Category Archives: Economy

Jerry Brown scolds Fresno sheriff in voice mail over Proposition 57 mailer

The "very thoughtful" Jerry Brown

The “very thoughtful” Jerry Brown

From Sacramento Bee: In his effort to pass a ballot measure to make certain nonviolent felons eligible for early release, Gov. Jerry Brown has turned to direct confrontation – scolding a California sheriff in a voice mail for what he called a “malicious” mailer opposing the measure.

“Hey Margaret, I got that mailing on Prop. 57 that you signed,” Brown said in a message received by Margaret Mims, the sheriff of Fresno County, and obtained by The Sacramento Bee.

In the voice mail, Brown objected to campaign’s distribution of a card featuring a prisoner that “you said would be released under my proposition.”

“I just want you to know that’s completely false, and that makes that mailer extremely false, and I would even say malicious,” Brown, a Democrat, told the sheriff, a Republican.

He accused Mims of employing “scare tactics that I think are unbecoming of a public official, and certainly will not build the kind of mutual respect and trust that we all need to do our jobs.”

Opponents of Brown’s measure have been distributing sportslike trading cards with photographs of prisoners convicted of heinous crimes under the headline, “Meet your new neighbor.” Though it was unclear what prisoner was featured in the card Brown received, Proposition 57 does not define what constitutes a “nonviolent” crime, and opponents of the measure have sought to highlight criminals convicted of such “nonviolent” crimes as certain kinds of rape.

The Brown administration has said it anticipates implementing regulations to carry out Proposition 57 that would disqualify from early release inmates who must register as sex offenders, though that language is not written into his measure.

Sheriff Mims

Sheriff Mims

Brown told Mims, “This guy was sentenced to 100 years, and he’s a registered sex offender, and on both accounts would not be getting out.” Referring to an upcoming meeting of sheriffs, Brown told Mims, “So, that’s all I can say. Maybe I’ll see you up at the sheriffs’ meeting. Thanks.”

Asked about the voice mail on Wednesday, Brown said, “Very thoughtful, I thought.”

Mims confirmed in a statement that she received the voicemail. “After listening to it, I took the measure of reconfirming that the inmate in the mailer is in fact eligible for release if the Governor’s initiative passes. It is troublesome that the Governor is not aware of the details of his own initiative.

Read the full text of Proposition 57 here.

DCG

Warnings of rate hikes as Oregon becomes 1st state to kill coal

consequences

From Fox News: The massive coal-fired plant in Boardman, Ore., is just four years away from being shut down for good – at that point, Oregon coal production will be no more, after the state became the first in the nation to completely ban coal power.

The mandate, signed into law earlier this year, was the result of an environmentalist-fueled push by the Democrat-controlled legislature. Under the plan, coal production will end once the Boardman plant shutters in 2020 – utilities would still be able to buy coal power from out of state for another 10 years, until a 2030 deadline to end coal use entirely.

But the phase-out already has groups warning that residents are headed for big rate increases and brownouts. “This is basically a wind mandate,” said the Cascade Policy Institute’s John Charles, while suggesting alternative energy sources won’t be able to meet the state’s needs. “There’s no way wind can physically power the grid because days, weeks on end, wind produces zero.”

Coal has been in decline for years. In 2005, coal made up 51 percent of the electricity used in the U.S. Last year, it met 40 percent of the need.

In Oregon, coal power still fills one-third of the electricity demand. Despite a building boom, renewables such as wind and solar power make up just 8 percent of the electricity portfolio.

The major utilities supported the coal ban even though officials can’t say for sure how they’ll keep the lights on. They feared a ballot initiative that would have been even less flexible.

say what

“If the cost of meeting this renewable standard is too high for customers, we don’t have to meet it,” said Ryerson Schwark, a spokesman for PacifiCorp. “If meeting it will impact the reliability of the grid, we don’t have to meet it.”

A major problem could be getting any new power to the grid. A U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, titled “Project No Project,” found 351 recent ventures that never got built — 140 of the projects were for renewable power. Many were killed due to legal challenges from environmental groups.

Bill Kovacs, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said there are 42,000 pages of federal environmental regulations‎. Virtually anything you can find that’s in federal law that isn’t being complied with can be used as the basis of a lawsuit to stop the project,” Kovacs said.

bang head here

One example of this is playing out in Oregon, where renewable power has become more critical due to the coal ban. The 133-turbine, 399 MW Saddle Butte Wind Park proposed for a large piece of land in Eastern Oregon near Boardman has been under challenge for several years. The developer, fed up with the lengthy process, has stopped paying $30,000 in fees he owes the state. 

Irene Gilbert of Friends of Grand Rhonde Valley, which is fighting the project, sums up the growing wind farm fatigue. “When they’re done, there will be nowhere for animals or people to be in eastern Oregon without living under a wind turbine,” she said.

But some still defend the push to end coal power. “The people of Oregon were very interested in saying, ‘hey, let’s find a way to get rid of coal,'” said Cliff Gilmore of Renewables Northwest.

DCG

Meet George Scarola, Seattle’s first homeless czar

Let’s see how long it will take the “czar”, who is making $137,500 a year, to eliminate his job by solving the homeless problem

George Scarola

George Scarola

From MyNorthwest.com: It has long been speculated that Seattle will eventually get a homeless czar to handle the mounting issue in the region. Now, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has hired for such a position — the city’s first director of homelessness, George Scarola.

“Because of the growing scope of work around homelessness, Seattle needs a proven manager to ensure we are achieving our desired outcomes,” Murray said. “I have known George for many years, working alongside him in Seattle and Olympia, and know him as a unifying leader that excels at creating successful results through community engagement.”

The position is slated as “cabinet-level.” Scarola will be paid $137,500 a year by the City of Seattle. He starts on Aug. 24.

In November 2015, Mayor Murray announced a state of emergency over the issue of homelessness in town. Since then, a cluster of city responses have addressed encampments in the area. The city even hired a homeless specialist to analyze the city’s approach — that expert basically said “less talk, more action.” But with George Scarola stepping in as the homeless czar, it is hoped that a more coordinated effort will take place. The idea is to have one person manage the efforts across multiple departments.

According to the mayor’s office:

“Scarola will be responsible for leading the city’s homelessness efforts across departments, providing oversight and evaluation of outcomes, strategic guidance, and leading community engagement.

To make it official, Murray signed an executive order Tuesday establishing the position. The order states that the director of homelessness will report to the mayor’s director of operations, and will essentially engage in a “systematic reform of the city’s response to homelessness.” The goal of the director is to improve the “overall quality, responsiveness, and success at serving people experiencing homelessness and the greater community.

Scarola has a history of working among educational and Democratic circles in Washington. Sacarola worked as the legislative director for the League of Education Voters. A 2012 article in Seattle Met referred to George Scarola as a lobbyist for the league. The mayor’s office notes that he was integral to motivating Seattle voters to approve educational bonds in the ’90s.

He was previously was top aide to Democratic State Representative Frank Chopp in 2000. Then he helped the Washington House Democratic Campaign in 2002 to obtain a majority in the house.

In the 1990s, Scarola was executive director of the Sand Point Community Housing Project that turned buildings on the Sand Point Naval Air Station into shelters for youth, adults and families.

DCG

Commercial flights are too ‘burdensome’ for Clinton

Only us peons fly commercial…

Hillary's teeth

Via NY Post: Instead of flying between New York and Washington, DC, like a common traveler, Hillary Clinton wanted the Air Force to fly her — because she didn’t feel well enough to fly commercial, newly released emails show.

An exchange from May 4, 2009, between Clinton and her closest aide, Huma Abedin, show the former secretary of state trying to figure out how to avoid the “burdensome” shuttle. The shuttle refers to hourly commercial plane service between New York and Washington, DC.

“Do you think we could get a plane for Westchester flight back tonight?” Clinton wrote in an email released this week as part of an ongoing Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department.

It’s going to rain all day and I still don’t feel great so the idea of playing a guessing game w the shuttle is really burdensome to me. What do you think? Could be anytime that works for the Air Force,” she added.

An hour and 40 minutes later, Abedin replied: “Yes of course. Looking into it. Around what time do u think?” “Six or 7–does that work?” Clinton asked.

It’s unclear if Clinton hitched a ride on an Air Force plane — but the exchange highlights the perks of being the nation’s top diplomat.

And it’s also likely to draw criticism from those who don’t believe the Air Force should be ferrying around the country’s politicians — with the exception of Air Force I and Air Force II for the president and vice president.

DCG

Teachers at NM school directed to stop addressing students as ‘boys and girls’

It was just a “mistake.”

serious

From KOB 4: Teachers at Carlos Rey Elementary School are in a tough situation after their assistant principal told them to stop calling their students “boys and girls.”

It seems the school administrators decided to take the new transgender bathroom policy for Albuquerque Public Schools a step further. This appears to the first example of something that started as a bathroom issue now expanding into daily life in the classroom.

A letter sent to teachers at Carlos Rey this month titled “Gender Identity Procedural Directive” states teachers can no longer refer to their students as boys and girls starting this month, telling them to eliminate gender in their classrooms.

It incites a passionate reaction from both sides. “This is outlandish,” said Rev. Adelious D. Stith, a regular at APS board meetings. “This just makes no sense at all.”

Stith has been pleading with board members to listen to parents before allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. The district has said it will comply with a federal order on the issue, and this is the first school year with the policy in action.

Stith said the letter from an assistant principal proves the APS directive has just caused confusion in how to correctly implement it.

“She or he is now exercising what they believe,” Stith said. “It’s their spin on the directive. They are confused obviously. We can call them scientists, but we can’t call them boys and girls. This is ridiculous.”

Adrien Lawyer

Adrien Lawyer

But Adrien Lawyer with the Transgender Resource Center believes the assistant principal was actually trying to do the right thing. “What the principal was trying to say is let’s think about how we address students and all of the gendered language that we use all day every day and whether or not we really have to do that,” he said.

Lawyer said that kind of policy would have taken a lot of the daily suffering out of his childhood, growing up as a girl who knew in his heart he was a boy. “For some young people, that’s a really painful experience every day to be referred to as the wrong gender,” he said.

The district said this was a complete mistake on the assistant principal’s part and that she was immediately addressing the overreach. APS said nowhere in their transgender policy does it say to not call students boys and girls.

Sources at the school, however, tell KOB they were told to continue with that policy.

h/t Weasel Zippers

DCG

Rising of patients seriously hurt by NHS blunders: More than 6,000 incidents were recorded last year

NHS

From Daily Mail: A patient is treated by the NHS every 90 minutes following a serious medical blunder. More than 6,000 incidents involving accidental cuts, punctures, perforations or haemorrhages were logged last year – three times the rate of 2005.

Campaigners say that poor training and inadequate staffing levels explain the mistakes. Senior doctors have warned the cash-strapped NHS is heading into an ‘extremely difficult autumn’. Hospitals have been told to cancel thousands of non-urgent procedures. The medical blunders make the financial pressures worse by extending hospital stays and encouraging compensation payouts.

The figures released earlier in the week reveal 6,082 incidents of patients needing NHS treatment following a blunder in English hospitals last year.  This compares with 2,193 ten years ago, according to NHS Digital, the official health statistics unit. The bill for compensation stood at £1.48billion last year, a 27 per cent increase on 2014, accounts for the NHS Litigation Authority show.

Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association said: ‘With all the systems and procedures that are in place within the NHS, how are such basic, avoidable mistakes still happening? It is a disgrace that such incidents are increasing. There is clearly a lack of learning across the NHS, or even within individual trusts. These patients have been very badly let down by poor processes and utter carelessness. We call for the Government and Royal Colleges to take steps to address this alarming rise.’

Andrew Goddard, registrar at the Royal College of Physicians, last week warned that a funding and staffing crisis is putting huge pressure on doctors. ‘Physicians are facing rota gaps, consultants acting down into trainee positions, inability to recruit to posts in key specialties due to a lack of trainees, and difficulties in covering day-to-day services,’ he said. ‘We’re heading into an extremely difficult autumn.’

The Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health has also warned of staffing shortages, raising concerns that children’s care is ‘increasingly compromised’.

nhs

The paediatric workforce is at ‘breaking point’ it said in a report, with more than half of units failing to meet staffing standards. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has repeatedly called for a new culture of transparency to increase safety in an era of fewer resources.

Last year he launched what he called a ‘reformation’ in the culture of the health service, claiming he wanted to make British people the ‘most powerful patients in the world’.

He encouraged every member of staff – from cleaners up to consultants – to blow the whistle when they see evidence of poor care, in a bid to halt the annual toll of 10,000 avoidable deaths in English hospitals.

Mr. Hunt has repeatedly urged doctors to take the same approach to safety as the aviation industry. He has pledged that those who own up to blunders will get legal protection – the same system as that used among airlines.

NHS staff will be protected from prosecution based on their own evidence although they could still face sanctions if guilty of malpractice or negligence.

The new system involves the creation of the independent Healthcare Accident Investigation Branch, which starts work this autumn.

Safety campaigners said the first thing the unit must do is launch a review of why problems are rising so fast.

Peter Walsh, of the charity Action Against Medical Accidents, said more complex procedures and better reporting of incidents may partly explain the rise, but would not account for the figures trebling. He said: ‘I suspect inadequate staffing and increased pressure at work are also factors.

I also know there is a lot of concern among surgeons that the training they get is not as thorough and adequate as used to be the case. There is not as much time spent on technical skills. Of course it is a known risk of surgery that these things happen, but that doesn’t make it OK and much of the time they are really bad errors that are perfectly avoidable.’

One of the most common mistakes we hear of during laparoscopic surgery is perforation of the bowel. This is very, very serious and can be fatal if not repaired very quickly. The increase in incidents is very worrying and there needs to be an investigation to get to the bottom of it.

You can read the rest of the story here.

See also:

DCG

One-third of US won’t have choice between Obamacare plans in 2017

Going as planned.

obamacare

From MSN: It’s looking like a lot of people are going to have little Obamacare choice next year. One-third of the United States may have just a single insurer to pick from on Obamacare marketplaces in 2017, an analysis released Friday suggests.

Seven entire states are projected to have just one carrier in 2017: Alaska, Alabama, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming, according to research by the Avalere consultancy.

And more than half of the country, 55 percent, may end up having two or fewer insurers to choose from on those government-run exchanges, Avalere said.  “And there may be some sub-region counties where no plans are available,” a report by Avalere on its analysis found.

The findings reflect the effect of announcements this summer that three major insurers — Aetna (AET), UnitedHealth (UNH), and Humana (HUM) — will sharply reduce the number of areas where they will sell individual health plans in 2017 due to financial losses on those plans, as well as the failures of most Obamacare co-op insurance plans.

The analysis relates to the number of insurers in a given “rating region,” not the number of plans available. A single insurer can offer multiple plans at different price points, and at different levels of coverage.

The analysis, which assumes no new plans will enter the markets losing those insurers, is sobering news for many consumers, about 11.1 million of whom are now covered by plans sold on the exchanges.

The Obama administration, when asked about 2017 Obamacare insurance premiums that are on track to be significantly higher than in past years, has repeatedly said that consumers can shop around between plans for better prices. But in areas where this is no or little competition, price shopping will be less of an option.

Pinal County, Arizona, is one place that is, as of now, not expected to have an Obamacare insurer to choose from on the federal HealthCare.gov exchange next year. The county near Phoenix, which has 400,000 residents, has seen two insurers, United Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona decided to exit the area.

Avalere noted that in 2016, only 4 percent of rating regions — the geographic areas that insurance plans cover — had just one or fewer insurers offering plans. And only 33 percent of the country had two or fewer insurers.

“Depending on where consumers live, their choice of insurance plans may decrease for 2017,” said Elizabeth Carpenter, Avalere senior vice president. “Some exchange enrollees may need to choose another insurance plan in order to maintain coverage.”

Avalere President Dan Mendelson said that the decrease in competition in Obamacare plans is the result of lower-than-expected enrollment, consumers who are costing insurers a lot in health-care benefits, and “troubled” programs that were intended to reduce the risk insurers face by selling coverage on the exchanges.

Obama_laughing

“Congress and the administration can choose to stabilize these markets and re-establish competition — but only through a consensus process that brings in a brings in a broader swath of the uninsured,” Mendelson said.

DCG