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TexasTowelie

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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

Ahead of F-35s, questions about who will foot the bill for soundproofing

Less than two months before a fleet of F-35s arrive at Vermont’s Air National Guard base, officials from South Burlington and Winooski believe that Burlington should continue to shoulder the financial burden of mitigating dangerous noise for the 2,640 homes expected to be newly impacted by the arrival of the next-generation fighter jet.

Yet as a new noise mitigation program comes to fruition — and recently released noise maps show a tripling of affected homes — Burlington officials have made no concrete promises to continue this financial support once the F-35s touch down.

Burlington owns and controls the Burlington International Airport, where the Green Mountain Boys take off and land, despite it being located in South Burlington. This means that the Queen City is the only entity that can apply for noise mitigation grants through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Historically, Burlington has secured this money and put up the necessary matching funds, generally 10%, to help buffer airport noise for surrounding communities.

Winooski and South Burlington officials estimate F-35-related soundproofing efforts could cost $6.4 million annually, which they say would put significant financial strains on their small city budgets.

Read more: https://vtdigger.org/2019/07/29/ahead-of-f-35s-questions-about-who-will-foot-the-bill-for-soundproofing/

Inside Bernie Sanders' bid to retake New Hampshire

WEST LEBANON, N.H. — Just before 10 a.m. on a hazy Saturday, Joe Caiazzo drove up to the small house, off the main strip in West Lebanon, that will serve as Bernie Sanders’ campaign office in the Upper Valley for the next 200 days.

With warnings that the temperature would rise into the triple digits over that weekend two weeks ago, the 32-year-old New Hampshire campaign state director was dressed appropriately with a light blue polo shirt and khaki trousers.

Introducing himself, his accent betrayed his Massachusetts roots, but he was quick to say that he was technically born in New Hampshire, albeit in Derry — about 20 miles from the state line.

With Sanders in Iowa for the weekend, Caiazzo planned to go down to Keene to hear Nina Turner — the Vermont senator’s senior adviser and firebrand — speak to supporters at the Unitarian Universalist Church, and then drive back north to West Lebanon for the grand opening of what would be the sixth Sanders office in the state and then, to hear Turner rally the troops once again.

Read more: https://vtdigger.org/2019/07/29/inside-bernie-sanders-bid-to-retake-new-hampshire/

Sununu Vetoes Bills Repealing GOP-Backed Voting Laws

Gov. Chris Sununu has vetoed his 39th and 40th bills of the year. These bills aim to undo recent election law changes backed by the GOP.

One bill, HB 105, aims to repeal the law known as Senate Bill 3.

That law, passed by Republicans in 2017, tightened proof of residency requirements for people who register to vote within 30 days of an election.

Democrats think that law creates needless barriers to voting.

In his veto message, Sununu called the standards "commonsense."

Read more: https://www.nhpr.org/post/sununu-vetoes-bills-repealing-gop-backed-voting-laws

Ahead of second debate, Warren touts she's 'always ready'

Sen. Elizabeth Warren heads into the second round of Democratic presidential primary debates in a stronger position than in the first round a month ago.

The populist senator from Massachusetts is now basically all tied with 2020 Democratic presidential nomination rival and fellow progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for second in the latest national and New Hampshire polls, behind front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden.

And she’s become a grassroots fundraising machine, announcing last week that she’s joined Sanders in hauling in individual contributions from more than one million donors.

Warren will be standing center stage next to Sanders at Tuesday night’s debate – and there’s a good chance she could see some incoming fire from some of her nomination rivals.

Read more: https://www.concordmonitor.com/Ahead-of-second-debate-Warren-touts-she-s--always-ready--27345032

Judge blocks New Hampshire Medicaid work requirements

A federal judge on Monday blocked Medicaid work requirements in New Hampshire, ruling for a third time that the Trump administration hasn’t adequately addressed the potential loss of health coverage for low-income residents.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg in Washington comes four months after he blocked similar work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky.

The judge said “we have all seen this movie before” and criticized U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar for acknowledging the potential impact without analyzing it.

“What does the Secretary think about all this? Does he concur with New Hampshire’s apparent view that coverage loss is going to be minimal, or does he agree with the commenters that is likely to be substantial?” he wrote in vacating the agency’s approval of the rules. “Are the coverage losses in Arkansas likely to be replicated in New Hampshire? We have no idea, since the approval letter offers no hints.”

Read more: https://www.concordmonitor.com/Judge-blocks-New-Hampshire-Medicaid-work-requirements-27357042

Green Candidate's Entry Pushes Maine Toward Ranked-Choice US Senate Race In 2020

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Green candidate from Waldo County is expected to announce his 2020 candidacy for U.S. Senate this week, increasing the likelihood that the nationally targeted race for the seat held by Republican Susan Collins will be decided by ranked-choice voting.

The Maine Green Independent Party said in a Tuesday statement that David Gibson of Morrill will announce his candidacy at a national party meeting in Massachusetts on Friday. Gibson works as a solar design specialist for Liberty-based ReVision Energy and his campaign website includes goals of 100 percent clean energy by 2030 and halving the U.S. defense budget.

It’s unclear if Gibson will be able to get on the ballot in 2020. The Maine Green party dates back to 1984, making it the oldest one in the U.S., but it has receded during this decade and hasn’t nominated a candidate for statewide office since Pat LaMarche in the 2006 gubernatorial race.

To get on the ballot for Maine’s June primaries, party candidates must submit at least 2,000 signatures from members of their party by mid-March of 2020, which requires a basic level of organization because they can’t begin collecting those signatures until January 1.

Read more: https://www.mainepublic.org/post/green-candidate-s-entry-pushes-maine-toward-ranked-choice-us-senate-race-2020

Bucking trend, Golden opposes House impeachment inquiry

While more and more of his Democratic colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives call for Congress to begin looking into the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump, a first-term Maine Democrat took a stand in opposition this week.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a 2nd District Democrat from Lewiston, said he believes doing so “would unleash an era of even greater divisiveness in our country — one from which we might not return.”

Golden is one of the few members of the House from New England who is not seeking a move toward impeachment. Among those who have spoken in favor of taking that step is U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a 1st District Democrat.

Pingree called the report from Robert Mueller, the special counsel who investigated alleged ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign, “a turning point” that convinced her the time had come to begin an impeachment inquiry.

Read more: https://www.sunjournal.com/2019/07/29/jared-golden-bucks-trend-to-oppose-house-impeachment-inquiry/
(Lewiston Sun Journal)

State admits it was wrong to resist federal crackdown on oil tank pollution

Maine was wrong to fight a federal crackdown on hazardous emissions from petroleum storage tanks in South Portland and Searsport, a state official now admits, but there is still no consensus on how to safeguard the public from air pollution produced by oil facilities across the United States.

For much of the last decade, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection sided with oil companies and defended a widely disputed method of estimating air pollution from storage tanks that was developed by the petroleum industry, according to documents obtained by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram under a Freedom of Access Act request.

Records show that from 2011 through early 2019, the state agency ignored, discredited and even fought the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s attempt to rein in hazardous emissions from massive heated tanks that store asphalt and No. 6 residual heavy fuel oil.

The dispute between government agencies helped to keep the public in the dark about the potential health threat and continues to stoke anger, fear and confusion about the risk posed by more than 100 petroleum tanks scattered across South Portland beside homes, schools, businesses, community centers, parks and playing fields.

Read more: https://www.pressherald.com/2019/07/28/maine-dep-admits-it-was-wrong-to-resist-federal-crackdown-on-oil-tank-pollution-but-doubts-remain-about-testing/

Company building Bowdoin's new dorms accused of illegal labor practices

Members of the Bowdoin Labor Alliance (BLA) and the New England Regional Council of Carpenters (NERCC) gathered outside the construction site of new student dorms at Bowdoin College in Brunswick last Thursday to protest Timberland Drywall — a subcontractor for Wright-Ryan Construction working on the dorms — and its alleged misclassification of workers.

The protest at Bowdoin was the first of what will be 30 days of protesting against the company by members of the alliance and NERCC. Two Maine carpenters, Dan Ayotte and Don Desjardins, will stand out in front of the construction site all 30 days to hand out fliers to students and neighbors about the issue.

The NERCC, which is in contact with affected workers, filed a misclassification tip through the Maine Department of Labor website this May, according to a BLA press release. They say that Timberland Drywall has been misclassifying workers as ‘independent contractors,’ a classification used by employers to avoid providing benefits, like health insurance, and paying for work-related expenses. The workers, often unaware of their situation, become their own independent companies, responsible for paying their own taxes, providing for their own sick days, and buying their own equipment. An investigation into the tip against Timberland is ongoing.

John Leavitt, a regional manager for NERCC, described Timberland’s misclassification of workers as flagrant, with the company, for instance, hiring even the foreman for the Bowdoin project as an independent contractor.

Read more: https://mainebeacon.com/company-building-bowdoins-new-dorms-accused-of-illegal-labor-practices/

Information Technology Consultant Convicted Of Multimillion-Dollar Kickback Scheme

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that a federal jury found SHIVANAND MAHARAJ guilty of honest services wire fraud, paying kickbacks in connection with an employee benefit plan, and conspiracy, following a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl. MAHARAJ’s co-conspirator, ENRICO RUBANO, a/k/a “Rick Rubano,” who was a director of information technology at a large union pension and health benefit fund (the “Funds”), pled guilty in connection with the same crimes shortly before trial.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “For years, Shivanand Maharaj bribed an insider at a pension and health fund to approve hundreds of invoices for information technology work that was never done at all. He now stands rightly convicted for depriving hardworking individuals out of millions of dollars of health and retirement benefits.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and evidence presented during the trial in Manhattan federal court:

From 2009 through 2015, RUBANO was the co-head of information technology for the Funds and had the authority to approve the payment of invoices from third-party vendors. Beginning in at least 2009, and continuing through 2015, MAHARAJ and RUBANO devised a scheme in which three different companies MAHARAJ owned or controlled submitted to the Funds invoices for millions of dollars in information technology services that were never performed or that had, in fact, been performed by employees of the Funds or other vendors. RUBANO, in his position as co-head of information technology, approved these fraudulent invoices and received kickbacks from MAHARAJ. MAHARAJ, by submitting hundreds of invoices and recruiting another co-conspirator to receive additional criminal proceeds, fraudulently received in excess of $2 million through this scheme.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/information-technology-consultant-convicted-multimillion-dollar-kickback-scheme
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