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McClaughry: American politics gone insane

first_imgby John McClaughryJonathan Rauch is a senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution in Washington. He is himself a bona fide liberal, or at least, what passed for a thinking liberal a decade ago. He is a sharp commentator on American politics, and has given us a brilliant and timely essay in the July-August issue of The Atlantic entitled “How American Politics Went Insane”.Young Americans may not think politics has become insane, because they have never known what it used to be like. The leading political science text of fifty years ago (originally published in 1942, 5th edition in 1964) was Harvard Prof. V.O. Key Jr.’s authoritative Politics, Parties and Pressure Groups.Note that it appeared before the Viet Nam War, the civil rights era, LBJ’s Great Society, the Carter inflation surge, the rise of Reagan, Clinton, Obama, and Trump, the end of the Cold War, two Gulf Wars, globalization, the transfer payment dependency explosion, the environmental movement, and the dramatic appearance of new communication technologies. These were game-changing developments.Somewhere while all this was happening, Rauch argues, Americans began to arrive at some radically different views of the political process. He summarizes them as components of a Chaos Syndrome.By that he means “a chronic decline in the political system’s capacity for self-organization…that begins with the weakening of institutions and brokers – political parties, career politicians and congressional leaders and committees – that have historically held politicians accountable to one another and prevented everyone in the system from pursuing naked self-interest all the time.”Congress is increasingly unable to actually deal with pressing issues. It hasn’t been able to pass its appropriations bills for twenty years. The central reason, Rauch says, is that the middlemen of American politics have been disfavored and disempowered. They are the many public and private actors within the system “who bring order out of chaos by encouraging coordination, interdependency and mutual accountability.”These middlemen “recruited and nurtured political talent, vetted candidates for competence and loyalty, gathered and dispensed money, built bases of donors and supporters, forged coalitions, bought off antagonists, mediated disputes, brokered compromises, and greased the skids to turn compromises into law.”What undid this? Reformers calumniated “professional politicians, closed door negotiations, personal favors, party ties, financial ties, all of it.” The techniques included open primary challenges by non-party hopefuls and  movements (think Trump and Sanders), seniority reform in Congress, forcing transparency on delicate negotiations, barring the “pork” spending that often helped to close a deal, and  diverting political money away from candidates and parties to issue groups, super PACs, 527s, and the like.Rauch recognizes that the old system worked by sometimes unsavory middlemen had its shortcomings. They were often “undemocratic, high-handed, devious, secretive” (and he might have added, greedy.) But they did serve an important purpose, and we may well not be better off for their reduced influence.Rauch reports a “shocking” study by University of Nebraska political scientists, who found that 25 to 40% of voters see the give and take of politics as unnecessary and distasteful. Those largely non-ideological respondents believe that policy should be made not by messy political conflict and negotiations but by “empathetic, non-self-interested decision makers.” These imaginary beings will “step forward, cast aside cowardly politicians and venal special interests, and implement long-overdue solutions.”These voters primed themselves to follow the three leading “sociopaths” of 2016: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who engineered the costly government shutdown of 2013 to serve his own purposes.Rauch’s solution is to restore influence to political parties and middlemen. That means putting parties more in charge of their own candidates, favoring contributions to parties and candidates instead of wild card interest groups, and allowing pork to grease Washington deals. Above all, many Americans have to be persuaded to give up their neurotic rejection of the process of politics, and come to the realization that their detested “establishment” may offer a more promising future than the chaos produced by its disappearance.Vermonters can take some comfort in knowing that here things aren’t so bad, because we have a higher sense of cooperation, and our bipartisan political class has been far more civil and responsible than the national counterpart.Rauch’s article (at theatlantic.com/magazine(link is external)) is at once disturbing, incisive and entertaining. It will well reward the reader concerned about “How American Politics Went Insane”.John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org(link is external))last_img read more

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Do you recycle right? What does ‘Single-Stream’ really mean?

first_imgChittenden Solid Waste District,A pile of unsorted recyclables awaits handling at Casella’s material recovery facility in Rutland. Photo by CB Hallby Michele Morris, the Director of Outreach and Communications at Chittenden Solid Waste District Single-stream recycling has been known by many names: “all in one,” “commingled,” “No Sort” and “Zero Sort,” but all of them mean the same thing: You don’t have to sort your cardboard, glass bottles, aluminum cans, and other recyclables into separate bins. Just put them all in the same bin or cart, and the single-stream system will sort them for you.Single-stream recycling came to Vermont in 2003, when the Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD) invested $2.1 million to convert its ten-year-old dual-stream Materials Recovery Facility—called a “murf” (MRF) in the industry—to single-stream. More recently, Casella Waste, Inc. opened a single-stream MRF in Rutland to serve the southern half of the state. The vast majority of Vermont’s “blue bin” recyclables are processed through these two facilities.In principle, MRFs perform a single function: They sort your recycling. Specialized machinery and human workers operate side-by-side to separate like materials and bale them for sale on global markets. A MRF sorts the items you toss into your recycling bin, cart or dumpster both by type AND by shape. The machinery is engineered to move 2-dimensional items like paper and cardboard onto one conveyor, and 3-dimensional items like plastic bottles and metal cans onto another. At the Vermont MRFs, magnets pull off steel cans and other ferrous items, while human sorters separate plastic items by the type of material they’re made from.RELATED STORY: Recycling: Problems, Problems, Problems. China no longer wants garbage from USThough the Casella and CSWD MRFs have always accepted essentially the same items, they recently agreed to synchronize their messaging.Also, in 2015, baseline requirements for what must be recycled by everyone across Vermont kicked in under Act 148. Local rules may still vary, though, and some Districts mandate that more than the baseline statewide items must be recycled.Contact your solid waste management entity to learn the local rules. Links and phone numbers for every Vermont town are available at www.802recycles.com(link is external).Here’s a baseline of the minimum rules required by law no matter where in the Green Mountain State your recycling bin, cart or dumpster lives:• ALL items must be empty and clean. Paper and cardboard must also be kept dry.• Items must be made from a single material. That means no laminated paper, no food containers made of a boxboard body and a metal bottom, etc.• Items must never have contained any paint or poison.Beyond that,  here’s what goes in the bin:Paper: Uncoated, clean and dry paper such as office paper, newspaper, magazines, junk mail. But NOT: Paper towels or facial tissues.Glass bottles & jars: Empty and clean beverage bottles and food jars. But NOT: Window panes, drink glasses, or other miscellaneous glass items.Cardboard: Clean and dry boxes of all kinds that are uncoated and flattened. But NOT: Plastic-coated boxes, ice cream tubs, or soup/juice/milk cartons.Metal cans & foil: Empty and clean food and drink cans, aerosol cans, “disposable” aluminum pie plates and trays, balled foil. But NOT: Paint cans, or any cans that contained poisons (like pesticides or other chemicals designed to kill).Plastic containers & packaging: Clean, empty, single-use rigid bottles, jugs and packaging only. But NOT: Bags or other filmy plastic of any kind, no Styrofoam, no black plastic, no durable plastics of any kind.Still not sure? Check your District’s website (see 802recycles.com), or give them a call. And by all means, don’t practice “wishful recycling.” When the wrong materials make it to the MRF, they have to be hand-sorted by people who analyze fast-moving material —up to 200 tons every day!—to make sure each item gets to the correct bale. At best, your mistakes slow the system, reduce the marketability of all recycling, and even cause shutdowns to unwrap bags and other “tanglers” that jam the sorting machinery. At worst, your incorrect choices can imperil workers by exposing them to dangerous and hazardous materials.Go to www.cswd.net/learn(link is external) to sign up or request a tour of the CSWD MRF in Williston. Contact Joseph Soulia at 802-772-2273 or Joseph.soulia@casella.com(link sends e-mail) for tours of Casella’s MRF in Rutland.last_img read more

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UVMMC nurse contract ratified

first_imgThe University of Vermont Medical Center,VFNHP lead negotiator Molly Wallner prepares to read a statement Friday morning outside the entrance to The University of Vermont Medical Center. She announced that nurses had ratified a new, three-year contract. The union and management had reached a tentative deal last week. The button she’s wearing says: “We Are UVMMC.” VBM photo.by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine There was no honking, slogans, cheering, sign waving or epithets this morning, as there was back in July when nurses at The University of Vermont Medical Center announced they would go on strike. Instead, lead nurse negotiator Molly Wallner, backed by a few colleagues, quietly read a statement saying that about 70 percent the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals had ratified a new three-year contract. Nearly 1,100 of the 1,800 nurses had cast votes, she said. The votes were tabulated Thursday night. A tentative agreement had been reached between management and the union September 19.UVMMC management issued this statement Friday morning: “We are happy to share this long-awaited and positive news, and look forward to implementing the many changes that will result from this new contract – which will enhance patient care, provide additional support for nurses and allow for new opportunities to advance the nursing profession.”The contract includes a 16% average base salary increase over the next three years, with wage increases ranging up to 30% for nurses in certain roles. Pay increases for ambulatory nurses will be retroactive to the first full pay period in September. For additional details, please see the attached overview of the agreement (BELOW).”The contract provides meaningful wage increases and allows us to maintain our commitment to all employees and be responsible stewards of limited health care dollars.”The new contract runs through July 9, 2021. The previous agreement expired this past July 9. Nurses have been working without a contract since then. They engaged in a two-day strike on July 12 and 13.Wallner, who works in the hospital’s cardiothoracic wing, said along with the pay raise and other points, such as pay equity between inpatient and outpatient positions, they were looking for “more respect” from management. They are also hoping the new contract will lead to better staffing.Wallner acknowledged it will take time for both sides to repair the bitter feelings both sides carried from this long process.It was the first nursing strike in the hospital’s history. The original hospital opened in 1879.As part of her statement, Wallner said:”This has been a long and difficult road for all of us, and we are extremely proud of what we have accomplished. We have shown the hospital, our community, and ourselves what we are capable of. We will always do what it takes to fight for our patients and the wellbeing of the community we live and work in. This contract is a clear reflection of our commitments to our patients.”However, our fight for safe staffing and prioritizing the best possible patient care is far from over. Over the next 30 days, will meet with hospital management to begin the process of expanding the ambulatory nurse resource pool, with full implementation within 12 months. Over the next 18 months, we will work with the hospital to implement and enforce improved staffing grids that include ancillary staff.”Beyond our contract timeline, we will continue our fight beyond the hospital walls. We are committed to moving forward pro-patient and pro-nurse legislation that supports safer staffing ratios and safer hospital conditions. We will continue our fight for $15 an hour for ALL UVMMC support staff, and we call on our representatives to help us take this legislation to Montpelier.”We stand with our fellow nurses at in St Albans at the Northwest Medical Center as they empower themselves in their fight for patient care and patient safety.”We stand with our brothers and sisters right here at UVMMC under the Technical Professionals contract as they deliver their intent to bargain notice on Monday.”We remain above all else, committed to our patients, and to our community.”Technician members of the union were not part of these negotiations.Among the handful of nurses in attendance at the press conference were ATF President and UVMMC nurse Deb Snell and former lead negotiator Julie MacMillan.RELATED STORIES:RELATED STORIESUVMMC management and nurses reach stalemate in contract negotiationsUVMMC nurses go on strike in historic actionNurses union divests from New England Federal Credit UnionUVMMC nurses hold no confidence vote on hospital executives and trusteesNurses set to resume work Saturday morninglast_img read more

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Fire drill or cyber drill? – It’s time to build muscle memory for new risks

first_img ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr by. Robin ReminesOne of my favorite responsibilities as a BCP partner is performing tabletop exercises.  During this half day event, we engage our credit unions in very realistic scenario-based exercises meant to stretch the comfort level of the participants and identify gaps in the DR/BCP strategies. Traditionally, the scenarios are often environmentally based  – hurricane, tornado, earthquakes and so on depending on the credit union’s risk profile. In 2013 however, I began using a “cyber-threat” scenario which to my surprise quickly became the most powerful scenario I’ve used to date.Why?Cyber-threats are common to ALL credit union’s without exception.Unless your credit union has absolutely NO ties to the internet you should be concerned about cyber-threats. I’ve said it in previous posts and I’ll emphasize it here again (in caps no less) .. it is WHEN not IF! Your credit union should be preparing and EXPECTING a cyber-related service disruption much like you already do for robbery or infrastructure related risks like fire and evacuation drills.The likelihood and impact of a cyber-threat are often grossly miscalculated or unknown.This is the most alarming and consistent finding during 2013.  Credit Union’s are seemingly unaware of their heavy reliance on the internet. You know that loan application you upgrade in 2013? All of those cool integrations (credit scores, BK reports, etc.) aren’t embedded in the package. They are a result of built-in ties to other applications via the internet. You can’t protect what you don’t know exists.Another equally alarming misperception is that a cyber-attack generally means a complete outage. This is not the case as was discovered by our friends over at RadWare. Author Motty Alon hit the nail on the head with a recent blog post titled “Much More Than An Outage” where he reveals that “most Denial of Service attacks, 60% of them, result with degradation of the service level and slowness of the application or external web site. Only 27% result in a complete outage.”  Degradation of service can cripple your credit union with both internal staff and members being seriously impacted for long period of time! We’ll explore this in more detail in our next blog. continue reading »last_img read more

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Berkadia sells multifamily property in Tucson for $14.3M

first_imgBerkadia sold The Place at Tierra Rica, a multifamily property located at 3201 and 3225 West Ina Road in Tucson, Arizona.  Senior Managing Director Art Wadlund and Associate Clint Wadlund of the Tucson office facilitated the sale. The property sold for $14.3 million on May 28, 2015. The sale price reflects a per-unit price of $49,479, or approximately $69 per square foot.The buyer was Aspen Square of West Springfield, Massachusetts. The seller was MC Companies of Scottsdale, Arizona.“Investment activity in the Tucson area has been heating up,” Wadlund said. “Recent growth in the local job market over the first quarter of 2015 has driven rental demand, and we expect that to be an ongoing, key factor in investment activity.”Built in 1988, the property’s 288 units offer one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plan options. Unit amenities include ceiling fans, dishwashers and refrigerators. Select units offer full sized washers and dryers, breakfast bars, and built-in bookcases. Community amenities include a clubhouse, business center, fitness center, lighted tennis court, two spas, three swimming pools, laundry facilities, picnic areas and WiFi hot spots.The Place at Tierra Rica is located near Interstate Highway 10 and is fewer than two miles from both the Foothills Mall and the Omni Tucson National Resort. Top area employers include Northwest Medical Center, Foothills Mall and Omni Tucson National Resort.Metro-wide apartment vacancy in Tucson fell 50 basis points year-over-year to 8 percent at the end of the first quarter of 2015. Operators advanced rents by an average of 1.2 percent during the first quarter to $666 per month, as rental demand jumped.last_img read more

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Letter To The Editor: Being Scared…

first_imgBy LYNN HANRAHANLos AlamosWhen I was reaching to turn on the radio news the other say my daughter asked me not to. She said it made her scared. Her older siblings are away at college. She is lonesome. She is worried.Back when the big kids were little in the aftermath of nine eleven I remember reading a piece on how very young children didn’t realize that the constant replay of the twin towers falling were always the same buildings; they believed the attacks were continuous. They were scared.I remember when my oldest was little and we walked over to Urban Park to watch the airplanes fighting the Cerro Grande fire the day before evacuation. I remember him the night before the Las Conchas evacuation watching the fire climb the ridge toward town wondering if all our pets, stuffed animals, and Legos would fit in the car should we have to flee. He is twenty one now and still gives firetrucks a wary look.I remember coming home from college on a Friday night in the early eighties watching a report about a new virus on TV while sorting my laundry. It attacked young gay men. My brother was a young gay man. He died a few years later.Yesterday at the grocery store everyone looked sort of dazed and scared. Maybe it’s time though that after we wash our hands, we turn off all the media and take the kids to the park, read our favorite spring bunny book, ask an older neighbor if they need anything, and try to be brave. It is a beautiful spring day.last_img read more

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Review of the year 2019: A year of living dangerously

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Salisbury solicitors wait for court hearing

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Praxair to expand gas supply

first_imgSubscribe Get instant access to must-read content today!To access hundreds of features, subscribe today! At a time when the world is forced to go digital more than ever before just to stay connected, discover the in-depth content our subscribers receive every month by subscribing to gasworld.Don’t just stay connected, stay at the forefront – join gasworld and become a subscriber to access all of our must-read content online from just $270.last_img