A $723,000 federal grant doesn’t just pay for public outreach. Among other things, Clark County has conducted more than 500 free energy inspections of homes with forced-air furnaces. More than 80 percent of homes have qualified for repair incentives.For more information, go to Planet Clark and click on “duct testing.” Or call Steve Alexander at 360-397-2375 ext. 4752.One of the first questions Mike Selig posed Tuesday prompted approximately 40 hands to shoot up into the air: “Has anyone heard anyone in their family complain about gas prices?”Selig nodded.“We have a big energy challenge in our country,” Selig, Clark County’s energy efficiency program coordinator, told two classes of fifth-graders at Columbia Valley Elementary School in east Vancouver.And for the next 30 minutes, “we’re going to do an energy investigation,” Selig said, before starting into a presentation that covered energy basics — what is it, where it comes from and why it’s important to conserve it.
Cherokee Nation, the sovereign government of the tribal Cherokee people in Oklahoma, has increased the minimum wage for tribe employees from $9.50 (£7.83) an hour to $11 (£9.07) an hour.The wage increase, announced in August 2019 by Cherokee Nation’s principal chief-elect Chuck Hoskin Jr, will be effective from 1 October 2019; funding for the pay rises will form part of the proposed 2020 fiscal budget, subject to approval by the Council of the Cherokee Nation later this month.The pay increase is expected to benefit 415 government employees who currently earn less than $11 an hour; this includes 99 staff members who receive the existing base pay of $9.50 an hour. These full-time employees will see their minimum pay improve by $3,120 (£2,571.68) a year.The improvements are also predicted to positively impact around 1,382 government employees who earn between $11 an hour and $15 (£12.36) an hour.The pay increases, which are higher than the local federal minimum wage of $7.25 (£5.98) an hour, form part of Cherokee Nation’s wider benefits package. This includes health, dental and life insurance, a 401k matching pension plan, paid holiday and sick leave, an educational reimbursement scheme and a holiday bonus.Hoskin said: “Our 3,850 Cherokee Nation employees are the backbone of our government. Raising the minimum wage is going to be life-changing for them and their families, at a time when the costs of goods and services continues to rise.“For months, I have listened to the concerns of our tribal employees and sought guidance from the Council of the Cherokee Nation. I promised them I would put together a plan that is both fiscally responsible and allows employees to rest easier knowing they will be able to better make ends meet.“I’m proud this will be one of my first acts as principal chief. This pay increase is absolutely the right thing to do and this is the right time to do it.”Hoskin announced the pay rise at the WW Hastings outpatient health facility in Tahlequah.Bryan Warner, deputy chief-elect at Cherokee Nation, added: “Taking care of Cherokee Nation employees and their families is a responsibility we do not take lightly. These women and men are on the front lines of providing vital services to the Cherokee people.“When we pay employees a competitive wage, they not only benefit by having more money to pay bills and to put into savings, but the Cherokee Nation as a whole benefits because our quality of life is improved.”
Email Jenny Lewis Raises Money For Women’s Center jenny-lewis-raises-money-womens-center-during-live-album-listening-party Jenny Lewis Raises Money For Women’s Center During Live Album Listening Party News Facebook The singer/songwriter’s forthcoming album, On The Line, is set to be released on March 22Jennifer VelezGRAMMYs Mar 5, 2019 – 2:03 pm Singer/songwriter and former Rilo Kilo performer Jenny Lewis raised a substantial amount of money for a Los Angeles Women’s Center during a live event celebrating her forthcoming album, On The Line, which is set to be released on March 22.The On The Line Online live streaming event on March 3, described as a live listening party, variety show and fundraiser, raised over $10,000 for the LA Downtown Women’s Center, according to a statement. The event was streamed on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and featured St. Vincent, King Tuff, as well as comedians Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Leggero and actor David Arquette, among others. The party was hosted by Lewis and comedian Tim Heidecker. Twitter RELATED: Jenny Lewis To Return After Four Years With New Album & Tour in 2019During the show, fans were treated to sneak peeks of On The Line, plus a space flute verson of Lewis’ 2014 single “Just One Of The Guys,” performed by King Tuff. If a fan decided to donate, they were permitted to call in with questions for Lewis.”Thank you SO much jennydianelewis and friends for including us as part of your album launch. And thank you for all who donated.” The Downtown Women’s Center tweeted. “All these proceeds go towards women finding saftey [sic], housing, and pathways to personal stability! “Those who missed out can still watch what went down during the three-hour event. Lewis announced her album release and back in December along with news of a headlining tour in March. For more information on the album, visit Lewis’ website. Behind The Board: Lynne Earls Shares How Working With K.D. Lang & Others Taught Her Instinctual Music-MakingRead more
Anchorage social service agencies are coordinating efforts to provide safe shelter for people experiencing homelessness, and strategies are already in place to deal with the upcoming extreme cold spell.“A lot of great partnership is happening this winter when it comes to insuring that men and women experiencing homelessness have some where to go,” said Lisa Caldeira, director of the Brother Francis Shelter in Anchorage. She said the 240-bed facility and its 20-person overflow shelter have been at or near capacity much of this winter. When that happens, BFS staff coordinate with other shelters to find beds. This year, the Downtown Soup Kitchen Hope Center has space for 50 women. It previously only housed people participating in their programs. For the first time ever, Bean’s Cafe is open 24 hours a day and their staff are providing overnight shelter for 50 men. Many of the overnight guests are participants in Bean’s new workforce development program. But Bean’s Executive Director Lisa Sauder said they are also making space for other overflow and for men who have mental health issues that make it hard for them to stay in larger, louder shelters.“We’ve had success getting people to come in and stay with us that in the past were unwilling to come into shelter,” she said.In previous years Bean’s Cafe was used as overflow for 124 people from Brother Francis Shelter. That changed after an incident last year which caused the soup kitchen to close for two weeks. An injured man bled on the floor, and the blood was neither correctly cleaned up nor reported properly. Covenant House, Anchorage’s only shelter for young people under 18, is also at or near capacity and has been since the summer. Executive Director Alison Kear said they are housing close to 60 young people every night and helping their older clients connect with other shelters instead.Caldeira said this year’s total bed capacity across the different organizations is similar to previous winters.
Budget passenger carrier SpiceJet on Friday said it has embarked upon a major fleet and flight expansion programme for the upcoming winter season.It said it will induct six new aircraft within 30 days, calling the move “a first of its kind initiative in the history of Indian aviation”.Presently, the airline has in its next generation fleet 20 Boeing 737s and 1 Airbus A319 aircraft along with 14 Bombardier Q-400 aircraft.According to the airline, the fresh induction was part of a comprehensive plan to meet the winter demand.SpiceJet also unveiled a new winter schedule, raising a total daily flight operations to 291 from the current 250, adding 10 new sectors, 30 new frequencies and 22 connecting flights.”We have been speedily moving on the growth path by consistently adding new flights to enhance our overall network,” said Shilpa Bhatia, senior vice president and head of sales and distribution, SpiceJet.”With the new network schedule, we are offering better timings, increased frequencies. With this enhancement we have significantly growing our capacity by 16 percent.”SpiceJet said the newly added sectors in the winter schedule effective from 25 October were Ahmedabad-Goa, Mumbai-Varanasi and Varanasi-Hyderabad. The flights for Khozhikode-Dubai and Amritsar-Dubai are to start from 15 November. Under the winter schedule, the airline has reinforced its frequencies on multiple routes such as Mumbai-Chennai, Delhi-Chennai, Goa-Mumbai, Delhi-Kolkata, Kolkata-Agartala, Mumbai-Kochi, Hyderabad-Mumbai and Chennai-Madurai, among others.
The instant replay reversal of Steeler tight end Jesse James’ apparent game-winning touchdown catch against the Patriots probably caused more than one remote control to fly through a TV in the Pittsburgh area.It’s the latest edition of the league definition of a catch, conflicting with what peoples’ eyes tell them is a catch. In a video that’s certain to only stoke the burning rage in the Steel City this morning, the NFL released its official explanation for why the call was reversed.The voice you hear that sounds like pre-flight safety instructions is NFL VP of Officiating Al Riveron, and don’t watch this near any Steeler co-workers, it’s only going to end in a work safety issue.Rules are rules.The video is an explanation from @NFL SVP of Officiating Al Riveron on the reversal at the end of the #NEvsPIT game. pic.twitter.com/hm5EeoZTER— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) December 18, 2017
August 8, 2017 This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Within the next 20 years, you could be traveling for business or a vacation via a pilotless airplane. Scary, right? Well, you’re not the only one who thinks so. In fact, most people say they wouldn’t feel comfortable getting on an automated airplane.Related: 25 Things You Need to Know to Happily Travel the WorldIn a recent survey, financial services firm UBS asked 8,000 people how they would feel about pilotless flights. Only 17 percent said they would board plane flown by AI. More people ages 25 to 35 were willing to hop on board an automated aircraft. Those older than 45 were much more resistant to the idea. Overall, 54 percent said they were unlikely to take a pilotless flight.It’s no surprise that one of people’s biggest fears of pilotless flights is safety. However, the report found that 70 to 80 percent of plane accidents are caused by human error, so pilotless flights could actually make air travel more secure. That doesn’t mean pilots are out of the picture altogether though, but it would only reduce the number of crew members needed in the cockpit.Related: Why Travel Should Be a Top Priority for Every Entrepreneur”Automation in the cockpit is not a new thing — it already supports operations. However, every single day pilots have to intervene when the automatics don’t do what they’re supposed to. Computers can fail, and often do, and someone is still going to be needed to work that computer,” Steve Landells, the British Airline Pilots Association’s flight safety specialist, told BBC.Pilotless planes would also save airlines billions of dollars every year by reducing costs related to fuel and pilot training. Ultimately, these reduced costs might result in reduced fares for passengers too. Overall, “the average percentage of total cost and average benefit that could be passed onto passengers in price reduction for the U.S. airlines is 11 percent,” the study says. So would a cheaper plane ticket convince you to step on board a pilotless airplane?Boeing plans to begin testing automated aircrafts as soon as 2018. Analysts of the study predict the transition to pilotless planes will begin occurring over the next few years, starting with cargo planes. Commercial flights are predicted to be the last to go pilotless.Related: 5 Ways to De-Stress Your Business Travel”Clearly a seven-hour flight carrying 200 to 300 people would be the last part of the evolution,” UBS’s head of business services Jarrod Castle told BBC, “but we also feel that machines can gradually take over and then reduce the number of pilots in the cockpit from two to one over time.” 3 min read Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now Enroll Now for Free
Tags: Karisma Hotels & Resorts, TravelBrands Share Travelweek Group Posted by MIAMI — Karisma Hotels & Resorts has partnered with TravelBrands, naming the company as its Karisma Preferred Partner for the month of November for the Canadian market.Karisma picks a different tour operator partner from Canada and the U.S. each month, offering a variety of special activities to drive motivation while providing training on Karisma Hotels & Resorts and the Gourmet Inclusive Experience. Benefits include training support, sales incentives and assistance, weekly contests, web and social media exposure.The training, which takes place prior to the start of the month, focuses on reservations, groups, and sales with the intention of providing a better understanding of Karisma Hotels & Resorts’ differentiators, including the Gourmet Inclusive Experience. Incentives can include complimentary stays and the chance to enter to win a grand prize giveaway.With November’s promotion, TravelBrands clients will receive savings up to 44% off plus up to $1,250 in resort credits. Resort credits can be used towards services such as couples’ sky massages or candlelight dinners.More news: Flight Centre Travel Group takes full ownership of Quebec-based agencyThese offers are available for clients when booking by Nov. 30, 2017 for travel from Nov. 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018. The promotion is available for new bookings with a minimum stay of three nights and valid at El Dorado Spa Resorts, Azul Beach Resort Riviera Maya and Generations Riviera Maya. The deal is also valid for both group and FIT bookings.Karisma Hotels & Resorts also offers its Preferred Partners exposure during the designated month, including a spotlight on Karisma’s travel agent portal. TravelBrands tapped as Karisma’s Preferred Partner for November Friday, November 3, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>
Travelweek Group Share MIAMI — Barceló Hotel Group has received 33 nominations for 25 of its hotels in Europe and Latin America for the upcoming World Travel Awards – the most nominations for any hotel chain.Barceló Hotel Group as a whole has also been nominated for ‘Best Hotel Chain in Mexico and Central America’.The winners will be announced on June 30, at the European WTA Awards Ceremony in Athens, Greece, and again on September 15 when the Latin American and Ecuadorian awards will be announced.The 11 nominated hotels in Latin America include the El Embajador, a Royal Hideaway Hotel, which recently marked its 62nd anniversary with the completion of a US$40 million renovation.Barceló San José in Costa Rica was nominated in Mexico and Central America’s ‘Leading Airport Hotels’ category. Occidental Cozumel is up for the distinction of ‘Mexico and Central America’s Leading All-Inclusive Resort.’ Occidental at Xcaret Destination in Mexico has been honoured with a nomination in the ‘Mexico & Central America’s Leading Conference Hotel’ category.More news: Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaThe nominated hotels in Europe include the recently opened Royal Hideaway Corales Resort (Costa Adeja, Tenerife). La Bobadilla, a Royal Hideaway Hotel in Granada has been nominated in the category of ‘Best Ecological Hotel in Europe.’ The Royal Hideaway Sancti Petri (Cádiz) is the running for the ‘Best Beach Resort in Europe and Spain.’The Barceló Raval (Barcelona) and Barceló Torre de Madrid hotels have both been nominated in the ‘Best Design Hotel in Europe’ category. Posted by Wednesday, April 18, 2018 Tags: Barceló Hotel Group Barceló Hotel Group gets 33 nominations ahead of 2018 World Travel Awards << Previous PostNext Post >>
Costa Rica’s public health care program for terminally ill patients is the second best in Latin America according to theQuality of Death Index 2015, an evaluation of the quality of palliative care in 80 countries. The Economist Intelligence Unit presented the study Wednesday.The country ranked 29th in the global index, which is based on research and interviews with over 120 palliative care experts from across the world.The 2015 Index evaluated local programs using 20 quantitative and qualitative indicators grouped into five categories: palliative and healthcare environment, human resources, the affordability of care, the quality of care and the level of community engagement.Costa Rica earned 57.3 out of 100 possible points, only surpassed in the region by Chile’s 58.6 points. Panama ranked third in Latin America with 53.6 points, followed by Argentina with 52.5 and Cuba with 46.6 points. The U.S. and Canada top the Americas’ ranking.The worst Latin American countries for end-of-life care were the Dominican Republic (17.2), Guatemala (20.9) and Colombia (26.7). These countries ranked at the bottom largely because of their lack of public policies granting access to healthcare services to improve the quality of life of terminally ill patients, “mainly due to limitations in staff and basic infrastructure,” the investigation concluded.The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Belgium ranked as the countries offering the best care programs for terminally ill patients. The report highlighted the countries’ “strong and effectively implemented national palliative care policy framework and their high levels of public spending on health care services.”Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Bangladesh and Iraq ranked at the bottom of the global index.Costa Rica’s palliative care programsPalliative care in Costa Rica began in 1990 with the opening at the National Children’s Hospital of a pediatric palliative care unit — the first of its kind in Latin America. At the time, the project was led by Lisbeth Quesada Tristán, a hospital physician who later served as the country’s Ombudswoman from 2005-2009.Calderón Guardia Hospital launched a palliative care program in 1991 for adults, which led to the creation in 1994 of the country’s Pain and Palliative Care Clinic, currently operating at the San Juan de Dios Hospital in downtown San José.See the full Quality of Death Index 2015: Related posts:Social Security System launches anti-influenza vaccination campaign No free dental checkups for self-employed workers who owe the Caja, Sala IV rules Mandatory prices for medical procedures rankle public, politicians Number of obese Ticos has almost quadrupled in four decades Facebook Comments
As globalCARS prepares to celebrate 20 years of providing Australians with self-drive holidays, it has released some special prices, tax-free benefits and free lease days available to anyone who has leased or rented a vehicle with them since 1999.The Loyalty Bonus Rewards for repeat customers is in addition to globalCARS’ leasing deals with all three European leasing brands – Citroen, Renault and Peugeot.For bookings made by 31 March 2018, lease rates start from a low $1399 for a 31 day lease of a current model Citroen, from $1499 for 28 days with Renault and from $1599 for 31 days for Peugeot. With extra day rates reducing over time, the longer the lease, the cheaper the per day cost.Other globalCARS bonuses include up to 13 free days, discounted pick-up/drop-off fees which can save hundreds of dollars, and full insurance with no excess, unlimited kilometres and road-side assistance.All lease vehicles can be driven throughout the United Kingdom, western Europe, Scandinavia, the Baltic countries and many eastern European regions. driveEuropeGlobalCars
January 2, 2004UNIT 10 LIGHTSCOOP: Windows were installed in the studio appartment in the East Crescent Unit 10 lightscoop. [Photo & Text: sa] The approach to the appartment was finished in wood. [Photo & Text: sa] Interior work is in progress. A beautifull view to the east and south will delight the upcoming occupant. [Photo & Text: sa]
23Oct Rendon receives Hispanic/Latino award State Rep. Bruce Rendon and Marylou Olivarez Mason, HLCOM executive director.State Rep. Bruce Rendon has earned the 2014 Hispanic Legislator of the Year Award from the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan (HLCOM).“I am honored to receive this award,” said Rendon, R-Lake City. “I am happy to help ensure that Michigan’s Hispanic and Latino population is recognized as an integral part of our state’s historic legacy. Our ongoing contributions make the Great Lakes State diverse and culturally rich, where all families have the opportunity to thrive and succeed.”Rendon sponsored House Resolution 409 of 2014 to designate Sept. 15-Oct. 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month in the state of Michigan.“Michigan is home to vibrant Hispanic/Latino communities, and those communities are producing world-class leaders for today and tomorrow,” said HLCOM Executive Director Marylou Olivarez Mason. “It is important that we recognize these talented individuals who are working to improve life for their neighbors, their communities and for all Michigan citizens.”The 15-member Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan was created in 1975 to represent one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the state for the purpose of developing a unified policy and plan of action to serve the needs of Hispanic people in Michigan. The board advises and makes recommendations to the governor, the Legislature and other offices on state programs, priorities and concerns for Hispanics.### Categories: Rendon News,Rendon Photos
08Jan Rep. Roberts finishes 2015 with 100% voting record At the conclusion of 2015, state Rep. Brett Roberts is proudly announcing a perfect voting record for the year.“It was a very humbling feeling when our community sent me to Lansing to make sure their voices are heard,” said Rep. Roberts, R-Eaton Township. “They expect the best from me, and I’m honored to deliver on my promises to be here for them.”In addition to the 504 roll-call votes cast in the state House in 2015, Rep. Roberts serves as a member of the House Committees on Agriculture, Energy Policy, Workforce and Talent Development, and as vice chair of the House Committee on Regulatory Reform.Rep. Roberts said that his legislative efforts have been dedicated to introducing sensible policy, as well as maintaining a perfect voting record. In 2015, Rep. Roberts introduced nine pieces of legislation – including a bill signed into law by the governor to more clearly define firearms.“I’ve worked hard to ensure that Michigan sees reforms that make sense and move the state forward at the end of the day,” Rep. Roberts said. “As we begin 2016, I have no doubt that this mindset will continue for myself and fellow lawmakers.”Residents with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact Rep. Roberts’ office by phone at 517-373-1775 or by email at BrettRoberts@house.mi.gov.### Categories: News,Roberts News
State Rep. Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, today announced the schedule for his upcoming May office hours.“I look forward to the opportunity to meet with residents face-to-face and hear about their concerns for the district and the state as a whole,” said the first-term lawmaker.Residents are welcome to join Rep. Barrett at the following times and locations:Friday, May 13 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at Mike’s Village Restaurant, 115 Bridge St. in DimondaleFriday, May 27 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at Swede’s, 89 W. Grand Ledge Highway in MullikenResidents who are unable to attend, but would still like to voice concerns or ideas, are encouraged to contact Rep. Barrett’s office by phone at (517) 373-0853 or by email at TomBarrett@house.mi.gov.### Categories: Barrett News 05May Rep. Barrett announces May office hour schedule
Categories: Kelly News,News State Rep. Tim Kelly is pleased to see the progress made during the current legislative session, especially the key issues noted in the 2017-18 Action Plan.“We emphasized during the House Republican Action Plan’s announcement in February that we are focused on common-sense issues to help the people of Michigan,” said Kelly, who chaired the Policy Development Committee. “Putting more money in classrooms helps every family. Investing more in our water and sewer systems helps every home. Expanding our career and jobs training programs helps every worker.“We are continuing to move Michigan forward.”The Action Plan, titled “The Best Way Forward,” emphasized five principles geared toward better spending of taxpayer funds, working closely with local governments and school districts, growing the economy through economic development and improving quality of life.Specifically, Rep. Kelly noted the following legislative highlights:With the education budget being approved in June, Michigan K-12 schools are receiving $27 million more for the upcoming 2017-18 school year in per-pupil funding.Legislation was signed into law to strengthen the retirement plans for existing and new state education employees, in addition to opening a new hybrid pension plan with less long term liability risks.Allocating a record $450 million in the 2017-18 budget for road repair and construction.Approving $35 million for the Michigan Infrastructure Fund to be used to address the state’s water, transportation, energy and communications needs.Legislation advanced to expand career opportunities and education in skilled trades by allowing high school courses for computer coding, statistics and other 21st Century Skills to qualify for K-12 graduation.“A lot of work has been done in Lansing to set the table for the state over the next year and beyond,” said Kelly, who also served as the chair of the House Education Reform Committee. “This is progress, not a ‘mission accomplished’ because we have many other key issues affecting families in the Saginaw region and beyond.”### 08Aug Rep. Kelly notes key progress in current legislative term
Categories: Bellino News State Reps. Jason Sheppard of Temperance, Joe Bellino of Monroe and Bronna Kahle of Adrian today unveiled legislation repealing Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance system to bring significant relief to drivers paying the nation’s most expensive insurance premiums.The legislation continues benefits for everyone already receiving lifetime health care after a catastrophic traffic accident. The eight-bill package eliminates the no-fault system and moves Michigan to a full-tort system similar to other states such as Ohio.“We need to ask ourselves this – should Michigan continue to do nothing about having the highest insurance rates in the nation? Is that a logical way forward?” Sheppard said. “The answers are obvious to drivers across the state facing severe financial stress. We’ve got to do something to fix this broken system and lower rates for all drivers.”The plan still mandates that all Michigan drivers have insurance, but provides more choice and flexibility by eliminating the mandate to buy unlimited medical coverage. Accident victims will have the ability to sue at-fault drivers for economic damages and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.The legislation also includes a “legacy fee” to continue to fund the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) until it is no longer needed. The MCCA system will be closed to new entrants.“Auto insurance rates are so high, they are draining our neighbors’ bank accounts,” Bellino said. “As legislators, we cannot continue to let this happen. Our current rates are an unnecessary burden for families across the state.”Colorado abandoned its no-fault system in 2003. According to a 2008 governor’s study, the average car insurance premium in the state decreased 35 percent since the state moved to a tort auto insurance system. Michigan drivers could see greater savings by parting ways with its no-fault system, which is the only one in the nation mandating unlimited medical coverage. Florida, one of the 12 states operating with a no-fault system, is also debating repeal.“Our auto insurance is too expensive,” Kahle said. “Michigan’s unique no-fault system has led to the highest auto rates in the country. The hard-working families and seniors in Lenawee County deserve relief.”Sheppard noted that repealing Michigan’s no-fault system and replacing it with a tort system will draw more insurance companies to the state, which will in turn create more competition to even further drive down insurance rates.The bill package, House Bills 5517-23, will be formally read into the record next week. 01Feb Southeast Michigan lawmakers unveil new plan to fix state’s auto insurance system
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares June 28, 2014; The HillIt has been a difficult time for public sector unions, given the California court decision earlier this month that the state’s laws on hiring and firing teachers—that is, granting tenure—were unconstitutional and, by protecting incompetent teachers, deprived California school children of “basic equality of educational opportunity.” Leaders and spokespersons for the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) decried the decision vociferously, but many commentators interpreted the decision in the words of this Politico headline, “the fall of teachers unions.”This week, the status of public sector unions will make headlines again as the Supreme Court of the United States is scheduled to issue a ruling on whether non-union members can be required to pay public sector union dues. The case involves Illinois home health care workers challenging the requirement that they pay dues to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Previously treated like independent contractors, home health care workers were deemed public employees as a result of a 2003 law, and as public employees, they were then subject to having SEIU union fees withheld from their compensation.Like many court decisions, there are two focal points for the public sector union advocates: Will the court rule against them and, if it does, how broadly will the court make its decision? The impression from this article from The Hill is that the court is expected to rule against the public sector union dues requirement. Advocating against the SEIU, the nonprofit National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund is applauding the possibility that the court will rule that the Illinois requirement is “a huge injustice to force people to pay dues to a union that they want nothing to do with.”Readers know that public sector unions are not permitted to mandate fees from public employees for the unions’ political advocacy operations, as per the court’s 2012 decision in Knox v. SEIU, with the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito. Alito is the hope of the “right to work” advocates, but the odd swing vote could be the even more conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who in 1991 was the author of an opinion that public sector unions reasonably require nonunion members to pay for the union’s negotiating costs.It may be that the court’s unanimous decision to overturn President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board has exacerbated the public union advocates’ fears of a decision going against them. However, equally important is that in the general balance of writing Supreme Court opinions, Justice Alito hasn’t written one so far in this session. He is seen as a foe of unions and a critic of public sector unions according to Mother Jones, having, in the Knox opinion, “essentially invited labor’s foes to challenge the basic model of public-employee unionism, in which non-union employees can be made to pay dues to a union for bargaining on their behalf, representing them in grievance issues, etc.” The next big decision—this one—may be his decision to write.The attack on public sector unions has been long anticipated by conservative foundations. In recent years, the largest funders of the National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Fund have included the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking, the F.M. Kirby Foundation, the Anschutz Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.How public sector unions fare in this case is a political issue of enormous import. More than 35 percent of public sector employees are union members, compared to only 6.7 percent of private sector workers. Although government has been shedding workers due to funding cutbacks and privatization, blacks are still 30 percent more likely to be public sector employees than non-blacks. If public unions lose an important part of their financing in the form of fees and dues from nonmembers who benefit from the contracts they negotiate, the impacts would be felt in politics as well as labor.—Rick Cohen ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share51TweetShareEmail51 SharesJanuary 11, 2016; WKMS Radio (Murray, KY)In our continued coverage of the national push to fully address the rape kit backlog, we have seen some states and cities that have a proven dedication and serve as models testing unprocessed rape kits, like Memphis, Houston, and Detroit. Legislators in Kentucky are trying to make the same commitment to ending the backlog by proposing a bill that would require police departments to submit rape kit for testing within 30 days and also inform the victim throughout the process where his or her kit is in testing. Police departments would also not be permitted to destroy the rape kits.Democratic Senator Denise Harper Angel, who proposed the bill, calls it “absolutely necessary,” noting that Kentucky would be one of the first, if not the first, state to enact such time restrictions on rape kit testing. “Any victim of rape needs to know and deserves to know that their test is going to be tested and we have to get criminals off the streets.” According to a recent state audit last year, Kentucky has 3,090 untested kits. Rape kits take on average eight months to be tested. Moreover, 41 percent of police departments don’t submit rape kits at all. In the eight or so months that a test is detained, it’s possible the offender will go on to reoffend, endangering others.Naturally, these issues are not limited to Kentucky; rather, police departments across the country experience these problems. In a recent story, a victim of an alleged sexual assault is taking matters into her own hands after the San Francisco police department repeatedly failed to test her rape kit in a timely manner.Heather Marlowe was allegedly raped in 2010, but six years later, she still doesn’t know if her rape kit was ever tested or is still sitting somewhere in an evidence locker. Last Friday, she filed a federal lawsuit alleging her constitutional rights were violated because San Francisco did not abide by the Equal Protection Clause. According to Marlowe’s attorney, not testing her rape kit amounted to gender discrimination on the part of the city.According to Marlowe’s complaint, the nurse who conducted her rape kit told Marlowe that she would receive the results of the kit within 14 to 60 days. Marlowe repeatedly followed up with the police department, but, according to her complaint, she was either told the test would be read “any day now” or was told to follow up in six months. In 2014, an audit performed by the city found thousands of untested kits, despite the city’s assurances it had no such backlog. Last summer, S.F. police chief Greg Suhr refused to apply for grants to test the backlogged kits because his crime lab was “maxed out” and had other organizational issues it needed to work on before taking this on.The perpetrators from the kits older than 10 years officially cannot be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations, but the district attorney and advocacy groups said they believed testing the kits regardless would send a powerful message to victims.It’s understandable that the S.F. police chief, like other department leaders around the country, would want to save their manpower for cases that can actually be prosecuted. The decision and the attitude behind the decision is one we have seen before. Despite advances in victim services and the continued evolution of how society views sexual assault, these cases illustrate the continued inequity between rape and other crimes.Whether or not Marlowe’s complaint has merit, her allegations are not unique or singular. They demonstrate why states like Kentucky need to institute a strict time limit on testing rape kits. It seems the very absence of a time limit allows police departments to not only keep victims in the dark, but also remain immune to scrutiny. Without standard and strict procedures, there can be no accountability. In the interest of helping other victims find closure, it may behoove other states and cities to adopt similar measures as that proposed by Senator Angel.—Shafaq HasanShare51TweetShareEmail51 Shares
Share2TweetShare4Email6 Shares“Protect Gloucester: Protest signs on the gate at AGL’s fracking site on Fairbairns Lane” by Kate AusburnFebruary 27, 2017; Boston GlobeWhen last we looked, the Environmental Protection Agency still makes this optimistic promise on its website:Every year, EPA awards over $4 billion in funding for grants and other assistance agreements. From small nonprofit organizations to large state governments, EPA works to help many visionary organizations achieve their environmental goals. With countless success stories over the years, EPA grants remain a chief tool in the advancement of human health and the environment.Yesterday, departing momentarily from his succession of executive orders, President Trump forecasted preliminary budget outlines he will present to a joint session of Congress today. Trump proposes to increase defense and security spending by approximately 10 percent, or $54 billion, in the fiscal year 2018, by taking the money from non-defense agencies such as the EPA. Social Security and Medicare will be left unscathed. In addition to the State Department, the Boston Globe reports, “Social safety net programs like food stamps would also be hit hard.”Trump’s top advisers huddled in the White House this weekend to work on his Tuesday night prime-time address. They focused on a single, often overlooked message amid the chaos of his first weeks in the White House: the assertion that the reality-show candidate is now a president determined to keep audacious campaign promises on immigration, the economy and the budget, no matter how sloppy or disruptive it looks from the outside.This is merely the very beginning of a long and complex budget process. According to a report by E&E News, the environmental and energy news service, the president will ask that EPA’s $8 billion budget be cut by as much as 24 percent. Resistance from within and without the EPA might blunt these proposed budget cuts. Pew Research Center reported last December, “More Americans say environmental regulations are ‘worth the cost’ than say such regulations come at too steep a price.” Reuters conducted a poll showing that more than 60 percent of Americans want the EPA preserved or strengthened. Capital Hill will ultimately decide. Given that the EPA’s new chief, while defending a new view of the agency, sees those who want to dismantle the agency as “justified,” and Trump’s anti-environment cabinet in general, the EPA is clearly under assault.The NRDC offers this fact sheet describing how the EPA protects the environment and our health. President Nixon created the EPA in 1970. Popular Science offers these disturbing photos of what America was like between 1971 and 1977 before the EPA’s important work took hold. If the EPA loses its strength and its way, the Flint water crisis may become nothing more than a quaint memory.—James SchafferShare2TweetShare4Email6 Shares