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VOLUME VII NUMBER 1 JANUARY 1, 2021
* Congressional News Briefs ... Rochester's agent in the U.S. House of Representatives, Joseph Morelle, having previously objected, in sympathy with the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Association of State Fire Marshals, to a decision of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the federal government to permit transportation of the highly-flammable, liquefied natural gas by rail through Monroe County, has contacted U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to raise the alarm concerning the threat an invasive species poses to the apple harvest in the state--estimated to total approximately 30 million bushels--and farmers' annual grape harvest worth some $52.8 million. While the Congressman notes that the U.S. Department of Agriculture earmarked $17.5 million in 2018 to combat infestations of the Spotted Lantern Fly in Pennsylvania, now is not the time to reduce funding for the National Invasive Species Council when the agricultural pest is increasing in numbers across New York State. But pressing USDA further, Morelle's calls for remedial action are echoed by stakeholders in the brewing and wine-making industries across the Northeast, Midwest and Northwest of the country who fear that the pest's appetite for grapevines and hop plants puts up to 92,000 jobs across 15 states in jeopardy and the industries' $12 billion in economic impact. In addition, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand asserts that an update of the 2012 STOCK Act is necessary, in light of revelations that several affluent Members of Congress received millions of dollars in Payroll Protection Plan loans, while small businesses close and others yet struggle to survive. She says that the purpose of her introducing the STOCK Act 2.0 is to require the President, the Vice-President, Members of Congress, and senior Congressional staffers and Administration officials to report any valuable benefit received from the government. Toward setting the example, she informs that she has made personal financial disclosures, publicized her official meetings and revealed her earmark requests. In other developments, the Senator has called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to schedule a vote on the President's proposal and the House-passed measure to make $2,000 direct payments to Americans dealing with economic hardship as a result of the coronavirus public-health emergency. Also, she reports that the recently-approved government-funding package sustains scientific breakthroughs in breast-cancer prevention, detection and treatment, insofar as the bill authorized $150 million for the Defense Department's peer-reviewed Breast Cancer Research Program. Besides, Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Gillibrand have announced the latest financial installment for support of the University of Rochester Laser Lab, an $82-million infusion of grant money for the 2021 fiscal-year that is calculated to maintain the security of the country's nuclear-weapons stockpile through a Stewardship Program and, at once, to develop new, clean energy sources. University of Rochester President Sarah C. Mangelsdorf observes that the OMEGA Laser Facility for Laser Energetics not only promotes national security, but enhances the nation's global competitiveness, powers economic growth and innovation across the state, and trains future generations of scientists. The Facility supports almost 900 highly-skilled jobs state-wide, too.
* State Government News Briefs ... Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, paying tribute to one-time U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan who envisioned a productive use for the historic, albeit under-utilized, James A. Farley Post Office Building as a transit hub, announced that the $1.6-billion Daniel Patrick Moynihan Train Hall was constructed on-time and within budget, increases the floor space of the Penn Station by 50 percent, and opened the East End Gateway to Penn Station on New Year's Eve. Featuring a one-acre sky-lit atrium and museum-quality public art, among other embellishments, the Moynihan Train Hall will serve Amtrak, the Long Island Rail Road, the metropolitan area's subway system, and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey buses, the intermodal transportation center being the busiest in the Western Hemisphere, with its daily circulation of in excess of 700,000 passengers. Construction has been credited with an estimated economic impact of $5 billion, as well. Speaking of the Buffalo Bills' NFL playoff schedule, the Governor proposed a pilot program to allow some fans in attendance, linking success to the program serving as a model for re-opening yet other entertainment venues across the Empire State. While 6,700 fans would be allowed to view the game, tailgating is prohibited, admission depends upon a negative coronavirus test result and contact tracing will be implemented. In a further update on the virus, he said that, as of December 30, the daily mortality count was 136, with the state-wide positivity rate 7.76 percent, 1,276 patients in intensive care, and 7,935 patients hospitalized across the state. While the state-wide average is 31 percent, 34 percent of hospital beds are available in Western New York. Further, with the law authorizing death benefits for the families of front-line government employees due to expire on December 31, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order extending the benefits for an extra 30 days. What is more, the Governor informs that state-government agencies are making preparations to deal with the storm systems forecast to dump snow, sleet and freezing rain on various parts of the state during the New Year's weekend. An ice accumulation of up to a quarter inch is expected in some places, he conveyed. New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie adds that Governor Cuomo signed Assembly Bill 11181 protecting homeowners from foreclosure and protecting those tenants from eviction--also through May 1, 2021--who can document a financial or health-associated hardship unless the given tenants are posing a substantial nuisance to neighbors or causing a substantial safety hazard. The Speaker continues, emphasizing that the minimum wage applicable to most counties in the state, by prior legislative enactment, increased to $12.50 an hour on December 31, with the scheduled increases eventually due to enforce a living wage of $15 an hour.
* County Government News Briefs ... Monroe County Executive Adam Bello says that, going forward, the County Legislature's unanimous passage of his proposed 2021 budget reflects a consensus on reducing the tax rate, particularly by $0.26 to $8.53 per $1,000 of assessed value; a less-than-inflationary 0.38-percent increase to a $1.237-billion spending plan; and a proactive approach to meeting the challenge of a 20-percent hold on state aid and of partial offset of sales-tax revenue losses. The County Executive notes that the Legislature also concurred in abandonment of such budgetary tactics as resort to the Snow Tax, with the result that the County Services to Localities charge is reduced an average of 12 percent. Moreover, Bello thinks that the sale of delinquent tax liens should be eliminated by 2022, given its undesirable unintended consequences; namely, interfering with homeowners trying to catch up on their bills and stay in their homes, rather than allow the structures to degenerate into "vacant zombie homes" and neighborhood blight. In other developments, the County Executive calls attention to his appointment of Janson McNair, a Monroe County Sheriff's Office Commander of Staff Services, as Director of the Office of Public Integrity.
* City Government News Briefs ... The City Council, with Loretta Scott presiding and Mayor Lovely A. Warren in attendance, when it last met, set the course ahead by voting 9-0 for a pregnancy-prevention program; favored use of a Driving While Intoxicated crackdown grant by a vote of 8-1; likewise supported an appointment to the police-accountability board; green-lighted positioning of an automated-teller machine in the Public Market and International Plaza; approved issuance of $350,000 in bonds for the Genesee Fire House improvement project; advanced the $3.462-million East Main Improvement Project and associated $1.7-million water-line project; heard one objection to Mercury LLC receiving a lobbying-services agreement from the City, but received assurance that the company representative assigned will represent the City's interests, although an issue was made of the firm representing Trump Administration interests in the past; okayed issuance of $500,000 in bonds for a ventilation project at the Central Library and Bausch & Lomb Building; and received a report from the Mayor on professional-services agreements.
* School District News Briefs ... The Rochester City School District announces that the Board of Education has scheduled an Organizational Meeting on January 4 beginning at 6 PM and a Bilingual Education Council Meeting is set for January 5 between 5 PM and 7 PM. Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small's Message for December 21 conveyed preliminary re-opening instructions and that teachers and staff would be receiving a Return to Work Guide soon, before the January 5th resumption of classes.
* Weather . . . The National Weather Service reports that current conditions at the Greater Rochester International Airport are mostly cloudy, as of 4:54 AM, with a temperature of 30 degrees Fahrenheit, relative humidity of 79 percent, wind out of the southwest at 3 miles per hour, barometric pressure of 30.46 inches, a dewpoint of 24 degrees, and visibility of 10 miles. The forecast for this New Year's Day calls for a chance of rain, mostly after 4 PM, increasing cloudiness, with a daily high temperature of about 35 degrees, south wind of 5 to 11 miles per hour becoming southeasterly in the afternoon, a 30-percent chance of precipitation, and new precipitation amounts of less than one-tenth inch possible. Tonight, rain is expected, along with a low temperature of about 34 degrees, southeast wind of 9 to 14 miles per hour, a 100-percent chance of precipitation, and new precipitation amounts between one-half and three-fourths of an inch possible. Saturday, a temperature of 39 degrees is forecast and winds could gust to 29 miles per hour, with a 60-percent chance of rain, but new precipitation amounts of less than one-tenth inch are expected.
* Sports ... The Amerks have received word from the American Hockey League that, while the Board of Governors is still working out details for the upcoming season, league play is expected to begin on February 5, 2021. And note that the Redwings are now the Triple-A affiliate of the 2019 World Champion, Washington Nationals.
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* Proverbs (chapter 28/verse 22): “He that hastes to be rich has an evil eye, and considers not that poverty shall come upon him.” hastes=hurries.
[A timely warning against get-rich-quick schemes]
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Tulelake, CA News Edition
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VOLUME I NUMBER 1 OCTOBER 12, 2020
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* Congressional News Briefs … The Paycheck Protection Program ended on August 8, with about $135 billion in Program reserves unspent, and Tulelake’s agent in the U.S. House of Representatives, Doug LaMalfa, considering the initiative a success, insofar as it reportedly preserved about 51 million jobs--12 million of which were located in rural areas--has signed a petition requiring 218 House Member signatures, to bring this matter up for consideration on the House floor. The thrust of the associated bill, House bill 8265, is to qualify businesses for a second Program loan if they can show a reduction in revenue, to relax spending requirements, and to enable businesses--Congressman LaMalfa has small Northern California businesses in mind--to claim loan forgiveness. LaMalfa expresses disappointment that, as more businesses close for good and could make use of the already-authorized aid, amid an active wildfire season, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has blocked Congress from addressing small-business needs. Also, the California Representative informs that he helped draft legislation the House passed to revise the 2018 Water Resources Development Act to offer relief to Klamath Basin farmers and ranchers that suffered water shutoffs threatening to the Basin economy. The bill permits the Bureau of Reclamation to earmark as much as $10 million annually for conservation and water-efficiency measures and authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to exercise greater flexibility in meeting the needs of water users and to protect duck populations in the Klamath National Wildlife Refuge from drought, as well. Since the U.S. Senate has already passed the bill, LaMalfa trusts that, President Donald Trump, given his commitment to aiding Basin farmers and ranchers, will sign the bill into law. Commenting on House Bill 925, a $2.4-trillion, supposed coronavirus-spending package, which he characterizes as the Speaker's "partisan wish list" because it was written without opportunity for Republican participation and contains much irrelevant to the coronavirus, Congressman LaMalfa says his vote against the proposal owed, in part, to the Democrat leader's attempt "to prop up the vulnerable members of her party headed into Election Day." The GOP Congressman's objections to the bill center on its tendency "to fund dangerous programs, like letting felons out of prison, providing stimulus checks to illegal immigrants, de-funding police, and federalizing the electoral process." In particular, he mentions removal of $600 million for COPS Hiring and state and local law-enforcement aid, opening a loophole for Planned Parenthood to receive taxpayer money under the Paycheck Protection Program, dispensing with ID requirements for in-person voting, eliminating the limitations on State and Local Tax (SALT) deductibility, and, among other demerits, stripping the Food Stamp program of its work-incentive provisions. California Senator Dianne Feinstein, together with Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, concede that, from the beginning of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative in 1996, Congress and the Defense Department expressed too much confidence in the private firms administering the program; namely, through such features as 50-year leases between the companies and the service branches. The National Defense Authorization Act in the 2020 fiscal-year addressed health, safety and environmental hazards in the private military housing, and, in keeping with the Act, the Defense Department announced an 18-point Tenant Bill of Rights during February, 2020. Still, the Senators note, four of the required rights have yet to be extended, since there is no standard lease, no tenant access to the housing unit's maintenance history, no mechanism for withholding the Basic Allowance for Housing when a dispute between company and tenant occurs, and no process for resolution of disputes. Toward greater oversight by Congress and the Defense Department, the California Senator and her colleagues have introduced the Ensuring Safe Housing for Our Military Act (Senate Bill 703) and have requested a progress report on the Tenant Bill of Rights from Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Then, too, the Senator, along with all Judiciary Committee Democrats, argue that a Senate hearing on Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett "would endanger health, safety." They add, "Now is the time to provide much-needed COVID relief, not to rush through a Supreme Court nomination and further endanger health and safety." In their letter to Chairman Lindsey Graham, they oppose a remote hearing on the nomination, too.
* State Government News Briefs … Tulelake’s representative in the California Senate, Brian Dahle, has announced his opposition to a measure passed by the California Legislature that would extend and re-direct until 2051 the utility tax ratepayers now pay. He is critical, besides, of Assembly Bill 1788, saying that the state has established many pesticide regulations, but fails to pursue those who use rodenticides and other pesticides illegally or negligently. Moreover, remarking on Governor Gavin Newsom's long-range plan to ban gasoline-powered cars from the state's roads, he points out that the state cannot even ensure dependable electricity, much less power electric cars. In an appraisal of the legislative session, the Governor has announced vetoing an additional 16 bills, including Assembly Bill 1835 because it would require the California Board of Education to undertake a lengthy rule-making process to amend the Local Control Funding Formula and delay use of unspent supplemental and concentration grant funds to benefit the most-vulnerable students for two school-years. The Governor favors a January budget solution, instead. He cited, as accomplishments, imposition of a ban on a number of toxic chemicals in cosmetic products, establishment of the state's own generic drug label (Cal Rx) as a means of lowering prescription-drug prices, creation of a task force to look into reparations for slavery, expansion of paid sick leave and family leave for front-line workers, and passage of new eviction and foreclosure-protection legislation for those confronted with a loss of housing due to the economic effects of the coronavirus.
* County Government News Briefs … The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, at its meeting of October 6, was poised to take up a Consent Agenda consisting of approval of a letter to President Donald Trump asking for federal aid to counties affected by wildfire and the coronavirus public-health emergency; authorization to apply for and accept a California Library Literacy Services grant in the amount of $56,000; approval of a 2020-2021 fiscal-year contract with the First 5 Siskiyou Children & Families Commission, in an amount not greater than $30,000, to furnish mental-health services and outreach to youth aged 0 to 5; adoption of a Resolution authorizing acceptance of a CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act 2020 Emerging Issues Project allocation award of $166,978 for adjusting community-mitigation responses to the coronavirus in the County, through March 23, 2022; and, among other items, adoption of a Resolution okaying the submission of application(s) for Per Capita Grant Funds through the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Under Departmental Requests, newly-appointed Sheriff-Coroner Jeremiah LaRue was to be sworn in, and consideration was to be given to an Urgency Ordinance amending the County Code on standards for wells, with a Public Hearing scheduled for the Second Reading of the Ordinance. With regard to appointments, County Supervisors were set to appoint one Delegate and an Alternate to serve on the California State Association of Counties Board of Directors for the 2020-2021 Association year.
* City Government News Briefs ... The City Council, at a conference-call Special Meeting on October 8, was set to take up an agenda providing for approval of the Minutes of its Special Meeting on September 15 and its Regular Meeting on that date, along with approval of bill payments, and to receive public comments. [The Regular Meeting on September 15 dealt with the matter of authorization to apply for a LEAP (Local Early Action Planning) grant in the amount of $65,000 for re-zoning, updating planning documents, ordinances, and housing elements before the January 31, 2021 deadline; consideration of a possible change of ownership to the City of the Clyde Hotel and associated grant opportunities; possible acceptance of a construction bid on the Veterans Park Expansion Project; and, among other items of business, approval of a contract for on-call Engineering Services. The Special Meeting took up the matter of Police Officer appointments in Closed Session and considered approval of a professional-services agreement with Jesse Small to perform artistic services in connection with the Veterans Park Expansion Project.] In addition, time was scheduled for delivery of reports from community and/or school representatives; for authorization to pursue funding to cover the deficiency preventing initiation of the Veterans Park Expansion Project; for discussion, toward approval, of the proposed valued engineering contract suggested by the Director of Public Works; and for permission for the City Hall Administrator to advertise for the Temporary City Staff/Library position. The subsequent Closed Session of the Council, over which Mayor Henry Ebinger was to preside, was tasked to discuss a citizen complaint against the City Hall Administrator concerning payment of a utility bill and cumulative fees, while a succeeding Closed Council Session was concerned with Performance Evaluations of all City Department Heads. Thereafter, Department Heads were allotted time to furnish updates on matters relating to their areas of responsibility, and comments from such City officials as the City Engineer, the Chief of Police, the Director of Public Works, the City Clerk, the City Treasurer, and Council Members (Gary Fensler, Richard Marcillac, Penny Velador, and Henry Ebinger) were entertained.
* Weather ... The National Weather Service reports that, as of 1:05 AM, current conditions at Klamath Falls International Airport are mostly cloudy, with a temperature of 48 degrees Fahrenheit, relative humidity of 70 percent, wind out of the south at 6 miles per hour, barometric pressure of 30.23 inches, a dewpoint of 39 degrees, and visibility of 10 miles. The over-night forecast for Tulelake calls for partly-cloudy skies, with a light west wind and a low temperature of about 33 degrees. Columbus Day is expected to be mostly sunny, with light and variable wind becoming westerly at 6 to 11 miles per hour in the afternoon and with a daily high temperature of about 64 degrees. Monday night is expected to be mostly clear, with a low temperature of about 33 degrees and west-northwest wind of 5 to 10 miles per hour becoming light and variable in the evening, while the forecast for Tuesday calls for mostly-sunny skies, a daily high temperature near 70 degrees, and light and variable wind becoming westerly at 5 to 10 miles per hour in the afternoon.
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