Ahlers & Ogletree Auction Gallery is gearing up for a two-day Signature Estates Auction, January 6th and 7th, in Atlanta

Original oil painting by John Folinsbee (Am., 1892-1972), titled River at New Hope.

Ahlers & Ogletree Auction Gallery is gearing up for its big annual Signature Estates Auction, a two-day affair planned for the weekend of January 6th and 7th.

ATLANTA, GA., UNITED STATES, December 29, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — ATLANTA, Ga. – Ahlers & Ogletree Auction Gallery is gearing up for its big annual Signature Estates Auction, a two-day affair planned for the weekend of January 6th and 7th, online and in the firm’s showroom at 715 Miami Circle (Suite 210) in Atlanta, beginning promptly at 10 am Eastern time both days. In all, a little more than 1,000 lots will be auctioned to the highest bidder.

Session 1, on Saturday, January 6th, will focus on American art, furniture, decorative arts, modern design and contemporary art. Session 2, the following day, will feature English and continental artworks, period antique furniture, antique lighting and textiles, an important collection of black and white photography and fine pieces of sterling silver, from prominent estates and collections.

Highlights from Session 1 include an original oil painting signed by John Folinsbee (Am., 1892-1972), titled River at New Hope, included as #698 in the artist’s catalogue raisonne; a watercolor work signed by Pakistani artist Abdur Rahman Chughtai (1897-1975), from the private collection of the artist’s son; and a superb Reed & Barton sterling silver tea service in the Francis I pattern.

The collection of black and white photographs will include signed works by such luminaries as Robert Mapplethorpe, Joel-Peter Wiltkin, John Coplans, Jimmy de Sana, George Platt Lynes and others. Also sold will be original signed works by William Tolliver, original works by the Iraqi modernist Saadi Abbas Babely and original collage works by Portuguese artist Juliao Sarmento.

Session 1 will also feature a scarce set of “Black Shoulder” hand-painted French china designed by Van Day Truex (Am., 1904-1979) for Tiffany & Co., with all 103 pieces in the private stock set inscribed by Tiffany on the base, along with Atelier Le Talec marks (est. $10,000-$15,000); and two large sets of sterling flatware by Tiffany & Company in the Chrysanthemum pattern.

The first day’s offerings will also include a pair of Cassina (Italian, founded 1927) for Louis Vuitton limited edition LC4 CP chaise lounges by Le Corbusier (Swiss-French, 1887-1965), Pierre Jeanneret (Swiss, 1896-1967) and Charlotte Perriand (French, 1903-1999), for Louis Vuitton’s 2014 Icones Collection, both with impressed marks to the base (est. $2,000-$4,000).

The artworks by Chughtai and Folinsbee are the auction’s expected top lots. The watercolor on paper by Chughtai, titled Poetic Expressions (circa 1940s), measures 24 ¼ inches by 19 ¼ inches and is unframed (est. $30,000-$50,000). The oil on canvas by Folinsbee was rendered in 1923 and is artist signed. It’s 31 ½ inches by 37 ½ inches, framed, and is accompanied by a letter from the artist, addressed to the painting’s original buyer, Hugh Richardson (est. $25,000-$35,000).

The six original works by William Tolliver (Am., 1951-2000) will include a late 20th century oil on canvas titled Abstract Woman, artist signed, 50 inches by 38 ¼ inches framed (est. $8,000-$12,000). Also sold will be an oil on canvas landscape with figures by Worthington Whittredge (Am., 1820-1910), titled Campers in the Blue Ridge Mountains, artist signed, 34 inches by 44 ¾ inches in the frame and with great provenance (est. $15,000-$25,000). It comes with a letter of authentication from Gudmund Vigtel, former Director of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Additional artworks in the auction will include an oil on canvas signed by Belgian artist Emile Deckers (1885-1968), titled Five Algerian Boys, signed, dated (1957) and inscribed (“Alger”) lower left (est. $10,000-$20,000). From the major photographs collection, a gelatin silver print by Robert Mapplethorpe (Am., 1946-1989), titled Patrice (1977), signed, dated and numbered (3/5) to the lower margin, 22 ¼ inches by 20 ½ inches in the frame, should hit $8,000-$12,000.

The nine-piece Reed & Barton sterling silver tea and coffee service in the Francis I pattern has an overall weight of 383.39 troy ounces and all pieces boast a gold wash interior and are hallmarked for Reed & Barton, with date codes (est. $20,000-$30,000). Also up for bid is a fully restored 1979 Mercedes Benz two-door 450SLC fixed head coupe, metallic Milan brown in color with a bamboo interior trim and 4.5-liter engine, with 94,000 original miles (est. $12,000-$18,000).

Session 2 will be highlighted by an 18kt yellow gold emerald and diamond necklace and pendant set; a bench-made replica of Chippendale’s violin cabinet; an early 18th century English William & Mary Japanned collector’s cabinet; and a fine tureen on stand by Copeland Spode, after the original Mecklenburg service that was commissioned for King George III and Queen Charlotte.

Also offered will be two significant works after Pietro Liberi’s Battle of the Fists (an engraving and a signed oil); and original signed works by Raoul Maucherat de Longpre, Fernand Toussaint, Quinquela Martin, Louis Vigee, Hendrik de Meijer, Harriet Frishmuth and Philip A. Immenraet.

For those unable to attend in person, internet bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.com, Invaluable.com and the Ahlers & Ogletree Auction Gallery website, at bid.AandOauctions.com.

Preview will be held Tuesday through Thursday, Jan. 2-4, from 10-6; and on Friday, Jan. 5, from 10-2. A preview party will be held Thursday evening, Jan. 4, that will run from 6 pm until 9 pm.

Ahlers & Ogletree is a multi-faceted, family-owned business that spans the antiques, estate sale, wholesale, liquidation, auction and related industries. Ahlers & Ogletree is always seeking quality consignments for future auctions. To consign an item, an estate or a collection, you may call them at 404-869-2478; or, you can send them an e-mail, to robert@aandoauctions.com.

To learn more about Ahlers & Ogletree and the firm’s upcoming New Year’s Signature Estates Auction planned for Jan. 6-7, visit www.AandOAuctions.com. Updates are posted often. You can also follow Ahlers & Ogletree on social media, on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

Robert Ahlers
Ahlers & Ogletree Auction Gallery
(404) 869-2478
email us here

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Moments of black excellence in 2017

This year has been one of unforgettable moments – some of them a series of unfortunate events. However, the year has also been one of inspiration and full of success stories.

It began with hundreds and thousands of women marching peacefully in Washington, D.C. to advocate for fair and equitable legislation. Activists shed light on police brutality and social justice issues affecting communities of color, with athletes taking a stance across the country. A country divided on race and politics helped spark a wave of African-Americans running for office.

2017 will be remembered as a celebration of black excellence in the face of inequality and injustice that was proudly put on display for all to see.

Here are some moments of black excellence that took place this year.

 Barry Jenkins holds up the best picture Oscar in front of host Jimmy Kimmel as he stands with Producer Adele Romanski. Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

And the winner is…

“Moonlight”, the coming of age story about Chiron, a young black boy growing up in Liberty City, Miami, beating out “La La Land” for best picture was a major upset. The mix-up of the winner may have been been unfortunate, but the win validated not only film director Barry Jenkins and playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, but little black boys across America who felt their stories had finally been told.

 Jordan Peele makes his directorial debut with the psychological thriller “Get Out”. Justin Lubin / Universal Pictures

Black Magic at the Box Office

Jordan Peele never thought his movie “Get Out” could or would get made. Tracy Oliver, a writer for “Girls Trip” never expected the movie to be the success that it was. This year, two movies written, directed by and featuring black artists and perspectives made box office history.

In February, Peele made his directorial debut with “Get Out,” a movie about a black man who goes to meet and visit his white girlfriend’s family only to find himself in a compromised situation. The movie grossed over $175 million at the U.S. box office, making it the highest domestically grossing film of a black director to date. “Girls Trip” grossed over $115 million at the box office, and proved that an all-black cast could make box office gold.

 Lena Waithe poses in the press room with the Emmy for outstanding writing for a comedy series at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday in Los Angeles. Jordan Strauss / Invision/AP

Black Magic Behind the Scenes in Television

Actor Donald Glover and actress Lena Waithe made history when they walked away with Emmy Awards this year, proving that black stories resonate with television audiences.

Glover, writer and director of FX’s “Atlanta,” became the first ever African-American to win outstanding director for a comedy series. Waithe, a writer for the Netflix’s “Master of None,” became the first African-American woman to win for comedy writing.

 Lieutenant Governor Elect Justin Fairfax speaks at Ralph Northam’s election night victory rally on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, Nov. 7, 2017. Aaron P. Bernstein / Reuters

The year of the black candidate and #ThankBlackWomen

Justin Fairfax, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mary Parham-Copelan, LaToya Cantrell and many others made history this past election season.

Bottoms beat the odds, winning her campaign to become the next Mayor of Atlanta, making her the second woman and second African-American woman to hold the office. LaToya Cantrell made history in New Orleans as the first African-American female mayor. But these women were not the only ones to place their political clout on display this year.

Black women were also lauded as the heroes for the Alabama Senate race, mobilizing communities and going to the polls in unprecedented numbers.

 Sloane Stephens, of the United States, reacts after receiving the winner’s award check after beating Madison Keys, of the United States, in the women’s singles final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament on Sept. 9, 2017 in New York. Andres Kudacki / AP file

Dominating sports

The efforts and accomplishments of Maame Biney, 2016 NBCBLK 28 honoree Sloane Stephens, and others not only put black excellence on display, but also resulted in life changing rewards for the both of them.

Stephens joined an exclusive club of African-American women to win the U.S. Open, which includes Althea Gibson, and Venus and Serena Williams. While tennis fans were shocked that Stephens would beat out Venus to reach the U.S. Open finale, Stephens was shocked for another reason – the $3.7 million check she received for winning the tournament.

Seventeen-year-old Biney, a native of Ghana, became the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic speedskating team in November.

 Prince Harry poses with his fiancee, US actress Meghan Markle during a photocall after announcing their engagement in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace in London on Nov. 27, 2017. Facundo Arrizabalaga / EPA

Black royalty — “We gon have a black princess.”

When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement in November, African-Americans celebrated the announcement. In an instance, Markle, born in Los Angeles, became the black community’s princess, almost in the same manner that Princess Diana became the world’s princess. Markle, 36, has written about her bi-racial heritage, declaring her confidence in the fact and finding strength as the daughter of a black mother and a white father.

 ORCHARD PARK, NY – SEPTEMBER 24: Buffalo Bills players kneel during the American National anthem before an NFL game against the Denver Broncos on September 24, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. Brett Carlsen / Getty Images


Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick may have been missing from the field this NFL season, but his presence was definitely felt, as NFL players across the league kept his protest against police brutality alive.

President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who kneel during the national anthem and said owners should fire any player who participates in the protest. This triggered players across the league to collectively kneel, lock arms and even stay in the locker room during the anthem.

 A statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest sits in a park in Memphis, Tennessee. Adrian Sainz / AP file

“Take them down”: Confederate monuments removed across the country

Elected officials in Maryland, Texas, Louisiana, and others called for the removal of confederate memorials following white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia in August.

While some of those leaders were successful, efforts in Memphis, Tennessee seemed impossible. Earlier this month, a group of African-Americans in the city orchestrated the removal of Confederate monuments from two public parks.

 Rosalind Brewer, Sam’s Club president and chief executive officer, speaks to members of the media in 2016 at the Sam’s Club in Bentonville, Arkansas. David Gottschalk / The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP

Calling the Shots in the Board Room

Rosalind Brewer was named the new chief operating officer and group president of Starbucks, the first African-American and woman to hold the position.

Priscillah Mabelane became the chief executive office of BP’s South Africa division – marking a first for that country’s oil industry. Prior to the CEO appointment, Mabelane had served as operations director for BP United Kingdom retail business.

Derek Jeter, former New York Yankees star turned executive, became a part owner of the Miami Marlins and their chief executive officer – making him first ever black CEO of a the Major League Baseball team. And he quickly made an impression when he said he was fine with his players kneeling during the national anthem.

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RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Way more black women die during childbirth — and hospitals that serve black women have huge maternal mortality rates

Babies are pictured in a maternity ward at the Munich hospital 'Rechts der Isar' January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle Maternal survival rates have revealed racial disparities Thomson Reuters

  • A ProPublica study revealed shocking patterns in rates of maternal mortality and complications from childbirth across several US states, including New York.
  • Hospitals that treat predominantly African-American mothers have much higher rates of mortality and complications than those who don’t.
  • Geography often dictates access to care.
  • Solutions for this disparity exist, and work only once fully implemented.

NEW YORK — When Dacheca Fleurimond decided to give birth at SUNY Downstate Medical Center earlier this year, her sister tried to talk her out of it.

Her sister had recently delivered at a better-rated hospital in Brooklyn’s gentrified Park Slope neighborhood and urged Fleurimond, a 33-year-old home health aide, to do the same.

But Fleurimond had given birth to all five of her other children at the state-run SUNY Downstate and never had a bad experience. She and her family had lived steps away from the hospital in East Flatbush when they emigrated from Haiti years ago. She knew the nurses at SUNY Downstate, she told her sister. She felt comfortable there.

She didn’t know then how much rode on her decision, or how fraught with risk her delivery would turn out to be.

It’s been long-established that black women like Fleurimond fare worse in pregnancy and childbirth, dying at a rate more than triple that of white mothers. And while part of the disparity can be attributed to factors like poverty and inadequate access to health care, there is growing evidence that points to the quality of care at hospitals where a disproportionate number of black women deliver, which are often in neighborhoods disadvantaged by segregation.

Researchers have found that women who deliver at these so-called “black-serving” hospitals are more likely to have serious complications — from infections to birth-related embolisms to emergency hysterectomies — than mothers who deliver at institutions that serve fewer black women.

Still, it’s difficult to tell from studies alone how this pattern plays out in real life. The hospitals are never named. The women behind the numbers are faceless, the specific ways their hospitals may have failed them unknown.

A racialized hospital pattern in women’s care

ProPublica did its own analysis, using two years of hospital inpatient discharge data from New York, Illinois and Florida to look in-depth at how well different facilities treat women who experience one particular problem — hemorrhages — while giving birth.

We, too, found the same broad pattern identified in previous studies — that women who hemorrhage at disproportionately black-serving hospitals are far more likely to wind up with severe complications, from hysterectomies, which are more directly related to hemorrhage, to pulmonary embolisms, which can be indirectly related. When we looked at data for only the most healthy women, and for white women at black-serving hospitals, the pattern persisted.

Beyond this bird’s-eye view, our analysis allowed us to identify individual hospitals with higher complication rates, to look at what kinds of protocols they have and to examine what went wrong in specific cases.

We found, for example, that SUNY Downstate, where 90 percent of the women who give birth are black, has one of the highest complication rates for hemorrhage across all three states. On average, 34 percent of women who hemorrhage while giving birth at New York hospitals experience significant complications. At SUNY Downstate, it’s 62 percent.

FILE PHOTO: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks outside Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, after an incident in which a gunman fired shots inside the hospital in New York City, U.S. June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks outside Bronx-Lebanon Hospital. Several New York hospitals made the list of worst hospitals for black pregnant women. Thomson Reuters

SUNY Downstate officials defended the hospital’s handling of obstetric hemorrhages, saying it has extensive protocols for responding to them and gets exemplary results despite handling deliveries involving mothers with higher-than-average numbers of health problems like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. They would not comment on Fleurimond’s case, citing patient privacy.

Fleurimond was admitted to Downstate on Aug. 9.

Pregnant with twins, her doctor noticed she was in preterm labor at her 34-week checkup and prepped her for an unplanned cesarean section. When they cut into her womb to deliver the babies, Fleurimond’s uterus didn’t fully contract as it should have. She began to bleed. By the time the doctors controlled the hemorrhage, she had lost more than a liter of blood, requiring two transfusions.

At first, it seemed she’d be fine. She awoke the following morning thinking the worst was over, eager to see her new sons.

She wouldn’t survive the day.

Disparities in maternal mortality

Every year in the United States, between 700 and 900 women die from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. For every woman that dies, dozens more experience severe complications, which affect more than 50,000 women annually.

The U.S. rate of maternal mortality is substantially higher than those of other affluent nations and has risen over the past decade. Outcomes for black women have led the way, intensifying efforts by medical experts and academics to understand what’s driving the racial disparity.

A complicating factor in understanding how hospital care figures in is that hospitals take on different proportions of tough cases — patients who have less access to consistent, quality prenatal care or have chronic health issues, like diabetes or heart disease, that make pregnancy and childbirth riskier.

Some prominent researchers are using a methodology for analyzing birth outcomes that attempts to even the playing field.

The California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, which studies maternal deaths and develops techniques to prevent them, looks at how well hospitals respond to obstetric hemorrhage, typically defined as losing more than 500 milliliters of blood during a vaginal birth or a liter of blood during a cesarean section. Why hemorrhages? Because women of all races experience them at roughly the same rates and their likelihood is less affected by factors like race or economic status, said CMQCC medical director Dr. Elliott Main.

CMQCC evaluates hospitals by calculating what percent of women who hemorrhage during birth wind up with major complications. Researchers count both the complications more directly related to hemorrhages, like hysterectomies and blood transfusions, and those that could be indirectly related, including embolisms, blood clots, heart attacks, kidney failure, respiratory distress, aneurysms, brain bleeds, sepsis and shock. Ultimately, this approach measures how often doctors prevent complications when a hemorrhage occurs, and when looked at over time, can show if a hospital has been able to improve.

ProPublica used the metric to analyze inpatient hospital discharge data collected by New York, Illinois and Florida for 2014 and 2015, examining all obstetric cases that were coded as involving hemorrhages — about 67,000 cases in all.

We also put each hospital into a category based on the concentration of black mothers who gave birth there, defining facilities as low, medium or high black-serving. We crafted our analysis so that it reflected the racial distribution of mothers delivering in each state. In New York, if black mothers represented roughly a third or more of the deliveries at a hospital, we considered the hospital high black-serving. In Florida, we considered a hospital high black-serving if about 40 percent of the mothers were black. In Illinois, we considered a hospital high black-serving if at least half of its mothers were black.

In New York, we defined a hospital as low black-serving if less than eight percent of the women delivering there were black. In Illinois, the cutoff was 14 percent. In Florida, it was 18 percent.

Across the three states, about one in 10 hospitals in our analysis was high black-serving — in some cases, extremely high. Ninety-nine percent of the mothers who gave birth at Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago were black.

While a handful of low black-serving hospitals had high complication rates, our analysis found that, on average, outcomes at hospitals that served a high number of black patients were far worse.

In New York, on average, high black-serving hospitals had complication rates 21 percent higher than low black-serving hospitals. In Illinois and Florida, high black-serving hospitals had complication rates 11 percent higher.

When we limited our patient pool to only mothers of average birthing age — between 25 and 32 — who did not have any chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes, the pattern remained largely the same. This bolstered the notion that differences in care, along with patient characteristics, affected outcomes.

Deeper analysis of the data for each state underlined this finding. At low black-serving hospitals in New York, just under a third of the women who hemorrhaged had complications. At high black-serving hospitals, that rate climbed to about half.

Evidence of solutions that work

Dr. Elizabeth Howell, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, has taken a more refined look at racial disparities among New York City’s hospitals. She found black mothers were twice as likely to suffer harm when delivering babies than white mothers, even after adjusting for patients’ differing characteristics, suggesting that some of the racial disparity may be due to hospital quality. In a separate study, she estimated that the rate of harm for black women would fall by nearly 50 percent if they gave birth at the same hospitals as white women.

She’s also considered the same dynamic nationally. Because three quarters of black mothers deliver in about a quarter of the country’s hospitals, Howell believes that racial disparities could be reduced if hospitals that disproportionately serve black women improved their care.

pediatrician baby doctor familyRogelio V. Solis/AP Images

There is clear evidence hospitals can make such improvements.

In California, complications related to obstetric hemorrhage decreased by about 20 percent in hospitals that adopted protocols promoted by Main’s group, which include keeping carts stocked with supplies to stave off massive bleeding and holding drills to simulate severe hemorrhage events. “It creates improvement in the team, increases communication and improves your response to all emergencies,” Main said.

Still, Main’s protocols haven’t been universally adopted in California, let alone elsewhere in the U.S., and many hospitals go their own way.

The spokesperson for SUNY Downstate — where more than 14 percent of women hemorrhage during birth, an average of one mother every other day — said the hospital “has already developed their own ‘best practice’ protocols for hemorrhage that other hospitals should be following.” These include a special “Code Mom” that details steps doctors and nurses need to take when responding to a hemorrhage. And women with placental problems are monitored by ultrasound, so that doctors can anticipate the most complex cases before beginning cesarean surgeries.

According to public documents posted in an online repository of the hospital’s policies, the obstetric and gynecology department’s emergency response policy on hemorrhage does not explicitly follow some of Main’s recommendations, such as having pre-fab kits to respond to hemorrhages and doing staff drills to prepare for them. SUNY Downstate did not respond to questions about these differences.

Dr. Ovadia Abulafia, the chair of the hospital’s department of obstetrics and gynecology, noted that SUNY Downstate serves a particularly “underserved” and “high-risk” population. More than 80 percent of women who deliver there are obese, a spokesperson said, and the hospital sees a higher incidence of diabetes, blood pressure disorders and placental separation problems compared to the rest of the nation.

But Dr. Allison Bryant Mantha, a high-risk obstetrician and health care disparities researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, said hospitals shouldn’t use demographics or patient characteristics to excuse poor outcomes. Instead, they should hone their practices to deliver the care their patients need.

“Hospitals have to own the conditions that women walk in with,” Bryant said. “You have to give patients what they need to get to a quality level of care. We are doing a good job of equal care, but not adjusting for needs.”

Technical lessons that would save lives

Fleurimond awoke in good spirits in the labor and delivery unit on Aug. 10, the day after her delivery. Her biggest concern that afternoon was what she was going to eat. “What is Jell-O going to do for me?” she complained to her sister Merline Lamy, who responded, “This is your two-day diet, baby girl.” Fleurimond rolled her eyes.

She might not have felt it at the moment, but Fleurimond was still at risk of serious complications related to her hemorrhage, including pulmonary embolism, typically caused when a blood clot travels from a patient’s leg to a lung artery, blocking blood flow to the lungs.

Her blood was already predisposed to clotting, a biological mechanism that likely evolved in pregnant women to prevent hemorrhage during birth. Carrying twins can put extra pressure on the vessels around the uterus, further constricting blood flow. The cesarean surgery, like all surgeries, substantially increased her risk, as did the transfusions.

On top of that, Fleurimond weighed 260 pounds and was being treated for high blood pressure.

To prevent clotting, nurses had put compression boots on her legs. Just after 3 p.m., according to family members who were visiting Fleurimond, a nurse unfastened the boots, helped Fleurimond into a wheelchair and took her to visit the twins, Jayden and Kayden, in the neonatal intensive care unit. She’d held them only briefly in the operating room and craved another look. They had her round cheeks, which shone like polished apples.

Experts say compression boots lose their deterrent effect about 15 minutes after they are removed. Fleurimond spent about 90 minutes in the NICU with her aunt, who recalled her sitting in her wheelchair the whole time, her legs hanging down. Shortly after her aunt left, she complained that she felt unwell, but three hospital employees who spoke to ProPublica on the condition of anonymity say that she waited at least 40 minutes for a transport aide to wheel her back to her room. There is no evidence in her medical record that anyone came to assess her when she returned.

Doctors also did not prescribe heparin, a blood-thinning medicine being used at other hospitals to prevent pulmonary embolism in mothers with high risk factors, for whom compression boots are unlikely to be enough.

In the United Kingdom, protocols that advocate more aggressive use of blood thinners, particularly after C-sections, helped reduce embolism deaths by more than half within three years.

In the United States, a chorus of medical trade groups and maternal safetyorganizations have begun to promote more widespread use of blood thinners during pregnancy and childbirth, but not all hospitals have made it their practice.

“There are some experts who feel that it’s not worth the time, trouble and cost to avoid relatively rare events,” said Dr. Alexander Friedman, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center.

Friedman’s hospital on the edge of Harlem typically administers the drug to high-risk mothers, but Fleurimond wouldn’t have had to travel that far. Three miles away from Downstate, at a Brooklyn hospital that has a smaller concentration of black patients and a lower complication rate related to hemorrhages, Maimonides Medical Center gives blood thinners to nearly all of mothers who undergo cesarean sections or have other risk factors.

Friedman, who reviewed Fleurimond’s medical records at ProPublica’s request, said she should’ve received the drug.

Dr. Douglas Montgomery, an obstetrician-gynecologist and director of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department at California’s Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center, said he would prescribe the drug to any patient who had Fleurimond’s risk factors.

At around 6 p.m., Fleurimond called the father of her twins. She sounded short of breath. She said she was in pain and asked him to come to the hospital, then hung up and waited, alone.

At about 6:25 p.m., Fleurimond screamed, medical records show. A doctor and nurse entered her room and found her gasping for air. More responders came. They couldn’t find a pulse. After more than an hour of resuscitation attempts, she was pronounced dead at 7:45 p.m.

Because Fleurimond died “during diagnostic or therapeutic procedures or from complications of such procedures,” as Downstate’s website puts it, she was referred to the New York City medical examiner’s office for an autopsy. Her cause of death, according to the autopsy report: pulmonary embolism, also known as “venous thromboembolism,” a condition that almost always has a chance of being prevented.

In an emailed statement, Abulafia said SUNY Downstate “follows the proven [American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists] protocols for obstetric hemorrhage, severe hypertension and venous thromboembolism.” SUNY Downstate has not had a maternal death related to hemorrhage in the past 15 years, a spokesperson said.

Such assurances provide little solace to Fleurimond’s relatives, who have sought an attorney to represent them.

“Dacheca Fleurimond was clearly at high risk to have a blood clot and there weren’t adequate preventative measures,” said the attorney, Eleni Coffinas. “The obesity, the hypertension, and the fact that she hemorrhaged after her C-section were all high-risk factors and she needed to be monitored for that.”

US flag America mothers children babies momsDrew Hallowell / Stringer / Getty Images

New York City occupies a unique place in the discussion of racial disparities in maternal mortality as both a hub of groundbreaking research on the subject and one of the nation’s starkest examples of such gaps.

In addition to the work by Howell, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has published a couple of reports, including one documenting how, as the mortality rate of expectant and new mothers overall across the city has dropped, the disparity between black and white mothers has grown.

Even when accounting for risk factors like low educational attainment, obesity and neighborhood poverty level, the city’s black mothers still face significantly higher rates of harm, the agency found. Of note, black mothers who are college-educated fare worse than women of all other races who never finished high school. Obese women of all races do better than black women who are of normal weight. And black women in the wealthiest neighborhoods do worse than white, Hispanic and Asian mothers in the poorest ones.

The health department has even mapped where the most maternal harm occurs, dividing the city into community districts. The highest rates of complications are concentrated in a swath of land in Central Brooklyn, in an area largely untouched by the wave of gentrification that has swept other parts of the borough. Here, mothers face up to four times the complication rates of neighborhoods just a few subway stops away. Fleurimond lived in one such danger zone, in a public housing development in eastern Crown Heights.

Geography often dictates treatment

At three medical centers in this area that deliver babies — Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Kings County Hospital and SUNY Downstate — more than half of mothers who hemorrhaged during delivery experienced complications, ProPublica’s data analysis shows. More than three quarters of the women who give birth at Brookdale are black, as are nearly 90 percent of the women who deliver at Kings County Hospital.

Officials at Brookdale, a private nonprofit hospital, would not respond to questions from ProPublica. The New York City Health + Hospitals Corporation, the public benefit organization that operates Kings County Hospital, gave a detailed responselaying out its protocols for obstetric hemorrhages, including some recommended by Main’s group. Robert de Luna, a spokesperson for the city’s hospital operator, said in an email that while hemorrhage is a good proxy indicator for maternal harm, “some of our patients come from all over the world (self-referred), a good number coming to us too late to benefit from our prenatal care services.” (Read the full response here.)

Some of the women who deliver at these hospitals are well aware of their reputations.

Brookdale, for example, was recently rated an ‘F’ by Leapfrog, the health care quality and safety nonprofit, one of only 15 hospitals in the country to receive a failing grade.

But proximity sometimes takes precedence over choice. That was the case for Merowe Nubyahn, a 37-year-old hospice aide.

In March 2013, when Nubyahn was 24 weeks pregnant, she was overcome with intense nausea and vomiting, and unexpectedly, her water broke. When emergency medical technicians arrived at her East New York apartment, she begged them to take her anywhere but Brookdale. She hadn’t liked what she had heard about the hospital and had been getting her prenatal care elsewhere. The ambulance took her to Brookdale anyway because it was closest.

At the hospital, she was rushed in for a cesarean section. Her daughter, delivered at what’s considered the edge of viability, barely clung to life in the hospital’s NICU. When Nubyahn awoke in the recovery room, layers of gauze covered her belly and her throat felt like sandpaper.

Disoriented, she said she asked a nurse what had happened, but the words felt garbled leaving her mouth. Two of her teeth had been knocked out when she was intubated for anesthesia, according to her medical records. Nubyahn recalled that when she asked the doctor about them, he gave her an incredulous look and asked, “Are you sure you had teeth when you came in here?”

A bigger threat to her health emerged the morning after she was discharged from the hospital. As she sat in bed, she says she felt sharp cramping pains and a warm, viscous feeling. She looked down at her belly and saw dark, clotted blood — “plums and prunes” — bursting out of her cesarean incision.

Her wound had become infected — a common complication — and had begun to come apart. Still wearing her hospital bracelet, she was shuttled back to Brookdale and told she’d also developed a hematoma, a mass of blood, around her incision site.

obgyn doctor pediatrics hospital baby newborn icu Flickr via usnavy

While Nubyahn was being treated in one part of the hospital for her various complications, her baby died in another. Overcome with grief and stung by her treatment, Nubyahn checked herself out and vowed to never return. “All the horror stories that I have heard about Brookdale … I totally have my own now,” she said.

Khari Edwards, the vice president of external affairs at Brookdale, said the hospital would not comment on Nubyahn’s case due to privacy laws.

Recognizing that hospitals in Central Brooklyn have some of the highest maternal complication rates in the city, the health department has begun to target the area with services in recent years. It supports the By My Side initiative that pairs up women with doulas who can advocate for them during birth. The department also supports prenatal programs in the area based on a model of assessment, education and support, also known as CenteringPregnancy.

“We are data driven and we look to where the outcomes are the worst,” said Dr. Deborah Kaplan, the assistant commissioner for maternal, infant and reproductive health at the department.

This month, the city convened a new committee to review deaths and severe complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. One of its priorities will be to figure out why — despite years of research and attention — the city’s racial disparities have persisted and even grown.

“We used to say we are not sure why we are seeing these racial disparities. Now we say unequivocally that racism causes these problems,” said Kaplan. She emphasized that this encompassed not only health care but all aspects of life in the city, from housing to schools. “If we provide equally to everyone, we could widen the inequity. We have to prioritize putting resources in neighborhoods with the highest rates of severe maternal morbidity and the least access.”

Just three months after Fleurimond died at SUNY Downstate, another black woman died there, hours after giving birth.

Tanesia Walker, a 31-year-old flight attendant, had originally planned to deliver at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital in Park Slope, where she had her first son. But a week before her scheduled cesarean, her doctor changed her delivery to Downstate, where he also had privileges.

Walker grew nervous after reading negative reviews of the hospital online, family members said. They tried to calm her down. Hers was not a high-risk pregnancy, they reminded her. She wasn’t overweight and her blood pressure was fine.

Walker seemed okay after a C-section at SUNY Downstate on Nov. 27, holding her newborn son Tyre close to her chest as her family spent the afternoon with her. Then, at 2 a.m., she sent a text message to her fiancé saying she had a pain in her side, he told ProPublica.

A few hours later, she was dead.

As family members trickled into the hospital that morning, shocked and confused, doctors couldn’t say why she died, said her father Junior Walker. They mentioned the possibility of blood clots in her lungs, he added.

The family has requested her medical records from the hospital. As with Fleurimond, the city medical examiner’s office has done an autopsy, but has not yet released its report.

Walker’s death haunts her younger brother Dwayne, who kept in touch with her nonstop as she traveled. He can’t stop thinking, why her? She was educated, had a criminal justice degree from John Jay College. She was healthy, didn’t drink or smoke, ran track in high school. She was financially stable, quit a management job at Chase Bank to see the world aboard American Airlines.

“I just want to know why she died,” he said, eyes wet with tears. He keeps sending her text messages, even now that she is gone. “She was a healthy woman who shouldn’t have died from a cesarean section.”

Fleurimond’s family is doing its best to survive without her.

Her sister, Merline Lamy, took in Fleurimond’s six youngest children, blending them into her own household, but that meant squeezing 12 people into a three-bedroom apartment. The landlord threatened to evict them.

Fleurimond’s brother and his wife have tried to collect money for the children on GoFundMe, but so far have only raised about $250. (ProPublica reporter Nina Martin, who was not involved in the reporting or preparation of this story, donated $100 three months ago.)

Fleurimond’s 58-year-old mother has become the principal surrogate parent — changing diapers, cooking dinners and breaking up sibling spats. She sleeps no more than a couple of hours each night, her eyes permanently rimmed with dark shadows.

The kids, too, are struggling to settle into their new life.

On a recent evening, Joshua, 9, tried to tune out the noise in Lamy’s packed apartment and concentrate on his math homework. Berlynda, 10, comforted a twin in each arm. Aiden, 2, climbed on the couch with a runny nose.

Like all toddlers, his mood teeters between buoyancy and despair. But when he calls for “mama,” his siblings have to remind him she will not come.

ProPublica Illinois reporters Duaa Eldeib and Jerrel Floyd contributed to this report.

Deaths of 2017: Indiana celebrities and ‘everyday Hoosiers’ we lost

This year, like every year, Indiana lost a number of noteworthy citizens. Among them: musicians, ballplayers, sportswriters, cops, criminals, a poet, a wrestler and a guy who entertained us by taking pies to the face.

Aaron Allan — He became the first Southport Police Department officer to be killed in the line of duty. On July 27, he responded to a car accident in the suburb of Homecroft. He was shot 11 times by the driver of the crashed car, police said, who was charged with murder. Allan was 39. He is survived by a wife and son.

Dijon Anderson — He was a football star at Warren Central High School, soon to start his college career at Southern Illinois University when he was shot and killed on the city’s west side. He was 18. A classmate, Angel Mejia-Alforo, was also killed. The crimes are unsolved. 

Aaron Bailey — His death, on June 29, at the hands of police set off a controversy over the police behavior. About 200 hundred people rallied Downtown, demanding answers. Bailey, 45, was shot and killed after a traffic stop. Two IMPD officers stopped his vehicle about 1:45 a.m. near Burdsal Parkway and East Riverside Drive. About 10 minutes after the stop, Bailey took off in the vehicle, police said. The police gave chase. Bailey crashed. The officers approached his crashed vehicle and opened fire. Bailey was unarmed. His estate is suing the city of Indianapolis, its police department and the two officers who shot him.

John Bansch — A long-time Indianapolis Star sportswriter and editor, the gruff-voiced (but soft-hearted) Bansch was the first Colts beat writer, taking the assignment in 1984. He was known fondly as “the Captain.”  One of his first Colts reports began with this sentence: “Lonnie Kennel appears big enough and quick enough to go alligator hunting with his bare hands.” 

Bansch died March 8 at St. Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital in Indianapolis. He was 81.

Hope Baugh — A librarian by profession, she was also a storyteller and an advocate for the arts. She wrote theater criticism for NUVO and on her blog indytheatrehabit.com. She died Sept. 21 of complications from Evan’s Syndrome at age 56.

Chuckie Bush — He was a vocalist-keyboard player for Manchild, the Indianapolis-based soul-funk band known for launching the career of Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds. During the 1970s, the group attracted crowds at East 38th Street nightclubs such as Function Junction. Manchild put out two albums, “Power and Love” and “Feel the Phuff,” before breaking up in 1980. Bush died February 6 in Las Vegas, where he was performing with funk band Cameo at Westgate Resort & Casino. He was 58.

Earl Cornwell — He carried out serious business with a showman’s flare. The city’s foremost liquidator of the estates of Indianapolis’ wealthiest, Cornwell would arrive at a mansion, assess the decedent’s possessions (including in one case the underwear of a well-known doyenne), catalog them, and later, with his folksy patter, get rid of it. “I can’t think of nothing we ain’t sold,” Cornwell told The Indianapolis Star in 2000, “except machine guns.” Cornwell died July 17 at age 92 after suffering a stroke a week earlier.

Hal Fryar — As Harlow Hickenlooper, a goofy character of his own invention, Fryar entertained generations of Indianapolis children on TV where he hosted several shows. His version of “Happy Birthday” was so over-the-top bad it was beloved. But it was his willingness to take a pie in the face that most endeared him to his youthful audience. “Kids just love silliness, particularly in the 4 to 10 age,” Fryar told IndyStar in a 1995 interview.

Fryar died June 24 at age 90.

Mari Evans — The poet and social activist was among the architects of the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and 1970s. She first caught the public’s attention in 1970 with the publication of her second collection of poetry, “I Am A Black Woman.” Her poems were realistic and sometimes ironic, but also hopeful, even ecstatic. She ended “Who Can Be Born Black?” with these lines: “Who/ can be born/ black/ and not exult!”

Evans died March 10 at age 97.

Nicky Hayden — Known as “the Kentucky Kid,” Hayden was a champion motorcycle racer who twice had podium finishes at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, the bike race formerly held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He died May 22, five days after being hit by a car while training on his bicycle in Cesena, Italy. Hayden was 35. 

James Hardy — He was a football star at Indiana University before being drafted into the NFL in 2008. His pro career was short-lived, however, and Hardy later may have suffered with mental illness. In 2014 in Los Angeles police arrested him for causing a disturbance. A judge ruled him not competent to stand trial. Hardy’s body was found June 7 in the Maumee River near Fort Wayne. Hardy was 31

Bobby Heenan — Known first as “Pretty Boy” Bobby Heenan and later as Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, he was pro wrestling’s cleverest villain from the 1960s through the 1980s. He worked as a wrestler and also as a manager of wrestlers. He launched his career in Indianapolis with Dick “The Bruiser” Afflis in 1965, irritating Indianapolis TV audiences and live crowds at the Tyndall Armory, Bush Stadium, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, the Indiana Convention Center and Market Square Arena well into the 1970s. Heenan died Sept. 17 at age 72 of throat cancer.

Don Jellison — He was the voice of sports in Hamilton County, a Noblesville Ledger sportswriter for more than 45 years. Jellison later plied his craft at the Noblesville Daily Times and, most recently, the Hamilton County Reporter. Jellison was inducted into both the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame and the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. He was known for not being overly critical. “If you got beat or got beat bad,” said long-time Sheridan High School football coach Larry “Bud” Wright, “he tried to see the brighter spots. He didn’t dwell on a lot of negativity.”

Jellison died Oct. 29 at age 80 after a battling pneumonia and health issues for the past year.

Mingo Jones — One of the last surviving musicians to play in the storied, long-gone jazz clubs of Indiana Avenue, Jones was primarily a bass player but also played trumpet. He performed alongside many of the top names in jazz. It was the Grammy-winning guitarist Wes Montgomery who gave Jones his shot, asking Jones to fill in on bass on a night the scheduled bassist, the acclaimed Leroy Vinnegar, failed to show. “I sat in and played the whole night,” Jones said in a 2011 interview with IndyStar. “Wes asked me back the next night.”

Jones died April 3 at age 88 of throat cancer.

Andre B. Lacy — He was a business leader and a philanthropist, the chairman of Lacy Diversified Industries, a century-old family business, and Butler University’s foremost benefactor. In 2016, Lacy and his wife, Julia, donated $25 million to Butler, which named its business school in his honor. It was the largest gift by an individual or family in Butler’s history. Lacy, a keen and experienced motorcyclist, was killed Nov. 30 in a motorcycle crash in Botswana. He was 78.

Audrey Lupton — She was a teenager who captured the hearts of her classmates and teachers at University High School in Carmel. After being diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare muscle cancer, she naturally had to miss out on some of the usual high school activities. But her friends did some inventive work-arounds: They executed her plan for the senior prank; they arranged a full-on commencement ceremony for her in the hospital. Audrey died July 6. She was 17.

Orville Lynn Majors — He was Indiana’s quietest, most low-key serial killer, a pet shop owner and hospital nurse. While employed at the Vermillion County Hospital in the early and mid-1990s, he was convicted of six murders. But authorities believe he may have killed as many as 70 elderly patients as they convalesced there. Majors died Sept. 24 of natural causes in the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City where he was serving a 360-year sentence. He was 56.

Charles Manson — The wild-eyed cult leader, who in his adolescence was a juvenile delinquent in Indianapolis, directed the savage killings of seven people in Los Angeles in 1969, most famously the actress Sharon Tate. He died Nov. 19 while serving multiple life sentences in a California prison at age 83 of natural causes.

Larry McKinney — McKinney was appointed a district court judge for the Southern District of Indiana in July 1987. He became a senior judge in July 2009 and handled a number of high-profile cases, including Kyle Cox’s. Cox is the disgraced Park Tudor School basketball coach who pled guilty to charges of coercion, or enticement for exchanging explicit text messages with a 15-year-old student. McKinney died Sept. 20 at age 73.

H. Roll McLaughlin — He was an early and ardent advocate of preserving historic buildings in Indianapolis and throughout Indiana. He helped found Indiana Landmarks and, as president of the architectural firm James Associates Inc., he oversaw the restoration of a number of historic buildings in Indianapolis, including the Benjamin Harrison house, Crown Hill Cemetery’s Gothic chapel, and the J.K. Lilly house on the grounds of Newfields. McLaughlin died April 20 at 94.

Dorothy Mengering — She was kindly, unassuming “Dave’s mom,” Dave being David Letterman. But she was game, too. An Indianapolis church secretary, she proved an appealing TV correspondent on her son’s late-night TV show, contributing reports from the Olympic games and making other cameos. She died April 11 at her home in Carmel. She was 95.

Ron Meyer  — He was a career football coach who led the Colts in their early days in Indianapolis. The team was 0-13 when he was hired late in 1986. They won their last three games of the season and the next year reached the playoffs. Meyer was fired Oct. 1, 1991, after an 0-5 start. Meyer died Dec. 5 at age 76.

Erin Moran — Known widely as the child actor who played kid sister Joanie on the ’70s sitcom “Happy Days,” Moran fell into obscurity as an adult. She suffered hardship. She and her husband, Steve Fleischmann, lost their home to foreclosure in 2010. In 2011, the couple moved to Indiana to live with Fleischmann’s sick mother, according to ABC News. Moran was living in a mobile home in Harrison County when she died of cancer April 22, at age 56.

Jim Nabors — Nationally, Nabors was best known as comedic rube Gomer Pyle on the 1960s TV sitcoms “The Andy Griffith Show” and its spinoff, “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” But in Indianapolis he was taken seriously, even revered for his renditions of the song “(Back Home Again in) Indiana,” which he performed over the public address system before the start of the Indy 500 nearly every year from 1972 until 2014. Nabors died Nov. 30 at his home in Hawaii at age 87 after a long illness.

Ara Parseghian — In his 11 years coaching the Notre Dame football team, Parseghian led the team to national titles in 1966 and 1973. He took over the Fighting Irish in 1964, after a 2-7 season, and immediately went 9-1. His career record at the school was 95-17-4. Parseghian died Aug. 2 in South Bend at age 94.

Greg Perry — He was a writer, artist and civic leader and the designer of the iconic Landmark for Peace Memorial sculpture at King-Kennedy Park on Indianapolis’ near northside. He helped get off the ground two of the city’s most fun events, the Tonic Ball and the Stutz Artists Open House. Perry died on June 3 at age 56.

Patricia Roy — She was a pioneer for girls’ sports, hired by the Indiana High School Athletic Association on Jan. 1, 1972, months before Title IX. The group’s first director of girls athletics met resistance from longtime athletic directors and coaches. Roy persisted, staying on the job 27½ years at the IHSAA, the longest tenure in the IHSAA’s history. Roy died May 23 in Florida, where she lived, after an illness of several months, at the age of 78.

Sister Jane Edward Schilling — She co-founded Martin University in Indianapolis along with Father Boniface Hardin in 1970. She worked at the Indianapolis university until 2012 in a variety of roles, including executive director, academic dean and associate director, vice president of academic affairs, and vice president emeritus and historian. Schilling died Sept. 13 in St. Louis at age 87.

Scott Swingle — With his irreverent wit, Swingle cut a wide swath through the local Twitter world despite his relatively few (871) followers. Politics, beer, the Buffalo Bills, whatever, Swingle, or @ThatDickScott, had a take, and it was generally clever. When Swingle died, May 28 at the age of 36, after suffering a heart attack the day prior, some 50 Twitter accounts posted photos of glasses, cans and bottles filled with various booze. Swingle had been toasted widely. And for a short while, “@ThatDickScott” was trending.

Brody Stephens — Despite being diagnosed with cancer while still a baby, Brody showed uncanny drive and ability in youth basketball, often beating kids older than him. His courageous health battles and winning personality drew widespread attention and sympathy from some of Brody’s idols, including NBA star Steph Curry, who visited with Brody several times. Brody died April 29 of a viral complication from leukemia. He was 8.

Artie Stevens — He was a chef with a big personality who’d overcome a troubled past and was a champion of the paleo diet. He operated the Artie’s Paleo OnTheGo delivery service and Artie’s Cafe. Stevens collapsed while working Nov. 3 and died six days later at age 39 without regaining consciousness.

Joe Tiller — He was Purdue University’s all-time winningest football coach. Tiller took over the Boilermakers in 1997 and coached until 2008. The team had had just one winning season in the previous 13 years. Under Tiller Purdue played in 10 bowl games in 12 seasons. 

Tiller died Sept. 30 of natural causes in Buffalo, Wyoming. He was 74.

Mary Warble — In the 1950s she was among the first restaurateurs in Indianapolis to sell a new type of food, a doughy, hand-held thing called pizza. At a time when restaurant operators tended to be content with one-offs, and when few women owned businesses, Warble opened six more Maria’s Pizza restaurants throughout Indianapolis. Her secret: go heavy on the muenster. Warble died Nov. 7 at age 93. 

Jeff Washburn — He was a longtime former Purdue sports beat writer at the Lafayette Journal & Courier and later The Sports Xchange. He died at age 63 of esophageal cancer on Nov. 29, 19 hours after covering a Purdue basketball game, two days after covering a Colts game and three days after covering a Purdue football game. 

James Waters — He was a deputy chief of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police, having worked in law enforcement in Indianapolis for nearly 30 years. He died July 27 at age 48 following a traffic accident in Indianapolis while off duty.

Chris Wheat — He was the radio executive, the “suit,” who oversaw “Bob & Tom Show” flagship station WFBQ-FM (94.7) from 1984 to 2006. He defended the controversial morning show when it came under attack by a small but outraged organization called Decency in Broadcasting. During Wheat’s tenure, WFBQ, otherwise known as Q95, won 12 Marconi Radio Awards — the National Association of Broadcasters’ top prize. Wheat died Oct. 13 at age 66.

Tommy Wills — Known as “the Man with a Horn,” he was a saxophonist and bandleader who played Indianapolis nightclubs for more than a half century. He played the clubs on Indiana Avenue in the 1940s, and later the Rathskellar and most recently the Jazz Kitchen. He died Oct. 20 in Indianapolis at age 93.

Megan Woodward— She was a widely respected and liked English teacher at Southport High School. She died Sept. 29 of injuries she suffered falling off a car she was helping students decorate for Homecoming. She was 29.

Contact Star writer Will Higgins at (317) 444-6043. Follow him on Twitter @WillRHiggins







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2017 Gay Travel Award Winners Revealed!

23 leading LGBTQ, inclusive and accepting winners selected from hundreds of finalists.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – CALIFORNIA, USA, December 29, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — Hollywood, CA, December 29, 2017 –​​​GayTravel.com — a trusted resource for LGBTQ travelers across the globe — announced the winners of the 2017 Gay Travel Awards.

The mission of the Gay Travel Awards is to recognize and promote select LGBTQ welcoming properties, events, destinations and travel-related companies around the globe. These distinguished organizations lead by example and help to inspire other companies and brands around the world to follow their spirit of inclusiveness and acceptance.

The Gay Travel Awards promote LGBTQ travel and tourism by identifying and rewarding select organizations which exemplify a spirit of inclusiveness, acceptance, and hospitality excellence.”

— Stephen Prisco – Vice President GayTravel.com

“The Gay Travel Awards support and promote LGBTQ travel and tourism by identifying and rewarding select organizations that exemplify a spirit of inclusiveness, acceptance, exemplary customer service and hospitality excellence,” said Stephen Prisco, Vice President of this year’s sponsor, GayTravel.com.

A complete list of this year’s categories and winners are listed alphabetically below:

Bed & Breakfast of the Year – Worthington Guesthouse – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Car Rental – Advantage Rent A Car
Casino Resort – Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, FL
Destination Domestic – Orlando, FL
Destination International – Vienna
Fan Favorite Hotel – Nikki Beach Resort Koh Samui
Gay Bar of the Year – Palace Bar – Miami Beach, FL
Gay Pride of the Year – New York City
Hotel Collection of the Year – Starwood Hawaii
Hotel Luxury, Europe – St.James’ Court, London
Hotel Luxury, Mexico – The St. Regis Mexico City
Hotel Luxury, US – Rancho Valencia – Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Hotel, Wedding Resort – Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island
LGBT Cruise Operator – Atlantis
LGBT Tour Operator – Toto Tours
LGBT Travel Agency – Cruising with Pride
Ocean Cruise Line – Royal Caribbean International
Romantic Hotel or Resort – Castlehotel Schönburg
Spa of the Year – Meadowood Napa Valley
Summer Event – Gay Wine Weekend
Travel App – Hopper
Value Hotel – Doubletree by Hilton Orlando Downtown
Winter Event – Whistler Pride

About www.GayTravel.com

GayTravel connects the LGBTQ community with gay-friendly destinations, hotels, cruises, tours, events, entertainment, attractions, clubs and restaurants throughout the world. Their mission is to provide the community with safe, welcoming and unique recommendations to ensure that every vacation is both pleasurable and memorable.

For additional information, visit www.GayTravel.com or call (800) GAY-TRAVEL or follow @GayTravel on Facebook and Twitter, @GayTravelInsta on Instagram.

Victoria Rohrlick
1-800-Gay-Trav (ext 710)
email us here


The year 2017 will be remembered as the year Donald Trump became president of the United States, making it an interesting year as far as news-making was concerned. What is and what isn’t news became as important as the main issues of the year.

In Southern California, 2017 was the year government leaders finally decided to address the homelessness crisis. Local leaders also fought with Trump over immigration issues and local governments wrestled with what do with marijuana, which becomes legal for recreational use by adults over 21 on Jan. 1, 2018.

Those are among the top stories of 2017 that we look at in our annual year-in-review issue.

Officials seek lower

homeless numbers


In January, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority sends volunteers out into the darkness to count the number of homeless people.

Officials were stunned when the numbers were announced in May. The number of homeless people in Los Angeles County had increased 23 percent from January 2016. There were now 57,794 people living on the streets, their cars, under freeway overpasses and along the Los Angeles Rivers and other waterways, up from 46,874 people in 2016.

Officials used words like “staggering” and “abysmal” to describe the 23 percent increase.

But officials had begun planning to solve the problem even before the dramatic numbers were revealed.

In November 2016, voters in the city of Los Angeles approved Measure HHH, a $1.2 billion bond issue to pay for more than 10,000 units of housing.

And in March 2017, Los Angeles County voters approved a .25 percent sales tax increase that is expected to raise $355 million annually over the next 10 years. The money will be spent to provide services for homeless people that will hopefully get them off the street permanently.

In November, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and Los Angeles County announced an innovative grant program with cities in the county that saw 47 of the county’s 88 cities submit applications.

The idea was to get cities to develop their own strategic plans for dealing with homeless issues, with the United Way and Los Angeles County providing funding resources.

“Each application that we received was reviewed by a county CEO staff member, United Way staff member and two volunteers from our Home For Good Funders Collaborative,” said Chris Ko, director of homeless initiatives for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.

“Their scores and comments were all collected and utilized in the award deliberation meetings that followed with reviewers and with the other members of Funders Collaborative.”

Each city will receive a planning grant ranging from $30,000 to $70,000, depending on the number of homeless families and individuals within its municipal boundaries.

West Hollywood is one of the grantees.

“We’re excited and grateful,” said Corri Plank, project manager of the West Hollywood Homeless Initiative.

“West Hollywood has a long history of serving its vulnerable population including its homeless community members. This is another opportunity for us to look at some of the various pieces of data on our homeless community, to look at strategies that are included in the county initiatives, to look at some of the things we’ve been doing and we look at what our social service providers are doing.”

The next homeless count is the last week of January 2018. Officials are hoping for better — meaning lower — numbers this time around.

Los Angeles officials waited until December to pass new laws dealing with the legalization of marijuana. Many other area cities voted to ban the sale and cultivation of recreational marijuana, but West Hollywood was one of the few cities to welcome the legalization of the drug. (File photo)

New pot regulations

to take effect Jan. 1

When Californians voted in November 2016 to legalize the recreational sue of marijuana for adults 21 and over, the new law didn’t take effect until Jan. 1 2018, giving the state and local governments a year to prepare for it.

Some area cities took little time to decide they didn’t want to deal with legal pot and voted not to allow permits for the sale, cultivation or distribution of marijuana within their boundaries.

Los Angeles took most of the year to develop its procedures, with the City Council approving regulations Dec. 6 and Dec. 13.

Council President Herb Wesson said he hopes the new laws will be a national model for other cities to follow.

“We are L.A. We are a big city. We do big stuff, that’s who we are, that’s how we roll,” Wesson said. “And there are cities throughout this country that are looking at us today.”

The rules approved by the panel would create limitations on how many cannabis businesses could be located in each neighborhood, similar to the regulations imposed on the alcohol industry, and also create requirements on how far cannabis businesses must be located from “sensitive sites,” including schools, public parks and other cannabis retailers.

Retail businesses must be 700 feet from sensitive sites under the rules, while non-retail and delivery businesses must be 600 feet from schools.

Bellflower allowed voters to determine policies. A ballot measure in March was approved by voters to allow as many as 12 licenses for sales, cultivation and distribution for medicinal marijuana only.

It took the council another nine months to award four permits for sales and another for cultivation and that came after a marathon 10-hour City Council meeting.

Compton originally voted against allowing marijuana sales in the community but now has competing measures on a Jan. 23 special election ballot to settle the issue.

West Hollywood, always one of the most liberal cities in the county, is the only city so far to approve places to consume marijuana as part of its response to legalization.

Safety changes

make traffic worse

PLAYA DEL REY — Los Angeles is notorious for its traffic and 2017’s “road diets” — part of a pilot safety program — didn’t help to change that stigma. The lane reductions in Playa del Rey in some instances removed traffic lanes in both directions.

The public reacted with complaints about the pedestrian-friendly updates slowing traffic to a crawl calling it “one-lane madness.”

The lane reductions were meant to improve safety. Between 2003 and 2016, there were 244 collisions that resulted in injuries occurred along Pershing Drive, Culver Boulevard and Jefferson Boulevard, and eight people lost their lives, according to city data. Councilman Mike Bonin backed the project and he defended the road alterations.

“We don’t need to sacrifice another mother or child to make way for as many speeding cars as we can jam through our neighborhoods,” Bonin wrote.

The updates included restriping on Vista del Mar, Culver Boulevard, Jefferson Boulevard and Pershing Drive. All four streets were reduced to a single lane in each direction with a center lane for turning. Diagonal parking spaces were added to stretches of Pershing, Culver and Vista del Mar, while new bike lanes were added to Jefferson, Culver and Pershing.

An online petition calling for an end to the project gathered thousands of signatures and an online campaign raised tens of thousands of dollars for its supporters to take legal action against the city and organize opposition.

In July, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation announced it was adding an extra traffic lane —spanning a few blocks from Nicholson Street to Jefferson Boulevard along Culver Street. The following month, Councilman Bonin declared that traffic lanes would be restored in Playa del Rey.

However, on Aug. 10, a group of Westside residents called KeepLAMoving took it a step further and filed a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles calling for the project to end.

“We’ve documented 27 accidents in two months,” said John Russo, chief analytics officer for KeepLAMoving. “That’s an astounding increase of 132 percent over the previous average of just 11.6 per year. The fact is, our streets are not safer. Our residential streets are being deluged with cars cutting through to avoid the gridlock created on the arterials, our businesses are dying, air pollution is noticeably worse, and our quality of life has diminished.”

In October, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Bonin announced that the remaining traffic lanes removed in Playa del Rey would be restored — with lane restoration work scheduled to start later that month.

Leslie Lockhart

Culver City gets

new superintendent

CULVER CITY — The Culver City Unified School District got a new superintendent before the year was over — she’s the first African-American to hold the position. On Dec. 12, the five-member Culver City school board voted unanimously to appoint Leslie Lockhart as superintendent of the Culver City Unified School District. She was named interim superintendent after the former Superintendent Josh Arnold left his post in June.

“Leslie Lockhart has been serving as interim superintendent for these past six months, and has demonstrated that she has the talent, vision, passion and skills to be CCUSD’s next superintendent,” said school board President Kathy Paspalis.

Arnold only lasted a year as superintendent. He was dismissed because the board did not share the same vision of leadership for the district. Before coming to Culver City, Arnold had been serving as the assistant superintendent of educational services in the Los Alamitos Unified School District in Orange County.

During his tenure in the district, Arnold set in motion several initiatives, including plans to install system-wide air conditioning, demolishing the non-operational swimming pool; pursuing total inclusion of special education students into the mainstream classroom, and establishing Makerspace classrooms in each of the elementary schools.

The school board said it was committed to pursuing those projects in the coming years. The board also praised Arnold for upgrading the district’s brand and image, particularly an extensive social media campaign called Culver Pride.

Lockhart has worked for the district since 1998. She was hired as assistant principal of activities and discipline at Culver City High School. She also was the principal of El Rincon Elementary School before moving to the district office to be director of categorical programs. Her last position was as assistant superintendent of human resources – a job she continued while acting as interim superintendent.

“I wholeheartedly accept this full time position. It is my honor and privilege to continue to serve CCUSD as superintendent,” Lockhart said. “I thank the board for their vote of confidence in me, and the staff and community for their steadfast support. As I have done for the past 19 years, I will work daily with the best interests of the children of this district in mind.”

Culver Studios

donations recognized

CULVER CITY — Culver Studios has been recognized for its giving spirit not just for the holidays, but all year long. The production studio has a long line of philanthropic activity supporting public education and Culver City schools.

The production studio presented a check for more than $3,300 to the Culver City Backpacks for Kids program to help ensure that needy students have sufficient food for the weekend. The funds were the proceeds of a family carnival featuring food, rides, games and entertainment hosted on the Culver Studios historic front lawn in April.

In May, the Culver City school board honored the studio for its contributions toward education. In November, the Culver City Education Foundation thanked them for its $15,000 donation towards the Front and Center Theatre Collaborative – an innovative theater education program for all district students.

Culver City Backpacks for Kids has grown rapidly since its start in 2013 at one elementary school where teachers noticed that some of their students came to school hungry on Mondays. Parent and school volunteers began putting together simple backpacks to provide students food for the weekends.

Supported by the Culver City Council PTA, Backpacks for Kids is run entirely by volunteers and receives no funding from the school district or state or federal sources. Food drives are held in December at all schools, and twice a year the program hosts a food and donation drive at a local supermarket.

“We are so pleased to have the Culver Studios as a neighbor and generous sponsor of our school district,” said Kathy Paspalis, president of the Culver City school board. “They are a model of good corporate citizenship and we look forward to working with them for years to come.”

Culver Studios partners with the school district, the Culver City Education Foundation, the Culver City Council PTA, and nearby Linwood E. Howe Elementary School, to host fund-raising events for the groups and activities for students on the studio lot.

At the 2017 Culver Studios community holiday party, Hackman Capital CEO and President Michael Hackman announced another generous donation to the Culver City Backpacks for Kids Program.

“At this time of year, it is of utmost importance to make sure that no student goes without sustenance,” said Hackman.

The gift will finance the purchase of two weeks’ worth of supplies for the program that helps ensure that needy Culver City students have sufficient food for the weekend.

Seniors halt

apartment evictions

WEST LOS ANGELES — The residents of Vintage Westwood Apartments feared they would have to leave their home last year, but 2017 was a year of victory for the senior citizens.

Dozens of elderly residents were told to be out by April, so Watermark Retirement Communities could complete a $50 million renovation and convert the building on 947 Tiverton Ave., into a residential care facility with assisted living. The current facility is unlicensed and does not provide health care options.

However, Watermark spokeswoman Laura Mecoy, said most of the residents were given a year to move from the start. The residents were given the option to move back in at the same rental rate and would have been paid up to $19,700 per unit for moving costs — an amount required under the Rent Stabilization Act.

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz stepped in to help and publicly accused Watermark of being a “greedy corporation,” run by “faceless, heartless wheeler-dealers.”

The City Council approved a motion — introduced by Koretz — that directed the city’s Housing and Community Investment Department to report back within two weeks on making the determination.

On Feb. 14, around a dozen residents or their children spoke at the City Council meeting and talked of the stress and hardship an eviction would mean.

“I may not show my anger and my fear by my voice, but we are all really very frightened, very distressed and emotionally upset about the feeling that we have to evacuate the building,” resident Jane Monbach said.

The City Council unanimously approved a motion by Koretz to ask the Housing and Community Investment Department to decide if the property should be designated a residential hotel, which would make it ineligible for the Ellis Act evictions.

The Ellis Act is a provision in California law that provides landlords with a legal way to get out of the rental market business.

On Feb. 17, a letter from Watermark Retirement Communities, carbon copied to City Council members and Mayor Eric Garcetti, was sent to the residents saying everyone can stay. However, the offer came with a warning, that the council needed to stop trying to make the property a residential hotel. Executive Director Allison Marty of Watermark Retirement Communities added that residents who wished to stay during the renovations could do so, although they may have to temporarily move rooms or be temporarily moved to a hotel at no cost to them.

In June, the city went forward and designated the building a “residential hotel,” which prevented the tenants from being moved out.

City fights Venice

Beach safety, curfew  

VENICE — The beach curfew enacted in 1988 to deter late night crime — covering beaches, piers and seafront parks from San Pedro to Pacific Palisades — has the possibility of being relaxed. On top of that, some argue that the city has failed to keep the beaches clean and safe.

Lawyers for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office have urged a judge to dismiss a legal challenge to Los Angeles’ 29-year-old overnight beach curfew, saying it conforms with the California Coastal Act. However, attorneys for two opponents of the ordinance said the city should have submitted the law to the California Coastal Commission for review before enacting it.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Susan Bryant-Deason did not immediately rule on the city’s motion, saying she would take the issues under submission and issue a decision soon.

However, she did hand the plaintiffs a favorable ruling when she granted their motion to dismiss one of the city’s affirmative defenses: that the entire action was barred because the enactment and enforcement of the curfew was not the type of “development” that requires Coastal Commission approval.

Lawyers for the city maintain the ordinance is needed to limit vandalism and crime on the beach and that the curfew is exempt from the permit provisions of the Coastal Act. They also claim the lawsuit should have been brought within three years of the curfew’s enactment.

Meanwhile, the Venice Stakeholders Association has filed an appellate court brief in hopes of keeping alive its lawsuit that claims the city and county of Los Angeles are neglecting the beach area. They also argue in its brief that the issues it is raising in the case must be tried by a jury and are not subject to the city and county’s motions for summary judgment.

The complaint blamed the city for failing to enforce an ordinance that restricts people from setting up encampments to sleep overnight at the beach area, which is considered a park owned by the city and partly managed by the county.

In 2015, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Alarcon ruled against the city and county’s effort to have the lawsuit dismissed, but that decision was later overturned by the 2nd District Court of Appeal, and the association’s appeal brief is an effort to keep its lawsuit moving forward.

When the lawsuit was filed in 2014, Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, said he also was frustrated by the “deplorable conditions on and near Venice Beach” but that the city’s own attempts to manage vending, sleeping in public areas, camping and trash in the area had all been hindered by the courts.

Venice High

teacher honored

VENICE — A Venice High School teacher was named one of five 2018 California Teachers of the Year. Kirsten Farrell, a health science and medical technology teacher, is the only Los Angeles Unified School District teacher this year to receive the honor.

“I want to thank the California Department of Education for this very special recognition,” Farrell said. “I have always been — and continue to be — inspired by my students and by my many dedicated colleagues every single day.”

Farrell created one of the first LAUSD sports medicine teams, which she founded at Venice High in 2004 in partnership with the West Coast Sports Foundation. In addition to teaching students about anatomy, medical terminology and the ability to treat athletic injuries, the program helps them recognize signs of concussions and trains them in CPR, use of defibrillator and other life-saving techniques.

“We are incredibly proud of Ms. Farrell for this important distinction,” said LAUSD acting Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. “In addition to exhibiting educational excellence, she is someone who embodies an entrepreneurial spirit. Breaking new ground in important fields, she is an amazing role model for students everywhere.”

A 21-year teaching veteran, Farrell has served at Venice High for 15 years as a regional occupational program and career technical education teacher. She has taught a variety of courses, including sports medicine, medical terminology and sports therapeutics. She is also a certified athletic trainer.

Farrell’s’ recognition also garnered accolades from Los Angeles school board.

“We celebrate the amazing talent in Los Angeles and are proud to have Ms. Farrell honored as a California Teacher of the Year,” said school board President Mónica García. “Ms. Farrell models the qualities of inspiring educators, like excellence, commitment, healer, scholar and bridge builder. And, we salute her work to get more students to the graduation finish line, ready for college, career and beyond.”

Presented by California Casualty and the California Teachers of the Year Foundation, the California Teachers of the Year Program began in 1972 to honor outstanding teachers and encourage new teachers to enter the profession.

Culver City bans

polystyrene items

CULVER CITY — The city became the 108th city in California to adopt a citywide ordinance that bans the use of polystyrene items used at fast-food restaurants.

The ban was approved by the City Council May 8 and took effect Nov. 8.

Polystyrene, which is a synthetic polymer plastic that comes in two forms: foam (often mistakenly referred to as “Styrofoam”) and solid (straws, cutlery, coffee cup lids), are commonly used by restaurants for take-out food orders.

The polystyrene ban prohibits the sale of foam foodware, including coolers that are not encased in another material. All food establishments providing take-out food are prohibited from using solid and foam polystyrene products and are required to ask their customers whether they want cutlery included with their takeout order. Egg cartons, meat trays used for the sale of unprepared food, food prepared outside of the city and foam packing materials used in shipping containers are exempt from the ban.

“One of the primary examples of the amount of Styrofoam waste can be found in Ballona Creek,” Mayor Jeffrey Cooper said.

Ballona Creek flows through Culver City as an open channel, which drains stormwater and urban runoff within the 130-square-mile Ballona Creek Watershed to the Pacific Ocean.

The City Council went even further in its efforts to prevent all types of trash that ends up in Ballona Creek by installing waste and recycling receptacles along the creek bike path, as well as key areas within the Ballona Creek Watershed.

Ballona Creek Renaissance — a Culver City nonprofit organization with a mission to improve Ballona Creek — brought its polystyrene ban proposal to the City Council Sustainability Subcommittee, which in turn recommended it to the City Council. After deliberation, the City Council adopted the resolution to ban polystyrene in the city.

After the ban was approved, the city conducted a six-month comprehensive outreach program that included a series of workshops with food providers, geared toward explaining the ban and identifying alternative products and their suppliers.

#4 All About Art

#4 All About Art

Crystal Bridges furthers inclusive initiatives

Photo courtesy: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas
Titus Kaphar’s “The Cost of Removal” is a new acquisition for the Crystal Bridges permanent collection and will be displayed in the 1940s to Now gallery. The piece investigates historical subjects through the lens of current events to call attention to who and what is memorialized or forgotten.

Be It Resolved

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville has established itself as an internationally significant voice in presenting the American experience through art, continually offering new ways to engage and challenge visitors.

The Past

When Crystal Bridges opened in 2011, staff anticipated 200,00 to 300,000 yearly visitors for the region’s first American art museum. Far exceeding that expectation, more than 3.5 million people have stepped through the museum’s doors, which includes the nearly 165,000 visitors to the Bachman-Wilson House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and opened at its new Crystal Bridges home in November of 2015; more than 200,000 school children participating in free field trips through the Willard and Pat Walker School Visit Program; and the 207,000 guests drawn by the sculptures of world-renowned glass blower Dale Chihuly between May and November of this year. The permanent collection has grown from 1,555 to more than 2,507 pieces, and Crystal Bridges provides 800 educational programs and special events throughout the year, up from 40 in the first year of operations.

The Present

In exploring ways to appeal to a wider audience, museum curators began a project some time ago of incorporating modern sculptural works alongside pieces in earlier galleries. In response to a positive reception, Crystal Bridges will close its early American art galleries for two months to redesign the space for the first time since opening.

“It’s one thing to be able to provide visitors with temporary exhibitions that are able to explore certain topics or artists in great depth, but this is our way of making sure our own collection galleries stay just as relevant and exciting as our temporary exhibitions,” says curator Mindy Besaw. “We’re not doing anything horribly wrong in our early American galleries. But we can make it so much better and relevant, so why not do some experimentation to see what would happen if we looked at these things differently?”

Crystal Bridges will also incorporate works on loan from other museums into the redesign, including Spanish Colonial and American Indian art to provide more “texture” to the work on display. A collaboration with the University of Arkansas to provide some pre-1400s American Indian objects will further help guests see the complexities of American art and history.

The Colonial to Early 19th Century and Late 19th Century galleries will be inaccessible to guests from Jan. 9 until the scheduled reopening of the galleries in early March.

Another area already fresh from redesign is the North Forest where “Chihuly: In the Forest,” the highest-attended exhibition in the museum’s history, was on display from May to November. Reopening on Dec. 23, the forest is now home to four sculptures from the permanent collection including two recent acquisitions. Indoors, two other new acquisitions increase the diversity of the 1940s to Now gallery: Titus Kaphar’s “The Cost of Removal” and Fritz Scholder’s “Indian Land #4.”

One piece from the outdoor half of the Chihuly exhibition managed to stick around as community members participated in a contest, voting on which sculpture would be purchased for the museum’s permanent collection. Nearly 20,000 votes divided among four pieces resulted in visitors choosing to keep the “Fiori Boat” — a wooden rowboat filled with 179 colorful spheres and batons.

The Future

Crystal Bridges maintains its commitment to presenting diverse perspectives in 2018 with a timely, but potentially controversial schedule for temporary exhibitions and distinguished speakers. “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” a dive into the experience of black artists in America from the 1960s through the 1980s, opens in February as Crystal Bridges hosts the American debut and one of only two state-side stops for the exhibition organized by the Tate Modern in London.

The following two exhibitions — on the legacy of Georgia O’Keeffe and a presentation of works by Native North American artists — were curated by Crystal Bridges staff and will later go on to show at other museums nationally — and perhaps even internationally as the museum seeks to expand the influence of its in-house scholarship.

— Robbie Neiswanger contributed to this story.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Best of 2017: Who was Charleena Lyles? Family, court records paint picture

An image of Charleena Lyles is seen at the site of a vigil in front of Brettler Family Place 3, where she was killed by Seattle Police Department officers. Credit: Lilly A. Fowler/Crosscut

This week Crosscut is running some of our best stories of the year, as selected both by our editors and by popularity with readers.

The room was as tense as any family get-together. It’s not always that comfortable to hang with relatives, let alone when the occasion is to remember a family member horrifically killed.

Late one recent Friday night, Charleena Lyles’ relatives gathered at a small storefront church on Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. The house of worship, The Way of Holiness Church of God in Christ, was a place Lyles visited occasionally. Inside, more than a dozen family members — sisters, cousins, nieces — filled several pews. As Lyles’ newly orphaned children played by the kitchen, relatives talked about what they saw as the gross mischaracterization of Lyles after last month’s fatal shooting by Seattle police.

“Anybody who has dealt with domestic violence or had a hard life and struggled, they’re going to be affected mentally. I don’t think it’s fair that we keep saying she’s crazy,” said Nakeya Isabell, Lyles’ cousin. A more accurate depiction, relatives said, would acknowledge Lyles’ struggles but also recognize she was “a woman taking care of her babies the best way she knew how.”

Relatives described Lyles as kind, positive and “a giver.” Others emphasized her physical attributes — petite, attractive. Thirty-year-old Lyles was African American, 5’4’’, 110 pounds with brown eyes, according to court records.

“I used to call her Bambi because she had long eyelashes,” Isabell said.

Lyles' youngest son, Zi, is seen in the arms of a family member during a family gathering at a Rainier Valley church.
Lyles’ youngest son, Zi, is seen in the arms of a family member during a family gathering at a Rainier Valley church. (Chloe Collyer for Crosscut)

But Lyles’ life wasn’t easy. Her mother died when she was a teenager, according to The Seattle Times. Previous boyfriends had been abusive, family members said.

Court records show Lyles filed for a restraining order last summer after her former partner, Franklin Camphor, who she described as the “father of my youngest children,” hit her with a baby bottle, struck her on the head and shattered the back window of her car, where all four kids had been sitting.

Lyles told the court Camphor had been violent for at least four years out of the eight years they had been together and was known to punch holes in walls, even hitting her while she was pregnant. “I feel so scared for my safety, and I just got out of the hospital from having our 6-days-old baby boy, and I had a c-section. I think he ripped my stitches open,” she wrote in her June 2nd petition for an order for protection. She ended by noting that she “didn’t see him changing.” She asked the court for help.

It wasn’t the first time Lyles asked the system for assistance.

Lyles family spokesperson Andre Taylor addresses family members during a church meeting at The Way of Holiness Church of God.
Lyles family spokesperson Andre Taylor addresses family members during a church meeting at The Way of Holiness Church of God. (Chloe Collyer for Crosscut)

Family members said Lyles had a hard time finding an affordable apartment in Seattle. She called 211, a number King County residents can call for support. In 2015, under the guidance of Catholic Community Services, Lyles was referred to Solid Ground, an antipoverty group that provides permanent housing to vulnerable populations. After being evaluated, Lyles moved into Brettler Family Place in Seattle’s Sand Point area on Nov. 4. She lived in a third-floor apartment with her four children.

Three buildings make up the Brettler Family Place complex. Seventy-four units and home to 242 people, according to Mike Buchman, communications director for Solid Ground. Two case managers work with all the residents, helping identify needs and referring them to various services, like financial-skills coaching and legal help with public benefits. Two mental health counselors are also available, but they serve both the Brettler families and residents who live in other nearby Solid Ground units. 

Like with much of the housing made available to vulnerable populations, Buchman says, Brettler Family Place’s philosophy is that “people know what they need and know how to ask for help.” Experts, however, caution that it can be difficult to evaluate whether — or when — someone is in need of more direct outreach. In addition, caseworkers traditionally work with large caseloads for little pay.

Ashley Fontaine, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Seattle, says financial hardship can help create mental health issues. “Poverty absolutely plays a role in developing mental illness,” Fontaine said. “I think historical factors play a role. Racism is trauma.” Fontaine also said it can be difficult for African Americans to find the right kind of help: Few therapists may understand what they’re going through.

Scene of a vigil at Brettler Family Place 3. (Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)
Scene of a vigil at Brettler Family Place 3 in Seattle’s Magnuson Park.
(Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

According to family members, Lyles didn’t feel safe at Brettler Family Place. Because there was drug use and fighting among the neighbors, Lyles asked to be moved to a different site. Buchman said he couldn’t comment on Lyles’ specific situation due to privacy concerns but that in the aftermath of Lyles’ death, Solid Ground plans to “undergo a thorough assessment about our services here and work to identify ways we and the care systems we engage with can provide the protection and support everyone deserves.”

Despite her complaints, court records show Lyles had received some form of mental help. In June 2016, Lyles was sent to Sound Mental Health after an altercation with her sister. A May 27, 2017 letter from Solid Ground indicates she and her four children had been meeting weekly with a child and family therapist, The Seattle Times reported.

But if some sense of normalcy was returning, it unraveled on June 5 after a domestic dispute with her former partner led Lyles to call the police. On that day less than two weeks before her death, as has been widely reported, Lyles allegedly armed herself with scissors, referred to the officers who had responded to the call as “devils,” “members of the KKK,” and spoke about wanting to “morph into a wolf.” Seattle police officers drew guns. The Seattle police report says Lyles’ family acknowledged she had undergone a “recent sudden and rapid decline in her mental health.”

“Lyles’ family is concerned for her and they have a strong desire to stabilize her mental health condition before it gets worse,” the report reads.

The incident led to Lyles’ arrest for harassment and obstruction charges. In recordings of Seattle Municipal Court hearings, public defender Ashwin Kumar can be heard objecting to how police responded. “She calls for help and she gets arrested. We think that’s certainly a big problem,” Kumar says. Kumar also says officers pulling out guns “doesn’t seem like a healthy response at all for someone who calls for help.” Although the judge is clearly concerned about Lyles’ mental stability, she recognizes that her behavior seems “like a crisis or a break” from her typical demeanor. “But the fact that she’s engaged in mental health treatment and this still happened causes me extreme concern,” the judge continued.

Family photograph of Charleena Lyles with her children.

In another court hearing, Lyles can be faintly heard answering the judge’s questions. Lyles’ representative and the judge discuss her past drug use and treatment at the behavioral health care center Valley Cities. Because Lyles was pregnant at the time, she was not on medication.

Less than two weeks later, Seattle police returned to Lyles’ apartment again. And because of the earlier incident, she had already been flagged in the system as someone who was potentially dangerous. Family members argue Officers Steven McNew and Jason Anderson, who responded the morning of June 18 to a suspected burglary call, had preconceived notions about who Lyles was. And seemed wholly unprepared for the confrontation. Seattle police shot her seven times, twice in the back, according to the family. She died at her apartment.

In interviews released after her death, the two officers described Lyles’ apartment as chaotic, with “meatloaf that might have been 3 weeks old” left half-eaten on the counter and “kids rolling around.” Lyles had allegedly armed herself with knives, warning officers to “get ready, motherfuckers.” Police officers said after shooting Lyles, they scrambled to contain the three children in the apartment at the time, including “this little baby on top of her” after she had fallen to the ground.

Relatives expressed skepticism about what, if anything, Lyles had armed herself with because, unlike in the previous episode, McNew and Anderson never asked that a weapon be dropped but simply demanded that she “get back.” They also expressed outrage that officers had not used a more non-lethal form of force, or referred her to King County Designated Mental Health professionals who could have ensured Lyles was evaluated. Both McNew and Anderson are white.

Officer Anderson has said he received training to carry a Taser but was not carrying the stun gun at the time of the shooting. According to Seattle police policy, all officers trained to carry Tasers are required to carry it on every shift.

The police investigation into the officers’ conduct is ongoing.

Meanwhile, since the shooting, family and community members have railed against the police in public forums. They’ve grieved Lyles at public vigils. On this evening inside the South End church, it was time for a pastor — Lyles’ cousin — to speak out.

Pastor Kenny Isabell
Pastor Kenny Isabell (Chloe Collyer for Crosscut)

Pastor Kenny Isabell said police shootings have caused African Americans to feel hesitant about calling the police, even when they are in need of aid.

“You’ve been doing it to black men forever but now you’re doing it to our women. You’re killing our women,” Isabell said. “I’m scared every time the phone rings … I always fear the worst now because we’re walking on egg shells.”

But regarding Lyles’ shooting death, family members were confident justice would ultimately prevail.

“We’re going to continue to remind them of what they did to Charleena and I can guarantee this family, this family here, will never stop, never,” declared family spokesman Andre Taylor, whose own brother was killed by police last year.

“We’ll see if the nation has the heart that it says it has, we’re going to see through this one here,” he said. “We’re going to see what America is made out of.”

Lyles’ funeral is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. July 10 at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.

4 ways government in Minnesota got slightly more transparent in 2017

Under state and federal law, the public has the right to inspect and have copies made of most information created by governments, in a timely fashion.

That may be what the laws say, but in reality that information isn’t always easy to get at. Officials often promise transparency, but fail to deliver on it in any meaningful way. It can still take legal action, or in the case of one MinnPost data request of Minneapolis Police, be longer than the gestation time of a human baby, before governments turn over information that, by law, is public.

So government transparency leaves much to be desired in Minnesota, even in 2017, when technology makes collecting and transmitting information easier than ever. Still, there are a few ways the government got marginally more transparent in 2017. Here are four of them.

1. The Minneapolis Police Department’s new policing dashboards

In recent months, the Minneapolis Police Department began making some data about how police officers do their jobs public, to a degree still rare among police departments.

Specifically, MPD’s released several new data dashboards that help researchers, residents and reporters better understand how officers do their jobs.

One dashboard includes information on where and why police stop citizens (and who they stop — it shows African-Americans and American Indians are stopped at a disproportionate rate, considering the share of the city’s population these groups make up).


One new dashboard from Minneapolis Police breaks down data recorded during stops along various dimensions.

Another dashboard shows information about incidents where Minneapolis police officers used force in the line of duty. It details the type of force used, demographic information about the people force was used against and action that prompted the force, among other things, showing that overall, the number of use-of-force incidents has declined in recent years. Other dashboards show information about officer-involved shootings, crime and arrests.

Dashboards don’t answer every question about policing in Minneapolis — they provide a birds-eye view of all the incidents, not a who/what/where rundown of each. But altogether the dashboards, which are updated daily, offer an unprecedented view of how cops in Minneapolis do their jobs.

Experts say the release of this data is a step toward transparency, but cautioned that it needs to serve a dual purpose: informing the public and informing the way cops do their jobs.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who took the reins of the department after Janeé Harteau resigned in July following the high-profile shooting of Justine Damond in South Minneapolis, said the data factor into decisions the department makes about things like training and discipline.

Asked whether more information would be coming out of the department, Arradondo told reporters in November, “We have held onto the people’s data for far too long in policing, and my goal is to continue to release as much of that as possible.”

2. The Minnesota Department of Health’s opioid dashboard


The health department’s dashboard breaks down
opioid deaths by type of drug involved.

Opioids killed nearly 400 Minnesotans last year, marking yet another year of increased overdose deaths despite efforts to raise awareness and reverse the long-term death-toll trend.

In the hopes of coordinating efforts at curbing opioid abuse across the state, the Minnesota Department of Health built a web portal, launched in September, that makes public information about the opioid epidemic available online in one spot.

This dashboard shows how many people died from overdoses of different types of opioid drugs, data on non-fatal overdoses, treatment admissions, hospital treatments and drugs dispensed by type.

The hope is that health care professionals, pharmacists, state and county public health officials, social service providers, law enforcement, poison control, advocates and the public can use the data to better understand patterns of deaths, overdoses, use, misuse and prescribing practices, and use the information to improve treatment and apply for grants.

“Launching a new data dashboard will consolidate our tracking efforts into one place and help us better work together to help Minnesotans learn about prevention and treatment options, and to avoid the trap of drug abuse,” Minnesota Department of Health then- Commissioner Ed Ehlinger said in a statement when the dashboard was released.

3. Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board website overhaul

If ever there was a government website in need of an overhaul, it was probably the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board’s, the website where state-level information about campaign fundraising, political action committees and lobbying is made public.

The old website looked like it was from 1997.

The CFPDB’s old website.

This year, the CFPDB formally launched its new website, which, with improved search function, makes finding information about money in politics much easier for Minnesotans.

The old website was difficult to navigate, making it sometimes difficult to quickly analyze which independent expenditure groups were spending money in which races. 

Now, you can pull up a candidate or independent expenditure group, easily filter by donors, candidates or groups, and add terms to narrow the scope of the search. You can even download the data.

This is a nice improvement, though it doesn’t change the fact that Minnesota has a relatively weak campaign finance accountability system, Hamline University professor David Schultz told Minnesota Lawyer. Over the years, he said, CFPDB has lost power as the Legislature has failed to act on its recommendations, authorize enough funding and has actually reduced the board’s oversight abilities in statute. (And while we’re at it, why not also note that the Minnesota Legislature is exempt from the state’s Data Practices Act.)

It’s also important to note that the state CFPDB website doesn’t cover local election finance, the record keeping for which varies by locality and can be very hard to systematically analyze. Even in Hennepin County, the most populous county in the state, campaign finance data is trapped in PDFs, which can’t be easily loaded into software for analy†sis.

4. Public subsidy disclosures, now federally mandated for state and local governments

State and local governments spend a lot of money on economic development subsidies to try to bring businesses and other attractions within their borders — think U.S. Bank Stadium, the Destination Medical Center in Rochester and the Mall of America. Putting a finger on just how much taxpayer money is used for economic development subsidies is notoriously difficult, with different rules about reporting these types of things in different states.

But thanks to a new rule from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, governments are now required to disclose some information about subsidies in financial reports. Specifically, governments must disclose tax abatements, or agreements that lower the amount of taxes the governments can collect. The rule took effect in time for the information to be included on financial reports issued in 2017.

Because of this new disclosure rule (known as GASB statement 77), we can look up, say, St. Paul’s tax abatements and find that the city lists tax increment financing deals for 38 projects — Carlton Lofts, the Schmidt Brewery and the Cossetta’s among them — going back to 1999.

City of St. Paul

The city of St. Paul lists a number of projects financed through Tax Increment Financing, a kind of subsidy, in its comprehensive annual financial report.

GASB statement 77 disclosures for St. Paul are available in the city’s annual financial report thanks to a new Governmental Accounting Standards Board rule.

Better luck next year?

So, those are four ways it became easier to know more about what’s going on in various layers of government over the past year. Obviously, we at MinnPost have ideas about how the government could become more transparent (faster fulfillments of data requests and no more PDF campaign finance reports, please, would be a good start).

So go forth, spend your holidays on an eggnog-fueled binge of public information. Become a better-informed voter, hold your public officials accountable, and pray for more government transparency next year.

Milledgeville’s first African American female mayor to be sworn in Friday

MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – It’s a story that’s inspiring people across not only Middle Georgia but the nation. A woman of color and a new comer to politics, Mayor-Elect Mary Parham Copelan has changed the course of history in her own home town. But she says the real work is only just beginning.

“First black female mayor in our 200 year history to ever be elected to this office,” said Mayor-Elect Mary Parham Copelan.

It was a race that changed everything we knew about race in Milledgeville.

“This is my first time ever running for an office and to have won such a huge race even by small margin is a huge accomplishment,” Copelan told 41NBC.

But even as the city’s first ever woman of color to hold office, Copelan says she’s a woman of the people–all people.

“Being that I am female, being that I am a mother, being that I am a grandmother, I can relate to everybody on every level on all the different walks of life that I’ve worked in, and it just brings so much joy to be able to reach back and give back,” she said.

A hometown girl turned elected official, Copelan grew up in Milledgeville.

“I’ve seen Milledgeville through many dark times but yet some progressive times, and that’s what inspired me to see the loss of so many jobs here in our city,” she said.

Now 51 years later, and less than 24 hours away from officially becoming the city’s new mayor, she’s ready to face the city’s biggest issues head on.

“One of the top issues that we will be focusing on is the crime here, and I am one of the ones who likes to reach people where they are. I believe everyone here in this city has a common goal and that’s to see that the safety and the welfare of this city come back up to where it used to be,” Copelan added.

She’ll pick up where her predecessor Mayor Gary Thrower left off.

“I’ve been meeting with different department heads. I’ve been meeting with different leaders that have been prepping me,” she said.

With the help of a seasoned city council, she’ll take the next four years to learn and grow along with the city she believes has so much potential.

The swearing in ceremony tomorrow will be held at the steps of city hall at 4:00 pm. They’re encouraging people from all over to join the city of Milledgville in welcoming its newest leader.

For those interested in meeting and talking with Mayor Elect Copelan she’ll hold her official celebration tomorrow after the ceremony at Georgia Military College’s Old Governor’s Mansion on the second floor.