local air quality may affect your health.

You may have heard references to “Code Orange” or “Code Red” air quality days during local weather reports. Air quality assessments are taken from the Air Quality Index (AQI), which indicates how clean or polluted your air is.

Poor air quality can pose health concerns to children, older adults, and those with certain kinds of health issues; but even healthy young adults can be adversely affected by polluted air. Depending on the air quality and your level of sensitivity, staying indoors may sometimes help to alleviate symptoms.

Other resources:

Notify NYC – Silver Alert

Silver Alert issued on 04/29/12 at 4:55 AM. The NYPD has issued a Silver Alert for Isabel Pasqual, 86. Ms. Pasqual was last seen at 69 Pinehurst Avenue in Manhattan on April 28th at 10:30 AM. Isabel is a Hispanic woman, with dark skin, auburn hair, brown eyes and was last seen wearing, a green head scarf, and utilizing a cane. Isabel suffers from Alzheimer’s. If you see this person please contact 1-800-577-TIPS(8477). You can also submit tips at

The sender included the following attachment:

The sender provided the following contact information.
Sender’s Name: Notify NYC
Sender’s Email: notifynyc
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African-American – News

African-American – News April 29, 2012

Rally held to promote naming of Division Street for Martin Luther King Jr.
Rally held to promote naming of Division Street for Martin Luther King Jr. (Star-Telegram)
Carrying signs and chanting slogans including “Let’s Pave the Way for MLK” on Saturday, about 100 people kicked off the Arlington branch of the NAACP’s campaign to rename Division Street after Martin Luther King Jr.
NCNW Celebrates Community Youth (TheDay.Com)
On Sunday, April 22, 2012, the New London County Section of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc., honored 6 young scholars during its annual Founder’s Day Luncheon at Ocean Beach, Port ‘N Starboard.

Detroit Sistas Unite And Embrace Natural Hair Like Family (NewsOne)
There is nothing new about black women’s desire to return to their natural roots by rejecting the modern norm of frying their hair with relaxers and other chemical-laced hairstyles.

April is the designated month to focus on health, especially for the ethnic communities (Milwaukee Courier Online)
You would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard that smoking and tobacco use can cause cancer and aggravate other health issues and diseases.

North Greenwood Recreation Complex Could be Renamed After Rev. Walter C. Campbell (Patch)
Jeff Kronschnabl, who started working with the city as a police officer in 1972, came to the North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Center Tuesday with a wheeled cart holding four boxes filled with paperwork.

Recent Alumna Returns To Rahway High School To Share Her Success With Her Former Teachers (Clarks Hometown News Patriot)
Recently, T-Kea Blackman, a 2008 graduate of Rahway High School, visited her teachers to thank them for encouraging her and to share her college/career successes.


Summer on the Hudson: Shape Up in West Harlem Piers Park ZUMBA

Summer on the Hudson: Shape Up in West Harlem Piers Park ZUMBA

Date: May 5, 2012

Shape Up NYC (partnered with the Department of Parks and Recreation, Equinox, NYC Service, and Empire BlueCross Blue Shield) offers more than 175 free fitness classes every week at locations across the five boroughs to helpNew Yorkers shape up.

Mercy Irizarry teaches Zumba class on Saturdays in West Harlem Piers Park – Enter at 125th St.

Start time: 11:00 am

End time: 12:00 pm

Contact phone: 311

Location: West Harlem Piers Park

Summer on the Hudson: Shape Up in West Harlem Piers Park ZUMBA
Sun, 29 Apr 2012 04:00:08 GMT

28 April, 2012 14:05

Bloomberg Names Winners of Inaugural NYC Literary Awards (The New York Observer)
Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced today the winners of the inaugural NYC Literary Honors award for “scholars who have demonstrated a lifetime of achievement and for whom New York has been a central inspiration.” The award is means to honor the role the publishing industry plays in the city’s economy and celebrate the role that literature plays in the … (more)

Can Old Harlem Be a Part of the Changes Sweeping the Neighborhood?
Can Old Harlem Be a Part of the Changes Sweeping the Neighborhood? (The New York Observer)
Martha Brown has worked in Harlem for more than three decades and has lived in the neighborhood for even longer.
Hues of History (Express)
The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s new “African-American Art: The Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era and Beyond” exhibit features works from a relatively narrow span of years – 100 pieces by 43 artists, made between 1922 and 1994.


Notify NYC – Notification

Notification issued 4/26/12 at 4:20 PM. Weather permitting, on 4/27/12 between 9:30 AM and 11:30 AM, NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier with space shuttle Enterprise mounted on top, will fly at low altitudes around the Statue of Liberty and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum before landing at JFK Airport. It will also be accompanied by two T-38 aircraft serving as photo support.

The sender included the following attachments:

The sender provided the following contact information.
Sender’s Name: Notify NYC
Sender’s Email: notifynyc
Sender’s Contact Phone: 212-639-9675