by Anne Galloway vtdigger.org In September USDA Rural Development stopped making rental assistance payments to Housing Vermont for a 13-unit subsidized housing project in Springfield because it ran out of money at the end of the federal government’s fiscal year, according to report on the New Yorker blog by Kirk Kardashian, a former freelancer for VTDigger.Now that the fiscal year has come to a close and the U.S. House Republicans have refused to fund the government into the new fiscal year, there is no predicting when the bloodletting for Housing Vermont, a Burlington-based affordable housing nonprofit, will end.The $13,000 a month mortgage bills, however, haven’t stopped piling up, Kardashian reports. Low-income residents pay $3,000 a month toward the cost; the rest is made up for by Housing Vermont, which at this point is drawing money from the capital fund to make the payments.‘HUB’ VOGELMANN, CONSERVATIONIST AND RESEARCHER, DIESThe Associated Press reports that University of Vermont professor Hubert Vogelmann died on Friday. Vogelman was the first researcher to determine that pollution from coal-fired power plants in the Midwest were acidifying soil on Camel’s Hump and causing tree species to decline.Vogelman was a professor at the university from 1955 to 1991. He led the botany department for 16 years and founded the UVM Field Naturalist program, according to an obituary that appeared in the Burlington Free Press.Vogelmann co-founded the Vermont Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, which has preserved 183,000 acres of forest and farmland in the state.A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Saturday at Ira Allen Chapel, UVM.UVM SEEKS LEGAL ADVICE REGARDING BENEFIT CUTS FOR SODEXO WORKERSThe University of Vermont is reviewing its contract with Sodexo to determine whether it has any say over the company’s decision to cut health care benefits to food service workers. Sodexo, a dining services vendor for UVM and the Vermont State Colleges, has about 800 employees statewide, 320 of whom work at the university.Sodexo has redefined full-time employment as an average of 30 hours per week over the course of a year. Employees who don’t meet the new threshold are no longer eligible for medical insurance and stand to lose paid sick days. Many of the company’s employees in Vermont would be affected by the change because fewer workers are needed during the three-month summer break for college students.On Wednesday, Taylor Dobbs of Vermont Public Radio (a former VTDigger intern) reported that the UVM faculty union and a student group petitioned the president of the university, Thomas Sullivan, to intervene on behalf of the Sodexo employees.Sullivan said no decision had yet been made on the matter. Richard Cate, UVM’s chief fiscal officer, said in a statement on Thursday that the issues are complex and the university cannot reach a conclusion about what, if any, steps it should take until its legal counsel has review its contract with Sodexo.The faculty’s demands come a month after UVM professor Philip Baruth sent a letter to Annie Noonan, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor, to investigate whether Sodexo had violated labor rules. In a memo to Baruth, Noonan said Sodexohadn’t done anything illegal.
September 1, 2008 Nancy Kinnally Regular News Foundation benefits from cy pres award Foundation benefits from cy pres award Special to the NewsA settlement that could have meant a few pennies to nearly eight million people instead will mean a shot at justice for hundreds of Floridians who otherwise might have languished in substandard housing, abusive relationships, or unsafe working conditions. Those are just a few of the situations legal aid attorneys confront on behalf of their clients every day in Florida, and a $295,000 cy pres award secured for The Florida Bar Foundation August 12 by Tampa attorney John Yanchunis will go a long way toward supporting the work of those who represent the state’s most vulnerable citizens.As class counsel in a suit involving tiny overcharges applied to a large class of consumers, Yanchunis recommended The Florida Bar Foundation as the recipient of the settlement, given the impracticality of locating all the members of the class and refunding them what would have amounted to less than 4 cents each.“Since the injury arose from a consumer class action, and The Florida Bar Foundation has as its charge the funding of legal services for people who can’t afford it, I thought it would be the closest connection to the way in which the injury to the class arose,” Yanchunis said.Both the defense counsel and the judge presiding in the case agreed, and when all was said and done, Yanchunis, a senior partner with James Hoyer Newcomer and Smiljanich, was the subject of a barrage of appreciative e-mails from Bar Foundation board members all over the state.“Countless families will silently bless him for his endeavors,” wrote board member Roberto Pardo of Miami. “We are all better people for knowing him and his philanthropic heart.”The term cy pres comes from the French, “ cy pres comme possible, ” meaning “as near as possible,” and the doctrine is often applied in class action cases in which full restitution to all injured parties is either impossible or infeasible, such as when the amount of damage per person is insignificant even though the aggregate damages are large. It can also be employed in probate matters when gifts fail, or in the area of charitable trusts.Under cy pres, the courts can approve a charitable donation out of unclaimed class action funds, or a direct grant in lieu of damages to an organization that could vindicate class member rights in the future. In practice, cy pres prevents a windfall to the defendant while serving to deter future violations.The recent cy pres award is not the first for The Florida Bar Foundation. Florida Bar Past President Tod Aronovitz of Miami directed two cy pres awards to the foundation. Those cases involved the overbilling of consumers and wrongful business practices.Aronovitz believes there is an obvious connection between the members of consumer class actions and the people served by the foundation.“In approving a final settlement, courts examine whether the cy pres award is fair and reasonable and if the recipient is appropriate for the award,” Aronovitz said. “In many consumer class action cases, the class of consumers is typical of the underprivileged Floridians who receive Florida Bar Foundation[-funded] legal assistance.“It’s a natural marriage. There are so many attorneys in Florida who know and understand the great work of The Florida Bar Foundation. And it’s hard to find an attorney in Florida who doesn’t think that The Florida Bar Foundation is the premiere organization that funds programs and protects the rights of underprivileged Floridians who need legal services.”Miami attorney Alan Greer frequently represents the defense in class action suits. While he believes cy pres is a good concept, he cautions that attorneys have to walk a fine line to ensure that it is not attacked as a vehicle to fund something other than the members of the injured class.“Having said that, when you have money that you don’t know what to do with, having it go to something like The Florida Bar Foundation where it can do real good is a wonderful idea, as opposed to having it go back by default into a government treasury or just sit there unclaimed.”Greer said defendants, who are after all the ones whose money is going out, will want to have a say in where it goes.Tampa attorney Kathleen McLeroy, president of The Florida Bar Foundation, said the foundation has some flexibility in the way it uses cy pres awards.“The foundation is willing to explore opportunities to tailor cy pres awards to the groups, populations, or geographic areas most closely associated with a class action,” McLeroy said. “Our grantees address the needs of a wide array of Florida citizens and consumers. In addition to traditional legal aid, the foundation funds projects designed to strengthen the administration of justice for children as well as adults, which can include ensuring consumer protections.” Nancy Kinnally is the director of communications for The Florida Bar Foundation and may be reached by calling (407) 843-0045, ext. 103 or via e-mail at Nancy@flabarfndn.org.
CBRE has completed the sale of two office condominiums at the Fairways at Superstition Springs Village located at 2500 S. Power Rd. in Mesa, Ariz. The units, which totaled 8,100 square feet, commanded a sale price of $955,000.Andrew Fosberg with CBRE’s Phoenix office negotiated the sale on behalf of the seller, Diego Rodriguez of Coral Gables, Fla. The buyer was Gilbert, Ariz.-based La Familia Management and was represented by Bob Winegar and Lance Richards with Pierpont Realty Group.The property is one of 20 free-standing office buildings at the Fairways at Superstition Springs. Fully leased at time of sale, the building’s tenant mix includes Wells Fargo Advisors; American Family Insurance; Goodale Law Firm, a locally owned divorce and family law practice; and Dahn Yoga & Health Centers, Inc., a national leader in health and wellness.The Fairways at Superstition Springs is 20-building office complex comprised of condo-style buildings totaling 102,900 SF. The one- and two-story buildings offer variable floor plans as well as views of the nearby Superstition Springs Golf Club. The property benefits from proximity to extensive retail and restaurant amenities as well as access to US Highway 60.
The Washington Post:There’s no way around it. I throw like a girl.Luckily, it’s not difficult to avoid situations in which throwing is required, and I’ve managed to do it successfully my entire adult life. Except that one time.A decade or so ago, in New York, a ball came flying over an 18-foot schoolyard fence just as I was passing by. There was no one I could hand it off to, and a gaggle of fifth-graders was waiting for me to toss it back. I had so little faith in my overarm throwing that I had to go underhand. The squeal of brakes was my first indication that the ball had ended up behind me, in the middle of Columbus Avenue. The best I can say about this incident is that nobody got hurt.I know I’m not the only woman with that kind of story. As much as the expression grates, girls do, in general, throw like girls.Read the whole story: The Washington Post More of our Members in the Media >
COVID-19 diagnoses in New Mexico. The bars show the number of new diagnoses versus day, and the line shows the seven-day average. Created by Eli Ben-Naim
The Transocean Leader semi-submersible drilling rig was issued with an Acknowledgement of Compliance (AOC) by the PSA in December 2004. As a step in the follow-up of the rig owner’s compliance with regulatory requirements and the preconditions for the AOC, the PSA has conducted an audit in the logistics domain. It covers materials handling, lifting equipment and the safe use thereof.The audit was carried out between 21 and 28 August 2014, in the form of a meeting with the rig owner, Transocean Offshore Ltd NUF (Transocean), followed by verification on board Transocean Leader while it was operating for Statoil on the Njord field.The audit revealed non-conformities relating to: Management and follow-up of safe use of lifting equipment; Management of “enterprise of competence” verification; Unsecured lifting equipment; Technical conditions.In addition, improvement points were detected in connection with: Elastic forerunners for MOB boat; Practical performance of lifting operations; Hinged deck hatches; Emergency operation of lifting equipment.[mappress]Press Release The Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) has carried out an audit of the Transocean, in respect of logistics on the Transocean Leader semi-submersible drilling rig.
Globalisation has been firing on all cylinders over the last three decades, largely led by US purchasing power and the huge growth seen in the emerging markets – China especially. As economies grow, the importance of reliable and sophisticated infrastructure also increases. Effective transport systems, dependable energy and modern communications are essential to enable goods and services to be bought and sold across the globe.This has benefited the construction industry which has expanded to meet the infrastructure demands of a more globalised world. The downside, however, is that disputes are common in the construction industry. Projects can be knocked off course by a multitude of factors – construction does not always go to plan and large sums are often at stake. Research by the global consulting engineer Arcadis has shown that the value of the average construction dispute rose by almost 60% last year, reaching $51m, compared to $32m in 2013.Where issues arise that cannot be resolved between the parties, those parties will often turn to formal dispute resolution proceedings. Court-based litigation used to be the preferred method but, as our 2015 International Arbitration Survey conducted by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in partnership with White & Case found, international arbitration is now conclusively the preferred form of dispute resolution for cross-border disputes in the construction industry. But why is this?A neutral venue can be chosen, thereby avoiding any perceived home advantageThe research has revealed that 90% of the respondents favoured international arbitration over other forms of dispute resolution, a marked increase from 73% in 2006 (QMUL’s first international arbitration survey).As the research shows, there are a number of reasons for this, namely, the greater enforceability of arbitral awards, the flexibility of the process and the ability to avoid legal systems. However, one of the most attractive features for those involved in construction disputes is the ability to have disputes heard by individuals with extensive construction industry expertise.Construction disputes sit at the apex of two complex, highly technical and constantly evolving disciplines: construction and engineering and the law.Very few jurisdictions have specialised construction courts (the Technology and Construction Court in England is a notable exception), so parties that choose to resolve their disputes by litigation run the risk of having their case heard by a judge who may have limited experience of construction. In international arbitration, where parties can select arbitrators with specialist technical knowledge and industry expertise, there is a greater likelihood of achieving a decision that takes account of all relevant issues.International arbitration also allows the parties to select the jurisdiction in which the dispute will be resolved. The place or “seat” of arbitration can be anywhere around the world, irrespective of whether it has any connection to the parties or the project. A neutral venue can be chosen, thereby avoiding any perceived home advantage.Historically, London and Paris have been the most preferred venues. However, reflecting the growing importance of Asia for inward and outward investment in large infrastructure and construction projects, the study showed that Hong Kong and Singapore have gained significant momentum and are closing the gap. Such projects, often being extremely large, complicated and costly, are fertile ground for disputes. As such, we are seeing more Asian parties involved in large construction disputes and the Asian arbitral forums have devoted considerable effort to attract these sorts of disputes.Although London and Paris continue to be both the two most used seats and the two most preferred seats, as legal counsel favour tried and tested venues, Singapore was considered the most improved seat over the past five years, with Hong Kong following closely behind.In addition to the place of arbitration, parties can also choose which institution hears their dispute. In our research we asked respondents to choose their three preferred institutions and just over two-thirds included the International Chamber of Commerce in their answer, and more than one-third included the London Court of International Arbitration, mirroring the results from the 2010 International Arbitration Survey. However, as with the seat of arbitration, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre came in third and fourth.As the cost of large-scale construction projects rise into the billions, so do the value of the disputes that arise out of them and the decision as to how to resolve them is critically important. Our study shows that international arbitration is fast becoming the norm for resolving construction disputes.Michael Turrini is a partner (construction) in global law firm White & Case
Financial markets don’t like surprises, so the long-awaited start of the unwinding of the US quantitative easing (QE) programme confirmed last week has been signalled since the beginning of the year. If the policy can be successfully reversed without triggering unwanted side-effects like the 2013 “taper tantrum” – when investors panic-sold bonds and caused a fall in global markets – then similar changes can be expected in the UK and Europe. The scale of QE programmes is mind-boggling – QE has led to a quadrupling of the value of assets on the US government balance sheet to $4.2tr (£3.09tr), equivalent to $13,000 (£9,600) per person. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank continues to purchase €60bn (£53bn) of assets per month, while the UK’s QE programme remains capped at £435bn. Even though no new money is being pumped into US or UK bond markets, the impact of recycled investment continues to keep demand for gilts at elevated levels, suppressing interest rates and encouraging other investors to seek better returns from more risky assets such as corporate bonds and infrastructure investments.Many construction clients have been major beneficiaries of QE, but I suspect the wider industry is less aware of how the system has worked in practice, sustaining demand and price levels. QE does involve “printing money”, although the effects are communicated through financial markets rather than through direct spending programmes. By using new money created by central banks to buy new and existing government bonds, QE increases levels of demand for gilts and as a by-product helps to push down long-term interest rates. Pension funds and other long-term investors have focused much more of their money into capital-intensive sectors such as infrastructure and propertyOutside of the bond purchase loop, investors benefit from lower interest rates but must look for riskier investments than government bonds to secure an acceptable return. Because of QE, pension funds and other long-term investors have focused much more of their money into capital-intensive sectors such as infrastructure and property, while small-scale investors such as buy-to-let landlords have benefited from low interest rates and a sparkling housing market. In practice, the major beneficiaries of QE have been asset owners, including pension funds, house-owners and infrastructure businesses. The less well-off have been expected to rely on a “trickle-down” resulting from a little more investment and a little more spending. Construction has been a major beneficiary of this effect – with strong order books and high levels of inflation.So, what could the impacts of a change in QE policy be? Lessons learned from the global market crash in 2013 mean that unwinding must be slow – taking perhaps a decade or more to shift some of the holdings of government debt onto corporate balance sheets. At the same time, the “end of austerity” would require increased public-sector borrowing – increasing the supply of new debt to markets just as demands for investment spending on infrastructure and the retooling of modern economies ramps up. If all goes well, GDP growth will continue to accelerate, interest rates will start to rise in response to inflationary pressures and the level of demand for investment in new assets will be sustained. But if there is a blip, then the balance between the supply of assets and demand for them could change, reversing an eight-year bull market. This all sounds very long term and hypothetical. However, the impacts of QE since 2009 have been anything but. Accordingly, how could the unwinding of QE impact on construction markets and future levels of demand? The answer is quite a lot. Low finance costs and rising asset values are closely interlinked – not only in property markets, but also in infrastructure where costs of borrowing have become an increasingly sensitive element of project viability. Thames Tideway and the recent successful offshore wind auction have both benefited from low funding costs that reflect in part the need for investors to accept higher levels of risk to secure a reasonable income. Similarly, higher interest rates would reduce affordability in the housing market.Whatever form the next generation of government intervention takes, it will be delivered without the QE cushionRising asset values have insulated construction markets from many negative impacts of austerity seen in the public sector. Access to QE-supported markets has been a saving grace for construction since 2009, not only because it has increased levels of demand, but also because rising asset prices have helped clients to absorb higher levels of input cost inflation in construction than other sectors. In effect, QE has allowed construction to continue its low productivity path because asset-owning clients have been insulated by rising asset prices.Domestic politics requires that any stimulus that takes the place of QE is aimed at the many, rather than the few. The lifting of salary caps, for example, will be a positive move for millions of public sector workers, but inevitably will have a wider impact on tax and spending decisions. Such choices will also influence future investment priorities for the public sector, which would become a more important source of funding and finance. Without the safety valve of rising asset values, it will be less easy for construction firms to deliver value to their clients. Whatever form the next generation of government intervention takes – whether it is focused on replacement infrastructure like the US, or targeted at solving the housing crisis – it will be delivered without the QE cushion. Weaning construction away from this support so that it can most cost-effectively deliver future investment programmes will be the primary legacy of the unravelling of current policy.
Heideveld residents protest outside a house they claim is being illegally occupied. 1 of 2 The community also complained of shoddy workmanship at the housing project. This baths concrete, which is meant to secure it, collapsed. A group of Heideveld residents have accused the housing project under way in the area, of being riddled with corruption, alleging that the community liaison officer (CLO), Ivan Wrenn, took a R20 000 bribe in order to secure a house for someone.Mr Wrenn, however, has denied the allegations, and was scheduled to attend a disciplinary hearing convened by the contractor, by whom he is employed, yesterday Tuesday May 2.Residents have demanded an investigation after a woman, who is apparently from Strand, moved into a house which they claim belongs to another beneficiary and, on Tuesday April 25, the residents protested outside the house in question – 67 Helderberg Close.The group also allege that people as young as 22 years of age, were allocated houses, when others who had been on the City’s housing waiting list for many years, had still not been accommodated.They’ve also expressed their unhappiness over the shoddy workmanship of the construction teams.Pastor Matthew Booysen, who was part of the project steering committee of this housing development, said problems arose when they started questioning things.“As far as we understand, 85 percent of these houses had to go to Heideveld residents. “Then we were told only 75 percent of the locals will get houses here,” Mr Booysen said. “We know of 11 members of one family, who used to live in a nearby informal settlement, who were all given houses. Another thing they failed to implement, is that five percent of the houses had to go to pensioners who are currently living in an upstairs flat, and whose health is not that good any longer. There are people who already own property, that also moved in. There are illegal occupants here. We are tired of corruption. The City of Cape Town must evict all illegal occupants as soon as possible, or the community will evict them,” Mr Booysen said.Soraya Peters said she had to “fight” in order to be allocated a house in this project.“I have been on the housing waiting list for 31 years, but some people who applied in 2002 were allocated houses here. I had to fight my way for my right for a house. I continuously went to the local housing office to make my case heard,” Ms Peters said.Zelda Demas, also a former project steering committee member, said when rumours made the rounds that an illegal had occupant moved in, she approached the woman.“She initially told me that it was a cancellation house. That the original owner no longer wanted it. “After some prodding, we have her on video and audio, admitting that she paid Mr Wrenn an amount ofR20 000 for the house. “The people working high up in the housing directorate know nothing about what is happening on the ground, and we want them to come out here and investigate these matters,” said Ms Demas.The group claim the “original owner” had all his signed-up paperwork in order, with the property’s erf number, and all other details.They claim the paperwork shown to them by the current occupant, is completely different to what they and the other man, who claims ownership of the house, have.Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for area north, said there was no way that two people could lay claim to the same house.Ms Little explained: “It is important to understand the system of allocation correctly. With housing projects in general, beneficiaries are initially given a temporary allocation against an erf number until the construction programme becomes clear. “Once the programme is known, the project team will know which blocks (and therefore erf numbers) will be constructed first. Only then can the final allocation be done since a fair methodology needs to be followed. “Those earliest on the database, the aged, and special needs cases are usually housed first and therefore allocations must change to enable this.“No house can be allocated to two people at once. “At the start of a project, provincial government authorities allocate numbers to erven prior to erven receiving their registered numbers. “Once the erven is registered with the surveyor-general, the erf numbers may change, but even so the same number cannot be allocated to more than one beneficiary.”She confirmed that 85 percent of the houses are earmarked for people from the area.When asked about the allegation of corruption, Ms Little added: “The City will investigate all the allegations and do a survey to confirm whether the allegations have merit.”The woman who moved into the house refused to comment, saying she would wait until after Mr Wrenn’s “hearing”, which was scheduled to take place yesterday (Tuesday May 2). Mr Wrenn told Athlone News he had felt sorry for the woman, who told him she and her children had had no place to stay, but denied that he took any money from her.“The house is a cancellation house. This lady asked me for temporary accommodation. I felt sorry for her because she told me she and her children have nowhere else to go. I told her she can stay in the house just for one month. “I thought that the month might give her a chance to find alternative accommodation, because she told me they have nowhere to go. “I want to clear my name, I never took any money from her. It was a mistake to allow her to move into the house. “At the time, I didn’t think it would be a problem, now my sympathy towards her, got me into trouble,” Mr Wrenn said. The community also complained of shoddy workmanship at the housing project. This baths concrete, which is meant to secure it, collapsed.