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Job Market For College Graduates Gains, But Not To Pre-Recession Levels

By Robert Gebelhoff, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (TNS)

MILWAUKEE — For Jack Lawinger, a senior studying engineering at Marquette University, the leap from graduation to his career will be an easy one.

He already has a job lined up at Accenture, an international consulting and technology services company, where he will be doing technical work ranging from mechanical engineering to computer software.

“It takes a little bit of the pressure off for senior year,” Lawinger said. “There’s a little bit of relief, but I’m mostly excited.”

Lawinger and his friends in the engineering program are part of a group of college graduates expected to be in high demand leaving college, and they are also part of a graduating class entering an economy with relatively positive hiring outlooks.

As the economy continues to grow, surveys show employers will be looking at new degree holders to fill positions. Schools are also reporting an increase in recruiting on campuses this year.

“The jobs are everywhere,” said Joanna Patterson, director of career education at Alverno College in Milwaukee. “We need to send students the message that if they do what they need to, something is going to happen.”

The National Association for Colleges and Employers said U.S. employers are planning to hire 9.6 percent more college graduates this year than they did last year. The group also reported that nearly two-thirds of employers were planning to increase starting salaries for bachelor’s degree recipients, which was an average of $48,700 for the Class of 2014.

“Most of the people I’m graduating with have full-time jobs or had opportunities,” said James Ward, a senior at Marquette who has a job lined up at the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Still, the optimism is tempered by the fact that job opportunities for graduates today are nowhere near pre-recession levels. Ward, whose degree in finance means he is entering a field with growing demand from employers, said his friends graduating with humanities degrees still are having difficulty finding jobs.

“For some, the career path is not as clear-cut,” Ward said. “A lot of people still can’t get jobs without going to grad school.”

Before 2009, the unemployment rate was around 5.5 percent for new bachelor’s degree holders ages 21 to 24. That number nearly doubled in 2010 and fell to around 8 percent for last year’s graduates. The average job search for students still is expected to take six months or more.

“The economy has a long way left to go,” said Rebekah Pryor Pare, director of the Career Initiative in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s College of Letters and Science.

So despite recent improvements in labor markets, the growth hasn’t yet been broad enough or strong enough to reverse the trends contributing to the “boomerang generation” of graduates, who are ending up back where they started before heading off to college.

Pare said one in five of her school’s students is moving back home with parents, often because paying off student debt is too costly for students living on their own. “Parents are helping out students a lot more now,” she said. “This is a real challenge for (families).”

Pare attributed the tough labor market to rapid changes in technology and a shift to a global market, jolting employers’ demands for skills in the college-educated workforce.

The National Association for Colleges and Employers said the most heavily sought graduates will have degrees in finance, accounting and computer science.

(c)2015 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

AFP Photo/Justin Sullivan

Judge Lifts Federal Oversight Of Detroit Police

By Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — A federal judge Monday morning ended an 11-year-old agreement that kept a federal monitor watching over the Detroit Police Department.

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn accepted the request filed jointly by the city and the U.S. Justice Department to end the federal oversight, entering an 18-month transitional period.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who was appointed July 2013, said after the court hearing that it’s a “great day” for the department, he applauds the work of his police, and will continue making improvements.

The consent agreement was started in 2003 after the Justice Department said it found constitutional violations. Between 1995 and 2000, police killed nearly 50 people, including six people who were unarmed and shot in the back. Nineteen people died while in custody, according to the Associated Press.

On Monday, Melvin Butch Hollowell, Detroit’s corporation counsel, told Cohn that the city has substantially improved accountability, with an “early warning system” that flags an officer who’s involved in a police chase or has a complaint filed, among other criteria.

“This is a different police department,” Hollowell said. “This police department has worked very hard to get where it is today.”

But there was at least one person in the courtroom today opposing Cohn’s decision.

“They can smile now, but the reality is we’re going to be in the streets,” said Ron Scott with the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality. “We’re going to be organizing more vociferously.”

Scott said Cohn should have opened the floor to objectors. He said police are “just playing with the numbers” when they say shootings are down. There are still problems with police using force against citizens, such as the arrest of an 11-year-old boy earlier this year, he said.

He also said the large-scale police raids in recent months are “militaristic,” raising concerns for citizens’ rights.

Craig told the Free Press that the nine raids he’s overseen have been welcomed by the community, and they’ve resulted in no complaints and no excessive force.

“What that shows is we are indeed a constitutional police agency,” he said.

Photo: ifmuth via Flickr

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8-Year-Old Boy Shot, Killed In Detroit Bedroom

By Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press

Police say an 8-year-old boy has died after being shot in his bedroom in Detroit.

One of several bullets fired from outside went through a wall about 1 a.m. Wednesday, hitting Jakari Pearson. He was taken to a hospital and died.

Bullet holes are visible in the bricks and a window of an upstairs bedroom in the rear of the townhome.

Neighbors said this is the first time they can remember a child being killed in the neighborhood, but gunshots aren’t unusual.

No arrests were immediately made, but Detroit police were speaking with a “person of interest” in the case, Detroit Police Officer Adam Madera told the Associated Press.

Beatrice Spears, 27, has three children, ages 10, 7, and 3. The boy who was killed was an “innocent bystander,” she said, adding that he would often play with her children.

“It’s just such a tragedy,” Spears said. “I’m not gonna be able to sleep.”

The boy’s family members at a nearby townhome declined to speak with a reporter. At one point, a man identified as his father charged nearby reporters, yelling as another man pulled him back. Outside the shooting scene, what appears to be a sheet or pajamas with superheroes on it was left on the townhome’s stoop. Spears brought a stuffed animal and placed it at the top of the steps. Neighbors and passers-by added to the makeshift memorial with stuffed bears, dogs, and other toy animals. Propped on the toys were handwritten cardboard signs that read: “CHILDREN ARE THE FUTURE!” ”GIVE OUR CHILDREN A CHANCE,” and “UNITED WE STAND … STOP THE VIOLENCE!!!!”

Spears said a candlelight vigil for the boy is being planned. She and other neighbors said the area has become less safe since a nearby recreation center has closed.

Next-door neighbor Tenesha Higgins said there were “five or six” very loud booms — something she said is common in the complex.

“I was just laying down to sleep,” said Higgins, 30. “I heard the gunshots. It sounded like it was literally in front of the house. I waited, then I heard screaming and police sirens.

“I opened the door and the boy was laying in the street,” she said, adding it appeared the mother’s boyfriend was trying to rush him to the hospital.

“He was a good boy,” Higgins said. “He liked to play baseball.”

Photo: ifmuth via Flickr

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Detroit Police Arrest 9 People At Water Protest

By Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Detroit police arrested nine protesters who were blocking a facilities entrance Friday afternoon that’s used by city contractors who’ve been shutting off water to delinquent customers.

Plastic restraints were used to handcuff the five men and four women who were loaded into a Detroit police bus at about 1:30 p.m. Another man, in a wheelchair, was lifted by officers into a van.

The protesters had been at the Transfer and Processing Facility used by Homrich on East Grand Boulevard since about 6:30 a.m. and were warned multiple times to clear the entrance. A line of cars belonging to contractors extended up a nearby hill as they waited for the protesters to leave.

The people who were arrested appeared calm and didn’t put up a fight as they were loaded onto the bus. Police Commander Elvin Barren said they likely will be released later today.

About 30 protesters were at the scene when the arrests started. They sang, “Water is a human right, we shall not be moved,” as the ones blocking the entrance were loaded into the bus.

Once the entrance was clear, several cars streamed in and several trucks streamed out.

The protesters picked up their signs, snacks, and noisemakers and left the scene within a half-hour of the arrests.

Police at the scene said that blocking the entrance was not only preventing water shut-offs, it was keeping taps from getting turned back on for people who paid up on overdue bills.

The shut-offs have attracted national attention as they’ve been ramped up by the bankrupt city working to recoup about $90 million owed for water use, according to previous reports.

Photo: ifmuth via Flickr

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6-Month Sentence For Motorist’s Final Attacker Angers Prosecutor

By Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — A prosecutor strongly opposed a judge’s decision Thursday to give a lighter sentence to another participant in the severe beating of Steve Utash, 54.

Latrez Cummings, 19, misled the judge about his school enrollment status, is reported to be a foot soldier for a gang, and claimed a back injury kept him out of work before he violently attacked Utash, said Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey.

“There is nothing in this report (that is) favorable to this young man,” Lindsey said of a report that determined sentencing guidelines, adding that nothing indicates he should get leniency.

Third Judicial Circuit Judge James Callahan sent Cummings to jail for six months as part of a three-year intensive probation sentence.
Of the four men who admitted to assaulting Utash and took plea deals, two received sentences drawing outspoken disapproval from Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. Earlier this week, the prosecutor’s office announced it was filing a motion for a re-sentence after James Deontae Davis, 24, was given a year as part of a five-year probation sentence.

Utash of Clinton Township, Mich., is still recovering from severe head injuries suffered when he was knocked off his feet and pummeled after the pickup truck he was driving hit a 10-year-old boy who stepped off a curb into traffic. Relatives said he has brain damage that has impaired his ability to drive, work, and make financial decisions.

Callahan said Cummings’ sentence was appropriate. At one point, he asked Cummings about his father, and the teen replied that he doesn’t know him.

“That’s what you have needed in your life is a father,” Callahan said, adding that he needed discipline, “somebody to beat the hell out of you when you made a mistake …”

“We’ve all been 19 years of age,” Callahan said in response to Lindsey’s objections.

An exchange between the judge and prosecutor became heated, as Lindsey argued that Cummings’ personal life is no excuse for the severe beating.

Cummings was sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Training Act, meaning he may eventually get the felony assault wiped from his permanent record.

Based on the sentencing guidelines Callahan approved, and with which Lindsey “strenuously and vehemently” objected, Cummings could have received five to 23 months of incarceration.

The other three defendants received their sentences last week, and Callahan postponed Cummings’ sentence to give the attorneys time to find whether claims that he was enrolled in school online were accurate.

They weren’t, Callahan said Thursday.

“If someone lies to me, I have very little if any respect for them,” he said.

Cummings on Thursday said he’d tried to enroll, but the classes were full. Instead, he said he was taking care of his daughter.

He pleaded guilty to the same assault charge as the three other adults accused in the case, and they received sentences last week ranging from probation to more than six years in prison. All of them admitted to hitting or kicking the defenseless Clinton Township man at least once or twice.

The four adults and one juvenile were the only people charged since the beating, which Lindsey said involved up to 20 assailants near the corner of Morang and Balfour on Detroit’s east side. She said only three witnesses came forward to help with the investigation, and that limited the strength of the case.

AFP Photo / Bill Pugliano

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1 Defendant In Beating Of Motorist Gets A Year In Jail

By Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — One of four Detroit men who admitted to taking part in the April beating of Steve Utash received a sentence below the legal guidelines Thursday, despite the prosecutor’s objection.

James Deontae Davis, 24, was given a year in jail or work release with five years of probation after an “honest expression of remorse and apologies,” said Wayne County Circuit Judge James Callahan. A presentencing report set guidelines from 19 months to more than three years in prison.

Davis and Latrez Cummings, 19, were to be the last two people sentenced in the brutal beating that left Utash, 54, in a coma for 10 days last April. Callahan delayed Cummings’ sentencing to July 17 as the lawyers try to confirm whether he was, as he claims, enrolled in school remotely at the time of the April 2 beating.

Utash continues to recover from severe head injuries, suffered when he was knocked off his feet and pummeled after he hit a 10-year-old boy who stepped off a curb in front of his truck.
Relatives said he has brain damage resulting from the beating by up to 20 people.

Two of Utash’s family members were in court today but didn’t speak. They could be seen shaking their heads as the Davis sentencing proceeded.

“I’d be upset if I was them, too,” Jason Malkowicz, Davis’ attorney, said afterward. “But I think the judge did what he had to do, and he did the right thing. I think he was fair.”

On Monday, the victim’s relatives gave highly emotional statements.

Davis named Utash and his family members, as well as the city of Detroit, in his apologies.

“I know the city’s already got a bad name, and I know that incident that took place, that I joined in, didn’t make the city look any better,” he said. “I don’t want my whole life to be judged on that one moment.”

He said he wants to go to school and get a job.

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey made clear her objection to the sentence and might appeal. But Malkowicz said afterward that because there was some dispute to the guidelines, it’s possible an appeals court could give Davis a sentence of even less time than he was given.

Photo: ifmuth via Flickr

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Detroit Teacher Who Broke Up Fight With Broom Gets Her Job Back

By Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — A Detroit high school teacher fired after using a broom to break up a vicious fight in a classroom is getting back her job with retroactive pay, school district officials announced Tuesday.

Tiffani Eaton was fired May 1, one day after the incident at Pershing High School, where the fight erupted between two boys.

She will have the option of returning to the school or another school in the district of her choosing, according to the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan.

Eaton recently was represented by Abood Law Firm as it worked to get her termination reversed. Attorney Jeffrey Lance Abood issued a statement Tuesday morning saying that they appreciate the EAA acknowledging “that their previous action was wrong,” and they’re working with the school district to resolve the matter before Eaton will make a comment.

Principal Gregory King had said in an emailed statement that the firing seemed illegal and “basic investigation procedures usually followed were not undertaken.”

He also said he has asked repeatedly for safety-committee meetings and for administrators to address insufficient security at the school, which is guarded at the entrance with metal detectors.

Present and former students of the school had a mixed reaction to Eaton’s firing, with some saying she didn’t have any better options but others saying she went too far by striking a student.

In a video obtained by Fox 2, one boy appears to be pummeling another in the head when Eaton steps in to break up the fight.

The Education Achievement Authority is a statewide body that takes over failing schools. It was responsible for the firing and reinstatement.