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Justin Gatlin: Why is the man who stole Usain Bolt’s thunder so hated?

By on May 14, 2020

first_imgIn the history of sport, you were forced to ponder, had there ever been a champion more universally unloved than Gatlin, the twice doping offender who by winning world 100m gold had ruined one of sport’s great fairytale farewells?It was supposed to be all about Usain Bolt.The idea of the world’s greatest athlete not winning his final individual race was like Olivier fluffing his lines in his final Hamlet or Nureyev taking a tumble in his farewell performance of Swan Lake. Unthinkable.Yet what was really unimaginable, the sport’s doomsday scenario almost, was that as the sport’s spotless “saviour” was bowing out with his first defeat in any 100m final for four years, it would be the much-maligned Gatlin who would cash in.Justin Gatlin’s careerCaptures US and world indoor 60 metres titles in 2003Sprints to 100m title at 2004 Athens Olympics, wins bronze in the 200 and silver in the 4×100 metres relayWins 100m and 200m titles at 2005 world championships in HelsinkiAfter returning from four-year doping ban in 2010, wins world indoor 60m titleWins 100m bronze in London 2012 OlympicsWins 100m silver in 2013 world championshipsWins 2014 Diamond League final in Brussels with personal best of 9.77 secondsImproves personal best to 9.74 in May 2015Wins 100m and 200m silvers in 2015 world championshipsWins 100m silver in 2016 Olympic GamesWins 100m gold at 2017 world championshipsDoping controversiesIn 2001 at US junior championships, fails doping test for amphetamines found in prescribed medication he had been taking since a child for attention deficit disorder. Is given an early reinstatement by the IAAF the following year but warned a second violation would lead to a life ban.Tests positive for male sex hormone testosterone and its precursors at Kansas Relays in April 2006. Details of test do not emerge until Gatlin issues a statement on July 29, 2006. Denies any wrongdoing and his coach claimed the positive test was the result of massage cream containing testosterone being rubbed into his buttocks.Accepts initial eight-year suspension, avoiding a lifetime ban in exchange for his cooperation with the doping authorities, and because of the “exceptional circumstances” surrounding his first positive drug test. Ban was reduced to four years by an arbitration panel in December, 2007.Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejects further appeal in June 2008.Returns to action in July 2010 after suspension ends.Only two years ago, at the Beijing world championships when Bolt outpaced Gatlin for the same title, it was hailed almost as good prevailing over evil.”He saved his title, he saved his reputation, he may have even saved his sport,” screamed Steve Cram, the former 1,500 metres world record holder in the BBC commentary box.So what had changed two years on?In a world where drugs offenders are hardly thin on the ground, the 35-year-old American is still the bete noire of the anti-doping lobby, the man who has never shown any remorse and has thus received special opprobrium.Yet hasn’t it reached almost farcical proportions?On Friday night in the first round, the stadium MC had noted amid all the cat-calling that the pantomime season was Christmas not in August.No matter; Gatlin was already cast in stone as their villain.Yohan Blake, who has also served a drugs ban, was cheered to the rafters when he was introduced for the final but Gatlin just remained stony-faced through all the jeering. He has long become used to it. “I tuned it out,” he said.”I did what I had to do. The people who love me are here cheering for me and my fellow countrymen are cheering at home.”Of course, not all Americans will have been, but even Bolt recognised after Gatlin had won in 9.92 seconds, just three-hundredths of a second ahead of him in the bronze medal position, that this reception did not feel fair.Indeed, in this rarest of defeats, we may have seen the real greatness of Bolt revealed in a way we had never witnessed before.Yes, the world has loved his once-in-a-century gift and his unmatched showmanship in all his triumphs. They have shown him as a great winner.Yet here he showed the world how to lose. With grace and honour. And, yes, forgiveness too.Early in their career, Gatlin had once tried to psyche out Bolt when racing in an adjacent lane by spitting in it.So right from the start, Bolt could have been forgiven for really having it in for the American.Yet even when anti-Gatlin feeling was most rife in the sport a couple of years ago, Bolt never sought to rub it in his foe’s face.Who was the first man congratulate Gatlin on Sunday? Of course, it was the Jamaican who went over to hug him with a genuine embrace.”The first thing he did was congratulate me and say that I didn’t deserve the boos,” Gatlin revealed.”He is an inspiration.”Who could argue with his judgement? Even as he contemplated such an anti-climactic end to his individual career, Bolt was big enough to pay a tribute to Gatlin that swam against the tide of ill-feeling.”He [Gatlin] is a great competitor. You have to be at your best against him,” Bolt said.”I really appreciate competing against him and he is a good person.”Reuterslast_img read more

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Southgate’s waistcoat set for a place in history

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first_imgFootball may not be the only thing ‘coming home’ this month as England boss Gareth Southgate’s World Cup waistcoat is being sought by the Museum of London.Over 300 years since the sleeveless garment was first worn by King Charles II in the English capital, unlikely trendsetter Southgate has made waistcoats popular again.The Three Lions manager has sported a navy blue Marks & Spencer one throughout England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia, which has led to increased sales and more Google searches for the item back home.Actor Hugh Grant tweeted about the piece of clothing ahead of England’s quarter-final victory over Sweden and the following day BBC presenter Andrew Marr opened his show in a waistcoat as a tribute to Southgate.The Museum of London now wants to recognise the garment’s revival by acquiring one of the England boss’ waistcoats for its permanent collection.“Waistcoats were born in London in 1666, promoted by King Charles II,” the museum’s senior fashion curator Beatrice Behlen said.“The new fashion soon spread and for at least 300 years a three-piece suit soon formed a key part of every man’s wardrobe.“Now Watford-born Gareth Southgate is reviving that London tradition and bringing waistcoats home to the forefront of fashion.“This acquisition would be a fantastic addition to our holdings and would come at an exciting time for us while we build the London Collection as we plan the New Museum in West Smithfield.”Southgate himself has laughed off the idea he has become a fashionista.Speaking to the BBC’s World Cup Daily podcast earlier in the tournament, he said: “I’m slightly concerned because as a centre-half who took a lot of knocks to the head I’m not normally synonymous with fashion icons!“I know my strengths and I know I’m no David Beckham!”last_img read more

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Players struggle as heat takes its toll at US Open

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first_imgHow hot is too hot was the subject up for debate at the US Open on Tuesday after brutal conditions took their toll.Four men were unable to complete their matches because of the effects of the heat and humidity, while Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic was also in trouble before recovering to beat Marton Fucsovics.Stefano Travaglia complained he could not walk straight before he pulled the plug against Hubert Hurkacz. Leonardo Mayer and Ricardas Berankis also succumbed while veteran Mikhail Youzhny was consoled by opponent Marcos Baghdatis as he lay stricken on court with cramp.The US Open took the unprecedented step of introducing a heat policy for the men, giving the option of a 10-minute break between the third and fourth sets of matches – the women can take a break between the second and third sets under WTA rules.But several players went further and claimed conditions – with temperatures in the mid-30s and in excess of 50 per cent humidity – were too extreme and that matches should not have been played at all.Julien Benneteau, who defeated Marco Cecchinato, told French reporters: “With this heat and humidity, I think that they shouldn’t play between noon and 4pm. They were lucky. They only had retirements.”Fucsovics was tied at one-set all and up a break on Djokovic when he also began to struggle with the heat, going on to lose 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-0.He said: “It was fun to play in the Arthur Ashe Stadium, the first time for me, first time against Djokovic, but it wasn’t fun to play in the heat. I was dying after each point. It was too hot for tennis. It’s dangerous.”Djokovic called for the doctor during the second set and asked for a bin to be placed next to his seat because he felt so nauseous.He said: “It’s understandable why players were complaining about it because only players know what they were experiencing today on the court. It’s quite tough. It’s really sad to see. There’s so much cramping going on. You don’t want to see that.“You have to be fit, of course. I agree with that. But there are some conditions that are so extreme that, as fit as you are, you can’t just not feel it.”The Australian Open has an extreme heat policy where play on outside courts is suspended if the combination of heat and humidity reaches a particular reading, but it is up to individual tournaments to set their own rules.With temperatures potentially even higher on Wednesday, a US Open spokesman said: “We will be doing this on a case-by-case basis, and so tomorrow we will be making that determination whether we will implement an extreme heat policy for the men for a second time.”At tour events where temperatures are routinely very high, matches often do not start until the evening, and Djokovic would welcome a similar approach here.He said: “The grand slams are different, obviously, because you have so many matches. You have to justify the schedule and tickets and all these things. It’s not as simple as let’s just move one match three, four, five hours later.“At the same time, I am on the players’ side, so I would always support implications of the rules and regulations that would be in favour of players’ health most of all.“Obviously this tournament is famous for its night sessions. I’m sure the schedule of the day wouldn’t be harmed so much if you start a bit later.”The sixth seed said he was in “survival mode” against Fucsovics, and it was only when the Hungarian began to wilt at 4-3 in the third set that Djokovic was able to turn things around.The pair opted to take the 10-minute break, and Djokovic said: “Marton and I were in ice baths next to each other. We were naked in the ice baths and it was a quite wonderful feeling.”Roger Federer had the relative luxury of playing in the night session – although it was still hot – and overwhelmed Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2 6-2 6-4.last_img read more

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No stopping super-fit Will in Charge today

By on January 19, 2020

first_img COULD COME UP SHORT AN eight-pound weight swing and superb form at exercise gives improved WILL IN CHARGE a great chance to turn the tables on SUPERLUMINAL in this afternoon’s Owen Silvera Memorial at a mile, a crack open allowance event with other in-form runners such as the speedster, SIR BUDGET, PINELOPE and versatile run-on sprinter LOTTERY TICKET. SUPERLUMINAL has topweight 57.0 kilos, eight more pounds than April 26 Simply Magic Trophy when he had got the better of unlucky WILL IN CHARGE, who returns at an exact 54.0 kilos. The weight swing is a major plus in WILL IN CHARGE’s favour, plus he had stumbled badly at the start of the nine-furlong race. Even though he recovered to dispute the lead and challenged SUPERLUMINAL at the top of the lane, WILL IN CHARGE weakened close home and lost by a half-length. WILL IN CHARGE and SUPER-LUMINAL won’t have their rematch to themselves, especially with SIR BUDGET set to call the shots for at least the first six furlongs, plus the added factor of LOTTERY TICKET closing from off the pace. Patrick Fong’s filly, PINELOPE, is a class act, but had her first race in almost four months two weeks ago and could come up short in a race with expected sharp early speed, very fit stalkers such as SUPERLUMINAL and WILL IN CHARGE, plus the in-form closer, LOTTERY TICKET. Though LOTTERY TICKET has been closing strongly in her races, even winning impressively at seven furlongs on May 27, she faces a stronger line-up and will find the middle-distance colts too strong in the stretch run. SIR BUDGET won’t stay a mile with near topweight 56.0 kilos, but will certainly carry the field into the lane where the stalkers should pounce. After beating WILL IN CHARGE on April 26, SUPERLUMINAL went up to open allowance and was outclassed by PERFECT NEIGHBOUR at nine furlongs and 25 yards on Labour Day, May 23. This is his first race back, and he has worked reasonably well. However, WILL IN CHARGE has the right combination of mid-race pace and tactical speed to stalk, plus a jockey of Shane Ellis’ calibre, to pounce and last out the stretch run. He continues to improve at exercise, posting 1:12.3 last Sunday morning in a flat six-furlong gallop. The chestnut colt appears to have trained on immensely as a four-year-old. He had also worked superbly for his last race on June 10 and delivered a fast 1:38.4 for a mile, dragged in a staggering six-furlong split of 1:10.4 by SIR BUDGET before getting the upper hand inside the final furlong.last_img read more

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Education Month opportunity

By on January 14, 2020

first_imgSeptember in Guyana traditionally ushers in commemoration events on “Indigenous Heritage” and “Education” by the Government. The latter event usually centres on some aspect of the education curriculum that the Ministry wishes to emphasise. A month ago, one official had signalled they would host a three-day exposition at D’Urban Park to tout the necessity for our students to become more au fait with “STEAMS”. The business community would be roped in to lend their cheque books to the effort.A decade ago, there was a big hue and cry that our students were being left behind because the rest of the world had moved on to concentrate on “STEM” subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – while we were still stuck at the verities of the colonial “3Rs” – Reading, ‘Riting, and “Rithmetic. “STEM” is now the buzzword of every official in the Education sector, and several initiatives have been launched.The most pertinent was the establishment of two additional “vocational” schools in the secondary division — at Leonora and Mahaicony — by the previous administration. These were presumably to signal a commitment to the “technology” and “engineering” components of STEM. But since then, the performances of our secondary school student body in Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) and mathematics — as measured at the SCEC and CAPE examinations — have remained nondescript at best, even though only the “brightest” students are steered in this direction. More depressingly, the “technical” schools are still treated as a dumping ground for those students who are not “bright” enough for the academic streams.The PNC-led APNU-AFC coalition Government threw itself enthusiastically into supporting STEM in schools. However, a private initiative, “STEM Guyana”, was launched with the blessings of First Lady Sandra Granger, which focused on “robotics and computer coding”. They have interacted with a number of schools across Guyana outside the direct direction or involvement of the Ministry of Education. They sent a team to the Global Robotics Championship in Washington DC last year, where they performed credibly. Earlier this year, at a programme introducing STEM Guyana activities to the Bartica and Three Miles (Wismar) Secondary schools, Chief Education Officer Marcel Hudson indicated that the shift to STEM involved a change in teaching methodology, as well as the substantive content of the curriculum.He declared, “As we prepare new generations to live well in a changing world, we recognise that learning by doing is an essential part of education for sustainability. For too long, our children have not been doing well in the classroom because learning would have been reduced to just ‘chalk and talk’, and now we are moving beyond that, because we recognise the importance of our children actively engaging in the process of education delivery.”It would appear that the Education Ministry might be open to the new hands-on approach to teaching STEM, but has not officially integrated it in its national curriculum. Yet, against that background, the ministry evidently saw fit to expand “STEM” to “STEAMS” in the school curriculum with the addition of two new subject areas – “A” for “Art” and “S” for “Spirituality”.One of the conceptualisers of the expansion offered the rationale for the move: “As a rounded person, you need to be someone who is educated, someone with a sense of purpose and morality, and that falls under Spirituality. It is striking a balance between lifestyle, health and education.”This unveiling of STEAMS was, however, cancelled with no official announcement issued until a few days ago. But if STEAMS represented a paradigm shift in the delivery of education in Guyana for the 21st century, if not for the new millennium, surely the excuse offered that the Ministry could not deal with the teachers’ strike and simultaneously put on the three-day exhibition does not say much for the Government’s commitment to conducting a root-and-branch reform of our schools’ curriculum.But all is not lost: September still has two weeks to go. The Education Ministry should immediately initiate a national conversation about STEMS versus STEAMS.last_img read more

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PU&GWU fully supports review of ExxonMobil contract

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first_imgDear Editor,The People’s United and General Workers Union (PU&GWU) sees the move by the APNU/AFC Government to review the 1999 ExxonMobil contract as an excellent and clever one, and the Government should be applauded and fully complimented for such a move, since the Government will have an opportunity to make new proposals that can modify, improve and remove any deficiency that the contract may contained. The contract was made between ExxonMobil and the former PPP/C Government since 1999 (over 17 years ago), we are now in the year 2016 and we have a new government which have the full right to review and make changes to any contract that was signed by the previous Administration and also from the time the contract was made to this year 2016, the price and other conditions surrounding the oil market have changed globally; for example, Venezuela has proven oil reserves in 2013 (297.6 billion barrels), total oil supply in 2012 (thousand barrels per day): 2489.2.Venezuela surpassed Saudi Arabia last year to become the holder of the largest oil reserves in the world but yet still Venezuela is facing serious economic crisis, so having oil is one thing but managing it productively in a sustainable manner is another thing and the APNU/AFC Government needs to take these realities surrounding the oil market, including the Venezuela situation, into deep consideration during the review process of the1999 ExxonMobil contract, etc.Editor, the PU&GWU without the shadow of a doubt is confident that the 1999 ExxonMobil contract needs to be reviewed and modified; hence, the Government needs to make a new draft and enter into negotiation with ExxonMobil so that the contract can be amended to accommodate and include: (a)the Government drafted proposal should provide for ExxonMobil to finance and establish a school in Guyana that will teach, train and equip Guyanese with certificates that will qualify them to be employed with ExxonMobil when the company goes into full operations, etc; (b)the Government draft should include the percentage of Guyanese that will be employed with the company as against how many expatriates will be employed, eg Guyanese should at all times be the higher percentage of employees to be employed with the company; (c) the Government draft should include a clause that provides for Guyanese to enjoy international payment rates, benefits, working conditions and safety standards, etc; and (d) the Government draft should include all international requirements that an oil rig company have to meet to conduct its operations in the oil industry, etc.Editor, when ExxonMobil goes into full operation and production, most of the oil produced by the company may have to be shipped to overseas markets; as such, the APNU/AFC Government without any hesitation should swiftly move in the direction to establish a deepwater harbour at Berbice River, which is an essential point of transit for incoming people and goods. Primarily, deepwater harbours are fundamental to the movement of exports and imports from and to a country.In the Caribbean, the Port of Bridgetown in Barbados has immensely increased trade activities on the island and drastically boosted the tourism sector.Barbados’ deepwater harbour now acts as a homeport for many of the Britain­based cruise ship lines operating in the Caribbean Region, directly impacting the tourism sector and ultimately the economy, owing to the revenue generated from tourists who are almost always willing to spend.The deepwater harbour will not just benefit the ExxonMobil Company to transship its oil, but it will also improve the maritime sector in Guyana and boost business in the shipping sector, generate revenue for the country’s economy, create jobs for Guyanese and strengthen, improve and qualify Guyana’s port to meet international safety and security standards, etc.The Social Protection Ministry’s Labour Department and Guyana’s maritime sector needs to be equipped with safety officers who are exports that have the full knowledge and qualifications as it relates to safety on oil rigs so they can highlight breaches of any safety rules or laws which can endanger the life of workers, etc.In closing, the People’s United and General Workers Union wishes to state that if the APNU/AFC Government does not manage Guyana’s resources properly and also if it does not sign good contracts with foreign companies operating in Guyana, such as ExxonMobil, Guyana can end up in a crisis and Guyana will continue to remain a Third World country, etc.Yours truly,Micah WilliamsGeneral SecretaryThe People’s Unitedand General WorkersUnionlast_img read more

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Neymar leads Samba Boys Copa beat

By on January 11, 2020

first_img0Shares0000Brazil captain Neymar Jr. (left) celebrates scoring against Japan in an international friendly. PHOTO/FILERIO DE JANEIRO, June 9- A resurgent Brazil are determined to bury the memory of last year’s traumatic World Cup campaign as they prepare to regain their crown as the kings of South American football at the Copa America.Brazil’s challenge at the World Cup on home soil was obliterated in a 7-1 semi-final mauling by eventual champions Germany, a result that was compared to the hosts’ infamous defeat to Uruguay in the climax of the 1950 tournament. An emphatic 3-0 defeat to the Netherlands in the third place play-off only added to the mood of disarray surrounding Brazil as the world’s most successful footballing nation came to terms with its early exit.But fast-forward nearly a year, and Brazil are heading into the Copa America in Chile with renewed confidence after a sequence of nine straight wins since the World Cup debacle under the guidance of former captain Dunga.Dunga, who succeeded Luiz Felipe Scolari, has overseen a steady return to winning ways since his reappointment.Brazil’s run of victories has included friendly wins over Colombia, Chile, Argentina and France, with Mexico becoming the latest victims in a 2-0 win in Sao Paulo on Sunday.Dunga, who coached Brazil to their last Copa America win in 2007, believes the form of star striker Neymar is one of the keys to the revival.– Captain marvel –One of Dunga’s first acts last year was to hand the captain’s armband to the Barcelona forward, and the 23-year-old has thrived on the added responsibility.“It is not a surprise, but the statistics are there to show that when Neymar puts on the captain’s armband, he takes a step forward,” Dunga said in March.“He is a player who likes challenges. The more responsibility he has, the more he will develop. He is making history in European football.”Neymar missed Sunday’s friendly with Mexico but will reunite with the squad bristling with confidence after scoring the final goal for Barcelona in their 3-1 Champions League final defeat of Juventus on Saturday.Neymar’s late strike in Berlin was the final act of a superb season for the Spanish treble winners which saw him notch 39 goals.Dunga believes Neymar’s goalscoring performance in the Champions League final augurs well for Brazil’s Copa America campaign.“This is good for Brazilian football as a whole, having a player scoring in the final and winning the Champions League,” Dunga said.While the core of the Brazil squad is the same as the team torn asunder by Germany, Dunga has successfully blooded several new players who could play a part in Chile.Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred, Monaco defender Fabinho and Lazio’s attacking midfielder Felipe Anderson all featured in the win over Mexico on Sunday, which also saw Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho score his first international goal for Brazil.“We are on the right track, though we haven’t got anywhere as yet. We must improve day by day individually and collectively,” Dunga said.Brazil open their Group C campaign against Peru in Temuco on Sunday before a showdown with Colombia on June 17 in Santiago, a rematch of their stormy World Cup quarter-final last year which saw Neymar suffer a fractured vertebra.They then face Venezuela on June 21.If Brazil win Group C they will then face a quarter-final meeting with the runner-up from Group B, potentially either holders Uruguay or Argentina.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

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Man arrested after courthouse bomb threats

By on January 6, 2020

first_imgGLENDALE – Officers have arrested a man who claimed he had put explosives all over the Glendale courthouse, booking him on suspicion of making bomb threats, authorities said. A “suspicious package” that was discovered at the courthouse turned out to be a box of chocolates, Glendale police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said. Officers had blocked off the courthouse this afternoon as a result of the man’s threats. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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Horror flick `30 Days’ is anything but horrible in debut

By on December 30, 2019

first_imgBy David Germain THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The horror tale “30 Days of Night” had three days of box-office bite. The Sony fright flick, with Josh Hartnett leading Alaskans against ravenous vampires that turn up for the prolonged winter darkness, debuted as the weekend’s No. 1 movie with $16 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. 3. “The Game Plan,” $8.1 million 4. “Michael Clayton,” $7.1 million 5. “Gone Baby Gone,” $6 million 6. “The Comebacks,” $5.85 million 7. “We Own the Night,” $5.5 million 8. “Tim Burton’s the Nightmare Before Christmas,” $5.1 million 9. “Rendition,” $4.2 million 10. “The Heartbreak Kid,” $3.9 million160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Audiences continued to choose merriment over misery as the latest crop of sober Academy Awards hopefuls, among them Ben Affleck’s “Gone Baby Gone,” Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal’s “Rendition” and Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro’s “Things We Lost in the Fire,” debuted with so-so to dismal numbers. “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?”, the previous weekend’s No. 1 flick, slipped to second place with $12.1 million, raising its total to $38.9 million. Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters are according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released today. 1. “30 Days of Night,” $16 million 2. “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?”, $12.1 million last_img read more

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LAUSD payroll system’s cost soars

By on December 29, 2019

first_imgDe Le n urged LAUSD officials to “aggressively pursue compensation from Deloitte Consulting,” which was paid $55million to roll out the system smoothly. Officials at de Le n’s office could not be reached for comment. United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy said he thinks it’s the “nature of a dysfunctional organization that prevents (LAUSD) from moving forward.” Teachers union sues district Under terms of the various contracts for the payroll system, third parties, including teachers, cannot sue Deloitte directly for breach of contract. Instead, UTLA sued the district over the problems, but the case was thrown out of court. Arguments in an appeal are to be heard next month, Duffy said. Some members of the LAUSD’s police officers association have also filed a suit that’s still pending against the district. “Even if the case gets thrown out, you make the attempt on behalf of the organization and on behalf of the employees. You do it because it’s the right thing to do,” Duffy said. “The district is foolish if they’re not going ahead with the suit because they hold the strongest chip in the game: They can destroy Deloitte & Touche in the court of public opinion, and they should because Deloitte has destroyed lives and hasn’t delivered what it promised to deliver – accurate checks on time.” But LAUSD general counsel Kevin Reed said district officials are working with Deloitte to resolve the issues and have not yet reached the point of suing. A lawsuit could tie up the process in court for years without any immediate resolution to the problem, officials have said. “We have not reached a moment in which it’s become clear we have to sue them to get the problem fixed,” Reed said. “We’re still at a moment where we’re entitled to presume the good will of the folks at Deloitte and try to make sure the district is going to be made whole and given the benefit of the bargain we have in the contract.” Costs for payroll system ballooning Meanwhile, however, costs for the payroll system are continuing to balloon, and the school board continues to approve consulting contracts to fix the problem. LAUSD’s new chief information officer, Tony Tortorice, who rolled out the same type of electronic system for his former employer, the Los Angeles Community College District, predicted hiring consultants will not stop “for a while.” Tortorice had told the board last week that LAUSD’s original budget was underestimated for implementing a system of such size and complexity. As a general rule, he said, an organization should expect to spend 1percent to 1.5percent of its annual budget for each year of implementation. “Over a three-year period, $300million is not unusual for these types of organizations to experience,” he said. “You can try to spend below that.” The district still has to roll out the third phase of the system, which involves computerized purchase orders. “Much of the problem you’re facing right now is you’re underbudget(ing). Quite frankly, you need to spend this money to have these people on board for remediation. They need these resources,” he told the board last week. But board members questioned the efficiency of spending money for consultants with no stake in the project, no loyalty to the LAUSD and no assurances that they’re doing a good job. “I’m really worried. I’m not an expert, but I think we can do it for less. I can’t agree to $300million for three years. I’m not sold on that just because someone tells me I need to be,” Vladovic said. “This is supposed to support instruction, not drain it.” School board member Tamar Galatzan said the district has taken a piecemeal approach, reacting to each problem with a “never-ending stream of these contracts” and no way to measure success. “I keep questioning all of these costs,” Galatzan said. “I’ve never seen a plan that included all of the consultants, all of the costs, who’s responsible for what, where the money’s coming from, how long it’s going to take. “Nothing exists that resembles a transparent, cohesive plan.” Error rate is dropping But district administrators maintain the system will be stabilized in January. They say errors related to flaws in the system have been worked out and now just human errors remain as employees adjust to the system. The overall district error rate in October was 5.91percent, which dropped to 1.27percent in December. A good indicator of progress is a drop in the number of people going to assistance centers about their checks, administrators said. In early November, 759 people went to a help center, but the number in early December was 237, and most of them did not claim system-generated problems, said Dave Holmquist, LAUSD’s interim chief operating officer. “That’s a good sign that things are well on the road to recovery,” he said. Errors on other employees’ checks have been less than 1percent for months, but problems remain for teachers and other certificated personnel. But Tortorice said the district will not be able to reach its error-rate goal of about 0.5percent on the certificated payroll if it does not simplify the process – namely by eliminating annualized pay. The district is still negotiating with the union to eliminate the process in which LAUSD spreads teachers’ pay for 10 months of work over 12 months so they receive a check year-round. “We know what the defects are, and we continue to work on them, but we need that simplification (of eliminating annualized pay) to have the long-term health of payroll,” Tortorice said. “We’ll never get it to sub-0.5percent without simplification.” Tackling pay and tax forms The teachers union fought for annualized pay for 25 years, and the district made the decision to roll it out in February along with the new system. “They never should have instituted annualized pay the very moment they brought on a new system,” Duffy said. District administrators also insist that the production of end-of-year tax forms, or W-2s, will go smoothly. They claim LAUSD’s gross overpayment to employees is about $53million, with about $15million currently outstanding. About 60 percent of people contacted for overpayment have either paid back the district or agreed to pay it back, totaling about $14million. But the district has already lost about $6million in waiving payment for employees who owed $250 or less because it would cost the district that amount to recoup the money, Tortorice said. And LAUSD officials are also scrambling to correct faulty reports to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System so there is no negative effect on the retirement accounts of current and retired employees. Holmquist said the district has learned it “rolled this out too fast.” “We didn’t spend enough time preparing for (the) rollout,” Holmquist said. “We did it too quickly, and we risked a lot, and we went live all at once, and we’ve been playing catch-up ever since.” naush.boghossian@dailynews.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “There’s going to be a Judgment Day when all of this is over,” said school board member Richard Vladovic, who represents the South Bay’s District 7. “There’s been more spent than we know, and I’m sure there are other ancillary costs such as the overtime, the additional processing and the communications. “It’s bigger than we all believe. We need to look at it totally. I want an accounting of everything – every nook and cranny,” Vladovic added. Some say many of the school board’s closed sessions in recent months have been dominated by discussions trying to get to the bottom of who is to blame for the fiasco. It’s “imperative that the district seek cost recovery against this vendor,” Assemblyman Kevin de Le n wrote in a letter last week to Superintendent David Brewer III. Ten months after installing a new computerized payroll process that has been roiled by glitches, Los Angeles Unified officials now say costs for fixing the system and completing its rollout could top $210million. The system, with an original price tag of $95million, has underpaid or overpaid thousands of employees, and last week district officials said hiring consultants to fix it has already caused the cost to balloon to $132.5million. And some officials are questioning the district’s transparency on all the costs associated with the system, noting that at least $6million will be forfeited by allowing some overpaid teachers to keep the money. Some are also questioning why the district has not yet sued the company that rolled out the system. The state Legislature has begun to lean on school officials to recover at least $10million that Deloitte Consulting has spent to hire a consultant to address the problems. last_img read more

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