Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Wastebook 2011: U.S. Gov’t Flipping Flapjacks on Your Dime

The International House of Pancakes on 14th St. Northwest is open 24 hours a day.  It’s also been open to criticism ever since it was learned that the restaurant was built with about $800,000 in government money; money from a federal program designed to revitalize rundown neighborhoods, a description that clearly no longer applies to the Columbia Heights neighborhood where the IHOP is located.

Sammy 12:29 PM | (2) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
FDA Collaboration to Monitor Rare Eye Condition…
The Bay Net

... Associated with Cataract Surgery

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other government and professional organizations unveiled a program to monitor medical devices used in cataract surgery in an effort to stem outbreaks of a rare, inflammatory condition associated with the procedure.

The Proactive TASS Program (PTP) is designed to reveal outbreaks of Toxic Anterior Segment Syndrome (TASS) early with the goal of minimizing the number of people affected.

Outbreaks of TASS over the past 11 years have affected patients from hundreds of surgical centers in North America. In some cases, the FDA traced the cause to contaminated products used during anterior segment surgery, resulting in recalls of several different ophthalmic devices. In other cases investigators were unable to determine the cause.

Sammy 12:23 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Wood Prepares for 26th Legislative Session
Dick Myers ― The Bay Net

Maryland Delegate John F. Wood, Jr. will be starting his 26th Maryland General Assembly session when the legislature convenes on January 11th just two days before Wood’s 76th birthday.

When asked if he still enjoys it, Wood (D: 29A) quickly responded, “Some days it gets frustrating at times,” but then as quickly modified his answer to say “I always enjoy being able to help people.” In fact Wood considers constituent service, being able to help people through the bureaucratic maze, as the most rewarding part of his job.

Wood was an influential chairman of the House Commerce and Government Matters Committee when he was stripped of that role for failure to adhere to party lines. He said the move was punishment. “Politics is like making sausage,” he observed. But it turned out okay for St. Mary’s County because Wood now sits on the even more-influential Appropriations Committee and is vice chairman of the public safety and administration subcommittee.

Sammy 12:20 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Dept. of Emergency Services Phone Service Scheduled for Dec. 28

Administrative Phone Lines Down for 24 Hours

The Charles County Department of Emergency Services would like to notify citizens that the phone system at the Emergency Services administrative building (10425 Audie Lane, La Plata) will be out of service on Wednesday December 28, due to scheduled maintenance. This maintenance will not affect 9-1-1 service; residents should call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency.


Sammy 12:17 PM | (1) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
From Facebook:  Mattawoman Watershed Society

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN THE OUTCOME OF THE COMP PLAN: the developers, et al have sent in almost 900 letters (mostly form letters from an e-site) compared to maybe 90 from our side- COME ONE- You have til January 20th to email Amy Blessinger comments…remember to get any and everyone- those who like to fish, swim, boat, see historical sites or like the trails.. Family or other visitors to the Coun…ty even. I just got word from Amy Blessinger that “The comment deadline has been extended to January 20.”

Comment to Amy at: BlessingA@charlescounty.org


Sammy 12:11 PM | (7) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Growing wealth widens distance between lawmakers and constituents
Peter Whoriskey, ― Washington Post

When Myers entered Congress, in 1975, it wasn’t nearly so unusual for a person with few assets besides a home to win and serve in Congress. Though lawmakers on Capitol Hill have long been more prosperous than other Americans, others of that time included a barber, a pipe fitter and a house painter. A handful had even organized into what was called the “Blue Collar Caucus.”

But the financial gap between Americans and their representatives in Congress has widened considerably since then, according to an analysis of financial disclosures by The Washington Post.

Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home ­equity.

Sammy 09:55 AM | (6) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Debate Persists on Deadly Flu Made Airborne
DENISE GRADY and DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. ― New York Times

The young scientist, normally calm and measured, seemed edgy when he stopped by his boss’s office.

“You are not going to believe this one,” he told Ron Fouchier, a virologist at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. “I think we have an airborne H5N1 virus.”

The news, delivered one afternoon last July, was chilling. It meant that Dr. Fouchier’s research group had taken one of the most dangerous flu viruses ever known and made it even more dangerous — by tweaking it genetically to make it more contagious.
The discovery has led advisers to the United States government, which paid for the research, to urge that the details be kept secret and not published in scientific journals to prevent the work from being replicated by terrorists, hostile governments or rogue scientists.

Sammy 09:47 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
New IRS reporting requirements kick in for fund firms in 2012
Eileen Ambrose ― Baltimore Sun

If you own mutual funds outside a retirement account, you likely have heard from the investment companies asking you to choose your math.

The companies want you to select the method they should use to calculate your “cost basis” — how much you paid for the shares. What you decide can make a difference in your tax bill when you sell.

The fund companies are acting on legislation passed in 2008 that requires brokerages and investment companies to report cost-basis information to the Internal Revenue Service when securities are sold.

Sammy 09:45 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Erosion control to change face of Dobbins
TIM PRATT ― The Capital

The cliffs of Dobbins Island could one day be replaced by steep, grassy hillsides if the state approves an extensive erosion control project planned on the Magothy River landmark.

Island owner David Clickner wants to build his dream house on top of the island.

But to complete an erosion control project that will meet state and county standards, Clickner has applied for permission to build banks from the top of the island’s cliffs down to points as far as 45 feet into the river around much of the island.

The banks, which would be built up with tens of thousands of cubic yards of fill dirt and covered with native grasses, are planned along more than 2,500 feet of shoreline. A stone revetment would be set up along the mean high tide line to help prevent erosion.

Sammy 09:40 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Bay Bridge revenue up 25 percent

After increase last month, bridge traffic dips 2 percent

New, higher tolls on the Bay Bridge netted the state about $739,000 more last month than during the same month in 2010, according to preliminary statistics released by the Maryland Transportation Authority.

In all, the Bay Bridge brought in $3.67 million in November - the first full month after the state raised the toll on passenger vehicles from $2.50 to $4. Tolls on commercial vehicles are scheduled to rise Sunday.

Year-over-year revenue increased about 25.2 percent in November 2011 compared to November 2010. Revenue from passenger vehicles increased 40.2 percent.

Sammy 09:35 AM | (1) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Coal’s Power: Coal energy output outstrips gas, nuclear combined
Erich Schwartzel ― Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The coal called “king” in this region, an acknowledgment of its presence and power, sometimes seems in danger of facing a coup.

Just in the past week, federal agencies announced stricter regulations on pollution for coal-fired plants, with even former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis filming commercials to strong-arm legislators into passing the restrictions.

Add into the mix a natural gas boom that’s overwhelming the region and its lawmakers. Then there are the alternative options such as nuclear and wind energy that have won endorsements from the White House.

With the pressure coming from all sides, the monarchy appears threatened.

Sammy 09:32 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Federal workers’ pay gains are the slowest in 10 years
Dennis Cauchon ― USA TODAY

The paychecks of federal workers grew at the slowest pace in a decade this year, held down by a partial pay freeze. But federal employees still did slightly better than workers in the private sector or at state and local governments, a USA TODAY analysis found.

Federal pay rose an average of 1.3% for the budget year that ended Sept. 30, according to newly released federal data. By comparison, the wages of private workers rose 1.2% during the period, the same rate as state and local government pay growth, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

None of the wage gains kept pace with inflation.

Sammy 09:29 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
US cities struggle to control sewer overflows
JOHN FLESHER ― Frederick News-Post

Twice in recent summers, visitors to parts of Michigan’s western coast were greeted by mounds of garbage strewn along miles of sandy beach: plastic bottles, eating utensils, food wrappers, even hypodermic syringes.

At least some of the rubbish had drifted across Lake Michigan from Milwaukee, a vivid reminder that many cities still flush nasty stuff into streams and lakes during heavy storms, fouling the waters with bacteria and viruses that can make people seriously ill.

Thousands of overflows from sewage systems that collect storm water and wastewater are believed to occur each year. Regulators and environmentalists want them stopped, and since the late 1990s the Environmental Protection Agency or state officials have reached legal agreements with more than 40 cities or counties — Atlanta, Los Angeles, Baltimore, St. Louis and Indianapolis among them — to improve wastewater systems that in some cases are a century old. Costs are reaching hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.

Sammy 09:23 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Sears to close 100 to 120 Kmart, Sears stores
Daily Record

Between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores will be closed, the retailer said Tuesday, after terrible holiday sales during what is the most crucial time of the year for retailers.

Sears has yet to determine which stores will be closed, but there has been a clear shift in where the retailer will devote its resources.

The company is moving away from its practice of propping up “marginally performing” stores in hopes of improving their performance. Sears said it will now concentrate on cash-generating stores.

Sammy 09:17 AM | (6) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Dyson Ready to Fight Tax Increases
Dick Myers ― The Bay Net

As Maryland State Senator Roy Dyson (D: 29th) enters his 18th session in that position next month, he is optimistic that there will be no effect from the 90-day session on the state’s taxpayers. That may be a tall order considering the state has a more-than-$1 billion shortfall and the legislature is required to pass a balanced budget.

Dyson, before winning the election in 1993 to represent St. Mary’s and portion of Calvert and Charles, served in the U.S. House of Representatives during the Reagan administration and before that was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates. The conservative Democrat is in unabashed admirer of Reagan,
with several pictures of himself with the “Great Communicator” prominently displayed on the walls of his Great Mills office.

Concerns about proposed increases in the gasoline tax and the flush tax were on the minds of several constituents who met with Dyson on December 19 at the Lexington Park Library for a town hall meeting.

Sammy 09:14 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
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