A consultation event set up by MPs to produce reco

A consultation event set up by MPs to produce reco

first_imgA consultation event set up by MPs to produce recommendations from members of the public on the future funding of adult social care has failed to ask any disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) to provide them with “expert” opinions.DPOs have raised “deep concerns” about the way the Citizens’ Assembly on Social Care has been organised, and its failure to ensure that disabled people and their user-led organisations will have the chance to influence its conclusions.The assembly will take place in Birmingham over two weekends, 27-29 April and 18-20 May, with up to 50 members of the public brought together to consider the best way to fund adult social care in England.It is part of an inquiry into the long-term funding of adult social care being carried out by the Commons committees on housing, communities and local government and on health and social care.But although the members of the Citizen’s Assembly will “reflect the wider community” and will include disabled members of the public who are users of social care, there are no DPO representatives among the “expert lead”, advisory panel and expert contributors who will address the Citizen’s Assembly on the first weekend.Those experts set to address or advise the assembly include representatives of Mencap, Policy Exchange – the centre-right thinktank co-founded by government minister Michael Gove – Carers UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Reform (another centre-right thinktank), the Local Government Association, and – possibly – the Centre for Social Justice (founded by former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith).There will also be a representative of the Care and Support Alliance (CSA), a network of almost exclusively non-user-led charities, but she also works for Alzheimer’s Society.The event has been organised on the committees’ behalf by the charity Involve.The Citizens’ Assembly’s findings will be published on the committees’ websites this summer, and its findings will be considered alongside other evidence submitted to their inquiry.The inquiry’s conclusions are set to be published ahead of the government’s planned social care green paper.After being contacted by Disability News Service, the event’s organisers approached Inclusion London, a leading DPO, to ask it to take part, but only on the second weekend and only as part of a panel that will be asked to give “the wider social and political context of social care in England”.Professor Peter Beresford (pictured), co-chair of the national service-user network Shaping Our Lives, said the “list of so-called experts and advisers is a list of the usual suspects”.He said: “Where are the disabled experts, the mental health service-user experts, people with learning difficulties experts, etc?”He said citizens’ assemblies had “well evidenced limitations” and “tend to reflect the usual exclusions and biases of mainstream society”.He said: “This is a top-down initiative, so from the start it is difficult to see how they will reflect the concerns of the diversity of social care service-users and disabled people.“Of course, there might be an argument for such a body if there weren’t local and national user-led organisations which have already made clear what they think is needed for social care: a service offered on the same terms as the NHS, committed to supporting the philosophy of independent living.” He said the “predictable result” of the assembly would be “a safe mess, but a costly and wasteful one.“We actually already have the evidence for decent social policy, [but we also have] an ideological and political unwillingness to take any notice of it on the part of this crumbling government.”Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “We are deeply concerned about the Citizens’ Assembly that is taking place on the future funding of adult social care.“Any attempt to involve the voices of grassroots disabled people has been very last minute and yet social care is an issue that is having a very immediate and detrimental impact on our lives.“Assembly members are ‘asked to make trade-offs and arrive at workable recommendations’, but without the views and interests of adult social care users at the heart of the process, we are concerned that those recommendations will not reflect the best interests of disabled people, yet through the assembly formation they will attain cross-party legitimacy and be seen to represent an electable policy on social care.“What we need are politicians who are not afraid to stand up for bold solutions that will protect disabled people’s rights to independent living and to equal participation in society.”Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, said: “Inclusion London welcomes the opportunity to speak about the wider social and political context of social care in England at the second weekend of the Citizens’ Assembly.“We are disappointed that there hasn’t been greater engagement of Deaf and disabled people’s organisations and that the organisers have worked predominantly with charities to shape the assembly and select speakers.“However, it is important for us to take this opportunity to put across the urgency of the situation facing disabled people who need social care support and to ensure that the needs and interests of disabled people of working age are heard.”Sue Bott, deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK, also said she believed there should have been representatives of DPOs among the advisers.She said: “I’m sure such an assembly will make a useful contribution to the debate but the way in which it has been set up means that it can only ever be a partial contribution. “I have no doubt that the advisory panel have a great deal of experience on the workings of care funding but what is missing is the expertise on the impact of care costs on individuals and their life chances. “For that you would need to include, as advisors, representatives of people using social care services and their organisations.”Brian Hilton, digital campaigns officer for Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, said: “The fact that the voice of disabled people’s organisations are not represented on the advisory panels diminishes both their legitimacy and the knowledge base they draw upon on the important issue of social care funding.“It also calls into question whether it was simply an oversight not to seek the involvement of DPOs, which is alarming in itself, or even more worryingly, is it that the knowledge, skills and experiences of disabled people are simply judged to be of no importance?”A spokesman for the committees and Involve said the “recruitment criteria” for the expert panel had been “to ensure that the assembly’s plans and materials are factually accurate, comprehensive, balanced and unbiased”.He said: “The Citizens’ Assembly on social care is considering alternative options for funding social care in the long term – for example taxation and insurance-based models.“The first weekend covers different funding mechanisms, so speakers have been recruited for their specific expertise and perspectives on particular models.”He said that recruitment of speakers for the second weekend was “beginning this week” and would be announced after the first Citizens’ Assembly weekend.The second weekend will begin with a panel giving “the wider social and political context of social care in England”, and he said they were “approaching speakers from a user-led disability organisation for this”.He said that CSA, which was “an umbrella organisation which includes DPOs”, had “been supportive in helping us shape the Citizens’ Assembly, including its advisory panel and speakers”.He said that a CSA representative was contributing to the first weekend of the assembly, but when it was pointed out that that representative worked for Alzheimer’s Society, which is not a DPO, he declined to comment further.Citizens’ assemblies have been used in the UK and in countries such as Australia, the US and Canada – with one currently taking place in Ireland – and aim to give members of the public the opportunity to learn about and discuss a topic before reaching conclusions, with members “asked to make trade-offs and arrive at workable recommendations”.last_img read more

Photo Essay Door to Door to Door

Photo Essay Door to Door to Door

first_imgPhoto by Kathleen NarruhnPhoto by Kathleen NarruhnPhoto by Kathleen NarruhnPhoto by Kathleen NarruhnPhoto by Kathleen NarruhnPhoto by Kathleen NarruhnPhoto by Kathleen NarruhnPhoto by Kathleen NarruhnPhoto by Kathleen Narruhn Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% I have a thing for doors. Especially wooden ones and there’s lots of those in the Mission.Sometimes I’m curious of  what it’s like inside many places but all I can do is look and imagine from the street level.Photo by Kathleen NarruhnPhoto by Kathleen Narruhncenter_img 0%last_img read more

SF Mime Troupe stars fall from stage delays performances

SF Mime Troupe stars fall from stage delays performances

first_img Tags: San Francisco Mime Troupe Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% The Mime Troupe’s scheduled performance of Walls, a play on immigration and fear, on Wednesday July 26th at the Troupe Studio Space at 855 Treat Ave. is cancelled as its star is still recovering from a fall on Sunday.Lead actress, Velina Brown fell off the stage on Sunday in Yerba Buena Gardens. One visitor who saw it happen said Brown’s fall from the stage seemed as it was part of the performance. Today, the stage manager for the Mime Troupe, Rotimi Agbabiaka, the choreographer, said that Brown lost her footing when performing. She was taken to the hospital to check for any fractures and injuries. There were none but she remains a little sore which is why she is being given today to rest. On Thursday, Brown will be back on stage as planned in 855 Treat Ave at 7:00 p.m. Ticket information and the performance schedule is available on the Mime Troupe’s website. 0%last_img read more

The amazing true story of how a dog — yes a dog

The amazing true story of how a dog — yes a dog

first_imgPhoto: Mac stands in front of AT&T park Based on Mac’s nose, my partner and I were off to deliver the suspicious package to its intended King Street address — another ubiqutous, generic building that had recently sprouted up a couple hundred yards from the local nine’s ballpark. We had every reason to be confident this was going to be an interception of the cash side of a drug transaction.But that’s not how things worked out. At all.Responding to the knock on the door, the striking blonde — Yamel, we soon learned — opened the door to her condominium, vacant except for two upright suitcases adjacent to a sofa inhabited by two kids watching television. My partner explained that he believed the package addressed to “Yamel Gillen” contained contraband and she could either open it right there, or he was going to ask a judge to authorize access.Yamel opened the cardboard package. To our considerable surprise, it contained not wads of money but syringes. Forty-nine syringes, in fact, full of a mysterious fluid. (Subsequent articles would report 50 syringes, but I counted 49 — which I felt to be a very San Francisco number).My partner inquired: “Human growth hormones?”“I was going to start working out,” she replied.“Well, HGH is illegal. We can’t let you keep it.”It didn’t seem likely to me that the petite Yamel could be juicing, so I asked: “Is your husband home?”“No, he’s asleep. He works nights.”“What does he do?”In barely a whisper: “He plays for the Giants.”“I’m sorry?”“He plays for the Giants.”“Giants? Oh, you are a ‘Guillen,’ not ‘Gillen.’Eight years and three titles ago, maybe you don’t remember Jose Guillen. He was, at the time, a 34-year-old journeyman outfielder with some pop the Giants had traded for in late summer in hopes of adding one more potent bat for the stretch run — and, if things worked out, the playoffs and Series. And, now, we’d caught his wife having what appeared to be HGH shipped to his home.“Look, we can’t let you keep the HGH because it’s illegal. We’ll give you a receipt.”Finding loaded syringes instead of cash was a jolt for us and, to be honest, a disappointment. But, for me, it was more than that. I went to my first Giants game in 1964 — the Willie Mays era. In 2010, I went to 81 games. So, I was concerned that, in the midst of a pennant race, this would become a huge distraction.“We have to report it,” countered my partner.So, we compromised. We went to our captain, who had an in with the Giants. He suggested we defer to the DEA — while he would personally notify the Giants’ front office. On the DEA side, they recognized the potential “tentacles” of the case. If one receives a package of contraband in the mail, in order for law enforcement to assert a crime, we have to prove the recipient had intended to receive the package. The DEA was going to leverage Yamel Guillen’s, “I was going to start working out” as the impetus to run with the case.While her husband was scheduled to battle the Dodgers that evening, the DEA initiated the paperwork to serve a search warrant on Yamel Guillen to entice her to cooperate with a federal investigation. On the field, led by Jose Guillen’s three hits — including a homer — the Giants crushed Los Angeles, 10-2, and climbed into first place. The DEA search warrant was not completed in time, however, and Guillen returned to an undisrupted household.The next morning, I received a call from Guillen’s attorney from Pittsburgh, who informed me “the Guillens want to cooperate.” I referred Guillen’s attorney up the DEA ladder. And, shortly thereafter, I was informed that Yamel Guillen and the kids had slipped out of the country. The DEA’s leverage in the case evaporated.And so did the Giants’ grasp on first place. The team ceded the top spot only to reclaim it again days later — thanks to a titanic, six-RBI effort from, guess who, Jose Guillen.But nobody among that sellout crowd could have known that Guillen’s monstrous grand slam would be his final home run. Two weeks later to the day, on the final game of the season — also the final game of Guillen’s career — the Giants clinched the division. Over that two-week period, Guillen was unproductive; my partner and I had a hypothesis why, but the truth remains unknowable.And, in a move every bit as surprising as our finding those syringes, Guillen was left off the team’s postseason roster. The media would later report that he was scratched due to a neck injury.Sure he was.Guillen’s replacement in right field: Cody Ross. Email Address The situation isn’t so hot right now for the Giants (or, you could argue, in general). But, sometimes, you can’t tell how one little thing — even a dog, an honest-to-God dog — can change everything that comes after. But it can happen. I saw it myself.I was one of the two narcotics officers who stood to the side of a SoMa condo doorway just blocks from AT&T Park and rapped, softly, just as we were trained to do in the academy. A striking blond woman opened the door to a barren condo.Earlier that morning, well before sunrise, my partner and I had been within a vast parcel delivery warehouse, profiling. Not people, but packages: We were scouring incoming mail for the telltale indications that the parcels might contain currency related to trafficking. My partner and I, assigned by San Francisco Police Department to the Drug Enforcement Agency, understood the currents of the Northern California underground trade. At warehouses like these, the tide of green currency arrived in the morning mail, and the tide of green herbs receded with the afternoon mail.Deputized with DEA status, we were authorized to profile, intercept and deliver suspicious mail to the intended recipients. If we could establish probable cause that the currency within the package was related to a crime, we could civilly detain the money until the recipient established to federal attorneys that there was a truly bona fide business purpose to mail thousands of vacuum-sealed dollars to a fictitious person.My partner — he’s still working, so we’ll leave his name out of this — picked off an intriguing package sliding down the conveyor belt. He noted the name and the origin of the package, and concluded he needed a second opinion to confirm his suspicions. For that, he turned to his upbeat sidekick, Mac. With his puppy-dog eyes, Mac had an alluring effect on men and women alike, who found it hard to keep their hands off him.My partner placed the suspicious package — along with four placebo packages — along a wall, and released the panting Mac to wag his tail and roam.Mac, then still a puppy, is an English Springer Spaniel, a breed known for its intelligence. And a narc dog. Typical of a narc dog, Mac is a little bit crazy, with a short, 280-character attention span, high energy, and always game to chase suspicious odors.Mac ambled up to the five packages, sniffing and wagging. Then he froze, hitting on the suspicious package, looking up to us for acknowledgement, before pointing his nose again at the suspect parcel.And, thousands of miles away, the playoff-bound Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Texas Rangers were enjoying their day off, oblivious that a puppy was altering their baseball destiny. Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newslettercenter_img Lou Barberini, CPA, has an MBA in Taxation, and is a former SFPD officer. He was assigned briefly (but notably) to the DEA Asset Forfeiture Unit. He currently provides retirement, investment and tax planning services on a fiduciary basis through Nich Capital Partners. In the first game of the playoffs, Ross drove in the only run the Giants would need in a masterful Tim Lincecum 1-0 blanking of the Braves. Days later, the Giants finished off Atlanta aided by Ross homering and then driving in the winning run. In the next round of the playoffs vs. Philadelphia, Ross was voted the National League Championship Series MVP, belting two homers in the first game off 2010 Cy Young award winner Roy Halladay. Guillen’s replacement went on to hit two more homers in the postseason and earned a World Series ring as the San Francisco Giants captured their first World Series. And, two years later, another. And, two years later, another.This is not what we predicted when Mac zeroed in on that package. If he’d missed it, we’d have probably found another, and then knocked on someone else’s door. But he didn’t miss it, and that was that.It’s 2018, and the team’s first taste of World Series glory seems like it was long ago. Because it was. Only Pablo Sandoval, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey remain from that magical time when the Giants lost their innocence, and Cody Ross mysteriously “replaced” Jose Guillen.Mac is now 10 years old, with hundreds of cases on his proud resume. But, all but surely, none has ever affected more people than this one. Whether they know it or not. Eight years ago next month, the San Francisco Giants’ first World Series — and, perhaps, the team’s now-faded dynasty status — was ensured by a Springer Spaniel.It’s true. I was there.last_img read more

SAINTS final home game of the season ended in a di

first_imgSAINTS final home game of the season ended in a disappointing 46-12 defeat to the Auld Enemy, writes Graham Henthorne.Injuries and call-ups to the 20’s robbed Coach Derek Traynor of some of his more illustrious names, enabling Tommy Holland and Chris Carr to make their debuts, but there was still enough talent on the park to have won the game.The Saints started the brighter with some astute kicking from Lewis Sheridan and great kick chase from Lewis Foster forcing the visitors into a drop out from under their own posts.From the restart drives from Matt Cooke and Adam Hesketh put the Saints on the attack and when Tom Roughley grubbered behind the line Connor Dwyer won the fight to take the ball and touchdown.However, from the kick off a mix up on the line allowed the ball to go dead and the Saints were immediately under pressure.Three repeat sets later and the defence finally cracked allowing the winger in.The visitors then put the Saints under relentless pressure with repeat set after repeat set and two more tries ensued.With seven minutes to the break Lewis Galbraith expertly diffused a grubber behind his own sticks managing to get back into the field of play. From the play the ball Leon Tatlock threatened to go the length of the field only to be ankle tapped from behind with 20 metres to go. The ball was lost on the next tackle leaving the Saints 10 behind at the break but still in with a shout.The teams traded tries in the opening 10 minutes with the Saints scoring a blinder. Foster, Sheridan and Corey Lee spread the ball left and Galbraith rounded his opposite number with ease before handing off the cover and running around to make Fozzard’s conversion easier.Injuries added to the Saints woes and as the match wore on the fact that three players were backing up from Friday’s U20’s playoff match meant that the Saints wilted in the heat.Four tries in the final quarter gave the score a slightly lop-sided look but the Saints can’t complain.Whilst there was effort aplenty, especially from Tatlock, Foster and Chris Carr, there was a distinct lack of composure which ultimately cost the game.Match Summary:Saints:Tries: Lewis Galbraith, Connor DwyerGoals: Matty Fozzard 2Wigan:Tries: Lewis Tierney 2, Joe Burgess, Dom Manfredi, George Williams, Sam Brooks 2, Jamie DoranGoals: Ryan Hampshire 7Half Time: 6-16Full Time: 12-46Teams:Saints:1. Corey Lee; 2. Ben Parry, 3. Matt Wood, 4. Lewis Galbraith, 5. Leon Tatlock; 6. Tom Roughley, 7. Lewis Sheridan; 8. Matt Cooke, 9. Lewis Foster, 16. Adam Hesketh, 11. Matty Fozzard, 12. Connor Dwyer, 13. Chris Webster. Subs: 10. Brad Ashurst, 15. Greg Richards, 17. Tommy Holland, 19. Chris Carr.Wigan:1. Lewis Tierney; 2. Mike Scrivens, 3. Josh Rooney, 4. Joe Burgess, 5. Dom Manfredi; 6. Ryan Hampshire, 7. George Williams; 18. Ben Austin, 9. Callum Wright, 10. Ryan Sutton, 11. Grant Beecham, 12. Rhys Pugsley, 13. Robert Lever. Subs: 14. Sam Brooks, 15. Chris Lowe, 16. Jonny Brown, 17. Jamie Doran.last_img read more

RLWC2013 is offering an unbelievable opportunity t

first_imgRLWC2013 is offering an unbelievable opportunity to those lucky fans who have had their photo taken with the Rugby League World Cup Trophy as it travelled the country over the past 18 months.The official trophy ribbons will feature a unique design made up of the thousands of faces that have visited the Trophy Tour during since its launch in 2012.The ribbons will be displayed on the trophy throughout the tournament and fans can be still be part of Rugby League history by emailing their photo to trophyribbon@rlwc2013.com before 5pm on October 11.Since 2012, the Rugby League World Cup Trophy has been on a whistle-stop tour of the UK, being seen by over 2 million people, inspiring a new generation of fans along the way.Travelling across England, Wales, France, Ireland and Scotland, Rugby League’s greatest prize has been building excitement far and wide ahead of the Opening Ceremony at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff on October 26 – an extraordinary event and one that sports fans, families and event-goers will not want to miss.RLWC2013 Marketing Manager, Mark Foster said: “We pride ourselves on our welcoming, and world class values, and created the RLWC2013 Trophy Tour with this in mind.“The trophy has undoubtedly been our Olympic Torch. We’ve visited schools, communities, clubs and charities. We’ve also taken the trophy to amazing venues like 10 Downing Street, the Welsh Assembly and Trafalgar Square.The Trophy will be the focal point of the tournament and will be seen by millions more fans both on TV and at the venues.For YOUR chance to earn a place on the ribbon, send a photo of you with the trophy to trophyribbon@rlwc2013.com before 5pm on October 11 2013.last_img read more

SAINTS have announced their 19man squad for Frida

first_imgSAINTS have announced their 19-man squad for Friday’s First Utility Super League clash with Hull FC.Greg Richards and Luke Thompson return to the side with Shannon McDonnell also added for the first time this season.Nathan Brown will choose from:2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Josh Jones, 8. Mose Masoe, 9. James Roby, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Sia Soliola, 13. Willie Manu, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 15. Mark Flanagan, 16. Kyle Amor, 17. Paul Wellens, 18. Alex Walmsley, 22. Mark Percival, 24. Gary Wheeler, 26. Matty Dawson, 27. Greg Richards, 28. Luke Thompson, 38. Shannon McDonnell.Lee Radford will choose his Hull FC side from:4. Kirk Yeaman, 5. Tom Lineham, 6. Richard Horne, 8. Mickey Paea, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Chris Green, 11. Gareth Ellis, 13. Joe Westerman, 14. Richard Whiting, 16. Jordan Thompson, 17. Liam Watts, 20. Jamie Shaul, 21. Dean Hadley, 22. Josh Bowden, 26. Iafeta Paleaaesina, 28. Setaimata Sa, 33. Aaron Heremaia, 34. Fetuli Talanoa, 40. Jordan Abdull.The game kicks off at 8pm and the referee will be Ben Thaler.Ticket details are here.last_img read more

SAINTS v Wigan is big at any level – but when its

first_imgSAINTS v Wigan is big at any level – but when it’s in a Grand Final it’s even bigger!Saints 19s face the auld enemy this Sunday at Langtree Park (2pm) for the right to be called Academy Champions.Derek Traynor’s side have had a formidable season – winning 20 of their 20 league games and then beating Widnes in the semi-final 46-6.But that will count for nothing against last season’s winners; the team Saints lost to at the same stage last year.“We have had a good season but we know we have to get our performance right on Sunday and we are preparing hard,” Derek said. “We are looking forward to it.“There is no need for any motivation when we play Wigan. They have got a great record in this competition. Although we beat them at their place in our unbeaten season to date all that will count for nothing on Sunday.“It’s who performs on the day that’s what we will be focusing on.”He continued: “The players from both sides know about each other as they have literally been playing against each for their various club teams since the age of eight, nine or ten.“I hope that all Saints supporters can get to the game and the team the support it deserves. The boys all appreciate the support you give them and the atmosphere you create when you watch our curtainraisers before the first team play.”Entry for the game is £5 and £2 but if 2016 Members purchase their tickets in advance then they can save £2 and £1 respectively.Tickets are on sale from the Ticket Office and online here.There will also be cash turnstiles on the day and the Red V Cafe Bar will be open from 12.30pm.All tickets are unallocated but there will be Saints and Wigan blocks in the South Stand.last_img read more

Inspection records reveal more details about boarding kennels violations

Inspection records reveal more details about boarding kennels violations

first_imgThe Dog Club of Wilmington is shut down for operating without a license (Photo: WWAY/Matt Bennett) NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Not enough staff members, empty water bowls, lack of overall cleaning and 83 dog cages not in compliance are some of the reasons a boarding kennel and daycare facility did not pass inspection and ultimately failed to get their license renewed.New Hanover County Animal Services shut down The Dog Club of Wilmington on Wednesday for operating without a license.- Advertisement – On July 3, The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services mailed The Dog Club of Wilmington a letter of non-compliance and license expiration.The letter noted two inspections on June 26 and June 28 that were “disapproved” due to the number and severity of areas of non-compliance with the NC Animal Welfare Act.The letter directed the kennel to cease and desist operating as a boarding kennel immediately until they submit a renewal application for a license, pay the fee and pass a facility compliance inspection.Related Article: Pet Pals: Meet ZoeThe Dog Club of Wilmington did not pass its facility compliance inspection that took place on July 11.During that July 11 visit, the inspector noticed a baby was crying loudly. The child was being kept in an office in a play pen alone while its mother was attending to dogs at the facility. The inspector asked the facility owner why the baby was there unattended and was told that the mother really needs to work and did not have a sitter.The inspector also noted that while she was there for 3.5 hours, the infant was crying loudly all morning. The inspector wrote that this is a safety issue for the child because in some cases, a crying child can agitate a dog. The inspector noted there were two  aggressive German Shepards being kept in a room where they could hear the baby crying.The inspector viewed this as a safety issue for the baby, if a dog got loose and got into the office with the unattended child.The inspector wrote that this facility is significantly non compliant with the Animal Welfare Act.The inspection found the following:Records: The inspector noted again, as on the past two inspections, that all day care owners are not signing the signature log. There were 28 dogs in day care with 22 dogs signed in.Records were also not available upon request. The inspector requested 16 records of dogs currently in house. It took an hour for the owner and staff member to gather them. The inspector noted very poor organization.Indoor facilities: Two adult German Shepards are being boarded in a “room” not authorized to house dogs inside. The dogs had access to two electrical outlets, there were chewed areas on the dry wall, door, and door frame. The room was not authorized or approved for use as a boarding room.A staff member told the inspector that room was the only place in the building they could contain these two dogs. The owner and staff member were told by the inspector they should not take in dogs they cannot contain.The inspector also found scratches on a wood office door that indicated were being kept in the office, another room not authorized to house dogs.Outdoor facilities: The inspector noted again from both the June 26 and 28 disapproved inspections that the outdoor exercise yard areas have not been corrected. The large dog yard has a large area that is still bare dirt and the small dog yard also had bare areas. The inspector noted there were also no signs of a dogs being housed outside overnight, unlike a previous inspection.Primary enclosures: The inspector again noted the two German Shepards being kept in the room. One of the dog crates had a broken wire, which could be a danger to the dog.  Primary enclosures also did not provide space to allow the dogs to walk, turn about freely, easily sit, stand, or lie in a natural positions.The inspector wrote that she measured dogs and cages with the owner and proved to the owner that in all areas, except the small dog room, the cages need to be replaced due to inadequate size.Out of 96 cages, only 13 small dog cages were in compliance.Also, one one employee was supervising 17 dogs when the inspector arrived.  The inspector told an employee to put up the seven dogs or send them home immediately. The seven dogs were placed in cages that were not size compliant.On the past two disapproved inspections, it was noted there were more than 45 dogs with only one to two people supervising. The ratio is one person per 10 dogs supervising at all times.Watering: One dog in the keep separate room had an empty water container. The inspector noted there was not enough staff available to have taken care of this overnight dog. On the June 26 inspection, caged dogs were also without water.Sanitation: Several areas were not in compliance. Old feces was found in the exercise yard. The room the two German Shepards were kept in smelled like urine. Evidence indicated a lack of cleaning indoors, including the cages, floors and walls.There is evidence seen by the lack of employees that the cages are not cleaned twice a dayand by the grime noted on them.There is evidence seen by the lack of employees that the cages are not sanitized every seven days.Employees: The inspector noted again, as on the past 2 disapproved inspections, there is an insufficient amount of employees at this facility to adequately care for the dogs and properly clean the cages and facility.The inspector also noted a lack of knowledge in the staff members in properly caring for the dogs and the facility.On July 12, The Dog Club of Wilmington received a letter denying its license renewal.The letter cites the failed inspections June 26, June 28, and July 11. The letter states that if the owner continues to operate an unlicensed kennel five days after receiving the letter, a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation could be imposed.Dyana Scholz received 19 counts of operating a pet shop, kennel or auction without a license.last_img read more

Sewer work to close lanes on 701 in Whiteville Tuesday night

Sewer work to close lanes on 701 in Whiteville Tuesday night

first_imgRoad Closed (Photo: Daniel X. O’Neil/CC BY 2.0) WHITEVILLE, NC (WWAY) — The City of Whiteville says it will temporarily close the southbound lanes of US 701 at Washington Street beginning at 9 p.m. Tuesday.Crews will close the lanes as they repair a sewer main.- Advertisement – The city says the road should reopen around 6 a.m. Wednesday.Southbound traffic on 701 will be rerouted through the turning lane in the south side lanes of travel. A small area of Washington Street will be closed as well, the city says.Due to the repair work, access will remain, though limited, to Walgreens.Related Article: Italian bridge collapse sends cars plunging, killing 26There will be no interruption of service regarding water and sewer services.last_img read more

US presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg in favour of abortion

US presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg in favour of abortion

first_imgU.S. Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttiġieġ believes that abortion on demand empowers women and will support abortion up to birth should he become President of the United States of America.This was reported in an article on LifeNews.com who also explained how Buttiġieġ’s campaign is gaining tempo in Iowa. The same news outlet also described the candidate of Maltese heritage as “an alternative to the major Democratic candidates running for president”.PM Muscat wishes Maltese US Democrat luck for PresidencyWhilst in Greenville, South Carolina, the Indiana mayor stated: “You’re not free if your reproductive choices are being dictated by male politicians in Washington.”In February 2019, he has told host Joe Scarborough of the MSNBC show “Morning Joe”, that he cannot castigate legislation in the states of New York and Virginia that legalise abortion up to birth and infanticide. He also said:“I don’t think we need more restrictions right now. And, you know, what I’ve learned in Indiana, being in a place where a lot of my friends, a lot of my supporters even, come from a different place than I do, being pro-choice, I just believe that when a woman is in that situation, and when we’re talking about some of those situations covered by that law – extremely difficult, painful, often medically serious situations where life or health of the mother is at stake – the involvement of a male government official like me is not helpful.”WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

Massacre in Ogossagou Mali

Massacre in Ogossagou Mali

first_imgIġsma ta’ suldati maqtula fil-kamp militari ta’ DiouraIġsma ta’ suldati maqtula fil-kamp militari ta’ Dioura “The Bishops of Mali together with the evangelical community have sent a message of condolence to the nation, the President of the Republic and the Minister of Religious Affairs, for the massacre in the village of Ogossagou.Next Sunday there will be prayers for the victims, the wounded and their families and for peace in Mali”, said Fr. Alexandre Denou, Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference of Mali, as reported by Fides News Agency.On March 24, at least 160 people of the Peuls ethnicity were massacred in the village of Ogossagou, in the center of the Country. “The crime was attributed to Dogons hunters, or at least to people dressed like them,” said Fr. Alexandre. “The Dogons are a sort of confraternity of hunters. Hunting is not the job that gives them a living, in most cases, the Dogons are farmers who gather in this confraternity to hunt and create self-defense groups.”The Peuls are a population of farmers who often come into conflict with other farmers for the division of land and water sources. Mali, which has had to face the attempt of secession in the north, where jihadist groups are raging, lives in a situation of profound insecurity.“Last Sunday as a Church we prayed for the victims of the Dioura massacre,” recalled Fr. Alexandre. On Sunday, March 17, in the assault on the military camp of Dioura, 23 Malian soldiers lost their lives. The attack was perpetrated by a group affiliated with Al Qaida.“The Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church are working together to promote peace, and together we appeal to the Malian nation so that concord and not division may prevail,” concluded Fr. Alexandre.WhatsApp <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> SharePrintlast_img read more

Real Betis stun AC Milan with 21 win

Real Betis stun AC Milan with 21 win

first_img <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=a7617b59&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=128&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=a7617b59&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> SharePrint AC Milan succumbed to their second defeat in five days after Real Betis triumphed at the San Siro in a Europa League encounter. The Spanish side broke the deadlock in the 30th minute thanks to Antonio Sanabria.Former Paris Saint Germain midfielder Lo Celso made it 2-0 with a long-range shot in the second half. Patrick Cutrone scored a consolation goal for Gennaro Gattuso’s side in the 83rd minute as AC Milan suffered their first Europa League setback after the opening two wins in Group F.WhatsApplast_img read more

South Africas Social Media explodes in usage

first_imgAdvertisement These are among the key findings of a new study released today, 26 October 2011 by Fuseware and World Wide Worx, entitled ‘South African Social Media Landscape 2011′.“The question of how many South Africans use each of the major social networks comes up so often, it became a priority for us to pin down the numbers,” says Michal Wronski, Managing Director of information analysts Fuseware and co-author of the report.“The data was collected through a combination of Fuseware’s analysis of social network databases, information provided directly by social networks, and World Wide Worx’s consumer market research.” – Advertisement – An analysis of Fuseware’s extensive database of Twitter usage, in conjunction with World Wide Worx’s consumer market research, shows that there were 1.1-million Twitter users in South Africa in mid-2011. This is a 20-fold increase in a little more than a year.“One of the drivers of growth of Twitter is the media obsession with the network,” says report co-author Arthur Goldstuck, World Wide Worx MD.“Most radio and TV personalities with large audiences are engaged in intensive campaigns to drive their listeners and viewers to both Twitter and Facebook. The former, coming off a very low base, is therefore seeing the greatest growth.”As in the global environment, not all Twitter users are active users, with only 40% tweeting, but probably as many simply watching, following and using it as a breaking news service.MXit remains the most popular social network in South Africa, with approximately 10-million active users. Its demographic mix runs counter to the popular media image of MXit as a teen-dominated environment. No less than 76% of the male user base of MXit and 73% of female users are aged 18 or over.A surprising finding emerged from  the analysis of Facebook data. Of approximately 4.2-million Facebook users in South Africa by August 2011, only 3.2 million had visited the site in the year-to-date.“This is partly a factor of many users moving on once the novelty of the site had worn off, as well as a result of the fickle nature of the youth market,” says Wronski.“Once BBM picked up significant traction in private schools, for example, many teenagers who had previously flocked to Facebook, opted for BBM’s greater immediacy.”While LinkedIn, aimed at professional users, also reached the 1,1-million mark, it came off a far higher base – but still saw 83% growth of South African users from 2010 to 2011. Of these, 112 000 or 10% are business owners.Consumer research analysed in the report revealed that future intention of usage of most social networks is strongly related to age. The younger the user, the greater the intention of usage.“This is only one of many micro-trends shaping social networking,” says Goldstuck.“MXit, Facebook and BBM statistics illustrate, for example, that as social networks become more mainstream, their penetration within all age ranges deepens. This in turn  will result in the continual flattening of the age curve as social networks mature.”Source: itnewsafricalast_img read more

TechBuzz Hub Calls For Startup Entrepreneurs to Participate in the 4th Annual

TechBuzz Hub Calls For Startup Entrepreneurs to Participate in the 4th Annual

first_imgPICTURED: Tony Elumelu the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF); an African non-profit organization headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria.(Photo Courtesy: AlphaGamma) Advertisement Technology and Business development hub; TechBuzz will on 10th February, 2018 host an event to help and guide startup entrepreneurs that want to participate in the 4th cycle of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme. Outstanding African entrepreneurs who have startups or business ideas with the potential to grow are encouraged to apply.Ugandan startups that are willing to participate in the programme are invited to the TechBuzz event scheduled to take place this Saturday – considering that they had participated before winning themselves USD$5,000 a non returnable seed capital funding.The hub as told to this website, aims at bridging the incubation gap in the country and to create ways to overcome the barriers to employment, business sustainability, and social development caused by the immense gap underlying between innovation and investment in Uganda. Hosting this event, they’re trying to create more awareness, for startup entrepreneurs that are looking for funding.Some of the startup entrepreneurs at TechBuzz hub during their bi-weekly event dubbed; Fortnyt Series – are progressively structured Q&A panel discussions between the experienced panel to the audience starters, entrepreneurs, Innovators and Startups waiving the way to Starting up or growing. – Advertisement – As told to this website, the hub will help participants with application procedures, guide on the authenticity of the program while hosting some alumni beneficiaries, as well as have Q&A sessions that participants might have had about the programme.About the TEF Entrepreneurship ProgrammeIn 2015, Africa entrepreneur Tony Elumelu Founded the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program a 10 year initiative to help African startups with financing. Each year there are 1000 new qualifiers of the fund selected where each gets USD$5000 a non returnable seed capital funding.[related-posts]Those able to progress their businesses satisfactorily are eligible for a second stage convertible loan of another USD$5000.In conclusion, the foundation has so far invested in USD$10 million of which has been seed capital and aims to identify 10,000 startups in the course of the 10 year dedication of the program.Notably, through this business development programme, TEF provides training, mentoring, funding and network access to catalyze growth in Africa’s most under valued resource- its entrepreneurs.last_img read more

ICT Parliamentary Committee welcomes Data Protection Privacy Bill

ICT Parliamentary Committee welcomes Data Protection Privacy Bill

first_imgMinistry of ICT&NG and NITA-U Officials appear before the ICT Parliamentary Committee Advertisement The Ministry of ICT & National Guidance has this morning presented the Data Protection and Privacy Bill to Information Communication Technology (ICT) Parliamentary Committee.Led by the Cabinet Minister, Hon Frank Tumwebaze, the cross-functional team that included officials from the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance and the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U), interacted with the members of Parliament that constitute the Parliamentary ICT oversight committee.In his remarks to the ICT committee, Hon Frank Tumwebaze stated that ‘The objective of the Bill is to protect the privacy of the individual and of personal data by regulating the collection and processing of personal information. Additionally, it will provide for the rights of the persons whose data is collected and the obligations of data collectors, data processors and data controllers. Lastly, it will regulate the use or disclosure of personal information; and for related matters.’ – Advertisement – NITA-U’s Acting Executive Director, Peter Kahiigi, added that ‘The Data Protection and Privacy Bill will provide the much-needed protection for personal identifiable information which is key in this digital age. As we move to digitize the Ugandan economy, this bill will provide important safeguards that will protect Ugandan citizens as they use online services. These safeguards will be enforceable by the law enforcement agencies in the country.’The Data Protection and Privacy Bill has a number of objectives, namely:To protect the privacy of the individual and personal data;To regulate the collection and processing of personal information;To provide for the rights of the persons whose data is collected;To provide obligations of data collectors and data processors;To regulate the use or disclosure of personal information and for related mattersHon Members of Parliament on the ICT committee and officials from the Ministry of ICT and NITA-U seen deliberatingIf approved by the ICT Committee, Data Protection and Privacy Bill will be presented on the floor of Parliament for the Second reading. It is at this point that the House will then proceed to receive the committee report and the debate is opened to other members to debate the merits & demerits.When the house accepts and adopts the committee report then the Bill is considered read for the second time. When a motion for a second reading is adopted, the house proceeds with the debate at the committee stage or fix another date for discussion. The Bill is examined in detail, considering one clause or subclause at a time, agreed to, amended or rejected based on the majority votes without altering the main principle of the Bill.This is when the Speaker leaves the chair and assumes the chairmanship presiding over the committee of the whole house which includes all other members. (Thus a committee of the whole house). The process of passing the Bill Rule 23(1) of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament provides for the required quorum of Parliament which is one-third of all members of parliament entitled to vote.The speaker will put a question that the Bill be read the Third time. Parliament at the final stage passes the Bill as an Act of Parliament, it is then sent to the President for assent where it becomes an Act of UgandaThe Ministry of ICT & National Guidance and its agency, NITA-U, pledge to keep all our stakeholders updated as the Data Protection and Privacy Bill goes through the various stages, as shared above, of becoming a Law.[related-posts]last_img read more

GOODISON Seven hours six minutes and counting…

GOODISON Seven hours six minutes and counting…

first_imgEverton v NewcastlePremier League8pm, SKYUNBEATEN IS THE NEW MID-TABLE MEDIOCRITYFunny old game.Everton are the only unbeaten side in the Premier League but are only 8th in the table. If that’s what unbeaten does for you I’ll take losing Newcastle have hardly started well themselves with just 7 points from five games and it was a pretty disastrous weekend for the North East teams with Sunderland getting brushed aside by Liverpool in the Premier League yesterday and Middlesbrough losing 2-0 at QPR on Saturday.HEAD TO HEAD(Last 10)Jan 2013 Premier Newcastle 1-2 Everton Sep 2012 Premier Everton 2-2 Newcastle May 2012 Premier Everton 3-1 Newcastle Nov 2011 Premier Newcastle 2-1 Everton Mar 2011 Premier Newcastle 1-2 Everton Sep 2010 Premier Everton 0-1 Newcastle Feb 2009 Premier Newcastle 0-0 Everton Oct 2008 Premier Everton 2-2 Newcastle May 2008 Premier Everton 3-1 Newcastle Oct 2007 Premier Newcastle 3-2 EvertonTraditionally this fixture usually generates plenty of goals however an ncredible stat about Everton is just how hard it is proving for the away team to score at Goodison.Seven hours and six minutes have elapsed since Reading scored, with West Ham, Fulham, QPR, Manchester City, Stoke City, West Brom and Chelsea all drawing blanks.I can’t think of anything more original than just backing Everton to win tonight at around 4/6 with Star Sports.STAR FORECAST(stake between 0.5 and 10 points)10 points win EVERTON at around 4/6FOR DUCK’S SAKEThankfully, it appears that no one was seriously hurt in the latest incident involving a ‘Duck’ Boat on the Thames yesterday.Around 30 people were rescued after their tour boat caught on fire.The passengers were forced to jump overboard when flames took hold on the London Duck Tours amphibious vessel on a stretch of water close to Lambeth Bridge.Some 28 tourists and two crew members were hauled to safety by passing tour barges after the fire broke out shortly before midday on Sunday.A woman and a child were taken to hospital with suspected smoke inhalation.It is the third time this year that a Duck Tours vessel has run into difficulty.In a country now ruled by Health and Safety surely the Duck’s days are numbered and if not should be ?last_img read more

STARTERS ORDERS Saturday

STARTERS ORDERS Saturday

first_imgWhat’s your view?CALL STAR SPORTS ON 08000 521 321 [dropcap]W[/dropcap]elcome to Starters Orders. Our daily midday update from the trading room at Star Sports with our key market movers for the day across all sports.Saturday 7 May RACING MOVERS1.55 AscotHarry Angel 5/1 > 100/302.10 NottinghamHermitage Bay 9/4 > 6/45.15 WarwickThe Outlaw 3/1 > 2/15.25 WexfordRock The World 5/4 > 5/65.50 WarwickNorth Hill 9/2 > 3/1LIVE FOOTBALLPremier League17:30 Sky Sports 1 / Sky Sports 1 HD10/11 Leicester City 3/1 Everton 11/4 DRAWNational League Play-Off Semi-Final 2nd Leg19:30 BT Sport 1 / BT Sport 1 HD10/11 Forest Green Rovers 16/5 Dover Athletic 12/5 DRAW(All prices subject to fluctuation)last_img read more

Prima donna protein doesnt work well in pairs

first_imgShareCONTACT: Jade BoydPHONE: 713-348-6778EMAIL: jadeboyd@rice.edu‘Prima donna’ protein doesn’t work well in pairsRice University bioengineers measure pulling power of hitched pairs of protein motorsA new study by Rice University bioengineers finds that the workhorse proteins that move cargo inside living cells behave like prima donnas. The protein, called kinesin, is a two-legged molecular machine. Rice’s scientists invented tools that could measure the pulling power of kinesin both singly and in pairs, and they report this week in Biophysical Journal that kinesins don’t work well together — in part because they are so effective on their own.“Researchers have been investigating the mechanical properties of individual motor proteins for some time now, but this is the first time anyone’s been able to tie a defined number of molecular motors to a cargo and watch them work together,” said lead researcher Michael Diehl, assistant professor in bioengineering at Rice. “We know that more than one of these motors is attached to most cargoes, so understanding how they work together — or fail to — is a key to better understanding the intracellular transport system.”Cargoes inside cells are hitched to teams of motor proteins and hauled from place to place like horse-drawn wagons. Like stagecoaches or wagons, many cargoes are pulled by several horses. But unlike a wagon, cellular cargoes often also have multiple teams pulling in opposite directions.“Motor proteins move directionally,” Diehl said. “They either move toward the cell’s nucleus or they move away from the nucleus toward the periphery. Grouping different types of motors together allows cells to regulate cargo movement. But when there are multiple motors pulling antagonistically in opposite directions, what determines which group wins? What influences the balance? How do they cooperate or compete to get the right packages to the right place? Those are the kinds questions we’re trying to answer.”Diehl said intracellular transport has become an increasingly hot topic over the past decade, in part because researchers have found that breakdowns in the transport system are linked to neurodegenerative diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Huntington’s disease.One question Diehl and lead co-authors Kenneth Jamison and Jonathan Driver helped answer in the new study is how much pulling power a pair of kinesins could apply to a cargo compared with the amount applied by a single kinesin.The apparatus they created to study the problem was years in the making. Driver and Jamison, both graduate students, used strands of DNA to make a scaffold, a sort of molecular yoke that they could use to hitch a pair of kinesins to an experimental cargo. The cargo in their tests was a microscopic plastic bead. Using laser beams in an instrument called an optical trap, they attached teams of bead-pulling proteins to microtubule roadways.As the motors walked down the road, they pulled the bead away from the center of the optical trap. At the same time, the lasers in the trap exerted counterpressure in an effort to move the bead back to the center of the trap. Eventually, the light won out, forcing the motors to let go and the cargo to snap back to the middle of the beam. By measuring the precise movements of the bead during this reaction, Diehl’s team was able to determine exactly how much force a team of motors exerted on a bead.“Compared with other motors, kinesin is actually a pretty strong performer,” he said. “Single kinesin motor molecules can produce relatively large forces, and they rarely step in the wrong direction when walking along microtubules. This is remarkable behavior, considering kinesin is a molecular-scale machine that experiences significant thermal and chemical fluctuations.”Given how well they perform alone, it would be easy to assume that a group of kinesins would pull harder than a single kinesin. But Diehl points out that a team of kinesins can only harness the combined potential of both motors under certain circumstances.“Our analyses show that the two kinesins must stay in close proximity to one another to cooperate effectively,” he said. “Otherwise, one of the motors will tend to assume all of the applied force imposed on the cargo. Kinesin is relatively fast and efficient on its own, but they have trouble keeping up with one another when they are connected together.”Diehl said the group suspects that other classes of motor molecules, which are somewhat weaker than kinesin, may function better in groups. The team is carrying out follow-up experiments to see if that’s the case, and they are examining how such distinctions may play a role in regulating cargo movement in cells.Diehl’s research group, which is located in Rice’s new BioScience Research Collaborative, has spent years refining the tools used in the new study, and the work is paying off in numerous ways. Within the past four months, the group won an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health worth more than $1.4 million, and Diehl also published a theoretical study of motor proteins with Rice chemist Anatoly Kolomeisky.Diehl’s research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Welch Foundation. AddThislast_img read more

Houston pension liability has doubled since 2008 to 39 billion

first_imgShare7Rice UniversityOffice of Public Affairs / News & Media RelationsDavid Ruth713-348-6327david@rice.eduAmy McCaig713-348-6777amym@rice.eduHouston pension liability has doubled since 2008 to $3.9 billionReport from Rice’s Kinder Institute provides overview of Houston pensions and options for reformHOUSTON – (Aug. 9, 2016) – Houston’s pension liability has doubled since 2008 to $3.9 billion and is likely to continue to increase if no action is taken, according to a new report from Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.The report, “The Houston Pension Question: How the City’s Pension Liability Grew and the Options for Reform,” was designed to provide the public and policymakers with an overview of the current financial state of Houston’s pensions, an explanation of why the city’s unfunded liabilities are growing and insights on potential options for reform. The report also puts Houston’s pension situation in a national context and is available online at http://www.kinder.rice.edu.History and overview of current systemThe city of Houston currently contributes approximately $350 million per year to three pension funds combined, but it is not enough to stop the growth in unfunded liability, according to the report.“Houston currently faces an increasing unfunded liability for its employee pensions totaling $3.9 billion, as of 2015,” said Bill Fulton, director of the Kinder Institute. “This number is up from $212 million in 1992. If the system remains unchanged, this unfunded liability is expected to keep growing.”Fulton added, “We respect the difficult task that the city and the pension boards are facing. We feel this report speaks for itself and encourage all parties to use it as a resource for constructive dialogue. We also encourage the city and the pension boards to work toward a long-term solution.”All three of Houston’s pension systems – the Houston Police Officers’ Pension System (HPOPS), which includes 21 percent of city employees; the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund (HFRRF), which includes 16 percent of city employees, and the Houston Municipal Employee Pension System (HMEPS), which includes 63 percent of city employees – are currently underfunded, according to the report. HPOPS is funded at 81 percent and HFRRF is funded at 92 percent (as of 2013), though both of these funding levels are favorable compared to the national average, which is 74 percent for large state and local plans. HMEPS is funded at 54 percent, well below the national average. This underfunding is the result of several trends, including annual payments below the amount required to maintain steady funding levels and assumed rates of investment returns that are higher than the national average and higher than recent experience.The report said that each pension plan will require a separate set of solutions because of the different sources of their underfunding. The problems with the municipal employees pension fund are a result of the long-term unfunded liability, while the cost of the police and fire plans is driven by the relatively high annual cost of providing pensions.Options for reformThe report outlined four options for reform.Increase city’s financial commitment to the pension systems.This option would meet current obligations and pay down the unfunded liability. However, this would require the city to increase its revenue or divert funds from other uses, which could affect the city’s ability to provide other public services.Require larger employee contributions.In Houston, HMEPS members contribute 2.8 percent of their salary – nearly 5 fewer percentage points than the national average (7.6 percent individual contributions) with regard to employee contributions. HFRRF and HPOPS pay 9 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively (close to the national average of 9.6 percent). Increasing HMEPS contributions to the national average would help. However, without an increase in wages, this amounts to a decrease in employee compensation and may reduce the quality of worker the city can attract.Switch to a defined contribution system or “hybrid” defined benefit-defined contribution system for new hires.This change would shift the financial risk from the employer to the employee for newly hired workers. At the time this change occurs, existing employees are typically legally protected to continue with the original defined benefit plan. This option may be attractive to short-term or younger workers, since the benefits associated with defined contribution plans accrue evenly over a worker’s career and are more portable. However, switching to a defined contribution system does not address the previous unfunded liability.Reduce benefits for current employees.Although cities are usually legally prohibited from cutting benefits for current and former employees, there is flexibility with annual Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA). A reduction in COLA can immediately reduce the unfunded liability. While this can reduce financial obligations over time, it is a decrease in compensation to employers and could mean that retiree income loses ground to inflation over time. Changes to the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP), which allows retirement-eligible employees to claim pension benefits while continuing to work, would likely result in smaller savings but could be part of an overall solution.Houston’s system in a national contextAccording to Fulton, Houston’s pension benefits can be described as being “on the high side of normal” and the city’s current pension liability is not out of line with other large cities nationally. But all cities face a growing unfunded liability problem.“Houston is not alone as it works to rein in pension costs,” Fulton said. “Across the country, cities have taken a range of steps to deal with the rising costs of worker retirement benefits.”The report focuses on five other cities – Phoenix; Jacksonville, Fla.; San Diego; Baltimore; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – and highlights the steps they have taken to handle the same challenge Houston faces. The report notes that while it is unlikely that Houston would adopt the same exact reform package as any of the five other cities, the case studies are meant to foster conversation about the desirability and effect of different reforms in Houston.“These cities were chosen for their geographic and political diversity, as well as the variety of different techniques they employed as they all sought to address the same basic challenge,” Fulton said.PhoenixThe city of Phoenix is addressing its pension issue with an increase in employee contributions and an adjustment in the pension plan that includes a hybrid option with a traditional pension and the incorporation of a defined contribution plan. The unfunded liability should be paid off by 2040.JacksonvilleThe city of Jacksonville is addressing its pension issue with an increase in employee contributions, a reduction in pension benefits and an acceleration of the city’s payment toward the unfunded liability. By 2046, the unfunded liability should be paid off.San DiegoThe city of San Diego is addressing its pension issue with a reduction in pension benefits and the introduction of a 401K retirement plan for new hires. While this does not shrink the existing liability, it slows its growth as new employees are on a different plan. In addition, the city has committed to making increased payments to ensure the unfunded liability should be paid off by 2045.BaltimoreThe city of Baltimore is addressing its pension issue with a reduction in pension benefits, the introduction of a 401K hybrid retirement plan and increased employee contributions. The unfunded liability should be paid off by 2039.Fort LauderdaleThe city of Fort Lauderdale is addressing its pension issue with the introduction of a 401K retirement plan. While this does not shrink the existing liability, it slows its growth as new employees are on a different plan. The city also introduced a $146.4 million pension bond to pay down the city’s unfunded pension liability. The unfunded pension liability should be paid off by 2042.Fulton said that while there is no “magic solution” to Houston’s pension problems, a resolution will likely require a multifaceted approach involving both the city and its workers.“Ultimately, a pension solution will require a combination of revenue sources, revised assumptions and reforms so that Houston can put the questions of pension finances to rest once and for all,” he said.The Kinder Institute’s report was based on an analysis commissioned by the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College and led by Jean-Pierre Aubry, associate director of state and local research at the CCR. In addition, the report draws upon a background paper prepared by John Diamond, the Edward A. and Hermena Hancock Kelly Fellow in Public Finance at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. The findings are based on an analysis of financial data about the pension plans from 1993 to 2014 (1993 is the first year for which complete data is available on all three of Houston’s plans). The Kinder Institute report also draws on data from the CRR’s Public Plans Database, a collection of information for 109 large state-run and 128 large locally-run pension systems around the country.The report was undertaken at the request of the Kinder Foundation, Houston Endowment, The Brown Foundation Inc. and The Wortham Foundation Inc.-30-This news release can be found online at http://news.rice.edu/.Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Related materials:Report materials: http://kinder.rice.edu/HoustonPension/Kinder Institute for Urban Research: http://kinder.rice.edu/Kinder Institute Twitter: https://twitter.com/RiceKinderInstPhoto link: http://news.rice.edu/files/2012/03/0302_KINDER-b.jpgPhoto credit: Rice University.Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research is a “think and do” tank that advances understanding of the challenges facing Houston and other urban centers through research, policy analysis and public outreach. By collaborating with civic and political leaders, the Kinder Institute aims to help Houston and other cities.Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,910 undergraduates and 2,809 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for best quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.If you would rather not receive future communications from RiceUniversity2, let us know by clicking here.RiceUniversity2, Public Affairs – MS610 6100 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005-1827 United States AddThislast_img read more