Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Protection from Discrimination

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

The City of Aurora has a Human Relations Commission with a goal to further understanding within our community and to preserve recognized rights of residents of the City particularly in the areas of equal employment, housing, and access to public services and facilities. The Commission can investigate claims of discrimination, mediate conflict, and act when our human relations ordinance is violated. The Commission also works to educate people about their rights under the ordinance and to help promote harmonious relations within our community.

The City of Aurora’s Human Relations Ordinance prohibits discrimination based on race, nationality, color, ancestry, religion or creed, national origin, gender, age, marital status, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or military status.

If you believe you are the victim of discrimination in employment, housing, education, public services and facilities, public accommodations, financial institutions, insurance companies, or labor organizations, you may file a complaint with the Commission.

Please visit the Human Relations Commission web page to learn more, contact us via email to HRC@aurora-il.org, or call us at (630) 256-3007.

Free Fall Leaf Collection Begins Oct. 16

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

The free Fall Leaf Collection Program begins on Monday, Oct. 16, and ends on Friday, Dec. 8.

Leaves must be put into a 30-gallon Kraft paper yard waste bag and placed at the curb on the regular garbage pickup day by 6 a.m. No waste sticker is needed.

Yard Waste

Yard waste collection will also take place through Friday, Dec. 2 as well.  On the regular garbage pickup day, yard waste must be placed in a 30-gallon Kraft paper yard waste bag not to exceed 50 pounds. Each bag must have a waste sticker attached. The stickers used for yard waste are the same as the stickers used for excess garbage. Yard waste mixed with trash or yard waste in a trash can or plastic bag will not be collected.

Bundled Brush

Residents are also being reminded that brush must now be bundled for collection. Unlimited bundled brush collection is in process and will end on Friday, Nov. 3. Branches and limbs ½ inch to four inches in diameter and two feet to four feet in length must be bundled. Each bundle must weigh less than 50 pounds. Bundled brush does not need a waste sticker. Brush less than ½ inch in diameter is considered yard waste and must be packaged as previously described.

NIU Law School Names Irvin ‘Alumnus of the Year’

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Mayor Richard C. Irvin was honored by Northern Illinois University College of Law as the 2017 Alumnus of the Year.

In a special ceremony held this week, Irvin was presented the prestigious award before an audience of fellow NIU College of Law alumni, his former professors and supporters from Aurora.

“Mayor Irvin lives a life of public service, and his accomplishments date back to his years as a law student here at the NIU College of Law,” said Attorney Melinda Rosales-Byerly, chairman of the NIU College of Law Alumni Council. “Richard exemplifies the very best of leadership and sheer determination. NIU is very proud of him.”

A class of 1998 graduate of the NIU College of Law, Irvin worked as a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney and a prosecutor for Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office prior to opening the Law Offices of Richard C.  Irvin in downtown Aurora.

“As a young law student, I saw the photos on the wall of distinguished alumni who were honored with this award. I never once thought I might be among them,” said Irvin. “I am very humbled by this honor. I appreciate the opportunity to have attended NIU College of Law, a place that inspired me to serve and give back to my community.”

Irvin served as an alderman-at-large for the City of Aurora from 2007-2017. He was elected as the 59th mayor of the City of Aurora on April 4, 2017.

“I always knew he was going to do amazing things in life,” said NIU Law Professor Emeritus Lorraine Schmall.

A class of 1988 graduate of East Aurora High School, Mayor Irvin received the East Aurora High School Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009.

Social Security Expedites Decisions to Those with Serious Disabilities

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, today announced three new Compassionate Allowances conditions: CACH–Vanishing White Matter Disease-Infantile and Childhood Onset Forms, Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy, and Kleefstra Syndrome. Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify serious diseases and other medical conditions that meet Social Security’s standards for disability benefits.

“Social Security is committed – now and in the future – to continue to identify and fast-track diseases that are certain or near-certain to be approved for disability benefits,” said Acting Commissioner Berryhill.

The Compassionate Allowances program identifies claims where the applicant’s disease or condition clearly meets Social Security’s statutory standard for disability. Many of these claims are allowed based on medical confirmation of the diagnosis alone, for example pancreatic cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and acute leukemia. To date, almost 500,000 people with severe disabilities have been approved through this fast-track policy-compliant disability process, which has grown to a total of 228 conditions.

By incorporating cutting-edge technology, the agency can easily identify potential Compassionate Allowances and quickly make decisions. For other disability cases not covered by the Compassionate Allowances program, Social Security’s Health IT program brings the speed and efficiency of electronic medical records to the disability determination process. When a person applies for disability benefits, Social Security must obtain medical records in order to make an accurate determination. It may take weeks for health care organizations to provide records for the applicant’s case. With electronic records transmission, Social Security is able to quickly obtain a claimant’s medical information, review it, and make a determination faster than ever before.

“The Compassionate Allowances and Health IT programs are making a real difference by ensuring that Americans with disabilities quickly receive the benefits they need,” added Ms. Berryhill.

For more information about the program, including a list of all Compassionate Allowances conditions, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

To learn more about Social Security’s Health IT program, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/hit.

People may apply online for disability benefits by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov.

To create a my Social Security account, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Aug. 21: Solar Eclipse

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

Path of total solar eclipse will cross southern Illinois. In the rare phenomenon, the new moon will completely cover the daylight Sun. Parts of fourteen states will see the sun disappear briefly, but Southern Illinois University astronomers predict that the sun will be hidden longer (2 minutes and 41.6 seconds) over southern Illinois than in any other state. The nationwide championship spot to see the eclipse (weather permitting) will be a location just south of Carbondale, Illinois. Other Illinois towns and county seats where the sun will be dark include Chester and Marion. The Illinois eclipse will take place between 1:18 p.m. and 1:24 p.m., depending on the viewer’s location.

This will be the first solar eclipse visible in the 48 contiguous United States since 1979. This could lead to traffic jams and other challenges in the “path of totality,” and law enforcement will be stepping up their presence in affected Illinois areas.

Don’t Take the Bait: Watch Out for the W-2 Email Scam

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

WASHINGTON – The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry today urged tax professionals and businesses to beware of a recent increase in email scams targeting employee Forms W-2.

The W-2 scam – called a business email compromise or BEC – is one of the most dangerous phishing email schemes trending nationwide from a tax administration perspective. The IRS saw a sharp increase in the number of incidents and victims during the 2017 filing season.

Increasing awareness about business email compromises is part of the “Don’t Take the Bait” campaign, a 10-part series aimed at tax professionals. The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, working together as the Security Summit, urge practitioners to learn to protect themselves and their clients from BEC scams. This is part of the ongoing Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself effort.

A business email compromise occurs when a cybercriminal is able to “spoof” or impersonate a company or organization executive’s email address and target a payroll, financial or human resources employee with a request. For example, fraudsters will try to trick an employee to transfer funds into a specified account or request a list of all employees and their Forms W-2.

“These are incredibly tricky schemes that can be devastating to a tax professional or business,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Cybercriminals target people with access to sensitive information, and they cleverly disguise their effort through an official-looking email request.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported earlier this year that there has been a 1,300 percent increase in identified losses – with more than $3 billion in wire transfers – since January 2015. The FBI found that the culprits behind these scams are national and international organized crime groups who have targeted businesses and organizations in all 50 states and 100 countries worldwide.

During the 2016 filing season, the IRS first warned businesses that the scam had migrated to tax administration and scammers were using business email compromise tactics to obtain employees’ Forms W-2. The criminals were immediately filing fraudulent tax returns that could mirror the actual income received by employees – making the fraud more difficult to detect.

In 2017, the IRS saw the number of businesses, public schools, universities, tribal governments and nonprofits victimized by the W-2 scam increase to 200 from 50 in 2016. Those 200 victims translated into several hundred thousand employees whose sensitive data was stolen. In some cases, the criminals requested both the W-2 information and a wire transfer.

The Form W-2 contains the employee’s name, address, Social Security number, income and withholdings. That information was used to file fraudulent tax returns, and it can be posted for sale on the Dark Net, where criminals also seek to profit from these thefts.

If the business or organization victimized by these attacks notifies the IRS, the IRS can take steps to help prevent employees from being victims of tax-related identity theft. However, because of the nature of these scams, many businesses and organizations did not realize for days, weeks or months that they had been scammed.

The IRS established a special email notification address specifically for businesses and organizations to report W-2 thefts: dataloss@irs.gov. Be sure to include “W-2 scam” in the subject line and information about a point of contact in the body of the email. Businesses and organizations that receive a suspect email but do not fall victim to the scam can forward it to the BEC to phishing@irs.gov, again with “W-2 scam” in the subject line.

Protecting Clients and Businesses from BECs

The IRS urges tax professionals to both beware of business email compromises as a threat to their own systems and to educate their clients about the existence of BEC scams. Employers, including tax practitioners, should review their policies for sending sensitive data such as W-2s or making wire transfers based solely on an email request.

Tax professionals should consider taking these steps:

  • Confirm requests for Forms W-2, wire transfers or any sensitive data exchanges verbally, using previously-known telephone numbers, not telephone numbers listed in the email.
  • Verify requests for location changes in vendor payments and require a secondary sign-off by company personnel.
  • Educate employees about this scam, particularly those with access to sensitive data such as W-2s or with authorization to make wire transfers.
  • Consult with an IT professional and follow these FBI recommended safeguards:
    • Create intrusion detection system rules that flag e-mails with extensions that are similar to company email. For example, legitimate e-mail of abc_company.com would flag fraudulent email of abc-company.com.
    • Create an email rule to flag email communications where the “reply” email address is different from the “from” email address shown.
    • Color code virtual correspondence so emails from employee/internal accounts are one color and emails from non-employee/external accounts are another.
  • If a BEC incident occurs, notify the IRS. File a complaint with the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3.)

Realtors Rank Aurora as Top City in the Nation for Affordable Homes, Best Schools

Sunday, July 30th, 2017
Realtor.com, the official consumer website of the National Association of Realtors, released its study of the Top 10 Most Affordable Housing Markets and Top-Ranked Elementary Schools in the Nation.
The City of Aurora topped the list and ranked number one due to having three top-ranked elementary schools and for being 45% more affordable than the surrounding metro area.
“When searching for a new home, finding something affordable in a good school district with family-friendly features tops the list of home buyer priorities,” says Javier Vivas, manager of economic research for realtor.com. “This area offer strong public schools and affordable homes, making it a great fit for home buyers with elementary school-age children.”
Located in Aurora’s Ward 9, the top elementary schools, which received at least an 8 out of 10 ranking by education information group Great Schools, are Homestead Elementary School, Wheatlands Elementary School and Wolfs Crossing Elementary School. All are in Aurora’s 60503 zip code and part of Community School District 308.
“It is an honor and privilege to have such recognition bestowed on the City of Aurora and Ward 9,” said Ward 9 Alderman Edward Bugg. “In Ward 9, we are trying to build a vibrant and dynamic community. This type of honor shows us that we are on the right track. Certainly, we did not get to this place by accident. A lot of hard work was put forth by everyone from School District 308 – including teachers, principals, PTA boards, parents and students – who worked in collaboration with the City and previous aldermen who served before me to build the foundation.”
To compile rankings, Realtor.com’s economics team looked at the monthly housing costs (mortgage payments, taxes, etc.) needed to purchase a median-priced home in all of the zip codes in each metro. To ensure buyers were getting a deal, they factored in the median income of residents living there to ensure affordability. Then school rankings were added into the formula to derive the national rankings.
“It’s absolutely family-friendly,” says local real estate broker Margaret Rowe of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. She touted the myriad parks and family events held in Aurora.
“I’m so glad we moved here 8 years ago,” said Ward 9 resident Jen Mendoza, “When deciding where to go, it was predominately based on the education. I’m glad it’s living up to my expectations.”
The national ranking is on par with Mayor Richard Irvin’s expectations as well.
“Our focus has been on strengthening ‘one Aurora’ as we strive to enhance our city in its entirety. Now that motto can be transposed to Aurora is number one because of this great news coming out of the Far East side,” said  Mayor Irvin. “It is great to see the positive national spotlight on our city, and in this case, on the growing and vibrant Ward 9. Clearly, community members are working together and putting in 100% effort for their families and the future of Aurora.”
Rounding out the Top 10 Cities are 2. Stone Mountain, GA, 3. Hampton, NJ, 4. Royersford, PA, 5. Kingwood, TX, 6. Rosemount, MN, 7. Bowie, MD, 8. Huntington Woods, MI, 9. Stow, MA, 10. Chandler, AZ.

Chicago: Population Trends

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

U.S. Census estimates that Chicago metropolitan area lost 19,570 in 2016 fiscal year. The period from July 2015 through June 2016 showed a slight dip in the population of the counties that make up the Chicago metropolitan area, from 9.53 million to 9.51 million. Although the decline during this twelve-month period was only 0.2%, it ran counter to the overall pattern of growth in the population of the United States. The decline coincided with patterns of stagnant job creation in Illinois as a whole, with significant outmigration by many demographic categories of former Illinoisans to other states. Groups leaving Illinois include young adults searching for employment elsewhere.

The 9.5-million Chicago metropolitan area, as defined by the Census Bureau, is a 16-county region that includes small sections of Indiana and Wisconsin. Centering on Cook County, the area is defined by the federal government for business and identity purposes. Of the 10 largest metro areas in the United States, however, only the Chicago area lost residents.

Suburbs: Illinois Tollways

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Illinois Toll Highway Authority plans to eliminate plastic coin-collection buckets. In another move intended to discourage the payment of tolls in cash, the Illinois tollway authority plans to remove the familiar plastic bucket cones into which motorists can throw coins. The cones, which are posted on tollway cash pay lanes, feed coins into electromechanical coin-counting machines. They will be replaced by new electronic touch screens that will accept credit cards, bills, and coins.

The new pay screens will be more convenient for many users than former pay lanes that required exact change in coins. However, many Tollway users have mounted small I-PASS transponders in their cars and they no longer pay cash tolls to the highway agency. This switchover will not affect I-PASS users. The Tollway Authority prefers I-PASS use because of administrative costs of handling cash as opposed to electronic payments. On Monday, Feb. 27, the Authority told the press that they still had 100 coin-counting cones deployed on their network of highways, mostly at unmanned tollway exit ramps.

Holiday Assistance Program Begins; Can You Assist?

Friday, November 11th, 2016