by Ben Kinsley I, along with many Vermonters, read recently that the State Board of Education and its chair Stephan Morse were declaring victory for the controversial Education law known as Act 46. It “has been a huge success and does not require significant revision,” Morse said. Having followed Act 46 very closely through the Legislature and hundreds of hours of testimony, I was astounded. Act 46 is hardly a “huge success” by any objective measure. It is unlikely that we will have any reliable data on Act 46’s success until several years after the 2019 implementation date.Act 46 set out with two prominent goals which, to be objective, must be used to measure its success: reducing the cost of education delivery and improving outcomes of students. Research data from Campaign for Vermont Prosperity indicates that larger districts are unlikely to produce cost savings or better outcomes. In fact, the State Board of Education (SBE) has now admitted that Act 46 isn’t going to save any money.Seemingly obvious to anyone present for Act 46 discussions was this unwritten goal: making Vermont’s education governance structure easier to manage from the state level. This was clear if you look at the primary sponsors of the legislation: the Vermont Agency of Education, the principals and superintendents associations, and the SBE, i.e. the administrators of Vermont’s education system. Even using this measure, however, Act 46 appears to be struggling. Progress on reducing administrative entities has been slow and halting.The merger law is approaching the half way point for the “voluntary” consolidation period. To date, only two districts have voted to merge (both of which used the MUDD process, not the ACT 46 process) and only 14 out of 62 supervisory unions have merger plans in place. To put the SBE’s “huge success” claim in perspective, it is akin to a football team declaring victory with five minutes to go in the second quarter when they are on their own 25 yard line and 0-0 on the score board.So what are Stephan Morse and the State Board of Education talking about? Here’s a thought: they have been pursuing district consolidations since 2009 with Act 153 and the RED process – the same year Morse joined the SBE. Only one district merged, so they made it easier and added more incentives with the MUDD process in 2011. Again, only one district merged, so in 2014 they made the consolidation process mandatory and added a 10 cent tax reduction for districts who jumped onboard early. Compared to their previous failed consolidation efforts, perhaps 14 merger plans can be considered a victory for the State Board, but it is certainly not a victory for local school boards, property taxpayers, orthe students they are supposed to be serving. Nay, where the real victory is for Stephan Morse and his board is the fact that they have finally gotten school districts to start consolidating by themselves.Benjamin Kinsley is Executive Director of Campaign for Vermont Prosperity and a native Vermonter and graduate of Norwich University. He is committed to government reforms in transparency, accountability, and sustainability and has been outspoken on issues ranging from local control to animal rights.
Roeland Park continues to work to spur a development on the former Roeland Park pool site.A water main extension to serve Roeland Park’s development at the old pool site, known as The Rocks, was approved Monday by councilmembers. The extension work, which is not to exceed $120,000, will be completed by WaterOne in conjunction with water line work needed for the Aldi store reconstruction.A rendering commissioned by Roeland Park demonstrating mixed-use opportunities on the former pool site.Joining Aldi’s water line work provides the city with a cost-savings opportunity, said Mayor Mike Kelly. The work will be paid through the city’s TIF 3 district fund, which has current balance of $280,000.The city initially hoped the water extension cost would be covered by a developer at The Rocks, said city administrator Keith Moody.“We hadn’t anticipated doing a water line improvement ourselves,” Moody said. “We had anticipated when development would occur the developer would pay for that water line extension.”Moody said the city will be asking WaterOne what type of lines they recommend based on the different kinds of businesses that could occupy the site. For example hotels requires service that provides more than 1,500 gallons per minute, Moody said.During a January ad-hoc development committee meeting a potential developer presented a $60 million investment concept where they would market The Rocks to companies that would occupy the site for various uses like senior cooperative housing, multi-family with structured parking, restaurant, hotel, or a coffee shop.The city has also received some interest from Zip KC and Sunflower Hotel, but the businesses did not follow through with formal offers.
Bar must address lawyers’ perception of judges The worst that could happen is if the profession ‘becomes a lukewarm torch-bearer’ for an independent judiciary Bar must address lawyers’ perception of judges Theresa E. Davis Assistant Editor President Hank Coxe is troubled that 40 percent of the Bar says the competency and fitness of the state’s judiciary is fair or poor, and that opinion begs the question, “How do we deal with that?”Addressing a gathering of young lawyer organizations at the recent Young Lawyers Division’s Annual Affiliate Outreach Conference in Ponte Vedra, Coxe also discussed lawyers’ Web sites, regulating the profession, and the growing need to mentor new lawyers.Coxe said the Bar’s latest Membership Opinion Survey found 40 percent of lawyer respondents statewide said the competency and fitness of the judges in their region are fair or poor. Forty-five percent of respondents in South Florida rated their judges’ competency and fitness level at fair or poor, and between 36 and 37 percent said the same for the rest of the state, Coxe said.“That’s a significant issue for this profession, and the judiciary is aware of those statistics,” Coxe said, adding that the bench and Bar are working to explore why lawyers feel that way.Coxe said while lawyers have an obligation to “carry the torch” for the Constitution, the judiciary, and the three branches of government, the worst that could happen is if the profession “becomes a lukewarm torch-bearer” for an independent judiciary. “We need to make sure that it’s done with the same level of enthusiasm that the profession has a right to demand from its members,” Coxe said. Web Sites Coxe also said that in response to a request from the Supreme Court, the Board of Governors has tentatively approved an advertising rule amendment regulating attorney Web sites.Abandoning an earlier proposal that would have required lawyers to use technology to block unlimited access to interior pages of their Web sites, a new proposal exempts those interior pages from some advertising regulations if disclaimers are made. The rule would require that the home page, or opening page of an attorney Web site, comply with all Bar advertising rules, except the requirement that it be submitted for review.Coxe said his office was “bombarded” with complaints from members saying that the earlier proposal would be “financially brutal to a small practitioner, and too complicated to deal with.” The new alternative, he said, addresses the concerns of small firms that any Bar ad rule on Web sites not be prohibitively expensive, which would prevent them from competing with large firms.The board is soliciting input from Bar members on the new proposal and will give final consideration to the rule at its March 30 meeting in Tampa. Any rule approved by the board will be submitted to the Supreme Court, which will have the last say.“I think we have struck a balance that is going to be acceptable to everyone and then, hopefully, acceptable to the Supreme Court,” Coxe said. Mentoring Coxe said mentoring can help less experienced lawyers navigate paths not taken in law school. Historically, said Coxe, law schools have said that it is not now — nor will it ever be — their responsibility to teach people how to be lawyers, and he is concerned about new lawyers and recent graduates who are going into solo practice or to small firms without the benefit of mentors.“Everybody in this room, I suspect, has had the benefit of having someone that they could turn to,” said Coxe, adding that while the YLD’s Practicing with Professionalism seminar is heralded throughout the country as a way to bridge the gap between school and practice, it does not address the need for young lawyers to have someone to turn to immediately for guidance.“I do believe we are headed, very soon, to mandatory mentoring,” Coxe said, adding that he believes the Supreme Court will be “sympathetic” to that message. “To me, it seems only fair that we do for these people what all of us had done for us,” Coxe said. Lawyer Regulation Coxe also told the young lawyers that regulating the state’s 80,000 lawyers is a major undertaking for the Bar, costing upward of $10.5 million annually. And with the Bar adding about 2,000 new members per year, it’s anticipated there will be more than 100,000 members within the next 10 years. March 1, 2007 Regular News
Share Email Pinterest Scientists at Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden have discovered a new explanation for severe early infant epilepsy. Mutations in the gene encoding the protein KCC2 can cause the disease, hereby confirming an earlier theory. The findings are being published in the journal Nature Communications.Through large-scale genetic analyses of a family with two affected children at SciLifeLab in Stockholm, mutations were identified in the gene encoding the transport protein KCC2. In a collaboration with scientists at the University College London, another family with children carrying mutations in the same gene was further identified. Two of the children in each family demonstrated similar symptoms that can be connected to a severe variant of infant epilepsy with MPSI (Migrating Partial Seizures of Infancy).“Epilepsy occurs in many different forms. Earlier associations with KCC2 have been observed, such as a down-regulation of the protein after brain damage that increases the tendency for seizures, but firm evidence for this disease mechanism has been lacking so far”, says Anna Wedell, senior physician at Karolinska University Hospital and professor at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at Karolinska Institutet. “Through our discovery we have been able to prove that a defective function of the KCC2 protein causes epilepsy and hence that an imbalance in the brain’s chloride ion regulation system can be the reason behind the disease. The next step is to investigate to which extent this imbalance occurs in more common variants of epilepsy.” Share on Twitter LinkedIn Share on Facebook KCC2 constitutes a chloride channel specifically localized in the brain and have earlier been shown to play a major role in synaptic inhibition by maintaining a low concentration of chloride ions inside the neurons. Normally the amount of KCC2 increases shortly after birth, causing the signal substance GABA to switch from being stimulating to being inhibitory.“Mutations in the gene encoding KCC2 prevent this switch which makes GABA remain stimulatory, incapable of inhibiting the signals of the brain”, says Dr. Wedell. “The neurons then discharge at times, when they normally should not, giving rise to epilepsy.”By conducting detailed investigations of cells expressing both the normal and the mutated forms of KCC2, the scientists demonstrated that the identified mutations led to disrupted chloride ion regulation and that an imbalance in this system thus brings about severe infant epilepsy, a potentially treatable disease.“Clinical trials are ongoing with a drug that, if successful, will compensate for the disrupted regulation and ameliorate the disease in small children with epilepsy, says Dr. Wedell.”
Share on Twitter Pinterest At least you’re not alone. Over 80 percent of college students we surveyed have experienced it. However, if it’s happening a lot – more than once a day – it could be a sign that you’re psychologically dependent on your cellphone.There’s no question that cellphones are part of the social fabric in many parts of the world, and some people spend hours each day on their phones. Our research team recently found that most people will fill their downtime by fiddling with their phones. Others even do so in the middle of a conversation. And most people will check their phones within 10 seconds of getting in line for coffee or arriving at a destination.Clinicians and researchers still debate whether excessive use of cellphones or other technology can constitute an addiction. It wasn’t included in the latest update to the DSM-5, the American Psychiatric Association’s definitive guide for classifying and diagnosing mental disorders.But given the ongoing debate, we decided to see if phantom buzzes and rings could shed some light on the issue.A virtual drug?Addictions are pathological conditions in which people compulsively seek rewarding stimuli, despite the negative consequences. We often hear reports about how cellphone use can be problematic for relationships and for developing effective social skills.One of the features of addictions is that people become hypersensitive to cues related to the rewards they are craving. Whatever it is, they start to see it everywhere. (I had a college roommate who once thought that he saw a bee’s nest made out of cigarette butts hanging from the ceiling.)So might people who crave the messages and notifications from their virtual social worlds do the same? Would they mistakenly interpret something they hear as a ring tone, their phone rubbing in their pocket as a vibrating alert or even think they see a notification on their phone screen – when, in reality, nothing is there?A human malfunctionWe decided to find out. From a tested survey measure of problematic cellphone use, we pulled out items assessing psychological cellphone dependency. We also created questions about the frequency of experiencing phantom ringing, vibrations and notifications. We then administered an online survey to over 750 undergraduate students.Those who scored higher on cellphone dependency – they more often used their phones to make themselves feel better, became irritable when they couldn’t use their phones and thought about using their phone when they weren’t on it – had more frequent phantom phone experiences.Cellphone manufacturers and phone service providers have assured us that phantom phone experiences are not a problem with the technology. As HAL 9000 might say, they are a product of “human error.”So where, exactly, have we erred? We are in a brave new world of virtual socialization, and the psychological and social sciences can barely keep up with advances in the technology.Phantom phone experiences may seem like a relatively small concern in our electronically connected age. But they raise the specter of how reliant we are on our phones – and how much influence phones have in our social lives.How can we navigate the use of cellphones to maximize the benefits and minimize the hazards, whether it’s improving our own mental health or honing our live social skills? What other new technologies will change how we interact with others?Our minds will continue to buzz with anticipation.By Daniel J. Kruger, Research Assistant Professor, University of MichiganThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. LinkedIn Email Share Share on Facebook Have you ever experienced a phantom phone call or text? You’re convinced that you felt your phone vibrate in your pocket, or that you heard your ring tone. But when you check your phone, no one actually tried to get in touch with you. You then might plausibly wonder: “Is my phone acting up, or is it me?”Well, it’s probably you, and it could be a sign of just how attached you’ve become to your phone.
Komatsu Europe International N.V. has introduced the PC290LC/NLC-11 hydraulic excavator to the European market.Built on proven EU Stage IIIB engine technology, Komatsu’s EU Stage IV engines are productive, dependable and efficient. With a net 159 kW (213 HP) @ 2.050 rpm and operating weights between 29.850 kg – 30.950 kg, the PC290LC/NLC-11 maintains the powerful performance of the previous Komatsu PC290 model.Vince Porteous, Product Manager at Komatsu Europe International, said: “This new excavator does so much more than simply meet EU Stage IV emission regulations: it offers significant advances in fuel consumption, provides 3G communications, improves operator comfort and includes new safety features.”The PC290LC/NLC-11 features a heavy-duty undercarriage and maintains the same high lift capacity and lateral stability as the prior model. The operator can easily select Lift Mode to raise hydraulic pressure and increase lifting force by up to 7%.
James Naish , of Naish Estate Agents & Solicitors in York, is a qualified chartered surveyor and solicitor Panel reshuffles present a real threat to small conveyancing firms. We might consider the longer-term implications by reviewing what has happened in residential surveying. If I need a mortgage to buy a house, I must have the house valued by my lender’s panel surveyor. If I want it surveyed, I am free to instruct any surveyor, but that surveyor cannot provide the lender’s mortgage valuation and so I would have to pay two sets of fees. It is therefore cheaper for me to upgrade my mortgage valuation to a homebuyer’s report or survey through my lender. Their panel surveyor will carry out a single inspection. I am effectively forced by the lender to use their panel surveyor. The upshot is that local independent surveyors tend not to undertake enough work for clients who need a mortgage to buy a house. The volume of work available to these independent surveyors is therefore minimal and there are very few of them. Do clients benefit? No. They lose the freedom to appoint a local surveyor and usually end up paying more to the lender. Moreover, their valuation/survey will probably be carried out by a surveyor based miles away. Do panel surveyors benefit? The shareholder owners might, but individual surveyors often work for large companies only. Even those that share profit are not so well off because they receive only a portion of what clients pay to the mortgage company. This leaves us with the lenders. They do benefit, by receiving an arrangement fee for every instruction that they insist is arranged though them. They channel all residential work through a limited number of huge panel surveying companies or associations, thereby controlling pricing and arrangement fees. They do not care about service quality, because their interests are secured against people’s houses or by the surveyors’ indemnity insurance. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors regrettably allowed estate agency to escape its regulatory clutches, and lenders have forced all valuation and survey work towards big panel associations. So ambitious and entrepreneurial surveyors choose not to go into residential. Bright young trainee surveyors are either not interested or struggle to get the necessary training. And all for what? Because nobody took on the lenders when they had the chance. In a few years time, there will not be many residential surveyors left. It’s a time bomb made by the lenders which might just blow up in their faces. They need qualified chartered surveyors and always will. Both the government and Law Society must act. If they do not, in 10 years or earlier, borrowers will be forced to arrange their legal work through the lenders, who will pocket a nice arrangement fee each time. The legal work will be carried out by unqualified case handlers for ever smaller fees, under the supervision of ever fewer experienced solicitors who can actually certify title, from a factory office building in a city miles from the properties they deal with. There might be fewer fraud claims, but there will be far more negligence claims. The interests of solicitors, their clients and, in the long term, the lenders, will not be better served. The insurers also have a vested interest here. Moreover, given the huge combined market share of the Santander and Lloyds groups, are they not exploiting their position as market leaders? Good, smaller conveyancing practices on the high street will be put out of business or forced to close, followed in years to come by larger high street firms. New practices will not be able to get going if they are only given 12 months to prove they can put ‘significant business’ through the lenders in question. The cost to firms and their partners who rely on conveyancing and who have been removed from the panels is not just closure of their practices. Indemnity insurance rules require six years’ runoff cover. The lenders are moving towards control of the conveyancing market, just as they control the survey and valuation market. Neither is satisfactory to the public, solicitors, insurers or, ultimately, lenders.
Howard Smith Ltd of Australia announced on August 10 that it had signed heads of agreement for the sale of its A Goninan & Co Ltd rolling stock business to engineering company United Group Ltd. Expected to generate proceeds of A$130m for Howard Smith, the sale is due to be completed this month, subject to the purchaser raising A$45m in equity. Of this, A$20m is being subscribed by GE Equity to give it a 14% share in United Group, which has agreed a three-year deal to allow Goninan to continue as GE’s Australian licensee for locomotive technology.Dr Ken Moss, Managing Director of Howard Smith Ltd, said that the sale of Goninan was part of ’a major restructuring of our portfolio’. The proceeds would be used to reduce debt and provide better support for Howard Smith’s distribution and towage activities, he added. Recent contracts obtained by Goninan include maintenance of 107 locomotives for Freight Victoria over 10 years for A$120m, and supply of 109 wagon bodies to BHP Iron Ore at Port Headland for A$6·5m. BHP has recently taken delivery of eight GE AC6000 locomotives in a deal worth A$36m to Goninan including long-term support.
Europe: Sqills is providing its S3 Passenger sales, distribution and reservation suite for Eurostar. Director Bart van Munster said this would offer ‘interesting’ new interfaces with ticketing and reservation systems from the UK’s Association of Train Operating Companies, air global distribution systems and SNCF’s PAO API. Wavestone is providing project management and business consultancy support. Germany: DB has extended its long-term distribution agreement with Amadeus, which will continue the distribution of DB products through its Amadeus Rail Web Services and Amadeus Cytric Travel & Expense networks. UK: Transport for London has awarded Paragon ID a £2·2m contract to continue to manufacture Oyster smart cards.
Bucks guard George Hill said after Blake’s shooting that he felt players shouldn’t have come to Disney. The lone match played was between Orlando City and Nashville SC. Added Jeanie Buss, the governor of the Lakers, in a tweet: “I stand behind our players, today and always. After more than 400 years of cruelty, racism and injustice, we all need to work together to say enough is enough.” “NBA playoff games for today will not be played as scheduled. We are hopeful to resume games either Friday or Saturday. There is a videoconference call meeting scheduled later this afternoon between a group of NBA players and team governors representing the 13 teams in Orlando, along with representatives from the National Basketball Players Association and the league office and NBA Labor Relations Committee Chairman Michael Jordan, to discuss next steps.” Many players wrestled for weeks about whether it was even right to play, fearing that a return to games would take attention off the deaths of, among others, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in recent months. Players had been discussing boycotting games in the bubble after the shooting of Blake in Kenosha. More discussions among players on teams still in the bubble were scheduled Wednesday, presumably on how — or if — to go forward with the season, but even before that the Bucks apparently decided they would act. The reverberations quickly moved into Major League Baseball, the WNBA and Major League Soccer, and even professional tennis with Naomi Osaka foregoing the semis for the Southern Open on Thursday. The Milwaukee Brewers’ home game with the Cincinnati Reds was called off, by player decision, as was the Seattle Mariners’ game against the San Diego Padres. WNBA players chose not to play their three regular-season games scheduled for Wednesday in Bradenton, Florida. Later in the evening, five of the six MLS games that were scheduled to be played Wednesday were called off. In the WNBA bubble, Washington was set to play Atlanta, Minnesota was going to face Los Angeles and Connecticut was going to meet Phoenix. Players from the Mystics, Dream, Sparks and Lynx were talking on the court for about an hour deciding whether to play or not. The decision was announced shortly before the expected 7 p.m. Eastern tip for the Mystics and Dream. “Today we stand united with the NBA Office, the National Basketball Players Association, the Milwaukee Bucks and the rest of the league condemning bigotry, racial injustice and the unwarranted use of violence by police against people of color,” the Magic and its ownership group, the DeVos family, said in a statement. ORIGINAL STORY: Less than two hours later, the Bucks wouldn’t take the floor. “We stand in solidarity with the Black community, with our players, our city and our fans in the fight against injustice,” the statement said. “We must use our voices to be the change.” UPDATE: The Celtics and Toronto Raptors met Tuesday to discuss boycotting Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, which had been scheduled for Thursday. Members of the National Basketball Players Association were also part of those meetings, and Miami forward Andre Iguodala—a union officer—said around 2:15 p.m. that he did not believe a boycott plan had been finalized. Magic players and referees were on the basketball court for the game but Milwaukee never took the floor. The National Basketball Referees Association said it “stands in solidarity with our players’ decision to boycott tonight’s games” and the National Basketball Players Association tweeted that the “revolution will be televised.” Dream player Elizabeth Williams read a statement on ESPN saying that the “consensus is not to play in tonight’s games. We stand in solidarity with our brothers in the NBA.” Williams is the secretary of the players’ union. “We weren’t given advanced notice about the decision but we are happy to stand in solidarity with Milwaukee, Jacob, and the entire NBA community,” Orlando guard Michael Carter-Williams said. “Change is coming.” Players from MLS games between Atlanta United and Inter Miami, FC Dallas and Colorado, Portland and San Jose, Real Salt Lake and LAFC, and the LA Galaxy and Seattle all decided not to play in solidarity. There are three other playoff games scheduled Thursday. It was unclear if they would be affected. Several NBA players, including the Lakers’ LeBron James, tweeted out messages demanding change and the Boston Celtics’ official Twitter account did the same. All four teams took a knee at center court right before leaving the court. Atlanta United released a statement before its scheduled game against Inter Miami in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The players all gathered on the field before the game, arm in arm. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was fatally shot when police officers burst into her Louisville, Kentucky apartment using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation on March 13. The warrant was in connection with a suspect who did not live there and no drugs were found. Then on May 25, Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into the Black man’s neck for nearly eight minutes—all captured on a cell phone video. “We’re the ones getting killed,” Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who is Black, said in an emotional postgame speech Tuesday night. “We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that were denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. And all you do is keep hearing about fear. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back. And it’s just, it’s really so sad.” Called off: Games between Milwaukee and Orlando, Houston and Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland. The NBA said all three games would be rescheduled, yet did not say when. Demanding societal change and ending racial injustice has been a major part of the NBA’s restart at Walt Disney World. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” is painted on the arena courts, players are wearing messages urging change on their jerseys and coaches are donning pins demanding racial justice as well. All three NBA playoff games scheduled for Wednesday were postponed, with players around the league choosing to boycott in their strongest statement yet against racial injustice. “We fully support our players and the decision they made,” Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan said in a joint statement. “Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them. The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us. Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change.” The dramatic series of moves began when the Bucks—the NBA’s team from Wisconsin, a state rocked in recent days by the shooting by police of Jacob Blake, a Black man—didn’t take the floor for their playoff game against the Magic. The teams were set to begin Game 5 of their series shortly after 4 p.m., with the Bucks needing a win to advance to the second round. The Bucks remained in their locker room past 6 p.m., more than two hours after they made the decision to boycott. It was not immediately clear why they were staying in the arena. NBA Executive Vice President Mike Bass issued the following statement regarding NBA playoff games: NBPA President Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder and guard Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets were seen emerging from a conversation, not long before it became known that their teams also decided to not play their scheduled game Wednesday. “When you talk about boycotting a game, everyone’s antenna goes up,” Iguodala said. “It’s sad you have to make threats like that—I wouldn’t say threats—but you have to be willing to sacrifice corporate money for people to realize there’s a big problem out there.”