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Gender: Male
Hometown: Texas
Home country: United States
Current location: Red Hell Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 76,961

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Masked marauders: Multiple raccoons take over the library at Arkansas State

JONESBORO, Ark. — An Arkansas State University alumnus says he was surprised to spot a few curious critters running around the campus library.

Codie Clark, a math tutor, says he spotted at least two raccoons Sunday on the third floor of the university's Dean B. Ellis Library while waiting for a student to arrive for a tutoring session. Clark says other students then cornered one raccoon.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications Bill Smith told KAIT-TV that the school's facility management personnel humanely trapped the animals after being notified by library staff.

Clark says an animal rescuer released the racoons back into the wild that night.

Read more: http://www.texarkanagazette.com/news/arkansas/story/2019/oct/30/masked-marauders-multiple-raccoons-take-over-library-arkansas-state/801894/

A raccoon walks between stacks of books Sunday at the Arkansas State University's Dean B. Ellis Library in Jonesboro, Ark. Clark, a math tutor and ASU alumnus, said he spotted at least two raccoons on the the third floor of the library while waiting for a student to arrive for a tutoring session. Photo by Codie Clark via AP

Capitol Insiders: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Is Letting The State's Budget Agency Fall Apart

The Texas Legislative Budget Board is hemorrhaging staff and has been without an executive director for a year.

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Texas state government, an arcane team of 100 or so budget nerds has led a private, if stressful, life — running financial models, ensuring state government and its private contractors aren’t spending beyond their means, and keeping lawmakers informed about each line item in the state’s 1,000-page, $250 billion two-year budget.

But these days, interviews with current and former budget agency staff indicate the emptying halls of their downtown Austin office feel more like the setting of an Agatha Christie novel.

The Texas Legislative Budget Board, created in 1949 to support full-time experts who track fiscal issues for the state’s part-time Legislature, provides the analysis on which the state bases its budget calculations — for example, how much money it costs to pay public school teachers or to fund hospital beds for people in mental health crisis.

It’s up to state lawmakers to set spending priorities, but legislators say their ability to make funding decisions is only as good as the information they receive from the experts.

Read more: https://www.texasstandard.org/stories/capitol-insiders-texas-lt-gov-dan-patrick-is-letting-the-states-budget-agency-fall-apart/

Trump's Rust Belt revival is fading. Will it matter in 2020?

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — President Donald Trump once promised that coal and steel would be the beating heart of a revived U.S. economy — a nostalgic vision that helped carry him to victory three years ago in the industrial Midwest.

But a year away from Election Day, that promised renaissance is not materializing and both sectors are faltering in ways that are painfully familiar and politically significant.

Recent data show manufacturing jobs are disappearing across Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio, all states critical to Trump's reelection chances. On Tuesday, Murray Energy, a major mining firm with close ties to the president, became the latest of many coal companies to file for bankruptcy this year, rattling communities across Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. The news followed recent layoffs at a prominent steel manufacturer in northeastern Ohio and General Motors' final decision this fall to shutter its massive plant at Lordstown, Ohio.

The turmoil in the manufacturing and mining sectors threatens to undermine Trump's claim to a booming economy — the bedrock of his and his Republican allies' campaign strategy — in places where it matters most. While Trump's economy is benefiting high-tech manufacturing and energy sectors in other regions, the manufacturing slump across the Rust Belt may test whether Trump can retain his appeal to blue-collar workers without having fully delivered on his promise to fatten their bank accounts.

Read more: https://www.news-journal.com/ap/national/trump-s-rust-belt-revival-is-fading-will-it-matter/article_5e94c91a-9573-5eb8-913e-deb039b0452f.html
(Longview News-Journal)

Abbott Says TxDOT Will Start Cleaning Up Homeless Camps Under Highways In Austin Starting Monday

Gov. Greg Abbott's office says it's forging ahead with cleanups of homeless encampments under overpasses in Austin.

Ahead of a Nov. 1 deadline for state intervention, Abbott's spokesperson John Wittman confirmed that the Texas Department of Transportation will clear underpasses of encampments and direct people to city and county resources for people experiencing homelessness.

The decision comes after months of criticism from the governor on the Austin City Council's June decision to effectively legalize camping and resting in public. The Council voted to reinstate some of those restrictions on Oct. 17, and those rules went into effect yesterday.

"These notices are the first step to clear encampments from underpasses throughout the city, while providing those experiencing homelessness with access to resources for services and care," Wittman said. "In addition to these short-term services, the Office of the Governor is working with a coalition consisting of private sector and faith-based organizations on longer-term solutions."

Read more: https://www.kut.org/post/abbott-says-txdot-will-start-cleaning-homeless-camps-under-highways-austin-starting-monday

Considering that the homeless shelters are full and winter is coming, this action will add more stress into the lives of the less fortunate.

Maybe they can open up the Governor's Mansion to help some of these people?

Texas coal companies are leaving behind contaminated land. The state is letting them.

CHRISTINE — In the late 1970s, at the tail end of a sweeping push to bring electricity to rural Texas, Alonzo Peeler Jr. struck a series of deals with three electric cooperatives: They could build a coal-fired power plant on the sprawling Atascosa County ranch where his family had run cattle for more than a century. And they could mine the abundant lignite, or “brown coal,” from underneath the property to feed the plant.

To Peeler, now 79, it made sense for a multitude of reasons. Not only would it bring more power generation to the farming and ranching region south of San Antonio, https://www.theeagle.com/news/state-and-regional/texas-coal-companies-are-leaving-behind-contaminated-land-the-state/article_478e5586-560f-5b91-b56e-be582e48406e.html it would boost the local tax base and bring additional income to his family.

“Looking back,” Peeler says now, “I made a big mistake.”

Peeler, who grew up on the now 25,000-acre ranch and dropped out of college to come home and help run it, thought the contract he signed ensured the cooperatives would promptly restore his land as soon as they were done mining it. In fact, the agreement required them to begin restoring the land within six months of abandoning excavated areas.

That wasn’t just in the contract, either: State and federal laws require companies to “reclaim” mined land, a process in which companies restore land to its former condition so that it can be used again for grazing cattle, building homes, and businesses or recreation.

Read more: https://www.theeagle.com/news/state-and-regional/texas-coal-companies-are-leaving-behind-contaminated-land-the-state/article_478e5586-560f-5b91-b56e-be582e48406e.html
(Bryan-College Station Eagle)

Texas signed off on the restoration of this old mine. Now a leaky landfill is contaminating

Texas signed off on the restoration of this old mine. Now a leaky landfill is contaminating groundwater.

ROCKDALE — It seems like everyone in Rockdale is talking about Sandow Lakes Ranch. That’s because so many residents of this old mining hub in Central Texas believe that the fate of the 32,000-acre tract is crucial to the future of their town.

For years, the ranch’s owner has been trying to sell the property, and for years, Rockdale residents have been buzzing about potential buyers, from a longshot bid for Amazon’s HQ2 to news that a Bitcoin-mining company might soon set up shop. Amazon, of course, didn’t pick Rockdale, and the Bitcoin company scaled back its plans.

For more than half a century, Rockdale was largely a company town, and as many as 2,000 people worked on that property, where a sprawling coal mine fed a power plant that in turn powered an energy-hungry aluminum smelter.

The mine and smelter were owned by Pittsburgh-based Alcoa, and the generations of Rockdale residents who worked there proudly called themselves Alcoans. At one point, the company accounted for 40% of the county’s tax base and 65% of the local school district’s budget.

Read more: https://www.theeagle.com/news/state-and-regional/texas-signed-off-on-the-restoration-of-this-old-mine/article_dda80d98-32de-5fa7-bc8b-044f876334bc.html
(Bryan-College Station Eagle)

Big coal gave a tiny Texas town free land. There's a major catch.

SULPHUR SPRINGS — On a cold afternoon in January, Marc Maxwell strode across the historic town square in this East Texas town, pointing to all the new restaurants, bars and boutiques on its periphery. Maxwell, a jovial public servant who has been Sulphur Springs’ city manager for more than two decades, explained how the city had turned tired streets into brick-paved roads that wrap around the main square, converted a parking lot into a proper plaza and installed a row of electric car chargers near the police station.

“This used to be entirely shuttered up at night,” he said. “And now we’ve got 12 or 13 restaurants, a couple bars and a brewery. You come out here tonight for dinner and it’s alive.”

As this once-sleepy whistlestop of 16,000 residents works to revitalize its downtown and economy, Maxwell is most excited about a project that hasn’t happened yet: the transformation of a recently shuttered coal mine into what town leaders envision as a recreational paradise.

A few years ago, as Irving-based Luminant, the largest electricity generator in Texas, prepared to close the decades-old Monticello Thermo mine on the southeast edge of town, Maxwell wondered what the company planned to do with its 4,900 acres.

Read more: https://www.theeagle.com/news/state-and-regional/big-coal-gave-a-tiny-texas-town-free-land-there/article_c0eab937-e739-5a11-a52e-dd73717387bb.html
(Bryan-College Station Eagle)

Former UVA Football Player Convicted of $10 Million Fraud

RICHMOND, Va. – A federal jury convicted a former University of Virginia football player late yesterday of his role in a $10 million fraud scheme.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Merrill Robertson, Jr., 39, of Chesterfield, started Cavalier Union Investments, LLC, and Black Bull Wealth Management, LLC, with co-conspirator Sherman Carl Vaughn. From 2008-2016, Robertson and Vaughn solicited individuals to invest money in private investment funds that they managed, as well as distinct investment opportunities that they proposed. Robertson identified potential investors through various contacts; including contacts he developed playing football at Fork Union Military Academy, the University of Virginia, and in the National Football League, while Vaughn focused on developing investment opportunities.

Among other things, Robertson led investors to believe he was an experienced investment advisor, that his company was qualified to serve as a custodian of retirement accounts, that investor money was deposited into individual tax-deferred retirement accounts, and that investor money was secured by tangible cash-producing assets owned by his company.

As a result of this conspiracy, Robertson and Vaughn fraudulently obtained more than $10 million from over 60 investors, spending much of the money on their own personal living expenses, including mortgage and car payments, school tuitions, spa visits, restaurants, department stores, and vacations.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/pr/former-uva-football-player-convicted-10-million-fraud-0

Former Pain Foundation Founder and CEO Who Embezzled $1.5 Million Sentenced to Prison

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that PAUL GILENO, 47, of Brewster, New York, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to 12 months and one day of imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release, for embezzling approximately $1.5 million from a Connecticut nonprofit organization, and for failing to pay federal income taxes.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Gileno was the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the United States Pain Foundation, a Middletown-based nonprofit organization designed to find support and resources for individuals with pain issues. Between approximately 2015 and 2017, Gileno embezzled more than $1.5 million from the foundation. He also failed to pay more than $532,943 in federal income taxes on the embezzled income, and other income, for the 2015 through 2017 tax years.

Gileno is required to pay full restitution to both the United States Pain Foundation and the Internal Revenue Service, as well as tax penalties and interest.

On June 17, 2019, Gileno pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ct/pr/former-pain-foundation-founder-and-ceo-who-embezzled-15-million-sentenced-prison

Encompass Health Corporation Agrees To Pay $4 Million To Resolve Allegations Of Improperly Billing

Encompass Health Corporation Agrees To Pay $4 Million To Resolve Allegations Of Improperly Billing Medicare

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Encompass Health Corp. (EHC), formerly known as HealthSouth Corporation, has agreed to pay the United States $4 million to settle allegations that an inpatient rehabilitation facility the company owned and operated in Nevada was improperly billing Medicare.

“This significant settlement demonstrates our continued commitment to protecting the Medicare program against fraud and abuse,” said U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada.

Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Henderson, LLC is owned by EHC, which operates an inpatient rehabilitation facility, formerly HealthSouth Henderson, Inc. (HHI). Kenneth Bowman was the Chief Executive Officer of HHI from approximately January 2010 through approximately March 2012.

The settlement resolves allegations that, from January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2012, HHI improperly assigned inaccurate and artificially low admission Functional Independence Measure scores on Patient Assessment Instrument forms to some of its patients. Given these allegations, the United States alleges that HHI submitted false claims to Medicare seeking and receiving greater reimbursement for its services for those patients than was warranted.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-nv/pr/encompass-health-corporation-agrees-pay-4-million-resolve-allegations-improperly-billing
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