Monday, November 30, 2009
Now that DEREK MAY is Leaving the St. Augustine WRecKord, Morris Needs to Re-Hire Cartoonist Ed Hall, Wrongfully Fired for Cartoon on School Budgets
Injustice against one is injustice against everyone -- Hall's cartoon was of a generic bloated Florida school superintendent. Hall made people think. Advertising-minded DEREK MAY didn't get it.
Under new management, Ed Hall needs to return as a political cartoonist.
PR Newswire: St. Augustine WRecKOrd Publisher Derek May Promoted (or was it kicked upstairs)? Will be working on advertising, not journalism, @ GA HQ
Derek May Named Assistant to the President, Morris Communications Company
AUGUSTA, Ga., Nov. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Derek May has been named assistant to the president of Morris Communications Company, LLC. His appointment to the newly-created position is effective Jan. 4, 2010.
"Derek has been part of the Morris Communications family for more than two decades, and he brings broad-ranging experience to this new position," said William S. Morris IV, President. "We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with him in this new capacity."
A native Augustan and graduate of Augusta State University, he began his career at Morris in 1988, working in information technology at the corporate headquarters. He has held positions with The Augusta Chronicle and the Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal, served as director of sales and marketing at the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald, and was named publisher of The St. Augustine (Fla.) Record in 2006. In his new role, Mr. May will work with all Morris business entities, with special emphasis on advertising. He will be based in Augusta.
"I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with the entire Morris family of businesses in this capacity. I'm also excited to move back to my family's hometown," said Mr. May.
"Derek May is a bright young man who has applied his skills and energy to all the tasks we have asked him to undertake, and he has handled them with distinction. He has developed a broad base of newspaper experience which will serve him well in his new role at the corporate level," said William S. Morris III, Chairman and CEO.
Morris Communications Company, LLC is a privately held media company with diversified holdings that include visitor guide publishing, outdoor advertising, magazine publishing, radio broadcasting, book publishing and distribution and online services.
Morris Publishing Group, LLC, Morris Communications' affiliate, is a privately held media company based in Augusta, Ga. Morris Publishing currently owns and operates 13 daily newspapers as well as nondaily newspapers, city magazines and free community publications in the Southeast, Midwest, Southwest and Alaska.
For more information, visit Morris' Web site, morris.com.
SOURCE Morris Communications Company, LLC
Stetson Kennedy, 93, has made countless historical contributions, all to improve human rights.
In his latest project, Kennedy is being honored for "holding up a mirror to America," something he says he has tried to do throughout his entire life.
He is part of a film and exhibit shown on the Smithsonian channel and touring 30 libraries throughout the country. So far, the only library in Florida scheduled to have the film and exhibit is the Broward County Library. Kennedy would like to see more libraries display it.
The exhibit, called "Soul of a People," tells of the 1937 Federal Writers Project that fell under the Works Progress Administration, created by President Franklin Roosevelt. The project sent numerous writers and photographers across the nation to produce a portrait of the United States for travel guides, according to the Smithsonian.
But Kennedy, a leader on the project, had something else in mind.
"They wanted bathing beauties and palm trees," he said Sunday. "We wanted to show the warts, like the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and Jim Crow laws."
Kennedy was only 21, but he was put in charge of the project's folklore, oral history and ethnic studies. He landed the job by sending in old sayings to the Library of Congress' director of folklore that he had collected from rural white and black families in St. Johns County.
He gathered the stories while working for his father who owned a furniture business that allowed poor families to purchase items by paying a dollar at a time.
"My job was to collect the dollar," Kennedy said. "I began to take down a list of old sayings from the people that I went to see."
Kennedy oversaw famous writers such as Zora Neale Hurston, with whom he traveled throughout Florida.
The "Soul of a People" project is touting Kennedy as one of its main focuses. Stetson said the reason why he was more successful than other directors in the Federal Writers Project is because he sent African-American writers to interview African-Americans.
"Others sent out white men and they weren't going to tell them the truth," Kennedy said. "I used the idea of black on black. It paid off."
Stetson said they interviewed some African-Americans in their 80s and even a few more than 100 years old who were former slaves.
"We'd run into characters," he said. "They all mostly said, 'I always had to work hard just to live.' I know there's a lot of people who can still say that."
And that's what keeps Kennedy going at 93. Last week he was seen protesting with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers outside Publix at Cobblestone Village. The coalition has been touring the state for the past few months to protest the food chain for, coalition members say, contributing to poor working conditions in tomato fields by continuing to buy from suppliers who pay unfair wages. The coalition says these wages amount to -- what they called "modern-day slavery."
Kennedy has written several award-winning books, but he also has a dozen manuscripts in the works.
His wife Sandra Parks said, "As long as he's got a book in mind and is adored he's not going anywhere."
Kennedy said he's happy to see the Federal Writers Project getting recognition.
"There aren't too many of us left who worked on the project," he said. "A good many people are paying attention to it and here it is three-quarters of a century after it ended."
'SOUL OF A PEOPLE'
* Stetson Kennedy is being featured in a film and exhibit called "Soul of a People."
* It tells of the 1937 Federal Writers Project that fell under the Works Progress Administration, created by President Franklin Roosevelt.
* The film has aired on the Smithsonian channel and will travel to 30 libraries throughout the nation, including The Broward County Library in Fort Lauderdale.
By Ben Pershing
Forty-five years after Congress first began publishing its expenditures, the House took another step into the modern age Monday by putting those numbers somewhere the public can actually find them -- the Internet.
After years of lobbying by watchdog groups and other critics, the House has finally begun posting electronic copies of its Statement of Disbursements, a detailed accounting of how every House office -- including those of members, committees and support organizations -- spends its money. The numbers include everything from staff salaries to expenses for mundane office items such as water and magazine subscriptions.
Only one volume is online so far at disbursements.house.gov, covering July 1 through Sept. 30. At close to 3,400 pages, the document is available in one massive (9.4 MB) PDF file or three smaller ones. Unwieldy as the electronic files might be, they still represent a stark change from the old (and still available) version of the disbursements, which came only in thick, expensive books full of tiny type.
The House has been publishing its disbursements since 1964, but only this past June did Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) finally order the chamber's Chief Administrative Officer to begin posting them online. In a statement issued by her office Monday, Pelosi said, "The continued publication of these statements online will expand accountability to taxpayers and the press."
The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit watchdog group, said on its blog that the posting Monday showed "a proactive stance from the US House" but is "just a first step." The foundation and other groups hope eventually for the data to be released more quickly and in a format easier to search and digest than a giant PDF.
LegiStorm, a private Web site, already publishes some congressional expenditures online, allowing users to look at salary data for Hill staffers. But the site does not publish the complete Statement of Disbursements in one file, as the House now does.
The Senate is also working toward putting its expenses online, though that effort is not expected to bear fruit until 2011.
By Ben Pershing | November 30, 2009; 2:42 PM ET
Representative John L. Mica (R-FL 7th)
Political Action Committee Contributions: 2009-2010 Campaign Cycle
Total 2009-2010 campaign contributions: $200,250
Sort by: Total Amount | Contributor
3M COMPANY PAC $1000
ABX AIR INC. PAC $1000
AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION PAC $2500
AIRCRAFT OWNERS AND PILOTS ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $4500
AIRPORTS COUNCIL INTERNATIONAL-NORTH AMERICA POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (AIRPORT PAC) $1000
AMERICAN AIRLINES POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $2000
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF AIRPORT EXECUTIVES $3500
AMERICAN BANKERS ASSOCIATION PAC (BANKPAC) $-1500
AMERICAN BUS ASSOCIATION-BUSPAC POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
AMERICAN CHEMISTRY COUNCIL PAC $1000
AMERICAN COUNCIL OF ENGINEERING COMPANIES (ACEC/PAC) $2000
AMERICAN CRYSTAL SUGAR COMPANY POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $5000
AMERICAN FOREST & PAPER ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
AMERICAN MARITIME OFFICERS RETIREES ASSOCIATION VOLUNTARY POLITICAL ACTION FUND $1000
AMERICAN MARITIME OFFICERS VOLUNTARY POLITICAL ACTION FUND $3500
AMERICAN MOVING AND STORAGE ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (AMPAC) $1000
AMERICAN ROAD & TRANSPORTATION BUILDERS ASSOCIATION PAC $4000
AMERICAN SHIPPING AND LOGISTICS GROUP INC FREEDOM PAC/ASL FREEDOM PAC $1000
AMERICAN SHIPPING GROUP MARINE RESOURCES GROUP $1000
AMERICAN TRAFFIC SAFETY SERVICES ASSOCIATION PAC $1000
AMERICAN WATERWAYS OPERATORS-PAC $1000
APL LIMITED PAC $2500
ARCADIS U.S., INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (ARCADIS PAC) $2000
ASSOCIATED BUILDERS AND CONTRACTORS, PAC $1000
ASSOCIATED EQUIPMENT DISTRIBUTORS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1500
ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF AMERICA POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
ASSOCIATION OF AIR MEDICAL SERVICES POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $500
AT&T INC. FEDERAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (AT&T FEDERAL PAC) $1000
BAKER, DONELSON, BEARMAN, CALDWELL & BERKOWITZ, PC PAC $1000
BALCH AND BINGHAM LLP FEDERAL POLITICAL COMMITTEE $1000
BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION FEDERAL PAC $1000
BIKES BELONG COALITION, LTD. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $2500
BLANK ROME PAC $1000
BOEING COMPANY POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE, THE $3000
BURSON-MARSTELLER/YOUNG & RUBICAM POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $500
CEMEX INC. EMPLOYEES POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
CHEVRON EMPLOYEES POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE - CHEVRON CORPORATION $1000
COMCAST CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE- FEDERAL $1000
CROPLIFE AMERICA POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
CUBIC CORPORATION EMPLOYEES' POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $2500
DISTRICT NO. 1-PCD MEBA POLITICAL FUND (MEBA-PAF) $2500
DLA PIPER LLP (US) POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (DLA PIPER PAC) $750
DMJM HARRIS PAC $3500
EMPLOYEES OF NORTHROP GRUMMAN CORPORATION PAC $1000
EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (EXXONMOBIL PAC) $1000
FEDEXPAC FEDERAL EXPRESS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $4000
FERT PAC (THE POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE OF THE FERTILIZER INSTITUTE) $2000
FLORIDA SUGAR CANE LEAGUE PAC $1000
FLORIDA TRANSPORTATION BUILDERS' ASSOCIATION INC FEDERAL PAC $5000
FLUOR CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (FLUOR PAC) $1000
FULBRIGHT & JAWORSKI L L P FEDERAL COMMITTEE $1000
GENERAL ATOMICS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
GENERAL AVIATION MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
GENERAL DYNAMICS VOLUNTARY POLITICAL CONTRIBUTION PLAN (GDVPCP) $1000
GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (GEPAC) $2000
GRANITE CONSTRUCTION INC. EMPLOYEE PAC - GRANITEPAC $1500
HARRIS CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $5000
HERZOG CONTRACTING CORP POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $500
HNTB HOLDINGS LTD. PAC $1000
HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $5000
HORIZON LINES LLC ASSOCIATES GOOD GOVERNMENT FUND/HORIZON LINES ASSOCIATES GOOD GOVT FUND $1000
INSTITUTE OF MAKERS OF EXPLOSIVES POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (IMEPAC) $2000
INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF SHOPPING CENTERS INC POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (ICSC PAC) $2500
INTERNATIONAL PAPER POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
JACOBS GOOD GOVERNMENT FUND OF JACOBS ENGINEERING GROUP INC. $5000
K&L GATES LLP POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (DC) $1000
KING & SPALDING NONPARTISAN COMMITTEE FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT $1000
KRAFT FOODS GLOBAL INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (KRAFTPAC) $1000
LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION EMPLOYEES' POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $6000
MAERSK INC. GOOD GOVERNMENT FUND $2500
MASTERS, MATES AND PILOTS POLITICAL CONTRIBUTION FUND $2500
NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL AVIATION ASSOCIATION AG-AV PAC $1000
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CHEMICAL DISTRIBUTORS RESPONSIBLE DISTRIBUTION POLITICAL ACTION CO $1000
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WATER COMPANIES POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (NAWC - PAC) $1000
NATIONAL BEER WHOLESALERS ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $2500
NATIONAL CATTLEMEN'S BEEF ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (NCBA-PAC) $2500
NATIONAL PROPANE GAS ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
NATIONAL READY MIXED CONCRETE ASSN. PAC (CONCRETEPAC) $1000
NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA POLITICAL VICTORY FUND $1000
NATIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION ASSOCIATION $1000
NATIONAL STONE, SAND & GRAVEL ASSOCIATION ROCKPAC $3000
NATIONAL UTILITY CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION LEGISLATIVE INFORMATION AND ACTION COMMITTEE $1500
NATSO INC. NATSO PAC $1000
NCR CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (NCRPAC) $500
NELSON, MULLINS, RILEY & SCARBOROUGH FEDERAL POLITICAL COMMITTEE $1000
NORFOLK SOUTHERN CORPORATION GOOD GOVERNMENT FUND $5000
OLDCASTLE MATERIALS INC. PAC $3000
OUTDOOR ADVERTISING ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
OXBOW CARBON & MINERALS HOLDINGS, INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $500
PARSONS CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
PHILIPS ELECTRONICS NORTH AMERICA CORPORATION EMPLOYEES POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $500
PORTLAND CEMENT ASSOCIATION INC. PCA PAC $1000
PROGRESS ENERGY EMPLOYEES' FEDERAL PAC $1000
R.J. REYNOLDS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE; REYNOLDS AMERICAN INC. $1000
RAILAMERICA INC FEDERAL POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $500
RAYTHEON COMPANY POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTTEE $5000
RIO TINTO AMERICA INC. PAC $500
ROCKWELL COLLINS INC. GOOD GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE $1000
ROLLS-ROYCE NORTH AMERICA HOLDINGS INC. PAC (ROLLS-ROYCE NORTH AMERICA PAC) $1000
SAFETY-KLEEN INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
SEAFARERS POLITICAL ACTIVITY DONATION-SEAFARERS INTERNATIONAL UNION OF N.A.-AGLIWD/NMU $1000
SIEMENS CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $2000
SONNENSCHEIN NATH & ROSENTHAL LLP POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE(SONNENSCHEIN PAC) $1000
SRA INTERNATIONAL INC FUND FOR BETTER IT IN GOVERNMENT $1000
TAXICAB LIMOUSINE $2000
TRANSPORTATION INTERMEDIARIES ASSOCIATION'S TIAPAC $1000
TRAVELPORT INC. PAC $1000
TRUCKING POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE OF THE AMERICAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS, INC. $1000
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE INC. PAC $5000
UNITED PILOTS PAC/AIRLINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION $2500
UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (UTU PAC) $5000
VULCAN MATERIALS COMPANY POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1500
WEXLER & WALKER PUBLIC POLICY ASSOCIATES PAC (A UNIT OF HILL & KNOWLTON) $1000
WINSTEAD PC POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
Who are MICA's lucky no-bid landlords?
EQUITY HOLDING CORP. OF FLAGLER $4200/year Registered agent is MICA contributor.
FLORIDA HOSPITAL MEMORIAL $6600/year
JOHNS FAMILY PARTNERSHIP, LTD $9600/year St. Augustine office
LARRY KENT $1920/year
POINT 100 BUILDING LP $23,904/year Tri-Cor International HQ, Maitland
Why won't Rep. JOHN LUIGI MICA rent space in federal government buildings from the Post Office, the National Guard, the Social Security Administration or other federal agencies?
Inquiring minds would like to know.
Monday, July 26, 2004
Lithium Battery Fire Could Burn Through a Cargo Hold
Halon extinguishing agent has no effect on fire intensity
Lithium batteries may represent the ultimate hazardous material, especially when shipped in bulk as cargo, with the potential to breach all defenses should they catch fire. That is the principal finding of a June report of lithium battery fire tests conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Technical Center at Atlantic City, N.J.
The extreme hazard portrayed in the report suggests that it may be time to consider restricting lithium battery shipments to cargo aircraft. Presently, lithium battery shipments require prominent labeling as hazardous cargo, and, after Jan. 1, 2005, the batteries must undergo a "battery" of tests in order to be approved for shipment. However, those tests - for altitude, vibration, shock, etc. - do not include a test for fire resistance. In a shipment of closely packed lithium batteries, should one battery catch fire, a chain reaction results. The fire spreads from battery to battery in an explosive conflagration of molten lithium, according to the Technical Center report.
The examination of lithium battery fires was undertaken after a pallet of such batteries caught fire on the ground at Los Angeles International Airport in April 1999. The pallet was inadvertently dropped onto the tarmac, and a battery fire resulted, despite there being no external ignition source. There are no confirmed reports of bulk lithium battery fires in the air, but that is precisely the reason the FAA Tech Center undertook its examination of this more dangerous scenario. There is one case where a lithium battery fire may have played a role in the crash of a transport category airplane. In November 1987 a South African Airways B747 combi (a hybrid freighter with a partition separating cargo from passengers on the main deck), with 159 passengers aboard and cargo which included a consignment of lithium watch batteries, disappeared into the Indian Ocean off Mauritius.
After a wreck survey by robot cameras and limited debris recovery, investigators determined that the lithium batteries were located in the same area that was established to have been the seat of the fire. The airplane also was carrying a cargo of ammonium perchlorate, a rocket propellant known to be unstable and capable of spontaneous ignition. As a propellant with its own oxygen, ammonium perchlorate would have rapidly promoted a fire. However, in revealing testimony to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the presence of the lithium battery shipment was mentioned, and is pertinent to what has been revealed by the FAA lithium fire tests about battery venting, explosions, and accelerated self-reactive fires. The testimony obviously was dealing with the batteries' packaging material, but the general description of the fire that doomed the plane reinforces the point that lithium batteries can be extremely dangerous if they catch fire.
Using a steel test chamber to simulate an aircraft cargo hold, the FAA tests show that a runaway fire involving a shipment of lithium batteries might well result in loss of the aircraft. The batteries involved were those used commonly in consumer electronic products (e.g., video cameras).
Batteries were tested singly, and in groups of 32, 64 and 128. Tests also involved groups of batteries packed in rows inside cardboard boxes.
For test purposes, the battery fires were started by igniting a "fire pan" filled with alcohol. The findings were fearful. To summarize:
- A relatively small fire source was sufficient to start a lithium battery fire.
- The heat from a single battery afire was sufficient to ignite adjacent batteries.
- The outer plastic coating on the batteries easily melted, fusing the batteries together, adding to the intensity of the fire.
- The chain reaction ignition continued until all batteries were consumed.
- The molten lithium burned explosively, spraying white-hot lithium to a radius of several feet as the batteries bounced around.
- The duration of the peak temperature increased with the number of batteries, reaching as high as 1,400� F (as a matter of interest, the melting temperature of aluminum is around 1,200� F).
- The cardboard packing proved highly flammable. The packing delayed battery ignition by about 30-60 seconds, but once ignited, the fire among the close-packed batteries was worse.
- While thick-wall cargo liners were able to contain the fire (barely), thin-walled fire liners proved ineffective. The battery fire ignited the resin in the liner, and the liner was completely penetrated by molten lithium.
- Halon fire-suppressing agent, injected in sufficient concentration to "knock down" a fire, proved totally ineffective, even when injected after just the first battery had caught fire. Nor did it have any effect on the peak temperature. The fire continued as if Halon were not present.
- Lithium batteries catch fire with explosive force. When they burst, they create a pressure pulse. The eight-battery test produced a pressure pulse of 1.8 psi, and the 16- battery test generated a 2.6 psi pulse.
According to the Tech Center report:
"These results are significant. The cargo compartment is only constructed to withstand a 1-psi pressure differential in order to rapidly equalize the pressure in the event of a depressurization. Anything over 1 psi would activate the blowout panels, compromising the cargo compartment's [fire-resistant] integrity."
The effect is the same as perforating the cargo liner.
- A cargo bay fire from a totally unrelated source can cause a shipment of lithium batteries to ignite. Tech Center investigators found that the temperatures found in a suppressed smoldering cargo fire are sufficient to ignite a lithium battery.
Add one other factor - the butane used as propellant in personal care products packed into passengers' bags - and put it all together: A cargo fire of unknown origin starts and ignites a shipment of lithium batteries. With a cargo bay fire warning in the cockpit, the pilots discharge Halon, with no effect. The molten fireworks of lithium burns through the cargo liner, and penetrates the aluminum skin of the cargo bay. The holes allow for an inrush of air, adding oxygen to the fire. The exploding batteries create sufficient overpressure to punch out the blowout panels - allowing for more inrush of oxygen and spread of the fire outside the hold. The heat rise is sufficient to cause aerosol cans of shaving cream, hairspray, etc., to burst. Earlier tests have demonstrated that a single such can, placed in a bag located near the ceiling, can explode with sufficient force to distort and heave up the cabin floor.
Although they must be marked as hazardous cargo, there presently is no limit on the number of lithium batteries that can be shipped on a commercial aircraft.
There are two obvious implications of this scenario. First, ETOPS (extended range operations) is based on the presumption that a belly-hold fire can be suppressed by Halon for three hours. It does not account for the catastrophic progression of a pallet of lithium batteries catching fire. Such a fire would easily burn its way through current defenses.
The danger is such that a terrorist would not need to use explosives that could be detected in his checked or hand luggage by an explosives detection system (EDS). A lithium fire would create havoc enough. This scenario supports the need, as a minimum, for positive passenger bag-match (PPBM) for domestic flights as well as the current requirement for international flights (see ASW, Nov. 12, 2001).
There is one bit of final irony to this tale: the smoke detector units of some aircraft fire detection systems are powered by lithium batteries.
(The full report, "Flammability Assessment of Bulk-Packed, Nonrechargeable Lithium Primary Batteries in Transport Category Aircraft," Report No. DOT/FAA/AR-04/26, may be viewed at http://www.fire.tc.faa.gov/pdf/04-26.pdf. The UK Civil Aviation Authority produced a report in July 2003 in which Halon was found effective for suppression of single-battery lithium fires, although in these cases the batteries were contained in their electronic devices. For this report, see http://www.caa.co.uk/publications/publicationdetails.asp?id=985)
Union: Ban Lithium Batteries on Planes
Air Line Pilots Association Says Bulk Shipments of Batteries Can Start Fires in Cargo(AP) The world's largest pilots union said Tuesday it wants bulk shipments of lithium batteries and products containing the batteries banned from passenger and cargo planes because they can start a fire.
In seeking a federal ban, the Air Line Pilots Association pointed to three incidents since June in which lithium battery shipments apparently caused fires aboard U.S. planes.
On Aug. 14, a fire in a shipment of 1,000 e-cigarettes - a battery-powered device that provides inhaled doses of nicotine - was discovered in the cargo compartment of a plane after it landed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Each cigarette contained a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
In another instance, a package of cell phone batteries shipped from Michigan to the Dominican Republic was found smoking and smoldering after a United Parcel Service plane landed in Santo Domingo on July 15. The package documentation indicated "used batteries - non-haz."
A burned package containing a lithium-ion "bicycle-power device" was discovered in the cargo of a UPS flight from Ontario, Calif., to Honolulu on June 18, the union said.
"The evidence of a clear and present danger is mounting," Mark Rogers, director of the union's dangerous good program, said in a statement. "We need an immediate ban on these dangerous goods to protect airline passengers, crews and cargo."
The union emphasized that it is not seeking a ban on passengers carrying electronic devices containing lithium batteries onto planes, such as laptop computers, cell phones, and cameras. Instead, the union's concern is with cargo containing multiple batteries, either loose or inside products.
If a battery short-circuits, it can catch fire and that fire can ignite other batteries.
John Prater, the union's president, said in a letter to Cynthia Douglass, acting deputy administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, that an immediate ban on shipments is necessary until the agency can develop regulations for safe packaging of the batteries for transport.
He noted that Douglass told a House panel this spring that the safety administration is working on new regulations for the shipment of lithium batteries. However, he said that if the government doesn't act quickly, the union will ask Congress to step in.
Officials for the safety administration didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Prater said the three recent incidents are similar to a Feb. 7, 2006, incident in which a UPS DC-8 made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport after the flight crew detected smoke in the cargo hold, which worsened as the plane descended. The plane landed safely and the crew escaped with minor injuries, but the plane and most of the cargo were destroyed.
"We have been most fortunate that the lithium-ion battery malfunctions (in the three recent incidents) didn't cause an accident, but luck is not a sound safety strategy," Prater said.
The Federal Aviation Administration no longer permits large, pallet-size shipments of lithium-metal batteries on passenger planes. Airline passengers are not allowed to pack loose lithium batteries in checked luggage. Consumer electronics containing lithium batteries are still allowed in carry-on and checked luggage. However, passengers are limited to two spare lithium batteries in carry-on baggage.
By Abraham Aboraya
November 11, 2009
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS - On Saturday, Representative John Boehner and Representative John Mica voted in the capital against President Barack Obama's signature health care legislation.
On Sunday, they were more than 830 miles south, speaking at the Seminole County Republican Party's Lincoln Reagan Day Dinner at the Altamonte Springs Hilton.
Mica, whose district includes parts of Altamonte Springs and Casselberry, and Boehner, the highest ranking Republican in the House, were the featured speakers.
Both used the opportunity to take shots at the Democrats' bill, saying that the 2010 election would bring a check to the Democrats.
"This is the beginning of the end of the other side for what they did to the American people last night," Mica said.
Boehner's statements a few minutes later echoed Mica's.
"The only thing we can do over the next year is make sure we elect Republicans to congressional districts around the country, and if we do, we will win," Boehner said. "We'll put a check on this administration's ability to socialize our economy."
Boehner represents Ohio's Eighth Congressional District, and comes from a catholic family with 11 brothers and sisters. Boehner told the full Crystal Ballroom that he was raised as a Democrat but began changing his mind when his business paid more in taxes in 1978 than it earned gross in 1976.
Boehner said that, in 1970, the top income tax rate bracket was 70 percent.
"I went to Washington because I was convinced government was choking the goose that was laying golden eggs," Boehner said. "I went there to get government's hand off the goose so the goose could keep laying golden eggs. Needless to say, I haven't succeeded yet."
Out of all the speakers, Boehner seemed to draw the biggest laughs and the biggest applause. His speech style seems to blend tongue-in-cheek and serious rhetoric.
He said that the American people have been rejecting the change the new administration is bringing.
"I went to Washington because I believe in our cause," Boehner said. "You're here tonight because you believe in our cause. One only has to look at what's happened this year to realize that our cause is the right cause. ... Every change that [Obama]'s offered, the American people soundly rejected."
The speakers weren't just federal, either. Florida Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum spoke at the dinner.
He said that, historically, Florida has depended on agriculture and tourism as its two main industries. And while he said he would work to keep those industries booming, Florida has to branch out.
"We cannot any longer depend on just those two industries for the future of Florida," he said. "We have to grow our state. I happen to believe in growing wealth, not redistributing it. I think that's extraordinarily important."
The dinner included a plethora of elected officials and notables in Seminole County. Former Oviedo congressman Tom Feeney was at the event, as was Florida representative Sandy Adams.
County Commissioners Bob Dallari and Mike McLean were at the event - a fundraiser for local Republicans - as well as Oviedo's recently re-elected Mayor Mary Lou Andrews. Deputy Mayor Dominic Persampiere was also in attendance.
Persampiere said he liked the event. He almost won one of the silent auctions for a framed picture of Lincoln, complete with complete strands of his hair and a piece of the flag from his funeral procession.
"It was a well put-on event, and, as always, well attended," Persampiere said. "The Republican Party certainly isn't dead. They just talked about balancing the views on what's going on. It wasn't completely partisan, it wasn't over the top, it was 'Hey, let's have a conversation.' The speakers were excellent."
Boehner touched on how difficult it's been to be a Republican as of late.
"Over the last couple election cycles, it hasn't been easy to be a Republican," he said. "We made our share of mistakes; the American people gave up on us. My job as Republican leader of the House ... is to help give the American people reasons to believe."
All the speakers were introduced by Patsy Gilbert, a professional Sarah Palin impersonator. She gave the keynote speakers boxes of Mooseburger Helper - buckshot free and "locked and loaded for flavor."
"I've been doing it (the Palin impressions) since the morning after her nomination acceptance speech," Gilbert said. "I go all over the country doing it. ... I've been almost everywhere in the lower 48 doing it, but I'm based out of Orlando."
Where exothermic reactions on aircraft are concerned, the "precautionary principle" governs public policy, just as it does on other hazardous substances and other potential terrorism tools.
HEATHER BEAVEN does not get it. Please see below.
Parvenu HEATHER BEAVEN eschewed the precautionary principle twice -- once in not researching lithium batteries on aircraft before emitting errant nonsense, and again in mocking Congressman JOHN LUIGIC MICA"s following the precautionary principle.
Ordinarily, JOHN LUIGI MICA is a gambler who runs the table, betting the environment and tourist economy of state on offshore oil drilling, for example. When MICA actually takes the time to work to protect people (as on lithium batteries today and the Glass-Steagall Act in the 1990s), he deserves to be listened to before he is dismissed with ridicule.
Again, JOHN LUIGI MICA is right. HEATHER BEAVEN is wrong. Please regulate lithium batteries on aircraft. It will save lives.
A Fire Risk That Clears Security
Battery fires in personal electronic devices can be scary. But if a battery ignites on a plane, the risks are much greater.
With more people traveling with an assortment of portable electronics — sometimes a plane has more devices than passengers — fires are occurring on airliners with increasing frequency. More than half of the 22 battery fires in the cabin of passenger planes since 1999 have been in the last three years. One air safety expert suggested that these devices might be “the last unrestricted fire hazard” people can bring on airplanes.
This month, the Federal Aviation Administration along with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued special advisories to airlines about yet another gadget: the credit card readers that many have begun to issue to flight attendants to ring up sales of food, drinks and other amenities.
While airlines have used portable credit card readers for several years, the F.A.A. said earlier this month that they needed approval from the agency’s hazardous materials division. Like the majority of hand-held consumer electronic devices, the readers are powered by rechargeable lithium batteries, which the government considers hazardous.
“The carriers came and asked if we would allow them to have the credit card readers on aircraft and they wanted spare lithium batteries to allow them to switch out the batteries,” said Christopher Bonanti, director of the F.A.A. office of hazardous materials. “I was concerned about having spare lithium batteries, and I asked them not to do that.”
Some airlines have agreed to special training for handling batteries and were allowed to carry spares, Mr. Bonanti said. But other airlines, like Delta and JetBlue, figured it was safer to avoid carrying extra batteries altogether.
“They’re not charged onboard the aircraft and batteries aren’t removed from these devices while onboard,” Bryan Baldwin, a JetBlue spokesman, wrote in an e-mail message.
While no fires from credit card readers have been reported, the list of spontaneous combustion events with other devices reads like a thriller. Last month, a portable DVD player was dropped on an American Airlines flight, causing a fire. In March 2008, a United Airlines employee placed a flashlight in the storage compartment of a Boeing 757 at the Denver airport. A report said the flashlight exploded “like gunshots,” turning the on-off switch into a projectile. On a flight to Miami that same month, eight people were injured when a small battery fell against a metal seat frame. In the ensuing explosion, debris singed a passenger’s ear and hair and the smoke sickened seven crew members.
In 2004, an ABC News camera exploded on a plane being used by the presidential candidate John Edwards. A seat caught fire, causing an emergency return to the airport. Even more events go unreported, the authorities said.
“If you have an issue in the air there’s not a whole lot you can do to recover from it,” said Gerald McNerney, a vice president at Motorola, which provides hand-held devices to airlines. “You put your brand at risk if one of your devices has an issue with the battery. What we’ve done is look at creating backups, duplicity in development so that you’re not going to have an explosion.”
Figures from the Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site show that at least 400,000 portable device batteries have been recalled so far this year, an indication that manufacturing problems are sometimes to blame. Batteries are also becoming more powerful, so that even the smallest have the potential to unleash a lot of heat.
“The battery industry is trying to squeeze more juice into these batteries for longer life,” said Joe Delcambre, a spokesman for the hazardous materials agency. “Smaller battery, more life, with a terminal that can overheat the product — it’s a risk.”
Considering that problems with batteries are occurring on passenger planes at a rate of one every four months, Merritt Birky, formerly a fire and explosions expert with the National Transportation Safety Board who is now a private consultant, suggests they should be kept where passengers can keep an eye on them and out of overhead storage bins.
“Any time you have a fire on board it’s alarming, especially in the overhead bin,” Mr. Birky said. “That area is chock full of luggage and coats so you have lots of fuel for a fire and it’s going to go undetected for quite some time.”
The Transportation Department has created a Web site that includes the rules on traveling with lithium batteries, and it works with the manufacturers of portable electronic devices to spread the word about the hazards. But the transportation safety board estimated that only one person in every 170 to 190 travelers had actually visited the Web site.
“Most air passengers and flight crews are likely unaware of the fire risks posed by rechargeable lithium batteries,” the board wrote in 2008 in recommending a more aggressive approach to educating the public. The F.A.A. plans to follow that suggestion when it begins broadcasting public service announcements in airports next year, Mr. Bonanti said.
“There’s a whole slew of things that can go wrong with a lithium battery,” he said, adding that no matter how comfortable people are with their devices, caution is the best course of action.
Brief for Airline Management
Issue December 2007
Lithium batteries are regulated for transport across all modes of transport (road, rail, sea
and air) as dangerous goods. For air transport, the provisions of the UN Model Regulations
are incorporated into the Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods
by Air published by ICAO. IATA publishes the Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), which
incorporate all of the provisions of the ICAO Technical Instructions together with additional
operational requirements developed by the IATA Dangerous Goods Board.
Batteries pose a unique hazard during transport because they contain stored energy, which
if released through a short circuit is capable of causing a fire.
Lithium batteries can be divided into two groups:
• primary (non-rechargeable) lithium metal batteries; and
• secondary (rechargeable) lithium ion batteries.
Because of their chemistry lithium batteries also pose a chemical hazard because of the
presence of metallic lithium or flammable liquid electrolyte.
Primary (non-rechargeable) lithium metal and secondary (rechargeable) lithium ion
batteries are widely used in various consumer electronic devices. Typically the primary
lithium batteries are used in smaller devices such as watches, calculators and cameras, or
as a back-up power supply. Lithium ion batteries, which tend to be larger, are used in
devices such as laptop computers, mobile telephones and camcorders.
Based on experience gained in transport, and following representation from industry, the
UN Subcommittee provides for some relief from the full regulatory requirements for “small”
lithium batteries. This relief is addressed by way of a Special Provision. The special
provision excepts lithium batteries from the provisions of the dangerous goods regulations
• the lithium batteries are below a certain size. The size is determined by the quantity of
lithium contained in the battery;
• the batteries have been tested in accordance with the defined test requirements; and
• batteries are packed to prevent short circuit.
Carriage by Passengers and Crew
Because of the widespread usage of lithium batteries in consumer electronic devices such
as laptop computers, cell phones, MP3 players and PDAs there are provisions in the DGR
to permit crewmembers and passengers to carry lithium battery powered equipment in
checked or carry-on baggage. Crewmembers and passengers are also permitted to carry
spare lithium batteries for such devices, up to a defined size. Spare lithium batteries must
be in carry-on baggage. For the most part, lithium ion batteries in such consumer electronic
devices will not exceed a capacity of 100 Watt hours (Wh). As an indication a typical laptop
computer battery has a capacity of approximately 53 Wh. Most new batteries will be
marked with the Wh rating.
Amend the Cabin Crew checklist and the amplified Cabin Crew checklist for dangerous
goods incidents in passenger cabin during flight. Changes will be incorporated into the
2009-2010 edition of the ICAO Technical Instructions, 2009-2010 edition of the ICAO
Emergency Response Guidance for Aircraft Incidents Involving Dangerous Goods and
2009 edition of the IATA DGR.
Tests on lithium battery fire
The FAA has created a video which can be downloaded from the following link:
Further Information please contact:
For Inflight issues: For other issues:
Lisa Angiolelli Dave Brennan
Manager Airport & Inflight Assistant Director Special Cargo Standards
+41 22 770 2704 +1 514-874-0202
CABIN CREW CHECKLIST
• Notify Pilot-in-Command
• Identify the item
In case of fire:
• Use Standard procedure / check use of water
In case of fire involving a portable electronic device:
• Use standard procedure / obtain and use fire extinguisher
• Remove external electrical power form device (if applicable)
• Douse deice with water (or other non-flammable liquid) to cool cells and prevent
ignition of adjacent cells
• Do not move device
• Remove power to remaining electrical outlets until the aircraft’s system can be
determined to be free of faults, if the device was previously plugged in
In case of spillage or leakage:
• Collect emergency response kit or other useful items
• Don rubber gloves and smoke hood or smoke mask - probable oxygen
• Move passengers away from area and distribute wet towels or cloth
• Place dangerous goods item in polyethylene bags
• Stow polyethylene bags
• Treat affected seat cushions / covers in the same manner as dangerous goods item
• Cover spillage on carpet / floor
• Regularly inspect item stowed away / contaminated furnishings
• Identify to ground personnel dangerous goods item and where stowed
• Make appropriate entry in maintenance log
AMPLIFIED CABIN CREW CHECKLIST
IN CASE OF FIRE
USE STANDARD PROCEDURE / CHECK USE OF WATER
Standard emergency procedures must be used to deal with any fire. In general, water
should not be used on a spillage or when fumes are present since it may spread the
spillage or increase the rate of fuming. Consideration should also be given to the possible
presence of electrical components when using water extinguishers.
IN CASE OF FIRE INVOLVING A PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE
USE STANDARD PROCEDURE / OBRTAIN AND USE FIRE EXTINGUISHER
Standard emergency procedures must be used to deal with any fire. Although Halon has
been shown to not be effective against lithium metal fires, Halon will be effective in fighting
the subsequent fire of surrounding materials, or in fighting lithium ion battery fire.
REMOVE EXTERNAL ELECTRICAL POWER FORM DEVICE (IF APPRLICABLE)
A battery has a higher likelihood of catching fire through thermal runway during or
immediately following a charging cycle, although the effects of thermal runaway may be
delayed for some period o time. By removing external power form the device, it will be
assured that additional energy is not being fed to the battery to promote a fire.
DOUSE DEVICE WITH WATER (OR OTHER NON-FLAMMABLE LIQUID) TO COOL
CLLS AND PREVENT IGNITION OF ADJACENT CELLS
If available, a water extinguisher should be used to cool the cells in a batter that have
ignited, preventing the spread of heat to adjacent cells. If a water extinguisher is not
available, any non-flammable liquid may be sued to cool the cells and device.
DO NOT MOVE DEVICE
A battery pack involved in a fire has been shown to reignite and emit flames multiple times
as heat is transferred to other cells in the pack. It is preferable to cool the device using
water (or other non-flammable liquid); injuries may occur if the device reignites while it is
REMOVE POWER TO REMAINING ELECTRICAL OUTLETS UNTIL THE AIRCRAFT’S
SYSTEM CAN BE DETERMINED TO BE FREE OF FAULTS, IT THE DEVICE WAS
PREVIOUSLY PLUGGED IN
By removing power to the remaining electrical outlets it can be assured that a
malfunctioning aircraft system does not contribute to additional failures of passenger
portable electronic device
See ex-CLYDE MALLOY fumer factotum ROB FIELDS' Anonymice comment below, posted to his blog. http://www.rantsofrob.com/
Not one word in defense of BEAVEN's $20 million flop -- a government and corporate funded propaganda program that teaches at-risk kids to be docile workers.
HEATHER BEAVEN's program won't teach at-risk kids anything about occupational safety and health, minimum wages, whistleblower rights or union rights, while BEAVEN prattles on about air safety.
When BEAVEN or her acolytes talk about safety, they subtract from the sum total of human knowledge.
BEAVEN thought MICA was wrong to raise concerns on air safety and lithium batteries. We don't need airheads dismissing air safety concerns without scientific support. FIELDS' post hoc rationalization of BEAVEN's ukase is hardly enlightening. Like a drunk leaning on a lampost, FIELDS cites "experience" more for support than illumination. He has no statistics. He has no scientific studies.
We don't mind depositing laptops and cell phones in fireproof containers while in flight if that's what it takes to make air transport safer. Even one life saved from a horrible fire at 30,000 feet -- one that current airplane fire extinguishers can't extinguish -- is worth the effort.
When MICA is actually right about something -- when he tries (for a change) to protect the public, opportunistic HEATHER BEAVEN blasts MICA without caring about consequences.
HEATHER BEAVEN reminds me of what the late Democratic Anderson County (Tennessee) Sheriff and County Clerk Ken Caldwell would call an "aginner" -- someone who is opposed to an incumbent, but has no cogent ideas.
Yet ROB FIELDS ululates as only a wannabee apparatchik can, like a hog caught under a gate.
Why do the heathen rage?
Because Faye Armitage is "the real deal" and HEATHER BEAVEN is a fake, just like CLYDE MALLOY before her. Like CLYDE MALLOY, BEAVEN seems like a "Stealth" candidate, with no detectable pre-existing positions that would make one believe she is a Democrat.
Is HEATHER BEAVEN a shameless opportunist?
With some of the same staff (and funders), FIELDS is mistaken to dub BEAVEN "the frontrunner" when no one has ever voted for BEAVEN, and 2008 Democratic nominee Faye Armitage earned nearly 150,000 votes last year against reprobate Representative JOHN LUIGI MICA for the Seventh Congressional District race.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Reckon JOHN LUIGI MICA is right about banning lithium batteries on airplanes? (Heather Beaven, unsafe at any speed?)
Yes. Heather Beaven is wrong. Dead wrong.
Congressman JOHN LUIGI MICA was right in seeking to ban lithium batteries from airplanes. They are a fire hazard. They are extremely flammable. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says that "Primary lithium batteries cannot be extinguished with firefighting agents normally carried on aircraft."
We can't carry gasoline or other flamable products on board airplanes, either. No one complains.
It is a matter of air safety. When we fly, we don't want to die.
We need fireproof containers on airplanes to contain lithium batteries.
The Valu-Jet crash in South Florida killed 105 people on May 11, 1998 and was caused by exothermic reactions from chemical oxygen generators wrongfully carried on board.
Heather Beaven's demagogic E-mailing (below) is the sort of misguided partisanship that causes people to die. We need a real Democratic nominee (Faye Armitage, who earned nearly 150,000 votes in 2008).
We don't need as a Democratic nominee an unwise, uncouth Republican act-alike wannabee, someone who prattles (below) airily, as if she were a Stepford WIfe lobbyist from the National Association of Manufacturers. She says that MICS's amendment would "greatly harm large and small business communication. Clearly John Mica is not only out of touch with today's business traveler, he does not understand today's world."
Her "greatly" is as mistaken as her "clearly," adverbs in defense of the indefensible -- a troglodytic anti-safety point of view that verges on mockery and ignorance.
Heather Beaven describes herself as a "social entrepeneur." Evidently Beaven must also be a high-stakes gambler, one who is willing to gamble on air safety with human lives.
When even JOHN LUIGI MICA, a right-wing Republican is willing to stand up for air safety, he deserves praise, not vilification.
So here goes: JOHN LUIGI MICA is right on lithium batteries. Beaven is wrong.
Beaven is unscientific. She wants to make public policy based on slogans, not facts. She's willing to go demagogic, and it is not even 2010 yet. If she's willing to sacrifice air safety, what else is she willing to sacrifice? Occupational safety and health? (Yes, see below).
In fairness, JOHN LUIGI MICA was also right in the 1990s when he voted against the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which allow banks to sell stock and investments. Time has proven that JOHN MICA was correct on that vote, too.
The difference between statesmen and politicians is that statesmen can work with people of differing political persuasions for the common good. My first boss, Senator Ted Kennedy, was a statesman. Senator Orin Hatch was one of his best friends, and he would make deals with Hatch and other Republicans to pass progressive legislation.
In contrast, Heather Beaven's reflexive anti-MICA posturing shows that she is a hack, someone with little public policy experience, more mouth than mensch.
Heather Beaven says she's "CEO & President of The Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida's Graduates who oversees all aspects of a monumental, $20 million dollar, growth campaign in stay-in-school, school-to-career and return-to-school initiatives designed to positively impact the graduation rate, employability (sic) readiness and the post secondary education enrollment of students' of untapped promise."
Questions that need to be asked about Heather Beaven's "monumental, $20 million dollar, growth campaignm" a 501(c)(3):
Who funds it? (Government and big corporations).
What does it do? (Little but fancy brochures).
What's the purpose of it (further funding, feel-good for donors, and encouraging "at risk" high school students to become docile workers who show up for work on time, but are never never taught their rights under minimum wage, occupational health and safety, and other laws).
It makes sense that someone who thinks they're doing students a favor not teaching them about OSHA would want to blast JOHN MICA for a pro-safety amendment.
It makes sense that someone who has no business experience would ascribe mean and base motives to all business travelers. Who would want to risk their fellow passengers' safety for the use of a dumb 'ole laptop computer at 30,000 feet?
Heather Beaven, the Stealth corporativist candidate from the "monumental, $20 million dollar, growth campaign" that teaches workers nothing about OSHA.
Heather Beaven: unsafe at any speed?
While our families await help from Congress to spur job creation in Florida, John Mica introduced legislation prohibiting lithium batteries on airplanes. This would ban cell phones, laptops and I-pods on commercial airplane flights in America. If John Mica is successful, this would greatly harm large and small business communication. Clearly John Mica is not only out of touch with today's business traveler, he does not understand today's world. In the 20th century, we could "unplug" for days but that just isn't how the world works today.
Even his fellow Republicans in Congress disagree with John Mica on his legislation. They know that Mica's legislation would further depress innovation and job creation.
Click here to watch Mica's comments on banning laptops, cell phones and lithium batteries on commercial airplanes.
The REAL First Thanksgiving
"As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, school children everywhere are dusting off their Pilgrim costumes and asking their parents for contributions of turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce for classroom recreations of the famous Plymouth meal. REAL Thanksgiving book cover
"But Florida schoolchildren in particular should really be researching the attire of Spanish soldiers and Timucuan Indians and asking grandma to help them find garbanzo beans and chorizo sausage for their communal school meal."
So starts a treatise on the Florida Humanities Council website, setting the record straight on America's traditional holiday.
It echoes the assertion by Historian Michael Gannon that earned him the title "The Grinch Who Stole Thanksgiving" in New England circles.
"The REAL first Thanksgiving took place in St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. . . . The meal, shared by Spanish soldiers and natives of the Seloy tribe, was a celebration of the safe arrival of the Spanish expedition of Pedro Menéndez de Avilés."
Ponte Vedra's Robyn Gioia is bringing that message to young students in her book, America's REAL First Thanksgiving.
American Bar Association Supports Specter-Schumer Substitute to S. 448, Free Flow of Information Act
The ABA is calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to move forward with its consideration of the newly-introduced bipartisan Specter-Schumer substitute to S. 448, the Free Flow of Information Act 2009.
The substitute for the proposed federal shield law is scheduled for mark-up this week. In a letter sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy and all committee members, the ABA noted that the compromise “is the first to be vigorously supported by both the news industry and the Department of Justice.”
“Their joint support signifies that this substitute strikes the right balance and will protect the free flow of information to the public through a free and active press without impeding legitimate criminal investigations or threatening national security,” continued the letter.
The ABA praised the substitute measure for its definition of who is covered under the shield law, its shift in the burden of proof required for not revealing a source, a broadened national security exception, and allowances for in camera or ex parte judicial review of evidence.
A full copy of the letter, signed by ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas Susman, will be posted at http://www.abanet.org/poladv/letters/additional/2009nov19_fedshields_l.pdf
Additional background or interviews available upon request.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
November 20, 2009
The offer will be made at December's UN climate talks in Copenhagen, which Mr Obama will attend.
But he does not plan to be there for the crucial last days, when delegates including other world leaders are hoping to pull together a deal.
The talks aim to draw up a new treaty to supplant the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said his attendance could be vital for a deal.
CUTS ALREADY PLEDGED
# EU - 20% cut from 1990 levels, rising to 30% in the event of a global agreement
# Australia - 25% from 2000 levels
# Japan - 25% from 1990 levels
"It's critical that President Obama attends the climate change summit in Copenhagen," he told journalists.
The cuts Mr Obama has proposed are similar to those included in a bill passed by the US House of Representatives in June.
But with legislation currently stuck in the Senate, correspondents say the president will be unable to commit to any of the figures he is proposing at the summit.
So far more than 60 world leaders have said they will attend.
Observers say the presence of such figures as Mr Obama will raise hopes for action on climate change, although the talks are not expected to result in a new treaty.
'Momentum for talks'
Officials said the US would pledge a 17% cut in emissions from 2005 levels by 2020, 30% by 2025, 42% by 2030 and 83% by 2050.
# Planning to attend: Leaders of United States, Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Australia, Japan, Indonesia and Brazil Yet to commit:
# Leaders of China and India
Mr Obama will outline a "pathway" towards the US goals at the summit, a White House statement said.
It described the cuts as "a significant contribution to a problem that the US has neglected for too long".
But most other countries' targets are given in comparison with 1990 figures.
BBC environment correspondent Richard Black says that on that basis the US figure amounts to just a few percentage points, as its emissions have risen by about 15% since 1990.
This is much less than the EU's pledge of a 20% cut over the same period, or a 30% cut if there is a global deal; and much less than the 25-40% figure that developing countries are demanding.
The US president will be in the Danish capital on 9 December, a day before receiving his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.
But he does not plan to return for the key last stages of the summit, which runs from 7-18 December.
White House aide Mike Froman said the decision to go to Copenhagen was "to give momentum to the negotiations there".
The decision follows intense speculation about whether the US president would go at all.
Delegations from 192 countries will be attending the summit. HAVE YOUR SAY I'm sure the event in Copenhagen will be beneficial for Planet Earth Juan Leonidas Vega G, San Salvador
Leaders saying they will attend include UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.
Hu Jintao, president of the world's largest polluter, China, is yet to commit to attending.
The US is the second largest polluter after China.
Mr Obama has made climate change a major priority for his administration, after previous incumbents had failed to ratify the Kyoto treaty.
But a bill to cap US emissions and establish a national carbon trading scheme is currently stuck in the Senate and is not expected to pass before the end of the year.
Correspondents say most nations have given up hope of a legally binding treaty because of uncertainty about the US position.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/11/25 17:38:54 GMT
© BBC MMIX
Letter to Florida Department of Environmental Protection regarding suitable projects for City of St. Augustine re: 611,294 gallons of sewage pollution
1. Some 611,294 gallons of sewage pollution were unlawfully deposited in the San Sebastian River (which is immediately adjacent to our office, with sewage having been detected off our deck by FDEP and COSA).
2. Regarding suitably ambitious projects for our City of St. Augustine to atone for the 611,294 gallons of sewage deposited in San Sebastian River,please see the Oak Ridger article:
3. A suitable project would be for the City of St. Augustine to:
A. Appoint a Director of Environment, Safety, Health and Archaeology (ESHA);
B. Adopt an ordinance protect environmental whistleblowers (as the
Anastasia Mosquito Control Commission of St. Johns County does);
C. Place all environmental, safety, health and archaeological
protection information online, including all MSDS. Data about
water and sewer systems and pollution.
4. As part of this project, The City of St. Augustine should endorse the proposed St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway Act, www.staugustgreen.com, and work to adopt an "emerald necklace of parks."
5. The City of Atlanta created $40 million in xx did for a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) due to its sewage pollution when John Henry Hankinson, Jr. was EPA Regional Administrator.
6. Will FDEP now kindly take steps for the City Manager to be investigated by the Statewide Grand Jury regarding all of the pollution for which he is responsible (which is a dogged pattern not remedied by DEP's paltry fines to date)?
7. Is that too much to ask? What do you reckon? Please see article below.
The Oak Ridger
Posted Nov 23, 2009 @ 09:00 AM
CLINTON, Tenn. —
A climate action plan aimed at reducing local greenhouse gas emissions and making Oak Ridge a "sustainable" community will be discussed at an Oak Ridge City Council work session tonight.
The climate action plan's "draft," developed during many meetings and hours of work by the Oak Ridge Environmental Quality Advisory Board, calls for work in five areas that range from reducing energy consumption and conserving natural resources to enhancing the business community and educating the public.
Goals include promoting the production and use of local food, developing a transportation master plan, reducing waste, improving air and water quality, and encouraging new businesses that produce "green" products or services.
Possible actions include a comprehensive energy audit of city facilities and services and establishment of minimum building code compliance standards for re-selling homes, part of an effort to revitalize existing residential and commercial properties.
EQAB is recommending the formation of a public-private partnership -- the Oak Ridge Energy and Climate Collaborative -- to oversee and guide early implementation of the plan.
EQAB has recommended emissions reduction targets of 10 percent by 2015, 50 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. Those goals, based on a 2004 baseline, are meant to help stabilize atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, a so-called greenhouse gas, at or below levels that would avoid the most severe and catastrophic potential impacts of climate change.
An emissions study has found that most of the city government's equivalent carbon dioxide emissions -- or 52 percent of them -- come from water and sewer operations. Transporting water through the city's mountainous terrain uses a lot of energy, the draft report says.
In the community, commercial and industrial operations account for 45 percent of the emissions, the report says.
Besides reducing emissions, the climate action plan is meant to provide long-term community and economic benefits to Oak Ridge citizens.
"Future economic growth in Oak Ridge will depend on how quickly we transition to a new way of living that is based on a far more diversified energy mix, more efficient use of energy and development of our communities in ways that strengthen neighborhoods and urban centers, preserve natural areas and enhance the quality of life in Oak Ridge," the report says.
The 62-page draft plan says initial implementation of priority action items is not expected to be costly, and the return on investment should be realized quickly.
Meanwhile, delaying action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions could add to potential costs, reducing economic benefits and "making it more difficult to reach long-term goals."
"If we fail to take action, the consequences to human populations are potentially severe," the report says. "If we are wrong about the causes, but we take the actions that have been recommended, man and the environment will certainly be no worse off and arguably better off than under a business-as-usual scenario."
In the summer of 2008, city officials asked EQAB to develop a baseline inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, recommend emissions reduction targets, develop a "local action plan," and offer recommendations that could help make the city more environmentally friendly.
The draft climate action plan says the "most significant reductions in emissions will come from increasing energy efficiency in all sectors of our community, continuing to increase sources and use of renewable energy, and designing our communities to reduce our reliance on automobiles for transportation."
The plan includes 25 strategies, along with 74 tactics for possible implementation.
Development of the plan included a well-attended public forum in January that generated more than 400 ideas.
Today's work session begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room at the Central Services Complex.
John Huotari can be contacted at (865) 220-5533.
Monday, November 23, 2009
As Sewers Fill, Waste Poisons Waterways
By CHARLES DUHIGG
It was drizzling lightly in late October when the midnight shift started at the Owls Head Water Pollution Control Plant, where much of Brooklyn’s sewage is treated.
A few miles away, people were walking home without umbrellas from late dinners. But at Owls Head, a swimming pool’s worth of sewage and wastewater was soon rushing in every second. Warning horns began to blare. A little after 1 a.m., with a harder rain falling, Owls Head reached its capacity and workers started shutting the intake gates.
That caused a rising tide throughout Brooklyn’s sewers, and untreated feces and industrial waste started spilling from emergency relief valves into the Upper New York Bay and Gowanus Canal.
“It happens anytime you get a hard rainfall,” said Bob Connaughton, one the plant’s engineers. “Sometimes all it takes is 20 minutes of rain, and you’ve got overflows across Brooklyn.”
One goal of the Clean Water Act of 1972 was to upgrade the nation’s sewer systems, many of them built more than a century ago, to handle growing populations and increasing runoff of rainwater and waste. During the 1970s and 1980s, Congress distributed more than $60 billion to cities to make sure that what goes into toilets, industrial drains and street grates would not endanger human health.
But despite those upgrades, many sewer systems are still frequently overwhelmed, according to a New York Times analysis of environmental data. As a result, sewage is spilling into waterways.
In the last three years alone, more than 9,400 of the nation’s 25,000 sewage systems — including those in major cities — have reported violating the law by dumping untreated or partly treated human waste, chemicals and other hazardous materials into rivers and lakes and elsewhere, according to data from state environmental agencies and the Environmental Protection Agency.
But fewer than one in five sewage systems that broke the law were ever fined or otherwise sanctioned by state or federal regulators, the Times analysis shows.
It is not clear whether the sewage systems that have not reported such dumping are doing any better, because data on overflows and spillage are often incomplete.
As cities have grown rapidly across the nation, many have neglected infrastructure projects and paved over green spaces that once absorbed rainwater. That has contributed to sewage backups into more than 400,000 basements and spills into thousands of streets, according to data collected by state and federal officials. Sometimes, waste has overflowed just upstream from drinking water intake points or near public beaches.
There is no national record-keeping of how many illnesses are caused by sewage spills. But academic research suggests that as many as 20 million people each year become ill from drinking water containing bacteria and other pathogens that are often spread by untreated waste.
A 2007 study published in the journal Pediatrics, focusing on one Milwaukee hospital, indicated that the number of children suffering from serious diarrhea rose whenever local sewers overflowed. Another study, published in 2008 in the Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health, estimated that as many as four million people become sick each year in California from swimming in waters containing the kind of pollution often linked to untreated sewage.
Around New York City, samples collected at dozens of beaches or piers have detected the types of bacteria and other pollutants tied to sewage overflows. Though the city’s drinking water comes from upstate reservoirs, environmentalists say untreated excrement and other waste in the city’s waterways pose serious health risks.
A Deluge of Sewage
“After the storm, the sewage flowed down the street faster than we could move out of the way and filled my house with over a foot of muck,” said Laura Serrano, whose Bay Shore, N.Y., home was damaged in 2005 by a sewer overflow.
Ms. Serrano, who says she contracted viral meningitis because of exposure to the sewage, has filed suit against Suffolk County, which operates the sewer system. The county’s lawyer disputes responsibility for the damage and injuries.
“I had to move out, and no one will buy my house because the sewage was absorbed into the walls,” Ms. Serrano said. “I can still smell it sometimes.”
When a sewage system overflows or a treatment plant dumps untreated waste, it is often breaking the law. Today, sewage systems are the nation’s most frequent violators of the Clean Water Act. More than a third of all sewer systems — including those in San Diego, Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio, Philadelphia, San Jose and San Francisco — have violated environmental laws since 2006, according to a Times analysis of E.P.A. data.
Thousands of other sewage systems operated by smaller cities, colleges, mobile home parks and companies have also broken the law. But few of the violators are ever punished.
The E.P.A., in a statement, said that officials agreed that overflows posed a “significant environmental and human health problem, and significantly reducing or eliminating such overflows has been a priority for E.P.A. enforcement since the mid-1990s.”
In the last year, E.P.A. settlements with sewer systems in Hampton Roads, Va., and the east San Francisco Bay have led to more than $200 million spent on new systems to reduce pollution, the agency said. In October, the E.P.A. administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, said she was overhauling how the Clean Water Act is enforced.
But widespread problems still remain.
“The E.P.A. would rather look the other way than crack down on cities, since punishing municipalities can cause political problems,” said Craig Michaels of Riverkeeper, an environmental advocacy group. “But without enforcement and fines, this problem will never end.”
Plant operators and regulators, for their part, say that fines would simply divert money from stretched budgets and that they are doing the best they can with aging systems and overwhelmed pipes.
New York, for example, was one of the first major cities to build a large sewer system, starting construction in 1849. Many of those pipes — constructed of hand-laid brick and ceramic tiles — are still used. Today, the city’s 7,400 miles of sewer pipes operate almost entirely by gravity, unlike in other cities that use large pumps.
New York City’s 14 wastewater treatment plants, which handle 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater a day, have been flooded with thousands of pickles (after a factory dumped its stock), vast flows of discarded chicken heads and large pieces of lumber.
When a toilet flushes in the West Village in Manhattan, the waste runs north six miles through gradually descending pipes to a plant at 137th Street, where it is mixed with so-called biological digesters that consume dangerous pathogens. The wastewater is then mixed with chlorine and sent into the Hudson River.
But New York’s system — like those in hundreds of others cities — combines rainwater runoff with sewage. Over the last three decades, as thousands of acres of trees, bushes and other vegetation in New York have been paved over, the land’s ability to absorb rain has declined significantly. When treatment plants are swamped, the excess spills from 490 overflow pipes throughout the city’s five boroughs.
When the sky is clear, Owls Head can handle the sewage from more than 750,000 people. But the balance is so delicate that Mr. Connaughton and his colleagues must be constantly ready for rain.
They choose cable television packages for their homes based on which company offers the best local weather forecasts. They know meteorologists by the sound of their voices. When the leaves begin to fall each autumn, clogging sewer grates and pipes, Mr. Connaughton sometimes has trouble sleeping.
“I went to Hawaii with my wife, and the whole time I was flipping to the Weather Channel, seeing if it was raining in New York,” he said.
New York’s sewage system overflows essentially every other time it rains.
Reducing such overflows is a priority, city officials say. But eradicating the problem would cost billions.
Officials have spent approximately $35 billion over three decades improving the quality of the waters surrounding the city and have improved systems to capture and store rainwater and sewage, bringing down the frequency and volume of overflows, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection wrote in a statement.
“Water quality in New York City has improved dramatically in the last century, and particularly in the last two decades,” officials wrote.
Several years ago, city officials estimated that it would cost at least $58 billion to prevent all overflows. “Even an expenditure of that magnitude would not result in every part of a river or bay surrounding the city achieving water quality that is suitable for swimming,” the department wrote. “It would, however, increase the average N.Y.C. water and sewer bill by 80 percent.”
The E.P.A., concerned about the risks of overflowing sewers, issued a national framework in 1994 to control overflows, including making sure that pipes are designed so they do not easily become plugged by debris and warning the public when overflows occur. In 2000, Congress amended the Clean Water Act to crack down on overflows.
But in hundreds of places, sewer systems remain out of compliance with that framework or the Clean Water Act, which regulates most pollution discharges to waterways. And the burdens on sewer systems are growing as cities become larger and, in some areas, rainstorms become more frequent and fierce.
New York’s system, for instance, was designed to accommodate a so-called five-year storm — a rainfall so extreme that it is expected to occur, on average, only twice a decade. But in 2007 alone, the city experienced three 25-year storms, according to city officials — storms so strong they would be expected only four times each century.
“When you get five inches of rain in 30 minutes, it’s like Thanksgiving Day traffic on a two-lane bridge in the sewer pipes,” said James Roberts, deputy commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection.
To combat these shifts, some cities are encouraging sewer-friendly development. New York, for instance, has instituted zoning laws requiring new parking lots to include landscaped areas to absorb rainwater, established a tax credit for roofs with absorbent vegetation and begun to use millions of dollars for environmentally friendly infrastructure projects.
Philadelphia has announced it will spend $1.6 billion over 20 years to build rain gardens and sidewalks of porous pavement and to plant thousands of trees.
But unless cities require private developers to build in ways that minimize runoff, the volume of rain flowing into sewers is likely to grow, environmentalists say.
The only real solution, say many lawmakers and water advocates, is extensive new spending on sewer systems largely ignored for decades. As much as $400 billion in extra spending is needed over the next decade to fix the nation’s sewer infrastructure, according to estimates by the E.P.A. and the Government Accountability Office.
Legislation under consideration on Capitol Hill contains millions in water infrastructure grants, and the stimulus bill passed this year set aside $6 billion to improve sewers and other water systems.
But that money is only a small fraction of what is needed, officials say. And over the last two decades, federal money for such programs has fallen by 70 percent, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which estimates that a quarter of the state’s sewage and wastewater treatment plants are “using outmoded, inadequate technology.”
“The public has no clue how important these sewage plants are,” said Mr. Connaughton of the Brooklyn site. “Waterborne disease was the scourge of mankind for centuries. These plants stopped that. We’re doing everything we can to clean as much sewage as possible, but sometimes, that isn’t enough.”
Friday, November 20, 2009
November 17, 2009 United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Contact: (215) 861-8200
Fumo's Former Secretary Sentenced for Fraud
PHILADELPHIA—Susan Skotnicki, a/k/a “Susan Swett,” 53, of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, was sentenced today by the Honorable Anita Brody to four years probation, a fine of $1,000, and a special assessment of $100 for her conviction for engaging in a scheme to defraud the Senate of Pennsylvania by submitting fraudulent invoices and reimbursement requests on behalf of former Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent J. Fumo, announced United States Attorney Michael L. Levy. Skotnicki pleaded guilty to the charge on January 9, 2009, admitting that she used the net proceeds from the scheme to write checks to herself in the amount of $70,113. Defendant Skotnicki paid full restitution in that amount earlier this year.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys John J. Pease and Robert A. Zauzmer.
Press Releases | Philadelphia Home
HOMOPHOBIC BIGOT ANITA BRYANT GETS PIE IN FACE
WILL BIGOT SARAH PALIN GET A PIE IN HER FACE TUESDAY?
In honor of the late Soupy Sales, will SARAH PALIN get a cream pie in her furious, famously funny face?
For someone who shoots caribou from helicopters (like shooting a cow), isn't she's what KARL ROVE would call "Fair Game?"
News4JAX: Draconian GOP Guidelines Released On Palin Book Stop Former Vice-Presidential Candidate Will Promote New Book
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Former vice-presidential candidate and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be coming to northeast Florida as she promotes her new book, "Going Rogue."
The book was released on Tuesday. Palin's tour began the next day in Michigan.
The tour ends on next Tuesday in Florida. The first stop that day will be in Orange Park. Palin will be at the Books-A-Million at the Orange Park Mall from 9 to 11 a.m.
If you're interested in attending the book signing, Books-A-Million has released some guidelines that must be followed:
* 1,000 line numbers will be distributed the day before her appearance, Monday, Nov. 23, beginning at 5pm.
* Wristbands (1,000) will be distributed beginning at 5pm, Nov. 23 at Books-A-Million in Orange Park.
* You must be present to obtain a wristband. One wristband per person.
* Receipt from Books-A-Million or www.booksamillion.com for "Going Rogue" must be presented in order to obtain a wristband. Please keep receipt with your book because you will need to show it the day of the signing.
* You are allowed a maximum of two copies of the book per wristband to be signed. There will be no personalization.
* Please arrive prior to 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24. If you arrive after 8:30 a.m., you forfeit your place in line. The book signing begins at 9 a.m.
* Every person with a wristband must have a copy of "Going Rogue" in order to enter the line. If you have a wristband and no book, you will not be allowed in line.
* After 1,000 wristbands are given out, the line becomes first-come, first-servef based on the remaining time Gov. Palin has. Those after 1,000 are not guaranteed to have their booked signed.
* No memorabilia or additional items will be signed.
* No photos/videos of any kind in the signing area.
* Please leave large bags and back packs at home or in your car. You will be required to turn over cell phones, cameras and bags before reaching the signing table. No items besides copies of "Going Rogue" are allowed in the signing area.
* These items will be returned immediately after you exit the signing area.
* Contact Books-A-Million for more information, 904-215-2300.
After the Orange Park stop, Palin will make appearances in The Villages and in Orlando.
Copyright 2009 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
USDOJ Press Release: Former Owners of Pennsylvania Business Indicted in $136 Million DBE Fraud Said to be One of the Largest in USDOT History
November 19, 2009 United States Attorney's Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania
Contact: (717) 221-4482
Former Owners of Pennsylvania Business Indicted in $136 Million DBE Fraud Said to be One of the Largest in USDOT History
Dennis C. Pfannenschmidt, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Division of the FBI; Ned Schwartz, Regional Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General; John Spratley, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations; and Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Field Office, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, announced today that the former owners of Schuylkill Products Inc. (SPI) were indicted by the federal grand jury in connection with one of the largest Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) fraud schemes in U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) history. The scheme, which is alleged to have run for over 15 years, involved the improper award of hundreds of federally-funded highway and mass transit contracts in Pennsylvania and other states. In Pennsylvania alone, over 300 contracts were improperly awarded that were valued at approximately $136 million.
Joseph W. Nagle, of Deerfield Beach, Florida, and Ernest G. Fink, Jr., of Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, co-owned and operated SPI and its wholly owned subsidiary CDS Engineers (CDS) until April 2009 when they sold the companies to Northeast Prestressed Products. SPI manufactured concrete products for use on highway construction projects and CDS operated as its engineering and erection division. Both companies were based in Cressona, Pennsylvania. Nagle was the President and Chief Executive Officer of SPI and Fink was Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of SPI.
The 32-count Indictment filed today charges Nagle and Fink with two counts of conspiracy, 11 counts of wire fraud, six counts of mail fraud and 11 counts of unlawful monetary transactions, as well as two forfeiture counts. If convicted, Nagle and Fink face up to five years' imprisonment on the first conspiracy count, up to 10 years' imprisonment on the second conspiracy count, up to 20 years' imprisonment on each wire and mail fraud count, and up to 10 years' imprisonment on each unlawful monetary transaction count. Each count also carries potential fines of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss and the Indictment subjects Nagle and Fink to potential forfeiture of the proceeds traceable to the offenses.
The Indictment alleges that Nagle, Fink and others used a small Connecticut highway construction firm known as Marikina Construction Company as a front company to obtain lucrative government contracts reserved for small and disadvantaged businesses. Marikina was owned by Romeo P. Cruz, of West Haven, Connecticut, a naturalized American citizen with origins from the Philippines. Marikina was designated a disadvantaged business by PennDOT in 1993 which made it eligible to bid on and receive Pennsylvania highway construction contracts reserved for DBEs.
The Indictment alleges that between 1993 and 2008, Marikina received hundreds of federally-funded contracts for highway and mass transit construction projects worth millions of dollars but did not perform the work. In Pennsylvania alone, over 300 federally-funded contracts that were worth approximately $136 million were awarded to Marikina, and the Indictment alleges that the work was actually performed by SPI and CDS personnel. The Indictment alleges that the money from the contracts merely passed through Marikina to make it appear that a DBE was involved, when in reality, SPI and CDS personnel actually found, negotiated, coordinated, performed, managed and supervised all the contracts awarded to Marikina. All the profits from the contracts allegedly ended up with SPI and CDS and in exchange for allowing SPI and CDS to use its name, Marikina was paid a small fixed fee. Essentially, SPI and CDS, which were not DBEs, rented Marikina’s name to obtain lucrative government contracts reserved for small and disadvantaged businesses.
Previously, three former executives associated with SPI, CDS, and Marikina entered guilty pleas for their role in this scheme. On February 13, 2008, Dennis F. Campbell, SPI’s former Vice- President in charge of sales and marketing, pled guilty to conspiracy. On April 15, 2008, Timothy G. Hubler, CDS’s Vice- President in charge of field operations, pled guilty to conspiracy and tax fraud charges. On August 28, 2008, Romeo P. Cruz, the former owner and President of Marikina, pled guilty to conspiracy and on January 9, 2009, he pled guilty to tax fraud. All three men are cooperating with the investigation and await sentencing. All three previously admitted that the scheme was able to last for so long without detection because of the numerous fraudulent steps the co-conspirators took to conceal the true relationship between SPI, CDS, and Marikina. These steps included SPI and CDS personnel pretending to be Marikina employees by using Marikina passwords, Marikina signature stamps, Marikina business cards, Marikina letterhead, and Marikina e-mail addresses, as well as using magnetic placards and decals bearing the Marikina logo to cover up SPI and CDS logos on SPI and CDS trucks.
In announcing the Indictment United States Attorney Pfannenschmidt stated: “The disadvantaged business enterprise program is designed to ensure that all Americans can enjoy the full promise of prosperity that is an essential part of this country’s history. Today’s Indictment, is one of the largest frauds ever reported involving this program, underscores the basic message that those who attempt to use this program, as a pathway to greed will face severe consequences. I want to commend all of those involved in this groundbreaking investigation including, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General's Office, the U.S. Department of Labor Inspector General's Office, the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS, and Senior Litigation Counsel Bruce Brandler, who is supervising the prosecution.”
The investigation is being conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General's Office, the U.S. Department of Labor Inspector General's Office, and the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS. Senior Litigation Counsel Bruce Brandler is supervising the prosecution.