Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Hinsdale schools changing the New Hampshire school dialog-maybe nationwide

(Ps If it is the kind of money where you as us give you a report every six months to a year –keep your money. What we need more than the money, is your commitment of time, education, experience –mostly your time over many years ... and your heart.)

Hinsdale schools changing the New Hampshire school dialog-maybe nationwide

Hinsdale recently passed a new school primary and secondary school bond and construction program.

Now what did they say about that just putting a poor person in a middle class pay class –you reduce amazingly their mental health sicknesses and symptoms.

So the experiment is asked –what happens if you putting a first class palatial palace of a set of schools in a poor community –what happens to the kids and what happens to the community?

So, we need benefactor or corporate sponsor -preferable a corporate sponsor- who would sponsor our schools to the tune of 10 to 40 million additional dollars. I really don’t know what the amounts are –just guessing. What kind of pride could you build from this in a community? We would need a very good architect to get us a world renown school. We could load this school up in the most up to date communication technology and computers –the most modern ways of communications and IT as a renowned business. As Bill Gates says, our high schools are obsolete –so we could have to most modern curriculum, the most educated teachers...how about wiring up our town for wifi... What kind of businesses would want to move here...

Can you imagine the media attention we would get? We would reset the school standards of this whole area –the whole state –what is wrong with a little educational envy? We could change the conservative education economic philosophy –property taxes- of the state through this dialog –and maybe in many other states...millions of kids....

Can you imagine as our kids progress testing results drastically improving ...can you imagine all the media interest in this –can’t you imagine the increase in pride this would make in the community –how it would change the community –how it would draw in success...growth... We could even have business experts come into our schools on a periodic level –teach the kids –give free lectures and business seminars to the local businesses on best practices and newest technology- get our kids going in and out of these local and city businesses and corporations in a seamless fashion with education.

We could change the educational philosophy and school taxes economic environment of the state of NH –and we would seriously challenge the status quo of the conseratives and half-dead democrats.

Imagine the changes we could get if we woke up saying –you know money makes a big difference in making our kids smarter and more creative. Here is the proof in Hinsdale –the kids get more stable -the community gets more stable –and more smart growth oriented. After all, our elites know that you need to give your kids the best education that money can buy...

mike mulligan
Hinsdale, NH

Thursday, May 26, 2005

American Gulag per Amnesty International

'American Gulag'

PostThursday, May 26, 2005; A26

IT'S ALWAYS SAD when a solid, trustworthy institution loses its bearings and joins in the partisan fracas that nowadays passes for political discourse. It's particularly sad when the institution is Amnesty International, which for more than 40 years has been a tough, single-minded defender of political prisoners around the world and a scourge of left- and right-wing dictators alike. True, Amnesty continues to keep track of the world's political prisoners, as it has always done, and its reports remain a vital source of human rights information. But lately the organization has tended to save its most vitriolic condemnations not for the world's dictators but for the United States.

That vitriol reached a new level this week when, at a news conference held to mark the publication of Amnesty's annual report, the organization's secretary general, Irene Khan, called the U.S. detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the "gulag of our times." In her written introduction to the report, Ms. Khan also mentioned only two countries at length: Sudan and the United States, the "unrivalled political, military and economic hyper-power," which "thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights."

Like Amnesty, we, too, have written extensively about U.S. prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. We have done so not only because the phenomenon is disturbing in its own right but also because it gives undemocratic regimes around the world an excuse to justify their own use of torture and indefinite detention and because it damages the U.S. government's ability to promote human rights.

But we draw the line at the use of the word "gulag" or at the implication that the United States has somehow become the modern equivalent of Stalin's Soviet Union. Guantanamo Bay is an ad hoc creation, designed to contain captured enemy combatants in wartime. Abuses there -- including new evidence of desecrating the Koran -- have been investigated and discussed by the FBI, the press and, to a still limited extent, the military. The Soviet gulag, by contrast, was a massive forced labor complex consisting of thousands of concentration camps and hundreds of exile villages through which more than 20 million people passed during Stalin's lifetime and whose existence was not acknowledged until after his death. Its modern equivalent is not Guantanamo Bay, but the prisons of Cuba, where Amnesty itself says a new generation of prisoners of conscience reside; or the labor camps of North Korea, which were set up on Stalinist lines; or China's laogai , the true size of which isn't even known; or, until recently, the prisons of Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Worrying about the use of a word may seem like mere semantics, but it is not. Turning a report on prisoner detention into another excuse for Bush-bashing or America-bashing undermines Amnesty's legitimate criticisms of U.S. policies and weakens the force of its investigations of prison systems in closed societies. It also gives the administration another excuse to dismiss valid objections to its policies as "hysterical."
© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Incineration in Hinsdale NH

The challenge of teardowns

Published April 30, 2005

Who would have thought too much prosperity would be a problem for Chicago?

Chicago and the suburbs, to be more precise. Traditional suburban ranch houses with floor plans of 1,200 square feet or so are no longer large enough in some places. They are being demolished to make room for far grander homes. The same thing is happening to some modest Chicago bungalows.

In their place rise suburban single-family houses with three stories and three-car garages, and "chateauesque" city dwellings with as much as 6,000 square feet of floor space on a postage-stamp lot. Most of the city joints span from sidewalk to alley, omitting the traditional back porches and yards.

The symmetry of a winding street of single-story ranch houses is abruptly broken by a brand-new mansionette--with turrets, great rooms, chandeliers, the works. The result can look as if a meteorite landed in the middle of the comfortably familiar community.

This is the "teardown" phenomenon, and pressure is building in many communities to halt it.

Some members of the Arlington Heights Village Board recently tried to pass a moratorium on teardowns. They were unsuccessful.

In October, though, Arlington Heights issued design guidelines for single-family homes. The guidelines don't just attempt to regulate the height, setbacks and density of new houses, the traditional purview of local government zoning. The guidelines venture into aesthetics.

The phrase "character of a neighborhood" seems to be the guidelines' leitmotif. The village Design Commission might recommend changes in the look or details of a home if it would not be in keeping with its neighbors. Modern designs are likely to be a tough sell in Arlington Heights.

Should local officials pass judgment on the design of your home? If the residential design prevalent in Hyde Park had been a criterion for approving the construction of Robie House, it would not exist: The Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece did not fit in with its surroundings.

A more workable approach is that tried in Hinsdale. The village stays clear of debates about aesthetics per se, but it imposes numerous requirements--height, setbacks and density, even the location of portable toilets during the construction.

The teardown debate reflects two conflicting forces. One is all-American individualism: It's my property and I'll do whatever I want. The other is the Levittown instinct that there is security and comfort in uniformity and familiarity.

Hinsdale, Naperville and some other suburbs are finding the right balance. Teardowns are an inevitable part of growth, but municipalities can regulate the height, bulk and other physical parameters of new construction.

Just leave room for creativity and design that may seem incongruous now, but given time, may become tomorrow's classics.

Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

American Gulag -hearing the cries of our children

Jail timeApril 26, 2005

On its face, the rate of incarceration in the United States speaks of a social pathology so large that most people don't see it.

The pathology is not in the level of criminality in the United States. It is in the crude and destructive way that the nation has chosen to respond to behavior that does not necessarily require jail time.

The United States imprisons more people as a percentage of population than any other nation — more than Russia, China or other nations noted for the brutal treatment of their people. One out of every 138 Americans is in jail — a total of 2.1 million.
In 2004, 61 percent of inmates were racial minorities. One-eighth of all black men in their late 20s were in prison.

That is an enormous cost to millions of individuals and to communities and society. These numbers provoke the question: Are we so lawless as a nation that we require massive imprisonment to maintain order? Or do these high numbers exist for political reasons?

The war on drugs and the larger campaign against crime in the 1980s and 1990s are principally responsible for the increase in the number of jailed Americans. Like other states, Vermont has watched its jails fill up and has had to build new ones, which just as quickly filled up. Corrections budgets have become an enormous burden on the states, and prison building and operations have become big business.

Politically, it was hard to resist get-tough policies. Racism is not as overt as it used to be, but latent racism finds expression in acquiescence to policies that lead white people to shrug passively as the jails fill up with poor black men. The presumption is that they deserve it. They are drug users. They have committed crimes.

But the jailing of small-time drug users is a choice, and the question is whether long terms in jail for the possession of a small amount of drugs have any relation to justice. Vermont has taken steps in recent years to cut back on the jail time resulting from drug use. The state has begun to establish drug courts to steer defendants toward treatment instead of jail. And the Legislature is examining sentencing policies that might be overzealous and self-defeating in the battle against drugs.

There are those who will argue that the decline in crime in the past decade proves that it is useful to lock up the bad guys. It is an argument with a whiff of the Soviet Union about it: employing the machinery of the state to engineer social control, irrespective of the justice of individual cases. And the decline in crime may well have more to do with demographics than anything else. Even so, the number of inmates is increasing even as crime has been falling. It appears the machinery of social control is eating up a huge segment of our communities.

Why do we tolerate such a policy? For one thing, the poor lack a significant political voice. And it is hard to argue for lenience in an atmosphere when toughness against crime is the prevailing mood. Where is the constituency for a message to go easy on drug users?

And yet gradually, some states are scaling back on policies that have created an American gulag. America, the leader in freedom, need not be the leader of imprisonment.

American Gulag -hearing the cries of our children

Jail timeApril 26, 2005

On its face, the rate of incarceration in the United States speaks of a social pathology so large that most people don't see it.

The pathology is not in the level of criminality in the United States. It is in the crude and destructive way that the nation has chosen to respond to behavior that does not necessarily require jail time.

The United States imprisons more people as a percentage of population than any other nation — more than Russia, China or other nations noted for the brutal treatment of their people. One out of every 138 Americans is in jail — a total of 2.1 million.
In 2004, 61 percent of inmates were racial minorities. One-eighth of all black men in their late 20s were in prison.

That is an enormous cost to millions of individuals and to communities and society. These numbers provoke the question: Are we so lawless as a nation that we require massive imprisonment to maintain order? Or do these high numbers exist for political reasons?

The war on drugs and the larger campaign against crime in the 1980s and 1990s are principally responsible for the increase in the number of jailed Americans. Like other states, Vermont has watched its jails fill up and has had to build new ones, which just as quickly filled up. Corrections budgets have become an enormous burden on the states, and prison building and operations have become big business.

Politically, it was hard to resist get-tough policies. Racism is not as overt as it used to be, but latent racism finds expression in acquiescence to policies that lead white people to shrug passively as the jails fill up with poor black men. The presumption is that they deserve it. They are drug users. They have committed crimes.

But the jailing of small-time drug users is a choice, and the question is whether long terms in jail for the possession of a small amount of drugs have any relation to justice. Vermont has taken steps in recent years to cut back on the jail time resulting from drug use. The state has begun to establish drug courts to steer defendants toward treatment instead of jail. And the Legislature is examining sentencing policies that might be overzealous and self-defeating in the battle against drugs.

There are those who will argue that the decline in crime in the past decade proves that it is useful to lock up the bad guys. It is an argument with a whiff of the Soviet Union about it: employing the machinery of the state to engineer social control, irrespective of the justice of individual cases. And the decline in crime may well have more to do with demographics than anything else. Even so, the number of inmates is increasing even as crime has been falling. It appears the machinery of social control is eating up a huge segment of our communities.

Why do we tolerate such a policy? For one thing, the poor lack a significant political voice. And it is hard to argue for lenience in an atmosphere when toughness against crime is the prevailing mood. Where is the constituency for a message to go easy on drug users?

And yet gradually, some states are scaling back on policies that have created an American gulag. America, the leader in freedom, need not be the leader of imprisonment.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Blue Ribbon low income housing investigation –national endemic corruption.

I’ve been told there has been a 40% increase in low income housing (project) in NYC taken off the market because of not enough money to make them livable. Basically the federal structure of low income housing is more aligned into creating elite political favorism -I’d say there is massive national corruption in low income housing and we should take over local management by the federal government.

How about a blue ribbon NASA and 9/11 style investigation on the local management of low income housing –with the ability to demand evidence and swearing in of indiveguals.

HUD rips Newark authority
Money to house poor spent on arena project
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Star-Ledger Staff
The government agency that oversees how federal housing dollars are spent blasted the Newark Housing Authority for "questionable expenditures" of $6.5 million that should have gone to house the poor.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said yesterday that $3.9 million of that money went to purchase 12 building lots in the downtown arena redevelopment zone.
HUD ordered the NHA to return that amount to the accounts used to provide housing for some of the city's needy residents.
"The (Newark) housing authority has 30 days to appeal and explain ... why the money was used to purchase the property as opposed to being used for low- and moderate-income people," HUD spokesman Jerry Brown said.
HUD also ordered a full, independent audit of NHA's 2004 and 2005 financial statements.
"After a comprehensive look at NHA, HUD has determined there is a lot of room for improvement in the financial and management operations of the agency," HUD assistant secretary Michael Liu said in a prepared release.
The HUD review also significantly lowered a series of performance ratings for the NHA, bringing it into the category of a "troubled" housing agency in serious risk of being taken over by the federal government.
Of the 3,500 housing authorities HUD oversees, only 285 are listed as troubled.
In these performance ratings, a score of 100 is highest and 60 is deemed acceptable. Newark was rated poorly in every category, ranking as low as zero in financial, a 3 in management and an 8 in customer satisfaction. The NHA scored a 33 in the Public Housing Assessment and a 31 in Section 8 management.
Harold Lucas, the NHA's executive director, said he had not seen the report when reached at his East Orange home last night.
But he said the NHA did not use Section 8 money to purchase lots in the zone where a $310 million arena will be built for the New Jersey Devils.
"That's not true," Lucas said. "Those lots were bought a long time ago."
Harry Robinson, a spokesman for the NHA, said the agency will appeal HUD's findings.
The financial management of NHA was called into question as recently as last September, when the agency spent more than $1 million dollars to redo its headquarters, including the purchase of a plasma television for Lucas.
Lucas also spent money to buy luxury vehicles and paid his daughter $25,000 to run the authority's beauty pageant. Lucas has three relatives who are employed by the authority, including his wife and son.
At the same time, more than 80 people, including maintenance workers, were being laid off.
The agency also invested $1.4 million in a troubled movie theater.
Lucas, who once was the city's business administrator, also worked as assistant secretary for public and Indian housing for HUD under the Clinton administration. This is his second stint with NHA. He makes an annual salary of $202,500, according to public records, more than the mayor of the city.
The housing authority manages more than 13,000 units for 30,000 residents.
In October of last year, the city council voted to allow the NHA to be used as the redevelopment agent for the arena project, and the NHA floated the city bonds to help finance the project.
In yesterday's review, HUD said it found a "laundry list" of other serious financial and management problems at NHA that need to be addressed immediately, said Brown.
They include:
· Missing six deadlines to build low-income housing at the Archbishop Walsh site under the Hope VI funding program.
· Failing to determine the reasonable rent for available units and failing to examine family income.
· Failing to perform housing inspections and making sure that units are up to federal standards before families move in.
· Concentrating voucher housing choices in areas of high poverty with mostly minority residents creating and worsening "pockets of poverty," said Brown.
Brown also said HUD was unable to find much of the paperwork required to document the authority's spending.
"They say they spent money on an aid program or put money in a certain account, and we can't find that money," said Brown. "We believe the money has been wrongfully used."
Newark Mayor Sharpe James said yesterday the housing authority has gone from "worst to first" under the direction of Lucas. He noted that several high-rise housing complexes have been destroyed in favor of low-rise, low-density townhouse complexes.
"There is no agency on Earth that has received federal dollars that has not received an unfavorable audit and had to do corrective measures or reimbursement. This is routine for government," said James.
"Under no circumstance would I condemn an agency that has improved the quality of life for 30,000 residents."
But Brown said, "the city touts the housing authority as going from worst to the best. I think someone has skewed the recent reporting numbers."
Brown said the last few agencies to score so poorly, including the Virgin Islands and Sarasota, Fla., ended up under federal receivership. But, he said, a takeover is the last resort, and HUD will try to work with the agency first to correct problems.
Staff writer Joan Whitlow contributed to this report. Jeffery C. Mays covers Newark City Hall. He can be reached at jmays@starledger.com or (973) 392-4149.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Former CEO convicted of fraud scheme in American Tissue case

Added April 4, 2012:

Former CEO convicted of fraud scheme in American Tissue case-April 13, 2005

The Death Of American Tissue Corporation-Oct 6, 2012

Winchester Paper Mill Lays Off Help-Feb 25, 2005

Former CEO convicted of fraud scheme in American Tissue case

By Frank Eltman, Associated Press Writer April 13, 2005

NEW YORK --The former CEO of one of the nation's largest makers of paper products was convicted Wednesday of engineering a $300 million fraud in a futile bid to save the failing company from bankruptcy.

A jury returned its verdict against Mehdi Gabayzadeh after eight days of deliberations and a nine-week trial in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, on Long Island. He was convicted of all charges in an eight-count indictment, including bank and securities fraud and conspiracy.
Gabayzadeh, 60, of Great Neck, was accused of swindling banks, financial institutions and investors of nearly $300 million while he was chief executive of American Tissue Inc., once the nation's fourth-largest maker of toilet tissue and other paper products.

The company's failure caused mills in Berlin and Gorham, N.H., to close in September 2001, with more than 850 workers laid off. Another company has since bought the mills, which reopened in June 2002; it now employs about 600 people.

American Tissue's mill in Augusta, Maine, remains vacant, although potential investors from time to time have indicated an interest in trying to get it back in operation.

U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert scheduled sentencing for July 8. Gabayzadeh faces a maximum of 60 years in prison, as well as fines and restitution.

Gabayzadeh's participation in a series of complex deals -- including the creation of phony documents indicating the company had sold million-dollar pulp contracts that didn't exist -- ultimately led to American Tissue's collapse.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John G. Martin hit on that theme during his summation.
"It is simply unreasonable to believe, to accept or even consider that the CEO ... simply steps back and doesn't get involved," he said.

The bogus deals were documented in part, to help American Tissue retain a revolving credit line with Chicago-based LaSalle Bank, prosecutors said. Without the line of credit, the company was doomed to fail, according to Ed Stein, the company's former chief financial officer who testified for the prosecution after pleading guilty to two federal charges of securities and bank fraud in 2003.

In his closing argument, Martin also told jurors that Gabayzadeh oversaw "a sinkhole of fraud" in his position atop the company that employed 4,700 workers in 15 states before its demise.
Defense attorney Raymond Perini portrayed Gabayzadeh as a hardworking Iranian immigrant duped by Stein.

"If Mehdi Gabayzadeh is guilty of anything, it was entrusting his life's work to the Steins of the world," Perini said in his summation, insisting his client was unfamiliar with accounting and U.S. business practices.

2005 The New York Times Company

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Vermont Yankee and TLD's

I wonder if that is really a true statement -that TLD's are the best available technology -with plus or minus 25% accuracy- or is it something they just settled with? Is individual rad exposure reported 25% higher than what the instrument reading is indicating -to take in consideration the inherent inaccuracies? Wouldn’t that be conservative?

Are the collective dose of the industry really 25% higher than reported?

So they are telegraphing to all the employees –that the boundaries of conservatism and safety consist of unexplained fudge factures that is designed for profit maximization? So, are all safety boundaries illusory and depends on fudge factors –is that what’s at the bottom of all the unrest with industry employees.

Does the nuclear industry have such a poor opinion of itself -that they settle for obsolescent inaccurate technology in the fundamental aspects of individual safety -personal safety. What obsolescent un-technological instrumentation will they depend on with preventing and controlling accident doses to the public?

It quite funny with the industry trying to get increasing accuracy with safety instrumentation to allow increasing profits with power uprates –but to hell with them with knocking down inaccuracies of personal safety measuring devices, Is the system designed to mass produce dose readings at the expense of accuracy.

Right, if it is instrumentation where increasing the accuracy will lead to increasing profits and power –you bear no expense to innovative technological upgrades –but if the innovative technological upgrade leads to a reduction of the safety margin –you kill it in the vine by defunding the innovation. So if you risk increasing industry burdens by increasing accuracies through personal radiation exposure – well, they is no corporate self interest (profits) in this. TLD’s are model “T” steam shovel technology –and I do believe there was no wide spread internet and computer exposure to the public yet when it was initially rolled out –be it absolutely slow computers that only the elites could afford. We need to know the history of TLD’s.

As I’ve said in the past –“when” there is a accident with fuel damage and some public release -even minor- there would be a historic scandal uncovered in the accident with accepting known wide-spread corruption in the industry. This is the repeated pattern of the industry –and there are many unseen example outside exposure reporting.

Can you imagine a fuel failure accident at VY exposing the current mess with fence dose –with everyone talking about 25% dose accuracy at the fence and obsolescent technology – and with falsification leading to the death of Yucca Mountain?

It’s a show stopper for the new nukes.

The corruption is a huge national security issue if oil goes up to $100 to $200 a barrel. In that, if we get into mega energy crisis, the leaders of the nuclear industry and NRC are creating the seeds of mis-doubt of nuclear power –thus slowing the acceptance of nuclear power in times of an extreme unprecedented national crisis. It’s in our highest national security interest that the NRC gets reorganized and that the mob/gang political actions of the utilities be broken up!

Why not look at energy industry corruption and political interest –as internal terrorism leading to extreme public consequences?

There is no doubt that the stack releases have similar fudge factors. I do believe they use the energy level of the particle as a filter method with disclosing the true dose.

mike mulligan
Hinsdale, NH

Monday, April 11, 2005

Crimes Against Humanity -Vermont

Save our mental health system

Lisa Lax

In recent months, Vermont State Hospital has been a regular feature in the news, with a focus on its failures. The public has been informed of decertifications, a suicide, and other evidence that this institution is ailing. We've also received the Vermont Futures Committee's recommendations for a plan to replace this institution. This committee strove to address the multiple perspectives and interests of various stakeholders in a heated environment.

It is unfortunate that their report was delivered in the midst of a mysterious shake-up that left us without a deputy commissioner of mental health and thus without a strong advocate for mental health care within the current administration. Not only are we at a critical juncture for these reasons, we also face significant cuts in federal dollars with changes in how Medicaid is allocated and reductions from other sources such as HUD that we depend upon to the support mental health care system. As a former employee in this system, I'm deeply troubled by what's unfolding and fear that we face even greater failures.

Ever since embracing a plan to de-institutionalize its mental health care system over 20 years ago, Vermont has held the goal of closing the state hospital. However, some people's struggle with mental illness interferes with their functioning to such an extent that they cannot live continuously in the community.

Despite our lofty goal to close its doors, we continued to rely on the state hospital to provide a needed service while not fully committed to support it as an institution. Recent events show us the results of our ambivalence. Clearly, we need to provide a better alternative for institutional care that is safer, more humane, and more compliant with best practices and standards of care.

The challenge in this is that any new direction will require additional resources and could easily divert attention from other parts of the system that are equally strained.

Vermont leads the nation in de-institutionalizing its system of care for people suffering from severe and persistent mental illness. During the 1980s, grant funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supported the undertaking to strengthen and create new services in local communities.

Vermont's 10 community mental health centers served as the backbone of this endeavor, providing community based treatment through case management, supportive housing, crisis services, vocational programs, and low cost psychiatry to consumers. Vermont created a nationally recognized community based care system that quickly reduced the hospital census of several hundred and kept it to less than 50 for the past 20 years.

A significant point is that community-based care, such as the state hospital, has not been adequately funded in Vermont. After the grant funding ended, community programs were never fully supported with state or federal dollars. A cycle of unending budget crises combined with dawn of managed health care has put continuous pressure on the centers. Some centers have had to make difficult decisions to eliminate needed programs in order to stay afloat.

More often than not, sustaining services meant that skilled and compassionate employees could not be paid a livable wage. As a result, staff turnover in some programs has been high, impacting the ability to provide continuous care.

Professional creativity and determination cannot continue to make up for budget cuts. Access to services will be affected. Consumers might have to wait even longer for a bed in a community residence or to see a psychiatrist for medication.

Caseloads will burgeon beyond any one human professional's capacity to respond compassionately. Consumers who are stable and living successfully in the community with the support of a particular program might be urged to "graduate" prematurely so as to empty a bed for someone in more dire need. With this strain, individuals will experience more crises which will require more hospitalizations and emergency responses, or lead to tragedy.

If we are to be a compassionate society, we need to understand that people who have severe mental illness, through no fault of their own, can suffer from debilitating symptoms which interfere with activities and social relationships that the rest of us take for granted.

A diagnosis of mental illness can plunge a person into poverty, a life of discrimination, marginalization, and isolation. Their families, already stressed and pained by the effects, can sadly suffer further from unnecessary blame and stigma. Yet people who are struck by mental illness are among some of the most creative, intelligent people in our society. Their presence adds to the fabric of society in spite of, or maybe because of, their vulnerability.

From my perspective a society's decency is judged by how it cares for its most vulnerable members. I hope that Vermonters will pay close attention to the issues and events impacting mental health care in our state and will do what is decent by ensuring that our mental health care system, which includes both community-based and institutional care, is fully funded and politically supported.

Lisa Lax is a social worker with more than 20 years of practice experience in Vermont. She is employed by the Department of Social Work at the University of Vermont, and serves as a member at large on the board of the Vermont Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Crimes Against Humanity in Georga: mentally Ill

I would say we are not talking about corruption -how our politics and the bureacrocies have blinded the public with not meeting fundimental human rights of dignity.

I would say also -the public is corrupted without saying -in that they are a the root cause(s) with creating the inviroment of human rights violations.

What we got to do is make the public responcible for the poor results we are seing all around us!!!!

Crimes against Humanity in Georgia


No rescuers catch state's mentally ill

> Reforms will be costly and complex, but the level of suffering demands that Georgia get to work

> Published on: 04/10/05

If mental illness were a communicable disease, like influenza or tuberculosis, Georgia could be experiencing an epidemic and never know it. The safety net supposedly created to protect the state's most vulnerable residents from lives of mental anguish is so ripped apart that no one is certain how big the holes are and where the holes might be found.

It may take millions of dollars just to find out how bad the system is failing before it can be fixed.
In the latest stop-gap measure, Gov. Sonny Perdue has created a task force to study how well the state provides mental health services through its 25 regional community service boards. The move is a hasty response to yet another state audit that reported very little accounting of the $500 million a year that the state spends on an estimated 180,000 Georgians who depend on community-based care to stay well.

The Department of Human Resources, which is supposed to oversee the regional boards, often has no idea of their financial condition or how they are dealing with patients, many of whom are on Social Security disability and covered by the state's Medicaid program. Similarly, the boards seem to have no systematic way of monitoring the effectiveness of services they provide their patients, short of finding out they have been re-hospitalized for their illness.

Moreover, the auditors showed that when patient-care problems were uncovered by accrediting agencies, the DHR did not have policies in place to see that the problems were corrected. It relied mainly on the boards to police themselves.

Some of the boards keep adequate financial records; others are in constant financial and administrative turmoil. The audit showed seven boards were owed a total of $55 million by clients who were able to pay for the services or had private insurance. Two of the boards had not sent statements to clients and insurance providers for more than two years. A similar audit two years ago prompted the state to demand $1 million in repayments to Medicaid from nine of the service boards due to mismanagement, substandard services and poor record-keeping.

The fractured system, which has remained this way for more than a decade, doesn't merely waste money, it wastes lives. A coordinated, community-based approach to mental health care — regular monitoring of medications, routine counseling and casework management of the complicated lives of mentally ill and recovering patients — can make the difference between a productive life and living on the streets or in and out of jail for nuisance crimes.

Georgia is not alone in facing the problem of how best to provide community-based services to people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, acute depression and organic brain diseases brought on by alcoholism and substance abuse. It is a national problem that has its roots in the closing of hundreds of public mental hospitals over the last four decades.

The presumption then, as now, is that the mentally ill will be best-served in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their condition. For many, that means seeking treatment on an outpatient basis in their own community instead of confinement in a state hospital miles from home and their support system.

As hospital wards were shuttered and patients encouraged to seek help closer to home, it became infinitely harder to keep track of the services patients needed and whether they were even getting them. Many patients were simply lost in the system. In Georgia, they remain mostly invisible because patient information is rarely shared between the boards, and too often the missing patients aren't found until they are committed to a psychiatric hospital or sent to jail. Many wind up homeless and on the streets.

Fixing the problem will not be easy or inexpensive. Those states that have the best success have decentralized mental health services down to the county level — the way most counties now operate health departments that provide immunizations and basic health services. In many of these states, counties also provide local taxes to match some of the dollars the state passes on to them from Medicaid to provide mental health services.

With 159 counties, Georgia is unlikely to be able to create such a localized system, especially in rural areas where small counties couldn't afford to go it alone. Multi-county districts will need to be retained, but the state could exert much more influence over the quality of services rendered. That's the easy part — reorganizing the structure.

The difficult and expensive part will be monitoring the intensity of services that mentally ill patients demand. The most effective models utilize psychiatric social workers or case managers assigned to individual patients to make sure they get the medications they need, keep their appointments, and receive adequate housing and access to jobs and job training. These patients have to be followed for years.

That will mean establishing a patient information system that works. The state's troubled $300 million computerized payment system for physicians and other providers handling Medicaid patients has so far failed in that role. The state is rushing to provide an audit of 2004 Department of Community Health spending by June, which might provide some of the information it needs to get started.

Georgia has never put a high priority on public health. Its track record on spending for mental health services is even poorer, and as the audits show, much of that is being wasted. We should be getting more services for the limited dollars we are spending.

The disgrace is that it has taken this long to even acknowledge how abjectly we have failed. The task force — to be headed by a former chairman of the DHR board, Bruce Cook — needs to be empaneled quickly and get to work reforming the system. Too many productive lives have already been lost.

Real social security...

(Caution: Road under construction -pass at your own risk)

I spent a lot of time in Newark and Kearny NJ last week. There was no doubt the face of poverty was black in these areas. Can you detect a more aggressive driving style with the public in poverty areas like this –you bet? Even with just talking to people, you can detect more stress in these people. It’s amazing the hopelessment. It reminded me of a slow motion war zone with debris all over the sides of the road. To live in that area is inhumane.

There was a traffic jam on the south side of Hartford Connecticut on I 84 (4/7). Traffic was not moving. I decided to get off the interstate hoping to navigate to I 91 north bypassing all the traffic. I got lost at once. After a while, I circled around the Martin Luther Kind grammar school. I was in a black neighborhood again, the real estate was in horrible condition, there was men just standing around, there was tons of children –and the school was a miserable dump.

At the end of last week, I’d spent a time crying. Is this America.

They say social security is going to run out on money by 2042. I say it’s already gone, we got no social security. I mean, we do this cold financial analysis with the percentage of the baby boomers retiring in the future –but what does that say about us. All we got is this cold dead analysis that we are banking on –what about reinventing our nation.

So why don’t we us the perception of future problems as the fulcrum to change ourselves? Why don’t we absolutely restructure everything about our lives. In the end, why don’t we have the hope that create a massively innovated

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Streets of MLK Cry Out the Dream is Incomplete

Streets of - Keli DaileySunday, April 3, 2005

Give yourself plenty of time to see the uneasiest street in America.

You can take pictures next to cars with trash bags for windows or near pit bulls guarding women twisting braids in their front yards. You can catch black vendors outside the Apollo Theatre hissing "devil" at tourists or spend an afternoon with a man named Dawg clutching a fistful of crack.

In Portland and Harlem and points between, go find a street named Martin Luther King.

I know you've been told to avoid it. Chris Rock even has a joke that essentially goes:
"If a friend calls you and says 'I'm lost. I'm on Martin Luther King Boulevard' and they want to know what to do, the best response is, 'Run!' "

Well, I've toured them, and I've had to run only a couple of times.

St. Louis has the most rundown MLK with its broken, red brick townhouses and an endless streetscape of wrecking-ball rot. Utah's (for me at least) was the least friendly: At midday I was chased to my car by residents of an apartment complex while the manager looked on. Washington, D.C., has the most tragic MLK, which is lined with T-shirt memorials to young people who've been killed.

More than 700 streets are named in memory of the great civil rights leader, who was slain by an assassin's bullets 37 years ago Monday. But why is it that these roads honoring this nation's answer to Gandhi get largely confined to menacing and mostly black neighborhoods? (There are a few, like the one in Berkeley, that aren't.)

Look at how lifeless it is around here, Paul Johnson tells me, surveying the MLK street in Little Rock, Ark., from behind his old lawn mower. He's looking for yard work just blocks from where nine black teens famously desegregated Central High School in the 1950s. Now the neighborhood is mostly black. Houses with broken windows dot the street.

Does Johnson think this is a good memorial to King? "They ain't never gonna put it where you'd like to see it," he says behind a wry smile. "You know, in a flourishing neighborhood."

What keeps me going back is the streets' amazing consistency. Damn near every MLK feels the same. The streets stretch across 39 states, through hundreds of cities and towns that normally lure visitors with their unique architecture and food -- but never to an MLK, which can almost be guaranteed to have umpteen hair salons and barbershops, the requisite corner markets with overpriced milk and underpriced malt liquor, and public housing worn and bursting at the seams.

The observant visitor will wonder why a man who wrote "Love in Action" sermons and sent telegrams to President John F. Kennedy claiming that dignity was America's destiny is so excessively associated with such vistas. Well, maybe there are some crummy streets honoring George Washington, too. I'm guessing Washington Avenues outnumber MLKs. But here's the difference: I've never heard a word against naming a street after old George.

When Jonathan Tilove calls them "black America's Main Street" in his coffee table book "Along Martin Luther King," it sounds like a great honor. But Tilove glosses over the fact that MLK is, in a sense, code for a black neighborhood, usually blighted.

What would happen if MLK the street were assigned to a white neighborhood? Would it be the naming equivalent of block busting -- when blacks and other minorities move out of traditionally, segregated neighborhoods into white ones, creating white flight panics?

A study published in 2002 indicated that if a black family moved into the neighborhood, almost 40 percent of whites in Detroit, Boston and Atlanta, expecting property values to decline and crime to go up, would simply move out.

When there was talk of an MLK street moving into Zephyrhills, Fla., the owner of a saddler's shop warned the local press that it could keep visitors away and hurt property values.

Capturing the exact likeness of King the man must be challenging or expensive, because the statues I've seen of him vary noticeably in height, nose width and neck thickness. Sometimes the Baptist preacher has props like an open Bible, the U.S. Constitution or a globe. Sometimes his minister's robe looks like a conservative stone dress. Rocky Mount, N.C., has a $56,000 statue that blacks in the community call arrogant and unrealistic. They want it recast.

There's a pretty good likeness of King at a McDonald's in Cincinnati. It's a bronze bust 1 foot high, sitting on a podium across from a gape-mouthed Ronald McDonald. You will find it, of course, on Martin Luther King Drive.

Giving King's name to stretches of asphalt really took off after 1986, the year the Statue of Liberty turned 100 and the federal King holiday began. Funny thing about the newest American holiday: A black Michigan Democrat first proposed it to Congress in April 1968, four days after King was assassinated. Its adoption proved a long struggle.

By 1983, the House actually passed a bill for a King holiday, but conservative senators fought to block it. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., gave the Senate a 300-page document filled with declassified FBI papers to prove King unworthy: J. Edgar Hoover insisted he had communist connections.
Eventually, though, 78 senators voted in favor of the holiday, and President Ronald Reagan signed it into law.

Still, Arizona stubbornly refused to acknowledge the third Monday in January as a paid state holiday until 1992, after tourists threatened a boycott. So it's no surprise that there's just one, scrawny MLK street in all of Arizona.

Shirley Johnson, the teacher's aide who fought to have that cul-de-sac renamed, had been dead 20 years by the time I drove past wide streets named after Washington and Jefferson and pulled up to the six-house semicircle with a "dead end" sign. Phoenix agreed to name this invisible six-pack of all-black households after her hero, but by last summer, three Latino families had moved in. There was no one around, black or Latino, who remembered how Martin Luther King Circle got its name.

Cathy was bouncing around in shorts and sandals, giving me a backyard tour of what not so long before had been a celebrated crack house and is still the circle's modest centerpiece.

"They burned this tree," she chirped, pointing cheerfully at the traumatized sapwood. "And they told us they found a body back here a few years ago."

Still, she's proud of where she lives. "Sometimes I hear about Martin Luther Kings in other places," Cathy told me. "And I'll be like, 'That's my street.' "

In Eugene, Ore., it was formerly Centennial Boulevard. In Chapel Hill, N. C., it had been Airport Road.

On the black side of town, Chapel Hill already had a 700-foot MLK pathway book-ended by a cemetery and a handful of low-income houses that during hurricane season regularly clogged with mud the color and consistency of mashed sweet potatoes.

The local NAACP wanted to trade the muddy MLK for the grander Airport Road that runs through the heart of town to the University of North Carolina, a campus King visited in 1960.
The people who opposed the name change cited the costs of redoing business cards and signs. Some people in favor of the name change called the other side racists.

Soon news pieces appeared bemoaning the ways the drive for racial harmony in Chapel Hill was sputtering. It was an emotional scene: People cried when the Town Council's naming committee agreed to dub Airport Road the new MLK, keeping Historic Airport Road as a secondary designation.

So upgrades are possible, but so are MLK cutbacks. Last year the Zephyrhills, Fla., City Council restored Sixth Avenue's original name after just six months of being an MLK.

I'm still not sure whether the streets named after Martin Luther King are the most or least fitting memorial, the best they could be, for a man who ranked poverty alongside racism and said, "Let us be dissatisfied until those who live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security."

Maybe you can take a look and see for yourself if they're good memorials or not. You might start on the east side of San Antonio, where there was once a mean looking German shepherd named Joe that ate neighborhood kittens. You could visit the gravel and glass schoolyard outside Frederick Douglass Elementary where many a kid skinned a knee, or you could lament the neighborhood graffiti written by a budding Crips gang franchise. While you're at it, check out the barbershop to see if Mr. Inman still runs it. If he's there, tell him a girl named Keli, who grew up just around the corner, sent you.

And when you're on an MLK, keep this in mind: There's a powerful belief in the Southern black folk tradition that a person never dies as long as his name is remembered.

Keli Dailey is a photographer and student at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.
Page C - 1 URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?
©2005 San Francisco Chronicle

Killing Off Housing for the Poor -NYT

April 9, 2005


Killing Off Housing for the Poor

The Bush administration pays lip service to the goal of "ending chronic homelessness" - while undermining the very programs that keep poor people from ending up in the streets. The Housing and Urban Development Department is proposing unreasonable cuts in federal subsidies, which would make it harder for underfinanced housing authorities to keep their developments livable and safe. And a proposal in Congress would make it harder for the poor to get rental subsidies from Section 8, the public-private partnership that underwrites rents for nearly two million of the country's low-income families and encourages builders to develop affordable housing.

This meat-ax approach has to stop. Congress needs to understand that poor people won't just disappear when the housing that serves them dries up.

The problem appears to have gotten the attention of the Senate, where bipartisan support is coalescing around a proposal for a national housing trust fund that would set aside a small portion of the pretax profits from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Modeled on similar mechanisms that have worked well at the state and local levels, the federal version would be used to build, preserve and rehabilitate affordable housing all over the country.

Given the need, it makes sense to plow money from housing right back into the same area. The trust fund proposal deserves wide support. In the meanwhile, the administration should stop hacking away at housing for the poor.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company Home Privacy Policy Search Corrections RSS Help Back to Top

Friday, April 08, 2005

US Plans New, Deep Cuts in Housing Aid :NYT

April 8, 2005

U.S. Plans New, Deep Cuts in Housing Aid

The New York City Housing Authority could lose up to $166 million, or almost a quarter of its annual federal subsidy for operating costs, under a new cost-cutting proposal by the Bush administration that could force dozens of housing agencies nationwide to fire maintenance workers, reduce services or close buildings.

If the changes sought by the administration take effect, they will result in one of the biggest cuts since Washington first began subsidizing housing: as much as $480 million, or 14 percent, of the $3.4 billion federal budget for day-to-day operations, including labor, maintenance, insurance and utilities, at the nation's 3,100 housing authorities. Housing authorities in New York State would be among the hardest hit, under a new formula that works against older urban areas.
"I've never seen anything this devastating occur in public housing," said Stephanie W. Cowart, executive director of the Niagara Falls Housing Authority, which would lose nearly half of its $3.6 million subsidy, according to an analysis of spending data by two housing authority trade groups.

The proposed changes, several officials of housing authorities said, represented a turnabout from an agreement they believed they had made with the Housing and Urban Development Department last June. The administration has for several years advocated a new formula that would redistribute billions of housing dollars toward rural and southern areas and away from older urban areas in the Northeast and Midwest. Officials in those urban areas had negotiated a compromise they believed would minimize the cuts to their programs.

But last month, while Congress was in recess, the housing department began circulating a new proposal on Capitol Hill for far deeper cuts that bore little resemblance to that agreement, according to housing advocates and Congressional aides.

Instead, the housing agencies that were supposed to gain federal subsidies will gain much less, and those that lost money will lose much more. Four of the five agencies with the deepest cuts are in upstate New York. The proposal, whose changes would take effect in 2006, comes at a time when the administration has vowed to reduce discretionary government spending for the first time since President Bush came into office. Indeed, Michael Liu, HUD's assistant secretary for public and Indian housing, said in an interview that housing agencies had been warned for months that "there was always the possibility of changes," especially "in an era of tight budgets on the domestic front."

But Mr. Liu noted that the proposal was preliminary, and subject to public comment and future adjustments. He also said that it was vital for agencies to focus on the broader goal of making public housing run more efficiently.

"For a housing authority that has been on a particular diet for, say, 40 years, facing a different kind of diet, cutting out fats and sugars and other stuff that tastes good - well, it's tough to change, and that's a natural reaction," he said. "But in the long run, it's going to make us more effective, more efficient."

The new proposal may represent a starting point for another round of negotiations, and the numbers are likely to rise after Congress weighs in. But in the meantime, housing agencies say the proposal will hamper their ability to provide even rudimentary services for many of the 3 million Americans who live in public housing.

Maintenance and repairs could be deferred for months, they say, and day-care and job-training programs could be eliminated. Buildings could be mothballed, maybe even sold.
"It would likely have a significant impact on our personnel, and that obviously has a long-term deleterious effect," said Douglas Apple, general manager of the New York City Housing Authority. "Less maintenance workers to fix the leaks is less maintenance workers, and more leaks."

The compromise formula agreed to in June would have resulted in more money for two-thirds of all agencies, and a maximum loss of 5 percent for the losers. But under the new proposal, which Mr. Liu said emerged after consultations with the White House Office of Management and Budget, the 5 percent loss cap and other provisions intended to minimize cuts would be eliminated.

With $185 million in projected annual losses to be phased in over five years, New York would be the hardest-hit state, chiefly because the formula does not fully take into account the age of its housing developments and its civil service and union costs, housing groups say.
The Syracuse Housing Authority, for instance, would see its federal operating subsidy drop from roughly $9.5 million to less than $7 million, according to Frederick R. Murphy, its executive director. The Albany Housing Authority would see a cut of roughly $1.2 million to its subsidy of $5.9 million, said Steven T. Longo, its executive director.

Both of the state's senators, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer, expressed outrage yesterday, with Mrs. Clinton sending a protest letter to Alphonso R. Jackson, the housing secretary, and Mr. Schumer confronting Mr. Jackson after a Congressional hearing.
"Of all the knives that HUD has put in New York City's back, this is the longest and deepest," Mr. Schumer said in an interview. "I've never seen anything like this in the magnitude of the cut and the sneaky way in which it was delivered."

But Mr. Liu argued that New York agencies had been "oversubsidized extensively for a long, long time," and that the New York City Housing Authority alone had $400 million in reserves, which could be used to offset the losses. And he said that the new rule allowed authorities many ways to justify an increase.

"I'm confident that those who are concerned, once they sit down, they'll get over it, and deal with it," Mr. Liu said. "You have some smart people out there, and they may not like some of the changes, but they will find a way to work with it."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company Home Privacy Policy Search Corrections RSS Help Back to Top

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Crimes Against Humanity: low income housing projects

Crimes Against Humanity -low income housing

Another violation would be about low income housing, as Houston and Springfield, Ma, where the management of these housing have become horribly corrupted leading to a reduction and low quality of poor peoples housing. I might make the case there is intimidation of the poor within this housing

I see boarded up closed housing, just plywood nailed to the windows and doors at these low-income housing projects throughout the NE and the south -GA. I’d like to get a number/% -trends on. Many times they would tear down a whole housing project –then replace but a quarter of the old units with new units.

I wonder what the ratio is of HUD budgets vs public housing units –I can say section 8 is corruption bar no other agency, where the owners ride the housing value appreciation and the owners get a steady stream of income from the government.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


These democrats are so stupid. There should give the republicans ANWR. ANWR is just a republican gimmick, when the issue of high fuel prices comes up; they always throw out ANWAR as a teflon defense. On the Democratic side, you can’t get a better contribution spectacular (views/animal) picture than ANWR, for the environmental interest –feeding the trough of the environmental bureaucracies -incomes and political illusory power. Believe me it’s not about what’s best for the public -its only about how do I feed the monster of income needs. So we got here is a war on selfish interest dressed up as altruism of both sides –a stalemate of giant proportions.

I bet if the Democrats caved in on ANWR in the name of “national security” –making sure it is a small footprint and speeding up the construction of the facilities – the administration would then be more accountable for the high fuel prices. We really don’t even know if the oil companies would want to drill up there.

Economic development in Hinsdale NH

(Just brain storming)

There has been some good that’s come out of the incineration problem. I am against this project.

The organization who has grown out of this has been extraordinary.

We should start to look at what kind of economical development we want.

We need an I 91 spur (that is an interstate style road) going through Hinsdale, through Winchester, going up to Keene NH –maybe connecting to RT 9/101. Rt 9 from Brattleboro to Keene is a death trap, poorly engineered road, and a spur would reduce congestion in Brattleboro. Of course, our kids could sell firecrackers when they get out of college –which is dangerous and illegal in most states around us.

I can tell you for a fact, our children need the sense that there are good paying jobs waiting for them when they get out of high school, technical school or college. There is just too much hopelessness and poverty in Hinsdale and Winchester!!!!!!!! We could help the “high value” economic development of Hinsdale, Winchester and Keen and beyond –besides creating road construction job needs.

As far as creating a campaign against an issue like VY and incineration -there is nothing more powerful against your adversaries when you step out of the typical advocacy and adversary boring models that we have all seen in the media. Basically, we co-opt their positive campaign of economic development (all the politicians do this) that drives the primary local necessity of the incineration project. There is nothing more interesting to the media and the public –when you are against something –then have the courage to express a creative ideal of a “future” dealing with the biggest necessary –economic development.

So what creative future do your see for Hinsdale NH in 5,10…20 years –for social, individual and economic development of a community. They say life is but a movie –where our creative ideals realigns the material world of today for a better tomorrow –people say its individual needs, money and power that drives development – I say it’s love and creativity that is the primary driver of our creative history.

I would say we are entering a new epoch with $125 dollar barrel petroleum and a devaluing dollar……meaning there will be a need with business to move back into a local markets, with as little transportation as possible….Boston and metro New York City. It’s a great opportunity for us. We need to think about our infrastructure for this.

***NYC has some big problems with getting rid of garbage politically and economically in the coming years –I’d be concerned that the Hinsdale incineration project might shift to burning garbage too from the big cities.


mike mulligan
Hinsdale, NH

Thursday, March 31, 2005

The meaningless death of Terri Schiavo for most of us

Schiavo Raised Profile of Disabled
Question Swirl About End-of-Life Issues

By Ceci ConnollyWashington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, April 2, 2005; Page A09

"The right wing wants to kill us slowly and painfully" with limits on health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, Not Dead Yet's Coleman said. "The left wing wants to kill us quickly and call it compassion."

Let be truthful with ourselves –we will pontificate about the meaning of morality, about the fragile life(s) that has no meaning in our own lives --and cost us nothing. But to take a few steps into an institution, jail or group home, but to witness human rights abuse and disclose them to members of the community –why bother, is about what we are about.

So if the dignity of human rights is going to cost money from our pockets, we tell the politicians to lie to us, we tell the bureaucrats to withhold the true cost of human right abuses from us in a selective rules and untransparancy game –we will pay bureaucracy executives well for this miserable job of creating an illusion – such that it won’t raise our taxes and question the massive tax give-a-ways for the rich.

For an open transparent Democracy who is managed by the will of the good people, whose only interest is the truth no matter what the cost –we are not much better than the Nazi's.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A letter to the People of China

Dear President Hu Jintao,
People’s Republic of China

I have been confronting systemic political corruption in my country for the last decade. I have been involved in huge local, regional and national corruption issues, involving many tens of millions of dollars across many economic sectors. I have observed massive human rights abuses within our care of the mentally disabled. I have personally observed the preventable death of a child in one of our facilities, and the suffering of many more. I am one of the most dangerous dissident that America has in this current point in history.

I have received a lot of negative feedback within these activities –people have physically threatened my family and me at times. To my amazement, I discovered I’ve made a lot of mistakes through these activities –with my distracters pointing out my legitimate sins in their campaign to get even with me. I’ve found it very important to listen to criticisms against me, and especially painful when accurate –seems even dissidents are imperfect human being needing improvements.

I term our prison system as our American gulag – where an enormous amount of the population has become nothing but economic prisoners –they are there for no other reason than we have failed to provide these people as children with adequate resources of education, employment and housing stability. It is unconscionable that we have such a high percentage of the prison population being mentally disabled, where we find it to expensive to take care of them out in the community. In our cities and towns, many times, the care of our mentally and physically disabled are worst than the care they receive in our prisons. More amazedly, the failure of our economic model is forcing the American public to unjustly punish its most vulnerable people; the poor, sick, weak and disabled, with life threatening resources withdrawals. The American public reaction to our political and economic failures is like a husband who has unjustly recently lost his job, where he comes home in frustration to beat his wife(our vulnerable) silly for nothing she has done.

Fundamentally, I worry about what our democracy means: what if the public becomes too lazy and careless to manage our system of government –what if the owners (voters) don’t care about their property (our nation) –what if the voters don’t care about human right abuses internally –what if our system is to immature to control the accuracy of the information in the media, necessary for the owners of the nation to make educated control their property(our nation-ship)?

As you know, I have begun a campaign to charge my country with “Crimes Against humanity”, in how we disparately treat our sick, vulnerable population, and children of turmoil. I have actively recently solicited other countries to criticize the United States of America with human rights abuses and crimes against humanity, which have occurred within the boarders of my country. I am dead serious –I wish I could find a UN venue where I could charge my nation with “Crimes Against Humanity” and systemic human rights abuses. I absolutely love the ideals of human dignity outlined in our Declaration of Independence and our national Constitution; but it seems today it takes money to gain and maintain these rights of dignity, which our creator gave freely to each of us.

We have such big problems with corporate crimes in the USA. Our local, city, municipal, state and federal governments corruption cases, witness as example the Governor of Connecticut and the revolving door scandals, how about the play for pay political examples in New York City and New Jersey, our systems are riddled with corruption. What the population of the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America has in common is our population confronting the burdens of corruption in each of countries. Political and economic corruptions shouldn’t be used as national tools to vilify each other –it’s what we have in common.

I want China to know how much courage it takes to criticize large economic and political systems –being how these systems always remind me that I am a sinful human being in the end –especially when they know my criticisms are accurate. I know for a fact, that many Americans are seriously concerned with the issues you raised in the March 3 “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2004” (http://english.people.com.cn/200503/03/print20050303_175406.html ). I want to sincerely thank you for your criticism of our human rights record. I prey that we have the courage to correct our problems –for the world’s sake.

Maybe it can be look at it as in the science of genetics, which indicates that we are all one –in that all of our detectable physical and behavioral differences are but an undetectable percentage of our genetic code makeup. I truly believe that in order for our planet to survive through these troubled times in front of us –both of us are going to have to cooperate, as the planet has never seen before. I wish your country’s startling success.

I hope someday to visit your magnificent country. As I am a truck driver, I’d be interested in traveling up and down your highways and byways, through your city streets, as I have been doing in the USA. I would love talking to my Chinese brother’s and sister’s truck drivers. I would love to drive one of your tractor-trailer trucks on pickups and deliveries. Does your police give speeding tickets, like I’ve gotten in the USA? That’s one ticket I would gladly accept as a souvenir -um, how much would the violation cost, do points get transferred across national boundaries? I traveled throughout the USA on our highways–we have such a beautiful country and wonderful people, who are so open to visitors and outsiders. I know your country and peoples are just as beautiful as we are. I have a back ground in commercial nuclear power plant technology -I would love to visit one of your new plants.

I would love to ponder the meaning of our universe through looking at the stars, while standing in a moonless night in one of your deserts, as I have done in Nevada.

Mike Mulligan
Hinsdale, NH

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Panal says home health care must end

You see this is a lot bigger than having a “for profit” business competing. What we got here is a George Orwell like system(s) of relationships, the non-profits state bureaucracies and politicians, who basically work in the filthy smoke filled rooms – with them telling us they are working for the altruistic benefit for our truly vulnerable population. What we got here, is the bureaucrats are no better than the communist Chinese like-minded functionaries, who are only out for their self interest and power –and the nature of the game is to hide the “death” dealing dysfunction of the vulnerable care from the public. You see it everyone’s interest to hide what going on from the public, especially the governmental non-profits that have extraordinary communist traits of being non transparent and maintain close relationships to the politicians -for the good of the communist (the untransparent system of self interest that enslaves the disabled party) –or in their term to protect the privacy of the mentally disabled.

It would be better to look at this system who cares for our vulnerable; the politicians, the human service lobbyist political special interest, the non profits, the state and federal overseers –as the communist Chinese functionaries whose game to create a international and public illusion for their own gains. You should ask what’s the pay compensation of these top non profit executives are compared to the pay of the home health aids. The pay of these guys are extraordinary. Even the state human investigator have been silence to protect their jobs and the politicians

Worst, I can make the case that the public in general has decided that can’t afford to take care of the disabled –the me’s and you’s don’t care about any morality, we don’t care about any amounts of suffering, creating shunted lives…we tell the politicians to cover up the true conditions of the lives of the disabled to meet our needs of lower taxes. What it comes down too, is we tell elites of the human service industry that we will compensate you massively, you can access to extraordinary power and untransparency in your job, you’ll have political access –but you will have to starve the lower side of service to disabled. Functionally you turn the mental disability of the vulnerable into meeting the compensation needs of the human service elites and professional class. Why are all these licensed professionals keeping quite –because their compensation needs are being met on the back of the disabled.

So you get that, the mom and pops of us, the daughters and sons of us, don’t see the necessity of taking care of the weak like Jesus warned us –we’ve told the politicians, the state bureaucrats, the profits and non profits, to lie to us if you want your jobs –so we don’t have to pay taxes. Basically we’ve said our national economic system has become so dysfunctional and unaffordable –we are going to have to close our eyes to the suffering of the lowest segment of the population.

All of us have gotten into this trance where

Panel says home care monopoly must end

March 25, 2005

By John Zicconi Vermont Press Bureau
BURLINGTON — A state advisory panel wants Vermont to end the monopoly held by a dozen nonprofit home-health agencies in treating Medicare and Medicaid patients.

The Public Oversight Commission voted overwhelmingly Thursday to allow Professional Nurses Service to become Vermont's first for-profit home-health agency to treat all patients whose health care is paid by the government.

Vermont currently allows profit-making agencies to bill the government for only a small number of highly specialized home-health services.

The vote was 8-2 by the commission, which is panel of citizens charged with advising the Douglas administration about health care regulation.

The panel wants John Crowley — commissioner of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration — to issue the Winooski-based visiting nurse organization a Certificate of Need to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Crowley, who has until mid-May to rule, is under no obligation to heed the commission's advice. But compliance with its recommendation would end a monopoly now held by 12 nonprofit agencies that have divided up the state and vowed not to compete with each other.

"We are very, very excited," said Jean McHenry, president and chief executive officer of Professional Nurses Service. "I feel energized and a little numb. This is not the final decision, so I will have reserved enthusiasm until we get that. But this is a very big step."

Professional Nurses Service has been in business for a quarter-century and has treated private-pay clients in every Vermont county, McHenry said. The agency has twice before asked for state approval to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients, but was denied each time.

At McHenry's request, the U.S. Department of Justice over the winter began investigating Vermont's home-health monopoly that prevents for-profit businesses from accessing some $90 million annually in government reimbursement for possible antitrust violations.

Commission members said their recommendation is a result of the nonprofit groups' inability to care for about 5 percent of the Medicare and Medicaid population and that the federal investigation played no part in their decision.

McHenry believes otherwise.

"Its been a factor," she said. "I believe the state has to be considering the fact that this investigation continues."

Department of Justice officials did not return phone calls. But a source who has been interviewed by federal officials said it appears the enforcement agency wants to see how the state handles Professional Nurses Service's application before it issues a ruling.

Vermont's nonprofit home-health agencies do not want competition and are working on two fronts to stop it. They are encouraging Crowley not to heed the commission and lobbying the Legislature to grant them so-called "designated agency" status, which would essentially outlaw competition.

The Legislature so far has been unwilling to debate the issue. Crowley, who has attended commission meetings regarding home-health competition, declined to discuss what he will decide.

"I need to review the material that has been submitted and read the record, which is voluminous," Crowley said. "After reading the record carefully and reviewing the law, I will make a decision."

The Vermont Assembly of Home Health Care Agencies, a trade group that represents the dozen nonprofit groups, said federal data shows Vermont's noncompetitive system treats more patients per-capita than any other state.

For-profit competition could "cherry pick" high-profit clients and leave only those that cost money to the nonprofit agencies, said Phil White, the groups' attorney. Losing high-profit clients would threaten the millions of dollars in annual charity care provided by the nonprofit groups, he said.

"A market-driven home-health system is likely to have a major impact on the existing system to serve the poor, uninsured, under-insured and those who live in remote locations," White said.
"We are the only state in the country that provides universal access to home-health consumers," he said. "We are very concerned this may be a step backwards."

Commission members recognize this fear and advised Crowley to cap the number of government-subsidized patients Professional Nurses Service can treat to 5 percent of the statewide total.

About 21,000 Medicare and Medicaid patients received home care in 2004, meaning the for-profit agency could treat a little more than 1,000 people.
McHenry, who employees about 200 traveling nurses and nurse's aides, was disturbed by the cap and wondered how the Justice Department's anti-trust investigators would view such a barrier to free enterprise.

"I'm not sure the Justice Department, if it has issues with competitive practice, will be satisfied with limited choice," McHenry said. "We would rather not have restrictions, but this is a huge step. We will work with what we've got and try to improve the system over time."
Julie Bushey Trevor, a retired home-health nurse who now acts as an advocate for low-income and disabled patients, also questioned the cap.

"There is significant unmet need," Bushey Trevor said. The nonprofit agencies "provide a tremendous service … but there are a number of people out there who want a choice because they do not feel they are being properly advocated for."

Contact john Zicconi at john.zicconi@rutlandherald.com.

LA Times: Real Estate Dot-Com Bust -Crimes Against Humanity



Putting Stock in Property

Echoing the dot-com boom, many middle- class investors are rushing into real estate.
By David StreitfeldTimes Staff WriterMarch 27, 2005SAN FRANCISCO — Chris Boome, an insurance agent in the suburb of Burlingame, doesn't want to work the rest of his life. Who does? But at 58, Boome knows he hasn't saved enough to retire.

So a few weeks ago, he revamped his retirement accounts. He sold most of the mutual fund shares and used the cash to buy an $83,500 chunk of land in the Nevada hills, a stretch of ground he had seen only in a photograph.

"This is more exciting than a mutual fund," Boome said. "It feels safer too. You buy a piece of dirt, you feel you'll always have a piece of dirt."

The astounding rise in home values is enticing many middle-class Californians to bet on dirt, gambling their retirements that they can do better with property than with any other investment.

In the same way that the stock market's apparently limitless ascent in the late 1990s seduced investors into buying shares in untested dot-coms, relentlessly rising house and land prices are spurring people to do things that used to be considered unusual — if not irresponsible.

They're cashing in retirement funds, selling stock and taking out second mortgages. They're pouring the money into real estate, often in distant states, often without seeing the property."

Markets are ruled by either fear or greed," said Robert Campbell, a San Diego investor who has written a book on timing the real estate market. "At the moment, it's all about greed. Huge numbers of people are buying in at very high prices.

"Economists have been wondering for at least a year if real estate is in a manic phase that will end unhappily.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, whose policy of low interest rates gets credit for launching the real estate boom, also has begun to fret. "I think we're running into certain problems in certain localized areas," he told a congressional hearing last month.

Some speculators have already been burned in Las Vegas, until recently the hottest market in the country. But for most investors everywhere else, any risks are outweighed by the potential rewards.

"People who did this five years ago aren't working today," Boome said…..zzzzzz

NYT's Real Estate Dot-Com bust: Crimes Against Humanity


March 25, 2005
Trading Places: Real Estate Instead of Dot-Coms

Real estate-crazed Americans have started behaving in ways that eerily recall the stock market obsession of the late 1990's.

In Naples, Fla., some houses have been bought twice in a single day, an early-21st-century version of day trading. Buying stocks on margin has morphed into buying homes with no money down. The over-the-top parties of Internet start-ups have been replaced by flashy gatherings where developers pitch condos to eager buyers.

Five years ago, the cable channel CNBC sometimes seemed like a backdrop to daily American life. Its cheery analysis of the stock market played in offices, in barbershops, even in some bars. Today, "Dude Room," "Toolbelt Diva" and other home-improvement shows are the addictive fare that CNBC's exuberant stock shows once were.

"It just seems like everyone is doing it," Laurie Romano, a 26-year-old self-described real estate investor, said with a giggle as she explained why she was attending an open house this month for the Nexus, a 56-unit building going up in Brooklyn's chic Dumbo neighborhood. She and her fiancé, a dentist, had already put down a deposit on a Manhattan condo earlier in the week and had come to look at another at the Nexus.

Nobody can know whether the housing boom of the last decade will end as the dot-com frenzy did. But the parallels are raising alarms among many economists, even those who acknowledge that there are important differences between homes and stocks that significantly reduce the chances of another meltdown. For one thing, houses are not just paper wealth: you can live in them.

Still, perhaps the most troubling similarity, some analysts say, is the claim that the rules have somehow changed. In an echo of the blasé attitude that "new economy" investors took toward unprofitable companies, the growing ranks of real estate investors are buying houses they never expect to be able to rent at a profit. Instead, they think the prices of houses will just keep rising.
Indeed, the government reported yesterday that sales of new homes jumped sharply in February, in the biggest monthly increase in four years. A strong economy and an improving job market contributed to the gain. But many buyers were also trying to beat rising mortgage rates, which could eventually cool the market.

Adding to the parallels between stocks and housing, some of the doomsayers from the 1990's have returned with new warnings.

"We're going through something very similar in real estate that we did with stocks," said Robert J. Shiller - a professor of economics at Yale, whose prescient book on stocks, "Irrational Exuberance" (Princeton University Press, 2000), appeared just a few months before technology stocks began their slide. "It's driven by the same forces: that investments can't go bad; that it has the potential to make you rich; that you'll regret it if you don't do it; that it looks expensive but is really not."

A new edition of Mr. Shiller's book will be published next month. The cover promises an "analysis of the worldwide real estate bubble and its aftermath."

Premonitions of a bubble on the verge of popping do not ruffle those who are bullish on real estate. In Miami, Ron Shuffield, president of Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell Realtors, predicted that a limited supply of land coupled with demand from baby boomers and foreigners would prolong the boom indefinitely.

"South Florida," he said, "is working off of a totally new economic model than any of us have ever experienced in the past."

The can't-miss aura of real estate has also helped nudge many families to invest more of their personal wealth in real estate by buying more expensive homes and taking on riskier mortgages - much as ordinary workers used their 401(k) plans to bet on company stocks.

There are certainly serious reasons to believe that house prices will not suffer the fate of technology stocks. Not only are houses more tangible, but people do not sell their homes as quickly as stocks, making a panic much less likely. Because of tax advantages, few owners are likely to sell and rent something else simply because local house prices start to decline.

As high as they might seem now on the coasts, home prices nationally have not quite doubled over the last decade; during the 1990's, the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index more than quadrupled.

"I just don't think we have what it takes to prick the bubble," said Diane C. Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago, who was an optimist during the 90's. "I don't think prices are going to fall, and I don't think they're even going to be flat."

Such confidence about real estate has created a 1990's-like stampede of new investors. The night before the Nexus party, Patrick Cullert, 31, and Jennifer Mathews, 29, who are engaged, camped out to ensure they would be near the head of the line for one of 16 condos to be sold at the party. It was today's version of pestering a broker for shares in a hot public offering.

And many former stock market enthusiasts are now turning to housing. Douglas Paul, a 46-year-old former analyst, left AT&T in 2002 to buy and sell stocks on his own. But he soon decided that real estate could be another way to make quick profits. Mr. Paul owns two condominium units around Fort Lauderdale and one in Miami Beach, all bought during the last year, in addition to the one where he lives. He plans to sell one of the Fort Lauderdale condos in June for what he believes will be double his investment.

"It really is a very hot real estate market, and I don't know how long it's going to continue," he said. "But in the short term, why not profit from it?"

Mr. Paul's path is an increasingly common one. The National Association of Realtors estimates that nearly one-quarter of home purchases last year were made by people who thought of the house as an investment rather than a place to live. Seminars promising to teach amateurs the tricks of real estate speculation have proliferated.

Even at Harvard Business School, where students have traditionally gravitated to careers in investment banking and corporate marketing, real estate is suddenly hot. About 25 graduates have taken real estate jobs in each of the last two years, up from only six in 2001.
It is not quite the gold rush of 2000, when about 200 Harvard M.B.A. graduates flocked to technology companies. But even if they are not working in real estate, some of those graduates are now investing in it.

Andrew Farquharson, a member of the class of 1999, said he recently teamed up with a high school friend to buy a home in the Central Valley of California "out of pure speculation." He knows of other classmates who have made similar investments.

"I look at this as a short-term investment," said Mr. Farquharson, 36, who works for a venture capital firm, "and plan to unload it as soon as things look dangerous."

In addition to the flood of investors, the parallels between real estate and stocks extend into mainstream culture.

Real estate bulletin boards and blogs like Curbed.com and Real Estate Pimp have taken the place of financial chat rooms like Tokyo Joe's. ABC has a breakout hit in "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," and Home and Garden Television, a once-obscure cable channel, now draws an average of 827,000 viewers in prime time.

The seemingly inevitable how-to guide inspired by Donald Trump - "Trump Strategies for Real Estate" (John Wiley & Sons) by George Ross, one of Mr. Trump's assistants on his hit show "The Apprentice" - is a strong seller, already hitting No. 177 on Amazon.com's list in March, less than a month after its release.

At the Nexus party in Brooklyn, Steve Nguyen, Ms. Romano's fiancé, said he was heeding Mr. Trump's advice. "He says buy, buy, buy," Dr. Nguyen said.

The same message is being trumpeted by David A. Lereah, chief economist of the Realtors association, who argues in his new book, "Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?" (Currency), that real estate investors will "experience substantial and satisfying wealth gains" into the next decade.

The question that looms over these books is whether they will suffer the fate of another optimistic talisman, "Dow 36,000" (Times Books), which was a best seller in late 1999. Its authors, James K. Glassman and Kevin A. Hassett, argued that stock prices, despite five years of roaring gains, "could double, triple or even quadruple tomorrow and still not be too high."
The Dow Jones industrial average hovered around 11,000 when "Dow 36,000" was published. It dropped below 8,000 in 2002 and closed at 10,442.87 yesterday.

Another lingering echo of the stock market boom is the role of the Federal Reserve, the nation's central bank. In the 1990's, the Fed kept interest rates relatively low because it saw little risk of rising inflation despite a booming economy, helping feed a fever for stocks. Alan Greenspan, the Fed chairman, famously asked aloud in 1996 whether "irrational exuberance" was driving the stock market, but then backed off from second-guessing investors.

After the market plunged and the economy weakened, the Fed pushed interest rates down to 50-year lows, helping to fuel the housing boom. This month, Mr. Greenspan made some comments about housing that offered a faint echo of his 1996 musings.

"Analysts have conjectured that the extended period of low interest rates is spawning a bubble in housing prices in the United States that will, at some point, implode," Mr. Greenspan said in a speech in New York, adding that real estate speculation had shown a "marked increase." Nevertheless, he said he did not expect a "destabilizing" drop in prices, in part because home prices across the country have never fallen significantly.

But by one measure, houses in at least a few metropolitan areas are as expensive as telecommunications stocks were in 1999, relative to their underlying value.
The average house in San Jose, Calif., costs 35 times what it would cost to rent for a year, according to Economy.com, a research company. In New York and West Palm Beach, this ratio - a rough equivalent of the price-earnings ratio for stocks - is almost 25.

In March 2000, the price-earnings ratio of the Standard & Poor's 500 - the combined price of the stocks, divided by their profits per share - peaked around 32, and it was briefly even higher for telecommunications stocks. The S.& P.'s P.E. ratio has since fallen to around 20.

Still, no matter how expensive real estate might be, it continues to provide many owners a return worth boasting about.

Holly Peterson, who is writing a novel about the idiosyncrasies of New York's rich, said that at dinner parties in Manhattan, she frequently hears complaints about high home prices, followed by claims of quick profits. "They always hit you with their last jab: 'Of course my money's doubled three times over since I got married,' " she said.

Five years ago, she said, friends at parties were crowing about "making millions of dollars on paper with $25,000 and $50,000 investments." But "most of those people," she added, "got wiped out."

Copyright 2005 RSS\Help Back to Top