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Trouble Not Over For Jesse Jackson Jr.

Published: Nov 25, 2012 by sonia Filed under: News

CHICAGO (AP) — Jesse Jackson Jr.'s resignation from Congress might end his once-promising political career but it doesn't mark the end of troubles for the civil rights icon's son.

Just two weeks after voters re-elected him to a ninth full term, Jackson on Wednesday sent his resignation letter to House Speaker John Boehner, citing his ongoing treatment for bipolar disorder and admitting "my share of mistakes" while confirming publically for the first time that he's under a federal probe and cooperating with investigators.

The federal investigation is reportedly into possible misuse of campaign funds, but Jackson was also under a House Ethics Committee investigation over dealings with imprisoned ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but it was unclear how the committee would proceed with the resignation. The committee could still decide to release a final report with their findings, but they no longer have the power to punish him.

Jackson, 47, was never charged with wrongdoing and in his resignation letter wrote, "they are my mistakes and mine alone."

The letter also immediately prompted his attorneys to come forward also though they offered few details of the probe reportedly into misuse of campaign funds.

"Mr. Jackson is cooperating with the investigation. We hope to negotiate a fair resolution of the matter but the process could take several months," said a statement from Jackson attorneys including former U.S. Attorney in Chicago Dan Webb. "During that time, we will have no further comment and urge you to give Mr. Jackson the privacy he needs to heal and handle these issues responsibly."

Experts said confirmation by Jackson of the federal investigation and his resignation signaled more details are likely to follow.

"I think it won't be too long before we hear an announcement of a plea agreement," said Bruce Reinhart, a white-collar defense lawyer in West Palm Beach, Fla., who was a federal prosecutor for 19 years. "The government doesn't like people who are going to plead guilty to abusing public office to remain in a position of public trust. ... Resignation would be a significant bargaining chip for Congressman Jackson in order to get a better deal from the government."

Late Wednesday the longtime Chicago congressman's father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., told reporters his son resigned because he didn't believe he could continue to serve effectively while also trying to get well.

"He made the decision to choose his health," Jackson said.

He also said there is no way of knowing how long it will take for his son to recover from what he characterized as an "internal unresolved challenge."

"It's not the kind of illness you can put a timetable on," Jackson said, adding that he is confident that his son "will get well in time."

Jackson first took office in 1995 after winning a special election in a largely urban and Democratic district and began his career in Washington with a star power and pedigree that set him apart from his hundreds of other House colleagues.

But despite high expectations, he largely went unnoticed as a policymaker.

Jackson went on medical leave in June, though his office was never forthcoming about details about his condition, his whereabouts or if he would return.

It was later revealed that he was being treated at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues. He returned to his Washington home in September but went back to the clinic the next month, with his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, saying his son had not yet "regained his balance."

Jackson has not detailed what his treatment entails. Attempts by The Associated Press to locate Jackson were unsuccessful, and family members either declined to comment or could not be reached.

In the letter Jackson said that he returned to Washington the first time against the recommendations of his doctor and then needed to return. He said over the months as his health had "deteriorated" his ability to serve his constituents had "diminished."

"My health issues and treatment regimen have been incompatible with service in the House of Representatives," he wrote.

Bipolar disorder used to be known as manic-depression and it can cause severe mood swings that interfere with the ability to handle daily tasks. Prescription drugs including the mood stabilizer lithium and antidepressants can help manage the symptoms, but it often takes time to find the right drug, or combination of drugs, to be effective.

Fellow congressman said that Jackson had difficulty in the decision to resign.

Rep. Bobby Rush, a fellow Chicago Democrat, told reporters that he spoke to a melancholy Jackson on the phone early Wednesday morning — hours before Jackson submitted his resignation letter.

"He sounded very sorrowful — in so much pain . . . that he wouldn't be able to serve in Congress anymore," Rush said.

Voters in the Chicago area district had been largely supportive of Jackson, who has easily won every election since winning a special election in 1995. But as Jackson's medical leave was prolonged and new details released, there were cracks in that support.

Voter Rodney Butler said Jackson had not handled his leave of absence well. The 62-year-old retiree described the congressman's approach as "hush-hush" and said it made Jackson seem like he did something wrong.

The timing of Jackson's leave and the way it was handled invited more scrutiny. Jackson's leave was announced just after a former fundraiser connected to the Blagojevich allegations was arrested on unrelated medical fraud charges.

The vacancy left by Jackson's departure creates a rare opportunity for someone else to represent his district, which is made up of South Side Chicago neighborhoods, several southern suburbs and rural areas.

Even before the resignation the gambit of potential successors floated around Chicago. Prominent Chicago attorney Sam Adam Jr., a onetime attorney for Blagojevich and R&B singer R. Kelly, said he'd be interested. Other names circulating are Chicago Aldermen Sandi Jackson and Anthony Beale, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and former one-term U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, will schedule a re-election in the coming days. He said he planned to set both a primary and a general election.

Mont. Judge Who Sent Racist Obama Email Steps Down!

Published: Oct 7, 2012 by sonia Filed under: News

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The chief federal judge for Montana plans to step down from the post and take a reduced caseload next year after forwarding a racist joke involving President Barack Obama.

U.S. Courts spokeswoman Karen Redmond said Thursday U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull of Billings will take senior status March 18.

That means he'll vacate his position as chief judge for the state and allow the president to appoint a replacement. Cebull will take a reduced caseload but will still draw a salary and can keep a staff.

Redmond says she can't comment on whether the move is related to the email that Cebull has acknowledged forwarding to a half-dozen people Feb. 20. The judge didn't return a call seeking comment.

Cebull asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March to review his conduct after he was criticized for the email that included a joke about bestiality and Obama's mother.

More Progress Reported in Chicago Strike Talks

Published: Sep 23, 2012 by Filed under: Gossip & Rumors
The Associated Press
Friday, September 14, 2012

Article : CHICAGO (AP) — More than 350,000 public school students spent a fifth day out of class Friday as bargaining to end the city's teachers strike dragged on ahead of a meeting of union delegates whose approval is required to seal any deal.

Rank-and-file teachers returned to the streets for morning rallies to press the union's demands, which include a plan for laid-off instructors to get first dibs on job openings and for a teacher-evaluation system that does not rely heavily on student test scores.

Contract talks pushed on for more than 15 hours Thursday with little word of progress until negotiators called it quits early Friday. School Board President David Vitale said the two sides had worked past the evaluations issue and had begun crunching numbers on financial matters. He did not elaborate.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said negotiators had many "productive" conversations, but she declined to describe the talks in detail. She and Vitale said they hope students can be back in class Monday.

"It was a long day," Lewis said. "There were some creative ideas passed around, but we still do not have an agreement."

As negotiators went back to the bargaining table Friday, the school district's chief education officer, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, agreed that the sides were close. She thought they could come to an agreement before the end of the day.

The union called a meeting for Friday afternoon of some 700 delegates who would be required to approve any contract settlement with a majority vote. The meeting could be used to present an agreement or merely to update union members on negotiations.

The strike by more than 25,000 teachers in the nation's third-largest school district has idled many children and teenagers, leaving some unsupervised in gang-dominated neighborhoods. It also has been a potent display of union power at a time when organized labor has lost ground around the nation.

School district officials said the main sticking points the evaluation system and the union's demands that laid-off teachers get top consideration for rehiring. The district worries that could result in principals being forced to hire unsuitable teachers.

The union says using student test scores to evaluate teacher performance is unfair, arguing that poor test results can be the result of poverty, hunger and other conditions beyond their control. Under an older proposal by the district, the union estimated that 6,000 teachers could lose their jobs within two years.

An offer made late Wednesday included provisions that would have protected tenured teachers from dismissal in the first year of the evaluations. It also altered categories that teachers can be rated on and added an appeals process.

The other outstanding issue was whether laid-off teachers should have first shot at open jobs. School officials plan to close 100 schools "as soon as the ink is dry" on a new contract, unfairly displacing teachers, many African-American, who work in struggling schools that often don't have adequate resources, Lewis has said.

The union is trying to win assurances that laid-off but qualified teachers get dibs on jobs anywhere in the district. But Illinois law gives individual principals in Chicago the right to hire the teachers they want, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel argues it's unfair to hold principals accountable for their schools' performance if they can't pick their own teams.

The district has offered a compromise. If schools close, teachers would have the first right to jobs matching their qualifications at schools that absorb the children from the closed school. The proposal also includes provisions for teachers who aren't hired, including severance.

It wasn't clear if the union had accepted the proposal, but Lewis said it "did not intend to sign an agreement until these matters are addressed."

Readers of the Sun-Times opened the paper Friday to a full-page letter to Emanuel written by the Boston Teachers Union.

In the letter, the union reminded readers that some of the things Chicago teachers are fighting have long been available to Boston teachers, including the right to let teachers with seniority move into jobs in other schools if their schools close down.

Perhaps more significantly, the union took Emanuel to task for the contentiousness of the negotiations, putting the blame on the mayor's shoulders.

"Perhaps you can learn from us — and begin to treat your own teaching force with the same respect," the union wrote.

Meanwhile, Chicago teachers said they were planning a "Wisconsin-style" rally for Saturday, regardless of whether there is a deal on the contract.

The union has won widespread support from other teachers unions around the country, and a couple of hundred Wisconsin teachers planned to come to Chicago to join the event.

"It's really sort of a spontaneous kind of organizing," said Bob Peterson, president of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association, which unsuccessfully sought the recall of Gov. Scott Walker.

The walkout is the first Chicago teachers strike in 25 years. A 1987 walkout lasted 19 days.

Emanuel has called the strike unnecessary and repeatedly urged the union to continue negotiations once students are back in class.

Obama to Honor Return of Libya Attack Victims

Published: Sep 23, 2012 by Filed under: Exclusives
The Associated Press
Friday, September 14, 2012

Article:  ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. (AP) — President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are visiting with families of the victims of this week's attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya.

Obama and Biden joined Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to express condolences in a private waiting area at the Andrews Air Force Base terminal.

Obama and his dignitaries were at Andrews to witness the transfer of remains ceremony for Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others killed Tuesday in Benghazi.

Also killed were Americans Sean Smith, Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods. Doherty and Woods were former Navy SEALS.

U.S. officials are investigating whether the assault was a coordinated terrorist attack that took advantage of protests in the Arab world over an anti-Muslim video.

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