VPR Commentary: The Gas Tax

first_img(Host)  Vermont Business Magazine editor and commentator Tim McQuiston suggests that the best source of funding for the repair and maintenance of our roads and bridges may in fact be found at the neighborhood gas pump.McQuiston: The Gas TaxFriday, 02/17/12 5:55pmLISTEN (3:04)MP3 | Download MP3 By Timothy McQuiston, Produced by Mike Smith(McQuiston) Congress is wrestling with how to fix the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Needless to say, it’s been a political struggle.  One of the big issues is where new revenue would come from. The most obvious is the gasoline tax. But no one ever got elected, that I can think of, by promising to raise taxes, any tax. This is an election year. Don’t hold your breath. Here in Vermont, there’s a similar effort among some in the Legislature to raise our gasoline tax. With government being controlled by Democrats, Montpelier would not seem to have the same political obstacles we see in Washington. And the need in Vermont is even clearer than it is nationally. Tropical Storm Irene tore away big chunks of infrastructure and damaged a lot more. While major repairs have been done and nearly every road and bridge has been repaired, at least temporarily, there is still much work ahead. Permanent repairs need to be done, stream beds re-set, culverts upgraded and there needs to be some environmental remediation, not only because of what Irene did, but to avoid what the next storm might do. Some of our history was damaged or simply washed away. Decisions also will have to be made about that.   But there is also the pre-existing infrastructure that needed upgrades and repairs before Irene even hit town. There is ongoing maintenance needs. Irene sucked up a lot of our regular transportation budget, as did the impressive new Champlain Bridge. So the suggestion is that Vermont raise the gasoline tax, but only the gasoline tax, to raise money to repair and enhance our infrastructure. Admittedly, the gas tax has suffered recently because people are driving less and driving more fuel efficient vehicles. Fewer tourists haven’t helped either. Gas tax revenues were down nearly 5 percent in January. So finding the appropriate increase might be difficult. But the gasoline tax would go directly into the transportation fund to boost the generous federal match and especially help local towns recover from Irene. The gas tax is also a bit “exported” by visitors and is somewhat invisible because it’s lumped into the price. I’m guessing it could be a bit of a tough sell with gas prices creeping back up and the regressive nature of it. But all in all it seems like the logical tax to raise for this purpose and one we could handle if it comes with a strict sunset. One cent of tax raises about 3.3 million dollars. My general thought is that the exact right time to fix a problem is right after a calamity. History shows clearly that when government fixes something fast, the fix is more effective and it costs less in the long run. Look at the Vermont budget deficit from the early 1990s. Governor Snelling and Speaker Wright raised taxes, cut spending, got rid of the deficit and Vermont has been in a better fiscal position than nearly every other state in the nation for more than a generation. Now is the time to do the same thing for roads and bridges.last_img read more

Hung up on the details, Roeland Park postpones vote on anti-discrimination ordinance once more

first_imgRoeland Park mayor Joel Marquardt and the city council dug deep into the details of the city’s proposed anti-discrimination ordinance Tuesday.Over the course of a marathon four-hour workshop Tuesday, the Roeland Park city council dove deep into the details of its proposed anti-discrimination ordinance — and while proponents of the law said they were pleased with the progress, they’ll have to wait yet again for a final vote on the law.Register to continuelast_img

News Scan for Mar 17, 2015

first_imgSaudi Arabia reports another MERS caseSaudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) today reported a new MERS-CoV case, continuing the steady stream that began early this year.The MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) case involves a 73-year-old male Saudi national in Riyadh who is hospitalized in critical condition. He had no recent animal exposure or contact with MERS cases in the community, but possible contact with MERS cases in the healthcare setting is under investigation.He is not a healthcare worker and had preexisting disease, the MOH said.The agency also reported that a 51-year-old male expatriate in Khobar has recovered from the disease. He also is not a health worker and had preexisting disease.The new cases bring the total for March to 38 so far, compared with 75 in all of February. Since 2012 the country has confirmed 958 MERS-CoV cases with 416 deaths. Twenty-five patients are still being treated or are in home isolation, and 517 have recovered.Mar 17 MOH update Feds seek public comment on impact of select agent ruleAs part of a federal review of select agent regulations that began last August, the National Security Council and the White House’s Office of Science Technology and Policy yesterday invited the public to comment on the impact that the current rules have on science, technology, and national security.According to a Federal Register notice, a fast-track committee is reviewing the impacts of the select agent regulations and will weigh options to address challenges and gaps that come out of the feedback. Public comments must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on Mar 30 to be considered.Federal officials are also holding a series of stakeholder listening sessions, the first of which was held on Feb 17.The select agent review comes in the wake of several lab biosafety incidents, and in the federal memo last August announcing a review of policies, federal official asked federal agencies and departments that conduct life sciences research to take immediate and long-term steps to address the underlying causes of recent incidents and to strengthen overall biosafety.Mar 16 White House press release Mar 16 Federal Register notice Aug 29, 2014, CIDRAP News scan on biosecurity reviewlast_img read more

Smartphone-based test shows promise for rapid UTI diagnosis

first_imgUsing a simple lab kit, some LED lights, a hot plate, and a smartphone, a team of engineers and molecular biologists have a developed a point-of-care diagnostic test that can rapidly detect microbial pathogens in urine. New research on the device indicates it has the potential to provide quick, low-cost diagnoses of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in low-resource settings. In a pilot study published in the journal EBioMedicine, the device, developed by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Stanford University, was compared with more costly rapid diagnostic technology and standard hospital diagnostic tests for analysis of urinary pathogens in a small group of patients with sepsis. The results of the head-to-head comparison showed that the smartphone-based real-time loop-mediated isothermal amplification (smaRT-LAMP) system matched the hospital diagnostics in detecting pathogens, but at a fraction of cost and the time.Researchers say they believe the smaRT-LAMP system could have significant clinical potential, especially in healthcare clinics that lack sophisticated diagnostic technology.”Although rapid diagnosis by smaRT-LAMP has utility in standard clinical diagnostics, we anticipate its immediate use in local clinics that cannot afford the tests required to ID a pathogen, which is important for prescription of the correct antibiotic,” lead study author Michael Mahan, PhD, a professor at UC Santa Barbara, told CIDRAP News.Low-cost, low-tech deviceWhile it isn’t the first attempt to harness smartphone technology for diagnostic use, Mahan and his colleagues believe the low-cost, low-tech smaRT-LAMP system may be the first smartphone-based diagnostic tool with real clinical utility in low-resource settings.To use smaRT-LAMP, samples of urine are placed in an aluminum sample block on top of a hot plate. The samples are then mixed with chemicals that amplify bacterial DNA. The smartphone camera captures the fluorescent signal (illuminated by the LED lights) from the chemical reaction, and a custom-built app analyzes the images to measure the concentration of bacterial DNA in the samples.The researchers estimate the cost of the materials, minus the smartphone, is around $86. By comparison, a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) machine, which also uses DNA amplification to quickly detect bacteria or viruses, costs around $36,000.In proof-of-concept testing conducted on mouse urine, blood, and feces samples spiked with a variety of bacterial pathogens, smaRT-LAMP showed that it could identify pathogens just as well as a qPCR device and is compatible with a diverse array of pathogens and biological specimens. But Mahan said that using the device to test urine offered the quickest path to identification of possible infection since infected urine is associated with a much higher bacterial load than blood.”Proof of concept was much simpler for UTIs, as the clinical threshold to define a UTI is 100,000 bugs per milliliter of urine versus only one per milliliter of blood,” he said.Moreover, urine can be obtained without invasive procedures, and UTIs are among the most common types of bacterial infection.Based on its performance with the spiked mouse urine samples, Mahan and his colleagues decided to assess whether smaRT-LAMP could have immediate clinical utility for point-of-care urine analysis in human patients. Working with physicians at a local hospital, they identified 10 patients who met the clinical criteria for sepsis and were suspected of having a urinary source of infection. Some of the patients had severe sepsis and were showing signs of septic shock.Once again, smaRT-LAMP was able to identify to detect the bacterial pathogens in the urine—Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa—as quickly and accurately as the qPCR device, achieving diagnosis in under an hour. Standard urine cultures performed by the hospital microbiology laboratory, meanwhile, took 18-28 hours to identify the pathogens. This is important, Mahan and his colleagues note, because time to treatment is significantly associated with positive patient outcomes in emergency care for sepsis.In addition, among the patients whose infections had spread into their bloodstream, the pathogen identified in the urine matched that of the blood.”This concordance demonstrates the applicability of smaRT-LAMP to even the most severe cases of sepsis, with the advantage of accurate and rapid diagnosis at the POC [point-of-care] in these cases, and the potential to greatly accelerate directed therapy for urinary tract infections,” the authors wrote in the paper.The device could also be used to for rapid detection of UTIs in pregnant women, which can cause kidney infections and increase the risk for miscarriage if they go untreated.Mahan said the next step is to see whether smaRT-LAMP works in low-resource clinics, and to continue tailoring the system to quickly detected pathogenic bacteria in human blood and feces.  See also:Sep 20 EBioMedicine studylast_img read more

John Plant Named Chairman of TRW

first_imgDeMoulpied has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Management from the United States Air Force Academy and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Dayton in Marketing and International Business. He served six years with the USAF overseeing the development of technology used on fighter aircraft and the E-3 Surveillance aircraft, finishing his career honorably as Captain. With more than 20 years of experience across multiple industries and functional areas, deMoulpied has particular expertise in organizations with complex technical products. Combined, his prior positions have required a spectrum of skills in corporate strategy, operations improvement, product quality, and revenue cycle management. He has an impressive history of utilizing data driven problem solving (Lean Six Sigma) and project management (PMP and CSM) to achieve strategic goals surrounding customer satisfaction, operational efficiency and improved profit.  LSI President Brett Tennar says, “Steve’s success in developing operational strategies that improves the bottom line, builds teamwork, reduces waste and ensures quality product development and distribution checks many of the boxes of what we were looking for in a COO. This, coupled with his career in the Air Force working with highly technical systems and his in-depth understanding of Lean Six Sigma and Business Process Management sealed our offer. As our tagline states, our products are Powered by Science. This data driven approach is one reason why our company has grown exponentially as we employ the most advanced technology to product development. I am confident that Steve is the right person to drive operational strategy for our diverse and growing brands.” Advertisement DeMoulpied comes to LSI from the Private Client Services practice of Ernst & Young where he managed strategy & operations improvement engagements for privately held client businesses. Some of his prior roles include VP of strategic development, director of strategic initiatives, and Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt at OptumHealth, UnitedHealth Group’s health services business, as well as Lean Six Sigma Black Belt at General Electric, where he applied operations improvement principles to customer service, supply chain and product development. A successful entrepreneur, deMoulpied is also the founder of PrestoFresh, a Cleveland-based e-commerce food/grocery business.  LIVONIA, Mich. — TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. has announced that President and CEO John Plant has been appointed to the additional post of chairman of the board, effective immediately. AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisement Plant has held the position of president and CEO, serving as a member of TRW’s board, since 2003. As chairman, Plant replaces Neil Simpkins, senior managing director of The Blackstone Group, who resigned as chairman, but will remain on the board of directors and assume the newly created position of lead director. Simpkins was appointed chairman of the board in 2003 as a result of Blackstone’s majority purchase of the company at that time. Given Blackstone’s reduced ownership position, TRW’s board of directors agreed that the timing for this transition was appropriate.   “I am pleased and honored to assume the additional responsibilities as board chairman,” said Plant. “I thank Neil for his contributions and leadership over the years, which will continue in his new role as lead director.”,Lubrication Specialties Inc. (LSI), manufacturer of Hot Shot’s Secret brand of performance additives and oils, recently announced the expansion of senior leadership. Steve deMoulpied joins LSI as the company’s chief operating officer (COO). AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisementlast_img read more

Giraffe opens first out of town restaurant

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A Daily Dose Of Reality

first_img Scott Fisher (L), Lee Mandel (R) Question & Answer session Katy Graves, Superintendent Jeff NIchols (L), Matt Malone, AJ McGuire, Fred Thiele, Bridget Flemming, Scott Fisher, Marcus DaSilva(R) Security Forum center_img Jeff Nichols (L), Matt Malone (R) Sag Harbor School District parents and community members walking into the Pierson High School auditorium last Thursday night were greeted by a slide which read, “Schools can no longer assume safety. They must plan for safety.” This statement by Pam Riley, Director of the Center for the Prevention of School Violence, epitomized the School Community Safety meeting.In this sentiment, the Sag Harbor School District scheduled a safety forum to assure parents and community members of the steps the district has taken over the course of several years to enhance security at its schools. According to Superintendent Katy Graves, the school district began partnerships in 2015 with IntraLogic Solutions and the Sag Harbor Village Police. “We have been proactive in enhancing security to ensure the safety of our children,” she said. “We have done many things, some of which we can’t discuss here, to protect the students.”Lee Mandel, CEO of IntraLogic Solutions explained, “IntraLogic is a security technology company. Our clients are mainly school districts. We have partnered with over 150 school districts nationwide providing our expertise in security services.” Mandel spoke about hardening the school’s infrastructure, monitoring its perimeter and providing technology that at a push of a button would put the school into a lockdown or lockout status while turning access to the school’s cameras over to police.With over 100 cameras installed throughout the school buildings and their perimeters, Village Police would be able to assess the situation and respond much more quickly in the event of an emergency. “When seconds can mean lives,” stated Mandel, “the use of sophisticated technology can make the difference.”Mandel stressed the importance of drills. He said that children know the routine for fire drills very well. “The last fire in a school where children were killed was in 1956,” he stated. “That’s because everyone knows how to react with a fire. But an active shooter is another story.” According to Pierson Principal Jeff Nichols, the school district has been conducting an average of five drills a year which include lockdown, lockout, and early dismissal drills. “After each drill is completed we review it as a team,” added Elementary Principal Matthew Malone. “Then we review the safety protocols with the administrative staff and students.”Assemblyman Fred Thiele and Legislator Bridget Fleming, both Pierson High School graduates, spoke at the forum. Fleming and Thiele emphasized the importance of the school administration engaging the community and parents in this type of discussion. Thiele stated that it is important to “maintain a constant vigilance.” As a representative for 20 different school districts, the assemblyman said he is pushing to ensure that, “expenses spent on these security resources should be exempt from the tax cap.”Fleming assured parents and community members in attendance that there is a great deal has been done to enhance the security of the school. “We can’t really talk about it because we don’t want the bad guys to know,” she said. Both Fleming, Police Chief Austin McGuire, and Superintendent Graves emphasized the “See something, say something” philosophy.Ensuring the safety of students “is a balancing act. How do we have a safe open learning environment and still keep the children safe? We think about this every day. We certainly don’t want the children to be scared every day. But, we need to strengthen our security,” Graves said. She said the forum was scheduled to determine the community’s feelings on the matter.“Understand that this is the first generation of kids who have had to deal with this,” added Chief McGuire. “We need to do the right things to keep them safe.” The Village Police have participated in the drills that take place at the school and provide a presence at school events including outdoor events.A member of the audience who described himself as a “Sag Harbor Lifer” raised concern over the student walkout planned for Wednesday, March 14. “They can’t be prisoners. They need to be able to go outside … but they are sitting ducks out there.” Chief McGuire indicated that police presence will be provided during the walkout.The superintendent described the protocols used when the students were outside the building. She stated “staff carries radios. It’s not the best system and we are looking to improve it.” To date, Ms. Graves indicated that they have installed over 100 cameras in the school, have instituted a picture identification electronic swipe card system for staff, as well as a visitor management system, installed “state of the art lockdown technology,” installed special tempered glass in access areas as well as emergency strobe lights and improved door locks.When the forum was opened to the audience for feedback, many raised similar concerns. One parent stated that she brings lunch to her child and arrives at the school to find “no one’s around.”Parents asked why there was no visible police presence at the school. Some requested that security guards be hired.Others raised concerns over events held by the school. “Spirit Night there was no security. People were coming from all over. The doors were open and anyone could come in,” stated a freshman parent. Several others asked why there were no metal detectors. “I had to go through a metal detector to pay a parking ticket. Aren’t our children more important than a parking ticket?” asked another parent. Although the superintendent could not promise that all these requests would be implemented, she indicated that it was extremely important to the district to see how the parents and community felt about security in the school.“It’s a dose of reality,” she said “that we think about every day.” Share Chief of Police McGuire (L), Fred Thiele, Bridget Flemming (R)last_img read more

Foster Wheeler awarded multi-billion dollar contract

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JCT construction contracts and coronavirus, clause by clause

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Ko-Mats revamps website

first_imgAugust Oude Hengle, managing director of Ko-Mats, commented: “The main reason behind upgrading our website was due to the diversity of the visitors and potential clients, as well as to show heavy lifting companies around the globe the advantages of timber mats, and what Ko-Mats can offer as additional services.”  www.ko-mats.comlast_img